May 2014 archive

Reevaluating My Motives

I’ve always been a reader for as far back as I can remember. Give me a book, and I’ll read and understand it. I’ve also always been competitive either with others or with myself, trying to beat personal intellectual bests. I’ve always been a person who enjoys reading the book first and seeing the movie second. However when I started watching Game of Thrones on HBO, I enjoyed it though I had never read A Song of Ice and Fire series. I hadn’t even heard of this series until the show gained popularity. I just don’t usually enjoy fantasy novels. Because of this lack of reading, things kept getting spoiled for me just by going on Facebook. I knew what was going to happen at The Red Wedding and The Purple Wedding. I’m not a person who enjoys spoilers or can just ignore them like my husband. Any spoiler I saw infuriated me. It was time to take action.

I borrowed the first two books in the series from my friend. Most of my friends had read the series (five books at this point), and I was determined to read them, too. I had to be on top of what was going on in the series, and to be honest, it bugged me that I hadn’t read them because so many others had. The competitive reader was armed with a purpose.

I cracked open the first book and read. After a few pages, I hit a brick wall. Hard. I wasn’t enjoying the book. It was too convoluted for my taste. I realized that a few pages weren’t really enough of a go at the book to make any decisions, but I had to take a break. I started thinking about why I wanted to read the book. 1) I wanted to know what was going to happen in the HBOseries. I was impatient. However, the HBO series is now working with the third and fourth books. I would have to power through the first two books, with most of the situations already known, before I started to encounter any meaty new material. 2) I wanted to read what so many of my friends had already read. The books didn’t sound interesting when other people explained it to me, but I didn’t want to be left behind. My competitiveness was rearing its ugly head.

And that was it. The only two reasons I had for reading the series were not good ones. Reading a book in which I already know what happens is pointless (at least to me). It’s a lot easier to just watch the fifty-minute program even if I know who is going to die or whatnot. I usually don’t know the details of any big spoilers so it’s fun to watch them play out. And for me, taking a break from GOT to catch up with the books is not an option. It is my television heroine, and I need my fix every week. In addition, I have 366 books on my to-read list, and this doesn’t include A Song of Ice and Fire series. Why was I wasting my time on a series that I honestly wasn’t interested in just to be able to say I read it? It was ridiculous, and I was letting my competitive nature drive me instead of me using my competitiveness. I’d rather be reading one of the 366 books that I put on my list for interest’s sake than be reading a book that bored me.

I had learned a lesson in all of this. I shouldn’t let myself be consumed by competition, and I shouldn’t be stuck doing something (especially with no true reward like a paycheck or even a cleaner house) that I didn’t enjoy doing. I’m glad other people love these books and have read them multiple times because of their love for them; I really respect these people who can power through and find enjoyment within the pages. I am just not one of them, and there’s a reason why there are so many genres out there. I’ll pick a different book to read while I await Sunday night.

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A Continuous Birthday

I celebrated my 29th birthday on Friday, and like all people who really enjoy their birthdays, I took the whole weekend to celebrate. On Friday, my husband and I ate at Ria’s Bluebird (the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever tasted) and Hans even shopped with me for a bit at Phipps Plaza. My brother came into town, and after picking up party provisions, we ate at Taqueria Tsunami for a late lunch/early supper. The night ended with a great game night full of Superfight and Cards Against Humanity. Saturday was equally as great with breakfast at Douceur de France and my Superhero/Villain birthday party that went on until the early morning of Sunday. On Sunday, all three of us and my dog Bella went to our friends’ home to visit with their kids, play games, and eat yummy food. I welcomed in my 29th year in style (plus some great gifts). I am approaching 30 with open arms and with a hopeful spirit.

While actually seeing people is usually preferred, I was touched by all the Facebook posts. It’s amazing how social media can warm my heart and remind me of the many friends and family I have spaced out throughout the world. All the birthday wishes made me feel so loved and appreciated, and this got me thinking. Instead of only giving well wishes on one day a year, why don’t we put words of affirmation on each other’s social media throughout the year? I’m not talking about another specific day for each person; I’m suggesting random acts of kindness through social media. Yes, I do realize that social media can be a bit cold compared to seeing someone face-to-face. However, it’s not always possible to see people, and we shouldn’t let this lack of contact make the miles between us seem so much further.

So here’s what I suggest. Let’s randomly put words of affirmation on each other’s Facebook walls, Instagram feeds, etc. to keep this “birthday” feeling going. It doesn’t have to be a long post—just enough to convey what that person means to you. It’s so important to know we are cherished throughout the year, and sometimes, a well-timed affirmation is just what is needed on one of our dark days. Here’s my affirmation for you, dear reader.

“Reader, I appreciate the time you take to read this blog. Each visit to my blog is much appreciated, and when you comment on any post (either on the blog itself, Facebook, or face-to-face), I am reminded of the importance of publishing my words. I write for you, reader. You are my first and foremost inspiration.”

Affirmation

Finding Peace in Insecurity

I am large and in charge. I have more cushion for the pushing. I have more curves than a mountain road. However you’ve heard it rationalized before, it is just that – a rationalization. As a bigger woman (size 12 and up), I am constantly having to defend myself, both in my mind and to others, but the truth is this: I believe I am beautiful and am proud of how I look, AND I am self-conscious of my body and sometimes wish to take down all the mirrors. Is this hypocrisy then when I say we should love our bodies when I have this contradiction of thoughts living in my mind palace? Is this contradiction evident in all women—large and small, tall and short, young and old?

I have struggled all my life being a “voluptuous” woman. At 5’10”, I have felt self-conscious about towering over other people. I have always been in at least a size 14 since I was a teenager, and in a world that values stick-thin women, I thought there was something wrong with me. I faced prejudices for being larger. The ads on Facebook, Gmail, and the like all advertise plus-size websites based on my online shopping history, as if I cannot get away from the biggest thing that bothers me. (Pun intended.) One of my dear friends a few years ago told me I shouldn’t go to Zumba with her because she wasn’t sure I could keep up at my weight. I was excluded as a bridesmaid from a wedding solely based on how I’d look in the dress. I got a Facebook message from a guy friend from high school telling me how gross I am and to take advantage of whatever weight loss method I could. I’ve faced sneers from retail workers and doctors. When I was 20, I saw a new gynecologist, and the first thing he said as he entered the room was, “Whoa. Big problem here, and I do mean big problem. You need to lose weight.” Excuse me. Do I know you like that? Are you my family practice doctor? No and no. Check out the area you need to check out, and I’ll go to my family practice doctor for all other concerns. Thank you. It’s not like I don’t know dropping a few pounds would be healthier.

One of the worst parts of being a larger woman is clothes shopping. Ugh, the name “plus size” just makes me cringe. It’s as though you have to do math to even comprehend my size. In the department stores, the plus size women’s clothes are usually stuck in some dark corner or put on the same floor as the men’s clothes and children’s clothes, far away from the “normal” women’s clothes. When I have to ask where these “plus” sizes are located, I usually get a sneer from the retail worker, although whether this is fat-shaming or just general disgruntleness I do not know. Then there’s the differences in “polite” names. The “normal” sizes, sometimes going up to even size 16, are labeled “misses” or “ladies,” and plus sizes are labeled “womens”. “Misses/ladies” implies something more feminine than the general term for our sex “women”. It’s as though we are no longer desirable as we enter the “no-man’s-land” of the plus-size region. And how the styles change from one department to the other! They’re called “clothes” not “tents,” and regardless of the norms society may push on me, I still enjoy good-fitting clothes to show off who I am. And no! I do not want to play $10 extra for a shirt that doesn’t have that much more fabric and clearly less thought than the misses tops. If we priced clothes based on the size, each sizing increment should be more expensive, including size 2 because that is bigger than size 0.

Despite all this, I am aware that everyone has something they deal with throughout their lives. Mine may be my weight—that addiction to good food I can’t seem to quit no matter the diet and exercise. The call of sugar and fat akin to nicotine. However, there are worse things to be dealing with, and I’m fully aware of that. My weight has taught me to not only work on loving myself but to also not judge others as harshly.  Despite my weight, I’ve never been short on good-looking men (and am now blessed with a wonderful husband) and have always had an abundance of friends no matter the phase of my life. I am blessed with people around me that see deeper than what’s on the surface and am happy to follow their example. I am proud of the person I am regardless, or maybe because of, my weight.

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A Class of Contradictions

Every time I enter a high school, the smell hits me first. This essence of old, ratty books, smelly teenagers, caustic cleaning supplies, and frustration is pungent. I’m further assailed by the many different varieties of perfume—all cloying in their own way—and the artificial pheromone of cologne thick on guys. My eyes are assaulted by shorts and skirts that barely cover the butt cheeks and definitely would not have passed the “finger test” from my high school a little over ten years ago, tanks that show almost every inch of the skin, and pants lower on the legs after exposing colorful underwear. My ears hear curses that abound like kudzu in a Georgia forest, and I’m learning new ways to use words such as “dick,” “pussy,” and “asshole”. Girls have prayer in the middle of this chaos, and at the same time, other girls are singing in unison while two guys beat-box and rap. The sound is a cacophony of student hopes, dreams, and possibilities. The accumulation of this sense-strong setting is a teenage collage in the brightest color.

The smell is what always brings up memories, though, as I enter a high school. I once had colorful hair, pushed the limits of the dress code, and cursed like a drunken sailor (an act I still practice in Atlanta rush-hour traffic). The smell conjures the juxtaposing feelings of anxiety and stress with possibilities and hope. I was anxious about my body—were people looking at me or, worse yet, not looking at me?—and stressed over the minute details of my school work and tests—I had to get everything perfect or it seriously bummed me out. I was worried about lunchtime—would people sit at my table, would they make fun of my pristine table manners, and would I even have anything to add to the conversation? I was a painfully introverted student that preferred the company of a good book over that of most people. My talkative spirit had already been slapped down by a miserable crone of a teacher in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and ever since that fifth-grade year, I hadn’t recovered whatever piece of my spirit she had stolen. I was constantly working on finding that cheerful motor-mouth that I once was.

But I also remember that despite how much I wanted to leave the hallowed halls of my small-town high school (900 students in all), I was also filled with the possibilities of what could happen after high school. I could choose any career, go anywhere, be anyone. Most high school teachers were big on telling us that the possibilities were endless, keeping the fact that most of us were already on a lifetime track put in place by our surroundings and our biology. The candy-coated view the teachers and counselors gave to me was the one I held onto and why I tried so hard to excel in everything. I loved living in this world of hope and dreaming of possible futures. And teachers did get some of this right. I was able to dream bigger than I once thought I could, and the path I chose to walk brought me confidence, if not a wonderful career. I could have gone to almost any college, but I chose Georgia Southern University to stay close to a family that was about to rip apart. I’m glad for this choice. And while I know not every student had or has as many opportunities as I did, I know they still had opportunities and choices of their own to make. They still had possibilities for their futures of which they could dream.

Because of this view, I enjoy observing the students around me when I substitute and wondering what they will turn out like in their futures. I don’t see a class of hoodlums and punks despite the way they dress, talk, and act (because, if we’re honest, my generation was doing things that shocked the teachers around us). I observe something more than the low-riding pants, the skirts that barely cover the butt, the language that assaults my ears, and the smell of perfume mixed with angst. I can see a comic book/video game nerd that will find his place among a group of friends that enjoying going to Dragon*Con just as much as he does. I see a girl that will one day work in a Buckhead salon, making money off her talent to not only make people look beautiful but to make them feel beautiful. I see a future preacher who already has a flock of her own. I see a musical artist who can spin rhymes like Rumpelstiltskin spun gold and future singers bound for recording agencies. I see future mothers and fathers, students that will make great parents and teachers. I see electricians, plumbers, and mechanics who do the work because it pays well but also because they enjoy figuring out and fixing problems. I see teachers—elementary, middle, and high—and professors, students who are willing to put up with quite a lot for that rare glimpse of a child’s understanding (and, of course, the great holidays). All this I can imagine in just one classroom, and it makes the future look bright and those scary memories of my own disappear, making me appreciate the possibility now turned to reality in which I live.

becoming-teacher

Vesuvius Kisses to a Georgia Girl

Two new poems! Just a heads up. The first poem is a bit racy, but I love it and, therefore, wanted to share it. If you’re not up for it, just skip the first poem and move on to the next. You have been warned. :)

Vesuvius Kisses
Your gaze a gentle caress –
A butterfly frisk –
Tempting me with more.
Your eyes meet mine –
A superman clairvoyant –
Hearing my thoughts and seeing past my clothes.
Your whisper in my ear –
A grazing sentiment –
Evoking hungry visions of my hair on your bare chest.
Your palm on my back –
An Aphrodite caress –
Creating a catalyst to my living heat.
Your singeing touch on my skin –
Vesuvius kisses –
Further igniting the smolder within.
Your fingers skimming my skin –
Impetuous dancers –
Soliciting titillating, red-desire images.
Your lips upon my skin –
Yellow, summer heat –
The kerosene fire so saccharine it’s close to pain.

Those lips have yearned to taste
My impassioned honeyed sweetness.
Those hands have desired to roam
Across this supple, fertile land.
Those fingers have ached to tease
Every part not yet touched.
That mind has wished many times
For lusty thoughts coming to fruition.

And we languish in the thought of one another –
Longing, craving, thirsting, aching –
For another chance to be together.

 

Georgia Girl
Unbidden memories burning bright yellow
Blinding my mind’s eye
And demanding attention.

A bloody, bright-red strawberry,
Complementing a pink bicycle with purple streamers,
On a little girl unable to avoid the ditch.

Picking defiant cotton from brittle stalks
To play with its pliant fluff
Skinny, tanned girl legs on red Georgia dirt.

Telling honeyed secrets and a quick, pink kiss
Surrounded by a honeysuckle haze
With the taste of flora in the mouth.

The feel of stretched, white cotton
Across two budding signs of womanhood
And the fruity scented kiss of shaving cream
Still clinging to newly hairless legs.

The taste of a first wine cooler on lips
As I try to ice skate
And boisterous laughs when we all lose against the slick white.

The taste of sticky peach schnapps
With the warm giggles it supplies
And strong, boy-man hands supporting my clumsy steps.

A touch in the dark, a cuddle in a dorm bed
Outkast playing in the background
A new experience from a first love.

Impassioned jealousy bright, white hot
When the line gets blurry
Too much passion between us to be logical.

A break-up, a bad decision of a new man, and the first brush with real abuse
Lies growing like kudzu in Georgia heat
Moving to a big city to outrun the mistake.

A roaring campfire sending out magenta heat
And cold, nylon chairs complete with beer bottles
Asking how close we can go without getting burned.

A summer zombie fest with dear friends
Feeling his kindness as we clasp hands to pray
With heat rising to my face as we enjoy the meal.

A friend offering shoes to make our night “perfect”
A simple act of kindness to add to the story
And a clue to the ring within his pocket.

Sweat crawling down my back
Beneath a white, lace dress
Heat from a Georgia July and the vows to come.

A black and white puppy
Silently telling us she’s ours and we are hers
Bringing home this baby to round out our new family.