Trifecta of Chris

One of my favorite bloggers, Chris over at afreeman initiated another round of peer interviewing. I am usually the official unjoiner of anything like this but I know from reading and commenting on his site, he attracts a very thoughtful, intelligent crowd and my curiosity was piqued. I was interviewed by Christine/Flutter of Flutter Dark and Divine. I was acquainted with Flutter before having meandered over there after she got a favorable review here. I was instantly hooked on the honesty and clear voice that radiates throughout her writing. A lot of people blog to work through things and make progress toward figuring out their stuff and the steps toward being fully who they are. Flutter is a woman who lets you walk those steps with her and it is humbling to be allowed a window into her mind. She asked some really thoughtful questions and here are my answers. Text Color

Flutter:
When you think of the reasons that you started to blog, what is the most important? What is the least?

Chris:
When I started blogging last year, my youngest daughter was nearly six months old and I was in the throes of postpartum depression. Months of sleep deprivation and being overwhelmed with three kids, a business and a hubs to take care of, left me feeling woefully inadequate and completely over my head. After a few weeks of frequent crying, self-loathing and general disinterest in well, anything, I went to my doctor.

In spite of my initial embarrassment over what I felt was a personal weakness, I knew walking around like a pod person, a shell of my formerly fun self(yes this is where my moniker stems from) wasn't good for anyone. I quietly went on an antidepressant telling no one except my husband. I had some fear that I might do something weird and needed at least one person to know I was on the crazy pills.

There's a stigma in my family about needing help, for not being able to do things on your own. I felt better on the meds immediately but I still felt like something was wrong with me that I needed medication to handle my life. I wasn't embarrassed enough to go off them because rather than feel like some supercharged happy schmappy supermom, I finally felt like myself again and I wasn't willing to give that up, no matter how weak I felt about needing it.

I hadn't been involved with the blogging community at all, wasn't even really aware of it. Still, I love the internet as a resource and when I went looking for information on depression after childbirth, I found all these women speaking honestly about the reality of being a mother in today's world. The delicate balancing of all of the things expected of us, the futility of the goal of womanhood to do all this stuff and then strive to make it look effortless. I was hooked immediately. I think that's why so many moms blog, the relative anonymity, the shield of the computer screen allows women to strip down the facade of perfection and share openly with a lot of support and minimal judgement.

Ok, so the the short answer to the question, the most important reason I started blogging? My sanity and relating to other women on a deeper level. The least important? I love writing and blogging allows me to keep that muscle flexed. I also get feedback on the writing which is nice. It feels really good to know that certain things you have written have moved people, inspired them to be more gentle on themselves, made them laugh. This is a great side benefit to blogging and it's motivated me to write more and set and work toward personal writing goals. So it's important but definitely secondary to having a forum and outlet that keeps me feeling good.

Flutter:
What writers inspire you?

Chris:
I write mostly humorous personal essays so writers who do this very well inspire me. My favorite is David Sedaris. In fact one of my most treasured gifts was when my husband took me to a David Sedaris reading for my Christmas present. We both laughed so hard that our bellies ached all night. He's just so good at what he does and though his family is unique in their own way, he captures the milieu of the American family like no one else. I like other writers in this category like Cynthia Heimel, Erma Bombeck, Robert Fulghum, Augusten Burroughs, even Dave Eggers . I am attracted to people who use humor to deal with the difficulties of life. I am inspired by writers who are able to turn sometimes painful things into funny stories. I think this comedy/tragedy speaks of the resilience of people. I am a voracious reader and love schloads of books and authors but these guys inspire me because it's what I aspire to.

Flutter:
If you were to teach a course in comparative religions, your faith being one point of view and one more religion being a counterpoint, how would that class look?

Chris:
This is a hard one. I am a spiritual but not religious agnostic. Agnosticism is defined as:

the philosophical view that the truth value of certain claims —particularly metaphysical claims regarding theology, afterlife or the existence of deities, ghosts, or even ultimate reality — is unknown or, depending on the form of agnosticism, inherently impossible to prove or disprove. It is often put forth as a middle ground between theism and atheism.
My counterpoint would be atheism because I abhor people who claim to have a monopoly on truth. For an agnostic anyone who believes they hold the ultimate truth is questionable. I am not a huge fan of most organized religion in part because they tend to be exclusionary and the same applies to atheism. I am a follower of science and the provable, testable. And yet, I can't look at the beauty and organization around me and not think that there is something greater than me, some force of creation that is well beyond my capability to even imagine. That's why it slays me when people view god as this big mean father-figure in the heavens looking down on us judging what we do. I just don't think it works that way. I don't think we know or will ever know and that is perfectly ok with me.

So what would my class be like? I would endeavor to imbibe students with a sense of wonder, an awe of discovery and a comfort with the unknown. I would hope to create an atmosphere where we could question why our brains are hardwired for things like religion. Why we probably constructed religion the way we have, why we anthropomorphise god. I would explore how most of the tenets and parables of religion appear in all of the major religions. I wouldn't need to change student's minds but allow critical thinking and reason to be a part of the discussion.

Flutter:
It's a rainy day, you have the house to yourself and the entire day, what do you do?

Chris:
As a mom of three, this is one of my ultimate fantasies(besides all my kids saying yes mom for one day and my husband cleaning the house and attending to all of my, uh, needs.) I used to devour books, reading a few a week. Since having kids, I struggle to make time to both read and write. Writing takes precedence and it's easier to put aside and come back to for me. So for my day to myself, I'd pick one of the many unread books awaiting my rainy day and spend all day reading. I'd read in bed, read in a hot bath spiked with lavender and rosemary. I'd read on the chaise lounge out in my garden, I'd read over lunch and a cup of tea. I would, for the first time in a while, finish a book the same day I started it. I did that frequently BC(before children) and it's one of the few things I really miss.

Flutter:
Quick, what's the first word that comes to mind when I say "balls"?


Chris:
My mother. She has giant ones and though she drives me crazy sometimes and we are very different people philosophically, she has set a good example when it comes to standing up for yourself, requiring more from people, working hard and aspiring to more and never letting other people tell you what you're capable of. I have a slew of great stories relating to this but they are all worthy of their own post.

Flutter:
If we are to come away with one thing from reading your blog, what do you feel is the most important?


Chris:
I'm all over the board with my blog. Sometimes I'm funny, irreverent, even silly. Other times, I am contemplative, serious and downright morose. I know from reader's comments that different people appreciate and connect with different things. I think I just want people to take something. I've written quite a bit about body image and I hope women can read some of that and be kinder on themselves. I hope that struggling moms can read some of my travails of motherhood and know they are not alone in this difficult but loved job. I hope that people read my political and opinion posts not to agree with me but to allow for the dissemination and discussion of ideas. I think a lot of our political problems have come from people's assent and reticence to vocally dissent when they think their opinion might be unpopular. If people dropping by can take something away period, then that is fair and kind payment for the effort that goes into blogging.

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One Year Later

My unbelievably loved and respected grandfather died on this day, one year ago. This first year is the only time I will mark this date, after this choosing to celebrate only the good days. My grandfather was immeasurably important to me, to all of my family. To say that he was a good man, a dedicated father, an adoring grandfather, great grandfather, a loyal friend -- none of it encompasses how he impacted the people around him. When I need a measuring stick in human kindness,compassion and morality that eclipses religion, it is him that I measure against. What follows is rather long, quite personal, it certainly isn't one of those 'general audience' pieces but it was important to me, at this year mark, to remember.
July 23, 2007 - Diary
Today my daughter poked her eye with the corner of a book and I found out my Grandpa has pancreatic cancer. I am profoundly sad. Surprisingly, I don’t feel sad for me, even though Grandpa has been more a father to me at times than my own father, even though he is the most stable and loving man I’ve ever known until I met my own husband, even though he is an important fixture in our families often shaky stability.

I am sad for my grandparents. Tonight I called and my cousin was there with her mom and she talked to me while she did dishes. My grandparents are scared and it scares me that they, they who have always been strong before us are anxious, unsure and visibly rocked by this news. Again, when my grandpa dies, whenever that is, my world will not change considerably. But my grandmother has shared a bed with this man for nearly sixty years, my whole chest contracts with the thought of losing my husband, I can’t even imagine how directionless and pained my grandmother would feel without hers.

I am scared and sad for the indignities my grandfather will have to endure, and that’s if things are good enough to warrant the indignities of the poisons of cancer treatment. I am scared for him, with him, of the pain, the physical pain and the pain of seeing your family sad and frightened. The fear and uncertainty of trusting doctors to know what you need and do their best and manage your pain and your expectations. I am sad that my grandparents will have to walk that line between optimism and realism. I am sad that he may have to find a way to say goodbye to all of us. I am just sad for them and the uncertain road ahead.

I’m sad for me too because I love this man so much and he is the only man I have ever looked up to and admired, respected, trusted and felt completely loved and accepted by. But I don’t need him anymore, want him yes, but Gene has filled the place in my life that my grandfather held open, waiting for the right person to come and occupy for the long haul.

I am sad for my mom and her siblings because to lose your father is different than your grandfather and to watch your grandmother sad and scared is not jarring in the way it is to see your mother contemplate what’s ahead. I wish for my grandfather whatever it is he needs to make any of this, whatever this turns out to be, as easy as possible. I love him, them and I only wish that knowing that we all care so much will make things easier not harder.

My aunt has found a site, the Caring Bridge that will help my grandparents keep their large family and bevy of friends updated on my grandpa's progress. We have all left messages which my cousin prints up for my grandfather to read. My Grandma told me that these messages mean a lot to him, something to keep his mind off things.

FRIDAY, AUGUST 03, 2007
- Caring Bridge
Grandpa & Grandma,
I miss you both so much and would give you a big hug if I were there. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make everything fine, but I know I can’t. Nevertheless, you have all of my support and love in the difficult days ahead. I am so proud to be your granddaughter and the courage and commitment you have shown to each other, especially as of late, is yet another opportunity for me to learn from you both. You have always been a huge source of strength and stability for me, I’m certain for many of us. Now, you need to focus inward and take care of each other knowing we’re all ok and will do whatever it is you need us to. I love you both.


What do you say that could ever in a million years make any of this ok?
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 03, 2007 - Caring Bridge

Hi Grandpa and Grandma,
Grandma, happy birthday. Wish I could have been at Mom's to celebrate with you. Even though it was your birthday, I bet you still made the cake. I would give anything for a piece of your poppyseed cake right now. Grandpa, Mom filled me in on your last treatment and I'm glad to know you're doing well. It's nice to get the detailed report from her since every time I call you guys, we're only on the phone five minutes or so before one of the other kids or grandkids or friends calls to talk to you too. As for me, I'm in the home stretch now as far as the pregnancy goes. Every time I think I'm as big as I'll get, I get a little bit bigger. Gene has been generous with nightly back and foot rubs, extra help around the house and with the kids and ice cream runs a couple of times a week. The doctors expect I'll deliver between the 25th of September and October 5th so we'll see, maybe the bebe will share your birthday :) With Mom, Dad's, yours and Gene's dads birthdays all around the same time, she has a pretty good chance of sharing somebody's birthday. Anyway, just wanted to drop you a note and let you know I miss you.


MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2007 - Caring Bridge

Grandpa & Grandma,
I miss you both so much I cannot even put it into words. I am so big, ungainly, and bored already(I worked my last day for the time being Saturday) that if I were in town, I think I'd be at your house every day eating good food, watching your big tv, chatting with you both and letting grandma overfeed me powder donuts, shrimp salad, pizelles, baked chicken and all the other things I miss. Wow, I guess this email has a food theme, I'm getting hungry just writing it.
Anyhow, I am in my 37th week of pregnancy and could officially "go" any day now. I'm hoping for sooner rather than later because I am so big, you wouldn't believe it. On my 5 foot frame, I look like an egg on legs. The big kids both have said they'll be glad when the baby comes and I have a lap they can sit on again. Gene is taking good care of me even though I am getting more and more anxious to get the show on the road. I'll keep you posted on my progress and keep me in your thoughts for an earlier rather than later birth, maybe sometime around Grandpa's birthday:) Love you both, miss you and wish I was there, albeit selfishly so you could love me up a little. Love, Christy
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2007 - Caring Bridge
Happy Birthday Grandpa,
Wow, 87 years, I can hardly believe it.
You seem so much younger and not just because you’re handsome and still a fierce player on the golf course. You seem so much younger than 87 in part because of the adaptability you have shown through the multiple generations of growth in your family and how well you have handled everything we’ve thrown at you.

You have and continue to be, a model of unconditional love and you and grandma(I mention her because sometimes I see you as two halves of the same person) have served as the foundation and heart of our family. I have learned so many things from you and cherish every day we’ve spent together. Not only have you been a great role model but you are simply nice to be around. I’ve appreciated that without saying much, I always knew what you meant whether it was conveying love or letting me know I had to do something better. I remember occasionally getting into trouble and getting lectures over dinner at your kitchen table from Mom, Grandma and even Linda sometimes, but all you had to do was look up from your plate at me and I knew what you were thinking.

I recall with pride all of the times you’ve said to me, “Chrissy, you’re the one we never worry about, we know you’ll figure it out.” Believe me, there were many times I reminded myself of your words to reassure myself that I could handle all the stumbling blocks and obstacles of adulthood. Your confidence in me was a powerful armor out in the world. I loved that when I told you I had finally found “the one” when I met Gene, all you said was, “Chrissy, if you love him, I love him." And I have loved seeing your relationship with Grandma evolve over the many different stages of your lives. You have never stopped working to treat each other better and I have never met two people more committed and loyal to each other. Beyond the bonds of almost 60 years together it is also so apparent that you two are still in love, a giant accomplishment in any marriage.

I’ve also appreciated your impish sense of humor. You and Grandma definitely taught me that if you can laugh together, it’s awfully hard to stay angry very long and that a sense of humor and perspective can be a real comfort when things are hard or looking dim. Grandpa, I hope it is a really good birthday and know that I love you and you mean the world to me. I hope the next year brings you a wealth of health, happiness and all that you dream of.
Love,
Christy
Tuesday, October 23, 2007 -Caring Bridge
Hi Grandpa,
I wanted to write sooner but with the new baby I'm lucky if I have time for a shower! Thank you so much for giving up Grandma for a few days so she could come out to California with Mom to see the baby and help out. It was so nice to have my family here so soon after the baby's birth and I couldn't wait for Grandma and mom to meet my new girl. Gene and I were so tired after 2 weeks with Izzy up every few hours so Grandma and mom were nice enough to keep the baby with them two of the nights they visited so Gene and I could get a full nights sleep. What a treat that was. I felt positively human again rather than the walking zombie I was beginning to resemble.
Grandma played for hours with the kids and it made me think of all the times Grandma made up games for she and I to play or took the time to teach me how to do things from playing gin to making a pie. Mom and Grandma also picked up where I left off with my yard before I started getting too big to garden. They split up and thinned out a bunch of our plants, bought some colorful new ones and got the yard looking its best. With a little of our year-round California sunshine, it won't take long for it to all fill in again and look positively lush.
Only Grandma and Mom spend big $$ on plane tickets, get on a long plane ride just to sleep on our couch(they liked it better than the air mattress:), cuddle a crying baby in the middle of the night getting only a little sleep and do some heavy duty gardening. While recovering from a Cesarean and getting acclimated to a new baby and third child, it really helped me to have them here, even for a few days so thanks for parting with your favorite girl for a few days.
Oh Grandpa, I wish you'd been out to meet Isabella too but I'll bring her home to Milwaukee as soon as I can. She is such a treat, I can't imagine what we ever did without her. I love you and look forward to seeing you in person. Happy anniversary and have a good turkey day too
Love, Christy


Dec 24, 2007 - Diary
I am sitting on Gene’s lap and crying for the third time today because it’s Christmas Eve and my grandfather has been admitted to the hospital because of complications from either the chemotherapy or the pancreatic cancer it’s supposed to be treating. I am so fucking sad I can’t stand it. Not only is he like a father to me but he is one of only a handful of people who I believe I absolutely know the person he is. Oh man that sentence is so off and I can’t even put words together that make sense and that is the thing I can always do.

It is late and I go out on the front porch of our house because the cool stone on my bare feet and the air on my face feels good. I look around at the lights of my neighbors and this Siamese that I have noticed around the last few weeks finally comes over and gives me the time of day. I crouch down and he walks right over and butts his heart shaped face against my hand. He lets me pick him up and he smells like wood smoke. This is the highlight of my day, a little affection from somebody else’s cat. I have not even paid much attention to my own cats today instead spending most of the day getting ready for company tomorrow. And normally, given my mood, I would be wishing a giant sinkhole would open in the road leading to our house so everyone would have to divert and I’d be rescued from a few hours of vacuous conversation but instead I am grateful for the distraction. I am going to open presents with my children tomorrow, and I am going to make small talk and be happy being around people who make me happy, even when I am not.



January 3, 2008 - Diary
I am really angry right now. Everybody in my family are such goddamn cheerleaders that no is telling me the truth about how bad my Grandfather is. It's as if admitting he is close to death will usher it in on the spot. I get it, I get that to acknowledge it feels like giving up but here I sit two-thousand miles away and I need someone to tell me if I need to come home and no one is telling me the truth. He's okay my mom says, they're being aggressive, the chemo is taking a toll on him. What part of how he's doing is the chemo and how much is the cancer I ask, needing to understand if this is a symptom of the poison running through him or his body shutting down. They don't know she says. Well, whats typical in these case, I ask though I already know, it is grim, I just want to here her say it, confirm what I've already read over and over again unable to fathom how deadly something could be that I've never heard of before. "He's a fighter Christy, you know that, he wants to live, he isn't done yet, we have to keep praying, anything could happen." Maybe this is what every family goes through when faced with losing someone so important. How we all handle this is also complicated by the fact that my grandmother survived stage four ovarian cancer, given only a few months, here she is nursing my ailing grandfather some twenty-five years later. How can you not put some hope in the miraculous when you saw it firsthand? Still, I trust statistics and the numbers on pancreatic are so fucking grim there isn't much room left for hope. My dad is a pessimist, my mom an optimist, I am a pragmatist. So I yell at just about every member of my family until I think I have gotten straight answers. I need to go see him. I want to introduce him to our new baby, I know it could cheer him up, but I am I am nervous about travelling with her. She is only a few weeks old and it doesn't seem right to put her on a plane during the worst of cold and flu season. I try and figure out how to finagle my husband coming with me but the sad truth that there will be a funeral this year hits home and I know I will need him there then and that we cannot afford to do both. So I plan a trip for just the baby and I. I stress over it, I sob in my husband's arms feeling like a ten year old girl in my capacity to safely and calmly get this child on a plane. I don't know if I have the emotional wherewithal to handle a baby on a plane by myself. Looking back I am already having some PPD though I didn't know it yet so I am doing all this in a place of extreme panic and fragility, I am not even a fraction of my normally competent collected self. The bebe was perfect, she cooed and slept and snuggled the whole flight, I got hosts of compliments from passengers about what a pleasure she was to fly with. I, on the other hand was a mess. I had a full blown anxiety attack on the gangway, not sure if I was going to pass out or throw up, I stood frozen while other passengers made their way onto the plane. Finally a Midwest Airlines flight attendant, who I cannot thank enough, saw how disconcerted I was as I struggled to keep it together. I'm not sure if I am going to be sick I told her, I am physically ok, I think I am having a panic attack, my grandfather is very ill I'm going to see him and I've been very nervous about flying on my own with the baby. I remember she looked like Kate from Charlie Angel's and she asked if she could help me with the baby and she told me she'd help me get seated and give me an airsick bag right away so I had it if I needed it. She got me a glass of water and told me everything was going to be ok and just somebody saying it I started to think believe it would be. I took many deep breaths trying to stave off the nausea that I couldn't shake. I tried not to think about my Grandpa too much. Brace yourself Christy, they had all told me, he looks, well,, sick. I hadn't seem him since July shortly before he'd been accidentally diagnosed. He looked healthy then, even robust and tan, having played golf only a few days before.


January 18, 2008 - Diary
Yesterday I said goodbye to my grandfather. He was at the hospital getting some fluids after he had taken a fall the night before, probably because of low blood pressure. I am certain he won’t last six months and I am uncertain if he will last six weeks. I was getting on a plane the next day to go home, and I might not return before his cancer finally takes his life. So, I had to say goodbye as if it was the last time I would ever see him alive because it might be. He cried and apologized for ruining my trip home. I told him, Grandpa, I came to see you so how could anything you do ruin my trip? I told him that I was so happy that he met my newest daughter. I told him I loved him and admired him and how important he was to me. I told him that I knew he knew these things, this was not the first time I had ever uttered the words. I told him that if he wanted to fight, (even though it was an uphill battle filled with pain and indignitites), he should, but if and when he was done fighting, that was okay too. I told him to do whatever he needed to, that it was okay to be selfish in this instance. I told him we would take good care of Grandma. I told him whatever happens, it will be ok that no matter what, he is and will always be a part of my life. I rubbed the scruff on his face and put my hand at his temples, I kissed him and pressed my face against his. I held his hand and said the words, this might be the last time we see each other and he said I know. We both cried. I think this is the most intimate and honest conversation I have ever had in my life and the most vulnerable I have ever seen a person. I said I hope I see you in March but if I don’t, it’s ok. I went and got the baby, his latest great grandchild and brought her in, the mood lightened a little. He was too sore from the fall to hold her but he held her hand and she smiled at him, he kissed her head and cried a little more. I looked him in the eyes and I said I love you and then I walked from the room. I didn't turn around I couldn’t. My aunt, cousin and Grandma were in a nearby hall alcove. They saw me and all started to cry, my aunt came over and gave me a hug and I cried harder and she held me. Grandma said he’s a good man isn’t he, he loves you all so much. My mom came back from having talked with one of the nurses and as usual, was a cheerleader, reminding everyone to hope for the best, removing herself from that moment. I just wanted to be in that moment, allow myself the weight of the sadness of saying goodbye. I think it changed things a little for everyone. They saw a preview of what they could be doing any day now. I did it today because I am two thousand miles away and I wanted to look him in the eye and be truthful about what might be.


SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24, 2008 - Caring Bridge
Dear Family and Friends,
We are very sad to tell you that Sunday evening,
after a seven month battle with cancer,
the angels came and guided Hank home to heaven.
Hank's passing was very peaceful.
Please continue to keep all of us in your prayers.

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Vintage Vag - Same as It Ever Was

This is a vintage ad for Lysol brand douche. Seriously, I'm not even making this up, Lysol used to make douche. Yes, the same Lysol that you may or may not clean and disinfect your floors with. How dirty are your nether regions if you have to get the Lysol out? Or maybe, just maybe this is yet one more way to keep a bitch down. Ladies, take it from me because I know(remember I see a lotta cha in my biz), your 'ginas don't need Lysol.


Husbands, do you want your wives to be feminine? Ladies, do you want to try Demure so you can discover how completely feminine you can be? Do you want to freshen your lady business? Come on, they're promising it will make you feel very special 'down there'. Special? You know what will also make you feel special 'down there'?




And I quote,
"Bidette is your assurance of all day daintiness."
I don't think I want to be assured of all day daintiness. Maybe all day sexiness or all day smartness or even all day smartassishness, but daintiness not so much.
"Keep Bidette handy and deal with a woman's problem like a woman."
So what is the alternative? Deal with a woman's problem a man's way? Try to fix it yourself and then end up making it way worse and having to call in a professional to get it done right? Or ignoring it until your wife finely gets frustrated and does it herself?
This one's called Pristeen. Oh boy. This one says to me that if you don't get that vaginal odor under control, you are going to be sitting on some beach by yourself with a book. Yes please. I'll take my vag odor cause that beach is looking pretty awesome.
"The real problem is trying to keep the most girl part of you free of any worry making odors."
The most girl part of me?

I'm going to use this as my new euphemism for my vagina.

Husband, I would like you to touch the most girl part of me tonight.

Nurse, I'd like to make my annual appointment to have the most girl part of me checked out.
Ok client x, now take off your clothes so I can wax the most girl part of you.

Seriously, I am going to try to work that into a sentence at least one a day.
Now if you think that as women, we have moved past the idea that our vaginas are somehow dirty, or broken or require anything more than a gentle cleansing in the shower or bath, think again.
Exhibit A

Female Total Odor Control
Availability: Usually ships in 2-3 business days.
Item #: FEM-D
Price: $17.95

Product Description
12 inches long Round and curvy, sleek Feminine odor control Now we have a pad designed just for you. Neutralizes odors with our exclusive activated charcoal cloth material. It will last several weeks - depending on usage Ultra-soft Washable and reusable Comfortable Highly absorbent Very Thin Details:1 Pad and 10 Double Sided Tape strips Instructions


A pantylineresque thing that "lasts for several weeks"? Something that requires double-sided tape near my girl bits? Pass.

Exhibit B

This one is tricky because it's marketed to be female friendly and hip. Look one's called Shower of Power. That's right girls, when your vag is squeaky clean you feel powerful.
"This unique and modern advance in intimate care, coined our Shower of Power, consists of single dose packettes of intimate waters, Spot Clean! that blend with lukewarm 'H-2-oh'(water), and is carefully monitored by our temperature sensitive "smart" bidet bottle label that reads READY. SPOT. GO. when "temperature-sweet" for that extra care down there. The result is a skin-softening, cleansing, spot-refreshing 'portable bidet'"
External water freshening, doesn't sound so bad. Look, it even comes in different scents.

citrus galbanum
geranium lavendar
basil grapefruit

Unless your husband/boyfriend/lover/girlfriend is a bee, I think making your cha cha smell like fruit and herbs is a bad idea. If anything, your guy would rather have it smell like pizza and beer than basil grapefruit.

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Hurly Burly

Well here I am, and I'm going to do the verboten, blog about blogging, well, blog about not blogging. It been a little tumultuous at the maison de formerlyfun. Most of you probably know my husband lost his job in December, along with a lot of other people. I've been in that weird purgatory place, feeling like it's not terrible yet but it's not great and we're not moving in any direction-just stuck. I've also felt like we were sitting squarely in a big vat of quicksand, one false move and we'd be sunk.
Then there was the adjusting to my husband home everyday and stressed and disappointed and having the small crises of confidence that come with not being able to find a job. He looked everyday. He took on job hunting as his job. He had four different recruiters looking for him, he had word out to a bevy of friends and past colleagues. He looked daily at Monster, and craigslist and every other place he could post a resume or search technical listings.
He was asked to take technically difficult tests before he was even granted an interview. He was asked by the recruiters to tweak his resume for each company, highlighting or making more prominent his experience or feigned experience in the area of development they were looking for. He researched and prepared and dressed for loads of interviews. Ah, the anxiety of the first date.
I fought the urge to tell him how to do stuff more times a day than I can count. I felt guilty that the economy was taking a toll on my own income already reduced from a year of part time work after our last child was born. Fifteen years of hard work, good solid income and now I felt powerless that I couldn't shoulder more of the burden. I felt like somehow I should be able to pull more of the load so there wasn't so much pressure on him to take care of us all.
He told me he felt stupid sometimes, like he didn't know the things he should, that he wasn't up on the technology he should be. Never mind the jobs being posted were the ones companies were having a hard time placing because only a very small set had the specific mix of technical experience they wanted. Never mind that employers had stacks of resumes for single positions and were in positions to do some extreme cherry picking. Never mind the industry is constantly evolving, learn something and it's obsolete--on to the next thing. Never mind that the hubs has ramped up quickly and succeeded every place he's ever worked. I told him he was great, reassured him that all of the people he had previously worked with and for thought he was great. That even if he took a job and failed, we, his family, the people who love him would always think he was great.
I would tell him offhand that I wished we could go out for dinner because we had preemptively tightened our belts not knowing how long it would take for him to find work. He'd apologize for us not being able to go out to dinner. I didn't mean it like that I'd say, I just wish we knew what was going to happen and I don't feel like making dinner. I would lament that I felt like I wasn't pulling my weight, that I was expecting him to shoulder the burden of taking care of all of us. Don't be silly he'd tell me, we made this decision as a couple, we both decided someone needed to be home with the baby the first two years-it was, it is important to us. You had the job that had more flexibility, an easier transition back to full time-- it made more sense for you to stay home.

We took turns falling apart. We took turns telling the other that everything would be ok. We've had parents, step-parents, grandparents, aunts sending us extra Christmas money, money for no reason at all, gas cards, gift cards to take the kids for dinner, well wishes, pep talks, prayers, and offers of help, reassurances that we have more family support, emotional and otherwise than we could ever need. I have to admit, this has been really hard. And yet, I think we have been doing great, rolling with the punches, staying positive--most days.
Hubs got a job last week. The salary is for half of what he was making. But as he so enthusiastically pointed out, 50% of what he was making is better than 0% of what he was making. There are a host of other jobs in the works, all of them in the normal range of what his job typically pays. He took the one job knowing he was going to have to keep looking. The job was an interim job to slow the bleed of our savings. It's a hard thing to take a job you know you are leaving. My husband is the most loyal and considerate person I know and even he agreed that in this economy, the niceties of not accepting a job you had no intention of keeping were a luxury.So, most of my mental energy has been all hurly burly for a while. We're ok, but my energy and creativity has been drawn inward, taking care of us and figuring out what comes next. I am definately a glass half-full person but I am also a person who likes things settled, figured out. Until that happens, I am in a constant state of motion, trying to figure out where we'll end up, confronting my worst fears, trying to prepare for the worst, contemplating the worst so it can't sneak up on me--it's a terrible mental habit. So I'm here, and I hope that in acknowledging my 'dry spell', I jinx it and get my mojo back. Until then, and in between holding my breath, I'll pop my head up from time to time.

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She Got It From Her Momma

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Not only can my bebe walk, she can walk in HEELS!

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I'll Fly Away

I wish I would have paid more attention when we sat at that old round formica table as she pushed her pictures towards me with her thin, unbelievably soft hands. I remember her telling me they were a group of friends who got together to hike. Those pants, are those what are called jodhpurs I wonder now looking at them. Whose piano was that? Were they friends with some rowdy boys in a band. Had she been one of those girls, the ones that balked their old country parents and wore pants anyhow? Maybe she smoked and drank and flirted and got bawdy. I know my grandmother frequented the dance halls of the day, she must have too. I wish I had paid more attention because this group of girls looks hardly different from my own group of girls. The funny one, the pretty one, the shy one...all sharing secrets. Where did all these girls go I would have asked her. What did they do and become? She is the one in the very middle. Yes, the one with the silly pointed hat.

Who took this picture I think whenever I look at it. Where were they going all dolled up? Was this outside of a church after services or in front of a train station waiting for someone's boyfriend?

This is my favorite picture. Look at the hair nets, the trouser pants. If they were wearing bras, they weren't the standard bulleted ones of the day. Maybe they took them off because they were far from the watchful eyes of men or mothers,I bet they still had clean underwear on. Those cameras in their hands, where did they get them?

I wish I had asked more questions instead of scanning the pictures while I ate the cookies and deviled eggs she'd made for me. Don't get me wrong, I loved the pictures and it meant a great deal that she gave them to me, to keep some of her memories of her youth. I just wish now looking at them that I knew more about her. The her that was still at the beginning of her life.

She died last week, my Aunt Fran. She was in her late nineties and it was time, maybe even beyond time so there weren't too many tears to go around. Still, she is loved. She was a very devout woman which is part of why I wonder so much about the young woman in the pictures. I always thought of Fran as my living guardian angel. She and my Uncle Tony had been unable to have children so my mom and her siblings and the rest of us kids were her surrogates.

Fran had this incredible knack for sending me a note with one of her saint prayer cards and a check at the precise times I needed it. No one told her, she just knew. My used car in the shop again just a few weeks after the last repair and there it would be, a card envelope with her Florida return address. She was generous and kind and I was always grateful for those small reprieves from the consequences of poor student life.

When I moved to California, she sent me prayer cards for those living alone,those living far from family. I am not Catholic but I'd read them knowing she was thinking and praying for me, always on my side. She even would call me laughing telling me she was praying for a husband for me. She was hoping I'd meet someone from Wisconsin so I would move back home. This coming from the woman who moved to Florida far from her own family. She always held one of my hands when I'd see her and talk to her. She had a glint in her eye just like my Grandpa, her brother, did. She'd hang on to every word of my stories, she'd laugh at my mildly off-color jokes.

I liked Fran as much as I loved her. There were more than fifty years separating us but I connected with her, felt like we had things in common I would only recognize later. I knew her well but I still wish I'd known her better.

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The Magnificent Feats of Five

My daughter turned five this weekend. She got her favorite breakfast(donuts), her favorite dinner(Mac, Spagettios,pizza and lots of fruit). Then she ate about seventeen cupcakes. Then all my kids played dress-up with her for like three hours. I was able to convince the boy that the gold tiara looked "kingly". Haaaaahaaaaaaaa, I'm showing this to girlfriends later.




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Standing Quietly Elsewhere

I am not a person who is self-actualized, not even close. Some days I like to think I am, especially when I've done something I'm especially proud of or overcome a hurdle that's challenged me. Or when I have set aside my own agenda to do the right thing or taken a deep breath and allowed the reality of something to change my perspective.

I have a friend who fancies herself at the end of her process, this journey that is being human and trying to figure out what it all means and get it right. She frequently talks about how so and so doesn't get it, oh, she's a new soul, she'll say, she's got her own stuff to work out, usually with a lilt in her voice that says she's way past that. Comments like these make me want to tell her that only a new soul would call someone else a new soul. Only someone with limited perspective would think they could judge someone else's place on their path. Not that I ascribe to the new soul/old soul tenet anyway.

So I don't consider myself an expert in much besides a meticulous Brazilian wax, a perfectly shaped eyebrow or a homemade roasted tomato pasta sauce. Being in my line of work and probably my natural personality, I give advice quite a bit. I have sound judgement, especially when dealing with things I don't have a stake in, like my clients lives outside their time with me. I give advice not from a place of perfect wisdom but from experience, my own mistakes and insights that have put me squarely where I am today, which is a pretty good spot on most days and my near constant observation of others. I'm rarely emphatic about this advice and more often than not, I'm just an uninvolved person to listen to what someone can't or won't tell anyone else. I guess I'm a little like a blog that way.

I get the normal female conversation and then I get some real doosies(god that sounds like a word an old lady would use like, Madge that's a real doosie right there I tell you.) I'm one of the first people to know about a married woman's affair. Usually she hasn't told friends fearing judgement, so who can she tell but the woman primping her for her lover? I'm often told of fledgling pregnancies before even families know because it might be pertinent to treatment, in the same way a woman will tell another doctor or her dentist, just in case something is verboten. I'm also told sad things like one of my clients who was heavily scarred across her groin and abdomen. She no doubt realized that I would look at the deep slashes in her flesh and wonder what happened. She told me she didn't talk too much about it but that several years back she was a mental health nurse at a corrections facility when she was attacked. She also told me that she now runs training exercises a few times a year on how to avoid such attacks. I am forever amazed at the resilience of people.

Anyway, this is the long set up to talking about a person who has been on my mind lately. She is a client/friend I no longer see but hear about in passing from a few of her friends. She is a woman in her early thirties. She is beautiful, no stunning and talented and terribly, horribly broken.

Her parents were heavy drug abusers, they didn't make sure there was food in the house or electricity much less meet the emotional needs of their children. There is a long history of sexual abuse in her past, her own struggle with self-medicating with drugs and alcohol and a choppy adulthood filled with bad relationships that she to this day still clings to, rocky friendships and false starts with so many of the things that are important to her. At different times there was cutting and bulimia and other self-destructive things that I was surprised she told even me.

Given where she started, she has come tremendously far. Still, her past holds her back. I remember when she told me some of the worst of it after earning my trust with the more typical woes of childhood.

"Do you have a therapist," I asked her.

"Why, do you think I'm crazy," she asked me earnestly.

"Therapy isn't for crazy people", I told her, "it's for people who have come as far as they can on their own with their issues and want someone objective to help them get the rest of the way."

I told her that I had gone, hoping to reassure her that I thought it was a perfectly normal part of getting the tools to handle adult life.

"I've done a lot of research on my own, read books and stuff about abuse and how children process it, but I've never gone and talked to anyone. Do you think I should?"

"Well, I'm the wrong one to ask here because I think everyone should but I don't see how you could have all of the things happen to you that have and not need someone to help you sort it all out and work through it."

She'd come back and tell me about things being the same, the same mistakes the same bad choices the same rut of how she thought about things, herself. My therapist told me after a string of crappy boyfriends that the way I felt about myself was attracting men that validated those feelings. That even if a good one came along, I was so stuck on having been treated a certain way that I would see things through my distorted perception. Change how you feel about yourself, she'd say, and you will change who you are attracted to and how you view life's ups and downs. People are like one track on a record, the way you see yourself plays over and over again and then it's hard to move out of that groove. This friend was a good example of someone who had been so catastrophically victimized that she saw herself the victim of everything. People constantly wronged her, small slights were seen with a magnified intensity, hurts were experienced viscerally.

She connected with men who's history whispered, no screamed, that they would never be able to give her what she'd need and then she'd gasp in wonder months later when it proved to be true. She would try and move forward and carve out the life she wanted and then sabotage herself just as she was making progress. Each time she'd tell me her stories, I'd silently hope that she'd figure it out someday. Figure out how to be free of all the burdens her early life had given her. Free of the record that must play in her head.

She moved from the area and I lost touch with her. I miss her some days but the repetitive sadness and confusion and anger and all of it were so exhausting that truth be told, most days I'm okay with the fact that we've lost touch. And yet I wonder about her, hope that she is making her way towards figuring things out, making peace with her past and forging her own future free of all those wounds that weren't her making. She has a blog that I read now and then and I feel a little voyeuristic reading it and wonder that I still care. Somedays I wish I could talk to her, tell her how worthy she is of the work it takes to become whole again. Instead I sit on the sidelines, an invisible cheerleader.

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Why Moms Who Go Cold Turkey Off the PPD Meds Should Not Be Allowed to Make Important Decisions

What do you think the average family with:
- three kids, one of whom is still in diapers
-two cats
-one mom with a slagging business
-one daddy out of work
needs?

If you guessed another mouth to feed you'd be right!

No, formerlyfun isn't preggers, we got a dog!

I we had been wanting a dog for awhile, ever since I was like five and my mom never let me have one no matter how many times I said pleeeaase. I continually bugged my hubs about it and he was all like, "can we please not get one more thing that shits at will until the bebe's out of diapers or one of the cats kick it?"

Ok, I agreed and then went about plotting how I could get a dog ASAP. So I thought, I bet if I start out asking for another baby he'll let me get a dog. I figured if I promised him I'd take care of everything, maybe he'd let me get one. Then I figured if I softened him up with stories about how my childhood had been robbed of a loving family pet and that's why I'm not more empathetic maybe then he'd let me have a dog.

Turns out I just had to get a collar, leash and a little fluffy pink sweater(for me not the dog duh.)True to male form all it took was a little tail.

We talked about the maybedog over many family dinners bouncing names off each other.

"How about Chompers?" my son suggested.

"Kelly," my daughter shouted after meeting my friend Kelly now she wants to name our maybedog Kelly.(sorry Kelly, it's a compliment, really)

"How about sillypuppyfussypants," I said.

"What's in your pants?" my husband asked.

"You, if I get a dog." I teased.

The kind of maybedog we'd get wasn't up for discussion. My son wanted a Siberian husky but our small house with two cats paired with an exuberant working dog was not going to be a good fit. Plus I had already picked my breed when Uno made every dog his bitch at this past year's Westminister Dog Show.

Whenever we discussed our someday maybedog, it was understood that we were getting a Beagle. We'd window shop at the pet store.

"Look at the Shiba Inu," my son would say.

"No we're getting a beagle.

"Mom I was just saying she's cute."

"Beagle." I admonished him as if the word said it all.

"We could at least look..."

"Beagle."

In the quest to fill my sweet beagle longings while delaying getting an actual dog, we went to the local puppy mill for me to get a fix. We even went so far as to masquerade as an 'actual family looking for a dog' in order to score some face time with a beagle pup. All five of us humans crowded into a little room like dog jail visitation and managed to freak out this little pup with our toothy grins and wandering hands.

"Ahh puppy." we all cooed glazed eyed, a little retarded. We all lost the ability to form complete sentences as the puppy goodness took hold of our senses. All we could muster were single words and short phrases.

"Ohhh," said the bebe, her eyes wide with wonder.

"Soft," I murmured as I felt her velvety ears between my fingertips.

"Awww," cooed the big kids.

"Buddy," whispered hubs as he grabbed the dog's scruff and gave him an appreciative scratch.

When my husband(a staunch animal rights advocate and a vehement puppy store boycotter) asked how much the puppy was, I knew that the maybepuppy was going to be yeahwegotadog any day now.

"Thirteen hundred dollars," the puppy purveyor said and both my husband and I breathed a sigh of relief.

In the car my husband said, "had that dog been five-hundred bucks, you know he'd be sitting on your lap right now don't you?"

"You? You would have bought a dog from that place?"

"Puppies are like heroin Chris, no one can be just a casual user."

Realizing that hubs was actually going to just roll over and let me be pack leader on this one forced me into the position of actually having to make a decision. I wasn't used to someone telling me I could have what I wanted even though it was going to make things harder or more complicated or noisier.

"I can't believe you aren't going to say no," I told hubs a few nights later.

"I can only give you the information, you make your own decisions."

"No I don't, you're the boss of me." I told him with a completely straight face.

"When have I ever been the boss of you?" he retorted.

"Remember the other night with the collar?"

"Oh yeah." he said and I could see his mind wander off to his happy place.

"So have you decided? Are we getting a dog?" he asked.

"I'm not sure, you're confusing me by not telling me no."

"So when am I gonna get my Bagel?"(bagel what we have been calling Beagles)

"If you just said no, it would be easy", I told him," I'd just go get it and that would be the end of it ."


So I pondered. We really didn't need another expense right now but we sure could use a little levity. I didn't want to go the puppy mill route so I casually looked online fully expecting not to find anything. Much to my surprise I found a family with 2 unregistered but 100% Beagle puppies for sale. The price was nominal, probably just to keep the weirdos away and cover the basic costs of their dog getting knocked up. And they were just an hour from our house.

I talked hubs into going to look at the dog and we waited for my eight year old to get home from school.


"Mom, Dad," he came bursting in the door, "I got an A+ on my math test," he said his face a mixture of pride and disbelief.


"Hey hubs, since the boy did so good on his test, maybe we should get a dog," I threw out casually.


The boy's jaw dropped since he's been 200% on board with the whole dog idea.


"Sure, ok, let's go get one," hubs said and grabbed his keys.


Needless to say, eight year old boy thought we were the coolest parents ever and I got my dog.

Everyone, this is Lucy Bagels.


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Lucy Bagels, this is Everyone.


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