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.

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.

Are You a Good Fatty?

Fat girl bikiniThis is a mindset that I have struggled with and one I’m working very hard to correct. Why? Because the Good Fatty is bullshit, that’s why.

Here’s how it works.

People make generalizations about fat people. They’re lazy. They eat like garbage. They’re unhealthy. You know, the same song and dance folks have been performing since before Jane Fonda made jazzercise a thing.

Immediately, my reaction is, “Not all fatties! I’m not lazy. I exercise. I do yoga. I belly dance. I count my steps. I lift weights. And I eat healthy! I rarely eat fast food. I eat vegetarian meals several times a week. I don’t eat a lot of processed food. And my health has been more affected by not having regular access to affordable healthcare than by my weight.”

Now, all of those things are true and generalizations are garbage. But, the fact that I feel the urge to defend my honor and separate myself from those other, “bad” fatties is bullshit. I shouldn’t feel that way. I shouldn’t actually have to do that at all.

Why?

Because there are thin people whose only exercise is walking out to their car so they can drive to a fast food joint. There are thin people whose diets consist of not much more than Starbucks and cigarettes and cupcakes. No “good” thin person has ever felt the need to distance themselves from those “bad” thin people by saying, “I’m not like them! I run twenty miles a week and take a spin class and do hot yoga. I eat gluten-free vegan. I’ve never drank or smoked and I haven’t set foot inside a Starbucks in my life!”

No, no thin person, good or bad, feels the need to defend their life choices because they are, by default, “healthy” just because they’re thin. Regardless of their choices, they’re treated with basic human respect. They don’t have to worry about anyone judging their choice of fries over salad. They don’t feel the need to remind everyone that they walked their five miles yesterday and today is just an off day. They don’t feel the need to say, “But I’m not like them.” They know it doesn’t matter. They will still get that basic human respect.

That simple respect isn’t extended to all fatties, just the “good” ones and only if they prove that they really are “good”.

So, riddle me this, Batman, why is that?

Why is some lazy, Whopper-eating thin person treated with more respect than a fat person who does the same thing? Why is perceived health the basis for simple respect? Why does a fat person not deserve respect because they’re not “healthy”?

Who the fuck came up with that rule?

Here’s the real skinny, Minnie, until proven otherwise, we all are entitled to basic human respect. All of us. Even the “bad” fatties.

I’m not going to draw that line between me and the “bad” fatties anymore. I’m going to work really hard not to do it. If I don’t draw that line between me and the smokers and the drinkers and the “bad” thin people, then there’s no need for that line to exist between me and other fatties. Their health choices are theirs, such as mine are mine. End of.

The respect thing, though, that’s non-negotiable.

Regardless of my weight, regardless of what I eat, regardless of how much I move, I refuse to accept anything less than simple respect.

I insist upon that.

Of Dreams and Revelations

ThinkingI’m one of those weirdos that thinks sometimes your dreams are messages from your subconscious.

Not all dreams, obviously. At least I certainly hope not since I have what I like to call the nightmare trait and tend to have a lot of bad dreams. I’m used to them now; rarely does a dream upset me enough to keep me awake. And many of them end up being great fodder for stories. There’s no waking trigger for them (like watching a horror movie, for example). That’s just how my brain works.

My poor youngest niece has the same thing. She is somewhat comforted by the fact that Aunt Kiki deals with the bad dreams, too, and that she’ll get used to them. In the meantime, I’ve told her of a few ways she can cope with them. So far, it’s seemed to help her, but we’ve both agreed that we don’t our dreams coming true. No one would want that. Trust us.

Anyway.

I think most dreams are probably just the brain’s way of entertaining itself while everything recharges. It takes whatever it finds lying around and uses it to put on a production, like some kids in a backyard on a summer afternoon or Roger Corman.

But sometimes, I really do think that the subconscious uses dreams to send a message to the conscious. I think the conscious brain continually asks the same question that the subconscious knows the answer to and the subconscious finally gets tired of the conscious being so damn stupid when the Answer. Is. Right. There. that it blasts the brain with the knowledge it seeks in the form of a dream.

Granted, sometimes it’s like trying to figure out interpretive dance.

And sometimes you don’t need to have a dream symbol book handy to understand the message that you’re receiving because your subconscious is so tired of you being an idiot that it basically stopped short of spelling everything out.

It, in fact, drew you a picture.

I had one of those dreams the other night about something that I’ve been thinking about off and on for the past several months. Sure, there were fantastical elements to the dream (a fashion show? why am I wearing a dress that looks like I stole it out of Blanche Devereaux’s closet? why is there a kiddie race track in the middle of this? night, day, night, day, winter, fall, pick one and stick with it!), but the overall message of the dream couldn’t be clearer. I woke up feeling like the biggest moron in world because the answer I had been seeking, had been ruminating over all summer trying to find, was in my brain all along, Toto. Should have clicked my heels so I could have found it quicker.

I feel like I need to send apology flowers to my subconscious.

What I See Ain’t What You Get

Did I mention the Ursula purse? Oh yeah. I took my Ursula purse.
Did I mention the Ursula purse? Oh yeah. I took my Ursula purse.

Last week I went to my cousin’s wedding. It was a simple, pretty affair in a ballroom that was decorated subtly, but effectively. The ceremony was very sweet and I had a great time visiting with family I don’t see very often.

Now this is the first wedding I’ve been to in years and I agonized about what to wear. I am one of those people that frets about dressing appropriately for the event. So, I was trying to come up with an outfit/dress that would be appropriate but also wouldn’t make me look like a frump. Because I’m one of those people that frets about looking like the frump that I’m not.

The first outfit I picked (coral shift, purple jewelry, white flats, ’60s style hair and make-up) got scrapped because the dress wouldn’t survive a 2 1/2 drive in 90 degree heat with no a/c. With my roommate Carrie’s help I ended up going with a black, flouncy skirt that I hiked up above my waist, a white cami tucked in (the effect made it look like a color blocked dress), a hot pink shrug, black flats, the purple jewelry and ’60s mod hair I was going to do before, and bright pink lipstick. I thought it was super cute and not at all old, fat. I could drive in it without worrying about wrinkles and I could dance in it without worrying about anything falling out. Total win.

In the few days after the wedding, family posted pictures they’d taken (I took like four because I’m lousy at acquiring photographic evidence of events I attend) and there I was in one of my cousin’s pictures, full on frump while boogying on the dance floor.

No, I'm not wearing tights. I'm just that pale.
No, I’m not wearing tights. I’m just that pale.

Dammit!

This happens a lot.

When I look in the mirror, I see a hot chick. Fat? Yes. Not classically pretty? Yes. But still, I rock the package I’ve got and I think I rock it pretty damn well.

Then I see a picture someone else has taken of me and I’m like, “Holy hell. That’s what everyone else sees.” It’s jarring because I don’t think I look like that at all. I think I’m looking super cute and in reality, I’m looking like an uncool fat girl trying too hard to look cool.

It’s like a magic trick.

And it’s not just pictures, either.

The mirror in my bathroom must be blessed because other mirrors aren’t so kind. For example, I look about thirty pounds heavier in the mirrors during floorset than I do at home. I also look about ten years older. And while the college girls I work with are pulling off the sloppy-cute look with their yoga pants and tank tops and hair messily arranged in an up-do, I look like an old, tired woman who lost the will to fashion even if I put my make-up on just before I left and I’m wearing a cute outfit of t-shirt and pedal pushers (I don’t wear my “good clothes” to dress mannequins) with my sneakers. It’s like something horrible happens on the twenty minute drive to work. Because I know I didn’t leave the house looking that way.

The point of this isn’t to fish for compliments. My ego probably shouldn’t be fed. I’m just acknowledging that there’s an obvious gap between what I see and what everyone else sees.

It’s a little disappointing to know that my hot looks are all in my head and no one else can see them.

You guys are being deprived.

A Horoscope, An Eye Exam, and Davy Jones

Davy Jones UKYou’re probably looking at the title of this blog post going, “What the hell?” Trust me. It all connects and it’s all a lot of introspective, realization bullshit that you probably don’t care about, but that’s okay. You can refer back to it when you decide I’m not acting like myself.

I’m going to try to make this as brief and witty as possible, so let’s start at the beginning.

I love horoscopes. I don’t care who knows it. I look at them very scientifically. Statistically speaking, given the number of people born under any given sign, it stands to reason that any horoscope on any given day would be accurate for at least one person and, hey, why not me? Besides, even when they’re flat out wrong, I’m amused, and sometimes they say I’m going to be a bitch or I should take it easy and be lazy and you’d better believe I use that like a doctor’s note.

Every year I have a solar return chart done. A solar return chart analyzes where the planets are in your chart for that given year. So, this year, it was about what planets are in what houses while I’m being 35. So, amusement and excuses. And once again, from a scientific standpoint, it’s interesting to try to figure out how much this information influences my behavior, consciously and subconsciously, and therefore makes the reading “true”.

This solar return chart said that I’d be dealing with self-worth and part of that would come with analyzing how people treat me. And to be honest, I have a tendency to be treated as an afterthought, not out of any malice, but just that’s how things have gotten to be. Other people and their needs come first because Kiki can take care of herself. And just like the horoscope said (probably because it’s been lying in my brain all year), this is really starting to come into better clarity for me. I realize this is an energy I carry with me and can project even when I don’t want to.

It was illustrated this past week when I went for an eye exam. I filled out my paperwork, was told it would be a few minutes, and that was the last time I saw anyone until I left almost an hour later. I never got the exam. I said I had an emergency and I had to leave. This was not a lie. I did have an emergency and that emergency was that I needed to get out of there. I hate eye exams and in the past few years, I’ve really come to dread dealing with the people there because they treat me like I haven’t been wearing glasses since I was in third grade and haven’t been wearing contacts since I was 13. Sitting in that little room, forgotten, did nothing for my mood or my temper.

And for everyone saying that they would have said something earlier about the wait, good for you. I didn’t say anything for two reasons. One, I would have been there longer in order to endure my exam and by that point I was done being there. Two, I was too busy having an existential crisis about being invisible. Basically, I was no longer in a good mental place to have this exam done and when you’re uptight about all things relating to eyeballs, that’s not a good place to be.

(I know that sounds stupid. I think it sounds stupid. And one day I might tell you all about my eyeball issues, but for now, let’s stick to the topic.)

I left. As the incident rolled over and over in my head, I realized that a) I need to find another eye place because I deserve to be as comfortable as possible when I’m doing something that gives me the anxiety and this place isn’t up to that challenge and b) I deserve to be seen and I deserve to be seen in everyday life without having to yell for attention. Right now, I feel like I have to scream at the top of my lungs just to be ignored rather than completely overlooked. And that can’t be acceptable anymore.

Then yesterday, I saw pictures from Davy Jones’s last performance as part of The Monkees. This would have been in 2011 when he was touring with Peter and Micky for the 45th anniversary. That year, they did a show within driving distance of me and I really wanted to go, but I didn’t go.

I didn’t go because I was working a day job that I hated, a job that didn’t like to give me any time off during the work week because “it would look bad” because I hadn’t been there “long enough”, a job that the guys I worked with hated doing  as much as I did and felt that was beneath them. I didn’t go because I put work ahead of everything else, like I always do, and decided that they were right and I hadn’t worked hard enough to earn that concert and shoved my heart’s desire to the bottom of the list. I told myself I’d have to catch the guys during the 50th reunion.

Because that’s what I’ve always done. Put what someone else wants first. No matter who it is, no matter what it is, it trumps me and whatever I have going on lest I risk being called selfish and be given lectures on hard work and earning fun things and how inconvenient it is for me to want to do things that I want to do. It is the established law of the west and one I’ve accepted.

Davy didn’t make it to the 50th reunion (which is next year) and I’ll never get another chance to see him perform.

That’s a supreme bummer to think about, but indicative of the way I’ve been running my world.

If I don’t respect my wants and needs and desires and goals and wishes and dreams and requirements, nobody else is going to either. Nobody else is going to go out of their way for me because I don’t go out of my way for me. I need to lead by example. It’s the only way shit is ever going to get done.

Me putting myself first sometimes is not going to go over well because it’s going to buck the status quo and the order of the Universe a lot and people are going to have to get used to seeing me even when I don’t yell for their attention.

But, hey. That’s what my horoscope said, man.