Thinking Aloud: Out of the Closet

I thought I had told this story on this blog before, and I’ve been hunting for it for the past couple of days. Turns out, I haven’t told this story in this space. So here goes.

One evening, I was, as per, in Chris and Tom’s dorm room. We had ordered a $5 pizza (and pop) from a pizza place around the corner — R.I.P. Corleone’s. It was probably during finals, and we probably had contraband vodka to help us fall asleep when we were done cramming.

Chris and Tom were a year younger than I. We were all in the Red Masquers, the Duquesne theater group. Chris was in pharmacy school, Tom was in liberal arts (like me). They were funny guys, really fun to hang out with, sweet, self-depreciating, smart, and we had similar tastes in music.

As long as I had known Tom and Chris, Chris had pined over pretty girls and Tom was in a long-term hetero relationship with a fellow Masquer.

On this night, Chris and Tom said they had something to tell me.

And then they both told me they were gay.

I remember feeling curious. And I said, in perfect ignorance, “How long have you known you were gay?”

Chris looked at me like I was mentally challenged. “Dawn, how long have you known you were straight?”

I probably looked mentally challenged as I processed his question.

I mean, I knew I was straight my whole life (which was about 21 years long at this point). It was never even a question in my head.

But of course, I didn’t have to struggle with the fact of my sexuality. I was safely and solidly in the majority: white, female, straight. I probably struggled more with being a feminist (or for that matter a Catholic) than I ever did with being straight.

“Huh,” I said intelligently. “That was a really stupid question, wasn’t it?”

“Yeah,” said Chris. “We still love you.”

And I still loved them, too.

I don’t know how my parents raised me (us, presumably) almost completely free from prejudice. Was it simply a matter of language? My parents didn’t use words like faggot or homo as insults — or at all in my recollection; they never, ever (in my hearing at least) uttered the N-word. They didn’t talk about “abnormal” sexuality, and when the AIDS crisis hit, they never assigned any kind of blame to the lifestyle of the population where it first emerged.

At the same time, it’s not as if my parents had gay friends (that they knew of; one of their married friends came out later in his life; he and his wife of many years divorced). They were straight pharmacists living in Erie, PA, not bohemian swingers in San Francisco or New York City.

One of my Twitter acquaintences was having this very conversation with an ignoramous on FB yesterday. By using the “when did you choose to be straight” question, he was trying to point out this person’s hypocrisy. (The person had posted, in short, “I don’t care if you’re gay; I don’t want to hear about your choices; I’m very annoyed.”)

Saying, “I don’t care if you’re gay” is not the same as saying, “I support equal rights.” And further stating, “I have gay friends!” doesn’t mean your words aren’t hateful. Being a bully isn’t just about physically beating people up; it’s in the language you use and the actions you take.

It never occurred to me to not be friends with Chris or Tom because they were gay. It never occurred to me to not be friends with *anyone* because of their skin color or sexual orientation or religion (although I view Mormons very skeptically; sorry, guys). Even in the Catholic church when I was growing up, there was no hate language about gays, lesbians, or other races and religions. (I think mileage varies now, which makes me sad and angry.)

Chris and Tom, with a few very simple words, gave me a complete education about homosexuality. That it was a innate as any sexuality is innate. Whether because of the way I was raised or the way Chris and Tom dealt with coming out, I’ve never bought the “choice” argument. I never chose to be straight — I’m just straight. I didn’t choose to be white, or tall, or flat-chested, or have terrible vision, either.

I have gay and lesbian and bi friends now, although I don’t think of them as “my gay friends”. They’re just my friends (and one is also my hair stylist). I have two male cousins who are gay, one of whom is in a long term relationship. (The other is young, about 21 in fact. I don’t know his relationship status; he’s only been out of the closet for about 2 years now.)

When the DOMA decision came down, I was unexpectedly tearful. Because I realized that all the stuff I take for granted as someone who was able to marry the person I loved — no questions asked — now more people could take that stuff for granted. Legal obstacles of which I didn’t even have to be aware fell down for couples across this country. I think the Supreme Court did the right thing as far as DOMA and Prop 8 (although I am not a constitutional lawyer, so who cares if it was right, as long as they had good legal standing, huh?), and I was proud to be American.

Did you ever have an “aha!” moment about race or sexuality that clarified the issue for you?

Exile in Guyville Turns 20

(Dad, don’t read this.)

If you’ve never heard of Liz Phair’s extraordinary first album Exile in Guyville (which sold under 500,000 copies), it’s okay.

But 20 years ago, it was deeply relevant to a section (an admittedly small section) of the population, namely liberal arts college-attending, sexually active women. And a few indie-minded guys (i.e. these women’s would-be boyfriends). It was ballsy and fucking brilliant. The only other female artist I can think of who comes close to touching on female sexuality as bluntly as Phair is PJ Harvey.

If you are in any shape or form today a hipster (whether male or female), I strongly encourage you to go listen to this album (then also check out Whip-Smart and whitechocolatespaceegg). This is the album that put Matador Records on the map. (Is Matador even still around? I suppose I’ll need to Google that.)

Phair wrote Exile in Guyville as a track-by-track response to the Rolling Stones’ Exile on Mainstreet. It’s a no-holds-barred rock-n-roll album that talks frankly and provocatively about female sex and sexuality.

Think I’m exaggerating?

Here’s a sample of lyrics from “Flower”

“Every time I see your face,
I get all wet between my legs…

Every time I see your face,
I think of things unpure, unchaste,
I want to fuck you like a dog,
I’ll take you home and make you like it…

I want to be your blow job queen.”

How about “Fuck and Run” — which is an under-appreciated classic as far as I’m concerned.

“I want a boyfriend, I want a boyfriend
I want all that stupid old shit like
Letters and sodas, letters and soda

I can feel it in my bones
I’m gonna spend another year alone
It’s fuck and run, fuck and run…”

No other woman musician (that I am aware of) sang like this 20 years ago, when I was busy discovering sex. And I don’t think many are singing like this now. (If I am wrong, please let me know in the comments!) I was also discovering the struggle between the desire to be a sexually independent woman and someone who wanted a boyfriend. The “sexual revolution” as it was played out in the very early 1990s for me was a tricky balance beam of owning my sexual freedom and also my desire for a traditional gender relationship.

As Jessica Grose points out in Slate, Phair does other aspects of being a woman well, too. Motherhood, divorce, the desire for marriage (see “Jealousy” from Whip-Smart, and “Polyester Bride” from whitechocolatesspaceegg). But without “Fuck and Run” she wouldn’t have been heard in the first place.

Phair may be one of the reasons I have distain for acts like Taylor Swift and Britney Spears, and a little more patience for Lady Gaga and P!nk. I tend toward more punk-pop and grit (again, see PJ Harvey) than bubble gum. In my humble opinion, Exile in Guyville deserves a revival.

Although I won’t be able to play it in the car for my kids.

My Top 10 Liz Phair Songs

1. Fuck and Run (Exile)
2. Never Said (Exile)
3. Flower (Exile)
4. Canary (Exile)
5. Supernova (Whip-Smart)
6. Jealousy (Whip-Smart)
7. Polyester Bride (whitechocolatespaceegg [wcse])
8. Perfect World (wcse)
9. Big Tall Man (wcse)
10. Little Digger (Liz Phair) (this one will break your heart)


What album that no one else has heard of hit you right between the eyes?


Yesterday evening after dinner, I went with the kids (all five of them, my three plus Niece and Nephew) to the parking lot so they could ride scooters and bikes.

It was kind of a disaster. I’m not really sure how it got so badly out of control so quickly.

Flora, Niece, and Nephew were mostly fine. Kate and Michael, on the other hand, were whiny, cranky, melt-downy messes that were hard to deal with.

It started when M wanted to ride Kate’s scooter. And Kate deliberately teased him with it (riding very slowly past him, ignoring his pleas). This is actually very unlike Kate. She generally treats M well, seldom teases him, and usually shares with him — without me even having to ask.

Not yesterday. Nope. Nothing doing.

So, while I tried to negotiate that (basically have Kate give M a turn on the scooter), Flora was running up and back to the house, and Nephew and Niece were whizzing around.

The noise (M crying, me yelling — calling, really, to the kids) must have attracted some attention. I don’t know when I noticed him. I think it was when Kate finally started *her* meltdown. She had given M the scooter, and wanted to ride Flora’s bike, and wanted me to help her get rolling, and she was nervous about it (which in all the distraction, I didn’t realize) and I had walked up toward the house to put M’s shoes in our mailbox, and Kate FLIPPED OUT and was screaming “MOMMY MOMMY” and suddenly this guy was there with nothing on but shorts, and I wanted to pick up all the kids and run away.

I am generally not the kind of parent who sees a pedophile in every bush. I give my kids free rein, and I trust them to 1. Stay together and 2. Not do foolish things like get in a stranger’s car. We also recently had a long talk about where to hit someone to hurt if they needed to. I’m free range, but I’m not a dummy, either.

I want to give this guy the benefit of the doubt. I do. He’s probably in his 60s, or so, not overtly threatening, but he is giving me the heebie jeebies.

First of all, I’ve got five kids, one of whom is my 2-year-old — who is not close to me. He’s up in the parking lot with Niece and Nephew. And a scooter.

Second of all, Kate is having the mother of all meltdowns because she is having All The Feelings, and I walked away from her. I even got an “I hate you!” She’s sitting on the ground, and this guy is like, “Hey, pretty girl, don’t yell at your mom.”

Third of all (third of all?), I can now see that M wants to go into the parking lot in front of the gymnasium, which means I won’t be able to see him anymore, and I can also tell Nephew is having a hard time persuading M to come back the other way, and really it’s just a matter of time before Niece and Nephew give up, because, let’s face it, they aren’t babysitters.

But I can’t run to assist them, and leave Kate in this state of high distress, with the guy — again, no shirt, no socks or shoes — hanging about, calling her pretty girl.

So on top of worrying about the kids and being pissed off at Kate, this guy is stressing me out. I know some of my neighbors, and I recognize most of my neighbors, and I have no idea where this guy came from. I’m assuming on of the houses across from the school, but I don’t recognize him.

Somehow or another, I manage to make Kate understand that we will deal with our feelings later (and I will help her ride Flora’s bike) but RIGHT NOW and I mean RIGHT EFFING NOW (I didn’t say effing) we have to go get M.

I walk, Kate follows, this guy follows, still talking. He’s using encouraging words, “You’re a good mom. Pretty girl, you follow your mom; she loves you” but it’s all wrong.

When I get to M, *he* decides to have a meltdown because I won’t let him go his own way (I AM SUCH A MEAN MOM), and as I pick him up and the scooter, the two older kids dart away. This guy by now is down on the street, which is separated from the parking lot by a strip of grass and bushes, and HE’S STILL TALKING TO ME AND MY KIDS. Again, right words, “You’re doing the right thing, Mom. Maybe his feet are hot (M has no shoes on). It’s really tough. You’re a good mom.”

Part of me wants to say to him, “Look, you may be well-meaning, but I got a lot on my hands right now, and your running commentary isn’t helping me.” Another part of me pretty much wants to flip out on the guy, like, “Buddy, get the hell away from me and my kids. You’re a weirdo.”

Most of me just wants the screaming to stop.

Long story short (“Too late!”), I get all the kids back up to the house. I send Niece and Nephew next door for a minute. M gets a short time out for not listening (and also for hitting and biting, oh the joys of having a toddler!), and I have a talk with Kate (somewhat fruitless — she thinks I promised to do something that I don’t recall promising to do, and seeing me walking up to the house made her mad, and she is not in a listening frame of mind), and a longer talk with the two of them.

About The Guy.

I told them that the guy being there stressed me out. I said, “It was a little weird that he was walking around outside without a shirt and shoes on. It was also weird that he saw I was dealing with upset kids and was trying to talk to us. I didn’t like that.

“So, if you all are out, and this guy approaches you, and I’m there, you all come to me. (I had this talk with Niece and Nephew later as well.) If I’m not there, you all come together. You aren’t mean to this person — he’s an adult. You aren’t rude to him, you don’t scream when you see him. You say hi, and tell him you’re going home. And then you come home.”

I kind of scared Flora, and I’m sorry about that. I apologized to her, and I explained I was scared too.

“I’m sure he’s not a bad guy, Flora. I’m probably overreacting. But I’d rather make you a little scared of him, a little freaked out, than tell you nothing’s wrong when I don’t know that.”

Eventually everyone chilled out. We went back to the parking lot, and Kate successfully rode Flora’s bike. And then we came back to the house and had strawberries with whipped cream and chocolate sauce. And everything was better.

I feel like I did the right thing. Sometimes, you just gotta go with your gut, and my gut did not like this guy.

Random Thoughts: The Questions Too Hard To Answer Right Now Edition

Flora, as has been established, asks a lot of questions.

I like that she asks questions, and I am always more than happy to answer most of them (even the ones about sex).

That, as a matter of fact, was question number one today.

1. “Mom, how can there be boy and girl twins?”

I tried explaining that fraternal twins were two separate eggs fertilized at the same time, but I lost her around “sperm”. Which is weird because I thought we had that discussion already.

2. “Mom, how come some people call boys ‘ladies’? Like, gym teachers?”

I can only assume she saw something on TV in which this happened.

What I said: “They are being sarcastic.”

What I wanted to say, but didn’t: “They are being misogynist pigs who think that women are wimpier than men. Let me tell you something, if men were in charge of pregnancy and childbirth, the human race would’ve died out.”

See, Dan? I show restraint occasionally!

3. Kate on the other hand, lobs softball questions.

“Mom, what’s the difference between cupcakes and muffins?”
“Cupcakes have frosting.”

She also sometimes takes things a little further on her own, which I admire.

“Muffins have stuff in them too. Cupcakes don’t.”
“Right! Like fruit or chocolate chips. Very good, Kate.”

4. Michael doesn’t ask too many questions, unless he’s parroting his sisters. But he does say “cup-a-cake” and “pan-a-cake” and that is too cute not to mention.

What’s the hardest question a kid asked you recently?

A Conversation with My Father

So, at the graduation party we attended yesterday, my dad turned to me.

“You know, we did have a sex talk,” he said matter-of-factly.

“We did?” I asked.

“Yep. I thought I would sit down with all three of you. You were probably a senior in high school.”

He got us together, and started to talk about safe sex (apparently). Dr. Bro (who was just Bro at the time) got up to leave.

“Where are you going?” my father asked.

“You said this was about pregnancy,” Bro answered. “I can’t get pregnant.”

Dad told him to sit back down.

I recall exactly none of this.

Dad continued. “It amazing to me that the things I remember most clearly, the things that had the most impact on me, seem to be things that you kids forgot. Perspective is interesting. I remember going through something with Bro at one time that was so incredible to me. And he doesn’t remember it at all.”

I’m not quite sure what the implications about this are for myself and my own fretting. I guess as long as I keep the lines of communication open, like my parents did, even if my children don’t remember it the way I do (if at all), everything will turn out all right.

The other story my dad recalled (which I do remember a little better) was about a family meeting we had. We used to have these about once a week. We all had to tell a high point of the week, and a low point of the week.

“We were at grandma’s house (my mom’s mom). They had a little cubby hole under one of the stairs, and you and I had discovered it. We sat in there talking for, oh, 30-40 minutes. That was the high point of your week. Do you know what the low point of your week was?” I shook my head, although I suspected it had something to do with having to leave that little cubby hole. “Your low point was that your brother found us.” Dad laughed. “That brought home to me that I needed to make one-on-one time for my kids. You probably don’t remember it that way at all.”

He’s right, I don’t remember it that way. But I bet it’s not far off. We didn’t get Dad to ourselves very often, and I probably did love that time with him because of that.

Regardless of my concrete memories, I think what is important is that: He did this stuff. He didn’t know if we would remember it, or how — but that’s not what is important. What matters is the fact that we as parents stay active and engaged with our kids, and do the stuff, say the stuff, teach the stuff that we know is right.

Even if our adult daughters grow up and write blogs about how our parents never talked to us about sex.

I love ya, Dad! Happy Father’s Day.

Sex Talk: Why Do Parents Say “Do as I Say, Not as I Do (Did)”?

(Dad, don’t read this post.)

First some facts: I find the Guttmacher Institute’s reporting about American teens’ sexual activity very reassuring. In the wake of all the hullabaloo about Plan B (the contraceptive pill) and all the 13-year-old girls running out to get it so they could have sex — which REALLY conservative pundits? We’re going right there?? — some fact-based reality is nice to grasp.

Just to throw some stuff out there:

“Only 6% of teens have had sex by age 15.”
“On average, young people have sex for the first time at about age 17.”
“Among sexually experienced teens, 70% of females and 56% of males report that their first sexual experience was with a steady partner.”
“Teen sex is increasingly likely to be described as voluntary.”

So, okay. Why is this stuff important when you’re talking to your kids about sex?

1. Not EVERYONE IS DOING IT. Even among seniors in high school, despite the bragging, not even half of the teens are regularly engaging in sex. This should help take the pressure off our kids to fit into the perceived culture.

2. It’s not inevitable that all of our kids are going to be sexually active before they reach adulthood. So treating teen sex like something that’s just going to happen may not be the go-to strategy to adopt.

These facts help me to breathe a little easier when I think about my children making decisions about sex. Talking to children about the importance of “saving sex for marriage” is not to say “only bad people have sex outside of marriage”. That is certainly not the message I intend to send (because HELLO), but to give my children some strategies for delaying sex until adulthood if possible (after 18) and for making it part of a longer term relationship (something else their mom didn’t bother with for the most part).

My buddy Carpetbagger pretty much addressed a lot of the questions I am constantly asking myself about talking to my kids about sex as they get older. I’m just reproducing some of his comment here.

“…Do we tell kids ‘do as I say, not as I do (did)’ because…

a) it’s a religious teaching that most of us ignored, but nevertheless, it’s still a religious teaching?

b) premarital sex damaged our souls and we don’t want to see their souls damaged likewise?

c) we are scared to death of our daughters getting pregnant, or our sons getting girls pregnant?

d) we don’t want them catching things?

e) we consider our premarital sexual experiences to be huge mistakes that we regret, and we are trying to spare them that kind of remorse?

f) all of the above?”

Let me start out by saying that, in my opinion, children don’t need to know all the details of their parents’ sex lives. That doesn’t mean I’m going to lie and tell them I was a virgin when I got married — although I’m not going to tell them that any time soon. It’s none of their business. I have no intentions of giving them a blow-by-blow account of my sexual past. Which I think I can safely avoid while still not lying outright. (I may be proven wrong on this. Time will tell.)

So, to run this down:

a) Yes, I am doing my best to teach my children what the Catholic church teaches. I will expect them to have doubts and ask questions, and I pray hard for the guidance to help them explore these things. There are a lot of issues I have with the Catholic church. I expect when my kids are adults, it will be easier to talk about the questions together. In the meantime, I’m going to mouth the party line. Not because I think it’s the end-all-be-all of answers for all time. But for now, it works.

b) and e) Yes and no? I had pre-martial sex, and not just a little of it. For awhile, I treated sex as very pleasant exercise. I was also very careful (duh). Do I regret having premarital sex? Yes, some of it. Not all and every instance; the premarital sex I had inside of committed relationships was vastly superior to one-night stands or short-term sexually-based relationships. And sex in marriage is, in my experience, hands down, the very, very best. This is kind of the version of my sex life that I plan to share with my kids if I have to.

Using hyperbole, which the Catholic church tends to do — i.e. Tom’s example of “damaging our souls” — is likely to inspire plenty of eye-rolling from teens. However, talking in terms of remorse — i.e. I’m not really proud of my sexual past, I do have some regrets — I think that is honest, and I think kids respect honesty.

c) and d) YES! I don’t want my children to become parents before they are ready. I don’t want them to catch herpes or (God forbid) HIV. As much as I will tell them why saving sex for marriage/LTR is important spiritually, it is even more important for their emotional and physical well-being. I have some resources outside of school-based health classes that I plan to use as my children get older. I’m going to take my daughters to a midwife or gynecologist (something my mom never did) when they are 16, if not earlier. I’m going to teach my kids about their bodies and in as much as I can about the power of sex.

If my children decide to have sex before they are married, which is fairly likely, I want them to be able to come to me without fearing punishment. I want them to come to me about birth control and sexual health. I don’t want them coming to me when it’s “too late” as it were. So I have to start having these conversations. I’m trying not to freak out about it, because that will close off communications.

Once they are adults? I doubt they will talk to me about their sex lives. I will have to hope that I can give them the confidence to know what they want, to know that waiting for a mutually loving and respectful relationship is superior to anything else, that they will have the tools to remain safe. I don’t think sex is bad or dirty, I don’t think bodies are bad or dirty, and these lessons more than anything, are things I want my kids to internalize.

I had sex because I was curious, because I didn’t know any other way to explore my sexuality, because I had problems with authority. Losing my virginity at 18 wasn’t all that fantastic; it was something I did to get it over with. That’s kind of screwed up. I don’t want my children to have sex for the first time just to not be virgins. Granted, sex got better; I learned more about my body (confession: I had started masturbating as a teen), and had the confidence to ask for what I wanted. I didn’t get in situations where I was in danger. I had the further confidence to insist on condoms. And when I did get into an LTR, I went on the pill, and discovered that sex in an LTR was better than hooking up.

Well, got that off my chest. I have a few years to see how all this thinking plays out in real life, I suppose.

Random Thoughts: The Even More Too Much Information Edition

Yet another reason my blogging has fallen off: My dad reads my blog.

As of late, there’s some sexual politics news out there that I would like to dissect and discuss, there’s that new book about women and sexuality that I do plan to review, and, basically, I want to have some conversations about sex. Which would involve my sex life. Which is not, generally, something you talk with your dad about.

So, disclaimers? I’ve done them in the past, the “Dad don’t read this post” notice. I don’t know if my father proceeds to read those posts, and if he does… well, I’ve done my part, right?

Plus, there’s this: The way I talk or may talk about sex, sexual politics, sexuality, it may not line up with the whole Catholic church thing.

I’ve declaimed this before. I’m not a fantastic Catholic. I have strayed very far outside the Catholic teachings about sex in general. I even recently had a conversation about the church’s teaching on homosexuality that showed what a heretic I really am.

Short version: The Catholic church doesn’t hate homosexuals, and doesn’t teach that homosexuality is a sin. As with all sexual things, the Catholic church teaches sex only within marriage, and marriage is only between one man and one woman. So far, so good. I go off the rails right about here: What the church actually teaches about sex may not be what God actually feels (if God could be said to feel, per se) about sex. We humans don’t really know what God feels (per se) about *anything*, although yes, we have the Bible to guide us. Of course, the downward spiral of this conversation is: humans wrote the Bible, and a lot of guy humans actually decided what went in the Bible, and now my feminist sensibilities and my Catholic sensibilities are getting a little riled with each other.

At this point, I should probably go to confession, right?

Of course, too, there’s the whole teaching my children thing, which is going to possibly require a lot of toeing the line and/or cognitive dissonance. Or, depending on your point of view, outright hypocrisy. I’ve been here before. I’m not sure how I feel about it.

All three of my children will receive the same basic message: Sex is for marriage. Sex is a good thing, a gift from God, reserved for (again) the sacrament of marriage.

After that message, comes… what exactly?

Look, my parents didn’t talk to me about sex. And there’s nothing that can be done about that at this point. I know what the result of that was for me (and I’m not quite prepared to spill right now, I’m still struggling with this “talk about sex but my dad reads my blog” thing).

I’ve been pretty open with my children about their bodies so far. And I know I have to talk to them about sex and sexuality, in little doses as they get older, in age appropriate ways. And honestly.

And that’s all I got for today.

Do your parents read your blog? And does it freak you out or not?

Please, Wear Clothes That Fit

I was going to direct this toward teenage girls (based on what I saw in church yesterday), but I decided to mention guys upfront first so I am not attacked as a bitter old woman who just hates the hot young things running around in short shorts.

It is summer time, and that means the clothes are coming off. Which, fine. I don’t mind a nice piece of eye candy (see: Magic Mike with Channing Tatum).

Guys, most of you are not eye candy. I’m sorry to break it to you. At the pool side, beach, or water park, little clothing is acceptable. But if you think you’re turning on your neighbor by mowing the lawn without a shirt, I have some bad news for you. For the most part, you’ve got a beer belly and/or back hair. Your girlfriend or wife has to live with that. The rest of the world doesn’t.

Teenage girls of the world: At the risk of sounding like my own mother: are you really going out like that?

I understand the need to fit in by being fashionable and wearing the latest trends. However, you can be fashionable without having to pick your shorts out of your butt cracks or, uh, other nether crevices. Clothes that are too small and too tight ARE NOT ATTRACTIVE. Teenage boys (and some grown men) may try to convince you otherwise, but please trust me: a little mystery is attractive. A woman who can move comfortably in her clothing without picking at various parts of the fabric will get more positive attention than a chick spilling out everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong, spilling out of your top or bottom will get you attention. However, bulging out of your shorts and/or tank tops reduces you to your lumps. You are more than your lumps.

You can find short shorts that actually fit. Unless you can’t, in which case think about skirts, walking shorts, or another trend that is good for your body type. NOT EVERYONE CAN WEAR THE SAME CLOTHES and that is okay. While fitted t-shirts can look nicer than strappy tank tops, be aware of how fitted they are.

Also, learn how to buy bras that fit — adult women, you can benefit from this too. A bra that leads to bulging around the straps is too small. If, when you remove your bra at the end of the day, you have deep red grooves on your torso or your shoulders, you should think about scheduling a professional bra fitting. Your back will thank you.

Lastly: Flip-flops are not the only option for summer footwear.

Parents: Teach your children to dress. I’m not saying that kids should walk around in ankle-length skirts with high necklines, or boys should only wear khaki pants with button up shirts. Shop with them. Especially your daughters. Yes, once they are teenagers, they are going to wear what they want, and they are going to flout all your rules. But if you teach them that it’s possible to be stylish without being uncomfortable all the time, they will thank you later.

Of course, this is all coming from a 40-something who wears green or purple skinny jeans when the mood strikes. Mileage may vary.

What fashion trend do you wish would die?


Writing these posts creates a lot of cognitive dissonance for me.

On one hand, I realize while writing them, how extensive grief is — MY grief, for Gabriel, is long-lasting and pervasive. Given a conversation I had with Dan earlier this week, I feel secure in saying that he feels similarly.

On the other hand, I realize that in spite of my grief, how full and blessed my life is.

Ten years ago, my life didn’t end.

Life as I knew it, sure. Life as I expected it to be, definitely.

And my husband and I went on, with giant-sized holes in our hearts, and we built — continued to build — our lives. Around that hole, in spite of that hole, and without shrinking that hole very much at all.

My evening last night revolved around two things: the white flowers I purchased for Gabriel’s grave and picking up a Rainbow Loom for my girls, who had fabulous school years and were being duly rewarded.

Today the girls and I left the flowers on Gabriel’s grave and headed out of town for the weekend to visit a friend and her daughter (and other friends). (M stayed at home with Daddy.)

Grief doesn’t end.

Grief doesn’t end our lives.

I would have realized this, about grief, sooner or later, I suppose. I sometimes wish it had been later, but then again, I don’t know what my life looks like without this grief.

Ten years. A decade.

And still the tightening of my throat, and the tears.

And still the joys and frustrations of being a parent to live, lively children.

And still.

Random Thoughts: The Too Much Information Edition

Another reason I haven’t been blogging as often — Hello! Welcome to my internal stream of consciousness — is because there are WAY too many issues I could write about, most of them centered on women’s issues.

I’m a feminist, by the way. Have I mentioned that?

Anyhoo, here are just a few things I’ve had thoughts about in the past, oh, 24 hours.

1. That poll about working mothers. Or women breadwinners. Or however you want to parse that poll.

First of all, 51% think female breadwinners — i.e. a woman supporting a family with children under 18 — are a negative thing?

Hello, gentlemen. Welcome to the 21st century. Women have been entering the workforce in large numbers for 40+ years now. They do more than become nurses and teachers. Get used to it.

The most interesting take I read about the results from this poll came from Will Saletan at Slate, who tried parsing the numbers differently, to see if age, marital status, and/or parenthood effected one’s positions on these social questions. Really good stuff here.

What do you think? Has your age, whether or not you’re married or single, and whether you’re a parent changed your views? How or why?

2. The age-old question: What Do Women Want?

Someone wrote a book! Ballsy.

Seriously, though, I am fascinated by this research. One of the upshots of the science explored in this book is that women (as a sex) may not be the shy, monogamous creatures that society paints them as. Author Daniel Bergner goes toe-to-toe with evolutionary psychology (*cough* crackpots *cough*) in this book.

I just ordered it from Amazon. I’ll let you know what I think! (Of course I will.)

3. #FBRape and how an Internet campaign took on a giant — and won. (Kinda.) (I totally want to be Jessica Valenti when I grow up [profanity ahead].)

4. A little outrage over some other women stuff from fellow Pittsburgh blogger @scarletfire. (No. No I’m not OK with it.)

5. Grin and bear it. Bear with me.
Not BARE. C’mon, people. (No links. Just my latest pet peeve in the grammar/spelling wars.)