Sunday, March 21, 2010

Can we talk about fat?

I know, I know.  Tsk-tsk-tsk and a big "no-no", right?  I'm with you - I hate the "F" word.  It's just horrible - dismissive and demeaning, literally and figuratively weighted down with the worst of the worst negative assumptions and connotations.  I know we're not supposed to say some of the things you're going to read here, but I want to be honest and I figure that sometimes even the right words need to sound wrong.

"She really doesn't need that dessert." ... "How did she let herself get that big?" ... "She shouldn't be wearing that dress." ... "Well at least I'm smaller than her." ... 

Sucks doesn't it?  If we're not thinking it about ourselves, we're thinking it about each other.  Not all of us, and not all the time, but every so often, perhaps when we've had a particularly stressful day or are lacking that sense of emotional security in our own lives, we lash out and turn a harsh and judgmental eye on our fellow woman, then seeing our own reflection we rip ourselves to shreds.

I'm guilty.  I saw a picture of the actress Mischa Barton the other day, looking fuller in the hips, thighs, and face than she did back in the days of "The O.C.", and I think I actually mouthed "wow" as I was standing there in the check-out line.  I looked down at my own thighs (because we all know the absolute best way to appraise the relative size of one's thighs is to look at them from the top down) and raised my eyebrows a bit as I thought, "Well, if Mischa's my size now then I guess it's ok to be me."

Yeah.  It was beyond flame-worthy.  I should have had my rights to womanhood yanked right then and there.  How absurd and out of my mind was I to a) have even the slightest disparaging thought about an actress who used to be pin-thin and now actually has a soft, feminine, womanly figure, b) compare my own size and shape, from a distorted point of view I might add, to hers, and c) to actual use another woman's figure as a barometer for my own acceptance of myself??  It's insane.  And unacceptable.  I feel sick even retelling it to you.

Don't we all wish the body image struggle would just go away?  But it doesn't!  It never even wanes - and why is that?  We hate it so much, yet we keep the devil around?  Seriously readers - what's the breaking point on that glass ceiling?

And then there's the conversation about personal standards.  I can only speak to mine, so here we go... Right now, I am about as unsatisfied with my body as I've ever been.  And yes, I feel fat.  I'm carrying extra weight thanks to my own self-destructive, primarily impulsive decision to give up on my gluten-free diet which has wrought havoc on my digestive, nervous, muscular, and reproductive systems.  Gobbling up gluten proteins that my body cannot digest has lead to a back up in digestion of other key nutrients, resulting in a damn near-constant feeling of hunger and inability to feel full.  Muscle fatigue is becoming more common and longer lasting, and is also occasionally accompanied by muscle spasms.  I had been migraine-free for several months and in the past few weeks I've had two that put me out for the night and most of the following day.  And not that you want to know, but my friendly lady cycle has gone and lost its damn mind.

The key thing, however, is the weight gain - and I'm sorry for checking off all my celiac symptoms for you, it's just that one does not seem to come without the other - I've gained weight without even remotely consistent exercise, so it's all just sort of settled around my mid section in the most unflattering, bulgy paunch since Winnie dipped into the honey pot.  My backside, though not entirely hopeless, has lost some shape (or gained some shape, depending), and no matter how much I yanked my jeans up by the belt loops, I could not avoid a muffin-top while getting dressed this morning.

Luckily for me (more sarcasm) I've been heavy before, so I know how to dress around this.  But that's hardly the point.  Because I started the morning a bit disgusted and wholly frustrated with what my body has become, I spent the rest of the day looking for reassurance in others, and some might argue, also at their expense.  Maybe at my expense too.  I know what my body could, and would be if I followed the diet that I know is best for my health, and that's what makes me look at myself in the mirror and say, "Unacceptable." If I was eating properly I would be better able to manager both my hunger and my portions, would subsequently not be experiencing this draining fatigue or migraines, and would be back in the gym like I used to be, pissing people off camping on a treadmill for 45 minutes, working the circuit, and punching the nuggets out of a standing bag in kick boxing.

There are some women my size and larger who I consider to have flawless figures; whose weight appears natural, healthy, and intended.  I don't know what was going through my mind that made me judge so harshly, and instantly.  As wrong as it is, both to think and to admit, knowing that I could look better gives way to the preposterous notion that I also know the anatomy and physiology of every other woman and I think to myself, they could look better too.   I found that picture of Mischa Barton again this evening and looking at her now, at the end of my night, when I'm in my forgiving yoga pants and husband's Navy t-shirt, I think she looks lovely.  Comfortable and more grown up even - ironic, considering that's also how I feel right now, as opposed to the mental case I was this morning.  But I definitely judged her first and I hate that.  It's as though Hollywood presented her as our standard of what a skinny girl should be - she went from actress to accuracy test and seeing her today, however many pounds heavier, broke my mental odometer.

I have been thinking about this post since the afternoon and my thoughts have gone in a dozen different directions.  I don't have any grand, concluding ideas, but I would like to hear what you have to say - and feel free to say it all.  Where are you with the weight issue?  How do you check your judgment and cultivate acceptance, tolerance, open-mindedness, and respect?  I admittedly need your help on this one.  I suppose it stands to reason that seeking to improve myself will also improve my outlook on the world and thus lessen my contribution to the woman-on-woman hate crime, but that seems so self-serving and I'm looking for more than that.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

"Who's the big winner here tonight at the casino?"

Ashley, that's who!  Ashley's the big winner!  Ashley wins!

(If you haven't caught the Swingers reference yet, that's ok, we're still getting to know each other) had a thing for lucky #2 today, so the lovely auburn-haired Ashley of The Thing About Daisies... is the winner of my very first giveaway!

Ashley will be the recipient of this sexy-hot bracelet from Etsy Artisan Tawniwold....

 well as some excellent beauty schwag I scored at Ulta just the other day.  I promise a big send-off picture before I mail it all out in a few days.

Congrats Ashley!  I love reading your blog and am glad to see you'll get some enjoyment from mine too!

This cocktail's for you...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Enough with the whining

Time to do something about this house.

One of the blogs I read daily is Fetching Fashions with the adorable Justine.  She's a Dallasinian and an aspiring psychologist who recently outlined the stages of grief and loss here.  To echo her sentiments, there is no disrespect intended in this post, but I think we women have all experienced transitions in life where internal desires and outside forces don't match up and you find yourself desperately seeking those things which used to be dependable and familiar.  It may not equal, but it certainly does echo the feelings of helplessness and despair that the loss of a loved one can bring, especially when you think of the loved one as the comfortable home you used to share.

I've gone through all of the stages of grief when it comes to the state of things in our home.  Denial that it was as unorganized and unmanageable as it felt.  Anger at myself, my husband, the dogs.. for daring to leave signs of our existence here, there, and everywhere.  I've definitely bargained.  I can check Facebook, blog, search for things on Ebay, call my friend, and go out to dinner with Mike tonight, IF I get up tomorrow, down a pot of coffee, and buzz through the house cleaning like a madwoman until everything is DONE.  This never happened, or at least not to a satisfying degree.

It started to affect my relationship with my husband, which you can read about here.  Knowing that I was breaking my promises and letting him down lead pretty quickly to depression. Depression is like quicksand to motivation, and I went into a bit of a survival mode, doing only what I absolutely had to do in order to function, reserving my energies for school.

Now, I think what I'm beginning to experience is acceptance.  I know that New Year's tends to be the popular time for resolutions and renewals, but I find that I am much more apt to reset my resolve in the spring, when the whole of Earth is coming up for fresh air.  Sorry, but trying to convince me that the dead of winter is a good time to take up spinning and give up comfort foods just ain't gonna happen.  But!  Show me blue skies and hint at summer vacation, and I can see the logic behind two-a-days at the gym, cutting carbs, and downing spinach shakes dusted with protein powder. Likewise, I'm realizing that there are definite behaviors that have gotten me to this point, and if I want to turn things around (which I do) then I need to wake up and make some changes.

It's very easy to forget that with adulthood, and even more so with marriage, comes a baseline of acceptable behavior.  You cannot, for instance, decide to leave your job, go to school full time, and forget that you still have a household to maintain and a marriage to support.  You cannot adopt a student's schedule and a student's mindset.  It will be harder than it was when you were 20.  It will take more effort for less thanks.

Thank God I can blog about it. :)

So that's my loose plan.  I'm going to go through this house, bit by bit, and start to put things right.  I'm not going to use this forum for support, but rather for accountability.  Interspersed with whatever other inspirations I decide to write about will be the occasional post on my progress, the challenges I've tackled, what worked and what didn't, failures and victories.  At the end, hopefully what we'll have are a clean and organized home, balanced life, and a healed and happier marriage.

Here comes Spring.

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PS!  Don't forget about the giveaway!  You can enter up until Tuesday night, right up to the stroke of midnight, so if you're looking for some new spring schwag take a peek and leave your info accordingly.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

And then, a Giveaway!

In what appears to be the emerging tradition with this blog, I will now attempt to balance the heavier moments in life with a bit of lightness and fun.  Keep Calm and Carry On, yes?  Yes.

So, a few weeks ago I posted a little splurt about having reached 28 followers in the month with 28 days in the year I will turn 28.  That last bit being on May 19th if you fancy yourself a gift-giver, whee! I started this blog as a personal dare, never thought it would become anything of substance, and now here I am having personal conversations and revealing intimate details like a regular old bar stool lush.

Well here's another detail, not so intimate perhaps, but a reliable characteristic of Kristen all the same...

I freaking luuuuuurve repurposed jewelry.  LURVE IT.  ("Love" it if this is my Aunt Matilde reading, or anyone else who kinda hates super casual internet forum vernacular.  Um, like I used to, yeah ok...)

I am lucky enough to live between several amazing cities where vintage shops run rampant.  Many moons ago, when my fellow high school seniors were skipping class and getting poo-faced in the running back's hot tub, I was spending my skip day exploring a relatively new concept to my 90's babydoll-inspired closet - shopping the vintage on M Street in Washington, DC.  I had a high schooler's budget, but still managed to make what I consider one of the best fashion investments of my young life - a 1930's art deco Owl Pendant, repurposed into a brooch.  I pinned it to my black Gap t-shirt and it took my early 2000's minimalist ensemble to a whole new place. The next day, I made the mistake of wearing it to school and earned myself the nickname "Hooters", which I bore proudly.  Silly children, wouldn't know what's good for 'em...

I don't know what it is exactly, but I would take a slightly tarnished, reclaimed vintage necklace over a mass-produced piece from Tiffany & Co. any day.  It might be the history, or the idea of something not just representing timelessness but actually being so..  not sure.  It's definitely what drives my love of Etsy, so with that in mind let's get to the actual giveaway for crying out loud.
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This seller actually found me and I'm so glad she did.  Her pieces are everything I love - vintage bits, bold statements, eclectic pairings.  A little bit rocker edge with lots of confident femininity.

Tawni of Tawniwold enthusiastically agreed to be a part of this mini-milestone giveaway by graciously offering one of her pieces, selected by moi, and by also agreeing to a little "Getting to Know You" Q&A.  So without further adieu, allow me to introduce you to Tawni...

How long have you been designing/creating jewelry?

Well, lets see... I suppose I started when I got to college. I couldn't afford the jewelry I saw in magazines and on runways so I began taking vintage pieces of my own and just sort of, well, "experimenting." Being broke can force you to be quite creative and I guess i've just dabbled in it ever since, though I never thought to sell any of my pieces until recently. 

Do you have a design background?

No, I actually went to school for Literature! I took a few painting classes while I was in college... Does that count? I don't think it counts. [I think it counts] 

Where do you find your inspiration?

My boyfriend recently returned home from Russia and suddenly I want to wear only dresses with lace detail and pair them with silly little girly shoes that I can't walk in... I think the newer pieces are a result of that, feeling pretty and in love. I know, I know, It sounds really lame but honestly, my mood has everything to do with how the jewelry turns out! 

What materials do you like to work with?

Ooooo, I'm a sucker for organic shapes. Quartz crystal and gemstone, not perfectly cut...I love 'em! It can be harder to find at times, at least when you want a really organic looking chunk of amethyst or citrine that still sparkles, but completely worth the hunt! I've also recently fallen in love with freshwater seed pearls, stick pearls, and anything vintage art deco! 

What has been your favorite/closest to your heart piece so far?

It's a tie between my "Dripping Chain Nested Crystal Bracelet" and my "24k Gold Florite Pendant and Freshwater Pearl 'Lucky' Necklace." The first because it was one of my first pieces I designed and it sold to a really lovely lady. To state the VERY obvious, It's just so nice when someone likes a piece you've made, when they find it just as special as you do!! The second listed is a favorite because you can wear it every day of your life, dress it up or down, wear it even on your wedding day! Pieces like that become a bit more special than others, at least I think so! I love jewelry that I want and can wear every day! 

Who are your style icons?

Not a very creative or "different" answer but hands down, Audrey Hepburn. 

How would you describe your personal style?

I like classic pieces with a bit of a twist or pieces I can dress up or down. I used to wear some really crazy clothing but now I really do enjoy pieces I know will stay in style or I can easily alter to fit a trend, pieces that I know I will get my money's worth out of! I really do love lace, anything 50's/60's, and really comfy cardigans. OH! And I have this things for equestrian boots. I showed horses when I was younger so I've ALWAYS had a thing for them... I wear dressage boots until the soles bust out, I just love them, they dress up anything and everything! Everyone needs a good pair of dressage boots but, if you're like me and wear them as much as I do, find 'em at a thrift store or on Etsy!!! 

What jewelry trends do you love? or not love?

I love that more organic, rough looking stones are in style. I also loved seeing so many sparkling rhinestone's around everyone's necks this holiday season! It reminded me of Holly Golightly and her friends from Breakfast at Tiffany's. I also love seeing a designer take something really classic, an estate piece, and doing something new, something clever to it, dressing it up with lots of chain or strands of pearls, making those classic pieces really modern, it's always so lovely. Fenton/Dana Lorenz does that really well. Not only classic pieces but she dresses up stones in a really creative way, too! As far as trends I don't love, ehhh, I don't know, I pretty much love them all! 

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Yup, she's pretty awesome, and while it sounds like I could have written these interview answers myself (majored in Literature, broke-inspired creativity, mood dependent on outcome of jewelry, ha!), this was all Tawni.  And here's the piece I selected for one of you lucky readers to call your own...

Rhinestone and Chain I.D. Bracelet with crystal clear rhinestones, silver chains, and a gold plated vintage I.D.bracelet that reads "Progressive Club" on its backside.  Lurve.

Maybe it was an East Coast thing, but I.D. bracelets were the middle and early high school version of slap bracelets in my day and I am here to testify that I owned several varieties.  I loved them then, I love them now.  I love them embellished with rhinestones and silver chains that make them wearable with any outfit, any season, any day.  All hail the 90's, Veruca Salt, taking back the night, NOW, Clueless and all the plaid miniskirts that followed.  All hail the ladies, all 28 (now 31!) of you, that have srrrsly brightened my days.

There will also be a few other springy items in the loot.  It's 50+ something degrees here in Baltimore today and it feels like heaven.  As soon as this is posted I'm off to Sephora, Ulta, and a few other favorite spots to see what I can find for my interwebs friends.

The Rules!

1. Since this was inspired by the followers, you need to be an actual follower.  This is not a plug to try and up my numbers by any means, I just think it would be in bad form to do a giveaway saluting followers and reward someone who's not.  I love you all, official follower or not, but I think you get what I'm saying.

2. Leave a comment below with your first name, email address, and favorite 90's fashion trend.  Or if the 90's weren't really your time, any other decade will do.  Let's relive the glory days.

3. One entry per lady friend please.

4. I will officially batten down the hatches next Tuesday, March 16, at 11:59 and 27 seconds (ha) Eastern Standard Time, and announce the randomly-chosen winner Wednesday, March 17.

5. I feel like an even number of rules is bad luck, so... Smile at a stranger today!  This one is on the honor code.  Mmk?  :-)

And that's it!  First Giveaway has officially commenced!  Good luck, and make sure you visit Tawni's Etsy Shop, Tawniwold.  See ya at the Galleria!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

First, a pause.

Hello friends.  It's been a while.

I think I have something like fifteen or sixteen posts to my awfulsweetness name and all of it smattered over a short period between October something-th and now.  It's hardly worth a moment's contemplation compared to some blogs with far more dedicated writers who I have come to greatly admire.  To anyone (um, like me circa late September 2009) who flippantly assumes that they can just throw on some irreverent fashion, plop down in front of their laptop with a vodka martini, and bang out the next single gal's guide to the big city... go ahead.  Try it.

This writing for an unknown audience business is hard.  And even more so when you try to, ahem, keep it real.

I like you guys.  I like knowing that I can get out some feelings at three in the morning while Roseanne is on and maybe check back in at noon between classes and find that somebody, somewhere can relate.  I like that you comment and email.  I like that you're women all leading these topsy-turvy lives with careers and great shoes, husbands and children, dogs, ferrets, and even one chinchilla.  In my mind, I am sure that each of you is living at least one of my shoulda-woulda regrets (ie: law school, international humanitarian outreach, maintaining a clean and orderly house) and for some odd reason that makes them not like regrets at all. I'm impressed with you simply by virtue of being a part of this shared community.  And I've missed you all a little bit, I'm not ashamed to say.

So with that, I have something to share and it's part of the reason why I've been unexpectedly absent for a while.

No, I'm not pregnant.
We are not moving.
I did not graduate or get a new job.

In fact, this news isn't even my news at all.  My good friend's husband just recently died at the age of thirty two.  32.

My own husband is 34, I say as I shake my head at the unfathomable thought...

I met Carla in school this past summer.  We got lost together on campus looking for the security office.  We vowed not to let the other gain weight this year.  At last count we were both up seven pounds.  Her husband Wes worked in the same industry as my husband.  Two Mondays ago we were making plans to get the boys together.  They have a two year old daughter and looking at pictures you can see nothing in that man's eyes to suggest that he did not have every last intention of someday walking that beautiful little strawberry blonde down the aisle.

Last Sunday morning, Wes had a massive heart attack.  He was an accomplished gymnast during his younger years, handsome and fit to the day.  Carla woke up and got their daughter situated.  She came back in to the room and noticed that Wes' breathing sounded funny.  She put her hand to his head and he felt cold.  The digital thermometer read eighty-six.  Wes was unresponsive and Carla called 911.  Carla's sister had spent the night, and not wanting her daughter to hear or see the ambulance, Carla yelled for her to take the little one to McDonald's.  That was the first thing to make me cry.

Carla had to do chest compressions on her husband for what she estimated to be about seven or eight minutes before the paramedics arrived.

Sit completely still for just one minute, in silence, and see how long that feels.  Now multiply that times seven and imagine, for that entire time, that you are, quite literally, holding your husband's life and breath in your hands.  Slamming away on his chest, hoping and praying that blood is reaching his brain.  The man you fell in love with, married, the father of your child, walker of the dog in the rain, carrier of the heaviest groceries, maker of the jokes when you're sad.

By Monday afternoon, the doctors told Carla that Wes had no brain function, no activity.  He was an organ donor and according to Carla this was something that was very close to his heart.  She actually said that... close to his heart.  They waited to take him off life support until his brother had arrived from New York.  Wes was pronounced at 12:30am Tuesday morning.

I haven't known Carla long, but we all have those people in our lives who don't require years of awkward growth spurts to reveal how truly special they are.  She is someone who could have been in my life all along.  I wish I knew more of her stories, had been there for her baby shower, known her even before she met Wes. She is a good soul.

The viewing was Friday and the funeral Saturday morning.  I overheard so many memories, saw so many smiles as family and friends looked over the countless photos framed and taped over every surface in the room.  I know I missed out by not having met Wes.

This is a site put together by family and friends.  The letters to their daughter Ava are lovely.

I would write about priorities, getting over one's self and the like, but that really hasn't been the effect.  The past several days have just been overwhelmingly sad, in part because having priorities won't keep your husband's heart from stopping at an age not even half his anticipated life expectancy and that is a bitch you can't shut up.  I've been reaching over periodically throughout the night, making sure Mike is there and breathing.  I'm still seething with rage due to his leaving the frying pan to rust in the brand new sink, but that aside we have plans yet unrealized, new mortgages still to pay.  He promised to be here with me, to be the person I brush my teeth with at night - bitterly of course, as we are still suffering with only one sink between us.  If he left me here to face the world alone.  Well friends, I have a confession.  That is something I don't know that I could do.

When I married him I chose not to remain an I.  That was a forever choice.  The part of me that was shunting dependency and future stakes away from my one-bedroom apartment heart was now permanently filled, patent, and flowing.  Now that I have learned to breathe the air, I could not live without it.

Dramatic?  Maybe.  But ladies, this is life.  LIFE.  Us chosen few here on Earth.

So here's to doing it.  And to Wes, may we all be blessed to be a part of someone else's happiness, for however long we're given.