Saturday, June 30, 2012

Getting There

We had a three and a half hour derby movement workshop tonight, so we can start piecing this show together - see what works and what doesn't and whatnot. And for maybe the first time that I have skated with my team mates, I felt pretty good. I know I still have work to do, but I feel like I'm making progress. Noticeable progress. And maybe I'm not so far behind that I won't be able to catch up.

I expressed some of my concerns to one team mate and she said she didn't think anyone was worried that I won't get there. The writer and director remarked at the end of the night that they can see tremendous progress so far, too, which helped a lot. I know I will continue to be my own harshest critic, but it is nice to know that so far, they're not disappointed in me. It makes me want to work that little smidge harder to make sure I don't let them down in the future either.

And it felt good to skate. It felt good to move. It felt good to sweat and jam and talk to my team mates. I felt like part of the group this time, like someone who could contribute instead of someone who was holding everyone else back. I needed that.

All that said, I'm betting I'm going to need new knees at some point in my life. They sound like bubble wrap when I walk up stairs.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Note to Shoemakers


I'm guessing that most shoe designers out there are men. At least those designing the really expensive women's shoes that are supposed to make our calves look all shapely and whatnot. And that's fine - there is no reason men can't design women's shoes. I would like to point out that it might behoove them to wear some women's shoes from time to time so they have a better idea how the product they are designing functions, but whatever. If they have not tried this approach, I would like to offer up a couple of suggestions.

1) High heels are not comfortable. I don't care who you are or how long you have been wearing them; if you are at the point where high heels are comfortable, it is because you have killed all of the nerve endings in your feet and/or built up callouses that could, by themselves, qualify as shoes. There is nothing in human anatomy that makes walking around on the balls of your feet all day comfortable. We are not built like elephants. Though if you want to take a tip from elephant physiology, if you must design high heels, put a huge pad of gristle under our heels to relieve the stress on our bones. Which is why wedges are more comfortable than high heels.
1a) Another thing that helps the pain of high heels a bit is the platform heel - that extra cushioning under the ball of the foot is actually really nice and since the platform ads extra height by itself, the angle of the foot doesn't always need to be so severe to achieve the desired taller look with the sexy calves. I'm just sayin'. Yay for the person(s) who brought platforms back.
2) There are lots of ladies shoes that women like to wear without any sort of hosiery - sandals, open toed shoes, ballet flats in the summertime. It would be really nice if the interior of these shoes was not simply glued in place because as un-lady-like as it seems, women's feet sweat. Sweat undoes glue. Which means the part of the shoe in direct contact with the lady's foot becomes bunchy, uncomfortable, and sometimes sticky. I realize that this might be intentional, so as to inspire her to throw them out and go buy new shoes. But as shoe styles change all of the time and some are just plain hideous, once a lady finds a shoe she likes, it can be traumatic to have them die in a couple of weeks when she is unable to find a replacement pair that work equally well with so many of her outfits. Either keep some styles constant so replacements are easy to find, or attach shoe linings with something other than glue.
3) Along the same lines, and for similar reasons, shoe linings probably shouldn't be leather or pleather or any other material that just doesn't breathe. Again, feet sweat. Sweat on leather = ick.
4) Flip-flops are not shoes. Stop trying to sell them to us like they are acceptable footwear for locations other than the shower at the gym or by the pool.
5) If you plan on making shoes with lots of straps crossing back and forth over the foot, be careful where you place said straps and how wide they are. A very thin strap of some sort of unforgiving material (plastic, pleather, etc) across the toes right where the toe meets the foot is just going to end up digging into the wearer's foot and causing blisters. Same with really stiff heel-areas on shoes. If there is something sharp right about where her foot bends naturally, she will get a blister and will stop wearing the shoes.

So with these things in mind, I expect to see a whole slew of new, comfy shoes hitting the market in the upcoming season. I hope you've enjoyed this installment of "Please Make Things I'd Actually Like to Wear," and we'll see you next time when we tackle trousers - how to make trousers that allow women to have curves without flashing everyone seated behind her.

Friday, June 08, 2012

BEDJ 8 - A Drabble

"I look like an idiot," thinks the movie star in water wings as she begrudgingly dips her toe in the shallow end. "But we all have to start somewhere, right?"

The three year old in a pink and orange bathing suit leaps from the high dive and enters the water with no splash. She comes up giggling, splashing, playing with complete abandon. She spies her favorite movie star across the pool and offers up a shy smile before hurling herself back into the water.

Their thoughts meet in mid-air: "When I grow up, I want to be just like you."

A drabble is a short work of fiction in 100 words.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

BEDJ 5 - Really?

Today's suggested topic for Blog Every Day in June is Television. Today is also the day of the Venus Transit - when Venus passes between the Sun and Earth. There is a connection here; trust me.

I was re-watching the brilliant British re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes last night, appropriately titled Sherlock, and there is one episode wherein we find out that Sherlock doesn't know that Earth revolves around the Sun. It's funny and he has an excuse (he uses his brain for really important information and it really doesn't effect his deductive reasoning skills to know where Earth is located in relation to the Sun) for not knowing and it helps knock Mr. Super Crazy Brilliant down a peg. It's good for a laugh. The whole show is brilliant, and if you're not watching it, you should be.

Which brings me to the Venus Transit. This is an event that will not happen again until 2117, so if you want to see it, do so today. It should start at about 5:05 CDT, so the parts of the world that are dark and sleepy just then probably won't be able to see anything. My first thought was to get a shoe box, poke a hole in it, and see if I can observe the event that way - like how we watched solar eclipses when I was a kid. You know, because looking directly at the sun without protection is bad. Very bad.

But then I hear conversation floating around in my office about where Earth falls in the solar system (My Very English Mother Jumped Straight Up Near Pluto, or My Very English Mother Jumped Straight Up Now, since Pluto has been lumped in with an asteroid belt and demoted from planetary status), and people genuinely surprised to find that Venus is closer to the Sun than we are, but Mars is not. Because, really, how is Venus supposed to pass between us and the Sun if it is farther away from the Sun than we are? There was also talk in this conversation about viewing the event through sunglasses. And unlike on the brilliant British television program, this unawareness of our place in the universe was not funny. It actually made me really sad that my colleagues didn't know this stuff. How do you get to this position in corporate America not knowing this stuff?

Is this because I'm too much of a sci-fi geek? Do I like and remember science stuff too much?

So anyway, tonight, may I suggest you take a break from whatever television program you happen to be watching (it will likely still be there when you get back, since we all watch stuff on Netflix and Hulu and DVRs anyway), and go outside with an appropriate viewing device to watch the Venus Transit as best you can from millions of miles away.

Monday, June 04, 2012

BEDJ 4 - Dirty Talk

I would like (you would, would you?), if I may (you may) to take you (where?) through the sordid story of my trouble with toilets.

Sorry. Y'all thought this was going to be THAT kind of dirty, didn't you? No, this blog is brought on by the fact that I almost forgot over the weekend just how messed up the toilet in the ladies room at work is.

I would like to think that most people who know me know that I am a fairly easy going person. I get immense joy out of the smallest things and sometimes, I need to "dream bigger," as my best friend told me over the weekend when I spotted a cute derby-adjacent boy in a Misfits t-shirt. One thing that would bring me almost unspeakable joy is if I could get to a place in my life where all of the toilets I encounter on a regular basis work the way they are supposed to without extra effort on my part. I know - dream bigger.

But think about it - the automatic flush toilets in public restrooms that flush as you sit down, but then have to be flushed manually as you stand up. The toilet in the half-bathroom downstairs where you have to jiggle then handle. The toilet in your local theater or coffee shop that has a sign above it asking you to hold the handle down until it flushes all the way. Why do we have such problems getting toilets to work properly?

There are two stalls in the ladies room at work - a smallish one and a larger handicapped accessible one (which is a bit of a joke because you have to go up stairs to even get to the freight elevator in this building, so how someone in a wheelchair would make it to our third floor bathroom is beyond me - unless they arrived in the back of a freight-type truck and could wheel onto the loading dock). There are also only two women in my office (it's a smallish company), and she prefers the larger stall and I prefer the smaller stall, so it's like we each have our own toilet. For a while, both of them were having problems, though - you have to jiggle the handle or "prime" them before you could actually flush them. Something about the tanks refilling with water. Whatever.

My toilet, however, has taken a recent nose dive. The filler float somehow doesn't ever get low enough to trigger the toilet to refill. A week or so ago, I decided to just leave the lid off of the toilet tank so instead of going in and "priming" the toilet for use by jiggling the handle, I can prime it by pushing the filler float down just enough for the tank to refill. There is a seemingly random chain attached to the filler float that isn't attached to anything on the other end, but I'm not a plumber, so I don't know where that chain goes. I do know it occasionally gets sucked under the flush valve flapper assembly, which lets all of the water being pumped in to refill the tank drain out immediately. To fix this, I just drape the chain over the filler float assembly until it falls off again.

Then there is the matter of the hose that refills the tank with water - it will occasionally get stuck under the flush valve as well, so I had to sort of pin it behind a random bit of pipe to keep it out of the way.

And finally, there is the matter of the lift rod that connects the flush handle to the chain that pulls the flush valve up. Being made of plastic and having to deal with all of this "priming," the plastic weakened to the point where it just plain broke on Friday. Snapped in half. The flush handle is now completely useless because it is not attached to anything.

Which means in order to use my work toilet, I have to first reach in and push the filler float down so the tank can fill while I empty, and then I have to reach back in to grab the lift rod and pull it up to make the thing actually flush. Needless to say, I'm taking a bit of extra hand-washing time before I exit the ladies room altogether.

But this seems an awful lot of work to just use the restroom. And as a result of this, I dream of a day wherein all of the toilets I interact with on a daily basis work the way they are supposed to without any extra effort from me. *sigh* Dream bigger, Kitty. Dream bigger.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

BEDJ 3 - Fear

I have to leave in about fifteen minutes to go roller skating with the rest of the cast of the derby play I'll be doing later this fall and I am terrified. Terrified.

I'm trying to figure out why this is such a scary proposition, but nothing rational is coming to mind. I've been practicing a lot since the last time they saw me skate and I have made marked improvements. But I also went to a derby bout last night and know that I look nothing like that. I skate nothing like that. And I know I don't have to yet - I have a few months to really get good - but I guess it is just this interim period when I'm not that good yet that terrifies me.

But, as we all know, "vivir con miedo es como vivir a medias." (Thank you, Strictly Ballroom.) And I don't intend to "half-live," so I have to go do the things that terrify me. And then comfort myself with the thought of comfy pajamas when I get home.

Saturday, June 02, 2012

BEDJ - Saving Face

I have a lot to do today, so I want to get this blog down before I get too caught up in taking care of business, so to speak. And/or I don't want to be doing what I have to get done today, so I thought I'd post my blog.

I had a weird thought as I was putting on my mascara this morning. I don't know if other people experience this or not, but when I imagine what I look like in my head, it seldom matches what I see when I look in the mirror. Especially when I wait a while to put on my eyeliner and mascara in the morning - I've gotten so used to what I look like with them on, it's often a bit of a shock to see me with no makeup whatsoever. Which is funny because I didn't get into the habit of wearing make up until I was in college. A friend of mine in the dorms took me to Wal-Mart and helped me pick out colors and then told me how to use these various products.

What's really funny about my make-up usage in college is that I had horrible skin. HORRIBLE skin. My doctor eventually put me on Accutane because my skin was so terrible and nothing else was really working. My cheeks looked like mini mountain ranges and yet this magical substance called "concealer" was supposed to offer the illusion of flawless skin. Flawless my ass. It just made the mini mountain ranges  skin-colored and cake-y looking as opposed to red and kind of shiny. At the time, I thought the stuff was necessary to go out in public and look socially acceptable. In retrospect, I realize that nothing about that stuff was really socially acceptable and it wasn't fooling anyone into thinking I had decent skin. Eventually, my skin got a little better and I realized that it was probably better for my skin in general if I stopped caking it up every day with this pinkish paste and decided that I should probably just suck it up and learn to go out in public with horrible skin.

My skin is much better now. I still get the occasional blemish, but it is, for the most part, smooth and soft. I still wear the eyeliner and mascara every day to make my eyes "pop." I remember a lot of people asking me in high school (before make-up) if I was okay as I was just walking down the hall. Apparently, without make-up, I look comatose. Someone actually said that to me - "You look comatose." I took to lining my lower lid when I shaved my head to really make my eyes noticeable. Something about having no hair made me think big eyes and big earrings were necessary. It takes a lot longer for hair to grow out than you might think, so I just line both lids all the time now. The show I just did asked me to not line my lower lids, which made me feel like I looked funny, though people kept telling me how beautiful I looked in that show.

This morning, when I was putting on my mascara, it occurred to me that this history of my make-up usage means that I spent many of my formative years being ashamed of my face. The horrible skin. The tiny nose. The comatose eyes. I spent most of the years when I was trying to figure out who I was and who I was supposed to be, being ashamed of my face. And I wondered what that does to a person.

I'm not ashamed of my face any more. Not really. I still prefer to have eyeliner and mascara on than to not, but I think that's pretty significant progress. In general, I'm of the opinion that it's a rather nice face. I do have to wonder, though, who I would be now if I knew that all along.

Friday, June 01, 2012

Because I Don't Have Enough On My Plate...

Last August, I participated in Vlog Every Day in August (VEDA) and had a blast doing it. A few of the people I met doing that plan on blogging every day in June (BEDJ), which isn't as easy to pronounce as VEDA, but since it's all in written form, maybe that doesn't matter so much. And since I'm not doing enough at the moment (insert wild laughter here), I decided about three minutes ago that I should give it a go, too.

I've not done the "group blogging" thing before, where a bunch of people blog about the same topic on the same day. This should be interesting.

Anyway, today's topic is food. Which is kind of a nice segue into the fact that I am coming up on my ten-year anniversary of being vegan.

For those of you who don't know, I went vegan (almost ten years ago) sort of on a whim. I decided to try it just for the sake of trying it, and I was going to do it for a year just to see what happened. Turns out, I love it. I love the food, I love the products, I love the lifestyle. I did not start out with a moral or ethical agenda, but I did gain a sort of sense that I'm doing something good not only for my body but for the planet as well.

I am not one of those vegans who will bombard other people with images of cows being tortured, though. I don't think that's necessarily the best way to spread the joy of veganism. I am the sort of vegan who will bake something and bring it to work or rehearsal just for fun and if people want to try what I brought, fantastic. If they don't, fine. Just between you and me, I don't always tell people from the get-go that my stuff is vegan, so the people who don't know, probably don't know. Yes, I am that good.

It helps that I found a vegan cookbook author who I absolutely adore. I think I own all of her books. There was only one thing I made from them (so far) that I wasn't over the moon about - it was a chili that had espresso in it or something, and I'm not a coffee person so it wasn't really my cup of tea (yay mixed metaphors!). But everything else has been fantastic. I can make a vat of the Seitanic Red Bean Jambalaya (but I use Tofurkey sausage instead of seitan because I'm not big on seitan) and live off of it for two weeks. The Hottie Black Eyed Peas with Greens plus homemade Scallion Cornbread are amazing. And the woman wrote a whole cookbook on pie. Let me say that again: an entire cookbook about nothing but pie. I made pie from scratch and the crust even turned out well. She's a genius. Anyway.

I think my biggest thing about veganism is that while I would never force anyone else to be vegan (except maybe my children if I have them), I do wish it was considered just another type of cuisine. That people weren't so afraid of it. I think vegan food has gotten a bad rep for being bland and dry and dull, but it doesn't have to be. These days, especially in a major metropolitan area, the selection of vegan food is amazing. It's flavorful and colorful and leaves you satisfied. Instead of being some mysterious, scary, gross thing, I wish vegan food was just another option. "We had Chinese last night, and we have your cousin's barbecue this weekend, so how about vegan tonight?" Because seriously, it's too tasty for me to eat all of it by myself. Wanna share?