Butterscotch Pony Play


I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again (and again, and again.)  It’s not enough to dance like no one is watching.  You can’t feel okay doing things only when you can do them in seclusion–life isn’t lived in seclusion.  You’ve got to dance like no one is laughing.

I can guarantee you that someone is always going to be laughing at you.  There is always going to be that one twit at the funeral, laughing at how hard you are crying and carrying on*.  There is always going to be that one sour puss, who thinks you need to just sit down and act your age**.  There is always going to be that one jerk making fun of your fashion sense***.  It’s going to happen.  You have to decide to live your life for you, not for the twits, sour pusses, and jerks.  They won’t respect you for changing to suit them anyway.

You know what makes them respect you–not that their respect is worthy of you–but what makes them respect you is when you keep doing you.

The roller skating rink is teaching me a lot of lessons, these days.  It is thrilling to see people of all ages out on wheels, trying tricks, dance moves, and working to see just how fast they can make it around the track.  Everyone falls down.  The best trick skaters fall down right alongside the little kids.  They help each other up, and get going again.

No one laughs.  No one pays any attention to the normal humiliation factor of a fall.  It’s all about the getting up again, and trying to Wobble on wheels, or Shoot the Duck, or just make it around the floor without holding on to something.

It’s all admiration and camaraderie at the roller rink.

So, when that The Weekend song comes on, and I’m out there red-faced, off-center, and singing along that I can’t feel my face, I am truly loving it.  When Chaka Khan comes on, and I’m swinging around backwards to let my backside carry the beat, imaging that my hair is bigger than my shoulders, I am feeling for you, and I DO think I love you.  When Taylor Swift’s is playing, and I am being the Butterscotch Pony Princess, I do truly believe we will never go out of style.  Rapture, babies.  Rapture.  (They never play that song.  No Blondie.  Or Joan Jett.  I’m going to make a request.)

Yeah, someone is in that rink laughing at me, but who cares?  My good time isn’t subject to snark.  My good time is only subject to my own stamina, which is woefully low.

*Me, that one time, when I was 16.  I am so, so, so very sorry.  You will never know how sorry I am.  It weighs on me to this day.
**Also me, those several times.  I’m sorry.
***See above and add some more apologies.

My Son Hits Like a Girl


The Listen to Your Mother Austin, 2015 videos are finally live. 

I am a crier.  You should just know that about me.  I cry when I’m happy.  I cry when I’m grateful.  I cry when I’m touched.  I cry when I think about people I love, or when I’m around them, and I look at their faces for too long.  I cry when I smell my kid’s head–even when it is gross.

Diametrically, I laugh when I’m afraid, or angry.  This has worked to my advantage in a couple of situations, but the whole crying thing is just really embarrassing.

When this video was shot, my mother, my husband, and my son were sitting in the audience.  Three of the six people in my life who make me cry the most out of joy, gratitude, and gross smelling head.  And you know my son takes the top spot.  The good news is that I did not do the sobbing, ugly cry I did when I read the piece to my mom for the first time. 

I’m very proud of this video, regardless of my crying and the unfortunate camera angle, which turned my head and neck into the sock puppet I feared it would.

My parents did the very best they could with me, and my mother put it all out there.  Good, bad, and ugly, my mother was doing her level best with full engagement, and even when it felt overwhelming, that complete investment was the backing for my emotional bank.  I’m still living on the interest earned, with so much left over that it’s part of the trust for my son.

I owe my confidence and ability to stand up in front of a crowd, to read my own writing in the face of instant review to my parents, who were both always sure I was the best singer, writer, actor, or talent in the room.  I’ve since learned they were wrong, but even if I’m not the best, they’ve still got me convinced that I’m good enough.

Without further adieu:

Women Worth Knowing: Meet Katie


Yep.  It’s back!  I’m not making any promises on how often I will be updating the Women Worth Knowing Project profiles, but I can promise you that the women I’ve contacted to join in are all very interesting, very appealing women, who are well worth knowing.

Let’s start with Katie.  One of the things I like best about this project is learning new things about people I might have known for a while.  I haven’t known Katie for very long, so getting to read her Q&A was a real treat.  What I do know is that Katie is the consummate cheerleader, a great encourager of people, and a truly empathetic soul.  You’re going to enjoy meeting her, as much as I am getting to know her.

Meet Katie

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Q: Who are you?

A: Katie Woodmansee

Q: What do the first three hours of your day look like?

A: I get up around 5:40 A.M., hop in the shower, get clean, get out partially dry my hair and put lotion on, occasionally I’ll put makeup on but generally skip that step. Then I decide what to wear for the day, change my mind, and then change my mind again and eventually get dressed. I get my dog up and we have breakfast, and I’ll do a little facebooking or play a game before heading to work. At work, I catch up with my coworkers and do some work!

Q: What about the last hour?

A: The last hour of my day is usually spent getting ready for bed, which can include a quick shower if I’ve been outside or I’ve gone to the gym, or just washing my face, taking my pills, and brushing and flossing my teeth. I make sure the dog goes out before bed, put him in his crate and I’ll get into my bed. I usually listen to an audio book and play a game on my phone before I fall asleep.

Q: What do you do for a living?

A: I am an Instructional Designer for knitters, crocheters and sewists. What this means is I produce web seminars and online learning, working with designers and educators in those fields.

Q: What are you most passionate about?

A: I’m most passionate about social justice, I really think it’s important that all people are treated equally and those of us with privilege understand that privilege and work as an ally to oppressed groups.

Q: What advice would you give your 13 year old self?

A: Everyone is too busy worrying about what they feel is wrong with themselves to be worrying about the things you think are wrong with you. You don’t have to fit in with the people who don’t want to know more about the world. It’s totally okay to be a nerd.

Q: What is the best advice someone else has ever given you?

A: You can’t control how other people feel, you can only influence how you feel about things.

Q: How do you want to be remembered?

A: I would like to be remembered as a person who wasn’t afraid to be herself and encouraged others to be themselves.

kswQ: What advice would you give a young adult about romance?

A: There are so many ways to love people, I think it’s really important to remember that you are a person both inside and outside of a relationship. Find that person who encourages you to keep your identity, rather than a person who wants to merge their identity with yours. There’s so much to be said for being a “you and me” rather than a “we” inside of your relationship. [Ed. This is really great advice!]

Q: What signifies successful in other people, to you? What do you think success looks like?

A: I’m still trying to figure out what I think makes success in other people. I think there’s a lot to be said for financial stability, but there’s also a lot to be said for looking at someone and knowing that that person is mostly happy with their life.

Q: What makes you feel successful?

A: I feel successful when someone tells me they really appreciate something I’ve said or done to help them out with their problems or just makes them feel good about themselves.

Q: What makes you happy?

A: Happiness is a warm puppy?, Okay maybe not entirely, but my happiest moments involve laughing with people who really understand my sense of humor, my family, being outside, seeing something new, and hanging out with animals.

Q: Where do you go from here? What’s next in your life?

A: The ultimate question. I don’t entirely know right now, I finished graduate school a year ago and I’m working which is great, but probably not the job I want to keep forever. I know I’d like to find a man who makes me laugh and feel good about myself. I might go back to school at some point for a PhD. In the immediate future I’m working on getting back in shape and enjoying my life.

Q: Who are the women who have made the most impact in your world?

A: There are so many women who have had huge impacts on my life. My mom (of course) is a constant inspiration, who will never ever know how awesome she is and who has taught me how important it is to be passionate. My older sister who I have always looked up to and who has always shown me how much she loves me. My maternal grandmother who taught me negativity can hurt relationships. I’ve also been incredibly fortunate to find myself around women who believe in me at various points in my life. I’m constantly amazed by these women, a former boss and friend, friends from college, and friends I’ve never met in real life, who constantly lift me up and remind me how important friendships are.

The Mid and Me!


It is my great pleasure to finally get to share the essay I wrote about my mom for Listen To Your Mother, Austin.  You can read it in its entirety on The Mid.  Somehow I missed the original posting (and that should tell you how crazy my life has been lately) but better late than never, right?  Such a great honor to have the essay posted on a site I like so well!

Please go give The Mid and my mother some love…

My mother was an athlete. She played baseball so well that she was scouted by a major league team, who thought the Jo Young they kept hearing about was a Joseph, not a Joan. The scout told her coach it was a damn shame she wasn’t a boy, because he would have recruited the multitalented girl. She was a shortstop phenom, who could hit a home run from a crouched position and play catcher like she was Johnny Bench.

Like a Really Old Virgin


My introduction to Madonna was hearing Jennifer W signing Like A Virgin in P.E. class in 7th grade.  Dawn S giggled at her and said, “Aw! You don’t even know what a virgin is!”  I knew what a virgin was because I had read Forever, by Judy Blume.  I was scandalized!  And intrigued.

I was back to be scandalized pretty quickly after realizing Madonna was wearing her underwear on top of her clothes.  I liked Cyndi Lauper better anyway, and everyone knew you had to pick one, or the other.  It was like Wham! and Duran Duran.  You had to choose.  Since I was a decade away from the escandalo news that She Bop was about masturbation, and because I loved Time After Time, Lauper was my girl.

It also had to do with the fact that Lauper always looked like she was having fun in her videos.  Madonna always looked like work, to me.

I fell headfirst into girl crushes on artists like Debbie Harry, Terri Nunn, the women of TLC, and En Vogue, Annie Lennox, Natalie Merchant, and Jane Wiedlin, and now and then, I would flirt with the idea of Madonna.  But still, it looked exhausting to be Madonna.

Today, I finally got around to watching her new video, B*tch, I’m Madonna.  It was embedded in an article pointing out her age, and her age-inappropriateness.  The article suggested that she dresses too youthfully, she isn’t dignified, and she’s trying too hard to prove she’s still attractive.  Listen, the last time Madonna ever looked dignified was when Kurt Loder was interviewing her for the MTV Awards, and she had to hiss at Courtney Love–and that was just Madonna looking dignified in comparison.

Why do people expect dignity from an artist in the first place?  Art isn’t dignified.  Why would you expect dignity out of Madonna ever?  Remember, she made the Bra as Outwear mainstream fashion.  This is not a woman who will ever teach Cotillion.

Also, have you seen her body?  At 56, she’s got more going on than half of the world, half her age.  Why shouldn’t she dress provocatively?  Why is that gross?  Is it because she might be signaling a desire to have sexual relations?  I mean, we’re always hearing that women who dress like that are “asking for it.”  Is it gross because a 56 year old woman might be still be in the market for the same things she enjoyed 20 years prior?

Madonna’s got nothing to prove when it comes to being attractive.  The woman is hot.  The fact that I almost wrote, “The woman is still hot,” gives a lot away.  We have an expectation that after a certain age, attractive women will transition from Hot to Still Hot, which is a more appropriate description.  Like bananas go from unripe, to ripe, to still ripe, to still edible, to what-the-hell-is-that-omg-it-was-a-banana!

Madonna defies your “still ripe” label.  She will be “ripe” until she tells you otherwise.  You don’t get to put your labels on Madonna because she’s such an expert at packaging and marketing herself.  Madonna will tell you when she’s ready for you to see her as something other than the Material Girl, and you will like it.

We don’t look to Madonna for propriety.  We look to Madonna to show us the way, and to tell us how it is going to be.  And that’s why it always looks like work.  Madonna is a teacher.  Madonna isn’t the playground lady like Cyndi Lauper, or the classroom aide like Terri Nunn, or the fun art/music teacher like Debbie Harry, or the brilliant librarian like Annie Lennox.  Madonna is the in-your-face classroom instructor, clearing away the jungles of gender-role-based ignorance with her razor edged, cone shaped bras.

Madonna shows you the future.  She shows you the possibility.  She shows you what it looks like and inures you to it so that when Britney, and Beyonce, and Katy Perry, and Miley come marching out from behind her, you already know why it works.  And she doesn’t apologize for it.

She is everything your patriarchy tells you is wrong with women.  She is brash.  She is bold.  She is in control of, and exercising control over her sexuality.  She sees herself as equal to women of all ages, and does not see herself as less desirable because of her age.  She is a strong, savvy business owner.  She is dedicated to fitness.  She is independently wealthy and does not need marriage (because needing and wanting are different things.)  And she is good at her life.

She still looks like a lot of work to me, but she’s work worth doing because she has never pretended to be anything she isn’t.

Why?

B*tch, she’s Madonna.