Friday, August 22, 2014

I Object!

I've been a bit of workaholic since I was a wee little tot. This stems from a weird combination of needing to please people and a fear of instability and destitution that is far too boring to unpack here. The important consequence of this tendency is that days after my 16th birthday I got my first real job and it was at a dry cleaners.


***PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Real live human beings have to sort and clean your clothes when you drop them off at the dry cleaners, SO HAVE SOME SHAME. This means checking your clothes for: your dirty underwear, your cocaine, poop (hopefully yours?), clumps of pubic hair, and if I kept making this list of things that we routinely found, my blog would cease to be family friendly.***


Even without adding my manic mix of peppiness and annoyance that I bring to all my places of work, a dry cleaners is a fascinating and disgusting place to work.

Sometimes you have clients that refuse to give their real name and insist you call them "Mr. X."

Sometimes you have clients show up after closing time at the double glass doors in their underwear screaming about how they have no clothes and you have to let them in.

Sometimes you have clients come in looking for the afore mentioned cocaine and get the entertainment of watching them figure out how to ask if we've seen it without admitting it's theirs.

And sometimes, you are the problem.

It might not come as a surprise that I can be quite chatty and friendly at my place of work. This was especially true at this job, because sorting through and bagging people's dirty clothes is incredibly awkward and nothing brings out my obnoxiousness like feeling awkward.

The customer was a large, scowling, laconic man. Challenge accepted. I'm kind of like a My Little Pony - ignoring social cues in favor of attempting to bring unnecessary amounts of rainbows and butterflies to everyone's world. The less chipperness is wanted, the more it blazes out of me (especially when I was a bright eyed, bushy tailed sixteen year old).

Serious Man was NOT interested in any of the blithe conversation I was attempting to make.

He also had an incredible amount of clothes to sort, so my attempts were not short winded or subtle.

Serious Man quickly became Scowling Man, and I in turn ramped up the "charm" to 1,000 kilowatts.

I will make this man smile. I will make him like me. His day WILL BE BETTER.

I was shaking out the last garment (a choir robe), this was my last chance: "Oh cool! I see you're in the church choir! Awesome! I bet that's so much fun! Baritone?"

Seriously? He won't even talk about Jesus? Nothing??

Mega-Scowling Man replied, many painful moments later: "I'm a judge."

Nope. Not a choir robe.

Fine. You win this round.

In my defense:


 EASY MISTAKE. All though I see now that sleeves are much sassier on a Judge. You think Mega-Scowling Man would be happier getting to wear such sassy sleeves. Sheesh.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Let's Talk About Sex

**long ranty post about sex, chalk full of personal information. Since half my readers are my family, you've been dully warned.**

There is a lot of writing about sex. Some of it is informative, some shocking, some of it is sad, some inspiring. Recently, I've noticed a trend of arguing against waiting for marriage to have sex - it's silly, old-fashioned, it's disrespectful to yourself, it sets you up for failure, it creates unrealistic expectations, etc. Some of these articles are persuasive and logical and I read them and I end up feeling like Mowgli from the Jungle Book.

Which is kind of ironic since I'm already married and don't have to struggle with standing by my decision to wait until marriage. It does get me thinking though. Those words and arguments sound so persuasive to me, how do they sound to someone who is in the midst of trying to make a choice about their sex life?

I have nothing new to add to the argument. I don't have a special ability to interpret the Bible in new ways that will wow anyone reading. There's really nothing I can say that will push this argument one way or the other. Despite that, I feel compelled to add my two cents, if nothing else than because this is my blog and I do what I want.

I always felt the need to save myself for my husband. I was taught it as a young child and was lucky enough to have mentors all through high school that taught me a healthy point of view on sex and waiting. It was not done in a dogmatic, legalistic way but in an open and honest conversation. I can tell you all the arguments you've heard before, it's a gift, it's Biblical, etc., but there's no benefit to that. All I can add is my own experience and random thoughts I've gathered over the years.

First off, I don't believe this issue is as black and white as we'd like to think. There is not a magic celibacy belt that is handed out when you make a decision that turns off your sex drive, need for intimacy, desire to be wanted, or the awareness of all the other numerous of benefits that come from sex. Waiting to have sex can be excruciating - physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, ethically, grammatically... I asked myself many times, "why I am even waiting? What's the point." I desire love and intimacy as much as the next person. I'm a warm blooded human that feels lust. I was often "in love" and wanting to express that love. Staying a virgin was a constant choice, and one that often times got hazy and messy and complicated. I completely understand people, despite sound Biblical belief, who have sex.

Having sex outside of marriage can happen because of drunkenness, love, desire to get it over with, and on and on and on. Luckily, I don't think I worship a God who sees that and goes, "Ah well. No happy marriage for you in the future. The end." God is as merciful as He is just. He wants us to wait for us, not because it impacts His quality of life. He doesn't have a jar of virgins that gets emptier when we give up the goods that sends Him into panic mode that it is dwindling. I do think it makes Him sad. Being all knowing, He knows exactly how sex can be best experienced and it must be a big bummer when the children He loves are missing out on that. He knows that each casual sexual event, every heartbreak, each drunken mistake has a toll. It makes things that much more calloused or complicated. BUT, I believe that at any point someone can choose to say, "enough is enough, I want sex in the context it was created for - life long commitment." Our sexuality is no less redeemable than the rest of us.

I have a friend who has a colorful past sexually. We had many long conversations about why I choose to wait and eventually this friend made the decision that sex was off the table until marriage, regardless of the fact that many would say that ship had sailed. There was a dawning awareness that sex, even in serious, loving relationships, was not fulfilling a deep need for intimacy and that each time was actually making that hole bigger and harder to fill. That person is now married and that hole has been filled in a way that was never expected or understood before.

The flip side of that is waiting for marriage is not a magic formula that gives you Hollywood sex. If anything, it makes for a totally crap wedding night. Mine was mildly horrifying. Not because of my husband (who's incredibly sexy) or because of a flaw in our relationship. My body had no idea what it was doing, I was tense and stressed about performing well, and physically it hurt like a son of a gun. It would have been easy to sit in the fancy bathroom of our hotel and cry and wonder why I wasn't experiencing what everyone else obviously is, per the movies. But my thoughts were more along the lines of, "well we only have up to go from here," and "thank heavens I have John to figure this out with, because I sure do love and trust him."

For me, sex was a learning curve. I had to learn what I like, what John likes, what works best for us together, and all kinds of discoveries. I can't imagine taking on that journey with anyone but him. Talk with my girlfriends almost always ends up at some point being about sex (sorry guys, it's just how we work). The question, "what's the best sex you've ever had?" has come up in these conversations. I can honestly say every time I have sex is better than the last. I don't think this is a super special gift I get because I was a virgin when I got married, but I do think it would be impossible without really exploring the gift of sex within the commitment, trust, vulnerability, intimacy, and love of my relationship with John.

I honestly don't have a big concluding point with this post other than I don't regret waiting for marriage, and maybe someone needs that encouragement.