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0 Shades of Grey

7 Feb

When I was growing up, my biggest fear was that I would “go crazy” like my aunt, my dad’s sister. I remember hearing that she was schizophrenic which I mistakenly thought meant she had multiple personalities, I knew that she, like my dad, had grown up in an abusive household, my dad had his own demons but he was not abusive. I thought mental illness meant, a lifetime of mental institutions, shock treatments, and existing as little more than a burden to my family.When I reached adulthood without an actual  mental diagnosis, I thought, suck that childhood fears, I’ve got  this in the bag, I’m not crazy. I made it.( In my mind, either I was mentally ill and would live in the darkness or I wasn’t and would live in the light, there was no grey) In mid 2015, I sank to the depths of depression like I never had before, I was contemplating suicide to the point of having a plan. I felt totally overwhelmed by every aspect of my life and I felt like an absolute failure as a mom, as a daughter, as a sister, as a friend and as a human being.  I went to the local psychiatric hospital and told them what I was thinking, during the intake, I thought, this is it, I’ve finally gone crazy, I brought  this on myself, that whole that which you fear the most comes true thing. I deserved this. My life is over, I should just leave and kill myself. Before I had a chance to leave, and while I still had my phone, I sent a couple of texts to people to tell them I would be out of the fray for a few days. They all encouraged me to stay and get help. So I checked myself in and I started inpatient therapy right away. I spoke with several psychiatrists and they started me on Lamictal, a drug used to treat bipolar disorder and within hours, I started to feel shades of grey forming, usually grey is a color associated with dreary or bad things, this time it was a good thing,

I started to feel like, okay, I’m mentally ill, I can learn to live with this, After I was released from the facility, I went to see a therapist and had a group session with several other patients who were in the facility at the same time I was. During the session I told one of the other patients (because I know so much and need to speak instead of the therapist) that he was seeing things very black and white and missing all the shades of grey in the middle. A week later in my individual therapy session, my therapist brought that conversation back up and told me to apply it to a situation I was relaying to her. I was saying that people were either ” all in” or they weren’t  and if they weren’t it was my fault that they weren’t because  I wasn’t good enough or pretty enough and this caused me extreme anxiety, this never being enough thing, but if they were “all in” that wasn’t because of me either, it was because of timing or their own shortcomings, I set myself up in a game I absolutely could not win and I was hurting myself because of it. Once I started to embrace the grey in the middle, that I could be liked because I am wonderful and I am myself,  but they might still not be “all in” and that’s okay.  I abhor when people discuss someone like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and in the middle of talking about all the good things he did, someone chimes in with “but he cheated on his wife”, as if that is first of all our business (unless Coretta Scott King is reading this, it is no business of ours)second of all, like that cancels out all the amazing things he did. I can very clearly see shades of grey when dealing with anybody but myself.  I used big broad strokes to paint myself as a “bad” person. Not as a person who had made some mistakes.

Being comfortable in the grey doesn’t mean being a doormat or being wishy washy, it means seeing the nuances, and listening to and trusting your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, black , white, grey, charcoal, ebony, or eggshell, get out of the situation and don’t feel bad about it

I am mentally ill and to say that doesn’t throw me into an abyss anymore, I have anxiety, I have a lot of coping mechanisms, I will always be a work in progress, I will always need medication and therapy to keep my head above the water and when I visualize myself taking a deep breath in, I still see all the colors of the rainbow but I appreciate the beauty of all the greys.

grey

Middle-aged Woman; Interrupted

18 Oct

you-are-not-your-mental-illness

Most, if not all, of my knowledge of bipolar disorder comes from movies and TV shows, namely, A TV show I watched last year called Black Box, Apparently I’m the only person who watched it because it is no longer on, probably took it off to make room for Snorkeling With the Stars, or some such nonsense, anyway this is not about my disdain for reality television shows, this is about my shocking lack of actual knowledge that was not obtained through television shows and/or movies. In the show ( If you didn’t click the link above, you should) because I’m not going to outline the whole show, just my thoughts on the show and what I gleaned about being bipolar from watching the show. My thoughts were that sure her highs were high and her lows were devastating, but if she didn’t stay on her meds, which she didn’t want to because she felt like they dulled her personality, she got to make out with super hot doctors during her manic highs, and she felt very sexy and fearless ( this didn’t seem so bad to me) this is the only thing I thought bipolar disorder was, they showed a little of the lows, but she lived through them and I was no stranger to depression, especially post- stroke,As I say in my set I got through it with a handful of benzos and a fistful of lunchmeat and the movie Pacific Rim on repeat, I didn’t realize how low a manic low could be, I also learned about bipolar disorder by watching the movie The Silver Linings Playbook, I even wrote a blog post about my love for that movie and the foresight in that post is insane. This is all leading up to my own recent diagnosis of bipolar 2 disorder, rapid onset,which I never knew even existed.

This past week. I was laid off from a job it had taken months to find, I had the job for two months and I liked it, and was feeling like I was getting my mojo back as far as comedy and being a decent, present mom again, my personal, dating life was non-existent but I had gotten so used to that it was a non-issue. that lay off, and some other things I over thought to the point of constant anxiety, both of which should have been small blips on the radar of my life, turned into reasons to actually plan ending my life. I Googled all of the pills I had in my house and according to Yahoo answers,even my pills were failures and I didn’t have enough of what I needed to actually do me in, and I had no money to go buy sleeping pills and I didn’t want my children to find my body (somehow this was worse in my mind than them not having a mom at all for the rest of their lives). I thought I could go out in my neighborhood, maybe my neighbor’s yard and die there (that’ll teach you to steal my fucking lemons from the lemon tree in my yard) but then the thought of being peed on by dogs, grossed me out and I decided then that I needed to not be alone so I called my friend Cara and she came over bearing ice cream for me and alcohol for her, I told her of all my plans and said I would call my psychologist tomorrow but if I was honest they would commit me for having a plan. Tomorrow came and I called and he said “skip coming here at all go right to the Psychiatric Hospital” and I did and they asked me to voluntarily sign in which I decided to do, the psych hospital happens to be connected to the rehab hospital where I spent several weeks right after my stroke, I bring this up because the first day I was there the tech from the rehab side who had tested my INR (coumadin level), came to test my INR on the psych side, he said ” so how have you been?” and I said “I’m in a psych hospital, so what do you think?” he said “there’s no shame in that your life has gone through a major strain just after the stroke alone, whatever brought you here means you were living it and that’s a good thing” ” living it as an absolute failure” then I had to go in for an initial evaluation with the staff psychologists. Immediately I started to cry as they asked me about my past, especially careless and impulsive actions with no thoughts of consequences….umm…that’s kind of been my “thing” my whole life, I fly by the seat of my pants, it’s part of being creative, right? I won’t go into detail but I’m very lucky I didn’t end up a Lifetime movie of the week, they asked about manic episodes of staying up all night with scattered thoughts, that’s creativity too, right? I would do that and write(some people clean) not this girl, sadly. those things coupled with my extreme depression and suicidal thoughts over admittedly minor things, and my super high score on the depression test detailing my feelings of being a worthless failure and awful person in general, the doctors mentioned bipolar 2 as a diagnosis, but didn’t officially give me that diagnosis that day but many days after several more meetings with psychologists and group therapy sessions, and mentioned starting me on a mood stabilizer called Lamictal and staying at the hospital for a few days, by this time I resigned myself to it and said sure, I walked into the common room with all the other patients and was struck by the range of ages, Living in a college town, I was expecting mostly college age people but this mental health shit didn’t discriminate, there were college aged people all the way up to a 90-year-old. I plopped down in a huge blue chair and sat there so much, they started referring to it as “Amy’s chair”, I quickly learned that this was very different from the rehab side, and almost the exact opposite in the sense that we were constantly busy with therapies over there to the point of exhaustion, here we had  group, psychologist meetings, and food every two hours and a library cart where I chose a novel called “Catching Genius” that I read in one day. I looked around that first day and couldn’t find a thing that I could use to kill myself (which I’m sure is by design), but we did have DVD’s in the common room and I thought I could break one of those and slice open my wrist if I needed to but I wanted the movie to be something funny, like Die Hard, death by Die Hard struck me as amusing,Luckily we didn’t have the movie Die Hard, I got my first dose of Lamictal and within hours I was feeling a bit better, I was on suicide watch still so every 15 minutes, I had to talk to a nurse and tell them how I was feeling, I guess I wasn’t progressing as fast as they wanted so they raised my dosage. Quickly, we became comrades in this place together, some like me were there voluntarily, but most had been baker acted and were planning to make things as difficult as possible for not only the staff but themselves. One night there was a coup over the tv and one of the patients who referred to himself as “the court jester” took a vote (written on the back of a coloring sheet written in crayon) but he soon found that the techs intervened after he got unruly because he wanted to watch football and when he couldn’t he wrote 1-900- abuse (in crayon again) and slipped it under the door to the always locked nurses station. they did not find that amusing in the least. It was 8:30 but I went to bed at this time. I heard the next morning over breakfast that “the court jester” had a full-blown fit and called his mom and a lawyer. he was mad at all of us for several days. After I finished my book I passed the time playing cards and coloring, I colored a Halloween picture of a minion that said ” Going Batty”, I found that delightful but this just cemented my knowledge that I am a horrible artist.There weren’t many DVD’s or tapes to watch but there was the Blue Collar Comedy Tour but I made it clear that if forced to watch that I would become homicidal (I chose my words carefully because had I said suicidal, I wouldn’t have been out in 3 days, they would have made me stay longer) There were some beautiful things to be found in this harsh environment, however, we were allowed to go outside in the courtyard if accompanied by a staff member, someone had written in chalk “not all those who wander are lost”by J.R.R. Tolkien, one of my dear late friend Brett’s favorite authors, someone also drew a kick-ass picture of a giraffe that made me happy. In group we had to write a plan for our after care for trigger events to prevent a relapse or what to do if we do relapse. I realized while writing my plan that I have a HUGE support system in friends and family and I can live with this bipolar 2, and most importantly, I want to live. I’ll forever be under the care of psychologists, therapists, psychiatrists, but all of these people want me to succeed (whatever that looks like).

I think it’s extremely important to find what works for you, I’ve seen the meme about just taking a walk in the woods when you’re depressed and not needing to take any meds (brought to you by Tom Cruise I presume) I can tell you if I had taken a walk in the woods the day I checked in, I would have found the sharpest stick I could have and plunged it into my chest, pharmaceuticals and extensive therapy is what I needed. find what you need and if you are feeling worthless and un- loveable like I was, take a chance on yourself and get some help. Speak kindly to yourself, be your own advocate. You’re worth it and let’s lift the stigma surrounding mental illness, let’s talk about it.

1 (800) 273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week
Languages: English, Spanish

My New Normal

10 Mar

The last thing I want to do is whine, that’s not true, the last thing I want to do is any math whatsoever, I’m pretty okay with whining, I just don’t want to be PERCEIVED AS A WHINER. I just want to try to explain what my life is like now post-stroke. I can sum it up in one sentence, everything is difficult now, or more difficult.  I don’t just mean big things like getting up in the morning at 6:00 and taking the boys to school, I’ve never been a morning person, I don’t just mean typing with one hand, I mean taking a shower and drying my hair and putting on makeup and getting dressed, things that I would do without even giving it one thought before.You might be thinking ” so don’t dry your hair or put on makeup” to that I say, I am a southerrn woman, that is not an option, plus if I look decent I tend to feel a bit better and its not like I wear a lot of makeup but putting on mascara didn’t used to be a tiring thing, but, as the title says this is my new normal. The kind of tired I am is not the kind that a nap really helps, imagine studying for hours and your brain feeling scrambled and you’re impatient and snappy because you’re so damn tired then imagine that you wake up feeling like that even though you’ve gotten upwards of 10 hours of sleep.

 

I tried comedy for the first time since the stroke and I’m back to using notes and I’ve had to start all over again, I got through five minutes on stage but my delivery and timing was pretty awful but I got lots of laughs which is a huge compliment to my material being good and I know it is,but before I was up to doing feature sets, for 20 minutes with no notes, I have no idea how long until I am up to that level again, it might be years, but I’m not giving up  getting there and even going beyond. the thing that is the hardest for me is embracing that the person before has ceased to exist, she’s gone, and this tired barely made up robot-voiced weirdo is in her place.

 

All I’m saying is if I seem ‘off’ or over-emotional, give me a break, this is my new normal and I’m sincerely doing the best I can to accept it. and I’m tired and yes whiny. look,  here are pictures of me wearing pretty rented dresses.

 

dressgreyblack

Cautionary Tale

13 Feb

on October 26, 2014, my life changed in a way I truly never thought it would, I knew it COULD but like so many other carefree 44-year olds, I thought I was immortal.  I knew that I had health risks that made me more susceptible to having a stroke than most  other people and I also knew that I didn’t take care of myself the way I should have but this is all said in hindsight while I type with one hand because my left hand has not fully regained movement, especially fine motor skills. I had an Ischemic stroke which occurs as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. It accounts for 87 percent of all stroke cases.It affected the right side of my brain therefore the left side of my body, that’s the way it works, the side of your brain affected is opposite the side of your body affected. I never lost the ability to speak, and was walking within days in the ICU. my arm mobility was good as far as being able to move it up and down but my hand didn’t come back until December or so. The cause of my stroke was largely due to just not taking care of myself, I have to take medicine called Warfarin also known as Coumadin because I have a titanium heart valve and atrial fibrillation. because of this medication, I need to have regular blood tests to monitor the INR level in my blood. Coumadin is a very finicky drug and its affects can be lessened or heightened by the amount of Vitamin K ingested. Blood tests are required to determine if the correct INR level is being reached or if your diet and/or dosage of Coumadin should be adjusted. I stopped monitoring my Coumadin because it was nearly impossible to work full time, be a divorced mom and get blood tests regularly. 

Prothrombin time is measured in seconds. Most of the time, results are given as what is called INR (or international normalized ratio). If you are taking warfarin to prevent blood clots, your doctor will most likely choose to keep your INR between 2.0 and 3.0.

The night of my stroke was the Sunday before my very favorite holiday, Halloween. I felt totally normal, maybe a little spacey, maybe I was drooling a little bit, but I was able to walk around and sort of talk, my 13-year old was worried and called 911. luckily. He recognized the signs of stroke from a commercial.

STROKE

Suddenly 5 EMTs were in my house to take me to the ER, I was covered in glitter because I had been working on my sweet sweet mermaid costume for Halloween. I would have loved to see video of myself drooling, black t-shirt tied around wet hair. like a turban because I had just gotten out of the shower and I read that a shirt was better for your hair than a towel to dry it. I must have looked and seemed literally crazy because the EMTs asked me if I had anti-psych meds and asked my kids if I was always like this – um, nope only when  having a stroke. I got to the ER and went through all the tests there to confirm that I was having a stroke and they determined what kind  and gave me a drug they told me would break up the clot. so I spent a week in the hospital and then went on to spend 2 weeks in an inpatient rehab where I had extensive therapies, physical, occupational and speech.

I’ve been told I’m an inspiration, I have a joke in my set that starts, “being a divorced 40- something single mom  living in a college town, I have often thought of writing my memoirs titled “Cautionary Tale”, if I’m an inspiration at all be inspired to take care of yourself so you don’t end up having to be inspirational and you can just live your damn life as healthily and as  long as possible, I feel like a fraud because often the past several months all I’ve wanted to do is lie in bed and eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream but it wasn’t an option, my mom, sister and 200 other people including my two kids would never have let that go down.Be inspired by selfless people who do for others.

I have made enough mistakes to last a lifetime but I won’t beat myself up over this most recent one, anymore. I have learned from it and I am 22 lbs lighter since leaving rehab where I inexplicably managed to gain 4 lbs, while barely eating and exercising regularly.

My life will definitely be different from now on but different doesn’t automatically = terrible. I’m pretty excited about the changes, even though stroke is the number 1 cause of acquired disability in the country, I am not fully disabled, I am left with the deficits in my left hand and some cognitive issues, though when I told a close male friend that I am now extremely forgetful, cannot multi-task, and don’t have an attention to detail he told me he’s been like that his whole life, so yet another way I am stereo-typically male. I cannot return to work full-time but will be returning to work with children, on a part-time basis,  which is truly what made me the happiest in my professional life. I am taking the state mandated training online so when I am ready to find a job I shouldn’t have any problem. Its hard for me to buckle my belt which has become necessary because of the weight loss, so between my pants not staying up and the brain damage, I could have a new career in politics. I am seriously looking into designing an app for me and the other 3 million people on Coumadin, that tracks and logs vitamin K intake. My life is far from over so be inspired by that not my recovery because that was mostly luck and stubborness.

I haqve been writing and performing stand-up comedy for about a year, I have written material from this experience that I hope is funny,(some of which is in this post) I have no affect in my voice (meaning I sound pretty robotic) and my timing is terrible but my number one goal is  to get back up on stage.

Tomorrow is valentines day and I am valentine-less again this year but I have 3 gorgeous rented dresses hanging in my closet and tomorrow I will choose one and put it on and go to a fancy event called the Heart Ball where I am volunteering for the American Stroke Association and the past several months have shown me that I am absolutely surrounded by love every day of the year.

valentines day

Fight Like Hell, Baby Girl

13 Aug
Robin Williams

Robin Williams

 

I haven’t written anything on here in ages, and I apologize to my awesome readers for that. I have been writing, just comedy. I have been bitten in the ass by the comedy bug (yeah, sorry about that awful metaphor). When I’m not with my children, I’m either writing comedy, reading books about comedy, or performing comedy. I fell hard, and comedy, she is a cruel mistress (I’m sorry, it appears this post is going to be riddled with awful metaphors).

I have been fortunate in that I have surrounded myself with some amazing comedy mentors. I call the people (sometimes I refer to them as “kids” but not in a derogatory way, more in a I COULD BE THEIR MOM way, but we’ll stick with people) that I have gotten to know through workshops, open mics, actual gigs,  and Facebook posts, my comedy family, and they really are.  I have seen very little of the fabled cattiness that comedians can sometimes exhibit. I have found people who encourage me, nurture me, and have not ONCE made me feel like the oldest person in the room…and I am almost ALWAYS the oldest person in the room.

When Robin Williams took his own life, there was a collective gasp of disbelief across the internet. I, like many other people I imagine, first heard of his death on Facebook. I was actually practicing a set and was using my phone to record it. When I finished listening to myself, I clicked over to Facebook and was absolutely shocked at post after post proclaiming Robin Williams had died, apparent suicide. Immediately I got it.  I understood. I have always had a firm grasp on what drives my need to make others laugh. Classic case of chubby girl making the obvious joke before anybody else did. I have since embraced my body, but the need to make people laugh before they discover that I’m actually really boring, or stupid, or any number of other things that creep into my psyche on my darkest nights, lives on.

I’ve known days that were so dark it was almost impossible to see any light whatsoever. I felt like nothing would change. That this apathy was now my life. I would never feel any kind of joy, or even pain, nothing, ever again. Luckily, those days have numbered in the tens and I have an incredible support system in family and friends. I also sought therapy and was taking medication.

I don’t know if my depression was a case of nature or nurture, but I assume it was a mixture of both. I know my father, one of the funniest human beings ever to exist, fought his demons with all his might, and he battled them often.  I know if I could have chosen to NOT feel the way I was feeling, I would have chosen that. I also know if I had continued feeling the way I was for any length of time,  I would have felt like taking my own life was the lesser of two evils. I would have felt like my children deserved so much better and that I was like an anchor wrapped around them, dragging them down with me.

Now, two days after Robin Williams’ death, mental health professional (not really) and apparent mind reader (nope) and all-around asshole (absolutely) Rush Limbaugh, has said this about Williams’ state of mind when he ended his life –

“What is the left’s world view in general? If you had to attach, not a philosophy, but an attitude to a leftist world view. It’s one of pessimism, and darkness, sadness. They’re never happy, are they?

”Robin Williams felt guilty that he was still alive while his three friends had died young, and much earlier than he had. He could never get over the guilt that they died and he didn’t.”

Fox news Sheperd Smith, another person with apparent inside information,  said this –

“It’s hard to imagine, isn’t it? You could love three little things so much, (referencing Williams’ children)  watch them grow, and they’re in their mid-20s and they’re inspiring you and exciting you and they fill you up with a kind of joy you can never have known. Yet something inside you is so horrible, or you’re such a coward, or whatever the reason that you decide have you to end it. Robin Williams, at 63, did that today.”

 

How dare these two windbags.  The level of hatred I had for Rush Limbaugh was already off the chart before these comments.  I consider him a sub-human at this point.  I would rather listen to this over and over again then to ever read or hear anything Rush has said.  He should not be a celeburty (little nod to the awful song linked above). He is pond scum.  Sheperd is a fox news personality. I feel like that says enough. He AT LEAST has issued an apology/explanation (which I’m sure was HEAVILY encouraged by his superiors), though at least it SOUNDS sincere and fuck it, I’ll take that.

Besides these two dumb-asses, I have been hearing that people are debating the validity of depression as an actual clinical issue. I wish I was more eloquent, but I’m going to go with what I know. This is bullshit.  It is counter-productive to what we should be doing, talking about the exact opposite. Depression and mental health issues ARE real clinical issues that should be brought from the shadows into the light and discussed. The stigma attached to depression and/or mental health issues is a real thing, just as real as depression and mental health issues themselves.

NOBODY knows how hard Robin Williams fought, nor what he was thinking when he chose to end his life. Not one of us, and it is irresponsible to pretend that we did. I would imagine that he felt there was absolutely no other option, and I GET IT. It’s a real thing, and I SINCERELY HOPE anybody who sees it as something that can just be fixed by waking up on the right side of the bed, or by just humming a merry tune, do not ever find themselves, or their loved ones, suffering from depression.  They are in for a world of hurt if they think it can just be shrugged off or prayed away or that it will just pass.

The title of this post came from something my mom told me when I was a child about an article she read about how girls who don’t fight during an attempted rape end up not being hurt, and those who fight are usually hurt. As she was reading the article she said, “you fight, baby girl. You fight like hell. You’re going to be hurt either way. Go down fighting.”  In the case of depression, sometimes finding the strength to fight is a Herculean task, and I want to believe that fighting makes a difference. I know many people who have found themselves on the cusp of the blackest chasm of depression, and they have, through whatever means necessary, beat it.  I am so grateful they did, but I also do not fault anybody who has not. I get it.

My mom was right then, as she has been so many other times. It’s going to hurt either way, go down fighting.

If you feel like you just need someone to talk to, there are several ways to reach someone.  Hell, you can talk to me if you want.

 Hotline and Helpline Information

 This is a Cracked article that I have shared many times that very powerfully and eloquently puts into words why funny people kill themselves.

 

suicide

A for Effort, but Louis C.K. Does NOT Speak for This Fat Woman

13 May

All over my Facebook feed today, I saw  posts referencing last nights episode of the FX show that I have just discovered, Louie.  I know, I am late in discovering the show, but in my defense, Louis C.K. really reminded me of someone who I disliked and I have been unfairly punishing him for having the face that he does, and while I respected him as a comedian and found him funny, I just couldn’t bring myself to watch the show.  I have forgiven Louis for being genetically cursed, and we’re cool now.

I DVR the show and hadn’t watched the episode and had planned to tonight. Today, thanks to Facebook and every site being connected to every other site, (really, I can’t tell who the original poster is, but if Huffington Post has something, then Gawker does, then Slate, then Jezebel might if it’s related to women, then Huff Post Women does…and it goes on and on) I saw that on last night’s episode, C.K’s titular character (every time I use the word TITULAR I giggle, then I make sure I am using it correctly, then I giggle again…because tit) is asked on a date by Vanessa, a woman who works in the comedy club where Louie works as a comedian.Vanessa is *GASP* a fat girl. A fat woman. She’s fat. Louie turns her down and they end up going for coffee and wandering around the city and getting to know each other where, depending on which site you read, Vanessa launches into a speech that is either “magnificent” and she gets all sassy and speaks for all fat women everywhere by calling Louie out on his shallow reasoning for not wanting to go out with her (which presumably is simply because she is fat) OR she gives a speech that is male apologist bullshit that was written by Louis C.K. himself (as the whole show is of course) that does nothing but make excuses for men like Louie who are taught by society to not want to date fat women.  Excuses and apologies.  If you don’t watch the show and you are confused regarding the name, Louis C.K. is the comedian/writer whom the character Louie…um…C.K. I think… is based, on the show called Louie.

louis ck

As a fat woman myself, and one who has tried to preach body acceptance and being comfortable in one’s skin, fully realizing that picture looks different to everyone, I was excited to watch the show so that I could form my own opinion on this groundbreaking episode. I assumed it would solve so many problems that exist in the world today regarding body image and fat shaming. I hope your tongue is firmly planted in your cheek when you read the above. I don’t think Louis C.K. has the ability to bring about that kind of change, but if he DID, I would welcome it (and he’s right about common core testing too).

I liked the episode, as I do most episodes of Louie.  However,  Vanessa did not speak for me.  I don’t “blame” the men like Louie who have turned me down, as Vanessa does, and of course there have been men who have turned me down. I don’t now, and don’t as far as I can remember, look at my weight as anything other than what it is. This is my body style, this is my body.  Right now,  I am on the heavier side than I am the most comfortable, but not by much. The thing is, for whatever crazy reason, I don’t land on my weight as a reason to be rejected. I just feel like there are SO MANY other reasons why someone would turn me down (and yes, that’s funny…but it is true). I assume if I’m flirting with someone and they are not reciprocating that they don’t like brunettes, or that I snorted when I laughed, or that I was just too sarcastic for them, or that I looked disturbingly like their mom or ex or someone they despise, or more often than not, that they are gay. Me being plus-sized is really towards the bottom of the list of things that I feel badly about, even though everywhere I turn it seems that people are telling me I SHOULD feel badly about it.

I have mixed feelings about the character of Vanessa and the speech overall. I feel like her character does tend to reinforce the stereotype that fat girls are desperate, and should basically bribe someone to be interested in them. In the episode, Vanessa gives Louie a couple of hockey tickets that are said to be worth over $1000.  She does this because she is leaving her job at the comedy club and she wants to do something nice for Louie. When she gives him the tickets, he asks her out for coffee, even though when she asked him out before he turned her down. Vanessa and Louie laugh and have a good time until Louie tells Vanessa she’s “not fat” which sparks the speech linked above.

vanessa

I want Vanessa to be a bad ass and realize that browbeating some guy to hold her hand who doesn’t want to is beneath her, but she’s only 30-something, it took me at least another decade to get that.  I also want Louie to see her for the seemingly funny and feisty woman that she is, and not just her body type. On the other hand, perhaps Louie wasn’t turned off by Vanessa’s weight at all. She comes off EXTREMELY desperate, and maybe that’s what did it. Whatever the reason Louie wasn’t into Vanessa, I want Vanessa to realize that just because he isn’t, there will be others who will be.   I have a physical type that I am drawn towards, but all bets are off if that person can’t make me laugh. Who knows what Louie’s type is and what his triggers are. Human beings are complicated. He is ALLOWED to not be into her though, and she is ALLOWED to be pissed off about it, of course.

I like seeing people who look different from what we are used to seeing on TV, absolutely. I WANT us to get past this obsession with body types. I don’t know if people will think differently about women who are fat because of one episode of Louie, but I do think it’s probably a good thing that so many people are talking about this episode. Fat shaming is a real thing that actually exists, and that is ridiculous. I’m still waiting on the fat woman character who is incidentally fat, it is not a plot point, not anything she is bitter about, it just is who she is. She can be a giant mess in other ways. Maybe she’s divorced, and has two sons. Maybe she’s trying stand-up comedy. Fine, that’s me, but I would be a fantastic character. Think of all the people I would annoy because I refused to be concerned with my weight. It would be so much fun.

 

An Open Letter to the “Hot Facebook Mom” Maria Kang

19 Mar

Dear Maria,

First of all, let me say that I dig that you have a message and a vision for your life. I read through your blog and I could relate to some of it (I was unmarried and not financially prepared when I got pregnant the first time too! The second time I was married but not financially prepared and now I’m neither married nor pregnant and not financially prepared for life in general).  I didn’t really find much else that spoke to me, but that’s okay. I respect your story and your journey thus far.

maria

I saw once again that you wanted to know what my, and other moms who don’t make fitness a priority,  excuse is.  Maria, while I appreciate your concern, I find what you’re doing to be just more mom-shaming, wrapped in what you think is an inspirational message.   I’m not even going to touch on the fact that I find it to be fat-shaming as well,  which I do, but for the purpose of this letter, I am just going to address the mom-shaming aspect. However, I will answer your question at the end of this letter.

Let me just say that I am a huge proponent of moms not shaming other moms for their choices.  I find parenting hard enough without having to concern myself with Polly Perfect who is constantly on Facebook proclaiming to the world how perfect her kids are, accompanied by pictures of little Sally and Billy  munching away happily on homemade organically grown apple sauce. I assume this is not the impression you want to leave, but I may be wrong about that. It seems that looks are extremely important to you, so I can imagine your need to control every aspect of what is even thought about who you are is extremely important too. I’m not judging, just pointing out that I find you to be a bit of one of those moms that I avoid at baseball practice.  Or on Facebook. Or in life. Ever.

maria

According to the picture you posted above, as well as what I’ve read about you in your blog, I know that you have three sons, born in 2009, 2010, and 2011, and that you are tired. I can only imagine! I know you don’t have a nanny or a chef and that you are not an athlete or a fitness model and you work over 8 hours a day. One of those arrows up there supposedly points to your stretch marks, but I’ll be damned if I can see them, but that’s not the point.

The above picture, which I  know is small, also says that you “practice consistency, persistence, discipline, intensity, patience, desire, focus, and faith”.   Good on ya girl! I do too, though I find patience to not come naturally to me,  I do try to practice it.  I’ve got the desire part down pat though, know what I’m saying? Yeah you do.

Maria, you are absolutely gorgeous, that is for sure. It is obvious that you have made fitness and “being hot” a priority in your life, and you have since the age of 16 when you started competing in beauty pageants.

I have NO PROBLEM with beauty pageants. My sister was in the past an actual beauty queen, and she still is beautiful, though I’ve had it with her wearing her crown for every family function. I understand  prioritizing what is important to you, that’s what life is all about, right?  I DO have a problem with your holier than thou attitude directed at those of us who do NOT make those things a priority. I KNOW being fit and being healthy are important, though just to be clear, and I’m sure you know this, skinny does not automatically mean healthy and overweight does not automatically mean unhealthy.

Maria, you may or may not be mortified to learn that we are actually not all that different.

This is from your blog,

I’m a wife, mother, business owner and nonprofit founder.

I dream.

I set goals.

I plan.

I take action.

I reflect.

And I repeat.

Well, me too bitch! I mean bitch as in girlfriend, no disrespect meant, because while you do irk me a little, we are similar. That’s right, Maria, you have a lot in common with a mom who has two boys, and is overweight, and exercises very lazily 3-4 times a week, and is right this moment drinking a Coca damn Cola, because I also dream! I set goals! I plan! I take action! I reflect! And I repeat! I couldn’t help but notice that you have a vision board next to your treadmill. GIRL, mine is in my bedroom.

I know there will always be people who insist that their way is the only and right way. The debates between those who have chosen to bottle feed their children rather than breast feed, those who choose cloth diapers over disposable, those who co-sleep rather than not, those choices are all valid and good choices.  Figuring out what works for ones own family and filtering through everything that is out there about what you SHOULD be doing is one of the toughest things about being a parent in my opinion.

I understand that you have chosen to prioritize fitness in your life, and that is a good and valid choice. Maria, I will now answer your question. My excuse I guess,  is that I just haven’t made fitness a priority in my life, but it’s not an EXCUSE, it’s a choice. It’s a choice you may not agree with, and that’s fine, but it doesn’t mean that because you have made it a priority in your life that I am any less the person or mom that you are.  The words that are on your picture as far as things you “practice” are not exclusive to you and your commitment to fitness.  This year I have chosen to conquer fear to do something I have always wanted to do, stand-up comedy. I write daily, even if it’s just something like this, I am someone who constantly tries to learn from my past and is striving to make myself the person I want to be, not only for myself, but for my children. I want them to see a mom who is not afraid and who kicks ass. I think those are things you want your children to see in you as well, we just see the end product as something different. And it’s okay! We’re both right!

So Maria,  let’s agree that maybe you knew you were stirring up some controversy when you posted your “what’s your excuse” picture, because I think you did. You’ve been blogging for a long time, since 2005, but nobody gave  you much thought before that picture took off and went viral. I don’t think you’re a MEAN person, and I know you think you are impacting the world in a positive way. If I could wish anything for you it is that you would come from a place of support rather than shame, because we are not all that different and maybe we could learn something from each other, but it is hard to listen to someone when you feel they are attacking you.

Also, your boys are adorable and I wish you nothing but luck in your endeavors.

Love and donuts (I’m sorry, now I’m just being a brat)

Amy

Bombing is not NEARLY as Fun as NOT Bombing

12 Mar

I am going to be SO SUCCESSFUL!

You may recall that this time last week I was ready to quit my job because my first foray into comedy at an open mic night went so well. Maybe I wasn’t ready to QUIT, but I  was ready to at least consider myself a “natural” stand-up comedian.

You guys, I am not a “natural” stand-up comedian. I am funny,  and I did do really well last week, but I can’t just jump on a stage and run through my material and nail it, and to think I COULD do that brings to mind the post I wrote about being a narcissist.  I am surprised I’m not a politician because I do hubris followed by contrite pretty damn well.

I had two friends come to see me, and why not because my god I’m so so good at this comedy thing. Honestly, they were the only two in the bar, the rest of the audience was made up of other comedians and employees of the bar. EASY PEASY. I can talk to them and be relaxed and just jump up there, kill it, then be showered with compliments, money, and offers of sexual favors afterwards.

You guys, I cannot talk to them, be relaxed, and just jump up there, kill it, then be showered with anything except the disapproving glares of other comedians and my friends. I rambled, I talked too fast, I skipped most of my material. I. Was. AWFUL. And  I knew it as it was happening, and yet I could not stop. I had to finish my set, and when I was given the sign that my time was up I literally said “THANK GOD I CAN GET OFF THIS STAGE NOW.” It was the exact opposite from my experience last week when I loved it and couldn’t wait to get back up on stage and do it again.

I learned that I need alone time before my set, I need to pull myself together and meditate and/or try deep breathing techniques. I need to concentrate. I need to talk slower. I need to punch my, um, punch lines.  There are a whole lot of things I need to do that I did not do last night. And it showed. And it felt horrible.

I was BUMMED at first. I SUCK AT THIS AND SHOULD NEVER DO IT AGAIN. OH well, comedy dream, we had a good run. Then, thanks to the other comedians who have become my friends, I was given the advice listed above, and told that first of all this happens to everybody and second of all, this was only my second time.

All I can do is learn and try again, and I will be trying again tonight actually. My family and friends are all so supportive. My sister sent me some clips of comedians talking about the first time they bombed. Patton Oswalt, one of my favorite comedians, tells the story of a time he bombed.

I don’t think this is the LAST time I will ever bomb, and I don’t put myself in the same category as Patton Oswalt (or the same as 99% of the other local comedians I’ve gotten to know) but this is something I have wanted to do, and I’m doing it.

)

Adding Comedian to my Bio Starting Now

7 Mar
first night

Me on the left, sister on the right

I fell in love with comedy at an early age. I grew up watching Saturday Night Live with my mom and I watched in awe as my dad could instantly put people at ease with his quick wit and humor. I learned early on that making people laugh felt good, and it was something I was pretty good at doing.  I always gravitated towards people I found funny and I always had nothing but respect for people who made people laugh for a living.

I was told more than once that I should do stand-up, and it was always something I wanted to try, but I could not think of anything that sounded more intimidating than to be on a stage in front of strangers trying to make them laugh. After Brett died 2 1/2 years ago, I started to realize that this is it. We get one life and I was letting fear hold me back from something I wanted to do.  Earlier this year, I decided that this was my year to do it.

I had been working on material for a few weeks and I thought it was pretty funny. My comedic hero, and all-around dream man, Zach Galifianakis, advises comedians to go with material they find funny, and not to try to write FOR any particular group of people. If you get no laughs, who cares, try again. This was good news to me since I live in a college town and kind of don’t know what college-aged people find funny.  I sent my rough material to my sister and she told me it was funny, and that people in her office thought it was funny.

By some amazing stroke of luck, Greg, my niece’s ex-boyfriend, had been doing comedy for years and he was at the first open mic that I attended just to watch. He was then, and is now,  incredibly supportive. He told me about a workshop that local comedians attend to try out material and my god I hate the term but I’m going to use it, brainstorm, on material together. The day of the first workshop, I actually sat in my car, psyching myself up to go inside. I was afraid to go inside alone, because Greg had said he was running a little late. I didn’t know anybody else. And I’m old. And I’m a woman. An old woman who knows nobody. And I was petrified. The guys I had seen at the open mic I attended were funny, some funnier than others, but hell, they were all up there trying.

I sat there in my car texting a friend and my sister asking for positive thoughts because I was scared to even go inside the stupid coffee shop where the workshop was being held. They came through and I got out of the car and strolled in and nobody was there yet, so I sat down on one of the benches and ordered a giant glass of wine and waited.  Soon I started to recognize some of the guys from the open mic I attended. I introduced myself to them as they asked me who the hell I was (probably said much nicer than that. Just injecting some drama).  Greg came in and I almost instantly felt better.

Everybody took their turn in front of the room running through bits they were working on. Greg looked like he was born on that stage and I was jealous. I was so nervous about the whole thing, but I got up and went through some of my material…and some of them LAUGHED. These 20 something guys found humor in my stories about being a 44-year-old single woman in a college town, online dating, and my kids. Although embellished for the sake of comedy, this was my life, and they laughed.  I felt empowered. I decided that I would do an open mic in a few weeks.

I think I was less nervous before having my chest sawed open and having open heart surgery. I think I was less nervous driving my Aunt’s car in Washington DC the summer I was 16. I think I was less nervous before any first day of any job or any school year.  I almost talked myself out of doing it several times throughout the day and a couple of more times while sitting at the club waiting for my name to be called.

My sister came into town so she could spend some time with me and my niece and we went to dinner and dropped my boys off with their dad for the night so I could get to the club to sign up by 8:30.  I had spent the last few days in front of my bathroom mirror speaking my material into a hairbrush. I also ran through my material in the car with my sister.  By the time I got to the club, I was sure I had forgotten all of it.

I got up on the stage and my sister and niece were in the front row. I did not forget all of it. I did forget some of it, and while my first open mic was FAR from perfect, I felt really good about it. I still feel really good about it, but I am over being in love with myself and more into what I can do to improve.  I feel like if the material is good, my delivery and saying UMM all the time and nervous tics and stuff on stage, will get better with time. I’m working on more material, and I’ll be doing another open mic on this coming Tuesday, and will be competing in an amateur comedians showcase contest thing in a few weeks.  My plan is to do as many open mics as I can the weeks the boys are with their dad.  I plan to keep writing new material, and polishing this material, because it is ME. This is material I think is funny, and yes, I cuss, and I have some adult themes, but if you’ve read this blog for any amount of time, you should know this is who I am.

My dear sister recorded this and I had no plans to share it with anyone at all, but a lot of people wanted to see it, so now I am posting it everywhere. I am nothing if not totally fickle.  The response has been mostly positive.  I’m working very hard on not letting the negatives overshadow the positives. I’m proud of myself, and proud of my material.

Also, so many people have expressed an interest in doing stand up. Two words…DO IT. I greatly regret that Brett and my dad, two of the funniest human beings I have ever had the pleasure of knowing, are not around to see me do this.

Aren’t We ALL Hookers?

18 Dec

A few nights ago I took advantage of the free HBO preview that I am receiving for a few more months and watched some quality cable programming.  Game of Thrones? No, but I’ve heard that’s good.  The Newsroom? No, but I am dying to see that. So it must have been True Blood? No, but you’re getting closer. I watched a show called Cathouse: The Series.

I’m not going to lie and say I started watching the show thinking it would be about ACTUAL cats living in a house. I knew what I was getting into.  The show was about the women who work in the Cathouse and their relationships and less about the men who frequent the establishment. I found it fascinating and not at all sexy honestly, especially when a man came in dressed as a clown. THAT encounter was one that was shown and I really could have lived without seeing a guy in full clown makeup living out his desires. Not because I’m a prude, whatever works buddy, but I just hate clowns, and don’t want to see them happy.

Something I found interesting is that the clients are offered a menu of services that the ladies offer. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find one of these menus on the internet, which is both surprising and sad. I found A menu that looks like it’s from an establishment like the Cathouse, but I cannot confirm or deny that this is THE menu. It’s pretty vague but I think  I can figure out what most everything is except “Salt and Pepper”.  I am going to assume it’s sex with someone dressed like one of the Golden Girls, because that amuses me.

cathouse

When I was watching the show, I realized that my romantic life post-divorce could be featured on a menu as well.  No no, don’t set your computer on fire, I am not going to discuss sex acts (on THIS blog anyway…wink wink).  I had an epiphany that what I was offering cost ME a lot, including my self-esteem, pride, sense of self, but came free of charge to the men who partook.  I don’t BLAME them. If I walked into a store and everything was 100% off, I would probably go crazy too.

If you’re totally confused, allow me to present the FORMER menu to Cafe A –

The Super Speedy – In a hurry to get things moving? This meal is best if you have no life of your own and are really just looking for someplace to live. Also known as the guy who moved in with some girl 2 days after we stopped seeing each other because I moved too slow.
cost – This guy actually did pay a price, the girl stole money from him.

The Carnal Knowledge – Also known as there is absolutely no way this is going anywhere, but let’s have sex.
cost – Nothing to either party. It’s an okay option, but you’ll be hungry again right after.

Comfort Food – Also known as the girlfriend experience. All the trappings of having a girlfriend including emotional support and carnal knowledge, but without paying the price of exclusivity or commitment.
cost – Free! For the guy. Cost to me? Far too high.

The Full Geisha – Are you absolutely starving for affection? This is everything you could ever want, served on a pedestal. Don’t mind me, I’ll just be down here trying to find my self-esteem and pride.
cost –Free! For the guy. Cost to me? Years of therapy and rebuilding.

There it is in black and white, more or less. All the years of therapy have led to THIS, this sad display of how little I valued myself.  However, don’t feel bad for me. The kitchen is closed and we are under new management and these items are no longer offered. Well, MAYBE The Carnal Knowledge. Talk to me in a few months. I KID I KID.

cathouse2

 

J. A. Allen

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