Show Your (Breast Reduction) Scars

cleavageApparently, Ariel Winter decided to wear a dress to the SAG awards that showed a little side-boob and as a consequence, also showed a little breast reduction scar. This, in turn, led to her defending her decision to show some scar along with some side-boob because, goddamn, we can’t be having with this showing of any imperfection, especially from the womens in Hollywood. We live in a society for crying out loud.

Read the comments of that People article (if you dare). In between comments of support and discussions of how bra sizes work, you’ve got people bitching that nobody wants to see that and men bemoaning the loss of Miss Winter’s breast tissue.

Now we all know that I’ve not been shy about my own breast reduction or talking about my boobs in general. I spent several years feeling like they were a completely different entity that happened to be attached to my chest, the objects of jokes and unneeded attention (so many guys wanted to just touch them because they’d never seen boobs so big outside of porn). My boobs are easy to talk about in a dispassionate sort of way. After being big for so long, they’re no longer a big deal.

But, the scars, man.

My hang-ups about my scars remain. They’re still a source of huge insecurity for me. Maybe if I hadn’t had the complications, maybe if I wasn’t predisposed to scar so badly to begin with, this might not be an issue for me. But, it is. I am endlessly amused by any guy that comments on my chest or stares at my tits because in my head I’m picturing the horror on his face if he saw what these jubblies really looked like.

Because I know he’s not expecting it.

It’s been over 13 years. The incision scars have faded, but you can still see them. The evidence of the complications I suffered with my left nipple/areola will never go away, never look normal. And let’s not even talk about the stretchmarks I acquired getting to the point of needing surgery.

That shit isn’t going away, kids. That’s me. Just another imperfection to add to the ridiculously long list of imperfections I have.

Miss Winter said that she wasn’t ashamed of her scars, they’re part of her. I have to admit that this child that I could have birthed has a very good point. Why should I be ashamed of the scars I incurred from a major surgery that took pounds of tissue from chest so I could make an attempt to live a more normal, pain-free life? Why should I care what some guy that I’d never show my tits to in the first place thinks about my scars? Why should I care what anyone thinks of my scars?

Pardon me, kids.

My self-perspective has just done changed once again.

February Writing Projects

roseLast month I finished the first drafts of “Short Hallway” and “What You Don’t See”, which were both a real slog for some reason. I also wrote, revised, polished, and submitted a short story called “Don’t Feed the Animals” to a contest. It was one of those rare stories that came out pretty much done in the first draft. It just needed some minor tweaks. Pretty handy since I needed to have it ready to go in only a few weeks.

I think I was going to try to write and enter two stories because at the time I had two ideas, but when it came time to focus, I only had “Don’t Feed the Animals” in my head. I can’t for the life of me remember what the other idea was. Oh well. It was either a moment of brilliance lost forever or it was an idea better forgotten. I’ll never know.

This month I’m going to go back to revising Voice. I’ve done the structural changes and I’ve made all of the notes. In theory, this shouldn’t be much of a challenge to fix, but I haven’t been able to bank on anything lately. It’s been a tough go mentally as of late for me (but that’s another post).

If I somehow get done with Voice, then I’ll move on to revising something else that’s going into the ghost anthology because there’s a lot of revising needed to be done for that.

I’m going to be doing so much revising this year.

So much.

In Case of Nuclear War…Smoke

nuclear cigarette“Oh, this, yeah. It’s in case nuclear war breaks out. I gave it up a long time ago. It’s part habit, part superstition. It’s, you know, a writer thing.” –Mike Enslin (John Cusack) explaining the cigarette behind his ear to Mr. Olin (Samuel L. Jackson) in 1408.

I have a pack of emergency cigarettes.

I officially quit smoking like six and a half years ago (June 20, 2009; it’s one of the few dates I remember and not because of the significance, but because I have an easy way to remember it) and since then I’ve smoke a few cigarettes, usually in social situations with a certain group of people. I bum one for old time’s sake, smoke it, feel disappointed that it doesn’t have the same calming buzz effect that it used to, and I’m good. This doesn’t mean that I don’t still feel that craving. It doesn’t mean that I don’t still dream about smoking. It doesn’t mean that I’ve gotten over the habit of wanting a cigarette as soon as I get in the car or after I eat. It doesn’t mean that I don’t really, really want a cigarette when I’m anxious, stressed, or feeling blue. It just means that I didn’t really need that cigarette right then.

But sometimes I do.

I have not been shy in saying that smoking was a form of self-medication for me, primarily to help me deal with stress and anxiety. I never crave a cigarette more than when I’m stressed. I just want that poison in my lungs, I want to feel that exhale of smoke because a certain measure of stress goes out with that polluted air. When I get stressed, the first thing I think about is lighting a cigarette. But I don’t.

Until I do.

I have yet to find a completely successful alternative way for me to deal with stress, anxiety, or depression. This is in no way knocking the methods I have found. Meditating and chanting and yoga and dancing and drawing have all been great and a vast majority of the time, they get the job done.

Until they don’t.

This past holiday gauntlet was just miserable for me for no discernible reason. The only thing I can think of is that my usual holiday blues got an extra boost from the lack of sunlight. Whatever the issue, by the time New Year’s Eve hit, I was at the end of my rope and that thing was tied in a noose. Nothing worked to back me off that ledge. Nothing.  All I wanted was a cigarette.

I had one hidden away in my dresser. I’d used it as a prop for a Halloween costume one year and never threw it out. I knew it was in there. I knew it could save me.

Saturday after New Year’s Day, I was going out with some friends. I decided that when I left the house, that cigarette would be coming with me and I’d smoke it in the car on the way to dinner. Sure, I’d probably bum one or two off of one of the girls later on in the evening, but that would be social. This was business. Serious business.

I smuggled that cancer stick and lighter (even after I quit smoking, I’ve always had a lighter around) out of the house in my coat pocket and lit it up as soon as I pulled out of the driveway. I inhaled that death smoke and I exhaled everything that had been clinging to my nerves for the past two months. That old, healing magic was back. I enjoyed that cigarette more than any I’ve smoked since I quit smoking six and a half years ago because it did what they all did before I quit. It made me feel better.

Last week, I bought a pack of cigarettes and hid them in my dresser. Why hide them? Two reasons. One, people will line up around the block to tell you how bad smoking is for you and how disappointed they are that you fell off the wagon even if you really haven’t. Fuck that noise. I don’t expect you to like what I do or even understand it, but it would be most appreciated if you could just shut the fuck up about it. You don’t have to say a word. Believe me. I KNOW.

Two, I know where they are and that’s all that matters. Like a fire exit or alarm or extinguisher, I know where it is and I know how to get to it and I know how to work it when I absolutely need it.  It’s that emergency plan they always told you that you should have when you were in grade school.

The next time I feel myself going nuclear, I’ll break that glass.

Turning 36

heartthrobHere I am, turning 36 only a couple of days after David Bowie died, and my brain is having a lot of thoughts.

The first thought is that I had no idea that I would be this affected by the man’s death, in part I suppose, like many, I never thought about him being anything other than immortal. But also, as much as I enjoyed the man and his work, I don’t think I’d ever call myself a David Bowie fan. I think the only thing I own is his greatest hits album, though I’ve definitely listened to much more than that. I just didn’t spend the money or have the devotion required to call myself a fan, I think. And yet, news of his death has left me prone to tears.

In seeing all of the very lovely thoughts and remembrances scrolling along my social media feeds, all of which were quite touching and it was amazing to see how this one person affected so many people, a certain sort of theme kind of captured my mind.

Existence and reinvention.

Existing as you are, whatever you are, that day and existing as that human until it’s time to be something else, then reinventing yourself into your new existence. That’s basically what David Bowie did during the course of his career. And people dug it because they could relate to it. They could relate to every phase of his being no matter what the outward projection was. They could relate to that honesty and that otherness that they maybe couldn’t quite accept or express in themselves.

This isn’t meant to be some kind of poetic eulogy of questionable quality. It’s supposed to be about me turning 36. Which I have done. Successfully. And it is at this successful turn so soon after this significant human’s demise that I am thinking about my existence and my need for reinvention. I’m thinking about my need for honest expression in general, for the honest expression of my otherness. I am thinking about my ability to be in my truest form.

Heavy shit, I know.

The age number is arbitrary, though I know people will enjoy elbowing me in the ribs while pointing out how close I’m getting to 40. But I’ve been having my mid-life crisis since I was 28, so that number holds no superstitious sway over me. If anything, being 36 has promise since it’s divisible by 3 and that’s the sort of thing I like.

I’m sure I won’t spend the whole time I’m 36 brooding about my life and all of the questions in it. I’ve got shit to do, after all, and I’m crap at multitasking.

But I bet I pause more often this trip around the sun to check my existence.

If You Can’t Love Me Fat…

polka dotsIf you can’t love me fat, you’ll never love me thin. Because if I lost all of the weight that society says I should, the only thing that would change would be the size of my pants and the number on the scale. I won’t be any prettier. My eyes will still be the same weird, trash can gray color and my nose will still be too witch-like and so will my laugh. My hair will still be too thin and fine to grow out into a luxurious mane and my skin will still be too pale and I still won’t look good as a blonde. I’ll still have my scars and my stretchmarks and spots of bad skin and I’ll bet dollars to donuts that my boobs will still be uneven. I’ll still be funny and given to fits of the blues and I’ll say shit that I shouldn’t because I still won’t be that great with tact. I’ll still have a temper that comes out of nowhere and I’ll still hide all of my secrets as deep down as I can because the idea of being vulnerable is a level of trust that I haven’t been able to achieve with anyone yet. I’ll still be selfish and I’ll still be greedy and I’ll still be sacrificing and I’ll still be giving. I’ll still be the shoulder to cry on and the clown to cheer you up. I’ll still struggle and I’ll still fail and I’ll still take more than my share of the responsibility and my share of the blame. None of that changes. I’ll still be the same person. The contents of this bag will not have changed, wouldn’t even have shifted. If you can’t love me fat, then you’ll never love me thin.

If you can’t love me fat, then you’ll never love me old. I’ll age. Time and gravity will take a toll on my body. It’s already started. I’ve got a few lines I didn’t have before. I started getting gray hair at 28. I sag in places now and that’s only going to keep happening. Gravity is everywhere. I’m not going to constantly nip tuck things back into place, smooth my face and take a beauty belt-sander to my skin to eliminate those signs of life. I’m going to get a point when I go full silver and I quit coloring my hair because it’s too much of a hassle and an expense and I know I’m not fooling anyone. There will come a time, an inevitable point in my existence should I live long enough, that I will no longer be young. Hell, if you ask around, some folks will already tell you I’m there. Past my prime. I’m already too old to be desirable, to be loved, to be anything. If you can’t love me fat, then you’ll never love me old.

If you can’t love me fat, then you’ll never love me sick. Everyone will tell you that being fat is “unhealthy”, but thin people get sick. Thin people get colds, they get the flu, they get strep and mono and pneumonia. They get cancer. They get arthritis and back strains and vitamin deficiencies from eating like shit. They suffer from depression and anxiety and PTSD and OCD and ADD. They get debilitating diseases that rob them of their strength and capabilities and they’ll need someone to take care of them until they eventually wither away and death finally takes them to a better place. They were actually sick, not just perceived to be that way because of a billion dollar diet industry and a bunch of medical professionals that lost their souls ages ago. If you can’t love me fat, then you’ll never love me sick.

If you can’t love me fat, then you’ll never love me openly. You know that old saying. “Fucking a fat girl is like riding a moped. It’s a lot of fun, but you don’t want your friends to see you do it.” It’s not done, loving a fat girl out in the open, is it? Your friends will make fun of you. Society will tell you in a bombardment of messages from TV shows to movies to magazines to books that you’re wrong, that loving a fat girl is wrong, that you deserve to be the butt of the jokes because of it. It’s characterized as a fetish, something to be kept hidden, don’t let anyone know what kind of a deviant you are. Because it takes a lot of strength to spit in the face of society like that, to have to constantly put up with the jokes and remarks and insults, to decide every time someone opens their mouth how you’re going to deal with their bullshit, to love someone fat anyway, and to do it right out there in the blinding light of day where everyone can see when it would be so much easier to keep it all hidden away in the dark and let your ego remain intact. If you can’t love me fat, then you’ll never love openly.

Let’s face it, baby.

If you can’t love me fat, then you’ll never, ever love me.

January Projects

SnowflowerNew year, new stuff. And old stuff. The stuff never ends, really.

I’m finishing up a couple of short stories, “What You Don’t See” and “The Short Hallway”, for the ghost story anthology I’m working on. They’re the last two I needed first drafts of. From here on out, it’ll all be revising and polishing for that book. As of right now, it’s the only one I’m planning on putting out in 2016.

I didn’t get as much revised on Voice as I would have liked, but I did get the important structural stuff that needed to be changed done. Now it’s just a matter of doing the rest of the heavy lifting and I’ll probably get to that next month.

A short story contest came across one of my social media feeds and I’m going to do something for it. It’s literary, not strictly genre, but it’s no fees and you can enter up to two stories and I’ve got a couple of ideas that might work.

Can I write, revise, and polish two short stories in a month?

Sure.

Why not?

2016 Half-Assed Resolutions

resolutionsI did a great job getting my 2015 half-assed resolutions accomplished. I made Peace. I incorporated a dance party into my evening de-stress routine, so I’ve been having a lot more of them. And I got rid of stuff. Not as much stuff as I wanted to, but I still got rid of many things.

Oh, I also had a good time and didn’t get dead, as usual.

So, now it’s time for me to make my half-assed resolutions for 2016.

 

  1. Don’t get dead.
  2. Have a good time.
  3. Watch more Netflix. I put stuff on my list that I mean to watch and then I never get around to watching it and I really need to be better about that. I have to stop being so behind on my documentaries and I have to be more willing to watch something new and risk not liking it. I can turn it off. That’s allowed.
  4. Clean out my sewing drawer. It’s…it’s…it’s in dire need of cleaning out. That’s all I can say.
  5. Master mermaid pose. This is a yoga pose that I’ve been slowly, very slowly, working on and I think that this is the year I’ll be able to arrange my fat in such away that I don’t tear anything while I do it.

Go team 2016!

peace

Getting the Grinchmas Spirit

Grinchmas 2015

I’ve had a really hard time getting into the Grinchmas spirit this year. I haven’t been particularly inspired when it came to making Grinchmas gifts and I haven’t been very willing to listen to Christmas music. I was even late getting my Grinchmas tree up.

But!

The Grinchmas tree is up. The gifts are made and wrapped and ready to be given. I’ve watched The Grinch Who Stole Christmas and The Nightmare Before Christmas. I’ve heard a few of my favorite Christmas Carols.

I’m ready for my heart to grow three sizes.

Rob Whoville!

What I Learned Teaching Myself To Play the Guitar

guitarLast December I mentioned that I’d decided to teach myself to play the guitar. Aside from slicing up my fingers too bad that I couldn’t play for a week in January, a couple of days when I was in Chicago for Cubs Con and my guitar was not, I played every day in the beginning and as the year has gone on I haven’t been quite as dedicated, but I do play most days of the week.

After a year of this, here’s what I can tell you.

I’m terrible.

Okay, that’s an exaggeration. I’m better than terrible. I’m even better than bad, but not quite as good as okay. My hands are too small to play a lot of chords successfully, but I can play some well enough; I can’t strum with a pick, but I don’t do too badly with my fingers; I can’t play the songs I know that well, but I can play them well enough that you might recognize them if I tell you what they are. I think I’m at my best when I playing three of the four scales that I know.

(For the record, the songs I can somewhat play include a bunch of Monkees songs, a few Christmas carols, “Do You Love an Apple”, “Cryin’ in the Rain”, and “Good Morning”.)

It is clear that I do not possess that musical gene required to be able to pick up an instrument and understand it within a few months and probably not even a few years. I can play the chords, but I can’t speak the language. In a way, it’s a drag because I love music and have always dreamed of having some latent ability to create it.

But in a way, it’s also kind of a freeing thing for me to have this sort of hobby that allows me to be bad at something, to only do it because I enjoy it. I’m not trying to make money off of it. I’m not trying to be taken seriously. It differs from a lot of my other creative work because I’m doing it for pure enjoyment. I enjoy writing, of course, but it’s business, too. It’s work. I have to hold it up to a certain standard. I enjoy making jewelry and sewing and drawing, but those things also have a certain standard because in the end I want to create something useful. Even drawing, which is my worst thing, when I’m finished with a picture, I want it to be good enough that you’d at least hang it in a kid’s room.

The guitar, though, is pure fun. And it’s fun being allowed to be bad at something for a change and just play with it.

If I can’t learn the language, I’ll make up my own.

Rerun Junkie Guest Stars–Jeanette Nolan

Jeanette NolanMe-TV has been showing holiday episodes of various shows, not all of which they carry on their usual line-up which is great, and I’ve been watching some of them.  Last week I caught a Christmas episode of MacGyver and it reminded me that I needed to write a guest star post about the wonderful Jeanette Nolan, who is pretty great in that ep.

Jeanette Nolan has 200 credits listed on the IMDB and most of them are TV shows. There is plenty of chances to catch this wonderful character actress in reruns, especially if you like Westerns because I think she was in every Western TV show that ever aired. That’s a slight exaggeration because she was never on Big Valley or High Chaparral, but she did do a whole lot, including: The Restless Gun, Lawman, The Rough Riders, Black Saddle, The Rebel, Wanted: Dead or Alive, Bat Masterson, Outlaws, Have Gun-Will Travel, Laramie, Wagon Train (with her husband John McIntire), A Man Called Shenandoah, Bonanza, Laredo, The Virginian (she did 27 episodes as a recurring character), Alias Smith and Jones, and Gunsmoke (which I will talk about more in a minute).

The woman had a niche for a good long while. Part of that was probably due to the fact that both she and her husband sort of specialized in playing characters that were much older than they actually were. You need an older, spitfire of a woman on the prairie, then you get Jeanette Nolan. Because there seems to be a touch of spitfire to every character I’ve seen her play and I’m not complaining about that.

Jeanette Nolan as Dirty SallyJeanette Nolan plays one of my favorite characters in all of the reruns I watch or have watched. Dirty Sally is a recurring character on Gunsmoke (she was in 8 episodes, three of them playing Dirty Sally, but the rest of them playing different characters, including Festus’s aunt, I believe) and she ended up getting her own series called Dirty Sally that only ran for 14 episodes and I’m sorry I’ve yet to see it. Dirty Sally is a fabulous character. A dirty, old, toothless woman that uses chewing tobacco and tells everyone what she thinks and saves Dack Rambo and pals around with drunk Jack Albertson in various episodes. It’s an incredibly fun character and Jeanette Nolan owns it with every fiber of her being. She made herself look toothless and about twenty years older than she actually was. Fantastic.

But a good character actress, and Jeanette Nolan is a good character actress, cannot be contained. So along with all of the Westerns, she also did a lot of police/detective shows including: Dragnet (1958), Peter Gunn, Perry Mason, Hawaiian Eye, Hawaii Five-0 (a nifty episode that I like a lot), Ironside, the Longstreet pilot (how I miss TV movie night on Me-TV), Mannix, The Streets of San Francisco, Police Woman, Columbo, Charlie’s Angels, Hart to Hart, TJ Hooker, Matt Houston, Cagney and Lacey, and Hunter.

If you like medical shows, she did Ben Casey, Marcus Welby MD, Dr. Kildare, Medical Center, Trapper John MD, and Emergency! (her character in that episode is a woman spending her 80th birthday in the hospital; she would have been 61 when the episode aired).

Jeanette Nolan on Golden GirlsIf you prefer family friendly fare, she was on Lassie, My Three Sons, The Mothers-in-Law, and The Waltons. If your family is weird, you can find her on Thriller, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Twilight Zone, and Night Gallery. If your family is funny, she appeared on F-Troop, Night Court, and Golden Girls (playing Rose’s mother even though she was only 11 years older than Betty White).

And if none of that excites you, then perhaps knowing that she did both Love Boat and Fantasy Island will.

Because we all know that’s gold.

And so is Jeanette Nolan.