Heather L. Barmore
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Heather L. Barmore
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Heather Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices

    Thursday
    Jun052014

    This is the week that never ends

    "Life never tires of testing the proposition that life must go on."~Robert Brault

    Everyday someone asks how I’m doing. They say it gently as if I am sitting on their couch and at the end I will offer up the standard $125 for an hour of their time. There is a gentle touch of my arm because it will be OK. Every time I say, “I’M FINE! REALLY!” with over-exuberance not because it is a front but because I am fine. Really. Last week I saw a friend and his first thought was, “You look so…GREAT” and I am genuinely great as i embark on a new phase of my life.

    All that to say that his week I have had it up to here with life (just imagine my hand about a foot above my head right now). By Wednesday I was like, EFF THIS NOISE. And then I tried to find a five year old who might want to trade places. Dear parents of the world: I will gladly take a nap and eat all of my green beans and go to bed even though it’s still light out. ADOPT ME.

    My friend Roo does a weekly series called, “This is How I feel”. Yesterday I was like, ‘Yo, Roo. Let me holler at you. I’m going to borrow your series just this week because the insanity of the last five days can only be explained via GIFs” and she was like, “Go for it!”. So, here goes. I promise it will not be nearly as funny as anything Roo does because I am not funny but at least you will have a visual depiction of the ups and downs of my week:

    The week started off fine enough. I love my friends and I want to wrap them up in a giant hug and I love them. Love. How many times can I fit love in a sentence?



    But then I was distracted from the love-fest because Internet Drama.



    And then the Internet Drama continued and I was like, for real?



    In the middle of all of this I wrote about something very difficult: my fear of butter.



    And everyone was like THIS IS SO GREAT. And I'm all, YOU LIKE ME! YOU REALLY LIKE ME!



    And then I was like, I should write! Duh!


    But, uh, there is no money in writing.



    On Wednesday I hit the Wall of Can't. What if I am never successful? What if I cannot do what I feel I am called to do which is to help people be better advocates for themselves and their families. More importantly; WHAT IF I LIVE WITH MY MOTHER FOREVER?


    Then it was all HELLOOOOO Klonopoin! Benzos make everything better. Don't judge me.

     Then it was like, enough with the crying and back to the hustle.

     

    I still love my friends and I'm glad that they haven't blocked me or unfriended me or told me to get my shit together. They are far more confident in me and my talents than I am in myself.

     

     

    And now it's (almost) the weekend. Can I get an AMEN?

     

    I'll be sure to make it a good one.

    (Many, many thanks to Reality TV Gifs for making it possible for me to express my feelings)

    Tuesday
    Jun032014

    There's Something About Butter

    (Originally posted at Tue/Night)

    "You don't have to suffer to be a poet. Adolescence is enough suffering for anyone."~John Ciardi

    Since spending six months abroad in Madrid, I often follow the Spanish method of enjoying breakfast. Instead of scrambled eggs and bacon, I dive right into thinly sliced jamón Ibérico on freshly toasted bread and chunks of cheese. I continue to fall hard for manchego, large croissants slathered with butter and a dollop of a fruity jam. It brings memories of a host mother who spoke very little English but knew food to be the universal language.


    “Quieres un sandwich, Heather?” she asked as I rushed to get out the door. I would take her up on the offer of tortilla Española on soft bread. She put butter on that, too, and offered it up with a grin.


    ***
    I share this anecdote as a way to show you how far I’ve come. You see, I used to be afraid of butter. Being asked whether or not I would like butter for a roll, or on mashed potatoes, caused a panic. I would hear the word “butter” and my chest would tighten. My face would become hot from the shame. I literally could not hear the word without tears springing to my eyes.


    From middle school to high school I was called “Butter.” Rumor has it that this was due to me being too fat to fit through a door and butter would be required to maneuver my sizable 12-year-old ass thorough such a narrow space. In case you’ve forgotten, in middle school and high school a sense of popularity is paramount. Never mind good grades; if that cute boy with the side swept hair knows who you are, even if it’s as the result of some cruel joke, well then, so be it. I laughed along and smiled when hearing them — the popular kids — bellow: “HEY! BUTTER!” from the top of the stairs. They liked me, is what I would tell myself. They know who I am.


    At one point I was gifted a hat with the word “butter” embroidered on it. The lettering was yellow and “b” and both “ts” had a dripping effect. I put it on and thanked the giver for a present. See? I was important. I was cool. I found out later that he had spit in it.
     
    From my experience, many friends and family who have deep aversions to a particular food can trace that aversion back to a moment in time. My now 28-year-old little brother spent our childhood hiding green beans throughout the house. Each day was a scavenger hunt to find the green vegetables. It turned out that he was force-fed them in daycare. My mother doesn’t do mayonnaise and has to avert her eyes when making her stellar potato salad — she too had been forced to consume the condiment at some point.


    “Tell me if I’m using enough,” she’ll ask with her head cocked back and turned to the side. She holds her breath.


    “Just look at it!” I demand. Some 50 years later she prays silently before placing a jar of Hellmann’s into her grocery cart.


    ***
    “Mortification due to dairy product” isn’t found in the DSM V. In fact, this is the first time I have given much thought to the very real cruelty of adolescence. Like many young women, my feelings about food were complicated, only to be exacerbated by school yard taunts under the guise of making me feel included. Which leads me to this moment, discussing my tenuous relationship with butter. There isn’t a moment where you sit down in front of your therapist to get to the root of why you cannot handle the sight of Land O’ Lakes. Much like anything from the tween to teen years, there is the fight or flight response. The ‘flight’ came in the form of moving to D.C., five states away from my little town in New York, the day after graduation. I vowed never to return (however thanks to a job offer I found myself returning to New York. That didn’t work out either, though, which leads me to believe that perhaps I should just stay away… but I digress) and to never feel that way again.


    After high school I briefly wondered if others — random strangers standing next to me at the grocery store — knew what I had been called. Did my discomfort show on my face as I stood in the dairy section? Did I show fear when trying to remember if a recipe called for salted or unsalted? Probably not. I soon realized that my move to a new place granted me a new a sense of perspective: I guess it was “Out of sight, out of mind.” Those who inflicted pain upon me were nowhere near by. Thankfully, there was no Facebook to force constant reminders of the past. More importantly, my move allowed me to be something new — someone new — other than Butter. Sure, I would still hear that word under the most innocuous of circumstances and I still felt a twinge of humiliation. But slowly the consuming humiliation dissipated as I learned to make my way around Capitol Hill and Georgetown and fell into a routine with new peers who knew nothing of my past as they became my Butter-free present.


    I’m not gonna lie. I still had an ass on me, but in the “Chocolate City” that was a commodity. The secret was to wall off my middle to high school years. Confessing much of this now feels like I am telling someone else’s story.


    ***
    I walk up to the counter of a local movie theater. It’s one of those art house places with an old-time popcorn machine. They use locally-sourced products which means that when the woman at the counter asks if I want butter — possibly made from the milk of cows just a mile away — for my popcorn I have to reply with, “Yes. Please. Extra butter.” It’s the fresh, creamy kind. I pat myself on the back for being able to enjoy the simplest of life’s pleasures. Oh, if she only knew how far I’ve come.

    Wednesday
    May142014

    On Being the Childless Friend

    Photo by Yvonne. Baby by Heather Spohr.Would you like to know why I don't have children? Because kids are work. There are plenty of other reasons such as preparedness and that I can barely get myself up and out of the door each morning, let alone another human being. Then there's the whole permanent nature of children and, oh yeah, they are people. People with needs and feelings which leads me back to, that looks like work! I'd rather just sit here and watch this terrible movie that I have seen 900 times and drink this wine. Enjoy dealing with another person's bodily fluids!

    Somewhere along the line I wound up with a life full of friends who have children. Many had these children prior to my entry into their lives others had a kid and then had another after I came into the picture. At any rate, I have gotten used to having my conversation interrupted. I shrug because hey, kids. I don't have any but from what I understand, taping their mouths shut is not an option.

    You would think that with my very, very, VERY, single status I would see people with children and run for the hills which cannot be further from the truth. Here's a fun fact my life without kids: Just because I might not have any doesn't mean that I hate every child I will ever meet. In fact, I really enjoy children. They are - for the most part - fun, hilarious, precocious, unpredictable. Children are all of the above and more but I don't have them. This doesn't make me more or less it simply is.

    Somehow, even without having children, I have managed to grasp the concept of life and that people will follow their own paths. I have never felt the need to begrudge another for their experiences or life choices and by the grace of God, I am surrounded by people who live the same. There's gossip and judgment and major side-eyeing at times but the general rule I follow for myself and I hope that others in my life follow as well is this; you do you.

    Every once in awhile a post will pop up just to remind those of us without kids how nfulfilled our lives are. Childless people cannot possibly understand the concept of love (or any human emotion). We have never really been tired. We don't know what busy really is, etc. etc. Today I came across a post on Huffington Post about the inability for those with children to have friends who do not have children simply because the latter group has no understanding of the havoc wreaked upon the lives of those who choose to procreate.

    Crap like this makes me so annoyed. More annoyed than it should since it's a post on a blog from a woman I have little to no interest in. Not only that but I often take the click bait and the writer reels me into their bullshit of an argument. I always feel the need to defend my relationships with my friends ("MY friends aren't assholes, your's probably are if they are anything like you", is what I told myself today) and to validate my life without children. All because of a sickness called, I Saw This on the Internet.  

    The true story of being the childless friend is that it is like any other relationship between two people: It requires work. I do not feel as if these relationships are extra hard. Friendship can be difficult but if it is something which is important to me then I will put in the effort to ensure its success. Why is this so difficult to grasp? That two people, in different phases of life can, in fact, learn from one another? Why must it always be all or nothing, hyperbolic bullshit about how HARD everything is? It's life. Life is difficult. Having children is difficult. We're all just going through the motions and each day, trying not to fuck things up for ourselves or for future generations. When one says that their time and/or life has more value than mine simply because I do not have children it makes me irate. Yes, it also makes me think of that person as an asshole. As my friend Em said, you were probably an asshole before you had kids and now you're just an asshole with children. And THAT is why your friends (both with and without children) don't hang out with you.

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