September 2014 archive

The Joys of Being a Woman… Or NOT

I’ve been reading a new book by Caitlin Moran entitled How to be a Woman. I haven’t finished it yet (exactly 33% at this point according to my Kindle), but I’ve been really enjoying it. Moran basically explains how being a woman is difficult. She states in one part that the worst gift you can give a child is estrogen and a pair of tits (a sentiment I do not necessarily agree with). But like her, there are many things I HATE about being a woman. These are a few of those things that women have to deal with simply because we are females and/or because society says so. (I tried not to let my inner feminist out on this post and write about how women have to put up with getting paid less than men and having their reproductive systems debated by politicians.) Don’t get me wrong. There are many positives to being a woman, and I’m proud of the woman I am and blessed by the vessel that I’ve been provided. However, as is my human prerogative, I do have some complaints. Got anymore ideas besides what’s listed?

Bras. As much as I hate them, they’re necessary to prevent the delightful swamp boob. But as soon as I come home, the bra comes off. This kind of sucks as the only bras that fit and are somewhat comfortable for the well-endowed cup size cost anywhere from $75 and up, and if you want the sexier, lacy ones, those will start at $120. WTF? I’m paying out my nose to strap on a torture device I get to wear every day. Plus, I get killer neck and back aches if I wear a cheaper bra. Just take my money now, lacy torture device.

Bra quote

Birth control. Oh, you can’t wear a condom? Well guess what, I can’t use mind- and body-altering hormones that are located in the pill. They make one gain weight, become emotionally unstable, and have elevated blood pressure. Spermicide, you’re not much better. IUD, can you say “OWWWWW”? And don’t even get me started on the sponge or the diaphragm. The condom is the least invasive birth control out there and the least harmful. What’s stopping you?

Panties. Let’s face it. The only comfortable pair of panties are the ones that securely cover all of the booty, like the hipster, bikini, or brief. However, thongs, g-strings, tangas, and even boy shorts with a seam in the front are the fashion right now and are deemed as more flirty and sexy. Let’s be honest, though, these types of panties are more like a snack for your back and your front. I never want my panties creeping towards a crevice, and I never want to wince when I get up because my thong is currently lodged somewhere that no fabric should be. I’ve suffered through fashionable panties for most of my teenage years and twenties, but I’ve come to realize that once your clothes are off, a man doesn’t care what kind of panties or bra you’re wearing as long as he’s getting into them. Let’s save the swatches of cloth for sexy lingerie in the bedroom only and wear something of more substance for the everyday.

Tight pants. Why does almost every designer make pants tighter for women? I know we don’t have the junk downstairs to make room for, but I would really like to avoid the camel toe. Thanks. If one is fortunate enough to find pants that are not skin-tight, then one probably looks like a grandma. I should not have to accentuate my butt for the opposite sex. And I definitely should not have to do the adjustment wiggle every time I get up because my pants are squeezing the life out of my lower half.

High Heels. Ow, ow, ow. That’s my mantra when wearing heels. When one wears heels, it’s best not to walk for any distance longer than about 50 feet. Yes, they are aesthetically appealing, and I admit I own many. However, this does not negate the fact that they are torture devices in their own right.

high heel shoes

Skirts and Dresses. This is not an issue for every woman. In fact, some women really enjoy the freedom and breeze felt while wearing a skirt or a dress. To women who have more ample thighs, wearing a dress or a skirt in humidity or in a hotter climate is like building a fire between your legs. It is also not comfortable to have one’s bare butt on a chair or bench — an inevitable event when wearing a shorter dress or skirt.

Pantyhose. I’ve seen a quote about if we can put men on the moon then we can invent pantyhose that are comfortable. Apparently, we cannot. Until this miracle happens, we will struggle to squeeze ourselves into pantyhose and will then look like a stuffed sausage once they are on. Don’t sit down while wearing pantyhose, either, because they’ll just creep down on you. Also, don’t walk too much while wearing pantyhose because you’ll find it difficult to not look like a penguin as they start to creep down. Basically, do nothing while wearing pantyhose. I mean, just don’t move.

Purses. Again, they’re necessary, but only because our pants are so tight that we can’t fit anything in our pockets. And if you can reach in your pocket, it’s usually only two inches deep. Seriously, why do men get deeper pockets? Oh, that’s right. It’s because the pocket outline would show through these tight pants! Purses are annoying to carry, they get in the way, and they hurt shoulders.

Makeup. Why is it when I go out without makeup people ask me if I’m feeling OK? I even had one friend show up at my house for our lunch date to ask if I needed more time to apply my face as it was sans makeup. (She made it sound like I needed to pull a Mrs. Doubtfire and apply that mask.) Makeup can be fun, but I hate that society makes women feel like they’re not beautiful unless they have their makeup on. Even when one is going for that “natural” look, makeup is required to help us look our best. What is the point of taking so much time to apply makeup when the objective is to look like we’re not wearing any? The slogan “Maybe she’s born with it or maybe it’s Maybelline” should just be “She’s born with it.” Period. No makeup needed.

make up

Waxing. This is one of the most painful aesthetic procedures. Brazilians are among the worst torture I can inflict upon myself, and for two days after waxing, I have to walk like a penguin. Shaving legs and armpits is already annoying if you’re like me and have to shave every other day. Never have I loathed my long legs as much as when I have to shave them. And my poor armpits! The armpits are some very sensitive parts of the body. There’s a reason why hair grows there to protect this sensitive area. Shaving continuously just exacerbates the sensitivity and causes weird bumps. Gross. But I digress. Getting rid of hair down there, especially through waxing, is the worst. To be honest, sex feels so much better when there’s hair down there because, like the armpits, this is a sensitive area that benefits from some protection. Trimming and maintenance are necessary, but I just don’t understand getting rid of it all. I hate that pornography has made it a faux pas to have any hair down there. Porn started this trend so the camera could capture the moment of penetration easier, so why are we all doing this now? Last time I checked, we weren’t all porn stars. Why must women continue to infantilize themselves with waxing? What about that is sexy?

brazilian wax

Periods. This is simply a biological issue and has nothing to do with society. Though I do have to say that pads and tampons are torture devices in their own right. I can either feel like I’m wearing a diaper or I can shove a wad of cotton in my cash and prizes. Um, none sound like what I want to do, especially when I’m bloated and feeling like a beached whale, am crying at all commercials (and not just the dog ones like normal), and have cramps that make me sweat and get into the fetal position. Ugh, I have to do this thirteen times a year for a week each? ARGH! Why did I want this so badly when I was twelve?

temper tantrum period clothes

Child birth. Enough said. *Drops microphone and walks away.*

Gaining Perspective

I’ve had some time lately to reflect back on the year as I’m laid up after getting my big toenail removed. I was sure the toenail had something to do with my surgery in January, but now my other big toenail is starting to look the same. Ugh. Given the year I’ve had, I just figure this is par for the course. Surgery in January on a foot that still gives me problems to the point where I cannot walk or stand for too long without pain and having to recover for two days later; a medical miscarriage of my first baby that brought with it the worst emotional and physical pain I have yet experienced; and now I have my toenail removed, such a small thing that still leaves me laid up in the house. I’ve cried and ranted about how it’s not fair that I’ve had to go through all of these things. It’s not fair that it hurts to walk or that I had to give up something so precious that I never realized how much I wanted it until that point. But this is a selfish way to look at the world. This is a selfish way to appreciate the gift I’ve been given.

I have the most perfect husband for me, and I get to be with him at least every morning and evening. He’s not overseas fighting a war whose reasons are unclear. He’s not a man who would ever raise a hand in anger. He is a patient man who shows more strength through his patience and understanding than any person I’ve met. He isn’t overly complimentary, but when he does compliment me, I feel like I’ve just been given a precious gem to hold and keep safe until the next time. Last night, we were watching Parks and Recreation. Because of my toe, I hadn’t showered that day and looked less than appealing, definitely not one of my beautiful moments. Yet he turned to me with tears shining in his eyes and simply stated how blessed he was to have me for a wife. Me – unwashed, funky-toe, hobbling me.

I have an easy life. My husband’s profession allows me to be a substitute teacher although I do not make much money in this profession. It’s a dream, though, to me because I get to play teacher without having the long work hours for shitty pay or having to deal with ignorant parents and micromanaging bureaucracy. We live comfortably if not with as much money as others, but we have all we need and much that we want. We have a sweet little beagle/schnauzer/terrier mutt that cares more for the people around her than any dog I’ve seen. I have caring and considerate family and friends that offer a plethora of personalities and will hardly ever leave a dull moment. My medical issues are not anything life-threatening. They may affect me every day, but if I have to live with a bum foot the rest of my life, it is a small price for this life I have been given. We even have the hope of getting pregnant again, and hope is such a powerful thing. It truly is the thing with feathers that Emily Dickinson wrote about.

So when I start to whine and complain about what’s wrong with my life, I need to gain some perspective. I am blessed more than I ever dreamed to be. I have glimpses of heaven in the everyday parts of my life. This is enough. This is more than enough. And I am grateful.

Crystal and Hans

Books that Stayed with Me

There’s a recent trend on Facebook of posting your top ten books that have somehow impacted your life. Being a bibliophile, I find it difficult to just name ten (so I cheated and named eleven), and I felt the need to explain my choices as well. Here they are in no particular order.

  1. Jim Butcher. Storm Front.
  2. J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
  3. Barbara O’Neal. How to Bake a Perfect Life.
  4. Arthur Miller. The Crucible.
  5. Alexandre Dumas. The Knight of Maison-Rouge.
  6. Charles Dickens. A Tale of Two Cities.
  7. Bill Willingham. Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile.
  8. C. S. Lewis. Mere Christianity.
  9. Harper Lee. To Kill a Mockingbird.
  10. Mark Haddon. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time.
  11. Erik Larson. The Devil in the White City.

StormFront_Hardcover_1-120

Jim Butcher’s Storm Front will always hold a special place in my heart. Besides being the first book of an awesome series, it was the book my husband (at the time fiancé) and I listened to while driving from Georgia to Michigan for me to meet his family for the first time. It is the only audible book I’ve ever listened to without falling asleep, mainly because the book is amazing. It’s also an impactful book because it introduced my husband and me to Harry Dresden, and because of our love of this world and this character, this is one of the only series that my husband and I both have read (the other series being The Hunger Games).

Harry_Potter_and_the_Deathly_Hallows_(US_cover)

Just as Butcher’s Storm Front introduced me to the Harry Dresden series, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows closed out the Harry Potter series. I have never cried as much while reading a book as I did with this one. Not only was the story moving, but I was telling my characters goodbye. It was the culmination of our time together, and I hated to finish it. I’ve never felt more conflicting feelings towards a book as I did with this one. Should I read it quickly because it’s awesome, or should I read it slowly because I’m not ready to tell Harry, Ron, and Hermione goodbye?

how to bake a perfect life

Barbara O’Neal’s How to Bake a Perfect Life is just a feel-good novel. All of her books offer so much color, and she’s one of the authors I turn to when I’m looking for this type of novel. There is definite darkness within her novels as well, such as The Lost Recipe for Happiness, but generally these books just make the reader feel good. Instead of listing my favorite among her work, The Lost Recipe for Happiness, I chose instead to list How to Bake a Perfect Life. It was my introduction to her as an author, and this was the first book my mom and I shared between us in years. Who doesn’t love a book they can share and discuss with one’s mother?

crucibleblog

Arthur Miller’s The Crucible is not only a moving play, but it’s the first piece of literature I taught while student teaching. The nuances and morals that were laden throughout the text made the students delve into the work, and the format of the piece itself begged the students to read aloud. Teaching this play was even better than reading it.

knight of maison-rouge

Alexandre Dumas’s The Knight of Maison-Rouge is not one of his well-known books. I stumbled upon this gem during my “French Revolution in Film” course at Georgia Southern University. Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities had already sparked my love of studying the French Revolution, so this course was right up my alley. Dumas’s book not only fed this love, but it also showed me that sometimes the lesser known books are better (although I am a Dumas fan in general).

t2ctale_of_two_cities_book

Charles Dickens’s A Tale of Two Cities showed me that Dickens is actually a phenomenal writer. After reading Great Expectations and hating it in ninth grade, I was not pleased to be assigned A Tale of Two Cities in twelfth grade. I rarely disliked an author, but he was on my list. A Tale of Two Cities, though, taught me to look at other works by an author before writing them off. I loved the novel, and as I said above, it sparked an interest in the French Revolution. I have since gone on to read other Dickens novels and love to read A Christmas Carol every year.

fables

Bill Willingham’s Fables Vol. 1: Legends in Exile grew my love of comics. I had read X-Men comics when I was in grade school, but I never ventured into the wide world of comics. This changed when I picked up the first volume of the Fables series. I was engrossed, and this was a great first step into the world of comics. It made me wonder why comics were not taught in the classroom, and this question led to my thesis in graduate school. This series was also so popular that ABC was at first going to make a television adaptation, but when they realized the budget they would need to do Willingham’s work justice, they replaced it with Once Upon a Time. Too bad. I loved the video game adaptation TellTale Games’s A Wolf Among Us as well.

mere christianity

C. S. Lewis’s Mere Christianity gets a spot on this list for many reasons. I’ve read many religious books and don’t always agree with everything. There have been few that I really enjoyed and appreciated the ideas within. Mere Christianity is one of these books. This was my first experience with Lewis, and his eloquence and intelligence popped off every page. He explained his journey from atheist to Christian with such lines as this: “My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” Reading this book was yet another way for me to get closer to God and for me to open up to him. It also spurred my reading of the Narnia series, a series in which I would have truly been missing out had I never read it.

to_kill_a_mocking_bird

Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is the first book in which I remember realizing that books have deeper meanings than what is on the surface. I know I read Lois Lowry’s The Giver and Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time in middle school, and this lead me to read more of each authors’ books. However, I don’t remember the experience of learning about them in class. With TKAM, I do. I loved the overall plot and what Lee was saying about racism and social inequality. But more than this, I loved learning that underneath all of this, there was the bigger issue of whether people are inherently good or evil. We talked about this in class, and I was angry with my classmates for complaining about having to read the book and then discuss it. How could others not see the beautiful gift Lee had given us by sharing her writing with the public? How could others not love the message and the book as I did?

curiousincident

Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time is the first book I enjoyed and finished after getting pregnant this summer and having my miscarriage. I was too nauseated during the pregnancy to read, and after the miscarriage, it took a while for me to want to do anything besides just sleeping in bed or on the sofa. Haddon got me out of my funk. The unique way in which this book is written is enough of a reason to read it; I loved how he was showing his reader how autism works through the character of Christopher. I saw so many of my students reflected in this character, and although I knew how to teach my autistic students and had seen movies like Temple Grandin to try to better understand, I had never read a book to put me in the mindset like Haddon’s book did. It is a masterpiece.

devil-in-the-white-city

Erik Larson’s The Devil in the White City was an enthralling piece of non-fiction. I’m not the biggest fan of non-fiction; however, this book proved that not all non-fiction is dry and boring just like not all fiction is riveting. It widened the scope of my reading and future reading.

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I didn’t include certain series that impacted my life, but I felt a need to include them somewhere. The Goosebumps books and the American Girl books impacted my younger life. I went through these books like I was an addict looking for a fix. For a while, I was reading a book a day. Besides feeding my love of reading, Goosebumps grew my love of horror. Yes, these were not very scary books looking back. At that age, however, I was scared by some of the content. And I loved it! This may be why I love intelligent horror movies today. The American Girl books grew my love of history and historical fiction. They also taught me that just because I couldn’t easily identify with the main character physically, I could still empathize and love them. This was a huge lesson for a egocentric kid.

The Bible goes without saying as the most impactful book in my life and could be argued to be the most impactful of all. Being a Christian, I look to it for guidance, for teaching, for understanding, and for love. I appreciate how Jesus’s teachings were radical for the time. However, this book also brings out people’s dark sides simply because of the way people use it to justify shame and hate. Never has a book been more liberating or enslaving as the Bible still is today.

Honorable Mentions (in no particular order):

  1. Sarah Addison Allen. Garden Spells.
  2. Jane Austen. Pride and Prejudice.
  3. Frank Baum. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.
  4. Ernest Cline. Ready Player One.
  5. Steig Larsson. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.
  6. C. S. Lewis. The Magician’s Nephew.
  7. The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry: Volume 1.
  8. Stephanie Perkins. Isla and the Happily Ever After.
  9. Maria Tatar. The Classic Fairy Tales.
  10. Lynne Truss. Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
  11. William Butler Yeats. The Yeats Reader.

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So what is your list of books that have stayed with you and have made an impact? Do any of yours match mine?