I saved my college Sociology book because cultural practices vary around the world. It is beyond fascinating the cultural creations that manifest and influence in each society. Educating ourselves is the greatest power we can achieve.
Transgender is in the news so much as of lately. When you see loved ones discriminated against because of race or disability and now gender identity, there is a strong need to stand up and protest the uneducated driven rebuttals that follow. In order to refreshen my outlook, I re-read the chapter on Gender. Our society goes to great lengths to assign one’s gender.
Gender in the workplace.
Gender in the home.
We celebrate gender by gender reveal parties and put little bows on little baby girl’s heads. We conform to the roles our society defines for us. From our conduct to our clothes. I am no different in participating in the wide spread social construct. My mom bought me Barbie and although I loved Barbie, I loved Legos and the Millennium Falcon and playing with my brother’s Hulk Hogan and Junk Yard Dog figurines. My favorite color is blue and I was told while playing “house” (another social practice) as a child I had to be the “dad” because I wore a blue shirt. Blue is associated with the male gender. We unify the manufactured ideas of gender and then we are judged and discriminated against when we separate from those standards.
“… gender identities vary greatly across cultures, with each different culture defining what is right and wrong. Our gender identity, then, is constructed within our cultures framework for gender. There is not some global absolute truth governing gender roles and identities (274).”
Here’s some fascinating examples of gender in other cultures:
Bacha Posh– middle eastern custom where a family who doesn’t have any sons will allow their daughter to live and behave as a boy. She will have rights to education, personal freedoms and often carry male names.
Fa’fafafine– Samoan boys raised as women. Male body with female identities. Sex with straight men is considered a hetero-sexual relationship. The roles in your community decide and shape your gender. Not your physical anatomy. They are a revered third-gender.
The idea of “Men are men and Women are Women” is definitely overused and offers little intellectual insight. “The bottom line is that gender is a socially created or constructed IDEA, not one that emanates from biological traits. (291).” Translation: your plumbing downstairs has no significance on your gender identity.
We check our gender boxes on every form out there. And that’s our culture.
“Each tradition has evolved over time to meet certain needs of society(273).”
I get it. The stigmas that have survived and slowly transcended has served an essential purpose in society because it was needed at one point in time.
Not this time.
Everything written above is educated and medically supported facts. In regards to the issue of the bathroom. The stall is just another little box.
As far as I’m concerned, there’s only two boxes that are important in this life. The little incubator box they put me in when I’m born. And the box they put me when I’m in the ground.
Our life is simply the transition from one box to another.
Time to think outside of it.
Erwitt, Elliot. Segregated Water Fountains. 1950. North Carolina, USA,. Web.
Mason-Schrock, Douglas. “Transsexuals’ Narrative Construction of the “True Self”” Social Psychology Quarterly 59.3 (1996): 176-92. Web.
Ballantine, Jeanne H., and Keith A. Roberts. Our Social World: Introduction to Sociology. Los Angeles: Pine Forge, 2009. Print
Today marks a symbolic moment in my life. My divorce anniversary. 12 years and counting!
Be thankful that you aren’t married to one of these guys!
And to be fair, here’s a list of women.
Marriage is not an option and I love, love, love finding like minded people. A quick google search led me across this blog…..MirrorCracked
Although I believe the reasons are a bit vague, it is a wonderful topic to discuss and build upon. And….a guy wrote it! Even better!
Feliz Cindo de Mayo!
Kelsey Borresen wrote an article for The Huffington Post about Aaron Gillies writing down and then tweeting all of his wife’s tearful endeavors.
I got a kick out of it.
Aaron’s wife thought it was humorous. The reaction it caused with the public was the same. People were identifying with it. Some people do this! Cry over what seems like, everything! The whole purpose of The One Date Wonder is to write, record and release my own endeavors. I share my emotions as felt by my own point of view and once released, others may identify it as well. I love relating to others. Knowing that I am not the only one who has laughed over a date gone wrong, or cried over a marriage gone bad, has been wildly healing for me.
I never want people to stop sharing their stories. It’s pure genius if you ask me. Memoirs like My Horizontal Life –Chelsea Handler gives a humorous account of her sexual escapades. On a darker more reproachable memoir, Elissa Wall wrote Stolen Innocence, depicting her life and childhood with her religion, marriage and later, her advocacy. Personal narratives like those keep me going.
Even though relationships end, behaviors live on. Someone out there is cheating on someone. Someone out there is being verbally abused. Someone out there isn’t getting asked on a second date. It is so helpful to know that I have shared a similar situation with someone out there. I also believe that writing down each personal account is helpful to see things stand out on a page, in black and white.
So take out a pen, take out some paper…..and write……
-Every time your Significant Other makes you laugh.
-Every time he/she makes you cry.
-Every time he/she takes you out on a date.
-Every time he/she inspires you.
-Every time he/she spends too much money.
-Every time he/she called you names.
-Every time he/she lied to you.
I believe we hope and strive for the more positive declarations but if you write more bad than good, let the truth speak for itself.
Writing has always been a part of my life. Since my brother bought me my first journal when I was 9, I wrote down everything. My first crush, my first A, when I was being bullied, when I felt insecure, when I felt most proud…..little books of truth.
My kindergarten Thanksgiving.
It was 1985. My teacher, Miss Alexander said all the boys had to be Indians but gave the girls the option to be Pilgrims or Indians. Pilgrims wore funny looking bonnets. Indians had war paint on their faces and wore fringe and feathers. It was a no brainer. Call me Chief Valerie.
I sat at the table, using my safety first pink scissors, cutting the edge of the paper sack to replicate fringe. I was excited to put the feather in my hair and represent my kindergarten tribe during this Thanksgiving. When I heard giggles and pots banging together, I gazed over near the play carpet where we often had free time. The Pilgrim girls were done with their outfits and bonnets and could play with the kitchen set.
Oh, the devastation!!!!
It must have been an eternity that I was staring at the Pilgrim girls in their happy frolic, because Miss Alexander charges across the room, grabs my arm and leans in my ear to yell at me in a loud whisper, “get back to work!!!”
She hurt my arm. I hung my head, cutting my paper sack with my safety scissors with tears rolling down my cheeks.
I was a sad little Indian.
It was upon my greatest surprise that while in Thailand, I got to see Blue.
Blue? Yeah, I asked the same question.
It was about 2 years ago, that my friend, Songie, and I ate brunch at Brio’s Italian Restaurant that she first sang to me One Love. I listened to the song via YouTube but here in the U.S., boy band days have been long over. There were no survivors.
Fast forward to my anticipated trip to Thailand and a couple months after buying the plane ticket, Songie calls me and exclaimed that BLUE IS COMING!!!! Added to my pile of Thailand study materials was now Blue. I wanted to be as educated and involved and research is not only one of my favorite past times, it was my top priority. Language, Customs, Culture, & Blue.
When I think of Boy Bands, I’m thrown back to 1989 when I was 11 and first heard New Kids On The Block on the radio singing Hangin’ Tough. I idolized them and the biggest appeal was their different personalities, charming good looks, and vocal styles. Every Boy Band blends together a winning combination that the industry has tried so desperately to sustain and maintain decade after decade. I was a young mom during ‘Nsync and BSB days but wasn’t interested in their cliche matching attire or dance moves that made girls swoon. So it would be that as we grow and change, the boy band industry wants to remain the same. And the good music dies with it.
I believe that as the industry booms with this Boy Band idolization that it fails to recognize and evolve along with these individuals. I am not an eleven year old child anymore and I didn’t meet Blue as a screaming, hormonal teen. I looked into the eyes of a man who missed his dog, a man who couldn’t wait to celebrate his baby girl’s first birthday, a man who contemplated his spiritual growth and another who talked of disciplining his child if they didn’t clean up their toys. Their commitments and life experiences were not far off on my own and all I could think about was “come to America.”
It was amazing to sit amongst screaming fans. Blue fans were waiting outside their hotel, singing songs outside the arena, jumping up and down. During the opening of the concert, Blue stood there in the dim shadow and their silhouette alone made everyone go NUTS! I could not hide my smile. Fans rushed the stage and who be it from me to not allow a true fan to take my spot as I sit back, observe and enjoy the experience.
Simon, your eyes are absolutely captivating. There were times during the concert that I felt penetrated by your gaze and that you were singing to only me. Wow. Your poise enthralls me and I would notice you walking into a room. Your presence demands it and I freely give it. Our first interaction was laughter and it broke through my serious façade. It is hard not to want to know more about you and as you methodically told me that I am hard to read, know that I am carefully taking all that I can in of you. You remembered my name and took me by the hand and danced with me my last night. It reminded me of Take the Lead where Antonio Banderas explains how a man can learn to touch a woman with respect by dancing. I will allow you to take the lead with me. Truly memorable. I believe Romeo and Krieger will be BFFs.
Antony, you were the first one ready to go. Always on time. That alone, I would bring you home to meet my father. A punctual man is an attractive man! I watched The Big Reunion and couldn’t help but feel torn when you were interviewed and heard you speak of some of the hurtful things people said about you (The Big Reunion season 1 episode 8). It was painful to hear. During the concert, I clapped and cheered more for you. I couldn’t wait to see you perform on stage. I loved learning about your endeavors beyond Blue. You seemed to have a lot more going on than anyone else and I feel I failed my research in missing that you would do Tommy the Rock Opera before playing Prince Charming! I enjoyed your company at dinner, noticing your cues that maybe you thought no one else saw. After we took the dinner picture for the 4th or 5th time and the cameraman said, “No flash,” you held back a laugh. I, in turn, laughed. I can’t really explain it to anyone else how funny I thought that moment was. Oh my god and you were singing, “Valerie.” Hearts, hearts, hearts! However brief my time was with you, it was memorable beyond measure.
Lee, What is not to love about you? Opposites attract and you would be the perfect Right kind of Wrong. You were not shy winking at me, talking to me and it felt really good just to be around you. Where do you find all that energy? You are really charming and have one of those magnetic personalities. I was absolutely mesmerized by you as we overlooked the city, you talked about your son, your writings and your commitments.
You can really bring out the best in people and that was when I felt most special. You love hard. You fall hard. There is no denying that you have the ability to shock and awe everyone and I hope you are encased by people who realize you are a man energized by your passions and they support and encourage you every step of the way.
Duncan, my kids tell me I need to stop judging. I thought I knew what to expect from you, but I was totally wrong. I was so surprised how welcomed you made me feel not knowing who this strange girl was amongst your circle of friends. A standard photo op and you spoke up first, greeting me with your big captivating smile. It was after the concert, the cheers, the screaming, the lights, the interviews…..it was when the cameras were off and it felt like just you and me, chatting like old mates. We shared our heartbreak, our pain, our faults, our spirituality. Then, all of a sudden, the TV turned on. The energy could not be denied in the room at that moment. You called me out on a few things that I feel most insecure about myself but there was no judging. Just a moment where I held your undivided attention. You smiled and spoke Pig Latin. You are a good man. Come to Ohio. No lights, no screaming….but there will be a home cooked meal waiting for you. Soul Food😉
Blue is the epitome of talented men. No question. But it was their conversation and the ability to connect from personal experiences that captivated me. As an outsider, untouched by their music all these years, there is no doubt that Blue is a revered entity. Loyal fans all over the world have been loyal to Simon Webbe, Antony Costa, Duncan James and Lee Ryan. These handsome men are in my eyes, survivors. Their paths crossed early as young musical dreamers and have endured throughout the ever changing music industry. BoyBand-dom has been long gone. But Blue endured. It’s cool they have been together so long, but it’s the men they have become today that have made me a fan. Let the essence of Blue redefine the music industry’s confines of what it means to be a “Boy Band.”
Talented. Handsome. Mature. Men.
And let me be the first to welcome it.
My Eat, Pray, Love.
I had seen the movie but was not profoundly touched by it. Eh, was my reaction. Fast forward months…..and I sit with a broken heart, desperate for peace. I found the book by Elizabeth Gilbert on clearance for $2, I bought it and finished it in one day. I couldn’t put it down. Funny how you can read something when you’re clouded by a different perspective and it mad inspires you.
Off to Thailand, I go.
Foods are different there. Seafood with crustaceous shells and wiggly fins are their specialty. I saw something that was still alive when it was brought to my dinner table. I’m not sure what it was, and although I didn’t steer from my distaste for the aquatic menu, I did try new foods with Pork and Chicken. I didn’t gain weight like Ms. Gilbert did but rather lost 9. My Eat wasn’t about indulging in myself but rather controlling it. I didn’t have the temptations of Hot Head Burrito and Flyers Pizza to deter me. I stuck to the basic and it rewarded me. I felt very proud of myself.
Predominately Buddhist. I was so thrilled to be in a culture who’s spiritual influence was so far from my own environment. Studying a semester of Eastern Religions, I fell in love with Buddhism and Hinduism. I could find something to relate to all religions I learned about but the Middle Way and all the Gods empowered me. I was not torn with This Way or That Way righteousness but grasped a whole concept of acceptance. I chanted their prayers, I kneeled and bowed my head, I clasped my hands and accepted this way and welcomed whatever should come my way. At the Thao Maha Brahma Temple in Bangkok, I was told to ask for my wishes to the four-faced Brahma…..and given incense and flowers, I asked for my children’s happiness and success in Life. I then Traveled to the Ganesha Shrine, and chanted the prayers and offered gifts to influence me to overcome what obstacles come my way and to hope for success in my own Life. Next to the Ganesha Shrine, is the Trimurti Shine, the God of Love. I was told that going on Thursday around 2100-2130 would be the prime time to go for meeting your potential mate. My love prayers were not really for a mate to love, but rather to Love myself.
I was presented the opportunity to go to a funeral. I did not know the family but was told I could attened. Monks chanted, I sat with my hands in prayer taking it all in. The grandfather passed on and had read a long time ago in The Tibetan Book of the Dead that Monks will pray over three days to ensure the soul of the dead passes on to the next life. Three monks sit and chant. I kneel at an altar, bow three times. I kneel at the altar of the grandfather, given insense, bow in respect and offer a prayer to the grandfather to make it safely in the next life.
It makes me think of my own grandfather, wondering where his soul ended up. The thought of his charming essence thriving in the world makes me happy.
Heartbreak is a bitch! This one is taking its sweet time to allow me to find some sort of solace. I am void of any recognition that I was ever a person who cherished my own sense of self. I didn’t come to Thailand to find a love, but to no longer wallow in the love I feel I have lost. I want to start in any small way to love myself. After my prayers at the Trimurti Shrine, my ex texted me. It wasn’t the first that we had spoken since our breakup, but it was the coincidence of the moment. After my prayers…..thousands and thousands of miles away……and now in this moment, I hear from him. I gasped to my friend.
“It was the gods!” She exclaimed.
All reason to doubt floods my mind. But I am throwing logic out and just smiling. And smiling was my first step of enjoying myself in this moment.
Thailand was without any doubt, my Eat, Pray, Love. I did all three. I enjoyed the new foods I ate, the new spirituality and the love of every moment that I will cherish forever. My trip of a lifetime.
And I can’t wait to go back.
Unhappily Married, Happily Divorced
Cinco De Mayo has a special place in my heart. It is the day I was divorced.
May 5, 2004.
Eleven years later, it’s a time to reflect on the lessons learned and the great sense of freedom that divorce awarded me.
The legal aspects of marriage was broken. I was breaking the bad habit of abuse and saving myself and my children. What good is a mother whose husband yells at her constantly? He’s angry….she’s broken….and the kids suffer.
I planned a divorce for two years. I documented every waking moment. If it was a book to be read, u could find it in the subject marked “Tragedy.”
Even though marriage was the hardest part of living for me, divorce was hard in its own way as well. It’s a changing of lifestyle. It’s starting over again. But those are all elements we can adapt and overcome with time. I’ll never fully recover from my marriage.
I think the biggest factor is who you are divorcing. This was my biggest hurdle. I broke the legal ties my spouse held over me, but that didn’t stop the manipulation and control. I see the same situation with my best friend who recently divorced.
He asks her how much money she makes. (Not his business)
He asks who she is seeing. (Not his business)
He walks into her house like he owns it.
Been there done that.
And it is still just as rude as it was when I went thru it.
I’ve seen spouses divorce amicably. Sitting together with one lawyer, laughing and enjoying their decision together.
I am enjoying my decision. I reflect heavily on the sense of freedom I gained within and the wonderful life I have upheld.
The lesson I learned was that I will never get married again. I am not cut for it. I don’t like that feeling of being trapped. I love my freedom. I also like knowing that I am saving money. I hear it’s much more costly to get divorced nowadays!
We all make mistakes.
Marriage is a mistake I will never make again.
I celebrate it because the teachers in elementary school told us we had to give everyone in the class a Valentine’s Day card.
Students I never talked to. Girls that made fun of me. Boys that were icky. Didn’t matter. Kids I ignored just like they ignored me, gave each other a small sentiment from the commands of our teachers.
I mechanically obey this ritual for years. It stopped in Jr. high and High School. I never had a boyfriend on Valentine’s Day up to that point. When I was married, I’m trying to recall any special sentiments that were given to me. I don’t ,but like a plagued bankruptcy where it lingers on your credit history for nearly a decade, I’m going to consider any attempted gratitudes forgettable on the grounds of time and abuse.
The last Valentine’s Day gift I can remember came from my ex- The Wanna Be Cop. A beautiful card with a $1200 check that he owed me for his Cop Training School.
Oh. How. Sweet.
I gave up getting any sort of specialness on the day designed for it. I don’t want someone to feel forced to do it. Or be unoriginal with chocolates and roses or proposals—-it loses meaning.
The next man, should there be one, I challenge. I have yet to hear, see, experience a knock-me-off-my-feet kind of guy. All have been simple, lacking romance and action that fervor any heat and element of surprise.
I look to be surprised. But let me know ahead of time😉
So today, on this Valentine’s Day…..I received a couple “happy V days” from my thoughtful colleagues, texts from friends and the best gift everrrrrrrrr from my BFF…..
A beautifully made scarf in purple- my fave color and the best most cherished gift anyone who knows me could ever give me……Chapstick!!!!!
The bar has been raised.
Happy Valentine’s Day. And I say this not because anyone told me to. This year, for the first time….I actually mean it.
Paloma Faith sings “Only Love Can Hurt Like This.” I, too, crumble…..
But it’s not from Love.
Love is a wonderful feeling. I can still remember the first moment when I felt it. I can remember when You first said it. I can account for all the times that You and I made perfect sense and for all those heartfelt times when You didn’t make any sense to me. Love doesn’t cause those harrowing memories. The opposite of Love can impact so deeply that you find yourself emotionally impaired. Not even the Love I felt could save You.
Writing helps. But even I can’t always find the words. So I turn to Music.
Certain songs take me back to a particular time and feeling in my life. It has become my refuge in moments where I need someone else’s words and vocals to echo my pain. Some songs have the power to uplift and inspire.
My breakup is so recent that I am still smiling through the heartache. Like a good girl would do. I know it won’t last forever but in an effort to mend and strengthen, this will be my last personal post on the matter. I know that through pain can come inspiration and I have often said some of my greatest lessons came from my greatest failures. I feel beautiful things can come from my darkest moments.
No Mud, No Lotus
As I write, I am inspired to share my own Heartbreak Soundtrack. Some songs have really touched me, some songs have empowered me to hold my head up high. All have been very therapeutic and assisted in unraveling the ups and downs that come with a relationship as well as the unfortunate and arduous demise.
1. Rascall Flatts – What hurts the most
2. Amy Lee – You
3. Lily Allen – Not Fair
4. Sam Smith – I’m Not The Only One
5. Paloma Faith – Can’t Rely On You
6. Karmin – Acapella
7. Evanescence – Everybody’s Fool
8. Usher – U Got It Bad
9. Aretha Franklin – Never Loved A Man (The Way I Loved You)
10. Florence And The Machine – Heavy In Your Arms
11. Katherine McPhee – Neglected
12. Nicole Scherzinger – Don’t Hold Your Breath
13. Lana Del Rey – Video Game
14. Lifehouse – It Is What It Is
15. Mary J. Blige – Not Gon Cry
16. P!nk – Try
17. Plumb – Cut
18. A Fine Frenzy – Almost Lover
19. Alicia Keys – If I Ain’t Got You
20. Avenged Sevenfold – So Far Away
21. Killswitch Engage – My Curse
22. Irene And Reed – Even With Closed Eyes
23. Irene And Reed – Not Lonely Anymore
Thanks for listening.
Unfortunately, I didn’t. I jumped right into another relationship. It was all kinds of awful in it’s own way, but after relationship #2, I did date myself. And to this day, it was the best relationship I had ever been in.
I traveled to Mexico. I saw dolphins swimming and jumping in the Gulf of Mexico, I took an 11 hr road trip. I took a nap in a hammock. I colored my hair for the first time and DARK.
The point is, I felt LIBERATED. I felt so free and felt so much like myself. I miss myself.
Recently, I jumped too fast into the world of Internet Dating and I know I am not ready. A reprise of the guy who tried to shove my head in his crotch has really turned me off. Talking to a guy who two weeks later, is now “in a relationship” just moves too fast for me. There is one silver lining though. One guy from my dating past, who was sexy, funny, charming and did I mention sexy, has made it known to me that he is indeed single. Even though things ended on good terms, I deserve to be with ME, first.
I cannot abandon what I know I desperately need for myself. I have put others first and I need to cultivate my wishes and wants for once . I put so much hope and desire that someone else wanted to spend time with me, that I need to commit back to putting myself at the forefront.
So now, I am feeling awakened to the possibility of being myself all over again. I have found that anytime I am upset, a change of scenery is my therapy. Just to breathe. Like my first trip to Mexico, my winter vacation in DC, or my summer in TN…. This year, I have endured the biggest heartbreak of my life and I am taking myself out of the country! Thailand to be exact. I have been invited numerous times and have always held off bc of money, time, and feeling like I need to put everyone else before me. There was always some excuse.
2015 is the year where I will start new. No more excuse to putting Valerie closer to the head of the line. Taking care of my health, taking care of my own needs and doing MORE of the things I dearly love.
My Date Yourself list will grow as time goes but so far I have taken myself to the virtual library and read two books this year. I am going to Thailand, I have a hot date with me, myself and I to see 50 Shades of Grey in February and I have a cross Ohio trip planned on bicycle!
I am making 2015 all about dating yourself. Let’s face it, no matter what relationship I have been in, I am the BEST I have ever had…….