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Archive for April, 2010

I’ve found the silver lining to this nasty storm cloud of an economy; the communal reaming we’re all getting from corporations is bringing us closer together.

This weekend, I was on a flight from Boston to Los Angeles.  It had been a while since I’d flown, so I was unprepared for the new charges with which airlines have been robbing customers.

At the ticket counter, I was made to pay twenty-five dollars to check in one piece of luggage, though the airline was kind enough to let me bring my purse along for free.  If I wanted to watch the crap movie shown on the flight, I’d have to purchase headphones.  And should I have the need to eat during the six-hour plus flight, I would be required to pay for a meal, forcing me to consider how much a piece of cardboard flavored lasagna and stale bread roll was worth to me.

“So, what exactly do I get on this flight?”  I asked the check-in gal.

Usually when you’re a smartass to counter help, you get spit in your beverage or a lot of lip.  But Ms. Check In simply looked at me, gave me an apologetic smile and said, “ummm,” which I knew meant, “nothin’, doll.”

Deciding to buy dinner in the airport, I went to one of those faux healthy fast food restaurants where you pay extra for the illusion that the meat on your sandwich may have come from a real-live animal.  The sweet girl behind the counter offered me tap water when I cringed at the three dollar price tag for a bottle.  She also tossed in a few extra mustard packets and directed me to a kiosk down the way where the chips were cheaper.  When the customer beside me forked over four bucks for a chocolate chip cookie, the three of us shared looks of recognition and pain as if we were reunited siblings who’d been separated at birth.

However, I didn’t get such kindness at Starbucks, where I bought a six dollar cup of coffee and a muffin for which I needed to take out a loan.  After being told the purchase price of a banana was a dollar and eighteen cents, I joked to the cashier, “what, does it vibrate?”

He didn’t think I was funny.

But the guy in line behind me did and I made my next airport friend.  The two of us bonded over fuel charges and high-priced packs of bubblegum.  We talked about his family’s struggles since both he and the wife were laid off.  We spent an hour commiserating and supporting one another before getting on our respective flights.  Parting was such sweet sorrow.

By the time I got on the plane, I wasn’t surprised to find one of the meager meals on offer was a cheese plate available for ten dollars.  I half expected the flight attendant to announce, “if you’d like a flow of oxygen during your flight, you will be charged twenty dollars.  There’s a thirty-dollar fee for disembarking from the plane upon landing.  And all passengers in rows ten to fifteen must fellate the pilot before takeoff.”

I quickly became friends with the two other passengers in my row.  The accountant beside me gave the woman in the next seat his headphones so she wouldn’t have to buy them, and I let him have my complementary soda so he could have an extra drink.

The accountant told me he had to make the long flight from LA to Boston at least twice a month because his office had been downsized and he was taking over other accounts.

“Have you at least had a chance to discover Boston?”  I asked.

“I’m in and out,” he said.  “I’d take extra time but can’t afford it.  Maybe one day…”

There isn’t much more to wish for right now than for the world to get out of this economic dark hole.  Still, there’s something encouraging about this shared struggle and sense of solidarity as we help each other or at least lend an ear.

The  only party pooper on the flight was a southerner who couldn’t find space in the overhead bin so loudly complained how New Englanders are “a bunch of liberals, but not when it comes to sharing space.”

I thought about saying, “give us a break, jerk face.  We’ve already given up so much.”

Instead, I cleared space for him in the bin above my seat, smiled and wished him a safe journey.

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When you have a blog, you can see the key words people type into search engines that lead them to your site.  Recently, I discovered someone had Googled, “hot women passionate about Jesus,” and ended up with me.

Strange, because I’ve never written about the man and don’t consider myself very religious.  I’m more of an over-philosophizing, crystal collecting spiritualist than a God-fearing church goer.  But I dig Jesus.  Mind you, Last Temptation of Christ Jesus.  Not FOX News Jesus.

In fact, I think everyone should dig Jesus.  We may live in barbarous, blasphemous times with all kinds of fundamentalist cuckoos fighting for control over our lives and minds.  But poor Jesus has nothing to do with any of that baloney.

I imagine him as this handsome fellow roaming the land of Israel like an existential hippie.  A psychologically tortured but sensitive man, he saw how gorgeous the world can be, how gracious life is, how sensual are the pleasures on hand.  But he also knew how cruel people are to each other, how brutal the trials of existence, how tempting it is to do wrong.  I imagine people gathered around him because he gave meaning to their struggle, comforted them within the chaos of life and roused their desire to be happy and good.

Jesus as a person wasn’t always so interesting to me.  I’m from one of those Protestant families who would only go to church on Christmas then just stopped bothering altogether unless there was a funeral or wedding.  Mostly, I’ve depended on theorists and poets to help me figure out the meaning of life.  But I once took a trip to San Sebastian, Spain, where they have one of those gigantic statues of Christ standing on a mountaintop with outstretched hands.  For some inexplicable reason, I needed to see him up close.  My pilgrimage took a mere twenty minutes, but I was transformed.  It felt good to be sitting beneath him.  I felt protected up there on a mountain overlooking the vast sea, wishing I lived in a world where love was the root of all things.

What would Jesus think of our world today?  I think he’d want us to enjoy sex, to make art instead of money, to allow ourselves the overwhelming doubt that we’re here for a reason.  He probably wouldn’t support our wars or decide boys were only allowed to marry girls or laugh at reality television.

Sometimes when my friends are complaining about some love interest who doesn’t call enough, or judging a new partner based on some arbitrary set of requirements, or contemplating cheating on a spouse because he or she doesn’t pay enough attention, I wonder what Jesus would say if he were writing a blog.  I bet he’d tell us to value our time and each other and stop triflin’.

During this hour of mystical pondering triggered by the Google search to my blog, I hadn’t really thought about how the words, “hot women passionate about Jesus,” could come together in the same search.  Then I had a startling revelation.  The Googler was probably some dude looking for just that: “hot women [who are] passionate about Jesus.”  What did he want with these women?  Was he looking for Christian porn?  Was he a born again, too, who wanted some nasty girl who loved Jesus as much as he did?  Do they make those kinds of girls?  Or was he a heathen who only wanted to debase some innocent child of God?  Here I was contemplating the universe, all because of some horn dog looking for sexy Jesus freaks to shag.

So much for revelation.

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I’m not a good girl.  I’m not exactly bad.  But, man, am I miles away from being good.

On my way to work last week, I watched a blonde Goody Two Shoes step onto my train.  She was one of those dimpled, bright-eyed innocents who smiles so chastely and courteously at passersby, you’d think she was about to curtsy.  As opposed to me in my knee-high boots and rumpled leather jacket, she wore pearls, a pretty headband and a blouse that apparently had been ironed.  Hell, she was wearing a blouse.  The gal was darn sweet reading her Martha Stewart Living magazine and grinning like a Girl Scout.

Maybe Goody Two Shoes has a whole world of mayhem inside her.  Maybe she secretly pulls the wings from butterflies and is a monster in the sack.  But the fact is there are “ladies” out there.  And I’m not one of them.

I’m not a bad girl.  I can hold down a job, I don’t have an unhealthy relationship with substances, my friends can count on me.  I’m loyal in love, not crazy or manipulative.  And while not all my smiles are chaste, I offer them to everyone I see.  But the word ‘unique’ has been used to describe me.  So has ‘marches to the beat of her own drum.’

I wanted to be a good girl.  As a child, I fantasized becoming Sandy Dumbrowski in Grease.  I preferred goody goody Olivia Newton-John singing “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” over tart Olivia singing “You’re the One that I Want.”  But then stuff happened.  Dramas and intrigue and complications.  Boys.  Life has been messy ever since.

Seeing Smiley McHeadband on the train the other day made me wonder if the problem is I’m just no good.  Maybe if I was a good girl, a nine-to-five job and house with a white picket fence would be all I’d expect from my time on the planet.  Maybe I wouldn’t see photographs of European capitals or remote corners of Asian countries and feel I’m missing out on life sitting behind a desk.  Maybe I would see writing and art as a charming way to pass leisure time, but not worth the heartbreak of devoting oneself to them.  Maybe I wouldn’t care so much about health care bills passing and whether children in third world villages are getting enough to eat.  Maybe a friendly guy with a well-paid job would be enough to keep me romantically satisfied.  Maybe I wouldn’t need the emergence of Nazi paraphernalia to finally convince me Jesse James is no longer hot.

I imagine Smiley looks at women in knee-high boots and wonders what life would be if she had a few more edges.  And I know we booted women look at ladies in pearls and wish life were sometimes more refined.  But what’s special about living is you get to have those moments on a subway train where you lock eyes with someone from the other side of the tracks, admire the choices she’s made for herself and secretly wish her well.

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For those of you gals obsessing over the size of your ass and the extent of your bootyliciousness, I’ve got two words for you: chicken feed.

Seems Jamaican women are buying the pills farmers use to fatten up their poultry in order to make their bums bigger.  Seems Jamaican men dig broader hips and wider bottoms, seeing them as a sign of power, health and wealth.  Thus, scads of young ladies in search of the “Coca-Cola bottle shape” are ingesting these so-called chicken pills.

Oh, and by the way, they’re laced with arsenic.

In contrast to Jamaican women gobbling down chicken feed just to get some junk in their trunks, women in the States are destroying date nights by asking their boyfriends if “these pants” makes their trunks look too big.  No chicken feed for us.  But before you go patting yourself on the back for being a highly principled American gal, please note that your compatriots are now spending oodles of cash on cosmetic surgery to get, of all things, dimples.  Of course, Asian women are still undergoing surgery to get Western-looking eyes, and African women are still using cake makeup and skin whitening chemicals to look more Anglo.

Meanwhile, concerned about the ever-increasing demand from women to improve their appearances, men are starting to tuck in their shirts.

In our globalized world, beauty standards have been broadened a bit to include what was formerly known as exotic.  So why are women still killing themselves to fit one boring mold?  And why is that mold still Barbie, mind you, with a sugar booty?

As a pubescent girl in small town Ohio, I used to stand in front of the mirror on a regular basis studying my own physical development.  Like many girls, this self-discovery turned to self-loathing once I started liking boys and realized my features looked nothing like those of the girls they chased around the playground.

My butt was the worst.  Like a half moon, it stuck out more than anybody else’s.  Throughout childhood, I fantasized somehow whittling it down.  I also pressed the sides of my nose together to make it look thinner, forced my mother to straighten my curly hair and promised to drink whatever potion would make my brown skin become pure as driven snow.  Barbie sans booty.

But then came that wonderful moment in adulthood, when I looked in the mirror and was no longer bothered by what I saw.  It wasn’t any sweet, Oprah-esque notion of self-acceptance.  It was realizing I hadn’t fallen into the vortex of self-annihilation, where you spend a lifetime trying to fit someone else’s limited definition of beauty and come out looking like every other girl at the bar.

Sure, there are things about myself I’d like to improve, but none of them involve chemical interventions or surgery.  I wish more women could dig themselves, just as I wish I could go back to the little girl loathing herself in the mirror.  I’d tell her she was still worth a glance despite not having a button nose or alabaster skin.  I’d tell her not to worry about her rear sticking out too much.  In fact, nowadays, with the advent of J Lo, Beyoncé and King magazine, I fear it doesn’t stick out enough.

Maybe I should invest in some chicken feed.

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