She’d given birth to her first child–a daughter–the year before, and I wanted to take an intergenerational look at the conflict and difficulty that seems to exist in the mother-daughter dynamic. I’d been privy to her struggles in her relationship with her mother, the pain and angst it caused her, and hoped she’d be willing to have a conversation about how she grew up, and what she’d like to do differently with her daughter.
Perhaps the most verbose, rapidly-speaking person I know (a court reporter once asked her to slow down during a testimony), we joked that I was lucky to be getting our interview in after she’d been down with the flu and bronchitis for a week. She began to take me through her early childhood, leading me from the picture of an idyllic family toward the tense, guilt-ridden, sometimes self-esteem-crippling snapshot of today’s relationship with her mother. Continue reading →
I have a feeling that in this day and age we’ve all done it, taken a picture in public of someone without their knowledge or consent. Even before the cell phone camera age, I know I used to troll around Seattle with my mom’s manual Minolta, snapping shots of scenes and people I deemed interesting. Truly, some of the most fascinating photographs are candids. I’ll not deny that fact. I can remember in a high school photography class a kid raising her hand and asking our teacher if it was ethical to take candids of strangers, or whether we needed to confirm consent first. Our teacher paused, clearly having never posed the question to herself and decreed there to be no rules. Continue reading →
The word entitlement is thrown around a lot these days, and often it’s used as a pat definition for an entire generation, by a generation that struggles to understand an attitude and way of being that differs from theirs. Yes, I’m talking again about the Boomers fighting the Millenials. We are accused of acting entitled because what we want and how we act varies widely from their experience. But I’d rather hear what we have to say about it. I recently read an article about the comedians Key and Peele who explore contemporary entitlement, defined as “concern with one’s personal rights combined with non-interest in one’s duties.” It feels familiar. Aziz Ansari’s new special features him doing a bit about how we’ve become an exceptionally rude group of individuals, valuing our needs and wants and time over that of our community. Perhaps our brightest comedians (usually some of society’s sharpest critics, if not visionaries) are warning us that the social fabric is breaking down around us, and we’re the problem. Continue reading →
The American Girl Doll catalog arrived every season in all its over-sized, elegantly-laid-out, colorful glory, featuring three dolls, each of whom had a unique wardrobe, sets of accessories and a book series. The dolls represented a different point in American history, as reflected by her story, period clothing and accessories. I would spend hours poring over the catalog, marveling at each girl’s school lunch, bedroom set, play clothes and formal wear. The dolls themselves were displayed like Playboy centerfolds–spanning two pages, you had to turn the magazine ninety degrees to behold her full, upright glory, the artificial gleam in her eyes, her glossy hair and sweet smile, replete with two tiny front teeth poking out. I wanted one. I needed one. I suppose you could say the American Girl catalog was porn to my elementary school sensibilities. I spent hours alone in my room with it, engaging in endless fantasies about possessing the dolls. Continue reading →
My first question was where he first learned about sex and from whom. He wanted clarification—did I mean the concept or “the intricacies and what to actually do”? Oooh, good point. I wanted both, now that he mentioned it. We started at the beginning, when he learned about human reproductive systems and development in school, as a nine year old. I wondered if his parents had added any information, or initiated conversation on the topic. “Not that I can remember. I remember coming across my dad’s prescription of Viagra about four years ago. That’s the extent my family spoke about sex.” Was there any conversation at the Viagra find? “After I found my dad’s Viagra, I high-fived him. He said, ‘you don’t think this is weird or gross?’ I was like ‘no, lack of sex is a leading cause of divorce, I’m glad my parents still do it’. I was the sex-forward one in the family.”
A recently engaged, early thirties man, he had generously offered to be interviewed to continue Candid Uprising’s exploration of how what we learn about sex as children influences our sexuality. It was immediately clear that I was speaking with an open (or sex-forward, in his words) individual. Continue reading →
The “SexEdFail” series Candid Uprising featured in December and January (a progression of posts about my experience of working at Planned Parenthood) were the most-read content on the site yet, peaking with “Sex Ed Fail: The Interview“. I found myself wanting to trace sexual attitudes through the generations, to talk to a parent about their perception of responsibility for educating their child about sex, and how that may have been shaped by their parent. Out of the woodwork came a woman in her mid-forties, a mother of two, open to filling in the picture for me.
As a kid she moved a lot, never settling in one place long enough to make a close group of girlfriends. Later, she would point out that a lack of girlfriends made her vulnerable, often times sexually. She grew up in a family that was comfortable with nudity around the house, parents who were honest and forthcoming with her about sex and sexuality. Her earliest memories of learning about sex involve a conversation between her and her mom when she was eight. “I asked my mom about kissing, and she told me it was something that people did with each other when they loved each other.” Any question she had, her mom answered with medically accurate information. What seems to have made the strongest impression was her mom’s ability to talk to her on her level, in a developmentally appropriate way. It increased her comfort level so that asking her mom questions about sex felt natural as she grew up. In lieu of girlfriends (or “the playground” where so many of us learn backwards mis-information, legends, really about sex), she had her welcoming mom. Continue reading →
I’m an obsessive reader of all things relating to drug addiction, be they memoirs, ethnographic studies or public health reports. Addiction and its effects on individuals and communities fascinates me, and so when my dear friend Kyle posted the following facebook status about his hometown, I knew I had to find out more:
“Podunk please stop sucking out loud…There hasn’t been any growth in thirty+ years other than the amount of DUI’s and deaths from heroin, coke, etc. Statistics that no one is proud of. Stop looking at the police blotter as your high school yearbook. Change comes from within, or we’ll all be left without.” Continue reading →