I missed my blog’s second birthday (blogday?), and I haven’t been feeding it regularly at all. Poor thing! Auntie Mommy strikes again.
Part of this is because I like to have something nice and polished, thoughtful, or at least funny if I’m going to release words into the primal soup of the Internet. But then again, who do I actually need, Mr. Right Post or Mr. Post Right Now?
Having taken heed of the perennial nosy, pushy family member who worries about whether or not you’re getting laid, I’m lowering my standards and not being so damn picky.
My mother told me that she didn’t care if I ever give her grandchildren in much the same way she told me that I didn’t have to become a doctor: sincerely with an undercurrent of disappointment. I remember the home movies she took of my tantrums, all snot and rage and throwing shoes out of the shoe rank. Watching the old VHS tapes with images of my fits popping up between piano recitals and birthday parties, I knew that if I ever had a child I’d be cursed with one like myself.
I’m really bad at losing and failure. Really, truly awful. When I was a kid I would cry angry tears when I lost stupid games. Nowadays, I lie on the floor angrily when my sportsball team loses. When I lose at something, it’s never like, “Wow, nice effort. Good game! I’ll get you next time!” It’s more like, “This friendship is over. You’re dead to me. Get out of my house.”
This behavior is occasionally funny to people, but mostly it’s a pain in the ass. It’s also tiring to care that much about succeeding and winning in nearly every arena. This mindset is paralyzing. Why would I take a big risk at something new when I could fail spectacularly? What if people find out that I’m human and am not very good at some things? What if the truth is that I’m actually bad at everything?! WHAT IF I AM A PERSONIFIED FACE-PLANT?!?!
Mr. Squish has been looking for a gym since Winter is Coming. A snazzy, newer one in town let us have a trial period, which included a free fitness assessment. I suspected that this free thing was like the “free” breakfast my parents went to and got suckered into buying a time share. But whatever! Woo! Free stuff! So far so good.
The assessment was given by a nice, slightly shy younger woman who followed what was outlined in the gym-branded handbook. We chatted a little bit about goals, and I pretty much just stopped short of saying, “I don’t care how fat I am. I just want a pleasant, attractive person to congratulate me each time I complete a weightlifting set and give me high fives.”* Maybe I should’ve been more forthcoming.
Some time in middle school, a family friend dropped off a huge box of books and I proceeded to read nearly all of them in a summer. The only age appropriate ones I remember are By the Great Horn Spoon!, which is a sheer delight full of cleverness, boxing butlers, and the California gold rush, and The Once and Future King, which had some parts that were still outside my grasp. Though the Arthurian legend in general is emotionally fraught, containing incest, patricide, and the weird situation of loving one’s wife while also loving the guy she’s cheating on you with – I don’t blame myself.
This box also provided The Age of Innocence, which taught me about love and conforming, and that a gentleman can be thrilled when a lady’s eagle feather fan brushes his knee. It also taught me that after a lifetime of mooning about someone, said same gentleman could decline to see her because, “She’s more real to me this way.” WTF, dude?
Most people who have known me for a while, know that for a very long time I struggled with body image. I hope, at the very least, that I kept it to a dull roar because that kind of thing is tiring and toxic to be around.
It’s hard to remember when everything started because it started so early. Kids aren’t dumb; they spend a lot of time figuring out their environments, the social pecking order, and how to behave to get what they want. So even though my parents never put me on a diet, never put me down about my appearance, and never said that looking a certain way would bring positive or negative outcomes for me, I still put two and two together. From fairy tales to cartoons to toys to advertisements, I was taught that feminine beauty is linked to goodness and good outcomes. There’s also a pretty narrow definition of feminine beauty that I remember being shown: slender, white, blonde, unmarked skin, mostly hairless – a princess who is “fair.” I’m pretty sure I picked up on all of this before I could reliably count to 100.