Welcome to the life of an American female. Aimlessly wandering the road of youth and adulthood, she shares her tales of growing pains, discoveries and ideas. There might also be a pinch of happiness, a dash of light, and a micro-amount of wisdom within. The author is not liable for any psychological damages you may incur while reading this blog.

The author put it best when she said, "My humor is like a good martini - extra dry and sometimes served dirty."

Sunday, December 15, 2013

On Dealing with Emotions

I now have less than 7 weeks until my due date, granted our little one waits that long. I'm pretty excited about being a mom, and I'm going to try my hardest to be a very good one. I hope to remember all of the experiences I had as a child and pass on the good while leaving out the things I don't agree with. With the help of the internet, reading, and a friend working towards her PHD in psychology, I'm pretty sure I can have a better approach to certain things (not that my parents' approach scarred me for life).

"And how does that make you feel?"

For example, many people engage in a behavior known as minimisation, a behavior that avoids acknowledging and dealing with negative emotions by basically denying they exist or discounting their effect. When I was 16, my boyfriend at the time broke up with me. It broke my heart. My mom told me, "It's okay. It's not like you're enemies; you can still be friends. At least he's not dead!" Not. Comforting. At. All. I completely understand why she said those things. What else do you say when you see your child is inconsolable? A better way to handle a situation like that is to simply offer a few words ("I'm so sorry you're going through this. I'm here if you need anything.") in the event that you don't have some secret to healing their pain (who does??). This is something we ALL have to remember, as negative emotions arise on a daily basis in those around us.

I interact with an online group of expectant women, new moms, and experienced moms. Our page is hidden, and we all have an agreement not to "tattle-tale" on members, so we all have the comfort of speaking freely. Many of us are dealing with pregnancies, new babies, and less-than-involved significant others. On one particularly rant-y post, a woman chimed in that she had recently lost her significant other, and "didn't feel so bad" now that she saw what we were going through. At first, I thought surely she must be being sarcastic, but I'm not so sure. I told her not to discount her emotions that way. That is the situation she is in right now. That is what is affecting her, and we were complaining about what is currently affecting us. You can't compare such things.

"I'm holding this cute cat, but I can still raise my brows at you."

Anyway, all that to say that I hope to arm my little one with the ability to recognize emotions and deal with them appropriately. When something upsets you, it's more than okay to acknowledge it and the way it makes you feel. Problems only arise when you refuse to deal with the situation and continually dwell on the negative emotions.

Hey, Spock was half-human, after all. Even he had to deal with emotions.

We aren't Vulcans; we're humans. We have emotions -- good, bad, and everything in between. It's important to recognize our emotions, how they are influencing our actions, and deal with them appropriately. While this can seem easy enough when it's just ourselves we're dealing with, we also must apply this approach to our emotions when dealing with others. Someone once told me that we can't change people or the way they think, but we can change the way WE deal with them and how we let them affect us.

Monday, December 2, 2013

More on Gender...of the LGBT Variety

I'm not homophobic. I'll admit, the idea of two men is much more foreign and weird to me than the idea of two women. I suppose that's because I am a woman and I know the closeness two girlfriends can have. I'm not weirded out by my own parts, so I guess I find it less weird. Society also makes two females seem somehow more acceptable than two men. Anyway, I think it's all summed up best by this sentiment:

Ask a heterosexual person, "Can you stop being straight? Can you be attracted to a member of the same sex, right now?" Their answer will surely be "no." Well, it's the same for homosexual people. They are attracted to members of the same sex, exclusively. The shades of grey come up with bisexual, polysexual, and asexual (etc) people. Look it up. It's interesting, if not slightly confusing, stuff. Basically, sex is sex. It's a personal act and really none of anyone's business except those involved.

But alas, this post isn't so much about sex as it is a particular subgroup of people: those that are born as one gender but identify as another. I am confused, but not bothered when I see a male dress as a female, have a female alter-ego, what-have-you. Whatever floats your boat, dude. What gets me, and what I often bite my tongue at, is when I see a he (as a she) rant about things like PMS, periods, etc.

I seriously get a little bit offended.

I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, so I bite my tongue, roll my eyes and move on. I don't really know how to approach such a topic, anyway.

I have no clue what it feels like to be born one gender, yet identify as another. I have no clue what it's like to have a penis. I have no clue what it feels like to be kicked in the kahunas, as I don't have, nor will I ever have, kahunas.

I do, however, know exactly how it feels to be a woman, with a functioning vagina, uterus, and ovaries. I know what a monthly cycle feels like. I know about cramps, nausea, acne, bloat, breast tenderness and mood swings. If you're born a man, even if you have a sex change, you will never ever know what a period feels like. Ever. So don't pretend you know.

People born as one gender that identify as another have their own set of problems. I would never pretend to know what that feels like, just as I don't think a man should "play pretend" at having a period, even if he really wants to be a woman. I also don't think a woman who identifies as a man should ever pretend to really know what it's like to be a man.

Am I the only one that feels this way? What's your take?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

On Gender Roles and My Future Little Me

I am currently expecting our first child -- a little girl. We're super excited, and we've been blessed with a lot of gifts for our future little one. A friend of mine (a psych major) and I were discussing gender roles the other night, and how society just "expects" little girls to wear frills and pink. She got a lot of weird looks when she bought a "gender neutral" outfit for our little one, and I had people asking if I was "sure I was having a girl" when I registered for some clothes that were blue, green, or otherwise "non-girl." I see no reason our little girl can't wear blue, green, or camo if she wants.
Camo's cute!

I wore lots of colors growing up. I wore muck boots and camo and fished and rode the tractor with my dad. I helped with the cows and learned how to bait a hook, although it took longer for me to get the hang of taking the hook out of the fish's mouth. I ran barefoot in the yard every chance I got, and was more interested in mud fights than boys. I also loved Lisa Frank, lime green, and tiger stripe print. I played with Hot Wheels, Lincoln Logs, Legos, and stuffed animals. I had a handful of dolls, and I played with them, too. I was always told to "act like a lady," but my parents never tried to reign in my "tomboy" behavior. Unless they were putting on a quite the show, they were quite okay with my affinity for "girl" and "boy" activities. I was, after all, a good ol' country girl.

I also knew how to keep it cool.
You know I'm rockin' those shades.
My daddy taught me how to change the oil in my car, how to do basic work in lawn mowers and tractors, and my mama taught me about keeping up a house and gardening, although it would be many years before I could actually keep a plant alive, much less get produce from it. I got bumps and scrapes and scars from my misadventures in the woods. I got a tick once. I stepped on lots of splinters, thorns, and spurs; and I learned that grabbing nettles firmly and confidently does NOT make them hurt any less.
Ain't you ever climbed a hay bale before? 
I loved climbing hay bales, going hunting (although I cried over everything I ever shot), and bird watching. (Actually, it was more like bird identifying. We would sit at the dining table and watch the birds gather around the feeder and look them up in "the bird book.") I also learned how to knit, crochet, sew, and cross-stitch. I taught myself how to play violin and loved to read. I like to think I was a pretty well-rounded kid. Much of that is due to my parents just letting me be a kid. I had rules and chores, sure, but they didn't try to force me to be anything I didn't want to be (like a girly-girl). I could play in the dirt all I wanted, so long as I didn't track it in the house and I kept my nails clean.

Clearly, we didn't know a lick about shop safety,
but we sure knew how to fix a non-broken wagon!
That's what I want for my little girl. I don't think forcing her to be a girly girl (although she has no say how I dress her as a baby!) or expecting her to have the same likes I did as a child is a healthy parenting approach. I want her to have respect for herself and others, but by all means, please, be a child! Please, run and play and get dirty! You can never get those carefree years back, so the longer I can delay her immersion in the overwhelming expectations of the world, the better. Nothing hurts worse than hearing a little girl say she's fat, or that no one likes her, or that she is anything less than what she is.  Let's let kids just be kids, for as long as they can, okay?

See, I still knew how to look the part of a lady!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

On Jealousy and Insecurity

Admit it. At some point, you've let your insecurities get the best of you and succumbed to that ugly green monster known as jealousy.

Whether it's over looks, attention, or possessions, jealousy is never a pretty thing. It also won't get you what you want. On the contrary, it's likely to make you lose what you already have. Jealousy is like always looking back - you'll miss out on all the great moments you could have been enjoying.

Hey, keep on fussing that your brother got a bigger burger than you.
This dog will eat them all, no questions asked.
The world won't end if you find yourself feeling the twinges of jealousy one day. (Seriously, it's ok.) We all feel a little jealous about one thing or another at some point in our lives. What really matters is what you DO with those feelings. If you let them consume you, you will become paranoid and bitter...if not downright spiteful. You'll spiral down deeper and deeper, and, before you know it, your world is no longer just green with jealousy, it's empty. That's right. Empty. That's because no one wants to hang with an overly jealous person. They're a drag. I know, because I've both been one and hung with a few.


The good news is that jealousy can be managed better with maturity, which typically comes with age. It's not uncommon to have direct battles with jealousy in your teens. If you're still facing the same battles in your thirties and using the same management techniques as when you're a teen (which usually equals none), well friend, you're in trouble. Get a grip on that. Like, now.

That's so not cute.

In my particular case, my jealousy wasn't over someone else's possessions. My issues were, like many women's, mostly centered around my boyfriend at the time. I was young (16) when we started dating. My boyfriend's way of avoiding conflict or even remotely difficult questions was to not divulge any information and more or less just lie. 

For example, he was invited to a graduation party by a girl that was part of his (supposed) old circle of friends. I told him I wasn't comfortable with it, and it almost turned into an argument because he felt I was making something of nothing. He claimed they had always been just friends and there was no reason he couldn't have female friends. Of course, his tune changed later when I happened over a giant bundle of notes he had saved from her, one of which detailed a pregnancy scare she had had after having sex with him. Just friends? Um, no. Needless to say, omissions like this created deep trust issues that seriously delayed my battle with common teenage jealousy issues. 

"What? She just needed a place to crash. It's not like we're naked."
That boyfriend has since became my husband and we're expecting our first baby together. Clearly, we worked through our communication and jealousy issues and built a stronger bond, rather than letting the little things tear us apart. When it comes to jealousy in a relationship, it's important to remember that communication is key...and communication is a two-way street. If you don't voice your concerns, you can't expect to be heard or have your feelings considered. (Note that it's not just speaking up, it's what you say and how you say it!) When you feel jealous, it's important to stop and ask yourself exactly what it is that is making you feel that way. Nine times out of ten, it's rooted somewhere in your own insecurities. If you can isolate what is making you feel jealous, you can make the conscious decision to change your behavior. Whatever you do, don't undervalue your feelings. You're having them for a reason, whether it's due to your own insecurities or something else entirely (like poor communication). 

Yep. Get to know that person in the mirror. 

I think jealousy is a pretty natural human behavior, it's just one of many behaviors you have to learn to manage appropriately. Unbridled jealousy can wreak havoc on relationships and your own sanity. Identify it, own it, overcome it. :) 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

I'm Not Attracted to Men...But It's Not What You Think

So today, a coworker showed me a set of funny boxers she found online. They're knitted, with elephant ears and a trunk that...well, I think you can imagine what the trunk part is for. I didn't find it very humorous. Part of that is my pregnancy hormones, I'm sure, but the rest is that I just found it plain repulsive. Why ruin the image of cute elephants for me? Being surrounded by an office full of single ladies over the age of 40, I hear lots of crass comments in regards to men and their bodies. Most of the time, I am unfazed by their incessant drooling over celebrities like Channing Tatum and Charlie Hunnam, but other times, I could just about lose my lunch.
Hey Ashton, put some clothes on!
I guess it goes without saying that I am just not attracted to the male body - at least, not in the way that so many women express attraction. I'm sure that sounds a bit like a conundrum, particularly since I am married and clearly pregnant...and it was no immaculate conception. I think my husband is very handsome. There are times he does or says something that literally makes my heart melt. He listens to all of my political and philosophical rants with a calm ear and the occasional nod. He's my best friend and my favorite spot is with his arm around me and my head on his chest. I am equally attracted to him if he is clothed or less-than-clothed. I could easily lose my mojo if I stared at his man package for too long, though.
It's clear she's seen a man stick.

Let's face it. That thing is just plain weird. First off, let's acknowledge the fact that it's essentially another appendage. A wrinkly, stretchy one at that. I really don't see the charm in it.

As for the other part...well, I can go to the beach and watch 200,000 men with no shirts go by, and it's not going to do a thing for me. I can appreciate that a man has a nice face, nice arms, or pretty eyes, but I don't get any butterflies from it. I seriously get zero pleasure from drooling over men. "Hot" also isn't really a word that floats around in my vocabulary, unless I'm talking about the temperature. Someone tell me I'm not the only woman that feels this way.

I guess words and actions do a lot more for me than anything else. I can appreciate a pretty face, but it's what's in the brain that turns my gears. ;)

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pregnancy Troubles

In case you didn't know it, I'm currently pregnant with our first child. As it turns out, we're having a baby girl! Normally, it'd be appropriate to divulge more information about how I'm doing, what we have planned, and so on, but unfortunately, this is more of a ranting pregnancy post. Enjoy. Or just suffer through it. Or click away. 

Before I got pregnant, I didn't think I'd want to divulge information about my pregnancy or let people touch my "bump." Not much changed after I actually got pregnant - I don't mind close friends and family (you know, the ones I actually like) touching my bump, but I feel like telling everyone else paws off!!! 

Yeah, just don't touch it. Ok?
At what point does a pregnant woman cease to be a human being with needs of her own and evolve into a highly touchable incubator? I've got the answer - halfway through your pregnancy. Now that I'm 21 weeks along, I've stopped looking like I've been eating too much ice cream and started looking like a genuinely pregnant woman. With this new look comes an onslaught of unwelcome and awkward comments about my weight, size, looks, and other general things about my person that no one would dare say if I weren't pregnant. 
Mmmm.....ice cream....
Today was no exception. While my husband likes to constantly comment, "Your belly is getting big!" I'm well aware of his meaning. Besides, he helped make this baby and it's his right to participate in every moment. We're a team. You other people? Um...learn your places, please?? Some people just seem to know their place and what's appropriate to say or not to say...possibly because they endured some crap while they were pregnant and remember how it made them feel. I have one coworker who likes to poke said bump and occasionally address it as though it is a separate entity. We're close enough that I'm not the least bit bothered by that. She's also never said anything about my weight, size, etc, so kudos for that! I have several others, however, who constantly make comments about where I'm carrying my weight, how much it looks like I've grown, how I can eat whatever I want because I'm pregnant, and so on. 

I'm well aware that I'm growing on a daily basis. I'm aware that my old pants won't button. I'm beyond aware that my complexion resembles that of an awkward teen. And yes, I know my baby bump is sticking out, along with the fat I already sported around my belly. I know my feet and ankles have already started swelling, and I know I look tired all of the time. But you know what else I know? 

I'm growing a baby.

That's right, a baby. My body is changing and shifting to make room for a growing baby. I have food aversions and heartburn and bloating. I'm extra sensitive to strong-smelling perfumes and lotions, and I cry easily. I have subconscious insecurities about being unattractive in this new condition, and I have nightmares about my husband running off with a much thinner, better looking woman. I also have crazy dreams about men I would never find attractive in real life, dreams about being chased by an intelligent T-Rex and dreams about narrowly escaping disaster. I have more emotions coursing through me at any given minute than a soap opera on prime time TV. My boobs hurt, my feet hurt, and sometimes I get dizzy as heck. And that's just part of it.

So with all of that I'm experiencing, why do people feel the need to say insensitive and useless crap? 

Whether a woman is pregnant or not, there's some things you just don't say to her. Don't comment on her weight unless it's to say you think she's lost some...and don't make a habit of doing that. Don't comment on her looks unless it's to compliment her. It's NEVER appropriate to call her large, big, or say things like, "Man, you're getting big!" 

Keep on, and I might start firing back! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

On Growing Up: Dolls

Being a '90s baby, I grew up when Cabbage Patch dolls were popular. They were born in a "hospital" and you could "adopt"the one you wanted. My parents wouldn't let me have one. At the time, I thought they were just being ridiculous. They're just dolls! 

Everybody wants one!!
For the most part, I didn't care for dolls. I liked the American Girl porcelain dolls, but besides a Cabbage Patch doll, there really wasn't any doll I could say I wanted.

Recently, I learned about a different kind of doll, one that is better known as a "reborn." According to WikiPedia, a reborn doll is a "vinyl doll that has been transformed to resemble a human baby with as much realism as possible." Doesn't sound so freaky, huh? Well...watch these videos first:

That's right. Grown women treating dolls like babies, taking them into stores, buying them actual baby clothes, furniture, diapers, you name it. Teens buying them to be "teen moms." It's appalling. You can read more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uncanny_valley as to why many people DO find these dolls repulsive. 

Are the dolls themselves harmful? No. Like the Cabbage Patch dolls, they are just toys, made by humans, for humans. However, it's the emotions we invest in them and the creating of an unnatural bond with them that makes them...well, just plain wrong. 

Now that I'm older and about to become a mom myself, I can understand a little bit of my parents' sentiment of wanting to protect me. Are Cabbage Patch dolls evil? Will they turn every person that has one into a total freakazoid? Nope and nope. Same thing for "reborn" dolls. My parents wanted me to enjoy childhood and not feel tied down with the responsibility of a baby...a baby that's just a toy. They wanted me to use my imagination and enjoy life, but they didn't want me getting involved in something that's almost cult-like. Good call. I doubt I would have become obsessed if I had been permitted to have a CP doll, but they made the decision they thought was best. 

I want what's best for my future kiddo, too. I don't want to see them involved in something so...well, darn creepy. Regular baby dolls? If we must. These mock children? Um, no. So...if my future kiddo ever comes up to me and asks for one of these freaky reborn dolls, my answer will be a swift "no," and it'll probably take them 18+ years to understand why, too.