Friday, January 31, 2014

Manscaping - More Than You Ever Wanted to Know

Hair, hair everywhere. What's a man to do?

For as long as there have been humans, there has been an abundance of hair. On heads, on chests, on arms and legs, and yes....down there.

I must include a disclaimer here so that I don't get a bunch of hate mail over this post, and/or totally gross out family members. If you don't want to read about sex, penises, balls, happy trails, vagazzling, tweezing, waxing, chafing or rubbing, stop reading now. I mean it. Like right now.

Last chance.

I'm not kidding. Go.
Okay, now that we're done with warnings and disclaimers, let's get on with the business of the day, manscaping.

This topic came to me as a request from a fan. Someone I have known, quite literally, forever. He's a dude that needs some questions answered. He knows that I can't refuse a challenge, so here we are.

Since at least 4000 BC, people have been removing hair from their bodies. Razors were invented sometime around 3000 BC. Prior to that hairs were plucked out using shells. (I'll just let you think about how awesome of a process that must have been for a moment.)

Facial hair is the hair most commonly and historically removed for men, leg and underarm hair for women, though some cultures have long dictated the removal of pubic hair for women. Oh, and just in case you are wondering, if you search bikini waxing on Wikipedia, there are pictures. I've linked it here for ease of use. You are welcome.

Though the removal of pubic hair is nothing new, the widespread societal expectation of female removal is something fairly recent, at least in this country. Sex and the City didn't just bring back day drinking, it urged women everywhere to get their tingly bits waxed.

And the world rejoiced.

It's a trend that hasn't seemed to let up, though every so often there are stories that pop up alleging that waxing is on the way out, that women are embracing their pubes again, that the moral center of the nation is encouraging growing it long and strong to rebel against the horrors of porn. And so on and so forth. Then vagazzling becomes a thing a few weeks later and we all realize we're still going to be shaving for a while.

So, women have been doing it a long time...what about the men? They've come over to the smooth side too.

I could get into a lengthy explanation about chest hair or leg hair or any other hair, but we all know that's not why you're here. You're here for the naughty bits. Unless you are a porn star, swimmer, model, elite cyclist or probably aren't shaving your entire body bald because you have to. You're shaving it either because you want to or because someone told you it looked good.

Little secret here. Ready? Most women I know actually like chest hair as long as it's not unwieldy and doesn't fan out too far or stick our of the top of your shirt. Feel free to trim it up, but don't shave it all off. (Also, feel free to discuss among friends, ask your significant other what they prefer, choose to ignore them if you like to be a bear, whatever....however you get your freak on, I'm good with it.) Whatever you do, leave a trace of the happy trail. Please.

Don't do this.
In researching this post, I've been fortunate to have many male friends willing to tell me their stories. Some go full 70's bush, refusing to shave anything below the neck. Some use clippers to tame their body hair, but refuse to shave with an actual razor. Some trim pubic hair only, leaving the chest hair alone. Some were even kind enough to tell me they shave the pubic hair on top but leave the ball hair alone. And then there were the bald boys who go for it all, clippers first, then razors.

Every guy does it a little differently, and they all have slightly different reasons.

Some started during puberty or very shortly thereafter. More than a few started in college. Some started at the request of a significant other. One guy I know started when he found his first gray pube. True damn story.

My only word of caution is this, ladies....if you have been married a long time and your husband has been hairy the whole time, then suddenly decides to shave his balls, worry. Middle aged men don't often just wake up one day and start doing this unless there's a reason, at least not from the stories people have told me.

What are the reasons for a guy to shave his junk? (for the love of all that is right and just in this world, if you are related to me and haven't left yet, go now)

  1. Sex. Really, this is the main reason. Let's just be honest about that. I don't have a penis, but I can tell you that sensations are heightened in the nethers when hairless. I assume it would be the same for a dude.
  2. Oral Sex. It's just better. And your partner is probably more willing to go there if things are tidy. No one likes getting hair in their teeth. Cough. Cough.
  3. Illusions. There is a thing, referred to as the "optical inch", reasoning goes a bit like this: if the bush is trimmed back a little, the trunk seems longer and thicker. 
  4. Cleanliness. Hair hangs on to sweat, and let's get one thing clear: balls sweat a lot. Sweat stinks. Less hair, less place for sweat to fester - less smell.
  5. Looks. You know you've stood in front of a mirror and admired it. If you say you haven't, you're lying. If you are a guy and try to tell me you haven't at least attempted a helicopter, I'm never believing another word you say.
  6. Because someone asked you to. Okay, so maybe this should be the main reason.
In talking to guys about this and doing research online, I've come to learn that there are some rules about this. 
  1. First rule of manscaping is that no one talks about manscaping, but most guys do at least a little bit of it. If you don't, high five for keeping it real, man. Everyone else, you know what I'm talking about here. Unless you are waxing your friend's chest because he lost a bet...then everyone knows.
  2. Prep work is everything. You don't just grab the razor you use to shave your face, with that dull old blade, take a look at your junk and get to getting. NO. YOU DO NOT. You get another set of instruments, and don't go cheap. If you have clippers, you have two clippers. If you have razors, there is one for the face and one for the junk. Label them. Or just know which is which. In a pinch you might use just the one, but face first. Always face first.
    Always have two. Always.
  3. Shaving your balls the first time has to be terrifying. Like skydiving terrifying. I can't decide which would be worse personally...having something with a running motor that close to your junk or sweeping a super sharp razor along your man bits. I don't know how you guys decide which way to go, and honestly I don't want to know. I just say that whatever you do is your choice. If you're new, here's a tutorial. 
  4. Location, location, location. You do not shave your balls when staying at someone else's house. You do not shave your balls on an uncovered floor. You do not shave your balls with your girlfriend/wife's razor. You may shave your balls in a hotel bathroom. You may shave your balls over the toilet as long as you dust the bowl off afterwards. 
  5. Timing is everything. Got kids? Do not shave your balls when there is any chance they could walk in on you. Just shave when everyone else is somewhere else. You do not want a five year old walking in while you've got a knife to the boys. If you have a lock, use it. After you check to make sure it works 385 times, of course. Turn on some music. Light some candles. Experiment with crouching positions. This is going to take a while, especially the first time.
  6. Sharp, clean and moist. Unless you are just clipping and trimming, you need to pay attention to skin care. New sharp razors are the only way to go. Aftershave will burn like a motherfucker (not that I'd have experience with that or anything), but a nice soothing lotion will help. Cold water will help close up pores after shaving too. I could tell you to shave with the grain, but you're not going to listen. Air it out afterwards. How you go about doing that is up to you.
  7. Maintenance is key. Stay on top of it and it will get easier to manage. Any woman will tell you this.
  8. Clean up after yourself. You just removed the hair equivalent of a small dead animal. Pick it up. All of it. Even the little guys. For the love. 
Courtesy of my good friend, also possible story contributor, The Musings of Munch, an earworm for you, sung to the tune of Miley Cyrus' Hoedown Throwdown. Wax it, shave it, epilate it.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Whatever ~ Day 30 ~ John Keating

Day 30~

"We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And, the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. 

To quote from Whitman, 'O me! O life!... of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless -- of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these O me, O life? Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse.' 

That the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. 

What will your verse be?"

- John Keating, Dead Poet's Society

This movie. Oh, this movie. 

As a lover of poetry, of writing, of words, this movie spoke to a part of my soul that I was too young to know even existed yet within me. 

I haven't seen the film in a good long time now, and suddenly have an urge to watch it again, to share it with my children, to want them to understand it. That urge brought on by a commercial, of all things. This commercial.

The first time I saw it, I was moved to tears. I watch it now, for the creation of this post and it speaks to me again. To me, this isn't about a tablet at all, though the marketing is nothing short of brilliant. It is about the words, the way they are woven together, the meaning they carry, the places they urge us to go, the people they insist that we become.

John Keating was an English teacher at a private university in the film, and he used poetry to speak to the hearts and minds of his students. This quote contains a piece of a poem by Walt Whitman, and he used it to challenge them to think more, to love more, to be more. 

I endeavor to do the same here with you all today, which is fitting as this series comes to a close. 

If I ask it of you, I must be willing to do it myself.

Here goes nothing. 

My passion is this, what I do here. Writing. It is an impossible, unrelenting piece of who I am. It is what I am called to do. It is what keeps me awake at night filling my head with ideas and topics and characters and stories. It is what forces me to reveal the things that are hardest to let out. It is what kept me alive in my darkest days. It is what has connected me to people in ways I could have never imagined. It is what has taught me more about myself, about the world, about other people, about my parents and children than anything else ever could have. It gives me a voice. It helps me give voice to others. 

My passion is photography, one that I must make more time for. There are few things in the world that bring me more peace than being one with nature, just being surrounded by it, observing it, then taking it and framing it and capturing it so that it may live on again in the images. I love to catch people when they don't know they are being photographed, when they don't know someone is watching them, when they are the most natural and the most amazingly beautiful versions of themselves. 

My passion is helping others, particularly women as they embark on the journey of motherhood. To know that I can help someone take ownership of one of the most pivotal times in their lives, that I can hold them up, that I can support them, that I can whisper words of encouragement and love in their ears, that I can sit in the shared silence as the world stops spinning just for a moment before the baby cries, is a gift. I am blessed to do this. 

If I can get to the end of my days and know that  I have touched someone with these verses, these passions, these loves of mine, my purpose will be fulfilled. 

What will your verse be?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Whatever ~ Day 29 ~ The Joker

Day 29 ~

I believe whatever doesn't kill you simply makes you stranger.

~ The Joker, The Dark Knight

Heath Ledger. The Joker. One of the best acting performances of our entire generation, the character that infiltrated his mind, the craziest bad guy we love to hate and hate to love.

He was that good. The world lost an amazing actor when he died.

The script for this movie was written by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, based on the characters we have grown up with. Batman is one of the most mysterious, darkest heroes in the superhero universe, so logic dictates that his enemies must also be mysterious and dark.

This phrase is uttered very near the beginning of the film, during a bank robbery, as The Joker shoves a smoke bomb into the mouth of a bank employee.

The Joker is a twisted person, to say the least. His motivations are different than most villains. He doesn't just want money or power or influence or weapons. He wants chaos more than anything. He literally wants to watch the world burn just to see what people will do when faced with ethical dilemmas.

Why he is the way he is, we may never know. There are several different versions of his past, and in the film The Dark Knight, he spends quite a bit of time telling stories, always different, each one a little more crazy than the last.

On to the quote, one which seems appropriate for a man like him to say.

And, if I'm being completely honest, one that I tend to agree with.

Let me explain.

There is a run-of-the-mill quote very similar to this one, uttered in a million different incarnations, about how what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. There's truth to that one, of course, assuming that what you deal with doesn't damage you too much. Living with PTSD now, though there are days I would say I am stronger, there are also days I would say that I am too damaged now.

I think we all learn and grow from our experiences necessarily, that we gain perspective and wisdom, that we mature and expand our view of the world. Or we should. Not everyone does. Some people take their experiences to be the only ones, their perspective to be the only one, and then spend the rest of their lives laboring under the delusion that the version of the world they see is the only one.

So, what doesn't kill you can make you stronger. It can also make you damaged. It can also make you bitter and deluded.

This quote isn't that one, of course. It is a mockery of that quote, twisted and mangled by the raving lunatic shoving a smoke bomb into an innocent man's mouth.

It's also true.

At least for me, it's true. I've been through a lot. There were times that life beat me down, kicked my ass, shoved me down further and left me to rot. It was that bad for a while. I've lost a lot. I've had to do things no one should ever have to do. I've been scared, I've been alone, I've been used.

I survived it all, somehow, probably just out of pure stubbornness.

Now that I'm here, hopefully past the worst of it, I'm this version of myself.

I'm stronger in ways, weaker in others. I'm smarter and wiser but far more skeptical and cynical than I ever was before. I'm more prone to show emotions at times, more likely to stuff them away at others. I'm more interesting for sure.

And I'm a hell of a lot stranger than I ever was.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Whatever ~ Day 28 ~ Norman Reedus

Day 28 ~

"Damaged people gravitate towards damaged people."

~ Norman Reedus

This series is almost over. I am so conflicted about it, for a few reasons. First of all, I love quotes. I love learning more about the people who say the words that become famous. I love interpreting things. It's what I do. Some of you out there reading have adored this series. We lost everyone else along the way though, and I can't honestly tell if it's just adjusting to Facebook's latest "improvement" that drops my reach, if most of my fans are turned off by this series, or if I'm just getting boring in my old age.

I can't tell.

Do you know who Norman Reedus is? He's best known for his role as Daryl, the guy that I want right next to me during the zombie apocalypse.

This guy.

Swoon. In real life, before he was the crossbow wielding badass, he was a model and artist. He has built Harleys and exhibited his art all over the world. I was trying to think of a way to wrap up this series that was interesting to me at least, and since he is very near the top of my list, I looked for quotes from him.

Then I found this and I decided that he should just move in with me.

Because this.

Damaged people gravitate towards damaged people.

Do they ever.

I have this theory. And forgive me in advance because this theory is totally going to make me sound like an asshole to anyone who doesn't understand where I am coming from...

It's this.

Perspective is everything, and the only way to really have it is to live through enough terrible life experiences. Get through on the other side, after you've survived and re-evaluated and reorganized and reassessed. Once you've seen what you are made of, what other people are made of, once you've been totally honest about your flaws and embraced them, then you can actually begin to understand what the point of all of this is.

Until then, you're just chugging along doing what you think you are supposed to, reaching for things you think you want, valuing what you think is important. Even if it's all bullshit.

Necessarily, to have all that vital life experience, you have to have been through a lot.

Those experiences don't just bring knowledge and wisdom, they bring baggage too.

I have a matched set.

With a steamer trunk.

Am I a damaged person? Some people would certainly think so. There are times that I wonder if I'm broken myself. Sometimes I am, if I am being completely honest.

The people who get me, the people who understand me the best, the people who I can tell things to, the people I can trust to be there for me without judging me or placating me or handing out irrelevant advice....they've been there too.

Does that mean we're all complete train wrecks?


Stop staring, already.

Then again, we've all got issues. Live long enough and there's bound to be something fundamentally screwed up about you. It's how you cope with it that matters.

I prefer to cope using zombie apocalypse shows.

Monday, January 27, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Whatever ~ Day 27 ~ Hershel Greene

Day 27 ~

"You step outside, you risk your life. You take a drink of water, you risk your life. And nowadays you breathe, and you risk your life. Every moment don't have a choice. The only thing you can choose is what you're risking it for."

~ Hershel Greene, The Walking Dead

Oh, Hershel. I love this show, I love him. I am still not totally recovered from the mid-season finale. If you aren't current on it, I don't want to spoil anything that happens, so we will just talk about the quote.

Hershel is the farmer/veterinarian in The Walking Dead. He is the recovering alcoholic that still struggles with his faith at times, even though he clings to it more than any other character on the show. 

He became the moral center of the show, the voice of calm, the voice of reason. He is a fierce protector of his children, he is the one they all look to for guidance and stability.  He is the father figure of this post-apocalyptic world.

These words were spoken to his daughter, Maggie and Glen during an outbreak of contagious illness among the survivors. He insisted that it was his duty to do what he could to help those he could for as long as he could. They were worried about him exposing himself to disease. He saw his purpose as bigger.

Though the setting in which the show takes place is clearly a fictional one, his words hold truth in our reality as well. There are risks inherent in everything we do, the only thing certain about life at all is that it will end someday, but the fear of what might happen to us or when we might meet our end can't be the thing that limits us. 

Or at least it shouldn't be.

Instead, Hershel would urge us to suppress the fear. Fear can't be banished, and I think he'd make the argument that it shouldn't, but it can be overcome. We can choose to go out and do the things we should anyway.

He would sit you down right now and ask you what you are living for. What are you risking your life for?

What would your answer be?

Sunday, January 26, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Whatever ~ Day 26 ~ Robert Downey, Jr.

Day 26 ~

"Listen, smile, agree, and then do whatever the fuck you were gonna do anyway"

~ Robert Downey, Jr.

I quoted Ironman yesterday, so this was the next logical step, right?

Oh, this man. I don't think he ages. Or he made some deal with the devil that grants him eternal youth in exchange for whatever he traded it in for. He is....just...well...awesome.

I love the guy for a few reasons. I loved him when he was the jerk harassing Gary and Wyatt in Weird Science and when he was Charlie in Chaplin, but it wasn't really until he started publicly struggling with addiction that I began to pay more attention to him than the rest of the brat pack. 

Here he was, this wildly successful guy who had lived his entire life in the spotlight, and he was going public with the fact that he had a drug problem. I remember watching him during this time when he was on Ally McBeal and rooting for him, cringing when he relapsed, celebrating when he stayed sober. He finally kicked it for good and the world rejoiced....because goddamn he is a fantastic actor.

This quote is from an interview he did on Inside the Actor's Studio in 2006, years before he started hitting blockbuster numbers in the theaters. He was sober, he was rebuilding his career. His first marriage had fallen apart but he was happily remarried. He was in a good place, maybe for the first time in his life.

That's what makes this quote so fantastic. It can really only be appreciated, I think, when you've been to hell and back a few times. Then you get it. You see what is important. You understand.

I understand. 

As someone who had to do it all in the spotlight, for him the journey was far more complicated by the microscope staring at him all the time, picking apart everything about him.

He learned in that time to work a crowd, he had to. 

He learned to play to the masses, to quiet the people, to silence the critics...but live his life exactly as he wanted to anyhow. Which is what being a more self-realized person is about, anyway, if we are being honest. 

How much of what you do is shaped by what other people might think?How much of what any of us do is shaped that way? Probably too much.

He'd tell you to stop living like that. 

So would I.

You should listen to us. We know stuff.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Whatever ~ Day 25 ~ Ironman

Day 25~

We create our own demons.

~ Tony Stark, aka Ironman, Ironman 3

Hi. My name is Kelly, and I'm a little bit obsessed with Ironman.

Okay, so more than a little bit. 

Tony Stark is his real name, you know...genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist. That guy. If you haven't watched the Avengers movies or the Ironman ones, go. I'll wait.

No, really.

I love Ironman for many reasons, and have confessed my love of him on several prior occasions. When the most recent installment in the Ironman saga came out last year, though, my heart grew three sizes.

Tony Stark had to confront the fact that he has anxiety issues. 

This quote is as much about his enemies that he fights in the action scenes as it is about the ones in his head. If you haven't already seen IM3 and failed to listen to me up ^^^ there, I'm going to spoil some of the plot for you. 

Aldrich Killian is the bad guy in this one, though for a while you are led to believe the Mandarin is. Anyhow, back when Killian was a young scientist, he approached Stark with an idea. Tony was too busy with his playboyness to be bothered and brushed Killian off, who obviously was pissed and spent years figuring out how to best get revenge.

All this goes on at the same time that Stark begins to realize how disabling his anxiety problems have become.

Essentially, the villains of the movie are two-fold. The physical ones he has to contend with and the ones inside his own head, both of which exist because of things he did or said in the past.


I am Ironman.

Not really, but kinda.

Now that you have a lengthy explanation of the quote and know most of the essential information about Tony Stark, look at this for a minute.


Like I needed another damn reason to love Ironman. 

I guess I should talk about the quote, huh?

This one. Just yes. So much yes. As a person who over analyzes everything, who over thinks, who runs constant dialogues in her head and probably makes it all worse, yes. As a person who lives with anxiety all the freaking time, yes. As a person who has a brain completely screwed up by ptsd, yes. 

Are some of my demons external ones? Sure. 

But you know what I do that makes it all ten bajillion times worse????

I let it get into my head. And then it multiplies. 

Tony Stark. 

He's my soul mate, you guys. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Whatever ~ Day 23 ~ Joss Whedon

Day 23 ~

“I'll take crazy over stupid any day.” 

Joss Whedon

You knew that once I stopped writing about what I was supposed to be writing about that eventually I would have to nerd it up, right?

Hi. My name is Kelly. I am a nerd. I hope you know who Joss Whedon is. If you don't, I'll tell you.

He's like a junior godfather in the nerd world. He created, helped create, wrote or directed The Avengers, Toy Story, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Angel, an episode of Glee and a whole bunch of other stuff.

I'm not at all surprised that he said something like this:

“I'll take crazy over stupid any day.” 

Not even a little bit. He creates characters that are practically geniuses, but this makes sense. He's an atheist, but a humanist, both of which have been well documented. If you aren't familiar with humanism, it's essentially the idea that our value and importance as humans is inherent, is not subject to or dependent on the existence of a higher power. We are urged to be the best version of ourselves. Whedon in particular would say that this is essential, because this is all there is. 

On to the quote.

I have to say that I agree with him. Honestly. I certainly have my crazy side, and by crazy I mean like certifiable because there is actually shit wrong with me and also just regular run of the mill crazy.

Maybe it's just me, but when people call other people crazy, I don't think it's an insult. Maybe that's because I have lots and lots of my own crazy. Maybe it's because I don't see it as a way to categorize or diagnose people. I see crazy just as being this: when someone does or says something that doesn't seem logical to us. 

That doesn't, by the way, mean the other person is crazy at all. Misunderstood, maybe, but not necessarily crazy. I mean, they could totally be deluded or irrational or unhinged for whatever reason, certainly, but I don't think the term as it is commonly used refers only to those people. 

The truth is that most of us do what we do for a reason, even if it doesn't make sense to anyone else at the time and might make us seem crazy. That reason stems from our unique and individual life experience, perspective, morality and so on...which is the awesome thing about us humans. We're all so different.

I've joked with friends about this, particularly with family issues. I don't think any of us believes our family is totally sane and normal, but at least we understand this particular version of crazy. We're used to it. We know how to deal with it. That doesn't make it normal at all, it just makes it familiar.

Having said that, I'll take crazy over stupid any day of the week and twice on Sunday. 

As for stupidity, I suppose there are a few ways to define it. Stupidity can just be a lack of intelligence, which may or may not be something that anyone has any ability to control. I don't think that's the kind of stupid he's talking about though.

I think he's talking about the oblivious type of stupidity. The people who fail to understand what is happening because they lack the interest or effort required to figure it out. The people who believe whatever they are told, even if it's completely wrong, because they don't bother finding out for themselves.  The people who don't think about what they are doing or saying before they do it. The people that you can't have a rational discussion with. The people who can't or won't understand logic and reason. The people who can't entertain the idea that other people may have differing ideas and opinions or experiences.

The people who make you want to bang your head on the wall.

Those people. 

Give me crazy over that, please.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Whatever ~ Day 21 ~ Assholes

Day 21 ~

Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, first make sure that you are not, in fact, just surrounded by assholes.

- Steve Winterburn

Hi there. We're changing things up here. I was getting annoyed by the life quotes on GoodReads because they had reached the point of repetition, so I'm going to spend the last part of this challenge doing something a little different every day. 

This quote, sent to me by a friend. She thought this would be a great addition to the challenge, and I agreed. 

This is my blog and I can change my mind, right?  Besides which, I've lived this quote a few times.

First though, let's talk about the guy who said it.

This quote is quite frequently falsely attributed to William Gibson, which would be very interesting if it was his since he's one of the godfathers of steampunk. He has said on numerous occasions that it isn't though.

Steve Winterburn said it. He's a humorist who is best known for his work in the Twittersphere.

On to the quote.

We live in interesting times. There is still a lot of stigma when it comes to mental illness in general, very real stigma that affects those who live with it, and yet there is this simultaneous societal obsession with self-diagnosis. 

You know these people, the ones who google every symptom they ever have. The ones who declare that loving organization must make them have OCD, that because they are sad that their dog died they must be depressed, that because they got nervous before something big happened they must have anxiety. 

Stop that.

Really. Those of us who live with this stuff for real need you to stop.

It makes people take us less seriously. It makes light of what it is really like to live with these conditions. 

And I digress.

The quote itself is right on. I speak that truth from the wonder of living it. When you've been through some of the things I have been, when every time you turn around, someone else is betraying you, failing you, lying to you, it's hell. 

I've been there. For a long time while I was in that place, I tried to rationalize it. A long, long time. I thought that there had to be something wrong with me, that it wasn't possible that there could be this many things wrong. That I was the crazy one.

Some of them helped convince me that I was.

Then, one day it was all revealed for what it was. It wasn't me. It was never me. I was collateral damage, the one hurt because of the things they were doing that really didn't have much to do with me at all.

I was, in fact, just surrounded by assholes. 

Let me tell you, it was a glorious moment when I finally realized it.

When you've thought you were the crazy one, it's freeing, for sure.

Life is a whole lot better now.

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday ~ the thug life edition

I'm actually in a good mood.

Be cool, you guys. Be cool. It might not last, so I'm going to ride this wave as long as it lasts. It is still Tuesday though, so we need to address the things that fired me up this week.

Richard Sherman, a.k.a. the thug who isn't
Immediately after the Seahawks beat the 49ers Sunday, Erin Andrews shoved a microphone in Richard Sherman's face. The cornerback had just been involved in a scuffle with Michael Crabtree that resulted in an unsportsmanlike call in one of the final plays of the game. 

You know, the last game that they needed to win to get to the Superbowl. The game that, quite literally, came down to that play.

Crabtree and Sherman have a fairly long history of conflict and drama, both on and off the field, and this particular game was a very physical and brutal one, one that resulted in quite a few injuries.

In that moment, it's not hard to understand that he was emotional, that he was pissed, that there was a lot going through his mind. You've seen people scream at the television from the comfort of their home, and unless you've been on that field in that kind of moment, I don't think that most people can understand all the emotions of the game.

Anyway. He was brash and called Crabtree out, by name. My immediate reaction was whoa dude, slow your won. I wondered immediately whose idea it had been to shove a microphone in his face right then.

The internet exploded. Everyone had an opinion. Many people had the same gut reaction I did, which was that he was totally overreacting. When I understood more of the back story, it made sense though for sure. Sherman, in the heat of the moment, was venting. 

Like I do here all the damn time. No one calls me a thug.

I retract the statement I made about him myself, because it was unfairly based on that sideline interview alone. There's always more to the story. Always. We'd all do well to remember that, even and especially me.

What I saw happen in the hours after the interview, even through most of the day yesterday, though, was worse. Far worse than whatever he said. Some people decided that he was violent, that he was rude, that he was to be vilified, that he was a jerk, that he was an idiot, that he was a thug. There are worse things he was called, but I'm not writing them here because they make me sick.

How many people say the same thing about Philip Rivers when he bitches about other players? Not many, and certainly not the entire internet. Begs the question, then, of why did people react this way to him?

I certainly have my opinion why, and it's not a pretty one - people think it's acceptable to call a passionate, in your face black football player a thug, which says far more about the people calling him that than it ever will about him.

He's far from being a thug. Sherman graduated from Stanford. He's getting his master's degree. He started a charity to help keep kids in need dressed and outfitted with school supplies. He's articulate and is arguably the best corner in the game. He didn't have to explain why he was fired up, he didn't have to go public with a statement about the interview, but he did in a piece he wrote for MMQB on You should read it if you haven't already. 

We can't demand that these guys are passionate and give 110% on the field, then the moment the clock runs down, expect them to act differently. People don't have on and off switches. 

And people sure as hell can't throw words like thug around the way they have been.

Keep doing your thing, Richard. You're the one going to the dance. Maybe just slow your roll a tad. Maybe.

If the water is safe, why isn't it?
The water contaminated by the chemical spill in West Virginia was declared safe last week.

Then why are hospital admissions almost doubled for chemical exposure? Why did the Governor, when challenged on the issue of safety yesterday, tell reporters this:

“It’s your decision. If you do not feel comfortable drinking or cooking with this water then use bottled water. I’m not going to say absolutely, 100 percent that everything is safe, but what I can say is if you do not feel comfortable, don’t use it.”

Why hasn't the site of the spill, upstream from a major city, been subject to inspection since 1991?

Why are they telling pregnant women to drink bottled water for even longer than everyone else if it's so safe?

Mary Matalin and James Carville
They both appeared on Real Time with Bill Maher this last weekend. I have to say that their relationship has always fascinated me a bit because I can't imagine being married to someone who basically disagrees with everything I believe. 

It's not like they are just people who happen to be on opposite ends of the political spectrum, but avoid talking about it...both of their careers are completely wrapped up in what they believe. 

Anyhow, I don't know if I could do it. My husband and I mostly agree on the issues, though he does so enjoy playing the devil's advocate with me just so that I'll let my Luther out on him and not anyone else. You guys should thank him for that, by the way...because he is such a pain in my ass, I tease out the itty bitty nuances of my arguments long before I write about them here. 

Her appearance baffled me though, mostly because she seemed to be hopped up on pain meds. Or drunk. Or high. Or something. She's normally a lot more articulate than she was, so I'm just going to work off the assumption that she was altered in some way or another.

She got into it for a while with Jennifer Granholm, the former Governor of Michigan, on the topic of women's rights and the lack of female representatives in all levels of government. I just. Well. You should watch it. I was shaking my head for almost the whole thing.

There are other stories I could include, but I'm riding that wave of happiness. 

Don't harsh my mellow, man.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Life ~ Day 19 ~ Bob Marley

Day 19 ~

“Who are you to judge the life I live?
I know I'm not perfect
-and I don't live to be-
but before you start pointing fingers...
make sure you hands are clean!” 

Bob Marley

Marley. Yes.

This quote is taken from the song Judge Not.

The man who brought reggae to the masses, who had one of the most profound effects on music as we know it was also a terribly observant person. He was misunderstood by many, and though he was judged by others almost constantly, he resisted doing it himself.

This quote embodies so much about who he was and how he saw the world, and it's one that more people need to read and take to heart.

It seems like there is more hatred, vitriol, judgment and ugliness in the world now than there has ever been in my lifetime. I think part of it is the existence of the internet, the false power that people feel when they can hide behind a keyboard. If you wouldn't say something to someone's face, you shouldn't say it at all, but we all know that doesn't happen in real life. Just spend three minutes on social media and you'll see it.

I think part of it is the growing extremism in the country, the factions of people who are insistent on pitting themselves against others, for whatever reason they deem legitimate and appropriate.

I think part of it is the reality of our media these days. There isn't much true journalism anymore, and most of the talking heads on the television aren't communicating unbiased information, they are selling a side. Everything is spun, stories are biased, for as much as is discussed, there are all the stories that no one will touch. Keeping people ignorant is a great way to convince them that you are right.

I think part of it is the fact that empathy is dying. We don't care about other people enough anymore. We worry about ourselves, about whatever makes us happy right at this exact moment. We don't care about tomorrow or what happens to someone else. We are shortsighted and selfish. The only way to stop this is to start caring again. To teach kids to care. To walk the walk.

I think, though, that most judging comes from insecurity. We want to believe that we are better people, stronger people, happier people, more stable people...and instead of feeling secure with whoever we are, we decide that it's easier to see the flaws in others instead. Instead of working on our own issues, we point fingers and rage about the things we deem wrong with everyone else. Not because we're right but because it makes us feel better.


It's not worth it.

Life is short. Be happy. If you aren't happy, figure out why and work on it. Leave everyone else alone.

I think Marley was a damn genius.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

30 Days of Quotes About Life ~ Day 18 ~ Bessie Anderson Stanley

Day 18 ~

“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived—this is to have succeeded.” 

Bessie Anderson Stanley

I had never heard of Bessie Anderson Stanley, but have seen this quote or similar incarnations falsely attributed to  other writers, primarily Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I did a quick search of her, only to find out that this quote was the winning entry in a contest, the prompt being what is the definition of success? I also realized pretty quickly that the quote was different than this one, though they are fairly similar.

The real quote is this:

He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often, and loved much;
Who has enjoyed the trust of pure women, the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children;
Who has filled his niche and accomplished his task;
Who has never lacked appreciation of Earth's beauty or failed to express it;
Who has left the world better than he found it,
Whether an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul;
Who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had;
Whose life was an inspiration;
Whose memory a benediction.

The quote is one that is cited in pieces all over pinterest and in inspirational posters, reminding people that true success isn't rooted in material things, but instead in the impact you make in the world. Whether most people really take it to heart though, or just like to hang pretty signs on their walls, is subject to debate I suppose.


People, particularly in this society, are materialistic. The pursuit of bigger, faster, newer. The whining about having to wait for the newest version of the iphone to be released. The complaining the entire time they are on vacation because it isn't as perfect as it should be. The car to keep up with the Joneses. The Ineedabiggerhouseitis. Even the people who hang these saying on the walls of their homes don't usually seem to get it...not really, anyway.

It's hard, fighting the materialism. Everything in the media, on the television, in the magazines tells us that we aren't complete without the things they want us to buy.

Life isn't about things.

Life isn't some contest of material acquisition.

You can't take it with you when you go.

Again, I am sure that I am jaded by the experiences of my life, but I just know that in the end all that matters is how you treated people and what kind of legacy you leave. No one is going to care what car you drove or how big the number on your paycheck was or if the diamond in the ring was real or fake.

If it won't matter then, it shouldn't matter now.

What does matter are the things she writes about.

Laughter, friendship, love, embracing and using your abilities, humility, charity, seeing the beauty around you - that's what life is about.

The rest, truly, is just stuff.

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Friday Night Ode to Taco Bell

I'm not high.


I've still never used marijuana. AND I LIVE IN COLORADO, YOU GUYS.

You know what though???

I love Taco Bell.

Love it.

I'm not in college anymore, though I have fond memories of being crammed with far too many people into far too small of a car to make late night runs...only to have us all wake up the following morning telling crazy ass stories about the dreams we had with bellies full of tacos.

I don't love it because the food is good, and certainly not because it's anything close to the authentic Mexican food that I grew up loving in Southern California - you know, the kind where you walk roll out of the restaurant having gained ten pounds. Ahhhh.

Let me just have this moment, you guys.  (I've been trapped in the land of green chile sauce for 9 years)

One of the great downsides to moving away from SoCal is that I moved away from places like that. It took us eight years to find a decent Mexican restaurant here and the honest truth is that my cooking is damn close to even that one decent restaurant.

Y'all haven't lived until you've had my beans. For serious.

Anyway, this post is supposed to be about Taco Bell, and it will be. I just needed to have my moment of culinary reflection.

The Bell.

Aside from being hella cheap, I love it. I especially love the Doritos Locos tacos with Fire sauce. Nom.

Most recently I found a reason to adore the Bell because my teeny tiny son, the one who has fallen off the growth chart on for weight a few times, discovered the crunchy Taco Bell taco. He loves the crunchy Taco Bell taco. I feel less guilty about letting him eat them as a parent since they have to put actual meat in there now instead of whatever the hell it was before.

Please don't tell me. I'd really rather not know.

My love of the Bell is longer standing than this recent adoration of the crunchy taco though. It goes back over fourteen years now.

You see, Taco Bell did something no other place could do.

It made my husband eat. It kept him from dropping too much weight too fast.

When he was diagnosed with cancer and learned that he would have to go through fairly intense radiation to his abdominal cavity, we knew right away that it was going to mess with his entire digestive system. He'd already started dropping weight, weight that he didn't really have to drop back then, and it was going to get worse in a hurry. The nurses gave me all kinds of weight boosting ideas, gave me coupons for nutritional drinks, I tried everything I could think of and he wouldn't touch any of it.

A few days in (radiation was daily), we adjusted to the fact that he'd have a one hour window every afternoon, right after his treatments. That was the only hour of the 24 that he'd be even close to hungry. And he wanted Taco Bell.

Specifically, he wanted bean burritos.

He ate one a day for the rest of the time he was in radiation, and most of those days it was the only thing he kept down. I didn't argue with him too much because I figured there were worse things in the world he could eat. It had protein and carbs and cheese, and most importantly, it sounded good to him and he kept it down.

It became so routine that the car just drove itself there every day and the employees started to anticipate when we'd be by.

Ten years later, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. The chemo was hell, the radiation on top of it made everything worse, but that glorious neon bell in the sky came to the rescue again.

He didn't want to eat much, but he craved Taco Bell.

We'd learned not to ask questions long before then.

When we were there to visit, every time we went out, I just brought some home. When I left to take care of him at the end, any trip I made out included a loop of the drive-through. I tend to support the theory that he had digestive fondness for it because when he first started his business and was broke as hell, the lab was right behind a Taco Bell.

Like the muscle memory of a well trained athlete, his body craved what it knew.

Or something like that.

I know it's fast food. I know that calling it food probably isn't entirely accurate. I know it's terrible. I know that the meat wasn't entirely meat for like ever. I know that the shells have GMO corn. I know all that.

I know. So please don't preach at me. I know.

And you know what?

I still freaking adore the place.

Always will.

I'm pretty sure that the food is laced with magic fairy dust....but I'm still not asking any questions.

Twenty years after Northridge

I planned to write about teen movies today, and I fully intend to do that soon. I just have to get my head on straight first.

There's too much else going on in there right now for me to think about movies.

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Northridge earthquake.


It happened early in the morning. I can honestly say that I don't think I've ever been so scared in my life as I was that day. It sounded like a freight train ran into the side of the house. It felt like the world had picked everything up and shook it.

I grew up in Southern California, lived about five miles from the epicenter. There is a huge crack that ran down the canyon, through the neighborhood, and directly under our house.

I was 16. A senior in high school. Fortunately it didn't hit during the day, or I might not be here, along with a bunch of my classmates. The concrete overhangs collapsed at school. We were out of our school for two months, sharing a schedule with our cross-town rivals.

Part of living in Southern California is living with the reality that an earthquake can strike at any time. We did drills for them, were well trained in what we were supposed to do to stay safe and shielded in the event one hit.

Then the earthquake happened and panic set in. All those years of drills and training went out the door and instinct took over. Just get out of the house. Get out. It was the only thing I could think of. GET OUT NOW.

Oh shit. Oh shit! OH SHIT. OH SHIT!!!!

I couldn't move for a while. I was so scared I couldn't even scream. When I could stand, I was knocked over. The door was jammed shut and I was being pelted with whatever had been on the shelves in my room that had been turned into projectiles.

When it stopped, I met my parents and brother in the hall. Everyone was freaking out. We got down the stairs in the dark, tripped over whatever had fallen, and got to the front door. All the car alarms were going off, but the power was gone.

It was dark. Warm. Just the slightest hint of a breeze.

My Dad was sitting on the driveway, rocking back and forth. My Mom was talking and talking and talking and worrying and worrying and worrying.

We checked on the neighbors to make sure everyone got out, that no one was injured. Everyone gathered on front lawns and wondered what the hell we were going to do. The aftershocks came one after another.

At first light, I went back into the house, against the wishes of my parents. I had to get my brother's medications out. The dust clouds were forming all over the hills, there was smoke in the air from fires, and he needed to breathe.

The debris in the kitchen was thigh high, but I found it all. You don't feel the cuts and scrapes when adrenaline is pumping through your body, you just do it.

We were without power for four days I think, gas for longer. We had no water for over a week, used the pool water in buckets to flush the toilets. We had to boil it for weeks.

The whole house shook with every aftershock. We slept in the car for almost a week. I use the word slept as though I ever actually slept. It was years before I slept soundly again.

The afternoon of the day it happened, I saw one police car drive down the road next to ours. That was it. No one was coming. We had to learn to figure out how to make this work on our own.

It's one hell of a way to learn survival skills, but the things I learned that week have been used many more times since.

Keep bottled water and canned food on hand at all times. Keep flashlights, batteries and a battery powered radio as well. Sleep with shoes next to you. Know where the gas, electricity and water shutoffs are for your home. Have an evacuation plan for your home and a designated meeting place.

That, and try to keep your shit together when it happens.

Good luck with that.

Some of My Most Popular Posts