Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

  • Mood:

Poem: "Outgrowing Notions"

This poem came out of the June 2, 2015 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by prompts from [personal profile] lone_cat, [personal profile] alexseanchai, and [personal profile] siliconshaman. It also fills the "Do You Feel What I Feel?" square in my 6-1-15 card for the June Relationship Bingo fest, and the "Learn Something New" square in my 5-20-15 card for the Wellness Toolbox Bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette. It belongs to the Damask thread of the Polychrome Heroics series.

Warning: This poem is about issues with body changes, body image, and education. If that is sensitive territory for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

"Outgrowing Notions"


I don't understand why
suddenly things don't fit.

We only have one body among us,
at least on the outside;
and on the inside, Ham is the one
who's really into lifting weights
and sparring and all that stuff.

All I've done is fiddle around
with the barbells a bit
to get the hang of lifting things
after Heron mentioned how his sister Molly
would practice for lifting patients
by using dummies and sandbags.

Yet now my green flannel shirt
seems too tight across the chest,
and even some of my t-shirts
are pulling snug at my shoulders.

I go to Ham's room.
Maybe he'll loan me a shirt.


I try not to laugh at Clement,
because really, he should have
seen that coming.

When you're that flabby to begin with,
it doesn't take much of a workout
to start shifting your sizes.

That's why I like muscle shirts so much:
they're soft and stretchy and have
plenty of growing room.

I don't mind loaning him one.

But then I put on my pants
and realize that the waistband
is getting a little snug and
my ankles stick out the cuffs.

"Ai, i-malano-miau!" I say,
as Clement stares at me.

"What's happening to us?"
he wonders, and I give him
an awkward pat on the shoulder.

We've been spending more time together,
going over anatomy worksheets that compare
vulnerable points as martial-arts targets and
as easily injured areas for first aid concern.

That doesn't tell me how to soothe a worried healer.

Then something thumps in the world outside
and I hurry to check it out.

Mallory is lying on her back
on the futon, trying to fasten her pants.

"Hnnng," she says, breathing out hard,
the denim straining in her hands as she
hauls the button toward the buttonhole
of her biggest pair of blue jeans.

The fabric slips out of her grip.

"Fuck," she mutters.
"Sonofabitch shit.
I've outgrown my jeans."

"Chepreca!" I say. "That's a pain,
but at least the baby is growing."
I can sympathize with her frustration, and
I don't even have the excuse of pregnancy
for my unexplained growth spurt.

"Now what the hell am I
supposed to do?" Mallory says.

"Buy some new clothes?"
I say. This is not exactly
my area of expertise either.

Mallory gives me the evil eye.
It is practically wearing a black cape
and hat and mask and pointy leather boots.
"I can't afford to," she says through her teeth.

Mira flutters around behind me,
because fashion is one of her things,
but without a budget available, she
hesitates to come forward.

In the end it's Clarity who
steps up to take over.


"Even if you can't buy new clothes,
this should buy you some time,"
I say, taking a hair tie from
my outside pocket. "Loop it
through your buttonhole,
and then over the button."

"It works!" Mallory exclaims.
"How did you know this?"

"Oh, I learned it from my mother when
she carried my baby brother," I say.

Mallory stares down at her modified pants.
"It's just so much to think about all at once."

"I know," I say. "What about switching
to another topic for a while? Have you
thought any further about college?"

Mallory glances up at me and then
back down at her lap. "I'd like to try again,"
she says softly. "I'm great with computers,
and there's good money in it for people
who have a degree instead of just a knack.
I just ... hate the idea of giving up on theatre."

"You don't have to give up on it," I assure her.
"Look, you earned a bachelor's degree in it.
There's no reason you can't take more classes
from the Theatre Department along with
your new computer classes. Somebody has to
write programs to manage lights and sound
so it doesn't take a dozen people to run them!"

"I hadn't thought of that," says Mallory.

"Let's look at the catalogs," I suggest,
sitting down beside her. So far,
SPOON has proven more than willing
to help Mallory get back into college.
"The big summer courses are full,
but there are plenty of short ones left,
along with the fall offerings."

We look at the classes, and Mallory
gets overwhelmed after a few minutes.
"This is a lot on top of everything else,"
she says, shaking her head.

"Sometimes it helps to break things
into smaller pieces," I say. "Don't try
to think of all the courses at once."

I use my laptop to find printable pages
for comparison/contrast of classes
in pairs or batches, and a blank schedule
so we can make samples to see
which version we like better.

"Oh hey, look at this," Mallory says.
"Professor O'Keefe is teaching
FX: Theatrical Technology
as a one-week intensive."

I look, and sure enough,
it's one credit applicable
toward either Theatre or
Computer Science.

It still feels a little strange
to be working together
instead of on opposite sides,
and I know Mallory feels the same,
but if we keep at it then surely we
can get used to it eventually.

Sometimes life is a process of
outgrowing notions that don't fit anymore.

"Enrollment is still open," I say.
"I'll take it if you will."

"Deal," Mallory agrees.

* * *


For multiples, headspace is their shared layer of reality, what Damask call "the house that is our head" to distinguish it from the college house shared with other students. They create it collectively and can influence it individually, but doing that consciously is a learned skill they have only begun to explore. Internal objects are all the clothes, furniture, and other things that appear in their headspace. To a large extent, these things manifest out of each headmate's personality and experience. So for example, both the physical exercise and the psychological headwork they're doing can lead to changes in how their individual bodies appear within the headspace. Growth in one area manifests as growth in another, although not always in direct correlation.

Body image is how you see yourself and how you feel about that. Body shape can change due to exercise, pregnancy, or many other factors. Know how to improve your body image and cope with pregnancy changes.

It's important for men and for women to understand how clothes should fit. Pay attention to fit when shopping for clothes.

The rubberband trick is one way to stay in your regular wardrobe during pregnancy. This saves money because most women don't stay in maternity clothes for long and sizes can change rapidly, so it doesn't make sense to buy too early or too many. Women also start wearing maternity clothes at different times, typically between 3-4 months. It isn't always the bottom that expands first! Some women outgrow their blouses and bras quickly but stay in regular pants until much later. Understand how to choose maternity pants.

i-malano-miau! – I can’t believe it! (Italian: che malanova mi hai) [Pronunciation: EE-maa-laa-no-mee-auw]
-- American Italian

Similar points on the body appear for martial arts as self-defense targets and for first aid as pressure points. Anything worth hitting in a fight needs checking and possibly protection if someone is injured, and conversely, areas easily injured are worth aiming for in a fight.

chepreca! – what a shame! (Italian: che peccato!) [Pronunciation: kay-preh-KAA]
-- American Italian

College students should pay careful attention to choosing the right course of study and individual classes.

Summer school offers classes for different goals. Colleges customarily offer a range of course lengths, different times of day/night sessions, and more innovative topics in summer. The long ones run similar to semester classes, spanning two or three months and meeting once or a few times a week for an hour or two. Some run for several weeks, often meeting more often and/or for slightly longer sessions. Intensives cram everything into a few days to a week, meeting for half a day or all day. Terramagne-America particularly uses this format for courses that offer a certificate of completion for skill development, such as the first aid or crisis management classes. Many students perform better in shorter courses because it is easier to retain the material. Know how to get the most out of concentrated class sessions.

College students benefit from an organized schedule. Clarity suggests using a semester schedule, side-by-side comparison, and chart comparison to choose classes. A daily planner can help assignments and activities or daily routine and appointments. Homework may be organized in daily, weekly, and/or project format.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, education, fantasy, fishbowl, gender studies, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic

    Your IP address will be recorded 

    When you submit the form an invisible reCAPTCHA check will be performed.
    You must follow the Privacy Policy and Google Terms of use.