Friday, March 30, 2012

True Beauty

I like the theory that everyone has one true beauty. We spend so much energy inventorying and loathing our physical flaws and sometimes everyone needs to just admit that they posses one perfect physical feature. One thing that we can just embrace as beautiful and feel comfortable about. I have fabulous eyelashes that are long and thick and naturally curly. I can think of improvements I could use to every single thing about me but there is no way to improve my eyelashes.

Physically I didn't win the genetic lottery and get blessed with a gorgeous face or body and as a chunky kid who grew into a chunky teenager, an entire life of feeling gigantic has a way of warping your self image. I never had what I would call low self esteem because apparently in the pre-mortal world I decided to skip the line where they were passing out athleticism, I refused a fast metabolism and I went straight for where they were passing out confidence and took two helpings. Don't get me wrong, I believed that I was a morbidly obese monster of a girl who would never be found attractive by any human male alive, I just happened to also think I was genuinely the coolest person I knew. I was always the life of the party, I could get along with anyone, I cracked myself up constantly and I knew God loved me. My mother probably deserves credit for the confidence because she was certainly my biggest fan and she is a social/emotional genius who has a magical way of making people feel at ease in her presence. She did not go overboard praising every mediocre accomplishment but I never craved her acceptance because it had never been withheld in any way. Can a daughter give higher praise than that? I have known enough screwed up adults in my life to tell you that nothing damages a person more than a childhood of wondering if you will ever be good enough to your mom. Not to mention the fact that neither the Arnett nor the Haws gene pool has ever run short on confidence and the odds of Marolyn and Milan producing an insecure introvert are about as high as the odds of them having a brown eyed baby.

With that said, I would also like to tell you that the first thing my dad ever said to my mom was "Do you know that you have fat knees and no boobs?" I'm not making this up. This is not a pick up line that would or should work on any woman but the effect of this statement combined with his obvious attraction was to expose her most sensitive secret that she had spent her life concealing and hating and just exposing it, acknowledging it, and dismissing it. What a novel idea. Long story short, they ended up married with four kids and as soon as medical science caught up with the growing plague of women who hated their figure, the fat knees and flat chest were fixed. These days I can name ten people in ten seconds who I know personally who have had boob jobs and/or liposuction (and a hell of a lot more than that) but this was back in the 80s when it was almost unheard of in the middle class. I was about ten when she got her boobs and I remember that she was extremely worried about the message she was sending her daughters by surgically altering her appearance. At the time I held no strong opinions about breasts one way or the other but I understood that everyone else seemed to give them (or the lack thereof) a lot of attention. My mom kept telling me "Staci, when you grow up you will most likely not have boobs at all. Thats okay. That doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with you." I remember thinking something to the 10 year old effect of "No shit, Sherlock."

Besides her own neurosis about body image, I don't know where she got the idea that I would grow up and have small boobs since I had never possessed anything that had ever been described as small. Even stories of my birth always included what a giant baby I was. People don't realize that a statement like that is the emotional equivalent of telling a girl she was born hideously disfigured. They also don't realize that comparing a child to a Cabbage Patch Doll is not only UNORIGINAL, it is CRUEL. (And those are the only two qualities I truly detest in a person to this day.) I wasn't a sensitive kid and never had a penchant for violence but a person can only get their chubby cheeks pinched so many times before they begin plotting revenge. Just freaking try to pinch my cheeks today. See what happens. Better yet, pinch my kids cheeks and call them a Cabbage Patch Doll. Please keep in mind that the number of semiautomatic firearms 35 year old Staci has immediate access to is in the double digits.

Okay. Now that I have that off of my chest I can tell you that I have spent my entire adulthood or an insane roller coaster of weight change from literally being morbidly obese, to getting so thin that size 2 jeans were loose on me and I couldn't even lay on my stomach in bed because my body would teeter precariously on my prutruding hip bones. I am 5'10" and I was about 110 pounds. This was a few years ago when I was in the grips of a mysterious auto-immune disease that ravaged me out of nowhere. The sick thing is that I was literally wasting away to nothing and there was a point when I started to honestly expect to just keep shrinking until I died. I would lie awake at night and wonder how the end would come. Would I collapse in the house and be rushed to the hospital where I deteriorated until organ failure while my family watched helplessly and doctors continued to be stumped or would I just go to bed and not wake up? I went to dozens of doctors and I couldn't stop or even slow down or diagnose the problem. The sick thing is that I was a walking skeleton and everyone who saw me just couldn't help but congratulate me and celebrate this weight loss. When I got sick I didn't even want to lose weight. My weight had been average and stable for years before I got sick. My neighbor told me that I look like a holocaust victim. I was shocked to hear such a direct and graphic insult and then I realized that she meant it as a compliment. I can think of no better illustration of how completely weight obsessed our culture is than the moment I realized that healthy women are looking at images of Holocaust victims and feeling envy. It got to the point that I couldn't have a conversation with anyone without them pointing out how fabulously skinny I was. I was familiar with the phrase "There's no such thing as being too rich or too skinny." but I had never expected to experience either condition and I certainly wouldn't have put my money on becoming too skinny, but I was officially there. I would dread church on Sunday because each week I would have to explain over and over that no, I did not do the HCG diet. I have a horrible incurable undiagnosable auto-immune disease. Then I would have to maintain a pleasant demeanor as everyone responded exactly the same way every time I said it. "You're so lucky." Yes. I am lucky. I am wondering who will raise my kids when I'm gone and wondering if my funeral will be one of those depressing tragic type of funerals or if it will be inspiring and touching. But I can buy my clothes in the little girls department, and I don't have to try anything on because I know how it will look on me which is exactly how it looks on the hanger. Lucky me.

I am all about extremes. I'm either scary overweight or scary skinny. My house is either a disaster or it looks like a model home. I am either so healthy that I haven't needed to see a doctor in a decade or I am so sick that I am hooked to an IV five times a week so that I don't die. I got pregnant with Jack while simultaneously using 3 forms of contraception and I had to take fertility drugs for a year to get Abe. I experience no physical pain when I am in advanced stages of labor. In case you think I'm talking about digging ditches, I'm not. I'm talking about pushing something the size of a watermelon (with shoulders) out of my vagina. I went through the entire process of meeting, dating, converting, and marrying my husband in a little over two months. Once I paid cash for a brand new 328i BMW. The car I drove for three years before that was a red and grey two toned Pathfinder that had been wrecked on three corners, didn't have power steering (or power anything) that was lovingly called "the Dyke Mobile" by everyone who knew it. There was a time in my life that I had a private corner office in literally the highest rent Class A office space in the entire state. Mine was the office with three walls of floor to ceiling glass on the corner of 32nd street and Camelback on the sixth floor overlooking the Biltmore and right across from the Ritz Carlton so if I got bored I could watch famous people sunbathing. That job came with an expense account, a ridiculously large paycheck, an assistant and a primo reserved parking space in the garage. The monthly rent on just the parking space was higher than the total value of the car I parked there every day. If you are wondering how a 23 year old high school drop out landed that job let me tell you something about sales. When the president of The American division of a multinational corporation realizes that he just bought a plane ticket from NYC to Phoenix to interview a 23 year old high school drop out, he knows that he has found someone who can sell anything. I hate the term "She could sell ice to an Eskimo." Of course Eskimos will buy ice. Eskimos LOVE ice. They love it so much that they live in houses made of it. In fact, thats the only thing I know for sure about Eskimos. They are ice addicts. Thats like saying "She could sell Crack to Whitney Houston". Lets all be clear about our target demographic. If you ask me if I'd rather sell ice to Eskimos or desert dwellers I'll take the ones who didn't move to the desert specifically because they hate ice. Let me tell you a far more accurate phrase that would express sales ability. "She can sell Mormonism to the French." Thats a tough sell. It is also a perfect job to prepare you to sell high end office space.

There was once a time when I was on the VIP list at every trendy bar in town (tip: the girl who will be the designated driver every single time is the most popular girl in the club scene) I have never tasted alcohol but I was on a first name basis with all the bouncers (another tip: It never hurts to make out with a bouncer every now and then if you want to be on the VIP list at all the clubs) Speaking of extremes, Once I spent the night in jail. I used my one phone call to get Lisa to come post bail and I made it home the next morning just in time to shower and get to church to teach gospel doctrine. You get the idea. I sound bi-polar but I swear I'm not. I'm not even a thrill seeker. Sure I find it entertaining to push people's buttons (especially the buttons on uptight Mormons) but really, somebody has got to do it. Lets not take ourselves too seriously.

With my all or nothing track record it makes sense that one day I had a revelation that hit me over the head and changed everything. I am hot. I had spent my whole life avoiding mirrors and accepting platonic BFF status among all of the cute boys I knew and had totally convinced myself that had God wanted me to be a wife and mother he would have given me a totally different set of physical attributes. I had totally grieved the loss of the husband and kids I was taught to want but would never have and I had made peace with it and moved on. After all, I was in my early twenties and everyone knows that that put me way into old maid status. Sick.

I was successful at selling just about anything on the planet but I saw my DDDD boobs as a liability. Male humans are HARD WIRED to love DDDD boobs. I was daily selling high end commercial real estate to companies at above market premiums effortlessly and I was failing to sell DDDD boobs to men. I wasn't even really overweight then. I had learned how to advantageously dress my figure and learned how to doll myself up. Wait a minute. I was marketing my product to the wrong demographic. If my life had a soundtrack, this is where you would hear Sir Mix-a-lot. There is an entire planet of men who love my LA face and my Oakland bootie. The first group I discovered was black guys. I couldn't get a date in the singles ward to save my life but I couldn't walk down the street without a hot black man pressing his frantically scrawled phone number into my hand. I was dating a professional basketball player and he was showing me off to his jealous friends. And I was the trophy girlfriend based entirely on my looks. I didn't have to make anyone laugh or engage in witty banter to make them want to be around me. That got old in a hurry. That got offensive in a hurry. The magical thing about realizing one day that you are in fact attractive is that once you know it everyone else seems to notice too. There is a vibe that gets sent out and heads start turning. Once that vibe was put out I found another demographic. Non-Mormon men. Here is another little nugget of truth about attraction. A chick who is a solid seven gets more attention than a ten. A seven is attractive enough to catch their attention and not too hot to scare them away. This is especially true if the girl who is a ten never had to be forced to develop a sense of humor and never got forced against her will to learn how to be BFFs with cute boys because it turns out to be a very handy skill to have when you are married to the cutest one of all and you are raising the other two cutest ones.

I keep thinking about Eve n the Garden of Eden. Before she ate the forbidden fruit and Satan had no influence over her she walked around naked. Then she ate the fruit and became subject to Lucifer's. The very first thing Satan did was make her ashamed of her body. This is the Father of all Lies who laughs at suffering and is bent on destroying us and out of all of the millions of things he could tempt her with he went with the most effective destructive thing possible. He convinced her that her body was disgusting. In fact thats what signaled God that the fruit had been eaten. They covered themselves with fig leaves because they were ashamed. Its no coincidence that death and body image issues entered the world simultaneously.

5 And I, the Lord God, called unto Adam, and said unto him: Where agoest thou?

16 And he said: I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I beheld that I was naked, and I hid myself.

17 And I, the Lord God, said unto Adam: Who told thee thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, if so thou shouldst surely adie?

They made themselves coverings out of fig leaves to cover themselves and the scriptures don't say this but I its very possible that Eve then said, "Does thou know wherest I may go to find a good underwire minimizer fig leaf so that I mayest lift and separate my breasts? And wherein may I find a way to cover my cellulite? The Serpent beguiled me and told me that this apron I have fashioned out fig leaves maketh my thighs look huge."

I love Eve. She is the smart cookie who figured out the answer to the whole tree of life riddle. I guaran-damn-tee you that while the Garden of Eden was probably a really nice place it was about as exciting as watching paint dry. I mean how long can a sharp girl walk around a place carrying baby lambs gathering flowers and watching ripples in a pond without something interesting around. I would have been all over that forbidden fruit. Sure, death is fine. We'll take the curse. I'll push shoudered watermelons out of my vagina and Adam will till the earth and we will figure it out as we go, just get me out of this boring place where we feel nothing. I'll take the combo of pain and joy any day over perfect boringness.

The great thing about life is that the whole point of life is to come here and get our asses kicked. Life has a way of figuring out the one thing you don't see coming to level you every now and then. The worst thing that could happen to a person is for nothing hard to ever happen to them. Its actually the only thing you can ever really expect out of life. It will all be unexpected. And just when you get to where you feel like you have a handle on things and you are strong and capable and you don't need help from anyone, watch out. An infinitely loving God won't let you get too far like that without blessing you with some challenge that will efficiently remind you exactly why we need Him. I let Abe wander far enough away from me that if he falls he might get hurt but I don't let him get so far from me that he'll get hit by a truck. And when he insists on running towards traffic without me I give him a swat on the butt. He doesn't like getting a spanking and he may even cry and throw a fit about it. He might even be mad at me or claim to not need me at all. He doesn't understand immediately that the little pain caused by the reprimand is nothing compared to the pain that those cars will inflict. He won't understand it for years. I love him unconditionally and endlessly and will do anything to keep him safe. Even spank him. I don't ever enjoy the spankings life hands out but I'm trying my best to reign in the tantrums and learn to stay close to my Parent. Sometimes he even throws one of those leashes made for kids with ADHD at Disneyland onto my back which really pisses me off but I'm starting to understand why I need the freaking leash. He loves me. I have a covenant with Him and He keeps His end every time.

Of all the names in the world my parents could have chosen for me they picked Staci. Staci Haws. Say it out loud. Now say it with a severe lisp. Thathi Hawth. Go figure that thats the kid that got a lisp. I examined every angle of this irony for a half hour every day of third grade as I was forced to sit in a small room with a tyrant of a speech therapist who made me talk about that slut Sally and her stupid seashells by the seashore every single day. I'm sure the woman was much nicer than I remember her because horrible people don't typically choose to make helping children a career, but thats not what I was thinking about because I was too busy mentally slaughtering Sammy the Seal with my semi-auto. I couldn't hear the damn lisp. In my head it sounded exactly the same when I said it her way or my way. I literally made no progress. Finally the school year ended and the speech therapist wrote me off as a hopeleth cathe. Wow this post is long. Can you tell that I am thuffering with inthomnia? Feel free to stop reading anytime.

That summer I had to get a dental spacer put into my teeth just to prevent crowding. It was a little bar that connected to my back molars and ran along the inside of my bottom teeth. You couldn't see it but it felt weird. I spoke and it was a little awkward. I sounded weird. Terror ran through me. For a moment I thought that Thathi Hawth had just become Shashi Hash. In reality the lisp was gone. In one instant. The lisp disappeared. I never mispronounced an S again in my life. Even when the spacer came out. It was that simple. cathe clothed. Can you believe that I had such a dramatic change in one instant. Its a fact. Its the story of my life. Its how I roll. I do pretty much nothing by degrees.

To close, let me just embed a nugget of a video that illustrates exactly the kind of girl that all the guys every LDS singles ward go nuts for. This is my true revenge to every boy that didn't ask me to dance at the stake dance and to all of the ones who asked for my number and called to ask me about my girlfriends and then lingered on the phone for hours because I was so fun to talk to. I sound bitter but I really am not. I count my unsuccessful teenaged love life among my greatest blessings. Not to mention I ended up scoring the kind of man that…… uhhhh…. I got…… I am at a loss for words. I have no words that do justice to John's goodness and his hotness and his integrity and intelligence. He is my perfect complimentary match. The only person that I trust completely. I made it across the finish line of single-hood with a white dress that symbolized the perfect hard-won virginity that I possessed. He was worth saving it for. A real man who loves my rack a lot and loves my brain even more. It blows my mind that I got so lucky. Not Holocaust lucky, Real lucky. I was searching for my equal and I married up.

So back to the greatest viral video ever to grace the Internet. I could watch this over and over and over and over. I would like Travis to report in twenty years how entertaining it is to be eternally yoked to this sweet spirit after she has gained a few pounds. Being married to this girl after the newlywed sex is over sounds about like the Garden of Eden to me. Enjoy.


milan said...

Oh my gosh! I just want to know what school the sweet young thing went to? I hope, hope, hope it wasn't in the Deer Valley Unified School District! That was one of the funniest videos I ever saw! But so sad!

milan said...

Oops! The previous comment is from Marolyn, not Milan.

Maryann said...

Seriously love reading your thoughts! But I must know more about your night in jail....I'm missed this great story in your life! Great perspective on being skinny. I have truly spent my adult life wishing for a skinny body. But I will always be grateful for a healthy body even if it doesn't look the way I want it too! I hope that you've gotten things figured out and are doing better.
I always thought your were hot AND the life of the party....what a blessed girl you are!
And your mom is fabulous!
OK I'll stop commenting now...

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