Monthly Archives: February 2008

New and Improved Body Image

During a recent acting class, I had a revelation. My body doesn’t have to look sexy or cover-girl perfect or fit to run a marathon. It doesn’t have to meet anyone else’s approval or conform to current trends or some arbitrary ideal dress size. The physical image I project needs only to agree with my beliefs and priorities.

Here’s how my “ah-ha moment” happened. My classmates and I were told to imagine a mirror before us. In this mirror we were to see ourselves, first, and then to visualize that image morphing into the role character we were about to perform. Being of a certain age, mirrors have not been my friend for years. I’ve struggled with the loss of my youthful figure, the gain of an extra 30 pounds, and a what-the-hell-happened-to-me mentality.  At thirty-five, I was a size 4. Today, however, I’m pushing the limits of my size 12 “mature fit” jeans.

Walking us through this exercise, our instructor said, “How is your character perceived by others? What are his or her physical attributes? Does she have big breasts? Does he have . . . ? It’s your character. What do you see?”

My character was a mother and a wife, the center and pillar of her family and neighborhood, a friend to all, a kind and respectable woman in her mid-fifties. What I envisioned was an ample-bodied, fleshy, average-looking female (as opposed to a Desperate Housewives waif). She had wide hips, a round tummy, billowy breasts, and a soft expression. And that’s when it hit me! All of the personality traits that I admire are somehow rooted in my subconscious to a visual image—one that isn’t a Victoria Secret model!

So thinking about this further, I asked myself what I want to project to others and, perhaps more importantly, why. Commercials and magazine covers and television programs have been shouting their beliefs at me for so long that it’s easy to think these ideas align with my own. But do they really?

How sexy do I need to be?

I’m a contented married woman and a grandmother of four. My spouse has loved me through all sizes and shapes. He’s attracted to the whole me—not just my figure. And he still thinks I’m pretty great. I’m not in the market for anyone else. So why should it matter if I’ve lost my sex appeal to someone I’m not sexually interested in?

How perfect do I need to look?

I’m not trying to get a Hollywood leading role or my photo on the cover of Cosmopolitan. Even Angelina Jolie had to have her picture airbrushed for People. Horrors! The veins in her arms were showing. Real veins, the kind that pump honest-to-God human blood through her clinically average (though atypically beautiful) body.

How physically toned must I be?

The Olympics are likely out of question for me. I’ve no desire to ever climb Mt. Everest or even to win a marathon. I’d like to remain healthy and maintain bone density. But I don’t need to subsist on yogurt and “protein power bars” or spend 10+ hours a week at the gym to do that. I can find my way to the sidewalk without a personal trainer.

Why should I care about my BMI?

BMI is based on height, with no regard to age or bone structure or the fact that my thyroid gland has been destroyed (due to an autoimmune disease). Who can tell me what that magic number should be? My grandmother lived to be 96 without ever once knowing her BMI. She ate unlimited servings of real sugar, never cooked meat without a skillet, and drank Dr Pepper well into her nineties.  She remained active and healthy until long after all her friends and siblings (who were all skinnier than her) had died.

What I’m saying is simply this: Let your body reflect your life values. That’s a goal worthy of pursuit. And when you know you’ve achieved this, be happy with how you look. That’s my new mantra. 

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Free Muse to Good Home

Nobody, other than medical professionals, wants to hear about it when you feel bad. And even doctors wouldn’t care to listen if they weren’t getting paid. I know that. But I need someone to commiserate with. Surely there’s another allergy or flu sufferer out there somewhere who’ll humor me. 

I’m drowning in my own body fluids, throat hurts, and I’m blowing bubbles out of my nose. I’ve got three-day-old gel in my hair. All I want to do is go back to bed, but some nasty internal voice that insists I’m being a slug anytime I’m napping during daylight hours prevents me from this.  

“No,” my subconscious insists. “You’re supposed to be working on your screenplay, today! You promised yourself another 10 pages.” Probably not going to happen, unless I want ten pages of, She sneezes, then coughs and reaches for a tissue. The judge shifts his posture, canting his body farther from the witness 

Yeah, I’m supposed to be writing a court scene. The way I’m feeling, right now, I’d probably write in some goofball with an automatic weapon. 

“Discipline!” yells my obnoxious guide. “Quit being a slacker. Stop blogging and get to it!”  Man, I hate this nag. 

WRITER CLASSIFIEDS 

Free muse to good home. Air delivery.  Excellent voice, pushy condition. Owner no longer willing to forego sleep.

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Clinton accuses Obama of plagiarizing part of speech

Okay, I normally don’t comment on politics–but this one was just too tempting to let pass. According to wire reports, Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign has accused Barack Obama of using a passage from another politician’s speech (without credit) in his own.  

As if that isn’t newsworthy enough, Obama claims Clinton has frequently used several of his slogans in her speeches. In particular, he cites such signature phrases as “It’s time to turn the page,” and “fired up and ready to go.” (Apparently, he doesn’t own a cliche dictionary.)

Given this startling revelation, I believe both candidates owe damages to Bob Seger. They used his song title, Turn the Page, without proper attribution.

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Why we speak (and write)

“The only reason we speak is to obtain something we want and yet don’t have.” At least, that’s what it says in my Acting II textbook.  That might not be the exact quote, but I’m too lazy to go get the book and double check. Close enough. 

So I’ve been giving this assumption some thought. Perhaps this explains why my husband seldom speaks to me when he’s home. He’s already got everything he wants.  My mate has his favorite recliner, a TV with surround sound, a million channels to watch, a DVR that records forensics programs starring buxom women with tight fitting shirts that are bloodier than a butcher’s apron, and a cat that, unlike me, can sit there with him and ignore the gore. What’s there to talk about? 

I must withdraw some of these privileges. I’m thinking of disabling all of the remote controllers. (His first words will likely be, “Where are the double-A batteries?”) Otherwise, I’ll be forced to terminate the satellite service. But without access to all the talk shows, how will I know if we’re communicating enough?  

Maybe the only reason I write is to be heard when no one else is here to listen. J

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Valentines that SHOULD have been sent

On Valentine’s Day, many who should receive a card are overlooked.  Here are some recommended card senders and proposed recipients. I’ve taken the liberty to include suggested verses.

CARDS THAT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SENT

Oil Industry to Ford Motor Company: Oh, how we love you and your Ford Expedition. You hold the keys to our 300% profit recognition.

 Alan Greenspan to Ben Bernanke: A propped up economy will always fall. Without you, it might have been on my call!  

Barbara Walters to Rosie O’Donnell: Roses are red. Violets are blue. I’m so happy since you left The View!

Hillary Clinton to Rudy Giuliani: I want you for my valentine, now that you’ve stepped out of line. In New York you’ll always shine. But The White House, buster, it’s all mine!

Reality TV Show Producers to Writers Guild of America: Without you, there were no stars. While you were on strike and in the bars, we managed to make more reality shows full of stupid people that no one knows. Now that our love has come to an end, please know that you’ll always be our friend!

Feel free to ad your own suggestions to this list. It’s kind of fun.

To read more of my humor, visit www.TotallySkewed.com

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Acting Class, Day 9: Mooning the king

I’ve previously established that I’m a terrible diction student. Not because I lack the ability to speak well, but rather due to the ridiculous poses I’m forced to perform in the class I’m taking (yoga/diction). I imagine the only time anyone would ever assume these positions in normal life would be during a visit to a gynecologist or while getting a “Brazilian wax.”   

To make matters worse, the silly exercises don’t end with these yoga-inspired poses.  

This was my assignment for today’s class: Pretend you are running for election in the kingdom of Omnia (where everyone speaks Omnish, a language that’s basically gibberish). Speaking in the native language, stand before the class and, a) open your speech with a joke, b) discredit the slanderous remarks your opponent has made about you, c) offer a rousing tribute to the current King, d) state your platform objectives, and, e) close with a big finish.  

I decided to have fun and just let myself run with it—as there was seemingly no escape other than to drop the course. This was the perfect opportunity to display my disdain for the exercises we’d been doing. Because I’d be speaking mumbo-jumbo, I could pretty much say ANYTHING I wanted.  Often our instructor makes us recite such intelligent phrases as “buttigah guttibah tuggibah.” It’s like an Omnish tongue-twister, I suppose. Because I can’t ever seem to get the syllables in the right order, this makes me crazy. So I made the punch line to my joke be “buttigah!” Then I did my tribute to the almighty king of Omnia (the instructor) and bent over and mooned the class (only I kept my pants up). This was SO therapeutic!

My closing remarks and stance paid homage to Richard Nixon’s era. It seemed the victory sign was in order. I’m sure glad this class isn’t COMPLETELY like elementary school. You know I’d hate to fail citizenship.  

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Acting Class, Day 8: Is it too late to drop?

Enter the room as if you’re seeing it for the first time ever. Those were my only instructions. The room included a large stage, auditorium seats on three sides, a piano, and countless wood crates, ladders, and other stuff that looked like way more work than I cared to think about at this early morning hour.  

My classmates were seated in one section of the auditorium seats, watching me—or possibly sleeping. However, I was to pretend they weren’t there (the way my husband does to me when he’s watching Prison Break). 

I had no idea what to do—which was the point, I suppose. So I waltzed in, stared at the etch marks on the stage floor, and tried to figure out what had been raked across the hardwood planks. (Hey, it gave me a chance to look down instead of at my bored audience.) Failing to find an answer, I strolled over to the piano and considered why anyone would have shoved it against the pullout seating. Was it defective in some way? I glanced to see the brand name: Baldwin, as in Alec, I noted. Then I exited the room, content to have been as equally uninteresting on stage as I am in every-day life. Mission accomplished!  

On to diction class—where, I swear to swami, I think I pulled a hamstring! For anyone who hasn’t been following this thread, my instructor combines yoga with voice training. This is truly maddening for me because I don’t want anyone staring at my butt while he’s saying “ho, ho, ho,” if you get my drift. That’s just wrong on so many levels. 

I’ll be the first to admit that I have a bad attitude when it comes to my diction class. I resist everything about it. And so when we received our assignment for the next class meeting, all I did was whine and groan. This did nothing to reduce my sentence, unfortunately. 

Here’s the assignment: Pretend you are running for election in the kingdom of Omnia (where everyone speaks Omnish, a language that’s basically gibberish). Speaking in the native language, stand before the class and, a) open your speech with a joke, b) discredit the slanderous remarks your opponent has made about you, c) offer a rousing tribute to the current King, d) state your platform objectives, and, e) close with a big finish.  

I am reassured only by the knowledge that it’s not too late to drop this class. 

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