Mansplaining, Explained

  1. 01. Mansplaining, Explained

    I hope you made it past my blog title, because it’s meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but as this topic is pretty freaking annoying, maybe you’re just not feeling it.

    Let me assure you of two things:

    1. I am female.

    2. I do not think you are an idiot.

    See, the thing about mansplaining is, it’s really hard to describe, but when it’s happening to you, you know it. You KNOW it.

    I was mansplained to by the same person over the last couple of days, and I decided it was important to explain to my daughters that sometimes boys – or men – will feel the need to “teach” you something even though you obviously already know the topic well. The thing about mansplaining is, the man would never even think to have the same teachable moment with another man, and there is a note of patronization in the “teaching” that is unmistakable.

    As my daughters are 8 and 9 1/2, I decided to do a role playing situation with them that they could understand. I had my 8 year old take the TV controller while my 9 1/2 year old watched. I told her to use the controller to turn on the TV, and I would be the mansplainer. She went to turn it on (something she is very capable of doing and knows how to do quite well) and I, as the mansplainer, stopped her. I took it out of her hands and said “Wait, wait, wait. Let me show you how to do that. You have to push this button RIGHT HERE, and you have to point it at the TV exactly like this, do you understand?” And she said yes, and took the controller from me, and started to point it at the screen and I said “No, you’re doing it wrong.” And she hit the button and the TV came on, and I said “Well, you got lucky that time, but you were doing it wrong.” And she pretended to punch me, and then pretended to kick me in the knee, and all three of us came away with a better understanding of the subject.

  2. 02. How I Knew I’d Picked the Right Career

    After I began to write seriously, signed with a literary agent, and published my first book, when I met people and they asked me what I did for a living, I found that I was nervous about telling them I was an author…because I was afraid they would think I was bragging.

    You see - to me - being an author is about the best thing you can possibly be, it’s like saying “I’m a movie star,” or “I’m an independently wealthy playboy billionaire, I don’t need to work.”

    So I didn’t want people to think that I was bragging, when talking about my career. Cause I do try to be humble, unless we’re talking about my beef stew, which is goddamn delicious and no amount of downplaying it will ever change that fact.

    But then I realized…you know what? Writing is not everyone’s dream job. In fact, to many people, writing and editing all day probably sounds like torture. Whether they are voracious readers or not, many people just have no desire to write, and *that is okay.* But me… I want to write. I love to write. I would write whether or not there was a job in it for me, whether or not I was ever published. It is a part of me, as it is a part of every other author I know, published or not published.

    So go ahead, ask me what I do for a living, and I will tell you: I’m an author. And I won’t feel bad for “bragging.” But if YOU think I’m bragging…then maybe you should be an author too.

  3. 03. Welcome to the World, Sweet Book!

    I’m thrilled to announce the publication of my debut novel, No Use for a Name! NoUseForAName

    Fifteen-year-old “Baby” Anderson never thought much about her nickname, until she goes for her driver’s permit and discovers her parents just flat-out forgot to name her. As if being in high school wasn’t enough of an identity crisis.

    As the fifth kid of her trashy, abusive mother and her barely-there father, home has never been a sanctuary. Cheerleading, the hot football player Derek Mottola, and her crazy cousin Kaia, are Baby’s escape from the reality of her messed-up life. She vows to keep her toxic family a secret, but as she tries on new identities and navigates the social ups and downs of her sophomore year, her two worlds collide.

    Turns out, it’s not that easy to keep your identity private, especially if you don’t have one.

    I love this book, and I’m so proud to be the one who wrote it. I sort of wanted to write a book that everyone could enjoy, but that would especially appeal to kids who maybe don’t have the kind of parental love and support that every kid should be able to expect. I wanted those kids to know that they are valuable, even if life might be hard at home.

    I hope that you enjoy my book!

  4. 04. Elf on the Shelf? I’m Sorry, Isn’t it May?

    On the way home, from the back of the car, my 8 year old Madeline asks me “Mom, why don’t we have an elf on the shelf?” And I say “Because it’s too much pressure on me and your dad.” Her: “Why?” Me: “Because neither one of us wants to have to move it around every night.” Madeline flips out. “What! The parents move it around? Why would you say that?” Me: “Um, because it’s true?” Meanwhile, she’s sobbing, and I’m all “We don’t even do elf on the shelf, why is this so upsetting for you?” And she sobs “Luke’s* elf on the shelf just sent him a birthday card! How is THAT possible?” And I’m like “Well, I guess Luke’s parents are taking this thing way too far.”

    I’m sorry, isn’t this MID-GODDAMN-MAY? Why am I having to deal with this? Come ON parents, I already feel like a jackass and a bad mom for the entire month of December because I don’t have a freaking elf named Herky or whatever trashing my bathroom or spilling the Cheerios all over the place every night, and they send birthday cards to Tauruses now? STOP IT.

    It didn’t take long before both girls (my 8 year old and my 7 year old) were lecturing me on childhood being “a time to believe and have an imagination,” and I’m just like “Bite me.” <– No, not really, but that’s what I would have said if they were adults, and not related to me.

    Then they started listing off all the adults they know who “still believe in Santa Claus” and I’m like “Um…..actually……”

    Because of COURSE this all degenerated into a conversation about Santa because HOW COULD IT NOT?!?!? And we’ve never told them Santa was real, we’ve always told them he’s a fun legend, but not real, or whatever, but within the last couple of years Madeline has decided *SHE BELIEVES* and she’s like FERVENT about it. Sorry, but…not gonna lie to you. Santa = Not Real

    And it’s MAY! Don’t I get some sort of a break from these insane freaking conversations? No, of course not, because Luke’s elf sends him birthday greetings and probably throws little solstice parties too just for the hell of it. He’ll probably send Luke an encouraging card about back to school during the last week of summer.

    Because these elves are really there to watch. And report on your behavior. And if they don’t like what they see, well DOT DOT DOT. What a great idea to legitimize stalking for our young men and women from an early age!

    I could probably write a whole doctoral dissertation on this subject.

    You know, The Patriot Act passed in 2001, and the Elf on the Shelf was published just a few short years later. Coincidence? I think not.

    Someday the children will be grateful that they can always count on me to tell them the truth, even when the truth isn’t fun. But until that day, they need to back off!!! Ruining their childhood. That’s not MY fault. Go talk to Luke’s mom about it. Or better yet, Luke’s therapist in 25 years.

    *Not his real name

  5. 05. A Special Kind of Stupid

    They say it takes a special kind of stupid to forget to eat.

    Well, I’m that special kind of stupid, and here I am, awake at midnight because I forgot to eat dinner at 6:30 and now I’m STARVING. But my youngest daughter is sick, and she’s a light sleeper anyway, so I can’t cook anything at this point or it would for sure wake her up. I’m a nervous cook, I only recently learned how to do it at all, and I’m extremely slow and make a terrible racket whenever I try to whip something up. (Truth be known, though, my food is EXCELLENT, because I can follow a recipe like a mofo. It just takes me forever.)

    So here I am, wrapping myself in the glow of being A Special Kind of Stupid, and eating a banana and some pepperoni slices.

    To make myself feel a little better, I pulled out my Mensa card and propped it up next to my laptop. I may be A Special Kind of Stupid, but I’m also a genius. Mensa, bitches.

    Goodnight.

  6. 06. Where is my community?

    I grew up in a little town in Washington called Port Orchard. It’s in Kitsap County, a little area on a peninsula, surrounded on all sides by the waters of the Puget Sound. We were only an hour away from Seattle either by ferry or by freeway, but we almost never went, because it felt like forever away. It was an okay place to grow up, but I wasn’t heartbroken to leave.

    Now I live just north of Seattle, but my children have decided they are country girls at heart. Their favorite place is a little store in Olalla, Washington, a “suburb” if you will, of Port Orchard. (You might know Port Orchard as Cedar Cove, a town created by the author Debbie Macomber, who also lives there. I went to school with one of her sons, Ted, since junior high.) Anyway, Olalla is The Country, and there is a little store called Al’s there. It’s got 2 gas pumps, a mini mart, and a building that they use as storage, but which used to be a post office. They sell beer and cider on tap, and they have a little beer garden on the side where my kids like to eat candy before running down to the beach to discover snails, crabs, barnacles, the occasional oyster, and anything else that the Puget Sound might happen to offer up that day.

    I like to sit and play with them, sipping on my cider, and watching their unbridled enthusiasm. There are a bunch of locals who hang out there, and I love talking to them. They’re nice, and they’re all part of this tight knit little community, and I love that feeling. But I realized yesterday, on our umpteenth visit to the store, it’s not *my* community. I want a little place where I fit in, and where I can go to my local hangout and be welcomed (my own little Cheers, or whatever) but not when it’s 70 miles away from my house.

    Every day, the kids ask if we can go there. About once a week, I say yes. I really want to find a little jewel like this close to my house, where we can feel that level of happiness and community without having to drive for an hour and a half first.

    When I think rationally about living in Olalla, I know it’s not the right choice for me and my family. I have two girls, aged 6 and 8, and these days, most of the teenage girls in Olalla are pregnant. If you don’t have two kids by the time you’re twenty, you’re an anomaly, and people look at you kind of funny. I want my children to go to college. If they want to have kids, they can, that’s great, but not because that’s “just what everyone else does.”

    I love the family feel, and seeing people that I recognize every time I go there, and how kind everyone is to me and my children, but I’m growing uncomfortable with the fact that I *don’t* live there, yet I’m trying to function as a member of this small tight knit community once a week. It chafes at me. It’s not my circus, and they’re not my monkeys.

    Some people seem to have no problem finding their perfect fit. Me, not so much. I want it so badly, but it’s like trying to wiggle into a rubber dress that’s two sizes too small for me. Maybe someday I will find my little utopia. Until then, I’ll just keep keepin on, I guess.

  7. 07. Exciting News!

    I am so excited to announce that my debut novel No Use for a Name (working title, might change) is being published by YoungRep with a publication date of Spring 2015. Thank you so much to my fantastic agent Liz Kracht! I am thrilled to be working with the entire team at YoungRep! What an exciting ride!!

    And of course, if you buy a print edition and would like it signed, I am here for you! If you get a digital version and you want me to sign your Kindle or Nook, I don’t think that will go as well, but I’m sure we can work something out.

  8. 08. A Stranger Saved My Life Last Night

    So I like to go out, I like live music, I enjoy a good party. Friday night, I went to El Corazon to see The Meatmen. My good friends, Neutralboy, were the second act, and I got there just in time to catch most of their set.

    I paid my eighteen bucks at the door, I went in, watched Neutralboy tear it up, chatted with a friend or two, and had a vanilla vodka and diet coke. After Neutralboy left the stage, we all met up in the side bar, where we talked and laughed. Our group was me, Mike, Dirty, J, and A. Other people circled in and out, but the five of us were the core.

    A band called the Load Levellers started up, and they sounded really good, so I went in to watch them play. When they were done, I returned to the side bar where I hooked up with my core people again. It was about 11:30. A, J, and I decided to do a shot of vodka with a cranberry back.

    We walked up to the bar and ordered the shots. The bartender poured them and handed them directly to us. We all three clinked glasses and did the shot, then the cranberry.

    Five and a half hours later, I woke up in my Tesla, covered in my own blood.

    It was 4:30 in the morning, and the club was deserted. I was the only car parked in the alley. I started the car and pulled around the corner. I saw the Neutralboy van parked in front of the club. It, too, was the only car on the street. I didn’t stop, I figured they were sleeping, and I just wanted to get home and try to figure out what the fuck had happened to me.

    I drove the 9 or so miles to my house. I went inside and took stock of my injuries. Split open forehead, a gouge between my eyes, a cut on my left eyelid. It looked like I’d been punched. Road rash on my right forearm. Badly scraped right knee. Long scratch on my left arm. Bruises on my shoulders. Sore and achy everywhere.

    I got into bed with my husband and fell asleep immediately. We both woke up about 4 hours later. Before he saw me, I said “Honey, something happened to me last night, I hurt myself.” He asked me for details, but I couldn’t give him any, because I had no memory of anything at all after taking that shot. Literally, I remember laughing and smiling and clinking glasses with J and A, drinking the drink, and then NOTHING.

    While my husband showered, I looked at my phone. I’d sent three texts to J after 11:30. One was almost complete gibberish, but if I’m interpreting it correctly, I had exited the club and they wouldn’t let me back in. I was asking for his help. A couple minutes later, I texted him again “Come gets me.” Ten minutes after that I texted again “Please home Gwyneth me.” (Thanks a lot, autocorrect.) No responses from J.

    I felt around in the pocket of my shorts. There was my credit card, my ID, and a receipt for eighty bucks to the El Corazon. EIGHTY BUCKS? For my first drink and the three shots for myself and my two friends? The receipt was time-stamped at eleven minutes after midnight.

    I texted J. “I know you’re not my keeper, but can you please tell me anything I did after 11:30 last night?” No response.

    Later in the day, I messaged A. I heard back from her immediately. She had had a rough night. She had missed The Meatmen too (we were both bummed about that). How had we gotten so drunk off of my one drink and one shot, and her two drinks and one shot? This wasn’t our first trip to the rodeo. I mean jeez, A is Mike’s girlfriend (the singer/guitarist for Neutralboy). That dude is a professional alcoholic. She can keep up. She missed the Meatmen because somewhere around midnight Dirty (Neutralboy’s drummer, and a member of our core group of friends) found her passed out in the bathroom and carried her to the van, where she slept until she woke up at 4 AM.

    We chatted back and forth a bit about how on earth did this happen, when it hit me. “Dude, we got roofied.”

    I texted J again, asking him to please respond to me, because A and I had just figured out we’d been roofied and I really needed to know anything he knew about what had happened to me after 11:30. He texted back immediately. “I can’t, I got roofied too.”

    We were drugged BY THE BAR. Not some creepy dude tapping a little vial of powder into an unsuspecting woman’s unattended beverage. No. The drug was in either the vodka or the cranberry juice when they gave it to us. The drinks were poured, handed directly over, and immediately consumed. You don’t sip on a shot.

    But now my unanswered “cry for help” texts made more sense. He couldn’t have helped me. He was drugged too. Out of our five friends, three of us were incapacitated. We knew Dirty had rescued A. J puts the “age” in “rage.” He’s fine drunk, drugged, or sober, he always lands on his feet, and with Mike as his best friend, no one’s going to let anything happen to him. So who helped me? How did I get out of the night un-raped? Because thankfully, I was not sexually assaulted in any way. I was on my period, it would have been blatantly obvious if anything had gone on down there, and nothing had.

    I talked with A some more. We were both furious. Even though we were not assaulted sexually, we both felt violated. I asked her if she had any idea how I’d gotten to my car. She asked her boyfriend. He said “One of J’s friends walked her to her car and made sure she got in safe. A black dude. He’s a good guy.”

    I texted J. Yes, J confirmed. That would have had to have been Tim. Tim was there, and was J’s only black friend there that night.

    Tim, who I do not know, and had never met, took what he thought was a very drunk girl under his wing and walked her to her car, making sure she got in and the doors locked. He didn’t know I was drugged. No one did. I didn’t know it myself until piecing together the story with the help of my friends. I must have been a mess. I don’t know when I fell, but it probably wasn’t when Tim walked me to my car. It was probably before. I was almost undoubtedly covered in blood when this nice man, a friend of a friend, did the right thing and walked a complete stranger to her car. He quite possibly saved my life. If not for him, would I have woken up behind a dumpster? Or under an overpass? Or would I have woken up at all?

    Thank you Tim. Thank you for looking out for me. You didn’t have to do that, but you did. Thank you.Thank you. Thank you.

    And El Corazon? Fuck you, you are dead to me. I will never drink at your shitty fucking bar again, and if there was any way I could destroy you, I would.

  9. 09. So People Read This? Wheird.

    So I know that a lot of people read my facebook postings, but I had no idea people read my blog. Just found that out yesterday. I should probably figure out some way to track stats. Yes. I’ll do that in all my spare time.

    So anyway, I guess I should post what I’ve been up to here.

    I’ve been sick, dude. Really, really sick. I had a REALLY sore throat for almost 2 weeks, then it went away for 3 days (last weekend). Came back with a VENGEANCE Monday night, also brought with it sweats, chills, headache, itchy eyes, runny nose, cough, swollen glands, the works. It seriously feels like I swallowed a burning stick & it’s stuck in my esophagus. I was talking to one of my mom friends yesterday morning before the field trip about how bad I felt, and I did one of those “pretending to cry” things but I felt so crappy that I ACTUALLY started to cry for real.

    Just now, my cat threw up right in front of me. That’s exactly what I needed.

  10. 10. The Count of Monte Cristo is rad so far

    Okay, I was looking for another dry old musty classic to read that would motivate my writing with the whole “Oh my god, if they could write that many words about nothing, then I can come up with 60,000 in my actually exciting book.”

    So I started The Count of Monte Cristo and dude…yes, it was written in the 1800s but it’s really, really good! I’m totes hooked.

    Sorry for the totes. I know I’m not supposed to say that if I’m over 22 years old, which I *am* but I’m just in one of those devil may care, throw caution to the wind sort of moods.

    And in that vein, I am now the proud owner of a third booster seat. So now I have a spare booster AND a spare carseat installed in my van, so really, nothing can stop me.

    Have a lovely day, readers, and if you’re in the market for an actual GOOD classic, go get yourself a copy of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, and you can thank me later.

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