I’m Listening

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Oh. I get it, I should listen to you because you are a man. No, wait. I should listen to you because you are 30 years older than I am. 

Oh, really? Huh. I have never heard this before. I’m pretty sure this is exactly 100% wrong. 

Oh, damn. I had no idea every single doctor, pharmacist, nurse, nurse practitioner, and physician assistant I have ever worked with has been treating these conditions wrong. 

Oh! You are older, smarter, wiser, and just all around better than I am. I will blindly follow whatever path you have suggested. Don’t fret. I won’t worry my pretty little head about it at all. 

Falling

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I’m afraid of everything. Heights, bridges, new places, new people, failure, success, loneliness, entrapment…. and falling. 

In every way falling can happen. 

I’m afraid of falling down. That shit hurts! 

I’m afraid of falling in love. That hurts too. 

I’m afraid of falling out of love. Especially after all that work to fall in love. 

I’m afraid of falling off a bridge. I would die. Or worse, I would just be hurt and unable to support myself. 

I’m afraid of falling after I trip over air. People just don’t believe something grabbed my foot. 

Falling is probably the worst thing imaginable. Why would anyone do it? 

Tom Waits said it best. “I hope that I don’t fall in love with you. ‘Cause falling in love just makes me blue.” Except by the end of the song even good old Tom was falling in love. 

Chicago, on a Monday evening. I find myself sitting in a piano bar, the only patron. The bartender, Mike is prepping for the night. The piano player and his wife are up on stage, no set list in sight. He complains somewhat gruffly the piano is slightly out of tune. I can’t hear it. 

I have my new book, The Accidental Life, and it is no accident I had to buy it, as well as five other books at the bookstore I just spent an hour wandering through. Nothing humbles me as much as being surrounded by someone’s work. This book is a collection of essays by Terry McDonell, an editor who worked for Rolling Stone back in the Hunter S. Thompson glory days. I feel like I am getting a grand tour into some secret club full of the people I wish I were brave enough to emulate. 

Tito’s and soda, music, and my book. I couldn’t be more content. 

I can’t help but start thinking of ways to describe this moment. These are the memories I want to preserve. When I am old, I want to remember this feeling. The times I was at peace with myself, no inner war and unease. Just me. 

I made a list of the songs I heard while sitting at that bar. 

Wonderful Tonight. He’s no Clapton, but it’s easy to be transported to an imaginary place where a man loves you so much. Even if you have never experienced this. The song makes you feel it is really possible to be loved by a flawed man, and for it to be perfect. 

The piano player asks me (the audience) if I like Tom Waits. What? I love Tom Waits. He plays Ol’ 55. I sway along and read my book, murmuring the words under my breath. Next up is John Prine’s Angel from Montgomery. His guitar playing wife singing in a nice harmony. They are good together. It’s a nice rendition. 

Next, he plays another Tom song, An Invitation for the Blues. I also get introduced to a band called Little Feat, that I have to google. Willin’ is quite a song. I like it. 

Maybe I don’t have to be so scared of falling. 

I can lose myself temporarily in music, books, love, lust, stories, and adventures. I can always scramble up out of the hole into the real world. 

My Neverland, Wonderland, Imaginary World is always waiting for me. I just have to allow myself to fall into it. 

Maybe falling isn’t so bad. 

Sexual Healing

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I’ve been thinking. Okay, that’s a lie. I’ve been procrastinating. (When I started this I was supposed to be packing.) What is the thing that makes great sex great? 

I feel like I have read something about this somewhere. It’s not like there is a shortage of people writing about this topic.

Great sex. I guess you could start with a tutorial on how to give a great blowjob. The trick is to start with…

Of course I am not writing a lesson on fellatio! What the hell is wrong with you? My grandparents are my most loyal readers! As far as they are concerned I don’t even know what that is. I have only had sex one time, and that was to conceive my child. I’m certainly not the kind of girl who does that! Sheesh. According to the comments on Facebook that would make me immoral. And dirty. A very bad girl. 

Once again, not the point

So, what makes great sex great? 

Communication. Listening, Responding. Following the leader. 

Some people are into dirty talk, while other people have no idea how to talk dirty and they say something stupid. “I have some sour cream for your love taco.” Yeah, no. Maybe in this instance a little less talking would be better. Guys please don’t say that. It’s weird. Also don’t ask her to call you Buffalo Bill. That either means you want to kill her or you think she’s fat. 

According to some mythological law great sex involves lots of positions and strategies. 6 licks here, move your hips clockwise 4.5 times, pull your foot up to scratch his ear. A+B (F+C) e=mc2, {G+c@^4} does not always work. There is no formula for good sex. It’s not the foxtrot or the Super Bowl.  Don’t spend so much time focusing on your routine that you forget about the guy or girl you are supposed to be… (insert that word my mom says we don’t say on Facebook.) You know, the F word.

Have  you ever had sex with someone who was trying to prove their sexual prowess?

Come on girls, you know the guy I am talking about. The Stud. The guy who tells you how great he is bed, describes the magnificence of his legendary penis, nonchalantly mentions the hoards of women who want to sleep with him. He is the best lay any of these women have ever had. He could be a porn star, but he intimidates all the actors. You should feel lucky. He has never failed to “give” a woman more orgasms than she can count. (Insert eye roll here.) Don’t sleep with this dude. This is guy is a loser with an inferiority complex. This attitude is disgusting. 

Not all sex is great sex. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad. It can be fun. You can have a great time. Maybe it’s just a distraction or stress reliever. Maybe it’s just something to do. I’m not judging. Do what makes you happy. 

Great sex doesn’t start with taking off your clothes. It starts with communication. Flirting. Talking. Just leave the weird taco references out of it. Unless you are bringing tacos. Then we can talk about tacos. 

Pay attention to your lover. Isn’t that a strange word? Lover. It sounds so weird to me. Let me try a different one. Partner. Pay attention to your partner. Teammate? FWB? 

Boring sex usually means you are not that into the person, or they are not that into you, and you probably should not be sleeping with them. Granted, every single time may not be mind blowing, earth- shattering euphoria, but you shouldn’t be bored! 

Remember the scene from Jerry Mcguire with Tom Cruise and Kelly Bishop banging against the bookshelves? She is screaming at the top of her lungs and Tom is looking annoyed. I don’t think he was really digging her. The dog yawned. I love the dog. If only one of you is caterwauling and really into it, the performance feels a little disingenuous. Don’t carry on like a raving lunatic unless it is really amazing. Be honest! You shouldn’t be able to jump up and “grab some fruit” if you have just had an orgasm that left the neighbors suspecting you are possessed with some kinky poltergeist. 

Which leads me to my next point. Maybe it is the same point. I don’t know. Please don’t have sex with people if you don’t really want to. It shouldn’t be an obligation. It’s not going to be fun if you would rather watch that episode of Friends y’all started on Netflix. Netflix and chill may be a euphemism for sex, but it’s okay if you really wanted to watch Netflix. Even if you have had sex with this person in the past, even if you are in a relationship, even if you are married, if you don’t want to have sex, don’t. It doesn’t matter what magic tricks he has up his sleeve, if you are not into it, it’s going to suck. 

Hopefully you are sleeping with people you know and like, maybe even love. Great sex doesn’t just happen. It’s not something one falls into. I’ve been working on this post for four days and I am no closer to defining great sex than when I started. Maybe I need more practice. 

Pictures

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I have a few photos on social media of me with paramours who are no longer part of my life. 

One of them felt like a big deal. I even changed my relationship status to “In a relationship.” I’ll never do that again. 

I am not deleting them. 

I am not adding snarky comments about how they turned out to be major douchebags. 

My Facebook account and to a lesser extent Instagram are a diary of my experiences. Memories of fun nights out, my thoughts on current events, and even random thoughts that make no sense now are available for my reminiscing pleasure. Why would I pretend something or someone never happened? 

We have all seen the TV and movie montages where the scorned girl seeks catharsis by cutting or burning a lover out of her life. I guess it may help in some cases. It’s not for me though. 

Despite the way things ended up, nevermind my heartache, these people influenced the person I am today. 

I am also quite happy in these photos. You can see the excitement of new love, lust, or whatever it was, and it illustrates the hope I still have for the future. I look cute. All aglow with sparkling eyes. 

Yes, I know I blacked his face out for this post. Seems to contradict my whole point, but maybe the point isn’t who he was. The point is who I was at that moment. I was a girl, giddy and vulnerable, willing to document the moment I knew I was smitten. 


My word choice baffles me now. Consistently. Hmmm. Perhaps it sheds a little light on what I value in relationships. Nevermind that looking back, it’s completely untrue. There was nothing consistent about him. Seriously. Epitome of dude who is most likely married and lying about it. 

I get to keep my memories of the time I truly believed I had met someone special. I get to keep the souvenir of the excitement of a new relationship. It doesn’t matter what it was to him. I don’t even know what he was experiencing. It turns out that wasn’t the point. I had zero control over who he was or wasn’t. 

Let’s be honest, by the end of it all, he just wasn’t very nice. 

I’m not going to delete or attempt to erase my past, no matter how untrue it turned out to be. It was real at that moment and I get to keep it. 

“It’s not the destination, but the journey” may sound cliche. I am too frequently guilty of thinking of “my journey.”  But it was my trip, I paid for the gas and traveled across a new land. The ending sucked and I was embarrassed and hurt; I am keeping the evidence to remind me how much I enjoyed the ride. 

Jason Isbell 

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Jason Isbell is my generation’s poet troubadour. 

I wish I had the vocabulary to describe his music in an educated-knows-what-she-is-talking-about manner, but I don’t. The first thing coming to my mind is a word stolen from Cameron Crowe in Almost Famous, “Incendiary.” Except I am no William Miller and I will never get to write for Rolling Stone magazine. Actually, I am no Cameron Crowe either. 

Last night I spent 2 hours in music fangirl bliss listening to my favorite artist crooning into the microphone and wailing on his guitar, while his beautiful charming and haunting wife played with his band, The 400 Unit in Canadaigua, New York. I feel a kinship with Amanda Shires because she is from Lubbock, Texas, my home. Her voice adds a unique dimension to his vocals, and the sound of her fiddle felt like it was drifting across the venue and sneaking into my brain. I know, that sounds cheesy, but it was truly a visceral experience.

I had good intentions of attempting to write a smart, worthy read of a review. I even started a note so I could keep up with the set list. It only has one entry because I forgot my grand plans about 12 seconds into the first number, Anxiety. 

It felt like I was being swept away by his lyrics and melodic imagery, and I was too busy swaying and singing along. I couldn’t critique the show. I was too busy living it. 

I tried to educate myself on the vernacular used to describe his music. People who have never heard of him ask me “Is he country?” My stock answer is “No, he’s amazing.” Sorry, Mom- but he’s different. 

Perhaps I could call him a storyteller. I feel like each of his songs are showing me a new way to describe yearning, guilt, appreciation, and pride all wrapped up in guitar and fiddle strings. 

It would be presumptuous for me to start trying to break down his lyrics and explaining what they must mean, so I won’t do that. 

I guess the point is, maybe music reviews are just bullshit. If we are lucky, we get to go to a show and feel like someone is showing us a different point of view. Perhaps they are teaching us a lesson. Maybe it’s all just some attempt to ease the disquiet sitting just beneath our sternum, the little motor of Anxiety that keeps us awake at night even when all is right in our world. 

I’m not a musician, poet, or artist at all. I’m just a fangirl who appreciates when someone gives me a catharsis and allows me to feel a little more of a connection with humanity. 

Perhaps that is the point. Live music gives us a vehicle to connect. It’s intoxicating. Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit left me feeling a little Something More than Free. 

Battle Wounds

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I was just trying to be pretty. Girly. Feminine. A real woman. Maybe I was trying to punish myself, one will never know. (I just love saying one… it makes me feel so grown up and sophisticated.) 

Nevermind that I never actually used a curling iron. I only mastered the flat iron… and only for straightening, in the last couple of years. Mastered is being used lightly here. More like can sometimes do a passable job. 

Nevermind I ran out of my travel-sized hairspray. You know what that means dontcha? Yep. All those curls I burned my poor fingers for fell out. 

Nevermind some of my DNA must have gotten lost. I didn’t get the MAC gene. Unless you count an obsession with eyeliner. Expensive eyeliner. That I am not even good at applying. 

Nevermind my eyebrows never match, lending me an air of perplexed annoyance most of the time. 

Nevermind my right eyeball that is a magnet for mascara wands, which causes excessive tearing and smearing of my foundation. 

Nevermind my streaky foundation settling into my pores. My contour game is awesome though. If you call tiger stripes awesome. 

Max Factor, Bobbi Brown, Sephora are the bane of my messy attempts to look like I made an effort to look effortlessly put together. Does Max Factor even still exist? 

I have a whole box of bandaids, so I guess I can’t give up yet. Damn you beauty vloggers. 

Maybe someday I will be presentable without all the battle wounds. 

Sex in Planes???

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I did something today for the first time. 

Yes! I was obviously afraid people would hear. I normally reserve these activities for the privacy of a hotel room. Yes, it was awkward and uncomfortable. I bumped my elbow and my pants were a little crooked when I walked out. I felt 200 pairs of eyes glaring at me as I sashayed down the aisle back to my seat. 

I felt a little dirty by the time I was finished. I was a little paranoid about what may have ended up on my clothing. I was a little wheezy and sweaty by the time the ordeal was over. 

I’ve read about people doing this and after my experience I am still flummoxed as to why they would want to. 

No! I didn’t have sex on the plane. I did pee though. That was horrible enough. 

Good Morning Texts

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It’s nice when someone thinks of you. It’s even nicer when they drop you a line to let you know they thought of you. 

Sometimes we get so caught up in the game we forget how good it feels to be in someone’s thoughts. 

Don’t hold back. Enjoy the feelings. Stay in the present. It’s a good place to be.

It makes me smile to wake up to a good morning text. 

So, think of me. 

I Didn’t Believe You

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Once upon a time, many years ago, an entire generation of teenage girls, or maybe it was just me, belted out inappropriate song lyrics about oral sex in theaters and angry diatribes about how men have done us wrong. We were strong and we could talk about sex, love, and life just like the boys. 

It was all so dramatic.

I was raised to believe I can do anything I want to do. My family indulged my whims and supported me completely. Even when their little girl eschewed all that was feminine. I was allowed to wear short hair and men’s clothing if that’s what made me feel strong. I believed I was no different than the guys. Feminism was outdated and no longer necessary. We had equal rights, thanks to the women who fought for us. Unfortunately, I also equated feminists with man hating, bra burning, no shaving screeching misandrists. 

I mistakenly believed women who complained were overly sensitive and needed to learn to go with the flow. If you wanted to play with the boys you couldn’t get mad when they treated you like one of the guys. They were only kidding. 

Except we never were one of the guys. Our attempts at learning leadership skills were equated with shrew bitchiness. Any effort at assertiveness was offensive. In order to be one of the guys we had to become weak. If we complained, we were difficult and must be dealt with. At work I was often shushed and put in my place by men. My input was ignored in favor of male members of the team. I could do nothing right. 

This attitude is pervasive in the work place. Even in a predominately female profession like nursing men are preferred. Men advance faster and their opinions more respected. 

So, what role should feminism play in my professional development? How can I become a better leader? How do I protect myself and my female colleagues from discrimination and harassment? 

Sometimes I still want to be one of the guys. I want to be included in the jokes and respected for my contributions. 

How do we fix this? 

How do we make these conversations more productive instead of resorting to complaining and man bashing? 

More importantly, why is this still an issue in 2017?

So, We Laugh. 

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Wait a second. What is happening? Is this really happening? Now? With all these people watching? What do I do? What did I do to cause this? Oh my God, what will people think? I don’t want to be the bitch who causes a scene. Maybe if I just stay really quiet and still this will stop. Why are you massaging my shoulders? I don’t like it when anyone does that. Oh, what the hell? What are these nurses thinking right now? Do they think I want this to be happening? Can they see the shock and horror on my face? Do I want them to feel sorry for me? Can I just play this off as a weird joke? Am I overreacting? Is this okay? Why do I feel so weird? Is it odd I am a little scared? This just took a very bad turn. Maybe it’s okay. He doesn’t mean anything by this. Who am I to assume this is anything unusual? I don’t want him to hate me. I just want to fit in. I just laugh nervously and catch the charge nurse’s eye. She is not surprised. 

We laugh about this situation several times over the next couple of days. The next time it happens I am a little less shocked, but even more uncomfortable. I feel like I should say something, but I don’t know how. 

He’s MARRIED. He’s basically my boss. He would not be doing anything that is inappropriate. What kind of person misinterprets someone just being nice as something sexual? I am the one who is unprofessional. I’m not the kind of girl people randomly pursue anyway. I need to chill. Besides, no. Not ever in a million years. 

So, I laugh. 

I laugh about it with the nurses. They regale me with other shocking stories and examples of bad behavior. The doctor that asked the nurse to help him diagnose some problem with a patient’s penis by googling images and having her look at them with him, nevermind that he draped his arm around her shoulder.  Hang on. WHAT? How can he possibly think that is okay? How socially blind can you be? Cues! Can he not see the cues? Maybe he really did just want some help figuring out the diagnosis. I’m sure he meant nothing by it. He’s just a gigantic dork. He didn’t get many girls in high school. He doesn’t know. 

So, we laugh. 

We ignore the vaguely threatening tone when he discusses issues with us. “It’s a friendly chat.” He is on our side, as long as we a team player. He just wants to reassure me that we all want the same things here. This conversation can stay between us.  What happens when I tell you to leave me alone? Professional development should not have to be a secret. 

So, we laugh. 

You can tell the laughter is masking something else. I wonder if part of it is fear. 

As healthcare providers we rely on our team. When people like us and think we are fun to work with, the day is so much better. We depend on inappropriate humor to shield us from the horrors of our work lives. We spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our family and friends. We don’t necessarily want to maintain strict professional boundaries at all times. We need and want to be close to our work family. The lines have to be blurred. Does this mean we can’t stand up for ourselves? 

Nobody wants to be the uptight bitch who tattles about trivial things. We don’t want to be the narc who doesn’t sneak drinks to the nurse’s station. We would never dream of reporting someone for playing on their phone during a rare moment of downtime. The rules are made to be broken. 

So, we laugh. 

Sometimes we need physical contact with our coworkers. Sometimes playful banter (even wildly inappropriate banter) is what gets us through the day. 

So, we laugh. 

We all know how bad it can be if the people we work with or for do not like us. They will find fault with every decision we make. We will be written up for every infraction of “policy.” It’s easy to get rid of the people who don’t fit in. 

We need them to have our back when there is conflict. We need a resource. We are dependent on them for security and protection from other providers and even sometimes patients. 

So, we laugh. 

We don’t speak up when someone violates our personal space. We allow people to touch us in a way that makes us uncomfortable. We smile and pretend it doesn’t bother us. 

We don’t tell someone we are not comfortable perusing photos of penises with their arm around our shoulders at the nurse’s station. We sit there and wonder how we got into this situation. 

If we don’t laugh, it could mean this is serious. It could leave us feeling vulnerable when we are already in danger every day. If this isn’t funny and no big deal, it means it is hostile and we are victims. 

So, I am afraid we will continue to laugh. We will train our new nurses to allow “friendly” assaults on our bodies. After all, we are all on the same team.