What I’ve Learned About Myself from Women’s Conferences

Saturday, July 27th, 2013

eeeeeI think the one 100% true thing I’ve confirmed about myself at (my third) BlogHer is that I’m not much of a “vagina joiner”.

That sounds like some kind of an infomercial product, but it’s the most succinct way can describe how events like this make me feel. Look, I love women. Believe me, I love women. Poetically, philosophically, physically, some other “p” word… broads are good stuff.

But I’m just not one of those “touchy-feely, kumbaya, sign my yearbook, let’s braid each other’s hair, soft focus sisters of the woodlands” types. I never have been. The very idea of sitting in a room and discussing how to “be authentic” makes me want to drink. So you’ll probably find me in the hotel bar.

I think women are amazing people. But when you put a lot of them together in a hotel lobby, it’s not unlike what I’d imagine dolphins on a casino floor sound like — shrill shrieks of superlative excitement over a slot machine-like din of chatter and air kisses.

I respect women. I appreciate that this is the jam of thousands of women here at BlogHer. That’s why so many people are here — to “network”, to meet people, to socialize, be inspired, empowered and potentially sync up the cycle of every woman on the internet. And I totally, totally get that.

It’s just not for me.

Does that mean I don’t want to talk to you, meet you, hang out with you? Do I not want to be inspired, empowered? AM I NOT ENTERTAINED?

No, it mostly just means I don’t want to drop my business card in a fishbowl and listen to your schpiel on heavy flows and wide-set vaginas. Different strokes.

Memories of a Piano Bar Baby

Monday, June 24th, 2013

There was a restaurant I used to go to as a kid called The Cotton Patch. It was in Point Loma on Midway, cattycorner to the main Post Office, for those in the know — next door to the Aaron Brothers that has been there since I can remember.

As a family, we must have visited The Cotton Patch at least once or twice a week from 1979 to somewhere in the mid-eighties. The restaurant was essentially a steak house, known for their prime rib, but also their frog legs (for some reason). It was nice, though I wouldn’t say fancy. While they had cloth napkins and (I think) tablecloths, they also had complimentary cornbread shaped like actual corn and plastic bears filled with honey on every table, to my chubby 7 or 8-year-old delight.

I spent a lot of time hanging out at the hostess stand. Much like I am now, I made friends pretty easily. I have always been able to talk to anyone and been wise beyond my years (some might have said precocious), and spent a great deal of my childhood as an only child surrounded by adults. So, it was pretty easy to make friends with the middle-aged, but very, very nice blonde hostess we saw there often. I can’t remember her name anymore — I want to say Sheila, maybe? —  though I seem to recall something going sour between her and my father sometime after my mom died. I’d rather not speculate too much on that.

I spent most of my time at The Cotton Patch, when I wasn’t stuffing corn-shaped cornbread in my face, playing the tabletop Miss Pac-Man machine they had in the lobby. I got pretty good at it and it kept me occupied and out of my parents’ hair.  My dad would get me a roll over quarters and I’d play for hours while they sat in the lounge, sipping Benedictine and listening to the jazz pianist by the stone fireplace.

Sometimes my dad would get up and sing “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”.  If I ran out of quarters, he would let me give the piano player a generous tip in the giant tip snifter set at the end of the piano.  Often, Dad would ask me to request “My Funny Valentine”… my mom and dad’s song. The pianist would even sometimes let me sit next to him while he played standards I strangely knew the words to and I would sing along quietly, so as not to bother the adults. Adults, I might add, who thought it was charming and not at all that odd for an eight-year-old to be in a bar, let alone know all the words to “Autumn Leaves”.

We stopped going to The Cotton Patch in the mid-to-late-eighties, if I recall correctly, after my mom died. My last memory of being in there was when the piano bar guy played “My Funny Valentine” and my dad gave me some money, asking me to tell him to never play that again.

I’m not totally sure what happened to The Cotton Patch. I heard it caught on fire, but I can’t find any information about that. It’s a De ja Vu Showgirls strip club now, which kind of makes me laugh, a little sadly, whenever I drive past the now-hot pink stucco building. Though whenever I do, I still can’t help but think of my parents and of corn-shaped cornbread, frog legs and “My Funny Valentine”.

Categories: Life, thoughts

Successfully Suck It: An Infographic Review

Saturday, May 11th, 2013

The Success Indicator

The Success Indicator (found on Pinterest)

Infographics like this irk me. Who made this woman queen of who is and isn’t successful? Yes, many of the traits, characteristics and habits on the opposing sides are obvious — in essence: be positive, share your knowledge, don’t be an asshole and you can be successful. That’s not entirely true — I know some really positive, happy people who do nothing but lift others up, yet they aren’t necessarily successful. Of course, that depends on how you define success. The purpose of this infographic and the cheesy marketing book behind it has to do with becoming financially liberated, so I’m guessing they’re talking career and monetary success.

But also, it states really stupid things. Apparently, in order to be successful, you must “keep a journal”. Really? I’ve blogged on and off for 10 years, but I dislike most forms of journaling. I feel like, for me, it’s too “soft focus” and touchy-feely. I feel like I’m just talking to myself and I can do that without writing it down. And, apparently, unsuccessful people SAY they journal, but don’t. How the hell does she know? Who says they journal but don’t? In that case, they’d be unsuccessful because they’re a liar, not because they don’t journal.

Also, according to this broad, only unsuccessful people watch TV every day.  I’m really not a fan of the “I don’t watch TV” attitude that’s arisen in the last decade or so. Like it’s super uncool to watch TV, so therefore, you must be some slovenly, non-intellectual, unsuccessful lump.

Look, I admit, I watch some TV. Some may even say a lot of TV. I watch a couple/few hours every night, often while engaging in other things (like quality bunny time or tidying up or reading feeds or whatever). Sure, some of it is total trash-detachment television: fluff, mindless, ridiculous nothingness. It’s how I unwind. But a lot of it is smart programming: PBS, Science Channel, History (when they’re not showing Swamp People and shows about roadkill truckers or whatever). So the next person who gives me a snide “Oh, we don’t even own a TV” can sit on it, for all I care. Do what you want, don’t own a TV, don’t watch TV, only watch Dr. Who on Netflix, do whatever you want. But don’t condescend to me about it, hipster.

This infographic lady also says that successful people read every day. Mike would probably disagree with this one (he dislikes most leisure reading, it’s just not his bag), but I’m inclined to agree. I think it doesn’t necessarily matter what you read, it’s just important to read — to gain knowledge — and most of us do that every day, be it via blogs or HuffPo or something more high-brow. In the Internet Age, I think people are hard-pressed not to read every day. But her implication is that if you don’t throw your TV out the window and read Chaucer every night, you’re a sad, unsuccessful schmo.

I call bullshit. Besides, how successful can you be if you have time to sit around making infographics all day? Oh yeah, that’s right, I forgot she doesn’t have a TV

Categories: Life, thoughts

No Means No, Thank You

Monday, May 6th, 2013

No Means No Thank YouMy mantra for today, regardless of what people try to throw at me, is “One thing at a time.”  I’d like to say it’s my new mantra for life, but let’s just get through today first, shall we?

Every Sunday, I set a plan for my week and inevitably it gets derailed by someone’s panicked email or something that usually takes 10 minutes will explode and suck the rest of my day into a vortex of cursing and database restoration.

While I am eternally grateful for my business and all the work it provides, I need to stop trying to do 15 things at once. Multitasking is overrated, so I’m also considering hiring some subcontractors (for design, development and/or project management)  to alleviate some of the workload. I love what I do — but I also am only one person.

So I’m making an effort to not only delegate, but be more efficient, so I can spend more time pursuing other things I love to do.  Like drinking in the afternoon.

I’ve never been good at saying “No”.  In fact, I’d suspect many women aren’t skilled at it, either. We’re taught to accommodate, to be quiet, to appease, to nurture — and in my proper “what would people think?” family, even if I was emotionally crumbling or screaming inside, I was taught to be a lady. You didn’t air your “dirty laundry” in public — and “in public” meant ever. Having an opinion wasn’t an option and emotions were things you didn’t express, so you sequestered them to the point you forgot you had them. Like Gretchen Wiener’s hair, our family was full of secrets. Most of them we kept from ourselves.

Now, at almost 40, I’m learning to use the word “No”.  Though, thanks to my upbringing, it usually comes out more like, “No, I’m really sorry, please forgive me for not being able to drop everything and come to your aid. I shall flog myself later in repentance. I suck. Oh, please sire, grovel grovel etc.”

Hey, it’s a process.

Someday, I’ll be able to deliver an empowered “No” without fear of sounding like a bitch or being worried they think this or that or some other garbage I’ve conjured in my head when really, they just heard me say “No” and went about their day. They’re not writhing around about it (usually), so why should I? It’s OK to say “No”. There doesn’t always have to be complex layers of feelings and judgement. Sometimes “No” just means “No”.

If you have trouble saying “No” without worrying what people will think, I invite you to join me in my effort to knock that shit off. 

Categories: Life, thoughts

Fat Devil’s Advocate

Monday, April 29th, 2013

© Haley Morris-Cafiero // Used without permission, but will remove upon request.

Confession: I’m kind of surprised everyone is so amazed by this overweight girl taking photos of herself.  Look, I’m not knocking her, personally. I don’t care what size she is. And if that’s how she “got her power back”, then great. But I disagree, respectfully, with her premise.

As a plus-size person who does get looked at sometimes or even snide comments made about them on occasion (and cried about it), she’s setting up elaborate selfies in an awkward way that makes her kind of stick out in a crowd.  How is the photo being captured? I assume (and am happy to be corrected here) with a camera on a tripod (or perhaps a Gorillapod) and a remote, unless she’s got a friend taking the photos — which logistically would negate her being the photographer. Any time a camera is set-up, there are people who are going to involve themselves somehow.

In 99% of the photos I’ve seen, she looks decidedly forlorn or has her mouth agape or she is dressed in an unflattering way. She’s generally “out of sorts” in her photos, not just fat, so it doesn’t really surprise me that people look.

People look.  It’s just human nature. I don’t think it’s right to verbally criticize people or call them names or make anyone feel uncomfortable — no one has the right to do that.  But, I look at people all the time — I may not make ridiculous gaping stares, but I will glance and I may throw a side-eye at whomever is with me, if a person of any size is wearing something inappropriate or nutty or is otherwise carrying themselves in a way that warrants looking.

It’s wonderful that some people feel empowered by her photos and I definitely think some of those people making faces are way over-the-top. No one needs to be that obvious with their “people watching”, but while it may seem like “I don’t get it” or maybe like I’m some kind of compassion-free asshole, if she were smiling or happy or even just nondescript… I might not feel the same way.  If she weren’t so obviously taking a photo of herself, foot akimbo, unkempt, mouth hanging open, etc, people might not have the same reaction.

I believe in carrying yourself with dignity, regardless of what size you are, and her photos don’t reflect that, in my opinion. What she’s doing seems to be more of an artistic statement, ergo, she’s presenting herself in a way that gets people to look.

</fat devil’s advocate>

Categories: Life, thoughts