Saturday, April 13, 2019

But you can call me Madam Thornback

I am the person who has an opinion on just about everything. I love to give advice. I want to solve problems. (I'm working on asking people before I offer up my unsolicited opinion.) But there was a distinct moment in my early 20s were I felt my I should keep my mouth shut, wrapped up in the insecurity of my standing. We had just gone wedding dress shopping with one of my roommates and best friend. Another former roommate, who had been married for a few years, started sharing advice, specifically about wedding planning. As I sat in the car, a wave of panic rushed over me. I didn’t have any authority with which to offer advice. I had plenty of opinions and ideas but I hadn’t actually done it. The things I had learned from years and years of TLC’s A Wedding Story and reading so many blogs and magazines just didn’t seem as valuable as my friends lived experience. It was the first time I realized that there was a growing divide between my friends’ lives and mine, and it was just going to get bigger as they argued with their husbands and had babies and experienced infertility and the frustrations of parenthood. Having never been in a relationship, I feel like there’s this huge part of people’s lives that I can only relate to through secondhand experiences and Nora Ephron movies. I felt like in that moment, my experiences and ideas weren’t as valuable because I hadn’t been there. My friends never made me feel less important but the dark cloud of my relationship naïveté was there nonetheless.

Let's back up here. Never been in a relationship? Never? Yes, never. On Twitter, there’s been this trend of people posting their dating stats—how many relationships they’ve been in, how many of those people were blonde, brunette, taller than you etc. Always one to want to jump into every online trend and meme, I made a couple joke tweets that are still sitting in my drafts folder. Because the truth is, the real stats are just a whole bunch of goose eggs. It would look like the “size” column if you made a spreadsheet of Utah boutique models:


I’m not easily embarrassed. Heck, most embarrassing moments make for a funny story later and we all know if it will get some laughs, I'll be the most self-deprecating. But at nearly 27 years old, my relationship experience, or lack thereof, is truly embarrassing for me. And something I don’t talk or write about much because of it. Sure, we all make jokes about how much dating sucks and how we aren’t going on dates but not many people my age have truly never been in a romantic relationship*. In fact, nothing ever really close. But I know I can’t be alone. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten over the fear of giving advice I may not actually be entitled to give. I’m the girl whose never been kissed offering up sex advice at the bridal shower with reckless abandon. I realize that my secondhand knowledge is important and my different experience is often the perspective that’s needed to give clarity to a problem. But recently, a similar wave of panic swept over me as on that car ride half a dozen years ago.

Am I missing out on the things I need to learn from relationships in order to become a better person? Am I missing out on the chance to learn how to communicate? Is not ever being in a relationship it’s own baggage I’ll one day take into a relationship? Does any 25+ year old man want to deal with that? Have I missed out on all the practice for the one that really counts? Do I even know what I don't know?!


I know now that my experiences are not less valid because they were experienced outside of a relationship. As a religious community and as a society at large, we focus so much on romantic and familial relationships. "A family is the most important connection you have" often looks more like "a family is the only important connection you have." 

Just because I haven’t been in a romantic relationship, doesn’t mean I haven’t and won’t continue to have meaningful relationships. Whether it’s family, friends, coworkers, I’m getting nuggets of the things I will eventually need to be in a successful relationship. Every relationship in our lives offers value and meaning—even if its just learning to recognize the ones that don’t offer value and meaning. I’m paying attention to the relationships around me. I’m paying attention to how I feel around certain people, so I can recognize those feelings later, even through the fog of endorphins. What do I feel like when I feel safe? Important? Special? What about when I’m not feeling those things? 

I'm grateful I've been able to figure out all these things on my own. It may be different but it's not wrong or any less valuable. We all have baggage. Things we're working on. Things we like, things we don't. 

They say it's better to have loved and lost, then never to have loved at all. But honestly, I'm grateful I've gotten to feel and learn from so many different kinds of love, without the loss part.

*I recognize here that as a member of the LDS faith, I have a lot of straight, cisgender privilege and there are many members of the LDS and LGBTQ+ community who have not felt comfortable being in fulfilling relationships for them.

**An explanation for the heading:
Image description: A tweet from Sophia Benoit that says "Omg I just found out that spinster used to be reserved for women 23-26 and that after you turned 26 if you were unmarried you became a.... THORNBACK. How fucking great is that name!?"

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Representation matters.

This is a post about how representation in media matters. But before we get the meaty-made-ya-think part, a back story that will seem like shameless self-promotion. (It's not but I'm writing on a blog so who are we really kidding?)

I was never one for the "wheelchair Halloween costumes". I want to think it's because I was cool enough to carry a clever costume sans ~sO InSPirIng~ gimmicks but if we're being honest, I just didn't want to draw any more attention to the 300 pounds of metal I'm sitting on, thank you very much.

This year though, Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer on the rolling podium was just too good to pass up. (And I'm working on the insecurity part).

I spent hours with the help of my cousin building a podium that attached to my chair. I got the perfect outfit. You'd think I was feeding the entire dessert crowd at a French bistro, I had so much mousse in my hair. On Halloween, my friends and I went out onto South Temple and got some action shots. We laughed and luckily we didn't get hit by a car.

This was the resulting video--editing props to Jeremy Walker.

I was so excited to watch it and post it and become internet famous and Melissa McCarthy was going to message me about how funny I was and maybe we'd become friends.

But 32 seconds later...all I could think was " that what I look like?"

And my criticism wasn't with my lack of makeup or ill fitting suit jacket. It was all about parts of my body that are with me every day.

Is that what I look like in motion? Are my hands really that bony? Are my arms really that gangly? Does my head really look like a bobble head when I go over a bump? Do I really have that much surface area on my right side?

All the fun and excitement and anticipation that led up to that moment were gone. Replaced instead by self-loathing and angst and doubt.

Now I've lived in this body for 25 years. I know what it looks like. But it's not very often I see this body from someone else's point of view. I see myself from my reflection, from my selfies, from the photos others take where I say "could you hold the camera up a little bit higher?"

It's like that awful moment you hear your voice in a recording (which was another cringe-y moment for me in that video). I was seeing my body the way everyone else was seeing it and I didn't like it.

After some tears and a sleep, I got over it.  I posted the video and got lots of laughs, just as I had hoped. But I really wasn't that over it. I still had that nagging insecurity and I really haven't watched it myself since.

It wasn't until yesterday, with that experience fresh in my mind, that I saw this Instagram post disabled model Jillian Mercado.

Wait, a second. That's kind of how my hand looks. And I'm not repulsed by her. Not in the slightest. She's gorgeous and unique. Why was I any different?

I have never really seen myself in media. Even in "we love every body" beauty campaigns, my body is conspicuously absent. I've long held strong opinions on representation in media but in this moment, at 25 years old, I realized truly how much never seeing my body portrayed not even as "beautiful"but just NORMAL has impacted my self image. I just need to see me.

And I have it easy! I am a blond haired, blue eyed, straight, middle class white girl with decent bone structure. I can afford makeup and hair products and clothes that flatter what I'm working with. I recognize that while my body is different, it still doesn't deviate far from what we have classified as the norm. I also recognize my worth is infinitely more than what I look like.

My friends who are disabled people of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, who are struggling just to get BASIC needs met, let alone worrying about what they look like--if you can't see it, you can't be it.

I'm not sure why I wrote this. None of it is an original or groundbreaking thought. I really don't need people to tell me I'm pretty (really, please don't). But as I sat on it, I realized earlier this week, I needed to write it for some reason, maybe there is someone who needs to read it today.

To you I say, don't hide yourself because you don't see yourself. You'll go on a weird journey when it comes to loving your body. You'll go from self-loathing to gratitude in an instant.

Your arms might be gangly. Your hands may be bony. Your head might bobble like a bobble head. You're normal.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Work in progress and a little Parks & Rec

So, this isn't the promised blog revamp. Just a...sorta-vamp. I took a design class this year so I figured I would have no problem designing my blog. Well, I didn't have a problem designing it but boy, actually putting it in some sort of language a computer can read...that's another question...

 In the meantime, this will do. I'll find some one who can teach me the technical stuff. Or I'll fork over the $100 to have someone do it. (Oh my heart, it hurts!) Or maybe I'll do both.

 Anywho, I threw a fun party a while ago (*cough* February 13 *cough*) for GALENTINE'S DAY! As an aspiring Leslie Knope, it only fit.

Blurry iPhone photos or it didn't happen!

Gifts for the Gals, Photo Booth props (that we forgot to use) and a little last minute Valentine artwork.

Close up. Don't mind the fold in the middle of the picture. I forgot that an 8.5x11 piece of paper doesn't quite fit in a 8x10 frame #reasonimaPRmajor

We did Leslie proud and had a waffle bar

The Gals. Some thought it was a goofy picture, apparently.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Can't stop, won't stop

So, I DO have some new stuff coming for ya. (Perhaps a new blog design...???)

I have been wearing cute clothes, just haven't been documenting it.

I have had some entertaining things happen to me, just haven't documented them.

So to get you through these next few weeks, check out my Facebook for random updates and thoughts. (People tell me they're good?)

And watch this video on repeat and pine for summer....

Monday, November 19, 2012

That awkward moment when you title a post "that awkward moment when..."

I generally am not a very awkward person. I can usually say what I mean and if something embarrassing does happen, I laugh it off as good story for later (oh boy, do I have a doozy for you later). There is one time when I just exude awkwardness. Its at any door on campus. (long explanation first, funny story second)

Getting into a building is like an intricate dance for me. Should I speed up because this person is going to hold the door? Should I slow down, let this person get in the door and then hit the button? Ok slow down. Oh shoot. They're holding it open but I already hit the button. "Oh, yeah, uh, thanks! Have a good day!" And then I usually shake my head at just how awkward I was.

I've discovered that it's usually safest to underestimate people's kindness and then be surprised when they are nice. It usually works well for me. But one day, I forgot my door opening manifesto.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the BYU library (I should probably be a little more familiar with it...), there are two sets of double doors at the entrance. When I hit the door opener button (there has to be a more eloquent way of saying that...) both sets of doors open at the same time. That's four doors. It's like the parting of the Red Sea, which is a little excessive for me but it gets the job done.

One day, I was heading up to the library and walking behind an older gent. I'm assuming he was a professor. I was pretty close behind him so I assumed he'd hold the door for me. Wrong. The door closed in my face so I backed up and hit the access button (ah, that's better). Just as I hit the button, the door slamming chap got up to the second set of doors, which opened automatically as he was reaching for the handle.

And the doors smacked him in the face.

I felt bad. I really did. It was most likely an honest mistake on both ends. But like all embarrassing stories, it makes for a good one later.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Sometimes, it's OK to...

-Tell every single person you see how excited you are for Thanksgiving and Christmas (They most likely agree. If they don't, run)
-Eat a burnt bagel for breakfast. And then burnt pizza for lunch (I'll let you know how Saturday goes).
-Stay in on a Saturday night and watch Little Manhattan and Hunger Games.
-Google "sometimes, it's OK..." to get some ideas for a blog post you're writing.
-To not like any of the results you got.
-Still be happy anyways because that was two (now three) ideas!
-Also question whoever said Sometimes it's OK to not keep your eyes on the road (who are you?!)
-Not take outfit pictures.
-To spend way too much time on Pinterest (I'm going to keep telling myself that)
-Be really attracted to Capt. Hook on Once Upon a Time.
-Be really glad the elections will be over in just a few days.
-To watch this video a million times

Monday, November 5, 2012

Oh yeah, Halloween.

Most college girls on Halloween:

I was a lumberjack. I had a beard. And an ax. And an attitude to match (not really).

We ate chili, watched Red Eye, hardly ate any candy (weird...), much fun was had.