Big, Bold-Faced words Regarding My Thoughts on College Prep

Image result for felicity huffman lori loughlin
Don’t be like Lori and Felicity. CAN WE ALL JUST CHILL OUT ABOUT COLLEGE?
photo credit

I love words, and there are many words in the English language that speak to my soul. Epiphany, solitude, grace, schism, and ambivalent to name a few. My word of the moment, though, is curmudgeon: a bad tempered person, especially an old one. Somehow in the past few years, I’ve morphed into an 85 year old malcontent who walked five miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways of course.

In actuality, I walked maybe three blocks to school. There were a few years there when I had to then get on a bus and ride five minutes across town to the early elementary school. And I had a car before the end of my freshman year. Because I was spoiled (there were some other extenuating circumstances, but whatevs).

Since there weren’t any, I cannot wax nostalgic about my hardships getting to and from school; but I can grumble about my college prep experience. Though I’m not really grumbling, because it WAS ALL OK. There is of course a caveat: anything I tell you in regards to this topic is to the best of my memory (which is suspect, since this was 25ish years ago and it’s been fairly well established that I typically can’t remember what happened to me yesterday).

When I was a junior in high school, we were encouraged to take the PSAT, so I signed up. Upon signing up, I received an information packet and a practice test, all hard copies of course. I took the practice test. I may even have taken it twice (I was a fastidious student). I took the test. My score, as I recall, was good. Perhaps even slightly above average. I started getting flyers for college in the mail.

Early in my senior year of high school, I signed up to take the ACT. Upon signing up, I received an information packet and a practice test, all hard copies of course. I took the practice test. I may even have taken it twice (I was a fastidious student). I took the test. I think I got a 28. I also think I scored really well in reading and comprehension and maybe not as well in science and reasoning. For some reason, I opted to sign up and take it again. I vaguely recall some schools I was interested in offering some financial aid for scores of 29 or above, but who the hell can really remember? Upon signing up, I received an information packet and a practice test, all hard copies of course. I took the practice test. I may even have taken it twice (I was a fastidious student). Did that last sentence sound familiar? I think I got a 29.

I went to college at a small-ish liberal arts establishment, then did a clinical year in a big university hospital. I got two bachelor of science degrees in five years. I acquired some debt (admittedly nothing like what students today are facing). I was very intentional about making sure I would be employable upon completion of my education. Somewhere in there I got married. I got a job. I had kids. I quit my job. I currently live the dream with a spouse, a house, two kids and a dog.

There were some mistakes along the way. I perhaps should’ve paid more attention to the fact that I scored higher in reading and comprehension than I did science and reasoning when choosing a career path. In the interest of scrupulousness and unmitigated honesty, I should tell you I don’t remember what the test sections were actually called and I’m too lackadaisical to look up that information on the google. At any rate, I was more adept with words than equations; and some aptitude testing would’ve likely been pragmatic. BUT, I did the best I could with the information I had. And, despite some mistakes, I AM OKAY.

Here’s what I understand: My son is a high school sophomore. The next two years are going to race by. I’m going to blink twice and *hopefully* be taking photos of my boy in his cap and gown. It’s definitely time to start thinking about what life after high school is going to look for both of my children.

Here’s what I don’t understand: The frenzy going on around me. The agonizing over what AP courses to sign up for, the collective anxiety about getting into college, the Facebook inquiries about which AP test prep books are the best, which test coach (seriously! seriously?!) to hire.

Some of this is admittedly the bed I’ve made. Our family lives in a district that touts having perhaps the best schools in the state. The adult population around me is highly educated, driven, and successful in their careers. The frenzy about me is undoubtedly largely a function of the population we’ve surrounded our family with.

BUT. Shouldn’t an advantage of living in such a place be that maybe, just maybe, we could let go of some of this anxiety? Could we perhaps not stress about having the premier AP test prep book and instead put a little faith in the educators who tirelessly work to make sure these kids are ready for the exam? I have this sneaking suspicion that these course instructors ALSO want our kids to be successful, so perhaps we should simply let them do their thing, have our kids attend the outside of class prep sessions these men and women conduct on their own time, and let the chips fall where they may.

If my attitude is giving you an anxiety attack, please quit reading. This is going to get worse.

Because I’m going to take this ‘let the chips fall where they may’ idea a little farther. It’s not just the AP instructors who have an interest in our kids testing well. OTHER TEACHERS WANT OUR KIDS TO DO WELL, TOO. So, maybe, just maybe simply going to school, doing the assigned work, and taking advantage of the available resources is the test prep. I am, indeed, suggesting that perhaps simply taking the practice test for the ACT is sufficient preparation. I am, indeed, suggesting that our children might do just fine without us worrying so damn much about a test score. I am, indeed, suggesting that OUR KIDS ARE GOING TO BE OK.

Our kids are all going to get into college, y’all. It may not be an Ivy League institution. It might not be our first choice school for them. They might have to transfer after a year or two. We’re going to make mistakes. Our kids are going to make some too. So, how about we cool it with the stressing ourselves out, stressing our kids out, and putting ourselves in this utterly unnecessary pressure cooker? OUR KIDS ARE GOING TO BE OK. We’re going to be OK too. It’s ALL GOING TO BE OK. And all this travail is turning me into a curmudgeon.

In my day, there was no test coach. We signed up, took the practice tests, and went to college. And it was all just fine, DAMMIT.

Words Fail, But Here are 1,119 Anyway

The Civil Rights Tour. If we’re not Facebook friends (or if you’ve gifted yourself and hidden or muted me, which I’d applaud you for), it was a week long trek through the deep south visiting monuments (churches, museums, cemeteries, and institutions such as the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Equal Justice Initiative) and listening to and talking with foot soldiers. I’ve spent the two and a half weeks since I returned ruminating, reading, honing my Civil Rights playlist, listening to podcasts, and trying to re-enter reality. And, to be honest, contemplating what ‘reality’ even means after such an experience.

I’ve also, of course, tried repeatedly to write about it. In another tab of my browser, I currently have another draft (1137 words!) where I tried to describe the trip; blathering on about why I didn’t care to use the term life-changing. In it, I had settled on the term visceral as the overall descriptor. For better or worse, I walked away from it without completing it. When I came back to it, I hated it. I’m vowing to myself to plow through this today and hit publish, even though I know from plenty of experience the same damn thing will happen. At some point (could be minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years) I’ll read this again and wonder why I EVER thought it would be a good idea to post it.

Yet, here we are.

I could share with you our entire itinerary and expound upon my reactions to all of it, but instead I’m going to try and give you a little window into what was going on in my gray matter (be afraid, be very afraid). There was a fair amount of turmoil involved, which should surprise no one.

I wanted to take dozens of photos at every stop,

so I wouldn’t forget anything. But I also wanted to drop kick my camera into oncoming traffic, so I could quit trying to preserve the moments and instead be fully present.

I wanted to photograph each man and woman we heard from,

because it felt so incredible to simply be in the same rooms, breathing the same air with them. But I often couldn’t bring myself to do it, because it felt irreverent to even attempt to capture their essences in a still photo. I did take photos of a couple of them, but am sitting here feeling a fair amount of regret for not have gotten a photo of Carolyn McKinstry, because I feel like the hour I spent listening to her was perhaps one of the most important hours of my life. But, then again, perhaps that’s because I had put the damn camera away and was fully present.

I wanted to grab my American history high school teacher by the lapels, shake him, and interrogate him

as to why there was so much of what I was learning that I didn’t already know. Seventeen year old Anne could clearly see the guy was useless and my week hammered that idea home. And yet, I felt some sympathy for him. Because he didn’t write the curriculum. And, if we’re being real, I questioned whether or not I’d have wanted to hear any of this coming from him; because there is no way he could’ve done the topic justice. And even if he’d been the best history teacher on earth, it’s entirely possible the significance would’ve been lost on a large percentage of the student body. Even me, though I fancied myself to be fairly woke at the time (long before woke carried the connotation it does today).

I was fairly obsessed with booking the same trip for my children

before I even got home, as soon as possible; primarily because so many of the foot soldiers are getting on in age. I fretted about the possibility that some of these greats could well be lost before my kids get to hear from them. But I also want to make sure my kids are ready, that they are in a place where they can appreciate the gravity of the era– what was at stake, the extraordinary people involved, the risks taken, the consequences suffered. And, there is admittedly some part of me worried about whether or not my kids could handle it. Though, ultimately, I know the outcome of insulating them from our past is decidedly not an outcome I want. Which is sadly where I differ from a very vocal minority of fellow parents within my school district. That, as I often say, is a post for another day.

Now that I’ve pounded out some words, we come to the point in my process where I question, question, question. Is my inadequacy in talking about this important, phenomenal trip doing it a disservice? Should I deep six the whole thing? Will my words be misunderstood? Should I just keep my mouth shut and continue ruminating internally?

The answer to all of those is undoubtedly a maybe. And yet, not writing about it doesn’t feel like an option.

Not the order I’d have liked for these photos, but I can’t figure out how to fix it.

Super Whey Extra

Inspired by the many posts I’ve seen encouraging reducing plastic usage during Lent, and armed with a new instant pot; I’ve decided to try my hand at yogurt making. I gotta say, the process was way easier than anticipated, and the yogurt is actually good (and, as an added and somewhat unexpected bonus: it looks, tastes, and smells like yogurt). This is groovy because it saves money AND the two plastic containers I typically put in the recycling bin each week. BUT, there’s always a but. I like thick (Greek style, I suppose you could say) yogurt and the straining yields a lot of whey. The photo below is after straining just half of my first batch.

The interwebs have all sorts of suggestions for using this byproduct. Soak your grains! Use it in pizza crust! Fix your soil’s pH! Cook your pasta in it! Use it to feed your livestock! I’ve used exclamation points because enthusiasts always seem very excited about the many uses for whey!!!!

Problem is, I don’t make pizza crust, or measure the pH of my soil, or soak grains, or own livestock; and throwing it in when I’m boiling pasta weirds me out a bit.

There are uses that seem more feasible to me: putting it in smoothies, substituting for buttermilk, using as the acid when making a vinaigrette, or mixing into pet food.

While I’m sure my pup would love a little extra zing in her kibble, these options still strike me as odd, and perhaps a little too hippy dippy for a conventional gal like myself.

So, I’m asking you wise people. Do you ever have extra whey, sitting around, looking a li’l like a urine sample in your fridge (you can take the girl outta the lab…)? Have you found a great use for it? Have you tried any of the suggested uses that you’d highly recommend? I’d seriously love to hear from you.

In the interest of posting a photo that doesn’t resemble urine, I give you yogurt, made by yours truly. Oddly cropped, because the sides of the jar are messy and I don’t give AF. #NotAFoodPhotographer

Oh, Ash Wednesday

Oh, Ash Wednesday. Like so many occasions this year, I underestimated how hard you’d be this time around. I’m certain it’s a function of ignorance, or denial, or both.

Was there any chance that hearing ‘you are dust and to dust you shall return’ in the presence of the ashes of she who imposed them upon my forehead last year would be anything less than gut wrenching?

No, of course not.

And yet, I sit here again, shocked at the depth of feeling. Surprised by how much it hurts to remember the year she stood before us, with tears streaming down her own face as she imposed ashes on all of us; because she’d just lost her father. Bewildered that, even though it does bring a smile to my face, I can’t help but tear up remembering her tell the story of one of her pastoral colleagues, who burned something she shouldn’t have when making ashes for the service (hardwood, of some sort, I think?). When mixed with water, those ashes formed lye and burned the image of the cross on parishioners’ foreheads. I can’t remember why she shared that story, or who she was sharing it with (confirmation kids, I think). Oh, how I wish I could remember every last detail. Of everything she ever said to us.

I recall being told ashes for imposition are made by burning the branches from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. I have no idea if that’s what happens at my church or not, but for today I’m choosing to believe it is. That the ashes currently upon my head came from palms she waved. Whether or not it’s true, I like the thought.

I’m not giving up anything for Lent, and I’m not undertaking any new disciplines for the next 40 days, but I am aspiring to be more present and in the moment when walking through my daily life, and to do so with gratitude. Such things are not inherently in my nature, so I’ll be channelling my inner-Stephanie, who was the most present person I’ve ever known. What a gift we were given.

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I Tried Noom for Two Weeks. You’ll Never Guess What Happened Next.

Now that I’ve provided you with your daily dose of click bait, let’s move on. But one of the first things that happened was, I shit you not, I gained two pounds.

And, can I go ahead and say I’m feeling plenty of disdain and disbelief about the fact that I’m writing a blog post about weight loss? Life is definitely like a box of chocolates, this is where I am this week. Hashtag insert shoulder shrug emoji here.

I don’t know if everybody sees the incessant Facebook ads for Noom, or if they’re more specifically pointed to middle aged ladies who blog and repeatedly mention they’ve got 20 plus pounds (let’s just go with 20, ummmmmKAY??) to lose; but after months of them yelling at me about how fat I’d gotten (ok, they maybe weren’t exactly yelling, and their messaging may have been a bit more nuanced, but whatevs), I finally clicked on the link after the first of the year. My intent was simply to go to their website and learn a little more. Which you can’t really do, because they direct you to a questionnaire about your goals and whatnot, which resulted in them telling me, “of course you can lose 30 pounds by April!!!,” and then offering me a free two week trial.

I have, essentially, zero experience with dieting. When my kids were little and I was trying to figure out what being a stay at home mom was going to look like for me, our family joined the YMCA. More days than not, I took advantage of the available two hours of childcare. Not because I was terribly enthused about working out, but because the thought of being able to take an uninterrupted shower in the locker room while someone kept my kids from sticking a fork into an electrical socket was HIGHLY motivating. But, I worked out too, usually in the form of slogging out six miles on the treadmill or participating in a group cycle class. Through the Y, Chris and I spent one spring/summer in a triathlon club (I did exactly one triathlon and, I shit you not, was the LAST person out of the water for the swim portion), and then a run club. For a handful of years, fitness became social for us. We were a fit family, and I was certain we always would be. I had zero fear of the screeching halt that would come to my exercise and metabolism when I hit my late 30’s and early 40’s. I didn’t pay attention to what I ate, because I didn’t need to. There was plenty of uncertainty in our lives during those years, but by God, I had health and fitness figured out to an absolutely annoying degree. I hereby apologize for incessantly inundating you with status updates about marathon training and the joys of running. Cue the Indigo Girls: Every five years or so I look back on my life and I have a good laugh.

Anyhoo. Back to Noom. What harm could a two week trial do, right? They sucked me in, I gave it a go. Not because I really anticipated I’d lose 30 pounds in 16 weeks (because framing it like that made it feel impossible for me), but because somewhere they wrote something to the effect of ‘participants typically lose 1-2 pounds per week.’ Something about that statement seemed manageable, doable, sustainable. I’d tried signing up for marathons and half marathons to get myself back on track. I’d tried the Whole 30. I’d tried simply eating and drinking like a reasonable human being on my own, and had simply ended up getting heavier.

Within the two week trial, I rode a weight loss roller coaster. I quickly dropped nearly three pounds, then managed to be four pounds heavier than my starting weight, but ended up 2.2 pounds down from where I started. I’m not sure why I’m telling you that, because I don’t think the weight loss (or gain) numbers had anything to do with me deciding to go ahead and continue the program. The ever-present, super pessimistic punk sitting on my shoulder was loudly telling me there was no point. I can’t tell you why, but I decided to stay on anyway. There was likely some desperation involved, as I was damn near as heavy as I was when ready to expel the babes from my uterus. Certainly heavier than I’d ever been in a non-pregnant state.

I’m currently half way through the 16 week program. It consists of food tracking, weekly check-ins with a coach via text, a support group of sorts, eating lots of low calorie dense foods (think fruits, vegetables, and other foods intended for rabbits) and limiting high calorie dense food (think pizza, steak, enchiladas, tacos, and other foods that make life worth living), and about 10 minutes a day worth of reading- mostly psychology type stuff relating to mindful eating, dealing with stress, handling set-backs, learning to eat healthy in the real world, et cetera, et cetera.

From the half way point, here’s what I can tell you: I’ve lost 10 pounds in eight weeks, some of them repeatedly. That is to say, the roller coaster ride has continued. My initial reaction to having some gains to go with the losses has repeatedly been defeatist, but I’ve managed to keep going, and the overall trend is what I’d hoped it would be. The daily readings have provided some much needed perspective when I’ve struggled. It provides for some grace when I screw up, and uses terminology like ‘limit,’ instead of ‘exclude.’ These are definite bonuses for me.

Of course, complete and total head case that I am, I keep beating myself up for having needed to spend money for a program to tell me things I already knew. And I keep thinking it’s only a matter of time until I go back to being completely sedentary and eating like an idiot (I’m going to be south of the Mason-Dixon line for two weeks in March and can taste the fried chicken already); because, that’s just how I do.

And yet, I can’t help but feel a twinge of optimism. I’m no longer filled with dread on days when I have to put on jeans. It’s easier to zip my coat. I kind of sort of enjoy going to the basement to ride the exercise bike again. I guess, if nothing else, I suppose it will be interesting to revisit this post in eight weeks.

Grief Hides in the Church __________.

Fill in the blank, I guess.

Since September of last year, visits to my church have more often than not included crying. Occasionally it’s been graceful, silent tears streaking down my cheeks; but more commonly it’s been body-wracking sobs complete with seemingly desperate gasps for air, resulting from me trying to contain said crying and failing miserably. And snot. There is typically lots and lots of snot. I cannot remember the last time I cleaned my purse and didn’t pull out handfuls of used tissues. It has not been pretty, folks.

So yesterday, when I came across an article entitled Grief Hides in the Church Bathroom, which is well worth your time, for what it’s worth, especially if you’re going to continue reading the tripe I’m writing here; I had a self-righteous moment of ‘thank God it’s not like that in MY church.’

Truth be told, that initial reaction, for me, was, if not completely delusional, then at least lacking in scope. Because in the 12-ish years our family has attended our local mainline, albeit progressive, Lutheran church; there have been countless occasions when I pasted on a smile, walked into church, recited the words in the bulletin, sang the songs, and acted like everything was A-OK. All while simultaneously falling apart on the inside.

I’ve written here about how I love my church because I feel ok admitting to being broken when there. I feel fairly safe typing that now, but 10 years ago; at a time when shit was really hitting the fan in my family*, I most definitely did NOT feel comfortable sharing our brokenness with my church community. It required a helluva lot of cognitive dissonance, because I knew I should have been able to be open about this aspect of our lives at church, but I simply couldn’t do it.

I’d like to be able to blame our silence and secrecy on my faith community, but there were many factors which kept Chris and me from wanting to share this part of our lives with anyone, let alone our church people. Which was ludicrous, because it was consuming damn near each and every one of our thoughts at the time. We were still relatively new to the church, we were still relatively new to parenthood, and we were just starting to feel like we were finding a groove in terms of living/adulting/parenting in Minnesota.** We were, I think, looking to pretend it simply wasn’t happening. We did come to a point where church leadership knew what we were going through, as did some of our closer church friends; but for the most part we didn’t talk about it at the one place we should have felt safe being authentic about our struggles: church.

I have two very specific and vivid church related memories from this period in my life. In one, we were in a circle of parents going around sharing highs and lows, and I stated that we were doing well(!) and had no current issues troubling us. It was such a complete and total crock of shit. At this point I can look back and laugh, but at the time I was thoroughly disgusted with myself for putting on such a facade.

My second vivid memory is communion on Palm Sunday, the day our family member left to self-report to a federal prison. During a prayer, the pastor had said something about praying for the imprisoned (not uncommon in our services). As I ate the bread and as the pastor poured wine into my little ceramic cup, tears streamed down my face and I had to work really damn hard at holding that cup steady so as to not spill wine all over the damn place. Prior to this fall, it’s one of the few times I remember crying in church (I’ve admittedly had a couple of ugly cries on All Saints Sundays). Nevertheless, before finishing our communion ritual, which in our church involves standing in a circle, I pulled myself together, wiped my eyes, and walked back to my seat as if nothing were amiss. It was a rare moment of graceful, contained emotion for me; drastically different from what has occurred in recent months.

So, I’ve apparently reached a healthier place in terms of owning emotion in church. Again, reasons for this are multitude. We’ve all been traversing the awful road of unexpectedly losing a pastor together, we’ve repeatedly been told to honor and share our grief, and I no longer count myself as a new member, which has made it easier for me to be real. Also, depression. Much as I’d have liked to have been able to control my emotions, there’s no way I could have.

And yet.

I still frequently feel a fair amount of disdain with myself for not being able to hold it together. And even though I’ve known it was ok to show emotion, I’ve been in a minority for doing so, because even after over a year of very intentionally building beloved community; our congregation is still largely made up of Scandinavian Lutherans. Speaking in generalities, which one really shouldn’t do (but I will, because it’s my blog), they are a lovely population. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a stoic crew, though.

And, despite any progress I’ve made in this department; most of the folks I worship with have no idea of the angst I’m typically dealing with in terms of raising our teenaged son. Other readers here really don’t either, as I’m still walking a tightrope where I balance his right to privacy with being fully truthful with my writing (though it’s possible I’m going to throw his right to privacy very soon, because this kid is bringing me to my knees on a damn near daily basis). My kids’ right to privacy within our church, though, really shouldn’t be an obstacle. If there’s any safe place to talk about what we’re going through, it’s our church. But even after 12 years there, finding what feels like the appropriate time to share our struggles feels challenging. I still feel a need to be strong, to present a brave face, to tell folks everything is ok, to seem like I have my shit together.

So, does this article represent my church? No, I don’t think it does. I don’t believe there is any expectation of my grief being relegated to the bathroom (or, as pointed out by my friend Katherine, the stairs behind the sanctuary). I believe our community has a pretty profound respect for grief and authenticity.

And yet,

I still find it really hard to share the whole, complete Anne. It’s exponentially easier for me to blather on about it from behind my laptop. Like most other things pertaining to me, it makes zero sense. For now, I suppose it’s good enough to know I’m welcome to be authentic. Now I just need to learn how to make it happen. And oh, my heart, how I’d like to sit down and hash all this out with Pastor Stephanie.

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*Reader’s Digest condensed version: we had a close family member in trouble with the law, it was completely unexpected, there was seven or eight years of prison time involved, and it was altogether unpleasant and heartbreaking in any number of ways, and it should be a whole post unto itself, but what the hell; I guess for today it’ll just be a vaguely explanatory footnote

**We LOVE Minnesota, and after nearly 19 years here, I can tell you we wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. But breaking into the local culture was challenging. You can read more in this timeless article.

Music Therapy with a Side of Happiness Infusion

I don’t really have the words to describe the response to my previous post. The interwebs and social media worlds definitely straddle the fence between good and evil in my mind. There are valuable connections to be made from behind my laptop monitor, but of course, it can also be a festering cesspool of hateful garbage at times. But, your outpouring of love, support and commiseration was lovely. It is good to be reminded that there is, indeed, a lot of beauty in this hard world.

Four days after posting, I hopped a plane to Missouri, where my family laid to rest my Grandpa Elzy, effectively wrapping up a generation, as he was the last grandparent Chris and I had. For a slew of reasons, I made the journey without my immediate family. I’m just going to say the relationship between my grandfather and me was complex, and far from ideal. And, he lived a long, full life, so saying goodbye was largely unemotional. It did, however, leave me scatterbrained enough to miss the therapy appointment I had scheduled for the day after my return. Can I use my so-called depressive episode as an excuse for my inability to read a calendar? I hope so.

However, I can tell you there were no calendar mishaps when it was time for me to board a plane to Mexico a week later. Today I am finishing out an entire week of days by the pool, hours upon hours of reading, meals I didn’t have to prepare or clean up after, and four nights of amazing shows, all featuring bad ass women performers. Again, I lack the words to describe it, but can confidently tell you I’m blissed out with gratitude to have had this time.

I’m going to tell you about this music festival now, not in an effort to brag or make you jealous (although it likely will make you jealous), but it was amazing on a number of fronts and needs to be talked about.

For the past two years, Chris and I have attended Avett Brothers At The Beach at the same resort. Both years were phenomenal. All the luxuries of being at an all inclusive resort AND evenings filled with live music by some of our favorite artists. A few months ago the Avett Brothers announced they would not be doing a third year of the festival, and Chris and I had an epic big sad. BUT, a few months later Brandi Carlile announced she would be putting on Girls Just Wanna Weekend, and we did not so much as blink twice before signing up.

Therapy comes in many forms. This week it’s been massive amounts of vitamin D and girl power. In the form of music (Brandi, Indigo Girls, Maren Morris, Lucius, Mavis Staples, Shawn Colvin, KT Tunstall, Ruby Amanfu, and The Secret Sisters), but also in the form of being around so many people who were just so damn happy. The constituency of this event was overwhelmingly female (though Brandi made it crystal clear from the get-go that all would be welcomed, and I don’t think the handful of men here had anything less than a stellar time). In addition to being overwhelmingly female, the crowd was also overwhelmingly lesbian. Chris ended up having to miss the event for a work trip (work is bullshit, y’all), so I ended up here with my friend Angie. It was either fully apparent that we’re just friends, or folks thought we were some sort of self-loathing suppressed version of lesbians who don’t really touch one another. That’s a lame attempt at humor, but what I’m getting at is that we were in the minority as straight women. Which shouldn’t really even be worth noting, but that simply isn’t the world we live in.

Obviously, as a straight white person, being a minority anywhere is pretty damn usual for me. And this event reiterated how much I take that fact for granted. Not that being a minority was a bad thing in this case, in fact it was pretty damn fanatic, because it felt like being in the midst of a large group of people collectively letting out a sigh of exhalation. Of course, it could have just been the sun, or the utter lack of responsibility, but I’m inclined to believe there was more to it than that. I would guess that nearly all of these women have spent at least some share of their life having to be less than truthful about who they are and who they love- a phenomenon I’ve been fortunate to not experience, because I really can’t imagine how that would feel or how I would deal with it.

But there was simply none of that here. The only other people I knew here were Lauren, diaconal minister at my beloved church, and her wife Michelle. Michelle posted on Facebook about how this was effectively the first time they’ve been on vacation together without everyone assuming they were friends or sisters, and how amazing that was. While I have a fairly vivid imagination, I can’t fathom what it would be like if everyone assumed Chris was my brother anytime we went somewhere. I’m fairly certain I’d have a nervous breakdown at best, or completely lose my shit at worst.

So, this occasion, one of the few being a minority wasn’t actually like being a minority at all. At one point, while sitting by the pool, Angie looked over at me and said, “There is so much happiness here that I could just cry.” I couldn’t argue with it.

all photos courtesy of the girls just wanna Facebook page

Except these. These would be Angie and me enjoying dinner with The Indigo Girls. Well, maybe not really with them, but GAH.