Stink Bug

Stink Bug

There I was, waiting and praying for the cast list to go up. Seven year old me, anxious to get my first starring role, the one I’d tell my grandchildren about or talk about on some talk show. The play was called Bugz- a nonsensical children’s musical that I was thrilled to be a part of. This was my discovery of art, creation, of my passion. The cast of characters included the most popular and pretty bugs out there. Lady Bugs were like the popular, cool girls. They were the epitome of class. The Dragonflies played second fiddle but were totally bohemian chic. All the girls wanted one of these roles. I was no exception. My name just had to be next to Lady Bug 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5. Five whole chances existed, my odds were good. I looked around the room eyeing the other girls, thinking, who is my real competition here? I thought it would be helpful. It wasn’t.

“Lady Bug Number 1 will be…”

It was finally happening. The director was announcing the roles so we wouldn’t trample one another on our way to read the fine print. After about five minutes of shuffling, smiling, and high-pitched giggles I realized my name had not been called. Before shock could set in, we moved on to Dragonflies.

Okay, so maybe I’m not classy enough to be a Lady Bug, that’s cool. We’re cool. Surely I can live up to the Dragonfly standards, I thought to myself. I crossed my fingers and let the heartache of one missed role fall over me quickly. In this business, there was no time for self-pity.

“And that’s it for the Dragonflies!”

What the actual fuck? I get not being cast as a Lady Bug but no Dragonfly?

I was the last remaining girl in the room without a role. We had moved onto the boy roles and I stood up to go to my cubby- you never let them see you cry. I walked over to feign grabbing my sweater only to hear my name being called out. I looked up at Ms. Anderson and she proudly bequeathed me as the Stink Bug. The Stink Bug was the single character with no friends, no dance number, and a desperate, dismal disposition. He just wanted to be liked and accepted. Talk about life imitating art.

I was pissed. The girls snickered and I was left alone to snuggle in my sweater and sulk in my role. You’re full of shit, Ms. Anderson. I hid my Snack Pack in my sweater and grabbed the bathroom pass to cower until my mom came to get me. My parents helped me come to terms with my role with the novel there-are-no-small-roles-only-small-actors speech. Alright, if you want me to play Stink Bug, Ms. Anderson, I am going to look fabulous doing it. That was my thought, at least until the director told me what I’d be wearing. My high lasted about a day.

A week prior to the big performance, we were fitted for costumes. The damn Lady Bugs and Dragonflies had gloves and tutus and beautiful sequined patterns. I waited patiently for my turn, as I envied the pretty girls from afar. Now, by this time I’d shifted my attitude a bit and tried to be positive. I hopped up on the platform to see what funky cool costume I would be put in. Maybe I’d get fun glasses or cool socks! I was to portray the outcast, the invisible one, the lone ranger making my way through the world- I had to have a cool costume. The volunteer PTA momager handed me a black t-shirt, black pants, and a black antenna for my head and said, “Next!”

You have got to be shitting me? The lack of effort too comical. I was moments away from shutting the whole thing down and giving up on my dreams of stardom. Was it worth it? Risking my personal and artistic integrity isn’t something I’d be driven to do. Then I heard some douchebag kid suggest taping trash onto me so that I actually appear to stink. All the kids in the cast giggled. The creative team ate that shit  up and so my plain costume developed into trash, thanks to the mind of a candy cracked out six year old. My world was crashing down around me.

The entirety of the rehearsal process was regimented and allowed no time for fun. I used negativity as fuel. Prove them wrong. Prove Ms. Anderson wrong. For three weeks I stuck to a strict diet of healthy fats, energy producing carbs and sugarless juice. My energy was at an all-time high and I didn’t fuck around during play time. One day during snack break at rehearsal, Andy handed me a pixie stick. Amateurs don’t understand how awful processed sugars are to the human body. Actors must take their craft seriously.

The night of the performance is one that would change my life. I hadn’t made friends with the cast or developed bonds through the music or the characters. Stink Bug was a loner, so I was too. Method acting before I even knew what it meant. Fifteen minutes until places. Clean trash- paper, food, anything nonperishable- was being taped and stapled all over my black garment. I looked like a perfectly curated city sidewalk. As I turned around for them to cover my back, I noticed the bland cast. Lady Bug 3 and 5 looked exactly the same. The rest of the lady bugs had slightly different haircuts but the costumes were identical. The Dragonflies were clones. Suddenly, I felt good about the wad of gum on my shirt.

No one else in this room looks exactly like me. I have a name. I am a character with a purpose. I am a star.

My role was minute, my brief time onstage didn’t come until much later in the show. I had one monologue and some character interaction, but the audience? The parents and forced-to-be-present family members ate every second up. The minute the clip-on lights hit me, I became a different person. Every moment leading up to that one didn’t exist. Come to think of it, I don’t even remember what I said onstage. All I remember is the laughter, applause, and hollering for yours truly. I had to pause for laughs. No one taught me that. I didn’t even have many people come to see me. So those were real fans.

For months, people would remind me of “that funny bit” in the show and how it “killed them.” I never knew how to respond except to perhaps smile and nod. That’s what the greats always did- humbly agree about how awesome they were. A taste of validation and praise I would never let go. I’ve been chasing that high ever since. 

I peaked at the age of seven.

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America’s Treasure

America’s Treasure

To Whom it May Concern,

There are a lot of things that I am not. You see, I am not an athlete or a mathematician. Or a model or working at some start-up in the city. I don’t understand technology as much as most dutiful millennials- I just got an iPhone and it’s 2018! And, though I am a fully-functioning adult, I don’t know how to ride a bike. Calm down.

Now, I know it may sound it, but I’m not entirely useless. Have you ever been in a long line at Disney World or the DMV? Bored to tears, thinking about ways to curb the incessant this is hell repeating over and over in your head? So you open a trivia app or play Heads Up with your friends. That. That right there is what I’m good- no, great at. Yeah, I’m amazing. Looking to play Pictionary? Let’s do this. Need a trivia partner? Pick me! Who Wants To Be A Millionaire lifeline? If it were still a thing, I’d be your gal.

Why, you may ask, just…why? Because it’s fun, you party pooper, and more importantly, it’s something I am good at. Sure, I have a degree and sure, I might very well be good at something else, but I don’t need to be. This is America, and if pop culture isn’t the most important thing to us, what is? Celeb disputes take precedent and you should care.

After watching a movie or show or taking in any sort of new media, I’ll spend a ~reasonable~ amount of time reading about it- reviews, behind the scenes, anything and everything. Yeah, sure it’s not ideal for a movie slash dinner date combo but I make it work. I excuse myself to the restroom and by the time I come back, I know the entire filmography of the protagonist, at the very least. I haven’t always been this on top of things though.

It was just another day at Downtown Disney, as it was known in my youth. Growing up in Central Florida, the parks and stores were as familiar to me as the inside of a toddler’s nose is to them. As a pre-teen, walking through the World of Disney for the umpteenth time was cartoonish torture.

My brother and I were just trying to find a spot to rest our lazy legs and the carpet, hardened with aged chewing gum leading to an assortment of plush Piglets, seemed as good a place as any. We plopped down, only to have our R&R time interrupted by some boy and his bodyguards. I don’t remember his face or clothes. No. That’s a lie. I remember he had a popped collar (what a time to be alive.) I really don’t remember the name people shouted at him or the length of time he was actually there. I do, however, vividly remember feeling like a trash.

Who the hell is this guy? Within minutes of his appearance in my Winnie the Pooh domain, the store went crazy. Teen girls yelling, grown men asking for autographs, and the poor bastard just trying to fill his basket with plush toys. We scurried over to where our family stood and started speculating. My uncle and cousins from Mexico were asking us who he was, as if I had the answer. I should. I’m an American girl with a purse filled with HitClips and clip-on charms. If anyone knows who the heartthrob is, it should be me. There I sat, so close to a real celebrity and I knew nothing. The shame I felt in that moment will stay with me for years to come.

For the rest of the day, the family tried to guess who the mystery man was but we will never truly know. It was then that I decided to dedicate my life’s work to ingesting as much pop culture as possible. In hindsight, I could have just asked and moved on, but who knows if without that spark I would have found my true life’s calling- being really moderately surprisingly decent at bar trivia.

Thank you for your consideration and I hope you choose me to be on your next Geeks Who Drink team.

Sincerely,

Aimee

Together We Go

Together We Go

A friend stuck his tongue in my mouth after I accidentally fell asleep on the train ride home.

We laugh.

A customer made a comment about my legs to my male supervisor.

We laugh.

A lover recounted the things I had said and done the night before- a night in which I blacked out comically early. Early enough to remember none of it.

We laugh.

A colleague sighs and says to me, “You get all these men all the time! You must be great in bed!”

We laugh.

A new guy tells me I’m unreadable and cold, that I act too much like a guy. That’s his role.

We laugh.

A buddy makes endless jokes about the familiarity I must have with the bar we’re sitting in because I mistakenly told him I had met a guy there before.

We laugh.

A nurse tells me an ambulance brought me in alone as I awake, pleading for answers with bewildered eyes, no friends, no coat, no wallet, and no recollection of the previous five hours. “Hey, it’s New Year’s, our busiest night!”

We laugh.

A comedian, who’d referred to me as “Nose Ring” to his friends, grabbed my face and said “Hey, you don’t have to.”

We laugh.

A boy I’d liked and got school-girl-giddy about for the first time in a long time- the one who took me out and stayed up late to recant the mediocre inside jokes we had shared- disappeared the day after we finally did the deed. The last message being “Last night was fun haha”

We laugh.

A bartender and barback hug me goodnight after closing and tell me to get home safe, my face and order etched in their minds because I’m the one that needs to forget, and that they’ll see me tomorrow.

We laugh.

There’s no I in team, right?

HAPPY NEW YEAR

HAPPY NEW YEAR

What a year. And it’s only day two. This year I danced and sang, I’ve been hospitalized, lost/had my wallet stolen- purse was cut so I’m assuming the latter- and I have zero memory of how any of it happened. Oh and I cried a lot. Did I have too much to drink? Maybe. Doubtful, but maybe. Did my body just react horribly to alcohol since I was sick for a week? Possible. Did a cute guy hand me a drink with something in it? Also possible. The thing is, I don’t remember. That’s the terrifying truth. One minute, I was dancing with a group of friends and I met a guy. The next, I awoke in a hospital bed- only 5 hrs later. It was night and day. I get images of a man’s face- he reminded me of this Broadway actor I had spent hours watching YouTube videos of earlier that day. He probably looked nothing like him. I hear him calling my name as if trying to wake me up. That’s it. Blank. That’s how I rang in the new year. Alone, in a hospital bed, with no wallet and no memory. When I asked how I got there, the ER nurse said paramedics brought me in. And with that realization of being utterly alone, I bolted out the hospital doors.

I’m obviously super thankful that nothing worse happened because it could have been exponentially worse. I get sick to my stomach thinking about what could have happened. It’s pretty shitty and not so fun but there’s some good take-away here, especially looking forward and going into this new year.

Lessons to be learned:

Your body and your health come first, above all else. Even if you spent $100 on an NYE event months ago, don’t go. That’s it. No excuse is good enough to compromise your well-being.

If you DO go to said event and are sick, don’t drink, even a little. Because even if you haven’t taken any medicine in the past 24 hrs, that shit’s still in your system and it will affect you. And it will inhibit you from actually getting better.

DO NOT take drinks from strangers. This is a gimme. Something we learn in every coming of age TV Show and movie. I’m a chatty Kathy and I trust[ed] people way too easily.

CHECK IN on your friends. If any one of the people that I went to this event with had texted me or called me, I likely would not have ended up where I did. Now, it’s not your responsibility to be a babysitter but being a friend means going “Oh hey, so-and-so had been missing for about an hour. Maybe I should check in on them, make sure everything is alright!”

ONE night does not determine who you are. So many things can be said about me for not knowing what happened that night. What I KNOW is that it wasn’t a night where I just blacked out because I got too wasted. I’ve been there, done that. This, this was different. I know my body and I know how different it felt. It felt chemical. Whether that be my own body’s rejection to the gin because of my nasty cold or because of the drink the nice, handsome man gave me. I’ll never know. Regardless, it doesn’t diminish my worth.

Take care of your mental health. This whole thing has taken a bit of a toll on me, and brought to light some underlying issues- hey, maybe my mental health isn’t as great as I thought it was because of how I’m reacting. And that’s okay. I have a really amazing support system in my family and close friends but going back to profesh help is important too.

MOVE ON, but carry the lessons with you. You can’t change the past. But you can be a better version of yourself.

I’ve already thrown out the broken purse. Laundered the outfit worn in the hospital bed. In two weeks, I’ll have my license and bank cards replaced. It’ll probably take a while for me to venture out on my own or even be alone when I go out with friends. I’m gonna have to learn how to trust people. I need to be kinder to myself and not blame every single action that night on me but I also need to take responsibility for going out when I shouldn’t have and for trusting a stranger when I shouldn’t have.

This year, I hope to be a better, stronger, kinder, more bad-ass version of myself. The kind of woman that would see me that NYE and intervene to try to get me to my friends or in a cab home. The kind of woman that would make the first move instead of having the guy grab her a drink. The kind of woman who is open and honest and is particular about the people she allows in her life. The kind of woman who refuses to settle. The kind of woman who doesn’t just appear strong but is actually tough as nails. The kind of woman that says kind things to herself. And means them. I began my self-discovery tour in the latter part of 2017 and while this night was a bit of a setback, 2018 can only get better. Like my girl Alanis says, “you live, you learn.”

 

Is That it?

Is That it?

Overnight, the stretch marks appeared with the presence of breasts, hips, and a deeply rooted sense of fear. I, like many women do, became the object of sexual fantasy and gratification from one day to the next. Overnight, my body was no longer my own. Everyone had a comment. Days of running and playing carefree were gone.

The first time I felt afraid and powerless was when I was fifteen. When boys- boy my age- felt it was okay to grab me or pin me down. In the dressing room. By my mother’s car. On a school field trip. Young boys. The ones who were taught that a woman’s body was theirs to explore and command. He touched me and said “juicy.” A state of shock and stillness overcame me, then I laughed. He pinned me down in a room full of friends, put my arms over my head and got on top. Both fully clothed. Both kids. I tried to move and couldn’t budge. My muscles weak. He leapt across the room when he heard the door handle turn. My mom was a chaperone. They all laughed. I laughed. Two of them grabbed my arms. Unable to move. My wrist hurt. My mom walked back from pumping gas. They stopped. They laughed. 

Is that it?

Since being ushered into womanhood, the fear hasn’t stopped. But it wasn’t a big deal. None of it was. School trip hotel rooms turned into parties. Parties turned into dance clubs and bars. Bars into sidewalks. Bruises come and go as a result of being handled like a toddler’s favorite toy. Dancing is not an invitation to be grabbed and groped. When Whitney Houston came on, it wasn’t an invitation to have you leave a black and blue imprint on my body for days to come. When the music ends, the dance is done. It’s over when I stop the music.

But did he actually hurt you though?

A deep sense of shame and self-loathing comes with being looked at for one thing. I desperately wanted a smaller chest and to change the way I move my hips as I walk because a Latina’s hips are like a welcome mat, calling to so many of you. Instead I gained weight and kept it on. My attire, though always quirky, became overcome with graphic tees. They’re looking at what’s on my shirt, not what’s under it. While it kept some boys away, it brought on a new set of problems- you’d be prettier if you lost some weight. Why don’t you have a boyfriend? My worth, still determined by my proximity to man.

Didn’t you like him?

Blame. It’s a funny thing, isn’t it? It’s funny because not once did I blame these boys (or the countless others) because they’re good guys. Some of them really are. Some of them I don’t know but maybe they are and they just made a mistake.

If only I hadn’t dressed like that.

If only I hadn’t joked like that.

If only I hadn’t challenged him like that.

If only I didn’t have that last drink.

If only I could remember.

If only I left 10 minutes earlier.
Not all guys are like that.

Social media is a beast because it makes it harder to separate them. A casual chat turned to unwanted advances turned to being called “aggressive” and “condescending” when all I wanted was to turn down sexual advances. His entitlement and misunderstanding of how to speak to a woman respectfully left him feeling cheated. I owed him something. Freshman year of college, a guy bought me coffee and a bagel. I owed him something. Fast forward five years, a guy bought me a drink. I owed him something.

Since then, this old friend has gone on to apologize profusely. I thanked him. He’s one of the good ones. To the guys that meet such acts as this (or the Weinstein scandal or Woody Allen or a seeing a friend being grabbed without consent or or or) with silence, I’m sorry we are not enough. Maybe you’ll get it when you have a daughter. I hear you get a handbook at the first clubhouse meeting.

And while I’ve always had a good group of guy friends- some of which I never knew if they wanted to fuck me or friend me- I looked to them a lot to “save” me. In order to keep from being harassed at a club, I tend to grab my nearest dude and pretend we’re together. Because a guy won’t fuck with another guy’s girl. That’s called respect.

If growing up in this highly misogynistic and patriarchal society has taught me anything, it’s that women are everything. And then some. I used to think more women equals more targets. I used to be teased by other women for being friends with some of the actual good guys. We are not in competition. We are not here for them. We are resilient and triumphant. We are intelligent and funny. We are beautiful and sexy (on our own terms). We are supportive and kind. We don’t need to share our stories to be warriors. We don’t need to keep quiet to be strong. We are in this together. We save ourselves. We will smack the shit out of guys in a club together and walk out hand in hand. We will fight day in and day out. We are better together. We are not asking for it. We are worthy of love. We are enough. 

Her. Him. Them. We. Me too.

 

Follow the [exposed] Brick Road

Follow the [exposed] Brick Road

It’s been one week since I completely uprooted my life and became a New York City transplant. On this day one week ago, hundreds of others did the same. And for what? To follow the exposed brick road of dreams, of course!

While it’s only been a week, it feels like time has elapsed with the simultaneous speed of a camera flash and clock-stopping anxiety attack. It’s a strange constant state of limbo. I have all this time on my hands, being momentarily unemployed. It gives me the time to become acclimated with my new home, meeting up with old and new friends, applying everywhere and anywhere. I’m even writing this in Bryant Park while a pigeon stares at me mercilessly. He could be eyeing my banana bread but I like to pretend I’m more ~important~.  Point is, I have the gift of time. And it blows.

I thrive off of being busy. My mind works at such a rapid pace that when I do find myself with this luxury, I am often more anxious. It’s something I’m working on, okay? But right now, it’s a bitch.

I know I chose the right city. In fact, I’ve never been more sure of a decision.

I write this not to add to the romantic New York narrative because I am waiting, patiently, for this city to screw me over. And it will. No, I write this to show that there is little more fulfilling or beautiful than following your passion.

At the risk of sounding too corny, let me sum it up: do the shit that makes you happy.

If I had a nickel for each time I did something or went somewhere because I felt it was expected of me, I’d have a heavy bag to take to CoinStar and exchange for a crisp bill or two or five. But you know what? I don’t deserve a nickel or two or five. Hell, not even a penny. No one made me do those things.  No one made me move or take a job or stop writing or compare myself to every millennial on social media or or or. The noise is loud and constant, but not in control. 

To make a decision for yourself is difficult. Honestly, it’s so fucking hard to be truly and completely independent-minded- not influenced by family, friends, media markers, celebrity, someone who’s career path you wish to emulate. In fact, it’s pretty impossible because you will always have some bias in the back of your mind. But it’s possible to get pretty darn close- to follow that gut instinct. It’s always possible to try and fail and try again.

I made the decision to move to the city of my dreams with little money, no family up here and no job waiting for me. Obviously not the “smartest” choice but hey, it’s done. Sure, I’m worried about rent when my funds run out and I have no clue where I’ll be living in a month’s time. Sure, I don’t know how I’m gonna celebrate my first birthday without my family or when I’ll hear back from one of the dozens of hiring managers that have my feather light resumé. But I’m happy.

The choice is mine. I don’t have to take a 9-5 job if it makes me miserable. I don’t have to be in a committed relationship if I don’t want to. I don’t have to measure my life and milestones to anyone else’s. I don’t have to. This post-grad journey is a bit of a shit-show but I think we’re finally starting to understand one another- I wear the pants.

And so, if I have to work two day jobs to make ends meet, don’t pity me. If I serve you coffee or help you find a book or shirt you like, don’t pity me. If I’m older than you and in a lower income bracket, working a heinous amount of hours, don’t pity me. While I’m folding that shirt and steaming that milk, I’m creating stories and growing as an artist on every level. My passion and skills evolve with every order and every question. When I go home at the end of the day, I have words to write and so much to be thankful for.

I’m living the dream, baby.

Unthinkable

Unthinkable

Not for a single moment did my gaze shift from the Falcon blue linoleum floor.  I took care in counting the tiles, creating stories for the scuffs and imagining the black and white specks came from giant salt and pepper shakers.

You look like a gorilla.

This is how a fellow classmate so aptly pointed out the hair that lives on my arms and legs. Clever, I know. Fourth graders have some good zingers.

I laughed. Because what else is a kid with an ungodly amount of body hair supposed to do? Start singing songs from Disney’s Tarzan, that’s what. They chuckled and off we went to play. And yet, my gaze never met theirs.

While the memory is short, I will never forget that being the moment I started a war with my body. I carried a long sleeved garment with me wherever I went. Partially because my Floridian body would get cold in any temperature below 70, but mainly to cover my overachieving hair follicles. Shortly thereafter, I took to shears. Sometimes I would even take the scissors and inconspicuously cut arm hair off in class. Only I noticed. So I graduated to razors and quickly earned my waxing badge.

Letting strangers pull the hair off my body began one summer in Mexico when I was visiting my grandparents. What a high- I was in the seventh grade. Every year that I went to visit my family became an opportunity for me to wax, get tan and be beautiful, if even for a short time.  I grew to resent my ancestors and to love beauty rituals. The saying “beauty is pain” was met with excitement and fervor.

Just as I got comfortable with knowing I had the power to change what I didn’t like in the mirror, the stretch marks came. They crept up my skin overnight. Hugging my hips and kissing my thighs. I grew inches horizontally. Suddenly there was nothing I could do- nothing but stop wearing bikinis and tops that might reveal too much. Even then, I had no control.

Honey, put those away. Boys won’t take you seriously.

My vice principal gave me that valuable lesson when I was in the 9th grade. I wore a white and red polka dot dress. I thought myself akin to Minnie Mouse but a friend called me “the Mexican Dorothy.” We thought it was hilarious and appropriate. When I dressed up that formal Wednesday, I put on a sports bra and tight tank top underneath in hopes of suppressing my new figure because I loved the dress so. Aside from an adjustable bow at the waist, the dress was simple and fell just like Judy Garland’s. I put my hair in pigtails and actually felt confident- no cleavage, no body hair, no figure. Still, I was pulled aside and separated from my class to be told that boys will not take me seriously.

I threw that dress in a bag to take to the Goodwill a few weeks later. My aversion to dresses and all things quintessentially “girly” took its place in my closet.

Most girls wouldn’t be brave enough to cut their hair so short.

A sentiment shared by a cute guy I met while getting my undergraduate degree. A party where the theme was ABC- Anything But Clothes. Boys respect me now, right?

The unwanted kisses were only meant to commend my blunt cut bravery.

Te tienes que cuidar.

Translation: you’re getting fat. Though it actually translates to “you need to take care of yourself.” A damaging and thoughtful phrase. When I ran and ate well, the comments did not cease. When I became a vegetarian and ate less often, I still needed to take care. When I snuck snacks and candy bars into my room late at night, guilt ridden, and turned to food for comfort, the saying held firm.

The phrase taught me that being fat is unhealthy, shameful even, but more than that, it ingrained in me the idea that being fat is not beautiful. That I lacked pride and somehow should apologize for the way I looked. That until I stopped hearing those words strung together, I would never be beautiful.

You don’t need all that makeup.

A backhanded compliment insinuating the *only* reason to wear makeup is to mask an insecurity or to please someone else. Growing up with three over-achieving older siblings I never had my own thing. I received hand-me-downs in the form of clothes, music, movies, and taste. I strived so much to be like them in every way that I had trouble finding my own identity along the way. Enter: clothes and makeup.

Everything from graphic tees to purple lipstick became my own special thing. I loved getting weird and funky with my accessories and eyeliner. Neither my sister nor mother cared for makeup or fashion, so I was on my own. And it was amazing. Through these seemingly vain hobbies I found an outward form of expression and solace. I can let the world know who I am and what I’m about without actually starting a verbal conversation!

Though my own source of content came from taking an extra 15 minutes to plan my attire, those around me made sure I knew I didn’t love myself enough. Something so simple and pure like a pink pout became vilified. I would never be as *cool* and *confident* as the girls who wore no makeup and went out the door with the closest item of clothing. Or so I was often led to believe.

But today, I did the unthinkable. I stood in front of a mirror and looked at myself. Really looked at myself for the first time in years. And as I examined my reflection these bold phrases popped into my head- the catalysts of battles in a much bigger war. Instead of looking away, I held my own gaze as I did walking to the playground that day in the fourth grade. While I’m not going to lie to you and say that I love what I see or that I believe I’ll ever be conventionally beautiful, I will say I am grateful. I am so unbelievably grateful.

Grateful for the opportunity to show a little girl- a fifth grader I taught- that the hair on my arm was just like hers. Grateful that she smiled and handed me the blue coated scissors.

Grateful that I am in overall good health and that this body is able to move, work, play and exist in a space I so often take for granted.

Grateful that the scars on my belly are there as a reminder of the pain I no longer need to endure thanks to some wonderful doctors.

Grateful that I have all these pretty clothes and lipsticks to compliment my mood and make a statement all at the same time.

Grateful that my mind is being taken care of just as much, if not more so than my body.

Grateful for the love that encompasses me daily.

I did the unthinkable and thanked my body. Have you?