Pride. You’ve got it or you don’t.

Yesterday was the Pride festival for Asheville, North Carolina and it was held in beautiful Pack Square Park. We call it home, lots of people call it a vacation destination nestled in Western North Carolina.

We arrived early’ish in the day. It was gorgeous, partly sunny and warm enough to need a little shade but not shorts. The perfect early fall day in the south.

We wore our newly purchased, just for this event, matching t-shirts and held hands as we strolled. You can say we looked super gay but that was the theme. We were headed to Pride after all.

We walked past a few screaming protestors at the festival line. Each shouting ridiculous things about lesbians and something about children. While I know a lot about both I had better things to do than correct them.

I stared quietly, hoping that what I heard about how looks could kill was correct. It seems it wasn’t as none of the preaching, sign holding annonces dropped to the ground.

I passed  by wondering what compels someone to throw that much hate at such a peaceful, colorful group of people in the middle of a city.

Even though extra security was evident, it didn’t take long to forget those sign holding screaming lunatics were even We received so many kind words, thumbs up and sweet compliments on our matching ensemble. It was delightful to be noticed for our love (literally!) in a way much different than the usual stares and glares we get out and about in society sometimes.

There were white tented booths in the park, each with a mission to sell us something whether it be a hand craft, some rainbow colored something or an agenda of some sort.

I would say I wasn’t buying … but who am I kidding. I wanted to soak it all in. I was proud to be there and proud of the businesses who came out to show their support. It was amazing.

I stopped at nearly all 100 or so booths. I picked up beads, sampled wine, picked up more beads, scored some colorful sun glasses, signed up to win stuff, gave to charity, listened to people talk about their organization and bought some cool lesbian swag from local vendors.

We had a couple beers, met up with old friends and watched some people dance.

Watched some people try to dance that is.

We listened to a local drum circle and a group of guys singing their hearts out. We watched “Cher” give a spectacular performance, some Drag Royalty delicately balance crowns the size of Buicks on their heads and some scantily clad performers high kick their way to tips from the crowd.

There were cheers and applause from a park full of people.

So much talent and so much self esteem. Get it girl.

 

Everyone there in unity and rainbow colors in spite of controversial legislation, a nauseating political race, and so shortly after a mass shooting of people just like us … a massacre for simply being proud of who they were.

 

Thank you TD Bank!

 

 

There were speeches and heartfelt pleas to be kind to one another. There is certainly more than enough hate in the world without us attacking each other. There was talk about repealing the stupid bathroom bill – also known as HB2. If you don’t know about HB2 read up here. Basically it means that you are required by law to use the bathroom designated by your birth gender. This doesn’t really mean a change in my life but it could for many, many others and quite unfairly.

None of that kept the community from celebration. It was a great day.

A beautiful, sun shining, peaceful day.

It meant a great deal for us to be there, to represent, to be counted in a community so united yet sometimes just as divided.. The festival in Asheville was held in Pack Square Park right in front of City Hall. I am super blessed to have my life here, my wife and my kids and my friends.

Please, if you have the opportunity, show your love and support.

It matters. You matter. Be counted.

Be present. Be proud.

Have pride in yourself as a member or as an ally to the community.

 

 

Pride Swag. $10 well spent.

 

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Making my own sugar scrub and imagining my death scene

We went to the beach about 2 weeks ago and for the last few days my gorgeous tan has started to peel like glue on a preschoolers fingers.

As I reached for more lotion I wondered how hard it would be to make a scrub.

I’m a tall girl and not tiny. I’ve got curves in the right places (plus some, whatever). The point is you won’t see me buying enough fancy scrub for my whole body. They don’t sell tubs of the stuff big enough anyway.

I did a little search and *voila* a recipe with simple enough ingredients I could probably whip it up and scrub up these flaky legs.

It couldn’t hurt. I mean what’s the worst that could happen?

I grabbed the big container of coconut oil and a spoon. As soon as the spoon touched the smooth white surface it stopped. The stuff is solid. So I think to myself I will microwave it. Pop it in and look for the sugar.

By the time I realized the container was still in the microwave I had found a bowl, measured sugar, spilled some, wiped it up and wondered to myself where the coconut oil went. Ooops.

I get it out, it’s no longer solid but a clearing mess with white globby things of unmelted goop floating around. I scoop the goop chunks and start stirring it in the sugar.

It smells fainternet-meme-of-cat-at-spa-with-cucumbers-on-eyes-and-wearing-a-bath-robefabulous. I start feeling crafty and wonder if I could be famous for sugar scrubs one day. It could happen.

I don’t remember what the recipe called for but I thought it was about half and half so I kept eyeballing sugar and oil scoops until I thought it was just right. I put half into a cute little jar and the other half in an empty plastic container to take to the bathroom with me. One can never be too thrifty.

Plus we only had one tiny jar.

I was feeling extra fancy so I lit the beach scented candle and started the bath.

I perched on the toilet and grabbed a little scrub and started to rub it on my legs. It wasn’t quite liquid, not quite solid, but definitely messy. Some dropped on the floor to make little sugar splats and the rest coated my shins like a sour gummy candy.

I thought it best to probably get over the tub so not to make a mess. I tried to balance with no such luck. My one foot landed into the super scalding running water. In my genius I jump in with the second foot because balancing wasn’t working out.

* pro-tip: your oiled up hands will not hold you up on linoleum. 

I hurry to the front of the tub and turn the water to cold, at this point getting out of the tub seems more dangerous than boiling to death in it.

Remember those dropped sugar globs? Death waiting. I’m not going out there yet.

I get the water just right and settle in. I smoothed the scrub all over my legs and it feels so heavenly I think I should do as much of me as possible.

There is now coconut oil in my eyeball. How does this even happen?

The bathroom is really starting to get a tropical feel. I had closed the door but not turned on the fan so it was getting really steamy. Really stuffy.

Suffocating really.

My entire body is covered in oil and my pores can’t breathe. My lungs are filling with what Yankee Candles considers the beach. This is starting to seem less and less fancy. This might have been a bad idea.

I rinse off. Actually  considering how well water rinses oil I just moved water around but we’ll say I rinsed. I drained the tub and stepped carefully onto a towel in the floor.

Then it hits me.

That light headed, I don’t think I can make it to the bathroom door, dizzy feeling. The one your mother warned you about; the sitting in a hot tub for too long kinda feeling. The one where things get fuzzy and your legs feel weak.

I consider what my dead body will look like when my wife finds me. I’ll be collapsed in a bath towel – right there in the hallway. This will not due.

I wonder if she does find me dead if she will notice my ridiculously moisturized skin.

I have my doubts.

She will probably just wonder where all the sugar went.

Bravely I made it to the bedroom and collapsed into a heap on our bed. I let my body temperature cool while searched for more scrub recipes.

Next time? Adventures in coffee grounds and safflower oil.

I just might make it big one day.

I can’t wait.

Real marriage advice – life, love and not speaking to each other

It has taken me awhile but I think I have learned a little about relationships, marriages in particular. It can be such a beautiful thing, hand in hand with the intention of growing old together, raising your children and retiring to rocking chairs on the front porch. Then there are days where you can barely stand the sound your phone makes when they send you yet another text message, to which you will also be ignoring.

I have put together 7 age old ridiculous tips and some alternative real life advice from an actual married person.  Actual advice for us long term ball and chain type couples; the gay, the straight, the somewhere in between  … because we all at some point need to step back and just laugh at ourselves.

Never go to bed angry.  Seriously? Who is this helping if you stay up way past your working adult bedtime?

SHUT THE HELL UP AND GO TO BED. Your co-workers will thank me for this tip in the morning. You can hash out whose turn it is to clean the bathroom another time.

Always compliment your lover. I only agree with half of this. Do not throw around over used, thoughtless words you think she wants to hear.  She doesn’t. She will stop buying into your lip service pretty quick. That is no good for her self esteem. All you are doing is encouraging your partner to not believe anything you say. Ever.

Always be sincere. If she is looking hella hot in that dress, by all means tell her so.

**I use the pronoun “she” here but this applies to everyone. Keeping in mind this is  written by a woman who is married to a woman … I use the feminine for everything. This advice could easily be just as good for that gorgeous hunk of a man in your life.

Be reasonable in your expectations. I don’t even know what this means. What exactly is a reasonable expectation? This varies wildly. If you were raised outside of the jungle you know how to behave in society and with other people. Don’t stress about what you are expected to do as long as you aren’t being an asshole.

Real advice: No really. Just don’t be an asshole. The only expectation should be that you are kind to one another and expect that no day is ever the exact same as the one before. Roll with it together.

Trust each other. This is a hard one for me personally. Do I trust she won’t leave one day with our dogs in the passenger seat and a trail of dust behind her? Sure. Do I trust she won’t drink the last of the wine or eat all the fancy ice cream? No.

Real advice: Don’t cheat on her or eat all her ice cream. Done.

Figure out your finances before you tie the knot. Uhh, we have been married awhile and we still havn’t figured this out.

Real advice: You are on your own here. I have no advice. We make the money, we spend the money.

Be affectionate as much as possible. For the sake of everyone around you, please, we beg of you do not do this. It is rude and we will tell you to get a damn room.

Real advice: In the confines of your home or around a private corner in public places by all means grab a quick feel or smooch like teenagers. All is well and good until you are holding up the line at Target looking deeply into each others eyes.

Handle your disagreements in a healthy way. We all know that couple that breaks up and makes up all the freakin’ time. Stop it. Don’t break dishes, don’t drive off squealing tires, don’t call names and never, ever tell them you don’t love them. There is no glue to mend that kind of thing and spray paint and ribbons are not a fancy fix all. No matter what you read on Pinterest.

Real advice: Be honest, take time if you need it before you respond, use your best inside voice. We learned about not throwing tantrums and using inside voices in preschool yet sometimes we forget as grown adults.

The very best advice I have ever been given was to learn from successful couples who have amazing, healthy, happy marriages. Learn from those who know they are not perfect but they keep working on it anyway, those people are the successful ones.

Most of all be willing to laugh at yourself. It’s a lot better than being laughed at.

Leave me your best marriage advice in the comments below, I would love to hear your best “real” advice!

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Parenthood: tales of the lesbian step-mom

My kids are amazing. My wife is amazing. Together they are sorta a train wreck and today I feel a little like a helpless damsel in distress tied to the train tracks with nobody to save me.

This is how it all happened …

My youngest son (preteen) and my youngest daughter (barely a teen) live with my wife (acts like a teen sometimes) and I (always the mean mom) in our lovely rural home while their father lives across the country (we like it like that). This means for the bulk of the year we co-parent in my household with 2 moms. One of those moms never had an actual human child before this relationship, let alone a pair of prepubescent know it alls.

My kids love her, she is an amazing step-mom. She does everything I do as a parent plus more, mostly without complaining.

Like I said she is ahhh-mazing.

The kids absolutely agree, her meals taste better, she is more fun … she yells less. Whatever.

Then there are the days, like today. I get a text as a I exit the shower that the boy child is home. He didn’t catch the ride to school with his sister.

I wonder to myself what happened … is he sick? Should I check on him?

Then the real questions begin …. did I bring a robe to the bathroom?

Is this towel big enough to cover me if he is lurking in the hall?

Will he see me sprint naked and afraid the 3 steps from our bathroom to the bedroom door?

After the wife arrives home from the obligatory school drop off she begins to tell me the tale of 2 children. Of how the female child was dressed, back pack and shoes ready while her younger brother was most definitely not.

She describes for me in detail what happened with the boy.

He was standing in wrinkled shorts and holding his arms wide, in a gesture we can only guess was to make himself look bigger and scarier, like a grizzly bear in an old western movie. He stood there defiantly in support of his inaction this morning, making some desperate argument about why it is he wasn’t out of bed and ready to go. He stood there insanely ranting, thin arms spread wide, arguing about whether he did or did not wake in time to leave by 7:15.

As this was unfolding the wife was processing the entire scene in her head.

This kid was wasting precious teeth brushing time. In her infinite mom wisdom she decides the boy shall stay home. The punishment stood and she left him, in his sleep clothes, red eyed and cranky.

When she returned she checked in on him and found him playing video games. Like any kid home from school (as punishment?) would be doing. I didn’t have the time to argue as I slipped a cardigan over my shoulders and grabbed my bag for work.

A few hours into my work day I receive a Skype from the wife, not abnormal as we communicate periodically like this during my work day. This time it wasn’t about after work plans or when we were scheduled to take the car in for an oil change. No. This time it read like this:

[11:42:14 AM] Wife: Your son is up here looking for borax and glue
[11:58:44 AM] Me: uhhh, no?
[11:58:48 AM] Me: for why?
[12:00:01 PM] Wife: Making messes. Aka slime.
[12:00:14 PM] Me: No.
[12:00:29 PM] Me: Welcome to parenting boys 101
[12:00:35 PM] Wife: He was about to get into the Tide. I said no.
[12:01:09 PM] Me: this is the shit I need to blog about
[12:01:24 PM] Wife: Ha.
[12:02:02 PM] Wife: Yeah. I told him we aren’t making messes today.

I am 99% sure I am going to go home this evening to find no detergent for my laundry this weekend, a slime coating on my kitchen table, an empty potato chip bag and some soda cans mixed in with a beer bottle or few, and my kid still sitting in the same wrinkled shorts playing video games.

The truth is I really don’t think I want it any other way. Except maybe if they didn’t use all the Tide for slime and maybe tossed the dirty socks into the washing matching instead of kicking them under the couch. That would be good.

That seems like the perfect equivalent to untying the distressed damsel from the train tracks …

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These people are my heart. They make me laugh, make me cry. Mostly though they make me shrug my shoulders and smile.

 

 

 

Corporate ink stains – a tattood journey

Professionally speaking I must consider every action, my words are carefully calculated and my decisions are timed in general accordance with boosting the bottom line.

Personally however I live life on the edge. I make most of my decisions on the fly. I tornado into situations I probably shouldn’t, trapeze over pending doom without a blink and stumble into society with enough sarcasm sprinkled swear words to start a whole new language. That may be a slight exaggeration but you get the point.

While I look like a successfully employed woman, under my corporate skin is a delicately flawed masterpiece.

I love tattoos, I love the statement and sentiment and the art. I love how personal each is, how much goes into each and the emotion behind each story.

I love everything about them. Except the stigma in today’s professional environment.

This is an art form, in most cases well considered and powerfully meaningful.

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Historically people from all walks of life have been adorned with permanent ink. Royalty, warriors, sportsmen and poets. Ancestors of all nationalities, ages, and trades.

I am working on some new large pieces right now which speak to my soul. I also have several smaller works on my body, all of which I can easily cover. I am ready to cover for any situation which it is socially expected for me to do so. However, the temptation is great to get “just a little one” where it is easily visible in daily life. More visible than the ones already outside of the confines of my basic wardrobe. Just a little larger than the tiny open heart behind my ear, a little more obvious than the roman numerals of my wedding date across my foot.

Something a little more daring, a little more bold.

A bit more of a middle finger to the corporate world. A little declaration of my independence, a tiny flag flying in the face of conformity.

The love of my life for instance made a choice, much earlier than the choice to love me, to get a tattoo in a highly visible area. An ink stain handicap if you will – which is all society cares to see. It sits there defiantly on her hand just waiting to tell her truth, her unique story.

She is kind and smart and strong. She is a hard worker and a team player. She is articulate and personable.

Regardless of all of these things – in a corporate world she is simply a highly visible tattoo.

A closed door.

A rejection notice.

A “no” for any career with appearance requirements.

My desire to be unique, to express myself as an individual is stifled. Should I chose to follow my urge to expand my tattoo canvas I am a rebel. Not in such a way to be recognized as an individual but lumped together with real hardened societal taboos. The kind of harmful, dark and immoral sort of rejects you are kepttumblr_mg5rxmDtZW1rbraxfo1_500 safe from in your daily life.

Regardless of my offerings, talents and contributions, to be permanently inked in visible space is to reduce my chances of professional growth. Reduced chances by immeasurable calculations over the lifetime of my career. Considering I am forever  from retirement and have a half life yet to live I must tread a little more carefully.

I have to be very mindful not to make one of my impromptu life decisions which can not be easily reversed. My brain barely wraps around this rationalization and I must continually remind myself I would like to someday afford to retire to a beach. Painted toes in the sand and faded tattoos telling tales of my youth, the arrogance that comes with it and the love that compelled me to get them in the first place.

Until then I will wrap my art, continue on with my 9-5 and dream of the day when I can be free. I will display my inked skin without fear or rejection.

I will still be a rebel when I’m finished here, just on slightly different adventure with a few more tattoos and a way better tan.

 

 

Happy International Women’s Day or whatever day it is …

It seems there is a holiday for everything. Yesterday was Cereal Day. Tomorrow is Unique Names Day. My favorite of all though has to be March 12th, Get Over It Day. Research says it was invented in 2005 but I’m not convinced it’s not a long running joke placed coincidentally between Valentines and April Fools.

As for today … it’s officially International Women’s Day. I may have just rolled my eyes. Before I am tackled to the cold hard ground by a feminist and my inbox fills with hate mail hear me out.

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I am all about strong, kick ass women. Honestly.

I admire women in every corner of the world for your contributions to life and love. All the amazing work you do without formal recognition.  From those in high heels teetering around office buildings to those wearing military boots stomping alongside your male counterparts. Especially to those of you running around with one slipper, and a day short of a shower, chasing toddlers.

All of us are miracle makers, mountain movers and marvels of beauty and grace in our own right.

I happen to think I am pretty worthy of a little celebration now and again but is all this really necessary? Do we need an actual day of remembrance for our contributions, our talents and our sacrifices?

Do we not hear quiet admiration from our friends, our co-workers, our lovers and our children? Are we not honored by our successes? Do we not build each other to be better than the day before without a day to be reminded to do so?

Instead of a day to honor women internationally each and every one of us should really already be aware of our own unique contributions and appreciated for such daily. We should see ourselves worthy of a place in the world, with or without a ridiculous holiday because without us what kind of world would it really be?

You don’t need a day in your honor, find honor in every one of your days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Making changes. Hopping trains and hoping for the best.

There are days like any other, predictable and comfortable. Like waking on your own on a Saturday morning, with no hangover despite copious amounts of consumed wine the night before. Eyelids slowly opening to see a breakfast tray beside you, adorned with a single rose and a neatly folded napkin,  your lover waiting patiently to spoon feed you bits of syrup soaked pancake.

Then there are days so miserable and pathetic that you want to cut off all your hair, throw your phone in a nearby body of water (a toilet works), flip your wife the bird and hope all those days at the treadmill afford you the strength to chase down a moving train and hop aboard … bound for wherever hobos go in old movies.

I’m not saying I’m having a really, really bad day but there might be scissors and some pink  Nike shoes in my backpack.

Unfortunately for me I don’t own a breakfast tray, I don’t remember buying napkins at the grocery last time I went and I haven’t had pancakes since the last time Denny’s served them to me while I was wearing sunglasses.

Inside. At 10 am.

Because if you drink that much wine you will have a hang over … just like the last time. Dummy.

So here I sit, on  a Monday, procrastinating. Contemplating returning that text that will undoubtedly start a fight.

Considering dumping my phone in the ladies room but will undoubtedly regret it later.

Scanning Pinterest for ideas about how to make a hobo hanky on a stick that will match my escape outfit.

*FYI that stick is called a “bindle” … thanks eHow for clearing that up for me. http://www.ehow.com/how_8193614_make-hobo-bag-stick.html

A girl has to be stylish even when fleeing from reality. I think I will pass on the hair cutting but I do need a change. Sleep and pancakes would probably be a good start. If that doesn’t work my next blog may just be from the train.