Posts from the Deviate Category

by Carmen Farrell

My son Quinn came to me a few months ago in distress because he’d heard one of our neighbours refer to me as a hippie. He was pissed. How dare this guy call his mom something so horrible. Quinn thought it meant something derogatory, and in all likelihood, this neighbor did say it in a dissonant fashion (this neighbour and I are definitely not BFFs).  So I had to educate my kid on what a hippie was, and tell him exactly why I felt totally cool with my douchebag neighbor referring to me as one.

I was born in 1975, so I missed the whole peace-love-hippie-scene of the sixties – but I think I would have fit right in.  I don’t wear tie-dye, or flowers in my hair or do hits of LSD, but I do have strong counter-cultural leanings.  I have a shit load of grey hair, don’t dye it, and don’t plan to.   In today’s beauty-obsessed world, that’s a totally subversive act.  I also work hard at feeding my kids as little processed food as possible, I made an educated choice not to vaccinate, and feel strongly that homeschooling is better for my kids than a traditional schooling environment. I’ve gone against the grain quite a bit, and I’ve enjoyed every button-pushing minute of it.  And the neighbours…well, they notice.

One example that I used when explaining to my kid the ways in which we are different from the neighbours is how few bottles and tubes we have in the bathroom.  For a couple of years now I’ve gotten a big kick out of making my own “beauty” products. Not just because I’m crafty and making shit brings out my inner kid, but because I feel like I’m sticking it to the big corporations that make us believe that all that shit is necessary. I’m pretty sick of being marketed to…especially by the beauty industry.  Not only does my bathroom not need 87 different skin products, but soaps, shampoos, lotions and the like are loaded with unpronounceable crap proven to cause cancer in laboratory tests (go here to see where your products rank on the safety scale).  I can’t knowingly put that stuff on my kids’ bodies. So, I make my own all natural stuff.  Things like deodorant and toothpaste are easily made with a few ingredients and my own hands.  Baking soda and water is often used in lieu of shampoo, coconut oil becomes a skin mosturizer, and instead of Polysporin on boo-boos, we use a homemade calendula salve.   And it all works beautifully.

For any of you curious folks out there with “hippie” tendencies, here’s the deodorant recipe I use (care of Crunchy Betty):

  • 1-1/2 tbsp grated beeswax
  • 4 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp shea butter
  • 4 tsp clay (bentonite or other – for the batch in the photo above I used french green clay)
  • 20-25 drops essential oil (I use tea tree oil but feel free to experiment and make yours smell whatever way you like best)
  • empty deodorant container

Melt the beeswax and coconut oil on very low heat, whisking often. Once melted, add in the shea butter, whisk a few times, then remove from the heat and continue melting. After that’s melted and you have a liquid, sprinkle in the clay and continue to whisk well until everything is combined. Drop in the essential oil while continuing to whisk. Place the pan into a cool water bath, and leave for 5 minutes or until it just begins to set up. Spoon the mixture into your deodorant container and place it in the freezer for 20-30 minutes (or until completely hard). If, for some reason, it starts to get too soft on a hot day, just put it back in the freezer for a while.

Keep in mind that nothing works as well as the aluminum filled best-sellers from the drug store, but this stuff works pretty darned well.  Anyhow, I really like the musky smell of my own pits (hubby’s too!).   On days that I have nowhere to go you’ll find my pits deo-free and me occasionally lifting my arm to get a whiff.  I dig it, and would take that scent over artificial lilacs any day.

Now you.  I bet there’s at least one thing you do that would make your neighbours shake their heads in confusion.  Spill it, okay?

by Erika Ray

My family has given me powerful advice throughout the years:

Never start doing the checkbooks, shaving your legs, or mowing the lawn.  You’ll never stop. -Mom
Always be on time. -Dad
We’re all going to die.  -Mom and Dad

That last bit of wisdom has led to countless discussions during family meals.  What should be said at our funerals?  What songs will be played?  Tiny bits of masking tape are stuck to the bottom of precious family objects.  The name on the tape is the new owner when Mom and Dad kick the bucket.  We will die.  We might as well plan for it.  We aren’t so arrogant that we think it will make the event any less upsetting.  We hope it will squash family arguments in a time of mourning, but that’s a naivety we cling to in order to have these discussions.  We simply talk about it.  And as our parents get older, it seems to come up more often.  Maybe we do it to accept death.  Maybe it’s because my parents dealt with death early and our lives were changed by it.  Maybe it makes interesting conversation.  Maybe it’s a way to make sure our loved ones are celebrated in a way they’d be happy with.  Maybe we’re just a bunch of morbid assholes.  Maybe we’re realists and understand we have one last event to plan.  Maybe we do it because there should be something fun about death.  It doesn’t really matter why we do it, we just do.  To me, it’s one those important discussions you should have on a regular basis.  Similar to our parents’ reminders of where the Will is located, life insurance policies, and what to say when their security system alarms.  Every few months, these topics should be discussed.  Or so I thought.

The first time we started discussing death in front of my husband, I thought he was going to drop dead at the dinner table.  He kept saying how the discussion was morbid and sick.  We were stunned by his reaction.  Hadn’t he had a similar discussion with his family?  “But you’re going to die,” we kept saying.  This didn’t help because that was the problem.  A problem he didn’t want to have and certainly not one he had to discuss while he was busy living.  He made me realize not all families are obsessed with the End.  Until college, I thought this was a typical dinner conversation.  Nope.  His family is normal.  They don’t discuss dying or the plans associated with the finality of life.  But he’s coming around.  A few years ago, he scribbled his name on some tape and slapped it to the bottom of the pool table.

In the event that a truck runs me off the road tomorrow and my husband is beyond grief-stricken, I’ll list them here.  Be strong, Friends.  Force him to carry out these wishes.  I want one last party.

  • Hold it in a church.  I’m not religious, but they usually have really good acoustics.  Plus it adds a feeling of class.
  • Go ahead and cremate me.  Let’s get this straight.  I’ve never seen one dead body look fantastic.  You’ve never seen one either.  There will be flying cars before there’s a good-looking dead body.  I will not have people stand over me saying, “They did a nice job with her.  It sort of looks like her.”  The last lie we ever tell a person.  Instead, prop up a beautiful Black & White photo of me.  If I start to get really wrinkly, I’ll take one and email to someone.  It will resemble this one.  I don’t care if people are offended.  I’m dead.
  • I’d like very specifics mourners.  Please pick your roles now and practice.  Here are your options:
  1. I want one woman who can’t be consoled.  She must wail loudly.  Her partner must hold her up.  And right before she gets to my picture, she’ll gain composure.  She’ll smooth her dress down and she’ll begin to hold her head high.  But that will last for only a few seconds, she’ll fold with grief.
  2. I want one person bawling and when they get to my picture, grief turns to anger.  Screaming, “Why’d you have to die?!  You asshole.  Why?!!”  He or she will have to be escorted out and the escort will quietly apologize to Mark and the boys.
  3. I want one stoic person in big black sunglass to walk up to my picture.  Produce a small box of wine from her coat.  Pour a little out.  Kiss her fingers and point to heaven.
  • I would like the following songs to be played at some point during the day:
  1. Last Goodbye: Jeff Buckley
  2. The Thrill is Gone: B.B. King
  3. Dynamite: Taio Cruz
  4. Nothing Compares 2 U: Prince
  5. Fancy: Reba
  6. Dirrty: Christina Aguilera (you’re welcome for the link)
  7. Ring of Fire: Johnny Cash
  • Please don’t let the pastor of the church give the eulogy.  I hate going to funerals and the speech starts, “I met Bob at the hospital.  He loved his family and his family loved him.”  None of that fake personal shit for my funeral.  Write it as if I were sitting in front of you.  Write it honestly and don’t worry about offending the crowd.  They’re my friends.  Tell people how I loved to cuss when I shouldn’t.  How I couldn’t stop myself from sharing my opinions.  How when I became obsessed with something, I wanted other people to join me in the glow of obsession.  How I talked with strangers in Target.  How sometimes I talked on my cell phone while using the toilet, but always told the other person I was running water for a drink.  How I had stinky feet.  How daily hair washing meant it was time to get my roots touched-up.  How I couldn’t sing to save my life, but it didn’t stop me from pretending I was a diva.  How I loved a good story.  Bring the crowd down and end it with how I loved my children, family, and friends.  That always goes over well.
  • At the After Party, which will be called After Party and not Wake, there will be drinks.  I’d like extra extra dirty martinis to be served in mason jars with three large olives.  The olives should be stuffed with blue cheese.  I’d like a keg of Summer Ale by Sam Adams and plenty of lemon slices.  And a really good IPA.
  • Scattered around the After Party will be cards with reminders of my fabulous life so people have good and solid talking points.  For example:
  1. Remember when Erika’s tent broke on the camping trip and it poured that night.  And she woke up in a pool.
  2. Remember when Erika threw a fit about having to do Swim Team and she hid under her bed screaming so loudly Mom & Dad were worried about the neighbors?
  3. Remember when Erika took porn classes in college because she thought it’d be fun to minor in Pop Culture?
  4. Remember how she was once obsessed with stripper stories, quilting, cows, Katy Perry, and blogging?
  5. Remember how she told those strangers she was majoring in Scatology, was the producer of a Reality TV show, got married and divorced a month later (She forgot the lie, so she had to get divorced quickly)
  6. Remember how she was awesome most of the time…
  • I’ll let my loved ones choose the pictures, but plenty of Halloween pictures should be used.
  • If people want to cry, that’s ok.  But if it goes on too long, send them to a specific crying area.  Please have the room blasting “Remember the Time” by Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston songs.
  • Family and friends, pick the food.  I’m dead.  I could give a shit what y’all eat.  That’s one detail I’ll let slide.  Scratch that.  Just have buffalo wings as one option.

Got it?  Print this out and stash it somewhere.  When Mark says, “No.  We’ll have a dignified ceremony.”  Gently remind him that I was anything but dignified.  He’ll be in shock.  Once you remind him, he’ll be on board.  Throw the party and then get on with your life.

Deal?  Thanks.  I owe you.

If you want something at your funeral, this seems like a good place to make those wishes known.  Also if you’d like to be a mourner and have a role you’d like to play, run it by me.  I’m open to all sorts of drama.

By Jill

Years and years ago, my uncle was the scariest person that I knew. Even though he was my godfather, he still frightened me when I was a young girl for a variety of reasons: he was larger-than-life, he drove a motorcycle, he had German shepherds that were terrifying in their own right, and he had tattoos. In fact, he was the only person I knew who had tattoos. Over the years, I realized that everything that scared me as a four-year-old wasn’t that bad as a twelve-year-old. Even the dogs mellowed a little bit . . . but the only thing that I still looked at as taboo were the tattoos.

I can’t even begin to tell you what his tattoos were. Probably an eagle on his rotator cuff. Maybe something to do with his military service. Tattoos were the one thing that seemed so far away from the norm of my family that to even think about them would conjure up ideas which were certain to damn me to a life on the streets or on the back of somebody’s bike. We just didn’t do that. No tattoos. No piercings beyond the ear. Even a double piercing was pushing the bounds of “good taste” . . . god forbid your son wanted his ears pierced. What would the neighbors think?

Even in college, when girls were getting tiny flowers on their ankles or being really daring with the ubiquitous “tramp stamp” or the Pam Anderson barbed wire, I still didn’t get why people would do that. Didn’t they know that you were going to be labeled as that kind of person . . . forever? In my mind, I always saw my uncle’s tattoos, and I knew I would never get one.

I couldn’t tell you why I decided to get my first tattoo (total lie . . . I got it because I was pissed at my brother but thank god I changed my original plan because it was going to be something completely inappropriate like skeletons fucking or an anatomically correct version of a vagina) or why I decided that it didn’t matter if I had them. At some point tattoos became something that I didn’t look at as taboo or dirty or even rebellious. They just became something that I liked. I enjoyed seeing how other people could cram a wealth of personal expression into a small piece of skin no bigger than an index card. So I decided to get one. Just one. Because one would be enough. And to be completely clear, it was going to be some place that no one – especially my students – would see.

But then my daughters left for college, and for the first time in my adult life, I would be without them. So I got their birth flower on the inside of my wrist just to keep them close. Even so, I pulled my sleeves down while I taught because I didn’t want to be that teacher, the one with the tattoos. But sitting in a meeting one day with a parent who had a ginormous tattoo of creepy eyes on his arm with the phrase “Does Not Play Well With Others” tattooed under it, I realized I didn’t give a shit any more.  A few weeks later, I turned 40 and needed to see a favorite Frost quote, my “cheat sheet for life,” on a daily basis, so that made an appearance on my forearm. God knows that I was ready to put some closure to my brother’s death; what better place than the crook of my elbow. And so the tattoos grew and grew and grew.

At this point, I have eight. One is a joke and done when I met some of my O + U partners for the first time (and let’s face it . . . we didn’t know each other very well, and I’m incredibly socially awkward, and there was a tattoo place near the bar). Another is something that keeps me sane and grounded. And yet another I keep close to my heart to remind me of my daughters and the love that we share. The eighth? It’s filled with the things I love. I have no idea when I will have enough. Chances are I won’t figure that out for a few more years. Lucky for me I have a lot of skin to go around. I figure there’s still room for a map.

Is there anything that you once considered “out of bounds” that you now embrace? What changed it for you? I still don’t know why I said, “Why, yes! I’d really love to pay for that pain,” but I’ll say it over and over and over again.

by Tiffani “addicted to overusing ellipses” Michele

For this entire month, readers of this blog will be treated to a carnival of strange behavior from us O+U women in our natural habitat. Step right up and marvel at our combined freak show…be amazed as you read about housewives with habits that have never before been filmed in the wild! Tickets are free…all you have to do is pull up a chair, grab your favorite mixed drink (preferably one with whisky in it), and suspend both your disbelief and judgements!

There was some back and forth between all of us about what our theme “Deviate” really meant this month. Was it ‘deviate’ or ‘deviant’? The former implies a little hop, skip and jump off the path of normal…nothing too weird. The latter implies something so scandalous we’d have to give the blog an R rating and censor all our pictures with photoshopped black electrical tape. But according to the dictionary, to deviate is to “depart from an established course or usual or acceptable standards” while to be a deviant is to be “a person whose behavior deviates markedly from the accepted norm”. Not that big of a difference. If you deviate, you are a deviant.

This certainly held true with my upbringing. I grew up in a fundamental religion. To deviate from their norm is to be a deviant. The only thing is, when you put together a bunch of “thou shalt not” items on the same list, it leads to a weird kind of perspective. For me, there wasn’t a big difference between someone who drinks coffee and someone who uses crack cocaine. Thou shalt not do either! Paying for a coca cola and paying for a prostitute were on the same “DO NOT” list, making them kinda equal in my young mind. Wearing a tank top with short shorts was showing the same kind of immodesty as a stripper on the pole. (one church…while wearing my Steve Madden shoes…a woman said I looked like “one of those pole dancers”) Drinking alcohol and having sex. What’s the difference? Thou shalt not do either! Although technically the sex ban *is* lifted upon getting married. So I had that going for me.

I followed the accepted norm because it was just that…accepted and the norm. I didn’t know any better. There were chinks in my armor, though. I dated a guy in high school mostly because I loved to make out with him after he’d been drinking peach wine coolers and smoking cigarettes…such an intoxicating blend of fruit and forbidden. Sometimes I would watch R rated movies while drinking Coke. Double whammy! Wearing tank tops and bikini’s was rare, but sometimes if I was on vacation and knew I wouldn’t know anyone I’d break them out and put them on. I felt sufficiently terrible about all these deviations, of course…they were things to be ashamed about! My early love of alcohol, movies with the word “fuck” in them, caffeinated drinks, looking cute and sassy with shoulders and legs on display…they were going to deviate me onto Satan’s path, dammit. So I fought against them. Poorly. Until one day…I lost the fight. Spectacularly. Feelings of craziness ensued. Tank tops and short skirts?! Someone must be in the nut house!

I didn’t just hop, skip, and jump off the acceptable norm in my religious upbringing. I catapulted off of it with a martini in one hand, cigarette in the other, and a big “fuck you!!!!!” coming out of my mouth. I relished the freedom, I embraced every wrong decision, I rejoiced at each new experience. At 36, I was reborn into my life. I was a babe in the woods, like Liesl in the Sound of Music begging for her first taste of champagne. Except I was partial to whiskey and it didn’t stop there. I wanted everything that I’d been saying no to for so long, and to my credit I managed to get it.

The cost was a high one, though. One does not label oneself a deviant (which I did) without feeling a judgement associated with it. And one does not simply deviate without a judgement from other people being associated with it. One does not tra la la off the normal acceptable path without leaving some people that are still on it in the dust. “I’m disappointed in you”, “you’ve let me down”, “you’re so selfish now”, “is it a midlife crisis?”…those are heavy burdens to carry. As is the weight of your own judgements who arrive with the conjoined twins of guilt and shame.

I remember one particularly enjoyable visit to Las Vegas with some close girlfriends. There was lots of drinking. Laughing. Late nights. Dancing. Fun. Clubs and pools. Disco ball dresses and, according to the one woman from church so long ago, pole dancer shoes. In short, the whole weekend was full of things that deviated from my usual acceptable standards growing up. As we sat together on our last day, eating brunch at the Hard Rock Cafe, I ordered a coke. I looked around at my friends and all their cokes so easily ordered and started feeling panicky. Mostly because I will never order or drink a coke without thinking of all the lessons in church about how drinking coke is against orders from God himself. And that’s just about coke, you can only imagine what the shenanigans of a weekend in Vegas with friends was now starting to create in my angsty spirit. I watched all the women around me, laughing and not giving a flying fuck about the eternal state of their everlasting souls. They hadn’t deviated off their normal path…they’d been doing this shit since college. They weren’t deviants. They had no judgement from friends and family for drinking or wearing short dresses. Some of them were actually unblocked Facebook friends with their parents! Around that table, I was the only one with guilt and shame sitting right on my lap.

I started sobbing at the table, right over my mac and cheese. It was too much. I felt robbed of the kind of wild abandon people have when they live life without trying to fit into someone else’s idea of what their established course should be. I felt a huge degree of despair about how hard it was going to be feeling like a deviant for the rest of my life now that I was no longer on my acceptable path. It really was just too too much.

My friends gathered around me. Got me a coffee that they dumped some whiskey and Bailey’s into. I took a long bath with a banana, which is the most bath friendly food in the hangover comfort food group. I recentered.

In the end, it’s my friends that will get me through. The ones who have been on what I used to call “the deviant path” all along. Ironically, they have been the ones to show me the most compassion, non judgement, concern, care, and support. These O+U ladies are particularly phenomenal in their ability to love, laugh, and wave their freak flags. And because they celebrate their own freak…their own ways they’ve deviated…they also celebrate that in other people. They celebrate it in me. They encourage me to sing the song of myself. And dammit, now I’m crying and need to go find some more spiked coffee, a banana, and another bath.

But before I go, I just want to badly paraphrase more Walt Whitman.

I contain multitudes.

So do you.

Sing your song, and I’ll sing mine.

Celebrate yourself, and I’ll celebrate me.

This entire month of May, we’ll celebrate together. Even if your song deviates from someone else’s idea of what it should be. After all, someone’s idea of normal is another person’s crazy. Vice versa. So instead of labeling and judging, we’ll share this month. And hopefully, like Whitman, be satisfied as we “see, dance, laugh, sing”.

By Becky Reno

I stood in front of my students on the last day of the very first class I taught. I had this group of soon to be social workers for 10 weeks, and tried my best to convince them that a. the world isn’t fair and b. they can and should do something about it. I struggled, searching for words that would somehow impart all the hard earned wisdom I’ve grudgingly gathered over the years, in my last three minutes with them. The best I could do was beg them “remember that everyone is doing the best they can at all times. Including you. Even if it doesn’t seem good enough, it is.”

That’s the thing with our theme this past month- work: we’re all doing it in one way or another. We all have to get there, whether we’re talking about the physical journey or an emotional one.

Our work might have started as a way to pay the bills, and along the way turned into a family (sometimes literally).

Some of us are doing the work of welcoming a new member of the family or the daily drudgery that comes with them.

We’re taking on the division of work in a marriage and the work of maintaining marriage.

Then there’s that work that involves putting ourselves out there, and the need to drop the never ending judgement.

I wanted my class to understand this. That we’re all doing this work, or some semblance of it, every day. Every. Single. Day.

If I would have had about 2 more minutes with them, I think I would have taken a deep breath, and imparted this last bit of stoic wisdom on them: “let your freak flag fly.”

This is what I’m hoisting up on a stick. Apparently I’m the last woman under the age of 74 to use a shower cap.

Here’s the thing. In addition to doing the best we can, we’re a bunch of damn weirdos. Every single one of us. I’m so damn tired of trying to stifle that part of myself in order to try to appear to be some version of “normal” so I can (unsuccessfully) dodge the judgment raining down from others. I’m determined to embrace my aberrance and you’re going to help me. For the month of May we’re celebrating some of the little, and big ways that we all deviate. I’ve spent just enough time with this fantastic group of women to assure you- you’re not going to want to miss this.

Grab that flag of yours and join us, won’t you?