Monday, May 30, 2011

Mad Fat Beats-- NOT

I have always been a passive fan of Blondie. Largely, the Blondie phenomenon was over by the time I became aware of music, but there are a few songs that I like quite a bit. I enjoy "One Way or Another," in spite of it sounding like it was written by a stalker about her victim, and there are others I don't remember right now but which I like a lot; but mostly I love Debbie Harry. I think she's fantastically cool. She's beautiful and strange. She (still) wears too much brightly colored makup and bleaches her hair and dresses punkily and has a very big persona. She was also on the forefront of quite a few trends, back in the 80's, several years before they became pop culture phenomena.
Like rap.
The Blondie song, "Rapture," was the first mainstream song to contain a rap. And Debbie Harry was, unfortunately, the one rapping. Take a look. Forward to 2:06 and let the horror begin:

She's just horrendous. I've never heard such a bad rap. I have heard better raps at comedy improv shows. Or on commercials. For that matter, I'm willing to bet that better raps have been laid down at a retirement village in St. Paul.
Of course, at the time this song came out, no one outside of the NYC street/club scene even knew what she was doing, so we had nothing to compare it to. We just knew it was new and intriguing. Like Debbie Harry.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Always Constant

I have always had issues with weight. I grew up in a family of eleven children and I was the only one that was overweight. Going to school was bad enough with kids picking on me because of it, but going home and actually seeing it was another story all together. My brothers and sisters never made fun of me, or ever made me feel bad for it. Sometimes my parents would make a comment and it would sting, but I wouldn't let them see that it hurt me, because I didn't want to give them ammunition to use in the future for any other times they wanted to upset me.

I had lived with being overweight my entire life, but by the time I was a freshman in high school I can honestly say that I hated myself. I had no self esteem. None. I wouldn't look people in the eyes. I would wear baggy clothes to try and hide my weight, and every day I wanted to die. My freshman year in high school sucked. My older sister was viciously mean to me and would pick fights with other kids in school and tell them I was saying things. This resulted in many confrontations with kids I thought were unbelievably scary, but somehow I managed to walk away without being beat least not physically. I walked home two miles every day from school and thought about how awful I looked and what a horrible monster I was. To me, weight was a very big issue. So big, that I was convinced the only reason people would talk to me was because they felt sorry for me. I was super shy, and content to be invisible, though I knew my size prevented me from being such.

In my English class there was a kid who sat a few seats in front of me. His name was Nick Conn. He was a "skinhead" (or at least as close to a skinhead as you could get in Southern California) with his hair shaved half way up his head, while the rest of his hair fell straight down to his neck. He had light blond hair that he would occasionally pull back into a ponytail, and light blue eyes. We didn't know each other before class, but he was friends with another boy named Aaron who I kind of knew. I didn't pay much attention to either of them. My one goal for every day was to make it through the day and get home without saying much of anything. I hated going to school. I felt so out of place and so conspicuous. I wore this gray sweater that zipped up the front every single day. It didn't matter if it was 50 degrees or the more constant 110 degrees. I hated the way my arms looked and so I wore it no matter what. I hate that gray sweater to this day.

Every day I came to my English class Nick would smile and wave at me. At first I just ignored him because I thought he was making fun of me. Later on, whenever we had free time in class, he would come over and spend a few minutes talking to me, even though I rarely, if ever, said anything back to him. After a while, he started giving me hugs. At first I was super apprehensive about this, certain once again that he was making fun of me. The hugs were never returned. My guard was up and I was on to him.

One day I was sick so I stayed home from school. I relished those times because it meant that I didn't have to be seen by everyone at school. I didn't have to walk the halls wondering what kind of insults people were going to throw at me, and reviewing in my mind the quickest escapes from those type of situations. When I went back to school the next day and walked into my English class, there was Nick. He had a big smile on his face, and he came right up and gave me the biggest hug before I even had a chance to step all the way into the room. He said, "I missed you yesterday. Where were you?"

"I was sick," I replied curtly.

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. Are you feeling better today?" He inquired.

"Yeah," I said, then quickly went to my seat.

He followed me over and continued to talk to me about everything I missed and shared with me all the things that happened to him as well. I could tell in his eyes that he meant what he was saying and that it wasn't some kind of joke that he was leading me in to.

It took me three quarters of the year to realize that he considered me a friend, and wanted me to be his. I realized that he was being nice because he wanted to, and that maybe it was possible for someone to talk to me out of wanting to be my friend, and not just because they felt sorry for me. One day, Nick gave me a hug and I gave him one back. I could tell by the shocked expression on his face that it surprised him, but before he could say anything about it I raced to my seat and buried my face in a book. I saw him smile as he sat down and class began. The next day we had a free period and Nick came over to talk to me. He told me a funny joke and I smiled. He stopped and looked me right in the eyes and said, "You have a beautiful smile. You should smile more often." I got embarrassed and looked down again.

The last few months of the year found Nick and I talking about all sorts of things. I didn't offer much in the way of conversation, but I liked that he enjoyed talking so much. It gave me a chance to escape my own troubles for a little bit and listen to stories about his life. By the end of the year he really changed my thinking about how I felt about myself and my weight. I noticed a change in my thoughts and attitude towards how I looked, and it was good. Nick gave me one more final hug good-bye on the last day of class, then smiled and left.

The school year ended and summer was in full swing. I felt free to be myself in my house and my yard, and around my family a little too. It was a learning and growing summer for me. I knew I had to be back at school in a few short months and I was changing so many things. I couldn't wait to go back to school and show Nick the new me. I hadn't lost any weight, but I had gained self confidence and self esteem, and it probably didn't hurt that I gained a bit of an attitude toward those who would try and make fun of me for my weight. I armed myself with insults and comebacks that would cut down the best of them, thanks to my sister who helped me learn how to deal with those type of jerks.

The first day of school came much too quickly, but there I was in Birkenstocks, blue jeans, a black short-sleeved shirt (can you believe it?!?!) and a new hair cut. People didn't even recognize me. It was such a great day. I searched everywhere for my friend Nick, but I couldn't find him. At the end of the day I saw Aaron and asked him where Nick was. Even he didn't recognize me. I was an entirely different person and I was happy. He told me that Nick had moved away at the end of the school year the year before and he didn't know where he went. I was sad as I walked home from school because I really wanted to thank Nick for taking the time to befriend someone who was so down on themselves and truly hated the way they looked and who they were. I wanted to give him the biggest hug I could possibly give and express my gratitude for his friendship and his persistence. He changed my life. It's been almost eleven years since then and I still think about him. He really helped me understand betterh who I was and how I looked. I still have issues with my weight to this day, but I know how to handle it now, and it's all thanks to this tiny blond-haired kid named Nick Conn.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Weight. Hmph. I don't like this topic very much, but I cannot escape it. It's a damn fixation in our society.
Nearly everyone I know is obsessed with it. At least four people at work are currently going to Weight Watchers, which means they sit around all day and talk about food. What foods they can eat, what foods take too many points away from their day. It always happens when I'm having a snack, too, which makes me feel weird and exposed, like some sort of carnival freak. Even though most of my snacks are fruit, or low fat yogurt, or a small handful of peanuts, or the like- healthy things. Another one of my friends is now on the wait list (what an unintentional pun that is) for bariatric surgery. It's completely inescapable.
Weight has dogged me my whole life. I come from a large people. No matter what I eat or don't eat, how much I do or do not exercise, I've never been able to get to a number that makes people back the fuck off. I've been heavy my whole life. And to tell you the truth, I generally don't care, except that people always harp on it. They don't generally point and laugh (although it has been known to happen from time to time), but they do unintentionally offend me sometimes while trying to be good natured. I eat mostly healthy foods, but I am not fanatical. I love candy so I eat it when I want it, not as much as I want to, as it should be. I swim three days a week. I stand up in my cubicle for at least 6 hours a day instead of sitting on my butt all the time. I am five years smoke free this month! I am generally taking steps to be a healthy person- and yet, people who don't know these things assume I'm a lazy over eater.
I spent all of my adolescence and quite a long time in my adulthood being convinced of that myself. I had the lowest self-esteem imaginable. People would tell me I was pretty and I actually thought they were lying to me for some reason. I have finally gotten to a point in my life where that is behind me, but I still find myself being self-conscious in the most mundane situations- at the ice cream parlor, in a restaurant, eating lunch at work- because I know that other people are making snap judgments. They can't believe it's possible to be healthy AND heavy.
So, yeah, not my favorite topic. I know that I chose to interpret it this way- but do you blame me?


When we bought our little farmette, there was a gigantic metal wheel (like a wheel from a large tractor) hanging on the wall inside the barn. One day I went out there, and the wheel had fallen off of the wall. Had anyone been standing underneath when it happened, it would surely have killed the person standing there. This was a big, heavy object.

I thought about calling the former owner and telling him that he shouldn't hang half ton objects from narrow pieces of wood on barn walls, but he's such a nice guy. I didn't have the heart. He would have felt so bad about it.

It took my husband and me together to drag it to the middle of the room. There it sat. We kept gallon jugs of water inside of it. That was maybe a year and a half ago.

The big heavy wheel has been kind of annoying, just sitting there in the middle of the barn. I trip over it now and then, but what can I do? It's too heavy to move by myself, and I never think of it when my husband is around.

These past few months have been full of heavy work for me. I have two hours each morning before I go to my part time teaching job, and I tend to do a lot of farm work, housework, and just general heavy work during that time. I don't mind it at all. It's like a meditation for me. And the nice thing is that when you do something like build a fence, you can look and see, there's a fence where there didn't used to be one. It's a nice feeling. I also feel the work when I go to bed at night, in my back and shoulders and chest, in my arms and just about everywhere. I've never really done any weight lifting, but if I did, I imagine I would feel about the same way afterwards.

About three days ago, I was building a turkey shelter in the barn, and that giant metal wheel was in my way. I scooted it over next to the wall. Then I remembered that I'm not strong enough to do that.