You Pray And You Pray And You Don’t Realize Your Prayer Was Already Answered…

This post was recognized at BlogU as Term Paper of the Year in Women’s Studies. My BlogU roommate was kind enough to capture the video of my reading. Enjoy.

When you’re nine years old, the Grade School Powers That Be separate the girls and boys into different classrooms and begin an annual ritual of education that continues for several years. Girls learn all about getting their first periods, weird hair growth, and unusual body odor. Boys, I can only assume based on my experience, learn about making fun of girls, making fun of each other, and how to change a tire. I think.

After watching an embarrassingly long video about a girl who played Little Orphan Annie on Broadway and her first period, we were given all sorts of pamphlets to bring home to our mothers, including an order form for a giant box o’ lady things…you know, like a period sampler pack. Obviously, I shoved these papers into the depths of my cluttered locker, never to be seen again (until locker clean out day).

Of course, the mom-network message arrived via telephone a few days later, when my mother called me down to lecture me and cry about how I didn’t talk to her about this very important day at school. “You never tell me anything,” she complained.

In my head, all I could think of was my dad’s favorite line, Telephone, telegraph, tell-a-Nudd. Nudd being the collective whole of my mother, her sisters and her mother. As soon as one of them knew something, the world knew. Mass communication that ran faster than I could possibly imagine—probably faster than the internet. I knew that the minute I told my mom anything, the world would know. And this whole period nonsense? Totally embarrassing. I wanted nothing to do with it…until I was in middle school.


For months, I prayed to get my first period. I begged God to let me be like the other girls. This is the crazy thing that happened when he answered my prayer.

When I was eleven, I was already among the very unpopular, invisible kids in middle school, but my best friend in the whole world was a cool kid. And I wanted to be just like her. I distinctly remember when all of my childhood friends started to get their periods. They talked about it like it was a special club that only girls who had been visited by Aunt Flo could be a part of.

And so I prayed. Like the good little Catholic girl that I was, I said my prayers every night. And I prayed to God, begging and pleading with everything I had to bargain, to get my period and be just like the other girls. Every night a relatively similar prayer would follow the common prayers I learned as a toddler. God, I know you’re a pretty busy guy and all, but if you could please let me get my period, I would really, really be thankful. Also send my love to Grandma and Grandpa…Thanks. Of course, this is reminiscent of a strikingly similar prayer that I would eventually repeat several times throughout the course of college and some time afterward…but that’s another story for another day.

I had, in fact shat myself overnight

Even though we ran in different social circles at school, my friend and I still spent lots of summers together hanging out. Of course, on the nights when I slept at my friend’s house unexpectedly, I found myself sleeping in an old t-shirt, without an extra pair of clothes for the next day. On one particular morning, I woke up and went to the bathroom to discover that I had, in fact, shat myself overnight. I had felt stomach pains the night before, but still I was painfully ashamed of my little mishap. I checked the fold out bed and was thankful that nothing had stained that. What baffled me, of course was how my poop managed to make it to the front of my underwear and hardly touched the ass-end of my panties…I worried for the cleanliness of my lady bits, so I wet some toilet paper and wiped them clean.

Embarrassed and afraid to say anything to my friend or anyone in her family, I wiped my underwear with toilet paper, rinsed them as best as I could, dried them with more toilet paper, and put them on backwards. My thought process? The poop needs to stay on the poop side.

I put the rest of my clothes on and feigned illness to get my mom to pick me up and take me home. For the next few days, I continued to discover that somehow I was crapping my pants with some frequency, without even realizing it. Being the quiet and shy, embarrassed little girl that I was, I did everything I could to hide the evidence. I threw at least 3 pairs of underwear away, spent a lot of time in the bathroom wiping myself and wondering what the fuck was going on with my body.

Eventually, the problem resolved itself, and I went back to life as a pre-teen. We weren’t called tweens back then. I continued to pray to God that I would get my period like the other girls and wonder what it would be like when I finally did get my first period.

A few weeks later, though…it happened again. I crapped my pants. Again. And somehow it kept sliding to the front of my underwear. I couldn’t understand it. Was I sleeping on my stomach? This has got to be really bad for me, right? Of course, a normal kid may have gone to their parents for help…but me? I just kept throwing away underwear and spending a ridiculous amount of time in the bathroom.

The third time it happened, the brown spots were less brown…and more red. And all of a sudden, I knew what the problem was. Apparently, God had already answered my prayers three months prior, and I was cursed with Aunt Flo for all eternity. It was awful.

First, I had to tell my mom. I dreaded this. I dreaded this more than anything in the world. Not because my mom isn’t wonderful…but more so because I was incredibly embarrassed. And ashamed to talk about anything personal. Everything embarrassed me. I didn’t want to talk about things, I didn’t want to know about things…I just wanted to exist, hidden.

When I finally got out of the bathroom to tell my mom that I think I got my period…I failed to mention the last two months of pant-crapping horror. Seriously. She didn’t even know until she read this story.

I mean…No one TELLS you that it might come out brown the first few times. They just say you’re going to bleed from your lady bits. And that’s that. I saw the movie, Carrie. I knew what I was supposed to expect. This was not that.

You Pray

So of course, when I whispered to her, “I think I got my period…” she practically jumped for joy. Of course, for someone who was anxiously awaiting my period the way some moms await their daughter’s first dance recital…you’d think she would have been prepared. I mean sure, I didn’t ask her to order the period sampler pack when I was nine, but maybe a box of pads under the sink just in case? Yes. Pads. I know. Gross. Don’t even get me started on that. But whatever. I was eleven, and quite frankly, the thought of shoving something up my lady bits frightened the crap out of me. Just not the period crap. That was different.

My mom hadn’t had a period in years, so she didn’t have to deal with pads or tampons or bleeding like a stuck pig sixty fucking days of the year. So she had to run out to the store to get the things I would need. Before she left, I begged her not to tell anyone. I begged her especially not to tell my dad. Within hours, the entire family network knew that I had become a woman. Including my father.

Eventually, I came to accept the horrors of this monthly curse that I had prayed so hard for. I wanted to be a part of the club, but I realized that the other girls just wanted everyone else to be as miserable as they were once a month. These days, I’m not praying to get my period. Instead, I find myself asking, how long until menopause?

Was your first period even remotely as embarrassing as mine? On a scale of one to awkward, where does this fall? Tell me something painfully embarrassing about your childhood, my friends.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

WTF Wednesday: You Are Exactly the Same As You Used to Be

The only difference
That I see
Is you are exactly the same
As you used to be
 

17 years ago this coming summer, my mom took me, and my three best friends, to see the Wallflowers and the Counting Crows at The Midwest Bank Amphitheater Tweeter Center New World Music Theater concert venue in Tinley Park, IL that has changed its name so many times in 17 years, that I don’t even remember what it was called back then. We were 13. Yes, 13. Our very first concert. My 8th grade graduation present. Because my mom had taken my then-sister, now-estranged-sister Deven to Bon Jovi when she was 13. I used that as leverage. And besides, my mom was rockin’ out to Jakob Dylan with the rest of us.

Remember how I told you that Katie used to wear band tee shirts? The Wallflowers and Bon Jovi were the only two band tee-shirts that I had. And I wore them with pride. (Side note: If I can dig up the shirt, I’ll snap a picture of it later today when I stop by my parents house.)

So when Brian came home two weeks ago (during a pretty rough week) and said, “Guess who’s going to be at the Tivoli (small OLD amazing theater in downtown Downers Grove)?” and I couldn’t guess right anyways…he told me, “The Wallflowers.”

And I was all, “That was my first concert.”

And he was like, “I know, that’s why you should be excited! Because we’re totally going. Tickets go on sale tomorrow.”

The Wallflowers

So last night, we had an evening with the Wallflowers. It was like a jam session. It was fucking awesome. Jakob Dylan sings better in a studio, but they rocked out the instruments like motherfucking rockstars.

The only other bands/musicians that I’ve seen more than once  were Bon Jovi and The Backstreet Boys (stop it. Stop judging me. You know you loved boy bands a good decade ago…)But last night was different. Because I started noticing things. And they weren’t good things. While Jakob Dylan and The Wallflowers were “exactly the same as they used to be,” the crowd…the crowd was not.

The Difference 17 Years Makes

The Wallflowers

Not the world’s greatest picture, but I was busy watching a concert. Just saying…

Sure, there were still people who had gotten super stoned…There was still that woman who did a little coke before entering the theater and obnoxiously jumped up and down while everyone else was sitting…And I was still the youngest person at the venue…But the crowd (myself included) had aged significantly. WHY DOESN’T JACOB DYLAN LOOK OLD?!

No one threw their bras at Jakob Dylan…

I remember being 13, and watching bras flying on stage, thinking to myself, I would TOTALLY do that…you know, if it wasn’t a 13-year-old’s bra. That’d be a little awkward.

Most people were sitting down…

I mean it was a nice theater. The seats were comfy. It was more of a jam session that a crazy pumpin’ concert. And I got old. And kinda liked it.

No one had lighters anymore…

Back in the day, you may not remember this, but people used to hold up lighters when a great song was playing. No one carries lighters around anymore…It’s a lost tradition that our children and their children will probably never know. I remember a few years later, people would hold up their cell phones with the lights glowing…but now that doesn’t even happen. Because the cell phones are now cameras…which leads us to my most important point…

Half of the crowd was NOT watching the show…

Because they were too busy trying to capture it on film. You’ll note that I have one picture from inside the theater. ONE. No videos. No crazy awesome snapshots. Because I enjoyed the concert. I swayed to the music. I danced to my favorite songs. I took everything in. Including the fact that HALF of the people in the audience were too busy videotaping the show with their phones to actually appreciate the concert. It was worse when songs like One Headlight were playing or super awesome instrumental solos were happening.

What The Fuck?

Calendar After Tuesday WTF

What the fuck, people? When did we worry more about capturing things in life than actually living live? Stop for a minute. And just let life happen. My friend over at the B(itch)log wrote a post about a self-imposed technology strike and how people are all about capturing everything on film and it really resonated with me. (If you don’t read her, you fucking should. She’s awesome.)

I watched as all of these people were watching the LIVE concert through their tiny cell phones and tiny cameras, blocking the views of the people behind them, so worried about getting the right angle for the shot, that they must have forgotten where they were.

I’ll admit that I’m guilty of snapping shots of my food. I want to show the world the delicious things I eat. Because, really, you need to understand why I’m a chubby kid, right? But I try really hard to live my life, and only capture on film what I need to. We take hundreds of pictures on vacation, but the really candid stuff? The things that happen that you just WISH you had taken a picture of? Those are truly the best moments. Because we remember them in our hearts and in our minds.

Another friend of mine is taking a social media break. FOR LENT. 6 weeks without Facebook. Or Twitter. Or cat memes. She’s blogging about her experience without social media, so you should ALSO check out her blog, Grass Oil. Instead of living life through Facebook and Twitter, she’s just living life.

So go out there, friends, and LIVE LIFE. Stop trying to capture it all on tape. Unless it’s some momentous occasion, like when I dreamed (two nights ago) that I was in Paris with Vince Vaughn, Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Nero, Matt Damon, and David Tennant…and you know what? I still didn’t manage to get my picture taken with any of them!

What was your first concert? What’s changed since then?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

I Make a Terrible Housewife

When I was 12, my mom was diagnosed with Hepatitis C after years of poor liver counts and ignorant doctors who told my mother (who rarely drank, and even more infrequently drank to excess) to drink less. Miraculously, she fit the prerequisites for an experimental drug study using Interferon and Ribavirin which, until very recently, was the main drug combination used to treat patients with Hepatitis C.

Unfortunately, Interferon and Ribavirin come with some nasty side effects. Essentially, Mom was sick 4-5 days out of any given week for six months. As the responsible oldest child in our household, it became my duty to ensure that the family was fed, the house wasn’t a disaster, the new pool (our consolation “prize” for having a sick mom) was taken care of, and Mom had whatever she needed.

I essentially took over being Mom for a while. I made sure everyone had a hot meal at dinner time, maintained a clean-ish house, catered to my mom’s illness, and tried to keep everyone’s spirits high. It wasn’t easy. I frequently yelled at my younger-by-10-months brother to put his stuff away, because I JUST cleaned that room, scolded my 50-year-old father for trekking mud into the kitchen or ordered my 70-year-old grandfather to stop eating because I was cooking dinner.

My grandfather used to tell me I'd make some man a great housewife. Boy was he wrong.

Of course, that grandfather of mine was a real spitfire. Whenever I was cooking, cleaning or lecturing him on something, he would look at me with a sparkle in his old man eyes and tell me, “You’re going to make some man a great housewife someday.” His comments burned in my mind with fire and brimstone, and I would return his sentiments with a dagger stare and a snide remark. Sometimes I’d tell him I was a lesbian, and other times I would tell him I’m never getting married. Nothing ever phased him. He used to tell me, “If you didn’t tease me, I’d worry that you didn’t love me.”

 

Future housewife in the making? I think not.

My grandfather was right about my teasing him, but so very wrong about the kind of housewife I would become.

I may not be married, but I’ve been playing house with my boyfriend for years. In all reality, I make a terrible housewife. I can cook well, but that’s about as far as my housewife skills take me. I make a wicked mess whenever I create anything remotely delicious in the kitchen, and I genuinely hate cleaning. Maybe it’s because I did so much of it as kid. When I cook, I hope my boyfriend will pick up the slack and clean up after the my culinary tornado sweeps through the kitchen. On the days I don’t cook…I still hope he’ll take charge and clean his own mess.

I’m awful at keeping up with laundry…unless the laundry has been skunked. If I get as far as putting the laundry into the machine, I’m lucky if I remember to switch it over. Then, the really difficult part is removing clean laundry from the dryer and folding or hanging it. That’s the worst! I regularly have enough shirts and pants to get me through several weeks without doing laundry, and before my boyfriend, I used to buy new socks and underwear just so I didn’t have to do laundry. When I was out of clean underwear, I’d go commando, regardless of the season.

Vacuuming is my least favorite chore in the history of ever. There’s something about the heavy rolling machine pulling me with it as it moves. I don’t know why, but it makes me wiggy. As a kid, I would call myself a human vacuum and use my hands to push hair and dust around the floor in the hopes I could get away with not actually using the vacuum. I tried that once as an adult, and then I thanked God there was someone else who would vacuum for me. No one wants rugburn on their palms.

When I clean a room, it takes me hours, because I feel the need to go through every single drawer,  cabinet, and box in an effort to organize my life. I usually give up about halfway through with piles of the emptied drawers and closets getting shoved right back where they came from.

The last time I tried to clean the toilets, I got a raging deep cut, that didn’t healing properly and took weeks for me to recover. Yes, I cut myself cleaning the toilets.

Mopping with Mr. Clean Mop

There is nothing sexier than a man with a mop.

Luckily, my boyfriend doesn’t mind sharing the laundry duties with me. As soon as he learns that girl laundry needs to be hung, we’ll be A-OK. We switch off laundry days and he holds me accountable for my end of the bargain, or we do the laundry together and he still holds me accountable. He vacuums, because he saw how ineffective the human vacuum was, and I’m pretty sure he didn’t want to listen to me whine about my rugburns. I try to clean as many of my culinary messes as possible and have learned to limit the number of pans I use. Our bathrooms now have much less dangerous toilets, so we share that responsibility, as well. I make sure my bathroom is clean, and he’s in charge of his. If I cook, he usually cleans up. Sometimes, though, I don’t feel like cooking. So he’ll order and pick up food or make one of the three things he knows how to cook: soup, frozen pizza, or frozen dinners.

Dining Room floor clean with bona mop

I cleaned this whole room all by myself.

We make a pretty solid team, which is how it’s supposed to be. June Cleaver, eat your heart out. This girl’s ordering pizza tonight.

How are your housewife skills holding up? What chores are you responsible for?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Glamour Shots

Confession Friday: Yes, this happened.

As promised, more ridiculously embarrassing photos are provided in this post.

When my cousin, Rachel, and I were 7 and 11 respectively, our aunt in Kansas invited us out to visit her. Our first vacation without parents! This sounded promising. After weeks of preparation, shopping, and excitement, we were loaded onto a Southwest plane at Midway Airport (back in the days when you could accompany people all the way to the gate without a ticket.)

Aunt B picked us up and drove us to her home. We were greeted by her dog and our uncle, and told that our older cousin may stop by to say hi. It was all so much fun. Aunt B had planned all sorts of great things to do during our stay. We would go to her makeup store, and visit her salon (she owned her own cosmetics line, a store, and a hair salon), and she wanted to take glamour shots of us. Barbizon here we come!

So we went to the shops and got our hair done at the salon. For the first time in both Rachel’s and my lives, we had our hair dyed. Rachel told the ladies that they could do whatever they wanted with her hair, but I was more wary of the ladies with the scissors.

I informed them, not too quietly, that I was NOT very adventurous, and that they better not hack all of my hair off. Even more so, they could not do crazy layers. I was a nervous Nelly who hated change. I allowed them to do a little face shaping, but that was it. Rach ended up with a feathered haircut resemble something Farrah Fawcett would be proud of.

Then we went home with our new ‘dos and raided Aunt B’s closet. She wanted to dress us up like Barbie dolls, and that seemed okay to us. So we had a variety of outfits for our photo shoot prepared. I’ve included some of the high quality photography below.

And remember, we were 7 and 11
So maybe my future career as a model got a little off track…

For the record, when I was 11, I swore that I never wanted any of these pictures shown to anyone. Ever.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

A Middle School Misfit

When I was a socially awkward eleven-year-old misfit, I had two friends. My BFF since kindergarten, was significantly more popular than me, and adjusting well to the wonderful world of middle school. Our friendship remained intact, although I really didn’t see too much of her until high school. Another friend, I think, took pity on me and welcomed me into her life. Both were childhood friends from the neighborhood and complete polar opposites.

Don’t get me wrong. There were plenty of other children who were acquaintances or friends who went their separate ways with the segregated clique dynamic of middle class suburban middle schools. I just didn’t have a clue where I was or who I was or what I wanted…It took years to figure that out, and I’m still not quite sure I’ve gotten the hang of this thing called life.

I remember several things about sixth grade. The first is that I ate a lot of Edy’s Mint Chocolate Chip single serving containers for lunch. They were inexpensive and I had a tendency to hoard money, a habit that I wish I still had more control over. Long before cell phone bills, car insurance, and gas, I was holding onto money like Mr. Scrooge. As I was only eating a tiny container of ice cream most days for lunch, weighing myself every day to make sure I didn’t gain weight was a ridiculous habit. I never strayed from a 7 pound range that I would kill to be at right now (which still wasn’t “thin” by any stretch of the imagination).

The second thing I remember is while I was eating my Edy’s, I was typically eating it alone. In middle school, lunch seats were chosen the first week of school. They were then assigned for the duration of the year. There could be no more than six children to a table. Those were the rules. So, when the only friends I really had could not fit me at their tables, I accepted that with a dulled understanding.

Middle School Misfit

Yes, I had dirty socks, leggings (that were, by then out of style), probably boogers on the sleeve of that sweatshirt, and a bad widow’s peak. I was very much the epitome of not cool.

Then of course, there was picture day. It was 1994, so vests were somewhat trendy, but the combination of my outfit would not have been cool in 1987, let alone when I wore it. A purple turtleneck, remnants of my junior cheerleading days, layered with a cream colored knit vest. I couldn’t find a pair of pants to match this great ensemble, so I matched it with a pair of black spandex running shorts. Oh yes, spandex. Which leads me to the next thing I remember about being eleven and awkward: my first pair of jeans in six years.

After the debacle with the painted jeans from kindergarten, in which I refused to wear jeans ever again (due to the travesty that was outgrowing my favorite pair of pants), I decided that it was time to start dressing a little more with the times. My mother took me to Von Maur, which had just opened in the mall, and we scavenged the racks until we found a pair of khakis and a few pairs of jeans to try on and eventually buy.

Soon after my wardrobe change, I was finally coming into my own and making a few more friends. I even had a little clique of girls that called themselves my friends. By the end of sixth grade, I was still socially awkward, but at least I wasn’t alone.

Settled in with a group of the “bad girls,” I came into some really amazing friends. Amanda (the friend who likely took pity on me) was certainly the ringleader of the group. In sixth grade, she called my Crispy in the most endearing way. She was the first to smoke a cigarette, steal booze, and lose her virginity; one would think that hanging out with her would have sent me on the path of least resistance pretty quickly. But it didn’t. I maintained a sweet and naive innocence that stayed with me for several more years.

I spent many a summer nights sleeping over at her house and vice-versa. At all of the slumber parties, the girls would sneak out at around 11, and I would stay tucked into my sleeping bag. Part of me wonders if it was the fear of getting caught or the desire to sleep that kept me in the house. Some of the other girls would try to get me to drink or smoke, and Am would just look at them, wise beyond her years, and tell the girls, “it’s refreshing that Crispy is as innocent as she is. Why would you want to change that?”

At some point in the midst of seventh grade, Am and Jenny (my two besties at the time) were sitting in Am’s kitchen with me discussing our group of friends.

“I’m so glad that we’re friends. Our group is pretty awesome” Amanda had said to us. Jenny, the quiet one, smiled and told us that we were the best friends that she had ever had.

I told them, “It’s going to be so sad when we get to high school. I think that Kate is probably going to end up leaving our circle. She seems like she doesn’t really like hanging out with us anymore.”

“You’re probably right. But high school is going to be so fun. We’re lucky to have each other. We’ll be best friends for life.” Amanda had said with perfect confidence.

As the years progressed on, I ended up being the first to leave the group, making the cheerleading team in 8th grade, and becoming friends with a new group of girls. Thanks to Facebook, Amanda and I are reconnected, and I’m so happy to see that things are going exceptionally well for her. We had a million great memories together from grade school through middle school. She will always be a childhood best friend.

I ran into Jenny once in the lunch room, and it was one of the most awkward moments of my high school career. She and I had shared a really brilliant summer of friendship between 7th and 8th grade, but when it came down to high school politics, we just weren’t friends anymore. There was nothing to talk about.

Our junior year of high school, an announcement was made that Jenny had passed away in a car accident. I’m not sure whether drugs or alcohol were involved, but I know that she lived a lot in her young life. My mom and I went to the wake, and I was wearing my letter-man’s jacket. The stares that I got from Jenny’s at-the-time friends could cut through a rock. But it didn’t matter. She was my best friend in seventh grade, and dammit I was going to pay my respects.

Those girls hold a special place in my heart. They made middle school just a little less traumatic. We were all misfits, but we were friends.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!