Sunday, April 20, 2008

Track meet

Yesterday the UW Oshkosh women's track team had a meet in Illinois. The meet started at 9:30 a.m., which meant we had to leave at 5:15. Ouch. It was a pretty good meet for the team, even though I didn't do as well as I hoped in all my events (high jump, 400m hurdles, and 4x400). I have a couple funny tall stories from the day, though.
First, after my 400 hurdle race, I was in a foul mood. Right after I checked my time, some guy in a red uniform who I'd never seen asked me, "Excuse me, but do you high jump?" Um, okay. Tall girl must be a high jumper. I was crabby but I wasn't going to take it out on this guy. "Yeah I do," I said in a tone I hoped would end the conversation. "What else do you do, pole vault?" Heavy sigh from me, "No, I hurdle. Do you have any more questions?" He says, "Yeah, where are you from?" I replied I was from Oshkosh and mercifully he walked away.
This kind of thing happens occasionally, people just decide to start asking me questions and I don't know what they want. They're usually just curious but it gets to me sometimes.
Was this guy trying to pick me up? Does he walk up to random girls and ask them if they high jump? Probably not. Afterwards, I told my friend when he asked me where I was from I should have answered, "The house of Pain!" and punched him in the face. I always think of good comebacks once it's too late. ;)

Another day, another column.

I wrote a column for the Oshkosh newspaper The Northwestern that was published today. Read it here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


I will be a guest on NPR's Talk of the Nation talking to host Neal Conan and Pulitzer Prize- winning novelist Jane Smiley. Here's what she posted on my 'Life as a Tall Girl' article:

200. March 25th,20085:36 pm
  • I was born in 1949. When I was twelve, I was 5′1″, just like the other girls. By the end of high school, I was 6′2″, and it was 1967. During my adolescence, it was considered possible and even desirable to cut tall girls down by taking some inches out of the long bones of their legs. There was an article in Life magazine about it. I refused this treatment. The last time I had a single regret about being over six feet tall was when I was sixteen. Since then, it has been great. I wear heels in company and when I have to do any stage performances, and I enjoy that. A few clothing tips–Zappos for shoes (big selection) and Lucky jeans for pants (37-38) inch inseams. I’ve had a lot of friends who were in the 5′-5′2″ range, and I learned something from them–it’s a lot more difficult for people to condescend to you when they have to look up to do it.

    — Posted by Jane Smiley

I think it's going to be a great conversation.
Listen tomorrow Thurs., Apr. 17 at 2:40 central time.

Reflecting on a day in NYC

So by now you've seen me on TV, right? Check out the video from my appearance on the Today Show.
The Today show flew me to New York for a day! It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot and met a bunch of great people. I went with my mom, who acted as my personal assistant carrying shoes and bags and everything for me! We hailed cabs and ate fresh bagels and spent $22 for two drinks...all things you don't usually do in Wisconsin. I noticed that in New York I didn't get the stares and comments I usually do here in the Midwest. Or maybe I was just too focused on walking in heels to notice. Read more about my trip in my column for the UW Oshkosh paper, the Advance-Titan.
Also see my slideshow, on the top right here on my page. Click it to enlarge and see more.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Story with Legs

I got home from vacation and a lot was happening. The Today Show filmed in Oshkosh, I was talking to NPR to be interviewed on Talk of the Nation, and a book editor contacted me! Why was my story getting all this attention? It had sprouted legs and was picking up speed, but I was keeping up. I read most of the comments on my post (which is now just , the permanent URL!) and found a lot of posts that started out with something like, "This is like a page out of my diary" or "This is my story," "I could have written this." There were so many women who posted, as short as 5'9" or as tall as 6'8", who had the same anxiety about their height growing up. I was glad to have sparked a conversation where tall women could see that they were never alone, that there are tall women everywhere and each of us has a story about our height issues.
It comforted me to know that people shared my anxieties, and it made me even more proud to be tall and confident. I also began to think about all sorts of people and their hangups on body image.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Email, The Times, and Reactions

The title "The New York Times" rings of authority, creativity, the very pinnacle of American newspapers. At least it does to me. So when Grace emailed me on Mar. 8 and said her friend Tara Parker-Pope wanted to publish my story on her blog, I was ecstatic. I didn't even know that Grace had sent her my article, so it was a complete surprise. Of course I replied immediately that I would love to have my article published in the Times. I didn't even try to be cool or aloof. I didn't think about all the strangers who would be reading my personal story, I was focused on the idea of having a byline in this respected newspaper that I had read and aspired to for years.
Tara and I emailed back and forth, and ended up doing all the edits for the story over email. I had cut some parts with description earlier, and Tara didn't change too much in the text, but the changes we made helped to tighten and clarify the message of my story.
I was getting excited about being published, told my friends and family, but I was a little uncomfortable. I felt, and still feel, like such a novice when it comes to the world of professional journalism. I still have so much to learn about the field, and being so close to it now made me think that maybe I'm not prepared. I know it comes with experience, and I am confident in my abilities, but I guess I was intimidated. But since then I have been learning a lot every day.
When my essay was finally published online on Tues., Mar. 24, I was actually on spring break, camping on the coast of Georgia, so I didn't get to see it until two days later.
On Wednesday, I was laying on the beach on Cumberland Island reading while my boyfriend Scotty was out running. His phone rang. I figured it was his parents and didn't bother to get up. When he checked his message it was my little brother. His message said, "Hey, um, the Today show called. They want to talk to Becky so she should probably turn her phone on...Oh, they said to call them back..." and gave a number. My response was just, 'What?' Why would NBC want to talk to me? I was curious, so I called them back right away. I talked to a producer there who said they read my story and they're doing a spot on tall women and short men, the advantages and disadvantages, etc. They wanted me to be on the show. "So does that sound like something you'd be interested in?" the producer asked. "Um, Yes!" It was very surreal to be sitting on this gorgeous beach talking to the Today show. This was like nothing that had ever happened to me, and I didn't even know what to think, but I was excited to see what would happen.

I wrote this essay for class...

In order to understand what I want my blog to be about, I need to go back over its inspirations. I've learned a lot over the past month or so, and I want to get it all down here so you all can understand too.
I entered the spring semester at UWO looking forward to my classes. I had Magazine Publishing, and I was looking forward to learning what it takes to design, edit and publish a magazine. I was also taking Feature Writing. I was excited and a little apprehensive about this class; I knew it would be a challenge, but I also knew if I worked hard I could write some great stories. The teacher was Grace Lim, a woman whom I respected, but also sort of feared. Let's just say she's intense. But I knew she would challenge me to produce good writing.
Our first assignment was to write a personal essay. I've never been to type to talk much about personal stuff, so i wrote about the jobs I have to help pay for college. I took the story to Grace and she promptly gave it the axe. She told me that if I didn't write something truly personal then no one would want to read it. She shared how she had wished she were white instead of Asian growing up, and she encouraged me to write about being tall.
So I went home and poured out all these memories from my childhood, adolescence, my entire life. I wrote the essay focusing on how I was, and still am, singled out for being a tall woman. I recalled how, during my teens, I stuck out as different when all I wanted was to fit in with the crowd.
I read a draft of the essay in class the next week, in early March. My face was red the entire time, but my voice was clear (I think). It was difficult to read it in front of my peers, and I don't think I could have done it even 3 years ago, I was still too uncomfortable about my height even then. But everyone seemed to like the essay, especially the kicker (final sentence) where I defied the shyness I had felt about being stared at: "In fact, sometimes I wear heels. Just to make them look twice."
I felt good having written it. I had accepted and embraced my height, but I had never really put the whole story into words and shared it with so many people. It reminded me to be proud of my height as well as my writing ability.

Tues., Apr. 1, the Today show came. Really!

Nick Palledino, associate producer for the Today show on NBC, came to UW Oshkosh yesterday with camera and sound guys to follow me around for a few hours. I'm going to be on the show LIVE on Wed., Apr. 9, but they wanted to prepare a taped spot of me in my natural habitat! It was cool--I've never had someone put a microphone on me, never been the center of the camera's attention--but it was also a little awkward. They came to my Feature Writing class at 12:40 yesterday afternoon. I was already in the building, but they had me put on my jacket and backpack and go back outside so they could shoot me going into the building. I was trying really hard to act normal but it was weird coming into Clow, going back out, coming in again, all while being filmed and trying to act like I was just heading to class on a normal day! But the crew was really nice, and pretty soon I got over it. They taped me at track practice, high jumping and hurdling. All my teammates were asking me what was going on and saying congratulations. Then it was time to get ready for the taped interview, something I was pretty nervous for since I've never been that good at talking about myself. But I guess that's what started all this in the beginning!
I have to work this morning, but the story will continue this afternoon. Cheers!