Sunday, August 31, 2014

There Can Be Pleasure Without Guilt

Chuck Klosterman has taken a hard stance on the phrase “guilty pleasures” calling it counterproductive to feel the need to be embarrassed by something you love. If, in fact, you watch cheesy 80s movies like Sixteen Candles and gorge on candy every time you feel awful like I do, according to his logic, you should never feel guilty about doing so because you did, by all accounts, enjoy yourself.

I have come to the conclusion over the last few years that Klosterman, though entertaining, is pretty fucking pretentious and full of shit.

Is it really so unbelievable that a person can recognize how terrible something is yet love it anyway? Take the Rocky franchise, for example. The acting is terrible. The plots are, well, terrible after the first one and basically just a repeat storyline that just keeps happening over and over again. But, I still watched them all back to back over the last week. Somewhere, some part of me knows how fucking godawful these movies are in terms of their artistic value but I can’t help myself. They HAVE to be watched.

As a feminist, I know with every fiber of my being that music that objectifies women is inherently a bad thing and contributes directly to certain aspects of social inequality between genders (normalizing negative attitudes), but I still know all the lyrics (almost) to Dr. Dre’s The Chronic 2001. Even the song about not making a ho a housewife. That one. yeah. And, yes, it’s a bit fucking embarrassing that at times I still listen to it.

So, by definition, if I feel guilty for something that I simultaneously enjoy, does that not make it a guilty pleasure? I’d have to say so and that maybe, Klosterman, King of the Hipsters, just likes bucking mainstream trends enough to make an asinine comment about something that everyone experiences but that, in his pretentiousness, he thinks he can rise above and apply some sort of new logic-defying spin on.

Chuck, it’s okay, man. Let us have our guilty pleasures. We kind of like that phrase. Deal.

But, that leads me to another question. What happens when our feelings of guilt about something we want or something we want to enjoy gets in the way of pleasure? I think that’s the problem with women and orgasms.

According to meta-analyses of 80 years worth of research on the subject, only about a quarter of women consistently have orgasms during vaginal intercourse. One fourth. That’s all. About half of women have orgasms some of the time. 20 percent or so have orgasms never or rarely during sex. 20 whole fucking percent (no pun intended). And 5% never have orgasms period. 

It doesn’t matter the size of the man’s penis, how attracted the woman is, the relationship the two have, or what feelings she has for him…these stats still apply across the board when these factors are controlled for.

My brain can’t even begin to comprehend what life would be like for the rest of the world if I couldn’t have orgasms. There is no known apocalyptic scenario which could compare to the sheer amount of destruction and rage that would rain down on this place if I didn’t have the ability to achieve that sweet, sweet release in multiples during sex or on my own. That’s just the way it is.

The difference between the small 25% of women who do have regular orgasms is in the brain.

There’s a major nerve running from the brain to the cervix connecting female sexuality directly to brain activity. This “superhighway” of nerves is unique to each woman and changes what each individual is stimulated by…but the thing that remains the same is that the brain is directly related to the way a woman experiences sex. For men, it’s quite a bit more simplistic. There is a similar grid of nerves in the pelvis that creates a web of pleasure that circulates the penis. No brain to dick direct connection.

There have been many theories based on such statistics and the findings about female sexual anatomy. Women need more mental stimulation, she needs more foreplay, she needs to be touched, she needs clitoral stimulation, she needs this, she needs that. We’re not all the fucking same, okay? The science tells you that. It’s right there in black and white—we each have our own maze of nerve connections that is different for every women. We don’t have the same wants and needs and desires. Every female expressive person doesn’t suddenly became one big blog of Stay Puft vaginas called SHE that can all be tickled the same damn way just because some “professional” wants to write a shitty little article for The Huffington Post.

The problem, to me, runs deeper than figuring out what women want, and I suspect it’s inherently cultural.

See, when we live in a society where women’s sexuality is demonized, where women live by this double
standard where they are prudes for not fucking and sluts when they do fuck, where women are called sluts for sleeping with a man while the man is awarded with status and praise, the brain to vagina connection is warped, distorted, severed for some apparently… Social norms dictate that women are not supposed to enjoy sex. It’s a running gag in sitcoms and movies—wives don’t enjoy sex; they don’t have sex. It’s a common joke on the Internet. Our entire belief system has put so much pressure on women to live by this strange, morbid way of thinking that says we’re obligated to have sex but we’re sluts when we do.

Is it no wonder so many of us have issues with having sex? How is a person supposed to get over that mental roadblock that tells them they aren't supposed to enjoy what she's doing because it's "naughty" or "dirty" or "slutty?"

It’s a cultural mindset which is not going to phase itself out anytime soon, but it starts with ourselves. By “ourselves” I mean with women, but in the same grain, it is with all our partners and our friends and everyone reading this blog. The idea that a woman, to put it bluntly, a woman who loves to fuck is simply that—a woman who unabashedly loves sex (or making love if that’s your thing). There’s nothing wrong with that no matter how much society demonizes and victim blames and backs us into a corner where we are “supposed” to and obligated to give ourselves but not supposed to love it, to really feel ourselves let go and let our toes curl, to nurture our fantasies.

There’s nothing wrong with making love to your partner.

There’s nothing wrong with a one night stand as long as you’re safe.

There’s nothing wrong with having a friend with benefits and loving every minute you spend naked and sweaty together.

There is absolutely no guilt at all that should be inherently tied to sex for women. I would hope that every woman has the chance in her lifetime to navigate her own labyrinth of sexuality and discover every little nuance of herself…to find that direct connection to the brain and figure out how to make that superhighway light up over and over and over again (4 or 5 times in 15 minutes is a great goal. trust me).

I love Ash over More Than Cheese and Beer for putting up with the crazy way I interpret these prompts some week. Who knew I'd be talking about the female orgasm this week? I didn't until I sat down and the words came (no pun intended). Thanks for reading and I hope you'll read the rest of the link ups today.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Problem with Denial

In the wake of Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri and subsequent protests demanding answers for the death of the unarmed teen, it is painfully obvious that much of America is still in denial about systemic racism in this country, the role that racism plays in societal dynamics, and how much damage is done by that denial.

I have, like everyone else, had Facebook and Twitter feeds that have been so often full of opinions on the matter of Michael Brown’s death. Many people feel it was unwarranted and have made solid judgments about the force used by this particular police officer. Many have felt the need to scorn the reactions (labeled riots and looting) by some community members (a very small segment of the population) afterwards as if being a White person in Georgia or Pennsylvania or Oregon suddenly gives us direct insight into what it’s like to be a minority in a place like Ferguson. Reading a few news articles is the equivalent of miraculously pulling an Eddie Murphy and Dan Akroyd style Trading Places bit, right? And then there are still others who have spoken out against “black culture, fatherless homes in the black community, erosion of the family, thug culture” or have outright blamed Micheal Brown from making conjectures about his behavior that day to sharing pictures of the wrong kid to prove a point to talking about Brown’s alleged marijuana use as if any of these somehow excuses what Officer Darren Wilson did that fateful afternoon of August 9, 2014.

No matter what your stance on the death of Michael Brown, the thing that all these talking points and opinions have in common is the blatant skirting of the issue of systemic racism and how that is so intertwined with this issue that there is no way to separate the two.

Nearly every time I mention the fact that systemic racism exists and allows a position of privilege for White people, I get told by someone at some point that he or she will absolutely not apologize for being White and that it has been hundreds of years since slavery existed so people should just get over it by now instead of expecting White people to keep on apologizing for things they didn’t personally do.

Everything about this is wrong. Every. Single. Thing.

I made a Facebook status recently about the whole White apology thing that I’d like to reshare here. No one is asking for any White person to apologize for being born White just like Feminists aren’t asking for men to apologize for having been born with dicks. If you were in a cafeteria and noticed that the person next to you received 25% less food for the same price you paid and that everyone in the room that looked different than you, a small group, had the same problem, no one would ask you to stand up and apologize for what you were given. You aren’t in control of that. But, it would be fucking nice if you asked management, “why does this keep happening?” By showing your solidarity and admitting that you see the same issues as the people claiming that they have less than you, you actually bring the problem to light so that it can be fixed. When you represent the majority group, when most people in positions of power look like you, it takes your voice and your input to help level the playing field for all human beings.

To deny the existence of systemic racism when you’re in the dominant group keeps disparities happening and stalls progress.

Post-racial America isn’t post racial. In the past several years, the country cannot go even a few months without a black male being shot, erroneously, by police. That’s not to say that it is only black males. It’s not. Women of all races are getting raped by police and the poor are repetitively targeted. But the chances that you’ll be shot by police or even arrested for ACTUALLY committing a crime when you’re a financially sound White male are very slim. Meanwhile, Black guys are shot for looking at air rifles TO BUY in Wal-Mart. They’re stopped on the street and frisked for being Black because racial profiling continues to be allowed and continues to be considered good policy. In fact, in NYC where minorities (combined) make up around half the population, those minorities make up 80% of the stops police make. Of all the frisk searches conducted during these stops, only 8% happen to Whites. Check out this study by the ACLU, for example, that shows Black people are more than 3 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana even though both Whites and Blacks use the substance at approximately the same rate. The numbers are out there. It may be easier to ignore them, but the facts are painfully clear when you take the time to research them.

When it comes to looking at the numbers in black and white, no pun intended, of who police are killing more often, it is almost impossible to determine. The FBI crime statistics are reported on a voluntary basis and are not examined in any way. There’s no way to incorporate data for police shootings that aren’t deemed “justifiable” homicides in which the police officer was determined to have used an appropriate amount of force, and the numbers of justifiable homicides only concern felons. But, when this data is examined, it shows a telling pattern. When the reasons for shooting a “felon” are less clear, the likelihood of the felon being Black is far disproportional to the Black population. It’s a scary thought…that being Black makes you a target for people who are supposed to serve and protect.

So, regardless of what you believe about the culpability of Michael Brown as we await the results of an investigation on the matter, the real point is this—the situation never would have escalated this far if Michael Brown had been White. Had he been White, the officer in question never would have told him to get the fuck back on the side walk and act with aggression the way Officer Wilson was said to have acted. There never would have been a situation where there was any kind of struggle through the window of that police cruiser. There never would have been a situation where a kid was gun down with his hands up in the middle of the street if he had been White.

The denial so many in this nation have about that is preventing this country from moving forward, and I, for one, am tired of regressing towards Jim Crow days…

And, as with every Sunday, this has been part of Sunday Confessions with More than Cheese and Beer. Check out the other link ups today. I imagine some of them will be far less political than mine. ha. Most of us need a break from it, so be sure to give them a read and check out her Facebook page for anonymous confessions! 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Why Be Resistant to Change?

This one is a guest post by my friend Ryan. He sent me the blog in a letter, and I typed it up to post here. Enjoy!

I'd like you to ask yourself a question--why are human beings resistant to change?

Sometimes we fight tooth and nail to oppose change. Sometimes, though, change can be a beautiful thing.

There are 2 stories that come to mind when I think of change. The first is longer than the second so bare with me. I consider myself a romantic. Yeah, I wear my heart on my sleeve. Some would call me a sucker. I don't care. That's just me. Having flings and all that is fun, but I'd rather share more. When I was in high school, i got a job at a fast food place. The first day on the job, I walk in and when I meet the eyes of another girl who was working there, it was like gut punch. You know, that instant connection. Come to find out we went to the same school and everything. We were both seniors. At the time I already had a girlfriend. I've always been the faithful type of guy. I wouldn't leave her for a girl that I may have had a stronger connection with... Did we flirt? Sure, I'm not going to lie. But, it never led to anything. I ended up not working there very long. We saw each other around school.

Time goes on. I graduate, go into the Air Force, and get out after a couple of months. Long story for another time. When I got back in town, I ended up going to the place that the girl (now woman..Hey we were 18!) from the fast food joint was now working. I see her and BAM, there's that connection again. It never went away. So began the whirlwind romance. I fell for her quick, and everything was the beginning. As time goes by, I ask her to marry me. She says yes. Granted there were people in my life (my mom, sister, etc.) who told me that she was no good for me. I didn't listen because I thought I was in love. She started to become verbally abusive. I let it happen because I thought that she loved me. Why didn't I make that change and just leave?

The change came when I decided to leave her. She got physical and not in a good way. At the time, I had recently coughed up blood due to what may have been cigarettes. She told me that I shouldn't smoke. So, I'm outside at our apartment smoking a cigarette. She notices this, comes outside, and slaps me in the face. I'm stunned because I've never been slapped by a woman. I have never hit a woman nor would I. I was raised to respect women. Anyways, she goes inside, comes back out with a glass of water, and throws it in my face. Seriousy. It wasn't enough that you slapped me?? That was it though. I was done. After she tried to apologize, I accepted it with a straight face, but I was finished. That night when she went to work, I packed my stuff and left. let me tell you it was probably one of the most freeing things that I ever did.

Like I said, long story, but it's crazy that it took me  that long to leave, that it took her getting physically abusive to make the change that needed to be made. It was well worth it.

The second story is more of a personal change that I made. You want to talk about change-how about having the freedom of choice everyday as a free person to then become incarcerated. When you make bad choices, bad things can and will happen. Circumstances place me in incarceration, yet I never realized how my choices affected those who loved me. It was never fully realized until I got my first visit in prison by my parents. When my parents laid it out for me and told me from their perspective how my actions affected them, it hit me hard. I don't cry very often, but damn if that didn't make me break down. They weren't telling me this to hurt me but to help me. It made me realize that I needed to make some changes. I wasn't nor have I ever been a bad person, but it made me look deep and think about what's important.

Let's look at another example. I can't even count how many times I've heard people who say they hate their job. Hell, I've been there. Most people say they can't quit or they won't do this or that. I'd rather work a job that I made less money at until I found something that made me happy. It's all about choices and making that change.

There are so many situations in life where we get comfortable. We like routine. Why? Because we're used to it? That's a crappy excuse. After being incarcerated for a period of time priorities are made clear.. Freedom is life. Some people say they have been meaning to do this or that but don't. Why? Because you're too busy? That's just a crappy an excuse. No matter what the reason, time can be set aside to do anything. It's all about choices and making that change.

I'm not trying to sound like some self-help dude or something like that. Freedom is precious. Make those changes in your life and do something. We live this one life. Yeah, we have to survive, but you can and should live life to the fullest. Accept no substitutes. You would be surprised how sometimes the smallest change can make a world of difference. Humans are resistant to change, but screw that. Open your mind and do it. What are you waiting for?

If you can change your mind, you can change your life.

Sunday Confessions is hosted by More than Cheese and Beer. Check out the other linkups on her blog and anonymous confessions on Facebook!

Life Is Evolution

Since at least the time of Socrates, there are records showing that older generations detest, criticize, and lament the actions and norms and beliefs of the next. It’s a given. It’s going to happen, and I guess it’s a coming of age sign that spans centuries of history.

There are a million memes online about younger generations that are no different than centuries’ worth of old curmudgeons’ quotes about the matter. Socrates himself said:

“Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for their elders and love chatter in place of exercise; they no longer rise when elders enter the room; they contradict their parents, chatter before company; gobble up their food and tyrannize their teachers.”

Which looks remarkably like:


So, it’s really no surprise to me that this same type of judgment is passed on the whole marriage/divorce thing with memes like this: 

It’s a cute quote, I suppose, but it doesn’t take into account the historical context of marriage. It was a business arrangement or at least was more a matter of money, power, and survival than about love. It evolved, eventually, to have a more intimate sentiment, and now, we find ourselves in another time yet again. And, like every generation before it, old people can’t understand that shit changes.

Marriage really didn’t become about anything remotely resembling love until the 20th century. And, it wasn’t until the 1950s that marriage became something that symbolized normalcy and was equated with the ultimate expression of commitment. It still wasn’t necessarily always about love, though. For women, it was almost impossible to survive without marriage and considered neurotic not to marry. It was still, even in the most iconic decades of the century, little more than a means to financially and socially make it in this world. Today, through media depictions of marriage and love, that image has changed into something that symbolizes the greatest act of love imaginable, but it is no longer a type of social contract that literally means forever through better and worse the way it began…it’s not a financial arrangement. It’s not about survival. It’s not business.

The 70s and radical feminism began to give women more freedoms and power, and while it is still an uphill battle to equality, marriage is not the necessary arrangement that it first was. Love reigns supreme and most people still get married at least once. But with those freedoms came the power to marry solely for love. There is no longer a need to be married. It’s a choice that two people make as an expression of the way they feel for one another and, often, a label for the benefit of others. It was these same freedoms and resulting empowerment that also enabled people to get out of marriages easily for the first time causing divorce rates to skyrocket and to remain high over decades of time. Forever vows no longer mean forever. Forever just sounds better than “for as long as I can stand the sight of you.” Marriage by choice instead of marriage to profit and survive is the new norm and with that norm comes the ability to change one’s mind. As it should be.

That’s where memes like the one above with its quotes about fixing something that’s broken really bother me. I don’t mean that I truly believe love can never be eternal. I don’t mean that marriage can *never* work in the long term. But, marriage isn’t a contract anymore. It can be unfixable, and there should be no stigma associated with that. There’s nothing inherently weak about two people changing in ways that are no longer complimentary and saying things no longer work.

My grandparents stayed married for more than 60 years. My grandmother is now a widow. Divorce, to them, was never an option. They slept in separate beds my entire life. They bickered and fought like any other married couple, but there was never any affection between the two of them. They were hardly even friends much less still in love. The two of them stopped being compatible long before I was born and stayed that way, living under the same roof resenting each other and honoring their vows, until the day my grandfather died. Is that really what love is about? Honoring your commitment? I’m sure they thought they were fixing what was broken, too, but there’s only so many times you can glue a leg back onto a table before you have to decide that maybe you’ve wasted all your time fixing something that repeatedly breaks for a reason…

Life is evolution. It’s change, growth, trial and error. In our lifetimes, we wear so many faces trying to figure out the one that really fits with who we are and who we want to be. Sometimes, when the dust settles and we’ve found out what we’re really made of, that person we promised ourselves to for the rest of our lives has evolved into something we no longer recognize or perhaps that person is still exactly the same as the day we met them. The latter is what happened to me. I grew and changed and evolved and realized that the person I was married to was absolutely stagnant. Maybe he’s happy being that person…maybe at 20 years old he had found himself because he’s still that same person 9 years later (though the chances of that is highly unlikely isn’t it? and I can tell you from experience in this case it’s a big resounding unlikely).

I changed. He stayed the same. And, the person I became wasn’t the one he wanted forever from nor did I want to give him forever. We didn’t fix something that was broken because what we had was unfixable. It’s like dropping your favorite coffee mug onto the kitchen floor and watching it shatter into hundreds of pieces... It’s clear from the start that the mess you’re looking at will never again resemble what it started as and will never work the way it was supposed to. It wasn’t planned. It wasn’t intentional. Sometimes life works that way, and you have to roll with the changes. You might get a new favorite mug. You might like a little more variety in your life than the same old mug day in and day out and that’s more than fine. Beating yourself up over not trying to pick up the shards of your broken marriage and super glue them back together is not an option, though, especially because some old assholes try to pass around an Internet meme that is pretentious enough to assume there’s only one right way to do things…

The only right way to do anything is to let people live the fuck out of their own lives and to realize that societies evolve and people change and there’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it but enjoy the ride. And, if you can’t do that then do the rest of us a favor and shut the fuck up.

Sunday Confessions is hosted by More than Cheese and Beer. Check out the other linkups on her blog and anonymous confessions on Facebook!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Push It Real Good

Sex. Given this subject, I could go on for days about awkward memories, the immense love I have for sex, the potential health benefits, and all the reasons why people should be having more of it, but I think, a Klosterman hyperthetical is in order this Sunday.

Here’s the question:

Every person you have ever slept with is invited to a banquet where you are the guest of honor. No one will be in attendance except you, the collection of your former lovers, and the catering service. After the meal, you are asked to give a 15-minute speech to the assembly.

What do you talk about?

Ok, first of all 15 minutes is ludicrous. Having taken several speech and drama courses in my lifetime, I can tell you that there’s a lot of writing involved with a 15 minute speech or monologue. Also, I sort of need to know if phone sex and strictly oral sex qualify people as former lovers and whether or not people will be brought back from the dead to attend. If so, that changes things. As it is, with my limited information, here goes:

“Well…I don’t know if your invites, by chance, may have mentioned the reason you’re all here, but apparently someone thought it would be a good idea, or perhaps hilariously awkward, if all my former lovers and I were thrown together for a dinner in my honor. All I can say is the person responsible is either incredibly stupid or the kind of evil genius that deserves my utmost respect.

I hate public speaking, so making this little speech could be completely miserable for me, but I’ve already seen all of you naked so I don’t even have to imagine what you look like without your clothes. Now that we have the obligatory corny speech-joke out of the way, we can proceed…

Some of you may be looking around the room marveling at the number of you in attendance today. To those of you who are, stop trying to count heads. It won’t change the fact that you’re all here for the same reason, and no one needs to know a specific number. I stopped keeping track of it a long time ago when I figured out that I could have as much sex as I wanted without feeling guilty as long as I did so carefully. I totally shattered that fucking double standard that vilifies women for doing what they want to do and applauds men for the same actions. (pun intended)

There are some of you I enjoyed. The memories of some of you still make me cringe. Some of you I completely forgot about until right this moment when I just saw your face but now that I remember, I can see why I forgot. And, some of you should most definitely give me a call. But regardless of the quality of the time we shared together, let’s make the best of the night. I don’t harbor any ill will toward any of you which is understandable since there was never any sort of relationship with most of you that would invoke any emotional reaction upon seeing you, and for the ones I did try the whole relationship thing with, I truly believe we’ve moved past any awkwardness or ill will except maybe you *points* who still grosses me out.

We shared a moment in our time together. Life is short and for whatever reason we chose to spend some of our precious moments with one another. Let’s raise our glasses to that…to the shared enjoyment of each other’s time, to the intimacy we shared. I’ve had some of the best conversations of my life with many of you just preceding the ultimate act of the night, and those are moments I have kept close and relished over the years—the talks, the shared laughs, the deep engagement about everything from childhood cartoons to religion to politics to books. One of the best dates of my life involved a traded movie list over a slice of late night truck stop pie. The sex afterward was great, but it never would have happened if that conversation hadn’t been so genuine and fun—a moment that could never be recaptured. Being sniffed in a pool hall wasn’t a bad night either and has been the gift that keeps on giving for over 4 years now. There was the night I shared a 6 pack on my couch with a date, one of you, who kissed me for the first time in the middle of a conversation about my bookshelf. I’ve never let go of the awesomeness of the conversations we had that night. It wasn’t just the sex with most of you…it was a memory, a part of my story and yours. And, that is never cheap.

If nothing else, I hope at the very least, you will all take a drink with me to celebrate the awesomeness of sex if not necessarily that time that *we* had sex.

I don’t want the night to be a total waste of anyone’s time, so if you’re feeling awkward or jealous or weirded out, it’s probably best for you to leave. There’s no time to dwell on negativity in our lives and no one is required to stay. I’m not going to ask you to share with the group our memory, and I’m not going to call anyone (else) out, so let’s shed the worried glances and dance.

Who’s going to do karaoke of Salt ‘N Peppa’s Push It???

Check out the rest of the Confessions this Sunday over at More than Cheese and Beer and check out her Facebook page for anonymous confessions! Thanks for reading. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

Secret Subject Swap August Edition

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This week, 14 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My prompt was submitted by Crumpets and Bollocks (link in the list below) and is: what is your proudest moment?


Asking me to pick my proudest moment is like asking me to pick an all time favorite song. There are too many from all aspects of my life just as there are songs from every genre I listen to for me to be able to pick just one. On any given day, to be quite honest, it would be nearly impossible for me to even be able to pick a Top Ten favorite songs of all time.

Same for Top Ten albums.

Same for bands.

Music is my therapy, my salvation some days, my release, my love, my oxygen, my comfort food. And, in a way, the same can be said for my proud moments. With a life like mine (and like so many others) full of hardships, trauma, and struggles, there have been times when my proud moments were all I had to show for a life well-lived, for making the best of what I’ve had despite the troubles and the trials, for living in spite of, despite of, and instead of. I realized a long time ago that pride and humbleness are not mutually exclusive qualities. I can have one and still be the other. I can be proud of how far I've come yet be humbled by how much further I have to go. Relishing those proud moments whenever they may happen, letting them envelope me in a little warmth when things were at their worst has gotten me through some rough days.

I’m proud that I’ve made it through, proud that I’ve yet to buckle, proud of every A I’ve earned, every sacrifice I’ve made, and of the growth I’ve undergone in the last few years. I’ve been proud every time I’ve used my voice to speak up about what I’ve gone through or about subjects I feel strongly about so that maybe I can make a difference. I’m proud that I’m not afraid to get loud about things that matter to me.

I was proud the moment I saw my beautiful son, the first time he smiled, the first step he took, when I heard his first word followed shortly by dozens of others, at all his school accomplishments, and his unending ability to amaze me with his smartassery and intelligence like the time he told me when he was 3 not to “antagonize” him about his ABCs. Watching him become his own person has been a magical journey of pride that has left me fulfilled in ways that nothing else even comes close to.

I’m proud of his geekiness (inspired, perhaps, by my own)…the look on his face the first time he heard the words “Luke, I am your father” is something I hope I never forget. His love of all things Mario Brothers, his
obsession with science, Ghostbusters fandom, and bookwormishness are all points of pride swelling from my 8-bit heart, and every time he can hold his own in a geek conversation, that heart threatens to burst into balls of pixelated light like a defeated Mega Man boss.

And then there are the moments that prove just how awesome a human being I’m raising, the ones that show he’s listening and paying attention even when I feel like he never hears a word that isn’t video game related. If pressed to choose, it would likely be these that are my proudest, my favorites. The time he told my nephew that Christmas isn’t about the presents; it’s about family was the greatest Christmas gift of all time. Overhearing him tell someone not to call something “gay” or hearing from my mom that the kid scolded her for calling something “retarded” make me want to dance a wee little jig and squeal with glee. He’s paying attention, and it lets me know that I’ve instilled in this kid the makings of an extraordinary human being. I’ve planted the seeds and am watching them grow. And just like a gardener bursting with pride and joy at the sign of the year’s first tomatoes deepening to that lovely shade of red, I am over-the-moon at what I see in that boy every day.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ll check out the rest of the bloggers who joined in today and keep a look out for the prompt I submitted. It’s a good one if I do say so myself. (ha). Baking In A Tornado The Momisodes Spatulas on Parade Confessions of a part-time working mom Juicebox Confession Evil Joy Speaks Sparkly Poetic Weirdo Follow me home . . . Someone Else’s Genius Crumpets and Bollocks Stacy Sews and Schools The Bergham’s Life Chronicles Dinosaur Superhero Mommy

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Happily Ever After Revamped

Girls are raised from the beginning, from their earliest days, to wait and hope for their Prince Charming. Most of Disney’s catalogue, in fact, features a fair maiden who is saved from her miserable life, whatever that constitutes, by an amazing man who does whatever it takes to have her, marry her, and live happily ever after with her. We’re taught to hope that happily ever after happens to us like that’s the only fulfilling thing we will ever experience. Being married to a dream man with adorable faults whose sole purpose in life is to bind us in matrimony for the rest of our lives is EVERYTHING.

Cinderella doesn’t fantasize about nailing her dream job and getting out of servitude to her evil step-family. She doesn’t dream about starting her own DIY blog or using her new mouse friends to start her own clothing line. She dreams of attending the ball, of climbing the social ladder, and marrying her prince. Instead of using her magical animal friends to help her escape, they make her a dress to impress the man of her dreams.

Ariel dreams of walking on land, of being with people (that should make you question her sanity right there). Her desire is to go where the people are…especially when she meets Eric. And from then on every. single. hope. has to do with being with that man. Her whole life’s goal is that man even if she has to give up her very identity, her metaphorical soul to do so.

Snow White’s entire existence is dependent upon being kissed by a man who falls for her upon sight. She doesn’t wake up to hopes and dreams of going back to school, getting a degree, or becoming a stay at home mom and independent author. She counts on happily ever after with a man who only knows her as a silent, willing body…in a coma and totally compliant.

              Why do we do this to ourselves?

Why do we base all our hopes and dreams and happiness in loving another human being?

Fuck that.

The societal norm of finding our “other halves,” of hoping to connect to someone who in some way “completes” us seems a bit odd. Logically, wouldn’t it seem like a better plan to find happiness in ourselves, to develop our own hopes, dreams, and goals so that we can share those things with someone else rather than depending on another person to do it for us? Perhaps that’s part of the problem and why we see divorce rates continue to climb in this country. Instead of focusing on ourselves and knowing ourselves, we’re pressured, consciously or not, to hope that someone will come along and rescue us from our own lives, who will sweep us away on a white horse to happily ever after—a state of being that is conveniently never fully described in any fairly tale.

Being in love, whatever that means, is a great feeling. There’s no denying it. But, the same centers in the brain are activated by love as by certain drugs, and when a relationship is over, addiction centers see an increase in activity. We get a high from love that clouds our judgment yet makes us euphoric and when it leaves, we’re left empty, afraid, and withdrawing. It takes a sound person to make it through that unscathed…not the kind of person who grew up thinking that fairy tales are something to hope for. I learned a long time ago that determining my worth is not dependent on being with someone no matter how much I dig intimacy. I figured out I can be happy right by myself. I totally dig me and all I’m about. I don’t have to hope for a Prince Charming to get by because I’m my own savior, my own hope for happily ever after. Love is easier that way because it’s not what I base my entire existence upon…I don’t need a Prince to wake me up from my coma and throw me onto his horse to ride off into the sunset together. I’m already awake, and any Prince that walks into my life is going to have to get off his fucking horse and get to work in my garden. Them’s the breaks.

Perhaps fairly tales need to be revamped a bit so we can teach our girls that love isn’t the be-all, end-all to a happy story. I would hope that all of us would want more for them. I know I want more for my nieces.

And, as always, this has been a part of Sunday Confessions with More than Cheese and Beer. The prompt is Hope. Check out her blog to read the other link ups and her Facebook page for anonymous confessions.