Monday, March 25, 2013

The big time

This week, a high school friend posted a link on my wall of this gorgeous plus size woman in a bikini.  She was just like me.  Over 200 pounds, gall bladder scars, stretch marks, within a cup size or two of my prodigious hooters.  I look at her body and see only beauty and a flatter stomach than I could ever dream of, but for her, showing her body was a very big deal.  Just like it was for me

Except that she’s already kind of famous, so her post got picked up by Huffington Post, and then talked about around the world.  Big girls in bikinis are suddenly news.  Oh, hello, envy, how nice to see you.  Hi, slight tinge of bitterness, yes, yes, you did do this a year and a half ago and it was not picked up by the Huffington Post.  I know.  Shhhh.  Simmer down.

So, I did what any self-respecting blogger would do.  I stalked researched the hell out of her.  Turns out that she is effing awesome.  Her name is Brittany Gibbons.  She’s funny and real.  She doesn't like to wear a bra.  She reads smut and uses the word fupa in her blog.  OK, the more I read, the more I love this woman.  I want to be her new stalkery best friend.  (OMG you guys, she accepted my facebook friend request.)  She started an online magazine called Curvy Girl Guide. She appeared on Good Morning America in a bathing suit (one-piece at the time).  Her rationale for doing it was "Be the change you wish to see in the world," the same motto I have on a sticker on the driver's side door of my minivan so that I am reminded every single time I get in the car.  She did a TED talk in which she stripped down to a bathing suit on stage.  I love her.  Here’s the other thing I learned while stalking her, both from her TED talk and from an article written about her:

All of this attention she has gotten for showing her body has not been universally positive. 

People give her shit about her body.  People say that she is promoting an unhealthy lifestyle.  People call her fat and tell her they're surprised she managed to get a husband.  Two things.  One. Fuck those people.  Fuck them.  Two.  I’m really, really glad that’s not me. 

I posted my bikini photos, fully expecting that the 200 of my nearest and dearest friends would see them.  Instead, it was in the tens of thousands.  I still get hundreds of hits a week on that page.  My bikini adventure was a crazy wild ride for me given the small scale of my blog.  You know how many negative comments I got? 


One person, not even on my blog, but on BlogHer’s link to my blog on facebook, said that I was glorifying an unhealthy body size.  Hundreds or maybe thousands of people were inspired to love their bodies more, and lots of them told me so.  One person made me feel like I didn’t deserve to love mine.  But of course that one cut me.  Of course it did.  It was outweighed by the outpouring of support, but it takes a lot of positive messages to counterbalance one negative one. 

Here’s what I learned from this.  You need a thick skin to hit the big time, and I don’t have that.  I pretty much have the thinnest skin around.  I’m not ready for the big time.  I’m not ready to absorb negative comments as the price of increased exposure.  I find myself grateful that my bikini post was not the one picked up by HuffPo.  I’m glad that strangers are not criticizing my body and making incorrect assumptions about my health.  And hurting my feelings.

I’m intensely proud to be part of the body love revolution.  But I don’t need to be the poster girl.  I’m glad I’m not the poster girl.  And the girl who is the poster girl?  She’s awesome.  Go read her blog.  Especially this post.  And this one.  And this less funny but very real and honest one. And then if you want to laugh again after that last post, this one.  

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Leprechaun love/hate

One of the many, many shamrocks
strewn about my house. My daughter
insisted that I photograph this one.
Happy St. Patrick’s Day to my beautiful, talented, brilliant, discerning readers.  I raise a drink to you.  (Surely it’s 5pm somewhere on this, the day of drinking!)

Let’s talk about the damn Leprechaun. 

All I remember about St. Patty’s from when I was little was wearing green.  And if people wore orange, you pinched them.  Right?  Am I making that up?  Was that regional?  Anyway, I got older, and it became about beer, green dyed or otherwise.  Guinness, black and tans, or Baileys if you were a girl-drink-drunk.  Then I got older-older and just drank whisky.  Usually not Irish whisky.  Scotch, mostly, which would probably really piss off Irish people if they cared enough to care.  But my hubs is half Irish and he doesn't seem to care, so whatev.

But these days, apparently, my children have informed me that the night before St. Patty’s, you clean the house, and then while you’re sleeping, the Leprechaun comes.  And that little fucker fucks that shit up.  Knocks over furniture, takes cushions off the couch, dumps out all of the crayons.  

So basically Leprechauns are exactly like my children?  Except short and green and THEY DON’T EXIST SO I AM EXPECTED TO MESS UP MY OWN DAMN HOUSE?!  Excuse the barrage of bad language there.  But, seriously.  Mess up my own clean house?  Not cool.  Their teachers told them this.  Because one doesn't have kids yet and the other is a grandmother. 

Look, I love my kids’ teachers.  We totally lucked out.  But teachers, you see how effed up this is, right?  Do you realize how much work you have made for me?  If you want another sweet Target gift card at the end of the year instead of a picture frame shaped like an apple, you’d better put the kibosh on this Leprechaun thing.

So love/hate I said in the title.  Where’s the love?  Here’s the love.  My daughter was so excited for the Leprechaun to come that she wanted to bring him to her bed.  No really, here is a sign she made for him so he could find her bedroom and "sleep with her." 

"Dear leprechaun, come to my bedroom and sleep with me.
Right next to my bathroom."  

She left it on the floor in the hallway outside her room.  She also created this adorable vignette of green shit to make sure the little homewrecker felt welcome.  Including hand-drawn artwork, a rainbow collage, a green crayon, and a whoopee cushion.  Which is almost... almost... cute enough to inspire me to mess up my clean house. Almost.

Instead, I decided to use distraction to minimize the mess.  A few chairs knocked down.  Couch cushions still on the couch.  No crayons dumped out.  And chocolate.  Green M&Ms pilfered from the M&M bag.  Gold coins.  Some letters to the kids and a trail of green sanding sugar.  Nothing like green M&Ms for breakfast to soften the blow of a less mischievous Leprechaun than average.  

And the kids helped clean the house last night.  

Pam – 1.  Leprechaun – 0. 

OK, so that was the blog entry I had completed and polished up, which is to say I read it over once and changed two typos.  Yeah, I wrote this last night in the past tense AS IF it were this morning.  Crazy, right?  I feel like I'm totally breaking the fourth wall here.  Yeah, I do that.  I write in the past tense about shit that hasn't happened yet.  I hope that doesn't mess up this honesty thing we have going between us.  It's all about time management and the fact that I'm funnier after a glass or two of wine.  At least in my own mind.

So here's what happened after I finished this entry.  My son had a major meltdown over wanting this Fire Mario hat because he was playing a Mario game with Fire Mario in it.  Who is Fire Mario?  You don't care. Don't worry about it.  Pray that you never need that depth of Mario-verse knowledge.  We let the kiddos stay up late on weekends, so he was extra tired and crabby.  He had a full scale tantrum, throwing himself at the ground, crying, wailing.  Not hitting, so that's awesome.  Here's the thing.  This Fire Mario hat is in our house, and he knows it.  It's in the "marble present" stash, a stash of gifts that we use to bribe our kids encourage good behavior.  

Knowing it was in the house and that my strength of will was the only thing keeping it off his head was incredibly difficult for him.  I talked him about halfway down, reminding him of all of the ways he could earn marbles to get the hat sooner, and then reminded him that the (%$#& *%&@ %&#@!) Leprechaun was coming and might leave him some treats in the morning, hoping that the prospect of treats and a stupid damn Leprechaun messing up my clean house would be enough to cheer him up.

And then he had the brilliant idea to leave the Leprechaun a note telling him to sneak into our master bathroom and get him the hat for free.  Well played, Leprechaun, well played.

My son doesn't particularly like writing, and generally avoids it like the plague.  Yet, here he is, buckled down to write the Leprechaun a note.

So now both of my kids have notes on the floor outside their bedrooms.  One seeking a bed partner, and the other seeking instant gratification.  Here is his note:
"Dear Leprechaun, I want you to go in Mom's bathroom and find the
fire Mario hat and put it in my bedroom."

Pam – 1.  Leprechaun – 1. We'll call it a draw... this year.  Asshole.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The door that shall ever remain closed to my husband

No, not the door you’re thinking.  Not the “back door.”  I’m talking about the bathroom door. 

A week or two ago, Baby Sideburns posted on her facebook page clues that one has been married a long time.  By the way, if you have kids and you’re not following Baby Sideburns, what are you waiting for?  She is the most awesomely funny mommy blogger ever.  Once, I would have aspired to be her, back when I thought I would be a humor blogger.  But then I started blogging and realized I’m way more serious and earnest than I ever would have imagined.  Who knew?  Anyway, her list included things like “Your maiden name starts to sound weird to you.”  (Yes. And also the word "maiden."  We really still call it that, huh?)  “You can say words like vagina to your husband without flinching.”  (Um, I can pretty much say vagina to almost anyone without flinching.)  “You’ll ask him to buy tampons for you.”  (Husbands shop?)   

The comments thread though, that was where the magic happened.  Hundreds of women proceeded to talk about dropping a deuce in front of their man, or hanging out putting on their makeup or showering while their hairier half dropped his kids off at the pool. 

No.  Just no.

As I shuddered inwardly at the idea of my hubby coming in to shower and shave while I did the third S, I began to wonder if maybe I’m just weird and repressed.  I grew up in a family of six with one bathroom.  It was not at all uncommon to have someone pee in the tub in desperation while someone else leisurely flipped through a Reader’s Digest on the toilet.  Oh, while a third person washed their face in the sink, and someone else did hair or makeup.  All within like three feet of each other.  That totally happened.  Other than the Ghostbusters “cross the streams” jokes when two or three dudes were peeing at the same time, it kind of sucked.  I was never really comfortable with it, but if you waited to do your (80’s South Jersey Aqua-netted) hair until no one was taking a crap, you might have had to go to school without a magnificent tower of bangs to show how cool you were.  If you waited to pee until the toilet was free, you might have had to go in the backyard on a tree, like your brothers routinely did. 

It was forced extreme intimacy and I never liked it.  So maybe when I moved out, I went too far the other way.  I’ll pee in front of someone, but that’s it.  The other stuff is private.  I basically want no one watching me.  And I have no interest whatsoever in watching anyone else.  Now that my kids can (mostly) wipe their own butts, I’m pretty much hoping I never have to deal with or in any way experience anyone else’s excrement ever again.  If it came down to it, would I caretake my husband or kids or anyone else I loved? Of course I would.  If I couldn’t afford to pay someone else to do it. 

But here were these hundreds of women talking about how they have great conversations with their man while hanging out on the toilet.  Was I crazy?  Only one way to know… I asked my sister and my best friend.   One has an open door policy.  The other doesn’t.  My friend then proceeded to ask pretty much everyone she knew, which is so awesome.  I just imagine each of her friends getting a text: “Do you guys crap with the door open?”  I really know how to start a conversation, huh?  Yeah, I’m a big hit at parties. 

So it turns out it’s pretty mixed.  Some do, some don’t, lots mostly don’t, but are OK with someone coming in to give them a roll of TP or whatever.  I’m on the extreme end.  No TP transfers even.  I have found myself trapped exactly twice in my ten year marriage, and both times he knew to stay behind the door and just throw in a roll.  Good husband.  Don’t watch me.  And don’t breathe until the door is shut again.  Not that I’m, like, extra gross or whatever.  My crap is just the normal amount of gross.  But that’s plenty gross enough for me.

I guess I’m kind of a proponent of maintaining a certain amount of mystery.  I just find someone more appealing if I have not recently experienced the sight, sound, or smell of their poop.  I’m not a blushing newlywed.  I just think some things are private.  Maybe it’s a luxury because we have two bathrooms in close proximity.  He often wants to shower when I am having my “caffeine response,” as it were.  So I use the hall bathroom if I know he needs to get ready for work soon. 

There is a part of me that wonders if I am missing out on the magic of complete open-door intimacy.  And then I think about having to smell his crap while I’m brushing my teeth, and I’m like, no, no, I’m good with it.  

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Calories that totally don’t count

In general, I make thoughtful and intelligent food choices.  I cook from scratch with whole foods, and lots of fruits and veggies.  Sometimes we make homemade pizza, but then the next day, the meal plan compensates with fish and a salad.  But over the winter, the number on the scale has crept up a little and the waistband of my jeans has crept ever-so-slightly deeper into my skin.  How can this be?  I am meal planning so thoughtfully…

Except, you know, for the loopholes.  Some calories don’t count.  Here are just a few of those calories:

  • Food eaten off your children’s plates.  Because you wouldn't want to waste it.
  • Broken cookies or chips.  Everyone knows that crumbs are not caloric.
  • Food tasted while cooking.  It’s important to sample all of your ingredients.  Especially the cheese. 
  • Food eaten during major storms or when the power is out, especially if it is being eaten to save it from going bad.  (Or if it is being eaten because you don’t have internet or TV.)
  • Birthday cake.  Zero calories.
  • Road trip food.  Any road trip longer than five hours demands kettle chips and individually wrapped pie and pizza-flavored pretzel combos and a fourthmeal Italian sub from Wawa at midnight. 
  • Wine.  Obviously the calories in wine don’t count.  The calories in other drinks, like margaritas, are slightly more complicated.  If you order a margarita at a restaurant, it has a shit-ton of calories.  But if you’re at someone’s house and they hand you a margarita, all of the calories fall out. 
  • Similarly, food consumed when wine or other mood-altering substances have rendered you unable to make good food choices have considerably fewer calories than they would if you chose them in the light of day.  Like, say, a plate of nachos. 
  • Food eaten to combat ennui or soothe a broken heart.  Or to help a friend combat ennui or soothe a broken heart.
  • Naughty foods wrapped around healthy foods.  For example, if you were to make and eat fresh figs with bacon and blue cheese, broiled lightly, and then drizzled with balsamic reduction, the cheese and bacon are magically transformed into fruit.
  • Also bacon.  Just in general.
  • Holidays.  Thanksgiving pie. Christmas cookies. Traditional Arbor Day Doritos.
  • Seasonally available food.  Pumpkin lattes.  Stauffer’s chocolate star cookies.  Reese’s eggs.
  • Leftovers.  Naughty food choices only count once.  So you ordered chicken parmesan or fettuccine Alfredo at a restaurant in a moment of weakness, and a veritable trough of food arrived?  It’s OK.  Just eat a reasonable portion.  And then eat the rest for the next two days.  The leftovers totally don’t count.
  • Food eaten on really good workout days.  If you had a good workout, it was probably enough to counteract that bag of chips.  And the burger too.  Because your muscles must need the protein.
  • Regional foods when in that region.  Beignets.  Poutine.  Philly cheese steaks. New York pizza.
  • Food eaten after midnight, because if you are up that late, your body is surely burning more calories than it would be if you were sleeping.  Even if you’re just on the couch watching back episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. 
  • Food from a buffet.  Because you want to get your money’s worth.
  • Food that you virtuously declined, but then someone came and ate right next to you and you smelled it and couldn't help yourself.

Any to add?  Comment away!