Saturday, August 28, 2010

the bigger picture

oh, it's all so fucking exhausting.

being a Good Feminist™, i mean. after all, there's so much to be *angry* about! and i mean that genuinely - there really is so much to be angry about. i have a lot of friends that spend exorbitant amounts of time reading feminist theory and being angry. seriously, it's amazing they have time to do anything else!

and it's all true. i hate living in a world where so much of the way i'm perceived by others has more to do with the boobs they see than what i'm like as a person. i hate living in a world where i have to wonder if i'm not being undervalued in my monthly paycheque. i hate living in a world which thinks the single most salient characteristic of my personhood is my chromosome set, and markets everything around me and to me based on what they believe that chromosome combination Should Mean.

i hate having to constantly second guess the motives and historical and patriarchal influence behind everything and everybody - including everything *i* personally think and feel and do. i hate hate hate it.

see? there really is so much to be angry about!

and that's before you get to all the intra-movement in-fighting about priorities, and strategies, and scrabbling for scarce resources, and slights (imaginary, unintentional and real), and who speaks for whom, and the contingent who believe they have the moral imperative to tell you You're Doing Feminism Wrong.

who has the energy for all of that?

i mean i do, a lot of the time. i used to have more - it's easy to get and stay all good-and-riled-up when you're fresh out of uni with few other responsibilities or demands on your time. not so easy when you're nearing forty, but i'm a hot-tempered bleeding-heart liberal by nature so it's easier to keep my juices flowing about all the injustices in the world.

but goddamn, sometimes i just want to tell all those young idealist women who spend all that time being angry, that eventually you have to step back. that being that angry all the time will drain you dry. that as you get older you realise that Being Right isn't always the most important thing. (and as heretical as the idea seems, sometimes there isn't even a Right or Wrong!) that seeing the world through whatever the opposite of rose-coloured glasses is, tints everything with the same bleak hue.

and that for all there is to be angry about (and there is a lot of stuff to be angry about! a lot of stuff worthy of good, honest anger honed to a razor sharp edge of righteous indignation!), there is also so much more to life that is joyful. there is love and beauty and kindness and warmth. for every injustice worth railing long and hard against, there are also things worth celebrating - and some of it is even part of the kyriarchy.

you've got to choose your battles in this world. and all Good Feminists™ should fight the fight, and never stop fighting. but sometimes you concede the battle in hopes of winning the war. and sometimes you have to step back and look past the battlefield entirely, so you can see the trees and the mountains and the whole beautiful goddamn thing that makes living worthwhile in the first place.

i still want to be a Good Feminist™, but i'm finally brave enough to know when not to fight, i'm learning that there isn't always a Right or Wrong, and i'm hoping like hell to step back from the anger and exhaustion more often to see the big blue marble. i've got a world to change... but more importantly, i've got a LIFE to live.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

I'm Holding Out For a Hero

I caught the last half of Juno this weekend. I think Lifetime was running a movie marathon featuring preggo teens because Where the Heart Is was on just after it. I was reminded of the scene in Juno where Jason Bateman's character gives the baby-bellied Juno a copy of a comic featuring Most Fruitful Yuki, a Japanese manga/anime superhero that "Leads with the belly and follows with the sword." He gives it to her to kind of tell her she can still be cool even though she's sporting the most lame teen fashion accessory ever.

There have been a handful of movies that deal with the human as hero theme. I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and Kick-Ass and really liked them both.

How nice it would be if more of our super hero imagery was linked to things more typical than being accidentally disintegrated in an Intrinsic Field Subtractor. I know I tend to focus on my areas of weakness rather than where I excel. I fight a sometimes losing battle to see myself as the sum of my strengths rather than a laundry list of failures. Can organizational skill be a super power? Can dinner party prowess repel evil forces? Can baking save the planet from certain destruction?

I don't shoot spiderwebs out of my fingers, I clean them out of corners. I can't change the earth's rotation, but I can plan a successful marketing plan and tell with 99% accuracy whether my ten year old is lying. I can't catch a bullet in my teeth, but I can do things that knock my husband's socks off without fail. I'm working on controlling my negative thinking, focusing on my strengths and putting my mind to something and doing it. I used to be really good at this but some where along the line I just got out of practice. I'm working on what my hero looks like, not like super moms, trying to do everything perfectly and effortless. Rather the real me, fierce and capable. When I start to see myself that way, I act from that place and the universe conspires to lend me a hand.

Are you a super hero?

Do you have extraordinary abilities, super powers or relevant/advanced equipment?

A fly costume?

A sidekick?

A secret identity?

A secret hideout?

A back story that explains your motivations?


Monday, August 23, 2010


“So it looks like we’ll more or less live separately but continue to see each other”, I tell her, “I’m fine with that, in fact, it’s always been my fantasy although I’ve said it to any partner, and now it just looks like it’s going to happen without fuss”.
We’ve just rented a flat in the city 30 mins  drive from my home in a village, ostensibly for nights out and a place to stay for my partner after a particularly exhausting shift in A&E, but it’s real purpose is quickly becoming apparent.
“Funny how that’s a fantasy for so many women”, she replies.
Is it?  I’ve known quite a few women who nodded in absolute agreement whenever I’ve mentioned it, even a few women who managed to achieve it.  Is it a woman’s fantasy?  Actually, I have tentatively suggested this possibility to previous partners. They always took it badly, as rejection.  It doesn’t seem to be a fantasy among the men I’ve lived with up till now.
I love my partner, but living with him kills it stone dead.   There’s endless resentment about who does what in terms of chores.  Conflicts about how to organise the house.   Sleeping and energy level incompatibilities between one who works shifts and another who has no imposed timetables.  Endless directions on how to do things I’ve been doing fine for years without his help. 
“He told me how to cut sellotape yesterday, and I just snapped”,  I told another friend.   “Do you think it’s a particularly Spanish trait?” she asks me, as her Spanish partner tells her unnecessarily how to drive to a particular street in a city she has lived in for 20 years.
I feel suffocated.  I can’t even wash salad without unsolicited advice.  For someone whose husband has been unfaithful, this probably sounds like small fry.  In my case, my previous partner was violent, but even so I am in no way thanking my lucky stars right now to have found someone who limits himself to advising me on how to cut sticky tape.
Jen’s post about losing fear of separation hit home.  Separation becomes just another chore.  But there’s also the loss of flexibility, in my case, at least.  Been there, done that, ain’t ever going to do it again for anyone.  But unfortunately, that anyone isn’t part of the process, the process predated them.  So they just meet a wall rather than the pair of us slowly working out a compromise.
I have no idea how this is going to work out.  I feel guilty because this is not “for better or worse”, it’s trying to take the good side only.  And it’s very much pandering to individualism rather than trying to find common ground.  And it’s a solution that depends on income*.  But for now, I’m just grateful for a little space.  And I’m sick my resentful thoughts about the day’s conflicts smothering my sexuality.  This is new.  I have hope.  On the other hand, hope has always been my worst enemy in the past.

* The flat is very cheap because it was filthy and abandoned beyond belief, and that’s where the last three weeks of my life have gone.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


(I've actually had to use footnotes for this post. OK, I didn't have to, but I remembered a dirty joke in the middle of writing this and just worked it in as a footnote. So there's just one footnote. I love dirty jokes. Clearly.)

"What a fuckin' lump."

I couldn't stop thinking it.

That poor woman.

She was sitting on my couch heartily barfing her emotions out in the middle of a completely hysterical breakdown about the fact that her husband was fucking one of her coworkers.

Her face in general = bright red and heavily perspiring

Her eyebrows = so heavily knit together that I actually had a rather complete discussion with myself about whether a uni-brow is a hair pattern caused by genetics, or is simply a sign that someone has once had a breakdown during which they shoved their eyebrows together so tightly that they just...stuck

Her hands = wringing in her lap or thrown in one fashion or another at her face to cover it when she was belching out a new round of sobs or needed to wipe perspiration from her lip or deal with all of the other various and sundry other moments and fluids we have to take care of when we're having a breakdown

Her ass = shifting forward on the couch cushion if she was in angry mode, off to the side of the cushion as she suddenly swung into despair(1) and stared eerily off into a corner of the ceiling of my living room, tucked into the back of the cushion if she sat up straight and got all righteous about how great she was and how terrible her husband was and blah, blah blah. Oh, and her ass also kind of got all sideways and almost up in the air a few times when she was so overcome with emotion that she had thrown herself onto a pillow or another couch cushion.

I was something like 23-years-old and barely over a year out of heavy drug use that had started when I was in 6th grade. In other words, my head was approximately 1/32 of an inch out of my ass.

She was something like 45-years-old, had been married for over 20 years, had two teen aged boys she was rightfully very concerned about because of all of the marital upheaval, and had things like a career, savings account, more than five days worth of clothing and more than two pairs of shoes.

The problem was that I was renting (along with three friends) the house that was two doors down from hers. It belonged to her best friend who had just moved to Colorado. She had been used to coming to that very house - the house I was renting with my friends - every single day after work and having a breakdown about her husband fucking her coworker before she went home to be as present as she could be for her boys.

That poor woman. She just wanted her friend. I sat there and felt more and more ashamed of myself for not knowing what to say or do. For not knowing how to stop resorting to my angry stance of blaming her for me not knowing what to say or do. For thinking of her as a "fuckin' lump".

She eventually pulled herself together and thanked me for my time. She told me that, more than anything, she simply missed her friend. She told me she could tell I was uncomfortable and would not be back.

God bless her hysterical, devastated ass for that.

After she left I stopped feeling ashamed of myself and, for once, just accepted there were some things a person whose head is only 1/34 inches out of their ass is simply not prepared to do.

Like be a good friend.
Or deal with hysterical people.

Today you could come to my house and tell me you killed someone, have a breakdown about your husband fucking your coworker or have a breakdown about you fucking one of your coworkers, and I wouldn't bat an eye.

I would probably even tell you a dirty joke (or two) and share a little bit about how my mind works.


I mean, just look at that footnote shit down there. Jesus.

(1) One of my favorite jokes is about the word despair.
A woman has a party and tells everyone to come dressed as the color of an emotion. Someone shows up in red for anger, another person shows up in green for envy, and so on. Then some guy shows up naked save for the pear on his dick. The conversation then goes like this:
Party Hostess - What emotion are you?
Guest - Despair.
Hostess - Despair? I don't get it.
Guest - Why don't you suck dis pear offa my dick.

(2) No, you didn't miss the little (2) somewhere up there in the post. This isn't really a footnote. But I just remembered another dirty joke that I love and am just pretending that this is a footnote.
Q: How do you make a woman scream twice?
A: Fuck her in the ass and wipe your dick on her curtains.

(3) I'm not going to end up with some sort of burning cross of feminism in my front yard over telling jokes about sucking pears off of the ends of dicks and women getting fucked in the ass, am I? Sometimes I've gotten into "trouble" with women for telling these jokes. I'm not sure if I care. OK, I don't care. Not one fiber of my entire being cares. But, then again, I do. It's confusing being female and as dirty minded, obnoxious and bawdy as I am.

(4) Have I ever told you I'm really good at doing things like writing little thank you notes? I also set a lovely dinner table, bake beautifully (especially things of the pumpkin variety), and can attend high-end formal events and fit right in in every single way. I even have extra special underwear I wear for those types of functions.

(5) That extra special underwear thing made me think of how people will talk about being "dressed up to the nines" when they are seriously formally dressed. But, I'm wondering, since I do that extra special underwear thing, shouldn't I say I am "dressed down to the nines"?

(6) I always have to say shit like I just did in (4) to make up for the fact that I just told those dirty jokes in (1) and (2) and the fact that I said I didn't care in (3). It's my way of trying to prove I'm not really that bad when it comes to being a woman.

(7) I hope I'm never mature enough to stop telling the jokes in (1) and (2), but continue to be mature enough to never tell either one of them at one of the high-end events I mentioned in (4). Unless I've been at one of those events for longer than 3 hours. At that point I usually find myself way out at the edge of the parking lot behind somebody's car, smoking a cigarette, and being at very high risk of telling one of the jokes in (1) or (2) to the first person who walks up.

(8) You really can tell me if you've killed someone. I've already had it happen once, and I handled it very well.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Would You Rather...

I've always been a something of a slacker. Even in elementary school I just did enough work to get by. Of course, elementary school was easy. Once I hit high school and had to take Latin and algebra I had to use my brain a little more.

In college my boyfriend and I sat down with the catalog to find me a major that required no math whatsoever, and that's how I ended up with a BS in communications. Writing was the perfect solution--no muscle required except the big one on top of my neck.

Ambition has never been my guiding light. I'm content to do my job, get along with my colleagues, gossip in the kitchen, play solitaire on my computer, collect my paycheck and go home.

I guess you could say I've never been on the "boss track."

But I've had a lot of bosses in my day. Some great, some that were vomited onto earth when a chasm leading straight to hell split apart for a nanosecond.

The great ones were all men. The worst were women.

I don't think I'm the only woman out there who prefers a manly boss. They're unemotional. They don't comment on your hair or hold grudges if you forget to inquire how their son's oral surgery went.

They don't laud you one day and seemingly loathe you the next.

Men are just easier to deal with. I have a woman boss now, and after a very trying year we're finally in a good place. But I trust her about as far as I could throw her size 6 ass. (The same ass she describes as HUGE.)

I think it's harder for women, especially when they're near the same age, to operate on a boss/employee level. It's just easier dealing with a man.

Men don't want to be your friends. They don't want to share recipes or makeup tips.

They just want to get the job done.

But I open the question to the floor:

Would you rather work for a man or a woman?

(And yes, I realize that the answer is that you don't want to work at all.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

not the worst thing

we were in paris, on holiday with the in-laws, when i first said the words, whispering in the dark across to the other uncomfortable sofa where he lay.

"i think we might need to get a divorce."

he got up without a word, got his pack of cigarettes, went out onto the balcony. i joined him, watched the red glow of the cigarette as we gazed down together at the boulevard below. suddenly the will to stand drained out of my legs, and i collapsed, weeping so hard i felt i might turn inside out. all the disappointment and frustration and anger i'd been storing for months and years, rushing out of me in wracking, violent sobs. and below, people laughing, cars passing. and me thinking, how is it possible the world hasn't come to a screeching, crashing halt? surely that would be appropriate.

nearly seventy percent of second marriages end in divorce. i think i must've read that before, but i never allowed the reality of it to penetrate my consciousness. naivete. denial.

i don't know yet, if my husband and i will split. but in the weeks that have passed since that night in paris that ended with the two of us desperately clutching each other on the balcony, trying not to drown in the waves of sorrow, i've come to know why that 70% figure is so true.

even a "good divorce", an amicable divorce for all the right reasons that makes you both better, happier people, as mine was, leaves you scarred. even a "good divorce" is hell. it rips any sense of security out from under you, makes you confront the possibility of being completely and utterly alone, drains every ounce of foolish fairytale right out of your head. a divorce, even a "good divorce", is the death of your shared dreams for home, family, and future. it's a death, and you mourn it, and carry guilt and shame over it for a long while.

but as time passes and you begin to emerge from the blast-shadow the explosion left behind, the world begins to right itself. time moves on, and you tuck away the lessons learned, and you stand a little straighter knowing that you have survived the worst that love can throw at you. you think yourself stronger and wiser, as hemingway would say, "strong at the broken places".

it's dangerous knowledge.

it is dangerous knowing that divorce is not, in fact, the end of the world. that however painful the experience of a shattered marriage was, that however much it hurt to walk through those shards and pick up the pieces, that *you were okay*. dangerous how that "d" word, that word you thought you could never bring yourself to utter, that word that choked you for so long before you could finally, actually say it (because to say "divorce" out loud was to admit that it was really fucking happening)... it's dangerous how close that word sits to the tip of your tongue after that.

divorce, which was once the very worst thing that had ever happened to you, is now no longer the worst thing that can happen to you.

more to the point, it's not the worst thing that can happen to me. even with all the tears, even when to untangle my life from his would feel like flaying off my own skin, i know this much is true: it is not the worst thing that can happen to me. however bad it gets, i'll be okay.

and somehow, that just makes it worse - the knowledge that the world will keep turning, people will keep laughing on the boulevards below. i will once again face the fears and learn the lessons, adding one more statistical failure to the punchline of life, but emerge and walk on stronger and wiser,

i know what i'm in for, and i know how unthinkably excruciating the dissolution of love can be. i know all this, and still i know it will be a hundred times worse - because i loved him more.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Happy Anniversary and Shit

So 19th Amendment, Happy 90th Anniversary and shit. Sorry I forgot a gift, but I have voted in every national election since I turned 18, so thanks for that. Sure black men got the right to vote in 1870, I was kind of pissed about that. Not that they shouldn't get to vote but fifty years? It took fifty years to come to with the conclusion that maybe women should get the vote too? I guess I know where I stand in the ole hierarchy.

Still, I have to give mad props to Woodrow Wilson, thanks for not thinking we will destroy the nation with our "opinions". Thank you for not recommending we get like, half a vote or something stupid. Thank you also to the House of Reps, but Senate, seriously Senate, fuck you. Thanks also to the men who voted against those anti-suffrage Senators up for reelection in 1918. We couldn't have done it without you, literally, because we could not vote. Thank you for believing in your daughters and wives and sisters or maybe you just didn't want to get locked out of the honey pot. I guess it doesn't matter why you did it because you did, and it was a good thing.

I need to also say Happy Anniversary to the bitches that made this happen. It's easy to ask for things now, I have grown up used to demanding that things be more equitable or pointing out when it isn't. But for you guys? How unequivocally brave to demand to be heard. Taking a stand probably resulted in a lot of uncomfortable family arguments and people saying crappy thing to you and even threatening you. Thank you for taking this first, most important step that helped us to secure everything else later through the voting process. Thank you for bringing our voices to the debates, for allowing us women a chance to shape the nation in which we live. Thank you for making me a patriot in the truest sense, for making me believe that we can always be better and do better.

So thank you Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Lydia Taft, Genevieve Clark, Frances Wright and Ernestine Rose. You have my most earnest gratitude Margaret Fuller, Mary Ann M'Clintock, Lucy Stone, Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis, Abby Kelley Foster, and Susan B. Anthony. To you Matilda Joslyn Gage, Sojourner Truth, Isabella Beecher Hooker, Julia Ward Howe, Carrie Chapman Catt, Alice Paul, Victoria Woodhall, Belva Lockwood and Lucy Burns, I am indebted for your efforts. You are names now but you were real people, who did something important.

Happy Anniversary 19th Amendment.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Everybody Knows

Few things in this life are common to all.

Death, taxes.

That's about it. (Maybe not even the taxes, if you're one of those live outside the grid types.)

Then there are those milestones and rites that some, many, people have in common.

Childbirth. Education. Home ownership. Marriage.


People will tell you that they "can't possibly imagine what you're going through."

But when they go home, and sit with it, and get quiet, they can. They imagine what you're going through. And they put themselves in your place. They run the scenarios, and add their own personal bent to them. And whether or not they realize it, they can, indeed, imagine it.

They can, if left to their own devices, tell you what you should be doing.

Do it fast, don't look back, rip the band-aid off, get the hell out.

Go slowly, think about what you're doing.

The kids will be better off.

The kids will never get over this.

Try to be open, believe that love exists.

Do not, under any circumstances, get involved with anyone. Be alone for at least (insert suitable amount of time here).

I didn't plan to like anyone. Not that it was the furthest thing from my mind. But I emerged from the shit cocoon that was the first bit of divorce with a half-assed plan.

I would get out of the house, the marriage. And then, I would slut it up. Go out and have all the sex that getting together with my ex at 18 had precluded me from. Raise my self-esteem by feeling attractive to someone, anyone. This would last for approximately a year.

At the end of that year, I would search, in earnest, for a man. Who had money. And was older, thereby enabling me to be an ersatz trophy wife. He would treat me well. I would be secure. I most likely would not love him. But I would not be hurt again.

(I didn't say it was a good plan.)

But then....

I met someone. Hadn't even had the chance to try out the slut plan. Walked into a friend's apartment, into a casual evening, and I knew there would be a single friend of a friend's boyfriend, but it was most definitely NOT a set up.

And as the night progressed, my brain started screaming.


He didn't fit the plan. At all. But I wanted to be with him, in spite of it all.

I wanted to squash everything I felt. I wanted to ignore the fact that he had so many of the qualities it had belatedly dawned on me that I wanted in another person. I wanted to tell him to come back in a year.

But I didn't.

Very, very few people think I'm doing the right thing.

I question my own judgment.

I like him. He makes me happy.

I'm happy.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


The reason I am not a highly acclaimed published author is because of the demands of my three children and husband.

The reason I am not a highly acclaimed published author is because I am lazy and spend more time playing Plants Versus Zombies on my Ipod then doing any real work that will further my goals.

The reason I am not a highly acclaimed published author is because I have only a modicum of talent, like a person who can carry a tune in the church choir versus Annie Lennox.

The reason I am not a highly acclaimed published author is because I get so wrapped up in perfecting something that I lose momentum.

The reason I am not a highly acclaimed published author is because I lose momentum because I have no self-discpline.

The reason I am not a highly acclaimed published author is because I am also afraid of success and maybe if I do it once, I will never be able to do it again and it will be disappointing.

The reason I am not a highly acclaimed published author is because I spend too much time thinking about my motives to be a highly acclaimed published author, the obstacles inherent in trying to be a highly acclaimed published author and it makes me too mentally tired to try to be said highly acclaimed published author.

The reason I am not a highly acclaimed published author is because I make silly, pointless lists detailing why I'll never be a highly acclaimed published author.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Rebel Without A Pause

Steven Slater, a Jet Blue Flight Attendant with 28 years experience under his beverage cart, gets hit on the head by an aggregiously obnoxious passenger, and without stopping to pause, he snapped. America has fallen in love with this man for, if nothing else, the flare with which he bid his adieu. As I understand it, he took to the public address system to apologize to the other passengers, called the head banging bastard a name the implies he likes to fuck his mother, grabbed a beer from the galley, pulled the emergency chute, slid down as only a Queen could, walked past tarmacs and runways to his car, drove home and waited for the police.

Can't you just see him sitting there with his uniform uncharacteristically askew, looking at the beer still in his hand, thinking to himself, I grabbed a fucking BEER?

Or how about this young girl. Hard to say whether this actually happened or it was staged.  Either way, it's the way so many of us would love to go.  Telling our employers to stick that in their pipe and take a good long hit of shut the fuck up.

I had my own mental breakdown at work last month. Mine had flare as well but there were no arrests made and I didn't get to grab a beer on my way out. It would seem my pause button was not functioning that day. Rule #1 of office etiquette is to type angry emails but never send them right away. You should let them steep while you simmer. I know this, really I do. But on this day, I had managed to walk into work for the first time in months and direct my attention to my duties in a positive and productive manner.

I'm not saying I'd been slacking but I certainly hadn't been giving it my all. I'm grappling with an ex-husband who will be sentenced later this month for a white collar crime, embezzeling just over $1.3 from his employer, yet still not paying me for his share of the kids medical and educational expenses. I had just broken up with my long term boyfriend who went from being a God to a festering, puss spewing, Mephistopheles seemingly overnight. I'm carrying a bit of a chip, ney a boulder, on my shoulder when it comes to our penis endowed counterparts.

But on this particular morning, I had managed to overcome. I was plugged into my Ipod and I was back on my game. Then the most arogant and unholy email arrived from a man, addressed to the entire network of companies. It felt like someone popped my lovely little happy bubble and I began to seeth with anger. Hormonally speaking, this is what I refer to as "random bouts of rage". Being the creative writer I am, I couldn't reply with something simple like, oh say for example, that wasn't very nice.

No, not me. Instead I typed with my 95 WPM fingers moving every bit as fast as my brain could tick off every known explitive I could imagine. Along with berading him for numbing the morale of the masses, I suggested he should take a good long look at his own moral fiber. Then I ended by giving myself an out, suggesting perhaps he was being sarcastic, just joking, because then I could go back to thinking he wasn't going to be damned to hell to burn for all eternity.  Did I mention, this man is the President of one of our companies? Oh, I did I also mention, I hit reply to all?

I spent the rest of the day being lauded as a hero. My phone lit up, people were lined up outside my office to worship me. I was the Steven Slater of my industry. But like Mr. Slater, I knew I needed to sit still and wait for the repercusion. It came in the form of a call from my boss, the President of my company, who told me the Board of Directors would be meeting over the weekend to discuss my fate. He assured me he would do everything in his power to save me but he told me it did not look good. He was preparing me for the enevitability of unemployment. The last thing he said to me, in his south side Chicago, deadpan style was, Jesus Christ, couldn't you just have waited until you calmed down?

How could I tell him my pause button wasn't functioning?  How could he know I was chemically unbalanced with menopausal homones, hot flashes and rage against mankind or man(un)kind in my case. Was I subconsciously trying to sabotage a twenty year career in this industry so I could run off like Elizabeth Gilbert and do some Eating, Praying, Loving and Writing? Perhaps.

I didn't lose my job. I was given a two-week suspension without pay to "send a message", that being - yes, it does suck to work here and we don't want to hear from you about how bad it sucks because the economy sucks right now and you're not going to find anything better. So shut up and work like you're living the dream.

And all it makes me want to do is pull the emergency chute on my life, grab a beer and go home to write.

I'm Almost Always Awesome

I started writing this as a comment and change dmy mind because of drinking and an obnoxious desire, need to be heard and correct and fucking whatever

Tell your daughters they are pretty, tell your sons they are handsome. Don't take that away from them. I was raised by a third generation feminist (my great grandma was a militant, low-class suffragette. She trapped her drunken abusive husband beneath giant, burning stones she heated in the fireplace and left him passed out on the floor while she hopped on a boat to the states and never saw him again. He drowned their firstborn because she wasn't a son.) and the mom rarely, rarely, rarely told me I was pretty. I know she did it because she wanted me to place value in other things, but the result? I've never felt pretty. ever, in my life, I never valued being attractive until I realized that it mattered so much to everyone else.

I automatically don't trust men who tell me I'm beautiful, because the people I trusted most in the world never gave me that. I don't feel comfortable trying to look nice. If a friend, someone I trust and respect and value, tells me I look nice? I go into the nearest bathroom and change my appearance. If they say, "are you wearing blush? You look great" I'll wash it off. If they like my hair, I will change it. And then I have to deal with the inevitable: you don't trust my opinion? or why did you change, you looked so pretty?

I don't even think I can look nice, and I'm not ugly. Never felt ugly. But I've also never felt beautiful, I can't even lie to myself and pretend it's possible. Please, please, please, always remind your children that they are beautiful, both genders. I'm not saying that you don't, or that you won't...but it fucked me up. I have no sexual confidence. I firmly believe that I can offer anything in ways of conversation or opinion, talk to anyone, understand a difficult concept, play a game, offer advice, stand up for the underdog, compete in sports, play an instrument, win an argument, build and create, there are lists lying around here somewhere of things I know I can do.

Everyone deserves to be valued in every way I guess. But you know, shut up drunk Rass. Go back to your "I'm always awesome" way of doing things.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

...could practically dry hump the edge of a counter in the kitchen...

From the time I was 12 and had gotten the full tilt boogie sex education class in 6th grade, I could not wait to fuck.

Some would tell you this was due to the fact that a neighbor kid had introduced me to the pleasure of rubbing my clit way too early in life. He was a horribly abused kid (I later discovered) who was simply showing me what his drunk mother and two of his older sisters were regularly showing him.

But I'm not so sure about that theory. Surely by that time I had already gone through the very normal childhood stage of considering my little clit just as important to investigate as, say, figuring out if a bean would fit into my nostril. It was an innocent and simple period of discovery that revealed things such as:
a) Rubbing your clit feels good
b) Shoving a bean in your your nostril does not

Others might theorize that my young and insatiable desire to fuck was based in some sort of unconscious psychological need to prove to my father that I would not "belong" to him for the rest of my life. Indeed, he had taken me on as what some would call his "surrogate wife" at an early age by doing everything but touching me as he would an actual wife. My mother hid in their master bathroom or closet doing her hair, polishing and painting her face with extensive amounts of cleansers and make up, or obsessively organizing and reorganizing her fine shoes and clothing. I took up the slack by listening intently as my father discussed his work frustrations and dumped his emotional distress over what he called my mother's neurosis, icy heart and selfishness. He never touched me in a way that he would a wife or lover, but with the completeness of the rest of our "marriage", I probably would have let him. I would have believed it part of my job by giving him yet another path to feeling heard, attended to and loved.

But even that theory doesn't necessarily wash. I look back and can see that my desire to fuck was never based in a sense of needing independence from my dad or focused itself on those who seemed to also need someone to listen to them. In other words, I don't recall ever having any Daddy Drama attached to my clit; literally or figuratively.

The perfect specimen for my first fuck showed up when I was 15. He was an older, free wheeling blond wearing jean shorts, a stupid beer t-shirt and creating a frenzy around the idea of going to the river and drinking. A caravan of cars and trucks headed out immediately, stopping for beer and beach towels on the way. Where the Missouri River slides by the little town of Easly, Missouri it is dry, hot, deep and wide. God only knows how many of those I grew up with got drunk there and followed the path of so many who came before them by also peeing in strange places, taking the occasional inconvenient dump, throwing up, loosing their virginity, fucking their best friend's boyfriend or girlfriend, playing rock-n-roll music at a ridiculous level with little consideration for the fact that the stereo speakers in their mother's station wagon could scarcely handle it, and passing out along the banks of the river.

Though it might seem to take away from this post about my insatiable desire to fuck, I cannot stop myself from recounting one of the best pisses I ever took at the river.

Slightly drunk, my friend Wendy and I fell into a deeply blurry discussion regarding the fact that our bladders were on the verge of bursting. I think I even resorted to putting one of my hands between my legs to press the urge to pee away until we figured out what to do. We finally ran to the edge of a cliff over the river bank, dropped our pants, grabbed onto the branches of a tree, leaned our asses out over the river and laughed with relief over finally being able to pee. Just seconds into our relief we heard yelling and cat calls and realized two fishermen had stopped their boat below us on the river and were, I'm sure, getting a fantastic view of our asses and poon tangs. Wendy shook her ass over them and I straightened my legs in hopes of shoving my lower half further out over the river bank to give the fishermen a better view.

It's amazing I didn't become a stripper or prostitute. In many ways it's too bad I didn't, considering the amount of men I've entertained in my lifetime and the power, excitement I have always felt realizing the flash of an ass or nipple or impending gift of pussy can bring such joy to a man. Alas, it's probably a good thing I didn't. As much as I admire professions of the sexual kind, drugs always seem to go hand in hand with them and I'm quite sure I would have been as lost as ever in all of it.

The perfect specimen for my first fuck did a fine job of taking my virginity. We waited until we were away from the river and could retreat into the downstairs bedroom at the apartment of one of his friends. I had an almost immediate orgasm, he did all he could to be sweet afterward, and then seemed to understand my need to go running off to talk with one of my girlfriends about having just lost my virginity. When I later broke up with him he made sure to announce to anyone who would listen that I had no clue how to give a blow job and wouldn't let him fuck me in the ass. I admit I thought of him immediately when I was once, many years later, giving a Army Lieutenant Colonel a blow job and he moaned that I was doing such a fine job of it that he was going to declare me "war ready".

Today I find myself in my mid-forties and wondering about my desire to fuck more than ever. When I hear descriptions of some of the strange weather patterns caused by global warming I often think someone is plastering the now bizarre patterns of my sex drive on The Weather Channel. Instead of it being some kind of ongoing low-grade fever that could spike at any moment, it now either completely disappears for days on end, or comes on in a tornadic torrent so intense that I could practically dry hump the edge of a counter in the kitchen as I'm putting dishes away. When the tornadic torrent occurs I make an immediate trip to my husband or, if he is not at home, my bag of sex toys that it seems I can not get plugged in and inserted fast enough.

Frenzy. It's a nice word for for the tornadic torrent of this damned pattern. When my husband is home I find myself making demands that he immediately stop what he is doing, wake up, move over, make room, whatever...because I want to fuck. Right fucking now. Fuck.Me.Oh.Fuck.Yeah.

When my sex drive has disappeared he can ask for it all he wants and there is not one fiber of me interested. I might think to tell him I'm sorry. I might not. My drive will go so low, so nonexistent, that it's almost as if he is asking if I need more tea and I am politely declining. During these times I find myself hoping he is soothing the rejection with remembrances of when the tornadic torrent has occurred, and looking forward to when it returns.

But I don't know.

Perhaps this is one of those things I should discuss with him. I will. Just after I get done worrying that one day I will hit one of those nonexistent spells and the tornadic activity will never again return.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Moral of the Story, Always Walk a Lady to Her Car

It was 1999 and I was 26 years old. I had just broken up with my boyfriend of two years. Well, not so much broken up with as I accepted a job offer two thousand miles away. I'm pretty sure he got the picture. I didn't want to marry him and though I liked him, it wasn't enough to stay. I wasn't about to pass up a chance at a good job and an opportunity to move to California on someone else's dime. Still, ending the relationship smarted in it's own way.

I knew I was moving in a few weeks away, I was ready to jump ship, fly the coop, seize the day, whatever. I sat home one Friday night, packing boxes and sorting through my accumulated shit when a barfly of a girlfriend called begging me to go out with her and her friend. I don't drink much and I don't particularly like drunk people so I opted out as usual. But she begged and guilted me with pleas that she wouldn't be able to hang out with me much longer. I think she just wanted more man bait but I relented and met her out. I stubbornly refused to redo my makeup, put on something nice or even brush my hair. I hated their desperate man-trolling. Fuck it, it's not like I want to meet anyone at this point anyhow.

So I met them out, nursed a gin and tonic and promptly moved to seltzer with lime like always while I watched my friends get happy. I verbally volleyed with the stupid meathead bartender, making my friends laugh. I was so antithetical about boys that night, totally disinterested which is usually when they zero in.

I became aware of a guy watching me. Every time I looked in his general direction, he was staring at me and would smile if I actually looked at him. He was cute, dumb cute like a puppy, a mess of sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, a slightly unkempt Ken Doll. Not at all my type. But he was cute and he wouldn't stop looking at me, smiling my way while he ignored his friend's conversation. Someone ignoring everyone else to pay attention to me seriously feeds into my needs as an only child. My friend Lynn, a professional networker, noticed the looky-lous back and forth and finally went over to him and said, would you like me to introduce you to my friend. So I met him and he met me, and I won't even pretend to remember his name because I think I forgot it about 5 minutes later.

We chit chatted and he was sweet. Not bad sweet but like a handful of gummy bears, colorful, tasty but hardly a meal, not really even a snack just a sugary diversion until you get to the real food. He was clearly enamored and as a girl, a cute boy who thinks you're great is sometimes all it takes to spike a momentary crush, a fleeting affection.

So we talked and talked and finally, I told him that I needed to get going. He asked for my number, said that he would like to take me to dinner. I said I wouldn't mind giving it to him but I was moving to California in a few weeks.

"Well, you still have to eat between now and then don't you," he asked.

"Yes," I replied "but I'll probably be busy seeing the circuit of family and friends before I take off, it's not exactly a good time for me to start dating."

"I understand," he said, "can I at least walk you to your car?"

It was late and while Milwaukee's eastside wasn't exactly dangerous, I had parked pretty far.

"Sure," I said, "why not."

So I got my coat and said goodbye to my friends who were just getting started. Mr. Ken Doll held the door and took my arm as I led him in the direction of my car.

"It's cold," he said and he pulled me closer to him. It wasn't cold but whatever.

"This is me," I said, standing by my car. I knew he would kiss me and predictably he did. Unpredictable was the fact that his kiss would curl my toes, reminding me that until very recently, I had been getting it regularly but now I hadn't been kissed or otherwise in weeks. I was lusty, I was lonely, I was in serious rebound mode.

We kissed leaning up against my car for a long time.

"You know, I really shouldn't be driving, I've had way too much to drink," I said. He squinted his eyes and looked at me quizzically. He knew I hadn't been drinking since my first drink.

"Oh, he said," the light bulb finally going off, "yes, you are way too intoxicated to drive yourself, I think it's better if I take you home."

"Yes, that would be the right thing to do, but my cousin is staying at my place an I wouldn't want to wake her so perhaps you should take me to your place?"

"Yes, that is also a very good idea, we will go there now."

So we did, he pushed his key into the lobby of his building and we kissed and groped from the entry to the elevator to his front door. He pushed the door in and led me to an uncomfortbale loveseat(why do they call them that since they are way too small for any proper making out) where we made out for about five minutes before I said, this couch is stupid, where's your bed? It's there he said and pointed in the other room. I got up and as I walked to his bedroom I took my clothes off, leaving the pieces like a trail of bread crumbs to eventually find my way out. He happily followed suit looking at me with eyes as wide as saucers and the giant grin of a man who just won the pretty horny slutty rebound girl lottery.

He was as happy as a Make-A-Wish kid at a Justin Bieber concert. We made out for hours, my face was scrapped raw from kissing. Our legs tangled, we rubbed every part of ourselves over each other. He went downtown and then I went downtown but they were still appetizers rather than entrees. In my head I reasoned that our conversation in the bar had been date one, our kissing by the car date two and so technically, we were at date three, well within my ever-lowering standards for sex.

"Do you have a condom?" I asked.

"No, do you?"

"No." I replied.

"You dont?" he asked, somewhat surprised.

"Well I was just meeting some girlfriends for a drink, I didn't think there'd be sex involved."

"Well neither did I."

"I know, but were at your house, I have condoms at my house, just not on me."

"I have an idea," he said getting up and pulling his jeans back on.

His idea was to run to the 24 Hour Mart, just a block away from his building and go procure some prophylactics. I offered to go with him so he didn't need to buy rubbers, at three am, by himself. We hastily dressed, scored our protection and hightailed it back to his place. But as is the case when young people want to use our bodies like amusement parks, fate stepped in. He had left his keys in his apartment door, so while he could get back into his own front door with no problem, we had to actually gain entrance to the building first. He rang the buzzer of a neighbor/friendish for nearly ten minutes and got no reply so he started buzzing everyone until some cranky but kind old lady came and let us in.

We rode the elevator keen on riding each other, got back to his bed and picked up where we left off. Problem was, at this point my lady business was a virtual Sahara, she was partied out.

"Do you have any lubricant?" I asked.


"You know, lube?"

"No, I don't, wait I have an idea, I'll be right back."

I heard him in what I guessed was the kitchen, moving stuff around looking for something. He jaunted back to the bedroom with a giant bottle of Wesson oil and a boyscout's grin.

Were not suppossed to use oil with condoms, I thought, oh, fuck it, who cares.

So he tried to pour a little on me but I will fill you in that a little vegetable oil goes a long way and soon I was covered in it, slick and shiny from stem to stern. Within a few minutes, we were both coated with it. It felt like sex on a slip 'n slide, all glide and smoothness. We slid our bodies over each other until dawn.

"I have to go," I told him as he tried to pull me back into bed, "my grandparents are coming to get my washer and dryer at eight."

I slipped out of his grip and slipped on my clothes over my still oily body and slipped out his door. The block back to my car was riddled with early morning rollerbladers, dog walkers, latte getters as I shamelessly slogged the walk of shame. I was raccoon-eyed, bow legged, glisteny with a thick matte of fuck hair on the back of my head and a dumb grin. I never talked with him again but imagine his sheets probably smelled like KFC every time he tried to wash and dry them. I suppose some future girlfriend made him throw them out, suspicious of the oily sheets that suggested his past.

It was the best and therefore the only one nightstand I ever had. It was so perfectly light and fun that I didn't want to tempt fate again. And I recall it with smug satisfaction, knowing that someday when I am old and peeing myself I will smile. My great-grand kids will think oh, Grandma must be thinking about how much she loves us and actually I will be smiling for Wesson oil guy.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

You Know What They Say About Assuming and Asses

My whole view of feminism is one based upon assumption: never assume that someone is going to behave a certain way just because they are a woman or man. It's not about the way we portray ourselves, it's about the way we react to others.

I am a fucking feminist, and I am proud of it. It's not a bad word, you twits, all of those people who spit it out with disdain. This is why:

I love cleaning because of the satisfaction of a job well done. I love zenning out when washing dishes every night. I love sewing and designing and creating something out of unexpected parts. I love carpentry. I started building a clock. I'm nowhere near finished, but the process is more important to me than anything else. I love working on my bike. I love comic books and movies and shows that are about the government and swords and science and the army, I love conspiracy theories and my lay-z-boy, I love dogs, I love helping people move because I'm unnaturally strong. I love playing baseball and throwing punches. I love video games. I love the sunrise, but only after staying up all night. I love being right, I love dreams, I love good beer, good banter, and good-looking guys. I love guys just in general.

Guys usually don't like me, though, because I can't abide the ignorant ones. I get angry with them when they say fucking ridiculous things like, "You probably didn't know this, because you're not a guy" which, after having to prove my worth through knowledge, inevitably leads to "I didn't know girls knew about _______."

"You're a fucking idiot, then."


"Seriously, you're a fucking idiot."

"No it's cool, I think it's awesome. I hate it when girls try to pretend they like something just you know, to be 'more like a guy.' You're the real deal."

That is not a compliment. "That's fucking stupid, why would you assume that?"

"No, I mean like, you're different."

"But you're not." Conversation over. I'm not going to coddle him and explain to him that I'm not trying to be like a fucking man, that my interests do not make me masculine or dude-ish. I'm not going to explain to him that not all girls can be lumped into one category or another. Sure, stereotypes exist for a reason, but basically every single woman I know is somehow an exception to the rule.

Ergo, shouldn't we change the rule? Why can't loving Predator be associated with women? Why can't loving shoes be associated with men? I got male friends that are goddamn obsessed with shoes, it's just sneakers and boots instead of heels and...well, boots.

How about instead of changing the rule, we open it up a little bit. I understand associating qualities that have been attributed to women over the past several thousand years with femininity, and likewise for masculinity. It's hard to change centuries of stereotype and societal roles. But do not assume that I will behave one way just because I'm a girl.

The way I figure it is this: is it more important for my house to be clean and my meal to be delicious than the opposite? Yes, yes it is. I will get it done. Is it more important for me to know how to change a tire and the oil in my car than to hire someone else to do it? Yes, yes it is. I will get it done. Is more it important for me to know how to walk down the street with confidence when I'm alone than to ask someone to walk with me? Yes, yes it is. I will get it done. Is it more important to me behave in a way that feels natural and right instead of adhering to a stereotype because I'm supposed to? Yes. I will get it done.

Do not assume, merely because someone is a girl, that she doesn't know what the fuck she's talking about. Do not assume that because someone is a feminist, it means she wants to be like a man.

Do not assume that she don't have all of the knowledge and interests that men stereotypically have. Do not assume that she can't get shit done, that she's defenseless, that she isn't brave, that she isn't smart, that she isn't funny. Do not assume she spends time on her hair, or spends to much money on clothes. Do not assume she isn't handy around the house, that she can't lift heavy things, that she can't protect you. Do not assume she loves housework, or that she cries all the time.

But likewise, do not assume she loves sports. Do not assume she loves camping, that she hates to feel pretty, that she loves traveling, that she loves Star Wars. Do not assume she never wants children or a husband. Do not assume And here's why: you don't know her. All you know is that she probably has tits and a vagina, and you can't even assume that in some cases.

And men? Do not talk down to her because you need to talk down to "most girls." That's bullshit. You don't need to talk down to girls at all. "Most girls" just don't give a shit how you speak to them, because they aren't bothered by your tone. They expect you to have that tone because they assume you are an ignorant man that makes ignorant assumptions and that you don't know any better.

But if she's aggressive and exceptionally high-strung, and will not accept your ignorance because that's the way it is, she will fight back.

Here's the thing: men respect strong women, this is true. But what drives me fucking crazy is that they assume that for a woman to be strong, she has to have the qualities of a man.

I am not looking for the approval of men. I'm not looking for someone to appreciate how similar I am to their male friends. I am not looking for someone to care for and protect me and to do the 'man jobs' around the house. I'm looking for a man who understands that I don't need it, who doesn't expect me to wilt. Do I need a man to feel like a woman? No.

But with the right kind of man, with a man who is also a feminist? It helps.

Confessions of a weary feminist

I'm not in an egalitarian relationship. The division of labor in my household is a bunch of bullshit, it always has been. As we speak, there are dirty dishes in my sink, overflowing garbage cans that stink, unmade beds, coffee cups with solidified coffee rings inside them littered throughout the house, a list of groceries that need to be bought, meat that is going to rot if I don't make that stupid stew already and here I am typing away hoping to get through this post before I am asked what we're having for dinner.

When I have conversations about this with other women, I often say things like "but he's a really good cook". I say things to protect my image as a feminist and to protect his image as a good husband because I have these expectations for myself that I want met, and sometimes settling for appearance is the only way to make me feel like I'm winning.

But today I'm admitting to you, shamefully, that I'm losing and I'm not even throwing punches anymore. In a few minutes I'm gonna get off my ass and clean my house and he's not even gonna hear a peep about it. Because I'm goddamn tired.

There I said it. And I don't say it to vent, where we all shrug at the end and say "Oh, that's a man for you!" and then the next girl tells the story about how her hubby puts his wet towel on her pillow every day after his shower and then we move on to talking about shopping. That's probably more respectable than what I do, more contented. I say it cowering slightly behind my screen, eyes slightly squinted fearing the blow of judgement of other women I respect, but most importantly of myself.

And this brings me to what I find to be the most difficult thing about being a woman: never fucking measuring up by anyone's standards anywhere ever. In one way or another, I just don't make the cut and I'm weary in failure. You see, I have all these yardsticks I've been collecting over the years. They're the tools with which I measure myself against which have, without exception, told me I didn't quite cut the mustard: yardsticks of the family I was born into, the religion I grew up in, academia that I was formed in, the family that I married into, the working world that I'm immersed in, and the yardstick of knife-and-fire-ball-juggling women around me with their clean homes and ironed sheets and fulfilling careers and impeccable children, and finally my own yardstick that I've built out of feminism, the one that slaps me and shames me the hardest when I don't make the grade.

The thing is, I am finally starting to realize at 33 years old that the game is totally rigged, no matter the path I choose. But at this point I'm really out of breath and my muscles ache from all the race running and scoreboard watching. My path will always be the losing one. The only thing that can temporarily make me feel like I haven't failed completely is to effectively project an image of egalitarian perfection to those around me. But fuck, I'm not fooling myself, and I'm running out of air. I'm close to having burned all the yardsticks I've come across. But my own nags at me that I'm giving up the good fight by opting for peace in my home with the person I love.

But right now? I'm trying desperately to find balance and you know, live. You know, life?

'Jimmy, you know what that is? It's the shit that happens while you're waiting for moments that never come'.*

This is what I want now: to bear hug the life I never anticipated without suffocating the shit out of it while letting go of the tethered and discarded morsels of self respect I've clung to that have not allowed me to get a firm grip on happiness. This requires burning all my yardsticks, not just the ones that leave me liberated and enlightened.

I'm a feminist. I was one before I met him. I question how true I am to it now and the guilt towards myself that I carry for not fighting harder, a fight that may have eventually broken us as a couple, is harder than I ever imagined. But feminism was never meant to make anyone happy until it's goals were fully achieved. Right now, it's a war. And fuck, right now I just feel willing to make compromises for a peace treaty already and hope that the next generation can pick up where I left off.

*quote from The Wire

Friday, August 6, 2010

It's only weird for everyone else

My husband and I have what most would call, and unusual relationship with his ex wife.  They married when she was 18 and he got her pregnant.  He wanted to do "the right thing" and she's the type of person who just wants to be loved and can never be by herself.  So they got married and their son was born.  3 weeks later, he was shipped off to Iraq.  They were married for 3 and a half years and it ended when she asked for a divorce because she had fallen in love with someone else while he was in Iraq.  After time, he's learned to forgive her.  She got married way too young, and he knows they weren't meant to be together. 

During the time that Ghost and I "dated", she was completely opposed to the very idea of me.  When she found out that I was moving here, she threw a hissy fit.  I can't say I completely blame her either.  She didn't know me and I was going to be an integral part of her son's life.  And on the other side of the table, I didn't like her at all.  She wasn't as interested in her son as I thought she should be, she moved from guy to guy and fell head over heels in love with each one, she was all up in Ghost's shit everyday and was always asking him for help.  This annoyed me. 

Then I moved here and the day after, met the ex.  I was not impressed to say the least.  She walked in my front door like she owned the place, sat down on MY barstools and started eating her lunch.  I felt like grabbing her hair and saying, "who the fuck do you think you are"?  But I played it cool and just smiled and tried to get to know her.  Over the next few months I realized, she's not a horrible person, she just has NO self esteem.

She would come over to our house at least 2 times a week and hang out with us.  She invited me places with her family, and her friends.  Sometimes I went, sometimes I didn't.  But she showed me kindness when I knew no one here.  She was willing to share herself and her friends with me and happily.  Sure, sometimes it's weird.  When she goes into detail on her and my husband's sex life I get a little creeped out.  Who wouldn't?  And it's not always rainbows and butterflies.  When she gets mad about something, she flips out.  I mean when its good,  its good.  But when its bad, its BAD. 

But overall, I'm so thankful that we found a way to make it work.  All 3 of us.  It's so rare that a relationship like ours works.  Who else can say that their current husband's ex wife comes over at least 3-4 times a week now and occasionally spends the night when we've all had too much to drink?  Best of all, she supports me and my role as step mother to her son.  She doesn't disagree when she's over here and I discipline him or tell him yes, you can have that extra snack that probably has too much sugar.  She takes my daughter over to her house for sleepovers to give my husband and I a much needed break.  She holds my newborn every time she comes over and gives her so much love and begs to have her for a sleepover too. 

It's a weird concept for everyone else.  But for us?  It works.  

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I just don’t get the fuss about abortion. I really don’t. For much of its existence, a foetus is simply potential. Heartstoppingly real enough, when you discover you have one, but no more than a potential nevertheless. We are all potential killers, but nobody locks us up because of our potential. Treating a potential state or trait as if it were reality sets my alarm bells ringing. Imagine arresting people drinking in bars or in their homes, just in case they had cars and got into them later to drive away. Or Muslims, just in case they turned out to be terrorists. Where does the potential for human life end? In a sperm, in an egg? In desire? Could refusing a fuck be considered denying potential human life?

Then there are the protesters, the ones flinging abuse and urine at real people, theoretically in an attempt to protect people who do not yet exist. As Ruby Tuesday quite rightly points out, their efforts might be better rewarded ensuring that women do not have to choose between studies and childrearing, work and childrearing, economic viability and childrearing. But I don’t think that supporting single mothers or female autonomy comes very high on their agenda, no matter how big the crop of foetuses might be. And remember, it’s a short step from protecting foetuses – who are only potential – to banning contraception because every fuck is a potential foetus.

And how about the “If you’re old enough to have sex, you’re old enough to live with the consequences” school of thought. Wow. Who are these people? The Institute for Parenthood as Punishment? The authors of “Resentment and Frustration as key qualities in childrearing”? Not people with a child’s best interests at heart, that’s for sure.

I can only understand the fuss over abortion in terms of control over women’s bodies and lives. Dressed up as religion, or morality or humanity, abortion is condemned because we NEED babies. We need them to pay our social security systems, to operate our manufacturing processes, to fill out the ranks in our armies, to compete in the global market, to farm our fields. And women are still the only source of babies. So women get a lifelong training in learning to want them and we get fancy guilt trips for failing our training and not wanting them, or not having them.

Then, there’s the additional advantage that whilst we are busy raising children free for ourselves, our partners, our families, and ultimately, our country, we are often too busy to compete with men on the job market, protest about our condition, make waves.

In Spain, the falling birthrate and consequent rise in the ageing population has made the State’s dependence on women’s free provision of mothering starkly evident. I, for example, am unlikely to ever receive a pension unless some wonderful altruistic young women out there rapidly start dedicating themselves to the breeding and rearing of numerous tax-paying citizens. But what is the State doing about this? What rewards do mothers receive for their fundamental contribution to the existence of the nation’s population, let alone the State? Sweet FA is the answer: there is still no widely and freely available childcare provision or support, anywhere. Nation States in general are still reluctant to fund something that they have always managed to acquire for free, although it’s changing, slowly. In Austria, for example, I could earn as much staying at home rearing my child as I do working for a wage. This has got to be the future.

Killer fact: Statistics show that as women’s educational level rises, the number of children they have drops.

My personal experience with the National Health Service in the UK was that it was easier to get an abortion (just one potential human life lost) than to be sterilized (my entire reproductive services to queen and country lost forever). And, as feared, instead of being tied up with childrearing, I spent my 20s and 30s getting an education and economic independence, campaigning against nuclear arms at Greenham Common, finding safe housing for battered women (and thus “breaking up” families), campaigning for women’s rights and generally being a nuisance to society. I am everything that the anti-choicers are fighting against.
You’d never guess it if you met me. I like gardening.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Since Abortion is Always a Crowd Pleaser

Several months ago, my internet meandering took me to a great article/response about a young woman contemplating an unplanned pregnancy. It got me thinking about the issue for the first time in a really long time. I am 36, happily married, financially secure, I have health care and a wide family safety net. My husband and I don't want any more children, in spite of the fact that those longings for just one more hit me now and then. For me, abortion is no longer a personal issue. My husband and I have discussed that if I got pregnant accidentally, barring any major complications or my own health risk, we would just have another baby and adjust our plans to fit that decision. It was only a few short years ago that an unplanned pregnancy would have felt catastrophic. I still vote on the issue but this one no longer affects me directly beyond the fear that my two young daughters may not have the reproductive freedom that I did.

When I was in my early twenties, my best friend got pregnant. She was on the verge of a breakup and not only could she not cope with the idea and responsibility of being a parent, she could not get her head around having a lifetime tie to her soon to be ex. Her own family life had been very fractured and it wasn't so much the responsibility of parenting that scared her but the idea that she did not have the skills to be a mother since so many of those critical skills had not been displayed in her own parenting. She was upset, no distraught. She had been on the pill and had gone on a course of antibiotics for something I cannot remember. Her doctor had failed to mention that her birth control would be rendered ineffective for the period she was on the antibiotics and voila, just like that she found herself pregnant.

She needed someone to go with her. She couldn't tell her mother and she didn't want the soon to be ex there. She asked me, knowing that even in the most stressful of situations, I remain level headed, feeling the stress acutely later on when the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared. I need you to come with me, she said, I need you to ask the questions I will forget to, I need someone to hold my hand while I figure out if I can do this or not. We talked into the night. What do you really want I asked. I just want to turn back time she said, I want this to never have happened. Do you think you can go through with it, I asked. I don't think I have a choice she answered. You do I reminded her. If this is something that you feel like you might not be able to be okay with, you do have choices and I'll help you no matter what, doing whatever I can.

The next morning we set out for the clinic. My own doctor was in the same small office building and I remembered the harsh glares of the crowd as I pulled my car into the parking lot. I wanted to tell them, I'm getting my strep throat checked you assholes as they shouted toward my closed car window. Thankfully the day was grey and drizzly keeping the usual handful of regular protesters away. We walked in and I could not help but look at the faces of the other women filling the lobby and wonder what brought them to this moment. No one looked happy or carefree or even ambivalent. The air was heavy with regret and fear and uncertainty and desperation. I stupidly wanted to tell people, I'm not here for an abortion, she is. If I didn't judge the act, why did I want no one to mistake that I was the patient?

After a few minutes a counselor called my friend in and we went into a small office where she spent a long time going over every possible alternative option. She talked at length about adoption. She talked about resources that were available to my friend if she wanted to have a child but feared that she could not afford it or lacked an adequate safety net. It made me think a little that if pro-lifers are so adamant about stopping abortions, why don't they adopt or donate money to organizations that would provide options for women who find themselves pregnant rather than hold up signs of fetuses and throw bags of urine at cars.

She went through the entire procedure with us. She made it seem neither easy peasy nor a horrendous ordeal. She very matter of factly explained what to expect and what would happen. She told me that I was allowed to be with my friend through all of it except the few minutes they would actually be doing the procedure. That's what they called it, the procedure, rarely the abortion. I was silently grateful that I would be absent during this part. I would have stayed and held her hand through it all but the part of me that wrestled with her choice didn't want to be there.

My friend had the abortion. It was the opposite of nice. I will never forget the quilted fabric cosy that covered the cylinder that collected the material from the abortion. I held her hand in the recovery room as she came back from the light sedative they gave her and waited to make certain she didn't hemorrhage. How do you feel I asked her.

Relieved was all she said.

That day was the best birth control I could have ever had. It was sad, it stuck with me. I supported my friend through word and deed but I promised myself that day that I would do anything and everything to make sure I didn't ever have to make that decision.

What It Feels Like For A Girl

The older I get, or perhaps the more experience I get, or maybe it's the more jaded I get, the more I realize just how different women's lives are from those of men. Not always in bad ways and not generally to their detriment but completely different nonetheless. Even with education, caring equitable partners, choices, good work, and other bastions of a more equal Western world, it is still different, as Madonna says, what it feels like for a girl. There are pressures, expectations, paradigms we operate within, dreams and hopes that while they may differ for the individual woman, are still present in her universe. That's kind of what I'm interested in--her universe.

So I have these women I know, and we are all different. And yet, we have found things in common. We all have gravitated to this kind of shared inner dialogue experience, this strangely connected, loose, sometimes transient, sometimes solid thing that is blogging. I have witnessed moments of honesty, clarity, anger, depression, elation, silliness, bravado, hopefulness. I like the way they write and I get something different out of reading each of them. They are young and single, married with children and without, divorced and getting there, moms who stay home, moms who work, moms who take medication. They are all someone's daughter, some of them are sisters, aunts, wives, girlfriends, daughters-in-law and the like. They are all so different and if I think about them each as their own complete character, there is no story I could weave to bring us all together and yet, somehow here we are.