Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Things that feel good: Volume 1

Today was an okay day.  Not great, but not bad.  So I needed to kick it up a notch.

I decided to do something that felt good.  Nothing crazy, just a little... indulgent. 

Usually, I don't indulge in such behavior.

But I never knew why I didn't.  So today, I did the best thing after I got home from work.

I sat in my living room in my underwear, drank a glass of milk and ate a doughnut.

And it felt good. 

Obviously the doughnut (or donut, depending on how lazy a speller you are) was awesome.  I got my amazing doughnut at a local (but famous) doughnut shop in town.  The underwear was a nice addition, as I love sitting around in my underwear when I watch Saturday morning cartoons. So I decided that I needed to start doing more things that feel good.  Even if they are silly (or trivial.)

I'm not trying to tell you your business; but you should too.  Go do something that feels good.  Even if its something small.  Go for it.  You deserve it.  Then maybe tell me about it in the comments.  I would love that.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

What my own fat shame taught me

I've tried to write an intro to this for a while.  I couldn't think of how to introduce this, or what made me write it down; but here it is.
In grad school,  I became really close with a boy in one of my classes.  He was smart, funny, interesting.  He was also handsome.  His lithe body would breeze into the classroom late, and no one criticize him for interrupting our session.  A few girls would blush (including the teacher) and he would sit and class would continue.   

Of course, I also thought he was handsome.  But he was also thoughtful; principled;  idealistic; passionate; witty; intelligent and brave.  Very few people got to know him though, he was handsome, and that apparently spoke enough about him.

As a fat girl, I had come to realize that the package one comes in is one fraction of their story.  As someone whose body is commented on, and graded; whose lifestyle apparently can be assumed from what I look like; I knew early on that the book can't actually be judged by its cover-- no matter how pretty the cover is. 
I am sad to admit, that it wasn't some grand enlightenment that helped me come to this conclusion.  It was shame.  All-compassing shame about my body, and therefore myself.  It's not hard to internalize fat-shame; we see and hear it every day- almost everywhere.   Some days, I'm strong and fierce.  Others, I hate all my clothes; I hate my hair; I hate everything I see in the mirror.  If I was thin this would all look better, I say to myself.  I skip breakfast, keep my head down and stay quiet- as if I could melt into the backgrounds.  

My shame taught me to listen the "advice" given to me by adults in my young life.  If I didn't have the looks, I should have the personality.  If you have to be fat, you might as well be smart, or funny, or artistic.  I never did my hair, put on makeup.  I took that precious time, and developed my personality and skills-- that's all I had to work with apparently.  I was a champion public-speaker and debater.  I sang.  I did theatre.  I was good at these things, but that was never enough.  When jokes about "the fat lady singing" made me cry, I was admonished, why would I choose something so public to do?  

My own shame taught me to ignore my body, and by extension other people's bodies too.  If I didn't comment on their body, then maybe they wouldn't comment on mine.  It was a tactic of self-preservation in a way.  Silence on the subject kept my tears at bay.  If I didn't bring up what people looked like, maybe my friends wouldn't tell me about the "new diet" they used that worked so well.  Maybe they wouldn't send me website about how successful others have been after gastric-bypass surgery.  Maybe, just maybe, they would see past my shell to what I thought was lurking beneath it.  

My shame taught me to talk to pretty boys like they were people.  Why shame?  I couldn't get giggly and silly like other girls did.  There was no way that a pretty boy would like my body.  He would never kiss me, so I would be their friend.  My shame taught me I was undesirable-- but my mind taught me that I was smart, charming, funny, interesting.  At least, I was worth talking to.
And this is how I came to know the handsome boy.  We studied together, and hung out like friends do.  Apparently, he flirted with me often.  My shame wouldn't let me see that.  He told me I was pretty.  My shame told me he was just being nice.  He invited me to events he organized.  My shame told me that he couldn't find anyone else to go. 

Before class, he walked over to my group, and asked if I wanted to go and have coffee that night.  I said sure.  The surprised thin, blond girl beside me asked if I was dating handsome boy.  My shame made me laugh and reply that we were "just friends" of course.  And her relief at the news was visible.  Handsome boy turned around and told her that it was a date.  That he had just asked me on a date.  Then he asked me if that was alright.  My shame made me feel confused.  Why was this a date?  Was he trying to make a statement?  Was he making fun of me?  I had trained myself so well to not trust any advances.  It had to be a trick.  I could not understand why someone would want my body.  I settled with the idea that he was going to try to see past my fatness.  

The surprise returned to my classmate's face, "why would he want to go out with you instead of m--." Her expression mirrored what I felt about my body.  But this time, instead of shame, I felt anger.  How dare someone utter that thought out loud.  We were all thinking it, but to say it? 

But it was exactly what I needed to hear.  

Once it was out there, I couldn't bury it deep within me anymore.  I had to face the unspoken understanding and relationship of my body in that space with those people.  I knew what they thought-- because my shame made me feel it too.   But my anger at that comment, and the gentle encouragement of my boy friend made me push that shame aside to comment on my own worthiness.  

I needed to hear my own self love out loud.  

I would love to say that I stood and delivered a triumphant speech that changed everyone's ideas about bodies and fatness.  Really what came out of me that day were tears and a muffled, "I am worth a date.  I am a good choice."  Followed by my leaving class and hiding out in the women's bathroom until he got fed up and came in there.  I told you he was brave.

I wish I could say that my shame never affected me again.  But that wouldn't be true.  I never went on that date.  I never confronted that classmate who I thought was my friend.  I graduated and tried to leave it behind me.   I wish I could say that I don't look for acceptance from other people.  But the fact is, I do.  I don't think I will ever be able to completely stop looking for it there.  But I'm wiser now.  So I only look for the acceptance I crave from people I love; like-minded fatties who understand the politics of their existence.  

And even though I have been able to work on keeping my fat shame away, some days it rears its ugly head.  Sometimes, I am confident mini-skirt wearing beauty, flirting and being my charming self.    Other times, I am that baggy sweatshirt wearing wallflower, who would do anything to fade into the background.   So when those shameful moments happens, I try and write it down and read it.  I have to hear it out loud-- otherwise I won't try to fight it.    

Monday, 6 May 2013

Liebster is German, I think.

Source for image

I may have won this before.  I can't remember.  But I refuse to check and see if I did win, because it was totally a nice surprise from Hope over at Hopefully Smashing.  Thank you, Hope for thinking of me and this here lil' ol' blog o' mine. 

The Liebster Award is given from one blogger to another. They should admire that bloggers work and want to promote their blog to others. It should be given to a relatively small blog (with less than 300 followers). The person receiving the award has to answer 11 random questions about themselves, provide 11 random facts, and then nominate a few other bloggers. 

11 Questions Answered:

1. What's your favorite place to eat?
Home.  When I have time, and the energy, I am a mean cook.  I don't really like eating in restaurants.  It's a quirk I have.

2. Who or what inspired you to get into blogging?
I first started blogging with some friends as a way to keep abreast of all the news in our lives-- we live on 4 separate continents!  The rest of them stopped the blog thing and kept up with the facebook thing, but I continued blogging about my interests.  I used to have a knitting blog, because I was big into knitting.  Makes sense.  But I also wanted to write about other thing too.  So I stopped my knitting blog and started this one.  Why did I start my knitting blog?  I used to write knitting patterns and a blog was a great way to share them. 

3. If you could pick, what would be your dream job?
Teacher.  Or rock star.

4. How would you describe your perfect day?
Wake up after a good night's sleep; coffee; road trip somewhere great like the Aberfoyle Antique Market; frozen yogurt; nap. 

5. Who is your biggest inspiration?
Like, ever?  My dad.  He grew up poor and black in the segregated South U.S. and still followed his dreams to become an "All American"football player and a professional athlete.   He reminds me that "it's not where you come from, butHis life where you are going."

6. If you had a million dollars, what would you do with it?
Something boring, like pay debts.  Travel.  Donate some of it. 

7. What's the craziest thing you've ever done?
Work in a war-torn country. 

8. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
New Orleans.  Love that place.

9. What was your favorite thing as a kid?
My favorite toy?  Thing to do?  This is a vague question.

10. What's your biggest pet peeve?
Racism.  That shit doesn't make any sense.

11. How has blogging changed your life?
I share more on my blog.  IRL I used to be pretty tight-lipped.  If you can believe that.

11 Random Facts (If you really want to know):

1.  I'm of mixed race.  I'm biracial, Black and White.  It is pretty obvious that I'm not white, but it's not totally easy to tell what background I am.  The biggest annoyance I had growing up was people asking me if I was adopted. 

2. I am super sarcastic.  It is my not-so-secret super-power.

3. I used to be an opera singer.  I was in 2 operas.

4. I like poetry.  My favorite poem is "The Highwayman" by Alfred Noyes.  That should be a movie.  Second fave:  "Stopping by Woods" by Robert Frost.  Both of these poems I can recite from memory.

5.  I try to keep it clean here, but I swear like I'm part sailor in my personal life.  A bad habit, but hey; it's part of my discourse now. 

6. I love comedies over dramas. 

7. I play the piano, guitar, alto and tenor saxophone, flute, and ukulele.  I also sing.  I love music.  Any kind of music.  Honestly.  Even country music. 

8. I hate going to the movie theater.  When I have to go, I develop a pseudo-psychiatric (or fake disorder) condition called "Theater-rage."  I am prone to loud outbursts when people answer their cell phones during the movie; when people talk during the movie; when people are late and disrupt other around them for seats-- they should go to the front rows.  I call them "the late box."  I'm even getting mad now just thinking about it.  I haven't been to a movie in more than 7 months.

9. I'm am finding it difficult to think of 11 interesting things about me.  This probably says something about me...

10.  I've had many weird jobs.  My weirdest? I was an exterminator for 3 years.

11.  My star sign is a cancer.  Even though I don't believe in it, I am very much like horoscope books describe cancerians.  So, that's interesting.  Right?

Nominated: Meg from Miles from Ordinary; and Becky from United States of Becky.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Made: Knitted Baby-Cardis

Did you know that I liked to knit?  I totally do!  I used to have a knitting blog, but I always felt bad that I was posting other things and not enough knitting, so I often felt guilty about the blog-- you know how blog-guilt is.  So I gave it up, and started this blog about all kinds of things.

ANYWAYS, I still knit sometimes.  Especially when I find out my friends are having babies!  Lots of babies seems to be showing up in my friends bellies.  So I made these cute sweaters.

So I knit this pattern, and it was really easy!  Its "top-down," so no seaming.  And I really like how they turned out.  I think that they are classy; something a baby can read while reading a good novel, and sipping some single-malt scotch.

Obviously, I don't know much about raising a child.

But I do know that they need to be warm.  And these wool sweaters will do the trick.

I chose these colors because I don't know if the babes are going to be boys or girls.  Not that it matters, these sweater are cute enough for either.  The yarn I used is Madeline Tosh Vintage, in Opaline (grey) and Turquoise.   Each sweater took just over one skein of yarn.  It was also a little pricey-- but you only have one firstborn, right?  And I think every baby should have something handmade.

I love the buttons.  I "inheirited" some old buttons from a friend who's mom was one crafty lady.  I love using them on my projects.  I like that they are used on a project that is so special.

Overall, I'm pretty excited and a little impressed with these sweaters.  I hope that the moms-to-be that I give them to enjoy them.  And I hope that they keep the little babies warm.

If you are a knitter, here are the details of this project:

Pattern: Baby Sophisticate (Ravelry Pattern)
Size: 6-12 months
Yarn: Madeline Tosh Vintage, 1 1/2 skeins per sweater; colors Opaline and Turquoise
Needles: US Size 8, 20" circulars and DPNs
Time to complete: About 9-10 hours each