Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mm-Mm... Cotton Balls... I'll Have Seconds Please!

As an avid (and shameless) Sex and the City watcher, I know the importance of New York's Fashion Week. I also know that the clothes are ridiculously ugly, uncomfortable looking, and downright tacky. How a designer thinks a woman wearing an igloo is attractive or even a space helmet with a Molly Ringwald Pretty In Pink prom dress is beyond me. 

Yes, this is absolutely practical for a day at the office or a first date. 
The dawn of Fashion Week is upon anxious fashion lovers and women with too much money. (Personally, I think more attention should be given to "Fleet Week" but my opinion is overlooked most of the time when it comes to things that are "important"). While women across New York scramble to make time to sit in front of a runway and watch the latest styles make their way down the catwalk, the models themselves are using every last hour and minute they have to get ready for the big reveal. Are they highlighting their hair? Nope. Are they trying on new make-up and bronzers? Not this time. Are they eating cotton balls and shooting up cocaine? Why yes, yes they are. Don't we all when it's time to get ready for that "big day" in front of an audience? I know I can't imagine prepping for a first date without eating only cotton balls for a week. And please, the small kind not the extra-jumbo balls. Let's not be gluttonous here kids.

I recently read an article entitled: "Pills, Injections, and Plain Starvation: The Dangerous Extremes Models Go To For Fashion Week Runways." To even be considered a candidate to model in today's industry you must be at least 5'8", 100 pounds (or less) and no larger than a size 0. Well, let me just say as a 5'3", plus size brunette rocking the double digit pant size: more power to ya girls. While I endure the dreaded weight loss battle with such weapons as the dreadmill and Jillian Michaels' threats, models have found the secret to success. According to one model, Kira Dikhtya, "Packs of cigarettes, daily colonics, laxatives, Phentermine diet pills, Adderal, Rx drugs that suppress the appetite, cocaine, speed, thyroid injections, and a strict 500 calorie diet" are the norm. And here I was thinking that SlimFast shakes were a bit extreme. While crack and speed sound like really healthy options to drop the weight, some women have resorted to eating cotton balls to fill their grumbling tummies. I'm just wondering what the caloric value of a cotton ball is and if it contains any carbs. Models also have to pee on a ketosis stick to make sure they aren't consuming any carbs. The only time my fat ass is peeing on a stick is when I think my tummy is grumbling not because it wants more cotton balls (yum-o!) but because there is something growing inside there. 

Reminiscent of the horrifying images from World War II, right? 
Is there a light at the end of this very disturbing, bony and oh-so-gross tunnel the Fashion World seems to have gotten itself trapped in? Surprisingly, maybe. According to the industry, designers such as Miuccia Prada and Herve Leger are two of the designers who have been hiring healthy-looking curvier models. Now, let's not get excited and send me off to New York to fulfill any Chaka Khan runway dreams that I may have had once or twice while walking on the dreadmill. By "plus-size" they mean a size 4. Double digits need not apply to Fashion Week. But perhaps it's a step in the right direction because anything that gets a woman to think she doesn't have to look like the above "human rib cage and sternum display" is a good start in my opinion. 

Back in the 1920s and 30s, women with a little extra meat on their bones were considered more attractive than the stick figures. The more curves the more appeal. I think this had to do with survival of the fittest though. When the Depression hit who would you kill first if you were starving? The fat girl or the skinny girl? Obviously you'd kill the fat girl because she would feed more, right? It was really a publicity propaganda ploy to bulk up the women for a "worst-case scenario" should the US need to resort to cannibalism. (Just a theory, ok?) While this concept of beautiful is not the case in today's society, I can't put a stop to Fashion Week's horrendous clothes or disgusting models. But I will continue to chase that illusive dream of single digit pant sizes and the absence of anything that can be referred to as "extra" or "bat wings." But I'm going to do it wearing cotton... not eating it. That is, unless you cover that thing in some sugary goodness.... 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

"The Bullies Made Me Do It..." Well, that's unfortunate.

I recently watched a story on Nightline (valid news source- it has a pretty intense theme song and that's how I gauge those sorts of things). The reporter was interviewing a 14 year old girl who had undergone plastic surgery this summer to fix her ears and crooked nose because of excessive bullying. While the doctor was in there tinkering with her face he decided to throw in some cheek implants and touch up her chin. The surgery cost close to $40,000. Now, before you go thinking that her father, Daddy Warbucks, foot the bill please note that the entire surgery was paid for by a charity organization. This organization is dedicated to providing surgeries to children who have deformed faces including a cleft palate or perhaps horrible burn scars. And, apparently, elf ears and nose jobs.

Now, I'm not trying to say that bullying doesn't force a child or a teenager into wanting to change their appearance. When you are constantly picked on, day after day, tormented for the way you look or dress, you can't help but beg for some kind of cure-all pill to stop it all. When the girl was asked if she was worried that the kids in school would make fun of her for having plastic surgery she simply responded: "Well, they made me do it so if they pick on me I will just have to deal with it." And her self esteem has skyrocketed as she now wants to do teen modeling.

So what's the point of this entry you may ask (well, truth be told you ask that every time you read this blog)... to verbally slap the doctor and the parents involved in this situation. They won't read this, obviously, but at least I'm attempting to make my point. And I'd also like to throw in a slap for all the Facebook commenters who supported her surgery and compared it to "parents allowing their children to get braces."

Well... now it's personal kids. 

How a $40,000 plastic surgery face transformation and orthodontic procedures are the same thing is beyond me. I've said it before, I'll say it again and I will most likely find a way to get it on my tombstone: I was bullied. From the age of 6 to about 17, I was called names, pushed around, thrown into lockers, poked, prodded, followed, the victim of gum in the hair and spitballs in the face. I pleaded with my parents to help me and to do something so the kids would stop picking on me. Their solution? Well, she's fat so let's put her on the soccer team. Fabulous idea folks! I couldn't run, needed an inhaler and the uniform was purple so it looked like Grimace was attempting to defend the goal. That really helped. And my teeth? Well, I could mow the lawn with my overbite. I required things only Robo-Cop would be given. I had apparati including: a bionater, headgear (denim--- super snazzy), braces, spacers, rubber bands, retainers, and wire wrapping around the back of my teeth. Sleepovers were out of the question (with the few friends I had) and attempting to talk in public required a translator (and towel for those in front of me). I wore glasses. I had a horrible haircut courtesy of Timothy Patchowski who stuck gum in my hair and required inches upon inches falling to the floor in a salon. I wore hand-me-down clothes and at times, out of the pure evilness of her heart, my mother dressed me and my sister in matching outfits. I was the teacher's pet, the cop's daughter, the last picked for the team in gym and I was frequently seen wearing a "Bryan White" t-shirt to school.

My parents knew what was happening in the classroom and on the bus. They knew I was heartbroken and miserable as the girl who everyone picked on. But they decided one thing: She will get through this. We will provide her the love and support she needs at home and one day she will overcome this horror. It will require years of therapy but we'll get her there. I love them but they could have done without the matching outfits and they could have refrained from putting me on the soccer team. (To this day a piece of me dies on the inside when I see Grimace on tv). They never offered me the option of plastic surgery even when the acne on my face could easily have been confused with a large pepperoni pizza outside the box. They paid for orthodontics because otherwise I would have been forced to graze in a meadow in order to eat. 

I thank my parents for their decision to stand by me and make me get through it. There was no easy way out and they did what they could for me (again, mom, the damn matching Hawaiian skort set? Really?) Now I'm sure you are all (well, all 2 of you) reading this and thinking--- "Hey drama queen, it wasn't that bad." Oh my friends. I'm not embarrassed to provide evidentiary support. Below you will find photos. If I had some with the headgear I'd have posted those as well. Or with the glasses but I was bad about wearing them (hence walking into walls all the time). My prized possession, the photo with Bryan White, was the epitome of my early teens. And I thought I looked so goooood. I took jeans tucked into sneakers to a whole new level.

Change the bullies... don't change your kids. Let them grow into who they are going to be. Don't let them get to the level of despair where they can't see a way out (obviously I'm not advocating ignorance here) but a $40,000 surgery on a 14 year old? Epic parenting and physician fail. But please promise me that if your 300 pound 16 year old tells you she wants to cut off all her hair... intervene. Nothing good comes from that.

Everyone will grow up to be who they are supposed to be and look like they are supposed to look. And the bullies? They'll grow up to be miserable, jobless, wash-up, has-been's that revel in the years they "peaked" in coolness- on the playground in 4th grade and on the junior high football team. The bullied kid will look at them all and say... "how do you like me now?"

And then your child, seen here with bacon, turns into a vegetarian.

Crimping your hair? Everyone else was doing it. 

Thank you Timothy Patchowski for the short bob. And yeah, I rock the one piece jumper.

It took me days to pick out this outfit. Awkward 13 year old? Says who... 
Really... an intervention would have been appreciated here. 

And by the way... I remember who you were that picked on me. I will never forget your names or your faces. And I will always think fondly of you as I look back at my youth. You're usually being hit by a bus when these fond memories arise, but I still thank you for making me the person I am today. And for teaching me that people truly can suck at life- they're called bullies.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

You Say "NO" to Drugs... Not Toppings.

So that dreaded moment has arrived when I decide: I'm going to go on my first date since the epic breakup 4 months ago with Mr. Big. (Why do I still refer to him as Mr. Big you ask? Because if I use his real name, even though the secret is out of the bag as to who he is, I may punch the computer screen. And I'm too poor to replace that. So hence, "Mr. Big.") 

I'm a simple girl, looking for a simple guy. I don't want a lot of drama. I don't want someone who gets a manicure or carries a man purse. I also don't want someone who is missing most of their teeth and thinks a trip to the Piggly Wiggly for pickled pig hooves is a date. I want someone who loves country music, long drives through the country, has an education, enjoys baseball, is Irish, has a southern accent, perhaps has a Ronald Reagan photo framed in his office, and believes World War II documentaries are fabulous entertainment as well as Monster's Inc.. See, that's not too much to ask for right? I'm not picky. My friend argues the contrary though. She says, "Kristen, if they don't like country music it's not that big of a deal." Really? In comparison, given my job and my passion, that is the equivalent of an emergency room doctor dating someone who doesn't believe in modern medicine. Just saying.

So I find someone to go on my first date with. We will call him Michael. Why? Because that's his real name. Why else? So because I'm looking for a southern country boy I decide to go on a date with an Italian guy from Brooklyn. Makes sense, right? He seemed like a decent guy. The New York thing threw me for a loop but perhaps we are creatures of habit and we go where we feel most comfortable. Perhaps I resorted back to "little Kristen" and wanted a little New York back in my life. Unfortunately, I think my mind was looking for pizza and cannellonis, not an Italian Brooklyn guy.

Our first date was at a frozen yogurt place in the afternoon. My favorite place too. They have a lot of flavors and a toppings bar that will make you physically have to wipe up drool. Do you want Cinnamon Toast Crunch on your cake batter yogurt with a side of cheesecake chunks and sprinkles with a swirl (or six) or whipped cream? You do. Well, then we've got something in common. But this visit to the happy fro-yo paradise was different. My "date" went straight for the vanilla lever- never once taking the time to look at the other flavors in the beautiful dispensers. And then, much to my horror, he walked right past the toppings bar. He didn't even blink.

Now, let me say this once and for all. I skipped breakfast for that damn toppings bar. I was ready for my "Kristen Concoction." I politely asked, "Did you see all these toppings here? Are you going to just have it plain [you psycho mutant freak]?" He responded, "Have you ever just had yogurt without messing it up with toppings and extra calories?" WHAT?!? Have I WHAT?!? You don't simply "mess yogurt up" with toppings. You make something beautiful. You make a masterpiece. You make something that warms your heart and reminds you that God actually does exist. I knew if I put my toppings inside my bowl he would find the nearest "Over-Eaters Anonymous" meeting for me and our date would be over. So I threw one strawberry in the bowl, and whispered to the other toppings that I loved them, it was nothing personal and I would be back for them later. I then went up to the counter where Sargent Vanilla was paying for our order (perhaps with a pout).

I should have walked away then. I should have just seen that the guy had gotten a bowl of plain vanilla frozen yogurt and was satisfied. What did that say about him exactly? What did that say about the guy I had chosen to go on a date with? Frankly, no New Yorker in general would pass up a freakin' sprinkle, so who is this guy and what does he want with me? I started to worry a little bit. He was shifty obviously and without a doubt, I could not trust him. I don't trust people who don't believe in sugar.

My fear of being murdered on a first date goes back many, many years. That's why I always leave a note for the cops to find should I disappear. I leave some of my hair for DNA. I had impressions made of my teeth for dental identification. And I leave a little extra cat food out just in case. As I sat across the table listening to a man go on and on about his love for break dancing (yep, I know how to pick them), I started thinking about that note on the counter. Did I describe my outfit enough? Should I bite this guy's arm so that my teeth impressions are there? Should I pull out pieces of my hair and throw them on him so that my DNA is there too? The moral of the story is simple: if a man can pass up a toppings bar, he can't be trusted and is capable of anything. I've watched "Dates From Hell." This was one of them. When the date was over and I had practically lied about everything I did for living, where I lived, and who I am in general, I walked to my car knowing I had dodged a bullet (or some other form of an untimely death at the hands of Mr. No-Toppings).

So, as if my list of "must haves" for a man isn't long enough, let's add: Must Love Sugar. Any man that does not, in my opinion, is twisted and capable of just about anything. If they can pass up Fruity Pebbles on Cake Batter ice cream, they can make your skin into a suit. I'm just throwing that out there.

Bring on contestant Number 2 please. And he better have a freaking cavity... or two.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fat Bottom Girls... Relative?

The girl on your left? FAT. The girl on your right? FAT.

Today, according to "SkinnyGossip" (simply put- a site by a cacomorphic girl with way too much time on her hands), Kate Upton is fat. The article states that Upton has: “Huge thighs, NO waist, big fat floppy boobs, terrible body definition — she looks like a squishy brick. Is this what American women are "striving" for now? The lazy, lardy look? Have we really gotten so fat in this country that Kate is the best we can aim for? Sorry, but: eww!” 

Why yes kids, this is the same Upton that was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. The same Upton that has been in Vogue and the face of Guess. I bet you didn't know that when you picked up the swimsuit issue of SI that you were actually looking at the "plus-sized edition" did you? Above you will see a photo of Ms. Upton. She's the one in the green bikini. Please, despite what you have read about her appearance, do not confuse her with the other woman. She is NOT the girl on the right who is striking the same pose. It's hard to tell the difference- I know. But the one on the right is Suzanne Eman. And like all women in America, Eman has a dream to finally make her body what she wants it to be. To look the way she thinks she should look.

Eman is trying to win the title of the Guiness Book of World Record's "Fattest Woman." (In her defense, I am a firm supporter of women with goals and aspirations. This one is just a little odd to me as I try to go the opposite direction on the scale every waking minute of the day.) At 728 pounds, 32-year old Eman is not impressed. She wants to weigh an even ton.  If you do the math, that means that she is trying to gain 1600 pounds. Well hell, here I was complaining about needing to lose 100 pounds. I thought I had it rough. I read what her daily caloric intake consists of... let's just say the words "pan of ___" and "bags of ____" were used. If you must see for yourself, (she did have a salad... I will give her that!)

So what is the point of this article you ask? Well, I'm pretty sure you may ask that every time you read this thing. Here's the deal. You have Upton who is a healthy weight, exercises, models, and isn't about to die of a massive coronary in the next 15 minutes. Then you have Eman who is literally killing herself to be the heaviest woman in the world. One woman is unjustly being labeled as "fat" while another is going out of her way to earn the title. And then some.

There has always been a concerted societal effort to regulate a woman's appearance and specifically, her weight. Little girls are taught from a young age they need to look a certain way, talk a certain way, dress a certain way, act a certain way and BE a certain way. Unattainable, photoshopped models are shoved down the throats of girls all over this country. While the images are shoved down, food doesn't have a chance to enter the equation. Girls today are plagued with eating disorders and distorted body images. And why? Because they are told that women who are healthy and happy... Are Fat. They are lied to. They are deceived. And they continue the cycle for the next generation in line. The days of Twiggy and Brooke Shields are long gone. Emaciation and depression are all that lie ahead of us now.

Not a day goes by that I don't struggle with my weight. Am I trying to gain 1600 pounds? Not intentionally. Am I going to be on the cover of Sports Illustrated? Not in this lifetime. But trying to find a balance between fat and skinny; obese and thin; "squishy brick" and "brick...HOUSE"- it shouldn't be so hard. I think I need to figure out a way to get the Skinny Gossip blogger alone in a room for 10 minutes. With me. Her "starvation tip for the day" better be one that helps her take on a 5'3" plus size Irish girl with a Yankee temper. Her hatred for fat people and personal insecurities will only add to her weakness against me.

I'm not Upton. I'm not Eman. I'm Kristen. Did I sit and eat a bag of trailmix while writing this? You bet your ass I did. Do I hate myself for it? Not on your life. I'm single... and I'm hoping that there is a man out there who looks past what society labels "fat" and "thin" because the line is growing increasingly blurred and out of focus. I have a Masters Degree and a million dollar smile (literally, the orthodontist now owns 4 houses thanks to these chompers). And I wake up every day knowing that someone will find flaws with me no matter what. And you know what? You can be a SI model and be accused of being fat... or you can spend your life trying to be fattest you can be. At the end of the day- you can't please them all.  

This trail mix on the other hand... :) 

Friday, July 6, 2012

10 things I learned while being 27:

10) The person you were in high school is not the person you will be when you are a “grown-up.” The 10 years that pass from wearing that cap and gown to your 10 year reunion are filled with lessons that could never have been taught in a classroom. It’s called LIFE and that is what makes you who you are. (By the way, you’ll never fit into American Eagle again, so throw that whole “I’m the same as I was in high school” idea out the window.)

9) That no matter how far away you are from home, a piece of you is still there. In a time of tragedy you are a part of that community and you feel the pain that they feel. Our time here on Earth is precious and short. Love those around you and make sure that they know they are loved. Follow your gut in any situation and if something doesn’t feel right, then it probably isn’t. Treat others as you would want to be treated. Love those who need it the most. And know that “Love Wins.” Thank you for that very important lesson Melissa… I will never forget it.

8)  Miles and time zones can separate you from your best friends but with one laugh and one hug you pick up right where you left off. 1.5 years of not being together in the same room and we never skipped a beat. Boys have come into our lives and hearts have been broken. Dreams have come true and some have been let go of. But no matter what- we’re always the Brunettes and a reunion of the four of us is just a beautiful disaster.

7) If you think you’re being lied to you… you probably are. Let those who you don’t love go and let those who break your heart go as well. Hopefully the door will hit them on the way out but know that the door won’t open again. No matter how much you loved him, how much he was a part of your life or how happy you thought he made you: let him go. Any man that breaks your heart isn’t worth a moment of your time. It leads to the more exciting prospect that you haven’t met “the one” yet and he is still out there. Now the map to finding him would be a bit helpful in this case…

6)  I can finish grad school. Every time I called my parents in tears saying, “This is too much. I can’t do this. There just isn’t enough time. I’m not like the other students and it’s just too hard” was just fuel in the fire. Hearing the words, “I can’t” come out of my mouth and then hearing the words “You can’t” come of the mouths of others was all it took. If you want something bad enough go get it. Don’t let what you think “makes you different” hold you back. Work harder. Stand taller. And get it done. No questions or debate.

5) Volunteering is my passion. I never really thought I would find so much joy in helping others but apparently I found one of the little pieces that was missing inside me. Sleepless nights, chaotic fires, comforting broken hearts while standing in the rubble of what was once a community, and handing a little girl a Red Cross teddy bear which she clings to because she has nothing left to hold onto except hope… those are the moments that shape my soul.

4)  That old song “Make new friends but keep the old” is a little skewed. I have been blessed to have made some incredible friends this past year and to watch some friendships develop into something truly beautiful. Surrounding myself with those who bring positivity to my life meant saying goodbye to some friends from the past. But sometimes in order to move forward you have to stop looking back. And sometimes old neighbors can be replaced with new ones- even ones you meet knee high in mud and wearing a mask at one of the scariest moments of your life.

3)  The scale is not your friend. Now I learned this lesson years ago but my preoccupation with losing weight this past year showed me that what really matters is not the number I see (Lord knows it’s never what I want to see) but it’s how I feel. It’s taking the time to look in the mirror and compliment myself that matters the most. It’s giving it my all (and then some) and living with no regrets. If I do my best and come in last in the 5K- at least I did the 5K (even better if paramedics aren’t called). If I slip and fall off the “wagon” by eating a bowl of funfetti batter- I’m not a bad person. I’m human. And I have a lot of people who love me… love handles and all.

2) Healing is never a completed process but there comes a time when you can face your fears headfirst and say: “I’m not afraid of you anymore.” My trip to New York for the 10th Anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center was a trip that I truly thought I would be too scared to take. With my Dad on my right and my Mom on my left I stood in front of those beautiful waterfall footprints- my feet planted firmly on hallowed ground. I ran my hand over their names and took my time to reflect. Precious moments to surround myself with the beauty of the area around me- no longer filled with billowing smoke and destruction. All the while the Island was slowly flooding. It was as if those above knew, “If you’re going to face this fear, you might as well face them all.” And I did. And my gratitude for my parents for walking me through the gates to that sacred place can never be truly expressed to the fullest.  

1)  I’ve made it almost 10 years living on my own in Nashville. From that teenager who hung out for hours in a horse farm hayloft in Peacham, Vermont listening to country music and dreaming of Nashville to that 28 year old sitting in her office at the Grand Ole Opry... Things have changed. I live in a tiny apartment, I can barely pay the bills and I truly believe peanut butter and jelly is an acceptable meal… but in the end I “made it.” I’m calling Nashville home and watching my dreams come true more and more. In the words of the Sara Evans song I wore out years ago on those bales of hay, I was “born to fly.”

Now... what to call the blog since "27 and Perhaps a Little Crazy" is outdated. :) 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Top 9 Reasons Why Being Single is Fabulous…

The Top 9 Reasons Why Being Single is Fabulous…

The Middle of the Bed- It’s a place where comfort resides, his snoring is absent and the risk of rolling over and falling off at either end is non-existent.

Beer. There is no one to count the number of beers you drank. And with that, I don’t have to hear him say, “Did you leave me any?” Why ask that when you already know the answer?

Movies. Do I know every word to Coal Miner’s Daughter? Why, yes, I do. Can I sing every single lyric in Urban Cowboy? You betcha. Do I cry at Steel Magnolias, Pearl Harbor, Hope Floats and Beauty & the Beast even though I know how they end? Yep. Do I rant and rave about the role of women during World War II and the inequitable paradigm shift from self-sufficiency to domesticity at the hands of the American government’s propaganda scheme during A League of their Own? Who wouldn’t? Let me watch my movies in peace without hearing a boy say, “Are you going to say everything at the same time they do?” or “Can we just watch the movie?” The last time I checked, you had a place that was called “your” apartment- try it on for size.

The Rodeo. I can watch it and while shouting out the score “I think” he got given his time and form, I can also yell out comments such as “I’m adding 1.3 points for the Wranglers!” and not hear “What if I wore Wranglers?” Um, are you on a bull? No, you’re on my couch. Shut your face.

The Repeat Button the i-pod. That moment when you hear a song and realize, “Wow, I want to hear that another 53 times in a row.” He is not there to say, “I’m tired of Keith Whitley right now, can you turn that down?” And I don’t have to deal with the consequences of saying, “I’m kind of tired of hearing your voice and seeing your face, but did I say anything?”

Baseball Season. Don’t talk to me during a game. I don’t want to discuss your day at work or what your mom said to your aunt about your second cousin twice removed. I don’t want to hear about your plans for the weekend or the cute little bistro you think we should try. For 9 nine innings I can yell, scream, curse, clap, happy-dance, and make inappropriate comments about a Short-Stop without having to hear any other noise. Bliss.

Fine Dining. What’s for dinner? Whatever. I. Want. Easy Mac with a Ringpop? Why not? Cereal straight from the box without a spoon? Who is going to say anything? Sitting on top of the kitchen counter verbally reasoning with myself that Skittles count as “fruit” and therefore are a complete meal? Absolutely. It’s my food pyramid and I don’t have to conform to the so-called “eating habits” of another human being.

Framed Photographs. A photo of the Core Four holding the 2009 World Series Trophy. An 8x10 glossy of Chris Young personally signed. A photo of Jason Aldean in his cowboy hat and button down shirt. The Brunettes. The Opry Stage. These are all things that I enjoy having framed in my apartment. I do not enjoy hearing, “Let’s take more pictures of us so we can put them on your nightstand, desk and bookshelf.” Again, don’t you have your own home you can decorate Martha?

Showering. Simply put, I can shut the door to the bathroom. I can put on Chris Young’s “Gettin’ You Home” very loudly. And then I can close my eyes and pretend that this is what is ACTUALLY occurring outside the door while I get ready. J

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Let’s Get Right to the Point Here…

Every morning news show, night time news program and shows like 20/20 are highlighting it. Lady Gaga (who still frightens me) advocates against it and I think the Beibs may have started some kind of petition. Nevertheless, Bullying has gotten more attention in the past year than I have ever seen before. And with the release of the new movie, aptly titled, Bullying, I think it’s about time a little insight into this behavior is given.

First and foremost: I have zero tolerance for bullying. None what so ever. I truly believe that if you are a bully that there is something psychologically wrong with you. To feel you need to inflict pain on someone else just to garner attention and enjoyment is not “child’s play”- it’s abuse. Note to the wise, find a hobby, get on some meds, talk to a guidance counselor, tell Mommy and Daddy to love you just a little bit more but don’t torment someone else. Whatever the reason behind your behavior- fix it. If not, someone will fix it for you.

Secondly: Yes, I was the victim of bullying from pre-school until high school. I may “forgive” those who bullied me but I will never “forget” them.

I couldn’t stand at the bus stop by myself and had to wait in the driveway with my Dad until we saw the bus coming and then I would run as fast as possible to just get into one of the seats and open a book. There were several times that I remember my Dad following in his car behind the bus because the bus driver actually found it funny when they would start taunting me. In grade school, I was tormented because of my teeth, my weight, my grades, that damn cartoon that came out called “Bucky O’Hare” (which I am still planning on suing the makers of), and my clothes. Going to the principle was useless because it was her daughter who was the main culprit. I would cry myself to sleep. My parents were extremely close to pulling me out of school and attempting to home school despite the fact that both of them worked more than 40 hours a week.

Starting in pre-school, I can vividly remember this kid taunting a little girl with glasses and an eye patch. He tormented her. He made fun of me too but I was so upset at the way he treated her. So one day, in the play kitchen, I took a frying pan and hit him across the back of the head with it. Of course I got in trouble, but I think I was clear in my intentions and reasoning. In 2nd grade I had beautiful long brown hair. My mom would brush it and restyle it in true New York fashion after every ride down the slide. I sat in front of Timothy Pachowski in Mrs. Lambert’s class (Yes, Pachowski- I remember your name and I will find you too). One day, he put a wad of gum in the back of my hair right at the bottom of my neck. My mom sobbed as they cut inches and inches off of my head. I just sat there knowing that the bob haircut I would have come morning would be the next thing they could laugh at. And I had Timothy in my crosshairs. Unfortunately, I no longer had the opportunity to solve my problems with a play kitchen frying pan…

I was tripped in the hallways. I was poked. I was pushed. I was cheated off of. I was spit on. I was mocked every time I walked to the blackboard. I would eat my lunch most of the time solo or at the teacher’s table because I knew the minute I put any kind of food in my mouth kids would say something. In 6th grade I sent out invitations to a birthday party and no one rsvp’d. My parents were faced with the heartbreaking dilemma of what to do for their daughter’s birthday. I treated others as I wanted to be treated. I excelled in my classes. I tried to be involved in outside activities but I was “different.” I spoke the same language. I lived in the same town. But I was the center of everyone’s entertainment… and although I wanted to physically fight back, I learned to use my sarcasm and intelligence to defend myself. While not always successful, at least I made the effort, right?

I turned to country music and books as my distraction from everyone around me. I stayed loud and used my humor as a defense mechanism from those who tortured me continuously but inside I was broken. I didn’t let them see it, but it was obvious I’m sure. A kid can only take so much.

After entering high school, my freshman and sophomore year were plagued with comments such as “fat ass” and “lard ass” and whatever other comment you could make to an almost 300 pound 16 year old. It wasn’t until my junior year, when my friends showed me how to use the machines in the gym that I started to lose weight. By senior year I had lost enough weight to finally “be worthy” of the attention of the popular kids. I did have amazing friends who supported me, but there were those kids who knew just what button to push, what to say, how to say it and who to say it in front of.

Today, as I sit here, I am almost 28 years old. I no longer have to worry about what I will face during the day or live in fear of other kids. I dare someone to make a comment to me about anything because I have learned to love myself, my flaws and most importantly, I found a little thing called confidence. I also have the ability to defend myself through maturity and education. And one day, when given the opportunity, I would love to sit down with every person who ever looked down upon me and just say, “How do you like me now?” (Of course, Toby would be playing in the background and I may have some back up dancers to punctuate the point, but still, the message will be sent).

I have made it a goal of mine to teach any kid that I babysit the importance of befriending that classmate that doesn’t have anyone to play with on the playground. That being their friend is more important and more special than being “popular.” That title of “popular” is short lived and anti-climatic. Befriending the bullied kid will lead you to a more fulfilling life while the bullies will spend their adulthood holding onto that beloved letterman jacket and reliving that Friday night touchdown that brought them 2 games closer to the state championship. Yet no one remembers their name… Or really cares.

I didn’t write all of this for sympathy or pity or even judgment. I wrote this for two reasons.

1) Highlight bullying and what effect it has on kids. It’s not a “phase” or “child’s play.” It’s abuse and it has to stop immediately. Stand up for those who are constantly beaten down. There is no reason not to. Teach your kids the importance of not just being “kind” to another person but understanding tolerance, acceptance and that they aren’t all that perfect themselves. (Timothy Pachowski- your ears were larger than your head and you chewed your pen until your lips were blue. Did I say anything? Nope.)

2) To show that kids who spend their life being bullied do not always turn into Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold. They don’t live in their parent’s basement and hide from the world. With the love and respect from their family and a few friends, they learn to love themselves. They take all of those years of ridicule, cruelty, exploitation, manipulation, and being laughed at and they turn it into motivation- Motivation to make something of themselves. To prove those kids wrong. And to say to them: “Look who’s laughing now.”

Talk to your children. Keep an eye on their behavior. Give them the love and support that they need. Stand up for one another. Give a voice to those who don’t have one. Protect those who can’t protect themselves. And for God’s sake- respect yourself enough not to hurt another person for your own enjoyment. Look in the mirror and see if that person looking back at you is someone you can be proud of…

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Noah and his Ark: We Were Screwed From Day 1

As a child, my biggest issues with CCD (Sunday School for those below the Mason Dixon), were the stories in the Bible that made NO LOGICAL SENSE. I always had questions and I always demanded answers: "How come Jonah didn't die from the acid in the whale's stomach? Can God make a rock too big for him to lift? Why does the woman have to be the rib, and of course, be the one to mess everything up with an apple? And how did Noah get all those animals to come two by two- even beavers? There are no beavers in the Middle East!" (These sessions always resulted in "we will talk with your parents after class"... Lovely there goes TGIF for a month).

But as I think back to those days of questions, the Noah one sticks out. This is not because I am currently inundated (no pun intended) with flood history for my thesis but because I swear that everywhere I look, everything is in two. If it's not a "buy one, get one free" bagel sale at Kroger, it's my creepy neighbor with twin poodle-looking dogs in jackets on leashes, or even my cats book-ending me on the couch as I write this. Everything is in "two." And that does not eliminate the obvious: people. As humans, we are drawn to others. Unless you suffer from some rare body odor, herpes, a skin condition, or a general hatred for other 2-legged mammals, you're drawn to someone else. We are always seeking the companionship of another. I think this principle was set up by Noah- every one must come two by two in order to survive. But what if you are someone who decided to put on the life vest, grab a sandbag, and tell Noah- I'm not coming. Divide everyone else up. Leave me here with Lisa Patton's Storm Tracker radar. I'm good.

First off, I'm pretty sure that my Mother is already reaching for the phone as she reads this for an intervention, horrified that I could harbor that kind of thought. She has images of me having multiple cats, collecting newspapers, watching the Price is Right in the morning in a moo-moo with my martini in a Maxine Cartoon mug. I like to throw in "The Villages" as my home and I think I'm living the dream. Nevertheless, you don't hear people saying "I want to be alone. I don't want a partner. The buddy system isn't for me." But there are those, like me, who think sometimes the "Noah Theory" is pushed just a bit too hard on 20-something year old women. (Ok, almost 30 but don't remind me).

There are some things that I just don't think Noah's "theory" would support:

- I wear a mouth guard when I sleep. I also wear those little dots of Proactive on my face at night with a big "Mulan-style" bun on the top of my head. If an intruder were to break into my apartment at night with the intent of attacking me, he'd take one look, say, "Yeah, um, sorry about that" and walk out the same door he just smashed through.

- I have never been able to, am not able to, and never will be able to wear a white shirt. Not that it's physically impossible or that I don't look good in one (obviously I do) but I won't even leave the house before there is toothpaste or coffee on that thing. If I make it to lunch? You can forget it. But that's me. I spill things- a lot of things. And they always wind up right on that white shirt for all to see (and lovingly judge). Or as cream cheese smears on my steering wheel.

- I use WebMD as my own personal source of medicinal advice. If it says I have prostate cancer, than I do. I'm a hypochondriac. Or at least I think I am. I don't know, maybe I just have a brain tumor or something that makes me think I'm a hypochondriac.

- I dance around my apartment in my pajamas to my favorite songs. I can't cook and use the stove for storage. I listen to my music way too loud and don't care. I think sugar is the base of the food pyramid. I've been known to bite people who try to wake me up. I drink too much. I curse too much. I'm easily bored. I'm consistently picky and rather hard to please.

I'm not gonna make the ark. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not in the next year or so. Because I'm not ready to board it just yet. I want to wear my Proactive dots (that will obviously give me a rare form of skin disease according to WebMD) with my messy hair, standing in a kitchen where nothing is cooking, listening to really loud music, looking at my reflection and seeing a stain in the middle of a white shirt. I'm not ready to give that up yet.

The ark looks safe, warm, and inviting. But with a little life vest (perhaps also known friends and new shoes?) and a few sandbags to hold you down (a dream job? a little Nashville apartment?), the water isn't that bad either.

Catch me on the next go around Noah.

(And is it just me or do people ALWAYS get sick on ships? Always! I'm not going near that thing. You put animals and humans and everything else on a ship for 40 days and 40 nights and someone's spreading something. I'll take my chances in the water. Swine, SARS, Avian- whatever. Let them have it and share it in their sets of "two.")