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by Jill Greenwood

Years ago – 1992 to be exact – I graduated from college with a degree in professional writing. Back then professional writing encompassed all the components of technical writing and was pretty much as dry and boring as it sounds. For a while after the girls were born, I did a bit of freelance work, creating newsletters for a few alumni groups in my area and the occasional editing job for some articles. I thought for a while about applying to work at our local newspaper, but after looking over the front pages, it was clear they needed an editor and not another reporter. By then, the girls were getting older and in school, and I decided to go back to school and become a teacher. Writing, it seemed, was going to take a back seat to education, but as luck would have it, I channeled my efforts towards becoming a middle school English teacher. Even though I get to pass on my love of writing to seventh graders who, let’s face it, probably don’t love it quite as much as I do, I still don’t get to write very creatively. Blogging allows me to write from a personal point of view but not creatively.

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About three or four years ago, I was struck by how each of Laura’s street photos formed an almost perfect story. She had the ability to hone in on something special with the people she photographed. Before we really knew each other, I commented on a photo she posted on Flickr that I wanted to write a story about the image. A few weeks later, Laura tagged me in a photo and said she couldn’t wait to see what I wrote. I tried . . . so many attempts . . . but nothing ever really came of it. That nagging bit of doubt kept bubbling to the surface. You’re not a writer. Not a real one, at least. Eventually I gave in and stopped trying.

But now, there’s a change coming. Laura and I have decided to give it a whirl. She’s supplying the images, and I’m trying to do them justice with some short stories. Some of the images lend themselves to a longer narrative with characters coming and going. Others are one shot deals, nothing more than a few paragraphs to describe the scene. I’m still not convinced I’m a writer, but I’m willing to try. Come on and join us at Les Bruyants!

-Erika “starting early” Ray

My parents made sure we could handle change.  No we didn’t move a hundred times during our childhood.  They didn’t swap partners a million times either.  We were just given change and didn’t have any other choice but to accept it.  They rarely ever softened it either.  It was change.  Pure and simple.  And one occasion my parents gave me the line that literally made me accept, deal, and welcome change.

I was young, but old enough.  I was the normal sixth graders age, but almost a year younger than most.  I had a summer birthday, so I had always been the youngest and the kid who never got to celebrate her birthday at school lunch.  I remember they sat me down and explained that I was going to do sixth grade again at a different Catholic school.  WHAT?  Again.  I failed?  “No, we’re going to hold you back,” they said.  Silly parents, that’s code for failed.  That’s code for You Are Stupid.  Especially to a SIXTH grader.  Especially to all the sixth graders in my class.  How was I going to go around to each one and explain that I’m not a dumb-dumb.  That my parents truly care about my emotional maturity.  While they were giving me the “emotional maturity” speech that’s the only question I was thinking about.

I knew it wasn’t because of my grades as I was in the higher learning classes.  But I didn’t understand the maturity part.  I don’t remember not being able to handle things as well as my other classmates.  But maybe if I were more mature, I’d be able to see my flaws…  They told me, I’d be the oldest in the class.  Big deal.  They told me, I’d get my license first when I got to high school.  Who cares?  I didn’t figure my parents were going to let me joyride with “babies”.  But more importantly, I’d be able to make better tough decisions when they popped up throughout my entire life.  I’d be older and wiser.  Even at my young age, I didn’t figure a slightly older 15 year-old’s dumbass decision was any better than a younger 15 year-old’s decision.

I heard them, but didn’t understand.  Imagine telling your 11-year-old girl, “You’re doing 6th grade again.  At a new school.”  I’m guessing even in your imagination, someone flipped out on you.  Maybe even tossed a shoe (I didn’t).  Now imagine that you live in a small town and you’re in Catholic school.  That there are three Catholic schools, you’re at your second one (my parents hated the first one and we were only there a year), and you’ll start the third a year behind your friends.  Catholic school are incestuous.  Everyone knew everyone and you saw everyone on the bus, at sporting events, and fish fry’s.  Me being an older sixth grader wasn’t going to make me more mature.  Dealing with that fall-out of being held back in this small fish bowl would.  I’d have to accept it and deal with it.  Because as a 11-year-old, there would be fall-out my parents wouldn’t have to deal with.  Of course I cried and didn’t get it, but there was no talking them out of it.

They ended the conversation with:  Erika, life is about change.  The sooner you learn how to handle it the easier your life will be.

Yes, wise words.  Words I haven’t forgotten.  Words that some people would read as harsh and absolutely were for a young girl to hear.  But they’re true.  Truth is rarely fluffy and pretty.  Truth is raw.  Like change, it is what it is.  You can’t sugar-coat change with white lies.  The truth of change was given to me early and that was probably better for my emotional maturity than learning about pre-Algebra again.

I started sixth grade again in the Fall.  I had a few asshole boys ask why I was still in the sixth grade.  I told them about emotional maturity and they said, “So you’re stupid?”  I’m not sure if this is when my “I Could Give a Fuck” attitude popped up or when my Father’s “I Could Give a Fuck About Your Opinion” gene switched on.  I didn’t say “Hi” to my old friends because I didn’t want to discuss it.  I remember my Mom saying, “Oh there’s so-and-so.  Say hi.  Erika, say HI!”  I didn’t.  I couldn’t.  But in the new school, I developed close friendships and very quickly it didn’t matter.

I can’t say if I handled my adolescence better because I was older than most kids.  I think my parents’ guidance, rules, and love helped me handle things better.  But what do I know?  I was just a baby of a sixth grader…  My parents made that decisions for a child who already had a healthy self-esteem.  I’m not sure most kids would react the same.  I’m not sure most kids would say it was the best decision their parents made.  Maybe my parents knew I’d handle it well or maybe they just hoped for the best.  For them it turned out well and taught their daughter a valuable lesson.  Would I recommend holding back a sixth grader?  Depends on the kid and probably not.  Now it would be incredibly difficult for a child as the internet allows for less privacy.  But I am a strong supporter of starting kids later.  Being older can’t hurt.  I do say that if you’re concerned, do it sooner than the sixth grade.

But their advice on change was spot-on.  Learn to deal with it.  You don’t have to relish and celebrate every Change that comes your way.  Some changes are Assholes and Dickheads.  But change is change.  You can’t change it.  Once it rolls in, things will be different.  So learn how to deal with it.  Look it in the eye.  Say “What’s up.” And start to dance with it.  Make it love you because you have no other choice.

20130315-ELR_1353Becks is holding his daycare blanket with his home blanket.  They’ve met and it’s a huge change we’re all dealing with.  One I didn’t count on, but we’re dancing with it.  I’ve stepped on his toes a few times and he’s off beat.  But we’re shaking it down.

by Carmen Farrell

o+u change

I’m headed into a new phase.  A really exciting phase.  A phase where I focus on healing myself.

It’s been almost 20 years since I’ve felt vital and energetic.  That’s more than half my life.  20 years of extreme fatigue and exhaustion, a face full of acne, mental disturbances like anxiety and depression,  and stomach pain accompanied by horrible digestion.

It’s hard to express how horrible I felt.  And truth be told, I hid it from most people – even my family.  I was still functioning.  I got up, went to work, ran errands.  But it was a struggle.  I had no energy.  I felt like a 65 year old trapped in a 25 year old’s body.  Doctor’s weren’t helpful either.  I was told repeatedly that perhaps I just needed to exercise more, or was blown off and made to feel like a hypochondriac.

Then I started having babies, and strangely, my symptoms went into remission while pregnant.  Once the baby arrived they’d come back but were masked by the exhaustion of parenting a newborn and then a toddler, and then another, and another.  About 6 years ago, after consulting with a naturopath, I found out that I was allergic to gluten – which was a life changer.  I started to cut back on gluten and immediately felt a difference in my energy levels.  But I also started to feel a lot of shame.  I could not stay away from gluten completely.  It was like a drug.  I could go a few days, start to feel fantastic, and then not be able to control myself and gorge (sometimes in secret).  It was a vicious cycle.  I felt like I knew what I had to do to start getting better, but didn’t have the willpower.

So things are changing and I’m finally feeling in control.  Firstly, my youngest is 3 and a half.  I no longer have a baby who’s completely dependant on me.  He’s still a little guy, but I have a lot more freedom since he has 2 big brothers who help him out when he needs it and entertain him when he’s bored.  I’m not  always needed.  Which has given me more time to focus on myself.

Secondly, I’ve put more pieces of the puzzle together.  Turns out, I have an autoimmune condition – which one isn’t clear yet – but my symptoms are very much like those associated with lupus.   I also have leaky gut which means that my digestive tract is badly damaged and is allowing foreign substances into my bloodstream and causing inflammation.  Inflammation = real bad news.

So, armed with more time for myself and new information regarding what needs to be “fixed”, the changes are a-coming!

I recently completed a Whole 30 which allowed me to reset my body’s cravings for the crap that has made me sick.  I’m eating paleo which means no grains, legumes, dairy or processed foods.  It means a lot of cooking and prep.  It means bringing my own snacks when heading to a friend’s house to hang out.  It means limiting some of what my kids eat so that I can keep the house a “temptation-free” zone.  All these things may sound restricting, but in actuality, I’m feeling an incredible sense of freedom.  I’m eating an insane amount of fresh fruits and vegetables, lots of yummy meat and tons of good fat.   My face is clearing up, I’m digesting better and my vitality is returning in full force.   Plus I’m not a raging bitch most of the time.  Win!

I remember the day I turned 30.  I was having a conversation with friends wherein I mentioned that I felt shitty a lot of the time (hello, newborn and undiagnosed medical problems) and that my goal was to feel and look amazing by my 40th birthday.  I wanted to enter into that new phase of my life with a new-found love for myself, my body and my strength.

That birthday is still 3 years away, and I’m positive that I’m going to get there, and then some.

 

By Jill Greenwood

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love music. With a passion. Like lots and lots and lots. That being said, I kinda suck at the lyrics. For the longest time, I thought that the final line of David Bowie’s “Changes” was “But I can’t change time;” turns out I was wrong . . . and really, I like my lyrics better than Bowie’s. Far be it from me to think that I’m a better lyricist than the Thin White Duke, but what the hell does tracing time even mean? Anyone? Thought so.

So what does this have to do with change? Not much other than every time someone says anything about change, I start to hum the song. We generally toss around our topics on a Facebook group that we started a while ago. Most times they are the result of the season, but this time it seemed that many of us were in a state of change. Me? Nothing major because I avoid change at all cost. Case in point: Friday nights. We’ve been having pizza every Friday night since we moved to the ‘Burg. And not just pizza. Frozen pizza. From a local grocery store. If we don’t have it, something is off for that week. Slightly obsessive-compulsive, but there you have it . . . frozen pizza, every Friday night from Weis.

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Change – not something I like. I think I would even go so far as to say that I shy away from from it. But that all changed on January 28 this year because Dave and I decided to adopt a puppy. For some reason, it seemed like a good idea. After six weeks of having the lovely Lucy in our lives, I’d have to say that it was still a good idea, but fuck . . . I’m too old for a puppy. It’s like having another baby after raising two grown children. Am I equating having a puppy is exactly like having a baby? God, lord, no! I laugh when I hear couples say, “Well, first we’re going to start with a puppy because that will give us a good idea what raising a child will be like.” Ummm, no it won’t, dipshits. It will give you a good idea what raising a puppy will be be like. Because trust me, when your own spawn eats its shit, you might stop him or her faster than your puppy. At least for your child’s sake, I’d hope you do.

Back to the decision to adopt a puppy. The one change that I knew – knew – we had to make was training. With Livie, our first dog, we didn’t really do any training because I was lazy (but you figured that, right). She was sweet, good tempered. But ring a doorbell, and she would bark. My mom would get pissed because she couldn’t sit with a biscuit on her nose like my childhood dog. Granted, that was something to see, but then again, Livie never ate a) a 10-pound rump roast; b) $40 worth of fundraiser chocolate, or c) pounds of crayons either; and, yes, Schatzie, the childhood Lab, did that and more. I’m firmly convinced it was because of the endless biscuits on her nose. Puppy 2.0 was going to be trained. That change was a huge one for me because it means constant reinforcement of good habits and redirection for the bad habits. Trust me when I say that it would be a whole lot simpler to let Lucy jump up to say her hellos when you walk in the door rather than gently push her down and say, “Off.” Right now, she’s adorable and cute when she does it. But come three years down the road, I’m pretty sure that she’ll just be an annoyance with it.

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There’s other change brewing in Chez Greenwood. My girls are graduating from college in a few months, and I have no idea what comes next for them. I’ve branched out and started reading good and proper grown-up novels (not giving up on YA though). We are finally joining the 20th century and will luxuriate in central air this summer. See? Going to Crazy Town with all this change. Maybe I won’t have frozen pizza tonight . . . who the hell am I kidding . . . that would be beyond crazy.

Spill it, people! If change scares you as much as it does me, what change do you think would be totally worth it? Pretend money and time are out of the equation . . . what change would you make right now if you could? I’ll mull them over with my third slice of Weis Magic Crust Frozen Pizza.

-Erika “Who the Hell is this” Ray

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Hello, O+U readers, it’s me Erika.  I’m afraid to go back and see the last time I posted because I know it was forever ago.  Like last year kind of forever.  I had to take a break and I think you’ll understand.  If not, you just being a cheeky little asshole.

My husband says that I have a tendency to snowball my issues.  I’ll take a tiny bump and then lump every annoyance in with it.  Creating a Snowball of Doom.  I’ll save the hassle of recreating that Snowball for you.  Just know that it starts with Moving.  Has some huge photo projects and the holidays surrounding the Move.  Packed down with the stress of owning your first home while paying on the second.  And then to round out and create a killer Snowball of Doom, you’ve got a Layoff and a house deal that almost went south.  Yes, I’ve been  dealing with an asshole of a Snowball.

But it’s starting to feel better.  The Snowball of Doom is starting to melt.  Or else I’m just sick of standing in its shadow.  Change is coming.  Another O+U-er and I were exchanging texts after the House meltdown and we thought Change would be a great subject for this month.

Some people handle it really well and others quake in its presence.  I’m in the first category.  That doesn’t mean all this change is welcomed or refreshing.  Change can kind of suck a fat one.  But you rarely get the chance to change Change.  You have to accept it and roll with it.  Dance with the little fucker or else you’ll wither on the wall.  It’s my turn to dance.  Later on in the month, I’ll talk about my first two-step with Change.  Today, I just wanted to apologize for my absence (did y’all care and miss me?) and announce the topic.

Because I’m in a flux of change, I’d really appreciate lots of comments on how you deal with it.  Do it all month-long and I’ll promise to be better about posting.  Give me some advice.  Some guidance.  Hold my hand.  Or bring me a drink.

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By Carmen Farrell

 

I like sex.  I like it a lot.   I’ve been with my guy 19 years and we’ve been whooping it up for most of that time.  The beginning was exciting and animalistic.  A big chunk of the middle was taken up by creating, then caring for new life (…man, pregnancy sex is good.  Were it not for the tiny human you’re left with after 9 months, I’d consider being pregnant constantly).  And now we’re in a new phase.  He’s fixed…so no pink lines for us to worry about, there are no more small people wedged between us at 4 am, and my boobs are mine once again and not “family” property. So the sky’s the limit in the whoopee department, right?  Maybe.  You see, despite the fact that I like sex, sometimes it just feels like work.

You have to wind down from your day; turn off mommy mode, and get into sexy mode.  Push away any new to do list items that pop up randomly.  Stop worrying about whether that rustle you heard in the other room means a kid is awake and can hear you.  It was so much easier in my younger years to turn off my mind and just be in the moment.  Now it’s something I have to work at.  Us modern day chicas keep a lot of balls up in the air, don’t we?

So you know what really feels like the ultimate gift?  A good, old-fashioned wet dream.  It’s like you’re mind’s giving you a freebie.  “Hey girl, just lay there, sleeping peacefully, and I’ll rock your body like nobody’s business, and leave you to bask in the afterglow.”   It’s great.   You’re left feeling woozy and wonderful and you didn’t have to raise a finger…literally.

I knew that dudes had them.  As a kid, the boys in the schoolyard would toss around vague references, but I had no clue they were even a girly thing until my hormones began to rage and they started happening to me.  Man, was I glad they started happening to me!

Let me tell you about my most memorable weirdest wet dream.  Well, actually, I won’t really tell you about “it” because that would just be embarrassing – and this ain’t no 50 Shades novel, anyway.  I was probably 17.  I woke up mid-orgasm and quickly went from feeling like I was flying to feeling like I was going to barf. In that moment, my dream came at me in full HD….in my mind, I’d been doing “it” with Dom DeLuise.  Yup, what may have been one of the best orgasms of my life was brought on by a much older, overweight, often sweaty, bearded comedian who I’d seen peddling Ziploc bags on TV throughout my childhood.  It certainly wasn’t the Brad Pitt/Tom Cruise/Johnny Depp trifecta that  had starred in my fantasies previously.  Let me tell you, it was hard to get back to sleep after that.  To this day, the memory still brings a mixture of horror and excitement.  He may not have been my first pick, but he got the job done.

Nowadays, my wet dreams happen very infrequently (and they’ve never again starred Mr. DeLuise)….but when they do, I feel like I’ve hit the jackpot.

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Anyone remember Dom’s Ziploc commercials from the 80s?  Give them a looksy and then see what kind of dreams you have tonight!

by Tiffani Michele

A bunch of my friends call February, “Sexuary”, and vow to have sex every day with their husbands. This has been going on for a couple years now.

Last year I ran my first half marathon and moved into a cute little house, and I kind of went under the radar while I focused, ran, and packed/unpacked my little heart out. I barely had any extra energy to feed myself, let alone spend any time texting/facebooking friends or thinking about sex. Plus, I didn’t have a boyfriend. So Sexuary came and went and I had no idea.

This year is a bit different. I happened to meet up with a bunch of these friends in Vegas and they spent part of the time talking about what they had in store for their month long sexathon…outfits they’d put together, toys they’d bought, and all the things they were going to try. Committing to a month of daily sex takes a bunch of planning and, aparently, alcohol. Also, the floozies were sexting up a storm with their husbands while they were living large in the LV.

There isn’t much I miss about being in a relationship, I think the divorce thing is still too new for me to harbor a strong desire to get back into something that still feels like going to jail…but I did feel sad that I couldn’t join in their girly games. And while I have no problems being alone, I did feel lonely for the first time in a while. I have no one to send pictures of my glittery cleavage too. Or my ass in fishnets. Or just me smiling into my phone, wishing the other person was there. My friends were nice enough to tell me I could sext them anytime and they would respond accordingly, but it’s just not the same.

I also started to opt out of all their Sexuary talk, since I’m not in a relationship nor do I have a dude for a booty call every day of the month. I also don’t have 28 dudes for a booty call one time each. I don’t have 14 booty call dudes for sex twice each. I, uh, have no booty call dudes, period.

But then I thought to myself, “Don’t forget about a little something called masturbation.”

I was raised with the belief that masturbation is wrong. To keep me from doing it, or anything bad, I was also told that God could hear my thoughts and see my deeds. And that, my friends, is a real ladyboner killer. I immediately felt sick to my stomach, and so knew I had to commit to Sexuary. Daily sex, oh yes, and with myself. I had some ‘hangups’. I had some nights I felt uninspired. I discovered that I also needed good planning and booze to pull it off.

I’ve invested in myself a lot this month. Some days I knew I didn’t feel in the mood, and did whatever it took to help myself out.

Me to me: “What do you need right now to get you to a happy, sexy place?”
Me to me: “Ice cream with hot fudge!”
or: “Baked brie with french bread!”
or: “new shoes!”
or: “something from a trashy store!”
or: “I need to dance!”
or: “I just need to find a quiet spot to chill and think. With wine.”

So far, so good.

Strike that.

So far, so great!

Actually…

So far, so amaaaaaaazing.

I shortly worked out how to get God out of my head by realizing that if he’s going to be listening to anyone’s scenarios in their head while they masturbate, they won’t be mine. Not that I’m boring, but I know a lot of highly creative people who I’m sure have a lot more twisted shit going on in their imagination that would be a lot more interesting than anything I’m whipping up in there. And with billions of people on the earth, I think my thoughts are flying under the radar.

And I don’t really give a shit anymore, anyway.

What I do give a shit about is learning how to use the most expensive toy I’ve bought for myself. All I can say is, before I didn’t know what to do with this thing that some amazon reviews claimed was “pretty and would even make an attractive sculptural decoration”…and now I can tell you it’s worth the money if you’re in the market.

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I’ve learned a lot this month. I’ve learned so much, I’m surprised. Maybe I’ll sum it all up when this Sexuary month is over. Some things have been fun to learn and some things have been profound. It’s been a lot of fun and it’s been a lot of work, too. It has taken a kind of commitment and devotion to myself that has been unprecedented in my life so far. I can only imagine that this same commitment and devotion is also present if you do it with a partner, and now I understand why my friends do this every year.

It is grueling though, so I also understand why they pick a month that only has 28 days in it!

By Jill Greenwood

Tiffani wasn’t joking about those crickets. It’s totally my fault, y’all. A while back, when Erik’s was buying her house, I took over our posting calendar. And towards the end of last month, we adopted a puppy, and that pretty much took over my life. So that’s a huge reason for our silence. But back to the good stuff…sex.

My husband and I have shared a full sized bed for 22 years. I know, I know. A full sized bed is likely the bed that most children sleep in after they emerge from their cribs. But yet we sleep in that same size bed every night. Tight squeeze but we manage. And since we’ve been sleeping in the same bed for all those years, it’s not a stretch to figure out that we do other things there, too: read, laugh, have sex, argue, joke around, figure things out, cry. Arguably, it’s where we spend most of our time together. And when he’s on a business trip, I basically stick to my side of the bed, curl up into a ball, and go to sleep.

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But on vacations – like this weekend’s Chicago getaway – I get to revel in a king sized bed. Roll around in it. Sleep on my side and never touch my husband. Laugh. Figure out what to do the next day. And revel in vacation sex. Admit it…part of the fun of a vacation is trying to figure out if the bed is as much fun as your own.

Turns out this one is. Enjoy the long weekend!

By Tiffani “Let’s Talk About Sex” Michele

When discussing the topic for this month, all of us ladies of O+U decided it was only reasonable to assume that February would be devoted to love. All things love. Love love lovey love. We all have love, feel love, give love, receive love, love the love!

And then no one posted anything.

*crickets chirping*

And then we were all, “OK, how about love and/or sex?!” and that got us excited again! For a second. And then no one posted anything.

*more crickets*

Isn’t it interesting that the two things that drive our entire human experience are also the two things that are the hardest to maintain/have energy for/open up to/accept/give. Songs are sung, poems are written, facebook status updates typed out, tweets sent, love notes poured over, sex help books penned, porn posted online, and thousands upon thousands of wishes made for love and sex. Humanity spends a lot of time and energy and money in the pursuit of both these things.

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My first love note, 9 years old.

We all want it.
We all need it.

So why are both love and sex so difficult to nourish and keep around? How is it that these two things aren’t the easiest parts of our collective lives rather than the stress, heartbreak and complications they often become?

My married friends complain about taking care of all the errands/responsibilities/work issues/life problems in their everyday lives and then not having enough energy for sex. They talk in exasperated tones about having to give so much of themselves to kids/spouse that they just don’t get a break. They fantasize about getting away for a little bit all by themselves. I remember; I used to be there, do that.

My single friends complain about doing all the work of living life without the bonus of having awesome sex to make it worth it. They talk about having so much to offer but no one around to want and appreciate it. They fantasize about sharing some of their alone time with someone else that they can laugh/cry/share/eat/grind all over. I know; I am there, think that.

I remember being married and comparing notes with my other married friends…how often do you have sex, and for about how long, and do you really get into it or just do plain old vanilla sex…just to see if my twice a week/10 minutes/same old routine experience was the norm or not. It wasn’t unusual to mentally schedule a night (or nights) for sex so that I could prepare myself during the day and try to keep the stress/busyness at bay. And so I could shave and groom. And actually put on makeup and/or a bra. When it wasn’t those scheduled nights, I would get undressed quickly in my closet with the door closed so that there would be no chance for any exposed flesh to turn anyone on.

And now, with the reality that sex isn’t guaranteed or scheduleable, I am a sex maniac. I think about it. I dream about it. I vow that when I find a partner, we are going to have sex every night before bed and every morning before we get up. I want to cuddle while we watch TV together while rocking our bodies back and forth in a shared laugh. I promise I won’t be stingy with my girl parts and will not hide them behind a closed closet door. Mostly? I don’t want to just feel love, I want to share love. And in the cheesiest sentence I will ever write, I want something else: I want to make love. I’m not saying, “I want to make love again”, I’m saying, “I’ve never experienced sex as something people do together as an awesomely inadequate substitution for actually just wanting to get everything they are and feel and hope and want and fear and love into the same space as everything the other person feels and hopes and wants and fears and loves.” That. I want that.

Aren’t we a crazy lot. We wax poetic about finding true love, then when we get it, rant and rave on Facebook about how that person is driving us batshit crazy.

I don’t know the answer. Sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. Like the grass is always greener philosophy, only sadder. Perspective is an enlightening bitch, and maybe that’s the key.

To my married friends, let me be the reminder that once sex isn’t a constant, it becomes really important again. Like, you’ll become like a raging hormonal 17 year old boy without any options. And once selfless and devoted love isn’t a constant, it becomes something worth more than any golden treasure. Life is still awesome without it, but it’s kind of like taking photographs at midday…it’s a little bit harsh and stark. Selfless and devoted love turns life into the golden hour…dreamy, sunflare-y, soft, and magical.

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And to me, and all my single friends, I’m reminded that it’s important not to get lost or defined by anything outside myself. That anything, no matter how great it is, will start to annoy me if I forget to take care and prioritize myself. And that it’s good to take some time out and just enjoy the silence of myself.

Love is in many forms. Sex is in many forms. Together, alone, with and without.

It’s messy and crazy and brings out the best and worst in people.

Let’s see what this month in O+U brings!

by Jill Greenwood

Seriously, I truly am a simple woman. Give me a cold beer and some hot wings for a meal, and I’m happy. Books? I’ll read anything as long as it has a good plot and your main character doesn’t come off as a grade-A douchebag (I’m looking at you, Eat, Pray, Love). My children? Do your best because I’m doing my best. My students? Go back and read what I wrote about my own children.

But my goals? I make them so convoluted that I never achieve what I’m setting out to do. They are so lofty that I know I’m bound to fail. And I fail spectacularly. Finish all my knitting works-in-progress? Ahh, that goal gets made every year, and I only seem to add to my WIPs. However, if I set that bar at a more manageable level (say 25% with no more than two projects added), I would probably be successful. Write a novel? Half sounds good. Hello, graduate degree? Where are you? This is the year . . . I can feel it.

But with grading last-minute items before the end of the term has a way of preventing goals getting started. Thankfully, good friends have a way of reminding you that your ultimate goal has nothing to do with knitting or novel writing or finishing your graduate degree. Yes, the ultimate goal is to meet the vice president. And if sitting on his lap and snuggling is on the table, so be it.

Jill and the Veep

I am a simple woman after all. But here’s the deal I’m willing to make with you, oh lovely O + U readers: if you can make that last goal happen, there’s a nice hand-knit something-or-other in the making for you. I do have that two project addition rule in place for a reason.