Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Why Do Women Go Crazy?

When I was 16 I believed women were emotionally superior and more level-headed than men, and that's because at 16 we were. Not only do boys take longer to mature, but they almost all undergo some kind of dark stage during adolescence where they question their very existence. Because of their fragile male egos and because society says it's not okay for boys to show vulnerability, they almost all lose their minds trying to hold in all of their emotions.

Later in our lives though, something happens: Men pull themselves from the pit of teenage despair and women begin their slow decline to insanity. Don't get me wrong; I still think women are emotionally superior than men, but I am sorry to say I think that very strength could be the cause of our ruin. As we get older and have more responsibility, women try to take it all on. We try to carefully balance our home life, love life, work life, etc. Men know it's impossible, so they don't worry themselves trying. They focus on what's most important. They don't let their emotions dictate their actions. (*I realize this isn't true in all cases, but it's a main observation I've made based on the men/women in my life.)
Women lose their patience, then they lose their tact, and then they lose their minds. Most of us grew up with impatient mother's—scolding us often, yelling at telemarketers, and complaining at restaurants. My college roomies and I were horrified to discover that all of our mother's walked around our houses naked—barely remembering to cover up when friends came over (so much for tact). Then one day my mom wrote me a postcard from our cat (that's right, "written" and "signed" by the cat). C.r.a.z.y.

I am in my mid-twenties and I feel it happening already: I'm a bitch when I don't need to be, I'm overly cynical, I'm bossy, and I dream of the day I'll be able to embarrass my future daughter in front of her boyfriends. I look at all the older women in my life and those I encounter for a short time and I cringe. What happens to us? It can't merely be biological...menopause can only account for a portion of it. Based on observation and carefully documented experiences, crazy women disease starts early and continues on through old age. I can't promise I won't hang up promptly on telemarketers, roll my eyes when I'm waiting in a long line as if I should be allowed a free pass to the front, or even that I won't write my kids a long letter from the dog, but I do promise to try my very best to put on clothes when we have visitors.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Teaching An Old Libra New Tricks

It's been a long time since I've had to learn anything new. I haven't been in school or had to learn a new job in 3-4 years; I had reached that "comfortable" zone where things were routine and made sense. But this week I started 2 new jobs, and while being employed again makes other people think you are less of a moron, it doesn't necessarily make you feel that way. It's not that these jobs are hard (I'm an assistant and a hostess) but it scares me how inept I have become after not having to learn anything new for a few years. Sometimes I feel like I'm back in high school math class...I'm jotting down a note and when I look up again the teacher has filled the entire board with formulas I haven't a clue about and when he asks me a question I can't even remember how to subtract 2 from 4.

It doesn't help that I'm a perfectionist. I want to know how to do everything perfectly. I wish I could get it right on the first try. I wish I knew the all dimensions of artwork by heart (I'm at an art printmaking company); I wish the placement of table numbers made sense to me—who puts table 9 next to table 17? Honestly.

I know that my mind is just trying to switch gears and I need to give it time to sink in...but sometimes I don't think the people around me understand that. There have been several occasions I have felt like rolling a piece of paper into a cone and sitting in the corner with my dunce cap on. This is partly due to the attitude of my "teachers" (sometimes I see the same look of frustration my math teacher gave me when I was supposed to understand parabolas just because he did), and partly it's my own resistance to change. Getting comfortable in a past job hinders my ability to learn a new one because it suddenly all seems so foreign. I know things will get easier; these jobs will help to diversify my skills, but I'm beginning to wonder if I even had any to begin with.
Excuse me while I go put my cap on.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Kicked Off The Quarter

Poor Gloucester. It seems the only news Gloucester is able to hold onto lately is bad news. The city was due for some "good publicity" when the Fisherman's Memorial (Man at the Wheel Statue) was voted by the public to appear on the new Massachusetts quarter, but already that news has gone sour.

The Gloucester Daily Times reports: "Ignoring the wishes of 109,817 Massachusetts online voters, the federal government has rejected Gloucester's Man at the Wheel for engraving on the back of a series of U.S. quarters.

"Chosen in a landslide over hundreds of other sites in Massachusetts in Internet voting this spring, the Gloucester Fishermen's Memorial and its iconic image of the man at sea was deemed ineligible for the quarter program because it is not federally maintained, according to a Mint spokeswoman."

Democracy at it's finest...The feds won't even let us vote on what picture to put on a coin. The people had spoken. The Man at the Wheel was ready for his close up. Gloucester was ready for some positive attention. I admit in high school I used to make fun of the fisherman because, well, while other schools had cool mascots like tigers, falcons and bulldogs...ours was a fisherman who, on his off-time, made fish sticks (Gorton's anyone?). But I have to admit, I thought he was a good fit for the quarter. The stoic figure is a popular tourist attraction and holds a lot of meaning as he stands in remembrance of all those lost at sea.

I used to be able to affirm, "Yeah, I'm from the place they based/filmed
The Perfect Storm," but lately it's been more like, "Yeah, I'm from the place where all those teenagers got knocked up," or locally, "Yeah, I'm from the place with bacteria-infested water." I guess Gloucester will just have to keep waiting for some good news.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Winter Will Come Again

While I lived in southern California I talked about winter like it was a battle wound I had picked up. I told coworkers about power outages, about shoveling cars from snowdrifts before work and school, and about it being so cold your nostril hairs froze, and they couldn't even believe it. They saw snowstorms on TV but couldn't fathom the way the wind went whipping by those poor people stuck on the highway somewhere in the northeast because when they looked outside the sun was always shining brightly on the palm trees.

And after one- two- three snow-less winters, I too began to forget what it was like. I was at the pool while my friends in Boston were scraping ice off their windshields. I felt like a cheater. I felt like a wonderful, warm little cheater. Winter became this silly, far-off memory. "Oh yeah, I lived in winter once...it was crazy—" as if it were some wild and crazy concert I attended.

Even as I planned my move back to New England I knew that winter would come but I brushed off the idea of it. We were moving back in May...that annoying winter season was a whole world away.

Then September came.

Being back in the land of four seasons, my body has picked up on the subtle shift from summer to fall, then it will be from fall to...(and I swear the little hairs on the back of my neck rose up when I thought about it) WINTER. It suddenly hit me; it's actually going to happen. The sun in San Diego must have burned straight through to my brain cells because I really think I thought that maybe winter had stopped happening all together in 2006...when it stopped for me.

Like a repressed memory, thoughts of winter are creeping back to me and I'm going into disaster planning mode. I had to get Maya a winter coat; I'm restocking my candle supply; I have to dig out my old gloves and go buy boots. There is so much to do before the deep freeze sets in. I feel like calling out a warning, Paul Revere-style, through the streets: "Winter is coming! Winter is coming!" But people here would just look at me and say, "Yeah, idiot, we know." I suppose it's a little early to start worry about it all, but coming back into winter suddenly seems a lot more difficult now that I've accepted the fact it's actually going to happen.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Poetry Contest Winners Announced

The Quarter Deck Poetry Contest winner, finalists, and honorable mentions were announced yesterday, and as one of the finalist, my poem appears on the Gloucester Poet Laureate Website:


I wrote the first draft of this poem in college while reading
Charle's Olson's The Maximus Poems. Olson drew from the rich history of Gloucester (my hometown and where he eventually settled). He explored the connection between people and place and the changes (not such a good thing) brought about by technology and industrialism. I got to thinking about how much things had already changed since the time Olson wrote about them to the time I was writing about them. Time always moves forward but our words are more fluid and explore the connection between the past, present and where we're headed.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Mass. Poetry Festival

The Massachusetts Poetry Festival will take place in the Boston area this fall. Events begin on October 15th and continue through the 18th. If you click on the image above, you'll be directed to the Website where you can view the schedule of events and reserve tickets to the popular events (especially those on Saturday, Oct. 17th). Tickets are free, but you can guarantee a seat by donating a few bucks to reserve your place online. I grabbed a couple tickets for Louise Gluck's reading in Lowell on Oct. 17th, which happens to be on my birthday. People who know me know I wouldn't mind starting my birthday evening off with some good poetry.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Healthcare: The Non-Debatable Debate

I generally don't write about political topics because I know it gets everyone's panties into a twist and because I'm not the most informed when it comes to political matters, but there are some issues I just don't understand how they are even up for debate in the first place. Take an issue like healthcare.

I could go crazy following all the headlines, reading all the literature, watching all the news stations, and listening to all the press conferences and debates on healthcare, but I don't. And it's partly because I think politics messes everything up, and because I know how I feel about a topic like this independently of politics. I can't stand when people start spewing off things they heard on TV without ever adding in an ounce of their own thoughts. Do they even have any of their own thoughts?

I don't have any agendas; I don't have anything to gain or lose by this debate at this time, and I don't care what one side says over the other. Forget all that political gobily-gook and think about humanity. Think about the difference between right and wrong. Think about people who aren't as lucky as you might be. And, really, it is a matter of luck...it was sheer luck of the draw as to what country we were born in, what family we were born into, what economic status we were given, etc. YOU might have great healthcare. You might have a swell job. You might have had a better track for success because of your gender, race, or status. Your family might be rolling in the money, but other people are not. You know that, right? You don't care? Look, I am a selfish person, I'm not even a very nice person, but I know that every inherently good person and family deserves help when they need it and deserves affordable healthcare.

I don't feel this way because Obama told me to with that dreamy smile of his, I feel this way because I have felt this way my entire life. Because even children know that it's awful to see another human being suffer. Because everyone over age 12 knows that medical bills are out of control; that every time you go to the doctor's (even if it's just for a yearly physical) you inevitably end up on the phone with your insurance company because they charged you extra. That means the "big wigs" are capitalizing on peoples illnesses...and that is just sick. And doctors, it's true I'm already not fond of you because you come at me wielding sharp objects, but more of you should help people out of kindness rather than out of payments.

I know every action has consequences, every change is hard to implement, and every side should be acknowledged in the best possible way, but for once, can we throw out all the special interests and think about our fellow human beings on a human level? And with that, I'll descend from my cyber soapbox 'till next time.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I have never been good at coming to quick decisions. Choosing an ice cream flavor presents a big enough challenge, let alone choosing career moves, what city I want to live in, and how I will ever achieve balance between what I want, what I need, and what I'm stuck with. My e-mail address pretty much sums up my general feelings about life lately and all its major (and not so major) decisions.

The other day I was on the phone with my health insurance provider and the man on the line asked for my e-mail address.

"Amberisconfused..." I paused so that he could type it in the system, but the pause lasted longer than usual. "All one word..." I coaxed him along.

"What?" The man on the other end of the phone said.

"My e-mail...amberisconfused...all one word," I repeated.

"Oh!" He exclaimed, "I thought you were making a statement!"

I had to laugh. It was partly true.

In 8th grade my friends and I were using the public library's computer because none of our parents had the Internet yet. My friend told me I should get on e-mail but I didn't feel like it (an early rebellion against technology); she insisted, and said she'd set up an account for me, but when it came time to pick an e-mail address, I panicked.

"Oh my god, this is going to be with me for the rest of my life!" I said like the melodramatic, indecisive Libra I am.

"It's NOT a big deal," my friend assured me. "You can always make another one."

"NO, I can't. People are going to know this one...I can't just change it. I need to think of something really good, something memorable, meaningful, insightful..."

She rolled her eyes and waited, fingers poised on the keyboard. But it was too much pressure. My friends started offering suggestions but I found a reason to reject them all. We had a 20-minute time limit on the public computer; the librarian started to give us "the eyes."

My friend at the computer eventually let out a frustrated groan: "Ughhhhh! Amberisconfused!" at the same time typing her statement into the system, clicking enter, and memorializing my perpetual state of confusion and indecision. I couldn't get upset with her...after all, it was true.

While the decisions I had to make as an 8th grader were more trivial than the decisions I encounter as an adult, I still have the same reaction to them. After all these years, I still use the e-mail address and I'm still confused.