The Good Place: Sexual Abuse, Church, and Why Everything is NOT Fine

Netflix cheating and shows about Hell. 

My husband and I have a very strict rule in our marriage:

No Netflix cheating.

If you do not know, Netflix cheating is when you watch episodes of certain series without your significant other present. I struggled with remaining Netflix faithful during summer vacation; I just had so much free time.

My solution to keep myself Netflix monogamous is to get deep into shows my husband has no interest in watching; I can binge watch in peace, and the hubs isn’t subjected to watching 8 seasons of The Gilmore Girls.

My new alone-time binge series is “The Good Place.”

To serve the purpose of a rant I am going to go on shortly, here are a few spoilers from the show. You have been sufficiently warned.

“The Good Place” is about a woman named Eleanor Shellstrop who, in the pilot episode, dies and goes to The Good Place. However, a problem arises when Eleanor realizes she doesn’t actually belong there. She has lived a terrible life, and has accidentally taken the place of another Eleanor who was in turn sent to The Bad Place. In an attempt to remain in The Good Place, Eleanor begins taking ethics lessons from her friend (and soul mate) Chidi.

Okay, so all of this info is in the general description of the show, but here’s the spoiler: at the end of season one, Eleanor makes a frightening discovery:

The Good Place is actually The Bad Place! 

Michael, the architect of The Bad Place, created a unique form of torture for Eleanor and three others, to put them through mental and emotional torment.

The show is downright hilarious, and actually quite thought provoking, so even though I have kind of ruined the big plot twist, you should watch it anyway.

I promise I have a good reason for the spoilers.

Fake news and a real shame

Over the last week, I wish Trump was right, and everything I was reading in the local news was fake.

*Side note: Should be the only time I ever utter the words, “I wish Trump was right.”

This past week, news broke of a local pastor and his wife who have been charged with 28 sexual abuse related charges. Sadly, these charges were no surprise to my household because, for a short time, my husband and I attended the church in question.

My husband and I had left the church by the time these charges came to light. Several other issues had came to our attention regarding the leadership and the treatment of the congregation which urged us to leave. We were upset to hear the stories from the girls, and about the charges laid, but we were by no means taken aback. The behaviour described by the girls, and inferred by the charges, are in line with behaviour we witnessed when we attended the church.

I have no doubt in my mind; these are not false accusations.

I watched interviews with the senior pastor (the accused’s father) on local news stations whilst screaming, “LIES,” at the television screen. He stood in front of his church building, claiming all these charges were a huge surprise to him, and included that he’s refusing to choose sides. He said this while also lamenting about how his son’s education will now be rendered useless.

*I interrupt this broadcast for a dose of reality: Hey, guess what? If a teacher, who went to school for teaching, started beating their students, they would no longer be permitted to teach. This kind of behaviour would be considered inappropriate and they would have to find a new profession. I would say the same should be true for a pastor who sexually assaults and spiritually manipulates their congregants. If you want a job where this kind of behaviour is appropriate, become a pirate, not a pastor.

As news came out, I had two conflicting thoughts:

  1. Good! These people should not receive anymore anonymity or enabling for their crimes.
  2. Bad! Why is the “church” so often the hub for this nonsense?

“Wait a second, THIS is The Bad Place!”- Eleanor Shellstrop 

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https://tenor.com/view/nbc-the-good-place-the-good-place-gifs-holy-mother-forking-shirt-balls-kristen-bell-gif-9684992

It can be easy for Christians to over-spiritualize this situation. I attended the church in question long enough to witness this Christian-Phenomena happen many times. When the accused were arrested, their pastor/father took to Facebook to write, “If you know us and our church please pray. We are under attack like never before and we need the accuser of the saints to be silenced and Truth prevail.”

Two days later he wrote, “Thank you to everyone who is praying for us and expressing love at this time. You are making a difference. This is a time when we must not believe with our eyes and ears but with our spirits. Let God be true and every man a liar. Can’t be specific at this time but your prayers are making a difference.”

Other news posts on Facebook were peppered with comments from people saying things like, “The devil is running rampant,” and “These pastors are under attack.”

It can be easy for Christians to over-spiritualize things. But what if we didn’t?

Young girls were spiritually manipulated and sexually assaulted by their pastor and his wife.

This couple has also been enabled to behave like this for many years by their parents (and senior pastors), which also points to their abuse of spiritual authority.

There is no need to find flowery Christian language to frame this situation in an effort to protect the church.

What if we just said it? THIS is a Bad Place!

Pobody’s Nerfect!

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http://www.spoilertv.com/2017/01/the-good-place-whats-my-motivation.html

I have never been so critical of my own discernment before. How could I have been friends with these people? How did we attend this church for any amount of time? How did I let myself be so manipulated by this couple? Because I was all of those things, as painful and embarrassing as it is to admit. I was their friend, I was a volunteer in their church, and I was spiritually manipulated by them.

My experience at this church was particularly painful as it was my grand return to church after several years. The pastors appeared compassionate and welcoming to me when I was at a personal “church-low,” and so, despite several red-flags, I stuck around. When it came time for my husband and I to step down from leadership, we were slandered and gossiped about. Instead of announcing our stepping down from leadership on a Sunday while we were still attending, the pastors waited until we were gone to proclaim to the congregation, “Well, we thought we heard from God about those two, but I guess we were wrong.”

The church is never going to be perfect, because people, in general, are a mess. There are churches with good protocol, safe leaders, healthy accountability, and trustworthy financials. There are some churches that, may not be perfect, but they are good places. However, let us not be so naive or so proud to think that because we are in a church, it is a safe, healthy place to be.

Welcome. Everything is Fine. 

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THE GOOD PLACE — “Everything Is Fine” Episode 101– Pictured: Kristen Bell as Eleanor — (Photo by: Justin Lubin/NBC)

In the finale episode of “The Good Place,” Eleanor thanks her friend Chidi by telling him, “It’s like I was dropped in a cave, and you were my flashlight.”

Throughout scripture, Jesus is referred to as a “light,” and it is true, He is. It is not “the devil” who reveals sins. The darkness is about lies, and hiding. It is the light which reveals sin and creates opportunities for the sinner to either seek repentance or a darker corner to hide in.

Spiritual manipulation can really leave a person grappling with their faith in God; wondering what “side” Jesus will be taking: the victim or the pastor. Some Christians would say that Jesus is not taking sides; he’s somewhere in the middle. I would have to disagree with this sentiment. It sounds a lot more like Jesus’ character to seek justice for those who are oppressed than it is to believe He is passively standing in the middle shrugging his shoulders.

The ladies who have stepped forward about their abuse and their abuser, who had the bravery to say everything is NOT fine, are the flashlights in the dark cave. They have not only revealed the sins of the pastors, but they have also lit a path for others who have not yet been able to step forward and name what has happened to them.

Being the first ones to come forward, to be the whistle blowers, is not an easy place to be in. It is a hard place to be, it is a vulnerable place to be… but it’s a good place.

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Feminist-ish

First encounters with feminism

When I was in high school, I had a friend named Liz. She was hilarious and I thoroughly enjoyed her company.

One day I showed up at her house, and she answered the door wearing only a sports jersey and her underwear. Modest little me gasped a holy gasp and asked,

“Liz, where are your pants?”

The conversation then deteriorated into a strange rant about women’s “rights.”

“Men are allowed to walk around topless, but they aren’t allowed to walk around pants-less. I think it’s because stuff is dangling down there. I have assumed that’s why women aren’t allowed to walk around topless because we have things dangling on top. So, because I have nothing on my undercarriage that dangles, I should be allowed to walk around without pants.”

It was actually a relatively decent argument to me, however I still refused to walk to the corner store with her until she put some pants on. She never answered the door pants-less again.

I can not decide whether I corrected negative behaviour, or crushed her spirit.

Girls Just Want to Have FUNdamental Rights

I saw an event being advertised on Facebook and was immediately frustrated.

(What does this mean? I am being brought to fierce anger over things I see on Facebook. Am I a troll now?)

This event was for a protest happening downtown; a women’s rights protest to be specific. The title of the event: “Go Topless Day 2017”

When I talk about this event, and other topics regarding women exposing parts of their bodies, I would like to clarify right now what I am NOT talking about:

– Breast feeding your child in public: Kid’s gotta eat, do what you gotta do.

– Wearing certain attire in the appropriate contexts: You wanna wear a bikini or go topless at the beach, giver.

And now, for what I am here to say:

I do not think nudity is feminism, or women’s empowerment.

I also do not think men somehow “have it better” because it is slightly more socially acceptable for them to walk around without shirts on. To that point, I can count the number of times I have seen men walking down Robson Street topless. Twice. And one of the times it was a homeless man pan handling. I bought him a shirt. He seemed super happy about it and not at all oppressed by my attempt to clothe him.

Being naked to demonstrate ones rights makes about as much sense to me as spending all of your money to prove you are rich.

You do not have to give it all away to prove you have it.

Free the nipple? Why? Other than to breast feed, I do not see the immediate need for this.

My nipples have never felt oppressed. In fact, in my experience, my nipples bode much better in the warmth of my clothing.

Also, it is already “legal” for women to go topless, so nothing is being fought for here.

I understand the desire to normalize women’s nudity. I know an awesome woman who is a tattoo artist who offers areola restorative tattooing. She posts her incredible work on Instagram and it is constantly being reported… that is ridiculous. A woman being shamed because she is breast feeding her child in public, also ridiculous!

I agree people do need to get a grip when a woman’s body is being displayed in the appropriate contexts. However, I feel this event may be garnering the wrong kind of attention.

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Feminist-ish

I find myself steering clear of titles like “feminist” for the same reasons I find myself steering clear of titles like “Christian.” Not because I do not believe in women’s equality, or Jesus, but because the titles themselves conjure up images in my mind that I do not typically associate with positive attributes.

The rights of women matter! Women deserve to be paid equally, treated equally, and valued for more than what their bodies have to offer. I believe it is important to have platforms for men and women to educate the public about women’s rights.

I cannot begin to claim I am an expert when it comes to this subject. I know I have a lot to learn, and am open to hear from those who are more educated on the matter than I am.

All I can say for certain is I know how I feel about women’s rights and human rights.

I know I feel icky when I see “EQUALITY” written across a bunch of women’s bare chests posed as if they are at Daytona Beach on Spring Break.

I know I feel liberated when I hear a strong, confident, well-educated, articulate woman speaking about equality, leadership, and the rights of women and girls.

I do not want to re-live my teenage experience with my friend Liz and feel like I am ruining everyone’s no-pants-party, so if you want to have a topless party downtown, go for it.

Just don’t call it “women’s rights.”

A Weirdos Summer Bucket List

 

I love my job. I love working with kids (teenagers) and I love the school I work at.

With that said: I’m over it.

Not forever of course but, dang, I am ready for summer break.

I have told several people I want my summer to look like if Jillian Harris lived in Mr. Rogers Neighbourhood.

What does that look like?

  • Happy/polite people
  • The occasional musical number
  • Perfectly manicured feet and hands

Realistic? I don’t know, but shoot for the moon and you will land amongst the stars, am I right?

In an effort to reach my unrealistic half-baked romanticized completely plausible goals, I have created a summer bucket list.

Learn how to play the Ukulele

What better way to ensure my summer vacation involves musical numbers than to learn a new instrument?

Why ukulele? Well, probably the same reasoning which led me to play the flute in high school band: it’s easy to carry, and it’s fun looking. I feel like, as a vocalist, the ukulele is significantly more practical than for me than a flute. At least I can sing along as I play… you can’t sing and play the flute at the same time… I tried… it was weird.

Read

Dear Netflix, You’re ruining my summer plans. It is only day three of summer holidays and I have completed my Netflix bucket list goals. I need to be a contributing, educated member of society, and you’re making it hard.

Yours truly,

Ashley

P.S. Orange is the New Black, I can’t wait a year. I need to know what happens to the pool dwellers. Show on the road, folks!

Okay but seriously, binge watching is real, and it is dangerous. I have a stack of books next to my bed and I have churned through the first… hmmm, couple chapters of all of them, but not much further than that.

Top of my list right now: “Why Not Me?” by Mindy Kaling

I am looking forward to reading for the sake of good ol’ fashion fun, and not for school or work. I’m looking at you, “To Kill A Mocking Bird.”

Any other fun summer reads I should be adding to my list?

Clean

Do not judge me, but I LOVE cleaning and organizing the house. Opening a new box of Mr. Clean Magic Erasers is a spiritual experience for me.

A good purge of junk? Oh yeah!

Organizing the storage closet? Give it to me baby!

Scrubbing the tub? Oooh, it hurts so good and I love it!

We just bought a vacuum, and I actually daydream about using it. This summer, all of my Jillian Harris/Mr. Rogers dreams will come true.

Swiffer: check!

Magic Eraser: check!

Vacuum: check!

Good, wholesome fun: check, check!

Local Adventures 

Not a giant surprise to those who know me: I do not do camping. I figure humans have spent their entire lives trying to improve their living conditions. Who am I stick my nose up at progress?

Every friend loves to insist that camping with them is some how “different” than camping experiences I have had in the past.

“Oh Ashley, my camping cooking is the best, you’ll love it”

“Oh Ashley, I set up a superior tent, you’ll be magically cozy with me”

“Oh Ashley, you’ll love peeing outside in my presence”

Lies. All lies.

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With that said, I do enjoy the outdoors… I just want to shower and sleep in my bed at the end of the day.

The perfect solution? Day trips!

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The husband and I have been using the weekends for mini-hikes (like Quarry Rock) and some casual trails (like Lower Falls). However, we are on the lookout for some new, moderate hikes.

Any can-not-miss hikes in the Vancouver area?

My hubby suggested the Grouse Grind; I laughed and laughed.

I am also interested in trying my hand at other mild-adventures. Kayaking in Deep Cove is on the list.

Any suggestions for other adventures that won’t kill me?

Also on the summer time bucket list: nap, visit friends, and hopefully have at least one weekend getaway with the Hubs.

How about you? What’s on your summer bucket list?

Are you pregnant?

I am not pregnant.

Just in case you were wondering.

I thought I would let you know because I am asked… often.

How often?

Modestly: once a week.

Let me repeat: I am not pregnant.

I know I am a married woman, of a childbearing age, but I do not feel these facts should give people carte blanche to look me up and down and ask me intimate questions about my reproductive health.

In my opinion, there is never a good time to ask a woman if she’s pregnant.

I do not care if the woman looks 10 months pregnant, and is waddling so hard it looks like she is crowning, I will NOT ask about her ripe pregnant belly until SHE mentions she is currently “with child.”

Until that time, I will carry on talking about the weather, and the latest episode of Broadchurch.

I have had a few stand-out instances when I was asked if I was pregnant.

Incident #1: I was registering children in for a church event. I was standing next to my very petite, very pregnant friend. She’s one of those gals who is “all baby” and looks like she’s got a basketball shoved up her shirt with every pregnancy. She looked adorable (and pregnant—not that I would have said anything to her if I was a stranger). I remember I was feeling particularly cute because I was wearing this flowy bohemian shirt. Flowy… not, basketball under my shirt. A father approaches our table; he looks my friend up and down, he looks me up and down, and then looks at ME and says, “How far long are you?”

I went home, burned my shirt, and cried.

Incident #2: I was dismissing my students from class on the last day before summer break. One of the mom’s came over to bid me farewell. As we stood chatting, she stopped mid-sentence, looked me up and down, zoned in on my stomach and said (in a whispered voice): “You’re not pregnant, are you?”

If you have to whisper it, you shouldn’t say it…

In my experience, when my friends are pregnant they are usually pretty excited to tell people about it. In fact, in many cases, it’s hard to get them to shut up about it. Which is wonderful, and should be expected.

However, if one of my friends does not immediately announce their pregnancy I am assuming there is a reason.

Jokes aside, pregnancy can be a really touchy subject.

Some people struggle for years to get pregnant.

Some people get pregnant but have suffered several miscarriages.

Some people (believe it or not) do not actually want kids.

I do want to have kids eventually. When I get asked if I am pregnant I take offence not because I do not want kids or because I have struggled with infertility but because it feels like I am being subtly told, “You look fat in that outfit.” In reality, I could have worse things said to me but I can not help but think about my friends who are actually struggling in this area.

So, in an effort to change the world, here is an exhaustive list to help you know when is a good time to ask a woman if she is pregnant:

  • She recently got married and should be pregnant by now.
  • She has a glow.
  • She is wearing flowy clothing.
  • You are related and feel you have the right to know.
  • She is starting to “show.”
  • She is really “showing.”
  • Her stomach is so huge she has to be pregnant.
  • She is rubbing her belly in a nurturing fashion.
  • You are so curious you can’t stand it anymore.
  • Her water broke. (At this point I would encourage the person to seek medical attention for their incontinence, not letting on any suspicions)
  • She is holding a baby in her arms… to which an appropriate response would be: “You were pregnant? I could not tell due to how thin you’ve looked over the past several months. Congratulations!”

Now go in peace.

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A 30 Year Old’s Guide to Surviving High School

img_2462High School is not easy. Hormones, homework, and trying not to forget your gym strip… and it is not any easier for the students.

I should explain; I am an Education Assistant at a High School, which means I spend my day supporting students in their classes. I balance a fine line between being the “other” teacher in the class, and engaging enthusiastically in lessons to demonstrate the behaviour of the quintessential student.

Somedays I feel like I am participating in a strange social experiment to test how much I have grown up since High School.

This is my fourth year working at the school, and I have learned some things will never change:

  • I am just as uncoordinated in P.E. as I was at 16.
  • Math still makes me want to cry.
  • I still consider it a compliment if one of the “cool kids” likes my outfit.
  • I am still too social for my own good.
  • Even when attempting to show restraint, I cannot help but squeal with delight when I hear the words, “school dance,” “Christmas Break,” “Summer Vacation,” and “School Spirit Week.”
  • Even when attempting to show restraint, I cannot help but groan in true agony when I hear the words, “provincial exam,” “pop quiz,” and, “dodge ball.”*

*I am almost certain that dodgeball was invented by a sadistic substitute P.E. teacher who thought to himself, “I am not allowed to hit the kids, but what if I created a game where I got to sit back and watch as they hit each other… as hard as they can… in the face… with a big rubber ball?”*

Do not get me wrong; I have grown and matured since my years as a High School student:

  • I own a car which means I no longer have to tolerate my former companions on public transit.
  • I almost never forget my lunch.
  • Even though I am still as uncoordinated in P.E. as I was as a teenager, I have now perfected my P.E. excuses. For example:
    • “Oh no, the student over there seems to be in distress! I should put down my ball hockey stick and rush to their aid!”
    • “I think it’s best I just line up the balls for dodge ball and then quickly get out of the way. I would hate for one team to have the unfair advantage of having a teacher on their side.”
    • “I can’t run today because it’s my time of the…” Okay, some excuses have remained the same.
  • I truly enjoy learning! Especially when it is just for the joy of learning something new, and there are no homework assignments required of me.

I have also discovered teenagers are truly weird, wonderful, and hilarious creatures! They wear ridiculous clothing, come up with strange catch phrases that make no sense, and are fleshy little balls of emotions. They are brilliant beyond their years, incredibly talented, so funny I have cried with laughter in class more times than I can count, and are compassionate in sometimes unrecognizable ways (but it is there).

I loved my high school experience, so much so that on my last day of grade 12 I carried a video camera around with me and captured most of my day on film (I need to find that one of these days). Though my love for my high school ran deep as a teenager, I have learned a lot about myself now as an adult working in a high school.

I am reminded how easy it is to be judgemental of the next generation and how I should extend these kids the same grace I was afforded by certain adults in my life.

I give myself freedom to ask questions, admit I am wrong, and take joy in moments when I discover I was smarter than I thought I was.

I allow myself to break into song, tap dance through the hallways, and tell terribly punny jokes, because that is who I am, and whenever I am being the most “me,” I allow others the same liberty to be themselves.

I think that every adult should be required by law to return to high school for a month or two. It is a great reminder of how much you have grown, how much you have not changed at all, and what precious parts of yourself you have forgotten about that need to be resurrected.

 

Birthday Swag and Oprah-like Enthusiasm

I love my own birthday.

 
I have no shame in planning myself a birthday party, wearing a “Birthday Girl” sash, and proudly announcing the countdown before my birthday occurs. Being a December baby has turned me into a bit more of a birthday enthusiast; maybe it’s the need to compensate for the fact that my birthday is slightly overshadowed by Jesus’ (fair).

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One of my favourite birthday parties that I planned for myself! Vancouver Christmas Market (bought with a Groupon), followed by VanDusen Gardens.

If I were to compare myself to anyone and their ability to celebrate their own birthday with gusto, it would be Oprah. Yes, not only have I admitted I love my own birthday, I have also compared myself to Oprah.

With the right budget I too would make it rain with luxury vehicles, and fancy kitchen wear for all my friends and family. My birthday would be a televised event which was celebrated for weeks upon end.

“EVERYBODY GETS A BRAND NEW SPEED BOAT!”

Sadly, I don’t have the budget required to truly celebrate my birthday in style, therefore, I rely upon freebies to give off the allusion of birthday extravagance.

Free birthday swag has become one of my favourite parts of my birthday, for the following reasons:

  1. Presents from strangers are exciting (not to be confused with candy from strangers… do not take candy from strangers)
  2. I get to celebrate my birthday for (at least) a week.
  3. It becomes socially acceptable for me to announce, “It’s my BIRTHDAY!” in the middle of a crowded restaurant.

So, in true Oprah-like-fashion, I am sharing with you my free birthday swag secrets.

*Insert Ashley yelling “EVERYBODY GETS FREE BIRTHDAY STUFF” in her best Oprah impression*

Free breakfast at Denny’s: All you need to do is bring in your ID and a friend, and you get a free breakfast. Yum!

Free drink at Starbucks: Sign-up for Starbucks rewards (which is awesome for more than just birthdays) and receive a free drink on your birthday.10428655_333409216867132_8103121976800523494_n

Free drink at Teavana: Not into coffee? Well, your free Starbucks drink is transferrable to Teavana.

Free tea at David’s Tea: Become a “Frequent Steeper” and receive a free drink on your special day.

Present from Sephora: Become a beauty insider and receive a free birthday gift (and free goodies all year long as you earn points).

Free dinner at Washington Avenue Grill, The Hawthorn, or The Vault: Sign-up online, bring a friend, and receive a free dinner at anyone of these restaurants. This year, I went to The Vault and it was absolutely delicious!

Free dinner at Edith & Arthurs: Sign-up online, bring a friend, and receive a free dinner. My husband and I also received an email on our anniversary for a free bottle of champagne and free dessert.

Free burger at Red Robins: Sign-up online, bring a friend and get a free burger on your birthday. Always yummy! And… bottomless fries and freckled lemonade!

Free Booster Juice: Sign-up online and get a free Booster Juice!

Free dinner at Milestones: This one isn’t my favourite because you need to bring 3 friends as opposed to just one other person, but if you’re into Milestones, and have 3 friends who want to join you, you get a free dinner!

Free piece of pizza at Fresh Slice: This offer is only available in BC and Ontario, so if you’re in either of those places, show your ID and Fresh Slice will give you a free piece of pizza on your birthday.

There are plenty of places that will give you a free dessert or some kind of discount on your birthday, but the list above is my list of favs (Ashley’s Favourite Things, if you will) because most of them are completely free.

I hope this list brings you as much joy as it brings me, and I hope it helps make your birthday just little bit happier 🙂

Do you have any fun birthday traditions?

Free birthday swag locations you want to share?

Comment below and share the birthday joy.

The Miracle of Childbirth (And other things that scare the s*** out of me)

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I do not know if I am ready to be a mother yet.

Which is fine, because I am not currently “with child.”

Due to my profession, I have spent a lot of time with kids, and not just a few kids, hundreds of kids; dare I say thousands!

I have learned a few things about children:

  1. I like kids. A lot of them are fairly cute, they say funny things, and they usually laugh at my jokes.
  2. Kids are little and easy to pick up, which makes me feel like a giant, and I enjoy feeling like a giant. It is the same reason I enjoy tiny utensils.
  3. They are really loud, but I am okay with loud volumes because it means I am not the loudest person in the room.
  4. When I am with children it is socially acceptable to colour, sing Disney songs, and announce when I have to leave the room to go potty.
  5. Kids are sticky… all the time. I don’t know why. What do these parents feed their children that makes them so damn sticky? And how do they manage to get said substance on their foreheads? I’m always a little hesitant to go near small children for this reason.
  6. Kids have no filter, and will ask you if you have a baby in your tummy with no shame. And the answer is no, no I don’t have a baby in my tummy, yes I did have a particularly large lunch today, and yes I will be throwing out this shirt.
  7. Kids are unpredictable. I am constantly hearing little stories from parents about the time their “precious little cherub” decided to paint their nursery with their own poop. Those same moms seem to love following those stories with, “So, how many kids do you think you’ll have?” To which I respond, “Siamese fighting fish.”
  8. Kids are expensive. They require extravagant themed birthday parties with three tiered cakes, adult friends who drink alcohol, and goody bags filled to the brim with organic, fair trade, gluten free gummy bears.
  9. Kids are ridiculous. No, you can’t jump on the trampoline during the snowstorm while eating Kraft dinner. Why? You want to know why? Because it’s ridiculous, and so are you.

I look forward to the day I have my own children, but I also have an irrational (albeit totally rational to me) fear of childbirth. I have spent far too much time with mothers who love to share their magical, miracle childbirth stories, which leave me dry heaving and hyperventilating into a paper bag.

Bloody Nipples, Tearing, and Developing Strong Feelings in Favor of Adoption

I do not know what’s better: knowing too much about childbirth, or knowing too little.

I’ll happily read books about child rearing, but I am not touching a birthing book until I absolutely have to. I figure that once I have children I won’t have time to read a lot of parenting books, because I’ll be too busy actually parenting. I feel like having some parenting techniques under my belt is wise, but having knowledge about bloody nursing nipples, and tearing is just fear mongering.

*Side bar: It’s kind of ridiculous to me that people have to take classes and read books before they are allowed to drive a car, but anyone, and I do mean anyone, can just have a baby. There should be a class or something every person has to take before they are allowed to pop out a kid. I don’t know who would be in charge of enforcing such things, but I’m pretty sure I’d rock at it.

I have always liked the idea of having kids; I have just never been fond of the idea of having kids (if you know what I mean). I fear pain, hate hospitals, and I have never envied the “pregnant lady glow.” I am not dumb; I know its just sweat from overexertion and sleep deprivation. More recently I have began to warm up to the idea, but mainly because of my own fondness for my husband and how adorable our Half-rican babies will be, not because I am any less frightened that these little miracles won’t (to quote The Mindy Project), “steal my youth and beauty and keep it for their own damn selves.”

Men in Labor and Other Unnatural Things

Have you seen those videos where men endure simulated labor pains in an effort to “understand” what a woman goes through during childbirth? It is both horrifying and fascinating. I do not feel like the men who partake in these experiments are doing it with pure motives though. They say it is in an effort to “understand” what women go through, but I feel like they secretly want to experience it to prove that it is “no big deal.” They walk in all confident saying crap like, “Start me on the highest level, I can handle it,” as if they’re about to play a video game. Whether you have seen it or not, I probably do not have to tell you how things went. The men cry, moan, scream, and convulse… During the first five minutes.

There is something disheartening about watching six-foot-tall, 200lb men quivering in pain from simulated labor pains… and they don’t even need to push anything out!

Sitting on a Throne of Lies

My solution? I have decided to lie to myself, and surround myself with equally convincing liars. I want to hear from the mothers who sneezed, and whoop there’s a baby! The mothers that got to the hospital and hardly had time to get the maternity band off of their pants before they welcomed their darling munchkin into the world… those are the stories I want! If you were in labor for 72 hours, and can no longer laugh or sneeze without peeing your pants, talk to another newly married woman, because I am not your girl.

 

 

Dear Meghan Trainor


Dear Meghan Trainor,

We, you and me, are all right. Go ahead; take a deep sigh of relief.

I read a blog the other day, crediting you to a lot of things I don’t believe you’re responsible for (Taylor was right, haters are going to hate). In lieu of this, I thought you’d be happy to know, I have got your back (figuratively).

I am not offended by your music, or to be more specific, your lyricism. I don’t think you sat down with a guitar, or a piano, or a xylophone one day and thought, “I hate skinny people, someone needs to put them in their place. Also, my butt looks great today. I should write a song with these reoccurring lyrical themes running through it.”

Don’t worry though Meg, (can I call you Meg?) I have compiled for you a selection of reasons why I think people need to chill out.

First off, I think the people who are having such a hard time with you, are taking you and your music way too seriously. Not to say your music has not had a lot of thought put into it, but let’s be real; it’s not a piece of government legislation… you are writing pop songs.

I understand the powerful affect music can have on an individual, but I didn’t go screaming for the hills when Destiny’s Child released “Bootylicious.” I didn’t think, “Oh no! Beyonce said that I wasn’t ready for their jelly, but it seems as if they’re providing me with their jelly regardless. I’m not ready! Your body is just too Bootylicious for me.”

I have never sought out abuse from a man because Britney Spears seemed to be so hell bent on being hit one more time.

I have not kissed a girl, because even though Katy Perry seemed to enjoy it, I don’t feel like I would.

You know why? Because I don’t live my life by these songs (if I did I’d be living out some strange montage of the Backstreet Boys Greatest hits)!

All music has a message; some are messages of love, some of hatred, some have deep political messages, and there are some that are meant to be tongue-in-cheek. I feel like “All About That Bass” is meant as the latter.

Secondly, I think the concept of a “self-image role model” is a bit of a joke.

Do you have great self-image?

Yes? Awesome.

No? That’s too bad for you.

It doesn’t help or hinder me.

Thankfully (or sometimes regretfully), my self-image is really only controlled by me.Which means, that if I don’t like hearing about your love for fine booty because it makes me doubt the quality of my own, that’s my issue, not yours.

Third and lastly, I feel like you’re getting way too much credit.

Here is a list of songs which seem to possess preferential treatment towards big butts:

  • Sir Mix-a-lot’s “Baby Got Back”
    • “My Anaconda don’t want none unless you’ve got buns hun.”
  • Snoop Dog and Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle”
    • “You know what to do with that big fat butt… wiggle, wiggle, wiggle”
  • Jenifer Lopez and Iggy’s “Booty”
    • “Mesmerized by the size of the, You can find it if you like take your time, I can guarantee you’ll have the time of your life, Throw up your hands if you love a big booty” (Poetry, I know)
  • Black Eyed Pea’s “My Humps”
    • “Whatcha gonna do with all that junk? All that junk inside that trunk? I’m gonna get get get you drunk; get you love drunk off this hump.”

There are many more. I am not kidding. Google, “Songs about booty.” You’re sure to find a myriad of musical gems.

I say all this not to trash musicians who were previously inspired by a woman’s posterior, and of course, not to diminish your contribution to this classic collection. I am merely pointing out that, “All About that Bass,” does not contain revolutionary content. The booty has been sung about for years, and in significantly more derogatory ways.

Do I love the “skinny bitches” line in your song? No, not particularly.

Do I love the way any sized woman is acknowledged in most pop, rap, country, or rock music ever through out history? No, not particularly.

You know M (can I call you M?); I think the world needs to cop a balance. There is not one ideal body type for women. Bottom line, if you are a woman, and you have a body, that’s ideal. We should appreciate our bodies, take care of them, and value them for what they are: a container for much more important things.

You are a fun, young woman, who wrote a catchy song about enjoying your body, to which makes curvy girls everywhere wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, and that’s okay.

Your shoulders don’t need to carry the weight of all the women who have body issues.

Women People need to stop blaming music, television, movies, and video games for the world’s problems, and get working on their own problems.

No one person is to blame, not even you Meghan Trainor.

Yours truly,

Ashley

How To Forget Where You Live

Hi.

My name is Ashley,

And I’m a stalker.

*Insert many other voices greeting me in unison*

Don’t worry; there is not some poor schmuck somewhere whose unrequited love has driven me into hysteria. No, the object of my stalking is actually a house, to be more specific, the house I grew up in.

My family moved into our house when I was about three years old, and we didn’t move again until I was ten. Almost every fond childhood memory I have took place in or around that house. I learned how to swing on the swing set in the backyard. I fell in love with the boy across the street. I had Christmas’, birthdays, and Easter egg hunts in that house. I did homework, playtime, family dinners, and jumping on the bed in that house. I loved that house. I don’t think we would have ever moved out if it hadn’t have been for my parents divorce, but that is neither here nor there. We moved and since then I have moved over 15 times.

So yes, on lonely days, lost days, cold days, or if I just happen to be in the neighborhood, I stalk my old house.

I say stalk because I always feel supremely creepy when I’m doing it. I don’t peek in the windows or sneak around the side or anything, I just drive by… really slowly. Like, imagine slow, and then go slower, that is how slowly I drive by the house. I do not mean to make it look as creepy as I imagine it looking, I just get lost in thought and can’t help but linger.

I envision what my adolescence would have looked like in my house. I scoff at how poorly the new owners have kept up the lawn, and can almost hear my father’s voice saying, “All the time I put in, and look at what a mess they’ve made.” My eyes drift across the street, and I think about the little boy I loved for so many years. I think of my summers with him jumping through sprinklers, and eating watermelon popsicles. I see the shed in the backyard I was convinced had monsters in it for an embarrassingly long time. I smell my mom’s cooking and remember her as did when I was little. I even drive down the back alley to peak at where my tree house use to stand, and am still flabbergasted as to why anyone would want to tear down such a magnificent structure. I see my mom and dad sitting on the patio on a sunny morning, my mom with a book, and my dad with his smokes.

And for just a moment, I feel like I am home. Then I drive back to real life.

In Between Addresses

“What do you mean you don’t know your address?” says a judgmental sounding voice on the other side of the phone from a bridge toll company that shall remain nameless.

“Well, I just moved, so I don’t know my new address.”

“Well, what was your last address?”

“I don’t think I ever got around to giving you my last address, so I think what you’re actually looking for is the address before last.”

“Fine, give me that address.”

“Yeah, I can’t remember that one.”

“Well isn’t that the address on your drivers license?”

“No, no, my drivers license has the address from before that on it. Do you want that one?”

*Insert stunned, frustrated silence*

This conversation and others like it are the reasons why, “Can I have your address?” has become a remarkably challenging question for me. Every short-term address I hand out is just another piece of mail I’ll have to redirect later, and it’s strangely exhausting. It makes me feel like I’m floating in between where I am, and some mysterious place I will be 6 to 12 months from now. With every piece of mail that gets lost in between addresses, it just reminds me that I’m wandering, and suddenly I become terribly unsettled.

Hopeless Wanderer

“I will learn to love the skies I’m under.”- Mumford and Sons

Life has changed a lot for me over the past few years. I have lived on another continent, I have adjusted back, I have gotten engaged, I have gotten married, I have been fired, I have been hired, I have lost old friends, gained new friends and, of course, I have moved.

With all of the changes, my biggest struggle has been to refrain from stalking my past. It is so easy to look back on what could have been, how I would have hoped to be treated by people, how I would have liked to end or start something, or the homes I wish I hadn’t moved out of, but there’s no use in dwelling on my shoulda, coulda, wouldas’. I can do a drive-by every now and again, but at the end of the day, it is just a waste of time and gas.

Instead I just need to learn to love the skies I’m under. Thank God for the lovely things I’ve had, the ridiculous crap I’ve endured, and the feet He has allowed me to keep wandering with.

A Prayer for the Hopeless Wanderers

I pray not that you stop moving, but that the Lord gives you sturdy shoes to travel in.

I know that when it rains, it pours, so I pray for umbrellas, rubber boots, and an internal knowing of how to clean up after a flood.

I pray that the Lord accompanies you on all your journeys, so that no matter how far away you go (and even if you’ve forgotten the address that gets you there), you always feel at home.