Feline

“No Scrubs” by TLC came out 17 years ago, and boys are still hanging out the passenger side of his best friend’s ride, trying to holler at me.

In the past three days, I have noticed an upsurge in the frequency at which this phenomenon has been occurring. Whether I be trotting into my apartment from a night out with friends, into the grocery store to buy ingredients that I will attempt to use later in a meal that will certainly not turn out as planned, or simply embarking on a leisurely stroll, dudes with muscle cars feel the need to “holler” at me.

Rap music blaring, base bumping, and the unmistakable vibrato of a young adult male simultaneously make me jump and look over my shoulder on a too-frequent basis.

I shared my frustration with this cat-calling nonsense on Facebook the other day, as mature twenty-somethings do, and was even more annoyed by the responses I received.

The direct status I posted reads:

“Dear men,

Whenever you’re faced with the decision of whether or not to yell “nice ass” out your car window at a human woman, pick no. Every time.”

Sassy, a bit condescending, and moderately funny. My typical flavor.

And also a direct reaction to an experience I had just previously had, late at night, when I was walking from the sidewalk to my apartment, by myself.

One commenter pleaded, “But what if she has a nice ass?”

Great question, sir! And I thank you for asking. If she does indeed have a nice ass, notice! Glance at it as you drive by. We as humans are sexual beings. You can even fantasize about her ass in your mind if you want to! But for goodness sake, do NOT slow your speed, roll down your window, and shout at her when she is in a solitary state in the caliginous night. You will undoubtedly frighten her and leave residual paranoia until the sun rises the next morning.

Another (male) commenter asked, “Can I yell it at guy?”

This is a toughie. I am obviously not a guy, so I don’t feel qualified to offer a legitimate answer to this question. From my perspective, being shouted at, even if it is a “compliment” can be startling, if unexpected. In fact, I have lived my adult life with a tiny pink bottle of mace in my purse, just waiting to be used in the inevitable situation in which I no longer feel safe. But I don’t think guys typically emerge from their homes with a constant fear instilled in them by their parents that they could be assaulted while innocently walking the streets at any time.

Well, white, cisgender, straight guys, anyway.

In sum, I’d say don’t do it, regardless of the sex of the person you are hypothetically “hollering” at, just to stay on the safe side.

And my favorite comment, also made by a dude: “I would be flattered.”

Flattered, you say? In the exact context in which I experienced it? Late, late at night, as a 110-pound woman with next to no muscle mass, no company, and no mechanism of defense? As you’re walking maybe a few yards’ distance from your car to your residence with the intention of coming home and going to bed without being involuntarily degraded, objectified, and sexualized by a stranger driving by in his vehicle? You would be flattered?

“Nice ass!”

Flattered.

I can assure you, being cat-called summons a whirlwind of emotions within my little body, but “flattered” is certainly not one of them.

What do you guys get out of doing this? Is it to impress your buddies in the passenger seat? Is it because you feel like you’ll get something out of it? Get a rise out of us? Get our number? What? WHAT IS IT?

Sigh.

I have been fuming over this for the past few days, and my therapist has advised me to write out my feelings so that I can stop dwelling on them. I’ve done that, taken my Melatonin supplements, and now my nice ass will drift into a dreamy slumber.

Goodnight,

 

M.

 

 

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Solicitude

Guess who’s back. Shady’s back.

Oh, and me.

It’s funny how I  attempt to maintain a blog during the school semester. Turns out, it simply cannot be done.

Today marks the conclusion of my first (and last) summer semester of college. That’s right-I voluntarily signed up to attend a 7:30 AM lecture twice a week at a school located 45 minutes from my apartment.

Oh, yeah. Did I mention I moved out?

I am now the resident of my state’s capital city. I have a “Maddie-sized” basement apartment in a cute, old-fashioned house near downtown. I live all by myself, though I had a beta fish named Brendon Urie for a time, but he died within two weeks. May he rest in peace.

Anyway, turns out moving out is really super duper fun. Nobody gets mad at you for listening to the same Twenty-One Pilots song on loop for three hours. Nobody makes you do the dishes or sweep the floor. Nobody tells you to put pants on. Or to do your laundry. Or to feed yourself.

Nobody except you.

Sometimes my dishes pile up. Sometimes my lightbulb burns out in my bathroom and I shower in the dark for 6 days before doing anything about it. Sometimes a spider emerges from the corner of the room and I spray it with Raid until it ceases to move. Sometimes my fridge is empty so I eat peanut butter for dinner.

C’est la vie.

Initially, moving out had done wonders for my anxiety. I felt like I had much more control over my life. After all, I’m an adult with my own place and everything that happens here within my own place is entirely up to me. Liberating, yet terrifying.

It turns out that you can’t simply abandon your anxious, perfectionistic self. When I moved, she moved with me. As I mentioned before, I was enrolled in summer classes at my university, in addition to beginning a program to become a certified pharmacy technician. As the end of the semester neared, my body decided that we were exhausted, and before I knew it, I was having a panic attack at work.

I was “processing shipment”, a term in the retail world that means taking clothes out of bags, putting sensors on them, and hanging them on hangers. Anyway, as I was doing this, the room gradually began feeling hotter and hotter. I broke out in a sweat, and found it difficult to breathe. I fanned myself, gasped for air, and finally retreated to the break room in the back, doubled over, and hyperventilating.

I sat in a chair, cradling my head in my hands, and tried to force myself to breathe. The air kept getting thinner, and the temperature kept rising, and finally, I ran out of my workplace-tears and mascara streaming down my flushed cheeks-and was on my way to the doctor’s office.

That was rock bottom.

Since then, I’ve taken some serious therapeutic action. As advised by my doctor, I’ve been exercising regularly, getting proper nutrition, and removing stressors from my life. I quit my job (the one that housed my anxiety attack) and moved to a much more flexible, relaxed one. I’m taking the fall semester off at the Uni (a concept that initially gave me much more anxiety than any school semester ever could) and now I basically get to work when I want to and attend Pharmacy Tech school.

Things finally feel manageable. Things feel comfortable. Suspiciously comfortable.

I’ve noticed over the past few days that just when I feel like I’m allowing myself to enjoy life, I am overcome with guilt. My brain buzzes with constant, self-shaming thoughts: “I shouldn’t be this happy, I shouldn’t have this much free time, I shouldn’t sit still or relax.”

And so I don’t.

The best way I can describe chronic anxiety is when your mind races so fast that it forces your body to attempt to keep up with it-an impossible task. From the moment I open my eyes to the time I close them for the night, my entire body is buzzing. That’s the best word for it.

Then you combine that with eating disordered thoughts, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster. It’s been seven years since I’ve been weight-restored, and I still can’t eat a soft pretzel (one of my ABSOLUTE favorite foods) without mulling over it for the next three days, not resting nor sleeping until I perceive that I’ve adequately purged the calories from my system by means of vigorous cardiovascular exercise.

I want so badly to let myself be happy, but the truth is, I’m afraid of what that entails.

 

M.

 

 

 

Innominate

Due to a series of unfortunate events and frustrating assumptions being made about me, I’ve decided to become faceless here. I feel that right now, removing my identity will keep my blog a safe place for me to therapeutically express my feelings without backlash that will inevitably affect my personal life. Cowardly, maybe, but thou hast no right to judgeth me.

For my own sake, I am now going to put an assumption or two to rest. I used to share new posts on my Facebook and Twitter feeds, which granted access to both friends and foes, simultaneously labeled as “followers” on the Internet.

One individual, whom I can only assume was a dedicated reader of mine, concluded rather falsely that I am “struggling,” (in my faith, perhaps?) and felt the need to share this conclusion with a mutual peer. Because people talk, this got back to me and honestly, it angers me deeply that someone whom I haven’t spoken with in over a calendar year would have the audacity to assume that I am “struggling,” and then proceed to share his/her false conclusion with others.

Like I said, for my own sake, I am going to clear the air here. I am not struggling. If anything, I feel that I am becoming my most authentic self. I feel that I am approaching a place in my life where I am beginning to make peace with all of my contradictions and inner conflicts. If anything, I am flourishing! I am happy, truly happy, for quite possibly the first time in my life. I am accepting the pieces of me that make me different than most others, and embracing them. I am building a mature belief system by consciously deciding what I do and do not believe, what I am and what I am not, and am maintaining my integrity by not allowing anything or anyone to change me. I am in a good place. A strong place.

So, if you’re new to DownWithTheNorm, and have the time and/or interest, you can read my personal introduction here.

I’d also be delighted to receive an introduction from you! If anything, the purpose of this site is for me to be understood, and to understand differing viewpoints and learn from the diversity of humans.

If you’re a returning reader, it’s still me, and I am so grateful to all who take the time to read.

M.

Unveiled

The Summer season is excruciatingly stressful for me, despite my lack of academic engagement, for one reason and one only: Swimsuits.

This past Saturday was the debut of my summer body, and it was nerve-wracking. I shimmied into my high-waisted, Marilyn Monroe-style bathing suit, sucked my gut as close to my spine as I could, and forced myself to take a peek in the mirror.

That peek turned into a 15-minute inspection, and, as always, I did not measure up to my self-imposed expectations. I had been attending the gym for an hour and a half EVERY DAY since school got out. My diet consisted of purely fruits and vegetables and an occasional square of dark chocolate, and yet, despite all of this effort, there I stood, desperately trying to gather the courage to emerge from my bedroom in my bathing suit.

Before the tears of frustration were allowed to flow down my freshly-sunscreened face, I ripped myself from my own merciless gaze, grabbed my beach towel, and left my bedroom.

I timidly rushed down the stairs, acutely aware of my thighs jiggling with every step. Before heading out the door to head to my community swimming pool, I bumped into my sister. She looked me up and down, sighed, and said, “you look good.”

“You look good.”

Guys. You have no idea how much influence that subtle, simple comment had on my self esteem that day. I was actually able to enjoy getting slightly sun burned as I draped myself over a pool chair. I wasn’t worried about what other people were thinking about my pasty white, chubby thighs. I wasn’t worried about much at all, actually. I think I might have even been relaxing.

You see, what I realized that day was that not everybody is looking at me. Not everybody is scrutinizing my body and tearing me apart with rude comments about how I should lay off the cheese puffs or do more squats. Odds are, i’m the only one doing that. Most people are just there to swim.

No, I’m not saying I’m finally and suddenly comfortable in my own skin. I’m not saying I will no longer poke at my stomach, cursing myself for not having washboard abs. Because who cares if there’s some extra flab on my tummy when there are ice cream cones to be eaten and vacations to go on and barbecues to attend? What i’m saying is i’m no longer going to let it interfere with my ability to go and do fun things and enjoy them.

So from now on, i’m just here to swim.

M.

Lessons Learned At A Coffee Shop

I am notorious for my ability to hold in my grievances when I am physically interacting with someone, and then letting my frustration consume me until I am around my kin, whom I feel comfortable ranting my pants off to. Somebody will offend or frustrate me, and in the heat of the moment, I brush it off or even agree with the perpetrator, meanwhile, a flurry of anger swirls within my little self.

Today, my mom and I went for coffee because we are addicts. Also because the best of conversations are had over coffee, and it was raining. My mom left her phone in the car, so we were free of distractions. I saw this as an opportune moment to release some of the anger i’d been stewing over for the past few days regarding someone who shalt not be named because this is the World Wide Web, and I feel like I should probably grow up and address these specific issues with this person in a face-to-face manner like grown-ups are supposed to do.

Anyway, there we were, drinking our overpriced lattes, and me complaining about aforementioned grievances between sips. After about seven minutes of this, I was just getting started, and my mom had that “problem solver” look on her face as I spoke.

Once I finally shut my mouth for a moment, my mother’s parental advising began.

I don’t know how you guys feel about your mamas, but I can say with absolute certainty that my mom is badass and super wise and I need her bad.

First of all, my mom made it blatantly clear that my complaints were in vain. She told me that I am in control of this situation, and that if I can’t express how I feel to this individual, that I have nobody to blame but myself. Then, because I am an anxiety freak who thinks she needs to have everything figured out right now, or kill herself working towards what she thinks she wants, my mom told me to just enjoy.

Now, these little nuggets of advice might seem simple and completely obvious, and perhaps they are, but to me, they are profound words of wisdom. She is absolutely right-I am in complete control of how I allow this situation to affect me. I have a couple of options here: 1) Remove myself from the source of the frustrations or 2) Express my grievances to this individual and see how things go from there. If they don’t go the way I need them to, I resort to option 1 by default.

Mama Tingey solves another one.

I want to dwell a little longer on my mom’s second piece of advice. “Just Enjoy.” My mom may or may not be going through a bit of a crisis right now, but she revealed to me today her plan to get a tattoo on her ankle. (We come from an LDS background, this is a BIG deal.)

She said getting a tattoo is something she’s always wanted to do. That’s the thing, if you don’t actually DO the things you want to do, you will never do them. Duh?

This all may seem a little jumbled, but I couldn’t help but think about my own life. In my previous post, I complained (haha surprise!) about how everyone else was out doing things and living their lives while I remained stagnant. But in reality, the only difference between them and me is the fact that they are out doing the things they want to do, and I am making excuses as to why I cannot do the things I want to do.

My mom is right, as per usual. I am young, things are flexible, and I should just enjoy. I can’t keep on going through life doing only things I tell myself I HAVE to do. I just need to swallow the world’s biggest chill pill and just enjoy.

M.

Consummation

I have two days left of teenagerhood. Two days, people. And then I am twenty. And I am no longer considered an adolescent. But I am also not eligible to drink alcohol or rent a car. But that’s neither here nor there. What i’m trying to say here, is time passes quickly. Not to be sappy or cliche, but where did all this time go?

According to some website I found using Bing, (I should really change my default search engine to Google. Who the freak uses Bing?) the average life expectancy for a female living in the United States is 81.3 years old. By that statistic, my life is a fourth over. WHAT.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what i’ve accomplished over the first quarter of my life. To my dismay, I couldn’t come up with much. Of course, there’s the basic accomplishments that everyone of my age, SES status, etc. achieve, y’know, things like losing all your baby teeth, learning how to drive, learning how to change a tire (pending), moving out (I lasted 4 months), graduating high school (Honor Roll. Nailed it.), and starting college, I guess.

Then, there’s the few person-specific things that people accomplish due to situational factors. For me, some of those would include dancing for BYU’s youth ballroom team, getting published in my college’s literary journal, visiting Europe, beating Anorexia, and maintaining honor-roll worthy grades throughout my college career thus far.

In retrospect, I was an exceptional kid from an academic and civil compliance standpoint. But so what?

I love my social media accounts so much. SO MUCH. But the problem is, other people love theirs so much, too, and because they love their social media accounts, they share all of the fun, fantastic adventures their youthful selves are experiencing. So-and-so from high school went on a 6-month humanitarian trip. What’s-her-bucket got into some ivy league school on the East Coast. And that dude is married with a kid.

And me? I’m in the same place i’ve always been. Living with the family (which I love, don’t get me wrong. Not paying for food is bliss. And my family is basically the best ever), going to school, and working. One can’t help but feel stagnant, in comparison to my less-stationary peers. I’m not throwing a pity party here, I’m just stressing (as anxiety-laden folks like myself do), that I might be missing my chance here to go and do and see and experience. Sometimes, I feel like i’m in my own way.

The advice i’ve been given for this problem i’ve created myself is to stay the course, and things will work out. So I guess that’s what i’m doing.

Is this a quarter-life crisis?

M.

Practical Jokesters

I have developed a theory over the past month and a half of my debut in the adultish-professional world.

The Illusionistic Theory of Selective Adulthoodism: there is no such thing as a transition from child to grown-up. Rather, with age and experience, one simply becomes more and more capable of discerning when situations demand a stiff, boring bloke. The rest of the time, they are free to continue being the REAL them.

I will now describe my visual observations in a highly scientific and intelligent manner.

At work the other day, after assisting a customer like the diligent little worker bee that I am, I turned around to find that my cell phone had been completely saran-wrapped and placed on the counter behind me, and my adultish-aged coworker leaning against the counter with an ear-to-ear grin on his face. Naturally, after freeing my 4S from its plastic captivity, I threw the remains, along with a note that formally declared war, at his noggin.

That same day, another coworker decided to mess with MY computer. Apparently, with the proper strokes of a keyboard, you are able to flip the display on the screen completely upside-down. And apparently, putting tape on the bottom of one’s mouse interferes with its functionality.

This is what I get for being the sole female in a workplace full of non-females.

Naturally, I must seek revenge from these quipsters. This is war. I am the alpha.

I now extend to you, dear reader, an invitation to provide me with pranks of equal value to inflict upon the enemies.

Please leave your suggestions in the comments box below. Your cooperation is greatly appreciated.

Over and out.

M.