Know-It-All, A Poem

I’ve been accused of being a know-it-all more than once or twice.
But what’s so bad about knowing? That’s what I’d like to know.
I like to learn and share my knowledge, it’s not full of judgement and pride.
It’s not my fault if people find themselves feeling insecure inside.
Instead they could just open there minds and learn and teach me too.
I do know some but I don’t “know it all” there’s so very much I don’t know.
But if you know things I don’t, I’d love to hear from you.
Yes, I’ve know a person or two who can get very annoying.
Claiming to be an expert on every subject and boasting of high IQs.
But just because someone knows a few things and likes to share them with others, it doesn’t mean they’re flaunting their knowledge.
Please believe me, it’s true.
Some just love to exchange thoughts and ideas and have a meaningful talk.
What’s so wrong with that?
I try to just be myself and not care what others think of me.
But that’s not always easy and people should remember, those who know also feel.
We don’t need more labels and judgement or anti-intellectualism.
What we need is more caring and knowledge and to extend those to everyone.

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To Conform or Not to Conform?

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Art by Melody Jean Johnson. Photo found on http://www.localcolorsart.com/node/175/857?page=4&titles=off

I’ve always been the sort of person who doesn’t want to be just like everyone else. I remember walking through the mall in college and seeing a shirt I liked in the window of The Gap. Even though I loved the shirt I wouldn’t buy it, not because I didn’t have the money or had a moral objection to shopping at The Gap but because I felt it would be too mainstream of me to wear a shirt from the window of such a popular retailer. Now that I’m older, and hopefully at least a little wiser, that seems silly. Being unique and original isn’t about what you wear or how you look.

There’s a misconception, especially in young people but some adults too, that individuality is an outside trait and one that must be shown by looking different from the norm. But I’m here to tell you that you don’t have to wear a scarf in the summer or be covered from head I toe in tattoos to assert your originality. (Not that you shouldn’t do those things but more on that shortly). The interesting thing about people who try to rebel against the mainstream is that they usually just trade one kind of conformity with another. Becoming a goth (for example) doesn’t make you unique, you’re just conforming to a different group. One of my favorite movie quotes is from SLC Punk “You wanna be an individual, right? You look like you’re wearing a uniform, you look like a punk. That’s not rebellion. That’s fashion.” Now to be perfectly clear, I am not opposed dressing any way or belonging to any (non-violent, non-prejudice) group if that makes you happy (or possibly melancholy in the case of Goths). Dress the way you want to dress because you love it and not out of some misguided attempt at individuality. So go ahead and cover yourself in tattoos and piercings be a goth or punk or hipster or steampunk or whatever as long as you love it. Actually, totally be steampunk, their clothes and accessories are awesome (okay, that’s just my opinion). Or dress in the latest mainstream fashions if you want too, it doesn’t stop you from being an individual because in the end we are all individuals. (Again more on that in a second. This may not be the most organized post).

It’s true your outside can reflect your individuality within but it’s not what makes you, you. And I have to say if you do choose to get a tattoo(s) I would recommend getting something original and not something you saw on Pinterest, and think long and hard about anything that’s going to be on you pretty much forever (again, my opinion). I also think buying actual original art, whether it be jewelry, handmade clothes or wall art can be a good way to show your originality on the outside and support artists. (Shameless plug alert) If you do that you should totally buy some of my mom’s art because it’s awesome (that one’s straight-up fact).

Back to the “we are all individuals” point of this whole post. Remember how as children we were taught that we are all beautiful unique little snowflakes, well it’s true. And since this is a Kindergarten lesson I’m going to quote a children’s book, On the Night You Were Born by Nancy Tillman “For never before in story or rhyme (not even once upon a time) has the world ever known a you, my friend, and it never will, not ever again…” No one has had the exact same experiences as you. No one has the exact same thoughts, feelings and actions as you. The only way to not be unique is to really try to blend in. Yes, people have similarities and common threads that tie us together. Some people have more original ideas than others. But in the end, however you look, you are an individual. One of my favorite Shakespeare quotes is often taken out of context and used to mean “be selfish” but in context it means quite the opposite. Here’s the whole quote “This above all: to thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then prove false to any man.” Polonius is a bit of a pompous fool but I have to agree with him there. He’s basically saying if you’re honest and true to yourself, you will be honest and true to others. I think that applies here too, if you are true to who you are inside, you can’t help but show that to others, regardless of how you look. So embrace your normalcy and your eccentricities and go out there and be that beautiful, unique snowflake they said you were in Kindergarten and I know you still are.

What’s Inside

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I am thin. I am thin and I’m not saying this to boast, it’s just part of my state of being. It is one tiny part of what makes up the whole person I am. Somehow, somewhere the shape of our bodies became a defining, to some THE defining, aspect of who we are.

I am thin and I am not a concieted snob who looks down on others because of how they look. It is no more fair of people to assume that I have that attitude than it would be for me to make assumptions based on someone not being as thin as I am. I usually don’t make the common assumptions about people’s eating habits and activity level based in their weight because….I am thin and I am a lazy pig. I have a fast metabolism and have always eaten large amounts of not always healthy foods. I actually like healthy foods but I also have a major sweet tooth and am more likely to order a burger than a salad when I eat out, which is all too often. I am fairly active but I’ve never stuck to an exercise routine for more than a few months. It’s really not fair because I know people who eat healthy and work out like crazy and still are not thin. They are probably healthier and more energetic than I but not always as thin. My bone structure is also petite which means a person can have the same or lower percentage of body fat than me and still not look as thin. If there were any fairness in the world I would weigh 200 lbs.

I am thin but not as thin as I once was nor as thin as many people are. Now I look pretty normal but I use to be really thin and get the standard “eat a hamburger” comments and even had a fellow college student ask me “Do people call you chicken legs?” (Seriously? Maybe when I was ten). Which brings me to….I am thin but that doesn’t mean I’m attractive or happy with my appearance. Some clichés are true, the grass does look greener on the other side. I can’t tell you how many girls with straight hair I’ve heard wish for curly hair and vise versa. I’ve known beautiful girls with “boyish” figures to obsess over Marilyn Monroe curves and lovely curvy girls to long for smaller breasts and narrower hips. Personally, although it’s far from perfect, I’m probably more confident in my body than my face. (I want it to be clear that I’m not compliment fishing or trying to make other people who may have similar aspects as the ones I hate about myself feel bad. My purpose is to show how critical most of us can be about our appearances, even someone like me who is relatively confident in how I look. And to show that skinny doesn’t automatically equal attractive and confident). My nose is huge it dominates my face. I’m one of the few women I know who doesn’t suck in my stomach for pictures but instead tries to avoid profile shots. Oh and my nose has one of those bumps on it people get when they break their nose, but I never broke mine. My ears stick out. Despite being in my thirties I still break out.  I’m seriously hairy, even after I shave you can still see the hair and I shave my legs and underarms nearly everyday. I wax my eyebrows about once a month and my upper lip every other month and pluck my chin every day, usually twice. I’ve even had some laser hair removal, I worry frequently people will notice my excess hair. People say I look young for my age but I notice the sunspots and beginnings of crow’s-feet. I probably consider my body my best feature yet I am conscious of my cellulite and the way my breasts sag after having a baby. And no, that’s not all but I need to move on otherwise I’ll just have pages of self complaints rather than a blog post. It may seem I think I’m hideous but in reality my confidence in my appearance varies grossly. One minute I can be strutting through the mall thinking I look fab and the next I’m staring at myself under ladies room fluorescent lights wondering how I could ever have imagined I looked good when I left the house.

I am thin and I am a hypocrite. I tell others that it’s what’s inside that counts and that you don’t have to he thin to be beautiful and I really do believe that. Still, I fear that I will become the F-A-T word that I wouldn’t call anyone else. I was concerned when I stepped on the scale the other day and saw that I weigh more than I ever have (well without a baby growing in me of course), not concerned enough to lay off the brownies though. It’s not that I don’t believe inner beauty is the most important thing and that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I just believe those platitudes apply to everyone save me.

Do you know what really scares me, what absolutely terrifies me? That some day my wonderfully beautiful little girl will come to me and say “mom, I’m fat” or “I’m ugly” or “my nose is too big.” I can’t stand to think my girlie who is so gorgeous, who shines so brightly may suffer these same self bashing thoughts. That despite being told repeatedly how wonderful she is inside and out and my efforts not to put my own appearance down in her presence, that she will look at herself through critical, disapproving eyes.  It brings tears to my eyes to think about it.

I wish I could conclude this post with a miracle solution that would make the deep-rooted obsession in our society with size and appearance disappear. I would like nothing better than to wave my magic wand and make everyone see their true worth. I don’t even fully understand it. How our country can have such a problem with obesity and also such a problem with skinny obsession and with eating disorders. From one hand we’re being sold grotesquely unhealthy chemical laced food and from the other diet pills and exercise videos. Consumerism manipulates us at every turn but it’s deeper than that too. I’m a reasonably intelligent, educated woman, I took gender studies in college. I know when I see that perfect looking girl on the cover of a magazine that she’s wearing an unholy amount of makeup and has been physically altered as much as is feasible then digitally altered as well. (And I don’t just mean airbrushing they shorten noses and chins etc. Apparently super models and movie stars just aren’t pretty enough on their own). I know that model, who is probably a very attractive woman to start and probably starves herself to be so thin, looks nothing like the picture on the magazine in real life. I know all that and still think “If only I could look like that, be that beautiful.”

I don’t have a perfect solution but maybe I have a place we can start, a way to contribute to all those who are striving to create social change on these issues. We can be aware that we are meant to look unique, we are not cookie cutter people and different people find different shapes, sizes and facial features attractive in others. We can all work to convince ourselves that our worth as human beings is not dependent on our outside appearance, convince ourselves enough to really believe the truth of it. I am thin and I am beautiful but my beauty does not come from being thin. It comes from the sincerity and sometimes sarcasm in my eyes. My genuine if a little crooked smile. My ability to think for myself and form my own strong opinions. My silly sense of humor. My complex and unique personality and yes, appearance that makes me…me. You don’t need these things to be beautiful because you have your own unique beauty and yes, I’m talking to YOU, whoever you are I think you’re beautiful and you are more than your BMI or the length if your nose. So lets stop just spouting platitudes about inner beauty and start really, truly believing them about ourselves.

What makes you uniquely beautiful? Pleas tell me in the comments section, really I want to know.

….You Might Be a Feminist

I have another confession ….and this one involves the F word. Yup, that’s right (hand raised) I am a feminist. Shocking though that may be, I have something even more shocking to tell you: you might be a feminist too. Now, I know what many readers are thinking “I’m all for equal rights and everything but I wouldn’t say I’m a….feminist.” Guess what? (Chicken butt). Wanting equality for women is the definition of feminism. It doesn’t mean you hate men or burn bras or insist on political correctness. (Although, you’re welcome to do any or all of those things. Actually, don’t hate men, that’s not very nice). It simply means you don’t think people should be treated differently based on gender.

All feminist aren’t the same. Feminist often argue over points amongst themselves, like whether certain things empower or objectify. We are doctors and teachers, lawyers and florists, stock traders and fast food workers and everything in between. And yes, even stay at home moms (like yours truly). Women fought for the right to choose whether to work outside the home or not. And there’s nothing wrong with choosing the latter. Although it makes me sad that most families can’t afford to have a parent stay home even if they want to. Now it seems like many women have a job and still get stuck with most of the housework.

Don’t feel left out if you’re a man reading this because you might also be a feminist. That’s right men who think women should be treated equally are feminists. Don’t worry just because the word has “fem” in it, it doesn’t make you less of a man. I would say it actually makes you much more of a man.

Why is the word feminist such a taboo? Because even in this day and age some people still want to keep women in “their place.” Most of them say they have nothing against women while simultaneously demonizing us. They call us radicals and (my favorite) feminazis. Because (sarcasm alert) wanting equal pay and an end to discrimination, so like the Nazis. These people want to tell us we’re wrong and shameful for standing up for ourselves or others. These people do everything they can to make us feel bad for something they are doing to us. And even some smart, independent women believe these lies.

Women are not a minority or a special interest group, we are actually the majority of people on this plant (albeit by a close margin). Of course it’s not okay to discriminate against minorities either. The problem is that sexism is so engrained in our culture that half the time we don’t even notice it. Women weren’t even allowed to vote in the U.S. until 1920. And that’s after fighting for suffrage for decades. That means when my grandmother was born her mother couldn’t vote. Although, many atrocities have been committed against many groups of people in our culture, I believe discrimination against women is the oldest and deepest prejudice. Before people discovered other cultures to look down on, most societies oppressed women. That’s why it’s so hard to change.

We’ve come a long way and in a relatively short time but those who say we’ve achieved complete equality are seriously mistaken. You only need look on the Internet for a few minutes to see chauvinism is alive and well. My favorite quote about women’s rights is actually from the TV sitcom Malcolm in the Middle and is said by the usually bull-headed Reese (after a change of heart near the end of the episode of course) “I guess what these protesters are trying to say is that women, real women, aren’t that different from regular people. They want the same things that men want. Only men don’t have to hold a big protest to get them. And women shouldn’t have to either.” We shouldn’t have to be feminists really, equality should just be expected. I shouldn’t have to tell my daughter that she can grow up to do any job even if its a stereotypical male job. That should be obvious to any little girl, knowledge that’s taken for granted.

Many will read this and think “yeah, but men and women ARE different.” And I can’t say that they aren’t, at least generally. Obviously men and women have biological, physical differences (talking about medical sex not chosen gender preferences). Most men are physically stronger than most women. Studies have also shown that women are more likely to look at details while men are more likely to look at “the big picture.” There have been numerous studies that have shown differences in the way most men and women think and handle situations. But these are all generalizations and don’t characterize all women or all men (well besides the difference in reproductive organs). Men are often seen as more logical while women are seen as more emotional. I’m not going to say that my husband is illogical (he’s really not) but there have been several instances where I have been the more logical one in a particular circumstance. Many men are also prone to losing their temper (yes, many women are too) and anger is an emotion. It drives me crazy when men with anger management issues tell me women are too emotional. Assuming a person likes certain things or acts in a certain way because of which naughty bits they were born with is ridiculous. I could write a whole post just on how stupid it is men and women are supposed to like different foods from each other.

So, I’m a feminist and I’m not embarrassed or ashamed. I don’t slap men for opening doors for me or fit into this made up stereotype of what a feminist is. It is absolutely never wrong or shameful to demand respect for yourself or others. So don’t be afraid to use the term feminist anymore (if you already used it, good for you). Stand up for women’s rights! Shout it from the rooftops “I am a feminist!” (Acrophobics are exuded from that last one but everyone else, grab your ladders and bull horns). I thought about ending this post with a sappy list about things women “are,” you know like “women are strong, women are smart.” But then I realized that would be going against the very point of this post. The only thing that all women are is individuals and we should be treated as such.

* I am happy to post comments that pose a different viewpoint than my own. However, remember that I have full moderating powers (mwahahahah) and will not post hateful or prejudice comments.

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Nerd is the New Cool

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The other day I read a Cracked.com article entitled The 7 Most Ridiculous Things About Calling Out Fake Fangirls. I largely agreed with the article although I can understand how it can be frustrating when someone takes something you love, that they know nothing about, and calls themselves a fan. (Major run-on sentence alert). Case in point, I had to roll my eyes at a girl I used to work with, who in the past had proudly declared “I don’t read,” (not everyone has to be a bookworm but I don’t think not reading is something to brag about) when she came over to me while I was reading a Harry Potter book and said “I just became a Harry Potter nerd.” I told her that was cool then she said “yeah, I saw the third movie and liked it, then I saw the first two and liked them too.” It was all I could do not to full on face palm right in front of her, so I get that can be frustrating but who’s the judge of true fandom? The whole article got me thinking, what constitutes a “fake” fangirl/boy or nerd and am I one?

Before we proceed I should clarify a couple of things. I’m going to use terms like geek and nerd interchangeably, even though many argue there are differences. I’m also talking about geeks/nerds in the sense of being fans of things deemed geeky (which I consider myself) and not in the really smart, good at math and technical stuff sense (which I am not). These different definitions often overlap but you can certainly can be one without being the other. Also, I’m apologizing in advance, it’s going to be really hard for me to stay focused on the point and not just go off on a million tiny nerd tangents (maybe “a million tiny nerd tangents” should have been the title of this post). I should also apologize to those readers who may not be predisposed to geekiness, hopefully you won’t get totally lost in all the references.

The above article mostly focuses on the claim that there are “fake fangirls” who go to conventions in revealing costumes just to get attention. Most the complaining about poser nerds only calls out girls and women (sexism anyone?) as if only girls pretend to be something they’re not to fit in. This assumes that being geeky is now cool. I’m not going to say that’s not true, the stigma attached to nerdiness has definitely diminished in the last several years. It’s hard to argue that things that use to be considered nerdy aren’t popular now, when comic book movies are often the highest grossing movies now days. And graphic tees that use to hard to find outside of Hot Topics are sold at department stores like Macy’s. However, there are certainly those who still look down on all things geek and many people think there’s only an acceptable amount of nerdiness. Some people might enjoy comic movies but would still consider collecting said comics beneath them. Also, certain types of things are often considered nerdier than others, example being, World of Warcraft (and other MMORPGs) is generally considered geekier than Halo (and other first person shooters). I still get occasional sideways glances when I show up to a mommy and me class sporting a Firefly tee-shirt. That’s not to say geek sheik hasn’t come a long way, 15 years ago I doubt anyone would be trying to defend their nerd status.

I can say with some certainty that I am not one of the aforementioned scantily clad girls at conventions (whether they are seeking attention or sincere fans). Mostly, because I’ve never been to a convention (hold for gasps of shock). Unless you count Disney Hollywood Studios’ Star Wars Weekends as a convention. Do you need to go to conventions to be a nerd? It’s not that I have anything against conventions, I would probably really enjoy them, they’re just expensive and before becoming a stay at home mom, I usually worked weekends. I do regret that we were in Orlando during two Star Wars Celebrations and didn’t make it to either. I’ve also never cosplayed out side of Halloween. Again, it looks fun but I’m just not a crafty sort of person that is good at putting together awesome costumes. I’m lucky if I pull together a half decent Halloween costume (usually with a lot of help from the hubby). I’m also a perfectionist and it always drives me crazy when I can’t get my costume to be exactly like the original character’s and I’m too cheap to spend the money it takes to make a costume look just right. The picture at the start of this post? That’s from a Halloween party at our house.

Oh, side note, I did go to A Comic Shop in Orlando to get comic book writer Daniel Way’s autograph. There we are, pictured below (it was St. Patrick’s Day and I’d just had a root canal).

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There are so many different things to geek out about now days. Some people have a wide variety of interests while some tend to focus on one. For example some people are science fiction and fantasy fans, while some are just one or the other. More specifically, some people are just into Anime while others love Anime and Star Wars and comic books and possibly ten or twenty other nerdy past times. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being focused or more broad in your fandom. I tend to dabble in a lot of different things and to focus on individual things I like and not broader genres. I wouldn’t consider myself a general Anime fan but I am a big Cowboy Beebop fan (I like a few others too). I do read comics but only collect a few titles (although, I’m about 18 months behind on reading them, guess how old my daughter is?), mostly because there are just so many titles. I’m sure some would ask me to turn in my nerd card just based on that.

I’ve seen so many comments on the above article and others with people boasting about “knowing their s#%^*.” I often wonder how much knowledge you need about something to be a “true fan.” Do you need to stay up nights studying so you can prove your love of something to others? I really love Star Wars, they’re just plain awesome movies. My knowledge of Star Wars is somewhere between your average casual viewer (you can’t be married to my husband and not learn something about Star Wars) and your hardcore, always wins Star Wars Trivial Pursuit, fan. Does that mean I’m not a Star Wars fan? I know there are much, much bigger fans but does that somehow negate my fandom? I don’t believe it does. Even with Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and no one, I mean No One better question my Buffy fandom), I don’t know the name of every random side character in every single episode.

Another criticism I often see and hear is the “you jumped on the bandwagon late and I’ve been a fan for years” argument. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fun to brag about how long you’ve been a fan of something. I love to tell people how I started watching Buffy first season (although it was part way through first season and I stopped watching for a while but that’s another story). Now I’m not new to nerdom, I grew up watching Star Trek The Next Generation and remember watching old school Dr Who when I was so young all I really remember (vaguely) are the beginning credits. I watched X-Files from the very beginning (although not through the bitter, terrible end) and kept up with all the black oil twists and Krycek turns. Granted it’s been so long now I wouldn’t know The Smoking Man from Sunday (note to self re-watch X-Files). I’ve always been a fan of fantasy literature, long before Harry Potter. However, I’m not very good at keeping up with the latest thing and am often late to watch/read something amazing. There have even been times I’ve seen a movie and then after loving it read the comic or book (Scott Pilgrim, Watchmen). Sometimes, I even love a movie without ever reading the book or comic (scandalous, I know). I also have a long list of things everyone tells me I’ll love that I still haven’t tried (new generation of Dr. Who). My point is (I know this post has a lot if rambling), when someone discovers something really doesn’t affect how much they love it. I mean, I wasn’t alive when The Lord of the Rings was published, it doesn’t make me like it any less. All those people just discovering Joss Whedon after The Avengers? I welcome them and hope they watch and read some of his less recent works. If anything, his new popularity makes me feel vindicated, like “see, I told you he’s awesome” (whoever took him off Wonder Woman must be kicking themselves). Even if you didn’t discover the joys of hardcore fandom until yesterday it doesn’t make you a lesser fan in my opinion (although perhaps a tad less experienced). One of the best things about nerd culture is that it has always provided a place for the social outcasts to be accepted, so let’s not start turning people away at the door.

Sometimes I question if I’m some kind of nerd wannabe. I occasionally wonder if I’m a poser for wearing my Batman shirt when I don’t collect any Batman titles (although, I don’t wonder about my Harley Quinn shirt since I love Batman the Animated Series and she was created for the cartoon originally). I see people who really devote they’re lives to fandom and think I might fall short. One of my pet peeves is when people pull the “if you were a real fan…” card. At one point Logo had a fan voted top 100 Buffy episodes count down. Of course they listed the result on their website as well and many people including myself were leaving your typical “I think this episode should have been on there instead if that episode” comments. Then someone had to chime in with an “if you were true fans you wouldn’t be arguing about this. You would see that all the episodes are masterpieces…blah blah blah” comment. First off, I believe I’ve been clear about how I feel about people questioning my Buffy fandom. Second, real, true fandom (like friendship) isn’t about blind devotion but about seeing the faults and loving something anyways. So feel free to cast aspersions in the comments as to my nerdiness. I may not be the biggest baddest geek around but I love my obsessions passionately and isn’t that what fandom is all about? So (wokka wokka alert), can’t we all just geek along?

And now just because it’s fun, here’s a picture of Boba Fett with refrigerator magnets stuck to him.

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Too Cool for Life After High School

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For a while in college I worked as a public safety officer (security guard) for a local mall in Salt Lake City Utah (where I’m originally from). If you know me you’re probably thinking this was an odd job for me to have and you’re mostly right. I never really thought of myself as the security guard type but really the job was mostly customer service. I liked the job in some ways, helping people out, catching people doing inappropriate yet hilarious things, playing jokes on coworkers and so on. In other ways I hated it, patrolling (walking around) parking lots by myself (bored out of my mind) in all-weather. I often hoped something would happen so I’d have something to do. Not something bad like someone’s car getting broken into or someone getting injured. Just something like a panhandler I could politely ask to leave property or even someone asking me for the time.
Anyways, this post isn’t actually about my job at the time but a conversation I had while working there (don’t ask me why I explained the job then, I just felt like it, so there). I was talking to another safety officer, let’s call him K, (we probably shouldn’t have been talking since we were generally supposed to be split up and each patrolling a different area, we’ll pretend we had a legitimate reason to be in the same place) about high school. When he asked me if I would go back to my high school days if I could. I believe my response was something to the effect of (mild profanity alert) “hell no!” To which K responded ” you must not have been popular then, if you were popular you would want to go back.” At the time I just shrugged it off. I though it was an annoying response but I didn’t initially realize why. My feelings were hurt a little at his assumption but that wasn’t it. I wasn’t particularly popular in high school but that doesn’t mean I didn’t like high school. I really did. Of course I liked my friends and although I wasn’t “popular” I had quite a few. I liked getting good parts in most of the plays I auditioned for (unlike college where I got tiny parts in a tiny percentage of plays I auditioned for). I even liked a lot of my classes. I have countless awesome high school memories.
So why, even when I’d only been out of high school for a few years did I not want to go back? The answer is in the question really, I didn’t want to move backward, I wanted to move forward. I’d already done a fair amount since high school. I was at least half way through college and already dating the wonderful man I would marry. Of course there were negatives to high school too. The biggest being that my mood each day was determined by whether the boy I liked at the time talked to me. I also have countless bad memories from high school to go with the awesome ones. But every stage in life has its bad points (as well as good) and that’s not why I was glad to be done with the awkward teenage years.

I don’t want to bash poor K for missing high school so much. He was a couple of years younger than me and had been out of high school for no more than a year. It wasn’t surprising that he hasn’t done much since graduation. It’s the adults, in what should be the prime of their lives, still pining over high school that make me sad. It’s a clear indicator that you haven’t done much with your life if you honestly want to go back in stead of ahead. I don’t mean nostalgia, I get nostalgic a lot. And I’m sure a lot of patents can relate, when sometimes I think how nice it was to just be able to go out and see a movie spur of the moment without finding a babysitter. But of course I don’t really want to go back to my life before my beautiful girl was born, (well maybe for a few hours occasionally) she’s everything to me now. If you find yourself constantly thinking you want to go back to the way things were at some point in your life, my suggestion is to get out and do something with your life now! It doesn’t have to be something huge and world-changing, just do something. Also, really think back to your glory days. Were they really as perfect as you remember them? Somehow I doubt it.

I hope I haven’t been insensitive. I realize there are people whose current situations are so bad or who have had something so awful happen to them that they have totally legitimate reasons for wanting to go back to the past. And yes, I see the irony that my first post was about wanting to be a kid again (but just for 10 minutes). I really miss times, places and people from my past and I’m sure sometimes I get so caught up in past events I don’t stop to enjoy the here and now. I just can’t imagine living my whole life like that.
I hope K has grown up and stopped wishing for his popular high school days. Maybe he made billions with a life changing invention or saves lives everyday as a brilliant surgeon. Okay, probably not but I’d be happy just to know he has a job he enjoys and friends and maybe even a nice family of his own. As for me, I don’t care that I wasn’t popular in high school, I had fun. I know I won’t live happily ever after because no one does. The stuff that t-shirt (you know the one with the smiley face) says “happens” is always going to happen. I guess what it comes down to is you can’t go back, life is a one way track. So why keep looking back? You’ll just miss all the scenery you’re passing right here and now.

Please Rain on My Parade: Disney Parades and Friendship

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Once upon a time (as recently as last year) I was a performer at a certain popular theme park in central Florida. And yes (magic spoiler alert) I was one of THOSE performers, wink wink (I’m forgoing the “nudge nudge, say no more” so it doesn’t sound like an innuendo. If you thought it was an innuendo, shame on you). Did I enjoy my job? Yes. Do I miss it terribly and sometimes tear up watching Disney travel commercials or even Mickey Mouse Club House? Embarrassingly, yes. In the end however it was a job. A complain about your managers, count down the hours till quitting time job.

The Disney World Entertainment department is vast and complicated. Spanning all four theme parks, two water parks, special events, resorts, parades, shows and probably more things I’m forgetting. When I started there I had just moved to Florida and didn’t know anyone besides my boyfriend (now husband) who I’d moved there with. It’s hard to make good friends in Disney entertainment since a performer could find themselves in a completely different area everyday. If you’re full-time you’re allowed to “bid” a location for the season. This helps but even if you are scheduled your bid location everyday (there’s no guarantee you will be) it’s still only temporary. I found myself making friends in each new bid only to end up at a different location then all of my new-found friends for the next bid season. So for the first several years I worked there I didn’t make any really close friends.

Then something changed, something I had mixed feeling about. Since I first got the job I’d wanted to get trained in a show or parade. I finally got scheduled parade training, unfortunately it was in a parade and role I really didn’t want to learn. I was going to learn a role that had a reputation for being very physically taxing in the Magic Kingdom daily parade as well as general training in the night parade (which I wasn’t as worried about). Now you need to realize I was one of those kids who barely finished the mile run in gym and always brought up the rear. (I’m not sure how I ever survived my job, really). I somehow completed the training then wasn’t scheduled to perform my new role for months.

When I finally did it for the first time….I hated it. Not only was it physically exhausting but I found I actually preferred having one on one interactions with the guests (Disney speak for theme park customers). Many performers prefer parades and shows because they love dancing or they like performing for a larger crowd but mostly because they don’t like the one on one guest interaction. That sounds terrible but I don’t blame them. This might burst your bubble but guests can be annoying, obnoxious and flat-out rude. Let me get something straight it’s NEVER okay to pull, poke, grab, push, hit, grope or physically or verbally abuse ANYONE no matter what they are wearing or what job they are doing. Also not okay to encourage you’re children to do those things, for that matter. Yes, sadly, it’s totally common for performers to be mistreated besides the standards annoyances. Can you really blame people for not wanting to deal with that? Not that I was perfectly patient or impervious to rude guests. For me the magic just outweighed the bad. The moments of playing peekaboo with babies, making a little kid’s day just with a high five or the middle aged women with autograph books exclaiming as excitedly as any child “it’s our first time at Disney World!” All these little magical moments were worth the prodding and obnoxious questions (not to mention the dripping sweat and sore muscles).

Okay, tangent over, back to the story. At first I was rarely scheduled parade shifts, mostly just on overtime days. Then after a couple of years they revamped the parade, meaning they changed the music and choreography and gave the floats a makeover. At first I wasn’t scheduled to train for the new incarnation and I was ecstatic. Then, the week of training, they added it to my schedule and being the good cast member (Disney speak for employee) I was, I didn’t call in sick. This time it was different because they didn’t train very many people to start with so I was scheduled it constantly. Then the worst happened. They “cast” me in the parade. Casting is different than bidding in that you have no say in if or where the powers of Disney will cast you. Then part way through the season they trained me in an even worse role for the night parade, which up to this point had been the easiest part of my day. I have a theory that if you show up to work and do your job well they train you in all the crap no one want to do because they know you’ll show up and do it.
Parades weren’t all bad. In a ten-hour shift I only was actually performing for less than 2 1/2 hours. (Of course there was costume prep time and such as well). Entertainment cast members always get a lot of down time (you know, so they don’t pass out or get heat stroke) but even by those standards that’s a lot of break time. Don’t get me wrong you need the time to recover from performing parades but it’s still pretty awesome. It also gives you time to get to know people. In fact I made most my best friends doing those parades. Even after they changed the parades again and I wasn’t trained in the new ones, we stayed friends. Even now that I’ve moved half way a crossed the country we’re still friends and I miss them fiercely. No offense to the friends I’ve made here but it takes years to build the kind of friendships I had in Florida.
I got use to performing in the parades after doing it every single day, though I can’t say I really liked it, at least most of the time. Have you ever tried doing the same routine to the same short clip of music over and over for 30-45 minutes 5-6 times a week? It’s monotonous to say the least and it was still exhausting till the end. I hoped for rain every day, particularly for the night parade since my unit didn’t go out in even light rain. But now when I look back at my time in the parades department, I don’t think of the sweat, exhaustion, aching back and even bruises. I think of stopping for ice cream in the cafeteria, chatting at lunch and walking from the tunnels (yes Magic Kingdom has tunnels under it. No they’re not very interesting) to the production center with friends. The backstage board games and inside jokes are what I take from those years and I wouldn’t trade them for an easier shift. I hate to say my point is that every cloud has a silver lining because sometimes something just sucks. But sometimes clouds do have silver linings and something that sucks turns out to be kind of wonderful.
Disclaimer: I’m sorry to people who have never worked at Disney if this wasn’t the scandalous tell-all account to were hoping for. I’m sorry to Disney cast members (current and former) if this blog entry revealed too much magic. (We can be very serious about preserving the magic). I tried to only give as many secrets away as I needed to tell the story.