Repeat after me: Athleticism is beauty. Athleticism is beauty. Athleticism is beauty. Athleticism is beauty…

Fit Is a Feminist Issue

Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, just won the women’s singles title at Wimbledon.

Again.

For the sixth time, actually.

That’s like, five times. And then again. For a total of six times.

six

Serena Williams is one of the great athletes of our time, and one of the greatest tennis players ever. But alongside the story of her win, what else does the New York Times– the paper of record—see fit to print? This story.

In this story ,“Tennis’s Top Women Balance Body Image with Ambition”, many of the world’s top women players interviewed said, in effect, that having the muscular world-class athletic bodies they have makes them feel “unfeminine”, as 14th-ranked Andrea Petkovic said.

“People say, ‘Oh, you’re so skinny, I always thought you were huge,’ ” she said. “And then I feel like there are 80 million people in Germany who…

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I’m back!

Hello world. I’m back.

We came back from Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Wednesday. After two weeks of rehearsals, performing, and ogling the Paris Police Gymnastics Team… I’m just ready to be home. I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had over the last couple weeks for the world, but gosh being away from home just for a two week vacation is hard. Being away from home for two weeks to be in a show is a million times harder.

I’m not really sure what to say about what happened during our time in Halifax. It was fabulous, it was long, it was hard. There were tears, and laughter, and sunshine, and rain. We went on adventures, we climbed very steep hills, we put our feet in the freezing cold harbor. We looked out over the city on top of the Citadel, we ate in pubs, we danced, and we gave our show everything we had.

Oh, and Adam and I got engaged!!!!!

So really, it was a great trip. Now we are home, I’m nursing the ends of a sleep-deprivation cold, and have to catch up on real life. The to-do list includes finishing unpacking, cleaning the apartment, and finding myself a place volunteering at a museum. But, for now, here are some pictures from our trip!!!

While we were away the Supreme Court ruled marriage bans unconstitutional!

My first very pretty design on a latte…. and it’s even just from Starbucks!

Hanging with some friends watching other groups rehearse at the arena.

Every Sunday needs chocolate cake!

Selfies in full kit are, of course, necessary.

Adam falls asleep pretty much anywhere he can

The sister came to see us!

On top of the Citadel, she’s so pretty.

Sister turned into the paparazzi when we told her we were engaged. Most of the pictures were iffy, but I just love this one at the top of the Citadel looking out over the world.

Mum came to see us too!!

The waves come in pretty hard on McNabs Island in Halifax Harbor.

Mum wanted a picture with Adam too.

My swollen and aching feet in the harbor. The water was so cold it was like icing!

A beautiful view off of McNabs Island!

5 Things Cis People Can Actually Do For Trans People (Now That You Care About Us)

The (Trans)cendental Tourist

It’s been a weird year for trans people.

Allow me to be more specific: It’s been a heated, daring, tumultuous, graphic, specularizing, aggressive, pointed,contentious, highlyfatal, and really, really complicated year for trans people.

Here are a few examples: Kristina Gomez Reinwald, Ty Underwood, Lamia Beard, and many othertranswomen of color have been brutally murdered at the hands of lovers, family members, and strangers.Meanwhile,Laverne Cox and Janet Mock have come to fame and exhibited incrediblefeats of grace, articulation, and poignancy under the gaze ofan eager media. Blake Brockington, Leelah Alcorn, Taylor Alesana, and many other transgender youth have committed suicide afterenduring endless bullying and systematic brutality. Meanwhile, Jazz Jennings became the new face of Clean & Clear and published a children’s picture book about her life, and teen trans couple Arin Andrews and KatieHill (best known for “Can You Even Believe They’re Trans?!” types of headlines) wrote and published individual books…

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What if I want to be a snowmobile pirate?

I’m not sure why the urge to write something always occurs for me right when I don’t have the time to follow through. It’s horribly inconvenient. For example, several nights in a row last week I woke up at 3am with random thoughts that I was dying to put up here. Clearly I didn’t indulge myself, which was probably wise since I can’t remember a single one of my earth shattering 3am discoveries. I probably just saved you all from irrelevant and incoherent chatterings. You’re welcome.

Lately I’ve felt pretty scattered. Everything is great in life, except for allergies. Allergies can go die in a very very very hot fire. I’m not impressed with them. But other than that, life is pretty great. Boyfriend and I are great, friends and I are great, there was wedding dress shopping (not for me. I’m not engaged. Duh. But it was fun just the same!)… But I feel without direction. I’m trying to embrace it, but some days I can’t help but wonder why I don’t know what I want to do. It’s not that I’m bored, it’s that I’m 25 and maybe what I want to be when I grow up is a snowmobile pirate. Who knows? But I will never know, because I never have and probably will never try being a snowmobile pirate.

And that kind of sucks.

A little over a year ago I hit up Paris and Barcelona with a good friend. She was trekking across the world, in the process of moving to New Zealand for a year. For funsies. Because she wanted to. I’ve always envied her that… She picked up and moved around the world because she wanted to, without a worry about friends and family back home. I have always wanted to try that, but I don’t want to leave my family and boyfriend behind. I would take at least the boy with me… but then it wouldn’t be my adventure, which I find problematic. So I settle for short trips to fun places, adventure-light I like to call it.

But being a snowmobile pirate could be pretty great….

Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess’s 9 super sex tips

Yes to this. All of this. These are possibly the best sex tips and illustrations I have ever seen. Yeeesssssss!

rockstar dinosaur pirate princess

So someone sent me a link to this article, based on a book, about sex tips written for men by a gay woman. As much as I see that it’s well meant, and well intentioned, something about it really bugged me – and it’s similar to something I discussed a few weeks ago.

Women are not all the same.

Women are complex individuals, just like men are complex individuals. Women have as different desires, wishes, kinks, bugbears, irritations and dislikes from each other as men do. I get profoundly irritated by statements such as “women like X” or “it feels good when you touch a woman like Y on her Z” because you simply can’t make sweeping statements about all women based on what you think, or on what your experience of women in your life is, or if you’re a woman, on what you like.  While you…

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ACLU

This week I got to go to the ACLU of Massachusetts (ACLUM) Bill of Rights dinner with my whole family and my grandparents. This was exciting for me on so many levels. First of all, I love fancy schmoozy dinners with cocktail hours. I love to dress up, I love wine, and I love chatting (which is surprising and not surprising simultaneously, for those of you who know me… I’m naturally shy and also an introvert, so go figure). The best part about chatting at these events is that I am there as a guest of my grandparents. My gramma loves to introduce her offspring to people, and it’s one of those times where I can see how much she loves us all and is proud of each of us. It’s sweet, and I love being able to put a good face forward for her to show.

Speaking of being trotted out by my grandparents, at one point during the cocktail hour (more like hour and a half!) I took Zayde to go sit down. He can’t stand for that long without pain, and he was starting to look like he was uncomfortable. I wasn’t about to let him sit in a corner by himself though, so I went and had a nice long talk with him. We rarely get to chat by ourselves for long, so it was really nice. I told him how I feel about cocktail hours, but I told him the funny version: “Hi! I’m Beth. I’m the oldest granddaughter. I’m starting grad school in the fall, I play the fife in a world traveling group, and here are my accomplishments all lined up in a row for you.”

Zayde spat water out he thought it was so funny.

Anyway, it was the ACLU dinner, which meant that dinner was scattered with speeches and cheering. Speeches made by those in the upper echelons of ACLUM, speeches made by those the ACLUM has represented… it was amazing. So many inspiring and uplifting stories. Stories where justice and equality won out. Stories full of empathy, fear, and hope.

Oh, and a speech given by the one and only George Takei.

I got to meet Sulu, but more importantly I got to hear him speak about the day his family was taken to a Japanese internment camp. I could hear the raw emotion in his voice, 74 years later. He spoke about why he is such a staunch supporter of the ACLU, referencing the moment in 1978 that the ACLU defended the American Nazi Party when they wanted to openly demonstrate in Skokie, IL… A town where at the time there were many Holocaust survivors living. He talked about how, the day he got the reminder to renew his ACLU membership, the news about Skokie had broken. He struggled with it, tried to figure out how an organization like the ACLU could possibly support people with such heinous and injudicious views as the Nazis. But, in the end, he realized that the ACLU did not support the Nazis… just their right to free speech.

Listening to Mr. Takei (he introduced himself to my family and myself as George, but I just can’t call him plain George. He’s far too incredible, he needs a more reverent prefix!) I kept thinking about how important it is that each and every one of us in the United States has a right to free speech, to practice our religions, to gather in public places. And you know what? It’s HARD to have those rights! You have to want to defend other people’s right to differing opinions if you want to have your own right to your own opinion.

I keep being reminded of the movie, The American President. In it President Shepherd makes a speech, and says “America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You’ve gotta want it bad, because it’s going to put up a fight.” And gosh darn it he’s right. Being an active citizen of the US is hard. Really hard. In order for us all to be equal, we all have to treat each other as equals. And as shown by the events of the past year (and all of our history) that is not always easy… sometimes we fail worse than others.

But dammit, it’s so worth it.

Musings on “The West Wing” and Idealism with Dad

Spoiler Alert: I describe some stuff from “The West Wing”. If you want to watch the series without knowing what will happen, you have been warned.

A few days ago I had the pleasure of spending the day with my mum. We were working on a craft project. Without her help it would not have turned out nearly as, well, perfectly, as it did. That is not the point of this post, however worthy a topic mother/daughter bonding is.

Over dinner that evening we sat with Dad and watched a few episodes of “The West Wing”. I adore the show. I’ve seen every episode at least twice, and when my sister and I were figuring out a birthday present for Dad last year we opted for the DVDs. He had never really seen the show and it was our filial duty to expose him to the wonders of President Bartlett and Josh Lyman. This spring he has finally started the show… With Mum.

Let us pause for a moment to explain something about my father: he believes in the system. It’s not that he believes that it is infallible, far from it. What Dad believes in is the ability of every citizen to have a voice. He believes in equality, justice, and civic duty. If you don’t vote in his house, you get yelled at and generally guilted. That senator that was elected that we didn’t want? It’s YOUR fault that he won the election! (Ask me how I know? I was in college, forgot it was election day, AND didn’t have a ride to the booth even if I hadn’t forgotten. I’M SORRY MUM AND DAD!) Anyway, Dad really believes in this stuff. He reads the Declaration of Independence to us every July 4th. One year we were in Washington D.C. for the 4th and we went to the National Archives and Dad peered over the original and tried to read it to us (good thing he’s read it so many times he has it almost memorized). While Dad would never say that he “doesn’t care who you vote for, just vote”, he emphatically believes that voting is the epitome of adult responsibility. Well, that and not killing people. The point is, Dad sees wonder in how our system is set up. And he passed it along to me.

Maybe it shows why we both are drawn to history. Maybe it shows why we both became (or in my case, nearly became) history teachers in public schools. Maybe it shows why we both became disappointed in and un-enamored of the public school system. Whatever it shows, Dad and I are political junkies. And “The West Wing” fuels our addiction.

I first found out that Mum and Dad were watching the show when I saw Mum the first time after they started. “Hey Beth,” she said. “I want to vote for Jed Bartlett. Can I?” My response was along the lines of “Welcome to the club, your shirt will be delivered later this week.” Since then I have received updates from both my parents and my sister (who has seen the entire series through and through) about where they are, what just happened, oh my gosh I hate that guy, etc.

Well, two days ago I got to watch the episodes with the government shut down. With my dad. And you know what? It turns out that we watch the show the same way.

Dad hushed me and Mum whenever we started chatting (even though it was usually about the show). He would also take in a deep breath and hold it when something dramatic was clearly about to happen. (“Oh hey. It’s raining with thunder. Something serious is about to happen! Have you noticed how it’s always raining in D.C. when something big is going to happen?”)

Well, the talks going back and forth about the budget and the extension to work on the budget made Dad talk to the T.V. He was righteously outraged that Josh wasn’t a part of the talks, annoyed with Angela for taking Josh’s place, and relieved when Donna got to be in the room. And then Bartlett ended the discussions and walked out. And Dad kind of cheered. It wasn’t really a cheer, because government shutdowns are awful. They’re bad for everyone. What Dad was celebrating was Bartlett being Bartlett. He was celebrating a president not being dragged around by childish and selfish senators. He was celebrating the president standing up for the people and for what he thought was right. He was celebrating the checks and balances of power built into the system.

Now, I don’t know how many of you have seen the series, so let me fill you in. They shutdown the government because they couldn’t agree. There was $100 billion between the White House and the Senate. The White House gave their $50 billion in compromise, and the Senate didn’t. Instead they demanded the White House give more… and more… and more… and more. So the President said no. The leader of the senators, Haffley, was sure the President would give in. Well, by the fourth day it was not clear if Haffley was right. Something had to be done though, so the President decided to go to the Hill, be the bigger person, and try to talk to the senators again. AND HE ENDS UP WALKING THERE! The senators think it’s just a cheap stunt, and they make the President wait 7 minutes out in the hallway. So the press gets pictures of Bartlett sitting quietly, WAITING! And then Josh suggests that Bartlett has waited long enough… so they LEAVE!!! So the Haffley looks like a buffoon and Bartlett wins. It’s great.

Well, during all the mishegas Dad watched rapt. And when Bartlett got up and left he basically punched the air. He kept saying “Haffley is like Gingrich in the 90s! He ended up looking like an ass and Clinton was the good guy!”

Dad’s reaction to the episode made me so happy. I loved seeing that I am like him, and I love seeing him so wrapped up in something. We began discussing why we love the show, and it turns out it’s because it makes both of us want to change careers and DO SOMETHING. For me “The West Wing” makes me want to go to law school, go to D.C., and kick people’s butts. Dad wants to be Toby, I want to be Josh, and Mum? She wants to be C.J. Dad and I laughed at her talking about it, because she wants C.J.’s clothes. But hey. The show has something for everyone.

And what it has for Dad and me is hope and motivation to try and see good in the country.

Seasonal depression sucks, and Spring is awesome!

Sometimes I forget how to slow down and enjoy the moment. I forget for a long time. And then, suddenly… I remember. And everything feels instantly awesome.

After this past winter (YES I know, I’m still talking about it because I’m still shaking it off) I’m still remembering how to be happy because it’s a day. Such a long time with so much snow, being stuck at home, feeling cold, more dark than light, and the stale air really takes it’s toll. I didn’t realize just how bad it was until the weather got warm yesterday. I have way more energy, I’m happier, and since we changed the clocks I’ve been waking up naturally earlier in the morning when the sun comes up. It’s all around a pretty great time.

Well, yesterday we spent all day outside. It was a truly gorgeous day and we had a fife and drum muster (do I need to do a post explaining what that is? Let me know people… if there is anyone reading this…) so I was all hyped up, all day, because of performing and socializing. The vitamin d didn’t hurt either. Well, the boyfriend and I stayed up late watching movies – ok, we stayed up until about 11:30. We’re old and get up early during the week, we stayed up crazy late last night! – and I still woke up around 7am. That’s not a lot of sleep for me. Usually I’m a 9+ hours girl. But today? I basically annoyed the boyfriend out of bed to make coffee, even though he had been asleep (sorry babe). And we were productive! Usually I hate being productive, but today? Groceries were done and put away by 10:30, I started organizing my closet/getting rid of the huge surplus of clothing I have that I actually hate, we had lunch, I practically took a nap, and we went for a run! It’s been absolutely magical… And I feel more relaxed and well-rested than I did a month ago after a week of full nights of sleep.

All I can do is chalk it up to the weather and sunshine. And maybe my recent return to working out. Endorphins are pretty magical that way.

It makes me sad to think how miserable I was all winter. It scares me to think that the same thing could happen next year. Clearly I need better winter coping skills. I never realized I get seasonal depression… Or maybe this was the first time it got that bad. I’m just so grateful that it’s spring now. I feel absolutely amazing. I feel ALIVE!

I’m finally enjoying daily rituals again. And it feels great. Do you notice these kinds of changes connected to the weather?

Excuse me, I need to go hug my boyfriend again. Because it’s the afternoon, it’s sunny and warm, and I can.

Street Harassment

Disclaimer: There are swears in this post. I tried to edit them out, but they are what really express my feelings. I apologize in advance.

Spring is beautiful. It really is. It’s so exciting and refreshing after a long winter. I love going out to the beach to walk or run, or grab ice cream, and watch all the people going by. The runners who haven’t been out since last fall, the moms finally freed from their living rooms with their toddlers, the smokers on break from work…

And the jerks who whistle at you or touch you.

Who decided that the first beautiful week of Spring was obnoxious week? I was out for an hour today on the walk next to the beach. It was great. I had my headphones in listening to “Serial” and was thoroughly enjoying it.

Sidebar: So many people have told me over the last few months that I should listen to this Podcast. Somehow I never did. Until today. It’s so good! Usually I have trouble following stories just by listening, but this has me hooked and understanding everything! Go listen to it. Right now. Or when you’re done reading.

Anyway, there I am walking along and a huge shadow fell over me. I looked over my shoulder and it was this giant bean pole of a man walking by. He seemed perfectly nice, waved and gestured about the weather, I smiled and nodded and went on my way. Well, a few minutes later he was coming back my way. He stopped me and got me to take out my headphones and asked if I walk to workout. I said I was just walking for fun. He said basically oh, ok, and punched me on the shoulder and moved on. I don’t know why, I don’t know where that came from. I’ve never been touched by a stranger like that before. Sure, I’ve been “accidentally bumped into” on the T and stuff, but never actually touched with a hand. It was weird. I kind of shrugged and moved on.

A little while later I was texting my boyfriend and someone whistled at me. I’m mad at about that for two reasons. First: I was whistled at. I hate that. It’s rude. Second: I was looking at my phone so I couldn’t see who whistled, so I didn’t know who to flip off. Because yes, it may be rude to flip people off but it’s even more rude to whistle at a woman on the street.

Who decided it was appropriate to alert a woman, and all the people around her, that you noticed her? Why is that necessary? How is it that men think they are entitled to every woman’s body they see? No, a whistle is not a grope, but it comes from the same place. Every time someone whistles, shouts, honks at me I feel a little cold for a second. What if that whistle was asking for my number, following me to my car, insisting that my ignoring him was rude and cause for violence?

I’ve had people say I’m overreacting when I talk about how scary street harassment is. “Just take it as the compliment it was and move on. It was supposed to make you happy.”

Nope. That is not how that works. I don’t care if those men think they’re going to make my day by “complimenting” me. Why the fuck would my day change for the better simply because some guy made it clear that he noticed what I look like? Who cares? I do not live and breathe by male approval. I am my own person, with or without a man near by, and I approve myself thank you. So no, I will not take those rude interjections as compliments. They are assertions of power and I take them as such.

It’s scary that random people are comfortable enough to express themselves this way. How am I supposed to tell if they are harmless or not? It’s awful.

So today, instead of thoroughly enjoying my walk and listening to the beginning of a murder mystery without a second thought, I enjoyed my walk and was interrupted by jerks who feel entitled to me and my personal space.

Next time I’m flipping the bird regardless of if I see where it comes from.

Thoughts, brought to you by Tony Soprano

Do you ever think about the how T.V. dramas are therapy for everyone?

Consider this. You’re watching your favorite show (I’m currently marathoning “The Sopranos”). Everything is fine and dandy and then someone makes a bad life choice. It’s so bad, and so obvious, that you see it coming three episodes before it happens. You yell at your T.V., you rant with your friends and family, you feel betrayed and upset by a fictional event. If you pause in that emotional moment you may feel something else.

Superiority.

You would never make that mistake/say that thing/sleep with that person. You know better. You can tell the characters why it’s a bad idea, why they were driven to that action… As viewers we can analyze everything that happens in the show. We know the characters better than we know our family or ourselves because the characters don’t lie to us. We see their actions, so even when Tony lies to Carmela we know the truth. We were there. And because we know those truths we can see why things happen. We can see an entire mob directed by one person, and it’s never the person who thinks they’re in charge.

I love seeing the cause and effect in T.V. shows. I suppose it’s partially because it makes me feel in control of my life, but it also gives me that feeling of superiority. It’s like looking back on college and seeing all the choices I made, and knowing that I won’t make those choices again. I’m smarter and more mature than that now. T.V. is like that for me. I can see all those choices the characters make, and I know I would never make them. I am better at communicating than that, I am better at relationships than that, and if I were friends with these people I could tell them they are making bad decisions.

T.V. shows become popular because they are entertaining, but also because they appeal to us. Something in the show is familiar somehow. The middle aged father who doesn’t know how to express himself to his family, the old grandmother who feels like her time is up, the mom who just wants to be appreciated and loved. These characters are familiar, but they are caricatures of real life. They are symbols of what everyone comes across in their lives. We enjoy watching them because we know them and also feel smarter.

What if we took that feeling of superiority and used it? What if we took a moment to assess why we feel smarter than those T.V. characters and use it in our own lives? Instead of “oh, I could never tell my boyfriend/wife/partner/sister/friend that”, what if we thought about why we could never say it? Maybe the things we could never say are the things that are the most important?

So the next time you want to yell at your T.V. because Meredith Grey is about to do something stupid (because let’s face it, she rarely comes out of her dark and twisty place), think about why it’s so important to you that she not do it. Maybe it’s just that you are emotionally invested in her character because the writers have been cultivating your relationship with her for several years. But think about that. Why do you care? It might tell you something interesting.

Or it might just say that you are very invested in a T.V. show. That’s an ok answer too.