What I’m Built For

Much to the chagrin of my sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Anna Beth Dawson, my mother and my husband, I am not a girly-girl.

Mrs. Dawson was concerned for me my entire year before junior high because I thought the school uniform was jeans and a clean shirt, when in fact we had no uniform at all.

Also it was the year peanut track shoes were all the rage and they could be bought at the Famous Department Store in Iowa Park for a really good price. I lived in those shoes as well and Mrs. Dawson was horrified at the lack of arch support and other nefarious shortcomings the peanut track shoe offered.

Behold, the peanut track shoe

She even once used part of a class period to illustrate just how crappy the shoes were by picking out one of the 20 kids in her class who was wearing them to model while she extolled the virtues of real shoes.

Still, we persisted.

My own mother, who I suspect is Barbie reincarnated, just looks at me most of the time and slowly shakes her head, particularly on my curly hair days.

My husband, though, won’t give up. He continues to encourage my use of a fork with tacos, as well as an occasional go at nail polish.

None of them, I can report, has been able to change my ways.

I still live in jeans and usually-clean shirts. When I wear a dress, people offer me condolensces for my loss.

I traded my peanut track shoes for Rocket Dogs with user-inserted arch support (thank you for the lesson, Mrs. Dawson. I was listening). My hair is curly roughly 67% of the time now, and I don’t wear makeup to the grocery store.  I eat tacos like an eagle eats a fish, with both hands.

And I occasionally give painting my nails a shot. But when I do, I mess it up because I have a odd habit of occasionally sitting on my hands.  And I only remember that I have that rare habit right after I paint my nails and then sit on my hands.

I wasn’t built for all that.

I was built for laughing at things only a bunch of women who are alone together and uncensored would understand.

I was built for writing things because I am tired of thinking about them.

And, I was built for giving myself permission to not be a Barbie doll, or even her less attractive cousin, Madge.

And all of those people still love me, even Mrs. Dawson. Remember that.

People do love who you really are. If that’s not good enough, it’s not love.

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We’ve come a long way, Barbie

I haven’t played with Barbies in roughly 40 years, but my friends, I sense that is about to change.

Mattel, who is not paying me for this epic endorsement, just released 17 new Barbie dolls honoring “historic and modern day role models from around the world.”

These dolls were introduced this week ahead of International Women’s Day,  which is today – YAY US!

I have to tell you, I was a huge Barbie and Company groupie. I had them all – Barbie, Ken, Skipper, a couple of babies Skipper was in charge of babysitting, and Skipper’s second cousin from her mother’s side – all of whom were blonde and quite tan.

Because Mattel didn’t make a slightly-spastic with reddish-brown hair Barbie, who also wouldn’t tan and preferred jeans, I didn’t identify with my dolls as most of you can imagine accurately.

Mattel is releasing as part of its SHERO program (hold on to your tiny plastic pumps) dolls including famed pilot Amelia Earhart; Frida Kahlo – an incredible artist and the one somebody better get me for Christmas; Katherine Johnson, a NASA mathematician; Olympic Athlete Chloe Kim and boxer Nicola Adams, among many more.

This is huge, y’all.

This beautiful news comes at a time when Photoshop, Kardashians and “Full Beat Makeup” (read: perfectly applied) are placing unreasonable and unreachable expectations on young women who are already beautiful in their own rights.

And it’s hard to feel beatufiul when you are looking to achieve a perfection that only exists inside a computer program, or in the life of people with their own makeup artist.

I knew precisely one girl growing up who truly looked like Barbie, and she was gorgeous. She still is. But most of us don’t look like Barbie, we look like us.

And Mattel can’t cover us all, but they are getting closer.

So thank you, Mattel. It’s about time and it is appreciated that all girls can have a doll that meets their standards rather than trying to meet the doll’s standards.

Did I mention I really want these Barbies for Christmas?

We’ve come a long way, Barbie.

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It was a month before Christmas….

The past four days have been like an Advent calendar except when you open the little windows, crazy stuff pops out.

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What my Advent Calendar would look like if I had one.

Day 1 – Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving day brought everything it always promises: amazing food, laughter and gathering with a family I don’t see often enough even if we do live in the same county.

This Thanksgiving brought more than 20 members of my family together despite the near-hot-roll-famine of 2016 (that story is coming to a post near you, soon) and we continued with our tradition of Saint Francis of Assisi holding another Saint Francis of Assisi’s head in his basket for picture time.

It’s not as weird as it sounds, really, because at the rear of my childhood backyard is kind of a pet cemetery. (Okay, it is weird, but just go with it) My mother is a fan of Saint Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals (as if patron saints can even have a fan club) and when one of her dogs passed several years ago, Mom buried her back there and placed on her grave a Saint Francis statue. Years went by, and more beloved pets died and were buried back there as well, making it an official pet cemetery and giving us reason to appreciate the fact my mother usually chooses small dogs as pets.

Sadly, a few years ago Saint Francis of Assisi literally lost his head. I don’t know how but it was a kind of clean break. Mom didn’t have the heart to remove the original Saint Francis, who has sat with her sweet dog Brandy, (who had the most tremendous overbite for a poodle, by the way) all these years. So she propped the head of Saint Francis the First back on its original resting place, and bought a Saint Francis the Second for the days when the First just can’t keep his head on straight. The dogs always have a patron saint looking over them, and we are glad of this.

So glad that we’ve made a Thanksgiving tradition of placing Saint Francis the First’s head in Saint Francis the Second’s basket for photo time. And by we, I mean I was completely alone for most of this. I think everyone else is afraid of retribution, while I am hoping Saint Francis the First and Second have a healthy sense of humor. That is the battle cry of my life.

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Saint Francis of Assisi One and Two

After my yearly photo shoots with Saint Francis One and Two, I returned home and fell into a three and a half hour stuffing coma. It was awesome.

Day 2 – Black Friday

I don’t participate in Black Friday beyond accidentally hearing about it on the news and all of the websites I forgot to cancel email notifications from.

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Some would say that makes Kari a very dull and unadventurous girl. Others, mostly myself, say it’s what keeps me digging humanity. My steadfast denial to recognize that there are people in this world willing to mow you down for a ballerina Barbie the day after a holiday designated for thanks is the only thing that keeps my hope for mankind intact.

So, I don’t venture out. And not in that afraid I’ll have a psychotic episode way (ok, maybe just a little), but more in that “Oh, hell no.” way. It’s about self-care, really, and conscious denial.

So I did something I’ve been practicing for all year long. I did whatever I wanted, which was not too damn much.

After a long day of rest, I finally got my college football Friday evening when Texas Texas took on Baylor. It was perfection, because Tech won the game in a rare move for 2016. Happiness was mine. Also, I heard what is now my current favorite line in a TV commercial – “Intention is not the name of a perfume” – but I have no idea what it was advertising. That’s what I call a wasted line, and it makes me sad that something that brilliant is lost on a commercial for a forgettable product.

But the best was yet to come, and I didn’t even know it. After The Raider game, I alternated between reading a really good book and watching the Arizona vs. Arizona State football game. It was my Friday pay dirt.

Fortunately for me, I was watching when Miss Arizona USA was tackled as she stood on the sideline under the gaze of her loyal and captive subjects. She was hit hard, and I know it hurt. I know it hurt because I’ve been tackled while photographing a high school football game and it knocked my shoes off.

Here’s the crazy thing: She was wearing her crown, and it was large and in charge. Her crown was also knocked off, so I have something vaguely in common with Miss Arizona USA 2016. Thankfully, due to the  alchemy of her hairspray and bobby pins and a very astute handler, the tiara was back on her lovely nugget in less than a minute.

 

And yet another thing I am thankful for is this YouTube video of Miss Arizona taking one for the team:

 

They interviewed her afterward and she credited her background in kinesiology for helping her land properly. She gave no credit to what hairspray she was using, so I’m betting on Aqua Net.

She is still gonna hurt tomorrow, was my official diagnosis after the interview.

(Note: if anyone knows where those kind of heavy-duty-yet-classy crowns come from, let me know. I’m accident prone and need one that is good in all situations.)

Saturday, the day after Black Friday

My husband woke up Saturday morning with the flu. (Note to self: call the family we were dining with Thursday) Nobody ever clued me in that this was an Advent calendar option, but here we are – me and him, separated by a wall of Lysol fumes.

I rarely cook anymore, because Bobby does all the cooking. But I did Saturday because I will admit it here – I am addicted to food. (This is always the first step with an addiction, now I need to remember who I have harmed because of my hunger).

 

With Bobby in the bed, I was responsible for hunting and gathering my own food and my body went into survival mode when I realized he wouldn’t be cooking supper. This made me hungry all day. I made stew and what might be remembered in history as the worst cornbread ever made from a package mix.

 

While I was slicing and dicing and making horrid cornbread, I also watched college football under the false pretense that it was beauty queen weekend across the United States. It was not in Ohio or Alabama, from what I could tell.
However, Ohio beat Michigan in double-overtime, and I learned some things about myself during that game. I found out when the camera trained in on Michigan’s head football coach Harbaugh after his team threw their third interception that I can read lips. All of them. I also learned that Harbaugh and I could hang. We know the same words.

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Harbaugh, speaking my language

I ate stew and spit out cornbread during the Alabama-Auburn game. Although it is a big rivalry game (there should have been Miss Alabama USA there somewhere), there wasn’t much tension since Alabama kind of owns college football right now. So I did what I do best and noticed stuff like cheerleader bows, names and twirlers.

All I can report is that cheerleaders (all over the nation, not just Alabama) still wear huge candy box bows on top of their ponytails that remind me of show poodles. ‘Bama’s quarterback’s last name is “Hurts”, which I think is a great omen; and I noticed that Alabama’s twirling section outnumbers most Texas high school football teams. I didn’t even know twirling was still a thing.

My sister was a twirler in high school and at homecoming 40 years ago, she would twirl with fire. They would wrap the ends of their batons in some cloth, dip it in something flammable and light them on fire while the stadium lights were lowered and twirl to something spectacular being played by the Iowa Park High School Mean Green Marching Machine. It was magic.

I think if the Alabama twirling squad attempted that, hairspray fumes among the ranks would cause a blow-torch effect and then Miss Alabama USA wouldn’t be allowed to even come to the game because of safety concerns.

Sunday, the day before I go back to work to face the Christmas season

This morning I woke up to a dog barfing in her kennel, and a husband who still reminds me of someone who would finish his will if only he had the strength to hold a pen. The flu has hit hard, y’all.

After a pot of coffee and copius amounts of cleanup, I have braved the grocery store and forgotten for the third day in a row to do one thing to look presentable.

It is one o’clock and I’m back in my sweats with no bra in sight and plans for a four-hour power nap.

I hope your Thanksgiving, like mine, reminded you of the beautiful things you are thankful for; that if you did venture out on Black Friday you returned home uninjured physically and emotionally and with every item you wanted at 75% off; and that your weekend has been spent on radical self-care. December is truly just around the corner.

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