That's What She Said

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Melissa Carter: Faith and letting go

Melissa CarterFaith is trust in something unseen. Basically you willingly accept lack of control of a situation and simply let life play out on its own. You let go. That can be an easy concept on an emotional level for many, as our society encourages us to deal with experiences from our past, let them go and move on.

However, to physically let things go is an entirely different matter. It’s all well and good to say goodbye to a bad feeling, but giving up the souvenirs of a time gone by is the ultimate hurdle. Whether it be an overexposed photograph of your siblings or that cumbersome futon couch from your first apartment, throwing them out feels like ripping away a piece of your soul.

Just take a look in your attic or garage at all the things you intend to one day organize when you have time. You’ve actually planned to organize for years, but you just can’t bring yourself to throw out those old high school notebooks or that faded Raggedy Ann doll.

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Melissa Carter: It’s not new love we should celebrate

VMelissa Carteralentine’s Day is a time to celebrate love — or at least the idea of how love could be. We see plenty of examples of young romance on television and in movies. But I wish there were more portrayals of couples still hot for each other after years together. Those are the couples who have figured out what true love really is and remind us that sometimes the secret is more simple than you would think. 

My parents were married for 50 years until my father passed away from cancer in 2001. Their unique and touching romantic gestures towards each other began when they were newlyweds and had no money. On their first anniversary she arrived home from her teaching job and checked the mailbox first like she did every day.

Inside was a letter informing her that her gift was upstairs waiting for her. When she got to her bedroom, there was my dad waiting for her wearing a bow. My mom is in her ‘80s and this story still makes her smile and blush when she tells it.

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Melissa Carter: My frozen Fantastic Four

Melissa CarterI call them the Fantastic Four. No, not Marvel’s famous superhero family. These are four embryos, a product of my in vitro fertilization, that are currently housed in a freezer.

I actually produced five eggs as a result of the procedure but my medical professionals only deemed four viable. Under a bill currently in the works by two Georgia state lawmakers, the act of my clinic discarding that unusable embryo could be considered murder, and my surviving molecular children would be guaranteed the same constitutional protection that I enjoy.

The “personhood” referendum, as it is often called, proposes a state constitutional amendment stating that life begins at fertilization. Thus, legal protection would begin at fertilization as well. Simply, a fertilized egg would be defined as an adult person.

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Melissa Carter: Listen up, ladies. Stop being gross in 2012.

Melissa CarterIt’s a brand new year. Crowds of resolution-inspired men and women are rushing to gyms and health food stores all over town to satisfy their internal promises. This time of year we make all kinds of goals. We pledge to spend more time with family and friends, kick the smoking habit, get out of debt, and try the latest diet.

I have another resolution to add to the To-Do list, but this one is just for women: Get cleaner in the public restrooms. Quite simply, ladies, you are nasty in the bathroom. And it needs to change. Now.

In recent weeks, I attended the standard regiment of holiday parties at bars and restaurants, and scoured the city for the perfect Christmas gifts. While on my trek, I was forced to frequent several public bathrooms. This is the breakdown of what I have experienced. And it isn’t pretty.

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Melissa Carter: Peace, joy, and … family?

Melissa CarterChristmas is a time for joy and peace — until you get around your family. There always seems to be one nagging holiday issue that resurfaces each year for every clan.

It might be where and when you gather, or even who gets to come celebrate. For my family, the big issue has always been determining the best gift exchange scenario.

It began after I started college. Since I was the youngest child, my parents finally had an empty nest. As a broke college student, I cried to my mom that I wasn’t going to be able to buy proper gifts for my whole family, which then forced her to initiate the conversation with everyone about a structured gift exchange to save us all money. Twenty years later we still haven’t found an arrangement that makes everyone happy.

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Melissa Carter: A dog with special needs and a special spirit

Melissa CarterWhen enough pressure is applied, a piece of coal turns into a diamond. In nature, this process takes a great deal of time. But I saw this same process happen in a matter of days with GiGi.

A couple of years ago, Katie and I adopted a special-needs dog from Adopt-A-Golden Atlanta. GiGi is epileptic and suffers seizures periodically. Based on first impressions, she didn’t seem to be a dog that people were rushing to adopt.

When we first met her she wouldn’t even look at us and withdrew to the protective legs of her foster family. After we adopted her, she spent the first few days hiding in the corner of our kitchen. Her silence and reclusive nature is how she earned the name GiGi after the famed recluse and silent film actress Greta Garbo.

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Melissa Carter: Symbols to help you navigate the holiday season

Melissa CarterStress. Thanksgiving weekend has a way of piling on the stress for a lot of us every year. Regardless of whether the stressor is connected to the size of the turkey, layovers in Omaha, dealing with car rental companies or the joy of hours spent in a room with certain family members, the idea of thankfulness can get lost in the chaos.

This year, I suggest you create a symbol, something which represents the idea of appreciation. It will help get you through the weekend and weeks ahead with joy and remind you to be thankful regardless of what you may be dealing with this holiday season.

I recently gave a speech to hundreds of patients who had either received an organ transplant or were waiting for one. As a kidney transplant recipient, I talked about my challenging days on dialysis and showed the audience items I use today to remember the lessons I learned while sick.

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Melissa Carter: Aging with pride

Melissa CarterI am a 41-year-old woman who is proud of my age. I give no apology for being born in 1970 and I am looking forward to my future. However, these days it seems that I can’t escape the constant messages that I should be pining for the good ole’ days of youth.

According to most advertising messages I see, my body is withering away by the second. And it will require all the money in my 401k to repair the damage.

While running errands the other day, an ad came on the radio that began, “Women over 40 have weight gain due to a hormonal imbalance.”  I was then told that it would be impossible to stay thin at my age unless I bought some type of medication that I am sure the FDA has never heard of.

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Melissa Carter: A story to get you in the Halloween mood

Melissa CarterIn honor of Halloween season, I wanted to share a story I heard on the Roswell Ghost Tour. I love this time of year when our imaginations are allowed to roam free. So for all of you with ghoulish minds wide open, this one is for you.

Susan tripped on something in the hallway.

Ouch! What was that? Susan squinted and looked on the floor to see what she had tripped over. She saw that the culprit had been one of Alison’s dolls that had been left in the hallway near her daughter’s closed bedroom door. In fact, several of Alison’s dolls were on the floor, lined up perfectly next to one another, side-by-side, along the baseboard.

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Melissa Carter: Gay parents, don’t be like this

Former Atlanta Disc-Jockey Melissa CarterHelicopter parents. It’s a term originally coined in the book “Parenting with Love and Logic” by Dr. Foster Cline and Jim Fay, and refers to parents who hover over their children like a helicopter. Gay moms and dads, don’t let this be you.

I was not aware of how prevalent helicopter parenting was until I recently had dinner with a friend who is a teacher. She told me that on the first day of school this year she witnessed parents coming in to stock and organize their children’s lockers. Not just one kid’s parents, several.

Oh, and did I mention she is a high school teacher? I thought it was a joke until she reassured me she wasn’t kidding.

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Melissa Carter: Pride can mean more than a party

Former Atlanta Disc-Jockey Melissa CarterBreak out that gaudy rainbow attire because Pride is back in town! I have to be honest: I had a hard time deciding what to write about this week in honor of Pride.

Among the choices was my first Pride celebration in 1992 when I was still in the closet. Weaving my way among the 60,000 people I realized with watering eyes that I was not the only lesbian on the planet. Or ten years later, when I was honored to be a grand marshal in the Pride Parade. I was in kidney failure and on dialysis, but my friends made sure to crank the AC in the convertible that day so I wouldn’t pass out.

There are great memories of marching in the parade every year afterward with Q100, even pushing my way down Peachtree Street in a torrential downpour. If the crowd was getting drenched while celebrating, I thought, so would I.