Thursday, December 27, 2012

Friend-zone and crappy metaphors

I'm sick of being friend-zoned.  I'm sick of looking around and seeing everyone else get paired up.  I'm sick of being over looked by men.  I want someone to want me.  I don't really want to be friends. 

I feel like I'm alone on Noah's Ark.  Even the flipping mice have partners and I'm alone.  Well I'm sick of it.  I write crappy metaphors, but Christmas always brings this out in me.  I spend Christmas with my best friend's family (as I do every single holiday, every year) and every time I end up feeling like Charlie Bucket standing outside of a candy shop, wanting the same candy every single damn other kid is eating, but I can't have any.  And I'm the only one who can't.  Everyone else can have all the f-ing candy they want, but I'm just standing there, smelling the smell, seeing people eat, slowly starving to death.  Well I'm done.  Charlie found a dollar, bought a candy bar and wound up with the whole flipping factory.  I'll settle for the dollar so I can enjoy the one piece of candy.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


A year ago I made a resolution to spend more time with my single friends.  At the time I thought this was simply because I have more in common with single girls than with my recently married friends.  Leah had been going out almost weekly with a series of men she met online, including one who is now a friend and one she's been dating for almost a year.  I couldn't identify what was bothering me, or why I wanted to spend more time with my single friends.  All of my friends are amazing, single or not.  Most of the time they even manage to make me forget that I have no family.  I have a fantastic, safe and comfortable place ot live when it's not that long ago I thought I would be living out of my car.  I have my cat, who is very happy that i pay for her food.  What more could I possibly want or need?
Then, a few months ago, I was going to a friend's party adn I planned on at least trying to flirst with him, to see if he was interested.  He's cute and nice it seemed worth the effort.  Instead I met a new guy.  He was cute and nice, and best of all, clearly interested in me.  We talked the whole night, long past when I should have gone home.  He walked me to my car and asked fo rmy number.  He texted within a half hour to make sure I had gotten home safely and to tell me he enjoyed meeting me.  We texted every day.  We went on a date within days of meeting, and for a goodnight kiss, he kissed my hand.  It was crazy.  It was intense.  And within weeks I tumbled head over heels.  he wasn't the kind of guy I imagined myself with.  But I didn't care.
But. And of course there's a but.  Within a few more weeks our dates stopped being times where we talked and cuddled and watched movies and started being times where he sat physcially seperate from me and worked hard to not feel anything.  I'm a physical person.  I missed touching him.  I missed te smell of him.  I missed feeling like he wanted me around.  Even though I had a boyfriend, I was suddenly feeling that unidentifiable feeling again.  And then one day he told me he was ambivalent about it.  I could only take it to mean me.  So I left.  And now I can identify that feeling.  It's lonelin ess.  I'm lonely.
So, here we are.  Days from the new year, from a new chance to make resolutions, to improve.  And I look back and realize I'm in the same boat I was in this time last year.  I weigh within ten pounds of the what I weighed last Christmas.  I continue to live on Leah's mercy and kindness.  The big improvement is that I know what this feeling that has been weighing me down is.  Now.  To figure out what to do about it.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hey! Crappy Poetry!

He says he wants to talk, help, be there
Would he feel the same if he saw what I see
The ugly core at the heart of me
Shields and masks and mirrors to fake depth.
He thinks he’s looking down,
Seeking something that isn’t there
Sacrificed in the name of normal
Spread, cut,
Bled on the altar of expectations
He’s looking for something I can’t have back
The woman I was, before reality took all I am
All I was
All I could be
Left me dry, withered in the sun
A shell with nothing inside

You see these positive things, a glowing gem you shouldn’t handle
But that fades and soon you’ll see behind the tricks
The mystery that intrigues isn’t real
Cliché sounds reimagined when you have high expectations and your mind is clouded with sex
Someday you’ll see the truth for what it is
There’s nothing new here
Nothing to truly hold
Your attention will wander and you’ll be gone
I’ll be lost, cut free
Aching, needing, wishing
Would rather not feel at all than to feel what I know is coming
But it feels so good when you’re near
You make me forget the truth you don’t know yet
Remembering cuts me deep
I want to cry out with the pain

I can’t hide from you
The plummet below waiting for me to fall
Knowing that I will
That the end is inevitable
I can’t hold on forever
You see what I never bare
That my fingers are shaking, holding to the edge of it all
Grasping, begging for help that no one can give
While everything crumbles
Raining down burying me
No one else can see me fading, falling, slipping away
Wanting to just let go and let it wash me away
Knowing I have to stay strong
Pretend there’s no fall
That my world is where the pretty people live
That I don’t struggle just to stay awake
Stay here
Every moment I’m swept away, fighting not to stay but to pretend
I haven’t already given in

The depths, the heights
Is the one worth the other
The cost of feeling your arms around me
Is almost to high when you push me away
You rub me raw
Your scrape against the inside of me
Painful pleasure
Pleasured pain
Knowing I can’t be what you need
Someday I know you’ll see
What aggravates is truly me
Someday soon.

Waves crash over me
I barely stay afloat
Want to let go
Stop swimming in the depths
Pray to surrender

Suddenly feel solid ground again
Catch my breath
Start to build
To hope
To feel

Unexpectedly the ground collapses
Crumbles away
Tumbles around me
Leaving me clinging to the edge
Foundation raining down on me
Staring down at the depth that welcomes me
Feeling my grip fade
Want to let go
Let it take me

I want to fall through the void
Wake on the other side

Remember when
When you saw me
Wanted me
Kissed me and held me.
When did I become invisible
I want to be seen
To be important to you, to someone
But instead I’m standing here bare
Showing my soul
And you don’t care
Inside your own head
Drunk, high, and unaware
Slipping away, letting go.
I can’t hold on the in the face of your ambivalence
Can’t make you want me
Wouldn’t if I could
Someday someone will want me
Won’t make me fight invisible dragons
Won’t cheer for me to lose
Won’t tell me not to fall.
Someday, someone will beg me to let go and fall for him.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My Poor Friends :(

 I generally don’t think I deserve for anyone to care about what I need, that my needs are the least important of anyone else’s.  I think that in my friendships this works out well for those around me.  When we go out, I very rarely argue about things like where we should eat, or what we should do, because I’m usually just happy to be with my friends and thus I’m willing to do whatever other people want to do.  Recent events however have made me realize, at least sometimes, that I do deserve to have my own needs cared for.  Which is causing me stress in many of my relationships as I get cranky about being overlooked when it’s not my friends that are changing, it’s me.  I’ve been trying to focus on using my words if I’m upset or if I truly want something, but I think that just confuses my friends who are unaccustomed to me speaking up for what I want.  Especially since I’m still learning and thinking about this, so I am very quiet about it and don’t usually say anything at the time to the people who are doing it, if I get ignored.  I tend to just say it’s fine and then do whatever I’m told.  But then I go home cranky because this small part of me is starting to think that I deserve to have people consider me, but it’s not a big enough part of me to demand that people actually do so.  And then I feel like a jerk because, I feel like I’m expecting people to read my mind.  And that is why I feel bad for every single person I know right now.  Good luck!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


I went on mini-break this weekend.  I asked everyone I knew where a great place to relax and get away from all the distractions of life is, and wound up staing at a ski-resort.  Since it's the off season , it was pretty cheap adn it was super nice.  Except for the part on Monday morning where they cleaned up breakfast an half hour early and I wound up having to eat at McDonald's because I needed food so I didn't pass out.
It was awesome though.  Technically I still have a few hours on my vacation timer, so I might still meet my writing goal.  We'll see how the rest of today plays out.  I wanted to make two painting and write 10,000 words.  I got three paintings done.  One is okay, but the subject material isn't really my normal taste.  I made it for a friend and I think she'll like it.  One I think I'll like when it's done, but I paint in oils and they take time to dry so I didn't quite finish it.  It's a present for someone too, so hoepfuly it turns out well.  The last one I hate.  Like hate.  Like I need to go to a bonfire so I can burn it.  Or I could just paint over it I guess, but that isn't quite the total destruction I want for th steaming piece of crap taking up room in my car.  I also go a little over 7,000 words written.  Do you know what 7,000 words looks like?  Do you know what they feel like?  Especially when they're words for like a novel, not just bathering about my day, but the creation of actual characters, dialogue, description, all those little things that make a words into a story?  I know exactly what they look like.  They look like I bled inside my computer.  I'm not sharing. 
I will however share some pictures...
Me just after I wrote my first 5,000 words

Every time I went out I saw a deer.  I think it must ahve been teh same one each time, because by the end of the weekend I accidentally walked right up to it and it let me get within five feet.  I could have pet a wild deer y'all!

Everything up here is a meandering path.  Like everything.  It's probably because it's a "mountain" but I like to think it's because it was a good metaphor for me.

This is the view at the head of the hiking trail I used when I needed a writing break.  I love that tree, I think it looks so cool!

This is the view I saw looking out at each day while I was writing.  It's amazing I got any work done with that to look at huh?

The bench and the view where I wrote this weekend

Another take on the view from "my" writing bench

This is the first time I saw that bench.  I knew instantly that this was where I would be working this weekend.  And to be fair, I did do some work in my hotel room, but most of the next 5,000 words were written here,a nd several paintings were at least sketched out on that bench.  What I'm saying is that it's a magic bench.

Monday, November 5, 2012

I suppose I should change all the parts where it says "Today" to read "Yesterday" but I'm lazy. So I'm not going to.

Today a strange woman barged into my hotel room. No knock, no pleasant "housekeeping". She just walked in hours after I'd told housekeeping not to bother. She immediately left, didn't even make it through the door. But still. Creepy!
Today I barely made it out of my room. Just sat there all morning, all afternoon, and most of the evening. Didn't write either. Finished a painting & then read someone else's blog. Eventually I realized how unproductive I was, so I went for a walk with the intention of following that up with a swim. Spent the next two hours reading blog archives instead. I have to write 6,000 more words! By three on tomorrow. Technically I check out at noon, but I have plans half way home @ five, so I don't have to leave until three and I can write anywhere as long as my computer is charged.
Today I introduced myself to a stranger as a painter & writer, here for inspiration.
Today I got nowhere near my word goal. But I went back & edited what I'd already written, which I never do because I'm pretty sure "edit" means "violently delete in a fit of rage". Wound up liking what I have though even if it's nowhere near enough.
Today I was people watching at dinner and saw a woman blatantly nibble on a man's arm. Why? Why the arm? Why in public? I have a lot of questions but mostly, why??

Friday, October 26, 2012

Lesson Learned

Every day I feel like I’m learning something from my students.  Today we were painting and I watched one of my kids very carefully plan out what she wanted to do.  And then make a mistake.  If that had been me, at home, on my on painting, there would have been recriminations.  I would have ragged on myself for hours about what a talentless hack I am.  No, my two year olds don’t have that kind of vocabulary, but they are fully capable of getting upset or angry.  But instead of being angry, this little girl saw her mistake and embraced it.

We have to learn to be hard on ourselves.  In all my years of teaching, I’ve never seen a little one that was naturally hard on him-or-her-self.  I’ve learned the lesson of how terrible I can be quite well in the last thirty years and I’ve forgotten that sense of amazement my kids show me every day- the awe of “Ms. Tina!  I did it!” that I hear from them.  I don’t record my successes in my head.  I record my failures.  And the accumulated pile of failures is what I normally learn my lessons from, instead of learning from my achievements the way my kids do.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


I didn't like the part where I couldn't go roller skating last night like I wanted. I didn't like the part where I had to get up at five this morning. I did like the part where life was awesome.

Before the run

During the run people kept asking em to take their picture (it wasn't timed and we were there for fun), so I finally asked one of them for a picture of me

Me, Leah and Leta

Friday, October 12, 2012

Unicorn Success Club

Climbing out of the abyss, I didn’t mention my big achievement last month.  I ran the Brookfield ZooRunRun for the Conservation Fund.  Although I didn’t meet my fundraising goal, I exceeded my fitness goal.  I planned on averaging thirteen minute miles, and managed twelve and a half minute miles.  I planned on forty-five minutes and finished in forty-one.
Sarahmason and I- unicorns instead of bunny ears :)

Just before the run

Pretending to run, so we could get a picture 
Totally posed, crossing the finish line (which we did not actually do together, but a very nice woman agreed to take our picture)
Next up? Sunday morning I'm walking the Color Run in downtown Chicago with most of The Unicorn Success Club.  We're just walking, no fitness goals, no plans to achieve a miracle.  Just walking in the early morning and getting showered with awesome.

(Also, the ZooRunRun puts me at 6.4 miles on my goal to 10 miles and Double Unicorn Success.  By Sunday afternoon I'll be at 9.6.)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Not Pretty Enough"

Before my descent into chaos I started to write about personal theme songs.  To me that’s the music that plays inside my head, like a soundtrack to my life.  I don’t really know if other people experience this, but music is a strong influence in my life.  I have to be careful of what I listen to because it impacts my life in a strong way.  For instance, I previously posted that one of my personal themes is Kasey Chambers’ “Not Pretty Enough”.  Because the videos don’t seem to be playing the way I want them to, and I’m not far enough out of the abyss yet to have the energy to look for a better video, I’ll include some lyrics-

I live, I breathe, I let it rain on me
I sleep, I wake, I try hard not to break
I crave, I love, I've waited long enough
I try as hard as I can

Am I not pretty enough
Is my heart to broken
Do I cry too much
Am I too outspoken
Don't I make you laugh
Should I try it harder
Why do you see right through me

I laugh, I feel, I make believe it's real
I fall, I freeze, I pray down on my knees
I hope, I stand, I take it like a man
I try as hard as I can
The key to what makes this song so impactful to me is not in the idea that she’s not pretty, it’s in the idea that she’s downright invisible.  She cries out several times (in the chorus and then repeats it about five times at the end of the song) “Why do you see right through me?”.  She’s doing the best she can, just struggling through life, and yet she’s invisible, whomever she is singing about doesn’t just not return her emotion, he doesn’t even know she’s there.  And I’ve been there.  Yearning for something, for someone, and knowing that no matter what I do, I can’t have it.  And the thing is, I’m so used to being that invisible girl that I’ve grown used to it.  I don’t like it when people look at me.  I don’t like when people are aware of me, and I go to some extremes to insure that people don’t see me.  I’vewritten before about my theory of “fake Tina” and “real Tina” but there’s more to it than just the way I act.  For a long time I dyed my hair big bold colors (I was a particular fan of jet black), wore outrageous clothes trying to keep all the attention on “fake Tina”.  “Real Tina” has been out in the open a lot more recently, but I’ve spent all that time trying to develop a Tina that is unnoticeable because I don’t want to draw attention.  Although, apparently there is a flaw, because I think I’ve been noticed.

I started this post with the idea that I would write about other personal themes, but I’ll have to leave it for another night, and another mindframe.  Because now I’m off to listen to a forbidden song, and dwell on… things I’m not talking about yet.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

I'm back (I hope)!!

So the last few months I’ve been feeling burned out on life.  Not one single thing seemed to go the way I wanted it to and it took more energy just to get up in the morning and go to work than I had to expend.  Thus there was no writing anything.  Every creative outlet, in fact, was barred to me because I was so worn out.  Which only wore me out more because I need to express myself through paint, or words, or photography.  I have to do something.  I finally realized I needed a break from the daily grind to recharge, to reenergize, to relearn what it is that makes me tick.  A break from every obligation of life- no people, no work, no plans.  Just me, my computer (and thus my novel), and a bag full of art supplies.  So I started Goggling, trying to find the perfect solution.  It turns out that when one is looking for a quiet getaway, Google only knows about two kinds- a spiritual retreat led by some sort of religious leader (and thus chock full of obligations) or a romantic getaway for two.  I struggled to figure out what a single girl who just wanted to be left alone was supposed to do.  But I finally found it.  And it’s even within my budget.  I don’t leave until November, but just knowing that I have a plan has helped the creative juices start flowing again.  I can feel plot lines wrap around me and characters that had fallen silent are whispering in my ear again.  I’m trying to refrain from writing to much about my novel (because it’s still very fragile and criticism can only break it at this point), but while I’m waiting to go on vacation to really dig back into it, I’m back to writing here.  Which is in itself a good sign.  I don’t promise any kind of regularity or even quality, but I’m hoping that I’m finally through the darkest part of my personal crazy.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Music themes

I mentioned last time that Leah's friend Allie is over this weekend.  Somehow, while we talked late at night, we got on the topic of "theme songs" not for like TV or movies, but for our own lives.It was a fun topic to talk about, but it was decided that my original choices for my personal themes were sad and I needed to add some better songs.
Being short of things that I'm ready to talk about at the moment (and believe me, I'm holding some stuff in that I want to share, but I'm going to dwell/overthink on it for awhile yet), I decided that I could post some music videos here. 

So here's my first choice of personal theme...

In case you can't watch video, that's from Les Miserables called On My Own.  I think of that song as one of my themes because I do this thing in my head where I imagine whole scenarios where the guy I like also likes me, but even while it makes me happy in the short term, I always know that it's not true and that the guy in question doesn't really feel think of me that way.  Usually it's a guy who knows me, who I would count as a friend, or close to one anyway, but I know in my heart that he's never once thought of me in "that" way.  Speaking of this, I can promise you that guys and girls can be friends without it being secretly about sex. 

My other choice is...

That's Kasey Chambers "Not Pretty Enough" which I think of for myself not because of the title, or thinking I'm not pretty, but because of the over all feeling she's singing about that she's basically invisible/unnoticeable.

I'll try to post a few of Leah's suggestions in the next couple of days, but in the meantime, if you have a suggestion feel free to leave me a comment!

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Have you ever looked around at the people you're about to go out with and decided not even try to look nice because no one in their right mind is going to spare you a second glance no matter what?  Tonight I went out with Leah (who if you don't know her, is tall, and gorgeous) and her friend from out of town, Allie.  Allie is even taller.  And gorgeous-er.  Like she looks like a model.  Like clearly the most beautiful woman I will ever meet in real life.  They put on cute tops and make-up.  I looked at them in the kitchen before we left and decided to go with a comfortable t-shirt and skip make-up altogether.  That's not meant to be saying anything bad about myself.  That lead in is to get to my point.  I was talking about Allie with a coworker today and mentioned how pretty she is.  My coworker said to me that it sounded like the coworker would hate Allie.  Because she's so pretty.  So my point is, why the devil do we do that?  Why do we, as women, decide to "hate" other women because they're pretty?  Why can't we all just support and love each other?  This is why men have always rule the world, because when men were busy making rules and establishing their dominance, women were busy arguing over who's the prettiest and hating each other for being "better" in some way. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

African Wild Dogs

Recently I wrote a post about the okapi at Brookfield Zoo, and the moment I first fell in love with an animal most people had never even heard of.  The okapi is not the only endangered animal at the zoo that I am in love with.  Another delightful animal is the African Wild Dog.  It wasn’t the first time I had watched the African Wild Dogs, but they were still a new animal for me, not high on the average zoo-goers list of animals to see, when I realized what a delight they are. 

On the day I remember, there was a group of young pups in the enclosure, and a docent standing outside.  She explained to me that the pups were the young of the two dominant dogs and that the beta male, the pup’s uncle, was actually submissive to them.  She was there to feed the dogs and as I watched the fully grown uncle stood aside and allowed the pups to eat before he did.  The docent also mentioned that the dominant dogs would leave the uncle to pup-sit while they were away hunting, and in that way he earned his food.

There remain in the wild somewhere between 3,000 and 5,500 African Wild Dogs where once there were 500,000.  The dogs are threatened by habitat loss and by the need of farmers to protect their flocks.

Please help the CZS Conservation Fund with their efforts to protect these and other endangered animals by clicking the link to my fundraising page-

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Brookfield Zoo RunRun

I'm so excited that I'm going to do the Brookfield Zoo RunRun again this year!  Last year it was the first 5k I had ever done, this year it will be the third time I'm doing such a thing, and I'm hoping to beat my time from last year's.  I'm also hoping to beat my fundraising from last year.  I raised $40 for the CZS Conservation Fund last year, and this year my goal is to raise $100. 
The reason I think this is a worthwhile cause, can best told as a story about something that happened the first year I was a member at Brookfield Zoo.  One day, as I wandered through the Habitat Africa Forest, I noticed this beautiful animal standing in her habitat. The okapi is a graceful member of the giraffe family, who looks like a cross between a zebra and a gazelle.

The signage was very clear that she is a shy animal, in fact so rarely seen that she is a symbol of cryptozoology (the search for animals whose existence had not been proven). I stood watching her for several minutes while she just stared at me. I whispered how beautiful she was and talked to her for several minutes, and slowly she walked up to the edge of her habitat and began rubbing on her cage as if she wanted me to pet her. Obviously I could not, in fact, pet her, but at that exact moment I fell in love.  Sadly, the okapi is on the endangered animal list.
From when I first read that she was endangered by habitat destruction, I knew I wanted to do something to help these beautiful animals thrive in the wild.  They, like most zoo animals, aren't meant to be confined to the small areas that zoos are forced to accomadate them in.  One of the interesting things about the okapi is how they protect their young.  The mother actually spends very little time with her young as she hides her infant and then leaves it so that predators are more likely to follow her than to find her young.  But in order for her to behave as she does in the wild, she needs a large space so she isn't to close to her infant. 
For a long time I didn't really know what I could do to help with conservation.  I didn't know that the Chicago Zoological Society had a conservation fund.  I read about the Zoo RunRun in my membership magazine several months later.  It probably wouldn't have stuck in my head as something I could do, except that by then I was walking on a regular basis with my friend Leah as part of my weight loss efforts.  Leah had mentioned to me on one of our walks her desire to run a 5k, just days before I read about the Zoo RunRun, and so events collided, and together with our friend Pirate Dr. Nurse Katie we walked the 5k last year in 45 minutes.
Please help me save the African habitat of the okapi, as well as the habitats of the more than 16,000 animals on the endangered list by donating to the CZS Conservation Fund on my fundraising page

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Grown up park day

Normally Leah, Sarah M and I have plans to go walking on Saturday mornings.  But yesterday morning Sarah M had other plans, so Leah and I were on our own.  Just as we were getting ready to head out, Leah asked me how I felt about going to the park instead of going for a walk.  which sounded awesome to me because don't really like walking that much.  so we drove to the closest "big" park to our house, but they really only had equipment for little kids and I wanted to swing.  Although we did notice that it might be a nice place to go for walks on Saturday mornings in the future.  (Sarah M., if you read this, we'll talk about this at trivia night!)  So then we had to drive to a whole other park.  Where we proceeded to spend half an hour riding on the "spinny wheel 'o' death" which is supposedly a safer equivelent of a merry go round, but definitely seems more like something that will kill you if you slip, the swings, and slide.  Then we really did go for a nice walk around the park.  It was awesome, and I totally think that we got at least as good of a workout from that as we do from our normal walk.  Therefore, I am adding grown-up park day to my list of fun things to do when bored and/or broke.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

One of the quotes I've been trying to focus on this is year is "Don't compare yourself to others, compare yourself to yesterday".  So I was trying to think about improvements I've made in the last year.
Last March someone took this picture of me-
Last time I went roller skating, Sarah Mason took this picture of me-
So, although I'm still not really where I want to be yet, I have made progress towards losing the weight I want gone.  So that's one improvement.  Also, note that in the first picture I'm sitting down on the beach, because that's the awesomest kind of thing I used to do.  In the second picture I'm out of my comfort zone, roller skating, because that's just how I roll now.  I also went rock climbing.
Did TWO awesome 5ks (btw, I'll be signing up for the zoo run again soon, and then I'll be asking for donations for the conservation fund!).
I hugged a guy dressed up as Bane at a Batman marathon (alright, going to the marathon might not really be getting out of my comfort zone, but hugging the hot dude in costume certainly is!)
So I guess what I'm trying to say, is that the me of today kicks the me of yesterday's ass.  And that is a comparison I should be able to get behind!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Hanging out with friends

The other night Sarah cancelled our Monday night walk in favor of dinner out with Rachel (that's me, Rach, and Sarah above).  It was an amazing night. Rachel is a super fun lady with no sense of embarrassment.  I can tell because she kept helpfully informing people that Panera had closed early, at the top of her lungs.  It was hilarious.  It was also fun because Rachel apparently thinks I'm a fun person, as evidenced by the fact that she called me "Fun Tina" a few times (Sarah, I know that's not exactly right, but I didn't want to post my last name).  Thinking about it, she has a point.  I have some great friends, and together we do awesome things.  I plan on keeping that in mind in the fu ture when I'm thinking about how much I suck.  Hopefully that will help keep me a little less crazy :)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dirty girl

Didn't I promise pictures from the Dirty Girl?  The professional ones are very expensive, but here's one someone took before, and a freebie from after.

I swear, I'm just ase dirty as the other girls, I just wore a special moisture wicking shirt that guided the dirt away from me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Good News

I feel I'm out of my funk, at least temporarily.  Saturday I had my birthday party, and so many of my friends came, and pretty much did what I wanted.  I couldn't help but feel special.  Especially since  my best friend had heard me say that no one ever brought me flowers and I really wanted that, so she brought me some.  And my roommate brought me daisies.  And another friend brought me flowers and a real lei (my party was a luau).  Every time I see or smell the flowers I grin like a moron.  It's nice to know that so many people cared so much about me.
 Doing the hula
 A group photo with me (notice the amazing lei!!)
 Leah in a coconut bra
Chris and John scoring major scavenger hunt points wearing a coconut bra

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Unicorn Success Club- The Dirty Girl

Sunday Katie and Leah and I did the Dirty Girl Mud Run.  It was a fantastic experience.  I can't wait to do it again next year actually.  The basic idea of the mud run is that it is a 5k with a variety of obstacles to be completed during the course.  There were professional photographers taking pictures, they'll be available for me to view on Friday.  I probably won't purchase them for you to see because they are very expensive.  But I do have a starting picture that we took.

That's Katie, me and Leah about a half hour before we started the run.  From the starting line we climbed hay bales, army crawled through muddy water pits, climbed up a wall, used a rope to get up a dirt "mountain", and went up and over a huge cargo net obstacle among other things.  Here's a picture as we crossed the finish line.
Basically, the best thing I could have done for the last weekend of my twenties!

(P.S. Leah and I saw Jenny Lawson, the orginator of the Unicorn Success Club, in Chicago recently and when we told her that was our running team name she told us we would be in Double Unicorn Success Club when we made ten miles- three down, seven to go!)

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Fourth of July!!

Yesterday a four year old told me a riddle.

Child: Do they have a fourth of July in Mexico?
Me: I don't know, do they?
Child: Of course they do, they call it Cinco de Mayo

Not exactly the way the joke is supposed to go, but pretty cute anyway. 
Celebrate the holiday by watching my favorite Fouth of July video, posted below.

and in case you've already seen that one, here's another.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Dirty Girl Is Tomorrow

Tomorrow Leah and I are leaving Elgin at like 5:30 in the morning for the Dirty Girl Run.  We're stopping at Starbucks on the way to pick up our other friend Katie.  So I emailed Katie and asked her what she wanted.  I totally thought she answered that she wanted three drinks.  I was wrong,  only wanted one, but it was pretty funny.
Hopefully I will have pictures and commentary about the Dirty Girl next week!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Personal Issues

Last weekend I had some friends over for a Mary Kay party that I won a few months ago.  It was a lot of fun, but... It was also a good opportunity for my poor friends to realize what's been going on in my head lately.  Even I hadn't really realized how bad it had gotten until the Mary Kay lady had to invent a new game called "throw things at Tina when she makes fun of herself" because I had been on myself so hard.  I kept talking about every part of myself being stupid or looking dumb, or just me in general being to dumb to apply makeup correctly.  According to my friends, it was bad.  The worst part was that compared to what's been going on in my head lately, it really wasn't all the bad.  So now that I'm more aware of it, I know I have to do something about it.  The problem being that now that I'm aware of it, it's one more thing for me to be down on myself for.
Also, now that all of my friends know about this crazy nonsense in my head, everything they say to me feels like it's in response to my head drama.  Almost like no comment can be made unless it is in some way going to be uplifting to me.  So then I feel like I'm not alot of fun to be around lately.
When Avengers came out I had been stuck in my head for about a month, and I took some time off to go to a day long marathon.  It took awhile to really get out of my head.  Iron Man Two caused some drama because Tony is dying and I think part of my problem is the uncertanity regarding my own medical issues, but all in all it helped.  For several weeks I was out of my head.  I could think again.  Unfortunately I'm back down even lower than I started.  I'm going to do it again at the end of July with a Batman marathon (this time with my friend Sarah Mason), so hopefully that will help again.  Clearly though, that's a short term solution.  I can't spend all my free time watching explosion-y action movies.  Plus I suspect I would eventually develop a resistence to it.  So now I'm on the lookout for a long term solution.  But, that's something to think about another time.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Trivia Night

Last night my friends and I went out to trivia night at our local bar, which is also one of my favorite restaurants.  Usually Kristin's brothers and Jessica's husband round out our group so that it's not quite so...estrogen-centric.  But, for a variety of reasons last night it was just us girls.  And we were awesome.  We came in fourth out of like ten, so not at the bottom of the pack at least.  We sucked at the music round (as we often do), and having at least one of the brothers would have helped us out a bit in the picture round (none of us knew who Moonlight was, and I read comic books, so...).  But fortunately one round was "cats" (the animals, not the musical) and one was bascially the nerdy book round (which, since most of us know each other through bookclub, worked out okay. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Well That Was Fun

So, I'm kind of digging steampunk right now. Do you know about this? It's like a cool, techy, vintage style with awesome little details (gears and dials and such) and I love it. Anyway, I found this fun dressup game where you can personalize the little lady and dress her in supercute steampunk stuff which amused me for hours until I had her every detail right (you can't see her stocking, but yeah I had to pick just the right ones). Here she is...

Now you go play, and then show me what you came up with.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Lit Fest

A few weeks ago I found out that one of my favorite bloggers(Jenny Lawson, aka the bloggess, whom I've written about before) was going to be in Chicago on her book tour (I loved her book btw).  I was very excited and for days I searched for dates and information and couldn't find anything.  And then Leah texted me "We're going to see Jenny Lawson on the tenth at two."  That's all, but it's all the information I needed.  Turns out it was a good thing Leah grabbed the tickets when she did, because by the end of that day they were sold out.  So on the tenth (which was Sunday) Leah, Jessica, and I set out to the Publisher's Row Lit Fest.  Which was awesome.  It was an amazing street fair full of tents and booths of books, often manned by authors who would sign their books for you.  There was a company that sold t-shirts that were sports shirts with author's names on the back instead of an athlete's name, and a symbol from their most famous work instead of a team symbol (i.e.a raven for Poe).  Those were awesome and I should have bought one, but I didn't because I thought I would have time to go back later after I'd seen everything.  Then we went to see Jenny who was having a moderated conversation with another author (Rachel Bersche, who wrote MWF seeking BFF which I also enjoyed).  It was everything I wanted it to be and then at the end we waited and had both authors sign books (or in my case, my nook).  Leah mentioned to Jenny that a few of us have formed the Unicorn Success Club walking club to do 5k's (as I mentioned before) and Jenny told us that when we had walked ten miles we would be in Double Unicorn Success Club.  Which a little bit made me squee.  Also, I had planned on mentioning that myself, but then I geeked out at the last minutes and couldn't really speak to the like famous and amazing author who I'm a little in awe of.   So I'm pretty pleased that Leah mentioned that.
When we got back home Leah and I went to a sushi place recommended by a three year old in my class, where the sushi comes around on a conveyor belt.  It was pretty yummy.
All in all, a great day!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Happy Birthday Kristin

A few days ago it was my best friend's birthday.  She decided she wanted everyone to go to a Cougars game for the event (the Cougars are a minor league baseball team- I think.  I don't really watch sports.)  So we're all walking back to the lawn seats and one of my friends* and I are basically acting like fourteen year old boys and laughing at the slightest innuendo, like when Chris mentioned he liked to mow the lawn and I was all "hee-hee, mow the lawn" and then convulsing with laughter.  And then the universe gave me an early birthday present.  The lawn we were headed to was situated so that every time we got up or sat back down we had to see this giant sign the read "Wallace Mortion Third Base Tent"** and all I can do is laugh.  Every. Single. Time. I see it.  My friend even said "ha, we all know what happens down there huh?" and made me laugh about it even harder.  What makes the whole thing even greater is that the friend who was also in a dirty mind kind of mood is generally the most...conservative of this group of friends, so I generally don't expect her to be in that kind of mood.
Also my friend J had had surgery a few days prior, but he didn't want us to treat him any differently than normal.  But all I wanted was for him to stay put and stop trying to walk around the concession-y area of the stadium (is that what it's called? As I mentioned, I don't really watch sports.)  I'm pretty sure at one point I threatened to punch him in the knee if he didn't just sit still and watch the game.

*I hope you appreciate the fact that I left you anonymous in this entry, because I would prefer to call you by name :)
**in the interest of full disclosure I should admit that I don't actually remember the male name, it was definitely a guy's name, but I don't remember what the name was.   Sorry.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Well now I can't wait until December

I love musicals.  Like, love them.  And my very favorite one is Les Mis.  There's nothing I don't love about Les Mis in fact.  The music, the characters, the setting, the plot...all is magical.  The problem with Les Mis is that for all of the years that I've loved the story there have existed two movies.  One with acting and no singing, and one with singing and no acting.  Well come December 14, that will cease to be a problem for me!

A quick overview of the cast-
Sacha Baron CohenSacha Baron Cohen ...
Anne HathawayAnne Hathaway ...
Amanda SeyfriedAmanda Seyfried ...
Helena Bonham CarterHelena Bonham Carter ...
Eddie RedmayneEddie Redmayne ...
Hugh JackmanHugh Jackman ...
Samantha BarksSamantha Barks ...
Russell CroweRussell Crowe ...

Sunday, June 3, 2012


When I moved in with Leah, between the two of us we had four pets.  Leah had two cats (Mad Catter and Mia) and a dog that looks like an ewok (Zoe) and I have my darling cat (Buffi the Mouse Slayer).  Sadly we are now down to three pets because Mad Catter was nineteen and the time eventually came that Leah had to put her down.  So now that everyone is comfortable with the new arrangement, Leah needs to redecorate her upstairs in a pretty serious way (nineteen year old cats are like hundred year old people, but they don't make Depends for cats.  If you know what I mean.)  So two weekends ago we started moving furniture and painting.  Then we painted after work Monday through Wednesday.  Then we declared a break and basically didn't move for a few hours.  Then we picked up our rollers again and finished off the painting.  And now everything looks great.  Except we pulled up the carpet before teh painting and the new carpet doesn't come until next weekend.  Which means that poor Leah is living on a mattress and box spring on the floor of the guest room, surrounded by pretty much every piece of furniture from all the upstairs rooms (an office, a guest room, and her bedroom) surrounding her until she literally has to sit on the foot of the bed and scoot back into bed at night.  And she's stuck like that for another week.
So, in that context, let me tell you the hilarious thing that happened a few nights ago.  Leah and I were standing in the kitchen, still in our painting clothes.  Which for me is an old pair of workout shorts, tied tight, and an over size t-shirt.  Zoe was so excited to see us in a palce where we could pay attention to her and she started jumping at me.  Which was fine.  Until she started tugging on my shorts and I realized that while she was jumping she had managed to untie my shorts, so when she started tugging, she pulled my pants off.  In the middle of the kitchen.  In front of the window.  While Leah stood there.  Watching me.  So I pulled my pants back up and tied them.  But not tight enough because Zoe started tugging again, and totally pulled my pants down again.  Awesome.

Monday, May 21, 2012

My Take On The Unicorn Success Club

***This post is hugely inspired by The Bloggess and her post on The Unicorn Success Club***

So I recently found out about this awesome thing called The Color Run, which of course I wanted to do.  After all, I already know that I can do a 5k because I've done one before.  And this is a 5k with literal color explosions throughout.  So I suggested it to the friends that I walk with, as well as suggesting the perfect team name (borrowed from The Bloggess)- The Unicorn Success Club.  Later, one of those friends was talking about doing the Dirty Girl Run (which is another 5k, but this one interspersed with obstacles like a rope ladder, a mud pit, and a water pit).  I mentioned that I had also heard of this and wanted to do it.  She has since suggested that we form an AWESOME group of 5k people and start walking (and eventually running) 5k's to raise money for charity and basically be awesome.  So, I think we're doing it.  We're going to be the Unicorn Success Club and we're going to be awesome.

Dirty Girl Run
Raise money for: the National Breast Cancer Foundation

Color Run
Raise money for: charity TBA but will probably be Milwaukee based

Brookfield Zoo Run Run
Raise money for: CZS Conservation Fund

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Didn't I Promise You a Post About Rock Climbing?

As part of my previously mentioned "hang out with friends without it revolving around food" campaign a few months ago Leah and I went rock climbing.  That was so much fun and I'm a little disappointed in myself that I haven't gone back.  Leah bought these half price tickets for full lessons.  We learned how to belay (I'm pretty sure that means tie ropes to yourself and jump off of very high things), and then I got to jump off of this like twenty foot wall with Leah holding the other end of the rope to keep me from tumbling to the ground.  It took a few minutes for me to go ahead and jump off that wall, but once I did it, I loved it.  I didn't mind the sore muscles or the rope burn because it was so much fun.  Sorry I didn't tell write about it earlier, or that I can't tell you anymore about it.  It's been kind of a long time.  Sad.

There are other pictures, but sadly they are locked on my other, now broken, computer.  I will try to get them off and post them later.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Ms. Tina, Preschool Teacher

Remember when I said that I was stuck in my own head and that it was an unpleasant place for me to be?  One of the things that I've been stuck on lately is that I have financial and life dreams beyond being Ms. Tina, preschool teacher.  I don't always want to live in a friend's basement.  Someday I wouldl ike to own my own home.  I would like to be able to afford to repay my student loans (which have grown to something like thirty thousand dollars at this point).  I would like to feel respected.  One of the worst parts about being a preschool teacher is that pretty much no one respects my job.  Parents think that we're basically babysitters.  Everyone else just thinks that I play with kids all day and get paid for it.  When I'm not being all down on myself, I remember that I stand as an advocate for children.  That I give the voiceless a voice.  That I teach the builiding block of civilization (using words instead of violence to solve disagreements, toilet use, table manners, etc.).  What I need to do is either commit fully to being Ms. Tina, preschool teacher or find something else to do in order to fund my lifestyle.  For now I'm trying to commit to being a preschool teacher.  I'm focusing on the importance of my job.  I borrowed a CD called "I'm a Teacher, Not a Babysitter" full of tracks like the title one or "Powerless Children Need Powerful Friends", tracks that remind me why I became a preschool teacher in the first place.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Roller Skating

Lately I've been trying to focus on hanging out with my friends in times and places that don't revolve around eating.  My latest effort at this has been to get my friends to go roller skating, which is awesome because it's a great workout, no one eats while skating, and it's great nostalgic fun.  Like who didn't love roller skating when you were young?  Everyone loved it!  Of course the music is kind of loud for like talking to friends, but the roller rink we like is super close to my friend J's house, so afterwards we went over there to hang out.  Of course, we did also go out for sushi.  And ate a veggie tray at my friend J's house.  So hanging out without eating, didn't really work this time, our day didn't really revolve around food.  It revolved aroudn having fun with friends and since we hung out for like eight hours, we actually had to eat.
Last time we went roller skating it was fun, but there were issues.  The rink wasn't exactly safe due to holes in the surface of the rink floor as well as blatent safety rule violations (tag playing which was instigated by rink employees, and teenagers skating backwards and going opposite of traffic), which resulted in Kristin falling and hurting her knee.  This time we went to a different rink and the rink surface was smooth and perfect, the rules were carefully enforced, and there were no crowds.  In fact there were quite a few grown ups skating.  Which was awesome.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Avengers Marathon

Last weekend the new Avengers movie came out.  Which I was super excited about.  I was so excited that I took the day after the release off so I could go to a midnight release of the movie.  Then I found out that some theaters were holding day long marathons the day before so in one day you could watch Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, dIron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America, all leading up to a midnight showing of TheAvengers.  I didn't take a vacation last year, and I've been stuck in my head lately.  This is not a good thing for me, because insdie of my head is full of bad thoughts about myself, and comparisions to other people that are very biased against myself.  This is something that happens to me sometimes, and the one best thing that always gets me out of my head is watching action movies (adreneline, testosterone, and explosions- the perfect combination to make sure I can't really think about I packed a huge bag of high protein, low carb snacks (you know in case of fainting) and jogged around the parking lot during the forty-five minute breaks between movies.  Before the movies even started it was great because I found a seat where I would be able to stretch my legs out, and where I was sitting right in front of Wil Wheaton in disguise and his friend Hot Greek Frat Boy.  they were fun to chat with a little bit, even if Hot Greek Frat Boy like Captain America best (I prefer Iron Man myself).  I was also in front of and slightly to the left of this group-

Yeah, that's a group of people in costume.  They're missing Iron Man, but it's still awesome.  I talked to them for a little while because I had to find out where my favorite character was.  They just said that the Iron Man suit was to complicated to work out.  Then I asked how they decided who would be who.  Apparently they all wanted to be the Hulk, but decided to let the muscle-est guy have that honor.  Then Thor went to the guy who already had his own beard, Loki went to the guy who already looked exactly like Loki, Black Widow went to the girls (even thoguh Capt. America there wanted the honor), and the last guy got Capt. America.
I Facebooked after pretty much every movie, and really all I could say was that it was teh best day ever and I was having a great time.  Which is still pretty much all I can say.  I can't wait to see The Avengers again when it's not twelve in the morning and I can focus a little better.  Fortunately, my friends and I are going for Jamie's birthday next weekend.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Where have I been lately???

So it has clearly been to long since I last blogged, because when I went to sign on today everything was in chaos and there's some kind of crazy new thing going on. I took me like five minutes to figure out how to compose a post.
Excuses for not blogging-
1. I'm tired and cranky and I don't want to bog my blog down with all that nonsense
2. I changed to gmail and now I have to sign out of my email in order to write a post and that annoys me
3. I passed out a few weeks ago while I was out with friends and I didn't know how to tell the internet 4. I'm pretty sure that I see the people who read my blog like every week and if they read it online, what will we talk about in person?
Oh, what's that? You want to hear more about the passing out thing? Alrighty then. So the other week I was all bored with life and I texted my friend Sarah (not the one you know about, but the other one that I've never mentioned before. Except that time that she was a new year's resolution and it was a little creepy, but also a little awesome) because I wanted to see if she wanted to hang out. Which she did. So we decided to go for a walk and then go get some pizza for dinner. After taking a fairly gentle two and quarter mile walk we picked up Leah and headed for pizza. So we're standing around waiting for our table and I was all "Man, I'm hungry. I should eat some of these peanuts conviently located on this table right here next to me". So I did. Except then when I had a peanut in my mouth I apparently passed out a little bit. When I came too, there was an ER doc who happened to be waiting to get his seat standing nearby and he was all "We should call the paramedics. Sit down. Don't cross your legs." But I'm poor and I don't have insurance, so I was all "I'm fine. I just need to eat something." and then I passed out again and threw in a "small seizure" you know, for the fun of it. So then the paramedics really did have to come and my blood pressure was some ridiculous thing like 60/53- which is apparently scary. And the I worked out this mathematical word problem about paramedics- If a regular guy is X points of hot on a scale of 1-100, he gains 10 points for being a paramedic and 20 points for actively helping me or one of my friends in a medical emergency. Meanwhile I am normally Y points of hot on a scale of 1-100 and lost 20 points for being "grey and scary looking". What is the maximum level of hot that the regular guy can be and still not be too hot for me? I should point out that I wrote that word problem while sitting in the ambulance, although I cleverly didn't state it out loud to my friend's until I was safely home and away from the hot paramedic. So anyway, while I was sitting in the ambulance tyring to convince the paramedics that I didn't need to go to the hospital and that I totally promised to go to the doctor ASAP Sarah bought the pizza we had intending on eating at the pizza place and we all went back to Leah's house. But my pizza had an odd texture and Leah made me spaghetti-o's. Because she's the best homeowner/roommate a girl could have :)
I did go to the doctor and her basic response was "We may never know why you passed out because all your test results are normal. Eat more protein." So that's what I'm doing. I promise to get around to that promised edition of "Things that made me laugh" as soon as I can.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Body Image Again

As part of my ongoing campaign to convince myself that I'm not actually a giant whale, I visited this website today. It was fun to make the model look as much like me as I could. Here are the pics I came up with-
My original weight (245)

My current weight (185)

My goal weight (145)

I don't really have anything else to say. Just that I wanted to show those pics to you.

Last Week It Was Racism, This Week It's Sexism- I Look Forward To A Better World, Without Any -Isms

Gender selection

Reshma Bano wails as she holds the body of her 3-month-old daughter Neha Afreen outside a hospital morgue in Bangalore, India, April 11. Afreen was admitted to the hospital on April 8 after allegedly being battered by her father for being born a girl. Police said the father confessed to the crime and was in custody, according to media reports.

Monday, March 26, 2012


I was all prepared today with another edition of "Things that made me laugh". I've been saving them on my phone, in a notebook in my purse, and on my laptop. But instead, I'm going to share a news article that hit my homepage this evening. Before I share the article, you need to know the person whom it is about. The beautiful young lady pictured here is Amandla Stenberg. She play Rue in the new Hunger Games movie (the one I wrote enthusiastically about just yesterday). Honestly, she is almost exactly as I pictured Rue from the book.

And here is the news article I promised-
Actors Amandla Stenberg and Dayo Okeniyi definitely hit it big when they landed the roles of Rue and Thresh, respectively, in "The Hunger Games."

But the relative unknowns playing tributes from District 11 in the dystopian saga (which scored a historic $155 million its opening weekend and rave reviews) are the subject of an offensive debate among a few, totally clueless fans of Suzanne Collins' blockbuster young adult novel, as pointed out at Jezebel.

Why? Although both Rue and Thresh are described as having "dark brown skin" in the book, some bigoted fans, oddly enough, object that both Stenberg and Okeniyi are black.

Complained one fan on Twitter: "Why does rue have to be black not gonna lie kinda ruined the movie."

Added another ignorant fan: "Why did the producer make all the good characters black?"

"Why is Rue a little black girl? Stick to the book, dude," said another.

In something of a spoiler tweet, another fan admitted he was "racist" when he learned of tragic Rue's racial identity.

Another tweeter even uttered the "N" word in decrying adorable African-American actress Amandla Stenberg's race.

"I'm still pissed that Rue is black," wrote another.

"Ewwww rue is black?? I'm not watching," another person wrote.

The Tumblr blog "Hunger Games" Tweets was first to decry the shocking, offensive trend. "The reactions are all based on feelings of disgust," the blogger wrote. "These people are MAD that the girl that they cried over while reading the book was 'some black girl' all along. So now they're angry. Wasted tears, wasted emotions. ... This is a BIG problem."

I would also like to add a few things from the "Hunger Games Tweets" Tumblr mentioned above (because of course I went there to catch up on what was going on before I blogged myself!). Here are a few more quotes-

" [quoted from someone else]-The best way to keep racism alive is to talk about racism.

Nice!! So what you’re saying is that when we see racism running rampant over something as trivial as movie casting, we should all just sweep it under the rug and look in the other direction because there’s nothing to see here and everything is peachy-keen!!

Right, but… no. I’m going to address it and do what I can to combat it. And yes, that involves collecting these tweets and leaving the big ugly mess right here for everyone to see so that we all know there’s a big problem out there and it’s not to be ignored."

Here's the complete quote from the news article, which is actually what I went looking for-
"These people are MAD that the girl that they cried over while reading the book was “some black girl” all along. So now they’re angry. Wasted tears, wasted emotions. It’s sad to think that had they known that she was black all along, there would have been so sorrow or sadness over her death.

There are MAJOR TIE-INS to these reactions and the injustices that we see around the world today. I don’t even need to spell it out because I know that you’re all a smart bunch.

This is a BIG problem. Think of all the murdered children. Think of all the missing children that get NO SCREEN TIME on the news.

It is NOT a coincidence."

The above quotes are from Hunger Games Tweets and the article can be found by clicking here.

I don't have much more to say beyond what the author of Hunger Games Tweets has said. I honestly am struggling with the fact that there are so many people STILL who feel that the color of someone's skin makes them less of a person, or less sympathetic. The idea that someone would not care about the death of a little twelve year old (fictional) girl because she's black literally blew my mind. I'm going to end this post with a few screen captures from Hunger Games Tweets (follow the link above to see the context). It's ridiculous and sad and it's kind of breaking my heart that people can still think like this. (Also, for clarification in case you haven't read the books, while I would be upset that people can think like that no matter what, the character of Rue is CLEARLY described as having "dark brown skin" more than once in The Hunger Games).