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?

Friday, September 9, 2011

sniffle sniffle

Hey everyone, sorry I have been lax in my posting, but the changing weather has given me a horrible head cold. Colds turn me into a giant baby so I have been loafing on the couch, surrounded by used up tissues and pouting at Geoff to bring me more hot tea. What makes you feel better when you have a cold?

Here are my go-to cold survival tips:
  1. Don't fight it, just carry that roll of toilet paper around with you because you know you are going to need it and the thought of scurrying to the bathroom over and over is not appealing.
  2. Clothing is key. Sweatpants, ratty t-shirt and some sweater that you can pull off and on at a moment's notice. Also giant woolly socks.
  3. Hot Tea. My favorites are Good Earth original and Traditional Medicine's Throat Coat. 
  4. The couch - something about being sick means that I need to be in the living room on the sofa wrapped in a quilt or two. 
  5. A good book, or alternately, bad tv.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Weekend recap

Did everyone have a good weekend? I did, even though it was a bit stressful.  I don't have many pics from this weekend, but here is a bullet list of my highlights:
  • Babysitting Little Sister on Sunday night, which included playing dolls yet her and I being boys, reading books about dogs and watching videos of funny cats on youtube.
  • Waking up to Little Sister telling me she loves me and could she watch Netflix now please.
  • Hanging out with my Gram on Monday
  • Portillos lunch with Gram
  • Fabric shopping for the backing of my first quilt - we found something that seems perfect and snatched it up.
  • I took Gram to go see the Help and was surprised by how much I liked it
  • My mom gave me some clothes that I had forgotten about
As far as the Help goes, I was apprehensive about it because of the whole idea that a white girl needs to save these black women from the situation they were in. But, I found the best parts of the movie had nothing to do with Eugenia, Emma Stone. There is some powerful acting and great scenes and I think it was worth a watch. It also had two perfectly cast characters from True Blood in it that made me happy. My Gram loved it, and the theatre was packed for a third week out movie showing in the afternoon. And afterwards almost everyone clapped, which I have not seen outside of Lord of the Rings or Star Wars.

I am back home now and getting set to go back to work today. The weather is beautiful and I'm ready to tackle another week. I'm hoping to make a little progress with my quilt this week so hopefully I will have some pictures for you.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


I stumbled upon this project that helps feral cats and I just think that it is too cool not to share. The Teal Cat Project sells teal cat figuring and the money goes to help trap-neuter-return feral cats to help combat the incredible population of stray cats.

They take donations of money and any cat figurine to be painted and passed on. Currently they are sold out of their first batch of cats and are getting ready for a new batch. However, they do also have t-shirts for sale.

I think this is a very sweet project that is doing great work on behalf of animals. And every one's apartment would look better with one of these cats in it.
Teal Cat Project website

I don't mean to be a b...

Last night while I should have been sleeping I got started thinking on how my personality is percieved. In high school and most of college, I feel like I had the abilty to be bitchy and blunt, telling people what I thought no matter what. And somewhere I lost that and now I feel that I come off as very passive and sweet, which is not how I see myself inside.

Now, I know that being bitchy is not seen as a positive thing, but I think it can be sometimes. If inside you are dying to slap your ex but instead you tell him you'll always be there for him, you are doing nobody a favor.

There are a few things I still get fired up about. I have no tolerance for those who make fun of people with disabilities and have walked out of classrooms and dates because of this. While I am not as likely to roll my eyes in public, I will give a wayward look of disdain.

Basically, I want that agression and confidence I used to feel by tapping into my inner bitch. And I want to feel ok with expressing those emotions when I feel them because as a society, I still think that women are supposed to be demure and agreeable unless we are wearing a tank top and fighting bad guys in heels. And even then we melt for the right person.

These thoughts came about because recently I have found myself apologizing to random people for anything and everything, for walking down the hall and for for filling up a cup at the water cooler. After I walk away I feel so stupid, because they did not feel the need to say sorry for using the last avaliable sink in the bathroom or for asking a supervisor a question. And I think I need to tap into the inner bitch that I used to let free.

To be fair to the word, I do not think that being assertive is the same as being a bitch, but culturally, I have noticed that most people view it as the same thing. While I do not want to be mean, or rude, I also do not want to be a doormat to other people while simply trying to get through my day.

Which leads me to my goal for this month  of September. I am done apologizing. I am going to stop and bite my toungue and just smile in an akward situtaion instead of saying I am sorry. If I do greviously wrong someone or genuininly do something wrong, I will apologize, but all of this unecessary bullshit is weighing me down and I do not need it. And if I do slip up, I think I will put a dollar in a jar and then donate that money to charity.

Am I the only one with an apology complex? Anyone else want to say no to meaningless "I'm so sorry"s?