Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday is movie night

Despite all of the hoopla over Netflix changing their pricing around, I jumped back on with them when we moved into our new place. We do not have cable, so having TV shows to watch whenever I want it a major plus. One that I am currently in love with is the cartoon Home Movies. The show is about an 8-year old boy who enjoys making home movies. He lives with his mom and baby sister and plays soccer. If you like the show Archer, you'll recognize Coach McGuirk, and love him.

I also really love Paula, Brendon's mom. She is a single mom who seems much more like my mom  sassy, mouthy, tough, and willing to do anything for her kids) than other moms out there in the cartoon world. Brendon and his two friends, Melissa and Jason, spend all of their free time making movies. That's right, kids spending time in a creative outlet and are encouraged by the adults in their lives to do so. Wonderful.

I'm hoping to get some more time tonight to watch one of the many documentaries in my queue, but I have been tied up playing Lego Harry Potter.

What is everyone else watching?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

What I am reading

In an effort to get me posting and writing more often, I'm giving days themes and trying that out for a bit. So Tuesdays and what I am reading.

I just finished a great non-fiction book, The Purity Myth by Jessica Valenti. I have been reading a ton of women/feminist books lately and this author is wonderful. She is a younger woman that connects beautifully with my age group and makes issues appear as important as they are without painting a picture that is too bleak to overcome.

The Purity Myth focuses on America's obsession with virginity. In our culture young women can either be perfect virgin or a dirty whore and there is no room for any shade of gray, which is just incredibly fucked up. Valenti manages to dissect the ways this dichotomy is presented to young people and how adults actively enforce it on themselves and other.

What I took away from this book was this: While there is nothing wrong with being a virgin until marriage (something friends of mine have done and are happy with) there is also nothing wrong with having safe and consensual sex before marriage. And that virginity is outdated at best, since it seems to only apply to heterosexual.

Jessica Valenti also has written other wonderful books and has a delightful Tumblr and founded Feministing.

I am currently mid-way through book 10 of Robert Jordan's massive Wheel of Time series. These books were recommend to me by my brother and while I have many qualms about the writing, the story is what interests me and I cannot stop now. I am really enjoying this particular book, mostly because the main character of the series is delightfully absent. Seriously though, someone needs to redo the cover art on all of these books. Last time I checked, people and horse legs were not the same length.

What are you reading?

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Love it

It has been awhile since I have posted here for a number of reasons. We moved to a bigger place and adopted a new kitten, and frankly, I have been just plain distracted by life. But since yesterday was National Love Your Body Day, I thought I would post a little something and some sweet links.

Like most women, I have my body hang ups. But there are so many things to love about my body. So yesterday I treated myself to a giant bubble bath and clothes that I am super comfortable in.

I love my freckles and my pale skin. I love the way my curves look. I love not dieting but still eating healthy (most of the time). I love being active and I love taking a day off to take a nap with the cats. My body has taken and thrown punches, fallen out of trees, and floated in oceans. It has seen me through 26 years with no broken bones, just sprains, migraines, and a plethora of bruises. I have laugh lines and a crinkle in my brow that matches the one my mother has. I love the tattoo that I have behind my right ear.

My body is a temple, and I refuse to hate it.

Here are a few links to some other love your body day posts:

20 ways to love your body
20 Things I Want To Say To My Twenty-year Self

Photo by the amazing Wildlove Photography

Friday, September 30, 2011

Get me home

I used to live in downtown Minneanapolis, right near Loring Park. I worked at a great store at the Mall of America. Many times I would take the cheap light rail instead of driving my car. Driving was it's own ordeal that caused me a lot of grief - mainly in finding a parking spot by my house that was 1. in an ok part of town and 2. closer to my place than the light rail. Here is a summary of how getting home went for me.

At work we were encoruaged to dress cute and so I often wore skirts and low heels. While at the store I was often hit on by guys who used lines like "Man, I have to tell you, redheads really get it going for me," while they have me pick out earrings for their girlfriends. I had more than one man follow me out of the store on my break as I went and grabbed lunch. And I just bit my toungue and moved on with my day.

When the store closed I would enjoy the empty time while I straightened, blasting Mika and dancing as I put products back and then rush to the bathroom to change from my skirt and heels to a pair of jeans and my sneaks. I would shove my fancy clothes into a bag and walk out of the backdoor into the back alleys of the Mall with my fellow coworker (who was almost always a lady as we only had one male employee).

After saying goodbye I would race to the basement to catch the light rail. Once inside I would try my best not to look anyone in the eye yet still look like I was aware of my surroundings and usually would try to read a little. Before I got off at my stop I would make sure my red hair was back in a tight bun and shoved into a baseball hat. My mother had me carrying one everywhere, especially when I was driving alone at night.

I had a long walk down a pretty empty street. I pasted Mary Tyler Moore's Statue hoping that the other people getting off of the light rail would branch off and not walk close to me. If there were too many (and frankly sometimes one could be too many) people near me I would cross the street. My keys sticking out from my fist and a permanet snarl on my face I stomped home as fast as I could.

Closer to my apartment, I had to decide whether to go down the well lit street that was home to cheap pawn shops that were chained up and super sketchy, or the not well lit street that was home to more upscale apartments. I never figured out which street felt safer because neither did.

At my building, I rushed into my apartment and locked and deadbolted the door. I checked to make sure the locks were on the windows that overlooked a very popular dumpster that homeless men frequented. I usually went straight bed and curled up hoping that the customer who had been bothering me about how my skirt made my shape look good would not be back anytime soon.

My mom came up once and wanted me to get a gun or pepper spray, but I never have had either.

This post was inspired by this article from Rookie: First Encounters with the Male Gaze

This article on rape culture is also worth a read: Rape Culture 101

Also, MN people, please, please think about taking part in this weekend's Twin Cities SlutWalk.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Gimme a H! Gimma a P! Gimme a V!

So Michelle Bachmann has been speaking out against the great threat to women, a vaccine that can prevent HPV, which can cause cervial cancer, because she claims that they can be harmful and have effects that will ruin the lives of us poor women. Please check out this article from my favorite magazine, Bitch, that explains and links to some great information.

When I was 20 and in college in the great state of Minnesota, I got a call from my doctor back home. My yearly tests had come back with abnormal results and I needed to come back in for more testing. I asked if I could do so on my next school break since home was three and a half hours away and I did not own a car. They told me that I needed to see them that Friday or Saturday. I was reluctant to make an appointment until they said "pre-cancerous cells". I made the appointment.

I was supposed to go on a sorority convention trip to the twin cities that weekend. But my bf agreed to drive me back home and I fired off an email to my soroity president and advisor. I do not know what, if anything, I told my roomates ( 2 of the 3 were also in my sorority) but I had mentioned the possiblity of cancer and HPV in my email to the head honchos. My president demanded a note from my doctor and she campaingned to get me kicked out for missing this big deal meeting. Our advisor was very curt with me about it too and while I was able to stay on, I did not feel the same about it. Neither of them ever asked me how the doctor's visit went or what the results were and I did not feel the need to share with them. So I do not think I mentioned it to mroe than one or two other girls in the group.

I could write a book about my mixed experience with this sorority, but this took the cake to me. I had very little support at the time. My mom was busy with her divorce and my sister's illness, all of my college friends did not know or were at the convention, and my boyfriend, while earnestly helpful could not really give me the ladies' perspective I needed. And the response I got when I told two people who were in a position of leadership sent me the message that going was a poor choice and if I had to go then fine, but between worrying about how my probable cancer would devestate my already crumbling family and crying my eyes out while doctors scraped and proded me, I had better damn well get a note that explained why I miss sorority pooloza.

The tests that I went through that weekend were painful and scary. So much so that I do not really want to go into them but let me just say if you have ever had a biopsy on the inside of your lady parts then you know what I mean. While I came out negative for cancer, I do have a strain of HPV and had to have tests monthy for over a year to make sure no cancer cells appeared.

So I am not surprised that ladies aren't talking about HPV and when they do they feel like they should just shut up about it. HPV affects so many people  - many of whom are men who might be passing this on to their sexual partners. And while Michelle Bachmann might say that these vaccines will cause harmful effects and right-wingers will say that they will turn young girls into sex mainiacs, in my case it has kept me from getting a more harmful strain of this virus and keeps me one step away from cancer.

Also, please watch yesterday's Colbert Report for great coverage of this issue!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

honesty is the best policy

I have always prided myself on being an honest person, especially when it comes to my life experiences. I am not ashamed of the people I have slept with, the crazy moves that I have made, or any of the "bad" choices I have made. And so it strikes me as off when I encounter other people (girls mostly) who try to represent themselves as other than they really are.

In high school, my friend and I snuck out of my house to go to a local band scene where we danced in a smoke filled basement to bad techno surrounded by guys who worked with us at the local Shopko. I do not remember much of that night other than being disappointed that my crush did not show up and being surprised that my straight-laced friend made out with a guy who was on Ecstasy. But more power to her I thought as we tottered home in the cool night air of our town's tiny down town.

Yet afterwards, my friend went out of her way to tell me that should I ever revel that she had kissed this guy (in public I want to add) that she would deny it and call me a liar. This is not the only thing she did over our years of friendship that came with the same warning. She wasn't dating anyone at the time and simply asking me not to tell would have been ok I guess, but she implied that she would be believed because of her goodie-goodies reputation and I would not because I had had sex before and made out with guys without dating them. She had an image of herself as a good Catholic girl and she aimed to keep it that way. Because I thought she was so awesome, I did not say anything about how this bothered me.

She was (an still may be) all about saving herself for marriage. I have no problem with this mindset per see. I think it is a gamble, but if that is important to you then that is what is important to you. And so this friend of mine never talked about the first time she had sex. She just pretended it never happened while it was happening. It was a long time after, and I think a bit to drink after, that she mentioned it and then brushed it right back under the rug.

Not being able to talk about sexual experience in my eyes is a big trap. Whatever that experience may be. And I believe that it traps others as well. If you are enforcing that the only way to be "good" is to ignore the sex, lesbian curiosity, groping with strangers, or other fantasies then others who look up to you will try to do the same.

And I want to say that I have and do have friends with very different sexual points of reference who are still able to be open about their views. My dear friend in college once asked me frankly what my views of sex were over coffee at a local joint and then shared her views. She never once made me feel my views were bad because they were radically different. That conversation was so unlike any I had ever had with high school friend.

High school friend and I are no longer in touch for many, many reasons. We stopped being close for awhile due to my honesty and it made me view many aspects of our friendship differently. Anyone who tells you that no one should believe what you have to say because of your "whore" image is not being a good friend or a good person. Some people are stuck by their small fairy tale image they have of themselves that when they see someone out there who is free they have to strike at them any way they can. I deserve better than that. You deserve better than that. Everyone does.

I own my experiences. Everyone of them. From the whirlwind romance that Geoff and I have now to the unrequited love I had in high school, to the time I made out with a friend and then continued being just friends to the guys with girlfriends I fooled around with at college parties. All have shaped who I am as a person. And that person is much more interesting than any image I could manufacture for myself.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A day at the Capital

Yesterday I volunteering at the downtown Madison Farmer's Market.  Myself and four other girls had a table set up for Panned Parenthood and we were passing out information, pins, and condoms and asking people to sign our petition. Many states are loosing funding to their Planned Parenthood and other laws are being passed that are causing clinics to shut down and women are left without things like birth control, pap smears and pre-cancerous testing. Wisconsin Planned Parenthood has lost a lot of funding and two clinics have shut down already. Our petition urges lawmakers to restore that funding: you can sign it here.

I am always nervous about hanging out with new people but one of the gals and I clicked and we set off together. We actually left the table and wandered the crowds asking people if they would sign. Which was a little scary, because I did not want anyone to tell me I was an awful person.

I was amazed by how many people approached us. We were wearing some pretty fly buttons and my pink hair tends to draw some people in. Certain older ladies and men came up and signed and talked to us about how glad they were that we were doing the work we were doing. We had a few people who were a little rude, but nothing we could not brush off with a smile.

We did have to explain to a few people that the because of the Hyde Amendment (passed in 1973), federal funds do not cover abortions. Which means Planned Parenthood does not use your tax dollars to pay for abortions. After hearing that a few more people did sign, which was good to see.

All in all I had a great time and am excited to do more for this organization. I am interviewing for an internship position with them and am signed up for the next Farmer's Market day as well. Plus I got to leave with a ton of free condoms.

Also I wanted to throw these pictures in, there is an organization and I did not catch their full name and so cannot find them on Facebook, but they put on little plays in the park and have a marching band. They did a play about Governor Weasel as a portrayal of Walker and it was great. Does anyone know their name?