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The F Word. No, Not That One

29 Jan
adjective: fat; comparative adjective: fatter; superlative adjective: fattest
1.(of a person or animal) having a large amount of excess flesh.
“the driver was a fat, wheezing man”

Jennifer Lawrence wants to outlaw calling someone “fat”.  I like Jennifer Lawrence. I like that she is outspoken and that she seems to have a handle on the whole shallow Hollywood machine (as do I, living in a small town in Florida and having no experience with it whatsoever, but I digress).  I find her to be refreshing and while she may be off the mark sometimes with her comments about body image, at least she is commenting and she is trying to bring about positive change.

The clip above is from an interview when she was chosen as one of Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating People of 2013.  If you have an aversion to clicking on a link and watching a video clip, her actual quote is below –

“The word fat, I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV. If we’re regulating cigarettes, and sex, and cuss words, because of the effect it has on our younger generations, why aren’t we regulating things like calling people fat?”

I absolutely understand what she is trying to say. On the other hand, it’s just an adjective. I feel like making it illegal to call someone fat is giving the word a ridiculous amount of power and it makes it seem like it is something SHAMEFUL to BE fat.  We’re talking about an adjective, not he who shall not be named (VOLDEMORT).  It’s just an adjective, a descriptive word, that honestly is not scary at all, unlike Voldemort.

I find it extremely offensive that often when someone tries to “cut me down” they resort to calling me “fat”. It’s not offensive because I’m so hurt that someone would call me fat, but it shows a huge lack of imagination on their part.  I have claimed that word, it does nothing but describe my body. Or,  maybe not. It is an adjective, but like a lot of adjectives, it is subjective. What is FAT to one person may not be to another.

When my sister and I were younger, we did what my boys do now, we would pick on each other, usually focusing on our physical traits. My sister said I was the Heat Miser, because I was round and had red hair, and I called her the Snow Miser, because she was thin and had a longer nose than I did (and she had a penchant for wearing straw hats).  Is it stupid? Absolutely. Did it hurt my feelings? Maybe a little bit but soon I realized that I WAS rounder than she was, and I DID have red hair (until I stopped dyeing it but not because of anything my sister said or did). We did it because we were kids. The fact that adults still feel the need to “pick on” other adults for their physical attributes is really silly to me.


Fat is just an adjective.  Just a descriptive term. Being fat is not some horrible fate. I would like to see people get away from making FAT be something that is tantamount to traits that I find much more heinous like being mean, or hateful, or judgmental, or racist, or unkind.

A while ago I was involved with someone who wrote a story with me as the main character. I was depicted as sensual (because DUH, I’m all kinds of hot and spicy) and described as having “legs that were shapely, and strong, but not fat”. I asked him if he felt the need to add that part because he was concerned about how I would perceive it or if he was afraid that this woman who was portrayed as sexy would not seem realistic if he didn’t add that she was “not fat”.  If he had an answer for me, I don’t remember it, but I blocked a lot of that relationship out for my own sanity.

Instead of making an adjective be illegal, I would like to see more real life people of all shapes and sizes be featured in roles that celebrate them for the multi-faceted individuals they are.  How about we have a movie that features Melissa McCarthy as a woman who is involved with a man, or a woman, and their relationship has ups and downs, and not ONE of them has anything to do with the fact that she is the size she is.  She doesn’t break any chairs (Shallow Hal, I know you have good intentions, but no), there would be no friends who talked about how the male lead character could “do better”, there would be none of that.  Before you say “well, that sounds dull as dishwater” I’m not saying there wouldn’t be any conflict, just don’t make it centered around her weight.  There are a lot of mushy relationship movies that manage to do this. Granted, I stay away from them but that’s because I’m not a fan of Rom/Com movies. I enjoy trying on every outfit in my closet in a musical montage as much as the next person, but on the whole, romantic comedies are not usually my movie genre of choice.

In a perfect world, we wouldn’t feel the need to try to hurl words at one another in an attempt to belittle each other. That whole “blowing out someone’s candle doesn’t make yours shine brighter” thing,  BUT, I know that is asking for too much. I don’t feel it necessary to make the word “fat” illegal, but how about we stop focusing on it and making it seem like there is no higher insult than calling someone “fat” and we accept the word for what it is, just an adjective.

fat quote

Leaping Before Looking for Almost 44 Years

4 Dec


I have watched every episode of Sex and the City, probably more than once. Definitely more than once. Now that I live in a fancy house with a DVR, I can binge-watch many episodes in a row, though I wouldn’t suggest doing it after drinking a couple of mason jars full of red wine, yet, here we are.

I’ve analyzed the characters and tried to figure out with whom I most identified. I think, like most women, I’m a little of all four. I’m a little sassy and sexually liberated like Samantha (and who hasn’t had sex on a moving fire truck), I’m pragmatic and a little cynical like Miranda (and bartenders ARE fun), I’m a little dreamy-eyed when it comes to romance like Charlotte (and dust ruffles really are dumb), and like Carrie, I have fallen in love with a man who just wasn’t ever going to be what I needed him to be. I have done this more than once.

With that in mind, and in the spirit of the show, I can’t help but wonder, am I doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over no matter how much work I think I’ve done on myself? Is this my cosmic fate?

My 12-year old son is reading a book called and the name escapes me now because wine and old age, but it is about a society that at first SOUNDS Utopian, but the more the book is read the more it is revealed to actually be a dystopian society. One of the key points in the book is that everything is very regulated and true love is not felt. People are matched with partners for marriage and everyone must take a pill to keep from experiencing love. My son recently asked me if I would choose to take a pill like that. I said absolutely not because sure it numbs the pain, but it numbs the other stuff too. the good stuff, and no amount of leaping into what turns out to be a giant pool void of water overshadows the good stuff. The good stuff is SO GOOD. Of course, I even more recently joked with my mom who knew my answer to my son that I would like to change my answer.

I am self-aware, almost to a fault. I have gone to therapy, I have read books, I have read blog posts, I am all about claiming my baggage, sitting down to dinner with my feelings, taking a dip in lake Amy (that’s me), and working on my part in any situation, learning, and moving on. I’m cute, I’m hilarious, I am good enough, I am smart enough, and gosh darnit, people like me.  I have an open mind, I’m not bitter, I go all in, I love big and that is probably part of my issue. I have been known to leap before looking. More than once. And dammit if that doesn’t hurt like hell.

I have no idea what the future holds, but I won’t stop leaping, and even though I’ve dated, that is, gone on more than one date with, a total of two people in the several years that I have been divorced from the boys’ dad, I hope the boys see me as a woman who is not bitter and who is pretty awesome and who is at least jumping in. Because the jump is worth the fall, and I don’t want them to ever think it’s not. And MAYBE,  I will jump and fall on top of somebody. This got dark. I blame the wine.

Thanks for Nothing, John Hughes

23 Nov

There are certain things I love about growing up on a steady diet of John Hughes movies. I love that people used to say I reminded them of Molly Ringwald. It was totallymolly  accidental that I had the same haircut and dyed my hair red and practiced making my lips look as pouty as possible. All coincidences. I loved that the characters considered weirdos were always the ones who were the funniest and of course my favorites. I never did quite forgive Anthony Michael Hall for not actually BEING Farmer Ted. However, there’s a dark side to growing up hungrily devouring those movies, and others of that ilk, and no I’m not talking about poor Gedde Watanabe in the role of Long Duk Dong, a character that has been lambasted for portraying Asians in a less than flattering light.

I’m talking about Jake Ryan.

jake ryan

Jake Ryan Jake Ryan Jake Ryan. The man, the myth, the legend. Jake Ryan, who was so smitten with Molly Ringwald’s character Sam (after learning that she had a huge crush on him) that he tracked her down and just happens to find her looking probably the best she’s ever looked in her life,all dressed up in a gown that was not even super hideous, after being a bridesmaid in her sister’s wedding. Pink dress, flowers in her hair, absolutely glowing from head to toe, Sam walks down the stairs of the church to see cars clear as they head off to the Bohunks or Ricechex, whatever, reception, and there he is, Jake Ryan, leaning on his I’m too lazy to look it up but I’m sure it’s expensive red car.  It doesn’t end there though, it ends with Jake and Sam sharing a kiss over a birthday cake with lit candles, while sitting on a glass table.  Even when I watched it at the time I thought it was a bad idea. Now that I’m older, YIKES, that’s an embarrassing trip to the emergency room waiting to happen.

BUT, the table didn’t break and they didn’t end up in the emergency room with their asses full of glass or their eyebrows burned off. They kissed and presumably ended up having that timid yet hot teenaged sex I vaguely remember.

It’s so sweet and relatively easy, right? I like you, you like me, let’s jump into this thing together, shall we? I remember vividly how flushed I would get when I saw the guy I had a crush on and how I wanted more than anything for him to pull a Jake Ryan on me and just jump in with me. He didn’t. 

snipHere’s the thing, somewhere along the way, things went from”let’s jump into this thing together” to “I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her”. I assume it’s a natural progression that comes when life beats the hell out of you, or perhaps some sense into you, either one.  I have reached the point where I realize there is no Jake Ryan and I’m tired of being just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her…um…me. To pull from another beloved character, the wise Yoda, “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try”.  I feel like asking someone to love me is asking them to TRY to do something horrible. Like, this is going to be terrible, but hell, I might as well try to love her. No thank you.

After Sixteen Candles when I was in my 20’s, I would watch the original Beverly Hills 90201 with  my then boyfriend who was an actual trained professional wrestler, though that word “professional” caused some confusion because he never got paid for it.  Or anything actually. BUT, he was on the fast track to the big time, the WCW, or something. After we broke up, he had just signed a lucrative contract with some pro wrestling organization when he tragically wrecked his car and became paralyzed from the waist down. He is now confined to a wheelchair for the remainder of his life.

Sadly, although the story about my ex-boyfriend sounds like a saucy story line from the show, it is an actual thing that happened. There was also baby mama drama, steroid use, pregnancy scares, family issues, and a hoarder, throughout our almost 3 year relationship. Drama, am I right?

Besides developing a deep appreciation for drama in general from watching 90210 and living my own version, though with much less money and a lot more mullets, I learned that if you can’t figure out what to wear you can’t go wrong with shorts, boots, a vest, and a choker and any combination thereof, I learned that the people who are considered the “smartest” can also make mistakes yet sometimes those mistakes are the most interesting things about them,  and  I also learned that there really are no people of color anywhere in Beverly Hills. Anywhere.

At this point in my life, I have come to the realization that Jake Ryan is truly a fictional character,that I am finished being a girl standing in front of a boy asking for anything other than a tall white chocolate latte, and that much like Kelly Taylor, when faced with the decision of her life, marrying Brandon Walsh or running off with Dylan McKay, I can always choose me.  Choosing me over trying to convince someone that I’m worth loving is even better than mulleted heart-throbs fighting over the right to squire me around on the back of a motorcycle or putting a ring on my finger.

I don’t give up. I’ll never give up. I just realize that if my choices are 1)  hope someone feels the same about me as I do them and jumps in, or 2) trying to convince someone that I’m worth jumping in for,  that there is a third door, and that door is me, wearing shorts, boots, a vest, and a choker because really, that is a timeless look.


Hopelessly Falling in Love With Fictional Characters Since 1979

1 Jul

AMC's "Mad Men" Season 4 Premiere - ArrivalsI have watched the AMC show, Mad Men, since it aired six years ago. In that time, my feelings towards Jon Hamm’s character, Don Draper, have changed from almost idolatry to an uncomfortable truce with the person I now know he is. I used to find him rakish and charming, but now I find his cavalier attitude towards everyone and everything maddening.

He has demons. I get it. The creator of the show, Matthew Weiner, has shown us through flashbacks that he is haunted by his childhood. He grew up in a whorehouse and was witness to women being treated like, well, like whores. Don Draper is not even really who he is, name, credentials, and otherwise (girl, there is so much more, but just watch the show).  Because of the fact that he just won’t deal with his childhood, he hates himself, he drinks too much, he smokes too much, he makes reckless personal choices, and he has severe intimacy issues. He relates to women either as playthings to control or as arm candy that exists only for his pleasure.

I once wrote a letter to Don Draper (just in case you need any further proof that I am crazy) and this line “your choices are causing you to leave an indelible mark on everyone around you and at this point, if I stay involved with you, I will be the one to blame for the blackness you have left on me” stands out because, yes, I wrote the letter to the character Don Draper (and I’m not TOTALLY crazy, it was to be the blog post that turned into this), I was actually addressing someone from my past who reminds me very much of the character Don Draper.

I have always fallen in love with literary characters. Gilbert Blythe broke my heart right along with Anne Shirley back when I read Anne of Green Gables. Most recently, I ached for Naoko and Toru of Haruki Murakami’s Norwegian Wood. I look for bits and pieces of myself or people I have known in these characters that entrance me so. Sometimes it is easier to make sense of a past hurt or situation when seeing it through the eyes of someone else.

Recently, I watched the movie The Silver Linings Playbook, based on the novel of the same name by Matthew Quick. The book has been on my list of books to read for a while so when my friend Chelsea loaned me the movie I thought I would give it a shot.

I have never been one to go crazy over Bradley Cooper. I think we all know that my favorite cast member from The Hangover is Zach Galifianakis.  However, I was crazy silver liningsabout Bradley Cooper in this movie, and joked that of course I was because he was playing a bipolar man who’d had his heart shattered and that I was drawn to him for those reasons. Maybe , maybe not, but I truly was enthralled by him in this movie.

The true love affair for me,  however,  happened as I continued to watch the movie and I got to know Jennifer Lawrence’s character Tiffany, who plays Cooper’s dancing partner and love interest, eventually. This character was mesmerizing, and Lawrence, who was 21 years old when she made the movie, deserved the Oscar for best actress that she won this year. Let’s give her Gwyneth Paltrow’s Oscar that she won for Shakespeare in Love back in 1998 too because Jennifer Lawrence deserves two and Gwyneth doesn’t deserve any (and I love The Royal Tenenbaums as much as the next guy, but no. Sorry). Marissa Tomei, my dear departed dad’s love for you has kept your Oscar safe. For now.

I think this line encompasses why I love Tiffany so much –

“I was a slut. There will always be a part of me that is dirty and sloppy, but I like that, just like all the other parts of myself. I can forgive. Can you say the same for yourself, fucker? Can you forgive? Are you capable of that?”

The fact that her character made some choices that she wasn’t very proud of and she didn’t deny the fact that she made those choices and she didn’t blame anyone else, and she forgave herself, and embraced her “dirty and sloppy”, is an amazingly beautiful thing.

I am introspective, sometimes to a fault. I have tumbled choices around in my head to see them from every angle to try to figure out why I have done some things I have done. I have practically turned beating myself up for those choices into an art form when it became painfully evident that they were mistakes. I do this to hopefully try to learn and become a more evolved, better person. I’ll be honest, it can be exhausting and there are times I wish I was much more like someone who could package the ugly and the dirty and the sloppy into a pretty box and shove it way into the back of my mind and go on with my life, BUT, when I think that might be the way to live, I am reminded of Don Draper, the man who does just that, and the ugly that has permeated every square inch of his life because of it.

I won’t give up on Don Draper (the character), or Mad Men. I also won’t give up on myself.

“If you show someone the sun in your bones and they reject you, you must remember, they hurt themselves this very same way.”

nayyirah waheed

A Trippy Fathers’ Day Post, Man

16 Jun


Way back in the early 2000’s, I greeted with great trepidation and fear the news that Tim Burton was going to be remaking Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. The original had its flaws, of course, but I loved it, and I didn’t think I had room in my life for another Willy Wonka.  Gene Wilder WAS Willy Wonka for me. End of story.

When I begrudgingly saw Burton’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory in 2005, I didn’t see a remake. I didn’t see a movie I had seen hundreds of times before. I hardly recognized Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka , but I LOVED HIM.  I saw this movie as a totally different entity, and I found I had more than enough room for both Willy Wonkas in my heart and my life.

Why in the hell am I going on about Willy Wonka and calling it a fathers’ day post?  Besides the fact that obviously I need to up my meds and/or eat some chocolate, I started thinking about these films as a metaphor for the way I feel about  my late father and Joe, the man in my mom’s life, and all of ours,  for the past many years.

My dad is my dad. Nobody is going to replace my dad in my life. I share stories about him with the boys and we all laugh about them because he was a true one of a kind.  He will always be my dad and even though they never met him, he will always be my boys’ Pop Pop.

Joe is my boys’ Poppa. He has stepped into the role of their grandfather and as my step dad, whether he wanted it or not (I hope he wanted it because there is no backing out now). His family became our family and ours became his. He is a true one of a kind as well.

My life is brighter and more colorful thanks to crazy men I have known in my childhood and adulthood. I’ll let you decide if I’m talking about the movies here or Dad and Joe.

I love you Dad and I love you Joe, and Wonkas’, thanks for letting me into your factories. They are groovy and I adore both of them.


Pure imagination from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

Hold your breath
Make a wish
Count to three

Come with me
And you’ll be
In a world of
Pure imagination
Take a look
And you’ll see
Into your imagination

We’ll begin
With a spin
Traveling in
The world of my creation
What we’ll see
Will defy

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanta change the world?
There’s nothing
To it

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You’ll be free
If you truly wish to be

If you want to view paradise
Simply look around and view it
Anything you want to, do it
Wanta change the world?
There’s nothing
To it

There is no
Life I know
To compare with
Pure imagination
Living there
You’ll be free
If you truly
Wish to be

*Picture credit

Yes, I Do Have a Shark Tattoo on my Butt

11 Jun


I have a love affair with sharks that goes way back. One of my earliest memories is going to see Jaws with my brother and cousin when it came out in the theater when I was 5 years old. I am pretty sure my mom thought they were going to take me to see Benji or something and cannot imagine she agreed to have her baby girl go see a movie about a great white shark that goes on a human hunting spree and I am POSITIVE that nobody knew the effect the movie would have on me and that some 30-odd years later my fascination with sharks would culminate in the form of a tattoo on my behind, yet, here we are.

I find myself reading everything I can get my hands on about sharks and it is a given that I must watch every single movie made about sharks, and yes, this includes cinematic masterpieces like Jersey Shore Shark Attack and Shark Night. 


Sharks have become caricatures of the amazing creatures they are and my relationship with them and how they are portrayed is a complicated one. I am sure it is apparent by now that I cannot just LIKE something, I have to have a complicated relationship with it. I am an enigma wrapped in question marks surrounded by mystery, perhaps needlessly so, but in any case, I appreciate sharks for the real live incredible creatures they are, and have a healthy respect for them, while at the same time desire to watch any and all horrible movies about them. Movies that I know do not portray sharks as they really are, and no, I don’t necessarily think sharks are sensitive creatures that just want to be hugged. However, I do think they are creatures that really just want to be left alone. They don’t like how humans taste, they don’t want to hunt us, and they certainly don’t follow people in order to take revenge on the family of the person who killed the shark’s family member (Jaws: The Revenge…I’m still pissed).

Watching shark movies, both terrible and awesome for many years, has taught me a few things, and no, the lesson is not to stay out of the ocean. I still love the beach and swim in the ocean though never at night and never after sitting around a campfire smoking everything but our shoes (Jaws, with a nod to Steel Magnolias).

  • Sometimes sharks are just doing what the rest of us wish we could do. More often than not, usually in a bloody third act, the antagonist gets what’s coming to him and/or her. From Malibu Beach Shark Attack to Shark Night, this is one thing you can depend on in virtually every terrible shark movie. Please note, when I say “terrible shark movie” I do not mean Jaws, which is highly regarded as an awesome movie even by people who do not have sharks tattooed on their asses.
  •  When will teenagers learn that boats + booze + sex = shark attack?  Come on kids, this equation is in every movie from Deep Blue Sea to Swamp Shark to Shark Night.
  • Let’s not monkey around with the genetics of sharks, mmmkay? Sure, sharks may possess the key to preventing and curing Alzheimer’s disease  like in Deep Blue Sea or you may just be a crazed doctor who feels the need to fuse yourself with a shark like in Hammerhead – Shark Man.  Trust me, the first idea is a good one but we don’t really want and/or need super smart sharks swimming around do we and there is nothing good about the head of a hammerhead shark on the body of a man. Not a good look. At all.
  • Sharks may be and probably are in every body of water in existence. Think you’re safe in the beautiful waters of Venice while being paddled around in one of those sightseeing boats while being serenaded by some guy in a striped shirt and stupid hat? If so, Stephen Baldwin in Shark in Venice has a bridge he would like to sell you, though not the Golden Gate bridge because that was eaten by the huge shark in Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus.
  • Every single shark that has ever lived still lives down at the bottom of the ocean just waiting to be re-awakened by stupid man and our constant need for high-rise hotels or oil or some other thing that we totally could live without.  Every. Single. One. Megalodon is still swimming around out there and of course starring in the movie Megalodon and the aforementioned Mega Shark vs.Giant Octopus and the followup Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus.   Just stop with the building and the drilling you animals!

This list has been tongue in cheek, of course, but the reality of sharks is that they are amazing creatures that are being hunted so their fins can be made into a Chinese delicacy, shark fin soup. A soup that is virtually tasteless yet is thought to enhance sexual potency.

The way the sharks are caught, their fins cut from their body, then tossed back into the ocean to suffocate because they have no way to swim and take in oxygen, is really sickening. Don’t eat shark fin soup but DO celebrate the beginning of summer by watching either a semi-terrible shark movie like Deep Blue Sea, which is one of the best of the worst, or a really awful shark movie like Swamp Shark, or an enjoyable scary shark movie like Open Water, which is truly frightening and much like Jaws for the first half of the movie, the IDEA of sharks is much scarier than actual sharks. Or, learn about the animals themselves by watching an awesome documentary like Sharkwateror one of the Discovery Channel’s wonderful series featured as part of their Shark Week (especially since they’ve gotten away from glorifying the killing of sharks).

If  for some reason you haven’t seen the granddaddy of them all, Jaws,  please, I implore you,  just watch it, if only for the amazing performances of Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss.

Now get out there and hug some sharks! Don’t really do that.


J. A. Allen

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