Groovin’ on a Sunday Afternoon

*update from yesterday’s post*  She Speaks commented:

“I found an online petition from the site “Democrats 2012″ titled “Where are the women?”  This petition reads:

‘At a House Oversight Committee hearing, House Republicans convened a panel on denying access to birth control coverage with five men and no women. As Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney asked, “Where are the women?”  Join Leader Pelosi in our call to Speaker Boehner, Eric Cantor, Chairman Issa and all House Republicans to demand that women be allowed at the table when discussing women’s health issues. Help us gather 250,000 signatures.’

Here is the link to sign the petition:

I’ve signed. Please help share this information and encourage everyone you know to sign.”

I’ve signed as well.  Please forward to any US citizens you think would like to add their names. *thank you*


Okay, on to All About Me.

So, Steve wakes up this morning singing “Tiny Bubbles” (yes, we do this to each other, sharing whatever our brains mumble out first thing upon waking)  …Don Ho…Hawaii…and I go back to being 10 years old, which was my age when I actually traveled to Hawaii.  My 10-year old self got excited about many things in Hawaii.  I thrilled at the choice of coconut or pineapple syrup on my pancakes because I hate maple syrup.  I spent a good 30 minutes at a picnic stop trying to open a coconut by stomping on it with my sneakers.  I had a camera of my own and could take my own pictures, a Brownie Starmite which yielded snapshots that the drugstore processed with a “bonus snap” of about half the size of the original included on the print and separated by a perforated line.  I eagerly tried to pronounce any Hawaiian word just for the fun of letting the syllables bubble out one after another like waves on the beach.  “King Kamehameha”  “Queen Liliuokalani” “Mele Kalikimaka” “hukilau” “elepani”.  I felt daring and adventurous sliding down a lava tube into a lagoon while my mother hyperventilated on the banks.  And I got to go swimming every day!  One other memory that will always stand out about my trip to Hawaii:  I was often mistaken for a boy.

I had a growing out shag haircut in the spring of 1973.  My mother had made me get my shoulder-length blonde hair cut VERY short for our trip “Out West” the summer before.   She was probably thinking of the convenience and the hot weather.  She also insisted that we wear bathing caps whenever we went swimming.  I got the idea that the prime consideration in hairstyles was not attractiveness, and at the time, I didn’t care.  Much.  I do remember the excruciating moment when I debuted the pixie cut at school for the first time.  I was at before-school choir practice on the verge of tears because I felt so self-conscious.  I was wearing a dress with a Peter Pan collar, my vulnerable neck exposed.  I felt whispers behind me.  Then the girl behind me leaned forward to say something, and I imagined she was about to make a comment on my haircut.  I froze, trembling, with blurry eyes.  Turns out she just wanted to ask what page we were on, but the contact ripped me wide open, and I began to cry.  After that, I got used to it and so did others.  Folks in Colorado couldn’t tell if I were a boy or a girl as I scrambled up rocky mountains with my cousin, Christopher, and it didn’t matter to me.  In Hawaii, my hair was a bit longer, but since it was the 70s, boys were also wearing their hair longer.   My family went to a luau one night.  Each of us was greeted by a hostess with an armful of flowers.  My father got a coconut palm hat placed on his head.  My mother and my three older sisters received a beautiful lei of fragrant orchids.  I couldn’t wait to receive my own exquisite necklace.  But what’s this?  Hey!  Why did you give me just a stupid, green headband!  I’m a GIRL, dammit!  Same thing happened on a boat trip a few days later.  The guide/entertainer picked me out as a model to receive something he was fashioning behind me out of palm leaves.  He probably picked me to keep me from getting bored, to amuse my sisters, or just because I was cute and charismatic…in a unisex kind of way.  He placed a headband with a palm “feather” sticking up in the back on my head.  My sisters howled.

So, before puberty, I didn’t care about being a girl very much.  I played with the boy two doors down every day.  When I was alone, I crossed the street into the forest preserve and played in the bushes.  I enjoyed being physical, roller-skating and jump-roping especially, and I enjoyed “helping” my father at the workbench in the basement.  I was not a complete tom-boy, nor was I a girlie-girl.  I was just me, and I was fine.  Then I hit high school at 14 in a brand new state, California.  My mother decided we all should have a lesson on wearing make-up, so we had a Mary Kay consultant visit the house.  I began putting on make-up and styling my hair every day before school.  I also began flirting and listening to “funky” music.  I began to find my groove.

Jim & Me gettin' our groove on for a 60s themed birthday party

As an adult, I think it would be a revelation to have a conversation with two people from my past especially.  One would be the boy I played with every day in grade school, the other would be my first high school boyfriend of more than 2 months.  Both of these boys are now homosexual adults, I’ve since learned.  I would love to ask them what growing up felt like for them, what our relationship taught them about themselves, but sadly, we lost touch long ago.

Finding my groove in high school led me to two of my greatest expressions of freedom and physicality: dance and jazz.  I love to dance.  I have taken dance lessons, and I find that I am way too much “in my head” when I’m trying to learn steps and choreography.  What I really love is just to free-style to anything with a back beat.  Blues, tango, rumba, pop school dances, jazz.  I auditioned and got into our high school jazz choir and loved the freedom of improvisation and the soulful feel of the slower pieces we did.  From high school, I went on to get a degree in Vocal Performance at a women’s college.  I didn’t do any jazz or dancing in those years.  I was trying to be more *ahem*, serious about music.

Steve has a very serious music collection, but on Friday, he picked up something from Goodwill’s CD collection with me in mind.  It’s “The Fabric of Life” by The Nylons.  They’re usually about 4-part a capella vocal jazz, but this CD has percussion and instrumentals as well.  He put it on at breakfast, and I had to get out of my chair and dance!  It felt great!!  My heart rate climbing, my hips swiveling, my shoulders shimmying, my waist stretching and slimming and twisting…I felt alive, physical, ME!  Maybe I’m getting closer to understanding how to live in my own skin after all.

I think many women have a long journey to being themselves.  It’s easier when you’re 10, I think.  It gets pretty complicated through puberty and socialization.  Maybe now as I get closer to hitting 50, I can grow into my own groove, be funky and fine and all me.   I wish I knew more of my gay friends’ journeys as well.  I want to be compassionate to every human and their story of growth.