BEAUTIFUL: A Slam Poem

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It’s in the sight of the person who is looking.
But I’m the only one sneaking peeks.
I spent an hour in the bathroom this morning.
Shaving my legs.
Plucking my brows.
Straightening hair.
Exfoliating off dead skin.
Covering up lines and freckles.
Rubbing on shadow.
Lining my lids.
Putting mascara on my short lashes.
Brightening cheeks with blush.
Trying to plump up my top lip.
Why? Who for? Myself? Its worth? Some unknown man? His affections?
What is the standard of beauty? I miss new city living where I’m considered an exotic Venus not a small western town plain jane. Here, they want the blondes with sparkling baby blues and leggy limbs. With my frizzy hair and dark skin, I will never fit into that mass.
I miss getting hit on by random strangers. Men in their tight denim. Blokes on the corner block. They smoke their cigarettes and look me up and down. Whistle. Call me, PRETTY. A STUNNER.
I’m shallow. But they made that way. Those men. These women.
I know that I will never be a size two but do they? They push me into buying expensive products and teeny garments, insisting those things will make me feel better about myself; but do they? The creams. The fabrics.
I’m a product of damage. Hurtful words of on-lookers and my mother. My own mutilation wounds. Doubts that always collect in my brain.
How can I fix what they did to me? These bodily ruins?
No self-help book will heal me. Neither will a million hours of psychotherapy, even though I know I’m not crazy.
Even that garbage paste and fake skin- cover up- they to convince me to buy will not suffice.
I guess I’m on my own. I need to fix myself.
I don’t know how but I will.
I need to see the beauty within in order to see the beauty without.
Dress size 12. D cup.
Oily skin. Acne scars.
Fake, chipped teeth. Scratched glasses.
Cellulite. Stretch marks.
Filled with kindness, spunk and an empowering brain.
I’m a knockout.

For more poetry and fiction by ALT, please check out fictionbyandrea.wordpress.com.

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Decisions. Decisions. (Part II)

When I made the decision to go back to school in April, I thought that I finally had my life figured out. I was going to move back to Nevada, finish my degree, see old friends, get an awesome internship, graduate, get into a good social work grad program and move back to New York City. I was going to do all this and be HAPPY. I managed to cross off some of these things but of course, as life progresses; bad things often follow the good. I know that I’ve made some bad decisions in the past and I’m trying my best to fix them. Most of them involve money and my poor budgeting- school is not exception there. I defaulted this year on my student loans and as a result, am having a hard time getting financial aide for the upcoming fall semester. A friend earlier this summer generously offered to pay my tuition but more recently, had to take back that offer. Now, I won’t be able to afford school and can’t go. I’m now looking at not finishing school within my projected time frame, thus ruining my big dream plan. And I will admit- I’m regretting the majority of choices I made over the last couple of months.

As much as I’m trying to look at this turn of events as some sort of blessing in disguise, I wonder if this is just another sign. A sign to perhaps take one step back, back to where I was. All throughout the summer, I missed big city living. The sights. The different people. The pizza. It’s part of my big plan to move back to Brooklyn but now, I’m trying to figure out if I should bump up this point and make the move. Will I be satisfied venturing back East? I’m not sure I will be able to figure out school out there (here either) but now, I’m trying to figure out if my education is actually worth it. If staying in Nevada is worth it. I know that I’m not that bright and extremely unmotivated- school has always been a struggle. Jobs are still pretty scarce and I question if I will actually find a job that will make me excited about (even with an education/ diploma). Sometimes, especially lately, I wouldn’t mind just getting married and becoming a mother- you don’t need anything to do that (well, except a ring and some sperm)- but that could just be my loneliness talking.

It’s funny to find yourself at this crossroad every few months. Turn you head in one direction and discover another fork in the road that will lead you to another and yet another. As I’m trying to think things through and make the best decision, I try to remember a quote by Helen Keller, that I printed out and keep in my wallet- “Life is either a daring adventure or it nothing.”  The decisions I’ve made and will make, whatever the outcomes, hell- at least I made them.

I Want to Cry

Last week was another tough one. After losing one job, I went to another and was threatened by my boss about possibly losing that one. Being the sensitive one that I am, I spent the rest of my shift and my bike ride home crying. Yup, I’m a crier. A good book does make me tear up. I have a rule against watching “Extreme Makeover: the Home Edition.” A stranger can throw me a mean look that sends me to my room for hours, sobbing. I’ve been this way since youth and finally, I’m trying to recognize this emotional default and am trying to fix it.

I have always taken things a little too personally. I don’t have a reason why I do so. I guess I just consider everything to be my fault. Sure, most people seem to focus on their own troubles and may take out their frustrations on you on the wrong times (been there, done that plenty of times). We who are overly sensitive like to beat ourselves up a little too much.  Our lives, relationships and attitudes are overwhelmed with everyone else’s thoughts about us. We can never relax and attempt to go with the flow because everything triggers the tears. Why do we put ourselves through such torture?

How do you practice how to be less sensitive? As much I want to hide in my room with the door shut, I know that isn’t the way I should be living my life. I’ve been reading different perspective about this topics and have been taking baby steps on how to be bolder and stronger. I’m finally learning that not everything is my fault. Instead of taking things a little too personally, I’m becoming the shoulder for others to cry on. If something does cause me to break down, I have a mental list of calming techniques and steps on getting through and over that certain calamity. I finally now realized that my anxiety level is higher than most but there is nothing with that. I stopped looking for praise from others and their esteem boosters. It’s awful but people are cruel (even if they don’t intend to be). I just try to remain positive through my day and not let anything get in my way.

Life doesn’t have to get blown out of proportion and be insanely painful. It sound be fun and taken lightly. It’s not you; it’s just them. But please… don’t make me cry.

I Want to be James Franco

I have a big crush on James Franco. Sure, he’s a beautiful man but he also has the most amazing life story (I’ve always been impressed with people who have accomplished their long laundry of dreams by any means necessary). When Franco was in his teens, he was arrested multiple times for drugs, underage drinking and theft and fought not to go to prision. He was accepted to UCLA’s English program but dropped out to pursue acting. While training, he worked at McDonald’s and didn’t get any audition offerings until years later. He finally got offered a role on a television show that was canceled after its first couple of episodes (“Freaks and Geeks”). It took Franco a few years to get some smaller, more independent roles that were bashed by critics bashed and audiences alike until he was cast in “Spiderman.” Things took off for him then- the film scripts came rolling in. He wrote a book and a couple of articles that was widely published. Painting since his youth, some of Franco’s pieces were sold for high amounts of money. He started directing shorts and eventually became one of the most sought out actors in Hollywood. Franco hosted the Academy Awards two years go and since, has danced his way on Broadway and on to Gucci advertisements. Franco’s considered a sex symbol now and is a humanitarian, volunteering his time with children who have serious medical conditions and contribute the majority of his earnings to AIDS research. He returned to school not only to receive his Bachelor’s degree but to get his Master’s. And look at him now- a bunch of different awards under his belt and teaching a film class at New York University.

Pretty amazing, eh? I use people like Franco as an example. I think about all the things I want to be (an author, a filmmaker, a singer, a burlesque dancer, a fashion designer, etc.) and do with my life. I’ve always admired people who broke from their mold; saw that their life was going one way and decided to switch direction; people gave the finger to those who told them to get a 9-to-5 gig in some office (granted security is nice to have but is it something to slave away for?). I want to be that elderly woman sitting on her porch, telling her eight grand-kids about when she lived in Africa for three years helping a remote village, build a well or her first Oscar win, how she spun her own dubstep beats at Coachella or how she met their grand daddy by rescuing his sister from a burning building (okay, that last one sounds a bit scary). Sure, I’ve had a rough past, too, like Franco. But my dreams and ambition help keep me alive and scheming. I don’t want to live ordinarily, especially now…

Now, it comes to the tough part. How do I do all these things I want to do? It’s one thing dreaming about those dreams but it’s another to put your words into actions. I think about how I have the hardest time asking people for favors and help (that’s the reason I still don’t have my driver’s license- opps). But then I remember that I am one of the bravest people and biggest risk takers I know. I’ve made great life decisions in the snap of a finger when it came to relationships, family matters and school. I’m confident and courageous. I know that I have what it take to transform my dream list into awesome memories. I have always believed that I was special- I had an extra spark in me- and that I could accomplish more than most could. Maybe Franco thinks of himself in the same way.

Now, I’ll start if only I can learn how to not sleep though my alarm…

“You should be proud for the courage, the courage to think out loud.
Believe me- it won’t be easy but it’s surely not impossible.
Get up and fight to win…”

– CEE LO GREEN (Grammy winning vocalist, song writer and DJ)

From “BlissBOMBED”

I started reading Stephanie St. Clair’s site, BlissBOMBED when I was going through a difficult break-up back in Brooklyn last year. Her wise words reek of kindness and strength as she uses her life experiences to coach others. Below is her most recent posting. I hope that you dear reader, like me, can find inspiration in its message; not just its thoughts about living in NYC (just another reason why I love that city) but about trying to make the best out of any crummy situation…

Three years ago, in the middle of the night, I landed in New York. I had two suitcases, a twenty-dollar bill, some credit cards, and a high school diploma procured in the eighties. I didn’t know a soul, except for the nice recruiter man who had promised me a job interview Monday morning.

This is a (sorta) cool story for a freshly sprung college grad in their twenties. But I wasn’t. I was a 40-year-old single woman with three teenagers, starting over. And pretty much desperate after a heart-wrenching broken engagement and nine months of unemployment.

Sometimes life becomes murky. It feels disheveled and disorganized. You go down an alley and don’t see that you’re gonna end up with only Desperate Option #1, Shitty Option #2, and Never-Thought-I’d-Have-To-Do-This Option #3.

But thank God for options. I landed in New York and I was scared to the core. I felt like a tiny, half-lit ember floating in a literal ocean of human beings. I’ll tell you what saved me those first moments in New York: two decisions.

First, I decided that everyone was my friend and on a mission to help me. Yes, even the street side produce guy (he wanted to give me healthy fruit and veggies to fuel me). The cab driver. The Starbucks kid. The recruiter man…(none of the jobs he had lined up worked out)…but he and his wife took me to dinner. And right from that bar I was offered my first job by a stranger. I learned how to ask, and knock, and say yes, and speak in public, and ride the subway because everyone there was my friend.

Second life-saving decision: I was my own golden ticket.

Even with all the friends I had in this new, sparkling city (9 million of them!), it was ME that brought the magic to my own life. I was 100% responsible for making sure I got what I came for. This way, there was no wasted time blaming bogus job leads, bad weather, or unhelpful desk clerks.

YOU ARE THE MAGIC, BABY.

And it doesn’t matter if you are in a town of 15 ranchers or 9 million three-piece suits. What matters is your attitude with the people you meet. They must be your friends. How you relate to them will change everything. (This works even if you’ve been in the same town for three decades. Start with fresh eyes today).

You being your golden ticket has nothing to do with how destitute you may be at this given moment. Maybe you can’t rub two nickels together. YOU are an infinitely creative, gorgeous being, and that trumps everything. Economy, circumstances, and guidance counselors included.

A mustard seed will move a mountain. Shine bright.


Please read more of Stephanie St. Clair’s work and life coaching at blissbombed.com.

Q and A

In my recent search for a new self, I stumbled upon “Kokology,” a wonderful book by two Japanese professors, Tadahiko Nagao and Isamu Saito. “Kokology” asks readers what they would do in different scenarios, using their responses to describe certain personality types. Usually, I avoid such question and answer books but I couldn’t put this one down. With every response, traits that I thought were unqiuely my own were illustrated to a T. The following narration was a particular favorite of mine and got me thinking…

Most of us approach a ride on the subway with a mixture of fascination and dread. They’re crowded, they’re noisy and they aren’t famous for their safety or hygiene but there’s something about subways that makes them an integral part of the urban experience. Maybe it’s the hum of the electrified rails or the jerky rhythm of sudden starts and stops as the train hurdles from station to station. Or maybe it’s their endless ability to surprise even the most hardened city dweller with outrageous shocks and unforeseeable encounters. Whatever it is, subways seem to tempt us with the promise, “You thought you’ve seen everything? Well, you ain’t see nothing yet.”

You’re riding on a crowded subway when you see that single seat has opened up nearby. You are just about to sit down when you notice another person has always begun moving toward the same seat. What do you do?

1. Take the seat, of course.
2. Hesitate and look around before doing anything.
3. Let the other person have the seat.
4. Move to another car.


(I chose Option 3.) You worry too much about what other people think and in wanting to look good, you end up acceding to the wishes or other. People praise you as being extremely easy to live with but if you don’t stand up for yourself once in a while, you could be in for a very long trip down a very dark tunnel, stuck with someone who’s only too happy to let you stand the whole way.

True- I am pretty easy to live with (my positive affirmation of the day!) and I do care a little too much about what other people think (as much as I wish that I didn’t). A part of me wants to argue about kindness but I’m starting to think if that “niceness” is subconsciously known as “looking good to others.” Perhaps this is something to think more about this week…