Monday, March 25, 2013

When it's the hardest.

Long time homie Beatfreak (HI darlin) left this comment the other day and I have been ruminating on what to tell you.

how do you engage in self-care when you don't really like the skin you are in.
Ah, this is one of those essential questions.

Let me preface this by saying as usual, this is how it has worked for me over the years. From the time I was a wee child up through now.

The first thing I want to tell you is that if you don't like the skin you're in, this is the most important time to care for it.

My philosophy (also see this older entry as well) is this.

This skin, the one you don't like or are not comfortable in for whatever reason, is the only one you get.

Mine is the only one I have, yours is the only one you have B. That is a hard, (not rationally of course) ugly thing to really take in and deal with.

Look down at your hands right now, I'm serious.

Those are the only ones you are going to get. As I look at my hands with scarred knuckles, mystery ashiness in the webbing of my fingers, jacked up cuticles and no longer cute manicure, that's all she write.

This part really sucks.

The good news is that you don't have to like your skin to self care. Hell you don't even have to strictly even like anything at all.

That is why it is imperative to start self caring now.

My ideas about self care are not really aimed at fluffy puppy love and rainbows type shit.

This is battle for a lot of us.

B, and the rest of you who are sitting there and making a face because you don't like yourself so logically you aren't into self care, I'm talking directly to you.

This is war.

We (YES I am including myself here) need to survive.

At the earliest, for me self care has been at the root of the thing about survival.

Surviving depression, self loathing, bullying, puberty, being a teenager, being a young adult, being poor and trying to scam my way into the nicer food banks, being unsure if I would be able to pay my rent, stress, illness all of it.

It is about survival.

It's not strictly about self love and metaphorically holding hands with yourself and singing hippy songs.

This is fucking battle.

You may be battling yourself.

let's talk about that.

If we presume we are self loathing in whatever form, we presume that it doesn't matter if we self care or not. That there is no point because of X thing anyway.

That to me is flawed logic.

That is the kind of inertia that in my view can just push us right down the path to not surviving the bullshit.

Let's look at it this way.

Let's say that you B are a car, you're not a super awesome model. Maybe you're dinged and dented and run kind of rough. But you are the only way you are getting around. You got me here?

This body that is not okay with you right now (or ever) is the only means you have of perambulating around the universe and just like the Beatfreak 1997 Sedan, it must be taken care of to a degree in order to function. And for me, when I function a bit easier, I feel better.

So where do we start?

I don't want to overwhelm you so let's start easy.

Drink some water.

Right now.

I will wait while you and I both get some water to drink.

Why?

For me, I function better when I am well hydrated. It gets me out of whatever shitty moment I'm having when I say to myself, shit self time to top up. Get some water.

Habits are easier to form than you know.

Level up?

Below you'll find one of my vital self care tools. It is a liter size cup. I fill it with water every couple of hours at work and I drink it all.


For me this serves several important purposes.


  1. We covered hydration.
  2. It keeps me mindful of what is going on in my body on days when I am disconnected. By that I mean instead of forgetting to eat or drink and feeling shitty all day. I put this in front of my face, I drink it, I realize I still need to eat or I have to pee. I am in this body that makes me so angry sometimes. Some days it's irritating as shit but, I do it because I know by now that my body feels worse when I don't.
  3. It gives me a clear tangible objective on days when I am too tired or spaced out to have one. I put my hands on it, I am grounded.
Now as always I can't tell you B or anyone else exactly what to do.

I can tell you that not liking your skin notwithstanding, you do need to keep that body of yours running as best you can. If for no other reason right now than you have shit to do.

Let's talk about something else.

When I have self cared during the worst points in my life, I look back now and marvel that I fucking did it.

I am not embarrassed to say that sometimes I think about the things I've survived and all I can do is shake my head. The biggest thing I survived is myself.

And part of that survival has been self care.

During the times when I've been the most broke, I relied on very small things. I would buy travel size tubes of nice lotion at the dollar store and I kept my hands lubed with them. I made sure I sometimes ate a hamburger (because I really love them), I went for slow walks down very dark streets, I read library books, I took long baths.

My point here B is that the what is not as important as the doing.

So how do we start?

Start with something small and easy. If you are an instant gratification kind of person, go put lotion on your hands or feet or elbows. Sit and enjoy how that feels because it feels good.Or figure out if it feels good in an objective manner.

If you are more of a thinky person try this. Open a blank notepad document and make a list of things you think are nice. Doesn't matter what they are exactly. Reading, napping, bathing, brushing your teeth, having a nice lingering smoke, a cup of tea, a shot of whiskey whatever.

Look at your list when you're done and pick one thing. it can be totally random, it can be something small and stupid. Doesn't matter.

It's even better if it makes you smile or laugh.

I'll demonstrate.

I bought a big ass bottle of St Ives Intesive healing lotion. I keep it in my department at work and I use it regularly. I don't need it necessarily but it is one little tiny thing that is lifesaving some days. When everything else sucks and I suck and I'm tired and hating the fact that I can't sleep or whatever it is I feel I'm fucking up, I can do that. 

Actually I'm going to do that right now.

I also do things like limit my media intake. That means for me I don't read Xojane or Jezebel or anything with current news or tidbits.

I read gossip websites, I look at cuteoverload, I read any number of literary magazines and sometimes I don't even do that.

Self care is not just making yourself shiny for the world.

It is self preservation of the highest order.

Sometimes for me I just can't with the rest of the world. 

that's okay.

It is more important to me that when I am feeling depressed or overwhelmed or like I am walking shit, I care out space in this world and my day to day life, to self care because nobody else is going to do it for me.

That's another realization that was important to me starting out.

At one point when I was around 23 or so, I realized that when I do things that make me feel good or soothe me or make the shitty world a little less shitty in my view, it made me more comfortable and better able to deal with whatever I was going through.

So now I'm 36 and for me I decided that my best armor against a world that is frankly out to kill me. (Yes I am a woman of color who is queer, smart and not prone to being happy being invisible, this world is def. out to get me) I take damn fine care of myself even when I'm not super keen on me and the skin I'm in.

I do what the fuck I want to do with myself.

I decide what is good to me.

I do all those silly beauty things, and wear occasionally totally inappropriate daytime make up, I paint my nails crazy colors or grow out stiletto nails because it is good to me.

The other major thing I started doing?

I stopped giving a fuck.

I realized that the only person who really (beyond having to be presentable in a job so I can pay my bills) needs to approve of me, is me. So I made changes.

None of these things are easy B.

I will not (you know me by now) blow smoke up your butt about it.

Self care is mother fucking hard.

You won't succeed the first or second time you try. Sometimes it will be physically painful as trying things can be. Sometimes you won't want to.

Firstly I am giving you explicit permission, self dislike be damned to do what you need to do.

Secondly I'm going to get bossy with you for a minute because sometimes, we need that.

Beatfreak and anyone else who needs it. Open another text document and copy and paste the following.

Shannon says, I am important enough to be taken care of even if I don't like myself much right now.
Save it and look at it when you need a bossy ass voice in your head bossing you around. I know I need that sometimes and it's handy to have.

Thirdly, get bossy with yourself. I do this sometimes when I am feeling too shitty in any number of ways to do my habitual self care things. I tell myself, yes you're tired and you think your face is stupid but wash your stupid face. Put your moisturizer on.

I do things like that because I know that when I fall off of doing my self care rituals, my skin suffers and as we all know one of the things that can put my self esteem right in the toilet is my skin. I don't necessarily respond well to random people bossing me around, because I do an okay job of bossing myself.

Fourth and most important.

Ready?

Beatfreak and all you other homies having trouble starting out, it's okay.

Let me say that again for the cheap seats.

It is perfectly okay for you to have a hard time establishing self care rules for yourself.

I have said it many times before and will say it again.

This shit is fucking hard.

It's even harder when, everything in our society supports our self loathing and only tells us to take care of ourselves when we are either trying to fit or do fit a Thin Pretty White Lady Ideal.

Fuck that noise.

So let's recap.

Start small. Buy and use a nice lotion, drink more water, paint your nails, read a trashy book, sit doing nothing, have a leisurely poop, take a nice luxurious bath, buy a bottle of facial moisturizer with SPF and put it on every morning after you brush your teeth, take your vitamins, pet your dog, watch kitten videos for a half hour a day, read a web comic that is just for shits and giggles, watch something on TV that is completely worthless (my personal choice for that is Bad girls club, don't judge me), go to the dollar store and get a bottle of bubbles or a few plastic toys.

Moral of the story is, it's not super important what you do, just do it.

Beatfreak if all you're capable of doing right now is getting up and opening your eyes, you're already doing it.

If you wake up and put on clean PJ pants, or take a shower, or eat something tasty, have a nice cup of coffee, take the dog for a walk, put your shoes on, don't get fired from your job, etc you are doing it.

Hear me B and my other homies?

You are doing it.

You are here reading this, you are asking questions. You are doing it.

You are already one up on yourself.

Now.

Homework.

We haven't had homework in a while, I'll do it too and report back later this week.

I want you Beatfreak and other assorted homies, to do one nice non-necessary for survival thing this week.

Just one.

My one thing is that I am going to do some body skin maintenance  I'm talking the whole works. I will use my fancy soap and bath brush, I will clip the hair on my legs, I will moisturize myself until I am slippery and greasy. One because I'm an itchy fucker right now and two because it's just nice.

I'm going to level up too and make sure that I am well hydrated and eat at appropriate times all week. To this end I'm setting an alarm on my phone to make sure I eat.

Now you.

You can do it.

Homo Out.





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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Who is this again?

Okay I thought it would be a good idea to talk more about my background and why I am the way I am and why I react to things the way I do.

Call this getting to know why Shannon Says things.

First I want you to read this quote by my friend Hannah from Tumblr.

as a black woman, being a critical thinker who is sensitive too is exhausting you think i WANT to see racism and sexism and all this fucked up shit everywhere? it would be nice to shut it off every once in a while and enjoy some stupid show like big bang theory or arrested development or whatever it is white people are watching these days but i really can’t because not only do i SEE all these things, but i feel them too
 The bolding there is mine for emphasis.If you tumblr you should follow her here.

I'm going to get a tad nerdy on you for a second and reference the fantasy novel series Sword of Truth. At one point there's talk about these sadistic trainer warrior ladies and the point of the conversation is that the cruelest among them, were the softest most sensitive little girls.

I was and am a very sensitive creature. Let me tell you a slightly embarrassing story from my childhood.

If you are my age or grew up watching TV in the 80s I'm sure you remember those awful commercials with the dying, starving children of Africa. They were fairly traumatizing for me on several levels. Those were frequently the only images of other Black children I saw. There were not many other Black kids in my school therefore in my wee baby brain, those few of us must have been the super lucky ones.

At one point I remember watching cartoons and there came Wile Coyote. Wile to my eyes looked like a taller version of those starving African kids. He was so thin, with his sometimes round belly, he never caught the Road Runner, he never got to eat. I cried. I brooded about poor hungry Wile, I was upset. I had nightmares about him dying and suddenly there would be no more cartoons.

I didn't talk about it with my parents or friends because that's the kind of kid I was (am). Instead I cut up a few apples and packed them the way my Mom did for me. I also knew how to make an awful tuna sandwich  I packed four of each, watched the show and wrote down the address shown on one of the ACME boxes Wile got. I addressed it, waited on my front porch and gave the box to the mailman.

The mailman, bless his soul for this, took the box after I explained that I wanted to feed Wile and could he please make sure it got there and I wrote on the box what was in it.

I don't know what he ever did with it, but he did not laugh at me or call me stupid (as when I retold this to a few people did) he just took it off and I stopped crying for poor Wile.

That my friends is a prime example of the kind of sensitive person I am.

Now when I was that young, when I was hurt I cried or I hid. I absorbed it and frequently believed that if someone was mean or rude to me, on some level I probably deserved it. Sometimes I thought it was because I was a Black child. Yes, even at the precious age where I was supposed to be daydreaming about ballet and puppies and shit, I worried about being a Black child.

I was conscious of my size. I was not necessarily a fat child but I was a very very small child and had a complex about it. I did not like having strangers babytalk to me because when I was 5 I looked 3. I did not like that people disbelieved me when after I learned to read.

I learned that often I had to bear being made uncomfortable by Old White Ladies because in my world then, I was taught you do not call shit out. Don't show you're angry, be nice, be polite.

Think about that.

Today, I am often told that White kids are always exempt from consequences of their racism. It's always, they don't know any better, they are just kids etc etc.

How is it okay that I had to learn about racism by age 6 but white kids are exempt seemingly forever?

We'll talk about that later but I want you to really think about that.

As a child, I often was very quiet. I listened, I watched. I learned. I learned to take my tears to private times because often, there wasn't a lot of mercy or pity for my tears.

I learned that I could not cry to my White teachers about racist shit other kids said to me because it was always me being too sensitive. There was no understanding, there was no safety.

That continued through my childhood and teen years.

What I was taught by society, school etc was that my sensitivity was a problem. It was not a gateway to me learning to be a critical thinker, it was not important to my development, it was not protected or coddled.

The world at large tried very hard to burn it out of me.

I learned to bear the brunt of my pain in silence. Stone faced. Never angry, always polite, always nice.

Until I wasn't.

I recall a moment when I was maybe 15 or so, a sophomore in high school. I was trying really hard to be that nice, non angry person and I just couldn't. I saw my education for what it was. I was rewarded for vomiting back bullshit I didn't believe in and I got angry.

Unfortunately for me perhaps, part of me expressing that anger was largely giving up on my extracurricular activities and some of my classes. I just couldn't care.

Everything hurt.

Everything.

Watching tv hurt. I wasn't really fat in any real sense of the term but in the microcosm of my school and friends I was and it hurt.

I couldn't read teen magazines because they served to remind me that my Blackness was not beautiful enough to be in them, nor was it important enough to get beauty tips or hair tips.

I tried reading Teeny bopper romance novels and other YA girly lit and they hurt. I was not a beautiful Blond Teen girl with slim thighs and a flat stomach. My parents weren't wealthy, my biggest problems didn't have to do with them not buying me the car I wanted or not having the handsomest guys in school arguing over who got to take me to the Spring formal.

I went through a long period feeling like I was rejected from the entire universe.

I had no ties to the Black community, I didn't even know there was a Queer community, I wrote perverted poems, I wanted to be tied up, I wanted to fuck a lot of people, I wanted to be loved and valued for being a sensitive, super smart critically thinking fireplug and not like the bad evil black sheep.

My sensitivity and proclivity for critical thinking, made growing up hard.

As an adult it's harder.

Because of the way I learned to survive, it's hard for me to be vulnerable. Feeling fragile or hurt enrages me. I want to pretend I am made of stone, that nothing you or anyone else does can hurt me.

But, I am not a machine.

I am a deeply feeling, deeply thinking person.

I am a sensitive critical Black woman.

And that shit is hard my friends. Sometimes it is honestly just too much to bear.

So here's what I need for my White homies to take away from this.

Before you think that any POC is overthinking, being over sensitive, or reverse racist or whatever White Nonsense you may be thinking, think about what it's like to have the culture you are trying to survive in crush you for thinking and existing. For having feelings.

Think about WOC like me who, are often beasts of burden until someone declares us a Jezebel regardless of what we may or may not do or say.

Think about the degree of pressure there is for Black women especially to bear the burden of educating White feminists on why being a racist is a shitty thing to do, about why we want to be included in media, about why no if you're going to critique media or popular culture focusing on only women of color is fucking racist, on why not to touch our hair, or why sometimes we need our own spaces to work out intra racial problems and your voice and opinions on the matter are not needed.

Look at it this way, think about spending the next fifteen or twenty years answering the same four questions every single day and being expected to be ever so nice and polite, to not have feelings about it or at least not be such a scary individual who has feelings.

Think about the awfulness and sheer degradation involved in not being considered a complete human being.

That's all.

Homo Out.
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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

So I turned 36

My 36th birthday has come and gone.

Friday, I spent in bed mainly because my body gave up.

For reasons beyond me, occasionally when my sleep has been too fucked up for one too many weeks my body decides that no, no I am not getting up, I am not going to work I am doing nothing but sleeping.

I loathe calling in to work but it was either do that or have a complete melt down at the drop of a hat. So I stayed home and slept.

On Saturday I lolled about in bed, while Uniballer made me fantastic food and made sure I was full, warm and happy. I also had my first ice cream cake cupcake it was delicious.

I rallied and napped. Uniballer played me movies and it was quiet and pretty nice.

Sunday was also nice, an exercise in pretending to be a cat and napping and eating and whatnot.

Yesterday, I had epic gastric distress. Brought on probably by a mix of spices or something. It was bad.

Ahem.

The one thing about aging I'm having trouble dealing with is that my body lets me know loud and clear when it is displeased and I can't power through it.

In my early 20s up through even five years ago, unless I was actively spewing or pooping I would go to work. I would get shit done.

What pains me about aging, is admitting my own frailty. It is being and showing that I am vulnerable.

Thankfully, I have a job where I can call in if I have to. But, every time I do there's that anxiety bred of years of working shitty jobs where being sick meant I might lose my job.

Even after all these years it amazes me how that panic can well up and overtake me, adding to whatever was wrong with me to begin with.

There is always that low lying idea that if I am really sick, everything will fall apart.

The fear comes from ER visits when I didn't have health insurance. I remember once leaving a hospital because the doctors wanted to give me a MRI and send me to a neurologist and I was already counting the tens of thousands of dollars I didn't have. So I left.

I remember I had a terrible ear infection at one point before I had decent insurance, I remember sitting on my bed crying my eyes out because I only had 15$ to my name and that wouldn't cover urgent care nor the price of antibiotics  Luckily someone I knew took me to urgent care and bought me antibiotics without really a word about it beyond a stern lecture about not making myself more ill.

These days, my health causes me different worry.

What if I hurt my back again and can't climb the 6 flights of stairs to my apartment? Or if I hurt it again and can't make the half mile walks to and from the bus?

Prior to switching back to contacts, there was the ever present worry of oh shit what if I break my glasses? I have really bad vision and cannot do anything really without correction, want to see me immediately completely lose my shit? Watch me break my glasses if I don't have back up contacts.

A lot of my anxiety when I get sick or hurt stems from a childhood full of guilt and expensive illnesses.

At 36 it's still really fucking hard to emotionally understand that it's okay.

One of the things that I am still working out is my frequent guilt about ALL THE THINGS.

I'm getting better but it's tough.

One of the big lessons of being now midway through my 30s is that, I have to tell myself when it's okay. It's okay to be sad about not having money for a new pair of shoes or a tattoo.

When I was younger, I would berate myself over things like buying shoes or coats or what have you. If I was in a financial pinch, I would go over all of the "useless" bullshit I'd purchased, even if it was maybe a two dollar lip balm etc.

As I get older I have to remind myself that shit happens. That sometimes, no matter how I plan or force myself to go without something, shit is still going to happen.

So my darlings, my big gibbet of knowledge about being 36 is this.

Sometimes shit is going to go wrong and bad and even if you bought the shoes or the lipstick it's okay.

Self care is really fucking hard.

Self care when you believe that you should be the beastiest beast of them all is still really fucking hard and really fucking important.

Right now, I'm doing what I can. I treat myself like a mother fucking queen. I am the best girlfriend to myself.

For me that looks like luxurious baths, rubbing myself with good smelling greasy stuff before bedtime, drinking a lot of tea, taking good care of my skin, drinking a lot of water, remembering to take my vitamins and eating whatever the fuck i want to.

Here's the thing my homies.

Whatever age you are, however that age is settling on your body you are fine.

I'm fine.

We're human, we're mortal and aging is what we do.

If we want to be super simple about it, mortality is the one thing all humans regardless of other differences have in common.

We're going to die and that's okay.

We are the rule makers as to how we make it to that day.

I vote let's not waste our time hating ourselves and trying so hard to be the one thing we all have to be, mortal.

Here is my advice.

Regardless of how you feel about aging or how old you are, try self caring like a mother fucker.

If that means changing up your beauty routine, investing in skin care, exercising, sleeping, eating, drinking more or less, doing things that bring you joy etc etc.

Do that instead of battling aging.

There are enough battles and our bodies don't have to be a battle ground against the inevitable.

I urge you if you're not already, try upping your self care for one whole month. Think about the things you need more of, sleep or whatever and try doing those things.

Like talking walks in the chilly mornings or evenings?

Try one a week. No matter if you're walking, wheeling, gettin there with crutches doesn't matter.

Can't go all the way around the block? Try walking from your door to the sidewalk. Or your door to that weird spot in the grass. Take your time. Look at all the things that are coming up young tender and green.

Laugh.

Smile at babies in the store, make faces at kids in passing cars, play with a puppy, roll around on the floor like a loon.

You too can have that feeling, that good feeling that happens when you know, you just treated yourself like the most romantic wonderful loving partner.

Okay that's all for right now. I am due for a snack and a big pot of tea.

Later this week we'll talk about fashion and some ideas for some small things I might like to fancy up and sell on the etsy.

Homo Out.
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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

On Anger: the remix.

From this post an anonymous commenter said this.

This is part of the comment and Anon you probably mean well but I feel like you are either missing my point entirely or don't understand where I am coming from, this bothers me.

And another thing is, 50% of communication is your responsibility. If there are a lot of other people don't get the important part of the message, then maybe you're not telling it to them in the best way. You have to think about your target audience.

On the other hand, especially on your blog you deserve to be able to write whatever you want to. It should be fine for you to make it as angry as you want it to be, and random anons don't have any right to tell you otherwise. And that's where the target audience ties in again, because you can't write for everyone on your blog. You're always going to offend someone. But when you're talking to someone on the bus or in a group and you sound angry, then maybe anger isn't the best vessel for your message.

While yes we all know that stress is bad, in my real life anger serves a purpose.

In case you didn't catch it in the original post let me reiterate.

Often in my life in situations where I'm told by usually Nice White Ladies that you're just so angry, fuck yes I am angry.

It makes me angry when I feel like I am in danger because some White dude(s) catcalls or follows me and I tell them no and they call me a nigger bitch.

Maybe in your world when things like that happen, everyone is calm and polite. Maybe in your life a man who would do that, after you politely explain that it's inappropriate says, "aw shucks I'm sorry ma'am."

In my life that does not happen.

I'll direct you to this bit in particular:

If you assume that if I stay very calm and ask someone very nicely not to behave badly towards me, that the person who is acting badly towards me respects me enough to say, oh jeeze sorry about that.
It would be nice if that's how my world worked but it's not.
Most people are too invested in being right, too steeped in their own privilege and entitlement to acknowledge that they may have behaved inappropriately. Most people, if they are willing to get their racist on in my presence while looking me in the eye, or telling me that they hope I die- those people are not willing to respect me as a human being.
Someone explain to me in clear terms how that is okay?
In my actual life over the last let's say 20 years I've learned that in many situations, being nice only gives people the impression (regardless of what I may have said) that what they did was just a flubber, no big deal. And often in my life they have done it again.

I'm going to assume you're not a regular. I am fully aware of and own the fact that I am not for everyone.

I am not for people who don't like cursing.

I am not for people who can't digest beyond 101 level fat acceptance, anti-racism etc.

Furthermore, it is honestly a serious problem to tell someone they shouldn't or can't be angry. Anger is an emotion. I am a fully equipped human being with a very large range of emotions. A lot of things bring me intense joy, many things make me intensely angry. My anger is important to me because I understand it. I own it. I have learned as many (especially women in America) women have not, that I am not only entitled to my anger but, that sometimes it is beyond justified.

I find it reprehensible for anyone to tell me I can't or should not be angry, more so when it is serious.

If you return, or if someone else reading this can explain to me, explain this to me.

If in my little slice of the world where I walk around, something seriously awful happens to me. I'm not talking about getting pooped on by a bird or dropping my coffee, I'm talking about the nights when I am afraid I am going to get jumped by grown men because they don't like "them" (read: me), or because some man is following me in a car and I don't feel safe going to my bus stop, or the days when I delve into my various spaces on the internet and have to clear out messages telling me things like, "I hate you black bitch" (that one courtesy of youtube, on a fucking cat video) along with gems from the same person such as, "die nigger" "nigger bitch" etc, why should I not be angry about that?

Why should I shrug it off and say, oh well maybe if I send X person (I already got their account suspended) a nice message explaining why calling me a nigger bitch is wrong everything is okay?

Why is the onus always on people like me to be 50% of the communication when, more often than not the other 50% is not listening?

Why shouldn't I be angry when I experience real racism in the big bad world?

Why shouldn't I raise my voice in a world where people say that there are no POC fat bloggers, etc?

Why should I alter or cater to people?

Why should I change how I express my real thoughts and feelings to suit people who don't like anger?

No I'm not doing that.

As I have said time and time again, this is my litterbox. I pay for the web hosting. I broke up this ugly template when I was learning to code and made it my own. I spend hours and hours writing, I talk about shit that is really hard to discuss. I deal with people telling me they hate me because I'm fat, or not fat enough, or because I'm (YES) An Angry Black Woman.

Unlike a lot of blogs that deal with bodily issues, race etc. I am not coming from a neat and tidy classroom setting.

These things I talk about come from my real life. They come from the experiences I've had walking around this planet in my skin. I brought how I walk around in MeatSpace into the Intertubes.

I say fuck a lot, I do not put up with people violating my boundaries, I do not put up with people treating me in a way I feel is inappropriate. Sometimes I get angry and I let people know exactly how and why I am angry.

To put it in the actual world.

This is who I Shannon Barber actually am. If you don't like it fine. If I'm not to your taste, use that X in your browser and mosey on down the information super highway. There are millions of people writing millions of blogs, I'm sure there are some out there for you.

Here's the thing Anon. I get very annoyed when people tell me (after I say it constantly and really a cursory look at my blog would tell you) that I am not for everyone. I know that. I say it a lot, more so when I'm talking deep racial, bodily or other sensitive difficult issues.

I own my words. I own how I express myself.

Frankly if all you took away from that entire entry, is to tell me not to be angry; you missed the entire point.

The. Whole. Point.

For both my regulars and the drive bys. I present you with a link where I will tell the whole world again, maybe I am not the droids you are looking for. For lots of reasons. I will leave you all with this bit from that entry. If stress we agree is bad, how much stress should I put up with for the sake of not being or coming across angry or being nice?

I expended a huge amount of energy trying to hide my tears, trying to talk to people who would look at me like I had asked for a kidney and their first born when all I had in fact asked for, was for them to think a little bit or at least save their comments for when I wasn't around.
Guess where that got me?
Nowhere.
You know what kind of things I asked for? In the nice, openly communicative way I learned in school? I wasn't specific in that entry but here we go.

Things like, please don't say nigger around me. Please don't talk about how my hair is like a brillo pad, please don't make rape jokes, please don't  call me a slut because I have on high heels, please don't touch my hair without asking, please don't out me to people I don't know, please don't "act ghetto" around me, please don't comment on my body, please don't , please don't PLEASE DON'T.

In those 50% of communication moments, I was kind. I was quiet. I was polite. I said I wasn't angry. I said I was hurt. Do you know how humiliating it was? I that okay?

Guess where it got me?

Vomiting, headaches, fear, being ostracized, bullied, losing "friends", depression to the point of being very suicidal. Among other things I don't feel like talking about right now.

But at least I wasn't angry right? I honestly wonder, I look back at Baby Shannon, crying about all of it alone without support or back up, what if I had let her be angry? Could Baby Shannon have been saved some heartache and consequences of trying to deal with these issues in a nice way?

I wish I had been angry. Maybe if I had learned earlier to be angry, I could have saved myself a lot of pain, broken relationships, confusion, thinking it was my own fault, swallowing the Whiteness Koolaid with no sugar, those nights of feeling suicidal and alone. I can't do that for Baby me, but I can do it for Baby someone else who might be in the same situation.

To you Other People. Get angry. Focus your angry. Learn to channel it. Don't let it ruin you. Don't let it kill you. Use it. Hone it. Aim it when you need to.


Homo Out.
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Then and now.

Being that I have lost some visible weight in the last six months or so I find it interesting the way the language people use with me about my body has changed.

Between the unwanted congratulations and people asking me what my "secret" is, the change in language is interesting and again sheds light on the lie that is the cry of I am JUST WORRIED ABOUT YOUR HEALTH.

For example.

Someone I see every now and then during my commute is one of the people who has asked me what my super secret for weightloss is.

She is about my age, probably a few sizes smaller than me. Smaller than average and not visibly fat at all.

So at the transit center she asked the question, what's your secret?

I looked at her and answered as honestly as I could.

Stress, illness and more stress.

She kind of flubbered for a minute, muttered congratulations on your weightloss and scampered away.

This is the same woman who wanted to talk to me about my risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure etc without knowing anything about me except that I am a fat person.

Now common sense would dictate, if in fact she and a number of other people were in fact super concerned about my health, that instead of congratulating me on my stress and illness fueled weightloss, would say, oh are you okay?

I'm fairly certain that modern medicine tells us that our number one killer is in fact stress.

In the last few years I've had stresses in droves, occasionally to the point of causing me serious panic attacks and anxiety. Exacerbating my insomnia and causing my immune system to be compromised.

Also yes, yes I've lost some weight.

In light of the many terrible things that my stress levels could cause, why is it that people who are so concerned about my health overlook all those things just because my ass is smaller?

I've had it happening on the internets as well.

Of the dozen or so people who have anonymously congratulated me on being a smaller fatty, not one of them has seemed at all concerned about my actual health.

So again I am left with the distinct impression that no, nobody who wanted me to lose weight in the first place actually cared about my real health.

If you cared about my real health, you might have said,  please take care of yourself. Watch out for your stress levels blablabla.

Or you know if you are really so worried about me dropping dead of all of the FAT THINGS, just ask if I'm okay and mean it.

If what you care about is me "looking" healthy, fuck you.

Fuck you, fuck your curiosity, fuck your fake concern and keep your opinions about my looks to yourself.

That's it really.

If you want to play the what about my tax dollars/healthcare card, you can also shut your fucking mouth.

Why?

Here's the thing.

I have a job, I have health insurance.

How I use that health insurance and for what is none of your business.

If I was getting Medicaid, or Medicare, or county health or going to planned parenthood, it's also none of your business.

If you are truly worried about these things, as I have challenged before how come those of you who have the MY HEALTH INSURANCE DOLLARS battle cry, never ask if I"ve had a pap smear lately?

Why don't you ask me how my last mammogram was?

Why not ask me how my bowel movements are?

Ask me about the consistency of my menstrual blood and how my periods are doing?

Why don't you ask me about that sniffle I"ve had for weeks?

Why don't you ask about that rash I have on my thigh?

Too personal? Too invasive?

If you wouldn't walk up to a stranger and ask them if their butthole is doing well, why would you think it is any less rude and invasive to talk to strangers about their weight?

Every time you comment about another human beings weight and skip commenting on their poop, urine frequency smell and color, farts or lack of, snot etc you are lying not only to yourself but to every one else about caring about the health of another person.

Caring about my health means you have to care about more than the size of my ass. You have to care about my awful farts, my migraines, the ingrown hairs I get, my worry about what I think could be signs of IBS, my insomnia, my delicate immune system, my inability to eat fruit sometimes.

Ask me about the things that don't just show in the size of my ass.

Don't want to do all that?

At least stop lying to yourself and everyone else about what a good caring person you are because in this case, you aren't.

If the only aspect of my health that matters to you is the size of my ass.

You are a superficial liar.

The worst is that you lie to yourself and convince yourself that you are absolutely in the right. That is the tragedy of it all.

You might be a caring person. You might be a super nice person.

You are making yourself look like an asshole.

It's hard to stop but if you really care about the state of healthcare in America or how to keep our children healthy etc, you have to stop. You have to stop only caring about the look of things and get into the how of them.

Want to be angry about escalating health care costs? How about getting angry about how there is such a deep and awful lack of access to basic health care for so many people?

How about getting angry when doctors behave like you do and only care about the size of my ass and not what I can actually be treated for or am worried about?

Get angry about fat people being misdiagnosed to death.

Get angry about poor people not having access to life saving cancer screenings.

Get angry about some children being bullied by the people who are supposed to care for them and build them up as awesome little humans.

Get angry about the things that could really change how healthcare works.

Or sit and stew in your own nasty depthlessness.

Just keep it out of my yard and away from my ass.

Homo Out.



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Friday, March 01, 2013

Beauty? Yes please.

Things have been way too serious in these parts.

My birthday is in a couple of weeks.

I am turning 36 and I am delighted mostly.

I am not delighted with the fact that instead of an awesome chest tattoo, I have to buy a new computer for home instead. I'm not super excited about that but, I gotta write.

Can we talk about my skin for a minute?

Over the past year or so I made some decisions because as you may recall if you've read me for a while my biggest self esteem killer is my face. My skin to be more precise.

I have had extraordinarily oily, acne prone sensitive skin since puberty. Once upon a time I followed ALL the oily skin advice, over the years I've spent thousands on products both high end and low end, a lot of them irritated my skin. Proactive burned my face and left scars that took a few years to heal.

My face and I have been through a lot.

Now I want to tell you how I have improved my skin and give you some tips okay?

The first thing I did was find a cleanser that is bar none the best I have ever used in my life. One Hand Washes the Other makes Black Magic. Now this is an activated charcoal and herby soap that is in fact fucking magic.This is what I wanted that Coal face product from Lush to be. Soap or no this is gentle, it is handmade so it makes me feel fancy, and it just works.

The fact is, when one has skin that is both oily and sensitive it's important to find that cleanser that leaves your face clean but not stripped. This is it for me.

Now before you run out and try it, remember my rules my homies. Unless a product causes skin irritation or undue redness, you must use it for at least 3 months before really judging it. Especially if you have periods.

Periods will put your cleansers to the test. Hormonal changes during your cycle can put your skin through stresses that will test the efficacy of your products. Give your skin time to adjust and for the product to get to working.

The next thing I changed was that someone gifted me a Clarisonic. Holy shit. Prior to that I had been using facial brushes for a few years. My favorite of those was this one also from Sephora. Okay, I'm not going to blow smoke. This Clarisonic, amazing. My face is cleaner, smoother and more importantly I have seen a huge difference in how my skin feels. It is really expensive but honestly worth it to me.

More changes?

Hell yes.

One of the things happening as I get older is my face marks up far more easily. I have been doing battle with everything leaving dark marks on my face for the last couple of years. My plan initially was to use Ambi Fade cream daily but, it irritated my skin and I wasn't able to use it regularly enough to make a difference.

So I decided to change my approach. I upped my daily water intake, I got back on my hair nail and skin vitamins and I first added a gentle peel to my skin reggie. I tried a really expensive one and didn't like it so I went to my dear friend Sumayyah and shopped in her Avon shop. As an aside here, she also makes beautiful jewelry and if you shop Avon shoot her some business. Her and her family are good people.

So I bought the avon peel and I really like it. I've been using it for a couple of months and I like what it's doing. It helps keep blackheads at bay, some of my smaller marks and divots have faded and smoothed. I'm down.

The big thing I did though was I invested in some MAJOR moisturizer. I bought this after extensive research and comparing it to other things. I purchased Korres Wild Rose+Vitamin C nighttime brightening facial. First there was sticker shock. This shit is I kid you not 48$.

I started using it in January and I did not want to love it because it costs almost 50$. However I love it. First of all I really love the smell of roses so that part is magical. Now as for the brightening and smoothing.

I am loathe to say this (because holyshit exepsive) but this product works. It is very thick and creamy so it doesn't take a lot. I've been using it faithfully every night for about two months now and my skin is in fact brighter. Uniballer has noticed and I actually went down a shade in foundation.

Also some of my lighter marks have faded and the big black mark on my forehead has faded considerably. I will keep using this stuff until the wheels fall off.

Now the next big thing I did was last month I saved up some coffee money and bought high quality serious foundation.

I went into Sephora looking to get color matched and came out with a nice sample, okay hold on. Yes, people here is a trick I learned a long time ago. Go to a high end counter or into a Sephora and get a sample of a color that works for you. Then you take that sample to drug stores and stuff and find a color as close as you can. Easy foundation matching.

Okay so I went for high end. I wanted medium to full coverage, buildable with lasting power and came out with Make Up Forever Mat Velvet foundation in #70. This is another expensive ass product but with Uniballer's encouragement I figured fuck it. I'm about to be 36, I work, I deserve a fancy thing. And a fancy thing it is. I cannot express to y'all how much I love this foundation. It blends easily and sets beautifully with a variety of powders.

I also switched back to contact lenses for the next year or so.

Right now as I am about to turn 36 and the weather is slowly but surely warming up, Old Goth is Old and mother fucking happy.

My body is kind of being an asshole. I've not lost any more weight thankfully and I am right about at a point where I can manage myself and keep my weight stable. I've relearned that because I am short and a small fatty, juniors plus sizes tend to work out better for me than grown up lady plus sizes. Especially with skirts. I have bought from Deb Shops (SO GLAD SOMEONE TURNED ME ONTO THEM) and the length is right without me having to pull the waistband up to or over my tits.

SO want to see my face?

This is probably my most recent favorite make up look and kind of what I'm doing right now with different lip colors.


This is my smokey eye look. Detrivore Abyss eyeshadow over Smashbox gel liner. A touch of Detrivore frost in the inner corner of the eye. Nude pinky lips.

Or I do some cat eye liner, various lips.

Next week I'm going to tell you all about the lip colors I'm obsessed with and show you my cosmetic wishlists for this year.

Homo Out.




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