Monday, October 13, 2014

50 Shades of WTF

Here it goes.  I'm just going to say it outright: I hate Christian Grey.

A few years ago, I heard my local morning talk show guy going on and on about this book series called "50 Shades of Grey".  He talked about it being some sort of scandalous lady porn, and that women were loving it, but it was just so dirty.  I immediately downloaded the book thinking, "I'm pretty hardcore, so I'll decide if it is indeed "dirty"."

Well, 50 Shades was interesting and, in my humble opinion, dirty light, like on a scale of one to 10, I give it about a six.  As I've said before, I'm on the hardcore side in terms of what I've seen and read, so a little bit of tush spanking isn't going to have me passing out on the floor.  The writing was terrible and the author made some very big faux pas such as setting her book in a place she's never been to.  Note to E.L. James, I lived in Seattle for years, and no one calls it the Pike District.  No one.  Ever.  I've also been a student newspaper editor, and know that given the ambition of a young student newspaper editor, they would have to be quarantined with Ebola not to show up for an interview as big as the one James describes in the first chapter, and if for some reason, the editor was quarantined with Ebola, an assistant editor, or another senior staff writer would take their place.

All of this is here, nor there, and frankly anyone who has spent time in a high school Creative Writing class could do hours of WTF commentary on 50 Shades.  However, the biggest problem I had with the book series was not the horrible writing, the new writer faux pas, or the ridiculous characters, my beef was with the leading man, Christian Grey.

Christian Grey is an abusive, self-absorbed asshole who preys on a college girl.  He is physically, emotionally, and mentally abusive, yet for some reason E.L. James wants him to be every lady's dream man.  She reiterates several times about how drop dead gorgeous he is, but also gives an equal amount of time to the portrayal of him as extremely controlling.  Christian monitors his so-called love's emails, he tells her what to wear, tells her who she can and can't hang out with, and in one scene that is supposed to show his love and dedication, he flies all the way back home from a cross country meeting to confront her about going out for a glass of wine with a girlfriend without his permission.  If any of us gals had a friend who was in this kind of relationship, we would advise her to break up with the jerk, block his email, phone calls, text messages, and get a restraining order.

While E.L. James attempts to explain away Christian's behavior by claiming he had a rough start to life, she fails at this all due to the last scene in Book #1 where Christian decides to paddle Ana's tush. In that scene, he's not doing some BDSM play, because as anyone in the BDSM community will tell you, the play is based on a mutual respect for both people involved, and at the heart of the play is the desire to give each person pleasure.  His goal is to hurt her, to inflict real pain and relieve his own anger by inflicting this pain.  He is beating her with the goal of inflicting agony, and that is the very definition of physical abuse.

The sad thing is that this series is being heralded as some sort of a love story.  The movie is greatly anticipated, and the books are still selling.  This is disturbing given that one third of the women murdered in the U.S. are killed by their partners.  As a middle aged woman, I can see Christian Grey for the abusive asshole he is, but my concern is for the women in their 20s who are being told that a smothering, controlling, abusive, yet handsome millionaire is the benchmark for a "good catch".

In a way, I get the 50 Shades appeal.  It would be nice to have someone so into you that they stop their whole world and obsess on every little detail about you, and having you all to themselves is all they can think about...for about a day or two.  About Day 3, the reality is that if anyone had to deal with a partner like Christian Grey, they would be calling the police for a restraining order, blocking their emails, calls, and texts, and spending a few nights at a friend's house for fear that the guy would show up with a gun.  Sadly, this scenario is the reality for a lot of women, and this best selling fiction just reinforces the patriarchal "no means yes" message.

I don't plan to see the movie, because I can get internet porn for free and watch an old episode of "Cops" to get the full effect.  As for Christian and Ana, my prediction is that they last until Ana hits her 30s, realizes she doesn't have to put up with his bullshit and that she never signed a pre-nup, then she will tell him to "go to hell", and end up with a great settlement including the big house in an area of Seattle that doesn't exist.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Out With The Old, Up With Me

Two weeks ago I cleaned out Rachael's room and chastised her a bit for having seven bags of trash and four bags of clothes to donate.  Today, I'm eating my words, and owe her a big apology, because I spent three hours working on my closet.

For years I carried around close to 100 garments.  I carried them from state to state, city to city, house to house, and kept them neatly in whatever closet I called my own.  I had sharply tailored dress shirts, a pink and black floral halter dress, khakis, dress slacks, and a plethora of sweaters that came in handy when I lived in the Pacific Northwest, but are useless in Southern California.  

The sad thing was that these garments didn't fit, instead they served as a constant reminder of what I needed to get myself back to.  I carried on a persistent 20 lbs. battle, all so I could, once again, wear my beautiful clothes.  Opening my closet door was like dinner with a nagging relative, as well as, a source of stress.  I have two elegant, silk, red blouses and a brand new black jacket that was such a bargain, but I don't fit into them.  At times, I would be down a few pounds and run into my closet to try on clothes that had been sitting there for half a decade.  Even if it fit, I would walk into the bathroom to look in the mirror and be sorely disappointed, because it just didn't look good on me anymore.  Yet, for some reason, I still housed it neatly on a hanger.

Today was the day of reckoning.  I was done.  When I started eliminating all of the items that didn't fit, I really couldn't believe what I had been hanging onto.  I found the black, polka dotted dress that I wore on my honeymoon cruise over 12 years ago, the pair of black pants with the white embroidery that I wore to the first dinner party that Jeff and I went to as an official couple from 13+ years ago, the sweater that I bought to celebrate my first bonus check I received when I worked for a concert promotion company before I met Jeff, which was 15 years ago.  Was I really delusional to think I could fit into clothes I wore 15 years ago?

It made me think about why I would schlep all of these garments around over the years.  Did I really rest all my hopes on one day getting back to the woman I used to be?  When I think about the clothes I wore in my 20s, they were fun and I enjoyed wearing them on my 20 year old body, but I didn't enjoy the insecurity I had in my 20s, the drama that went with falling in and out of relationships, or the "just starting out in the world" wages that I put in 60+ hours per week to earn.

The sexy peek-a-boo shirt that used to highlight my cleavage wouldn't work now.  If by some miracle I managed to make it back into that size, the cleavage, sadly, would never look as awesome as it did when I was 31.  I liked all of these garments when I wore them, and I liked the ages I was when I wore them, but I like who I am now much better.  At 41, I have shed the insecurities.  Sure, I'm not the young thing that could pull off that nicely hugging sweater dress, but I am the woman who takes care of her family every day, enjoys a great relationship with her husband of 12 years, and has a level of financial security that she never thought she would ever have.

I did hold onto a few things like the Rammstein windbreaker that was given to me when I worked at PolyGram (my first real job in the music business).  I kept the blue shirt I wore the first night I met Jeff face to face, and the shirt I stole from my stepdad's closet.  My mother always wanted to throw that shirt out, but he would never let her.  He got it his first year of college and held onto it.  I grabbed it from him during the '90s when vintage and thrifting were all the rage.  He used to be amused at the way I would wear his old college shirt over a white tank top with jeans.  Since he has been gone almost five years, I don't feel like parting with his shirt, because it reminds me of him and makes me smile.

I wound up with five bags of trash and seven bags of clothes to donate.  I'm happy to send them to a new home.  I am also relieved to know that when I walk in my closet, everything will fit me.  Now if I could just convince Jeff to part with his old suits, because the only way those are ever going to fit him again is if he starts amputating limbs.  Seriously, you're 45, you don't need the suit you wore to college graduation, I don't care what kind of deal you got on it!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Miss(understood) America

I don't give a rat's ass about the Miss America pageant.  In fact, I think beauty pageants, in general, need to go away.  We are in 2013 for fuck's sake, can't we leave the high-heeled, bikini clad meat parade back in the '50s where it belongs?!?  However, after the shitstorm that followed the crowning of Miss America this week, I feel compelled to respond, which pisses me off worse, because I would rather just keep ignoring the Miss America pageant altogether.

It was the typical story, a very beautiful, 20-something lady was crowned Miss America.  It seems like no big deal, except for the fact that our country is filled with a ton of racist shitbags who had a huge problem with the new Miss America's name and skin color.  The new Miss America is Indian American.  Her family immigrated from India over 30 years ago, so she was born and raised in New York.  She is neither Hindu or Muslim, the two most prominent religions in India, but even if she was, why the hell does that make a difference?

Minutes after they put that ridiculous crown atop the head of the lovely Miss America, a bunch of asshole white guys took to Twitter and twatted out ridiculous things like '9/11 was just a few days ago and they choose her as Miss America' and 'more like Miss Terrorist America', because these said assholes aren't educated enough to know the difference between Arabs and Indians.  These are the same morons who, after 9/11, were threatening members of the Sikh community, because they wore turbans.

What was more disheartening, but not surprising, was a Fox News radio commentator who proclaimed that the new Miss America was wrong, because she didn't look like a Miss America, and that the honor should have gone to the blonde-haired, blue-eyed chick from the Midwest with the tattoo and safer name.  I don't know if this particular fucktard has been living in a cave, or small town in South Dakota, for the past 30 years, but *NEWS FLASH* the new Miss America is what America looks like these days.

In my neighborhood, alone, there are at least a dozen different ethnicities.  We have everything from Chinese, Persian, Indian, Pakistani, Korean, Mexican, African-American, African Africans, to just plain, old white folks.  We get together on occasion to have neighborhood BBQs, talk about ways to keep our neighborhood safe and clean, and complain about traffic.  Do you really think I care that we are the only Jewish family in our neighborhood?  Not as long as we are allowed to live in peace, do our own thing, and live happily.  I would like to believe most people feel this way, but after the Miss America ordeal, I'm not sure anymore.

I don't understand why there is a faction in the media that perpetuates the notion that if America isn't white, it isn't right.  Given our country's history of discrimination, racism, and prejudice, you would think the people perpetuating these messages would know that no good can come from promoting racial hatred.  Our country was designed as a melting pot where all cultures and peoples are welcomed to come and build a life for themselves and their families.  Think about how boring the U.S. would be if there were only three or four cultures.  What would our restaurant selections look like?!?

When I was in grade school, I remember we had a Flag Day assignment where we had to write what we liked best about America.  The 8 yr. old me wrote something to the effect of, 'I like the U.S.A. because everybody looks different.  In China people don't look different, but in the U.S.A. we all look different.'  I remember my mother giving me a kiss on the forehead and bragging to her friend about what I had written.  It's 32 years later and I still feel the same, although I'm a bit more enlightened to the  regional differences in appearance of Chinese people.

I'm glad that our new Miss America is of Indian decent.  In a way, I'm glad that there was a big racist outcry, because I'm sick of Fox News and the Right Wing putting the message out there that racism doesn't exist.  It does in a big way, and is often perpetuated by the very same people who claim it doesn't exist.  Often in order to incite change, an entity must be shown what needs to change, and we need to do a lot of changing.

It would bring me endless joy to begin a concrete, national conversation on how we can educate our children and our media to be less racist, only then can we tackle other important issues like the fact that it's 2013 and we still have televised beauty contests.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Parental Privacy & Reality Check

20 years ago if I told you I woke up covered in pee, your response would have been, "Wow!  You must have been really wasted last night", or "Geez!  That guy you were with must have been really wasted last night."  Fast forward to this morning.  I woke up covered in pee thanks to a toddler who forgot to visit the potty before crawling into bed right, smack dab, between my husband and me last night.  This pee incident concludes a very tension-filled 12 hours where I have been asking myself why I didn't know that becoming a parent meant giving up basic privacy rights.

I know that becoming a parent means you change everything about how you think and live, but just once, I would like to be able to use the bathroom without having someone knock on the door, yell to me at the door, or just come in through the door.  When they were younger, they actually sat on my lap while I was on the potty, and would get angry or upset when I removed them from my lap, so I could wipe.  None of those fucking, 'life with kids is beautiful' parenting books ever tell you that, but it happens to all moms!

And don't get me started on the sex life!  Once upon a time, there was something called morning sex, and my memory is extremely cloudy due to the passing years, but I seem to recall enjoying it.  On the weekends, my husband and I used to lounge around in bed until close to noon, sometimes asleep, sometimes awake, then when we did get up, we enjoyed the whole day together.  Now, it's 8:30 am on the weekends when I'm usually roused by my toddler kicking me in the head, because she sleeps like a disturbed puppy having a squirrel chasing dream.  It's all about breakfast production, getting dressed, rushing out to a lesson, and figuring out what activity to do that day, because so help you God if you don't have a plan and the kids have to sit around the house.

On some lazy Sundays, we used to have afternoon sex, but gone are those days as well.  Even if the kids are watching movies downstairs or playing with toys, they can (and will) at anytime barge into your room and demand your time.  This means that any semblance of a sex life is relegated to evening hours between the time you finally get the kids to sleep until the time they come in and want to get in your bed with you, and even then, there are no guarantees.

My nearly 10 yr. old now believes that our house is going to be robbed at any time even though we live in one of the safest suburbs in SoCal, have an alarm system on our house, and have a private security service that patrols our neighborhood.  She is using this excuse to sleep on the sofa in our bedroom, and throws a fit every time we lock our door.  My revenge for her ridiculous behavior is that in about three years she is going to figure out why we lock our doors for about 45 minutes in the evening, and will be completely grossed out.  Until then, we have to try to steal, sometimes successfully, sometime not, less than an hour of privacy to actually be a married couple.

I've always been tempted to write a book about what parenting is actually like, but the problem is that if I did, no one would want to have kids.  Don't get me wrong, I love my little monsters, but the preconceived notion of what parenting will be like, as opposed to what it actually is, are polar opposites.  When I brought Shayna home from the hospital, I envisioned this beautiful scene of me spending time lounging on the couch with my new, sweet baby and my oldest daughter cuddling up together to enjoy the new life in our house.  Instead, I got a colicy infant who kept a very sore and tired me trying to figure out how to sooth it, while the resentful 6 yr. old pouted, screamed, and developed a new war cry yelling, "You care only for the baby!".

I've been told by other parents to enjoy this time with my kids while they're young, but I would be lying if I didn't say that I am looking forward to getting a few things back as they get older like an undisturbed bathroom run, a bed with only myself and one other person in it, and more than a 2-3 hour window for sex.  The kicker is that by the time we have free reign again for intimacy, I will be menopausal and he will be over-the-hill, but at least we won't have to watch the Disney Channel anymore.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Revenge of the Summer Kid Movies

While sitting through a painful viewing of the cinematic excellence known as "Smurfs 2", I began to advance my theory about the people who make summer movies for kids.  These people hate their parents and have made it their life's work to torture other parents.

This theory first appeared in my head as I sat through the minion-filled abortion that was "Despicable Me 2" with my enthusiastic 4th grader and my toddler.  It was further advanced while attempting a drive-thru viewing of "Epic", the film that not even Beyonce's voice, could save.  After an afternoon of watching little blue-skinned cliches dance across the screen, I'm convinced my theory is 100% correct.

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate animation or all children's films.  "Wreck It Ralph" was a great movie with a good plot and terrific characters.  I liked "Tangled" even though the whole princess thing has never found a place in my heart, and I'm a really big fan of the "Monsters, Inc." and "Toy Story" franchises.  I just find that, much like grown up movies coming out of Hollywood, most of the summer releases lack substance.

In a way, the thing that pisses me off the most is that the people who make summer movies for kids know they don't have to try that hard.  Summer is a long stretch of time, and the options of what can be done with kids might seem vast at first, particularly in Southern California, but after awhile, you want to do something different, that doesn't involve a potential 3rd degree sunburn.  Movies are always a fun idea, but the crap they put out in the summer just ruins the whole experience, particularly if you happen to be a fan of animation.

I love animation.  I'm one of those freaky people who have been watching cartoons since I was three years old, and never stopped.  On any given late night, my television watching includes a selection of what my husband refers to with disgust as "your fucking weird cartoons", such as something from Adult Swim along with reruns of "South Park" or "Family Guy".  I nearly came unglued when "Metalocalypse" appeared on t.v., because it was heavy metal plus cartoons plus dark humor plus a whole lot of wrong.  What could be more perfect than that!

The sad thing is that the summer isn't over.  I still have to stomach "Planes", which is clearly a ripoff of "Cars", and "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2".  The only positive thing about these crappy summer kid movies is that they only last about an hour and 15 minutes, so by the time I've made it through a tub of glorious movie theater popcorn that I shouldn't be eating, I only have to sit through 30 minutes of lame jokes before I can go back to the minivan and pretend I enjoyed the experience just as much as my kids.

I guess the only thing that could be worse are the inevitable 'tween movies that are sure to come as my daughter nears her 10th birthday.  She has already put me on notice that the One Direction movie is coming out soon.  I know I'm going to be the one stuck watching it with her wishing the whole time that I could fast forward through the next four years of movies, and go straight to the teenage horror film obsession, but I know that will be a big cheat, too, because by the time her movie tastes improve, she won't want her mom to go with her.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Revenge of the Weiner

I have to take a moment to sound off about this Anthony Weiner scandal, not because I want to.  I don't live in New York City.  I don't care who they elect as mayor.  I am not interested in who sends naughty pics to who.  My beef with this scandal is not about his indiscretion, but about the way the media is making Huma Abedin out to be some sort of idiot doormat.

I liked Anthony Weiner as a politician.  I felt that he fought for some strong, progressive legislation, was a champion for the working class, and I agreed with most of his politics.  When he was busted the first time, I really didn't care about what he had done.  My philosophy has always been that it's no one's business how you get your freak on, as long as it's done between two consenting adults.  I didn't think it was necessary for him to resign the first time, but he did.

I thought the worst part of him getting caught the first time was that he was stupid to think that the photos wouldn't get out.  In the great age of the internet, every photo and piece of info you put out there is subject to regurgitation at any time, by anyone for any reason.

When Tony decided to run for mayor, I wasn't surprised.  You can never keep a good politician down. I didn't think for a second that the scandal would matter much to most New Yorkers, because they are a fairly down-to-earth group of people.  Plus, after two terms of Mayor "Fee Increase" Bloomberg, they could use someone way savvier to run their city.

Unfortunately, it doesn't seem like Tony will get his chance to run the Big Apple, because he was busted again sending dick pics.  Again, I don't care how one gets off and I don't want to hear about it.  I don't want to see the twits or the pics.  I don't want to hear some spin-crafted explanation from him or Huma.  I didn't care when Bill Clinton screwed around on Hillary, or when Elliot Spitzer got busted with hookers, or when Mark Sanford made his trip to Argentina, or when any other politician got caught having extra-marital relations, because it is personal.  It is that particular couple's issue to deal with, and I'm going to go out on a limb and say that most people probably feel the same way.

The one thing that resonated loudly during this whole Weinergate scandal is Huma telling the press that she has forgiven him and that this issue is private.  She is 100% correct, and I'm really sick of people, newspapers, pundits, and what not, bashing this woman.  I realize that the whole "stand by your man" political wife thing is old and can look somewhat degrading.  However, we don't live in their marriage. We don't know them, personally.  We don't know what they talk about at night.  I think what everyone might be worried about is the possibility that maybe Huma doesn't give that much of a damn.  Perhaps she's more upset about the public embarrassment than she is about Tony talking to internet women that may or may not exist.

He is a dumbass for not learning his lesson the first time.  At this point, I don't think he should be mayor, because he's an idiot, not because he did freaky things to get off.  As for Huma, she is a strong, smart lady.  I think she is more than qualified to make her own decisions about her relationships and family without the rest of the world sounding off.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Not All Motherhood is Created Equal

If you haven't heard by now, you are probably a deaf, mute hermit who has been living in a cave, the royal couple had a new prince.  The news coverage of this has been so ridiculous, I've had to relegate my television to a "Wii-only" device, so as not to vomit a little in my mouth every time I see an aerial shot of that freakin' hospital.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy for the couple and their new baby, as I would be for any couple who eagerly awaited and had a successful, problem-free birth of a first child.  The problem I have with this, aside from the disgusting level of news coverage, is the absurd idea that the prince and the duchess are going to be parents just like the rest of us.

In this amazing age of technology, we are able to have access to people like never before.  If you would have told my 13 yr. old self that at some point in the future, I would be getting weekly messages directly from John Taylor of Duran Duran, I would have been on Cloud 9 and spent the rest of my early teen years anxiously waiting.  On a lot of levels, this new access is cool, but the downside is believing that access is an equalizer.

Yes, I see FaceBook updates from famous people, but they are a one way communication of only the information that the person/artist wants me to see.  I find them interesting, they are also helpful if it's an artist I like to see live, and always entertaining, but I don't believe for a second that if I met that entertainer in person I could walk up to them like an old pal and consider myself in their circle.  However, I don't know that younger people, perhaps around the demographic of 18-25, think the same way.

This belief is re-enforced when I see op-eds penned by writers in their late 20s/early 30s giving Duchess Kate advice on late night feedings and play dates.  I saw the same thing when Kim Kardashian had her baby.  Does anyone with half a brain really think that these women are getting up in the middle of the night with their infants?  Let's face it, I'm a dedicated mom, but if I had the ability to hire staff to deal with my infants at night, I would have done it in a heartbeat.

The truth is that Duchess Kate, Kim, and other celebrity mommies don't have the same motherhood experience as the rest of us, because they can pay someone to deal with most of the shitty parts of being a mom.  The late nights, the diaper changing, the loss of sleep and personal time, having to make a choice between working and staying at home, none of these issues come up when you have people whose sole purpose is to make sure they never come up, no matter what their Twitter twits say.

Yes, they are mothers in the respect that they gave birth to a child who will, hopefully, be the amazing focal point of their lives.  They will feel love, worry, joy, frustration, anxiety, anger, happiness, and all of the other emotions that go along with the role of motherhood, but until I see Duchess Kate leaving the palace at 2:00 am in her pajamas, hair disheveled with bags under her eyes, getting into the minivan to drive her screaming newborn prince around aimlessly just to get him to go to back to sleep, I'm going to ask that we stop pretending that her motherhood experience is the same your average suburb mom's.