thejuliemeister

Musings from an unsuspecting navy wife


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Big Bottoms

This may date me, or it may be a trait endemic to DJ’s the world over, but I’m fairly certain that every school dance I attended ended with “Baby Got Back” before the gym lights came on. (It was also likely preceded by KC and Jojo’s “All my Life.”) Thanks to Sir Mix-a-Lot, I knew what an anaconda did and did not want before I actually knew what an “anaconda” was.

Innuendo may have escaped me, but the knowledge that I lacked a bodacious behind did not.

My derriere has no curvature. From the side, it’s hard to tell which aspect is front or back. It’s pitiful. I’m confident that whoever invented these panties had me in mind. I’ve written about body acceptance before, and in general, I do make every effort to love my body, but man, sometimes I wish for a bum capable of breaking the Internet.

One of my besties has the opposite problem. She buys jeans that are too big in the waist to accommodate her backside. I asked her if I could write about her butt, and she agreed. There are good friends, and then there are the friends who are totally ok with it when you ask to write about their butts. (This is the same friend who had the unfortunate task of explaining to both of our mothers that Ginuwine isn’t actually an equine enthusiast.)

My galpal doesn’t understand my fascination with big booties. She thinks of it as a curse. She gets teased sometimes. She wishes she had a more even dispersal between breasts and butt. I can’t help but thinking boobs are great, but the poetic accolades attributed to bottoms far outweigh those for milk-makers.

Think about such greats as the “Thong Song,” “Bootylicious,” “Shake Your Groove Thing,” or my personal favorite, “Big Bottoms,” because how could you leave that behind? Boobs feel so tawdry by comparison.

As with most things, I suppose we always want what we can’t have. Despite countless squats and running literally thousands of miles, my fanny has never really shaped up. I’ll live. But I’ll always wonder what it feels like to actually fill out a pair of jeans and get noticed for it.

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Growing Up

The other day I was binge-watching shows on Netflix. It was a cop drama, my fave. The lady cop was going through a box of childhood belongings, and I saw a beanie baby in the mix.

My first thought? “She’s WAY too old to have played with beanie babies as a kid! I played with those! And she’s a grown-up cop!”

Wait a minute. She’s probably late 20’s, same as me.

Holy crap I’m an adult.

I have no clue when it happened, or how I managed not to notice. I’m married. I have several nieces and nephews. My husband and I are thinking about starting a family. I pay taxes. How did this escape me?

Somewhere a shift happened. I’m no longer in that “young” demographic. Teenage soap opera addiction aside (I love me some Pretty Little Liars), I have more in common with the parents in a sitcom than the kids. I’m no longer the youngest person in my office. In my head I’m still a teen.

Maybe that’s just how it goes. One day we realize that we’re in the next phase. We can’t stop the world from moving forward, and if we’re lucky, we’ll keep moving with it.

I’m older now than my mom was when she became a mother. Considering how little I know now, this fact is completely terrifying. It’s finally dawning on me that my parents really were making it up as they went along. I had always assumed that they knew everything. Now as I’m thinking of starting my own family, I realize that I’ll be doing the same.

There is no trick to adulthood. There is no one to tell you if you’re actually doing it right. Well, there are jerks who will give their 2 cents, but nobody really knows for sure. Not even Oprah.


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2014 Stats- I’m humbled and amazed

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 18,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


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To My Dear Niece Piper,

Piper and her Gramps taking a nap

Piper and her Gramps taking a nap

You cannot know this yet, but you are massive. At 4 months and 18+ pounds, you outweigh many healthy babies twice your age. You are over 26 inches long, which is literally off the growth chart. You, little-big-miss, are destined to be tall.

At my measly five-foot-nine-and-three-quarters inches tall, you will likely surpass me before reaching high school. I anticipate you will be well over 6 feet, just like my great aunt (your great-great-aunt) Rita. Above averageness tends to run in the family.

Usually, being tall will seem like the coolest blessing ever. You’ll stand out amongst, or above, your peers. But there is a responsibility that comes with being tall that is never fair.

Grown-ups will always assume you’re older than you are. Unfortunately, grown-ups generally judge age by measuring a kid against themselves. You won’t fit those guidelines. At 5 they’ll think you’re 7, and by 12 you’ll practically be an adult. You will always be held to a standard higher than your age requires.

There are also assumptions people make about tall folk. Get used to hearing the following four words: “do you play basketball?” Maybe you will. Unfortunately, if you’re anything like your mom and me, coordination and organized sports won’t really be your forte. Your mom once broke her foot trying to run backwards. That was the end of her volleyball career.

Good luck finding clothing that fits. I was wearing adult-sizes before the end of elementary school because I needed longer pants. You will almost never be able to find clothing in a regular department store, and will instead be a connoisseur of Internet retail.

Sometimes you’ll find height can be awkward. You will always be designated to put up posters and grab things from high shelves. You’ll need to stoop through some doorframes, and you’ll frequently be able to see over the top of bathroom stalls (try not to make eye contact). But you’ll learn to take it in your ultra long stride.

If there’s one thing I want you to know, it’s to never let anyone make you feel like you’re un-feminine. Some boys will feel threatened by you, or think that you’re an Amazon warrior who cannot be tamed. But that’s their problem. You can be the girliest girl who wears platform pumps every day if you want. Or you can wear chucks and jeans if that’s what suits you. Always remember that it’s your choice to decide who you want to be.

So Piper Jane, that’s what I’ve got for you. You’ll be the envy of many, and you’ll probably never need a stepping stool. With giant parents to guide you, I’m sure you’ll be just fine.

Love,

Auntie J


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Auntie J

I’ve known my sister my whole life. Sometimes I’ll say Allyson is my oldest friend. She and I met the first day of 7th grade and have never fallen out. And while I love Allyson, and I consider her my sister, the fact is, I have a sister, and truth be told, my sister, Sarah, is my oldest and truest friend (sorry Al).

My sister was 2 years, 9 months old when I was born. I’m confident my mom regrets getting pregnant just as her first child entered the terrible two’s. Neither of us made it easy on her, or each other.

I locked my sister in a closet once. It was an accident. I was maybe 3, and she was probably 5. We had decided that the closet was a secret cubby-clubhouse. Sarah would sit in the closet and I’d close the door. After 3 knocks I promised to open the door for her. She couldn’t open it from the inside. It was a measure of trust to my tiny being. I had to be vigilant to the sacred cubby-clubhouse.

I closed the door. Then my mom called out that lunch was ready, and all that my sister heard was the thump-thump-thump as my tiny feet scampered towards a delectable grilled cheese sandwich.

She knocked three times- nothing. She called my name- no response. Her 5-year-old brain concluded she would live in the closet the rest of her life, and the only food she would ever eat was pancakes- because they were the only edible item that could squeeze under the closet door.

To this day, my sister isn’t comfortable in confined spaces. I can’t think of any other relationship that can withstand imprisonment and stay intact. But now we laugh about it.

I remember that around the time she was in double-digits and I was merely a single-digit child, we fought all the time. We lived in Michigan then. I still remember one day skating on the frozen pond out back in the winter and her trying to apologize for something, and me being obstinate and skating away. I’m sure another day the same happened in reverse.

As we grew older, we still fought. I stole so many of her clothes, which inspired many battles. There were years when I wasn’t sure whose panties were whose. To this day, I still wear a pair of her old workout shorts.

By high school she was a senior and I was a freshman. Sometimes it felt like we were in different worlds. Then one day she had a high school tragedy. Several of her friends banded together to share a limo to prom. Sarah and her boyfriend (now husband) had not been invited.

Sarah found me at lunch. She was distraught. She had other friends who hadn’t been in on the prom-deception, but she wanted to talk to me. She wanted to be able to cry in front of someone. I didn’t know what to do, but I listened.

That was when our relationship started to shift in my mind. We had always loved each other, but to some degree, it had been an obligatory love. We’re sisters after all. But that day I started to understand something that it’s taken me years to vocalize. I began to know that we need each other.

Siblings are the only ones who know where you came from, and how you came to be who you are today. They’re the ones who will accept you no matter what, even when you accidentally lock them in a closet because you really wanted a grilled cheese sammie. They’re the ones who will be there with you through the greatest joys and deepest sorrows. Sarah was with me when our grandfathers’ died, and we held each other’s flowers during our respective weddings.

This week, my sister had her first child- a girl, Piper. It is hard to describe my joy. I didn’t conceive or carry this child. But I feel connected to her because she is a part of my sister, and that makes her a part of me.

This baby is something my sister made. My sister, who is claustrophobic because of me, who has known me since before I was born, who is the most understanding person I know, this woman has had a baby. She helped to take care of me even when I fought it. And all I can think is that she’ll be fantastic at raising her baby girl.

Piper is a lucky lass.IMG_1238


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All Bodies Have Issues

Lately I’ve seen several videos or general Internet posts about loving your curves. Thank God. As a teen, I was chubby. I felt like I was wrong. There were no idols or messengers readily available to say that I should love my chubs. I vividly remember a magazine that on one page chastised the modeling industry for promoting blatantly unhealthy body types, and on the next page used those same models with microscopic waists to demonstrate fall fashions.

Today, there are role models. There are women with curves who say that curves are good. They provide a younger generation with hope for acceptance. They make larger ladies feel more confident and less self-conscious. All of this is good.

But there is a price. It seems like many of the spokeswomen for curves can’t speak up for curves without either directly or indirectly saying something negative about thin women. It’s as if in retribution for not being classified as the current cultural ideal, there is a need to vilify individuals who fit the current “model” mode.

Ladies, let’s be real. Why can’t we exalt being fat or thin, and everything in between, without putting down our opposites?

Ideals on body size are malleable. My mom told me that in the 60’s, she used to get teased for being skinny. Her classmates called her Olive Oil, after Popeye’s girlfriend. Her scrawniness was not considered a blessing. If she’d been a teen in the 2000’s she’d probably be considered crazy hot.

Socially desirable body types change over generations and across cultures. Germany’s Renaissance artist, Rubens was famous for commemorating fleshy women. A few centuries later and the English Victorian era brought on corsets that made every effort to reduce waists to zero while lifting breasts to impressive heights (the only casualty being lung capacity).

Today, it seems clear that the model ideal is tall and thin. Everything else is just so-so according to fashion week. I’m sure some women believe that growing inches and dropping pounds is all it takes to achieve perfection and happiness. But truly, no physique is perfect, and curvy or thin, it’s most important that we’re happy with ourselves and we treat our bodies well.

In my life, I have purchased jeans in sizes ranging from size 2 to 18. I am 5’10” and my height combined with former size 2 frame might be considered ideal. At a size 2, I still had cellulite. My thighs still touched. My waist was tiny and my body fat was low, but I can testify that it was not perfect.  

I still felt awesome as a skinny minnie. I ate unending vegetables, drank infrequently, and was able to run at super speeds. My body felt healthier and more energetic than ever. It wasn’t perfect, and I definitely had body image issues. I can honestly say I obsessed over my shape and felt disappointed that my body didn’t look like those in magazines. It was like I’d leveled up to the ultimate size, and found that I was still lacking. But over time I realized that I physically felt good, I felt comfortable in my skin, and I could let the other stuff go and be happy with where I was.

Right now, I’m hanging in around a 4-6. I’m out of marathon training, which usually sees me gain a few pounds. Training for my next race starts this week and I anticipate I may go back to the minute frame after a couple of months in the regime. Unfortunately, I know from experience that being thin garners as much judgment, both positive and negative, as being overweight. Frankly, I didn’t want to be judged as a chubby chick, and I also don’t want to be judged as a skinny one. I’d rather have folks form opinions on me based on who I am. I am smart, I like to read, I like to play music, I run obscene distances and I watch an absurd amount of trash tv. All of this says more about me than my pant size.

It feels like anyone who calls attention to being awesome for being any specific body type shifts the conversation from being about personal attributes to being strictly about size. I understand that body image is an important part of the female psyche, but should it be the most important? In a perfect world, would we judge ourselves on our size, or on something else?

So ladies, I’d like us all to make a pact. Let’s all agree to love ourselves, regardless of our size or shape. Let’s agree not to judge each other for being big or small. Let’s agree to focus on mind and body health. Let’s decide to change the conversation from being fat or thin, to a discussion on what makes us tick.

This is me.  And I’m going to try to to keep happy with that.

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Mr. D

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At 4, I started begging my mom for violin lessons. I would pantomime the motions I’d seen somewhere and cry when she said I was too little.

4 years later, she finally agreed. By 8 years old, I was big enough to be trusted with an instrument. I was over the moon. We lived in Michigan at the time, and once a week I would ascend the stairs to a music studio and take short lessons with a pretty young woman who was always fixing her hair.

She left the studio after 6 months, and then I saw Tony. All I remember about him was a red beard, and knowing vaguely that I will always associate him with Vivaldi.

I do not recall much of the specifics of my early violin education. I know it was tedious. I know I didn’t sound very good. I know also that I loved it. I was able to perform a Little Mermaid ballad at a school recital. Nothing made me feel cooler.

2 years after I began, my family moved back to California, and I had to find a new instructor. I have no idea how my mom found him. But I ended up in the garage studio of an old man, Mr. DiSaro.

Mr. D had been teaching music for more than half a century. It was the mid-90’s, and my teacher had been alive most of the century.

I’m sure I was intimidated at first. He was older than my grandfather, and he could be stern. I hardly remember those days now. Instead I remember working on advanced techniques and cracking jokes. We had the type of friendship where even as a high school student, I could rib him, and he’d tease right back.

He had been a WWII fighter pilot. I’m not certain when I learned this fact. Sometimes when I hadn’t practiced as much as I should have, I would try to get him to tell me old stories. He told me he met his wife in Texas.

It was either right after the war, or sometime during when he was on leave. I can’t recall which. He and a few friends in uniform wanted to get dinner at a restaurant that was full. The restaurant staff wanted to accommodate the service members, and sat them at a table with a group of single women. One of them became his wife. He loved her for decades.

Another time he told me about a night he stood watch with a buddy. Mr. D knew his friend had been out all night the evening prior enjoying himself. Midway through the watch, the man literally fell asleep on his feet from exhaustion. Mr. D had to rouse him to make sure he wouldn’t get in trouble.

When I started lessons with him at 10, he towered over me. By the time I left for college and ended my tutelage, I easily cleared his stooping frame. Every time I walked in the door he’d start to raise the music stand.

I always wanted to learn the next advanced technique. When would I learn third position? When would I learn vibrato? When would I move on to a new song? Mr, D had the same answer for all of these: “In due time.” After a while it became a running joke. I started asking when I would do the next ridiculous piece, just to get that answer.

It wasn’t smooth sailing with me and the violin. My parents had to bribe me to practice, and there were several times I almost quit. I’m not sure if I could have handled disappointing the old man though. I stuck it out.

He believed in me. He said my pitch was perfect. He wanted nothing more than for me to play music and love it.

One of my deepest regrets is that I didn’t keep in better contact with him over the years. I visited him once after I left for college. All he wanted to hear about was how much I was playing. As college drew on and I didn’t join the orchestra, it seemed too hard to keep in touch. So I left him in my memories.

After college I began playing in bands. Improvising and playing with atypical groups felt freeing. It was not as rigid as my classical upbringing. I decided I wanted to buy a viola to add to my repertoire.

I’ve only ever bought instruments though Loveland Violin Shop in Santa Rosa. I was living in Monterey, but I called up Mick Loveland one day when I was about 22 to inquire about viola pricing. I told him he’d sold me a violin, and I’d been a student of Dom DiSaro.

“He was a great man,” Mick said.

“Was?” I responded.

“He died about 6 months back.”

It was my lunch break at work. I sobbed until I had to go back. Viola pricing completely left my thoughts. I should have known. He was in his mid 80’s when I left for school. He must have been pushing 90 when he died. Mick told me a small orchestra played at his funeral.

He devoted most of his life to music education. He conducted orchestras and played in others. Towards the end he only saw a few students, and I’m so proud to have been one of them.

Last year, I started teaching violin lessons. Part of me thinks that Mr. D would be proud. Another part knows he would have chided me for not learning some obscure advanced technique first. But that was him.

I took an intro course to teaching music in preparation. The instructor mentioned that for many students, their music teacher is their most significant student-teacher bond. Grade school instructors will change every year, but a music teacher usually sticks around for a long time.

Mr. D taught me violin for 8 years. By the time I left for college, I realized I probably knew him better than my own grandfather. I loved him just as much.

I’m still playing. I’m still teaching when I can. Every time I get a student to understand something new, I think of him.

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