Tag Archives: Conversation

The Interview Series: Full Heart, Empty Mind

IMG_20150220_170714My first impression of her was of a young, energetic, highly intelligent young woman exuding ambition, replete with a tailored tweed suit. I was told she hailed from a political family in the Midwest, and as a third year law student, was more serious about the cases as an intern than almost any of the attorneys in the office. In the intervening five years since we met she had finished law school, become a licensed attorney and state assistant attorney general, gotten married, had her first child and moved across the country. I was intrigued by her experience as a stay-at-home mom after such a hard-charging set of career years. I knew she had left behind a sterling reputation as an outstanding lawyer and respected colleague, and speculation about her political ambitions was often discussed. We talked one night after she’d put her eight month-old son down, and she gave me a look into her dramatically different new life as a mom, making observations and assertions about her experience that seemed to fly in the face of current conventional parenting wisdom.

The mommy world is like an alternate universe, where other moms seem only to talk about kids, she began. Adult interaction has been limited since her son was born, and joining support and educational groups for new mothers has helped her feel more comfortable in her new role. Even so, she senses she’s forgotten how to interact with adults and listening to other women talk about kids eighteen hours a day isn’t helping. “I wish for these grand, complex discussions with adults and I’m on the floor knocking over blocks instead.” Continue reading

The Interview Series: I Have Nothing

IMG_20150220_170714He had written a guest post for us over the summer, and I knew when I conceived of the interview series idea, I was going to want to delve more deeply into how he had come to marry a woman who refused sex and subjected him to terrible emotional blackmail. From what I understood, she had used threats of self-harm, all the way up to suicide to control the relationship and his response to her from the beginning. How does a relationship even get out of the starting gate with that kind of dysfunction present from day one? How does it become a marriage? So what, they had gone right from sexual activity in his truck after a dance one night in high school, to her making threats to injure herself, right into a relationship? Continue reading

The Interview Series: Reflections Of A Woman At 40

IMG_20150220_170714“Being forty, I wish I was living a life people envied. I’m not there and truly wish I was,” she began, as we settled into her living room couch to talk about her life in the first year of a new decade. She seemed to be alluding to her circumstances, the freedom that comes with being unmarried and childless. She cited Jennifer Lopez, a woman in her forties who is in fabulous shape, arguably looking better than ever, single and holding on to fame. “When I hit forty, I gained weight. It was like my womanly curves hit at forty.” She described a whole new crop of stress and change she’s begun to experience ever since her birthday–finding work and relationships draining, she naps (and she’s always hated naps); she’s at her highest weight with no motivation to make changes; she experienced her first bout of seasonal depression this winter; everything seems more expensive, creating barriers to the life she wants. And what life might that be? Continue reading

The Interview Series: The Best Flowers Bloom Late

IMG_20150220_170714My 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 Interview Series: Open Doors

IMG_20150220_170714The “Sex Ed Failseries 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

The Interview Series: What’s Left Behind

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

Introducing…The Interview Series

IMG_20150220_170714It all started with a couple of posts about my experiences of interning as a counselor at Planned Parenthood, and the utter failures of sexual education from parents (and truly, society at large) that had brought women though our doors. A reader confided in me that she had been raised without access to medically accurate information about sex, reproduction, and the human body, and offered that perhaps I’d like to interview her for Candid Uprising’s readership. The resulting conversation, encapsulated in Sex Ed Fail: The Interview was the most read, most viewed post at the time of its publication. The comments thread on social media thanked the subject for openly discussing her experience of being “old enough to know better”, yet under-educated, shining light on an important issue.

Next, I shared a deeply personal account of the last time I was drunk, in celebration of six years without alcohol. I hesitated to publish it wondering if revealing such a sordid, angst-ridden, raw account of myself would be too much, or turn our readership off. I clicked “publish” on the day of my six year anniversary and watched as within hours the post blew up, garnering the most readers, views and shares of anything previously published on Candid Uprising. Comments and personal messages poured in, thanking me for telling my story.

We understood the response to mean you were asking for more stories about real people facing the myriad challenges life throws at us, in a judgement-free, exploratory context. I reached out to our community via social media, asking people to volunteer to be interviewed, their stories to be written up and shared on Candid Uprising. We chose a topic for each person and asked them to elaborate on a facet of their respective lives, free-form. The result was an extraordinary outpouring of human experience, an unexpected level of candor, and in some cases, a new level of understanding reached simply in the telling.

Beginning Tuesday, March 3rd, we are honored to present you with The Interview Series; stories about parenting, entering a new decade of life, divorce, depression, and rape, to name a few. We will post two interviews a week, on Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout March, with special guest posts on Fridays that provide first-person accounts on a variety of topics. Please join us for this exploration of stories about people in the Candid Uprising community, and chime in.

Overheard In A Consignment Boutique

ovhrdconsignIt was a wet, dreary Friday afternoon, and I wandered into the boutique after stopping for a post-work cup of froyo with some colleagues. I grabbed a few dresses off the racks to try on, just killing time, really. I was the only customer in the store, and as I disrobed, I heard one of the shopgirls say to the owner, “Did I tell you he got fired from the school finally? But it wasn’t for what he did to me. It was because he wasn’t doing his job.” Suddenly, I was no longer killing time, I was listening closely to my next voyeurism piece taking shape. I listened quietly behind the dressing curtain, grateful for its thin, sound-permeable quality as the young woman continued, “…and he totally texted me today, after all that, still trying to get with me.” Continue reading

Overheard On Top Of Camelback Mountain

cfiles27764I went hiking for the first time since I was twelve years old with two friends a couple weekends ago. My dad, the avid outdoorsman used to coerce me into hiking and camping (by offering carefully meted out sweets, which were usually forbidden in our house) from the time I was a young child, which I resented as I transitioned into a makeup loving, phone-glued-to-my-ear preteen. I’m an indoor girl, and that’s just how it is. My dad eventually let it go, and I promised myself I’d never hike again as an adult.

And there I was, humping it up Camelback because a dear friend had asked me to for her birthday–ten months earlier. With each heave and grab and stretch forward up the mountain, I thought about how worth it the strain would be–a 360 view of the Valley. Yet when I reached the top, something even better was presented in the form of three twenty-something women having a conversation about creepersContinue reading

Sex Ed Fail IV: Father

sex ed iv(Continued from Tuesday)

When our teen patient showed up for her counseling appointment the day after we cancelled her abortion procedure (after a battle of wills between her mother and I over her attempt to force her daughter into the appointment to terminate her pregnancy), I wondered why she had returned. I had left our previous session feeling like a total amateur (which I was) and bully. Nevertheless, she was coming back in, and I resolved to listen and respond to her needs, rather than my own this time.

“I don’t know what to do next,” she told me upon her arrival. “I mean, I know I’m going to have a baby, but, like, what do I do?” We both knew she meant that she hadn’t secured the support of her mother around her decision to become a teen parent, and that she needed resources. Naturally, the first resource that came to mind was having a medically accurate, clinical discussion of sex and birth control methods. Unlike some of our teen patients, she had a correct understanding of sex–the definition and mechanics. Like most of our patients, regardless of age, she didn’t understand how she became pregnant using the withdrawal method, after receiving basic sex education at school, but never discussing the subject in detail with her parents. I began my explanation of pre-ejaculate, survey of available birth control methods and assessment of which would work best for her in the future, given her lifestyle and needs (as she described them). She had been having sex with her boyfriend, another young teen, for a period of several months and this was her first time being pregnant. She needed adult support and guidance desperately, and I racked my brain to figure out how to help her on that front, given her mother’s disregard and stubbornness. “Do you have a relationship with your father?” I asked, clutching at straws. Continue reading