I love New Year's resolutions. I appreciate the impetus to take a look at my life, and choose something I'd like to do differently, and then acting on that desire instead of letting it nag the back of my mind. That's why I actually take my resolutions very seriously, and I even announce them on Facebook to hold myself accountable.
This year my resolution was not to buy anything for myself for a year. No sweaters, no shoes, no boots, no underwear or socks. No hats, no coats, no tchotchkies, no cosmetics. No. More. Crap.
I was surprised by the reactions I got from friends when I announced my intentions. "Seems extreme," was one comment. Another person joked that I was going to be pretty smelly if I didn't buy soap. Didn't appreciate that one. Of course I'll purchase what I need to keep clean. My husband didn't believe I'd be able to do it, which provides some hint at my reasons for choosing to. I can now report that I've reached the third month of the year, and I still haven't bought myself anything new, at all, except I decided to switch my brand of drug-store face cream, and so far I'm happy with the change.
A lot of people are baffled about my sudden aesceticism, and I decided to explain where it came from, partly because I wasn't absolutely certain of all my reasons for doing it. I'm never certain about anything until I try to write about it, actually.
When I became a mother, I had the same reaction most new parents have: Complete joy, unparalleled love, and paralyzing, keep-you-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night terror. Suddenly I was responsible for small being(s) who were absolutely dependent on me for sustenance, shelter, and safety. Until you have a child, it's hard to feel in your gut the total responsibility a parent has toward her baby. Take my word for it, non-parents, it's a definite blow to your psyche. Suddenly, nothing you desire comes even close in importance to seeing that your child is safe, well-fed, warm, and loved.
When my baby cried, it was emotional agony for me if I couldn't make it better. If my baby was in pain, or was simply mysteriously freaking out and I couldn't figure out why, I honestly felt like I would go crazy if I couldn't fix it. It's so scary, all the possibilities of what might be tormenting an inconsolable baby: Is it a hair wrapped around a digit? A migraine headache? A potentially fatal intestinal blockage? Or is it just that I'm holding her the wrong way? The anguish a new parent feels in those moments can be intense.
For me, though, I always knew she'd had enough to eat. It wasn't dysentery, or typhoid, or a poisonous insect bite, or an undiagnosed birth defect in one of her organs. I knew this because I live in America where I have access to health care, and I have enough money to buy food for my kids and to provide safe haven for them.
I'm so lucky.
Because these conditions of ease and comfort do not exist for the majority of parents in our world. The majority. MOST people in the world are food insecure, which means that there are lots of parents, today, this very moment, watching their child moan in pain from being hungry, and there is absolutely nothing they can do about it. The anguish of being a parent, knowing what is wrong, knowing that your kid might even die from the problem, and still not being able to fix it? Unimaginable. Unbearable. Horrific.
This shift in my world view sapped the joy of shopping from me. I keep thinking about parents fleeing Syria, trying to carry their children across a desert, parents in Somalia, whose children have stopped growing, parents right here in the USA whose kids eat rice every meal, knowing the food stamps won't last much longer. Getting something for myself, with all that on my mind, wasn't fun anymore.
I know that what I'm doing is kind of useless. It's self-absorbed, really. Who am I helping? No one. I give to charities, but not enough. I could give more. Actually I think I will. I just wanted to stop feeling so guilty after the initial fun had worn off from my latest needless purchase.
I've hesitated about writing about this because I didn't want to seem sanctimonious. I don't begrudge anyone their new jeans. I truly don't. Life is hard, and if shopping is your way of coping, then I say go for it. Right now, this year, my way of coping is to not shop. I think of it as an expression of solidarity with the parents who don't even have the option to go shopping for themselves. And you know what? I do feel a little bit better about my choices. It's a break from stuff. A break from shopping. A break from my own petty preoccupations with the material world.
I didn't expect this, but I feel so free.
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Amy's thoughts on young adult literature, the universe, and her dog Miles. Amy is the author of Vibes and Shadow Falls.
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I love New Year's resolutions. I appreciate the impetus to take a look at my life, and choose something I'd like to do differently, and then acting on that desire instead of letting it nag the back of my mind. That's why I actually take my resolutions very seriously, and I even announce them on Facebook to hold myself accountable.
Once upon a time, women's bodies were hidden this way:
Waists were cinched with whale bone corsets, full skirts concealed legs and ankles, hats and veils on heads, gloves over white fingers, parasols between skin and sun. To expose a woman's body was to disgrace her. A woman's body was treated with shame.
Now women's bodies are hidden like this:
The fat on this girl's legs has been hidden, her true skin tone obscured, corrected, her waistline digitally cinched ever tighter, her legs narrowed, because Jessica Alba was not beautiful enough.
So now women try to hide their own bodies:
They hide their bodies by eating less, until their muscles atrophy and their internal organs stop functioning. They hide their bodies with Spanx, with cosmetics, with collagen injections and laser treatments, with surgery.
But some women refuse to hide their bodies. Sometimes they are ridiculed for it:
In some places, the consequences are worse:
We are brave.
We are aging naturally, we are eating healthy food and exercising for our health, not our appearance. We are raising our daughters to be cunning, strong, and fearless. No one takes our picture and puts it on a billboard, but we are your doctors, lawyers, teachers, nurses, musicians, artists, and writers. We are mothers.
We know what true beauty is.
True beauty does not hide itself. True beauty is not afraid. True beauty is timeless.
Whoever you are holding the camera, the scalpel, the needle, the laser, the stone, we do not need you to see us as beautiful.
We don't need you at all. Add a Comment
When I was a kid in the 1970s, a hoodie called up images of heroic athletes working to overcome crushing odds to better themselves and win the day. Rocky Balboa wore his hooded sweatshirt as he ran up the 72 steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, accompanied by a choir of singers belting out, "Feeling strong now!!" This was back when Sylvester Stalone made great movies.
When people wore a hoodie in the 1970's it meant they were working hard to better themselves, sweating it out, getting strong.
But somewhere along the line, hoodies started to mean this:
But that's not why most of us wear hoodies. I've got one, and I wear it when I go running because I can put up the hood during my warm-up on a cold day, and then once I'm sweating, I can flip it back and I feel cooler. I can unzip the front and get cooler still. When I'm done with my run, I can bundle up again on my walk home. If it starts to rain on me, my hood provides a little shelter. My hoodie is warm, and comfy, and it's one of the most useful, versatile pieces of clothing I own.
I bet that's how Trayvon Martin felt about his hoodie. He was the unarmed teenage boy who, in February of 2012, went to a 7-Eleven to buy iced tea and Skittles, only to be shot and killed by George Zimmerman.
Throughout the media circus that followed, we heard countless mentions of Martin's hoodie. Geraldo Rivera famously said, "I think the hoodie is as much responsible for Trayvon Martin’s death as George Zimmerman was.” (Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0312/74392.html#ixzz2thsLEE1L) Rivera, perhaps hearing the mistake he'd made, tried to explain himself: "It’s those crime scene surveillance tapes. Every time you see someone sticking up a 7-Eleven, the kid’s wearing a hoodie. Every time you see a mugging on a surveillance camera or they get the old lady in the alcove, it’s a kid wearing a hoodie. You have to recognize that this whole stylizing yourself as a gangsta — you’re going to be a gangsta wannabe? Well, people are going to perceive you as a menace." Even if Rivera's intentions had been to advise young men to protect themselves, the logic is right there in his words: Dark Skin + Hoodie = Danger.
One has to wonder if that was George Zimmerman's logic, too.
It wasn't just Rivera making the connection. Hundreds of hooded images of Martin were paraded about, many of them less than flattering, or downright slanderous:
Martin did NOT steal the Skittles. Here's a link to the surveillance video of him buying them from the clerk the night he died: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-W34pSMfM6g
There was conjecture that Martin may have been involved in some burglaries, though he was never charged, and it was never proven that the items in his possession had actually been stolen. He'd been suspended for having marijuana paraphernalia in his school locker, but he did not have a juvenile record. It's especially important to note that Martin did not approach Zimmerman in any way. Zimmerman disregarded the advice of the police dispatcher he was on the phone with, followed Martin, confronted him, and when Martin got scared, or angry, or both, and tried to defend himself, Zimmerman shot him. Tragically, needlessly, the boy died.
We all know what happened next. George Zimmerman pleaded self defense, and was found not guilty.
In the wake of the grief and outrage that followed, one must ask the question: Why did the the negative details about Trayvon Martin's past even come up? Why was the hoodie itself so hotly debated? They were irrelevant to the case, but Martin's past indiscretions and wardrobe choice seemed to be on trial just as much as George Zimmerman was. At the end of it all, looking at the way Martin's image was scrutinized in the media, and how Zimmerman was shockingly let off the hook for his murder, one might conclude: If you are a young black man in America and you're shot down, you have to be a saint for your murderer to be convicted. And you better not be wearing a hoodie.
And that, my friends, is what oppression looks like.
Link to The Million Hoodies Movement.
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Here is what the e-verse is saying:
From a Kirkus starred review: "...a climax that is tense and viscerally frightening...Detailed and gripping, with a thorough and satisfying resolution."
MajiBookshelf: "Me not being a fan of books set in space, this series totally blew me away! I'm so happy that I was able to read it, and would totally recommend it to all sci-fi readers out there! I will be looking forward to future books by Amy Kathleen Ryan!"
Fresh Fiction: "Fans of Orson Scott Card and Suzanne Collins will appreciate the depth of Amy Kathleen Ryan's world and how it reveals society at its weakest and strongest points."
Snarky Bird: "This trilogy offers a great mix of dynamic characters, politics and well, spaceships."
Me on Books: "Flame is a tense and dangerous conclusion to a series about survival, faith, power and hope."
((And for the record, my husband is neither fat nor lazy. He's actually very cute.))
I go to the counter and randomly pick up objects –a wooden spoon, a ladle. “This? This?”
At which point she throws herself on the floor, kicking and screaming, “FUUUUUUUUUUUHK!!! FUUUUUUUUUUUUHK!!!”
Grandpa looks at me, pearly blue eyes clouded with confusion.
Unless you're living in Antarctica right now, you know that the media has been in an uproar over Miley Cyrus's lascivious performance at the MTV Video Music Awards. My first reaction was: "Meh." Much ado about nothing. But the more I've seen written about it, the more interested I've become, not in Miley's silly dance, but in the media's reaction to it.
A few days ago I watched the dance on YouTube to see what all the fuss was about. There's Miley shaking her tail feathers and simulating oral sex, surrounded by people dressed up as giant plush toys. The choreography didn't wow me, nor did the artistic vision behind the display, but the entire thing is very clearly the work of many professionals. To get something like that together, a juggernaut of producers, choreographers, audio-visual experts, software engineers, costume designers, dancers, and cameramen all had to come together to execute this folly. Miley Cyrus herself must have had an enormous staff of people, from the agents who fought to get her the gig, (which must have been sought after by many performers,) to her make-up artists and hair specialists, not to mention all the dancing lessons and coaching she must have gotten regarding how to properly twerk.
And then: OUTRAGE! How dare Miley Cyrus behave like a wanton slattern, stripping down to her underwear to gyrate so suggestively! Suddenly she is at the center of a disapproval vortex for performing in a dance that someone else designed, being asked to explain herself only to have her absolute dumbest sound-bites published. (Were there any intelligent sounding bites? Perhaps we'll never know.) This twenty year old girl is being grilled rather mercilessly.
Considering, though, all the people involved in the show, I have to ask why isn't anyone else being held accountable? Somehow I doubt the dancing puppets, the twerking, or even the song were all Miley's idea. After all, she was hired for this gig by somebody, and told what was expected of her. She was given a job to do, and she did it.
I did a quick web search looking for the names of the choreographers and producers who are ultimately responsible for the show, but I couldn't turn up any interviews done with them. All the attention and scorn is for Miley. I went to the MTV website and found triumphant reports of Miley's record sales skyrocketing, and proud mention of how her name dominates social media. She sure is cashing in on all that disapproval, and so are a lot of other people. So I can't help wondering: Wasn't she just trying to do what they asked of her? And I'm sorry to say this, but at the age of twenty, I would never expect her to have the kind of judgment an older woman would have. She's young, ambitious, she wanted to please her bosses.
In the final analysis, what I see when I look at that performance is a young woman's body being exploited --by a multinational corporation, by producers, by music executives, and by herself. Was she a victim? Not at all. She was more than complicit in that performance; she obviously embraced it. But I have to wonder at all the many people behind that dance number, the people pulling all the strings to make it happen, and question why twenty year old Miley is the only one sitting on hot coals.
To me the answer is obvious: Because the ones behind the scenes are mostly wealthy middle aged businessmen, and she is a young woman.
Yes, ladies and gentleman, I'm pulling out the sexism card.
As soon as a woman exposes her body to suggest sexuality, she is labeled a slut. No matter that she was fulfilling a contract, no matter that a thousand other people are making money off what some see as her degradation. She's called the slut. She's named the whore. My personal reaction to her dance was to feel a little grossed out, but rather than heap all responsibility on her head, I think the responsibility can be spread around to plenty of other people who made the cynical choice to display her that way for the sake of money. They knew exactly what would happen in the media, and probably so did Ms. Cyrus. This tempest in a teapot is every bit as choreographed as Miley's twerking, only in this case, you and I are the performers, and we are fulfilling our role splendidly.
We are talking about it, we are blogging about it, tweeting and twerking about it. We are dancing where they want us to go, and with us come our dollars. Because they knew that nothing gets people more worked up than seeing a young woman unapologetically embracing her role as a sexual object. If it hadn't been Hannah Montana it would have been someone else, but they chose Miley because a few short years ago she had a wholesome, spotless image, and turning that image on its head would provoke the most heated response, and bring in the most money.
I don't have a problem with Miley Cyrus. I have a problem with the system that made such a display so damn profitable.
The thing about middle school is that you are thrown into close proximity with people who you would never socialize with by choice. The kids tend to self sort, so the smarties hang out together, and the burn-outs corner a table in the lunch room from which they emit their dreadful vibes. But that doesn't mean you won't get stuck sitting next to someone who loathes your very soul in math class.
There was this one guy I remember from school who seemed to see into the very pit of my being and recognize some irredeemable shortcoming there. His name was Mark Something. I didn't think much of him either. I was always a good student, and he never seemed to try very hard. He was kind of chunky, and he walked with the kind of lumbering gait you see more often on a middle aged retiree. We were in band together, and he was a consummate musician. He played the French horn, or the Souzaphone, or some large, curly brass instrument. I played rhythm piano, quite poorly I might add, which probably didn't do anything to dispel his contempt.
It was people like this I learned to avoid. I sat with my speech team compadres at lunch, I hung out after school with my goofball pal Annika, I avoided parties altogether. In short, I was not very sociable, though I felt like I ought to be, and to be honest, that hasn't changed much even three decades later.
I wasn't without my petty rebellions, though. One day I wrote on the corner of my desk, "This sucks." I thought I'd gotten away with something occult and mysterious. I'd defaced public property! I was a true rebel! Imagine my surprise when the next day I discovered that someone who sat in my desk during another period wrote a reply: "No kidding." I had a partner in crime! Naturally I don't remember the conversation, but it went something like this:
"School is boring."
"I hate social studies."
"Who cares what the Netherlands exports?"
"You got a problem with tulips?"
"Yeah. I got a problem with tulips. What of it?"
Like that. Meaningless banter, but kind of funny, kind of entertaining, and healing to my introverted soul.
Finally, after a couple weeks of this exchange, I committed a fatal error. I finally breached the firewall of our concealed identities, and asked the name of my desk buddy. The reply came: "Mark Something. Who are you?"
Mark Something? The guy who loathes me in band? The chubby guy who walks like my grandpa? Mark SOMETHING? I was very disappointed.
I wrote something I wish very much I hadn't. I wrote: "I'm Amy Ryan. I'm not thrilled about it either."
And boom. When I saw Mark Something in band class his loathing had morphed into a complete withdrawal of any kind of emotion whatsoever. He no longer looked into my being and found it wanting. He no longer looked at me at all. I did not exist to him. All desk banter stopped.
And ever since, I can't help wondering if I'd left that last bit off. If I'd just told him my name and waited for his reaction, if he might have become my friend? We had a connection after all. If I hadn't assumed that he would be bummed out to see my name under his, if I hadn't been so defensive, maybe band class could have become fun instead of boring, and I'd have made a friend instead of an enemy.
That is one of thousands of moments in my life I wish I could go back and fix. Mark Something, if you're reading this, I'm sorry I ruined it. You can write on my desk anytime.
That's the problem, though. I will probably never see him again, and even if I did, I doubt I'd recognize him. But I remember what happened. It has stayed with me through the decades, even haunted me a little, as though it were whispering in my ear that I was supposed to learn something from it.
The connections we have with people make life interesting and worthwhile. Before our desk graffiti, I had a connection with Mark, even if it was defined by a mutual dislike. The graffiti could have changed that, and gave us a chance to create a different mode in our relation to each other, but I was too stubborn to let my idea of our connection change. With one sentence I gave Mark a reason to sever our tie altogether. Maybe if I'd been willing to tolerate the ambiguity of our relationship, something even more special and interesting than our desk graffiti would have happened. But I couldn't tolerate that ambiguity. I had to keep defining us as enemies, so I wasn't open to anything else. Something about that negative definition felt safer to me than the possibility of change.
If I hadn't been defensive, if I'd just let my name hang there, he might have responded meanly, or he might have decided to offer friendship. I couldn't have done anything to prevent him from putting me down if he'd wanted to. My only power in the situation was how I behaved. I don't know if I let Mark Something down, but I think I did let myself down a little in the name of self protection. I don't know if the experience really changed me, or if I learned anything from it at the time. I think I was too young to think very deeply about what this exchange meant for me and the way I related to the world. But I can think about it now.
It reminds me of a quote from the poet W.H. Auden: "How do I know what I think until I see what I say?"
So here's what I think: My definition of Mark Something as an enemy was actually useless. It was useless to define him at all. A better attitude would have been to accept the fact that I had no idea how he would react to seeing my name written on that desk. I had no control in the situation. Trying to maintain our old orientation to each other, persisting in seeing him as my enemy, was cowardly. If I'd been brave, if I'd been open to change, I might have a happy memory of that time instead of a sad one.
It is better to face the world with an open heart than a closed one.
Sometimes it's better to let your name stand alone.
I've been an on again, off again runner for most of my adult life. When I'm off, it's because I've overdone it and injured myself. When I'm on, instead of enjoying the run I'm on, I'm always thinking about how far I'm GOING to be able to run. I would read articles written by seasoned marathoners, and followed the advice of these experts who tell you that you can build your mileage quickly if you take a one minute walking break in the middle of a run, or that you can increase your mileage ten percent per week. I dutifully followed these rules, confident I was doing what I was 'supposed' to do, yet they still led to injury. I would end up with a wicked case of plantar fasciitis, runner's knee, or incredibly painful clicking hip joints. I thought for a long time that soreness is simply a part of running, that it's normal. After all, most runners' magazines are filled with tips about how to wrap sore feet or properly ice a throbbing knee, so I ignored what my body was telling me. The truth is, I am an impatient person, I want what I want right now, and if that means I have to damage my body trying to reach my goal, I tend to grit my teeth and try to run through the pain --until I can't anymore.
Since the last time I was running in my mid thirties, I've had my kids, put on a bit of weight, and turned forty. For a while I tried to tell myself that I can't run anymore, that I shouldn't even try it. Instead I walked, or used my elliptical trainer. After all I've got kids to keep up with. I can't afford to be limping around after them. But I miss running. Nothing makes me feel stronger. So a couple months ago, I got an idea. What if it is possible for me to run pain free? What if I went even slower than the experts tell me to go?
So I started running again, but I'm building my miles at a snail's pace. The first week I got back to running, I ran for one minute. Was I tempted to go farther? Hell yes. It felt good to be on the trails again, but when my timer ran out, I quit and walked the rest of the way. The next week I ran for two minutes. I've continued the pattern for ten weeks now. I figure, since I'm slow, that once I reach twelve minutes of running I'll have broken the mile. The impatient voice inside my head demands, "According to the experts, I could be running a 5K by now!" But I ignore that voice. I'm no longer trying to be the hare. I'm going for turtle.
It's agonizingly slow, it's frustrating, but you know what? I've been running for three months now, and I don't have plantar fasciitis, runner's knee, or clicking hips. I'm not limping. Instead of listening to experts about what my body should be able to deliver, I'm listening to my body, and it's working.
For a long time I made the mistake of trying to fit into the expectations of other people. I ignored the pain, which was a message from my body that I didn't fit into the experts' rubric, that I am different from the norm. Maybe my body is more fragile, maybe my joints are too loose and wobbly for me to ever be a marathoner, but maybe, if I pay attention to the signals I'm getting from my feet, knees, and hips, and take it slow, after another year of running I might finally reach my goal of five miles.
It's taken me four decades to accept myself as I am, to stop trying to measure up to an ideal that simply isn't possible for me. Just because I can't measure up to the ideal doesn't mean I should give up on something I enjoy. So what if I'll never run a marathon? I accept that. And, if I find my upper mileage limit is three instead of five, I'll accept that too. I'd rather run a regular three miles for the next ten years than run five miles this year, only to burn out and quit again. The important thing is to keep running, and to do it in a way that respects my body.
When I am writing to meet a deadline, I just don't write much on my blog. I've been feverishly working on my next novel, FLAME, which ought to come out in January sometime. I just turned it in to my editor on Friday, and it's going right into copy editing this week. This was by far the most difficult of the three Sky Chaser novels to write because I had to tie up about a thousand pages of story into a meaningful denouement. I feel good about the end product, and I hope my readers enjoy it.
Other than that, I've been raising my cute kids, walking my dogs, and tending my garden. As the summer wore on I became less and less attentive to my garden, but once things are planted they tend to take care of themselves. I've got tomatoes, beans, lettuce, and carrots to harvest, so much that I'm not always sure what to do with it!
Now that I'm not on deadline, I'll have lots more time for my blog, and I'm looking forward to getting back into it. I've sadly neglected my online presence, but the nice thing about the internet is it's never too late to dive in!
I'm excited to help sound the clarion call for my friend Catherine Stine's new e-book, Ruby's Fire!
If you're interested in imaginative science fiction with a romantic twist, you should check it out! Here is an excerpt and some links to help you find (or win!) a copy of RUBY'S FIRE, book TWO in the innovative FIRESEED series.
Here is a list, compiled from my long, ignoble dating career, that will help the young ladies spot a dud early on. (I hope.)
1. He doesn't laugh at your jokes. This is a lame power play, and a subtle way of embarrassing you.
2. He is rude to your friends or family. If he's a nice guy and he really likes you, he would want to please the people in your life, not drive a wedge between you and them.
3. He either arrives late for a date, or stands you up. No brainer, right? Dump him.
4. He checks out other girls while he's with you. This is impolite and uncool. You're the one he's with. He should be paying attention only to you.
5. He lets his buddies make jokes at your expense. Any guy worth hanging out with has nice friends, and won't let anyone treat you with disrespect.
6. He talks meanly about girls he's dated in the past. If he pulls out the "B" word about another girl when he's on a date with you, he'll probably say something nasty about you later on too.
7. He doesn't make eye contact with you while you're talking. There is shyness, and then there is rude disregard. Learn to tell the difference.
8. You find yourself making excuses for him, or you spend a lot of time trying to understand his behavior. A jerk acts like a jerk because he is a jerk. Nice guys don't need excuses made for them.
9. He's mean to animals or younger siblings. This is a sure sign of a bully. A good guy doesn't use his strength to hurt someone who can't defend themselves. Get this guy out of your life ASAP.
10. He bosses you around. "Don't do this." "Do that." A good guy asks nicely, says please, and doesn't expect obedience.
The sexier a guy is physically, the more likely you are to stick around past his expiration date. The best way a young woman can protect herself and stop wasting time on jerks is to think clearly and logically, look at the behavior, and not let her mind get too clouded by hormones. Easier said than done. But I do wish I'd had a list like this when I was a teen and even into my twenties, and I wish I'd run from the guys I describe above. Time is precious. Don't waste it on someone who doesn't deserve it.
I see plenty of girls who like their lacy tops and their denim, and they rock theirs even more than I do because they haven't had kids and they're young and gorgeous. ***
When I was younger, and I would dress for work, I would ignore the voice in my head that said, "Perhaps showing your bra strap while serving people ice cream is somehow NOT a good idea." This voice sounded like my mother, so naturally I disregarded it.
Mom always said I'd get the "wrong kind" of male attention if I showed too much skin. She wasn't wrong. I got plenty of gross come-ons, but I knew how to shoot down a guy who was less than respectful. I didn't realize that it wasn't the guys I should be worried about. It was the girls. And the women.
When I dressed in my skimpies at work, I was sending the signal that I was AVAILABLE. The signal wasn't wrong. I was available, looking for a boyfriend, and I didn't want to miss out on any opportunities. The problem was the CONTEXT: An ice cream shop where husbands and wives brought their little kids in for a cone.
Now that I'm married, I know that any man who has a pulse can't really help but look. And the older I get, I know that no matter how good I look for my age, I can't compete with a teenager. And so when my husband and I take the kids for ice cream and I see a hottie who would be prettier than me wearing a HASMAT suit, and she's showing off her lacy bra under her skimpy little top, and I see my husband pretending not to look, I hate her a little bit. Can't help it. I'm human.
And so I run through my memories, and understand all those times when a friend who thought herself unattractive clammed up whenever I wore a sexy top just to hang out, or when an older woman stared daggers at me for no discernible reason, or a male professor or teacher or boss was checking out my boobs when I was trying to impress him with my brain --and I get it. I finally get it.
It's about context. I was all good wearing those sexy lacies to a party, on a date with my boyfriend, or to a dance. There, all the girls are showing the goods. But the sexy lacies ought to have stayed in the drawer when I was in a context that wasn't all about attracting a man. Work. School. Hanging out with girlfriends, some of them sixes like me, some of them tens, some of them fours. And especially when I'm around married couples. When you're young and gorgeous, it's just considerate not to dress too sexy. Other women, the young and the old, will appreciate it, even if they don't say so.
***Even if you don't think you're gorgeous, wait until you're 40. You will realize that you were gorgeous when you were young. So don't miss it. Just admit that you're gorgeous and stop worrying about not looking like a model. Display Comments Add a Comment
Some people think that guns are really cool. I do not really see the appeal, but I'm willing to concede that most people who own guns are decent, responsible citizens who would never engage in such senseless violence. They're not the ones I'm worried about. I'm worried about the nut-jobs.
A dozen people are dead now because some total lunatic got his hands on four guns and decided to externalize his angst in a public place. One of the dead is a little six year old kid.
I am tired of this. I want stricter gun control. If it were up to me, and I wish it were, we as a nation would take every gun we own, melt them down, and use them to make useful things that don't kill people. How many more people have to die before our "leaders" stand up to the NRA and create some legislation that at least tries to keep guns away from the mad men? I for one am tired of our kids dying violent, painful, terrifying deaths, and I'm tired of our politicians doing nothing about it just because some people think that guns are cool.
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Please check out this interview with me on author Catherine Stine's awesome blog, Idea City:
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A: When I first started off as a writer in my twenties, and I would tell people that's what I wanted to do for a living, I almost always got some warning like, "Being a writer involves lots of rejection..." Few people were particularly encouraging of my dream. Now that I think about it, this might have been my first taste of what was to come. I didn't sell anything at all in my twenties. I wrote short stories and poems and sent them off to very unrealistic places like The New Yorker, or The Paris Review. I don't think I was so naive as to think I'd be accepted. I always received those rejection letters with a grim kind of complacence. Probably deep down I knew that what I was sending off wasn't actually good enough, and so the rejection came as no surprise. It's when I started really getting serious, and trying my hardest, that the rejection started to hurt.
I am a contributor to the awesome anthology Dear Teen Me, in which authors of YA books write letters to their younger selves.
Check out the book trailer to see some of the fabulous authors who contributed!
To pre-order your copy, follow the links:
This most recent shooting in Connecticut has our nation reeling with the unimaginable horror of it. How could anyone do that? How sick and evil can a person get? And why the hell did he have an assault rifle?
The pro-gun lobby in this country is holding us hostage. Until our leadership grows spine enough to stand up to them, killings like this will continue.
Nicholas Kristoff has written an excellent Op-Ed in the New York Times on the subject and puts forward some sobering statistics: "Children ages 5 to 14 in America are 13 times as likely to be murdered with guns as children in other industrialized countries, according to David Hemenway, a public health specialist at Harvard who has written an excellent book on gun violence." For the full article, click here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/16/opinion/sunday/kristof-do-we-have-the-courage-to-stop-this.html?smid=fb-share
Kristoff goes on to give some impressive examples of how other governments have curbed gun violence with some sensible laws:
"Other countries offer a road map. In Australia in 1996, a mass killing of 35 people galvanized the nation’s conservative prime minister to ban certain rapid-fire long guns. The “national firearms agreement,” as it was known, led to the buyback of 650,000 guns and to tighter rules for licensing and safe storage of those remaining in public hands.
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