Thursday, February 18, 2010

Women and exercise

Three months ago, I began an exercise program to combat my 3 years of insomnia, my secretary ass and because I convinced myself that I have Mitral Valve Prolapse (exercise is the only thing that helps).

My company has a small gym on the premises, now I use it daily. Work-friend and I used to go to lunch sometimes or stroll downtown but I started working out on my lunch break instead.

“I can’t work out at work.” Work-friend explains when I ask her why she doesn’t come along. “I would have to take a shower then redo my hair and make-up. That would take almost an hour and it would just be too much time.” She complains about the hazards of “secretary ass” too but because of gender requirements she “can’t” exercise.

Then another coworker (overweight) walks up and joins the conversation. She agrees. The trouble it would take to reapply her make-up, redo her listless, difficult hair and unsweat-ify herself are too much. They both admit these are excuses to avoid working out, but what if they’re not just excuses?

Today while on the treadmill, I looked around the gym. Four guys sweating and grunting and huffing along. All enjoying sports center and completely oblivious of the fact that they hop in the shower, hop out and their hairstyle isn’t ever scrutinized at work. Their make-up never mentioned. Their non-interesting clothes choices regarded as normal or not ever regarded at all.

Women who wear make-up to work earn 20-30 times more, so that’s an undeniable incentive to conform to these gender norms. Hair and clothes choices are constantly scrutinized. I've noticed at work when I adhere more to a gender norm than I usually do (i.e. wear a dress, heels or make-up); people comment on it. Men are more likely to comment on "big" things like a dress or outfit, women notice little things like a necklace or make-up change.

But by this pressure to adhere to gender stereotypes, are women kept separate from their bodies? Do most American women never enjoy the amazing athletic possibilities of their muscels because they are wasting energy on trying to force their bodies to fit a societal idealization of beauty? I know feminists have been talking about this for forever but it really hit me today as I was sweating along with four guys in a gym which is a "company perk" in a company which employs more women than men.

Go throw the football with your daughter please, mister.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Composting classes

Last night K and I got a babysitter for the first time ever and went to a lecture by Eric Schlosser at Belmont University. It was a refresher course for two organic local-food-buying, non-junk food eating women (us) but it gave me a renewed vigor regarding composting.

Schlosser was talking about the guy who started the organic food movement in Britain, Sir Albert Howard, and how we are all interconnected to the soil. That in turn got me thinking about composting. I have a little compost plot in my back yard. It isn’t beautiful and in the summer it draws bugs but I love watching the eggshells, coffee ground, paper towels, broccoli stalks and other vegetable scraps turn back into this black soggy gorgeous earth. I love that I am teaching my son this by doing it with him. I love watching the birds twitter around it looking for goodies. I love that my trash never stinks.

In fact, our household makes very little trash. There is usually a week every month we have NO TRASH to pick up. I wish this was so for the rest of the neighborhood. I drive down the street on trash day and some of the bins are full to bursting and they have NOTHING in their recycle bin on recycle day, some don't even pull it out.

So all of this has me thinking about having a composting class at my house this summer for people in my neighborhood- especially kids- because they love to learn this stuff. Then as time goes by and more people in our neighborhood are composting start to have a gardening class. I always have a liberty garden with lettuce, spinach, herbs, cucumbers, pepper and a few tomatoes (tomatoes don’t love me and don’t grow very well for me). Very little work is required to grow a small garden as long as you’re composting because you are providing all the nutrients the plant need to grow by composting your scraps.

So that is my idea for the day, start a composting workshop at my house this spring and get people to have less trash and more beautiful rich healthy soil. I want to help people to begin to see that everything is everything else, we are earth and sky, that without bugs and birds and possums and bats and trees and lovely dirt we can’t thrive. We are merely surviving when we buy into this technological insanity and disconnect ourselves from the beauty and wonder of creation.

Monday, February 15, 2010

IGNORED: old people and young people

Old people in nursing homes are bored, I mean, they seem to be bored- and cranky. Kids in public schools are also bored and cranky. No one has time to listen to anyone anymore and the very act of honest conversation is going down the toilet. To remedy this, I think old people in nursing homes should be bused in periodically and assigned to kids in public schools.

I have friends who are teachers for Davidson Metro and they are now responsible for case-working a few kids. This is a new responsibility on top of all the stuff they already have to do. They work ALL THE TIME. They arrive at work at 6 am and don’t leave until 4 or 5 in the afternoon, there is paper grading to be done at home and they have to be available to answer emails from students, evenings of Parent/Teacher meetings, school assembly, all kinds of weird stuff. They work ALL THE TIME and now they are basically responsible for the well-being of a few “troubled” students as well. Way to overwork the overworked.

Old people have mostly gotten over themselves enough to be able to give good advice so I think this would be a win-win situation. The kids would get some much needed attention and the old people would have someone to tell their life lessons to. The only real downfall I can think of is a kid’s assigned old person kicking the bucket or being a secret molester. I think this would be supervised though, maybe like Study Hall.

So old people would sign up for this, it would be advertised in newspapers (old people still read those) and in nursing homes. PUBLIC SCHOOLS LOOKING FOR MENTORS! 65+ and explain it was on a volunteer basis, maybe provide a free lunch or something. The mentors would be screened and the kids would be given a self-assessment, then matched according to their interests. It would probably be expensive to begin it but once it got started I think it would work really well.

Parents would have to sign a waver that stated if you wanted your kid to attend public school you have to agree to this because it would be the freaky parents who would feel their “privacy” being violated or whatever over this that would cause a stink. Man, I wish Americans weren’t such assholes and suing each other all the time. We’d be less afraid of everything.