Monthly Archives: September 2013

Volunteer Opportunities and Deep Seeded Issues

Last month I made a decision to volunteer some of my time at the Literacy Center of West Michigan, tutoring adults in reading and writing and also ELL (English Language Learners). I was pretty pleased with myself and the new found resolve to use some of my time for good instead of evil. If by evil we can agree that I mean stalking Donnie Wahlberg on twitter. What I didn’t realize was that I would have a litany of hoops to jump through to even be considered as a volunteer, the most imposing of which was a one-on-one interview with a “literacy liaison” that took place earlier this evening. 

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I sailed through the initial orientation, even though the elderly gentleman running the show was visibly startled at the sight of me. I was cordial, attentive and asked relevant questions like any good English major knows to do. I consented to a criminal background check with only a slight cringe (that delinquent speeding ticket has come back to bite me before). I trooped through a guided tour of the facilities and pretended not to notice the piles of paperwork on most of the desks, although that did give me an idea as to why my initial inquiry email went unanswered for several days. And there I was letting it affect my self-esteem. I didn’t reel when they informed me that I’d need to complete a series of four classes, all more than three hours in length, and I didn’t even balk when I realized that my “classmates” were all seemingly bored (and terribly dressed) housewives. And one appropriately frumpy librarian. I was sure to be the hip tutor, the one everyone wanted to work with. Or…I would alienate the men and women from cultures that frown on brash, tattooed, pierced women with a penchant for red lipstick. Either way. 

I was cool as a cucumber (assuming that cucumber has been properly refrigerated) until I had to sit down for my one-on-one interview today. Truthfully, it wasn’t even an interview. I sat at a conference table with a super-old lady and she asked me all the same questions I had already answered on my very detailed application. But she did it while looking me dead in the eyes. I returned the favor by awkwardly staring at her eyebrows, which stopped being eyebrows halfway through and decided to become randomly placed smudges of rusty makeup instead. Eye contact makes me extremely uncomfortable. Is it really necessary to search my soul for five uninterrupted minutes while asking me which library would make the most convenient meeting place? Was she looking for hidden meaning behind my perfectly timed nods and intermittent “uh huhs”? Or had she read in a self-help book that when interviewing one must assert dominance by putting the fear of being inhabited by a poltergeist in the interviewee? I don’t have the answers. I just have the uncomfortable fidgeting and shifty glances to shade the windows to my soul. I understand making occasional eye contact to show that I’m not socially inept, and I can handle that. I legitimately fall apart when someone locks in, however. I’m the same with platonic touching, which is a fact that my roommate exploited quite a few times tonight. Snuggle time is my worst nightmare. Especially if that snuggling includes eye contact or a one-on-one interview. That’s a scenario I might actually be willing to brave just for the story, though. I’ll keep you all posted. 

 

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Shifty behavior aside, I am officially signed up for the four required classes in October and well on my way to making a difference (positive, this time) in the lives of fellow Grand Rapidians. 

And I probably need therapy. 

Katy Perry and Pumpkin Spice

The temperature has finally dipped below 70, so that means fall fever has hit. I’m not immune to this phenomenon, in fact, I may be more susceptible to trends than most. I sense the slightest chill in the air and my mouth starts watering for pumpkin-spice flavored…anything, really. I love fall. I love the necessity to wear layers, I love boots, I love the smell of the fresh air and the fact that it’s not obligatory to be outdoors as much. I love Halloween.

2012

2012

Halloween is my favorite holiday because it involves costume, candy and loads of makeup. It’s basically the one day a year I get to be a drag queen. It’s also the time of year I majorly stress about costume choice. I always try to be at least a little bit funny/original while still maintaining the required level of slut-factor. Basically, if I can’t wear fishnets and fake eyelashes, I’m not interested. I tend to cleverly disguise my blatant slutercizing in punchline costumes, most of which, in recent years, have related directly to what hairstyle I have at the time. When I was growing out my bangs I dressed as “Extra Virgin Olive Oyl”. With a super-short pompadour I femmed up “Big Boy” (of restaurant fame). With an awkward shaved side and mohawk, I got smart and threw on a pink wig, becoming Jem from Jem and the Holograms. It was truly outrageous. When it was time to grow out that awkward shaved side and mohawk, I took advantage of the shag and dressed as Edward (Edwina?) Scissorhands. And yes, I wore fake eyelashes throughout it all.

2010

2010

Now, however, I’m a little chunkier than I used to be. My curves have turned into wide turns and it gets harder to throw sexy in the mix without giving someone a craving for cottage cheese. So with that in mind I thought I’d try dressing up as “Katy Perry, ten years from now”. Even though we’re technically the same age, KP looks like a precocious teenager who out-perks herself every day while I lament over an unfair amount of gray hair and hoist my lady lumps up to a socially acceptable latitude. But I’m optimistic. I predict that the second her cotton candy-fueled fame train runs out of sugar and auto-tune, she’ll fall apart quicker than her marriage to Russel Brand. Double D’s can’t defy gravity forever, Katy! It seems like a good use of my sagging fluffy bits and blunt bangs to capitalize on what I’m sure will be the hilarity of her future undoing, for strictly Halloween purposes. Plus, I’ve always wanted an excuse to wear candy and cupcakes as clothing.

Like this, only much worse.

Like this, only much worse.

In the past, my joke costumes have required me to wear some sort of signage to alert the general public to my hilarity and I’m sure this will be no different. When I combined angel wings, devil horns, a kitty tail, a cheerleader skirt, fishnets (obvi) and a French maid’s garter, I also had to wear a t-shirt that said “Every F-ing Girl, Ever”. And it was still confusing to people. When I dressed as “Extra Virgin Olive Oyl”, I plastered a “no entry” sign to the downstairs of my Popeye-loving costume and still had to explain myself. I’m open to suggestions about how to not-so-subtly let the public know that I’m dressed as Katy Kat after years of “letting herself go” and assure them that I’m not gross and delusional. Well, not delusional, anyway.

I guess I still need to think on it. Here’s to fall. My favorite season and my favorite holiday. Bring on the lash adhesive and the pumpkin spice!

Live Free or Diatribe

Strap in, folks. This is another one of those posts where I gush about something awesome and basically force you to love it too. Here it goes:

I’ve written about “The Drunken Retort” before, the Monday night open-mic extravaganza that made me feel cool just by association. Well, everything I thought was so amazing about Monday nights has exploded all over the face of Grand Rapids in the form of The Diatribe. They’re seven dudes from around town who decided that GR’s claim to fame, Artprize, could benefit from a good kick in the societal nuts via spoken word poetry. And I think they’re right. These guys have put together the first blind/deaf friendly exhibit in Artprize’s short history in order to prove that art is all-inclusive. Nobody should miss out. And you shouldn’t either. If you don’t already plan to come check out Artprize this year, I demand that you do. It’s a great event for our city in general, but there’s something special happening this year with my friends in the Diatribe (using the word “friends” loosely to give myself more street cred). Come witness history being made.

The Info

The Info

There’s a different vibe in the air on Monday nights at Stella’s now that Artprize is almost here. The excitement is palpable. It was really breathtaking to witness the shoulder-to-shoulder capacity last night and to literally vibrate with the energy of everyone all together, supporting each other in art. You know it’s good if it makes me write about feelings. (Yuck). Last night, the same poems I had heard so many times before had a renewed vigor, not just for the poets who performed them, but for me as a fan as well. I was swept up in the funnel cloud of dreamers that was the back bar at Stella’s and I wasn’t the only one. With Artprize 2013 will come a revolution. A convocation of like-minded Grand Rapidians who were bursting at the midwestern seams with dissatisfaction, passion, plans, potential and straight-up flow. They figured out how to say what needs to be said and they’re bringing us all along for the ride. I advise you to hop on and grip tight, because…”if The Diatribe doesn’t win Artprize, we riot.”

We will.

We will.

There are other poets in the city who aren’t in the Diatribe (yet?) who also consistently blow my mind. One in particular, who has me fan-girling out all over the place, is Rachel Gleason. I honestly just had to stop writing for a minute here, because I can’t think of anything to say that will even come close to describing her talent. You have to see it happen in front of your face. She will make you feel feelings (even if you hate feelings) and the break in her vulnerable voice will haunt you for the rest of your middle-class life. All the hair on my legs just grew back even thinking of her performance last night. So if she’s someone the Diatribe let slip through their all-dude fingers, you can only imagine the talent bursting out of their collective scrotum.

You can trust me when I say that if you don’t make it out to see (and vote for) the Diatribe during Artprize this year, your life will be worse. And you’ll probably lose all your hair and get eczema or something. I’m pretty much smitten with the entire idea and I’m not easily impressed (except by gyrating boybands). Rest assured that there is no gyrating, with the notable exception of a drunk Rachel Gleason, and there are no funky fresh choreographed dance moves. Just rhyming thoughts and microphones.

Wearing my support on my boobs.

Wearing my support on my boobs.

Sure, I may be on the hunt for a new obsession now that the New Kids on the Block summer tour has ended, but why not train that laser-like teenybopper focus on such a disgustingly talented group of local people? Exactly. I knew you’d see it my way.

Live free or Diatribe! Vote 55272 in Artprize this year!

Mirrors: Not a Justin Timberlake Song

I think Cher Horowitz said it best in Clueless when she said, “I never trust a mirror”. (Yep, two Clueless quotes in under a month. Get off me). If we’re all being honest with ourselves, or rather, if we aren’t, we can agree that mirrors are filthy liars who reflect whatever you’re feeling at the time. Snow White knew it. Cher knew it. We all know it. Knowing, however, is only half the battle. You have to acknowledge that the mirror is not accurate of what you’re truly showing the world, and then accept the true portrait when faced with large quantities of photographic proof. Let’s get literary for a moment. Mirrors are like Dorian Gray, and pictures are like that disgusting painting of Dorian Gray that’s rotting in the attic. Uh oh, we’re getting Wilde over here! Google that.

Juts bringing the hotness.

Juts bringing the hotness.

Facebook has made it especially hard for me to deny what I actually look like, as has my penchant for selfies via Instagram, Snapchat, whatever. I sometimes say, “I’m not a photogenic person” but at some point I have to own up to the fact that not every single candid shot can be wrong. I think it’s time to admit that I really, truly do look like that. That is honestly what I’m doing with my face when I’m sitting quietly in a meeting at work. When I want to appear to be listening intently, my brain pulls the lever and my whole head shifts back on my shoulders until I have not two, but three chins. This same “listening intently” face is also the one that happens automatically when someone points a camera at me. I have had to be told on several occasions not to make “the face”. But I’m a rebel. I’ll triple chin if I want. Online dating profile, here I come!

A picture is worth a thousand chins.

A picture is worth a thousand chins.

On the rare occasion when I get ready to go out on the town, I tend to blast some feel-good music and get inspired by my lipstick. I get that straightener out and tease some volume into my quirky locks and I smirk into the mirror before flouncing around to pick out shoes. I feel sexy. I’m ready to show the world what they’re missing and I’m ready to start with Instagram, so I raise an eyebrow and try to find that perfect midway between duckface and “What? That’s what my lips look like!” and bam! Click. It’s gotta be a great picture. I just saw my sexy self. Shouldn’t take long to caption and uploa—oh no.

Oh. So...that's, that's it.

Oh. So…that’s, that’s it.

That’s what I look like?! What the hell? Where did that extra skin come from? Is that a lazy eye?! I’m definitely getting a nose job. You can’t fix double chins with a sepia filter.
So I guess it comes down to what we’re willing to do about it. I, for one, just continue deluding myself with mirrors (or old, rotting paintings) until someone shoves the warm, squishy truth onto my timeline.

Untag!

The Shower Meltdown: A Story of Disproportionate Reaction

I’ve been floating a few tweets around about how my new clawfoot tub is neither practical nor entirely functional for a person of my size to shower in, but I feel it deserves a bit more attention. Especially after the ridiculous meltdown I just had in said clawfoot tub which almost resulted in my death.

As my roommates and I found out the hard way, the liner of the shower curtain needs to be completely inside the tub at all times during a shower. If not, water will flow directly onto the floor and soak the “super-absorbent” rug. The liner cannot only be inside the outer-facing side of the tub, because water will absolutely leak out the other side, through the not-at-all-water-tight space between the side of the tub and the wall and soak the “super-absorbent” rug. So, what started out as not that much space for me to stand in, initially, turned into an empty space the exact circumference of my body.

Pure Evil

Pure Evil

If having a space the exact circumference of my body in which to shower was my only problem, I may have avoided today’s near death experience. But it isn’t. The liner is basically two sheets of clear plastic that seem to be sucked in toward my body by some sort of fat-girl vortex, so that no matter what I do, or what temperature the water is (I thought perhaps it was a heat thing…I don’t know. I’m not a scientist), there is always wet plastic plastered against my wet, naked body while I’m trying to get fresh and clean. Always. This aggravates me on a good day.

As luck would have it, today isn’t a good day. I’ve been swirling around in a funk and my only explanation is a combination of years of pent-up emotions, my inability to process those feelings and a general distaste for my lack of accomplishment in all aspects of my life. Oh, and PMS. I don’t want to shock anyone, but underneath the LOLs and the constant snark, way down deep at the back of my psyche (behind all of my boyband facts and figures) feelings and emotions attempt to breed. They don’t know what they’re doing, though, so they usually end up manifesting in an inappropriate way, and it’s usually right around the time ol’ Eunice clears out my uterus. Curious.

feelings

I don't.

I don’t.

The manifestation of the hot ball of stressmotionings (stress, emotion and feelings), as you may have guessed, came in the form of a full-on meltdown in the shower today. I straight up could NOT deal with the wet plastic clinging to my wet body and I freaked. I was crying hot tears that pretty much cemented the leftover mascara to my face. I was repeatedly and frantically slapping at the plastic in an attempt to get it OFF me. I semi-hyperventilated and almost drowned. And then I made the near-fatal mistake. In an exasperated classic tantrum move, I stomped my feet and flailed my arms. Stomping in a slippery shower/bathtub is dangerous on its own, but stomping in a clawfoot tub with absolutely zero flat surface for standing is just plain suicidal.

Clearly I have survived the misplaced rage incident, but the fall was a close one. I will have a bruised bum and I can only be thankful that the roommates weren’t here to hear the embarrassingly loud thud. That clingy liner is just lucky I didn’t take it down with me.

See you next time I drink an entire box of wine, stressmotionings.