Hooray for Summer Solstice!

When I lived in Florida, I didn’t pay much attention to summer solstice. It was just another long, hot day in what seemed like an unending series of long, hot days. But in the Pacific Northwest, when it rains more often than not, and when the winters are dark and cold and raw, you learn to appreciate the seasons. So when summer finally arrives, you can’t really blame Seattleites for getting a little crazy, can you?

This past Saturday I attended the Solstice Parade, which is part of the Fremont Fair in Seattle, and is rapidly becoming on of my very favorite PNW traditions. The very best part, in my opinion, is the mass of naked, body painted bicyclists that start the parade. I wrote about this amazing tradition last year, but this year it seemed like even more people participated. I’d guess that 700 naked people rolled past me.

To say that a parade like this would never, ever happen in conservative Florida is putting it mildly. And that, to me, makes it an even more joyous celebration. Summer! Freedom! Art! Self-Expression! Joy! And the absolute best way to start the season!

I am right where I need to be. Maybe one of these years I will be a participant instead of a spectator! Here are some of the best pictures I could find from my collection, which don’t (hopefully) have any shocking bits on display. Enjoy!

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Starting Out Silver

Dating in one’s 50’s, or even later than that, is something else again. It’s not for sissies. It adds another whole layer of complexity to things.

In your 50’s, you’re more apt to come with appliances. Glasses. Dentures. Night Guards, canes or back braces, arch supports, bottles of pills.

There are things you can no longer do. Maybe your lower back isn’t up to that 10-mile hike. Or you don’t hear well enough to hang out in that noisy bar. You become less flexible, both physically and emotionally.

Chances are you’ve outgrown a lot of the shenanigans of your youth, too. Getting drunk isn’t as much fun anymore. One night stands are just depressing. And yes, I’d love that slice of pizza, but green peppers give me indigestion.

You also come with a boatload of baggage. You’ve got your whacky adult children, for a start. And ex-husbands or wives. Experiences you’d rather not repeat. You are skittish.

And lest we forget, that first impression of you naked is not going to be as stellar as it was when you were in your 20’s. Gravity has taken its toll. There are surgery scars. There are wrinkles and sags and grey hair, or no hair at all. Some things don’t work as well as they used to.

And, speaking from a purely female perspective, there are a whole lot of older men who are still looking for women in their 30’s. Lord knows why. They won’t be able to keep up with them. But they still expect you to be lean and athletic, with nice tight… skin. In other words, they’re in a fantasy world.

But oh, when you get it right… it’s magical. Age-appropriate partners are much easier to relate to. They get your cultural references. They understand your jokes. There’s a feeling of “we’re in this together.” You’ve each made your share of mistakes and have therefore learned a great deal. You’re hopefully more patient. You have many more stories to tell.

And even better, you get to feel young again. Just when you thought those butterflies in your stomach had moved on, they’re baaaaack! You forgot you knew how to blush. Life seems much more exciting. Hope springs eternal. And best of all, you appreciate things so much more because you never thought you’d ever have those things again.

What a gift!

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The Fremont Solstice Parade

Yesterday I had the quintessential Seattle, Washington day. It was the kind of day that really highlighted the fact that I’m not in Jacksonville, Florida anymore, baby, and I’m sooooooo glad of it! I could never have had a day like this in Florida. Not in a million years.

It’s an annual tradition here, on the Saturday closest to the longest day of the year, that there is a parade that wends its way through the Fremont neighborhood. But this isn’t just any parade. This is the Pacific Northwest, after all! This is a parade in which hundreds of people ride bicycles, and are wearing nothing but body paint.

My friends Paula and Jackson and I were amazed at how creative people were. Naked tigers. Naked Wonder Women. Some people were just flat out naked. I swear I saw more nudity in the space of an hour than I had in the rest of my 52 years.

The artistry and the confidence and pure joy of these people was liberating to me. And I loved that these were everyday people, complete with beer guts and wrinkles and back hair and curves and scars and sags and pregnant bellies. I love that people brought their kids. I love that anyone could participate.

I just freakin’ love Seattle!

After the bicyclists came some amazing floats, including a few very unflattering Trump parodies, and several bands and drum corps dressed in beautifully outlandish costumes. There were also a couple miles of vendors, anything from food to jewelry to hippie clothes to art to face painting and henna tattoos. And best of all, in that crowd of thousands, it was a peaceful and loving atmosphere.

I’ll leave you with some of the photos my friend Paula and I took of the event, and I’ll say it again:

I JUST FREAKIN’ LOVE SEATTLE!!!

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A Few Thoughts on International Women’s Day

First of all, happy International Women’s Day! It’s nice to be recognized and celebrated. I’m glad that organizations throughout the world will be using this as an opportunity to speak out about equal rights. I’m thrilled that this will open up dialogues that many people wouldn’t otherwise have thought to have.

But at the same time, it frustrates me that we still need a day like this. Aren’t we women every day of the year? Don’t we deserve basic human rights all year round?

Recently I was sitting at a table with 15 other women, so I took an informal survey.

  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever been touched inappropriately without your permission.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever been cat called.
  • Raise your hand if anyone has ever discussed your breasts, behind, or legs without your initiating that conversation.
  • Raise your hand if your opinion has been dismissed as trivial.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve heard a man singing the words “bitch” “slut” or “ho” along with the radio.
  • Raise your hand if you yourself have been called a bitch, slut, or ho.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve seen nude women calendars in public places.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been interrupted by a man who insists on explaining something to you that you already know.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been treated like an idiot by a mechanic.
  • Raise your hand if men have assumed that you’re not intelligent.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been rejected based on your weight, age, or shape.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized because of something you were wearing.
  • Raise your hand if people have assumed you need to ask a man’s permission to do something or go somewhere.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of not being feminine enough.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being too girly.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been told you do something good, “for a girl.”
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not having children.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for having children.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for working.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been criticized for not working.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve ever had to drive behind a truck with naked women mud flaps.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been paid less than a male counterpart.
  • Raise your hand if men that you’ve trained have been promoted above you.
  • Raise your hand if a man assumed you needed his protection when you didn’t.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been told something was women’s work.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been accused of being emotional or hysterical.
  • Raise your hand if you’ve been physically, emotionally, or sexually abused.

Try giving this survey the next time you’re with female friends. It probably comes as no surprise to anyone reading this that in the vast majority of cases, every woman at the table raised her hand. And that’s probably the most outrageous part of all – that it comes as no surprise.

The only reason that this happens is that we are not in the exclusive group of humans who sports a penis. That simple fact makes “us” not “them”. As far as I can tell, that appendage does not endow people with superior abilities of any kind. It just means we get to be easily identified as being on the other team. And society has arbitrarily decided that our team gets to be the losing team. It’s not rational. It’s not just. And it’s not acceptable.

I for one am sick and tired of being treated to micro-aggressions every single day. Case in point, I looked at my supply of Graphicstock pictures to see which one to use for this blog entry. This, below, is their idea of a good image for Women’s Day. Because we all should be depicted as naked, sexy, thin, with long flowing hair and luscious lips, arching our backs while floating with our heads in a flowery cloud.

Happy Women’s Day, indeed.

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The Emperor Has No Balls

I love art. I love satire. I love Seattle. So when all these things come together, I’m particularly thrilled.

And oh, I was, when one of my faithful readers (waving at Linda!) pointed out to me an art installation that came to Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Cleveland. Called “The Emperor Has No Balls” and created by an activist group called INDECLINE (whose website, incidentally, is really fascinating), it is a statue of Donald Trump in all his… uh… glory?

Yup, he’s stark naked, and missing a certain part of the anatomy as suggested by the title. The statue looks pretty accurate to me. As a matter of fact, I’ll probably need therapy after this, even though I’ve only seen pictures of it.

Here in Seattle, the statue… uh… popped up… on the corner of Pike Street and 11th Avenue, but it seems to have been taken down after only a day. One article I read said it was still available for public viewing, but didn’t say where or how. Just knowing it lurks somewhere within the city limits, like the love child of Godzilla and a banana slug, is kind of unsettling.

But good art ought to shake you up and make you think. Some people, of course, are saying it’s tasteless, and as a general rule I disapprove of body shaming. But in this case, nudity is a metaphor for exposure. Exposing the man for what he really is.

And really, folks, he kind of asks for it. This is a man who has discussed his penis size in a presidential debate. It’s not as though he’s an otherwise dignified human being who is being unfairly targeted. He lives for this stuff.

Putting a statue like this in the middle of downtown Seattle is kind of like preaching to the choir, though. I hope the media buzz will open up some eyes, at least. The whole point is that if you take away all of Donald Trump’s bluster and ignorance and racism and misogyny, what you get is a distasteful… thing… that would turn any reasonable person’s stomach.

As far as I can remember, no other presidential candidate in the history of the United States has been depicted in this fashion. There’s a reason for that. Trump stands alone as the most inappropriate candidate we’ve ever had, and the fact that he’s gotten so close to the presidency is rather terrifying. He has no platform at all, and the wildly unimplementable opinions he espouses would be a human rights nightmare. He wants a police state that benefits no one but himself.

This art installation is meant to turn you off. Exposing Donald Trump’s ugliness is the very least we can do. Please vote.

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World Naked Gardening Day? And I Missed It?

Jeez! Why do I always seem to find out about the cool stuff after the fact? I’m marking my calendar for the first Saturday of May next year, because that’s when World Naked Gardening Day rolls around again.

I love to skinny-dip. There is nothing more liberating than swimming in the nude. But opportunities to do so are few and far between, and I suspect that this will be even more the case now that I reside amongst the frigid waters of the Pacific Northwest.

But gardening in the nude sounds quite appealing as well. Adam and Eve did it, after all. And it’s a great chance to expose parts of you to the sun that are normally cloistered under layers of prudish clothes. I’m also all for any event that promotes a positive body image. And you don’t have to do this in public. You can do it in the privacy of your own garden if you prefer.

An opportunity to commune with nature, get some much needed Vitamin D and have some lighthearted fun, feel free, and flaunt the norms of society all at once? Oh yeah. Count me in.

naked-gardening

[Image credit: patheos.com]

Walkin’ After Midnight

When I was young I had a problem with sleepwalking. Sometimes I would sit straight up in bed and say something strange, lie back down again, and not remember anything about it in the morning.

Once, my mother walked into the kitchen and there I was, pushing against the counter with all my might. She asked me what I was doing and I said, “Help me bail! Help me bail!” She somehow convinced me to go back to bed, and again, I had no memory of it in the morning.

Probably the worst incident, though, was the time my mother and I took a trip and we were staying in a motel. I had gone to sleep in the nude, and the next thing I knew I was standing on the outdoor walkway, stark naked. It was late at night and no one was around, but the problem was I couldn’t remember our room number. So I started pounding on the nearest door, and this lady pulled her curtain aside. She was wearing a housecoat, had cold cream on her face and huge curlers in her hair. It was like she had popped right out of the 1950s, and her eyes were as big as pie plates. Needless to say that wasn’t my room, so I had no choice but to knock on the next door. Thank God it was the right one this time and I was able to bolt inside before being arrested for indecent exposure. That’s when my mother told me that when she was my age, she’d sometimes wake up outside of her house. At least I come by it honestly, I suppose.

After that I didn’t sleep walk for years. Well, not that I know of, anyway. Then when I was 21 I moved into a studio apartment and woke up sitting in the doorway of the closet in front of one of my open suitcases. I was throwing sweaters over my shoulder. I turned around and the room was covered in clothing. I have no idea why I was doing that, but I decided that maybe I should stop sleeping in the nude for a while.

That was the last time I ever walked in my sleep to my knowledge. I still occasionally talk in my sleep, though. It’s a little disconcerting to know there are moments when I am totally out of control. And it makes me wonder what I’ve done that I don’t know about. Fortunately, I’ve reached an age where it takes a heck of a lot to make me self-conscious or embarrassed.

sleepwalker

(Picture Credit: sleep-walker (Tomáš Čech) · GitHub)