I’m A Baby Prepper

I’ve always wanted to be a Mom. Even when I wasn’t sure I wanted to get married, I knew I wanted to be a Mom. I’ve been a nanny, a kindergarten teacher, and go-to baby-whisperer for all my friends and family. But, for the first time in my life, becoming a Mom is actually a real-life possibility and not just a theoretical future. And that’s like BOOM in my brain.

Now, I feel like I’m not prepared enough, even though I’ve done loads of research (and continue to), even though I ask myself the hard questions, even though I had the best example of a Mom anyone could ask for, I feel UNPREPARED. Everyone keeps telling me “You can’t be *totally* prepared.” and even though I know that’s true, I still want to try, because, I’m a prepper y’all. I prep. You know that show “Doomsday Preppers”? I am those people. Granted, I’m worried less about the apocalypse and more about natural disasters, but either way, I’m prepped. I have the bags ready and filled with survival gear. For real.

So, I’m going to come at this Baby Prepping thing the same way I did my emergency/disaster/apocalypse prepping. I’m making a list.

Baby Prepping List

Get diet right and exercise more. I want this body in tip-top pushing a baby out of my vagina shape. Also, I want to get in the habit of better nutrition now, so it’s not such a challenge in a year or so.

RESEARCH. I need to keep researching pregnancy, birthing methods, pre-natal vitamins, pregnancy yoga, and everything else about babies and pregnancy EVER. Did you know babies can be born with a full set of TEETH? Teeth.

Find a good pediatrician. I’m all set on this one, unless my husband and I move away from Austin in which case ANARCHY AND CHAOS WILL ENSUE.

Create a birth plan A.

Create a birth plan B.

Create a birth plan C.

Create a birth plan in case labor begins during a natural disaster or apocalypse.

Create a budget for maternity clothes. Mama’s got to shop y’all.

Create a playlist for each pregnancy trimester, birthing, and each stage of child’s life.

Test husband’s reaction time by shouting “We need to go to the hospital!” at random moments and especially in the middle of the night.

I think if I do all these things and about a million others I already have listed in an excel spreadsheet (and print-out), then I will be like the ultimate baby prepper. So, I should be ready to have a kid in like….let me crunch some numbers…..ummmm…..100 years.

What about y’all? Did you baby prep?

– Mae

War Paint

I started wearing make-up around the age of 12/13. And it almost always looked terrible because my Mom believed in letting us make mistakes and so I just layered on foundation and occasionally blue eye shadow which made me look exceptionally sickly and, on occasion, like an actual ghost. (Side note: Sheesh Mom, I know you wanted us to be independent but couldn’t you have given me even 1 make-up lesson??)

To this day, make-up, though I generally like the way it looks now that I know how to use it, still makes me feel….ummmm….insufficient? Like the way I look isn’t good enough? Something along those lines although I can’t quite find the right word for it. And recently I was thinking about that and it reminded me of how my Grandfather always calls make-up “war paint”.

Screen Shot 2013-03-26 at 12.13.21 PM

And even though I think he means it as a joke, it really does feel like that sometimes. Going to a wedding where you will be seeing an ex? Interviewing for a new job? Going on a blind date? Just waking up in the morning and facing the day? All of these things can feel like going to war and instead of weapons and armor, women use make-up to prepare and protect themselves against whatever they’re facing that day. Make-up makes us feel strong, makes us feel beautiful, makes us feel powerful. makes us feel SUFFICIENT.

But, isn’t that some bullshit? Why can’t we feel that way as our natural selves, wrinkles and pimples and all? Why do I feel so much better about my capabilities when my under-eye circles are camouflaged? What the fuck does the way I look have to do with my intelligence, my ambition, my joie de vivre?

And yet….and yet….it does. When I’m war-painted up, I do feel more powerful, more capable, more together.

Gosh damnit, I’m so ashamed to admit that.

– Mae

The Time For Equality Is Now

Today, Facebook is awash with red. A good portion of Americans, including myself, have replaced their profile pictures with red and pink equality symbols. This is because a historically good portion of Americans—53%!—unequivocally support same-sex marriage. That’s over half the nation who believes that love trumps “tradition.” That’s over half the nation who believes that marriage is a right, not a privilege. That’s roughly 167 million people who are hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court decides on the side of gay marriage. That’s a lot of love, kittens.

Of course, there is still the other 47%. This is a blog post for them.

559103_10103094451990284_2071591861_nHello there, my dears! My name is Grace and I’m your local spinster blogger. Normally, I blog about things like taxidermied mice and how hot men with beards are, but today I wanted to talk about something else entirely: you. You, I am given to believe, don’t think that my friends Anna and Shelly should get married. You, I am told, are narrow-minded and hateful and backwards. But that can’t be true! Didn’t you spend last summer building wells in Ecuador? And didn’t you nurse that sick stray kitten back to health? Surely, you’re not actively hating my friends.

In your defense, this morning I read up on why people oppose gay marriage. What I found, was odd. I’ve read article after article, but still can’t find a good argument against my friends. You’ll see what I mean.

Reason #1: Traditional Marriage is Between A Man & Woman. We Must Hold Up Tradition! Oh, interesting argument. How terribly Fiddler on the Roof of you! Marriage has been between a man and woman forever, so we should keep it up for the sake of tradition. Here’s the thing: tradition sucks. If we kept up with all our traditions, this world would be in a sad state. Women would have no rights, people would be kept as slaves, and the TV would be considered the devil’s instrument, so none of us could watch Buffy. Is that what  you want? You can’t be in favor of a world full of oppression and lacking Spike! For that matter, there are plenty of examples of homosexual marriage in history. So whose tradition are we going with, exactly?

Reason #2: Homosexual Marriage is Against God! Interesting. You’ve got me there. I fully believe in religious freedom, so how can I judge you for your beliefs? I can’t, but I do have a question. If marriage is a religious covenant between a couple and God, then why can atheists and deists and agnostics and pagans get married? If this is a Judeo-Christian God issue, then shouldn’t only Jews and Christians be able to get married? If people who don’t believe in any God at all can get married, then surely Anna and Shelly don’t need His approval for marriage either.

Reason #3: This is the Downfall of Morality! I am befuddled. Isn’t one of the basic tenants of morality settling down and getting married? If you hate the sexual revolution and think we’re sliding into Hell faster than Helena in a handbasket, then you should be pro-marriage, period. The more people getting married, the less people living lives full of single shenanigans. If you don’t let gay couples get married, then you can’t complain when they slough off all monogamy.

Reason #4: Children Need a Mother and a Father! First off, how many times must I tell you that just because you’re married, doesn’t mean you want children? Second, if we believe so hard that children need both parents, then we should probably take kids away from single moms and dads. It would be better for those kids to be raised by two strangers with complimentary genitalia, than with one parent who loves them. Children need both mothers and fathers, because as everyone knows, gender decides personality traits. Who will nurture a child with a bruised knee, if there’s no mother? Who will throw a football, in a fatherless home? New law: kids only go to two-parent heterosexual households! It just makes no sense.

Reason #5: Homosexuality Violates Natural Law! Heterosexuality propagates the species! Oh, this one is rooted in science. This is more like it! Except, quick question, don’t we violate a whole bunch of natural laws? Humans can’t fly, but we’ve gotten pretty good at this whole airplane thing. People are also supposed to be omnivores, but a lot of people I know are vegetarians, so they must be abominations too. And if we’re so hot-to-trot on species propagation, then we should probably test all couples’ fertility, before they get married. If you can’t have babies, you can’t get married! We will do a ten year check up to make sure that everyone is procreating successfully! Wait, that feels…wrong. We can’t take away people’s rights, just because they can’t have children.

Marriage is about love and commitment, not kids. People aren’t getting married only to have children or to satisfy God’s will. The vast majority of people in modern America get married because they love each other. People get married because they want the rights of a legal partner, in case their beloved gets ill or passes away. People get married, because they’ve found their other half. What business do we have saying that you’ve chosen the wrong half? Modern marriage is a personal union based on love and consent, not a moral or religious covenant.

The tide has turned and progress is coming. Don’t you want to be on the winning side of history? You have a right to your beliefs, but our country shouldn’t violate other people’s rights because of yours. I hate mayonnaise and think it’s an unholy white ooze, but America shouldn’t forbid tuna salad, because of my opposition. Let them eat mayo! Let them get married!

It’s time for equality, my dears. It’s time for love.

– Grace

Go Eat Worms, Nagging Baby Pushers!

justins-baby-card21Kittens, I am here to disillusion you.

You think, much as I once did, that the annoying questions will stop once you’re engaged. You think, having “landed a man,” that people will stop handing out unsolicited life advice and finally let you be happy, because—devil take it!—you’ve done what society wants, right? Not so, my dear yarn pouncers. You see, once the questions about your single status stop, The World starts in on wildebeests babies.

Welcome to pastel-wallpapered, pacifier-laden hell.

[For the purpose of dramatic recreation, The World will be played by italicized blue text, while the part of Grace will be sensibly vertical.]

We’re so excited for you and Professor McGregor, darling Grace! You must be so relieved that a man is deigning to marry you and your feminist ways. So, when are you having babies?

Not for a really long time. Like, at least five years.

Five years? Oh, my naïve Grace. Haven’t you heard how fertility works? Right now is the best/only time to have darling lumps of babykins!

Well, it’s not the best time for us. You see, the dear professor wants to get tenure first and I need to start and finish my residency. We just don’t have the time or resources!

Maybe you didn’t hear us correctly, sugar lump. If you don’t have babies in your twenties, you’ll give birth to horned horrors of children whose only forms of communication are shrieking and ritual sacrifices. We didn’t tell you this when you were single, just in case you were a spinster for another decade, but having babies in your twenties is crucial!

But we don’t want children yet. Every time a child screams in the grocery store, Professor McGregor and I high-five about not being parents. If we had kids now, I’d probably just hate them for the first year. I love sleep! My selflessness is really not developed enough to sacrifice it. We’ll chance the horns, thanks.

My dear, that’s how we all thought, until we had button-nosed mushy pea faces of our own. Once you see their wee, dear faces, you can handle all manners of trials. Sleep deprivation and never-ending screams are nothing, in light of your love! Why, the first time your spawn urinates on you is a moment to always be cherished!

We’re not ready for babies. Leave off.

But think of your grandmother, Grace. Doesn’t she deserve to be a great-grandmother?

My cousins, Alfred and Sage, have already taken care of that. We are totally absolved of any pressure!

But your father would love little ones to watch Notting Hill with!

My father would also love a dog. How about we get him one of those, instead? I’ve heard Labradoodles adore romantic comedies.

How can you be so selfish? Don’t you know that it’s your duty as a woman and a human being to have children? This is the next step, you callow girl. You’re supposed to get married and start a family. The species must propagate!

I call bullshit. On all of it. Are you ever suspicious that some people don’t actually have thoughts in their heads at all, but societal scripts they run through daily? That, perhaps, we’re surrounded by player pianos disguised as humans? After you get married, you have children, raise them, send them to college, then go tour the country in an RV, because you’re no longer needed until they have children of their own. That’s how it works! Once you deviate from said script, their wee little circuits explode. It’s all raised eyebrows and poor logic, instead of rational conversation.

Look, Professor McGregor and I want a family. Eventually. We want one when we’re financially and emotionally prepared. That seems super reasonable, to me. No one ever questions you about wanting to have children, only about not wanting to. How ridiculously backwards! The biggest life commitment you can make is the creation and care of another person. Shouldn’t that be treated with some degree of caution? Isn’t it the thoughtful thing not to jump on the baby wagon, just because we’re married?

Some people feel ready for children from the moment they reach adulthood. They are positive about their parenting abilities and the amount of love in their hearts. That’s totally awesome! They should be parents! I, however, have always known that I wanted children theoretically. Such as: One day, theoretically, I want to name a little girl Cordelia and teach her about feminism and Nutella! One day, theoretically, I will force bow-ties upon my son.

3234094106_5685e732a9One day, however, has yet to arrive. Right now, I am emotionally ill-equipped and not financially stable enough to feel comfortable spawning. I don’t want to deal with the realities of children: the long nights, the diaper changing, the worries about how to raise them into socially-conscious adults who eat carrots and respect women.

At the moment, I just want to watch Psych with my love and eat a lot of cake. Is that so unreasonable?

– Grace

On Doing What You Have To And Not What You Want To.

I have a job that pays me fairly well. I have benefits. My husband has benefits. I shouldn’t complain, especially when there are so many people still without any job at all. BUT.

But, I’m miserable at work. I’ve been doing this for 6 years and while it can be interesting work, most days it just feels like taking a voluntary emotional beating. I’m exhausted every day when I get home, and not just physically, but emotionally and mentally. I hate this job. I hate that there isn’t any balance, that I have to work even when I’m sick and can’t ever be too far from my phone in case someone calls or emails. I’m completely at the whim of my clients, which, more and more often, means late night emails that need immediate attention. And despite the promises of my boss when I first interviewed for this job, there is no support for life/work balance. A lot of those late night emails that require immediate attention come from him.

And I feel trapped. Trapped because the job does pay well and it helps support us, and lets me buy some pretty shoes every now and again, and helps us fly to visit my husbands family. It supports me, but I hate it. And I feel guilty for complaining, but I hate it. And I find myself resenting it more and more because it takes all of my energy away from the thing I *really* want to do, which is write.

But life is expensive. I’m rather fond of having a roof over my head and a cocktail in my hand. So, I keep working at a job I’m miserable at. Because sometimes, you have to do what *have* to do, and not what you want to do. At least for a little while longer. Just a little while longer.

– Mae

There Is No Asking For It

no-means-No“She was asking for it.”

I thought we were over this idiocy, America. I thought we’d moved on from the old thinking that if a girl acts “slutty” or “wild,” then whatever happens to her from thereon out—whatever horror may befall her or evil may prey upon her—is her own fault. If the coverage of the Steubenville rape trial is anything to go by, however, I was wrong. This is still a conversation we need to have. FINE.

Let’s do this.

You know who doesn’t deserve to be raped? A drunk girl. Just because a woman decides to let loose and drink alcohol, doesn’t mean she should expect sexual assault. The Steubenville case isn’t a cautionary tale of partying, it’s a cautionary tale against assaulting an unconscious or delirious woman. Women shouldn’t have to be warned against going to bars alone or leaving their drinks unattended. Sorority girls shouldn’t need buddy systems at fraternity parties. Women should be able to indulge in the same behavior as their male peers, without fear that one of those peers will take advantage of them, if they’ve had “too many.” Alcohol impairment is not an excuse for sexual assault, period.

You know who doesn’t deserve to be raped? A girl wearing skimpy clothes. A woman’s clothes never, not ever, intimate that she’s asking for it. A short dress does not mean you get to pinch her ass. A bikini doesn’t give permission to grope her breasts. Riding down the street bare ass naked on a bicycle doesn’t mean jack. If it’s “confusing” for you to see women scantily dressed, then that’s your problem to sort out. If I could make a suggestion, how about not judging a woman’s sexual opinions on her skirt length?  No means no, even if her shorts are short.

You know who doesn’t deserve to be raped? A girl who is flirting with you. She’s a tease, is that it? You thought she was super interested in you, but then she cooled off and wouldn’t give you the time of day. That totally sucks. I get it. You thought you’d found a potential partner, only to be shut down without so much as an explanation. Get the fuck over it. Rejection happens and people are mean. A woman could be a super evil person, who gets her jollies by toying with male hearts, and she still wouldn’t deserve sexual assault. Honestly, though? That’s not what happened. She’s probably just not interested, not purposefully torturing you. Maybe instead of assaulting her, to show her who’s boss and what such behavior brings, you could just move on like a normal person.

You know who doesn’t deserve to be raped? A girl who is fooling around with you. The date went really well, things are getting super hot and heavy, and she’s naked on your bed. All of the sudden, she puts on the brakes. Well, shit! She really did want it, right? Surely, if she’s already giving you a hand job, it’s not a big deal for you to fuck her. People can’t expect a man to just not finish, right? Everyone knows blue balls are a total thing! Oh wait: No, they’re not. I don’t care if you’re so close to completion that you just need a minute of sex, once someone says no or stop, it’s over. You’re not an animal, you’re a person. People sometimes have to be satisfied with not reaching orgasm. Deal with it.

There is nothing, not a single reason under the sun, that gives you leave to sexually abuse someone against their knowledge or will. Not clothes, not attitude, not sexual experience. Not being a prostitute. Not being your wife. Not being your husband.

You know who deserves to be raped? No one. Ever.

– Grace

His Name May (or May Not) Be My Name, Too

grace-kelly-wedding-dress_largeMy name is Grace O’Kelly.

Actually, it’s not. My name is something completely different, which I subbed for an homage to my favorite actress, because this blog gets very, very personal and my Great Aunt Gert doesn’t need to know about my sex life. I also have two separate pen names for my fiction forays, adult and YA, that were vetted by my agent for maximum shelf allure. As someone who plays fast and loose with her virtual identity, I shouldn’t have a particular attachment to my actual name.

Except, of course, I do. For twenty-seven years, I’ve responded to it and signed it and, all too often, winced when people sang the nursery rhymes featuring it. Despite that time in fifth grade, when I tried to change it to Josephine Applesauce, I quite like my full appellation. It flows well, has a good syllable ratio, and fits me. Which is a bit of sticky wicket, since I’m now expected to change it.

Part of the trouble with never planning to marry is that I’m constantly blindsided by societal expectations I’ve not fully processed. Take the marital name change. People, it turns out, totally expect me to take Professor McGregor’s last name, without any deliberation at all. You’re getting married, they remind me, it’s what wives do! That’s nice and all, but it was never something I expected to do. If I eventually found a chap I liked enough to marry, I’d keep my last name, no big deal. This is 2013! Women do it all the time!

Only, they don’t. 90% of women in America still take their husband’s last name. Even more staggering, 10% of Americans believe a woman lacks commitment to the marriage, if she decides not to change. No offense, my dear countrymen, but that’s fucked up. If anything, it shows a decided presence of commitment not to chuck the name you’ve had all your life, because some dude puts a ring on it. It was one thing when marriage meant going from a father’s protection to a husband’s, but those days have long since past. Thank heavens! We have choices and options. We go to school, we holds jobs, we lead countries. Yet, still we keep this convention, this most basic indicator that we are not equals in marriage or life?

It’s more complicated than that, unfortunately. The choice is not so cut and dried, as my feminist core insists. If you and yours plan on having children, what will they go by? When people unthinkingly address checks to Mr. and Mrs. McGregor, will the bank give you a hard time about it? (Fun fact: Yes, they will!) Is your current last name really yours at all, or just your father’s name anyway? People you love—not just the general public, but friends, neighbors, in-laws—may doubt the strength of your union, because of the choice you make. Worse, your future husband may have strong feelings about you taking his name. To him, maybe it’s not a symbol of the patriarchy at all, but a symbol of family. Hell, you could be like Mae—a hardcore feminist with the world’s hardest to pronounce last name, who became Mrs. Thoughtful so she could stop correcting the pronunciation of every pizza boy. Often, the marital name change makes life easier.

So, what will it be, Grace? My friends are already calling me by my assumed marital name—my real first name rhymes perfectly with the professor’s real surname, so it’s great fun for everyone—and I roll my eyes. I know I won’t take only his last name, both for feminist reasons and not wanting to sound like a nursery rhyme, but should I hyphenate? We do eventually want children, so that would be the easiest thing, as teachers/parole officers will automatically call me Mrs. McGregor anyway. Hyphenation would allow my name to have a presence. The professor doesn’t care if I change or not, but he’s also not too keen on hyphenating his own last name, so is that punctuation mark giving up feminist ground?

gracekelly07I don’t know. And, quite frankly, it angers my intestinal villi that I even have to ponder this. It’s complicated to change my name, but just as hard to keep it the same. I keep coming back to the fact that men aren’t expected to do this. People look askance at a guy, if he even considers taking his wife’s last name, calling it unmanly or unnatural. That doesn’t sound so equal, kittens. If this basic issue is anything to go by, maybe we haven’t come so far, after all…

– Grace