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The Martini Chronicles

Last Build Date: Tue, 06 Mar 2018 11:29:50 +0000


The Goodest Boy That Ever Was

Thu, 28 Dec 2017 18:02:00 +0000

It's been 17 days and my immediate, desperate grief has lessened enough that I can talk about it without my eyes blurring over. This might be long, because our relationship was, and because there was a lot of love and adventure in that little 25-pound body.We met in April of 2005. He was seven weeks old. Tiny. Snuggly. Bug-eyed. We spent his first weekend with us at the Oregon coast where he was immediately spoiled. He didn't want to sleep alone in his crate. He wanted to sleep next to me under the bed covers. I let him so his tiny yelping wouldn't bother our neighbors in the hotel rooms next door. He never slept anywhere else. The men in my life quickly adapted.He followed me everywhere. It was instant love for both of us. He curled up on my feet while I washed dishes. Sat in my lap wherever I sat. Begged to be carried when the walk was too long and slept on my shoulder.He wasn't named for a couple of weeks. It felt like such a responsibility, naming a personality. He was Bugsy for a few days, but that wasn't quite right and I finally settled on Rembrandt. Remy. AKA Rembo, Duck-pig-frog-dog.When we added Ruby to the family, he was the best big brother. He took his toys to her and laid them in front of her. He sat quietly in his jealousy as she shoved hers at us, insisting on being the center of attention. He took the back seat without complaint, gratefully accepting what attention was left over for him. When they first curled up together in front of the fireplace, my heart burst with love for them both.I had two shadows. Yin and Yang. Where she was temperamental and jealous, he was calm and accepting. Where she hated anything else on four legs, he was the one I could trust. He could go anywhere. He humped, but never harmed.The adventures we had! He ran along the coast, digging and rolling in loose, warm sand. He rolled in a dead fish in Leavenworth while traveling with my parents. We went on countless walks up the butte and along the river trail, checking pee-mail and leaving return messages. He had a girlfriend, a white boxer as goofy as him. He walked in the 4th of July Pet Parade, rolled in the grass during Sunday concerts in the summer. He was born to captain a boat and floated gently down the river on lazy weekends.He won a pair of goggles at the Puppy Poker day and was a hit at every Halloween event he attended. He was a spider, a shark, a rock star...He was my rock. He was the love of my life. I lost other loves, one that hurt more than I could imagine living through. But he was always there. Always my constant. His banal routine of eating, peeing, pooping, eating, pooping kept me moving on days I pulled myself through molasses. He never cared how red or swollen my eyes were or how long it had been since I showered. He didn't judge my depression, he simply sat next to me quietly, rubbing his nose into my hand to remind me that he loved me. Always.I say he was the goodest dog because he wasn't the best. He was neurotic. He hated hugs, they suffocated him. It wasn't until the last year that he would allow me to wrap my arms around him. In his old age, he was a real asshole. He'd pee right on the carpet, looking me defiantly and directly in the eyes. He opened the garbage can in the bathroom to help himself to tasty morsels and fought me for them. He pooped q-tips regularly. He slept right on my shins and my feet and dared to act rejected when I tried to kick him off. I couldn't suffocate him, but he was okay with cutting off my circulation.When his lump first showed up, I dismissed it as the same kind of fatty nothing he had a few years back. When it grew, and he started losing weight, we went to the vet. It was the first of many over the last few months. He was x-rayed and ultra-sounded and finally diagnosed with Cushing's, not cancer. Because he was 12, I didn't want to put  him through unnecessary surgery so I waited. While I waited, Stanley Dwight grew. And grew. I waited until after vacation so my poor petsitter wouldn't have to deal with his aftercare. I didn't expect that it would be a near emergency wh[...]

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 15:11:00 +0000

Like many of you, I'm still sifting through my emotions over what happened this weekend in Virginia. I am angry and sad and confused and lost. Looking for some sort of hope to latch onto, I posted on Facebook that the driver of the car was arrested and denied bail and that one of the "protesters" lost his job. I know my friends are sad and I wanted to offer something encouraging. I've seen others do the same, especially during our TN session of congress. There were posts about hate bill and health care bills that were killed or voted against. It helped us to feel like we were making a difference.What I didn't expect at all, and what completely blindsided me, was for a member of the burlesque community to call me out on it. What the fuck?? I can't offer some sliver of hope?? She is a woman of color and insisted that I was spreading dangerous rhetoric, that my intention and attitude was wrong. So, immediately, I was defensive. I was told to do some research. And it all totally confused me. I've read books, I've watched films, I've been to and participated in discussions with women of color. Last year I attended a BLM vigil and studied up on how I should behave to be supportive while letting it be about black people and not white allies. I thought, what else can I do??In my anger and frustration, I allowed the incident to escalate. My friends stepped in to try to defend me. My white ally friends chastised me, at least in my eyes at the time. I thought why even try when nothing I do is good enough??For two days I felt a rock in my stomach. I questioned why I felt so bad and so angry if I hadn't done anything wrong. I reread comments and posts. On the second day I apologized for half of what I said. I sent a message to the woman who had called me out, trying to explain my viewpoint, my history, how I cared. And I apologized. I thought, okay, that should do it. Because I'm a good person. I do care. If someone can't see that, what else can I do?And the rock remained in the pit of my stomach. Something was still bothering me. There was a shame I couldn't get past and I couldn't figure out where it was coming from.Last night I watched this video. I watched a black woman scream from terror and disbelief and emotional pain and distress. I saw a black man insisting that they didn't want that group in their town, in his town, in his home. I saw waves of white people filled with hate, claiming they were fulfilling their rightful part of history.And I got it. And fuck, it hurt.Posting that bills are voted down is not equivalent to trying to find anything good from this past weekend. Hey, one KKK was arrested. Yippee!!! Hey, look how all of those white men can push against a line of police and nothing happens to them!! Look how those men are allowed to carry torches and firearms and how our fucking president excuses it all. Gee, that's progress.No, I was wrong. I didn't want to be. But this wasn't the time to rally and talk about  how things are going to get better. Not when, right now, they are getting so much worse. People of color are truly terrified by what is happening. Because it isn't new. It never has been for them. And now we have a "leader" who all but endorses it. I try to understand, but I can't really fathom what it feels like to walk through life being hated by such a large group of one's own country.I don't know how this will end. I know how I want it to end. I thought we were better than all of this. I didn't really think we would elect a misogynistic, racist, completely ignorant buffoon for a president. But we did. I didn't think KKK and neo-Nazi groups would organize. Or militarize themselves. But they have. I keep thinking it will stop. This nightmare will end. But it doesn't. I think, okay, we've reached the tipping point. And another wave hits us.I don't have any answers. I think I have suggestions, but at this point, I'm not even sure about that. But here they are, for whatever they're worth.White people - don't include POC in your frustrations. They're not here to make you feel bet[...]

The Death of Dating

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 01:29:00 +0000

Last night I had drinks with someone I met online. At first I appreciated that he wanted to skip the formalities and small talk and meet right away. He seemed to have a sense of humor. I think the road to hell should now be paved with seems.

To start, he was 20 minutes late. But, Nashville traffic being what it is, I went with it. He sent an odd message about panhandlers, thinking he was making a joke. It was off-putting but I hoped I just misunderstood it.

He has a dog. We had a nice conversation about dogs and how great they are. It's charming when a man really loves his dog.

And then it went downhill. I specifically have a comment in my profile to not contact me if you voted for Trump. I foolishly expect that this will be respected. When he asked me if I don't like Trump, he said he could tell because of "all the woman stuff." Um... woman stuff??

He then proceeded to tell me a 30-minute story about how his wife left  him. For a black man. When you say, "I'm not racist but..." and then follow that with a terribly insulting imitation of a black man, then yes. Yes, you are a racist. A big one. I don't blame the woman for leaving.

Because he kept insisting he wasn't racist, I pressed him on his vote. He didn't want to answer, which made his choice obvious. What's worse is that he voted on a single issue. Gun rights. His collection of 20 guns was more important than women's health or right to choose, more important than the environment or the economy or foreign relations. I asked if the protection of his second amendment right was worth what happened in Virginia. If it was worth a woman dying for. He didn't have an answer.

Now I'm left with feeling like I can't trust anyone. That there isn't someone who can be just basically respectful and kind. So I think I'm done. I'm definitely done wasting my time on men who completely disregard my feelings as a person, let alone as a woman.

I have dogs. I have a daughter and a best friend. I have a business and a hobby that I love. It's a good life. I'm okay with it being a single life. Right now it's better than the alternative.

How It All Makes Sense Now

Mon, 07 Aug 2017 15:56:00 +0000

Like many of us, my world seemed to fall apart November 9th. After I spent a few days being deeply depressed, I decided to take action. I took all the action and went to all of the things and I got really involved. I wanted to Be Effective and Make a Difference and Have My Voice Heard. I protested, I joined groups, I went to meetings, I signed up for nearly anything that was put in front of me. I wanted to find the one thing that would be My Purpose.And then I was overwhelmed. I couldn't focus on one thing because I was trying to do everything. I was close to burnout. The other goals I made for myself this year seemed less important and I was spread too thinly everywhere.This last week I went to National Training for Pure Romance. Thursday night I was sitting in Aronoff Center in Cincinnati for opening session. Pure Romance will be celebrating 25 years of business in 2018 and, during the opening video, our founder Patty Brisben reflected on the beginnings and on the changes she has seen in the business and what it was like starting out. Her husband left her and their children because he wanted a wife who was more successful. (And all I can think is, "How you like me NOW?") She was broke. She was scared. She got involved in a business where she was shunned by mothers and other women. And she kept going. She kept going and she now heads a $200 million empire.That piece was inspiration in itself, but she continued. She said how thankful she is that, as consultants, we are changing the lives of women every day. We empower them. We teach them about sexual health. We encourage them to do all of the things that our current administration is against. She got emotional and I did too.Because it hit me. I am exactly where I need to be to Make a Difference. I don't necessarily need to protest, although I'm sure I will at times. I don't have to sign up for every single event involved with my political party. I can just focus on the parties I have with women. The conversations I have with them. The education I provide that so many hundreds of them have been lacking. We talk about consent and communicating what we want and how to get it. If women can do that in the bedroom, which is one of the hardest places to use one's voice, then they can learn to do it outside the bedroom too. They speak up not just for themselves, but for other women as well. I can affect change one conversation, one sale, one party at a time. This is it!!!When we hear about women's health, we often think of abortion or breast cancer, but it's much more than that. One of my teammates went to a class on menopause. Yucky topic, I know. It doesn't feel good. Hot flashes aren't comfortable. While some women look forward to it, others feel like they're less womanly. There is a gamut of emotions and physical symptoms and very little research being done or treatments being offered, considering how complicated this transition can be. The Patty Brisben Foundation is the only one of its kind to focus on this issue, as well as cancer treatment and its effects and research on these and other reproductive issues.What I need and what I want has been in front of me this whole time. It's usually that simple, isn't it? If we just open our eyes. I went to classes about leadership, sponsoring, common sexual problems, sexual health information, motivation, time management, money management, and a future leader training. And yet this was the biggest lesson that I learned. It's so freeing to now have this direction and this focus.If this is something that you want to do, I can help you with that. I'd be overjoyed to welcome you into this community where I have gained so much. I'm going to do all that I can to give that back.If there is no part of you that wants to use your voice this way, I understand completely. Like Patty said, it isn't easy with so many naysayers. However, I still encourage you to Do Something. We have a long way to go to undo a lot of the damage that has been done and we need each oth[...]

How Andrew McCarthy Relates to Being the Dildo Lady

Fri, 14 Apr 2017 05:24:00 +0000

I met Andrew Fucking McCarthy tonight. You know, Blane (That's not a name, it's a major appliance!!). He's still adorable and wonderful and totally unassuming and a REAL WRITER. He was completely candid and sweet and didn't mind me being an awkward, crazy, author-fan-girl. I almost didn't go because I do SO MUCH. Because I thought I should spend the whole evening working my business and the booking blitz. Because, most of the time, I feel guilty doing one thing when I should be doing another. But, when I offered my bestie an out, she didn't take it. So I went. And I smiled the Whole Damn Time. I was connected and In the Moment. And what he said didn't detract from my goals but added to them, added value to them. And he said that escape isn't running from something, but running TO something. To discovery. So I wasn't running from my obligations, I was running to inspiration and motivation and fulfillment. He spoke a bit about Pretty in Pink and what it meant at the time and what it meant to be that age. How it became an Important Film for our generation and why and how we relate to and cherish that time in our lives. How it's about a girl who feels unappreciated and misunderstood and how she has to make the dress to go to the dance anyway. And how we still, as adults, feel that way but we're able to parent ourselves through it because we know it gets better. We know that you come through the other side. And that's how life just is. I get lonely. I get discouraged. I think nobody has ever felt the way that I do at times. But then I remind myself that I can get through it because I have done it before and even when it's exhausting, there really isn't an alternative because this is who I am and this is what I do and, damn it, I have something to prove even if it's only to myself. So, yeah. It was meaningful. Significantly so. More than meeting a cute actor/writer who charmed an entire room and graciously wiped off my drool while putting his arm around me and taking bad pictures because he kept talking. When I got home and checked on my team and their progress, I was in awe. In just four short days, they accomplished more than I dreamt of. With minimal coaching from me because I'm pre-occupied. They motivated themselves and worked their little buns off and I was so proud I nearly broke down into a pile of sobbing mushiness. I had felt enormous guilt taking the evening off to do something I wanted to do. It felt selfish because I knew, earlier in the day, how hard they are working. In the end, they were fine. They were more than fine. And I wasn't running from them or from the work I think I need to do. I was running towards the motivation and the recharging of my batteries that I need to continue on. Andy (we're familiar like that now) explained transitions in his life with the phrase, "There I am." Over and over, "There I am." He found acting. "There I am." He found writing. "There I am." And so There I Was. Hearing what I need to hear when I need to hear it. And Here I Am. Motivated, inspired, soul re-filled. There are times when I drag myself to a party. When I'm tired and not in the mood to be "on." But then I find myself. I find my groove and I find my connections with other women. I find my purpose. There I am. Tonight, in the accomplishment of my team, There I Am. I didn't make my goal. Far, far from it. But the inspiration is still there. It waited until I came back. And There I Am. All I need now is for Blane to walk me to my car and tell me he believes in me. And that he will love me.. always. [...]

Stories of Sexism and Violence

Thu, 09 Mar 2017 15:37:00 +0000

There is a blog that I posted last year and again this year when it showed up in my memories for the day. The author grew up in Montreal, Canada. Except for a few early years in Texas, I grew up in California and then Oregon. I should feel a kinship with this woman on the other side of the continent, in another country, and I do. Our experiences are eerily familiar. And this horrifies me. It is disturbing that two women so far apart can have the same feelings, been preyed upon in the same manner. It means that our experiences aren't limited to a geographical area. Or a certain type of man. Or a period in time. They are rampant. They happen every day to every one of us. And there is no end soon in sight.As I read her words again, I started to recall my own stories. The ones that are non-fiction. Those that haunt me. These are just some of them.I'm four or five. Young. My class is on a field trip at the police station. There is a large carpet depicting roads and street signs. There is a tricycle on the carpet meant to be a vehicle. I want to "drive" the streets so I raise my hand. The police man chooses me. He says, "My, you're a pretty little girl." I can "drive" and show the other kids how to use the traffic signs, but first I must kiss him on the cheek. I don't really want to "drive" after that.I'm five. My parents are divorced and my dad has custody but he works so his family friend watches me during the day. Her son is my age. He wants to show me his penis. I don't really care to, but he makes it sound like I really want to. Only he wants to see what I have. I do it just so we can move on and play. It happens a few times and one day his mom catches us and beats the shit out of me.In sixth grade there is a boy who torments me relentlessly. He snaps my bra and when I get mad, he tells our teacher that I told him to "keep his black hands off of me." I am both humiliated that my teacher, who I respect more than almost anyone, knows that I now wear a bra and that someone touched me without my permission. I am devastated that he thinks I blamed it on the color of his skin when the thought never occurred to me and I cry like my heart is broken. Because it is.I'm 12 and a family member hugs me but his hand lands between my legs. I pull away in disgust and he acts innocent. "What? What's wrong?" This happens intermittently and semi-regularly until I am 17. He shoves his tongue in my mouth, grabs a breast. I stop him every time and leave the room, but I don't tell anyone because I'm the one that feels ashamed. I don't tell my mom until after I'm married and I think the only reason I forgive him now is because he's old and frail and can't hurt me anymore.I'm 18. My boyfriend is arguing with me for no reason, we work together in a store at the mall. I turn to leave and he grabs me, turns me around, and shoves me against the door. It's a metal door with a bar in the middle. I try to hit him but he has my arms pinned. As recognition at what he's done spreads across his face, he tells me with fat tears how sorry he is and that I must be so worried about what will happen next time. I tell him that a next time means he'll never see me again. He never touches me like that again, but he breaks things. He breaks my windshield and then his on separate occasions. When I'm 21 and I drive from Oregon back to college in Southern California, I decide to stay with my roommate and her mom in their hotel. I'm tired and tired of being in the car so I deny his invitation to go to his place. His invitation turns into a demand and then a threat. I hear a bottle break in the sink as he threatens to kill himself and I hang up. I end the relationship a few days later.I'm 22 and engaged. We live together. I weigh maybe 96 pounds but I've always had a little belly. He tells me I'm fat. When he gets home from work he asks if I worked out, saying, "You were home all day. What else do you have to do?" I cry and wish I could[...]

Choices, Consequences, and Prevention

Fri, 03 Mar 2017 17:53:00 +0000

Last night I inadvertently posted something inflammatory on Facebook. It was meant to express my dismay at discovering how many men my age have young children and how, as a single woman, my preference is not to date those men. My post was taken as a stance against women who choose to have children later in life. Over and over the comments expressed were, "I had my child later - I wanted it that way" or "That was how it happened for me, what's wrong with it?" There is nothing wrong with it. We should have the choice as women to have children at whatever age we feel is appropriate for us and for our families. The general response was a resounding MY body, MY choice.And THAT, when we are talking about reproduction, is really what it should come down to. Choice. Have a child at 20, or 30, or 45. It is and should be a personal choice. On the flip side, NOT having a child should also be a choice and this is where it gets sticky.I promise you that no woman wants to have an abortion. Who would put that on their bucket list? But the conversation is always about limiting, restricting, or banning abortion. And this is not where the conversation should start. Once we solve what happens well before a woman is faced with an unwanted pregnancy, maybe we'll stop having this debate.There is sometimes talk about expanding sex education, but even that comes later. The talks start with young children. Girls and boys both. Parents, tell your children from the start that they own their bodies. When you think pushing a child towards an older person and saying, "Give grandpa a hug" is harmless, it's not. At very young ages you are telling children when they do and don't own their bodies. Maybe grandpa stinks. Maybe your child has sensory/touch sensitivities. There are a myriad of reasons children don't want to show affection to adults and it's not rude for them not to. It is our job to protect our children from predators and taking away control in a a seemingly-innocent situation is failure from the start.One of the most important things we can do is to use proper terminology. Penis. Vagina. Vulva. Using silly, cutesy names undermines a child's authority in a couple of ways. I once heard a story that I regularly tell my customers at my parties. A young girl told every adult she met that her uncle pet her kitty. Okay. That's nice. How cute. NO. NOT cute. Her "kitty" was not a cat. This child was being abused and asking anyone she could find for help. Their inability to understand her because she used improper terminology told her both that what her uncle was doing was okay and that she had no right to ask for help. Additionally, when a child uses the right words, grown-up words, he or she is taken seriously by adults. It demonstrates that they are very clear and knowledgeable about what is happening.As children grow, we need to repeat these lessons. I am going to focus on young women solely for the reason that the vast majority of rape crimes are committed by men against women, but understand it can happen to young men too. We need to raise our daughters so that they understand they have a choice and that they are worthy. That attention from a cute boy is nice, but not validation of who they are as a person. This makes it easier for her to say "no" when a boy tries to convince her to go farther than she's comfortable with. It makes it easier for her to have a conversation and dialogue about what her boundaries are and, if she's then rejected in favor of another girl, she won't be as likely to feel that she should have given in.And this, years later, is where sex education comes in. Certain groups of people are just terrified of sex and any mention of it and are convinced that teaching children about body parts is wrong. It's not. Our vaginas and penises aren't any dirtier than our legs or elbows. If I have a headache, someone will offer me aspirin. If I have a pain in my breast, I sho[...]

A Story About a Story

Fri, 13 Jan 2017 15:57:00 +0000

I have loved Laurie Anderson since high school. I'm not sure how I even became aware of her at that age. She's an experimental performance artist and I was into Duran Duran and Wham! back then. I go years without listening to her though, and then when I do, I fall in love all over again. Her latest album (which is a soundtrack of her film), Heart of a Dog, is layered with music but is mostly spoken. Her voice is beautiful and mesmerizing and the theme surrounds the life and death of her dog, Lola Belle. Which, that piece alone, makes it interesting and easy for me to relate to. But it's interspersed with stories of her fascinating and incredibly interesting life. I can't believe I've never named her as someone I'd like to have dinner with because I would, very very much.

I shared a piece from the album with a friend, who then introduced me to Max Richter. I sat and listened to three instrumental albums right in a row immediately. I realized how absolutely beautiful music is, and in so many forms. Some of what I listened to was heartbreakingly sad, but that made it so much more lovely.

These last few months have been dark and I fear it will only get darker. I've been teetering on the edge of my own Great Depression and I have to keep moving, moving. Stopping my whirlwind of activity and scheduling of my time means I might just topple over into an emotional abyss. The depression is there and the negativity I see everywhere with our current climate is overwhelming.

J and I had a conversation yesterday about how easy it is to hate what is happening, what is being said, done, and the people saying it. And it is. It is so easy. But I can't do it. I just can't, because it will drag me down into that quicksand of depression that I might not be able to pull myself out of next time. So I told her that we have to focus on the positive, the good, and the good that is the majority. The hate makes the most noise, it's easy to be distracted. It does take work to bypass it, but it has to be done.

So last night, when I was losing myself in the melodies, I was reminded of the ways that I find beauty every day. Music. The obvious sunset. The look of love and adoration in my dog's eyes and her trust in me. My daughter, a life I had the absolute privilege of creating and being a part of. Friendships and unforgettable memories with friends. The women I meet in my business who share intimate parts of themselves with me. The most beautiful things are intangible, but they also make us who we are.

While we feel that some of our rights are being stripped away during what is most likely to become an infamous period of history, we still have beauty. Friendships and memories and love are things that can't be taken from us. The beauty we find and that we must look for and hold onto is what will sustain and strengthen us. I believe this, not only because I have to, but because it is what's true. The greater truth is in love.

Empowerment and Epiphanies

Mon, 12 Dec 2016 21:18:00 +0000

Starting one's own business is always daunting. Even more so when that business involves selling sex toys and becoming the "dildo lady." I started my Pure Romance business three years ago, largely for fun and product discounts. I wasn't interested in building a team or giving up my IT income. I wanted to make some new friends and I was promised cheese. (I'll do most anything for cheese.) After meeting other team members and going to trainings, my motivation changed. I started to want more. I wanted to offer more. To more women. So I did.My business has changed a lot in the last three years and I love it. I've learned how to deal with the looks and the sometimes abrasive questions."Oh, it's one of those parties?""I'm just not that open about those things.""I think sex is private.""Let's face it, it just boils down to selling sex toys."The last from my sister. While my friends were supportive from the start, my family was not. Which was okay. I wasn't doing it for approval and I'd been to enough parties to know what really happened and how tasteful they are. I figured they'd come around.My business has introduced me to people I wouldn't otherwise meet. I've made friends across the country. I was able to go on a cruise to Mexico. I worry much less when I need car repair or new tires. I've been able to use party profits to donate to my favorite causes. My confidence grew. I've learned to let go of trying to do things perfectly. This year I'm close to doubling my sales from last year.While all of those things are wonderful and reason enough for me to continue to grow my business, I've had some recent experiences that have validated that I am doing exactly what I should be doing. My Why, my reason for doing what I do, has changed a few times. The Pure Romance motto is 'Educate. Empower. Entertain.' I have those words in my head at each party and many times as I'm doing business chores. What I've heard from my customers shows me how I'm following that direction and those values.One customer is very recently divorced and it wasn't pretty. I met her a year ago at a party and she was my hostess at a party over the summer. She called me while I was at national training to order a brand new product and later contacted me with feedback about her purchase. She loved it, and I was glad, but I was touched when she said that the only area of her life going well was the one involving me. Her sex life was better since meeting me than in the 11 years of her marriage. If a woman going through a divorce doesn't need a little self-esteem boost, I don't know who does. I also know that she voted differently than I did but checked in on me the day after the election, offering an ear or a shoulder in my sadness. This is the definition of women supporting and empowering each other.I did a party this past Saturday with several repeat customers. I like to do a question and answer at the end of my demonstration to give my customers a chance to ask what they want to know about my business. Why I started. What it's like. How we get training. One of the girls asked what has been the most exciting aspect on my journey and my response was knowing when my business started to grow noticeably. How I don't go more than a few days without hearing from a customer with a question or a comment. This year has been really exciting in that way.We talked a bit about the stigma of sex and parties and the business. I shared how knowing that I am in a place to help women is invaluable. And that's when another of the girls shared something that just gave me chills. She said that since she has been attending parties, she sees herself differently. Where she used to base her value on a man's assessment of whether or not she was attractive, she now dismisses that in favor of how SHE feels about herself. That she's just fine the way she is. That she doesn't have[...]

Anti-Climatic History

Thu, 03 Nov 2016 15:19:00 +0000

Last week I voted. For the first time in my country's history, there is a woman running for president. And I voted for her.I thought I would feel so proud. I thought I'd feel like a part of a greater sisterhood. I thought I'd feel like I'd really Done Something. Something Important. I've seen the posts from other women, I've used the same hashtags. Yesterday I saw a video of a woman crying because she was, finally, able to vote for a woman for president. I read the article about the 102-year-old woman who voted for her. We, as women, are participating in history in a way we never have before. I thought I would feel the way these women did. But I didn't.It has taken me several months to embrace Hillary. I saw all the articles on all of her misdeeds. All of the questions about her integrity. I was disappointed that our first female presidential candidate was so bogged down in controversy. I wanted her to be someone we could be Proud of.And then I read dozens of pieces that delved into the controversies and the reasons for them. Word after word, sentence after sentence, discredited what I had read previously. Article after article pointed out the fact that, because she is a woman, Hillary is facing far more scrutiny than a man would in the same position. From women and men alike. Just think, if Laura Bush had been nominated, how many lies would have been told about her fatal car accident? If it were one of her daughters, every drink she'd ever had would be measured. We already know the hateful things that have been said about Michelle Obama. The woman can't wear a sleeveless dress without negative comments.When the conventions started, I watched those of both candidates. I watched what people said about them, I listened the their nomination acceptance speeches. I've watched the debates and kept myself as informed as possible without sending myself into a deep depression. I've ignored, for the most part, strictly liberal news sources, trying to find the real truth in between all of the words, words, words.What I found, beyond that fact that women are put under a microscope on a daily basis, is that Hillary is someone I can be proud of voting for. Is she a little too polished because she's a politician? Sure. We're not going to get around that. But she's been put through the wringer and she's come out with her head held high. She's composed, she's unflappable. She doesn't give up. And, after all this time, she's become relatable. She goes to work when she's sick. She's a mother. She's been wronged by her man and yet she weathered that with as much grace as she could. The woman must be utterly exhausted and yet she keeps going because she believes in us. In us as women, in us as members of this country, and in us as just people.I don't know, you guys. I guess this election has just taken it out of me. I'm tired of fighting for people to see what sexism is. I'm tired of women getting ahead only to be torn down. I'm tired of rapists going free. I'm tired of men being excused for bad behavior and "locker room talk" because "boys will be boys." I'm so deeply afraid that we have made it this far and that the rug will be swept out from under our feet at the last second. Maybe I've seen so much hatred in this country in the last few months that I don't really believe we'll be allowed to progress further.I wish I felt differently, I really do.We have less than a week now to find out what kind of country we are. What kind of people, what kind of women. I hope with every fiber of my being that it's something we can be proud of. I hope I can look my sisters in the eye and say, "We did it. Finally."[...]

Necessary Choices

Fri, 21 Oct 2016 15:15:00 +0000

I wasn't going to say anything. There are other stories that are heartbreaking and realer than real. I don't feel like I have anything significant to add to the conversation. But other people are talking. And they're talking without having the proper information. Words like "murder" and "selfish" are being thrown around so I'm going to share my story. Take from it what you will.I was 25 when I got pregnant. I was married. My pregnancy was planned and very much wanted. I was so excited and so elated that I broke the three-month rule. I told my friends, my mom, I called my grandparents. When I gloated to my doctor that I got pregnant the first month after I was off the pill, she gave me a blank look. I assumed she wasn't as impressed with my fertility as I was.The first few weeks were uneventful. I had a checkup or two, the regular kind where my blood pressure was checked. I noticed other pregnant women and felt a kinship with them. I noticed tiny babies and started to dream about what mine would look like.At 12 weeks we expected to hear the heartbeat. I went in on a Friday. There was no heartbeat. I was reassured that often the baby is positioned in such a way that the heartbeat can't be heard, but I saw the concern in my nurse's eyes. My doctor scheduled an ultrasound for the following Monday.I spent that weekend praying and hoping and convincing myself that everything was okay. I ate a whole pizza. I slept a lot. I went to church and begged through the entire service that my baby be okay. That it be allowed to live.During the ultrasound, the technician frowned. She rolled the wand across my belly and stared silently at the screen. She left to get the radiologist, a man I didn't know. He pressed the wand into my stomach, looked at the screen, stood up, and backed up to the door. "I can tell you now or I can let your doctor tell you," he said. Tell me what?? I looked at my then-husband for help. I knew it was bad and I didn't want this stranger to tell me, but I had to know.The baby was dead. It had died at around nine weeks but wasn't expelled. It died and I didn't know. I didn't feel it. I never felt it.I was sent to my doctor's office. They were ready for me, they took me back right away rather than having me sit in the waiting room next to pregnant women. Actively pregnant women with babies they could feel kicking. Babies that would be carried to term.My doctor told me she was sorry. My nurse hugged me. They explained to me what would happen next. Laminaria was inserted; it's a type of seaweed product that causes contractions, which would make the next day's procedure easier. It would prep my body for what was to come. It hurt. I was also still in shock from the news and I couldn't process it all at the same time. I was sent home with extra-strength ibuprofen.That night I laid on the couch and cried. My doctor said it wasn't my fault, but it felt like it. To the core of my being, I felt like I had failed. And not just me, not just my baby, but everyone around me.The next day, the dilation and curettage, D & C for short, was performed by my doctor in the ER at our local hospital. It's one of the same procedures used during an early-term abortion. My mom and dad met me there, also heartbroken. I only know of two other times that my dad took time from work for anything I did, if that tells you how much this meant to us. Mom sat by me while I filled out insurance and consent forms. Her words, though well-meaning, cut into my heart. "You'll get pregnant again. I knew a woman when I was growing up who had five miscarriages in a row and then just as many children." I listened numbly as she cheerfully chattered on.I cried throughout the procedure. I wasn't supposed to remember anything because of the anesthesia, but I do. I remember how kind my doctor w[...]

The Truth Is Ugly and It Hurts

Mon, 17 Oct 2016 17:56:00 +0000

Before I lose you in what I'm about to say, I want to make one thing very clear. Donald Trump should not be president. There is no way that I can support him, anything he has said, or his past behavior, and I can't imagine doing so in the future. If he fell off the face of the earth, I would heave a "yuge" sigh of relief and move along without looking back. The Republican party has been blamed for creating this monster. There are the jokes about the decision they have made and how they have to carry it to term. There is some irony in this situation and there is truth in the theories. Members of this party have so staunchly defended anyone in their ranks that they have backed themselves into a corner with this one. And, while a lot of this is satisfying to members of other parties, and it's somewhat fascinating to watch a faction of the political system disintegrate before our eyes, the rest of us have to admit our own culpability. Yep, I'm saying it. We are all responsible for this mess. We, the collective "we." We, as an American society. We have contributed to the nastiness, the name-calling, the blaming, the inappropriate language and behavior. We sensationalized the death of a tiny pageant contestant and then we mourned when a princess was killed and thought that was the pinnacle, that we would change. We urged each other to change. To stop buying the gossip rags and watching the shows that titillated us with all things that were None of Our Business. But then we watched a "celebrity" sex tape and now we greedily await the next one. And the next. We made a celebrity out of a burping, farting family whose central star was named Honey Boo Boo. We watch eligible bachelors and bachelorettes choose among multiple suitors and judge their choices like Monday morning quarterbacks. We read gossip blogs and pick apart the choices people make while hiding behind our keyboards. We feel safe being harsh and mean to those we don't even know when using the mask of anonymity. We may not audibly and intentionally support Donald Trump, but we have condoned his gross behavior in a hundred other separate, seemingly innocent acts. The behaviors we have rewarded with our interest have culminated into the Pile of Yuck that is Donald Trump. Over the weekend I attended a book festival and got to introduce a couple of the authors during one of the sessions. Both authors had written women as the heroes of their novels and, maybe because of our current political and social climate, I asked if it is necessary that there be a Bad Man in a story in order to juxtapose the woman as the Good Heroine. Both authors, both female, said no, that the impetus for the heroines in their stories were other women and that women can be just as evil. Which brings me to another point. So many of us, including myself, wonder how on earth a woman can support Trump. Especially after the things we've heard him say again and again. I have wondered if their self-esteem is so low that they truly believe only a man can be president. However, like my authors said, women can be just as evil and even more so towards other women. I've heard women say out of one side of their mouths how they support their sisterhood while in the next breath they spew unwarranted and unnecessary criticism. I have, in an effort to pretend that rape couldn't happen to ME, questioned what a victim wore. As long as I didn't dress a certain way, or go to certain bars, or leave my house on a Tuesday at 9:17 p.m., the same thing couldn't happen to me. None of which really matters and only serves to distance myself from a woman who really needs help. As moms, we constantly vilify other moms for their choices. If she works too much, who is taking care of her children? Why i[...]

Dressing My Emotions

Wed, 05 Oct 2016 00:28:00 +0000

The muggle company I work for gave us all purple shirts a couple of months ago so that we could have a Purple Shirt Day. (I'd like to interject here that mine was HUGE on me, despite being a size medium, because it was a man's size medium. All shirts given at any job have been based on both men's sizing and men's styling. Sexism at work. At its finest. I have kept none of these shirts; this latest joined its brothers in the garbage.)

Anyhoo. Yesterday, several of the men in the office wore their manly purple shirts. I asked one co-worker if I missed another Purple Shirt Day (not that I even participated in the first one) and he replied, "No. This one was just next up in the rotation."

"Excuse me? Rotation? Like your shirts have a cycle?"

He said, yes. He does his laundry, then hangs up his clothes and chooses the one at the end each morning.

Of course I was like, "What the fuck?"  How is that even possible? What if you feel fat that day? He shrugged. What if you hate that color that day? He just looked at me. What if you have to go somewhere after work?? What if you haven't worn that shirt in two years and you realize how much weight you've gained and then you throw it on the floor because you hate it and you never want to look at it again??? What if your butt looks lumpy?! What if your butt looks too flat!!? What if you realize your blacks are completely different blacks and you look stupid? What if the right underwear isn't clean? What if you wake up and you're on your period??!!? Okay, so that probably doesn't happen to him. Probably. I wonder about some men. He just calmly replied that he doesn't have those problems.

I truly, sincerely wish that I could go through shirts in a rotation. I wish it were that simple, but my mind and my body make decisions on their own, on complete opposite ends of the Spectrum of the Day and it's up to me to come up with a truce and most days I'm just not capable of making those kinds of decisions. I'm lucky if I can find clean underwear and brush my teeth. Compromises are made on a daily basis. Major sacrifices pretty much weekly.

So, guys, count your lucky fucking stars and, girls - you know what?  I got nothing on this one.

This Space Is Mine

Fri, 12 Aug 2016 19:38:00 +0000

There is a thing that men do, probably without even thinking about it, and that women experience on varying levels from annoyance to terror. They touch us. They touch us a lot. Strangers. It's putting an arm around us, or "accidentally" grazing a breast or ass cheek. It's leaning in within an inch of our faces, it's aggressive eye contact.For the love of fuck, guys, you have got to stop this. Tell your friends to stop. After the last few weeks, I am going to refuse to be polite. I insist on being viewed as a person with feelings and boundaries. I demand respect. My response to unwanted physical touch is going to be very clear from now on.For the last week, I've been victimized by my Depression. It showed up, unannounced, like it always does. Finally, I felt like trying to shake it off. I went to a favorite bar where my burlesque mentors were going to perform. J and I got stools at the corner closest to the stage; it wasn't overly crowded like it is on the weekends, it felt comfortable enough. There was a group of men and women next to us, but J and I tried to keep to ourselves, both of us feeling fragile from our depression at the same time.One of the men decided to start a conversation with us. And not by saying, "Excuse me, ladies..." No. When my head was turned away from him, he put his whole arm around me, his hand landing at my waist. I am a person with space issues. I am a person who doesn't always like to feel feelings, let alone the body warmth of another person. I certainly do not appreciate being embraced so personally by a stranger. It's rude. It's creepy. It was alarming.There is something that I do when fighting for air during a depressive episode. If I'm in public and I have to engage with someone, I act cheerful. Because if I'm not forcing overt cheerfulness, I risk falling into a crumbling heap on the floor. I also risk letting out any internal rage I direct at my Depression onto a person and that never ends well.So, even though I was appalled at this man's assumption that he could touch me in a place and in a way that I consider intimate, even though I wished I could shape-shift myself into a giant boa so I could simultaneously squeeze the life out him while ripping his arm off, I smiled. I answered his questions. I told him where I'm from, how long I've been here, what I was drinking. I allowed him to lean over me and talk to J. I allowed him into my space. I allowed him to continue living under the illusion that women are objects, toys, that we don't deserve the freedom from being man-handled any time we walk into a bar.I censored myself that night. A few weeks before that, J censored me. It's what we do to each other. We remind each other not to Make A Scene. Just be quiet and it will end on its own. We were at a different bar, one we had been to recently and returned for karaoke. Because it's Nashville. It's what you do. I wasn't depressed, but I was grumpy.The second we walked in, the dude at the end of the bar asked what we were drinking and said he'd buy our drinks. He was very drunk. I thought he was on his way out the door, so I let him. But no. No, he stayed. He stayed long enough to put his hand on my lower back and lean in. When I turned to J, like, "What the fucking fuck is he doing!??!", she told me to ignore it. See how we are conditioned to this shit? A disturbingly drunk man gropes a friend and we calm the other one down so as not to create further drama.He tempted me with a very enticing offer. Going back to his place to drink a beer. I declined. "What? Why? I am re-fucking-diculously good-looking and I have a cute penis." I agreed that that was a VERY tempting and gracious offer, but no. "But why?? I have a couch!! Don't you want to go t[...]

Starting a Conversation

Sun, 10 Jul 2016 17:43:00 +0000

The events of the last week....The deaths of the last week....Where to start?I currently have too many thoughts in my head and trying to organize them all in a way that makes sense to even just me seems nearly impossible. There are emotions. On all sides. But why are there sides?I think I learned about racism in sixth grade. David, a black boy, liked to snap the straps of my bra, which infuriated me to no end. And yet I didn't tell on him (which says more about sexism than I was aware of and is a completely different topic). I glared at him and he laughed. Our teacher, Mr. Black (a white Mormon), pulled me aside one day. He said that David reported that I told him to "keep his black hands off me." I was horrified. I cried. I didn't understand completely what it meant, but I understood it was terrible. I understood that I shouldn't feel that black was different or that being black was wrong. I was devastated that someone would blame me for thinking that way.When I think about it more, there were other things that happened that pointed out to me that being black was different. My parents never said that black people were less. Not in those words, but in others. Our white, elderly neighbors were robbed late one night when they arrived home. The robbers were two black men. That's all I know. I only know this because that was how it was reported to my parents who related it that way to me. We moved because "too many black people were coming into the neighborhood." (Also - we had the luxury and the privilege to move away.)I always knew that having a black boyfriend would irritate my parents. I wanted one, I never got one. I wasn't really that brave. My parents moved to a small town in Oregon when my brother was a baby. We were having lunch in a restaurant near a window. Outside, in the parking lot, were a couple of young black men. My two-year-old brother looked at them and exclaimed, "Those men are dirty!!" He had never seen a black person before. I tried over and over to tell him that was the color of their skin. He shook his head. "No. No, they're dirty." I looked at my mom and told her she should not have left Southern California because now she was raising a racist toddler. She laughed.Why am I telling you these things? It's not to tell you that my parents are bad people. They're not. It's to tell you that, as white people, we have some pretty fucked up ideas about people whose skin is a different color. And it's not as easy to label someone as being "bad" for thinking what they do because the messages feel so subtle sometimes. I wasn't told that my family didn't like blacks or that they were inferior. I wasn't taught to hate them. The message was simply that they were undesirable to live next door to.All of this is to say that I understand the complexities of racism. I understand how it's sometimes hard to acknowledge when one is behaving in a racist manner. That it seems preposterous to call some behaviors racist. I know there is a learning curve. I also know that denial perpetuates the violence. I know that we can't continue the way we have. I know that there is injustice in the world. Grave injustice. I know that large sections of the population in my country are hurting. They are suffering, they are losing people they love, and they are dying. They are dying because they're black. They're angry because they're dying. I know this has to change. I know we have to do better.Social media is the most useful tool when used responsibly and the greatest divider when it's not. It becomes a platform for people to spread hatred and to show the worst of humanity. The ugliest parts of themselves that we wish didn't exist.There are a couple of things I've[...]

Starting a Conversation

Sun, 10 Jul 2016 17:43:00 +0000

The events of the last week....The deaths of the last week....Where to start?I currently have too many thoughts in my head and trying to organize them all in a way that makes sense to even just me seems nearly impossible. There are emotions. On all sides. But why are there sides?I think I learned about racism in sixth grade. David, a black boy, liked to snap the straps of my bra, which infuriated me to no end. And yet I didn't tell on him (which says more about sexism than I was aware of and is a completely different topic). I glared at him and he laughed. Our teacher, Mr. Black (a white Mormon), pulled me aside one day. He said that David reported that I told him to "keep his black hands off me." I was horrified. I cried. I didn't understand completely what it meant, but I understood it was terrible. I understood that I shouldn't feel that black was different or that being black was wrong. I was devastated that someone would blame me for thinking that way.When I think about it more, there were other things that happened that pointed out to me that being black was different. My parents never said that black people were less. Not in those words, but in others. Our white, elderly neighbors were robbed late one night when they arrived home. The robbers were two black men. That's all I know. I only know this because that was how it was reported to my parents who related it that way to me. We moved because "too many black people were coming into the neighborhood." (Also - we had the luxury and the privilege to move away.)I always knew that having a black boyfriend would irritate my parents. I wanted one, I never got one. I wasn't really that brave. My parents moved to a small town in Oregon when my brother was a baby. We were having lunch in a restaurant near a window. Outside, in the parking lot, were a couple of young black men. My two-year-old brother looked at them and exclaimed, "Those men are dirty!!" He had never seen a black person before. I tried over and over to tell him that was the color of their skin. He shook his head. "No. No, they're dirty." I looked at my mom and told her she should not have left Southern California because now she was raising a racist toddler. She laughed.Why am I telling you these things? It's not to tell you that my parents are bad people. They're not. It's to tell you that, as white people, we have some pretty fucked up ideas about people whose skin is a different color. And it's not as easy to label someone as being "bad" for thinking what they do because the messages feel so subtle sometimes. I wasn't told that my family didn't like blacks or that they were inferior. I wasn't taught to hate them. The message was simply that they were undesirable to live next door to.All of this is to say that I understand the complexities of racism. I understand how it's sometimes hard to acknowledge when one is behaving in a racist manner. That it seems preposterous to call some behaviors racist. I know there is a learning curve. I also know that denial perpetuates the violence. I know that we can't continue the way we have. I know that there is injustice in the world. Grave injustice. I know that large sections of the population in my country are hurting. They are suffering, they are losing people they love, and they are dying. They are dying because they're black. They're angry because they're dying. I know this has to change. I know we have to do better.Social media is the most useful tool when used responsibly and the greatest divider when it's not. It becomes a platform for people to spread hatred and to show the worst of humanity. The ugliest parts of themselves that we wish didn't exist.There [...]

The Big Reveal

Tue, 14 Jun 2016 03:34:00 +0000

My daughter was born a girly girl. Her first word after the parental syllables was "shoe." She was boy crazy at four, passing toys to the neighbor boy between the chain link fence next to our townhouse. By the time she was eight, she'd had more boyfriends than I had in my life. She did ballet for ten years. She giggled in the back seat with her friends about high school dances and holding hands with boys on the ferris wheel. Her favorite color was pink. Or purple. She adored makeup.She was the stereotypical girl.She also loves to play the guessing game when she's afraid to tell me something. Which she did ten days ago. It goes something like this:D: I have to tell you something.Me: Okay....D: Only I don't want to.Me: Okaaay.... (immediately irritated)D: Well, I want to tell you, but I don't.Me: .......... (rolling my eyes and heavy-sighing)D: It's just... I wish you just knew already.Me: How can I know if you don't tell me?D: ......Me: Fine. You had sex.D: No.Me: You got drunk.D: No.Me: You got in another accident.No.You quit your job.No.You're friends with that horrible girl again.No.You're pregnant. (Because after exhausting the obvious and the stupid, I start throwing out the crazy.)No.You're gay. (AmI right? This girly girl? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.......)She looks at the refrigerator. The girl has zero poker face.But you're kidding, right?No.You can't be serious.Yes, Mom.............I'd had a cocktail at this point and quickly gulped down the equivalent of another shot. Remember the stereotypical girl? Which I asked her. Or, rather, told her. "You were always boy crazy." Yes, she thought she was, but then she wasn't. But what about her boyfriends? What about drooling over Josh Hutcherson and Ian Somerhalder? What about, what about, what about?I took a quick break in the bathroom where I furiously texted my best friend. "Don't judge, I said." Her response? "Oh God, what did you do???" When I told her what it really was she said, "We have always supported the gay community. Now it's just time to prove it." Okay......Yes, I was in shock. It was the last thing I imagined from D. I knew her. I gave birth to her. I held her and cradled her and met all of her needs as an infant. It wasn't that I was against it. I wasn't and I'm not. I had even commented to friends in front of her that I would accept having a gay child but I would mourn my dream of what I thought they would be. That was what she remembered. That is what stuck in her heart and why she was so afraid to tell me.So I finished my drink and I tried to let her talk. I tried to ask the accepting questions, all the while my brain was reeling from the news. I told her over and over that I'm not disappointed. Not like she thought I would be. It's not necessarily disappointment, but an adjustment. I have to shift my thinking.When she was a senior in high school, she was temporarily but extremely suicidal. I reminded her that I would take her and keep her any way I could get her but I never want to lose her. I told her she could see how it felt without choosing labels yet. She told me she was confused. Ah, confusion. It's not real. Just a phase.Now, if anyone thinks at any point thus far that I said the wrong thing or reacted the wrong way, you're entitled to that opinion. But if you're just not prepared for something, you can't predict your reaction. This outcome had just never occurred to me. Not in a million years.The next day was a struggle between reassuring her that I do love and accept her, which I completely do, and balancing my own confused feelings. I asked if she was sure because she had been confused the night before. No, she was ta[...]

Like a Giant Push-Up

Mon, 13 Jun 2016 21:01:00 +0000

Last week I was veering dangerously close to a depressive episode. I felt it coming, heard the rumbling in the distance. The days leading up to Friday were fraught with events and activities that were draining any emotional energy I was trying to hold onto. I was running on empty. The temptation to hide under my covers until the storm passed was great. This happens to me on occasion. Sometimes I know why, sometimes I don't. This time I knew exactly why and I feared exposing myself to further energy drain and risking a deeper depression.All of this is to say that Nashville surprised me. Nashville fits me more the longer I'm here.Friday was a long-awaited burlesque show, which included dinner beforehand with new friends. Having to be "on" around new people is risky when I'm on the edge like I was. I know I was a little bit manic in my animation to make up for what was lurking under the surface of my skin, but it was manageable. (Manageable mania - oxymoron?) The show itself was wonderful and inspiring and full of acceptance and love, the way that burlesque is intended. There were hugs and laughter and beautiful costumes and quirky routines. It was just what the doctor ordered. If the doctor prescribed boobs and pasties.Saturday the bestie and I went to see Stephen King speak. I wasn't sure how it would play out, I knew it wasn't a typical book signing with so many people there. SO many people. So MANY. People! The line wrapped around the building. Around the alley, behind the bars on Broadway. During CMA Fest. Cigarettes and drunk people and sewage liquid on the road. In the heat. The hot, hot southern heat. The Ryman was hot. Crowded. Sold out. Over-stimulating. Between the crowds, the confusion, and the odors, I was nearing a meltdown.Ann Patchett walked out onto the stage. I feel a bit smug knowing that I can go into her business space any time I want at Parnassus Books. It's like my little nerd privilege. So I perked up. She introduced Donna Tartt to introduce Mr. King. Her small speech reminded me that it's okay to be different. It was beautiful and heartfelt and touching, without any pandering sweetness.When Stephen King walked onto that stage, he was greeted with a standing ovation. There was an immediate sense that we all, in that audience, shared a common ideation in our love of writing, of books, and of a certain author, if not authors in general.I want so badly to remember every word he spoke. He didn't only talk about writing, or his creative efforts, but he also gave us glimpses into who he is as a person. Someone who is not only a brilliant and prolific writer, but a humble family man with a wicked sense of humor. He curses in the exact appropriate places and he's just academically intimidating enough without being a boorish snob.The whole experience of being in his presence, of sharing fellowship with others who chose to forego music festivals and street revelry to talk about a shared love of books, left me with a full heart and renewed soul, knowing it will never be duplicated because momentous events like that are rare and precious.I woke up Sunday to the news of the tragic shooting in Orlando. Tragic shooting. Act of terrorism. Loss of lives. Devastation. How do I put what happened into words that make sense when the act itself doesn't? How to define the emotions. The anger, the fear, the complete what-the-fuck and why-is-this-happening-again. The overwhelming sadness and desperation to control something that can't even be predicted because who thinks of doing things that are so terrible when you're just going about your life and you're celebrating [...]

Summer Book Drive

Sat, 04 Jun 2016 00:59:00 +0000

It's Friday night and for once I'm home. It's storming, I have a martini and I'm just waiting for the kid to get home so we can have pizza and watch movies. Also, Facebook is being a shit right now which limits my ability to waste time mindlessly.So, I'm going to try to do something useful. I'm not sure how effective it will be since like two of you regularly even pay attention to what I say here, but I'm making the effort anyway. The road of good intentions or something like that.Since we moved to Nashville, I've been listening off and on to a radio show. I say off and on because it's a country format and we all know that's not my favorite. But my drive to work is now 45 minutes and I get bored. I mean, the lake is pretty, and I look for my horse friend every day and now there are babeh donkehs, but the rest is boring.I digress. A couple of weeks ago, the host of the show (DJ? star? main dude?), Bobby Bones, released a book that is mostly about his life and the struggles he has overcome and how he got out of his sad little town and achieved his success thus far. D and I went to his book signing because she has a little crush on him. She was so super excited and I coached her on what to say to him. It just so happens that he gets his hair cut where she just got a job so that was an easy in. She was cute. He drew a little stick figure of himself in her book with his hair. It was all cute. Until I did my normal thing of freezing up in front of the author. It doesn't matter who it is. If my dog wrote a book, I'd just stand and stare at her while she pawtographed my book, mutter something resembling "thank you", and back away slowly. Ultimate book nerd.A few days later, I saw this on Twitter:Since I'd read his book (in like two days), it really confirmed that he is the person he appears to be. Honestly, sincerely good. My second thought was, why don't we all do that?? Mr. Bones has a huge following. He was #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List after about a week. There were loads of posts about how people were reading his book, even people who hadn't read in years. And I LOVE reading and I LOVE books and I want to spread this love and I don't think anyone should go without a book they want because of stupid money.Now, this is where I become a copycat. Jenny Lawson, A.K.A The Bloggess, (if you haven't read her blog, go do it now. I want to kidnap her and make her be my friend but she lives in Texas and I'm too lazy for long-distance shenanigans) organizes gift-giving for those with less at Christmas. She's been doing it for a few years and her method last year works PERFECTLY for my little idea. She asked people to make a wish list on Amazon for things their kids were asking for and then her readers could purchase those gifts for them. It was basically brilliant.Here is my idea. Scads of people want Bobby Bones's book. Maybe someone else wants a different book from someone they admire. Or a child is a voracious reader and her parents can't afford her disgusting reading habit. Whatever. It's not Christmas, but books aren't seasonal. I want those of us who HAVE to help those who HAVE NOT. And books aren't expensive. And Amazon is easy.This is what you do. If you are someone who is book-thirsty but resource-poor, make a wish list on Amazon and post your link in the comments. If you are someone who feels generous and you are able, follow the link, purchase the book(s) and fulfill that wish. If you want a whole set of  Harry Potter, add the whole set. The Generous People can buy one or two or the whole dang set as they wish. Don't[...]

Bumps and Grinds and the Bulge in the Mirror

Mon, 16 May 2016 18:14:00 +0000

When I started burlesque a few weeks ago, I imagined having funny stories to tell or how I would magically feel better in my own skin after a couple of weeks. The only funny story is that I started to sit down on and get up from the toilet with my butt sticking out and I did the same thing in Target stooping down to look at something on a lower shelf. I guess that could be slightly entertaining to anyone watching.The thing I abhor about dance classes/gyms/yoga is the giant mirror on one wall. It's necessary to ensure you're using proper form and all that, blah, blah, blah. But it's also a reflection of how you look in that particular moment of time. Usually not the best moment. Workout clothes. Little or no makeup. No cute shoes. Bad hair. Sweat.With burlesque, there is the added element of trying to appear "sexy." Boobs up and forward, shoulders back, back arched, butt out. Even this isn't that bad because, come on, what girl hasn't posed to find her best angle in a mirror? But then add movement to that. Add boobs out, hand on hip, bend over, stick that ass out, arch that back, and - OH GOD!! WHY is my stomach laying on my LEG??? This is not a good look!! This is a TERRIBLE look!! How many people are seeing this right now? This is exactly why I shouldn't have done this. Right here. Evidence that I am NOT sexy. Nope, nope, not even a little. I need a mask and a muumuu and a triple cocktail.And that, because of what has been ingrained in me since I was a walking, talking member of society, is what I remember in the days after. That is my self-image for weeks after. The girl who can't suck her stomach in enough to keep it from touching her thigh. Who wants to see that? I mean, I don't have thigh gap and I'm good with that. It's hard to peel a stocking from your hand if you can't squeeze it between your thighs. Thigh gap is gross. But can I have a gap between my thigh and my belly? For fuck's sake??So, no. No, I have not learned to love my body and its flaws by looking at myself during a class. Even if the song that is repeated over and over for the routine we are learning contains lyrics pontificating the virtue of confidence. Nope. It's not happening.I'll tell you why it isn't happening. Yes, most of it comes from my inside voice. My inside critic. My inside bitch who wants to limit my happiness. It also comes from messages I've received during my life. Things like, "If you stand like that, your legs will bend the wrong way." "Did you ever break your nose? It looks like you did." "Do you EVER eat??" (This was when I was very young and very thin, a place I will never return to and don't really want to anyway, but it was still a message that I wasn't measuring up to an invisible standard.) "There's no way you still wear a size 4."It also comes from every image we see in magazines, movies, the media, online, and on and on. There is one body type on magazine covers. There is one body type in movies and on the red carpet. There is one body type in music. There are billboards for losing weight. There are too many diet fads to count, sugar-free this and "light" that and research upon research of how to avoid killing yourself while still breathing air.What, then, is the reason I have fallen in love with burlesque and my community in particular? Listen and I will sing you the song of the strippers.I went to a couple of burlesque shows before I started taking classes. I have been to a handful since then. What I noticed the first times resonates with me now and that is that there are different body types on that stage. Rail[...]

Partying With Women Who Sell Vibrators

Wed, 06 Apr 2016 21:01:00 +0000

This past week I attended my second Pure Romance conference, this time in Orlando. If you've ever wondered what happens when more than 3,000 women who sell vibrators get together, take a seat. It's a lot so I'm going to have to break it up over two posts.I also must note that I resisted going to this one. My best friend had joined in the previous year or so and we attended our first conference together. I didn't want to go without her. She was my crutch as well as my partner in crime. What I learned over the last few days is that I can love my business in my own way and that's okay and I don't need her joined at my hip to know that I have her support. We grow the most when we like it the least and I ended up being exactly where and when I needed to be.Day One.I have another job so I left at noon and arrived in Orlando in time to take a shower, adorn my non-bridal white dress and hit the South Beach White Party. I missed opening session where our fearless and fabulous leaders Patty Brisben and Chris Ciccinelli speak. Boo.The dress code for the White Party was all white. Self-explanatory, but harder to shop for than you would think. It actually looked beautiful - a whole room of white with pink lighting. And let me tell you, Pure Romance knows how to throw a party. There were 22 bars inside the dance room alone!! Let that marinate. Dinner was provided along with the first couple of drinks and then we danced all night!I somehow managed to lose everyone in the groups I was hanging out with so I hung out in the area above the dance floor and that's where I met my first friend for the week. Audrey is from Oregon so we had an instant connection. We also had a mutual disdain for all of the girls throwing themselves at the adorable boy guarding the stairs we were next to. Dignity, ladies.My roommates were still awake when I returned to our room and we stayed up until 1:00 in the morning talking about our businesses and our lives. Pillow talk at its best.Day TwoThis was a day of classes and the first one gave me loads of information that I could use and implement immediately.I should point out that several of our classes are conducted by fellow consultants. When we say that Pure Romance is a sisterhood, it truly is. Our top consultants freely, willingly, and enthusiastically share with the rest of us what has led to their success. They don't selfishly keep their best tactics to themselves but show the rest of us how it's done. This might be the best thing I like about this company but in another few minutes I'll come up with another favorite.The next class was a top company star sharing her information. This woman is a star in every sense of the word. She's tall, she's beautiful, she's funny, and last year her team sales were $23 million. Yes, million. A fucking 23 MILLION. I was behind her waiting for the elevator one night and I wanted to touch her dress just to see if some of her magic would rub off on me. Except you don't have to do that when she willingly TELLS you. I'm not sure girl crush covers it.There were two more classes with doctors who research sexual health and behavior, both of whom I saw last year and present us with tremendous amounts of information. The adorably cute brunette doctor used the "p" word more than once and I would have fallen out of of my chair if I weren't sitting on the floor where my phone was charging.When classes were over, it was time to grab some lunch and head to the room for a much-needed nap before preparing for formal awards night.The awards ceremony is[...]

Teaching Old Hips New Twists

Thu, 25 Feb 2016 18:46:00 +0000

I decided to take a giant, running leap outside of my comfort zone and signed up for a Burlesque class. Why learn to tap dance demurely or take piano lessons from a woman with a house full of cats when I can learn to strip to music? In front of other stripping women. Yep. Going for it.

I'm two weeks into a six-week workshop. What I feared so much before I now can't remember as it's really very much like a regular workout class. My legs and back hurt after the first night. My hips pretty much laughed at me when I asked them to shimmy. And, aside from the tall gazelle with the great ass, we're all just regular women in there. Learning the same awkward moves. Some of us have body parts that move better. Apparently butt reverb is a thing. I don't have it.

The side effect of taking a dance class of any type is that you start to notice more about how your body moves. Notice what different muscles actually do and what they can do. And muscle has memory. Whether you want it to or not. So you might fell yourself standing up from the toilet differently. Or you might be bent down to look at something on a lower shelf in Target and not realize until you're done that you just stuck your ass out and straightened yourself provocatively. Luckily nobody saw you that time. You hope.

Also? Your daughter doesn't want to see you practice because you're a mom and it's "sexual and weird." At least I'm getting the sexual part down. Probably in a weird way.

I do have a stage name in mind, but will still take suggestions. Must be sexual and slightly weird.

Ode To a Mockingbird

Thu, 25 Feb 2016 18:18:00 +0000

Harper Lee was not a prolific writer. I didn't even read To Kill a Mockingbird until after the age of 30. And yet, she is one of the most important writers in my life. When I found out last week that she died, I felt like a small part of my childhood died as well.

When I was growing up, without DVD's or Netflix or Hulu or any of the other couch-potato accoutrements, we watched movies on TV the night that they came on. There were a handful of them we watched every year. Some I still crave, like Sound of Music, and one or two I could never see again. (I'm looking at you, African Queen.) To Kill a Mockingbird was one of my favorites. I don't even know if my dad had read the book, but he insisted we watch the movie any time it was on.

I loved it.

I had difficult relationships with my dad(s) so I loved Atticus Finch. He was so wise and strong and Good. I wanted be be brave and saucy like Scout was. I wanted a brother like Jem and I wanted mystery and adventure on summer days. The film is black and white, but so easy to fall into. I swear I could smell Calpurnia's cooking, the dusty roads, feel the bark on the tree where Boo hides his gifts.

And Gregory Peck. I mean, come on. I didn't even know who Robert Duvall was for years and didn't realize he was in this movie until after I'd fallen in love with him as an actor. I don't think that's a coincidence.

Finally reading the book was just as glorious. Every page I lived in Maycomb, walked the dirt road to school, sat at the kitchen table with Atticus, Jem, and frequent guests, watched Atticus in the court room, listened to Tom Robinson tell his story, and learned the same lessons as Scout.

I like to think that my parents passed on important lessons they didn't know how to otherwise tell me through that story. I knew to never use the "n word" and that life just isn't fair a lot of the time. That there are injustices and some things can never be made right but that doesn't make the world a dark place. And people can surprise you in the loveliest ways.

I owe a fathomless debt of gratitude to Harper Lee for the memories of my childhood, for a book that I can dive into and emerge a better person each time I read it. Her words are forever etched onto my heart.

It's Enough

Thu, 11 Feb 2016 16:42:00 +0000

I did a Pure Romance party the other night for a repeat customer. There was a woman there I hadn't met before. She was nice, open, easy to talk to. I liked her almost immediately. Throughout the evening, she readily participated with the other women.

In the ordering room, she told me that she had once worked at a big adult store. One of those with four stories and everything imaginable and vibrateable under the sun. With her experience and easygoing nature, I thought she would be a great consultant and I told her so. I'm used to people saying no. "Oh no, not me. I could never!" Followed by giggles.

But this time the "no" wasn't from embarrassment or being silly. Her reason was, "Nobody would take me seriously. You have to be pretty to talk about sex and I'm just not. Nobody wants to look at someone like me."

And my heart broke a little.

If I'm completely honest about her appearance, sure. Her hair was a little big and frizzy. She's a little chunky. Who isn't? Put some conditioner in her hair and throw on a cute scarf and there is nothing about her that isn't approachable. I wasn't relating to her looks, I was relating to her as a person, as a woman. There was nothing that made her less of a woman than me or anyone else there.

Why do we do this to ourselves? To each other? When are we going to stop making shallow judgments about ourselves? And how do we honestly communicate to each other that we are enough? That we're more than enough?

A main tenet of Pure Romance is empowerment. We talk about it. We think we practice it, but do we? Because empowerment is about more than speaking up for yourself. Right? It's great that you can ask for what you want in the bedroom, or at work, or from your friends. Our voices should be heard and we should be respected and we should be able to buy what we want without being treated like "the little lady."

But it also means we should do all of these things without worrying about what we look like. If we can't be open in a room with women who have the same insecurities, the same struggles, the same relationship worries, how are we going to overcome this?

It has to start with us. We have to encourage one another. Validate one another. Celebrate the accomplishments we each make. Pay a compliment to a random stranger. Tell a mom she's doing a good job. Motivate, celebrate, appreciate. Do it over and over until you believe it. Until you believe your women friends believe it.

Enough is enough. Being a woman is, gloriously, enough.

The Year of Me

Mon, 18 Jan 2016 02:01:00 +0000

For a while, I was forcing myself to do things that scared the shit out of me. Public speaking via Toastmasters was a big one. I started my own business. When I went to Ireland I got a tattoo that says, "Without fear" to remind me of how I wanted to live. I moved across the country.

Then last year a couple of things happened that shook my confidence and my belief in myself. I felt vulnerable and exposed and I allowed myself to be judged. I crawled inside of Fear because it was comfortable. It was safe. When you don't risk anything, you don't lose anything. I told myself it was being lazy, because that sounded like I was in control. I just chose not to do things. Sloth may be a deadly sin, but it sounded better than being afraid and Not in Control of Me.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a friend about how she spent her New Year's. She told me that how you spend your New Year's is how you will spend your year. Hers included an evening at a comedy club, so her year would be about laughter. I had spent my 46th New Year's Eve completely alone for the first time ever. No parents, no boyfriend, no friends, no kid. Just me and the dogs. For about 75 seconds that night I thought I should feel sorry for myself. I mean, only spinsters with 49 cats spend the Party of the Year alone, right? And then I thought, fuck it. I'm good company. I'm a damn good date. I'd rather snuggle with my pups than freeze my ass off or hang out around a bunch of drunk strangers. Or drink and drink and lose three hours of my life and waste the next day hungover.

Given that thought, I am declaring this year The Year of Me. Once again I will step outside my comfort zone (or leap out of it in the case of the burlesque workshop I'm starting this week), face my fears, try new things, and set goals. It's time to aim high again. Even falling from heights (figuratively, of course!) is more satisfying what wishing and wondering "what if."

So. There it is. It's in the Universe now.
Let's go.