Reflections on Columbus Pride

I'm not going to rehash what happened at Columbus Pride, but I do want to talk about the reaction and what's happening now. As a member of this community (and as a parent) it disturbs me to see divisive and exclusionary actions in a place that should be characterized by unity and inclusion. I think this is a complicated situation and should be treated as such; any over simplification is a disservice to all of us.

Here are my thoughts:

The response from Stonewall was bullshit.
Stonewall missed the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to ALL members of our community. They missed this opportunity by failing to acknowledge their colossal mistake, which was not responding with the urgency that the incident warranted.

Lori Gum's resignation was admirable.
I believe this is what being a true activist means: taking a stand at your own expense. 

We're a different community than we used to be.
Columbus' LGBTQ community is bigger and more diverse than ever. This means that we have a greater responsibility to groups that feel marginalized and oppressed. And with this responsibility comes a need for intelligent and thoughtful leadership, which Stonewall failed to demonstrate in the days following Pride. 

We need to practice what we preach.
I think the most important thing to remember--and what we're losing sight of--is that we're ONE community. Seeing Lori Gum's post on Facebook today calling for Karla's resignation was disheartening because it exemplifies the very things that hurt us: divisiveness, exclusion and the simplification of things that are not simple. It makes me doubt Lori's altruism.

Whether or not Karla Rothan and/or the board resign is not the issue, but whether or not we move forward as ONE community is. The Stonewall leadership is a part of our community, and no one in our community deserves to be shut out. Isn't that the point of all of this? Isn't that our takeaway from what happened at Pride? How can we call for exclusion in our attempt to take a stand against it? It doesn't make sense.

And look, if we can really afford to promote division like this--to pick and choose our friends so selectively--then we're truly a very privileged and spoiled community. 

About that article...

I’ve gotten a lot of messages about my recently-published article on Kveller; mostly very kind, some very judgmental and downright hurtful. One lady suggested that I should have gotten a dog versus having a kid. So that was nice.

But all messages are welcome, and being judgmental is ok. Everyone judges because living life is about making decisions; and to decide, you have to make a judgment. This isn’t a philosophy blog, but look: if I put myself out there, I have no right to expect people not to judge.  

I do think the article headline is slightly misleading, albeit good click bait. Several people reacted to the headline, but maybe didn't take the time to read the words. If they had, they would have understood that I do not regret having a child, but sometimes I feel that way. And those feelings come when the mundane tasks of raising a toddler overwhelm. Someone brought up a great point: if we loved mundane tasks, it would be worrisome; if we loved mundane tasks, we’d be robots.

Another interesting question was, would you ever want Elliot to see that article? This question gave me pause, because I would never want him to feel unwanted or unloved. But, if he turns into a thoughtful young man (which is the goal), he will know me and realize that this text isn't about not loving him. He might even be puzzled that I ever felt this way, because he’ll only know me as his super-amazing, kick-ass mom, who’s got his back no matter what ;-) 

Most importantly, I want Elliot to know that I’m not afraid to tell the truth. I want him to know this so he’s not afraid to tell the truth. There are many kinds of writers, but I want to be one who writes courageously and unapologetically. 

And on another, perhaps more relevant note—isn’t it a good thing for our sons know how freaking-hard it is to raise a child? Wouldn’t knowing this make them better men, partners and spouses?

I should think so.

What's with all the running?

The one thing that inspired me to become a “real runner” is a podcast called, “Run, Selfie, Repeat.” It’s put together by a very cool millennial, named Kelly Roberts. After a terrible family tragedy, she was struggling with life and decided to take up running. Her blog and podcast are about “life with a side of running,” and I’ll tell you this: I’d hire Kelly as my shrink if I didn’t already have one.

Kelly often reflects on how running mirrors the issues we face in our everyday lives, which is something I can totally relate to. 

When I’m on a run, I feel overwhelmed. I get panicky because I’m struggling, mentally and physically. My instinct is to either stop or run faster. Why?! Why not just slow TF down? I’m sure you’re all thinking, “Duh,” but for me, this was an epiphany.

I also feel vulnerable and self-conscious when I run. Jesus, I look like a hobbling, pregnant toad. Why are my thighs so…thigh-looking? Damn b*tch, you’re slow. Look at the real runners that just lapped your pushing-40 ass. These thoughts aren’t about running—they’re about how I feel about ME. They reflect my everyday insecurities and situations that make me feel VULNERABLE; running just happened to shed light on them. But how can you feel better when you’re not aware of why you’re feeling badly? Whoomp, there it is. Go on a run, folks.

So, after I finish running, I never miss an opportunity to brag about it on Facebook. I like affirmation. Maybe too much? Wait, that wasn’t a question. While I love (repeat, LOVE) the runner’s high (and that’s endorphins, people) and the feeling of accomplishment, affirmation is kind of the icing on the cake. Not gonna lie. But is seeking affirmation too often ok? Not sure.

Last week was an awesome running week because I hit three miles for the first time. Ever. “So why not four this week?” I wondered. I need to work on being patient because I didn’t just wake up one morning and knock out three miles; I had to work up to it.  I had to build endurance and get over the I’m-gonna-f*cking-die-@-1.5 miles mental block.  This took time. In fact, it took me a few years of starting and stopping. So for now—in this moment—it’s important to celebrate that three miles, take a step back and realize, this is enough: You are enough.

And this brings me to my last precious pearl: life requires maintenance, and so does running. If you aren’t consistent, you will slip. It’s basic. Like if you don’t brush your teeth often enough, they’ll turn yellow. If you stop and start running like I did, you probably won’t get anywhere.

So this weekend, I’m running my first 5k—yikes! My goals are to stop with the negative self-talk and turn the hobbling, pregnant toad into visions of a swift, strong unicornForte et gratum.

Have an awesome week, y’all!

 

 

Regroup on redefining success

One time at a wedding, a lady ranted to me about the seven long, arduous years she’s been working on her book. I remember thinking to myself:

  1. That won’t be me
  2. I don’t ever want to talk to another writer again
  3. Screw the host for thinking that seating the two, single writers together was a good idea

First of all, that is me. It’s been seven years for me too, and still no book deal.

Secondly, not talking with other writers is something I regret. Initially I thought it was smart so I wouldn't be discouraged (wedding lady’s rant); I also feared other writers would be competitive with me. Because of that figure skating thing I used to do, I don’t want to compete, don’t like to compete and am afraid of competition.

However, over the past few months, I started to connect with some amazing writers and editors through Kveller. No, Kveller is not my blog (would be cool): it’s a legit online magazine that compensates its writers for their contributions, me included—yippee!

Connecting with the Kveller writers has inspired me. Working with them and writing with them gives me a sense of community, and makes me feel fulfilled. It’s awesome to get feedback and kudos from other writers, and it’s helpful to exchange ideas, from topics to write about to avoiding nicely-wrapped-up, perfectly constructed endings.

Sarah (editor) has also helped me tap into another voice; a more casual, conversational one. Working in marketing, I always look for the most concise way to relay a message, but I now realize that this made me rigid in my own writing. So, I’m trying to embrace a little fluff.

What’s the point of this blog post? Not sure. But it feels like I’ve identified another success-pyramid.

Awww, sh*t. that’s a nicely-wrapped-up ending, isn’t it?

(Stay tuned for my next blog post about being the most awkward runner in the world!)

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Redefining success

Unfulfilled ambition is an undercurrent of unhappiness, even in moments of pure contentment. It clouds and devalues everything: An awesome job, getting married, becoming a mom; being a good daughter, friend and human.

The inability to reach the summit of your success-pyramid feels like failure, and the thought of redirecting your climb towards something else seems like an excuse for defeat.

For the past 8 years, I imagined reaching my summit would mean becoming a published author. You know, like an author whose books are in Barnes and Noble and available on iTunes for download. In my mind, anything short of—or different than that—didn’t count.

All along, I knew this was bullshit. I knew that success wasn’t a vertical path, and that its definition can be ever-changing. But I couldn’t internalize this.

Well recently, something in my mind shifted: It literally happened last Sunday night, and I can’t tell you how or why.

But there is one phrase that started to surface, and persist.

“I am my father’s daughter.”

I’m not sure what this means entirely, but I think it means allowing yourself to experience success on different levels; having more than one raison d'être.

That’s how my dad was before he got sick. A world-ranked tennis player, turned college professor, turned entrepreneur: He was someone who climbed towards several summits, never restricting himself to just one.

And even after he got sick, even after 4+ open heart surgeries and several strokes, he still tries to climb. His summits included relearning to walk (twice), speak, read and navigate life with a limp and a lame left arm… meeting his grandson, Elliot.

The second time he relearned to walk, I remember him grimacing and repeating under his breath, “I can do anything.”

A fashion blog?

I don't know if it's okay to write about fashion anymore. Am I just contributing to the normalization of the utterly abnormal? Or, does life, pop culture and fun nonsense still have to go on in some way?

(This isn't a rhetorical question)

The other day, I reread Susan Sontag's Note's on "Camp," which made me think that writing about fashion is still okay.

Based on "Notes," fashion " underlies and gives rise to a certain taste;" it's a quick-hit vehicle through which culture is displayed. This is important because "taste" indicates mindset, which indicates behavior, which determines action.

Fashion is also representative of societal tendencies; the most obvious being, conformity.

I can tell you without a fake eyelash blink that the unanimous staples of the current "taste," according to 99.9% of upper class, white fashion bloggers are:

  • Booties
  • David Yurman bangles
  • Ripped jeans
  • Flat iron curls
  • Skinny everything

There are no trend deviations, unless you have a penchant for emo, grunge or the fat acceptance movement. And the lack of deviations receives affirmation in the form of likes, follows, regrams and affiliate network associations.

So what?

Well, conformity is very attractive, and right now this doesn't sit well with me.

We have Ivanka Fucking Trump creating visions of Camelot inside the White House. She's a fashion and lifestyle icon, who has 2.8 million followers on Instagram.

Her influencing ability means a lot for fashion forward women, and even more for "Women Who Work."

Ivanka promotes a distorted brand of feminism wrapped up in social media-perfect imagery with a big fat bow of entitlement on top.

Side note: I read her book, "The Trump Card," and she honestly believes her success is solely rooted in her hard work and discipline. Even without Sugar Vladdy, she'd still be where she is. Bahaha!

Look, if she weren't the First Daughter, I wouldn't give a flying F. But she is, and and this makes her the poster girl for the American wife and mother. And this sucks for the rest of us working women who don't look like this.

But back to point.

In an time when the "certain taste" is defined by conformity and perverted ideals, fashion bloggers have a responsibility to write mindfully.

I'm not sure what this means, but I think it means this: we can blog about lip gloss and faux fur, but we also have to tell other stories.

So I guess, this is what I'm going to try to do.

 

 

 

My 2017 New Year's resolutions

Perception is reality.

 

A seemingly innocuous phrase that we've tossed around carelessly because we could.

It's a phrase that allowed us the convenience of justifying injustices; condemning when condemnation wasn't warranted, and praising when praise wasn't deserved. It's allowed us to substitute the truth because we were either resistant to it or too lazy to fact check.

As we move into the new year and closer to the inauguration, we also move closer to the threat of perception overtaking truth; more than it already has.

And what perception? A narcissistic, delusional one.

The lies and hateful language that granted the Donald this election could soon become our truths. And when these truths give a green light to racism, prejudice and misogyny, that is frankly terrifying.

No one knows what to expect, but seeing random and scary-unqualified people appointed to the highest offices in the land gives more than a pause for concern.

These are strange, strange times.

Often, I'm not sure what to do. I can rant on Facebook, volunteer at Planned Parenthood and march on Washington. But I think doing something goes deeper. I think we have to change certain fundamentals about ourselves.

We got here because of habit. We're careless because it's easy. And we rely on perception because it's easy. I'm guilty of it. Everyone is.

Dumb, thoughtless remarks come out of my mouth everyday, and I've decided that I don't want to - and can't - be like that anymore. I don't want to add more muddle to the swamp.

So I guess my 2017 resolution is to change my habits: to shut up, listen, find out the facts, and ultimately stop relying on my perception as the truth.

Habits are hard to break, so let me know how I'm doing along the way.

Happy New Year :-)

It's not ok.

Unintentionally, I threw my iPhone in a parking garage trashcan. After digging it out, I rushed into work for a webinar, but couldn't find my desk. I was confused, maybe even frantic. Turns out, l was on the wrong floor of the building.

Nine family members showed up at a restaurant to celebrate Leslie's birthday. We didn't have a reservation because I forgot to make one, and we ended up going someplace else. Later on in the evening, I yelled at my brother to "shut up." I'm not even sure why.

Some guy at Giant Eagle told me Elliot was cute and asked how old he was. "Almost 16 months," I answered. He told me he has an eleven year son, and misses him being that little. We wished each other a nice day, and I headed to my car.  A few minutes later, I wondered if that's the kind of guy who would grab my pussy.

I don't understand my country. How have I lived among these people and not known?

Was not knowing the ultimate white privilege... until now?

I am scared and unsettled, and I don't think it's going to be ok.

 

One year as a working mom

Motherhood is a strange thing. Imagine the feeling of loving someone so much that the thought of anyone harming him makes you nauseous. Imagine that when you're away from this little person for only a few hours, you pine for him like it hurts. And when he smiles at you--light dancing in his eyes--the rush of adoration is indescribable.

Now, imagine wanting to get away from this tiny human, because he's a constant reminder that your independence is officially no more. This has been my experience as a mom: a confluence of emotions, ups and downs and the feeling of being totally overwhelmed.

Next week marks a year of being back at work post-baby. Dropping off Elliot at daycare was a confusing day. Was I doing the right thing by going back to work? What was best for him? What was best for me? And then going back to work; the guilt-infused freedom of sitting at my desk and surfing the web whenever the hell I wanted to. I never equated work with "freedom," but that's certainly how it felt.

I have to admit something that I'm not proud of: before I had Elliot, I looked down on stay-at-home moms. "What the hell do they do all day?"I often thought to myself. Well, Karma's a bitch, and maternity leave was not easy. An entire day would go by without any tangible "accomplishment;" and for someone like me, that's turns into a swamp of crazy.

Being a working mom is also a hard job. Like stay-at-home moms, your battery runs all day, and the idea of "me time" is truly just an idea. Sometimes, it's so overwhelming that the mere thought of bath time evokes anxiety and dread.

But more importantly, how do you reconcile the fact that you only spend a few hours a day with your child? What kind of parent are you?

n my case, I'm a better parent. Maybe in my case, the qualitative trumps (hate writing that word) the quantitative; however, until Elliot's a grown man, the inconclusiveness will remain limbo-like maddening.

As parents, we can all agree that facilitating our kids' happiness is pinnacle. How we go about it is a crap shoot; and I hope I'm making the right choices.

Oh hey, I'm gay.

Finally, I started referring to myself as "gay." I've struggled with this label because I never felt connected to the gay community, and stereotypes of lesbian women are so powerful that they deterred me from accepting who I really was.  Also, unlike a lot of LGBT people, Leslie and I don't have a huge circle of gay friends. For us, it's more important to have friends with whom we share other interests--we don't care who anyone's sleeping with unless it's good gossip.

When I was 35, I had what my friend Jill Layton described as a, "Gaypiphany." Ok, I always suspected I wasn't straight, but at age 35, I finally gave myself permission to love the way I wanted to. Logically, I turned to my group of lesbian friends for support, but felt like I had come up against a stone wall (ha!). Some of them thought I wasn't "really gay" and challenged me with questions aimed at determining the authenticity of my feelings (as if anyone has the right to determine this!). And some dismissed me as a typical "Jessica Stein," leaving me to wallow in feelings of loneliness and the pain of my first lesbian crush #FirstWorldGayProbs #PoorMe

But in defense of the lesbians, I also wasn't convinced I was one of them:

1. I don't like to camp. 2. Subarus. No thank yous. 3. U-Hauls. Never. 4. Beer. Never. 5. Home Depot. I'm scared. 6. What the hell is rugby anyway?

Stereotypes are really powerful because they can work to negate your true self: How could a jappy, french-manicured figure skater be gay? To me, it seemed unfathomable.

When Leslie and I started dating, I didn't formally "come out." Except for the fact that I now had someone to share my life with, nothing changed: I retained the same friends, my family still loved me and I benefited from the Supreme Court ruling on June 26, 2015, which allowed Leslie, Elliot and me to be a legal family.

I've never marched in a Pride parade, I've never been done anything to raise awareness and thankfully, I've never encountered homophobia. For some, this might not make me as gay as they are, and I'm ok with that. I thank the gayer gays for fighting the fight I never had to, and for creating a society in which Elliot will grow up thinking having two mommies is the best thing ever. I am truly very, very grateful.