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It Could Be Worse…

1 Jul

The July theme for NaBloPoMo is SAVED. It seemed appropriate that I actually post this, instead of deliberating over the draft like I have been for the past few days.

Sometimes something occurs during your day that opens a door. It could be a wide open doorway that promises big rewards. Or it could just open a crack offering nothing but the opportunity to see what’s on the other side. And if you’re not in the right mindframe, you may not even notice the ray of light. But when you are, it’s hard to avoid.

As I just explained in an entry to win a free registration to the BlogHer ’10, I began this blog to share myself anonymously. For me, anonymous means candid honesty… so buckle up folks:

I followed an unusual path of links to come to — one of my favorite books but a website I’ve never before explored. It’s a book of mixed feelings for me. Post after post I find myself well up with emotion — sadness, pity, admiration, disappointment. And the website proves to have the same effect.

As I scrolled down, I stumbled on this: The Mirror

I stopped short in my tracks finger-scrolling as I became overwhelmed with pride. It was a sense of pride for the writer — for her disclosure — and for myself — for being able to completely relate.

The jagged scars that run up and down my thighs used to reflect pain. The were symbol of an unmanageable and undefinable form of agony that few — luckily — ever endure. They are in sets of two, three, four — each representing an occasion that left me at a loss for words or actions, and in a hole to which I saw no way out.

There was only one person I was outright honest with my cutting about. He was the only person who I couldn’t hide it from at the time. Yet, in retrospect, whether I couldn’t hide it, or I subconsciously opened that door for him in an attempt to band-aid the deeper wounds between us, I’m not sure. But on numerous occasions he saw the aftermath before my brain had surrendered to damage control — tissues, showers and boxes of band-aids.

I started with my arms — if you look closely, you can still see the faded criss-cross scars. These cuts took place before the change of view — when I still saw my depression as atypical and my happiness as my true self. At that point, I could still imagine a sense of regret over ruining the smooth, toned skin of my upper arms. It wasn’t long after that I began to see the sad me as the new norm. But by then I had switched canvases. My thighs were easier to hide from the public. So starting as high as I could, I decorated them in bright red slits. I’d cover them until they’d stop bleeding, and then I’d spend days picking the scars making sure they were on permanent display. I didn’t want to forget the pain and the focus it took to slice through my skin over and over, deeper and deeper. It required a level of determination that I, up until that point, had applied to few other places in my life.

Over the years, a few people have questioned me without knowing their cause. A few more I informed outright to avoid facing their surprise when they stumbled across my artwork. And then there were a couple of people intuitive enough to understand without questions — and  still brave enough to ask. They were the ones I was most impressed with: Although they had never shared in my past-time activity, it was clear they had an understanding of what it took. It’s been years since I wore shorts in public.

The entry that followed “The Mirror” said (it was sent in to the site by email):

As a psychiatric nurse, I struggled for months about whether to wear short-sleeved shirts or risk exposure of my past cutting… Most people stare…but last week I had a patient tentatively reach out and touch my scars. She looked at me and said, “I thought I was the only one.” I think it helped me more than it helped her.

And this explained my reaction to the entry above. It described my feelings every time I read about someone else’s experience with cutting. And it made me smile and well up all at the same time. The most empathetic personality can’t understand the state of mind that allows a person to slice their skin up like Thanksgiving turkey, unless they’ve been there themself. It the same as alcoholism or any other form of addiction. It’s a coping mechanism that only those who use it, can get it.

I’ve stopped — years ago. Yet the scars will be there always. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. As time went by and I learned new ways of managing and transforming my pain into happiness, they also transformed. They turned into an icon of personal perseverance. They remind me, every time I face an obstacle, that “it could be worse!” They scream, as the postsecret poster said, “I survived!”

…they also look kinda bad ass!!! (Bring it!)


Another from Seth

6 Apr

Again, an interesting contemplation from Seth Godin on Seth Godin’s Blog.

And I quote…

Revisiting conspicuous consumption

“The reason you have a front lawn? It’s a tradition. Lawns were invented as a way for the landed gentry to demonstrate that they could afford to waste land. By taking the land away from the grazing sheep, they were sending a message to their neighbors. We’re rich, we can happily waste the opportunity to make a few bucks from our front lawn.

Conspicuous consumption has a long history. Wasting millions of dollars on a shark in a tank, or on $50,000 platinum stereo cables that sound an awful lot like $2000 stereo cables (which sound a lot like $200 stereo cables). And on and on.

In fact, the origins of the luxury goods industry lie in this desire to waste, in public. 350 years ago in France, Jean-Baptiste Colbert dreamed up the idea of bespoke, rare goods as a way of improving France’s balance of trade.  LVMH and other huge corporations collect brands that telegraph scarcity above all else. Not that they’re better at performing the task at hand, merely that they are expensive and rare.

(Interesting note: it’s estimated that 20% of all the women in Japan in their 20s own a Louis Vuitton bag… scarce?)

In every city there are expensive hotels that are noisy, with $56 breakfasts, no parking, blinds that don’t make the room dark and rooms that don’t have enough closets. But the very waste of paying extra to stay there ensures that you’ll be surrounded by others just as wealthy and just as interested in proving it.

Rich people will always indulge the desire to stand out, but I wonder if there’s a new version:

Spending on and investing in time, not stuff.

And it’s not so wasteful, this focus on craftsmen.

The new trend in spending money is to buy things that are painstakingly hand-built instead of efficiently mass-produced. It might not be a better price than what you could buy at Target, but the very fact that you can pay for an artisan to create it, an artist to design it, a talented worker to bring it to life–that act makes a powerful statement about what you can afford and what’s important to you. Instead of a bigger house, it’s a house that’s built from scratch by craftsmen. Instead of a bigger steak, it’s a handmade dish of local poached vegetables…

All marketers tell a story. The “this is the best price and value” story is just one of those available, and in fact, it’s rarely the most effective for the audience you may be trying to reach.”

Do you find yourself buying things just for the name? Price? Craftmanship?

Flowers feed the soul…

2 Apr

A week ago I went to SS’s place after being away for the weekend. I hadn’t spoken to him much in the previous few days so as soon as I entered, I shot my mouth off telling him about the weekend’s travels and then gave him the biggest smooch I could muster to reiterate my “I missed you.”

It was then that he covered my eyes and began blindly leading me across his kitchen. When he removed his hand I was standing in front of a beautiful bouquet of ballet pink and white lilies. My face exploded into a smile—not only do I value the gesture of flowers—a lot—but lilies also happen to be my favorite.

After I thanked him, kissed him, thanked him, kissed him, I exclaimed, “Lilies are my favorite. Did you know that?”

He smiled.

“How did you know?” I interrogated.

“I read your blog,” was his cheeky reply.

Eleven months had passed since I posted “I’ve got friends in [higher] places…

I have more than 150 blog entries posted. I knew he had perused them, but to remember such a small bit of information, lost in a sea of words that covers the course of years… well, I was very touched. I was touched that he noted and remembered, and I was touched by the surprise.

The side story about how he didn’t really know what lilies looked like and stood in the shop comparing the bouquets to images on his iPhone makes the whole gesture even more endearing. This tickled my heart… making both the flowers and the giver even more beautiful in my eyes…

“Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.” —Henry Beecher

“Failure, Success and Neither,” says Seth

2 Apr

This is such a good point, I’m re-blogging it to all my followers (sooo like two of are you reading this!).

Re-blogged from Seth Godin’s Blog at:

Failure, Success and Neither

“The math is magical: you can pile up lots of failures and still keep rolling, but you only need one juicy success to build a career.

The killer is the category called ‘neither’. If you spend your days avoiding failure by doing not much worth criticizing, you’ll never have a shot at success. Avoiding the thing that’s easy to survive keeps you from encountering the very thing you’re after.

And yet we market and work and connect and create as if just one failure might be the end of us.”

So the lesson to be learned is, “keep failing kids!!!”

Thumbs Down for Sizes Up

1 Apr

Not to sound cocky, but I saw this coming: No Love For Done — Women Don’t Like Models Who Look Like Them (by Katie Hintz Zambrano on

Of course they don’t. The media is screaming “Hey, Look! Over here, look!! We used plus-sized models.” Women then look at them and say, “Oh gee, looks like me… thanks for pointing out my size!” 

People see super-skinny models almost as a piece of art. Really they are… the amount of time that goes into maintaining a body (whether by exercise, surgery or plain ol’ starvation) worth doing up and photographing, and then airbrushing and photoshopping afterwards… that’s an exhausting task. I’m guessing it takes more effort than some of the crap you see in the MOMA these days. 

Obviously the psychological effects on some young women’s self-image are devastating, but there are many of us who just see them as a piece of art. I personally would love to slim the waistline—who wouldn’t really—but I would choose a few extra pounds and some muscle definition over a shiny tan, starved physique any day. I think it’s not the size of the models that is the issue but our acceptance of them as being an ideal.  

What’s sad is that studies like this will worry women’s glossies and they will pull the plus-size models. But really, if they just stick it out, it’ll become more of a norm and we will all be ok with it… plus-sizes, averages and underweights, alike. 

Or let’s just find a happy medium… there are a lot of sizes between 0 and 14… why not a nice curvy 6, eh? 

What size models would you like to see in magazines?

On The Road Again…

29 Mar

What is it about road trips that’s so fulfilling. You’re packed out in a car, can’t see out the back, no foot room, singing at the top of your lungs and occasionally swerving when trying to re-enact a Madonna move.

Or at least that’s how my road trips play out.

What is it that makes them so exciting? Is it the idea that you are going somewhere? You are going somewhere but in the meantime have nothing to do but connect with those around you and just enjoy life?

What about moving? Is the transition exciting? Maybe bittersweet for some?

Well, we’re on the road from Buffalo back to the city that never sleeps… and then a bit farther to bloody Long Island. Lil bro #1 is moving back from college.

I don’t know how he feels about it but the weekend of snowboarding, Niagara Falls and checking out the local cuisine was exciting for me.

Ok… as he just said, “Time for a road trip!!”

How To Breakup With Someone

28 Mar

When 2010 came around I decided I was healed enough to move on and to re-enter the dating world. Being the ambitious and dedicated individual I am, I gave it 100% effort.

But I quickly learned that not all dates were worth 100% effort.

I was telling AJ about a very bland date one day and how I blew him off after he called to see me again. My 18-year-old brother commented, “What is wrong with girls? Why did you just blow him off?”

Taken back, I responded (and defended myself), “I didn’t just blow him off actually; I texted him explaining that I didn’t feel the connection that I was looking for and wished him luck.” And then I read him verbatim what I had sent.

AJ smirked with pride and my brother replied, “That’s good. That was very nice. I wish more girls were like that.”

What a role reversal. My little brother whose diapers I used to change advising my dating habits. How cute is that. But in all honesty, I was glad he approved. He’s a guy, and he’s a guy who happens to be very in tune with people, so his opinion means something to me.

What made me think of this little tale is a Lemondrop’s First Person encounter “The Breakup Speech Every Girl Deserves To Hear” by a Special Guest Blogger.

Doesn’t everyone… girl or guy… deserve the truth?

If you aren’t able to speak your true thoughts to a stranger that you do not wish to see again, how are you going to express your feelings to someone you fall in love with?

With that thought, over and out…