Sunday, March 30, 2014

Welcome to the World, Baby Boy!

Picture it:

You're brand new to this world.

You're taken away from everyone and everywhere you know.

You're being controlled by strangers with latex gloves and straight faces.

You're laid upon a hard, cold board.

Your legs are strapped down.

Your arms are strapped down, too.

Your blanket is off, your diaper removed - you're cold, alone, immobile, uncomfortable, and scared.

Your genitals are grabbed by one of the strangers who puts a cold, wet substance on the area, rubbing so much that you get an involuntary erection.

(Additional step that may - MAY - be taken in only 4% of cases: a needle may be jabbed straight into the base of your penis, doing little to numb the area and much to cause extra pain with the actual jab and injection. Perhaps a cream is rubbed onto the area instead, doing even less than the needle would. As stated, this is only in FOUR percent of cases, meaning 96% of the time, this step is not taken at all, not that it really matters anyway.)

The foreskin of your penis is ripped from your glans. This must happen, because your foreskin is as firmly attached to your glans as your fingernails are to your fingers.

You've long since been screaming in terror and unbearable pain OR you've gone into a state of shock, not making a peep at all. Regardless of reaction, you're being ignored.

All of a sudden, you feel a white hot, searing pain as the stranger cuts your delicate, nerve-dense foreskin one-third of the way down your penis.

You're still either screaming or in shock. You're still ignored or perhaps you're given a finger in your mouth that you're supposed to suck on or a pacifier covered in sugar water, neither of which do anything to ease your mental, emotional, and physical suffering.

Your sliced foreskin is now spread apart by tightly held clamps as a plastic hood is shoved under it and over your exposed glans. That hood is then tied over your throbbing, bleeding, traumatized penis with a string that will later help the organ to necrotize and fall off.

You're not done yet.

What is deemed as "excess" skin by those strangers ignoring your cries or complete shock is again cut off of your now mutilated penis.

A little dollop of petroleum jelly on your wound, your diaper back on so that you can urinate and defecate on said open wound, a quick clean up, and another swaddling and you're back to your parents.

You hear the stranger tell them what a "good boy" you were, that you "hardly cried at all" or "slept right through it," and that's it's completely normal for you to sleep 12 hours or more now, regardless of how often you were breastfeeding and sleeping before.

You have no voice. You have no way of telling them the truth. You tried earlier, but nobody listened to you.


Congratulations. You've just been circumcised.



OR...

You're brand new to this world.

You get to stay at the breast and in the arms of your warm mother.

That's all. You just get to be there...forever...secure, calm, respected, and cared for.

Which sounds better to YOU?

*The procedure described was the Plastibell circumcision, considered by pro-cutters to be the cream of the crop of circumcision methods and the lie is often told to parents that this method involves no cutting. Wrong. It's not. It's all bad. It's all wrong. There is also the Gomco and Mogen methods, pictured below.



Do you see? Do you see now why I and so many like me are fighting actively and with all our might to end this atrocity? Do you see?

If you still need more evidence as to why routine infant circumcision is, in fact, a gross violation of all we value in the free world, please visit Intact America. Tell them a friend sent you.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

30 Things Series #14: My Strengths and Weaknesses

I imagine my son could already knows these better than I do, but since he cannot yet type and it's a part of my 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series, I'll go ahead and write about my five strengths and weaknesses. I actually enlisted your dad's help with this one. The first five of each are what I perceived as my own strengths and weaknesses and the final five of each are what your dad listed. I think it's interesting to see what we both came up with and why. I also think, "Hey, good on me" for being pretty aware of my own weaknesses, as you can see that your dad and I agreed on three out of those five.

Strengths

1. honesty - I have never lied to you. It is my intention never to do so. I won't. How ever could you trust me if I did even once? You'll likely lie to me, honey. That's generally a part of growing up, but you'll learn, you'll grow, and you'll figure it out with time and experience. I will still never lie to you and I hope, with that time and experience, you learn that you needn't lie to me, either, that I'll always, always love you no matter what.

2. loyalty - I could've put this in either category, truthfully. Sometimes, I'm loyal to a fault, when those to whom I am loyal have tried their dangedest to show me they don't deserve it. Sometimes, my loyalty blinds me. Mostly, though, I am a "stand by your ____" kind of person. It's what I wish from those around me, so it's what I give.

3. integrity - Your dad always tells me that one of the things he admires most in me is that when presented with the choice between what is easy and what is right, I do what's right every time. I like that about me. It's how I can look at myself in the mirror every day. It's how I can hold my head up high.

4. organization - You can thank both your Mammy and Grandpa-at-the-Lake for passing this quality down to me. I didn't have a shot at not being organized. In fact, I have a Pinterest board specifically titled "Organization Gives Me Lady-Wood." Too much information from your old mom? Sorry!

5. accepting responsibility for my own actions - This has been a conscious decision. When I screw up, I like to just say, "Hey, I did it" without justification or qualification. I dislike excuses, so I try to stay away from making them. I just own my mistake, rectify it if I can, make amends, and move on.

D1. intelligence - "You have a large vocabulary, you know a lot about many different subjects: English, science, politics, parenting, and you are always trying to learn more and educate yourself."

D2. creativity - "You are always coming up with new projects to do around the house, things to do with [our son], new hobbies (like sewing), and you are always coming up with new blog topics. Plus, you work [in] social media, and you have to find creative ways to draw people in."

D3. independence - "You don't need anyone else to do things for you the way I do. You have a "can-do" attitude about everything and it's pretty amazing."

D4. mothering - "You are a wonderful compilation of nurturer, educator, and caregiver. Most importantly, [our son] knows you love him and care about him. He is your number one priority."

D5. honesty - "You are always honest. People can depend on what you say and rely on your word at all times."


Weaknesses

1. temper - Let me say first: this has nothing to do with being a redhead. I hate that stupid stereotype. Not that you spout it, but for anyone else reading, I say to them - stop saying this. (And stop saying a slew of other redhead-related things that just get under my skin, too. Hmmm...I feel another blog post coming on...) But I digress. Yes, I have a temper. There have been times in my life when it's been completely out of control, times when I seemed quite in control of it, and now I feel like I'm somewhere in the middle of the two extremes. I'm aware of it. I'm working on it. I'm sorry.

2. portion control - If something is good, I want to eat it...ALL. I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how people go, "Hmmm...that one Oreo was delightful, but I'm stuffed now." Pah! If one is delightful, the whole flipping pallet is orgasmic! My only solution to this is to not bring such foods into the house. This explains why we never have anything you want to eat. And now you know.

3. impatience - See, this is a craps shoot with me. I have a limit. I can be patient, patient, patient, patient, patient, and then BAM! impatient. A lot of this depends on how much sleep I've had, how hungry (read: hangry) I am, and how much patience I've used up already that day. It's like I have a finite amount of patience. If I use up 90% by 10 a.m., the rest of the day better be smooth sailing, or there's a pretty fair chance I'm going to lose it. There are many days when I still have a small reserve at the end of the day, so things seem all well and fine to all of us. I like those days. I'm working toward having more of them.

4. critical - I need to just repeat to myself all day long, "It doesn't have to be done my way. It doesn't have to be done my way. It doesn't have to be done my way." As long as it gets done, it's OK. This is a lesson I've yet to learn. Your dad gets the brunt of my critical nature, which, fortunately for you, leaves you free and clear to do things you own way. Your dad, however, eesh! Some days, he can't catch a break from me.

5. budgeting - Unfortunately, you may be hosed in this department. I'm only slightly better at it than your dad...and only some of the time. Just when I think I have it figured out, in comes some unexpected bill and I have to start all over again. It's tiring. I hate money. I'd really like to just work on the barter system. Can you look into that for me?

D1. temper - "I think you are improving on this. When you do get mad, boy, is it evident. And you can stay mad for far longer than anyone I have ever met. You do not want to discuss anything in detail unless it concerns what is bothering you. And until it is discussed to your satisfaction, you will remain angry. Seriously, I'm almost in awe of long you can stay mad for. I've never seen it done by anyone else."

D2. single-mindedness - "When you want to accomplish something, i.e. go to the craft store, grocery store, mow the lawn, all else gets pushed aside. There is a definite push to get stuff done. I know a big part of this is due to your being trapped in the house all day."

D3. critical - "I know you've mellowed quite a bit on housekeeping but when I screw up, and I do make my fair share of errors, I almost always hear about it. The times when you hold it in, I think, 'Whew. Dodged that bullet.'"

D4. stubbornness - "You do not like to admit that you are wrong. When I make a good point in an argument, you don't even acknowledge it, instead you just inhale sharply and move on."

D5. impatience - "Things like not having my wallet immediately out as soon as we get in line at the grocery store, not immediately buckling my seat belt in the car, not moving the instant you want me to when we arrive somewhere, make me wonder what all the fuss is about."

I wonder, my amazing son, what you would come up with as my strengths and weaknesses. I wonder what yours will be when you're reading this and when you're my age. Whatever they are, I love you.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Non-Negotiables: Ethics Over Money

I was recently put in a position to have to choose doing what's right over doing what's easy. In such cases, I have made it a point of personal policy to always do what's right. That's what I want to teach my son to do, so it is what I do. In the war of ethics over money, ethics win.

There are some issues on which I absolutely will not compromise, that are so completely black and white, I will not bend for any reason. Hitting children (and yes, spanking is hitting), leaving children alone to cry it out (read: neglecting them), and routine infant circumcision (otherwise known as genital mutilation) are my non-negotiables. There are no circumstances under which any one of those things is acceptable. Anyone doing any research on me at all has run across my about section stating very clearly, "Certainly, we're not all going to agree on everything. That's what makes the world go round. However, there are a couple of things about which I am vehemently passionate: no CIO (cry it out), no RIC (routine infant circumcision), and no hitting, yelling, or otherwise abusing children in any way. In my opinion, there are no debates about these things as there is no other arguable position once all the research is done."

About a year ago, I started a small social media management company. I keep my client list small, so that I can easily put in the time necessary and not take too much away from my son. I do much of my work while he's breastfeeding and/or napping. Not all of my clients need believe as I believe. I have two real estate clients - never have I wondered how they feel about my aforementioned non-negotiables, because they simply do not apply to their business or our business together. If I found they were corrupt in their real estate dealings, I would drop them in a hot second. When I take on a client that touts themselves as a gentle parenting/child rights advocate, you bet I expect that they, too, share the same non-negotiables. Given everything stated, it should come as no surprise to anyone that if I am put in a position to take your money or stand by my convictions, I will choose convictions every time. If and when the time comes that I am told, "do not stand against the abuses that are your non-negotiables when representing our page that SAYS it's for the rights of children and pro-gentle parenting, do not stand against Facebook when they wrongly delete a mother's photo AGAIN, do not take a stand against the wrongs that are proliferated consistently against those who cannot stand up for themselves and have done nothing to deserve their fate," I will always say a very polite but firm, "take this job and shove it" stance.

Make no mistake, I feel guilt about acing my family out of money. We will live, though. There will be other clients. If I, however, set aside my ethics for the sake of my wallet, I would not be able to look at myself in the mirror, would not be setting a good example for my son, would feel a much more crippling guilt that would last far longer than the guilt I feel for losing a couple bucks.

This is who I am. I will not apologize for it. I choose ethics over money.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

30 Things Series #13: Hardest Part of Growing Up

Continuing with the series I'm writing, 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me, I give you my thoughts on the what is the hardest part of growing up.

Life isn't fair. What a suck-o statement. It has taken me my entire life to learn this lesson and, in honesty, I am still tripped up on it far too often. The hardest part of growing up, for me, has been learning, accepting that life isn't always fair. I'll let you know when I finish with this lesson.

My hope is that this won't be the hardest part of growing up for you. Shoot, my hope is that the hardest part of growing up for you is whether to play with Pinkie Pie or Wolverine. (Hint: you can't go wrong here.) This doesn't seem likely, so let me tell you some of what I've learned in this regard.

- it's not fair that when you're the good, hard worker, you get stuck with more of the work, because you're the one the person in charge trusts with it and the slackers get to continue to slack
- it's not fair that people will believe stories they hear about you without ever considering there are two three sides to every story
- it's not fair that you can't get student loans, because your parents make too much money, but your parents aren't supporting, because you've been living on your own since you were 18 but the federal loan department uses your parents' income to determine eligibility until you're 25
- it's not fair that you do what "they" tell you to do (get good grades, go to college, get a job) but can barely pay your bills, because your student loans are so oppressive, whereas your siblings dropped out of high school, got their GEDs and make three times the money you do without the debt
- it's not fair to be resented by a sibling for always being so "bossy," but the truth is you were put in charge of helping to raise him from the time you're a tiny child yourself
- it's not fair that good people die and truly evil people continue to live and wreak havoc
- it's not fair that little babies are strapped to boards to have their bodies cut upon while their cries or clinical shock is ignored, because they're not considered people with full rights
- it's not fair that people are users and will take advantage of you
- it's not fair that dads are considered "good" because they "let" you live with them, but moms are held to another standard entirely
- it's not fair that Peeps aren't considered health food
- it's not fair that student loan debt cannot be dismissed in a bankruptcy (Evidently, I think a lot about student loans are not fair, huh? Issues...)
- it's not fair that you can't choose your family
- it's not fair that children get sick, hurt, and die
- it's not fair that people pick on those unable to defend themselves
- it's not fair that your grandfather thought his job as a parent was over when your dad turned 18
- it's not fair that your dad works SO hard, SO many hours in TWO highly skilled jobs and has a master's degree, but STILL makes barely enough to keep us afloat every month, whereas people throw a ball into a hoop and make millions for it

I mean, honey, I could go on and on. A dang lot just isn't fair. And I have, many a time, gotten mired down by all that isn't fair. That has been my problem. The deal is - life just isn't fair. It's not. Accept it. Move on. Do what you know is right, because it's what is right and don't worry about all the rest that isn't fair. You can't control that. If you can, do. If you can't, accept it and continue doing what you know is right - all the time. YOU be the fair in the world.

Friday, March 14, 2014

30 Things Series #12: Our Typical Day

Continuing with the 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me Series, I present a day in the life of me.

Wake up 8-10 hours after we went to sleep last night.

Leisurely have more bed.* This is one of my favorite times of the day. I lurve your breastfeeding face. I even wrote about it once here.

Check on your kitty and your boo** on the Kindle. You're a good caretaker. These were both your idea to get and they're always your idea to check on as you say how much they need you. You're going to be an amazing dad one day, if that's what you wish to be.

Share some toast and Ovaltine. You get your own Ovaltine, but you simply must have some of MY toast. Your own won't do. I understand.

Multitasking. You have bed, I work. Hopefully, if you're feeling enough need for bed, I can get all my work for the whole day done in that one sitting.

Work together time. Maybe I bust out my vacuum and you bust out yours so we can clean together. You're an excellent duster and, as you can see here, you wash a mean potty!


Walk to get the mail together, pull some weeds together while we're out front, hang out at the playground together. Whatever we do, we're together. As you say, we're a good team!

Water the garden together, check on our compost worms together, maybe kick a ball around the backyard (if I don't accidentally kick it into the neighbor's yard...sorry!).

Have some more bed and take a nap.

Dada comes home and we get dinner. Nom!

Play, play, play. Bug Dada. Play some more.

Have some bed, go to sleep, and do it all over again the next day. It's a good life.

Basically, we get to do whatever we want, whenever we want and the best part is that we get to do it together! You're my very best friend, buddy. Spending time with you is my favorite thing to do in life. Thank you for making my time on this world infinitely better.



*"bed" is what you call breastfeeding

** Talking Tom and My Boo apps, respectively.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

30 Things Series #11: 10 Pet Peeves

I've been working on a series for my son, 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me. I'm beyond pleased with the way it's been shaping up. The good, the bad, and the ugly are all being put out there for my son in an attempt to help us get to know one another, spark future conversation, provide insight, hopefully teach lessons in how to avoid my mistakes, and perhaps elicit some rolled eyes and giggles. Today's installment: 10 of my pet peeves. The challenge is how to limit this list...

1. Sweatshirt strings. It's not what you think. Almost everyone I know feels vehemently that sweatshirt hood strings simply must be even. Knowing me as I'm sure you do by the time you read this, I imagine you'd guess I'd be in that category. You would be mistaken, my little love. I cannot stand when sweatshirt strings are even! They MUST be uneven, noticeably so. If they cannot be, because they're sewn in evenly, I'll cut them out so as to eliminate those pesky even strings altogether. Seriously. Go check my closet.

2. Eating sounds. I do not want to hear anyone eat! Ask your dad. He's the worst. I have no idea how or why he eats SO loudly, but he does...and I may have fantasized about smothering him as a result...many, many times. Seriously. Close your mouth, finish your bite before putting another into your maw, and, if you cannot help but broadcast your ever mastication, sit far away from me. That is all.

3. Eating sights. Ask your dad about this one, too. Quite honestly, I just don't want to be involved in any of anyone's digestive processes.

4. Invading my bubble. If I can touch a person (generally speaking, I mean strangers), they're too close. I need space, man, space! Scooting up an extra two inches so that your grocery cart is brushing my leg hair is not going to get you through this process any faster. Back UP.

5. Grody hygiene (or maybe manners or awareness...label it what you want, it's all grody). Let me tell you a little tale. I was a new teacher at my last school and was sitting with a friend at a brunch table during an inservice day. One of the other teachers came up to my friend to discuss the team they co-coached. He was eating at the time. He then licked all his fingers and said, "I don't think we've met, I'm [Grody Finger Licker]" and put his slobber-hand out to shake mine. Licking fingers: I'm not above it. Shaking hands: please do. Licking fingers then shaking my hand: NO. I was appalled and said, "Dude, did you just lick your fingers and try to shake my hand???" The look on his face showed clearly that he didn't see the problem. Suffice it to say, I left him hanging and made sure never to come into physical contact with him again. Gro-dy.

6. Lateness. How hard is it to be on time? And despite what your dad tells you, five minutes LATE is NOT on time (I mean, "late" is right there in the term!). Happening every once in a while is understandable. Stuff happens. Chronic lateness makes me absolutely buggy. If you're ALWAYS late, get a clue and start getting ready earlier. It's not that difficult.

7. Dishonesty. Here's how to solve that problem: just don't lie. Also, not that hard. Lying by omission - same thing. Don't. My face is doing this as I type: -___-

8. Unfriendliness. If I walk right by someone on the sidewalk, in the hallway, in the store aisle - wherever - I at least throw a nod, smile, "hi!," or some other acknowledgement of the person's existence next to me. It used to be that everyone else did this, too. In the last, I don't know, 15 or so years, people have stopped doing this. It's time to bring it back.

9. Bad customer service. When friendliness out the window, so did good customer service. I'm petitioning humanity to bring it back! At this point, I'll just take a friendly tone, if the person can't manage to offer genuinely good customer service. I'm hard-pressed to find even that lately, though. Big pet peeve. Huge.

10. Unclear communication. Let me be clear: I am not a mind-reader. Want me to know something? Say it - clearly, directly, succinctly. That is all.

Aaargh! I have so much more to add! Text-speak in conversation, "should of" instead of "should've," incomplete hugs, speeding on a residential street, chewing gum like a cow chewing cud. I could go on and on. Clearly, I have issues. I wonder if you'll grow up to have a pet peeve about uneven sweatshirt strings and how we'll reconcile that. Hmmm...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

30 Things Series #10: Most Embarrassing Moment

As part of the ongoing series I'm composing for him, 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me, I present now my most embarrassing moment and ask that you keep in mind that, thankfully, I've grown since then. I'm already cringing.

I was at a birthday party for a friend about, oh, maybe 8 years ago. He and his family are Mexican and, as such, their birthday parties include Mexican traditions. Growing up in California and living in the southwest the overwhelming majority of my life, I'm at least partially familiar with many of these traditions and cultural underpinnings. I was quite close to the family and was considered, by them, to be part of theirs. This moment, however, may have been the moment when it all started to crumble.

Baked into the celebratory bread, was a figurine baby Jesus that was supposed to be the lucky charm for whoever found it. This particular one was missing an arm (or two, I forget). Everyone laughed and joked, taking turns going around saying stuff like "It's Special Olympics baby" (I cringe even writing that now...thank DOG for growth over time!). I took my turn and said, "It's third world country baby!" The record stopped, the staring began, the shrinking commenced.

A) I had no idea Mexico was considered to be a third world country. (Even now, as I Google it, I'm informed that it is not considered such by Mexican scholars, and is, instead, considered a "developing" country.)
B) I'm an ass.

I apologized then. I apologized later. My apologies were never acknowledged, leaving me with a continued feeling of jackassiness. Lesson to me: shut up. I mean, really, when in doubt - SHUT UP.

You're going to have these embarrassing moments, too, my baby. Such is life. You screw up, you apologize and rectify, you learn, you move on (and then you get to do it all over again, ad nauseum, until the day you die...fun huh?).

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Female Nipples in the Male Dominated Workplace

As some of you may know, I use to work in law enforcement. As such, many of my friends and family members are in law enforcement. I recently got this question from my friend Debra who was, at the time we worked together, the secretary to the captain of our patrol station, making her very in-the-know:

"Hey, did I ever tell you about the sergeant who complained about your nipples?"

Uh, no, but I was already laughing at the absurdity of it all.

She went on to recount the following interaction, from her perspective but about my offending body part, in all its absurd glory:

One day, the captain said to me, "Hey, mija, come in my office and shut the door." He then proceeded to tell me that we had a problem. He said one of the sergeants complained to him about your nipples always being hard.

I keep staring at him, in shock, listening to him, thinking, "Am I really hearing what I'm hearing???"

He went on about how they are distracting to the men at the station and that we needed to do something about it. So, I sat there for a minute before I lost it and said, "WE?? What the fuck? You gotta mouse in your pocket?"

Then he dropped this bomb before I really unleashed my fury at him, "Well, you. You gotta go tell her she cant walk around the station with hard nipples."

That was it! I said, "Let me get this straight, because the two of you idiots and whoever else you're saying is "bothered" by her nipples, you want me to go tell her to stop making her nipples hard? Are you FUCKING HIGH AND OUT OF YOUR FUCKING MINDS?????"

He kind of started laughing and I said, "I know your laughing because you think I just simply don't want to tell her or because I would be uncomfortable but that couldn't be further from the truth."

He responded, "Well, we as men can't tell her that."

I should've been surprised by all this, but nothing surprises me here anymore. I said, "Let me tell you something and then I want you to go tell that moron sergeant the same thing. I BEG you to go tell her. Please, right now, go talk to her because when you do and she sues you, him and this department, I am going to sit back and laugh my silly little fat ass off and hope she shares her kazillions with me."

I continued before he could respond, "Do either of you jackasses even have a remote idea about how the female anatomy works??"

Clearly he did not, but said, "Well, yeah, but what do you mean?

Oh lord. Now, I had to teach my boss an anatomy and biology lesson. "If you think for one second women control whether or not our nipples get hard, your dumber than you look."

He was stunned (and not, as you might imagine, because his subordinate was talking to him that way - this is law enforcement and this was me...it's all standard operating procedure). He seriously thought we could turn them on and off at will.

I said, "Let me tell you something, every single time I sit down to pee, my nipples get hard. Do you think I want hard nipples when I pee??? And wait a minute, if you believe we have control over this, are you telling me that you believe she is deliberately making her nipples hard to....taunt YOU fuckers????"

He sais sheepishly, "Well, I don't know, mija, I'm just telling you and I thought women can control this."

"UHHHH NOOOOOOO! Listen to me, if you and that bald-headed moron want to keep your jobs, I suggest both of you keep your traps shut. By the way, why are guys even looking at her tits to notice her nipples are hard???"

Of course, he said, "Well you cant help but notice!"

"Jesus Christ, it's not like they're so big they're gonna dot your eyes!!!! Stop looking at her tits, you know, look at her face or don't look at her at all and guess what - PROBLEM SOLVED!"

End scene.

Yep. That happened. And if I were a different person with different experiences or if I had heard this earlier in life, I might be completely mortified, humiliated, self-conscious, or flipped-out livid, but I'm me now and more than anything I laughed.

I'm still laughing. I'm not laughing because it's such good-natured humor, but because you can't make this shit up. That conversation actually occurred in all seriousness. People don't believe this stuff goes on all the time. People think women are making this up. We're not! It's real!

So, let's talk about it.

Up until just a few years ago, I was always self-conscious about my breasts. In fifth grade, I was already sporting a full-sized bra and in high school I was an E-cup. I wore unlined bras only, as I didn't wish to add any bulk to my already massive chest. As such, my nipples showed through as often as they decided to do so (I don't know...the wind blew, I sneezed, I was aroused, it was cold, or any number of other reasons a woman's nipples stand erect). This embarrassed me to no end. I would poke them in, if I noticed. (Of course, that certainly didn't help the issue.) I had been mocked and teased my whole life when they got hard and that, on top of my self-consciousness about my breast size, made me a head-case when it came to my entire upper-half.

If Debbie had told me then that this conversation had taken place, I would've been mortified. I was only 18 when I began working at the sheriff's department and was a very young 20 year old when I got to that particular patrol station. I had not developed a real sense of self and had no overcome the years of sexual head-noises that roamed freely in my brain. I wanted to be liked, accepted, and respected. Had she not stood up for me, I would not have sued, I would not have complained, I would've hid my head and my breasts and further sunk into the depths of self-consciousness.

It's worth noting that when I first got to the station, I was overweight. This conversation did not take place then. Presumably, my nipples got erect when I was overweight. The conversation about them being so overwhelmingly distracting didn't take place until I lost a lot of weight through diet and exercise. All of a sudden, the nipples that had been functioning normally on my body all the years before became too distracting for the male deputies at the station. Hmmm.....

My husband's first reaction when he read this was to say, "How are these guys suppose to protect and serve if they can't even get beyond the distraction of a nipple?" Good question. They are trained observers, this is true. I would imagine they would notice my nipples just as I might if theirs were erect before they put on their bullet-proof vests. Ok. So? So, according to the sergeant and captain, these men (not the female deputies, many of whom were lesbians...no, no, they weren't considered) can do their jobs only if able to completely focus on one thing at a time. Bogus. By that logic, they'd all get into accidents if a woman in a short skirt walked by while they were driving code 3 to bank robbery. In that case, they'd all run smack into brick wall instead of scaling it as a clown riding a unicycle rode beside as they were in foot pursuit of a suspect. Oh, no, wait...THAT wouldn't happen, because they're only distracted by what they see as sexual.

Newsflash, my nipples are not, in and of themselves, sexual. In fact, my nipples, in particular, bring me no sexual pleasure at all. They're not one of my hot buttons, no pun intended. Even if they were, the fact that they happened to be erect one moment would not necessarily be an indicator that I was aroused. Truly, my nipples get erect every time I sneeze. I have gnarly allergies. I could've just let fly a flurry of forceful sneezes. Ya, somebody better talk to me about that. Shame on me.

There is so much more that needs to be said about this topic, but, quite frankly, I'm tired and I can't imagine I'll ever get to all of it no matter how long I write. I'll leave you with one last absurd laugh. The dude genuinely believed I could control my nipples and was doing it on purpose. What in the hell? Learn some biology, for one. Further, more importantly, are women really just people set on the earth to do nothing but tempt men? That sounds like some ass-backwards biblical b.s. to me and I'm not buying it. Never, not once, did I think then or have I thought since, "I think I'll harden my nipples to distract and tempt that passer-by" proceeded, then, to plug my nose, close my mouth, and breath hard so as to cause them to protrude.

[insert eye roll here]

Like I said, there's ever-so-much more to be talked about here. Your turn now. You go in the comments. I'm off to laugh at the inanity of it all one more time. (shuckle - that's a combo sigh/chuckle and yes, I made it up, but you can use it if you want to)

"Sometimes, I Don't Like You"

My son looked at me yesterday, earnestly, matter-of-factly, gently, and said, "Sometimes, I don't like you."

"Ok," I thought. "Fair enough."

We conversed about it a bit. We talked about his feelings. I applauded his expressiveness and honesty. He was in no way mean-spirited. He didn't say he didn't love me or that he hated me. He simply said what he was feeling and that will always be welcomed in this home.

Shut down those feelings now and I'm sure to not have his feelings shared with me in the future.

Monday, March 3, 2014

30 Things Series #9: 10 People Who Have Influenced Me

I took a couple days off from my 30 Things My Son Should Know About Me series to believe myself near death from a ruptured ovarian cyst, but now I'm back and bring you ten people who have influenced me (the good and the bad).

1. You. I mean, how could you not be #1? You've completely changed my life. I hear this all the time from parents, from friends and family I have known before and after having children. Of course, children DO change lives. Sometimes, those changes are maybe only noticeable to those making them, though. You've changed me in ways that have made me nearly unrecognizable to those who knew me before pregnancy. And I love it. I love who I've become, who you've helped me become, and who I am still becoming because of you. Not many do. The changes they see in me are hard for them to reconcile. They see them as personal affronts to them. They're not. Because of you, I am becoming who I always should have been. I am happy with me. I am grateful to you.

2. Freddie Johnson. I typed and re-typed "the ex," "my ex-boyfriend," "my ex-fiance," "the pedophile," and a few other choice phrases, but I will not be ashamed by our past connection into not writing out his name in full. Freddie is a bad, bad man. We met when I was in my very early 20s. He was 10 years older, a fun coworker, and he loved me (or so he said). We were involved for more than two years. In that time, he was involved with someone else, as well. That person was a teenager. I was the one who found out and had to, eventually, turn him in to the very sheriff's department for which we both worked. It was humiliating. It was devastating. Investigators, our colleagues, had to dig into my personal life in a way I could've never imagined. I was shunned by those of the "good ol' boy" mentality who felt strongly that you never rat out a brother. Many of them had their own suspicions, too, I later found out. I was accused of knowing about it all along. I was accused of leaking information to the press afterward, as a way to get back at him. (I'm shaking while writing this. I knew he influenced me, but I didn't know it all affected me this much still.) The depression that followed was fairly epic. My self-worth plummeted. I became reckless, needy, and leery. Thankfully, I had the support of a precious few friends who loved me through it and their support kept me alive. May you have those types of friends in your life always.

3. Mrs. Hamilton (Kelly Lairson). She is the reason I became a teacher. I was her student every year in high school. She was everything. She made me LOVE geometry, algebra, and statistics. And I loved her even more. Every student who thanks me for being their teacher should turn right around and thank Kelly, because she is the one who set me on that path. She is one of my heroes and has been for more than half my life now. I will always be grateful to her.

4. Grandma Bray. Before you came along, Grandma was the only person in my life who I felt loved me and would love me no matter what. I'm far from perfect. I'm FAR from the Mormon ideal of perfection that my very religious family strives to attain. She loves me anyway. Her love is unconditional. She's the reason I understand unconditional love, it's true meaning, not just the words that have been said to me by others, and why I can give it to you. When she goes, a part of me, a part of our family, will die with her.

5. Roz Lewis. Sometimes, I feel like she and I saved each other. She believed in me. I believed in her. Together, we made a winning team, one that served to boost each other in myriad ways. She believes she couldn't have succeeded without me. I know this to be false. I believe she meant as much to me as I did to her. She believes this to be false. We may never reconcile these disagreements. That's OK. Time and geography have separated us in large part, but she is always a part of who I am.

6. Mr. Smith. Every one of those "big words" my students always complained about me using (for the record, "big" simply meant a word they'd never heard before, even if it were monosyllabic) can be attributed to Mr. Scott Smith and his 10th grade AP English class. Mrs. Hamilton is the reason I became a teacher. Mr. Smith is the reason I did a great many of the things I did in my own English classroom.

7. Debbie Lopez. One of those friends who stuck by me through the Freddie ordeal was D-Lo. She was the FIRST one to hug me when it all came crashing down. She was there to soothe me as I nearly hyperventilated in my office near the end. She is strong, she is vulnerable, she is open and she taught me, by example, that it's OK to be those things, too. She doesn't have a single clue that she'd ever be included in such a list as this. That's one of the things I love so dearly about her. Ya, when I remember even the smallest of interactions from 15 years ago...ya, that makes her one of the most influential people in my life.

8. Meg Hogenson. My best friend in high school. Neither of this has a clue how this happened, as we both intensely disliked each other at the beginning of sophomore year. By the end, we were inseparable. She was then similar to who I am now - it just took me 20 years to catch up. How crazy my narrow-minded, black-and-white, hyper-conservative brilliance must've made her, but she simply informed and let me sit with it. Like Roz, time and space have distanced us far more than I'd like, but she is always in my heart. Her voice is always in my head.

9. Dr. Bottroff and Rick Hogrefe. I'm combining two of my college public speaking professors, because, well, because it's my blog and I want to. I liked public speaking before them. I LOVED it because of them. My skills as a public speaker are 100% because of these two teachers. They critiqued, honed, pushed, and created a pretty fine public speaker (and I have no bones about saying that). Dr. Bottroff moved on before I got a chance to thank him. I kept in touch with Rick for a few years after I left school. He knows what he meant to me...I hope.

10. Your dada. If nothing else in life, the man has taught me patience. (wink...kinda) He has taught me to work through, rather than run away; that hurts can be healed, rather than left as open wounds for life; that marriage is more than just a couple goofballs who fall in love. I wouldn't be your mama without your dada. We fit. He's a pain in my butt, but we fit.

I wonder, sugar pie, who will be on your list when you're my age...