Monday, September 24, 2012

Fifty Shades of Oversharing

*Warning: This book review may contain a spoiler alert or two. Also, my opinion may differ from yours. And I ate beans AND cabbage for dinner. Proceed with caution.*

A few months ago, my book club selected Fifty Shades of Grey. I originally looked into the novel (i.e. I read The Cotton Floozy's review of it- please read her blog, she's hilarious) and decided against it. Unfortunately, I have spent so much time (that I can never get back) around emotionally challenged people in real life that I do not desire to spend my leisure time with them as well.

Then I read Gone Girl and was shamelessly enjoying the unhinged, schizo nature of the main characters. Let's be honest. Drama can be fun... but only from a voyeuristic standpoint.

That is when I loaned my copy of Gone Girl to a friend, and in turn, she loaned me the entire series of 50 Shades- which she delivered in an unmarked brown paper bag.*

*This may surprise you, but I rarely buy material that needs to be delivered in plain brown paper.

So I made the decision to read the books in the same fashion that I make the majority of my life decisions. I said "What the hell! Let's do this shiz!" Plus, I'm under stimulated and bored so I like to take part in controversial conversations, and what better way is there to do that than to actually read the books that are causing such a ruckus?

As a person who feverishly loved Kirk Cameron for at least four years of my life and once literally cooked my shin skin under a heat lamp in vain attempts to tan my adolescent mayonnaise white flesh, I long ago decided that I am in no position to judge anyone or anything. (But I will judge those fugly shoes.) So I picked up the first book and started reading. During the second book I had fully developed my love/hate relationship with the characters (Kate Kavanagh is my kind of gal). And by the third book, I was explaining to my child that there were handcuffs on the front because it was a story about policemen. And no, I am not ashamed of myself. I also un-ironically watch talent shows and pretty much anything produced by Aaron Spelling. And I dance un-apologetically at weddings (with video documentation). And I sing at the top of my lungs in my truck. And I scratch whatever itches. And I almost always speak without filtration. And I often drink lemonade right from the container. And I like cats and throw pillows. Deal with it.
What I found with the 50 Shades series was a mostly entertaining, typical romance novel read. While it is true that the main two characters of the book did often annoy me, that is a normal feeling for me, as most people in real life often irritate me. And while BDSM does not 'blow my skirt up', nor did I find the the main male character of Christian Grey appealing, I'll admit that I was curious to continue following the story. Much like a chocolate covered train wreck, I could not look away.

After finishing the series, I sat back and considered all of the opinions that I have heard and read from my peers regarding the content. What I decided is this: I think all the backlash towards the book is amusing, for it is a work of FICTION, people. IT'S A MADE UP SCENARIO for the sake of the author's own indulgent whims and clearly (New York Times Bestseller, anyone?) it is popular. As an aspiring writer, I would like to say congratulations to E.L. James. As a fellow mom, writer who belabors her readers (James' "mercurial" is my "creepy"), and hedonistic person that says and types whatever the hell I please (simply because it pleases me), Mrs. James' success gives me hope that, someday, maybe I too can pen a best seller.

Aside from being a guilty pleasure, an kick start to one's sex life or a subject of controversy, I think that the book inadvertently asks the question, what would you do in this situation? While admittedly there are many, many times when I wanted to shove Anastasia Steele's head into a toilet (seriously? she was concerned that he would burn himself when heating food in the microwave?) and dropkick the controlling Christian Grey from the balcony of his penthouse, I believe that my reaction to the book says more about me than anything. As a woman of questionable morals myself, I will admit I considered what I would say, if I were in Ms. Steele's position (specifically the one with her wrists bound to her ankles). For instance it may be, "Thanks for the orgasms, the money, the clothes and the car. You're fucked up. I'm Audi." or "Thanks for introducing me to the silver balls and the vibrator- you just showed me how I don't need a man for pleasure. You have WAY to many mommy issues. iPad outta here." or "If you want to control something, may I recommend getting a dog? But not a terrier, cuz those bastards do whatever they want. But seriously dude, you are beyond damaged goods. Thanks for the house in Aspen and the Loubitons. Laters, baby." You get the picture....

If you have not read this book, I will divulge this: Anastasia Steele was neither a women's studies nor a psychology major and all of my jokes in the prior paragraph will be lost on you.

Aside from the fact that I mostly enjoyed reading this series and the way the leading lady was naively pushing every boundary of the emotionally stunted Grey, I have four major issues with the content- none of which being the "kinky fuckery". Feel free to judge me on my personal "hard limits".

1. Any dude that controlling will eventually come between you and all of the people in your life that you love. Don't walk away from this book thinking that you can change that hot, messed up guy that you have been seeing on and off for five years. No matter how much you think you know him, he most likely won't ever become the guy that you have convinced yourself he is- or can be. He's a douche. Leave him immediately. Run.

2. Any dude who sits in a bar and orders himself a white wine is NOT a manly man. Sorry. No. Just NO. No. Hey Grey, ever heard of Scotch?

3. No one can possibly have that much sex without the follow up urinary tract infection that is issued with that much sex. COME ON. That is so not realistic.

4. I don't care HOW sexy you are, do not fucking blindfold me and feed me my food. I can cut my own motherfucking meat, thankyouverymuch. And if you take a drink of something and attempt to spit it into my mouth, prepare yourself for the feeling of my fist getting rammed into your throat. I don't want your backwashy wine or water, because I'm a grown-ass woman and I control my own food and drink intake. Don't. Just don't. Just... uh uh. That is all.

In conclusion, it is true what you heard. The phrase 'butt plug' is scattered throughout the books like the sprinkles on your cupcake. And the leading lady makes some horrible decisions. And the leading man is in all ways fictional. And, against your better judgement- much like watching Honey Boo Boo- you just might find yourself enjoying the distraction from your own reality. Don't be too hard on yourself because, quite frankly, we can't all be intellectuals all of the time.*

* Good Lawd, how fucking boring would that be?

I don't want to hear another Saab story. I'm gonna Charlie Tango Audi here because somewhere there is a glass of wine, a private jet and a tattered copy of Tess of the D'ubervilles that beckon me.

Peace, Love and Butt Plugs <---such a sexy term... er... no,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Pardon mah Regiolect

As an aspiring writer, I have become uncomfortably aware of my many, many language faux pas. Many. MANY. Many.

While I can pretend to be educated, Klassy and grammatically correct when I am sober and thinking clearly (an unusual combination for me), I often hear myself slipping into that well-worn bathrobe of my down-home speak that I learned back on the farm.

I can't help it. Dropping the 'g' off of anything ending in 'ing' and saying 'gonna' instead of 'going to' just feels natural; sort of like eating bacon, using a Q-Tip to clean my ears, and laughing at people when they fall.

Think about how you really say "I'm going to go driving in the country tomorrow." Most likely (if you are reading this blog) you say "I'm gonna go drivin' in the country tomorrow." You might even replace 'tomorrow' with 'tomorrah', which is fine by me.

I also think that ending sentences in prepositions is underrated. Sometimes being correct has the verbal flow of a Arkansas pig farmer quoting Shakespeare in an Australian accent while speaking Spanish. For instance, if someone walked up to me and asked, "From whence do you hail?" I would most likely contemplate throwing an apple at their head while simultaneously wondering just how far up their bum they shoved that corn cob.

While I do not go so far as to use the shudder-inducing phrase of "I seen them guys the other day...", I do hear myself making multiple grammatical and verbal errors whenever I choose to speak without first thinking freely. Then I usually shrug, stop trying to converse with other adults and go back to making up songs about kittens in the haystack for the benefit of my offspring. ♩ ♪ ♫ ♬ Kittens in the haystack, all over the barn! Crying out for milk and searching for some yarn! me-ow me-ow mew mew mew!*♩ ♪ ♫ ♬

*I just made that up right here and now, I've never even used the word 'yarn' in one of my songs. I'm CrAzY today!

Upon having a mini-seizure after hearing myself work the word 'snuck' into a sentence with a stranger, I decided to make a list of words and phrases that I feel should be pardoned from the standard rules of speech and grammar. If nothing else, I will create this list and then site it when I break the rules, thus using it to indemnify myself. Winning!

Johi's The Standardized List of Acceptable Dialect and Text Speak.

* SNUCK:  past tense form of sneak. "I called Red Dog a creepy butthole because she snuck out of the house, stalked my scent and found me a mile away on my dogless, peaceful walk." (apparently 'dogless' isn't a word either- WHATEV)

* GONNA: how normal people talk when they are relaxed or somewhat comatose. "I'm gonna watch Real Housewives now, are you gonna order a pizza?"

*  WHERE ARE YOU FROM? :how to ask someone about their place of origin without sounding like a stuck up arsehat, therefore risking fruit flying at your face or groin area.

* YA: instead of you when talking to people that you aren't trying to impress with your magnanimous wisdom. "Where ya goin'?"

* TA: in speech, instead of to. "I'm goin' ta the store."

* I WAS JUST LIKE: instead of "I said". "I was just like, 'OH MAH GAWD, you can't wear a striped shirt with striped pants!' But he did it anyway and I was all, '...then I'm sorry, but that means that we can't date.'" Listen, we all do it, even if we aren't from The Valley.

*WHATCHA DOIN'? :when speaking to people that you actually like or when you don't want to sound like a bitchy robot. "What. Are. You. DoinG?"

*SORTA: sort of not a word, yet somehow it is for so many, including myself. "I sorta know that I sound stupid when I say 'sorta', but I can't help myself."

*YEP or YEAH: instead of 'yes'. Even my two year old does this, so I know it's okay.

*WANNA: more efficient than 'want to'. And easy to use when inebriated.

*I DUNNO: because I don't know enough to enunciate.

I won't even get into punctuation. I hope you all enjoyed your lesson in acceptable Southeast Iowa dialect. It is my goal to take the stoopid out of the world. Yer welcome.

Peace, Luv and Lazy Linguistics,

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Some thoughts are better off unwritten

Every once in awhile, us older broads get all wistful about our lapsed youth. While we are loading the dishwasher, cleaning the toilet, wiping a baby's butt or paying bills, our minds will slip back to a simpler time where our concerns were about whether or not a cute boy noticed us... or what John Hughe's movie we were going to watch at the slumber party... or what hairspray to use to make your bangs the biggest. Then we sigh and go about our current demanding adult life, the one that we so eagerly yearned for and fantasized about when we were young. The one, that in our dreams, came with big boobs, great stillettos, a fantastic job and candlelit dinners alongside dashing men with chin clefts. The adult life that, in reality, brings relentless responsibilities, sagging boobs, never enough money, ratty yoga pants, unwashed hair and hamburger surprise. And we realize that we hardly ever wear those stillettos in the closet and our husband doesn't even HAVE a cleft in his chin and we probably got totally screwed somewhere along the not-so-golden road to adulthood. Then we sigh again and remember how much we just wanted to be Molly Ringwold's character in 16 Candles.

But then, there are those magical moments where we get a blast from the past that fills us with accurate memories of our childhood.

While cleaning out a trunk the other day, I discovered a box of treasures from a camp I attended in my youth. With fond thoughts of my impressionable pubescent self, I eagerly dug through the items. In the dusty cardboard box, I found a small book which, in 1988, I had listed the following quote as my favorite: "It's love that makes the world go around, but laughter that keeps it from getting dizzy."

I took a deep breath and exhaled relief. My young self did not disappoint! I was such an intuitively mature 13 year old! That is exactly how I feel today, in my mid to late thirties! It's still true- I really do try to find love in everything that I do, but laughter is the meat in my stew.

My pulse quickened with excitement as I ignored my childrens' shrieks behind me and continued to paw through the faded contents of my box of childhood memories. I couldn't wait to see what other pearls of wisdom that adolescent Johi had masterminded!

My hand clasped a blue journal with the title The unexamined life is not worth living. Know thyself. A journal! My own thoughts! I greedily snatched it from the box, eager to read more of the innocent sagacity from my 13 year old self. I noted that the paperback ledger was from a camp adventure called a "Solo", where you are cast into the dark, terrifying wilderness with merely a backpack. The backpack was filled with a few items of clothing, a water bottle, a flashlight, a plastic bag, a sleeping bag, a journal, a pen, one candy bar and one apple. You are to employ your keen endurance skills in the rugged Rocky Mountains for an entire 24 hours with only those meager items and your innermost thoughts- which are to be recorded in the sky blue diary. I thought to myself, "Near Starvation and Primal Survival! That is a beautiful formula for organic brilliance!"

As I opened the book, I felt the familiar wave of clammy heat wash through my pores. Thinking that this book contained some long forgotten innate wisdom, I was excited, yet nervous to read the deep thoughts of my tween self. I yelled at my children, "Share or I'm taking that toy away!" and I focused on the new found tiny treasure that was sure to contain great insight. Then I read.... and I tilted my head as I devoured the words.... and I furrowed my brow and read some more.... and I was awash in a fresh sheen of perspiration and I read.... and I snorted in disgust and read until the end. Then I gently shut my eyes, closed the book and threw it across the room.

The blue journal, which I had envisioned revealing some abandoned magnanimous insight, contained the biggest load of vapid bullshit that I had ever laid eyes upon. Seriously, lines like "... this swimsuit is creeping up my butt...geez! It's like a permanent wedgie" and " feet are purple and they are not even cold! Maybe it is because there is a hole in my sleeping bag." and "I ate all of my food and I'm starving. All I can think about is 'poppin' fresh dough' and melted butter!" and my favorite, which I repeated multiple times, "I have to pee." I was so disappointed in myself.

In that moment I decided that being 37 and worrying about wrinkles and weird stretch marks was fine. In fact, I'll take my almost fully developed brain and weird twitchy right eye any day over an immature mind that can only conjure up vacant drivel. God Bless a higher education! God Bless sex without guilt and shame! God Bless self confidence! God Bless martinis! God Bless MIDDLE AGE! (But the bills and the dead food in the fridge can go fuck themselves)

I have a new found appreciation for that race to the finish line where they award you AARP card that offers you lower prices on movie tickets, hair cuts and food. (Kind of like a student discount, or the '12 and Under' bargain) I love that no one can tell me to stop reading. (Well, my kids do, but I mostly ignore them) I am grateful that I can find so many fascinating and adult topics to discuss with my mature friends. (Come back next week, I'm giving away a vibrator and maybe a unicorn!!!!) I am thrilled that I can watch any movie, with any rating, at any time. (I'm probably watching Mean Girls, one of my favorites, tonight. I think it is AT LEAST PG-13.)

Errr.... ?

Now, if you'll excuse me, these underwear are irritating me because they are riding up my crack and I really, really have to pee.

Peace, Love and Endless Immaturity,

Monday, September 3, 2012

Seven Years Later and Not Even Itchy

"Marriage is nature's way of keeping us from fighting with strangers." ~the quote on the anniversary card that I presented to my husband. Cuz I'm all romantical and stuffs.

Yesterday marked my seven year wedding anniversary. Oh how time flies! Because Brock and I took the leap of faith, joined hands and exchanged vows, we have experienced things that exceeded our expectations of life: like 'vacationing' in the MidWest and bills and babies and diapers and more diapers and sleepless nights and laughter and arguments and many many boxes of wine and the greatest love imaginable- because without US, there would be no Things- and have you all seen the cuteness there?

Yesterday, to celebrate our love, we hired a babysitter and left the house in fancy (i.e CLEAN) clothes. Brock and I enjoyed a wonderful anniversary date. Do you know what the best part of it was? (besides eating food that I didn't shop for, cook, then clean up?) We still genuinely like each other. I think that is a sign of more good things for our future. Plus we are still all romantic and shit. Like when I gently told him to use his napkin to remove the bit of food that was stuck to his chin stubble and skeeving me out, and when he told me that I looked like a hooker, but a high class one! And I was HIS hooker, so I should be happy! *Note to self: wear leggings with that dress next time...*

When I think back on our seven years of marriage, a few moments stand out as 'extra special':

Naturally, our wedding day was amazing. Brock and I had a mountain wedding under a flower filled arbor by a stream on a gorgeous day. We were surrounded by the people that we love the most while music and laughter filled the air. We vowed our love for one another and smiled and clinked our champagne glasses together in the sparkling sunlight. It seriously was magical. Our cake was decorated in tiny birds and we sang Karaoke. There was even a horse drawn carriage, a not-so-virginal white-ish dress and a limerick from my sister, from which she kindly removed "Ho-ey" as a word that rhymed with Johi. It was magical. We have made so many beautiful memories from that day forward.

Of course, the births of our two boys were two of the most cherished moments of all time for both Brock and me. The fear, the pain, the joy and the overwhelming feeling of the most intense love on the planet are what mark those moments as significant and emblazon them into our hearts. The years that we have spent together, practicing (sometimes succeeding and other times failing) to be good parents, has been challenging and hilarious and frustrating and AMAZING. Nothing makes us feel joy as much as watching our kids, the people that WE CREATED, be joyful and exuberant about life. Damn, do we love those kids. We are so thankful our children.

Some of my favorite memories with Brock are the simple moments that we have spent with friends. Some times we were standing in our tiny kitchen, lounging around our island that I conjured up and Brock created, discussing important topics; like interest rates, politics and dildos. There is usually wine and a lovely selection of meat and cheese involved. Other times we were sitting in second hand chairs around our fire pit in the back yard, talking and laughing and dodging the smoke. Sometimes we laughed with each other and other times we laughed at each other. We have great friends. Smart, funny, witty and engaging people. We are so blessed with an amazing support system.

But my favorite moments? The best? They happen at night, when the two of us are snuggled into our bed, safely ensconced between the white sheets that I selected for us and the old door that Brock hung on the wall as a headboard. There we talk about life. We focus on each other. We reconnect. We watch movies that are inappropriate for children. We giggle, chuckle and snort. We shrug off the day. And we sleep. And even when he snores or steals the blankets or tries to watch Sponge Bob or the Classic Tractor Parade, I love him, and I love us. We are so lucky to have each other.

And now I will write another horrible poem titled Year Seven:

Seven years of laughter and tears.
Seven years of wine and beer(s?).
Seven years of kisses and hugs.
Seven years and four living room rugs.(damn gross animals!) 
Seven years of marriage we've shared.
Seven years we've loved and we've cared.
Seven years and not even itching,
 Even though my right eye does a fair bit of twitching.
Seven years of mostly really good times.
Seven years of my always really bad rhymes.
Seven years down, many more on the horizon.
I look forward to our future, together,*she HIGH FIVES him*(not even in the face). 
I have only one warning, for my love that is true.
Unless you can find better programs on TV, I'm hiding the remote control from you.

So THANK YOU, Brock, for making my life what it is today. Thank you for the support. Thank you for the love. Thank you for your loyalty. Thank you for your friendship. Thank you for taking this journey with me. And thank you for telling me the truth; like last night when I told you that I was going to take off my make-up and to 'be prepared' and you said that I was just as beautiful without makeup. Then I looked at you and smirked and you laughed and said, "Well, I'll just use my imagination!" Thanks for that.

As I said in my card, "I promise to love and cherish you every day. Well.... at least four times a week." And I mean it.

Peace, Love and Happy Marriages,