Reptilia Comes Out for Charity

Sharon April 10th, 2008

One of the best things about blogging and doing this stuff is the relationships I’ve built with all these neat people I would never have met anywhere else.  One of my favorite such relationships is with Crunchy Chicken, she of the Diva Cup, the polls on whether it is environmentally wise to dye your pubic hair and the ability to make low energy living funny and enormously fun.  I feel like a celebrity visits every time she comments on my site.   

 Even cooler, now that I know her better, I’m getting to work with her Poultriness and the equally remarkable Simplicity Goddess Shasha Cedar (along with some guys whose names I won’t even mention because this post isn’t about guys ;-)) on an amazingly cool new project, that I can’t tell you about yet but you’ll be hearing a lot about soon.

I’m incredibly lucky to get to work with these smart, funny, wise, wonderful women.  Oh, and not that I’ve noticed, but both of them are incredibly gorgeous.  Now these are not 14 year olds - these are grownup women of my approximate age with a history of childbearing, and both of them are just as beautiful outside as they are in.

Which, despite my sheer delight in knowing them, every once in a while brings out the anxious teenager in me (something I try and keep resolutely stamped down), a part of myself I call “Reptilia” that looks at the world as though I was still a dorky 14 year old who was never, ever, ever even going to get to be kissed, even though every other kid in the 9th grade had a boyfriend or a girlfriend, and she was the only one who no one could ever love ;-). 

The thing is,  no one, other than my husband would ever call me beautiful.  Unlike my co-environmentalists, I have not kept what there was of my figure, and I was fairly plain to begin with.  Now don’t get me wrong - this is not something I think about very often - I’m pretty content with myself most of the time.  Not being 14 anymore (and may we thank G-d for that mercy), I don’t live in a world where I have to worry about myself in comparison to others.  And my husband does think I’m beautiful, which is one hell of a lot of consolation.

But I also am a woman, live in the fucked up world, and have the occasional moment of world-supported self loathing.   Hanging out with women are not only smart, but cool, unbelievably energetic, funny and rich with accomplishment - and drop dead gorgeous does, every once in a while, bring out the most pathetic part of myself.   On the one hand, my teenage reptile brain says, “You are finally hanging out with the cool kids!”  On the other hand, Reptilia, my adolescent self says, “Yeah, but it is just as well you live too far away to actually stand next to each other too often.”  Note, this is not the part of myself I’m most proud of ;-).

I hadn’t even been aware that that part of myself was around, since I do keep the evil Reptilia under tight lock and key,  until today, when the Divine Miss Crunch emailed me to let me know about her current project - raising money to find a cure for multiple myeloma, a horrible, incurable cancer that her husband is struggling with.  And if she can raise 10,000 dollars in the month of May, she’ll shave her head. 

So my first thought was “Of course, I want to help Crunchy and her family!”  I honestly can’t imagine how Crunchy manages to deal with her husband’s illness and also do as much good as she does in the world.   My second thought was “I have to find a way to point others in Miss Crunch’s direction so that she’ll meet her goals.” 

My third thought (and remember, this is not the part of me I’m proud of) was “Well, she’ll still be prettier than me, but baldness will definitely close the gap a little.   Maybe if  Shasha would promote the Riot for Austerity by getting one of those fist tattoos on her forehead, and it was a really big one,  then we could go out for beer and take pictures.”   

Generally speaking, the appropriate reaction to Reptilia’s emergence is for me to get out a metaphorical stick and whack Reptilia until she retreats back to the closet, and I become a grownup again, and get to come on the blog and pretend I’m totally over all my insecurities and I’ve got it all together.  But it occurred to me that her emergence today might actually serve a purpose.

Now if I were really a good friend, I would offer to shave my head in sympathy, to raise even more money for a noble cause.  And there are a lot of things that I would do for a good cause - cut back on electricity some more, eat only out of my yard…  But friendship has its bounds, and there’s no way freakin’ way.  But I did want to do something to help.  So my contribution (besides a forthcoming donation, of course) is this - I thought I’d bring Reptilia out and dance her around the room for charity ;-).  Crunchy is mobilizing those motivated by generosity, compassion and admiration for her and her family.  But I can bring another group of potential donors to the table - all those small, petty people who have an inner Reptilia of their own, and who think it just isn’t fair that Crunchy is funny and smart and wonderful, and extraordinarily beautiful, *AND* gets to have hair.  I’m sorry, but there has to be some balance here - I don’t know why no one has ever stepped in before and just said, “Ok, Ma’am, you’re all that and a bag of chips.  Time to shave off the chips.”

  So please donate!  Please publicize!  If you pray, pray for Crunchy and her family.  And  help Crunchy meet her goal, either because you care about her and her family and the victims of multiple myeloma, or for the highest of all possible reasons - to help Sharon stop being a weenie, and because no one really should get to have hair and all those other good qualities. 

;-) ;-) ;-).


25 Responses to “Reptilia Comes Out for Charity”

  1. Amandaon 10 Apr 2008 at 12:22 pm

    Sharon… You are fabulous. Thanks for letting Reptilla out of her cage for a bit — I think most of us can identify!

  2. Beanyon 10 Apr 2008 at 12:34 pm

    You, Shasha and later on, Crunchy have been very inspiring to little old me. Yes I have those insecure thoughts (I was severely dorky teen who grew up in India and at one point decided she wanted to be goth and thus become even more repulsive to nice little Indian boys), about the good looking people being environmentalists, but their sense of humor makes me forget that. Crunchy has also been incredibly inspiring with continuing to radiate positive messages despite her husband’s illness. I know I’d be in a corner eating my hair if put in a similar position.

    P.S. I haven’t read the last 16 posts on your blog because I’m too terrified that the sky is falling and I don’t know what new info I’ll find here that will leave me paralyzed in fear. The feeling usually passes in a few weeks and I read your posts and feel even more motivated to reduce my impact in more. So thanks :)

  3. Besson 10 Apr 2008 at 12:55 pm

    Hey Sharon,

    I just wanted to say that I do think you’re beautiful and always have been (and I’ve known you a very long time now) — Reptilia and all.

  4. Crunchy Chickenon 10 Apr 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Holy smokes, that’s funny, Sharon, because I feel like the little kid who’s been invited to eat at the grown-up table with our new project.

    I think it’s also funny that this fundraiser has brought out (not just you but others too) the cultural standards we hold Western women to regarding their hair. The idea that a woman should have long hair in order to be attractive and the idea that a (gasp!) bald woman either must be crazy or have cancer or some other issue to have such short hair. Regardless of the reason, that person, by default, is unattractive. Men shave their heads all the time and the double-standard doesn’t apply to them.

    I mention this also because my sister-in-law lost her hair this past year due to chemo for breast cancer and it’s a horrible insult to add on top of the injury of fighting for your life - the idea that losing your hair (not just your breasts) = losing your femininity.

    It’s just your hair - we remove it everwhere else on our bodies and that’s considered attractive. Is this some primate-brain throwback to sexual selection? “Girl have hair. Girl make babies. Girl pass on genes. Me fuck girl.”

    In other cultures where the hair is trimmed rather short on women (in some African cultures), I think the women look undoubtedly beautiful. Why can’t we look at a white woman and have the same reaction?

    Anyway, I’m rambling on here and should probably save this for a shave-related post, but either way….

    If it inspires people to donate money to take me down a peg or two, by all means, do it :) I have no problems with it!

  5. MEAon 10 Apr 2008 at 1:26 pm

    I wish Crunchy and her hair and her husband (not, perhaps, in that order the best…

    I think the top secret project is either male birth control (other that the 2 current options) or some sort of sustainable contraception — hopefully not involving (as one ancient Egyptian method did) chicken shit.

    As for Reptialia — we all have one. I think when that part pops out, rather than beating it back with a broom, you can think, that bits trying to get closer to God — let’s see that the Diety can do for it.

    MEA (who is sharing her perception, not suggesting it is the one true believe held by all right thinking people)

  6. homebrewlibrarianon 10 Apr 2008 at 1:28 pm

    I was the fat kid with glasses growing up and got picked on because my social group consisted of me and my best friend (no safety in numbers there!). I totally understand the Reptilia phenom - I think I must have her sister somewhere shoved in the back of my head. Although I must have one serious lock-up going on because she hasn’t made an appearance in quite a long time.

    Knowing people with cancer makes me feel helpless. Often they’re many miles away so I can’t even offer simple things like cleaning house or minding kids. I appreciate what you’re doing to publicize Crunchy’s fundraiser because that’s something I can do - donate - and that act helps me feel that I am participating in an action for the causes of good.

    So swing Reptilia around the dance floor so all her siblings can donate and grin fiendishly when Crunchy shaves her head!

    Kerri in AK

  7. Sarahon 10 Apr 2008 at 2:18 pm

    I’m sort of wondering what percentage of the sustainability movement were the dorky crowd in middle school. I think it gives us a certain advantage in that we got the “but my neighbors will think the chickens are funny-looking” impulse beaten out of us at a fairly early age. If someone is determined to think you are a dork, then nothing you can do will make them think otherwise. You might as well have the chickens (or fantasy novels or unusual food) and get some use out of it.

    And hey, some of us think bald-pated women are kind of sexy ;-) (And if they’re your friends, they sometimes let you pet the top of their head and they’re fuzzy….)

  8. Sharonon 10 Apr 2008 at 2:39 pm

    I agree with you Crunch about the gender standards - and it is a bad thing. Frankly, I think baldness is kind of cool on both men and women, actually - a close friend of mine has alopecia and does not wig it, and it looks great on her. I don’t actually necessarily think that less hair will make you less attractive - although that photoshop pic wasn’t the most flattering starting point ;-).

    I do think that men pay a price for baldness too - at least the kind that doesn’t look obviously voluntary. I know that early in our relationship my husband heard his female roommate and I mention that he was losing his hair, and he was *really* upset - I think he’d hoped no one had noticed. I know a number of guys who have quite a bit of ego tied into their hair too.

    As you say, the whole thing is messed up. I mean talk about an important source of pride - “I can grow hair.” Sigh.

    I think it is awesome that you’d do this, and that you are so cool about it.


  9. Sharonon 10 Apr 2008 at 2:50 pm

    Sarah, I think you’ve pegged it!


  10. Rogeron 10 Apr 2008 at 4:46 pm

    OK, I am bald, I was a definite dork in HS(tried my best to be a tough guy, HA!)
    and I am a dork to this day. I am going to work with kids soon and I DO NOT care about: sports, hunting, fishing, mmm most things that pass for “macho” in many cultures.
    What I have going on is a desire to lose 30 pounds, a real longing for a full head of hair, and a god-awful desire to be able to pray, lay hands on and heal the sick. Stupid eh?
    Not the healing but the others. So reptilia is not a female phenomena only. The plus side for me is that I am still white, male and waaaay privileged. Plus I have an adorable wife who actually thinks I’m cute. Sharon, I don’t know what you look like, but I do know you have a beautiful mind. I do so appreciate your writing and I have learned a great deal from you.
    I am so glad that you lavished praise on Ms Crunchy for her physicality. I felt soo shallow because I was the only one who complimented her new photo.
    All this to say, thank you for your wonderful website.

  11. Rebeccaon 10 Apr 2008 at 5:43 pm

    I was the incredibly poor, plain, dork, brainiac and all around outcast in school, so I got used to being an outsider early.

    Btw Sharon, a LOT of women look really good bald. Melissa Etheridge was *hot* when she was bald after her cancer treatments.

  12. Leila Abu-Sabaon 10 Apr 2008 at 6:05 pm

    I was the dork with really great hair. My reptilia still lives but now that a really yukky cancer has manifested I no longer have great hair…. I have a sprinkle of grizzle at the temples.

    This looks thing is very difficult. This cancer thing is even more difficult. Worst of all is my inner Reptilia. Beating her up won’t cure her - I just apply lots of love and acceptance.

    My prayers go out to crunchy Chicken. I had no idea she was dealing with this in her family. Dear God in heaven…

    And my prayers go out to all women suffering from an infestation of Reptilia.

    BTW Sharon, I was snooping around for info about you once and found your wedding pictures. You are gorgeous! What are you saying? Reptilia is delusional and trying to drive you nuts! You look like me when I had hair!

    Nobody has ever accused me of having a small ego. I may be terminally self-negating but I still have an arrogant side. Sorry. Or, more like, now that I am 45 and bald and chemo-treated, I can really appreciate how good looking I was before all this illness business began.

    Don’t be like me and have to get hit with a nasty illness to appreciate yourself. You are absolutely perfect the way you are, Sharon - and hey, your cutie pie husband is no dummy, so he may know better than you (or Reptilia).

  13. Sharonon 10 Apr 2008 at 6:28 pm

    I appreciate all the sweet comments - Leila, I don’t know what you look like, but I have to imagine gorgeous.

    I should say that I wrote this post rather tongue in cheek, in case that isn’t obvious. I’m really not suffering from an acute case of self hatred. And I knew that when I wrote it, Crunchy and everyone else would come out and say “But I was a dork in high school.”

    That, for me, was the great and glorious revelation of becoming an adult. Everyone, even the drop dead gorgeous people who seemed to have it all together were messed up, felt dorky and thought no one understood them in high school. Adolescence is the process of everyone walking around, simultaneously inwardly moaning “I’m the only one…I feel so alone!” We were all alone together ;-).


  14. Leila Abu-Sabaon 10 Apr 2008 at 9:15 pm

    Well in fact I think I looked pretty good bald the first time around in chemo. This time I haven’t shaved properly (couldn’t find the right ‘grind’ for my husband’s clippers) and the chemo is rockier so I’m feeling less… sporty about it.

    Bald head circa 2005:

    Recent photo with wig:

    And p.s. the curly gray hair picture on the template is from a month before this recent diagnosis, August 2007.

    OK Sharon I gathered that your tongue was firmly in cheek. I may have been projecting some, because my Reptilia is quite toxic; it has taken this level of illness to get me to stop believing in her. Once the choice became ‘believe Reptilia or save your life’, I woke up from the hypnotic trance of Reptilian poison.

  15. Idaho Locavoreon 10 Apr 2008 at 9:42 pm

    Well, I’ll just say that no one would ever mistake *me* for one of the “pretty people” either, but as I’ve grown older, that’s become “okay” most of the time. I also have a reptilia that I have to beat back a lot, but lately she’s mostly been pinging on my other insecurities.

    Good luck, Crunchy! I’ll check out your page and see what I can do to help. I hope you raise way more than you hoped and that it helps someone who needs it - your hubby included. Hugs!

  16. Sue in the Western Great Basinon 10 Apr 2008 at 10:19 pm

    There is definitely an “inner dork” lurking in me and my past. Along with the Barbra Streisand nose (which unfortunately did not bring me the slightest ability to carry a tune) I have this frizzy, kinky hair that, when cut short, curls up in a ‘do that is best described as “half ringlets, half afro”. Anyway, I knew I was in trouble as a kid when the adults would stop me on the street to tell me how beautiful my curly hair was, but the other kids in school would tease me and call me Frizz-head. I was REALLY confused… “gee, I’m glad the grownups like it but I’d really rather impress the kids my own age.”

    Anyway, all in good fun, but this post sure made me think.

    Sue in the Western Great Basin

  17. Jaseon 11 Apr 2008 at 2:12 am

    So, waitaminute - you go on and on about how biofuels are horrible because they take food away from starving poor people, and how horribly unsustainable modern life is…

    And then you parrot a call for 10,000$ for cancer research that will benefit the wealthiest 1% of the world, carried out by the very unsustainable infrastructure you so decry?

    Whoops, I guess the health and happiness of the people we personally know DOES trump the lives of hundreds that we don’t. What’d your god think about that?

  18. Sharonon 11 Apr 2008 at 7:36 am

    Of course the health and happiness of the people we personally know trumps the lives of hundreds that we don’t. Duh! If that weren’t true, my kids would eat just enough rice and vegetables to keep them alive so that I could donate the money to the poor. They don’t. All of our concern about the larger world is mediated through the lens of who and what we care about. That doesn’t mean we don’t care about other people - it just means that any analysis is tiered, and we always have to balance the moral issues of meeting more than just our basic needs with the moral issues of offering justice to others. It is hard balance to achieve, but it is part of the reality - I’m no saint, and I never have claimed to be. And we don’t live in a time of absolute scarcity - the rich world has enough money to support medical research and stop screwing the poor with biofuels - the idea that it is an either/or thing is simply false. When that changes, I’ll change my writing.

    But it is a deep error in reasoning to say that just because moral distinctions are finer than black and white, there shouldn’t be any - that we shouldn’t use these nice big brains we’ve been given to make moral distinctions. Yes, this is money that perpetuates the existing medical system, some of which is good and some of which is bad. Parts of the medical system are things that I think are excellent uses for the small amount of fossil energy we can afford to burn - saying that the system is unsustainable doesn’t mean we can’t use any energy at all for good things, or that there’s nothing of value in the system. So yes, I think there’s a real difference between using fossil energies to try and save the lives of even a small percentage of young people who would otherwise have been healthy, and whose cancers are probably a result of some of the practices of modern lives, and growing biofuels so that already rich people can drive to the mall. I don’t find that an-overly subtle distinction - I’m surprised anyone does. I’m all for insulin pumps and electric wheelchairs too - meeting real *needs* (as opposed to wants) with what energies we can afford to use - and because those are better uses than biofuels, we need to put our money and energy where there’s value.

    Instead of saying “oh, this only applies to the richest 1%, I do my work as much as possible making sure that there is no 1% distinction - sometimes that means bringing the rich folks down and sometimes it means trying to raise the poor folks up - to make available to them what they should have access to in a more just system. My donation to Crunchy’s family comes over and above my other charitable donations - straight out of our household budget - I assume my readers are subtle and ethical enough to make judgements about where they should put their charitable dollars. Moreover, while research by the MM foundation will probably benefit only those fortunate enough to have insurance or money and unfortunate enough to have cancer, that’s not always the case - low cost medical advances do come out now and then - for example, the vaccine against cervical cancer. The benefits of that have the potential to reach millions or even billions of poor women. And that’s why I think medical research should go on while it can - because when the money stops, we’re left with what we can do, but cancer won’t stop.


  19. Jaseon 11 Apr 2008 at 9:21 am

    “Of course the health and happiness of the people we personally know trumps the lives of hundreds that we don’t. Duh!”

    Congratulations. So, what is your cutoff for a ‘bad’ lifestyle then? If your personal circle’s health and happiness trump the lives of a hundred faceless people, then what basis do you have for assailing someone who’s health and happiness trumps two hundred people? Do you make the cutoff at, say, one hundred and eighty eight? Or just hit the cognitive dissonance button?

    “young people who would otherwise have been healthy”

    Oh, and multiple myeloma most commonly occurs in people 65-70 years old. So… yeah. ‘Think of the poor children’ doesn’t really apply here, statistically (truthfully) speaking. And the whole “probably a result of some of the practices of modern lives” thing? Yeah, so in the words of the internet, ‘pix or stfu.’ You want to say OMG teh modern lifestyle is bad? First, show that there’s a meaningful link - scientifically shown, statistical link. Then show that that in turn balances out all of the benefits. KTHNXKBYE.

  20. MEAon 11 Apr 2008 at 9:46 am

    Jase–look at it this way — one of my children needs a couple of thousand dollars of drugs a month to keep her alive. I could let her die, and spend ask the insurance company to donate that money to keeping a lot of third world children alive. Of course the company wouldn’t do that, and I might well end up in jail, but the point is, I’ve decided that the life of my child is worth the life of a lot of other children.

    I do not, however think that she deserves a quality of life over that which I can provide while trying to keep my emmisions under 10% of the U.S. average. (I don’t succeed, mostly due to managing 2 children with chronic illness.)

    What it comes down to is most people are fairly good, but not completely selfless. The more grown up among us have learned to live not with the fact that other people aren’t perfect, but that we aren’t — that, speaking for myself alone, I’m not really a good person. But that said, I can waste a lot of energy having a nice guilty wallow, or I can take care of my children, and do what I can for others. Not as much as I could if I didn’t but my children first, but surely a little something is better than a fat lot of nothing?

  21. Jaseon 11 Apr 2008 at 11:49 am

    “… I’ve decided that the life of my child is worth the life of a lot of other children.”

    “I do not, however think that she deserves a quality of life over that which I can provide while trying to keep my emmisions under 10% of the U.S. average.”

    So… she deserves life while dozens others starve or die of malaria, AIDS, etc, but she doesn’t deserve a high quality of life?


  22. rdheatheron 11 Apr 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Remember that trolls shouldn’t be fed.
    Even if they’re ‘concern’ trolls.

  23. Anonymouson 11 Apr 2008 at 12:13 pm

    Yep. Just the basics, which I hope everyone is has, but know they don’t, and a few treats.

  24. Kation 11 Apr 2008 at 7:34 pm

    I rarely comment, but this is to Jase. My Mom’s best friend died last month of Multiple Myeloma. She was diagnosed at 50 years old, and didn’t quite make it to her 51st birthday. She left behind a 22 year old daughter who’d lost her Father not 6 years ago to cancer as well….. Cancer, whether in ourselves or in somebody else, touches us all. And, by donating to Crunchy’s hubby’s cause NOW, we may be saving a LOT of pain for those who will hit 50 in the NEXT decade and face the possibility themselves. Do we say “why bother fund Juv. Onset Diabetis because I don’t have a child?” Or, do we say… “My Dad had Juv. Onset diabetis, I’m going to fundraise for this cause so that HOPEFULLY a cause is found BEFORE my future children run the risk.” As a mom, as a daughter…. I’d go with the second option. No matter what medical issue you decide to focus on, it’s ALWAYS better to go with the second option, if you have money to spare beyond what it takes to keep yourself alive.

    Just because we can’t do it ALL (completely erradicate global hunger, and global warming, and stupidity) doesn’t mean we can’t do SOMETHING (donate food or money locally or in regards to those we DO know, cut down on emissions, educate our children). Cliche, maybe, but EVERY little bit counts, and somewhere, someone is thankful!

    Sharon & Crunchy Chicken, my prayers & best wishes for CC’s hubby. I hope his diagnosis is considerably better than was that of Janis (my mom’s best friend) and I hope his treatments work and he goes into full remission and succeeds in watching his children grow up & find some success in life.

  25. […] Comment on Reptilia Comes Out for Charity by Leila Abu-SabaI was the dork with really great hair. My reptilia still lives but now that a really yukky cancer has manifested I no longer have great hair…. I have a sprinkle of grizzle at the temples. This looks thing is very difficult. … […]

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