I Am But a Woman

When half of the act bears all the sin,
Injustice is merely our flawed perception.
Every one of us is Hester Prynne;
Secondary status bequeathed to us with lofty deception.
Those in positions of power wear skin of piety,
Hiding the acts they claim to detest with lies
And while we’re admonished for our shortcomings by society,
They enact legislation for the space between our thighs.
Women aren’t capable of intelligent thought,
Our bodies worth little more than livestock.
So our rights and freedoms can be sold and bought,
Not unlike slaves on an auction block.
They’ll direct our attention to the Middle East
And say: “Look at how badly women have it there!”
Consequently, concern for our liberties will cease
While we celebrate the privilege to display our hair.
Women are spurned for reporting rape,
Viewed as an insignificant infraction
While her accuser’s gender provides an escape
From his role in those twenty minutes of action.
To distract from our outrage, they present us with clowns,
Instruct us to go about our days in vigilance.
Men with painted faces terrorize our towns
Invoking feelings of fear and ambivalence.
The clowns disappear when our anger subsides
And our resolve goes limp and mushy.
Then the puppet masters gleefully sneak up from behind,

Grabbing us all by the pussy.

The Longest Race

This was a very difficult post for me to write, but it needed to be written nonetheless. On December 3, 2016, I began my first half marathon in over two years. It was the first race I ever registered for that I didn’t feel good about. I hadn’t been eating well, hadn’t been training much outside of casual walks with a run thrown in every week for good measure. I think part of me was hoping that my body would just remember how to finish a half marathon. Outwardly, I was confident in my ability to finish. I would tell my friends and family things like: “After I finish this half marathon, I am going to run such and such a race.” But inwardly, I knew I was setting myself up for failure.

In February of 2014, I registered for the Biggest Loser Walk Run Half Marathon. And I began training right away. Granted, it wasn’t always running. Often, it was Zumba. But regardless, it was some form of cardiovascular training. I was improving my stamina, building my muscles, and training my lungs to work more efficiently.

In February (or maybe March) of 2016, I assumed that once you complete one half marathon, you’ll always be able to complete another. I didn’t work out much after registering because in my mind, I had plenty of time. Zumba fell to the wayside (moving to a second story apartment will really limit your options), and walking/running was something that I only fantasized about doing regularly. When November snuck up on me, I decided that I needed to get serious. And by get serious, I mean walking/running a couple of times a week without setting any real distance goals, and without changing my eating habits. I didn’t fuel my body for working out the way I used to, and it was obvious when I had difficulty pushing myself to run even five miles.

By the time race day rolled around, I was around 30 pounds heavier than I was when I had done my last half marathon. I knew it was going to be a tough go. My heel spurs had been screaming at me for the past two weeks, and my knees were both stiff and inflamed. As I walked from the car to the starting line, my heels felt as though I had jammed hot coals into them. I tried to tune the pain out, knowing that once I got three or four miles under my belt, my feet would go numb and I wouldn’t have to deal with the hell spurs until after it was all over and I sat down.

One thing I didn’t take into account was that my feet went numb in the last race because they were too small. They were the perfect size for just hanging out and walking around, but my feet swell a LOT when I do long distances. For this reason, I had gotten myself some new shoes that were one and a half sizes larger than what I normally wore. They would have been perfect if my feet were in top condition. My feet were not in top condition, though. They hurt like the devil, and I needed that numbness. I really did. When I passed mile 5 with no relief, I really started to get discouraged. I had begun falling farther and farther behind the rest of the pack. By mile 8, I was even behind the patrol car that was following the slowest runners. The streets were beginning to open back up to traffic.

When I reached the water station just past mile 11, I wanted to cry. I was parched and hurting. The volunteers had just taken the water table down, but poured me a cup of water and cheered me on. “You can do it!” they said excitedly. But I couldn’t. I know what you’re saying. I should have pushed through. I should have gone those extra two miles. I just wasn’t in a good place by then. By that point, I didn’t even know if there would be a finish line left to cross. I was so far behind that I had to move to the side walk. The guy in the medic van kept circling and asking me if I was okay. He offered to drive me to the finish line. I declined. If I couldn’t cross it on my own two feet, I wasn’t going to cross it at all. So about half a block from the water stop, I called my husband and asked him to pick me up.

Can I tell you guys how much I love and appreciate my husband? I was on the verge of tears when he rubbed my back and reminded me of how far I had actually gone. “You’ll finish the next one,” he said. “I’ll even do it with you. But don’t beat yourself up over this. You did a great job, and I’m proud of you.”

I thought I would go ahead and register for an upcoming 5K to keep myself on track, but something happened: I was afraid to. My failure to complete the OUC Half left me terrified of registering for another race. Even now, every uncertainty I’ve ever had runs through my head on a constant loop. My heels still hurt. What if they never stop? What if I register and fail to finish AGAIN? There are lots of races I have my eyes on. I’ve even marked them on my calendar. But I’m scared, y’all. I love running. I may not look like a person who loves running, but I really do. I love the endorphins I feel when I run. I love the burn in my muscles. I don’t ever want to not love running. But I’m afraid that another bad race may take me out of the game completely.

I found a challenge that I am going to participate in as soon as my self-diagnosed pneumonia clears up (another long story). The challenge basically encourages you to run 3 miles a day for 30 days. I can do that. I know I can. I will. But I don’t plan to register for another race anytime soon.

You Don’t Want My Money

I recently went to an Academy Sports store here in Orlando on a quest for compression socks and energy chews for an upcoming race. The parking lot was almost empty, and I initially thought the store was closed. Upon closer inspection, I realized they were open and went on inside.

There were quite a few employees inside, which was almost comical considering the total lack of customers. Despite this fact, no one greeted me at the door. I grabbed a basket to carry merchandise in, and immediately located the energy gels right up front next to the protein powders. After grabbing ten of various flavors and brands (I’d rather have more than I need than not enough), I went on to look for the compression sleeves.

And I looked. And looked. And looked. In the men’s department. In the ladies department. In the footwear department. I couldn’t find a single compression sleeve. I’ll tell you what I was able to find, though: groups of employees socializing amongst themselves, employees appearing to be busy making sure the hangers on racks were evenly spaced, and employees looking up things on computers for imaginary customers. What I couldn’t find was an employee who wasn’t too busy to assist me. I almost approached a woman in an Academy Sports shirt, leading me to believe she worked there. She spotted me walking toward her, and turned to walk quickly in the other direction. Maybe she was on a break. I was becoming increasingly irritated as I walked helplessly around the store. After half an hour, I walked up to the front, put my $25 worth of energy gels back, and walked out the door. No one told me to have a nice day.

Thankfully, Dick’s was right around the corner. I hoped for a better experience there, and I got it. As soon as I walked in the door, I was greeted by a young man with a smile on his face. He asked if I needed help finding anything, and I told him what I was looking for. He directed me to the footwear section, and I headed that way. Before reaching my destination, I passed two more employees who each offered assistance.

When I got the the footwear department, I was approached by an employee who asked what I was looking for. He lead me over to a rack and showed me the options available, going through the pros and cons of each option. After making my selections, I went to the register and was checked out by a friendly guy who not only asked me if I was able to find everything I was looking for, but wished me a pleasant day as I left. It’s important to mention that there were plenty of other customers in the store, yet employees at Dick’s found the time and energy to treat me as though I mattered.

The point of this post is not necessarily to put down Academy Sports, but to emphasize the importance of spending your hard earned money only in establishments that actually appreciate it. None of us deserves to be treated with indifference when shopping. If a store employee is unpleasant to you, don’t hesitate to buy what you need elsewhere. We cannot accept poor behavior as the norm. I hear so many people complain about this store, or that restaurant, yet continue to patronize them. There is power in keeping your wallet closed.

 

Fat Girl in a Little Coat

I strongly dislike the term plus sized. It implies that there’s an exclusive club for folks who are considered normal, and you aren’t in it if you wear clothes that are larger than what society has determined to be acceptable. You aren’t allowed through the doors of the clubhouse, so you press your face close to the front window, cupping your hands around your eyes so you can get a good look inside. Your breath fogs the glass and you have to continually wipe the condensation away in order to see inside clearly. The average world carries on with you as a mere spectator, wondering what it feels like to be a member.

The label in the back of my dress tells me that I’m a plus sized woman. Clothing manufacturers have decided that as such, I’m unworthy of their labels and they’d prefer I not sully their stores with my presence. Sure, I can go into an “average” department store and find things that fit, but they are generally made solely for function because a woman with extra meat on her bones shouldn’t concern herself with looking nice. She should thank her lucky stars that she has clothes at all. Her wardrobe consists of pieces that are the afterthought of some designer’s assistant, sewn using larger dimensions than clothing of their average sized counterparts, but not meant to flatter. If she does happen to find clothing made for her specifically, it is either hideous or costs her the equivalent of a newborn child. I’ve rifled through enough collared, beaded sweatshirts and elastic waist pants with creases sewn into them (I’m looking at you JC Penney, with your God-awful Alfred Dunner collection) to be thoroughly deflated.

I know what you’re asking: Why not just lose the weight? For the most part, I live a pretty healthy life. At least, I think so. I exercise, don’t eat a ton of processed crap, and I don’t smoke. But I’ll probably always be a curvy girl, and I’m okay with that. I’ve learned to love my body; I just wish designers weren’t so disdainful of my love for my body.

I went to Avenue recently, which is a store that sells clothing especially for those of us who are skinny jeans- challenged. Need pants that don’t give you muffin top? You got it. Bras that could be used for smuggling produce? You’re covered. What won’t be covered though, are your arms. Their button down shirts are fantastic, for the most part. The princess seams makes me feel like a million bucks, that is, until I reach the end of the sleeves. They aren’t meant to be three-quarter length, and it’s obvious when I try them on. With my arms fully extended, there is still a two-inch gap between the end of the sleeve and the beginning of my carpal bones. Apparently, I don’t fit the mold of what Avenue considers to be a standard plus sized woman, because my arms are longer than those of a Tyrannosaurus Rex. I just want a slightly longer sleeve, so I don’t look like I ran my clothes through the dishwasher on the sanitizing cycle. I don’t think I’m asking for much.

And don’t get me started on Lane Bryant. I love a lot of their stuff. I was over the moon when I learned that they’d be carrying Melissa McCarthy’s line. But why do I need to donate kidney in order to afford it? $98 for a pair of faux leather leggings? And don’t you dare fix your mouth to tell me that it’s because of all the extra fabric. We both know that’s hogwash. I think I am going to start a clothing line for women like me, who are interested in fashion, but not interested in dipping into our 401K’s to bring our dream wardrobes to fruition.

Delivery

When I was pregnant with my oldest son, I read every book I could get my hands on to ensure that I had the most successful delivery in all this history of deliveries. I studied the Bradley Method in all its deep-breathing glory, and scoffed at the mere mention of Lamaze. My body was made for this, and I was determined to deliver without an epidural. My due date came and went, and I began to feel anxious. My most recent appointment at the obstetrician’s office confirmed that my son was already well over eight pounds. There couldn’t possibly have been room left for him to grow more. But apparently, there was. He found space, and grew himself into it.

With each passing day, I grew more and more irritable. I was uncomfortable in my body. I could barely breathe, heartburn was a constant companion, and I spent more time peeing than not. On my ninth day of purgatory, I decided I’d help my little guy along by getting my own labor started by consuming all the pizza, wings, and cheesecake I could fit into my belly. It doesn’t sound logical now that I see it all typed out, but it made plenty of sense at the time. About an hour later, I began feeling pains that I dismissed as gas (because Lord knows I had plenty of that). They began to come approximately every hour, but I tried not to get my hopes up.

Clearly, I was on to something with the food method of labor induction. The next morning, I was able to breathe considerably better because the baby had begun positioning himself for his debut. After losing my mucus plug, I knew our time was coming soon. I went to Target to grab some last minute baby stuff, stopped by Burger King for a Whopper with cheese (which was the first beef I had eaten in almost three years), and then kept myself as busy as possible. Armed with a notebook to keep track of my contractions, I was ready. Or so I thought. No one is ever really ready. While you may take the time to read all the books, the baby doesn’t bother to read a damned thing. And they don’t always follow the well thought plans you may have made.

The trip to the hospital was horrific. My contractions were a little less than 10 minutes apart, and every single pothole had me cursing like a sailor. I got checked in and once I was hooked up to an IV to keep me hydrated, a nurse came in to check my progress. “You’re almost seven centimeters dilated!”, she said excitedly. “You should meet your little one by 6:30.” I glanced at the clock, whose traitor arms told me that it was only just after 2:00 in the morning. Now I’m going to make a quick suggestion here: clocks in the delivery room (at least where the birthing mom can see it) are a terrible idea. The worst, in fact. I watched that clock like a hawk while implementing the deep breathing techniques of the Bradley method. And the Bradley Method is absolutely phenomenal. If you plan to have a baby anytime soon, it’s worth reading up on.

Anyway, 6:30 came and went without the arrival of a baby. By 7:00, I was just about flagging down anyone who walked by. I don’t know what kind of operation these people were running, but I needed this situation resolved immediately. My nurse came back with the doctor around 9:00 (this was clearly the hospital of broken promises) to check progress, and to give me a shot of pitocin to speed things along a bit.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with pitocin, it’s a hormone given to strengthen contractions in childbirth. It is made from Satan’s tears of joy, which becomes quite obvious within about five minutes of your injection when you are plunged into the seventh ring of hell. Let me tell you something: there is no coping method for a pitocin-induced contraction. I focused all my thoughts inward to keep from losing control altogether. I eventually changed my mind about the whole childbirth thing. I mean, there had to be a way out of this. Right? There’s no way something so painful would intentionally be created without some sort of escape hatch. Couldn’t someone knock me out for a bit? Wake me up when it was all over?

I stayed dilated at nine and a half centimeters for what felt like eleven days. My contractions were right on top of each other with less than 30 seconds in between. The urge to push was stronger than I ever could have imagined, but I wasn’t allowed to until I was fully dilated.

Finally, the time arrived. I’d read in the books that the weight of the baby moving through the pelvis would cause me to become numb in the nether regions, practically eliminating pain in the area. I’m here to tell you that’s a lie. It’s one of the biggest lies ever told. I had been lured into a false sense of security, believing that once I got through the worst of the contractions, I was good to go. What the books don’t tell you is that you should be realistic. You should understand that when you are pushing a watermelon out of a lemon-sized orifice, there will be unmentioable pain involved. The overwhelming urge to push will immediately be met by the feel of your body being ripped in half as the life inside of you claws its way into the world. Okay, that’s a slight exaggeration. But only slight. I had never regretted my decision to forgo an epidural than I did in that moment

My son came into the world at a fighting weight of nine pounds, eight ounces, and a length of twenty two inches. Yep, you read that right. I didn’t realize this before, but I’m a descendant of Amazonian women, and destined to give birth to babies who are capable of killing dinner with their bare hands as soon as they are out of the womb.

My son was beautiful. I’m not just saying that because he’s mine, but because I’ve seen some ugly babies. Most of them are when they are first born. They resemble little aliens who’ve been baking in liquid for way too long. They’re pink and wrinkly, and don’t quite look human. My son wasn’t one of those babies, though. He came into the world in what looked like the body of a two month-old child. He was able to lift his head right away, and immediately began looking around the room. For me. The nurse placed him on my chest, and I absentmindedly apologized for almost breaking her hand during one of my more painful contractions. After barely having the strength left to place a kiss on his head, my eyes closed against my will and I fell into the most gratifying sleep is ever had.

Post-Electoral Musings

I was in Costco today when I overheard two gentlemen talking about the election results, and their hopes for the future. “I’m excited”, one stated, examining a box of apples before placing them in his cart. “I mean, this could mean big things for guys like us. All those manufacturing jobs will come back from Mexico and we can finally make a decent living for ourselves.” And in that moment, I realized that I’ve harshly stereotyped supporters of Donald Trump. Of course, there are some who are absolutely despicable excuses for human beings; wrapping their bigotry, homophobia, and xenophobia in a flag and calling it patriotism. But there are others who just want to live their best life. Some may simply be blue collar workers who were left behind when manufacturing moved to other countries, lured away by inexpensive labor. Other folks may just be uncomfortable with change, and want to see things go back to the way they used to. be. And as much as it pains me to admit this, I get that. I stayed in a marriage for six years with a man who was abusive in every imaginable way because it was what I had become accustomed to, and the idea of change (even a positive one) frightened me. So maybe it truly is a struggle for some people to accept what is new and different, to share space and time with people who are unlike them after being surrounded by sameness. I don’t have solid answers here, I’m just speculating.

I have friends who voted for Trump. And initially, I thought that I could never be friends with a person who could make such an insane decision. I mean, come on. This dude has no political experience whatsoever. How does something like this happen? Anywho, I digress. My friends who voted for Trump hold political views that are obviously not at all like mine but at the end of the day, they are still hard-working people who want the best for themselves and the people they love. We just have different ideas on how to make that a possibility. So I won’t unfriend you (unless you are a complete asshole) for your political beliefs. I’ll just choose not to have a discussion with you about politics. We can still meet for coffee, have playdates at the park, and go window shopping as long as we remain constant in our respect for one another. You probably won’t agree with some of the stuff I post, and vice versa. There are already enough bitter, angry, and vile people in the world. No one political party, ethnic group, or religion has the market cornered. Regardless of who is in charge of running our country, we can’t let hatred squirm its way into our hearts and minds, changing who we are as people. I won’t be able to convince some of you that Bernie Sanders was the best thing since sliced bread, and you won’t be able to convince me that Donald Trump is qualified for the job he just landed. So let’s not try to change one another’s points of view. Instead, let’s strive to show the rest of the world how we can coexist peacefully, undeterred by our differences.

Ramdom Thought #137

Yesterday, I made my routine stop in the ladies’ room before leaving for lunch. In the stall, I examined the toilet seat for any visible signs of moisture. Feeling satisfied with my observations, I put down two seat protectors (because one just leaves way too many unprotected spots for my comfort) and sat down. I immediately realized that the seat was…warm.

In an ideal world, toilet seats would be warmed by little heated coils on the underside. We’d all pee and poo in complete comfort, without our bare behinds ever knowing the shock of cold porcelain. But in reality, there are no heated coils. A warm seat only means one thing: this toilet wasn’t used for liquid elimination, because it takes more than a few minutes to warm a toilet seat. With my frequent gastrointestinal distress, I would know. Liquid elimination (unless you happen to have an enlarged prostate) should take no more than a minute. A minute might result in some superficial warmth, but that would likely dissipate within another minute or so after use. The kind of warmth than hangs around in a bathroom that has lacked an occupant for more than a few minutes is warmth that requires time. Commitment. Possibly a magazine.

My allergies often result in either a clogged nose. You may think this is a blessing when going into a restroom shared with approximately 60 other women, but it isn’t. Blocked nasal passages require breathing through the mouth, which means that the air molecules (farts, for those of you who don’t appreciate my discretion) left behind as the result of one of my coworkers’ gastrointestinal distress have come into direct contact with my tongue. MY. TONGUE.

I never noticed how unsettled I am by warm toilet seats before today. To use a seat that still holds the heat from someone else’s body sort of bonds me to them. Doesn’t it? I mean, we have SHARED BODY HEAT. A kinship has formed between us, much to my despair. And the worst part of it is that I don’t even know who this person is. Can it be the lady from finance who makes awesome chocolate chip cookies? And if so, how well did she wash her hands after being in seclusion long enough to thoroughly warm the toilet seat? Have I eaten cookies that were lovingly crafted with contaminated hands?

The ladies’ room is a dangerous place. Depends undergarments look more appealing than I ever thought they could.