Magic Mike: Take 2

If you get a chance, read this blog –

Pardon the snark, it’s just I’ve had about 27.34 years too much of discussing sex in the terms of my religion, and I. Am. Tiiiiiiired. In fact, it’s a wonder I’m not in counseling at this point. Though that is next.

It seems the overwhelming popularity of exactly TWO recent media/pop culture events (“Magic Mike,” hereafter abbreviated as MM, and “50 Shades of Grey/Gray/whatever”) have left the Christian community split. There’s the sex (oops! I meant to type “set”) that says “Yeah! It’s totally awesome that Channing Tatum is taking his clothes off, as if he DOESN’T do that in EVERYOTHERMOVIEHEWASINEVER”, and then there’s the set left quivering in a cold sweat, in the corner, pacing around at the downfall of women, the apparent last bastion of chastity. What’s that show? “Teen Mom?” Nevermind.

I wasn’t a virgin when I got married. In fact, if the 16 yr. old virgin version (say that 10 times fast) could have had coffee with the 22 yr. old non-virgin-version of myself, the 16 yr. old version would have been hasty to heed the standard (albeit humorous) advice to “get thee to a nunnery.” Someone tell me where that reference originated, because I have long since forgotten where I heard it, but I never stop giggling at it. Anyhow, I wasn’t a virgin. Incidentally, neither was my husband, so don’t feel too bad for him for marrying a whore like me. Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t the WORST people on the face of the planet, by traditional standards. But we weren’t “pure” either – because apparently in the minds of a great many of my Christian brethren, having sex one time before marriage – or 5 or 50 or whatever your “number” is – is actually worse than any number of other sins you could commit. Ritual disembowelment of a litter of kittens comes to mind, but be creative. Sex is the worst sin evaaaar, no matter if the Bible says all sins are equal in the eyes of God. Nope, it’s gotta be sex (I’m being sarcastic here). Let’s trumpet that right to the top of our talking points and then talk about it all the freaking time until we have a nice, happy group of perfect people (or at least, people who lie about their past and their struggles, and hide all of the insecurity that produces), and we scare off all the imperfect ones! Yeah, that’s a way to make sure this 2,000 year old religion just keeps right on trucking!

Again, I know this all sounds terrible – really, I do. But I am exhausted. You know, the guilt issues I dealt with, particularly at the start of my marriage, were a

big hurdle to jump. I mean huge. The only two things that got me through it without me completely leaving the church were a) the acceptance of my husband, who married me – baggage and all – and has completely and endlessly kept his promise to love me and support me, and b) the Grace of my Savior. SO if you want to judge me, think I’m a terrible person, laugh at me, shoot me evil looks, you go right on ahead. My friends, if my struggles cause you one moment of feeling like you’re better than me somehow, you’ve got this whole thing wrong.

My struggles make ME better, because through each one I know that God is with me and that I have surrounded myself with people who matter and who make me better. So really, you go ahead.

Anyhow, back to the articles in question:

  • For all my ranting about the oversaturation of discussions of and attention focused on SEX ( sex sex sex sex sex sex…), particularly within the church, I do agree with some of Melissa’s points in her blog. I have this friend who is a big proponent of orgasms and how they are the pathway to better marriages and better health – and she’s pretty much right. Ask Dr. Oz! It’s proven stuff, people! It’s just like with these preachers who make major media news for advocating that couples have sex “for 40 nights straight” (not continuously, just…ya know…per night). I think there’s even a TV show like that now, where a couple is challenged to do the durtydurty every night for a week or two. So when Melissa says people would probably be better off forwarding that money for a MM/50 Shades hoorah towards instead indulging in some sexy lingerie to enjoy with their hubby, or chocoalte-covered strawberries (or whatever you’re into, I don’t know and don’t care), she is kind of right. Why NOT enjoy that resource with your husband AND get yourself a “happy ending?” It’s not like Channing Tatum or Christian Gray/Grey (really, don’t care how his name is spelled) is going to appear in reality and take care of your needs. It’s not happening, ladies.
  • I should again divulge, just for clarity and disclosure’s sake, that I have neither read the full text of “50 Shades” or seen the movie “Magic Mike.” I have, however, read a small excerpt of “50 Shades” and it’s the most godawful piece of trash ever. And not because it’s S&M, because it’s honestly – from my understanding of S&M – not even bonafide S&M, but rather some softened-up offshoot of S&M. But really, if you like having your hair pulled or whatever you’re into, just tell your man. I’m sure he’ll help you out. No need to put yourself through 300+ pages of poorly written, dumbed-down, psuedo-prose to get brief, meaningless intellectual sex-jollies that will end in…pffft. Nothing. Again – there’s no happy ending!! 
  • The whole “Mommy Porn” thing? I don’t get. I’m a mommy, and you know what is absolutely, stunningly, provocative and completely titillating to me? When I walk in the kitchen and my husband says “Hey hot stuff, don’t you worry with those dishes, I took care of them.” That. Is. HOT. It’s called “choreplay,” men. Study up. Other things way sexier than Channing Tatum being shirtless: My husband being an awesome dad, massaging that knot in my back for me (for the 11th time – I get really bad knots in my neck/back), or raving about how much he enjoyed the lasagna I made for dinner, or congratulating me on my pull-up form at the gym. We’re still dating in a lot of ways, and that’s fun. It’s the simple things, but they build a life that I love.
  • I think the church needs to stop putting sex up as the ultimate sin. We hear all the time about lives ruined by premarital sex, but do we hear about the marriages ruined by the issues cultivated from a lifetime of this constant “Sex is Bad” religion monologue that is so steadily fed to us that it’s sometimes hard to cut it off and say “Oh, I’m married now – so it’s go time!” Yeah, well, I personally know people whose marriages have barely gotten off the ground because they just never were able to get comfortable with the idea that sex wasn’t bad. And that’s almost worse – that someone waited and held out and then got married and still felt overwhelmingly guilty about having sex with their spouse. Sure, I’ve heard people argue that some language in the bible suggests otherwise, and that it is indeed of the utmost importance. I’m not countering its importance – I’m countering its importance ABOVE ALL OTHER sins. I sometimes think maybe it’s our (the church and its body) favorite thing to talk about because we all have some big fuzzy issues to deal with when it comes to Christianity and sexuality.
That’s really all I wanted to say, but I also wanted to share that after her post blew up and became quite a sensation (in blog terms anyway), Melissa wrote another piece that I liked even better. I know, you’re probably reading this blog and saying “You ranted this much and you LIKED the piece?” Yeah, I did. I rant. That’s what I do. It’s in the blog description, so don’t act shocked. I like Melissa’s blog because she’s pretty real about stuff – I especially liked that she’s on a 40-day make-up fast. I can think of nothing better for this country’s current insanity/”culture” than if women ALL went sans make-up for a week. Talk about leveling the playing field. But that’s neither here nor there.

If you want to get some really interesting reading, check out the HUGE comments sections at the bottom of the blogs linked. I promise you I’m not the only Christian woman who has some issues to contend with – we’re all here. We’re all a mish-mash of things. Sexy, guilty, lonely, overjoyed, used up (or users ourselves), full of faults, full of hope, depressed, addicted, amazed, disappointed, sick, healed, and just plain confused. Anyone who tells you they have this stuff figured out – be it life, marriage, motherhood, or Christianity – is LYING TO YOU. Don’t believe them. Believe this: We are all imperfect. Jesus didn’t come to save perfect people. He came to save dirtbags like me and you.

A vacation, a wedding, a stogie, and a dive bar mullet.

*Pictures at bottom

I wanted to write a blog real quick before we went out of town for our vacation, but alas, doing five loads of laundry and procrastinating on packing until approximately 15 minutes before leaving won’t exactly lend itself to efficient blogging technique. *sigh*

We’re back from our vacation, and tomorrow morning, Jonathan returns to work after a full TWELVE days out of the office (and yes, that includes non-business days, but seriously TWELVE DAYS! Bahahaha). I shouldn’t gloat too much, because in truth, we almost always end up working for our vacation. For one thing, I’m not sure you can really relax all that much when you’re carting around a nearly two year old kid and all the accouterments required to keep him from spontaneously combusting. For another thing, nothing ever goes the way we expect it to or plan for it to. Nuh-uh.

We headed out the night of June 28th, getting out of the door a solid two hours later than we’d planned – which meant we arrived just before midnight, with a wide awake Russ ready to go play “Pee Pong” upstairs. We got him settled down for the night, slept well, and enjoyed a quiet first day at the lake before our family arrived. All told, there were 12 of us at one point, including both my brothers, my older brothers kids, my oldest niece’s boyfriend who had traveled with them, my parents, and my aunt. It was a wonderful week, only breaking a few heat records that first weekend with highs of 107 or so. The good thing with that is you can just spray yourself down with the hose or hop in the lake, and of course the inside of the house is pretty fun, too – so you can always just hang out there if you get sunburned or overheated. Russ did well and we lathered him in sunscreen religiously.

While we were there, my niece’s boyfriend got inducted into the family in a few of our predictably peculiar ways – you must go bow-fishing, you must skin a catfish, you must at least *attempt* wakeboarding, etc. If you don’t leave the lake house so exhausted, tanned, stinky, and sore that you need another vacation just to recoup, you’re clearly doin’ it wrong.

So we finished up with that part of our trip on Thursday the 5th and promptly headed back to Greenville, where we unpacked, repacked, and dropped Rocky and Russ off at Jonathan’s parents’ house. I hated to leave the little guy (Russ, that is), but at almost 22 months old, it is HIGH time that his daddy and I had an “alone trip” somewhere – and the wedding of the best man from our wedding (and our good friend) seemed a great opportunity for that. Besides, I’d been forewarned to bring high heels, a short dress, and no bedtime to the post-wedding celebration – you can’t hang like that when you have a toddler. Russ would have to have a snuggly, fun-filled, sleep-schedule-screwing-up weekend with his grandparents. I’m sure cookies were involved.

Fun Thing #1: I’ve never been to West Virginia or Ohio. So when we couldn’t find a hotel to stay at in basically either state (without driving 50+ miles off-course), we were a bit freaked out. Apparently nobody in West Virginia had power, so every hotel at every exit looked like a soccer convention was in town. We ended up finding a room at the same inn we were schedule to party at Saturday after the wedding – so on to Lancaster, Ohio we drove. Until 2 am.

When we woke up at 9 am Friday morning, the first thing we wanted was the midwestern delicacy which has become increasingly hard to find back in the Southern states: Bob Evans. That stuff is a delicious heart attack waiting to happen, but I don’t care. Nothing 100 burpees can’t undo, right? Another thing we don’t have in the South: Tim Horton’s. That stuff is pretty awesome, but after giving it two honest chances, I must say that I still prefer Starbucks. Hate me if you will.

Fun Thing #2: On the way up to Lancaster, we encountered a creepy bridge on the Ohio-West Virginia border. I cannot explain to you what it was, but something said (quite loudly) in my head to G.T.F.O. Jonathan chuckled at my discomfort, but I actually said to him “This is like that freaky bridge from Mothman Prophecies or something.” Ha. Yeah. That WAS the bridge. Looked it up later and was amazed to find that my intuition was actually (for once) onto something. My dad says that “I have a feeling” crap is a genetic defect from my mom’s side of the family, and he’s probably right – but I’ll tell you one thing, Point Pleasant, West Virginia will never be an alluring place for me to go visit for extended periods of time. Just a drive through is more than enough for me, thank you very much.

Fun Thing #3: The gorgeous Chillicothe, OH wedding of our dear friend Josh Norman and his fabulous bride Bri Bowers. It was a lovely occasion, complete with beautiful hand-written vows, Bri’s exceptional flair for creative design (and an ombre scheme of sorbet colors), the most beautiful custom-made bridal gown I think I’ve ever seen, and a wedding party chock-full of awesome people. I mean, really you couldn’t ask for more than that. But it was a HOT one Saturday…after the wedding, the groundskeeper at the mansion and gardens where the ceremony and brief reception took place informed us that it had been 128 degrees on the outdoor thermometer at the time of the wedding. Don’t tell me love ain’t grand.

Fun Thing #4: Oh my gosh, I LOVE the people I hung out with this weekend. You know, coming into a state I’ve never been to, a city I’ve never visited, and meeting all these new people – well, I just didn’t know what to expect. But seriously, we had the best time. Saturday night after the wedding, several of us congregated back at the 1940s-style downtown hotel/restaurant and had a glam little dinner together. I had my first mojito (which I discovered I freaking LOVE those things), we took hilarious Mad Men-style pictures in the vintage bar room, and we then infiltrated a local pub. It was a lot of fun. In the case of the bar, I’m not sure the Lancaster natives knew just what to make of us. Between the guitar-playing “Drunkle” (new term we coined – you heard it here first) who asked the bride and groom for their names no less than three times and the local guy who kept walking up to girls in our group only to chicken out and turn right back around – well, it was funny. Actually, Jonathan himself said “Well, this is a bar fight waiting to happen.” But really, it was just a great time. We celebrated the happy couple and also just enjoyed our new friends. Before the night was over, the possibility of staging a reunion next year at the lake house had come up – which is how you KNOW I really enjoyed the company. I don’t invite people I don’t like to the lake, after all.

Despite meeting up for a morning brunch before going our separate ways (cinnamon rolls that were pretty famous, and for good reason), the drive back was not super pleasant. I’m just being honest, but West Virginia seems like the longest state ever. I know it’s not that big, but I was wondering if we’d ever get out of there. By the time we North Carolina, Jonathan and I were snapping at each other and I was more than ready to hold my little boy. We were tired, I hadn’t peed in a non-truck-stop in 10 hours…it was just time to be off the road.

And that’s how you know you’ve had a good vacation. Sitting on a beach, drinking fruity cocktails sounds great, don’t get me wrong – I really do plan to do that one of these days. But right now, time is just too finite. I’m going to soak it up while I can.

And now, for pictures…

Dad, still pretty much killing it at age 55. Yay, genetics! I hope that continues…

Me and my little bear. 🙂

Flying baby!

What else would you expect?

(L-R) Dad, me, Russ, and my brothers Kerry and Jake

AWESOME lightning pic Jill managed to capture after a few tries.

 He’s cute. I know it.

Painting the small town of Lancaster, Ohio with my girl Aimee. 

Pics with the bride at the dinner/after party