Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Getting Lost in Mexico

If you ever want to truly test your new marriage and find out how much you really trust your partner go to a foreign country and get lost outside of the major city. It will immediately prove how you work together under stress. Fortunately, when this actually happened to us everyone remained surprisingly level headed and we made it home without being robbed!

Enjoying ourselves at Xel Ha.
What the heck were we doing wandering around the outside of Cancun, Mexico you might ask? Well through a series of unfortunate events that start with Aubrey leaving her phone on a bus and involve 2 taxi rides, 2 bus rides, and visits to 3 different offices in Cancun we ended up at a bus terminal near the Cancun airport, waaaaayyyy out of town. The taxi driver who brought us there wasn’t super friendly and didn’t want to stick around while we figured out how to get the phone back, so we thought we would just go catch a taxi from the Marriot next door. That was a HUUUUGE mistake.

Turns out the Marriot doesn’t want anything to do with anyone that is staying there and won’t even let you through the gate to use the phone. Dumbfounded we began to walk in the direction of Cancun which was a good 10 or 15 miles away.

Imagine walking along the interstate where there are no businesses, no nothing and it is getting dark. Are you getting nervous? Do you feel scared? Now imagine doing that in Mexico! We walked for probably a mile or more before we found a gas station. I talked to the attendants and explained as best I could in Spanish our situation. They directed us to cross the highway and get a bus going to “Centro”. I could just tell by their expressions that this lady thought we were probably going to die tonight.

Aub having entirely too many tequila shots the day before.

We crossed the highway and wandered to a bus stop that was outside of a college. Everyone at the bus stop just stared. Totally confused as to where these American had come from when there was nothing for miles. No buses came for a long, long time so we (Alex actually) decided it was best to just take the next bus going in the direction of Cancun. “We’ll be fine as long as it keeps going straight,” he says. Then what does the bus do? It exits off into a neighborhood. Now we are faced with staying on the bus and seeing where it takes us (possibly somewhere further away, or less populated) or get off and hope that a Domino’s is a good omen that this is a safe place.

We saw a taxi, but it was apparently broken and wasn’t any use in getting us home. As we stood on the street corner, being stared at by every single person in the whole area we were feeling really desperate. I know that I personally was about to crack. It was full dark now and we were lost and everyone around us knew it.

Just then a taxi, with passengers in tow, sped by. Aubrey started to chase after it hoping that she could somehow follow a moving vehicle and get in once the passengers had been dropped off. Clearly, that didn’t work out but another taxi came by without any passengers and we flagged him down like our lives depended on it. Probably before he even came to a full stop we were inside and begging him to take us home.
This may or may not have lead to the phone getting lost later...

Our driver just so happened to turn out to be the coolest taxi driver ever and had a screen showing music videos of 90s hit songs to entertain us on the ride back to the ferry dock.

Thankful to have made it home without losing our money or getting kidnapped we all relaxed into our seats on the ferry. Another guy riding the ferry was staring at us with a big grin on his face and I couldn’t figure out why. Until Aubrey realized he was at the college campus and had ridden the bus with us also. I’m sure this dude was trying to figure out how on earth we made it back here and what the heck we were doing but we didn’t stop to talk so he’ll always just have to wonder.

While I wouldn’t recommend ever getting yourself lost outside of the city in a foreign country it makes an interesting story. 


A Feminist Marriage: Modern Values Meeting Traditional

Most people that know me know that I identify as a raging feminist. My feelings about gender equality are some of the most defining parts of my personality. Right up there with my love for cats and my siblings. But sometimes being a feminist can be exhausting. This Onion article is probably the most accurate description I have ever seen of how it feels. When it came to marriage my feelings were definitely complicated. At least about the institution, not the the person I wanted to spend my life with.
Like many other women I love weddings and everything about them. I've watched all of the TLC shows. I take David Tuttera's advice on everything to heart. (He thinks green is a horrible color FYI.) And I want Kleinfeld's to stock something other than just that one see through Pnina Tornai dresses. For myself personally though, I felt like marriage might betray my values that I can't shut up about. There are so many pitfalls from vowing to be an obedient wife to wearing white to display my purity to the giving up my name. Not to mention that the origins of marriage is basically just a business transaction between my husband and father. 

While I know a lot of those ideas aren't really what marriage is about today, it still felt like I was turning my back on things that I said were identifying qualities of myself. Ultimately, I fell in love with a wonderful human being and I did almost every one of these things that I felt a little icky about originally.
Chelsea Wagner Photography

I realized that I have control over what my wedding and marriage is all about and I can make it fit our values and ideas of a marriage. Also, there is something undeniably appealing about publicly committing yourself to a person that you love. You want the world to know that this is your lobster!

We chose to do our wedding our way. Sprinkles of tradition mixed in with lots of references to our cats and love of cats and how we were only getting married so our cat's parents would be together... (We're kinda weirdos.) We were married by one of our very close friends who made the ceremony extremely personal to us and I wrote the entire ceremony myself to ensure that all of the language described us as a team, not as a wife vowing to be loyal to her husbands wishes. We also skipped things that we didn't like or didn't think really fit us as a couple.

I also came to the decision to change my name to Grace relatively quickly because I was taking the name of people that I was proud to be related too and that I would be proud to have any potential future children named after too. It wasn't giving up who it was, it was growing to be apart even more family!
Chelsea Wagner Photography

Each step of our wedding was discussed and ultimately decided between my husband and I not because that's what we had to do, but because it was things that we wanted to do for our own personal reasons.

Ultimately, I realized that the beauty of feminism is that we can make whatever choice suits us best. We are not confined into being right or wrong in how we live our lives and what makes us happy. We are just a little over a year into our marriage and I couldn't imagine life any other way.

 To be honest not much has changed besides our legal status as a couple and our life insurance policies. Alex still leaves his socks everywhere and I still continually forget where I sat my phone/car keys/wedding ring. Marriage doesn't change us, but it does add something a little extra special to our lives.

Now I can describe myself as a loving cat mom, feminist, AND an amazing (at least I think I am) wife.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Doing Whole 30: Week One

I enjoy cooking. I really do. But boy have I ever done a lot of cooking since Alex and I decided to do the Whole 30 challenge. The basic run down is that you cut out foods that are known to be inflammatory for 30 whole days and then reintroduce them at the end of 30 days to see how they affect you (if at all) and to help you have more insight into how your body reacts to certain foods.

 It also helps you quit nasty habits and retrain yourself to have a healthy relationship with food. For example no longer using food as a reward/stress relief/catch all for your emotions. If you are interested in learning more you can read about it more here.

Alex and I decided to do this challenge for a variety of reasons. Well, if we're being honest I wanted to do it and Alex agreed because I'm the one that feeds him! We realized that despite us telling each other we wanted to eat "healthy" we didn't really have any kind of plan in mind and weren't really following through. We had also realized that we defaulted to pasta A LOT instead of exploring different foods and recipes. This really has forced me to get creative in what we eat! 

Changes we've experience so far...

The Whole 30 requires that you eat 3 meals a day. Not skip breakfast, eat a bag of M&M's and chips for lunch, and then sit down to dinner like we had been doing. Because of this we decided to wake up earlier and eat breakfast together every morning. It's been really great to get a jump start on our day by getting up an hour earlier than before. I also like getting the chance to talk and share a meal before we start our work days. 

While our grocery bill has gone up we are no longer eating out or buying gas station snacks so in total this has been great on our wallets. The occasional (okay, almost everyday) gas station snack really adds up in a week.

We do sooooo many dishes!!

We've both been feeling pretty good the whole time. I had one rough day on day 7 that was not fun. But overall eating whole foods for every meal has been good to us.

What we've been eating....

Definitely the most difficult part of this challenge is being prepared with meals for every turn. It's easy to say no to fast food when you already have delicious meals waiting for you at home. Not so easy when the fridge is empty and you have no idea what to make!

I have been meal planning a week at a time and grocery shopping once a week. We also hit up the farmers market to get a lot of our produce. Because we are going through so many veggies it's crazy!

This is what we ate the first week!

Closing thoughts....

While I don't usually buy into fad diet type things I think their is some merit to this program. We are not killing ourselves over what type of oil our burger was cooked in at the restaurant or if we accidentally ate one of Haven's craisin's that has added sugar. But anything that encourages us to eat more whole foods and home cooked meals can't be all that bad. We don't expect to be magically cured of every aliment ever (as some of the Facebook groups make it appear) but we are happy with forming better healthier habits that will hopefully carry on after the 30 days are over!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

But what about the NICE guys?!

So often when I write anything or read anything relating to feminism or the particular struggles that women face simply for existing I am met with the response BUT WHAT ABOUT THE MEN. WHO'S THINKING OF THE MEN?!

As a disclaimer, I will mention right now that feminism does encompass a concern for men's issues like equal rights as a parent and the fact that sexual violence against men is often ignored or minimized. But this is not one of those times.

My previous post about how flat out frightening it is to go to clubs or bars for women seemed to spark a lot of conversation. In case you have not read it, basically if you chose to go out in public as a female not only do you have to accept being inappropriately touched, you get harassed and coerced for defending your body and rejecting these advances.

I'm sorry to tell you guys, but there is no equivalent for males. If someone can think of one I will gladly discuss it, but I can't think of any way that I could make a man feel as threatened or uncomfortable as they make me feel in a lot of situations. (Please also note, that I am speaking primarily in terms of heterosexual males. Homosexual, Transgender, etc. face a whole different set of challenges.)

As I said previously, many guys do have a certain way of making it about them still. It's not fair that they can't hit on us essentially. One commenter brought up that "nice" guys get brushed off for not being aggressive enough. He then said, "The caption says it all. Women judging like they do." Wow. That's all I can say really. You read a story about how myself and my friend were physically threatened and all you can think is that you're the victim because we don't want you to hit on us.

In case you needed a little break because I did!
Ladies and gentlemen, that right there is what is wrong with the world. That is the heart of the problem in a nutshell. The idea that women primarily exist for men to try to win. The idea that I am not an autonomous human being that can make my own choices for whatever reason I choose. I am 100% convinced that, that guy is exactly the kind of person that gets aggressive and confrontational when I say no.

So to that guy and every other "that guy" out there let me explain a very basic concept to you. Women are in fact human beings and we are born with inherent rights that we get just for being a person. Included in those basic rights is the right to choose who I want I talk to, who I let touch my body, and just how I want to live my life in general. I owe you NOTHING.

There will never be a situation ever when I am obligated to give you my number or talk to you. Yes, this means that sometimes girls will reject you and it will suck. But guess what, that happens to girls also! I have been rejected more times than I could possibly count. Sometimes it does hurt a little, but it is their right to not like me for whatever reason they choose and I respect that.

While all of this probably makes me sound like a man-hater I do actually meet guys that I have pleasant conversations with on occasion. What these guys do differently is respect my personal space and boundaries (ie: don't grab or touch me without my consent), respect the fact that sometimes I do not want to talk for whatever reason, and most of all respect when I say no.

In a real-life example, a guy approached my friend and I while we were talking. He apologized for interrupting us and didn't try to touch me or put his body on mine. Then he had a normal conversation that didn't involve anything about how sexy [insert body part] was. Well actually he commented on my teeth, but it was in a good way. After talking for a bit, he gave me his number so I wouldn't feel pressured to give him mine. He asked if he could give me a side hug. Then he left! He didn't linger to make sure I didn't talk to other guys or overstay his welcome. It's as simple as that. Really, don't pressure me, threaten me, or make me uncomfortable and you have succeeded in being a decent human being.

If you are still confused, this girl offers a lovely explanation of how feminism is not an assault on the hetero male. Or feel free to voice your concerns to me. I am happy to discuss it with you, though be warned that I may end up writing a post about you!

An Exhausted Woman

Monday, May 18, 2015

Single and NOT Wanting to Mingle

The guy in the white is definitely plotting something.

Being a female that makes the brave decision to sometimes leave my house and venture out in public I have come to (sadly) expect a certain level of creepiness to happen at bars or clubs or any area where males are allowed to be. While this is certainly not okay, we have to learn to deal with it as we learn to fight it.

So when one of my girlfriends and I decided to have a fun night of dancing in the Power & Light district we had already assumed that we would have to deal with some level of unwanted male attention. This generally includes but is not limited to have guys grab your hand and try to pull you away or sneaking up on you and thrusting their nether regions on you. Typically a quick elbow to the chest and turn can get you out of the situation so you can continue what you're doing. That was not the case this past Saturday evening.

Over the course of about 3 hours, we were repeated groped, touched, called bitches, flipped off and just generally harassed by every male in the metro area. I will highlight just a few of these instances though I would venture to guess we had been approached by at least 30 guys by the end of the evening.

Harassment #1 Two guys asked us to dance Rachel said no thank you and the guy proceed to stand there just to make sure she didn't dance with anyone else. It took me asking the linebacker looking guy standing nearby to go pretend to be her brother to get her out of the situation.

Harassment #2: Rachel saw a guy trying to reach around and grab her butt while dancing near us. She smacked his hand away from her and we moved away. Later on the guy came back and shoved her in the back of the head. And if that wasn't enough he came back to grope her backside with two hands. At this point, she shoved him away from her hard (LIKE ANY PERSON DEFENDING THEMSELVES WOULD DO) and he proceed to flip her off and scream that she was a bitch.

Harassment #3: A large guy, easily pushing 250 and heavily intoxicated came and put his arms around both Rachel's and I's necks and then tried to tell us to loosen up and dance. We both squirmed away and told him no thank you, we're fine, we don't want to dance. Clearly, we misunderstood that refusing to let a stranger touch you wasn't an option. The guy came back SIX(!!!) times. He was a mixture of angry that we didn't like him and wanting to explain himself (I think, it's hard to understand slurred gibberish). Beyond the point that I in absolutely no way have to talk to him, I may have let him say his piece if he didn't need to also touch me while doing so.

Obviously, doing once again what any logical person would do, I shoved him off of me and told him to GET THE F*** AWAY. I also grabbed onto the scrawniest kid in the whole place and stood behind him at one point. A not surprisingly, as soon as he said leave her alone the guy backed off.

It's also important to note that everyone else, mostly other men, saw this all happening and did absolutely nothing. I understand that I'm a stranger and they probably didn't want to get in a fight with the big dude, but when you see a girl clearly feeling threatened and screaming go away maybe your human decency should kick in.

I was going to write about two more examples, but this is getting lengthy and I'm getting pretty worked up so I will stop there.

Hopefully, by now you get the picture. We were apparently battling a hydra in male form. But I didn't write this just to let you know how much being a girl can suck sometimes. No, instead I hope that this illustrates just how dangerous male entitlement and patriarchy can be.

Not only is it bad enough that these men tried to touch us or grab us repeatedly, but their reaction to our rejection is my real concern. Saying no opened us up to more violation and harassment than simply going with what they wanted.

No incited anger, aggression, and a strong desire to prove us wrong. You don't want me to dance with me? Here let me convince you through intimidation and physical force because that's how you win a woman's heart. I know some of you must wonder why we stayed as long as we did despite everything.

Leaving would not only limit our own personal freedom, it would also turn us into abusers of ourselves. Letting their actions shape our choices and decisions means that we are accepting the harassment as inevitable and not fighting back for our right to be in public places without a male accomplice. It's important to note though, that I would not put myself in danger just to prove this point. That is why even though I don't want to limit my freedoms I still wait in the bathroom until the club has cleared out and take a winding way back to the parking garage to avoid and disgruntled men that we may have upset inside.

When people ask me what is feminism? Why are you a feminist? Or tell me that there is no need for feminism I can't help, but have a strong desire to slap them.

Do you want to know why I need feminism? I need feminism so that I can go in public places without a male chaperone and still feel safe. I need feminism so that I can say decline attention from a male and that be the end of the conversation. I need feminism so that I don't have to flinch when someone brushes past me because I'm afraid they're trying to grab me.

I need feminism because I never want my beautiful niece to have to feel scared or violated or dirty simply because she dared to go out in public. I never want her to have to feel the way myself and so many other women do on a regular basis.

I think that a quote by Edmund Burke sums it up well, "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to stand by and do nothing." If you are not a part of the solution you are a part of the problem.

If you made it this far, you're probably just my mom. In which case I will note that there were cops everywhere and that neither Rachel nor I had anything to drink the whole night. So please don't panic.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

A picture is worth a thousand words. We've all heard this classic cliche a million times, but have we ever sat down and really thought about it? While I think it's original conception was more in relation to the fact that a picture can speak for your actions or intentions, it seems like it has morphed into meaning that pictures can replace not only our words but our memories.
My friend Alicia! 

When I visited Iguazu Falls (I swear I'll find something to talk about besides Argentina someday) one of the things that struck me the most, besides how beautiful it was, was that almost everyone was viewing it through a camera lens or phone screen. It was almost a challenge to find anyone over the age of 10 that was actually just looking at the Falls themselves.

I find it strange that even when you have something beautiful and wonderful right in front of us, we still are more focused on capturing it in something permanent to keep for later. Are we really that desensitized that we would rather look at a picture of something incredible than feel the mist hit your face or enjoy the way the light prisms make little rainbows that your iPhone can't possibly capture?

This does nothing to capture how incredible it was!

In the year 2014 we took close to 1 trillion pictures. That sounds like a number that Dr. Evil would ask the President to give him to stop him from blowing up the moon. It sounds ridiculous! But how does 1 trillion pictures translate to our life experiences? Did we enjoy these moments more? Are our memories stronger and more solid? I can't help but doubt that.

While pictures can capture the way we looked and what we were doing it can't capture the way that moment made you feel. It can't tell you the significance of the situation. It can't replace the emotional imprints in your mind.

So maybe it's time that we put the camera/phone/ipad. Instead of trying to catch the moment, let it just exist. Even if a picture is worth a thousand words, it doesn't translate into a thousand little thoughts and feelings and moments you may be missing out on when you try to look at it through your camera lens.


Thursday, March 26, 2015

One Direction, Plane Crashes, and why it's okay to care about both.

Admit it, you're a tiny bit sad to see him go.
As some of you may have seen on CNN Breaking News (I don't think they actually covered it, but I wouldn't be surprised), Zayn from One Direction has decided to leave the boy band. While 13-year-old, hearts all over the world have been breaking the rest of the populace has generally been disgusted at the fact that anyone could be concerned about boy band news at a time when planes are being intentionally crashed into mountains and hundreds of woman have been taken captive. Though it makes sense to see this as an example of how loathsome the younger generation is, that is really missing a much bigger point that this shows.

Now bear with me, but sometimes we need a boy band potentially breaking up to be the worst thing to happen to us today. Every day there are upwards of 7 billion different lives playing out. Their day is sometimes boring, sad, happy, interesting, wonderful, devastating, average, a whole multitude of things that make up their individual life. Now imagine trying to care about every single of those lives, the good, the bad, the plain.

You have hopefully realized that you can't. It's impossible to care about everything and every single person around you no matter how empathic you are. In fact, it's emotionally exhausting trying to care about all of those things. Depending on your specific situation, you may be carrying around your own set of emotional baggage with that also.

While we do need to be aware of world around us and what is happening some days we need to just get by until the next one. And maybe thinking about and comprehending that day's tragedies are just not going to let you get there, so you have to place your sadness and emotions in other places that don't seem quite as important to others.

I guess the overall moral is that being upset about frivolous things does not take away from the gravity of the real tragedies, sometimes it just helps us deal with it.

So tomorrow we can mourn the loss of those 150 people that passed too soon in the Germanwings plane crash. But today if we can only handle mourning the loss of the "cute one" from One Direction, let that be enough.


*Note: While I doubt that many 13-year-olds will wake up tomorrow and care about the hard hitting news stories, I thought that this was an adept example to illustrate how I think this could apply to anyone.