Out From Under the Umbrella

playing in the rain


Pearl Drops


“Let me see ’em.”

I timidly put my hands out.

“No, turn ’em over.  Let me see those nails,” she growled.

I slowly turned them over.

“Oh.My.God.  Look at all that dirt.  What have you been doin’?!? I’ll be right back.”

“Aw, grandma! Do we have to?”

Up she shot from the brown naugahyde chair.  A few minutes later she came back with a bowl of warm water and Palmolive, a file, some clippers, a new toothbrush, nail polish, – usually red – and her Pearl Drops.

She sat down and arranged all her tools, moved the pink marble ashtray closer because we were going to be here a while,  and patted her knee, “Come on.” Cigarette smoke swirled from the tip of the Virginia Slim she held between her lips.

I climbed up on her lap for the ritual.

“Go on, put your hands in the water.”  Then she would begin. She’d dig, and scrape, clip, file and shape. She’d use her Smoker’s Pearl Drops and that brand new super firm toothbrush to polish the tips to make them sparkling white.  Then she’d coat my little nails in some garish shade she had.  She always had nail polish.  What seemed like hundreds of bottles and lipstick to match.

She’d hold my hands up and show them to me.  “Now, doesn’t that look better?  Why don’t you take better care of your hands?  They’re gorgeous.  You could be a hand model!”

I’d walk away admiring them but Grandma Lipstick’s manicures never lasted very long. I had to be back at it, digging in the dirt, playing rough, chipping up that bright red nail polish.

To this day I don’t paint my nails.  I still use them as multi-tools.  What’s the use?  But I still like to polish them up every now and then with Pearl Drops if I can find it anywhere.


The Bane of Reason


The Elephant in the Room

I feel like I’m normally a voice of reason, level-headed and on an even keel.  Most of the time, these days anyway, I don’t get triggered. So when I was totally out of the blue it sent me into a spiral of sorts. I haven’t experienced that in quite some time.

Being triggered, for me, sets into motion a whole chain of negative self-talk and along with it self-doubt. In a sort of PTSD-like fashion it sends me right back to that place where I was before I escaped the situation that led to the PTSD to begin with.

Usually, not always, when it’s words that trigger, there’s what’s actually said, and what I understand the words to mean.

Someone might say, “How could such an intelligent person believe (insert whatever nonsense you like)?”  I hear, “Damn, you sure are stupid.”

When I hear, “Damn, you sure are stupid,”  I start to reevaluate every negative thing that’s happened in my life and come to the astounding realization that, “Damn, I sure am stupid.  And if I weren’t so stupid most of that wouldn’t have even happened.”

Belief in talking snakes and global floods?  Stupidity on my part.

Sexually assaulted?  Stupidity on my part.

Involved in an abusive relationship?  Utter stupidity on my part.

For two fucking decades?  Unimaginably, astonishingly stupid!

No one has to say it.   I already know it.  When someone even implies it, it only confirms what I believe about myself even when it flies in the face of logic and reason.  Belief doesn’t have to be reasonable.

The reality is(nothing like a dose of reality to kick you in the head), it doesn’t really even matter the words that are said.  Another person’s opinion of me or my situation doesn’t make it reality and it doesn’t change who I really am.  No, the triggering part is the words I say to myself.  What the fuck difference does someone else’s opinion of me make? It doesn’t make me less of a person.  It is my beliefs about myself that make me feel less off a person.

Therein lies the rub:  I know that logically.  It’s my feelz that get me into trouble.  Emotions –  fear, anger, sadness, joy, and yes, even love are the bane to the existence of logic and reason.  Yet none of us ever are always logical or reasonable.  I am not Dr. Spock of Star Trek fame.  I am fully human.  And as much as I value reason and intellect I have to admit I’m not always reasonable.  And I can surely do some stupid things.

We all can.  If that were not so there wouldn’t be so many normally intelligent people who are divorced twelve times, or who lose their fortunes betting on a long-shot, or who fall for some of the most far-fetched scams imaginable. It happens.  And you wonder how such smart people can do such stupid things.


I have a big pile of baggage. No, it’s not a matching set.  I forget about it until it falls out of the closet like an avalanche on my head.

All of us come each day and to each post with our own sets of baggage; with whatever is bothering us that day, or whatever is happening at home that day, or whatever exciting things are happening for us that day.  We each come to every post, no matter how hard we try not to, with our preconceived notions of how the world works; the oughts and ideals which we value and hold dear – not necessarily reality or how things really are.

Life is hard and it’s messy.  Each of has in our own minds our various issues and insecurities.  We have our own niggles, things that eat at us and erode our sense of self-worth and security.  We all have our own perspectives even if they’re flawed.  We can only see from our own lenses no matter how hard we try to put on the goggles of another.  We can’t ever truly know what another has experienced or the stuff they’ve been through.  It would serve us all well, especially me, to remember that.


Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby


Gender is the range of characteristics pertaining to, and differentiating between, masculinity and femininity. Depending on the context, these characteristics may include biological sex (i.e. the state of being male, female or intersex), sex-based social structures (including gender roles and other social roles), or gender identity.

Let’s talk about this for a minute.

First of all, when we’re talking about gender we’re not necessarily talking about sex.  And by sex we’re not talking about the act, we’re talking about the plumbing.

Indeed most of us were born with our sex determined already.  Yes, some people are born with both ovaries and testes.  But for most of us, our biology somewhere along the way, picked one before we were born.  We didn’t get to choose that, our DNA and our chromosomes did.

Do you know what else we don’t get to choose?  Our hormones.  Some males are born with more estrogen than others.  Some females are born with more testosterone than others.

Most of us fit squarely in the middle, though.  Our sexes were determined, our hormones cooperated and here we are.  Feminine and masculine.  Women and men.  Indoor plumbing and outdoor pluming.  Boobs and hairy chests.

And everything in between.

That’s just the thing, you see.  I don’t think any of us are all one or the other.

When males are children they’re dressed in blue.  Their parents offended when someone asks, “Boy or girl?”  They’re handed building blocks, toys with wheels on, cars and trucks, bulldozers and excavators, tool belts and drafting tables.

When females are children they’re kitted out in pink.  Ears are pierced to make it obvious.  Parents still equally offended when sex is questioned, “Boy or girl?”  “Can you not see the pink stroller?  The earrings?  The bow in her hair?!?”  Girls are given dolls and tea sets, kitchens and play food with pans to cook, aprons and tiny high heels.

Left to their own devices children of both sexes choose to play with any number of things from both  groups of toys.  Boys playing with dolls, girls playing with construction equipment. They don’t see gender, even if they see sex.

 When I was a wee girl I preferred playing in the dirt, building forts, climbing trees.  Being perfectly honest, I don’t remember what toys I had.  My most vivid memory of having a girl specific toy was when I begged my mother for a Barbie doll.  It was simply because my friends had them.  When she found her face down, naked in the mud, hair matted beyond recognition, she told me to never bother asking for another.  No worries.  Clearly I didn’t care about it.

I did play girl things, too, though. When we built forts we played house.  We cooked, alright.  We made food out of mud which we pretended to serve up and eat.  The boys and the girls, equally enjoyed this make believe realm.  It wouldn’t do for the girls to have all the fun of cooking.  Not with mud.  The boys needed to get in on it, too.

When we’re all grown up men get labeled as incompetent nurturers and women get labeled as incompetent business people.  Men are rational, logical beings.  Women are emotional and irrational.  Women can’t be trusted with money and finances.  They’re shopaholics.  Men can’t be trusted to “babysit” their own children.

I’ve heard there is some truth in every stereotype.


I know men – many men- who are excellent caregivers.  And women who are horrible at it. I know men who cook and clean.  And women who burn water and leave a trail of dust following behind them.

I know many women who are financially savvy with fantastic business acumen.  And men who fritter away their last dime on junk. I know women who are calm, cool, and collected, with ice water running through their veins.  And men who are emotional and *gasp* even irrational at times.

Yes, there are feminine traits and masculine traits.  I’m not sure there would be any point in denying that.  Rarely have I encountered anyone who possessed only one or the other.  The people I have encountered who do seem to be overcompensating.  For what I don’t know.  Perhaps to guard against being called a ‘Nancy-boy’ or a ‘Butch’.

 As it is the case that there are people with a myriad of physical and biological traits that fit the very broad spectrum between male and female it should come as no surprise that there are men who prefer to dress in feminine attire and women who prefer to dress in male attire.

 And why should that matter?  What shame is there in being human?