Hi to all my friends and fans. I shall return soon. Love always, D.
Right now, it looks like a thrift store exploded in my living room. Or like, perhaps a burglar came along rifled through my things, leaving piles of “stuff” strewn everywhere. Or, as if the neighborhood vandal is using my kitchen to store spray paint. But somewhere among this wondrous mess of paint and objects in various states of disarray, you’ll find … me.In case you’re looking for me, I’ll most likely be wearing a pair of old shorts and a ratty T-shirt, my hair piled in a twisted mess above my head, and an assortment of accidental splashes of color. This, apparently, is the life of an “artisan,” aka a crafter. Apparently, this is difficult and messy work. If only I’d been warned. Then, had I been warned I’d never have embarked on this quest.
I’m trying to spin gold from dust. I’m trying to raise phoenix from ashes. In other words, I’m trying to turn time-worn items into OMG-beautiful works of art. Yet, for some reason it never crossed my mind that this would be HARD. No one warned me that making miraculous metamorphoses might be more than a tad tedious. Then, had someone said that, I’d never have listened.See, I have this little problem with visions of grandeur. It happens all the time, I can't seem to stop it. It starts with this incredible dream and becomes an incredible nightmare. But then, 25 hours and 14 coats of paint later, I end up with something … pretty darn sweet. Precious … cute – Hell, sometimes I even impress myself. However, whatever I finished is never the same project I began. Usually, the route from start to finish is a series of serendipitous adventures … my problem decoupage that I just can’t properly sand turns into a lovely textured surface that I can never-again duplicate. Like getting lost and stumbling upon a beautiful little-known land, I wander through this sticky world wondering where I’ll end up next. I mean that, literally, as I am currently buried in piles of objects and adornments. If anyone comes looking for me, I was last seen with red sequins, pink jewels, a Marilyn Monroe purse and a can of Robin’s Egg Blue spray paint.
I’m all for keeping my chin up. It’s slenderizing – I dig that. I wonder, however, if keeping one’s chin up is useful for anything else. As much as people say it, you’d think it was a cure-all for all of life’s woes. Lost your job? Keep your chin up! Checking account overdrawn? Keep your chin up! House in foreclosure? Let’s see that chipper chin!
Granted, I haven’t actually tried walking around with my chin tilted skyward, but I’m hesitant to believe that it could really resolve any serious problems. OK, I’m no shrink. I’m just a bitter gal with a downward-shifting chin and a chip on my shoulder. I don’t profess to hold the key to eternal happiness, or internal happiness, or external happiness. I’m just a gal with an attitude. Yep. I’ve got an attitude against platitudes.
I know, shame on me, hating on the helpless, mindless platitude. I have misdirected anger. It’s not the platitudes themselves that bother me. It’s the fact that anyone thinks they would make anyone else feel better.
“I decided one day that I could either really enjoy life, or die,” a self-proclaimed profound man said to me. I dared counter Mr. Profound that for most people it’s not a choice of one extreme or the other, that perhaps there’s a mid-range between ecstasy and suicide. He responded with the following deep thought. “Well, if you don’t like your life change it.” Ingenious. Acting on his advice, I made a change. I vowed to ignore Mr. Profound for the foreseeable future. I do feel better making that small yet refreshing improvement.
“There was a reason you had that depthless discussion,” some platituders would tell me. It couldn’t be random dumb luck. Everything happens for a reason. Of course that fate-centered approach directly contradicts Mr. Profound’s message that one has sole control over one’s life. Slap me for questioning long-proffered wisdom, but which witless wisdom is worthwhile? It’s impossible to be simultaneously in charge of one’s life and leaving it all up to some unnamed inexplicable “reason.” Either theory sounds cockamamie to me. Life sucks? Well, you can change it. Or not. Maybe your life sucks for a reason. Either way, there’s no use getting upset about it. It is what it is.
I should have gratitude for platitudes. They require no special talent or skill to deliver. They require no thought. Hell, I don’t have to believe them, so long as I graciously spread them wherever I go. And the next time something bad happens to you, I’ll look at you, chin up, and baselessly promise that things will get better.
They look so harmless, delicate even. They’re long and slim at the heel and gently widening towards the toes. They’re carefree toes, toes that clearly don’t need to conform to "society’s" narrow definition of what girly feet must be. Yet, what fine female feet they are. Sometimes they’re tipped in dainty pink, other times fiery red, they like the pretty colors. They’d look great in the sand, or on the grass with a daisy 'tween the toes. Happy feet, they are. They look so sweet and yet …. They’re apparently MONSTERS.
Yep. I have MONSTER feet. I have GIANT, drag queen feet. Sure, I’ve always sensed my feet weren’t small but I never realized they were “super-sized” until a teen me read about the affliction in a women’s mag. “I Have Man Sized Feet!” the column headline declared. “Poor woman,” I thought. “Must be terrible.” So I read the fair lady’s lament. She – gasp – wore a size 10 shoe! “Hmmm,” I thought. This manly woman has size 10 feet, and I have ... size 10 feet. Either I was abnormal or the writer was abnormal for thinking she was abnormal. I wasn’t sure which, but the article about this poor “outcast” with her giant “man-sized” feet disturbed me so much that I penned my first and only letter to a women’s mag. It was offensive, I wrote, to suggest that a size-10 foot was manly. I don’t think my letter was ever published – hell, it was probably never read – but I’ve been acutely foot-conscious ever since. I eventually accepted, even embraced my size 10s. Until they grew into size 11s. Suddenly I’d traveled into a new dimension, a dimension where few shoe manufacturers dare to go.
I suppose I’m just genetically blessed. My father wears a size 15 shoe. Thanks to dad, I get to feel like a freak every time I shop for shoes: I walk into the mall and find the most adorable shoes EVER. “OMG, Hot!” I think. “I wonder if they have these in a size … oh who am I kidding?” I try to not get my hopes up. I usually wander through the displays searching for the biggest shoe I can find.
“OMG, what a big SHOE!,” I think, turning it over gleefully. Size 9. Alrighty. “Somewhere in this store,” I assure myself, “there has GOT to be a pair of GIANT shoes!” It is no longer about HOT shoes, or CUTE shoes but about GIANT shoes … and so I search for the elusive megashoe. Finally I see a MONSTER shoe for my MONSTER feet. I ask for its mate and I feel overcome with joy. Though it's usually a pair of extra-wide moccasins with sheepskin lining, I feel victorious … until I try on the monstrosities. Then, I know why they were on clearance for 99 cents.
So I take my search online. I pull up ebay and type hopefully: “Size 11 women’s shoes.” The moccasins have made their way onto that site too. Thankfully, there’s a bigger selection than that. All I have to do is type in “drag queen shoes.” Suddenly I find pumps, platforms, goth boots, all the sexy shoes I’ve long longed for. “Are you a diva in disguise?” one vendor asks. “Tired of looking for heels, shoes and boots that fit your personality but not your larger feet?” YES! “Well look no more...” Suddenly my giant feet aren’t so giant. Heck, a mere size 11? That’s downright dainty.
they’re not dainty. But they’re not monsters.
They are not abnormal behemoth giant defective manly feet – no matter
what “society” tells me. They are beautiful, feminine feet and I adore
them. Disagree? Keep it to
yourself. You don’t want to be on the
wrong end of a monster shoe.
OK, so they’re not dainty. But they’re not monsters. They are not abnormal behemoth giant defective manly feet – no matter what “society” tells me. They are beautiful, feminine feet and I adore them. Disagree? Keep it to yourself. You don’t want to be on the wrong end of a monster shoe.
I nicknamed her “Smiley.” I didn’t know her real name for the longest time, but early on I pegged her as a top contender for the grand prize in ABC’s reality hit “True Beauty.”
For those who don’t watch reality TV (or won’t admit to it as shamelessly as I do), here’s the premise of the show: Gather together a bunch of hot-looking people and have them compete in a series of ridiculous competitions to win a wad of cash, a photo spread in People magazine, “most beautiful person in America.” What they didn’t know – and the viewers at home did know, was that there were hidden cameras following them everywhere. See, the judges weren’t looking just for outer beauty – but inner beauty as well. Naturally this led to all sorts of trouble as the so-called beautiful people showed their shallow colors, never in on the joke. Then, each week, a crying “beauty” would go home blaming bad editing , rather than bad behavior, for his or her tactless performance.
“I am a wonderful person” the contestant would inevitably snivel. Sure you are – you’re charming as hell when it’ll work for you. Ah, but Smiley, she was a wise one. Sure, she wasn’t as entertaining to watch as the rest of the cast, who behaved so badly we were grateful to see their pretty portraits ceremoniously tossed in the trash as they were shown the door.
No, Smiley played the game a different way. Maybe she didn’t know the judges (and viewers) were watching her every move and setting up hidden challenges to entrap evildoers, but she was wise enough to realize that she was on TV. She knew that no amount of “bad editing” would make her look evil if she didn’t – well – do anything bad. What a refreshing thought. We could all learn a lot from Smiley.
Sure, it’s a reality show, but it’s not as if the Smiley strategy is an invention of reality TV. Most of us learned or heard about it once upon a time. Most of us learned some form of The Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Most of us have heard it - but how many of us have really reflected on what that means? How many of have conveniently reworded this golden rule into something more self-serving, such as “Do unto others – if it’s useful to you.”
The golden rule is open to interpretation – every person has a different idea of how he or she would want to be treated. But I’m willing to wager we all want to be treated with kind sincerity and common courtesy regardless of our “rank” in any real or perceived social hierarchy. I harbor an idealistic vision that people can and will like me for who I am – not what they think I can do for them. Yet there’s a reason why so many “True Beauty” contestants were snared on tape mistreating gardeners and coffee gofers. They may be shinier, prettier and more openly obnoxious than most humans – but beneath the surface they’re as flawed as the rest of us.
We are all fallible. We treat respect and kindness like precious resources, bestowing it upon those we deem “worthy.” How we decide who’s worthy? That’s in the eye of the beholder, but it seems worthiness is measured by looks, money, or status. The more a person has of those “qualities”, the better (generally) a person will treat her. Perhaps it’s rooted in some belief that these qualities are contagious: by befriending those with status, we will become more beautiful, powerful people by association. Sounds fun – who wouldn’t like beauty, power and praise? But is that how you judge a person’s worth? Is that how you want someone to judge your worth?
I can only answer for myself, but what I have or look like at a given moment in my life is not the totality of “me.” At most, it reflects what I value. But it doesn’t reflect my value. I’m sure it does in some people’s eyes. I often feel that my relative worth changes depending on whether a person views me as a poor woman, a black woman, a sick woman, an angry woman, a journalist or a powerful attorney. Is any one of those people more deserving of kindness or compassion and praise than another? Many people seem to think so. As for Smiley, she’s learned better than that. She’s learned to keep her shallow judgments to herself and treat everyone she meets with respect. You might be tempted to brush her off as a ditzy reality show pageant queen, but if you did you’d miss the lesson behind Smiley’s bright-white grin. The pageant queen showed us all what makes a person truly beautiful.
Dear Mr. J:
Your probation officer called. Well, I think it was your probation officer. I’m not sure. All I know is that the man said “I bet you didn’t think I could find you while you were on vacation. Well, you can’t run from the long-arm of the law.” I hope you get in touch with him.
I hope you get in touch with Susy too. She seems awfully nice. She also you sent you a great Thanksgiving greeting. So did one of your pals in Pennsylvania. And here’s a sweet text from a friend of yours in Texas: “Dreams are visions inspired by God. When He puts them in you, expect Him to fulfill them.” It seems you’ve got a lot of nice friends.
Then again - some of your friends are whores, if this text is any measure: SING IT! "Oh the weather outside is frightful, warm sex sounds so delightful, when there's no one else you know! TEX a ho! TEX a ho! TEX a ho!" She can't spell but I've got to give her credit for her enthusiasm and marketing skills.
You’re quite the popular guy. By the way, are you hiding from some of your lady friends? Someone calls almost every day looking for you. I don’t know who she is – or even if she’s a she - I don't answer. But she’s persistent, so I suspect it’s a girlfriend of yours. A few weeks ago a woman called and when I answered, she hung up. She called again, asking for “Donny.” Seems she’s awfully sweet on you. She seemed disappointed that you took off without giving her a way to reach you.
Mr. J – can I call you Donny? – take it from a woman. It’s not nice to run away from women. Be a man Donny, tell the truth. Maybe you’re handsome, charming, great in bed, but the ladies will get over you. Just tell the truth: you’re married, or in jail, or both. Oh, and you’re broke.
Your creditors are stalking you – especially that bank out in South Dakota. I’m afraid your time is up to take advantage of their special offer to “work things out.” That’s a shame. Well, there are lots more creditors where the South Dakota bank came from. They like to call too, often. Maybe one day you should call them back.
Well Donny, I’m not good at these things, so I’ll make it short and sweet. I’m dumping you. It’s not you, it’s me. I’m tired of taking your calls. I’ve changed my voicemail: “This is Dwana Bain, if you’re trying to reach Donald J, this is not his phone number and I do not know him.” I hope that will clear things up for your probation officer, your girlfriends and your creditors. I’m sure I’ll get a few stray calls now and then but I’m not relaying anymore messages for you.
OK, I’ll give you just this one more message, because I even though you annoy the hell out of me, I feel sorry for you. Physical therapy called. You’re approved. I’m glad to hear it – I know those appointments are hard to get. Goodbye Donny. Stay out of trouble.
I’m not worried about big brother – I know I’m on camera most of the time (I just hope I look good). I’m not worried about the Department of Homeland Security reading my web posts and hauling me away. I’m not even worried that the strange things I Google (don’t ask) will come back to haunt me when the police arrest me for some crime I didn’t commit. OK, I’m worried a little, but I’ve got bigger worries.
Something else is watching me. From the moment I rise to the moment I rest in my bed, it keeps track of my every swallow. It knows everything I eat and everything I drink, right down to the maraschino cherry topping that sundae I shouldn’t have eaten. If I’ve had too much wine, gin, or vodka it rubs it in my face – it shames me. “Look what you drank! A quarter of your daily calories came from liquor? Seriously? What are you, a lush? ” I’m talking about TDP, my pet name for the online food diary, The Daily Plate.
Like all relationships … it started out so good. “What a great little site,” I thought when we met. “It’s so cute.” All I have to do is plug in my (real) weight and it tells me how many calories to eat. If I want to lose weight, it tells me how many calories to eat. If I want to (snicker) gain weight, it tells me how many calories to eat. It tells me if I’ve had enough protein, or too much salt. How sweet.
It lured me in with its gentle concern for my health. Then it started snapping at me. “You had 3,456 mgs of sodium yesterday,” it told me this morning. “That’s 143.98% of the RDA – what’s wrong with you? Does everything you eat have to come from a can?” Wow, that was harsh, but I'm getting used to it. After nine months together, the TDP and I have formed a love-hate relationship. I can’t stand it. Then, I can’t live without it. When I want to “take a break,” it lures me back by promising me beauty and everlasting youth. It also offers me comfort and security. When it’s not around, I miss it. I resort to stand-ins, like notebooks -- or worse -- my memory.
We need each other, the TDP and me. That’s how it is for a dieter with OCD. Or, maybe it’s OCPD that leads me to TDP. Wikipedia describes obsessive compulsive personality disorder as "a pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control ….” Yes, it seems I’m stricken with OCPD, hence my need for TDP. Or I’m just a neurotic freak obsessed with order.
Either way, this daily plating soothes me. In a world full of chaos, it offers me something I can count on, even if it’s not always kind. The TDP and I enjoy a mutual honesty uncommon in today's relationships. We give each other the painful truth. I confess every time I’ve been drinking. And it tells me “Yes, you do look fat in those jeans.”