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Embrace yourself, now

17 Aug

I’ve performed stand up comedy in my underwear twice,thanks to Joe Pettis and his underwear comedy party well,  once in boxers and a tank top, once in underwear, more like lingerie with a long sweater over it to cover the back, my ass was totally exposed (I LOVE my ass, but that was a bridge too far even for me). Both times were very fun and plan on doing it again next time it makes its way back around. What’s interesting to me is how many times I was told I was “brave” to do this show. Both before and after my sets. I found that word fascinating. Unfortunately I only taped my first set, not the most recent one from last year. I addressed this in the opening of both of my sets, in the link above I briefly talk about how this was just my body, my body has served me well, I’ve had two kids, and countless pizzas inside this body and this is it, it’s just my body, In my second set, I referenced being told I was “brave” again and said, I’m not rescuing kittens from a burning building, I’m just brazen enough to be okay with my body  as it is. I will admit there is a certain amount of chutzpah involved with being a woman of a certain size standing on stage trying to make people laugh, while wearing clothing that is underwear-like. But in all honesty, anyone standing on stage in general trying to make people laugh is pretty damn ballsy. My first underwear set was done about a month before my stroke, my second one, about a year after my stroke.  I was pleased with both sets. Do I think anything I did in my underwear has been brave, the second set more than the first,if I had to choose because post-stroke, I had a lot more issues to deal with (memory mainly) , and the road back to the stage was fraught with heartache and hardship. I don’t remember one person commenting how brave I was regarding my stroke after that set, but I did get the other comments  about my body. Does this mean Gainesville comedy fans are insensitive jerks? Maybe,  but probably not. I think it’s more that we’ve been socialized as a society to think to dare to live as a fat woman and be relatively okay with that is “brave”.

 

Several of my friends shared this Embrace official trailer on Facebook, and when I saw it, I shared it too. I got goosebumps when I first saw it, and read the heartfelt description about why it’s important for it to be seen in its entirety by as many people as possible, girls, women, men, boys, all different ages, nationalities, sizes, etc, society in general. I think what I took away from it besides the obvious junk we throw at people in this country regarding “ideal bodies”, is the importance of living in your body right now, emphasis on live. We have one life, this is it. I remember having a conversation with some past coworkers who were talking about not liking themselves in bathing suits, these women were moms. I told them “get over your weird feelings about your bodies, put on a bathing suit and go to the beach with your kids”. They weren’t very pleased with me.I lost 36 lbs. after my stroke, I worked really hard,  was hungry all the time, but I did it. My blood pressure didn’t drop one point, I didn’t magically feel better, I felt hungry. I gained what I lost and more back in a few months. I know, lifestyle change not diet is the key. I think if you followed me around you would be surprised that my diet is not bad or excessive. I don’t eat a lot. I don’t usually have chips, sodas or sweets in the house….I’m justifying my diet on my body positive blog…it doesn’t matter what or how I choose to eat, this is my body. I’m going to  embrace it and live my life now, inside this body. After I gained the weight back, I realized I was even more comfortable with my body than I had been before the stroke. I think maybe because I had fought back from stroke to get myself back to work and and back to my passion for comedy, and the fact that I fight my mental illness demons daily and will for my whole life, that it instilled a huge dose of IDGAF (I don’t give a fuck) in my psyche.

amy stage

This picture is from a comedy set I did last night(I promise the audience had more fun than it appears in this picture), pre-stroke, I NEVER would have worn a dress showing my arms like this . Last night I wore it because I felt like I looked pretty in it, it came in my size, it was cool (It’s 10,000 degrees here), so I said fuck it, and I spent the $11.00 to buy it, I stumbled across it when I went to get dog food quickly after work. I don’t care what I SHOULD wear according to whoever dictates those things. I also routinely wear leggings as pants because I’m a grown-ass woman who can do as she pleases. I can put them on my head and call them a hat if I want. Those snarky little memes showing (always a fat woman) wearing something deemed “socially unacceptable” with the oh so clever “advice” Just because something comes in your size doesn’t mean you should wear it. To that I say, if I want to wear it, it shall be worn.

I think getting attitudes to change about how fat people are perceived and sometimes shamed for being fat, won’t be an easy one. I think some misguided people think fat = unhealthy , but studies  have shown that to not necessarily be the case. My stroke was caused by a congenital heart defect and me being a dumbass and not taking my blood thinner regularly. We all have a comfort zone for how we feel most comfortable with how we look, if how you think I should look isn’t how I look, I don’t care,  get out of my bubble. You worry about you. Furthermore, I don’t know one person, fat or otherwise who would be appreciative of some stranger,under the guise of “being concerned about  their health” either fat or thin shaming  someone by telling them they need to lose or gain  weight. You cannot look at someone and magically assess their health based on outward appearance.   I think acceptance is very important, I want children to grow up with the realization that they are beautiful, special beings,inside and out. I want that for everyone beyond what their bodies look like, or what color their skin is, or how they identify themselves, or who they love, etc. I just want kindness. I don’t think that’s a tall order for humanity.

I will continue to be a bad ass/fat ass and stand on a stage wearing what I want, while getting people to both laugh and think about talking openly about mental illness and if simply doing that is perceived as “bravery” I can’t imagine that’s a bad thing.

The Curse of Introspection, My Bipolar World

12 May

I’ve used the term “comfortable in my skin” so often, it’s become a running joke with me (and probably only me)  and I’m thinking of expounding on it a little and adding it to my set as part of my online dating bit, because I put it in every online dating profile I’ve ever had, to me it’s another way of saying “I’m fatter in person and I don’t give a fuck, I’m okay with it”. I struggle with accepting myself but that does not equate to me hating my outward appearance, even though, as a “great big fat person”

 

 I feel like society tells me I SHOULD. 98% of the time I think I’m adorable on the outside, mom jeans and all. I started this post with  Prince in mind, because I am legitimately sad that he is no longer with us. He seemed to me (his public persona anyway) to be someone who was infinitely “comfortable in his skin” because he seemed to just be himself, no matter what that looked like, from paisley suits to Afros, the man morphed from one fabulous creature to the next and though Madonna has done the same thing Prince always seemed like this was just who he was, Madonna always seems like she is wearing a costume, whereas Prince seemed to be totally himself through and through. Like I said maybe this wasn’t really the case, maybe he threw himself into a panic over who he should be at any given moment. Also, I had a pink and green paisley suit (pants and jacket) that my mom gave me for Christmas when I was 16 or 17 and I wore the HELL out of that thing and looked magnificent.

As I am prone to do, this post became less about Prince and more about trying to embrace the parts of myself that I don’t like and if not loving them then at least accepting them.As I mentioned just a few sentences up, I’m pretty okay with my exterior. I have a hard time making peace with my interior, I’m not sure how people with bipolar disorder LOVE living in a world that includes simultaneously feeling all of the feelings and hating myself for feeling all of the feelings, becoming drawn into the minutiae of almost every issue in my life, figuring out what my”triggers” (events that may possibly contribute to, in my case, a quick descent into major depression) are and realizing I needed to remove both the Facebook and Twitter apps from my phone for my own emotional well-being, even though I enjoyed both of those things, it’s too easy to pop onto either one and poke around and  remind myself how horrible I am because everybody else in the world seemingly has this life thing on lock and I can’t do anything without either becoming mildly depressed, on a good day, or suicidal, on a bad one (and there are bad ones still, though not as many as there were before starting medication). Becoming obsessed with people who want anything but for me to be obsessed with them, knowing I become overwhelmed very easily and needing to get 8 hours of sleep or I will become especially overwhelmed and possibly not be able to even function.

The above is my bipolar life, I understand it’s different for everybody. I’m not disclosing all of this because I want to make myself out to be a victim. I just do not know how to begin to wrap my head and arms around all of this and love it. The curse of being painfully introspective is that I know,  sure, I’m hard to deal with sometimes, but the payoff is nothing special, so there’s that.

ridiculous

I am fortunate that I have a huge support system, though I feel guilty about that, guilt, the gift that I wish would die in a fire, I seem to carry a piece of it with me everywhere for a myriad of reasons. Just know that if you become my friend, at some point you will have to talk me down off a metaphorical, if not literal ledge. I’m afraid that people will get sick of that pretty quickly, but on the other hand, I couldn’t blame them if they did. I annoy the hell out of myself.

MAN, I can brighten up a blog quickly. I’m reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and so far, I’m really liking it. I always thought that I was fine with being imperfect, but I think I just meant my exterior. My interior imperfections are on a whole other level and that level is the 200th floor where snakes and clowns are sold(my version of hell).

imperfection

I hope soon to write about my return to comedy and accepting myself for the messed up but desperately trying to be less messed up person that I am. ALSO, I really wish I still had that paisley suit.

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

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.

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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.

You Say Narcissist Like It’s a BAD Thing

25 Feb

This morning The Huffington Post called me a narcissist. They might not have called me out by name, but they might as well have. It’s like they have been following my blog and wanted to let me know exactly how they feel about me.

I know many of you will not click the link above and read the entire article, so allow me to condense it for you.  Narcissists don’t take to aging well. They (we) feel a disproportionate amount of sadness when we realize we are not receiving the same attention we once received in our youth. We may do things like get a lot of plastic surgery to try to convince people that we are actually still attractive, or we may try to garner attention by, say, trying something we have always wanted to try, like stand-up comedy or something. Okay, they don’t SAY that, but it is there, between the lines.

Per the article, these are the 5 surefire signs that I am a narcissist

  1. Believing that you’re better than others
  2. Fantasizing about power, success and attractiveness
  3. Exaggerating your achievements or talents
  4. Expecting constant praise and admiration
  5. Believing that you’re special and acting accordingly

What I find interesting, actually I find MANY things interesting about this article, is that there seems to be a very fine line between self-confidence and narcissism.   I teeter on the line between feeling like I deserve anything at all to feeling like I deserve everything. It’s crazy-making and something I work on constantly to obtain balance, but I didn’t know it made me a narcissist.

The second trait listed above really puzzles me because isn’t this what we are TAUGHT to do? Even my new-age hippie vision board is really just a bunch of pictures of things I fantasize about so that I can manifest my own destiny or some such bullshit (and yes, I have a vision board. I’m allowed to call it bullshit).

oscar

I am writing this tongue in cheek of course. I don’t think I am a true narcissist, but, and the article fails to mention this, each and every one of us has to have a bit of narcissism for our own self-preservation.  When this kind of thing is written in a flowery script with a pretty background, it’s inspirational. When it’s on the list of the traits of a narcissist, it’s scary.

I have never been one for labels or boxes, but I do believe that in the realm of psychology labels have their place. The thing about that article, and many like it, is it sort of spews all this information out then leaves it there for public consumption for all of us to diagnose ourselves. I try to stay away from WEB MD when I have a stomach ache so that I don’t end up convincing myself that I have a tumor.  I imagine I should probably stay away from articles like this one for the same reason.

I wonder, does the fact that I think this applies to me MAKE me a narcissist or would I be more of a narcissist if I read the article but saw none of myself  in it?

Enjoy this humorous video that totally applies to both this post and my life.

Who’s Funny? I AM, DAMMIT

12 Feb

I’m tough. I AM tough, dammit.  I have lived through many hours of unproductive labor, two C-Sections,  open heart surgery, a whole lot of other surgeries, personal attacks, multiple broken hearts, and sometimes people on the internet call me names, and yet, I live. I lived through all of it.  Some would say I’m worse for the wear but I don’t think I agree with that.  I am definitely scarred, literally and figuratively, but dammit, I’m here and I’m tough.

YET…I am not tough ENOUGH.  I know this about myself. I get my feelings hurt and take things to heart more than I should. Not ALL the time, but recently I was reminded just how thin my skin really is, and how I absolutely HAVE to work on just…for lack of a less awesome term…not giving a fuck sometimes.

Not long ago, I met someone cool and I INSTANTLY wanted to be his best friend. His BFF. I thought he was funny, he thought I was funny, and we talked all night the first time we met. Seriously all night, and it was wonderful. I felt like I might have found a really good friend who would be around forever. He reminded me of my Brett.  We clicked instantly and had the same sense of humor.  We talked a lot over the next few days but I could tell something was just off and the day before  we had planned to spend together working on my comedy material and eating pizza, he blew me off.  Something came up. It was an abrupt turn around from where we were a few days before.

To say I was cool about the whole thing would be a lie. I came in like a wrecking ball and if he was sort of on the line about my sanity, I sent him enough texts trying to explain why I was so hurt about being blown off that by the time I was finished, I have no doubt he had firmly crossed that line into CrazyAmyLand.  I KNEW this, yet I could not stop. I really wanted to explain, and I really wanted to still be his friend, and I really wanted to just turn the clock back. This was in the span of a WEEK you guys. A WEEK.

crazy

I could see he was reading all of my texts, yet he was not responding,  and why would he?  He doesn’t know me that well and he doesn’t know that I am in fact, not insane. So now I’m in that awesome place where I feel so stupid for my actions, and lack of impulse control, and sad that someone I thought was cool does not feel the same about me.

The thing is, he’s not my Brett. Nobody will ever be my Brett, and I can’t forge a friendship with someone in a week that is anything like the friendship I had with Brett that we nurtured for almost 30 years. It’s not possible, and it’s silly to try.  It’s not silly of me to miss Brett, and I do every day, but it is silly to try to replace him.

Even when I was in the middle of Bad ChoiceaPalooza 2014,  I knew part of my motivation was that I desperately needed him to think I was funny, because I thought he was.  For any of you who don’t understand that, let me try to explain. Making people laugh has been my goal, my defense mechanism, my way to endear people to me, my entire life.  Considering I contacted this guy because he is a working comedian in town, and one I found funny, I felt like if he didn’t think I was funny then I wasn’t. It. Is. NUTS.  This is called having very little self-esteem and faith in the fact that I AM funny and that I CAN get up on a stage and make people laugh and that I don’t need anybody’s approval or help.

When I’m up on stage I need to be prepared for whatever happens, including hecklers, or drunks, or drunk hecklers.  I can’t let them shake me. At this point I plan to agree with whatever negative thing is said about me when I’m on stage. “Get off the stage, you SUCK” would be met with “I know, I really do”. I don’t know if this will work but it’s all I’ve got right now.

I wish a thick skin was something I could just purchase on ETSY, but I’m afraid it is something I will have to work on myself. I have made friends with my self-destructive streak, I have sat down with my broken hearts and made peace, now it is time to KNOW I am funny and that I have nothing to fear on that stage.  Learning the subtle nuances between being passionate and not closed as far as my emotions are concerned and going crazy and having no impulse control is a lifelong battle, I’m afraid. For NOW, getting myself up on a stage and conquering that fear is where my main focus lies.

owl

The F Word. No, Not That One

29 Jan
fat
adjective
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.

snow

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

J. A. Allen

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