Thursday, October 24, 2013

Half & Half or Skim for your Coffee?

I'm having one of those...days. Those days that I don't like to talk about, those days that I like to pretend don't exist. 
A fat day. 
The type of day that every pair of pants I put on feels tight and I hate how huge my butt looks in them when only yesterday I wore red pants, feeling proud of what follows behind me. Every shirt I put on shows off rolls and even my cleavage doesn't look good. I imagine other outfits that I could hide in and wear like armor to shield me from my own eyes in the mirror. 
Usually on days like this I try on other outfits and spend time in the mirror criticizing myself, hearing the names that I haven't heard in years, but names that I hear in my own voice now...on days like today. I hear my voice saying the messages I find in magazines, movies, music and plastered all over my world. The messages that tell me that being plus size requires not only special stores, but special people who will look past my body and see me for who I really am. 
What does that mean? 
I've always wondered why I have been told that I will need to find someone who will have to come to terms with my body or if I get lucky I could find a "chubby chaser". There is a category of men that I have been given, a specific set that I have to find and put myself in their line of vision. Moving past romantic relationships, I also have to find certain friends that will accept my body. Either other friends who look like me, who understand what it means to be a plus size girl. Or acknowledging (as the media reminds me) that if I am will friends who are smaller than me, I will not be the pretty girl in the group. I will will be the funny fat girl in the group. Also when moving in for those facebook pictures, making sure it is only of our faces so the differences in body types won't be so pronounced. When a free drink comes to the table automatically assuming it is not for me. 
I have been told with and without words that my body is only suitable for those specific stores, fashion trends that have been altered for my size, comedic relief or a sassy attitude for tv and only relationships where my partner has to be "special". It is this train of thought that gives me days like today, where I stop having to hear or see the negative messages outside of my room and it becomes so embedded that I can say it to myself without batting an eye. 
I look in the mirror and don't see me, only the fat girl who shouldn't wear that color because it attracts attention, who shouldn't wear those pants because they show what her legs look like, who shouldn't believe her boyfriend who calls her gorgeous and who definitely shouldn't call herself beautiful. 
I am writing this post today because I have decided to confront my "fat days." Today I did not allow myself to try on any new outfits and end up in a hoodie and baggy pants. Today I did not spend time in the mirror criticizing myself, I left the mirror after the word "fat" escaped my lips. Today I did not quietly let this day happen to me without anyone knowing as I shame my own body. 
Today I say it out loud: I feel fat today. 
The truth is I am never going to feel beautiful everyday. I will have days like today, but the difference now is that they won't quietly happen to me. From today I will fight back. I will not allow my own voice to shame my body without trying to remind myself that I am not fat. 
That I am worthy of love. 
That I am a size 16. 
That I am more than a nice personality. 
That I will wear tight pants. 
That I will wear bright colors. 
That I do not have to change. 

That I am beautiful. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

My Truth about Coffee shops

"What are you reading?"

There is a creak as the door opens
My eyes look out with anticipation as I wait
To see who it is...
I make eye contact
And it's awkward -
Two people make eye contact and for one tiny moment -
An instant really
They see each other simply. Profoundly.

No story, no knowledge
Only a brief moment where you connected
Iris to Iris
Maybe there is a slight smile, a head nod
Or the downward purse of your lips as if to say,
"I know you are there and I'm here...if you want."

They walk past you and your open seat
Curled at the end of the couch
Swallowed up in cushions
You study the seat next to you - wondering
What it would be like if they sat there?

I think of -
Sideways glances and noticing how he turns a page
Inhale. Turn. Exhale.
Using only the thumb and third finger
As he reads, he touches his fingers to his lips
Letting the words travel from the page to his mouth
Looking as though a conversation is about to begin
With those words on the page

I yearn to ask him,
What do they say? What formation of letters keep your eyes hooked?
What are you reading?
I hear myself say it and a conversation beginning
I can hear it and my lips begin to part
I take a breath in as I turn my head

Then my eyes land on an empty seat
I remember that I sit alone.
My eyes are too big for reality and my imagination runs
Runs into hope
The hope that someday this seat will be filled
And I will say it aloud...
What are you reading?

-E. Salinas, May 3, 2013

The said truth is...this is what I think when I sit in coffee shops by myself. I do my work while I (not so subtly) make eye contact with whoever I find attractive, hoping that they will talk to me. Now why do I do this? The truth is that I am not quite sure. I know that it probably has to do with the hope for attention, yearning for conversation with new people or maybe I just want to chat with a very attractive man. I can only place a little bit of the blame on the movie industry that reminds the movie goers time and again that if you just sit in a coffee shop long enough someone will get the courage to talk to you for the first time. Only after admitting that they have noticed you sitting and reading/writing/drinking coffee at this specific place for x amount of time and they just had some sort of revelation from their bestie/family drama to not let you (the woman of his dreams) pass by. Then the conversation begins as the camera moves slowly away so that the audience can't hear how much you don't have in common with this person and that no numbers will be exchanged, just a story that be forgotten.
I find that when I sit in a coffee shop by myself I look at who comes in...constantly! My head seems to be on a lazy Susan that swivels from my computer screen to the door. It is so frustrating because there are days (like today) where all I wanted to do was come to a coffee shop and work. Yet I seem to have this automatic response to a shadow sweeping in the corner of my eye to look and check it out or to be honest...hopeful check HIM out. There have been times where I change my outfit in order to look better as I sit and read/write and sip my Guatemalan organic free trade blend with cream and splenda. Thankfully I have gained some restraint (at least for now) and my hair is sitting frizzy, glasses are on and my make-up is sitting in my room and not on my face. Yay for me...

What I wonder is why do we leave our homes to sit in a place where the chairs are uncomfortable, the tables wobble, you have to pay for coffee, there is a need for pants and you might not get that precious place to plug in your computer? I find that looking around there are many people sitting alone with their eyes on a screen and their ears plugged up with buds. Everyone is pretty nondescript and keeping to themselves. Yet we all have something in common, this common place where we can all sit alone and anonymously. We sit in a haven, away from the distractions of our homes, offices and communities. Sitting in a place where all that anyone knows about us is what they can see and maybe how we like our coffee.


There is a low din - a hum of noise around me
The highs and lows of a clarinet sounding through speakers
Fighting for a place while the two girls at the tall table talk
Over their electronic pulses
Reminding each other why they are friends
Through their talk of others whose ears must be burning

Stacks of cups - all with bits of liquid left
Open books and pens uncapped
While cords rope around the controlled and comforting stacks that surround them.

A man packs his bag - done for the day.
His last act is letting his keys jingle
Before placing them in his pocket
Letting those around him hear that he is departing
To a place that requires a key -
Not an open door home that we all seem to be residing in

A one-stop shop to speak or think or write or read
And all the while escaping another world
The line at the counter begins to grow
Change jingles from drawer to tip jar -
A surprising sound in a place filled with plastic swipes

I sit alone infused by those around me -
Knowing that none of us will remember each other
Or recall this day
But also knowing how thankful we are for this space
This haven - an island of escape
Where all that is known is what sits in front of us-
The papers, electric heartbeat
And the coffee that has gone cold.

-E. Salinas, September 7, 2013

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Hard to Swallow

“The eyes of others our prisons; their thoughts our cages.” 
― Virginia Woolf

When I first read this quote I found it all too true for me. I have always been a person who likes to observe life and the people around me and I have even dubbed myself a "people watcher." I sit in crowded places like coffee shops, airports or on public transportation during my commute and I find myself fascinated by the clothing people wear, the way they occupy themselves and their interactions with those around them. Yet what I have started to question is whether I am watching others to understand them or to see if they are curious about me? 

For so many of us there is always this question of validation and we look for it in others around us, even those we have never met. The best complement is the one from a stranger, someone who has absolutely no reason to tell you that your skirt is cute or your necklace is gorgeous. There is no relationship to keep alive or cushion with complements; a simple admiration for what you have draped yourself in that goes no deeper than the stitching of your shirt.  I have found this especially true for women who seem to me to be more apt to speak to strangers about the beauty they see in front of them, I am included in this category. I am that crazy woman who talks to people on the train or bus, in the coffee shop or airport and starts a conversation by complementing earrings, tattoos, shoes...anything really. The question is why do I do this? 
I have thought in the past that I like to complement others because I was curious where they found their outer adornments; a work of reconnaissance to aid in my own style. Then I thought more and considered maybe I am the Good Samaritan of style, helping others feel good about their morning choices and nursing their self-confidence through a nice comment or two. Although these are sincere thoughts to why I complement others, the truth resides in my own desire to be desired. There is a reciprocity that I hope for as much as I hate to admit it; a sick curiosity and selfish thought that if I notice what they clothe themselves in, will they take notice of me?  
When we look in the mirror before we leave for the day is it to see how we look or to see how others will see us? Changing an outfit over and over again because it is not what we want to wear or because we want to change the person who people will see when we walk out the door? I find that when I get ready to walk out the door I wonder what others will think of me and what they perceive from what I present in my appearance. I find that my mirror is not about what I see but wondering what others will see. I don't say to myself, "This dress makes me look fat", instead I wonder, "Will the people I cross paths with think that I look fat in this dress?" I worry that if I don't take friends with me when I buy clothing that I will make a wrong decision and so I try to see how I look through their eyes. 
This is not easy to admit, but for me I have found after the ending of my relationship I have had a much harder time in being satisfied in my appearance. I believe that part of this uneasy nature is because for so long I had a pair of eyes that always saw me as beautiful with no question and never asking for change. Just a pure satisfaction in me. Now as a single woman I am trying to make my mirror in the morning about me and how I see myself, not how I wonder what others will think of me. Although this will be a difficult journey it is one I want to begin. 

I do not want to find the best view of myself in anyone's eyes but my own. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

I'm Going to Need Another Cup...


Well, its the first full week back and already my reading and ambitions for the semester are piling up. I feel as though when I am in one of my classes I have tunnel vision and I think of all the possibilities for a project or my readings as if it was my only class. Then I leave the room and someone jolts me back to reality where I am not spending my time with one class...but with 5! Here is a break down of my classes and what I found out in the first week:

Pastoral Care - Taught by my advisor and already in the first class we dove into a "what would you do?" situation as a class. It was very intense, but I'm hoping that my instincts will help me out in this class. One of the books I am reading for the class is "Evensong" by Gail Godwin, it is about a young woman in ministry and already I'm interested in what the book has to say for me.

Old Testament - I've have already told you how much I enjoy this subject and especially the way that I'm learning it. The visual aspects along with the text and my favorite word, CONTEXT! This semester we have made a running start with Job, a fascinating book that captures me when I read it.

Lutheran Confessions - Here is where my copy of The Book of Concord will become completely annotated, already my orange highlighter is everywhere, there are notes in the margins and already I  am beginning a color-coded tab system...surprised? I didn't think so. Reading in that book is truly opening my eyes and I am looking forward to the intricacies that come forth in the reading.

Liturgy - Well, the class began with singing a Kyrie in Portuguese and ended with dancing....everything in between was full of excitement and passion. I have always been a little scared of liturgy and I think this class will help me break down those walls. Also the culminating project which I will fill you in on as the semester moves on begins with visiting and talking to a group of people who are marginalized by society. I have already started looking into visiting a woman's shelter in Center City and I'm jazzed for this project.

Hebrew Readings - Here is where my remedial Hebrew skills will be enhanced and I will actually learn how to utilize the language in my ministry. The class will be translating the entire book of Ruth....I'm nervous but excited to dig into the text and create my own translation.

Well here are my classes and I will be updating you more as the semester goes on them, but outside of class I am trying to get more involved with the chapel starting this week with leading Holden Evening Prayer on Tuesday night. I'm nervous, but ready to get into the music. Also I have signed up for an Adult Shakespeare class at a local theatre! I'm ready to speak the speech once again and live in the beautiful poetry and prose that will never be far from my life.

I must go now and get to work, but I look forward to catching up next week.

Talk to you soon,


Sunday, January 27, 2013

I'll Make a Fresh Pot of Coffee


I can hardly believe that it is already January and nearing February. Monday begins the new semester here in Philly. New classes with some new professors and definitely new changes to this year. The biggest shift has been in my personal relationship which has ended. A difficult decision that many friends have helped me through. Beyond my personal relationship I have decided to begin looking into topics for my future studies. A large box of books from the library sits in my room waiting to be read...none of which have even had their binding cracked. Some the titles that I have are
 Feminist Intercultural Theology 
Sex in History 
Mujerista Theology 
Battered Love: Marriage, Sex and Violence in the Hebrew Prophets
Listening to God 
Of course I still have to actually read these books before they can begin to help me...

Last semester ended with a wonderful performance of Godspell that left the seminary community wanting more! It was truly life-giving to be part of a show especially when I thought that my theatre days were over, but I guess God has other plans in store for me. The audience was filled with professors, friends and members of the community who were floored to see faculty, staff and students in a new light. We were a rag-tag group filled with song and dance in bright colors with beaming faces. Singing "Day by Day" was a challenge at first, but it became one of my favorite songs to sing when there was an audience because they sang along and became part of the performance. When I found out that I would be singing that I called my mother and she wept as she told me how as a little girl she got to sing it and it still remains one of her favorite songs. Yet "Turn Back, O Man" was a different sort of challenge and as I researched other performances and watched videos of the iconic Mae West I found myself embracing a new persona onstage. Boa in hand, I flirted and even sat on the occasional lap (including a couple professors and the Dean!) while singing. This show was more than I could have asked for in my first semester here!

Since I have been back from break I have taken a course on the Psalms which was a wonderful class. Even though it was a very short class, I feel so much more comfortable with the Psalms and look forward to using them in my personal devotion. The Psalms are used so often in worship, but honestly not really studied the way that they deserve. These prayers and petitions are words of the people (as my professor reminded us) and when we do not know what to say it is important to remember that the words are there for us to utilize.

Some pictures from a trip into Center City
 The Liberty Bell

 Love these!

 Independence Hall

 "The Signer"


 Beautiful Building near Reading Terminal Market

Well I have come to the end of my coffee and so I will be writing soon, trying to keep the updates a little closer together so that the entries won't be as long. :) Know that I miss you terribly and you will hear from me soon, coffee in hand.

Talk to You Soon,