Monday, July 30, 2012


Kim Rhode, a skeet athlete, became the first Olympian to win medals in five consecutive appearances at the Games. I didn't see the competition, but I saw an interview with her afterward and was impressed--not a strong enough word--WOWED by the fact that she hit 99 of 100 targets. She's clearly an athlete, but beyond that, she's a champion. She also struck me as a really nice, likeable person, who posts recipes on her blog.

Watching coverage of her on the podium also made me realize how biased I am about what athletes should look like. Ms. Rhode is not ripped. She's got an athlete's reflexes and peripheral vision, and yesterday she proved she's the best in the business.

I watched the women's gymnastic qualifying competition last night, and was impressed--no, WOWED by their strength, grace and precision. When Jordyn Wieber didn't qualify, for the simple reason that each team is limited to two gymnasts in the all-around, though she came in fourth in the overall standings, my mother's heart broke. I so wanted to tell Andrea Joyce to get the microphone out of her face already, and let her go off and have a good cry. In retrospect, the replay showing her toes gripping the balance beam to prevent a fall told me how bad Ms. Wieber wanted it. I'm rooting for her to go for the gold in the individual events and to do everything she can to help her team win.

As strict as gymnastics' rules are, there is still more margin of error for them than there was in yesterday's skeet competition. I noticed form breaks and bobbles and wobbles that were by no means fatal to the overall performances. Who am I to criticize? Balancing in yoga poses is hard enough--I can't imagine balancing on a four-inch-wide beam four feet off the ground while doing flips. . . I thought they were all amazing.

But to hit 99 of 100 targets? That's otherworldly. Ms. Rhode missed one target in the qualifying round, where each athlete aimed for 75 targets. I wonder where in the qualifying competition she missed that one target. To someone who like yours truly who is easily thrown off balance by anything less than perfection, I'm sure in Ms. Rhode's place I would have talked myself into missing some more targets. Because after all, who am I to believe I can be perfect?

That's what separates the champions from the rest of us. Champions are just as flawed as the rest of us, but in that time and that place and that medium they have the will and the preparation to be the best. To put in perspective how big Ms. Rhode's  achievement is, the silver medalist hit 91 targets, while the bronze medalist hit 90.

So bravo to Kim Rhode, bravo to Jordyn Wieber, and bravo to anyone who tries to be the best at anything.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Slow-Moving Civil War

Another massacre, this time about 20 miles away from me, 12 killed and scores wounded. Another psychopathic killer, who-shall-not-be-named. Another emotional outpouring, of anger, of grief, of confusion. Another spontaneous memorial for people to express their sadness and their outrage. Another showdown between the NRA and gun-control advocates.

Incredibly, experts and politicians say nothing will change. The American public seems resigned that some time in the near future, another disturbed person will open fire and kill and wound more people in a school, or a church, a shopping mall, or wherever people gather. Even worse, gun sales have increased during the last week to "defend" against such attacks. I'd prefer not to live in a world where every other person is packing heat.

I can't believe a civilized society like ours could allow PhD student who lives in suburban Denver access to huge amounts of weaponry and firepower. I've never heard a good explanation for why citizen gun owners should have access to assault weapons. The answer is always about the abstract--the Second Amendment, citizens have an unlimited right to bear arms. Really? Because that seems to me to be stretching things a lot. The real reason is that gun manufacturers and gun dealers are making a lot of money.

Ten states have instituted regulations on the purchase of decongestants that contain pseudoephedrine, one of the ingredients used to make methamphetamine. Meth is undeniably hollowing out families and communities. I'm not talking about buying a couple of packages of Sudafed to get you and your family through a cold. But a suspicious eye ought to be cast on customers who are buying a store's entire stock of decongestant. I don't have a problem with store managers alerting police to a potential threat like this.

If laws can stop meth cooks from buying a huge supply of meth, I don't see why we can't we similarly limit the amount of artillery gun owners can buy. Notice I said a limit, not a ban. However, I am comfortable with banning the sale of assault weapons to anyone. No citizen can buy a nuclear bomb online. I'm not thrilled with the military having weapons of mass destruction, but let's leave assault weapons in their hands.

Whether we're resigned to more mass shootings, or we're going out and buying guns with the fantasy we can defend ourselves against heavily armored, heavily armed psychopaths, we're basically accepting the fact that we're in a slow-moving civil war. We're resigned to pitting our citizens against one another. We don't need supposed Muslim terrorists. Without reasonable gun control laws, we're making it way too easy for disturbed people to pick us off, one school, one movie theater at a time.

It's time to admit that allowing commerce to drive the ways weapons are bought and sold isn't keeping our citizens and communities safe. As a country of laws, it's long past time to legislate extensive background checks that track the kind and numbers of weapons and ammo gun owners are buying.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


A friend who is traveling the great midlife highway with me said, "We're both unraveling."

Coming undone? I didn't know whether to say Uh-uh, or Uh-oh, or Uh-huh. She is a weaver, so maybe she knew what she's talking about. I thought about it for a few days and decided I didn't like the idea of coming apart. I prefer re-raveling to unraveling. The Urban Dictionary's definition of reravel is "the process of undoing something that was 'unraveled.' " That's no improvement.

So as a cranky woman of a certain age, I reserve the right to make my own definition. Re-raveling means making something new from material that already exists.

This is precisely what is happening at Cheese Importers, my workplace. Tomorrow begins the move to a new building a couple of blocks away from where it's been located for nearly thirty years. It's rare to encounter this kind of symmetry, where outer circumstances like a business relocating matches my inner circumstances. Fertility is formally leaving the building. I am going from being a woman who can reproduce offspring to a woman who can't.

I'm thankful I live at a time where I have actually had a choice in the matter, though there are people and institutions who dispute this. And to this I say: Until men can get pregnant, women ought to at least have the courtesy of deciding whether, and when, they want to bear children.

Women have access to all kinds of information about how to care for their bodies after menopause. Christiane Northrup writes books to help women maintain vibrant good health within the context of a still feminine, if not reproductively viable, body, not to mention benefits to mental health. Yoga is a blessing along the same lines. Resources like this give me a form to re-ravel around. I'm looking forward to creating a few new loops and patterns of my own.