Thursday, June 18, 2009

Birthday Transformation...

As you well know, I like to play with my identity. When you no longer assume you know who you are, you wake up each day and decide that you can consciously re-invent yourself.

Coming up to my 35th birthday, I feel the winds of change swirling around me. There's been a flock of butterflies living in my stomach for the past few weeks. I sense a major change in my Universe. I am filled with a combination of excitement to know what it is and anxiety to know what it is. Yet, I'm being present with it all and smiling, spending most of my time in a state of expectant wonder. I love watching my life unfold.

So, last week I decided to get my haircut. Short. Really short. I felt it was time to shake things up. Granted, I've had short hair in the past but it's been a long time since it's been this short. My stylist was delighted because, well, he's a genius and loves that I let him do whatever he likes to my hair. I've been with him for twenty years (one of the longest relationships I've had with a man!) and he's seen me through every cut and color imaginable. I actually used to do hair modeling for him...oh the pictures.

He was ecstatic when I told him that I wanted a complete change for my birthday.

"I want to look sassy and sexy!" was my request.

And he worked his magic.

But there was more to the transformation. I've always wanted glasses. I'm the only one in my family that doesn't wear them. So, I was out the other day and came across a pair of accessory glasses, meaning they don't have any prescription to them, they're just clear lenses. I tried them on and fell in love with my bookish reflection in the mirror.

Now, people who wear glasses don't seem to understand why I'd want to wear glasses if I don't need to wear them. Well, I've always found glasses incredibly sexy. I'm not sure what that's about, but I've always been attracted to men who wear glasses. Perhaps it's because I like geeks and glasses signal geekiness to me. I don't know. Whatever it is, glasses do something for me.

The other aspect is well, it's me, and you know me, I like to play. The glasses are just another way of doing a bit of research in the great social experiment I call my life. I'm curious to see if, wearing glasses, I am perceived differently, treated differently or if I attract a different sort of man.

I won't be wearing them everyday. Like any other accessory, I will wear them when they go with the look I want to show the world that day. So much fun!

tall penguin

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Me Growin' Up!

I started a blog tradition before my birthday last year of checking my progress against the developmental milestones for my age. Now, I am technically turning 35 this year but since I didn't celebrate birthdays as a Jehovah's Witness, I count my age from the time I left the group. So, this year I'm turning 4.

Here are the developmental milestones for me, the four-year-old. (My comments are in red.)

Physical Development:

Stand on one leg. Most days, yes.

Jump up and down. I like jumping up and down. Especially at work. It makes people laugh.

Draw a circle and a cross. Celtic crosses are cool.

Be self-sufficient in many routines of home life. I clean house. I do laundry. I make food. Me is so smart.

Skip on one foot. I like skipping. Especially at work. It makes people laugh.

Cut with scissors (not well.) At least I try.

Be able to wash and dry his face. Dry too?

Dress himself (except ties.) I can dress myself fairly well these days. Although, I still have these odd moments where I leave the house and check to make sure I have pants on. Not sure what that's about. And I'm guessing the exemption is referring to the tying of laces as opposed to neckties. I can do the former; don't think I'll ever master the latter.

Be able to do a standing broad jump. I hated the broad jump in school. I'm much more of a triple-jump kinda gal.

Throw balls overhand. Tee hee. They said 'balls'.

Have a high motor drive. I didn't get diagnosed with ADHD for nothin'!

Draw simple circles and stick figure people. I actually graduated to drawing tulips this year. Yay me!

Climb up and down a slide by himself. I like climbing slides. But the other kids on the playground usually point and laugh. Jerks.

Use the toilet with just a little help. Okay, fine, I do need the occasional glass of prune juice to make things easier.

Delevopmental milestones associated with feeding:

Rarely spills when using spoon. Rarely.

Serves self finger foods. Hummus and pita. Yum. And I've even learned not to double dip.

Eats with fork held with fingers. I still haven't overcome the urge to use the fork as a weapon though. May need another year to master that one.

Uses fork in preference to spoon. Only because it leaves a scar.

Social & Emotional Development:

Have good memory and capacity recall. I live in the moment, baby. What do I need to remember?

Ask endless questions. Yes, and I will never stop.

Be learning to generalize. Men are poopyheads.

Be highly imaginative. I'm having a private smile thinking about this. It's been a highly imaginative kinda year.

Be dramatic. I'm tall. I'm a penguin. Doesn't get much more dramatic than that. Oh wait, there was that incident where I was solicited for prostitution.

Draw recognizable simple objects. Do they have to be recognizable?

Match and name three or four colors. Match AND name? Geez, they don't want much, do they? Stupid developmental psychologists.

Put together simple puzzles with 5 or 6 pieces. I'm already onto 1,000 piece puzzles. I'm kickin' ass! I mean kickin' butt. Tee hee...I said butt.

Follow simple two step directions. Go to liquor store and buy tequila. Got it.

Use complete sentences. Yes, I use complete sentences.

Have a vocabulary of about 1540 words. 1540? It was only 896 last year. You mean I was supposed to learn another 644 words over the past year? I fail.

Know the names of familiar animals. One word: BAT.

Be able to use at least four prepositions (or demonstrate that he understands their meanings when given commands, like “Look under the table!”) I can look under the table, but I must not look behind the curtain. Did that once. Disaster ensued.

Be able to name common objects in picture books or magazines. Why does my mind automatically go somewhere naughty?

Know one or more colors. Again with the colors. What is this? Some kind of color-dominated regime?

Be able to repeat 4 digits when they are given slowly. So baby, what's your number?

Be able to repeat words of four syllables (most of the time.) My last name is four syllables. Some days I still mess it up.

Have most vowel sounds (including sounds like “ow” and “oy”) and have the consonants p, b, m, w, n well established. I think I've got this under control. Of course, if I'm drunk, all bets are off.

Indulge in make-believe often. I like role-play. My dress-up box consists of...never mind.

Be talkative when carrying out activities. Talk and do at the same time? I was supposed to have mastered that by age 4? Wow. I fail.

Understand concepts like longer and larger when a contrast is presented. Oh much I could say.

Follow simple commands even when the commands involve objects that are not in sight. Please return your library books, Miss Penguin.

Repeat words, phrases, syllables, and even sounds often. I repeat a lot of stuff often. I wish I didn't.

Talk with words in sentences that can mostly be understood (about 75% of what he says.) I'd be happy if people understood 50% of what I said.

Intellectual Development:

Share possessions. Mi casa, su casa.

Try to react socially. I try.

Make uninvited comments to others sometimes. So, it's okay to give unsolicited advice?

Enjoy sharing. Hey, I share. You want me to enjoy it too?

Cooperate in play with other children, and at nursery school. Kids are cool. Except for them nursery school kids. They're jerks. Just like those kids on the playground.

Imitate parents. I actually need to stop doing this.

Begin to identify with same-sex parent and practice sex-role activities. Eww...

Have an intense curiosity and interest in other children’s bodies. I'm not sure how to respond to this one without getting myself into trouble of some sort.

Have an imaginary friend. There are non-imaginary friends?

Be affectionate toward parents. I'm getting there.

Have a romantic attachment to the parent of opposite sex (3 to 5 yrs.) I love my Daddy. I still wish he'd spend more time with me than he does with my mother. Wow, that really is the 4-year-old me talking, isn't it?

Be jealous of the same-sex parent. See above.

Have imaginary fears of the dark, injury, etc. (3 to 5 years.) I still check behind the shower curtain for monsters when I use someone's bathroom for the first time. NB: Clean your tub, people.

Like to conform. I will never be good at this again. Thank Goddess.

Have an easy going attitude. Eezy Breezy.

Be less resistant to change than in previous years. Yes, I am learning the power of flow.

Seem more secure. I'm pretty cool.

Have a greater sense of personal identity. Hmm...I don't know who I am but it no longer bothers me. In fact, I like creating myself anew every day.

Begin to be adventuresome. Oh, the places I'll go!

Enjoy music. I have 10,000 songs on my Itunes. Need I say more?

So there you have is growin' up!

tall penguin

Computer Update...

The latest on the laptop fiasco of 2009 is that the hard drive looks like it can be recovered. Phew. To get it all up and running, replacing all the dead bits, will be about $400. I'm in the process of deciding whether it's worth putting the money into a five year old model, as a new one is $1149. I'm leaning towards asking the Mac Gods for a new one:

"Oh dear God of Mac, please bestow upon me a shiny, new, MacBook with 120 GB hard drive and Intel Core 2 Duo Processor. I will be forever grateful and promise to promote your products to my friends and loved ones wherever I may go. For thine is the Ipower and the Iglory, forever and ever, Amen."

All such prayers on my behalf are welcome.

tall penguin

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Miss computer.

Miss music.

Miss late night blogging.

Miss watching DVDs.

Miss the little Apple smiley face.

Miss the power cord of doom.

Miss photos of friends.

Miss searchable documents.

Miss internet surfing.

Miss random facebook commenting.

Miss msn...Hey Matt, I'm still here. Write soon!

Sigh. So sad today.

tall penguin

Sunday, June 14, 2009


"Barn's burnt I can see the moon."

After I wrote my last post about my computer crashing, quite literally, I took some time to be with what I was feeling. I was quite upset at the prospect of losing my hard drive with all my photos, music, documents and writing. But I wasn't sure why it was hitting me so hard.

So, I had a little conversation with myself that went something like this:

"Why is this so upsetting for you?"

"Because I've already lost so much."

"And what does it mean to lose?"

"It means I have to start over."

"And why is that upsetting?"

"Because I've had to start over so many times in my life."

"And how was that for you?"

"It was hard. It's hard to let go. And it's hard to know who to be next, and what to do next and where to go next."

"Was it all hard?"

"No. There was also some excitement. When there's nothing left to lose, there's everything to gain. I would begin to dream of who I could be next, what I could do next and where I could go next."

"So, it wasn't all bad?"

"No, it wasn't. In hindsight, perhaps it was all good."

And then, something shifted. A deep peace came over me. And clarity.

I saw how many things and people from my past I thought I'd never be able to live without. I thought I could never live without my mother's approval. Or my "God"'s approval. Or my community's approval. But I can. And I do.

I thought I'd never be able to live without a car. But I can. And I do.

I thought I'd never be able to live alone, without a man in my life. But I can. And I do.

It is funny because a few days before my computer crashed, I was going through my Iphoto collection and a thought flashed across my mind, I really wish I had the strength to delete most of these photos. Earlier this year, I had gone through and widdled down my collection, deleting over 3,000 photos, but reached a point where I couldn't let go of any more. I couldn't decide what to let go of and what to keep.

Now, I see that very little is worth keeping. Very little. Most can be let go of. And I realize now that there's very little that I can't live without. This lesson of letting go keeps coming back to me again and again and again. I watch as Kali continues to do her dance across my life. I am being reminded to continually take an inventory of the things and people in my life and question whether there's anything I'm clinging to that I think I can't live without. It is a freeing epiphany when the deep voice arises from my soul reminding me that I am enough; that all I need is within and available in the greater cosmos; that it is okay to let go and just trust.

In my reading of late, I have been reminded that what we experience isn't just a Life/Death cycle. It is a Life/Death/Life cycle. Out of death comes life again. Out of every loss comes a birth of new life, new possibilities, new horizons.

And so, whether my hard drive can be recovered or not, it's okay. I can live without the past. And even if my computer can't be fixed, and it's awhile before I can afford a new one, it's okay. I can live without a computer of my own. The cycle of Life continues. It is what it is. And shall be what it shall be. And, it's all good.

tall penguin

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Scene from the Irepair store some thirty minutes ago:

"How can I help you?"

I pull my MacBook from my computer bag.

"Well, I'm hoping you can fix my baby," I say, handing him the stainless steel shell that just yesterday hummed with life.

"What happened?" he asks.

"Well, I tripped and fell over the power cord and sent it crashing to the floor."

"Hmm..." he says, in the not-good kinda way.

He plugs the computer in and the power cord light flashes orange. Not a good kinda orange. The kind of orange that signals distress.

I sigh.

He tries to power it up. No go. He lifts the silver case to his ear.

"Is it breathing?" I ask.

"No. The hard drive isn't spinning," he says. "Do you have anything important on this hard drive?"

I sigh. "My whole life is on that computer."

"Hmm..." he mutters. "Well you'll have to leave it here for a diagnostic."

And so I leave it there for a diagnostic. I close up my empty laptop bag and choke back the tears as I leave the store.

It's not the 9,000 songs on my Itunes, or the 10,000 emails in my inbox or even the 6,000 photos in my Iphoto. It's that every piece of non-paper writing I've done in the past 4 years is on that hard drive.

I feel like a family member is about to die.

tall penguin

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Tall Penguin is currently experiencing technical difficulties. Please stand by.

I haven't felt much like writing here this past week. Each time I go to start a new post, my fingers freeze on the keyboard. I'm still writing in my private life. I'm always writing. But there are times where I just want to keep it all to myself. (shrugs shoulders) It is what it is. I'm sure it will swing around again eventually. It always does.

tall penguin

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

City Life...

Ah, the sounds of Summer. I awoke to the rattling of a jackhammer this morning. It is a most ungodly sound at any time of the day, but particularly at 7:00 a.m. when my dreams aren't yet complete and my body still aches from the previous day's activities. Sometimes, I want to run screaming from the city. I want to flee to trees and water and nights so dark and still that even the stars seem to whisper.

It is only the beginning of June and I already find myself longing for the quiet of Winter. Sigh.

tall penguin

Fault Lines...

As I blogged yesterday, I have been drawn into the world of fiction as a result of my workplace's latest book club choice, Fault Lines, by Nancy Huston. I was moved by this book. Regardless of whether you've read the book or not, I think the following ponderings are worth considering.

Some time ago, I blogged about secrets. We all have them. But what happens when a family secret goes back for generations? How does that affect things? Huston's book considers this as a theme. She tells the story of one family through the eyes of four six-year-old children across four generations. It is an interesting perspective since it is often around this age that children become consciously aware of their inner story, where they begin to have conscious memory construction. But what I loved about this book was how she weaves these children's stories across history, across times of war and across a series of family relationships. It really exemplifies how families evolve, or don't. And how worlds evolve through families, or don't.

But back to secrets. As I asked in my earlier blog on the subject: Is keeping a secret ever a good thing? Are there secrets we can hold in our hearts that do not inevitably destroy us?

Family secrets are common. We all have outstanding gaps in our histories that haunt us. Things we do not know about where we came from, about the generations that came before us. How does these secrets affect us? What is the implication of things left unsaid?

And I wonder as well about the lessons we could glean from these stories of our past. It feels sometimes as if we are re-inventing the wheel with each generation because the wisdom of previous generations gets lost in the shuffle of time. I wish my parents had shared stories from their childhoods with me--their triumphs, their defeats, their hopes, their dreams, their strengths, their foibles. I think there is much for me to learn from them. Without these roots, I sometimes feel as if I am floundering in a sea of trial and error. I think stories have power in them. I believe it is why our myths and religions have been created. They give us a context within which to make sense of our human experience. The stories teach us lessons, give us metaphors for making our way so we do not have to start afresh each time out. This is the value of story. But as long as we are keeping secrets, I believe that story is marred.

Even the histories of our countries, the histories of our world, are filled with secrets. Transparency has never been a strong human attribute. When it comes down to it, on some level, I think we're all afraid of being found out. It is our secrets that have allowed us to wield power over others, both as nations and as individuals. As I asked before: Who would be left standing when nothing else remains? If all was told, and there were no secrets left to hide behind, who are you really?

I often wonder what a transparent world would look like, not that we even have to share everything with everyone, but that we no longer are afraid to share everything with everyone. A world where it's no longer a big deal to be "found out". Everyone has secrets. Everyone has skeletons in their closets. Everyone has done or said things they wish they hadn't done or said. I long for the day when we will no longer cower from our own darkness. Then maybe, just maybe, we will begin to see the light.

tall penguin

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Book Club...

I work in a bookstore but I don't read fiction. Or at least I didn't until quite recently. I have been dragged kicking and screaming into the world of fiction reading thanks to the relentless efforts of one of my managers. Some months ago, this manager, who runs the Fiction department, decided he wanted to start a book club at the store and wanted me to help him run it.

"But I don't read fiction," I said.

"It doesn't matter. We can choose any books we want to discuss." He stands there with his hand on his hip waving his finger at me, "It's our book club."

And so, I got drawn into hosting a book club. We've read a number of books since the club's inception. And whenever a fiction title is chosen, I try to squirm my way out of it. "I don't read fiction," I tell my manager.

"Doesn't matter. You're still going to attend," he says. Again, with his hand on his hip. And once again, I defer. I don't even know why I'm so easily persuaded by him. Something about his Napoleonic stance casts a spell on me. And so, every month I get drawn into cracking open a book I never thought I'd read. And so, now I'm reading fiction.

This month, the book club choice is another work of fiction, Fault Lines by Nancy Huston, by the way. I'll post another entry about my experience with the book once I've integrated it more fully. I fought reading it. For a whole month, I played the I don't read fiction dance in my head. Why do I put up so much resistance?

And then, not wanting to have to tell the group I didn't even attempt to read the book, or worse, having to bluff my way through the meeting as if I've read the book, which I've done once already, I decided to give the book a go. I knew nothing of its story. I just figured I'd give it a few pages, decide I hate it and then feel completely justified telling the group that I tried.

And then, something happened.

The pages seemed to be turning themselves. I couldn't stop reading. I read all evening, late into the night, got up this morning and finished the book. I read it and I loved it. Loved it. Aside from the works of Paulo Coelho, kids books and the stuff I read in High School, I can't say I've loved a fiction work. But here I was loving this book. Huh.

I wonder what other stuff I can love that I didn't know I could love.

tall penguin