It started when I was 11 years old. I was flipping through the very first Seventeen magazine my mom ever let me have (June 1996 — Liv Tyler was on the cover, if you must know) and I saw one of those “hot guy” features. You know those “hot guy” features: A collage of very different, but still traditionally attractive actors and musicians. Conventional wisdom says there has to be at least one that strikes your fancy if you are a girl with heterosexual inclinations. (Otherwise, you can spend more time on the Liv Tyler profile.)
Anyway, I remember flipping through it and not being particularly struck by Johnny Depp or Edward Furlong or Jakob Dylan. I mean, I got that they were cute. I understood that women wanted to date them. They just didn’t speak to tween me.
Then, I turned the page and spotted a young Brad Renfro. He had greasy, tawny hair parted down the middle and he had such a direct gaze, that I truly thought he was staring me down. I immediately felt my first ever rush of sexual desire and developed my first all-consuming celebrity crush. Keep reading »
You know those moments when your conscious mind separates from the body and you briefly become an observer of your own actions? You watch your lips move and hear yourself rambling on and on, lecturing your younger coworker about life. You’re horrified at how cynical you sound, but you can’t stop yourself. It is in that moment, watching yourself from the outside in, that you realize you have become a jaded thirtysomething. Do you know that moment? No? Allow me to elaborate.
I was talking to a 21-year-old coworker of mine. A sweet, hopeful, hardworking, lovely young gem of a person. He had overheard me discussing a friend’s failed marriage and seemed confused. I tried to explain to him that marriage was a wonderful thing, but it can also be, well, difficult. “I’m excited to get older and get married,” he said. “Life gets easier when you’re older.” My head spun on him like I was in “The Exorcist.” “WHAT?” I snorted, “Are you kidding me? Life just gets harder.”
His eyes widened. “No…” he argued, “it gets easier.”
“No, you’re wrong.” I pressed, and as I continued to explain the onerous nature of life, my tone becoming more insistent, I realized I wasn’t talking to my coworker anymore. I was talking to myself. Specifically, my idealistic 21-year-old self. Keep reading »
He seemed sweet at first. In fact, he had many sweet moments. But then there was the other stuff …
Abusive behavior isn’t as simple as we, as a society, want it to be. We often think that the kinds of signs that tell you a man could be abusive are very obvious. We imagine monsters, overtly misogynist thugs. We think of extreme physical violence as being the key – or the only – signifier. But often the violence doesn’t start until a relationship is already established – sometimes not until after a woman has moved in with her boyfriend, marries him, or becomes pregnant. In fact, the leading cause of death in pregnant women is domestic homicide, which is to say they are killed by their intimate partners. If we limit our understanding of abusive behavior to physical violence, we risk ignoring other red flags we should be heeding. Keep reading »
A few weeks before my wedding, I was in the dinnerware section of Macy’s with my friend Sam. I was talking about all the things that were wrong with my relationship, and she asked me, “Are you sure you want to do this?” My response: “At this point, I’ve put so much effort into this relationship that I have to make it work.”
Let’s reinterpret that: “I’m unhappy, and I know I should leave, but I’m so desperate to make all the sacrifices I’ve made worthwhile that I’m not going to.” Keep reading »
I started dating immediately after I told my now-ex that I wanted to get a divorce. This was because, as one of my friends very aptly put it, I wasn’t really “rebounding” so much as just “bounding” — rebounding assumes that you’re bouncing off of something, and I wanted a divorce because my marriage no longer qualified as a relationship. A relationship is the state in which two things or people are connected to each other; we were not that so much as one person making loud proclamations about what the other should be and the other, by the end, just going “NO” (and this is a generous description of a very unhealthy situation). I was definitely bounding out of and away from that, and gleefully. Keep reading »
I was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a genetic bone and muscular disorder. I had 26 surgeries by my 16th birthday, so hospital rooms and intimidating doctors’ offices quickly became the backdrop of my childhood, filling up metaphorical pages that other kids had reserved for dirt hill races and princess tea parties with their stuffed animals. Growing up, I was always a little different than my peers. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. It just boiled down to different life experiences that I was having. I spent a lot of time reading, but it was tough to relate to the characters’ adventures when my world often seemed confined to a small, square hospital room.
Then a little book called The Fault In Our Stars came along. Keep reading »
My best friend works at a handmade art market in Portland. She meets a lot of interesting people when she’s sitting at her booth selling necklaces — earth mamas who share recipes for homemade toothpaste, wood carvers who claim very matter-of-factly that they were born on a different planet, chakra healers and aura seers and everyone in between. A few weeks ago, she texted me about a young hippie writer who had stopped by the market as part of his nomadic journey across the country and offered to pay for his items with “trippy treats” instead of money (I die for details like this).
“He said something really cool while we were talking,” she wrote in her message. “He said that life is about choosing paths. We all must choose a path at any given time, and there is no right or wrong path, but there is always a path with more heart. When you choose the path with more heart, life becomes easier and happier.”
I stared at her text for a moment, letting the words sink in. I thought about all the paths I’ve taken, the way I’ve drastically altered the course of my life over the past few years, the way I’ve been itching to alter it again, and damn, let me tell you: hippie kid knows what’s up. Keep reading »
From the time I learned what fingering was at age 11, it sounded not that great to me, and that didn’t really change for about 15 years.
Even the idea of fingering (or “fingerbanging,” yikes) sounded bad. It almost didn’t occur to me that fingering would be something I would actually want. I’d even tried it myself but it was just left me bored and with a cramp in my hand. Certainly it did not stand up to the newly discovered pleasures of the shower head. But it was still something I expected to happen to me at some point, a natural progression like moonrise following sunset or whatever. Keep reading »
I’ve always prided myself on being a pretty fearless person. I was born with Freeman-Sheldon Syndrome, a genetic bone and muscular disorder, and spent much of my childhood in and out of doctors’ offices and hospitals. I’ve survived some 26 surgeries. I’ve worked through the dark days following my father’s suicide. Oh, and let’s not forget about the time I went on the Jaws ride at Universal Studios and managed not to have a heart attack, despite my unnatural fear of sharks. Totally fearless, right?
But still, even though I’m in my early 30s and have it together (mostly), I’ve never really been able to shake those love and relationship hangups that most people seem to leave in adolescence. In some ways, I’m still that awkward 16-year-old girl, trying to muddle through all those confusing questions. (Full disclosure: I don’t have any dating experience yet, but enjoy living vicariously through sappy romantic comedies…) I know that my disability will help me weed out a lot of dud dudes, but I also know that it will raise a few questions. Questions about the role my disability will play in my life and in my future relationships. Questions that, honestly, I’ve been too afraid to ask, even of myself. Maybe I’m too scared of the answers. Maybe, deep down, I already know the answers. So many possibilities are swirling in this little head of mine, so I suppose I might as well just ask them… Keep reading »
As the song so painfully and beautifully goes, motherless children have a hard time. I am lucky I was not one of those children. And I’m not one of those adults. My mom is in excellent health and we have a close relationship. I’m grateful for that. But as mother’s day approaches, I can’t help but feel that life hasn’t been entirely fair to me where maternity is concerned. That’s because, at 37, I haven’t been lucky enough to give birth. I’m what you might call a childless mother. Keep reading »