I’ve discussed the fact that I (probably) can’t have kids, and how much it sucks. I mean, I’ve mostly come to terms with it – but there is a neverending grieving process involved. I want a daughter who’ll kick ass and end up running the world. I like to imagine her, this funny, smart, brave kid – and all of the things I want to teach her. Since it doesn’t look like I’ll ever get that opportunity, I still want to share my philosophies with y’all, because they’re a damn good way to live your life and I think every child, especially the girl chirren, should have these words of wisdom spoken to them from birth.
Don’t let others define you. Your life is going to be full of people attempting to tell you who you are – they’re going to try to label you so you fit into a category in their life. The problem with that is you can start believing the labels, tailoring who you are to fit someone else, everyone else. You are your own person, you define who you are, labels are bullshit. Embrace all of the wonderful complexity of you and defy anyone who tries to simplify you – their inability to accept life fully is not your problem, don’t reduce yourself to make things easier for the unimaginative.
You make your own joy. Every day, every moment, is filled with choices – choose joy as often as you can. Don’t rely on others to make you happy, you’ll always be disappointed. But if you’re already happy, you’ll shine brighter than everyone around you. Find what brings you peace and happiness and pursue it fiercely. Encourage others to do the same. Be a beacon of joy.
Don’t hide from pain. You’re going to get hurt – physically, mentally, emotionally. Don’t let the fear of pain keep you from chasing life. You might end up with some scars, be proud of them. A scar means you won, you survived, you’re still here. Scars are never ugly. Protect yourself as best you can, but at the end of the day, take the risk for what you want. Continue reading
This blog entry will actually be about putting your damn pants on, no matter what kind of pants they may be. Plenty of people wear pants, and more often than not, those pants are put on the same way by all kinds of different people.
I am a runner. When running, my pants (or shorts) of choice are primarily made of lycra and/or spandex. This is not an uncommon selection, no matter where your gender identity lies (which is on the female scale, for me). When I run, I don’t like to have loose fabric weighing me down or creating wind resistance. Minimalism in clothing is important in running, ranging from shorty shorts in the summer and tight pants in the winter. While I am nowhere near elite status, you will see this type of clothing amongst the most decorated runners.
When I run, I am disgusting. I sweat, I wheeze, I spit, I wipe my nose on my shirt. Any sort of “ladylike” manners get thrown out the proverbial window when I run, and I don’t care. I have a mission to complete. Over time, I have added another non-ladylike mannerism to my oh-so-appealing running persona – the middle finger.
The name’s Jen and I work at a nonprofit clinic that deals specifically in reproductive issues (guess which one!). I own two cats and a dog and we all like ice cream and cheese. I’ve lived in RVA for 10ish years and lack the gumption to move but that’s not on my mind. I’m a single childless lady and all I really care about at this point in my life is where the nearest pizza is.
Trigger warning: rape
Online dating sites are sketchy. We all know that. You’d think I’d give up the ghost after my dates with not one but two ex-heroin addicts, the guy who told me he loved muscular ginger hunks, the homeless man and the fellow who only talked about tree frogs. Yet, for some reason (boredom, intrigue and self-loathing with a touch of hopefulness) I keep logging back on. At the very least I have some peculiar stories to tell.
So here we go again, I have re-activated my account and as this ain’t my first rodeo I know to expect very little. I’ve gotten some charming messages so far:
“Luv ur tat.”
“You should smile.”
“You are funny and girls are not funny.”
Anyway, it’s a fun thing to look at when you’re in between conversations at the bar. In fact, that is exactly what I was doing this weekend when suddenly the “fun” came to an abrupt halt and I almost fell out of my seat.
The man who raped me in 2011 appeared under my top matches.
You guys, I’ve been staring at my monitor for way too long trying to figure out how to say everything I want to say without offending anyone. Abortion is such a delicate topic and it’s so personal and touches so many nerves and it’s just fucking tough to discuss rationally. And I think that’s one of the reasons the pro-choice side seems to be losing everywhere. It’s a lot easier to hold up pictures of mangled fetuses and scream at strangers and to murder doctors – and to convince people that these extremist actions are needed to protect the babies. I can’t do the equivalent, there is no equivalent. So we on the choice side make carefully worded arguments and try to hold debates and sign petitions and lose the battle of showmanship.
It’s easy to throw our hands up and simmer in our rage and gnash our teeth with every new law restricting our rights and to feel just completely useless. And I don’t honestly believe that reading this post on this little goofy blog is going to convince an anti-choicer to join my side, but I can’t stay quiet. It’s not how I roll, y’all. So, I’m stealing an idea from John Oliver (which, if you’re not watching Last Week Tonight you’re missing out, it’s brilliant), I’m going to write a whole bunch about an uncomfortable topic and if you read all the way through to the end, you’ll be rewarded with a video you want to watch. Like of tiny animals being tiny and adorable. Deal? (Yes, you can just scroll down without reading, but that would be a total dick move.)
You guys, I’ve missed you!! I’ve missed writing – life has been a giant can o’ crazy this year and PYDPO has been a casualty. I apologize. I’m hoping that things will be settling and I can get back to sharing way too much personal information with strangers on the internet very soon. There have been so many things I’ve wanted to discuss with y’all recently! But every time I’ve started to write about MRAs or #NotAllMen or Rihanna’s ass, the rage has overwhelmed me and I’ve had to stop. So today I’m going to ignore all of that shit and talk about something much more important: all of my gray hair.
I turned 33 this year. I’m in the middle age zone – I’m all settled with a partner and kids, I have a career, I long for home ownership, I worry about retirement and life insurance. While all of that makes me feel like an adult, what makes me feel old is my hair. Years of slathering on Water Babies to avoid sun poisoning coupled with lots of extra collagen has left me fairly wrinkle free so far, but my roots show my age. And what used to be one here or there has turned into the fact that I’m definitely, totally going gray.
West Virginia is the most beautiful of the 50 states. I will stand by that statement forever. I am a little partial, I am from there. With all of it’s rugged beauty, fascinating history and some of the friendliest people in the country, I love saying I was born in the Mountain State. But not everyone sees the state as kindly as I do, and most really would rather pretend it doesn’t exist. Don’t believe me? Check out the national news from the last week. How much national attention was the WV chemical spill getting? Hardly anyone was talking about it. Sure there would be a random article here or there about how we need more regulations on chemical/coal mining or lots of politicians pointing fingers about who dropped the ball, but very little about the people this directly affected or about what can be done to help.
I would say 90% of my family still lives in the Charleston area of West Virginia. Continue reading
I love Christmas; it is easily my favorite holiday. Even after converting to Judaism, I won’t give it up. I have a huge family and we all love it. Some of my best memories from childhood center around Christmas. We were poor growing up, but it was the one day my parents made sure was just magical and I carry a bit of that magic in my tinsel-loving heart still. I go crazy every year – I buy all of the gifts, bake all of the goodies and have all of the fun. I get giddy over surprises and can’t act like an adult when I have wrapped presents under the tree and can barely keep from telling people what I’ve gotten them. I’m the opposite of a Grinch, which is why my rage at toy departments bums me out extra this time of year.
My father remarried after I graduated from high school and they quickly started giving me more siblings. I first noticed the gendered nonsense of the toy department at Target when I started looking for gifts for the young’uns. There are pink aisles filled with Barbies and ponies and dress up sets and play kitchens. There are blue aisles with superheroes and Legos and weapons and every type of vehicle. Then there’s a green aisle with the educational gifts, which is where I did my shopping while sneering at the idiotic gendering of children’s toys.
Seriously – if you’re a girl and want a toy at Target, you are being told you must like princesses and glitter and stuffed toys and tea parties? And if you’re a boy, you like fighting and cars and videogames and fighting and fighting and fighting (the violence of toys is a whole other peeve). That’s it! Nothing else! I mean, unless you want to cross colors…like a freak. It’s just so so so incredibly enormously stupendously seriously stupid. So, yeah, I quickly avoided the toy department completely and everyone got books (which are filled with a whole other passel of gendered nonsense, but I don’t have the time or energy for that today).
A month or two ago, I decided that I would try and do a good deed every day. I wanted to focus outside of my daily routine and really look for ways to make a difference in my community, even in small ways. Some days this is easier than others. Some days, I really have to force myself to be less selfish, which is hard, because I am a brat at heart. I think most of us are.
One of the first things I did as part of this agreement with myself was to enroll in the Be The Match program. Be The Match is operated by the National Marrow Donor Program, and is the largest marrow registry in the world. For the people who are diagnosed with blood cancers, sometimes this is their last hope for help. My family has been involved with marrow donation because of my mom, and I’m certain that many of you know or know of someone who has dealt with leukemia, lymphoma or the like, and you know how important it is in treatment.
Signing up for this is one of the easiest things you can do. It takes about 15 minutes of time to go through the questionnaire, even with the extra time I spent looking at the FAQ trying to figure out if I am eligible (tattoos, I have a cold, I am whiny). A week or two after you finish enrolling online, they send you a kit with some cotton swabs and instructions. I felt very CSI, swabbing the inside of my mouth, and then I mailed it off and that was that. Once they type you, you’re in the system and that’s that. You may never get called to donate. You may get called upon in twenty years or two weeks. You may be the last hope for someone’s life. That’s such an incredible help to so many people. About 1 in 540 people go on to actually donate. It’s like the most do-gooding lottery ever.
There is a ton of really helpful information here and you can read success stories, FAQs, and sign up all in one place. Honestly, twenty minutes out of your life to help save another is one of the easiest choices you can make, and that is definitely something to feel good about.
Located in Loudoun County (VA), LAWS is a nonprofit providing temporary shelter, counseling, legal services and support for survivors of domestic violence & abuse. They work to reduce the incidence of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse.
Once you get in contact with them, they will keep you safe. For example, LAWS filed a restraining order against my ex-abuser when he followed me to the LAWS offices. They aided me in finding legal resources to gain custody of my children. They referred me to social services for which I may be qualified. They offered me counseling and a spot in a support group. They gave my children presents at Christmas. They spent time with my children while I went to counseling meetings.
A series highlighting charities and organizations close to our hearts.
It’s been difficult to figure out how to write about food banks. We all know what they are. We’ve all collected and donated canned foods, usually right around this time of year. We think about hunger the most when we’re gearing up for our huge feast day, Thanksgiving, a day where Americans celebrate abundance and fortune. We think about the wonderful things in our life and in our show of excess, we make a show of helping those who have less, then move on to Christmas lists and New Years’ Eve plans.
Hunger is weird, we all experience it daily but once we’re eating, promptly forget it. We say we’re starving constantly, starving when it’s been 3 hours since our last meal. We eat until we hurt, we throw away food because we have too much, we eat constantly, mindlessly. We reach for a snack at the very first twinge of emptiness. Most of us don’t really understand hunger as a condition, as a way of life; for us it’s only an inconvenience.