Who’s in Charge Here?

I have a friend who is a model. Literally. I don’t mean that in the same way that people say, “She’s a rock star,” to mean that she is just an awesome person. I mean literally, people pay money to take her picture, and then they use it in advertisements and stuff. Also, she’s done some runway work, so you know it’s not just that she’s pretty easily Photoshoppable. She looks good no matter what she’s wearing, what face she’s making, how she’s standing, or what her hair is doing. She really is just that gorgeous and perfectly proportioned.

She’s also pretty outspoken against Photoshopping models, models being required or pressured to be unhealthy-skinny, and body shaming in general. I appreciate that about her a lot. I think it’s VERY important for the people who are being hired to advertise clothes to be real people with real bodies and not some unattainable, computer-manufactured shape and size. I think it is crucial to the future of our society (not just girls and women) that we get a more realistic idea of what is normal and healthy and beautiful. And anyone or anything that promotes a healthy body image and encourages girls/women to love their bodies is fine by me.

However, I wonder how effective the message is when it comes from girls who already have what most people would consider an ideal body type. Earlier today, my model friend posted on Facebook about the recent Target Photoshop faux pas, saying that it’s not ok to do that to a girl’s body, especially when you’re selling bikinis to impressionable, self-conscious, teenaged girls. 100% agreed. Later, she posted this handy chart of bikini bodies, which I think is great. But part of me responded to the latter with, “Easy for you to say. Your body really does belong in a bikini.”

Here’s the thing. It’s nice and warmfuzzy and girl-powery and all to say that any body with a bikini on it is a bikini body, but what would we really think if we saw a 350-pound woman with lower back hair and stretch marks jiggling her way around the pool? Really, if we’re honest, what would you think? What would I think? Would people say, “You go girl,” or would they take a picture of her as inconspicuously as possible and tweet it with a mean caption about a beached whale? Would people walk up to the deck chair next to her and ask if the seat is taken, or would they keep their distance and be uncomfortable that she’s there at all?

Y’all, we live in a culture where public breastfeeding makes people antsy, offended, and downright nasty, and where pregnant women are considered unfit to wear bikinis. It is ridiculous.

I honestly don’t know how to fix this problem because if a thin, busty, hairless girl says all body types are beautiful, the girls whose bodies are less than ideal (societally speaking) will say, “That’s easy for you to say. You don’t have to deal with this.” But if a fat, lumpy, stretch-marked and/or hairy girl says that all body types are beautiful, then a lot of people will say, “Yeah… Yeah, whatever you have to tell yourself. Now please cover up/bleach your mustache/pluck your chin hairs/wax your happy trail.”

I am absolutely in no way saying that there is anything wrong with skinny girls, busty girls, fat girls, hairy girls, models or the Loch Ness Monster. What I’m asking is –

Who can fix this?

Who is currently deciding which women are beautiful, which women deserve to be seen by the masses? Who is currently telling us that we must have a gap between our thighs? Who decides how much of a woman’s body to slice off with Photoshop? Who is telling our 11-year-old girls what they’re supposed to look like in five years, how they’re supposed to control the shape of their bodies at a time when their bodies are completely unpredictable and out of control? Whoever is in charge needs to take responsibility for what they’re doing to us, how they’re making us believe outright lies about ourselves and others, how they are shaming us, and how they are causing immense amounts of pain.

How can we get to these people and convince them that all body shapes and sizes really are beautiful? Or to speak their language, how can we convince them that they’d probably sell more clothes if people could see how the styles will really look on their body type? How can we get our society to believe that all women are beautiful and valuable, that there is no wrong kind of body, and that we’re all ok, even if our thighs do rub together?

The Deva Cut

Several weeks ago, I wanted to get my hair cut. Curly hair, though, is tricky because when you wash it and then cut it wet, you have no way of predicting what it will do after it dries and curls back up. To get around this problem and save some money, I used to cut it myself back in college. It was extremely short at the time, so basically what I would do was pull a curl from the back around to the front, and if it was long enough to see it, I cut it shorter. I had a hair stylist friend at the time who shouted at me about it, so eventually, I went to a salon. The stylist looked at it dry, and I told her I’d been doing it myself. Her response was, “Well it doesn’t look bad.” I know, right?

Then she washed it, combed it out, saw how uneven it was, and said, “Oh…”

But here’s the thing: If you wear your curly hair curly, nobody ever sees it wet and combed out. If it looks good curly, that’s all that matters. Why do we feel the need to cut all hair types the same way?

Enter the Deva Technique.

I’ve heard it pronounced “deeeva” and “deh-va,” and I don’t know which one is right, and I don’t care. What matters is that it makes sense for curly hair. Here’s how it works (just imagine the tree is my head):

See how he’s just cutting branches all willy-nilly? Yeah, that’s how the Deva cut works. Of course, like any artist, the stylist has a vision in mind for what the hair will look like in the end. The rest is just removing the unnecessary hair to fit the vision. So you go in with your hair styled as usual so they can see how it curls and how each curl lies. Then they get straight to it, cutting it dry so they can see the style take shape as they go. When they’re done with that, they give you the fancy head-massaging wash treatment. After that, I sat under a dryer for a while, and when my hair was mostly dry, she did some touch-ups.

There’s a dude in Raleigh who does this for like a million dollars a pop. It’s not really that much, but I would be just as likely to pay a million dollars as I would be to pay what he charges, so he was immediately out. I found another salon (a cool one in Durham…because that’s where cool things are) that charged less than half of what the fancy guy was asking, so I made an appointment.

I enjoyed the experience and appreciated having my hair taken care of in a way that seemed more fitting than the way it’s normally done (the way straight hair is done). But on the way home, I thought, I just paid her to do to my hair exactly what I used to do to it myself in college. I could be doing this for free. And y’all know how cheap I can be.

Well then, as if to encourage me further, my hair dried the rest of the way and curled up in a real funky manner on the sides of my face. I didn’t like the length it was right there once it was completely dry, so when I got home, I took my own scissors to it and was much happier. See, I said to myself, you can totally do this.

So my verdict on the Deva cut is that it’s good. Curly hair and straight hair are different, and they should be approached differently. But I don’t know if I will pay for it again. I mean, I would have to screw it up ROYALLY before I’d pay someone to do what I can do for free. And now, I have a curly-haired friend who understands and can help me to the back! Bonus!

Conclusion: Expect some exciting hair experiments in 2014, y’all. This is going to be fun.

Awesome April Adventures!

Well, with just a couple of days left in March, I’ve been hard at work on my list of Awesome April Adventures. Thanks to all of you who made suggestions, the list is really quite superb. Now, they are numbered so I would know when I had enough for each day of the month, but the numbers do not in any way correspond to the dates on which I will do them. Some will clearly need to be done on a weekend due to the time they will require or the time they will require me to go to bed, but the others could happen at any time. Please let me know which ones you’d like to participate in, and I will get up with you to plan. Refer to the actual activity and not the number. You know I don’t do well with numbers. So excited, y’all! April is going to be awesome!

  1. Sidewalk chalk a driveway.
  2. Salsa dance party in my living room.
  3. Swing! (aka play on a playground)
  4. Story telling night.
  5. Four square tournament.
  6. Random dress-up night.
  7. Photo scavenger hunt.
  8. Iron Chef: Cookies (bake cookies using ingredients found in the kitchen).
  9. Beach trip! (complete with sand castle contest).
  10. People watch – make up stories about the people.
  11. Public craft night (invite passers-by to join in).
  12. Picnic.
  13. Make a friendship bracelet/mail it to a friend.
  14. Stargaze.
  15. Kickball game.
  16. Field Day!
  17. Segway tour.
  18. Rock/Wall climbing.
  19. Progressive dinner.
  20. Offer to do people’s caricatures in the park.
  21. Send a silly package.
  22. Spend a day in a podunk town just looking around.
  23. Finger paint.
  24. Bake cupcakes and give them to my neighbors.
  25. Let a child pick out an outfit for me at Goodwill. Wear it to work.
  26. Buy a plate from Goodwill, paint it to commemorate my Awesome April Adventures, and display it on my mantle.
  27. Set up a free face painting table downtown.
  28. Ride a horse.
  29. Go somewhere after hours.
  30. Ride the carousel at Pullen Park.

Countdown

Y’all, I have one more week in this long, long, long, long, long semester. Not bad-long, just long-long. And I’m ready for a break, but what I’m really excited about is organizing all the boxes of class materials under my bed into spiffy binders. And these spiffy binders will all fit into one box, making it possible for me to get rid of all the others. Then, I’m going to adjust my prices and re-list my books on half.com in the hopes that they all sell so I can get rid of that book case. And after that, I’m going to go through all my clothes and sort them honestly based on what I wear and what I don’t. I’m going to get rid of the ones I don’t wear, and then I’m going for a run.

When I get back from the run, I’m going to shave my legs. Both of them. All at once. Then I’m going to catch up on all my stories and take a nap. When I wake up from the nap, I’m going to go to the movies. I don’t know what I’m going to see, but it’s going to be good, and then I’m going to do my Christmas shopping.

After that, I’m going to read. I don’t care what. I’m going to go to the ‘Bou, get the free drink they promised me after making me the wrong drink last time, and read until I’m over it. Then I’m going to look at Etsy and Pinterest while I watch Bones and, let’s be honest, probably Elf for the fourth time in a month. I’m going to lie on the floor and watch the lights on my Christmas tree twinkle while I listen to all my favorite music. And I’m going to talk to people on Skype at all hours of the day and night when I would normally be asleep or at work.

If you would like to join me in any of these activities (except the napping and leg-shaving), you are welcome to do so. It would please me very much. We can make gingerbread houses and eat cookie dough and go ice skating and maybe even hold hands.

Planning Ahead

Amaris‘s brain doesn’t always work. I don’t know if she needs more sleep or if she’s got some kind of vitamin deficiency or what, but sometimes she just ain’t all there. I can say these things about her because she knows it, and I’ve said it to her (though she probably doesn’t remember), and well, she’s just not ashamed. She is who she is, and we love her.

Well, this morning, I got a tweet from her that I should go look at Mary’s feed because the content of one of her tweets was a direct result of me and my awesomeness. So I went, and I looked, and I did not get it. Then, as I thought more about her most recent tweet, a tiny, vague and very hazy memory began to creep ever-so-slowly and sneakily into the very back corner of my mind. It said, in part, “[my husband] is singing along to Billy Joel, which is just awesome.” And I thought, Did I turn Karl on to Billy Joel? That feels kind of familiar.

So I asked Amaris, and she told me this WHOLE long story about how I told Karl that any man who likes music should have a basic appreciation for Billy Joel, and how the women in his life, and maybe even his future wife, would love it if he liked Billy Joel, and on and on and on.

Y’all, I have no recollection of this whatsoever. So I told Amaris that if we don’t have husbands when we’re old, we need to just move on in together so we can try and help each other remember to put our teeth in and wear clothes when we leave the house. I don’t even care if they match. (Well, I want my teeth to match my mouth, so I hope I don’t put hers in, but as far as my clothes go, I’ll still be so urban that it won’t matter.) Clearly our mental capacities are already failing us, so now is the time to prepare.

So if any of y’all want to get in on this, let me know. We can buy a big ol’ house somewhere and form our own old folks home. Surely somebody will have a kid who’s a doctor who’ll come over and check on us once a week. We’ll hire a college kid to do all our grocery shopping, and when he/she comes over with our rations, we’ll say things that are totally inappropriate and unexpected for old people. We’ll play games in the back yard, but we’ll cheat, of course. We’ll go on early evening walks through the neighborhood, smiling and waving at all the families out playing in their yards. We’ll sit out on our porch on Sunday afternoons and wave at passing cars. We’ll always have candy in our pockets to give to the kids at church. We’ll have surprisingly good Halloween decorations. We’ll dance as much of a jig as our hips will allow when Christmas carolers come by. We’ll drink wine on the porch at 10 in the morning just because we can get away with it ’cause we’re old. And when we wake up at 3 in the morning because we went to bed at 7 the previous evening, we’ll take the opportunity afforded to us by the cover of darkness to go skinny dipping in the community pool.

Won’t you join us?

The Teacher Becomes the Student

Oh y’all, this semester is going to be FUN! First of all, I’m going to be teaching a new class (that I’ll be inventing as I go) on phrasal verbs, idioms and slang. Now, for those of you who are not total grammar nerds, a phrasal verb is a verb composed of two or more words which, when put together, convey a meaning different from the meanings of the individual words. For example, “hang out” can be literally hang + out as in, “I hang (action) my towels out (where) on the balcony railing to dry.” Or, “hang out” can be a phrasal verb as in, “Ryan Gosling and I were hanging out in his hot tub last night…”

Ok fine, so that last one might have a possible double entendre, but you get the idea.

Anyhoe, that class is going to be awesome. But my other class, my morning class, is also going to be lots of fun. I’ve recently discovered some new podcasts that I’ll be using for listening practice. All from HowStuffWorks.com, we’ve got Stuff You Should Know, Stuff You Missed in History Class, and my personal favorite, Stuff Mom Never Told You. Well, I was listening to a Mom Stuff podcast just now in preparing my lessons for the first week of class, and as I was writing down a few vocabulary words from it, I began to wonder whether I should also use this podcast for the slang class.

The terms in question were “guyliner” and “manscara,” but they also got me thinking about “manscaping,” which made me curious as to how many other such words exist. So I looked it up and was not shocked to find the following:

  • guylights
  • boytox
  • manbag
  • brozilian

I WAS, however, both surprised and very, very amused by mantyhose. Yeah. Just you go look that up and enjoy. Feel free to come on back here when you’re done and leave comments.

Aaaaaaaand stretch

I’m pretty much out of words for the month, so forgive me if this is short, stilted, awkward or otherwise unreadable.

New Orleans was GREAT. We had a fantastic time, we had the best cheerleaders ever, we ate a lot of really good food, and we completed all 13.1 miles of the 1/2 marathon. We actually did really well with our running/walking intervals for the first 10 miles, and then we both started having joint problems, so we decided to walk the last 3 miles. However, somewhere around mile 11 or 12, I looked at Amaris and said, “You know we’re running across the finish line, right?” to which she responded, “Oh, yeah. Of course.” So when we got to the end and saw the boys, we picked up the pace, and JBeau was able to catch it all on film. I was pretty pleased to see that you can’t really tell how much pain I was in, and the cheering drowns out the sound of me going, “Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow, ow” with every step.

I came away with a new running shirt, a Mardi Gras medal, a slight sunburn a blister on each heel and memories to last me a lifetime. Plus, I took lots of fun fisheye pictures. Have a looksee:

On Friday, we went to the convention center to check in for the race and pick up our goody bags. We took this one right after we left there while we were waiting for the streetcar to come. We spent roughly 40% of our time in New Orleans waiting for streetcars to come.

Saturday morning, we went to Camellia’s Grill, which is an extremely popular diner on the St. Charles line. It only has about 30-40 seats inside, and there are two small couches for waiting, so the line goes out the door and down the sidewalk. While we waited, the fellas went down to a gas station and picked up some snacks. We finished the snacks, waited another 20 minutes or so, and then finally got into the building where we waited for another 10 minutes to get seated and eat. It was totally worth it.

I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of the long exposure thing. When you’re using this camera inside, you pretty much have to leave the shutter open longer to let in enough light to see what you’re taking the picture of. This one worked out nicely. I just wish we could have gotten one of our waiter, Marvin, whose name tag said, “Word,” as did he.

Once again with the long exposure. We went to this record store on the recommendation of “Al, he sells records” from the Edwin McCain song, “Alive.” My friend/coworker, TeacheRisa, see, is a bit of an Edwin junkie, and she was in New Orleans for a show one time when she met Al. They still keep in touch, and although he no longer sells records, he told us about this place, which was pretty cool. I believe it was called the Louisiana Music Factory. It was on Decatur, just a block off of Canal.

A guy in the park offered to take this of us when he saw us trying to do a self-portrait. The great thing about the fisheye camera is that it takes great self-portraits because you can get SO MUCH in a shot. All four of us could fit comfortably in an arm-length picture (see Camellia’s Grill above). However, there’s a lot more freedom to do what you want in a picture taken by someone else rather than trying to just squish all together to make sure you all make it into the self-portrait. As you can see, though, I still got squished.

My favorite thing about this picture is that the guy who took it took my camera, looked at it very perplexed for a moment, and then said, “What the…? What is…? Is this a FILM CAMERA?? Man, you guys are hipsters.”

I don’t actually have any race photos, but they’ll be along shortly. Amaris is apparently editing them right now, which means they’ll be on facebook tonight, which means they’ll be coming your way soon thereafter. Get excited!

Non-stop Fun?

I feel like I’ve packed two weeks into this week already, what with laundry and writing sub plans and making a sassy Mardi Gras running skirt and movie Tuesday and working out and this and that and the other thing. I can’t believe it’s only Wednesday, but on the other hand, I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday. Holy crap, y’all, it’s already Wednesday night, which means at this time TOMORROW, I will be en route to New Orleans!! I should pack. And print out my e-ticket, and print out the info about where we’re supposed to go and when for the race, and maybe print out a map to the hotel from the airport.

And go to bed. Whew. I’ll try to update from the Big Easy, but if I can’t, keep up with me on Twitter. I’m sure there’ll be plenty of tweetable moments to share.

Mrs. Hogan Goes to Raleigh

I know it’s not quite as Capra-esque as a visit to Washington, but having Mrs. Emily Furr Hogan herself here in my very townhouse was definitely a highlight this week. Mrs. Hogan, it seems, booked a trip to NC, was very excited to have nearly two whole weeks with her family, then got to WILKESBORO!!!!! and realized there’s only about a week’s worth of visiting that can be comfortably done there. After that, without some buddies with whom to get into some mischief, it’s just boring. Plus, I think the snow covered up all the sidewalks and driveways she might have wanted to sidewalk chalk, so she had to get out. And I am just honored that she chose to come visit me!

So we had a little reunion last night at dinner – Emily, Julie, Jessica and myself representing Wilkes County – and Amaris and W-Josh rounded out the group nicely. Knowing as much as they do about my childhood and adolescence, they fit right in. We could flow easily in and out of conversations about our current life situations, Matt Hagaman, travel, the Wilkes Skippers, manties (man + panties), and the Wilkes Central Madrigal Singers without anyone missing a beat. Well, Emily and Jessica had never heard of manties, but we caught them right up. Besides, I think I made up the word manties back in my days at American Eagle SoHo (flagship store 81), so clearly it just needs some time to sweep the nation properly.

By the way, regarding Mr. Hagaman, Emily Furr Hogan tells me he was recently sighted wearing a sweater vest. I never thought I’d see the day.

Anyhoe, after dinner, Emily had a little surprise for me. Right there in downtown Raleigh, she pulled out of her trunk…

Tippy the 2-D Dog!

Now, if you are unfamiliar with Tippy, let me just explain (and this will give you a good idea of what all of high school was like for us even though it happened in grad school). When we were both living in NYC (Emily at Columbia and I at NYU), I had…a vision. At the time, I called it a 1-D dog until someone pointed out to me that that would just be a line. But I wanted a flat dog. I don’t know why. Don’t ask. It doesn’t make any sense, I know. Maybe I felt left out seeing all the people walking dogs around the city. Maybe I wanted a pet I didn’t have to take care of. Maybe I’m just super weird. But Emily was on board with the idea and set to work straight away.

What resulted was an image of a dog, printed once, then reversed and printed again. The prints were then mounted on cardboard and foam core and glued together with a yard stick in the middle. The yard stick comes out at such an angle that when you hold the end of it, it looks like Tippy is walking in front of you on an unusually thick leash.

We walked Tippy all over the Big Apple. We even took him to a dog park, where Tippy “played” with other dogs, which basically meant that we poked strangers’ dogs with our pieces of cardboard and foam core. I still can’t believe we got away with that. But good memories. Good memories indeed.

So Tippy now lives in Raleigh, and he is currently perched in the window by our front door, “keeping watch.” He’s a good pup.

Emily also brought me a Puerto Rican woman’s driver’s license, but that’s another story.

Teaching Keeps Me Normally Weird

I have always said that in order to be a good ESL teacher (or probably any language teacher, for that matter), you have to be at least a little bit insane. You have to be able to roll with whatever comes at you, ready to answer no matter what questions come up, ready to explain things by way of demonstration, ready to liven things up should they get too boring. In general, you have to be willing to make a complete idiot of yourself. I think that’s why I like teaching ESL so much. It allows me to utilize the skills I might use on stage, but I never have to audition. Win-win.

But what I’ve just discovered is that teaching also keeps me just barely on the sane side. When I’m not teaching, you see, I get myself into trouble because I have no schedule. And when I have no schedule, I stay up later and sleep later. And when I stay up too late, I sign up for online dating services, and that is just no good at all (I deleted my account the next morning, thank goodness). And when I don’t have things to do during the day, I spend way too much time wandering around Target. And that’s when I accidentally try on nursing bras and consider buying them. And apparently that’s not good either.

I don’t mean to pick them up. I’m just looking at styles and sizes. I don’t notice the little snappy hook things on the front until I get back into the dressing room, and then I think, “Well, as long as I’m here…” And y’all, I’m not kidding. They are SO comfortable. I tried on a regular bra yesterday, and I hated it. It was all rigid and itchy, and it corralled my bazooms in a most unflattering manner. Then I tried on a soft, comfy, cute bra that also just happened to snap open in the front. What of it?

I didn’t buy it, but I do need to go to Target again today, and I’m not making any promises. If I buy it, I won’t tell you about it, and you’ll never know I’m wearing it. That is, unless you notice how unprecedentedly comfortable I am. Then you’ll know.