Tag Archives: observation

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.

 

0 Shades of Grey

7 Feb

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

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

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

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

grey

Middle-aged Woman; Interrupted

18 Oct

you-are-not-your-mental-illness

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

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

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

1 (800) 273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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

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

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.

Happy Galentine’s Day AND Happy Valentine’s Day

13 Feb

Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and today is, from what I understand, Galentine’s Day.  What, prey tell is Galentine’s Day? Galentine’s Day is from an episode of “Parks and Recreation”, a show starring the very talented and hilarious Amy Poehler as well as an equally talented and hilarious supporting cast including Nick Offerman (and his EPIC mustache), Aubrey Plaza, Aziz Ansari,  Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, and Rob Lowe. See? Why aren’t more people watching this show? Including me actually since I don’t watch it on the regular either. I know, I suck, but in my defense I just now figured out how to program my DVR.

Anyway, Galentine’s Day is a day invented by Amy Poehler’s character Leslie Knope,  to celebrate the women in your life. It doesn’t matter if your gal-pals are married or otherwise attached, Galentine’s day is a day to let the gals in your life know that you love and appreciate them. Here is what Leslie Knope herself has to say about the day –

What’s Galentine’s Day? Oh, it’s only the best day of the year. Every February 13th, my lady friends and I leave our husbands and our boyfriends at home, and we just come and kick it, breakfast-style. Ladies celebrating ladies. It’s like Lillith Fair, minus the angst. Plus frittatas.

Sounds like fun! I am extremely fortunate to have an excellent support system of women near and far that I call friends. Some are family members, some have been my friend for over 30 years, some for not that long, some I haven’t even met in person but thanks to social media we have become friends. I share in their lives and they share in mine. They are my biggest cheerleaders and I know when I need anything, they are there. We have cried together, we have laughed together, we have gotten outraged together over my seemingly endless bad luck regarding relationships, and we have nervously laughed at my sometimes terrible decisions, because if WE can’t laugh about not being able to stop texting someone who clearly doesn’t want to be contacted simply because I think I thought of the PERFECT way to explain why I sent so many texts to him BEFORE, then who can?

So to my gal pals I say Happy Galentine’s Day! I love each and every one of you and I thank you for being there for me.

galentines

As for Valentine’s Day, I grew up with a father who felt it was important to give his daughters Valentine’s presents and/or candy and/or flowers and because of him, the day is much LESS about having a romantic relationship than it is to shower those you love with love, and a balloon or little box of Scooby Doo bubblegum balls (spoiler alert, that’s what my children are getting from me this year).

I have my fair share of stories of Valentine’s Day plans that went terribly awry. My personal favorite is when I was dating someone and we had plans for him to come to my house for dinner, this was when I was in my 20’s so when I say “my house” I really mean a crappy studio apartment. I searched all day for a heart-shaped baking pan and I made a delicious yellow cake and topped it with whipped cream and strawberries. Rick never showed up that night or called until the next day.  I don’t remember why he couldn’t come over, but I do remember that over the course of about 6 hours while waiting for him, I ate that entire cake with a fine white wine (just guessing since I don’t remember but it was probably from a box).

I’m not involved in a romantic relationship this Valentine’s Day, BUT I can guarantee you, I will feel loved and I will show love. I will be spending the day with my two favorite Valentines, my kids, and I will tell them that I love them, just as I do every day, and I will hug them a little tighter than usual and I will tell them that no matter what, their mom will always be their Valentine, and this will creep them out immensely, but hopefully when they are older they will carry on the tradition of looking at Valentine’s day as a day to show appreciation and love to everyone just a little more than they do every day, and that being single on Valentine’s Day is not a big deal.

And I may or may not, just for old time’s sake, eat a whole cake with some wine.

heart-shaped-cake

 

 

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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