Resolution 2008 Update. Letters written March 1-10

The handy thing for me about this resolution is that I often have the thought, “I should get (or make) [insert name here] a card.” They should get a card because something is sad or happy or interesting in their life and I bet they would like a card. Then I never get around to getting/making the card and the moment passes. With my handy resolution, the cards get gotten. Or made. They are mostly made.

I have a card making box with blank cards, (I just use the Avery kind you can print on your computer printer–though I never print them on my printer), crayons, markers, glue, construction paper, pastels and scissors. I actually enjoy making the cards, though the results are sometimes a bit uneven. That happened with Allegra’s card. I wanted to make a sun on the front of the card and so I cut out a big round orange circle. I then cut out many tiny orange sun rays and carefully arranged them and then glued them onto the card. I glued the orange circle on top, admired my work, went to write something on the inside and discovered I had glued everything to the envelope.

  • March 1. Amanda. Card.
  • March 2. Hafidha. Card.
  • March 3. Deborah. Card.
  • Email back! Teresa.
  • March 4. Teresa. Letter
  • Letter back! Leath.
  • Letter back! Nicole.
  • March 5. Allegra. Card.
  • March 6. I think I wrote someone this day, but I didn’t make a note of who. I’m nothing without my notes.
  • March 7. Forgot.
  • March 8. Leath.
  • Letter back! Sara.
  • March 9. BroMAunts. Easter inquiry.
  • March 10. Dana. Letter.
  • Letter back! Sara.

Also, due to this resolution I’ve found an effective means of communication with my brother, mother, and aunts (BroMAunts). If I want to ask a question to all of them it takes four phone calls, minimum and usually more if I need to relay information back. I don’t like to talk on the phone anyway, much less making four phone calls. If I write the question–say “What are we doing for Easter? And does anyone want my extra Asparagus crowns?”–four times on postcard and send it off they talk amongst themselves and get back to me. It is much easier.

The other happy thing about these 10 days is that I got some good letters back. Honestly, there is nothing nicer than finding a letter in my mailbox. It’s better than chocolate.

I’ll be playing catchup.

I’m really behind on blog posts. I had a few busy weekend there and it all plied up. I’ve got the drafts in for the rest of February and I’ll get working on them. Look for: book updates! Lint updates! Resolution updates! A three sentence movie review! It’s all coming soon. But in chronological order. So you’ll have to keep clicking on February. So sorry.

Parkour and me.

The Oregonian once per week publishes a feature called, “My Workout.” I enjoy reading about what other people do to get and stay in shape and I also pick up good ideas. One guy does push ups and sit ups daily equal to his age, which I think was 45. I thought that was a good idea so for awhile I did push ups and lunges equal to my age and sit ups three times my age. Then I got bored and wandered off to other things.

This week, the “my workout” featured Adam Dunlap, who spends four hours a day doing parkour. In the feature, he explains what parkour is, and if I could ever get the article to pop up in the very lame Oregonian’s search engine–there. Here’s his explanation:

“Also called free running, parkour began about 20 years ago with a Frenchman named David Belle. Practitioners are called tracers or, in London, where it’s popular, traceurs.

In Dunlap’s words: “Tracers interact with their environment using only their bodies to overcome obstacles in their path. Whether it be a 12-foot wall, a 10-foot drop, cars, rails or other natural or man-made obstacles, a tracer learns the appropriate techniques to overcome even the most difficult terrain.”

How I explain it: running and jumping.

Here’s a YouTube video of a female doing it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wLzuqCEm5rQ

And here’s Adam Dunlap himself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SetL292wrHs

I’ve been feeling better lately, with much more energy and looking for something to do. I don’t want to start another weight program, and I’ve been building up the bike muscles again, but frankly, I’ve been feeling bored. The Oregonian feature had a few links about parkour, which I notice did not show up in the online version, and so I took a look. It turns out that Adam Dunlap himself is teaching parkour, and an 8 week class was starting on March 8. I emailed him to see if there was still space available and there was so I decided to do it.

The first class was today. Adam gave me a discount because I’m the first woman to sign up–it’s a sport that attracts adolescent males. So the discount was nice, but then I was worried it was going to be me and a bunch of 17 year olds.

I took the Max and then a bus and then walked (the gym is all the way out in office-park hell Beaverton). When I got there I found my classmates were: an 11 year old boy, a 12 year old boy, a 17 year old boy, a 20 year old guy, a guy around my age and me. The class was so much fun! First of all the gym is really cool. It has some treadmills, etc. and some dumbbells, but the majority of the gym is a big open space with some fun things along the side wall. If you click on that link above, there are some pictures at the bottom. They have a double staircase and a bunch of things that I’m sure have real names, but I would describe them as, railings, sort of parallel bar railings, some varying platforms to jump up to and down from and some u-shaped things to jump over and run under.

We did a warm up, then did some things like ducking through railings, and bear walking on parallel bars and jumping up to the platforms and bear climbing up the stairs. It was hard, but very fun. My scalp was sweating and After that we took a fitness test and worked on crawling and rolling. It turns out I need a lot of practice crawling, and my roll over my right shoulder isn’t so great, but my left shoulder roll is good. I got to demonstrate that for the class. After rolling, we did a cool down and that was it. I came home and took a bath but I can tell I’m going to be sore tomorrow. But that’s okay. I had fun.

Body Drama. Nancy Amanda Redd

I. Love. This. Book. Nancy Redd has written a book with “Real Girls, Real Bodies, Real Issues & Real Answers” as it says on the front cover. The book is divided into five sections: shape, skin, down there, boobs, hair and nails. Each chapter covers several different “dramas” such as “My face is a zit factory” or “It’s bumpy or lumpy down there.”

Aside from very informative text, there are also photos. Many photos of actual women. In the back there is a two-page layout of front and back naked views of several different women. There is also a spread (hee hee) of 24 different women’s vulvas. Nothing is airbrushed, and the constant message is that your natural body is wonderful. It’s like a more direct “Our bodies, ourselves,” but with pictures.

I’m pretty savvy in the body department, but I learned a lot too. Third nipples? There is a picture and explanation. Pubic lice? Yep. Stretch marks? Picture. The pictures were my favorite part though I also enjoyed the true confessions from the author. Now that I’ve devoured this book, I’m waiting for the boy’s version.

The Buffalo Soldier. Chris Bohjalian

I loved the two other books I read by this author: Midwives and Trans-Sister Radio. I liked the way he took an out of mainstream topic (home birth, sex change operations/NPR) and wove that topic into a gripping narrative. This book I didn’t love as much as the ones I read before, but I still found myself reading “just a little bit more.”

Terry and Laura’s twin daughters are killed in a flood. Two years later, they take in a foster child Alfred, an African American, who is not sure what he thinks of rural Vermont. The neighbors, a retired college professor and his wife, take an interest in Alfred and give him a book about the Buffalo soldiers. The other main character is Phoebe, who becomes romantically involved with Terry.

Though I really liked all the other characters, I didn’t like Terry for the majority of the book. This made reading difficult as I couldn’t figure out how in the world this story was going to end. There was a dramatic event at the end of the story that perhaps sold the ending to me, but it involved a bit too much coincidence for my tastes.

Bohjalian does not use quotation marks. This is incredibly annoying at times, because quotation marks weren’t just invented because the printer wanted more work, they were actually needed. At times I couldn’t tell who was talking and had to go back and reread. Overall, okay book.

Resolution 2008 Update. Bloom is off the rose.

So I’m at a stuck point in this resolution. At this point I’ve written to a lot of people I know and a lot of people I don’t know. I feel like I’ve run out of people to write to. Added to that, is the fact that I’ve not gotten many letters back, which I entirely expected as no one writes letters anymore. What I didn’t expect, is how depressing it feels to open an empty-except-for-bills-and-ads mail box every day when I’ve been writing so often. So I’ve been researching pen pals.

Pen pals. You remember those from when you were little, right? You had a friend from overseas and you wrote to them a few times and then never again, right? They were fun because they had funny terms for everything like “pen friend” and “girl guides” and “go on holiday.” I need something like that, but an adult who wants to send mail, not email. Not surprisingly, given that no one writes letters anymore, it was a bit difficult to locate such a thing.

I did an Internet search for “pen pals mail” and came up with a lot of crap. Let me tell you what I am not looking for when looking for a pen pal. I am not looking for love, nor am I looking for love from attractive women. So pictures of attractive women displayed prominently on a pen pal web site are not something that would keep me reading. Nor do I like flashing things on web sites. You think they are fun, but I think they are trashy and I navigate right away. I am also not looking for a site that is jumbled and cluttered and looks like Aunt Matilda revved up her new fangled computer and haphazardly built a site. Note that those last two things often go hand-in-hand.

I flirted with the idea of writing a prisoner, but the prisoner web site I went to was kind of skeevy. I did find a nice organization that connects people with Jewish inmates. Apparently, they make up a small percentage of prisoners, but antisemitism is rampant in the prison system so it is especially hard for them. Non-Jews can write to Jewish prisoners too. If you are interested, the web site is http://www.jewishpenpals.org/.

I did find some promising things, they are as follows.

The coolest one I found was called postcardx. ( http://postcardx.net/ ) Here, you can click a link and send a random person a postcard. You can also add your address to get random postcards, and there is a link to discuss things. I will use this when I am totally desperate, and have absolutely nothing to send to anyone.

A long shot, though quaintly old-school is SAPE (http://www.michander.com/sape/) formerly known as the Soviet-American Penfriend Exchange. For the cost of a SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope for those of you born after 1985) you theoretically get a list of a bunch of potential pen pals in former Soviet countries. I’ve already sent off my application, but don’t expect anything will come of it.

One of the most interesting leads I’ve found was the Letter Exchange. (http://www.letter-exchange.com/). Here you subscribe to the Letter Exchange and three times a year you get a publication with some articles and “listings.” Each listing has a number associated with it. If you are so moved, you can write to the person who posted the listing, but instead of sending it straight to the person, you write the number from their listing on the front of the envelope. Then you put that letter (or letters) with correct postage attached, in another envelope and send the whole thing to the Letter Exchange’s address. Once they receive the envelope, they forward the letter to the correct person. Genius! The person can then write you back directly if you have included your return address, or if you have listed your LEX number, they can write you by sending a letter to the Letter Exchange which will be forwarded back to you. With your yearly subscription, you get 20 free words to make your own listings. Once you have used those 20 words, each word costs 50 cents. There are a variety of categories to list under.

I’m pretty excited about this option and have already printed out my subscription form and written my listings. They are:

1. In the category of “Women’s Studies”: Are women’s colleges necessary any more?

2. In “Insights”: I’m overweight, but I’ve never felt better.

3. “Nature and Gardening”: My best camping trip? Bruno Sand Dunes. Yours?

I’ll send my subscription off tomorrow. My listings will appear in the June publication and they will send me the current issue as soon as they get my application. I can’t wait!

Requiem for a calculator

I’ve had this calculator since my junior year of high school. It was the third calculator my parents bought me, as its predecessors kept getting broken because books would fall on them in my locker. (Notice the clever use of passive voice there–I certainly had nothing to do with those books falling.) My mother told me it was the last calculator she would buy me. And it was. I used it from then until tonight when I accidentally dropped it. The solar panel broke and the calculator, she is no more. Farewell, friend. You served me through many a math problem.