Sunday, 25 August 2013

Superhero 2: Power Cat. Code Name: Tiger Claw.

Promises, promises. In Adventure Time (my new favourite show), in the first episode the main character, Finn, breaks a royal promise and is almost burned alive by a giant animated gumball machine. I did say I would follow-up on my blog on Superhero I. Did I promise? A "royal" promise to my royal selfish ass? I better go read it now to see what I said. Superheroes are not supposed to break promises. Earnest is as earnest does.

From what I remember, the intention of the second blog, at the time I was writing the first, was to talk about what appeared to be a dearth of female superheroes and perhaps provide a feminist expose on how superheroines are largely a fantasy created by a male population. How high school. I changed my mind. Turns out there are a lot of heroines:

Most, I have never heard of, likely because I only see what Hollywood provides for me. I should start going to the comic book store with my son more often. I am pretty sure Betty and Veronica don't count as superheroines. This is not the first time I have mentioned Archie comics. Geesh.

I watched the Avengers movie last night. I researched Black Widow this morning. Very Cool.

My superhero(ine) name is: Power Cat. Code name: Tiger Claw. My son was very serious, his brow creased in contemplation, about exactly what my superhero name should be. He asked me what animal I liked. Moving along the thought lines of Wolverine, would be my best guess. I said I like the jaguar, and so cat made sense. Since cat-woman is already taken, that ruled that one out. And she is not a superhero. Not many children want their mom to be a villain.

So, abiding by other superhero naming conventions, there were only a few options left. I was therefore crowned Power Cat. Cool and sexy. I just added that last part (see desired characteristic list for Power Cat below). No child wants to see their mum as sexy either.  Little did we know that PowerCat is the world's largest power catamaran builder. Oh well. I like boats too.

This was followed by a quick conversation as to my designated superhero powers. We threw around some ideas like: super strength, telekinesis, invisibility and invincibility. And don't forget claws. I forget what we decided upon. I am going to do that now. Rather than choose from the drop down list of superhuman traits (see Superhero I),  I will create Power Cat from a hyperbole of myself. A surreal me with a pinch of ridiculousness.

What I choose will be the most interesting part of the exercise. Will I look back to what people have said about me? Will I take inspiration from mythical superheroines? Will I build on what I perceive myself to be or what I aspire to be? I am already apprehensive that Power Cat might end up being a villainous monster. You should try this. It's more fun than doing a "What Superhero are you?"quiz.

This is what I choose:

1. Sexy strong. To note - these are not in any particular order. A boyfriend once said to me that it bothered him when we went out in public because of the way men looked at me, and asked me to turn off my sexiness. How ridiculous I told him. It was probably one of his strange attempts to compliment me. Or give me a line. Anyway, ask your friends to define "sexy" and it will likely be a different answer every-time. Some may not be able to describe it at all. But I have noticed that sometimes I have this "power" to draw men in. My sister too. Maybe it's genetic. Maybe it's learned. Maybe all women have this power, and it's just a matter of tapping into it.

What good is that power? How will that help anybody? Most of the superheroines and villainesses are characteristically sexy. This is why I call it sexy strong. Strong is super fit with a super stamina for fighting. A reason for the "sexiness" could be a distraction tactic. Since superheroine uniforms tend to highlight the feminine body, it may throw a man villain off their game whether its due to attraction or to the fact they assume weakness.

I don't think the latter explanation works so well when you are fighting gender-neutral half alien/half robots. And many/most of the male superheroes also wear tight outfits. Does that distract the villainess? Let's add something to sexy strong: What if I had the power to make any evil being I was fighting have an instant orgasm. That I was skilled in translating orgasm across the universe.  That would be very disarming.

The bottom line is this, in my research on asking friends to define sexy, there was one common element: confidence. Confidence comes from being strong and healthy both mentally and physically. Ya - Power Cat wants that. What's wrong with being sexy? Thinking about Nigel from Spinal Tap now?
2. Super healing powers - the ability to physically heal myself and others. Even though painful emotions often transmute into physical anguish, humans rely on mental healing to help them respect and remember, and as a superhero I don't want to take that away. How noble of me, eh? But if I could heal booboos and fight infections really fast I would want that super-power. I could work in a hospital as a super-infection control agent. Watch out C-Diff! Would I want to bring someone back from death? No. To say that gets muddy is an understatement. Do I want to live forever? My son and I often have the argument about the merits of that super power. He is determined to invent a live-forever serum. I told him I wouldn't want that because a) I exhaust myself and b) I don't want to see everyone around me die while I keep on going. The immortal wanderer is lonely. Maybe to stay healthy young for longer than normal. That would be nice. Let's say that my "tiger claw" aka my nails have a permanent super-healing serum that I can pass on to living creatures when I scratch them. I have to rethink that one - it's a bit creepy.

3. Freeze vision? I don't know if that is the technical term. I have been criticized before for giving penetrating, scary stare-downs. I am not usually conscious of that - I am often just thinking intensely, listening intently or observing intentionally. But doing a Medusa thing without actually turning anyone into stone, just freezing them in place for the moment would be super cool! Slowing down time. Nescafe moments. Professor X can do this selectively. Not really a necessary power, but I choose it nonetheless. And imagine freezing a bad guy in mid-orgasm.

4. Super agility. You can dodge bullets, whisk people out of the way, leap over buildings. And I would not bruise myself on the dishwasher door three times a week because I would have a super sense of avoiding sharp corners. Very Power Cat. Currently very un-me.  I am hoping yoga and wearing my glasses on a more regular basis will help fix that in my non superhero life.

So that's it. That's the list. I think I was a bit greedy. My costume is a spandex suit in gold and black. No cat ears. But a gold cat-eye shaped mask. My hair is lush and fabulous. Combat boots or ballet flats? Definitely the latter. Simple and elegant. I am not being serious.

As I was doing this, I ended up typing and erasing quite a bit. Most of my initial thoughts of desired super-heroine qualities were related to how I would want to protect my friends and family. It started there and I forgot that fantasy superheroes traditionally protect the world in general from the forces of evil. But the exercise became more than just a funny dream of Power Cat. I realized that I wouldn't want to protect the people I love from experiencing life - their life as they choose to act and think. For example, I may want to know some of their thoughts, but I certainly don't want to control or invade them. I don't need to be a superhero to communicate well - all I have to do is ask and listen. And that makes me very ordinarily human - but a good human I aspire to be. A super-smart, super-patient super-listener who can super-comfort as a super-mum, a super-friend and a super-daughter. Let's throw in super(b) lover. Go Power Cat!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Jibber Jabber

"OMG - You are going to jibber jabber about jibber jabber" - Penny to Sheldon on the Big Bang Theory.

It was not the first time I heard the term used on one of my favourite TV shows. I have also heard it used on other shows I watch. My friend has more than once referred to me as the Cliff Claven of the group. Does my knowledge of trivial facts count as jibber-jabber? Would my blogs and/or most blogs be classified as jibber jabber?

If we go by the definitions posted on Urban Dictionary (the first definition being attributed to Mr. T!) jibber-jabber derives from gibberish and means "talking or speaking non-sense". In this case the use of the term really depends on the user of the term.

When Penny asks Sheldon about what he is currently doing at work, he goes into a long explanation about his latest physics project. Now to Penny, Sheldon's speech would be jibber-jabber. To a real physicist it may also be jibber-jabber. To other characters on the show, namely the other scientists, it probably wouldn't be.

My son has an added layer of interpretation as he has an extra voice that weighs in - that of his OCD. To the rest of us, his illogical, nonsensical links to words and deeds that if not said or done may result in something bad happening is frustrating for everyone, and teaches us a lesson in patience. See: Words Away.

We know words are powerful. We know they can be misinterpreted as jibber-jabber or potentially be seen as something entirely different by both the user and the receiver of the words. This is the essential communication debate.  Jibber jabber can be a mask while we are trying to figure out what we really want to say. It may be a nervous habit due to circumstances where we cannot see any physical reaction to our statements. How many times have you left that seemingly never-ending voice-message? It is the one time I really appreciate the texting option. I can write, erase, write, erase as many times as I want until no jibber-jabber is left. For those who know me well, it doesn't always work.  I am a natural jibber-jabberer.

However, brevity is not always the best option either. Alone the following phrases, despite the use of a strong middle word are very ambiguous:

"I love you"
"I need you"
"I hate you".

There is a quote that my friends and I often laugh about and refer to on many occasions. It originally came from a personal message section in one of the local papers, and it goes something like this "I love you and I hate you, and I only hope you feel the same".  Yes - huh? And funny.

I am positive, that even from the little I have read, psychologists, therapists, behavioural specialists, marketers and expert communicators around the world would agree that identifying the deed or act related to why you love, need, or even hate someone is a more powerful way of communicating:

"I love that you sing while you shower. It makes me happy"
"I need you to hug me because I had a bad day"
"I hate that you refuse to discuss the budget when it's clear we are spending beyond our means, and I'm worried"

Although there are times when saying "I love you" alone can be heartfelt, it is more likely due to the physical expression of the feeling (look in your eyes or strong embrace) while you say it. Weighting the "I love you" with additional specifics is harder to do. Think about all the people you truly love and see if you can tell them at least five reasons why. It's a good exercise and might make a great love letter! See my blog on the Modern Love Letter. Also see the children's book: I Love You Because You're You.

"Need" is often seen as a weakness. Over the week-end we watched 42 - the story about Jackie Robinson and his genius makers. There is a speech he makes to the reporter/driver who has been assigned to escort and protect him from those who oppose the first African American baseball player to play with a "white" team. Jackie generally talks about how he doesn't want to need anybody because he thinks it makes him look weak; that he wants to be strong enough to fight on his own. He learns, as many of us do, that admitting that we have needs, whether we need help, advice, a hug - makes us robust.

I don't like it (better option that hate?) when my children use the word "hate". But I also want to help them express negative feelings. The Merriam-Webster definition of "hate" is: a. "intense hostility and aversion usually deriving from fear, anger, or sense of injury or b. extreme dislike or antipathy. Again, the use of "hate" becomes more meaningful when we can articulate the root cause of it - by identifying the fear, the anger, the injury.

So while jibber-jabber may seem like it's more fun, or perhaps the intention is to purposefully confuse the receiver, the ambiguity of simple statements is also not the answer to bettering our communication skills. I am going to make a concerted effort to supress my jibber-jabber as well as giving those closest to me the reasons behind why I feel the way I do. My friends - let me know how I am doing!

"The single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”  - Shaw.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

The Secret to Looking Younger

The secret to looking younger is...........................acting younger?

The other day as I dropped my 12 year old off at camp, two pushy mum types, already decked out in full make-up, chandelier earrings dangling, and their Gucci wallets and Lexus key chains in hand, butted in front of me to corner the counselor holding the sign-in sheet. Ok - they didn't really push me out of the way, the scene looked more like my introverted self and my introverted daughter hovering uncomfortably by the tree, but that is a topic for another day.

After letting the other mums do their thing, I came up behind one and said "I will take that for you" (the clipboard). She turned around and said "oh- yes, thank you" with a brief look and a pass-back as if I was one of the counselors. Of course I did not say anything. What was the point? I had my hair up in a messy pony-tail bun, was wearing an American Eagle t-shirt and army shorts, and I had no make-up on (maybe some lip balm). I was also sporting my Birkenstocks that clearly displayed my recent splurge on nail art for my big toes - a white wing pattern with sparkles and hints of florescent yellow painted on top of a chocolate brown base. You needed to know that.

My daughter: "Well you do dress young, Mum. And I told you not to steal my clothes".

A while back, a woman in Pottery Barn kids commented positively on a sweatshirt I was wearing that I did steal. A Ramones sweatshirt. I saw the Ramones in the nineties. I still have a bass-pick I swiped off the stage. When I told her with my red-face that I stole it from my 12 year old, she gasped with a - "I thought you were like, 19". She, by the way, also looked very young, and I was shocked to find out she had kids herself. I wondered what her secret was?

Ok - so that is a superficial example - dressing younger. I actually don't do it on purpose. I mostly dress for lack of effort and for comfort. Dressing younger can also backfire - i.e. cougar style leather mini-skirts. The question is, do I also act younger than I should? And is that why people think I am younger and more importantly (being facetious) - is that what keeps my wrinkles away?

I don't really know what that means to act "younger". What is the expectation for someone in their forties? According to "them" - 40 is the new 30. I really hate that expression.

In the western world, the list for some might look like this: I had kids. Check. I currently own a house. Uncheck. I have a satisfying career. Uncheck. I am at the peak of my profession. Uncheck. I have a partner/spouse. Uncheck. I make more than three figures. Uncheck. I own a Gucci wallet. Uncheck. I drive a luxury car. Uncheck. I have travelled extensively. Uncheck. I do yoga 3X a week. Uncheck. I give to charities. Check. I talk about current events and politics with extensive knowledge. Uncheck. I know how to play golf. Uncheck. I get manicures on a regular basis. Check.

If that is the list of expectations I came up with - that's ridiculous, isn't it? I am living in a material world.

So that got me thinking about some of the blogs I have already written, and I think being "young at heart", as the expression goes, no matter what your true age is, might include the following:

1. Being vulnerable (The Heart Chain, Parenting with a Teenage Brain)
2. Saying what you want and what you think (The Contract)
3. Living for the moment (The Old Man in the Road and Rollerskating in the Now)
4. Laughing at yourself (An Addiction to Nutella)
5. Challenging expectations (Words Away, Frickin Budgets)
6. Dancing (Dance, dance, dance, dance)
7. Dressing for you (Yoga Pants and the Quest for Eternal Youth)
8. Embracing creativity (Do you hear the muses?)
9. Self promotion/love (this particular blog or all my blogs? Tee hee.)

What happens to us as we age? Are we so conscious of what is expected of us that we shy away from confrontation at work, teach our children that wealth is everything, and put our parents in nursing homes because it would otherwise rock a comfortable boat full of material goods? We spend a lot on "stuff"  to help keep us looking young, and at the same time on stuff that makes us look like we are "successful" for our age. The stress of buying all that is enough to make any forehead crease.

Whether embracing a youthful approach is the alternative to anti-ageing regimens is obviously not something I can prove. And my mother has fantastic skin. What I do know is that I am the happiest I have been in a long time because I am making an effort to practice #1-9. And maybe that healthy glow is all that happiness leaking into my pores.  A happiness moisturizer. Bottle that Oil of Olay!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Beautugly and Sexunny

Mean Girls is one of my favourite teen films, and for those of you who have seen it, you must admit that "fugly" is a great word.

Me - I am not mean by nature nor did I put that word in my vernacular, however, I do love the idea of word combinations and the evolution of language. A source from Quora suggests that about 4000 new words are added to the dictionary each year.

So based on random thoughts and experiences I have had lately, I decided to combine my love of lists AND words.

First, close to fugly is beautugly.

Not a new one, but I tried to think of some examples that could be used to help describe what is both beautiful and ugly at the same time. I am sure you had the first same thought I did:

1. Penises and Vaginas. Strange lookin' - but what they can accomplish with a little help can be gorgeous (yah, that's right I said gorgeous), and potentially can lead to:
2. Giving Birth. I don't think I need to expand on that one.

Other things that came to mind when thinking of Beautugly:

3. Birkenstocks. And I love mine - OK.
4. The Humpback of Notre Dame.
5. Fish. Gills are ew but they have that swimming elegance.
6. Expensive Weddings. Ugly amounts of money.
7. Crushes. Beautiful and ugly feelings all at once. This ugly includes painful. But see Number 2 also.

The other word is Sexunny. I googled this and nothing came up really. Could also be referred to as funxy - but that did come up related to something database/IT. So what is sexy and funny at the same time? For some of you it might be IT, but, here is my off the cuff list:

a. Archie comics
b. Strip teases by non-professionals.
c. "Hungry bum" - when your pants are so tight, well you can imagine the rest.
d. Orgasm faces. Or are those only funny?
e. Tummy suck-ins. Cause you are trying so hard.
f. Watching a banal sitcom on the couch - naked.
g. Being sexunny.