Leave a comment

From the Mental Centrifuge: This is a First.

So, you’ll notice I don’t blog much about my physical body, my appearance, etc. This is a choice I make for a variety of extremely personal and complicated reasons. I will try and simplify it, if I can.

I choose not to talk about my physical body not because I am ashamed of it (quite the contrary), but rather because I feel strongly that my body shouldn’t be part of conversation unless I want it to be. My body is not a factor in how I am treated because I do not make it one. When a person deals with me, they deal with my intellect, my wit, my capability. My body and its shape and whatnot is strictly my business. It’s true that I can’t control how you respond to it, but I can sure as hell decide how I react to you, and I can sure as hell not join in with the “my_____ is so____” business that so many women nervously fall back on.

As a woman who is overweight, in other words, as a woman who has so-called physical “flaws” impossible to hide, I’ve been the scapegoat for many a woman’s physical insecurities. Interestingly enough, these encounters have not been with women I count as friends. My friends have all been women who have shared my spirit and who have fought in one way or another for their own beauty’s voice. That’s the thing: a woman has to fight for herself to understand her value, no matter what her body looks like. A woman who is so physically perfect that she never feels insecure is a wild myth. The reason for that is simple: women are told again and again by every kind of media, by a culture that teaches men to commodify women, that no matter what, a woman as she is will never be good enough. She must be changed, added to or distorted in some way. This is a big message, one that would be easy to spot, you’d think. But even if you think you can filter it out and be just fine with yourself, you can’t entirely anticipate how insidious an idea it is. Self-doubt has got to be one of the most underestimated forces driving humanity!

So, a couple of days ago, I had my nephew for most of the day. I was excited to take him with me to Safeway and the Post Office. It’s rare that it would ever be just he and I in the car alone going somewhere, so it felt really special to me. I supplied the music (“Louder, Auntie Katie!”) and controlled the temperature (“Cold wind, please, Auntie Katie”) to his specifications, and we had silly discussion and made wacky noises together. It was wonderful. I even handled 2 potty emergencies pretty well. Given my inexperience with such matters and the difference in our genders, I wasn’t sure how that would go, but he knew what to do. So, when we were in line at the Post Office and he informed me he had to “go pee-pee,” I asked the Post Office staff for the nearest bathroom and got a shrug in return. A shrug. (Some doofus knows nothing about children and their bladders…)

As soon as we were done at the P.O., we rushed to the car and I took us to the closest, most accessible bathroom I could think of, which was at a local fast food place. There was a men’s and a women’s restroom. The ladies’ was full, so Em went into the men’s. “I’ll wait right here!”, I told him. A couple of times, he shouted out to me, “Auntie Katie, are you there?” and I shouted back, completely nonplussed by the dining area full of people.

Once Em was done, and one need was met, another need asserted itself. So we made our way to the couter for a kid’s meal.

The woman behind the counter immediately started talking, calling me “mama”. It was a challenge to keep an eye on Em and process what she was saying to me. (I already had a healthy appreciation for my Mom and my sister-in-law, but this moment brought it home in a new way.) The woman was still talking while Em danced around a bit, jabbering about the toy he was going to get.

Woman: (if I had to guess, she was probably between a size 16-18) “Girl, where did you get that shirt? I LOVE IT.”

Me: (blushing a little at the compliment) “Oh, um, Old Navy. Thank you. (turning aside) Stay close to me, Em, ok?”

Woman: “Oooooh….they sell small girl clothes there now? You know I can’t fit into anything they make at that place! But you got a shirt? Where do they sell small girl clothes?”

Me: “Um, online, I guess.”

Woman: “Oh, I see. You know I love Lane Bryant. I feel so little in that place. hahaha”

Me: “We need a kid’s meal with a cheeseburger….”

So, let me decode that very brief conversation for you. First of all, the shirt I was wearing was a nice, blue henley shirt from Old Navy that I bought in a store. It was not a special size at all. Old Navy sizes can be very strange that way. They seem to fit everyone, sometimes. It has always been that way. But the majority of their clothing would have obviously fit her just fine. The woman’s assertion of disbelief that I could have bought a “normal” sized shirt was ridiculous. It was calculated, as was her use of “small girl clothes” to signify the opposite.

Next she pointed out that she loves to shop at Lane Bryant, which carries sizes 14-28, BUT her point was that the clothes they sell made even her, who was so obviously smaller than me , feel tiny. The whole point of that brief and unnecessary conversation was for this woman to compare herself to me and reassure herself that while she clearly hates her body, AT LEAST IT IS SMALLER THAN MINE. (I challenge any assertion that women are simple creatures. This is nothing, really…)

While Em and I sat at a table by the window, I ignored the insecurity creeping up on me, made an effort to sit up straighter and put my focus on Emery. Later, I thought about what the woman had said and dearly wished I had shut her stupid face down. Instead I took the easy way out and took the bait by saying the shirt was purchased online, buying into the implication that women of my size should shop online where no one else can see. Did I wish I had said “MY HAIR CAN KICK YOUR SORRY, INSECURE ASS AND IT IS NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS WHERE I BUY MY SHIRTS, WHETHER YOU LIKE THEM OR NOT”? Yes, of course. But I would have been indulging her even more to respond at all. The fact was that the trap was set. The conversation wasn’t with me, it was between her and her insecurities, really. I was the scapegoat.

What makes a woman respond that way? I think before you even finished reading that question, you already have an idea in mind. It’s there in your mind already. There are already specific sources in your life that communicate to you somehow that you’re not okay how you are. I’m not going to generalize them for you because you know what I mean.

Recently, I made a commitment to lose weight and get more fit. I’ve been doing okay at it. (My family has been wonderfully supportive and positive.) My reasons for making this choice have to do with the things I want to do with my body. They are not cosmetic. In fact, I’ve had a lot of anxiety about this choice, worried that I was somehow betraying myself. That may seem strange, but consider it: I’ve defended my right to be what I am for my whole adult life, despite the message everywhere that being overweight is unacceptable. Yet, I’ve decided to change that. Of course there is going to be conflict.

But I was never defending my right to be overweight. I have defended my right to be whatever I am, and that happened to be overweight, and now I defend my choice to do different things with my body because IT IS MY BODY AND IT IS GORGEOUS. You see? This decision and it’s implications have nothing to do with anyone but me. I could give a rat’s ass about fitting into more things at Old Navy. I’ve gotten used to perusing Target’s women’s section, hidden in the back out of view of the “normals” (hahaha), and I actually love Lane Bryant’s clothing because it is well made and it fits my curving bits pretty damn well. But now I have other goals that I need my body to be in top shape for. Exercise hasn’t been a consistent choice for me, and I want to change that.

So there it is.

This is a first for me. I’ve never been open about this kind of thing, so there it is.

 

Advertisements
4 Comments

Random Rantages (this post has opinions)

Rants from the past week, in no particular order:

1. Honestly, to all the people on Twitter confused about “Bonny Bear” and Paul Mcartney and anything falling into the “I haven’t heard of this and therefore I don’t like it” category, GOOGLE IT YOU MORONS. I’m a big advocate of the wonders the intertubes bring us, but maybe throwing some new adults into the digital dark ages for a few years might be a good idea.

2. Were people always so blindly, wildly devoted to things that are clearly indefensible in some areas (such as literature and domestic abuse) before Twilight and Chris Brown? Really, Perpetual 13 year-olds of the world, you like it, so those who disagree with you must be peppered with moronic insults involving “u” and “bcuz”? Here’s my reply: CHRIS BROWN IS NEVER GOING TO MARRY YOU AND NO MATTER WHAT, TWILIGHT IS NEVER GOING TO BE REAL LIFE OR GOOD LITERATURE. The truth is that being attacked by someone you love and trust is horrific, as is whatever goes on with what’s his face, Wolfguy and that girl in the book. People don’t get to become vampires while Wolfguy decides to marry their baby and everything is better. Instead not only do they get beat up by their boyfriend, but the whole world sees the evidence and turns around and explains away his very obvious and serious problems!

3. I would like to see more young Christians (or young people of other religions) experiencing the world, by which I mean engaging in ideas in any kind of art in any medium (music, movies, etc), for themselves and learning how to talk about what they see in a productive manner. Don’t trust someone else to tell you how to feel about things.

4. I wish more people would notice the power structures around them. Ever thought about what influences have added up around you? Look at them and then look at how you respond. Perhaps you can beat the unhealthy influences and nurture the better ones without needing to resort to dousing your world with forms of guilt, shame, envy or pride. It has made a big difference to me to think about why certain things have as much pull on me as they do. It’s like untangling a messed up skein of yarn.

5. People whose ideas of the world come from a fear of it, more specifically a fear of their personal influence being reduced, are not to be trusted. Remember that fear is the most effective tool in silencing dissent.

6. Fellow women, STOP APOLOGIZING FOR EVERYTHING.

DO NOT TOLERATE SOME JERK OF EITHER SEX TELLING YOU WHEN YOU GET RAPED, YOU DESERVE IT.

DO NOT TOLERATE IT WHEN SOME JERK SAYS IF YOU WHERE SWEATPANTS AND YOUR HUSBAND CHEATS, IT IS YOUR FAULT.

DO NOT TOLERATE OTHER WOMEN’S COMPLAINTS ABOUT THEIR BODIES.

STOP ALLOWING SOMEONE ELSE TO DEFINE YOUR BEAUTY.

BE BOLD ENOUGH TO ADMIT THAT WHILE YOU CAN ALWAYS IMPROVE, YOU ARE STILL PRETTY AWESOME AND CAPABLE OF MUCH.

7. The world sometimes sucks. More often, it is a place full of beauty and opportunity. STOP WHINING AND INSTEAD LEARN TO CARE ABOUT SOMETHING REAL.

8. As Americans, we’re not nearly as oppressed as we think we are.

9. EVERYONE MAKES TYPOS. EVERYONE CAN ALSO NEVER USE TEXTSPEAK AND GET BY JUST FINE ON THE EXTRA MINUTE IT TAKES TO TYPE OUT “YOU”.

 

Sigh. I sound preachy but these are things I tell myself, you know. Got to learn it somehow.

1 Comment

IKEA, Land of Containers and EVEN MORE CONTAINERS

For the first time last week, I got to experience an Ikea in all its Swedish business model goodness. My sister-in-law invited me to go with her and my nephew to look for some things she needed. Once we were en route, my nephew, in his adorably precocious way, asked in some exasperation where we were going. “We’re going to Ikea,” I told him. A few minutes later he said “Auntie Katie, are we in Ikea, yet?” as if Ikea was a place we could close our eyes and end up in, an imaginary land of Swedish engineering that we had to assemble ourselves.

After a quick stop at Starbuck’s (“Not quite there yet,” I said to the Neph.”), we finally made it. For the record, my sister in law handles a Suburban like it’s a horse she’s been riding her whole life. The Neph was released from his seat, and as soon as his little feet hit the ground, he did a dance to accompany his shouts of “We’re at Ikea! We’re at Ikea!” That kind of enthusiasm, destination sight unseen, is admirable, frankly. (Traveling with The Neph tends to boil experiences down to their essential elements. He moves so much and so fast and is so cute and absorbing that unnecessary details seem to fade away.)

From the parking lot, I didn’t take much time to examine the building. I was expecting a Costco or something, I guess, but you probably could have fit three Costcos inside of this place, make that three Costcos stacked on top of SUVs. The truth is I have no idea how big it actually was, and I was utterly turned around the whole time. Sense of direction completely kaput. The arrows on the floor turned out to be completely necessary, mayhaps because once inside the building, people are apt to lose their way due to pure commercial dazzlement. Something like that.

I have to say, it was an almost overwhelmingly amazing shopping experience. (THERE IS A WHOLE ROOM FOR PILLOWS.) It is probably a very good thing that I wasn’t there looking for apartment or home stuff for myself. There’s so much to see, so much stimulation, that I’d probably end up with a weird smish-smash of items that I like but that don’t match. Might be a good look, though. I could just say “Do you like it? I call this style ‘Ikea Threw Up in My Home'” when onlookers “ooh” and “ah” awkwardly. Might work.

Here is a sampling of items I found particularly exciting:

1. THE GREEN SHELF

2. THE COMFY RED CHAIR

3. EVEN MORE COMFY CHAIRS!

4. COASTERS…FOR PEOPLE!

5. CONTAINERS…FOR THINGS!

6. The Aforementioned ROOM OF PILLOWS

7. (Swedish, of course) MEATBALLS

8. COLORFUL SHEETS

9. EVEN MORE CONTAINERS!

So after wandering all over the top floor and getting lunch in Ikea’s self serve restaurant area, Steph and the Neph and I made our way to the warehouse. Steph was looking for a mattress for the Neph’s new race car bed, and she had a tag to match the one on the display floor that she liked. The warehouse was HUGE. Every aisle had a giant number on it, and each aisle had numbered bins. Steph’s mattress was all the way down at the end, wrapped in a bundle so tight that it in no way resembled a mattress to my mind. However, we went around the corner and discovered the clearance area. There, filed sideways in a shelf like yesterday’s mail, was a discounted mattress just like Steph had in the cart, except it was unrolled. So she hefted it onto the cart, and we made our way to the check out. I wish I had taken a picture of it, but I think my hands were needed at that point. The Neph did really well. He happily chirped around us, carrying his newly adopted stuffed, spotted puppy dubbed “SisterKittyPuppy” (it’s a long story). It was a big day for him. Hell. It was a big day for all three of us!

Leave a comment

List of Whatnots #14

1.

Starting this week, I get to babysit my Neph every Wednesday evening for a few hours. I’m looking forward to having the time together just he and I so we can really develop stuff that just he and I do. Our thing. Our Neph and Auntie Katie things. That’s the good stuff.

2. Based on the recommendation of a sweet friend, I started a tumblr to store my goofy captioned pictures. They must satisfy the dork within, or something.

3. Have you heard Lana Del Rey? I stumbled onto one of her videos somewhere. She is another one of those waify, big-haired siren types, but I really like what she does with her voice. You can download Born to Die here and see what you think. She was on SNL last week, and has apparently run afoul of music critics for seeming nervous, not moving a lot, and not yet having an album out before daring to appear on SNL. (EYE ROLL.)

4. In an effort to work some mental trickery on myself, I made no resolutions this year but did establish some personal goals. It’s funny how it used to be my job to help people figure out how to set goals they could actually meet; yet, I have taken a damn long time to start realistically applying said skills to myself. (It’s worth noting that maybe desperate college kids are a bit more suggestible than my stubborn self. More’s the pity!)

5. Musically I can not get enough of the Fleet Foxes’ Grown Ocean. Gorgeous, multi-layered, reflective lyrics…wonderful. Listen here.

6.

7 Comments

Goodbye 2011: Part Dos

So. During 2011, I spent more of my time alone than in any year previously. I rented a room with a family I wasn’t part of (though they were very sweet and kind), and was carless for most of the year, so I ended up spending a lot of time engaged with media in some way. Often that meant listening to podcasts or music while trekking to the bus on the way to work or while doing errands over the weekend.

Every weekend, I would look forward to downloading NPR’s On the Media and Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me. On the Media is full of stories about the news media itself, which is a topic I have always been passionate about exploring. Discovering a whole podcast created just to talk about this the inner workings and implications of media made me quite giddy. Like a schoolgirl. Seriously. To an embarrassing degree. Ask anyone. I recommend listening to a recent episode just to hear the segment about North Korea.

And of course, Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me is a hilarious news themed quiz show. A guaranteed laugh at the end of the week was always a good thing. In particular, when the panelists lead Peter Sagal, the host, off script just to get in one more one-liner…I love that!

Typically, while cleaning or crafting or some such, I would choose to listen to a podcast or watch a show on Hulu because it made me feel less alone. I’m a people person (generally), so spending a lot of time alone can be demoralizing and difficult. While yes, it is true that podcasts and shows make a poor substitute for actual people, I’m hardly the first person to turn to such comforts.

AND speaking of Hulu and Netflix, I have got to mention some of the tv shows of the past year that kept me engaged and interested. I love having access to so many options through either of these services. Many a time, they’ve helped divert from a sleepless night or provided background entertainment while I was crafting.

So, here is my list of shows I absolutely loved this past year:

DOCTOR WHO: This is a no-brainer inclusion. I was a minority among my friends in that I loved the 11th Doctor from his first appearance. Don’t get me wrong! David Tennant, Christopher Eccleston and the rest deserve their props. Matt Smith brings a kind of whimsical joy to the role that I really enjoy. The addition of Amy Pond, Rory, and River Song have lead to some really fantastic, emotional episodes, too.

SONS OF ANARCHY: The first two seasons had some harsh scenes. But wow. The mixture of Shakespearean stakes, a motorcycle club, and betrayal is explosive and wildly compelling. I can hardly wait for the next season.

SUPERNATURAL: Not only is this show exciting, it’s cheeky, too. And I love me some cheeky. My favorite episode this past year had Sam and Dean in a world where they were actors playing themselves in a show about their lives. Glorious amounts of self-awareness.

STARGATE UNIVERSE: Sigh. Only two seasons and already canceled. It turns out the Heathcliff of the Stargate franchises was a bit unpalatable to the corporate hacks at the SyFy Network. But before it went, it was wonderfully complex and interesting. Just enough real darkness and not too many tender moments to ruin it (I’m looking at you, Terra Nova).

JUSTIFIED: Gotta love a show about a U.S. marshall transferred back to his small, southern hometown in Kentucky where there are plenty of baddies to fall victim to his excellent shooting. Though the women in this show bother for some reason. I haven’t quite figured out why. Except for Mags, of course.

 

A few shoes worth mentioning because they were disappointing….

GLEE: There are too many things wrong with this show to bother mentioning here. Maybe I can sum it up by calling it generally annoying. Every time I hear Sue call Kurt “Porcelin”, I wince. The problem is the meaner characters in the show go too far. Way too far. I just can’t stomach it anymore, despite how much I have loved the performances.

HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER: For a sitcom, this show is not too bad. I like the concept. I enjoy the characters from time to time with one very notable exception. Barney Stinson. Neil Patrick Harris is fun to watch. He’s a great entertainer. But his character is the most disgustingly over the top womanizing pig I have yet seen on TV. And yet, everybody just loves him. I don’t know anyone who has watched the show, so I can’t have this conversation with anyone else, but why is it that such a character can be so easily handed to us on television? In other, stronger language, why do we as women (and men who notice such things) put up with this shit!? And shit it is! Every episode, Barney is fed an endless stream of girls “with daddy issues” (his favorite kind). It is too much. I tried to give it a chance, and I really liked the other three main characters. But for many of the episodes, Barney ruined it. I’m sick of the kind of shlock comedy sitcom writers throw out and expect people to enjoy. Thank goodness for the less traditional Community, 30 Rock, and the charming Parks and Rec.

A GUILTY PLEASURE I AM ASHAMED TO ADMIT I WATCH:

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS: Yes, everyone on the show is too pretty. This is a rule for television for a certain demographic. And nothing is the least bit realistic. But a relationship between a teenage girl and her teacher? And we’re expected to celebrate their love while her friends act like it’s normal and not actually incredibly creepy and unhealthy because the teacher has a literary name and is so dreamy? ARRRRRGGGGHHHH!!!!! COME ON YOU HAVE GOT TO BE FREAKING KIDDING ME, ABC FAMILY!!!

So, let’s hope that 2012 has more great TV, even though I’ve moved back into a “Spending Time with Real Folk” phase of my life. Netflix and Hulu are great for keeping things until you’re ready for them.

Any thoughts? What did you enjoy about 2011 entertainment? Got any favorite podcasts?

 

Leave a comment

Goodbye 2011 Part Uno

I’ve decided to make some changes to my blog in order to make it more useful to me, and mayhaps, a bit more interesting to the casual observer this year. But before I begin to put all that in to practice, I felt it necessary to say a proper goodbye to 2011, which was quite the year.

Previously, I declared 2011 the Year of Freedom. Surely enough, I managed to get myself free of a toxic employment situation and gradually was able to shake off its remaining ill effects. And so, for 2012, I have decided to declare this The Year of Change. I’m ready to embrace the changes coming my way this year, more ready than ever.

However, before I can fully say goodbye to 2011, there are a few things that gave me bits of happiness through some dark times that are worth mentioning here. (Right away, let me say that I won’t be mentioning people, more so various forms of media, music, shows, movies, books, that kind of thing. I am constantly grateful for the love, tolerance, and humor of the people in my life who love me. The past year was full of their love, thank goodness.) My next few posts will be about these things. Some made me happy for the sheer joy of them (Florence and the Machine and Doctor Who, for example. By the way, wouldn’t that be an incredible episode?) and others because they challenged me and/or kept my brain awake and fighting.

So, stay tuned, people. And feel free to add your own enjoyments in the comments.

 

 

1 Comment

November was a Fickle Mistress.

20111208-144849.jpg

So, I utterly failed at NaNoWriMo. I’m thinking I’m better suited to something like NaShorStoWriMo. Is that a thing? It should be a thing.

Turns out, November had a bit more in it than I expected, none of which lent itself to novel writing. (Someday I will do NaNoWriMo and do it up right. Nobody puts baby in a corner!)

Two of those things happened to have involved the dreaded fickle mistress that is the craft fair. Sigh…SIGH.

On the outside, maybe the idea of sitting comfortably at a table full of your wares looks simple. Sometimes it is. Sometimes people are excited and gracious about perusing your wares. Other times the fish just aren’t biting. However, one thing is always true about participating in craft fairs: by the time you’ve gotten to the comfortable-table-perching stage, you’ve lost plenty of sleep prepping. The night before the first of these two excursions, I only slept for 2 hours.

It’s hard when your crafty guts are at stake not to do everything you can to make them attractive.

I bombed terribly at both craft fairs. It’s hard to say why other than to point out that it can be difficult to find one’s audience, there’s a lot of talented crafters out there, and most of all, people have limited money to spend and are thus very choosy about where they spend it. Neither of the craft fairs were a waste by any means, though. (I recommend always bringing a partner to such affairs.)

During the first fair, Mom and I spent the whole day hanging out together. She made the rounds and talked to probably every single crafter there, checking out the “competish” and shmoozing. We concluded that mayhaps if I made jewelry for people’s small dogs, I would do better, based on the number of people buying from the table next to us selling flannel doggie sleeping pouches.

The second fair was a bit better established and had more traffic. My sister in law Steph got us the hook up for the fair. (She also makes jewelry.) We always have a good time together, no matter what we do. But, sadly, the fish were just not biting that day. The fair was at an elementary school, so there was more than one child looking for gifts for Mom. One boy perused everything on the table, touching them all very gently before looking me in the eye and saying “Ma’am your jewelry is all so lovely! Have a nice day.” (Somebody raised him right and should make sure in the future he has money to buy his mother jewelry.)

I did get a lot of knitting done, though.

There were several tables across from us that had beautiful artwork for sale. Pottery and unique pillows and crocheted eggs and bacon magnets. (Steph bought them, a fitting tribute to breakfast essentials.) And yes, several of these beautiful items had birds on them. What made our day, though, was the mustaches on a stick. Simple. HILARIOUS. Best dollar I ever spent.

20111208-145001.jpg

20111208-145117.jpg

So there it is. The life of a crafter is sometimes less than profitable, but hardly ever without its rewards. November is a pretty busy time as far as opportunities to mix with the public go. Maybe next year I will cheat at NaNoWriMo…

%d bloggers like this: