The Casting Dock

Category — thoughts on society

I pledge allegiance to the United States of America

My patriotism is brimming over these days.

The Olympics themselves would have been enough to do it-talk about inspiring pride in your fellow Americans! I have had the great pleasure with my flexible summer schedule to watch a whole heckuva lot of the Olympics this go around and I have savored every minute.

But in addition to London 2012, my summer reading list has included some sure-to-ignite-American-pride selections, the most recent of which was Lone Survivor, the story of Operation Redwing, a Navy Seals special operation in Afghanistan in 2005  gone horribly awry.

As the title indicates, it is written by the only survivor.

I read this book in 24 hours. Beyond the first 80 pages which are setting the stage and giving some background info, it is absolutely captivating. I could not put it down. Even knowing full well ahead of time that only one man was going to walk out alive, I could not help but root against all hope that there would be a surprise miraculous ending with bloodshed spared.

And yet, in the end, it was truly a miracle that even one soul survived.

I was amazed at this brotherhood of Navy Seals-the unbelievable training, the uninhibited love for country and for fellow Seals, and the absolutely unparalleled mental toughness. With complete sacrifice and devotion, these guys represent so much of what is awe-inspiring to me within the human spirit, the ability to continue on against incredible odds and unimaginable pain all because of a belief in something greater than oneself, something worth the ultimate sacrifice.

Now it’s certainly not the best written book I’ve ever read. The author’s proud Texas heritage (and vernacular) is strong and, unfortunately (in my opinion), it is not without heated, overt political opinions particularly on the Rules of Engagement for war and the liberal media. Given the context of the story and his experience, I understand his perspective completely, though I know it would certainly rub some people the wrong way. I wish he would have laid off of it a bit though, not because it bothered me, but because I think it cast a shadow over the story itself, which is unbelievably moving, inspiring, and heart-breaking.

I don’t typically do the book review or recommendation thing on the blog, but this story evoked such pride in and respect for our military as well as in the strength, perseverance, and courage of the human spirit. It is a human story of brotherhood, sacrifice, courage, and the unexpected kindness of the Afghan people.

You should read it.

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August 9, 2012   2 Comments

fat talk forbidden: a necessity for our kids.

As a child, I always thought I had a bit of a pudgy stomach and a big nose.

Whaaaaaat?

Our little insecurities are funny sometimes. In hindsight. And with greater perspective.

But in the moment, they are devastating. Sources of tremendous angst, endless obsession, and potentially substantial repercussions. They consume us–overriding our rationality and influencing so many decisions.

I remember lots of little insecurities from childhood and adolescence, but the most prominent revolve around appearance.

Not wanting to take off my shorts at the beach:: Always wrapping a towel around me before bending over in a swimsuit so my (imagined) stomach-rolls wouldn’t be visible to others:: H-A-T-I-N-G sitting in shorts because I thought my legs looked massive:: Trying to squeeeeeze into size-too-small jeans hoping they would stretch out just so I could know I had the tag hanging in my closet.

Wha, whaaaaat?

I know we often blame this thin-obsession on the media and our broader culture. And of course I would agree. We have all seen THE dove commercial. We all know that people on magazine covers are always airbrushed. And they’re already the top 1% of attractiveness as it is. Sheesh. Talk about impossible.

But you know what else feeds this thin-obsession for our kids and our youth?

We do. You and me. The average, every day, middle-to-upper-middle class woman, shopping on amazon, pinning on pinterest, dreaming about character-rich houses, creative cuisine, and cute kids in artsy photo-shoots.

You&Me.

We feed it with our incessant fat talk. Sipping on lattes, chatting with friends, updating statuses.

Fat talk is all of the statements made in everyday conversation that reinforce the thin ideal and contribute to women’s dissatisfaction with their bodies.

Think about it. We fat talk all.the.time.

we.talk.about.food.and.weight.and.looks.SO.OFTEN.

SOOOOOOO.OFTEN.

I feel fat today:: I hate the way my legs look in these pants:: I had three cookies today and I just feel huge:: That tiramisu was delicious but now I have to get to the gym:: If only I could lose 10 more pounds:: If I could just shave these saddlebags off my thighs…:: Ugh. I hate these pants. My love handles always hang over:: Do you think my legs look fatter? But do you see this part here where they are touching each other? It looks gross:: I hope my jeans still fit after all this food.

We send mixed messages to our kids and we wonder why our kids, girls especially, are more and more appearance-conscious at younger and younger ages. We tell them they are beautiful; they are unique; they are lovely just the way they are; and they are certainly NOT fat.

But what do they see and hear and observe?

They hear us talking about ourselves, complaining about our imperfections, making little jokes and comments about food&calories, setting goals to reach a number on a scale, complimenting another’s appearance while degrading our own. Kids are unbelievably perceptive. It doesn’t matter that we tell them they are beautiful. If they see that we don’t find ourselves beautiful, if they see us obsessed with food&weight&wrinkles&little imperfections, our actions will undoubtedly speak louder than our words.

As a teenager, I made a promise to myself that I would never, ever make any of these silly fat talk, food&weight obsessed comments when I have kids. I will never talk about my weight, my need to diet or cut back on certain foods, or how “fat” I look in certain clothes. I just won’t do it. It sends the wrong message to kids.

I have decided to start that commitment today.

I am absolutely, positively guilty of being a fat-talker.

And let’s be clear, I’ve never actually been fat.

I am 5 feet 5 inches tall and I weigh 130 pounds.

I am not fat. I have never been fat. And yet I definitely fat talk. I know it’s been annoying to my husband at times and it’s sent the wrong message to younger ears. So no more. No little jokes about food or calories or how it’s going to my thighs. No more I feel fat today or I feel like this makes me look fat.

I want fat talk to have no place in my home when I have kids so I am starting the habit now. I also want to someday run some body image & self esteem groups at school so I want to be sure that I am setting the proper example. And I think by setting this as the definitive date, I will realize how often I make these little comments.

I implore my husband (and my friends! real and blogger!) to hold me accountable. Call me out.

I know that food&weight&bodyimage&women is a HUGE topic. And I know there are lots of reasons why women talk about it all so often–to process and find support and community and encouragement. I get that. But I also think it’s REALLY detrimental to the little lingering ears. And I think it perpetuates the cycle.

So as for me and my household, fat talk has no place here.

Starting today.

February 2, 2012   9 Comments

men and boys. one and the same.

I just have to ask:

When does the male species outgrow potty humor?

We had an eight year old at school the other day who urinated outside at recess. He went semi near the trees, but was mostly just out there in the open, too lazy or preoccupied, to just go inside like all the rest of the munchkins. He then proceeded to grab a handful of the wet sand, now clearly mud, on the baseball diamond, squat down, and pretend to poop it out his backside with his friend looking on.

When I told this story to my husband, his response (while laughing, of course)?

Boys are awesome.

I mean, granted, I found this story a little humorous as well, because kids simply are just hilarious and so random at times, but the bigger question is WHAT. IS. IT. WITH. MALES. AND. POTTY. HUMOR?!!? Do they ever outgrow it? How is human excrement so fascinatingly funny?

And while I’m on men and the things they don’t outgrow: what the deuce is up with their love for video games?

I asked Jerry the other day when guys outgrow the video game phase, crossing my fingers that it was somewhere around 27. Never, he says. NEVER?!!? Really? Will this generation of guys always enjoy video games? sigh. I know I have an unhealthy infatuation with my distaste for the video game, particularly for men over 21 years of age, but really? Are they that enjoyable? double sigh.

I already know I’m going to be that annoying mom who doesn’t let my kids eat sugary cereal, bans soda, and won’t buy them a gaming system.

I’m pretty sure Jerry, lover of coke and Play Station, is cringing right now, preparing long in advance for the parenting “disagreements” we are going to have down the line…

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October 30, 2011   7 Comments

good deals. I just can’t get enough.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I’ve realized, I truly am my mother’s daughter. Now with any such realization there’s a solid mixture of pride and trepidation. Pride because my mom’s awesome and I love, respect, and admire her to pieces and trepidation because, well, the thought somehow infringes on my sense of being independent (which I highly value) and because, let’s be honest, we are all very accustomed to our parents’ lovely little “quirks” which we claim we will never adopt…

Nevertheless, I am definitely my mother’s daughter. She called me yesterday to talk her through sending a picture as an email attachment (thankfully I don’t have her tech illiteracy, but that’s mainly just a function of my generational advantage). Since we use different email providers I logged into her account to talk her through screen by screen and what did I find but like 10,000 emails in her inbox. Junk mail never bothered to be sorted through. What’s my gmail right now? 6,386. Drives Jerry nuts. Similarly, our houses aren’t obsessively tidy (that’s the nice way to put it…), we’re both pretty flexible and laid back, we both have reputations as strong “talkers” (she wayyyyy more than I…), we both enjoy thinking about, talking about, and planning vacations almost as much as we enjoy taking them, and most importantly for today’s purposes, we just can’t pass up a good deal.

I seriously can’t get enough of a good deal. I have to caution myself to not spend money on something I don’t need or wouldn’t normally buy simply because it’s such a good deal. That caution failed miserably yesterday when I bought this adorable little dress simply because it was marked down, marked down, marked down and I just thought it was so cute:

Now bear in mind that I have no one to give this to and I certainly don’t intend to have a child for a few years, so what in the world am I going to do with it??? Jerry’s cousin is the only person I know with a baby girl and she was JUST born and lives in Ohio so by the time she’s big enough to wear this, it will be the middle of winter. The funny thing is that I know for baby clothes mark downs, $5 really isn’t that much of a “steal” but the fact that it was originally $30 made it too much of a deal to pass up. It doesn’t matter that no one would have paid 30 bucks for this. Just wayyyy over-price something and then mark it down and I’ll buy it just cuz…

Next up, groupon getaways and living social escapes. OH. MY. WORD. I love checking out the daily deals in my area, but these “escapes” take it to a whole new level. I HAVE to capitalize on one of these someday (remember how I loooooooove planning trips??!?). I mean, $499 for TWO people for SEVEN days at a resort on the beach??! Is there anything more heavenly, particularly in the middle of a New England winter?

My favorite thing (almost) ever? Free. Money. Bank of America (our bank) has this Keep the Change savings account. It rounds off all your debit card purchases to the nearest dollar and then transfers the change automatically to your savings account. The best part? They will match every cent that gets transferred for the first 3 months (up to $250). ONE HUNDRED PERCENT MATCH for 3 months. That’s what I call Free. Money. So yeah, I use the self check-out at the grocery store and ring up like every item individually because I am intent on maximizing that free money. Shooting for the $250 limit…

Lastly (for today), Smarty Pig. I LOVE Smarty Pig and I pretty much tell everyone about it.

Now they do give a referral reward, but for the first few years they didn’t and I still talked it up like the Second Coming, so don’t go thinking that I only want to capitalize on the reward, because I am obsessed with this company. Basically it’s an online savings bank for specific goals. You set a goal and link it up with your checking account and then it withdraws the amount you designate (minimum of $10 monthly) as frequently as you like. You get 1.10% APY, which isn’t AWESOME (it was 3.25% when I signed up a couple years ago which was an incredible rate given the state of the economy), but it’s the highest I’ve found for online savings without ANY fees or hoops to jump through. Once you reach your goal (or really any time you desire) you can close it out free of charge and send the money back to your savings or you can put your money on one of their retailer giftcards and gain an additional percentage boost. For example, if you want to cash out $100, you can choose to cash it out on a macy’s giftcard and get an additional 11% boost, meaning your $100 cash would become a macy’s giftcard for $111. Free. Money. They have about 100 really awesome retailers all with different percentage boosts. I think LLBean is the largest with 14%, but they have Pottery Barn, Panera, Banana Republic, etc. Can you tell I LOVE this company? If you’re interested in signing up or want more info, leave a comment or email me (lisa.m.stabile@gmail.com) because I really do just love helping other people get free money.

Please, please, please share any awesome deals you have! I’m always on the hunt…

July 29, 2011   4 Comments