The first time someone called me a derogatory name on an internet comment forum, tears stung my eyes like I just got sucker punched. “Drunken slut” was not something I ever expected to be referred to as simply for writing a well-intended, personal essay about my dating life. I was reminded of being blindsided at the mall in 8th grade by a girl in my class I barely knew. She rounded the corner of Sam Goody, and closed in on me with two of her sidekicks. “I’m gonna beat your ass, you whore!” she screamed in my face.
I had barely even kissed a boy. I wasn’t anywhere near ready to process, or even understand, her insult. I called my mom to pick me up and didn’t go back to the mall for two months. Keep reading »
When I decided to move to Nashville, celebrity sightings were pretty high on my list of “new city perks,” ranking somewhere between “high concentration of cute banjo players” and “existence of sweet tea.” Based on the blogs and gossip columns I read, it was impossible to go to the grocery store in Nashville without rubbing shoulders with Brad Paisley or exchanging muffin recipes with Taylor Swift. I loved how effortless it all seemed. How simultaneously casual and glamorous. I started pre-bragging about my anticipated celebrity encounters before I even left Portland.
“You’ll text me as soon as you see Carrie Underwood, right?” my friends would ask as they helped me pack up my kitchen supplies.
“Of course,” I would breezily reply, not mentioning that I had already looked up her preferred bakery and planned to go there every Monday afternoon to increase my chances of “accidentally” running into her and becoming her best friend. Keep reading »
When it comes to giving oral sex, or as one of my friends calls it, sucky sucky, women seem to fall into two camps: LOVE IT or HATE IT. When gossiping about sex, I feel this overwhelming pressure to declare that I go hog wild for head or loathe it so much that I’ve taken it off the sexual menu with the exception of special occasions, like birthdays. (I’ve never understood that, by the way. Why would you give the gift of something you supposedly hate?) On the subject of blowjobs, there is a subtle urging to take sides. “Too much work!” or “Yummy! Cock!” As I sit there, feeling terribly neutral about the act, I can’t help but suspect that women have been conditioned to have strong, polarized feelings about giving head — or at least to play up their feelings for effect. Keep reading »
So, I’m in love. This isn’t exactly unique — so many others would say the same. Love is an overused word, it’s commonplace, expected even. But to me, it couldn’t be a more novel, beautiful, fascinating thing. For most of my life, I was fiercely independent and ambivalent about relationships. My focus was on platonic friendships and tangible milestones, like my education.
So, it’s strange to think that now, I call someone “my teammate.” My boyfriend has become my refuge from the craziness of everyday life and encourages me every day to be the best I can be. He’s never too busy to make me laugh or to remind me to cut myself some slack. He tells me ridiculous stories of faraway places we’ve never been, wears the most adorable sweaters in the world, and confides in me candidly. He has taught me so much about myself and what I’m capable of.
The crazy thing is that he and I almost never happened. What we have now was one wayward text message and an ounce of pride away from never happening.In some alternate reality, there is another me, who didn’t give him a second chance. What is this other me doing? What kind of things has she missed out on? Keep reading »
“Don’t be afraid of the white canvas.”
I’m sitting in the Nashville community art center for my first art class in almost a decade. My art teacher is standing at the front of the room repeating this phrase over and over in her sweet, calm voice. She brought homemade cupcakes to class and brewed a pot of coffee. Maroon 5 is inexplicably blaring from a paint-spattered boombox in the corner. I’m surrounded by easels and a small group of mostly middle-aged women who have signed up to spend their next eight Monday evenings learning abstract painting. I’m nervous.
“Experiment,” my teacher urges us. “Don’t be afraid.”
I dip a fat brush in water and coat it with acrylic paint. Deep breath. I drag an exuberant wash of magenta across the smooth canvas. It immediately starts dripping. I’m surprised to find that I don’t care at all. The color is so joyful. I want more of it. I stipple the edges of the canvas with the same lively pink, then rinse my brush and switch to yellow. I use quick, diagonal strokes. It overlaps with the magenta and creates a fiery orange. This is awesome, I think. I want to do this every day! Keep reading »
“Why didn’t any of the guys you dated love you as much as I do?” my boyfriend asked.
The question hung in the air like foggy breath steaming up a cold windshield. It’s one of his favorite questions to ask. To him, it’s a mystery why other guys passed me over. It’s a riddle I love him for wanting to solve.
“I don’t get it,” he said.
“Me neither,” I shrugged.
These are the kinds of conversations you have four hours into a five-hour road trip, after you’ve listened to a Lorrie Moore short story on The New Yorker Fiction podcast and gossiped about people you know and stopped at an abandoned McDonald’s with one, lone carousel pony on display in the dining area. The pony looked out of place — like it was in search of its missing carousel. Keep reading »
I’ve completed my gossip cleanse and I must say, my mind feels like a once dirty carpet that’s just been steam-cleaned. On to the next quest on my journey to become a yoga teacher: practicing contentment. When I volunteered to take this on as my assignment for the month, the visual that popped into my head was me at the nail salon, flipping through the lasted issue of InStyle, while receiving a back rub. This was my image of contentment? You must have something better than that, I scolded myself.
But honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever experienced content once in my life. So I would hardly know what to imagine. Well, maybe I felt content on my week-long jaunt to Paris, while eating oysters and sipping champagne in a famous LaBelle Epoch eatery or on my first date with my boyfriend, in that moment when our conversation became so deep that the rest of the universe receded. But maybe what I was feeling in those moments was joy. The two are different. Joy is a feeling of great pleasure and happiness and contentment is a state of satisfaction. One is feeling and one is a state. When I’m getting a pedicure, I’ll be honest, I’m never in a state of satisfaction. I’m usually consumed with worry that the shade I’ve chosen looks too black on my toes or that my nail polish won’t dry fast enough for me to get to the next place I need to be on time. Keep reading »
When it comes to romantic relationships, I’ve been very, very lucky. My boyfriend and I met when we were young and have been together for almost 10 years. Besides one breakup/get back together cycle in college (I told him I needed to go “sow my wild oats” but just spent six months crying and writing free verse poetry in my dorm room instead), our relationship has included minimal drama. Have we been through our fair share of relationship tests? Of course, but we’ve always treated each other with love and respect.
My friendship history, on the other hand, has been chock full of drama. I’ve had more than my fair share of toxic friendships, conflicts, and friend breakups. In fact, sometimes I feel like my tumultuous experiences with friends have been an inverse reaction to my blissfully boring romantic life. Maybe it’s the universe evening things out (this girl has a sweet, steady boyfriend, let’s make sure she has to deal with some craaaaazy friends!), or maybe I just have a certain amount of fucked up relationship energy that needs to go somewhere, and since I’ve been happily paired up for so long, my friendships became the outlet. Keep reading »
Relationships and experiences are a big part of what defines who we are. For many, names become guideposts or signifiers of those relationships or experiences. For a long time, I couldn’t accept my dad and so the allure of casting of the McDonell name felt like it might relieve me of some burden. Of having him in my life, of dealing with the ways I am like him, of seeing him for the fully complex person that he was. I understand the desire to change one’s last name as a marker of starting over, especially when there’s something in your past you want to close the door on.
For a while, my plan was to drop the McDonell from my name, and just be Amelia Parry. It would stay that way when I got married and then, when I had kids, my husband and I could … well, we’d cross that bridge when we came to it. Ideally, we would hyphenate our kid’s name just as my parents had done with my name, until our child grew up and made their own decision about what to do.
But so much has not gone as planned. Keep reading »
If you are a bride, you pose for a lot of photos.
You pose for photos to announce your engagement. You pose for photos at your bachelorette party. You pose for photos at your shower. You pose for photos with your groom-to-be, and with your best friends, and with your family, and with your parents, and then more with your groom. You pose for a lot of photos by yourself, looking happy.
It’s a good time to be photographed, of course. Most of the time, you won’t be able to stop smiling. You’re about to legally bind yourself to the person you love and want to have sex with forever and ever. And someone’s going to give you a really dope food processor as a wedding gift. What’s not to smile about?
It’s also a time that you, as a bride, will become very, very self-conscious of your body. Because as a bride, everything about how you look is going to be on display. Keep reading »