The highs and lows of parenting and real estate.

Category Archives for ‘Experiences’

Thoughts on Marriage from MFB

I had drinks with My Friend Brody (MFB)* on Friday night. He’s one of my BFFs from church in high school (before some of us started worshipping satan**), but he moved to Wisconsin and then Illinois after high school, so I only see him every few years when he comes out to Arizona to visit his mom and stepdad.

MFB is kind of like a freight train. Once he gets started on a story or a rant, you have to hop on for the ride, because there’s no stopping his momentum, and any attempt will just get you run over. You don’t resent him for it, though, because he has good stories.

Friday night we got to talking about marriage. Generally speaking, I’m fascinated by other peoples’ perspectives and experiences regarding marriage. I’m constantly ruminating on questions like What makes a marriage successful? What causes a marriage to fail? What are realistic expectations of a marriage? Should I always like my spouse? Should I always love him? Is a lifelong commitment worth the challenges of committing for life, simply for the benefit of having a partner who is contractually obligated to have your back? Do people who say they loooovvveeee their sexy man on Facebook actually love him so much they feel uncontrollably compelled to announce it publicly, or are they mostly worried he’s sleeping with a coworker and think announcing their love via social media will remind him they’re going to cut his balls off if they find evidence, so he should stop?? So of course I was happy to let MFB rant about his married life to Jess, the woman who seems (from an old friend who’s met her a couple of times’ perspective) to have been created simply to be the perfect woman for MFB.

MFB: You know, people think my marriage is easy because my wife is a hot piece of ass. That’s bullshit, though. Marriage is hard work all the time. The fact that my wife is a hot piece of ass is completely irrelevant to the premise of my marriage. Sure, it was relevant 8 years ago, when we started dating, but now, it doesn’t matter. We have bills to pay together! We have kids to raise together! We have arguments to get through together! The fact that she’s a hot piece of ass doesn’t make any of those things easier.

(This was the condensed version of the rant. He probably said, “hot piece of ass”, “irrelevant”, and “premise” 12 times each during the entire thing. I wish I had it on video, because it was a work of art.)

Beyond my entertainment at his description of his wife, this concept that the fact that his wife was desirable didn’t impact their marriage disturbed me. I tend to assume at least part of why people get divorced is because one or both of them isn’t attracted to the other person any longer. Men “trade-up” to trophy wives after the one they married in their early 20s “lets herself go”, right? So logic follows that if you keep things high and tight and he still thinks you’re a “hot piece of ass”, life should run smoothly. I mean, if you can’t control the economy, the weather, or your children, at the very least you can hit the gym and figure out how to get really good at eyeliner to have some security that your marriage will continue to function, can’t you?

But I guess if that were true, Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt would still be married. Like Baba Booey*** always says: For every hot chick, there’s a guy who’s sick of fucking her.

So of course I went home and had this conversation with Jason:

Me: I was discussing marriage with MFB tonight and he told me it’s irrelevant that his wife is a hot piece of ass. He said it doesn’t make his marriage easier. Like it doesn’t matter anymore that he’s attracted to her. It sort of bothered me and I’m not totally sure why. Do you think whether I am, or am not attractive is irrelevant to our marriage?

Jason: … uh… no? I mean, I definitely think you’re a hot piece of ass. Is that what you’re asking?

Me: No, I’m asking if whether I’m a hot piece of ass or not matters to you.

Jason: … … … I feel like this is one of those questions there is not a right answer to.

Me: I guess I kind of want it to be something you like about our marriage. Like you’re proud that you’re married to a hot chick or something. Which I suppose is fairly vain and pretty sexist, so if you don’t feel that way, I maybe need to get over myself. I’m just saying it seems like I work far too hard to stay attractive for it just to be irrelevant. Like why am I skipping donuts and french fries, and learning how to contour if it doesn’t matter?

Jason: When do you skip french fries?

Me: Probably a part of me also hopes you’ll continue to put up with my crazy if I continue to keep myself together, physically. Like I’m allowed to be a drama queen and occasionally run away with my circus friends if I keep up my end of the bargain and not let you see me putting on spanx or watch when I’m shaving my armpits. Which is also shallow and completely anti-feminist.

Jason: I feel like you’re overthinking all of this.

Me: You do definitely see me at my worst, though. You have watched me give birth three times. I couldn’t even watch me do that. Gross.

Jason (seeing this isn’t really a conversation I’m having with him, so much as myself, moving on to Instagram): Mmmhmm.

Me: Also, you’ve seen my dye my roots. That is not a good look while in progress. And you’re still married to me. I guess that’s the positive side of the lack of importance of physical attractiveness. If it was the most important thing, it would be far more work to hide the upkeep.

Jason (no longer paying any attention): I guess.

Me: I did think it was really adorable that he kept referring to her as a hot piece of ass like this was a completely indisputable fact. It was clear that even though he doesn’t think it causes their marriage to be perfect and easy, he firmly believes she’s a stone cold fox. Maybe MFB has it exactly right. I mean that’s really all anyone wants, don’t they? To possess physical beauty, but for it not to be the reason for our greatness? To be both a hot piece of ass, and loved for reasons completely irrelevant of this fact?

Jason: This is where I can change the subject and we can talk about that documentary on coffee I wanted to tell you about, right?

Me: Sure.

 

*I’m physically unable to mention him in conversation with Jason without using his full title. Merely “Brody” just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

**I’m watching the current The Real World season and there’s this really great racist girl who is sure atheists worship satan, because she missed the part about how the whole point of being atheist is not believing in god-like figures. She’s the best.

***Howard Stern’s executive producer. I learn all my life lessons from The Howard Stern Show, obviously.

That Time We Went Camping

It’s not that I hate nature. I feel like nature actually has a lot of really great things to offer. It’s just that all of those beautiful and wondrous things are covered in dirt and bugs. Also I super love my bed. And showering. If sleeping in my own bed and taking extended scalding showers was an Olympic sport, I would win so hard they’d give me the bronze, silver, and gold. I would be the Michael Phelps of domestic comfort (but with fewer bongs and pictures of my junk).

Other things I care deeply about that tend not to exist in nature:

  • Wine glasses
  • Couches
  • TVs with DVRs full of a healthy mix of MTV reality and scripted shows*
  • Wifi
  • Outlets
  • Instagram

Plus, the last time I went camping I was 21 years old, 7 months pregnant, and still still in deep denial being knocked up was really going to have much of an effect on my life. Squatting in the woods with a giant belly to pee 47 times in 24 hours was what really started to hammer home that I was no longer the normal co-ed. I still sometimes have nightmares of that camping trip.

That said, we all have our burdens in this life, and one of mine is that Jonas was born a year and one week after the tragic and untimely death of Steve Irwin, and I feel confident his spirit was reincarnated into my kid’s skinny, asthmatic body. It’s not easy being the mother of a crocodile hunter.

So far, we’ve gotten away with letting Jonas roam the desert just outside our property line and regularly sleep in the backyard. Now that he’s eight and a half it seems almost inhumane to keep him constantly caged inside of the walls of civilization when really all he wants to do in life is raise birds so he can watch them construct a nest, use dirt for clothing, and learn to communicate with insects so he can persuade them to be his army and he their overlord.

Additionally, my brother-in-law, John, has been trying to convince us that no really, we’d totally like camping because it’s really fun and not at all terrible for pretty much the entirety of his marriage to my sister. A couple of weeks ago he gave me this spiel again when I was two and a half mimosas in to a beautiful Saturday and would have probably said, That sounds like a great idea! if he’d proposed hitchhiking to Cleveland to see a Metallica cover band. Day-drinking causes me to be very agreeable.

This is how, last Thursday, I ended up driving the Subaru up the side of a mountain on a single lane dirt road, half blind with dust and the sun, toward two nights of the first camping I’d done in 16 years.

I don’t want to paint this experience as a totally negative one. I know John really wanted it to be the trip that caused the epiphany The Newlins are camping folk, and it wasn’t entirely regrettable and unpleasant. So, I’m just gonna identify the parts of the camping trip as:

  • Stuff that didn’t suck
  • Camping lessons learned

Stuff That Didn’t Suck:

1. Even though the drive up was possibly more terrifying than one of those panic dreams where you are falling off  the cliff and never land, but you know you’re going to land and it’s going to be terrible, so you just continue in a state of unending horror for all eternity (or until you wake up, soaked in sweat), the actual campsite was lovely. We had views of Lake Roosevelt on one side, and some pretty down below place on the other. There were no other campers we saw during the 40 or so hours we were up there.

camping 2

camping 1

2. Camping food is delicious, especially if it’s a little burnt. I made breakfast burritos the night before we left and wrapped them in tinfoil. Even though the outer layer was almost charcoal when they came off the fire, they were possibly my favorite thing I’ve ever eaten. Also, the brats I preboiled and we roasted on skewers were amazing. The bacon John set on fire and almost burned down the forest with, was equally delicious.

camping 3

 

3. I really love dead trees, and there were several nearby that had been struck by lightning and were gorgeous.

IMG_5364

4. Day-drinking is encouraged at camping. So are afternoon naps.

5. There weren’t any horrible flying bugs like mosquitos or gnats or anything.

Camping Lessons Learned:

1. Two non-superhuman adults is not sufficient for both setting up camp and properly supervising a 3 year old, a 5 year old, an 11 year old, and an 8 year old body that houses the spirit of Steve Irwin. While John and I were setting up the million tents required to house all of us, the boys discovered a nearby, recently used, campsite. In under 10 minutes they had collected enough small flammable material to stoke the improperly extinguished embers at the neighboring fire ring and built a full fire, which Gray used a shovel to scoop up and run over to our fire ring while the littler boys ran behind him and yelled, Look!! We built a fire!! 

Just to reinforce what occurred: As John and I looked up from the tent poles we were frustratedly trying to shove through fabric, my eleven year old son came running, full-bore, through the trees, carrying a shovel full of flames, with his long, golden hair trailing behind him, and his brother and cousins following with utter glee. It… was not a safe situation.

2. When left alone to “explore”, even in the middle of the wilderness with no sign of civilization, Jonas will somehow manage to discover and retrieve:

  • A shotgun shell
  • An intact bullet
  • Five metal canisters for a BB gun
  • A throwing knife stuck in a tree
  • An enormous bowie knife

camping 4 camping 5

 

So when the zombie apocalypse happens, make sure to align yourself with Jonas.

3. Peeing in the woods is legitimately terrible. Peeing in the woods in the middle of the night when it’s 35 degrees out and you’ve forgotten your glasses, and are too afraid to go out in the dark alone and blind, so you put your almost frozen contacts against your eyeballs before trudging out in the cold, to squat in the woods while trying simultaneously not to pee on your own feet and not to sit in a pile of ants is torture it should be illegal to subject prisoners of war to. Like I almost decided I should drink less wine the next night so I didn’t have to pee in the middle of the night; it was that bad.

4. When I was a teenager I read a book about a guy stuck in an avalanche. I think it was called Avalanche!, but I’m too lazy to try and find it. It was about how this guy was skiing and an avalanche buried him below like 5 feet of snow, but there was a hole at the top of where he got buried, so he didn’t die and he spent literal days trapped there under the snow like peeing on himself for warmth and eating the snow around him, etc. I don’t remember how he got out, but the point is, the dude had an insane will to live. He was like James Franco’s character in the movie where he cuts his own arm off (that was a real guy, right? Gross.)

At camping, I learned I do not have quite that voracious of a will to live in the face of cold. If my options are: A) Be super cold and miserable for days with little to no hope in sight, eating snow and telling myself to stay strong because there’s a chance someone will find me, and eventually getting rescued OR B) Chewing a hole in my own wrist to bleed out after 37 minutes of being kind of chilly just to end the misery, I gotta tell you, I’m probably going with B.

The first night at camping I spent the entire night (when I wasn’t stumbling around in the dark trying not to pee on myself) shivering in my stupid 35 degree rated sleeping bag. The next night, the wind picked up even harder than the night before, and I have to admit, knowing that eventually getting into my tent was not going to be warmer than sitting by the fire, where I was already a popsicle, may have worn down my will to live a little bit. It’s possible I threw a small tantrum, marched into my tent at 7:15PM with all of the extra blankets I could find, layered all of the jackets and socks I brought on my body and refused to come out until morning. It wasn’t my proudest moment. I really hate being cold.

Overall, the kids loved every minute. I loved some of the minutes. But more, I loved the minutes in the hot shower when I got home. I might go again, if it’s not so cold. Although, if it’s less cold, there will probably be bugs. So maybe I’ll let Jason take the boys and I’ll stay home with my couch and wine glasses, and MTV shows.

 

*Did anyone see the latest episode of Faking It? “I’m Switzerland. Cool, neutral, very expensive.” #Shaneismyfavoriteever #apropsofnothing

If a Mom Puts Away a KitchenAid Mixer

Me (on hold with a short sale escalation representative to complain about a stagnant short sale): Why has the KitchenAid mixer been on the dining room table next to my computer for a month?

Also Me: Probably because the cupboard it usually goes in is messy right now because of the diet.

Me: What does the diet have to do with that cupboard?

Also Me: It’s also where we keep the ziplock bags. So now, because we’re packing food to take everywhere we go for the stupid diet, there are a bunch of necessary sizes of ziplock bags and they need to be easily accessible, which is difficult when the mixer is in the way.

Me: Oh. Well the other thing in that cupboard is that enormous bowl we got as a wedding present and have literally never used.

Also Me: That’s true. I was thinking it might be helpful for like really big salads in potlucks or something, someday.

Me: Yes, but we’ve taken salads to potlucks for like 25 people and never needed a bowl that big.

Also Me: Yeah, it’s probably more appropriate for bathing toddlers in.

Me: I’m going to pull that bowl out for the donation pile, quickly organize the ziplock bags, and put away the mixer. That will really start to clear off the dining room table. And it will only take a second!

Also Me: Great plan!

*2 hours and 45 minutes later*

Gray (walking in the door from school): Mom, what are you doing??!

Me: Well, I was just going to put away the mixer, but then I wanted to put some of the water bottles that had migrated into the mixer cupboard back into the one next to it, but it was over-flowing with tablecloths. Do you know how many tablecloths we have?

Gray: No…

Me: SEVENTEEN. Do you remember the last time we used a tablecloth?

Gray: Um, no.

Me: RIGHT. Because we never use them!

Gray: True.

Me: So I decided to take all of the tablecloths out of that cabinet and put them somewhere else because it’s not like they need to be easily accessible or anything, but then it turned out there was a whole bunch of heavy platters and whatnot on the top shelf of that cupboard and they’d actually broken the shelf fastener thingys out of the sides of the shelf, and the only things holding the shelf up were the tablecloths.

Gray: Yikes.

Me: Seriously. It was totally not a structurally sound situation. So I took everything out of that cupboard and got a hammer and fixed the shelf and put everything except the tablecloths and some random seasonal chachskis back in. But then I had to find a place to put the tablecloths.

Gray: Right…

Me: I thought I’d put them in the storage ottoman we have in the great room. You know, the one with the four compartments?

Gray: Oh yeah-

Me: But it turns out I’d shoved all of the paperwork from the kitchen counter that wasn’t trash into one of those compartments last time your grandma came to visit. And one of the compartments has like a whole bunch of probably scratched and useless DVDs-

Gray: I forgot about all the DVDs!

Me: And one compartment was stuffed with toys, dirty socks, magic tricks, and a fruit by the foot still in the wrapper.

Gray: Really? Where is it?

Me: It’s old and gross! You can’t eat it.

Gray: Oh.

Me: The last of the compartments was relatively empty.

Gray: I know. I cleaned it out a few months ago to make a place for Blue to sleep. He slept in it for hours.

Me: Yeah, but it turned out we had too many tablecloths for just one compartment. So I still had to clean one out. I opted for the toys because I couldn’t cope with the paperwork today.

Gray: Well that’s good. But it still doesn’t explain-

Me: So THEN, I needed to put away the pumpkin carving tools into the Halloween box, and the Christmas platters and cheese plate in the Christmas boxes out on the shelves in the garage.

Gray: Ok…

Me: While I was up on the ladder putting the stuff back in the boxes, I realized there were a whole bunch of boxes I haven’t looked in since we moved in, 7 years ago.

Gray: Ah, I see.

Me: And that’s where I found the roller blades!!! Who even knew I still had roller blades! Also, apparently I still have my wedding dress. So that’s good. I kind of thought it was lost.

Gray: It’s all starting to make more sense.

When an Introvert Marries a Disorganized Extrovert

Me, after working out with Jason at Orange Theory Saturday morning: On the way home we should stop at the grocery store and grab stuff for the kids for lunch, and then hit up Target.

Jason: Why do we need to go to Target?

Me: To get you some cute underwear to wear for the No Pants Light Rail Ride today. Remember? We talked about it the other day.

Jason: Oh… you still wanted to do that?

Me: Yes. We’ve already had this conversation. I said I think about doing it every year, but then I get too busy and don’t buy cute underwear and I don’t end up going, but then I regret it. But this year I went and bought cute underwear! I even texted you a picture.

Jason: I remember that…

Me: And you said if I was doing it you’d do it too. But you don’t have any cute underwear to wear. So I thought we’d stop at Target.

Jason: I just don’t totally understand what the point of this is.

Me: Well, it’s like a national thing. And it has to do with Improv or something. You’re supposed to pretend like you just forgot to put on pants. It’s funny! And you know, all the Ignite people do it. Jeff will be there, and Ruth and Liesl. And there’s beers at Angel’s Trumpet House. You love Angel’s Trumpet House!

Jason: I still don’t get it.

Me: Listen, if you don’t want to do it, then don’t. I’ll go by myself.

Jason: Do you want to go by yourself?

Me: No, I think it would be more fun to go with you. Unless you’re going to be super crabby about it.

Jason: If you’re doing it, I’ll do it.

Me: So you don’t want to go, but you don’t want me to go out in public in my underwear and drink beers without you?

Jason: That’s an accurate representation of the situation.

Me: I feel like you’re going to be really grouchy.

Jason: It’s out of my comfort zone. And you constantly telling me I seem crabby isn’t helping.

Me: OK then. Let’s go to Target.

***

Me: Look how many options there are! You could wear Superman ones! Or beers-

Jason (looking more and more annoyed): I don’t even like beers. Why would I wear beers?

Me: There’s hotdogs, those are adorbs…

Jason: This is so stupid.

Me: Oh come on, it’s fun! You could get the Minions ones!

Jason: *look of death*

Me: These paisley ones are really cute.

Jason: Those are ok.

Me: Great! Let’s buy them and get going. We need to leave at noon.

Jason: What?! That’s in an hour and a half! I need to make the kids food and shower and-

Me: I know, I know, but it will be fine! We just need to hurry.

***

Jason (an hour and 3 levels more irritated later): What sort of footwear am I supposed to have on?

Me: Normal footwear.

Jason: *angry eyeroll* Normal footwear like I’d wear with pants, or normal footwear for when I’m wearing my underwear in public?

Me: I think you’re over-thinking it. I’m going to wear tall socks and boots so I stay warm. Wear one of the pairs of socks I bought you for Christmas.

Jason: This is stupid.

Me: Stop saying that. It’s fun!!!

Jason: You keep saying that.

Me: You’re ruining it for me. Do you think my underwear is too busy with this jacket or is it ok?

Jason: It’s fine.

Me: You didn’t even look!

Jason: *disgruntled sigh* I hate this.

***

Jason (at 11:59AM, to Ben, through clenched teeth): OK, so everyone had pancakes like an hour ago, so they won’t be hungry for awhile, but when you guys are, you can heat up the oven and put in the pizza rolls-

Ben: Wait, so how do I do that, specifically?

Jason: *head explodes from irritation about everything and everyone on the planet*

Me (from my laptop, checking the details about where and when to meet to get on the light rail): So… you’re gonna laugh.

Jason: What?

Me: I mean, you’re probably not going to laugh now. In fact you’re probably going to be super mad right now. But eventually, you’re going to think this is funny.

Jason: Just tell me.

Me: It’s not today, it’s tomorrow.

Jason: What is?

Me: The No Pants Light Rail Ride. It’s Sunday. I thought it was Saturday because there’s this Cyr Wheel workshop I wasn’t interested in taking at the aerial gym on Saturday, and Jo has class with Holly on Sunday, and we were going to Orange Theory on Saturday, so I was thinking this was Saturday, too. But I just looked, and it’s not. It’s tomorrow.

Jason: *lays down on the couch, puts his hat over his face and doesn’t speak for 10 minutes to keep himself from murdering everyone*

Me: OK, but let’s just keep in mind that this could have been way worse. What if I hadn’t figured it out until we got to the light rail? That would have been really horrifying. Imagine how mad you’d have been then.

Jason: So are we doing this all again tomorrow?

Me: No. Ben has a sleepover he needs to be picked up from at 2PM. And I have rope class until 1PM. The scheduling totally doesn’t work.

Jason: *sighs the sigh of a man burdened by all of the world’s misery*

Me: But hey, we’re totally ready for next year!

no pants ride 2016

The Sex-Ed Curriculum Meeting – Part II

Part I

I was under no illusion I was going to single handedly convince the Mesa Public School District their conservative, abstinence-based curriculum was outdated, backwards, and offensive. Especially because I’d only been appointed to a committee with the very specific (and relatively minor) job of approving new videos to be used to aid the instruction of curriculum with guidelines that were put in place 30 years ago. But, if we all stay home and say nothing, the crazies with the loudest voices win, right? So I put on my big girl pants, prepared my voice of dissent (and myself to be hated), and I went to the committee meeting.

It went both better and worse than I expected.

***

Committee member who is a medical doctor and grandfather of students in the district: In the first video, I’m not comfortable with the term “lips” used in place of “labia” when they are identifying the female anatomy. It’s slang. They should use the proper terminology. 

Female Sex Ed Instructor for MPS: OK, that makes sense. We can make that edit to the video. Anything else?

Me: Well, I mean if we’re talking about that video and the specific terminology, I have to say, I thought it was really strange they identified all of the anatomical external and internal parts of the female reproductive organs EXCEPT for the clitoris. Like, they just skipped over it. What was that about?

Sex Ed Lady: Oh, that was there, but we edited it out. 

Me: …WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT???

Everyone else: Yeah, why would you do that?

Sex Ed Lady: We’ve never been able to get it approved before. 

Conservative Male Committee Member: It’s anatomy. I don’t know why we’d take out anatomy.

Doctor dude: As long as we use the technically correct terminology, I’m fine with it.

Me (only in my head, because it seemed to be going my way and it felt like a bad idea to go rogue so early and risk turning the conservative vote against anything I said going forward): What could possibly be offensive about that particular part of the female anatomy? Is it because it’s largely responsible for a female’s physical sexual pleasure? Why would this be a taboo concept? Are we afraid informing them sex actually feels good to women will derail the rest of the brainwashing? Have you tried not telling the boys they have a penis? Seems like the same logic.

Sex Ed Lady: So I should put it back in?

Everyone: Yeah. You definitely should.

***

Sex Ed Lady: What did we think about the video on The Dangers of Sexting?

Everyone: It was pretty good. 

Me: I thought it was a little female-heavy. It’s pretty much all about how girls shouldn’t send naked pics-

Sex Ed Lady: “Nudes.” The kids refer to them as “nudes.”

Me: OK, it’s about how girls shouldn’t send nudes and boys shouldn’t forward them on because everyone will go to jail and regret it for the rest of their lives. But what about unsolicited dick pics? That’s a weird kind of harassment going on right now (at least according to my friends who online date). It also needs to be addressed, if we’re talking about the pitfalls of sexting, don’t you think? Do you talk about dick pics?

Several committee ladies: *giggle at the term “dick pics”*

Sex Ed Lady: I go over that in the class discussion.

Committee member mom-type: Do you call them that? 

Sex Ed Lady: No. Let’s move on. 

***

Mom Lady: I liked the Flirting or Hurting video. I thought it was nice that it showed the kids examples of what is appropriate contact and what is harassment. 

Me: I thought that one was fine, except for the scene where the girl goes online and makes some kind of a Facebook page about the boy who blew her off, called Zach is a LOSER, and she writes that he’s “SO GAY!!”. This is only addressed as a “cruel insult” by the narrators. The boy’s sexuality isn’t in question, or a part of the video, and the narrators don’t label it as hate speech. As it’s used, it’s a slur and shames gay kids. It needs to go.

Super Conservative Mom who I feel like was only agreeing with me because she wanted any reference to homosexuality removed, regardless of what it was: Yeah, can’t you just take out that screen shot? Or blur it?

Conservative Dude: Well, I mean, that’s a realistic insult kids use, isn’t it?

Me: Yeah, but they aren’t addressing that it’s insensitive to gay people to use it that way. They’re actually supporting that he should feel bad about being referred to as gay.

Sex Ed Lady: Ok, so I’m going to take out the racist reference, anything else? 

School Nurse sitting next to me, under her breath: Uh, it wasn’t a racist thing, right?

Me, also under my breath: No, but I think she knows what to take out. I hope. 

***

Sex Ed Lady: And the final 7th grade video? The Five Essential Habits of Healthy Teens?

Doctor dude and his doctor wife: We couldn’t watch that one, our disk was corrupted.

A couple of other committee members: Us too.

Mom type: I watched it, and my problem with it is that it does a lot talking about ‘healthy eating’ and how fast food is bad, and my daughter has struggled with anorexia, and she doesn’t need to go to school and be subjected to more propaganda suggesting she should be restrictive about her eating.

Everyone else in the room: *uncomfortable and unsure silence similar to when I speak about anything*

Sex Ed Lady: Ok, I can see how that would be problematic. Does anyone else who was able to watch this one have any opinions on it?

Me: I watched it. I thought it was fine, but I don’t understand why it was included in the sex-ed curriculum. It has literally nothing to do with sex or relationships in any way. It’s mostly about eating properly, exercising, and making sure you’re hydrated. It really added to my general concern that the sex ed curriculum is less medical information and more morality training. We don’t teach that you shouldn’t overdo it on junk food in Driver’s Ed. Listen, I don’t want to take up too much time, because I know we aren’t here to debate the current guidelines, but I’m on this committee because I’m not happy with the way Sex Ed is being taught in this district, so I feel like I need to make my viewpoint clear. The concept that choosing abstinence before marriage is the ‘right’ way to live is a moral opinion; one that I do not share, and that I do not feel my kids should be subjected to in a public school setting. I am against using fear and shame to teach sex ed. 

*more uncomfortable silence*

Conservative dude: Legally, kids aren’t allowed to have sex, you know.

Doctor dude: Also, if we’ve decided, as a community that teaching abstinence is the safest thing for them, then that’s what-

Me: You know there are studies that show abstinence based sex ed DOESN’T result in fewer-

Sex Ed Lady: OK! Well, why don’t we just take this video completely out. I mostly just had it in because sometimes we go to schools and they have an assembly day and we have extra time to kill with the kids. And just having them do study hall usually doesn’t go that well… so let’s just take it out. 

(Stay tuned for Part III. I promise it’s the finale.)

The Sex-Ed Curriculum Meeting – Part I

Last year I wrote an open letter to the Mesa Public School District expressing my dismay over the decision to teach abstinence-based sex ed. Because of the blog post, a girl I went to high school with, whose husband sits on the board for MPS, reached out to me asking if I would be willing to be appointed to a committee being formed to review and update the videos shown in the sex ed curriculum. Apparently the videos they are currently using haven’t been updated in decades, and in order to do so, a committee must be formed, and a quorum achieved, before they are sent to the board for approval.

Obviously, this did not sound like a party. It seems pretty evident the only people who offer to sit on a committees like this have strong opinions about sex ed. And seeing as how we live in good old Mesa, AZ, home of the largest population of LDS outside of Salt Lake City, my guess was this committee was going to be comprised of mostly people who would disagree with everything about my sex-positive, sailor-mouthed, blue-haired, refusing to wear my wedding ring even though I’m married, persona. I was clearly being sent as a sacrificial lamb to slaughter. Unfortunately, I’d put my big mouth out there, so I had little choice but to agree.

The first meeting was about a month ago. I was a couple of minutes late and felt like a jackass. The organizers, a man and woman who travel around and teach all of the sex ed classes for the entire district, distributed two folders to each of us, one with the guidelines and videos for 7th graders, and one for the 9th graders.

Briefly, we discussed the fact that the guidelines are not up for debate, our job was simply to watch the videos (about 3 and a half hours worth, in total) that have been proposed for use to replace the old ones, and hopefully approve them at the next meeting, so they could be delivered to the board for final approval and be used in the schools as soon as possible. The videos had already been edited to remove anything the instructors thought was over the top (keep in mind these are videos made for the expressed purpose of educating children about sex), but we were instructed to make note of anything we found to be inappropriate or offensive.

I glanced through the MPS official guidelines, and stopped short at number 9:

The terms abortion, birth control (contraceptives), homosexuality, and masturbation may be defined but not discussed.

Me: Uh, who set these guidelines?

Instructor: The guidelines have been around for about 30 years.

Blonde lady also on the committee: Most of the guidelines are state mandated.

Instructor: *Nods*

Off we were sent, with instructions to watch all the videos and reconvene in three weeks. I drove home convinced this was going to be nothing but an exercise in frustration and futility.

Two weeks and five days later, I popped the videos into the DVD player. These are some of the notes I took:

  • The florescent plastic blow-up furniture in this video really makes me feel like it’s hip to be abstinent. 
  • Sexting will destroy any possible hope you have at happiness in the future, if you even have a future, you miserable, godless wretch. Got it. 
  • Wait, 80% of teen pregnancies are “unintended”?? So… then 20% are intended?!
  • Maybe if “Matt” had ever been taught how to use birth control he wouldn’t have been SO SHOCKED his girlfriend got pregnant. (Dear Matt, you’re not a genius.)
  • Everything about teenagers’ bodies and hormones are saying “We want to have sex,” and everything the school, their teachers, and parents are saying is, “This is the worst thing for you ever.” How can that not be completely confusing for them? 
  • This is just a poorly produced episode of 16 and Pregnant. Why can’t they watch that? At least they can find Janelle’s mug shots on TMZ and know it’s true. 
  • I seriously cannot believe there is literally no information about condoms or birth control. 
  • After watching 3+ hours of STI and pregnancy fear-mongering, and teens testifying about abusive relationships and how sexting ruined their lives, I think I’m scared abstinent, too. 
  • Aw, the blonde, perfect-skinned abstinent couple is cute. They’re like a more attractive version of Sue from The Middle and her gay BFF before he realized they should ‘just be friends’. It’s weird we know these details about their lack of sex life. Do people like this realize that announcing their ‘sexual purity’ means at some point in their lives they’ll have to publicly admit they’re ‘sexually impure’? I feel like they may not have thought this completely through. 
  • With this sex-ed program, we’re not equipping them for life, we’re just trying (and generally failing) to shield them until they’re no longer our problem. 

(Come back tomorrow for Part II…)

Quotes from the Cabaret

Notable conversations regarding my inaugural solo aerial performance this weekend-

Me: You said you thought it needed some bedazzling, so I did. See? Here, on the torso?

Monique (inspecting my leotard): Yeah… I think it needs more.

Me: But-

Monique: On the neck, and the arms.

Lindsay: Mmhmm.

Monique: I buy gems in bulk. If you don’t have time to do it, I can take it home.

Me: No, it’s ok. *sigh* I’ll get the glue back out tonight. I finally have the process down.

Monique: Don’t worry, in time you’ll come to love it. 

***

Lindsay: OK, so the last thing I want to demo I’m going to do on Coco. Coco, come here and we’ll do some glitter lips on you.

Coco: OH MY GOD, GLITTER LIPS??! My mind is blown.

Me: No seriously, I love everything about this. Also, if I need to have a stage name, I think it’s going to be Glitter Lips. 

Glitter lips

***

Owner of the club we performed at, during rigging rehearsal, to my 15 year old son: Hey there, kid, can I get you something to drink? Red Bull? Sugarless Red Bull? Soda? Water? Vodka tonic?

Me: He’s kidding, Ben. You know you can’t have Red Bull. 

Owner: Of course, of course. I’m kidding. But really, if you want to bring him back tonight for the show, you can. You’re his guardian, so it’s fine with me.

Me: Thank you, but he’s going to babysit the other kids.

Ben: Maybe I should come back. It would be a really good story to tell the kids at school. 

Me: Uh, no. 

Owner: OK, well it’s fine with me! I’m just saying.  

***

Me, to Jason when he arrived at the club before the show: Hi! You’re here! I’m having a glass of wine. Right before I perform. Because… it’s who I am as a person.

Nic, sitting next to me at the table, applying flash tats to his perfectly sculpted torso: And I’m having a glass of wine, with a straw, before I perform. Because that’s who I am as a person.

 ***

Rebekah: Your makeup looks good.

Me: Thanks! I watched a lot of Youtube tutorials. And practiced a whole bunch.

Rebekah: Wait, you did it yourself?

Me: Yeah.

Rebekah: I totally thought Monique did it for you! It looks really good. Not terrible like when I did it for you that other time.

Me: …thanks…

Rebekah: You know I’m honest with you. I’m just saying it wasn’t great that time.

Me: I wouldn’t want it any other way.

***

Matt Finish, the MC of the show to the crowd: I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but burlesque and aerial performers make 10s of dollars a week. Sometimes, dozens. So if you like what you see, please feel encouraged to throw tips down on stage and our stage minion will gather them for our performers. They probably won’t appreciate it if you throw the money directly AT them. Unless it’s a 20. Then feel free to nail them in the forehead.

Some aren't even ones! They liked me, they really liked me!

Some aren’t even ones! They liked me, they really liked me! At least 4 or 5 people!

***

Vis a Vee, boylesque performer, upstairs in the minuscule DJ booth-turned-dressing room: Does anyone have any safety pins? The problem with these tearaway pants is they just aren’t well constructed. And then they actually rip with they rip off.

***

Debbie, burlesque show virgin: Oh my god, did you see that?

Danielle: She was looking RIGHT AT YOU.

Debbie: I know, right?! She locked eyes with me! And I didn’t know what to do, so I just stared back. But then she held contact. AND THEN SHE KEPT HOLDING IT. I was dying!

Me: She’s really good, right? They told me she did a thing with her eyes.

Debbie: But she did it TO ME!

Performance Anxiety

You: So are you excited? Performing a self-choreographed solo piece on silks at a nightclub in a variety show? I mean that is some high-level shit.

Me: Yeah. And I’m actually feeling mostly prepared.

You: Really? Not freaking out??

Me: Well, I mean, the routine is pretty solid, as long as I get the drops in the right place for the music. And I’ve been practicing makeup, which seems to be going better. I’m happy with my costume, and it seems low-risk for a wardrobe malfunction. And I even taught myself how to do retro-pin curls by watching YouTube videos.

pin curls

You: Wow. You’ve been busy. Not working, but certainly busy.

Me: Hey! I’ve been working, too! In between visiting various Fascination shops and Castle Boutique locations around town. They have the best aerial costumes, you know.

You: I didn’t. But now I do. So wow, you’re really going into this cool as a cucumber? That’s a change. I mean, usually at 48 hours out from any of the ridiculous events/performances/gigs/races you’ve gotten yourself into, you’re in a corner rocking and weeping, repeating, Why did I agree to do this? Why did I agree to do this?

Me: That’s true…

You: But in the end it always goes well and you’re glad you did it.

Me: Yes, generally, except for a couple of minor hiccups. Like my hands shaking through my Ignite presentation. And when my mind went blank and I forgot the end.

You: And your make-up at the Desoto gig. You’re mother is still horrified about that one.

Me: Yeah. And that ridiculous blister I got on the first Ragnar I ever did. Or the dent in the van from the hit and run in the parking lot at the Ragnar I headed.

You: But the point is, you were such a mess with worry over all of those things beforehand, but they all ended up going well. And look at you now. You’ve learned from your crazy behavior and mellowed out. I’m so proud of you!

Me: Well… I mean, now that you mention all of that, what if the worrying was part of the process? Like, what if by not stressing until sick, I’m jinxing myself and this show is going to be a total fucking disaster?

You: But you just described how well-prepared you are. What could go wrong?

Me: Oh there’s plenty that could go wrong. Like, I could fart in the middle of the routine. That could definitely happen.

You: Ok. So now we’re going to go down this road? Fine. Let’s say you fart. The music and crowd are going to be too loud to hear it. Not a big deal. Next?

Me: What if I can’t get my eyelashes on right?

You: Monique promised she wouldn’t let you go out looking like a weirdo. She PROMISED. I think fucked-up eyelashes fall under that umbrella. She’ll help you.

Me: The backs of my knees could be too slippery from the thigh-high socks I’m wearing that I can’t do the knee climb at the beginning of my routine.

You: You still have time to test that out. You should bring them in to rehearsal tomorrow and see. You can always spray the shit out of them with spray rosin if they’re a problem, or ditch them altogether. That wouldn’t be the end of the world.

Me: What if I don’t hit my drops at the right spots?

You: Like 3 people will notice and no one will care.

Me: What if the rigging isn’t secure and I do my first drop and it falls out of the ceiling and I hit the ground?

You: The people who did the rigging for this venue are professionals and have as much at stake for it being done properly as you-

Me: Not “as much” as I do!

You: Alright, not “as much”, but they have a lot at stake, too. It’s definitely not in their best interest for you to go crashing to the ground during a performance. It would speak unfavorably of their skills. Also, you’re just worried about the rigging because it’s new. It’s a fallacy of logic to think that the rigging is more likely to fail because it’s untested. It’s actually probably statistically more likely to fail at some point while you’re on it at the gym, because it’s been used a million times and will eventually wear out.

Me: I’m not sure that made me feel better.

You: Sorry, it’s true.

Me: What if I miss the 360 like I did that time I was rehearsing and almost hung myself?

You: That was a fluke. It’s already happened once, and it won’t again. You’ve done it a dozen times flawlessly since then.

Me: What if I do my shooting star and as I’m flipping down, I swing too far wide and smack my head on the metal railing surrounding the performance area? And my skull bursts like a watermelon at a Gallagher show, and that’s how I die, hanging from a white silk, blood pooling on the floor from my crushed skull, my limbs still automatically holding the landing position of the star, in front of an audience of a hundred people?

murdery railing

You: …well that would be a dramatic way to die.

Me: True.

You: That can’t really happen, right?

Me: I mean… I don’t think so.

You: Luckily, you seem to have worked yourself up sufficiently do avoid the ‘no nerves’ jinx.

Me: Usually I’m just worried about humiliating myself or letting people down. This time I’m equally nervous about looking fat in my leotard and death. So that’s new.

You: Break a leg?

Me: I’m gonna go rock and weep for awhile.

You: Yeah. It’s your process.

To My “Friend” Who Sells the Thing

Dear “Friend”,

It’s so nice of you to reach out and reconnect with me! I can’t believe it’s been so long since we graduated/ran that Ragnar/worked together/met in the ladies room that one time when we were both super drunk and you let me borrow your lipstick and we decided to take selfies together. Time. It just keeps trucking along, doesn’t it?

As we are friends on social media, I have noticed that you’re taking on a new business venture. Good for you! I’m all for self-improvement and am happy to see my “friends” pursuing success. That said, I appreciate you taking time to send me a personal message to let me know, just in case I missed all 8 of your posts over the last 3 days about how excited you are to “be [your] own boss”, “empower other women to meet their full potential”, and in general “help others become better versions of themselves”.

You know what’s funny? Our mutual friend who also sells that product you’re selling, also sent me a message awhile back. It was nearly identical to the one you just sent me! No, like literally, most of the words were the same. The beginning was different, because she mentioned how we used to eat lunch together in Jr. High, and you talked about how fun it was when we took tap class together when we were 8, but after that, it was pretty much interchangeable. Isn’t that hilarious? I guess this thing you both are doing just elicits the exact same feelings of passion, and desire to convey it to others, in both of you.

Again, thank you for thinking of me, but at this time I’m not interested in purchasing the product you are selling. I’m also not interested in being my own boss (under you, of course, and the large, wealthy, corporation you represent) and selling your product, either. It’s not that I don’t want to help you support your family or that I don’t want to see you pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. I do! And I totally get that you believe in your product. I just feel like it’s possible I could get the same results in “before” and “after” pictures without your product if I just change the lighting, smile, suck in, and flex a little better. Also, putting my hand on my hip and adding eyeliner and mascara, plus better fitting pants, seems to do the trick at my house. And the thing is, I have my own family to support, and bootstraps to pull up on. So giving you my credit card to auto-bill monthly and send me products I don’t want and won’t use, makes it harder for me to do that.

Anyway, I hope you’re well, and good luck to you! Not that you asked, but I’m well, too. I’m not sure if you use social media much, because you’ve never liked a single one of my amusing anecdotes or pictures of my happy family over the 7 or so years we’ve been “friends”, or interacted with me in any way until now, but I’d love to see more of you online or in person. Unless you’re too busy with your new business. Then I guess we’ll just continue as we were.

Sincerely,

Your “Friend”

 

Weekend Reflections: The Burgundy and Circus Edition

I went to the mall Friday, and EVERYTHING WAS BURGUNDY. It’s apparently a whole thing for fall. I reject the trend. I’m rallying a network of support. Feel free to join our cause:

burgandy is gross text 1

burgundy is gross text 2

 

Or wear your stupid ankle-length, flannel, sleeveless, burgundy and black plaid, faux-boho/grunge dress all fall and look like a dumbass. I don’t care.

***

Facebook updated their mobile app at some point, and now the notifications sometimes say things like Jenny recently liked a photo you are tagged in. Sometimes it still just says Jenny liked a photo you are tagged in. I haven’t been able to discern the reason Facebook makes this distinction, but it means that when I open my notifications and quickly scan through, sometimes I think it says Jenny REALLY liked a photo you were tagged in, and before I can help myself I think, “Oh, that’s so nice! I wonder what made her really like that one? Like why did she like it more than the other one? Was she just liking the other one out of obligation, but this one she actually, genuinely likes? What’s wrong with the other picture? Do I look fat in it? The other picture must actually be humiliating in some way I didn’t see. I should delete it. OMG, what if all of my pictures are humiliating in some way I’m not seeing? I SHOULD DEFINITELY DELETE ALL MY PICTURES RIGHT NOW. Except the one Jenny really likes. That one’s probably OK.”

Dear Facebook, Please quit fucking with my self-esteem. It’s like really stressful for me.

***

I performed at an event this weekend. It was a circus-themed fundraiser for Phoenix Children’s Hospital. It went well, although I’m still learning the ins and outs of aerial performance and there are still some issues I’m not sure how to handle. For instance:

1. I can get through the 15 minute sets in the air, with a general amount of grace. I feel good about my tricks and poses, things are fairly smooth, and everyone is taking lots of pictures and seems to be enjoying the show. But when it’s time for me to come down, and I’ve literally got sweat dripping into my clown makeup, my heart rate is at 200, and I just need a glass of water and a towel, apparently I still need to take pictures with people and field compliments without looking like I’m going to pass out or throw up on anyone. This level of professionalism is something I need to work on.

2. What to do when drunk people insist on engaging with you while you’re performing.

Desoto gig 1

I went with, “You’re going to need to step back now unless you want me to kick you in the face,” but I feel like there might have been a more graceful way to react.

3. I’m not sure I can do any gigs unless I have my husband assisting. So… I’m just going to go ahead and put that on my talent contract stipulations from now on. In addition to picking all the brown M&Ms out of the bowl in my dressing room, and leaving seven perfectly chilled Diet Cokes in the mini fridge (sure, you can substitute Diet Pepsi if Coke products aren’t available, IF  YOU WANT TO GET FIRED), I need you to provide my husband with an all access pass so he can:

  • Climb ladders when they look rickety and I don’t want to
  • Hold both a glass of water and a glass of wine for me at all times so I can switch off when I feel like it
  • Be in charge of the designated spray rosin and flipflop area
  • Create and hang DO NOT TOUCH signs for us when we get paranoid someone will swing on the silks when they’re not in use
  • Tell me I don’t look fat and I’m going to be awesome 12 times in the three minutes before I perform

I really can’t be expected to work without him. It’s just not optional.

Despite those struggles, the event seemed to go well, and afterward I was glad I did it. Beforehand I spent the three preceding days and nights asking myself why, WHY, do I get myself into things like this because I’m obviously too old and fat and ridiculous to be an aerial performer. Why can’t I just stay home like a normal person? What is wrong with me??? I’m a goddamn idiot, and I don’t know what’s good for me, that’s what’s wrong.

But that’s just “my process”. It’s an artist thing. It’s how I do my best work.

Eliz 1