Slitherin to You

One thing I love about my seemingly permanent spinsterhood is the fact that I can throw myself head-first, completely into my fandoms. The fact that I’m single doesn’t keep me from being in love. Quite the contrary. I am whole heartedly, irrevocably in love with several people. Trouble is, each of these people happen to be fictional. One of my pet fictional crushes is everyone’s favorite brooding potions instructor, Professor Snape.

This love for Snape is something that I used to be ashamed of. I used to hide my love under the proverbial bushel, but no more, I tell you! I have one friend in particular from Second Life that I used to discuss our hidden loves with our “Snapie Poo” with. (Yes, I have a Second Life. Don’t hate me, ’cause you ain’t me.) She was the only one that understood. I simply wanted to share some of our Snape conversations. That is all.

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This May Be One of the Hardest Posts I’ll Write

Okay, I really want all of my dear readers to watch this video. I also want to say that in this, I’m not saying that I’m “coming out of my closet” in terms of being a homosexual. (So, Mama, you can calm your heart attack.) I watched this video for the first time about two months ago, and when I did I cried. It hit very close to home for me. No, I’ve never had to struggle with coming out of the “gay closet” they way that several of my close friends have, but I have definitely been hiding in my own closet for a long time now.
I’ve mentioned several times that I’ve stopped going to church on here before. I realize that. This is the only public medium on which I’ve been comfortable talking about this transition period, at least to some extent. Whenever I first mentioned the fact that I wanted to take a break from my religion and just be “normal” for a bit, I found that the friends that I was most comfortable talking about this with were one of my gay friends and a fellow “fag hag” friend of mine. After talking about this with them at length, much of the time tearfully, telling them how terrified these feelings made me because I knew that quitting would guarantee my being shunned by not only many of the friends I grew up with, but I was afraid by most of my own family, my friend Catie simply said that it sounded like the fears most of our gay friends had before they came out. This comparison was so accurate it floored me. I was facing having to tell everyone that I love that I wanted to live a lifestyle different than the one that I had been raised to live. I was saying that the person that I want to be is someone that so many people that I care about will disapprove of.
I made a huge step over the past two weeks in “coming out”. I had my hair cut on New Year’s Eve. I know that for most people this sounds like something so trivial, but for me it was a huge step, one that I can’t just take back. This was the first time it had been cut in eighteen years, since we started the church when I was a little girl. I also wore pants to work for the first time. I’ve never worn them in my town before. Leaving the house in them scared me to death. I was so worried about what people would think. What they would say… Who they would tell.
This has been a very long, drawn out process for me. It has been so far from easy. The thing that I was so afraid of has happened. I’ve lost people, people that I care about very much. I know that many relationships that I have had so much faith in have been irreparably damaged. This is something that has become easier for me over the past year, though. Yes, these people have left an aching hole in me, but I genuinely love who I am. I do. The one person that has made this the most difficult is my younger brother. We’ve always been close, my brother and I. I’ve always considered him one of my very best friends in the world, without question.
The changes that the past couple of years have brought on not only our family unit as a whole, but on us as people has been devastating on all of us. We just handle this hurt differently. I know that he vehemently hates the changes in me that he knows about so far, and that kills me. He is the type of person that feels responsible for so much more than he should, and he often feels the need to fix others, keep us “in line”, so to speak. To him, fixing me means returning me to the person that I’ve always been. He’s told me countless times that I need to return to the church, to be like I was before. He tells me that the reason that I’m depressed, unhappy, listless, etc is because I’ve fallen away from our faith. Yes, I still believe what I was taught growing up, and a part of me will always love it, but that just isn’t what I feel will fix me this time, not right now. So much of the stress I’ve faced over this past year is trying to keep from hurting him. My actions have all affected me, but he takes them so personally. Every change, everything that is different about me, he sees as a personal attack. This kills me. Telling him how I really feel, trying to explain that this is who I am now is my “closet”. Coming out of it, having that conversation terrifies me more than I can say.
I know that all of these things may sound so very trivial to you, but this is the hardest thing I’ve ever, ever done. Hard is not relative, hard is hard.

My Imaginary Wedding

I have a horrible habit of becoming nocturnal during extended school breaks, so here I am. I laid for an hour desperately trying to find sleep, but my body was like “lol, nope.” So, again, here I am.

As obsessed as I was with the idea of marriage when I was younger, the more I grow up and the closer I become to officially becoming a spinster, the more okay I become with the idea of being single. I think that some combination of my parents divorcing last year and the idea of HAVING to find a husband being my sole purpose has turned me off to the idea of commitment. Pssh. I’ve got too much to do before I work on becoming a Mrs. (or a girlfriend for that matter.)

Now, I’m not thrilled with the idea of being married, but I really want to have a wedding. Trust me, there’s a difference. I want the pretty dress. I want to plan the wedding, please, I find myself planning this imaginary wedding that I want so badly already. Whenever I hear a song that I particularly like, I decide that it will be perfect for my imaginary wedding. Seriously, I’ve got this under control already. This shiz is planned. Now, don’t think I’m doing this in some creepy, chick-flick, making fake scrapbooks kind of way, but growing up, so much emphasis was put on the wedding that I would someday have, that it’s a hard habit to break. (Not only that, but it’s fun to me. Seriously, one of my dear readers, pay me to plan your wedding. I’m quite good.) 

Of course, so many “perfect” wedding ideas have come and gone since I graduated high school. At one time it looked like this wedding may one day become a tangible thing. (Thank goodness it didn’t. I’m much too selfish to be a wife.) At the time my “perfect” wedding was green, black, and white with polka dots, lots of polka dots. Then, when my wedding did, in fact, become imaginary, I decided that I was all about simple elegance. My colors were to be black and white, and I my central theme that I planned to decorate around was black lace. Then, of course, I wanted to channel Marie Antoinette. Of course, my mom told me not to tell people that my wedding theme was Marie Antoinette, since she was beheaded, so I was to tell people that the theme was “pre-Revolutionary France”. I loved saying that simply because it sounded so bougie. After the bougie weddings came the Alice in Wonderland theme. I wanted it as ridiculous as possible with a tea party themed reception. Now, I’m definitely going with steampunk. I want all of my imaginary guests at my imaginary wedding as over the top as possible. (I still may use a touch of Alice.) It will be fabulous.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGuau204JZY

The only constant between all of the wedding ideas is that I WILL someday walk down the isle to this song. It’s perfect.

Yes, yes I have the corny Pinterest wedding board. I’m a single white girl. This is what we do.

Just for the record, this didn’t just completely come from nowhere. I’m to be in my first wedding in a month. I’m so incredibly excited!  There’s a masquerade theme, and it will be amazing. I promise, when the day comes I will post pictures.

The Lamentations of a Fat Girl With a Lap Band

I have always been a big girl. I’m not one of those who can boast being small until puberty, or growing up chubby and losing all of the weight at some point in grade school. No, I’ve always been a “fat girl”. In a lot of ways, this has become something that I have actively embraced over the years. (Yes, yes, I know that I do this as a defense mechanism. I beat you to that observation.) For example, in high school my friends and I decided that we wanted to create a “gang”. We wanted the name to be something that represented who we were, something that we could identify with. So, of course, we decided to be called the “Fat White Chicks”. We ended up with thirty-some-odd members of both genders and a few different nationalities. We would walk the hallways spouting our “gang” motto “FWC pride, yo!” (Do gangs actually have mottos? I’m not overly familiar with the culture. I mean, I’m sure from that you can judge that we miserably failed at being a gang. I digress.) Also, in high school my LiveJournal username was fatgirlsarefun. I swear, that was me. I even had a tshirt that I made that said “Fat girls are beautiful.” on the front and “I am beautiful.” on the back. I ended up with a ridiculous number of people asking me to make them a shirt just like mine.

I’ve said all of that to say this, I was so worried about only being identified as “that fat girl” that I made that who I am. I was bullied and made fun of so much in school that I one day decided to beat the other kids to it. It took the fun out of making fun of me if I was making fun of myself. I know that my weight is a result of my actions, but it’s something that I have struggled with all of my life. I once had someone I was very close to get mad at me, telling me that the only reason I was as big as I was is because I had no will power, no self control. Obviously if I had a weight problem it’s because I wanted to have a weight problem. I mean, really, I should have just turned it off. Become thinner simply by willing myself so. I do understand that a lot of the problem IS a matter of will power. I just believe that if weight issues are something that you, personally, have never struggled with, you can’t know what someone that does struggle with weight problems is going through. (Seriously, this person wore a small. I should have sat on them.)

In 2010, my mother and I decided to make go to Mexico and have lap band surgery. We did our research and we knew of a couple of people who had had success after receiving the band. I do have to say, since the actual surgery I have lost a considerable amount of weight.

ImageHere I was intentionally creeping on a friend’s senior pictures. I was also about 320 pounds.

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Here I was at my work “Tacky Christmas Day” last month. I’m at 275-280 now, depending on the day. Whether or not you can tell a difference, I can, and this makes me very proud of myself.

Here was the biggest problem I faced after my surgery, for some reason the weight did not simply fall off on its own. It turns out that I still have to do work in order to get weight off.  Continue reading

The “Be Happy” Initiative

Okay, okay. I know that I’ve already done the “I know everyone is doing this, so this is all I’ll say about the new year coming” thing. I’m a chatty kid, so I’ve thought of more I’d like to say on the subject. Just deal for a few minutes.

The past two years have undoubtedly been the worst of my life. I can honestly say that no one thing has made them so, it seems that it’s been more a situation of things coming together to be the perfect storm of everything changing and feeling like my world as I knew it fell apart. I know that comparatively speaking, a lot of people have it worse than me. I really understand this. I don’t intend to do the angsty “My life is hard and no one understands me!” nonsense. I also heard something else about a month ago that really resonated with me. Hurting is not relative, hurting is hurting. Yes, there are different kinds of hurt, but hurt is hurt. At this point, very little of my circumstances are what they were two years ago. I also understand that this is a part of growing up. I’ve just learned that growing up is a bit more difficult than I thought that it would be.

I’ve mentioned the church that I grew up in and the fact that I’ve fallen away from it already, and I’m sure I’ve also mentioned how hard this is. I had to lose contact with people that I love very much because of this. It’s caused problems in my own family, and that kills me. The thing is, it’s not that I made any fundamental changes in who I am as a person, but I’ve slowly tried to become more comfortable with myself. Leaving the church was hard. Easily one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. It’s been a long process, and I’ve still got a ways to go. People that I love will continue to be hurt by my actions, and I’m trying my hardest to do everything in a way to cause as little pain for others as possible. Hurting others is the last thing I want to do.

You may be wondering what this has to do with the new year. I know I’ve already made the cutesy honey badger reference to 2014, but I want to go into more detail.

I have one resolution for the coming year. I will be happier and more secure in who I am.

Yes, I need to lose weight. I do the whole “I’m going to the gym and becoming healthier! Woo!” thing every stinking year. Just like the vast majority of fat girls that make themselves this promise, it always lasts for about a week and a half. So, my goal is to be happy. Ultimately, I know I’ll be happier if I get some of the weight off. I also know that if I continuously berate myself over every plateau and every week that I feel I haven’t made enough progress or have eaten badly, I will be miserable. I will become healthier. I will eventually lose this weight. I will, however, also work to love myself more as I am while still trying to improve.

In some ways I will be more selfish this coming year. I don’t mean this the way you’re thinking, I promise. What I mean is that I will learn to say no to people. I’m so worried about hurting people and what they think of me that I tend to let myself be a doormat. Fixing this will be part of the “Be Happy” initiative.

Basically, I’m going to be Denise. I like who I am. It’s time to start acting like it. The coming year will be what I make it. I will work to stop dwelling on the disappointments of my past and start thinking more about the amazing things that can be in my future if I’ll let them be.

Allons-y.

I’ve Got a Long Night of Doctor Who in Store

I’ve noticed that if he’s good for nothing else, my brother does an excellent job finding friends for me. I know this may sound odd, but in more than one instance I’ve ended up becoming good, nay, best friends with ex girlfriends of his. Usually, he dates the kind of people that I am friends with, so as a result I’ve developed lasting friendships with his exes, even after his relationships are over. I say this because my Katie, an ex of his, is staying the night with me, and we’re catching her up on alllll of the Doctor Who she’s missed. (I.E the 50th and Christmas special. My heart hurts for her for not seeing them yet! And, I’ll admit my watching them with her is partially selfish as well. She’s my only whovian friend here. I have so much I want to talk about!) Then, we’re marathoning season 7. We’re going to weep, laugh, and fangirl together. Huzzah.

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I love me some KT.

I’ve finally enrolled for my classes for the spring semester. I’m very nervous. I’ve signed up for four classes for spring, because I wasn’t totally sure that I could get all of my financial aid in February. This is important because Denise is paying off some bills so that she has more of a chance of being able to afford to live on her own in a few months. Don’t judge me. The struggle is real, dear readers. (Yes. Yes, that just happened.)

One last thing before I leave you for my Doctors. I keep feeling sorry for myself because I haven’t lost much weight in the past few weeks, but I’m maintaining at 30 pounds. I’ve decided that maintaining 30 through my birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc is pretty spectacular. So kudos to myself. Yeah. I’ll worry about the gym and getting past this plateau now that the holidays are over.

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Here’s after returning from DragonCon in September to today. 

I’m Not Dead

Although you may have come to believe this to be the case. I have been out of town for the past week celebrating the holidays with my family. I hope, dear readers, that your holidays were as pleasant as my own were. I spent a quiet week with my mother and my brother. It was really nice. It felt like old times again, for the most part, at least. I was absolutely thrilled that my brother not only appreciated but seemed to really love the gift that I got for him. I was honestly worried that he would refuse to take it, but he enjoyed it. We talked and laughed just like we did for so many years while we were all together, at home. The week was a nice reprieve. You’ll be proud of me. I’m not going to recount every single gift that I received in detail, but everything was wonderful. 

Next year is quickly catching up with us. I’d be kidding myself if I were to believe that I was the only blogger talking about 2014 and the things that they hope that it will bring, and talking about the past year, whether with fond memories or distaste. I can honestly say that I can not stress enough how excited I am to see 2013 go. I feel that I greet each new year the same way, but I have very high hopes for next year. Ever year I make the same promises, but I’m not giving up on that hope. I WILL make changes in both myself and my circumstances in the next twelve months. I will work to make myself someone that I can be proud of. I will work to keep and/or mend the relationships I have as well as mold new ones with the people that I’ve yet to meet but I know will someday be important to me. My friends, this next year will be amazing. I’m not making any real resolutions, as I would fail at those endeavors in less than a month, but I can tell you that my goal for 2014 is to become more like the honey badger. (If that statement doesn’t make sense, by all means, click the link provided.)

I AM going to shamelessly brag for a moment. I bought myself a Nintendo DS earlier this week, and I wanted a case to put it in. I wanted a sleeve to put it in. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to find a Doctor Who sleeve locally, so I made my own. Don’t judge me. I’m ridiculously proud of this thing. Image

Forget the Rest of That Nonsense

This will forever, unequivocally be my very favorite video on the internet. There are so many things that make this the best. I mean, there is Mr. David Tennant, who I am convinced is the most perfect being that has ever graced the Earth with their presence. Not only is he there, but he’s using his actual accent. While I love his accent on the show, it just doesn’t compare to his Scottish accent. That, AND he’s playing an English teacher. Everyone knows that English teachers are the very best people. (Not that I’m biased or anything.) Also, I desperately want to be friends with Catherine Tate. She’s easily one of my favorite people. She’s wonderful. I love her character, Lauren. I swear I’ve taught Lauren before. It’s nice to know that that kid is the same all over the world. Of course, my “Laurens” definitely couldn’t quote Shakespeare.
I’ve had to make a conscious effort to do it, but I’m much more in the Christmas spirit this year than I have been the past few years. I think it’s mostly because I’m so incredibly excited about the things that I got for my family and friends.

One of my good friends has small children. I found the hardcover of this book and I couldn’t resist buying it for her. I laughed so much. I read it to her, but my reading didn’t compare to Samuel L. Jackson’s.

While I’m excited for the actual celebration, I can’t deny that I’m a little nervous about the possibility of dealing with a few situations that I’ve been carefully avoiding over the past few weeks. I avoid confrontation like the plague, and my goal is to make it through the holidays with as little of it as possible.

I just finished my small Christmas celebration with my dad and his girlfriend. I love being so predictable in what I’d like in that everyone does an awesome job choosing things for me that I adore. Tonight was no exception. I have a pair of exploding Tardis tights on, which I can tell are definitely going to become one of my favorite parts of my wardrobe, and a lot more Doctor Who goodies. I’m a lucky girl.
If I haven’t mentioned this enough, I’m so glad to finally have a relationship with my dad after so long. It’s nice. Also, Ms. Laura, his girlfriend, is someone that I like more each time I’m around her.
This may win the award for most disjointed entry yet, but I cooked a meal for them. The messy kitchen downstairs is calling for my attention.

I Have Every Right to Do This

I hate feeling like a cliche, and I don’t like feeling like I’m jumping on a band wagon for the sake of taking a ride on said band wagon with everyone else. Though, alas, now I’m irritated, so you’ll have to be subjected to the Denise take on an issue that I can already tell we’re going to be quite tired of very soon.

Living in the (very) deep South, I’ve been sick to death of hearing about the rednecks of Duck Dynasty for the better part of a year. The show has taken off and been marketed in this area in a big way. There is an entire section of the local Walmart dedicated to the show’s merchandise. I’m so incredibly tired of it. It being the sensation that it is, I wasn’t at all surprised to see that my Facebook news feed had absolutely blown up with thoughts on the fact that one of the cast members has been kicked from the show for statements that he made in an article for GQ. I know my fair share of very right-wing Christians, so I was pretty sure that I knew the comments that he made to put everyone else in such an uproar. After reading the actual interview, however, I was shocked at just how backward many of his comments actually were.

Phil Robertson on his family and their faith:
“We’re Bible-thumpers who just happened to end up on television… You put in your article that the Robertson family really believes strongly that if the human race loved each other and they loved God, we would just be better off. We ought to just be repentant, turn to God, and let’s get on with it, and everything will turn around.”

Phil on sin:
“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong… Sin becomes fine… Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” he says. Then he paraphrases Corinthians: “Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers—they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.. It seems like, to me, a vagina—as a man—would be more desirable than a man’s anus. That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

On his violent past: 
During Phil’s darkest days, in the early 1970s, he had to flee the state of Arkansas after he badly beat up a bar owner and the guy’s wife. Kay Robertson persuaded the bar owner not to press charges in exchange for most of the Robertsons’ life savings. (“A hefty price,” he notes in his memoir.) I ask Phil if he ever repented for that, as he wants America to repent—if he ever tracked down the bar owner and his wife to apologize for the assault. He shakes his head. “I didn’t dredge anything back up. I just put it behind me.” As far as Phil is concerned, he was literally born again. Old Phil—the guy with the booze and the pills—died a long time ago, and New Phil sees no need to apologize for him: “We never, ever judge someone on who’s going to heaven, hell. That’s the Almighty’s job. We just love ’em, give ’em the good news about Jesus—whether they’re homosexuals, drunks, terrorists. We let God sort ’em out later, you see what I’m saying?”

On the future of the show:
“Let’s face it,” he says. “Three, four, five years, we’re out of here. You know what I’m saying? It’s a TV show. This thing ain’t gonna last forever. No way.”

On sacrificing their privacy in order to spread the good word:
“For the sake of the Gospel, it was worth it… All you have to do is look at any society where there is no Jesus. I’ll give you four: Nazis, no Jesus. Look at their record. Uh, Shintos? They started this thing in Pearl Harbor. Any Jesus among them? None. Communists? None. Islamists? Zero. That’s eighty years of ideologies that have popped up where no Jesus was allowed among those four groups. Just look at the records as far as murder goes among those four groups.”

On why he voted Romney in 2012:
“If I’m lost at three o’clock in a major metropolitan area…I ask myself: Where would I rather be trying to walk with my wife and children? One of the guys who’s running for president is out of Chicago, Illinois, and the other one is from Salt Lake City, Utah. [Editor's note: Romney is from Boston, not Salt Lake City.] Where would I rather be turned around at three o’clock in the morning? I opted for Salt Lake City. I think it would be safer.”

On growing up in pre-civil-rights-era Louisiana:
“I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field…. They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’—not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.”

Don’t get me wrong, all of these statements are things that I’ve heard from people before, but wow. I’m not even going to attempt to address these comments individually; this entry would be much longer than you’d care to read, I assure you. There are, however, a few things that I would like to address about this current “Southerners saying backward things” scandal.

So many people that I know are posting and sharing statuses about how the man is being “persecuted for being a Christian”. I know that this feels like such an easy justification for his actions while painting the network at villains. I’m sorry, this just isn’t the case. The man lost his job because he works for a major television network and he said things that they deemed offensive. The powers that be are far more interested in not looking like the man’s opinions reflect their own. Many of the things he said in the interview went beyond Christian beliefs and wandered into the territory of hate, in my opinion. A&E isn’t interested in sticking it to the Christian faith. From what I understand, if this were the case, they would have been pulled off the air quite a while ago. What the network is interested in, rather, is their own public relations and bottom line.

Another thing that has many of my southern comrades up in arms is the fact that the concept of freedom of speech is being attacked. this is absolutely not what is happening. He expressed an opinion, and, if you’ll notice, the United States’ government did nothing to punish him for expressing those opinions, no matter how hate filled said opinions may be. If freedom of speech was being attacked in this manner, the people of Westboro Baptist would have been locked away many years ago, waiting on relatives to bring them hate cakes with files baked into them.

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Mmm. Tastes like the disappointment of the American people.
(I won’t admit how long I scoured the internet for a picture close to what I saw in my head.)

No, freedom of speech saves individuals from the worry of Big Brother stepping in when your thoughts are expressed. this doesn’t limit private corporations from letting someone go for comments they made. In some cases, it doesn’t even limit government entities from firing someone after they say something that controversial. As a public school teacher, let’s go on a rant about race and sexual orientation and see if I don’t end up with a bit of legal trouble on my hands. Please, I’ve met people who keep their orientation a secret as adults for fear of repercussion at work. Doesn’t that go against their freedom of expression as well? People lose jobs over the wrong thing being said all of the time, the only thing that makes this any different is the fact that this person is in the public eye.

44027872All of the THIS. I need to start simply posting this on people’s Facebook statuses.

Yes, we all have opinions. This doesn’t mean, however that these opinions need to be stated all of the time. I may think that you smell like raw onions and your shirt is absolutely hideous. If I believe that, does that mean I should say it? People are also using the fact that he’s from South Louisiana to justify his actions. Fun fact: I am too. Does this mean I should say things about how happy people were as they worked in the fields before the days of civil rights as well? No. The answer is no.

Honestly, for all of the outrage that the poor fans of this show are feeling, this may be one of the best things that happened to this family from a purely financial standpoint. Look at the attention that Chick-Fil-a and Paula Deen received after their respective scandals. The fans worried that the millions of dollars that they already had may not be enough, or people wanting to take a small political stand of their own and show support rallied around and spent money like it was going out of style. I honestly feel that this was a strategic move by the network because, God, it’s not like that show wasn’t getting enough freaking attention.

It’s funny to me, (and it’s the thing that was the catalyst for this entire rant…) a friend posted an article on Facebook about this situation that included the statements that Phil made. I usually try not to express many opinions about anything that could possibly be construed as offensive on Facebook, but I left a comment that said “Wow. I thought they were idiots. Now, I’m sure of it.” or something along those lines. Another woman that this friend knows made a comment back about how they are NOT idiots, etc, and she then referenced a status in which she spoke of his freedom of speech, etc. It was funny to me that she made a snotty comment to me about sharing an opinion and then immediately justified this man’s right to share his opinions without repercussion.

One opinion that I will freely share: Their beards are the worst. That says a lot. I usually am a fan of beards.

My Big Fat Southern American Religious Life Pt. 2

It may appear that I have forgotten that I had written the first half of this post, but I was simply trying to get my thoughts together. I have a lot to say about this subject, but this is a topic that will very easily offend people that I love very much. I want to, then, begin by saying that I genuinely mean no offense by the things that I’m about to say. I’m simply writing about my own experiences.
I grew up in a very exclusive, very conservative denomination of Christianity. (I also want to mention that I still whole-heartedly believe what I grew up being taught, even though I’m not practicing those beliefs at the time being. I’m merely discussing this denomination from a cultural stand-point.) The church I grew up in had a very clear, very strict standard for the way that its members are to carry themselves and live their lives. It hit me while watching My Big, Fat American-Gypsy Wedding that while to the untrained eye these cultures may seem completely different, the American Gypsy culture and the culture that I grew up in are very, very similar.
Marriage
You’re going to notice that many things that I mention in this entry are going to be related to the topic of marriage. This is very important in that marriage itself is very important to both of these peoples. Girls in the Gypsy culture grow up learning to keep a house clean so that they may someday keep a house clean for a husband. Marriage is something to be done sooner, rather than later. Girls start entering into matrimonial bliss as early as fourteen or fifteen years old. Marriage is the goal of these girls, and if you find yourself unmarried by nineteen or twenty, it’s time to begin worrying. So much of the girls’ worth is placed on their ability to find a husband. The girls are to keep themselves absolutely pure for their future spouse, unable to even kiss a boy before the day of their wedding. They would often become engaged to boys from other states, carrying out a courtship via texts and the internet until they are able to actually wed. There are some cases wherein they may only actually see each other two or three times in person before they agree to spend the rest of their lives together.
I know that in many cultures, marriage and procreation seems to be the main goal that constitutes living a life worth living. This is also the case in the community that I grew up in. Many girls knew that the ultimate goal was their marriage, so they would begin getting married as early as sixteen. (Yes, I knew of girls around my age that got married at around sixteen. This wasn’t because of an accidental pregnancy, which is what one would usually believe in these cases. No, they knew that they were going to be married anyway, so why wait?) If you’re not married by the time you reach twenty-one or twenty-two, it’s over. I can’t tell you how many times I would get sad looks from my elders, a pat on the arm, and a reassuring “God has someone out there for you, you just have to be patient.” The fact that I reached twenty-five without a husband was something of a tragedy. I still find myself often panicked at the fact that I may end up truly becoming a “forever alone”. I’m a spinster. I’m “on the shelf”.  I was expected, in many ways, to sit around and wait on my life to actually begin when my mythical husband decided to enter the picture.  Girls often have to find a mate from another state, and like the Gypsy people, they keep up a correspondence over the phone and computer until they get married, often not knowing each other for more than a year or two before they decided that they’re compatible enough to spend forever together.The practice of remaining absolutely pure is also prevalent. I actually know couples that had their very first kiss at the alter during their wedding, in front of God and everybody. I was expected to be one of those girls, as a matter of fact.
Exclusivity
The American Gypsy people have a very deep-rooted sense of ethnic pride. They frequently talk of their heritage and where they come from as a people. They want to keep their bloodlines pure, preferring to only marry other Gypsy people. They have a more limited social circle than “Gorgers, or non-Gypsy people. They have a more limited pool of people from which to choose a potential mate. (And, in these cultures, isn’t that what life is all about?) They go to parties with every intention of finding someone to be with, or at least they go with every intention of looking. Parties are really the only place that they get to talk to single Gypsies of the opposite sex. This is very important. Young Gypsies are not allowed to marry Gorgers though, on occasion the boys may date them. (More on this later.) The Gorgers are thought to be dirty. They’re not part of the group, thus, they shouldn’t be associated with as much as fellow Gypsies.
In the community I grew up in, there is that same sense of pride in the heritage. We celebrated the struggle saints of the past went through to get the church where it is today. They also celebrate the aspects of the culture that separate them from “The World” and the “worldly” people. Worldly people are anyone at all that are not an active member of this particular denomination. This included other Christians and in some cases other people in this denomination itself. There were smaller sects within the denomination, each, at least in some small way, thinking that they are superior to the other. It is absolutely, completely frowned upon to date worldly people. Not allowed to date. I shudder to think what it would be like for someone to decide to marry someone in the World. This is a very limited community of people, to the point that we often would fellowship with other churches from surrounding states. There were very few people around us that had similar beliefs. If there was no one in our immediate church group that we were interested in spending our forever with, we had to wait until we would go to a church conference to find a potential spouse. These conferences are very like the parties of the Gypsy people. We would anticipate the opportunity to try to “catch a man”. I remember going to conference after conference, year after year, and returning devastated because I would again leave single. I would simply have to wait until the next conference, where I would again have the same hope in my heart and try to catch the eye of a single man.  I wasn’t able to date outside of my church, and there were cases wherein I had to turn down people that I really cared about, not because of a lack of interest on my part, but simply because I literally was not allowed to be with them.  There were cases wherein I actually got into trouble for simply having friends that were not a member of the church. The influence of the worldly was thought to be absolute poison.
Gender Roles
Gypsy girls are to be pure. They are to save themselves in every possible way for the right Gypsy boy. They were not to kiss, cuddle, or be alone with anyone, lest they acquire a reputation of being unclean, sullied. If they have the reputation of being a loose woman, no Gypsy boy worth having is going to want them as their wife. Girls in this particular culture dress as provocatively as possible in order to essentially show men what they have to offer without actually offering the goods until they get a ring on their finger. They are not to go into public in general without an appropriate chaperone, much less be alone with a boy that is not family. They are raised to know their role in the family and in the culture in general. They are women. The men work and earn a living while they take care of children and keep a house clean. One woman on the show happily mentioned how there is no better feeling in the world than your husband coming home and you having a meal ready for him. Girls learn from their mothers how to look that part of the Gypsy. How to act the part, being seductive while keeping a pristine reputation. The boys, on the other hand, are given quite a bit more freedom than the girls are. They do look the part of the Gypsy. They tend to sport spiked hair, honestly, to me looking much like the Guidos of Jersey Shore. They are allowed to begin working and earning their own money as teenagers. They are able to go into public with other boys. They are even given the freedom to date around before they’re ready for marriage.  They can date the Gorger girls. They can use them for “practice”, as long as when it’s all said and done they settle down with a nice Gypsy girl.
So many of the women that I grew up with are completely content relying on a man. Don’t get me wrong, if that is what you want I commend you. They get married young and get so much of their self-worth from their husbands and children.  Fraternizing with boys before marriage is very frowned upon. Girls are to look the part, and where Gypsy girls show as much skin as possible and remain chaste, girls in the church cover as much skin as possible in order to show that they are pure.  The boys may not be outright allowed the freedom that Gypsy boys get, but they are much more able to take it anyway. The girls are a walking advertisement for the beliefs. They dress in such a way that lets everyone know that they are members of this denomination before they ever actually have to say anything. The men are much more able to blend in. Besides a few minor rules , (short hair, clean shaven, etc) they look just like everyone else. Though it’s not allowed, I know of many men that dated girls that they knew from school, work, etc. They would do so more in secret, yes. People tended to overlook these indiscretions, however, when they found and married a good girl in the church.
Other
In many ways, education seems to be an afterthought in both cultures. With Gypsies, children would often drop out of school in middle school, preferring not to have a “Gorger” education. Boys would begin manual labor, usually paving driveways or doing some form of construction. The girls, as mentioned, would take care of the family. They were to clean, took, and take care of children. This was what warrants success to them. A clean house and a healthy family. Going to college appears to be relatively unheard of. This is the case more often than not in the church as well. Many children attend private Christian schools if they are able. Many churches have schools just for members children so that they are spared a worldly education. While going to college isn’t completely unheard of, it is rare. I have friends that were told that they had to go to school before they were able to get married, so they got an associate’s degree in general studies,  because they were just going to stay at home anyway. There was not point wasting the time of getting a more advanced degree than that. College was just something to be done to appease their parents. The majority of people don’t go to school beyond high school at all. If women work at all, they clean houses and work as nannies for other people’s children.  I was considered quite the anemology for getting my degree. Everyone would rave about how brave I am. They had this “Good for you!” attitude that I never quite understood. College shouldn’t be this revolutionary achievement. It was always simply what you did after high school for me. I grew up with a mother that refused to let me believe that I need to rely on a man.
There are other similarities that have occurred to me, I’m sure. It just struck me as odd how I grew up behaving a certain way in the name of religion, but the Gypsy people did many of the same things for ethnic reasons.  I hope that I haven’t come across as negative when referring to either culture, because that’s not my intention in the least.