You are not Grace.
I am grace.
I am sharp edges, papered down.
I am all of my experiences, good and bad.
I am light.
I don’t reflect you.
You are not Grace.
I am grace.
I am sharp edges, papered down.
I am all of my experiences, good and bad.
I am light.
I don’t reflect you.
I once tweeted Tom Hanks so much Twitter told me I had to stop. I had watched You’ve Got Mail three times in one day and was muting the computer during all the Meg Ryan parts. It was three am, I was crying in a hospital room next to a stranger and worrying the nurses were going to follow through on the catheter threat.
That was the first time I was ever on morphine.
Warning: this blog post is about my boobs and Tom Hanks and when I thought I would have my first kiss and the time I peed on someone’s hand.
It’s hard to explain bra sizes to people who don’t have boobs. For reference, after my surgery I lost 25 pounds – 8 of pure cup. While large breasts are seemingly desirable by the general public, they are actually terrible and lead to years of back pain, old woman bras and bad self-esteem. Do you know how good it feels to be wearing a $70.00 beige bra that is made for an 80 year old when you’re 18? Not good.
You know that song “Do your ears hang low, do they wobble to and fro”? A long-standing joke in my house was, “Do your boobs hang low…can you throw them over your shoulder like a continental soldier.” TBH I probably could have.
I spent three years wearing two bras every day – one for support and one two sizes too small so my chest looked smaller. On days I had to do any kind of physical activity, I taped them.
My initial appointment with Dr. M started out great. Before removing my shirt he told me it was unlikely I needed the surgery and it would probably be best to wait. After taking off my shirt he said, “Oh dear – those are a problem.”
Exactly what every woman wants to hear the first time a man sees her half naked.
This started months of referrals and paper work and even looking at catalogues of other people’s breasts to use as examples. (This is, by far, the weirdest thing I have ever shopped for.)
“My lips are too dry for people to kiss” is the first thing I said after surgery. The nurse put some Vaseline on my lips and assured me there wasn’t anyone to kiss in the hospital and maybe I could try later. I don’t remember her name or even what she looked like but I remember asking her to hold my hand.
After any surgery they try to get you to pee as soon as possible. It turns out anesthetic can effect that area and I couldn’t feel the need to pee and I also couldn’t force myself to. My student nurse (only two years older than me) was patient as she walked me to and from the bathroom three times. Finally they told me if I didn’t go before seven I would need a catheter.
At quarter to seven I told Samantha I wanted to try one last time. She helped me sit down and I peed on her hand. The moment after you pee on someone is confusing because 1) thank God you went but also 2) OMG I just peed on someone.
My mom offered her some mini oranges, so I think we’re probably even now. Somewhere in the land of “making it even” peeing on a stranger can be remedied by some mini oranges the crazy lady in room 305 made you eat.
The surgery itself was longer than expected and I was on Morphine and Tylenol 3 longer than anticipated. When my mom left for the day, and I was bunking it alone, I was still very much under the influence of the pain killers. This is how I discovered that if you mute Meg Ryan, it almost feels like you’re the one dating Tom Hanks in “You’ve Got Mail.”
I tweeted Tom at least 20 times, asking for his number, asking him to marry me – comparing him to Spanks.
I Snapchatted pictures of my new bombs to everyone (pictured here), including a guy I met on Tinder. He never messaged me again.
The life lesson to takeaway from my mistakes– don’t use social media when unsupervised while under the influence.
The surgery was the best decision I ever made in my life besides getting my dog or falling in love or cutting back on how often I go to Burger King. I reclaimed my own body and now I can run and wear a bathing suit. This summer, I even wore a crop top (just around the house but that’s progress).
Do what you need to do to love yourself. Sometimes loving yourself looks like staying in bed a little longer, getting a second cup of coffee or maybe a major cosmetic surgery. Whatever.
Tom Hanks never messaged me back. I regret nothing.
These lists pop up everywhere and maybe it’s time to stop.
Every time I see a father on Facebook talking about the kind of man he envisions for his daughter, or every time someone comments on a picture of a daughter with the caption “you better buy a shotgun” – I cringe.
My father, as much as he has never been a father with a shot gun, has always protected my family. He has been to every recital, he has eaten every batch of burnt cookies and he has never disrespected my mother. There is nobody I respect more than my dad. So, I asked him: “Dad, if a boy wants to date me, what are the rules?”
Gingher looked up from eating his chips and petting my dog and said, “if he’s good to you and respects you. You’re a smart girl.”
The onus on protecting your daughter from the wrong sort of man does not rely on what kind of gun you carry or if you post 10 rules to date your daughter. The kind of man your daughter will look for is the kind of example you are.
My father is the best man I know. He spends Saturdays with my young cousin Jace working in the garage. Jace’s face when he genuinely believes he just fixed a car – priceless. My father has supported my mother going back to school to become a pastor while raising us. My father renewed his passport before I went to Jamaica, just in case he needed to come get me.
When looking for a partner, I looked for someone who was selfless. I looked for someone who was kind, and giving and will definitely tell me to “chill” way too many times (something my dad still hasn’t gotten a handle on). I looked for someone that would pick me up at 2 am if I needed it, who would figure out how to make me feel safe. I looked for someone who my father could respect. I looked for someone who wouldn’t disrespect me and who would only help me build my dream. I looked for someone who was going to be my partner.
When I started dating my boyfriend, I didn’t ask my dad he if liked him – I didn’t have to. He didn’t ask my father’s permission to date me. My father didn’t ask his annual income to see if he had financial means to take care of me. My parents raised me to be able to trust myself – so well that they could trust who I chose to be with.
I’m not saying not to take interest in who your child is dating – definitely do. Ask questions, be interested – but know that who they choose to date is a representation of what they believe they deserve. What they believe they deserve is a result of who raised them.
Build strong women who believe they deserve someone who will showcase their best features and help build their dreams. Love their mothers the way you want them to be loved some day.
Leave the shotgun jokes at home.
When I was six, my grandfather moved in and out of the hospital. We watched Archie Bunker when he was home and he told me and my sister stories about Peter Brodie and Mary Anne. One time he let me try his hospital food, and it was gross. I always felt his love, which was much. He died early one morning. My sister and I slept in my parents bed and cried that night. I swore to my mom I would never love anyone again, at least not as deeply as I loved him.
When I was nine, I went on a trip to Cape Breton. We stayed in a creepy old cottage that had the door locked to the basement. We went to old shops and I stole a pen. My sister said I would go to prison and never see my parents again, I slept with them for the rest of the trip. The police didn’t come after me.
When I was 11 I met A, who was my first crush, and I thought I would marry him. He wore cargo pants every day to school, which at the time was cool. He passed notes with his best friend under my desk. Once I read a note and it talked about a girl in my classes boobs. That’s when I realized I didn’t have any.
When I was 13, my mom finally let me wear a two-piece bathing suit. It was green and showed what little cleavage I had. I went with my best friend and three boys in our junior high. I lost my top infront of them, and they all stared as my friend stumbled to cover me up again. One boy said “gross” and the other told everyone in my high school about my boobs. I didn’t wear a bathing suit again for eight years.
When I was 16, my uncle was sick. He had trouble walking down his stairs. My dad stayed up late at night to make new stairs for him. I said goodbye to him three days before he died. He was thin and I didn’t recognize him. I cried infront of his wife and my mother. The receiving line was weird, as I shook hands with people he had talked about my entire life. After the funeral, I got a Peanut Butter Parfait and I haven’t had one since.
When I was 17, a boy made me feel uncomfortable. I asked him to stop and he didn’t. It was the beginning of my battle with anxiety.
When I was 18, I graduated high school. I was valedictorian and I quoted Conan O’Brien three times in my speech. I was never nostalgic to go back.
Then I went to college, I met my friend Jocelyn. She tried to get me to stop sitting next to her but I didn’t pay attention. She laughed at all my jokes and never made me feel bad about not drinking alcohol and loving Jesus.
When I was 19, I transferred courses. I met my friend Lindsay. She was quiet. Then I met my friend Nicole. She wasn’t quiet. I told them I had anxiety, so did Nicole. I wasn’t alone and I felt better. We ate at Swiss Chalet a lot.
When I was 19, I told my parents I wanted a breast reduction. My doctor gasped when I told him “I don’t remember what my stomach looks like” and he said “those are a problem”. My grandmother told me I would have to repent because it was a sin to change my body. Under the influence of morphine, I tweeted Tom Hanks 20 times. He never tweeted back.
When I was 20, I fell inlove with someone who was very different than me. He had different friends and different ideas. I told him about my anxiety, and he loved me anyway. I forgot my name when I was being introduced to his brother, and my hands shook when I was nervous – he held them anyway.
Now I’m 21 and my hands still always shake a little and I stutter when my anxiety is bad. My dog crawls into bed with me every morning and it makes me happy. I have a best friend who bakes me cinnamon rolls when I’m sad. I wore a bikini for the first time this summer. I’ll have something new to write about when I’m twenty-two.
Explaining Jesus is never a problem for me, because it’s easy – Jesus is love. I love Love.
Explaining religion, specifically Christianity, isn’t as easy. To me religion has always been rules, dress codes, and people being praised for closed eyes and raised hands. Writing this blog post has been increasingly difficult as I battle to let go of the sour taste in my mouth Private Christian School has left and increasingly discover who Jesus is in contrast with what I was told religion was.
I was told Jesus didn’t like shoulders – so keep them covered. Leggings would make a man’s mind wander, so they didn’t count as pants. I was taught fear and respect were the same thing. I was taught the church looked like perfection, smiles and lunch afterwards. Literal awards for people who best displayed the character of Paul, John and Jesus. Pleasing your husband meant you couldn’t be a leader – principals and presidents should be men. I was taught a woman could be “damaged goods”. In all of my time in school, nobody ever taught me who Jesus was. I only ever learned what Christianity was.
Jesus is love. He’s equal parts justice and patience. He is compassionate and giving. He is every character equally. But the name of Jesus can be interchanged with the word “love”. Jesus is love.
I don’t like to align with denomination or Christian religion, because it was through religion I discovered depression and what it felt like to be at my lowest point. It was when I was quickly asked “what was I wearing?” instead of being told “this was wrong and I will protect you”. It was by religion I was laughed at. It was by religion I slept all the time and it was by religion I got lost. It was religion that sat with me in an office and told me coldly I should move on.
It was by love I found out how to get out of that depression. It was by love I learned how to love myself again. It was by love I show my shoulders and it is by love that I laughed again.
As someone who was broken by religion, but saved through Love I want to extend all of my positive vibes to people who were the same as me. People who were laughed at, people who were forgotten about and people hurt by religion – Love will find you. Whether that’s in kisses, or the ocean or something else. Love finds you.
Don’t give up yet. Do what you need to do but don’t give up. And just love everyone until eventually love loves you back.
*To clarify, not everything that came out of the school was negative. I met my best friend there, I found my passion for English and writing, and I experienced Jesus’ love through many different students and teachers. I had the best foundation from kindergarten to grade six and although I do struggle with it and disassociate myself from it, there is always beauty in the broken – which extends mostly to people, but also to schools.
My grandmother is 80, active on twitter and Facebook, and has been known to try and set me up with strangers online.
Worried that her (yet young) granddaughter wouldn’t find love, Nanny Elly took the problem into her own hands. So, if you were a male on Facebook circa 2013 who looked like you might not murder me (the only requirement), please disregard any notes you got from a lady desperately trying to find her granddaughter a little friend.
This boy was a lobster fisherman, so she thought he was a great catch (you know, money). After many failed attempts on her part, we asked that she stop messaging boys on Facebook solely based off of their profile picture and the fact they are from Montague.
My grandmother taught me a number of important life lessons like “just because you’re poor doesn’t mean you have to look it” and “if your legs look that good, wear short shorts”. The most important lesson is probably “there’s always coupons for KFC if you look hard enough”.
Nevertheless, as Valentine’s Day approaches I made a list of qualities your someone should have, when you find that person. Because you shouldn’t just date the first guy (or girl) your grandmother messages randomly, unless you want to – then you maybe still shouldn’t, but you can.
Date someone who laughs at your jokes. Maybe you’re not as funny as you think you are, but if they don’t laugh at your jokes on the first date they won’t laugh on the second. And when you tell their family, at your first family barbecue, that you are only dating him for his money – he will laugh. Nobody else will, which is painfully awkward for you.
For the love of God, Jenny, STOP TELLING THAT JOKE.
Date someone when you love yourself. Loving yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Someday someone will come along that doesn’t mind you don’t have a thigh gap or that your forehead is too big for bangs – it’s important that those things don’t bother you either. Learning to love yourself may be the hardest thing you have ever done, but I promise it is worth it.
Date someone who is different than you. If they spend their Friday nights blogging while streaming FRIENDS just like you, you would never have gone to that concert you still don’t understand. (Good for you, getting out of the house and doing things.)
Date whoever you want. If they make you better and you love them, that’s all the requirements you need. If they make you laugh and don’t get mad at you when you make them leave the movie an hour in, you should date them. You’re smart, trust yourself.
If it all fails, come visit my grandmother who will tell you straight up if she thinks it will work out for you. And if you’re ready to mingle, she would probably look up singles in your area for you.
And remember – if this person doesn’t work out, there’s always another bus coming down the line.
Follow my Nanny Elly on Twitter: @
Yes, all tweets are 100% her.
I was a dairy bar scooper for four years, my sister scooped for seven. A combined 11 years of scooping ice creams makes us experts as well as a force to be reckoned with when you want to argue what the difference is between Udderly Divine and Hoof Prints. (Hint: one has peanut better, the other does not.)
I shoveled goat poop from the parking lot, scrubbed the floors with a literal toothbrush, and watched as your kid wiped their snot across my recently Pledged glass.
I continually swatted the flies away from the chocolate fudge and picked out the bubble gum pieces from your kids ice cream because they absolutely wanted blue ice cream but couldn’t eat the chunks. I watched as your son cried because you wouldn’t buy him the .30 waffle cone, and I watched as you screamed at your daughter for spilling her ice cream on the floor. I cleaned it up, gave her a new cone, and told her spills were no big deal. I even added some sprinkles.
I watched your first date go horribly wrong as he got diarrhea in the bathroom and you had to call your best friend to pick you up. I made sure the right kinds of G2 were stocked on Friday nights for your mix. I wore a hairnet every day, even when the entire baseball team came in.
On the hottest days of summer, I came in an hour early to fix the soft serve machine so you could have a flurry on your way back from the beach. When you told your kids to get out of the house, I let them hang around and I dug into my tip jar to pay for the bag of chips they didn’t have enough quarters for. I even let them park their dirt bikes in the loading lane, and gave them ice chips before they drove home.
I asked how your soccer practices went, I kept track of your wins and losses and I still hold resentment toward that kid who tripped you during the playoff game. When I found out you had a health scare, I googled your name every day of the off season just to make sure you were okay and that I could still look forward to seeing you on opening day the next year.
Every summer you would come up from the southern States and buy 3 lbs of fudge –it was always assorted flavours, it always took a minimum of 45 minutes and you always left a $5 tip. Your name was Mongo and I would love to know what you’re up to now.
I have so many fond memories of regular customers and the lessons they taught me. I learned that sprinkles are called “millions” in England, that older people love Grapenut because it was one of the cool flavours when they were kids, and that there are truly kind people out there who will change their order because you’re struggling to scoop that rock-hard peanut butter fudge crunch into their cone.
Sometimes I see you around town and I still remember what flavours were your favourite and that you preferred it in a dish with the cone placed on top. I smile and wave and am reminded that for a few summers I got to be a part of your life, even if just in a miniscule way.
Years later, I see you tugging your dad’s jacket and saying, “I think that’s the ice cream lady.”
It’s funny how these wonderful memories are so easily overshadowed by the bad ones. There were nights that I went home crying because you yelled at me. There were times I was too embarrassed to function because you questioned my capabilities. There were times that I wondered how anyone could possibly be as mean as you had just been to me.
Stop trying to smuggle the plants home in your dress and putting your own hair in the ice cream for a free cone.
Please remember that the girl behind the counter is seventeen and is (basically) running a small business. She is probably underappreciated – her boss has no interest in knowing that she worked from open to close because someone didn’t show up for their shift or that she’s gotten so good at scooping ice cream that customers request her by name.
When you feel like throwing your ice cream on the ground because you think it was too expensive or you ask to complain to the boss because the employee forgot to stamp your loyalty card, please remember that she is working a minimum wage job and she is on hour 7 of non-stop smiling.
She’s seventeen. She’s wearing a hair net and an unflattering t-shirt and she’s working for the 10 cent tip you left.
This is her summer, every summer. Next time you think about yelling at that customer service kid – think about minimum wage and hot summers and goat poop. Maybe drop a nickel in the tip jar.
Also, stop feeding the goats ice cream.
Follow Alyssa on twitter: @