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Naked Perfection

WristSo it’s Friday morning. I’m sitting on the couch in my pajamas, eating breakfast, drinking a little coffee, and I decide I’d like to watch tv while I enjoy my Cheerios. So I start flipping through the satellite menu. I check all my usual haunts, (Food Network, Comedy Central, A&E,) and there is fuck-nothing on. So I start checking some of my lesser-watched channels, and still nothing good. Finally, in my desperation to  see if there is fucking anything good on tv, I start perusing the lower channels, where it’s usually nothing but talk shows and shopping channels. And it’s as I zip past WE that I see it.

The program is entitled “Look good naked in 21 days!”

It’s obviously an infomercial shilling some workout-program-of-the-week. But that title. Look good naked in 21 days. As if to indicate that the driving force behind my weight-loss should be to salve my burning hatred of my naked body. Or as if I might not know it, but my naked body is some how unacceptable in its present state.

Look, I’m going to level with you here. I weigh more now than I have ever weighed before in my life. You don’t spend a summer hanging out at the race track, drinking beer every weekend without some ramifications. It’s not exactly a goddamn mystery where this extra 10 pounds that have materialized since the beginning of the summer came from. Even if the scale didn’t proudly inform me every morning that my magic number is rising, I would know, because I have a lot of clothes that don’t fit quite so well anymore. You know, pants that bite a touch more than they used to, dresses that zip with a little more resistance than I remember. Okay, who am I kidding, the last time I wore a strapless bra it was like putting a ratchet strap around a beanbag chair.  I get it, I put on weight. It happens, and I’m going to work to fix it.

But of all the times that I hate my body, all the moments that I’ve stared at myself and thought, “You are disgusting.”

When I’m naked?

Not one of them.

It didn’t used to be like this. I used to do that thing where I unfocused my eyes as I walked by the mirror after a shower. I have a giant, fluffy white robe that I would wear from the bedroom to the shower, and it would go right back on the second I was even remotely dried off. And if I did happen to catch a glance of my naked form, I’d be embarrassed for myself. Everything was so bulbous and paunchy, it was just…gross. I felt like a tiny, adorable pixie of a girl trapped in this…this doughy blob. Even when having “sexy time” with Kyle, I would hide myself under the sheets whenever possible, and try not to look at any part of myself when it wasn’t concealed.

But not anymore.

Now, things are different. I don’t know what’s changed; maybe it comes with age and confidence, that bit of self-acceptance. Maybe I’ve subconsciously realized that what the world thinks of the size and shape of my naked body is completely irrelevant, as the world is never going to see it. (Unless we get like, super wicked verging-on-homeless broke, but we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it…) Now when I catch a glimpse of my naked self in the mirror, my thoughts aren’t those of disgust, but delight. “Damn, I look good. Look at those curves. Va-va-voom, bitch!” When I’m naked, I just can’t hate my body, because it’s just so purely and unequivocally me. Me and this body, we do things together, and I love us just being us. When I’m naked, I am Jessica motherfucking Rabbit. It’s only when I put on clothes that used to fit and no longer do that my self-image turns from that of a voluptuous pin-up to that of an adolescent manatee.

So keep trying, fitness workout companies. I have zero doubt in my mind that you will find some way to prey on my self-esteem that will drive me to want to spend my money on some “fool proof” weight loss plan that only requires that I work out for 14 minutes a day and lets me eat anything I want (even chocolate!) while losing half of my body weight.

But not by attacking my naked body. She’s perfect.


Author’s Note: I’ve been siting on this post for a while, so some of the articles or issues mentioned might be a bit dated. However, the sentiment is still very much the same; I’m just too lazy to go find new and current examples to discuss. 


Sometimes it feels like the world is too much to handle.

Everyone’s angry about something. Everyone’s protesting and yelling and shaking their fists. There’s so many things that I’m supposed to be mad about. Oil drilling, fraking, GMOs, vaccines, politicians, war, women’s rights, gay rights, trans rights, minimum wage, unions, race, standardized testing, the economy, religion– and that’s just what I see on my Facebook page on any given morning. And within each of these issues, there’s countless sub-issues for me to be mad about; it’s not enough to just be angry about women’s rights, now I can also be mad about women’s reproductive rights, women’s pay gap, women’s rights to stay at home with their children, women’s rights to work after having kids, women’s rights to breastfeed in public, women’s rights to not look like a Victoria Secret model, women’s rights to not get raped on college campuses, and women’s rights to wear flat shoes on the red carpet at the Cannes film festival. Each one of these issues fighting for my eyeballs and my outrage, begging me to take up the cause and fight for change.

Not that some of these things don’t make me angry. There are a few of these issues that really do make me fume and spit and want to swing a burning bra above my head, regardless of the issue. (Because when you swing a burning bra above your head, people tend to listen to what you have to say. Or at the very least, stop what they’re doing and look at you and say, “Holy shit, is that a flaming Body by Victoria Secret? Does she know those things aren’t cheap?”) Issues that I hold dear to the tenderest part of my heart because I can see the direct affects on myself and those that I love.

And then there’s other issues that I try to learn about. Not because I’m particularly attached to them or their ramifications, but because I feel that as a member of a community, a country, and humanity in general, it’s my responsibility to not only strive for changes that I feel will better my life and the lives of those I love, but to understand the hardships and concerns of others. Maybe I don’t agree with the changes that someone else would like to see, but I need to at least understand the circumstances that has driven them to seek such change, what changes they would like to see, and how those changes might affect other members of society. Maybe I’ll form an opinion of their particular issue and take a side, and maybe I won’t, but at the very least, I feel that it’s my responsibility to have a working, subjective knowledge of the issue, and what both sides have to say.

Basically, if I want to have an opinion, I feel like I have to earn to right to do so.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when things get overwhelming. I try to learn. I read as much as I can, from as many resources as I can. I try to ensure that the resources that I’m reading are as unbiased as possible, or, if it’s an opinion, that it’s framed as an opinion and keep that and their potential biases in mind. But it’s so fucking hard to know who to trust! As Kyle often says, “The internet has given everyone a bullhorn, including people who probably shouldn’t have one.” At best, I find myself reading the poisonous ramblings of a passionate, but uninformed wackadoo, who took the time to put word to the anger and hate they feel in their chest, but not the time to understand the full context or complexity of said issue. These people are unhelpful and detrimental to a small, easily influenced few, but they’re relatively harmless to most of us. They’re pretty easily identified, and equally easily avoidable.

No, the ones who cause the most  damage are the ones who frame their equally narrow views and out-of-context ramblings as journalism. And not because they’re that passionate about this particular issue, but because they want as many clicks and as many shares as possible. They know the concerns, fears, and passions of their readers, and they feed off of and into them. Dangling ridiculous, shock-inducing, “You won’t believe whatever bullshit we’ve dug up, probably because it’s complete bullshit!” headlines for the reader to clamp onto and shake like a dog with one of those limp, dead carcass toys.

For example, the other day I noticed an article posted to my Twitter feed by someone I’ve never met. “Push to court-marshal general for mentioning God!” it  read. Posted on a “news source” that despite it’s claim to be, “America’s Independent News Network,” couldn’t be bothered to hide it’s blatant bias towards opinions that were so far right that I’m sure they make Glenn Beck squirm with embarrassment. (Need proof? The headline below this one was, “‘Slavery is over’: Hired Ferguson Protesters Demand Pay.”) The article went on to say that a civil liberties group is demanding that a general who spoke at a National Day of Prayer gathering and mentioned the part that God plays in his life be court marshaled, that it was an atrocity for a member of the military to mention religion at a military gathering. Except that if you read the article closely, you would see that by “demanding,” they mean “posting an open letter to their website.” And if you went to said group’s website, you would see that this “civil liberties group” is a small collective of left-wing tinfoil hat-wearing nutjobs taken seriously by exactly no one. For all its relevance, the conservative article’s headline might as well have read, “‘Heroin makes a nutritious and delicious breakfast!’ says guy on the corner with no shoes!” And yet, this Twitter-er was aghast, lamenting the demise of Christians’ religions freedoms!

Now, obviously this particular headline was pretty fucking conspicuous to me as nothing more than fear-mongering link bait. But other articles from other news sources aren’t so evident, especially when said news source is one of the big publications that supposes itself to have journalistic integrity. (I’m looking at you, Huffpo, MSMBC, and Salon. [I realize that the list of media sources that have relied on or succumbed to link bait and fear mongering at one point or another  is long, and also probably all of them, but these are the three that I find myself falling for most frequently.]) So I find myself questioning everything. Who published this article? How trustworthy are they? How many resources or studies did they themselves cite? Are those trustworthy? Who funded them? What biases  might the author have? What does the opposite side say about this particular subject? Could there be more to the story that this writer isn’t including?

It’s exhausting.

And then, once I have decided that perhaps I have a basic understanding of an issue and I dare to begin to form an opinion, that in itself can make my head spin. Because, sure, I can go with my initial gut reaction. My instincts are pretty okay, I can usually trust them. Except that my gut doesn’t see the grayscale of the world. Living as a bunch of creatures together in a society that has evolved beyond the need for mere survival, we now have to concern ourselves with how our actions will affect every single other thing on and including the entire planet. A question as simple and seemingly straightforward as, “Should California desalinate ocean water in time of drought?” becomes a multifaceted discussion of economics, environmentalism, agriculture, socioeconomic class, and a million other factors, until it seems like there’s no possible way that we can ever come up with a solution that works for everyone because IT’S FUCKING COMPLICATED. Nothing happens in a void. In the name of acting as a responsible member of society, we feel compelled to constantly be looking in all directions to see who we could possibly be hurting or offending with our actions, until it feels like our heads are going to twist off and bounce on the ground.

This is what goes through my head every time I read the newspaper or see news (and “news”) on my Facebook feed. It feels like it’s all too much for me to handle. I don’t even have the energy to be irrationally and unjustifiably angry at all the things that the world is begging me to be upset about. And when I do try to get angry, get involved, have an opinion, I find myself dizzied by all the different sides, all the aspects to the issue, all the infinite ways in which the world is labyrinthine. And in the end, I’m left with no clear idea how I feel about the issue or what a possible solution could be, only the unwavering knowledge that the world is fucking complicated.

Now if you need me, I’ll be in my couch fort, watching Adventure Time.


Not that I’m not over the cold. Don’t misunderstand me, I’m sooooo over this cold. But so is everyone else in this fucking hemisphere. There are people hanging out three feet north of the equator who are tired of it only being 73 degrees instead of 82 degrees. We’re all over the cold.

No, these are the other parts of winter that I’m fucking sick of, the other reasons why it seems like spring will never come.


Dry skin

This one equally baffles me and pisses the living shit out of me. As someone who spent most of her teenage years as a little grease ball, the concept that my skin needs additional moisturizing is completely foreign to me. And the itching. The itching! I lay in bed, trying to fall asleep, and all I can think about is how badly my arms or shoulders itch. So then I have to chose between getting out of my warm bed to slather more lotion on my carcass or attempting to fall asleep while feeling like I’m going to crawl out of my skin. (And yes, I realize that the real solution is to just apply the fucking lotion before I go to bed each night, thus, solving the problem before it becomes one. I’m not that smart when I’m tired.)

The epic emotional battle required to get go from a warm state of being to a cold one.

As if getting out of bed doesn’t hurt enough, there’s also now the pain of the biting cold to look forward to upon throwing off the covers in the morning. I’m not usually a snoozer in the morning; I’ll lay in bed for 15 minutes or so and go through my email, but then I’m up and getting on with my day. But when it’s cold out, and my bed is insanely warm? Fuck. That. Noise. I’ll stay in bed until forced at the exact last moment. Getting out of my bathrobe is another one. I have this giant, fuzzy white bathrobe that is oh-so-warm. If I don’t have anywhere specific that I have to be, I’ll spend at least an hour between my shower and getting dressed running around the house in my bathrobe, just because I can’t bring myself to take it off and expose myself to the cold.

But the worst, the worst, is when I first get to work. My office has a full-length exposed concrete wall and no actual heating vents, because it was never meant to be an office. It was meant to be a closet. So when I get to work, my office is frigid. I have a little space heater that lives under my desk permanently from November until May, but it takes time for that poor little guy to bring the overall temperature above that which is ideal for storing meat. Standing in my coat, scarf, hat, and gloves, it takes about five minutes of self-pep talks before I can muster the willpower to throw my layers off. (And even then, I’ve been known to start the call still wearing my hat and mittens.)

Walking anywhere outdoors is like playing Russian Roulette with my shoe collection.

In addition to deciding if my shoes match my outfit and if they’re appropriate for the activity ahead, now there’s a third fucking factor that comes into play: what are the odds that I’ll have to walk through two feet of snow or accidentally step in a puddle because it really did look like ice instead of water. And even if I can get to my destination without exposing them to snow and muddy water, there’s always salt and sand lurking in every crevice, waiting to leave fucking white streaks on every goddamn thing I own. And yes, I know, I could easily solve this problem by wearing my snow boots all the time instead of just most of the time, but you know, a girl can’t live in furry Doc Martens forever. Maybe I want to go out dancing and I don’t want my feet to get hot. Or maybe I’m going to a formal event where snow boots wouldn’t be appropriate. Or maybe, just maybe, I want to go somewhere without feeling like I’m dressed like Nanook of the goddamn North. But if I do, it’s at the peril of my lovely, lovely shoes. See you in spring, custom rainbow Chucks, I won’t gamble with your life.

The insane amount of laundry we create.

In June, I come home from a day out, and in the hamper goes a sundress or a pair of shorts and a tank, some underpants and bra, and that’s. It. But not this winter. Oooooh, no. I, of the perpetually cold, throw in jeans, a pair of leggings, long-sleeve undershirt, t shirt, cardigan, socks, underpants, and bra, and that’s only if we haven’t been skiing that day. All the layers required to keep my body temperature high enough to keep the blood moving in my veins produces a comical amount of laundry considering there are just the two of us. And of course, it’s all special micro-whatever fabric, each with its own specific and convoluted washing instructions. Oh, how I long for the long summer days of machine washable, tumble dry low cotton!

Opening my mailbox and finding my mail frozen to the bottom of the box.

So, this one might just be something that happens to us. Depends whether this phenomenon is natural or whether it happens because our mailman hates us and purposely drops our main in the snow before putting it in the box. (What, just because we order a lot of shit online and will sometimes go two or three days without checking our mail, forcing him to try to figure out how to cram more shit into an already full box, that’s justification for the man to dislike us? I think not.) Either way, there is something particularly shitty about having to pry one’s mail from a chunk of ice, hoping all along that the envelope on the bottom that’s getting destroyed is something dumb, (like a credit card offer,) and not something important, (like a statement from my insurance company.)

Wearing socks

Okay, it’s not actually the wearing of socks that irritates me, it more…losing access to my feet. I tend to use my feet much like an orangutan, as a third hand. I find picking things up with my toes to be much faster and efficient than bending over, and using my foot to open a door and close it behind me when my arms are full just makes sense. So having to wear socks is like walking around in mittens minus the thumbs. (Which I guess would be exactly like walking around with socks over my hands. Shut up, like your similes are fucking flawless.) Anyway, I find this restriction to my alternate appendages annoying, and I long for the day of non-stop bare feet. (Even if it does mean I have to keep my toenails groomed and painted. Small price to pay.)

All the bitching Kyle does.

Not about the cold or snow. He’s happy as a clam as long as he can ski. And that asshole can walk through the Arctic tundra in a hoodie and be only a little chilly. No, all the bitching he does is about me. For starters, there’s the fact that I “steal all the blankets” when we sleep. Okay, sure, maybe when I wake up the giant mound of blankets is falling off my side of the bed while Kyle clings to the sheets. Some might even call this evidence damning. But nobody can prove a fucking thing because no one sees me do it, now do they? And besides, even if I do steal the blankets, it’s not my fucking fault because I’m fucking unconscious. And besides besides, maybe he should be better at defending himself so that I can’t take the blankets away. Has he ever thought of that? No. No, he hasn’t.

And god forbid I try to touch him. The second my hands make contact with his bare skin, he yelps like a dog that’s been stepped on. He then shouts that my hands are freezing and accuses me of not containing any blood. Which, granted, is pretty fucking hilarious, but not so useful if a girl is try to say, I don’t know, initiate a little sexy time. Because let me tell you, nothing makes one feel less like a sensual vixen than to have one’s husband shrike to keep those icicles the fuck away from him. (I offered to wear mittens once. I don’t think I need to tell you how well that went over.) And he’s also not at all thrilled with the sheer amount of clothing that I have to wear this time of year. As he so romantically put it, “Sometimes it just too much work to dig out all your bits.” Sexy.

Stay inside when it's -5? Not during Chowder Fest!

Stay inside when it’s -5? Not during Chowder Fest!

They’ve told me that spring is around the corner. “Spring is on it’s way,” they tell me, as they try to convince me that swimsuit season is here.

Well, that bitch needs to hurry her whore-ass up, because winter has definitely overstayed its welcome!


Author’s Note: Hi, me again. Thanks for sticking with me on this journey that is recounting my own journey. Journey. Who’s also a great band when I’m drunk. I’m sorry, what are we talking about? Oh, right. Part three of three. Like I said last time, if you’re just joining us, go back and read parts one and two, otherwise this is going to make no fucking sense. Or, just wait until next time, when I go back to talking about my boobs and picking my wedgies. Either way, enjoy.


The day of the test, I woke up numb. I knew there was nothing left that I could do. I had gone through my note cards hundreds and hundreds of times.  I had repeated those fact until they were a part of my bloodstream. Anything that I didn’t know when I woke up that morning wasn’t going to be learned in the hours before my scheduled test, and there was nothing left I could do to prepare myself any more. So I ironed and watched The Simpsons. It seemed to make as much sense as anything else I could do. Driving to the testing center, I didn’t feel panicked or worried, more incredulous that this day was finally here. I kept saying in the car, in a thin, high voice that wasn’t mine, that I couldn’t believe that this day was here.

And then I was sitting at the terminal, and the first question was staring at me.

This was it. The test.

I dove in. Oddly enough, my nerves didn’t affect me during the test. I kinda got into a groove, focusing on each question as it came. Some of them were harder than I thought, some easier. Some annoyed me with their tedium, and some of them were deceptively simple. I did have the out-of-body thought that I sure as fuck hoped that I passed, because I had no goddamn clue how I was going to study to prepare myself any better than I already had. The questions seemed to be purposely worded in a way that made me think that I didn’t know how to come up with an answer. The best analogy that I can come up with is that it’s as if I’d been studying expecting a test where the answer choices would be:

  1. Red apple
  2. Banana
  3. Blue apple
  4. Purple apple

When in reality the answer choices were:

  1. Blue apple
  2. Banana
  3. Unicorns
  4. Loui Eriksson of the Boston Bruins

So yeah, it definitely fucked with me on a few occasions. But in others, it felt as if the question had been written to be intentionally difficult when I was able to figure out the answer almost instantly. It was so easy, it felt like a trick. But with 165 questions and only 3 hours, there wasn’t time to ponder these mind fucks. Read the question, read the answers, re-read the question, choose an answer, next question.

And before I knew it, my allotted time was over. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is when my nerves found me.

No, sorry, that’s putting it lightly. The moment that countdown clock reached zero, my nerves stormed in and gave me a big ‘ol roundhouse kick to the face. Because it was over. I’d taken the test. There was literally nothing more that I could do except to receive the answer to the question that I’d been answering myself for months and months: “Can I do it? Am I good enough?”

Unfortunately for me, before I could leave my terminal to receive my results I had to answer a fucking questionnaire about the testing center. “Was the temperature comfortable?”  Who the fuck cares? “Was the testing center easy to find?” I don’t care, I just want to know how I did on my test, you ass! “Was the testing center quiet?” I WILL DESTROY YOU IF I DON’T GET SOME RESULTS RIGHT ABOUT FUCKING NOW! I’m pretty sure I just clicked at random until the screen told me I could go, because at that moment all my focus was aimed at not vomiting all over the fucking terminal. I walked out of my little room up to the front desk, dazed and shaking. The look on my face must have been disturbing, because Kyle immediately jumped up from his chair and asked how I was feeling. I had a hard time answering, because I was imagining how the secretary’s windpipe would feel under my hands after I leaped over the front desk and tackled her if she didn’t give me my test results right the fuck now. Luckily for the both of us, she told me to follow her back to the printer, which would be spitting out my results momentarily.

Walking back to the printer, my heart pounded in my ears and my legs shook. This was the moment I’d imagined over and over. Every second seemed to take ten. Whatever the answer on that paper spitting out of the printer, I knew that my reaction either way was going to be violent.

And there it was.


I passed.

It took me several seconds to register what the numbers meant. “Well? How’d you do?” Kyle asked, about to burst himself. “I…I think I passed,” I whispered. Kyle ripped the paper out of my hands. “You fucking passed!” he shrieked. “By a lot! You passed by a lot!” And then I was buried in his hug, which is good, because that’s when my legs gave out. And I was crying, and he was saying, “You did it! You fucking did it!” over and over, and the secretary was looking uncomfortable and as if she would very much like to be back behind her desk. We left and I called my dad from the parking lot. And I couldn’t believe it. I’d worked for so, so long, towards this one seemingly impossible goal, and I’d accomplished it. Just like that, it was over. Elated doesn’t cover it. I felt like I was going to vomit, but good vomit, like it would be all rainbow and glittery. This is all I’d wanted, all I’d worked for, all I’d dreamed of, and now it was mine.

In the weeks since I passed my ETCP, the ecstasy has ebbed, as it does, but so has the disbelief. I’m immensely proud of my accomplishment, and it no longer feels like such a miracle that I passed, more of the natural result of hard work. As I suspected, it’s done a lot for my feeling of validation. I no longer feel like a fraud about to be discovered at any moment, but someone who kicks ass at what she does, and I have the card and a fancy certificate to prove it. (As well as some stickers and a pin. I wanted balloons, too, but Kyle says that they don’t do that.)


But as with the ending to so many journeys, this one doesn’t feel so much like an ending. Rather, it feels like another beginning, one that has me asking, “What’s next?” At this moment, I don’t know. I have some hopes and some suspicions, but no definitive answers. We’ll just have to wait and see.

But whatever it is, I hope comes with balloons.


Author’s Note: I know, these are getting excessive. But just one more thing right quick. I wanted to take a moment to thank a couple of people who sorely deserve it. Endless, unbounded thanks to my amazing husband, Kyle. Thanks for  your unwavering support, for never doubting that I could do it. Thanks for the countless hours spent talking me through concepts that I didn’t understand, and all those nights spent asking me note card questions. I quite literally couldn’t have done it without you. A giant thank you to my dad, Steve Dietrich. Without you, I still wouldn’t understand what the resistor color code meant and would still be confusing inductance and capacitance. Thanks for all the hours spent listening to me vent about how hard this was, and for understanding that I’m no better at math today than I was back in high school. And a huge, unlimited refills thank you to all of my family and friends who’ve had to listen to me talk about this goddamn test for the past year. I know that you have to be pretty sick of listening to me babble on and on about the taking of and subsequent passing of my ETCP, and yet, I’ve received nothing but love, support, and unwavering faith from all of you. That means more to me than I know how to say. (And now I promise to shut up and get a hobby.)