And today. And boobs.

I’m having a hard time today. I’m having a hard time coping with the grief that I feel for so many people I don’t know. I’m having a hard time building bridges instead of walls. I’m having a hard time focusing on being happy and present, when my mind wants to wander to a black hole filled with fear and anxiety. I want to go home from work. I want to pick up my child early. I want to eat something fluffy and cheesy for dinner. I want to put a lot of hard shit on pause for a while.

I know a lot of people are feeling that.

But I can’t. Not today. Because the grief has to be grieved. And the hard conversations have to be had. We have to get through this, not over this. All of this. Not just the acute stuff, but the big stuff. We have to keep talking and debating and saying honest things to one another so we can make progress. And it’s tiring. It’s always so tiring. I know. Because I’m married. And that’s all you do when you’re married. Have hard conversations and fight the urge to give up. Because giving up is so easy now and so fucking hard later. (And because I don’t want to die alone. So…)

We have to keep going.

And while I can’t make that easier or better, I can distract you for a while by talking about boobs. My boobs.

My boobs are terrible. My boobs were sacrificed on the alter of over-achieving parenting. After two merciless weeks (because pro-breastfeeding people can be BRUTAL; don’t argue) of attempting to get Aut to latch, it became abundantly clear that he wasn’t gonna. His mouth and my nipple were a failed arranged marriage. The kidney transplant that wasn’t going to take. He did not want my boob. (Which, merciless breastfeeding people were also cruel about. So fuck you, again.) Because organic, imported from Germany formula was going to poison my child, give him autism, stunt his mental development, and keep him from getting into college, I only had one choice. I had to pump. I had to hook my titties up to a pump four times a day for 9.5 months. I pumped first thing in the morning. I pumped in the only bathroom in my entire building (which happened to be unisex), while evil bitches knocked ceaselessly and told me it was “unfair” that I was using the bathroom to pump. I pumped when I got home from work and before bed. Sometimes I would accidentally oversleep and wake up in a soggy pile of bed linens. I pumped on airplanes and in shopping malls. I pumped in parks and in my car. I pumped and pumped and pumped.

And when you pump, you squeeze. You treat your breasts like misbehaving Plah Doh. You squish them and poke at them. You live in a constant state of fear about not getting all the milk out and ending up with clogged ducts. (Been there. Spent 5 days in the hospital. And kept pumping.) You manhandle them in ways that young boys dream about.  You shake them and mash them to make sure every, single drop of that delicious, liquid gold makes its way out.

And while you’re breastfeeding, your tits look fantastic. If you’ve ever forgotten, go to a children’s swimming lesson. You can tell the infant moms from the toddler moms by tits alone. The infant moms have perky, swollen boobs that have a strange mix of utility and sex. The toddler moms look like they dropped their tits into their bathing suits and then lost them. Poof. Gone. While you’re breast feeding, there is all sorts of blood flow and tissue and milk working in glorious symphony to make you look like a porn star. It’s amazing.

What you don’t know is that they will deflate. You’ll wean your little angel, and for a few weeks you’ll be like “SWEET! No more milk, but my breasts are amazing still and everyone was wrong. I’m going to end up with incredible post-baby boobs!” And you’ll be naive and wrong. And premature.

Within about 6 months the sag appears. The “life” that your boobs had begins to die. They take on a new relationship with your belly. Rather than resting-on or grazing your belly occasionally, they flop upon it. With a harrumph. For me, the worst part was the stretch marks. The incredible 40 EE breasts that I developed while pregnant and breastfeeding (I am not fucking with you– 40 EE– A, B, C, D, E, EE) had stretched and pulled the skin of my boobs to the point of no return. All that squeezing and kneading and mashing while pumping only made it worse. I had ruined boobs. I had… sad sacks.

And body shaming doesn’t really affect me. What affects me is when people talk about celebrating my sad, wounded boobs. I do not want to celebrate them. I want to mourn them. And then have them lifted, tucked, pumped, and injected.

But for now, they just sort of sit there in my bra. Like little puddles of forgotten pudding in a flavor no one likes (except your husband, because he’d eat spoiled pudding in shit flavor if it meant he could have pudding whenever he wanted). Every now and then I take them out and look at them, give them a pep talk, and then watch them retreat. They’ve given up. Which I understand. I don’t blame them.

 

 

What I’ve learned from my thoughtful, pro-gun, Republican friends

Passions are boiling right now. It’s impossible to go on Facebook without a full-frontal assault of opinions, petitions, and arguments. There is plenty of idiocy– on both sides– and plenty of people using passion and desire as a valid argument, also on both sides. The problem is that passion doesn’t solve anything. Arguing two sides of the same issue with logic (or otherwise) that only appeals to those who agree with you is pointless. Unless we can start discussing ideologies, rather than issues, we aren’t going to make headway. It simply won’t happen. Law, lobbies, and logic won’t allow it.

I have a unique view of the unfolding debate. I’m a Texas-born, New Englander. I’m a well documented liberal. I even drove a Prius for a while. But I have a deep roots in a part of the country that doesn’t give two shits about my East Coast diplomacy. On a range of issues from education to agriculture, guns, and business, what is seen as “obvious” and “common sense” here on the right coast, is seen as absurd and elitist when I head south. And before you crinkle your nose and get haughty, it has nothing to do with stupidity. I rarely engage in conversations with idiots. There are two legitimate sides of these arguments. For every issue I take a stand on, I later find I didn’t see the full picture. I didn’t do my due diligence of walking in someone else’s shoes. Regardless of whether my mind is changed, my understanding and perspective are broadened.

That said, I’ve developed a unique ability to understand another opinion deeply without agreeing with it. What frustrates me the most about watching my fellow liberal friends “argue” is that they aren’t arguing the right thing. In fact, they shouldn’t be arguing at all. Two mules with different, stubborn views are just two asses. The issue is not that my pro-gun friends aren’t seeing the issue clearly, or I’m not being clear enough in my articulation of the problem. The issue is that they do not agree. Like two divorced parents in a custody battle. They disagree. And they only way they will ever get anywhere is when they stop making it about themselves and find a common ground… like, I don’t know… their children?

But it’s important for those in favor of gun control to understand a few very key points. As a fellow liberal, I hope you’ll listen and understand so that when you engage in these conversations, you can do so without the blind passions that keep us from moving forward.

  1. Understand guns. The debate that is boiling about the AR-15, including the term “assault rifle” is quickly becoming a red herring. The AR-15 is not a hunting rifle. It’s a people killing rifle. But it’s not an automatic weapon, meaning you have to pull the trigger each time you fire. There are modifications that can be made, but they are illegal. It does carry a magazine, meaning the shooter doesn’t have to load the gun between shots. But it’s not an automatic weapon.(Which are already banned.) If you want gun control, you need to be articulate about the kinds of guns you’re talking about. You also need to recognize that saying “that one is bad” doesn’t help anyone. The military grade weapons that are being used synonymously with the AR-15 are different guns and there are “gun control” measures in place for acquiring those– sometimes heavy ones. Banning the AR-15 is like banning mayo. Miracle Whip is still out there. Focus on the type of gun, not the gun itself.
  2. Know the meaning and the intent of the 2nd amendment. Our founding fathers were fleeing a tyrannical government and wanted to ensure that the citizens of our country never faced the same. They were ensuring our ability to protect ourselves and our families. It was smart. Imperfect, and blind to the future, but fundamentally smart. Yes, those were muskets. But muskets were also what the tyranny was armed with. And that’s how this argument becomes circular really fast. If the question is “how armed?” then ask that question. But arguing against the 2nd amendment in its entirety is fruitless.
  3. Understand the phrase “the answer is more guns.” It took me the very longest to come to terms with this one, namely because I disagree the most vehemently. But that’s exactly why it’s important to understand it. To confident, legal gun owners, Pulse would have ended very differently if the shooter was met with an armed populace. Because they would have stopped it. People still would have died. But the evil would have been stopped earlier. Many of these people have military, police, or hunting experience. These are individuals with more experience and familiarity with… well… killing. From that perspective, it’s easier to fathom the act of protecting oneself. For most of us, the idea of packing heat at Salsa night is absurd. Or at a movie theater. Or a restaurant. To those who know, and love, guns– legally– they serve a very specific purpose. Responding that those who believe this are “dumb” or “uneducated” is childish. It also makes it even harder to have a real conversation. Disagreeing doesn’t make someone dumb. (Though believe me. I’ve heard plenty of really dumb arguments.)
  4. Read up on your gun control. Just do. Because not knowing makes it easier to undermine you. There are loopholes and bad, bad plans, but know what exists. Read about your state and understand how the process works.
  5. Be realistic. The largest mass shooting in US history wasn’t Orlando. It was the slaughter of the Lakota indians at the Massacre at Wounded Knee. And it happened under the pretense of disarmament. Since we didn’t recognize American indians as citizens until decades later, it “technically” doesn’t count. But it does count. And it’s a massacre that pro-gun folks know very, very well. When you say things like “disarming for the greater good,” you’re essentially reading from a transcript of that massacre. And history has a way of repeating itself.

I don’t have the answer to this problem. Not even close. I’m frustrated by the lack of transparency, momentum, and action on all sides. But I know that as a nation and a people, we will get no where arguing. We also won’t get anywhere with unfounded, passionate debate. If we want to affect change, we have to be smart, empathetic, and articulate. And, as every good lawyer’s daughter knows, that starts with knowing the other side as well as you know your own.

** I fully expect to be updating this as my friends berate me… 🙂

 

 

The Saddest Anger

Let’s put aside gun control and Islamic extremists for a second. I’m not going to talk about those things because right now I don’t care about them. Right now I care about people. Human beings. Not policies or all the shit we cannot fucking agree on to save (literally) our lives. I want to talk about people.

I am not a lesbian. (At least not actively. But don’t completely count me out.) I am a heterosexual woman in a heterosexual relationship with a heterosexual man. And you know what? It doesn’t fucking matter. It doesn’t matter that it wasn’t 50 heterosexuals who were shot on Saturday. Because it was 50 people. 50 human beings. Each one of those people was the center of a small galaxy. They have mothers and brothers and fathers and partners and jobs. They were alive and that put them on an equal playing field with me and everyone else.

I overheard a woman at the Y talking about the shooting. That’s how I found out. I heard “shooting” and “Orlando” and immediately Googled it to find out what she was talking about. I was stunned. I was hurt. I felt physical pain– a tightening of my face and chest that made it hard to breathe. A vibrant, happy place filled with men and women seeking solidarity and joy amongst friends and comrades became a slaughter house. And then I was flooded with the names and faces of my gay friends, people I consider as close as family, closer than my blood siblings. Zach. Matt. Matt. Matt. (So many gay Matts…) Marc. Ana Maria. Dylan. Abby. Phillip. Tim. Brian. Brad. Mark. David. Frank. Lizz. Erin. Jason. Carly. Seana. And on and on. I thought of their children, so many of whom go to school with my son. I imagined their lives and their loved ones and the unbearable, unfathomable pain that would rip through my tiny corner of the world if even one of them was a victim of this kind of violence. Then I imagined it happening to 50 them at once. Because maybe they went to the same birthday celebration. Or had marked Latin Night in their calendars months before.

And then I imagined our children. Sitting at the Y, watching little kids cannonball into the water, I imagined their futures. I imagined many of them being brave enough to come out. Brave enough to face cruelty and uncertainty for the hope of a truer, happier existence. I imagined my own tiny son. Because he too may be gay. He too may one day go dance Salsa on a Saturday night with his friends. I tried to fathom the grief of those parents, friends, and families. And I couldn’t. Because that pain is too big. That pain is impossible to comprehend.

And I still won’t talk about policy. I won’t talk about guns or Islamic extremists. I won’t talk about the mental health crisis eating its way through our society. I won’t talk about the homophobia, the racism, the shaming, or the bigotry. Because I shouldn’t have to. Because this is about people. And that should be enough. Whatever the root, whatever the cause, we should be united on every front to find a solution. We have to come to a common understanding about the value of human life. Above hate, above extremism, even above fucking gorillas.

Every human life is worth preserving. Every child deserves a chance. Hate is not a cancer. Hate is a choice. No disagreement should end with with a bullet. No difference should result in a massacre. There is no tyranny greater than our own apathy, our indifference to the lives and struggles of our neighbors. Peace is not easy. Love is not without its obstacles. But no individual party, person, or policy, can dictate the outcome. We cannot continue to do nothing because it will not do everything.

We have created this world. We have allowed these deaths. We have enabled these causes.

And it’s time to do something about it.

I love you. But probably won’t die for you.

This morning, whilst driving to work by myself (I usually drive in with the husband), someone on the radio was talking about how much they loved someone. It was a young, sort of dramatic, Valley-girl-esque gal, and she was going on and on about how she would like totally die for them. And because I was alone and tend to be a little fucked up in the head, I started thinking through the concept of dying for someone. And, as it turns out, no. Just no.

I ran through a couple of extremely tragic scenarios involving myself and my child (swerving traffic, oncoming bullet fire, an unruly native with a bow and arrow) and decided that I would instinctively throw my body in front of his in order to shield him from the danger. In my mind, however, I always ended up maimed and famous, but never dead. Which made it much, much easier to swallow. That said, I do feel comfortable saying that after 26 minutes of really thinking this through, I would, likely, maybe be willing to die for my child. (So I pass the mother test. I obviously love him more than I love myself. Win.)

Then I ran through a couple of similarly tragic scenarios with the husband and while I could imagine throwing a mom arm or screaming NOOOOOO!! emphatically, I just couldn’t rationalize dying in lieu of him. Like…why? Besides being heroic, what would I gain by ceasing to exist in place of my husband? There are plenty of studies about how sad and terrible it is for children to grow up motherless, but fatherless? I mean, not so much. Some of them get a little slutty or marry someone who looks like their father, but otherwise…

Is it because I couldn’t possibly go on without him? That my grief would be too much to bear and I’d rather be dead? I just don’t think so. I’d be really, really sad, and probably never wake up on time for work again, but those things kind of pale in comparison to being dead. Is it a potential question? Like which one of us has more left to add to society? Because my husband doesn’t even know how to work a glue gun and those insane toddler birthday parties are not going to plan themselves. So, me. Duh.

Then I started thinking about whether I would expect the husband to throw his body in front of oncoming traffic to save me. And the answer is absolutely. I took the last few minutes of my drive to try to reconcile how completely fucked up that is, but I couldn’t. I tried to talk myself into believing that we were on equal footing (woo feminism!) and the world is a Darwinian place, but in the back of my mind I couldn’t help but think, “he better fucking throw himself in front of me.”

Partially it’s because I do not even a little bit trust my husband to throw me an appropriately morose and fantastic funeral. He’d likely use a recent photo, which is completely unacceptable. There’s no telling who he would ask to speak or what music he would choose. A few years ago I told him I wanted there to be a signature cocktail rimmed with sugar and my ashes and he acted like I was kidding, which is a pretty sure indicator that he’s going to get the entire fete wrong.

And I’m not saying his inability to throw me a good funeral (or even choose a good obituary photo) are valid reasons for him to die instead of me. But in defense of myself, if something terrible happened to him whilst saving my life, I’d make sure that shit ended up on Ellen and there was a fund set up. I’d even let him cross to the other side wearing a hat and fleece. I’d even make sure no one spoke at his funeral so that he could maintain his shroud of mystery, even in death.

For now, I hope that no one get’s hit by a bus. But if it does happen, and somehow I am overcome by the urge to sacrifice myself, can someone please just make sure the photo is from sometime between 2010-2012? Because he will be too grief stricken, I’m sure.

 

 

Real life shit: Underwear

I paid $320 for a concert ticket to a sold out Beyonce stadium show tonight. Face value. There’s a 30% chance I am going to be standing in the rain. There’s a 100% chance of hair-ruining humidity. There’s a 150% chance that I’ve spend the last 15 hours being an 80-year-old woman about this entire thing.

Let’s rewind. Ten years ago (hell, five years ago) a very different gal would be going to this concert. I’d spend the whole morning rocking out to Beyonce. I’d probably take off the day from work, go buy a new, slightly skanky outfit, and start drinking at noon. Beyonce concert day would be a national holiday. Instead, I spend the last four days googling parking, weather maps, rain policies, and how the fuck you do your hair if you have to go to work and then go to a Bey show and you have thin, frizzy hair and it’s probably going to rain.

This morning, I spent over an hour mulling over my footwear– not because I wanted to find the sexiest, most Bey-worthy pair, but because I wanted to make sure that my footwear was comfortable and cute, but not so cute that a deluge of rain was going to make me sad and ruin my shoes. (Landed on Tom’s. I’m 100% certain Beyonce does not endorse Tom’s.) I meticulously packed a bag with a towel (in case I’m wet and get cold in the car), a change of footwear (flip flops, obviously), a change of clothes, a toothbrush (in case I get stranded somewhere south of Boston and have to sleep), my Kindle (because, traffic), two bottles of Fever Tree Ginger Beer and a child’s Thermos of Tito’s. I set two alarms to remember the tickets, took out a budgeted amount of cash from the ATM, and texted everyone going with me the purse policy at the stadium.

In the last few years, I have become the most uncool person I know. And we’re not even to the worst part.

Underwear.

About the time I gave up trying to find anything concert-worthy in my Birkenstock-laden, flowy-mom-top stuffed, sad sack of a closet, I realized that I needed to put on the right pair of underwear. Because at this stage of my life, underwear and make or break pretty much anything.

For many, many years I exclusively wore lycra blended, slightly sexy, lacy hipster undies. They were permanently half way up my ass, but I hardly noticed. My ass was so tight and shapely that a little lace in my crack didn’t affect my day. I looked so cute shimmying out of my jeans that I wouldn’t have cared if I had a front and back wedgie. When I got pregnant, I learned the hard, sweaty way that you should never, ever have anything that is not 100% cotton near your vagina in the summer. Domestic terrorism was a smaller threat than my summer-crotch in synthetic fabrics. Lesson learned.

As I got older (and heavier), I started to dip my toe in fuller coverage undies. Having your entire ass covered (especially when it’s a little squishy), is a mother fucking revelation. The amount of brain power that I was subconsciously wasting trying to ignore my half wedgie was staggering. Not to mention, once your ass is not 25, getting a wedgie out is not a simple tug. It’s a full on dig. You have to search for your underwear between your cheeks. You absolutely cannot attempt to get your panties out in a hallway because your hand can get lost and before you know it, people are streaming out of a meeting and there you are fisting yourself.

Once my whole ass was covered, I started playing around with higher waistlines. Suddenly underwear went from “the thing that keeps me from humping my pants” to a tool. Depending on how high you’re willing to go, your undies can serve a purpose. They can tuck and suck and shape. More importantly, they can give you a little hug and tell you you’re good enough.

Which is exactly what I need my undies to do today. I need them to tuck in my tummy, lift me up, and smooth out the lumps so that my DvF mom top looks like it fits. I need them to hug me during the concert and make me feel safe and confident when it starts raining and I immediately wish I was at home in my bed watching new episodes of Orphan Black onDemand. So while my 22-year-old self would have been delighted in some lacy, scant panties and a pair of fuck me heels, my 32-year-old self disagrees. I found an amazing pair of spandex and cotton miracle undies with a high waist and firm grip. And they’re black, so sexy by default. (Because duh.) I did hold up a pair of black Hankie Pankies, though, and smiled at how cute and useless they are.

With my undies on, my bag packed, and my hair styled in a low bun with $26 worth of anti-frizz product in it, I left my house an hour late for work today. As I was walking out the door, toting a toddler, trying to find my keys, and wondering how much battery was left on my Kindle, I felt pretty good. At the last minute, I reached in the door to grab Aut’s vitamins and I knocked something on the floor. It was a bottle of Xanax.

I went ahead and threw that in my bag. Because who am I to ignore a sign from God?