Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Big Blue and Raising the Belly Button

I quite enjoy my work as a copyeditor and writer. But, as with any trade or profession, it has its downside: sitting.

Sitting is something I don’t do well for very long without wine or duct tape. I was raised in the Midwest with physically hardworking parents, and reading was not a part of their repertoire. Sitting too long meant you were lazy, unless, of course, you were watching football. I was lucky to be able to read a cereal box while eating.

I imagine I would have had much better grades had I learned to sit, read, and study. But since 2003, I have acquired a taste for all three. That year I added editing to my stable of salable skills, rather than giving it out for free. My work is peaceful, educational, and time efficient. And what’s best: I am paid to find mistakes and help a book become more clear, cohesive, and readable. When I offered these services to my former husband, he never paid me…with money.

One hint publishers offer is, when editing, take frequent breaks, get fresh air, and eat a large dark chocolate bar. That way you will do your best work—quicker. I have another idea to keep one’s body from succumbing to inactivity, aside from asking your partner to come home for lunch: change seats and positions.

Changing positions sprinkles spice into life. Some days I do it on the sofa, other days at the dining room table. Sometimes I’ll stand next to the island, then later move to a comfy living room chair. But my newest position is sitting on George my neighbor’s big blue ball with my iBook on a chair. My back bathes in the sun’s warmth while the screen sits in the dark.

After almost a week of working in this new position, I checked myself out after a shower and thought, just maybe, my belly button was higher than it was the week before. Sitting on the ball forced my body to stay erect and, therefore, to develop firmness.

God did not bless me with a flat stomach—ever. And I’m still a little hurt about that. Even my friend since eighth grade, George (not blue-ball George), wrote to me recently, “As for the stomach? Yes, you always had one. Depending on the day and time of month, it was there, in different framework. But still there.”

Oh, and he threw this one in: “You always had little boobs.”

And now, my friend, I have a belly button that is reaching them.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I Swear

When I was in my last year of school, I told my unconventional mother that I planned to share a home with a couple of Christian girls. Her first reaction was, “So what are you gonna say if you hit your thumb with a hammer? Oh darn? Bummer?” Concluding with, “Good luck.”

They say some behaviors skip a generation or they continue. Well, not in my wild family. Nana was discreetly wild. Mom was out of control. And then there’s me. But when my daughter was 14, she declared, “Swearing is the dumbing of America.”

Well, in England one group feels a lot like my mom.

Apparently there is physical relief from swearing. And though this is not about Tourette’s syndrome, it could be related. In the University of California–Berkeley Wellness Letter (Nov. 2009), they report that Keele University’s School of Psychology in England conducted a study indicating swearing helps people better endure pain.* Researchers determined that using an irreverent word “triggers not only an emotional response but a physical one too.”

I’ve seen both responses—emotional and physical—demonstrated in close succession in bars when some guy says to another guy something about his mother. “What did you say?” Pop in the ol’ kisseroo. Response time from emotional to physical: one nanosecond.

The sixty-four undergraduates participating in the Keele study placed their hands in icy water while repeating their favorite naughty word, such as twaddlefart or poppycock.

Once thawed, the students repeated the icy-water dip, but this time each said a more mundane, no-one-would-cast-a-finger word, such as wet, chilly, or well whadaya know…more ice water.

The result: While using the more unpleasant word, students, in general, withstood more icy pain.

The deduction: When heading into a painful situation, such as court or hiatal hernia surgery without anesthesia, first soak in ice water and fully express yourself, so all your maledictions will be dispersed beforehand. (Though if court is the dreaded destination, I’d suggest icing the lawyers instead.)

So if it’s uncommon for you to curse, you may want to find one or two gems to tuck into your cache of infrequently used words, just in case you find yourself in pain. Ocr around one.

copyright © 2010 by Auntie Eartha. All rights reserved.

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* See research study at