Muslin Sucks and Other Motherhood Realizations

A librarian, a researcher, a Ravenclaw… when I was pregnant, I did all the research. Having avoided all things baby during our fertility troubles, I felt wildly unprepared to take charge of two tiny lives forever. So, for nine months I studied the risks, benefits, and likelihood of vaginal delivery versus cesarean. I read up on schedules, sleep training, and milestones. I watched YouTube videos on diapering and swaddling and taught myself lullabies. I read list after list of must-have baby and twin items and cross-referenced them with online reviews. I did all that I could to prepare myself for all of the emotional/bodily changes and the impact of newborn multiples on my marriage and social life. Now, here I am, the mother of eight month old twins and these are my findings.

Muslin sucks.
I did more research on the things I shouldn’t buy than the things I should, because I’ve always considered the baby industry to be quite predatory. While the wedding industry sells a “perfect day,” the baby industry markets your child’s safety and well-being, heavily implying that if you don’t purchase that $200 sock, they’ll die. So, I was pretty choosey with my purchases and regret very few of them.

My husband was right, the Dock-A-Tot is an over-priced dog bed. Two full-sized high chairs would have been expensive and taken up way too much room. We didn’t need two changing tables or really two of most things. The off-brand double jogging stroller is amazing. The simplest bottles are the best bottles. My preemies did need long-sleeved onesies. The Baby Brezza was worth every penny… and muslin sucks. For years, I have seen women heaping praise on muslin swaddles, muslin blankets, muslin changing pad covers, claiming they’re so soft and that they get softer with every wash. I didn’t even think to research this miracle fabric when building my registry, since it had been sold to me as remnants of the shroud that covered Christ himself. I wish I had, though, because apparently someone over at Muslin Inc. sold his soul to a crossroads demon to convince moms everywhere that this stuff is anything but gauze for bandages.

Y’all, muslin is the worst. Since it’s basically low thread count cotton, after just a few washes, it becomes scratchy and those beautiful and vibrant colors you love noticeably fade. The weakest Velcro, which is found on a lot of baby items, will destroy it and it shrinks and shrivels, in a way that is entirely unique to these overpriced dollar store bath towels. As much research as I did, I never found a “muslin sucks” rant, so here’s mine: muslin sucks.

I sleep and pursue self-care.
When I found out I was having twins, I was prepared to never sleep again. In fact, during those last couple of months, I would often burst into tears over this assumed inevitability, as leg cramps and round ligament pain would wake me during the night. I was even angry at Jake, because he could sleep and I hadn’t slept well since before Covid-19.

When you leave the hospital with multiples, you’re given a schedule with strict instructions to maintain it. So that’s what we did, in part because I left the hospital very sick. Not only was I recovering from major abdominal surgery, I wasn’t even supposed to stand for long stretches of time, due to heart complications. Responding to every noise the girls made wasn’t a possibility. Still, those first few weeks were a blur of feeding babies every two hours, because the actual feeding took an hour or more. As a result, it was time to eat and snuggle, only when it was time to eat and snuggle, not out of heartlessness, but self-preservation. This wasn’t a problem, because our 35-weekers slept so much we actually worried about their hearing. I’d read that it was best to develop healthy sleep habits early by maintaining normal volume and lighting in the home, to help differentiate between day and night. Nothing woke those girls.

For us, this all seemed to work well, because other than the four-month sleep regression, our babies have slept through the night since they were 12 weeks old. Rather than following the wisdom of Google, we followed the cues of our daughters and dropped all of their night feedings a bit earlier than conventional wisdom suggests. First, we nixed the midnight and then the 8:00 feedings. As a result, my plump little ladies eat three times a day and we sleep. Some nights they both fight going down and others they’ll wake up crying. Our response lies somewhere between Cry it Out and the Ferber Method. If they cry in earnest, they get a snuggle and a song and return to their cribs. If they cry for more than a few minutes after, they get the same treatment. This happens maybe once every few weeks and between instances, we all sleep through the night.

I won’t claim that this is all the result of our amazing sleep training skills. I’m sure there’s a good deal of luck involved, since both of our girls have always been healthy and have never had reflux or Colic issues. Some babies just don’t sleep and that doesn’t make anyone a bad parent, but it’s not necessarily the norm to never sleep again, as we’re all told when preparing for children. Even when the girls woke every two hours to eat, Jake and I traded off on taking feedings alone, so the other could sleep longer. It might have been broken up a bit more, but we did sleep. Today, the definition of “sleeping in” has certainly changed with babies who won’t entertain themselves past 8:00, but we are not the exhausted zombies of parenting memes. In fact, I’d say I sleep much more now that I have children, than I did when I worried I’d never have them.

Similarly, Jake and I both find time to use the bathroom alone, shower, shave, and wash our hair. I’m a bodily private person and having children hasn’t changed that. I’m not going to do private things in front of my children, even as infants, if it makes me uncomfortable. After the invasiveness of infertility, I deserve bodily autonomy. My girls rest from 10-12 and from 2-4 during the day, whether they choose to sleep or roll around in their cribs and play with their feet. This is my time for self-care, ranging from exercise to grooming and basic hygiene. Maybe that will change when my twins are more mobile, but considering the number of people who insisted I’d go days between showers now, maybe not. Even during the fourth trimester, which only one person warned me would be an absolute bitch, I found time for basic hygiene every single day.

The fourth trimester was a bitch.
Despite the complications we had getting pregnant, I had a good pregnancy, until the end. Sure, I struggled to breathe with asthma and masking. Sleeping became progressively more difficult and my round ligament pain was fierce at times, but I wasn’t miserable. Though pregnancy hormones might have made me a little more sensitive, it wasn’t over-powering. I found myself a little… confused, because I was pregnant with not one, but two babies and I was actually enjoying it. Jake and I had so much fun planning for a future we had feared we’d never see. I loved feeling my babies kick and seeing them grow. In general, it was just so much easier than I had expected. I felt so fortunate to have side-stepped many of the side effects other women experience… you know, until I almost died.

I was five or six months pregnant the first time I heard the term “fourth trimester,” from my extremely even-tempered sister-in-law. She mentioned that she’d had a surprisingly difficult time post-partum, crying at the slightest provocation. I did some research of my own, but found reports varied widely and decided I’d fight that battle when I came to it. Well, a fight it was and the fear that I might have health issues for the rest of my life did not make things easier. Some days, I went from looking at my twins and feeling so blessed to have two healthy children to hysterically crying because I wasn’t going to get to see them grow up. I broke down every time a cardiologist appointment was coming up, adamant that I wasn’t going. I swung from devastation that I might not be able to have more children to insistence that I wouldn’t even try if I could.

My situation was quite unique, but the fourth trimester kicked my butt, even though I passed all of the post-partum depression tests. Despite all my research, the fourth trimester was probably the instance where I felt the least prepared. After two rounds of pandemic IVF, I finally felt as thought I’d gained a little bit of control of my emotions. Having that stripped away with minimal warning was devastating in itself. I wanted to enjoy those newborn days. I wanted to be happy and grateful, if fatigued, at all times. I was so frustrated with myself for having those negative feelings and potentially tainting such fleeting moments.

I have more sex now than ever.
For as long as I understood the reference, I knew that having children would kill a couple’s sex life. Before my girls were born, sitcoms and the single mom pals from my 20’s had me convinced that Jake and I would never have regular sex again, a particularly disheartening idea after infertility. For all of the awareness of infertility that’s arisen in our society, no one really talks about the havoc it can wreak on a marriage, particularly sexually.

When Jake and I were first trying to conceive, the sex was… regimented. Folks, as attractive as I find my husband, timed intercourse was somewhat unfulfilling. Still, scheduling sex around the blue days on an app was the steamiest scene from a romance novel in comparison to sex after we found out we’d have to pursue IVF. On the off-chance that I could get in the mood, I’d end every session crying, because it couldn’t make a baby. When I was finally pregnant with twins, things got awkward real fast. Sick until 14 weeks, I only had a few more before I became too cumbersome for comfortable intercourse. In fact, Jake deserves a ribbon for finishing the last time we were together before the girls were born, because I laughed the whole time. At 33 weeks with multiples, I was quite large for a land mammal. The angle was all wrong. It kind of hurt. It was just so bad.

I was not this subtle.

Despite my traumatic birth story, I was ready to reconnect just a few weeks after the girls were born. I missed my husband and looked forward to sex without a calendar or tears. It’s a damn shame no one told me that sex after childbirth hurts, but after one painful, failed attempt and a few uncomfortable sessions, things weren’t just good. They were better than ever.

As I mentioned, our girls slept a lot when they came home, even if it was intermittently. So, when I was still on maternity leave, Jake and I had plenty of time to be alone. Even when we were both back at work, the girls were usually asleep by 6:00, leaving potentially hours for someone to initiate sex around dinner, chores, and the 8:00 feeding. Now, our babies sleep from 7:00pm -7:00am and rarely wake up. Since I’m staying home, all of the chores get done while Jake is at work. We have all the time in the world for intimacy and we take it. I won’t go into detail, but contrary to modern wisdom, as the new parents of eight month old twins, my husband and I have more sex than we ever have in our marriage, averaging 4-5 times a week.

I have hobbies and a social life.
As a former librarian, one of my favorite things to do is read… high fantasy, romance, horror, good books, bad books. I’m actually in the process of finishing my blog series reviewing the 26 classics I read during the worst of the pandemic. As much as I wanted a family, I was saddened to think that it might be years before I could read again. If I wouldn’t have time to read, surely crochet, cross stitch, painting, paper crafts, and sewing would all be a distant memory as well. Since we met, Jake has been trying to get me into XBOX and PC gaming, so he would have someone to play with and we might share and bond over another hobby. I wasn’t opposed to the idea, but felt that surely I’d struggle enough to pursue the hobbies I do have, let alone new ones. Well, I was mistaken.

When Jake and I purchased our home in 2018, I found the inoffensive shade of Rental House Beige nauseating and painted every single room. Y’all, painting a 2300 square foot house is time consuming, so I decided to finally train my brain to listen to audiobooks. It was a game changer. I was able to finish two to three times as many books and I could read at rodeos and my nieces’ sporting events. I’ve loved audiobooks ever since and that affection has transitioned well to motherhood. I can listen to a book when I do laundry, clean, run errands, or take the girls for a walk. I can also listen while crafting. For Christmas, I made everyone mugs with my mug press. I used my Cricut to make the girls’ New Year’s Eve and Groundhog Day outfits. I resumed a cross stitch I started at the beginning of Covid. I’m catching up on the photo albums I make every year on Mixbook. Every day, I get an average of four hours of napping babies (or babies babbling and rolling around in their cribs), and several hours of babies who have gone down for the night. During that time, I get to pursue hobbies with a steady stream of stories in the background. I’ve already finished more books this year than I did in all of 2021. Jake even bought me a gaming PC so we could play together, when they girls have gone to bed.

As for maintaining a social life, Jake and I don’t really have any nearby friends with children. His buddies from high school have little ones, but they live in his hometown three hours away, in a neighboring state. Were we not in the midst of a pandemic, I’m sure we’d have strengthened the church connections we’d been cultivating before Covid. As it is, we stopped going to Mass in March of 2020, only returning to have the girls’ baptized. I assumed it would take a few more years before the twins were old enough to broaden our social network, through story and play times. Until then, I supposed it would just be the four of us. Although Jake is blessedly the most extroverted person I’ve met in my life, I still worried that this might be isolating. I needn’t have worried, because Dungeons and Dragons saved the day!

Just before the pandemic hit, I had really hit my stride as a teen librarian. I had almost 20 regulars attending homeschool programs weekly and had just started to see a payoff in my pursuit of a public school crowd. It was 2019 and the latest and greatest thing in teen librarianship was Dungeons and Dragons. Daunted by the steep learning curve, I’d dragged my feet on starting a campaign of my own, but my teens were begging for DnD. I knew my old friend Nikki actually lived a town over and had played with her husband, Percy. As a favor I asked if Percy might DM a game for us in exchange for dinner, so I could learn firsthand and invited my coworker Sarah for the second session. That was in February of 2020 and though there have been breaks for rises in cases, we’re still playing the same campaign. While I feared Jake would find the whole thing too nerdy, he took to it even more than I did. Right before I quit my job, he began DMing his own campaign with Percy, Nikki, and two of my other coworkers, Grady and Dawson. As nice as it will be to develop friends with other parents, it’s wonderful to have friendships that are completely independent of our role as parents, doing an activity that has nothing to do with our children. It’s even better that it’s regularly scheduled.

This isn’t that expensive.
Jake and I had several reasons for waiting until we did to start a family. We hadn’t lived together before we got married and wanted to enjoy some time alone. We dreaded the thought of moving with children and wanted to own our own home before they came along. Jake had left oil and hoped to advance a bit in his new field. More than anything, though, we wanted to be financially secure when we started having kids. For us, that meant reaching a minimum income and paying off specific amounts of debt. After learning we’d have to pay $30,000 to get pregnant, money was an even bigger part of our plans. Would we be able to afford daycare, diapers, and formula, let alone clothes and toys and family outings?

Of all the surprises parenthood has brought us, Jake and I have been most shocked by the fact that this isn’t that expensive. Daycare was ridiculous, because we have so many government regulations on the industry that it’s impossible to find even a rundown center for a reasonable price. Of course, we weren’t actually willing to send our girls to a subpar facility, so with twins, we were paying $1600 a month for childcare in a low cost of living state. That’s more than our mortgage for a 2300 square foot house on over an acre. One of the many reasons I quit my job was the knowledge that one more child would take more than my entire paycheck in daycare alone.

Childcare aside, though, the most we’ve spent on formula for two babies, has been about $20 a week, after the NICU pediatrician confirmed that the Sam’s Club brand was chemically the same as Similac. We buy our diapers in bulk and spend around $100-$150 monthly. Now that the girls are eating solid foods, we likely average another $100 on that, but our formula budget has decreased by about half. Currently, we spend around $300 on these priciest of necessities and for two children that’s… manageable.

When I found out I was pregnant at 21, not knowing I’d miscarry at 11 weeks, I worked part-time at a movie theater. The managers told me that if they’d waited until they were ready to have children, they’d have never had them. That makes sense, in hindsight, considering their financial situations, but the security that Jake and I aspired to was never beyond reach. We just wanted to own a comfortable home without drowning in debt. Still, we feared we wouldn’t be able to afford children, after being told for so long how unimaginably expensive they are. Well, here we are and right now, with two babies under one, it’s not that bad, financially. As they get older, they’ll have more needs and wants and we’ll have to reassess the budget, but right now, it really is okay.

Jake and I have only been parents for eight months. We have no idea what we’re doing most of the time… but that’s alright, because parenting has been wonderful. Even the rough moments haven’t come close to level of misery and negativity society projects on the institution. Our girls are not a physically and emotionally exhausting financial burden wreaking havoc on our personal lives and sex life, They’re a gift and a treasure and even when it does get tough I still feel like the rhetoric surrounding parenthood is inherently wrong. We sleep and shower. The post-partum tears have dried. We have sex all the time. We have good friends and fulfilling hobbies. We’re not drowning in debt. Some of these things will surely change as our babies grow and I’ll update you when they do, but I know one fact that will remain constant: muslin sucks.

No. It’s not okay if I get pregnant.

I’ve had to abandon hormonal birth control, because it makes me sick. While I’m considering an IUD, that’s something of a process, so it’s just condoms and somewhat hypocritical prayer for the time being. This comes up a surprising amount, with medical professionals and even family and friends, perhaps because we live in a society where people “check in” to the urologist on Facebook…

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… therefore, I’ve realized that the world is super okay with an accidental pregnancy for Belle.

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Aunt Lacy: “Why get on birth control? Why not just have a baby?”
Me: “Because Jake and I… aren’t married?”
Aunt Lacy: “So? You’re old enough.”

Me: “Well, I’m not on anything right now. Both Nuvaring and the pill made me sick, so it’s just condoms and prayer.”
Nurse: “Well, if it happens, it happens.”

Aunt Dee: “Well, you’re 28 now. If you got pregnant, it would be wonderful.”

Please, tell me more about how okay you are with taking my remaining years of freedom. Let’s talk about how great it will be for me to get fat and go five years without sleeping. I’m sure Jake will be thrilled to either have to propose, knowing he’ll never convince me that he actually wanted to marry me or break my heart forever.

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I have just gotten the hang of putting the dishes in the dishwasher, as I go, as opposed to musing aloud about taking them to a car wash while balancing a mug precariously on top of the pile like a game of kitchen Jenga. I am so shocked that I’ve kept a plant alive since Christmas that I’m not even sure it’s a real plant. In just the last week, my pets have had to alert me to their need for water by barking and meowing when I turn on the bathroom faucet. It’s either really flattering that the rest of society thinks I can handle the life of another human being or really quite sad that their standards are so low, because I’m perfectly willing to admit that I can barely take care of myself right now. I am finally at a point in my life where I can afford a small emergency and remain on top of my bills and I’m enjoying such expansive financial freedom in comparison with where I was one year ago.

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… how my bills got paid from 2007-2015…

It’s fantastic that the rest of the world is now so keen on babies born out of marriage. I’ve seen Bastard Out of Carolina twelve times and I’m not a member of the Westboro Baptist Church, so I really do mean that. I’m glad society is more accepting of individual lifestyles, but I still have a pretty traditional idea of the one I want to live. Call me old-fashioned, but I think life is generally easier and more pleasant for everyone involved if two people fall in love, marry, enjoy some time alone, and then have babies. I don’t want to be the only one to take my kids to basketball and ballet, to be the enemy when I take away electronic time for the weekend, to attend parent teacher conferences and pick up snacks for pre-K, because it’s my week to be the parent. I admire my single mom friends, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t look absolutely exhausting.

Fine. I concede that at this point in my life and relationship, I wouldn’t actually even be a single mom. Jake would step up, but his mother and father would never respect me again. Regardless of my financial standing, my dad and step-mom would be disappointed in me, too. Who cares what they think, though, right? I do. I care what they think. I care how the world reacts to the news that I’m having a baby and entering a new and exciting stage of life. So, yes, maybe a child wouldn’t derail my entire future, as it might have once, but it’s still one of my greatest fears and will remain so until long after my wedding day, because I can only handle one mouthy redhead for the moment. Am I being ridiculous and overdramatic? Possibly, but no one really gets to decide that other than me. I am not ready for a baby. I want to be excited by the prospect of parenthood, as does Jake. We are the primary individuals effected, after said baby, therefore it’s only our opinions that matter. So everyone needs to back the fuck off and stop jinxing my uterus with their damn well wishing!

 

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Why I Threw Away My Nuvaring and No Longer Trust My Doctors

At no point does this post become unpleasantly detailed.

Four months ago, I started Nuvaring after more than five years of abstinence. After researching other forms of birth control, this one was the obvious choice for me. Not only would I not have to worry about taking a pill every day, but I’d been on it five years earlier, with no side effects. The only catch was that, with two months until my insurance kicked in, I would have to pay out-of-pocket for this name brand prescription, because drug patents last for 20 years before generics can be produced.* Not wanting to risk the potential consequences of switching my hormonal birth control in such a short period, I bit the bullet and paid approximately $140 for Nuvaring, two months in a row.

Over the next four months, I experienced all of the perks of Nuvaring. I didn’t have to remember to take a pill every day. I had less extreme periods in every way. Neither Jake, nor I, ever felt the ring and it never slipped out. Most importantly, I never got pregnant. It seemed like the dream birth control. Why wasn’t everyone on this?!?

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I told you all about my kidney infection in March, when I discussed the perils of life without health insurance. What started as a bladder infection that I couldn’t afford to treat, eventually led to my waking up alone on the bedroom floor with a fever too high to reach for my phone and call for help. Eventually, the antibiotics took hold, and I got better. Finally, in April, I was officially insured… just in time for my new gynecologist to tell me I had another infection and treat me with yet more antibiotics, despite my lack of symptoms. I thought it was strange, that I’d get two UTI’s in one month. I, of course, looked up preventative measures and took action. So, it was much to my dismay when I recognized the same bladder infection symptoms I’d had two months prior, in the middle of May. This time, I was able to see a doctor for just $20, which seemed worth it to avoid missing more work. Jake just bought the Trojan multipack, because each time I was on antibiotics, we couldn’t count on hormonal birth control. It was becoming frustrating that I was even on birth control, if we were using condoms, anyway. I mean, I knew different forms of birth control came with their side effects, so why was I even taking the risk? Hmmm. On that thought…

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Where were these problems coming from, when I’d never had any similar issues, in my life? Could Nuvaring be the culprit? None of my doctors had suggested there could be any connection between the two. So, I took to the Internet and read all about Nuvaring side effects, only to find nothing relevant listed, even in the rarer cases. Over the course of the next week, I drank my water and waited for the antibiotics to take hold… and then called the doctor’s office to ask if I should’ve seen results, one week later. They verified that I did have an infection, but seeemed surprised that the antibiotics I’d been given hadn’t helped. I wasn’t to worry, though, because the antibiotics they prescribed this time would surely do the trick… until they didn’t and I was told that, at this point, a UTI couldn’t be the problem.

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I took to the Internet again. If it wasn’t a UTI, why was I experiencing so much pain? For a moment, I feared bladder cancer, only to calm myself when I discovered this is a diagnosis usually reserved for the elderly. Upon further research, I found that UTI symptoms can be attributed to chlamydia and gonorrhea, both. No part of me suspected Jake of cheating, but I knew he’d been with women before me and that neither of these STI’s necessarily caused any symptoms in men. So, I made an appointment to get tested. Any frustration I had for Jake, I’d reserve for after I found out I had anything and even then, it would just be for the fact that he hadn’t made sure he was clean. I’ll be honest. At this point, I hoped I had chlamydia. I’d have caught it in time to avoid any long term damage and the treatment was just another antibiotic. Sure, we’d have to use condoms again, but we’d mostly been doing that anyway.

On the Tuesday after Memorial Day, I got the call. I was clean of all STI’s and UTI’s… and I was devastated by this news. Over the next week, I became convinced that I’d never feel better, again. This was just how I’d live my life. Further research had told me that the remaining likely diagnosis was interstitial cystitis, a chronic disorder that may or may not respond to different kinds of treatment. The probiotics my doctor recommended seemed to have helped a bit, but I was still in so much pain, I was trying not to cry in frustration and discomfort in the bathroom at work. I longed for the last time I felt well and started to wonder when that even was. I counted back and made a surprising realization: the last time I felt better was the last time I took my Nuvaring out to have a period. I’d skipped the one before that, after being told by my gynecologist that this was okay, but Jake had disapproved. It didn’t sound healthy to him for me to be stacking my birth control without a break. Since my fertility directly effects him, I complied and took it out… and by the end of the week, the pain was mostly gone. My prayers had been answered, but only briefly, because it quickly returned. At this point, however, I’d just stopped complaining and was suffering in silence.

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For one final bout of research, I Googled “Nuvaring and UTI”… only to find numerous mentions of women who’d experienced both UTI’s and general urinary problems without diagnosis of an infection. Over and over again, I read stories on medical forums of women being in such pain that they couldn’t function or having multiple UTI’s in just a few months, only to find that discontinuing their usage of Nuvaring almost immediately relieved the symptoms. I was torn. If I’d had these problems and there was even a chance they could be related to my birth control, surely my doctor would tell me. I’d just wait until my current Nuvaring was finished and then try something else.

That night, as I lay in bed crying, knowing my symptoms would keep me up all night, again, I texted Jake to inform him that we’d be using condoms for awhile. I was sorry I hadn’t discussed it with him beforehand, but I couldn’t do it anymore and was willing to try taking out my Nuvraing on the hopes that my symptoms would clear up. I’d have taken an unplanned pregnancy over the pain, at that point. After sending that text, I trashed my $140 value birth control, that I’d only had in for two weeks. The next day, I called my gynecologist, requesting a different prescription. When I told the nurses my symptoms, however, they scoffed at the idea that my Nuvaring could be the culprit. The most I was able to get anyone to admit, was that women had complained of increased discharge and there was a possibility that that might cause an infection. When I picked up the new birth control, I got a more reasonable response from the pharmacist, with a bit less eye rolling. She said she hadn’t heard of these symptoms, but it made perfect sense to her.

It has been one week since I tearfully trashed my Nuvaring and I thank God numerous times a day that the pain is gone. I finally feel well, for the first time in over a month. I can go hours without having to pee, only getting up once or twice in the night. I no longer experience any pain. The only time I’ve had any such persistent symptoms in the last several days was when I tried to use my menstrual cup, because taking out my ring started my period. I am not a doctor. I cannot substantiate my claims that there is a connection between my urinary problems and my use of Nuvaring. I cannot say that this is even common enough that Nuvaring should say so, when it might be a dream contraceptive for other women. What I can say is that Nuvaring and the menstrual cup are both held in by pressing against the walls of the vagina and both caused me pain. I can tell you that I have had three substantiated UTI’s since March. I can tell you that I have never had any problems, such as these, until one month after starting Nuvaring. I can tell you that my doctors, the people I am supposed to trust with my health, never even suggested that the new prescription I was on might be the cause of the sudden problems I was experiencing, in a related area. When suggested this, I was gaslighted and treated as another obnoxious Web-MD reader. What I can tell you is that I will forever take my doctors’ opinions with a grain of salt, after this miserable experience. What I can tell you is that the pain is gone and I will no longer be using my vagina as a pocket for my birth control.

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http://www.fda.gov/Drugs/DevelopmentApprovalProcess/ucm079031.htm

Being Out of Communion with the Church

 

On a scale of one to ten, with one being the guy who checks the box because his great grandma dragged him to Mass every Sunday until he was eleven and ten being a nun, I am a relatively devoted Catholic, landing at about a six. To define more clearly, I go to church every Sunday and confession at least twice a year. I’ve never blatantly sinned, only to declare that all was well the next day, because I asked for forgiveness with no intention of changing my ways. I try not to say God’s name in vain. I pray and give thanks. I aim to be honest and good. I’m not perfect, but I don’t knowingly break Catholic teachings… or I didn’t, until now.

Jake and I are having sex. I’ve told you that, without too much detail. It wasn’t a slip up and I didn’t get caught up in the moment. I didn’t change some kind of vow I’d made, because my feelings surprised me. No. In fact, I made a conscious decision, long before I met Jake, that I wasn’t going to wait until I was married to have sex: a mortal sin, that requires absolution from a priest, through confession, for one to be considered in communion with the Catholic Church and receive the Eucharist.

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All you non-Catholics are either scratching your heads or rolling your eyes, but as Christ granted the apostles the ability to absolve mortal sins, so goes the way of the Catholic Church with priests. Furthermore, despite all the jokes to the contrary, if the confessor does not genuinely intend to avoid further sin, true absolution cannot be received. That’s the deal for Catholics. It’s non-negotiable and this is my faith.

Having been divorced young, I’ve heard a dozen stories about why others’ marriages ended and a sad number of them directly related to sex. A high school friend’s ex-husband had a general, but whopping porn addiction; another acquaintance waited until she was married to have sex, only to find out her new husband wasn’t interested in the slightest; Gaily’s ex-husband was just into really weird stuff; in addition to numerous other issues, even my own former marriage suffered from my ex-husband’s complete lack of interest, because sex is exercise. Of course, a healthy marriage goes far beyond the physical, and each of the above had other severe issues, but there are so many variables that can make or break that relationship, that I just couldn’t bring myself to promise not to explore any and all that I could before making a lifelong commitment, again.

At 23 years old, I sat crying in a judge’s office and I did make a vow. I vowed that the next time, I’d make an educated decision on my partner and over time, I came to decide that this included sex. I’d often read an online dating profile that elaborated (usually far too much) on sexual preference. One man declared himself a dominant, while others revealed that they’d like to act out rape fantasies, and most would simply admit to their appetites and how often they’d like to engage. I consider myself pretty open-minded sexually. There’s not a lot that I think Jake would suggest, that I wouldn’t try. However, if his suggestion was that we only have sex, missionary style, twice a month, I’d object. I’m young and healthy and have the sexual appetite and sense of adventure to match. I don’t want to be with someone who feels guilty at trying new things or lacks interest in that connection. I also don’t want to be with someone who can’t enjoy it without props and gimmicks. I just want to be with someone sexually normal and I’ve known for some time that I could never discover what that meant to either of us, while clothed.

In a lot of ways, the decision has come down to with which sin I could most comfortably live. My previous marriage was never acknowledged by the Catholic Church, but my next one most certainly will be. I won’t get off so easy if I find myself divorced again, because unless you receive an annulment, you are still married. Any relationship pursued, beyond this point, is adultery, so getting a divorce (and living as such) despite the Church’s teachings, is a mortal sin… and one I can never rectify. With Jake, I can once again be in communion with the Catholic Church on the day our marriage is blessed, typically one year after having a non-Catholic wedding. That may be a couple of years away, but if we waited until marriage to have sex, only to realize that some element of our sex lives would lead to divorce, I’d be out of the Church’s graces for good. I know there are a dozen other factors that could lead to divorce, but we’ve explored those as well. Jake knows my financial views and priorities and I know his. We’ve discussed parenting styles and religion. Why wouldn’t we explore a fundamental aspect of marriage, like sex, as thoroughly as we could?

I’m rationalizing. I know I am, just as I rationalize using birth control, because I’m already breaking one cardinal rule and can’t imagine being pregnant and feeling so alone again. According to the Church, my priest, my fellow practicing Catholics, my reasons don’t matter. I don’t know better than God and I am truly remorseful for the weakness and pride behind my decision. I am not criticizing the Church. I love the Catholic Church and I understand and agree with their rules, even this one. God does not negotiate. I just can’t bring myself to risk the pain I felt, sitting in that judge’s office. It far outweighed the pain I feel sitting in the pew, as everyone else partakes in Communion… and I’m sorry for that, as well.

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The Romantic Weekend that had Nothing to Do with Valentine’s Day

Jake and I both find Valentine’s Day to be kind of lame. I’m pretty sure Jake has never celebrated it. In fact, the only way I have, in the last several years, is by going to dinner with Gail to reminisce over the infant daughter she lost on February 13, 2010, just weeks before I would’ve had the baby I miscarried. It’s not just a greeting card holiday for me. It’s actually a pretty sensitive time of year, one when I’m quite prone to tears. As timing would have it, though, it was on February 12 that I received my third and final Gardasil shot. After eight months, Jake and I would finally be able to have sex without voiding the $600 I spent to vaccinate myself against his sluttier days. So, more in spite of the faux holiday than because of it, I scheduled five days off, from the 12th through the 16th… and Jake decided to plan a ski trip.

Y’all, recently I’ve admitted that my relationship with Jake is pretty old school. He pays and opens doors. I make him peanut brittle and chat with his mom in the kitchen, while he goes quail hunting on the family ranch. It would never work for Gail, Laura, or Catherine and to each their own. I just love that Jake’s… the boy. I don’t care if that makes me June Cleaver, Samantha Stephens, or Charlotte York. I’m not living my life to make a statement for the modern woman and I’m not real fond of the modern man.

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Specifically, I loathe the tendency modern men have to refuse to make any plans. Every woman knows the conversation.

“What do you wanna do?”
“I don’t care. What do you wanna do?”
“Whatever you wanna do.”

I wanna watch as your testicles descend and you make a fucking decision. That’s what I wanna do.

tumblr_nzgsuslugj1qlvwnco1_500 How was I single for so long?!?!

I come up with plenty of fun ideas. I just don’t want to be the only one doing so. The catch of course, is that when you insist the man make the plan, you have to go with it… entirely. You can’t veto this aspect or that aspect, so my only caveat was that Jake check to make sure our hotel was not on the bed bug registry. With my having no more real information that that, on Friday morning, after I got my shot, we were off!

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The moment we left, Jake declared that we wouldn’t be stopping at all for several hours… and promptly relented every time I had to go to the bathroom. The drive was relaxed as we debated politics, talked about work, gossiped about our friends. Any silences we had were easy and comfortable, despite the fact that Jake doesn’t really listen to music when he drives. Jake humored me as I took photos of everything and told me tales of his previous ski trips, encouraging me not to get too frustrated if I didn’t pick it up quickly. He thought he was being encouraging, anyway. In actuality, he was just insisting over and over again that I’d likely suck at skiing and therefore hate it, continually citing his friend’s wife who got so frustrated that she insisted on walking down the mountain alone. I assured him I’d try and that I was looking forward to it, but was worried that the sport, in general, would cause me back pain.

It was evening when we arrived in Ruidoso, luckily still light out, so we could see the snow on the mountains and find a place to eat. We’d each had a pretty rough week at work, mine having actually involved a hysterical phone call to Jake the night before…

Me: “Could you please pack the pink travel bottles I left at your place?”
Jake: “Yeah. Sure. Are you crying?”
Me: “NO. I just have something in both my eyes!”
Jake: “So, that’s a yes.”

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I told you it’s a weepy time of year for me.

Jake works in the oilfield and he’d just embarked on a trip that cost right around a thousand dollars. He had his own job worries after driving all day and coming off the night shift. By the time we’d eaten and gotten back to the hotel room, we were both exhausted and fell asleep around 8:30, like the party animals we are.

I woke numerous times in the night, unable to sleep because my left shoulder and the left side of my neck were painfully tight and my arm was throbbing from where I’d gotten my shot. As I’m writing this, I’m realizing how many times I got hurt over the weekend and it’s just… not surprising at all.

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The next morning, it finally happened. Yes, yes. I doubled the number of men with whom I’ve had sex… more than that if you want to get into discussion as to what counts as a man… and sex. Not to go into unpleasant amounts of detail, I’ll just say that Jake and I definitely click, sexually. Gail was right and we just continued doing the same things we’ve been doing, only without stopping this time. I barely even worried about what to do with my arms. It was just the perfect amount of comfortably awkward, messy, and emotional. I wouldn’t change a thing.

We spent Saturday procuring skis, ski pants for me (only $45!), and browsing the stores on main street. Jake bought me a souvenir t-shirt and it was the best Valentine’s Day gift I’ll ever get, because that wasn’t his intention at all. He just likes to do sweet things for me. There was only one small theater in town and it looked like it would have folding chairs in the auditoriums, but we decided to see Deadpool anyway.Though we loved it, we agreed we’d never let our children watch it as we made our way back to the hotel room. Jake suggested we get a cab that evening, so we could drink freely and have a ride back to the hotel. Naturally, from that point forward, everything went wrong. 

The cab driver drove us the three miles or so into town, dropping us off at a restaurant we’d both wanted to try. We decided to see some more of the shops while they were still open, making the approximately one mile trip down main street, despite the new boots I was wearing. We headed back, as it started to get cold, and Jake gave me his jacket to wear over mine, since I was in a dress. When we finally made it to our first choice restaurant, we realized they were only filling reservations. In good spirits, we headed to our second choice… which had permanently closed without removing the sign. We made our way to our third choice as my legs began to freeze and my feet thankfully started to go numb.

Finally, we made it to an open restaurant… where the food was meh, the service was terrible, and the company was wonderful. We drank and laughed and I told Jake how my Gramma had hinted that he’d be proposing.

Me: “I assured her that would be terrible, since I’ve told you verbatim that sooner than a year is too soon.”

When he came back from the bathroom, Jake teased that he’d had to catch the waiter and make sure he didn’t put the ring in my dessert. At around 8:30, he went to call the cab driver… who would not answer. At 9:00, after hearing from more than one waitress that the cab company was made up of “assholes,” our only option had become pretty clear. We would be walking back to the hotel, more than three miles away, after having walked two miles already… in the cold, with me wearing new boots and a dress, and completely drunk. Fortunately, Jake was relatively sober, because he quite literally had to drag me that entire three miles.

I’d like some credit for the fact that, for the most part, I didn’t complain. I drunkenly rambled some pretty offensive musings. I laughed about how much walking three miles in brand new heeled boots sucked. I made several dramatic declarations of my pain.

Me: “Okay. So, if I lay on the ground right now, you’re just gonna say logical things about how I’m getting my dress dirty and you’ll insist I get up and start walking. We’ll argue for awhile and then I’ll finally get up. You’ll be annoyed and I’ll be cold and it will just be twenty minutes gone that could’ve gotten us twenty minutes further, won’t it?”
Jake: “Yes. That sounds pretty accurate.”
Me: “Could we do it anyway?”
Jake: “No.”

Me: “MY BOOTS ARE RUINED!”
Jake: “Your boots are not ruined.”
Me: “THEY ARE TOO, BECAUSE THEY’RE FILLED WITH MY BLOOD!”

Me: “JUST LEAVE ME HERE TO DIE!”
Jake: “Keep walking.”

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Towards the end, my feet were hurting so badly, I did start to cry. I was drunk. My shoulder still hurt from the night before and my arm was still sore from that stupid shot. It was 40 degrees. Regardless, Jake pulled me along beside him, refusing to let me rest or take off my shoes and walk barefoot. Not once did he get angry with me. Not once did I blame him for his brilliant cab idea. Finally, we got back to the room and I was able to take off my boots and survey the damage done to my feet. I’m telling you, I looked like a victim of ancient Asian foot binding. It was horrible and we were getting up to go skiing first thing in the morning. Thank God for small favors, though, because the walk in the cold had sobered me up enough that I didn’t have to worry too much about being hungover. It’d be terrible to ski with a headache.

After trying on skis Saturday afternoon, I’d very seriously explained to Jake that he had to stop teasing me for not knowing things he considered common ski knowledge. On this one topic, I didn’t want him to joke with me, because it was making me feel stupid. He apologized and agreed… as he did when we got to the resort and I told him he had to stop telling me how frustrated I was going to be in an hour, because it was ruining my fun.

Overall, skiing was great. Jake was an endlessly patient instructor, never insisting I do something when I told him I was scared or uncomfortable. I realized that the falling, that is so much a part of skiing, didn’t affect my back at all. Bending down to tighten and loosen my skis, however, was a different story, so Jake did this for me approximately 20 times throughout the day. He encouraged me and waited for me and never grew impatient, despite the fact that he can ski a black and I was barely doing the bunny slopes. It was great, but after a couple of hours, I needed a break for my blistered feet, so we ate lunch and I slept with my head on a picnic table while Jake skied some more difficult runs. After an hour or so, Jake came back, convinced I could do the easiest green, so we headed up the mountain.

The day was quite warm, but as the sun set, it was growing colder, particularly higher up the mountain. What I didn’t know was that this meant snow would turn to ice. What Jake didn’t know was that I was serious when I said the lift got off on too high of a slope. Not having much choice, I went for it… gained too much speed and threw my legs out to the side to intentionally fall… and smashed my head into the slope.

I’d hit my head so hard my cap and glasses flew off and my eyes felt like they were swelling. I buried my face in the snow and gripped the back of my skull as I heard Jake telling the guy manning the lift that he thought I’d hit my head. I started to cry and Jake rolled me over, insisting I look at him.

Most of the women I know cherish memories of receiving flowers and jewelry. For me, it’s the little things, like the time I was mostly asleep on Jake’s chest and I felt him pull my glasses off and kiss me on the top of the head. All things considered in the expense of the trip, the gravity of it being our first time, or the notion that it was a “romantic Valentine’s Day getaway,” the most profound moment of that weekend, was when I reflexively turned into Jake’s chest after I hit my head on the ice and he wrapped his arms around me. I don’t even remember what he said to steer me to the side of the slope, but I remember how good it felt as he held me in the snow and I cupped my head and cried from pain and fear, while trying to decide how badly hurt I was. For about 10 minutes, we sat there, until I determined I was okay to ski down. He never rushed me or told me to shake it off. We didn’t speak at all, except when Jake assured a woman that I was okay. I am pretty sure I fell in love with him all over again, on the side of that mountain.

Had I not hit my head, I think the run would’ve been alright. As it was, my eyes were pulsing and I just wanted to lay down in the cold snow to soothe the pain, but I had to get down the mountain. Jake skied directly by my side, the entire time, including when we came to a slope that was both steep and slanted toward a drop off full of trees.

Jake: “I’ll ski to your left and if you start getting too close, I won’t let you fall.”

Now, uninjured, I am pretty sure I would not have been able to complete this run, straight through. Injured, though, I made it less than halfway down this particular path before shouting that I didn’t want to do it anymore, throwing my legs out to the side, and knocking both Jake and myself down. Uninjured, I might have shakily declared I would just walk until it got a little easier. Injured and scared, I panicked and started crying uncontrollably and gripping my head. All the while, I kept flashing to Jake’s story of his friend’s wife, fearing he’d see my freakout in the same light a year from now. I apologized over and over, crying, as Jake told me that it was okay, we didn’t have to hurry, and that I could just sit down for a minute and decide what I wanted to do. Ultimately, I did decide to walk until things got easier, as Jake skied at the same pace I plodded. When I could, I put the skis back on and gave it another shot. Jake was ready to head back to the truck when we got down the mountain. I insisted he go ski a blue or something before we left.

Jake: “I don’t want to leave you hurt.”
Me: “I’ll be fine. Have fun and I’ll hang out at the picnic tables.”
Jake: “Are you sure?”
Me: “Yes. It’s fine. Go.”
Jake: “Well, if you’re sure…”

It’s beyond me why any woman would play this game if she didn’t actually want the guy to go ski. I meant it. I wasn’t angry. I wanted Jake to enjoy a last run before we left, particularly since it didn’t seem likely we’d be back the next day. I thought about asking the first aid center if they’d lend me a cot for a bit, but then I realized what an asshat Jake would look like in that scenario and spent the next 45 minutes perusing the ski shop. We headed down the mountain and Jake made no attempt to make me feel bad for not wanting to ski the next day. I made no attempt to blame him for insisting I could do the run on which I got hurt. We went back to the hotel, showered, changed and made jokes about calling a cab for a ride into town for dinner.

We spent the next day lounging in the hotel room. We watched movies and went in search of an affordable wooden bear souvenir, made with a chainsaw, an apparent staple of Ruidoso. It was the perfect souvenir, as Jake spent the entire trip quoting his best friend Aaron in a silly voice “Ruidoso, home of the wooden bears.” We talked and laughed and I tried not to complain too badly about my still very sore shoulder, feet, and head.

Me: “How old were you when you had your first beer?”
Jake: “Fifteen.”
Me: “What brand was it?”
Jake: ::confused:: “Budweiser.”
Me: “Where were you?”
Jake: ::still confused:: “Camping.”
Me: ::laughing::
Jake: “What?”
Me: “You remember drinking your first beer better than you remember losing your virginity.”
Jake: ::laughing:: “That was a mean trick!”

The next morning, we had our last continental breakfast of sausage and fresh made waffles. We headed out early, since we’d lose an hour on the way back. I knew everyone else would be sad to see the vacation end, but I was just devastated that I’d have to go from spending every day with Jake, back to our usual schedule of once every two weeks. We’d connected so much over the weekend, not just physically, that I couldn’t imagine not waking up to him every day. I’m glad we’re taking our time. This is how you figure out if you want to be with someone forever. I still can’t help but wish we could fast forward to the point when we’re ready for that, though.

Sex. It’s just a blog post about sex.

Jake and I have been dating for exactly eight months. Despite this fact and our many sleepovers, we have not had sex. It’s not that I’m a prude… okay it’s not just that I’m a prude. It’s precautionary. Jake probably has a pretty average sexual history for a 31-year old guy. I’ve insisted he never tell me his number, explaining in a somewhat stereotypically irrational woman way that if his number is three, every time he introduces me to someone, I’m going to wonder “Is she one of The Three?!?!” If his number is 33, then I can only assume that he’s had sex with all of them. It’s not a source of contention in our relationship, though. Quite the contrary, we regularly joke about it.

Me: “Does it bother you, when I tell you what I like?”
Jake: “No. Not at all. I’m glad you let me know… unlike all the other women I’ve been with.”
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Me: “ALL the other women you’ve been with!”
Me: jackie-stoned-laugh
Me: “There’s a conveyer belt next to your bed!”
Me: cracking-myself-up
Me: “It’s like a WHO CONCERT in your room!”
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As you can see, I’m not particularly bothered by the number of women Jake has seen naked. I just don’t want the details. I also don’t want anything else, which is why I started the Gardasil vaccine course six months ago from this Friday. If you’re unfamiliar with Gardasil, the basic gist is that after three shots, given over a minimum six month period, both men and women are protected against HPV, which is the cause of cervical cancer and cannot be reliably tested for or treated. Gardasil is generally given at ages 11-13, before people become sexually active. In fact, the FDA has decided that the average American has had so much sex by their 26th birthday, that they’re no longer worth even attempting to protect.

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With the vaccine being so new, I never got it, assuming that was Future Belle’s Problem. Then I met Jake. Luckily, I was able to find a physician who would approve Gardasil for off label use, so that eventually, Jake and I could have sex. Honestly, it was sort of a relief, at the time. I mean, as inexperienced as I am, the idea of sex with Jake was a bit daunting. That could just be Future Belle’s Problem, too.

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Y’all. I don’t remember how to sex!

It’s not that I’m not looking forward to sex with Jake. If anything, the last eight months have left me certain that we’re not only sexually compatible, but also truly in love and I’m glad for that. It’s just… I’m 28 years old and I’ve only had sex with one person… five years ago. Five years ago, I was morbidly obese and so was he. There are only so many positions that are even possible for elephants. For realz, y’all, we were very large people. Most of the time, my ex-husband didn’t even want to have sex, because as Gail puts it “sex is like a super fun workout massage.” I got turned down nine times out of ten, which killed my self-confidence. When we did do anything, it was always the exact same: one of three positions, under five minutes, and I was not… prioritized. So what’s not to look forward to, amiright?!?! Sure… except for the fact that I barely remember where the penis goes. I read a lot of romance novels and when I think about the logistics of certain sexual positions, I literally cannot figure out what’s happening. Where does the girl’s leg go and how can that be comfortable? Wouldn’t that hurt your back after a few minutes? How do you get any leverage doing that? Wouldn’t the table tip? What do I do with my arms?!?!

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Why didn’t I have more sex and refine my skillz while I could?!? My friends either tell me I’m overthinking it and it will come naturally (which is entirely useless advice, because I want diagrams, complete with angle measurements, damn it), or they join me in my own self-mockery.

Laura: “You only lose your virginity once.”
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Me: “What if I’m bad at it?”
Jake: ::rolling his eyes:: “You’re not going to be bad at it.”

Well… no help there, either. I watched some porn for tips a few months ago. I’m pretty sure it was the worst idea I’ve ever had, because I know I don’t look like that. Naturally, I’m convinced that every woman Jake’s ever been with was a size 2 and wore Victoria’s Secret wings. I even tried to buy sexy underwear.

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It did not go well. In fact, after I bought a couple of pretty (but sensible) bras and panties, I checked my credit card statement, panicked, and returned everything, because I’m paying out of pocket for birth control and the Gardasil shot this month.

Responsibility: 5
Sex Appeal: -5

So, here I am… with the same old undies and no idea what I’m doing. I suppose my awkward delivery of the wrong words has brought the boys to the yard so far…

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… perhaps Laura is right and I could self-medicate, though perhaps Xanax is a little extreme.

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Really, though, the man’s seen me sobbing because a zombie ate a goat in The Walking Dead. He’s wiped my tears when I’ve gotten drunk and weepy. He’s heard me attempt and fail at dirty talk. Could I really embarrass myself that badly?

It’s just… if you’ve never been on a roller coaster, it doesn’t matter if your first, or even your second, only has the one loopty loop. It’s gonna be a good time. But if you’re a… roller coaster aficionado, it’s possible you’d be disappointed or even bored by just the one loopty loop, especially if you waited eight months to get in the park. I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY ARMS, LET ALONE HOW TO LOOPTY LOOP!

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Toothbrushes, Insecurities, and Meeting the Family

Me: “So, I bought you a toothbrush on clearance, since you didn’t have one the last time you stayed over… unless that freaks you out, in which case I already had it, cuz of all the men I sleep with.”

Me: “So, can I call you my boyfriend now or is that question crossing some kind of boundary?”

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:: 6:00 am and completely incapable of early morning thought processes ::
Jake: “Is this your baby blanket?”
Me: “No. It’s… something very mature.”
Jake: “Is it like your teddy bear?”
Me: “No. It’s nothing.”
Jake: “It’s obviously not nothing, since you brought it with you.”
Me: “I didn’t. You already had it here. Don’t worry about it.”
Jake: “What is it?”
Me: ::speaking into pillow:: “It’s the remnant of a baby blanket. The rest was lost in the fire.”
Jake: “Why are you so embarrassed? That’s not weird.”
Me: ::incredulous:: “It’s not weird that I hold it when I suck my thumb?”
Jake: “Okay. The thumb sucking is a little weird, but it doesn’t bug me. It’s not like I don’t have quirks.”

Me, playing it cool.

Things have been going really well with Jake. He’s mostly been commuting to me from Wellston, which is about an hour away, in part because there’s more to do in my area, but also cuz he’s just super. I’m so dedicated to keeping this blog anonymous, while also allowing for proper spatial visualization, that I created a map for you. Y’all, I am no cartographer and this was a bitch to do in Microsoft Paint.

Anonymous State SmallerWho relocates if and when that becomes an issue? That sounds like a problem for… FUTURE BELLE!

Two weeks ago, Jake came to Shetland with no firm plans. We were just going to spend the day together and I was going to make him dinner. I bought all the fixins for meatloaf, one of the few main courses I can cook that wouldn’t be pure experimentation. I live alone, folks. I consider it cooking when I throw things in EasyMac. I’m sort of kidding. My bachelor’s degree was in Home Ec. I know how to cook… in theory. Jake and I started the day with lunch out, though. We had sushi and, as per usual, redheaded Jake paid.

Me: “Ew. I hate the ginger… the pickled ginger, not you.”
Jake: “I was gonna say, I hope you brought your wallet, then.”

I love that our dry humor meshes so well.

When we got back to my apartment, we watched Logan’s Run and I had my first genuine faux pas of the day. You knew it was coming.

Me: “Is she naked?!?
Jake: “Isn’t this one of your favorite movies? Haven’t you seen it like a hundred times? How did you not notice that?”

No really. HOW? Those people were wearing see-though clothing through most of that movie.

After Logan’s Run, Jake put on Flight of the Navigator… which we ignored.

Finally, I made dinner, which turned out great and we decided to go to the drive-in… which we ignored.

I don’t remember kissing being so much fun. I think my ex-husband must have been really bad at it. Eventually, though, I fell asleep lying on Jake’s chest while he watched the ending to Mission Impossible. When I crawled over the seat for the ride home, I promptly fell asleep again, waking briefly to hear Jake order something at McDonald’s and ask his phone for directions back to my apartment instead of waking me up. Awwww.

Jake: “You were asleep in your little dress over there and I’m pretty sure the people at McDonald’s thought I’d drugged you.”
Me: ::droswily:: “Wouldn’t be the first time.”

Sigh. Again, with the semi-conscious date rape jokes. It’s a good thing he thinks I’m funny.

When we got back to my apartment, Jake carried all of the blankets and pillows upstairs and I asked if he wanted to just stay over, since Wellston is an hour’s drive and it was 2:00 in the morning. He’d made the same offer the first time I’d driven to him a week before, when we had our Gardasil talk, but I declined for canine reasons. He accepted and I learned that Jake’s a cuddler, which I surprisingly love. I’ve always wanted my space in the past, but curling up with Jake felt very comfortable and natural. I also learned that he’ll be a morning sex guy when we get to that point. It’s not a bad way to wake up and I did what I could to give as good as I got without making the vaccine wait obselete. Then he left… and the crazy kicked in.

This is why I didn’t write last week. Jake has a crappy phone, hasn’t been in a serious relationship in five years, and is a boy, so he doesn’t overthink things. However, I was getting shockingly little response, less than I ever had. If I didn’t text first, he might ask how my day was, but even then, I’d mostly get one word answers in return. By Thursday, when I texted to see if he still wanted to come over Friday, which he planned, I was convinced he was coming to Shetland to tell me he was over it. That’s how rarely I was hearing from him. I even called him to ask if everything was okay and make sure he still wanted to come. In typical boy fashion, he had no idea anything was wrong and assured me he’d be over the next day. I vowed not to bring it up, unless he did first.

:: two girly beers into Blazing Saddles ::
Me: “So, you should text me a little more this week. I kind of thought you were coming here to tell me you didn’t want to see me anymore. That’s actually why I called last night. I figured if that was the case, you didn’t need to make the drive. I’m not trying to be crazy or clingy, but you kind of just left and barely talked to me all week. It doesn’t have to be constant, but I wouldn’t mind hearing from you a little more. I even thought maybe I did something wrong when we were fooling around.”
Jake: “What? Why? Because of something I said?”
Me: “No. I just… I dunno. Maybe I give really bad over-the-pants handjobs or something and you didn’t want to see me again, because of it. I don’t know how this crap works.”
Jake: ::laughing:: 

Zetus lapetus. Someone shut me up.

So, after that fucking eloquent speech, we sort of dropped the subject, finished the movie, watched Back to the Future, and went to dinner. Being Friday night, Chili’s was packed, so we had a drink in the bar while we waited for our table. I am a total lightweight, y’all. After two margaritas, I could barely get into Jake’s truck for the ride home and kept giggling uncontrollably and calling him keen. When we got back to my apartment, I put on Back to the Future II… which we ignored.

Things ended up a lot more R rated this time, so I’m gonna spare you that GIF. I asked Jake to stay the night again, told him about his toothbrush, and asked if he was my boyfriend.

in a relationshipThe answer was yes, which has renewed my ability to hide any and all insecurities.

I made him breakfast the next morning and he told me he had a bachelor party float trip planned for this weekend, so we wouldn’t be able to see each other for a while. We were both disappointed, so I offered to make the trip to Wellston on Sunday, after church, allowing him to get his work done that day. That, my dear readers, is how I ended up driving to Wellston, beagle in tow, and meeting Jake’s family… or at least his sister, the only family that lives locally. Still, it was a pretty big deal and Jake initiated it, so he must like me.

Me: “They live on a farm. I look ridiculous. I’m wearing a fucking prom dress.”
Jake: “It’s not a prom dress. It’s like… an Easter dress.”
Me: “Oh, thank you. That doesn’t make me look like an asshole.”
Jake: “You did come from church.”
Me: “Who are you kidding? I would have been wearing this anyway. Dude, I don’t own pants.”

Fortunately, the beagle was chilling out on Jake’s couch (where he was not supposed to be, the little rebel) while we were at dinner. After chatting for a bit, Jake declared that we should go get Jude, so he could play with his sister’s dogs. Planning for a possible overnight stay, I’d brought a change of clothes and jumped at the opportunity to take off the dress and don some leggings and a t-shirt.

Me: “Ugh. I didn’t think this through. Now your sister knows I brought a change of clothes. She’s going to think I’m a total whore.”
Jake: ::fucking laughed at me::

11904636_10206094086128643_8903735317505909189_n

By the grace of God, I did not embarrass myself in front of Jake’s sister, brother-in-law, or nieces. Jude didn’t make the best first impression, when he got a single sticker, lay down in the field for 10 minutes, and waited for his mommy to rescue him, but I felt like I came off just fine, and Jake’s sister gave me some free cucumbers. It was still pretty early when we got back to Jake’s duplex, so we watched a couple of horror movies, which we both enjoy, but find no pleasure in watching alone.

Me: “Do you mind if I stay the night? I have horrible night vision and I’d rather drive back when the sun is rising.”
Jake: “You can stay, if you let me sleep. I have to be up by 6:00.”
Me: ::deepened voice, imitating Jake:: “You can stay, if you can quell your insatiable craving for my dick.”
Jake: ::laughing:: “That is not what I said.”
Me: “Dude, it was verbatim.

After watching both Clown and Annabelle, we went to bed and not only did I keep my hands to myself, but I also kept to myself how much I cannot sleep without white noise. Jake had to work in the morning. All I had to do was drive to Shetland and pass out, so I lay awake in bed, only falling asleep when the air conditioner kicked on and ultimately waking up to Jake cuddling up to me with clear intentions. That boy makes for the best good mornings, but I’m buying him a fucking fan.

After we got out of bed and Jake quizzed me about the “something very mature” baby blanket I brought with me, he took Jude outside while I dressed. He carried my bag to my car and I drove home. Later, I met Gaily for grocery shopping and gossip.

Gail: “So, have you said it, yet?”
Me: “What? You mean out loud?!? He might hear me!”

Um… yeah. I totally care who knows it.

In actuality, I don’t think I’m quite to the “I love you” point yet. It’s still early and I’d like to make sure this isn’t just infatuation. I’d also like to wait a bit longer to see if Jake is going to come to the realization that I’m both awkward and loud and get out while he still can. He’s mentioned the future quite a few times, though. For instance, he joked about dressing as an astronaut for my high school reunion in May, forbade me to participate in No Shave November, and has mentioned the point when my vaccine is up a few times. He doesn’t seem afraid to imply that we’ll be together in six months. He’s talked about his mother asking where exactly Shetland is, in relation to Wellston. His family and friends know about me and now his sister, brother-in-law, and nieces have met me. He’s even made a clear effort to text me more this week, despite his busy schedule with work and his weekend trip. Best of all, he’s agreed to go to Disney on Ice for my birthday, assuming he can get off work!

I still think he’s pretty danged keen and I’m hopeful that the feeling is mutual.

Fifty Inappropriate Comments on Fifty Shades of Grey… Give or Take

My father and I, we have… weird boundaries. I mean, one of my most popular posts was titled Looking at T*ts with My Dad. It’s not that we don’t also have a traditional, supportive daddy/daughter relationship. It’s just that he’s the man who gave me my flare for inappropriate humor and general conversational finesse.

Grandmotherly coworker: “My lips are so dry, they’re sticking together.”
Me: “That’s what she said!”

So, naturally, this led to the worst conversation anyone has ever had.

Me: “I have to go to Hobby Lobby after this to get supplies for my party this weekend. I’m having a Fifty Shades of Grey Goose party. We’re going to drink every time it’s stupid.”
Dad: “Lena and I actually went and saw that the other night.”
Me: “No. Stop talking.”
Dad: “Well, just to see what the big deal was, you know.”
Me: “Well, yeah. That’s why we’re going to watch it: to mercilessly mock it.”
Dad: “Well, you know, honestly, that movie wasn’t half bad.”
Me: “I can’t… unhear this.”

Dad: “All’s I’m saying is, when you watch it, go into it with an open mind.”
Me: “What?!? NO. I’ve read the books. I know the story and it’s awful. I am not watching Fifty Shades of Grey with an open mind… especially not at my dad’s insistence.”
Dad: “Well, Lena’s read the books and she said they were bad, but everyone’s talking about how those books are [air quotes], abusive and [I shit you not, more air quotes] offensive to women, but when he takes her to his playroom, he tells her ‘I’m fifty shades of fucked up.’…”
Me: “I’m pretty sure my ears are bleeding. This is, literally, the worst thing that has ever happened to me, listening to you quote Christian Grey.”

Dad: “… but she signs his contract anyway. The whole thing is between consensual adults. How is that abusive?”
Me: “Dad, the reason people call it abusive isn’t because of the BDSM – which is a term I should never use with my dad, by the way – but because of the way he treats her. At least in the books, he has to know her every move and he’s extremely…”
Dad: “Controlling?”
Me: “Yes.”
Dad: “Yeah, but she allows it.”
Me: “Dad, you seriously just defended all abuse!” 
Dad: “Well… huh… yeah. I guess you’re right.”

Me: “Thanks for lunch, daddy. Next time, I’ll tell you all about my favorite erotica.”

My daddy/daughter relationship is not the only unconventional one in my life.

Gramma: “What’s a flogger?”
Me: “It’s a handle with beaded strings and people hit each other with them, in bed, because it’s sexy to hurt. I bought some cord, pink glitter beads, and decorative tape. Then I hot glued them to wooden dalrods for party favors.”
Gramma: “But what are you guys gonna do with ’em?”
Me: “I don’t know… get drunk and hit each other with them, probably.”
Gramma: “That seems like a lot of effort.”
Me: “Yeah. They’re a lot more involved than I thought they would be. I actually have to get back to making my sex toys, now. I love you Gramma.”
Gramma: “Okay, hon, I love you. Have fun.” 

As for the party, we were all pretty drunk, but I did have the presence of mind to record some of the better comments, between people who were more or less strangers before that night. It’s amazing what Jello shots will do for one’s inhibitions when it comes to homemade Pin the Penis on Christian Grey.

Pin the P
Catherine won Charlie Tango… a four dollar helicopter I spray painted.

Gail: “That’s really classy, Belle.”
Me: “Hey. I am Grace Fucking Kelly.”

::Opening Credits::

Catherine: “What the fuck is up with her bangs?”
Me: :showing photo on phone:
cotc

Me: “Wait. Why does he ask if she’s a Girl Scout? She’s cutting rope. Does he just have really low expectations of The Girl Scouts?”

Catherine: “Yeah, cuz there’s totally a dial tone on a fucking cell phone.”

Reba: “Ew, no! That’s Elliot?”
Gail: “He looks like a 90’s drug dealer.”
Me: “He looks like an extra from The Craft.

::Sex toy Camera pan:: six people raise and shake homemade floggers “FLOGGERS!”
Me: “Shit. Is the window still open?”

Gail: “It’s not lovemaking, if there’s a contract.”

Me: “That… that’s literally a scene from Twilight! They’re even in a meadow!”
Gail: “Are they going to play baseball now?”

Reba: “Wait. Is this the scene where she’s just been running and now they’re gonna have sex?”
Me: “Yeah and she’s just been sitting around in her workout clothes making vaginal cheese.”
Reba: “Ewwwww! NO! BELLE!”
Gail: “It’s like FETA!” 

Gail: “Taking leggings off of yourself isn’t exactly the easiest and sexiest activity.”
Me: “‘It makes me so hot when you put wet clothes on me.'”

Carla: “I wonder if he had to learn to braid hair for this role.”
Me: “Maybe he already knew how, because he has a daughter.”

::Every single sex scene:: “MY DAD SAW THIS MOVIE!!!!!! I CAN’T!!! I JUST CAN’T!!!”
Gail: “What do you think they did after they got home from the movie?”
Me: “I don’t love you anymore, Gail!”

Gail: “I still think the most pressing question of the night is, where in the world was this movie shown in Russian for six minutes, the rest in English, with all the text in Spanish?”

The fun didn’t even stop after everyone went home.

carla chat

Remember the news stories about firemen preparing for an increase in calls from people attempting the dangerous things done in Fifty Shades? I confess. I tried one myself.

Facebook status: I tried to take off my shirt the way Christian Grey does. I got lost and confused. It was terrifying. People don’t undress that way.

For realz, y’all, I nearly removed my own scalp.

party

That’s a decorate-your-own-tie cookie. Obviously. Bee tea double ewe, tough to explain the leftover cookies at work.

Okay, Cupid, your aim sucks.

My eagerness to date seems to be directly related to the weather. The second temperatures drop below fifty, it’s all “Fuck love! My pink Christmas tree is plenty of romance for one! Should I cook the cookie dough or just eat it raw? What would it taste like if I covered it in chocolate and peanut butter?”
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bridget jones moping
I’m pretty sure it tasted like sex. I’m not certain, though. It’s been awhile.
.
Now that temperatures have risen above fifty, I’ve decided to spend my free six months of Match, you know… actually trying… with spunk. Gail calls this Panic Dating. I call it Counting. Counting is when I think “Well, I’d like to have my first child at 30. So, I guess I’d like to get married by 28. I suppose I’d like to be engaged for six months before I get married. It’d be best to date someone for about a year and half before getting engaged. So that means, I need to meet someone… two months ago.”
.
bridget jones working out.
I try to keep a handle on this, to avoid the moment where my dramatic rant turns from a joke to tears, which is a surprisingly sudden occurrence. I’m 26 years old. I won’t be 30 until September of 2017. That’s nearly four years away and four years ago, I was in the middle of my student teaching, had just gazed into the casket of a child I loved, and was married to a man who… well, let’s not get into that. My point is, the whole world can change in just four years, so I should calm the fuck down.
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Regardless of the little pep talks that sound suspiciously like Gail, I decided to try OKCupid once again. Everyone on the dating blogs seems to have good luck with it. It’s certainly set up better than Plenty of Fish, which my librarian brain cannot ignore, because organization is hawt. So why not?
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I’ll tell you why not. Y’all, the Fates do not want me using OKCupid. If you follow this blog religiously (pretty much only Gail), you’ll remember that the last time I was on this particular free site, I found my ex-husband’s profile. Freaked out by the idea that he might see my information, I promptly deleted my profile and declared myself a Paid Sites Only gal. The paid sites haven’t even been going poorly. I just haven’t really met anyone that seems worth meeting. I’ve also been busy sucking my thumb and reading romance novels under my favorite chair. There’s just no time for dating, peeps!
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bridget jones with comforter
I’m just really busy, right now!
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So… realizing that I haven’t been on a date since September, I decided to give it one more shot… and the Fates chimed in, once again. Here we have, the first conversation I had, upon returning to OKCupid.
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fates
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OKCupid, your aim sucks.
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Him: You wanna play? 888-888-8888
 I was nice enough to change that number.
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Me: So fucking creepy.
– Any time I start a story with “I barely even said anything…” Gaily starts laughing. Apparently, my definition of verbal innocence differs greatly from hers.
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Him: Why is that?
.
Me: 
 There is no actual way to send reaction gifs, a grand flaw in online dating.
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Him: Are you a virgin or somethin? I guess I could have been more detailed but I figured I shouldn’t say that much dirty stuff until after you text me
– For the sake of blog humor, I’m kind of wishing he’d been more detailed.
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Him: Tell me something though and don’t lie because I’ve tried several ways on her to get someone’s attention…would you have even responded if I said “hi I’m Andrew. What’s your name”? And was really nice? Truthful I wouldn’t have heard anything back from you and I already know it! Because every girl is the same on here and nice guys always finish last! Sorry if I offended you. But it really didn’t matter what I said to you because you already made up your mind way before we even talked. Hope you find that special jackass;)
– Alright, alright. I’m never mean to anyone online without reason, but he asked.
.
Me: I’m going to be honest, because you asked. I saw your profile before and didn’t write first, because there wasn’t a lot of information. If you’d sent me a normal message, yeah, I’d have responded. What little was there seemed okay. I’m not a virgin, but you’re a total stranger and I would never appreciate sexual implications from any stranger. You clearly have a negative attitude toward women and online dating, based on your reaction to my disturbance when you suggested whatever the hell you were suggesting. I would’ve responded if you’d been a nice guy, because they don’t finish last. You finish last, because you’re rude.
– Dude, you can hardly accuse me of being shallow toward the “nice guys”, when you opened with the words ‘down to fuck’. I also wasn’t lying. He had a kid, which was a turnoff, but I’d have still responded.
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Him: You’re wrong lady. So wrong. You have no idea
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Me: You opened with solicitation. There is no other logical conclusion for me to draw, based on the information you gave me, your declaration that all women are the same, and your best wishes for me to end up with a jackass, because YOU’RE a nice guy. I’m sorry you, so severely, lack self-awareness.
– Psh … and Gail claims my apologies aren’t always “real.”
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Him: Whatever. If you find a guy that doesn’t want to use you out there you let me know k;) at least I was nice and up front about it.
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Me: 
– If this is nice, what’s this guy like when he is being a jackass?
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Me: Giving your phone number out is going to be so much fun.
– There are stronger women out there than I. Those women would not have started creating a Craigslist ad for male group sex, with every intention of posting it. 
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Him: Hahaha so it’s like that huh?
Him: Please don’t do that. I said I was sorry anyway
Him: Can we just start over? Lol
….
Him: Hi I’m Andrew. What’s your name pretty lady?
Me: Ugh. Fine. I deleted the Craigslist ad. It could’ve been an adventure for you. It was for a group of men and included the words “your pic gets mine.” But, no. We can’t start over. You should be less sexual with people you haven’t met, especially if you don’t want whores. Good luck out there.
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Him: Aww okay
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Him: There’s nothing I can say to make you change your mind?
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In defense of E.L. James… from an unlikely source.

So, if you follow my blog, you know it’s no secret that I, like many bloggers, enjoy a good Fifty Shades roast… and by that I mean:

roast

/rōst/
Verb

Cook (food, esp. meat) by prolonged exposure to heat in an oven or over a fire.

burning books

If you follow my blog religiously, you are awesome. You are also aware that I was abused for a good portion of my life; so, I fully recognize the abusive relationship chronicled in this swill. I recognize that it triggers  survivors and it’s painful for them, because the “murcurial” moments of Christian Grey stressed me the fuck out and that whole belt scene was just damned hard to read for personal reasons. I seriously almost stopped reading the first book, despite my curiosity, because it was making me physically sick and giving me nightmares. So I get it.

I’ve also read reports of E.L. James’s response to the claims that this book romanticizes abuse, which pretty much amount to “Nuh huh!” before she blocks them. This and… oh, I don’t know… her writing… are proof that she’s an insensitve moronic twat. I am intensely enjoying this hilariously spot on, chapter by chapter analysis over the entire series. So… maybe I just made a really good case for the execution of E.L. James. All that being said, however:

All she did was write a book…
I’m certain I’m not the first to say that E.L. James did not create domestic violence. Sure, it’s super disturbing that she thinks it’s sexy, but apparently, so do a lot of women. I did read the trilogy, from the library’s e-media collection, because I didn’t want to touch the paperback. I didn’t purchase the book or any of its paraphenalia (I saw that display in the sex store), because I didn’t want to further support E.L. James in her degradation of women, but I was curious. I pretty much came to the conclusion that Fifty is just sexy to people who’ve never been abused or manipulated ever, because I didn’t get the appeal… at all.

Where’s the personal responsibility in the Fifty Shades of Domestic Violence discussion, though? I am absolutely not referring to the idea that women need to be more vigilant about not-getting-hit. I’m referring to the fact that we’re grown ass women. We schedule our yearly gynecological visits, report the broken faucet to maintenance, pay our bills, make sure there’s food in the kitchen and the oil gets changed, do something-with-children if we’re moms, and oh, I don’t know… hold full-time fucking jobs, but we’re not capable of putting poorly written erotica into perspective and realizing that it’s only good in a fantasy? It’s like when you fantasize about something that would make your grandma cry while you masturbate, but in actuality, you know you’d feel disgusting and degraded if you did that in real life. Fifty Shades of Grey is exactly that… unless you’re stupid and irresponsible.

How is it the fault of a woman who couldn’t come up with another word for “crap” with a gun to her head that our teenagers are secretly reading what has always been dubbed “erotica” cough:: porn:: cough on their Kindles? How is it the fault of a shitty fan-fic writer if we fail to further research the whole dom/sub thing before giving it a go with that guy off Craigslist? If the concern is that this is “normalizing” domestic abuse, then we need to be talking more about what constitutes abuse in society, so people can differentiate fantasy from reality and realize that this book is not a fucking how-to guide. It’s been advertised as one, but again, we’re at fault if we don’t understand how advertising works.  We need to monitor our children’s media better and sit down with them and ask what they’re getting out of Twilight and explain what’s wrong about it. However, we also need to let adults take responsibility for what they’re reading and the ideas they’re getting from it, because they’re fucking adults.

“So help me God, Anastasia, if you don’t eat, I will take you across my knee here in this restaurant, and it will have nothing to do with my sexual gratification. Eat!”

I don’t even kind of fucking get what’s so hot about that, even in a fantasy, but in an actual restaurant, it’s a reason to blow that rape whistle. I think the majority of women who read Fifty do get that.

… that’s been written a hundred times…
This is my biggest defense of E.L James. Sure, it’s been a few years since we heard the whole dom/sub thing, but the Alpha Male shit is prevalent across most romance novels and every other media. It’s not new. From Darrin Stevens to Edward Cullen, this shit is hold fucking hat. Samantha Stevens literally gave up the power to provide for herself so Darrin could feel needed. That’s from an actual damned episode where she conjures herself a fur coat and he’s livid. Edward Cullen regularly told Bella what she was and was not allowed to do and she swooned. E.L. James adding some handcuffs to the mix, doesn’t create a new genre. Men have been abusing women to cheering crowds since caveman days. Does that make it right? Fuck no. It also doesn’t make E.L. James any worse than all of those other authors of books, spanning all genres, where men overpower women who secretly want it. Such as in:

Twilight – young adult
Club Dead – mystery: Bill fucking rapes Sookie in this book and it slips her gee dee mind.
A Hunger Like No Other – paranormal romance
Dark Lover – paranormal romance
Bared to You – erotica (to be fair, this one came after Fifty)

Those are just off the top of my head, but let’s see… how about every single book on this Good Reads list titled “Alpha Male“?

The fact that this book is BDSM related isn’t what makes it abusive. It’s the way he talks to her and treats her and threatens and belittles her. Sadly, though, E.L. James is still no trailblazer in this.

… and that no one was forced to read.
Fuck yeah, it gave me nightmares and made me want to vomit… because I chose to read it. I saw the movie The Collection with the guys not too long ago. It was absolutely disgusting, but I sat through the whole thing, because they were watching it and I wanted to know what totally anatomically implausible thing would happen next and couldn’t stop wondering what the popularity of this gore said about society. That right there is exactly why I read Fifty Shades of Grey. It was offensive and upsetting and I’ll admit, it was a trigger for me in a lot of ways. I could’ve put it down. I didn’t. That is not the fault of E.L. James. That’s the fault of the moron who started it in the first place, knowing what it was after Googling it and loudly asking a coworker “What does BDSM mean?” even though she’s twenty-fucking-five. I swear, I may as well be a virgin.

Ultimately…

Fifty Shades is one of my favorite things to hate, as you can tell, since I said so here, here, here, and here. This post, however, was brought on by reading some blogs trashing E.L. James. Don’t get me wrong. I read what she said about domestic violence and her book…

James says she “freaks out when she hears people say that her book encourages domestic violence. “Nothing freaks me out more than people who say this is about domestic abuse,” she says. “Bringing up my book in this context trivializes the issues, doing women who actually go through it a huge disservice. It also demonizes loads of women who enjoy this lifestyle, and ignores the many, many women who tell me they’ve found the books sexually empowering.”

… and I’ve read reports of her just refusing to discuss this issue with the people who’ve basically said “Um… I don’t feel trivialized by those people. I feel like you’re high-fiving me in the black eye.” I find her horribly inconsiderate. I’ve also been convinced for a while now that she sold her fucking soul to make these books popular, because they’re not even good porn. There is no plot, which is standard for erotica, but even the sex is redundant and awkward. As someone who’s been there, I can admit that yes, it’s upsetting when people call abuse sexy. However, E.L. James is not responsible for domestic abuse and has never actually compared the battered wives shelter to a brothel. Sure, it might be nice for her to come out and say “This book is not a how-to guide. It is meant for your enjoyment, not your replication,” but credit should be given where credit is due.

It’s not the porn industry’s fault that your marriage collapsed. It’s your ex-husband and his chafing dick that resulted from all of those downloads.

It’s not Alpha Male erotica that punched you in the kidneys. It’s a husband with anger problems who needs professional help.

Teenagers are not misinformed about sex because of an inaccurate erotic novel. They’re misinformed because their parents let them read it at 13.

It’s not the fault of a poorly written and irresponsibly advertised novel that someone ended up in the E.R. after misusing a spreader bar. It’s their fault for not taking advantage of the wealth of instantaneous information to research possibly unsafe bedroom activities.