Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Matron and the Midriff

Before blogging about something as freighted as female flesh, the Matron must note:   this post is NOT about weight.     Anyone who has actually seen her, knows that the  Matron is sturdy in name only:  she is generally the thinnest  person in the room.  A wee wisp of a thing.  There's a whole lot of other story behind that scrawny state and that's another blog post.

This one is about age.   Age, apparel, and working "appropriate" into that equation.

Earlier this week, yours truly lamented winter's cruel grip.    She has wriggled and gasped through these brittle months, sustained  by her family's love  only by her devotion to Bikram Yoga.   Readers may remember that last year, Bikram and the Matron became reacquainted; she did the Thirty Day Challenge to commemorate her 50th birthday.
The Matron's dependence on and joy in yoga has continued unabated. Deepened even.   She loves the intense, physical demands and the mopping, painful heat.   She loves the discipline that carving out 90 minutes, five days a week, requires.    She loves  that she can walk outside into  weather that's 15 degrees BELOW zero and half an hour later, be sweating at 110.   That's a 125 degree flip, folks.   In half an hour.

Over theses many months, the Matron has came to understand the restorative value in exposed skin.   When it's 110 degrees and sweating, the only thing that feels good on the skin is  . . nothing.    Teachers sometimes comment that less is more regarding clothing.   Certainly, less is all around her.  Yours truly wears a tank top; this is not your 1950's tank with built-in bra and wire.  No. This is a skin tight, teeny limp piece of material that barely grazes the belly button.  It is made from one square inch of spandex and sits on top of skin tight teeny spandex shorts.   The outfit weighs one ounce.   But everyone around her seems confident that the Matron's yogic experience will be better with belly bare.

The picture above (of strangers) came up when she googled "Bikram yoga."  She likes this photo because it is representative in its depiction of happiness and skin (and youth).    In the Matron's unassuming, hippy-dippy, bare-all Bikram studio, every type of body lets it all hang out:  young, middle-aged, male, female, hefty, wan, paunch, pouch, trim.   .  Those bellies are bouncing, back-bending, and stretching all around her.  

She cannot do it.   Once - just once- she  sported a purple half-tank top ((much like the one above), only to be crippled with self-recrimination and regret.  Truly.   She spent 90 minutes channeling Hester Prynne 

 The Matron -- 51 year old, Midwestern mother of three -- feels that the bare exercising belly belongs to the younger set.   In her world, there are just some things that women of a certain age do not wear.

1. Clearly, stomach-revealing Bikram yoga clothes
2.  Baby doll dresses
3.  Ankle sock, particularly with lace
4. Short shorts
5. Shorts and stilettos
6. Large bows - on hair, clothing, or handbag.
7.Bob Mackie Dress
8.   Fanny packs (ages in another direction)
9.   T-shirts that say "I'm with ____" or "Proud ______ of a _____"
10.   Clothes that match their children's, grandchildren's, spouses or anyone else for that matter

At 51, women should also avoid tent-like items of clothing.   Nothing reveals more than a dress that screams "I'm hiding."    Leather anywhere other than on the feet or swinging on an arm.   This too seems problematic, particularly in short skirt and tight pant form.  

Now, the Matron appreciates that her perspective is rooted in geography.   She has friends from around world who run around nearly naked-- those Latin women?   Shoulders, stomach, thighs--they are swinging it all.    She imagines her California friends and readers see ocean-side aging flesh with regularity.     She understands that there are women who wear flip flops and minimal clothing as accessories to cleavage and belly button.

There is no ocean here.   There is hard winter and the type of long, dirty springs that require hiking boots (mud) and goggles (mud).   Her psyche has been shaped by wool and long underwear, not warm-weather clothing.

The Matron will not be wearing ringlets in her hair.   No bows.    She will leave the teeny tiny mini-skirt to her daughter.    The leopard print leggings she used to pair with  biker boots?    Somehow . . . no.    The platform neon green shoes that seemed so . . . funky . . five years ago now scream 'garish.'    Pink t-shirts with sparkling hearts?  Not her style.

Feathers.   No feathers.

Yours truly will still strut her stuff.     But letting it all hang out?   She'll leave that to the younger set (and her same-age sisters closer to the equator).

Sunday, March 2, 2014


The Matron is complaining.

If you live in Minnesota and are  in the "Buck-Up" crew, please don't read this post.   For the Matron?  She is a-complaining.

She's not sure that people who live somewhere safe fully appreciate that to walk outside in Minnesota is to risk death.   We have had about 50 below-zero days this winter, putting us well into the Top Ten Coldest since 1887.     She thinks we're now at number 7 but tonight's 14 below forecast bodes well for climbing to number 6.

Then there's snow.

Last week, the public schools were cancelled once again as FEET fell upon us.     It is now routine for snow  banks to be much, much taller than the Matron.   She has to stand up -- as much as possible -- in the car in order to see at certain corners.     The streets have  succumbed to the snow, narrowing so much that firetrucks and ambulances can't get through.   True.   The firetruck crisis is now a parking crisis.  Throughout the city, there is parking on only one side of the street until the SNOW MELTS.  Goddamn it.

Snow (did she mention we have a lot of it?) consumes hours and hours and hours of time upon each of  its visits.    There's the sidewalk.  The driveway.  The neighbor's steps.  The cars.   John is outside with the snow blower for an hour and the Matron trims up edges for much the same.    Snow also means driving takes four to 215 times as long as usual.    So you shovel for an hour and then spend two in a car.

Did she mention school?

This year, cold and snow have meant another record:  school cancellations.    Since December 20th, the Matron has had ZERO full work weeks with children in school.     Friends not in Minnesota?  Consider that it is March and you have not had  one full work week without the flu, sniffles, freezing cold, or snow - -your children are home 3 to 4 days a work week.   Thank you, Mother Nature.

Weather frightens the Matron.  She takes it seriously.    New Year's Eve in Minnesota was something alarming like 40 below.   The Matron KNEW some stupid kid would drink too much and die of exposure, especially considering this this sad nightmare not long before.

Tragedy just seemed to settle in this week.  A six year old dies from exposure.  and three Carlton College students die, thanks to ice.

Tomorrow, the Matron will once again drive her daughter to school because it is too dangerous to stand outside and wait for the unpredictable bus.  Tonight, the Matron is wearing two pairs of leggings, sweat pants, t-shirt, two long sleeve shirts, pull-over sweater and sweater (no, she is not kidding) and the space heater in the kitchen has only brought the temperature up to 68 degrees.

We are road weary.    We are Pa from Little House, tying a clothesline from barn to house so we won't succumb to the elements.    We are jumping cars, scraping ice, buying  propane, building fires--and freezing, still.

The message?  Winters like this one are work.  Going to the grocery store is back-breaking work. Getting out of the house sort of sucks.    The heating bill means there is no summer vacation (but winter means summer WILL be vacation).  People die.    Children can't play outside.  

Winter.  Minnesota.   Over.  Soon.  Please.  . . . the Matron is ready for one burst of 10 degrees!