Musings of a Chicago-Born New Yorker

Posts tagged “church

I Enjoy Less Because Feminism

The patriarchal cisgendered norms of my worldview have been buffeted by intersectional feminism.

In case that sentence was gibberish to you, let me break it down.

Patriarchal: When I use this term, I’m referring to the second definition, which refers to a society controlled by men.

Cisgendered: When I use this term, I’m referring to people who identify as being the same gender they were assigned at birth.

Intersectional: When I use this term, I’m referring to the concept that the problems of marginalized communities are interconnected, and cannot be separated.

Feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to the belief in and fight for the rights of women based on the belief in their equality to men.

Intersectional feminism: When I use this term, I’m referring to an idea that the fight for equality for women is a fight for all women and femmes, crossing racial and social and economic and age and gender lines.

Having defined those terms as I am currently using them, let’s say that first sentence again using a lot more words.

The world defaults to the best interest of men, particularly those who were assigned the male gender at birth, and I was raised with those same patterns of behavior and views. In learning more about the world around me, particularly as it relates to the equality of all people, and the way all marginalized communities are connected, I no longer view the world that way.

I notice this in ways small and large. It has affected the way I see things, and changed the things I used to take for granted. I count myself lucky because I was raised by parents who taught me to be independent and decide for myself how I view the world. They taught me that even if I disagree with everyone I love, I must think, feel, and do what I think is right.

Some examples:

  • I can no longer watch TGIT with my mother because she and I disagree on the normalcy of the LGBTQ+ community. I’ve been visiting Chicago a lot recently for my mother because my grandmother is sick. This last visit, I watched Grey’s Anatomy, Notorious, and How to Get Away with Murder with my mom. Every show that night featured characters engaging in homosexual behavior. Each time my mother would say something along the lines of, “they’re so gay.” Her tone and redundancy bugged me, and I expressed my dissatisfaction. But aside from learning to not voice certain things, I don’t think much can be done to fix this situation. I no longer enjoy watching television with my mother. I am no fan of Raven-Symone, but I was so irritated when over the summer my mother spoke of her sexuality while we watched an eipsode of The View.
  • I can no longer attend church services at the church where I grew up. The last sermon I sat through there was a ranting mess about how gays and Muslim immigrants and bankers were responsible for the economic hardships. I was completely fucking floored and done with the church after that. The pastor of the church wasn’t there that day. The preacher who gave that awful ass sermon is now the pastor of another church, thank God. But his departure doesn’t change the reaction of the congregation during the sermon. I was horrified, openly horrified at that sermon, and I seemed to be the only one. The people who were actually listening, and who managed to follow his bullshit line of reasoning were responding as if it were any other barely mediocre sermon. I cannnot attend a church where they think blaming marginilized communities for our community’s problems is okay.
  • The song Hallelujah is one I have always loved. That mournful tone and the way the music swells as it builds to its peak have always been so beautiful to me. But the lyrics maaaaaan… The second verse is all biblical references normalizing a lot of crap towards women. It gets real rapey and hateful in just five lines. Pretty much the only version of the song I can listen to these days is the one by Pentatonix. I can easily listen to the beauty of their voices without the lyrics penetrating.
  • Eminem, who I would call one of my favorite rappers, says some awful things about women, homosexuals, etc. I don’t really love rap to begin with, and that is now tested even more. His song Rap God, which I used to listen to on repeat, now is like a slap across the face every time he uses the word faggot. It’s just not the same now that I no longer make excuses for the use of that word in music.

Those are just a few, but there are many more. Obviously, a lot of the issues I have come as a consumer. Music, television, even news articles just fall flat to me when they aren’t doing enough to fight for progress.

Several articles in the Washington Post recently address feminism, but they do it in such an incomplete way, that without a good knowledge base, you’d think they hate feminism and have never heard the word intersectional. I know feminism has a lot of problems, mostly that it tend to leave out those are aren’t white, cis, middle class, career-focused, American women. But these articles, which you can read here, here, and here, seem so limited in their scope. They seemed to make the point that there is feminism and there is black/poor/non-white feminism. In my opinion, they are not helping the cause.

The unity that is essential to resisting future overlord DJT feels like it’s being attacked from all sides. For any Harry Potter fans out there, remember that sucky speech Dolores Umbridge gave at the start of year feast when she was Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher? Basically she spoke a lot about preserving some traditions and pruning others. Just like DJT’s narcissistic ass, she sought to only keep the “traditions” that forwarded her and the Ministry’s selfish aims, damn those who are hurt in the wake.

If we are going to properly resist what’s coming (and already happening), we can’t let mainstream media twist and/or make light of important movements. And you can’t let the constant stream of music, online videos, television and movies (white-washed Dr. Strange, I’m looking at you… “Celtic” my ass…) shape and re-shape your perception of what’s normal–and what isn’t.

If you believe in equality, if you believe in progress, then pay attention. Learn their code words, and learn your code words. When I hear the word urban come up in politics, I know what they mean. It catches my ear and puts me on alert because what follows the use of that word is almost always some bullshit, and almost always is an attempt to harm my community.

I’m paying attention. And when the time comes, I’ll be ready.

Listen. Progress. Resist. Thrive.


Getting My [insert noun here] In Shape

Summer, my body, parties, my apartment, hobbies. Fill in the blank with almost anything I wish I were doing more of.

I should be getting my ass in shape. I’m working on it. But just not as wholeheartedly as I’d like. I love bike riding, and I love yoga. Finding the time and motivation is a losing battle. At least I’m eating better. More grains and fruit, less over-processed and fried foods.

Summer is shaping up. I’ve been trying to spend more time outside, and more time with my friends. I’ve been quite unsuccessful at both. It took so long to get warm, and now that it is, I’ve got to get it together. I have a whole week off starting the 4th of July. I’m planning some great things for the husband’s birthday, and I should be able to squeeze a lot in that week.

We’re throwing a party for the husband’s birthday. We had one in June which was amazing. And we’ll have another in July. That should keep me feeling party-ful for the summer. I’m still in my 20s, so I shouldn’t be over clubs yet, should I? I am though, so I won’t be doing much partying-in-a-loud-ass-room-surrounded-by-strangers-I-have-no-interest-in.

My apartment is still terrible. It’s getting better, but I haven’t made any progress since we got those amazing shelves from The Container Store. My next plan is to buy another set of shelves and connect it to the first set. The expansion will make room for the TV and our books. That way we can get rid of the bookcases and really have some effective downsizing done ahead of the move to NYC.

And lastly hobbies. I thought I’d be doing more at church, more volunteering, more rock climbing. And I’ve done nothing. I don’t even draw in my sketchbook anymore.

You know what? I’m done complaining. If I spend all my free time doing nothing, I can’t feel bad that I’ve got nothing done. I’m going to focus on what I can get done.

I can stay on top of my TV shows.

I’m not kidding. I really do love television. And coming up this month and next are the summer premiers of some of my favorite shows. I love White Collar, Leverage, Franklin & Bash. I can watch those shows and feel a sense of accomplishment.

And then after that, I’ll get my butt up off the couch and go bike riding along the lake. And I’ll invite along one of my friends. And bring a snack of fresh fruit and water.

Boom, problem solved.


Post-Wedding Apathy

Since I love blogging, and I love the husband, I figured blogging about my wedding would be a rewarding and fulfilling experience for me. I was woefully and regrettably wrong wrong wrong.

I have my reasons, you may not agree with them. I’m prepared for lack of agreement, but just know I feel quite strongly about this. Here goes.

Reason #1: My wedding is being f-ing photocopied! Whoever said the highest form of flattery is imitation is an asshole. There is a wedding happening this summer that is my wedding on rinse and repeat. My flowers: orchids, gardenias, roses. This wedding: ditto. My baker, my florist, my freaking dress consultant are all making appearances at this wedding. Even her bridal shower at the end of the month has the same theme. I’ve been told not to blame the bride because her wedding has been hijacked by people with stronger opinions. I’ve been told I should be flattered. I’ve been told that it could all be a coincidence.

All I know is that I’m not flattered. There have been so many weddings held my members of my church in the last three years, and many have been unique and tasteful. So why is mine being carbon copied? We put a lot of thought into our choices and I don’t appreciate someone just jocking my style. Half our wedding vendors aren’t even easy to find. They aren’t located in the city or aren’t big on the internet, which means that the planners of this wedding bypassed the easier finds to go to my vendors. I’ve been having a WTF moment concerning this wedding for like the last 4 months. Oh, did I mention that the bridesmaid dresses look like mine, just slightly darker plus rhinestones?

Reason #2: I’ve lost my love for blogging about my wedding. I can’t bring myself to blog about my wedding. I have several posts written, but I stopped right at the bachelor/bachelorette party. All I have to do is add in pictures from our photographer. I specifically requested the more expensive package so I could have the rights to all these photos and now I’m not even using them. I just don’t feel like it. I don’t know how normal that is, but I just don’t wanna.

Reason #3: There are still items on my to-do list. I still haven’t submitted the photos for our professional album. I still haven’t mailed thank you cards. I just hate that there are still to-do items. We don’t even have on file the addresses for the last minute invitees. The drive to Staples to buy labels to print out and put on already completed thank you notes just feels like too big of a task. I wish someone else would do it.

Reason #4: Thinking about my wedding makes me feel less married. I was so excited once the wedding was over. The husband and I haven’t been together for long, so I felt like the majority of our relationship was consumed by wedding planning. Now that we’re not wedding planning anymore, we’re just us. We’ve had four blissful non-wedding planning months and even thinking about anything wedding related makes me feel like I’m regressing. I suppose that’s why we didn’t even watch our wedding video until our mothers made us on Mother’s Day.

I’m not at all apathetic about my marriage, just my wedding. It was a beautiful day that was this great big party. Everyone had an amazing time and I’m so grateful for what my parents (both sets) made possible for the husband and me. I just don’t want to think about it right now. Or at all for the next 6 months.

Do I suck completely for feeling this way? I imagine couples who’ve been together for years don’t go through this. I don’t want to be ungrateful, I just want to be married and leave my wedding in the past. I remember the tasty food, the endless dancing, the amazing music, and my gorgeous bouquet. All the rest can go poof. For now.


Getting Married, Really Freaking Soon

Ever since we first discussed getting married during the Super Bowl in 2011, the fiancé and I have pretty much been moving towards our wedding, which is the second weekend of next month.

I don’t know if you’ve ever gotten married in a wedding ceremony that was way more extravagant and large than you’d prefer, but I’m kind of freaking out. If I had my way, we would have gotten married in a tiny tiny ceremony at my church on a Wednesday afternoon.

The only wedding accoutrement would be a really pretty dress for me, and flowers, lots of flowers. Then we’d throw a big party a week or so later and invite all the friends and family to join us in merriment. I knew this would never happen, but I can dream.

When we renew our vows in 10-15 years, we’ll do it that way.

But that’s not my reality. In my reality, my wedding is less than a month away. It’s less than 4 weeks away. I still have a ton to do.

I just want to bury my head in the sand and emerge married to a man who’s perfect for me. Why can’t that be the case.

I will be a big girl. I will wear a beautiful dress I love with all my heart that I may not fit into. I will march down the aisle at my non-church wedding venue, with hundreds of eyes staring at me.

Ugh, I try not to think about the eyes. I still have war flashbacks from entering both my engagement party and bridal shower late to the expectant stares of all the guests. I guess it was good practice for the wedding.

They’ll all be staring, but at least at the wedding, they only expect me to walk. At the other events, I felt as if I should’ve prepared a song and dance…

The only thing I’m not freaking out about is becoming a Mrs. I can’t wait to change my name. I can’t wait to wear my non-traditional wedding band. I can’t wait to use the word husband.

And I really can’t wait to wake up the day after the wedding to find that nothing at all has changed in our relationship. Fiancé, you’re the one thing about all of this I’m not freaking out about. And you can comment on this post if you like, I swear it’s not lame. It would be sweet.


Marriage Counseling

We had our counseling session. It wasn’t so bad. In fact it went pretty well. And just like our first session with my pastor, the fiancé’s pastor called up his mom to talk about how delightful a couple we were and how mature we were.

It’s hard to hear that praise and not think you’re pretty awesome. Just because we’ve already discussed the things they want us to talk about and we have managed to build a pretty solid foundation doesn’t mean we’re exempt from marital problems. But we still feel pretty awesome that our pastors seemed so impressed with us as a couple.

After going through these first couple of sessions, I feel that I’ve learned a bit about us as a couple.

1) We’re teenagers. We both laughed at the exact same moment when we happened upon the phrase “good sex” in our counseling packet. Yup, we’re 13 and a half years old.

2) Pre-marital counseling makes us feel waay better about our relationship. Talking about our foundations, our values, and why we feel we fit well together makes us feel all happy and content. We were in a fight on our way to counseling, yet we left holding hands and singing kumbaya and shit.

3) We have no problem talking out our problems. As long as he can remember not to bullshit me and I can remember not to get angry before we’ve tried discussing things as adults, there’s nothing we can’t work out.

4) We really really wish we could just elope. There’s so many damn steps between now and actually being married. It’d be nice to just be done. After we moved into together, we were living there for a week before we remembered we still weren’t married yet.

5) Maintaining a happy relationship takes work. We can’t let any one part slack. Staying happy doesn’t just happen once you’ve been together for more than 6 months. Feeling like a honeymoon all the time is well and good, but it takes prioritizing the things that matter to you as a couple.

We have date night and that’s awesome. We get “us” time in and it keeps us fresh. It’s like watering a plant, or replacing the batteries in a vibrator or taking down your Christmas decorations before March. A little effort goes a long way in the end result.


Diet My Ass

I had my bridesmaids over last night. These are ladies I’ve been friends with for years, at least a decade with each and two decades with one. We all grew up in the same church, but that has no bearing on how much fun we have together. And between the 132 of us (that’s only a slight exaggeration, my wedding party is huge), we have a huge range of make-up capabilities.

I have a friend who sells Mary Kay, so I had her come over and do a skin care party for my girls. This is the first of three parties. Next is makeup and then finally a color palette especially designed for each of us for the wedding day. It’s the like the grown-up version of playing dress up. But this post isn’t about make-up, it’s about my ladies eating me out of house and home.

When they walked in, they were discussing the importance of fitting into the bridesmaid dresses and being more healthy in general. I had cooked a really delicious dinner for the fiancé, like really delicious. I made chicken drumsticks as if they were hot wings. I deep fried them, then slathered them in a fantastic sauce.

I need to talk about this sauce and why it was so irresistible. It had BBQ sauce, hot sauce, honey, honey mustard, red cider vinegar, and Corona beer. At first, they decided to not gorge on fried food. Three of them shared one drumstick. Then about 3 hours later, there were only 3 drumsticks left.

In between that time, we decided to order spinach pizza. Thin crust pizza with spinach was about as healthy as we could go. I figured since they were all dieting, we’d order a large and there’d be some leftover for me to have lunch the next day. They ate the entire pizza.

I also had a lot of juice in the house. Originally, they were against juice because it has too many calories. But uh…. yeah the juice was all gone when they left too.

My girls are some of my favorite people in the world. And it’s really no trouble to replace everything they ate and drank. But it’s just crazy because I was under the impression they were dieting.

Diet my ass.


Pre-Emptive Marriage Counseling

Why do engaged couples go through counseling before they get married? It’s always mystified me that it’s something that has to be done if you want to get married. Well, it doesn’t have to be done. But the fiancé and I want our pastors to marry us (yes, both of them), so we have to have marriage counseling.

What is marriage counseling when you’re not even married yet? Is it supposed to teach you how to be married? Is it somehow going to magically make all your fights easily resolved and all your love perfectly expressed and all your problems go poof? I doubt it. So what’s the point?

Because we’re crazy people, the fiancé and I have decided to go through marriage counseling with both pastors. They aren’t doing counseling together, so we have to do separate sessions. My pastor is busy and is avoiding phone calls from the fiancé. That means we can’t even schedule with him. Our wedding is in 99 days. I guess we’ll get it done eventually. Maybe sometime next March (which is more than 100 days away…)

His pastor does actually answer the phone, so we’ve got our first session scheduled for next week. I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that we’re basically there to convince him that we both really love Jesus and we both really love marriage. All this depends on his opinion. I need a Convince Your Pastor You Love Jesus and Marriage for Dummies book.

Worst case scenario is that his pastor thinks we’re totally ill-equipped for marriage and should be marrying anybody but each other. That would suck, but at least there’s my pastor. He thinks we are “the most mature couple” he’s counseled in a while. We’ve only had one session with him (before he stopped taking our calls) and it went really well and he’d definitely marry us if the fiancé’s pastor back out.

I’m just tripping. I know my pastor is busy, he’s not screening us. I do have Guns N’ Roses on standby though. And the fiancé’s pastor is likely to think we’ll make a good married couple too. At least we’ll see, next week.