Category Archives: Humor

In Which Pregnancy Makes You a Spectacle

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The proverbial cat is out of the bag. Obviously, everyone remotely connected to Jason or I through Facebook land was aware. Most of our neighbors knew (they do see me walking my dog every day). All of our Milwaukee friends knew. All of my co-workers knew.

And then this started happening:

And became this:

And now everyone knows, whether I want them to or not.

Which, I mean, its fine. I’m not ashamed of my pregnancy. We wanted this. And while I’m normally a very open person, especially when it comes to social media, the awkward conundrum of being pregnant is that everyone expects you to be very open about a subject that I feel is none of their business: my body. Oh yes, I know. I know I’m a vessel for the miraculous and it’s so exciting and aren’t I just amazed because I’m going to be a mommy. And while all of this is true…I am still me. Me, who really has no desire to have extended conversations about the size of my stomach. Again, not that I’m ashamed of the fact that I am bigger and I have gained weight but pardon me if I’m not thrilled about the ridiculous amount of scrutiny my midsection has gotten.

Thankfully, there have only been two attempted belly touches. One was from a well-meaning older lady that I see on a regular basis. Customarily, we hug before we part ways, and even before I was showing she would start leaning in to cradle my stomach. This was easily deflected by changing my hug to a one-armer and putting the other arm across my belly. It was a quiet way of being protective and saying “No, I am not for touching”. The other attempt was similar; this woman was of another ethnicity whose culture tends to be much more open and touchy-feely than mine. At first, trying to be sensitive, I let her hug and rub away. After a few weeks of being completely weirded out by this, I shortened our hugs and started keeping my arm in front of me. Again, that seemed to do the trick.

However, if anyone has any pointers about politely deflecting unwanted conversations about my stomach, I’m totally open to them. At this point, I’m ready to start pointing out random features on the commenter’s body to change the subject.

Because, seriously? Would you feel it’s appropriate to discuss as length about how big or how small a woman is if she isn’t pregnant? And since when does pregnancy make her a free-for-all for public scrutiny and commentary? I am still a human being, deserving of respect and privacy. I have not become a heifer simply because I’m carrying a baby.

I’m carrying small, which my midwife tells me is normal given that it’s my first and that I was petite before pregnancy. Depending on what I’m wearing, I can either look really bloated or I can actually appear to be 27 weeks along. To my horror, I overheard someone at a recent gathering talking to someone else (like, I’m not even a part of this conversation) about how when they saw me three weeks ago, I wasn’t showing at all.

“But now,” he went on to say, “Well now she is!”

A client came into the office where I work as a secretary and jokingly asked me if I was gaining weight. Half-laughing along, I confirmed that yes, I was expecting a baby. When I told him my due date, he went on to make repeated comments about how small I still was and to ask if I meant November of this year. This is not someone I’m related to, see on a regular basis, or even consider a friend. I stood there trying to remain professional and feeling incredibly uncomfortable as he kept looking me over and talking about my undersized belly.

There is a difference between a general compliment and an unwanted comment. My sister telling me that she thinks my baby bump is cute is acceptable. And it’s not like there aren’t exceptions. Kids, for example, who are naturally curious and exciting. My husband; you know, the father of the baby. My midwife, who’s concerned with my size because it’s her job to be. And…let me think…

The bottom line is that I don’t care how damn exciting it is for you: making unsolicited comments about another person’s body, no matter what phase of life they’re in is never appropriate. It’s rude. It’s embarrassing. Even if you’re trying to make a joke (“You’re gonna need a wheelbarrow to haul that around by the end!”) I am not laughing. I’m wanting to get as far away from you and your prying eyes as I possibly can.

So friends, especially male friends, if you want to say something to a pregnant lady about her body that is more than a straightforward, “You’re looking great!” don’t. Just don’t. Not unless you feel comfortable with them pointing to your butt, chest, pimples, nose, or any other body part and starting a conversation about it. If you do actually feel comfortable with that, by all means, be my guest. We can chat about your double chin all you want.

And for some comic relief, I will recount a conversation between Jason and I that took place while camping with friends last weekend:

Jason: You’re looking awful bloated.

Me: (After some liberal use of profanity) I could be really nasty right now.

Jason: Go ahead! I can handle it.

Me: Well, at least my belly is full of a baby and not chocolate chip cookies. I have an excuse.

Because that’s how we roll.

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For the northside tree planters

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Because 90% of running is more of a mental battle for me (i.e., think about anything other than how far you have to go, how hot you are, how much you want to walk instead of run, etc), I find it helpful to latch on to a somewhat complex or deep stream of thought to occupy my mind between miles 1 and 2.5, which is typically when I get distracted or tired or whatever. I find that one of the best ways to do this is to listen to instrumental music, which doesn’t distract me with lyrics yet helps free up some creativity in my brain.

I was running in the woods and I started to think about being remembered.

I would consider myself a borderline archivist; I try to record everything. Jason used to refer to me as a mental exhibitionist. I take photos and post them to Instagram. I maintain three blogs, all covering different subjects and areas of my life. I post updates to Facebook and change my profile picture to suit the seasons. I’m not as integrated as some people are (never used Twitter! And! I don’t mean to.) but I think that I do use social media more than most of my peers.

Why, though? Oh, certainly there is this aspect of feeling much more comfortable sharing myself with the anonymity of a computer screen. After all, I get to think about what I say before I say it. I don’t have to worry about having a bad hair day or bad complexion day or whether or not I’m slouching or standing up straight or god knows what else. And for the record, I am slouching a little bit in my chair while I write this.

But I think I’m realizing that there is another aspect of this, a sub-conscious desire to be memorialized. There are people I don’t see every day or even every year, and I feel like I want them to be able to see me and my life as we evolve. And even though it’s public, in some ways I do it for me. I will go back and look at old photos when I want to remember something. I will go back and read old blog posts. I will go back and trace the lines from who I was then to who I am now.

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Sometimes, I’m awed and overwhelmed by the sheer speed at which we as human beings change. Maybe it stops at some point? I don’t feel like Jason has changed much physically since we met. He has changed in other ways, but he still looks the same to me.

However, I look at photos of myself from when we first met, or even photos of myself from our wedding day, and I am kind of amazed at how I’ve changed. Not just hair length or color or the type of clothes that I wear, but something that is a result of years of tiny, imperceptible change. The distribution of weight in my face. The fine lines quietly circling around my eyes from smiling up at a thousand suns. The settling of my bone structure, the slow forming of muscles from running ten miles a week and pushing wheelbarrows over our bumpy lawn.

And for whatever reason, I try to capture myself in transition.

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Last Saturday, my sister came down to Milwaukee and we hopped in my Honda Civic and made our way down to West Allis to get our noses pierced. This isn’t something on my bucket list, something I’ve been wanting to do for awhile. I almost did it back in February when I was visiting a friend in St. Louis, but I’ve sort of shrugged it off since then. My sister decided that she wanted to do it, and it sounded like a fun (albeit slightly rebellious) adventure to have while I was still in my 20’s. So, we went. We had someone shove a very sharp needle into the side of our nostrils and then sat in my car with bleeding holes in our noses cackling like hens and taking smartphone photos of ourselves because, wow, look at us! We are new and exciting now. It was a lot of fun, and I’m already happy with the fact that I decided to do it. I don’t have any regrets, even if it makes blowing my nose somewhat challenging now.

As you recall, almost two years ago I chopped off the bottom 2/3 of my dreadlocks. It was a necessary and somewhat relieving change. Since then, I’ve been letting them grow out and felt happy with how healthy they are – hardly any loose or thin spots anymore. My hair grows faster in the summer, because apparently I’m part plant and need a good dose of heat and humidity, so I’m anticipating they’ll be even longer by the time fall rolls around.

The funny thing with dreadlocks is that they can’t necessarily be measured in length. That counts for something, but anyone with dreadlocks knows that the ultimate indicator of growth is weight. All of those millions of little hairs that you would normally brush out or fish from your tub’s drain stick around when you stop combing your hair. They get woven or tangled or mysteriously enmeshed with your locks. They pull hats downwards and lie billowed against my back and slowly sink towards the nape of my neck when worn in ponytails. I’ve never tried weighing my dreads before, but someday I would like to. Maybe when they get really long again.

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It’s both strange and fascinating to see photos of me (or mostly my hair) show up in random places all over the internet – Pinterest boards, Tumblrs, dreadlock websites…I’ll be searching for something and suddenly, there I am. Some stranger is inspired by me, and I get passed around the interweb for a few weeks or months. It doesn’t really bother me; I’ve never seen photos of me connected to anything negative or derogatory.

I’ve had a few articles from LHITBC reblogged by other bloggers. Which, honestly, that’s nice. A big part of what I wanted to do with that space was not simply to press “record” at any given point but to show that you can live in the city and grow a garden and cultivate good community and be a person of faith. Mostly, people are interested in my gardens – which is cool and funny considering 50% of what I’ve done this year has been riddled with bumbling mistakes. But hey, even that could be a lesson, could inspire someone.

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We used to sing worship songs about being legendary. Legendary for God, of course, but legendary none the less. I’ve had (and probably still have) somewhat deranged fantasies about being some sort of revolutionary. When I was younger, I think it was mostly being revolutionary for my faith – I would be some sort of crazy off-the-wall worship artist. Or, when I moved to the city, I imagined that people would write books about all of the intense stuff I did for people in poverty. When I took on a more liberal view about our system, I dreamt that I would lead some sort of charge against institutionalized racism or economic disparity. I would guerilla garden and free people from their dependence on the local Pick’N’Save’s overpriced produce section.

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And this has been a humbling year. It has been a year of mistakes, a year to learn the limits of what I can give and to accept that giving beyond that is not really giving. To understand that the cost of being a revolutionary is steep, and to realize that there is nothing wrong with just being a woman living on the north side of Milwaukee.

I gently reach out and try to find my boundaries, the things that define me. Ideally, I would like to live fully within them; not falling short and doing too little, and not constantly rioting outside of them by doing too much. I feel pretty level and balanced most days. I weed my garden and help manage a community garden and I have lots of amazing relationships that I try to invest in. I devote time to becoming a better person; to prayer and worship, to running and yoga, to sometimes just sitting still and breathing slowly. In my marriage, I walk the narrow lines of honesty and devotion and more and more I think I’m getting it right and I feel like we are changing and stretching together. Which is a nice feeling.

I do not want to make history anymore. I like to record things, but I want to hold that desire loosely. Because someday the phone I take pictures with will be obsolete. The words that I’m writing will sound juvenile. The person that I am now will not be around tomorrow. And just because I don’t record every moment of every day doesn’t mean that it wasn’t important. That it wont’ be remembered.

So as I ran through the woods on the north side, I looked at the little trees and remembered how, back in the 80’s, many volunteers came to this park and planted baby trees to try to heal the land. Most of them were children from the area, who would all be adults now. As I ran, I prayed a prayer of thankfulness for people I will likely never meet, for the people who planted these trees and made this park beautiful again.

I don’t know their names. I don’t know what they look like.

But I think that God knows these things, and I think that he treasures them. Somewhere out there are two grown men who may see each other once in awhile and say, hey, remember that day we planted trees on the north side? Remember how hot it was or how wet the ground was or how you put the tree in upside down? Remember your ugly shirt or your funny hair?

Or maybe a father takes his son to this park and says, look, look here. I was here. And here. I planted this tree, and that one. I changed something for the better by doing a very small act.

I think that’s a beautiful thing to strive towards.

Things I dislike that the whole rest of the world likes

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Sometimes, when I take a break at work, I have occasionally been known to browse Pinterest. Being somewhat of a sheltered woman (we don’t own a TV and, since home ownership, we spend a lot of time rambling around our house), this habit has been somewhat eye-opening in the sense that I find myself thinking, “Really?” THIS is how people spend their time? THIS is what people like?” It’s made me realize…American pop culture can be really, really shallow. It’s also made me even happier about the fact that we don’t watch TV and aren’t planning on changing that anytime soon.

I keep a somewhat satirical mental list of fads, trends, and general silliness that I come across and can’t help but wonder, “Why…?” So, to get the writing juices flowing again, I thought I’d share my list with you.

Disclaimer: Please understand that I’m not trying to be a hater. While I get a little weirded out by intense fandom, if you happen to really enjoy/get satisfaction out of something on my list and keep your appreciation somewhat sane in nature, chances are I won’t judge you for it. These are, after all, simply my preferences.

(These are not in any particular order, by the way)

  1. The Hunger Games series
    I read them all, hoping that there would be some redeeming quality somewhere in the series. And while there were a few moments worthy of applause, I finally concluded that I wasn’t going to find the deep, redemptive moral of the story that I was looking for because these are Young Adult books and they aren’t supposed to have some intense meaning. They’re supposed to be exciting, action-packed, fluffy tales about an indecisive teenager having to choose between two hot boys, wearing lots of designer clothes she doesn’t really like, and somehow having to figure out how to save her post-Apocalyptic nation from self destructing on itself. The writing was fairly stale (on par with the Twilight series, which I also read), but again, they aren’t written to be critiqued on an adult level by someone whose favorite author is Steinbeck.
  2. Harry Potter everything
    I read the first few books and they were actually really fun and well-written. Again, they’re kids books, but they sort of reminded me of “The Chronicles of Narnia”. I’d like to finish reading the series at some point. Heck, I’d even do a weekend movie marathon where I watch all of them. What weirds me out, though, is people who have whole Pinterest boards or photo albums dedicated to all of the actors in the movie, recipes for butterbeer, and ideas for Harry-Potter themed parties. Tone it down a little bit, kids.
  3. Channing Tatum (or whatever his name is)
    Why do women think this man is attractive??? Ugh. I mean, if you want to marry a six-pack, then I guess he’s your guy.
  4. Cupcakes
    I hate cupcakes. I’m sorry. It’s probably because I dislike cake in general. In my opinion, it’s far too fake-tasting and laden with sugar. My teeth hurt just thinking about eating cake/cupcakes. I’ve even tried some of those fancy gourmet cupcakes and they were alright…they just don’t have enough depth to them. I guess I’m kind of a dessert snob; I tend to prefer desserts with a few different flavors/textures going on, and I have yet to eat a cupcake that was worth the sugar/calories to fit the bill.
  5. The Beatles
    You can harass me about this one, I get it. I know they were (and still are) a huge phenomenon that changed rock music. And don’t get me wrong, they’re OK. Shrug. I just don’t find anything particularly amazing about them. I think there were much more complex, progressive musicians from that era that I’d rather spend my time listening to. Besides, I will always be a Dylan girl at heart. He did write a song about me, after all.
  6. Zooey Deschanel
    I know I’m a wacko here because I once tried looking for memes that made fun of her and they don’t exist because seemingly everyone loves this chick. Except me. And my sister. She’s that quintessential hipster girl with big bangs and blue eyes that everybody worships but nobody can manage to maintain a relationship with (including poor Joseph Gordon Levitt). She always plays the same type of character in every movie, going around batting her long eyelashes, seducing poor under-achieving boys, and moping about, well, everything. If I hear one more person talk about how she’s so “quirky” and “endearing” I will vomit.
  7. Pregnancy Announcement photos
    Someday, if I have a kid, I would like to find some creative way of announcing it. But it should preferably be something that doesn’t involve bows, baby blocks, baby shoes, gender-reveal balloons/cupcakes/drinks, me vomiting while my husband holds a sign saying “We’re pregnant!” or a tire pump.
  8. Pink things for girls
    I was raised with no concept that girls were supposed to like all things pink. By the time I was six, my favorite colors were blue and green and I had no idea they were “boy” colors. I don’t get it. I like blue, on boys and girls. I like green and yellow and red and brown on them, too. Why do I have to decorate a girl’s room in pink? Why do I have to dress her in pink onesies or pink legwarmers? I mean, I get the whole nurturing of the feminine nature, but to me, pink screams “Barbie” and that is not the feminine nature I want to instill in my daughter. Shudder.
  9. Fitness/skinny motivation photos
    This is setting you up for some sort of eating disorder or compulsive behavior. Yes, I read (and sometimes pin) workouts that make sense to me, especially yoga sequences. Yes, I think it’s important to find motivation to exercise regularly and eat healthy. But that motivation should be YOUR own body and what’s right for it – not someone else’s body. Do I get jealous and a little bit insecure when I see photos of women with perfect abs or toned legs? Well, yeah, of course. But I wouldn’t want to use that to motivate me to work out for two hours every single day and never eat grains or potatoes or whatever is supposedly making me fat these days. What motivates me is that, by taking care of my body in the form of exercise and healthy eating, I am helping MY body be the best that it can be. And on that note, I get really, really sick of seeing one particular workout described as something that will “blast belly fat in two weeks!” Or, “Lose the thunder thighs in five days”. That’s crap. Nothing does that for your body aside from a long commitment to taking care of it.
  10. “Easy” DYI projects
    You know, those projects that usually involve spending $30 at Michael’s on unsustainably-produced goods to make something you could have reasonably bought at a thrift store for $5. Those projects that take hours. Those projects that never, ever look as good as the photos on someone’s blog. Those no-sew projects that involve an ungodly amount of hot glue and loose threads. Be curious, be willing to try new things. But take some of these tutorials with a grain of salt, my friends.

 

So, to end on a positive note, I will also list some things that I regularly see on Pinterest that I actually like:

  1. Jennifer Lawrence
    Despite my stance on her big-deal franchise, I actually really like this girl. She’s played some diverse roles, she doesn’t look anorexic, and she seems genuinely down to earth. I can get on board with this one.
  2. Engagement/Couple photos
    Jason and I are terribly awkward in front of a camera (just ask our wedding photographer) but occasionally, I see a couples photo that kind of makes my heart melt because you can see that the photographer “caught” them just being in love with each other. There are a couple of photos from our engagement/wedding that are like this, too. Anyway, I’m always looking for inspiration so that next time we end up in front of a camera for some reason, we’re not like, “Uh, let’s hug, I guess?”
  3. Vinegar’s greatness
    I use a spray bottle of vinegar for cleaning almost everything in my house. I’m so happy the whole rest of the world is catching on to the great, inexpensive, non-toxic wonder of it.
  4. Baking swaps
    Yes, you can substitute Greek yogurt or pumpkin puree for almost anything. This was life-changing for me. And remember that whole complex dessert thing? Some baking substitutes totally do this for me. Pumpkin puree with brownie mix is one such example. So much yum.
  5. Satire
    Anything that makes fun of Paula Deen, hipsters, dinosaurs, owls, the list above, and cats is totally acceptable.

What are some things that you dislike that other people go crazy over? What are some things that you actually like?