Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Dance like everyone's watching

A little while ago, well actually a long while ago, I went out dancing with a good friend from “back in the day”. Every once in a while she and I re-enact the good old times shared when we were twenty. For the sake of this post, I should probably mention that I’m now thirty and obviously living a very different life. 

I don’t often go out because finding a 'sitter is nearly impossible, as is ‘hangover parenting’ the next morning (truly a horrible experience). I hate to admit it, and it probably speaks to my age; but it’s just not worth it. Speaking of which, has anyone else noticed that hangovers get ridiculously awful with age? I don’t recall them lasting three days and feel like I should have been warned.  

Anyway, the point of all this was my friend saying with a big smile “oh I remember your dancing” after I had enjoyed a few drinks and was subsequently comfortable enough to make my debut on the dance floor.

The next morning in addition to my pounding headache was the memory of her saying that. What did she mean? Were my dance-moves THAT good? Or was it the opposite? Most likely it was the latter. I’m sure it’s not just me who feels slightly (ok, very) insecure about dancing, so I decided that I should probably see what I look like when I dance.

I then did something I wouldn't recommend to anyone else: I watched a video clip from a wedding of some friends and I dancing. I’m not going to lie, it was an uncomfortable experience. There was far too much happening with my hips, my shoulders and hands were operating as two separate entities that seemed to be at war with each other, and on my face was a cross between ‘duck-lips’ and Bell's Palsy (I’m really sorry if that offends anyone – it’s not my intention as Bell's Palsy is no laughing matter...I'm just not sure how else to describe it). I suppose at the time I thought I looked sexy and alluring, but alcohol works in mysterious ways. The only thing that made the experience enjoyable was re-watching it in slow motion. In order to really appreciate the hilarity of watching yourself dance in slow-motion you would have to also try it. I don't think I've ever laughed so hard.

The disappointing realization that I dance like I have a neurological disorder surprisingly hasn't been a deterrent from further embarrassing myself. I figured it was a challenge that I could overcome with practice. That’s where having a toddler comes in handy – every day is dance-party day! So Isla and I would put on some reggae tunes and get our dance on in front of the mirror. She’s been doing what we’ll call her ‘signature move’ since she first turned two. I don’t know where she learned it (I swear it wasn’t me) but if anyone witnessed it first hand I would probably get a few raised eyebrows. Basically she puts her hands on the floor in front of her and shakes her bum back and forth in the air. Oh, it’s something. In addition to that questionable move, there is no doubt that the kid has rhythm. It’s clear from a very young age that she won’t have to worry about whether or not she can dance. Apparently for her it’s innate (much like her Dad).

Then there’s me. All I’m missing when I dance are little guns that I’ve made my hands into, pointed sporadically at the floor on the off-beat. While you’re trying to shake that image from your head, I can confirm that regardless of how hard one tries to learn new and improved dance moves, one will not change. Maybe with the help of a professional, but that might even be pushing it.

This got me thinking, where did I pick up these pseudo skills? Was I born with them? It’s basically the age old question: Nature or Nurture? Since dance is clearly something you’re born with (I know this after watching both of my kids bop their fat little legs to the beat before they were able to stand on their own), I was probably just destined to be awkward on the dance floor.


With the unrelenting hope that I might one day improve, I find myself trying to mimic other moves that I see first hand, or on tv (which usually doesn’t bode well). The problem is even if I find a new dance that feels and/or potentially looks OK; I would only do it for about 10 seconds before automatically and subconsciously going back to what I presume is my instinctive way of dancing. It’s obviously something I can’t control.

So if you’re reading this and worrying to yourself that if you and I go out one night, I may steal your moves; fear not, as I am apparently incapable. With that said I feel like I should mention that I probably will try, only to then promptly fail. Colour me persistent.

At the very least I know I’m not alone in my admittedly embarrassing insecurities. I always make sure to take heed to the audience at a televised concert. In one word I can sum up the crowd: awkward. No one knows whether to sway, jump, sing along, or just stand there; it’s actually really funny…and also comforting. Clearly if the entire audience were heavily intoxicated (like, for instance, at a wedding reception) then everyone would be on top of the world and showcasing their best moves.

It seems though, alcohol aside, that the only categories of people who are comfortable enough to dance like no one’s watching are the supremely confident (whom I envy), and kids. If there’s one thing I wish I hadn’t grown out of, it would be that. Also the pants I wore in high school, come to think of it.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Do I look like a potato in this?

Apparently, according to facebook, thin is no longer “in”. Instead society has once again embraced the curvaceous beauty of Marilyn Monroe, for example. This is especially good news for me because I wasn’t about to trade in my curves for protruding clavicles and bony arms. I’ve always maintained this notion in spite of the magazines constantly reinforcing, via anorexic looking models, that everyone should look like they need a sandwich. I know, I know; there's a difference between skinny and fit. "Skinny", for the record, applies to those who eat barely enough to stay alive. Hence the apparent need for a sandwich.

 The problem is while people are saying one thing, and Marilyn’s picture is being posted and re-posted all over the internet; those who are designing the clothes I’m buying don’t seem to be in agreement.

After spending an eternity shopping for a summer wardrobe, it was obvious that the majority of my options were designed with the ‘stick insect’ body type in mind. Hence most things I tried on looked horrifying in the mirror, causing me to leave the store feeling somewhat defeated. Though it sounds like a sad situation (relatively speaking), it could have been worse. Like when I’m tricked with flattering lights and tilted mirrors (sneaky bastards), and buy said items only to realize much too late that the pale, lumpy stranger in the pictures uploaded to my laptop, is me. Yes, time and again, I experience buyer’s remorse when I’ve already worn an article of clothing long enough to be photographed in. Oh the camera adds ten pounds, you say? Please someone explain that philosophy to me because I think it was actually the Costco size box of drumsticks I bought on sale (they’re bastards too) which might instead be responsible. Trust me, blaming the camera is my first instinct as well; but let’s be real.

Back to the clothing options for "normal" (we'll call them) looking women. On a brief tangent I just have to point out that by normal I don't mean curvy, thin, tall or short; I just mean those who don't look like they walked off the cover of Vogue. Regarding the small percentage of women who actually fit the description of 'supermodel' it has to be said, in their defence, that they can't help that they were born insanely gorgeous. My issue is the fact that unless women fit into the aformentioned mould, they don't consider themselves beautiful and instead spend their lives trying to be something different. It's not fair or realistic.  

Anyway, back to what I was saying earlier. I happen to love dresses and tend to be girly at every opportunity. Maybe it’s because I wear steel toe boots and a frumpy black uniform to work; who knows. Finding a dress to compliment my curvy self (with the extra ten pounds I’m not trying hard enough to get rid of) in my postpartum state has become an issue.

So what have sparked this entry are the photos I’ve deleted of myself from yesterday’s outing on our beautiful city’s lakeshore. Mike stepped out of his comfort zone and took a few pictures of me holding Sam. Later that evening as I perused the pictures, he found himself in the hot-seat, so to speak, as to how he could possibly have let me out of the house in horizontal stripes. Everyone knows horizontal stripes are a huge no-no. Poor Mike, standing there like a deer in the headlights, didn't know what to say when faced with my questions. After all, if he’s not going to tell me something looks awful, who will?

 I’m sure this happens all the time to unsuspecting husbands, and also that it’s not just Mike who stammers through an explanation of how “it looked good” or, more commonly, just assumes a blank stare until the subject changes. In their defence, I have absolutely no idea what I would do if the situation were reversed. It’s a lose-lose trap that husbands everywhere are falling into and, I can’t believe I’m admitting this, it’s really not fair to them. If Mike had told me prior to leaving the house that maybe horizontal stripes weren’t the best wardrobe option, I might have had a different reaction than the rational one which took place in my imagination. It’s likely that I would have suffered some type of pathetic, self-loathing, extremely exaggerated meltdown about how my husband thinks I’m fat.

So instead we had a lovely day as I unassumingly frumped around in my stripy sundress. Do I regret wearing it? A bit. But why??? Was it really ten stupid pounds that ruined the dress, or was I worried about what people would have thought about me? So many questions as I try to unlock the mysteries of self esteem and women. It forces me to remember a time when I was in the best shape of my life and still somehow felt self conscious about my hip-bones, or my sausage-fingers, or my squirrel-tail eyebrows, or something completely and utterly ridiculous. The real question is why do women do this to themselves? Is it society that puts pressure on us, or is it ourselves? Did Marilyn think she was fat when the rest of the world worshipped the ground she walked on? It’s a shame we can’t ask her.

Regardless, I feel like I’m over it. I do not, and will not, diet. I eat real food like butter, and the non-light yogurt. I eat food not only to stay alive but because it’s delicious (Sooooo delicious). I do not subscribe to “challenges” of weight loss and tend to stay away from marketed products. Though, as a disclaimer, it must be said that the people who do are absolutely fine in my books. To each their own. I exercise, but not obsessively. In fact I started lunging with the stroller on a little trail behind my house. I now take advantage of the seclusion the trail offers since lunging down an empty soccer field and being made fun of by a group A-hole kids. I'm ashamed to admit this caused a tad bit of lady-rage and made me to want to fight them (hormones?). It was like high school all over again, except with a twin-stroller.

I think, at the risk of getting too deep, the world sees you how you see yourself. If you find yourself with a particularly stubborn brand of crazy; consider therapy (no shame in that). If you want to lose that ten pounds, hop on the old treadmill and you’ll feel better. Basically, if you don’t like something; change it. Sounds easy right? I’ll let you know in 6 weeks if my lunging, and 20 minutes a night on the exercise bike, paid off and that stripy devil-dress actually looks good on me. No more brow-beating of the husband though; it’s not his job to crush my self-esteem each day as I go out into public and face the world potentially resembling a potato. Some people like potatoes. Love them, actually.

So at least there’s that.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

The Meatball

This entry will embarrass me, but I guess that’s part of exposing yourself via blog to your friends, family, and really anyone with access to the internet. So I’ll cut right to the chase: I have a mole. Well actually, I have two moles. One is under my arm and unfortunately resembles an area that may have been overlooked at my last waxing appointment. I like to pretend that it has a mind of its own and in addition to its Italian accent, has an ‘only child complex’ and desperately seeks attention. I feel like it calls to people when I lift my arm “HEY EVERYONE! LOOK AT ME!” Obviously this has bothered me since I was a kid. In an attempt to make light of it because, incidentally, I make jokes when I’m uncomfortable, I started referring to it as “the meatball”. Gross right? It seemed like an appropriate thing to call it, especially considering it spoke with an Italian accent. If I were more clever and original I would have given it a name like “Marcelo” or “Angelo”, but I was seven and had apparently settled on meatball. And so it was.
This particular meatball doesn't come out very often because I tend to avoid sleeveless shirts, unless I’m at the gym. When I’m there it becomes especially obnoxious and screams at everyone around me for the entirety of my upper body workout. I know this because I often find myself noticing people notice it. I really wish it would shut the hell up while I’m trying to exercise. It’s like I have to choose between arm-dangle (as a result of not working out) or a front row seat at the Meatball show. It’s really not fair.
The other meatball, also obnoxious, lives on my cleavage. Awesome place right? This meatball likes to scream, mostly in Italian, ALL the time and not just when I’m working out. If you recall from an earlier post, I have really big boobs. So this means that no matter what, everywhere I go, I hear its little voice screaming for everyone to look at it. I’m actually really self conscious about it. What’s worse is that my friends encourage its behaviour. It’s like they go out of their way to reassure it by saying with their eyes “yes, you’re hilarious and always welcome to join our discussion”. You would think that they’d clue in and realize that I’ve readjusted my shirt 700 times in an hour in an attempt to prevent these rude interruptions. Nope, instead they pause every so often and glance down at it so that it may contribute its bullshit to the conversation. I suppose from the meatball’s perspective, it’s rather polite and accepting of them. From mine however, it’s annoying. Like when you were a kid and your Mom would make you include your super-irriating younger sibling when your friends were over.
I know what you’re thinking; if these two are causing me this much grief, why not have them removed? Well I went to the dermatologist which was an experience in itself. In my particular city apparently there is a “shortage” of specialists and there are only two doctors equipped to handle meatball evictions. Incidentally these two doctors share an office, and have hired A-holes to answer the phones. When they aren’t putting people on hold for no reason, they are sneering at their meatball-clad patients and explaining that a 2:00 appointment will likely take place up to three hours later because they are “overbooked”. Well, I’m ashamed to say, when it was my turn to converse with these jerks, I lost it. My mind, that is. You should know that sometimes I make scenes (Mike hates and loves this about me). It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it’s quite a spectacle. So the three of us (myself and the two meatballs) actually managed to get the whole waiting room in an uproar over the audacity of this office, and blatant disregard of our collective plans for the day. “WELL” I announced loudly enough for everyone to hear, “I’m not going to sit around here for three hours, I have better things to do!”. I think I may have even flailed my arms a bit allowing the underarm meatball to have its say as well. After a small argument ensued with the A-hole behind the desk, and some threats of taking me to “collections” for the $50 fee I was refusing to pay should I actually miss my appointment; I decided to wait it out at another location and go to my appointment after all. So I went shopping, and had a coffee in Vanessa (my van). Surprisingly it turned out to be a lovely afternoon.
Later, when finally in my appointment, I was told by this dermatologist that yes, she could remove my moles for THREE HUNDRED DOLLARS! Sorry for screaming that – but seriously, three hundred dollars for a procedure that she explained would take “minutes”?

I. Don’t. Think. So.

Damn you, OHIP. Damn you.
 It wasn’t until after I left when I reflected on my saying “thanks, but no thanks” that I was filled with deep regret. That was my chance, and I blew it. And for what? Three hundred dollars? What is my problem?

So, as it sit here typing, my cleavage mole is peeking out over my shirt and obnoxiously crowding my periphery.  My only options at this point are to go back to the dermatologist, where I imagine I’ve been blacklisted, or continue explaining to people that no, there is not a fly on my chest, it’s actually a mole. If I choose the route of acceptance and not remove said mole, I suppose I’ll have to also come to terms with the horrifying inevitability of someone confusing it for spilled food and trying to wipe it off.

Apparently life is full of difficult choices.

By the way, this is the dumbest thing I’ve ever written. I hope that, if anything, it's brought you solace should you have an unsightly feature that you’re too cheap to do something about. After all, if we can’t laugh at ourselves than what the hell are we doing here?