Handmaid Provocateur

It happens every Halloween. What pop culture sensation will become the next costume du jour? Then how can we make it slutty?

Costume makers and sellers are not the gatekeepers of thoughtfulness. They want to tap in on the trends and provide fodder for those who want to push the line. Or those who want to show some leg. But just like in high school, the sluts ruin everything.*

The Handmaid Tale’s robe and head piece, the symbol of the resistance movement and the #metoo movement, has become slutified just in time for Halloween. The long shapeless red robe and the winged white hat can be seen on women protesting IMG_4385President Trump’s inaugaration and the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination.

The handmaids, from the book Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, were childbearing slaves in a totalitarian theocracy where women had no rights and were forced to bear the children of the elite because the birthrate had dropped significantly. The wore the formless, nunlike red robes and white hats.

I haven’t read this book though I tried. About 27 years ago, my friend recommended this book. But I hated it, perhaps because I was pregnant, but I wasn’t in the mood for a preachy dystopia. When the book became popular again because of the Netflix series, I took a hard pass because the groupthink this book was generating was a turn off.

But as women engage in comparing our current federal officeholder and the regime of the Handmaid’s Tale, here come – on cue – the sluts. Halloween can not take place without  women who want to dress provocatively. Combine that with the desire to make it current, and we have this latest sensation.

Yeah, some girls just want to have fun! Other girls just want to engage in political discourse. I doubt that the latter are going on Amazon to get the slutty Handmaid’s Tale costume. Besides, it costs $65 and that doesn’t include the cost of black stilettos and fish net stockings.sexy-gandalf

I’m not sure if the slutty handmaid costume overcomes the audacity of the slutty Gandalf costume. But slutty Gandalfs lack the irony of the slutty handmaids. The irony of the slutty Gandalf has everything to do with him being a Middle-earther. Oh yeah, and the beard!

*Actually my high school desperately lacked sluts, but I just wanted to relate with the kids or those of you who didn’t attend a Catholic high school in the Rust Belt.


Diamond Wars

Jewelers are not a girl’s best friend

No shots have been fired so it’s more of a cold war. Considering that diamonds are nicknamed ice makes it all the colder.

It’s a radio war between two non-self-respecting jewelers and the volume of ads leads me to believe there’s a lot of money in diamonds.

The jeweler who wants to be “your jeweler” started it. So when the second jeweler stepped on to the airwaves, I cheered loudly.

Jeweler 1 said words like “Shazam!” and talked about how we can trust him – he’s a friend.  He was an incessant promoter, and outside the occasional mall jeweler, the only diamond voice on the air. He stepped over the line of propriety with his homeyness, like the Hallmark Channel of diamond pushers. I couldn’t take it! I often changed the station when he was on air.

Jeweler 2 was quirky but went straight after Jeweler 1’s gimmick diamonds and weird fairy tales and poetry. There was a “game on” moment when Jeweler 2 talked about his GIA certified diamonds.

The war was on! Both sides went at it, calling the other a fake and a liar with cheesy poetry and cheerful lullabys. Read between the lines, if you have any sophistication, and they despise each other and want to bring hell and fury on the other’s head. But warning, a smarmy nursery rhyme full of passive aggressive venom could break out any time.

It’s all exhausting! No longer is Jeweler 2 the knight in shining armor. He fought fire with too much fire, and in the case of these jewelers, their fire is schmaltz, insulting sentimentality, and unceasing desire to be liked.

Profiteers from war? Friendly jewelers? I’m skeptical enough to think it’s


Strong is the New Skinny

Strong is the new skinny.  I’ve embraced it.  I’m too tall and come from too many broad shouldered people for skinny to be an ideal of mine.  A former cardiophile, I’ve completed the transition to strength training.  I still enjoy cardio because endorphins.  But I get those from lifting too so cardio has been downsized in favor of Body Pump.

bodypumpWomen should lift weights. We are more prone to bone and joint issues, and we have less muscle to start with.  Muscle mass determines resting metabolic rate; more muscle means more energy and more calories burned.  Weight lifting almost exclusively burns fat.  Also, weight lifting leads to strength and success and growth in confidence.

Find a strength training class or videos. Begin where you are and work toward a goal.

I have fallen under the spell of Body Pump for the following reasons.

  • Every muscle group gets worked in an hour: warm up, large leg muscles, chest, back, triceps, biceps, intrinsic leg muscles, shoulders, and abs.
  • You’re not going to bulk up because you are using light to moderate weights and LOTS of repetitions (typically 800-1000 per class). The rep effect, which is Body Pump’s focus, exhausts muscles and builds strength without bulk.
  • Time under tension. TUT refers to how a muscle is under strain. In other words, sometimes you’re going lift slowly, in four counts instead of one.  Then you will lower just as slowly, putting tension on your muscles to hold the count.
  • Muscle confusion. Obviously you can’t really confuse an inanimate object like your muscles but you can stress them in different ways to give them more chances to adapt.  The more wide-ranging the more likely to have positive results.  During a triceps set you may do triceps dips, overhead lifts, triceps push ups, or triceps lifts while lying on the bench.  Your muscles don’t have the chance to get into a groove.
  • Posterior chain.In Body Pump, you work your posterior chain, the area between your lower back and your hamstrings.  This posterior chain is important because it stabilizes you and contains the powerful gluteus maximus.  That powerful puppy is important in stabilization, support, and posture.  It is also one large muscle and keeping it strong means you burn a whole bunch of calories. In Body Pump, you’ll get to do power press usually accompanied by a triple row – and your posterior chain will thank you.
  • Women dominate my Body Pump classes. Young, old, short, tall, pregnant, and menopausal.  There’s lots of camaraderie and encouragement. They work hard. They smile. They change their lives. There are men too. Fewer of them but enough to notice the differences in the sexes.  Most men breeze through the triceps and biceps. Men have difficulty with lunges. Many have a hard time making it through a set, much like I have a hard time making it through a triceps set.  But I am a squat machine. Women excel at lunges.  Men are good at push-ups.
  • You learn great words in Body Pump: dead rows, deadlifts, clean and press, muscle isolation, squats, pulses, mid-range pulses, power presses, eccentric lifts, etc.
  • Improved self-esteem. Whether it is from the physi
  • Right up there with improved self-esteem is those exquisitely beautiful chemicals called endorphins. Not sure why everyone is not clamoring for them. I’ve been a fan since my first runners high. Just those serene feeling of warmth, love for mankind, and low-grade fatigue. A great strength training workout pumps those endorphins.  Yes, please!


Midnight’s Children

Midnight’s Children by Salmon Rushdie deserves some debriefing.  After reading this you feel like you went on a mission or at least a serious undertaking that requires some after thoughts.

Midnight’s Children is weird and confusing and complicated and enjoyable. It is unforgettable. Though it is narrated as a memoir that starts with the lives of his grandparents, the plot is not really linear or even easy to find sometimes. Don’t read it casually though; you’ll miss important details. Events and people swirl through this novel; they’re here then they blow in and out then back again. Don’t read it if you want the plot to unfold nicely and clearly. But read it if you enjoy creativity, mystery, and a little magic.

Saleem Sinai, of cucumber nose fame, lived many lifetimes in his 31 years. He along with 1,000 other babies were born in the midnight hour of August 15, 1947 at the same time as India’s independence. He is as old as his ancient country. You’d think this narration of his life for his son comes from a ragged, seasoned old man. It comes from a ragged, seasoned young man. He’s a man with the weight of his birthright “Midnight’s Children” and forefront in his mind is how his apparent happenstance life revolved around it.

Here’s a recap: Significant in Saleem’s life is the life of his grandfather Aadam and his wife the Reverend Mother, his mother Amina who was Mumtaz who was once married to Nadir who became Qasim. There was his sister the Brass Monkey who became Jamila Singer; Mary his nanny who becomes Mrs. Barganza of Barganza Pickles Ltd, the woman who irreversibly alters his life then saves it in the end. There’s aunts knitting contempt into his clothing and uncles marrying movie stars and walking off buildings. There’s India and Pakistan and even Bangladesh. There’s Bombay and New Dehli and Kashmir. There’s the Sundarban jungles with his military unit where he serves as blood hound. There’s Pavarti the Witch and Padma the Dung Goddess. There’s Picture Singh the Most Charming Man in the World and the other street performance folk. There’s his son who’s not his son and his family who are not his family and his country which is not his country. There are the other Children of Midnight and their gifts and the Widow who runs the country who seeks to destroy them all. And Shiva, the only other child born at the stroke of midnight like Saleem, whose birth and fate lie intertwined with him.

Most significantly is the narrator who is called Snotnose, Stainface, Baldy, Sniffer, Buddha, and Piece of the Moon. He carries his story through all these places and all these people while trying to explain, justify, understand, and authenticate his own embattled life.

This isn’t an easy book but it’s a book that will stay with you. I’m not sure I understand it all though I read over some parts twice. I loved this book but would recommend it to very few. You have to be committed; you have to buckle your seat belt for the tumult, hazards, and mixed up realities.


About Me

My cover photo sums up the good life for me: a book, a beach, and a crazy bathing suit.

Five Guys
Five Guys on the Champs-Elysee

I have goals like the next person, and there’s hardly a better combination than novels and warm sand.

I also have lots of ideas swirling about. To clear them out, I write.  I used to fill up notebooks. Now I blog. Except I don’t say I’m a blogger in the same way I don’t share that I never touch oleo or store-bought spaghetti sauce. It sounds pretentious. I try to avoid adding to my pretention which I need to save for using words like arcane and quotidian and pronouncing many French words correctly. It’s too over-the-top to add that I’m a Blogger.

So I like to write down what’s in my brain. I hope you like to read it.

Other people write good things too. I like to share those too.

“God loves you in the morning dew and evening rain, without caution or regret.” Brennan Manning

“There is no pleasure in having nothing to do; the fun is having lots to do and not doing it.”