Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Liquor, Sugar and Hormones

There are many times that I love being a woman. There are other times that I do not enjoy it quite so much. I speak, of course, of the interesting (damn, I've grown to hate that word in the last month or so, standing in as it does for so many other more specific, clear or direct word choices - but I'm writing, so I get to use it with impunity and y'all just have to deal w/it) interplay of hormones and mood. Hormones, those invisible chemical strands traveling my blood and inciting tiny riots in my various organs. I imagine them like Pan, little teeny-tiny specks of perfectly-natural-just-a-part-of-femininity wandering freely, urging me to eat just one more handful of salty wasabi/soy almonds at just the moment when my tissues most want to grip tightly to every molecule of water, apparently fearing some massive internal drought, or waking me at 2 AM to remind me that there is stashed organic chocolate in the cabinet where I keep my liquor, or making me impatient with every aspect of my life at once.

It is this last thing that bothers me most. I can stumble back to bed at 2:15 AM, mouth smeared with chocolate, smelling sweetly of cocoa and cognac, and be asleep again in a few minutes. I can pay someone to hide the salty snacks, or just wear bigger clothes and marvel at the puffy places where my cheekbones sometimes appear, like phantoms. But the urge to change everything - sometimes I trust it, and I think that maybe this urge is the only time I really see clearly, and I could easily, and have actually, made big decisions and taken big actions while caught up in what may be a simple hormonally-induced fugue state.

Here is my dilemma: what if this really IS the only time I truly see clearly, when the nicey-niceness of my spirit is laced with a bit of Tabasco-hot "gimmesomeofthat" clarity? Because what I want becomes very clear when I allow myself to think about it. I have a friend who thinks we are all, the entire nation, even the entire world, becoming too self centered. In theory, this works for me, but in practice. Hmm...I don't know. It seems to me that the self centered become ever more so, while normal people often forget to get their needs met at all, busy as they are with mortgages, children, careers, obligations, a thinner waist and attaining a weed-free lawn. Normal people figure out how to not want what they need - that's my experience. They, or we for this one, excuse the hurtful behavior of others because "they didn't intend to hurt me." We pile on obligations to make meaning of our days. They imagine that they don't need to be loved and cherished and passionately sought by their lovers or spouses, that any one of those is enough. Or they decide that really-really-liked with shared parenting responsibilities is enough. I'm pretty sure these are not enough, not really, but there sure are a lot of us settling for a piece of any of it.

I think maybe I'll start to listen to the hormonal me's list of "this ain't working for me and let me tell you why" items. Maybe write them down. Peruse at my leisure, maybe when I'm back to eating the they-almost-have-flavor rice cakes. I'll smear the rice cakes with Nutella, cause hey, everyone needs a little nuttychocolatey goodness in their life.

I'm big on letting people who love me know that I'm hurting by saying that I'm putting on my big girl panties. It's official, folks. Today is a full-on Nutella-with-a-spoon and big-girl panty day. Stand clear unless you're part of the solution.

Smiles all around.

~ patti

Sunday, September 2, 2007


Today I had long instant message conversations with two girlfriends. I met these women online, one lives 1500 miles away, the other on another continent, yet they've become real, whole people to me. I stood later in my living room, and later yet in my backyard, and danced to music playing on my iPod's headphones, to songs recommended by those far-off friends. Here is the thing: my constant reminders of the shrinking world make me despise my ignorance. It is shameful that I have not engaged myself with people from other cultures in years, that I am well educated yet know no other languages, that I've never travelled outside this continent. My time has been far too focused on the tiny sphere that I moved within each day, and that sphere feels constricting these days. I am fighting the urge to sweep everything aside, but I welcome these stirrings of desire for change. Change that I might choose. That seems the key to my musings these days.

Just watched the film "The Queen" - several friends had recommended, no, demanded that I see it. What a performance Helen Mirren gives, and what an icy-cool message of such weight. The film reminds us that some elements of our lives are prescribed, some of the life-paths we will walk, that we must walk, are chosen for us. But it is in us to change, to adapt, to react with purpose and not with fear. This is my mantra these days - to live with purpose and not in fear of what I do not, cannot, will not or have not had. Living with purpose is, it seems, the prerequisite to living in joy.

I am a fan, a starstruck and giddy fan, of the writer Andre Dubus. In a book of tributes to Andre Dubus, a friend quotes a letter that he wrote. The quote is lovely, and funny, and smart. But a single sentence in it has become something I hear echoing in my mind in moments of joy and of pain. The sentence is this:

This is not all fun in the sun but a durable, graceful dance to the music of mortality.

Indeed. I believe that shadows make us see light more vividly, that there is no life worth living that doesn't have difficult moments, that loss and failure and hurt make success and joy sweeter. We are in a durable, graceful dance to the music of mortality.

Isn't it lovely?

Peace and hope ~ patti