spandex with a side of breasts

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A few days ago, I saw a foursome playing tennis. The guys on the court looked like dudes [see: usa fashion: men are just taller boys]. Sadly, the women’s clothing style was reminiscent of cheesy porn intros: sexy nurse, student, delivery/repairmen, people “playing tennis” set-ups, those tacky five-minute segues before the sucking/fucking starts.

I’m adverse to victim blaming, so it makes me nervous to point out how the women were dressed but I’m regularly subjected to complaints from—particularly—younger women how they aren’t viewed as whole beings by men.** Well, I’d like to suggest that if you arrange your boobs like jewelry or wear virtually see-through yoga pants to many functions then some personal responsibility should probably be taken.

A male friend observed that almost no woman looks good in spandex—and he’s right, since real women aren’t photo-shopped to unrealistic standards that apparently he’s still carrying around. Another friend groused how he was attempting to read small words displayed across a woman’s chest and when she objected, he snapped, “Don’t put fine print on places you don’t want me to study.” And then I saw a 20s woman sporting pink short-shorts with “JUICY” spelled out in puffy paint across her butt. Can she really be too surprised if men cat-call her? We’re so used to female sexualization slathered ubiquitously that it appears some women think revealing clothing is dressing up and they’re ‘shocked’ to the effect it brings.

In the USA, most men wear such baggy swimsuits it’s a wonder they can swim. A Speedo is nary to be found. Why? Too contouring, they say. You mean, like leggings revealing a camel toe? As a woman who swims in board-shorts and a tank top, I also don’t like so much exposure—mostly out of comfort. I enjoy swimming, jumping, bending, without having to constantly consider what my suit might decide to lay bare. I’m wondering if much of women’s styles are deliberately designed to create a clothing “malfunction.” How titillating. Not.

Before I get flamed as a reactionary prude, let’s fabricate a check point. Remove sexualization in media and replace it with, say, eating or sleeping: a snoozing (not suggestively) woman on a shiny new car, a woman swallowing a banana or popping strawberries into her mouth (as a regular person would eat them). Anyone remember what that naturally looks like? Sex should be a non sequitur here.

Yes, the Hollywood and TV industries sprinkle shows with random boffing throughout every conceivable female activity—except maybe vomiting and pooping—but must we carry it over into ordinary life? Do men really want arousal potential omnipresent, like at the dentist or buying groceries? Maybe. Seems tiring to me. I hate how this aspect translates into life imitating “art” [sic].

The female beauty rituals—a euphemism for body torture or, at minimum, inconvenient time-wasters—are rampant in our culture [see: i like a woman who takes “care” of herself] and how we dress is part of this. Couldn’t we return to sexy-tasteful? Leave a little to discover when we undress?

Life isn’t porn, or is it?

**see [women aren’t food] for the other viewpoint

wheat, wheat eat your wheat: foods, fads, allergies

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My Tuscana mamma was occasionally irritated by United Statesians because “they’re allergic to everything.” Ironically she herself couldn’t do dairy and my body, meat. Yet, I understood her point as there are “fad” allergies/diseases, and people in the U.S. often lead the way in trendy disorders.

I think my mamma’s impatience emerged because, besides the patently obvious difference between Tuscan food and “American” food in: flavor, quality, wholesomeness and beauty, the way North Americans approach food is completely different. Many to most are afraid of it. Not really an Italian problem, that one.

I’m not talking about pesticides, hormones, additives, GMOs or any other adulterations; those should be feared by the majority but they’re not. Instead, untold North Americans are phobic about fat, calories, gluten, carbs, salt, ad nauseum. Many worry over their lack of control with food itself. In other words, unlike most cultures around the world, they aren’t friends with their foods.

Meals are meant to nourish, to be enjoyed, not really to be used for loneliness, anger, boredom, “scienced-out” to trick our taste buds into overeating or to be given in the form of supplements for “health.”

But back to food allergies. And food fads. Eggs good/bad/good. Oat bran good! Carbs bad. Fruit yes/no. Salt destructive. Omega 3! Probiotics! Protein! Coffee stunts growth, green tea: lose weight. Cupcakes! Bacon!!

Ten years ago I knew one person with celiac disease, no one was “gluten intolerant.” Today, a plethora of the developed world claims to be gluten sensitive and it’s not because medical detection is better. Faddish? Could be. 25% of people think they’re allergic to certain foods but only 2% of adults actually are. Or just maybe it’s the type of wheat. These days it’s a VERY different animal.

Unless you’re eating organic heritage varieties of flour as I do—I’m lucky enough to live with a man who loves to bake bread—you’re probably getting a crossbred, hybridized dwarf wheat that has much higher levels of amylopectin A, a “super starch” that raises blood sugar substantially, along with a “super gluten” that contains twice as many chromosomes as Einkorn, a natural flour that many gluten sensitive people can eat.

That dwarf “super wheat” produces a large variety of gluten proteins causing inflammation, obesity and diabetes and it contains polypeptides called gluteomorphins which trigger an opiate-like response in the brain. And like any addiction, you’ll not feel satisfied and want more and more. Guess what wheat you’re eating when you ingest most restaurant or store-bought bread, pizza, pies, tortillas, pasta, cereal, crackers, etc. no matter how “gourmet?”

I know we’re a communal species and want a communal experience. Trends in health are probably better shared than celebrity gossip, diet crazes or society-anxiety but maybe if we loved our food, participated in producing it, bought from local growers/providers, preserved it, regularly sat down to family meals and actually cooked food instead of frequently dining out or pouring “cuisine” out of a box or bag, we might discover that sustainable nourishment is not out to get us.

women aren’t food

Alison Bechdel notices a pin-up calendar of a naked woman kneeling provocatively—in her book, Fun Home, Bechdel’s childhood autobiographical graphic novel—and suddenly her 10-ish child self alters. She asks her brother to call her Albert instead of Alison (she looks like a boy) while at the shop because—I believe—she feels exposed and objectified in a way she’d never experienced before. I, too, remember when I became aware of this indelicate difference—at age four—and came home asking my mamma if I could change out of my sundress into pants.

I grew up in the late 50s–60s (think Mad Men) where ogling women and making crude, rude remarks were common place. While married to my ex, he didn’t gawk at women in my presence but I heard from my kids—after we’d divorced—that he “drooled” over women in theirs. The kids mildly heckled him for it until they were older and then told him to stop outright.

What’s the big deal, you ask? He wasn’t really hurting anyone, right? Boys will be boys and all that. “Just because you’re on a diet doesn’t mean you can’t read the menu,” right? Wrong. Girls get the message—reinforced repeatedly and subliminally throughout society and the media—that their true and maybe only power is in being sexy bait instead of the all-encompassing empowered lesson boys receive.

Appreciating beauty, physiques, pecs & six-packs, breasts, art, architecture, nature, food, etc. is normal. But those things are not extensions of you; they’re just things you admire. Like cute kids or cuddly kittens. They exist in their own right. You don’t get to possess or minimize their existence because you desire them.

And speaking of animals, they aren’t just food. They could be food and are in certain circumstances but that’s not who they are intrinsically; they have their own lives and thoughts. If humans only recognize them for this one “service,” then we get heinous CAFOs, chicken “farms” and euphemistically labeled foods: veal, paté.

To perceive females as something one wants to consume suggests we’re commodities not humans. If men only see women in relation to their personal “needs” or desires then we women are spammed up as the main course in sicko porn.

Sexuality, sensuality, eroticism are things I love to participate in, be it “sex with one” or embraces with another. Lecherousness is a whole further level of puke. Who exists as a full being there? We live in an obsessive culture that over-praises sex to the exclusion of other joys or demonizes it to the level of “sin.”

Couldn’t sexuality have it’s own lovely, ordinary, human place? Couldn’t all beings/things on this planet be allowed their own beautiful value without looking for their utility in relation to us?

Begin with women. Practice not ogling; practice not wanting to. Men, if you’re over the age of 25 (maturation of prefrontal cortex), you’ve no excuse. Outgrow it like most men outgrow wanting to party all night, beer guzzling hats, fart jokes, and 20-hour gaming marathons.

In other words, grow the f@#k up.

waiter, could you wait please?

Remember when restaurant servers were called waiters? No? Well maybe we should return to that moniker because naming things accurately matters; words can create reality or delude it [see: dude! wow man, you guys are really cool!].

Recently my quasi and I were having a heated discussion in a local restaurant, written to distinguish from some conglomerate joint because even though I very, very rarely eat at them, I’ve unfortunately seen the “quality” of server hired there. Corporate believes anyone can be trained into a good server. Not so.

Recommence narrative where the quasi and I are in silent stare-down like two feral 3:00 a.m. cats but without the yowling. Out of the corner of my locked eyes I see the server approaching our table apparently because we weren’t continuously stuffing fork in mouth. Our atmosphere had to be as thick as the salmon chowder they were offering and still she obliviously singsongs, “Everything okay here?” to which I snap, “NO!” stare-down still going. At which point Clueless finds one and vanishes.

Before you get all judgy on me, I’ve been a server/bartender on and off from the ages of 18 to 45. I’ve done my time with all sorts of folks in all sorts of situations.

One of the biggest complaints I hear from my European family and friends about eating out in U.S. establishments is that the servers aren’t waiters; they’re “friends.” We go out to converse with each other, to eat, and not particularly to chat it up with servers unless, of course, they are our friends.

What encompasses good service, IMHO?

First, read your table. If “established” couples appear to have nothing left to say to each other then go ahead and chitchat. If people are discussing philosophy, art, politics…unobtrusively refill water, remove empty plates (see below) and don’t interrupt even if their beer is empty. Wait, hence the title: waiter. Position yourself nearby but not nervously, and frequently glance—not stare—at your tables. If we need you, I assure you our eyes will meet. If a couple is quarreling, stay away right up until one of them gets up to stalk out or you can see sunshine glimmering in the tempest. If guests arguing (or making out) upset you, then you probably shouldn’t be a server.

Secondly, I’m here to enjoy my meal, not feel like I’m being rushed through the experience so don’t bring out my next course until I’m finished with the dish I’m on. Where do you think you’re going to put that plate? There’s one in front of me already!

Third, do not reach for the almost empty plate regardless of your “training” or your angst. Many of us like to pause, discuss and lean back between bites and none of that automatically means we’re done with our food.

Leaving, I apologized to Clueless for flaring up and she replied, “That’s okay,” except it’s not. Too bad it didn’t occur to her to express her regrets for cutting in on us as if we were “things” to scratch off her to-do list. That’s not service.

planet death…and then there are honey bees

Most of us don’t think about the fact that we live on a planet where in order for something to live many things have to die. From viruses to plankton, wood to wheat, from whales to humans someone is the prey and someone is the predator.

There are exceptions: bees make honey but don’t harm blossoms in doing so; ewes, cows, nannies (goats), etc. give milk without bloodshed; fish, chickens, turtles and ducks donate eggs, beautiful ovate/round gifts; a myriad of trees and plants generously award us their edible jewels every season!

One of the tenets of Jainism is that all living beings desire life, not death, and thereby no one has the right to take away that life. Jains feel that all beings “render service” to each other; that’s how they circumvent the act of “killing” plants to eat or accidentally crushing insects while walking.

I’m not a Jain nor a member of any religion though I do hold a pantheistic in view. I’ve been a vegetarian almost all my life and even though I have chickens—my “girly girls”—I rarely eat their eggs. My quasi will, my kids will, my friends will. I still appreciate the girls’ magical benefactions.

So rather than blithely devouring a slab of cow, a curl of pig, or—in my case—grains and veggies, let’s revere all beings’ life forces especially if we’re killing them to nurture us. Them being plants, wood, water but  especially the animals. Let’s honor their offerings of Self for our nourishment and for their earthly service.

Foremost: allow each animal these three H’s: health, haven, and harmony. Empower them to walk this earth living genuine lives before they come to our mouths.