Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Welcome to Hell's Rollercoaster.
Thanks for your kind thoughts. I will think of something compelling to write soon, I promise. I just need to get through this little stretch.
sorry for this post
Monday, December 29, 2008
Movies are good escape, although Rachel Gets Married was not the best choice. Slumdog Millionaire worked well. I highly recommend both movies, but save Rachel for a day you’re feeling sturdy.
And I’m trying to stay busy. The kind of pain I’m in is non-negotiable in its inevitability. All you can do is acknowledge it and ride it out. It comes in waves—like nausea—and you grit your teeth until it subsides a little and then continue what you were doing.
Dad is 90 years old and ill. Man, woman, birth, death, infinity.
newspapers and john galt
Monday, December 22, 2008
And so far, it appears to be doing OK, in a spunky little way.
Could newspapers save themselves by simply stonewalling the Internet?
I mean, just because the Internet is the wave of the future for some things, is it necessarily the way for everything? If credible information cannot be supported by the online model, maybe the producers of that information should withdraw and start calling the shots themselves.
To kill off newspapers and the serious practice of journalism is to destroy one of the girders of Democracy. True journalism is more important than the frothy infotainment that is the cornerstone of the Web, yet newspapers are shuffling about, hat in hand, begging the market to support them.
The credible news we want and need is provided by newspapers and no other institution. If the public is not willing to pay for this information online, then why should it be provided free? No, really. Why is the newspaper competing on an unprofitable playing field when they are producing a product so integral to the health of our nation that people don’t even know how much they need it?
Do you think your local TV news shows are doing the shoe leather reporting that print journalists do? Haven’t you heard your local radio hosts quote directly from the local paper? From where would the pipeline of news originate if not from the institutions that have, throughout the life of our country, provided that information?
Newspapers are in great danger and we are grossly negligent if we allow them to perish.
What would happen if newspapers shut down their online operations and re-invested in the paper product? Or simply firewalled their online versions to all but subscribers? (Aside from the fact that I would no longer be able to link to stories online.) Wouldn’t we all, ultimately, as we have in the past (cable TV), adjust, cough up and accept this free-market reality? Or, done as we always have and gone to the library? (Or library database?) Other online models might develop—aggregators of some kind, multi-subscription models—but the newspapers themselves would no longer be held responsible for keeping the nation informed without recompense.
Who do we think we are, demanding such a thing?
Who is John Galt? (Google it.)
ho ho holiday blues
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Common wisdom says the holiday blues are due to high expectations of the season and memories of joyous childhood holidays. Yeah, maybe. Except I had the holiday blues as a kid, too. Christmas to me was a few hours of cozy family togetherness that ended as soon as the last gift was unwrapped. I started mourning the end of holiday magic before it even started.
Mine was not a warm family. Interesting, yes. Intellectual, in our way. Creative, certainly. But not loving. Hugs were rare. Emotional support was mostly left to professionals. Depression was a family affair. We all rallied as best we could for Christmas Day, but nobody could keep up that kind of thing for long.
So really, my expectations for the holidays are pretty low all around.
I haven’t been “home” for Christmas for many years. My family and I were estranged for the better part of a decade, reconnecting only as my late mother’s health started declining. Now, our family of five is down to three surviving members—me, my older brother and our father—and I see no point in trying to reinvent anything with them around the holidays. If family Christmases made me blue in the past, can you imagine how they would feel now? As far as I know, they ignore the whole business anyway.
I am proactive about the holidays. I bake and decorate the house. We throw parties. I have festive lunches with nearby friends and make or buy gifts for far-flung friends.
Some years, the effort pays off with a warm holiday glow. Some years, it mostly feels like a pain in the ass. This year is one of the PIA years. Money is very tight. I was sick this week and fell behind on shopping and shipping. Our holiday party was a lot of work for a small turnout. I can think of nothing I want or need that we can afford at the moment, and Tom feels the same. But the idea of nothing under the $10 Target artificial tree is a little too sad to contemplate so we’re forcing ourselves to shop with a strict budget.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m feeling sorry for myself and it’s not attractive. And I try not to present problems without solutions, if I can. So, what now? I just did a cardio workout. That always helps. I put the kettle on for tea, that’s cheering too. I’m researching volunteer opportunities for Christmas Eve because I’ve heard volunteering can bring all kinds of meaning to the season. It’s time to test that theory. We’re going to one party tonight and three events tomorrow. Surely, surely it will all work to turn my gloomy mood around.
And if not, to hell with it. Maybe next year will be better.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Such as a couple of my favorite recent subject lines:
Last-minute holiday hairstyles!
For some reason, this doesn’t make sense to me. Especially since when you click through, it takes you to a page with a bunch of photos of celebrities with hairstyles, which probably weren’t last minute at all. I don’t know. What is a last-minute hairstyle? Maybe I’m easily confused. I clicked through to the Editors Picks (“Holiday hair in a cinch” which also makes no sense) and it was just products.
Alas, this e-mail did not come to me, but to my friend Mary: Urgent Christmas note from Alex Trebek
My god, what's happening to Alex Trebek? Can we save him?
And here’s the tortured PR lede du jour:
Herman Melville, Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck would tell anyone an all-inclusive trip to Mazatlan, Mexico for $185 per person or $250 per couple is more than a steal. They spent hours on the coastlines and in the downtown streets of Old Mazatlan soaking in the culture and personality of this beautiful Pacific Coast town.
When communications majors communicate…
Here’s a good blog post (thanks Ms. Krit) that marries a couple of my favorite topics—impulse buys and inflatable yard décor. PLUS A Christmas Story, which seems to be everyone’s favorite Christmas movie these days. (Or is it? Discuss.)
Need gift ideas? Shameless self-promotion: Here’s my fitness DVD gift round-up.
I have watched this doggie video 100 times and I’m still not sick of it. And I want a dog named Mabel.
And finally, a little holiday cheer:
consumer branding, attachment theory n me
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Well, I can console myself that at least I was on to something, according to research published in the Journal of Consumer Research.
So, to put all my work on this paper to some sort of use, I think I’ll bore all you with it.
Brand loyalty and attachment theory
In 1989, I bought two J. Crew cotton turtlenecks at the J. Crew outlet store in Freeport, Maine. The other day, I noticed a small hole where a seam was starting to separate on one of the turtlenecks. I felt a little sad – after all, I had worn the turtleneck frequently for 13 winters. I’d grown quite attached to it.
In 1987, I found a bargain in a used 1984 Honda Accord with 80,000 miles on the odometer. I drove that car past 200,000 miles and then sold it to a friend for his teenage daughter. The next car I bought, in 1997, was a 1994 Honda Accord with 60,000 miles on the odometer. I’m driving that car still.
Since that first J.Crew purchase, I’ve purchased many other J. Crew products for myself and my husband. Every product I’ve bought has performed as well as those first two turtlenecks, and every catalog order I’ve made has been transacted satisfactorily.
And because of the trust I’ve developed in Honda, when it’s time for a new car, chances are excellent I will buy another Honda Accord. The cars have performed exceptionally well over time, and so I’ve grown attached to the brand.
Clearly, longevity is one of the things I seek in a brand and when I find it, I am loyal and will choose that brand over others and over the generic alternative. Although I might initially been susceptible to buying a generic garment or a brand other than Honda, my personal style caused me to sample the brands because of price incentives, then remain with the brands because they fulfilled my emotional needs for reliability and sturdiness.
Brand loyalty is like love. We seek to fill personal needs and respond when we find it. The consumer/brand connection is a relationship that develops over time and interactions. Therefore, in this paper I will indulge in some creative theorizing by applying psychologist John Bowlby’s attachment theory to the consumer/brand relationship. Just as our pattern of relationships with people develop early in our lives through our interactions with our caregivers and their sensitivity and responsiveness to our needs, so do our relationships with brands develop through our early and ongoing interactions with these brands. In addition, the general attachment style of the consumer can also play a role in each individual’s inclination to be loyal to a brand.
The original attachment theory refers to the child’s bond with his or her primary caregiver, usually the mother. One view of attachment, according Parent Education for Early Childhood is a result of “daily, routine care given to babies by parents.” And, writes author Christine Z. Cataldo, “Attachment is also related to communication. Infants and parents learn to ‘read’ each other’s signals, creating a responsive pattern of interaction.”
These routes to attachment translate easily into the most basic marketing strategies.
“Emotion sells and brand defection is a direct result of this being manifested in customer’s minds by feelings of not being wanted or loved,” writes David M. Martin in Romancing The Brand. If your customer doesn’t love your brand, and your brand doesn’t love the customer back, all the advertising your budget can buy will not lead to brand loyalty.
In Emotional Branding, Daryl Travis writes, “A transaction makes the cash register ring once. A relationship makes it ring again and again. And selling takes on a new dimension when you put it in the context of a relationship. Selling is often talking to. A relationship is usually talking with.”
Duane E. Knapp writes in The Brandmindset that, “to concentrate on product alone is to assume that the customer doesn’t care about time, convenience, feelings, and overall satisfaction.” Switching back to the concept of parenting attachment, to concentrate on product alone would be comparable to feeding and clothing a child without paying attention to whether the child is hungry, whether the clothing is comfortable, and when the child needs love and attention more than food. This is a form of child neglect and often results in the children maturing into adults who have difficulties making emotional attachments. So, too, would that kind of neglect of a customer’s preferences produce a consumer who does not connect in lasting relationships with your brand.
So clearly, listening to what your customer wants is key to establishing brand loyalty in that customer and in general. If J. Crew and Honda were to sit down and talk with me about my personal needs, they would hear that sturdiness and reliability are high on my list, and that to establish and maintain a relationship with me, their products must be and remain sturdy and reliable.
But there is another side to the development of brand loyalty/attachment theory and that is the consumer’s individual attachment style as it spills over from interpersonal relationships to relationships with products. Bowlby theorized, and researcher Mary Ainsworth confirmed in her famous “Strange Situation” experiments, that there are three types of attachment: secure attachment and two types of insecure attachments, one that manifests itself in clinginess and one in wariness.
So how does this apply to brand loyalty? I propose the following model for attachment styles among consumers, based on the Bowlby model, which are consistent with their attachment patterns in interpersonal relationships:
The securely attached consumer: These consumers are not blindly attached, but thoughtfully so. They consider the information and choose their brand because it fulfills their needs. These consumers respond to quality, consistency, responsiveness from the company, repeated good results. Like infants who are secure that someone will come to the rescue when they cry, securely attached consumers select brands responsive to their needs and are unwilling to accept less from the companies with which they do business.
The ambivalent insecurely attached consumer: These consumer maintain firm and irrational attachment to a brand (“If it was good enough for my mama, it’s good enough for me.”) and are unwilling to experiment with other brands. Due to a basic insecurity about their own judgment, they are difficult to pry away from a brand they have decided on it, are not open to new information, are insecure with trying something new for fear of making a mistake or somehow being disloyal, which could result in some kind of abandonment. They can become angry when favorite brands are tampered with.
The avoidant insecurely attached consumer: These consumers resist being wooed by brands and avoid attachment to brands. They display what Bowlby calls “compulsive self-reliance,” which may cause them to buy according to price rather than brand because they are essentially not trusting and do not rely on information from companies to make their decisions. These consumers are indifferent to brand marketing. Getting these consumers’ attention and persuading them to be loyal to one brand is difficult and they are most likely of the three consumers to choose generics over brands.
These attachment styles play out in the act of shopping. I recently spent an afternoon shopping with a friend who has a secure attachment style in her personal relationships, as evidenced by her relationship with her family of origin. I was surprised and even a little discomfited by this woman’s ability to shop strictly according to brand. She went directly to the companies she preferred – Kiehls, Victoria’s Secret, Clinique -- to spend her money. Had I been shopping for the same items she needed, I would have spent many hours, perhaps even days, seeking the best values regardless of brand.
I am an avoidant insecurely attached consumer, just as I am insecurely attached in my personal relationships. I am not particularly conscious of brands and am difficult to sell to on basis of brand alone. For me, price incentives are more powerful than brand marketing. Note that my first J. Crew purchases were at an outlet store and all my Hondas have been purchased used.
Because I am skittish and hard to convince, I am not a consumer worth actively pursuing. In Emotional Branding, Daryl Travis cites Larry Light on “...the necessity of attracting not just loyal customers, but the right loyal customers – the loyal heavy users. He quotes part of a proprietary study done by The Campbell Soup Company, which segmented its buyers into four consumer groups: most profitable, profitable, borderline, and avoid. The most profitable group delivered three times the profit of the break-even borderline group. All of one brand’s profits came from a mere 10 percent of its customer base.”
As a wary, insecurely attached consumer, I am in the “borderline” or even “avoid” group. I am not attractive to marketers, but I can be seduced by price incentives backed up with the reliability and sturdiness I crave. “Customers looking for the lowest price will only be loyal to the price, not the brand. On the other hand when customers perceive that the brand consistently delivers value, it has the foundation to become a genuine brand,” Knappe writes.
Although I had heard good things about Hondas, if I had found another car that did not have a bad reputation at an acceptable price, I might have purchased that and never found my way to Honda loyalty. (In fact, my first two cars were VW Rabbits but I was persuaded by my husband not to buy a third because he perceived them as unreliable.) However, just as people who are insecurely attached in their personal relationships can, over time and with consistent positive experiences, for secure attachments (as I have with my husband of 17 years), so can they develop brand loyalty with reliable products.
I am also a consumer who is loyal, but only up to a point. While I am not normally brand-conscious, once I have developed an attachment to a brand, I am that brand’s to lose by not maintaining the qualities that hooked me. My wariness makes me easy to lose. “There is no doubt that a customer who feels valued and loved by you will be more likely to remain with you and give you every opportunity to do more business with them,” writes Martin.
In contrast to my purchasing style, a securely attached consumer might make the same brand choices I have made in Honda and J. Crew, but for different reasons. A securely attached consumer may decide on Honda after researching the brand, decide on J. Crew because of the lifestyle depicted in the company’s advertising. These customers might be reached through traditional brand marketing methods, including lifestyle branding. They are more confident and less wary than I and more likely to be unabashedly attracted to a brand as a lifestyle choice because they are less in need of “proof” of love. They also will be open to new products under a brand name.
These are savvy consumers who think well of themselves and are likely to bail out of “abusive” relationships with brands that, for example, change products capriciously and not for the better, or that market intrusively without respecting the consumer’s personal boundaries. One of the hallmarks of abusive parental behaviors is a blurring of boundaries between parent and child which can manifest itself in parents not giving children privacy or becoming controlling. This also translates quite easily into the relationship between product and consumer, which can become abusive when marketers don’t respect consumers’ privacy.
“Customers like intimacy, but not intrusive, and good relationship management can make the difference between whether your brand is perceived as a really close friend or an unwelcome visitor” writes Martin. A company that pesters customers with numerous telemarketing calls, that requires too much personal information with run-of-the-mill purchases (a la Radio Shack), or that nickels and dimes its customers, may drive even the securely attached consumer away.
The ambivalent insecurely attached customer can be extremely loyal to certain products, but is not necessarily open to changes in the brand or new products in the brand family. These are the customers who buy Ivory soap but not Ivory Liqui-Gel, use Arm & Hammer Baking Soda but resist Arm & Hammer Fabric Softener Sheets. These customers have a large dose of sentimentality mixed into their brand-sensitivity and are loyal to a product out of entrenched habit rather than thoughtfulness about the reality of a brand, just as a child might be attached to the concept of “mother” yet feel ambivalent about the reality of a mother who is not responsive to his or her needs.
In addition, these customers, entrenched in a concept rather than a product, are easier to anger with changes than to seduce with improvements. These are the customers who believe that “if it ain’t broke, why fix it” and who prefer “the way we were” to “new and improved.”
Clearly, it is important for those in branding research to understand the various attachment styles people bring to the consumer experience by asking such questions as why consumers try new brands, what qualities in a brand makes them feel connected, and what brands can do to alienate them as consumers. By understanding the emotional needs and attachment styles consumers bring to shopping for products, companies can learn how to woo and retain the most desirable consumers – those who are capable of lasting and developing relationships with brands. In addition, companies can learn how to keep the insecurely attached avoidant consumers who stumble upon the brand, and how to help insecurely attached ambivalent consumers embrace new product developments from the brands to which they’ve grown attached. In addition, if they choose, marketers can target difficult attachment styles by, for example, targeting ambivalent insecurely attached consumers with nostalgic marketing of new products and insecure avoidant consumers with price incentives backed up by nurturing customer service.
Clearly, my theory is as yet just that – a theory based on anecdotal evidence and speculation. Further research would be required to connect interpersonal attachment style with consumer attachment style, and then to relate that to marketing style for various consumers. However, as choices in products increase exponentially, all competing for the same consumers, marketers will need to explore deeply not only what the individual product brings to the marketplace, but what the individual consumer brings as well.
Cataldo, Christine Z. Parent education for early childhood : child-rearing concepts and program content for the student and practicing professional / Publisher: New York : Teachers College, Columbia Univerity, c1987.
Martin, David N. Title: Romancing the brand : the power of advertising and how to use it / Publisher: New York : AMACOM, c1989. Description: xvi, 215 p. : ill. ; 26 cm.
Emotional branding : how successful brands gain the irrational edge / Daryl Travis (with help from Harry). Author: Travis, Daryl. Holdings: Item Holdings
Call Number: 658.8343 T782E 2000 Publisher: Roseville, Calif. : Prima Venture, c2000.
men and women and the crosses they bear
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
I couldn’t argue with John. And when I told Tom, he agreed with absolute conviction.
I believe them.
When I’m kvetchy about my professional struggles and worried about money, I feel like I’m letting myself down, not that I’ve failed in my role in society. But men have internalized the judgment of society for their ability to financially support not only themselves, but also their loved ones. And the ability to make money seems to define their masculinity in an indefinable way. (Yes, I am speaking in sweeping generalizations. If you don’t like it, write your own blog.)
In a NTY column, a psychiatrist talks about what fallen titans of Wall Street are feeling these days:
The problem was that his sense of success and accomplishment was intimately tied to his financial status; he did not know how to feel competent or good about himself without this external measure of his value.
I’d compare all this to how many women (i.e. me) feel about their weight. Men know we worry about it a lot, but they will never be able to fully understand the full effects of body image issues. I’m in a fat phase right now and I can’t even get comfortable in bed at night, so conscious am I of my unacceptably squishy bits. Even as I roll around, trying to find a position where I feel thin, I know I’m being ridiculous. So I’m a few pounds overweight. A little more work, a little less chocolate. I’ll never be thin again (too much work) but I can get it back under control.
But what if I don’t?
According to Gretchen Rubin.in her very excellent blog, The Happiness Project (envy envy envy, she’s doing wonderful work), all this fretting about weight may make us depressed. She writes:
In his book What You Can Change . . . and What You Can't (p. 190), Martin Seligman points out: “All thin-ideal cultures…have roughly twice as much depression in women as men. (Women diet twice as much as men...) [In] cultures without the thin ideal…the amount of depression in women and men in these cultures is the same. This suggests that around the world, the thin ideal and dieting not only cause eating disorders but also cause women to be more depressed than men.” Two root causes of depression are failure and helplessness; dieting makes you feel both. (Note: I can't find my copy of the book to double-check the quotation.)
(Full post here.)
So, how’s this holiday treating you all? You got no money and you’re full of holiday treats? Broke ‘n’ fat? Everybody feel bad?
Eh. We’ll get over it.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
And read about the implications of this here.
random holiday research
“If, for instance, you walk into a room with a nice, fresh evergreen tree and there is no odor to it, or the odor is not what you expect, that experience will not make as much sense to you.
“You might not be able to put your finger on what’s wrong, but you would know that something about this scene wasn’t quite right,” he says. “There is a whole constellation of stimuli that are part of our sensory world, especially at the holiday season. We put those things together in context automatically.”
Fair enough. We have a little fake tree, but Tom is out right now looking for fresh garland to hang in the living room so we have the scent of evergreen in the house. The holidays aren’t right without it, although it is kind of a stretch to link the holiday with this very general research.
But then Dr. Lorig goes on to say:
“…we are actually trained to ignore odors in most settings. 'You can be in a room that is full of books and computers and telephones and all these things that emit odors, but you probably don’t notice,' he says. 'Despite the fact that the air around us is full of molecules that we can smell, most of the time we don’t. We tend to smell only those things when specifically ‘looking’ for a smell or when something isn’t quite right.'”
I think we smell those things, don’t you? The minute he mentioned the smells of books and computers and telephones, I knew what they smelled like. If someone says “office” to you, doesn’t your mind invent a distinctive smell of plastic, paper, carpet fiber, cubicles, toner, electronics and people? We must be noticing on some level. Maybe, just like the smell of evergreen and vanilla makes us feel festive, like lavender and eucalyptus relax us and tomato soup and sour milk make us nostalgic, the smell of office makes us feel efficient. Or perhaps bored.
That is all. Here’s a random cartoon for you. Made me laugh. Your mileage may vary.
Friday, December 12, 2008
I learned this on Monday morning, when I realized at check-in for our annual holiday in Puerto Vallarta with Tom’s family, that I had grabbed my old passport (with the fabulous, exotic photo) instead of my new one (pleasant but nothing special photo). What a lousy revelation that was.
I booked myself onto another flight that evening and off Tom went to sunny Mexico without me. Of course, this was one of the very few times we’d taken Tom’s truck to the airport instead of my car. Tom drives a full-sized pickup that I have never learned to drive and I wasn’t about to try in rush hour traffic. We’re pinching pennies like everyone else these days, so I called Mary who very kindly came and got me and took me home.
Oh, I was a sad little soldier that day, sitting on the couch in a cold house (we’d turned the heat down before we left and I didn’t turn it back up) watching TV and playing with my computer. The house felt strange, a world between worlds. The detritus of our morning seemed like relics of a more hopeful time. I kept a low online profile, trying to pretend I really was gone. I wrapped myself in a blanket and while Tom sipped two-for-one margaritas al fresco at the River Cafe, I ate canned low-fat chicken soup for lunch and felt sorry for myself.
I parted with $50 for a SuperShuttle back to the airport. I must have looked suspicious with my one little carry-on (Tom took our luggage) because the driver asked if I was going to Mexico to find a boyfriend. Shut up and drive. I hate SuperShuttle. If I wanted to chitchat I’d call a friend. Besides, this guy was reading his emails while he drove. I wish I hadn’t pre-tipped when I paid online.
I arrived in PV after dark but those nice people had waited for me to have dinner and agreed beforehand that they would not rag me about my stupidity. I’m a travel writer, fer cryin’ out loud. I ragged myself but Aunt Georgia assured me that my screw up just made everyone else feel better about their own travel screw ups.
Aside from, that the trip went well. Much too much eating and drinking but that’s how that family rolls. I hope someday to fit back into my pants…
the first gift in
Sunday, December 7, 2008
An eight-bottle wine cooler is a very fine gift except it’s kind of a major appliance that eats up a lot of counter space. Also, unless we are planning heavy entertaining, we rarely have more than a bottle or two of wine in the house. We like wine, but we’re not connoisseurs. We buy it, we drink it. Sometimes we open it, have a glass, then let it turn to vinegar. We often buy wine at the supermarket. When people give us good bottles of wine, we save them for special occasions that never arrive. We keep them in a wine rack, next to a bottle of Diet Coke and a bottle of club soda.
But now we have an eight-bottle wine cooler to live up to. So. We could keep more wine in the house. That’s not unthinkable. We could start collecting audacious little cabernets and putting them in our wine cooler. But is it appropriate to alter one’s behavior for the sole purpose of accommodating a gift?
We put the cooler on a counter in the kitchen, where it looked very large and important and startled us every time we went into the kitchen.
“It’s a good gift,” I said, as we looked at it. “It would just be better if…”
“…it were something else?” Tom said.
We woke yesterday morning and the first thing we both thought was, “Oh, we now have an eight-bottle wine cooler.”
I had to do some baking and needed the counter space so I asked Tom to move the wine cooler. He picked it up and walked around and around the house, looking for another place to keep it. It eventually got kind of heavy so he just stuck it on a desk near the back door, where it looked very large and important and startled us every time went in or out of the house.
Finally, Tom rearranged our cabinets and found space that could accommodate an eight-bottle wine cooler. We put the cooler in the cabinet, plugged it in, and put two bottles of wine in it, since that’s what we happened to have. Now, we will either marvel at the cool freshness of our two bottles of audaciously low-priced wines when we drink them, or we will forget all about them.
No, I would not rather have received a gift card. (Of the several pro and con responses I received to that column, including a couple of letters in today’s paper, the pro people were all the givers of gift cards. No one but MsKrit reported liking to receive gift cards.)
I think we are going to love our wine cooler. And I think I know someone who needs a shoe wheel.
the look of love
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Today, I think I’ll share a photo of my late grandparents with you. My brother sent this to me just the other day. I’ve never seen it before.
These are my mother’s parents in by far the most touching photo I have ever seen of them. This is a photo of love. Look at Grandma’s face. I think everyone should be gazed upon the way she is looking at Grandpa. Look how they are holding hands.
Grandma Fanny was a kind of a kvetchy lady. She had a tendency to natter at Grandpa in a stream of haranguing Yiddish. Though I never questioned that they loved each other, I never saw anything to confirm this until now. The love is unmistakable in this photo. And Grandpa—such a mensch. He was a funny guy and his impish expression tells me he just cracked wise. Maybe he was teasing my father, behind the camera. And Grandma is laughing at his joke. The women in my family love a man who makes them laugh. I knew that about Mom and Dad, but never thought about it with Grandma and Grandpa.
You learn a little something every day.
Monday, December 1, 2008
I got really skinny in 2004-2005. I’m not anymore. My set point just isn’t skinny and that’s just too damn bad. Slender is too much work to maintain. I am upholstered. That’s all there is to it.
I’ve come to appreciate my upholstery but it’s such a slipperly slope to gelatinous, which I can’t embrace. The trick is exercise but goodgawdamighty I’m bored with exercise. I must draw on my every last ounce of willpower to keep any program going at all, and it’s not what it used to be. At least I walk Jack every day. Too bad he has no hustle in his (big, hairy) bustle. Our daily walk is not enough of a workout to keep me in fighting trim. Sometimes I sneak out without him for long fitness walks, but then I have to walk him anyway and that’s a lot of time spent walking.
I’ve been exercising so long, there is little chance that I’ll stop exercising altogether. But are long, frequent workouts how I want to spend my days at this point in my ever-shortening life? And if so, why? Loving my body or clutching at youth?
Well, maybe the desire will return. I’m not old yet.
And what about the grey in my hair? Am I ready to embrace it? Maintenance is getting annoying. I have this one spot…I’m thinking about a grey streak. Am I ready to embrace my badass midlife self?
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