Aside

Day One: Austin, I Love(d) You

I’ve slacked on the whole writing challenge. This post will serve as the first one; although it’s not really a prompt from the “642 Things to Write” journal. Onwards, the “prompt” is below!

A few years ago I co-opted a few lines from LCD Soundsystem’s “New York, I Love You” for my Facebook status. It went something like this: “Austin you’re bringing me down…but you’re still the one place where I’d happily drown.”

I can officially say that I’ve grown disillusioned with Austin. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many great things about the city; there’s a reason why it attracts so many people from in and out of state. However, I’ve realized that it’s not the place where I am supposed to be. I want so much more than working two part time jobs just to scrape by and pay rent and bills each month.

The Kubler-Ross model breaks down grief into five distinct stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Now, I’m not sure if I’m grieving at the thought of leaving Austin but I still feel that the stages apply. If I really think about it and am honest with myself I’ve been in denial for pretty much the entire time I’ve spent in Austin. I mean deep down I always knew that Austin wasn’t where I was supposed to be; but stubborness tempered that knowledge; overshadowed it.

Anger was one of the stages I came back to again and again. Anger at the situation I was in; hustling for jobs, spending days upon days looking for jobs, settling for jobs that I immediately hated. Anger at not getting the full time position at the museum that would have, in my mind, solved all my problems.

It was that last burst of anger that finally melted (devolved?) into bargaining and depression. Even as I sat with my supervisor crying (so lame) and listening to her as she tried to make me feel better my mind was racing: “I liked this job and the people so maybe I could just get another part time job, I could sacrifice my evenings to work retail, heck maybe I could even take up tutoring and babysitting again.” Man, I was bargaining with myself like crazy during that talk.

I realized that, truthfully, I couldn’t bargain my way out of it and the next stage sucked. I spent the next day; a Saturday, curled up in my bed. The only thing that got me moving was the fact that I was leaving to Costa Rica on the following Monday.

Honestly, that trip saved me. It limited my depressive, woe-is-me stage to a good two days. It also gave me plenty of time to seriously reflect on what I really wanted; or more importantly what I knew I didn’t want. That brings me to the final stage: acceptance.

I accept the fact that what I want at this point and juncture in my life is probably not in Austin. I accept the fact two part-time jobs will not cut it. I accept the fact that I failed in Austin. I accept the fact that come August I will no longer be living in Austin. I accept the fact that in order to move forward I have to leave behind friends, a fulfilling and challenging gig as a volunteer ESL teacher, running clubs, and a great place to work.

This acceptance has been made easier by the fact that, to some extent, I’ve fallen out of love with the city. It frustrates me that for a many people living in Austinis only a reality reached (rather precariously) by hustling and having several jobs and living with several roommates. I hate that the cost of living is so high that living in the city proper is inaccessible to many: teachers, life-long Austinites, and some families with two full-time incomes. I hate that there hasn’t been a more serious discussion in regards to controlling the rise of rents, making housing affordable, addressing the huge increase in property taxes, in having a working and sensible form of public transportation, and in keeping the cultural and historical integrity of the city.

A small part of me doesn’t want to give up just yet. That small part of me is still applying to jobs in the hopes that at the last minute something will come along and keep me in the city. But, that small part of me is tempered by the larger realization that what I crave is not in Austin; at least not right now.

 

Running Woes

Five months into my “hardcore” running phase I’ve sort of hit a road block. My left leg has been nagging at me ever since the now infamous 5k-half marathon-10k triple header. It usually feels like a dull bruise on the upper part of my lower leg; right below the knee. Now, I have no knowledge on the muscles of the body or body parts but I’m almost 80% sure that the weird feeling is too high up to be shin splints.

Yesterday I went for a run before core class (the perks of getting off of work early). In the past the weird, dull ache will slowly disappear after a few minutes; although I’m not sure its its because of the warm-up or psychological cues my brain sends. Yesterday was different. It got worse and the weird (I’m not good at explaining how this feels) pain slowly evolved into my entire leg feeling weak; like it was going to give out on me. When I tried to explain it to my brother (rather unsuccessfully) I mentioned something about it feeling like I really needed to crack some bones in my leg to release the pressure; sort of how you might crack your knuckles.

The run was uncomfortable and defeating. I know the defeating aspect came from my brain racing nonstop about what a shit run it was, how slow I was going, and how potentially devastating whatever this is could be. I walked, hobbled, and super light jogged all the way back to my car. I hope that whatever this is can be remedied quickly and painlessly (also cheaply since, hello, I’m not insured).

The internet, until now, has failed me; but then again my searches have been super vague since I don’t know how to exactly describe the ache. This morning I went to a yoga class hoping that some deep stretching and exercise variety would help. Tonight I’ll stop by Rogue early to see if Dr. Tuggle has some insight; and hopefully I’ll be able to run pain free tonight. I’ll keep you posted. Either way, I’m super worried about the 5k I’m running on Saturday. I’m definitely looking more forward to the fun girl’s night afterwards!

I Am Not Yummy

I recently had a conversation with an acquaintance regarding our views on relationships. At some point he mentioned that although he usually had a penchant for “Latina chicas” he had recently become more attracted to Asian women. To put it in his words, he found them to be…yummy. I found this correlation to be a bit strange and awkward but attributed his choice of words to his social awkwardness.

I’ll admit I sort of called him out on it but also laughed it off. However, the more I thought about it the more it began to bother me. I think that my uneasiness with the adjective “yummy” when talking about the opposite sex stems from two things. First, it reinforces this unhealthy relationship that American’s have with food. Secondly, it objectifies women (and men).

We like to tie food to different aspects of society. For example, Revlon has a line of lip butters that associate food items (mostly sweet) with different shades. Feeling fiesty? You’ll probably want to wear a loud shade like lollipop or candy apple. Feeling more demure? Maybe try creme brulee, cupcake, or sugar frosting.

Food references are also found in English language cliches. You might say that the test you aced was “a piece of cake”. A nice, charming individual is seen to be “as sweet as pie”. If someone tells you something that you’re skeptical about you might take it “with a grain of salt”. We go over a cliche each week in the ESL class that I help out with. The students find it baffling, amusing, and absurd that we incorporate so many “foodisms” into the language. I mean, you don’t have many Spanish language counterparts to these English foodisms*. Personally, I’ve never heard someone say, “Oh, her temper is as spicy as menudo.”

The American people’s penchant to use food words as descriptors, freely reflects the unhealthy relationship we have with food [A weighty topic for another post but basically: Food is for nutrition and survival NOT for overindulgence and gluttony]. This is reflected in the English language; cliches and such and in how freely non-food items–in this case women–are associated with food descriptors.

However, I think the aspect of this “women are yummy” idea that is really unsettling is the way it casually and in a largely unassuming way objectifies women. The argument has been made for the sexualization of food but what about the other way; the food-ization of the sexes? [Yes, I made up a word. Deal with it].  To be fair, there are the more innocuous food related nicknames: honey, sweetie pie, pumpkin which are used for significant others, kids, and strangers alike. “Yummy”, on the other hand, is different. If something is yummy one assumes that it is delicious; to the point of enticing one to devour it.

All blatantly sexual connotations that can be associated with the word yummy aside, the word still conveys an unsettling sense of objectification. To describe a woman as yummy disregards her other aspects: her intelligence, her sense of humor, her physical appearance and instead focuses on her relationship to food; something that, once consumed, is no longer needed. It has a misogynistic connotation to it.

I asked a couple of friends their thoughts on the use of “yummy” to describe women and, for the most part, they had a negative reaction. One deemed being called “yummy” as disgusting. Another friend’s visceral reaction was, “[He] sounds like [a] Hannibal Lecter who eats Asian women”. I hadn’t thought about it from the creepy, almost literal angle. My friend Rebecca added that it was gross considering the recent conviction of a NYPD officer who plotted to kidnap, kill, and eat women.

So, I think that we should move away from using the adjective “yummy” when talking about each other. There are so many more appropriate, descriptive, and flattering words that one can use. For example, I’m guilty of once saying that my ex-boyfriend’s facial hair was yummy. But, really, how can facial hair be yummy? Sexy, rakish, alluring; yes, but never yummy.  Keep using yummy at the risk of seeming like a Hannibal Lecter (or his female equivalent).

*that I’m aware of.

SOC 2: Yes, lets continue to push the marriage = happy ending myth.

A couple of disclaimers.

#1: I encourage you to read this article before reading this SOC. #1.1: I hope that the article is a joke.

#2: I have a few friends that are married that are pretty amazing. Clearly, what I write here is my opinion and doesn’t reflect upon aforementioned amazing friends.

#3: This is a Stream of Conscious post.

Okay.

If you didn’t click on the link here’s the premise: the salon.com article from January 15, 2013 by Katie McDonough compiles advice from around the web on how to nab the guy of your dreams who just happens to be “floating around the internet”.

I read “Amy Webb lived every red-blooded woman’s nightmare when, at 30, she still wasn’t married” and cringed. My immediate reaction was to think “this has to be some kind of joke” , look at the article’s tags, and check other articles written by the author. I felt my stomach turn as I realized that this article was probably not a joke but an attempt at serious (hard-hitting?) journalism.

I’m not going to sit here and lie. Yeah, sometimes the fear of never having a significant other, married or otherwise, does creep up. And sure, I admit that sometimes that fear is intensely stifiling and horrific. However, i don’t define myself and my daily actions solely on this quest to mitigate the “nightmare” of never getting married. Conversely, who exactly deems this solitary life as a nightmare? I find it horrifying that women such as Amy Webb continue to saddle 21st century women with the archaic idea that becoming a spinster with cats (as the video at the end of the Salon article highlights) is a sad, horrible existence. The parenthetical consolation that Webb’s story has a happy ending since she gets married is just…absurd, demeaning, and sad.

Continuing with the article: Webb comes up with an ingenious way to decode, as it were, what men like and don’t like in women. Men, it appears, are not attracted to curly hair, do not appreciate a sense of humor in dates, and are put off when they feel their manhood is threatened. [Aside: according to the article I’m doomed] Women can threaten a date–and potential husband–by having a better paying job, a more complex job description, or by having “scary hobbies” like karate. Really. Really?! Basically, what Webb and McDonough are essentially saying is that women who are interested in finding a man online would be wise to conform to a set rule of standards men have. To, sadly, change who they are if they want to be successful with the whole internet dating thing. Especially curly haired women that practice taekwando, own a thriving business, and can think for themselves. Ugh.

Other advice so graciously compiled by McDonough includes: being more open to taking small gestures–like a man sneezing (!) on you as flirting, wisely being less internet available (read: don’t join every dating site) to reinforce what a “precious, limited commodity (!) you are”, and not dating guys like Jacob from this article.  [Aside: its an interesting read and Jacob is a douche]

This is getting ridiculously long and borderline ranty (or maybe its already fallen off the edge) so just a few more things. Out of curiosity I looked up the definition of “spinster”. According to  Miriam Webster a spinster is an unmarried woman, especially one past the common age of marrying. I think what this SOC all comes down to is that, in the end, women need to stop letting others, regardless of sex, define them. After all, who is in charge of allocating “the common age of marrying”? Why should there even be a common mean age? Why should women let themselves be lumped into “happy endings” and “sad spinster-y” endings complete with cats?

I could write and write about this but for the sake of brevity (HA!) I’ll end it with this: I’m not trying to be completely gung ho “Girrrl Power” (although i do believe in female empowerment). I’m just trying to advocate common sense, especially when other women write this sort of, I’m sorry, crap.

2012. The Year I…

I lived in three different cities
for about four months each
and finally ended up in Austin.

Fell in love (hopelessly)
Was dumped.
Did the dumping (not the same relationship, obvs)

Became an aunt
to Jemenah Jade
Learned the Hot Dog Song.

Welcomed a second generation
of cousins; two decades younger
Saw a prayer answered and patience rewarded.

Made (several) mistakes
learned to live with them
Well, maybe still working on that.

Found myself working for the government
Office of the Governor, Legislative Council
Surprising, but enjoying the ride

Had a creative lull
A spark and a first (small) step
registered an email address

Reconnected with old friends
made some rad new ones
Sometime felt (self) exiled from AL

Was hit with being an adult
pesky student loans
someone want to pay them for me?

First full year I wasn’t in school
Adrift? Oh yeah
But also didn’t have the urge to go back (yet)

Drifted away from yoga
slowly returned
felt peace and no judgment.

Learned to read again
For pleasure, I mean
Back to history, inevitably.