Sunday, April 7, 2019

Las Vegas Skies

Lately I've gotten into a habit of taking photos of Las Vegas skies. And they can be pretty magnificent. Perhaps they intrigue me because so much of the summer here has cloudless skies, and the expanse of blue gets monotonous.

But when there are clouds, that when they call to me. I can't stop looking at them. I hold up my phone while I'm driving and click away, hoping to capture them.

The Vegas skies used to annoy me. Coming from the green Midwest, I was used to trees enveloping me, only allowing the sky to peek through. The desert skies seemed too wide-open, harsh. I missed my green home. When I traveled back there to visit, the green was almost overwhelming.

Brown used to be the color I chose to describe Las Vegas. It's not a lush desert like further south. It's a brown place to live. But after letting go to the skies, I find them taking over my impression of this land.

Now, this is a place of blue.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Googling "Long Hairstyles for Boys"

Before his haircut

It took a long search online to find a photo that would convince my six-year-old son to trim his hair. His last cut was nearly a year ago, and after it he was adamant about letting it grow long. "I want to have to do this!" he said, sweeping his imaginary hair out of his eyes. So it grew and grew, and even though it was often a bit shaggy, I liked it.

My mom taught me to like men with longer hair. She grew up with The Beatles, and her taste in men's hairstyles grew with them. She loved John Lennon (not just for his hair, but it was a plus), and I remember her watching tennis just because Bjorn Borg was playing.

Now when I see men with longer hair, I can't help but feel sentimental toward them. They seem more sensitive, more artsy, more they are friends of Mom.

My son did finally trim his hair, but as we walked out of the salon he told me it would be another year before his next cut. And that is fine with me.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Too Headstrong

I suffer from a condition that plagues many women: The Curse of the Confident Woman. It hits us when we are young girls, when we are young and confident, and its effect determines whether or not the girl's confidence will grow or if it will be squelched.

I believe that all children inherently believe in themselves at first. It is the outside world that teaches them otherwise. But the moment when girls begin to lose that belief happens around age 8 or 9. This is the time when they find their voice, when they aren't afraid to speak out about every little thing they are thinking and feeling.

I never realized this until I was at my Grandma's house one day as an adult, and she played a recording on a cassette tape of me when I was that age. I was loudly singing "Love Will Keep Us Together," and in between choruses I talked loudly and confidently about how great girls are and how much we know.

And while I listened to this, I realized I was embarrassed. My family sat around, patiently listening, amused. But I felt embarrassed by the loud, confident, 9ish-year old me.

And that was crazy! Why should I feel embarrassed? I was loud and confident. What I was feeling was the exact thing that probably squelched my enthusiasm and confidence not long after that recording. I'm sure I was taught by society that girls should be more demure and modest.

Although I may have learned not to shout my virtues, I must have retained a bit of my bravado. I learned this when it came to relationships. When I was in high school, a boy never asked me to the prom for any of my four years of high school. In fact, most boys didn't act interested in me at all (partly due to my extreme lack of confidence with boys, but that's another story). When I was a Senior, I lamented this fact to my Senior English teacher, our beloved Mrs. U, and she told me, "Well, it's because you're too bossy."

Hmmm. Too bossy? I remember I didn't like hearing that I was bossy, but at least it gave me a reason.

Then in college there was a boy I liked. He was a music major and looked like Michael J. Fox, and he and I would spent hours in the music lab while he played albums for me that he liked. We had so much fun together. When my friend told him that I was interested in him, his response to her was, "She's too headstrong."

Hmmm. Too headstrong? Bossy I could take, but headstrong? Suddenly, I didn't see him in such a favorable light.

The recent awakening of the women's movement has brought back all these memories. For too long, women's opinions and confidence has been squelched. (Yes, I like using that word.) Finally, with the momentum of the women around me, I can state to the men in my life that I will no longer listen to jokes with women as the punchline. No, I will not watch The Godfather, because the chauvinism in it has always made me sick. I will stand up to the behavior that is finally being acknowledged as unacceptable.

So, call me opinionated. Call me strong. Call me bossy. And headstrong. It's no longer an insult.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Are You Here, or Present?

Me in Kindergarten

Whenever I hear a teacher call the roll, I am always taken back to Kindergarten, when Mrs. Schmucker told us that when she called our names, we could answer, "Here" or if we liked, "Present." But as a five-year-old, I didn't know what present meant. I always pictured a gift wrapped in colored paper with a big bow on top. But that didn't make sense, so instead, saying Present was exotic.

Most kids answered "Here," as did I. But a few brazenly answered "Present." Those kids were pretentious. Why couldn't they just say "Here" like the rest of us regular kids?

Looking back on my attitude about those kids, I realize that I spent way too much of my life only saying "Here" instead of joining the bold kids in their confidence.

Midwesterners are taught not to brag...not to act "too big for your britches." You shouldn't imply that you're better than anyone else.

So, I have always found it difficult to toot my own horn. Job interviews and networking, in which I am supposed to do just that, are hard. It is so hard to ask friends or anyone for connections that could help me feels cheesy and fake to do that. I sure wish I had learned at an early age how to play the game. I don't want to merely be "Here." I want to be present!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Things to Love About Las Vegas #6: The Magical Forest

Photo by Debi Bradford

The Magical Forest at Opportunity Village has been my annual tradition even before our son came along. I first learned about it years ago when I was in a show at the Stratosphere, when I heard there was a local organization that decorated trees on their grounds for charity. I convinced my boss to pay the entry fee, and then the other dancers and I got crafty. We themed our tree around our show, creating decorations out of Barbies that we dressed in costumes like those we wore in our show and tinsel-filled plastic drink cups from the showroom bar. (They looked better than they sound.)

A few months later, my boss handed me a certificate that read "Best Themed Tree." We had won a prize!

Years later when I first worked at Nevada Ballet Theatre, I remembered that tree and thought maybe we could decorate one for my new workplace. We covered the tree with decorated pointe shoes, old ballet costumes, and Nutcrackers which my husband nicely placed on our tree from high atop a genie lift.

In addition to decorating trees in the forest, I have attended as a patron every year. I always drag along my husband and a few friends, and we have such fun riding the train, drinking hot chocolate, and marveling at the simple event that gets bigger and better every year. This year, my son's favorite things were riding the carousel and talking to Santa.

And let me talk about Santa for a moment. We went straight to him when they opened at 5:30. There was no line. Santa talked to my son and his friends for probably a full five minutes, about school, gifts, their elves on a shelf, and more. This was truly Santa.

The Magical Forest is open through New Year's, I believe. Be sure to check out this family event and get some holiday spirit while helping out a worthwhile local organization.

And don't forget to go talk to Santa.

On the train in 2012


Friday, October 13, 2017

My Piercing Story

My family, trying to get one of those cool jumping shots.

I am 46 years old, and I just got my nose pierced. You may say it's part of a mid-life crisis, but there is much more to it than that...

When I turned 40 I really wanted to make my birthday a big deal, but it wasn't. I wanted to feel different somehow, wanted to make a statement. That was the first time I considered getting my nose pierced. I pictured a tiny stud that was barely visible...tasteful. I mentioned the idea to friends and they squelched my fun, obviously thinking I was crazy. So I had fun in my head, having fun simply by imagining actually doing it. ...Saying I never would, but it was fun to think about.

Then this summer my family got together at the beach for my Dad's 70th birthday. We all crammed together in a rented beach house and spent the week getting to know each other better. It was incredible.

On the second night of the trip, we gathered with drinks on the balcony in our nightly ritual of talk and laughter. That's when someone mentioned getting a tattoo.

And I said, "We should all get wave tattoos to commemorate this trip!"

This led us to all begin dreaming up where we could get tattoos and what our waves would look like.

Then my dad leaned in and said, "I'll pay for it."

And suddenly it was real. The conversation got serious. 

But tattoos weren't really my thing. I told everyone, "What I always thought would be cool is to get my nose pierced."

My half-sister Jessica suddenly said, "Me too!" We began talking about the fun of the idea and also about our reservations...our ages, what people at work would think.

Then dad leaned in and added, "I'll pay for it."

And the planning actually began for real.

Every night we discussed the pros and cons. Who would get tattoos and who would get piercings. Who would do both. Would it hurt? We searched on our phones for ideas and motivation. 

Then on the last full day of our trip, nine of us headed for the tattoo parlor in town. I got a little wave behind my ear and a simple stud on the left side of my nose. Everyone got a wave tattoo or a piercing, or both. Even Dad got a wave on his arm. I'm sure the employees of the place got a kick out of us.

Jessica and I kept looking at each other, marveling at the fact that we actually did it.

Back in Las Vegas, most reactions I got were positive. Some were reserved. Most people didn't comment at all, or didn't even notice. And that's okay.

What surprised me was the way my piercing made me feel. First of all, it was a memory of that awesome trip with my family...a souvenir of our bonding. 

But more than that, it made me feel empowered. For several years now, I have felt the effects of aging...feeling not so attractive, older, very un-cool. I used to be a singer/dancer...dressed in costumes and makeup. I traveled to far-off places and went on adventures. I did things that average people didn't. But all the people I come into contact with now have no idea of who I used to be...who I am inside. I'm not the normal run-of-the-mill person with average ideas. I dream big! I am not a conformist! I think bigger than our simple day-to-day drudgery!

And that is what I felt my piercing said. It was a statement to anyone who saw me that I am more than I appear. 

Then I developed a bump next to my piercing. The dermatologist did a biopsy several weeks later. Skin cancer.Talk about squelching my fun.

They did a mohs surgery to get rid of it, removing the stud and taking skin all around my piercing. Luckily they got it all in one try. 

When I expressed my concern about the fact that this developed right after my piercing, the surgeon told me that skin cancer can be reactive, so it could have progressed due to the piercing. I had planned to get my nose pierced again after this healed, but he advised me against it. He said not to get my nose pierced again, because the skin cancer could happen again.

So, I am destined not to be cool.

I'm not sure what I will do to recapture the feeling that piercing gave me. I don't want to do anything drastic, but I need something. 

Or, maybe the smarter thing is to try, daily, to do things that empower me. Get out there and make sure I am the person I want to be. Demonstrate it. Be it. Dream it. Do it.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Las Vegas

I am sitting at my computer, trying to figure out something to say about Sunday night, but everything I think of is a cliche. So instead, I will share this photo I took of George years ago, with Vegas in the background.