I Hate Father’s Day

Not surprising, right?  Because, as you may recall, I hate Mother’s Day.   But now that the Father’s Day ads have become overwhelming, I’m reminded why I hate this holiday so much, much more.  And for such different reasons.  

See, my father left.  I never knew him at all, and in the only photos I have with him, I’m less than a year old.  He also put up a huge battle against paying child support, including hiding out of state for many years (after a judge in Florida said “if I see you here again, bring your toothbrush”), and not marrying his longtime girlfriend so we couldn’t try to find him that way.  Thankfully, by the time I was in high school, Hallmark had caught up with reality and sold Father’s Day cards for mothers.  Loved that!   (Digression:  I’m not saying there weren’t some great men in my life – my uncles were the best, as was my childhood priest.   But Father’s Day…meh.)

Back to the money, though.  Once my paternal grandmother passed (and my one meeting with her is a whole story in itself, along with the one time I saw (and I do mean only “saw”) my father as a pre-teen), and he moved into the family home back in Charleston, my mother got the order of support enforced.  He paid – until we lost my mother – and then he stopped.  At that point, I was the only one who though pursuing it was worth it, and when he finally died, the only one who thought we should pursue the estate.  

I didn’t, though.  It seemed too upsetting for the rest of my family.

I heard many different reasons over the years for why my father left – not from my mother, who never said a word against him, amazingly, until I was old enough to push her about the money – but from various other family members.  When I was very young – maybe four or five – I overheard the following at a party:  “Nick left because Flora wasn’t a boy.”   I was also told, to my face, in a moment whose cruelty I hope is never matched, that he left because he thought I wasn’t his.  (Another digression: As much as I could almost be a twin to my mother, and to her mother, I have certain physical characteristics that are only recognizable as my father’s.  My ears, for example.) 

And no, I don’t have some profound point I’m making here.  Just that I hate Father’s Day.

On This Memorial Day

“If you appreciate their service, give them a sign…” before it is too late.

Small Cages Of Joy

I’m lucky.   Despite the whining and complaining I sometimes let spill out about my kennels of irritation, I actually do know I’m really, really lucky.

So this morning during my Bikram class, a random thought floated through my brain (as often happens):  “What’s the opposite of ‘kennels of irritation’?”  And the phrase “small cages of joy” drifted to the surface… 

Okay, okay, it’s weird.  But somehow, it works.  It works perfectly. 

What exactly are “small cages of joy”, you ask?  Well, “it’s the little things”… a few examples: 

1)  My friend who thought to send flowers to my apartment the day I had a biopsy (yes, it was benign!  And that’s a big cage of joy!).  And on that note, the genuine pleasure about those results I felt from the small number of my friends who knew.

2) My Bikram breakthroughs of late…no drinking during class, for one.  For two, seeing my right foot over my head in Standing Bow – finally – for the first time in almost seven years.  (The left foot has always been the more cooperative one.  Hmph.)  For three – wait, can you say “for three”?  should I be saying “too” or “also”? – oh, the hell with it – for three, the minute movement my foot is making toward my calf in Eagle.  And I do mean minute.  But I saw it.  It happened.

3) The text I got thanking me for my help on something – when I had been convinced my help had been taken for granted.

4) The unabashedly excited welcome my cats give me every time I come home.   Even if I just went to take out the garbage.

5)  The silly, yet utterly necessary, emails that my sisters and I send back and forth all day while we’re all at our separate jobs, in separate states. 

6) Wine. 

7) Bourbon.

8)  And especially…rye.

And Now For Something Completely Different

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And that says it all.

If It’s Easy, You’re Not Doing It Right

All the commercials about weight loss and exercise are making me crazy.  “It’s so easy!”  seems to be the common theme.  Well, you know what?  Weight loss and proper exercise is not easy.   It’s hard work, and it takes focus, attention, and commitment.

In 2008-09, I lost almost 50 pounds on Weight Watchers, and it was hard.  I’ve gained some again, so I’m back on Plan, and it’s hard.  I’ve been practicing Bikram Yoga for almost seven years, and it’s hard.  But see, I don’t think hard work is a bad thing.  I actually think one of the continuing causes of the obesity epidemic in this country is the weight lose companies trying to sell weight loss as easy.  And don’t get me started on the exercise machines…though, yes, some of them do help – if you work hard.

Add to the “it’s easy” campaigns the expense of most of this crap, and it’s understandable that the war on fat is not helping the people who need it most.  I’m very fortunate that I can afford to exercise the way I choose, and that I can pay a monthly fee to Weight Watchers, and that I can buy exactly the foods that support my journey.

There was actually one specific commercial that set me off today, for a new documentary – “The Weight Of The Nation”  – that purports to examine this issue.  Probably worth watching, right?  Maybe a chance to get the message out that you can take care of yourself and your family without having some (or any) of the advantages that I (and I bet you) have?  Well, a lot of people won’t see it, and there is probably a higher percentage among the economically disadvantaged.  Why, you ask?  Because it’s airing on HBO.  I don’t know about you, but cable itself is pricey enough that I don’t spend extra on premium channels, and if I did, they would not be where I was looking for life-saving information.

So, network television – step up to the plate.  Air this documentary.  And yes, air it for free.  A bunch of times.  Federal agencies, step up to the plate -regulate the false claims in weight loss/exercise commercials (beyond a tiny tagline saying “results not typical”).

And what should we do?   Work hard.  Set an example.  Reach out to others.  And stop pretending that anything worth having comes easy.

I Have A Confession To Make

And okay, smart-asses, before you say it – yes, just one.  At least for today. 

Sometimes I hate my yoga practice.  Abhor it.  Detest it.  Loathe it.  Wonder why I would ever go back.  And yet I do, four, five, sometimes six times a week.  I drag myself out of my cozy, though sleepless, bed, abandon my adorably needy cats, brave the crazies on the 5:45 am subway, and sweat it out for ninety minutes.    All in the name of stubborn.

It would be just lovely to say I do this for some higher purpose – my health, my sanity, my (ahem) good looks – but that would be a lie.  It truly is all in the name of stubborn.  I decided almost seven years that I love Bikram Yoga, and I’m damn well not going to change my mind now.

Hey, at least if I’m going to be this stubborn, I can legitmately claim there are good things that can come out of this particular blind spot.  And we all know that’s not usually true – usually stubborn takes us down the path of No Progress to the land of Nothing Good.

So, in this one case, I’m going to own my stubborn, and keep dragging my sorry ass to Bikram even when I hate it…right down the path of Slow Progress to the land of Something Good.

Damn Those Brits!

Well, once again, the British have shown us up.  I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, but I was stunned. 

So, in January, 2012, The Stage published their annual guide to the 100 most influential people working in the UK theatre industry. Unlike the Backstage list I maligned here, almost half of the top twenty are women.  I don’t actually have anything profound to say about this, but I felt compelled to point it out.

The obvious comment would be to jump on how the United States, the so-called “land of opportunity”, still has major issues of gender, racial, socio-economic, and on, and on, and on, equality.  Well, sure we do.  And so does the UK.   And so does every country on earth.  The less obvious question is what does it mean for me?  Well, it means I’ll never vote Republican, especially not given the current state of that party.  But more importantly, it reminds me of my beloved mother, and something she taught me by example:

All you can do is the best you can do.  No complaints.  No excuses.

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