About thedorkygirl

My name is Karen, and I am 25-years-old. I moved from the suburbs to the city of Dallas last year, and I have been trying to figure out how I want to live my life - from getting enough exercise and eating healthfully to writing a journal, a blog, poetry, and fiction.

The bad air levels have been upgraded in Dallas, unfortunately.

I went walking with my oldest, Bubba, today before his dad came to pick him up for the weekend. Poor little guy started dancing with ants in his pants around 12 noon asking what time it was and what time he’d be picked up. 6:30, Bubs, sorry.

I had a very difficult conversation with Bubba today about his weight and how we could get more healthy together. He is severely overweight, all in his gut – if he were a pregnant woman, he would be at 7 or 8 months. It’s horrible.

I said to Bubba, “You know you’re a little bit chubby, right?” because he had complained about being teased at school earlier. He nodded. “We’re going to work on being more healthy. We’re going to work on mindful eating – we’re going to think about everything that goes in our mouth, not just shovel it in. We’re going to think about why it tastes good, and we’re going to watch our portion sizes, because you want to be a healthy weight, don’t you? And we’re going to work on being more active together. All of these things are going to be lifelong good habits that you’re going to use, okay?”

That is the shittiest conversation to have with your six-year-old, because you don’t want to give him a fucking complex. I have to tell you, this sucked. He’s been calling himself fat – never said by me!!! EVER — since was 4, and I didn’t see him from age 5 to 6, and he’d gained a lot of weight. Poor Bubs.

Later on, Bubba and I went on a walk around the neighborhood. I asked him if he wanted to “walk for a spell”, and I meant it, because during the walk, I spelled out everything I could think of as we passed it.

“Yahya,” he said, “I don’t want to do this. Why are you doing this?”

Because you are really smart, little guy, and no one works with you on that? If you are encouraged and taught tricks about how to learn, you’ll do better than stumbling through?

“Because I see words when I say them spelled out in my head, and I like to do this,” I said.

We “walked for a spell” until the combination triggered my asthma, and then I made us go back home. He wanted to go more around the block, and I told him that if we were going to have “good habits”, we had to do a little bit of something every day, no overdose and get sick of it the second day. Obviously he wanted to be more active as part of improving his physique.

The conversation still makes me sad. There are many reasons why he has this issue – many reasons which I will not go into here. It all makes me sad and overwhelmed sometimes. I love the little guy.

Suffice it to say that he and I together will work to get more healthy because – SURPRISE! – I am the biggest I have ever been in my life. Portion control is something I don’t manage well either, and I have been stress eating for months. If there is one big thing I miss about smoking cigarettes, it was that I could drop weight when stressed, not gain it! I am officially a fatass, and I need to fix that.

my relationship with my hair

I got my first perm when I was four years old. I’m not sure what my grandmother was thinking; my younger sister had just enough hair on her head to prove that she would be in possession of a fine curly mane. Maybe she wanted a matching set? I can’t imagine chemically perming my preschooler’s hair!

 

emkarkate
I’m in the middle with the fuzz balls; the little brunette is my sister after one of her many self-administered hair-cuts

 

Now, don’t get me wrong. We started plucking Bubba’s eyebrows when he was three (my sister has amazing hair, yes, but also a unibrow that she passed down to her eldest son). When my best friend shamefacedly admitted to flat ironing her 4-year-old daughter’s hair to make it easier to style, I told her that I didn’t see an issue – her daughter doesn’t have curls or waves, more like random directions that strands like go.

Instead of getting a third perm, by the time I was seven, my grandmother had changed to sponge rolling my hair each evening. Much more work, but my hair didn’t turn brittle and fall out. It was cute, and most of my school pictures for the next five years showed perfect rolled curls. My hair holds curl amazingly well! #lucky #bragging

At the time the sponge rolling stopped, my hair had begun to darken much too much for my personal taste, and so at 12, I began putting peroxide in my conditioner. Thus began my long obsession with ruining my hair (sometimes with good results, but with many horrible results in-between).

karen_blue_hair_2
I want to apologize to myself for entering junior year of high school looking like this. My grandmother LOVED it, though. PS, yes, I am wearing a nylon stocking as a necklace.

I chopped all my hair off, I grew it back, I dyed it red (folks I graduated with whom high school assumed I was a natural redhead for how often I went back to that), I chopped it off, and I dyed it blue. By the end of senior year, I had collected my length once again (my hair also grows really fast) and started on the peroxide sun blonde with which I was so familiar and used as my claim to blonde fame.

It wasn’t until several more trips through blonde and permed and brown and auburn and chopped and mohawks that I let my hair grow out it’s natural texture and color. I was 25 through 26 years old and discovering my real hair for the first time in over twenty years. All was going well until a friend of a friend called me firecrotch.

Upon which I realized that I didn’t have ash blonde hair. My roots are ashy, yes, but give me a little sun to shine and I get a decidedly red tint to my hair. My heart was broken and my sensibilities injured, I tell you! Let us say that I had a bad encounter with a redheaded girl, and while I’m like, “Whew! Dodged a bullet!” I also did not want to think of myself as even slightly red.

Determined to rectify the situation, I decided to peroxide – rather, as that was too slow -bleach the hell out of my gloriously healthy locks. And it was A Bad Idea. Terribly Bad. I ended up going to a salon and getting another pixie and my first black dye job.

My first time black!
Even looking at this photo, I feel like a completely different person.

 

I hated it from the beginning. Pixie hair is no fun once you’ve moved far enough up the ranks in work that a mohawk is not considered quirky and fun but weird and irresponsible. The color was great for the two weeks it stayed black, but it faded into a brassy brown. My old stylist had moved to far East Texas, and so I was going to a different stylist every month hoping that they wouldn’t butcher my cut (hint: vain hope; one even removed an eyebrow by accident).

So I’m growing it out. I’m much, much too poor to get extensions (yeah no, I will put down more than a car payment for a beauty treatment that I have no guarantee won’t be a major screw-up).

But I wanna go blonde again! I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’m not satisfied with my natural hair color, and that’s okay. It’s perfectly fine! I’m going to do it the tried and true way. A bottle of conditioner for my use only, a 79¢ bottle of peroxide, and a lot of time in the sunshine in between.

 

Red shining throughmORE SUNSHINE. That’s an excuse for more lake time, right?

 

See ya on the blonder side.

a dead rat

Image

Rats have been especially bad this summwr – product of urbanization. The more the land around here is cleared for housing and commercial development, the more rats were see each summer. We were ten years ago on the county line, and the road was gravel. Now the city has annexed more land, built a large hospital across the road that they paved, and last I heard developers are trying to buy the ranch two miles down to turn it into more McMansions.

Thankfully, the cat is getting fat this summer on all the rats!

To a Native from a Transplant

Him’n that pillow, huggin’ it out all night.
Makes him look younger’n he is.
But I’ll never tease him or hide it away,
‘cos he needed that pillow, given-a him
in the blanched glow of the hospital,
when fear nested deep in our hearts.

Him’n that pillow, years later, still there,
‘neath fancier fellows by day,
but come dark, he’ll clutch it tight to his scarred chest,
grandad and his pillow.

 

poetry

Can we blame the fact that Dallas dropped 30 degrees overnight this week?

I have a bad hip, which can be blamed on a number of things. Apparently my family has deformed hips. I stepped off a porch wrong one drunken night at 22. I swell up for no reason whatsoever, and it has even given me lovely stretch marks on the back of my knees and pulls my body crooked, putting stress on my joints.

And finally, the worst trigger: I am not made to have sex with men who have bigger hips than I do, or at least I haven’t figured out how.

Most of my exes are stick figures, tall and lanky, but I have the occasional football player in my black book (jk that would kill me), and Jesus Christ, they are not fat men, but they are definitely not slender men, either. So if my dumb ass climbs that mountain, I pay for it later. Sometimes for a few days or even upwards of a week. I have been paying for my last excursion for almost a month now.

It’s pretty bad today, had been building up to it all week. I’m really swollen, which could be the kitten or could be the weather, who knows. Today is the worst hip pain I’ve ever experienced – I cannot cross my legs and I can barely rise from my chair without wincing. My knee isn’t happy either, so in all honesty, I would like a cane. And get off my lawn!

Last month after the blood test results came back – they took over half a dozen vials – and nothing stood out, I got frustrated and sad and angry. I canceled several appointments with specialists and haven’t rescheduled them. I haven’t gone for my allergy shots. I am simply too worn out right now from the discovery of ‘nothing’ once again to contemplate continuing right now. Don’t get my wrong – my rheumatologist and immunologist are both awesome doctors, but the prospect of multiple MRIs (6! Expensive!) and additional referrals to additional specialists is too much right now.

I need to sleep early to wake early so I can take the dog for a walk before work. I hope that gentle exercise will help me. That, and I’m carrying about fifteen more pounds than I want, and summer is fast approaching. Cyrus, my boy, get ready to pull at the leash until you choke yourself into a cough again! #standyourground

P.s., does anybody know how to tango when you’re petite and your partner isn’t? :/

We will not be having coffee

I was recently contacted by an ex-boyfriend, and the experience helped remind or reveal to me several things.

One: I have memories of incidents which I am far away from them, almost as if I were reading them.

Two: I have a compulsive need to write down and explore these incidents, or I will lose the emotional impact of them. Was this created in my childhood of constant journaling and constant memory suppression?

The first time I sat down and selectively eliminated memories, I was 7 years old (thank you, chronic post-traumatic stress disorder, and an early self-taught awareness of cognitive behavioral therapy – I said to myself: “If I don’t just forget these things about which I can do nothing, I will not be able to move on. What do I need to get rid of?”)

I started my first journal that same year, though I did not become obsessed with journaling for another two years. It’s almost as if strong memories cannot be recalled on a primary source basis, but only by the separation of writing or discussing them with other people. I can have stronger memories of writing out something than of actually experiencing it.

Three: I date narcissistic men, and I seek out playing the victim.

I came to the third startling conclusion while reading the letters from my ex. He was a real stunner, and though he didn’t realize it at the time, he was emotionally and sexually abusive. I don’t think he realizes that now; he just thinks that he was an asshole to me. At the time, I knew exactly what was happening, but for some reason, I just didn’t give a damn that it was going on. In fact, I reveled in the knowledge that I was putting up with his bullshit and let him attempt to play mind games on me. Every time he yelled at me, I took it as practice in closing down my emotions. I had recently gone through a very traumatic & violent experience, and he was almost like a punishment to myself because I didn’t believe I deserved what I really wanted (which I HAD PURPUOSELY TURNED DOWN to date this guy!).

As I sat there recoiling in horror at my memories the relationship, I thought about the things which had drawn me to my ex, and then compared them to things which were what had drawn me to my main long-term ex-boyfriend, and then things that had drawn me to many men in the past.

Confidence, humor, a willingness to impart knowledge to me in subjects that I wasn’t learned in….

I’m not saying that any of these men – most boys – were cruel or bad people. Only one was truly in need of anything more than therapy and some sense knocked into them by life’s lessons. But in their own ways, most of the men I have dated have been selfish and patronizing and, somehow, “better than” me.

Why was I drawn to people like this? I like people whom I can admire, true. My friends are all AMAZING people whom I am desperately, platonically in love with. Why then do I take it to the extreme – why do I involve myself in men who make me feel as if I’m not good enough?

For a lot of the men, it was a trade off. There was some way that I was superior to them, and I knew that when I dated them, and it was fine to take their small abuses because I could play the victim and feel like a better person than them.

As I’ve gotten older – especially in the last three or so years (post that ex!) – I have gotten better about not going after men who show strongly negative narcissistic tendencies. I definitely haven’t cut the cord completely, but I approach men on a more even playing field. After having actually becoming the victim, I refuse to play the victim.

I knew a lot previously about myself choosing men over whom I felt power or superiority, and I have actively avoided easy targets (which are SO EASY). Why date losers, right? But now that I see this victim-role I put myself in, I can be more watchful of myself and hopefully avoid or curtail it in the future.

I still make bad choices in men, and I am still picky as all hell, but in the last two years, I’ve only had one strange affair, recently and finally closed, and he was simply deeply self-absorbed, not narcissistic.

And perhaps this time I’ll become interested in someone who carries conversations, not delivers soliloquys.

edited in for clarification The amount of fucks I did NOT give about this guy probably saved my ass from a lot of emotional repercussions. Other than being a little bit afraid of him to this day, I really came out of the relationship with very few issues. Thankfully, I was already damaged goods, and he wasn’t throwing anything I hadn’t been obsessively reading about since I was in grade school

International Red Lentil Soup

A chef I happened upon at the grocery store gave me this recipe, which I recited back to him several times to commit to memory. I call it International Red Lentil Soup because it traveled to several countries before it reached me in Dallas.

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 white onion, diced well
  • 1 nest egg angel hair pasta
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ cup red lentils (dry measure)
  • 1 whole organic lemon juice
  • 1 ½ tsp tumeric
  • 1 ½ tsp curry (punjab)
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 ½ tsp salt

COOK

  • Put onion in a saucepan and cook over medium heat for about a minute, no longer.
  • Crumble angel hair nest and stir into pan.
  • Add the water.
  • Next, rinse the red lentils really, really well, and add them to the pan.
  • Add the lemon juice & spices.
  • Cook, covered, for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.

The lentils get soft and almost disintegrate when the soup is finished. It smells divine and tastes even better. This is a fabulous dry goods recipe to have on hand!

This soup is my first experience with lentils – the gentleman who gave it to me was in the spice department when I was looking for ground ginger. We began talking, and in about 15 minutes time, he had loaded my basket with the items for this soup and given me instructions on how to make it!

His biography: He is an Iraqi who studied culinary arts in Italy and owned a restaurant in Sweden. International indeed!

Thank you, sir!

they have more vitamins, probably, like carrots unpeeled

When you’re a little kid, trips to the store stick out in your mind. The mall with the skating rink, or the carts that had the bottoms covered in plastic so I could ride on them without my hair getting tangled in the wheels (that was a CVS or Walgreens, but I always loved those carts when we visited!)

I remember one time when I went grocery shopping with Mom. It was AWESOME. I recall, for some reason very specifically, we got celery. But in any case, we got a lot of food, and I was so happy!

But Mom gave all the food to the Big House. Almost every bit of it, including the celery. I remember a few days later standing in the kitchen at the Big House, and the Wife was peeling potatoes. Mom had bought those potatoes, I knew, and I was hungry. Really, extremely hungry, almost desperately. I remember that especially. I asked for some potato peels. I got some of them, but the rest went to the chickens in the yard.

I was 5, almost 6 years old, and that was the first time I explicitly understood that Mom was paying rent for a traphouse by using food stamps, but it wasn’t the first time I’d gone hungry, or had fatass druggie adults eat in front of me, claiming that hadn’t eaten all day. I hadn’t eaten all day, either – it must have been a weekend, because I got free breakfast & lunch at school.

I still almost have a panic attack if I don’t have food near me, or in my cupboards. I still like the taste of raw potato peels, and I still think about chickens when I eat them.

a memory of a summer spent wishing i were swimming

When I was like 11 or 12, we were going whole hog at volunteering at brother’s school. He has nonverbal autism, and the school was comprised entirely of special education students. It was summer, and we were all going to go to the swimming pool. I remember I rode over in the car with one of the teachers aides, an Indian man. He put on a song on the radio, I suppose in Hindi, and started laughing, and said that it was a sexy song and it was about this or about that.

Of course it creeped me out, and I didn’t go back to volunteer at my brother’s school for the rest of the summer. My grandmother told me derisively, “Oh, Karen went swimming,” never even asked me why the hell I had just dropped out of the whole thing like that. My sister was the little darling who helped all that summer.

Couple years later, that asshole got caught molesting the kids in the bathrooms. There were multiple teachers involved, if I recall correctly.

Huh, maybe she should have asked me, after putting me in the dangerous situation of ALONE IN A CAR WITH A MAN I BARELY KNEW, why I didn’t want to go to volunteer anymore. Instead, I was told I was selfish. Just another example of me protecting myself.