No Sex in the City

Like many chicks my age, I powered through my 20s inspired by that New York fantasySEX-AND-THE-CITY-3-PLEASE-NO of cosmos, heels and relationships, Sex In the City. I never went so far as to call myself ‘a Miranda’ or quote lines from the show, I do credit Sarah Jessica Parker for introducing me to the beauty of Manolo Blahniks. Kim Cattrall agreed with me on matters of sex, and Cynthia Nixon made it ok for me to be a bit obsessed with work. Kristen Davis was everyone I ever hated from high school…but hey, no show is perfect.

But when a friend of mine mentioned she was in a sort of ‘Sex in the City’ dysfunctional relationship.. it got me thinking about my oh-so SNTC life as singleton in Denver Colorado.

Cut to…

Clear blue Colorado sky, musings out of the window and she poses the question ‘what’s up with men over 40?’. She then realizes that’s stupid question, and she’s got better things to think about, and goes to the dry cleaner.

Passing a shop window, she stops dead and squeals at the shoes in the window. ‘Meee likey’, pivoting into the store while pronouncing loudly ‘don’t let me buy anything’. Everyone pointedly ignores her. She leaves with yet another pair of sensible heeled black boots.

Its Saturday night and she’s standing in front of her closet wondering which outfit to wear that says ‘I’m available.. but not too available’ and ‘I’m sexy.. but not in a cougarish, desperate kind of way’. She spins around clutching her favorite sweat pant/ hoodie combination and wonders what’s new on Netflix.

She’s on a date and it seems to be going well. She tries to remember which bra she’s wearing and wonders what he looks like naked. The anticipation is incredible and she’s looking forward to some R-rated fun. He tells her he has dinner at 8 with friends. She never hears from him again.

The guy she’s still half in love with from 2 years ago appears in her email inbox. Her heart beats wildly. Does he want to start something up? Has he realized how shitty he was and wants to apologize? Am I really ready to go through all that again? God I miss him. She opens the email to see a link to a Bruce Springsteen interview and the immortal words ‘thought you’d like this’. He never emails again.

She gets a great opportunity to improve her finances, working for a world-renowned company in an incredibly glamorous role. She takes the job and its hard work. No one gives her shoes.

Sarah Jessica Parker and HBO… you owe me money bitches. Or at least a pity fuck.

In Search of the Holy Grail.. pain free kick ass shoes

heelsI have a secret. I have the feet of a Hobbit. Scrawny, knobbly, bent and twisted. Not quite the ragged hairy nubbins of Frodo, but my feet do seem to have channeled Shrek. Lets just say my bi weekly pedicures are necessary for the sake of humanity, and those attending my yoga class.

After 4 years working from home, my hobbit feet had become accustomed to the comforts of home. Clogs, Tevas, Ascis and Frye boots litter my closet. Wool socks formed the basis of most outfits.

I did wear heels .. but only on dates with tall guys or when I needed to feel particularly girlie.

So basically once or twice a year. And mainly for sitting down.

Then I moved to CA, moved back to working in an office environment and tried to reintroduce my feet to footwear that didn’t resemble something available with a prescription or worn exclusively by retirees.

The result, unsurprisingly, was pain. Lots of pain. Pain that radiated from my toes all the way up my legs and at one point through my eyeballs. Trying to walk into a meeting with aplomb was akin to firewalking. Best achieved at high-speed and with quick intakes of breath. I managed to make it to my car with a combination of tip toeing and waddling.. anything to avoid the feeling of nails being driven through my toes and heels simultaneously.

Why bother you might be thinking? Why no just sling on some flats and be comfortable?

I tried flats. I really did. But several comments about my ‘little girl’ height and jokes about me not seeming like my usual confident self made me question what heels did for me. Heels gave me authority. Heels enabled me to look people in the eye instead of the nipple. Heels enabled me to wear pants without paying $25 per pair in alterations.

Hey, I’m cheap.

Of course I could straighten my spine and walk tall (5 ft 2 isn’t quite midget status), but honestly I’d rather look my boss in the eye and who can resist looking more authoritative, slimmer and just a little sexy? After all, I am single, I work with senior execs all day and hell..if I have to dress up for work, I’d rather not be the poster girl for lesbian chic. I left that look back in Colorado. There has to be some version of heels which doesn’t result in sobbing …right? I mean people have been rocking these things for 50 years.

I started with a few requirements…..

  • The ability to walk at high-speed without losing them. My job involves running across conference halls/ airports/ hallways on a regular basis and I have left at least 2 shoes in the middle of a cross walk before now. Straps or laces, however it works.. but ‘firm fit’ is key.
  • Able to fit my weirdly skinny ankles and bizarrely shaped toes without causing nail loss. I don’t rule out square toes, but I’d prefer if my heels didn’t resemble something from the early 90s.
  • Suitability for a hetero 30-40 something woman who wears skirts, dresses and pants. i.e. Huge platform soles and knee-length lacing are out.. along with anything with the name ‘comfort’ in the title.

But since I’m wearing them all day every day, I figured.. money no object. At least for one pair.  No problem right?

WRONG.

A Facebook request to friends led me to Franco Sarto, Cole Haan and Nine West. A gift certificate led me to Macys. After exhausting everything from kitten heels to wedges, Sam Edelson to Prada and an entire weekend I came to several conclusions.

  • It doesn’t matter how much you spend.. boots win out every time for comfort, fit and style. Bummer because I now live in CA. Where its warm. All year.
  • Elastic or leather with stretch are your friends.
  • Most shoes will fit your heels or your toes.. but rarely both.
  • Fancy straps, chains, buckles or slingbacks generally result in blisters about 30 mins after you wear them for the first time. Wear them around the house for a few hours – vacuum, clean, cook, do laundry. By the time your clothes are in the dryer, you’ll know. (plus if you live with someone, kinda kinky).
  • Expensive ($250+) does generally get more comfortable and more long-lasting but you’re going to be spending a minimum of $250, $400 or $1000. Which to most single chicas who aren’t Meg Whitman means an annual treat if that.
  • Comfort and style don’t mix. I’ve tried all of the ‘so called’ solutions and the closest I came was a $550 spanish brand that still resembled something you’d wear to perform a stompy fiesta dance with a tambourine. Fine if I were living in Spain, or about to head out for the evening, but a tough mix with my all black, formal wear, wardrobe.

So in the end I wound up settling for slightly uncomfortable, slightly more than I could afford, and perfectly office appropriate. I’ve already taken them out for a test run up and down the halls a few times, and I can stand in them for about 6 hours. Not perfect, but hey.. at least I can make it to the car without walking like a constipated duck, no-one is making comments about ‘the single chick with comfortable shoes’ and I’ve not broken out a single band-aid yet. Yay for Donald J. Pilner.

But in the meantime I’ll continue my search. I figure anyone who finds that ‘style and comfort’ solution for women’s heels will make millions.

If I find them first, I’m buying stock.

 

Riding with girls

01 MtnBikingWomen-2500pxI’m easily intimidated and not the most socially adept person when meeting men, women or small children (FYI: dogs love me), but this weekend I decided to do something that scared me, and signed up for a women’s mountain biking clinic.

The group name – Dirt Divas – was my first hurdle. Any association with the word ‘Diva’ implies Mariah Carey, high maintainance women and satin floor length dresses as far as I’m concerned.. non of which naturally sprang to mind in association with mountain biking. Plus ‘Divas’? Does this mean they’re all super awesome pro racers who sneer at us amateurs who still struggle to bunny hop up a curb? But I saw that the clinic was being run by pro downhill racer, Zach Griffith, and figured that I could use any advice for not overshooting switchbacks.. even if I had to do so surrounded by elite riders or chicks in evening gowns. I’ve provided the front range mountain biking community with enough YouTube clips this year thanks and frankly, 1/3 of my salary is going to Bandaids and gauze pads. So if the ‘Divas’ could waive the floor length satin dress requirement .. I was in.

Having ridden with dudes my entire life, I’m a bit tired of being dropped, panting my way up the trail only to have the entire group spring back on their bikes, just as I’m unclipping for a bit of a rest. I hate that dudes consider my walking a 3 ft drop as ‘pussying out’ and frankly, I know I’m never going to be awesome, so I just enjoy doing what I can. As a result, I’ve been riding alone this year. Something that is dangerous when injury is involved (a weekly occurrence for me), plus it changes the ‘post ride beer in the parking lot’ from a fun group activity to a weird ‘stay away from the weird alcoholic lady’ warning to small children.

I need chicks to mountain bike ride with. Women who can actually ride up rocks, but who know that waiting means waiting.. and won’t sneer when you can’t make it up the 10th washout board in the ladder. Who you can emphasize with you when the handlebar jabs you in the boob or when you didn’t unclip fast enough and hit the thorn-bush ass first. But I don’t know any… I did, but they all got married and quit, or now ride with their kids.

I had a moment of fear as I pulled up to the parking lot, frantically checking that no one was wearing downhill pads or a dirt bike helmet, but breathed out as I saw a chick wrestling her Ibis off her rack and not a Fox jersey in sight. In fact, as more of us pulled up, it looked more and more normal. Chicks my age, most of us driving trucks and 4Runners, baring scarred knees, junk in our trunk, dirty shoes and not a swipe of makeup amongst us.

As I stood with the other ‘Divas’ (never was a group so misnamed.. not an inkling of cleavage or small dog amongst us), a chick behind me said ‘I hope no one here is awesome, cos I suck‘ and I knew I’d found my people.

It was GLORIOUS.

The clinic itself – well I’ll skip the details as its only interesting to about 2 other people in the universe was great, but the overwhelming joy I felt was more due to the opportunity to do sports with other women. Something I don’t think I’ve done since high school.

Once we’d gotten over the ‘I’m crapper than you’ modesty show down (can you imagine dudes having that conversation?), it was all about asking for advice, guidance and at one point, a round of applause for some cornering which would make a slalom racer proud.

Do dudes applaud when someone nails it?

Our coach (married with 2 daughters, and seemingly endless patience for chicks) balanced delivering information en masse, followed by one on one, second by second coaching as we rode the course. What normally would have had me knotted and sweaty, morphed into memories of my dad showing me how to ride while running behind me with his hand on my seat. It wasn’t embarrassing or weird, or intimidating in the slightest. Just hearing that voice behind you, and shouts from the chicks waiting their turn, turned the day from a ‘how to’ into one huge bonding session. Soon chicks were videoing each other, showing each other where they were dropping the wrong foot or standing too high, helping to dissect their own and each others bad habits. And with the usual feminine  modesty prevailing, the atmosphere was weirdly supportive and fun rather than critical.

When I found out that the group rides during the week, takes weekend trips to downhill and explore the state both on and off-road, I was sold. Finally, a group of like-minded ladies who aren’t going to leave me in the dust, but still ride hard enough to give me lots to learn. Some are already racers, others (like me), getting the hang of a new bike, without the annoyance of being the slow poke of the group.

As I left the group, grinning like an idiot despite learning that I’ve been riding all kinds of wrong for the last 20 years, I realized that for the first time in my life I’d found a whole group of people just like me. Tomboys. Girls who like to get dirty and sweaty, but haven’t turned into dudes while doing it. Girls who aren’t competitive, but who want to keep learning and pushing themselves for no reason other than it feels good. Girls who don’t take it that seriously and who aren’t afraid to curse loudly when it all goes tits up.

And when someone said ‘lets ride Wednesday’.. I realized that these chicas actually recognized one of their own. And want me to be a ‘diva’ too.

6 years of therapy = one morning with some mountain biking chicks.

So I didn’t meet any actual “Diva’s” and I didn’t get that dirty, but I did learn that doing scary things always has a payoff. And doing scary things with girls doesn’t have to mean cliques, discussions about men, feeling old or being frightened by expertise. You might learn something, you definitely will meet some new people and when one chick mentioned that she’d gotten a new dirt bike, well I think I just met my new best friend.

Spinning makes you fat.. and other “facts”

hbz-september-2013-is-spinning-making-you-fat-quilt-lgRupl-bikeThe other day a friend’s Facebook page blew up when she posted a article from this month’s Harper Bazaar entitled ‘Is Spinning Making you Fat?” (with the accompanying photo on the left)

Now ignoring the fact that posted directly underneath this article is one entitled, “Is your cellphone making you fat?” (apparently HB considers all activities and products potentially responsible for that slight curve around your hip area (otherwise known as “your hips”)).. well lets dive in shall we.

After all, I’m a  spinner and a cyclist. I’d love to know how my burning 550 cals per hour is pushing me toward obesity.

But before we get to the meat of the article (sorry, low carb, low fat, organic, macrobiotic meat substitute.. this is after all, Gwinnies mag of choice), lets first consider the article photo.

I’ve been riding a bike since I was about 5  years old (yes I count the stabilizer years), and I can’t say I’ve ever ridden a bike in this manner. One may question whether the lady is in fact a good illustration for the article as she’s a) clearly not fat, b) she’s facing backwards so clearly hasn’t ridden or even seen a bike being ridden before,  c) is wearing 5 inch heels (probably a bit of a hinderance when climbing those inclines even if she was facing the right way) and d), appears to be riding a padded bike rather than wearing padded shorts. I’m going to skip right past the denim jacket and over application of oil to her legs and come out and say it. Chick isn’t a cyclist at ALL. In fact, chick is clearly deranged (and heading for a very fast accident if she insists on riding backwards). Which is weird because those two words -“deranged” and “cyclist” – typically tend to go hand in hand.

But on to the actual article.

While the author doesn’t discount the fact that a spin class can in fact burn 400-500 cals (apparently she’s not only of questionable intelligence, the chick appears to be somewhat lazy.. 550 MINIMUM lady), she goes on to the horror of the outcome ” Spinning can make your butt and quads bigger”

Whaaaaat?

In fact, she quotes some professor from Appalachian State University (no.. really), “Some cyclists get really big thighs”.

Wow. That university is on the cutting EDGE of research. Next up.. “Air… its so… breathable”

Now I’ll agree that some of my favorite riders have thighs I could gladly lose my life between.. (Tom Boonen comes to mind), but these guys ride 200-300 miles a WEEK. Often more.  A 60 minute spin class is hardly going to give me the glutes of Tor Hushovd (Google them.. they’re magnificant),

Sure.. I’d expect a firmed up butt and potentially a little less jiggle in my thighs as a result of riding, but isn’t that the point?

No says Harpers. Quoting Julie* (named changed to protect her from sane people who ride bicycles)  a 30-year-old publicist, who was forced to quit spinning when she noticed “my butt felt and looked padded and my legs felt heavy”

Yes dhaling. We call that muscle. And that heaviness? Lactic acid build up. It goes away. Take a valium.

But not for Julie. Scampering quickly away from her ‘heavy’ legs, Julie “gave up all exercise for a month to let the muscles atrophy”. I guess now she’s a limp and mushy size 0 but at least she’s happy. Mentally questionable.. but thin.

Even instructors need to beware according to HB, as Erica* (named changed because she sounds like an idiot), a 49-year-old indoor-cycling instructor gave up teaching eight classes a week after she noticed that her jeans were getting “really tight, uncomfortable in the butt and thighs’. Yes Erica. Teaching cycling for 8 hours a week would give you some muscles… didn’t that occur to you AS.A.PROFESSIONAL.INSTRUCTOR???

Apparently not.

(Next week: Ballet dancer complains about sore toes)

Harpers Bazaar really did find some smart people for this article.

Though they do , finally, consider the role of diet in the apparently fattening of the nation through spinning… after all “Cycling makes most people extremely hungry”

(omitting the obvious and yet simple fact that all exercise makes people extremely hungry. Its called ‘burning calories’).

Yes. Cycling can cause you to eat more.

Stop the clocks people. Game over. Exercise makes you eat MORE??? What kind of insanity is this??

Their recommendation. Stop cycling. After all who wants firm muscled thighs and a butt you can bounch a walnut off? Who wants to fill out their jeans and hold up their panties? Who wants to get strong, build up their cardiovascular system and get that endorphin rush when you hit your VO2 max? Who wants to discover new places, new roads, new mountain and vistas you’d never see if you were sitting in a car? Who wants to overtake a weekend warrior on a $7000 bike and mentally punch the air?

Not me. I’ll be sitting on the sofa waiting for my hunger to dissappear, my body to atrophy and my ‘lean’ look to return.

Hang on though.. isn’t that sort of the definition of ….well…dying?

Ah.. the things we do for fashion.

 

 

 

 

Chick flicks that won’t ever get made

lose a guyI love a good chick flick. Boy meets girl, misunderstanding occurs, she’s adorable, he’s handsome and disarming, everything works out in the end. Its like taking a warm bath in fantasy land as defined by every storybook and Disney cartoon. And while we love to settle down on a Saturday afternoon with some TBS reruns, we (me and eleventy million other people) know it isn’t always that simple.

Chick flicks are to reality what weddings are to marriage. A pristine, untarnished fantasy. But unfortunately, as a single chick who’s spent more than a few nights in with Netflixs, watching chick movies tends to reset your expectations at somewhat (eye roll) of an unrealistic level. After a steady diet of Kate Hudson, Katherine Heigl, Meg Ryan and Julie Roberts, how can you not have unrealistic ideas of what a relationship, or even dating looks like?  Me.. I’d like to see some chick flicks that are a little more reflective of ‘real life’.

How to Lose a Guy in 2 Dates

Kate meets Matthew in a bar where he decides to hit on her because she’s not slutty or fat, has bright blond hair and he needs a date for a company bash. He’s completely career obsessed and only dates women in order to further his career. They engage in major eye fuckery and she gets on his motorcycle back to his apartment. She doesn’t want to have sex and he’s all kinds of pissed off. For their second date they head to the basketball game where she eats food while wearing a sporting jersey that is not form fitting in the slightest. He is repulsed. He never returns her texts or phone calls. She spends the next 6 months wondering what happened.  The End.

Pretty Hooker

Richard is career obsessed and doesn’t have the time to indulge the time and effort of dating. He hires a hooker for a weekend while he’s in LA. The hooker has terrible taste in clothes but is willing to be his designated driver so he gives her some cash and tells her to ‘smarten up’. She buys 20 outfits and spends a huge amount of cash, but she’s willing to have sex with him on a piano so he decides to keep her around for a few more days. His finishes his business deal and he leaves town. She takes the money he leaves for her on the nightstand and develops a major crack habit. The End.

You’re Never Getting Mail

Meg meets Tom online. They chat and he suggests meeting. Her shop is going out of business and she insists on dressing like a frigid lesbian, but she does have nice hair so he sticks around to see if she’s worth dating. He’s a bit put off that she spends her time boxing the air and twirling while her business crumbles around her, but she does have nice hair. He runs into her at the grocery store where she’s forgotten her cash. He quickly realizes she is an air-headed idiot and leaves her standing in line with her groceries. He stops chatting to strangers online and starts dating someone who shows some cleavage who he met in a bar. Meg goes out of business and winds up reading stories to kids at Barnes and Noble for $9/hr.  Tom takes his wife out sailing. The End.

Knocked Down

Katherine meets Seth at a club, has unprotected sex and becomes pregnant. She wakes up, sees how ugly and lazy of a stoner he is and decides to have an abortion. They never see each other again and she gets a promotion at work. The End.

The Wedding Planner

Jennifer plans weddings. She falls in love with a groom of one wedding. He’s flirtatious and she totally thinks he’s going to leave his fiance. He doesn’t. He gets married. She goes home to her tv dinner and perfectly folded napkin. Her dad tries to fix her up with a man-boy who she marries out of fear of ending up alone. He can’t speak english very well but he’s better than nothing. The End.

The Proposal

Sandy’s green card has expired and she needs to get married asap. She makes one of her subordinates marry her to stay in the country. He is rich and handsome so he sues for harassment and she is deported. He gets her job. The End.

And finally..

Bridget Jones Diary

Bridget is fat and in love with her boss. He knows this and decides to sleep with her. She thinks she’s in a relationship. He is dating and sleeping with other women. She finds out but doesn’t stop dating him. She thinks he’ll change if she turns a blind eye. One night at a party she is approached by a tall man who is rude and stiff who she thinks is really boring. She ignores him, goes home and writes mean stuff about him on her blog. Her boss dumps her and she decides to adopt some cats. The End.

Boom. You’re welcome America.

Cross Fit: The joy of the WOD buddy

buddy carryCross fit is a not a team sport per se, but most days it feels like one. While you’re not actively competing and no-one is scoring any goals, your fellow WOD-ers motivate and inspire you, commiserate and advise you. We discuss our ‘game plan’ for Girl or Hero WODs, we compare 1 rep max weights and use each other to benchmark where we are, and some days, where we should be. And while your WOD buddy might not be wearing a matching shirt or Nanos (it would be kinda creepy if they were).. they are on your ‘team’.

What is a WOD buddy? She’s that chick who is always in the 5pm class with you every Monday. The dude who you spot on his 1 rep max lifts. The one who you can depend on not to take 8 minutes to row 500m while you’re punching out hand stand push ups. Your WOD buddy is your partner, your support, your conscience and sometimes your supplementary trainer, but they’re the ones you’re relieved to see at the box. Sure you’re there for the WOD, but your WOD buddy is what makes it bearable when you’re hitting your 40th wall ball or trying to get that muscle up. They’re close enough to where you are to feel your pain..and when you finish the WOD, you’re figuratively crossing the line together.

I was a gym rat for many years, joining my first gym at age 16 and leaving my last age 40, but I never had a workout buddy. I climbed, rowed, ran and strode for hundreds of miles, lifted, pushed and repped for hours upon hours, earbuds in place. I never said a word to anyone…for 24 years. If I ran into a friend at the gym we’d exchange pleasantries and go our separate ways. After all, I didn’t need a cheerleader on the treadmill and lifting 20lbs doesn’t require a spotter. In fact, the only people buddy-ed up were those scary dudes with wifebeaters and ‘roid rash hanging out by the 80lb dumbbells. The gym is a place to be alone and only you get you through the doors and through the workout. Which is probably why I never got any fitter in those 24 years. But boy, I did read a lot of US Weeklys.

When I started Crossfit, I fell into the same gym mentality mode. Come, workout, leave. Smile – sure, but make friends? Its a workout.. how do you make friends when you can hardly breathe? But you doYou have to. Working on lifts requires a partner, and if you’re about to drop 120lbs on your chest, you sure as hell want someone you trust by your side. And as you’re lungs are collapsing on your 800m run, you need someone to smile at (hey you’re too winded for encouraging words), and know that they’re suffering right along with you. Your WOD buddies are the ones learning, improving, dying alongside you during the WOD.

We all have more than one WOD buddy.. after all we all need different things at different times. The person who runs as slowly as me. The chica who can go shoulder to shoulder with me on squats. The girl who makes me laugh when we’re sucking wind. The girl who always suggests I try a little more weight with a smile and of course, the amazonian buddies who lift 200lbs+ and kip like there’s no tomorrow. We’ll never actually partner up (I can’t do what they do), but they’re my inspiration and they still find time to offer quiet assurances of ‘you can do it’.  I’ll never be one of them, but along with my mortal WOD buddies, they help inspire, support and coach me to be better.

Your perfect WOD buddy?  Are you the A type driver who wants to excel in everything and face down the Rx every workout? You need the guy (or girl) who’s ambitious and fearless, who’ll urge you to do more, lift more, punch out more. Or are you more of a ‘slow and steady’ WOD-er who likes to add 5lb increments to the bar and feels pretty satisfied as long as that number goes up slightly every time? Your buddy might be a fellow tortoise, slow and steady. Maybe you’re someone who pushes themselves one day, and nurses a hangover the next? Your WOD partner needs to know when to shout encouragement, and when to leave you to sweat out that beer from a distance. Or maybe you just someone  who’s not going to make you feel guilty because you went light on those kettlebell carries. Depending on the day, I’ve needed all of these buddies.. and I’ve found them all at my box.

The guy who pushes you and the guy who doen’t (phew). The guy you enjoy coaching or the guy who makes you laugh. The dude who you’re using as your benchmark or the chick who’s helping you perfect your Thruster.. your WOD buddy is as valuable to your box as your coach (and the AC).  You win when they do, and you feel each other’s pain when you’re on that 60th pushup.

So no matter whether your buddy is shouting you on as you crush 265lbs or just thrilled that speedy 500m row saved her from 5 extra burpees, give them a high five and thank them for being on your team. You can save the matching outfits for Halloween.

Life according to the movies

I was listening to Kevin Smith ranting about how bad movies are these days, and it got me thinking about what impact movies really have on me. Do bad movies really matter?

I love to be entertained. Whether by music, movies, tv or my latest obsession, podcasts, nothing beats some pure escapism. Movies make you laugh, cry, think or just give you an excuse to consume your body weight in popcorn while you rest your eyeballs.  And if there’s some nice scenery – Mark Ruffalo, Edward Norton, yes, even the Mcconaughey  – well so be it. Not exactly Oscar caliber, but hey.. who cares. Movies are just entertainment right?

Except… except….Many of us learned the basics from a movie. The English/ Scottish border? Braveheart. What actually is Afghanistan like? The Kite Runner. The Iraq war? The Hurt Locker. And that’s just the history lessons.

Online dating? You’ve Got Mail. Life in fashion? Devil Wears Prada. Being an astronaut? The Right Stuff.

And I don’t think I’m alone. I’m sure most of us don’t know much about the Australian outback other than ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ or ‘The Thorn Birds’. Which brings me to the dark side of movies.. and no, not snuff.

Apparently movies aren’t real.

They’re made up.

*gasp*

Which means much of what we’ve ‘learned’ isn’t ‘fact’, its not even close. And yet its sort of ‘become’ fact because we’ve been exposed to this stuff so frequently and the messages are so repetitive across multiple movies.

So because I can’t change the channel on a Saturday afternoon, I’m convinced that I could get into Harvard and become a lawyer if I just wear pink (Legally Blonde), if I’m a workaholic I can make my boss fall in love with me (Two Weeks Notice), or being a hooker means I’ll wind up with a successful rich businessman (Pretty Woman). Highly unlikely of course… I couldn’t wear those boots for a start, my legs are too short.

But I do worry about the more subtle messages that these delicious pink fluffy nuggets of escapism have actually indoctrinated me with.  That single women are cute or psychos (seriously, try and think of a non cute single woman in a recent movie and the only one I get is Kathy Bates). That if you meet someone and immediately can’t stand each other, it means you’re going to wind up married to them  (When Harry Met Sally). If you’re single and alone you’re a drunk chubster (Bridget Jones), you work for a secret organization (every Angelina Jolie movie ever) or you’re destined to perish by the end of the movie (Thelma and Louise). These are the movie options featuring single women – saddo, spy or dead? Suddenly Matthew Mconaughey suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.

Yes, these are a just a few examples and its a mass generalization. Yes, there are tonnes of great movies out there with strong, single, independent women..I just can’t think of any and I sure don’t find them on my TV very often. Which means if you’re between 10 and 30, the only single movie heroines you’re likely to see are waiting to be rescued by the perfect guy, shooting people in the head or whining about their weight. Wow.. positive role models galore.

Since I’m 41 and single, (and I can’t erase 25 years of crappy movies from my psyche), this means I’m probably due to kidnap or kill someone (Fatal Attraction, Misery), inherit a few kids ( Raising Helen) or go work for some weird secret agency (Salt, Hanna, Wanted).  But since I can’t shoot while running and I’m not the best with kids, I guess I’m off to find some comfortable shoes and a sledgehammer.

The Constitution: My suggestions …

I’m now 10 days away from ‘C’ day (citizenship) and am swotting up on civics and US history like a 4th grader with a project due.  Growing up learning about long dead English kings and queens, US history is bawdy by comparison. Talk about a movie script – land grabs, internal wars, presidential murders and ‘laws of the land’ which change 27 times in less than 200 years. 
However for purposes of citizenship, I’m required to know less about the history and more about the facts as defined by the government. Which is remarkable and redefines the term ‘vanilla’
 
‘Slavery existed in many countries long before America was founded’ (phew! we weren’t the first!)

‘ ..after much violence, the settlers defeated those American Indian tribes and look much of their land’ (much? much??? much like all?)

‘ In the Civil War, the people of the United States fought against each other. Many lives were lost.’ (yes, a fair summary of 4 years and  620,000 deaths – more than WW1, WW2 or Vietnam)

Still its a requirement for me to be an American, so I’ll try not to start an argument with the Department of Homeland Security guy during my interview. I’ll save that for after I’m sworn in.

One thing which has been particularly fascinating for someone who grew up with a monarchy, is the Constitution. Sorry Nic Cage, but the reality there is way more interesting and exciting than you dripping lemon juice onto parchment (though I learned that trick in Girl Guides and I’m still waiting to find a use for it). For those outside the US (and who can’t stand Nic Cage), the Constitution was a document written to document the new system of government for America. Its actually very short and only has several main points (27 amendments were added later as people realized that it might be too liberal and wishy washy to not specify that citizens can carry guns and start a militia ). 

This ability to continue to modify the ‘rules’ is pretty cool – especially coming from a country where nothing much changes in a 100 years, and since the last amendment was 21 years ago, I think its time for a new amendment (I mean, they didn’t even have Facebook back then). Since Amendments contain often several issues, I’ve decided to draft something for your review. You know.. as a new citizen and all, I figure I’ll get a head start on my right to free speech and save the militia for later…

The 28th Amendment (as drafted by citizen #365,253,274)

Article 1: Everyone is equal.
I know, I know.. Janice in accounting can be totally annoying but while she might cancel your print queue, she is entitled to her opinion if you’re going to print out 120 pages first thing on a Tuesday morning. And yes, Bob and Joe can get married and no, you don’t have to come to the wedding unless you want to help them celebrate (nobody needs a sourpuss face when declaring love to each). And everyone gets paid the same for the same job, regardless of your gender, race, marital status, age or accent. Just because I don’t have a family, doesn’t mean I should get paid less (or my priorities really need to change). And if you don’t want to have a kid or you want to adopt a kid, you can. Because kids needs homes with people who want them (unless we’re planing on reintroducing child labor – which we’re not in this Amendment).

Article 2: Stop harking back to the historical values of America
I’m sure that wearing multi colored shoes and calling your kids ‘Billy-Bob’ without any irony was awesome, but the 50’s was also segregation, Jim Crow, poverty, women chained to the house, fear of communism, McArthur witch hunts and the Korean war. Was it really that ‘better’ if you weren’t a white middle class male or living in a Rock Hudson movie?  No.. anyone harking back to ‘a better time’ or ‘old fashioned American values’ should be forced to eat Spam, chain smoke Winstons and living in a bomb shelter. Things are pretty good now, especially if you ignore this Beiber blip.

Article 3: The President shall pass an IQ test and psychiatric evaluation
Evidenced by the 2008 and 2012 elections, all potential candidates for president must pass a basic geography, English and civics test. Qualifications for president shall not include previous experience as an actor, ability to see Russia from your house or ownership of a penis. All candidates must understand that global warming is not a Democratic scam aimed at taking away our guns and aborting children, and that the world is in fact, not black and white. Rorschach test results which include multiple references to God, homosexuals, ‘them Negros’, ‘damn Frenchie socialists’ or Ronald Reagan will exclude candidates from consideration. 

Article 4: Citizens shall be required to stop working all the goddamn time
Guys, c’mon. It doesn’t make you a Eye-talian socialist who hates America to turn off your PC at 7pm or not check your email over the weekend. This is actually normal behavior for most of the world and doesn’t mean that you have a small penis, lack intelligence or are sponging off the government. Reading a book isn’t a sign of laziness or lack of drive. Vacations should not involve work. If they did, it would be called ‘working in a warmer location’. Please America, take a break. It will still be there when you get back.

So there you have it America. My 28th Amendment to the constitution. Let me know if you have any suggestions (I know, I couldn’t include everything). Meanwhile I think I’m going to print this out for my citizenship interview. I think they might like the fact that I’m so eager to get started on being an American… after all, expressing my opinion pretty much makes me American.

Sluts and Spinsters

As a single girl in my 20’s I was confused. In my mid 30’s I became single and somewhat deranged. My 40s, well I’m still trying to figure that one out. According to the media I have two options as single woman these days – slut or spinster.
Watching TV the other night I noticed that all of the shows indicated that its cute and fun to be single in your 20s or early 30s (unless you’re turning up as a dead body on CSI) but at 40, if you’re single, you’re no longer ‘fun’ – you’re a slut or a spinster.

Think about any show on TV these days. Now locate the single woman. Slut or spinster? Weirdo or nymphomaniac?  (and yes, detectives who live for their work are still spinsters, especially as we watch them microwaving their Lean Cuisine). Seriously, I couldn’t find one who didn’t fall into either category who was single (though there was some chick who slit her own throat on ‘The Following’ which I think fell into the ‘psycho’ category) Slut, spinster or psycho?  Is my only role model on tv today the TMobile chick on the motorcycle? Jesus.

But everyone knows that tv is crap.. maybe I should be watching more movies. Yes, must be more role models in the movies right?

Lets look at some of the latest big movies and see if I can find some positive role models for single women over ..ahem….40:
Rust and Bone.. Single women in her later 30s? Check! Feisty and opinionated? Check! No legs? Fuccck. Ok, now I’ve got Slut, Spinster, Psycho or Legless.

Silver Linings Playbook?
Nope. The only single woman might be psycho, but definitely still falls into the cute and fun category.

The Sessions?
Nope. The chick is single, but f-ks disabled dudes for therapy. Kind of slut, kind of spinster, kind of psycho. And I have dated enough retards to know I’ve done my bit for the disabled community.

Life of Pi?
All dudes… (even the tiger)

Lincoln?
Old dudes and one old feisty married spinster type. And no, I’m not adopting Mary Todd as my role model, noble as she may be. The chick looked like she drank vinegar on regular basis.. and she was married. (Hmm might need to rethink the married = good archetype next week)

Les Miserables?
Well miserable is in the title, so its not boding well. But there are a few chicks… who die… so probably not.

Zero Dark Thirty
Finally! Feisty chick who might be 40 (in bad lighting and war zone type of way).. ok I can stretch it. Bold, strong, doing whats right? Check! Slut? No! Spinster? Didn’t see a Lean Cuisine anywhere.. Psycho? Hmmm questionable… she was chasing Osama Bin Laden. Ok, maybe I have a role model there… (and wouldn’t you know it, made by a woman).

So maybe I’m reading too much into tv and the movies but it the mantra of slut or spinster does seem to be backed up by real life. As a former ‘sluttess‘ I’ve dined out on my stories for quite some time and I’ve had more than one concerned conversation with a friend who is worried about my dating habits. I’ve had fun. But sluttess over 40 starts to feel like ‘cougar’, and I honestly don’t want to spend my salary on the plastic surgery and mini skirts that seems to require. So as I date less and spend more time hanging out with friends or just myself, the comments over dinner focus less on counseling bad behavior, and more on reassuring me that my spinsterhood isn’t forever and that someone will come along. When I mention riding my bike or afternoons at the movies, I hear that its ‘good to have hobbies’ to keep me ‘busy’. At this point I fully expect to receive a tea pot and some yarn for my next birthday so I can knit myself a spinster blanket. Frankly I’d prefer to live in the slut category but I fear my friends are much more comfortable with me spending weekends on the sofa, knees covered by a tartan throw as I listen to NPR. Hell to the no (sorry Ira).

So today I’m lobbying for a new category. Chick. Chicks ride bikes, travel on their own, take risks and wear what they like. They spend their weekends at the movies, hiking, eating brunch or reading a book. They garden. They write. They’re up for last minute suggestions to drive to Wyoming. They might be a little bit psycho and they probably drink too much vodka, but they’re not out to steal your man or your baby, work isn’t their defining characteristic and they’d doing just fine.

Somewhere between the slut, the spinster and the psycho. Here’s to chicks.