Day Three: Getting It Off My Chest

Disclaimer One: This is not a prompt I randomly chose. In fact, this may not even be an actual prompt in the book. It’s more of a therapeutic writing session.

Disclaimer Two: I’m not using names and I’ve let the person I’m writing this to know what I’m doing. As such, I will take whatever wrath, hate, friendship implosion comes my way.

Prompt: Something I need to get off my chest

It was cute for a while but now, more often than not, your blase “it’s whatevs” is seriously starting to irk me. I feel that, in a point in my life where I’m trying to figure shit out, your “it’s whatevs” just magnifies your apathy towards just about everything. Not that there’s really anything wrong with being content with an easy, okay paying job. It’s just that is not where I am right now.

I’m in a moment of flux. I’m figuring out what I want to do both in the immediate and more distant future. I’m looking to move away from barely surviving to establishing myself and maybe even setting down some roots in the next 5-10 years by buying a house (daunting, even to type!). Basically, I’m done with living solely in the moment and I’m looking towards the future.

Look, I’m not saying that you aren’t doing that (the whole, looking towards the future thing) because you might be. I’m not even saying that you really conform to the whole “it’s whatevs” attitude; maybe its just a facade. Either way it’s just not who I am at the moment and the fact that it comes up almost every time we talk is infuriating and confusing. Sometimes I just want to scream when you say those two words; sort of like how Andi did every time Juan Pablo said, “it’s okay.”

Another thing that’s been bugging me with this whole “whatever” attitude; and, if I may, a piece of advice for your future. Don’t ever respond to a girl (no matter how silly, or annoying) pouring her confused heart out by saying basically do whatever you want, it’s whatevs. I mean, I know that the things I told you while I was in Costa Rica were stupid; I acknowledge that. But I was telling you so you could reaffirm the fact that whatever I was thinking/feeling was something I needed to get away from. A really vague you do you reaction just doesn’t cut it.

If you’re reading this you may feel like I’m throwing you under the bus and am calling you out. I promise I’m really not. I just had to get this off my chest. It’s sort of been gnawing at me and I just needed to let it out without getting an apathetic response. If this ends up causing some weird rift in our friendship, I’m sorry. Hell, maybe, in some unforeseeable future I’ll take your “it’s whatevs” for granted; just not right now.

 

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.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

“Respect your body”
“Be mindful of the present”
“Walk your ego and self consciousness out of the room. Your ego will get you hurt and your self-consciousness will bring you down”
“Practice in a way that honors your body”
“Empty your mind of all the chatter, all the self-depreciating nonsense”

I’ve heard all of this advice in yoga classes; here in Austin, in Birmingham, even in Odessa where the yoga “culture” is woefully non-existent. However, all of this advice never really clicked. Until today.

You see, I’m pretty sure that after moving back to Odessa I sort of had this existentialist crisis coupled with a mini-depressive episode. Suffice it to say I was not in a good head space. I was frustrated by my lack of direction and at the fact that I had to move back to Odessa. My “inner turmoil” (am I being a little too dramatic? Maybe) affected me outwardly. I began to eat crap and stopped almost all physical activity. This was pretty major since I would workout 5 days a week for about two hours at a time.

I moved back to Austin (I lived here as an undergrad at UT) all gung ho about Working! Out! and Eating! Healthy! But, I didn’t. Sure, I tried to make healthier decisions when eating out and attempted to make healthier fare at home. And yeah, I did visit a few gyms and ventured out on a few walks around my (super hilly) neighbourhood. However, it wasn’t enough and I didn’t consistently follow through.

Why? I think at the core of it all was that trying to restart all the habits I had gotten used to in Birmingham reinforced just how far I had backslid. It magnified my failure. Basically, not a healthy head space. I would beat myself up for not being able to jog 3 miles like I used to.

Until today…well technically yesterday. After a few weeks of “winter-ish” weather Austin thawed out to a nice, spring-like 72. I decided to go for a walk/jog. And yeah, I was huffing and puffing after a while. And absolutely my brain went into that “fail” “you suck” “what a fucking disgrace” place. The mental breakdown.

Somewhere along Far West, closer to Mesa it finally, FINALLY clicked. This, this huffing and puffing walking-more-than-jogging, is where my body is at this moment. It’s not where I’m going to stay, stagnated. This moment is not an opportunity to beat myself up but to learn. A moment not to focus on how crappy I may feel but as a sort of benchmark of how much better I will feel as I continue to reintegrate better habits.

I’m not going to lie, this realization sort of made me tear up. It also made me, I’m pretty sure, stronger and more committed to myself and my body. In the end its not about conforming to fit some society sanctioned “norm”. It’s not about trying to fit into that teeny-weeny polka dot bikini. It’s not about trying to expand a social circle, or about trying to attract a lumberjack-y bearded semi-hipster.

It’s about respect and acceptance. Respect for where you are at this particular moment. Respect for the body that you have. Respect for the goals you set for yourself. Acceptance that bumps in the road will occur. Acceptance that you shouldn’t do something to please others but instead for yourself. Acceptance that perfection, which is such a shit term, is a myth.

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.