A Certain Age


Like most women of a certain age, I detest the phrase, a certain age. It’s yet another way we have of holding on to our insecurities and doing all women a disservice. I have been proudly proclaiming my age since I was a child and my father tried to get a deal on a bus ticket by saying I was five and I loudly protested, “But I’m six, Daddy! Don’t you know how old I am?”

The other day, my mother, who is seventy, or will be in July (she hates having to say she is 69) actually said, “Our age” when referring to the two of us. I don’t remember what that phrase was in reference to because all I can recall is her saying OUR AGE and lumping me in with her generation. When I called her on it, she told me that it makes her feel younger to say ‘our age’ to younger women. What nobody tells you is that, though your body ages, your brain stops soon after you enter adulthood. If there were no such thing as a reflective surface to remind you that you are, indeed getting older, the only sign your brain would have is that your body is now incapable of doing the same things it used to do.

I have no issue telling people how old I am… I’m 47 this year and proud to say it. Most people are shocked to hear it and tell me that I don’t look 47. To which I respond, “What does 47 look like?”

For decades women have been lying about their age. In my grandmother’s era it was a sin to be over the age of 39, so she just started counting backwards once she hit 39 and pretty soon I was older than the age she claimed to be.

In movies and television, actresses have been playing younger parts for years. Doris Day was still playing virginal roles well into her 40’s. As a matter of fact, her age was lied about so much, that to this day, it’s not known what her actual year of birth was. More recently, actress Gabrielle Carteris, who played a 16 year old student in Beverly Hills 90210, was actually 29 the first season of the series. With examples like this, how are we supposed to know what 50 really looks like?

Doris Day

Gabrielle Carteris

Just last year, an aspiring actress sued http://www.imdb.com for posting her age. Her suit contended that, “If one is perceived to be ‘over-the-hill,’ i.e. approaching 40, it is nearly impossible for an up-and-coming actress, such as the Plaintiff, to get work as she is thought to have less of an ‘upside’ therefore casting directors, producers, directors, agents/managers, etc. do not give her the same opportunities, regardless of her appearance and talent.”

This kind of ageism is what leads women to be insecure about their age and their appearance even as they are gaining the wisdom that comes with aging. It’s yet another way we continue to be controlled. Instead of being lauded for our accomplishments through the years, we are being sold anti-aging creams and hormone supplements.

Women talk a big game when it comes to self esteem, but when are we actually going to walk the walk?

Slut Shaming


 

After she read my last post on useless emotions, my 70 year old mother and I got to talking about slut shaming and how ridiculous we both think it is. She comes from an era where good girls remained virgins until marriage (or until engagement at least), but men were supposed to be experienced upon entering the marriage bed. Who, may I ask, were men supposed to get that experience with? Women were not even supposed to admit that they enjoyed sex in that era.

The sexual revolution of the 1960’s in North America, started to change that attitude and the advent of the Pill helped women on a path of sexual self discovery. We were embracing our sexuality throughout the 1970’s and into the 80’s, but then AIDS came along and that changed things. Women who slept around were now being judged more frequently than in the decade prior, but the genie was already out of the bottle and women had gotten used to being sexually free. There was no going back to the good girls don’t model.

We talked about how men spend their entire single life trying to get a woman to be a slut for them.  One would think that sluts would be held in much higher regard by men. Alas this is where the male ego comes into play. It’s fine to be MY slut, but don’t you dare come to the table with anywhere close to the same number of sex partners as I have amassed. There are some men who aren’t afraid to admit that they like a woman with experience, but most don’t want to know that THEIR woman is more experienced than they are. Guess what guys, WOMEN LIKE SEX and we shouldn’t be made to feel bad about that.

Unfortunately, in the game of sex, women must play defense. We are the ones who run the risk of pregnancy, so we must be far more discriminate about who we sleep with than men. So while, we like sex, nature dictates that we must be more sexually responsible. We are the ones (for the most part) who are responsible for making sure the sex act will not end in pregnancy or disease. Then there’s that pesky serotonin and dopamine we produce during sex that gets our emotions all tangled up in the act of sex, whether the guy is boyfriend/husband material or not. Let us not forget the whole fairy tale culture that has been shoved down our throats since birth that teaches us that we are nothing without a man to complete  us. Oh, and magazines like Cosmopolitan that tell us we should be having hour long orgasms while we are sexually pleasing those men, morning, noon and night, all the while, pursuing a fulfilling career. The thinking woman has a lot on her plate to consider before saying yes to sex. Then once we do, we are forever branded sluts, unless we marry the first man we sleep with.

In my last blog I branded shame as a useless emotion. “Women are made to feel shame for everything from natural bodily functions like menstruation (the curse) and menopause (the change) to our sexuality (slut shaming). It’s a wonder we can leave the house at all.” Men are allowed the luxury of pride after a night of sex. Women must do the walk of shame.

 

 

I see no reason why we shouldn’t strut down the walk of shame like it’s a runway. If we start to change the way WE feel about our sexuality, then maybe we can own the word slut. It’s only by owning the word that it will stop having power over us.

Events like Slut Walk are a great way to sexually empower women. Not to mention to get the point across that no matter how we are dressed, we are never saying yes to being raped.

 

 

We must, as women, not be afraid to teach men what is and isn’t acceptable behavior, both in and out of the bedroom. That sex isn’t about power or revenge, it’s about pleasure. There are still far too many places in the world that don’t understand that women NEVER want to be raped, abused or beaten. It’s only by raising the bar that men will rise to meet it. It’s only by not allowing ourselves to feel shame over being human that we will finally be treated as equal.

 

Useless emotions


Guilt

For me a useless emotion is one that is used to manipulate the masses into behaving a certain way. Businesses like advertising or religion have utilized these emotions in order to get you to buy their product. In the case of religion, guilt is a heavily played upon emotion. Religion makes us feel guilty for committing acts that are within our own nature, then tells us that only by seeking forgiveness from the church can we be absolved of the very same guilt they, themselves have made us feel for our actions.

For me guilt is akin to crying over spilled milk. If I have done something to someone else that I feel bad about, I apologize sincerely. Sometimes I am forgiven, sometimes not. Forgiveness isn’t in my control and if that is my only reason for apologizing, then I’m not truly sorry. Once I have tried to make amends, whether I am forgiven or not, I move on. It’s a waste of time to dwell.

Shame

Shame is another useless emotion. It is the flip side of guilt. Guilt is something you feel over something you have done, whereas shame is something you feel over who you are.  Look at the seven deadly sins, anger, greed, sloth, envy, lust, gluttony and pride. They are all emotions that humans feel naturally. If we are to believe that we are made in the image of a deity, then why are these emotions somehow shameful?

Women are made to feel shame for everything from natural bodily functions like menstruation (the curse) and menopause (the change) to our sexuality (slut shaming). It’s a wonder we can leave the house at all.

Envy

One of the best marketing tools that is employed by advertising agencies around the world is envy. Ads that make you want what others have have proven to be very effective. Even ads that use the old adage of sex sells are using the envy model. They make you covet the lifestyle being shown to you… a lifestyle you don’t have. What’s wrong with what you DO have? I can guarantee if you don’t like your current lifestyle, that buying a new iPod isn’t going to fix it. In fact a new iPod may just magnify the situation (I have no friends to put into this huge address book, for example).

Jealousy

Jealousy differs from envy. With envy you want what someone else has. With jealousy you want to be what someone else is. It makes you ask, ‘What’s wrong with me?’ In marketing this is famously utilized by an ad for Pantene shampoo in which actress/model, Kelly LeBrock says, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful”. This ad was meant to make women think that they could be beautiful too if they would just wash their hair with Pantene. If jealousy has to be used as a marketing tool, I’d much rather see a university advertise itself by having an accomplished woman like Hillary Clinton, Angela Merkel or Christine LaGarde saying, “Don’t hate me because I’m smart.” At least that would send a more productive message to young women, but I digress. Jealousy is useless because you may never be what someone else is. Happiness is to embrace who YOU are.

There may be some of you who think I should have included fear on this list of useless emotions. It is used by both religion, and advertising, not to mention government to make the masses behave a certain way. But fear differs from the above four emotions in one very key way. Fear is a warning sign that can save your life. Yes most fears are needless or even irrational, like my fear of birds. But sometimes a little fear can stop you from rushing head first into a dangerous situation.

Guilt, shame, envy and jealousy are about as useful as our appendix. They are emotions that, perhaps, it’s time to evolve past.

WOW The world of wearable art



Lady Curiosity- one of the 2010 winners

You wouldn’t wear any of these creations to the grocery store, but whoever said art was practical? Every year in Wellington, New Zealand holds an exhibition of artists from all over the world who create wearable art. Held in September, this exhibit and competition is a two hour long, live theatrical show and it’s unbelievable what some of these artists come up with.

Lady of the Wood- one of the 2009 winners

The above creation was entirely made of wood, right down to the wood shavings used for her hair. What strikes me most about this piece is the fit of the bodice and the sleeves. The level of creativity is astounding.

WOW began in 1987 in the rural town of Nelson as a promotion for their local art gallery. It was the idea of Dame Susie Moncrieff to use the live theatrical show format and from there the show expanded each and every year. Now WOW enjoys international acclaim.

Hide in my Bone Shadow- one of the 2011 winners

New Zealand has long held a place on my bucket list and it seems, with each passing year, it moves up a spot. As a huge Tolkien fan, I have long wanted to visit Hobbittown.

Hobbittown

I am also enamoured with big cats must go and see the famous Lion Man.

The Lion Man- Craig Busch

As both an art lover and a bit of a fashionista, and having only recently heard of the World of Wearable Art Show, I have yet another reason to want to travel to New Zealand. As I mentioned earlier, artists world wide exhibit and compete each year and one of last year’s winners even comes from my own home country.

Skin, Marjolein Dallinga, Canada- one of the 2011 winners

 If you would like more information about WOW, the World of Wearable Art, or to view more of these amazing creations, go to their website  or take a look at some video footage of the show on their YouTube page.

Rebel


James Dean- Iconic Rebel

I’m a rebel *(and I’ll never, ever be any good). Which basically means I don’t do what I’m told and my opinions usually differ from those of society at large. Politically, I lean more left than right, but my feet are not firmly planted on either side. I prefer to make up my own rules than go by the ones the government, (either a conservative or a liberal government) has laid out for everyone. Spiritually, it’s the same thing. I do not need some made up man in the sky threatening eternal damnation in order to be a decent, if a little odd, human being.

Even my taste in celebrities isn’t what the media touts as desirable. I’ve never gone for the traditionally handsome leading man and the seduction fantasy.

George Clooney- leading man

Or the non- threatening, baby faced teen idol types and the adoration fantasy.

Justin Beiber- teen idol

Instead, I go for men who can be the on screen personification of evil with a sly smirk that belies a filthy secret.

James Gandolfini and his naughty smirk

Not your typical brooding bad boy, more like evil with a touch of dangerous insanity thrown in.

Malcolm McDowell from A Clockwork Orange

Robert DeNiro in Cape Fear

Michael Clark Duncan in Red Scorpion

Don’t get me wrong, these are not the type of male characters I would enjoy spending time with in a real life scenario of any kind. They are simply some of my on screen fantasy men. I think the fantasy for me is the challenge that getting such a dangerous man to fall for me would present. It would be akin to breaking a wild stallion. Although, once broken, the attraction would be gone.

Yes, I am a rebel, even in my dreams.

*Refers to lyrics found in the song He’s a Rebel by the Crystals

More, More Moore


My collection (minus one… Fluke is on loan to my folks)

I am a huge fan of the author Christopher Moore. I have bought and read literally, every book he has written. It all started about seven years ago, when a friend gave me a copy of Lamb for my birthday. Lamb is a wonderfully blasphemous account of the early years of Jesus Christ as told by his childhood friend, Biff. Incredibly well researched, and told with great humour, Lamb quickly became my favourite book that year. Since then I have re-read it several times, each time finding something new and hilarious.

Lamb… the book that began a love affair

After reading Lamb, I went online to see what else Mr. Moore had written. To my delight there were several other titles in his catalogue. I bought them all and read them back to back in the order they were written. It’s hard to say which was my favourite, they all have complex stories, characters who are characters and a hilarious sense of humour. As a lover of King Lear, I do have a soft spot for Fool, which is the King Lear story, turned on its ear and told by the court jester.  Fluke also speaks to me as some of the novel is set near to where I grew up and it’s so unpredictable. The novels set in Pine Cove are also near and dear to me, as is the Vampire trilogy and their spin-off, A Dirty Job. See what I mean… no clear favourite.

A couple of weeks ago, Christopher Moore’s latest novel was released. It’s called Sacre Bleu and it’s Moore’s masterpiece about masterpieces and the men who painted them in late nineteenth century Paris. The book features several of my favourite painters of the era including Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Edgar Degas, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Vincent Van Gogh. As always there is a thread of the supernatural brilliantly weaving its way through the plot.

A masterpiece about masterpieces.

Christopher Moore takes the reader on incredibly fun journeys of suspended disbelief  and escapism. I am always so stunned by the amount of research that is involved with each and every outing. Moore, like Gore Vidal and James Ellroy, seamlessly weaves real people and fictitious plot lines into a feast for the imagination.

Typically, a new Moore novel is published once a year, which makes him ridiculously prolific for the amount of research that must go into each book. Each time a new one comes out, I try so hard to pace myself and make that first read last as long as possible… I usually fail miserably and polish them off well within a week. I only wish he could write as fast as I can read.

Driven to distraction by distractions


Ashley Judd’s “Puffy Face”

One of the most effective ways women have been kept under ‘control’ in western culture has been to make sure that no matter our age, or stature that we remain as insecure about our looks as we were when we were teenagers. One of the ways this is achieved is by insulting the most beautiful or famous of women in the media. This kind of bashing beautiful/famous women comes in many forms. From saying Christina Aguilera is too fat,

to saying that Angelina Jolie is too skinny,

from criticizing Jessica Simpson for gaining too much weight during her pregnancy,

to claiming that Nicole Kidman didn’t gain enough weight during her pregnancy.

Poor Kate Middleton is deemed to skinny to even get pregnant.

Recently, the media slammed Ashley Judd for having what was described as a puffy face. Speculators were saying it was due to everything from plastic surgery to alcoholism. It seems the media finally picked on the wrong woman. Ms. Judd wrote a 1500 word rebuttal to her critics that you can read in it’s entirety here

She is absolutely right to stand up for herself and for women everywhere and I largely agree with her editorial. After all , if women are focused on how we look, then we won’t notice when our rights are being eroded right in front of our noses. In the United States the law makers are very busy trying to lessen women’s rights. Just a few examples include:

 A state legislator in Georgia wants to change the legal term for victims of rape, stalking, and domestic violence to “accuser.” But victims of other less gendered crimes, like burglary, would remain “victims.”

 In South Dakota, Republicans proposed a bill that couldmake it legal to murder a doctor who provides abortion care.

 In Congress, Republicans have a bill that would let hospitals allow a woman to die rather than perform an abortion necessary to save her life.

In Wisconsin, the Governor just repealed the equal pay law.

It’s time for women to stop wondering about whether or not Beyonce’s pregnancy was real,

or what Rihanna’s new hair colour will be.

We need to focus on the things that matter before we let our vanity marginalize us out of our basic human rights.We fought long and hard to obtain these rights and I say it’s worth fighting just as hard to keep them. After all, it won’t matter what we look like if we are all forced to wear burqas.

Believe


 

When it comes to beliefs, I have two lists. The list of things I don’t believe in is much longer than the list of things I do believe in.

I DON’T BELIEVE IN:

Gods.

 

 

I think that the idea of Gods or a God stems from the arrogance and insecurity of human nature. We so desperately need to think that we are special that we conjure up a deity that watches every move we make.

Which leads me to my next point. I don’t believe that we are all special. By definition, to be special is to be distinguished or different from what is ordinary or usual, therefor it is impossible for all of us to be special.

Magic.

 

 

This includes, but is not limited to, Crystals, Runes, Tarot Cards, Palm Reading, Astrology, Numerology, Voodoo, Vampires, Werewolves, Fairies, Elves, Sprites, Leprechauns, Wizards and Witches. Although I do like to suspend my disbelief and watch movies about the subject, to me, magic is (as Sheldon Cooper would say) hokum.

Love.

 

 

The idea of romantic love as described by fairy tales, books, movies and the media is unattainable. For that to exist, human beings would have to be either inherently trustworthy or eternally forgiving and we are neither. I’m not saying that there isn’t beauty in commitment to another person, or that two people aren’t capable of a life together. Just that the reality never looks the same as the ideal, so perhaps we should stop looking for the ideal.

Justice.

 

 

Don’t get me wrong, I have a very strong sense of justice. I just don’t believe that justice/fairness/equality really exist in this world. I do think it’s worth striving and fighting for, but we are a long way from having it.

Anything a man says when he has an erection. (no image or explanation needed)

And the list goes on… and on… and on.

 

I BELIEVE IN:

Choice.

 

 

Our lives are what we create through the choices we make. If you don’t think you have a choice in any given situation, either you’re not looking hard enough or you just don’t like (or are afraid of) the choices you see. Fear of the unknown is what most often stops us from choosing happiness. It’s often easier to stay with the familiar than to explore new territory, even if the familiar is making you miserable, but there is always a choice.

Proof.

 

 

If you can’t prove it to me, chances are, I won’t believe it.

 

Myself.

 

I am the only person I can rely on to look out for my best interests. I am the only person I can trust (most of the time). I am the only person I can truly know, warts and all. If I’m not okay with where I am, I have only myself to blame and only I can fix it. Sure, others may offer advice, but in the end, it’s up to me if I choose to take it. My life begins and ends with me, so I had better like myself… and I do.

This list is complete.

 

 

The next best thing to being there


The Coronation of Josephine- Jacques Louis David

I’ve been to the Louvre Museum in Paris. I remember standing in front of the Mona Lisa and thinking, ‘I don’t get what all the fuss is about.’ It’s a tiny painting behind reflective glass and armed guards. Yes, it was painted by Leonardo Da Vinci, who had one of the best eyes for human anatomy ever, but standing there staring at this masterpiece left me cold. There was a painting I was wowed by that day titled The Coronation of Josephine. The rich, saturated colours and almost photographic detail were like nothing I’d ever seen in a painting. If I hadn’t been in the Louvre, chances are I would never have discovered this beautiful painting. Conversely, if I hadn’t been in the Louvre, chances are I never would have been so underwhelmed by the Mona Lisa.

Inside the State Hermitage Museum

 A museum that is currently on my bucket list is the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. It’s likely that I will never get the chance to be witness to it’s opulence in person. There are quite a few museums on my bucket list from all over the world. While I may never get to see their contents right in front of me, Google has created the next best thing. http://www.googleartproject.com/ which gives access to 155 art collections and counting. The images of the artwork are all high resolution and each collection features a virtual tour of the gallery in which each collection is housed.

The Hall of Mirrors in the Palace of Versailles

From the comfort of my home, I have been to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Tate Gallery in London, the Palace of Versailles, the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and yes, even the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. While it’s not the same experience as being there, it is the closest I may ever get to seeing some of the world’s greatest artistic masterpieces inside some of the world’s greatest architectural masterpieces.

So thank you to Google for creating the next best thing to being there for those of us who dream of being there.

Auto Erotica


When I dream, I dream big. I am a lover of all things luxury and cars are no exception. These are a few of my favourite vehicles to dream of one day owning, or at least driving around the block.

Bugatti Veyron

The Bugatti Veyron Super Sport is the world’s fastest street legal production car. With a top speed of 431.072 km/h (267.856 mph) this is the stuff of wet dreams. Rarely do such power and such beauty exist in the same package. At a sticker price of 2.4 million dollars, I’ll be dreaming about this for the rest of my life. It’s pretty on the inside too.

I would be doing this car an injustice if I didn’t include a video of it in action, driven by someone who appreciates it’s power.

Next on my wish list is the 2009 Mercedes Maybach Zeppelin. Priced at a mere $677,000 US dollars, this car might be within reach if I ever win the lottery. The image at the start of this post is of the interior of this car and the luxury doesn’t stop there.

Mercedes Maybach Zeppelin

It just whispers seductively, ‘Sit back, relax and let me pamper you.’ In fact if you’re lucky enough to be cradled anywhere within this testament to luxury, that’s exactly what you can expect.

This next work of art is surprisingly priced at a reasonable $444,000 US dollars. Which means I will be able to afford one if I also plan on living in it. Judging by the beautifully appointed interior, that’s a distinct possibility. The 2012 Rolls Royce Phantom.

And the exterior isn’t too shabby either.

2012 Rolls Royce Phantom

This car is pure elegance in every sense of the word.

The last vehicle on my list was just brought to my attention this evening. It may not be the epitome of luxury (yet), but it looks like a ridiculously fun toy to own, or at least fly around the block in. Yes, I just said FLY.

This is the Moller Skycar M400.

It seats 4 which makes it perfect for that family outing, or for storing your golf clubs. The SL model has a maximum speed of 579 km/h or 360 mph and boasts vertical take off and landing in just a 35 foot diameter (or 10.7 meters). It retails for $500,000 US dollars, which, if you travel a lot, could pay for itself in convenience alone on your first time not having to go through the airport security line. It has a maximum range of 750 miles (or 1207 kilometers) between fuel ups (great for island hopping in the Caribbean) and flies on ethanol.

Now you know a little more about what fuels my fantasies.