I still hate you, Christina Aguilera, but you have an excellent song

There’s a scene from Mean Girls (one of my favorite movies of ALL TIMES) that’s pretty poignant (no, not “You go, Glenn Coco” or, my personal favorite “You smell like a baby prostitute”).

Damien is singing at the school’s holiday pageant (not very well), but clearly giving it his all, despite being booed and heckled. Hell, he even gets sassy in the middle of the song and fights back.

While it’s clearly a very funny scene (um, hello, isn’t ALL of Mean Girls basically perfect?), there’s a certain seriousness to it.

Some may not get it.

But I do.

A few months ago, my one of my perennial favorite ladies, Jennifer Weiner, wrote an essay in Allure Magazine called “The F Word”. The dreaded word so many women beat themselves up over (and over and over again)? Fat. After past-his-prime critic Rex Reed insulted actress Melissa McCarthy by calling her “tractor-sized” and a “female hippo” last week, (and his refusal to apologize), I wanted to share J-Wein’s gem of an essay.

Jen gets it. We’re chubby soul sisters.

To summarize (but really, just go and read it for yourself—it’s worth spending a few minutes), Weiner recalls a recent conversation with her nine-year-old daughter, Lucy. Lucy is complaining about a “frenemy” (come on ladies—we all had/have them) and in explaining why she doesn’t like this girl, she says, “She’s mean, she’s bad at math, she’s terrible at kickball. And…she’s fat.”

Weiner, who calls herself “a size 16 on a good day,” then is forced to have a talk with her “blithe, leggy, honey-blonde daughter,” about using the “f word.” Weiner explains, “I’d spent the nine years since her birth getting ready for this day, the day we’d have to have the conversation about this dreaded, stinging word. I had a well-honed, consoling speech at the ready. I knew exactly what to say to the girl on the receiving end of the taunts and the teasing, but in all of my imaginings, it never once occurred to me that my daughter would be the one who used the F word. Fat.”

Weiner then recounts her own struggles (and shame) with her weight. In reading it, I saw myself. In recalling incidents from her life, I cried. I cried for Jennifer. I cried for every girl who has ever been taunted, mocked or made to feel she’s ugly, unworthy or unlovable. And I cried for myself. But, in truth, I didn’t need to read Jennifer’s accounts of her life. I’ve lived it.

I’ve struggled with my weight for nearly as long as I can remember. And, like Jennifer, I’ve never been at a point in my life when I haven’t been keenly aware of my size. A particular passage of her essay stuck with me:

There are five girls named Jennifer making their way across the Promised Land with my group that summer. “Oh, not the fat Jennifer,” I hear one of my tour mates saying matter-of-factly to another as we hang out by our kibbutz swimming pool, holding his hands out a good foot away from his hips to indicate my girth, “the other one.” So that is me: not the Jennifer who loves to read, or who listens to the Smiths and is the most sought-after babysitter in town. Not the Jennifer on the honor roll, the one who can swim a mile without stopping: the fat one.

I am incandescent with shame, knowing that fat is, by far, the worst thing you can be. Fat is lazy, fat is gross, fat is sloppy…and, worst of all, fat is forever. Michelle has a full-on Frida Kahlo moustache. Kim has terrible skin. But Michelle could wax and Kim could go on Accutane; I am going to be fat—and, hence, undesirable, unlovable, a walking joke—for the rest of my life.

It’s like Jennifer got into my brain, pulling out all of the fears, insecurities, and feelings I had supressed for most of my life. And she nailed it. I’m not Stacey with a killer sense of humor, who loves to read, and listen the Black Keys and Grace Potter and is great at her job. No, those things aren’t important. I’m Stacey—the fat one. That’s the only identifier that matters. And, for a long long LONG time, I believed that.

Jen managed to put down what every girl struggling with her weight is afraid of: I am going to be fat—and, hence, undesirable, unlovable, a walking joke—for the rest of my life.

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I want to be best friends with @mindykaling

Mindy Kaling could be my twin separated by birth (except for that whole age and race difference. but whatever, It could still totally be plausible). Or maybe just the super awesome older & more successful sister I never had. In any case, I ADORE her & want to be BFFs with her (probably the highest compliment I could ever give you).

I stumbled upon her old blog Things I bought that I love a few years ago without knowing it was Kelly Kapoor from “The Office” (a longtime S-Dizzle favorite). I thought it was so funny and witty—when she stopped writing it, I was heartbroken.

Then, a few months ago, her new blog The Concerns of Mindy Kaling launched. I am in LOVE with it (seriously—go read it. But only after you’re finished here.) It’s basically her old format—she blogs about things that she loves (clothes, shows, makeup, people, etc.), but she has a way with words that makes you want to read more (even if it’s about faux ice cubes used to keep whiskey cold!). We write about a lot of the same topics (shoes, pop culture, dumb things that happen) and I’d like to think that our writing styles are similar (but that’s just wishful thinking on my part!).

When I found out she had written a book of essays (similar to the lovely Tina Fey’s Bossypants and the books of my other hero Jen Lancaster), I saved the date & made sure to get my copy on the first day.

Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me is the book I wish I had written.

It’s funny and charming and completely relatable. At one point Mindy writes about things that make her cry (umm, hello, the WORLD makes me cry) lists Paul Simon’s “Graceland” album as one of those things. She says that listening to that specific album reminds her of her parents & being a kid and taking family vacations together. She tries to explain that listening to “Graceland” reminds her of a time lost—things will never be that way again. And it makes her sad.

Substitute “Graceland” for Tom Petty’s Full Moon Fever and that’s basically my life.

Sure, this album has the mega hit “Free Fallin”, but that’s not the reason I love it (or why it makes me cry). I love it because it makes me think of my dad (and my mom & siblings too). If you know me (and my family) you’d know that my dad is way more likely to listen to talk radio than music (of any kind). He’s a finance guy & would rather listen to the stock market than anything on FM radio. But he loved (loves) this album. Because it’s sort of rare for him to REALLY love an album, the fact he loves this one so much makes it special.

Every time I hear “Runnin’ Down a Dream” or “I Won’t Back Down”, I’m instantly six years old, hanging out with my mom & dad on a Saturday morning. “Zombie Zoo”? I’m eight, at a backyard BBQ and dancing with my sister and watching our parents socialize with friends. “Alright for Now”? Driving in the car with the whole fam to whatever vacation destination we decided on, singing loudly and laughing at my brother for falling asleep 20 minutes into the drive.

The point is that I have intense, personal memories attached to that particular album and I totally understand Mindy when she says Paul Simon makes her cry. Tom Petty makes ME cry, girlfriend! I get it!

Aside from listing things that make her cry, Mindy talks about growing up nerdy, her awesome relationship with her parents, choosing to go to a college where she could be a big fish in a small pond, and being able to relate to children via NSYNC (and having very serious conversations about which one she would marry). If you’ve known me for any amount of time, you’d note that I ALSO have experience with all of those things. As I’ve experienced every.single.one. (and for the record, the choice of marriage to an NSYNC member would obvs be JC. Or maybe Lance, if you don’t mind having a gay husband).

Reading her book is what I assume hanging out with Mindy Kaling would be: charming, witty, a little snarky and a WHOLE lot of fun.

It goes without saying that I’d urge you to read this book. Just do it. You’ll thank me later.

I’ll leave you with Lee the D’s favorite song (since I talked about it earlier).

Since Christmas is in a week, aforementioned Lee the D and I are braving the mall today. Wish us luck!

they say it’s your birthday…

Today is my baby brother, E’s, birthday. I remember my parents bringing him home from the hospital 23 years ago and my life changing forever. It wasn’t that it was a new thing for me, having a sibling (we had already gone through the “Stacey is no longer a princess” when Nicole was born a few years earlier). Nope, my life changed because (with the exception of the dogs and an occasional hamster or fish), my family was complete. We had our very first Thanksgiving as the D-Quintet in 1988 (Lee the D made meatloaf & mashed potatoes. I probably cried and said I wanted grilled cheese. I was an awesome kid.)

Erik was born on November 18th: the same day as Oscar from the Office, that kid from iCarly, disgraced Sen. Ted Stevens, Owen Wilson, Megyn Kelly (my personal hero) and, of course, the girl who played Angie in Life with Mikey. November 18th is also a special day of remembrance of Jim Jones & the People’s Temple mass suicide at Jonestown (sorry, buddy. I know that’s kind of a bummer to think about on your day. But, hey, I don’t write the history). But, on a happier note, November 18th is also the birthday of Mickey Mouse! So at least you got that goin’ for ya (which is nice).

But all of that pales in comparison to November 18, 1988. Erik Matthew Disterhof made his starring debut in the misadventures of Stacey.

I don’t often write about my brother, not because I don’t love him to bits (I do) and not because he’s not hilarious (he is), but because he’s been insanely busy with school (he’s studying to be an architect or something else smarty-pants-like). He studies allll the time and doesn’t have time for my shenanigans right now (which is too bad. shenanigans are always a good time).

Erik is awesome. Seriously. Growing up, he was my little snotty-nosed brother, always pestering me, breaking my barbie dolls (he and his bff created a game known as “Bar-Ball” in which they used barbies as bats), and generally being the biggest pain in the ass EVER. But over the course of his lifetime, I’ve had the pleasure of watching Erik turn into one of the kindest, smartest, finest men that I know. He’s, quite simply, the best (and if you are imagining Jack Donaghy singing Tina Turner’s “simply the best” right now, I owe you a high five).

I don’t tell him enough how much I’ve grown to respect him and admire him. He’s the type of kid that will go out of his way to do something nice for someone—opening a door or helping to carry something or just calling my grandmothers up to say hi. He’s thoughtful and has a sort of quiet intensity to him. Even though school didn’t come as easily to him when he was younger, he didn’t let that defeat him and instead worked his ass off and has become a textbook-aweome college student (I should probably take notes). And he still manages to be one of the funniest people I know.

He and I have a shared love of all things comedy: books,movies, television. Even if no one else thinks its funny (see the example below of the fine fine Tom Arnold classic, Carpool  ) He’s my favorite person to go to the movies with (especially since he’s sometimes the only person who will go see weird indie documentaries with me) and definitely my partner-in-twilight-hate-crimes. Even though he drives me nuts sometimes (but don’t all siblings), he’s still one of my very best friends and I’m so lucky to have him in my life.

So, without further ado, my 10 favorite pictures (and memories) of E-Dizzle (that I have in iPhoto).

10. Christmas Eve 2009. We were at church, leaving after mass. This guy had been sitting in the pew ahead of us and my mother became obsessed with him (because, duh, he looked like Santa Claus). As we were leaving, she mentions to him that he better get moving if he wanted to make it to all those houses in a single night. He smiled, gave her his card which was (no joke) a Santa Claus card. Turns out, he was a Department store Santa. My mother had been wanting an updating D-Trio Santa picture for years…so she got her wish.

9.  SNOWpening Day, 2007. Erik, Nicole and I LOVE baseball. Like, LOVE it. And we love Cleveland Indians Opening Day. And, because we live in Cleveland, we don’t always know what the weather is going to be like. Sometimes we wear shorts. 2007, however, it was a blizzard. We, however, pressed on and braved the cold (and, for real, it was cold. we weren’t acting). E’s face cracks me up—you can tell the poor kid is frozen solid. The game ended up being cancelled because the snow was so awful that they outfielders couldn’t see the ball. This was also the year that all of the home games for the first couple weeks were played in Wisconsin because of weather. Yes, the CLEVELAND Indians had to go play in MILWAUKEE because of weather. I’ll let you ponder on the hilarity of that statement. 

8.  Erik and Ronald McDonald, 2010. At an event last summer for the Ronald McDonald House (told you my family is super involved!). Erik is such a ham. 

7. Erik and Tara, Fourth of July, 2010 E’s been dating his girlfriend, Tara, for a million years (ok, it’s really more like 5, but whatever). I love Tara (I couldn’t love her any more than if she were my blood-related sister) and I’m so glad that she and Erik found each other. So rarely do you see high school sweethearts actually work in the real adult world, but they do. Last year, we went to go watch fireworks (which I think are dumb. I am in the minority of my family), and stopped for sparklers. As you can see, E & T are like Barbie and Ken. This picture has been dubbed in Casa D “Barbie and Ken play with fireworks.” I think it should probably be on the wall of some fancy pants gallery. 

6.  Erik and yours truly on vacation, circa 1992 Just to prove that I am, in fact, a very very good sport, I put up a horrible picture of me, but a darling one of E. I was a nerdy nerdy nerdface (completely with huuuuuge glasses and a perm) but look how stinking cute Erik was? We were in Florida, visiting some family, and either my mom of grandmother took this picture. I have long hated it (because who really want to remember looking like THAT!!), but I’m all about full disclosure. And besides, this is all about Erik and that face he’s making is so funny (and so very Erik at age 4—he was such a little tough guy!) that I  had to include it. 

5.  Erik and Dad, 2009 E’s 21st birthday (in which we went to see Wicked. Not his idea, but we got GREAT seats!) but stopped and had drinks in honor of Erik being the last Disterhof (seriously, he’s the LAST Disterhof) to reach the legal drinking age. So we celebrated with beers. I come from a really tight-knit fam, but it’s a well-known fact that E and my dad are legit BFFs. It is also a proven fact that no matter what, it is IMPOSSIBLE for these two men to take a bad photo. Believe me, I’ve tried. 

4.  Erik and a twi-hard, Halloween 2010 It is no secret that Erik and I share a particularly special hatred for all things Twilight. So, E, being the wannabe comedian he is, decided to dress up as Edward Cullen last year for Halloween. He did the hair, the v-neck and the Ray Bans (and, yes, his nametag does read “Bella’s Bitch”). I have no idea who the girl in the picture is, but she’s CLEARLY a fan of Eddie Cullen (which makes the picture all the better). 

3.  Me, E, and Nic, Switzerland, 2008 Probably my all-time numero uno favorito picture of the three of us. From the all-time numero uno favorito vacation that we’ve taken. We are LITERALLY standing on a Swiss Alp (as you can see in the background). We went on a craaazzzy awesome EuroTrip (but not like the Scotty Doesn’t Know movie. We did not have Harriet the Spy with us.) where we were in London, Paris, Switzerland, Florence and then Rome (I’m tired just remembering it). I’ll post more pictures and tell more stories sometime (because it is probably the best time I’ve ever had), but this serves as a reminder of our time over there. And, we just look happy. Like GENUINELY happy to be together, it didn’t matter that we were standing in the middle of a mountain in Europe (although that was pretty cool). After the picture was taken, Nicole and I sung a few bars of “Edelweiss” (duh, we were in Switzerland where it’s basically the national flower. Or something) which Erik caught on tape (I’m sure) with his ever-present video camera. If I can somehow get him to upload some footage of our trip, I’ll link it. 

2.  Nic an E, circa 1989 If you know me (and my family) in real life, you’d know that when we were little, Nicole just LOVED our little brother. She called him “bebe” (pronounced beebee) and doted on him for the first few years of his life. They were (are) best buddies and Nicole spent the first few years of his life babying him. This is one of the sweetest pictures we have (and, uh, the only one scanned into a computer) that encompasses their relationship for the first few years of Erik’s life 🙂 Also, can we even talk about how blonde Nicole is??? How adorable is she? And what a sweet little chub HE was. I have really cute siblings. 

1.  E as Borat, Rome 2008 Borat came out sort of around the time we went to Europe and my ENTIRE (including my parents) were obsessed with it. We quoted it alllll the time (still do, even though it’s clearly not cool anymore), but E takes the prize for the best Borat impression. The three of us were wandering around in Rome (after Erik knocked over a small Asian lady pickpocket. True story, btw.) and we saw the Roman equivalent to the subway. We made Erik stand in front of it and out came the Borat impression…and thus the Erik-as-Borat-in-Rome picture was born. I laugh whenever I see this picture. This, also, encapsulates Erik in a nutshell: funny and brave (as in he didn’t care that he was blocking exiting traffic on a busy subway platform just to make his sisters laugh. He’s a champ). 

So there it is. Erik’s life in pictures (well, 10 of them, anyway).

Happy birthday, buddy!  Love you soooo much! Hope your day is awesome and fantastic and full of laughter (it will be, duh, because you’re spending it with me, Nic, T, mom & dad…oh, and I guess Maggie too) Oh, here’s a bonus picture

 (Maggie says “O-H-I-O, bitches”)

 

 

sunny days sweepin’ the clouds away

It’s no secret to anyone that knows me that I love the Muppets (and Sesame Street) in a BIG BIG way. Follow that Bird is my favorite movie. OF ALL TIME(s). No, really. It is. I’ve seen it probably more than any other movie in my life. I can quote every line. I can sing every song (including this fabulous Waylon Jennings tune. Yes, Waylon Jennings! did a song for the movie. It’s that awesome

)

My sister bought me “The Wisdom of Big Bird” (by Caroll Spinney) for Christmas a few years ago and I’m pretty sure I cried the entire way through. I own the Sesame Street 40 years of Sunny Days DVDs. I still have the “20 years and Counting” special on a taped VHS that I watch once a year (and, again, cry through. What can I say. I’m a crier. I own it).  I had a Big Bird record player that I played the crap out of for most of the 1980s. My stuffed Grover is in nearly every picture of me taken before I was four. I loved Sesame Street.

Sesame Street is so fiercely tied to my childhood that it’s nearly impossible for me to separate the two. So many of my earliest memories are tied to it, even through roundabout ways. I remember singing “L is such a lovely letter” with my mom. It’s how I learned who James Taylor was (to this day in Casa D, he is still referred to as “Jellyman Kelly”. I’m sure he appreciates this.). It’s how I learned to count to 10 in Spanish (thanks, Maria!) . In short, it’s the soundtrack to my childhood.

Sesame Street will always be my #1, but the Muppets are a pretty close #2.

 who wouldn’t love these guys?

“The Muppets Take Manhattan” was my favorite movie for most of elementary school (after I had grown out of “Follow that Bird’). The Muppet Show was already off the air by the time I got old enough to appreciate it. But that didn’t mean I didn’t love the Muppets. No, not at ALL. I came of age when the biggest thing on Saturday morning cartoons was THIS:

Muppet Babies. As anyone in the late twenties/early thirties and almost all of them will tell you that Muppet Babies was THE reason for getting up on Saturday mornings. Even now, twenty-odd years later, I can still sing the theme song, remembering fondly how much I LOVED that devious little Miss Piggy (still do!) and how Kermit was just the cutest little frog this side of the pond (still do!).

Muppet Babies provided MY generation an introduction to the Muppets. Most of our parents watched the Muppet Show and were thrilled that the Muppets would continue to live on. Plus, with the success of the cartoon, reruns of the old Muppet Show started to be re-shown. New shows were added to the Henson repertoire (Fraggle Rock, anyone???) and Jim Henson & co. seemed to OWN quality children’s television. Then Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel happened and with them brought some of the worst children’s television programming known to man (but that’s a rant for another day). In any case, the Muppets popularity went by the wayside and, with the exception of a few movies, the next generation didn’t fall in love with the Muppets like I did. There was a brief renaissance in the mid 90’s with “Muppets Tonight” (basically, the Muppet Show: the Next Generation), but only survived two seasons. Other kid’s programming was introduced and, sad to say, lots of kids today have only a brief concept of the Muppets.

That, however, is about to change (at least I hope!). Jason Segal (he of adult raunchy comedy fame) wrote a new Muppet Movie. And I, for one, will be first in line on November 23rd to see it (if they have a midnight showing, I will SO BE THERE).

Doesn’t this NOT make you want to see it?

What I like most about it, is that they didn’t try to “modernize” the characters. Segal and his writer partner Nick Stoller are “Muppet Purists” and didn’t want to see their (our) beloved Kermit insulting people, Miss Piggy deciding she had it with trying to be famous and becoming a social worker (yeah, like THAT would happen) or Fozzie Bear abandoning his dreams of being a comedian and selling real estate instead. They seem to GET the characters and get why the world fell in love with them. And they want to bring that to a new generation of children. Children’s television doesn’t have to be dumbed down. That’s what Jim Henson (and co.) taught us. That you could create a world of fun and silliness and sweetness for children that would appeal to adults too.

When Jim Henson (RIP) died in 1993, I think everyone was not only shocked and saddened (I still cry when I think about him), but concerned about the future of the Muppets. But, and I think this goes to show just how much they are loved, the Muppets have a tight-knit group of Puppeteers (Muppeteers?) that want to keep Jim’s dream and vision alive. They (along with Jim’s family) wouldn’t allow the Muppet name to be ruined with trying to “make the Muppets cool”. They don’t have too. The Muppets ARE cool. The reason there hasn’t been much new in the way of Muppetland is because they are so careful to keep with Jim’s idea of what the Muppets should be and SHOULDN’T be that they’d rather not do anything than do something that doesn’t ring true.

That’s why I’m so excited for this movie. It’s been 10 years in the making (the last full feature length theatrical release was in 1999!) and I think people are ready for the next adventure with Kermit, Piggy, Fozzie, Gonzo (and Camilla the chicken!) and friends. I can’t wait to see what new music Rowlf has written, what new bits Fozzie has worked out, what new invention Dr. Bunsen and Beaker have created, what new “performance art” Gonzo has come up with, and (of course) what utter FABULOUSNESS Miss Piggy has come up with for herself (as stated before, Miss Piggy is totally my personal—and style—icon).

Seriously. look at the girl.

hanging out with Marc Jacobs, no big

in a custom-designed Jason Wu for "In Style" Magazine

The girl (or Pig, whatever) rocks it. She’s blonde and bold and not afraid to chase down what she wants—clothes, frogs, whatever. If Miss Piggy wants it, she’s gonna get it. No question. And all while looking fabulous.

And, also, who can forget the best curmudgeons (sorry P. Garlock!) of all time, Waldorf and Statler

teaching the kiddies how to heckle

I think this movie is going to be HUGE. Mostly because it’s not just going to be families (think mom & dad and their little kids) going to see it. I predict that there will be a large contingent of people in their twenties and thirties (sans children) that will be lining up to see the film. For us, it will be a trip down memory lane with our old pals. Life gets messy and complicated and sometimes you need a release—a reminder of childhood when things were light and innocent and fun. And if by paying $9.50 for a ticket to recapture some of this is what it takes, then by all means. Take my money.

So, in anxious anticipation, I’ll leave you guys with a little video from my FAVORITE FAVORITE FAVORITE holiday special ever, A Muppet Family Christmas. It only aired once and (thanks, Mom and Dad!) my parents thankfully taped it. I watch it once a year (usually along with the Sesame Street 20 years and counting), laughing and giggling and happily remembering my childhood and how a simple holiday special could make everything a-ok. There are tons of great clips (so if you haven’t seen it, I HIGHLY encourage you to watch it. You can get it on DVD now. So check it out here: here), but my very favorite (and also the one that makes me cry) is of the late, great Jim Henson (and Sprocket the dog!)

See you folks later. If you need me, I’ll be in line for the Muppet Movie, singing “The Muppet Show” theme song. On repeat.