The Blogging A to Z Challenge: An Unsanctioned Imitation – Day 3: C is for Chrysalis

Last month, I took my children (a.k.a. “the boy”, age 7 and “the girl”, age 2.5) to a Bubble Show at our library. It was a really cute presentation in which the performer, known as “The Bubble Man,” slyly demonstrated several scientific principles for the children by showcasing his bubble making skills. And despite my daughter’s fierce pride in being (as she puts it) a “Brat Bubble Show,” we all enjoyed it.

One of stories the Bubble Man told us was about hardship and struggle. He said that when he was a child, he came across a butterfly trying to escape it’s chrysalis and decided to help it. To his dismay, the butterfly died shortly after he released it. He later learned that all the effort expended by butterflies as they struggle to free themselves actually condition them to survive once they finally do escape their cocoons. In other words, their hardship makes them stronger.

Sometimes it can be difficult for us to realize that the pain, hardship and setbacks that we endure are a necessary part of our existence. Our choices and experiences make us who we are and serve to highlight all the great things in our lives. How can we know joy if we haven’t experienced suffering? Love without heartache? Success without failure?

Think about the first time you reached a fitness goal. Would it have been half as exciting if it was easy? Capt. James T. Kirk once said “I don’t want my pain taken away! I NEED my pain!” And I wholeheartedly agree. After all, without knowing my pain, how would I know when I am free of it?

So, accept the struggle and know that not only will it make you strong, but like a butterfly, it will eventually allow you to fly!

S is for Surprise

If there are an infinite number of parallel universes with infinite versions of me, I can guarantee two things: not a single “parallel universe Tawn” would ever consider herself a morning person and each and every one of me hates surprises. I know this to be true because mornings and surprises are like anti-matter to my personality and enjoying either would cause me to spontaneously dematerialize into the ether in much the same way a vampire greets the rising sun.

Perhaps it’s the control freak in me that refuses to accept that any surprise could possibly be considered good or have a beneficial outcome. For instance, you may ask, “What about good surprises, like winning the lottery?” To which I would answer, “I bought a ticket specifically with the intention of winning, so why would I be surprised?”

I’m sure pilot training did nothing but compound my natural abhorrence of anything unplanned. Properly trained, a pilot is not surprised by 99 percent of any number of possibly catastrophic events from an engine failure on takeoff to an electrical fire in the cockpit because there’s a procedure and a checklist for it. And since we know it could happen and what to do if it does happen, it’s not a surprise. Believe me, when flying to Tahoe crammed into your $800-a-ticket-barely-big-enough-for-an-Oompa-Loompa seat nibbling on your $5-cash-only-please snack pack watching “Twilight” on the ceiling screen 5 rows ahead of you, the last thing you want is a flight crew surprised by the mountain goat standing on that cloud up ahead.

So, in conclusion, all surprises are hereby unwelcome in my life and will be summarily discharged and removed from my presence should one be so bold as to attempt to gain entry. And all I can legally say about the morning thing is I didn’t start it, but I’ll finish it.

R is for Resistance

It seems to me that on each of the countless occasions that the Federation has wiped the walls with the Borg (fine, maybe “just barely eked out a slight advantage to prevail at the last possible millisecond” is a little more accurate), that they would have figured out that resistance is definitely NOT futile. I guess living in space has made them forget all about the realities of resistance and other laws of physics applicable to us poor planet-bound lesser species. That, and quite probably the joy of a nice bubble bath, is lost on them.

But, in the long run, perhaps the Borg have a valid point. Humans can’t hold out forever. With our ever dwindling attention spans and poor memories, the Borg probably won’t have to wait too long before we decide our corner Jacuzzi tub is simply too old to clean and we might as well let them assimilate us. Besides, the half-decayed-leather-clad-cyborg look is all the rage in Paris.

I believe that both viewpoints have their merits, but the magic is in knowing which path to take at any given time – win at any cost or the path of least resistance. At what point in time do we decide to quit beating a dead horse and let sleeping dogs lie? Fight back or let go? Either way, a choice must be made.

Fortunately, if we chose poorly and are headed toward the falls with the 1,000 foot drop and the jagged rocks at the bottom in our little barrel of wishful thinking, there are usually plenty of warning signs and opportunities to choose another path. We just have to recognize them and have the courage and fortitude to toss our ego overboard and steer toward our goal. Make a course correction. Adjust the resistance.

And as far as I’m concerned, the Borg can bite me – I’m not giving up my Bath & Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar Bath Gel in this or any other lifetime.

Q is for Questionable

As a young student, I remember hearing “there is no such thing as a stupid question” stated firmly and repeatedly throughout my education. Occasionally, some smartass in the back of the class would add the prerequisite “only stupid people” to the end of that beloved idiom, but sometimes you just have to go with it and appreciate the irony. However, as I’ve progressed through life, I’ve found this theory to be flawed. Yes, Virginia, there ARE stupid questions.

My definition of a stupid question is one that is asked in spite of the querent’s indisputable knowledge of the correct answer which is quite possibly gnawing on his or her derriere at the moment the question is verbalized. For example, when I am quietly enjoying a book in the warm afternoon sun in beautiful solitude and my neighbor’s 8-year-old daughter asks, “What are you doing?” Or when the hugely under-dressed young lady from the office questions whether the mini skirt which barely conceals her vagina is too short. Or when the Good Samaritan from the neighborhood block party discovers the wretched soul contorted on the bathroom floor praying loudly and messily to the Porcelain God and feels compelled to say, “Are you okay?”

Under normal circumstances, I try to respond to these questions in the spirit in which they were asked. I would answer respectively, “Eating an elephant. Go away.”; “Maybe a little. Go away.”; and “Yes, thank you. Go away.” But recently I’ve discovered an underlying hostility toward stupid questions in my answers. I mean, seriously, if you have to ask whether those low rise painted on jeans make you look fat, perhaps it would be easier, more expedient and far less painful to choose another item from your wardrobe rather than endure my response.

So, the next time you feel that stupid question buzzing around in the back of your mind seeking an escape route past your lips, escort it to solitary confinement for it’s own protection. Let the correct answer currently engaged in a staring contest with you be your guide and then move on. You’ll be happier, wiser and completely uninjured by any sarcasm intended for the stupid question. Now, go away.

P is for Persephone

In Greek mythology, Persephone was the daughter of the mother goddess Demeter who was abducted by Hades, the god of the underworld. While being held in the underworld, she eats a pomegranate seed and is subsequently doomed to remain in the underworld for eternity until Demeter successfully argued that since only part of the pomegranate was consumed, Persephone is only required to spend part of each year with Hades. As a result of this plea bargain, when Persephone is incarcerated in the underworld, Demeter’s grief for her daughter causes nature to slip into autumn and then winter until Persephone is released again and spring begins.

I have a few issues with this little yarn, when I consider it from Persephone’s point of view. She was, after all, considered a goddess in her own right. I find it hard to believe that she’s simply an innocent beauty who just happened to completely space out on underworld regulations at exactly the wrong moment and needed mommy to save her. What if she knew exactly what she was doing?

Let’s try it from this angle: Persephone is out clubbing one night with Aphrodite and Athena and spots Hades rocking out on stage with Styx. He is so hot that Persephone can’t take her eyes off him and she immediately decides she needs to get herself some of THAT. However, Persephone is only too aware that her mother is an overprotective battle-ax and there is no way in Hell she would approve. So, Persephone arranges for Mommy Dearest to catch a glimpse of hunky Hades with Persephone in his chariot on the way to his place for a little midnight snack. Demeter flips out thinking her innocent little girl’s been snatched and goes to Zeus to convince him to do something about it. Meanwhile, Persephone has her way with Hades and nibbles on the pomegranate to ensure her ability to obtain another booty call whenever she gets the itch. When Zeus and Demeter show up, Persephone feigns innocence and leads them down the primrose path of logic to work out a solution that allows Persephone to get her freak on with Hades and still remain an innocent victim in the eyes of her mother and not get kicked off Mount Olympus. It is a win-win situation for Persephone – six months partying with her goddess-friends and six months ravishing the hottest god in Hell, all the while keeping her place in her mother’s heart.

So, if you were Persephone, how would you rather live your life? Are you a flighty, helpless little girl who can’t do anything for herself, or are you a Goddess who has the intellect and power to shape your own destiny? I believe every woman has an inner goddess. Let her out.

O is for OMG!

I have had a lot of OMG moments in the last year or so. Of course, maybe not so many if you don’t include the OMG moments that I’m positive every single one of my male friends believes I’m writing about right now. That’s why they’re my friends – we have regular meetings of the mind at a nice little bistro in the gutter. Everyone’s welcome to join us. There’s no cover.

But the OMG moments to which I’m referring are a lot more PG rated than my male friends would believe me capable of experiencing. Sorry, boys. One was in February of this year when my husband, children and I were visiting my in-laws in Arizona. The children were playing at the park and my son took a spill and skinned his knee. I talked him into returning to the hotel room for some triage and offered him a piggy back ride the quarter mile, more or less, it was to get there. About halfway back, I thought, “This is easy – he’s not heavy at all! I think he weighs about the same as the amount of weight I’ve lost…OMG! I’m halfway to my goal weight!” In my shock, I almost dropped him, but managed to get him all cleaned, bandaged, medicated and iced up despite my euphoria.

Another OMG moment occurred just recently as I began blogging. Armed with the encouragement of a very good friend who has so many enviable qualities it’s almost impossible to not love her like a long lost sister immediately upon meeting her, I dipped my big toe in the literary ocean fully expecting a Great White to come along and find it to be an agreeable appetizer. But instead, I discovered “OMG! I love writing!” There are days that I wake up and can’t get to a computer fast enough to liberate the words clamoring to escape the confines of my (occasionally dirty) mind. Strangely enough, I can’t seem to find the words to describe the cacophony of emotions or the deep gratitude I experience whenever a friend complements my writing.

And finally, I had another OMG moment just today when I saw the cover of Marie Claire featuring Victoria Beckham and sporting her quote, “I look at David naked and I think, You done good, girl!” O. M. G.

N is for Nothing

I cannot comprehend how my mother managed to inflict the “Mother’s Curse” upon me without possessing a magic lamp inhabited by a genie or being a descendant of Romanian gypsies, but she did. My children are just like me. The boy is creative, disorganized and easily frustrated. The girl is friendly, caring and absurdly stubborn. And they both love the word “nothing.”

That is their standard response for a myriad of questions: What did you do in school today? What would you like for dinner? What can I do to help you? What was that noise? They also love all the derivatives of “nothing” such as “no one,” “I don’t know,” “neither,” and “no.” And Heaven help me, they’re not even teenagers yet.

Here’s a common conversation in my house (or rather, what passes for conversation):

Me: “What would you like to do today?”
Them: “Nothing.”
Me: “Would you like to (insert any number of suitably fun activities here)?”
Them: “No.”
Me: “Why is your sister upset?”
The boy: “I don’t know”
Me: “Who spilled chocolate milk on the new rug?”
Them: “No one.”
Me: “Would you like to wear a windbreaker or a sweater outside?”
Them: “Neither.”

However, incredibly annoying as their continuous and unrelenting use of the word “nothing” can be, there are times that I relish hearing that word with every ounce of my being. For instance, at 3 a.m. after forcing my husband out of bed, arming him with a cellphone and his unusually caustic sarcasm, and sending him downstairs to find out what made the noise that woke me up. Or when asking the salesperson flashing me an enormous toothy and blindingly white smile, “How much extra is that going to cost me?” Or when assessing the damage 3 Fun Size Snickers, 2 Almond Joys, one chocolate cupcake with pink frosting made to look like a brain and 2 Sam Adams Harvest Pumpkin Ales have done to my ever fluctuating waistline according to my bathroom scale.

I guess it’s safe to say that I want everything, and that includes “nothing.” And I think we all deserve “nothing” sometimes, despite whatever my children may consider standard entitlements due them simply for being cute. So please accept my heartfelt wish for you to receive a whole lot of “nothing” today and don’t tell my mother her curse was successful. No telling what else she might have stashed up her sleeve, and I want nothing to do with it.

M is for Morning

Oh, Morning, why do you torment me so? How have I offended you to deserve the symphony of barking dogs, chattering squirrels and shrieking birds delivered to me in stereo with the volume set to 11? What social snub have I offered that would require a bathroom tile floor so cold that penguins roosting on it would migrate to warmer climates? What horrible insult have I hurled at you for my bathroom light switch to be connected to the sun?

Please, Morning, accept my apology for every injury I may have caused you previously and in the future. We can start over, try again to be friends. If I behave, maybe the next time I get up early to exercise with you, the kids will not wake up five minutes into my workout and refuse to go back to sleep. If I call myself a “Morning Person,” perhaps the next time I arise to see the sunrise and enjoy a cup of coffee with you, my mother’s radar won’t pick up on the fact that I’m awake and call me to discuss what my children want for Christmas for the hundredth time.

Oh, Morning, who am I kidding? We can never be friends – not when my bed is so cozy and warm. Not when Evening and I are out late having a cocktail together or reducing the recently reanimated dead to tiny bloody bits of rotting flesh on the Wii. Or both. I’m sorry we have to have such an adversarial relationship, Morning. I really am. Now will you please tell those freaking dogs to shut up so I can go back to bed?

L is for Lightning

Even as a child, I loved thunderstorms. I am completely enamored with everything about thunderstorms: the pelting sound of the rain punctuated by the growls of thunder, the beauty of the dark anvil lit in pinks and oranges by the setting sun, and the sudden illumination of lightning.

However, at least once in my life, I was not so excited by thunderstorms. I had been working as a night freight pilot of a small twin engine propeller aircraft and I had no experience navigating around thunderstorms during the day, let alone in the dark by myself. I was frightened, but I had made a commitment to my employers and I was bound and determined to get the job done while being smart enough to stay safe. While enroute, I received a tremendous amount of help from Air Traffic Control and the smooth air allowed me to finally begin to relax and actually see the majesty of the thunderstorms from a new perspective.

It is next to impossible to see a thundercloud at night except in glimpses provided by the lightning. And I realized that sometimes our lives are a lot like that – trying to steer our ship around danger in the dark with only the flashes of lightning to show our path. How can you know what you don’t know until something illuminates it for you, even if it’s only for a fraction of a second? Use those flashes to your advantage and scout out the pitfalls ahead in your path and avoid them. And, every once in a while, take a break to admire a thunderstorm. It can be an illuminating experience.

K is for Kinky

I know that my husband doesn’t have a mistress. I know this because not only is he my soul-mate (and I’m not just saying that to deter my stalkers – my new Taser takes care of that), but he doesn’t make enough money to afford me, let alone another woman. And as if that isn’t reason enough, I’ve found that my recent self-improvements have provided him with a brand new wife: me.

This new wife of his likes to experiment: in the kitchen trying new healthy recipes and baking treats from scratch; outdoors biking, jogging, and playing “ninja tag” with the kids; and in the bedroom trying positions once thought suitable only for yogis and gymnasts. Somehow, in the course of losing weight, I have become healthier, happier, more energetic and have apparently elevated my sensual skills to rival that of Aphrodite. Bonus!

It’s a completely win-win situation for me and my hubby. And it gets better – not only do you burn calories doing the wild thing, all that fun releases endorphins that help alleviate stress, improve sleep quality, and make you a lot more enjoyable to be around, which in turn, boosts your relationship. You can even combine the horizontal mambo with other pleasurable things to get more bang for the buck (pun intended), such as chocolate or a foot massage. What could be better than that?

So go ahead and get jiggy with it! And don’t forget the Godiva!