Sorry I’m Not Sorry.

Have you guys read this post? A few people have shared it via Facebook and for me, it was one of those things you may hear a thousand times, but then on that 1001st time, you really listen. And then you start thinking: what are all the things I am apologizing for, things for which I am not even remotely remorseful?

Over the past few years, I’ve been working on this very tic (which is what it feels like), catching myself apologizing, then following that up with, “No, actually, I’m not sorry”. Which, admittedly, probably sounds a little off-putting to whomever happens to be there, but I don’t care. It’s the only way I can reinforce my commitment to stopping that knee-jerk response. I think that as women, we are given a very clear message from infancy-that we need to act like ladies. What does that even mean? It means that we need to not take up too much space, we need to be quiet, agreeable, and please everyone around us, to the very real sacrifice of ourselves, of what makes us who we are. And, my friends, is bullshit.

Take little girls, for example. Before the world swallows them up, and spits them back out into the world of adolescence, they are vivacious, joyful, spirited, and confident. I watched my niece stand around in her bathing suit recently, little belly jutting out, dripping a popsicle gleefully down her face and arms, and I was jealous. I was actually jealous of the fact that she has no concept of being painfully conscious of her body, her visibility, the eyes of others following those rivulets of melted popsicle as they trickle down her chin. That, is freedom. Not automatically trying to shrink herself into invisibility, wondering what people are thinking about her belly, her legs, the fact that she’s eating for pleasure. That’s all going to erode, though; in 3, 4, 5 years, she’ll start to doubt herself, her body, her voice. She’ll start to be sorry.

And think about all of the apologizing we do to ourselves-the way we might lament speaking “out of turn” at work, or how we hunch over, wearing dark colors and high necklines, because we feel like our breasts are too big, a liability for own safety, and for being taken seriously. Or, my personal favorite-gathering the courage to ask for what you want…and then immediately following that up with “Is that OK? Sorry to ask, but…”.

This article helped me to better evaluate the things I’m apologizing for, overtly or otherwise. And I needed it, because this age of 33, this journey into what I consider true adulthood after the extended adolescence of our twenties, is a beautiful thing. I’m becoming so much more comfortable with who I am, what I represent, and the things and people I value. So, no…I’m not sorry for my body, or my desire to be by myself at times, or my political bent, or for making jokes that “women shouldn’t make”. I’m not sorry for a million things. Those things make me who I am, and I happen to think that I am pretty fucking awesome. I do, however, apologize if you find issue with that. That, is a genuine apology.

Tell me ladies (and you boys, too, if you’re so inclined)-what are you ready to stop apologizing for?

Full-On Mom Jeans.

That’s the nickname I’ve given myself-Mom Jeans. Alas, I have become that asshole that I have always hated-posting a million photos of my baby on IG/FB (that no one ultimately cares about, I know this; I mostly didn’t care about your baby, either), posting inane status updates about my lack of sleep/loss of independence/back pain/baby screaminess, and commiserating with other moms about the glamorous life of parenthood. It’s annoying, and here is where I issue my blanket apology-I’m sorry. I will also not stop, so it might be a good idea to remove me from any social media feeds or defriend me altogether. Maybe block my phone number too, if I’m texting you unwanted photos. But it’s a baby! In tiny shorts!

Even more startling are my behaviors in private-perpetually tiptoeing around the house, squealing D’s name over and over again so I can get through a shower without him losing his shit (this only works 14% of the time), singing every ridiculous made up song I can conjure off the top of my head, and putting more thought into his outfits in the morning, than my own. Oh, my eating habits? That consists of anything I can grab with one hand, and stuff into my mouth, like a raccoon. This runs the gamut from healthy (apple) to disgusting (finger swipe of peanut butter). I know this is normal, and I don’t hate it. It’s just..shocking, sometimes.

And don’t even get me started about my appearance. My crowning achievement has been that I shower and dress every morning. That’s a non-negotiable for me (although I understand how many people don’t get to it). However, my mascara wand has never seen less activity, my hair is in a perma-knot atop my head, and I don’t so much care that there’s a rivulet of baby spit/drool/milk all over my shoulder. My dirtiest little secret? Even though I fit comfortably back into my pre-pregnancy clothes, I cannot make myself stop wearing my maternity jeans. Please note, I know this is in no way flattering, as they are huge and baggy on my legs and butt, but weeee! Jeans that also feel like sweatpants! Just toss a longer cardigan on, and no one is the wiser…unless you’re walking behind me in Wegman’s, and watching me hike my pants up every 2-3 strides.

It’s all just interesting to me, how you become almost unrecognizable to yourself once you become a parent. Maybe not everyone feels this way, but I do. Like I said, I certainly don’t dislike it, nor do I find it to be a bad thing, but I didn’t always intend to be a parent. I never daydreamed about having kids and all that jazz, nor did I ever think it would actually happen. But now, here I am, with this little redheaded, doe-eyed boy, and I love him so much that it almost takes my air sometimes. He has taught me so much about myself, made me happier, much less willing to abide nonsense from other people, and has given me a sense of purpose that I thought I always got from my career, but is so much more fierce now. I feel incredibly lucky to be his mom, and to have the opportunity to help guide another person to the best life possible. So what if I AM doing it with bags under my eyes and ill-fitting pants? He will grow more independent, and I will look presentable in public again. And I bet, when all is said and done, that I’ll probably miss this time.

The goodness of people (or lack thereof).

Despite my snark and sarcasm and at-times judge-iness (is that a word? No? It is now), I really do believe in the general goodness of people.  I believe, against all logic, that people have good spirits and souls and hearts and have a deep, basic need to connect to others in a meaningful way.

And then I get confronted by drunk, college kids.

I got home last night around 12:15, and there was no parking in my building’s lot. You know, the off-street parking I pay for, monthly.  I drove down my one-way street, looking for alternative spaces, of which there were none, due to all the excess snow mucking things up. So, I circled back into my lot, and created a sort of non-space, that was obstructing an already snow-blocked sidewalk. I got out, and saw 6 guys and 1 girl walking my way, clearly fueled by an evening of Monroe Avenue boozin’.  The exchange went like this:

Girl: Excuse me, but you’re blocking the sidewalk.

Me: Excuse ME, but I live here, there’s no parking and I am 5 months pregnant.

Girl: Ooooh, sorry…just trying to look out for your slut, knocked-up ass.

Entire group erupts into laughter, and are now within feet of me.

Boy, getting nearly right into my face, yells  “SLUT!” at me.

The sudden gesture, and his entrance into my space caused me to lose balance on the uneven snow, and I fell back into a fairly large snowpile. I didn’t get hurt, but given the shock of all I immediately started to cry, and they all just continued laughing and went on their way, still yelling things over their shoulders. Now, I share this with you not for you to feel any pity, but because I fundamentally can’t wrap my head around what would allow them to feel as though they could do or say any of that.  Nothing in my  heart would ever, EVER permit me to feel as though I could treat someone that way, alcohol or not.

I take issue with the girl, for violating all that I find sacred between women, with her attempt to demean and humiliate me. A stranger she doesn’t even know.  To paraphrase Tina Fey in Mean Girls, a woman calling another woman a slut or a whore just makes it OK for men to think they can call you that.  A silly example, perhaps, but it’s fundamentally true.  And for that boy to feel entitled to enter my personal space because I’m a woman, to invade me that way, and call me something that tries to subdue me, intimidate me, made me wish for things to occur to him that I am not proud of, in the clear light of day.  And for the rest of them, complicit in their laughter, their unwillingness to do the right thing, and call their friends out, is also highly foul to me.

The thing is, it’s hard not to understand how people develop such hardened hearts when it comes to the world-at-large, when there are things like this happening  everyday, and on much more severe levels.  I laid awake last night, still fueled by adrenaline, and felt alternately grateful and horrified by the fact that I’m naive enough to believe that people wouldn’t do such things.  I’m so sheltered from experiences like that, and I wonder now if that’s a good or a bad thing.  I want to keep an open heart, I don’t want to grow fearful or resentful of others, but I also don’t want to hold a blind eye to the fact that people can be kind of shitty (and that’s a charitable description).  And how I help this child we’re having navigate a sometimes nasty world with the strength and fortitude to defend him/herself, and be a force for good, in all situations?

I witnessed a very small, yet still hurtful, example of unprovoked hate last night-which is the very worst variety.  And I believe those are the seeds that produce the large-scale atrocities that we see around us-because no one does anything to stop it.  It’s virulent if left unchecked-even if it seems harmless enough.  So do me a favor, my friends…and join me in doing the right thing, and committing to be more proactive about  being that force for good the world so badly needs, even when it’s hard.  Because whenever something happens to one of us, it happens to all of us.

Happy Holidaze.

It appears that I’ve survived another Christmas.  Another year of rushing around for gifts, vowing to “start early” next year, and ultimately forgetting that idea once I see that people are digging the things I bought them.  Pffft, I work best under pressure. Although, I did do most of my shopping in November this year, which technically is early for me.  Maybe once I’m wearing my Mom hat next year, I’ll be magically motivated to get it done in September.  More likely, though, I’ll forget Christmas is happening until approximately 27 hours prior.

Christmas felt a little off this year.  I think it’s a combination of things-my mom being sick (and fresh out of the hospital, after a week-long stay), Matthew, Jess and Jack not being around, and the general feeling that no one was really into any of it.  It’s such a stark contrast to the way Christmas felt when I was a kid.  I know that’s part of the deal that comes with adulthood, but sometimes I wish I could get even just a drop of it back.  Everyone has been telling me that once you have a child of your own, Christmas feels like magic again.  I look forward to that, being able to see the holidays through the lens of a child.

It’s been a very difficult year for me, in a lot of ways that are not worth delving into.  I was sitting here this morning, reflecting on how much life changes in twelve short months.  During my Christmas break last year, I sat parked on the sofa for most of it, eating candy, drinking wine and watching all the seasons of Mad Men.  This morning, I spent nearly three hours researching strollers and breast pumps, before deciding on (and registering for) them.  Last year, my normal jeans fit me.  This year, I only fit into jeans that lack a zipper and have a panel that pulls all the way up to my ribs.  A side note about aforementioned jeans: 1)I’ve developed a very deep love affair with them-their comfort makes up for their hidden horrible-ness; 2)I am continually shocked by how many people have asked me to pull up my shirt so they can get a better look at that f-ing panel.

Anyway, my point is…we’re taken down roads that we don’t expect.  And this year has made me a little gun-shy about anticipating what might come next, but it’s my hope that it’s nothing but goodness and love and light.  And I wish the same for all of you-I hope 2013 brings you joy and health.  Thanks for sharing little glimpses of my life with me.

Life Lessons: Wear a sports bra to the running store, and never trust your Asian chauffeur.

A sloth among gazelles

Last Friday, I popped into the running store to get fitted for new running shoes, as mine have officially passed that “keep your body safe” point. I strolled in, immediately intimidated by the size zero sprite pulling off her jeans and trying on running tights, and all the tall, lithe runners lounging about. I sat down with a boy who started fitting me, and almost immediately, the entire store filled up with what was apparently some sort of Friday night running club. Shit, I thought, please don’t ask me to run on the treadmill in front of all these people. WITHOUT A SPORTS BRA. “Just gonna do a quick 15 miler,” I heard one of them say to a woman who was shopping for gear, asking what everyone was doing. I lowered my head, to roll my eyes without being noticed.

So, I try on my first pair, and stand up to walk around in them…only I can’t, because the room is jammed full of Kenyan-shaped white people, stretching, being cool, you know. NBD. “Just hop up on the treadmill,” the boy helping me says. So, I comply, knowing there is no alternative. God, my poor chest. Let’s face it, they’re not exactly small. This is going to hurt physically, and socially. The boy asks me where he should set my pace, and I tell him I’m not a particularly fast runner. So, what does he set me at? 4.5. “Really?” I ask, bumping it up. And then, I run. For abooout 6 seconds. My anxiety at having to run in improper attire in front of a group of people who in reality are paying zero attention to what I’m doing gets the best of me, and I slam the treadmill off in seconds. “I’ll take them,” I say. I hop down. Just get me out of here. You guys go do your fifteen miler, I’ll go home and run 3 miles and then set up shop on the couch with a bowl of Mini Eggs. See ya at the finish line.

Dancin’ on the ceiling (or struggling in the trunk of the car).

For whatever reason, I love reading books that frighten/anger/sadden me. Mostly non-fiction, of course. You know, so I can really worry about the “what if’s” in life. Anyway, I’m currently reading a book on domestic human trafficking. Specifically, about American teenaged girls who are commercially sexually exploited, aka pimped out. So, yeah, really uplifting stuff. Sunday afternoon, I took a nap, and I had this dream where I had a new driver, a Chinese woman (yes, I have hired help in my dreams). Anyway, we were driving, and she pulled over, forced me out of the car and into the trunk. I remember thinking in the dream that she was angry, because I kept accidentally calling her “Lupita” instead of her actual name, “Patty.” This was not the case. Turns out, Patty was selling me to someone. I was being pimped by my elderly Asian driver. The car stopped, and the trunk opened. Who is standing there with her?

Lionel Richie. I was sold to the man who danced on the ceiling, and has assured each of us that we are not once, not twice, but three times a lady. Also, what the hell does that even mean? Anyway, I’m not able to remember anything after that point in the dream, but it is my sincere hope that Mr. Richie was kind enough to introduce me to the kind of luxury I believe I am entitled to. Most likely though, he locked me in a basement dungeon somewhere, forcing me to listen to “Hello” on repeat, and do his bidding.
I guess ultimately, I’m wondering what this says about me. I can usually piece together bizarre dreams, and attribute them to seeing someone on television prior to sleeping, etc. This, though? No idea. So, if anyone would like to offer up their (free) misguided attempts at dream interpretation, I will gladly accept.

In Honor of National Coming Out Day.

I am that dreaded B word. A bisexual. And even as I write that, I cringe, knowing what the connotation of that word means to many people, on either side of the coin. To some, it means I absolve myself of the right to be taken seriously. To others, it means that I must kiss girls in bars for male attention. And to me, it means that I’ve absorbed all of these misconceptions, and somehow internalized them, causing me to take myself less seriously. I won’t even say the word, I find. “Fluid”, “queer”, “no labels”, or “I love everyone”, I say. Just not the B word.
I came out later than most people, at twenty-five. My parents were in denial, not allowing me to acknowledge my relationship with my then-girlfriend in any form. I couldn’t bring her to their home, they wouldn’t come to mine if she was there. And so, living two lives became necessary. It caused me huge amounts of stress, but I refused to let them back me into a corner. So, I gave them time. And while they eventually came around, I will say that the experience changed my relationship with them in an irreversible way. I can only imagine what that must do to a young person, who still lives at home. I had the luxury of independence.
A few years ago, I fell in love with a man, a man that I am still with today. We have a home and a life together, and it’s a good life. I know this relieves my parents, mainly because the phrase “that phase” has been uttered more than once. I have friends who’ve said, “I wish you were still gay,” as if that’s something that can be turned on and off. This angers me, because it makes me feel less significant, as if who I am isn’t valued by the people I love most in my life. Nothing has changed-whether I’m with a man or a woman, I am who I am. And I’m going to be OK with that. I can only hope everyone else is, as well. If not, well…that’s their issue.

So today, I’m coming out again, but this time for myself. As a bisexual. As that B word. And for those of you who have yet to come out as whoever you are…be just that. Who you are. Because that is truth, and truth is beautiful-no matter what it looks like. Happy National Coming Out Day!

Calling All Dysfunctional Domestics!

It hit me yesterday, while I was trying to make something as seemingly simple as apple fritters, yet still ended up getting batter all over Pickle’s head (through no fault of her own, shockingly): I’m bad at this whole being-domestic thing.

Doesn’t it seem like when you were growing up, the women (and in some cases, men) in your lives seemed to make it happen with what seemed like little to no effort? Perfectly pressed clothing, good meals, clean homes, well-kept children/pets, etc-the whole nine yards. Me? Try one-perma wrinkle in everything I iron, burned/bland meals, a home that no matter how frequently vacuumed, still boasts a rogue tumbleweed of dog hair, and an out of control canine. How, in what seems like only one generation, did we go from Martha Stewart, to Jessica Simpson? I try, really I do, but honestly, I suck. And I also don’t like doing those things.

So, here’s what I’m looking for from you, dear readers-your stories. I want to hear what it means to be the anti-domestic, as I call it, and how you manage in a world where it’s not second nature for us to be flawless at home life. I want to hear your stories (funny or otherwise), your experiences, and your ideas on the state of domestic ability in our generation. I’m looking for a series of guest writers to develop posts on the topic, to be published here on my blog. If you’re interested, please email me at: JenniferLHurlburt@gmail.com, or send me a facebook message. Come tell your story of kitchen fires and parental mishaps!

Let’s get some perspective.

I get it. We had a small earthquake over here in the relatively insulated-against-acts-of-God East Coast. From the second it happened, I was tired of hearing about it. I’ve felt less spatially secure after two glasses of wine, than from that earthquake. I think this paints an accurate picture:

I understand-it’s scary when you’re not sure what’s happening, especially for those who live in areas that have been traumatized by massive acts of violence. But let’s think about how much worse it could’ve been. This didn’t happen here:

And it didn’t happen here for a few reasons: 1)the sheer magnitude of the quake was much smaller, 2)we have the means to fortify our properties against such disasters and 3)we have efficient emergency management plans and resources in place that allow us to act swiftly and safely to limit injury, loss of life and property destruction. So, give thanks that we had those things on our side, that we continue to have those things on our side, and that life goes on, as usual.

Friday round-up: road rage, more medical mishaps, and why I can’t get any work done.

Road rage is for the badass and/or mentally ill.

Which is why I guess, being bad at it is a mixed bag. Yesterday, I was passing a slow moving tractor trailer, who suddenly decided he needed to get into the passing lane. Ok, fine, I’m moving. All the sudden, he decides that I’m not moving fast enough (at 70, I think I was, considering up until this point, he was going around 62), and starts maniacally waving me forward, his tattoo-sleeved arm flailing out the window. “I’M GOING!” I shout, to no one in particular, because he sure as hell can’t hear me. Then, in a fit of anger, I…shook my fist at him? Yes, you guys, I road rage like Alice, complete with “NHHHH!” Why-I-oughta! sound. Apparently, this pissed him off, because then he laid on his horn, and did an aggressive pseudo-swerve towards my lane. Ok, I’m outta here, as fast as the four cylinder engine I’m commandeering (and the law) permits. I’m not a rule-breaker, after all.

Once safely ahead of him, I got ballsy..and half-flipped him off. Two things about this-ultimately, I only did it because I knew he couldn’t see me (again-scared of confrontation, especially with someone piloting an 18-wheeler), and because another car moved in between us. Beep, beep! I’m lame. Oh, and non-sequitur, but about twenty minutes later, I came to an intersection that was only a two-way stop (and I was not in a stop lane), and this cadaverous old woman in a Ford Taurus blew through the stop, causing me to slam on my brakes and beep at her. What does she do? Slowly turns her head towards me, and raises a creaky, spindly middle finger in my direction. Narrowly averted car crash aside, it was just too funny to be angry. When you’re 104, what do YOU have to lose? Cruise on, Cryptkeeper!

Can I get a funnel in here?

This morning, I had a doctor’s appointment, one which involved me peeing in a cup. I don’t know about you, but I prep for this event the way others prep for surgery. Driving to the doctor’s office, telling myself that I’ve consumed enough water so as to not provide a paltry sample, giving myself enough of a cushion should I miss the cup at first. A pep talk, if you will. For some reason, there is no worse potential outcome for me than wasting a sample due to my wayward aim, and having to sit around the doctor’s office for another hour, pounding chlorinated tap water and waiting for my chance to shine. And yes, I’ve lived that experience. Multiple times. So, I get there, and it’s time to get to it. And while I was mostly successful, I still didn’t get out of there without peeing on my hands. It’s like my body goes crazy, and becomes some sort of unmanned fire hose. This particular visit was even better, though, because I somehow managed to get pee on my shorts. ON THE FRONT OF THEM. Which looked super awesome coming out of the doctor’s office, by the way. And since I’m sure everyone’s wondering with excitement now, no, I’m not single. This girl is off the market. No big surprise, right? I’m a lackluster cook, mediocre with an iron, and pee on myself. Anyone would be lucky.

Sure, Pickle, go ahead and eat that plant of unspecified origin.

So, between my two trips to the doctor’s office today (one was first thing this AM for bloodwork), I was already feeling disorganized by working at home today. Given that, it only made sense that Pickle should suddenly snap up some sort of unidentified greenery and swallow it, when I took her outside this morning. Dog owners will know that with that event, comes the invariable gastrointestinal warfare that is now being waged against my house. Three hours, five episodes of vomit, and an utter lack of paper towels later, I’m now down multiple dish cloths (yes, totally not green of me, but what the hell was I supposed to do?), a shitload of Lysol wipes, and half a bottle of 409. And all before noon! This dog is sick more frequently than any human I’ve known, and of course, like any good American, she’s uninsured. I think we’ll try to ride this one out, see if it gets better. We’ve been to the vet enough with her, that we should get some sort of pay ten visits, get one visit free punch card. And maybe some paper towels.

Happy weekend, ya’ll-hope yours turns out less messy than mine has started.

Breaking up is hard to do. Unless you have facebook.

I read an article this weekend, and it honestly escapes me exactly where, about a workshop held for teenagers regarding healthy breakups. I thought this was a pretty novel concept, given that I had no idea how to handle my first breakup, at seventeen years old. I treated it as some sort of death, walking around in a haze, assured my life was over. Given, I know now that this is how most young people treat that first experience, having nothing to compare it to. But how nice it would’ve been to have peer-driven dialogue and objective facilitation on the topic. I would’ve loved to have known that it was normal for me to be reduced to snot and tears at the discovery of a left-behind t-shirt (tie dye, by the way-ew), or to feel like my stomach was going to explode at the inadvertent eye contact made in a high school hallway with the Dreaded Ex. But these feelings blindsided me. I had no idea what to expect. And let me tell you, it sucked.

However, the Dreaded Ex became less dreadful, and eventually, an acquaintance. And the stinging memory of it became sort of laughable, in that God, I was ridiculous sort of way. And, on life goes. But man, do kids now have so many more tools at their disposal, when it’s time to cut someone loose. Or, to simply torture said partner with, until they are driven to end the relationship. I would have never, EVER survived high school, if texting and facebook existed. I mean, how do kids focus on anything besides the intracacies of electronic high school relationship betrayal? One boy interviewed for the article said that when it’s time to dump a girl, he simply changes his facebook relationship status to “single”, leaving the young woman in question to discover this on her own (unless a meddling concerned third party discovers it first, during which time he/she will eagerly share the information). A number of the kids felt it was completely appropriate to end a relationship this way, or via text message. Are you kidding me? Look, I’m as non-confrontational as the next person (perhaps more so), but I feel like this is one of the times in life when you DESERVE to be uncomfortable. After all, you’re about to inflict emotional pain (and possible weight gain, depending on whether they decide to eat their feelings) on another person, so a few minutes of awkward, frank conversation is a fair trade, I’d say. People are owed that.

As I read along, I realized-kids don’t need a healthy breakups workshop, they need a healthy social skills workshop. And tech-savvy adults need a refresher course. Life is so embedded in electronics and technology that people are losing their ability to connect in real life with the people on the other side of the screen. And that extends way beyond childish breakup moves-these are practices that are becoming ingrained as normal and more or less universally acceptable. I myself am even guilty of it-I admit that I would much rather conduct a conversation via email, than telephone. It’s something I have to constantly be aware of, and move past. And don’t even get me started on the feelings I have when I misplace my iPhone. It’s shaming.

So, my thoughts are this: look away from the bright light (of a backlit screen) once in awhile. Make some eye contact, have a conversation. Read social subtleties, instead of trying to piece together someone’s tone via text. I think we’d be surprised to discover that our counterparts on this earth are (mostly )pretty amazing in real life. And kids-as hard as it is, take the time to tell your girlfriend or boyfriend that you’re making out with their best friend,face-to-face. It’ll make you feel like slightly less of a dirtball, and will provide you with the right amount of conscience-battering you deserve. Don’t make them wait to find out until they update their status feed.