Wednesday, February 25, 2015

These are the moments when I'm not sure that I can stand all the beauty in this world

In the middle of a snowstorm, with a house full of rambunctious children, I handed the baby off to my husband last weekend and retreated upstairs for some much needed solitude.

I also needed desperately to dye my hair.

While the wind whipped outside and the bands of heavy, wet snow lashed against the windows, I was content to hide up.

Just me and the familiar scent of grasping at youth. For a while.

I sectioned and applied and timed and waited. Alone.

It was glorious.

I heard the baby fussing a bit, heard the familiar words my husband speaks to this, his last child, and soon he was quieted.

I wonder sometimes if it's the parenting miles we've accumulated on our odometers or just our ages now, or some magical combination of both, but I can tell you that parenting this time around has been vastly different.

This baby isn't an easy one, not by any stretch of the imagination, but parenting him has been easier. More relaxed. More familiar. 

We're more patient. We're more at ease. We relish more, push less. We just watch him more. We hold him more, linger with it all, even when we could put him down because we've learned just how short this time is. It's just more, all of it is more. I don't know how else to describe it. 

If only I'd known what I do now back when we started this parenthood journey all those years ago. 

I finished up, enjoying my last few moments of being alone in the quiet, shut off the lights and headed back downstairs to the video game infused chaos of a snow day.

About three steps down the stairs, I heard it, that song. Hallelujah, the Jeff Buckley version. My husband had been reading in the living room away from all the chaos. I found him lying there on the couch, the song softly playing in the background, fast asleep. Cradled in his arms, our son. 


It took my breath away.

I crept down the rest of the stairs and sat across from them both, watching them sleep, drinking in the moment, listening to that beautiful song. 

These are the moments when I'm not sure that I can stand all the beauty in this world.

Moments like this make me feel so terribly insignificant and filled with meaning all at once.

I took a picture, more with my mind than with the camera I used. 


These moments, the ones that bring us to our knees with gratitude, they make everything else worthwhile. They were so peaceful, so intertwined, so beautiful, like they just fit together perfectly in this moment in time and space and nothing else mattered right then. 

As I took this picture, a teenager in the adjoining room hollered down the hallway.

"Isn't that the song from Shrek?", he asked. 

I laughed quietly. Shook my head in amusement. "Oh, this was a song long before Shrek...but yeah. Yeah, it is." I replied. 

I was transported instantly back to the chaos of a video game infused snow day once more, but not before I was lucky enough to witness this, to sit with it, to be with it, to absorb it and to commit it to memory.

This man is my home, the calm in my storm, the peace in my chaos.

This child is my last, the one I never imagined I'd have the chance to meet someday.

And this? This was perfect.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the all things Oscar edition

There's entirely too much to cover this week, so we'll be skipping any kind of introduction this time around. Off we go.


The Quick and Dirty About the Academy Awards
The ratings were bad this year, and for good reason. The show was mostly boring, as it usually is. A lot of people protested the blandness, the whiteness of the Oscars this year by refusing to watch at all. The film industry as a whole tends to be pretty reflective of the white male experience, this is true, but the awards shows tend to take that to a new level. This year was no exception.

I watched for a few reasons, one of which is that I try very hard not to criticize things I haven't personally seen or read. I know many people who refused to watch on principal this year, and I wholly respect that decision. I also know, though, that institutions only ever really change when they are forced to. The Academy is a particularly insulated institution because of the membership requirements, one even less amenable to change due to that insulation. Because of that harsh reality, it will take a whole lot more pressure for things to ever be different. Trying to make changes in society requires us to stay present.

Anyhow, for anyone who wants to try and take me to task on my criticism of the whiteness of the awards, you really only need to reflect on the truth that the room was filled with British actors and no one asked any of them who they got their Green Cards from. That question was only posed to one person, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, the Mexican director (i.e. the son of a bitch) of Birdman. Did anyone else stare at the screen when Sean Penn said that, wondering aloud if that really just happened????

I know I did.

For.Fucks.Sake.

Other Oscars Observations
- John Legend and Common's performance of Glory was beyond amazing. Beyond. Speechless chills. If you haven't seen it yet, you must.


- Lady Gaga sang the hell out of the Sound of Music, which has apparently shocked most of the world...or at least the people who never noticed that she is actually talented before that performance. Of course she is. I've been saying that for years. Just seems like most people couldn't see past the meat dress. If you haven't seen this yet, here you go.


- The Academy LOVES to use popular films in its montages, but those same films relied on for applause are rarely ever the ones nominated. Hollywood loves a big box office, just doesn't think it is ever worthwhile when it comes to the tiny statues.

- The whole lock box thing was terrible. The fact that it wasn't something Octavia Spencer was asked about beforehand makes it even worse.   It really was just grossly inappropriate and completely unfunny.

- Patricia Arquette. Hmmm. The sentiment was fine and all. I can get behind anyone stumping for equal rights on such a large stage. That's rad. What wasn't so rad is all the other stuff she said afterwards, the kinds of things that make it pretty obvious that she doesn't really get the whole idea of intersectional equality. It's possible to be a feminist and argue for equal rights without discounting the experiences of other groups, particularly those that haven't obtained the level of equality she implied that they have or those who fit into more than one category. Also, no one gets to demand that other groups fight for them...so there's that.

- Joan Rivers wasn't included in the In Memorium segment, and the reasons the producers gave were pretty shallow and lame. Personally, I tend to think she was left out intentionally, mostly because she spent her entire career making fun of all of them. But whatever. She was a comedienne, and someone who will forever be associated with the red carpet, for better or worse. She should have been included. But no one asked me.

- Speaking of fashion critics, slamming Zendaya's dreadlocks was a bad choice, Guliana and Kelly. Zendaya just blew me away with her response, though. You can read it here if you'd like. 

- Graham Moore gave the best speech of the night, on a night when talking about mental illness and suicide publicly on a huge stage with bright lights and the world watching became okay.

The Twitter War Between Amber Rose and The Kardashians
A real life soap opera at its smarmiest, this battle is one for the ages. Seriously, there really is no level which won't be stooped to here. It's hard to look away from the trainwreck.

What bothers me tremendously, aside from the nastiness of it all, though, is the fact that Kylie is underage. Tyga is accused of stepping out on his wife for her (which it appears fairly likely that he did, unless jetting off to another country on a romantic trip together is something that totally platonic friends do now), but no one really seems to be talking about the fact that Kylie is underage.

Unless 17 is the new 18 and rules don't apply to Kardashians.

But whatever, let's all just focus on how many showers it takes to wash off the nasty.

Also, let's somehow focus on whether the women involved are at fault here, not the men (even the one accused of cheating on his wife...)

Bill O'Reilly
Much like Brian Williams, O'Reilly has been accused of embellishing stories, of stretching the truth, of just flat making up pieces of news stories. Unlike Williams, O'Reilly is enjoying the unyielding support of his network and throwing around promises to come after his accusers "with everything he has".

NBC suspended Williams to look into the allegations. Fox hasn't.

What does that say to you?

.....types out retraction to run at the end of the newscast....

All the cool kids are doing it
Apparently, it's totally legitimate and not at all racist to question everything about President Obama. For the longest time it was the birth certificate truthers. Then it was the people who claimed he was a Muslim. Now it's totally cool to publicly doubt his love of country and muse about how dedicated he is or is not to Jesus.

And it's totally not racist. Wink, wink.

(p.s. I should just remind everyone that Muslims and Atheists are as protected by the Constitution as all the Christians elbowing for the anti-Obama soundbytes here....)

Monday, February 23, 2015

To The One I Least Understand

Dear Freckles,

Twelve years ago, yesterday, you told me you were on your way, whispering to my heart as the twinges began. It was early, but I knew it would soon be time. I'd spent the better part of the week prior preparing for the wedding of a dear friend, the one that your older brother was to be the ring bearer in. We all joked that I needed to stay pregnant at least long enough to get him through the ceremony, and no one was at all surprised when I started having contractions just afterwards at the reception.

You'd wait until the following day to arrive though, after a long sleepless night. There was much to do about your birth, so many people in that room that I wouldn't even hazard a guess at the number. My labor with you was filled with laughter and the odor of sandwiches consumed by giggling people in the corners of the room. Your father passed the time by trying to make me laugh, something I hated him a little bit for when a contraction would come along. Laughing only made the waves stronger.  

You waited until your grandparents arrived, then like a deer trapped in the headlights, your poor grandfather was stuck near the end of the bed for some reason. He rallied and did his best to avert his eyes when he needed to. A part of him was horrified to have been witness to your birth, but a bigger part was grateful I think. 

You came screaming into this world, literally. Before you had even fully crossed over to earthside, you were letting us all know that your lungs worked just fine. You wouldn't go quietly.

You wouldn't go quietly anywhere. Ever. Even now. 

You've been a tough one to figure out, as a baby, as a toddler, as a little girl, now as a young woman. I won't for one second pretend that I've mastered all that you are. You are, to me, a mystery far more often than not. 

Your father, though, he gets you. Because so much of him was you. You are so alike, the two of you, that it is eerie at times. I know that I'll never fully understand what makes you tick, but he seems to. I trust that the two of you will work things out. I'll be here, watching, marveling at just how much two distinct human beings can be so alike.  

There are tiny little pieces of you that look more like me, though, things that you do that I can't hold anyone else accountable for when I glance around the room at the usual suspects, the most glaring of which is your perfectionism. 

We really are superheroes, aren't we?
Supergirl and Wonder Woman.
Comic Con, 2013.
You hold yourself to this impossible standard for so many things. Your penmanship is precise. You edit and edit and edit. You won't turn in work that is substandard. You follow rules as though your life depends upon it. You fear failure so much that you hesitate to try new things. 

That, all of that, I understand, and because you are so much like me in this respect I push myself outside of my own comfort zone so that I won't be a hypocrite when I ask you to push out of yours. 

You were always the one clinging to my pant leg as a little girl. Your arms were always wrapped firmly around me. Your hand reaching up at mine even before I asked. You even did that a few weeks ago, you know, grabbing my hand as we walked into your school. You reminded me in that moment that although you're almost as tall as I am now, you're still so much my little girl.

You hang on. You stick out your toes into the water hesitating, pausing, pulling back. 

When you finally let go, though, it is magnificent to see. 

It always has been.

Your tiny victories have never been tiny ones.

You're the most deliberate of my children, the planner. You're the one who makes me laugh the most, makes me frustrated the most. You make so many of my emotions bigger, grander. 

I stare at you sometimes wondering what is going on in that blonde head of yours. Whatever it is, it has to be fascinating. 

You are my most interesting child and the one I least understand. 

For a long time I struggled with that part of our relationship. I felt like I was failing you because I didn't understand you. Now I know that when I least understand you, all I need to do is sit you down and look into your eyes and tell you that I love you and that I'm trying. I really am. 

I know that I can tell you that I'll never stop trying to understand you. I know that I can tell you that when I struggle with the things you do, sometimes I just need to lean more heavily on your father, because chances are that he knows exactly what I don't.

I love you, sweet girl. You've grown up so much this past year. 

Just remember that when life tells you that you are supposed to be growing up and getting older, if you need to reach out, my hand will always be there. Stay little as often and as long as you need. 

Happy Birthday. 

Love, 
Mom

Thursday, February 19, 2015

#1000 Speak - #1000Voices of Compassion

"You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view...Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it."

~ Atticus Finch, To Kill a Mockingbird

Of all the quotes in this, my most favorite book of all time, this one speaks to me in the manner of greatest significance.

I've written before about compassion, about how it is sorely lacking in our society, about how it is absolutely imperative that we teach it to children, that we foster and encourage it. I've written about how desperately we all need it, how much we seem to have lost a basic connection with it and with each other. It's a topic near and dear to my heart.

A while back now, a movement began within the blogging community to write about compassion. To take one day from our collective lives and focus on this subject instead of all the other things we all write about.

Tomorrow is that day.

The original goal was to get 1,000 writers together. I believe we're over that number now. The home of the movement can be found here, along with the links to the other pieces written. Check back over the next few days as more are submitted.


As a writer, some of the pieces I have been the most personally attacked for were the ones where I asked others to be considerate of one another. Where I attempted to explain that none of us truly knows the journey of someone else. Where I asked for people to reserve judgment, to refrain from reacting emotionally to all the trials and tribulations, to understand that though we may be affected by the choices of other people, we are almost never the reason for those choices, to choose to be compassionate even when it is difficult.

I've written about this most frequently in the context of addiction and mental illness, though there is an argument to be made that those two aren't nearly as distinct as most people believe them to be. I firmly believe they are interconnected intimately, and the evidence increasingly suggests this truth.

Compassion demands that we try to do what Atticus Finch asked of us, that we try to imagine what the world looks like through the eyes of another person.

It is easier to judge. It is easier to assume that people intend to hurt themselves, to hurt others, to hurt us. It's easier because in this society we like to point fingers. We like to assign blame. We like a hard delineation between rightness and wrongness.

Seeing people as fallible, as human, as struggling with their own battles, it makes teasing out those distinctions impossible.

Rightness and wrongness fade away when we begin to embrace the human experience of another person, when we can begin to understand where they come from, what their motivations are, why they are the way they are and why they do the things they do.

None of us truly ever knows what another person has been through.

We can't know.

What we can do, though, is try to understand.

I'm going to ask you all to try.

Try to imagine what led someone to alcohol, to drugs, to reckless behaviors. Try to imagine what it might be like to overcome an addiction. Try to understand what drives a child to lash out physically at another. Try to understand why family members need to distance themselves from one another. Try to imagine the struggle of the single parents, of those who have lost their spouses, of those who've been left by the person they depended on most. Try to imagine what hunger is like, what it means to not know where your next meal is coming from or if you'll be able to feed your children. Try to imagine what it is like to live with a terminal diagnosis or a chronic life changing one. Try to imagine what it's like to suffer from an invisible disease or ailment, one that no one can see but affects every aspect of life. Try to imagine what it is like to struggle to read. Try to imagine what the weight of anxiety feels like upon your shoulders, when depression holds on tight and won't let go.Try to imagine what it is like to suffer great losses. Try to imagine what it feels like to be truly alone.

Try.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the I forgot what day it was edition

Waves.

I seem patently incapable of getting this post written on Tuesday these days. In fact, I actually forgot that yesterday was even Tuesday because of the holiday on Monday. Maybe by Friday of this week, I'll know what day it is. Maybe.

Anyway, off we go.


Stomach Viruses and Spring Cleaning
I am in a mood to clean, and not just the regular cleaning that I try to keep up with in a house of seven people. I want to clllllllllean all the things.

My family tends to cringe when I get like this because they know what it means - that I'm going to start demanding that they go through the piles of stuff and make decisions about what is worth keeping and what isn't and then they will go through 14 levels of grief and denial because they all like their stuff.

I can't handle clutter. It makes me crazy.

They, on the other hand, love the clutter. This is not trash is the battlecry of my people. And also of hoarders. So there's that.

I haven't been able to get that much done, which just frustrates me more. Between a super demanding baby and a stomach virus slowly making its way through the house, I'm just trying to keep up.

I am, however, intent on at least attempting to keep up with the 40 days/40 bags challenge like I did last year. I LOVE to get rid of stuff, and one bag a day is a totally reasonable goal. I'll be posting reminders every day on my Facebook page.

An Inconvenient Winter
So we haven't really had winter here this year. It happens. Some years we have unbearable cold. Some years we get months on end of miserable wind. Some years we get a ton of snow. Some years we get balmy days with only an occasional storm.

It's that last kind of year.

The thing that happens that is super annoying on years like this one is that the storms are super rare, so much so that we get used to not having to deal with snow. And then when it does actually snow, it usually happens on the worst possible day. Like the storm in the forecast for this weekend, in fact.

Hardly any snow for months, and now we're looking at potentially a foot of snow on Saturday - the day The Oldest has to be an hour and a half south of here for a drumline competition.

Awesome.

The good (?) news is that it's Colorado, where no weather forecast can be relied on and everything can change in 15 minutes.

Cindy Crawford's Real Body
By now, you've probably seen the picture, and if you haven't, you can see it here (or pretty much anywhere on the internet for that matter).

The picture was initially said to be leaked from a piece about to run in Marie Claire magazine about un-retouched photos. Which seemed like an awesome story for the mag to run. It just wasn't true.

It was a photo leaked from a shoot a few years ago, one that was sent out into the interwebs without Crawford's consent or permission, and wasn't at all part of a shoot intended to show the world what her body looks like pre-photoshop.

Much has been said about how amazing she looks in the shot, which is true. She's a very beautiful woman, and the picture is one showing breathtaking ownership of her womanhood.

What it isn't, though, is what everyone seems to want it to be.

It isn't something we should be applauding her for per se for the simple fact that she didn't release it.

The fact that her flaws are all there for the world to see, the things that most of us have in real life, the fact that they all make us feel better about ourselves....is that something we should be thanking her for? Honestly?

I don't think so.

Think about what that sounds like...hey, thanks for having cellulite and flabby skin so we can feel better about ourselves too. 

Not such a positive message, is it?

Here's the thing. It's not her job to make us feel better about our bodies. It's not her job to try and undo the photoshopping of images we are shown. It's not.

At some point, as women, we've got to start understanding that we can feel confident and secure about ourselves without relying on the imperfections of others to do it.

We're all beautiful. Period.

Network Television
These days there are so few actual television shows aired and it seems like half of them are NCIS or CSI related. The airwaves are saturated with reality shows, each one a little more disgusting than the last. New shows are always the hardest to predict because the networks are so fickle about them.

It appears that Constantine will soon be added to a long and growing list of shows I've loved that were canceled in that unpredictable first season.

Sigh.

It's dark and broody and mysterious and disturbing...all good things.

And it is also probably dead in the water.

At least Scorpion and The Flash were renewed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Epiphanies and Exorcisms (in other words, why I write...)

I'm a writer. I put myself out there, some people say too much.

I've had a few epiphanies about myself in the recent days, one of which pertains to this issue directly. It's a simple reason, actually, but a sad one too.

I tell the world so much about my life because I don't have my parents here to share it with anymore. I can't pick up the phone and tell them about whatever the baby just did or the kids said. I can't tell them about our tiny victories and daily struggles.

My parents are gone.

So I tell you all instead.

It wasn't exactly a comforting thing to realize, but it made a whole lot of sense.

Incidentally, I don't say this to elicit sympathy in a woe-is-me type of way at all (regardless of what some people may assume about me). I'm telling you because I truly just recently realized this, and because it explains a little bit of why I am the way I am. I like understanding things like this about myself.

Anyhow, I've been thinking about writing a lot lately, about why I do it and about what it means in the overall scheme of life. I've been thinking about it far more than I've been doing it, obviously, since I've hardly published anything lately. I have more than a few posts that I've started, then abandoned. They're all sitting in my drafts folder, staring at me, seeming to ask me if I'm ever going to finish them.

Truth is, I just don't know.

I've told you all so much about myself, about my family, and yet in the same time I've revealed almost nothing. It's tricky, this writing lifestyle. I share, and some believe I share it all, but I know that there is so much that I keep close.

So, so much.

As my older kids get older, I share less and less about them. Intentionally.

There's an abundance of material to write about when it comes to parenting teenagers, no doubt...but there comes a point in their lives when their stories are theirs to tell, not mine anymore. As a parent, I feel like I have to respect that. My job as a protector has to be more important than my job as a writer.

I was talking to a friend, another writer, about all this recently. About how, as a writer, there is this virtually constant struggle in our minds about our reasons and motivations for what we do. About how easy it is to get sucked into the egotistical world of writing simply for pageviews.

I've had posts go viral.

It's not all it's cracked up to be. I promise.

For as much as the exposure is amazing and ego feeding, it carries a cost too, the greatest of which is that it opens you up to unyielding criticism from people who've never read anything else you've ever written, will never read another thing you write, and feel justified in hating you for whatever your words are that threatened them in whatever way they threatened.

For the most part, it's just not worth all the aggravation.

As writers, we want to be read. We want a connection with people who read our words.

Viral posts don't really accomplish any of those things, at least not in the way we think they should.

The draw of virality is alluring, but once you've been there, you don't necessarily want to go back any time soon.

Most of what I write never goes viral. Most of what I write is read only by the most dedicated of my fans. Most of what I write anymore is written for reasons unrelated to any desire for publicity, written because I just need to write it for myself.

Which is why I started writing in the first place all those years ago. For me.

It's funny, because the posts where I am the most vulnerable, the ones where I admit the things that are difficult, where I write about the hard stuff in my world...they bring their own set of problems.

I usually get people messaging me, asking if I am okay. I have friends or family ask me questions. I even (thankfully only occasionally) have people leave me horrible anonymous comments questioning if I am fit to parent in whatever condition they believe me to be in.

^^^those suck by the way....seriously, don't do that to people.

Here's the thing that far too many people who aren't writers baring their souls to the universe don't always understand...

When we write these deeply personal posts, it's as if we are exorcising the demons in a way. Once the words are outside the confines of my head, they are less burdensome. Once I admit what is going on, it bothers me less. Once I let it go, it can't hurt me nearly as much anymore.

I truly write to stay sane, at least marginally so.

There's therapy here.

It's not the most conventional type of therapy. I realize that. I'm not the most conventional person, either.

What I am, though, is real.

No pretense here. No facades. I don't sugarcoat things and I don't do manufactured drama.

If that hasn't scared you away yet, thanks for staying.


Coffee's on.

Pull up a chair. xo

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Love in the time of social media

The internet is an ugly, superficial, selfish place.

It's also a beautiful one.

All at the same time.

With Valentine's Day before us, we wait for the deluge of posts about love.

The ones where people claim to have it all figured out.

The ones where people tell us how blessed they are.

The ones where people gush about how amazing their lives are.

The ones where people only talk about the wonderful pieces.

The sappy ones that portray love as something that is always perfect and beautiful, the Pinterest version of life, the one we all know never comes out like they say it will, the one that is always a lot more time consuming and messy than the pictures say it is supposed to be.

Life is messy. Love is even more so.

Those posts only ever show a part of the story. Social media, it's a deceiver if ever there was one.

I wrote a little bit about that last year, which you can read here if you're so inclined.

I used to believe in happily ever after. I used to believe in soul mates. I used to believe in a lot of the silly things that our society tells us are real and true.

And then I lived long enough to learn how just little I knew.

Now, I know that love is complicated, far more than the simple images online ever demonstrate. I know that real love isn't real until it's held up to the fire a few times. I know that until it's been tested, really tested, you have no idea if it will last. I know what it's like to fall in love and to choose to be in love and I know that those things aren't the same at all.

And I know that it's possible to fall back in love with someone endlessly in the small hours of the morning as you catch them gazing at the last child you'll ever have created together. I know that's possible because it happens almost every day.

Happy Valentine's Day, Hive.

May your day be filled with complicated, ugly, messy, real love.

If it happens to include chocolate, even better.

p.s. the flowers will be on sale tomorrow.


Friday, February 13, 2015

Things That Piss Me Off Friday - the yeah, it's late edition...

Hi.

This is late. I know. I was just going to skip TTPMOT this week because the anniversary of my father's death happened to fall on Tuesday this week, but then so many things have happened that I need to rage about a little bit. So here we are. On Friday. The 13th.


Dun dun dun.

Off we go.

Welcome back to the 1950s (or some other disturbing time before that)
When it was just a very Christian woman writing about how she wasn't going to wear leggings anymore because she didn't want to stir up the sexy time feelings in men, I stepped back from all the online arguing and scrolled on by.

Look. If you want to wear teeny booty shorts or you want to wear turtlenecks and plaid jumpers that go all the way to your ankles, I don't give a shit.

Truly. I don't care what your reasons are, I don't care what your belief systems are that dictate why you are wearing whatever it is that you deem appropriate. I don't.

Wear whatever you want. Write whatever blog posts you want about it. I don't care.

I think it's hella presumptuous to imply that men may not be able to contain their hormones around you in spandex, not to mention a vast insult to men in general. I think it's dangerous to imply that women should somehow be held responsible for how their attire makes other people feel/act/respond.

I didn't get involved in the debates for a few reasons, not the least of which is that as far as I can tell, the most recent leggings are spandex sexy tools of satan post was really only written from one writer's perspective about what she was doing. She wasn't telling the rest of the world to do anything. She wasn't.

And, again, I don't care.

What I totally give a shit about, though, is all the other stuff related to leggings and yoga pants going on. I'm so far beyond frustrated about the public school dress codes, about how certain girls are called out and others aren't, about how adults have no qualms teaching adolescent girls that their bodies are distracting, about how there is this assumption that boys cannot be taught to respect girls, about all of it. It makes me sick.

What I also totally give a shit about is the fact that there is actually an elected representative trying to ban yoga pants in public. His attempts failed because the whole idea is asinine, but the fact that there are people out there who honestly believe that they can dictate to women what is and is not appropriate attire indicates that there is something really wrong with our society.

Speaking of which...
The Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal on a sex discrimination case this week where a woman was forced out of a job over breastfeeding.

The reason?

(and no, I'm totally not making this shit up)

Men can lactate.

Since men can lactate, it's not sex discrimination.

Oh thank goodness. I guess this means Mr. Hive can finally help out with those 2a.m. feedings.

For fucks sake.

This is the craziest thing I've read in a long time. Yes, men are mammals. Yes, men are technically half female. Yes, men have nipples and some mammary tissue. Yes, it's theoretically possible for men to lactate.

Just because something may be remotely possible doesn't mean that it actually fucking happens.

I just can't even.

What happened to the news?
A lot has been said about Brian Williams in the past week, about his embellishment of stories, his insertion of personal bits into the news, about misremembering things, whatever that is.

Something different than lying, we're supposed to believe.

The news hasn't been the news in such a long time that his suspension shouldn't really come as a surprise to anyone who has been paying attention.

The news has been packaged and delivered as entertainment, which it isn't supposed to be.

We need people to report facts, not anecdotes.

We need people to ask questions, not display biases.

I'm disappointed, but not shocked.

We need to care less about the personality sitting behind the desk and more about their integrity.

What irritates me the most about the entire situation is that Williams will be held over the fire for this, but the people who have lied to the American public over much greater things will likely never be held accountable. His lies, as egregious as they were, didn't send us to war, didn't endanger the lives of our soldiers, didn't cost billions of dollars. His lies fed his ego and his pocketbook, padded the ratings of his employer.

His career is effectively over. Many people believe that the suspension and likely firing are an overreaction, but I don't. We need journalists to take their jobs seriously and to hold truth above all else.

And we, the public, need to demand it.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The stories that I keep...

Ask any writer and they'll tell you with the utmost sincerity that for every story told, there is at least one left untold. Some of them may be written for our eyes only, scribbled down somewhere secret and sacred. Some of them may reside only within the confines of our minds, but they exist nevertheless.

With time, there is a distinct possibility that some of my untold stories may find their way to some form of publishing, whether it is here in this format or in a book. I can't say with any degree of certainty what the future holds for me, and if I'm being completely honest, I stopped trying to guess.

I was a terrible guesser, anyhow.

If you'd have told me that on this day, my 38th birthday, I'd be staring out the window, listening to the rhythmic tick of a baby swing holding my fifth child and pecking away at a keyboard, I'd have laughed at the ridiculousness of that prediction.

I never saw myself where I am now, never in my wildest dreams.

It wasn't even until this very day one year ago that I knew that fifth child would be with me. I found out on the evening of my birthday that I was pregnant, a by-product of my patent inability to be patient and wait.

I assure you that the vast majority of pregnancy tests ever purchased in this country are done so by women using them days before they are even supposed to be accurate. Then again and again and again.

It would be hard to ever top that birthday gift, especially considering it wasn't one that I ever thought I would receive.

For what seemed like the longest time, I couldn't tell that story. I had to take it and keep it, this most amazing birthday gift. I can share it now, though.

He's a hand-holder. Even in his sleep.
This past year has been one of healing for me, one of reflection. Though there have certainly been times that I have struggled, that struggle hasn't been as looming or as constant as it has been in the past. I know in my head and in my heart that a big part of the reason why those monsters I battle aren't winning, why they are smaller and less intimidating these days, is this. Writing.

I've said before that it saved me, and I'm not being even a little bit facetious.

It has quite literally kept me sane.

So, today, I begin another year. Another rotation around the sun for me.

I'll probably pick up a few more wrinkles this year. I'll gain some more gray hair, the ones habitually and methodically pointed out by my children. They are so honest, aren't they?

I've learned though, that aging is something best done with gratitude. For every day that I am here, I am grateful. For every moment of frustration, I do my very best to breathe deep and remember that this too, whatever this is right now, shall pass.

Because it always passes.

These past few years have taught me that lesson more than any other. Repeatedly.

No matter how horrible things may be, they will never be forever. 

I can weather the storms, I can walk through the unrelenting dark tunnel, I can. I can because I have.

And I'm here to celebrate another year, surrounded by my family, the one that is finally complete.

This birthday is one that I can truly say is happy.

Thank you for reading. I still have a lot of stories to tell. I hope you'll stick around. xo

Thursday, February 5, 2015

50 Shades of Abuse

Sorry to have to do this, but it needs to be done.

The movie is set to be released just before Valentine's Day, and I am certain that it will be a box office smash hit. I already have several friends planning to see it the night it opens, either as a date with their significant other or with a group of friends.

Universal Pictures
Which is fine.

Go. See it if you want.

Just don't do it blindly.

I'll probably end up seeing it at some point purely so that I can fully critique it, but not while it is in the theaters. I don't want to be throwing money at this.

I read the first book out of curiosity. I had to see what this story was that so many people were talking excitedly about, that women couldn't wait to download onto their e-readers.

I was vastly underwhelmed. Shortly after I finished it (which was a chore because of how poorly it was written), I wrote a review of it. You can read it here if you haven't already. Just be warned that it does include several spoilers about the book, as will the rest of this post. Don't go reading further and then try to blame me for spoiling something. That's on you, my friends.

Since I read the book and wrote my preliminary response to it, I've had a lot of time to think about it. Every time a commercial for the movie runs on television, my husband either cringes or laughs because he knows that it is going to get me all riled up again.

The book isn't just preposterous and poorly written, it's dangerous.

There are a few aspects of the movie specifically that I take issue with, though most of my problems with it stem directly from the book, not just the adaptation to the screen.

One notable scene missing from the film that stood out for just about everyone who read the book is the tampon scene. The tampon scene?!?! Yes, the tampon scene.

Again, if you haven't read it....well....that's not my fault.

In the book, Ana tells Christian that she is on her period, assuming that it will mean he won't demand that they have sex that day. Instead, he walks up behind her, reaches around, removes her tampon and begins to have sex with her.

I'm not sure what the officially on the record reason is that the scene wasn't included in the movie, but I'd assume it has something to do with the fact that it's so objectionable and so clearly across the line of what the audience could stomach. Either that, or a bloody tampon would just be too icky for a big screen.

And you know, we get more grossed out by an icky tampon than we do by coerced sex. 

Head:Wall.

That's my major issue with the story, by the way. It's being sold as a love story, as some sexy tale of seduction. It claims to be an introduction to the BDSM world. It's not anything of that sort at all. It's really about a stalker and an abuser.

Domestic violence advocacy groups are urging a boycott of the movie.

There are instances, so many instances throughout the book, of times when Ana does not consent to what is happening between them. The most blatant is the scene where he beats her, then convinces her that it was something that he needed to do.

He tells her she can't leave him because he will find her. 

He dictates to her that she needs to take birth control.

He pushes her into doing things she isn't comfortable with.

Does any of that sound romantic?

The BDSM community in particular is troubled by the book, by its vast popularity, by what people believe to be true about the practice of dominance.

Underlying every interaction in a BDSM relationship is one thing and one thing alone - consent.

With adequate consent, nothing is off limits. Fantasies can be explored, envelopes pushed, absolutely.

Without that consent, you don't have a dominant and a submissive, you have an abuser and an abused.

Oh, but it's okay because he's rich and takes care of her.

Oh, but it's okay because they supposedly fall in love.

Oh, but it's okay because she ends up going along with it.

No. No it's not.

This website has done an amazing job of showing just how messed up the book is with simple imagery and text directly from the story. I encourage you to check it out.

I don't care if he's devastatingly handsome or if he owns a jet, sexual abuse isn't sexy.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Things That Piss Me Off Tuesday - the leave Bruce alone edition

I'm nervous and unsettled and not generally in a great frame of mind right at the moment, so forgive me if I seem a little edgier than normal.

It's because I am.

This time of year tends to have that effect of me anyway, but there's other stuff going on at the moment that isn't helping.

Anyhow, you're not here for that story, you're here for the issues of the week...so let's get to it.


The Internets
The internet is pissing me off more than a little bit right now, for a few reasons. The one that comes to mind the most frequently though is the fact that it gives people this ability to essentially be anonymous assholes to one another. Everyone gets so upset these days about everything, and when there isn't something truly worth arguing about, people will grasp at the most insignificant straws just to start a fight.

Seriously, I've seen people arguing about some post that was written claiming that the kind of wine you drink indicates what type of woman you are.

For the love.

Do we really not have anything better to do with our time, people?

How many of us would argue with people we know in real life, face to face, about this shit?

Not many, that much I can promise you.

As an aside, I am more than a little bitter that these posts, the ones filled with baseless assumptions written for the sole purpose of stirring up fights, get all the views that they do. Meanwhile, there are tons of amazing writers out there busting their asses to write really good shit every day that gets ignored.

Way to go, internet. High five.

The Superbowl Commercials
The game really was boring up until the last minute. The commercials were different this year than they usually are. Darker, more somber, more punches in the gut.

There were more than a few commercials celebrating fatherhood, which is great. Truly. They were well done and something that we need more of - positive images about the men in our lives and the impact they make on society.

Unless your father is dead...then they are just another reminder of that....a reminder that aired every time a television time out was taken.

Then there was the McDonald's one, where they are trying to get people to spread love and joy or whatever instead of paying for their food. I may have screamed at the television during the one where the cashier tells the customer to call his mom. What if your mom is dead, I yelled????  Grrrr.

People are all up in arms about the Nationwide commercial where the kid laments all the things he will miss doing growing up because he died. It was a pretty brutal slap in the face, and something that it seems everyone has a strong opinion about. I'll try to summarize my feelings on that one as briefly as possible.

- Complete triggerfest for anyone who has lost a child.
- Most of the accidents children die from are car accidents and gun related, neither of which were addressed in the commercial.
- I get that it was a good opportunity to reach a lot of people and hopefully get parents to be more conscious about dangers in the home, and if it saves one child, it was worth doing.
- My kid was watching and has anxiety anyway, now she has all kinds of other stuff to worry about.

The Always commercial has people all riled up too. I dug the general message, though I truly wish it wasn't in a feminine hygiene products ad, but it's one of those situations where maybe if everyone stopped talking about girls not being afraid to "throw like a girl or run like a girl", the girls we are raising today wouldn't have any level of awareness that it's even something they are supposed to be offended about. The wake of the commercial is more noteworthy, because the meninist movement has decided to bash the ad viciously, starting their own #likeaboy hashtag.

Look, feminism is a movement about equality. No more, no less. How it has come to be perceived by some groups of people is just flat wrong. If equality threatens you, you have bigger issues. When referring to how men or boys do everyday things is considered an insult, we'll talk.

Speaking of the Superbowl...
Missy Elliott ruled the halftime show. Seriously. Kicked its ass. I may have had a fangirl moment when the first notes started in. Possibly. I'm not a huge Katy Perry fan and I really wish that Lenny had been more than just a prop during "I Kissed A Girl". That man. Oh, that man.


To all the kids out there who don't know who Missy is, I weep for your generation.


Leave Bruce alone 
Is Bruce transitioning? What do we know?

For real, people, leave the man alone. This journey belongs to him and him alone. If he is transitioning, then the reasons are by definition legitimate ones, and they aren't ours to know or understand. He doesn't need to justify anything to anyone, and if and when the time comes that Bruce announces anything publicly, I will support her.

p.s. this whole male/female thing is so not an either/or issue. 

People are just people, and maybe we should respect that. Because humanity.

I sincerely hope that the show being made, if it is about this speculated path, is respectful not just of Bruce, but of everyone in the trans community.

There are many who claim that Bruce is inviting all this criticism by living in the public eye, by going through this process publicly, and that making it into a show means that the situation is fair game for mockery.

No.

No it is not.

Bruce is in a unique position here because of pre-existing fame to document something affecting many people every single day. I can only hope that the world stops judging and questioning and mocking long enough to learn. Kindness and compassion, folks, sprinkle that shit everywhere.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Anniversary Musings of a Distracted Dinosaur

As of this morning, I've officially begun my seventh year of writing.

Today marks my sixth anniversary. Blogiversary, if you will.

Six years.

It simultaneously seems impossible that I've been doing it for that length of time and more real than anything else I've ever known to be true.

This is who I am, and yet it is something I have spent almost no time on of late.

I'm distracted, but in the best way possible.

I long ago gave up rushing the early moments of my children's lives, urging the next stage and milestone. I have learned that they grow up so fast, that they are little for such a brief time, that I have to linger here for as long as they will allow me to.

And so I am.

There are moments that I want to retreat somewhere alone and let the thoughts out of my head, but my reality isn't compliant with that at this time, and truthfully I am accepting of this place.

Welcoming of it, really.

I never thought I would be here again. I was sure I wouldn't, actually, if I am being completely honest.

I was wrong.

Then again, I've been wrong about a lot of things in my lifetime, and that wrongness has so often urged the words I've written here. The lessons I've learned, the things I thought I knew and proved to be wholly ignorant about, they are the stories I've tried to tell more than any other.

This life is a journey, one where we are constantly learning and evolving and reassessing everything we think we already know.

Six years ago, I started this blog as a different person entirely.

I hardly even recognize her, though her face bears a good deal of resemblance to mine now.

I thought I had a story to tell then. In truth, the majority of what I wrote was mindless, letters strung together just to fill a page. I thought I'd learned so much about life, about loss, about hope and fear, about forgiveness and trust.

I'd learned so very little and had so many lessons waiting for me.

I had no appreciation for that at the time, of course, because we can never know what we haven't yet learned.

In those six years, I've seen things I never imagined I would. Lost people, lost relationships, lost friends, lost family. I've had my heart broken more than a few times by more than a few people. I've lost my own way, traveled down the darkest path I've yet walked, then emerged from that tunnel in part because of this.

Because of writing.

It saved me.

More than once.

There are not many bloggers out there who do this for as long as I have. I joke that I'm a dinosaur because I've been at it for so many years, stubbornly refusing to give up this thing that so often keeps me sane.

I write not because I want to, but because I have to.

And sometimes I don't write for the very same reason. I've learned that too.

Those are just two of the greatest lessons I've learned in these six years.

I keep saying that I want to work on my books, the ones that I've outlined, the ones that are halfway finished, the ones I am collaborating with other writers on. The road to hell is paved with good intentions, they say.

I'll get there. Eventually.

Just like I'll get back to writing here more consistently. Eventually.

For now, though, I am content to be living this phase of my life that I believed was behind me.

And content is a really, really good place to be.

Thank you all for your love and support, for your friendship and your kindness, for your loyalty and your help, for your love and concern. Thank you for reading the words that I write, for taking what I put out there into the universe and hanging on to it, even if only for a moment. Thank you for joining me.

Thank you.

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