Freundian Slip

Suppression is overrated. So are slips.


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Just a Pinch of Love

Yesterday, my grandfather died. He was 95 and, without question, lived a good, long life. Even though, cognitively, I knew that this was inevitable, it still came as a shock. And it still hurts.

But the truth is, I hadn’t seen my grandpa in years. When we were young, my family would visit every year, maybe every other. Then I got into high school and college and those visit became less frequent. I was there for my grandpa’s 90th birthday party, but that was the last time I saw him.

And admitting that out loud — that it’s been five years since I last visited — I feel guilty, and I wonder, do I deserve to be this sad? I wasn’t as close to my grandpa as many of my cousins who grew up in St. Louis and who attended regular Sunday dinners at his house. I didn’t know him as well as they did nor would I ever claim to. But does that mean I loved him less?

I guess to answer that, you have to go back to that good ol’ classic question: what does love mean? (SPOILER ALERT: I have no idea). In my family, we say “I love you” a lot. Like a lot a lot. Bordering on an unhealthy amount. We say it at the end of every phone call. We write it at the end of every email (and in the case of my mom, followed by a million XXXXXXO’s. Don’t ask me why the kiss/hug ratio is so off. No one knows). We sign every birthday, Christmas, and thank you card with “All My Love”. Sometimes there is even the spontaneous “love you!” text (granted, again, usually from my mom).

Yet when it comes to being physically in the same room with the people I love….well, that’s a lot rarer. But despite all that — or maybe because of that — I never felt that the love I experience in my relationships is less strong or less real. And as a result, I guess I started to believe that seeing someone wasn’t even a necessary component of love.

I admit that view of love has influenced how I approach many of my relationships. I don’t always prioritize physical proximity or making time to see someone. I often rely on words and conversations over the phone (and the occasional strategically chosen ecard). It’s the space I feel comfortable in (also, less opportunity for awkward eye contact).

But the more I reflect on it, the more I realize that being there does matter. Saying the words isn’t enough. I had 18 years of living with my family (except for Adam and Kurt…those assholes bailed early for some “college” bullshit) to establish that foundational sense of closeness, and so the distance we experience now is surmountable. My closest moments with my friends were not phone calls or texts. They were girls trips around the country, game nights and potlucks, and their willingness to show up for me when I was in IOP treatment. And while maybe I work more efficiently alone, when I make time to work alongside my classmates, I feel happier, lighter, and more a part of something.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m only starting to realize that love isn’t about just saying the words. It’s the friend who hugs you in your cubicle when you get hard news from home. It’s the person who steps in when you feel overwhelmed and offers to carry some of the weight on his shoulders. It’s the person who opens up to you about his own struggles and trusts you to listen without judgement. It’s watching your baby niece totter down the hall into open arms. Maybe I don’t know what love is, but I do know when it’s there.

And as for my grandpa? I did love him, and that love was built on real moments, not words. Moments like when he would show me around his backyard garden, quietly pointing out the different crops. When he encouraged me, saying that I could achieve anything, even when I doubted myself. When he recounted stories about running bare-naked to the local swimming pool as a kid way back in the day. Even (especially) when he told me that if I married an old rich man and poisoned him for the inheritance, he would help me hide the body. That’s what I call real love. And while I wasn’t there frequently, those moments meant something.  Without the moments, the words would be just that — words.

So no matter how long it has been, those moments are the ones I keep with me. When I was a kid, my grandpa always used to say to me right before I’d leave to go home, “If you feel a pinch on your ass, you’ll know I’m thinking of you.” Sure, is that a weird thing to say to a relative and a 7-year-old? Absofuckinglutely. But that’s also just who Grandpa was. He spoke his mind, he loved deeply, and he was unapologetically himself. And his unique way of expressing that is just another moment that I will treasure.

There will be no more moments to add to the list. But I am grateful for those I do have, because they are the reason the words now mean something.

So Grandpa, wherever you are, however far away, I love you. And if you feel a pinch on your ass, know I’m thinking about you. ❤

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Special Roads for Special People

Through his poetry, Robert Frost has iconicized the road less traveled. It’s become the pinnacle of adventure and daring, a symbol of possibility and originality.

By taking the road less traveled, we open ourselves up to adventure, embracing possibility, daring, and originality.

We also, apparently, open ourselves up to being stranded in a field at 2am with a dead cell phone and a mild panic attack.

How did I end up there? Well, as I told Sheldon, the nice man from AAA, “by being a dumbass.” But the fuller answer is: by thinking I was born special.

I’d love to blame my parents for this “born special” mentality (I’d also love to blame them for ending up in the aforementioned field, but I’m pretty sure that one’s all on me). After all, how dare they give me everything I have could ever want and need growing up??? As the only girl in my family, I got different treatment than my brothers that seemed to suggest I was special: my own room, license to skip out on the more manually-intensive chores, room decor like this:

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#Subtly

And this:

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#WhosYourPrincess

But even disregarding this preferential treatment (or perhaps because of it), I never had much respect for the rules. For example, in Indian Princesses (yes, that’s a thing), I would determinedly stomp off into the wilderness, ignoring the trail signs and convinced that I knew where I was going—specifically, on a great adventure like one of the heroines in books I read (never mind that in retrospect, I was probably only 10 yards away from the camp site at any given time). Likewise, in school, I quickly discovered if I got good grades, I could get away with all sorts of shit. Like checking out double the allowed amount of books from the library (#rebel).

As I grew up, I continued to bend the rules—forging sick notes to get out of school (sorry, Mom & Dad!), skipping even more yard work (sorry, Adam & Kurt!), and just generally find ways out of stuff I didn’t want to do. And despite all my flouting of the rules, there were never any real consequences. Sure, occasionally I’d get a slap on the wrist or a stern look, but I always seemed to weasel my way out trouble (plus, let’s be real, it’s not like I was lighting things on fire in my free time or something). Simply put, I wasn’t a bad kid, but I was an entitled kid.

And 27 years later, I have a strong suspicion all that entitlement has resulted in me becoming one of those “born special” people who ends up stranded in a field.

Ah yes, back to the field.

You see, this all went down last night around midnight. I was home in Dallas for a bit, and I’d spent the last three hours having some serious girl chat with my friend from high school. I was driving back to my mom’s house when I took the wrong exit and ended up in standstill traffic on highway 35E. Google maps quickly changed my ETA from 12:14am to 1:07am.

After sitting literally unmoving for 20 minutes, I watched as one or two cars drove along the shoulder and then pulled off into the grassy field alongside the road. I saw their headlights make their way down, over the field, and safely to a road about 50 yards away before speeding off.

Well fuck. I could do that. I was tired and hungry and, most importantly, why should I have to sit in traffic with these other schmucks for the next hour? So I decided to drive my car—or more accurately, my mother’s car, which I had borrowed—off onto the shoulder. As I approached the edge of the highway, I realized that the drop down into the field was far steeper than I’d thought. But I was special after all. I could do this.

So after a moment’s pause, I blazed ahead, off the highway into the field. I made it about halfway across when I realized that this field not the grassy paradise it looked like, but rather a muddy hell hole. I felt the wheels of the car start to spin. Mud spattered onto the windshield. And then…nothing.

I was stuck. Stuck in a field. I reversed, twisted my wheels, slammed on the gas. Still nothing. I even got out and tried to push, which only resulted in me ruining my shoes.

So with 6% left on my cell battery, I knew was I had to do.

“Mom…I think I may need some help.”

Calling my mom immediately sent me into flashbacks of age 16 (or as I fondly refer to it, “the year of 7 accidents”). There was no way to make my decision to drive off the road sound less stupid than it was, so I compensated by just repeating “I’m so sorry. I’m so dumb,” over and over into the phone. As my mom put it later, “It was glorious to see you so humbled.”

Around 1:45am, AAA finally showed up with a tow truck. I’d been whimpering in my locked car for the last hour, my phone having died ages ago. Unfortunately though, the mud was too deep for the truck to get to me.

Luckily, Sheldon the AAA man enjoys occasional bouts of ATV mudding in his free time and was able to expertly coach me through extracting my mom’s car from the mud pit. By 2am, I’d high-fived Sheldon and was on my way in the mud-soaked car back to my mom’s house.

I can’t quite explain the feeling of pulling into the driveway that time of night to see my mom standing there in her bathrobe, watching me and shaking her head. If I had thought calling her for help felt like a 16-year old flashback, well…

Together, my mom and I hosed off the car, washing away the evidence under the light of the moon.

And as I hugged her good night around 3am, I realized I’d learned some valuable lessons that evening:

  1. Never drive your car off a highway
  2. 1st gear is apparently a thing in cars
  3. Mudding is an activity I should try some time. Though probably not in my mom’s car.
  4. If I ever need to hide a body in the middle of the night, my mom is definitely the person I’m going to call

And most importantly, #4: I am NOT born special.

Oh right. And #5: Sometimes the road less traveled blows.


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Self Help Me God

I have to make a confession. I have an addiction. I’ve kept it secret up until this point because it dramatically undermines the intelligent and educated persona I have attempted to cultivate all these years (key word: attempted). But since I think that ship probably sailed when I started using my Twitter handle to post exclusively about The Bachelor, maybe it’s time for me to come out of the closet.

So here it is, my confession: I’m obsessed with Dear Abby.

Actually, that’s underselling it. I’m obsessed with advice columns. Dear Abby was just the gateway drug.

I started reading Dear Abby when I was a kid. They printed it next to the comics in The Dallas Morning News, and since that was the only part of the paper 10 year-old Andrea was interested in reading (also, 27 year-old Andrea), it was inevitable that I would become acquainted with this particular pillar of the advice world.

But what started as an innocent Saturday morning dalliance over a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, quickly turned dark as my addiction expanded.

First there was Carolyn Hax, another staple of my hometown paper. Then I got older and discovered the power of the internet. There was a WHOLE WORLD of advice columnists waiting to be discovered.

I started simple, adding in a little Ask Amy, which is relatively on par with Carolyn Hax: measured, thoughtful, and probably on the more useful end of the spectrum. Then I started branching out to the slightlier edgier advice columns, like Slate’s Dear Prudence.

And then, just to top it all off, someone introduced me to the wonders of Ask E. Jean. Which is like the Real Housewives version of an advice column. It’s amazing, dirty, and should never be used as a baseline for normal human behavior.

All in all, I now read about 5 advice columns per day. One could argue there are more valuable things I could be doing with my time (like reading my horoscope….oh wait, I also do that), but I just can’t help myself.

I’ve thought a lot about the underlying cause of this obsession. One theory is that when I left the fold of the Catholic Church, I needed to fill the JC-shaped void in my heart with something else. After all, Jesus wasn’t so different from Jeanne Phillips a.k.a Dear Abby. They both dispense valuable, quotable life advice. They both took up the family business. They both were highly divisive individuals (if you are in doubt, just read the comments section of Dear Abby on the Internet). And of course, they both had a thing for really big stars.

Dear_Abby_Walk_of_Fame_4-20-06

My other theory is just that I am just dumb, and am therefore enthralled by the banalities of newspaper advice columns. After all, I also fucking love inspirational quotes, and apparently that says some shit about me. I’m totally fine with this explanation.

But my third theory, and the one that I think holds the most water, is that I am an eternal optimist. Not that bullshit kind of optimist that says stuff like “Everything happens for a reason” and “Today is just the most wonderfullest day ever!” No, I’m the less useful type of optimist — the kind that believes that if you just read the right words, something will click and things will suddenly be better and brighter (this is also evidenced by the plethora of self-help books sitting on my IKEA bookshelf that I built by myself with minimal “shelf-help.”

….I’m sorry that terrible: please reference earlier theory about just being stupid).

But back to my point: I think a part of me (probably the part of me that is still waiting for my letter to Hogwarts) believes that if I just read something so inspirational in one of these columns, I will have one of those lightbulb moments that makes me better, happier, and more the person I want to be. It’s a little pathetic, but then again, so is reading 5 advice columns a day. I know that real change doesn’t come from a single, inspirational realization (otherwise I seriously overpaid for those 4 years of therapy). Real change comes from practicing it, day by day, moment by moment. But that shit is tiring. And for a moment, each day, I get to instead nestle in the sweet embrace of Abby, Carolyn, Amy, Prudence, and E. Jean (is it creepy yet?). They are my escape, they feed the idealist in me, and for that, I love them.

Or, you know, maybe I’m just an asshole who enjoys reading about other people’s misery.

Yah, it’s probably that. But the good news is, if I ever need to identify if my pet jaguar is gay, I now have the answer. Thanks Abby!

jaguar


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Birthday….Girl?

Oh birthdays….seems like a good day for a blog post. It’s also apparently a good day for my mother to tell anyone who will listen the story of my birth and how I was “supposed to be a boy.” Or more specifically, that the sonogram said I’d be a boy — which isn’t exactly the kind of information I want floating around out there without additional context. It was the 80s! I blame the technology.

I'm guessing the bows are there to reinforce my

I’m guessing the bows are there to reinforce my “girl-ness”

But seeing as predictions of my future have been incorrect since I was in utero, I’m going to continue last year’s tradition of not making any monumental resolutions about who I will be or what I will accomplish this year.

In actuality, I didn’t even think I’d write a post on my birthday because, to be frank, I thought it would be depressing. Birthdays are a time of reflection, and year 26 wasn’t exactly a year of rainbows and sunshine.

But as I mulled on that thought last night, I realized that while I wouldn’t call the past year the happiest of my existence, it was undeniably one of substantial growth and change. In the last year, a lot happened: to me, in me, and around me.

To start, my parents divorce was finalized just two days after my birthday of last year. As a family, we’ve spent the past 12 months trying to find our new normal (seriously, where is the how-to guide for this?). Consequently, I’ve had the opportunity to redefine my relationships with my family members — bringing new honesty, vulnerability, and boundaries to the table (also, two sets of birthday presents). My parents’ split gave me the freedom to approach each of my relationships individually, not simply as part of the family unit. And I believe those relationships are stronger for it.

Perhaps most notably, this past year I came out publicly about my eating disorder. I haven’t posted on it since then, but not because it hasn’t been at the forefront of my mind. Quite the opposite, really. A few months after that post, I took a 4-month a leave of absence from work and enrolled in an intensive outpatient treatment program (IOP). It was my second rodeo at an IOP, but the difference in the experiences was shocking. In my most recent program, I was surrounded by participants and therapists who truly cared for and respected me (and I them). I invited my friends and family to be a part of my recovery, letting them witness firsthand the most painful part of my life. And I was rewarded with a depth of love and support that I couldn’t have expected. I learned to challenge my distorted mentality and have slowly begun to relinquish some of my rigidity and fear (slowwwwwly). I still struggle, and many days, recovery seems far, far away. But looking back, I am proud of the progress I have made. My perfectionism tempts me to say it’s not enough or not fast enough, but in the grand scheme of recovery, I know the progress I have made in the past year is worth celebrating.

And most recently, I took the leap to leave Google and am now trying something different at a new company. Google was without question a phenomenal place to work, and I’ll be forever grateful to have started my career there. I didn’t leave Google because anything was inherently wrong. I left because I was too comfortable. It would have been easy to stay at Google forever, but by leaving, I forced myself to take a good hard look at what I want for myself and my career. I don’t have an answer yet, but hey, at least I’m asking the question (that counts right??). And I like to think that every new role and every new company is just more information to inform my answer.

All in all, I have a feeling I’ll remember year 26 for a long time. I don’t know what year 27 will hold, but I’m hopeful, and in my opinion, that hope is better than any resolution. And just like that one time when I popped out of the womb as a girl, whatever happens, I’m sure it’ll be one hell of a surprise.


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Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby

When it comes to sex, I was a late bloomer. Actually, when it comes to relationships in general, I was a late bloomer. But sex is more interesting, so let’s roll with that.

My parents were big believers in the “read-this-book-and-let’s-never-talk-about-this-again” approach to sex education. And by “parents,” I really just mean my mom. Because if my father ever used the word “sex” in a conversation with me, I’m pretty confident that I’d rip my own ears off.

But of course, the problem with this don’t-talk-about-sex strategy is that, well…you never learn to talk about sex, at least not in any terms that are actually useful in your sex life down the road. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

What is clear, is that my early education gave me an excellent vocabulary when it came to talking about not having sex (I mean how many middle-schoolers do you know who can spell words like “abstinence” and “eternal damnation in Satan’s hellfire”).

As some of you know, I am the product of abstinence-only sex education, with a heaping side of 18 years of Catholic guilt. My first introduction to formal sex-education was in the 7th grade. My Catholic middle school in Dallas had decided to bring in an outside specialist just for the occasion—an extremely white and peppy woman named Marilyn. The course was entitled “Aim for Success” (versus, I suppose, the “Aim for Sex” version taught in those depraved public schools with their condoms and bananas).

“Aim for Success” was everything you could hope for in an abstinence-only education course: fear mongering, euphemistic language, idealization, and of course, zero actually useful pieces of information.

It’s been over a decade since I took the class, but I’m sure Marilyn would be thrilled to know I have’t forgotten its central message.  In “Aim for Success,” I learned that my virginity was a “gift” that shouldn’t be given away lightly. Though to be fair to Marilyn, this was caveated with if you were a promiscuous little sinner it was still okay. You could still rewrap your gift (Though really, Marilyn? Nobody likes a re-gifter.).

I was also told in the course that that sex, when done with your husband or wife, was precious and beautiful (though I’m pretty sure anyone with a homemade sex tape probably would argue with this statement).

But as any good educator knows, encouraging words about waiting and abstinence aren’t nearly as effective as the best teaching method: public shaming in front of your peers. So just in case any of us 7th graders were thinking about putting our “gift” under the metaphorical Christmas tree, “Aim for Success” ended with the rolling of the Sex Dice.

Yes, the Sex Dice. Now before you get too excited, you should know that what sounds like raunchy bedroom game was actually something quite different.

Let me paint you a picture: close your eyes (actually don’t, because I need you to keep reading this). Now visualize one giant inflatable dice (die?). Then imagine that one side of that dice is blank. Got it? Ok, now picture the five other sides of the dice, and imagine that each of those remaining five sides has either “pregnancy” or the the name of an STD written on it.

Congratulations. You now know what the sex dice are.

The actual description from the Aim for Success website

The actual description from the Aim for Success website

I tried to find a replica of the dice online, but was sadly unable. It appears they were custom-made just for those lucky enough to take the “Aim for Success” course.

As the “Aim for Success” course neared its end, each of my classmates had a turn to roll to the dice. When it came to me, I bravely stepped up and threw the inflatable cube of misfortune high into the air. I watched the dice spin upwards and back down, closer and closer to my of fate of….

BLANK SIDE.

Boom. As you might expect, I’m inclined to interpret that as the greenlight to get my freak on. The statistically-accurate sex dice don’t lie.

Marilyn, however, wasn’t having it. I was forced to roll again, and this time got pregnant (sorry, Mom and Dad!). Not ideal of course, but at least it wasn’t herpes.

Don’t fuck around with statistics, kids. Actually, just don’t fuck around.

Don’t fuck around with statistics, kids. Actually, just don’t fuck around.

But regardless of whether the sex odds were in my favor, at the end of “Aim for Success” I was given the option—along with all my peers—to complete the final act of the course: signing the abstinence pledge. I’d like to say that at the time, the snarky, irreverent Andrea you all know and love now (right???), had laughed in the face of the abstinence pledge. But I didn’t. In fact, I signed it—eagerly and with pride.

I had bought was Marilyn was selling. Not because her course was so compelling, but because at 13, I knew only what my peers and community told me, and they were all lining up, pens in hand. I had no concept of what I was committing to. I only knew I wanted to be a part of something and was afraid to be different. I didn’t think. I merely signed.

For much of the time following “Aim for Success,” I put sex out of my mind. It wasn’t hard (no pun intended). I went to an all-girls high school, and my contact with boys was limited to a bit of innocent flirting under the bleachers at Friday night football games and the occasional polite conversation over frozen yogurt (usually in an attempt to nail down a date to homecoming). My most “scandalous” activity was making out with my prom date on the dance floor junior year. It never occurred to me to go further than that.

On an academic level, my high school didn’t expand much on the already questionable sex-ed foundation of my middle school years. In fact, I can recall sex coming up exactly twice during that time period:

  • My freshman year biology teacher awkwardly shoving her boobs together and talking about the “cleavage furrow” (which for those of you who flunked high school biology, doesn’t really have anything to do with sex unless you are counting meiosis)
  • And the line in the student manual that said you could get expelled for “disgracing the Academy”—which everyone knew was just code for “if you get knocked up, you’re out.”

Outside of class, my friends and I didn’t really talk about sex. I assumed it was because none of us were having it, though it turns out that wasn’t actually true (it’s amazing what comes out later over a glass of wine). I can’t say for certain what kept us silent—maybe it was the Catholic guilt or maybe I just gave off that “don’t share your secrets with me” vibe—but either way, I didn’t hear the word “clitoris” until I was a freshman in college (though granted, I also didn’t meet my first Jew till I was a freshman in college either [oh heyyyyyy, Natalie!]).

I’ll fast-forward through my time at Stanford, but as you might expect, it was a thoroughly eye-opening (and other opening…heyoooo!) experience.  But surprise, surprise—having sex is not the same as talking about sex. And in that department, I was still way behind the curve.

So where does that leave us today? Or more accurately, where does that leave me?

Well, apparently, it leaves me sitting in the back room of Good Vibrations amidst a plethora of pre-turn-of-the-century vibrators holding a pamphlet entitled “Helpful Tips for Sexual Communication.” You see, after a couple of frustrating experiences where I failed to discuss sex in an open and adult way, I’d decided to take matters into my own hands (no, that’s not what I mean—get your mind out of the gutter). I had admitted I had a problem, and I was determined to fix it. I had asked myself: how can I get over my own hang ups around talking about sex?

And like any good academic overachiever, my answer was clear: obviously I should take a class.

I did my research and about a week later had signed myself up for a course with Amy Jo Goddard, a self-described “Sexual Empowerment Coach.”

There were only 7 of us in the class. I’d assumed there would be a lot of repressed WASPs (WASCs?) like me in attendance, but thinking back, I realize it’s probably unlikely that they would have signed up for the class in the first place. Instead, it was just me, two lesbian couples, and “non-conformist” hetero couple on holiday from Berlin.

As Amy Jo led us through a series of exercises and group discussions in which we practiced talking about sex in both vague and explicit terms, I realized how deep my level of discomfort went. Even in a safe enviroment like the vibrator museum, I couldn’t say out loud those dirty words like clit or cum or cock (are there an abnormal amount of sex terms that start with C?). The idea of uttering them out loud to a partner was even more mortifying.

That’s not to say the class was a waste. If anything, just saying that I went to a class on sexual communication gave me an opening to start talking about sex more candidly with my friends. And as my friends and I began to share more about our sexual experiences, the words started to become less taboo for me. I still sort of pause and whisper them like a middle-schooler venturing to say the f-word for the first time (side note: I also didn’t know what the f-word was until I was sixteen), but I’m getting better. I’ve been fortunate enough to have friends and partners who have encouraged me to talk openly and in detail. And I’ve come to realize how freeing it is to talk about this part of life that my upbringing had condemned. Just as sex can be serious, fun, intense, and awkward, talking about sex can serious, fun, intense, and awkward (mainly the last one if I’m involved). And most of all, it creates intimacy. I’d rather quite literally strip down naked in front of someone than talk about sex in detail. But when I allow myself to experience the vulnerability of the latter, the resulting connection is far greater.

Of course, there are still some realms in which I’m pretty a-ok with sex being off the table, at least for now. For example, my parents (as far as I’m concerned, I was the result of immaculate conception). As of now, we all seem to opt for the plausible deniability approach—as long as I don’t explicitly confirm that I’m having sex, my parents can pretend it’s not happening (let’s hope they don’t read this blog). But that has a downside, as well—after all, some of my best stories involve sex or occurred when I was staying over a guy’s house (or you know, crawling out of guy’s window…but I digress).

But as horrible as it is to talk about sex with your relatives (or my relatives, I suppose. Yours might be awesomely raunchy), I do try to test the water when I see them. Push those boundaries of what is acceptable to talk about in our family. The goal here isn’t to scandalize grandma (that’s just an added bonus); I simply don’t want my future household to be like the one I grew up in. I don’t want my kids to think they can’t talk about sex with me. I don’t want to subscribe to the belief that avoiding the topic of sex will somehow make my children less likely to have it. Sex is good (well, sometimes), and not something to be ashamed of.

And if I want to change the way I think and talk about it, I’ve got to start somewhere—even if that somewhere is the vibrator museum in the back of Good Vibrations.


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I got it from my mama

Recently, my mom and I have become a lot closer. The last couple of years have been hard for both of us, but because of those challenges, I’ve learned that she can handle whatever distress I bring to her doorstep; that tears and laughter are just moments in a day and not always a sign that life is crumbling down around us; and that being truly vulnerable means not just speaking about your feelings, but letting others witness them.

Of course, with all this bonding and sharing, there are also a lot more phone calls, texts, and emails flying around. And like any good daughter, I screenshot the shit of those conversations and publish them for the entertainment of the rest of the world. So in honor of Mother’s Day (and because I love a good listicle), I give you: 

10 Reasons I Love My Mother (summarized in text and email)

#10. For a die-hard Catholic, she does an excellent impression of a Jewish mother.

Email_baby

(And of course, we can’t forget about this gem.)

#9. She’s always got your back in a home-decor crisis scenarios. coupon text

#8. Even via text, she manages to perfectly convey clutching her pearls like a true Southerner

clutching pearls 

#7. Her empathy is unparalleled.

 roommate search 

#6. She’ a “Techno Wiz.” Also, a spell-checking whiz.techno whiz 

#5. She puts the “Mother” in “Mother Nature.”

 Thunder screenshot

#4. She taught me that to succeed in this world, you’ve got to be competitive. She also taught me why you should never invite your relatives to play Words with Friends.words with friends 

#3. She knows the best bonding is compulsory.Screenshot 2015-05-01 at 11.13.12 PM

#2. I can always count on our conversations to be riveting.

riveting life 

#1. And finally, because at the end of the day, I always know this is true.Love you too

In summary: Happy Mother’s Day to the ever-amazing Jan Freund! The best mom a girl could ask for ❤


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Finding Your Vocation: Directions Not Included

So here’s a kicker for you: I was recently asked to speak to some senior students at my high school alma mater. The topic? Finding your vocation.

Whoever thought this was a good idea obviously doesn’t understand the depth of my cynicism. Or my complete lack of “having my shit together.” But apparently being your high school salutatorian seven years ago gives you some sort of credibility (but not as much credibility as being valedictorian. Damn you, Katie Radu!).

Of course more to the point, I’m not sure I even buy into the idea of a vocation—at least in the “called by God to do” kind of way. The only thing I feel “called to do” is watch last night’s episode of Dancing with the Stars and spend inordinate amounts of money at Target on a regular basis.

So it’s no surprise that when I was asked to speak on the topic by an old instructor, my first instinct was to say HELL TO THE NO.

But then, somewhere deep in the dark tunnels of my soul, where it had been hibernating since college graduation, the straight-A student in me awoke. Disappoint a teacher? it whispered. You don’t have it in you, Andrea.

lotr-gandalf-balrog

An artistic representation of my straight-A student impulses vs. the part of me that says giving this talk is stupid.

It was clear that fighting was futile, so now I’m committed. But there’s still one important question remaining: What the fuck am I going to say to these kids?

I have admit that the timing of the request is interesting, as last week marked my 3 year anniversary at Google. I can barely believe it. I feel like I just started.

But looking back to that first morning at Noogler orientation, one thing is obvious to me: at the time, I had no idea what the fuck I was doing—in life or in my job.

Now I just have no idea what the fuck I’m doing in life.

But at least in my job I can claim to have learned a bit about what it takes to be a Google spokesperson—like the difference between talking to a reporter on background and talking to a reporter on deep background, the meaning of acronyms like TLS and API, and not to say shit like this:

My first statement at Google. #EmployeeOfTheMonth

My first statement at Google. #EmployeeOfTheMonth

And while all that is well and good, this niche, role-related knowledge isn’t going to be particularly helpful to a group of high school seniors, most of whom consider a career to be something that falls between “shit Carrie does on Homeland”’ and “boring shit my parents do to pay for my college tuition.”

So I started thinking: in my 3 years as a working adult, have I learned anything that might actually be useful to them? You know, the kind of stuff your college career office forgot to tell you, like:

  • The people you work with are as important to your happiness as the work you do. But still not as important as the free snacks your company provides.
  • I’m 99% sure that your “career” is really just what happens when you turn 65, add up all your respective jobs, and then find a way to make it sound like you had a plan the whole time
  • And speaking of careers, your college major doesn’t determine the rest of your life. However, being an Art History major is still probably not in your best interest.
  • Asking yourself the question, “Holy fuck, do I have to do this till I’m 65 67?” is like looking down when you’re scaling a cliff. It’s a just bad idea (along with being an Art History major).
  • As an adult, phrases like “you’ve met your in-network deductible for the year” and “yes, dental is included” start to be sexually exciting
  • Your work life is not going to be like the television version of it. Nor will your work wardrobe. Let it go.
Not, in fact, what my job in PR is like

Not, in fact, what my job in PR is like

Of course, despite all these gems of knowledge, 3 years is hardly enough time to figure out this whole “being a contributing member of society” thing. For every new skill or fact I learn, it feels like there are a million other things I’m still struggling to grasp. Like how some women wear heels to work, all day, every day. Or the difference between a Roth IRA and a 401K (and apparently there is also apparently something called a Roth 401K which is different than a regular 401k. Either way, I probably need to figure this out before I retire).

When you boil it down, the truth is that I still have no idea what I want to be when I grow up, or how I’m going to get there.

…sounds like I’ve got my speech opener to me. Those lucky high school bastards.