An evaluation and self reflection

I’ve been busy.  Work is busy.  The semester of class is winding up.  Life is busy.  We go on vacation in just over two weeks.  I go back to MD Anderson with my dad in just over a week.  But, as I enter a time of year where things try to tie themselves up into bows to relax over the summer, I can’t help but reflect over where I have been, and where I’ve come in a year.  Roughly a year ago (I’m not sure of the exact date, but we are right on top of it), Mr. ENFP and I reconnected.  At that point, I was lonely.  I had nothing pushing me forward.  I had a one year old who was almost two, who was as self-sufficient as one year olds are, but who was past the demands of infancy.  Life was waiting to open back up past motherhood.

A bit of a tangent, but everyone always talks about how much work it is to be a parent.  While I won’t disagree with that, to me, it’s not about it being so much work, but more this all-consuming life shift. You go from being an individual to a mother.  Suddenly this little life is your responsibility.  You have to make sure it’s fed, and rested, has clean clothes and a clean diaper, and you also have to provide for its safety and well-being.  Sometimes a baby just needs and wants to be held.  Though toddlers want that less, they still need it too.  Having come so early, he came with many complications, all of which have seamlessly resolved, but the suction into motherhood was hard and solid.

Anyway, you spend the better part of two years of your life in this all-consuming state.  Somewhere around the two year mark, the child gets just a little less dependent, or your brain says its had enough, or both.  That’s where I was this time last year.  My husband hadn’t yet gotten out of this state.  I was bored, and lonely, and just under stimulated in every way. Facebook would still occasionally suggest reaching out to people during this period, and while I didn’t do it when Facebook suggested that I reach out to Mr. ENFP, Facebook did suggest we reconnect.  It had annoyingly reminded me of his birthday.  10+ years of nothing from Mr. ENFP, and all of a sudden I would see when he liked or posted stuff.  Mr. Zuckerberg’s crew had ideas.  So I messaged him.  Apparently, I messaged him at the worst point in his life.  His marriage had fallen apart.  By all standards, his life was in a shambles.  As he entered summer, he entered this vast wasteland of nothing to do except drink and be miserable.

I am not prone to meddling in people’s business, but for whatever reason, I asked what happened, and probably pushed a little bit.  He’s always been more prone to sharing than I was, but shared he did.  Then I was involved.  My friend was floundering, and while I couldn’t necessarily make anything better, I could make sure that he didn’t get lost in the abyss.  The hours I have spent consoling and dissecting life with Mr. ENFP are real.  Looking back, he probably didn’t want to share with those too close to him, but he had to share with someone.  Someone who he’s known since high school who happens to be 1200 miles away was probably a safe bet. I remember him dropping the gauntlet over Facebook messenger while I was at work, and me literally pushing the chair back, having to digest out of shock.

So a year later, he’s a much shinier version of himself.  He’s doing well.  Really well.  Maybe he’s not where he wants to be, but I’m not totally sure he knows where exactly that is yet.  There’s all of this potential and energy bubbling just under the surface, waiting to explode.  He’s worried about summer as last summer was such awash on the things he wanted to do, yet didn’t. And while nobody ever does all that they want all the time (I mean, what would be left to do if we did?), I do fully believe he will, at the very least lay, the groundwork for something phenomenal this summer.  I have a lot of pride in seeing how far he has come.

Our friendship has made several significant evolutions over the year.  When I reached out to him, I don’t think I was looking for an affair, but I needed something.  I felt like I was mentally wasting away.  Admittedly, feelings from the past were resurrected, but those have burned and cooled.  There is a great amount of love there, I believe on both sides, but it’s the love of great friends.  It’s familial.  I defend him much like I’d defend a sibling (except I can’t stand my little brother, so really it’s what I imagine defending a sibling would be like).  There was a lot of insecurity at the beginning, and really until recently, on my part.  It’s not often that I open up to people.  It’s less often that I allow myself to need them.  Mr. ENFP pushed me to get back into music.  He pushed me to begin the work towards paralegal certification when I decided I had too much on my plate.  He pushed me to try to make friends with people.  While I don’t have a bursting circle of people around me, I do have more friends than I did a year ago.  One of them didn’t make the cut (ESFP + INTJ = loads of frustration), but not all friendships do.  Now, a year later, I’m mostly confident most of the time that Mr. ENFP is just my friend, and will always be my friend, whether we talk 15 times a day or 1 time a week.  That security will be put to the test in a few months, but that’s not now.

Likewise, my husband and I have made great strides over the past year.  We’re more intimate with each other.  We have more frequent and better sex than we did a year ago.  We haven’t made it back to the position of team, but we are both working towards that.  I am interested in seeing how our vacation will be. We’ve never taken a vacation with just the three of us, and our son has never been to the beach.  It should be both a wonderful and exhausting experience.  Usually I read about 6 books on the beach.  My goal is 1-2 this year.  I have been forewarned many times that going to the beach with a toddler is an entirely different experience than going to the beach as an adult.  I feel like there is a whole world of possibility brimming with us as well.  Time will tell.  We’ve both decided we are in this for the long haul, and the long haul is never a quick journey.

As for me, a year later, I still feel some unrest sometimes.  I’m in a phase of growth.  I can’t do real paralegal work until I am certified. That leaves a certain amount of boredom at work. Unfortunately, there’s still at least another year and a half of class for that.  Growth musically is slow and connections based.  The connections were dormant for so long that they take a while to push back together, but it’s coming.   My dad is still alive.  The trips to Houston are every other month.  They’re exhausting, but he is still alive and working, which is better than we were a year ago.  All in all, I’m in a better spot than I was a year ago.  Frankly, I have Mr. ENFP to thank for a lot of that.  Sure I had to do the leg work, as did he in his own life, but it’s nice to have an advocate who will both cheer you on relentlessly and call you out when necessary.


Large Peculiarities

There’s an article in the NY Times by Scott Korb on the college freshman’s essay.  He starts the article by reading an excerpt from William Finnegan’s “Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life,” specifically quoting “Our queer devotions, frustrations, little triumphs, and large peculiarities, plus a few waterfront characters, plus photos, could probably keep a blog burbling along.” He asks his students to decipher the meaning, to which he gets nothing.  Frankly, in my opinion, as college freshman even at the New School, he should expect to get nothing.  He then goes into this bit about somehow along the way how the “I” is squashed out of our writing, and how at 18, or whatever, we’re considered inexperienced.  He then goes on to say that we should look at these young minds and take value in what they’ve experienced.

I agree.   Specifically, at what point does one person go from experienced to experienced?  I’ve worked in law for a decade.  By every stretch of the word, I’m experienced.  But, when did I cross that threshold?  Minus the subject matter, some of the best training I got was when I was 19 years old and working in the band hall at Ole Miss.  Working there taught me more about the fundamentals of how an office works than any other singular position.  There was a certain amount of pressing flesh (recruits coming to visit, not to mention the summer work that involved cold calling kids trying to get them to join band), deadlines for various things were monitored, not to mention the standard of answering the phone and working the copy machine.  You can argue that these events are seemingly inconsequential – and maybe they are – but working in the band office while at Ole Miss laid the foundation that ultimately set me up for the rest of my life.

Strangely, the rule of ‘thou shalt not speak in the first person’ in writing passes on to the real world.  In law, you ALWAYS work under the guise of the firm.  Everything is a we.  Always.  Nothing is ever an “I.” “I’s” open you up to liability.  You never act as a single person.  Whether one attorney or 15, it’s a we, always.  I assume it is the same way in every other professional field.  You work under the practice.  You are never yourself.  You are an agent of whatever it is.

Somewhere along the way, we manage to separate the “I’s” of our personal life, and “we’s” of our professional life, and experience and understand those large peculiarities which never as a freshman in college we’d have embraced.  For those of us who have a higher intellect, we allow ourselves to identify as weird.  We become familiar with our insecurities.  We understand where we are mainstream, and where we are not.  Maybe, we even become comfortable with it.  But, when does that happen?  It’s not an instant thing.  It’s largely gradual.  I remember being aware of my difference in late college, but unable to identify exactly what was different.  I now understand that my personality type automatically quantifies me as different, weird, strange, an anomaly, but those four letters alone don’t make me who I am.

One of my dearest friends is getting married in approximately three months.  The only things that are conventional about her wedding is that she has a white dress, and that it is in a church.  She has no engagement ring (they bought a piece of art in the desert).  Her bride’s maids (of which I am one) are on their own for dresses.  No guidance whatsoever, other than it should be pink, green, black, or white, or whatever.  Blue would be ok too.  Her bridal registry is anything other than what one normally registers for.  I could go on and on.  Seeing this, seeing everything play out makes me aware of how weird my friend is and has been our whole life.  I’d always considered her more normal as she always had lots of friends (she is an ENFP after all), but she is just as odd as can be.  I’m sure it’s why I like her so much.  Normal has never been a jacket I was comfortable with.

So what’s all of this about?  Just some thoughts, inspired by daily reading of the NY Times.  A blog is after all, my thoughts.  By default, it’s all about me.  It’s a comfortable embrace of the “I” position.  It’s my life.  It’s my story.  But mostly it’s my thoughts.

Rather than pretend like the experiences we have when we’re 15 or 18 or even 25 are worthless, maybe we should take them as building blocks.  When you encounter that young person, rather than labeling them as inexperienced, or naive, maybe, just maybe, we could take it simply as they’ve had less life than us and are perfectly experienced for their place in life.  Surely we can’t hand down the experiences of a 40 year old onto a 15 year old.  Why should they be held to the same standard?

Embrace the I folks.  It’s your greatest asset, aside from those large peculiarities.

Facing the spectrum

My husband has asperger’s.  He was diagnosed late in life, I believe he was 30.  We knew he was an aspie before the diagnosis, but as he was older, you had to have a psychiatrist referral for the testing, and his psychiatrist wouldn’t sign off on it.  Really, ultimately, it hasn’t mattered.  I don’t really do anything differently in our relationship than I did before I knew he was an aspie.  But, it brings a different colored light to things.  One of the things that is the most important for a well-functioning aspie is cognitive behavioral therapy (“CBT”).  As a neuro typical, no matter how introverted, we reach out into the rest of the world and ask (cognitively or not) how what we are doing affects the world around us.  Someone on the spectrum does exactly the opposite.  They ask how the world affects them.  Seeing a CBT helps keep the aspie opened up into the world just enough to pass for a little weird.  With the right therapist, things are great.  With the wrong one, they’re terrible.  Medical intervention is important, and he is on a variety of medications, but that therapy, that’s the make or break.

He had a therapist for many many years who was wonderful.  Frankly, I figured they’d grow old together.  He knew the whole family.  I’d been with my husband a few times.  However, therapists don’t generally make much money, and as things go, he decided to become a nurse practitioner.  Since then, my husband has gone to one of his partners, who was disastrous, another guy who is a CBT who would randomly cancel and miss appointments (also disastrous), and has recently began seeing a lady who is not a CBT, but was recommended by his psychiatrist.  She has requested to meet me, which is a first in our relationship.  My husband liked her on first meeting, but first meetings generally are pretty benign in the therapy world.  It’s like trying on a pair of jeans – ‘do you immediately not fit? No?  Well, I’ll keep coming to see you.’  Eventually you find that person who just gets it.

So tomorrow, my son will go to his grandmother’s and my husband and I will trot off to therapy.  I’m a little anxious.  I won’t lie.  This has, without a doubt, been a growing year for us.  As we approach our eighth anniversary of marriage, I feel the weathering we have taken this year.  Having a child who was born 15 weeks early takes its toll on any situation.  And children take so much time when they’re small.  This time last year, I truly felt as if I’d lost myself, and was dismally gray.  I am not exactly sure what I was looking for at the time, but when I reconnected with Mr. ENFP, I was looking for something.  Now, he stands kind of as that reminder that I need to consider myself occasionally.  He’s helped me get back into music which has been an excellent outlet for my life.  But, with Mr. ENFP’s friendship, I feel much stronger in my marriage.  I know what I want and need out of my marriage, and what I can’t get out of my marriage.

For me, marriage is a place of comfort.  It’s a refuge.  It’s a soft place to land.  We all take care of each other and love each other.  We encourage each other, but it’s not the place to challenge or push.  But, I need that perspective to keep moving forward – working towards paralegal certification, advancing my playing.  And that is where Mr. ENFP (and Dr. ENFP) come in.  He gives that edge of a push of accountability to make sure that I’m doing what I need to be doing, and when I’m not, he will call me out on it.  The situation is likewise, but this isn’t about him.  It’s about me.

I feel fairly confident that the subject of Mr. ENFP is going to come up tomorrow.  It’s been a sticking point in our marriage multiple times over the past year.  Frankly, I will be surprised if he doesn’t come up.  All week, I’ve been examining his role in our marriage, and I feel fairly certain my husband has been doing the same.  About 80% of what we talk about is musically related.  The friendship is mostly based out of accountability.  I’ve watched my husband examine this as well.  I hope he’s come to the same conclusion.

Therapy will be what it will be.  I’m going in with an open mind and an open heart.   Really, that’s all you can do.  I’ve been in this marriage for eight years, and have plans to be in it for many many more years.  I hope he sees that.

Post 6

I have been struggling for days what to write.  I have about five half composed posts, none of which I like the direction they traveled.  So I start anew, again, on post six, which I’m determined to publish, no matter what direction this takes.

I’ve found myself folding further and further into myself the past week.  I’m not necessarily full of thought, but more observing the world around me.  It’s not turbulent.  It’s not emotional.  It just is.  Mr. ENFP and I had a pretty significant squabble last weekend, which basically came down to our friendship not being 100% mutual because it couldn’t be.  By nature, I am more available than he is.  I have a kid, so there comes with that a certain attachment to your phone.  You can’t quite get away from it ever, in the thought that one of the grandmothers, or husband will call with a problem or broken bone.  So far, neither has happened, but still, as a mother, it’s what you do.  My schedule also fits more neatly into his, than his into mine. Still, in that realization, it causes me to step back quite a bit.  In my teens and 20’s, I was perfectly fine with being the better friend.  Not really, nobody’s ever just fine with being the better friend, but still, I accepted it as a part of who I was.  In my 30’s, if you’re not putting as much into a friendship as I am, you are simply not worth the effort.  My time and energy are both finite, and I will give you exactly no more time than you give me.  It sounds harsh, and feels harsh, but in the week that I’ve cared just a little less, except for the writing of this paragraph six times, I have felt better.  I can’t make him something he’s not. If he chooses to let deadlines slip by for applications to various colleges, so be it. I’m not his mother.  I’m not his girlfriend.  I’m certainly not his wife.  I’m in this vague ambiguous box, with more power or pull than a normal friend, but nothing that will ever be defined – confidant, voice of reason, any number of names that could be placed here, nada.  Just friend, with my own shit to worry about.  That seems so dry and harsh, but really, it’s not.  He’s still my friend.  But he’s not my life.  I have a husband and child who I adore.  Sometimes you have to put people in their respective boxes, and let them be. Interestingly, since I’ve established this boundary, which I need for myself, he’s been around more frequently, constantly trying to edge back in.

In the rest of my life, I’m working on paralegal certification.  This semester, I’m taking legal writing (which is dull as dishwater.  I do this every day) and debtor creditor law (which I hope to never really use).  Surprisingly, debtor creditor is interesting.  The guy who teaches it is an ADA, and he has basically set us up a lawsuit with in the class that we are both prosecuting and defending, depending on which team you’ve been assigned.  I’ve been assigned to the contractor team.  Paperwork wise, it’s the easiest.  No matter what, we lose.  We’re liable for the bill that was unpaid.  It just is.  But, as I try to find some exception to assert, some claim to pass on to some yet unidentified third party, I spend more time digging around in circles, proving everyone else’s case, but my own, which can’t be proven because like I said, we’re wrong.  Legally, factually, everything.  Wrong.  We lose.  We owe the money.  Were this real, I’d have advised our people (or rather told whatever lawyer I was working for to advise our people) that we should settle this quickly.

Likewise, the teacher who teaches legal writing made this big speech at the beginning of the semester that the law touches on all things political, but that we aren’t supposed to talk about politics.  So what does she do?  Pretty much every class has started or finished with something that our magnanimous orange president has done, usually that day, and wondering what kind of legal authority he has to actually do it.  Yesterday started and ended with his latest ploy of sending the National Guard to the border with Mexico.  She’s got something there.  He’s not declaring war.  They’re not border security.  Just exactly what are they doing?  What authority does he have to actually make them do whatever it is they’re supposed to do?  I imagine hundreds of thousands of men all linking hands like in elementary school playing Red Rover with the illegal immigrants trying to get into our land.  I mean really.  People die in the desert southwest trying to get in.  This happens often.  This happens so often that various welfare groups leave collections of water along the way for the crossers who would surely perish otherwise.  Perish.  Die.  Notice that I did not say get a little hot, or maybe have some heat stroke.  People are found dead in the desert in Arizona who try to cross into the US.  Are you really going to deploy the good men of the National Guard into that?  Really?  And, again, what authority do you have to do this?  You’re not declaring war.  You’re not really protecting us from sort of imminent threat.  You’re not rescuing our citizens from some natural disaster.  You’re sending some dudes down south to play grown up red rover.  Except nobody [from Mexico] gets to come over.

We’ve also entered that time of year that burnout is real.  Vacation is a mere six weeks away.  I can almost feel the sand and taste the salt of the air. The beach calls to me.  Swimsuits have been ordered.  My cell phone shall be silenced and left in the condo while my husband, two year old, and I bask in our SPF 45.  Sometimes you need to disconnect.  I make no bones about it – that time is now.

Six posts in, and I wrote 1000 words.  I sit quietly, not talking, merely clicking away on a keyboard, but I’ve done what I set out to do.  It doesn’t look anything like I’d like it to, nor is there any cohesive theme, but Post 6, you’re done.

Judging your sexuality only against yourself

My husband and I have been together 11 years.  I came into the relationship with a plethora of sexual experience.  Slut shame away.  I will own it and am proud of it.  College was fun.  I was his second lover, and his first was brief.  He has always been super self-conscious about making sure he pleases me, always, but he gets nervous with the female anatomy, and how what did the trick one day may be downright uncomfortable the next.  Mr. ENFP and I have talked about this some, how to expand his horizons without hurting his feelings, but mostly I end up feeling inadequate.  Mr. ENFP is no doubt comfortable with his sexuality.  He has been with a myriad of partners, some of which who are, and some of which who aren’t equally as comfortable.  Currently, his partner is exceedingly comfortable.  They’re also new, and not 11 years, a toddler, some dogs, a parent with cancer, and full time jobs in.  When my husband and I were new, we were pretty frequent too.  Anyway, somehow in my mind, I’ve made it the goal to be as frequent and varied (and he could be feeding me crap) as they are.  Call me competitive.  Call me bored.  Call me whatever you want.  11 years is a long time.  But, here’s the thing, I have a toddler, a very demanding full time job, a dad with cancer, classes that I’m taking, and an ensemble I’m playing in.  Plus I cook 5-6 days a week, keep a house, and try to enjoy a little time with my toddler.  Somewhere in there, I find a few moments to myself.  My husband and I consistently do the deed once to twice a week.  As I get close to my Houston trips, we might take a week off, but as soon as that’s done, we’re right back at our usual pace.  I’m not a nighttime person.  Ideally, we’d have afternoon delights, say around 2pm.  After the toddler goes to bed, I’m tired.  The last thing I want to do is figure out how to creatively get off.  So, in our experimentation, I’ve tried to slow him down a little bit.  With all that is going on around me, I take time to get warmed up.  You have to distract me from all of the shit I’m responsible for, and cause me to focus on you, and that my friends, takes a little time.  We have recently started experimenting with lube. Accidentally, and unfortunately, that came in the form of coconut oil.  It makes a great massage substance, but as a lube, it leads to one thing – yeast infections.  And no jolly 30 minutes is worth all of that.

So today, I reached out to several people – Mr. ENFP, Dr. ENFP, and my stylist, to see what their thoughts were.  I wanted something preferably silicon safe, but outside of that, my only requirement was that it wasn’t sticky.  With Mr. ENFP, I now feel sufficiently sub par.  I blushed when asking my stylist, who was happy to answer, but laughed first.  Dr. ENFP talked about it like I was buying hairspray, which is exactly what I wanted.   I learned something too.  Just because you assume people are doing it like rabbits, doesn’t mean they are.  Dr. ENFP and her fiancé haven’t done the deed in 8 months.  8 months of living together.  He is apparently super self conscious, and wants to mostly wait until they’re married.  I have to say, my once to twice a week of dedicated romping around doesn’t sound so bad after that.

Ultimately, I think what matters is what works for you.   Yes my husband needs to broaden his horizons, and yes, I need to be more comfortable in saying what I want and don’t want, but we are trying.  We’re actively doing, and actively trying to make each other feel good as often as we can stand.  We have a toddler, a full life, a dad with cancer, and I have a demanding job.  As long as we are finding time to connect, whether sexually or otherwise, that’s what matters.

But, I’m still looking for that fantastic lube, edible or not, that is silicon safe and not sticky.  Suggestions welcome.

Coming of Age

As I settle into my mid thirties, two very distinct things are happening:

1.  I care a lot less about what anyone thinks of things that happen to your body.  I have stretch marks, and as I age, soft areas are softening more.  Everything is gently settling into middle aged (although lots of people are constantly telling me that I look more late twenties than mid thirties).  We all poop.  I’d rather not do it in public, but if I need to I will.  Also, every spring, I seem to always get a yeast infection.  Just one.  Just the first time it gets hot.  Add any stress, or any other factors, and it’s bound to happen.  Yesterday evening I noticed the tale tell weird feeling while peeing, accompanied with itching.  Today there is no doubt.  At lunch, I bought the Monistat One Ovule (this only works well if you catch it pronto).  I drove back to work, went to the bathroom, did my business.  Zero shame. Hopefully in a few hours, things will feel less frantic in my nether regions.  5 years ago, I would have suffered the day in silence.  Maybe multiple days.  Now, we get that taken care of yesterday.

2.  Despite being a thinking, generally emotionally immature type (have you ever met an INTJ whose emotional range is on par with their age?), I have found myself gravitating towards the feelers, who force me to deal with and experience these awful feelings, both happy and sad.  As we come up on the next trip to Houston, just to make sure everything is shrinking, The frantic panic has surfaced.  The INTJ is not in control, and there’s nothing she can do to be in control.  Unfortunately Mr. ENFP is also slated for a long weekend with his girlfriend, in the wilderness of Arizona.  We’ve both known about the unfortunate misalignment of weekends almost since both were booked.  He booked his weekend trip, and the next day we got notice of the appointment date. I have to give him credit.  I have been convinced this lack of availability would be the demise of us (see immature emotions.   I have real, well established, abandonment issues).  However, he has delicately worked on ways to make sure I was occupied.  He also went to the backup location for the weekend, because it had better cell phone service (though it was not confirmed that it was FOR me).  He checks in occasionally via text message, at my request, and on Sunday, while my dad endures his MRI (the CT is before that, at at 4am his time), I am allowed, if not encouraged, to call him to talk about anything other than cancer, or significant others.

Now, admittedly, there were other factors adding to my crazy.  My dad’s colon lit up like a Christmas tree on the last pet scan.  Apparently that’s reasonably common as the bowel takes up the sugar for all kinds of reasons.  He had a colonoscopy which came back beautifully, but up until yesterday, my mind has been grappling with the possibility of lung AND colon cancer.  If there’s any doubt, I can handle the lung cancer.  I don’t like it, but I know what it offers.  It’s been around a while.  I cannot handle lung AND colon cancer.  That is beyond my realm of abilities.  I cannot do it.  This week, Mr. ENFP has described my mental state as rearranging the furniture every hour according to ordinal time.  He’s also described me in the past week as jenga boards (my words, not his) who are falling out one at a time.  He can’t put them back for me, but he’ll hold onto them until I collapse and need to be put back together.  Both are accurate descriptions.  We’ve gone from 50,000 analytical questions, to tears, to sharp wit, to a mean rage.  I have been nothing less than a box of fruit loops for the past week.  But here’s the thing, despite my mismanagement of feelings, he’s been there, quietly accepting his anxious eccentric friend.  He’s gently emotionally cuddled me while pushing me forward.  He’s negotiated my needs versus his availability and his own needs to truly find some place in the middle, in what is no doubt a tricky situation.   I do not know that there are words to describe my appreciation for him quietly living up to his word and just being.  He really is a gem of a human being, and I’m eternally grateful he is in my life.

Unfortunately, with my own preoccupation with my own very turbulent emotions, I haven’t been able to give him the head space that he deserves.  The ex messaged him this week.  We’ve talked, but at the same time, I wasn’t mentally able to give him the support he needed.  I think he’s ok, but I don’t know for sure.  I hope he’s ok.  It works out that he’s in BFE Arizona this weekend with his girlfriend.  I’m grateful for her too.  My plate is full.  Just as I need to rely on others, sometimes he does too.

Ultimately, your mid thirties (at least mine) appear to be a phase of accepting you as you are.  Really, that’s all you are anyway.  You can strive to be better, and work towards that, but you’re still going to get wrinkles.  Skin will relax.  Boobs will be less up.  You’ll have aches in places that your parents complain about.  I’m not saying we should throw caution to the wind – you should always be striving for better – but sometimes being kinder to yourself while you strive for better would make life so much easier.

Tomorrow, my husband, dad, child and I trek off to Houston for two nights.  A hotel with a busy toddler is daunting, and the idea of taking him to the clinic Monday is even more daunting.  But, we will all be ok.  I’m going to try my hardest not to call Mr. ENFP on Sunday until 9:30.  But, if I don’t make it until then, that’ll be ok too.  I will also try as hard as I can not to worry that he’ll miss the call, and if he does I will also try my hardest not to hold a grudge.  Mostly, I’ll try to be easy on myself.  I’m treading water as fast as I can.  As long as I don’t drown, I’m doing ok.  And leaning on those around me might just keep my head above the water.

“…I learned that complicated women are “crazy” and complicated men are geniuses…” What’s wrong with this?

Lindy West wrote an interesting column in Sunday’s NY Times.  Admittedly, she’s usually a bit too out there for me, but she always makes some good points, even if they’re slightly further than I would ever take them.  She lives in New York, I live in Louisiana.  Time moves a little slower down here.  In any case, if you’re curious, the article is We Got Rid of Some Bad men Now Let’s get Rid of Some Bad Movies:

Specifically, she states:

“When I was growing up, I didn’t chafe at the shallow, exploitative representations of my gender that I saw on screen; I took notes. I added item after item to my mental lists of how to be a woman and the things I should yearn for and tolerate from men.

From makeover shows, I learned that I was ugly. From romantic comedies, I learned that stalking means he loves you and persistence means he earned you — and also that I was ugly. From Disney movies, I learned that if I made my waist small enough (maybe with the help of a witch), a man or large hog-bear might marry me, and that’s where my story would end. “The Smurfs” taught me that boys can have distinct personalities, like being smart or grumpy, and girls can have only one (that personality is “high heels”). From “The Breakfast Club,” I learned that rage and degradation are the selling points of an alluring bad boy, not the red flags of an abuser. From pretty much all media, I learned that complicated women are “crazy” and complicated men are geniuses.”

I have been weird since I came out of the womb, arguably headstrong and complicated (my mom describes me as intense), I have always been more interested in a good brain than a good body in the opposite sex (although admittedly, the good body attracts me first), and a good brain in a friend is equally important.  I need someone who can keep up.  I have always had LOTS of image issues, and multiply that by about 100 post baby.  I have been thin, but never skinny. There is one picture taken of me in 9th or 10th grade, at a church camp I went to every year in south Texas, that I found myself to be beautiful.  One picture, in my whole life.  In 34 years of life, hundreds of pictures taken, and I appreciate one.  I was a size 10, maybe 12, which at the time I found horrifying as I was surrounded by lots of size 2’s, but in that picture, it was obvious I was in good shape, with ample curves in all the right places.  One picture.  Think about how many pictures you’ve been in in your whole life.  One picture.  Even in wedding pictures (which is the most expensive most customized dress you will ever wear as a girl, with layers of stuff sucking you in and boosting what needs to be boosted, etc.) I see lots of flaws.  And yet, somehow, these movies keep coming out that keep emphasizing a woman with a size 00 waist, and fawning over a man, who during ¾ of the movie you find stalkerish and revolting.  Women in movies are seldom, if ever, smart AND beautiful.  Meryl Streep is older.  So now she can be smart on film.  But she can’t be smart, AND happily married with family.  Jessica Chastain is smart and beautiful on Miss Sloane, but yet she’s alone.  She seeks company from a male prostitute (I mean we do have needs), and the moment he tries to actually get to know her a little bit, she tearily kicks him out.  So smart and beautiful can’t love.  The trifecta simply doesn’t happen on film.  Ever.  And if it did, the movie would be so terrible, nobody, yours truly included, would watch it.  I loved Miss Sloane because it was so obvious that this woman was brilliant, and of course, Jessica Chastain is beautiful.  Gorgeous.  And a red head.  I have a partiality to strong beautiful redheaded women.

For me to call a girl pretty, as in “she’s such a pretty girl,” that is the biggest insult I can give you.  We are women.  We are so much more than our hair, makeup, clothes, or accessories.  We grow human life, or not.  We work in real jobs, where our brains matter.  We take care of shit.  We get it all done.  I find it absolutely appalling that the big screen and silver screen cannot cast a character who has her shit together, and is hot, and is happily married (with or without kids).  This is the stuff we will show our daughters (and sons) who will then subconsciously perpetuate the idea that a woman should be behind the stove, barefoot, and pregnant, with an apron and a kid on a hip, and of course, a waify size 00 waist.

As someone who has had ample curves since age 11, I hope to raise my son to appreciate a strong intelligent woman.  He will see one every day.  But, I also hope that he’s able to see past the Hollywood beautiful.  I have never been, nor will I ever be, smaller than a size 8.  I could literally be skin and bones, and I just don’t think it’s possible.  Despite my complications with pregnancy, these hips were made to push out a baby, and the breasts were made to nurse one.  My body screams baby factory, for children who will never be had, aside from the one who cause so so many problems.  And maybe he will fall in love with someone who has a B cup and wears a size 2, but if that is the case, she damn well better have the brains to back it up.

Don’t think I am chastising the folks who are lucky enough to have slight enough frames to be a petite 2, or 0, or even a 4.  What I would give to be one of you.  But mostly, I want a world that appreciates women of all types of beauty, rather than a Barbie cutout in real life.  For centuries, we have appreciated the vastness of men.  A man can be any size or shape he wants, and as long as he can provide, he’s golden.  Shouldn’t that same courtesy be extended to women as well?

Don’t be mistaken.  In all of this, I am not calling myself ugly.  I am pretty.  I have gorgeous hair that I take very good care of; my skin has handled aging well, as I’ve worn sunscreen since I was little, because you know red head.  I have a rack that could knock you dead, per my husband (and any guy I was ever with).  I have reasonably decent teeth.  I know how to properly apply makeup, and do.  And while I definitely should lose weight, which is a constant battle, I dress myself appropriately.  I don’t pretend I’m a size 10 and squeeze myself into jeans that don’t fit.  Breathing is necessary, plus you look better in clothes that actually fit. If you’re a size 16 trying to fit into size 10 jeans, even if you somehow manage to get them buttoned, you’ll look WAY worse than if you suck it up and wear that 16.  What I want, is a society that just appreciates us as we are.  You are not less than in your 16 jeans, or 22, or 28 for that matter.  You can be your own beautiful.  Someone besides a liberal woman and Tim Gunn needs to see this.