What Is It about Breasts?

As the proud owner of a pair of thankfully healthy and intact, very average size though definitely feeling the force of gravity breasts that seem to coordinate reasonably well with the rest of my body, I have to confess my complete confusion over why 296,000 American women had cosmetic breast augmentation last year. What is it about breasts? Who decided bigger is better?

Yesterday on my Southwest flight from Oakland one of the flight attendants had almost certainly undergone augmentation and it was nearly impossible to notice any other part of her being. I think she was in her 40s or 50s—I can’t be sure because she was wearing a yellow shirt and with the light reflected off those gigantic knockers I could hardly see anything else—which is why I’m pretty sure she’d had help, because nobody over 40 has huge bosoms that are that perky without help. And I think she was nice but I can’t be sure because I was trying so hard not to stare at her gigantic protuberance that I couldn’t really focus on our conversation.

You may think I’m sour grapes but I’ve been there, done that, and it wasn’t my idea of fun. I went on birth control pills for a short time back in the day before they had perfected the chemistry (at least as much as they have yet) and my breasts suddenly jumped two cup sizes. I did not enjoy having to buy dresses two sizes larger to accommodate my ample bosom, and I certainly didn’t enjoy the fact that nobody looked me in the eyes for a couple of years.

Surgical reconstruction? Definitely. Raisins on a breadboard? Sure, I can see it. But for the average-sized healthy-breasted woman? I just don’t get it.

Makings of a Saint

In the Catholic religion in which I was raised, the pope was second only to God, not just here on earth but in the entire universe. Sometimes even true believers wonder if God is really listening to them. They can’t understand why they would be visited by tsunamis, nuclear explosions, and horrible accidents or illness. Fortunately I’ve not had to endure the first of those two, though in California we’ve had our share of natural disasters; still, I have compassion for unreasonable suffering. I also resent the loss of dear friends and relatives long before their time, while others who are clearly unkind, selfish and destructive continue to live full lives. For example, top level employees at BP continue to rake in millions; we hear of no repercussions for those who built the Fukushima and Chernobyl nuclear facilities; political donors (and the politicians themselves) who steadfastly obstruct natural energy alternatives that wouldn’t cause climate change make fistfuls of dollars, directly or indirectly, from the oil industry.

Now there is a pope about to be beatified, which in Catholic jargon means he’s already being considered a saint and the Vatican is just going through the formalities. There are many who must be incensed by this, particularly those who get no assistance from the uber-wealthy Vatican (only directives about birth control and tithing) and the many who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands and other body parts of the clergy. Pope John Paul ll seemed a nice enough guy, but he was in power throughout all the now-coming-to-light sexual abuse and did nothing to stop it. Let’s be honest: sexual abuse by the clergy has likely been rampant since maybe ten minutes after Peter, ostensibly the first disciple, took leadership of the religion, but it’s difficult to prove with all witnesses deceased. However, in the age of the Internet we know at least some of what John Paul did. We know he turned a blind eye to sexual abuse.

Just as almost everybody born before 1973 knew somebody who died in Viet Nam, almost everybody born before 2005, when John Paul ll died, knows somebody who was abused by the clergy during his reign. You may not know you know that person, but you do. And if you know that person well, you know that beatification of JP ll is completely and utterly wrong. Any good he did is outweighed by the damage he allowed to continue to be inflicted on innocent children.

4-24-11 Annual Shout Out

Hello out there to anybody who happens to stumble upon my blog. I don’t come here very often these days because I’m so busy editing and writing for Whole Life Times, and editing books for Inner Traditions and various individual, fascinating authors. It’s no surprise I’m immersed in reading materials. I was raised in a family that valued books and would never tell me the meaning of an unfamiliar word. Rather, they insisted, “Look it up in the dictionary,” and indeed, Webster’s lay splayed open on the antique reading stand at all times, perhaps in the p’s at pusillanimous or peregrination, or the u’s at ubiquitous or ululate. Funny the words we remember.

To this day I savor finding unfamiliar words in whatever book I might be reading. Last night I started T. C. Boyle’s newest novel, When the Killing’s Done, and was delighted to write down two words to look up in the first 40 pages, along with something called the Lombard effect, which should make me sound extremely erudite the next time I’m in a noisy restaurant. That is, if anybody can hear me above the din.

It’s Easter Sunday, which was more meaningful when I was a child or raising a child, but now is just a lovely day in a backyard filled with geraniums, roses, bougainvillea, and a fragrant lavender-colored perennial that I keep meaning to bring to the nursery for help with identifying. There are even giant golden-yellow shoots from the aloe plants, a favorite of the hummingbirds.

Whatever else Easter may represent in the dominant religions, I perceive it as a time of rebirth, of rising from the gooey, sticky stuff we often find ourselves immersed in as a culture or individuals. New Year’s is traditionally the time for resolutions and new beginnings — often gone down the tubes by April. Perhaps such resolutions would be more successful if we stuck with the natural cycle and spent the colder, darker months devoted to the preparation that would allow us to blossom in the spring.

3-26-10 Spring Comes to L.A.

My friends in colder climes scoff at the idea of spring in a part of the world that seems perpetually April-May, but they haven’t sat on my back patio, pants rolled above the knees to absorb vitamin D and color into lily white legs, gazing out over a lush and vibrant, albeit small, backyard. This is the green that hospitals and mental wards strive for, a tranquil, complex green that simultaneously draws my gaze and returns itself to me — not that pea green that always seems to coat institutional walls.

Somehow we’ve managed to add four trees to the five that were here when we settled in 10 years ago. Our orange tree, which took several disappointing years to grant us any fruit, is now covered with fragrant blossoms. If a strong Santa Ana wind doesn’t blow the baby oranges off again this year, we’ll have a sunny and abundant crop.

These are the days I love living in Southern California.

2/3/2010 Having just published our fifth issue

Suffice to say Whole Life Times has been commanding a lot of my time, but we’re having so dang much fun! Love the stories, and Angelenos are incredibly enthusiastic and alive with new ideas. Print is not dead but alive and thriving in community media. Readers seem to be enjoying a break from the fast-food information onslaught and enjoying our local and sustainable magazine. Bite off a thought, chew and enjoy.

Please visit me at the Whole Life Times website and get a taste for yourself!

6/10/09 New WLT hits the streets!

About the last thing I ever expected was to be editing Whole Life Times again, but life has an amazing way of surprising us. Please check it out at wholelifemagazine.com!

4/24 Spring in LA

The heat wave earlier this week was positively beastly, especially for the furry beasties who lay about on their backs, paws in the air, panting.

But today is cooler and the jasmine vines, forced into early bud, perfume the evening air with their intoxicating fragrance that fairly makes me swoon.

I wonder if the beasties notice. Elsa seems more attuned to the twittering of the birds building a nest in the candle lantern hanging from the patio beam. Not much interest in jasmine but she can smell a can of tuna opening from a mile away.

4/7 Make Peace, Not War

What a relief that our president is reaching out to the government of an Islamic country. We have a history of polarization—when I was growing up it was “the Commies;” more recently Democrats and Republicans have done it to each other right here at home—and it doesn’t seem like a good way to move toward world peace and progress. Whether or not the United States and Turkey will be political allies is almost immaterial. It makes sense to keep our friends close, and our enemies closer.

4/1 Get Friendly in the Friendly Skies

United Airlines made the skies so friendly that someone opened a hotel. The largest helicopter ever produced – the Hotelicopter – features 16 “luxurious” rooms and two suites, each replete with a queen-sized bed, warming toilet seat, dimmers and room service. There’s also a public area featuring an art gallery, wine tasting, tanning, yoga and Japanese garden with koi pond.

Life getting too hectic? Need a quick getaway or secret hideaway? It’s the ultimate place to have an affair without danger of being discovered. Unless, of course, you charge it on your AmEx and leave the bill lying around.

Rumor has it that Rick Wagoner, Edward Liddy and Ruth Madoff have all booked rooms for the maiden voyage this summer.

3/28 The Swamp Monster

Although I’ve never been one to hit the sack particularly early, lately I’ve been dreading going to bed, because I don’t want to confront the swamp monster. The swamp monster doesn’t lurk under my bed or in my closet; no, the swamp monster has taken up residence in my lungs. If I’m not completely vertical, each breath reveals a hoarse, murky, wet sound that must belong to a creature with green scales and bleary eyes. This wretched interloper sneaked aboard while I was short-terming in a hermetically sealed newsroom—a great gig with fabulous people, but for this uninvited guest who came home with me. It’s been about ten years since I was last sick (lucky me!), so I’m going to share what I learned this time out.

1. Get enough sleep! It doesn’t matter what you need to do to get sleep, but it’s the number one priority.
2. Give up on the gym, except for the steam room, for a while. Exercise only exacerbates the condition.
3. Drink lots of fresh lemon juice to restore your body’s appropriate acid/alkaline balance and fight inflammation.
4. Forget inhalers and cough medicine with codeine (which about destroyed my stomach lining).
5. Minimize stress. Yeah, this one is tough and I’m sure it kept that smarmy monster around longer than I would have hoped.
6. If you’re not getting better, get antibiotics. I really dislike them, but sometimes it’s silly not to take advantage of modern medicine.