Let’s talk about sex.  Here’s a story from a woman at work that I heard during our holiday party yesterday:

My kids aren’t allowed to say “sex” or “sexy” or any of that.  But they’ll find it in games — I don’t know why, it’s always the games — and they’ll come running, “Mommy! Mommy! This game has a bad word in it!  Should we take the card out?” […]  And then [child] the other day was like, “Mom, what does S-E-X mean?” and I was like Oh, crap! “It means like whether you’re a boy or a girl.”  [Co-worker asks how old child is.]  He’s 8.  Seems a little young to know about all of that.

It is not my place to tell you what to teach your child and when to do it, but you’d better believe I am going to judge.  This poor child is going to be sexually mature within the next decade, and he will have spent at least the first decade of his life thinking that “sex” and all things associated with it are bad and forbidden like other (actually) bad words.  Talk about baggage.  In some part of his mind, that’s going to stick with him for decades.

There are definitely things you are slowly initiated into over time, like your knowledge of sex.  My family was one in which your questions were answered.  Anatomically, with hand-drawn diagrams of various organs that could take over the dinner table, food half-forgotten.  I really appreciate that in retrospect.  Sex was what brought about babies.  I could understand that.  I could understand the body parts I had and the body parts male bodies had and how they worked together, which at least made sense logically, although it did seem a little sketchy where motivation was concerned.

I do remember, though, one Christmas when one of my cousins was in town and she was telling a story and stopped suddenly and was like, “Wait, do your kids know about sex?” to my mom.  And my mom answered, “Yes, but they think we’ve only done it three times.”

My mind was blown.

The idea that people would have sex to have sex and not for babies was confusing.  And I had previously believed all sex lead to a baby, so I was not sure why I only had two siblings if my parents had had sex more than three times.

I remember the “Joy of Sex” books on one of our bookcases, although I’m not sure I ever pulled them out.  I remember trying to look up “oral sex” in the dictionary with a friend because I had a puberty/sex book that mentioned but did not explain it.  I remember totally wanting to avoid the topic completely for most of my teens because I knew I wasn’t thinking about sex in the same way as everything had informed me I would (spoiler alert: totally gay).

Everyone has a different journey growing up and learning about sex.  But I really feel for that 8-year-old, who either doesn’t know how to pronounce S-E-X as a word or feels so much shame around it that it must be spelled.  Puberty is going to hit that kid hard.


25 by 25: Completion

Today is my 25th birthday. I would like to report that I completed by 25 by 25 list.  Here is a post giving evidence to that fact.

A few reminders about this: not everything happened in the last year.  This list is half a bucket list for my 24th year, half a bucket list for my first quarter-century of life.  Additionally, the list changed a little throughout the year, especially in the last six months as it became apparent that some things would be impossible.  I never replaced a task with something I had already done, so I think that’s legal.

1. Go streaking

This happened senior year of high school.  We were having a senior marching band girls sleepover.  We may or may not have wound up naked on the marching band field, performing our show (singing, no instruments).

The singular almost-proof picture

The singular almost-proof picture


2. Go skinny dipping

Eh, this one is almost a freebie.  This has happened a couple of times.  I’m convinced it’s inevitable when you spend large amounts of time next to and on a lake.


3. See Pacific ocean

When I wrote this list, I was in a job I didn’t like and I intended to stay in that job until the summer, quit, take a month long road trip that would involve a train to Seattle, a leg down the coast, and coming back up Route 66.  That was how I was going to see the Pacific ocean.  Instead, in October, I quit my job.  A week or two into unemployment, I had a new offer, so I took an impulse trip to visit my friend Gwen in Vancouver in my remaining unemployed time.  Vancouver happens to be on the West coast.

Not the ocean, but from the same trip

Not the ocean, but from the same trip

Recently, my dad informed me that I had already seen the Pacific ocean on a vacation we took when I was in 4th grade.


4. Take a road trip

In a desperate attempt to cram everything in prior to today given a lack of time off, I decided to make Labor Day weekend a Road Trip weekend.  My dad came with me, and it was awesome.  We went out to the Badlands and Rushmore and the Black Hills.

In the Badlands

In the Badlands


5. Get a cat

I guess I had two cats when I wrote this list, but one of them was very new to me.  And the other one is my heart cat.

Seriously, how can you resist?

Seriously, how can you resist?


6. Lose the v card

Check! (2010, for those who question whether it was a this-year goal.)


7. Learn to wakeboard

Wakeboarding is my absolute favorite thing to do in the world.  There is no way it could not be on this list.

Tearing it up

Tearing it up


8. Learn to drive

Yeah, I did that.  I just remember the whole process being painful.  Explicitly, I remember driving to the lake with the whole family in the car one night in the pouring rain and having a stubborn match with the parental whose side of the family is known for stubbornness.  First, I wanted to quit and the parental wanted me to keep going.  Then eventually with much yelling and crying and stuff, the parental wanted me to quit and I wanted to keep going.  I don’t really remember the details.  I just remember being relieved when I was switched out of the driver’s seat.  Plus, like, I learned to drive, so water under the bridge, you know?

Me and Ted, my car

Me and Ted, my car


9. Go to casino

I went to the casino in like late winter/early spring, and I came back with a return of 110%.  How?  I played a slot machine until I won, no matter how small, and quit.  It was great.  I won like a buck on the ten I put in.

Winnings voucher!

Winnings voucher!


10. Go to valley fair

Valley Fair is the Six Flags of Minnesota, since apparently it is not cool enough to have its own Six Flags like every other part of the country.  I went with my friend Emily this summer.  It was fine and stuff.  Average theme park.

Cats should be allowed at theme parks.


11. Go to concert

Prior to this year, I had never been to a non-classical concert.  My friend Jen and I went to see The Backstreet Boys.  Which always should have been my first concert.  Just maybe 12-14 years ago.

We were instructed to "Scream like you're 15 again!"

We were instructed to “Scream like you’re 15 again!”


12. Make french silk pie

My friend Brian and I made a french silk pie when I visited him in March(?).  It was disgusting.  I will never be using that recipe ever again.

All pie except that pie. That pie we made was gross.


13. Go berry picking, make jam

This was a thing I did right before my 24th birthday, so it practically counted, right?

Yummy yummy

Yummy yummy


14. Buzz head

Again, technically I did this just before my 24th birthday, but my 24th year involved actually living with that buzzed head and all the growing out phases following that.

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15. Go to (college) homecoming

My first year out of undergrad, I missed it so badly that it was too painful to go back to campus until the spring, and even then, the few times I did go down there, I mostly met up with friends in town rather than actually hang around campus.  So for my 25 by 25, I made it a goal to go to the formal Homecoming Weekend.  It was a lot of fun.  I enjoyed being on campus in a new, graduated adult role.

Um Ya Ya!

Um Ya Ya!


16. Go to Mount Rushmore

This happened on my road trip with my dad.  Admittedly, it determined the location goal of said road trip.  Anyway, Rushmore’s pretty cool.

Four heads?  I think it needs a fifth.

Four heads? I think it needs a fifth.


17. Get published

I have been published twice.

Once, in middle school, I submitted an article about a friend of mine for New Moon magazine’s (link: https://www.newmoon.com/magazine/) Beautiful Girls issue.  It was selected.  This has been a huge embarrassment both then and ever since because 1) they did not keep a single word of what I actually wrote and 2) I was soooo crushing on this friend and had no idea, but I knew then that it wasn’t normal, so it was weird then, and it’s weird now because it’s one of my cringe-worthy early gayball stories.

The second time I was published was in the Electronic Journal of Linear Algebra.  You can read (or try to, anyway) that article here:


 So FYI, I am a published mathematician.  For now and forever.


18. Finish quilt

I finished my t-shirt quilt in junior(?) year of college.  It was a huge endeavor.  It took me many years.  I am very proud of it.  Somehow, despite the 42 squares on this quilt, I still have too many t-shirts.

No bed has these proportions

No bed has these proportions


19. Play ukelele

I bought a ukelele this year and learned to play it.  I love it.  I have tried to have skype jam sessions with two people now.  Those are less successful than the ukelele in general.

Ukelele involves singing. Cats are not invited.


20. Wildcard – anything you’ve never done before

I have no idea what I intended for this.  Here are some things I did for the first time this year: go to a Dakota, take ownership for a database, join Instagram, tweet, run a 5K without walking, buy a bridesmaid’s dress, use a 3D printer, hire a house-sitter, and break a bone.

Radial neck fracture.  And a busted up face.

Radial neck fracture. And a busted up face.


21. Visit Megan

I visited Megan on a whim in April and then again this summer after her surgery.  Both times we got Brahm’s.  I have concluded that the presence of Brahm’s is Texas’s greatest redeeming factor.

Brahm's, bitches

Brahm’s, bitches


22. Go to Europe

Did this prior to this year.  I went to London in high school with band, and then studied abroad in Budapest in college.  I also visited Prague and Amsterdam on the study abroad trip.

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23. Do a shot

I had never done a shot prior to this year.  DO NOT MOCK ME.  There is nothing wrong with not being stupid.  Anyway, I had some purple thing the same night I went to the casino with Jen.  It was fine.  Nobody died.  I see no reason to avoid or repeat the experience.

This is what I drank.

This is what I drank.


24. Make a real live used webpage

I think this was a late addition, because that job I started in November was doing web development.  And I wanted to be useful enough on the team that I was actually developing web stuff.  My first application got released sometime this spring.  Unfortunately, it is behind a login that y’all don’t have access to, so I can’t show it off.

Workin’ hard. Look at that 25-year-old maturity.


25. Ride a motorcycle

My friend Jen (boy, she was quite the accomplice for this list) said she would take me on her motorcycle.  It was terrifying.  And exciting.  Mostly terrifying.  I think I prefer jet skis — same effect, lower risks.

Riding into year 25!

Riding into year 25!

Why Photography Really is an Interpretive Art

Let’s talk about pap smears.  This is going to be one of those posts that makes Brian blush beet red (I don’t really care for beets) and my mother raise her eyebrow in the condescending way that says, “My numerous years of wisdom can’t believe you just put that on the internet.”  But yes, Mom, I am putting it on the internet for all to read: I, APPARENTLY, HAVE AN OFF-CENTER CERVIX.  Thank you for that genetic gift.

Anyway, yesterday I went in to my doctor and got a pap smear — excuse me, “yearly physical.”  I found out that’s this office’s particular euphemism, because when I requested my appointment online, the text field for my reason for the appointment was not big enough to put in “make sure all my lady parts are up to snuff” so I just said “pap” and then one of the office minions wrote me back and was like, “Do you want just the pap or your whole yearly physical?” And my honest answer to that is “Does it cost more if you push on my tummy some?  Because I don’t mind that part.”  But instead I just said I wanted my yearly physical.

So anyway, that was yesterday.  And I went to my normal doctor, because I also needed my tetanus booster because it had been a full decade since the last time I was hit with that particular one, and so I was like, “Two birds, one stone, okay.”  But the back of my mind was remembering a conversation I heard once between my cousin and my mom.  My cousin was working at a pediatrician’s office, and she was telling my mom about all the poor teenage girls that still go to their pediatrician for all their grown up girl exam needs, and how it’s so much more drawn out and awful at the pediatrician because the pediatrician rarely deals in the world of stirrups and whatever that awful duck-billed metal thing is, and if these girls would just go to the OBGYN it would be way quicker and likely more comfortable and all around better, since then the person looking up their vagina would not be the same person that has been medically caring for them since they came out of their mother’s.

But I had this tetanus shot requirement, too, so I went to the normal doctor.  And like, it was mostly fine.  I should say that this is my second pap, because I find the fact that they keep changing the rules about them for young people very confusing.  First it was like, 18.  Then I was almost 18 and they were like, okay, 21 or sexually active.  Then I was 21 and sexually active, so I went and had my first done, and like, it was kind of no big deal at all.  Like I didn’t get what all the big fuss was about — I wouldn’t do it every day by choice, but it wouldn’t kill me if that indeed were the situation.  But then on my way out of that one, the doctor was like, they’re now recommending these every couple of years for folks your age (as opposed to every year), so I just kind of put it out of my mind.  But now it’s been a couple years, so I made a “make sure all my lady parts are up to snuff” appointment, and let me tell you, this one did not live up to the first.

I mean, it wasn’t awful.  I know some people have much worse experiences.  But it’s not like it didn’t suck.  First of all, there’s the whole blind aspect.  I’m pretty sure the sheet between you and the doctor is just for the doctor, because seriously, I see the lower half of my body all the time, like when I put on pants.  And I’ve seen the doctor before.  So basically, there is nothing on the other side of the sheet that I haven’t seen before or that needs to be hidden from me unless they’re up to something.  Conclusion: they’re up to something.

Sidenote — I had to come out to the ceiling during this exam, which was weird.  She was asking me about birth control, and so I was like, “I’m gay,” and while that was generally well received (by the doctor, not the ceiling.  The ceiling just stared back blankly.), she did not pursue the safe sex talk.  I rolled my eyes at the ceiling.

So in addition to the air of deceit and the awkward outing, there is the actual trauma.  This started something like, “Ok, this is just going to be a pressure.” And I was like, “Pressure like you just jammed a sword up into my innards?”  Except in my head.  Which was also wondering how often she works with children.  But then she was like fiddling around and swinging the sword from side to side and my head was like, “OW” and she was like, “Your cervix is just a little off center, just have to get a good picture here and then we’ll take the samples.”

And that’s the part that got me and made me doubt the whole experience, more than the whole discomfort, metal-things-hung-out-of-me-briefly-while-somebody-q-tipped-something-several-inches-into-my-body thing.  Because I do not know if the picture was a figure of speech or not!  And before y’all jump down my throat and are like, “Dude, she was not taking an actual picture of your cervix,” I would just like to say: YOU DO NOT KNOW THAT.  Orthodontists take like a thousand pictures of your teeth and then hold on to them for a long while, and I’ve always thought that’s weird.  Maybe there is now a picture of my cervix, age 23.5 in my file.

Big Brother is watching.  From a very odd angle.

How to Plan for the After Life

Has it ever occurred to you that some of the seven deadly sins are much better than others?  I’m not talking from a moral standpoint.  I’m talking about practically.  Most of the deadly sins have an upside to them.  For example:

  • Gluttony:  You crave and accordingly eat yummy, yummy things and lots of them.
  • Greed: Again, you crave and get lots of stuff you probably like.  Yes, there’s that whole “money can’t by happiness” thing, but you know what money can buy?  A yacht.  An army of trained squirrels.  The silence of others.  All that food you need for your gluttonous sin.
  • Sloth: If you’re thinking sloth sounds bad, ask yourself — are you really opposed to pajama days?
  • Lust:  There is that whole getting laid thing.  Most people are pretty cool with that.
  • Pride: Being proud plain old feels good.  Also, it is often associated with rainbows.  Win-win.
  • Wrath: To be honest, anger makes a lot of things happen.  According to movies and other popular media, wrath might also sometimes be a good sin to mix with lust.  If you want to be more moral about it, though, you could just combine your wrath with sloth.  Then you’re essentially living the life of all those dumb people that get into rage fights on internet posts, and they certainly seem to get a kick out of that.

But you know what sin really doesn’t have an upside?  Envy.  Envy sucks.  I mean, you don’t really gain anything with envy except a solid sense of inadequacy.  Unless you’re really into green eyes.

So plan wisely, fellow miscreants. 



(Yet Another Reason) Why Our Sex-Ed System Needs Overhauling

Here’s something that pisses me off:

Scene: Doctor’s visit, in the exam room, with either a nurse or the doctor themselves.  We are going through the normal questions — are you on any medications? etc.

Doctor: Are you sexually active?

Me: Yes.

[Dude.  My parents and like neighbors and stuff read this blog.  …Yeah, guys, I get some.  Owned.]

Doctor: Any chance you could be pregnant?

Me: No.

Doctor looks up at me with a ‘quizzical’ look that is barely disguising their “Are you an effing moron?” thought.

Me: I’m gay.

Doctor: Oh.

Me, mentally, as I watch them cross out the next few questions about practicing safe sex and skip to the next section: Are you an effing moron?

Y’all ready for my soapbox?

It’s really more of a bottle.

Because here’s the thing, you guys: Safe sex in same-sex encounters, including between women, exists, and it matters.  So what if I’m not going to get pregnant?  There are a gazillion other cooties out there that I don’t need sliding over into my holy temple (let alone secret fortress – yeah, I went there), thank you very much.

The gay-est explanation of STDs I could find.

I was lucky.  I did have sex-ed in school.  It was abstinence-only through middle school, and then “comprehensive” in 10th grade.  I recognize that out in the real world, this put me and my buddies leagues ahead of some of my peers.

Not that I ever heard the word “gay” in that class, as I filled in crosswords with various forms of birth control.  Which is ridiculous given that regardless of if you lean high or low, a statistically significant number of people in that class will* have a same-sex encounter.

*I mean, they probably already have.  We made it through college.

Thank goodness for the internet.  Because a quick google search just for “safe lesbian sex” shows you that it does exist: here and here and here and here, just for starters.  And an image search for “gay kittens” gives you this:

-Wait! Do you have a dental dam? -No, but I have some saran, we’re cool.