Help! I’ve Been Pigeonholed!

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I think that being pigeonholed is one of those things that people universally agree sucks. No one likes being cast into a one-dimensional role (except that one terrible actress amiright?). We strain against the boxes people put us into, we push and pull until we prove that box was never big enough for us in the first place. But what if the people putting you in that box are the people who know you best? The people who love you the most? What if the people pigeonholing you are your family?

Well, speaking from personal experience, it TOTALLY SUCKS. Because at least when strangers pigeonhole me, I can attribute that to not knowing me very well. But my family, my family knows me really well. Which actually might be part of the problem. You see, in my family, I’m pigeonholed as the “emotional/dramatic” one. And I’m pretty sure that like 97% of that classification comes from when I was a pre-teen and yes, intensely and overly emotional. Because of HORMONES y’all. That shit will fuck with you majorly and also being a pre-teen girl is also hard as hell. So yeah, I was emotional. And then I grew up, into an adult and though I still cry at sad movies or during Budweiser commercials (seriously, his horse ran to him…so sweet) I’m in no way defined by my emotions. They no longer dictate my choices and reactions to life. Because, you know, I’m not 13 anymore. I’m 27 going on 28 and I’m married and planning for a family and actually, not particularly dramatic or emotional. In fact, most of my friends would probably classify me as “laid-back” and “chill” because I sort of am. I can take life’s punches and ball-kicks and handle them without public tears and tantrums. I’ve been knocked down loads and have picked myself up after each time. Because I’m strong.

But regardless of everything I just said, regardless of how logical my reasoning is for being a ball of intense emotions at 13 (Again, hormones…) my family still thinks of me as the “emotional” one. Anytime I disagree with them or question the things they’re doing/saying then I’m the one being “emotional” or “dramatic”. No matter how much sense my arguments or statements make, they are eternally dismissed as “emotional”. I can say with a completely tear-free face and steady voice “I think you’re wrong.”  and invariably the response is “You’re just being sensitive. You’re so emotional.”

Now tell me, how do you respond to that? How do you bust the hell out of that pigeonhole, when the people putting you into it know you so well but only remember this tiny part of you that is long gone? Because at this point, short of becoming a robot, I’m not sure how to  free myself from this pigeonhole.

Have any of you, dear readers, been pigeonholed by people close to you? How do you handle it?

– Mae

My Wedding Fantasies Are Dark (and Filled With Newsies)

il_fullxfull.373589334_t1srWeddings are ridiculous. I’ve documented this pretty extensively so far, we can all agree. What I haven’t properly explained is that weddings also make me ridiculous. Despite wanting to keep things sweet and simple, fancies do take flight.

And, oh heavens, do I have some fancies. Unbidden, my mind conjures fabulous scenarios and decadent menus. This isn’t so much because I’ve always dreamed of a wedding, but because I love planning parties. In college, my roommates and I were known for our themed fêtes. There is a Gothic Valentine’s Day party still happening at Texas A&M, even six years after our graduation. Crazy awesome planning skills run in my veins…and, sometimes, run amok.

Grace’s Ridiculous Wedding Fantasies, Part One of – no doubt Many:

  1. I want a taxidermied mouse cake topper! Friends, these totally exist. They are adorable and macabre and the most perfect symbol of love ever. They’re also, as pointed out by my fiancé, slightly creepy to the average wedding guest. Okay, fine. Make that very creepy. The dear professor convinced me—in a discussion lasting three times longer than it should have and punctuated with my exasperated sighs over humanity’s lack of taste—that, while he thought it was awesome, people don’t like dead things near their food, even if they’re on a cute little stand that’s not actually touching food at all. So, we’ll just have a regular cake topper. Fine.
  2. I want a Newsies flashmob! To be fair, this came to me in a dream. THE BEST DREAM EVER. It went like this: We kissed, turned around to be introduced, but before the pastor could say “Mr. and Mrs. O’Kelly-McGregor…,” my matron of honor started singing “Seize the Day!” from The Newsies, signaling the beginning of an epic, twirling wedding party newsie musical number. It was awesome. So, is the song remotely appropriate for a wedding? Hell no. It’s about declaring strike on Joseph Pulitzer, but whatever. We declare strike on not being married! Let us seeeeiiiize the day!
  3.  I want a Halloween wedding! This is a thing I have always, always wanted. Halloween is my favorite holiday (costumes AND candy AND pumpkins) and it lends itself perfectly to a wedding. The bridesmaids could all wear black dresses, with different costume accessories—spider, witch, rotten carrot, etc.—and the guests could take home masks as a favor! All the centerpieces could be carved pumpkins! We could serve butterbeer! Except, oh right, our wedding is in December. So, I’ve planned an entire party in my head that is not actually happening.
  4. I want macarons for everyone! And lemon pies! And brownies! And chocolate cake! And traditional wedding cake! And crepes! And anything else made with sugar, including tiny marzipan replicas of Professor McGregor! Y’all, I could blow my entire budget on the dessert feast I’ve dreamed up in my mind. Good food is one of life’s greatest pleasures and, if I’m being honest, my favorite part of weddings…even beyond the two people pledging undying love business. It is what I measure weddings by and what I want to be remembered for. It’s not, however, what I want to spend all of the money I will ever earn on, so I should probably cool it with the candied bearded professors.

This list of ridiculous wedding fantasies will probably grow, but as long as I don’t give into them, our brunchy food truck affair should be as low key as we’re hoping. Just keep repeating your mantra, Grace: I want it to be simple and lovely. I want it to be simple and lovely. I want it to be simple and lovely and not cost a fortune and not give into unrealistic societal expectations.

Except for the cake topper, of course. I will fight for you, mouse friends!

– Grace

Dress, Please: The Feminism of Femininity

1950s-pin-up-girlI am girly as fuck.

If you need clarification, since saying something is “as fuck” doesn’t actually fall on a measurable scale, that’s understandable. I enjoy traditionally female attributes and activities. Sewing is my jam, I’d always rather wear a dress, and my Texas sheet cake could win awards. My favorite songs are showtunes and Jane Austen is my fairy godmother. A romantic comedy doesn’t hit theaters, without me buying a ticket. I am girly as fuck.

I am also a feminist.

If your mind didn’t just explode, well done. You’re a rational human being! All too often, this juxtaposition makes people on both sides of the political spectrum itchy. How can you be a true feminist, if you enjoy traditional domesticity? You’re too pretty and happy to be a feminist! Where is your man-hating pant suit? Their faces scrunch up in painful frustration, like racoons touching an electrified garbage can, as if a feminine feminist is the ultimate conundrum. People who have nothing in common politically are united in one truth: my existence is impossible. I am no longer their favorite client or friend from high school, but a contrarian unicorn. I need to be fixed, I need to realize I am wrong.

Well, that’s a load of glittery unicorn vomit. Feminists are people and people are different. Surprise! How many times do I have to say this, world? You can’t pigeonhole people into tidy little boxes, because of the causes they support or interests they develop. I am a feminist who sews frilly, ruffled dresses all the time. I believe wholeheartedly in gender equality and baking cakes from scratch. From a feminist standpoint, I understand the impulse to eschew the traditional. For so long, we were told our place was in the kitchen, so why hop right back into it, once we’re free? Well, because I like to. Demonizing the traditionally feminine seems just as wrong as insisting we adhere to it. There is nothing inherently oppressive about traditionally gendered activities, because gender is a social construct. We labeled sewing as a “chick thing;” we determined men hate romantic storylines. Surely, we can now unlabel them?

I grew up in a house that challenged gender definitions at every turn. My dad, a man perfectly secure in his “masculinity,” cries at the drop of a hat. His favorite flick is Notting Hill and he taught me how to bake chocolate chip cookies. Meanwhile, my mother has never met a grill she didn’t love and rolls her eyes at sentimentality. She’s perfectly happy to leave the vacuuming to my dad and, instead, drink a good beer after work. And you know what? Our house never imploded.

If we removed societal constructs from activities, we’d be amazed by what people chose to do with their lives. How many boys were destined for Broadway, but are instead accountants? Things are finally changing, when it comes to women doing traditionally male activities, so why are we still demonizing the feminine? We praise women for becoming sports announcers, but give them the side-eye when they want to be stay-at-home moms. What the hell? At the end of the day, people shouldn’t be judged by their gender. Jimmy should be able to bake, if he wants to, and so should I.

gil-elvgren-pin-up-pin-up-girls-5444093-668-792Dresses are comfortable and I love them. I also love being paid the same amount as male doctors and not mopping my floors. I am a feminist and I am a woman, whatever that means. It doesn’t make me a bad feminist to curl my hair, or a good one to not care about it. I am not that simple and neither is the equality movement.

Strictly speaking, I’m not girly as fuck at all. I’m Grace as fuck.

– Grace

Will I Be A Good Mother?

This is a question most women who are planning on having children at some point ask themselves, but I never did. I’ve always wanted to be a Mom. Always been sure I would be excellent at it. I’ve started babysitting at 12, was a nanny by 15, and even taught kindergarten at one point. I’ve always enjoyed every second I’ve had around kids. Even the literally crap-filled seconds. So, no. I had never once wondered if I would be a good Mother.

Until I really truly started thinking and planning with my husband for a family of our own. It’s still years away but we are actively discussing it and saving for it. We’re talking names (spoiler alert- we don’t really have the same naming tastes), we’re talking products we will or won’t use on our children, birthing techniques, pregnancy nutrition, staying home vs. working, and just about everything else one can think of when planning for dem babays. I feel like our communication is entirely open and honest and that’s got to be a good foundation for first time parents. BUT. The inevitable BUT. For the first time ever, I’m asking myself the questions “Will I be a good Mother?”

Because it seems like no matter what course you take in “child-rearing”, (actually I hate that term, can we call it “child-raising” or “child-notfuckingup”?) they are all wrong according to someone. And since we really really don’t want to fuck up our kids, I worry. I’ve chosen to live a pretty natural/green life, but what if that isn’t right for my kids? What if they hate me for not letting them drink soda? What if they resent me for not buying them the most popular perfume because it’s filled with chemicals? What if they hate Harry Potter??? What if all the other Mother’s judge me and shame me for the way my husband and I choose to raise our children? What if my family judges and shames me for the way my husband and I choose to raise our children?

Will I be a good Mother?

That is the hardest question I won’t know the answer to for a long time.

– Mae

I’m A Green Beauty Newbie and I’m Afraid I Smell Bad

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I’ve recently thrown out all my previous staple beauty products in favor or chemcial-free, non-toxic- non-zombie creating beauty products. I believe the kids call this “green beauty”. It was difficult for me to let go of a lot of my previous beauty loves (Benefit mascara, Buxom blush, and NARS lipstick to name a few (tear) ), but after spending many long hours doing research (because I’m a nerd like that) I came to the conclusion that I had to, nay wanted to, for the health and well-being of myself and also my future babays, but since they’re ages away mostly myself.

So, I did it. I purged away all the chemicals. Not just in my make-up but in my body wash, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, moisturizers, and just about anything else I put on my skin on a daily basis. This included deodorant. Because the research on aluminum is so scary that the thought of putting it in my armpit (which, admittedly is an area of my body I don’t care that much about) was like the thought of injecting myself with some sort of zombie virus. So, I travelled the very short distance to the nearest Whole Foods (I do live in Austin, TX the WF mecca after all) and bought a deodorant that I had spent a lot of time reading the reviews of and made sure contained no nasty chemicals.

And it didn’t work. And it burned my armpit skin, which, by the way, HURTS LIKE HELL. Seriously, the “this won’t give you all kinds of horrible diseases and fill your body with icky toxins” deodorant BURNED MY ARMPIT SKIN!!??

What a world, what a world. Amiright?

So, I tried another natural deodorant. And it burned me. I did more research and tried another. And it burned me. Then, I spent an extraordinary amount of time online researching and found one that a lot of green beauty experts seem to swear by. And it didn’t burn me. And it seems to work. I mean, I don’t think I smell bad. But I am living in constant fear that I will start smelling very badly. Like maybe at a certain point it just won’t work anymore. So, I smell my armpits about 10 times a day, which is 10 more times than I used to.  And even though the stanky stank that dare not say it’s name, hasn’t happened yet, I am still afraid it will.

So, yes, I’m into to green beauty. And yes, I can already tell a major improvement in my skin. But also, I’m afraid I smell bad like everyday. So, trade-offs I guess.

– Mae

The Bridal Diet Makes Me Hungry (for Vengeance)

Wedding-Diet-500x485There is great danger ahead. The bridal magazines warn of it and dress clerks speak of it in hushed, panicky tones, as though the barest mention can summon its cream-filled wrath. It is the monster they call fat and it’s the quickest way to ruin a wedding.

I know what you’re thinking. But, Grace, I’m happy with my size! Dr. Swoodilypooper fell in love with me just as I am, so why change now? Don’t ask me, dearest. Personally, I think you’re the bee’s knees and should stay as you are, but I do not make the wedding rules. If I did, there would be more elephant rides. Unfortunately, the wedding industry is against fun and your body. You are a bride, so you should lose weight. It’s in all the literature!

As soon as you get Facebook engaged, that paramount sign of commitment, you’re inundated with wedding ads. Photographers, venues, and DJs all want your money to help with your special day. None, however, seem more concerned than the personal trainers. Look perfect on your special day, they promise. Don’t you want to be a shiny, happy wedding princess? Well, princesses aren’t a size 12, so join a boot camp, fatty fatpants. A true bride prepares for her wedding like it’s a war. Death to the thunder thighs!

No matter the bride, improvements are necessary. Sure, you may already be a size 2, but are you a toned size 2? Worse, do you have a bit of cellulite, that natural way female fat is stored? Disgusting! Stop eating this instant. You’re going to be in pictures, darling. They’re worth a 1000 words, 999 of which could be variants of “chunky apple pie face.” You don’t want your grandchildren thinking you looked like a lace-cased sausage, do you? They won’t love you anymore! You are a woman, darling, and women are delicate flowers. Just because you’ve fooled a man into thinking your body is sex incarnate, doesn’t make it acceptable.

As a bride, you have certain responsibilities. Chief among them is looking conventionally beautiful. You only get this one day ever to be happy, so make it count. Heaven forbid your guests leave chatting about the great food and lively conversation! If they’re not complimenting your spindly collarbone, you have failed. And if you fail at being a bride? Barbie comes to life, knocks in your door with a magenta battering ram, and revokes your woman card. Then, who will do your husband’s laundry? Get dieting now, or else…

Or, call me crazy, you could find a dress that makes you happy and sashay up to the alter as the person you are. Shock your guests and – gasp! – look like the you they already love. It’s one thing to want to feel better or combat health problems, but why exactly are we dieting ourselves down to an unmaintainable size for one party? Your wedding photos don’t actually follow you around, shadow-like, for all your days. Despite what the magazines tell you, you are not your dress size. Not this day, not ever. You are your career, your friends, your perfectly twee impression of Zooey Deschanel. You are not a bride, you are a person.

– Grace

How NOT To Embarrass Your Husband

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Ha! I totally tricked you with that title because I almost always embarrass my husband. Except he always tells me he isn’t embarrassed which is a real testament to his inability to embarrass and less about me not saying embarrassing things. Because I do. FREQUENTLY.

Anyway, here are things you should avoid if you don’t want to embarrass your husband. I’ve done every one of these things. You probably shouldn’t. And since I’m telling you that, I’m totally counting this as a public service. You’re welcome.

  • Nickname his penis.
  • Nickname his penis and then tell your closest friends about it.
  • Ask him questions through the bathroom door at your parent’s house.
  • Slap his ass at the grocery store.
  • Tell everyone he has a hole in the crotch of his pants.
  • Remark on his pooping capacity over dinner with friends.
  • Tell a story about tampons and TSS over dinner with friends.

I know, it’s kind of crazy someone wanted to marry me, right? Although, I think the moral of this story is, I shouldn’t be allowed to have more than one hard cider ever. EVER.

– Mae

Period Shaming. It’s A Thing And It’s Dumb.

Screen Shot 2013-02-11 at 4.24.13 PMCall it what you will, period, “Aunt Flo”, time of the month, rag, lady-time, riding the crimson wave (shout out to Cher Horowitz!), or my personal fave “moon-cycle” (it just sounds so mystical y’all), your menstrual cycle is probably pretty shitty no matter how cute your euphemism is. So, the last thing a woman needs is to feel like she isn’t making the “right” choices about the products she uses to make her moon-cycle somehow more bearable.

But guess what? That shit is exactly what’s happening!

Do you use regular tampons? Well, then your vagina is now full of chemicals that will eat through your uterus. Probably.

Do you use a diva cup? Well, everyone thinks you’re gross and also that you’re totally getting TSS. Probably.

Do you use pads? Ugh. What are you? 100? The cool girls don’t wear pads anymore because icky. Probably.

Do you use all-natural cotton tampons without chemicals? Well, you’re a hippy who will always be covered in menstrual blood because science wins every time. Probably.

EVERYTHING YOU’RE USING DURING YOUR PERIOD IS WRONG. Probably. Because everyone on the Interwebs says so. Period shaming is a thing y’all. And it’s absurd. There is a difference between having a conversation about the pros and cons of taking a week off a work and hanging out in the bathroom for the duration of your period and actually shaming someone into feeling that the decisions they make to simply endure a really shitty week are wrong or shameful. Because they aren’t. Listen, we can make an argument for just about anything. But WHY ARE WE ARGUING ABOUT THIS? Why can’t we just let a lady make her own choices on what works best for her vagina during her OWN menses? By all means, please share information- I for one, really like hearing about other people’s moon-cycles because I think bodily functions are interesting- but please, please can we stop the period shaming? Because really y’all, it’s dumb. It’s really really dumb.

Mae out.

Go Away, Horrible Jewelry Commercials!

reddiamondsProfessor McGregor has ruined my life.

That might be a tad dramatic. I’ll rephrase: Professor McGregor has ruined my ability to watch commercials without rage. On one of our very first dates, we stumbled into a conversation about engagement rings and the jewelry industry. (Yes, this perhaps should have been a sign. Seven-months-ago Grace, you’re going to marry that charmingly grumpy bearded fellow.) Over super delicious brisket enchiladas, he dropped this knowledge bomb: Between Halloween and Valentine’s Day, the number of jewelry commercials played on ESPN goes up by 804%.

Okay. That’s not a real statistic, but it feels like one. Maybe it’s because women are barraged with diamond ads all the time—which, creepy fact, gets worse once you’re in a relationship on Facebook—but I’d never noticed this phenomenon. Now that he’s told me, I can’t unnotice it. Every basketball game I watch is marred by the twenty-seven Kay commercials, insisting that every kiss begins with blood diamonds. Men, it seems, are nagged by no one as much as their neighborhood jewelry store. Buy her diamonds, they insist. You are a horrible person, because you didn’t do the dishes, so do the mature thing and bribe your way back into her affections! Diamond’s are a advertiser’s girl’s best friend!

These commercials are a repository for every bad gender stereotype and trite cliche. Each woman in Diamondville bats her eyes, angling for a marriage proposal, while every man is so clueless that his GPS has to hijack his car and forcibly drive him toward the sparkle. What the hell, jewelry people? While I wasn’t looking, you built an entire advertising narrative based on offensive codswallop. Surely, our populace has advanced beyond the assumption that the way into a woman’s heart is with expensive baubles. Or, if not that far, we’ve at least recognized that men have more emotional intelligence than adolescent baboons.

Worse, y’all can’t even do your own cliches well. Have you seen the latest Jared commercial? The concept is straightforward enough: man proposes to woman, man holds up overpriced white gold piece of swill, woman says yes. Oh, proposals. The one time when real life can out-cliche your industry. This should be your bread and butter! So, naturally, you set the whole thing on an airplane. Because nothing says romance like recirculated air and vomit bags.

Seriously, this is the worst proposal idea ever. Not only are they in a public place, surrounded by strangers, but they’re sitting in uncomfortable seats, near a questionably smelly bathroom, with only tiny bottles of cheap airplane wine to celebrate. Once he’s popped the question, will they get a private moment to celebrate? Nope. The stewardess will announce that he went to Jared and the other passengers will incessantly congratulate them for the rest of the flight. Don’t even get me started on what happens, if she says no. You think Jumbotron proposals can go awry? Try being stuck in a seat next to your broken-hearted ex for two more showings of Hotel Transylvania. This isn’t even a bit romantic, Jared. It’s sadism cloaked in conflict stones.

You suck, jewelry commercials. It would be nice to get a reprieve from your presence, after Valentine’s Day, but—let’s be honest—Mother’s Day is around the corner. The only thing worse than romance cliches are mom stereotypes. Bring on the noble dish-washing and soccer games…

– Grace

Send Me No Flowers, Only Dead Mice

il_570xN.337775143The stuffed bears cometh. They sneak in the night, armed with heart-shaped boxes of bad chocolate, taking up residence in grocery store aisles and college dorm rooms. According to the media, the proper Valentine’s Day gift involves: pink things, hearts, stuffed animals, chocolate, and flowers. I disagree. Professor McGregor, all I really want for Valentine’s Day is you.

And an ethically taxidermied mouse dressed as King Henry VIII.

Unlike many other things I say, this is not actually a joke. I for real real want a costumed mouse. Preferably one dressed as a historical figure. Just think how adorably macabre Marie Antoinratte would look on my dresser, with her wee feathered wig, or Lucrezia Boursin armed with a mini bottle of poison.  Maybe it’s because I’m deeply twisted or that I’ve decided to base all of my life choices on Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, but either way: dead mice for Valentine’s Day. This is what my soul wants!

Which brings me to my point: the Valentine’s Day industry is lying. Do not fall for their tricks, friends. The commercials tell us that women want flowers and hearts and extravagant gestures. She doesn’t. Or she might. Honestly, I don’t know what your wife/girlfriend/inamorata wants for Valentine’s Day, because I don’t know her. Maybe the thought of jewelry bores her, because all she wants is a tour of a sewage treatment plant! Or, perhaps, she just wants you to leave the house for three hours, so she can watch the Rockets game in peace. I do not know the innermost workings of her mind! Neither do the ad executives.

It could be that she doesn’t even want to celebrate Valentine’s Day, because she believes that it’s an invented holiday to shill pajamagrams and mediocre boxes of candy to the bumbling masses. She could very well think that even mentioning Valentine’s Day is giving it more power, like creating little verbal horcruxes of consumerism, and she’d rather pretend it doesn’t exist. Or maybe that’s all a ruse, concocted by her clever mind to see how much you really love her, so you better show up with daffodils or else. I don’t know!

Valentine’s Day is complicated, because—surprise!— people are complicated. Sometimes they want flowers and sometimes they want dead animals in Victorian garb. It’s a toss up. Good luck, you zany kids!

– Grace