Monday, February 28, 2011


Bra Shopping. Two seemingly innocuous words but when said together create a most undesirable condition to find yourself in.

I was in desperate need of a strapless bra, and for the last month or so the quest had been a failure. Due to an upcoming event in which my body will be displayed in a revealing ensemble, the need to hold up the girls became of utmost importance. At first I was unconcerned thinking that it was the least of my concerns. The more pressing issues were the dress, shoes, hairdo, jewelry, makeup, clutch purse, airfare, hotel, etc. Little did I know that the strapless bra hunt would be the most time consuming affair.

There were days in which I spent an entire hour, HOUR in a fitting room. I would select a few styles and get frustrated and ask for help and then the salesperson would bring in bra after bra. Each bra had the tags on and after you try on a few they scrape against your skin. Some even caused a rash of red to appear. Very sexy stuff. In the stores that are worried about theft, they have sensors connected to the bras which DIG into your back or ribs. Not to mention that fitting rooms tend to have lousy heat.

So there I was standing in a chilly room wondering if my breasts looked right in various bras and doing a shake or bounce test to see if they stayed in place. The two problems that kept happening were these: the strap was too tight around the back and caused shmushing of my back skin, or the cups didn't do anything. Like they existed only to look pretty and not hold up the goods. Those push-up ones were the worst with that problem because there was so much of me floating about on top, I actually thought it looked like breast soup. No need for a shake test there.

My efforts to spend less than the going rate on strapless bras proved fruitless and I was going to have to go to a real place and get fitted. This meant that there was no chance of spending less than $50, and since the dress is black, the bra has got to be black. It's not like I can use the black bra for every occasion that I'd need a strapless. I'd have to get a nude one in the future for other outfits. Fantastic.

Nearly convinced that I was going to the event braless, I went to Nordstrom and was introduced to the fitter. She escorted me to the room where I would showered with bras. The first thing you do is get measured. She asked what size I had been wearing and I said 36B. I didn't know that I'd be undressing and getting topless in front of this woman. Once I took off my shirt she said: "Oh dear. You are definitely not a B. Were you ever fitted before?"

I had been fitted at Victoria Secret 2 years ago which is where I got that size. I was a 34C for years but the back strap started pinching me. The sales people at VS didn't um, examine the merchandise as I tried it. Nor did they poke at me to show why what I was wearing didn't fit properly, but this woman did. She said that either my upper body is a bit slimmer to fit in the 34 now, or they improperly measured and I kept buying the 36 because of the comfort, therefore the bra wasn't doing anything. The B has some boobie left over on the side near the armpit and some lifting out of the middle. Frankly I thought that was how it was supposed to fit, but no one has given me any feedback on this before.

Next was a "fit test," which means you have to try on a few bras from a company that is generally good for everyone. The woman brought me a 34D and 34 DD. Double D? I asked if the natural progression of things would have me in a C, and shouldn't I try that first? She refused. She insisted that I was a natural D and that I had the wrong coverage this whole time. I tried on both bras and I thought they looked absolutely ridiculous. It was more like outfitting someone for a backpacking trip. Thick straps were across my shoulders and a gargantuan three hooked back strap made me feel like I was in a harness and ready to unleash a parachute. That is, with out a shirt on. The cups themselves looked like they came up to my collar bones, something any grandma would wear but NOT ME. I like the demi, lacey look and feel and this was far from it.

She insisted that I was the 34DD, to which I insisted that there was NO WAY I could be that big. I'm just not. So she brought out a bunch of styles to try on in that size to prove her point and they all were completely silly fly nets on me. She conceded that I was right and a bunch of 34D bras came at me next.

They fit, um, better and one was really good, but I just didn't understand the whole situation. I felt myself all harnessed up with bras holding my ribs in and pinching my shoulders, but the breasts settled in with a listless flop. Is that doing anything for me? The larger the size that I tried, the more the breasts looked like they were triangular in shape and moving toward my armpits. Aren't we trying to avoid that?

I bought the one that fit nicely, but wasn't entirely convinced. I don't see how I could be a D. They're not that big! At least, I hope not. I sought out a second opinion and since Victoria Secret may have lead me astray, I wanted to see what they would say.

The fitter there was quick and used actual measurements rather than checking me out. She said I was probably in between a 36C and a 34D, but for strapless you should get the smaller strap size to be held up properly. I was shocked. I told her that just two years ago I was a 36B and that they couldn't have possibly grown that much! I kept saying that I'm just not that big, but alas, they also had a 34D that was a perfect fit.

So I bought that one also to compare and try them both on with the dress. I also bought a regular bra in that size to see if I liked the feel better than what I already have. I sincerely don't have any idea how these things work, since I don't feel much bigger on top. It's possible that there isn't a ton of cup variation in the category I am in. Regardless, it's not like I can stock up on a favorite style because in two years I could hit that 34DD. Maybe two years after that I will be a 32G, in which case I will jump off a bridge.

Before ending the undergarment shopping extravaganza, I realized that I also needed nylons for the event. Five hours, 3 bras, and one pair of nylons later, I spent $175. And this is why the man should pay for dinners out; because our mere existence is so much more costly than theirs.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Radiant Child

Recently I completed a program in which I learned to teach yoga to children. The focus was on an age group a little younger than I intend to work with, but it was informative and helpful anyway. The class was full of women, all of which were mothers except myself and one other. I could see how the techniques would help them with their own children, but I felt pretty silly with a lot of the training.

The facilitator taught us as if we were the children in the age group she targeted. For example, Friday night we were in pre-school, Saturday we were 4-8, and Sunday we were pre-teens. It was in a word, weird. Sure I laughed my head off and it was probably worth it for that alone, but I couldn't help feeling strange. It's weird to be thrown a ball and asked what your name is and what your favorite animal is. Or, to make elephant noises and walk around with your arms in the shape of the trunk.

One thing that always makes me feel like a total moron is singing. I generally do not sing out loud unless I have had alcohol or I am feeling silly. I don't even sing in the shower. Little did I know there was a ton of singing throughout the training, and we even had to lead the class of adults in songs like: Fly Like A Butterfly, Happy Happy Gio, and Yogini Went To Sea. Most of these songs have been re-playing in my head every single day since the course. An example of what this looks like to the intended audience is here:

I have to admit that I felt insane at various intervals, especially since pretending to be a child makes you want to randomly yell out things like, "Potty!" I even had to fight the urge to run around making airplane noises.

Besides my awful singing, there was also the element of talking in the goo goo ga ga voice, which I am not at all a fan of. I found this children's yoga video and seriously worried that this is why people think practicing yoga is nuts:

I understand that the type of yoga generally taught to children is Kundalini Yoga, which is different than the yoga I practice. I also know that as an instructor I do not have to do anything that I am uncomfortable with. The songs are cute and the movements work really well with kids to get them to shake it out and stretch and focus, and even to breathe. Just creating more awareness for a child, such as when to take a deep breathe and when to relax is valuable for their entire life. Clearly I do not want to chant words that kids wouldn't understand. Even if you explained that SAT NAM means: truth is my identity, does it really fit in?

I love yoga and I know that there is something for everyone in it, but sometimes people need to expand their horizons before they will even give it a chance. Does that mean we need to chant and say things that we think are nonsense and irrelevant? Maybe it does once in a while. It couldn't hurt, even if it is pretty silly. I still have a hard time with a lot of that stuff and don't intend to work that way with kids, but you never know. Whatever works, works.

At my cousin's funeral the priest had the attendees chant the Hail Mary over and over and over, which at the time I completely didn't understand. I thought I was in some sort of bizarre cult-ish ritual. Since I am not Catholic like that side of the family, I didn't even know the words and just sat there wondering when this torture was going to end. Now I get that by saying a phrase over and over you connect with your breath and alter your state of mind to concentration. By focusing on the current sound only you alleviate whatever tension or anxiety you're coming in with.

I had a yoga instructor that had us singing some sort of devotion to Patanjali in class, which made me feel like a total moron. Sometimes she would do it when we were stuck in an extremely difficult position and I would end up laughing. It was a trick; I was laughing or other people were singing, and that quadricep trying to scream at you wasn't as loud anymore.

So if we can get children to learn various ways of calming themselves, or tricking them into exercise, what difference does it make how ridiculous the words or the songs are? I seem to remember a truly awful song from my childhood that must have some redeeming quality, if at least only in humor:

Great green globs of greasy grimy gopher meat
Mutilated monkey meet
Dehydrated birdie feet
French fried eyeballs swimming in a bowl of pus
And me without my spoon, so they gave me
Horse meat, sugar on top
Elephant's vomit, milk and snot
Camel's eyeballs mixed with glue
All chopped up, just for you

The Salted Grape

I have to cook dinner for my babysitting job, and last time I did so breakfast was requested. On the menu was: scrambled eggs, turkey sausage, pancakes, and fresh fruit. Simple enough right?

Well, sometimes I panic when I'm in someone else's kitchen and mess up easily. That and I also create a disaster area that takes an hour to be cleaned up. So, the pancakes turned out just awful: thin, runny, stuck together and bland. Mess! The eggs were cold by the time I finished the stupid pancakes and I burned a couple of the sausages. I decided to make this amusing so I brought the kids into the kitchen to make fun of the disaster breakfast/dinner. They took turns making weird pancake designs in the pan, but eventually sat down to an edible meal.

The youngest kept telling me that those were the worst pancakes ever, and drowned them all under a mountain of whipped cream. The other two were totally fine to eat what we ended up with, and created a little dish of their own: the pancake taco. This consisted of the larger, stuck together pancakes folded over with whipped cream and strawberry slices in between. Not bad. One of the kids said that if they ever had a restaurant, the pancake taco would be on the menu.

The kids are fans of white truffle salt, which they enjoyed on eggs. It only takes very little of this salt to add a pungent flavor, which I was not accustomed to. Since I am only the novice foodie, it's fun to get introduced to something new. The youngest was in a silly mood due to the lousy pancakes so she became experimental with the salt. She dipped the grapes and strawberries into the salt and ate them alongside her sweet pancake tacos. I had to try this and while I found it to be completely foul, I wondered if some of the most revered chefs get ideas from their kids. Just because I didn't like it doesn't mean that with the right amount of salt, or perhaps with a different type of fruit, you wouldn't have a fancy shmancy sweet and savory dessert.

I challenged her to create a fancy four course dinner menu of whatever she thought would be good/weird combinations. This project kept her occupied for two whole hours and she even drew pictures of how the food would look.

Course One: Grape A La Mia
halved grapes dipped in a white truffle salt, served with frozen clementine pieces, a bowl of whipped cream, and a side of deer poop

Course Two: Lousay Pancakesay
blueberry pancakes served with a plate of capers, broccoli with butter and cheese, popcorn, and almonds covered in chocolate

Course Three: Fishay
Salmon with blueberries in the eyes, grapefruit topped with steak, and bubbles

Course Four: Dessertay
chocolate cake with gold and diamonds inside

This girl might just be famous one day.

A Sprinkle Of

I miss Q quite a lot. She was the girl I tutored last semester. Toward the end of my time with her I found out that she was recommended for an accelerated program. I felt stupid for constantly working with her instead of helping some of the other children that may have needed me more. But as it turns out, many children learning at an accelerated pace could also be at risk because they are generally ignored and not given the encouragement to keep going. People assume that they don't need help. And so if nothing else, I know that I encouraged Q to achieve.

I grew attached to her and to many of the kids I worked with. It was hard to let go. We had a party on our last day and I intended to bring something healthy and not just the usual garbage kids get. I bought a ton of tangerines, but at the last minute I thought it was pretty lame. I tried to remember what it was that I looked forward to as a kid, and then it hit me: sprinkles.

Whenever my mom took me to Kaufman's Bakery, the ladies behind the counter would give me a cookie with sprinkles on it. They had all kinds: pink, chocolate, M&Ms, red white and blue, etc. It was just a no big deal butter cookie, but the sprinkles struck me as something special when I was little. So on the last day of tutoring I went over to Kaufman's and got a box filled with all kinds of sprinkled cookies and brought them over along with the tangerines.

It was an emotional day and I was teary before arriving. I knew I had to keep it together but the manager asked each tutor to write something special for the kids on an index card, and it was tough. I hadn't worked with some of the very little kids at all, so I wrote stuff like: "You have a great smile!" "You bring sunshine everywhere you go!" And for a couple of the teenagers I wrote: "I support you in fulfilling your dreams," and other cheesy stuff. I didn't know what to write and agonized over this for hours. Writing for Q and her siblings was saved for last.

I wrote Q something similar to what my favorite yoga instructor says at the end of class: "All the strength you need is already inside of you. Just call on it as you need."

Each child also wrote us little notes, and I will have to keep Q's in a special place. Her note said that just writing made her cry, and could she have a picture of us so she would remember me, and please don't go.

I'm dying to know what will happen to Q and her family, but I can't keep in touch unless the parents suggest it. I just recently found out that Q's family had to move again, and they went somewhere without an after school program. It's not so much that I want her to remember me or my contribution, I just want to know that she will be ok.

The sprinkle cookies were a big hit that day, as were the tangerines. Some of the kids had never had a tangerine, so that is a huge success for me. I was impressed by the gratitude over the treats brought in. And to think I nearly brought in only fruit! You've got to treat kids once in a while. Who knows if they ever get anything they want. I hope I made a difference and I hope the experience as well as the cookies made them happy. I wish Q all the success in the world.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Ch Ch Ch

A lot can change in just a month or even a week.

In December I received a dream job offer, but two weeks later it was spoken of as if hypothetical. Something about needing to create space in order to make the job a reality was the excuse given for the change of heart. Feeling crushed at first I wondered just what the universe is trying to tell me? Is this a situation in which to give patience or to flee because your own heart says it will never happen? And isn't it dejavu? Haven't you been told before that you'd be great at...blah blah blah and then you watch time pass realizing it was just a compliment to keep you doing the same old thing.....?

In December I journaled that I want more than anything to receive a graduate degree in "Good Execution," with a certificate in "Patience," since these are qualities I need help with. If any of you know where it is that I can get those credentials, please contact me asap. I consistently have good ideas but have absolutely no idea how to carry them out in real life. The patience factor is huge since my learning lesson of 2010 is that perseverance can pay off in the right circumstances. I've never had the patience to push through a bad time, I just make immediate change. Usually it works to my benefit, but I can see now that maybe I could have waited more patiently to be given a chance.

However, I don't miss the grating behavior of all the Brittneys, Jennys, Phils, Adams, Franks, Amons, Kathleens, Mias, Mitchs, Chicos, Janettes, and Altheas I spent time assisting. The mere lack of respect I faced with all of those people just made me DESPERATE for change. Desperate enough even, to be tempted by the devil. I honestly think I've been possessed for the last four years and the fog has only begun to clear. A new idea of focusing on my strengths rather than trying to conquer weaknesses is slowly taking over. Rather than looking at my time as wasted I see that colossal blunders pave way for better paths.

I also see that creating road blocks isn't going to help achieve any goals. For example, I have stated for years that I would never live with a boyfriend unless there were marriage plans. Well, what guarantee does marriage give you exactly? There isn't one. It's just a pretty awesome party. Living with someone isn't the end of the world and I feel my marriage interest fading anyway. It's just that I fear for getting stuck with another Al Bundy who endlessly complains while watching tv after work. I also desperately fear for losing freedom, which I've fought for in the first place. I've set up significant road blocks which stop me before I even give it a chance.

My tendency to over-do has had me laughing at myself. I picked up a babysitting gig for 3 suburbanite kids, which has got to be the easiest job of my life. When their mother told me that I had to cook dinner I agonized over what I consistently cooked well and asked three people for advice. My first night there I followed a recipe the mom left for me. I told the kids not to worry, I could take criticism and would make them something else if they didn't like it. They couldn't care less. It was food. It was simple food and they ate it and I worried over nothing. Oh yeah! They're kids. They don't care if I put enough spices on the pasta, or if the broccoli is slightly overcooked. They just want to hurry up and get sustenance so they can go back to their video game. Huge reality check.

Despite 2011 having a rocky start, my priorities have changed for the better. In the last month I have already accomplished a few minor goals, I started some fun craft projects, I found new muscles I didn't know I had, I picked up a cash job, I applied for much better full time jobs that I deserve, tomorrow I will start a program to teach yoga to young children, and I think I might be a writer. Not too shabby for one month.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Ned Ryerson!

I love snow days because nature is telling us to slow down. The amount of time and patience it takes to dig out a car from a pile of snow is something we rarely get in touch with. And just so you all know, a cardinal rule of Chicago living is that you never drive downtown unless you absolutely have to, especially not when bad weather is on its way. I'm counting my blessings to have been spared the Lake Shore Drive experience. Let's hope for that early spring.