Monday, February 8, 2016

No one wants to hear the truth in my heart

For the past year or so (maybe longer), I've made a conscious effort not to engage people of differing opinions. Living in Texas, that would occupy way too much of my time since I'm the odd woman out here and it doesn't actually change anyone's opinion. Actually, all it does is lead to nasty arguments, injured egos, uncomfortable group gatherings and the inability to only flip people off as they are walking away or under your desk and instead do it right to their smug, asshole faces.

I mean really, unless someone is being really ignorant and saying stuff about individual groups of people, I don't usually see the point.

But, I gotta say, it's getting harder and harder to just let the assholes speak and only mock them in my head.

Maybe it's because it's an election year and only me and like four other people in Texas aren't fan girling over Ted Cruz and Donald Trump.

Maybe it's because the religious zealots are taking their crazy, hate and prejudice to the next level all damn day long.

Maybe it's because no one else seems all that inclined to keep their opinions to themselves.

Or, maybe it's because I have to write a lot of personal development stuff (I'll give you a minute to let that sink in) for work and the one thing I come across over and over again is this idea that one key to finding happiness is speaking the truth in your heart. Who doesn't want to be happy?

Tonight alone (Yes, I know you are reading this Monday day. I don't blog my own stuff at work because that's not what they pay me the medium bucks to do. Work time should be used for actual work and kept separate from your personal side endeavors. So, I'm writing it Sunday night.), the truth in my heart sounded a lot like this:
  • Are you using that stick up your ass like a pole vault to propel you over the pearly gates?
  • The words coming out of your face are making me ashamed to be a human.
  • You do understand you do not play for nor coach either team playing in the Super Bowl, so your rage over how the game is (or is not) being played makes you sound like an imbecile.
  • President Obama going to a Mosque doesn't make him a terrorist or mean that he hates America. It means he actually understands what the Constitution means when it says freedom of religion. Unlike you. Moron.
  • I would like some freedom from your religion.
  • I remember how normal you were before you drank the Kool Aid. I miss that.
I've been carrying this little gem around in my heart since
I first saw it about three weeks ago and I find myself
saying it a lot throughout the day, even though I mostly
distrust everyone. I haven't posted it on Facebook
because I don't want to offend anyone. I'm
considerate like that.  
 I have to admit, I'd probably feel happier saying that stuff for about five minutes--until the Facebook or work department holy war erupted. Then the back and forth, flaring tempers and no one conceding until someone pulled their openly carried gun out of the holster on their hip and shot me and/or blocked me on Facebook would kind of get to be a beat down. And, in the end no one would be happy because they'd be too busy being mad and hating themselves for all the zingers they didn't think of until they walked away.

This? Is why I'm also suspect of personal development. Well, that and they let me write it. But mostly the happiness thing.

So, I guess I'll keep my truth in my heart where it belongs for the happiness of mankind*.

Because I'm a giver.

*This does not constitute a guarantee because sometimes my mouth gets away from me. So does my face and my rolly eyes.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

The good that has come from me being fat

The battle with my weight the last five years has been one the hardest, most frustrating and vexing fights of my life. When I used to think I was fat (man, do I wish I was still as fat as I used to think I was) and went through my eating disorder phases and countless diets, the one satisfying thing about all of it was that the weight management was the one thing in my life I had complete control over. I couldn't control the horrible things my parents did to me and each other. I couldn't control being a young, poor single mother. I couldn't control Grace's dad's inability to be a father. I couldn't control the need of a man who supposedly loved me to hit me. But, I could control the food I put in my mouth and the method I chose to keep the pounds off--even if it wasn't healthy.

Because it was so easy for me, I believed anyone could do it and if you didn't, well, you were choosing not to lose weight and that was because you didn't want to be skinny bad enough.

I was obviously a gigantic asshole.

Fast forward to when I first started packing on the pounds. Like, really packing on 50+ pounds in a super short amount of time. Not only was I freaking out because I didn't understand what was happening, but my one tiny piece of control was being ripped away from me. No matter what I did or put my body through the scale kept (and keeps) moving in the wrong direction.

And I know I totally want to be thin and strong bad enough, so the pounds should just be flying off like they always have, dammit!

Depending on who you ask (i.e. my mother and those who follow her line of beliefs), I'm getting exactly what I deserve for being Judgy Judy. I can't say they're wrong because I too kind of think karma is flipping me the bird. Karma is awesome when it's flipping off other people. She's decidedly less so when it's you on the receiving end of all that bird flipping.

But, despite all the hours spent hating myself, crying, avoiding mirrors, beating myself up and crying some more, there is a tiny part of me (and I do mean super microscopic because I could've totally learned this lesson another way and been perfectly okay with that) that is grateful for being fat and having this struggle because it has opened my eyes up to so much about the fight  with weight and all the things that go into it.

  • Weight gain and loss is just as much an emotional battle as it as an physical battle. Even though my weight gain was initially the result of uncontrolled hypothyroidism, that's not the main reason it has stayed on. I have always been a bit of an emotional eater, but now that I don't drink very often or smoke anymore, food is my go-to vice. And the constant self-loathing and beating myself up leads to a date with my vice at least once a week.
The mental and emotional stuff are really my biggest triggers. I feel like skinny girls are judging me. I feel like I don't deserve to wear heels or be overly feminine because I'm too big for that and don't want to draw any attention to my big, stumpy legs. I don't like to go out to eat because I feel like people are looking at what's on my plate and saying, "Well, no wonder she looks like that." I won't seriously look for another job because I feel like I don't deserve a job I love because no one wants to hire a fat, out of shape blob. It goes on-and-on every single day and, of course, it's not something you want to say to anyone (so, post it on the interwebs, obviously) because you don't want them to know you truly are a hot mess with zero confidence ( You know, because I hide it so well with my biting wit and sarcasm. OMG, now I'm basically the funny, smart ass fat girl. Shit.)  So I go home and eat my emotions and hate myself--even though I know I'm working out and I'm strong and eating like crap isn't helping with any of the other stuff. Logically, do I also know I'm not as huge as I think I am and that no one cares that much what I'm eating, look like or wearing? Yes. But, I also know that people do look and judge because I used to be one of them.
  • Hypothyroidism is a real disease and it's a douchebag. I've heard people complain about their thyroid for years and always thought it was a cop out. You know, until it happened to me (karma is a bitch for real, y'all). People can say what they want about it being easy to manage. It's not, and it effects so much more than your weight. Like making you so exhausted you feel too tired to live all the time. And it jacks your nails up, makes your hair fall out and dries out your skin. It makes you have aches and pains in places you've never hurt before. Oh, and as an extra bonus, sometimes your heart feels like it's going to pound right out of your chest. It also causes depression--not that you need any help with being depressed with all the weight gain and other crap happening to your body.  Do some people use it as a crutch? Probably, just like anything else in life. But, dealing with it isn't as easy as popping a pill, eating right and working out. Like everything else with fighting your weight, it's complex and it's kind of a bitch.


This is kind of like when they put models in fat suits
and send them out to see how people treat them differently.
Source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/442760207087687334/
 
You don't truly understand the battle until you are going through it yourself. My favorite quote from To Kill a Mockingbird has always been when Atticus tells Scout, "You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view […] until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." I appreciate that quote even more these days. Now that I am on this side of things (and this is really true with any struggle anyone has in their life), I have a completely different perspective. Like, before it was easy to look at someone and think what they were dealing with was probably really hard and even sympathize with their plight, but it's only when I found myself going through that same thing that I realized what an all consuming, emotional, physical battle from hell it really is. I mean, seriously, fighting this fight day-after-day and feeling like I am constantly starting over is a mother f*cking nightmare I can't wake up from and I had no idea the toll it took on people mentally, emotionally and physically. You wouldn't think your weight would be this big of a bitch, but dear God, it's unlike anything I've ever dealt with and I've been through some shit.


I think this is probably the part where I am supposed to wax philosophical and say how I'm learning to accept myself just the way I am and I can be beautiful at any size. I wish I could say that, but it would be a lie. I mourn my single digit sized clothes and I feel nothing but loathing and disgust every time I see my big legs and protruding, jiggly belly in one of the many glass surfaces at work (a modern office building with lots of glass to let in natural light is a bitch for a fat girl with low self-esteem) or the pictures I ceremoniously untag myself from so no one else can see how chubby I really am. I still hit bootcamp three days a week and try to never modify my exercises because I don't want to look like the fat girl who doesn't want to lose weight bad enough to try harder. And, I still yell at myself and fall into a vicious cycle of self-loathing and depression every time I blow my clean eating and cave to eating out of stress or sadness. I don't recognize this version of me and frankly I wish she'd just go away already because I kind of hate her.

But, she has taught me empathy.

And for that I am grateful.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

40 is a confusing age in a middle aged woman's life

About a month and a half ago I turned 40. That was a tough pill to swallow. In May I had actually come to terms with it. I was going to start running again and do all kinds of cool, bad ass stuff and rock 40 like no one else in the history of middle-aged women had ever rocked a 40th birthday.

Then, I hurt my ankle when I was in St. Louis with NJ for his mother's funeral. On the porch of a church, no less. Yeah, I know, it's pretty fitting.

It took forever for it to heal, which really got me down, blah excuse, blah excuse, blah excuse and, when I turned 40, I was still flabby. And a little sad.

And a lot freaked out.

I don't know how to be 40. Like, I'm not sure how I'm supposed to act. I'm not exactly young and carefree anymore, but I'm more carefree and feel younger than I have in about 18 years--except for the part where I now have to start getting my cholesterol tested and diabetes screenings thanks to the genetic minefield I call mom and dad. And the part where I have to hunt for my glasses when I'm watching television and someone is reading a text or letter and the print is microscopic.  I'm also really fond of elastic waistbands and comfortable shoes. Not ugly shoes--just comfy ones. Other than that, I'm totally young and carefree.

Yet, I'm not old enough to wear overalls everyday while yelling at kids to get off my lawn (fine, I already do that, but I'm usually in my work clothes and if the kids next door weren't assholes with no manners, I wouldn't prematurely be forced into the role) or spend my day gardening and muttering to myself have it called eccentric. I can't say all the crazy shit exactly as I think it at maximum volume and have people say, "Man, I can't wait until I'm old and can do that!" At 40, you're still just considered an asshole and people give you a pretty wide berth at the Dollar General.

Am I supposed to act like I have my shit together? Am I supposed to want to have roots and be content with spending the rest of my life (or until Grace puts me in a home or throws me in front of a bus) right where I'm at? Or maybe focus on advancing my career?

I feel like this is the mantra of the older ladies who
walk around with words written across their ass.


I don't even know how to fake having my shit together and I'm not sure I ever will. Forty ain't helping. Instead, it's ignited this insane wanderlust. I want to pack Mocho (because I apparently have a death wish) into the Mini Cooper, go on an adventure and write about it. When most people were doing this stuff in their 20s, I was already raising babies, so this is finally my chance to get it out of my system. Except now I have a mortgage and college tuition to help pay. And elderly parents-- although, I do have five older half siblings that can totally have a turn dealing with those two. Plus, a 25-year-old sleeping his car because he's going on a cross country adventure is kind of cool. A 40-year-old doing the same thing is pathetic. And, I drive a Mini, so trying to unfold myself from a night in the car at this age is just asking for it. Hell, it takes me a good five minutes to get up out of he floor when I sit in it now.

My career may be the only thing I actually do have figured out. Well, to a degree. I don't want to be a boss or an executive. I have to make all the decisions at home and that is more than enough for me. Someone else can be the grown-up at work. I don't want to spend the rest of my life writing words that someone else gets to put their name on and get all the praise for. I am grateful for my job and I don't hate what I do, but I'm not doing it forever. I want the credit for the words I write. I want my byline. My name on the cover of a book. The infamy that will come along with writing a book. Based on the feedback my ghostwriting is getting, I've got the talent. And, now I'm also starting to get the connections to get published more--even if I am doing it as a 60-year-old man from Georgia.

So, 40 is a lot. It seems like moving into this decade requires a much bigger adjustment than any I've entered yet. Maybe it's not and it's all in my head. Maybe it's because I no longer have the luxury of thinking I have a really long time to figure everything out and achieve all my goals. Maybe it's because I have the freedom I haven't had in almost two decades (I mean, for the empty nester set, I am pretty young) and I just want to do something.

Or maybe this is actually the beginning of the midlife crisis I thought I was having five years ago.

Crap. A. Chicken. (Is that even okay for a 40-year-old to say?)

Friday, August 21, 2015

Women Can't be Silent Anymore

Yesterday, Texas Monthly ran an article titled "Silence at Baylor" about "much-talked about football player" Sam Ukwuachu, who as early as June of this year was expected to take the field after transferring from Boise State and having sit out last season for "unspecified reasons." Turns out, Sam was indicted on two counts of sexual assault on June 25, 2014 against a female student athlete, also at Baylor. He was convicted yesterday as well and was supposed to be sentenced today. 

I don't know what Art Briles was told by Boise State. I don't know why there were gag orders put in place and there was no transparency regarding this case. I do know the way Baylor, the Waco police and the media handled this case is disturbing. I know that punishing not only this girl, but also another girl who was raped by another Baylor football player by taking away their scholarships and refusing to move them from the classes they had with their attacker(s) is sickening. I know both Baylor and the Waco police blowing off Sam's victim is despicable  I'll let you read the details for yourself here because they make my stomach turn too much to share them. 

But, if any good has come of this, it has started a conversation about what we allow those in positions of prestige and power to get by with and what we teach our girls about dealing with issues of consent. We had a great conversation about it at work today—and it was between a writer (me), a producer and a lady preacher (fine, she's also a writer, but saying that totally didn't make it sound as diverse and I'm trying to make a point here, people). The producer and I lean slightly left of left. The lady preacher is on the right. 

And you know what? We agreed our culture, especially down here, teaches our women to just keep quiet about some stuff. To not make waves and avoid being called "ugly" names. We don't teach our kids what consent is in schools. Down here, we teach abstinence only education. Then the lady preacher referenced a cartoon she saw that illustrated the topic of consent with pie (and we laughed because she said pie and we were talking about sex and, serious as the topic is, the humor of a pie analogy was not lost on us). It was something along the lines of if you ask someone if they want a piece of pie and they say yes. But, you ask them another time and they say no. That doesn't mean yes. It means they don't want pie at the moment, so you don't get to force pie on them. Or, if halfway through a slice of pie they decide they don't want it, you don't get to keep force feeding them. You take the pie away, even if you'd be a lot better off if the pie was finished. It's actually a brilliant analogy if you think about it. 

We also talked about how women are resistant to talk about sexual assault or domestic violence because, if we say it out loud, then we have to admit it's happening and that is more terrifying than you can possibly imagine. 

Or we had to accept that it did happen. 

There is one person at work who knows what happened to me: the lady preacher, because she's read this blog for a long time. Other than that, I keep it under wraps. Even when I was submitting my writing samples for my job, I omitted my story from Violence Unsilenced about my ordeal because I didn't want them to know or make any judgements about me based on the fact I got my ass kicked for two years. I just wanted the job because I could write. 

And because, six years later, I am still ashamed. I forgive him (or at least I tell myself that), but I still fear him. I hate that the ordeal caused something to twist off inside of me that makes me know, without a doubt, I will end the damn life of any other man who hits me because I know the local police won't help me— just like the Waco police didn't help the girl at Baylor. They already proved that to me twice. They don't get a third chance. 

I thought about that girl. I thought about my daughter, who I moved into the dorms to start her freshman year of college last weekend. I thought about the thousands of girls who keep quiet everyday, and I did the bravest thing I've ever done at this job. I said, out loud, in the office with the preacher lady, the producer who barely knows me and the guy in the next office who probably wanted to cut his ear drums out after listening to us talk that I didn't want to say I was getting hit out loud, because if I did, I had to deal with it. So, when it was 100 degrees and I wore long sleeved shirts, I said it was because I was cold and not because I was hiding bruises and no one questioned it because I was so skinny (from the stress causing me to throw up everything I ate) and skinny people get cold all the time. 

Then I admitted it on Facebook, in a reply to comment a friend made about the Texas Monthly sensationalizing the article to sell magazines.

I could say it was a relief or empowering, but that would be a lie. If I could've left work right then, I would have and I did consider deleting the reply to the comment because I didn't want anyone looking at me with pity or feeling bad for me. Or judging me. (And I commend both the producer and the guy in the next office who was forced to listen to our conversation for not asking questions or treating me any differently for the rest of the day.)

Which took me back to those girls. Yeah, the guy who beat on me is from a powerful family in these parts and I constantly worried about retribution from him or them. Hell, I saw a car like the last one I knew he had before he went to prison today on the way home from work, and I threw up a little in my mouth because I know he's out and that could've very well been him. But, I'm a grown ass woman. Imagine being an 18-year-old girl on a college campus where football is a religion and you are the one who took out the star player for sexually assaulting you and you know everyone hates you and blames you—even the administration. We put such an emphasis on power and protecting our sports teams, that those boys begin to believe they are untouchable—and their victims become the criminals for ruining the school's chance at a national championship. 


Source: http://www.motherjones.com/authors/dave-gilson?page=4


You know what we're creating when we continue to allow this sort of behavior? 

Serial rapists. 

Serial woman beaters. 

Floyd Mayweathers.

Chis Browns.

Sam Ukwuachus.

We have to change the conversation with our daughters. Silence is no longer an option. We have to tell them to scream at the top of their lungs until someone listens to them, and we have to scream right along beside them because if we get loud enough, they can't ignore us. We can't allow our girls to be paid off to go away quietly and when the police or the university ignore them (or us) we have to make ourselves a burr in their asses until they have no choice to listen. 

Our daughters deserve better.

We deserve better. 

But no one is going to change the current climate for us. 

We have to band together and let the people who blow off our cries in order to protect the powerful know we don't care if they think we are bitches, feminazis, dykes or whatever other "derogatory" term they think can hurl at us to hurt our delicate lady feelings and shut us up. 

We can't be scared. 

And we sure as hell can't be silent anymore. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Broody Hen Chronicles Part One

I currently have a broody hen. For those unfamiliar with the term, it means I have a hen whose biological clock is ticking and she's decided she must hatch some baby chicks immediately. 

Which is kind of a problem on my backyard farm since I don't have a rooster (because they are scary as shit), so my eggs aren't fertilized. 

But, broody hens care not about sex education. All they care about is hatching some babies, so they set up camp in the coop on whatever eggs they have laid and wait patiently for them to hatch. 

 Based on what I've read (because I honestly didn't think this happened without a rooster due to the s-e-x part) (and, I don't even know if egg fertilization is a result of chickens and roosters having s-e-x or if he like pees or something more gross on the eggs after she lays them to be perfectly honest), broody can hens become crazy bitches. I read that some may try to keep the other hens out of the nesting boxes. Some steal the other chickens eggs to sit on. Some growl, puff out their feathers and peck at you if you try to get eggs out from under them. 


A lot of times they can be broken if you put an ice pack under them because it cools off their underside which is all warm to keep their eggs warm for hatching. Unless they are super stubborn. 

Guess who has the one chicken that does all the mean broody hen stuff and spent about a day trying to hatch an ice pack? 

Yeah. 


This is a picture of a broody hen. This is not my broody hen.
You know how you want to cut a bitch when you're in
labor and they want to take pictures to remember the beautiful moment?
That is exactly how my hen looks at me every time I open
the coop door. And then she growls. I figured snapping
a picture would result in the loss of my eyeballs and I really
like seeing. A lot.
Photo source: 
http://happyhatchings.com.au
She currently has the personality of a woman who is nine months pregnant in August in Texas mixed with the personality of one of those crazy women who steals other people's babies because she is so desperate for one of her own. 

It's not a pleasant personality combo. 

I mentioned my broody hen situation on Facebook and my friend Allie mentioned she wished she had a broody hen or duck because she had eggs that needed hatching. So, yesterday we met in a Walmart parking lot and she gave me a dozen duck eggs for my broody girl to sit on and try to hatch.


Does anyone else remember the episode of Beverly Hills 90210 where everyone was trying to go to a rave when Brandon was dating Emily Valentine and at one of the places they stopped to get directions the code was saying you were there to exchange an egg? Every time I say I picked up eggs in a parking lot, that's what I think of. And it really has nothing to do with this post.

All morning I waited and waited for her to come out to get something to eat and drink and take her little dust bath like she's done for the past two days so I could go grab all the eggs she's stealing from the other four girls and put the duck eggs under her. 

I guess she knew the rain from Tropical Storm Bill was coming because she didn't leave the coop and when I opened it to check on her she gave me the side eye (and not just because her eyes are on the side of her head, but the mean kind) and puffed up all big at me. She's already pecked me once which sent me running back into the house screaming about her impending attack that would end me, so I just ran away. 

But, I went back with four duck eggs to see what she would do. I laid them gently beside her and slowly backed away. When I checked on her 10 minutes later, all four eggs were under her and she growled at me while giving me more side eye. 

Bitch. 

I've slowly been adding eggs between bouts of rain and my other hens have been trying to protect their eggs when they lay, but before I can get them, she steals those, too. 

Right now, she's sitting on about 10 duck eggs, five chicken eggs and two golf balls. Yeah, she stole those, too, when NJ moved them to a different spot in the coop hoping the girls would lay there since she won't let them in the one spot they all choose to lay in. 

She's an egg hoarder. 

And mean. 

I'd totally be mean if I was sitting on that much shit, too, and I was hot as hell, but I've been trying to help a sister out and take some of it. She just won't move.

Or stop stealing.

Or stop trying to kill me.  

And, as it turns out, the breed I got because they are not very aggressive and I could therefore co-exist with them without pissing my pants every time I walked out the door is also one of the most likely breeds to go broody. 

I have a feeling summer is going to be super fun in my backyard.