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Thoughts on the End of 2016

31 Dec

Last night I saw the new Mike Mills film 20th Century Women, starring Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig, and Elle Fanning.  At one point in the film, Fanning’s character remarks that she believes the best quality a person can possess is strength.  Looking back on the last few years of my life, I can easily say that strength is what has brought me to the present day.  A few years ago, I moved to LA after the death of my boyfriend Dave.  I was thoroughly depressed and lost.  I was unsure of what the future held.  Things got even worse for me when I entered an abusive relationship, the worst details of which I have never shared with another soul.  Fast forward to the end of 2015, after breaking free of those horrifying bonds.  It look me a few more months to completely rid my mind of the negative thinking associated with being in such an insidious situation, complete with emotional and verbal abuse.

In the year that has followed, it has been my strength that has truly emerged as my most valuable quality.  It was strength that allowed me to move forward when I lost my best friend to death; it was strength that pushed me to find freedom from someone who had broken me; it was strength that allowed me to forge a new life in Los Angeles.  Strength is what propels me forward; we can all be more strong.  In the upcoming year, we will have to be.

2016 was a great year for me.  I accomplished many things in stand up, including performing in my first major festival and making my debut on Roast Battle, which lead to other amazing opportunities.  I feel my growth not only as a comic, but as a woman.  At the age of 27, I think I really began to feel like a real woman.  I became someone who had seen things, felt pain, known heartbreak, felt despair.  Throughout my life (beginnging in childhood I’ve been pushed down by others, insulted for things outside of my control, and hurt.  But I can say that I always get up again.  I will keep doing the same thing in the future.  Strength is the most important quality of all.

As I head into 2017 and my 30th year, I have a great life.  I have family and friends who love me. a great job that provides for me, a blossoming career in stand up, and I’m dating someone who treats me with total respect.  A lot can change in a year.  Have faith that it will if you are in a low place.  Get back up and keep moving.  Be strong.  Blessings in 2017 and beyond.

H

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Tim Molloy Reminds Me of My Father, and for That He Should Apologize

12 Jan

Lena Dunham. Photo by Terry Richardson.

I was about ten or eleven years old when my father said what is probably one of few things I remember him saying to me during my childhood.  I was sitting at the family computer, presumably working on my homework, when he came up to me, poked me in my stomach, and said, “you gotta lose that.”  This moment emblazoned itself into the back of my mind many years ago, and at any time I experience an insecurity about my body, I trace it back to this one defining moment.

I am sure that my father thought he was being helpful.  However, what he said in that moment has become the topic of $100 per hour therapy sessions, problems in my intimate relationships with men, and the lingering thought in the back of my head that no one will ever love me because of my stomach paunch.  If anything, this is one of the moments that further caused a lack of bonding between myself and my father, someone whom I speak to on a semi-regular basis due to his living thousands of miles away from where I am now.

There’s nothing more annoying than someone who feels the need to give you their opinion in regard to your body or the bodies of others, especially when it is unsolicited.  This appears to be something done primarily by men, but women are guilty as well.  Unless someone asks your opinion, the topic of their body should be completely verboten.

When Tim Molloy of The Wrap asked a question at a panel  at the Television Critics Association including Judd Apatow and Lena Dunham, the creators of the HBO show Girls, he attempted to breach the subject of the nudity of Lena Dunham’s character, Hannah Horvath.  Here’s what Tim had to say for himself:

I don’t get the purpose of all of the nudity on the show, by you particularly, and I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about the nudity on ‘Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they are doing it… They are doing it to be salacious and, you know, titillate people. And your character is often naked just at random times for no reason.

Yikes, where to begin.  It is obvious that Molloy’s statement is ultimately irrelevant, especially when Girls is entering a third season and enough backlash regarding Lena Dunham’s choice to appear nude in her own television show already unfolded in the last two years.  Additionally, Molloy is speaking directly about Dunham in particular, and not about any other actors appearing on the show.  His comments are meant to be a direct attack on a woman whose body is not considered perfect in the traditional sense.  And god forbid that such a woman be depicted nude in any manner.

Despite Molloy’s rude comment, Dunham’s response was rather diplomatic:

Yeah. It’s because it’s a realistic expression of what it’s like to be alive, I think, and I totally get it. If you are not into me, that’s your problem.

Dunham is aware of what she looks like and that she is not, nor will she ever be, a skinny Hollywood actress type.  I feel that Molloy’s question was nothing but clearcut trolling.  He knew the type of reaction that his question would garner and he obviously has little to no respect for Dunham.  Molloy’s opinion on Dunham’s body, and whether or not he wants to see it, is something he should keep to himself.  Judd Apatow reportedly later spoke with Molloy privately, letting him know that the “tenor” of his question was inappropriate, and ultimately, misogynistic.

Let’s be honest.  A lot of men should feel grateful that they are getting any sex at all.  There are countless men who feel they are entitled to be with models or women who look like models, but they are not pictures of Adonis themselves.  This hypocrisy leads to many imbalanced relationships and countless incidences of emotional and mental abuse. People also ultimately lose sight of what are important qualities in partners, such as emotional support, RESPECT, and a general sense of kindness and love.

When it comes down to it, the best method of broaching the subject of another human being’s body is to not broach the subject at all.  If someone is remotely overweight, they are completely aware.  The same goes for those who are underweight, or men who are frequenting the gym to build up their pecs and arms.  Everyone stands in front of the mirror and KNOWS what they look like.  This is not a mystery to anyone, so keep it to yourself.

Many people comment on how confident I appear in myself and with my body, but every so often my mind returns to those moments in which I was made to feel less than perfect, less than deserving.  Even the most confident of people have small insecurities, and the only logical thing is to try to be a better human and not hack open old wounds.

Things I Almost Tattooed On My Body (Thankfully I Did Not)

8 Jan

Ah, youth. The sweet sting of broken hearts and the beginnings of alcoholism. Living it up while you’re young (see, YOLO) is a major part of American society, as is making the commitment to allow another human being stab permanent markings into your skin with a sharp needle. Tattoos are fun and by god, they will help you show off your awesome personality and the things you loved, even for a moment in the turning gears of time.

There are several tattoos I’ve considered in my short lifetime, and all of them were really stupid ideas. Here, a list of the things I almost allowed a stranger to stab onto my body in permanent ink:

1. Drama Masks

Photo from DeviantArt.com

Uh-oh. This girl was not so lucky.

When I was in high school I was extremely involved in theater.  While I still love theater, my former favorite activity has taken a backseat to my goal of writing for film and television.  It’s a good thing I did not get this tattooed on my body not only for my personal interests changing, but also this is the kind of tattoo that can really frighten someone when they see you naked for the first time. I mean, what is up with the sad face? It looks like a Dali painting gone wrong.

2. Flower near my crotch

I used to think it would be kickass to have a tattoo of a flower right above, well, my flower. This was a dumb idea and it also did not come to fruition.

3. Lady Gaga lyrics

I went through a pretty serious though brief Lady Gaga obsession a couple of years ago.  It was around the time that Gaga released the song “Bad Romance” off of The Fame Monster. The lyrics in question? “I’m a freak bitch, baby”.  Why did I think this was so awesome? I though it would look pretty cool placed on my left hip wrapping around the area where my underwear would hit.  That way guys would see it and feel super lucky to be with a “freak bitch”. Seriously.  This was a rough time in my life and I would prefer if you withheld all judgment.

4. A Colorado flag

Photo from Westword.

What does this even mean? When did the great flag of Colorado take a beating?

I grew up in colorado and although it is an amazing place full of natural beauty and old friends, I really hate it here now. I do not want anything associated with this place on my body. Thanks but no thanks. I doubt the flag of the Centennial State would have held its shape if I lived for a century.

5. “Shhh…” on my index finger

OMG Rihanna, we get it.

Sometime in 2008 or so a few celebrity ladies started getting “Shhh…” tattooed on their index fingers.  Rihanna was one of them. Lily Allen was another one. It was stupid and I have no idea why I thought this would have been a good idea.  Young people are silly.

6. John Mayer tribute tattoo.

John. John!!! Why are you so weird and have to say weird dumb things in magazines that make people hate you? why can’t we go back to those wonderful and simple times where I cried myself to sleep listening to “Room for Squares” and dreamt of marrying Leonardo DiCaprio (the Gangs of New York version, specifically)? I really wanted to tattoo one of your album logos on myself. Let’s go back to being a musical genius. Yes?

And that was a brief overview of the things I almost tattooed on my body. Let’s take a moment of silence to reflect on those who were not so lucky and chose to memorialize their love for things like Limp Bizkit and tootsie rolls in the form of tattoos. Those people deserve our sympathy.

Attempting the 30 Day Shred

20 Jun

Hey there, American fatty. Having trouble buttoning your pants because you are too busy holding a Nestle Drumstick on one hand and a tub of KFC in the other? How about working out? What’s that? You don’t have enough time because you have to work three shitty jobs just to be able to afford your Nestle Drumsticks and KFC?

Americans are fat. Let’s face it. Soon we will all be wearing government-issued spandex pants and be forced to live off of only high fructose corn syrup (or “corn sugar,” as the government is trying to call it) while we are forced to labor in office chairs all day long.

For one month I will be surrendering my spandex pants, drumsticks and KFC for a little thing I like to call Jillian Michaels’s 30 Day Shred. If you are not familiar with Jillian Michaels, she used to be the trainer on NBC’s The Biggest Loser who always had contests pull her across rooms using their animal strength. She is scary. She yells. And she employs what she calls the “3-2-1” system, which uses 3 minutes of strength, 2 minutes of cardio, and 1 minute of abs. It really is supposed to work, and for 30 days, I will test it out.  I will post again at the end of 30 days to report on my progress. Wish me luck. I’m off to eat my last drumstick.

Bad Days and Bad Blood: Why We Need to be Nice to One Another

20 Apr

What is it that makes human beings want to be cruel to one another? I recently experienced one of the worst days I’ve ever lived through in my recent memory. This was due to a combination of circumstances and coincidences that were beyond my control. However, I could not help but feel that perhaps these things happen for a reason, and allow us to view life from the perspective of someone who only knows defeat. It is only from pain that one learns that treating others well is the ideal goal.

There are common misconceptions about myself that I feel precede any sort of impression I have the ability to make. People often perceive me as rude, self-absorbed, and rather aloof. In reality, these things are not far from the truth. However, I am perfectly capable of showing my kind side. The reasoning behind my “rude,” (and somewhat bitchy) exterior stems from a childhood marred by the cruel words and actions of others. I have been teased my entire life for a few things, the most prominent among them likely being my laugh and my extreme capability to experience real emotion (i.e., I’m a fucking cry-baby). So, naturally, as time passed, I was able to begin deflecting the words and actions of others by learning to retreat into my mind, where, very clearly, I was the best person around. My teen years allowed me to develop a sense of narcissism that became my comfort. Quite naturally, this defense mechanism manifests in the form of bitchiness. And I often do not understand why someone may be offended by things I say or my general demeanor, because I have trained myself to hide that I care.

The biggest problem that comes with this defense mechanism is an inability to convince others that I am being genuine. However, I feel that I am genuine in everything that I say and do, and I do not pander to others simply to make them feel good about their lives or what have you. I am unsure of where this is heading, but there is one more thing I wanted to touch on.

I suppose there is nothing I loathe more than someone who talks badly about people behind their backs. But, of course, we all do it and for whatever reason, we will all continue to do it. I recently heard that someone said something about me behind my back that is so unbelievably rude (and likely tinged with evil) that I cannot even begin to comprehend this person’s thought process and why they think it’s okay to act rude and mean simply because you want to look cool in front of your friends.

I simply wish that there would be some way to erase hate from the world, and to force people to be honest with one another when they need to be. Obviously this will never happen and we will all continue to live miserably in the shadows of the comments of others. Life sucks. Blah, blah, blah. I am a whiny artist. A whiny artist deserving of wonderful words and treatment. And so are you (minus the whiny artist bit).

I’m Better Than You: The Longterm Effects of Bullying

29 Apr

Typical high school bullies.

I remember being teased from a very young age. I think my earliest memories of being bullied are from kindergarten. The image of a slightly older girl, with long, light brown hair is surfacing in my mind. I don’t remember her name. What I do remember is that she made fun of my laugh. My laugh is my most mocked trait, closely followed by my above-average height. I’ve heard it all. I’ve heard that I sound like a donkey, that I cackle like a little old witch, that I rival Xena Warrior Princess, and I’ve been asked how the weather is “up there”. If we’ve met in person, I suppose you know what I’m talking about. I don’t get it, however, because I don’t notice. My laugh and my height are simply a part of me, things I never even think twice about.

The questions usually goes like this: “Why do you make that sound?” I don’t know. Why are you fat? See what I did there? We could all be mean and say the first things that come to mind when we meet someone new. However, when you are taught to be a kind person who does not judge others solely on traits that jump out first, you just may learn to judge people on their character. I have an extremely good judge of character, and I feel that this ability can be attributed to the constant teasing I endured as a young girl. I can quickly determine who has an ulterior motive to truly harm me, or who is simply poking fun because they love me.*

Anyway, kids first starting picking on me in kindergarten. I was always smarter than most kids my age. I’m not trying to sound self-important, but my point is that being smart is not considered cool. Especially by elementary school kids. If you’re a really smart kid, you’re bound to be bored by your peers and you’ll likely possess an imagination that rivals that of any Dungeons and Dragons master. I remember a spelling bee that took place in 3rd grade. A few kids had decided to sit out after making the point that “Heather will win.” I did win, on the word “apartment”. A great achievement, I know. My status as a nerd was forever ingrained at this moment. My nerdiness was a source of comfort for me – I would often spend my free time reading any book I could find and compiling lists of words of my choice for my weekly spelling tests. But did being smart get people to like me? Not at all. In fact, it probably did the opposite. The sneers I would get when I walked past certain kids led me to believe that my mind was somewhat of a curse.

8th grade was the worst year for me. A group of pubescent boys decided it would be fun to make my life hell by calling me the name of a particular animal that I will not mention. Their attacks were highly orchestrated, and somewhat creative. However, I would return home crying nearly every day, and my self-esteem, once strengthened by winning spelling bees and essay contests, plummeted. A 14-year-old girl has enough to worry about, and adding abusive peers to the equation did not bode well for me. I really don’t want to go into the dark details of the pain I struggled with, but what I will say is that at this point in my life, all I desired was to be accepted by my peers, and the difficulty I faced in overcoming the teasing I faced on a daily basis would continue to affect me at random periods in my life.

I skipped out on my confirmation classes in 9th grade because several of the kids in the class had bullied me before. This experience began my intellectual meanderings on the validity of organized religion. If these kids – who were studying the Bible and expected to follow its example – could act as horribly as they did toward me, then perhaps there was a bit of hypocrisy at work in organized religion. The memory of this has lent to my shaping my spiritual philosophy. I believe in the power of intention – whatever you put out will come back to you.

I know when I started thinking differently about myself. During my freshman year of high school, I got involved with theater. At first I was extremely shy with the older kids and often embarrassed when I would have to run lines in front of them. But it got better. I chose to join drama club, and I became involved with theater on a full-time basis. By my senior year of high school, I was a second year president of drama club and my high school’s thespian troupe. Theater gave me a chance to explore the feelings I had repressed – all the anger, resentment, and sadness I had held in for so long became useful when I was playing a character. I also developed a friendship with my high school theater teacher that has lasted well into my early twenties. Miss P became my confidant, my free personal therapist. I think I ate lunch in her office 90% of the time, and this was for a couple of reasons. First, I just enjoyed talking to Miss P and learning more about all the exciting adult things she knew, and second, my fear of school cafeterias was very much ingrained within me. (I remember those times when I couldn’t decide where to sit, and having to eat lunch alone.)

If you’ve been bullied in the past, the feelings of sadness that follow you will sometimes resurface at inopportune moments. I remember a period a few years ago during which a very close friend had decided she no longer wanted to be friends, and I had the comfort of a boyfriend to help me with the pain I was going through. I was receding to thoughts of 8th grade, of utter and complete rejection. However, my ex-boyfriend completely failed to understand why I dwelled on such events. He didn’t get it because he was voted homecoming king and was on the football team. You know, he was one of the types that does the bullying. I tried to explain how it really felt, but he often would tell me “to get over it”. If it were that simple, I would certainly do that, but it’s not. You must understand that when someone is bullied for an extended period, a few assumptions form in their head. You end up expecting everyone will hate you, that you are unworthy of respect or kindness. When you are the victim of a bully, you expect rejection from nearly everyone you meet. Today I am a very social person, but that did not come without years of struggling to overcome the feelings of worthlessness I once felt when I met someone new.

I think that for someone who has experienced bullying, the most important thing to realize is that you are the person who matters most. Spending time alone is not something you should avoid, but embrace. It is not until you know yourself, and love yourself, that you can live free from the pain that others can cause. I’m still unsure of why people bully others – is it insecurity? A lack of self-love? It doesn’t really matter, but what does matter is your happiness. I believe that if you form strong personal convictions and if you fight for what you believe in (love, women’s rights, etc.), happiness will automatically come from this strength.

If you are still struggling with the long-term effects of being bullied, you are definitely not alone. Hell, I still get comments about my laugh and my height. Every time I go out to a bar or club, I guarantee you that someone (most typically a man, because when they see a tall woman they feel that the glory of their penis is threatened) will comment on my height. The difference between now and then is that I’ve embraced my height, and I consider it one of the greatest things about me. I wouldn’t trade being tall for anything – I think it’s both extremely sexy and practical. As for my laugh, it’s a unique thing that adds to my character. I wouldn’t be Heather without it.

*I’m talking to you, Matt and Jake. I love you both, too.

Men Leave. But if They Don’t, They Still Die: The Lady Gaga Edition

2 Mar

Jezebel posted one of the most relevant and interesting quotes I’ve read in a very long time:

“Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.”

All Hail Lady Gaga

This quote is from my current personal heroine, Lady Gaga. Gaga is touching on a subject that has an overt pertinence to my personal life. What I’ve recently realized is that no man (again, NO MAN) is worth compromising one’s own longterm career goals and/or emotional well-being. I am at an age at which many young women choose to marry and start families. There is nothing wrong with this if you are secure in such a decision, but countless young women have the potential to end up trapped in a situation that may be unlike one they hoped for. Dreams of domesticity are not always fulfilled in a healthful, loving way. One woman’s dream of raising a family could be comparable to another woman’s dream of becoming a published author, lawyer, or doctor. In any case, all women must put their mental and spiritual well-being first.

I am completely aware that I am not only too much of a child myself to even think of being married and having kids, but I am also much too involved in furthering my career. It took the recent and unwelcome ending of a longterm relationship to help me realize what my priorities should be. I gave this person my total commitment and love and they chose to give up on our relationship at a critical time during which I needed their support. He said and did some truly hurtful things, without reason or explanation. Predictably, the most hurtful thing he said was that he didn’t love me anymore. I cannot fathom suddenly changing one’s mind about such deep feelings and then having the nerve to throw something so painful in another person’s face. This person repeatedly told me, “your goals are unrealistic” and that “nothing ever materializes” (in reference to my writing). We’ll see about all of that, but I think I’m doing very well for myself now. Once the person you are with begins lambasting your hopes and dreams, your relationship is doomed.

Here’s what every young woman should know: do not drop out of school or move across the country to follow the whims of a random douchebag man. Eventually, when you find happiness with yourself, the right person for you will appear. And you won’t feel the need to drop everything. The ideal is to find someone who will support your pursuing whatever career you wish, wherever it may take you.

A career is your life’s work: it is not your job at the Sunglass Hut or any 9 to 5 in a fluorescent-lit office that pays the bills. You can find a man on any street corner, in any city, in any corner of the world. The trick is to find the right one.  He’s out there, but in the meantime, get your hustle on.

Learn Something New Today: Diastema

30 Jan

Lara Stone and her sexy diastema

The term diastema refers to the gap that is often present between an individual’s two front teeth. What most people fail to recognize is that a diastema is not “fixable” with braces. In order to close the gap between two front teeth, one must undergo surgery to cut away a piece of muscle that causes the teeth to be pushed apart. This is just too much effort. It is much more productive to admire your diastema in the mirror for a while and then call it a day.

I have a diastema, and I feel that it is one of the sexiest things anyone can have. I know what you may be thinking: “Is she crazy?”, “She must be afraid of dentists,” “Hillbilly!” I am sure that there must be a time when I did not like the space between my two front teeth, but I remember reading an article around the age of 13 that discussed how a person with a diastema is often a highly sexual being. This must have made me feel very grown up – I have no comment on whether this is true about myself. It should also be noted that Geoffrey Chaucer may have started this theory in Canterbury Tales when he described the “gap-toothed wife of Bath” – who also happened to be a very lustful woman. My gap adds character to my face – I would likely look like a completely different person if I were to close it. I also have professional reasons for not wanting to close my gap. I cannot stand perfect teeth on actors. If an actor is playing the role of an indigent, or a single mother of six, or a blue-collar worker fighting for labor rights, why the hell should they have perfect teeth? I have heard more than one acting teacher tell their students to never fix their teeth. You can bleach them if you want, and if your mouth isn’t full of rotting stumps, you’re likely good to go.

My biggest pet peeve is when others criticize you for things that you either A) cannot change or B) are unwilling to change about your physical appearance. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked why I didn’t want to close the gaps in my teeth, I would have enough money for Invisalign. But I would take that money and go on vacation instead. Other people’s teeth are none of our damn business. I hate how people are always commenting on Jewel’s teeth, when really, she one has one abnormal tooth. I find it empowering that she hasn’t succumbed to the wave of tooth perfection fetishism that has swept the country.

A gap between your two front teeth is so unbelievably sexy – when I think of a proper diastema, I think of Lauren Hutton, America’s first supermodel (Janice Dickinson was really not the first supermodel). Hutton has a stunning, impalpable beauty, yet she has a gap between her teeth. Yesterday, Jezebel posted a piece that stated because of the popularity of Anna Paquin and Lara Stone, women are asking to have the gap in their teeth recreated. If someone had told these women how cute their gap was in the first place, they wouldn’t have to spend thousands to get something they were born with!

Other celebrities rocking the diastema: Jorja Fox, Kate Moss, Sandra Bernhard, Prince Harry, Jennifer Hudson, Vanessa Paradis, Laurence Fishburne, Condoleeza Rice, Elton John, David Letterman, Bill Paxton, Laura San Giacomo, Paul Scheer, Maya Angelou, and Madonna (whose gap seems to have closed up – say it isn’t so, your Madgesty!).

If you have a diastema, take a look in the mirror and tell yourself, “I’m sexy.” Because you are, damnit! And never let anyone try to tell you otherwise. If they do, they’re nothing but a jealous lemming.