Why Bash the Bangs?

Okay, so I know I’m a little late to the game on this one. But come on, who criticizes Halle Berry?  The woman is incredibly talented, ridiculously gorgeous, and known worldwide as a fashion icon. And, more important, she’s a whole person, entitled to live her life as she sees fit. Yet perfect strangers think they should have a say in her hairstyle. Her freakin’ hairstyle.  The negative comments people make say more about them than they do about Halle Berry.

So, in case you missed it, like I almost did, she showed up at the Oscars in a beautiful gown and fresh haircut. Her hair was described as a fresh bob with short, deliberately uneven bangs. People on Twitter had a field day posting unflattering ‘look alike’ photos. Bored petty gossips all around the country found time to waste on judging her new do. Seriously, people with no fame credentials to their name or any iconic piece of fashion in their closet saw fit to mock the look of a multi-year recipient of one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People. They mocked her over bangs.

93rd Annual Academy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 25 Apr 2021

Photo by Chris Pizzello/Pool/Shutterstock Halle Berry arrives at the Oscars 93rd Annual Academy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA – 25 Apr 2021

Halle Berry was the first African American woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress. Sadly, almost two decades later, no one has followed in her footsteps. She has won several awards from various organizations (like the Golden Globes, the Emmys, and BET) for her acting skills. These awards complement an incredibly long list of movie and TV roles. She is the Spokeswoman for Revlon, has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and gave birth to her first child at 41 when most mothers are sending their kids off to high school or college. She is 54, incredibly fit, and still killing it in Hollywood. The woman is a powerhouse.

Where do these people get off? What laundry list of talents do they possess that gives them the illusion they should have any kind of say? Scratch that. Why do people feel justified in critiquing people’s looks at all?

As a society, we do this disproportionately to women. Men seem fine walking down the red carpet in any version of a tux they feel comfortable. Women are the ones pressured to dress like peacocks, strutting such and such designer, gawked at, fawned over, and critiqued right down to the bangs.

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Photo by Chris Pizzello/Pool/Shutterstock Halle Berry arrives at the Oscars 93rd Annual Academy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA – 25 Apr 2021

How could they wear that color or dare to show that much skin? What audacity they have to wear that dress? Have they gained weight? Lost it too quickly? Dyed their hair, had a facelift, wore the wrong damn designer. Everything is up for critique.

With social media, petty insecure people all over the world can now throw their opinions together into a pool for everyone to read. It’s like one giant train wreck after another, and people can’t get enough.

There’s always someone to judge, someone’s flaws to hash over so that those who desperately put up a front that they’re “better than” can transfer their own lack of confidence onto another. Perhaps it offers them a respite from their own damning self-talk, but at what cost?

Are we so damaged as a culture that someone as wonderfully talented and beautiful as Halle Berry can’t even cut her hair without a deluge of public criticism and shaming? I mean, honestly, the woman is a goddess on Earth. She could shave her head and wear a sack, and she would still be a goddess on Earth.

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Photo by Chris Pizzello/Pool/Shutterstock Halle Berry arrives at the Oscars 93rd Annual Academy Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA – 25 Apr 2021

Better Late Than Never …

On this lovely Mother’s Day evening, I want to send my yearly shout-out to my own Mother — I will never be able to thank you enough for everything you have done and continue to do for me.  I love you.

Oh, and as always I want to express my sincere admiration for the curse you flung at me so many years ago… the one condemning me to have children who act just like me. Bang up job there, thanks.

 

A Tragedy in Two Acts

So, if you’ve been keeping up on the trending news lately, this rant should come as no surprise.

In case you missed it though, here’s the gist:  a woman accompanied by her dogs went walking in the forest by her home in Colorado. She didn’t return home and hours later, her boyfriend found her dead in the woods.  Colorado Parks and Wildlife Service (CPW) showed up, determined that a bear had killed her and immediately started a search for the offending animal(s). They found the nearest bears – a mother and her yearling cubs, and killed them on the spot. Now at the time, they had no idea if these were THE bears or even whether or not the woman had actually died from an animal attack.

And here’s the rant: why do people assume we should just inherently have control over everything? Why is it that when people venture into the habitats of animals, we think we should have absolute control over that habitat and every living creature in it? And if for some reason, a wild animal says hey, fuck you… we respond by killing it. This woman was not in her home. She was in a forest in an area of Colorado that is no stranger to bears. Bears live in the forest. I thought everyone knew this.

When CPW killed the mother bear and her cubs, officials hadn’t even determined the cause of the woman’s death.  As far as I know, those results are still pending. Maybe she died of a heart attack, and the wounds occurred postmortem. Maybe it was a bear attack, but not these bears. In either case, it’s possible that these three bears were simply opportunistic rather than killers. I mean, black bear attacks are exceedingly rare, and it’s not like humans are their natural prey. In fact, black bear attacks are so rare that this woman’s death is the fourth fatal mauling in the state of Colorado since record-keeping began in 1960.

For argument’s sake though, let’s just say it was a bear attack and it just so happened that these three bears were the culprits.  The woman was in the woods… where bears live. Maybe she came across the yearling cubs and the mother bear attacked. Maybe the woman’s dogs went after the bears and the woman paid the price. Regardless of the scenario, the woman was in the woods… where bears live.

As much as I feel for the woman, her boyfriend, and her family, it boggles my mind that humans have the audacity to hunt down and kill something that was, until a human entered its habitat, minding its own damn business.

We will never know what truly happened out in the woods that day, and I am sincerely sorry for the death of this woman no matter the circumstances. But I hope it can be a reminder to others that the forest is the realm of wild animals. They live there. Remember to respect that. The world is full enough of tragic stories.

What’s Socks Got to Do With It?

How did humans get so lucky as to evolve next to dogs? Did our hominin ancestors see wolves on the horizon and know that someday we would exist co-dependently? We might have still been on each other’s menus back then, but did they recognize the possibilities? As wolves crept closer to our campfires to feed off the scraps we threw, did we realize then what a critical role we would play in each other’s lives, for time immemorial?

Owning a dog can actually lower your stress, so they say. I’m not sure I believe that, but we’ll just go with it for argument’s sake.  Ultimately, pets encourage our body to release oxytocin (the feel-good hormone) and decrease cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Touching or talking to a dog can actually lower a person’s blood pressure. Unless they throw up in your lap. Which happens. Oh yes, it happens.

Dogs are so loyal and protective even the smallest one will stand up to the guy carrying the big scary boxes to your porch. They encourage a more active lifestyle… hey, don’t roll your eyes at me! It can happen!  Not in my house, because my dogs are consummate couch potatoes like me, but it happens!  Or so I’ve heard anyway.  With the right parents at the helm, dogs can help teach children empathy and responsibility.

Of course, dogs help ease feelings of grief and loneliness. I mean, you just can’t be lonely with a dog. Or alone. With a dog, there’s always someone there, watching you. Have you ever tried to sit down with a plate of food in front of a dog? Or open a chip bag in a building where a dog resides? You find out very quickly how not-alone you really are.

There are countless incredible service dogs. Dogs who can alert their human to an oncoming seizure and then comfort them as they are recovering. Some individuals with autism have dogs who help calm them when the world around them becomes too much. There are dogs trained to retrieve things for those with mobility issues, walk next to their person and help provide stability. Be the eyes for someone with blindness and ears for someone with hearing loss. Some are trained to seek help from another person when necessary. (Quick PSA: when you see a service dog without its person, that person is most likely in trouble, so follow the dog.)

I haven’t even touched on search and rescue dogs who find people buried in avalanches or detection dogs finding firearms and drugs. There are therapy dogs who provide comfort and affection to a range of people in institutionalized settings like hospitals, group homes, and prisons. The list goes on!

What can’t dogs do? Well, okay, they can’t make me dinner after a long day of work, but they can keep me company while I cook. And they do clean up the floor when I make a mess, so that works out well.

As pets, dogs bring us simple joy and lots of laughs. A trainer once told me that everything a dog does is to benefit the dog… down to playing fetch or being affectionate. She claims that dogs only do things to better their own lot in life, so to speak. I don’t believe that. I believe that they want to make their owners happy, and I swear they smile with us.

My 12-year-old Yorkie, Rufus, is my “heart dog.”  He’s had some pretty rough medical issues through the years, but it has not stopped his instigation of our favorite game: ‘Give me those socks!’ which takes place every day. He could stay in bed or lounge around on any one of his many strategically placed pillows and no-one, least of all me, would say word one to him. But no. Even on days where he’s not 100%, he drags himself into the hall to lurk oh-so-obviously when he knows his chance at a rousing game of ‘Give me those socks!’ is on the horizon.

Here’s the gist of the game. Every time I take off my socks and toss them into the laundry pile, he grabs one and leaves. He then prances back, instigating a chase by stuffing the other sock in his mouth along with the first one he has already stolen. Then, I say, “Give me those socks, Rufus!” and he takes off happy as can be. He then trots back into the room to show me the socks, with a smug look on his face, and we do it all over again. “Give me those socks!” I say, and off he goes. It’s never been an out and out chase so much as keep-away – sort of like trying to take a cookie away from a two-year old while said two-year old is sitting in a high chair.

We have played this game ever since he was a puppy. Twelve years of playful sock stealing, and I still don’t know who enjoys the game more. Me or him? I’ve been wondering lately what his intentions really are with this game. Does he play because he loves the reaction? The thrill of the thievery? Or is he stealing my socks because he sees the enjoyment I get from the game? That in his mind, I’M the one who loves the game, and he’s just going along with it to make me happy.

I’ll be honest, as much as I love to see Rufus enjoying himself as a sock thief, he’s not alone. We’re both reaping the happiness reward. Maybe Rufus has the same thought.

No Time for Beauty Routines

We all see them, those people so well put together we know they must have a team of beauty professionals tucked away in a closet somewhere, ready to spring into action any moment they need to leave the house. Flawless skin, perfect hair, and make-up that looks like it was done for a photoshoot. I’ll admit, I’m envious. But I do question their methods. How do they find the time, the energy, or the motivation?

I am in awe of these individuals. I often wonder what led them down the path of an involved beauty routine. And how can I join them? Every night I drag myself to the bathroom sink to brush my teeth for the required two minutes. Even that seems like an annoying, time-consuming chore at times. I can’t imagine finding the will to scrub my face and apply an array of creams and moisturizers before crawling into bed.

Sure, I could try it. Test out my discipline and start with a bottle of moisturizing night cream. I could spend a lot of money on it too. But you know what would happen? Every night, after slogging through brushing my teeth, I would look at the bottle of cream and argue briefly with myself. Then I would hang my head in defeat, abandoning the cream and the potential benefits of its magic, before crawling into bed, dry skin and all. Don’t even ask me how I know this.

I recently learned about face rolling, the act of literally rolling a specialized jade, rose quartz, other types of stone, or metal across your face. Some of the rollers even have little pins on them—Ack! Who the hell decided that this medieval torture device was a beauty tool?  The idea of the roller is to help spread skincare products, increase blood flow, soothe your skin, clear sinuses, and activate lymphatic drainage. This is all with the intended result of reducing puffiness, contouring your face, possibly decreasing anxiety, and inspiring a tightening of the skin. Right.

Could I use all of these things in my life? Yes, absolutely! I’d rather not watch the lines deepen on my forehead or stare into the mirror at eyes that look like they’re embedded in pillows. I do love the idea of a facial massage to help relax and tighten my skin. But am I going to spend the recommended five minutes rolling a stone across my face? Every damn day? No.

How do they keep it all straight? Is one supposed to exfoliate before bed or when they wake up in the morning? How do they choose which face mask to use and how often is too often? What happens if I use my neck cream under my eyes or exfoliate something meant to stay smooth? I often find myself exhausted just taking a shower. These people find the time to apply toner, moisturizer, under-eye moisturizer, neck moisturizer, primer, etc. They know the difference between cream, serum, and face oil and are not afraid to use that knowledge.

These skincare routines seem like a science to me. I would need a chart or a diagram, laminated and hung on my bathroom wall, to remind me what order to use my products. Each one would need a little blurb reminding me what they are used for.

These beauty routine folks are capable of incredible feats of organization and determination when it comes to caring for their skin. Add to this the precision and patience of make-up application, foundation, concealer, bronzer, then the 1500 things needed for the eyes to “pop,” and we’re talking Olympic athlete type dedication.

There are those who exist in a state of beauty and vibrant skin. Then there are others, like me, who struggle to convince themselves that conditioning their hair is a worthwhile endeavor. I’m lucky if I wake up with enough time to brush my teeth (again?) before heading out the door. If I can throw a quick hair combing into the mix and look partly presentable, then I feel I can say I’ve accomplished something for the day.

What’s Next?

I’m thinking of a career change. For many years now my job has involved… people. Everyday I’m confronted with people. I’ve decided that I want to try something new, challenge myself, break free from the tethers that bind me, spread my wings, and see just how far I can fly. Also, people tend to annoy me, and I’m tired of fake smiling.

Now, I don’t want to make the typical career change; swap my current desk for one in a different office. I don’t want my choice to be a lateral shift into something mundane. I want to dig deep beneath the façade of human importance and, as they say, ‘Go Big’ (or go home – which would be nice too, but, hey, somebody has to pay the bills).

To help sort out my options, I’ve made a list of possibilities.

First off, there’s always Queen of the Underworld. I could greet souls on the final leg of their journey, witness the torment of those who brought destruction and pain to those around them, become an arbiter of justice for the evil doings of individuals, and have access to all the pomegranates I can eat. Unfortunately, that’s a lot of time in the dark and not a lot of fresh air. I wonder if souls smell as much as their human counterparts. A gathering of that size, in that space, could be an olfactory disaster. Moving on…

I could be a menacing, horse-riding, arrow-slinging, two-breasted (yes, the whole cutting off one breast thing was just Ancient Greek propaganda) Amazon warrior. Living in a community solely comprised of women would certainly cut my annoyance with humanity by at least half. I’d probably be in the best shape of my life. And I could use my strength for good, fighting the good fight and beating down injustice with my incredible archery skills. I wonder how long it takes to acquire that skill.

Sticking with Greece, I’ve thought about heading straight into the business of snake-haired creatures who can turn men into stone. Imagine having the power to transform a man into granite with just one look. I mean, that’s what he gets for looking at me, right? Creeper. Walking around with a head teeming with hissing, slithering snakes would take a bit to get used to. I wonder if I would have to feed these creatures or if they ever rest at all. What if I want to wear a hat? Would they be containable? Too many unanswered questions for this one. Next…

Maybe I should try for something more straightforward, perhaps more pleasant and homey. I could take over for Deipneus, the demi-god of meal preparation, in particular bread-making. The thought of living in a home with the scent of warm bread permeating the air sounds delightful. To wake up each morning and have delicious warm bread slathered in butter could be a dream. Until I remind myself that I would be the one getting up before the sun to make the bread, then it doesn’t sound so wonderful. Can a demi-god outsource labor? I’m also reminded of my attempt at making homemade seitan and the subsequent vow to never see another bag of flour.

Then again, maybe I should try something with more of a passive income. I could fill in for Kokytos, the river of wailing. Specifically, the current that pushes the perpetrators of homicide to the Akherousian Lake, where judgment and punishment are meted out. I love the idea of witnessing divine justice… and wailing. I do love wailing. But again, there lies the issue of darkness, never seeing the sun, and a possible locker-room-smell situation.

Perhaps I should try for something more manageable, more in line with my tolerance and skill set. Animals. I love animals. I think I’ll look there. Maybe Cerberus needs a pet sitter. Three good doggos for the price of one… that’s a win-win if you ask me.

A Day in the Life…

I went into the office again today. I can’t say it was much different than yesterday or the day before that. I thought I’d share with you all a little glimpse of the dream, just to cheer myself up… you know how it goes.

At the usual time, I made my way to my office, thankful for the door between my desk and the rest of humanity. Before I could make it to my sanctuary, I ran into my colleague, whom I privately refer to as the “Over-Sharer.” She wanted to apologize for being 5 minutes late (I hadn’t noticed) and proceeded to give me a rundown on her medical history and the most current ailment (the reason for her lateness). Next thing I know, I’m offering solicited, unprofessional advice (I’m not a doctor, I just play one on … never mind) on whether or not she should take those antibiotics now or wait to see if she feels better in a few days. Despite any appearance of paying attention on my part, not only do I not know what her ultimate decision ended up being, I have no idea what ailment we were even discussing. I zoned out after she mentioned milky discharge. Anyway, I delicately peeled myself away from that conversation and hid in my office for an hour.

At 10am, I had a zoom meeting with out-of-state clients. While in the middle of my meeting with out-of-state clients, “Clueless” found his way into my office.  He burst through the closed door without knocking, loudly finishing a complaint he had apparently started while still outside my door. The “Passive-Aggressive Note Writer” had struck again, posting a typed letter on the printer that stated, “We can ALL work more efficiently if we do OUR part. Loading the printer with paper HELPS! Thank you for being a good office mate!”  I tried to shush him with my eyes while holding a smile for the meeting. Unfortunately, he didn’t see and continued, “Can you believe these stupid &@!%#* notes?” I spoke to him discreetly, pointing out the meeting I was in, and silently cursed him and his firstborn as he dramatically crept out the door.

I recovered quickly, finished my meeting, and spent a solid five minutes at my desk pondering the many creative ways I could quit this job. I thought longingly of that scene in Jerry Maguire until I remembered that I’m not a Tom Cruise fan.

More accounts to look through, more steering my straying thoughts to the work at hand and counting down the minutes until lunch. Finally, the hour arrived. I made my way to the communal kitchen with lunch in hand, my food needing a brief foray in the microwave. I walked through the door but was impeded by none other than “Cooks a 3-Course Meal in a Kitchenette” chopping vegetables on the counter. And yeah, I’m trying to come up with a shorter name. I excused myself, leaning across shards of broccoli and carrots and what looked like homemade seitan (and no, I wasn’t jealous, why do you even ask me that!?). My co-worker chef also happens to be “Close Talker.”  Hey, multitasking, amirite? I suffered through 2 minutes of chit-chat (the time it took for my lunch to finish getting radiated) trying desperately to avoid looking at the lunch sample in his front teeth as he effervesced over the deliciousness of his homemade seitan. If you ask me, I think he did the whole seitan thing on purpose. The beep of the microwave saved me, and I retreated thankfully back to my office.

The post-lunch hours were spent busy with work, punctuated by random thoughts of “Kill me, please,” “Am I too old for a career change?” and a simple “Fuck this,” while I waited for an impending staff meeting. At least I could go home afterward.

We all shuffled into the conference room, offering each other bored smiles and conspiratorial eye rolls for the task at hand. These meetings were often quintessential “this could have been an email” scenarios. It did allow me to peruse the faces at the table and come up with some fun nicknames for colleagues who had – as yet – remained nicknameless.  Did I mention, I hate staff meetings?

Across from me was “Slink,” the person who could never be found when something needed to be done. Next to him was “Passive Aggressive Note Writer,” though she would never admit it. Oh, we all know it’s her!  On my left sat “The Gossip,” perhaps the most compelling character in the show, though I make sure to never divulge too much of my own life lest I become fodder for her water cooler trysts. Now, I have made up some stories though, and believe you me, it’s fun when those come full circle.  In front of us all, the executive manager… the not-so-heroic captain of a damaged ship limping to port. It was a struggle to stay focused. 

Finally, the meeting wrapped up, providing no more clarity about expectations than when we had begun. Back in my office, I stuffed files, notepads, and laptop into my bag to head home for the weekend.

There was no catchy closing-credits song à la The Office to accompany me as I trudged past offices and through the lobby. So, I hummed my own little tune as I exited the building out into the promising light of a setting sun.