Sunday, June 29, 2008

Real Beauty

This is going to be a doozy of a post, I can tell already. First, sit back and enjoy this Dove film that was made for their Real Beauty campaign.

Spending time with high school kiddos lately has reminded me how big of an issue body image is for most (though not all) girls in our society. I took part in a great conversation with some girls while we were in Mexico which got my heart all riled up. We are bombarded with images of how we're supposed to look and given standards that are almost impossible to reach. It seems to me that a lot of this stems from the media- T.V., movies, magazines, billboards etc. But this is an epidemic so widespread, that even if a girl is isolated from these images, there is still the influence from other women in their lives. Mothers, sisters, aunts, teachers and other women all contribute to the disease of negative body image. I know I'm guilty of suspending this problem.

It all started when I was born. 9lbs 10oz. Nope, that's not a typo. I was a huge baby. I don't think I'll ever be able to repay my mom for the pain she had to endure when carrying me for nine months and then going through the agony of labor.

I've always been chubby. I kinda hoped that the baby fat would just disappear with time, but twenty three years later I've still got it. This weight problem has always been a source of pain for me as I don't fit our society's standards of what is considered beautiful. In elementary school we played the usual game of boys chasing girls on the playground, except that the boys never wanted to chase me. In middle school there was even more running as we were expected to run a mile in gym class. I wasn't much of a runner so I usually walked about 90% of the mile. This resulted in much heckling from "The Crew" which was Longs Peak Middle School's clique of mean girls. Oh by the way, they also had a cute nickname for me: Manhands. Thanks to my larger than the average female hands, The Crew were given a good source for ridiculing me and making me hate life in general. When carting books at the library I can usually grab 5-6 novels at a time (which probably means nothing to you, but in the world of library shelvers, most women grab 3 at a time). Maybe it is a good thing that my hands are so big because they complement my larger than average head. Yes, I have a large head too.

By the time I hit high school my self esteem hit rock bottom and I gave up caring about myself. This lasted into the college years until I took a class that changed my life. It was Soc 360: Intro to Social Psychology. Kate Lane was the instructor teaching it, so of course it was going to be good. We spent the entire semester examining the human body from the toes all the way up to the head. Yes, we even talked about those unmentionable parts. Each week we focused on a different part of the body and discussed how our society has established norms for that particular body part. This class was both educational and entertaining all at once. One of the most powerful activities we did in class was when each student was given a 3X5 card to write down which part of their body they are most ashamed of and wished could be more "normal". The exercise was anonymous and optional, but as it turned out every single student participated and so did the professor.

I was blown away by some of the responses that were turned in. Some were legitimate, but others seemed ridiculous. People who I thought looked perfect and fit our societies "ideal" were self conscious about something. I'm sad that it took me that long to realize that no one is perfect, therefore it is ridiculous to set such high expectations on ourselves and on others. I walked away from the final class that semester letting out a huge sigh of relief.

Of course I still have body image issues, but they aren't nearly as intense as they were a few years ago. For example, I'm not exactly thrilled to be a bridesmaid next month when I'll get to stand next to a bride and her two sisters, all of whom are Twiggy thin. But then I have to stop and remind myself why I'm doing it: I love my brother and am excited to be part of this amazing celebration.

And for the first time in my life I've taken control of my health and am being more mindful of what I'm putting in my body. No longer am I succumbing to emotional eating and hiding behind baggy clothes in an attempt to not be noticed. I'm watching what I eat and exercising more in hopes of getting my BMI to a healthy level. Plus, I'm really happy.

Adele is the new British singer on the scene who is making waves with her music and her image. I read an article about her in a magazine this week that made me respond with a "rock on girl!" (which made for a Bridget Jones moment since I said it out loud while on the treadmill at the Y). Here is her response when asked about being full-figured: "I'm overweight, but I don't care. The British press makes sly remarks [about my weight] sometimes. Blogs mainly. But I don't care what some 12-year-old boy thinks in his bedroom". I hope this sassy girl sticks around for a while!

Friday, June 27, 2008


I guess I should explain more fully why this blog has become limited access. Besides the fact that a lot of people were reading who I didn't really think should be reading it, there was also a potential stalker issue which I'm trying to avoid.

It all started back in March as I was working at the library's information desk. We had just received new name badges which include our first and last names on them. Several staff members were uncomfortable with their full names being in plain view, but I didn't really think much of it. Then one day a slightly strange man came up to the desk to ask about our computers with internet use so I told him about our policies and directed him to the computer lab. He thanked me and went on his merry way. About an hour later he was evidently done with the computer and stopped by my desk again. I don't remember what he said exactly but it was something to this effect: "Becca in the Bayou eh? Must have been real hot in Mississippi. I'll see you around, bayou girl".

I can only assume that he Googled my name and stumbled upon my blogs because I had never seen him before. I would have been slightly less creeped out if he were a 20 something guy with a nice smile, but this guy was definitely older than my dad and had a funky smell to him. The incident was harmless enough that no serious action needed to be taken, however, our "security guard" suggested that I either take the blog off line or make it private in order to prevent him from going any further with his stalking.

Since then I've switched back to our old name badge with just my first name on it and have only seen the creep-o a few times at the library. Thankfully he has left me alone.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Netflix reviews

I've been keeping the good folks at Netflix busy this summer with all my movie viewing. Here are the good, the bad and the ridiculously ugly:


Transamerica- Felicity Huffman is brilliant and I kept forgetting that she's a woman in real life.

Soldiers in the Army of God- documentary about pro-lifers with crazy facial hair. I highly recommend.

Into the Wild- This might be one of those rare times when the movie is better than the book.

Friends of God: A Road Trip with Alexandra Pelosi- Fascinating look at evangelical Christians in America. My favorite moment in the movie was when Ted Haggard and a few of his church members claimed that their wives climax every night. Too bad his little scandalous affair became public a few days after this film aired on HBO.

4 Little Girls- Another brilliant piece from Spike Lee. It takes a look at the 16th St Baptist Church bombing in Birmingham in 1963 that killed four girls and shook up the civil rights movement. I dare you to try and not cry while watching it.


August Rush- So corny. And yet I did shed a tear toward the end.

Terms of Endearment- What is the deal with Debra Winger's laugh? I was so annoyed with it that I feel I didn't give the film my full attention.

Ridiculously ugly

Because I Said So
- Mandy Moore should not be allowed to act. Ever. It was painful to watch. Oh, and the part where she explains to Diane Keaton what an orgasm feels like was horrendously awkward.

I hope you found this educational and useful for your future movie viewing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Dr. Pendergraff

I love to read obituaries. While I find it unfortunate that we wait until a person dies to say lovely things about each other, I also find obits to be so fascinating. They're like bite sized memoirs wrapping up a lifetime of memories and experiences in one tiny little column.

A co-worker sent the following obituary to me. Dr. Pendergraff was the husband of my favorite children's librarian who retired a few years ago. I really wish I could have met him.

This is a pretty long obit, so don't feel obligated to read the whole thing. I recommend the paragraph that I've put in bold. It's my favorite.

Dr. Isaac Beverly Pendergraff
1947 - 2008

Dr. Isaac "Ike" Beverly Pendergraff, Jr. died at his home in Louisville, Colorado on Sunday, June 8th.

He was born on April 15, 1947 in Brenham, Texas to proud parents, Annie Lois Brown Pendergraff and Isaac Beverly Pendergraff, Sr. He was an honor student at Pickard High School in Brenham. During his Pickard school days, he participated in the first CSUDS Program at Colorado State University. Following completion of the eleventh grade and meeting other conditions, he was admitted to Paine College in Augusta, Georgia on an academic scholarship. He completed his first year as an early admissions student and was awarded a Pickard High School diploma as well.

In his junior year, he transferred from Paine College to Colorado State University. He graduated in 1968 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Sociology-Anthropology. He earned a master's degree in the same field the following year through Colorado State University's first Martin Luther King Fellowship. He was also commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United Sates Army through Colorado State University's ROTC program.

Later he received a Master of Arts Degree and a Doctor of Ministry degree in ministry and social ethics from the University of Chicago. Concurrently, he was certified to do clinical pastoral work by the University of Chicago Hospitals and Clinics. The title of his doctoral dissertation was, "The Military Chaplain as Clarifier, Mediator, and Soldier's Advocate: The Case of Conscientious Objection within the Military." His dissertation was published in the Military Chaplain's Review. Following graduation, he was ordained as a minister by the American Baptist Churches, USA.

On September 22, 1974, in Oak Park, Illinois, he married Sandra Elizabeth Diggs, whom he met in graduate school at the University of Chicago. His daughter, Erika Jewel Pendergraff, was born almost ten years later, on June 13, 1984, in Boulder, Colorado.

He was certified as an army Chaplain at Fort Hamilton, New York. He spent three years in the army largely at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Georgia. He attained rank of Captain and received the Army Commendation medal and certificate; the highest award granted by the army in peace time.

After his tour of duty ended, he did two years of post doctoral work at the University of Denver. He earned a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Denver in 1979 and qualified later for ACSW certification.

He worked for two years as a school social worker in the Saint Vrain Valley School District. He worked for one year at a mental health center in Englewood, CO. He went on to work for 20 years as a school social worker in the Jefferson County School District. He was a professional and compassionate person whom colleagues as well as students could trust with their deepest feelings. Before his retirement in May of 2003, he received the Social Worker of the Year Award from the Jefferson County School District.

He had respect for individuals regardless of their station in life. People often found themselves spilling out their hearts to him. He was a strong advocate for the underdog. Fairness and honesty were important to him. He was a deeply spiritual person. Having studied the piano as a child, he remained a gifted pianist. Although he tended to be serious, his broad smile warmed the hearts of family and friends.

He is survived by his wife, Sandra Diggs Pendergraff, Louisville, CO; his daughter, Erika Jewel Pendergraff, Westminster, CO; his mother, Lois Wright, Boulder, CO; his sister, Veronica Pendergraff-Woods, Corpus Christi, TX; an uncle, Dr. Thomas Browne, Los Angeles, CA; and many adoring aunts, first cousins, second cousins and devoted friends.

He was preceded in death by his father, Isaac B. Pendergraff, Sr.; his maternal grandparents, Eldee M. Brown, Sr. and Fannie Brown; and his paternal grandparents, Rev. Mack Lee Pendergraff, Sr. and Sarah Pendergraff.

Visitation: Sunday, June 15, 5:00-7:00 p.m., Crist Mortuary, Boulder Colorado. Funeral Service: June 16, 11:30 a.m., Crist Mortuary, Boulder, Colorado. Officiating Clergy: Rev. Jodi Bushdiecker. Interment: Monday, June 16, 2:00 p.m., Fort Logan, Denver, Colorado. Crist Mortuary is in charge of Arrangements.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Livin' at home

As a kid I was often shown how fortunate I was to have the parents that I have. All it took was a play date at my bestest good friends house to see an example of bad parents. Her mom acted like a teenager and often wanted to be “just one of the girls” with us. I always thought she was cool to hang out with, but at the end of the day I was glad to go home to my mom who acted like a grownup. Her dad was even more unbearable to be around because of the verbal abuse he constantly dished out to his wife. When my friend and I were in fourth grade, things got really ugly which resulted in a painful divorce. This really affected my friend and she was never the same afterwards. Our friendship eventually drifted apart as we went to different schools for fifth grade and middle school. We attended the same high school and we’d say hi in the hallways between classes, but she was headed on a very different path than I was and we never hung out in the same social circles.

If there is anything good in me, it’s all thanks to my parents who influenced me more than anyone else. I adore them and envy them all at once. They have a marriage that is so cute and ridiculously full of love, sometimes it makes me want to vomit. They managed to beat the odds in their families and have stayed hopelessly devoted for 26 years now. My mom’s parents divorced when she was young and her two brothers don’t exactly have great love stories. My dad’s parents managed to stay married for 53 years before they both passed away, although they stopped sleeping in the same bedroom back in 1960 (my dad is the youngest child and was born in ’59). Of the five siblings, my dad is the only one who has successfully remained married (three siblings have four divorces among them and the other one has never married).

This past ski season I rode up the lift with girl who was about my age. We got to chatting and discovered that we had a lot in common. One of the major differences though, was that she was really ashamed of the fact that she had moved back in with her parents after college. That certainly isn’t the case with me. I actually like living with my folks and have come to regard them as friends. If you know my parents, I’m sure you understand this. If you haven’t met my parents, you’re missing out.

Sure, there are times when I think, “Hmm, I should grow up someday and get a job and a boyfriend and pay rent and stuff like that”. But who decided that those are the key ingredients to a happy and fulfilling life? One of the most intriguing topics we discussed in my college anthropology class was the idea of matri/patrilocality and western civilization’s rejection of that ideal. In many societies around the world, it is considered normal for families to remain close-knit after the children come of age. I think it can be a beautiful thing if all the variables allow for a positive experience. As long as the economy is in it's current state, I'll likely be living at home just like several of my other friends in the same boat. Plus my parents have TiVo and a well stocked fridge, so why would I want to leave?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Adventures in housesitting

For the next three weeks I'll be sharing a bed with three guys and a girl. No, it isn't as kinky as it sounds. I'm housesitting for some family friends who have two dogs and two cats, all of whom seem to think it is ok to sleep in the guest bed with me. I've tried to close the door and keep them out, but that only makes them upset and they claw at the door until I open it up. I guess I'll just have to deal.

In other news, there's a creeper in the basement. There are a few construction projects going on at the house which means there are various members of the crew in and out of the house all day. One fella works particularly odd hours as he's here working on the basement bathroom in the evenings only, usually until midnight. At first I was really nervous about being in the house alone with this weirdo, but I noticed he has a boatload of Christian bumper stickers on his car, so I guess he's ok. He pretty much keeps to himself unless he needs to use the bathroom upstairs. Last night I was completely engrossed in an episode of Sex and the City and didn't even notice him come up the stairs. He scared the poo out of me by making a comment about the show and then he made is way down the hall. I'm thinking about tying a bell around his neck so I'll know where he is all the time!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Awkward flirtation

Driving down 9th Ave on the way to the Y as Keith Urban comes on KYGO. Must turn the volume up. Little bit more, just a bit more. There we go. With the windows down there is no way the cars and pedestrians on the street can ignore his dreamy voice belting out those clever lyrics.

All is well in the world until I hit a red light. Not to worry, I'd hate to arrive at my destination before this song is over. I pull up to the line next to a Mitsubishi Eclipse convertible. Nice car. I wonder if he wants to race. I'm pretty sure my Subie wagon would kick his ass.

The Eclipse pulls up even with my car. Maybe he does want to race. Oh jeez. Ok, I'll just look over real quick to assess the situation. Who knows, maybe I know him and he's just saying "hi". Alright, just a quick, stealth glance. Nope I don't know him.

Mr. Eclipse is kinda cute. He is definitely smiling at me and, wait, did he just do "the nod"? He totally did. I wish I didn't blush so easily. I look away and try to avoid looking at him again. Ok. I can't help it. I look over again and he's got his elbow propped on the door. No wedding band. Doesn't necessarily mean anything. I know a lot of married guys who don't always wear their ring.

Ok, try to ignore him. Looky there, my car has 213,086 miles on it. I wonder how many more she'll go. I can see him in my peripheral vision. He's still looking over. How long is this light? I wonder if the treadmills will be crowded tonight. He's still looking over. I'm so not good at flirting.

Finally the light turns green and I take off, leaving him at the line. I knew Subie could kick his ass.

Monday, June 16, 2008

I guess my PC(USA) diet starts in September

As of today I am working as the part time custodian for our church. I know some of you will be disappointed with this choice, but I'd like to thank you for voting and giving me ideas for jobs (some better than others:) I'm a bit shocked that milk delivery driver came out on top, but I guess it is better than the other options!

This was certainly the easiest job I've ever applied for, although come to think of it, I didn't even apply for it. I had briefly spoked to the full time custodian's daughter about the need for someone to fill in this summer and before I knew it I was told to come in for training a few days later. I have to say that's the first time I've been accepted for a job before I even decided if I wanted to apply or not. I think it will be a decent situation, especially knowing that it is part time and I will be done in August. I had planned on disconnecting from the church for a while in order to get my heart straightened out again and explore other options, but that will just have to wait until the end of summer.

Aaron had warned me that there would be many an awkward conversation while doing this job, and I got my first taste of that this morning. While I was cleaning some bathrooms, a church member came over to chat and wound up telling me all about her post traumatic stress disorder and how it is affecting her son's grades. All the while I'm holding a toilet bowl brush. It was awesome.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Just got back from Mexico yesterday and am still trying to catch my breath as well as catch up with all that I've been disconnected from. I'll keep this one brief so I can save the good stuff for conversations to come. Here are the bullet points of the trip:


Long van rides full of quality conversations with the students- it's amazing how much better you can get to know each other when you're crammed into a small space!

Seeing old friends in Agua Prieta- it has been seven years since I've been there and it was great to see the pastor and his family plus all the church members.

Venturing to Hermosillo- I always love seeing new places.

VBS- I enjoyed making a fool out of myself as the kids tried to speak to me in Spanish and I would respond with silly faces. Despite that, the kids had a great time and I think they learned a lot.

The beach- Despite most of our group frying in the sun, it was a beautiful day of relaxation.

The food- delicious.


Spiritual dissonance- I realize that I've got more soul searching to do than I realized which will probably result in a break from the church for a while.

TMI ALERT: if "girl issues" freak you out, quit reading this post- I was disappointed by Aunt Flo's insistence on coming along to Mexico. I was hoping she'd delay her visit by a week, but she was punctual as usual. She made the beach day particularly aggravating and forced me to wear my cranky pants for a majority of the week. On the plus side, she provided the hilarious experience of buying tampons in a Mexican convenience store where they only sell size Jumbo.

I guess that's about all. I've learned in the past that the lessons from these Doulos trips usually continue to penetrate my heart for months and even years afterwards, so I don't have too much reflection to talk about just yet.