Why Moms Yell

I’ve often said that every day is Groundhog day when you’re a mom. One thing, in particular, that remains an ever present constant in my house is the struggle for my son to put on his shoes. Every single morning, we do the same thing. Wake up, get dressed, comb hair, eat breakfast, brush teeth, and the last thing is to put shoes on before we leave the house. Yet, EVERY.SINGLE.DAY, it goes something like this….

 

 

The fabulous Deva from MyLifeSuckers let me collaborate on this one which was inspired by this meme:

Apparently, it’s not just my kids. Do your kids do the same thing? Are we being punked? Is it Groundhog day? (Of course it is. We’re parents.)

The Explanation of a Queef

It was a typical evening dinner at my parents’ house. My brother and I both were both in town visiting, so my mother did what she does and cooked a huge, tremendous meal. Really, it was full of love.

At my mother’s table, any topic of conversation can come into play. Having four brothers and too many nephews to keep count, the topics tend to lean in one direction. In typical Castle fashion on this particular evening, the conversation turned that corner.

It doesn’t really matter how the word queef was brought up. Actually it does, but some might take offense to it, so I’m going to leave that little detail out so as to not upset anyone.

But it happened. Someone said queef. It was my mom, and the boys in the house lost their minds. Multiple mouths spat tea across the table, plates upturned and a roar of laughter echoed across the golden plains of West Texas.

I looked down at my plate avoiding any kind of eye contact with anyone in my family. Anyone.

“What’s so funny?” My sweet mom asked.

My thirteen year old nephew whispered, “Nana said queef.”

I squelched the laughter I was keeping at bay.

Another nephew choked on his fried okra. I watched my brother beat him on the back while focusing intently on his corn on the cob.

“What is so funny?” Mom asked again, laughing along with the rest of us who had now lost any resemblance of control.

Tears poured out of my brother’s eyes onto his red cheeks.

My dad laughed his one-of-a-kind laugh. We were a mess. All of us.

“Is queef a bad word?” Mom said again

“Oh my god, Nana said queef again,” my older nephew said.

“Stop saying queef, Mom,” I managed to get out through bursts of laughter.

“Why? What’s  queef?” My mom asked.

The sound of laughter and silverware scratching plates ceased.

Everyone looked at me. The only girl.

Like it was my job to explain female bodily functions to MY MOM!

“I’m not telling her,” I said to my brother.

“You have to. I can’t,” he said, shaking his head.

“I CAN’T EITHER.”

“You have to, Mandi.”

“Tell me,” my mom said.

“No!”

“Tell her,” my dad chimed in.

“No, you tell her, Dad.” I said to him. He shook his head at me.

We were all still sporadically laughing at this point, but the mood in the room had gotten a little more…tense.

I took a big drink of my sweet tea (the strongest liquid courage you’ll find in my mom’s house) and walked over to where my mom sat at the table.

I leaned in and whispered, “a vaginal fart.”

“What?”

A little louder this time, “a vaginal fart.”

“Mandi, you’re gonna have to talk louder and quit laughin’. I can’t understand you.”

I cupped my hands around my mouth and said quietly into my mother’s 74 year old ear, “A queef is a fart that comes out of your vagina, Mom.”

Her blue eyes widened, and immediately, she filled the room with the best sound on Earth, her laugh.

I returned to my seat and started to put a bite of mashed potatoes into my mouth when my dad said, “So, what is it?”

 

head-in-hands

 

Not Less

“Damn, girl! Your pockets are full!” Someone shouted at me. I was walking into the mall with my brother. I was thirteen, maybe fourteen. My brother laughed.  Then he yelled something to him in my defense.

“What did he mean, my pockets are full?” I asked.

“He’s talking about your butt.” I lowered my head, ashamed. I weighed less than 100 pounds. I wasn’t embarrassed about my weight. I was mortified because a man had just rolled his window down and commented on my butt. And then he kept driving. It was nothing to him. I was nothing to him. He could say whatever he wanted to me, a girl. A child.

In college, I worked at bars. It didn’t matter what sort of uniform I wore, my body was fair game for unwanted comments, lewd stares, and unintentional intentional slips of the hand.

I remember one table in particular, a table full of men, ten or twelve, a baseball team. I was friendly and funny, and could come off as flirty sometimes. I was being myself: laughing, joking with my table, probably flirting, but also giving them good service because that was what I did, when one called me over.

“Hey, hun.  Come here for a minute.” I was always hun, or sweetie, or sugar, or darling. Never Mandi, which was clearly printed on my name tag.

I walked over to him. He started talking to me and eventually put his hand around my waist and pulled me closer, then a little closer. And then his hand went from my waist to my hip, from my hip to my butt, and then he cupped it. Like he was allowed. Like he didn’t have to ask. I grabbed his hand and put it on the table.

“No,” I said. He tried to laugh me off.

I looked him in the eye again and said, “No.”

He didn’t like that. Emasculated in front of his boys, he tried to rally his table to get angry with me, but they bowed their heads and pretended not to notice. Cowards. I didn’t go back to the table. The bartender served them their check. Twelve men, several beers, several appetizers, taking up most of my section for most of my shift and no tip. That didn’t matter, but I noticed.

An hour or so later when I left to go to my car, the bartender insisted on walking me out.

“You never know,” he said.

“I shouldn’t have flirted with them,” I said, blaming myself because that’s what we (women) do. Then I noticed the man was sitting in his pickup truck at the back of the parking lot where the staff parked, assumingly waiting for me. We made eye contact, and my body went straight into fight or flight mode.

I didn’t drive to my apartment that night. Instead, I hitched a ride with the bartender and slept on his couch. I never saw the man again, but I looked. Every single night, and I never walked to my car alone again. I also never wore shorts to work again even when it was 113 degrees outside.

Early this school year, I was walking home from dropping my kids off at their elementary school down the street from my house. I noticed a truck driving past me, slowly. I looked over thinking it was a parent that I knew, and then the man rolled down his window. “Nice…pants,” he said and smiled. I was wearing workout leggings.

I looked away. He more than likely had just dropped off his child(ren) at school and before 8 am thought it was appropriate to comment on my “pants.”  I immediately heard voices in my head saying, “Women really shouldn’t wear leggings. It’s only asking for attention.”

I’m not writing this because I have a high opinion of myself or of my pants. I’m writing this because I am a thirty-eight year old woman who still struggles with male privilege and the fact that men think it’s okay to comment on my body, on anyone’s body.

I’ve had a stalker and a handful of creepy encounters. I’ve, on more than one occasion, driven my car around town rather than home for fear of being followed. I have had unwanted hands touch my body in more places than I care to name. Fortunately, I have never been raped. But that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t still scare the hell out of me, that I don’t walk with my keys between my fingers to my car. That I don’t notice every single person I pass, that I actually think about what I wear (leggings included) because I don’t want to provoke that kind of attention.

I argue with my family members who think I’m just some twisted liberal because I don’t think dress codes are fair. I talk to my conservative female friends about how locker-room talk and what so and so said are two completely different things. I write about rapists going home when they should stay in jail. I tell my daughter that she’s strong and brave and that she can do anything. And yet, I still look over my shoulder, and blame myself every single time I get some unwanted attention.

And this is the problem with everything that we are talking about today.

Because it’s not about men vs. women. It’s not about all men being dirty perverts or all women asking for it. It’s about a choice few who think this kind of stuff is okay, and the cowards at the table who aren’t sticking up for what is right, the same ones who are questioning that a problem even exists.

This election season was ugly. On both sides, people continue to say things that are unfair and unjust and untrue. Just yesterday someone said to me that if a man grabbed me by the pussy, I would probably giggle, maybe even like it. This was in response to my defending the women who marched, and this is (only a tiny reason) why women who marched continue to have to defend why they marched.

They marched because some (Not all. Calm down.) think they are less. That we, women, are less, and therefore, they (some, still not all) can treat us as such. Less.

They marched because we are not less. (In the home, at the workplace, at the doctor’s office, on the street, in the bar, at the store, on Capitol Hill…anywhere.)

They marched because I have had this post in my drafts for over a year but have been too scared to post it. They marched for people like me, who were too afraid to march, and I thank them for it.

 

photo credit: The Boston Globe

photo credit: The Boston Globe

 

 

Dear Good Christian Bitch

Dear GCB,

I wonder how cold it is way up there on your high horse where you sit ready to look down at anyone who crosses your holier than thou path. Does it make you feel closer to Jesus (because I don’t really think He lives in the sky)? Do you think you look good up there, pompous and arrogant, a knower of all of the things and a judge to us all? I see you. I’ve watched you for a while.

I see the way you whisper in church with your girlfriends, how you look down your nose at the single mom who comes to church in her beat up jeans with her four kids. I see the way you roll your eyes when the preacher’s wife, a tall pretty blonde, walks up to the pulpit to speak to the children. You see, I’ve been around you my entire life. I grew up with you. I know you well.

You were part of the group of girls who made fun of me at church. You announced in front of everyone that I had a (gasp) run in my stockings. You pointed to my teeth and asked loud enough so everyone could hear why they were so yellow.

In Sunday school.

You made me cry and didn’t apologize. You laughed at me when I forgot the bible verse that I knew but was too nervous to remember when I had to stand at the front of the class.

You were the girl who told the only boy who gave me any attention at church that I was a slut who slept around and that I would give him AIDS. Then you called him gay for liking me.

In junior high. At youth group.

You told the other girls that I was poor. (Perhaps compared to you, I was, but I was rich in something else. Kindness. Love. Compassion.)

I hated church because of you. I laid in my bed on Sunday mornings sick with anxiety waiting for my dad to come in and tell me to get ready. I obsessed about what to wear, how to fix my hair, shoes, fingernails, jewelry, purses, and all because I wanted to impress you, and every time you pulled me into your group and made me feel like I might belong, you dropped another mean bomb on me and exploded any hope that I had of ever fitting in.

At church. In God’s house.

And now, we’re all grown up, and I hear you on your phone with your girlfriend in the grocery store talking about what Joel Osteen says is right and true and good and just, and then after we’ve checked out and loaded our groceries, I see you behind me at the light. You’re annoyed because I’ve rolled down my window to give the man on the corner with the sign a couple of dollars. You think he’s a nuisance to society, that he’s mucking up the scenery of your cute suburban town, and God forbid, you be delayed. You might be a few minutes late to prayer group because I looked him in the eye and told him that he mattered.

You can’t wait to jump online and shame other moms about their parenting. You love to post hateful sanctimonious comments to mothers who are just like you, struggling every day to make it. You look down your haughty nose at other parents who aren’t raising their children the way you are. I hear you. And I see you. You’re quick to judge and point out other people’s faults, and often you do it publicly. I don’t know a lot of things, but I’m fairly certain this is the exact opposite of WWJD.

You use Facebook as a platform to preach God’s love. Your feed shows constant daily devotionals and scriptures to make sure the world knows what a great person you are. Yet, when you’re the center of a group of women, you’re the first to bring up what so and so wore or said or did and get the rest of the girls to join your personal tirade. Then when that same so and so posts that she’s having a hard time on Facebook, you’re quick with the prayer hands emoji and always say “praying for you, my friend,” right before you call your other friend to gossip about her problem behind her back.

You’re the reason I don’t go to church. You’re the reason Christians get a bad name. You’re the very reason I question my own faith. Because how can I be part of a group with so much judgement for people who they don’t understand? I know you’re the minority, that most Christians are inherently good and kind, but you’re louder than everyone else, so you have become the figurehead for me and for a lot of other people.

And that figurehead is the face of a hypocrite. You bathe in the glory of God’s love and forgiveness when everyone can see, but when you think nobody is looking, you’re doing the exact opposite of what you preach. You show your little girl that it’s okay to talk bad about other people. She heard you talking about how Sally is having marital problems and will probably get a divorce and that you can’t possibly be friends with Sally anymore if she’s divorced, and then your daughter hears you and your friend plot out how you’re going to snuff Sally out of your life, and then that sweet little girl goes to school the next day and creates a club and doesn’t allow a little girl to play with the other girls,  and poor little Paisley goes home to her mom and tells her that she no longer has any friends because she wore purple today and everyone else wore pink, and so nobody would play with her. And she’s in kindergarten. Do you hear this?

Let me say it louder.

Your daughter is listening.

Do you want her to see the same woman I see? The Good Christian Bitch who thinks she’s better than everyone else?

I didn’t think so. Get off of your high horse. Put down your prayer hands, and be the person you pretend to be on Facebook, at church, when everybody is looking. Because you know what? I’m always looking. Your daughter is always looking. And all of those sinner/non-Christian heathens whom you’ve spent a lifetime looking down your nose at, they’re looking too, and they’re staying as far away from you and your church as possible. Oh you think they don’t know where you go to church?

You have a sticker on the back window of your Cadillac Escalade, right next to the one with the stick figure family with a mom, a dad, two boys and a girl.  I noticed you because you just flipped me off in traffic. Must be running late for bible study.

Sincerely,

Everyone

PS: If you’re sitting there wondering if this post is about you, it isn’t, but it also probably is.

prayer-hands-emoji

I almost forgot…have a blessed day.

Just a Girl For a Girl

I grew up censored. I was taught to behave a certain way. I obeyed the rules  to sit still and be quiet and that (and this is a big one) women do not have the right to assert authority over men. It was in the Bible, so it was true. My father, a Christian fundamentalist, taught me from a very young age that women were inferior. I don’t fault him for this anymore. He no longer believes this way, and he supports women and is coming around to feminism.

If you know anything about me at all, you know that my dad is one of my favorite people on the planet, and nobody has ever or will ever love me as much as he does, but I grew up “just a girl” who could do things well “for a girl” who was smart “for a girl.”

I had a great childhood and was loved and cared for, but along the way, I started to realize that I didn’t buy into the “for a girl” bullshit I was being spoon fed. I watched my mother, a traditional stay-at-home mom, submit to my father on most decisions that were made in our home. He was the head of the house, and when I began to voice my opinion on the subject, I was squelched and quieted and told that I didn’t know anything by most of the people in my family.

When Geraldine Ferraro was announced as the vice presidential candidate in 1984, I heard a lot of talk about how a woman couldn’t possibly be president. She would be too emotional to hold such a title. I was six years old.

The older I got, the more I rebelled against that conventional mindset, but I continued to hear things like “women shouldn’t” or worse, “women can’t.” Last week, I defended a candidate that a family member interviewed for a job because he was worried if he hired her, she would be high maintenance. Because she’s female.

I try not to teach my children stereotypes. Anytime my son gets emotional, I don’t tell him to “stop crying like a girl.” I allow him to cry and to feel emotion, and I applaud him for his feelings. I tell my daughter she can do anything.

Just this morning, she said to me, “Mom, I know I’m not supposed to play football because I’m a girl, but I like it.”

I responded, “Because you’re a girl? Pfft. Girls can do anything. Today, for the first time in history, I can vote for a woman to be president of the United States. We can be astro-physicists, epidemiologists, fork lift drivers, police officers, baseball players. Anything. And if you love football, you play without apology. Don’t let anyone tell you because you’re a girl, you can’t do something. Because you are a person, and you can do anything.”

When I went to the polls today to vote, I took her with me. I felt an immense sense of pride, a lump heavy in my throat as we walked side by side into the polling station.

The woman at the desk offered her an “I voted” sticker, and she graciously took it. We went to the booth. I showed her Hillary Clinton’s name on the ballot and said, “Let’s make history.” Tears welled in my eyes as we pressed the screen and put an X next to her name. This is a moment she and I will remember for the rest of our lives.

i-voted

We’re With Her

I sometimes rock the boat on social media and get into discussions about things like gun control because I’m passionate about it, but I have stayed pretty quiet about this election. The times I’ve spoken any opinions, I’ve been put in my place and quieted. I’ve received lots of hateful private messages that I tried to simply brush off. To me, it’s not worth it to lose friends over an election, so I’ve kept my mouth shut. Until today.

Women didn’t earn the right to vote in this country until 1920, and it took another 96 years for a woman’s name to be on the ballot for President. It doesn’t matter on what side of the fence you lean. This is a big deal. For my daughter, for me, for women, for America.  And because of this monumental moment in history, for the first time in my life I feel brave enough to let everyone I know hear me say, “I’m with her.”

Mom, I’m Scared to Go to School

My daughter couldn’t sleep last night. We had kind of a rough evening. After a strenuous two hour math homework marathon with my son,  I ordered a pizza, and the kids and I sat around the table discussing our highs and our lows of the day as we do every night at dinner, but I wasn’t engaged. I was irritable, the weight of the world heavy on my shoulders. I was short with both kids, not at my parenting best.

Rushed showers and stories and prayers, and the kids were off to bed. I poured a glass of wine and sat on the couch to lose myself in the lives of the Orange County housewives, watched the news, and then went to bed. Pretty uneventful.

Around eleven, my daughter came into my room half in a sleep walk haze and said she was scared. After the normal “Everything is okay. You’re safe here,” she fell back asleep.

This happened two more times in the night. I know it’s normal. I know kids go through times when they can’t sleep, and I know it will pass. I’ve been through all of this before, but I woke up tired and cranky, and when I went into her room to help her start getting ready for school, I forced myself not to show the irritation I felt.

I sat on the end of her bed helping her pick out a hat for “hats off” day, when she said it.

“Mom, I’m scared to go to school.”

I furrowed my brow at her. “Why, baby?” I asked with confusion thinking she was going to tell me about some kid being a bully and preparing myself to go all Debbie from This is Forty on him and hope that he too looked like Tom Petty. (Movie reference)

“I’m scared of the lock down drill.” Flashbacks to dinner last night when my head was far away from the conversation, and she mentioned something about it. Shame on me for not addressing it then.

My baby who is five years old, in her first year of school, a kindergartner, is scared to go to school because of a drill where fake bad guys come in and try to get into her classroom.

This is the world in which we live, friends, and it scares the hell out of me.

We spent the rest of the morning discussing the details and what she knew about the drill so far. Thankfully, my fourth grade son was around to help calm her nerves and told her it’s his favorite drill of all the drills (fire, tornado, BAD GUYS COMING INTO YOUR SCHOOL TO HARM YOU!)

She told me that if she’s in the bathroom and hears the alarm, she’s supposed to stop what she’s doing and stand on the toilet but keep her head down so nobody can see her over the top of the stall. “We can’t even flush, Mom. Do you think it’s okay to wipe?,” she asked, big blue eyes wide with worry. I shrugged my shoulders. How would I know? I never had lock down drills.

If someone tries to come into her classroom, the teacher will lock the door, and the students are supposed to find their hiding places.Kids are being taught to hide from bad guys in school.

As we walked to school, I told her that she need not worry, that we live in a safe place and that her focus today should be learning and enjoying time with her friends, and then I promised her a fun weekend. I walked away after kissing her goodbye knowing that I hadn’t been truthful.

Sure, we live in a safe place. We are in the heart of the suburbs where our biggest fear is a bobcat that likes to roam around our neighborhood.

But Columbine High School was safe. Sandy Hook Elementary was safe. Virginia Tech was safe.

Until they weren’t.

My daughter couldn’t sleep last night because this world simply isn’t safe anymore. Not even for a sweet little girl with a heart of gold in kindergarten.

school-blog-pic

Be brave. Stay safe. It’s only school after all.

Rape and Math – Numbers Don’t Lie

I’m mad. Infuriated, actually. A rapist is getting set free, possibly right now. Today, after only serving three months in jail. Upon hearing this news, my immediate reaction was  to pull out my laptop and shove my two cents down your throat. I wanted to write about the injustice of Brock Turner’s short sentence.

Armed with a handful of hot tamales and an ice water, I grabbed my laptop and began my research, ready to write about statistics and logic and speak to the rational world about how this Stanford student’s sentence was a travesty and a joke to our judicial system and a complete and utterly repulsive slap in the face of his victim because it was. It is. It is the definition of injustice.

But sadly, with rape (or in this boy’s privileged world) sexual assault or according to his dad, “twenty minutes of action,” it’s not uncommon. Like I said, I wanted to write a logical article about how illogical his sentence was and how even more illogical his time served was, so I did some research.

Here’s what I found:

Brock Turner was not convicted of rape. He was convicted of sexual assault. Three counts of felony sexual assault: Assault with intent to rape, sexual penetration of an intoxicated person and sexual penetration of an unconscious person.  Here’s the difference in rape and sexual assault according to The Bureau of Justice Statistics. Rape is: “Forced sexual intercourse including both psychological coercion as well as physical force. Forced sexual intercourse means penetration by the offender(s). Includes attempted rapes, male as well as female victims, and both heterosexual and same sex rape. Attempted rape includes verbal threats of rape.” Sexual assault is: “A wide range of victimizations, separate from rape or attempted rape.  These crimes include attacks or attempted attacks generally involving unwanted sexual contact between victim and offender.  Sexual assaults may or may not involve force and include such things as grabbing or fondling.  It also includes verbal threats.”

In California, the minimum sentence for assault with intent to rape is two years. It’s less for the other two felonies.  Upon his release today, he will have served three months. According to basic math, that’s only 1/8 of the minimum sentence.

Enraged, I googled the average time served for assault with intent to rape.

As much as I wanted to be angry about Brock Turner and the giant middle finger he waved to the judicial system and his victim, I couldn’t be. Do you know why?

This is normal.

I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

I was as shocked as you are to read that the average rapist only serves a few months in jail, rarely prison.

Let’s look at some more numbers on this so you can get as boiling mad as I am.

I got on RAINN.org and read these alarming statistics:

  • Every 109 seconds, someone is a victim of sexual assault. That’s less time than the recommended time to brush your teeth.
  • 90% of victims (in reported cases) are female, but get this, only 3% of sexual assaults are even reported. 97%of sexual assaults do not get reported to police. 97% of victims do not report the crime.
  • One out of every six American women will be a victim of sexual assault (attempted and completed.)
  • Only 1% of perpetrators spend any time in jail. 99% go free. 99% of these guys/gals are still walking around like nothing ever happened. Wonder what’s going on with his/her victim? Pretty sure life isn’t business as usual for the victim. Ever. For the rest of the victim’s life, nothing will ever be business as usual.

Numbers don’t lie.

Rape is a problem, and cases like Brock Turner’s can only shed light on this epidemic that so many people are afraid to discuss.

But I’m not.

There are a lot reasons why little privileged boys get away with rape, but one is that victims do not speak up. Why?

  • She was asking for it. Because girls who get raped often shout out to potential rapists, “Hey, please rape me and ruin my life.”
  • She shouldn’t have gotten so drunk. That’s right, rapists. As long as she’s drunk, it’s basically an invitation for you to enter her vagina because she drank too much. Bad girl.
  • She shouldn’t have worn that. I never realized mini-skirts were welcome mats for unwanted penises, but girls, remember, your skirt should touch your knees unless you want to be held down and assaulted.
  • She’s the kind of girl who puts out that vibe. I’ve met a lot of women. I’ve talked to women of different walks of life. Strangely, I never caught the vibe that any of them wanted to be sexually assaulted, but maybe I’m dense.

When my friend Darla wrote about rape on her blog, this happened to her:

And we wonder why sexual assaults go unreported. How many victims blame themselves? And if they don’t, there are plenty of people out there ready to point the fingers at the wrong person.

There is only ever one person who is at fault in any sexual assault. The rapist.

We must stand up for ourselves. We must report these crimes. We must demand longer sentences, and we must break the chain in rape culture, shattering the ridiculous notion that the blame is ever on the victim.

P.S. Nobody deserves to be raped. Ever.

rape numbers

 

 

 

There’s Not Enough Vodka on this Plane

It’s a Friday afternoon. I board a plane with my two children. Final destination: Disney World. 

Because I forget things and didn’t check us in on time, we got stuck with a crappy boarding assignment, but alas, my child is under 6, so we file in with family boarding. 

I see a family of four: mom, dad, child, and toddler. It’s clear the toddler rules this family at first sight. Dad is struggling with a million dollar stroller that doesn’t seem to collapse as easily as the two year old who is lying on the floor screaming about having to exit said stroller. Meanwhile, mom stands  above dad wrestling thrashing toddler dictating authoritative directions to dad who can’t figure out the difference in pull and push. 

They board before us. Thank god so we don’t have to sit by them, but as we walk single file down the tiny aisle, I hear them before I see them. 

“I want the window seat.” Toddler screams and snorts. 

Mom says, “now we already talked about this. Your sister gets the window seat now, and you can have it when we come home.” 

“I WANT THE WINDOW SEAT,” toddler refuses to relent. 

Dad says to older daughter who is looking out the window ignoring her obnoxious brother, “let him sit there. Just for a minute.”

Daughter folds arms, “no. I’m not moving.”

Dad, “come on.”

Daughter, “no!” I mentally high five her and also mentally punch dad in the balls. 

Mom takes a noticeable deep breath and says through gritted teeth, “no, Todd,” and makes crazy eyes at dad, “he sits here.” Kid screams. Traffic moves. I trudge forward. 

My children and husband take a row of seats. I ask the man in the row adjacent (who isn’t seated but is standing) if I can have the aisle seat. He informs me he’s saving the aisle and the window seat. As if I’ll take the middle when there are several other seats available. Southwest Airlines at its best. 

I choose the window seat behind my son, noticing the family already seated with a daughter about the same age as mine (5) sitting directly behind me. I can handle this. 

Until I sit down. 

Kid kicks my seat no less than 42 times before I have my seatbelt buckled, but I optimistically conclude she’s just getting comfortable. 

No. 

(Kick count 8,488,911 times, and I’m one hour in flight.)

As we taxi the runway, I determine that she is playing one on one with Steph Curry on her tray table (which should be raised.) I try to internally convince myself that she calm down once the plane begins to move. 

No. 

She screams, “weeeee,” which even in my annoyed state I find cute because I’m a mom and not an asshole, but then she just screams. Over and over again while still pounding on her tray table. It will get better. Surely. 

No.

Screaming, kicking, and reconstruction of the back of my seat ensue as I pray that the flight attendants will eventually come by and though I wasn’t planning to have an adult beverage, my temperment demands a vodka, and blessed sweet baby Jesus, they bring me one. I glimpse behind me and see her mother, sleeping peacefully in the seat next to her. 

And then she turns on music. Justin Bieber. And she isn’t wearing headphones. 

Meanwhile, the a-hole who was saving the aisle/window seats opens a plastic container of what is obviously a shite sandwich and begins to eat, filling the airplane with the aroma of an over used porta potty. 

My daughter looks through the crack in her seat and pinches her nose at me. 

“I know,” I mouth. 

My drink arrives, and as I sip and read the contents of my newest book (Revenge of the Chupacabra by Kyle Abernathie), I try to block out the noise, the smell, the chair assault, and my overwhelming need to pee, and I pull out my phone to write this. 

It is not edited. I am sorry. But a girl has to vent. 

Kick count: 9,100,875,209,299,100 multiplied by pi squared. 

There is not enough vodka on this plane. 


Dear Woman on the Beach (in Defense of My Body)

Dear Woman at the Beach (in Defense of my Body);

I see you looking at me. I see the way you start at my feet and work your way over my bikini, never making it to my face. You can hide behind your dark tinted Dior shades, but it’s there. That subtle way you turn up your nose at me, the way you glance at your man to see if he’s looking at me. Guess what? He isn’t.

I see the way you lean over and whisper into your friend’s ear. Then she looks at me, and you both purse your lips and giggle.

I see you judging me, picking apart my body, looking for flaws.

When I say “hi,” I see how uncomfortable it makes you, how you can’t even manage a simple hello because you spent all afternoon scrutinizing my body.

When we see each other at dinner at the resort restaurant, no longer in our swimsuits, you manage to force a smile. Then you take your husband’s hand and lead him to a different part of the restaurant.

You hate me because I spend hours in the gym to get what society deems a “bikini body.” Because I spent thousands of dollars to inflate the empty skin sacks that were left behind after nursing my two children.

I paid for boobs, yes. Judge me for that, but I didn’t do that for you. The swimsuit isn’t for you either.

Here’s what you don’t know about me. I’m also ashamed of my body. Not because I don’t like it or because I think it’s sub-par. I’m ashamed of my body around other women.

I have cried alone in my room at the cruel things women have said to me. I have been the brunt of jokes because I’m thin. I have been the center of a tirade of questions and comments aimed at my body.

“Do you ever eat?”

“How many hours do you spend in the gym?”

“If you had a little meat on your bones.”

“Those boobs..”

Before I got to the beach, I tried on several suits. I picked apart myself in the mirror trying to see myself from your superior eyes. I fussed with my cover-up so much walking to the beach that my husband said, “Jesus, Mandi. You look fine.”  My breakfast threatened to reappear at least twice before I was brave enough to remove said garment. I had to have a drink to work up the nerve.

I feel for people who hit the gym and diet to no avail. I really do, and I realize I’m fortunate that when I put the effort into my body, it pays off. It doesn’t mean I have fewer feelings. It doesn’t mean hurt doesn’t hurt. The number of pounds on our bodies doesn’t determine the way we hurt.

I feel self-conscious. I wear my cover up most of the time. I sit with my feet in the pool at pool parties instead of getting in. I have consciously chosen swimsuits on numerous occasions based on what I thought you would think.

But I’m done.  I’m sick of mean girl mentality. And I refuse to give into it anymore.

We are in this together. We are women, beautiful, breathtaking, powerful women. You, woman on the beach, are stunning. We might be different shapes and sizes, but I shouldn’t have to worry about what you think of me in my swimsuit. And I don’t care if you think women of a certain age should not wear bikinis anymore or that we should stop wearing shorts or skirts or shirts that show cleavage. You are aiding in a growing epidemic of body shaming whether you realize it or not.

You can shake your head at me, or wrinkle your nose if you want to. You can look at me with disgust. You can hate me. You can even talk about me with your mean girl posse. I’m a great person, a supportive friend, and funny AF, so if you don’t want to get to know me, it’s your loss. Sit there, drowning in negativity while I splash around in the pool with my children, while I go down water slides and build sand castles and take pictures.  I’m going to make memories. I’m going to laugh and smile and enjoy my life while I can – in my bikini. I’m not promised tomorrow. I won’t waste my time being ashamed.

 

~You know who I am.

 

But in case you forgot...

But in case you forgot…

 

 

WTF America?

Can I say it? Do I even want to go…there?

I woke this morning to the news of another mass shooting. Over one hundred people injured or killed. As I wiped my blurry eyes, I tried to make sense of it. But how? How can I make sense of something that I don’t understand?

How can I begin to understand the terror that the people in that club must have felt? People who were out with friends to have a good time, dancing, drinking, laughing?

Right before trembling, hiding, praying, fearing?

I can’t.

A man walked into a club with an assault rifle and opened fire on a group of innocent people. Humans.

It’s too early to know anything about him yet. I can assume he was full of hate. I can assume he was troubled. All I know is he and several other people died senselessly.

I can’t look at social media anymore today. I’m sick to death of what I’m seeing. I saw a post that said, (and I paraphrase) that this is President Obama’s fault. I saw another that said something to the effect of “lock and load.” I saw another that said “you reap what you sow.”

Fuck that noise.

Sadness, anger, disgust, fear, desperation, pity, empathy, sympathy, pain. Those are just a few of the emotions I have felt today. I wasn’t there. I don’t know any victims personally, but I shake my head and close my eyes and try to block out the things that my fellow American citizens are saying in response to this awful horrible act.

An act where people died. Where innocent people lost their lives.

Can we stop? Can we please quit making it political? Just for a minute, just for a little while, can we please take a minute and remember that people died? People are in hospitals. Families have no idea if their loved ones are alive.

I don’t care what your religious views are. It doesn’t matter how you feel about gun control. It makes no difference whether you are straight, gay, trans, or none of the above.

What matters is that lives were lost for no reason at all other than hate.

Hate.

Are we, as a nation, becoming immune to these acts? Are we brushing them off? Is that why these dismissive statements are being written? Have we lost our heart? I saw that President Obama has had to issue statements in response to mass shootings fifteen times in his presidency. Can this be accurate?

We may not be able to change laws. I don’t think any one person can “make America great again.” But maybe if we all try, we can agree to be less hateful. To love our neighbor. To follow the golden rule.

 

When I hit shuffle on my iTunes today, Jeff Buckley’s voice began to sing “Hallelujah.” I won’t pretend I understand the lyrics, but they seemed fitting to my mood:

“Maybe there’s a God above

But all I ever learned from love

Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya.

And it’s not a cry that you’ll hear at night.

It’s not somebody who’s seen the light.

It’s a call and it’s a broken hallelujah.”

I don’t know what’s right or wrong. I don’t know what I believe anymore. I don’t know if there’s a God. I don’t know if there’s not. I don’t know the answers, and I certainly don’t know how to explain to my children what happened in the early hours of this morning.

But I know this. I am sad. I am scared, and I am sick and tired of waking to this news.

I didn’t edit this. It’s simply my random thoughts. Thank you for reading my stream of consciousness.

I stand with Orlando.

orlando