Secret Lives of Kindergartners

“Tell me another story, Joey!” cried the middle sister as we sat outside in the evening air. The oldest was inside watching a movie and playing on her phone. I think she’s gotten to an age where it’s not cool to be seen with her lame aunt.

Once I get started with a story about something funny that happened to me, or sometimes about something that irritated me, the middle one always wants to hear more. I think it’s in the way I tell it, because the stories themselves are not so interesting, but I inject a little enthusiasm along with my afterthoughts on the situations that make the little ones laugh like crazy. Bear in mind, most people probably wouldn’t find my stories funny and would quickly tune me out, but the little ones think they’re hilarious. So I began to tell another story, and in between breaths, the little one kept popping up with her own stories. The older one was upset because she wanted to hear more Joey stories and kept trying to shush her little sister. But we listened to one of her stories and for a moment, I thought, Wow, I don’t remember anything like that happening when I was in Kindergarten! And I wondered what crazy things go on that I haven’t heard about because they don’t think enough of it to tell me. Sharing gum? Picking things off the floor and eating it? Shoving things in their noses? I wouldn’t think to tell anyone of those things, either, if it were just an everday event. Nothing special or peculiar about that stuff in the mind of a kid that age.

“And I threw my hair on the floor and everyone was looking at it saying, ‘Is that your hair?'” she said, laughing. To give a little more detail into how it actually sounded from her lips, her pronunciation of certain words is still like that of a younger child, with her “r’s” like “w’s” so that to spell it out phonetically it would be something like “hayew.” And “floor” would be “flow.”

“It’s blonde and you have blonde hayew, and I said, ‘No, no, dat’s not my hayew!'”

I can imagine the look on my own face. It was a mix of amusement and confusion. “So let me get this straight. Your threw your hair on the ground?” I know I asked a billion questions before getting the whole story.

“I was wunning my fingews thwough my hayew and some came out and I thwew it on da gwound and Alex picked it up and said, ‘Eww! Is dat yo hayew?’ and I said, ‘No, it’s not mine! It’s not mine!’ and evwyone said, ‘But it’s blonde like yo’s and I said ‘No, no, it’s not mine! It’s not mine!'” She repeatedly stressed the part about how she denied the hair was hers. And then she repeated it again. And again, each time laughing and sticking her tongue out as she tried to pronounce her words in between giggles, shaking her head with her long blonde hair tossing from side to side. There was something in the way she said it that made me laugh even harder. And made me hope she’d never grow up.

“EWWWWW! HE PICKED IT UP?!?” cried the older tot. And myself. Almost simultaneously.

We all laughed. It was a mix of pure hilarity, horrified disgust, and sympathy over the poor tyke’s embarrassing situation. Sure, she might only be in Kindergarten, but I thought for a moment how many times I had found myself in a situation like that, and if I would have pulled it off with the “grace” and assertion of that little Kindergartner.

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BOOBIES!

Now that I have your attention, I’d like to talk about the topic at hand. And it segues into something that happened to me about four years ago that I’m just now talking about publicly because I found the entire situation embarrassing.

A few weeks ago, after getting stood up on a date, I decided I wasn’t about to let a good makeup day go to waste. So I made a Youtube video. Then I got a message talking about how big my boobs are. Needless to say, I decided henceforth that I would be more aware of the camera angle. I assumed my weight would overshadow all else so I thought nothing of it. But when I made the resignation to position the camera just above my chest, I felt like Elvis on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Now, I know there are some people who are so judgemental that they think I’m deliberately taking photos from certain angles to show them off. I’ve heard this said about other girls, so why should it be any different for me?

While I’m fully aware of my size, be it my weight or my chest, I generally don’t think much about it. I’m just me. At the same time, I don’t want other people focusing on it, either. At one point I was a little more guarded when I took pictures, because it came with a catch. Sure, I could hide my breasts in photos, but that would also mean I wouldn’t be showing my weight. So, when people saw me in person, or when they saw me in other pictures where both were obvious, they seemed a bit taken aback. It made me even more insecure because as someone who has struggled with my weight, I also felt like they might have been more shocked about that. I felt like I was making myself prone to weight jokes if people were to be caught by surprise by my actual appearance, because I’ve heard every weight crack in the book and figured it would be better to just put that out there. Sadly, most of the “fat” comments were (and are) from the people that I should rely on not to say those things. In a way I got into a thinking-pattern that I’m just fat and disregarded the size of my bra because my weight was the focus of the people I knew. It wasn’t like I was built like a model, so I didn’t think my boobs would be a big deal. Until I started getting every big-breast comment until I’ve heard just about every single one. While the people around me made a big deal about my weight, creepsters on the street that I’d never met before were talking about my chest!

I don’t make much of an effort to cover my acne, and a little scarring, because that’s a part of who I am and while it gets me down, I minimise it by not making it an issue. But if someone were to give me friendly advice, I would take it in the light it is intended even if I’ve tried their “sure-fire” remedy already. However, I don’t feel that it warrants anyone to come up to me and just say something about it to assuage their own spiteful sense of Shadenfreude. Nor would I feel my weight should inspire anyone to take it upon themselves to be rude to me about it. And I definitely don’t think my chest should be the subject of concern to complete strangers.

Men are always judging what kind of breasts they like, condemning some for being too small, and others for being too saggy. I find it irritating because I understand that people have a preference with things, but there is a thing called “science.” Biologically, a woman’s breast size is determined by her estrogen receptors. And no matter what the size, there is a thing called “gravity.” And I apologise that nature is getting in the way of someone’s ability to achieve sexual arousal. And then they talk about how women dress like sluts because they wear a tank top, or possibly something slightly revealing. Or maybe because they wear a tight top. And they say that these girls want guys to look. And the slut label isn’t only given to females who are taking birth control or like to dress a certain way, but also to those who have higher estrogen receptors.

And to all the women out there who have helped to stigmatise the male-dominating and female-depreciating attitude, I can’t thank you enough. I hear women talk about how other women shouldn’t dress in such a way if they don’t want a guy to look. Or comment. Or…worse. And there is a big difference between someone just looking and someone being rude about the situation, but what if someone, say for instance, has a bad case of acne? There’s a difference between our intrinsic human nature of “stealing a glance” and the rudeness of “gawking.” I understand that people are going to look, whether what they’re seeing is pleasing or displeasurable to the eye, but most people would have the good sense not to stare at someone with acne. So what makes breasts any different? But as far as clothes, I also feel like that’s saying I can’t wear what I like, or what makes me feel good, or what is suited to the Texas weather, and if I do, then people have the right to treat me however they wish. Would people say the same because I choose not to wear foundation to cover up my imperfections for fear that I might forget it one day and I’m afraid people would be shocked at how I look without it? And despite clothing, I’ve received commentary no matter what I wear. Even if I wear something oversized and baggy, like my favourite Marilyn Manson shirt! So the argument on “people are going to look” is null and void, and that applies to any situation in my opinion. How can we say it’s wrong to stare at someone’s “imperfections” because they don’t cover it up, and why should they? But on the other hand, it’s okay to stare at someone’s chest!

And yes, I’m familiar with a thing called, “Modesty.” I understand that there are some ways that wouldn’t be considered appropriate, but I also feel it’s a little unfair because the thing is, on me, some clothes might make me stand out (no pun intended) a little more than if I were an A-cup. It might even be a little more noticeable on me than if I were a C-cup. But I wear what I like, and sometimes I feel I’m persecuted for the misconception that I want to show them off!

Now, I have to give a little background. I don’t always dress with the utmost modesty. I do try to accentuate my curves a little since I’m trying to detract attention away from my waistline. But I always try to dress nicely. I wear things for myself, and while people may think I’m trying to get attention because I dress goth, or because I may wear something that is more revealing, I’m just being ME. But this is where things get rough, and the stigmas don’t help matters.

This happened around four years ago. It was around my budgie’s birthday, and I was trying to decide on some gifts to buy for her. I’m quite shy unless I’m in a one-on-one or feel comfortable with the people I’m surrounded by. It verges on social anxiety. Anyway, as I stood there I could feel my shyness coming over me. I was in an isolated aisle and thought to myself, “No one is going to even bother paying attention to you! Stop being so self-conscious!” So, I calmed myself down. And a man came up and introduced himself with an air of importance so I wondered what was up, but there was something that didn’t feel right so I gave him the name “Jo,” because if he was as important as he’d presented himself I wouldn’t really be lying, and if my instinct was right that he was a threat, he wouldn’t know my whole name. He offered to take me out but I declined, and he pushed. So I said I had a boyfriend, which I did at the time. And he continued to press me to go out to lunch with him. That went on, and finally he asked for a hug and said he would leave after that. I don’t remember if I answered but the next thing I knew he hugged me. I stood completely still, as if it were a primal instinct to camoflauge myself somehow. I felt a little uneasy, but it was over before I knew it and I thought things were going to be fine. Until the whole thing started up again, about how he’d like to take me out despite my firm stance that I was involved with someone. He asked for another hug and by this time I just felt a bit more violated and intimidated. I’m a bit short, and he was pretty big, and I kept thinking maybe I could just side-step him because I didn’t want to isolate myself because of where I was standing in the aisle. And finally, he asked for another hug. And that time he groped me and proceeded to ask humiliating questions. Just how big are they, and what are their names? Then he gave me a pen and paper to write my email address, so visibly shaking I started to write a couple different ones and scratched them out after jotting the first few letters, and opted to write an old address I had and I changed my information on it as soon as I got home.

I was really upset, and my mom, who was in the store with me that day, called my cell phone. SAVE! Because he backed off a bit and his disposition changed from what I felt as threatening to pleasantly conversational. I’d read up enough on this kind of thing to know that predatory types will often adopt a suddenly likeable attitude after victimising someone. But I was in such a panic at the time because I didn’t want to upset him for the sole purpose of what little safety I felt in that moment. I giggle when I’m happy but particularly when I’m nervous! I didn’t report him because I thought, if there were security cameras, it would look like I didn’t say anything in my own defense and that I was inviting him into my space by smiling. And what if they couldn’t find him? He might retaliate. I don’t know that I could have even described him in my fog. And sadly, I also knew the mentality of men (though there are some stand-up kinda guys out there who wouldnn’t have condoned that kind of treatment toward anyone!), and because I also knew some women would feel the same. I was really shaken about the whole thing. Plus, I asked myself, was it really that bad to file a report? I mean, he only grabbed my chest. It wasn’t like he did anything more, and maybe I did invite him by not specifically saying, “No,” so maybe it was my fault. How could I report someone for not making my stance clear? And yeah, I’d heard everything in the book and while simliar things have happened to me, to a lesser degree because I’d been around people or I’d had close shaves to where there was no opportunity, this instance really scared me. And confused me. And embarrassed me.

I told some people close to me about it. The first question they asked was, “What were you wearing?” I even got that question from a girl-friend of mine. Maybe it’s just me. But I would never. Ever. Want any girl, at any age, to feel that they can’t report someone because they brought it upon themselves because of what they were wearing. But just what was I wearing, for those inquiring minds who have to know?

A Snoopy shirt I had just gotten for my birthday. It was the first time I had worn it. It had a more modest fit than some of my clothes, and I had a sweater jacket over it. My chest was not being flaunted, although admittedly a little accentuated because of the style of the jacket.

In the time that followed the incident, I would have panic attacks in stores when I found myself alone, as if just having a little social anxiety isn’t bad enough. When I’m in that same store I still have even worse attacks when I’m near that area, and I didn’t wear my Snoopy shirt for a long time after that. Mentally, the situation ate away at me. I didn’t speak up because he had made me feel so intimidated. That was also part of why I didn’t report it. And another reason I didn’t report him was because I thought people would say I invited the attention somehow. That it was my fault for not speaking up to begin with, or something that I did to make me deserve it. And I was afraid that the whole thing would be written off and I’d run into him again. But what made it worse?

I didn’t stand up for myself. I let it go, because I didn’t think highly enough of myself to have spoken up to him in my defense, or to remedy the feeling of helplessness after that by making a report. I wondered so many times what I would have done if things had escalated, and it was frightening to think that I would have ever allowed something like that happen. I think part of why I didn’t have the confidence level at that time was attributed in part to my boyfriend at the time. In the several years I was with him, he had managed to bring me down. I had to rebuild myself after our breakup and didn’t realise how the way he treated me had taken a toll on me as an individual.

Nowadays, it would have been a different story. I would have pepper-sprayed his ass. Then I would have filed a report. I know now that if someone invades my space, even if they seem non-threatening, I have the right to politely let them know. I don’t really even have to be polite about it if I don’t want to. I have every right to let someone know if I’m feeling uncomfortable, because sometimes you have to be your own advocate. And I think if this had been in a more isolated area, and given half a chance, he would have tried to take things a step further. It bothers me that I know in my heart this logically wouldn’t have been the first time, nor the last, that he would have attempted something of that sort. And how many times has he gone unreported? How far has he taken it with other people? Because someone who has the audacity to grab someone in a public place, isolated or not, is obviously of a predatory mentality.

And upon reflection, I was and am upset at the attitude society has taken upon women. On one hand, I feel like people are judging me and my intention because I take a picture that doesn’t try to hide the size of my chest, even though I may be wearing a tee shirt. And on the other hand, I’m upset because this same stigma of “deserving” or “leading someone on” or just of being a female, had become so ingrained in me that I didn’t do anything about the situation.

And while getting drunk at a party to a point where you have no idea what is going on isn’t a wise choice, it’s still not her fault that someone decides to assault her. How many times do we hear stories of guys getting into drunken arguments and they get into a fight that ends up in a death? We don’t say, “Oh, well he should’ve known better, he was drinking and got killed but he put himself in that situation so it was his fault.” People are even more protective over material things than women! If you leave your cardoor unlocked and someone steals it, or you don’t lock your house before leaving, however unwise that may seem, it’s still theft. It’s not like the crime is written off because of an unwise decision on the victim’s part.

So imagine for a moment that you find out that something terrible has happened to someone you love, and that they chose to keep quiet because they are afraid of being judged or because they believe something bad that happened to them to be their fault. It would break my heart to know that a loved one, or anyone, felt that way. We can’t have that attitude unless we want kids learning from the things we say. Not only are young girls going to adopt an air of submission when something bad happens to them, but what message would we be sending to young boys?


Seiki: Rising Star

Seiki, one of the hottest on the Hip Hop scene! With an album due out next year and an ever-growing fan base, it was an honour and a privilege to be the first to snag this interview with him, featured on CreativeEdgeMusic.com!

http://www.creativeedgemusic.com/2013/02/seiki-hip-hops-rising-star.html

You can check out his music right here http://www.youtube.com/user/vgspook19semipro/featured and if you like what you hear, be sure to *Like* his fanpage on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/SeikiHipHop


My Photographer

“Work it, Girlfriend!” she said as she snapped some random pictures of me. Then she snatched the visor off my head. “No one wears these anymore, Joey!” her voice stern as she tossed it aside. My face was frozen in shock for a moment after having a nine year old tell me I was out of style. She calls me Joey. I don’t know how that started, but I don’t remember her calling me by any other name, either.

“Okay, now stand like this,” she said, showing me how to pose, but when I failed to mirror her properly she had to manually pose me like a Barbie doll. One foot here, my arm bent like so, and don’t smile! “Now try to be cool!” So…I tried. Apparently that wasn’t good enough. “You’re trying too hard! Don’t try. Just be! Like me!”

From there, she proceeded to explain to me how you don’t try to be one thing or another. You just let it sort of flow through your veins and manifest as coolness somehow, at least that’s what I’m guessing because I couldn’t get it right then and I can’t get it right now.

So the moral of this story is, no matter how cool you try to be or think you are, there’s always a nine year old out there to tell you otherwise. Or sometimes a five year old. Or a twelve year old. And they also like to make fun of you in front of the really cute waiter at the restaurant to where you’re blushing and laughing so hard that you want to just crawl under the table. “Oooooh, I see you looking at him!” “You’re trying to act all girly!” “Oooooh, he gave you extra candies ‘cos he likes you!”

Just deliver my plate down here, under the table. I’m too humiliated to face anyone. Too humiliated, but too hungry to pass up the meal. Oh well…The extra Andes mints helped heal some of those emotional wounds from that embarrassing day.