I used to think marriage was forever. I know people get divorced. The rate’s at like 50 percent now, but same as most people who take the plunge, I thought I’d be married longer than 28 months. Just sayin’.
You might think it’s a given to get any dealbreakers ironed out before that all-important wedding day, but rom-coms had me believing that marriage is something to be worked at. And it is. I assumed getting married meant you chose a person and committed to building a life with them. That nothing’s perfect, and any problems you had as a couple could be worked on during your life together. And for some people I’m sure that’s the case. But maybe, just maybe, not every problem can be fixed.
I didn’t bank on these "unsolvable" problems. Not being a quitter, I figured there were fixers for anything, Olivia Pope-style. But after therapy and counseling and self-help books and copious amounts of gin, I know now that sex is sometimes a problem that can’t be solved.
My marriage was sexless. Which is not to say we never had sex. According to the Internet (that super-trustworthy Bible), a marriage is considered to be sexless if the couple has sex 10 times or fewer per year.
Before we got married, we had sex a bunch. Maybe not as frequently as I’d have liked, but our relationship was good in so many other ways, I didn’t think sex was a dealbreaker. When we did have sex, it was mostly good, and surely once you’re married to someone, you’ve got more time to prioritize, right? Wrong.
The best description I’ve heard of marriage is this: It’s like turning the volume up on your relationship. All the good things become extra great, magical, amazing. And all the bad things get just as loud, are magnified because you’re trapped.
This is because there’s no running away when you’re married, no easy escape or break-taking. Marriage is for the long haul. For good or bad or in-between.
I knew I was in trouble when I heard this description of marriage, agreed with it, and said, Yeah, and sometimes all you can hear are the bad things. They start to eclipse all the good things.
It made me miserable that I felt this way about my marriage, but after almost two years, there were so many glaringly obvious issues, I didn’t know where to start. The fact that we were in a sexless marriage was one of the issues, or a symptom of underlying issues, or simply an incompatibility we hadn’t wanted to see before.
My husband didn’t see this as a problem. He hated the term "sexless marriage" and said I should stop Googling. He said he was committed to working on our sex life, but after therapy and heated discussions, he told me I was pressuring him into sex and he didn’t know if he wanted to have it at all anymore.
And I didn’t even disagree: It’s not fun propositioning someone for sex and being turned down almost every time. It’s also not fun investing your energy in something your other half clearly has no intention of working on.
As a pretty laid-back person, it was horrific being accused of putting pressure on someone. In my opinion, I’d only been asking and trying to encourage him, so when he told me he felt like I was forcing him, sex died for me altogether. I couldn’t win, and I no longer wanted to have it. Having it or not having it: I felt like shit about myself either way.
Looking back, I think our sex drives were just very different, and there was seemingly no middle ground. He didn’t want to commit to having sex once a week (which by a lot of people’s standards isn’t even that much), and I didn’t want to live out a sexless life. I was 30. I felt closed for business. And that was super depressing.
Obviously, it’s incredibly important to respect a person’s wishes when it comes to sex. If someone doesn’t have a sex drive, and decides they don’t want to have sex at all, that is totally fine. Asexuality is coming to the fore and hopefully soon it’ll be more recognized as a sexual preference. If you don’t want to have sex, you don’t have to, ever. The problem is, when you’re married to a person who does want to have sex, and preferably lots of it, this difference of opinion can be heartbreaking. I’m sure some couples make this situation work, and sex was not our only problem. But it was the tipping point.
I was having some major health issues when my sex life blew up. And the person who ended up being there for me was an ex. I don’t feel great about this fact, but he was there when no one else was. He never judged me and always supported me.
I didn’t spill all the gory details of my sex life to him — that would’ve been un-classy and inappropriate — but it was amazing to have the support of another person, someone who made me laugh and reminded me that life would be OK again, eventually.
I never meant to sleep with my ex, but when someone knows everything about you, and still likes you, and can stand every bit of the mess that you are, that’s kind of sexy. And the sex with my ex was, and is, incredible.
Was I still married at the time? Yes, but it’s complicated. At one point, my husband told me to sleep with other men because he didn’t want to have sex with me, only to take the statement back a month later. There’s no simple timeline for when we went from "having problems" to "irreconcilable differences."
I'm not saying any of this makes it OK. But after months and months of misery, of feeling responsible for problems I couldn’t fix, and for feeling like the blame mostly sat with me (If I’d waxed more, would that have made a difference? Were my pajamas really so unattractive that no man would want to sleep with me?), I had sex with someone else.
My body couldn’t resist, and I felt like I was finally doing something for me. And it’s hard to regret it when it felt so good.
Now, I’d never judge a person having an affair or experiencing marital troubles.
Being with someone who doesn't want to have sex with you destroys your self-esteem and makes you feel like everything is your fault. If you could just be a better person, a less annoying person, an aesthetically more pleasing person, maybe you’d be having sex.
Those friends who shamed me into staying and told me I was a bad person for doing what I did, didn’t know the half of it. The people I still call friends now understood how miserable I was, how hard I tried, and how heartbroken I was to finally give up.
Marriage isn’t what I thought it was. What you most need in a partner is someone willing to discuss any issues you might have and try to work them out without assigning blame.
The ex who supported me is no longer my ex but my current boyfriend. And he loves sex. I know there’s more to life than sex, but for me right now, it's still awfully important.
I married my high school sweetheart. In the 12 years that followed, I felt comfortable in marriage. We’re great friends, make each other laugh, and have enjoyed a decade’s worth of inside jokes and idiosyncrasies. Our sex life is satisfactory: once a week and in basic positions. But the passion is gone, and a couple of years ago my physical attraction to my wife waned due to her weight gain. My libido has increased with age, and with this I grew more dissatisfied and resentful of the prospect of a sexually unfulfilled life.
As time passed, I reflected on my limited experiences in light of the realisation that I may spend the rest of my life fundamentally unsatisfied. I realised that the love I have for my wife is and has always been far more platonic than romantic. I had married out of convenience and safety with little regard for anything deeper, other than the avoidance of any kind of insecurity, pain, or challenge. We really have had a comfortable life, but I reached a point where I was ready to act on my long-repressed desires and impulses, to broaden my horizons, even if it meant risking that life in search of what it meant to actually live.
I knew of Ashley Madison and in an impulsive decision one evening decided to open an account. It was the first time I’d ever used a dating website, so my experience was limited, but it was easy enough to get started. I uploaded a photo of my upper body and used the black bar feature to remove my eyes. I then spent a considerable amount of time writing my profile in the hopes of attracting the kind of woman I had always fantasised about: older, professional, intelligent, witty, attractive.
Within a week I had established contact with a woman in a nearby city. We exchanged messages on the website then things moved naturally to email. When she sent me her picture and I saw how good-looking she was, the reality of what I was doing hit me for the first time. Was I really the kind of man to do this? Look how beautiful she is, you can’t pass this up. Can it hurt to meet her and see? On your deathbed, will you regret never having taken this chance?
We agreed to meet in a public setting after it was obvious in writing that we would be compatible enough to take our relationship to the next level. We were seeking the same thing: no-strings-attached sex. Our first meeting happened in a car pool lot. As we sat in her car and talked in person, all my anxieties faded. We talked candidly for almost an hour. She was 11 years older than me, professional, intelligent, and attractive. We agreed to meet again later that week at my house as my wife was going out of town for the weekend.
That night, we talked at length and got to know each other on a personal level. I knew I would never be able to have purely anonymous sex devoid of any intellectual attachment, and once I knew we had that, the sex followed naturally. And it was absolutely incredible.
In the weeks afterwards I learned that in addition to every other attribute she had that I was so attracted to, she was also witty, caring, insightful, kind, thoughtful – my wordcount is limited so I can’t go on. We continued to meet, spending as much time talking as we did having sex, sometimes more. During our fourth or fifth meeting, it became clear that we weren’t just having sex.
Some months later we finally admitted to each other that we had fallen in love, even though neither of us was looking for it. We were only seeking to satisfy our sexual needs, but we understood that our chemistry and desire to be together is too powerful and undeniable.
In the midst of our struggle to determine how our futures would unfold together, the Ashley Madison hack happened. My affair partner did not have to enter any credit card information, so she is not worried about herself. She is worried about me; I did use a personal credit card, and if the information is released, I may be in danger.
But I am not worried. The situation is out of my control. If the hackers release my information, I will take responsibility for my actions and the decisions I have been making. I will embrace the consequences. I found what I didn’t even know I was seeking: a partner who makes me feel alive and passionate. I found love, and I couldn’t be happier in that respect. I could never go back to my old life and self, and I have no regrets.
I’m not really sure what went through my mind when two chiseled male models came up to me at the mall and told me I had a “great look” for Abercrombie and Fitch.
“Yeah, your look is great.”
Fast-forward three months later and I’m in a sequined cardigan and frilly white miniskirt, folding flannel shirts to the beat of the latest house music playlist.
Abercrombie models in their natural, shirtless habitat.
As a broke college student with a pathetic $100 meal plan for the entire semester, I accepted a part-time job at Abercrombie in an effort to socialize outside of college and earn some pocket money. I wasn’t quite sure what I was getting myself into, apart from a heavily fragranced club-like clothing store laden with attractive sales associates.
The Abercrombie flagship store on 5th Avenue.
I reluctantly accepted the recruiter’s offer to go in for an interview, and scrambled to prepare a resume filled with high school activities and clubs. I was completely over-prepared. With three other hopefuls hoping to be hired for a “model” position (Abercrombie’s euphemism for sales associates who do nothing but fold clothes) I arrived for a group interview that lasted barely 10 minutes. It was comprised of four questions about “diversity” in what I assumed was an effort to accommodate for the racial lawsuits the company has received in the past.
A few days later, I was hired and began training. The training lasted five hours, during which our headshots were taken and we were forced to practice corny taglines to greet customers, such as “Hey, how’s it going?” and “Welcome to Abercrombie.”
We were encouraged to believe that our headshots (which were sent to Abercrombie headquarters) might land us modeling opportunities in the Abercrombie catalogs and campaigns. Realistically, no —the in-store “models” are not the same models gracing the ads. Those people are legitimate models hired from agencies.
I didn’t have much of a negative outlook on Abercrombie when I first started working there. It was my first job, it was retail and it paid $9 an hour. But it was nevertheless a fun, relaxed environment, where I could mingle with employees who were a mix of college students like myself, and attractive signed models. It wasn’t until I caught sight of how toxic and superficial the environment was that I began to have ethical issues with working there.
In recent years, Abercrombie’s reputation has partly diminished due to a generation of teenagers who realized overpriced logo-ridden sweatshirts are not that cool, but also partly because of the racial lawsuits made against the company, and discriminatory comments made by former CEO Mike Jeffries.
Because my store was the “flagship” store, the CEO frequently visited us. When he did visit, managers went out of their way to ensure that the models on the floor were the cream of the crop—the thinnest, tallest and whitest models. On one particularly horrifying instance, most of the black models were sent home an hour early before their shifts ended and before Jeffries was scheduled to visit. One of the models complained to the confidential company hotline of racism on the manager’s part, and the security team conducted an investigation.
The manager denied any racial bias and the investigation led nowhere, because there wasn’t enough “substantial evidence” to prove that her actions were racially motivated.
In another incident, a model was told to leave early before Jeffries came to visit. When she asked why, the manager told the model that she could stay only if she wore the cashier uniform. I felt sick to my stomach when this model, who was also my friend, confided in me that she thought the manager told her this because she wasn’t attractive enough.
These are just some of countless incidents that occurred when Mike Jeffries was scheduled to visit. The impactors (stockroom workers) were not allowed on the floor during his visits. Signed model associates were called in to work specifically on those days, while models who “slipped through the cracks” (the way my manager described models who were not attractive) were sent home.
There was only one black greeter in the entire store, and he was also the first black greeter chosen in five years. Five years! When the other black model who was up for that position asked the managers why he wasn’t chosen, he was told his look wasn’t “exotic” enough.
As these events unfolded, I grew wary about continuing to work for the company. In addition to the countless discriminatory incidents, we were also subject to sexual advances by customers on a regular basis. The model uniform every model has to wear ranges from cheeky low-rise shorts that barely cover our asses to miniskirts that make it impossible to bend over without sweaty tourists ogling our behinds.
I was once followed by a group of men across the store, while the men made profane comments under their breaths about my “nice ass.” Another time a customer came up to me and in what little English he knew, praised the store for not hiring “fat and ugly women.” I smiled and continued to fold in shock and bewilderment at the crude comment.
I grew to hate coming in to work. What was once a fun, easygoing part-time job now made my stomach churn as I reluctantly squeezed into my uniform of short shorts and low-cut tops. I dreaded having to explain to confused customers that while men’s shirts went up to an XXL and a size 36 in jeans, we only carried up to a size 10 in women’s jeans and a large in women’s tops.
I gradually stopped coming in for work and closed my availability. I am still in the system, and while I’m on the lookout for another retail job, I do come in for one or two shifts a month.
While I met many of my close friends at Abercrombie and I am grateful for that, my experience taught me that regardless of what the company portrays, nothing has really changed, and it is still the vapid, superficial brand it was 10 years ago when the racial lawsuits surfaced.
When I was 22 years old, I left my boyfriend of four years. We had grown up together in rural America—went to the same parties, had the same friends, etc. The breakup was a difficult one. My friends fractured and took sides, which I should have seen coming but did not.
I wound up falling in love too soon and too hard with the man I would soon marry. Our feelings for each other were genuine, but we both had significant baggage and damage that we brought to the relationship and we lacked the maturity to deal with that in constructive ways.
We got engaged quickly and planned a wedding in a few months. In the span of a year, I had gone from living with a man-child I assumed I loved but never wanted to marry, to marrying a man who was so very different in so many ways.
I was taken aback by how much I suddenly wanted to be married. The question of children was up in the air, but I figured that there would be plenty of time for that later. Then I got pregnant.
I’m the oldest child and only girl in a very religious family from a very religious, conservative, and overwhelmingly white area in flyover country. The only thing I heard more frequently than classic rock or country music on the radio were conservative talk shows.
Like most working-class, small-town families, we didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a lot of Protestant-based religion and work-ethic-based pride. Jesus-infused charity was acceptable, government and welfare were not. Racist jokes were hilarious and liberals were too sensitive. People who don’t make enough money should work harder. Real America. You get the picture.
My wedding was eight weeks away when I realized I hadn’t gotten my period in more than six weeks. I was young, working a low-wage job, with no health insurance. Birth control was available through a local clinic but getting there with my work schedule was difficult, never mind the quaking shame I felt “asking for a handout.” We used condoms diligently, but apparently Husband could get me pregnant from across the street.
The pregnancy test had two dark lines on it the minute my pee hit it. And in a reaction that surprised me to my very “abortion is murder” core, the first thought that went through my brain (without panic or fear, but very matter-of-fact and practical) was, “Girl, you cannot have a baby. Get an abortion.”
I was a smart, awkward kid who was good at school and bad at sports. I shared my crayons with everybody, even the kid with the snotty nose and weird sweatpants that the other kids avoided. I didn’t have a clue about anything that was supposed to be cool or fun, and I didn’t realize everything I liked was not cool and not fun until it was too late and all my peers knew that I was a total drag.
I don’t think I need to explain further why the uptight “we do the right thing always no matter what” rhetoric of right-wing conservatism appealed to me, even from a young age. As luck would have it, there were plenty of adults who were willing to rant to a kid (or at least in the presence of a kid) against big government and homosexuals and abortion and everything else wicked and wrong in this world.
As I grew up, I occasionally stumbled on social conservative rhetoric, and so like any know-it-all teenager, I made whatever logical leaps I needed to in order to make my belief system work for me. After a decade or so of hanging on every word Rush Limbaugh said, I could rationalize and re-contextualize with the best of them. My “buck the system/damn the man” attitude toward “big government” extended to disliking and disregarding what I considered to be arbitrary social constructs.
I was bored and appalled by the notion of sex, but I was also a teenager. And somewhere in there, I was tripped up in a twisted sense of personal responsibility.
That, combined with the dopey, painfully naÃ¯ve belief that “everything happens for a reason,” led me to the adolescent-brain-rationalized reinforcement of what I’d always been taught about abortion: Not only was it murder, it was lazy and irresponsible, and in working-class redneck America there are no two greater sins.
Eventually, logical acrobatics became more difficult. This led to a fairly profound realignment in my ways of thinking. I wound up struggling in areas of my life I didn’t expect. People surprised me in both good and bad ways. 9/11 happened. Then the war in Iraq. Then everything else the Republican party did after 2001.
In 2003, after a friend from high school was killed in Iraq, I decided I had nothing in common with the Republican party as it stood. The absolutist logic that made a world of sense to me when I was 12 years old now seemed impossible in a world filled with uncontrollable circumstances.
Still, the “everybody deserves a chance at life” mantra I had grown up with wouldn’t let go. It was too tightly entwined with my sexual identity, as well as my identity as a woman. I had changed my mind about gay rights, war and many gender equality issues, but I held firmly to the belief that all pregnancies must be carried to term all the time because that is the right thing to do. I convinced myself that as long as I always used protection when I had sex, I would never have to confront an unintended pregnancy.
Until I found myself sitting on my toilet holding a pee-splattered piece of plastic.
I crawled back into bed after I left the bathroom.
“Well?” Husband asked.
“Let’s go back to sleep,” he suggested.
We woke up a few hours later. I felt like my head should have been swimming with what I wanted to do. I should have faced some sort of moral conflict. I was with a man I loved and planned to spend the rest of my life with. Things were hard for us now, but we were just starting out. Every working-class family is broke when they first start out. We’d make it work somehow. This was fate handing me a purpose in life. So why was the only thought that formed when I thought of my future was a calm, but extremely firm “no”?
I was prepared for Husband to start talking about the same dutiful future I figured I should be imagining. But he didn’t.
“What do you want to do?” he asked.
I was completely unprepared for that question. What did I want to do? Did I have an option? If we didn’t have the baby, people would find out, and everyone would hate me. I said as much.
“That’s ridiculous. It’s nobody’s business. And if you want to have the baby, we will. But if you don’t want to, we don’t have to.”
We spent the next few days calling off work and eating takeout that was neither healthy nor affordable. We tried to talk about our situation, but conversations quickly devolved into few options. Have an abortion. Have a baby. Give the baby up for adoption.
I kept waiting to feel the sense of duty I expected to feel from a lifetime of hearing things like “Pregnancy is a consequence of having sex and if you aren’t prepared to have a baby you shouldn’t have sex” and “So many people want to have kids and shouldn’t—women who have abortions should give their baby to those people, instead of being selfish and killing their baby.” I waited to feel a wave of anxiety or grief about being pregnant and not wanting to be a mom. I waited to feel like fate was interceding in my life.
In the world I grew up in, honoring the way you were raised and the beliefs you were raised with is a big deal. Even though I had rejected the religion and the politics, I expected to remain loyal to the ideas that I had been taught about family and responsibility.
Even if I didn’t want this baby, surely I could give an incredible gift to someone who couldn’t have what I had been given. I decided I needed some knowledge and opinions that didn’t come from someone who thought that Rush Limbaugh was doing the Lord’s work. I knew virtually nothing about the actual mechanics or biology of an abortion, and I knew nothing of how babies were adopted.
Back then, the Internet wasn’t what it is today, but I was able to find the basics about the procedure without too much trouble. After I felt like I had objective knowledge about the procedure, I sought out the pages dedicated to anti-abortion messages, and I read them carefully, looking for something that would jar me into feeling something besides, “do not have this baby.”
I found the articles to be emotionally coercive, often appealing to God’s will and service through moral living. I no longer believed in God as he had been represented by Christianity, and the moral duty that was invoked sounded an awful lot like the sophistry that Christian extremists used to justify the war in Iraq, or discriminate against gay people.
The claims made about the negative health effects of abortions (breast cancer, sterility, etc.) sounded shaky. More searching proved those claims to be unfounded. Studies linking poor health repercussions after an abortion were often produced by established pro-life medical clinics with questionable research profiles and reporting tactics. It seemed like, once you removed religious morality from the equation, there really wasn’t a good reason to not have an abortion if you didn’t want to be pregnant.
I looked into adoption next, again wanting to feel some sort of compulsion to do the moral and decent thing according to my upbringing. My search often led me to pregnancy crisis centers, and once I realized that their supportive, welcoming messages were backed by unwaveringly pro-life rhetoric (which came along with heavy-handed sexist proselytizing), I had no desire to deal with any of them.
The other options involved lots of travel I couldn’t easily afford that would conflict with my work schedule. The more I thought about it, the idea of spending nearly the next year in a medically vulnerable position became more and more terrifying.
I was 23. I was about to get married. Although my pregnancy wouldn’t be obvious on my wedding day, every wedding picture I had would feature me, pregnant with a child neither my husband or I would raise.
I wouldn’t be able to hide my pregnancy from my family or friends in the small community where I lived—did I really want to have to explain to everyone that yes, I was knocked up, but no, I wouldn’t be keeping the baby?
I was flat broke without health insurance. I would be able to get Medicaid assistance for the pregnancy, but what if I had a lingering health condition afterward, like diabetes? What if this pregnancy damaged my body in some way that would make a subsequent pregnancy difficult or impossible? Deciding on a course of action that could put so much of the rest of my life at risk seemed nothing short of foolish to me.
I had done my homework. I had weighed my options. I might be unexpectedly pregnant, but there was no reason I could find to let this pregnancy define the rest of my life. I did not want to become a parent in the next nine months, and unless I took action, I would be. Terminating the pregnancy was simply the best option, not just for the present-tense version of myself, but also for any future I could envision.
Husband listened carefully to the conclusions I had come to. He had been excited by the prospect of fatherhood, he explained, but he also felt it was not the right time for the two of us to become parents. He assured me that he understood and respected my decision. I was almost taken aback by his immediate, unwavering support. If I hadn’t already planned our wedding, I might have married him on the spot.
Over the next few weeks, we made the necessary arrangements. The story of my clinic visit could be another essay entirely, but I will say that I had an overall positive experience and was treated with respect and compassion.
Husband and I have now been married for eight years. We’ve had our share of fights and rough spots, but never once has my decision to end that pregnancy come up as some sort of emotional blackmail. I’ve never held a baby or watched my husband hold a baby and felt a pang of regret over what I chose to do.
And because of that, I will be as active and vocal as I can be in order to make sure that every other women has the rights and resources to make whatever decision she wants to make with regard to her fertility, regardless of her circumstance.
The following story first appeared on Jezebel.
I wanted to get my husband to watch our daughter so I could get stoned and pound out this essay about being a mom who smokes pot. But when I stepped back into our apartment after smoking about half a bowl of something called "purple train wreck" out on the terrace, I knew I'd never be able to get any work done with this cute ass baby around to distract me. In the middle of playing some totally vacant, rule-less game that involved pretending to chew stuff, making growling noises, and giggling, I realized that she's like the funniest fucking person I've ever met. Anybody who thinks that weed makes parents ignore their children has clearly never been high around one.
Once upon a time, back when I was young and stupid enough to think that 30 was old, I thought that one magical day in the indeterminate future I'd just naturally age out of my predilection for smoking pot. That never happened. And why would it? Weed is awesome. I've always preferred it to alcohol. It doesn't have the calories or the hangover.
And I've never had a glass of wine and been captivated by children's books like I have after smoking a bowl. Staring at a page for God only knows how long, I caught myself saying very seriously, "Where is Waldo? I don't think he's in this one. Is he definitely always in it?"
I turned to my husband for an answer. He was cooking in the kitchen and I caught him trying to smash up garlic cloves with the end of some kind of broom handle instead of the Pampered Chef garlic press my aunt gave me at my wedding shower. See, that is exactly the kind of shit that would've irrationally pissed me off if I hadn't smoked. Instead, I just laughed.
Weed takes the edge off of my fatigue-induced bitchiness. It helps me not care so much about things. Wait, that sounds bad! I mean, it helps me not care about the stupid little unimportant things that I have a habit of getting hung up on and stressed about, like how my husband chooses to crush garlic. I don't mean to shatter your world view or anything, but being a lifelong pothead doesn't mean you're relegated to living in your parents' basement or being a deflated sack of skin on the couch, as many anti-marijuana PSAs would suggest. In fact, I'm a highly (pun intended) functioning member of society.
I have a full-time job. I'm a taxpayer. I'm a registered voter. I'm regularly contributing to my 401k and IRA. I'm married. I'm a homeowner. I'm a mom. I'm a stoner. I'm never going to find Waldo.
My husband grabbed the book out of my hands. "I have amazing scanning abilities. He's right here. Do they have races for these? I'd win." He tossed he book back to me and the baby.
"I don't know. Hey, is the Special Olympics every four years, too?" I asked sincerely as he went back to cooking. Pot really enables free association.
"Yeah, if they don't lose count."
It took me an embarrassingly long time to get what he meant by that, that's how slow I was. But slow people can take care of babies! If you don't think so, then you're ableist. If you don't know what that is, look it up. That's the best way to learn something and retain the information.
Anyway, half-laughing at a stupid Special Olympics joke might make me a bad person, but it doesn't make me a bad parent. And neither does occasionally smoking weed. I'm not getting all crazy, hanging out of limo sun roofs, smoking weed off of hookers' tits. I tend to ride out my buzz by giggling with my family, eating dinner, doing the dishes, putting the baby to bed and watching an episode of Friday Night Lights. One of the more exciting developments for me in recent weeks is when I started following Fuck Yeah Taylor Kitsch on Tumblr. If that isn't some boring ass mom shit, I don't know what is.
The point of all of this is that I know I'm not the only one, and I know I'm in good company, but I wish that more parents were open about smoking pot in order to reduce the stigma associated with it. You know, I'm a mom, but I'm also a person. Don't put me in a box. Unless it's a hot box.
The following story first appeared on xojane.com.
I've worked as a housecleaner to supplement my income for over a decade in Manhattan.
Over the years I've experienced everything from a celebrity trying to pay me with a bounced check to a woman giving me a microwave she said she no longer needed only to call me a week later and ask for me to bring it back to her. (Which I did, even though it took me an hour to get to her by bus.)
When I arrive, I do so with a smile and cleaning supplies, expecting to put in a hard day's work. What I get is often hours of psychological games where clients will do everything they can just to try to save themselves $10 or $20. Sorry, but buying me a cup of coffee does not mean you get an extra two hours of work for free. If I could, I would not work as a housecleaner. But I need to, and I wish people would treat me with the same dignity they would hope to be treated with if they were in my position.
People spend thousands of dollars on clothes and possessions I see in their homes, but when push comes to shove tell me they cannot afford to pay me $80. "I understand," I say. When really I am just sad. I'm sad that people think they can treat other people this way.
I have experienced a variety of clients who think that they can manipulate and humiliate me. They use certain words to try to get me to do what they want because they think I am not smart enough to understand what they are saying. These are the things people do to try to save a few bucks.
Don't get me wrong: I am grateful for every single client. But there are certain clients who give other clients a bad name.
Here are the top six ways not to be rude to your housecleaner.
1. You should have better respect for yourself, and for the maid, by taking care of some things ahead of time. I do not need to see your bodily fluids: mucous, menstrual blood, saliva, urine, feces. Why would you leave your underwear everywhere for me to deal with? Or used tampons on the floor? If you are on your period, please do not ask me to Shout it out for you. Consider that I am a human being here to clean your house, not a doctor here to perform a medical exam.
2. I do not work for you full-time. I understand that you want me to come over when you want me to come over, but I actually have my own personal life and other clients. Sure, sometimes I can come over at a moment's notice, but most housecleaners are juggling complicated schedules. If you want me to be available at any time, then hire me full-time.
3. Last-minute cancellation is not, I repeat, not ever okay. I'm glad to hear that you are suddenly going on vacation, but there are others like me who do not have a vacation in sight. One of the reasons? People like you who are costing me my livelihood by canceling at the very last minute.
4. If ironing takes you a long time, why do you think it will take me any less time? Here's a common scenario: I am shown a pile of laundry and told it "should not take me a long time." Running a washing machine and dryer and ironing piles of clothes takes me the same amount of time as it takes you: hours. I have had clients say, "Oh, and will you do this laundry, too?" as an afterthought, after I have quoted them an initial price. Then they get angry when I adjust the time and quote.
There is no magical ironing fairy who suddenly makes the job easier when I do it. This needs to be considered in the cost estimate. Just because you think your time is more important than mine, does not mean that it takes me any less time.
5. Your organic products do not work. Some individuals have an obsession when it comes to the word "organic."
"You have to use Simple Green," one woman told me. Then, after I used it because that's all she would let me use, she got upset at me because the place was not as clean as she would have liked it. When it comes to food, buy whatever organic veggies you want. When it comes to cleaning products, organic doesn't do anything. [Editor's Note: Non-organic white vinegar cleans as well as most name-brand cleaning supplies and is less expensive and far less toxic.]
6. If your place is disorganized, no matter how many hours I spend, it is still going to be disorganized. Please do not call me later and ask me where something is. If you don't know where it is to begin with, I can't suddenly come up with an organizing system that you don't have. I've even had clients call and ask if I had stolen some item of theirs, and when I ask where it was originally, they have no idea. Of course, I have to apologize and say, "I'm sorry." Why? I need the work.
7. You can have a good cleaning job or a cheap cleaning job, but rarely both. If you want to pay me cheaply, you are not going to get the same results as you would with a longer job. One is a deep clean, one is a quick clean. Stop expecting both.
8. I don't want to hear the story of how you are down on your luck. Guess what? So am I. Do you really think this is my dream job? I am working extra hours as a housecleaner to pay for rent and food. I do not need to hear the story about how this has been a rough year for you financially. If you can afford to hire a housecleaner, you are not doing all that bad. (Oh, and I did see that $900 pair of shoes in your closet which tells me everything I need to know. It's your money, so you can buy whatever you want, but don't try to talk down a person because she wants to be paid what she is worth.)
9. If you want to join me in cleaning, then do it, but don't follow me around and correct every little thing that I do. It's one or the other. You can hire some woman in a French maid costume if the power trip is what you are after, but you have hired me to do a job. If I am ruining something of yours, then of course, correct me. But I don't ruin things. I am a very careful professional, which is the case for the majority of housecleaners. Telling me to scrub harder is not constructive advice, it's just annoying and rude. If you want, then get down next to me—and scrub.
This has been a hard week for dance music culture, and the media has identified a culprit: MDMA. The third day of the Electric Zoo festival in New York was canceled, despite vigilant staff. Six overdoses were reported at two shows in Boston last week, at two venues known for stringent-to-the-point-of-volatility security checkpoints. Not to mention that Miley Cyrus seems to be the most vocal celebrity proponent of the drug at the moment.
I don’t expect to be able to write a comprehensive defense here, only to share a few thoughts. And I have two separate arguments that may seem somewhat at odds with each other: first, that MDMA is not essential to enjoying dance culture; and second, that, in spite of that, it’s gotten a worse rap than it deserves. I’m not going to touch on the history of rave culture (such as the Second Summer of Love in Britain, which also resulted in crackdowns) or the grander economic/political forces at play with the war on drugs in America. Instead, this is a personal defense of dance culture today.
I also want to acknowledge that MDMA use isn’t risk-free behavior; while there are some precautions you can take, like using testing kits, there’s no way to completely eliminate risk. What I’m arguing isn’t that MDMA use is completely safe, but that for the few extreme situations we see reported, there are millions more people who land in the middle of the spectrum between drug-free and using to excess.
I, personally, have taken MDMA a total of 15 to 20 times in my life.
I was first offered MDMA when I was a sophomore in college. A cool, older friend (it’s always a cool, older friend, right?) invited us to a “rave” in Connecticut. Since even alcohol was pretty new to me then, the idea seemed totally foreign and scary. My preconceived notions of “molly” were terrifying, to say the least, and I declined to attend the rave, since people there would be on drruuuugggsss.
Fast forward about two years. My first dose was wrapped (as part of an elaborate group ritual) in a Fruit Roll-Up™, which I ingested orally on the MBTA. We were headed to a Rusko show at Royale Nightclub in Boston. Definitely not my scene now, but “dance music” was fairly new to me (and a lot of people my age) at the time. I did a lot of reading and talking about the drug with people beforehand. I watched the Peter Jennings documentary “Ecstasy Rising”â€Š—â€Šan extremely objective look, and something I was surprised to see from someone I’d watched on TV all the time with my parents.
Despite my prior research, I was still anxious. I was afraid of losing control, of becoming disconnected from my sense of self. It took about an hour and a half for the drug to kick in, and there was no singular moment of “holy shit, I’m on drruuuugggsss” the way I had expected. It’s impossible for anyone to prepare you for MDMA, and by that I mean you’re probably going to expect something far more extreme than the actual outcome.
The appeal that MDMA has for me is the complete lucidity that it offers, particularly in contrast to alcohol. After that first experience, I felt that my mind-set had permanently shifted (and not in the sense that proverbial “ice cream scoops” had been shaved from my brain). As someone who’s historically been quite introverted and socially anxious, and particularly reticent about touch (there was a time when hugs from friends, even after heavy drinking, seemed like a massive mental undertaking), I felt like a layer of my personality had been peeled back.
Despite all of the insanity of last week, I took a small dose of MDMA (from a trusted source) just last weekend at a small music event in my city. I consumed about one-quarter of the amount that was described to me as a “dose.” I didn’t die. I also didn’t talk anyone’s ear off, grind my teeth, lose my job, kill my entire family, eat any faces, or blindly agree to have sex with anyone or anything. I simply danced, had some pleasant conversations, and drank a little bit of Goya peach juice. It’s possible that some MDMA users are doing too much, pushing their limits too hard. But individuals aren’t solely to blame for that â€Š—â€Š we’re also seeing a shift in culture.
The core of “dance culture” isn’t about “getting fucked up.” If you’ve ever been to a great music festival, like Mutek in Montreal or Movement in Detroit, you know that you can get high off sheer atmosphere. These are festivals that focus on the communal side of dance music culture; artists come back year after year, and many attendees treat these festivals as a pilgrimage, not a party (which isn’t to say these aren’t parties, but rather, that priorities are different). Of course, there are some people who’ve had a few too many drinks or popped a few too many pills. But it’s not the first thing that catches your eye.
At festivals like Ultra in Miami, however, many of the attendees are viewing the experience as a party first and foremost. People at these events, I think, often prioritize their own experience (think “VIP” tickets and table service), rather than the incredible feeling of being part of something, of experiencing something together.
My experience of becoming involved with dance culture just a few years ago seems to parallel the experience of many young Americans. We were listening to indie rock and hip-hop before, and the idea of losing ourselves to dance is still fresh for many of us.
In the last year or two, things have picked up even more quickly, and new people are entering the EDM scene at an unprecedented pace â€Š—â€Š almost too fast to keep up with its own growth, especially at large-scale, popular, “entry-level” events. The tone being set at these events is not one of control and self-reliance, but of Dionysian excess. Cultural mores around being “too fucked up” have largely dissolved, and efforts to educate and take care of one another are minimal at best. Attendees aren’t being sold on the music anymore; they’re being sold on the party experience. Electric Zoo was particularly sad proof of this; despite organizers’ putting forth their best efforts to keep everything under control, the culture itself has changed. Now that excess is becoming deeply embedded in dance at a cultural level, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for organizers to keep events safe.
Some people drink as a fun supplement to whatever else they’re doing. They are usually in control of their actions; they’re drinking, but drinking isn’t the activity in and of itself, and they remain self-reliant throughout the course of the night. Then there are those who are drinking for the sake of drinking. The end game is to get as drunk as possible, to black out, to lose control.
I don’t think MDMA use is all that different. I’ve been to many dance music events where I’ve had an incredible time completely sober. I’ve been to dance events a little tipsy. I’ve been to dance events after a few too many drinks. And I’ve been to dance events that I’ve chosen to supplement with a bit of MDMA. I’m picky about where I take MDMA â€Š—â€Š I like to be around people I know and trust, in a setting that’s not too overwhelming. I stay hydrated. I take breaks and get fresh air if the setting is hot or poorly ventilated. And I’m never in it to test my own limits. I much prefer “MDMA tipsy” to “rolling face.”
Mainstream coverage of dance culture right now is far too black and white, and it scares me that the general public might start to see the entirety of that culture as a dangerous drug hotbed. In reality, for many people it’s a near-spiritual source of release and community, with or without drugs (it’s both cheesy and amazing how many parallels one could draw between what people seek in rave and religion).
It also scares me that in a world where security can already be pretty tough, we might see increased crackdowns. In my experience, it’s usually the places with the strictest security that see the most problems. Events tend to be safer when they exist off the grid and encourage radical self-reliance, emphasizing self-control as a core tenet of their culture instead of as an afterthought.
I think it’s important for those of us who are involved with dance culture to acknowledge that drug use happens, but also to encourage people to enjoy dance music sans chemical aid and to share information on how to use drugs as responsibly as we can. Organizers need to work not only to crack down on drug use, but also to foster a culture where it doesn’t feel like a necessity. Let’s not regress to an abstinence-only mode of education for something that’s only going to become more common as the influence of dance culture grows.