15 Terrible Early-90’s Songs Suburban Kids Listened to in The Back of Our Friends’ Moms’ Minivans and Have Tried to Block Out Since

90’s nostalgia has been upon us for awhile, and, much like Ren Faire attendees would rather ignore the fact that the Medieval era would’ve been torturous to endure, those screaming about how much they “LOVE 90’s music!!!” rarely look objectively at the decade. Y’see, kids, kids, pop music went on a strange tangent in those years between the 80’s and the Britney/Christina/boy band invasion of ’98, and thanks to our parents’ determination to follow the stars of yore during their respective descents into Snoozeville (see: Rod Stewart, Elton John), a horrible vanilla phase emerged in the undercurrent of the adult contemporary genre. A huuuge chunk of 90’s musical culture includes this wave of hostile Caucasian Americana-brand mediocrity which permeated suburban life via carpool lane radio and The Weather Channel. It’s in our best interest to remember this dark side so we aren’t doomed to repeat it.

All I’m saying is: Thank God for “The Bodyguard” Soundtrack breaking through to the Mom-pop stations and keeping it interesting. We miss you, Whitney. 

Anyway, a healthy life is about balance, so to offer a counterweight to the glory of 90’s hip hop/rap/alternative/R&B/riot grrrl/grunge, I’ve curated some of the worst pop hits from 1990-95. I’m not going to bash many of the era’s heavy-hitters (Celine, Michael Bolton, Kenny G,) even though they were also responsible for some heavy-duty earsores (looking at you too, Madonna). Instead, let’s explore those subtle-yet-pervasive hits that we’ve all tried very hard to blot out in the years since.

FUN FACT: I’d never seen the videos to any of these songs, because, as the oldest of four kids in a pretty conservative family, I didn’t have any exposure to MTV until after Kurt Cobain was dead. So I first experienced these as I put this post together – a real treat!

As a warm-up, here’s
Aaron Neville’s Cotton Commercial

Ready now? Let’s do this!


How Do You Talk to an Angel – The Heights

I’M COMING IN HOT!!! Yeah, I said it, 90210 fans!! NOW WHAT WHAT NOW?!!?!?
No, but seriously, y’guys. Give this another listen with our now-adult perspectives and tell me it’s a good song with a straight face. If you can, you’re a sociopath, no questions asked.
Also, I’m not going to get into the whole Gin Blossoms/BoDeans/Rembrandts/Spin Doctors soft-altrock thing any further than this. Promise.

All for Love – Sting, Rod Stewart, & Bryan Adams (from “The Three Musketeers” Soundtrack)

Alright, to avenge 90210 Fans, here I am stepping on my own toes because I definitely liked this song and absolutely harmonized the shit out of it together with my BFF just this summer when she visited my place. And it. Is. The. Worst.


Soldier of Love – Donny Osmond


Alright, CONFESSION: I didn’t know Donny Osmond sang this until just now. Again, my pop culture knowledge has a lot of blind spots from that era (Ex: I just watched both “Total Recall” and “Basic Instinct”  for the first time just this week. Yeah, really.) But true to form, he continues to be not at all “rock’n’roll”, no matter how hard he’s working that Jordan Knight-knockoff look.

Good for Me – Amy Grant

Whenever people my age whine that “music these days has just gotten soo baaaad. I miss the good old days when pop music was great!!”, my brain immediately thinks of Amy Grant and Billy Ocean as evidence to the contrary.
You guys, Amy Grant was awful. (BUZZKILL ALERT: There’s a ton of scientific reasoning why everyone believes the music that came out during their adolescent years was the best. It correlates with your pubescent hormones and the imprinting of the feelings the music gave you at that time in your life holding significant value and meaning, exactly like your first love. This is why you’re not as amazed by new music when you’re an adult and why your parents hated what you were listening to when you were a teen. The music wasn’t better; you were just hormonal. Sorry ’bout it.) “Good For Me” is particularly cheesy, although “Baby, Baby” is a close second.

Anything by Jon Secada. Just anything.

There was a span of about a year where this guy was everywhere and honestly, all his tracks sound like clones of each other. In fact, until I went hunting for his videos on YouTube just now, I didn’t realize I know at least 5 songss of his because I was convinced it was just the same two played over and over. Also, I remember always wondering whether or not his music was secular or if he was Trojan-horsing a Jesus message on all of us, which was a super common thing back in those days, as evidenced by…

Michael W. Smith – I Will Be Here For You

Christian crossover artists were all over contemporary charts at the time (see: Amy Grant) and Michael W. Smith was the guy your parents were happy for you to listen to because you’d probably hear his stuff at the “contemporary service” on Sunday, too!

Faithful – Go West


I’m cackling at the idea of any of you curiously clicking this link to give this a first listen because JEE. ZUSS. I forgot how terrible this song was. Oh man. I’m so sorry.

The Heart of the Matter – Don Henley

I really thought this song was called “Forgiveness” until just now when I Googled it to find the video. Who cares. Garbage.

I Want to Be Rich – Calloway

I may’ve learned a little American Sign Language through Girl Scouts and private study and then taught myself how to sign this entire song for fun… just in case you were wondering what my personal brand was during this time in my life.

Would I Lie to You – Charles & Eddie

I keep finding these and thinking “Oh WAAAAOOWW… THIS one has to be the worst…” until I get to the next one on my list, but honestly, this one is Top 3. I don’t usually believe in superlatives, but this song makes me blush and cringe in a way I’m not comfortable with.

Life is a Highway – Tom Cochrane or anybody else who covers it

And to answer the follow-up question: No, none of the covers of this are good, either.

Peter Cetera’s Varied Number-One-Ranked Experiments in Increasingly Mind-Numbing Sounds


Remember that thing I said about our parents aging stars of yore? Yeeeaahh…

Richard Marx – Right Here Waiting

It’s all just starting to sound the same, right?

Right Here Right Now – Jesus Jones

eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhnnnnnn……

That Springsteen Song from Jerry Maguire

Maaaaaaaauuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuugghhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!! AAAAAAAAAGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-wuh!!!!

HONORABLE MENTION: I Know – Dionne Farris

Alright, this wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great, either. It was a track that was a little more of what the adults would embarrassingly dub “funky”, but was pretty tame and middle-of-the-road by all accounts. I’m including it on this list because it seems to be THE SONG we all heard repeatedly and we all knew and when we sang along to it when it was on the radio at any given moment for about 2 years, our moms didn’t give us a hard time about it. Kind of like Des’ree but without a memorable voice.

…And yes, I DID have that one Des’ree album on cassette. And I DID listen to it when I went for a rollerblading cardio session every day during the summer… when I wasn’t listening to the “Batman Forever” soundtrack.

Never Forget

NC Just Needs Your Love Right Now

Hey America,
I’ve noticed you’re pretty pissed at North Carolina as of late.  Me too.  But I need y’all to listen for a minute. Please.

I’m a bi(pan-ish? I hate labels)/poly cisfemale North Carolinian living just outside the capital city.  Aside from a semester in Australia in ’05, I’ve lived in the Carolinas my whole life – the majority of that in NC. I’ve visited almost every state in the U.S, and most of my best friends live on opposite sides of the country, but I’m not afraid to confess: love it here. It’s breathtakingly gorgeous, our summer produce is made of magic, and if you can’t stand your neighbors, the cost of living is good enough that you can afford not to have to live too close to anyone.  Conversely, within the metropolitan areas surrounding our major universities, there is an impressive range of culture with a thriving liberal arts scene. Sit in any of our largest cities on any given weekend and you’ll see a our population is a blend of ethnicities, religious groups, and relationship styles that boldly protest the stereotype that Southerners are all a bunch of uneducated, white, fundamentalist Christian bigots.

We’re not.  I promise you we’re not. And the millions of us who cannot understand the ignorance and hatred we are seeing from our leaders are not only terrified for what this means, but we’re heartbroken to see America lumping us all in together with the same people who are hurting us.

Ask any person who didn’t fit into the “White Heterosexual Conservative Christian” category in the South to tell you about the torment he/she/zie endured by both peers and  leaders and you’ll get at least one story that’ll turn your stomach. This is the hatred that the LGBTQA community is used to here, a place where prejudice and violence to minority groups has been a thriving part of our history for centuries now – primarily in the name of Protestant Christianity, as though Jesus at any point preached exclusion or malice.

ICYMI, recently the focus of the NC religious Right (wealthy and poor alike) has suddenly become a pearl-clutching terror of the transgender community, which would be hilarious if it wasn’t so destructive. Despite a rash of suicides in North Carolina’s transgender teens  – most notably, Blake Brockington, a Charlotte-based activist who had been voted his school’s Homecoming King just months before – our legislation suddenly decided that, although it has never once been a problem before now, transgender people don’t deserve the right to use the bathroom where they’re most comfortable.  I’m sure you’ve read enough thinkpieces about why this whole HB2 thing is multifaceted bullshit (Fun Fact: It actually takes away everybody’s rights, regardless of genitalia), but what it effectively does, more than anything, is reinstate the long-standing paradigm that this is a world in which LGBTQA people are not welcome.

That this is not a new message doesn’t make it any easier for us to stomach.

The worst, however, is reading that these people who were elected by our majority of ill-educated rural conservatives are inciting more violence and suicide, and then, hoping to commiserate with the like-minded outside NC, receiving vitriol toward all of us en masse.

The last thing that the NC LGBTQA community needs right now is to be dismissed as being somehow part of the problem.  If you truly believe all Southerners are, in fact, redneck idiot inbred bigots, who, then, is the government hurting with discrimination?!

Similarly, I understand why businesses pulling their money from the state makes a powerful statement; get ‘em where it hurts. But I don’t understand why artists are boycotting the state as if it’s comparable.  When Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, or Cirque du Soleil cancel their shows, they aren’t hurting the legislators who made these oppressive laws or the wealthy conservatives who keep them in office at all; they’re hurting the venue employees and sending a message to fans that we’re not worth showing up for.

That’s the message we’re already getting from the rest of America: Fuck all of ’em! They deserve it for being so backward!

We’re still here. Some places we’re everywhere (See: Asheville), and some places we are as sparse as those tiny, windowless gay bars that continue to exist in the middle of nowhere between farming communities. But we’re still here.

Last weekend, I attended Out! Raleigh, a kid-friendly festival that was started to give LGBTQ families a safe street fair experience. It was a beautiful, cloudless day, with families of every gender combination hanging out, enjoying the music and the sunshine together. We were one block from the Capitol building, but there were no protesters all day. There were church and synagogue groups with booths giving out hugs, water bottles, and invitations to come worship. There was love and acceptance and a sense of casual freedom.

This is also North Carolina. This is why I’m proud to stay here. This is what I want you to know about us.

North Carolina isn’t in the news for things I’m proud of right now, but I’m not alone. There are many of us here – representing all genders, races, and sexualities  -who are making noise and fighting back. What we need from you, America, is your love and patience while we get right.

Just like literally everywhere else.

Sincerely,
LP-S

P.S. You’re welcome for Krispy Kreme.

Psycho Hangover 2

If you’ve ever woken up after a night off too much partying, you may’ve been horrified to learn of the things you did the night before. You may feel shame and embarrassment and total confusion about the things you said, exclaiming, “I don’t even know where [godawful terrible behavior] even came from!! I don’t feel that way at all! OH MY GOD.”

I’ve had this feeling for at least a moment every day for the last two years. Except my “Night of Hard Partying” is, instead, “One Third of My Life when Meds Made Me Insane”.

I know, I know. I keep talking about how much I’ve changed and how much better things are, but the truth is that, while I feel healthier than ever, I keep being haunted by the knowledge that I was actively someone very different for a very long time. Someone I’ve been desperately trying to get away from, for-just-fucking-ever now.

For example, while I was on the meds, I had emotional obsessions with events and people from my past that my mind fixated on every day. I quite literally prayed and performed ancient rituals to banish these infatuations from my daily life for years. But, because I’d been taught in therapy that ignoring my feelings was harmful to my psyche, I went out of my way to keep trying to get “answers” as to why my brain couldn’t let these things go.  After my detox, the obsessions finally dissipated and my mind moved on the way a healthy one does, but I was mortified to realize how needlessly all my constant probing and bothering others in my quest for “answers” had been.

Aside from the terrifying things I was convinced of during my psychotic breaks (like that time I called my best friend and calmly, rationally explained to her why I was pretty sure I was a neo-deity for an hour with “Beautiful Mind”-style connections and numerological/astrological “evidence” – as hinted at in the original Psycho Hangover post.), there are the years of medically-induced manic episodes, during which time I wafted in that odd realm between psychosis and sanity for about a week every month. I acted in confusing, impulsive ways I didn’t understand and could never explain, which now are things I’m embarrassed people recall or define me by. I remember about four years ago, in the thick of it, my husband was so frustrated when I told him “Who I’m acting like is not who I am!” and he couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just stop acting like that; I was heartbroken because I couldn’t either. Just like the obsessions, my compulsive behavior and angry outbursts stopped once I quit the psychiatric meds.

And then there are the things I can’t remember. Like with an alcoholic or drug addict, the people around me are still angry at how I was when I was sick, except, unlike active addicts, I was working my ass off the whole Goddamned time to get better… I’m already embarrassed at who the meds turned me into for a huge chunk of my life, but the worst is when I’m being told about the awful things I did/said/believed that I don’t even remember when I was otherwise sober and then being asked to answer for them.

I can’t. I keep saying that I’m so sorry over and over, every time it comes up, out of unrelenting guilt and shame. But if we’re being honest, I never feel comfortable apologizing for it; I don’t feel responsible for it because I wasn’t responsible. Or competent. I wasn’t even myself.

I’ve gotten to the point where I’ll tell many of those still demanding repeat apologies that I’m done; I can’t be held hostage for my past and at some point, it’s up to them to choose to move on or terminate our relationship. That’s been effective, but the resentment still creeps out in occasional jokes.

I’ve thought about printing out business-sized cards with the following to hand out to anyone who brings up My Shitty Past Behavior so we can move on already:

I don’t know who that was who was around for so long. I didn’t like Her. That’s why I worked my ass off to exorcise Her. I’m very sorry She scared you or offended you, but at least She didn’t try to fucking murder you like She did with me a bunch. I tried to fight Her off for a long time before She finally went away. I’m sorry you didn’t see that, but it’s okay; you’re getting an unobstructed view of Me now. Thanks for sticking around to see it. 

And look, I know I wasn’t All Psycho All Day E’rryday. I know there were things I did in there that were good and kind and selfless. I know there were moments in there where the Real Me crept out. But all those snapshots are haunted by the Crazy that constantly lurked in the periphery. That’s what’s ruining walks down Memory Lane for me recently. I never go to Facebook’s “On This Day”/Memories feature; it’s too much for my anxiety. I’m not far away enough from it to be able to enjoy it without remembering all the garbage I was going through at the time. All I wanted for years was to stop feeling like that; the last thing I want to do right now when things are so dramatically different and better is to revisit it, even in hopes to search for positive moments in the rubble.

My positive moments are now. I just want to dive in already.

 

 

 

 

Tips For Professionally Sitting Around Naked In Public

I’ve worked on and off as an artist’s model for the last 15 years* , and it’s a part-time career I’m finally starting to “Lean In” on by booking more sessions and networking within the community. I recently was at an inaugural meeting of a local art model’s guild and we were sharing tips on what we’ve learned about long-term nude sittting(other than the basic knowledge of how to create tasteful, interesting shapes with your body that benefit artists from every angle.) and I thought I’d share some with you. Don’t say I never gave y’all nothin’.

Here’s some tools of the trade I’ve picked up along the way:

1) Go Natural
The magic of being an artist’s model is that you don’t have to make yourself look like a fantasy; they want reality. Keep makeup minimal and soft (tinted moisturizers or BB creams are the best thing ever) and sweep your hair up into something loose so you’re not having to fiddle with it and artists can work with the shape of your neck and shoulders. Use a clear deodorant. If you must paint your fingernails, go with what I call the “Disney Princess Look”, which is just a solid nude tone, so your fingers look delicate and feminine but aren’t distracting with a stark French tip. Also, try to avoid tan lines. If you’re working in a studio with stage lighting, feel free to hit yourself with a little contouring and mascara, but otherwise, skip it.

2) Use Vagisil Brand Powder head-to-toe
You’re going to sweat. Even if you’re sitting still. I promise. Regular baby powder is thick, will make you look chalky, and goes on chunkily (New word alert!). Vagina powder, however, is light, fights odors even if unscent, and is translucent on the body. Also has no talc. Score!

3) Commit to a Hairstyle Down There
Look, your pubic region is going to be on display, but it isn’t the Main Event, so don’t make it a distraction. Simply put, either grow your hair out or get rid of it, but anything in between will look out of place in the context. Trimming the edges is okay – landing strips or creative designs are not.

4) Wear a Wrap Dress to the Session – Just a Wrap Dress
It seems trivial, but if you’re not wearing anything at all, strap indentations from bras and underwear are small ways that take the artist out of that ethereal, magical, otherworldly zone in which we create, and back to banal details. Plus, if you don’t bring underwear with you, you can’t accidentally leave it in the bathroom at the studio.
Oh, and BYO Robe, even if the studio owner says there’s one there you can use; you may need to use it as seat protection, and that is not something you want to share with other models.

5) Wear a Tampon
I don’t care what time of your month it is. You want a tampon in. You may be sitting for awhile in a warm room and Snail Trails are awkward to have to address in a professional setting. And plan around your period if you can.

6) Skip the Coffee/Tea
I’m not a sadist, but seriously skip the coffee or tea unless you want to be interrupting the session every 10 minutes to pee. In fact, I don’t even eat within a couple hours of a long-term sitting so I’m not dealing with unforseen digestion issues.

7) Line Up Your Focal Point With Your Nose
You might have to hold a pose for awhile, so your first inclination is to pick a focal point; however, you can still keep your eyes on a spot while your head and neck slowly melt into a different position (which results in your head looking like a weird blob in any artwork because the artists’ view is slowly changing.) To make sure your head isn’t moving position, close one eye and line your nose up with a focal point. Check in every 5 minutes to make sure you’re still lined up.

8) PRACTICE YOUR POSES BEFOREHAND
My first ever art model gig was at a huge class at what was then called North Carolina School of the Arts on a tiny block in a drafty loft-style studio in front of about 30 students all around me. We were going to start off with a few 5-minute warm up poses that the professor directed me to “give something energetic!!” so I picked a crazy, angular stance where all my weight was on one foot. Within 30 seconds, I was sure I was going to die. The rest of the session was me struggling to figure out what I could hold for longer than that that the students in the back of the class could see that wouldn’t kill me. Somehow, I booked another gig with that professor, but this time, I did some thorough research of complementary poses that both flattered and showcased my form and wouldn’t have me in agony if held long-term. Now I have an arsenal of poses for every setting at every length of time. Oh, and I also learned to…

9) Strive for Poses with 3 Resting Points
Whether you’re standing or sitting, the part of your body that is absorbing all the weight is going to start aching after a few minutes not moving. Even if you’re sitting but putting a lot of weight into your hand, that wrist is going to start freaking out if it’s working long term. With three resting points, you can shift your weight delicately between them without drastically changing your pose, which keeps intact the integrity of the image your body is creating.

10) Check In With Your Zen
If you’re sitting still for a long time and holding a pose, your mind tends to wander to your grocery list or that thing some stranger said on your way to work or repressed childhood memories or whatever. As important as it is to check in with your nose focus point, it’s also important to check in with your self every 10 minutes so your face isn’t slowly morphing into an expression of horror or resentment or heartache. Again, you want to have one stable emotion the whole time so the artist observing you isn’t trying to draw a weird amalgamation of expressions (unless they request that.) Be sure to come back to your emotional center, take a deep breath through your nose while you puff out your chest, then slowly exhale back into your pose. Roll your eyes around to stretch them out, squeeze them shut, then gently open back to your focal point. This is like hitting the “reset” button for your whole system.

*Look for my essay about my love affair with this style of modeling in next month’s Sasee magazine. And, no, they aren’t paying me to say this right now.

2, 9, 10, 13, Beltane

This fortnight seems to be the Annual Time of Year that Big Shifts Happen in my life. I only just realized it this week for some reason. On April 24, I celebrated 9 years since we found out the Bear was planning her Winter ’07 debut. On April 26, I’d been off all my psychiatric meds for a solid two years*. This weekend marks 13 years since my earnest suicide attempt and subsequent stay in a mental hospital. And today marks 10 years since the last time I checked out of an inpatient mental health facility.

More than celebration, all of this past-gazing signals that the season of Beltane/May Day seems to be as good a time as any to make bold life changes; the energy is ripe for it, and obviously I’ll be okay, if the past is meant to prove anything.

That’s actually the thing that most surprises me about this particular story of mine; I did this myself. I mean, there were people around me who were encouraging me to “get better”, but none of them knew what I needed to do that, since we all were clinging to doctors and conventional methods. In fact, when I announced “I’m quitting my medicine and my doctors, you guys!” everybody was pretty damn terrified. And I was scared, too, but, moreso, I also had a Something In Me telling me that this is what I needed.

And it was. And I did it. I did it without doctors. I did it without a support group. I did it without begging a deity to show me answers. (I did it without ribbon! I did it without tags! I did it without packages, boxes, or bags!) I just listened to myself for a change…well, I listened and actually heeded my advice for a change…

Alright, and ask anyone who has known me intimately for awhile and they’ll tell you I’m not as independent as I love to fancy myself. I’m whiny and needy too much for an adult; I love to pay people to do stuff I could easily learn how to do on my own; I constantly doubt my competence in pretty much every arena. And seriously, I cannot commit to predetermined lifestyle changes to save my life; my personal discipline is kind of pathetic. I’m not proud of it, but I’m also too apathetic afterward to feel shame about it, usually.

But then there’s this whole mental health quest I’ve been on for more than half my life. Somehow, I’ve stuck around to give myself answers, even though I was tired and bored of it by the time I turned 20. I’ve done literal years of thorough research on every problem I thought I had (most of which were brought on by the wrong medication – like bipolar tendencies and borderline personality disorder) and am ridiculously well-educated on mental illnesses, psychiatric interactions with the endocrine system, the female reproductive system, both holistic and medical approaches to healing the aforementioned, and a bundle of other topics I never in my life thought I would care about. It’s all a complete contradiction in my character, really.

It’s the first thing I ever did for myself start-to-finish. I took myself to my first psychiatrist when I went off to college (after asking for help since I was a young adolescent and being told to “stop being so dramatic”) and, 12 years later, I researched for a month before I did a DIY detox after conventional psychiatry had exhausted my options and still gave me nothing. I didn’t quit any time in there, which is very unlike me. I love to quit. I’m fantastic at quitting.  (Okay. Honestly, there were long weeks in the last 5-ish years when suicide seemed like the only sensible option if not for the fact that I’d be ruining the Bear’s chances at staying out of therapy, so I do credit her presence for giving me a reason to stay. Even still, I recognize that she was a roadblock I created for myself. If I was as fatalistic as I believed myself to be for so long, I wouldn’t have opted to bring a child into that. She’s the best possible anchor – something I don’t remember enough even now.)

None of these accomplishments are things I can bring up at class reunions. None of them have value on a résumé. In fact, if you look at my last 15 years on paper, my list of personal accomplishments don’t seem impressive at all despite me working my ass off daily to keep myself alive and my household afloat in tandem. And yet, all this work to ultimately liberating myself from medication and that prison of bullshit is without a doubt The Thing I Am Most Proud Of About Myself.

I’m not magically “All Better” these days, by the way. Now that I’m having a natural monthly cycle again for the first time in forever, I’m still having at least a day every month of debilitating depression with a side of suicidal ideation that I can’t get to shut up just like when I was 12 and all of it started (but at least I don’t act on anymore.) I’ve also started having what are known as “aura seizures” about once every couple months that go on for a solid day with very intrusive thoughts and nausea that are goddamned terrifying. I also have a lot of lower back pain and foggy brain/memory issues so I’m thinking this is an adrenal issue from my system being ramped up on agitating antidepressants for awhile; I’m getting some testing done to see if I can slowly heal that part of my endocrine system next.

And even though there’s this little voice in me screeching, “WHAT IF ALL THOSE DRUGS MESSED YOU UP FOREVER AND YOU’RE FACING AN EARLY DESCENT INTO GENETIC DEMENTIA?!!?!?”, the Voice in Me that I’m finally taking seriously is snorting, “Gurl, calm down. Haven’t you been paying attention? Even if we’re losing our minds, we’re going to get memoir material out of this.”

————————————————–

*Btw, I’m not having the giant Drug-Free for 2 Years Whee! Bash I was planning because I realized my husband and I haven’t been on a couples vacation together since Burning Man ’10, and now that we really, really like each others’ company again, we kind of want to enjoy that alone in a mountain cabin for a week instead. The prescription bottle piñata will just have to wait.

OFFICIAL STATEMENT: I’m Done Discussing my Ladyparts to the Media

File this under Things I Never Thought I’d Need to State Publicly, but here we are.
I received my 7th inquiry to participate with a “docu-series”/reality show today with regards to the article I wrote two years ago about having developed Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder…

This is the 2nd time MTV has solicited me. Two separate shows with different subjects, but still, apparently I am a prime candidate for terrible TV.

This is the 2nd time MTV has solicited me – two separate shows with different subjects, but still! 20 years ago that would’ve meant something! (CDs name shown in case others with PGAD would like to contact her regarding this inquiry.)

...and realized I should close this Pandora’s box on the record.

I no longer suffer from Persistent Genital Arousal Disorder and do not want to continue speaking on behalf of that community. 

I published a follow-up article last year via XOJane about how the condition was derived from the antidepressants I was on and how that plus my pelvic floor myofascial disorder were relieved once I took myself off all my pharmaceuticals including the Mirena IUD. I experienced intense PGAD for about 6 months – the myofascial disorder for another year. I have been symptom-free from PGAD for almost two years.

I received no medical treatment for either condition due to limited funds. I am not equipped to speak on behalf of the majority of PGAD sufferers who experience this as a chronic, genetic, hormonal, or generally recurring condition. I do not know of the most recent treatment methods, where the OB/GYN community is in their research or availability of resources. I never got involved with the online community of PGAD sufferers, so I absolutely cannot speak for them or even discuss their particular issues/campaigns.

In the two years since the original article was published, I have accepted interview requests from HuffPost Live (See video here), a team of independent female documentarians, and – on a #YOLO-embracing whim – the campy, trashtastic TLC  reality show “Sex Sent Me to the ER” (which, frankly, was a straight-up awful experience start-to-finish – with the exception of befriending our initial casting director, whom I adore.)

I’ve turned down 6 other reality shows and a feature in the ever-classy UK MirrorOnline because I feel strongly that I’ve publicly commented on this very short part of my past enough.  Continuing to publicly discuss PGAD would be taking the platform away from those who still suffer and who are still working very hard to get recognition and representation within the gynecological community. 
Not only that, but it’s painfully evident how badly most media sources just want to sensationalize the issue when women have literally killed themselves because there’s no cure or relief from symptoms; I have no interest in perpetuating this dynamic.

My vagina is currently healthy. I have no interest in trying to get barrel-bottom “famous” by continuing to talk about that brief time it went haywire ages ago.

Stories I Like to Tell*: Part I

When I got married, I hyphenated my last name, which seemed logical/natural to me. Our daughter’s surname was also hyphenated because we weren’t married when we had her, and my husband never put up a fuss about it, but for some reason, he got a little weird about me hyphenating my own.

Our conversations went as follows:
Him: I’m not mad, really. I just wish you would take my name.
Me: …But, I am taking your name.
Him: But, I mean, just my name.
Me: I’m not taking anyone else’s name…
Him: You know what I mean! Why don’t you get rid of your last name?
Me: Why don’t you get rid of yours?
Him: Because it isn’t tradition!
Me: We’ve just had a kid out of wedlock and aren’t inviting anyone to our wedding; why would we start adhering to tradition now?
Him: ::huffs:: I don’t know!
Me: [kind of playfully, but mostly smarmily] Well, at this point, two of the three of your family members have the last name “Pardue-Schultz”; realistically, you should change yours. You’re in the minority here.
Him: :::siiiiggggh:::

And that was the end of that.
I thought.

Two and a half years later, we’d moved to another state, bought a house, settled into jobs, etc. I’d had a cat, Benny, since the year before I even met my husband, and we’d acquired another, Sunny, just after we’d gotten married (but that’s a story for another S.I.L.T.T. entry) that both desperately needed check-ups. My husband made the appointment, and when I got to the vet, I was greeted by a clerk asking “And this appointment is for Sunny and Benny Schultz?”
Me: … I’m sorry. What?
Her: Sunny Schultz and Benny Schultz? The man who called wanted them registered as that.
Me: ::::siiiiiigh:::

I texted my beloved from the exam room while I was waiting for the vet.
Me: Really? You gave the cats your surname?
Him: And now I’m in the majority. :)

————————————————
*The aforementioned spouse has pointed out that there are a series of stories that I like to tell repeatedly to friends (a fact that made me very self-conscious while re-watching “I *heart* Huckabees” and saw Jude Law realize that retelling a story is what gives him a false sense of power… I digress.) while he rolls his eyes and laughs at my predictability. I thought I’d share here on the record.

Things I’m a Hypocrite About: An Ongoing Exposé

Principle: I think chasing trends and fashion is the most wasteful, superficial manifestation of this consumer culture we’ve created.
Hypocrisy: I enthusiastically watch to see what Rihanna is going to stun us with next… And I follow about 50 drag queens on Insta just to admire their selfie creations. (@PhiPhiOhara is doing #365DaysofDrag, a look per day for a year, and it is quite literally amazing.)

Principle: Capital punishment is morally wrong, barbaric, outdated, and terrifyingly flawed. Enough is enough.
Hypocrisy: If someone is convicted of child abuse (especially sexual), that person should be hurled into a shark tank on a celebrity-hosted Pay-Per-View event and we should send all the proceeds directly to the public education system.

Principle: It is absolutely none of my business what anyone does in his or her bedroom and I’m sick of it being public discussion.
Hypocrisy: I am disgusted by this grey-walls-in-the-boudoir vogue and will quietly judge it all day long. Call it “classy” all you want; all I see is a resignation to boredom. I didn’t know vanilla came in grey.

Principle: The pendulum swing back to small businesses and DIY lifestyles is exactly what we need to get America back from this ubiquitous, sweeping corporate culture that creates indentured servants out of small-town workers!
Hypocrisy: …But Starbucks is the only place in town that can do a dairy-free/soy-free/low-sugar mocha… And I just want a part-time gig from a company that isn’t on the brink of collapse due to financial issues for a change.

Principle: “Oh, I haven’t seen that commercial; I don’t really watch TV.” is something I catch myself saying a bunch. And believing.
Hypocrisy:  I’ve religiously followed “It’s Always Sunny…”, “Broad City”, “Archer”, “Baskets”, “New Girl”, and “RuPaul’s Drag Race” every season since their respective inceptions via streaming services… oh, and “Snapped”, which terrifies my husband.

Principle: Kids are the worst. My anxiety skyrockets being around more than three of them at once. And why are we even still producing them? Humanity is having a serious overpopulation issue that could easily be curbed if we pumped the brakes on procreation.
Hypocrisy: Have you met my daughter?! SHE’S MADE OF MAGIC AND SUNSHINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Here, let me give you ample opportunity to observe her general awesomeness via varied social media platforms. It won’t get old.

Principle: It’s important that we all express how we feel and stand up for our beliefs no matter what!
Hypocrisy: … Unless you honestly believe God doesn’t want you to share, interact, or coexist with anyone different than you. Then you should shut the fuck up and take a seat.

Principle: Namaste. I recognize that the Divine in you is the Divine in me, too. We are all one, and we are all manifestations of a Higher Power, interacting on a physical plane.
Hypocrisy: This is just something I want to believe but don’t yet. I can only see the Divine in the very few people who are extraordinarily kind, generous, selfless, forgiving, creative, or otherwise inspirational. For the most part, I just see secular, regular, messed up (sometimes REALLY awful) people. That doesn’t mean it’s reality; it’s just what I can observe. I should work on that.

Principle: I genuinely don’t believe in marriage; it’s an antiquated institution that isn’t based on practicality anymore aside from tax benefits. Monogamy isn’t natural and that’s not a terrible thing. Attempting to put rules and arbitrary expectations on human nature just causes way more heartache than anyone deserves. I’m not anti-marriage; I just don’t advocate it if asked (which I’m not, usually)… And I don’t at all get this obsession with weddings in our culture, but that’s another issue…
Hypocrisy: I’ve been married and monogamous for almost 8 years. And, despite a rocky start, the last couple years have been improbably, almost annoyingly ideal. I’ve even considered renewing our vows. ::shrug:: I dunno, guys.

Principle: The sugar-addicted American diet has made us so depressed, obese, and unhealthy that we have become fat little caricatures/laughingstocks to the rest of the world. Eat more vegetables!! Stop eating garbage and then piling on medications to treat the ailments that this Western diet causes! It’s costing us a fortune in insurance costs to tackle everyone’s issues that could easily be treated by consuming less sugar and empty calories. Take control of your health, people!!!!!!
Hypocrisy: I have spent $52 on the boxes of Girl Scout cookies I have singlehandedly consumed from my daughter’s inventory in the last 6 weeks. They’re $4 per box. I have also checked a dozen grocery stores in my area in anticipation of the arrival of Ben & Jerry’s Dairy Free collection. Also, summer is approaching, which I often refer to as “Cheerwine Season”.

Principle: Can we all quit telling each other what to wear and what not to wear already!?!
Hypocrisy: White people shouldn’t wear cornrows. Stop it.

What It Feels Like*

You know how, when you have an itch you can’t get to immediately – maybe it’s on your back or at the bottom of your foot under a shoe and a sock – and it gets exponentially worse with every second you can’t access it until you’re starting to feel anxious and sort of frantic until the absolute first moment you can reach it and then you GO TO TOWN scraping the everloving bejesus out of your skin in such a way that, if there was no itch, it would really, really hurt, but because there is that godforsaken itch, there’s this overwhelming, almost orgasmic feeling of relief?

Okay. The impulse to self-harm is that exact feeling, except The Itch is completely fabricated in the sufferer’s brain. The sensation of relief is identical, but usually, the brain ramps up the demands, insisting that suicide is the only real remedy for The Itch.

And that’s what suicidal ideation feels like on it’s very most basic, chemical (vs. situational) level.  Most of the time the brain will go to great lengths to support this argument, breaking out everything short of a PowerPoint presentation to illustrate aaaall the reasons that suicide is the best option. However, once a person with suicidal tendencies has gone through enough therapy to call “Bull!! Shit!!” on the mind’s thesis, the reasoning disappears while the impulse remains, regardless of how “good” or “bad” a person’s life objectively is. (Some pharmaceuticals have been known to exacerbate this impulse, which I can personally attest to… privately, where none of the companies can slap me with a slander lawsuit…)

This is why, when someone says “I feel suicidal”, trying to convince him/her how great his/her life is is not only useless, but it makes said person feel even more hopeless and guilty as to why she/he is feeling something so confusing and genuinely terrifying in the first place.

Suicidal ideation is an unhealthy hought process that desperately needs to be discussed like any other illness. Trying to convince any sick person that there’s no reason to be ill would be ridiculous in its futility and ignorance. Mental illness is no different.

 

*A public response to the emails/FB messages I’ve received about this in the last year. Thank you for asking questions, TT, DM, PS, CP, TH, NB, and JF.

Home Stretch

In 5 weeks, I might throw a massive party. I don’t want to jinx it, but it feels like this decades-long, life-encompassing mental crisis saga is actually drawing to a close. And I have answers. And sustainability. And I am not on a single medication or hormone or alternative medical treatment.
I’m au naturel. And I’m okay great.

Next month, it will be 2 years since I took myself off daily psychiatric medications and started seeking better ways to treat my literal insanity. It took another year before I completely got myself off birth control,  a one-week-per-month dose of an SSRI during my luteal phase, and the occasional Xanax. I’ve been completely psychiatric-free for 6 months now; I’ve been off the bioidentical hormone treatment I was prescribed last fall to bring back a natural monthly cycle for 2.
All I’ve taken in 2016 is a daily whole food multivitamin and antibiotics for a stupid earsnosethroat thing I had last week.

There hasn’t been a manic episode in 2 years. I haven’t felt suicidal  for even a moment in 9 months. My husband and I haven’t had a crazy, yelling argument in about 2.5 years. For the first time since I was 11, my weight has stayed EXACTLY THE SAME for an entire year now. (It’s not ideal, but consistency is totally novel here.) Last year, for the first time in ten, I survived an entire spring without my usual Annual Massive Mental Meltdown that would have me bedridden, dysfunctional, or hospitalized (Those usually required me calling my mom to ask her to come help us take care of the Bear while I couldn’t function for a handful of miserable, shameful days. Last year was her first reprieve in a long, long time.)

Thanks to the eating regimen recommended in Alisa Vitti’s  Woman Code, my painful cystic acne has cleared up after having it for a couple years, and my PMS no longer relegates me to my bed for a week every month. Also, my pelvic floor myofascial disorder is at an all-time low since my diagnosis in summer ’14. I’m mostly symptom-free…

…And, again, there is no more monthly weeklong struggle against the overwhelming impulse to self-harm/self-eradicate. This is something I never, ever thought my life would be without.

We’ve spent the last two years sort of sitting still and watching this big DIY Recovery experiment, and, while I never put a deadline on it, seeing where I am right now and the sustainable nature of it all makes me want to declare this an official success at the 2-year mark, and then MOVE ON WITH MY LIFE ALREADY, GAAAAWD.

Seriously, I remember writing “Holy shit, I’m sick of thinking about/dealing with this.” yeeeears ago. I’m so, so ready for new writing material that isn’t “My brain still sucks.”  I’ve really been enjoying this life without the Dangerous Crazy; I’m ready to dive in and actually do something with my freedom already.

This is not to say I’ll never have a mental issue again; life has trauma and loss, and I’m probably always going to be sensitive to emotions, so there’s a supergood chance I’ll encounter depression. Also, with a history of pumping my brain full of pharmaceuticals it didn’t need for 12 years, I’ll probably have to deal with some version of dementia later on down the road.
That’s okay. The gamut of mental illness is something I’ve wrestled for 20 years now; I’m not fucking afraid of it anymore. I have knowledge. I have options. I have power because I have both of the former assets. And I have myself to thank for all of those things because somehow, my lazy, narcissistic, spoiled, whiny, needy, emotionally-stunted, non-committal Self kept going and did the extra homework to find a new way out of the hole that all of us thought I’d be in my whole life.

This, to me, feels like a reason to celebrate. A lot.