With A Little Help From My Friends

Friendship is a wonderful gift. I have great friends … specifically I have great girlfriends. It seems that my college girlfriends are the closest type of friendships – we became the people we are today because of those friendships. We grew together and became sisters, if I can get away with that much Southern gooey sweetness. We are blunt with each other, brutally honest at times, but never hurtful. We are honest and direct with each other, but they are the first to call me on my crazy. And I do the same. We love each other unconditionally but not blindly.

We often compare other friendships to the ones we share together, the one we all keep on a pedestal. We often tease that we feel bad for women who don’t have real friendships (read here about frenemies) like ours. And we are only half kidding, we are seriously unapologetic about our own awesomeness. Make no mistake my friends and I are not without our flaws. I think the key to our enduring relationship is that we don’t expect perfection, we don’t run at the first sign of discourse. We hold each other up during the hard times and laugh through the good times.

The bizarre part of this wonderfully perfect friendship? It was developed through forced “togetherness” of several young women who I, at the time, felt that we were all different from one another.

As a kid my family moved several times to accommodate my father’s employer which meant I ended up attending elementary, middle and high school in different states. All that moving really got in the way of long-term friendships.

Making friends was particularly difficult for me as I was shy and awkward around new people. Seriously, I threw up on my shoes my first day of middle school. I had a tendency to talk too much or laugh too loud when I was nervous and then chastise myself later for not acting appropriately. Like most wallflowers, I spent most of my time just trying to blend in. I became so good at blending in that I eventually became invisible. Or at least that’s how I felt.

I was eager to move on to college where I had this notion that I would finally get to be myself, finally be free of cliques and the insatiable loneliness that I had come to know. I would finally become visible.

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And in 1999 it happened. I was invited to become a part of a legendary club called The BlackList. There is no rush or recruitment for honorary clubs, no bid day or membership tea, invitations are extended only to the 13 best juniors on campus. I was thrilled that my school’s coolest and baddest bee-otches wanted me.

I vaguely remember those first meetings with my new “sisters,” I was still as awkward as I was that first day of middle school except with less vomit, which I counted as a win. They, however, all seemed like rare, exotic and graceful animals. I was smitten with the idea that these girls would be my long-lost forever friends. But, as we know, friendships don’t just happen because you are placed in a group together and encouraged to bond. There were many times when we couldn’t hold our group together because we didn’t know how to hold each other up. There were times when we couldn’t see past our own ambition. I won’t lie – we had our growing pains. We had our cliques. We had our catty moments. They were certainly some cat-fighting and tears.

But slowly and surely there was a shift. It was so subtle at first we hardly noticed it but there was a change in our perspective. Somewhere along the way we became less interested in reaching the end of a goal and more interested in encouraging each other and enjoying the ride. We began to bolster our strengths and smooth out our rough spots. We became each other’s cheerleaders, counselors and best friends.

And as for me, I’m no longer the wallflower trying to fit in and just get by. I laugh loudly and proudly whenever I get the chance and don’t apologize for who I am. These women helped me SEE myself when they began to SEE me. I’m no longer invisible.

This last week, I’ve spent a lot of time “liking” and “commenting” on Facebook photos with abandon. Seriously it’s been a problem, but a good problem that I have enjoyed immensely. This weekend many generations of women will celebrate 100 years of the BlackList Honorary Social Club, the club that brought them all together, just it did me and my friends. This once in a lifetime celebration has spurred a sort of countdown to the homecoming festivities this weekend, and alumni far and wide have been posting pictures from their college days. I have loved pouring over the baby faces and teased hair of women I knew only as grown-ups when I, myself, was a baby-faced college kid. Even as a 19-year-old naive kid, I knew that by joining this club I was becoming part of something bigger than myself, something that would change my life. And boy was I right.

In addition to the 100th birthday of our club, the women who joined this club with me celebrate a milestone of our own. This is our 15-year anniversary. 15 years, that’s longer than I’ve known my husband.

To close out our acknowledgement of Women’s History Month here at Am I Being Catty, I would like to honor the women, the friends, the sisters that have changed me for the better (and sometimes for the worse, but that’s a blog that has yet to be written!).

I noticed something today in those pictures from the club’s past and the friendships chronicled in them. These were not just pictures of college days and shenanigans, although those are fabulous. These were pictures that told stories of relationships that crossed ages and miles. They were pictures of friends dressed as bridesmaids, friends holding newborns, friends comforting in grief, friends visiting after significant illness, friends’ children playing together. They were pictures of women loving each other as true friends. They were pictures that showed the power of girlfriends.

I won’t lie. We still gossip, get our feelings hurt, have miscommunications … and yes, we can be catty with each other. But there’s something to be said for a friendship that survives through the good times and bad times. It may not be that our friendship is particularly more special than others, it may just be that we know how to survive the hard times better and can move on from them faster.

Hug your friends tight. Here’s to another 15 years, ladies. And another 50 after that.

Ashley

 

My Personal Celebration of Women’s History

Celebrating the Women Who Made Me

It’s March.  It’s Women’s History Month.  And when we began discussing fabulous historical females here at #AIBC, I kept hitting walls.  I was never that great at historical timelines and dates… I cannot tell you who the 17th President of the United States (or any of the others for that matter) was.  I’m better at recognizing the voice of a singer about 10 seconds into a song.  But I CAN remember the women who have made a difference in my history so far, and today I would like to thank them.

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It is cliche to start with my mother, so I won’t go into great detail, but she is obviously where I began.  She is the source of my kindness, my compassion, my deep rooted desire to give back and help others, my sense of family, and an amazing example of being the glue that holds everything together.  It goes without saying that she should be mentioned, but she deserves an eternity of recognition and celebration all her own.  So I will move on for now.

The single event that will forever shape my life?  As a child, I had cancer.

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Dr. Judy Ochs was my pediatric oncologist when I was a patient at St. Jude.  She is the reason I wanted to enter health care, from a very young age.  She gave me the stethoscope off her neck and told me I could be a doctor when I grew up.  She was brilliant, kind, and loving.  If I could reach out and connect with her today, I would not even begin to know how to thank her.  She was part of the team that fought to give me a future.  You can’t make much more of an investment in someone.  I owe her a great deal.

 

The most formative years for a person are their school years.  The list of amazing females I encountered along the way is long.  Miss Lyle was was the first teacher I ever had.  Kindergarten.  I could read, say the ABC’s – she loved me and I was officially enamoured with being the teacher’s pet.  I may not remember why, or what made me stand out to her, but she always supported me, and throughout my life she would brag about how fantastic I was.  That does wonders for a girl’s self esteem.  Especially when said girl has zero self confidence, and gets picked on quite frequently.  For seeing something great in me, I would like to thank her.

Mrs. Linda Arant kindled my love for music and to this day that carries over into every aspect of my life.  Mrs. Sarah Love encouraged me to excell at everything I could get my hands on.  I still try to do it all.  Sometimes that is hard, but I thrive under pressure and I truly thank her for showing me I could do anything.  Mrs. Pam Shelton taught me how to type fast and blessed me with the invaluable etiquette skills I still reference to this very day.  In addition, she was strong-willed and never took no for an answer.  When she believed in something, by damn it was going to be a success.  Ms. Carrie Boykin was the popular teacher in our high school.  I could never really tell if she liked me, but that kept me on my toes.  She dealt out the tough love with directness.  I definitely wasn’t teacher’s pet, and she helped me develop a thick skin and a sense of independence while somehow influencing my future career path. Carrie taught me to fight for the things I wanted to achieve because they sure as hell were not going to be handed to me.  For that, I am grateful.

Mississippi University for Women.  There were so many influential encounters with fantastic women in college.  I cannot list them all or I would be writing for days.  Classmates, professors, friends…but heads and shoulders above most are the women of the Highlander and BlackList Social Clubs.  These are the sisters I never had, the friends that last the rest of your lifetime, the people that rush to your side when you are in need and when you are celebrating life’s successes, these women are my family.   The connections with all of the incredible women I met along the way are literally still a part of my life every single day – I truly am the person I am today because I was a W Girl.

Female Scientists in the Laboratory.  Lynn Ingram, Jackie Li, and Donna Patterson…  These women have shaped me more than they will ever know.  Tough love, directness, honesty, compassion, and true friendship are the commonalities among the three, but each of them are special to me in very different ways.  Lynn took me under her wing and gave me every opportunity for professional growth and development I could have ever imagined while also becoming like a mother to me.  I can rely on her to call me out when I am getting out of line.  Jackie Li is brilliant, a very hard worker, dedicated to being a good steward and providing quality patient care while also maintaining a very high level of professionalism.  The day she told me that I reminded her of herself, I knew she was invested in helping me be the best I could be, and she has pushed me more than any manager or supervisor ever has before.  I have learned so much from her.  Donna Patterson amazes me daily, and I am so lucky to have the opportunity to learn from her and grow as a leader in my profession.  She balances work and life better than anyone I have ever known, but she does not miss a beat in the process.  She knows everything going on in our department every minute while still being willing to take the time to give me advice and answer the smallest quetions.  I can only hope to be like Donna when I grow up.

I have missed many women in this post because there is no way to mention them all.  However, I would like to challenge you to think about the women that have played a role in your life.  How did they each shape you?  How did they help you to succeed?  Did they make you the person you are today?

Happy Women’s History Month!  Try to celebrate the women that are important to you everyday — you don’t need anyone’s permission to do so!

ZenKitty
#ThankYou
#WomensHistory

Blood On Your Hands?

  • You know, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered, in the history of the internet, a human being more stupid than you.  
  • I’m not sure why your mother didn’t originally abort you, much less why she hasn’t killed you yet.  I guess she’s just a coward like her daughter.  
  • why don’t you just do the world a favor and drink some bleach?
  • Everyone would be better off if you died.  Did you really think you’d be missed?  lol
  • I mean, look at you.  You can’t think you’re attractive.  Your skin is disgusting and that grill looks like something out of a horror movie.  
  • Maybe one day your boobs will catch up with your ass, but I doubt it.
  • What?  Are you going to cry?  Fag.
  • You’re nothing more than a trashcan.
  • Your eyebrows are so thick it makes me puke.
  • Just STOP making ugly selfies!  They hurt my eyes.
  • It’s so annoying how you think you’re hot.
  • YOU NASTY ASS BITCH UGLY FACE
  • FUCK YOU LOSER!! I BET YOU LOVE SEX!! IDIOT MOTHERFUCKER!
  • You don’t even deserve to be noticed as a human being.
  • FUKK u
  • You’re SO annoying!
  • bitchhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh
  • I hate you so much!  OMG!
  • Just shut up, you attention seeking whore!

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Not one word written above  in BOLD  or below in italics is fictional.  All were copied and pasted from various accounts on a website where cyberbullying is prevalent.  (Note:  the bully and the suicide were not connected, but separate conversations on separate accounts.)

If you read my January blog, ‘How I Became The World’s Oldest One Direction Fan‘, you’re aware that this is an issue close to my heart.  As the mother of teen girls, I’ve learned in a very real and frightening way that this is not an imagined issue.

If you are a parent, allow me to encourage you today — RIGHT NOW — to find out what sites your kids frequent and JOIN IT.  Being dilligent sometimes requires an effort, but never has that effort been more worth it.

And, if you have ever taken your rage out on a faceless entity on the web, know that you may not have been the only one.  And, while you were potentially only blowing off steam, the other person — the REAL person on the receiving end may not know that, and may be inundated with messages just like the kind you wrote.

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  • alone crying at home and taking pills, then drinking alcohol to join my best friend in the paradise…I’m almost at 12 pills. Love you Amelie. Love you everybody
  • There’s 2 pills left.. Even if I stop, I’m sure to die. I have taken 35 pills. Even without alcohol, I’ll be gone in few minutes, or hours whatever.
  • I feel it. I start to can’t move. The vodka is next to me. I just have to drink and sleep. Nothing more..
  • I’m alone. My parents left me. I got bullied. My best friend died. Some people kill themself for less than that…
  • I’m drinking.. I’m starting to drink. I’m sorry, but this isn’t a life, even the hell is better. Now I will stop writing, even without alcohol I can feel the death close to me.
  • you have no idea how much i hope it will work and nobody will found me to save me
  • i’m so close to the death.. i start to be cold and it becomes hard to write, my hands are leaving me slowly, and i’m falling in bed slowly too, i start to lose the control of my body and to see a light.. i let a letter on the table, when the neighbours will call the police (when they’ll start to smell a strange thing or don’t hear any noises ), this letter will go to my father. im about to die, and i’ve never been so happy to say goodbye.

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The next time you decide to blow off some steam by taking your anger out on the computer, imagine your younger sister on the other end– taking what you have to say very seriously.

  • “I hate you.  Drink some bleach.  Your parents should just kill you.  You’re so ugly. All you do is take up space.  No one would miss you if you were gone. Are you still breathing?  Pity.”

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Is there blood on your hands?

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  • goodbye is my last word.

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Love,

Kara

P.S.

  1. if you or someone you know is contemplating (or who you suspect/shows signs of) suicide call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at:  1-800-273-8255 or go to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
  2. Social media and teens are a dangerous mix.  Educate yourself for the betterment of your child.

Why I’m Not Thrilled With Women’s History Month

Before I begin this blog, please know that I’m already perfectly aware that I’m in the minority and that there are going to be plenty of people who think I’m an idiot.  Well, GUESS WHAT?!?!  I AM AN IDIOT!  But, I’m an idiot with an opinion and  a platform, so I’m going to use it.  As Flannery O’Connor once said, “I don’t deserve any credit for turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it.”  So, fire away, ladies.  I can take it.

With that out of the way, I have to profess my aversion and mild condescension to the concept of Women’s History Month.  In fact, the entire concept kind of pisses me off.  I think that when Morgan Freeman was asked his opinions about Black History Month, he nailed why separating a certain group is wrong.

What he’s saying here is that all of us should celebrate all of us.  I don’t want a month set aside for women.  I want women AND men who impact the world in extraordinary ways to be celebrated.

Let’s put this a different way:

What I hate hearing people say:  Violence against women is wrong.
What I wish people said:  Violence against anyone is wrong.

What I hate hearing people say: Men shouldn’t rape women.
What I wish people said:  People shouldn’t rape people.

What I hate hearing people say:  Men should respect women.
What I wish people said: People should respect each other.

What I hate hearing people say:  I fight for women’s rights.
What I wish people said:  I fight for everybody’s rights.

What I hate hearing people say:  You really must hate women.
What I wish people said:  You really must hate logic.

What are we, as women, doing to forward this concept?  I’m pretty sure it’s not setting aside a single month to pat ourselves on the back.  Doesn’t that sound silly?

So, while I admire every woman who has helped shape, change, or impact the world in which we live, I really don’t think we’re honoring them by limiting the celebration of their contributions to the month of March.

NOT on behalf of the amibeingcatty.com Team,

Kara

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Women’s History and Fat Tuesday

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Have you ever wondered why women use their assets to earn beads during Mardi Gras?  Well, here at AIBC we were wondering too.  Would you believe we have the Women’s Lib movement to thank?  Yeah. 

Surprising, huh?

Before you go out tonight, brush up on your Women’s History along with all of us at #AIBC and prepare to have a Happy Mardi Gras!

http://www.bustle.com/articles/17016-why-do-women-flash-their-breasts-for-beads-at-mardi-gras-a-brief-history

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AIBC Poll: Would You Do No Makeup Monday?

This morning, Today Show anchors went live without their usual bevy of beauty products in the name of normalcy. Yes. They, too, have wrinkles and age spots and dark circles under their eyes. Who knew?

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Check out their bare-faced debuts here.

Empowerment or PR stunt? You decide.

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Either way, AIBC has to give them props. It takes a strong person to face and embrace that makeup-free reflection in the mirror each morning, much less to share it with the rest of the world. Would you bare it all (from the neck up) to your co-workers? Take our poll and let us know!

Flying high: Don’t be a menace in the skies

After yet another work trip, I’m reminded again of all the things people do that drive me crazy on a flight.

I don’t mind the crying babies. I usually don’t mind being delayed. I don’t mind the people who “spill over” their airline seat. I don’t battle for an armrest. I don’t start a fight with the person in front of me when they crush my legs by “reclining,” if that’s what you call it. I don’t mind the people who don’t have the security measures memorized.

Instead, I’d like to share a few pet peeves that, if followed, will make everyone’s trip more enjoyable, even yours.

First, airline flying has ceased to become a vacation. Unless you travel first class all the time, it’s not going to be fun and relaxing. Is a car trip fun? Well, neither is flying. And those people you see in first class – most of the time they’re not rich. They just fly a lot. Pity them. So, don’t complain about the leg room, the poor quality of the wine list, or the lines you have to wait in. I’m still surprised they offer free beverages and snacks at this point.

Flying is a lot of waiting. You wait in security. You wait to board the plane. And once you get your ticket checked, you stand in line to actually get to your seat. You wait to get off the plane. You wait to get your luggage from baggage claim. Once you mastered the virtue of patience, that’s really the biggest hurdle.

  1. You will probably have to wait in a security line. With that said, you will probably not miss your flight if you’re waiting in security. I’ve never missed a flight because I’m stuck in security. If by chance, you think you’re going to miss your flight, inform the ticket counter or a TSA officer. They may let you go through a priority line. If you just hate waiting in line, do NOT ask the people at the front of the line if you can cut in front because you may miss your flight. This happened to me once, and being the good person I was, I let a woman go ahead of me (and about 10 other people did the same who were in front of me). Let me tell you that that good deed feeling withered away when I saw the same woman drinking her coffee and reading a newspaper at my gate. Yes, we were on the same flight.
  2. If you’re at the gate, they’re probably not going to leave you. You will have a seat. Standing by the ticket counter when they’re calling first class passengers and you’re in Group 5, just means that people will either think you’re standing in line for first class (which means they’ll miss their boarding group) or they will have to step around you because you’re too eager to board the plane. Grab a chair in the terminal and enjoy your latte. You probably have another 10 minutes to wait.
  3. Again – you’re going to get off the plane. Promise. When the plane docks, there is no need for you to unbuckle your seatbelt, jump up, grab your overhead luggage … and then wait in the aisle for 20 minutes.
  4. These people who stand in the aisle for 20 minutes, you’ll see them rush off the plane. I’ve had people crawl over my luggage at this point. I’ve also had people crawl under my luggage as I’m in the process of taking it down from the overhead bins. It takes 10 seconds, but they just can’t wait that long. Maybe they have another flight to catch? Probably not. Just wait your turn to get off the plane. Again, if you’re worried about missing a connecting flight, inform the airline attendant. Don’t be one of those yahoos who trample over people because they have to get off the plane immediately. These are the same people you’ll see at baggage claim waiting for their luggage.
  5. Now that we’re at baggage claim, let’s all hover over the belt. You know, because it’s going so fast, you might miss that your luggage comes out of the window and whooshes right past you. Yes, I’m being sarcastic. If everyone would just take a few steps back, everyone would have a chance to grab their luggage without falling over people or hopping on the belt to avoid losing your bag on the first go-round. When you see your bag, you could simply step forward, grab it and then pull it back. I’ve seen people fall on the belt or race over people to grab their bags. Guess what? If you miss it, it’s coming back again in about 60 seconds. Patience.

In addition to patience, let’s examine common sense. We are going to back up and examine the security line. No lie, this past week, I followed a woman through the security gate who had metal studs on the shoulders of her shirt and all down her blue jeans. Seriously? Yes, you’re going to get a pat down. I’ve heard of a woman who had half a gun fused to her purse. Did she just “randomly selected” for further screening. Yes, ma’am.

Are you going to put your entire life in the overhead compartment when you board the plane? Did you not hear the flight attendant explicitly say how to load your luggage … like, five times? Large bag on top, smaller bag under the seat. If I board the plane and you have crammed your bag, purse, coat, shopping bag in the overhead compartment, I will rearrange your stuff. I may even be nice enough to ask whose it is and then hand it to you so you don’t have to get up. Don’t be an overhead compartment hog. If anything, wait until everyone has boarded the plane, then add your items overhead.

It may seem as if I have a lot of gripes, but flying can be so much more enjoyable if you have patience and common sense, and just a touch of courtesy and self-awareness.

You’re welcome,

CattyLiz