A Boobtacular 15th

Yes, it’s that time of year again.

It’s the anniversary of my breast reduction surgery! Hooray!

Break out the party hats and the balloons because it was 15 years ago today that I went under the knife and changed my life. My surgery scars are now eligible for their learner’s permit.

I’ve written about the struggle of having large breasts and the relief that surgery provided me. I’ve written about the scars that the surgery left behind and the struggle with the insecurities the scars have caused. I’ve even told my favorite boob story.

This year to celebrate, I’m going to tell you all a pre-surgery story.

My breast reduction was scheduled for eight in the morning, so I had to be there at six. My friend Gin had graciously volunteered to come out and take care of me, getting me to the hospital, hanging out with me there, taking me home, and minding me for a few days afterward. When we got to the hospital, we were met by my friend (and co-worker at the time) Josh.

I got checked in and settled into my room. Gin and Josh kept me company until it was time to go under the knife. When the nice nun came in to ask if I’d like to pray before surgery, I politely declined, thanking her anyway. There may have been a comment made after she left that the nice nun praying for me would have been pointless as I make angels cry.

Anyway.

I can’t remember where Gin had gone to, but when the nurse came in to insert my IV, only Josh was with me. Now, I’m not afraid of needles. Naturally, I’d prefer not to be punctured by them, but for me, they’re no big deal. Josh, on the other hand, didn’t like needles. At all. Period. But, Josh is a sport and he wanted to be supportive. So while this nurse tried to insert my IV, Josh held my other hand.

And he also held the hospital menu in front of his face so he wouldn’t actually have to see the nurse trying to establish my IV.

Which felt like it took forever because she said she couldn’t find a vein. And I’m looking at this poor nurse like, “Lady, I’m so white I’m practically see-through. What do you mean you can’t find a vein?” while Josh is looking at this menu like, “Oh, they have cottage cheese. How interesting.” And despite this woman digging around in my arm with a needle trying to strike oil, which stings quite a bit, I’m trying desperately not to laugh at the absolute absurdity of this situation and make it all worse. Because if I started laughing, that poor lady was never going to get that IV done.

Some people feel apprehensive about having surgery. No matter if it’s elective or necessary, life-threatening or minor, anesthesia will be administered, incisions will be made, blood will be lost, and the chance of death will linger. Others feel excited. Whatever had been burdening them is going to be fixed. They’re going to go to sleep sick and wake up better.

I, on the other hand, felt totally calm. Not really apprehensive. Not excited. Just zen and ready.

The comfort of knowing there’s cottage cheese on the hospital menu is clearly underrated.

Learning How to Have Bad Days

Of all of my annoying personality traits (and I have so many), being too hard on myself is easily in the top twenty. Maybe the top fifteen. I have no ability to cut myself any slack whatsoever. In my perception of myself, there is no reason for me not to do or be or achieve and my failure in that regard is glaring.

The fact that I didn’t own the world before I was 30 has weighed heavily on me.

For most people, a bad day is just that. It’s one day in which things are shit for whatever reason. It’s a blip on the radar screen of life, an expected anomaly that happens on occasion. It’s just a garbage day made to be thrown into the trash and forgotten about in time.

But for me, a bad day turns into a confirmation that I am, in fact, a garbage person.

The days that I’m feeling physically puny for whatever reason, that I struggle to get through my workouts or maybe I don’t even get through my workouts, just confirms that I am a lazy piece of shit. God, other people are doing much harder workouts. All I’m doing is some belly dance and yoga and a few push-ups. Being tired isn’t an excuse. Feeling fatigued isn’t an excuse. Being sick or feeling unwell isn’t an excuse.

The bad brain days that make thinking hard, concentrating difficult, that make writing a struggle, those days just confirm that I’m an unambitious, lazy piece of shit. God, it’s not like I’m doing anything hard, right? I should be able to get much more done, much more written, much more revised. Other people are doing a lot more than I am even on my best day. Being tired, having a headache, being overwhelmed by dark thoughts, anxious thoughts, depressed thoughts, is not an excuse.

Notice how I equate bad days with being lazy. There’s no bigger fault in my stars than being lazy. Had that one drilled into me. It’s fine for other people, but not for me.

I am learning, slowly and the hard way because that’s the only way I can learn anything (easily in my top five annoying personality traits), how to have a bad day. That it’s okay to have a bad day. Well, maybe not okay because nobody wants to have a bad day, but I’m slowly learning that having a bad day is not a moral failing. Bad days happen to everyone indiscriminately. The biggest asshole and the sweetest saint have bad days. The bad day isn’t the issue. How I respond to the bad day is.

Slowly, I’ve let up on myself when having a bad day. I’ve stopped beating myself up on those days, stopped stomping myself into the ground when I’m already feeling low. No more insults to my injuries. I’m training myself to rethink those days.

On the bad days, I try to focus on what I do get done. Yes, it wasn’t the greatest belly dance routine of my life, but I got through it. Yes, I sort of rushed my yoga routine and didn’t get as much focus from my postures as I normally do, but I did find a bit of peace while doing them. I didn’t get as much revising or writing done, but I got something done and when I come back to it tomorrow, that’s less that I have left to do.

My brain is a real stubborn bastard and it’s not easy rewiring its thinking ways. But I’m doing it.

It makes the bad days a little easier to deal with.

Warning: Fat Girl Walking

Sometimes, if it’s nice out and I have reason to go, I walk to the post office. It’s barely over half a mile there and back, but I do it to get a little exercise in the course of mailing whatever it is that I need to mail. Plus it feels less wasteful than driving the few blocks there and back (unless it’s gross and/or I’m running a bunch of errands that day, then I don’t have a problem driving).

I’m not the kind of person that likes to walk if there’s not a purpose to it. And for me, walking only for the exercise is not a purpose.

When I was in grade school, I had a teacher obsessed with exercise. As such she’d take us on walks multiple times a week, making us walk long distances as fast as a bunch of fifth graders could manage. My fitness-minded mother often walked in the evenings after all of the daycare children went home. For at least thirty minutes, she’d power walk around the neighborhood to exercise. A couple of times she made my sister and I come along. She complained that we were too slow. We complained that it was pointless.

Now that I’m grown and no longer at the mercy of fitness-minded/exercise-obsessed adults, I only walk if I have a place to go and a purpose to fulfill. That makes sense to me. If I want to exercise, then I do yoga or I belly dance. Walking to the post office to mail something is bonus exercise.

But walking anywhere means that I am a fat girl walking.

For some reason, this is a sight to behold. People seem to find it very interesting. Eye catching, really.

Okay, yes, some of it is my own paranoia and projections, but we all know the truth of which I speak.

People LOOOOOVE to tell fat people to “take a walk, fattie”. And then when the fat folk do, they’re met with looks, glares, smirks, and sometimes even nasty comments hurled from vehicles as they pass. Thankfully, that last one has never happened to me. Most likely because even at my nicest I strike people as someone who will cut you.

If you can picture these two occurrences as a Venn diagram, they’d damn near overlap to form a flawless circle.

Now one would think that people so fatphobic that they offer unsolicited advice about exercising to lose weight would be supportive of someone doing just that. But no! You see, the underlying message here is not only should you not be fat, but you should also not attempt to alter your state of fatness in public. These people are only interested in the before and after pictures on the commercials; they’ve got no interest in witnessing the journey.

Furthermore, if these delightful humans found out that some of us fatties aren’t even walking to lose weight, that this is just a little bonus exercise to get things done, or a preferred method of cardio with an eye on fitness, not the scale, well, I imagine they’d be so offended by the notion that they’d melt from the heat generated by them frothing at the mouth and screaming about why this approach is WRONG.

Or, perhaps what would be the ultimate worst, that some fat people don’t walk for exercise. Not to lose weight, not for any modicum of fitness. They walk because, well, humans don’t hover. Sometimes bipedal transportation is just the only way to go. Think of all the fat people judged because they’re using mobility scooters. Now think about how those same people are judged if they’re walking around.

That judgement doesn’t change much does it?

You know what else doesn’t change?

Fat people walking around in public. That’s going to continue to happen for all of the various reasons listed above. Humans gained the ability to walk upright at some point, have been using it as a mode of transportation for ages, and well, despite all insults to the contrary, fat people are human too. We’re going to continue walking about in places where everyone and your God can see us.

So, if you do happen to see me on one of my post office walks, smile and wave.

Otherwise, keep on driving.

More Than Just a Story Challenge

The entry deadline for the Simon & Schuster Prose Challenge has passed. They’re supposed to announce the 50 best stories on June 21st, so I guess that reading/liking/reposting/commenting will still be happening in an official capacity until then (if the contest is a popularity contest, as most suspect, in which the more likes you get, the “best”-er you are). So, please, continue reading and liking and sharing “Take the 55 North” until then. And beyond then. My ego is always in need of boosting.

As much as I would like to be in that top 50 for the chance to get a Simon & Schuster editor to read my work (and I would really, really like that, make no mistake), I am happy that a more personal challenge has already been met.

I woke up the morning after the deadline to “Take the 55 North” having garnered 21 likes, 9 reposts, and over 370 reads. Six people left very lovely comments. This is may not seem like much, but for me, this kind of support is huge. I labor under the delusion that no one is interested in my writing, that I don’t write anything that anyone else wants to read. So to see numbers like that, it really encourages me.

It also encourages me to see how supportive people have been. In addition to people taking the time to read my story and sign up so they could leave a comment or a like or repost it, people were also retweeting my tweets about this challenge and sharing my posts over on Facebook about it.

I am not a very good self-promoter. I feel like no one gives a shit about my writing career and I’m just annoying them when I do any sort of promoting about it. With this challenge, I made a conscious choice to promote it -and, therefore, myself- more. Clearly, I didn’t do it to excess, but I did it much more often than I normally would have. I’m sure I annoyed some people. But many others also showed up to support me and that means the world to me. It showed me that I shouldn’t doubt that there are folks cheering for me.

So, thank you very much to everyone who supported me. If you signed up to give me a like, thank you. If you gave it a read, thank you. If you reposted it, thank you. If you left a comment, thank you. If you retweeted it, thank you. If you shared a post, thank you.

And if you’ve always done those things and will continue doing those things, THANK YOU!

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I appreciate it so much.

Because of you, this particular challenge has been achieved.

I Accept This Challenge

Earlier this month I entered a short story in a Simon & Schuster challenge hosted by Prose. The challenge is simple enough: Write a story, chapter, essay, whatever that’s 500-2,000 words. Prose will pick the 50 best entries, which will be read for consideration by Simon & Schuster editors. Neat, right? Certainly worth trying (let this be a nudge to other writers).

I was unfamiliar with Prose, so naturally I did a bit of research and poked around their platform. It’s like social media for stories and poetry. Kind of nifty. I’m thinking that I’ll stick around after the challenge. It looks like a good place to throw some freebies up, get some reads, network a little bit (laws knows I am terrible at that).

Speaking of social media, if you’re not following me on Twitter or if you haven’t liked my Facebook page, then you might not know that you can read the challenge stories. That’s right. YOU. For FREE.

I would recommend you start with mine, of course. You know. It’s easier to get started with something new when you’re familiar with someone already involved.

“Take the 55 North” was originally written last summer. I did a trilogy of these stories without really knowing what I was going to do with them. Earlier this year, I decided that they’d integrate quite well into an idea I have for this year’s NaNo project. A very toned and tightened version story was entered into the challenge in order to make the word count. It’ll be expanded during NaNo.

The competition is stiff. I’ve read a lot of good work so far. I encourage you all to read it as well.

But start with mine first.

“I’d Never Sleep with a Fat Girl”

There’s a flip side to the “I like big girls” coin and it’s called “I’d never sleep with a fat girl” or some variation of that sentiment.

Oh, yes. It is indeed the same coin. Because declaring that you’d never sleep with a fat girl isn’t that different from proclaiming that you like big girls. It all boils down to the same thing.

Centering the conversation around what gets a guy’s dick hard.

Now, in my personal experience, I’ve had more dudes tell me that they like big girls than that they wouldn’t sleep with a fat girl. However, in the case of the latter, it seems to always be a desperation move on the guy’s part. You can almost smell the panic, almost hear the alarm bells ringing in their head.

Oh my God! I think this fat girl might like me! My friends would never stop giving me shit for that! Quick! Say something to reject her without actually rejecting HER.

I am oblivious when it comes to flirtation. I don’t know when people are flirting with me and I don’t realize that others can interpret my behavior as flirtation when I’m just trying to be my usual funny-to-cover-up-my-awkward self. This sort of interpretation leads to the above panic.

And to my own confusion.

I once had a guy say straight out to me, “I would never sleep with a fat girl” and it was so out of the blue that I was momentarily baffled. It wasn’t until later that the I figured out that the guy was having “fat girl panic”.

On another occasion I had a guy casually remark that he could never date a girl with cottage cheese thighs. I can’t remember how this came up in conversation, but it was so oddly offhand. My first thought was along the lines of “Good luck with that”. Again, thinking about it later I identified the comment for what it was.

Listen, fellas, just like it can be cool if you like big girls, it’s also cool on the flip side of the coin if you don’t. If you’re HONEST about why you don’t. And why you feel compelled to declare it.

Would you never sleep with a fat girl because it’s honestly not your aesthetic? You like them just fine as people, as friends, but for whatever reason, a woman with a generous helping of curves doesn’t get your dick hard? That’s cool. No need to shout it from the rooftops unprovoked like a weirdo. It makes everyone uncomfortable and you look like a jackass. Let it come up in conversation naturally, if you must. Or, if necessary, let it happen in private with the fat girl you’re certain is digging on you and the feeling is not mutual.

But if you wouldn’t sleep with a fat girl because what would the guys think? Wouldn’t consider it because the guys would rag on you endlessly? Even if you really liked the fat girl in question? Even if she got your dick hard? Because the guys would just give you way too much shit? Then here’s what you need to do, skippy.

Get new guys.

Because those bros are reading from society’s worn out script. We’re talking cheesy ’80s sitcom worn out, my dude. And not the good kind of cheese either. It’s a rerun even I wouldn’t watch and I watch them all.

Announcing that you would never sleep with a fat girl is doing more than just stating the obvious, sports fans.

It’s also blaring just how cowed by society and insecure about it you really are.

So, no worries there, guys who would never sleep with a fat girl. Fat girls wouldn’t want to sleep with you anyway.

Because that frail ego flailing? Not a good look.

“I Like Big Girls”

It never fails. Whenever I point out the bullshit way society treats fat women, drilling into everyone’s heads that they’re somehow unworthy of any sort of love, sex, or happiness, some dude needs to jump into my mentions with the same tired statement.

“I like big girls.”

Really? Well, good for you. If you’re looking for bonus points for bucking society’s rules of attraction, I’m afraid I’m all out of gold stars. Sorry, fella.

Tell me, my dude, since you’re so keen to make this all about you, why do you like big girls?

Do you like them because you’re genuinely attracted to them? Is that the aesthetic that truly pleases you? The image that gets you hard? Or is it convenience that they represent? The worn out thought that a fat girl will settle for the less of the less, any crumb of attention thrown her way, therefore she’s an easy score and good for your ego? Or is it something in between? Sexual gratification solely because she’s fat with little regard to what kind of a human she is? Or that she’s human at all?

I know that guys like big girls, despite what society instructs. Even if I’d never been hit on by a man in my life, the fact that people find my blog searching “mature chubby fucks” would clue me in. And I know, deep in my cold, black heart that for some guys, fat girls are just peachy. They’re into them for the whole package, not just the aesthetic, not just for perceived convenience.

It’s the declaration that grates me right down to my last nerve.

Guys, take a little advice from a fat girl. Instead of loudly proclaiming “I like big girls” at every opportunity, why don’t you put some fucking thought into your words? For clarity’s sake. Saying you like big girls is lazy and muddled. Just be clear. If you get off on fat girls because that’s your fetish, own it and say so. If you like fat girls because you think they’re desperately easy, then say that (I can’t guarantee that this will help YOU out any, but it will do many favors for the rest of humanity). If you dig fat girls because that’s your “type”, then say it plainly. And if you think that society’s rules about who deserves love, who is allowed to be attractive, who is qualified to be sexy is fucking bullshit, then put that thought in the appropriate words and shout it from the fucking rooftops.

The point is that this conversation need not be centered around you, champ. It’s not the time for free advertisement for your dating profile, nor is it a good opportunity to look for a pat on the back.

You can be supportive without involving your own ego.

Try it. You might like it.

At the very least, you won’t be irritating the fuck out of this fat girl.

Let It Be

I have a yearly motto.

Well, I do now.

It started unofficially last year. I wrote a question on my quote board so I could see it and ask myself throughout the year: “What would someone who loved herself do?” And this became my sort-of-motto for the year. The idea was to ask myself this question in certain situations as a way to break me of constantly shoving myself down on my own priority list. It allowed me to be selfish in a healthy way.

This year I intentionally set a motto: Let It Be.

Yes, I know it’s also a Beatles song/album.

The point of this year’s motto is for me to learn not to obsess over and try to control things that don’t need to be obsessed over/controlled.

I have a tendency to fixate on the speed of things. I need everything to happen sooner than it does. And I obsess over the fact that things aren’t progressing at the speed that I wish them to progress. And I try to control that speed.

What I have discovered in doing this repeatedly over the years (because you know I do everything the hard way) is that it only succeeds in driving me crazy and sometimes forcing things to happen before they should happen, usually to unfortunate ends.

Because I am a hard-headed donkey of a person, it makes sense that I would come up with a motto for 2017 to remind me to…well…let it be.

Put in the work, put in the effort, do what needs to be done. Then let it be.

Let things happen when they’re supposed to happen.  Let it be.

If you have to force it (most of the time), then it’s not ready/time/whatever. Let. It. Be.

I am hoping that a year of this motto will drill it into my fool head that my time can be better spent doing something that’s actually productive rather than screwing myself into the ground trying to control something that’s not meant to be controlled. Maybe I might learn that it’s okay to not control everything. Maybe I might learn that it’s not really me giving up control, but in reality recognizing what I truly do control.

Not something exactly revolutionary to those not prone to being uptight (and man, can I be uptight about some things), but I think my blood pressure will thank me in the end.

Yeah, man. Let it be.

Writing Without a Day Job: The Adventure Begins

coinsChild learnin’ has come to an end for me.

This was not entirely unexpected (no need to go into details), though the timing was sooner than I anticipated.

What matters is that I am without a day job of some kind for the first time in six years.  I view this as both a blessing and a challenge. The challenge, obviously, is to pay my bills while also finding a new day job to help supplement my income, especially since I still haven’t replaced the floorset side hustle yet.

The blessing, though, comes in the form of opportunity. When I lost my floorset job, I chose to see it as a push from the Universe to really focus and promote my writing career. I’ve taken tentative steps in doing that. It’s still not something I’m entirely comfortable with. Without any day job, I have the opportunity to really push myself, to make writing my sole focus day job, at least for a little while.

I already had some projects in the works that were in this spirit. They’re going to have priority in the next couple of weeks, that’s for sure. Selling my books, getting patrons for Murderville, making the Storytime Jukebox better, all of that is going to be key. It’s the side of the business that I admit to not working hard enough on because I don’t want to be annoying. I don’t want to be a walking commercial, a constant promotion that ends up being tuned out. But considering how very little I do of it right now, I think a moderate increase wouldn’t be too over the top.

Also, I can no longer use the excuse of not having the time/energy to promote myself. Got plenty of it in the immediate future! No reason not to use some of that free time/free energy to cultivate and utilize some new promotional skills.

The point is that as optimistic as I am, it is highly unlikely that I will be able to survive without a steady day job of some kind. Most writers can’t. However, while I am looking for that new day job, I can take the time to elevate my writing career to a new level. That’s something long overdue.

So, here’s to the next adventure.

Endings are new beginnings and all that.

Am I Numb or Zen?

peaceIf there’s anything funny about my dealings with depression (and there’s little really ha-ha funny about it), then it’s how paranoid it makes me when I’m feeling okay.

I wrote about how my holiday blues in 2015 started too early and ended up deepening into a nice depression that hung around until April like an in-law in a not-funny sitcom. Because of that experience, I was paranoid about that happening again this past holiday season.

We’re talking extremely vigilant.

How am I feeling? Am I sad? Do I hate everything? Am I operating on the frequency of do-not-want more often than not? Do I want to run away? Do I want to give up? Do I want throat punch people for a legitimate reason or just because?

This sort of interrogation happened on a nearly daily basis starting at the end of October. I thought that not dressing up and passing out candy to trick-or-treaters might be a sign that the holiday blues were settling in early once again. But upon reflection, I realized that I was just burned out and not feeling the spirit and therefore, I didn’t feel like forcing myself to do something my heart wasn’t in.

Okay. That’s cool. Very reasonable.

As the holiday season progressed, I kept waiting for the blues to hit, to come rumbling through, maybe dragging a semi-trailer of depression behind it.

Only I kept asking the questions and I kept responding that I was okay. No, really. I’m okay.

This okayness, in turn, jacked up the paranoia regarding my mental state.

Was I really okay? Or was everything in the world at the moment such shit that it fit my mood and it only felt okay? The latter might have been true to an extent. I didn’t even get a real dose of the holiday blues this past season.

So, here I am, a couple of months into the new year and I’m still feeling okay. Things that should be throwing me into a rage, the little things that I’ve become so used to pissing me off, aren’t having that effect on me. I feel okay. I am maintaining my okayness.

Maybe it’s the shift in thinking that occurred at some point late last year. Maybe it’s my 2017 motto, “Let it be”. Maybe it’s the nightly meditation I’ve been doing since late December, which includes chanting certain mantras designed to calm me and keep me optimistic.

Maybe I’m fucking zen.

Or maybe, as my paranoia has repeatedly suggested, I’m numb.

Maybe I’m existing in some sort of dulled stated that has rendered me non-reactionary to certain stimuli in my daily life. Maybe my depression, which I’m so used to operating in a certain way, has now taken on a new dimension, a dimension of numbness that resembles okayness and therefore tricks me into thinking I’m okay when I’m really depressed.

Boy, that mental health paranoia is a real dick sometimes.

But those mantras I’ve been chanting at night before I go to bed have influenced me to think positively about this. Instead of caving to the ravings of my paranoia (which has a long track record of being wrong), I’ve chosen to view this period of mental calm as something to be embraced. It’s almost like I’ve achieved a kind of clarity here. I’m not numb; I’m just not at the mercy of my emotions and my hellscape brain. For now.

I am okay.

I am zen.