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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.

The OTHER other “F” word….Feminist

10 Mar

I found this in my drafts from September, 2014,  I suppose I never finished it before because I had a stroke a few weeks later, and since I accidentally deleted a very long post about my health bullshit (that had some delightful moments of levity as well) and I’m sad about that, I thought I would check this out and see what it’s all about and it turns out, I like it and I’m publishing it, dammit.

A couple of weeks ago(now years)  I made a HUGE mistake. One that I regret to this day.  I made a comment on the internet about feminism. I didn’t think it was an especially explosive or derisive comment, but for days, DAYS, I was notified of people telling me they disagreed with my comment, or agreed with it, or people felt the need to let me know that my definition of feminism was actually wrong.  As if in a nightmare, I could not figure out how to turn off notifications for this post. It was hell. HELL I tell you.

 

feminist

Okay, that might be a little over dramatic. It was a pain in the butt for a few days, but it was not hell. The comment was made in response to what a comedian on Facebook posted about Beyonce performing in front of the word FEMINIST at the VMA’s.  Her post was, and I am paraphrasing because for the love of all that is good and holy I don’t have a desire to go back and look at it to get it verbatim,  Beyonce dancing around in front of the word feminist makes her as much a feminist as me performing in front of the word scientist makes me a scientist, not at all.  My, what I thought was benign comment regarding this status post update was something along the lines of  “when I was growing up, my mom, who was a business owner and also the room parent for practically every class I was in throughout school, taught me that feminism is the notion that women should be paid equally, and it is about equality. It’s also about the notion that a woman can choose to express herself in any way she damn well pleases.” That’s it.  What’s funny is I’m not even a huge fan of Beyonce (bracing for the Beygency to burst in any second). I respect her as an artist, and for the amazing things she has accomplished in her life and career, and that child of hers and Jay Z’s is just too cute, but I’m not a rabid fan who will defend any and everything she does. Not by a long shot.

According to some of the comments I received (when I was still reading them and trying to respond to them in a civil way) Beyonce cannot be a feminist because she –

Is a wife and a mother, and needs to start acting and dressing like one
Doesn’t have many female friends
Didn’t defend her sister during ElevatorGate 2014

Lets Jay Z “PIMP HER OUT”
Has songs that are not especially about women

The comments above anger me, and the fact that they were made by other women, angers me even more.   I am not one to subscribe to the whole sisterhood over, um, blisterhood (that’s wrong, isn’t it? What is it…chicks over dicks? That works) thing that is reflected in the comments above with the comment that Bey can’t be a feminist because she doesn’t have many female friends, so I don’t want to perpetuate that notion, but for women to not recognize that the very crux of feminism MEANS that Beyonce can make her own decisions about what she wears, or how she dances, breaks my heart a little. Don’t get me started on just what the hell it means to ACT AND DRESS like a wife and mother. I have a very close friend who has beautiful tattoos all over her body, and she is a grandmother, twice over. (three times now) She often is met with disapproval because she doesn’t fit the definition of how a mother should look, but who makes those rules? Women bashing women over how they dress or dance or choose to express themselves just disheartens me. And it’s dumb. Very dumb. Tend your own garden, in other words, you worry about you, don’t want tattoos, don’t get any, but respect the fact that other people might not think the same way as you, and that’s okay, hell, it’s glorious, imagine how dull it would be if everyone thought and dressed and looked exactly the same.

I think there is confusion about what the word FEMINIST even means. I think it’s got a bad rap, and people like Katy Perry stating “I’m not a feminist, but I do believe in the strength of women” doesn’t help. What is so scary about being called a feminist, Katy? All it means is you are free to cover yourself in candy and sing like a mythical creature inhaling helium if you want to. You get to make that choice, and be on birth control, and do what you want to do. You are a strong woman, and you are a feminist, and it’s not scary and it’s okay.

Feminist women can choose to get married and have children. Feminist women can choose to not get married and have children. Feminist women can choose to get married and not have children. Feminist women can choose to work outside the home. Feminist women can choose to work as homemakers inside the home. The combinations go on and on and on. OH and men can be feminists too! If men think women deserve to make the same amount of money in the same position that men make then guess what? FEMINIST. Tend your own garden

There is no set uniform or behavior that one must conform to to be a mother. You don’t have to have a certain number of female friends to be a feminist. You don’t have to defend your sister’s actions. You can sing about whatever the hell you want to sing about including having sex with your husband in a limousine.

And here it is. Not scary. If you embrace this word I promise,  it doesn’t come with comfortable shoes and a sack cloth to wear as part of a uniform. It just means this –

fem·i·nism
ˈfeməˌnizəm
noun
noun: feminism
the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men
Women helping women is a beautiful thing, but I don’t think there’s a special place in hell for ones who don’t, mainly because I don’t believe in hell at all. Let’s be nice to each other, let’s not be scared of F words, any of them, For instance, I’m a fucking fat feminist https://momticks.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/the-f-word-no-not-that-one/I’m okay with all of those words.

 

Handi-Ramp Non-slip Treads, Easy to Install and Affordable Solution to A Common Occurence

2 Aug

I’m clumsy, I’ve always been clumsy, I can’t blame my clumsiness on the stroke, though I can blame the fact that I bruise much easier since I’ve been taking blood thinners for the last 5 years and will have to for the rest of my life.I can also blame this guy, carmsCaramel, our giant, super strong pit mix who more than once has accidentally knocked me over. Our house has a wooden deck on the back and we stand there and put Caramel on his lead and watch him run around in the back yard and get exercise and do his business. The wooden deck gets very slippery when it’s wet and if you know anything about Florida where we live, you know, it rains every afternoon in the summer.

Did you know?

 

  • Slips and falls account for over 20,000 deaths per year (Source: Center for Disease Control)
  • Injuries from falls are the most common cause of emergency room visits (Source: National Safety Council)
  • 59% of general liability claims are from slip, trip and fall accidents (Source: CNA Insurance)
  • Slips and falls are the 7th leading cause of death in the U.S. (Source: National Safety Council)
  • Slips and falls kill 5 times as many people as the flu each year (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics)

You probably know of an area in or around your home, or somewhere in public, where people tend to slip and fall.  The potential injuries can cause harm to someone you care about and can put you and your family at risk of litigation.  There’s an easy, low-cost, attractive solution — Handi-Treads, a safety product produced by Handi-Ramp.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sample non-slip treads from https://www.handiramp.com/stairtreads/ I found these these things  very easy to install, feel good on bare feet and work very well. They are also available from  Amazon.com.

Here are a few facts about Handi- Treads non-slip treads.

 

 

Handitread

WHAT are Handi-Treads?

  • Raised button surface grips on to your shoe or foot and provides instant traction
  • Lightweight, attractive, cost-effective, install in seconds
  • More durable than non-slip tape and grip pant
  • Will not need replacement like other options
  • Won’t rust or corrode
  • Use inside or out
  • Gentle on feet
  • Comes in variety of colors

 

WHERE can Handi-Treads be used?

  • Decks
  • Wood and cement ramps
  • Interior wood steps
  • Exterior wood and cement steps
  • Docks and piers

If you are reading this and have a place at your house or place of business where you find yourself slipping, order Handi-Treads today and use this special code to save 10% on your order – BLOG2015.

NoSlipStairGraphic

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.

 

Male Victims of Sexual Abuse are not “LUCKY”

9 Apr

boys

 

I’ve never been a huge fan of the saying “boys will be boys”.  I think that saying dismisses actions and behavior from boys that might not necessarily need to be dismissed. I can’t help but think of the Steubenville rape case, and how the actions of the boys, the rapists, were largely dismissed because they were athletes, or because the girl was “asking for it” because she was intoxicated, or for whatever reason. This reeks of this “boys will be boys” mentality, and in my opinion, it fuels rape culture.

I also think saying “boys will be boys” gives the impression that girls are to be held to a different standard of behavior than boys.  I was a rambunctious and rowdy kid. I built forts, played with Star Wars toys, and climbed a hell of a lot of trees. My parents were extremely good about nurturing the child I was, rather than trying to make me fit and stay into one box labeled “girl”.  I think the saying is just another double standard, and I really dislike double standards. A lot.

I have written about the double standard of women being slut-shamed and how it’s very easy to fall into the seemingly socially acceptable habit of  labeling a woman a “slut” or somehow otherwise devaluing her when she chooses to have sex with a lot of people, or before knowing someone for some unknown amount of time before she has sex with them, or for whatever reason someone wants to honestly. “Slut” seems to be the go to insult for many people, like the absolute worst thing a woman can be is one who has indiscriminate sex, or close to absolute worst thing. It seems the absolute worst would be calling a woman a “fat slut”, but that is well-covered territory in this blog.

Double standards are not only annoying, they are also dangerous.  We socialize our little boys to believe that they are practically machines when it comes to sex. They want it all the time, with anyone, and they are not allowed to NOT want it. We socialize our little girls to believe that their sexuality is something to be treasured and prized and must be given with extreme caution and discretion.

I find this difference in how we socialize our children disturbing, perhaps because I am the mother of two boys. I want them to know that they too are allowed to say no and that they can be raped and violated, even though they are boys (this last part seems like it shouldn’t be necessary, but there are some people who think boys cannot be raped). I think telling them otherwise perpetuates the myth that simply because they have a penis they must want sex all the time, and they have a right to expect it, and they are not allowed to say no, and they are certainly not allowed to tell someone that they were violated or coerced into having sex when they didn’t want to.

Bill Maher, comedian and host of HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher,  seems to feel the need to mock the research written about in this Time article that states that “nearly half of young men say they’ve had unwanted sex.”  This mock public service announcement  perpetuates the stereotype that men, and boys, simply because they are men and boys, have no right to say no to sexual advances, that there is no such thing as coercing a man into having sex, and if a man or boy tries to rebuke unwanted sexual advances, the video has this piece of advice for them “boo fucking hoo, you fucking pussies. Grow a pair”.

Hey, I get satire. I have written satire. I understand the set up and delivery. I understand the furor over the whole #CancelColbert  thing (admittedly the piece this links to is about hashtag activism in general, but I found it fascinating AND relevant, so I linked it) because the tweet in question was largely taken out of context because the person who wrote the tweet wrote it as if everybody in the world, or at least everyone with a twitter account, had seen the bit that aired on the show that the tweet referenced. Taken out of context, the tweet DOES sound totally offensive.

The thing is, and I may be wrong, but I don’t think there is any other set up to this video, besides Maher acting like this is a real PSA when introducing the clip. This piece doesn’t feel like it’s mocking what I think should be mocked, the belief that this is how society treats boys who have been in this situation.  It seems like it is mocking the research itself, and the very idea that a person of the male persuasion would ever have the audacity to turn down sex or admit to those times when they felt like they were coerced into having sex.

noun: satire
  1. the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

I understand that males and females are different, but socializing our little boys to think that they must be ready and willing for sex at any time with practically anyone is harmful.  I think we would all agree that pedophilia is a disgusting thing, yet this story about Chris Brown “losing his virginity” when he was 8 years old to a girl who was 14 or 15 is insane and one that has not gotten a lot of attention for WHATEVER reason.  Does the public not care because Chris Brown is not a very likeable celebrity or is it because this scenario is just not as interesting as it would be if it was 8-year old Christina Brown and the 14 or 15-year-old was a boy? As it stands, I have a little more empathy with Chris Brown’s issues as an adult knowing that he was molested as a child, and yes, molested, not lost his virginity, but molested. Granted,  molested by another child, but I can almost guarantee that neither Chris Brown nor the young woman who molested him received any therapy or intervention of any kind. We know how Chris Brown turned out. Again, not an excuse, but perhaps insight.

I think boys need to be told about their bodies and explained that their penis becoming erect is a physiologic reaction and can happen even in traumatic or painful situations. I think, just like girls, they need to be told about sex and the consequences involved, including STD’s and pregnancy, and how females may carry the baby but that does not absolve them from any responsibility, and I also think we need to tell boys about consensual sex, consensual on both sides, and that they are allowed to say no if they want to and we need to stop perpetuating the ridiculous crap in the above video. We need to provide a culture for all children that makes them feel safe and empowered and as of right now, we are not doing that.

I’m taking this right from the website, 1 in 6, which references that 1 in 6 men have experienced unwanted or abusive sexual relations before the age of 18.  For more details, visit the site.

Before addressing the myths, let’s review some key facts:

  1. Boys and men can be sexually used or abused, and it has nothing to do with how masculine they are.
  2. If a boy liked the attention he was getting, or got sexually aroused during abuse, or even sometimes wanted the attention or sexual contact, this does not mean he wanted or liked being manipulated or abused, or that any part of what happened, in any way, was his responsibility or fault.
  3. Sexual abuse harms boys and girls in ways that are similar and different, but equally harmful.
  4. The sexual abuse of boys has nothing to do with an abuser’s sexual orientation.
  5. A boy abused by a male is not necessarily gay, nor was he abused because he’s gay, nor can the abuse make him gay.
  6. Girls and women can sexually abuse boys. The boys are not “lucky,” but exploited and harmed.
  7. Most boys who are sexually abused will not go on to sexually abuse others.

I spent some time researching Bill Maher, specifically this Wikiquote page. I’m perfectly okay with him having his opinions, I just totally disagree with some of them, and while Bill Maher has no children, I will do my best to teach my boys that they are valuable on many levels and they can be in charge of their sexuality AND be REAL MEN.

 

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

What the Hell? Designer Shoe Edition

14 Mar

I “get” high fashion. Of course I do. Have you seen my closet? It is a veritable cornucopia of the latest styles from, um, well, I’ve got pants and shirts. Hey,  I’ve got several wrap dresses, those are classic and they just had a birthday yesterday.  Thanks Diane von Furstenberg for creating a delightful and classic silhouette.

dvf

Okay, so I don’t “get” high fashion, and more than likely I will never be able to afford it BUT, if I ever could, I cannot IMAGINE subjecting my feet to the hell that is some of these shoes that premiered recently at Fashion Week.

bolt shoesThese “Nuts and Bolts” shoes that are a part of the  Miu Miu Fall 2014 collection almost defy logic. So many questions. I am not opposed to the mixing of the soft and feminine shoe design and material with something industrial like bolts. I like that idea. I just hate these shoes. So much. I know I would bust my ass wearing them, but even if I COULD walk upright in them, I don’t think I would want to. I just don’t like them.

greenboot bolt shoes

Okay, these I could work as part of a steampunk Tinkerbell or something because I love me some dressup, but other than that, aside from Rihanna, Tilda Swinton, Katy Perry, or Lady GaGa being able to knock these out of the park,  I don’t know why these exist.

clear boot bolt shoes

 

FINALLY, I have been looking for a stylish, well maybe not stylish, but definitely overpriced, way to show off how much my feet sweat. THANK YOU MIU MIU.

 

These are from the Saint Laurent Fall 2014 collection and I have no idea how much they cost but I imagine it’s more than I make in several months. These are “what the hell”because I love them and I shall never have them. Life, so unfair.  Not only would I wear these in mgold bootsy upcoming yet-to-be-written Star Wars musical and cast myself in the role of a ballsy Ethel Merman style singing C-3PO, I would wear these with my beloved sweatshirt material skirt that has become my weekend uniform because it’s a skirt, dressier than pajama pants, so therefore I am always the most well-dressed person in the Wal-Mart, and these are PERFECT, because they would cover up most of my more than likely unshaven leg.  *FABULOUS, aisle 6, next to the Reese’s and condoms* (So wishfully thinking here. I have no need for condoms, yet always need Reese’s).

 

Saint Laurent is right in my wheelhouse with this collection. It’s like they took a peek inside my head and created shoes and boots that I would covet and forever pine for, but alas, never be able to own. Damn you, Saint Laurent.

When I was a kid, I took dance lessons. Dancing was not my thing. I liked the costumes and the fact that my dad took me out for hot fudge shoescakes after my class (a tradition I find hilariously adorable), but I did not like the actual, you know, dancing.  My sister took dance lessons too and she was an amazing dancer. I LOVED her dance shoes, and these very much look like character shoes that she wore when she was doing some saucy modern dance number (turns out I don’t know anything about dance terminology either). Trust me, these shoes hit me in a place deep down in my soul. I would wear these in my off off off off Broadway production of, A Cabaret Chorus Line in Chicago That Can’t Pay the Rent, an amalgamation of my favorite musicals, and I think it’s not unrealistic to say that I would turn in an off off off Broadway  award-winning performance. Let’s call the awards the Gilda’s, because I’m a big fan of Gilda Radner and the movie starring Rita Hayworth, and why the hell not, this is my blog.   Picture it, black tights, black long slouchy shirt perfectly falling off one shoulder, red lipstick, these shoes, the music, the mirror, and me, doing some version of the Carlton dance with extra finger snaps,  and less show-boating and splits and stuff, because really, I told you guys I’m a bad dancer, BUT, I look fantastic trying. YES I DO.

 

*shoe pictures courtesy of the fantastic website http://www.tomandlorenzo.com.

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.

J. A. Allen

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