I'm bipolar. I blog about it. I also blog about sex, theology and atheology, funny shit and sad shit, books, music, feminism, and love. Mostly love.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Why I Don't Watch Television

Kyle: I said in my first post ever that I would remain the conductor and y'all would still be my passengers. A person's name doesn't change just because they do. I think that's how I'm justifying it.

Now for the actual post.

I'm on a feminist kick. I don't know if all this progressive thinking is a phase of my higher education, or if I'm really starting to think a little differently. I've noticed that the less I engage in Facebook, the less television I watch, and the more I read; the more I really start to think about where I'm at. I think about the world I'm living in. I choose to always think of the things that bring me joy, but I do not ignore what upsets me. And I'm upset by this patriarchal society. And I hadn't thought much about it before. I was probably a feminist before, but I wasn't pissed off enough. It was also hard for me to see where our patriarchal society really affected me because I was so immersed in that society and had never taken time to question it. Again. I think an overdose of Real Housewives, My Sweet 16, and any show that glorified the lives of the famous filled the time in which I should have really been thinking about the world around me. I know y'all are going to get sick of my reality television rants, but I think it's a serious thing.

Television (with the exception of educational television or artistic work) is 1) a waste of time, 2) an easy way for media to reinforce patriarchal ideas as well as stereotypes and create a standard of beauty to a vulnerable or young audience, and 3) is all managed and produced by the very rich, which gives that one percent we liberals are always complaining about, power that is undeserved and truly scary.

I used to watch television to know what clothes were cool, and if I didn't own those clothes I somehow felt inferior or angry that no one would provide them for me. That led to some severe ungratefulness on my part. *Sorry Mom* I used to watch television to know who was important, completely overlooking the fact that being a good artist does not make a person any more invincible than any other; it only magnifies their successes and failures in an exploitative manner. I used to watch those shows and let it reinforce my hatred towards small town life and "country bumpkins." I used to watch television to wish my life was like someone else's.

Instead, I could have been making my life the way I wanted it. I could have been reading more books, or exercising more, or talking to people who helped me to open my mind to new and brilliant things. There's nothing wrong with television until we expose children to anything besides educational television (PBS, people), because it again reinforces stereotypes and teaches children to want, want, want those toys on the commercials. They are so unnecessary, but those ads, as ads will, make them seem like the only way to achieve popularity or coolness. That is teaching children at a young age to allow media to tell them what is acceptable, cool, and what is beautiful or good-looking--the standard thereof. What toys would they be interested in if TV wasn't telling them what to be interested in?

Those Disney channel shows I loved so much reinforced the belief that nerds were uncool, and "normal people" were beautiful and rich. Those "normal people" didn't have glasses and they weren't above the weight our standard of beauty says is okay. And although those "normal people" weren't rich by standards of that show, they still managed to have lots of cool, beautiful clothes, and huge houses. Their moms were almost always at-home mothers. Their fathers liked reading the newspaper and drinking coffee. And although the fathers always made decisions for the family, the mother always knew what was best, and the father's plans would always fail. The mother would quietly shake her head, smile, and fix everything. Don't believe me? What about road trips where the dad won't get directions although the wife suggests it, and then they're lost? The man gets to make the decision. The man makes a fool of himself. The woman fixes it. That's we how we, in the 50s, began to justify the apparent sexism in television, but now it's ridiculous. And I'm not sure why men put up with it, frankly. Men aren't always meat-head brutes that are far less intelligent that their wives... not always. There are plenty of intelligent men, and plenty of working women. <--and why are the "less intelligent" sex given the career?

The "popular kids" in those shows weren't actually that popular. No one really liked them, but everyone pretended to. Everyone was nice to them although they were mean to everyone else. It was about once a season that someone would stand up to them. And they were always blonde with huge boobs and revealing clothes. Those were the girls knocked up in my high school... not the homecoming queens. These shows gave me a very skewed idea of social interaction, of how to handle bullying, of what was "lame," "normal," and "popular." It taught me to glorify and aim for that popularity. It taught me what was normal, which was actually more like the very top of middle class, which is definitely not the norm. Also, who gets to kiss Aaron Carter in junior high? Who needs to be kissing anyone in junior high?

On a personal note, I think I watched television as a coping mechanism. I didn't always want to think. If I didn't like myself, I could immerse myself in something besides thought. Because thought could lead to scary places. But I was immersing myself in something that began to think for me. That wasn't okay, either. I think we do the same thing with our cell phones now and with clubs and committees and classes and parties and anything that takes our time away from centering and mindfulness... because we're afraid of what we'll find if we spend too much time in our heads.

I've continued to watch public television. And if I like a show enough, then I'll buy the series and watch it on DVD. But I don't need to see those commercials. I don't need to get caught up in a train wreck of a TV show or the cat fights and pettiness of those rich-people-reality-tv shows. <-- The Hills, Jersey Shore, My Sweet 16, Housewives of whatever God-forsaken county... I don't need any of it. And if I have to buy a series, then I really have to think. Keeping something in my cart is harder than hitting an on button. I really have to think, if this show enforces stereotypes, will I be able to recognize and question them? Will this show have the power to tell me what is beautiful? If the answer is no, then it's not a purchase I feel bad about.

Word Vomit Wrap Up in 5:
  1. I'm developing and learning about more feminist ideals.
  2. I'm kind of disgusted by what's on TV.
  3. Kids are still easily manipulated by images and speech, and what they find on television gives them false ideas about life and doesn't allow them to think for themselves.
  4. Television takes the space of time during which we should think about ourselves, our lives, our failures and achievements, and what we define as such. It doesn't allow us to be mindful or conscious. It takes time from reading, meditation, prayer, conversation, or anything that would further our journey toward self-discovery.
  5. Television is packed full of stereotypes, patriarchal themes, and images of what is "beautiful." I need to experience real people to help me define behaviors of different cultures, I need to defy and question patriarchal society, and I have my own eyes, thanks.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Epiphany Post

by Laurie Lipton

I don't really care what other people think. My entire life I've spent time trying to be someone I'm not. I've become so accustomed to code switching that I've lost myself. I let reality television, pop stars, and my peers tell me what was cool. But now? The stuff I thought was cool back then is cool now. So really? There was nothing wrong with who I was. There's nothing wrong with who I am. There's nothing wrong with being as many people as I want to be. There is never anything wrong about being. That's simply my existence.

I try to be kind to people. I try to treat people like I'd like to be treated. I try to take the concerns of others seriously. I try to respect different cultures as different as opposed to wrong. I don't judge a person based on their religion, sexual orientation, age, sex or gender, or political beliefs, even if I don't agree with everything. (If you know me, the only things in there I really take issue with are opposing political beliefs (although I'm working for a better adjective than opposing) and a person who denies their own pleasure by forcing themselves into a relationship that is untrue to their emotional and physical desires, when someone uses age as an excuse to close their eyes, when someone sees their sex or gender as superior to that of another...). Basically I don't like when people make other people's business their own or when someone isn't true to themselves. Other than that I try to accept people as they come and to judge by a person's true merit: the way in which they treat others; and yet to understand and coach those who don't treat others well. It's my duty, and it's yours too.

Those things are things I'm proud of. Those are my values. I think it's important to define our beliefs and values in our ceaseless journey to self-discovery. I'm still finding a belief secure enough to follow blindly besides that of love. Love is the only religion I trust entirely. But my values? I've got them down. I don't always adhere to them. I'm not perfect. But the way I treat other people is a direct reflection of how I feel about myself.

And here comes the epiphany: It's not a bad thing to be happy.

I used to have such an aversion to happiness. I felt guilty in happiness. I didn't like myself well enough for happiness. Whatever. Now I don't. I don't know if it's the meds, the mere knowledge of my condition, or if I'm just finally embracing a journey to enlightenment. I don't know if I care. I'm here anyway.

I love this. I don't know if I've ever embraced life this way. I'm so okay with myself. I'm okay with my body. I'd like to lose some weight, but hey! If I don't I don't care that much. I wish I'd managed better than a 3.5 this semester, but with everything I was up against, I'm really proud of that GPA.

I still have heartache. Happiness is a state of being and it doesn't mean I don't get sad or lonely or disappointed or frustrated or angry... my feelings are still very real and present. I worry about Ian all the time, and I have both nightmares and dreams concerning him. I miss my family in southern Illinois and I want to make more of a difference in the lives of the children of my family. I still get really insecure at times, and I have to remind myself that there's nothing wrong with me being myself. There's something wrong with a person feeling the right to judge me for being me. There's something wrong with society for condoning that arrogance and entitlement and standard of "normal." It's still hard. But I'm choosing to live in happiness and feel those hard feelings as they come, rather than feeling nothing until those feelings break me. It's a conscious decision that I have to work to keep to--just like giving up meat and soda.

I love everyone. I love the idiot drivers I cuss at behind the wheel. I love the most annoying child you've ever met. I love the people who have hurt me--some more than others. Speaking of which: I've gotten over the Sarah Simpson thing (Go ahead and Google yourself! I have nothing to be ashamed of, and there's no teacher or principal to run to now that we're adults.) She was a nasty, cruel little girl, and I'm sure she's a cruel young woman. But I'm sure she had her own heartache; heartache I'll never know. And at the time I was not confident or secure enough to handle her bullying. Who is in junior high?!

But now I am. I dooooon't really care what she had to say. Because I was a badass back then, just like I am now. I was still kind as often as I felt I could be. I was still doing my best with what I had. I have nothing to be ashamed of, just like I don't now. Just because I didn't fit Sarah's idea of physical beauty did not mean I was not beautiful. And I'm disappointed in myself that I ever let her childish comments wreck me the way they did. But it is what it is. We all have a bully who breaks us. We are defined by the way we put ourselves back together. I've grown up since then. I just don't care what she (really she just represents all the people who have hurt me) think.

It's so freeing to wake up knowing that if she were to call me today and call me Weight Watchers Dancer again--something that used to have me crying in the bathrooms at Marshall Junior High, I wouldn't care. I would feel bad for her that she still felt the need to bring people down to feel good about herself. <-- That's something I used to think was just something grown ups said to make you feel better, but it's so true! People only hurt people when they are hurting. But I wouldn't really let that change the way I see myself. Really, at the time she was just affirming all of my greatest insecurities and making very real for me a truth I tried to hide and ignore. But now I've displayed that vulnerability. I've learned to accept myself as I am. And bullying words can only hurt me if I think they're true! Since I love myself as I am, and I accept and forgive my own faults, no one will have that power over me now. I do not judge myself based on the opinions of those I do not respect.

I've done things I'm not proud of. I could list them, but most of you know them already. Instead I'll say a big I'M SORRY. I'm sorry to the people I'll never see again. I'm sorry to the girls I may have been unkind to. I'm sorry to the boys whose hearts I've broken. I'm sorry to the family I've said hurtful things to. I'm sorry to those I respect that I may have disappointed. I'm sorry. I know I'm not perfect. But the only thing I can really do to make it better is to live well. I will take this summer by storm and I will make those children my own. I will fill them with so much love they won't know what to do with themselves. They won't understand why someone can love them so much, because they still see their flaws so clearly... but I don't overlook them. I love them anyway. Because there are some really, really beautiful people that loved me anyway. And I would do them a disservice not to carry on that legacy of love.

Just a trip to Brown County

Today Kyle and I took a trip to Waycross. We got lost. Because we both kind of suck with directions (me more than him, I'll admit), but despite my minor panic attacks, we managed to find any destination we had in mind. Waycross, Nashville, Bean Blossom, and home.

On the way there I saw that rolling farmland which I'd come to see without seeing--a dangerous path to ungratefulness--through Kyle's eyes. I saw again the brilliant, brilliant green that paints the entire countryside. I see the somehow perfect-looking cows, and the dirt roads and tractors, and the little churches and shops... and I felt the closeness and the campiness associated with those images. I felt camp all around me miles from campus. And everything started to feel right. When my phone lost signal, I felt an emotional sigh of relief, nearly physically. When the dust from the road billowed up and settled on the windshield, I settled more comfortably into my seat. Tension in my brow, which I hadn't noticed before, softened... I was home.

We got some business with paperwork out of the way, and we toured campus. Finally I left Natalie alone, left my messenger bag in the car, and we hiked. We just hiked up to the CC and then to the fire hydrant. And it was so nice. It was strange without kids. With children comes a predictable kind of noise: nervous chatter, questionsquestionsquestions, laughing, snapping twigs, and shrieks following buzzing or slithering. Without it, the air felt heavy with silence. It was not uncomfortable, though. I think an older version of myself would have crawled out of her skin in that silence. I needed sound to drown out the information, both true and untrue, I didn't want to acknowledge or remember. I tended to use television, conversation, mindless games, and even books to deflect from my own insecurities and broken-heartedness. But I'm stumbling upon an epiphany I intend to post about after this. I just can't jump around that much.

Anyway. I felt the weight of the silence, and for the first time it was a load I felt capable of bearing. It isn't too hard a hike, but it felt good to do something physical and outside. It felt good to breathe the air I use candles and potpourri to imitate in my daily life. There's magic in untainted air. And then we made our way around Nashville. We ate at the Hob Nob (tip of the hat to Sean), and bought some candy at one of those candy places--both remembering the women we had yet passed up for Mother's Day.

And I talked camp the whole way home. Because it felt good to be there. Because I had so much to say. Because nothing felt right to say and I felt like if I kept going I might figure it out as I go. Truth? It just made me even more of a chatterbox. I'm assuming Kyle didn't mind, because he never stopped me... I feel like he knows me well enough to tell me to shut up when the time comes that I should do so.

I came home feeling so much more positive. I came in through Grandma's side to say hello and to pet the dogs. Grandma likes listening to me talk about camp. She always has. So we sat and told her about our day. That makes her feel important, and I have a feeling it's more lively and less politically charged conversation than she's grown accustomed to with her circle of friends. She's a liberal among elderly, small-town women. She would rather talk to Kyle and I.

I was so cheerful that I didn't mind walking the dogs. I was happy to wait for dinner so I could sit and talk to my parents when they came home from work. I went where they wanted because they'd had a long day, and mine had been full of whimsy and childhood pixie dust and stuff. I didn't throw baby fits about getting refills because I had enough energy to do it. Just didn't mind anything, really.

And then I came home, got ready for bed, and opened myself up to this little free, Dell laptop whom I've named Minerva. I know you think I'm cool, so it's good I don't really care what people think anymore. (More allusions to my Epiphany Post.) Anyway. This is turning into the rant of a tired woman, so I'll let Minerva sleep, and enjoy my rest as well. Good night my tabby cat, and good night my passengers.


Isn't this picture magic? Tell me this isn't full of whimsy. These are my baby tomatoes.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Ten Things (Reasons) To Keep Passing The Open Windows

  1. I want the see the children in my life grow to maturity. They will be remarkable and extraordinary beings.
  2. I want to read more books, learn more Truths, and know myself better.
  3. I want to see more places. I want to explore until I find home, and I want to fall passionately in love with someone who loves me back.
  4. I want to make a difference in someone's life. I want to help someone pass their own windows.
  5. I want to experiment until I find a career that suits me, engages me intellectually, and allows me to communicate with people in ways my education will prepare me for.
  6. I want some more name tags for that lanyard.
  7. I want someone to call me Mommy.
  8. I have more to tell the world about what I think about EVERYTHING, and I need more time to figure out what I believe in--and who.
  9. I want to write a book.
  10. I want to be there for my parents.
I'll love you forever
I'll like you for always
as long as I'm living
my mommy you'll be

Inch by inch, row by row; gonna make this garden grow.

Breasts, Bodies, and Shame oh, my.

Everyone loves breasts. And why not? They are the earliest source of nutrition and they are an early distinguish-er between our society's differentiation between men and women (something I intend to discuss at some point, promise; but if I tried to do that in this post, this post would surely never end). But shame? Women are ashamed when their breasts are "too big," or "too small." They're ashamed of the size and shape of their nipples and the coloring of their areolas. Because this is a factor that differentiates men from women, we tend to associate them closely with sexuality. Since we live in a patriarchal society, women are raised with a deep awareness of their sexual role and the standards of beauty promoted by our culture, as attraction is influenced by those standards.

But women are made differently because evolutionarily, different body types served different purposes. My big butt and strong legs were designed to survive some ice age. Unfortunately, I don't live in an ice age. I live in the United States in the 21st century. But I know my body type served a very important purpose. The genes that make me the size 14 I am now, are the same genes that were important enough to survive generations and generations of big-assed women. I know that my body type doesn't fit into our culture's cookie-cutter standards (nearly impossible to fit into, women), but I know that regardless, there are men and women attracted to the body I have been blessed with.

It is an erroneous myth that the cultural standard of beauty is actually what is attractive to everyone. For instance, I'm not attracted to the fit, masculine, athletic man that fits our cultural cookie cutter. And I made my way through high school thinking that because I didn't fit the cultural cookie cutter shaped for women, that I would not be found attractive. In college, around so many more different men and women from so many different cultures, I've found that my big ass and thick thighs are very attractive to the right person.

What about health? you ask. I'll call myself out: I'm a pretty darn healthy size 14. I am active and I eat a balanced, if not perfect diet. I don't drink soda or eat red meat. I probably consume too much sugar and caffeine, but I try to burn those calories off and to limit my caffeine intake to morning hours. Human bodies weren't created with cars and McDonald's in mind, so we have to find ways to keep ourselves active to make up for these new factors. But "dieting" is scary business. I don't diet. Everyone has a diet. That's just what you eat. But I don't really go on diets. I cut things out of my diet I feel I can stand to lose if I find them unhealthy. However, if I find myself unhappy because I'm turning down food or drink I really want, then I readjust.

Feeling deprived doesn't make for a successful weight-loss plan. You get tired of that really quickly. I've found, though, that if I cut certain foods I (again) can stand to lose, then I'm not interested in them after a while. Once I got over the pop thing, not even Diet Coke sounded appetizing. Once I got past bacon, meat kind of grossed me out. And now I prefer soy milk, I prefer fiber cereals, and I'm happier if I finish two or more water bottles a day. But none of that bothers me. I don't feel like I'm missing out. If I want a piece of cake, I'm going to eat it. If a chai latte sounds super good, then I'm going to get one. Health is only a matter of being healthy. Not thin. Big difference. It's about being strong enough to support your joints, fit enough to walk a flight of stairs without wheezing, and happy with yourself and your decisions. I need to kick my own butt sometimes to get out of bed and do something, but I do it because it makes me happy. Period.

Back to breasts. Your boobs are as big or small as they're supposed to be. If your breasts cause you physical pain, or you don't identify with the feminine nature of your body, then that's something to look into. Your body should never hold you back from activity, and no one should feel trapped in a societal construction of gender. But they're yours. Own them. It is not society's job to tell you how to feel about them. Too big=sex object? Well shoot. How dare you... have the boobs you were born with? Sheesh. Put those away. :P  Too small... for what?

It's your business what you do with your body. I'm not really in the business of telling people what to do. It just bothers me how blindly we allow those cookie cutters to make decisions about beauty for us. You have your own eyes, your own minds, your own bodies to help you make decisions about what is attractive to you. And there's no need to change yourself to make yourself attractive. Because someone who is in touch with their own wants and needs may be looking for someone just like you.

So. Be healthy. Be happy. And damn the man. You can make your own decisions.

Peace .

Get it girl