Being legitimate

Someone had to know I would broach this. It was inevitable.

 

In an interview aired this past Sunday, Todd Akin, a Republican candidate for Senate in the great state of Missouri, made this statement when asked about his feelings on abortions resulting from rape circumstances.

“First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”

He really said that. Really and truly.

 

Now, let me start by saying, as a woman – he has no right to an opinion. Really. I don’t get all up in his scrote and he’s never carried a baby, so we should just agree to keep our politics out of each others’ crotches.

And secondly, as a rape victim – fuck you, Mr. Akin.

Legitimate rape?

What are the other kinds? Illegitimate? Imagined? Maybe she didn’t say no loudly enough? Maybe she was “asking” for it?

I realize that people are falsely accused of rape. I know that happens, and it is a sad thing to know that someone would abuse such a delicate area for whatever reason.

But the majority of rapes (60-68%, according to a quick Googling) go unreported, and do you know why? Because of douchebags like Todd Akin. Because the first thing asked of anyone claiming rape is not, “What can I do?” not “How can I help?” it’s…..”Well, what happened?”

Because its not enough to be taken advantage of. It’s not enough to be violated. It’s not enough to matter so little that you don’t even get a choice in what happens to you.

You have to justify. You have to prove what you’ve claimed. It’s no wonder that women and men in staggering amounts just choose to opt out. Why prolong things and expose yourself to embarrassment…criticism…shame?

It happened to me. And just because it wasn’t a stranger in a dark alley doesn’t mean it wasn’t real. It doesn’t mean I deserved it. It doesn’t mean I hurt any less. It doesn’t make it any less legitimate.

 

So while Mr. Akin sits in Missouri with whatever opinions he wants to have about situations he will never face, I will try with all my might to let everyone know that things like this are not okay. It’s not okay to trivialize someone else’s hurt. It’s not okay to make blanket statements when you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

Help a little more, talk a little less. I think that’d do some good for everybody.

 

Confessions of a crazy woman

I had made the decision not to write about how terribly I handle certain things.

But I think I’ve gotten away from the point of why I started this blog in the first place…or why I used to spend hours on Xanga so many years ago.

So I’m going to tell you and hope that in doing so I don’t embarrass myself or my husband or anyone else.

It’s taken me a long time to finish this post.

Valentine’s day was, as I’ve said, fantastic. I spent time with the person I love the most in this world. We got a new car.

We also went out on Valentine’s night with every intention of getting tattoos. We didn’t get there in time, though, so we just made an appointment for later in the week.

The next day we started second guessing the design we’d chosen.

We designed and redesigned and googled and doodled and wondered.

By the time the day of the appointment came around, we’d changed our minds sixty times and still weren’t firmly set on a design.

Josh mentioned, after much bickery banter, that he just didn’t want to do it. It was partially done because he was frustrated and just wanted to shut me up, and partially because he was thinking like a sensible adult and knew we shouldn’t go into something like that with any uncertainty.

I know this now. I suppose I even knew it then, somewhere deep in the recesses of my brain. But I completely flipped right the fuck on out. Every insecurity I’ve ever had, every problem I’d dealt with, and every doubt I’ve ignored came rushing to the surface and I was in pieces.

He didn’t want to get a tattoo with me because he didn’t love me. Because it would embarrass him. Because he wasn’t sure. Because for some reason an inky scar carried more weight than a sworn vow and he didn’t want to have to explain something away in a few years.

Looking back now, I see how ridiculous I was being.

But it was real then, and not because I’d skipped medicine or gotten into the cough syrup.

One of the things we’ve talked about when I’m in therapy is that I just want my life to feel normal.

Normal for me – what is that? Being secure in my relationship, secure in myself, not caring so much about how other people perceive me?

Something.

 

In progress.

I’ve found that it’s easiest to be frustrated with change when it’s disappointing.

 

I had, like everyone does, a picture of what I expected from my life at whatever point. This point. Three years from now.

 

I wouldn’t be upset if, say, I were a millionaire this time next year. That’s not in my plan, but I think I could handle it.

 

(On a completely separate note, I’m watching the State of the Union and DAMN MY PRESIDENT HAS BALLS. Just saying.)

 

It’s when things go wrong that I don’t handle things well. 

 

When there’s less money than I need.

When a little girl looks at me to make it feel better and I can’t.

When I’m presented with a fourth grade math problem and I have no clue ho to begin it.

When the house looks like a cotillion of hobos took it over the night before.

 

I know I sound like a whiny brat. A pampered little simp. I suppose I am, but that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes I am totally at a loss. A loss of drive and fervor, a loss of confidence and security.

 

I suppose I need to buck up. Have a backbone.

 

I’m working on it.

For 2011

Since this is probably the last post I’ll write this year, there are some things I need to say.

 

As (what I loosely term) a writer, thank you for reading what I have to say. Even when it’s rambley and pointless, and even when I fail miserably at being entertaining. 

 

As a mother, thank you for the advice. For looking at pictures of my kids, reading about issues, and enduring things I think are hilarious or great just because I happen to be a mom.

 

As a student, thank you for your encouragement. 2011 has been a year of decisions, and the decision to go back to school is one I’m particularly proud of. If it hadn’t been for the cheerleading I’ve gotten I don’t know if I’d have made it.

 

As a potentially crazy person, thank you for making me realize that no matter how strange or off I feel, I can be honest about it and I’ll still have someone(s) on my side.

From a random act

I had promised myself I wouldn’t write about this. It seems…exploitative. Wrong.
 
But for some reason it keeps presenting itself.
 
Let me preface things by saying I’m not claiming to be some big mournful friend. I am not that, to the point that I wasn’t even Facebook friends with these people. I don’t really know why – there was no ill will. It’s just not something I ever did – hunt them down and friend them.
 
Anyway, it doesn’t matter.
 
Tuesday morning, Josh was getting up and dressed for his day. He was up and about like always, and on one of his trips in and out of the bedroom, I heard him catch his breath. I turned over to see him standing in the doorway, his phone glowing in his eyes.
 
“Amanda Cossey was shot. She’s dead.”
 
It was the most bizarre thing I could imagine being said. He might as well have been talking about goats with purple horns and allergies.
 
I saw faces, names, confusion of memories and high school and passing acquaintances.
 
Amanda had been in school with me for years. I remember her as bubbly and popular, but one of the rare kinds of bubbly and popular where she actually seemed sincere. I remembered basketball games and cheerleading.
 
And then it was just there, like something raw in my belly. I felt completely useless, and the kind of pretentious that makes you feel dirty. 
 
This sounds awful – but she wasn’t my friend. She was a remembered presence, someone I thought of fondly.  I hadn’t seen her since high school. I didn’t know when she got married or when her baby was born.
 
To feel the way I felt was somehow misplaced.
 
I’m still not sure why.
 
The day passed, the requisite Facebook statuses were posted. News stories
 
I know it’s normal to be confused when something like this happens. 
 
Except, dammit all, it’s not. Nothing about this is normal. And it doesn’t matter if we were friends or not. 
 
The fact is that a girl I knew is dead. Not because she was sick or because a car crashed. Because someone saw her as an obstacle instead of what she was…

 
A wife.
A mother.
A friend.
A sister.
A daughter. 
 
She wasn’t these things to me. 
But it doesn’t seem to matter. 
 
I don’t want to be one of those people who immediately jumps on any tragedy to talk about how great the person was and how close we were. 
 
I have good memories of Amanda. She didn’t deserve this kind of end. 
 
I hope one day we understand things like this. 

Today

Today is Election Day.

People all over will go and vote yea or nay or red or blue.

And I live in Mississippi, where the only time we make national news is because we gave birth to Elvis/Oprah/Britney/a million fantastic southern writers or because we’re the fattest state.

Well, now we have a new claim to fame – today we vote on Initiative 26, and if it passes, it’s a big deal. It’s a precedent for the whole country.

Now, I have opinions about this. Of course I do.

For just a minute, though, let’s not talk about what I think. Let’s talk about what this will mean.

Less birth control, in a state with the highest number of counties (17) featuring 40+% infant poverty. Not to mention the infant mortality rate (10.5 infant deaths out of every 1,000 live births), or the scads of children waiting in foster homes or institutions so they can be placed.

Fertility treatments….sure, as long as they don’t involve selective implantation or frozen embryos.

Raped? Pregnant? You carry that asshole’s baby because the law says so.

There are far reaching consequences regarding ectopic and molar pregnancies that I don’t even have the stomach to research (this is not hard hitting reporting, people).

Under this law, the miscarriage I suffered in January of 2008 may well have been the death of me, because only an abortion stopped the bleeding and saved my life.

The thing that bothers me about this is not that people disagree with my sentiment that this is one of the most offensive pieces of legislation I’ve ever heard. People disagree with me all the time.

No, what bothers me is that there are fifty bintillion churches who – over and over and over – have pounded into the hearts and minds of their faithful followers that this initiative is penned directly from the heavens. That by voting yes, they are personally winging their way into each Mississippi womb and cuddling thousands of fertilized eggs that may or may not become people.

It bothers me that if my preteen niece gets assaulted and molested, there won’t be a morning-after pill just in case. Her life could change and it wouldn’t have been her choice at all.

I respect the right of everyone to believe what they want. I do not respect anyone telling me how I have to believe and behave. Especially when they do it simply because a pulpit told them that was the right thing.

So go vote. If you live in Mississippi, please know what you’re voting for.

On a lighter note, tomorrow we’ll have a guest post from Lindsey at Campfire Song. This will be totally fun, you’ll see. She even mentions maxipads.

My family is not broken


image courtesy Google Images

I’ve been watching Mad Men a great deal lately.

I like it for the sap, the storyline, and the amazing clothes.

The men in my house like it for Christina Hendricks’ boobs. And maybe I do too a little.

Several episodes I’ve recently watched have made use or mention of the phrase “broken family” or “broken home.”

And I get it. It’s a phrase. People use it. I can even see how it applies a bit. I get the imagery.

“What God hath joined together let no man tear asunder,” or something to that effect.

Well, great. I’m happy that people have a picturesque tableau in their minds and all that.

But guess what, people? Fairy tales are shit. Cinderella’s feet probably got sweaty and fogged up in those glass slippers (I had a teacher in seventh grade who wore clear pageant shoes all the time and her feet did that), and I bet Prince Charming spilled his chamberpot a time or two. And ‘happily ever after’ could totally mean that Cinderella walked away with a tidy divorce settlement and lived independently off her alimony.

I’m not saying people never last forever.

They do.

People stay together through thick and thin and wrong and right. Stubborn people. People who don’t say going in, “if you do x, y, and z, I’m done. DONE.”

In my experience, those are exactly the things that end up happening.

Disclaimer: I’m not saying let someone hit you or hurt you or tell you you’re worthless. Please don’t do that. Please.

What I’m saying is that just because people have a fairy tale picture in their minds as some sort of abstract goal, nothing – NOTHING – backs that up as being true.

I had a pretty wedding. Friends cheered me on and family ate cake.

But it was makeup on a bunch of acne scars, and…well, shit happens.

The next time I was married because I wanted more than anything to be connected to one person – this person – forever.

And I have been. Will be. Through it all.

Our family is strange. It’s true. I watch tv every night with the love of my life and one of my best friends, who also happens to be the father of 2/3 of my children. They talk about football. We all laugh and hug and kiss all the kids.

My kids run down the driveway every day to catch the bus with no clue that people think our home is “broken.”
Lucy, Max, and Ava don’t love each other half way. That shit is full on.

Our situation is rare but it’s not broken. It’s exactly the opposite. We are each better because of the way we choose to live.

Max throws the football with Josh, plays chess with Dan (who actually has enough patience for it).
Ava paints nails with me, plays ball with the boys, shares her old clothes with the baby.
Lucy steals iPhones out of pockets indiscriminately, and we all turn on Yo Gabba Gabba or play peekaboo at least once a day.

Give and take. Live and learn. We pick up shoes and we do dishes and we cook meals. We bicker and fight and annoy the shit out of each other all in turn.

And we do it not to fix something that’s been destroyed, not to put a mask on something that’s completely false…

We do it because we are the whole. We aren’t a broken family, a blended family, or anything like that.

We’re a family.

The end.

Things I’m embarrassed to say

You may think I don’t get embarrassed by much.

For the most part that’s totally true.

But at random, inopportune times, I get weirdly heady and self conscious and it’s vastly unpleasant.

Yesterday, I went to the doctor. Issues with my ear.

It was an impromptu stop in, and I knew I’d have to wait for a while, so I took one of my textbooks to read.
When I went in to a room and the nurse came in (after weighing me and here’s the first embarrassment – 150 pounds), she naturally saw my book.

“Going back to school?”

It was a simple question, friendly and pretty obvious – but it made me feel like a moron. Like the ash reeking, mall banged, tanning bed woman who used to sit next to me in English Comp I and Hermioned every question until one day she had to quit because her factory job got to be too much.

I don’t know why. I mean, I AM back in school. It’s not a secret.

But I felt stupid. Like I’d gotten caught stuffing my bra.

So that happened.

And then I came home and I started wondering why I get bothered by some of the stupid crap I do.

Like how I can feel great and glammy and then I get among people and feel like a donkey in drag.

I think I’ve said all this before. Now I’m embarrassed.

So, to avoid any further confusion, here are some things that embarrass me.

I drink Diet Coke out of the 2 liter bottle.
I suck at games.
I can eat a whole package of cookies.
Speaking of school, I’m taking all the subjects in this one semester that I never took in all my prior semesters because they were difficult. And now I pretty much know I’m not going to have this fab Dean’s List gpa. I totally won’t fail, but I’m not going to blow the doors off like I thought I should.
I have hairy toes.
I don’t really know how to put on makeup.
I worry I’m not interesting.
I fear my perception of people is sometimes off.

I know everyone has things that embarrass them. It’s my hope that if I put them out there like that, there won’t be anything left to worry about.

So if you see me out and I look like a glammed up chubby ten year old, just know that I already know that. And that’s ok with me.

I’m out. Time for Twizzlers.

This is a better option than homicide.

I’m pissed.

Seriously, so angry.

I know little girls are oversensitive.
Dramatic.
Flighty.

But you know what? I don’t care.

Ava is seven, which I realize is very young. Shallow and fanciful and still clinging to the idea of Cinderella in crystal slippers and a cinched waist ball gown with a willowy neck.

I remember being seven. While I knew I wasn’t stick thin and lanky like so many of the girls I knew, I still saw good when I looked at myself.

I also remember when my uncle mentioned I was getting fat. He told me I was too pretty for that and I needed to be a lady.

Ava came home yesterday like she always does. She was dressed in what happened to be the first Ava outfit of the school year – I’ve mentioned before how she puts together her outfits and damn them all, she looks fantastic.

She was showing me her papers, talking about homework and such. I looked up at her where she was standing beside me, and I reached up like I often do, brushing her hair back and telling her how pretty she was.

Except this time she didn’t smile, give me a kiss and saunter off. She looked at me and burst into tears.

“No, Mom, I’m not. I’m really not. I’m so ugly.”

This is so fucking unacceptable I cannot clearly put it into words.

I don’t know who said what or why my baby girl suddenly has been wrenched into this harsh and pathetic world of flimsy and fake.

But it pisses me off. How dare they? How dare anyone tarnish what was already destined to be a precious few short years where she could be comfortable and confident?

I’ve tried everything I know of to hammer into her head that she’s perfect. Lovely. Absolutely breathtaking. And of course I knew that eventually things would come to this.

But not now. Not yet. She’s just a baby, and look at her, would you? Look at her.

How – why – what the hell? Really? Is it too much to ask that she be allowed a few more years before being submitted to the absolute terror that is the world?

Ava, you are beautiful. Your eyes, your face. The way you smile and make me smile and the way I’m so proud you’re mine.

Everything about you.

I love you so much.

Don’t ever let anyone make you feel like you are anything less than amazing.

If they do, I’ll kick their asses. All of them.

Love,

Mom

Looking back. Reflection and stupidity

I was doing some reading earlier – reading of old entries and how things have changed and not.

I found this post, and it made me think about a lot of things.

It’s almost exactly a year later, and things are so much different that they’re kind of startlingly the same.

As far as God and purpose and meaning go, I’m still kind of lost. The hit our faith and confidence took during our time in Jackson was severe, and to be honest I’m not sure we’ll ever fully recover.

We were so sure we were doing the right thing.
We were so happy, and then we were miserable.

But now? Not in a million years did I ever think we’d be where we are now.

Well, not really physically “where we are,” because really all of us living together is pretty much an epic adventure and it’s become second nature to us all.

But where we are in the sense of goals and progress and general good will toward humanity.

I was sure when we left Jackson that we’d never fully be happy and fulfilled ever again.

Dramatic, sure, but cut me some slack I WAS GROWING A PERSON.

If I could do and say anything I wanted, I’d say things to those people we left.

I’d say to Ellie, thank you for hiring me. You were more of the face of good in our months in Jackson than anyone else we met. You meant more to me in those days than I can ever say.

I’d say to Michaele, you are me with red hair and better boobs. I miss you more than anything and I would never have made it without you.

I’d say to Jackson commuters – really? Suck it up and put down that bowl of Cheerios when you’re going 80 down the interstate. Eat a damn granola bar if you’re that hungry.

I’d say to Priest 1 – you were the biggest disappointment. When we met, you were awesome and inspiring. You were hip and down to earth and we both loved you immediately. The confidence we both felt in you – as a person, as a priest, as a friend – was completely cracked and really disheartening. You never seemed like a lap dog…until you were.

I’d say to Priest 2 – I reached out to you. I needed you. And when you ignored that? I have never felt that degree of worthlessness. I trusted too much in what I needed you to be.

And to Priest 3? I could fill a book. The level of hypocrisy and disillusion that I equate with you now is staggering. I don’t know what I believe comes after this life – I don’t know if I believe we just end, or if we go on…

But if we go on? If there are saints and angels and streets of gold? I don’t want to be there if you are. Whatever Paradise is supposed to be, you can’t be a part of it and it still be Paradise.

so there it is.

I suppose I’m still bitter (who am I kidding), but I’m also hopeful. I never thought I’d have that again.

I do. We do. And I think that’s the best revenge.

art shamelessly stolen from Natalie Dee