I’m Getting Over a Brold

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Image by Kristina Alexanderson via Flickr. Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic

Depression is stupid.

And it has a weird rep that makes already crap-feeling people feel more isolated and alienated. Which is dumb.

So, I have an idea. Depression needs to be a thing that you can say you have without any sort of weirdness attached to it. Like when you have a cold, no body gives you that weird I-hope-I-don’t-send-you-over-the-edge-with-my-response-to-you vibe when you mention that you need to stay in that night. Because a cold is a cold. It’s a thing that a lot of people deal with, and it sucks, and you work through it. And depression is not entirely unlike that. It’s a cold for your brain.

Thus, periodic bouts of depression will henceforth be known as brolds.

Next time you’re feeling crappy and you had a dinner date planned but really you can’t do anything other than cry and watch old episodes of Grey’s Anatomy—no big deal. Text your pals that you came down with a nasty brold and you’ll catch up with them next time. Or if you have a mound of work to do, but depression is sucking the gumption straight out of your head, send an email to HR explaining you’ll need a sick day or two as you deal with your brold.

Once the idea catches on, we’ll see over-the-counter brold treatments popping up all over the place. They’ll mostly contain caffeine pills and pictures of baby animals. It’s not meant to be a cure, just a little something to help you weather it.

The truth is sometimes brolds just come; there’s nothing you did to get in it, and not much you can do to get out of it other than wait with a cup of coffee and an internet full of baby ducks. But sometimes you need go see a doctor and get some more serious meds. But either way, it’s just a brold. Don’t freak out, people. It’s just a brold.

So there’s my idea, you all. I’m full of them. Got another problem that needs to be solved? Send it my way. Though it might take me a bit to get to it—I’m getting over a brold.

Oh, also…go watch this TED talk by Kevin Breel for some more awesome thoughts about normalizing depression.

Why You Should Always Give a Pregnant Lady Five Bucks

Next time you see a pregnant lady, you really need to stop and give her five bucks. Why? Well, the short answer is that pregnancy is the freaking worst. THE WORST.

Okay, having your leg chewed off by a bengal tiger is probably pretty bad, too. But pregnancy is freaking awful, and no one comes right out and says that because, well, I think it makes you look like a bad parent or something. But I totally don’t care about that. Let me endure the judgement and describe the terrible catastrophe that is pregnancy. You’re welcome.

Why You Should Always Give A Pregnant Lady Five Bucks

Morning Sickness is a Lie

The term “morning sickness” is about as accurate as “occasional breathing” or “optional heartbeat.” For many, the nausea that comes with your precious bundle of joy happens whenever the crap it wants to, and—blissfully for some—all the live long day. I’ll let you guess which of those things happened to me.

It’s also not some adorable, dainty little queasiness. It’s as if food is now the enemy, and your body will do anything to keep it out of your mouth/stomach/necessary locations for life. I’ve read of women puking 20 times a day. Twenty. Times. Uh, give that lady five bucks.

My nausea was so bad that my doctors gave me a drug that they also give to chemo patients. Because apparently being on chemo and being pregnant have certain similarities. I don’t know why they don’t put that on Hallmark cards. Even that prescription-strength solution didn’t keep this pleasant little conversation from happening in my head several times a day:

I’m going to die. I can’t believe this is how it’s going to end for me. A shriveled, starved mess that can’t get out of bed. Wait, no, you live in California, Melanie. CALIFORNIA. I’m pretty sure there are a few steps between this and death. Right? Of course! They’ll hook you up to IVs and give you nutrients that way! All you need is hospitalization! No. big. deal.

Thankfully it didn’t come to that, though I did ask my husband several times to check into a medically induced coma. I’m still a little mad that he didn’t at least Google it. Right? Right.

“Cravings”? Not Exactly

You always hear those adorable stories of women wanting to eat pickles and ice cream, like that’s the cutest thing ever. The reality? Pickles and ice cream—and other equally absurd food choices—may be the only thing your body will accept. So, if the choice is between the aforementioned hospitalization and, say, shrimp-flavored Cup O’ Noodle and instant mashed potatoes, you kinda choose the Cup O’ Noodle. Turns out, the desire to not die in your bed is pretty strong.

There once was a time when I favored braised beef cheek and chilled grape soup with basil foam—pregnancy reduced my palate to that of a still-drunk frat boy. Thanks for that. Give me five bucks, please. I have no self respect.

I told my doctor about this terrible starvation/inability to eat anything that can reasonably be called food and her was response was, “Luckily, the baby doesn’t need nutrition right now.” Yeah, luckily. And it’s not like need it, right? And where is the baby getting her nutrients? She’s stealing them from your body. Like a parasite. Where’s the greeting card for that?
someecards.com - Congratulations on your acquisition of a small parasite that will steal your essential nutrients.
(Sadly, that analogy doesn’t quite end at birth. Not that I hate my kid. I don’t. I promise. Look, I can prove it.)

“Luckily,” Lots of Terrible Stuff is Normal

If you’ve never been pregnant before, all this crazy stuff will start happening to you and you’ll be like, “Holy shitballs, this can’t be right. This is how humans are made?” and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll say as much to your doctor. And she will say, “Yeaaaaaaaah. I’m sorry.” Because it totally IS right. It’s normal. For your entertainment/education/horrification, here’s a bunch of bizarro stuff that’s just par for the course with pregnancy.

  • Days long headaches that you can’t do anything about, because you can’t take any pain killers when you’re pregnant. A wet cloth on your head in a dark room may be recommended.
  • Bleeding gums. Like you’re a pirate with scurvy. Sweet.
  • Not pooping ever. Someone I know might have thought she was going to die of not pooping. It wasn’t me, because why would I share that? But no one wants pooping to be mentioned in their obit.
  • Nosebleeds. Wha…? Or a constant stuffy nose. Also wha…?
  • The persistent feeling of being kicked in the crotch. This happens because of a chemical that makes your joints loosen. Sometimes your pelvic joint kinda, you know, comes apart. And that process might make you Google “pregnancy kicked in the crotch.”
  • Extra moles. To make you feel awesome about yourself.
  • Chest pain due to: a baby being where your organs are supposed to go; or heartburn; or maybe a blood clot or heart attack. Hard to know. Not that that’ll freak you out or anything.
  • Dark spots all over your skin. To help with camouflage in the wild?
  • Hot flashes. Because why the heck not at this point, right?

There’s totally more than this but…why? (Oh, wait…diabetes! You can get di-a-be-tes just while you’re pregnant. And middle-of-the-night leg cramps! And anemia!!) I mean, does it need to get any worse for you to spot a lady a fiver? If so, WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU HORRID FIEND?

I will take one second to address something that might come up in the comments: some people have lovely pregnancies. They say they’ve never felt better, and that it’s such a blessing and they glow and all that crap. Ladies, you owe other pregnant women fifty bucks. Somehow they caught your share of the crappy part while you rubbed your belly and made cooing noises. Not okay.

So there it is. Go forth and procreate you poor bastards. I’ll give you five bucks if I see you.

I Have Gray Hair, Stretch Marks, And Love Handles…Because I’m a *Human Person*

Old friends

Image by Kevin Dooley under Creative Commons license.

Sigh.

I don’t know what it is about today; about this week or this month… Maybe it’s been years now, maybe a lifetime—but I’m hitting a little bit of a tipping point when it comes to how I perceive my body and its various shortcomings. For review, let’s list out what’s wrong with me (limited to physical appearance, of course—we only have so much room here):

  • gray hair
  • deep forehead wrinkles…nay—crevasses
  • stretch marks (thanks kids)
  • flabby arms (or underarm dingle-dangle, as Ruthie would say)
  • love handles
  • untamed bikini line
  • splotchy pores on legs
  • dry lips
  • cellulite
  • knobby knees
  • hairy uprising on the facial region
  • several “companion pounds” I’ll call them, that may never leave me…

And you know what? Who gives a shit?

I have all of those things because I’m a human person. I am a human person who has yet to develop some crazy disorder that prevents me from aging. So, as I get older—as we all are forced to do by the time-space continuum—I look older. And, I ask again, who gives a even a tiny turd about it?!

Take just a moment to think about how nuts it is that we try to stop aging. I mean, when you see a product in the store labeled “anti-aging,” do you think, “What kind of crack pot monkey dreamed that up, and how stoned was the group of people that launched it into reality?” Because that’s what you should think. That’s what we should ALL think.

The Silver Fox of Snark

English: Steve Martin at the 120th Anniversary...

English: Steve Martin at the 120th Anniversary of Carnegie Hall in MOMA, New York City in April 2011. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I started going gray in my mid-twenties. It’s not really a look that most people want to cultivate. I discovered I was gray when I stopped dying my hair. I was like, “I’m gonna be all natural and embrace myself and yadda yadda,” and my head replied, “Well, that’s fun because we’ve changed a few things around here.” And there it was. I kind of decided (likely due to my frequently mentioned laziness) that it is way too much fuss to dye away the gray. I just didn’t have the energy to put up a 70-year-long fight against, of all things, my freaking hair.

So here I am nearly a decade later and I’ve got a whole lot of that stuff sprouting out of my head. Every now and again it bothers me, but I really don’t care. My plan is to let it all come in and take over, then I’ll rock that business like I’m Steve Martin. I mean, look at that guy’s hair. Pure, 100% silver white and no one cares. Which brings me to a sticking point…

Men are allowed to age. Women are not.

Yep. That’s the deal. Steve Martin sports his gray hair like nobody’s business and he seems distinguished. Hillary Clinton grows her hair out and pulls it back instead of coiffing it just so and people go bananas. Hey, people: shut up. Because Ms. Hillary Rodham Clinton is allowed to look however she wants. She’s allowed to get older, and to decide not to invest endless time and money into pretending she’s not getting older. Just like I am. We’re all allowed—men and women—to age with grace, and dignity, even affection (!) for our changing selves. My new rule: if Steve Martin can do it, so can I.

And then there’s the Thinspiration problem

I think the reason this is all on my mind right this second is because I keep happening upon what I’ve learned is called “thinspiration.” It’s like all those “how to drop 10 lbs in a month” or that picture of a woman squeezing her leg with the caption “how to solve the cellulite problem.” (Here’s a hint: stop squeezing your leg like that!)

Pinterest is brimming with these things, but so is the Today show, major news outlets, magazines—basically everywhere you look, you can find some “solution” for the problem of your—ahemnormal human body.

And to revisit my last point, how many dudes do you think are trying to solve their “cellulite problems”? How many under-eye creams do you think dudes are buying? Waxing kits? Boxes of hair dye? Skin primers? Lip balms? Anti-whatever-the-hell-is-wrong-with-you salves? Not nearly as many as women are. If a guy can save his money to go to the movies instead spending money to rip/bleach/laser blast his hair off, don’t you think you’re allowed to do the same? And menfolk, if you find yourselves falling into the trap of needing to look like a glowing, 2% body fat stone sculpture of a human, don’t worry about it. No one cares. Be a real human person with skin and hair and flaws. It’s okay. For all of us.

I don’t need to feel beautiful

I think our normal response in this discussion is to affirm beauty. To say, “No, no! You look [enter appropriate compliment here]!” And while this, indeed, is quite comforting, it doesn’t entirely solve the problem. Because, you know what? I’m not going to be “beautiful” when I’m 85. In fact, I’ll likely fall well below the beauty standard far, far before then. So will you. Even if you get surgery and shellac the crap out of yourself, everyone’s going to know that you’re not a 16-year-old girl. (Which is, apparently, our effed up standard for what people should always look like.)

I need to feel human. I need to watch time mark the days around my eyes and on my hips and through my hair and somehow feel more like myself, not less. I want each season to bring new scars, new wrinkles and more sag and for all that to make me feel that somehow, some way, I’m winning. I’m living. I’m human. I’m aging. It’s great.

Closing eyes and clicking heels

I want to believe all of these words through and through, without batting an eye. I want to banish that pang of guilt I feel every time I’m presented with the b.s. yardstick society so politely reminds me I’m not measuring up to. I want to embrace my changing, aging body without the knee-jerk reaction to sculpt it, starve it, or slather it into some other, better form. But for now, I’m closing my eyes, and clicking my heels, just hoping I’ll be transported to a mental home, free of these crazy, shrieking, body-hating monkeys.

And so, heroes of the internet with sagging boobs, and gray hair, and furry potbellies, I ask you to join me. Try with me. Get everyone you know to be down with aging. Wouldn’t it be rad if in 2033 there isn’t a single person out there writing this same freaking blog post? Fighting these same shrieking monkeys? There’s no place like…

What do you think?

(p.s. Check out this TED talk from model Cameron Russell. If models are still bummed about how they look after, you know, being the model for how people should look, maybe we’ve got it all wrong, huh?)

Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Rapists: The Verdict

3D Judges Gavel

Photo by stockmonkeys.com

The decision came down from Judge Lipps in Steubenville, OH yesterday: the defendants have both been found delinquent beyond a reasonable doubt on two counts of rape, and one count of distributing nude pictures of a minor. As a result, the two young men will spend at least one year, up to their 21st birthdays in juvenile detention, with one spending an extra year for the count of distributing the nude photos.

The Defense That Didn’t Work

With a pile of damning texts from 17 different phones, and testimony from witnesses describing the victim’s state, the defense didn’t have too much going for it. So two things went on trial: first, the victim; then, the concept of active, cognizant consent. Luckily, neither of these approaches worked.

Attacking the victim’s character, dress, or actions is a common response among rape apologists, and a major contributor to rape culture. The fact that someone tried to present this bizarre concept as a legal argument is appalling. It’s a major understatement to say that I’m relieved it didn’t work. Because it doesn’t matter if I’m naked—that doesn’t justify rape. It doesn’t matter if I’m a drunk—that doesn’t justify rape. If people think I’m “slutty,” or I’ve been relentlessly flirting with someone—none of this stuff justifies rape.

And consent? The defense tried to claim that because the victim willingly went to a party with her perpetrators, had been expressing sexual interest in them at one point in time, and had drank alcohol of her own will, somehow that all added up to consent. Umm…what? They even admitted that she was “impaired” while the assaults happened, but claimed that impairment—definition: having weakened human function—somehow didn’t apply to her ability to consent to sexual contact. That’s some serious nonsensical rubbish, and now a judge has confirmed it as such. Thank goodness.

The lesson here: consent is real and required. Learn it. Teach it. Use it.

Did They Not Know it Was Rape?

No doubt the defendants knew what they were doing was wrong. Deplorable. Indefensible. But if they are anything like some witnesses in the case, they may not have recognized it was rape. According to Ohio state law, it was.

Interesting/horrible factoid? What happened to the victim may not be classified as rape in some states, because there was no sexual intercourse and rape definitions vary from state to state. Additionally, it seems like a lot of states don’t require a “yes,” only an absence of or inability to say “no.” (Though that would have been enough in this case, since the judge decided she was too intoxicated to give consent.) If we’re going to be able to ward off and punish rape in its many forms, we need to have a common definition of what it is in the first place. Click here to find out how rape is defined in your state. It might be time to contact your representative. It would be FABULOUS if each state adopted the FBI’s very thorough definition of rape.

Where Do We Go From Here?

I’m relieved to see the judge stood by common sense definitions of rape and consent, and acted accordingly. I’m still appalled by the actions of these young men, the witnesses of the rape, and especially the coaches of the defendants.

I hope from here two things spread: knowledge and fear. Knowledge about what is and isn’t rape. (And for that matter, knowledge about how not to be a douchy creep.) And fear that your actions have real and lasting consequences. And I hope that heady combination will keep at least some young people from growing up to be rapists.

More excellent stuff on the topic:

Blame for Steubenville rape case goes way beyond Trent Mays and Ma’Lik Richmond, says anti-sexism activist Jackson Katz – NYDailyNews.com

Another thought-provoking video from Modern Primate

A petition to get high school coaches trained in and required to teach sexual violence prevention

Mama, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to be Rapists; Lessons from Steubenville, OH

slutwalk-30.jpg

Photo By rogamuffin via Flickr

Oh look! I’m back to our favorite lighthearted topic: rape! Joy of joys.

Today is the start of the trial for two Steubenville, OH high school athletes accused of repeatedly raping a very, very drunk young girl. I wrote a big long post with a lot of thoughts on this because, well…this is the type of thing that spurs a lot of thoughts for me. I changed my mind, though, and I’ve decided to just say a couple of things, then point you to read some words and watch some videos from people who are way smarter than me. So, here we go:

My Thoughts:

Rape is 100% the rapist’s fault. If I run around in my birthday suit, drink a fifth of Jack, flirt with a dude at a bar, pass out at his feet and then he rapes me, there’s still only one criminal here; only one person at fault. And the person at fault is the freaking rapist. There should be NO QUESTION here. Because, after all, it’s not my job to keep you from raping, it’s your job not to be a rapist. Duh.

The only way to know you’re not a rapist, is to know, know, know your partner wants to have sex with you when you are having sex with them. That’s it.

Rape is a type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse, which is initiated by one or more persons against another person without that person’s consent. The act may be carried out by physical force, coercion, abuse of authority or with a person who is incapable of valid consent, such as one who is unconscious, incapacitated, or below the legal age of consent. (via Wikipedia)

Consent. It doesn’t matter if you’ve had sex before, if you’re dating the person, if they’re dressed provocatively…none of that matters. You have to have consent. The easiest way to do that? Ask. Tell your partner that you’d love to have sex with them, and ask them if they’d like to have sex with you. If they say anything other than yes, don’t have sex with them. Blammo. Now you’re not a rapist. Whew! Isn’t that a relief?!

Somehow young men and women aren’t being taught this very simple rule of sexual conduct. So mamas, (and papas!) don’t let your babies grow up to be rapists. Have clear talks early and often about what consent is, about why reciprocity in relationships is so valuable, and about how everyone has a right to their own bodily integrity. Mamas, stand up for yourselves and other women. (You can do it! You deserve it!) Papas, be men that we can all be proud of; men that show respect as a default, and that stand up for women because it’s the right and awesome thing to do. Young men are absorbing the lessons you teach with your life—make sure you’re teaching well.

This horrible, sad Steubenville trial has taken on an even worse tone: consent is on trial. According to an article on Cleveland.com, the defense will argue that because the young girl got in the car with the defendants—even though she was later described as “dead” because she was so drunk—she consented to whatever sexual activity happened that night. Friends, that is a giant pile of bullshit. No matter what happens in this case, I’ll never accept that definition of consent, and I won’t sit by and let other people teach it. We all deserve more than that.

Ick. I’m so bummed.

Enough of me, here are some other people.

Check out this video from Modern Primate, which I found via Upworthy. This guy has it right. A billion high fives worth of right. Mamas and papas (heck, everyone): take note.

Zerlina Maxwell, a super smart person and rape survivor, recently got shouted at on the Sean Hannity Show (and threatened afterward) when she asserted that we shouldn’t try to curtail rape by telling women to carry guns, we should just tell dudes not to rape. There was so much barking in the segment that it was hard to hear her point, but luckily she followed it up with this piece on Ebony.com. Give it a read.

Here’s another great piece by Elizabeth Plank about the Steubenville case, consent, and rape culture.

I think that’s enough for now. It’d be great if we had such a colossal culture shift that these conversations weren’t necessary. We’d just all drink margaritas and play the tambourine. And I could get back to writing about french toast waffles and sarcasm. But sadly, these conversations ARE necessary. Join in, won’t you? But be nice, okay? Thanks.

Update: the two defendants were both found delinquent (the juvenile court equivalent of guilty). Click here to read my final thoughts, along with some other great links.

Of Course I’m Afraid of Nuclear Fallout

[220/365] Nuclear Fear (Explored)

Photo by pasukaru76 @ Flickr

I’ve been having weird dreams lately. And sleeping kinda restlessly. Sleep is literally my favorite thing to do, so it makes me a little bit cranky when it doesn’t work out quite the way I want it to. A lot of things make me cranky, though. Like:

  • Bathrooms that don’t have toilet seat covers
  • When you think you have another mango in the fridge, but discover you don’t
  • (Related) Starting a recipe and discovering half way through that you’re missing a key ingredient
  • People that don’t signal
  • Anything sticky

I could go on for some time in this fashion, because I’m essentially an 84-year-old woman in a 33-year-old’s body. I’m fine with that.

Aaaanyway…so yes, I’ve been having cranky-making sleep as of late. And the weird dreams always linger in the morning, so I spend the first couple hours of the day trying to get over the yelling match I had with my non-existent boss while ice skating; or the panic of accidentally marrying some terrible other person, then remembering I’m married to someone great, and now I have some serious paperwork to do; or spilling ALL the milk in the grocery store and trying in vain to clean it up before anyone notices.

This is a piss poor way to start the day, friends. If I was dreaming about flying that crazy dog thing from the NeverEnding Story to a sushi restaurant where I ate some yummy nigiri, the morning would be spent with the lingering memory of tasty fish. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Anyway, what happened the other night is WORSE than all those other stupid things. You know those times where you roll over and you’re awake for a little nanosecond and then you fall back asleep again? Well, something happened in that nanosecond. A little noise. Like, a bang or something. I live in the city, so it was probably someone’s cat farting in a trash can. You know, something innocuous like that. It was definitely not, as my sleepy little mind imagined, a nuclear bomb being intercepted high above the city, whose toxic contents were now showering 1.2 million people, all of whom, including myself and my family, were soon to have melting insides.

Yeah, it definitely wasn’t that.

But to a sleepy little brain, whose imagination truly knows no bounds, that didn’t matter one little bit. Nope, because the idea had hatched, like a frightening sharp-toothed alien turtle, and now it was going to rip apart my conscience like a squeaky chew toy. Can I just say that I’m super fun? I mean, like a laugh riot o’ fun.

So the next half hour’s thoughts went like this:

That was probably a nuclear bomb.

Okay, it definitely wasn’t.

But probably most certainly was. *scratches skin* Is my skin coming off? No, not yet. That’s good. But when will it? Or is that even the right test? Do your insides just melt or something? I think I remember reading that once. And that all the DNA in all of my cells is fried now. What happens?

Everyone is going to die. We don’t have enough food in the house to survive nuclear fallout. I’m a terrible parent. Couldn’t I have just donated $50 to NPR? I’m pretty sure one of their contributor gifts would save my whole family, AND keep Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me on the air. What the hell is my problem?!

I should check Google.

You definitely should not check Google, you crazy SOB. Stay in bed. GO TO BED.  Now. Go to bed now. Now. Right now.

I should check Google. Although, would they even put it on Google? The government would probably hide it as long as possible as to not create a panic. But I know already. I’m ahead of the curve.

My poor family. We can’t drink the water now, probably. We have no water or food and our insides are melting.

And THEN…and then. Oh freaking lord, and then. I start thinking how if we’re going to starve, and dehydrate, and our insides were turning to goo, then we should probably figure out a way to commit suicide together.

WHAT?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY BRAIN?!

And that’s when I a) see, in stark relief, that this line of thinking has gone a touch too far and b) beg whatever demented gremlin that has taken over my brain to please, oh please, oh please let me fall asleep.

To my credit, I didn’t check Google. Somehow, I fell back asleep. And in the morning, everyone’s insides were intact, and the fear that had gripped me so tightly in the middle of the night was gone. Like magic. Poof.

I don’t know how this stuff happens, but I know this: I don’t want to live gripped in fear. I hate that fear gets the best of me sometimes. Clearly, it’s a pretty big freaking bummer. The last few months have given us all a thousand things to fear, and it seems like that won’t be letting up any time soon. But fear and worry have never solved anything. So I’m gonna try to do less of that.

Good luck to me. Good luck to all of us.

(p.s. I’ve decided I won’t be watching that new show, The Following. I’m pretty sure it will make me afraid of all humans—even the baby ones. An ounce of prevention…)

What kind of monsters are in your closet?

Thank You For Your Valuable Feedback: The Art of Interpersonal Customer Service

photo by Thad Zajdowicz

photo by Thad Zajdowicz

A very kind, smart, caring, professional, and good-looking friend (that last part is irrelevant, but what the hey—it’s true) just received her very first piece of hate mail. The criticisms aren’t about widgets not being springy enough, or jeans shrinking in the wash. The criticisms are more personal, more pointed, more…lively.

These kinds of things basically make you want to retreat to an igloo, living out your days in the company of dead fish and wandering arctic wolves. Or, at least, that’s my first response. So, being the kind, smart, professional person that *I* am, I thought I would save her the trouble of writing a reply. Feel free to use it yourself, should the occasion arise.

Dear Concerned Sir/Madam,

Thank you for your valuable feedback!

There are so many items and facets to address (wonders, really!), but I will do my best to give you the attentiveness that you so kindly gave me.

First, I must commend you on the tremendous effort you have displayed. Your thoughts were carefully constructed, and neatly typed out. There was not even a trace of food from the anger-snacking I assume you participated in before, during, and after writing this. I mean, there was not even a small amount of Cheeto powder or Ding Dong filling…color me impressed. And then, you folded the letter, put it in an envelope, addressed it properly, and took it to the post office! Were you going there already? Or did you make a special stop just for me? Either way, just look at that follow through.

Secondly, I can’t thank you enough for sharing your thoughts about my sexual orientation. Did you know that I didn’t even know I’m a lesbian? It’s true! Here I’ve been dating and enjoying men my entire life. A feel a little foolish for being so blatantly out of touch with myself, but grateful for your brave counsel. Someone else suggested that you may not be more in touch with my feelings than I am, but rather are using sexual orientation as an insult…but that seems below both of us, doesn’t it? I’m glad you agree.

I also really enjoyed the sweeping generalizations you used for entire groups of people. Some people call that prejudice, or just being an unbearable troll, but I can see how you were just trying to be efficient. Equally impressive was the way you disparaged both my employer and the people we serve—that way no one has to feel left out!

It got a little ramble-y toward the end, but you did bring it to a swift and succinct close when you stripped me of my value both as a “woman” and as a “human being.” The feedback from my peers suggested that perhaps this was an ugly overstatement, and inappropriate for civil dialog, but you know what I see? A fresh start! There’s no where to go from here but up! In fact, any future criticisms you might have are essentially unnecessary at this point: what could you possibly expect from someone who has failed both as an expression of the female gender, and as a human being of any kind? If you find yourself disappointed in me in the future, I think it’s safe to say you have yourself to blame; appropriate expectations are key.

Again, thank you for your valuable feedback—I regret that I need to wrap this letter up to attend to my many personal and professional shortcomings that you’ve painstakingly outlined. I can only hope to attain the kind of human perfection that you’ve clearly attained, removing my need for self-reflection, and freeing me to mercilessly judge members of my community with impunity.

Warm regards,

[Your Name Here]

p.s. Just for future reference, is anonymity required when sending merciless judge letters? Or was that just for an air of mystery? Be patient with me, please (see above re: failed human being).

How to Be Beautiful

It’s hard to be beautiful. There are so many ointments to apply, so many devices to wield, so many techniques to employ…yeesh! It’s surprising that more women don’t have flasks in their brassieres—who wouldn’t need a morning drink after all of that?

And it’s not really optional. Sure, there are some rad young women out there daring to step in the daylight without makeup on their faces, but for most women, we get shooed back into our bathrooms by societal pressure or self-doubt if we walk down that road. Shooed, I say!

I mean, when Candy Crowley (the moderator for the second 2012 presidential debate) gets pre-emptively bashed for her weight and looks (not her qualifications or skill), I think that underscores the demand for women to—above all—be pretty. Even Martha Stewart had a recent article with instructions on how to—I shit you not—”avoid the pull of gravity” on your neck. (Love you, Martha, but damn…really?!) I mean, putting on a little lip gloss is one thing, but somehow skirting the laws of the universe seems like a little too lofty a goal.

But Hey, If You Can’t Beat ‘em, Shellac the Crap Right out of Your Face

The other day I was in a fake pageant for my friend Melissa‘s birthday. It was kind of fabulous and insane, and Stephen and I performed the oddest combination of talents and abilities in the history of talents and abilities. If you and your milieu find yourselves wanting for entertainment, please throw a pretend adult pageant. You won’t regret it! Anyway, as part of the pageant planning process, I looked up how to do super fancy pageant make-up ala Miss America, via the source of all knowledge: YouTube.

I forgot to take pictures of the process, so I decided to recreate it through Photoshop with my hard-earned, under-used Photoshop wizardry. It’s both instructive and entertaining, so sit down and enjoy yourself, okay? Alright. Here we go:

Here’s me starting out. Look at that face. It’s like Cinderella’s been using it to clean the windows. Yikes. Gotta fix that business, and fast!

Step 1: Cover that freaking skin up!

Okay, now this part isn’t actually in the video, but you can tell that she has foundation ALL OVER that business. So, you should do something kinda like this:

Except that’s mildly terrifying, so you need to blend it. Blend it. Like so:

Oops—lost the eyebrows in the process, but that’s no big deal. Just draw those bad boys back in there.

Sweet. Lookin’ good.

Now We Work on Dramatic Eyes! With Drama!

Okay, so you start smudging white stuff under your “brow bone” and on the inner corner of your eyes. Kinda like a zombie! And then blend, of course, then you do some other darker shades on your eye lids, and then draw some even darker triangles on the corner of your eyes. It’s kind of like coloring in preschool, except on your face.

And then you do more white stuff under your eyes. I’m not sure why we couldn’t do that earlier, but whatever. I’m the student, not the teacher.

And blend…

And now black where you just put white…

And now you look like a kitty! Which is the best time to start gluing things on your face. Your eyelids, specifically. Glue some fake eyelashes right about where your real ones are, since your real ones are now engulfed by dramatic, colored powders.

Okay, the eyes are done! Now we need to add “natural glow” back where we covered it with paste at the beginning. And add some highlights to give dimension. (I know we had dimension before we started this whole charade. I get it. But just go with it. I mean…I’m lookin’ pretty dang good, so…you know. Don’t rock the makeup bag.)

So natural! Add a little lipstick…

Tada!

Now, that’s about all I can do with makeup. BUT, since we’re already working with Photoshop, lets use a few of the tricks that people frequently employ to “enhance” a woman’s face in print and on the web.

Eyes Like a Baby Dolphin! Teeth Made of Ivory!

It’s proven that larger eyes are more attractive, so let’s get that done. And, hey, the whiter the teeth, the better, right? And might as well fix that little chip in my tooth…and make my eyes “pop” a little more…

*tinker tinker tinker* …

PERFECT!

What the Hell…Let’s Stick Something Else on Your Head

We all know that curly blonde hair is preferred over dark, witch hair, so we’ll just swap that out and we’ll be done!

…drum roll please…

…drum drum drum…

And…I’m done! Sure, I look like something the devil dreamt about after watching too many episodes of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo while listening to a Dolly Parton station on Pandora, but—whew!—isn’t that so much better than my, you know, skin? And real face and teeth? You go enjoy that, friends. I’m here to help.

What’s your relationship with makeup like? Love it? Hate it? Please do share.

(And don’t forget! You can get a weekly dose of my A-game—like this—by subscribing via WordPress, email or RSS)

Dear Dentist, Please Don’t Let Me Die

New! Tooth holder Plush

Photo By Sappymoosetree @ Flickr

A while ago I went to the dentist. I have a decent fear of the dentist for a few of reasons: a) it smells funny in there b) people always complain about the horrific things that take place c) you’re forced to look at  someone else’s nose hairs (even if it’s a momentary, horrified glance) d) why do dentists have so many nose hairs?! and, e) most importantly, my parents didn’t really take me to the dentist, so I never had the opportunity for it to become normal and natural. Lack of exposure to neutral experiences + active imagination = irrational fear and avoidance of epic proportions. (Note from the Don’t Eff Your Kids Up Foundation: take your kid to the freaking dentist.)

So, now I have to pick between my fear of smells/nose hairs/pain/people fishing around in my mouth, and my fear of developing some kind of mouth abscess, which spreads infection to my jaw, which eventually spreads to my brain, which would then give me meningitis and I would die—of tooth decay. I would MUCH rather die battling a porpoise. (You know you would, too. I mean, seriously. Would you rather have your tombstone read, “The dummy couldn’t figure out flossing,” or “Her mastery of porpoise-battle taught us all the meaning of courage”? I think if we’re honest, we’re all aiming for the latter. )

But, alas, the last time I went to the dentist (*cough* over a year ago), they said I should probably get a few spots filled “as soon as possible.” Which all humans interpret as “about a year from now, after you quit hyperventilating about it.” Right? (Thanks for backing me up on this one, guys.)

So, we saved up some money after our tax return, and I put it in an envelope designated for tooth-fixery. And then my husband lost his job for a while, so I decided I needed to wait until we were a little more stable before blowing a bunch of money on keeping teeth in my head. And then after he got his job again I got afraid of the dentist some more, so I avoided it, only really seriously considering it whenever I got the ol’ fear-o-meningitis.

Then, a few weeks ago, I decided to start making lists of things to do for the day. I would typically put 2-3 things on the list, because then I could do them ALL in one day, and feel like the Hillary Clinton of mundane life responsibilities. This is how I tricked myself into calling the dentist and making an appointment like an adult.

And then came the dicey part, when I actually had to go to the dentist and have razors jammed in my gums. (Or whatever they do at the dentist. See above re: lack of exposure.)

In the days leading up to my visit, I crafted this speech to give to my new dentist:

Dear Dentist [note: this is a weird way to start a speech, seeing as I’m looking right at him, not scribbling this with a quill],

I’m slightly terrified of you and everything in here. But I’m more terrified that I will have a cavity, the cavity will get bigger and bigger, then the large cavity will get bacteria in it, which will lead to an infection, and that infection will lead to meningitis, which will lead to my untimely death.

Also, I’m aware that I have a couple of cavities already, but I need you to act like whatever you find is no big deal. Like, just act like it’s all going to be okay, because maybe then I’ll keep coming to the dentist, and then I won’t die in the street.

So, to recap: my life or death is entirely dependent on your reaction to whatever tooth-related situation I have going on. No pressure. (But lots of pressure.) Please keep smiling as much as possible. But not in a creepy way. Just play it cool, okay? Stop freaking out. Oh, that’s me freaking out? Well, whatever! If you were being cooler right now I would probably be calm!

I’m sorry. Keep trying. I’m pretty sure this is going to be unpleasant for everyone involved. Do you tip dentists? I have a dollar in my purse. Nice to meet you.

Sincerely,

Melanie

It should be seen as a testament to my self-control that I only said some of those things. The kind, unsuspecting dentist informed me that I would not die that day of anything tooth related. He also did the poking/number-shouting thing on my gums. He told me that all the numbers needed to be three or below. None of my numbers were above three, so when he was done I said, “I win at gums, right?” and then there was a long, puzzled silence.

Now I need to add to my to-do list, “Call dentist to schedule more tooth stuff.” I’m sure he’s real excited about our reunion.

How do you do at the dentist? Any fun stories? Like that one time that you went to the dentist and they gave you a puppy named Sir Francis Furrypants? (See above re: lack of exposure.)

If Hurricanes Were People, They’d Be A-holes

Every now and again I have a conversation in my head with…say…a traffic light. Or the table. Or those bark-y dogs a few houses up from me. My brain clearly has some pretty piss poor decision-making skills, because if I weren’t having pretend conversations with the laundry, I could probably be inventing agriculture systems that can survive on Mars and we’d all be eating Martian carrots right now. I feel like I should apologize for that.

Anyway, I am who I am, and as such I was having a conversation the other day with Hurricane Isaac. It was in that conversation that I realized that if hurricanes were people, they’d be a-holes. See for yourself.

Me: Is that a goatee?

Isaac: Yeah, it looks awesome, doesn’t it? Imma score some ladies with this business.

Me: Awesome plan. Totally gonna work. That, or you’ll destroy everything you touch and people will make little voodoo hurricane dolls and hope you get hurricane STDs.

Isaac: Whatever. I know I look good.

Me: …

Isaac: Wanna go party? I’m headed inland. I’m gonna be cool about it, though.

Me: Oh yeah? First time for everything, I guess.

Isaac: Yeah, I’m gonna be totally cool. Waltz in, water some plants, blow around a little just for show, then head on out.

Me: Sure you won’t get all drunk and pick up people’s cars and crush their neighbors’ cats with them?

Isaac: Hey, I’ve NEVER done that. Sure, some people in my family have, but I’m my own man, okay? Besides, people in my family are famous so, you know…crazy works.

Me: Yeah?

Isaac: Uuhhh…YEAH. Katrina? Ring any bells?

Me: Of course it rings bells. Everyone freaking hated her. HATED her. She was maybe the most terrible thing ever.

Isaac: She wasn’t that bad.

Me: Have you lost your mind?! She killed a TON of people. A TON of them. And destroyed like, ALL the houses in New Orleans.

Isaac: You know what? You’re so judge-y.

Me: Yeah, I guess I am.

Isaac: Hey, hey!  Baby, baby, baby…

Me: Ick. Stop calling me baby.

Isaac: Baby, come on baby.

Me: Fine. What?

Isaac: Shhhhh, shhh, shhh…shuuuush. Baby, don’t be so hard on yourself. We all have problems.

Me: Ugh…you’re so gross.

Isaac: So gross that you like it?

Me: No.

Isaac: Oh, I see…so gross that you LOVE it. You love it gross, huh baby?

Me: Ohmigod, no! You’re so pervy! How is it even possible to be that pervy?

Isaac: Hey! Don’t you go running your mouth off, woman, or I swear I’ll pick up a tree and rip your face off with it!

Me: Holy crap! Calm down!

Isaac: I’m sorry, baby. We’re getting closer to land. You know how I get…come rub my goatee.

Me: No. Thanks. I’m good.

Isaac: Fine! I’m gonna go get with that peninsula over there and we’re gonna have a ton of baby tornadoes together! Then how will you feel!? You’ll feel terrible!

Me: You’re an a-hole.

Isaac: Your face is an a-hole!

Me: Fine. My face is an a-hole. Are we done here?

Isaac: Yeah. Yeah we are.

Me: Great.

Hurricanes—they’re a bunch of a-holes. Stay safe out there, people.

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