Category Archives: social commentary

Seeing and Believing

What I see when I look in the mirror and what I imagine myself to look like in my mind’s eye have never been one in the same. Never ever ever.

This is not always a bad thing. There are days when, for whatever reason, I feel very good about myself: maybe I had a hard workout the day before and I am sore in that way that tells me I did something good for myself; maybe I listened to really great music on my morning car ride that got me going on a path of positivity; maybe I just had a good sex dream and started my day with an imaginary ego boost. WHATEVER. The point is, on these blessed days when Pamela likes Pamela, I could have frizzy hair, no make-up, dark circles under my eyes, and be retaining approximately 7 gallons of water, but I’ll think that I look fabulous. I have found myself strutting–fucking strutting–in the mall, confidently making eye contact with strangers like I’m just the shit, and then walked past a window and scared myself because the face I am seeing is grotesque compared to the one I thought I had. But while that might be a little embarrassing, the fact of the matter is, I’d much prefer to look like a troll but walk like royalty rather than look like I’m worth a million dollars but feel like the cheapest trash on the block.

But usually, my body image issues manifest themselves in the usual feminine-beauty-dilemma fashion: I’m not “fat,” per se, but I see myself as a total cow. Now, for most of my life, could I have used to lose a few pounds? Sure. But even at my heaviest, I was never even medically speaking “overweight.” My BMI was always technically in the healthy range, I just found myself drifting towards the higher end of that spectrum. But right now, I am as close to my happy weight as I have ever been in my whole existence. And if I look in the mirror and try to see myself for what is actually in front of me, I can say that I look pretty good. On certain days I might even wager that I’m hot. But so often, I don’t see that version of myself in my mind.

First of all, I often still feel like the grade 10 version of myself: a girl with bad skin, who had yet to grow into her Polish nose, and who thought a frizzy bob made her look cute when it really just made her look dweeby. I can’t seem to completely shake that mindset. I once ran into some boys from high school in a bar in Canada, and I literally watched jaws drop. It was a fantastic feeling. But I felt wrong standing in their presence: I was Pam Wall, nerd, weirdo, unattractive, unwanted loser and they were the popular boys that were mean to me but that I still always sort of liked, or at least found *does Valley Girl voice* totally and completely dreamy. And now three years after that experience, I still sometimes wonder why anyone would want to look at me EVER. I know that’s such an obnoxious thing to say–it’s the sort of thing I would try to slap other girls for–but it’s true. Sometimes I remember that my skin is clear, I did grow into my nose, and my hair is now long and soft and age-appropriate, and then I think I’m a decent sight to behold. But most days I’m still just 16 and invisible.

I also have serious problems seeing my body clearly. I found myself this evening coveting the legs of middle-aged women on my mother’s soccer team. Now, I may not love my thighs, but they ain’t enormous. And yet I’m looking at these mothers thinking, “I wish I had her quads.” How fucked up is that? I had to step back and say, “Uh, hello? That lady is 30 pounds heavier than you. And probably wears Mom Jeans. What are you thinking?!” (Not to criticize these Soccer Moms, because they all look amazing for their ages. And kudos to them for being active and fit when society still expects them to drop their every want and need for their families.) I had to go in the bathroom and look at myself in the mirror, I had to literally look at the size tag on my jeans, just to get my thoughts back to a healthy place. It was a frightening moment, there.

What causes this disconnect between what is and what we believe to be?  I know I am not the only woman who has ever seen herself in a completely different light than the one others see her in. Most if not all women (and plenty of men) struggle with body image, I’m sure. But I’m not asking, scientifically, why does this happen? I’m more asking, as a gender, as a people, as a community of humans just trying to better themselves, why do we allow this to happen? Yes, images of beauty and fitness and thinness and perfection are thrust upon us from the moment we exit the womb, so that naturally is going to screw with our views of ourselves, others, and the world at large. But why do we keep letting it? At what point do those of us working towards wellness and self-improvement not only say, “I can’t compare myself to her or to him or to you. I am an island, and I can only determine what’s right by me on terms of me,” but truly believe it and act accordingly. I tell myself every single day that my happy weight shouldn’t be determined by a number on the scale, it should be determined by how I feel. But then I catch an episode of Top Model where they mention that some chick is 5’11” and 116 pounds or something sick like that, and I can’t help but find myself drifting casually towards the bathroom to weigh myself.

I hate myself sometimes, I really do. I want to be better than this. I want to be the woman who stands up and tells others that you can look at yourself and love what you see and feel truly at home in that body. I want to be the one who encourages others to aim for  nothing more and nothing less than to be as healthy as possible, and fuck what you look like. But I’m not that girl. I want to have slender thighs just as much as the next girl, if not more so. I want to walk past a mirror and scare myself, not because I’m so hideous, but because I’m so nauseatingly pretty that I am taken pleasantly taken aback by my own face. I am not proud of these desires, but I would be doing myself and my readers a disservice if I didn’t put these thoughts out there because, damn it, I know I’m not alone.

And I would give anything to be alone in this struggle. I would love if I could save every other poor soul from being plagued by these nagging hopes and dreams by accepting all of your struggles as my own. I would hate every inch of my body for every second of every minute of FOREVER if it meant you and you and you could love yours.

But, unfortunately, we’re all in this together.

A little elf in my favorite Christmas movie once said, “Seeing isn’t believing, believing is seeing.” Maybe it’s a little bit of both.

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Hey, guess what, a genius agrees with me

Just a super quick follow-up to my last post.

Remember how I don’t believe in god? Remember how I don’t believe in heaven? Welp, Stephen Hawking agrees with me.

I feel pretty smart right about now 🙂

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It’s the end of the world as we know it…

…and I feel FINE. Great, even.

In case you live under a rock inside a cave at the bottom of the ocean, let me fill you in: the world is going to end next Saturday, May 21, 2011. Or at least, that’s what this guy thinks.

Judgement Day, The Rapture, the End of Days…whatever you wanna call it, supposedly it’s a’coming. And even if you are like me and don’t believe that for a second, the mention of the end of the world tends to make one take a close look at his or her life and wonder: what’s waiting for me “on the other side.” Well, I’ve considered that question myself, and I’m fairly certain that if anything is waiting, I’ll be happy with it.

You see, I was raised Catholic, but from an early age, I just knew that their doctrine and dogma was not for me. Sitting in Catechism in the 8th grade, I got in a heated debate with a substitute who suggested that anyone not Catholic, who didn’t go to church every weekend, and who didn’t read the “correct” version of the Bible was going to Hell. I staunchly refused to believe…nay, I simply knew in my heart that god would never condemn someone for what their parents did. Because, frankly, that’s where most people get their religion: from the people who raised them. There are plenty of us who abandon religion altogether, and there are a few people who search for a religious community that suits them, and to those select few, I say, good for you! But, for the most part, you believe what your parents told you to believe. And thus, there I was, 13 years old, shouting at this droopy balding man that my very close friend who was Hmong and far from Catholic would NEVER end up in hell because she was the nicest, sweetest, least judgmental girl I had ever met, and any higher power would know that she had earned a place in a beautiful afterlife, no matter what label her faith was given on Earth. Catechism guy disagreed with me and instructed me to “save” her, but at that moment, I stopped thinking of myself as Catholic and instead as someone who “hung around Catholic people and was influenced by their ideas.”

Over the years I’ve pulled fairly far away from all religion. I no longer attend church except for holidays (because it makes those days seem…special, I guess is the best word) and when I am on vacation with my mom (it makes her happy, dammit!), the last time I went to confession was nearly 4 years ago (and I felt dirtier after walking out of confession than I had going in), and I don’t really “pray,” per se, anymore. My mom finds value and peace in her faith, and thus I have no qualms about it. I feel that some people use religion as a weapon, as an excuse for ignorance, and as a way to make others feel as if they are less than you, but to those who simply nurture their soul with their religion, that’s great for them. I just don’t want any part of it.

Now, would I call myself spiritual? Sure. I look around the world and see god everywhere: in each purple blossom on the lilac tree outside, in the clouds swimming across the periwinkle sky, in my dog’s adoring eyes, in my yoga instructor, everywhere. Do I define that “god” as a powerful-grandfatherly-thinking-being-in-the-sky? NO. Do I believe in a god with set rules for what is a sin and what is alright? No. Do I believe we go somewhere when we’re no longer here? Nah. But I do believe in…something. An energy, a force (not The Force, a force), a uniting positivity, something that makes here have enough meaning that we don’t need an afterlife to justify it.

But I also believe that even if there is a grandpa-in-the-sky, he’s not such a selfish, jealous bastard that he’d be pissed that I don’t believe in him. If anything, he’d think I was a silly little girl and enjoy watching my antics…much like a real grandfather. He might even smile bemusedly, put his hands on his hips and shake his head in disbelief sometimes, but I know no god or gods in the universe would really give a damn about my little slip-ups.

See, I am a firm supporter of The Atheist’s Wager. Unlike my mother who I think would agree with Pascal and say that she’d rather believe in god just in case he does exist, just to be safe, but here’s my problem with that line of thinking:

A) There is a slim-to-none chance that you’ll even believe in the “right god” because there are so many sects of so many religions that whatever you choose to believe is probably WRONG. (Unless, of course, everyone is somehow right, but how could that be? God would have to be…GOD…to make that magic trick work.)

AND

B) I think there is more value, more beauty, and more good in acting morally because you simply should, not out of fear of retribution. My mother has on various occasions expressed to me that she takes comfort in the notion that bad people will someday be punished and she will be rewarded; and furthermore, if she didn’t think she would someday get props for being a good person, that she wouldn’t be a good person. I’ve tried to explain to her how fucked up that is: you don’t want your son to not hit his sister because if he’s a good boy he’ll get a cookie; you want him to not hit his sister because it’s mean and everyone will be better off if he doesn’t. But she doesn’t seem to get it.

I, however, feel it is much better to live your life as best as you can; forgive yourself when you make mistakes or do something that may not have been definitively good because you are, after all, human, but learn from those mistakes and try to be better; and use your intellect and your empathy to dictate your actions, because the world will be a better, happier place if you live that way–NOT because you want to get something in return for being a nice person. Let’s work to create happiness and well-being on earth, and then we won’t need heaven later.

If there is a god out there with an afterlife all set up for us like a painted and furnished nursery awaiting a baby, I think he’d be much more impressed with the latter way of thinking. Doesn’t it just seem so much more rightt–dare I say, more Christian?–to act morally simply for the value of being moral? I think if you said to god, “Yeah, I really wanted to kill that guy but I didn’t because I knew you’d be pissed and I didn’t want to get in trouble,” he’d be a little peeved. But if you said, “I was very angry, and even had murderous thoughts, but I didn’t kill him because killing is wrong and by violating the social contract I would only have made our community a less safe and comfortable place for everyone,” I bet god would give you a high-five.

Yeah, if there is a god, I’m pretty sure he’s a high-fiver.

OK, I’m dragging this out. I had a point, and now I am going to get to it: If the world ends next weekend, and it turns out that there is a god, and he has expectations for our behavior, I think I’m in the clear. I doubt he’ll care about any underage drinking that I did (which, yes, my mom has made a religious issue in the past), any premarital sex that I had (which doesn’t hurt anyone), or any time I used his name in vain. I think he’ll see that I tried to put others’ needs ahead of my own as much as possible. He’ll see that I loved my neighbor as myself: I hurt when they hurt, and felt joy when they felt joy. He’ll see that I didn’t steal or cheat or lie (except when I was saving someone’s feelings, which I think falls on the side of morality) or seek to hurt. He’ll see all that, and he’ll be pleased. And if there is an afterlife, even though I don’t believe there is, I’m confident he’d let me in.

So bring on the end of the world. I’m ready.

P.S. I just realized I referred to god as a “he” for that whole post when I’ve always been a fan of the notion that any god worth believing in would totally be a chick. So here’s a little something to make up for my gender-slip.

Yeeeeaaaah, 90’s.

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My Thoughts Create My World

Long, long ago, in a galaxy that looks an awful lot like the one we’re living in, I read a book called The Secret. Even as I was immersed in it, I found very much of its content to be…a bit loony (though I should have suspected that before even opening to the first page: Rhonda Byrne, the author, looks more than a tad batty).  The concept is very much along the lines of magical thinking: that if you tell The Universe what you want, and you think long and hard enough about it, and you really believe it is not only possible but will come to be, then it surely will. I’m paring it down quite a bit, but that’s pretty much the point.

Here’s a brief illustration of how far this philosophy (for lack of a better term) tries to go. There is a story in the book about a man who drew, in great detail, a feather. The man looked at the picture of the feather dozens of times a day, and concentrated all his mental energy on that feather. And after a few days, what came drifting to his feet but the exact fucking feather! MAGIC! Let us all be convinced of this way of thinking because of this anecdote!

No, I’m kidding. Do not be convinced of this way of thinking because of the feather. Do not be convinced of this way of thinking. I am not Augusten Burroughs. I do not think, nor have I ever thought–unlike Mr. Burroughs–that if I concentrate really hard on, say, someone dying, that they will die.  If that was possible, well, I’d have committed patricide long long ago.  I do not think that just because you really want something and think about it a lot, that you will certainly get it (how many people can hope and pray to win the Mega Millions and actually win?) and I do not think that if you do not get something you want it’s all because you didn’t believe hard enough. That’s what The Secret tries to argue. I do not buy into it.

HOWEVER, I do believe in the very real power of positive thought.

When I picked up The Secret, I was going to weekly therapy sessions, and had been told by a psychologist that I was bipolar. (Actually, what she said was that I had some of the symptoms of depression, and some of the symptoms of manic depressive disorder but didn’t really fit the bill for either. That didn’t stop her from handing me a 60-day trial of meds, however. Quack.) I had originally gone to see a counselor at my university because my family problems had been wearing on me for too long and I just needed someone to talk to. She put me in touch with a real therapist, and thus my brief foray into the mental health arena began.

Once a week I sat and talked about all sorts of shit I went through in my life, starting as far back as I could remember. She never once asked me how I was feeling that day, or how my current life was going; she simply wanted to pick up where we had last left off: “So, last time, we were talking about your memory of handing your crying mother Kleenex…let’s start from there.” The more I talked about my less-than-stellar past, the more morose I felt. I was drowning in bad memories. But after reading just a few pages of The Secret, I realized that I was doing myself more harm than good by continuing my therapy. I quit my sessions the next day, started focusing my energy on the good things in my life, and just told myself that even if my past wasn’t “resolved,” that didn’t mean I had to dwell on it. And, miraculously, I was cured! Or at least, I was smiling again. And frequently.

Thoughts, I feel, have inertia: once they build momentum in one direction, it’s difficult to change their path. When you allow yourself to wallow in unhappiness, you find yourself seeing all the negative in the world, and missing all the positive. Now, Ms. Byrne would say that by thinking about negative things you are asking the Universe to send you more negative. I’m sorry, you are not a magnet, and sometimes, shit happens. We get bummed out. It’s not your fault that in every life a little rain must fall, and sometimes, when it rains, it fucking pours. BUT, that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t all try to put our thoughts on a positive path. The more good you concentrate on, the more good you see. Building momentum in a happy, hopeful direction can only make your life better.

Another valuable little nugget I sifted from the rubble of The Secret is that you need to make what you want very clear–not to The Universe, or to the Lotto gods, but to YOURSELF.

We live in a world in which we are bombarded, beaten and berated by images and sounds and smells of things we are supposed to want. How many billboards, print ads, television commercials, and Facebook sidebar blurbs do you encounter every day? A lot, I’d wager. The purpose of those ads is to make you want something. Or at least believe, for a brief moment, that you want it so that you might get it.

But you know what? You probably don’t give a flying fuck about 99% of the bullshit that passes before your eyes. The bright colors and jingly songs might draw your attention, and marketing is a dastardly art form that can be quite hypnotizing, but how often do you see an advertisement for Cinnamon Toast Crunch and linger on it for days out of utter want? OK, maybe that wasn’t a great example because as a recovering sugar addict, I can linger on Cinnamon Toast Crunch for quite some time…but you get my point. It is honestly difficult to decipher what we really desire anymore, because everyone else thinks they know better than we do.

So when the time comes when you have a very real want, that is important. It is meaningful. We’re always seeking ways to make ourselves happier, but feeling a real connection with something, truly believing it will put you on the road to a better phase of your life, you need to own that. Being able to say to yourself with conviction, “I want that job/house/partner/peace of mind/etc.” and mean it is a beautiful thing, and it should not be taken for granted. And by telling yourself, by saying, outloud “I WANT THAT,” you’re actually giving yourself permission to hope. And, more importantly, to do something about it.

There is something to be said for dwelling on the things we are striving for. If you are applying for a great job that you very much want to land, and you tell yourself all the time that you are qualified and would be great at it, and you daydream about how your life will be when you get it, wouldn’t you think that would affect how you approach applying? Wouldn’t you write a better cover letter because your head is already filled with your positive traits? Or walk into your interview prepared and confident because your mind’s inertia is already moving in that direction?

Cynicism is rampant these days–I should know, I’m the cynic sarcasmo supremo–so we tend to shy away from enthusiasm and hope. We’re often so afraid of disappointment that we would rather not want anything in the first place. But that line of thinking is all wrong. Your perception is your reality, and your thoughts, your mental inertia, color your perception. By simply stating your wants and your goals (maybe even writing them down) and then allowing yourself to fill up with anticipation and belief that these things are possible and that you’re worthy of them, well, that will open up a whole new world of possibilities. A few happy thoughts and a self-sure statement of purpose are the first steps to a bright and shiny future.

I’m a slightly noir chick. If I’m saying this stuff, well, you should just take my advice.

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Please Keep Your Thoughts to Yourself

Let me set a scene for you: it’s December 24th. My aunt and uncle’s home is decked and tinseled to the nth degree, the table is laden with handmade pierogies and spice cookies and egg nog, seasonal tuneage is practically coming out of the walls. The youths of the family have gathered around the dessert table to chat without the dark cloud of our parental units hanging over us. The conversation is light and fun and yay-holidays! My brother, Phil, is thrilled that his (lovely! wonderful! TOTALLY AWESOME!) girlfriend, Taylor, has joined us for the evening, and she is fitting in splendidly. We are having a swell time.  (Did I just say “swell?”) All is well.

Leave it to my aunt, Lu, to ruin such a cheery scene. Right in the middle of our Christmas gathering, she deemed it fit to tell Taylor (who she had never met prior to this night) to break up with my brother. She listed a good half dozen negative qualities about Phil (which are untrue, by the by) and suggested Taylor come back in a few years after he “grows up.” Yes, this was appropriate holiday conversation in her eyes because, for Lu, there is never a bad time to say exactly what’s on her mind.

Thankfully, Taylor was eloquent enough to ignore Lu’s insensitive outburst, but we all heard it. We all heard her open her big fat mouth and say very disrespectful, hurtful things about her nephew to the girl he loves and who loves him back. I WAS LIVID.

(And still am, as a matter of fact.)

Lu does this. She says exactly what she thinks all the time because she thinks she has not only the right to speak her mind, but the obligation to do so. In her opinion, she’d be doing people a disservice by not telling them how she feels about something. But so often, the opinions she shares are not compliments or constructive criticism: they’re downright cruel. She’s had a problem with plenty of my life choices, and has never had a problem making that fact known, even though my choices don’t affect her life in the slightest.

Does this remind you of anyone? People giving unsolicited opinions on things that don’t even matter? People who voluntarily feed negativity into the world because they think it therefore they must say it?

It reminds me of way more people than I’d like: My uncle who called me “Granny” when I was growing up because of my glasses; the girl who turned around in math class in the 9th grade to say, “You know, you’re really weird.”; overly unpleasant customers at some of my past jobs. They all toe the line between bullying and “I’m just saying,” but it still stings.

I always thought everyone was taught that if you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.  Apparently, many people missed that lesson. I just…I don’t get it. I don’t understand meanness. There’s enough hurt in this world. Why do people want to poison the waters even more with their venom?

I don’t enjoy reading celebrity tabloids because they’re just an excuse to pick apart people’s lives. They are people. Not art, meant to be critiqued. People. If I see mean things on Facebook or Twitter I just defriend/unfollow. I don’t need to read other people’s hateful words. I’d like to fill my life with as much positivity as possible, thank you very much.

But, hey, I guess I’m not exempt from this. I did just write a post complaining about people registering for gifts, when, really, what’s the harm? There is none. So I need to brush up on my own policy. But I just wanted to throw it out there. With all the wars and natural disasters and economic bullshit going on, can’t we all try to be a little kinder to each other?I think we’ve all suffered enough.

I’ll hold my tongue if you hold yours.

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Tim Allen just made me think…

It is a rare thing, finding wisdom hiding in a TV commercial. But I just heard this little gem on a Pure Michigan ad:

“Sometimes life isn’t just about finding yourself; it’s about creating yourself.”

Well, damn. Yes, yes it is. Thank you, voice of Tim Allen, for making me think, and for helping me remember a point I have been meaning to make.

I hear people say, frequently, that if something is meant to be, it will happen. That notion of god closing a door and opening a window has been thrown in my face many a time. And I have a large Catholic family and a very religious mother who promote prayer whenever life presents you with pretty much anything, be it hope or hardship. “It doesn’t hurt to pray about it,” my mom tells me on a weekly basis.

All of these mindsets, I believe, allow a certain amount of inaction, and that bothers me. To me, life is not about sitting back and letting things happen to you and around you; it is about going out and making shit happen. I believe that very very firmly. And while some people are comforted by the notion that if they don’t get that job they were hoping for or that relationship didn’t work out, then, oh well, it wasn’t “meant to be,” I like to feel like I am in control of my destiny, even if that means taking responsibility for my failures.

I pissed and moaned for a month when I wasn’t getting a job after my college graduation. I put the blame on everybody else: “No one wants to give me a chance”; “If they’d just meet me they’d like me.”; “Well she met me and was clearly put off by my beauty, so, psh, fuck her.” It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that maybe I just wasn’t qualified. Maybe I wasn’t the brilliant interviwee I thought I was. And maybe, just maybe, just because I am a writer doesn’t mean I have any fucking idea how to write a fucking cover letter. While that realization certainly stung, it put me back in control. How does one become qualified? Education and experience, so I’d have to either start at lower level gigs, or go back to school. How does one improve her interview skills? Um…OK, well, I’m still not sure about that one. Practice…being normal? How does one become a better applicant? Research and writing writing writing until something starts sounding less like crap.

Even if taking responsibility meant that I was lacking, I had the opportunity to improve and move on. By saying that it simply wasn’t meant to be takes all the control out of my hands and gives it to the ether. That’s just too scary. If I don’t have some say in what happens to me, then what am I doing here? I don’t believe I am a pawn being moved around by god. I don’t believe in fate. Or destiny. So how can I believe some things are simply meant to be. I can’t.

I believe in taking action and creating the life you want. That’s what I believe.

And it all occurred to me thanks to a tourism ad. Who woulda thunk it?

Yeah, I heard this quote about creating yourself rather than finding yourself  it just rang so true. You can look for yourself all you want, or you can go out and make yourself. You can pray about your crappy car 24/7, or you can go get it fixed. I love my mom, but maybe if she prayed a little less about my dad’s drinking and made a few more decisions about what to do about it, maybe he would be sober by now, or maybe his drinking wouldn’t be her problem anymore. Just a crazy thought.

If you are one of those people comforted by prayer and a belief in that-which-is-meant-to-be, and it works for you, and you’re happy, I guess, go for it. But I for one want to be able to take action. I would rather hold my destiny tight in my fist than hand it to someone else and say, “Do with me what you will.”

Now that I’m claiming control of my life, the question becomes: What self am I hoping to create? What life am I hoping to create?

Aye, there’s the rub. The motherfucking rub.

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I may come to your baby shower…

…but don’t expect me to be happy about it.

WARNING: I may offend some people with this one. Or hurt some feelings. I don’t want to start a family coup or anything, but this is how I feel. Deal with it.

I believe in the value of tradition. But some traditions just aren’t valid anymore. Tradition for tradition’s sake is STUPID. Embracing my Polish grandmother’s heritage and eating humble cabbage and hand-rolled kluski noodles on Christmas Eve, I think, is a wonderful tradition: it reminds me of where I came from, and of a different world in which my Gram grew up. We all know that no January 1st has ever brought with it any notable divergence from December 31st, but in believing that it will and celebrating the turn of the New Year, we really do find a more optimistic mindset, thus this tradition can be a beautiful thing.

Wedding and baby showers, however, are not.

These shindigs began as modest little get-togethers where people gave the happy couple a little something to get them started, or to show support for young parents. It was not about financing someone else’s life choices.

This is not 1920. Two 18 year old kids are not moving right out of their parents’ homes and into their honeymoon cottage with nothing but love between them. And there are no social norms insisting that married couples start producing offspring immediately any longer. When two people have already lived together for four years and already own a toaster, a blender, and a full set of pots and pans, where do they get off registering for a bunch of shit?! You are literally telling people, “I have made a choice in my own life. Because you purport to love me, buy me one of these things to show me that you are happy that I have made said choice.” It is RUDE. It is…tacky.

And baby showers, well, as much as I love babies, there are several hundred things I’d rather be doing than playing infant-themed games and not being allowed to say the word “baby” at a party about a baby. Gag. Plus, again, you chose to have a kid. You want your kid to have all this nice stuff, then you go out and buy it. Children are expensive. If you can’t afford it, don’t have a kid. When I choose to have a kid, it will be because I am emotionally and financially ready. I wouldn’t ask you to set up a college fund for my kid, don’t ask me to buy you a $300 car seat.

[Note: The only time I find baby showers acceptable are “Oops!” babies. When a young girl gets knocked up and doesn’t have a plethora of resources, I can justify a party where people give her the necessities: diapers, wipes, bottles, simple baby clothes, maybe everyone goes in on a crib. No frilly expensive little dresses the baby will only fit into for one week. No elaborate room decor. No bells-and-whistles toys for a baby who won’t even be interested in toys for 6 months. A baby shower in the original spirit of a shower: a little push in the right direction.]

Now, I am happy for my friends and family when they get married or bring babies into this world. And I am always touched when they want to include me in their momentous life events. I attended a baby shower just today and donned the flowery skirt and fawned over my round glowing friend. I bought a present off her registry (the cheapest thing on it because, hey, I’m a nanny: I’m not rolling in the dough) and knitted a teensy little hat. But don’t think for one second I was having a ball today. I enjoy a decent meal, and I loved seeing her all big and ecstatic, but even at a shower for one of my very dearest friends I was annoyed as hell. If I wanted to knit the little-girl-to-be a hat, I could have done it of my own volition. But no, I had to do it because it was cheaper to top a gift with a hat than a card. And no matter how happy I am for a young couple thrilled to bring a new life into this world, I simply CANNOT be happy about playing dorky games and watching Mommy open gift after fluffy pink gift.

Does this make me heartless? Maybe. Do I care? Not in the slightest.

Now, say, someone threw you a shower. You were getting married and your mom and soon-to-be mother-in-law teamed up and surprised you with a little party, and therefore there was no registry and people could just buy you something from the heart, something they thought you would want or need because they just fucking wanted to, that’s fine. That’s lovely. That’s not your fault. But if you’ve walked through a store with a price gun and scanned a gravy boat because it’s vital for a new married couple to have one of those, then, you bother me. I may love you, I may even buy you that goddamn gravy boat, but know that I am growling on the inside.

I am a contrary little snot, I know this about myself. But I don’t think my disdain for celebratory showers is purely out of a desire to be on the outside: I believe my argument is valid. What was once a pure little party for youngsters taking on the world is now a dog and pony show, and it sickens me a bit.

If and when I walk down the aisle or decide to squeeze out a kid, I PROMISE, I won’t register for a thing. I would sooner cut off my hand than ask people to fund my future. And, if some evil force possesses me and I do have a registry with my name on it, kill me. Just…kill me dead. Or find a priest to exorcise me.

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