I’ve been uber hermity lately. Like, not answering my phone hermity, not going to church hermity, and curling up with books & knitting & not answering the door hermity.  I have had a rough time making plans of any sort and being around people makes me want to retreat to a less populated area. Like only me populated. Thing is, I also crave interaction. The fact that this makes no sense whatsoever doesn’t matter.

I tell myself it’s fine to practice self care but at some point I have to drag myself out of the funk and maybe interact with the world. I touch a tentative toe into the pool of the outside world. I spend an hour, maybe two, in the swirling eddies of people. I smile, I laugh. Then I succumb to the pull of my home. It’s not that I particularly like my home. It’s definitely nothing special: a broken mobile in a small town away from most people I really know that needs more and more fixing each year. I’d rather move and forget the place but it is still the place I can go where no one comes to bother and I can be guaranteed my alone time.

The world is a scary place right now. I have fears for my kiddos and for myself and for my friends. I can do nothing about most of it. But I’m slowly coming out of it.

I find that art helps. Making it. Seeing it. Just seeing that someone saw something more beautiful in this world because right now it’s dark and gloomy.

And that’s mostly the point isn’t it? Whether you think it’s pretty or thought provoking or gauche or horrifying it was thought as important enough to immortalize, to be kept, to be shown, and that’s beautiful.

I am not a great artist. I never hope to be. Any art I happen to create is mostly for my own use and to surround myself with positive thoughts.  I had more pictures in my cubicle in the first week of work than most of my coworkers have combined. I think they find it odd or at least curious. It doesn’t matter. I have to have art around me. It gives me a sense of meliorism and hope. It makes it worth leaving the house and braving those places with people and other scary things.

This world is scary. Art makes it better.

Conjectures of the Not-So-Scientific

​I generally do not have occasion to be absolutely terrified in my life. As an anxious person I’m not sure how I feel about this. On the one hand, yay no paralyzing, absolute fear from physical things that could hurt me; on the other hand I wonder if I were to have something to be terrified of, something genuinely scary, like a murderer, or a ghost, or a murderous ghost, maybe I wouldn’t be so terrified of the things I don’t think should scare me stupid.  Like phone calls. 

Palpitations commence if I even consider answering the call of the Dixie Cups emanating from my phone.  Nope.  I just allow the tune of Iko Iko to continue until the caller gives up and/ or leaves a voicemail. If they don’t leave a voicemail I assume it wasn’t important and that no one died so I don’t need to return the call.  

But let me back up a second. I’ve had weird things happen to me. I haven’t always had an explanation, but I assume it’s explained away by something logical.  (When frogs started showing up in my house I assumed they were getting in somehow and not the result of a biblical plague, mostly because I know I don’t run an Egyptian empire and because the water in my house never turned to blood.) However there have been a couple times I wasn’t quite sure what was going on and I wasn’t able to come up with a proper explanation.  

There was the time several years ago I was sitting on the couch in my living room, probably folding laundry. It was a sunshiny day and you could see the dust motes floating in the light coming through the window.  It wasn’t dark or scary or menacing but a glass mixing bowl exploded on the counter in the kitchen.  Now when I say exploded…well it sort of cracked suddenly and pieces fell to the floor. I knew I had used that mixing bowl earlier and it was just waiting for its turn to be washed while the dishwasher ran.  Maybe it didn’t want to be washed.  Maybe it said to itself, “not this time,” then laughed maniacally when it was never washed again. Of course this plan probably backfired because what piece of dishware would rather be tossed in the garbage? Maybe it was depressed? 

Perhaps there were tiny fissures in the glass that I couldn’t see.  The sunlight caused the glass to heat up and expand and that is when the bowl exploded. 

I had another thing happen to me just a couple days ago.  

Middle of the night.  Emmex was sleeping on my bed but I wanted to get up and grab a drink. (Michigan winters are dry.) Now, my room had been shut for a while.  I knew Emmex had been in with me the whole time because he had been sleeping on my hair.  When I went to the kitchen though one of the drawers had been opened and I had heard scuffling just behind the vent face.  So I knew it wasn’t my cat who had gotten out and attempted to climb in a kitchen drawer and was now struggling to get back into the proper part of the house. I really did not want to open that drawer further and possibly alert whatever it was to the possibility of a ready victim.  

I stood there for a moment contemplating what kind of creature could have gotten in and what sort of damage it would do when it dashed out at me.  I slowly opened the drawer.  There was nothing. Absolutely.  Nothing.  

It’s completely feasible that this was a squirrel or a possum or a raccoon just scrabbling beneath my trailer and it only sounded like it was coming from further into the house. But I still have no explanation and I was completely terrified for an instant. And I slept pretty well after that encounter. 

This brings me back to my original conjecture. Could I at least partially control my anxiety by being exposed to perceived threats once in a while? Sort of a scare me into exhaustion type of thing.  This might backfire as well.  While I utilize scary shows to make my mind focus on ghosts that could be plotting my death rather than worrying about an apocalypse I usually end up having pretty vivid dreams because of it.  If I “dose” myself too much then I run the risk of my imagination running away with me (it doesn’t have to do much convincing) and causing more anxiety than I had previously.  

I am also a huge fan of over thinking everything as evidenced by this too long blog post.

Detour

It’s December 23rd and I’m driving to the grocery store to pick up a few things.  My kiddos need food for the next day and I have a couple last minute gifts to buy.  Christmas music is playing through an app on my phone.

December in Michigan is usually snowy.  This December has been the usual mixture of slush, then warmer weather, then freezing temps so it becomes ice, then more snow creating a lovely sandwich of death just waiting for you to venture out. 

I’ve come over a hill and there’s a car in the median on the opposite side of the road.  The light is on and it looks like he’s just spun out in the last couple minutes. I make the decision to turn around because while it’s not icy out now it’s supposed to get bad tonight. 

I pull to the side of the road and push the button for my hazard lights then crunch through the snow (sorry new boots) to check on the person inside. The car is stopped over a road sign.  This guy isn’t having a good day. 

He’s older than me.  I’m a terrible judge of age but I’d say he’s closer to my mother’s age than mine.  I ask if he’s okay. He rolls down the window and says yeah.  I don’t see any injuries and ask if he’s got a phone to call someone.  He’s disoriented.  He has a phone. 

He steps out of the car and I catch a whiff of alcohol.  Yikes. I offer him a ride because no way am I letting him get back behind that wheel.  My original plan was to help him call for a tow or try to push him out of the ditch but that car’s stuck tight. 

A truck pulls up behind us and offers a pull out.  I say thank you thinking I could probably drop the car on the side road just across the way then drive this dude home.  After a few minutes of this second stranger digging snow out from the front of the car and hearing his unseen kids giggling in the cab he tells us the snow is too deep to get his tow rope around and recommends calling for a tow.  I thank him and tell the first guy (I’ll call him K) I’ll give him a ride.  

I ask K where he was headed and he says Grand Haven. I balk.  That’s probably a good 35-40 minute drive one way what with the storm coming. “You live in Grand Haven?” I ask. 

“No I live in Grand Rapids.” 

(Sigh of relief.) “Okay.  Give me your address and I’ll get you home so you can sleep and deal with this tomorrow,” I gesture to the car.  

K gives me the address and it’s a max of 15 minutes away. He’s slightly wobbly as he walls to my car. I turn us back the way I was originally headed and it starts to snow. 

Over the next 15 minutes he tells me he’s been going through some stuff, things have been bad and it’s a sign from Gd that I stopped to help him. I’m sympathetic.  

Yes, I don’t know this man whatsoever and it does go through my mind a few times that I may be giving a ride to an axe murderer.  Nevertheless, I see someone who needs help and I want to do what I can.

I’ve got my guard up but K is having a rough time.  I tell him I’ll get him home, not to worry at this moment, and to sort it in the morning. My mother’s voice is yelling in my head about putting myself in dangerous situations.  K starts telling me about growing up in the church, getting away from it, but trying to get back into it lately.  

15 minutes isn’t very long.  I think it’s enough to be able to tell when someone is hurting and just needs another person to listen. 

When I drop K at his home he gives me his number, profusely thanks me, offers to take me to a lavish dinner.  I decline. I’m honestly just trying to help someone. Before he leaves my car I give him the name of my church, time of service and address.   

I don’t know if I’ll ever see him again. My anxiety is on high alert from talking to a stranger but I hope he finds his answers.

I drive to the grocery.   

I’ve Got A Theory…

I sleep in awkward positions. Mostly  because I fidget often during the night but also because Emmex loves to come in and cuddle my face at the exact moment I’m drifting off. This results in much shuffling of the kitty and a large amount of purring happening (no matter how much I shove him) in the vicinity of the pillow resting area. Thus, the sleeping configuration most used is the one where I’m on my stomach, pillow clutched between arms, and Emmex sleeping as close to my face as he can possibly get. I woke up this morning and thought my arms had fallen off.

I mean, it’s not unusual if you’re in a static position for long periods of time for a body part to go numb, especially if you tense up like I tend to do. But I woke up and in my stupor could not detect the limbs which generally protrude from above my armpits and below my neck. 

Emmex was unconcerned though this would presumably affect him a great deal. How would I get him breakfast? How would I change the litter box? How would I shove him off my face in the middle of the night?! He continued purring in my ear like it was a perfectly normal morning and my extremities hadn’t  just disappeared in the dark of the night. 

Of course, my arms were and continue to be attached. (Surprise!) But then I started to wonder if that actually could happen. 

Restricted blood flow could be a very serious matter. They used to cut limbs off on the regular because of tourniquets and whatnot. This is a pretty crude method of saving a person or at least prevent them from having some rotting zombie meat stick attached to your body for the rest of your life but it’s effective.  Truly, who wants zombie arms which could go all possessed-Ash-hand on you at any moment? 

Okay, but assuming you didn’t cut off the zombie accessories and just….just let them hang there (instead of cutting them off and attaching a sweet landscaping tool like, say, a chainsaw) …your ligaments and muscles and skin flaps would eventually rot because blood would no longer be sustaining them. of course that could potentially be transformed into a cool windmill-like weapon if you spun really fast. And it wouldn’t hurt because: numb.  

I would assume the fingers would fall off first because they are the furthest away from the blood flow. It would be extremely disconcerting to be able to feel your fingers but then your shoulder just uncouples like some bad B movie special effects. So you’d start with fingers you could just flail in any general direction (not very intimidating, seriously, picture it.) and then you’d get the wobbly elbows and shoulders like some grotesque marionette.

Oh and the smell! Can you imagine the putrification of such appendages? You couldn’t go out to dinner (nevermind you have no workable hands to feed yourself) or enjoy the smell of roses or walk into one of those craft stores that have the awesome cinnamon pine cones without smelling the vile rotting flesh hanging inches from your nose.  You might be able to mask it with some really good candles or body spray but then you’d just smell like a 19 year old on the prowl and that’s not pleasant either. 

So assuming I am correct in all this (and let’s face it I usually am) and my arms had stayed numb for long enough they probably could just fall off.  I could have been slowly turning into a noxious, no-fingered monster whose sole purpose would have been to take out people with my windmill kung-fu action but Emmex just continued purring. 

Elevensies

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

This is the first line in a series of books which was to become the second religion in my parents’ house. When John Ronald Reuel Tolkien wrote that line I doubt he ever imagined it would lead to the cult following which it became. I also very much doubt he ever thought it would be one of the most famous and beloved stories for several generations to come.

My father loved The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings series. All four of us kids were raised with these stories though it didn’t quite have the following in the 80’s and 90’s that it has today. Peter Jackson took care of that. Long before it was an epic cinema series though, it as a 1970’s animated film complete with songs that you will never get out of your head. I still hear “Frodo of the nine fingers and the ring of doom” every time I think of the final scene with Gollum and Frodo in Mordor. I swear I watched the animated movies so many times. Incidentally it helped me take my trivia team to victory (thus leading to free candy from Mr. Middlebush, the science teacher) when I knew that Gandalf was the wizard from the series. The fact that no one else knew that as odd to me. I hadn’t yet realized in 8th grade that not everyone’s childhood consisted of good doses of Jesus and Middle Earth alike.

When my father heard they were making The Lord of the Rings series into a new live action movie (or rather 3 movies) I swear he was as happy as a kid on Christmas. It was released on his birthday: December 10th 2001. This was 6 months after my 9 year old sister had died unexpectedly and I think he needed something happy to cling to. Over the next 13 years we would all learn, through Dad, odd bits of trivia and the entire history of the LOTR world. Every time a new movie was announced we knew Dad would be at the midnight showing the day of release.

In 2004 he started working on a Gimli costume for the Return of the King movie premiere. He finished it once but then went back and revamped it in 2012 when the Hobbit was announced. The crowning glory, if you will, of the costume was the helmet. I mean seriously, look at it:

Those tiny triangle pieces at the back? All individually cut, painted and attached. The leather work on the side shield pieces and the helm? Hand-tooled, stamped and cut. The wood making up the basic form? Designed and cut by Dad. And this was a man who was diabetic and had neuropathy that caused him constant pain in his extremities. He hurt and he was exhausted.

But this made him happy.

He was an old shop teacher, an old engineer, who wanted to make his cosplay as accurate as possible. He used screenshots from the movie and matched his designs as best he could. He tooled leather gauntlets and greaves, a leather belt buckle and laced suspender straps. Mom helped by sewing all the cloth pieces and giving it more character than plain brown pants and a shirt. (Also by apparently getting high off contact cement when the house wasn’t properly vented. Yes Mom, I saw your comments on facebook.) When the revamp was finished (and they were both sober) I took pictures of the final product:

The midnight showing of The Hobbit 2012 at Celebration South had it’s very own Gimli. (Who is the son of Gloin, who is in The Hobbit. See? I remember these things!)

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He was tickled pink when people wanted their picture with him. He WAS Gimli at that moment and wore it again to The Desolation of Smaug.

We had Hobbit Day celebrations at Mom and Dad’s house, eating too much food, playing games and watching these movies we all loved, but Dad most of all. It was awesome to see this one thing bring so much life back to him even if it was just moments at a time.

See, in between the movies, in between the rants about accuracy between book and movie, in between the speculation as to what amazing scenes would be included in the next movie, between all that he and my mother were grieving parents. I won’t go into detail here but they had lost a child. It was unexpected. And they needed distraction.

We all cope with awful happenings in different ways. Throwing yourself into your work or religion, bottling up emotions, shopping, becoming self-destructive. My father had always been the dreamer of the couple. Mom loves fantasy but her feet are firmly planted in the real world. I think Dad was slightly less so.

LOTR came at a time when my father needed something to hang onto. Something he knew would turn out well. Evil would be defeated and the world would be right once again. He threw himself into it and tugged us all along for the ride. I never minded.

We celebrated Hobbit Day on his birthday in 2014, 6 months after his death and 7 days before The Battle of the Five Armies was released in theatres. We made hobbity themed treats and watched the first two movies in the series, which Dad had bought as special extended editions of course. We went to see the third and final installment 7 days later. I cried knowing how he would have loved it, deconstructed it, and would have informed us of any outstanding inconsistencies in the interpretation of the novel. But for that brief moment of 2 hours and 44 minutes he was with us again.

I don’t think Tolkien ever imagined his novels would do what they did for my family.

 

I sit in my rocking chair in my living room listening to the sounds of 15 playing a video game and 17 laughing at videos in his room. The ceiling fan above me turns slowly, making shadows in the plastic cover on my library book. For a second I think 17 has emerged from the cave he calls a room and is standing over me. No, it’s just the ceiling fan.

No one talks to me unless I speak first. No one acknowledges me. I get up, make tea, sit back down with my book and we three continue in our separate existences. I debate calling into work and letting them skip school tomorrow. Doing something fun. We could sit in bed, I could read them a story, we could bond and I’d feel like a better mother than I have been in the past few months. But I know they are too invested in their studies this year. I may have been able to get away with it when they were in middle school but now they know the value of not skipping classes. They know the work will be twice as hard if they miss a day. 17 has mentioned he will not stay home unless he’s puking this year.

They are not five any more. I miss when they were littler suddenly. It hits me like a slap and I can’t breathe. I stare at the back of 15’s head and wonder if I could have swallowed my own self more to make them have a calmer (better?) childhood. I was in school most of it, too wrapped up in trying to better myself, too wrapped up in trying to get through the next thing that I never appreciated them when they were tiny. I did read them books. I did take them to the zoo and on adventures. I did try to instill in them a sense of Gd and religion and a higher power. But now they are 15 and 17. This may be my last year with both of them at home. This may be my last chance to plan a family vacation before they have their own lives that get in the way of having fun. I sit and stare and listen.

I hear 17 giggle furiously at whatever he’s watching.It’s amazing what they both find and share with me. Stories about how planes are made, countries they’d like to visit, cars they’d like to drive, ridiculous videos they have found that make them laugh with abandon. Make me smile. Make me laugh. Give me memories to cling to once they have moved on.

I sit and wonder what I can cram into a year. Another vacation. More movies. Life lessons. Oh god, don’t leave yet. You’re not ready. I need to teach you more before you venture out. The world sucks. Let me protect you. I sit and try to breathe.

They are smart. They have plans. They know what to do. They won’t make the mistakes I did. My head hurts. I try to breathe.

I should probably make more tea. I should take something for my head. I should take out these contacts because now they’re scratchy and feel awful.

15 goes to do their homework. The cat stares out the window. I’m left alone in the living room listening to 17’s intermittent laughter and 15’s computer clicking. I wonder if I should get another cat.

WhAt iS NoRMaL?

There is this word we all seem to throw around willy-nilly like it’s a measure of how successful our life is. We use it as a measurement against what we consider undesirable or taboo. Like if we just achieve this thing we will be loved, accepted and our lives will be perfect. This is sooo not correct.

We use it soothe ourselves if things go askew. “That’s normal,” we tell ourselves if someone grieves for a loved one for a long time. “That’s normal,” we say if someone is questioning their sexuality or gender identity. “That’s normal,” we say if we are depressed because of financial difficulties.

The problem is that there is no normal. And when we relegate things to the realms of normal and not normal it puts a stigmatism on the latter. You can grieve for a bit but not too log because that’s not normal. You can question your sexuality or identity but if you don’t ultimately decide you’re heterosexual and the gender assigned to you at birth then you’re not normal. You can be depressed by things like losing your job or not being able to pay the bills but if you just wake up with pervasive sad feelings one day with no specific reason that’s not normal.

[Side note: Please get help if you are depressed or anxious or have thoughts of suicide or anything else that is affecting your ability to function in life. I love you and I care about you and I want you around and doing well for a really long time. Also incidentally if you have a hard time talking to people in person or on the phone and you are in a bad spot there is a crisis text line: 741741. You don’t have to get over the fear of talking out loud to a person and it’s a good resource for people, like me, who will never voluntarily pick up a phone call.]

We have equated normal with successful in our society and it’s just not true. A lot of the people I consider successful don’t fit into a traditional definition of normal. They are non gender conforming, they are severely depressed, they are so beaten by anxiety that they are nearly hermits,they don’t work a 9-5 Monday-Friday job, they have tattoos. They are all doing what they want with their life though. I doubt any of these people consider themselves normal because of what society has defined it to be and I also doubt any of these people actually think of themselves as a success. But they are beautiful.

You guys (and I say that in the most gender-neutral way possible) when we tell people they are not normal and need to conform to arbitrary societal regulations in order to be a good person or to be loved or to be accepted bad things happen.

The self-reported attempted suicide rate in the U.S. is 4.6%. Among gay and lesbian people it is between 10 and 20%. Among transgender people it is closer to 40%. Several studies have shown that rates are higher in the trans community because their families rejected them, because their workplace or school harassed and/or bullied them, because healthcare providers discriminated against them, because they suffered sexual abuse because of their non-conformity. It’s not because they are trans, it’s because of what people are doing to them and how others are perceiving their worth as a person. This is not okay.We need to stop defining things as normal and not normal because it is hurting people.

Relationships with other people are hard. For some of us it’s harder than we’d like it to be. We closet ourselves away from the rest of the world because it’s too much effort to try to be out in it. It’s too much effort to try to get someone to understand that you don’t fit the mold of outgoing and uber happy that our world defines as normal. So we don’t and as a result we become more hermity and reserved and possibly more depressed and anxious.

I am introverted.

I need a day’s worth of rest after going out but I can take pictures that make people happy

I have depression and anxiety but I can binge a show on Netflix like a champ.

I am a horrid housekeeper but I can plan an international trip cheaper than any travel agent because I research the hell out of everything.

I need a severe amount of motivation to pick up the phone but I can quote the entire movie of The Princess Bride.

I have a hard time sticking to plans I’ve made but I won’t discriminate or stop loving you because you are gay, bisexual, transgender, cross-dressing or otherwise.

I have tattoos.

I am not normal.

I don’t think I want to be normal.

We need to let people just be. We don’t love someone because they conform to an idea in our head of what we should all strive to become. We love them because they are beautiful people who make the world brighter by being in it. And we need to let them know that. The world is scary enough without us making it harder by shoving people into places where they don’t fit.

Know this: You are not alone and you are loved.

 

 

Insert Tie Pun Here

I like ties. A lot. They’re fun and there’s so many ways to change them up. Skinny ties are my favorite because they look great with everything and never overshadow an outfit like a wide tie does. I love the way I look on the days I wear them too. Maybe it’s the knot (Youtube! Alex Krasny!) or the pairing of tie & skirt or tie & knee high boots…whatever.

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Me today, fantastic tie included.

Anyway,  today I stopped for beer and peanut butter after work at the local grocery. (Stop judging me.) I really wanted to get rid of the change that was weighing my purse down so I decided I would pay entirely with coins. This is always a mistake. But here I was being optimistic because I was able to walk right up to the cash register (the one with a real person at it,  only a monster pays solely with coins at the self checkout. People chose this lane because it’s quick, Daryl!) and started counting them out while the previous person finished.

I thought I was good.  I would count my change while this other person paid and the cashier scanned my 2 things. I would be the fastest coin payer ever because I was prepared! Then stuff happened.  Another person with only 2 things came up behind me.  (Oh great,  now I’m going to look like an asshat because they thought this would be quick but some jerk lady in a tie decided she needed to pay with coins.) I start to get flustered, but only on the inside.  I’ve almost got all my coins counted out when the cashier scans the beer and asks for my ID. (No! You were supposed to scan the peanut butter first! Don’t reach past the first thing on the belt!) I had it ready and handed it to him. I try to finish counting.  Then he asks for my discount code.  (Dammit!) Okay,  I punch in my number and I look at the screen to see how much the total is. I’m about to finish counting when the chick bagging my 2 items compliments me.  In fact she said it twice because I didn’t react the first time.  “I like your outfit” she says motioning to my tie. I think I sort of turned and smiled at her. Did I say thank you?  I DON’T KNOW IF I SAID THANK YOU. The cashier is asking for the total.  $4.91. I knew I had about five bucks so I give up counting and dump my overflowing handful toward him. It registers that I am a failure at paying for things with only coins while the cashier counts my nickels and quarters and dimes (at least I didn’t use pennies). The girl is gone now so I can’t turn to her and make sure thank you comes out of my mouth. 
I leave the grocery in a mess wondering if it would be weird to find the girl and explain that I was thankful for the compliment.  I debate on the way home if I should turn the car around and talk to her.  I ruminate as I write this post of I should call the grocery and leave her a message.  (Omigosh.  Can I even go back there?!)

Plague of Frogs

You guys.

I’m living with frogs. No, they weren’t invited. Not quite sure where they are coming from but signs point to my bedroom window being the main spawning point.

Two nights ago, the sixth (or unconfirmed seventh) frog appeared around 2 am when I awoke to see Emmex chewing and drooling all over my pillow. Let me set the scene:

It’s 2 in the morning. I’ve been sleeping, but it’s hot so I raise the sash on the window next to the head of my bed. I have to be up at 5 for work. Then, from nowhere Emmex comes bounding up my bed, attacking whatever he has found and ends up in my window behind a curtain. I’m confused as I usually am after waking at the wrong time. I hear slurpy noises, the kind of slurpy noises that make you want to throw up a bit. I’m scared but I pull back the curtain slowly and Emmex emerges foaming at the mouth. He chewing…something. It’s pitch black and I only have the dimmed light from the screen of my phone to see. I’m afraid to look away because what if he throws up on my bed? Then I’d have to look for kitty puke in the dark and avoid it while getting out of bed to get cleaning supplies. Ew.

He doesn’t throw up. He keeps chewing but now it’s dripping on my bed, my pillow and a bit on me. I push him off the bed and brighten my screen to see if there are any parts of his snack on my bed. He’s still chewing and drooling on the floor. I’m exhausted and push my drooley pillow to the floor because I can’t get out of bed right now. But then I decide I need to check the windowsill for snacky parts. There’s a rather large tree frog sitting on the screen. Crap. I don’t want it to jump on my face while I’m sleeping so I get out of bed slowly, trying not to scare it and also trying not to draw Emmex’s attention to the window. All I need is two frog murders on my conscience.

I grab an old plastic cup from the bathroom to catch the frog. (Word of advice: Frogs are slippery and jump quickly when caught. They also pee when they’re scared. So if you don’t want to end up with a hand full of pee instead of frog, use a container to capture your squishy friend.) I scoop the frog into the cup and start scooching off the bed again to let it go out my back door. I get half way out my bedroom when I look down and the frog is gone. Mother of pearl. I flip the lights on the room (something I had been trying to avoid because I didn’t want to be fully awake) and start looking for Mr Froggy. Emmex is looking too. This would have made a good Froggy Horror Tale.

[My brother, Josh and I would play with a ceramic frog he had and create stories with it while on car trips or when we were bored. The one we both distinctly remember was The Skateboard Massacre. This *story* consisted of a plastic Garfield figure on a skateboard and the froggy trying to cross the half-pipe. It always ended with the froggy getting squashed by Garfield. We had music and everything! We were morbid children.]

Anyway.

I finally found Mr. Froggy and kept my hand over the cup so he couldn’t jump out again. He was safely deposited on my back deck, though his safety from there is rather questionable. (We have a lot of birds.) So the story, mostly, ended.

I wasn’t able to go back to sleep for another hour. Being reduced to one pillow is rough when you’re spoiled with two. Also the thought that another frog would spawn on my window screen kept me awake long enough to ensure I wouldn’t get a squishy surprise on my face or roll over on some poor froggy in my sleep. I did not find whatever Emmex was chewing. He must have swallowed it or I’ll find pieces parts in a really remote part of my house sometime. RIP froggy.

The problem is that after 7 frogs (1 in a kiddo room, 1 in the kiddos’ bathroom, 1 in my bathtub, 1 in my toilet, 1 in the laundry hallway, and now 2 in my bedroom) I have an unwanted taste of frog in my mouth. I rinsed my mouth after brushing this morning and the image arose unbidden in my mind of a frog sitting on my faucet and getting all his or her froggy germs all over it and the water tasted funny somehow. There’s the weird inkling that since I’ve had so many frogs in my house and my allergies have gotten to the point that my asthma hates me every second of every day the frogs are now to blame for my asthma, like I’m breathing in froggy slime, for lack of a better term, and it’s clogging my lungs. I’m also constantly wondering as I drift to sleep if I’ll feel a small hop and a froggy will scare the bejeezus out of me. Or if Emmex will claw me in the middle of the night trying to catch his new snacky. :s I’m blaming this on the time I was tricked into eating a frog leg (told it was chicken but once I said it tasted funny the person fessed up). I swear to god I could feel little legs hopping around in my stomach for days afterward.

I actually like frogs. Used to play with them all the time. I was the one who would catch frogs so the kiddos could see them up close and we’d let them go in whatever wetland they had been found in. But I don’t live close to a pond. And these are frogs, not toads. And they’re getting bigger.

I’m waiting for a plague of flies next.

 

 

Revisited

Ooookaaay. Here I am again. Calmer, more collected and armed with facts rather than simply anger. I’ve done research, sooooo much research. I’ve read articles on both sides of the argument. (I wanted to puke at a few.) So as promised in my last post here is the new revised rant on modesty culture.

The heavy burden of keeping men’s minds pure that women are made to shoulder is utter crap. Please let me elaborate before you roll your eyes, mutter something about women wearing tight clothes in church, then clicking on the next cat video in your queue. I’m not saying women should wear clothing that barely covers their nipples in church. Of course not. That’s ridiculous. Be respectful of the Gd you’re coming to worship. Be respectful of the social situation you’re in whether it’s church or a funeral, visiting someone’s home, or in a business meeting. However, being respectful of your social situation is completely different than shouldering the morality of half the population of the earth.

Dressing according to a set of rules will never stop another person from lusting or not lusting. Dressing according to a set of rules will not prevent a person’s mind from dehumanizing you. And that’s what lust is. That’s how the Bible defines it (no, really). Feeling an attraction to someone isn’t lust. Lust is the self-serving sexual desire that reduces a person into an object that is only meant for your pleasure.

I’ve heard people talk about women dressing modestly so they’re not a stumbling block for men in the church. I’ve also heard the same people tell women to dress modestly so they’re not a rape temptation. This equates good men with rapists. And I’m pretty sure, no matter their mindset, that’s not what they intended to imply. Nevertheless, that’s what you say when you reduce men to sex-craving monsters who can’t control themselves unless a woman is covered head to toe in a burlap sack. Oh and by the way, rape is not a crime about lust or sex, it is a crime of power, a rapist’s power over their victim. Either way, isn’t it pretty offensive toward men to imply they can’t handle themselves so they have to leave it up to the opposite sex to be their moral compass? I know there’s plenty of guys out there who see women as people and not as evil, seductive temptresses who are only here to guide them away from the true path by showing a bit of shoulder. But there are also plenty of people (men and women) who will blame a woman for how she’s treated because of the clothing she’s wearing.

*Side note: I am aware there are many statistics about female on male rape. I’m definitely not pretending that doesn’t exist. I’m also not going to pretend that there aren’t homosexual people in the world to which the whole of this post need not apply. For the sake of this argument though I am focusing on modesty culture which is primarily marketed towards females (and promoted by heterosexual males) and it’s connection to rape culture.

Now let’s throw some statistics on this bonfire shall we?

15% of sexual assault victims are aged 12-17

288, 820 people aged 12 or older are victims of sexual assault each year on average

Does anyone think the 12 year olds included in these statistics were dressed immodestly and caused their attackers to think impure thoughts thereby leading to the assault? Good god I hope not.

Ah, but then there’s the counter argument. Time to pull out your Bible kittens. We’re doing some digging.

1 Timothy 2:8-10 : I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness–with good works.

I desire, not Gd commands. These are human words giving advice. Yes they are inspired by Gd. Yep, totally awesome to keep yourself set apart from the world and distinguish yourself from the godless heathens. However, this is not a commandment given that, if broken, will prevent your soul from being received into heaven. Paul ( the apostle and author of 1 Timothy) is saying that when you do good things you’ll look good. There’s a whole sermon in this verse I’m sure, but what it boils down to is that Gd did not say to women wear formless sackcloth or else eternal damnation awaits you.

And here’s another that goes along the same lines as 1 Timothy 2:8-10 above:

1 Peter 3:3-4 : Do not let your adorning be external – the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear – but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in Gd’s sight is very precious.

Can we agree that this is talking about placing more stock in vanity than in Gd? It’s about placing your looks above being a good person of faith. Also it doesn’t specifically call out women, so why don’t we lump men in with these modesty rules?

And another verse:

Romans 12:2a : Do not be conformed to this world…

If we look at the rest of the verse though we can see this is speaking more to the mind of the Christian than the modesty of women->

Romans 12:2b : but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of Gd, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

There’s an interesting survey of 1600 Christian guys that was nicely summed up in this article. The questions were submitted by Christian girls and some of the answers are startling to say the least.

It starts with questions about whether mini-skirts and halter tops are immodest. Not surprisingly 93.1% and 73.5% respectively agreed that these items of clothing were immodest. It slowly gets more shocking. 47.5% say wearing a strap (for your purse) across the chest is immodest. (Dear god, I just want my hands free.) 38.8% believe tights with polka dots or other designs draw too much attention to a woman’s or girl’s legs. (Wait what? I love polka dots, screw you.) Then it makes my jaw drop. 74.9% say the way a girl walks can be a stumbling block. 56.8% say a girl stretching can be a stumbling block. (I’m tired and I’ve been sitting in an office for 10 hours. I’m going to stretch no matter who’s around.) 76.5% say seeing a woman’s chest bounce while walking or running is a stumbling block. (Okay, my boobs are big. They’re gonna jiggle unless I duct tape them down.)

I think what this survey points out more than the desire for Christian men to have Christian women behave modestly (or their definition thereof) is that we aren’t teaching our men to see women as anything more than an object to be desired. We have hips! Yes there’s boobs too. My god, I have a butt! Does anyone really think men will see me as a bland rectangle if I dress according to whatever rules those same men make up? We need to teach young men that their minds are their own responsibility. Policing women will not make men lust less. Training men to see women as separate beings, not responsible for men’s morality and not as a vessel to carry the boobs or butt or ankles or hips that they desire, will create a more humanistic view of people on the whole.

Here’s an interesting food for thought question: Do we make modesty a god when we emphasize it so much we stop focusing on the more important teachings? When women are policed to the point of worrying about how they walk in front of a man it starts restricting everything they can do. Does Gd really sanction controlling women in this way?

Modesty culture teaches women that their body is only good for one purpose: to turn someone on. It teaches young women they need to stay hidden so only their husbands will see that bit of shoulder or waist that is obviously so alluring to every other man on earth. If it is a girl’s responsibility to make sure a man doesn’t stumble by what she wears doesn’t the opposite hold true: that it is a girl’s fault if a man does stumble? She must have done something to provoke it like wearing a shirt that was cut just a tad too low or wearing shorts that were way too high. If we normalize the thought that a woman can cause a man to have lustful thoughts simply by what she’s wearing then aren’t we also encouraging men to blame the clothing when they take advantage of someone?

How about this? Instead of teaching women that the morality of all men lies in their hands, we teach men that women are people and not seductive pieces of meat? It’s not that hard.

Yes, dress appropriate for the situation. No I would never wear a bikini to church just like I’d never wear a ballgown to a business meeting. I will always respect the culture and social situation that I’m in. But I’m also not going to let someone dictate what I wear based on a man’s reaction.