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Friday, October 1, 2010

Gender Bender

Gender roles can be a real son of a bitch; dating back to the roles that were defined in the Bible and Greek Mythology and then they got a modern twist with the advent of television- how males and females are “suppose” to act can totally mess with your head and make life even more complicated.
Take for example making my relationship with my husband work: Brian and I naturally seem to prescribe to so few of the typical male/female gender roles; I’m aggressive and pushy while he leans to the patient and understanding side. I have this deep desire to pick high focus careers that hopefully bring home big bacon while B’s choice is flexible, functional and besides perhaps not being a huge money maker totally conducive to rearing a family. So where you ask is the problem? The problem arises when these outside forces creep into our otherwise happy love nest and fuck with our heads.
I’m often confronted, when talking to other men, at just how much more my husband does around the house- he cooks, cleans, and walks the dog (our equivalent of child rearing) which makes him a source of pride in my eyes. Yet when I describe his domestic side to a lot of other men its not more than 2 minutes before some bodies brow gets furrowed and a snide remark about pants and whose wearing them is made.
But it’s not just men, recently I’ve been banding around the idea that I might go to law school and one of the more popular questions asked by women is “but if you go to school and then get a job, when will you have kids?” Don’t get me wrong I’ve asked this to both myself and Brian many times and there is no easy answer but something we’ve both realized is that B would be very happy to stay home and take command of the fort.
For us it could be a perfect compromise, I have to give birth to the baby but B’s job is way more flexible so he can stay home and watch it! This is a hard pill for some woman to swallow, again the brows furrow and confusion washes over their faces- why would I plan to leave the child rearing to my husband- how my husband could volunteer to do this is even more baffling, the look on their faces always reads…what’s wrong with us?
This is just one specific example of gender bending for us but I could make this blog five pages long with all the ways I don’t seem to fit the prescribed role of wife and maybe even mother. I would love to brag about how awesome and secure with myself I am, how I’m so un-bothered by this but the truth is I find myself questioning this part of my identity all the time!
Some of the gender roles are easy to laugh off and others seem to becoming from with in which means either those images we see in society are based on real desires or I watched way too many Saturday morning cartoons as a kid. I find myself in a bit of a chicken and the egg situation, and it makes it hard sometimes to prioritize what it is I’m supposed to be figuring out!
Recently I read an article in Newsweek magazine titled “Man Up”, written by two male writers whose argument is that the very nature of gender identity for men needs to change in order for them to prosper. As more and more “typical” blue collar male jobs get outsourced the need for men to transition into the work force in public service oriented jobs (previously more thought of as “woman’s” work) is crucial to the growth of not only the economy but our culture. The domino effect of changing what is woman’s professional work and what is man’s professional work is that it also opens itself to changing the image of motherhood and fatherhood and maybe even god forbid the idea of a stay at home dad.
There are a lot of things about me I don’t know! What I do know is that I am better driver than my husband, I’m more likely to get into a bar fight, that I despise on a deep, deep level having to do dishes, deplore laundry and I find the idea of staying home with only a baby as company not the least bit appealing but I know that this does not make me love my husband any less or lessen my desire for kids…crazy!

Friday, September 24, 2010

IT'S NOT EASY BEING GREEN!

I hate money and most everyone I know hates money too! Its basic text book psych to know where my hatred comes from: I grew up poor and money has been a constant pain my ass since about age 8. I know, I know, it seems very hip and cool lately to brag about your meager upbringing, ever more obvious these days as J Crew comes out with 200 dollar ripped and stained jeans that somehow manages to glamorize poverty and not owning a working washing machine but I swear I really did grow up with no money.
There are a lot of reasons we never had any money- my dad was seriously injured and forced to quit his good paying job, a bevy of bad addictions made things worse and least of all is that my parents never seemed too concerned with a budget. So when part of the roof of our house collapsed and there was no money to fix it a large plastic tarp was used to cover up the gaping whole, this wouldn’t be so bad but I grew up in Seattle where the average yearly rain fall could easily flood a large rec. room…and it did! My childhood home become a wasteland, a very public proof of our poverty, it was obvious from its bad wiring that gave you a little shock every time you touched metal to the mounds of garbage that seemed to fill every corner- we were broke.
It was gruesome, ugly and sad. A total buzz kill.
It also left me in a hot mess of a relationship with dollar, dollar bills; I had the farthest thing from a fairytale childhood but money is the one thing I feel like I actually think I need therapy for!
It continues to have this larger than life status in my mind because I can’t seem to get my head around what I want from it. When I was a child, teen and into college I felt I deserved a grand lifestyle of designer clothes and exotic vacations and so drunk of the power of my first credit card I began to give myself that life style. I lived far outside my means (which wasn’t hard to do) and racked up charges buying Kate Spade purses and Juicy Couture underwear! Thankfully my credit card only had a limit of 800 dollars but I still managed to not pay the bill and get it sent to collections.
After living in Los Angeles I realize that the old adage of “money doesn’t buy happiness” is true, most rich people in L.A. are miserable and I wasn’t much happier myself when I was filling my closet with stuff- more stuff definitely didn’t make me more happy and so I covet that type of life style less and less.
However living a lifestyle I can afford hasn’t released me from my struggles with money. It’s not as though I live in paralyzed fear, I’m not settling for a job that pays well but I hate because it brings home the bacon- no my delusion runs deeper than that: I’m actually crazy enough to want to do something I love and make a reasonable wage off it.
My dysfunctional relationship with money is re-enforced by the world around me, this blog was inspired by an NPR story I heard that entailed an interview with high fluting college professor who stated my generation is the most entitled generation yet to be seen and why you ask? For wanting the very thing I covet, to make money off something that makes me happy- apparently that is something for the fortunate (i.e. already rich) and the rest of us need to fall in line.
I have no simple solution to sum this blog up, my guess is this is an ongoing dialogue to have but I wonder how are others handling paying for a grown up lifestyle while still trying to figure out how to be a grown up? Are we an entitled generation?
Questions, questions???

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Return from Oz

Return from Oz…
In 8 short weeks I am about to leave my current life in techno-color and head back to the other side of the rainbow, back to black and white…back home.
Home for me and my husband is Seattle, the place inaccurately known for its daily rain and high suicide rate. Oz, for us, would be Los Angeles and after exactly three years of living right below the famous Hollywood sign my husband and I are loading up the U-haul to once more time make the trek back up the interstate 5; and while no wicked witches were killed and sadly no munchkins met, this girl is still clicking her heels three times while whispering “there’s no place like home!”
Some quick background: my husband (now) boyfriend (then) decided three years ago to move to LA because I was an actress and he is a writer and LA is where you go to pursue such things. Italics and bold was and is because currently I couldn’t tell you what I want to be, let alone who I am. All I know is that I am a 26 year old female who is about as certain to what her future holds as the Mariners are about their 2011 season! My husband however is still actively pursuing his writing career, still actively using that 100,000 dollar education we both received!
I’m the one who is abandoning the life plan and the ironic thing is- I love plan, I MADE the plan! Before we moved to LA, it was me who was always so confident and full of plans; ask anyone who knew me pre-LA and I would have seemed so sure of myself, so determined in my career choice, but here’s the thing you can’t possibly know when you’re 23…YOU DON’T KNOW SHIT!
That’s why I decided to write this blog, I’ve had enough conversations with women my age and older to know that nobody can prepare you for the reality that is your life. Plans change, desires change and most importantly people change.
So my hope in leaving OZ (besides it being nothing like the scary, scary movie) is maybe being surrounded by the familiar will jog my memory about that confident (albeit na├»ve) girl who was so sure of herself before she saw the world in color! I hope to share some stories, hear some stories and overall get this shit out of my head while ultimately asking the question…I’m supposed to being doing what???