Breaking News: the News is Heartbreaking

Drugs, politics, scandal, murder, mayhem, traffic, and weather.

It’s no wonder I rarely watch the news considering the weather is the only potentially pleasant topic (and if it isn’t sunny and 80 degrees than the weather can barely be deemed an agreeable subject).

I remember waking up unnaturally early in the morning all throughout my grade school career and turning on the news and toaster as soon as I stepped downstairs to the kitchen. I probably could have slept in an extra 10 minutes if it weren’t for my partiality towards Eggo waffles with a light amount of butter and a liberal amount of cinnamon sugar sprinkled on top, and the morning news, but it was worth a bit of missed sleep to happily greet the day.

wjzWhile gulping down my waffle and trying to keep my sugary fingers limited to the area around my napkin, I would tune into WJZ channel 13 news, and aim for a level of knowledgeableness that those as young as I was rarely achieved. True, the information I was retaining was more about local stories, such as the year’s Polar Bear Plunge, interviews with local businesses regarding the effect of whatever weather pattern we were in the midst of, the Raven’s chances at bringing another championship back to Baltimore, and the musical styling’s of a particular club or charity group, but I loved greeting my city each and every morning through channel 13.

puppies and rainbowsAnd now, it saddens me to turn on the news once so full of charm and energy. Maybe society has increasingly given into the lawless ways that were once so forbidden in the past, maybe I just never noticed the doom and gloom almost ever-present on the television as a child, maybe now our society is more attune to the serious and seriously disheartening subjects, or maybe I just keep tuning in right after a happy story about rainbows that lead to puppy friendship and happily ever-afters with more rainbows.

But really.

Things have got to change people, and fast, because if I have to listen to one more story about a corrupt/cheating/drugged out politician, I may be in danger of spitting out my Eggo waffle in an almighty rage before proclaiming to the neighborhood a distaste for my negative perception of the media and then proceeding to light my house on fire (with the cat toted away to a safe location) as I gleefully watch all of my televisions melt into a dreary heap.

And that’s not a story you’d be pleased to see on the news.

How to Assemble a Grill

Firstly, let me offer you my sincerest congratulations for getting to this point. After days of searching online and creating what is sure to be a permanent indentation in the couch cushions, after hours of checking shipping updates until you could recite your order confirmation number from memory, after countless time spent wiping drool off of your lower lip at the mere thought of this heavenly gift, it has arrived. The Weber 22 ½ -inch One Touch Silver Grill.

weber grill

Standing in the doorway of your home, looking at your bundle of joy sitting neatly wrapped up at the end of the driveway, it’s understandable that your eyes begin to tear up as if the grill could already be creating a smoky atmosphere from within the confines of its box. There is nothing separating you from untold happiness besides some feeble packaging and a bit of assembly.

And yet, there seems to be a purity that the white cardboard box seems to convey. A sense of delicacy that dictates this box be opened with the gentleness and caressing care of a lover. More than willing to oblige, it seems natural to run your hands over the One Touch description, shivering as you read of its porcelain enameled bowl and lid. However, your hands dare not touch the Weber logo; there are still things in this world too sacred to suffer such defilement from mere common folk.

But now, it is time. Gently picking up the sides of the box, you shuffle to the backyard as to allow yourself a more intimate setting when bringing life into this world. Instinctively, it seems quite obvious to grasp the top of the lid and slide your fingers underneath the binding tape (tape which you may want to save for scrapbooking purposes). The lid opens effortlessly. Styrofoam packaging next greets your sight, but its job is no longer needed; you are now the guardian of the grill. There seems to be more tape placed onto the actual grill itself, containing certain parts and pieces for later assembly. The secret to life, the universe, and everything is not as heavily defended as this grill, and rightfully so.

The directions are placed neatly on top. But this process is your birthright. No instructions necessary. The only decision you have to make is whether to trash or recycle this worthless pile of paper. And seeing as the recycling bin is much longer of a walk, and therefore would mean much longer time spent away from your Precious, it is perfectly acceptable to carelessly chuck that once great beauty of a tree into the garbage can.

I’m aware that by now you’re starting to worry about how much effort and energy you’ve sunk into this project. You’ve already missed your 11 o’clock showing of The Price is Right; what if they were playing Plinko today?! But you just need to keep going, because I know you can do this, I know you’ve been working your whole life to arrive at this point, I know that you can give it at the very least, 80%. I understand that your desire may be beginning to wane just a tad, but I can assure you that the Southern Smokehouse Burger, as shown in the complimentary Weber cookbook, is indeed as mouthwatering as it appears.

southern smokehouse burger

Enthusiasm sufficiently renewed? I thought so.

Already removed the nuts and bolts from the box? That’s 80% worth of effort if I’ve ever seen it! Now look how they’re all scattered throughout the grass; look how in tune with nature we are today. Finally seeing the light of sun, the promise of greasy goodness to come, and now we’ve taken a comfortable seat on the ground to search for those screws, our hard work is most definitely paying off and soon we’ll be enjoying the finer things in life.

But as you prod and poke at the metal frame, the aluminum vents and ash catcher, the glass reinforced nylon handles, you may begin to notice the distinct change of sunlight. Despite the copious amounts of free time in your possession, you now reach the cardio section of the program, as with renewed vigor, bolts are beaten in and screws and screwed into place before the light disappears (Note: It may be more effective, in the retelling of this harrowing feat if you were to search the Internet for some real construction phrases). Despite the time taken to puzzle over the involvement of extra bolts and question why any sane human being would design a black grill with black screws, you come to the conclusion that good things are worth waiting and working for. And the memory of that Southern Smokehouse Burger sure is a good thing. With hunger and a gluttonous desire to drive you forward, the grill will begin to resemble something that you could actually use while cooking.

Once the grill comes together in a manner not entirely unlike the diagram in the instructions booklet, with a faint marking on the side that is slightly resembles Jesus Christ, comes the most important part of assembly: the test phase. I know you’ve really worked up an appetite by moving that arm back and forth while screwing in some of those pieces. And the fact that you had to miss lunch is now probably starting to catch up with you. Believe me, I understand the effort required in sitting down in the lukewarm sunlight while debating which cut of beef you’d like to allow to first grace the fruits of your labor (not that a fruit would get within 10 yards of your Precious). You’ve really worked up quite an appetite, and it’s time that that appetite was rewarded with what your doctor has frequently and loving referred to as “heart attack inducing bundles of grease and fats yet unbeknownst to man”.

As you hurry back into the house to grab that classic hamburger patty (an old favorite deserving this ceremony of honor), be careful not to trip over that Groupon-bought elliptical that’s still lurking in its battered box in the hallway. You’ll really need to open that box on a day when you have enough free time to find that pair of scissors…

battered elliptical

Vanity, Thy Name is Katy (Pt. 2)

One week ago, I decided to reject my reflection for a solid 7 days so as to break my horrid habit of a vanity so great that I do indeed think that song is about me.

so vain

I was fed up with constantly feeling the need to look at myself in the numerous and various reflection surfaces placed around my life in an effort to keep me continuously obsessing over the state of my hair. I had come to the conclusion that since looks were of such little importance the acknowledgement of those looks mattered just as little. I was already well aware of the struggles I would undoubtedly face while trying to use my phone without catching a glimpse of my technology-tinted profile.

Even then, I was not ready.

The week of this challenge was one of the longest weeks of my life. I actually believe that someone may have snuck in a good extra bit of hours, and this week was comprised of 9 or 10 equally unsatisfying days.

Throughout the challenge I felt nervous and agitated and upset at not being able to look in the mirror. I constantly felt the need to confirm my existence by looking at myself and being reassured that I hadn’t turned into a ghostly creature no longer capable of sustaining a physical form, I actually chose this limiting lifestyle. I even felt none of the love towards my body or my self that I assumed would come by denying my image, if anything it made me feel a bit worse, like I was so ugly that if I walked into a bank they’d turn off the cameras (ba dum tish). And even though I actively tried to avoid my reflection, I still caught glances of myself throughout the day which only fueled my anger; I would tease myself with a brief glimpse and then immediately turn away before my eyes could drink in that sorry sight of a crazy person (as only loons would attempt a challenge so ridiculous).

Here are my reasons why I will never attempt this challenge never ever never again:

  • It was frustrating and a tad painful not to be able to use the mirror to put my contacts in.
  • Hiding behind other people in Bodypump made exercising quite the chore. I want results after a workout, not to be denied looking at my awesome and newly fit body!
  • My neck hurt from looking down so much to avoid mirrors. Truthfully, I had to hide my eyes so often that it hurt.
  • No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t help but catch accidental glimpses of myself which was quite obnoxious.
  • Looking at my shadow was often the highlight of my day.
  • On the third day I had such a struggle putting in an earring that it took me an extra few minutes and a red ear before being ready for class.
  • I didn’t care as much about myself, and consequently ended up eating more and exercising a bit less.

Why I’m somewhat kind of maybe barely glad that I completed this challenge:

  • When Skyping I actually spent more time looking at the person I was having a conversation with than looking at myself in the little vanity cam they provide.
  • Getting ready in the morning was a breeze and I never really worried about outfits or jewelry choices (though I’m sure other people worried over the sake of my mental health; red shorts with a blue top, really?).
  • I look in the mirror less now, or at least think twice before I look.
  • Ummm, that’s it.

IMG_2728Honestly, I barely want to talk about this experience because I had such a negative time with it. One important thing I’ve learned is that vanity is perfectly healthy in small doses, and denying such self devotion only serves to turn you into an angry and grumpy person with funky looking hair. While it may not be so good as to pander to all of your vices, I’ve come to feel that vanity, while annoying in excess, is actually quite harmless.

Vanity, Thy Name is Katy

On average, I look in the mirror 18 times a day.

That’s not even counting the number of occasions when I catch a glimpse of my reflection in some shiny surface. Yeah, that’s not me puzzling over that artistic portrait as to fathom the creator’s intent, that’s me trying to get a glimpse of how my hair looks in a ponytail.

It’s puzzling as to why we as humans aren’t content until we’ve looked at ourselves up and down, in a full length mirror, from a side angle, with duck lips, and with a hat tipped jauntily on our heads until we realize that such a hat is too bold for our certain hair style. Do any other animals perform this ritual of self-interest? Do ducks float around on lakes so as to constantly view their watery profile? Has anyone really considered why it is birds fly into windows? Perhaps they’re simply overly anxious to confirm that their feathers are as preened as they should be. I’m also fairly certain that if you gave a monkey a camera the first thing they would do is take a selfie while hanging out in their tree house.

I opted for the scarf instead of the hat...whoopee!

I opted for the scarf instead of the hat…whoop de doo!

And then once we do give into temptation and look to our beautiful image, what do we see? Ourselves. Almost exactly as we were the last time we checked. What’s the point? What does it matter if I have a small bump in my hair? If my lips need more glossing will the world stop spinning? If I end up wearing that jauntily tipped hat would it really matter in the long run? Who cares what we look like?!

Well, apparently I care; based on the fact that I look at myself in the mirror around 18 times a day.

Maybe if I were prettier looking I’d understand. But seeing as I’m just regular old plain average normal Katy, what the heck is with my obsession with myself? For me to have two mirrors in my room is extravagant. To look at myself in the full length mirror in the hallway while leaving the dorm is outrageous. To go to the bathroom for any other reason than relieving oneself is simply silly; who wants to spend time in a restroom simply to enjoy the mirror? Even my phone cover can serve as a mirror. Just in case I’d like to ensure that I look my best while sending a text message (because the recipient of my message can just tell if my necklace is hanging crookedly around my neck).

IMG_2621

Why must I look so good in scarves?!

But to be fair to myself, I don’t always set out in search of a mirror. I don’t memorize the location of reflective objects around campus and take longer routes just to get a glimpse of myself. But the fact that my building has a full length mirror in the hallway should tell you something about the world. The fact that there are mirrors above almost every sink, that people carry around compacts just in case, that ever in our cars you can find mirrors above the front two seats, shows what an egoistical and vain society we really live in. I don’t necessarily want to look at my reflection so often, but the world is telling me that I must. They want me to be vain, and I’ve been all too happy to oblige.

Yet, when looking beyond my mundane exterior, you’ll find a rebel with a passion for stirring up adventure and intrigue (in addition to finding a fanatical cat lady). It is this nature that makes me not just question the role of mirrors in my life, but that also makes me desire to denounce them.

There have been many documented challenges of people swearing off the mirror for a month or two or twelve, but seeing as I’m too cheap to buy their books, I’ve decided to create a mirrorless lifestyle challenge of my own. I’ll take a guess that they’ve leaned the meaning of true beauty, internal happiness, styling hairdos without visual assistance, and societal influences on commonly accepted standards, but I’m just hoping to get a grip on reality and learn that survival is possible without knowing if I’m having a good hair day or not.

Starting today, I’m going to cover up the mirrors in my room, avoid my image while using the sink, stealthily avoid looking too closely at my phone cover, and give up admiring/critiquing my reflection altogether. I will do all of this for one week (because I’m weak). At the end of this experiment, I hope to appreciate myself and my body a little bit more and gain some real understanding as to why I can’t help but looking at myself in that glass door window at the gym.

Also, I must have looked at myself nearly 50 times today in anticipation of my mirror cleanse. Wow I’ve got some work to do.

Also also, let’s hope I last the week because I’ve just remembered the wall length mirrors in the gym’s aerobics studio…

Also also also, I’ve just put up construction paper to cover the mirrors in my room. It makes me nervous.

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