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Archive for December, 2013

I was sitting here in the library, realizing that Sunday is way past when this last blog was due, riddled with fear and insecurities. To be perfectly honest, that is how I have felt this entire semester sitting in class. Tangled in fear, feeling incredibly inadequate and extremely confused as to why someone like me was sitting in a class full of incredibly complex thinkers… Maybe I should explain why…

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The Combined Body

I had a thought the other day after seeing a girl with a service dog cross my path. I assume she had a vision disability or might have been completely blind. I didn’t ask her, but noticed how she and the service dog worked together to comfortably get around. In our disabilities studies unit, I have definitely learned to see bodies in a different way. 

But what if there are two bodies working for one goal? There is the animal, who is the pair of eyes and guidance, and there is the human who relies on the animal for sight and nothing else. It seems like a fascinating experience. I don’t want to say that the animal is on the same intellectual level as the person, don’t get me wrong, but to think that two beings can work in tandem so flawlessly is incredible.

Then I started wondering: Is this an extension of the body? Could this be considered one body since the person was relying on the animal for sight? There must be no other experience like it: two beings, two bodies moving through the world together, both aware of each other yet both so finely in tune. 

Maybe when the two work together it is more a combined body. Neither one is an extension of the other, and separately they get on fine alone. Maybe the combined body is just as easily learned as a single body. From what I’ve read and learned in the class, bodies adapt based on the way they need to move through space, and each movement is unique to the individual. 

I would have loved to ask the person what the experience is like. Not to exploit the person, but just to keep learning the nature of others and what it must feel like to experience a body along with another body. 

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I Can’t Hand-Le It

Everyone has that weird part of their body that they wish they could change. I feel like a majority of people I’ve talked to that they want to change something obvious like their nose or weight or maybe a birthmark or scar. My nose never really bothered me, the scar on my stomach gives me reasons to dish out different stories of how I received it (usually involving a bar fight or a rabid zoo animal), and the only birthmarks I have are random freckles from sun exposure.

But the body parts I hate the most are my hands. They seem abnormally small to me, and I have had several comments on them throughout my life. My friends love to put their hands up to mine so they can giggle at how their beautiful, regally long fingers curl over my stubby little stumps. It doesn’t help much that I bite my fingernails to the point of no return, rendering my poor little fingertips rounded nubs. I love winter because I get to wear gloves to hide my shame. Sometimes my hands decide to stop holding things without my consent which leads to spilled martinis at work, or the inability to untangle knots. This is so petty, and most of this is in jest, but they truly are a source of specific insecurity. I used to think it was pathological to be so uncomfortable with a very small percentage of my physical appearance.

What’s great and somewhat comforting is a conversation I had with a friend of mine. She hates her ears. Hates to the point that I realized she meticulously fixes her hair in such a way that you forget she even has ears. She claims they are too small and they look as if they hadn’t completely formed.

“They’re just ears. I don’t even notice them” I said to her.
“I could say the same about your strange hands,” she said back. “I don’t even notice them either.”

This is just a passing thought, nothing too serious or too deep, but its interesting sometimes to hear what people can’t stand about their bodies. Something we never think twice about, like ears or eyes or hands may be someone’s biggest insecurity that they constantly try to hide. Furthermore, when it is something obscure like ears or fingers, I wonder how this particular body part became important. Media and advertisements definitely want people to look a certain way, but I never see ears being in the forefront. I also know a girl at work who is convinced that her knees sag to an unattractive point. Oh, the ways in which we pick ourselves apart. 

I hope I will develop a better relationship with my hands. They do a lot for me, and they go through the ringer every time I write a paper, text a friend, or make a martini for a bar customer.  Maybe one day we will all be able to live in harmony and I can move onto the next body part of insecurity. Like feet, possibly. 

Ugh. Feet. 

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Oh Allergy….!

We are almost, there! Semester is about to finish, and in eight days a new season will start. I have been waiting for this for three months now. Not the end of the semester, but the end of this fall season and cold weather!

Every Fall I have to deal with a seasonal sickness, called allergy! This semester what I went through was different, hard, and very tough. To be honest I think I can call it “invisible sickness”. Every year during fall season/ semester my mode changes and sometimes I am not even “me”. This year I became sick as well, inside and out, symptoms were more and stronger, and therefore it affected me in a more serious way.

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“Treat yo self” was started by Parks and Recreation (the best show ever) but has evolved into a larger cultural trend. It’s a widely used hashtag on instagram and twitter. The idea behind treat yo self on the show is one day a year, two of the characters treat themselves to all the shopping, spa treatments, and other pamperings they want, without shame or regret for the price or excess. While it’s a fun (and funny) plotline of one episode, it’s also a strangely poignant idea.

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I have to write once more for this blog for my grade. I’m highly motivated by grades, so despite feeling as though I have nothing to say, here I am, typing. I thought maybe I’d write about how we adjust to our unique bodily abnormalities (I don’t love this word, but I’m at a loss for another). I thought about sharing my husband’s experience of processing the bodies of fallen soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the forced emotional detachment he took on as body after body found its way on a table before him, waiting to be readied to head home in a plain wooden box, back to the states and no doubt a family that would never recover their loss. I thought about sharing the moment my friend, whose son died an hour after birth, told me she can’t bear to hold sleeping babies because it feels too much like holding a dead baby, and how that statement, so matter-of-fact for her, knocked the wind out of me and ripped a hole in my heart for her, right beside the one that grew as her belly swelled with the baby we both knew wouldn’t survive. Somehow, none of these felt like things I wanted to share. And as I stared at the screen, thinking, “I have nothing to say,” I recalled (with the help of some online diary entries) a time in my life when I had the reverse problem: so, so much to say, and no one to listen. And I knew. Despite how very little (very, very little) I want to share this story about myself, I need to. I owe it to my own slow recovery, the future of my children, and the potential readers who’ve maybe been here too. So, here we go.

*Deep breath* *Deep breath*

I don’t generally ascribe labels to myself (they are relentlessly negative), but most people who know feel comfortable placing “emotional” over my picture. It’s a fair assessment. As long as I can remember, I’ve been an emotional girl/woman. I cry a lot, sometimes for justified reasons (see above), sometimes because I’m easily overwhelmed by emotions. I hurt a lot, and for me, emotional pain is easily manifested physically. In times I’ve had my heart broken, I have felt an ache in my chest that made it hard to breathe. It is this essential truth about me that led me down the path of self-injury. And this truth that kept me under its weight for over 10 years. If you need a trigger warning, consider yourself warned. There won’t be images, but this will probably hurt.  (more…)

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My body, my story

The questions of “am I a body?” or “do I have a body?” are issues that I have often wondered about. Initially, I was almost certain that the body I have is only temporary and does not define who I am on a deeper level. I didn’t choose it and I can try to manipulate it as much as I want to, but I am still limited by the color of my skin, the length of my bones, the color of my eyes, and even the build of my muscles (or lack thereof). (more…)

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