Monday, July 18, 2011


On maternity leave! My little girl decided to come 2 weeks early, so my leave starts unexpectedly. There won't be any new posts here until mid-October.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Chatting about Birds, Bees & Church Trailer Thieves

My friend Ginger* in DC hosts a book club, and this month they read my book Birds, Bees, and Church Trailer Thieves. So Monday night I used Skype to join their club and answer questions about the book. It was a lot of fun!
In the course of the conversation, I mentioned the memoir I'm working on. They asked me the topic and, after a moment's consideration, I told them it dealt with my journey through dyspareunia (painful sex). This elicited the astute follow up question about my husband: how does he feel about me writing this memoir? While writing a memoir always involves consideration of those mentioned in it, my topic is definitely a sensitive one. My husband is very gracious, and likes to joke about the memoir, but that's pretty easy to do, given that we have a (excuse the pun) happy ending. And although he doesn't know it yet, as I write this I'm discovering that it deals far more extensively with my own spiritual struggles than my relationship with him.

My memoir aside, I believe that the question of our husbands and partners is one most women with dyspareunia struggle with. There's always the issue of confidentiality: is it really fair to our men to share our problems with others? Will it cause them to be viewed as weak or inferior? It shouldn't. I certainly don't look down on a woman if her partner deals with impotence. Yet, I suspect that partners of impotent men keep that secret just as assiduously as women with dyspareunia guard their secret. Is it just that our society is deeply uncomfortable with sexual problems? Or is this more rooted in gender conceptions and sexism? IE, is a woman with a sexual problem considered more "broken" than a man with a sexual problem? Certainly Botox (a common treatment for vaginismus) isn't running ads with couples in bathtubs smiling, but Cialis and Viagra ads are ubiquitous. Another point: men who are impotent are rarely (if ever) told that they just need to "relax" because the problem is psychological. Is this simply because there is a drug for this issue? Or is this because our society expects men to perform with enjoyment and women to receive without complaint?

* If you're ever in the DC area, book a massage with Ginger at Body, Mind and Sole. You'll thank me for it!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Reading through Journals

I've spent the last few weeks reviewing my journals. I'm working on my memoir, and a crucial part of that is my own words at the time, so I've been skimming all my old journals, dog earing the relevant entries. Then I transfer them into my memoir rough draft on the computer.
It's an interesting process. Quite often, I observe how my writing process brings me to serenity. Over and over I start out wailing and end up whispering.
This is perhaps why I have journaled much less since starting my Lexapro. My anxiety is now at a normal level. Of course, another factor is undoubtedly the fact that the huge issue I dealt with for so many years is now resolved.
Words are powerful, especially our own.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Mom Transition

I spent time today cleaning up the nursery. One of the tasks was to clean up my collection of stuffed animals that Clementine will inherit. So I sat down with a washcloth and commenced scrubbing. It was a transitional moment for me.
As a fiction writer, I have a vivid imagination. So if I'm handling a stuffed animal, I treat it like a real animal. No apologies here for that! But when I sat on the floor and started cleaning, I didn't treat them like real animals. I treated them like dirty pillows. And I realized, that's me thinking like a mom.
I'm not worried that being a mom will hamper my imagination. It's just interesting to observe these gradual changes in my thought process as I prepare to take on a totally new role. I anticipate that being a mother will enrich my writing in all sorts of ways.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

circumcision and other medical decisions

The Washington Post has an interesting set of opinion pieces about San Francisco's upcoming ballot initiative to ban circumcision. The opposing arguments can basically be summed up as follows:
1. Banning circumcision is blatant anti-Semitism. Oh, and it's also anti-Muslim.
2. Banning circumcision violates the First Amendment right to free exercise of religion.
1. The infant is not able to give consent to circumcision.
2. The practice has no benefit and is comparable to female genital mutilation.

My thoughts: First of all, anyone who thinks circumcision is comparable to FGM doesn't really know much about either practice. Circumcision occurs in sterile conditions, is practiced by professionals, performed within a month of birth, involves removing a small piece of skin, and does not result in permanent damage (of course there is always an exception). FGM occurs in all kinds of conditions, sterile and filthy, is practiced by a random assortment of people licensed and unlicensed, performed at puberty without anesthesia, involves direct removal of portions of the clitoris and minor labia, and very often results in permanent damage. In addition, at least 2 types of FGM require further "surgery" to allow for sex and childbirth, when the sutured major labia are cut open with a knife to allow vaginal access. No circumcised male EVER needs further surgery to have sex. The ONLY similarity between circumcision and FGM is that the end result is surgically modified genitals.

My second thought is about vaccinations. People are allowed to refuse vaccinations for their children. This refusal is a public health threat and can be disastrous for the child's health. (Just check on the long term effects of measles, mumps and rubella). Further, this refusal is not based on any religious grounds - it's based, in large part, on a set of studies that have been proven false. One could easily argue that the decision to vaccinate has a much greater impact on a child and on public health than the decision to circumcise. So why is the religious decision to circumcise being persecuted if the decision to avoid vaccinations completely is protected?

What are your thoughts? Is circumcision a valuable religious practice or an outdated ritual that needlessly mutilates the penis? Why should it be banned, or not banned? What about infant ear piercing? Is it comparable? After all, it's an unnecessary procedure done without the infant's consent that isn't reversible...

Female Chauvinist Pigs

I just finished reading an excellent book about feminism called Female Chauvinist Pigs. In the book, Ariel Levy takes a look at the feminist movement and the current culture of raunch that devalues women and yet is used as an example of feminism in action.
It was a very good read, eye-opening in some respects, and I think an important read. I am very uncomfortable with porn, stripping, and our culture's continued objectification of women, and I have big trouble with people who defend this by saying it's an extension of feminism. This book gave me the arguments I need to explain my position. I'm definitely going to re-read it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I feel sorry for Jesus

Last night I lay awake in bed, feeling Clementine do aerobics in my womb. She was stretching and poking and running in place, pushing out and drawing back, a little whirling dervish. And I felt sorry for Jesus. Because Jesus never got to experience a baby in His belly. He never knew the wonder and awe of having life, pure unique life, inside His own body.
Taking a bigger view, I'm not saying that God doesn't know what pregnancy is like. If anything, pregnancy is a great argument for God's femininity. The Creator God surely understands intimately what it is like to carry life. How could She be omniscient if that weren't true? Yet, as far as we know, She has never experienced this corporeally. Because the only time God has put skin and flesh on is in Jesus, and Jesus was a man. And so I return to my original thought - I feel sorry for Jesus. Because this is truly an experience worth having.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


I was enjoying the hammock on our screened in porch this morning and watching our cat, Duchess, run around. She loves the porch. She jumps up onto the studs and climbs the screens, getting as high as she can to watch the squirrels and birds. She dashes from one corner to the other, intent on her prey. At one point, after dashing to the door to chase a bird on the other side, she stopped and licked her back paw. The intensity with which she licked that paw really struck me. Everything she does is intense.
Watching her reminded me of how kids and babies sleep: with intensity. You know what I'm talking about. The photo of the child who didn't quite make it to bed, one leg dangling above the floor, the upper body collapsed in slumber. The baby who settles into sleep and stillness so intense that you wonder if she is still even breathing. Or the baby whose breathing is so quick and intense that you can practically feel the focus he has on sleeping. It almost seems wrong to call this type of sleep relaxation.
I have been experiencing a different kind of intensity. My intensity is inwardly directed - a full focus on my womb and what is happening there. My body, soul, and mind have let go of any outward intensity in order to create the life within. Writing is no longer a priority for me; work is enjoyable but not urgent; cooking and housekeeping have completely fallen off the radar. All that matters is the life I nurture. I know this is temporary. It is a truly odd state, one that I back away from and observe with dispassionate curiosity. I know that my priorities will continue to shift; that my passion for writing will return. Until then, I focus on her.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


There is no update. However, I don't want to leave my blog neglected for too long. Suffice to say my personal life has gotten very full, and so this blog has taken a back seat for a time.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Could(n't) Care Less

I grew up thinking the phrases "could care less" and "couldn't care less" were equivalent in meaning. I know that logically, they are opposites. But I assumed it was an idiosyncratic thing. Am I wrong? Do I care?
Love to hear your opinions!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Easter has passed, and with it my biggest event of the year at work: the Good Friday Prayer Vigil. It's been a busy few weeks, and my time off has been limited. Now I'm sitting at home, watching Clementine poke my belly. This is my writing day, so I will spend some time writing today, but not yet. First I will treat myself to relaxation. I've read my blogs, supervised the install of a closet system in the nursery, and am heading towards a nap. Then it's a long delayed trip to the chiropractor, hurrah! And possibly a trip to the library as well.
I've been uninspired lately, although I have been writing. I have Baby Brain, so most of my life is very uninteresting compared to the life I'm creating within. And that's OK. My writing career is not on a timeline.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

My friend's blog about gay vs. homosexual

It's not just semantics, is it?
Hugh Hollowell published this blog post recently, about how the term "homosexual" is perceived by the gay community. There's a lot of pushback in the comments, some saying that they use the word out of ignorance, or an attempt to be respectful, others saying that it's all individual preference, etc.
I was looking through the news today and noticed this: Kobe Bryant is getting a lot of press for using the word faggot during a game, as an insult. The media is choosing, almost universally, to call this a "gay" slur, not a "homosexual" slur. If the media uses this term, perhaps the rest of us should catch up?

Note: I'm not making a comment about Kobe Bryant's actions or words. I'm just observing that perhaps the word "homosexual" isn't just offensive, it's also outdated.

great post

Monday, April 11, 2011

women's clothes, again

France bans veils
OK, I understand why France decided to ban headscarves and veils. I get that they consider it degrading to women and a security risk. I also understand that many people consider this a cultural assimilation issue: as Muslims assimilate, they should discard their cultural customs to fit in with France cultural customs.
But I'm not comfortable with a blanket ban. Let me try to be succinct in explaining why.
1. Men make up the majority of the French government, which means that men had a larger voice in this decision which affects the clothing of women.
2. Not all Muslim women are forced to wear a veil: many Muslim women enjoy the modesty and privacy afforded by headscarves and veils.
3. While security issues are certainly a valid concern, this law goes far beyond security issues: how is it a problem for a veiled woman to walk her children to school, or to a park, or to go shopping?
4. The cultural assimilation argument shows a lack of understanding of healthy assimilation, which ultimately ends up with the minority culture being accepted. Assimilation is a two way street. I mean, does anyone seriously regret the fact that Italians chose to continue making their own food, even when American officials pushed them to eat an American diet?

At its most basic and simplified: I see this ban as an attempt to make women dress according to the desires of men. True freedom and respect would allow women to choose their own clothing, veil or no veil. If there's a security concern, then sure, require a full face photograph. At that point, it is the woman's choice whether or not she will comply - if she chooses not, she will forego the privileges of a full face photograph ID. But it is still her choice.

And yes, I also think that Muslim men should not require Muslim women to wear veils. It's just a shame that the French government is trying to do the same thing that the Muslim men are: make women dress according to THEIR customs.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Want to stir up Facebook? Try women's clothes!

My Twitter feed is tied to my Facebook page. Generally my friends respond to a fairly high percentage of my tweets. But last week I tweeted about swimwear for little girls and started a long and, at times, intense conversation!
It strikes me that it is much easier to discuss an issue like sexism when we deal with seemingly inconsequential matters, like clothing. I'm very pleased that my last post, talking about sexism and rape, got some comments (Thanks to Wes and Rachel!). But I wonder if talking about sexism and clothing might be a less daunting topic?
So, let's talk about it!
I'm a feminist, and I'm soon to be a first time mother of a little girl. I'm thrilled to be having a daughter, and I confess that I have already bought very girly clothes for her. I plan to give her headbands, and cute shoes, and a purse if she wants one. I have a whole box of dress up clothes and a fabulous doll house that I hope she will enjoy one day.
I know I can walk the line of teaching her to be feminine without teaching her to be weak. But that's a pretty thin line. Especially given that I'll be battling most of American culture and media...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Rape is assault, not sexuality

Washinton Post story on rape
Cleveland Rape case
East Coast rapist

What do all these stories have in common? Besides being disturbing to read, they all classify rape as a sexual act. Why is this an issue? I think that when we label an assault as "sexual", we change how we consider it and prosecute it. The real problem is that rape is not about fulfilling a healthy sexual need. It is not about desire, lust, or love. It is about power, humiliation, and sadism.

Consider this: If I accused a man of poking my eye out with a knife, and there was medical evidence to back this accusation up, would anyone say I wanted that to happen? Would anyone ask what I was wearing? But if the same man poked my vagina with a knife, my clothes would suddenly have relevance. If the tool was a penis, my intentions and desires would suddenly have relevance.

Rape is assault with a sexual organ. The term "sexual assault" is, in fact, accurate. But I think it does damage our ability to understand the full impact of the crime. And I think it adds an element of sexism to the discussion. Consider priests who sexually assault altar boys. Does anyone say "Well, that boy looked like he was 18 at the time." I don't think so. But if the priest assaulted a middle school girl who had finished puberty, then that's exactly what would be said by someone. Just read the articles about the Cleveland gang rape of an 11 year old, who by all reports, "looked" older than 11.

Mixing up sexuality with rape, sodomy, forced fellatio, and other acts of abuse bring sexism and victim blaming to the table. What's the answer? I'm not sure. Let me know your thoughts!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Permission to do what?

I love my gynecologist. One reason I love her is that she allows me to insert the speculum during my Pap smear. Yeah, you heard that right. I get to insert the speculum.
Now, setting aside the question of why I would want to do that (short answer: control freak), this is something I've shared with other women. Almost universally, they react with astonishment. "You're allowed to do that?" Well, sure, why not? It doesn't take a medical degree to insert something into one's own body. It's not like I'm doing the actual Pap smear: once the speculum is in place, the gynecologist takes over. But it seems like I'm doing something forbidden, something that not all doctors would allow. Why? Why should a doctor object? After all, I'm a lot more familiar with my vagina than any medical expert - I know best how to insert items, to be blunt.
Why don't we feel empowered to take charge of our medical care? I think part of it stems from women's general discomfort with our genitalia. (Obviously that's a generalization that doesn't apply to all women). We go to the gynecologist and try to pretend that nothing is going on. Most of us hide our underwear in the middle of our other clothes (don't you? be honest!). We hate the whole procedure, worrying about our appearance, what the smell is, etc. I have yet to meet a women who truly enjoys looking at or interacting with her own genitalia. Even masturbation is cloaked in shame and secrecy - something that "nice girls" don't do.
I think the other piece is that people tend to defer to doctors as authority figures who know everything. It goes without saying that they would be better at inserting anything anywhere. I mean, we're not allowed to take our own temperature at the doctor's office. We forget that we are the consumer: we can refuse treatment, fire our doctors, etc.
So I say, take back your power! Remember that while a gynecologist may know more about vaginas in general, s/he doesn't know more about your vagina than you do.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Give Me Back...

Last week my memoir class (courtesy of Alice Osborn) had an exercise. The beginning phrase was "give me back" and the exercise was to expand that to 3 pages. I thought it sounded intriguing, so I got going on it, and boy, was I surprised at what came out!
My memoir deals with the very personal topic of dyspareunia (painful sex), and my own struggles with that. I've journaled a lot of very emotional stuff, but it's not quality writing. It's mostly just emotional vomit. This exercise gave me the structure I needed to put some of that passion on the page in a literary way. I was able to go into some of my journals and incorporate some of those raw feelings and thoughts.
Writing about my feelings during that journey is the hardest challenge I've faced as a writer. Part of me just doesn't want to go back and think about those tough times. Yet that's where the real heart of my memoir will be found.
I want to share my struggle in order to help others, and I know that sharing my feelings, as ugly and raw as they were, is part of that.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I love to procrastinate. Maybe. I feel stressed out by the fact that I'm currently procrastinating, yet I do it over and over. My actions indicate a conflict with my emotions. Interesting concept. Perhaps I should dwell on this concept and write a lovely essay piece on it all morning. Which would nicely fit into the things I'm procrastinating.
1. I need to review the latest contract from Booklocker, my book publisher.
2. I need to respond to the author of a blog who wants to publish my guest post.
3. I need to edit the story of a member of my writing group.
4. I need to clean out my email Inbox.
5. I need to get ready to have this baby.
Actually, number 5 is currently just another procrastination method, since I still have 4.5 months to prep for baby...

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Writing Memoir

In addition to my novel, I'm also working on a memoir. Yeah, I know, I tend to bite off more than I can chew...
Anyway, I'm currently taking Alice Osborn's Memoir class, and it's great! It's really helping me think through the memoir format and start generating content. I recommend all of her classes and activities - learn more here.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Query Letters

My goal is one query letter a week. Today I'm working on my query letter draft. Ugh, there is nothing like a query letter to render a good punch to your ego's gut. I have to be humble, yet promote my book. I have to be engaging but not cutesy. I have to be professional but not boring. Sample letters are not terribly helpful, as they generally contain blatantly obvious faux pas. (How does one make faux pas plural?) So I'm just going with it, writing down my first thoughts and planning to revise, revise, revise.
I know that I need to increase my rate of letters. If I were sending out a letter a day, I would have less time to stress. Additionally, I wouldn't feel as if each letter were a precious seedling that MUST produce results. Instead, each letter would seem like a small seed, insignificant on its own, but in combination producing a lovely garden.
Well, once I get the perfect query letter written, I'll be all over that. Right?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Superbowl XLV Halftime Rehearsal Review

The rehearsal for the halftime show for Superbowl XLV was really quite good. It was a full dress rehearsal, complete with lights, dancing, and full sound. Well, not completely full sound. It was clear that the sound booth techs had a few wrinkles to iron out. Fergie's mic wasn't on when she first starting singing, and then she consistently drowned out the other music. The techs will need to make sure they're on their game for the actual performance. Then Slash was painfully quiet - while it was nice to see him, I sure would've liked to actually hear his performance. Fergie did a nice job standing in for Axl Rose - not sure if he was coming later or not. I hope so, because to sing that song using Slash and not Axl is just a little weird. Oh, and I couldn't hear Usher either. I'm sure they had all those little sound kinks worked out by the time of the actual performance.
Moving on, the dancers in their lighted costumes were a very cool effect - kind of like watching Tron Legacy, but live and without light cycles. I especially enjoyed the hearts they formed. Unfortunately, the lights in the letter "V" were not working for the rehearsal - something I assume the techs will fix before the actual performance. It was a little distracting, because it looked like the word was "L O I ' E" rather than "L O V E".
All in all, the dancing was quite good. The singing was quite possibly good, although difficult to hear. Really, a very respectable rehearsal.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Paramount Pictures Secret Deal Exposed

The world was shocked this weekend when CCTV, the Chinese controlled media outlet, used a clip from the movie Top Gun in "news" footage, claiming it was actual footage of their fighter jets shooting down an F5. The clip. The Wall Street Journal did a frame by frame comparison which shows the true origin of the footage.
Now this reporter has an update to the story. Based on an interview with an anonymous source, Paramount Pictures, the distributor of the movie Top Gun, recently made a secret deal with CCTV and at least two independent news conglomerates. Under the terms of this deal, when news stations have a story without compelling footage, they are licensed to substitute clips from Paramount Pictures movies.
Anticipated movie clips include scenes from the following:
Scenes from Star Trek when discussing weapons of mass destruction (the collapse of the planet Vulcan).
Scenes from the movie Iron Man when discussing the war in Afghanistan.
Scenes from Napoleon Dynamite when discussing local zoo events (footage of llama and liger).
Scenes from Deep Impact when discussing the possibility of a meteor hitting Earth.
Scenes from the Titanic to be featured in an upcoming History Channel Special.
These are just a few of the ways that news stations intend to enhance their video offerings. So stay tuned, old releases may be coming to you on your local TV station!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How much to share?

As I look at my life in terms of whether I'm living carefully or boldly, one thing that stands out is my reluctance to openly express my views. This encompasses a wide range of views, but most of them are either controversial or potentially controversial. From my political vote, to my views on abortion, to my views on sex, I prefer to keep my mouth shut.
Am I being wise or a coward?
There are arguments either way, but I'm not going to get into those. Everyone has an opinion and arguments rarely convince.
Where do I want to be public in my support? What causes are worthy of me making a definitive stand?

Sunday, January 23, 2011


I started taking Alice Osborn's memoir class this week. We've only had one session, but I enjoyed it.
I'm writing a memoir, a very personal memoir, about the 6 years of my marriage. I'm not quite bold enough to announce the topic yet. However, while I have a few pages written, and a table of contents, I'm looking forward to this class helping me organize my thoughts and write something coherent and valuable. Right now my draft is mostly a bunch of rants strung together. (Oh, and not rants about Dale).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Goal Setting

One of my Defying Gravity goals will be to post two entries to this blog each week. After all, what's the point in talking about taking risks if I don't put myself out there in some form?
So, given that it's Wednesday, here's my FIRST post of the week.
Today my coach and I discussed affirmations. We also talked about allowing things to be imperfect. I gotta tell you, both of those things rate pretty highly on my cringe factor. You know, the whole-body cringe, which can go all the way up your face, when you contemplate something utterly horrific. For me to sit and say that I can do something imperfectly and it's ok causes that whole body cringe. And the mere thought of writing down all the good things about myself, ugh. My stomach is turning over at the very thought.
And it didn't stop there. As you might know, the full body cringe usually progresses to resistance. And resist I did. I can't possibly write down affirmations about myself. Because that might, you know, lead me to be arrogant. I would see all my superior qualities and look down on everyone else.
Do you catch the logical mistake of my resistance? No one told me to write how I am better. No one suggested I do any comparisons. Nope, all I'm to do is note the good things about me.
So, in order to defy gravity, I'm going to write one affirmation right here and now.
I am good at loving other people.

(I'm not going to bore y'all with the 20 minute head conversation that just happened there. Instead I'm going to post this quickly before I chicken out!)

Friday, January 14, 2011

Flying Free

What will my life look like as I start to loosen up the reins? What am I searching for? I'm using two methods to discover this: The Joy Diet by Martha Beck and personal coaching.
One area I've identified is that I cut back my own dreams. For example, for the last few years I've tried to put together a social justice film series for my church. The first year was great, but after that it didn't go so well. This year, I've decided to go bigger and bolder. I'm asking local theaters to host it. This will make it a ticketed event. My careful side is already trying to cut this back - to keep me from even making the initial request. But now I've put it out there, so I've got to do it!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

some things I want to get off my chest

1. Palin is not responsible for the AZ shooting. However, if she were any sort of leader, she would now be using her words to bring healing rather than to defend herself.
2. Yes, of course there were signs that Loughner was crazy and going to hurt someone. But the solution is not to be found in quick fixes. I'm willing to bet that close analysis would suggest that failed long term relationships are far more to blame in this case than political rhetoric, lack of gun control, or lack of action by acquaintances.
3. Jenny McCarthy is still defending Wakefield. In turn, her critics are pillorying her based on her past. So what? I don't agree with Jenny McCarthy, but her statements are not invalid simply because she used her body to obtain celebrity. If the worst you can say about her is that she posed nude for a magazine, then shut up. If you want to criticize the actual intellectual content of her statements, then please, speak up.
4. Did anybody besides me notice that 14 people were beheaded in Acapulco this weekend? Surely that is a tragedy equal to the one in AZ.

Sorry if this seems a little angry. I'm venting. Don't worry, I'll find my balance, but for now, I'm a little wobbly as I defy gravity.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Defying Gravity

I really like the song Defying Gravity, from the musical Wicked. I was listening to it today and I decided that it's going to be my theme song for 2011. Part of that is going to be posting my thoughts, my REAL thoughts, on this blog.
So, for my 10's of readers, here it goes. My real thoughts, found fresh here throughout 2010. I hope that as I post my thoughts, others come to read this blog. I'm afraid that some will not like my thoughts, and may never return. Alternatively, I may get some nasty comments. That's OK. I'm not saying my thoughts are correct, or true, or worthwhile. I'm open to the possibility that I'm completely wrong. Nasty comments will help me evaluate.
So let's go!