Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My marriage did not lead to procreation, maybe I should notify the Supreme Court

As a heterosexual woman, I was free to marry my high school boyfriend. I didn't need parental consent. I didn't need the Supreme Court to weigh in on my choice (although in retrospect that might not have been such a bad idea). My point is, I was a dumb kid, old enough to reproduce or enlist in the military. Legally within my rights to drive a car and drink myself silly (though, sadly, without the sense to avoid doing both simultaneously). I had no business making life-altering decisions.

"The concern is that redefining marriage as a genderless institution will sever its abiding connection to its historic traditional procreative purposes, and it will ... refocus the purpose of marriage and the definition of marriage away from the raising of children and to the emotional needs and desires ... of adult couples," Cooper argued.

It would come as no surprise to anyone - except, apparently, Mr. Cooper - that I got divorced within a few years. I imagine it had something to do with the fact that I married in order to start a family, with little concern for my (allegedly irrelevant) emotional needs and desires. I'm sure glad Mr. Cooper wasn't around when my infertile self was thinking about getting married a second time, since, in his opinion, I had no reason to bother if I wasn't making babies.

I didn't really understand why anyone would be against gay marriage, until I listened to Mr. Cooper today. I was dumbstruck. They are all up in arms because they think that marriage is primarily for the purpose of procreation? That's their case against gay marriage? That's it?
But............ sometimes people - straight or gay - can't procreate. What about them? Can't they get married?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but do me a favor. Take a break from reading this, and think about all of the heterosexual people in this world who shouldn't be procreating, and all of those who do so (and continue to do so long after it is reasonable or even feasible) with or without the commitment of marriage.

Okay. You have a picture in your head of all the people out there who have no business being parents? And all of the people who are absolutely miserable in their marriage?

Now I want you to think long and hard about what, exactly, makes a marriage. Think about YOUR marriage for a minute. What do you share with your spouse?

It has nothing to do with whether or not you can conceive.

And a final note: to my husband. Who married me even though I was broken. Who stayed with me while I healed. Who honored me with his patience and compassion. And who has said, many many times, that even if we could not conceive a child, he wouldn't leave. Mr. Cooper, I wish you could meet this man. He might be able to teach you a thing or two about marriage.

I'm over at Yeah, Write again this week. You can read some good stuff from other bloggers, and vote for your favorite.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

How it happens. Date rape is not what it sounds like, sometimes.

The moment of transition from consensual fun to non-consensual force can be breezed over mid-kiss.

It can happen when you are stone cold sober, or drunk and disoriented.

It can happen in the safety of your own home - your own bed, even - or it can happen in strange places far from familiar surroundings.

You can cry for help - but no one may hear the cries. You may be crying for different reasons - one or many, related or unrelated to what is transpiring right now in your head and your heart. You may be numb. You may not be able to cry out loud as your insides melt and evaporate under the guilt and shame and confusion.

And if the cries are heard, what then? There comes an almost immediate need to explain, defend, dissect and label what happened. Accusations and excuses from all sides. Was it rape? Assault? Statutory? Consensual? Did someone change their mind, or was it the act itself that changed? I want to ask only this: Does it matter?

In reading the coverage of the rape case in Steubenville OH, and the ever growing stories of rape flashing across my screen from around the country and around the world, it's the same old, same old version of he said/she said. Blame the victim, don't blame the victim, age of consent vs consensual - but the facts about date rape are indisputably filled with gray area.

And really, gray is okay. Do we need the sordid details to be able to have honest discussions about sex and consent?

To believe that sex is an act that is to bring pleasure to both, not power to one?

I am here to tell you: rape can happen amidst love. Rape can happen with the best of intentions. Rape is a violent act that can happen without violence.

I am here to tell you: having sex with someone to "help them feel better" is not necessarily going to do that - no matter how well-meaning. And while some people might find comfort in sex, it is definitely not a suggestion that should be made at a time of vulnerability.

Rather than debate the semantics of rape - whether we are talking about one specific case, or of the act of rape in general - I want to focus on the idea that sex is between two people. That if both parties are not wholly engaged in the process, from start to finish, are not feeling pleasure, are not laughing and smiling and communicating and encouraging each other throughout the entire act, then you need to reconsider what, exactly, is going on.
If someone is reluctant.
If someone needs to be coerced out of their clothes and into your arms.
If someone has to be forced by word or hand to do something, then it is no longer consensual.

Sex is our most primal instinct. But there is no need to behave like an animal.

This is my first submission to Yeah, Write. I am terrified and excited all at once. If you are a blogger who writes or a writer who blogs, I hope you'll come join me. Thanks to Peach for the introduction.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I didn't have an ID on me, because my purse didn't match my unitard.

This past weekend, I was struck with one of my best ideas ever.

It all started very innocently - as the best plans do. We were at a going-away party for two of my favorite rollerskating lesbians (and that is saying a lot - I have plenty of lesbian friends, with and without roller derby connections - but when you add rollerskates to an already awesome lesbian, it's kind of mind blowing. And then to be the best of the rollerskating lesbians? Well. they are practically superheroes).

So there we are, eating and laughing, and enjoying a rousing performance of Hall and Oates b-side "She's a Jam Eater":
(What? This is just a typical Saturday night.)

 This was followed by repeat viewings of "Breakfast". (incredibly offensive and NSFW video below).


( I just had to share this in case you missed it before now. You Are SO WELCOME.)

Naturally, after THAT video - and the hearty ass-shaking that accompanied it - talk began of heading out to go dancing. But first! A no holds barred Cards Against Humanity tournament (featuring the always-a-winner card: "Making the penises kiss". Insider tip - and just the tip: You can play that card at any time and win the whole damn thing.) We also had a dramatic reading from one of Augusten Burroughs novels - it doesn't matter which one, all that matters is that the reading was given with an enormous pink (allegedly clean) dildo used as a page turner.

Time was flying by, let me tell you, and before long it was midnight. The bars were closing soon, so we decided that yes, we wanted to go out dancing for a little while.

And THAT is when my amazing, best-ever idea struck and spread like wildfire. Or an unsavory rash.

"Jess," I said, turning to our hostess "don't you have a bunch of unitards?"


By 1am I was standing in the Barmuda Triangle, surrounded by 6 women in gymnastic unitards, and two dressed as Mario and Luigi. I have no idea why Jess had Mario and Luigi costumes, but thank god she did. Mario's costume fit like a glove. But Luigi was another story. Luigi was wearing a diamond-crusted grill and a messenger bag, sporting an enormous camel toe, and was also on crutches.


(I have no idea who that woman in the middle is - if you recognize her, let me know. Poor dear.)

Remarkably, the unitards barely got a second glance - but holy shit you guys. Mario and Luigi set that place OFF. Flashbulbs were popping, people were shouting from the dance floor, and they were being cheered on by drunk 20-somethings wearing enormous green sequined hats and  "Kiss Me I'm Irish" t-shirts - which is a pretty hard sell when you are clearly Asian. But really, who was I to judge? I was in a rainbow leopard print onesie.

The plan had been to go and see a friend of ours who was DJing - but my ID had expired and apparently even almost-40 year old women in unitards must have a valid ID to get into a bar.


Lesson learned.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Island Road Trips. Yes, there is such a thing.

Hey everyone, sponsored post alert. Mazda and BlogHer asked me if I had any road trip experiences to share. We may live on an island, but have no fear: the road trip is alive and well here on Maui - even if it is just a big circle. Put the top down, and hit the road :)

Living on a relatively small island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I don't get a lot of opportunities to road trip. I mean, where am I going to go? It's an island. All roads LITERALLY lead back home.

Some days, I experience pangs of nostalgia for my former road warrior self. I pine for the freedom of a highway stretching out before me, where I might, perhaps, be able to drive fast enough to need 5th gear. Find a college radio station, put a cup of coffee in my cup holder, light a cigarette, dig my sunglasses out of the glove box, and hit the road.

Oh, 1992. How I miss you. Car rides these days don't involve smoking, and most roads on island have a speed limit under 35. No matter where I go, I am usually stuck behind a tourist who is simultaneously driving and recording the action on a video camera stuck out the window. My car is filled with kids and dogs and car seats, and cup holders are taken up with baby bottles and cellphones. There is a constant stream of questions and complaints coming from the back seat, drowning out NPR on the radio.

I have tried to recreate the 1992 road trips of my dreams from time to time. It never ends well. A few years ago I drove two kids and my grandmother from Rhode Island to Virginia. A drive that should have taken eight hours at the most, took 14. The bumper fell off of the rental car on I-95, and then we got stuck in a tornado.

A tornado.

A few days later we had to drive back to Rhode Island. By the end of the trip, my grandmother and I were no longer speaking in loving tones. We sat in silence - she staring out the window as I clutched the steering wheel with white knuckles - while the GPS directed us through a variety of unsavory urban areas and down long, winding gravel roads that ultimately led nowhere.

The road trip dream died a little that day, but I couldn't give up. I was willing to try again, though perhaps without my grandmother riding shotgun. So my husband and I set out on a romantic road trip, just the two of us.

Probably would have been more romantic if I hadn't dropped an entire box of Chinese food upside down in my lap almost immediately after leaving the house.

These days I just try to relax and enjoy the ride, even if it is just around the corner. After all, I live on Maui. The views along the way to almost everywhere are breathtaking. The problem is, when you see the same view every day on your commute, somewhere along the way to the bank or the grocery store you forget how beautiful it is.

I think that is why when people come to visit us here in Hawaii I am always up for a road trip. It helps me to see my beautiful island home through a fresh pair of eyes, and to be reminded to slow down and enjoy the scenery. Until someone suggests driving The Road to Hana, that is.

The Road to Hana is famous. Or notorious, depending on whether you have actually driven it or not. There are t-shirts all over this island that say "I Survived the Road to Hana" and as far as I am concerned it should add "....without leaving my family on the side of the road or throwing up on myself," because these things have been known to happen on that drive. Newlyweds set off in the morning, and come back haggard and silent. Families return bickering and hungry. They are unanimously frustrated because there is no cell or radio or satellite reception over there. Yes, the views are gorgeous. Yes, there are waterfalls. Yes, it is full of twists and turns. And yes, you do deserve a t-shirt at the end of it. Far be it from me to ruin someone else's idea of a good time. If a visitor wants to drive to Hana, I pack them a lunch, hand them a few CDs, and send them on their way. I have been there and done that, and don't need to do it again, thanks, especially with two surly and nauseated kids in the back seat. No thank you.

However, there is another legendary road trip on Maui that I haven't tackled yet: the pre-dawn drive up Haleakala for a spectacular sunrise. I am not (to put it mildly) a morning person. With my parents coming from the East Coast to stay with us this week, and jet lag being what it is, I knew they would be up nice and early (ahem) so I planned to make the most of it . Plus, with mom and dad around, it meant someone else could do the actual driving. I bundled the kids into the back of the car with blankets and pillows, made a thermos of hot cocoa, and we hit the road at about 4:30 a.m.

I even wore pants for the occasion. I'm glad I did - it was less than 40 degrees when I got out of the car up there. Luckily, I had a great view from the heated driver's seat.

(photo courtesy of Van Tang, who always gets the money shot)

Haleakala is a National Park. The views were spectacular, and there were plenty of places to stop along the way - short hikes, gorgeous overlooks, informative ranger stations. Bathrooms. And hiking into a dormant volcano is certainly a unique experience.

This was a road trip worth taking, my friends. Pick your battles, and always choose the one that involves hot cocoa and letting someone else drive.

This post is part of BlogHer's Family Fun on Four Wheels editorial series, made possible by Mazda CX-9.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mic Drop: why I dressed up like Marilyn and sang "Happy Birthday"

Oh. Hello there. It's been a while since we talked, but I want you to know that each night, right before I lay down and pass out cold I think to myself "You didn't blog today. Don't you know your blog is your resume?"

Yeah, I know. Which explains why I am still babysitting and waiting tables - because I need to finish editing my book and get back to my daily blogging habit. However, the endless stream of blog material has evaporated along with my bar tab and rollerskates, and I really hate to bore you with the details of my latest trip to Walmart. But this weekend I did something I haven't done in a long time, and I regretted it before I had even done it. Of course, I didn't let that stop me. Oh no, I went right ahead and made an ass out of myself for no reason whatsoever.

It started out very uneventfully. I woke up, I lay around in serious denial about the fact the my mother is arriving from Rhode Island this week and my house is a mess. I drank tea. I switched to coffee. I went to Starbucks. There was a roller derby game at 4pm, and I had plenty of time to get myself there. I had no plans to skate, no plans to do anything other than maybe sit at the announcer's table and play sidekick and ask stupid questions about rules and procedures and penalties. No stress.

There was one other thing on my agenda however.
The game marked the 5th anniversary of the founding of the Maui Roller Girls, and my plan was to sing happy birthday to them before the game. I had casually mentioned it to someone, and then the idea took hold, and it developed a life of it's own. The Marilyn Monroe dress came out of the closet. I started practicing in the car in the morning when I was alone after dropping everyone off. "This will be bad-ass" I thought. "I love these girls, and they love it when I make a fool of myself on their behalf, so this'll be great."

The one small detail missing in all of this brilliance is that I do not sing.

Well, not never. Just, not very often,. Don't get me wrong, I am a big, big fan of drunk-a-roke. I vaguely remember performing a rousing duet of "The Preacher's Son" last year. My hands always shake like leaves until I have safely returned to my seat, but I force myself to do it every once in a great while, just so I know that I still have the balls. And my balls greatly increase in size in direct correlation to how much alcohol I have consumed. Get enough tequila in me and I will be half naked screeching Pat Benetar along with every other drunk person within ear shot. But sadly, this was an alcohol-free event (very, very different from a "free alcohol event") and I was going to have to do this on my own. Solo. A capella. In front of a lot of people.

When I arrived at the warehouse, the stupidity of my idea hit me full force. Serious concerns about whether I could go through with it wracked my brain. There were several hundred roller derby fans who were there to see some fucking roller derby. They did not buy tickets in order to sit through a middle aged woman in a halter dress singing "Happy Birthday Mr. President Maui Rollergirls" in her breathiest voice. Boy, was this a bad idea. I was feeling like a total asshole.

I tried postponing it to halftime. No dice. I considered just forgetting the whole thing, after all the team didn't know what I had planned. I was making way too big a deal out of this. "Just do it." one voice said. "Do NOT do this" another voice said. My hands were sweaty. My voice was trembling as I made announcements and delivered lei's and gifts to our VIPs. All I wanted was a drink.

But I don't drink anymore. Which is another brilliant idea of mine. Man, I'm just full of good ideas these days.

And then the moment came, and I was stuck. Standing there next to the track, with a bunch of people watching me and a long line of friends waiting for me to shut up so they could skate, I had to do it. Shit.

So I did. I don't remember much, only that I didn't fall over or show anyone my ass. The girls laughed and cat-called and the audience didn't throw anything at me or boo (both of which feature prominently in my nightmares about singing in front of an audience). Thank god it was only three lines, and then I could sit down and let everyone get down to business.

The after party was another exercise in sobriety. As people drank, and warmed up, I sipped a soda and berated myself. The "I love you man" portion of the evening arrived and I hadn't had anything stronger than Pepsi. I thought about leaving early and called home, but Sam encouraged me to stay. I returned to the bar, and the self-flagellation. I do stupid stuff all the time - why was this any different? What was the big deal? No one here cared if I acted like an idiot. I stared out over the water, sitting near a teammate who was enthusiastically making out with a total stranger by the light of a tiki torch, and watched the huge cruise ship with lights blazing, anchored in the harbor. I felt very small. As I turned to go back to the bar, my teammate turned around and started making out with another total stranger. Huh. "She might regret that tomorrow," I thought to myself. "or she might have a three-way." I shuddered, and went back inside.

And just then, it all clicked into place. I finally realized what the problem was. As I stepped over two grown women rolling around on filthy concrete leg wrestling while a crowd cheered them on, I had a revelation. For the first time ever, I can't blame alcohol for the stupid shit I do.

It turns out I am just as much of an idiot stone cold sober as I am when I am falling down drunk.

Let's just keep this between us. I'm not really big on three-ways.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

I need to not be needed

Some people are reading that title and rolling their eyes.

HOWEVER, anyone with small children or a job that necessitates supervising other people or working on call is nodding solemnly.

It would feel so good to not be needed for a little while.

I need a minute. No, more than a minute. More than an hour. More than a day.

I need to turn off the phone and the computer and set my projects and work aside, with an autoresponder and voicemail that say something along the lines of "don't bother waiting for an answer - figure it out for your damn self".

I need to leave my kids and my husband to fend for themselves, keep track of their own menus and schedules and laundry for a while.

I need to not have commitments and responsibilities and people counting on me every minute of every day.

And its okay.
I am here to tell you, all of you, that it is O. K. to need a break. It doesn't mean you are depressed, or unhappy, or even overwhelmed. It just means you need a break. A rest. Respite. (Which has nothing to do with spite, strangely enough). No guilt required. Are you nervous to say it out loud? Nervous to admit that you need some time to yourself? Afraid that people will be offended, or hurt, or think they can't count on you?

No. Be not afraid. It's okay. I am willing to bet that everyone around you knows you need a break too - whether they want you to take one is another story altogether and the entire point of my writing this. If you take that break - if you acknowledge needing a break, and then actually taking it, you will return happier. Clearer. Ready to tackle life, roll with the punches, and keep your head above water. Take the break. Take back control. Take back your life, so that you can feel as though you are sharing it with others rather than just giving it to them. It's okay.

It is okay to dream of having your own bedroom for a night, with no one moving and snoring and mouth breathing next to you. It is okay to lock the bathroom door so that people don't wander in and start asking questions and flushing the toilet while you are in the shower. It is okay to be frustrated because your kid gets a horrible blistering sunburn every time she goes on a playdate, and it's okay to be disgusted because your kid refuses to rinse out the sink after cleaning his braces. It's okay to want to scream because you are trying to do your work during the very limited time you have to do it, and someone else is holding you up because they didn't do their shit yet. It's okay to feel like crying when you run the dishwasher, and then someone runs it again without bothering to check and see if the dishes are already clean. It's okay to be aggravated because no one else washes the laundry, and even more aggravated when they do because they shrink everything in the dryer - and it is definitely okay to be angry when you find a wet moldy load of laundry in the washer that was forgotten for days. It's okay to be pissed off when someone repeatedly asks you when things are happening, or what is going on, even though they have access to the same information you do and could just fucking look it up, or write it down, or put a memo on their phone or something. It's okay to want to bang your head against the wall when you clean the house, or finish a project, and then the next thing you know there are three more things to deal with.

And as hard as it is to keep your own shit together, and by extension you family's shit together, it is so easy for someone to just casually stick a spoke in your wheels and then look at you innocently as you go ass over elbows and land face first.

Today at work someone informed me that tomorrow is Easter, and we had the day off.

I just stood there, blinking.

I didn't know what to think. I didn't know what to say. Easter? EASTER? Are you fucking kidding me?

Easter. You are telling me March 3rd, 2013 is Easter.

At first I was panicked. Had I forgotten? I didn't even have any Mini Eggs yet. And then, after confirming that it is absolutely not Easter tomorrow, I almost burst into tears. Frustration? Relief? Hard to say, because people, it is hard enough. Hard enough to keep track of stuff, and stay reasonably organized, and get where you need to be when you need to be there, which necessitates at the very least remembering what freaking day it is - without someone just making shit up like that.

And so, tomorrow - which is not Easter - I am going to do all of the things that I am committed to doing, but in the middle of all of it I am taking a nap. Because I think that maybe I need one. But before that, before ANYTHING, I am going out to buy some fucking Easter candy. Just in case.