Monday, October 19, 2015

Arms Wide Open...

With arms wide open Under the sunlight. Welcome to this place. I'll show you everything. With arms wide open. Now everything has changed. I'll show you love. I'll show you everything. With arms wide open. With arms wide open. –“Arms Wide Open” Creed

I do not have children. I will never have children. This is not to say that I would not have liked to be a mother. I would. I just think that it I was meant to have one, I would have had it by now. I suppose at 43, I am still physically able to have a child or that I could adopt one. However, the older I get, the less I feel as though it’s something I want to do.

Physically—let’s face it, I’ve had WLS and am planning on having extensive plastic surgery.  My obesity was like a noose around my neck, and I can’t run the risk of ever being like that again.

Fear—I hate myself for saying this. There is a part of me is that is really fearful of having a special needs child. I know that young women have special needs kids, and that that older mothers have perfectly healthy babies all the time.  Nonetheless, that is a real fear for me. 
Selfishness—right now my life is my own. I do what I want, when I want and the way that I want.  If I were to be responsible for a child, my life and the way in which I live it would have to change. I value my personal time and personal space and think that maybe, I don’t want to share it with a small person who needs me all the time.

Finances—my financial situation is a delicate balancing act. At any moment, it could all come crashing down.  Adding a child to that situation would not help matters any.

When I stop and read the words I’ve written I feel a sense of shame.  All those reasons are things that I can over come, but I just don’t think I WANT to all that much. I’m ashamed that I don’t have the “stuff” to over come those obstacles.  I am certain that NOT having had a child will be the biggest regret of my life.

At the risk of sounding like someone who subscribes to the Back-seat-drivers-school-of-parenting, I am going to say this.  I am a live functioning person, with a certain level of intellect, empathy, logic, and good old common sense.  Sure, I’m not a parent but I know certain things for fact.  Here we go:

My girlfriend Nicole has a little boy with special needs. He doesn’t brush his teeth. He’s 5, almost 6.  That’s not ok. She speaks of “picking her battles” I’m not sure what battles she’s picking. He seems to run her and their house. He’s a super picky eater. (Lots of kids are, and he’s special needs. I get it) She lets him eats what he wants and leaves it at that. I don’t need to be parent to know that her kid should be brushing his teeth. I don’t need to be parent to know that his diet is horrible and that he is going to be malnourished and vitamin deficient if this goes on much longer. He also doesn’t take vitamins. He gets lots of services, Occupational Therapy included; I’ve asked if she’s talked to them about it. She has not. And has decided that she’ll just have him put to sleep and take him to the dentist. Umm, that seems like the wrong way to go. But whatever, I’m not a parent.

My boyfriend has a daughter who is 14.  She’s basically a good kid.  A little spoiled, but really, not bad at all and I like her.  There a few things with her that I don’t understand: 

1.     She REFUSES to bathe.  
Last summer we were away for a week and she took TWO showers.  This past summer she took ONE. Getting her to bathe is a BIG DEAL. He’s started giving her an allowance—the deal is the she unloads the dishwasher (I should be getting some of that money because I do that more than she does) and takes a bath ever other day. When I found this out I said “You PAY her for bathing?” His response: “Don’t judge me, I’m doing what I have to do.” There is lots of begging, and cajoling. I don’t need to be a parent to know that you need to wash your ass every fucking day. Her hair is positively disgusting. I remember once I was standing next to her and not only could I see how gross it was, the smell was appalling.  I had to tell him and when I did, he just looked really sad and said “I know”.  You know? You know? Get the fuck out of here, “you know”. Make her wash her ass and hair!!!!! If she doesn’t there will be some kind of hell to pay. 

2.     She refers to herself as a “CWG” (Common White Girl). 
Her father is Black and her mother is Latina.  At MOST she is biracial. I don’t need to a parent to know that her referring to herself as a “CWG” will bite her in the ass, HARD one day. She’s asking to get her feelings hurt. This is his fault and I’ve told him as such. 

3.     There are no consequences to her action or inaction. 
Recently she told her mother to get the “fuck” out of her room.  Did she get punished? Did she get in trouble? Nah… she got an iPhone 6plus the following week.

I have friends who have children who don’t say hello. Doesn’t matter that Mom and Dad said to hello to April. They just don’t do it. I am all for not making your kid kiss me if they don’t want to. I was forced to kiss people and I hated it. Nothing worse then kissing a stranger who smells like coffee and Vicks Vapor rub or mothballs. But Goddamn… say hello---your parents are right there telling you that it’s ok. Anything else is rude as fuck.

I had a friend tell me once that her kid was “a little asshole” followed by a sigh and a confused laugh. Ummm that’s YOUR kid. The fact that he’s a “little asshole” is funny because?

Another friend posted a video of her daughter being a real smarty pants, down right nasty. The caption was “She doesn’t listen to me LOL” LOL? LOL? REALLY? Fuck. Outta here. You suck as a parent. 

colleague that I admire and respect admitted, proudly, that she was a "helicopter" parent.  She said if she hadn't been her kid wouldn't have gotten out of college. This kid got in trouble almost every year with something. Plagiarizing, drinking and hazing.  "I was able to get him out of every jam he got himself into". Your kid sounds like a tool.

My parents were terrible at making me feel good about myself. I grew up feeling like the love I received was conditional and that there was nothing all that special about me. In fact, not only was decidedly UN-SPECIAL, I was a tremendous disappointment.  My mother would often look at me tell me “We wasted our money on you”.  If were to call her on it now, she would say that she was only kidding.  Uh huh maybe, but that’s not what if felt like then. Interestingly enough, I now know that I am loved by my parents. However, when I needed to feel that way, I didn’t. Which is a bad thing. It affected my behavior and decision making. I’m still paying that price. So that sort of parenting is not the answer. Don’t be a dick to your kids. However…

What I am seeing now? Entitled, spoiled, rude, the whole world revolves around me, aren’t I special little bastards and I hate it. It makes me hate them but it really makes me hate the parents.

I work at a university and I have seen with my own two eyes what happens to these spoiled, entitled kids. They are disgusting to be around. I had a parent tell me that her kid shouldn’t take a class because  “He doesn’t like to write”. Oh bitch. WHAT? He’s in college. Maybe he should have gone to technical school---which is not a bad thing---I’m just suggesting that perhaps traditional college is not always for everyone. Because at this school? There is writing, which you have to do in order to graduate. What this parent doesn't realize is that she is doing her child a GRAVE disservice:

I’ve asked friends and relatives about the behavior of their children. I get the same response from just about everyone: “I pick my battles”. Followed by the look. The You-don’t-have-kids-so-you-couldn’t-know-my-struggle-look.

You got me. I don’t have kids. I have NOT A CLUE about the struggle of a parent. However, here’s what I DO know:
  •  You don’t brush your teeth? They will fall out. 
  • You don’t wash your ass and hair? They will stink. People will talk about you behind your back and eventually word will get back to you that you are the smelly kid. The “smelly kid” label is a label that sticks. Just ask Vicky Costello. She was the smelly kid of my youth. That label stuck with her till she left High School. No one knows what happened to her after that.
  • You refer to yourself as a race other than the one that you belong to? You will get found out and your feelings will get destroyed. 
  • You get your parents to pay your way through life? Eventually they won’t be able to and you’ll have to stand on your own 2 feet---and get what? You won’t be able to. 
As much as I wish that I had been a parent, a part of me is glad that I get to avoid all of this. I would HATE to think that I would have a kid that a professor would look at and think “I hate this little asshole” and that I was the one responsible for putting yet another little bitch or asshole out into the world.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

You've got the look, Part II

*We’re still listening to Prince and Sheena*

This issue of extreme artifice in women really has had me thinking. The issue of hair deserves its own space. Hence part, II.

The issue of natural hair vs. processed hair is polarizing in the Black community. I will admit to being shocked/sad/irritated/disappointed when I see Black women whose hair is relaxed. It almost seems like smoking. Oh you still do that? Really? Insert confused face here. I don't mean to suggest black women who relax their hair or rock fake hair don't like being black. However…

What DOES it mean when you can't look at yourself with the hair that grows from your head? What does it mean that you can't appreciate how fun and interesting your hair is? Full disclosure--- while my hair is "natural" I am currently blondish (hurtling at warp speed towards grey) which is decidedly unnatural. Mind you, I am sassy as hell, but decidedly unnatural.

I had a conversation with one of my cousins about her hair and she straight up said to me that when her hair is not "done" i.e. is in need of a relaxer it has a negative effect on her morale. Listen; far be it from me to suggest that anyone, much less a relation of mine, to walk around with low morale because they think their hair is ragged. I just think that this issue of hair comes from a deeper place. It's challenging to determine what is a fashion statement or an expression of personal style vs. a sentiment of deep personal loathing.

I have a good friend who was deeply, deeply attached to hair that I can only describe as horrifying. Seriously. Worst. Shit. Ever. But she loved it. I told her repeatedly that she should wear her own hair, but I got excuse after excuse. Finally, after what we’ve both coined at the Weave Disaster of 2014 she finally started wearing her own hair. She looks amazing. Beautiful, natural, youthful and free. Another cousin (I'm loaded with them) in the past few years has gone backwards and embraced weavedom. It is shockingly bad and distracting. We're not close so I'll never be able to talk to her about it. But it makes me sad. Intelligent. Successful. Pretty. Hair, fucked.

Because I find this topic so interesting, I wrote a paper about it for a class I took. I learned more than I wanted to know about African skin bleaching, Asian eye “corrective”, the quest of the perfect, Latin American ass. It has been suggested that women of color are victims of attempting to achieve a White standard of beauty. The notion behind this theory is that White people are thought of as being smarter, more attractive, more successful etc. That via colonialism we (people of color) have embraced the idea that we are some how less than, that we are only worthy if we are as close to White as possible. Obviously there is no scientific way to prove this. However, just within my own culture I have seen evidence of this. When I was a little girl, people would compliment my mother because I had a “bel tet” (beautiful head of hair). Sure some would say I was well behaved or cute etc., but the hair was a huge selling point. I remember when I got older and started getting my hair done at salons, the women would tell me how “lucky” I was to have such “good” hair. I had a colleague (An African-American woman) say to me repeatedly “You have such a nice grade of hair”. Now, this is hair that I have and don’t know any thing else, however it has always made me uncomfortable to accept a compliment about the texture of my hair—if you like the style color etc. that’s one thing and I thank you. But the texture? That’s genetics. I guess you can thank master for creeping into my ancestor’s quarters.

Fucked up when you think about it isn’t it? But there it is.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

You've got the look, Part I

Look here...You got the look (you got the look).You must'a took (you must'a took)
A whole hour just to make up your face, baby. Closin' time, ugly lights, everybody's inspected (Everybody's inspected). But you are a natural beauty unaffected (Unaffected). Did I say an hour? My face is red, I stand corrected (I stand corrected). You've got the look. You've got the hook. You sho'nuf do be cookin' in my book. Your face is jammin'. Your body's heck-a-slammin'.  If love is good. Let's get to rammin'- "You got the look"- Prince

As my body has been changing I’ve been trying to figure out, not only, what my look is but also what makes me feel comfortable and pretty. What kind of clothes do I like? What should my hair look like? What’s my make up routine? I’ve spent or spend a lot of time thinking about that sort of thing. In the past I always felt relegated to a certain look. Now that I’m freer to shop around I feel as though I can really start to express myself. I’m still working on it. 

While I’m figuring it out, I’ve been studying the women I see around me. This has made me seriously wonder about some women. The lace front wig, weave, colored contact, face beat within an inch of their lives, high heeled every day all day, fake nailed, bitchy resting face type of women.  I also wonder about the women who don’t give a shit. Like do you not see that your sweater has a hole in it? Did you not notice that your pants have a mustard stain? When was the last time you combed your hair? To all of these women I ask “WHY”? Why do you care SO much and why don’t you care at all? Certainly there is a happy medium? 

Full disclosure. I am girly girl. Not the most girly of girls, but I am no ones “naturalista”. I wear make up every single day. I think that lips should be lined and filled in with red, or purple or brown or pink and sometimes nude, but not so nude that it looks like you aren’t actually wearing any lip color. Think nude plus. Nails- both finger and toes should be polished. Hedges should be trimmed. I get a full Brazilian every month, as well as an underarm wax—I don’t have any hair on my legs, or I would take care of that as well. Eyebrows (and I can not stress this enough) should be on fleek at all times. 

While I appreciate comfort, I also like pretty shoes. What I have learned is the pretty shoes are NOT comfortable and looking uncomfortable is not pretty. There is a never an occasion where the newborn baby calf walk is cute or acceptable. The newborn baby calf walk often happens when heels are too high or you just plain can’t walk in them. Oh what to do what to do? The solution is pretty simple. 1. When walking long distances, give in to the ugly yet comfortable shoe. I know, I know. But it’s really better for all parties involved. Trust me. 2. Cute shoes can be worn at work and at a function where there is mostly sitting. Perhaps the occasional walk to the buffet, ladies room or dance floor.  Do not attempt to walk across Miami International Airport in the cute shoes. 3. Know your limits. If your limit is a 3-4 inch heel, then that is your limit. I know. But all the practice in the world will not allow you look and feel comfortable in 5-6 inch stiletto. Mariah Carey looks ridiculous. Wendy Williams needs helping walking to and from her platform on her show (I’ve seen it with my own eyes). I think I’ve said enough.

Too much jiggle? Please, go be right with the Lord and get yourself a pair of Spanx. Since surgery I wear Spanx every day. EVERY DAY! I wear them under yoga pants. I’m not playing around. Kimmie K (not that we are trying to emulate her) wears two pairs at a time! Beyoncé wears them and her body is sick. I say all this to say that Spanx are your friend. Embrace that shit. Wow. I just went to church on the virtue of Spanx. (Note to discuss with therapist.) 

My objection is to the supreme artifice. I have seen YouTube videos of women who show you their makeup routine. By the end, they are a different person.  In the case of some of the Black women, they are a different shade all together. Clearly perpetuating the message that Beauty = being lighter? How much time are you spending beating your face? My make up routine is 11-13 minutes from start to finish. Yes, I timed it. That includes face washing and moisturizing. I like looking polished. I don’t like looking fake. Ok fine purple lips are kinda fake.  I know a woman whose daily routine is 30-40 mins. She looks good, I guess, but she also looks fake. Like you don’t want to hug her because some of her face will end up on your clothes.  I also wonder about the men who like women who look like that.  What are you thinking when you meet a woman with eyebrows that look as though they have been filled in with a sharpie and eyelashes like a giraffe?  

Perhaps I'm trying to unpackage something that's not really there. However, when I see an Asian woman with UN-asian eyes (and the thing is that it doesn’t really look not Asian, it looks like what you’ve done as an Asian person. Had surgery to in the attempt to look less ethnic) blonde hair and green contacts and it makes me pause. When I see black woman after black woman with the tell tale signs of skin bleaching or the bad fake hair, I feel it deeply.

What is it that you don't like about your self that makes you feel as though you need to alter your appearance in such an extreme manner? I'm not sure what to make of these women. I suppose I’m just wondering how, when, why and where women received the message that we can’t look like ourselves and still feel as though we are beautiful.