I saw that on a bumper sticker.
It’s not really funny, it’s just true. And, while it makes me think about some learning tools that could be effective in any sex education class, it also has me thinking about the people I know who are parents and parents-to-be.
My aunt and uncle, my cousin, and her two children recently came down for a visit. Both children are under the age of three and in diapers. Because there are a couple of years between them, their schedules are not the same. One may be taking a nap or nursing while the other is playing with cars, looking at books about cars, or trying to spot the cars that pass by the window.
I was making breakfast – just trying not to burn the pancakes – and talking about my latest endeavors (which include writing about “bicycles and boyfriends” as my uncle puts it) while my cousin was trying to feed her baby, feed herself, and keep her two year old away from the excitement that was the stairwell.
She was also constantly changing diapers. It comes with the territory and she’s a good parent, so she changes her kids’ diapers because it’s just something that has to be done. I lost count of the whole thing during their visit but it was a lot, and damn was she a pro. I don’t think I had finished a complete sentence before her son was clean and dry and back to running toward that stairwell. (Relax, we had a gate up.)
Raising children is even more challenging and overwhelming to those who lack the understanding of what it means to be emotionally and personally responsible. I’m looking at you, teenagers. It seems to me that those first years of parenthood are all about the diaper. It might be a good idea to mention this while we’re teaching our middle school and high school kids about sexual reproduction and safe sex practices. Hallways could have free condom dispensers with signs that read: “Free to take if you don’t want to be elbow deep in shit 8 to 12 times a day for the next 3 years.”
I’m thinking it could work.
I was running about five minutes late for work, so naturally I started crying.
When I don’t take my medication, my brain decides to respond to everyday tasks and consequences in only one way: hysterical sobbing.
So, I’m driving to work and crying my eyes out, and I’m also trying to convince my body that my clothes are in fact on the correct way.
When I don’t take my medication, my body doesn’t understand how to wear clothing and tries desperately to squirm itself out of any shirt, bra or pair of jeans I try to put on it. The straps are cutting into my back, the sleeves are too tight around my arms or the collar is too close to my neck. All of this freaks my brain out and it begins a new cycle of intense crying.
On the drive up to work, I was sure I was going to call out sick just because I couldn’t stop crying, but I summed up a shred of reason and sanity and made it to the parking lot. I turned off the engine, closed my eyes and sat. Now, I was ten minutes late for work.
I sent a text to the manager. “In my car, be there in a few minutes.” When she responded asking if I was okay, all I could write was, “Having a weird moment, need to calm myself down.”
I think weird was the right choice of words. The guy sitting in the truck next to me probably thought I looked weird, with my red and blotchy face, unbuttoning my sweater, taking off my sweater, putting on a blouse (an extra one that I just happened to have), taking off the blouse and then putting the sweater back on.
(Actually, this is not the first time a man in a parking lot has seen me changing.)
Being between health insurance plans has sucked big time for my body and brain. For a few months I was able to pay out of pocket for some therapy sessions (having to skip some), but I had to push back my psychiatry appointment and cut my pills in half. I had to turn a 30-day supply into a 60-day supply. That’s what has to happen when the out-of-pocket expense for a 90-day prescription (my usual) is just under $400. When I had health insurance, I paid $11 for that 90-day supply. God damn.
I picked up a health insurance plan through work but the past 30 days I have been without medication and my brain has been suffering like it used to in its pre-happiness state. I have one more week until I see the psychiatrist for a new prescription and until then, I have to constantly keep myself from crying. Seriously, when something as simple as the mailman not picking up the letter I left for him triggers the tears, this isn’t going to be easy.
A few nights ago I dreamt that a bunch of cyclists, bicycles in tow, were stuck on the third floor of a building. They were trying to get back down to the street to finish their ride but they couldn’t figure out how. They attempted the windows but their bicycles didn’t fit. I just watched them move their bicycles around the room trying windows they already tried and getting nowhere new. The idea to walk out the door and down the stairs never occurred to any of them.
I have an uncomfortable relationship with the bicycle.
Everyone and his mother rides a bicycle in Baltimore. While that shouldn’t affect how I feel about riding, it does. When I park my car on my street and I exchange glances with the guy cycling past, I’m quick to think he’s judging me. Twice, I’ve taken my bike out on the street and both times I felt like everyone (and his mother) was judging my ability to take a turn or a hill.
If I think about riding a bicycle, I start to panic. Once, I was late meeting a first date because I was going back and forth about whether I should ride or drive.
This is my self-doubt and fear getting the best of me but it doesn’t help that of my last four relationships, three of them were with men who ride bicycles. Two of these men own at least half a dozen bicycles each. None of these men own cars. They have friends and ex-girlfriends (and most likely future girlfriends) who ride.
In one of these relationships there was a great deal of focus on whether I would or would not get a bicycle. Pressure from him. Resistance from me. Frustration on both sides.
I think because of this relationship, the bicycle has gotten caught up in some sort of backwards aversion therapy or has become guilty by association.
I know that guy riding past me while I sit in my car is most certainly not judging me. But, it sucks that I have to constantly remind myself of this whenever I think about taking my bike out. I cannot always convince myself. I rarely convince myself.
About a month ago, when I was working at our downtown location, three girls no older than thirteen came into the store. We generally tell kids that they cannot come in unsupervised and while I did say that to these girls, I still let them in. I ignored the tallest girl’s comment about being an adult and said yes to the girl who asked if they could buy something. I should not have let them stay. I should have said they could buy something when they came back with an adult. I didn’t. Perhaps it was insecurity, a lack of assertiveness, or just plain naïveté, but I could not assume these kids (any kids who come into the store alone) were aiming to stir up trouble. And yet, these girls came in only a few months after some young boys shoplifted right from under me. Maybe I am naïve.
But I also remember being that age and walking with my friends to the local shopping mall to just hang out. Maybe we never bought anything and maybe we talked and laughed a little too loudly but we never meant any harm. I want so badly to believe that about all kids.
I watched the girls as they looked at some charms and then the tallest girl, the self-describing “adult,” starting slapping the smallest of the three on the back. The slaps were hard and I could tell the girl didn’t like it. That’s when I spoke up. I told them that they could not hit each other in the store and they would have to leave. Even though my voice was firm, my movements were still a bit unassured as I pointed toward the door. They left as the tall girl mumbled something about not liking the store anyway.
Those girls came back today. My coworker stopped them by the entrance and ushered them out. They came in again but when they were warned that the police would be called they backed away. They left the store yelling slurs at my coworker and then proceeded to bang on and kick the windows. Both my coworker and a bystander snapped camera pics of the girls and the police stopped them shortly after.
These girls, no older than thirteen and as young as ten, were picked up by the police. When I heard the story and heard they were arrested, the first thing I said was: “Well, that’s not going to help them.”
After all that, I could only think about how someone had failed those children. And, arresting them, sending them to juvenile court, or whatever is going to happen to them, won’t do any good.
They will still have to go back to the same neighborhood and home life, the same school environment, the same judgmental faces who pass them on the street or refuse them entrance.
I think this is the saddest I’ve ever been when thinking about Baltimore.
I’ve been thinking about Neko Case a lot lately. Yes, she has an album coming out (Eek, so excited!), but I’ve been thinking about her in terms of relationships.
There’s a yearning in her lyrics. At times, the way she sings seems to be equal parts apathy, desperation and a rebellious confidence. (All things I feel about dating.) I don’t know how she does it but it’s never off-putting. No, it pulls me in and I sing (terribly) with Neko about our lives and relationships. I sing and think about how the lyrics and characters of her songs, and how she approaches them, are comparable to my relationships and the characters involved.
Damn, I love Neko Case.
I’ve been thinking about her because I started actively dating again. I’ve had an OK Cupid profile for quite a while (Sometimes I’m indifferent to how long, but mostly I’m just embarrassed that it’s been 3 years.), and this month I’ve gone from skimming profiles when I’m bored to actually beginning conversations with men I find interesting.
Interesting. What is it about these men that I find interesting? That’s one of the questions my therapist asks me. It’s one of many pertinent questions she asks me when I say I’ve started dating again. Another good one: What are the qualities in these men that meet my criteria for a suitable partner?
I answered these questions as best I could because I’ve only had a first date with one and short conversations with others. But, the answers I did give prompted her to ask about the other men I’ve dated. And then she asked, if I were to go through the profile of each man I dated, what similar attributes and personality traits would I find?
So, now I’m doing a little research.
That’s right. I’m going to look up each man’s profile, print them out if I can, and start a little word search. I’m going to find out these similar attributes. I’m not exactly sure where that will take me but that’s why I have my therapist. She’s pretty good at her job, you know.
So far, here’s what I know to be common across profiles: Beards. They all have fuckin’ beards.
I want Neko Case to write a song about that.
Holy crap, Baltimore, I went on a bike ride.
I haven’t gone for a ride in, I don’t know, years and so I’m pretty sure my thighs will be really unhappy tomorrow, but damn, if I’m not a little excited about this.
So today, a friend, who knows I’ve been “considering” getting a bicycle, invited me for a ride and for some reason I said yes. I think it’s because I’m happy. Seriously. I had my first Saturday off (and no weddings to go to) in months and I wanted to make the best of it. I ran errands, I cleaned my room, I did laundry, I did the dishes. These are all things that get spread out over weeks, but I was able to do them all in one day! Not just because I had time, but because I had energy and motivation. I knew that if I backed out of a ride now, it would either be because I really didn’t have interest, or because I was simply too scared. Turns out, I had interest and I was scared.
I’ve been considering getting a bicycle for a while. For a year, actually. Once, I was ready to pay $100 for a Craigslist bicycle, but the seller didn’t get back to me. $100 is really nothing. The bike wasn’t new and probably needed a little immediate work with more work over time. Anyway, after that I wasn’t proactive in the search. Fear, what-ifs, and thoughts of “Do I even want a bike?” all made up my hesitation.
My brother/roommate was given a bicycle recently so I borrowed his for today’s ride. We think that was the first time the bicycle had been ridden in five years. So, we were both newbies.
The hills were rough, the seat was too low, the brakes were a bit loose, and there were noises, but we both (me and the bike) survived.
And I liked it.
I liked being out in the air and damn the breeze felt good. And it turns out, I was more confident on the bike than I thought I would be. I didn’t feel stupid or worry about looking stupid, which is one of the tougher what-ifs to beat.
Baltimore, I don’t want to hear any “I told you so” and I’m not joining any of your parties or co-ops, but you may see me on the road a little more.
No big deal, okay?
Language is living. It is evolving.
Whether the sign reads, “Five Items or Fewer” or “Five Items or Less,” you know that cashier will glare at you then call you out for bringing up seven items to her line.
The thoughtful and rational Stephen Fry on Language with Kinetic Typography by Matthew Rogers.
What do you think of the term “sound-sex?” i imagine it’s how I feel when I read and reread a phrase, a sentence, a passage because I love the way the nouns, adjectives, and verbs come together. I imagine merging, squelching, flowing, rolling and all other fluid actions.