Stefanie Sere

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Home Alone

So, here it is: the first day I’m home alone with my new baby. New baby who is almost seven weeks old. New baby who sleeps like a champ; new baby who is happy around the entire family (when they’re here — my husband and I both live out of state); new baby who has been the biggest and best surprise of my life. But, now that everyone is gone — both Moms came to help for three weeks at a time — I feel like a kid who just ventured off to college, minus the weed and beer, excited and frightened for doing life solo.

However, nothing could really scare me at this point. After becoming pregnant at 42 with graduation so close (had one semester to go at the point of discovering that someone was living inside my uterus) and a new career on my horizon, I saw all my brand new plans dissipate like fog as the sun rises. But that’s okay. At first, no, it wasn’t. I was pissed. I was sad. I was saying to myself: “You can’t have a baby now!!” All my hard work over the last four years… was I doomed to place my life on hold again? 

Thing is: this was my joke as I was getting my under-grad. (Yes, I’m a late career-switcher who never finished her degree in the first place because I was waiting for online classes and the internet to make my academic experience easier. Of course that is a false statement; I was too impetuous when I was younger to be in one place, one college, one university — I did attend three before finally going to the current university from which I had just graduated. I couldn’t possibly stay put for longer than six months to a year. I moved more times in a year than most do in their life!) Oh, back to the joke: I would say to friends that instead of going “out there” and getting a job after graduating, I’d get knocked up and stay at home again. But, this time, I’d have a degree and, crossing fingers, work from home. Well, hahaha… it all came true.

I was nervous about being pregnant at 42, well 43, really, since I turned 43 two months after my baby discovery. I kept saying things like my eggs were old, that I needed sleep, that I didn’t want to wipe anyone’s ass but my own, that I just couldn’t possibly go back to Babyland when I had my soon-to-be 9 year old displaying signs of independence and self-reliance. Oh, to have to watch a small human all day; make sure they don’t fall off the bed, choke on their spit-up, hold up their head… hold them, hold them, hold them. A lot of holding here… but, I don’t mind. I’m not scared. I’m totally in love.

img_0156So in love that I am not pissed that I had just lost 15 pounds before getting pregnant. Just slipped my ass into a size 4 jeans. Just got so ripped at the gym that I was looking better than some of my classmates who were 20 years younger than I. 

Love will do that. Love will transform any fear and turn it into courage. Love takes me being pissed into me being a total sap. Love will guide you with its light. Love will make being home alone one of the best feelings since being left in my dorm room.

Chubby Girl (Part III)

I remember watching Star Search with my mother one night. There were two sisters dancing in the competition. I noticed how their legs were the same size, from knee to thigh. I commented on this and my mother’s response was: “Well, that’s how they’re supposed to be.” She said it in such a way as if my legs weren’t normal. Looking down at my legs, I saw that they grew fatter as they went up toward my hips, and I felt like my mom wished that she had a skinny kid.

Strange, the things we choose to remember.

People seem more accepting now. Is it kindness? Or is it fear of being called a “fatist?” In a politically correct world, they be damned if one were to hate on some fatties. In the 70s and 80s, skinny was the thing and fat was something else. Fat was something to be made fun of; fat was something that caused you to be picked last for a team; fat was something that made you want to eat more ice cream.

Cookies were my friends.

My brother and me were latch-key kids. I had a key to my house by the time I was nine because my parents both worked, leaving my brother and myself on our own until six in the evening. We did what we wanted: we watched a ton of television, rode our bikes beyond the allowed distance — once riding past Ocean Parkway all the way to Coney Island Avenue — we cussed, and ate endless amounts of cookies. We had a drawer which we called the “cookie drawer” for cryin’ out loud. There was no such thing as a “helicopter parent” in the 1980s. There wasn’t much structure until my mom came home from work. Things seemed so different when I was growing up in the 80s — this could possibly be a huge understatement.

But, one day, there were no more cookies. That ice cream turned into ice milk. Whole milk into skim. Soda into diet soda. And forget about the cookies. Weight watchers, Atkin’s, Slim fast, Nutri-System: my mother tried it all for me to lose weight. My willpower had to be strong for the helicopter had landed. The one thing my mom didn’t do was not buy the Oreos, the Count Chochula cereal, the Entenmann’s crumb coffee cake, and the fucking potato chips. I didn’t (and still don’t) like potato chips, but I’d eat them anyway. On the couch. On the carpet. Sitting by the counter. Hanging out on the stoop. Never failed: there was always some sort of crappy snack in the house that could put ten pounds on Count Chocula, that skinny fuckin’ vampire!

My mother claimed that it was her guilt that led her to purchase these things; she felt bad for having to go to work and having leave to us all the time. Her theory was “whatever you want.” There is an unwritten rule in the Italian culture that, when you love someone, you feed them. . . whatever they want. We had a selection of cereal like they do at Costco, and every kid on our block knew it — they were excited if they were asked to sleep over.

The kids next door, in their mother’s eye, were perfect. At that time, they did seem kinda perfect to me. They did well in school and they were skinny. In my small brain, that seemed like everything. Although I did rather well in school, I just couldn’t quite figure out the skinny part.

You would think, that with Vinny berating me whenever he saw me, that I might become motivated to lose some weight. And it didn’t stop at friends of friends either: even my brother, the skinny shit, teased me endlessly about my weight. It just made me more angry and sad, which led me to eat less apples and find the ice cream in the freezer.

When I was in high school, we moved to Staten Island from my beloved Brooklyn. I had zero friends and became a bit of a loner. I’d take the Staten Island Ferry to Manhattan and walk endlessly. I’d walk from the Manhattan side of the ferry to Central Park like it was nothing, taking in a much bigger world than the one I felt trapped in: high school.

Eventually, I did make some friends. There were these two hippie girls whom I immediately gravitated towards; being quite different from the big-haired girls of the late 1980s, these two hippie chicks were a delight in my young and seemingly miserable new life on Staten Island. With my new friends, I became heavily involved with the animal rights movement. I became a vegetarian and learned about other foods besides chicken parmesan, pizza, lasagna, and manicotti. I went to rallies and protests and became less preoccupied with food. I finally found real friends and not just food-friends. And I lost weight!

I often think about the people who poked fun at me when I was a kid. I wonder what they’ve done with their lives. Hopefully, they’ve grown up. Hopefully, they’re fat now.

I always like to laugh last.

Chubby Girl (Part II): Lucky Grrrl

I wish I had grown up with such an inspiring perspective on life: giving zero fucks about what people think. I’ve always felt restricted from doing stuff where people were going to watch: sports, dance, school plays. I even hated reading aloud in class. All those eyes on me. Yikes!

Growing into a woman, I failed to see this empowering perspective. Being chubby and being ridiculed for it for most of my younger years — up until freshman year in high school — not only made me want to “lay low,” it also led me to “aim low” and pursue the guy who, most likely, nobody wanted to be bothered with. I didn’t go for creeps or ugly dudes, I just went for the freaks and the misunderstood. I set my sight onto people who were emotionally challenged and had little experience with girls. Ya know, the dark, mysterious, brooding type; the kind of guy that I could “fix” and show him the beauty in life; someone I could share the experience of not, typically, being liked.

When my uncle would come for visits, he’d bring my brother, his Godson, a present, but never anything for me. I always wondered why don’t I get something? I assumed that I didn’t receive any gifts because I was a chunkster. And, if my uncle felt that way, surely everybody else did.

The thing is, I really wasn’t that fat. Chubby, yes. But obese or “oh shit, look at that fat little girl,” no. But it’s something that still sticks with me. So many girls and women experience this feeling and have that morphed view of themselves in the mirror. Some of us are willingly fed the colossal bullshit drilled into our heads, from every billboard and magazine cover, that we should look some certain way.

Man, fuck that!

Yet, even I am guilty of buying the bullshit sometimes. I complain about my thighs, my varicose veins, my loosening skin; I hate the feeling of the back fat from my bra; my arms need to be toner, my ass a little higher. It’s all so stupid. With the exception of being healthy and staying fit, the rest of these concerns seem to be a waste of time because, well, we’re lucky to be alive, really.

I’m lucky enough to have legs that are capable: I can walk, and run and skip and jump. I’m lucky enough to have arms to write, to lift my child, and to hug my loves. I’ve got a heart that beats, pumping my blood, and keeping me alive. I’ve got a family that loves me endlessly. These are the things that always help me shift gears in my head: I am perfectly fine and shit ain’t so bad. I don’t need any validation from a man, the man, or anyone.

But for a while, I did. I wanted a guy’s approval. Deep down, way below the feminist in me, there were all of those Daddy-issues: I wanted to feel liked by someone of the male sex. I wanted this imaginary guy to think that I was alright, that I was cool, man.

(Gif courtesy of Phadrus from

Chubby Girl (Part I)

“You’re such a fat bitch. Always eating.”

“But. . . I’m eating an apple” was my dumbfounded response.

At the time, I thought that I was looking pretty good. I felt so liberated out of my Catholic school uniform. Standing there on my stoop, guarded by the black wrought-iron fence in front of me, my brick home behind me — I thought I was protected in some way, but not from Vinny.

There were so many kids on my block. We were like cousins and their parents like the aunts and uncles we often saw. They were allowed to yell at us, or give the occasional smack on the back of the head for doing something stupid. The kids that didn’t live on the block we deemed outsiders because we believed we lived on the best block in Brooklyn. West Street is the best street, we’d boast. We kind of did have the best block — I felt a closeness to these families that I’d never have again after moving away in my teens.

Vinny was one of these outsiders. Although he didn’t live on the block, everyone knew him because he was a good friend of Victor’s, the neighbor kid. So unfortunately, he was around a lot. Vinny was meaner than a hungry pregnant lady. He said horrible things about girls and women. At fourteen, how could he possibly know anything about women? He epitomized a lot of the male population in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn: tightly worn button down shirt, chinos, Capezio shoes (think: Jazz dancer), and a sexist view on women. It was like being stuck in the film Saturday Night Fever. No female was safe — Vinny would attack anyone with a vagina. Vinny was definitely an asshole.

The thing about this rotten kid was that he wasn’t thin himself. His belly slightly hung over his belt; his school shirt buttons seemed as if they were going to pop at any given moment. He wasn’t pretty, either. Maybe if he was a pleasant human being it would have excused his greasy black hair, his unibrow, his beady eyes and that stupid, wicked laugh of his, as if he were Vincent Price at the end of Thriller.

Nobody likes to be laughed at.

I soon inspected my after-school fashion choice when he walked away: I wasn’t wearing anything flattering myself. I donned dark and tight denim Jordache jeans accompanied by a brown, knit-like tube top. At age 10, I wasn’t old enough for a witty rebuttal for Vinny’s harsh words, and not really old enough, in my adult opinion, to be wearing such an outfit. But after being in my school uniform all day, I wanted to get home and dress like Donna Summer.

Clothes were a problem for me as a kid. Nothing fit right. Size 14 pants for a ten year old girl looked ridiculous; they were so long — I always had to roll up the bottoms. I knew if I was allowed to don a pair of high-heeled shoes, the pants would have worked out better. My thin friends looked clean and neat whereas I always looked like I got stuffed into my clothing. I might as well have worn a potato sack, with the bottom rolled up.

The girls would roll up their skirts once they got closer to school, showing off their lean legs which looked even thinner in contrast with their big hair. The rolled skirt also brought attention to flat tummies; something I’d witness, not experience. When I would roll up my skirt it would puff out like a 1950’s full circle skirt. Ya know, the ones with an embroidered felt poodle on the bottom of the skirt. Not achieving the look I was going for, nor did I have the confidence to rock that look, I’d end up rolling it back down to above my knee, and abiding by school rules.

Life for us chubby girls back then was unlike the chubbsters of today: we didn’t have any voluptuous role models the way young girls do these days. In the 80s there wasn’t a Beyoncé or a Shakira, nor were there Kardashians and praises for big butts. These days Mandy Kaling’s hips and wit make being “full figured” hot! Christina Hendricks is on fire! When I was a kid I never once saw a woman on television over 115 pounds. Marilyn Monroe and Bettie Page were long dead and gone. Everyone in Hollywood was starving themselves. They ate tofu and sipped on wheatgrass. (Californians: way ahead of us New Yorkers with our pizza and chicken parmesan.)

Gladly, in the 21st Century there is so much shit given for anyone who fat-shames another (and rightfully so). I don’t know if the “sizable” kids today are shunned the way I was when I was younger. Kids of all sizes seem more open and willing to try out for the school play, for instance. They’re unabashed on their YouTube channels; they play sports; they wear tight-fitting clothes with a self-confidence I wouldn’t have dared to have as a tubby youngster. These kids have pride. Basically, they don’t give a fuck. They grew up being told that they can do anything. I love it! Fuck it, I say! Do whatever you want, no matter your size.

Although it was almost a year ago, this is still so relevant today and, unfortunately, probably for a while to come.

How Wearing Skinny Jeans Interferes with Getting Laid, Among Other Maladies

There are very few men who can get away with wearing overalls, and even fewer who can legitimately don a pair of cowboy boots, especially if they’re tucked into jeans or some other pants. The men who get the free pass to wearing either are the farmer and the cowboy, respectively.

With that being said, and to continue my harsh judgments on men’s clothing (women get scrutinized all the time regarding how we look), I’ll continue here by saying that no man should ever sport the skinny jean. I don’t know who came up with this idea, but skinny jeans on men look absolutely ridiculous. (There, I’ve said it.) Tapered pants, slim-fit — I can handle these; a nice sharp suit with a tapered leg is a good look on a man. But these skinny jeans should be banned for men, worldwide.

The skinny jeans are convenient for riding your bike and for tucking into your boots, ladies. So, roll up that (tapered) pant leg, sir! And put on some socks, damn it!

Despite my cries about men wearing a pair of women’s jeans (and slip-on shoes without socks), I was seeing them everywhere: at the skatepark, on campus, at the Apple store, at hipster bars, at Whole Foods, in my nightmares; they don them as they played field polo in a schoolyard in some hipster neighborhood; they had picnics in Cheesman Park; they swarmed art galleries on First Fridays.

My observation of this phenomena goes several years back. I was aghast! I wondered if this was just some hipster fashion fad or if it were to stick around for years to come. I was curious if these brave men actually went to the women’s department and bought a pair of women’s jeans, or if these skinny jeans were now being made for men. What kind of man could be taken seriously in these jeggings? My ex would never wear skinny jeans; one of the traits I loved about him. That, and being able to build a house. He was the kind of guy who could get away with wearing overalls; they’ve got good places to put your hammer and tape measure.

But, at least these skinny-jean-legged men now rode their bikes with ease, right? No more tangled pant leg in the bike chain. Socks were no longer required. Toms shoes for all! (Beard optional.)

There was a time period where I was separated from my husband. We had spent over a year apart (growing and learning from our mistakes) and, gladly, we are back together. During

this time I went on dates (with non-skinny-jean-wearing men), went online to see who’s “out there,” went out with my friends to just be “out there.”

“You gotta get out there.” They’d tell me.

“I don’t want to be out there.” I’d think.

Truth was: I wanted to be home. With my man. Not out there. I had missed him, but until he got his shit together, I couldn’t possibly be with him. I had spent too many years trying to fix things, but there was nothing I could really do, except leave.

But, I digress.

One toasty summer night as I was unlocking my bike to go home after work, two of my much younger co-workers breezed by on their bikes. With their night off, they drunkenly invited me to join them on the Denver Cruiser Ride. This is where you ride your bike with about a hundred people, drink, and see what’s “out there.”

“Here,” the scruffy one said, handing me a bottle of Fireball. We passed the ball of fire to each other as we rode through the streets of Denver and then onto the bike path. The scratchy, cinnamon burn of the beverage eased me into the evening. The drink allowed me to place all judgements aside, not be such a dick, and simply have a good time. I had become so cynical after years not of enjoying life, after too much time spent being caught up in someone else’s bullshit. This was one of the first nights in a while where I felt free. The Fireball buzz was strong. Now, I was really in for it. Now, I was 23 again. Now, I was wearing skinny jeans and a tank top and Toms shoes. I fit right in.

That night after the mass bike ride — a short lived event in my life, by the way, along with the Fireball — my friends and I went back Downtown to drink some beers on the patio at some burrito joint on the 16th Street Mall. People coming and going: drunk, stoned, random homeless people yelling at the moon; others grabbing some late night grub.

One of those grubbers was a redheaded man. He was locked out of the burrito place. Too late, Ginger Boy! We tipped him off and told him to use the exit door. He comes out minutes later with a burrito. Success! Congenial as we were, he decided to sit down, eat his burrito, and make new friends.

Ginger Boy wore skinny jeans like a fat fifth grader: unabashedly and unapologeticly. It was one of the first things I noticed about him. I do like the redheads, but those slim legged denim disaster pants instantly placed him in the “not an option” category. As interesting as he seemed, I just could never get with any guy who paraded around in skinny jeans. Plus, he smoked and was nonstop looking at his phone in between talking and eating his burrito.

There is a limited number of men who have the body type to get away with wearing the skinny jean, like 15 year old boys. These tight-fitting jeans put all the focus onto the lower part of the body of a man past thirty. They make one look top heavy. Skinny jeans amplify the fat around the belly. And our Ginger Boy definitely had his share of beers over the years. He was no young pup; more like a bitch who just had a litter of thirty.

After talking for a good while, discovering that he’s from San Francisco and comes to Denver once a month for work, Ginger Boy asked me if I wanted to check out his corporate apartment. “It’s incredible,” he told me. “The views are awesome, and there’s a hot tub.”

As much as I love hot tubs and red heads in addition to lovely views of the city, I tell him that I can’t go with him. 

Gotta get home to walk the dog.

Need to wash my hair.

Gotta do laundry.

Need to organize my sock drawer.

Plus, I don’t go home with people whom I’ve just met. Just because someone wants to fuck you doesn’t mean you have to fuck them. There are plenty of opportunities; no need for desperation.

Truth was: due to his brand of britches, I just couldn’t bear the thought of making out with this guy.

I wanted to ask, though: don’t you know that those jeans you’re wearing are dangerous? Didn’t you hear about the three musicians stabbed in Sacramento for wearing skinny jeans? (True story: some guy spewed homophobic slurs at a California based band and then proceeded toward them wielding a knife and stabbed the three men.) Don’t you know that you can get your testicles twisted? (Another true story.) Haven’t you heard of the condition called swampass? Wearing tight pants also can lead to urinary tract infections as well as a low sperm count and fungal infections. And, furthermore, you look silly. And don’t forget: you can get stabbed!

As I rode home alone in the moonlight, I thought about that luxury hi-rise where Ginger Boy lived for the week. I wanted to sit in that hot tub. I wanted check out the view. I wanted to be pampered for a night. Yet, I knew that I couldn’t endure the part of the evening when he’d try to get those preposterous pants off his bike-toned legs.

Pleased with my decision, I glided along the bike path with a beer buzz smile. When I got home, there was no hot tub, no nighttime view of Denver, but there was my dignity, and no skinny jeans on the floor.

Tight Red Jeans Cause Trouble

I was on my way home with my tight red jeans.

I stopped by the bar to see and be seen.

It was a Monday or a Tuesday so I knew she was working.

“Free drinks!” I thought, and entered in smirking.

Even the Frenchman was there draped over the stool.

Drinks go well with stories, and his were so cool:

the 70s, the 80s; the art and the drugs;

the parties, the ladies; nothing to shrug.

I tuned in as if it were great radio show.

I sat there for hours like I had no where to go.

The words from his mouth, sort of an oblation.

Tales from the past delivering inspiration.

The Frenchman and I, we wandered off into the snow

for another vodka tonic — where else should we go?

We arrived next door to a place called The Paddle.

How did I know he’d want to strap on a saddle?

I was scared and I panicked so I ran out the door

not wanting to bargain for anything more.

I took my tight red jeans down Avenue A

and when I got home I was so happy, I prayed.

Backcountry 🏂🏂🏂🏂🏂


The Fears We Don’t Face Become Our Limits – Robin Sharma — The Seeds 4 Life

Today let’s face a fear. Demonstrate to ourselves the strength of our resolve. Expose fears illusion and strip away the deception of importance it feeds the mind. Just for today, make a conscious choice to be fearless. Today, live from a place of positive possibility instead of anxiety. Today, focus on your dreams not your…

via The Fears We Don’t Face Become Our Limits – Robin Sharma — The Seeds 4 Life

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