Natural Born Sinner

As some of you may know from reading earlier posts on here or from knowing me in real life, I grew up in a very conservative Baptist church in a small town in Virginia.  Naturally as part of that, I grew up thinking that being gay, bisexual, transgender, or anything at all outside of “normal” straight-forward heterosexuality was not only “weird” but entirely wrong, indeed sinful.

Props to the brilliant person who made this

Props to the brilliant person who made this

Once I was a teenager & started to question a lot of the things I was taught growing up, one of the greatest issues I faced was the issue of homosexuality.  I just couldn’t find it within myself to label something that seems such a fundamental part of a person’s identity as wrong.  It just didn’t make sense to me, even then, that this supposedly loving omniscient god would create someone a certain way & then say “Nope, that’s wrong, & you’re going to Hell if you don’t ask for forgiveness & change it.”  That just made absolutely zero sense to me, & I for one have always struggled to believe anything that seems completely contradictory to basic logic & reason.  I just can’t do it, even if part of me wishes I could just so life could be “easier.” how-is-my-marriage-affecting-you

Once I got to college & started meeting people who actually were gay & bisexual, I knew I could no longer believe that such things were wrong.  I could not look in the eyes of a friend, someone I knew to be a decent, loving human being, & say to them “Your whole identity is wrong.”  Furthermore, the more I studied gender identity issues, the more I knew I could never again stand against anyone who questioned their own identity or sexuality because the more I tried to understand these people, the more I realized they were just like me.  I don’t mean that I am bisexual, lesbian, or transgender at all.  I just mean that at heart we are all the same: we’re all human beings who just want to love & to be loved & to understand ourselves & be able to express ourselves as best we can.  And what could possibly be wrong with that?  As long as no one is getting hurt, why should any of us care who anyone else wants to sleep with?  In the grand scheme of things, it’s really quite petty to obsess over such things.will smith gay rights

Sometime in 2013 I discovered the metal band In This Moment whose lead singer is Maria Brink.  Immediately I was intrigued by the dark yet inspiring music created by this incredibly talented woman & her band.  After thoroughly enjoying Blood, I was quick to purchase their 2014 album Black Widow last year.  Very soon I realized this was without a doubt one of the best albums of the year & by far the best album ITM has created to date.  The whole thing is just musically & lyrically brilliant.  Perhaps because of how much material there is to digest on this disc, it was just yesterday that I realized how incredibly powerful is the eleventh song “Natural Born Sinner.”  I’ve enjoyed the song ever since I bought the album a few months ago & yet I was more focused on some of the other pieces so that I never realized exactly what the theme of this song is.  While at the gym yesterday, the song came on my iPod & for some reason I really listened to the lyrics more than I ever had before.  I quickly understood that this song is the perfect anthem for LGBTQ rights.  I can’t say it better than Maria Brink herself, so I’m just going to share the lyrics for you to read below.  Notice the opening segment is a direct quote from John 8:7, the King James Version no less. black widow ITM
“So when they continued asking him
He lifted up himself, and said unto them,
‘He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.'”

Listen closely, to what I’m about to say
I think I’ve heard just about enough of your hypocritical ways
Don’t try and stop me now
Don’t you make a sound
You’ve built yourself up oh so high just to tear me down

I’m so tired of you telling me
How to live and what I should not be
And I’m so tired of you telling me
What to do and what I don’t believe
And after all that you’re telling me
Why is there hate and only you can see
And I’m so sick of you telling me
That I will burn, I will not be free

This is my song
My red crusade
What will I say?
What will I do?
Maybe it’s fear that leads your rage
Maybe you’re me and I am you

So go ahead and point your finger
Tell me who to love, is it him or her?
When will you see this is who I am?

Natural Born Sinner

I’m not gonna change
So stay out of my way
I don’t need you to understand
That I’m already saved
Maybe you should stop, question all your pain
Can you look me in my eyes and say we’re not the same?

Did you really think by pushing me
I would become what you want me to be?
And did you really think by hating me
I’d open up, I’d just hand you the key?
I know you’re scared and don’t understand
This is my life, this is who I am
What I do know is come Judgement Day
Before the Lord can you say the same?

This is my song
My red crusade
What will I say?
What will I do?
Maybe it’s fear that leads your rage
Maybe you’re me and I am you

So go ahead and point your finger
Tell me who to love, is it him or her?
When will you see this is who I am?

So go ahead and point your fingers
I love who I want, whether him or her
When will you see that I may be a…
Natural Born Sinner
Natural Born Sinner
Here’s a link to the song itself.  Please give it a listen because it is so incredibly powerful:

I have no idea if Maria Brink is lesbian or bisexual herself, but I do know she has a son so I’m inclined to say possibly bisexual, but I really don’t know.  And the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t matter.  I’m just so grateful to her for writing such a powerful song that embraces exactly how I & so many others feel about this issue.  The fact is none of us is perfect.  We are all flawed in numerous ways.  But far be it from me to judge anyone for something so fundamental as their rights marriage

Indeed, in a world full of poverty, orphans, violence, & environmental destruction, I find it really quite incredible that so many people are still bothered by homosexuality & other “less than straight” forms of sexuality.  I know I may catch some flack from some of my own family for so openly championing gay rights, but I’ve reached the point in my life where I realize that I’ll never please everyone anyway & life is far too short to remain silent about things that matter in an effort to fit in or be accepted by anyone, even those you love.  So this is me, a strictly heterosexual female, unapologetically telling the world that I support homosexuality, bisexuality, & transgenderism.  You can like it or lump it as far as I’m concerned.

This is Why There’s No Such Thing as Too Smart to Be Just a Nurse

This post is for all the people who’ve ever told me (or other nurses) that I’m “too smart to be ‘just’ a nurse.”  There are a lot more of these people than you might think!  In some twisted way I guess some people think this is a compliment.  (Newsflash: it’s not!  It’s actually quite insulting.)  Obviously the people who say such things have no idea why it’s so incredibly important to have a very intelligent nurse.  So let me educate you as to why if you or your loved one are ever sick, you better hope against hope that your nurse is every bit as intelligent as your doctor:nurse pic

Because I’m the one who called the doctor to tell him that your sodium was rising rapidly & thus we needed to stop the hypertonic saline drip you were on & change it to regular saline.  And I did this because I have the smarts to know that no matter how critically low your sodium was initially we can’t replace it too quickly or we can cause serious brain damage.

Because I’m the one who noticed that your creatinine, an indicator of kidney function, was off the charts & realized that, with your history of diabetes combined with your current dehydrated state, this was a serious problem that needed to be addressed immediately.  So I’m the one who called the doctor & made sure you had IV fluids ordered & a nephrology consult to further explore your renal failure.  I don’t want to know how much worse your kidneys could have been damaged if I’d just assumed the admitting doctor was aware of the problem & waited till the next doctor happened to look at your chart the next day.

Yes, we nurses know what all of this means.

Yes, we nurses know what all of this means.

Because I’m the one who noticed you were lethargic & slow to respond to my questions, so I checked your blood sugar, found it was dangerously low, & corrected it so that you didn’t end up in a hypoglycemic-induced coma . . . or dead.

Because I’m the one who begged for a palliative care consult because it was obvious to me that your mother was dying & furthermore that she was READY to die, & I wanted her to have the peaceful death she deserved.palliative care

Because I’m the one who noticed you were on a boat-load of narcotics but didn’t have a stool softener or laxative ordered, so I called the doctor to remedy this situation because I didn’t want you to develop severe constipation or worse yet a post-op ileus due to such a “simple” oversight.

Because I’m the one who recognized your mother was having a massive heart attack & demanded the doctor come to see her, even though it was the middle of the night & he had to come in from home, so that I could ensure she was transferred to the ICU where she could receive all the care she so desperately needed.

We nurses know what this means too (bad heart attack!!).

We nurses know what this means too (bad heart attack!!).

Because I’m the one who reminded the doctor to discontinue your blood thinner the night before your heart cath so you wouldn’t bleed out during the procedure the next day.

Because I’m the one who reminded the doctor to order a physical therapy consult so your dad could improve his strength & mobility prior to being discharged home with you.physical therapy cartoon

Because I’m the one who noticed all of your morning lab results were a bit questionable, so I demanded that the lab re-draw them to ensure accuracy.  (And thankfully for your sake the first set was wrong.)

Because I’m the one who noticed your mother’s urine was cloudy & foul-smelling so I made sure she had a urine sample sent & antibiotics started to treat her UTI before she became even sicker than she already was.

Because I’m the one who reminded the doctor that certain medications like Ambien (a commonly prescribed sleeping pill) are really bad for elderly people, so I asked her to order something milder like Remeron instead.

This isn't totally a joke.  Ambien can be very bad for elderly people, but not all doctors realize or remember that, which is why it's important to have a smart nurse to remind them!

This isn’t totally a joke. Ambien can be very bad for elderly people, but not all doctors realize or remember that, which is why it’s important to have a smart nurse to remind them!

Because I’m the one who noticed that your blood sugar was low on your morning labs (but not so low that lab called it to me as a critical result), so I rechecked it & found it to be even lower, dangerously low in fact.  I corrected this by giving you D50, basically sugar water, in your IV.  But I shudder to think what might have happened if I’d overlooked that low blood sugar on your morning labs.

Because I’m the one who noticed that your dad was having trouble breathing & decreased urine output, so I called the doctor & ensured he had a STAT chest x-ray done & some Lasix given because I realized he was probably going into acute heart failure . . . & that couldn’t wait till the doctor rounded the next day.Congestive-Heart-Failure-e1351349118720

Because when the doctor tried to explain what was going on with your body & you didn’t understand a word of it, I’m the one who translated the words into plain English & helped you understand your condition so you would be less frightened.  This is because I have the intelligence to understand your medical condition but also the ability to translate that into simple terms that anyone can understand.

Because I’m the one who noticed that your blood pressure was low &, knowing this could affect your body’s ability to perfuse all of your vital organs, I made sure the doctor ordered a fluid bolus to help increase your blood pressure.  But I also closely monitored your urine output & your respiratory status to make sure we weren’t overloading you with fluid & risking sending you into heart failure.IV fluid

In case you’re wondering, these are all scenarios I have truly encountered as a nurse.  And these are just a small fraction of the things I & my fellow nurses do on a daily basis to help provide excellent care to our patients & their loved ones.

If it isn’t apparent to you yet, let me just explain that, especially at night, there is no guarantee when a doctor will next see you or even look at your medical record.  Not to mention if you’re lucky doctors spend maybe 30 minutes a day with you, whereas nurses are with you for hours & hours each day, so inevitably we know you much better.  This is why it’s so incredibly important to have a very intelligent nurse because we’re the ones who are meticulously following your vital signs & lab results & keeping the doctors up to date on your condition so that nothing important is missed.  We’re the ones double-checking all your orders & making sure they make sense & that nothing has been overlooked.  I say none of this to make doctors look bad or appear incapable; I just realize that patient safety is every bit as dependent on intelligent nurses as it is on intelligent doctors.  Once you realize this too, I sincerely hope you will never again tell me (or anyone else) that I am “too smart to be ‘just’ a nurse.”

Despite the challenges & frustrations of my career, I'm still glad I chose nursing over med school.

Despite the challenges & frustrations of my career, I’m still glad I chose nursing over med school.

This is Why You’re an Asshole

Let me preface this rant by saying that I am NOT one of those annoying women who think all men are evil or out to get them.  I’ve known far too many truly decent caring men in my life to write off the whole gender as sick & depraved.  My husband & many of my male friends & family members are proof positive to me that plenty of truly good men do exist in this world.  But to that certain segment of the male population who do NOT fit that description, this letter is for you.  (To clarify, this post was inspired by events that have happened to me or to friends of mine who have described those events to me.)women not pieces of meat

Dear Sir,

I know you are probably nowhere near self-aware enough to wonder why so many women think all men are assholes.  Or why you might in fact actually deserve that title, but I’ll take the time to try to enlighten you today anyway.

You, sir, are an asshole because you greeted me, a potential customer in your restaurant, with the singularly annoying phrase “Hey, girl.”  Now if I knew you personally, or even if I were just a frequent customer whose face you recognized (meaning I too would recognize you), I can assure you I wouldn’t think twice about this greeting.  But when we are both strangers to each other, far be it from you to assume such a level of familiarity with me where none such exists.self respect

You, sir, are an asshole because the moment I walked into the room I felt your gaze upon me, undressing me with your eyes without even trying to hide it.  I’m fully aware that I cannot control what goes on in your mind, just as you cannot control what goes on in mine, but you CAN control your eyes & they do not have to continually stare at me or at any other woman just because we were unfortunate enough to cross your path today.  I’m sure you’re not self-aware enough to realize it, but your staring & the knowing glances shared with your equally disgusting peers are really quite intimidating, not to mention annoying.  Perhaps you DO realize it & that is one reason you partake in such behavior . . . You’re an asshole either way.'BOY that REALLY makes my skin crawl when MEN undress you with their eyes!...'

You, sir, are an asshole because although you probably don’t even know my name, the minute I said hello you felt it necessary to make a joke that implied that I was desperate to sleep with you.  There was never any chance of such a thing, but even if there had been, you’d have erased it all now anyway.  Get over yourself.  There is nothing more unattractive than a man who thinks he’s God’s gift to women.

You, sir, are an asshole because I heard you making comments about my body as I was leaving the room.  As my manager & someone who’s never even been nice to me at all, you do NOT have such privileges.  And I WILL call you out on it, & if that makes me a bitch in your eyes, trust me, I couldn’t care less.

You, sir, are an asshole because I heard you call the last girl you hooked up with a slut, but you slept with her too, so what does that say about you?

You, sir, are an asshole because you think it’s your God-given right to touch every woman who crosses your path.  Newsflash: it’s not.respect

Just to be clear, if you are friends with a woman & for some reason you should find yourself fantasizing or otherwise thinking about having sex with her, that does not automatically make you an asshole.  That just makes you a human being.  (Trust me, women think about sex a lot more than most of us would care to admit.)  I think it’s only natural to feel a certain amount of chemistry with your friends of the opposite sex because relationships really are just friendships “on steroids” so to speak.  As with anything in life, it’s all about what you do with those thoughts & feelings.

In case you haven’t picked up on it yet, here’s the underlying theme: any time you assume too much familiarity with a woman you really don’t know that well, you’re probably being an asshole.  As much as I hate to admit it, although mentally I know we are equals, physically I know I am not a match for you.  Trust me, I don’t live my life thinking of all men as potential rapists & murderers or anything so absurd as all that.  BUT I cannot change the fact that biology has made you bigger & stronger than me, & thus I expect a certain level of respect because of that.  (Actually it has more to do with just being a fellow HUMAN BEING) . . . In other words, if you’re my friend, if you have proven to me over time that I can trust you, then our interactions can assume a level of familiarity that would make me uncomfortable if we were strangers.  (Just to be clear, it’s really not all that different with other women.  After all I don’t mind a bit if my female friends ask me questions about sex or their bodies or whatever, but I’d be pretty horrified if a woman I don’t know at all asked me such things.)not all men are jerks

A side note to any ladies who are reading this:

For the love of logic, please let’s stop tolerating such indecent behavior from those select men who behave in such ways as I’ve described today.  And please let’s stop whining that all men are evil & only interested in sex when most of us who say such things do everything in our power to attract only the worst sort of men.  And I’m calling myself out on this one, but please let’s have the guts to stand up for ourselves when we do encounter a true asshole.

At the end of the day it all comes down to self-respect.  I for one have far too much of it to tolerate this bullshit.

Good day.

Album Review: Reincarnate by Motionless in White

Have you ever listened to an album & just been so blown away by how raw & powerful the music was that you didn’t have words to truly describe the way it made you feel?  With the propagation of digital music, sadly, for a lot of people my age, & certainly for many folks younger than I, the answer is probably no.   But I’m weird, so I still insist on buying actual CDs because there is a part of me that feels it’s very necessary to have some PHYSICAL piece to cling to in order to claim ownership of an album.  (Additionally it makes it much easier to share music with friends when you have an actual CD to hand to them.)  Furthermore, if I really like an artist, I feel like I’m short-changing myself if I only ever hear the singles they choose to release to radio; thus I feel it behooves me to purchase the entire album.chris motionless

In any case, about two weeks ago I discovered the band Motionless in White while fooling around on YouTube one evening.  In fact the lead singer was the inspiration behind my recent post about breaking stereotypes (  I was so impressed by the lead single Reincarnate off of their latest album of the same name that, being the music nerd that I am, I went out & purchased said album the very next day.  When I popped the disc into the CD player in my car, I truly cannot describe to you the emotions & thoughts that passed through my mind as the music began to play.  The best I can say is that the music was both eerie & empowering, angry yet mature, &, perhaps above all else, raw, intense, & powerful.  Some two weeks later, despite the fact that the album has been on almost constant replay in my car & on my computer, this album has lost not one ounce of its power & originality.  Considering that just ten years ago I wouldn’t have been caught dead listening to what might be described as a goth or horror metal band whose members dress in all black & are notorious for wearing heavy make-up, this is a pretty powerful statement.  Granted my tastes are clearly far more eclectic these days or I wouldn’t have been drawn to this music at all, but nonetheless most of my favorite bands fall more on the rock side of the rock/metal genre, & perhaps it is the very fact that Motionless in White ARE quite different, both musically & in appearance, than many of my other favorite bands that makes their music so intriguing to me.

I bought this album today, & it is EPIC.

You need to buy this NOW!

To begin, I’ll be the first to admit that this album is not “safe for children.”  If you’re offended by men in make-up, the F word, or music that could be described as heavy or dark, this album isn’t for you.  (Which is a great pity because you’ll be missing out on a truly fantastic work of art.)  Furthermore, since purchasing Reincarnate I’ve gone back & listened to some of the songs from MIW’s previous albums, & honestly I have to say that I’m not a huge fan of their earlier work.  I don’t hate it by any means.  It’s just that much of it strikes me as perhaps a bit TOO heavy, even for me.  Perhaps I could phrase it better by saying I like many of the lyrics from their earlier albums, but I don’t fancy the delivery of them so much.  In any case, Reincarnate is pure musical genius, & I’m thrilled to report that according to many interviews the lead singer says this is EXACTLY the kind of music he’s always wanted to make which leads me to believe there will be many more great MIW recordings to look forward to in the future.Motionless_in_white_reincarnateNot convinced to buy the album yet?  Let me describe some of my favorites for you.

The album opens with a powerful & thrilling piece called Death March.  In an interview I read the other day, lead singer Chris Motionless stated that this is the most intimidating song he’s ever written.  As a listener, this piece IS a bit intimidating but with lyrics like “I control my own destiny and I won’t suffer in vain/My enemy will not be the end of me,” it is also inspirational.  The way Chris’s voice sounds during the verses is definitely reminiscent of Marilyn Manson at times, but I for one find Chris’s music far more interesting than most of Manson’s work.  Have I mentioned that MIW has a full-time keyboardist as part of the band?  Without doubt, this is one reason MIW have such a unique & haunting sound which is showcased so excellently in this song.  It may also be why I was reminded of Berlioz’s Symphonie Fantastique, specifically the witch’s sabbath movement, while listening to this piece.  Any modern rock/metal band who can recall in my mind a classical piece such as that is clearly winning.  Listen here: logo

The second piece is the lead single Reincarnate, the song that originally caught my attention on YouTube.  I’ll be the first to admit that Chris’s unique & somewhat startling appearance probably initially drew me to the video as much as the music.  But the more I listened, the more I realized what a truly amazing vocalist AND lyricist Chris is.  In the video, Chris & his band-mates dig their own grave & then proceed to bury themselves in it.  To me this is symbolic of burying their past mistakes & moving on to a new future.  Whatever the band meant by it, I find it both creepy & inspiring, & I just can’t get enough of this song.  You can watch the video here: reincarnate

The third song Puppets 3: The Grand Finale is the last of a trilogy of songs that began on MIW’s first album & have continued on each of their subsequent releases.  Chris has been very open about admitting that these songs are about a relationship with a girl he dated for six years, but he’s also been very open about saying this is truly the last Puppets piece.  As the song states quite plainly, that part of his life is over & he’s leaving it in the past.  This piece features Dani Filth from the English metal band Cradle of Filth (not a band I’m particularly familiar with but whose name of course I know).  It is by far the fastest & probably heaviest song on this album & probably has a lot more emotional meaning for MIW fans who have followed the band since their first album, but I too find it a fascinating piece.puppets 3

Next up is Unstoppable.  With lyrics like “I will justify this pain/I will live another day/I will fight to earn my place/I will be unstoppable” this is the PERFECT workout song, & it also makes for a great pick-me-up if you’re having a bad day.

The fifth song Everybody Sells Cocaine could perhaps be considered an allegory.  On the surface, the song is about drugs & the myth that they can bring happiness.  But on a deeper level, I think the song is about how everywhere you look in this world, someone is trying to sell you something, whether it’s a product or an idea or religion or a political scheme.Chris-Motionless

The sixth song, Contemptress, is what convinced me to go ahead & buy the album.  Once I saw that there was a duet with Maria Brink, the lead singer of In This Moment, I was sold.  I thought Maria’s duet with Brent Smith of Shinedown on her latest album Black Widow was sexy, but this duet with Chris is pretty tantalizing too.  Just listen:

One of my favorites on this album is definitely Generation Lost.  This is the perfect anthem for anyone who’s ever felt left-out, ignored, or just different than the norm.  It’s angry, it’s passionate, & it’s fun.  And it showcases Chris’s perfect growl.  What’s not to love? motionless quote

Chris has stated that he was a big fan of the TV show Dexter which is one of the few shows from the past decade that I too have really enjoyed.  As you may guess from the title, the ninth song Dark Passenger was inspired by the show.  Considering we all have secrets & “dark areas”in our heart that we wouldn’t want the whole word to see, lyrics like “Somehow I will break and destroy you/And reveal what was hidden in plain view/This disguise was designed/To deflect what I couldn’t show you” make the song very relatable to all of us.dexter

Chris has also stated in a number of interviews that the tenth song Wasp is his favorite from this album, at least partly because it is so different than any of MIW’s other songs.  I’ll freely admit that initially the song didn’t do much for me.  Frankly it just struck me as boring compared to all the harder pieces.  But the more I’ve listened to the album, the more I’ve come to realize the true genius of this song.  It is beautiful, dark, & haunting, & I now can’t get enough of it.

If I haven’t yet convinced you to check out Reincarnate, I suppose I’m not going to.  But I sincerely hope you’ll click on at least few of the links I’ve provided & allow yourself to be drawn into the dark but tantalizing world of MIW.  chris motionless 2

I have to end this post by giving props to Chris Motionless.  Here is a heterosexual guy my age (mid to late 20s) who is covered in tattoos & piercings . . . but also wears more make-up than the average woman.  Here is a guy whose songs are far from G-rated . . . but who eschews drinking, smoking, & drugs.  Here is a guy who encourages his fans to stop thanking him for saving their lives with his music, but instead encourages them to realize the power they have within themselves to save their own lives (see his blog post here:  Here is a guy whose appearance could be said to belie who he really is (in other words, he isn’t what you’d be likely to assume he is based solely on appearance).   And here is a guy who truly does not give a damn.  You, sir, are a true rock star.  Rock on with your bad self!

The Cost of Being a Bridesmaid & Why Bridezillas Must Die

Most of the time I try to make my blog posts fairly positive.  Even in my posts that deal with very serious topics, I try to provide some beacon of hope for my readers.  However, I will warn you in advance that today’s post is not going to be like that.  Today’s post is probably going to be full of angry vitriol & general disgust at a phenomenon that I truly believe is doing irrefutable harm in our culture.

That phenomenon is lavish, over-the-top weddings.  I just read this article ( last week & I was horrified, although not that surprised, to read that the average bridesmaid spends $1500-$1800 on each wedding in which she participates!  Ladies, this is insane!!!nobridezilla

I have only been a bridesmaid once so far, & that was just this past Fall when I was a bridesmaid in my own maid of honor’s wedding.  Because the wedding was in New England I actually did spend probably close to a grand on the wedding between airplane tickets for myself & my husband & a hotel for the three nights we were there (thankfully the bride negotiated a great deal for wedding party members at a really nice B&B).  However, my husband & I also got somewhat of a mini vacation out of the trip because we had four days to explore Boston, a city neither of us had ever visited before.  Obviously some of our time was taken up with wedding festivities, but we also had quite a bit of free time to explore the city & just be tourists, which was awesome.  My friend had been a bridesmaid at least four times prior to her own wedding so she was well aware of how expensive these affairs can be for bridesmaids.  Knowing this, she deliberately chose (with our input) a very reusable & reasonably priced dress.  The earrings we wore were our bridesmaid gift from her, & we got to pick our own gold shoes in whatever style we wanted.  I didn’t have a pair of gold shoes, but I found a gorgeous & very reusable pair at Rack Room for less than $20.  The bride gave us the option of doing our own hair or going to the salon with her.  I chose to do my own hair & we all helped each other with make-up.  We did get pedicures together but this was also very reasonably priced (& was by far the best pedicure I’ve ever had in my life).  We threw her a very simple but enjoyable bachelorette party the Friday night before the wedding (which was on a Sunday).  All in all, being a bridesmaid for my friend was not a financial strain for me & I daresay it wasn’t for any of the other girls either.  And it was a lot of fun too.  I for one feel incredibly lucky to know that all of my remaining friends who might ask me to be bridesmaids in the future are just as practical & realistic, so I can trust that they too will take my finances into consideration when planning their weddings.

This is me as a bridesmaid in my college roommate's wedding this past Fall.  We got the dresses from Ann Taylor.  I got the headband at WalMart, the shoes at Rack Room, & the earrings were a gift from the bride.  She also loaned me the necklace.

This is me as a bridesmaid in my college roommate’s wedding this past Fall. We got the dresses from Ann Taylor. I got the headband at WalMart, the shoes at Rack Room, & the earrings were a gift from the bride. She also loaned me the necklace.   I did my own hair & make-up.

When I had my own wedding, two of my bridesmaids, like me, had just graduated from college & the third girl had one more year of college left.  Needless to say we were all on a tight budget at that point in our lives.  Knowing this, together we chose a very reusable & reasonably priced dress, & we agreed on silver shoes in any style they desired since these are easy to find & can definitely be used again for other occasions.  They could wear whatever jewelry they chose & only the maid of honor got her hair professionally done with me.  We both went to the same local salon & paid, I think, $40 each for our hair.  We all did our own make-up with assistance from a friend.  My bachelorette party was a trip to the natural hot springs in Bath County, Virginia the Saturday before the wedding, so needless to say that was a cheap but very fun trip.  One of my bridesmaids couldn’t come because she had to work.  We missed her but I didn’t throw a fit because that’s just real life.  I had only one wedding shower which my maid of honor couldn’t attend because she was in Boston that weekend.  No big deal.  I did not have an engagement party with my friends or family.  The idea never even occurred to me because I was too busy finishing up nursing school, studying for the NCLEX, & then learning to become a real nurse.

Our wedding rings with my bouquet, designed by the florist my husband worked for in high school .  Photo by Triskay Photography.

Our wedding rings with my bouquet, designed by the florist my husband worked for in high school . Photo by Triskay Photography.

The point of all this is that I’m so tired of the idea that brides have a right to become some ridiculous bridezilla & demand that their friends treat them like princesses & spend thousands of dollars on elaborate bachelorette trips, multiple parties/showers, & gifts, not to mention the often ludicrous cost of the bridesmaid dress itself & the associated costs of hair, make-up, etc.  For the love of all that is holy, I felt guilty for asking two of my bridesmaids to drive about three hours to the wedding since we had it in our hometown!  And then I felt guilty for asking our guests to drive thirty minutes to the reception because the one thing I refused to do for our wedding was to have the reception in the church basement.  (My grandmother’s funeral luncheon was held there, so, if for no other reason, I felt like the church reception hall was just too incongruous a place to hold our wedding reception.)

Brides, please remember that money does NOT grow on trees for your bridesmaids.

Brides, please remember that money does NOT grow on trees for your bridesmaids.

There is no doubt in my mind that who you choose to marry is the most important decision of your life.  But this is equally true for both men & women.  And we don’t see (most) men spending thousands of dollars on their friends’ weddings!  Yes, weddings can & should be fun.  But they do NOT have to be elaborate & financially burdensome for everyone involved.  If you & your friends are all pulling in 6-figures a year, feel free to have a lavish bachelorette party & wedding.  Otherwise, show a little restraint, not to mention a little respect for your friends’ wallets, & tone things down a bit.  (If someone is a close enough friend to be your bridesmaid, you ought to have a pretty good idea of how her finances stand.)  Your marriage will not suffer if you don’t have a wedding that is so perfect it could be featured in a magazine.  When the day is over, the only thing, the ONLY THING, that matters is the man (or woman) to whom you say “I do.”  THAT IS IT.

If you want to get real down & dirty, consider that several research studies have actually shown that the more money a couple spends on their wedding, the greater their chances of divorce.  (The same is true for how much a man spends on an engagement ring, but that’s a whole other blog post right there.)  Honestly, I don’t find this surprising at all.  Like I said before, if you or your family truly has the money to pull off a $50,000 wedding, by all means, go ahead.  But if you’re a normal bloke like most of us, please do yourself & your friends a favor & remember that this is just ONE day in the course of your lifetime.  Is it an important day?  Absolutely.  But going into debt over it, or asking your friends to do the same in order to be part of it, is just ludicrous!bridemaid money

Many people have told me that I was the most relaxed bride they ever saw.  I think this is because I married the man I’d been dating since high school so there was truly no doubt in my mind that he was the right man for me.  Furthermore, we had been living together intermittently for several years, so I already knew we could stand living together in close quarters.  We were also familiar with each other’s families from years of shared holidays, so really there was nothing to worry about.  I’ll never forget going to Bed, Bath, & Beyond to sign up for our wedding registry & being absolutely overwhelmed by how I was expected to pick out potential gifts for us.  I felt like there were 100 different options for every conceivable household item.  I was still in nursing school at the time, so I couldn’t stop myself from thinking “Who cares?  I have more important things to worry about right now.”  I felt the same way when the florist asked me what kind of flowers I wanted.  I was able to come up with a few basic ideas & from there I just trusted her to work her magic.  And guess what: our flowers turned out beautifully!  When it came to wedding favors & decorating the church, I knew these were things hardly anyone was going to notice anyway, so I just let my mom pick out things she thought were nice.  And everything turned out just fine!  Instead of hiring professional musicians, we had a family friend play the piano & a cousin of mine play the violin.  And they were awesome!  We also just used my computer at the reception instead of hiring a professional DJ.

Every bride needs at least one silly wedding picture, rig ht?  I thought so.  :)  Photo by Triskay Photography.

Every bride needs at least one silly wedding picture, right? I thought so. :) Photo by Triskay Photography.

The point of all this, ladies, is that if we want to be treated like the equals we know we are, we have to stop acting like getting married gives us the right to act like some spoiled princess.  It doesn’t.  Get over yourself.  End of story.

Breaking Stereotypes

Last night I was fooling around on YouTube as I often do, & in the process I discovered what to me is a new band: Motionless in White.  If you’re not familiar with them, they are a metal band based out of Scranton, PA & are fronted by a guy named Chris “Motionless” Cerulli who draws inevitable comparisons to Marilyn Manson.  As I always do when discovering a new band, I starting Googling the band & its lead singer, looking for interviews & such to familiarize myself with the band & to better connect with their music.  I soon discovered that despite the rather gothic appearance of the band, the lead singer is actually “straight edge” & is well-renowned for the fact that he has never smoked, drank, or used drugs & has no interest in such things.  In case you’re thinking this must be one of those Christian or pseudo-Christian metal bands, let me assure you Motionless in White is anything but that.  (On the other hand they are not Satanists either despite what some might naturally assume based on their appearance & the sound of their music).

I bought this album today, & it is EPIC.

I bought this album today, & it is EPIC.

chris motionless

From what I’ve read, Chris Motionless isn’t gay or transgender, despite having long hair & wearing a lot of make-up. How’s that for breaking stereotypes?

What struck me the most about this band is not only their unique sound but the lead singer’s ability to break stereotypes.  This led me to ponder my never-ending fascination with people who break stereotypes, whatever they may be.  As the Nigerian novelist, poet, & professor Chinua Achebe said, “The whole idea of a stereotype is to simplify. Instead of going through the problem of all this great diversity – that it’s this or maybe that – you have just one large statement; it is this.”  Indeed the world is very complicated & it’s not so shocking that society has created stereotypes to try to make sense of such a complex world.  And yet, the result of such stereotyping is that we often miss out on the joy that can be found in embracing the complexity of this world & the people around us.

chinua achebe quote

As some of you may know from reading previous blog posts, I grew up in a very small town in Virginia.  One of the saddest things about small towns is that stereotypes are so ingrained into the fabric of society that one can quite easily feel stifled in such places.  Over the past eight years since I graduated from high school I’ve often pondered the irony of how I graduated with some 140 odd students, the vast majority of us having been together in school since kindergarten or at least 3rd or 4th grade.  The result of this is that we all assumed we knew each other & often assigned each other to stereotypical roles & groups without much of a second thought.  The reality is that most of us knew next to nothing about each other, only what we THOUGHT we knew because we’d “known each other forever.”  I suppose this phenomenon occurs everywhere to a certain extent, but I daresay it’s worse in small towns where stereotypes can often be magnified due to the naturally insular nature of such places.stereotypes

In any case when I went to college I was immediately gratified by how so many people I met broke a lot of the traditional stereotypes I grew up around.  One of my best friends in college was a girl who had been an athlete in high school, yet she loved classical music, opera, & classic literature.  What also gratified me was finding that everyone I met didn’t naturally assume I was a boring nerd who couldn’t possibly be interesting, funny, or attractive.  Instead of being regarded as weird or dull because I’m naturally intelligent, people often seemed to find this intriguing. How gratifying!

As I’ve matured as an adult I continually find myself attracted to those who break stereotypes in one way or another.  Whether it’s a football player like Arian Foster who writes poetry & studies philosophy or a rock star like Chris Motionless who eschews drinking & drugs or some of my elderly patients who have iPads & are very adept with technology, I’m naturally drawn to those who somehow “break the rules” of what they’re “supposed” to be like because of their age, race, gender, or profession.

Many people probably wouldn't guess that Arian Foster writes poetry & studies philosophy . . . but he does.

Many people probably wouldn’t guess that Arian Foster writes poetry & studies philosophy . . . but he does.

At the end of the day, I consider myself fairly average.  When I say that I just mean that I’m not someone you’d look at twice in the grocery store, & yet I like to think I break a few stereotypes myself.  Today I thought it would be empowering to list a few of those & in doing so encourage my readers to think about the stereotypes they break in their own lives.  So here are a few ways in which I break the “rules of society.”

  • I love rock & roll & metal but I have no tattoos & no piercings, aside from standard earrings. I am not opposed to such things, but I just have no personal interest in them for myself.  When I go to rock shows, I’m often one of the only people without tattoos or piercings & who isn’t dressed in all or mostly black.  For some reason or other, I am often immediately assumed to be a “nice girl” & thus people are often shocked to find I like such heavy or “dark” music.  I resent the implication that people who value compassion & kindness can’t enjoy rock music, so I always enjoy the look on people’s faces when they find out some of my favorite bands are FFDP, Godsmack, & Halestorm.
  • On the other hand, when I go to country concerts, I’m always one of the only people not wearing cowboy (or should I say cowgirl?) boots. I’ve never owned a pair & don’t care to.  There’s nothing wrong with them; they’re just not my style.cowboy boots
  • Despite the fact that I grew up in a very rural area, I have only been fishing once & have no real interest in going again. I’ve also never been hunting or “mudding” & don’t particularly care to try either one.
  • Despite living in the South my entire life, I do not like sweet tea or gravy.
  • I’m an introvert who strongly prefers the city to the country.  When you really think about this, it’s actually quite logical because the anonymity of the city is far more suitable to an introvert like me who detests the idea of constantly having to make small talk.  In a small town everywhere you go, you see someone you know & thus feel compelled by some social construct to converse with them.introverts cats
  • I’m strongly considering becoming a mom in the next year or two (or three), but I love heavy metal & have no plans to stop listening to this music just because I have kids.
  • Sex, drugs, & rock & roll is a phrase that exists for a reason. But as much as I love this kind of music, I’m married to my first & only boyfriend, have never experimented with drugs or smoking, & drink alcohol only in moderation.  (Additionally there is a hell of a lot more to rock & roll than just sex & drugs, & if you don’t think so, you’re missing out on a lot in life.)
  • As much as I hate wars & violence, I am a strong supporter of gun ownership.  There are a whole host of logical reasons for this, but this isn’t the time or place to go into all that right now.gun-rights
  • I was a straight-A student in both high school & college, but I never once stayed up all night (or even half the night) studying for a test or final exam.
  • I’m a female who loves science & math, yet I also love literature, music, & history.
  • I’m a humanist & thus I don’t believe in moral absolutes, but despite what some people might think, I DO have moral & ethical standards for how I live my life, & I will teach them to my children someday.
  • I identify myself as a feminist because there are still plenty of places in the world where women do not have even basic human rights, but I do NOT hate men & I don’t think men automatically have an easier time in life.
  • I have no idea what happens after death (to be truly honest, NONE of us does because we haven’t been there), yet I volunteer with hospice & seem to have a special talent for caring for patients & their families at the end of life. Where most see only grief & suffering, I see a chance to make someone’s final days as painless as possible, to give that person a peaceful exit from this world, & to assist the family throughout this entire process.hospice

At the end of the day, I think we all break at least a few stereotypes in our lives, even if we’ve never given it a lot of thought.  Because stereotypes can be so damaging, I think we all could benefit from taking a few moments to think about what kind of stereotypes we break in our own lives as well as to examine the prejudices we might hold towards others due to common stereotypes in our society.

To end this post, I’ll leave you with a few quotes about stereotypes that I find very empowering & perhaps you will too.

Reducing a group to a slur or stereotype reduces us all.”   ~ DaShanne Stokes (author & human rights activist)

If you’re struggling to fit me into a box . . . Then build a bigger box!”   ~ Serina Hartwell (novelist)

P.S. If you want to check out Motionless in White, I’d strongly suggest starting with Reincarnate off of their latest album of the same name:

46 Things I Want to Teach My Children Someday

As some of you may know, for many years I was quite sure I never wanted to have children.  Deep down I knew I’d probably change my mind someday but I just couldn’t imagine that ever happening.  I’ve just never been one of those women who instantly connects with children or feels really comfortable with them.  Perhaps this is because I wasn’t the happiest child myself; indeed I was always in a hurry to grow up & I’ve never been happier than I have been since I reached adulthood.

As it so happens, I’ve been thinking A LOT about becoming a mom lately.  It’s probably partly due to having Chaucer (my dog) & watching him grow up & how wonderful that is.  And it’s probably partly because I’m 26 so I’m hitting what might be considered a normal age to start having kids.  (Hell, where I grew up I’m already far behind!)

Our Welch corgi, Chaucer

Our Welsh corgi, Chaucer

When I do decide to have kids, you can be sure I’ll have thought about all the possibilities & consequences.  I’ve read all the articles about how kids ruin your sleep, your appearance, your metabolism, your sex life, your marriage, your career, & everything else.  (May I just say my husband & I are determined to prove all those articles wrong?)  I’ve never been one of those “starry-eyed” women who see babies & only think of cuddles & love.  No indeed.  When I see babies I mostly think about the pain of labor & breastfeeding & the sleepless nights.  Does this make me cold-hearted & unfeeling?  No, I think it just makes me realistic.  And as one of my dearest friends told me today, the fact that I’ve thought about all of these things & am taking this decision so seriously is probably evidence that I will actually be a good mom.  Her saying that means the world to me because whenever I express doubt about becoming a mom or admit that I’m not particularly fond of most young children, it seems that most people give me that look that implies something must be inherently wrong with me & say “Well, if you’re not sure, you better not do it.”  Whenever I become a mom, I know I’ll be a bit different than most of the moms in my family, but I can only hope I’ll be half as good, even if I am a bit unorthodox.blankie baby

In any case, as part of my pondering about becoming a mom, my mind keeps thinking of all the things I want to teach my children someday.  I know some people will probably think I’m really pretentious for writing out this list, but the way I see it is it’s better to have a lot of plans that I might never fully accomplish than to have no plans at all. 

  1. I will teach my children the importance of asking both “Why?” & “Why not?” If the subject is something to believe or trust, the appropriate question is “Why?”  If the subject is something fun to do, the appropriate question is “Why not?”
  2. I will teach my children to play in rain puddles, piles of leaves, & grassy meadows.
  3. I will teach my children to value people of different races, ethnicities, & cultures. I will teach them that no one is superior or inferior than anyone else but especially not because of something so superficial as race, gender, or nationality.diverse kids
  4. I will teach my children that love is love & it doesn’t matter who it’s between as long as they are two consenting adults who are not hurting each other.
  5. I will teach my kids the value of good nutrition & eating well.
  6. I will teach my kids to enjoy exercise, even if it’s just running around the yard chasing the dog.
  7. On that subject, I will teach my kids that dogs really are man’s (& woman’s) best friend.
  8. I will teach my kids to love rock & roll. I will take them to rock concerts when they are old enough (probably 10-12 or older).  I will be that crazy mom who is screaming to the music with my kids & I will not be ashamed or apologize for it.  In the car we will rock out to Halestorm, Godsmack, & Black Stone Cherry (among others).freak like me
  9. I will teach my children not to judge others based on appearance. I will teach them that some of the best people in the world are covered with tattoos & piercings while some of the most deceitful people in the world are dressed in suits & ties.
  10. I will teach my children that life isn’t all fun & games but it isn’t all misery & suffering either. It’s a little bit of everything & we have to learn to appreciate all of it.
  11. I will teach my children that life’s not fair & they better get used to that real fast.
  12. I will teach my kids that they alone are responsible for the choices they make; thus they better be ready to face the consequences of their actions, no matter what they are.choices
  13. I will teach my children that sex is wonderful & amazing . . . & because of that they better be careful who they do it with & when. But I will never make them feel that sex in & of itself is something dirty or something to be ashamed of.
  14. I will teach my children about birth control & how it works & why they had better use it until the day they (& their partner) are absolutely certain they are ready to be parents.
  15. I will teach my children that education is the key to success in life . . . but they better have a plan to go along with it because degrees alone are worthless these days.
  16. I will teach my kids that there is no job that is beneath them & working hard at everything they do is essential to success in life.
  17. I will teach my kids to show respect to everyone they meet, whether it’s their doctor, their teacher, or the janitor.
  18. I will teach my children that “everything in moderation” is a really great motto in life, the only exceptions being things like heroin & cocaine. Just have some common sense!moderation
  19. I will teach my kids that things in & of themselves are never evil; it’s how we use them that makes them good or bad. For example, the internet isn’t evil just because some creeps use it to prey on children or watch porn.  Books aren’t evil just because some of them say things you don’t like.  Music isn’t evil just because some of it contains lyrics that are rude or disparaging.
  20. I will teach my kids the importance of valuing every single day they’re alive because life is never guaranteed.
  21. I will teach my kids that they don’t have to be just like me for me to love them or be proud of them. There is more than one road to success in life & theirs might look very different than mine.  And that’s ok.Dalai lama quote
  22. I will teach my kids that in order to be successful in life they need to get off their ass & get moving. Success doesn’t come to those who wait for it.  It comes to those who set goals & work hard to meet them.
  23. I will teach my children that the exact words people say are far less important than the feelings behind them.
  24. On a similar token, I will teach my children that actions speak far louder than words.
  25. I will teach my children to always be honest about their intentions with others.
  26. I will teach my kids the value of empathy & how important it is to just listen to others when they are suffering.
  27. I will teach my children that the world doesn’t owe them anything. They will not be entitled brats if it kills me.
  28. I will teach my kids that the purpose of life is to live it, to soak up every experience life has to offer, & to revel in the love we have for each other.purpose of life
  29. If I have daughters, I will make sure my husband teaches them how to check the oil in their car & how to change a tire because these are all things I’ve never learned & I want my daughters to be more independent than I am.
  30. If I have sons, I will teach them how to do laundry & basic cooking because I love that I never had to teach my husband any of these things.
  31. I will teach my children that society has various expectations of them based on gender but they need to choose their own path, regardless of what society says.
  32. I will teach my kids to value the simple beauties of nature: the way the sky looks just before it rains, the sweet smell of honeysuckle in the spring time, the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, the feeling of snowflakes tickling your nose, & the way a little frost makes the whole world look magical.


    Taken along the Highline Trail at Glacier Ntnl Park, Sept 2014

  33. I will teach my children to love curry & all foods Indian & Mediterranean. If not, they might starve at our house . . .
  34. I will teach my kids that having an argument with someone doesn’t mean you don’t love them. It just means you disagreed about something & the worst thing you can do in such situations is to bottle up your emotions & hold them in until you explode.
  35. I will teach my kids to question everything & never believe something just because such & such person said it. I will teach them to judge everything based on its own merits.
  36. I will share with my kids the joy of reading & searching out used book stores in all corners of the city.
  37. I will take my children to visit their elders & teach them to appreciate all the things the elderly can teach us about life.
  38. I will teach my children that being weird is awesome & following the crowd is for losers.weird awesome
  39. I will teach my children that no one can make them feel inferior without their consent.
  40. I will teach my kids the difference between serving others & being a doormat. It’s a fine line but it’s one you have to find.
  41. I will teach my kids that in order to take care of others, they must first learn to take care of themselves. As hard as it will be to do so, I will role model this for them as best I can.
  42. I will teach my children that, like things, emotions are never evil. It’s what we do with them that matters.  I do not want them to grow up feeling guilty for experiencing anger, sadness, lust, or any other “sinful” emotion.  I just want to teach them heathy ways to express these feelings.
  43. I will teach my kids that nothing in life is perfect all the time. Life isn’t a fairytale but it’s still pretty damn good if we make smart choices & chase our passions.fairytale tequila
  44. I will teach my children that even though being a mom is immeasurably important I am still other things too: a wife, a sister, a daughter, a nurse, etc. Even though I know all children have a hard time thinking of their mothers as anything else, I hope they’ll learn to appreciate me as more than just “a mom” if that makes any sense.
  45. I will teach my children that we are all hypocrites sometimes & no matter how hard we try, we all fail to live up to our own ideals at times. We just have to keep striving to do the best we can & stay humble when we make mistakes.
  46. And, perhaps greatest of all, I will kiss & hug my children every day & teach them to never doubt how much I love them.

What do you think, readers?  Are these worthy goals or am I just tilting at windmills?