Saturday, October 20, 2007

Spilled Popcorn

The thing about movie trailers: they're cunning and deceitful. And I am a sucker for a good movie trailer. If a movie trailer does its job right, I wish I were watching the movie behind the trailer instead of the one I just paid for. I usually nudge Alice in the ribs and tell her "We're going to go see that." She usually agrees.

So we wait a few weeks. The preview inevitably pops up on commercials or the internet again and again. By opening weekend, we are both really pumped to see the show and, hey, we have no plans for the night. A movie would be the perfect anecdote after a long work week. So we go. Popcorn in hand. Our little hearts expectant for a few hours of escapism. A while later we sulk out of the theater, disappointed. Disappointed about the mediocre hour and a half we've spent. Maybe we should have hit Barnes & Noble or Target for a while and looked at books or sweaters or something, afterall. We are disappointed about the mediocre eight bucks we've spent. We could have put that money in savings or sent it off to Darfur or AIDS research or the Perpetual Education Fund. We leave the theater with an empty sense of deflation.

And yet we keep going back. Because every once in a while the movie machine comes through for us and gives us something other than a complete dud. And, when it does throw us a complete bomber, we have to remember that there's no use crying over spilled popcorn.

Tonight Alice (the roomie) and I went to a sneak preview of Dan in Real Life, a movie we've been looking forward to for quite some time. This preview didn't set us up for disappointment. We laughed. We gasped. We were fully entertained. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night with your best friend. Why can't all movies come through for me like this one?

What about you? What's a good flick you've seen lately? Which movies do you love? Which movies do you hate? Which movies surprised you--good and bad? Which movies are out lately that I should avoid? Not miss?

Tuesday, October 9, 2007


F-A-T. Since when have these three little letters become the other f-word? Chubby. Heavy Set. The Big One. Shamu. Call it what you like, fat is feared. And I am a fat girl. I confess. I can admit this not because denying it would be a lie nobody believes, but because it is a part of my life experience. I know it is not who I am. It does not define me. It does not stop me. It does not cause me to loathe my body or refuse myself ice cream. It is a fact. But I'm also a sister and I snort sometimes when I laugh. I'm a teacher and my hair is naturally curly. And I'm an alto and a friend and a hiking enthusiast and a writer. Not to mention that I'm religious and a size 8 shoe.

And I keep wondering why being fat is always the first focus. And why is it such a big damn deal? Are health issues a concern? Absolutely. But is every fat person in poor health?

This is what I've noticed as a fat person: assumption is instinctual. I've been told "You really don't eat that much" and that "Your energy level surprises me!" I've heard it mentioned that I hide my weight well. I've been 'comforted' with "at least your face is pretty." I've been the target of not-so-subtle hints. I've been teased. I've been rejected. And why? Because I shop in the fat girl section at all major department stores (hate to tell you, folks, but that whole "Plus Size" euphemism ain't foolin' nobody). Because it is instinctual in humans to poo-poo the uncommon or unique. Because we write children's books that say people come in all shapes, colors and sizes; but we spend the rest of the time pointing out the differences between those shapes, colors and sizes and creating a hierarchy of which color is best, which shape is most desired, and which size is acceptable. And if you don't fit that mold, people make assumptions.

And fat is cream-filled with negative assumptions. Especially for women. The check-out aisle is lined with Snickers and M&M's on one side, and 12 glossy magazines guaranteeing the secret to kicking those last 15 pounds and the other 6 promise five simple steps to flat abs. And chocolate never made anybody feel worthless. Women are under pressure to be thin. Period. The message is not embracing and we all know it.

If your body/hair/nails/skin/makeup/clothes/shoes/accessories/teeth do not look like X, you are a failure and a disgrace to womanhood, you should attach yourself to a treadmill and eat nothing but 25 points a day for the rest of your life, or end your life hiding in your parent's basement ordering takeout and eventually Dr. Phil-Oprah-Tyra might rescue you. If you are fat, somewhere it is stressed that these are your only two options. There aren't any others. You shouldn't view yourself as sexy. You shouldn't teach aerobics. You shouldn't participate in swimming because your body, stretchmarks, and cellulite are best kept hidden. You shouldn't ever, ever, ever even think about thinking about eating chocolate. You shouldn't be an athlete. You shouldn't fall in love. You shouldn't try water skiing. You shouldn't have children. You shouldn't go into Public Relations. You shouldn't wear pumps. You shouldn't bake cookies. You shouldn't wear horizontal stripes. You shouldn't join a yoga class. You shouldn't get a massage. You shouldn't be an actress. You shouldn't be fat.

Being fat means that, if you listen to everybody else, you have boundaries and limitations and until you are no longer fat, you can't do anything fun. Because you're fat.

Nobody ever really looks at the up-side of being fat. Santa is fat. Babies are fat. Grandmas are fat. And all three of these love milk and/or cookies. So what is so scary about a 26-year-old fat woman? What is her crime against society? Why do some of you squirm in her presence? And why do you live in fear of getting soft around the edges?

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Walt Whitman Was Here

Those of you who know me well know that poetry is my first love. It is one of those gifts of language that leaves me aware only of my breathing. A good poem is felt in that hollow space below the heart. It is a thing known the at the moment your mouth reads that last word. Call it instinct, call it grace--a good poem is felt, not thought.

I've decided to start a new segment on my blog:
Walt Whitman Was Here. Each week I will post some of my old favorites and maybe some of the new poems I come across.

Enjoy this week's poem: "At Great Pond" by Mary Oliver.
Feel free to comment on your impressions, or simply soak it in.

At Great Pond
by Mary Oliver

At Great Pond
the sun, rising,
scrapes his orange breast
on the thick pines,
and down tumble
a few orange feathers into
the dark water.
On the far shore
a white bird is standing
like a white candle ---
or a man, in the distance,
in the clasp of some meditation ---
while all around me the lilies
are breaking open again
from the black cave
of the night.
Later, I will consider
what I have seen ---
what it could signify ---
what words of adoration I might
make of it, and to do this
I will go indoors to my desk ---
I will sit in my chair ---
I will look back
into the lost morning
in which I am moving, now,
like a swimmer,
so smoothly,
so peacefully,
I am almost the lily ---
almost the bird vanishing over the water
on its sleeves of night.