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November, 2012:

They’re Just Nipples . . .

Photo by Devon Christopher Adams

People who know me well know that I think bras are overrated. I don’t wear one a lot of the time. If you can pass the “pencil test,” you shouldn’t have to wear a bra in public.

What’s the pencil test? Start by taking off your shirt and your bra (if you wear one) and put a regular pencil at the base of one of your boobs (or man-boobs). Then let the pencil go. If your boob holds the pencil in place, you failed the pencil test. You’re not allowed to leave the house without a bra. If the pencil falls to the ground, you’ve passed the test. Your boobs hold themselves up so you don’t need to wear a bra.

I pass the pencil test most of the time. The only time I consistently wear a bra is when I’m working out and I need a sports bra.

I would go braless more often if it wasn’t for one small issue: nipples. Unless you’ve had a mastectomy, everybody has them. But for some reason, it’s a violation of a social norm if you can see a woman’s. (Note: If your top is see-through, you should always wear something underneath it professional settings. I’m only talking about close-fitting tops that show where your nipples are located beneath your shirt.) I was raised with the notion that it is inappropriate for a woman to “nip out” through their clothes in professional settings. That meant I was expected to wear a bra, and sometimes a padded bra if my office was really cold, to keep my nipples concealed.

Then I started to look around and I noticed that guys nip out all the time from under their t-shirts, knit and wicking shirts, and polo shirts. It’s not an issue or considered inappropriate when they do it, so why do we have a double standard for women?

I’m not turned on by the sight of anyone nipping out – male or female. However, one of my guy friends explained to me that when a guy sees a woman nipping out, it could be a sign that she’s sexually aroused and perhaps she’s sexually aroused because of the guy and that turns the guy on. Even if some people are turned on by others nipping out, it shouldn’t be a factor when it comes to women deciding if they need a bra.

Burlesque dancer Jazz Corsette says that everyone is someone else’s wet dream. Following her logic, I am somebody’s wet dream, and it probably gets better when I’m not wearing a bra. If that’s the case, please don’t tell me about it. When I don’t wear a bra, it’s because I want to be comfortable. It has nothing to do with you and it’s not a big deal. They’re just nipples.

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Rejecting Commercial Christmas

They’re playing non-stop Christmas music on the radio which is the universal indicator that the crazy portion of the holiday season has begun. I generally love the holidays, but I can’t stand the commercialistic beast that it’s become.

Dogs Fucking Hate Christmas by TheGiantVermin from Flickr

I don’t get it when I see news stories about people getting into fist fights over the last must-have toy for their kids, or people who line up on Thanksgiving afternoon to be first through the doors for the Black Friday sales. I try to have all my holiday shopping done before Thanksgiving so I can relax through December. If I shop on Black Friday, it’s for myself and for things I need, not moronic gadgets and gizmos that are only in stores 2 months a year. I try to avoid the crazies and the stupids as much as possible.

Speaking of gifts, I’m a huge fan of the gift list. I don’t shop for many people, but for those that I do, I like to get them things that they need or things they want and won’t buy for themselves. I prefer practical gifts, not stuff that’s going to end up on a shelf and collect dust. A lot of Christmas specials show that getting socks and underwear are the worst gifts a kid can get, but I’ve asked for underwear for Christmas before and I’ve given socks when they were requested.

Thanksgiving is coming up this week. I love my family’s Thanksgiving in Phoenix. First thing in the morning, a group of us go on a pre-Thanksgiving hike up one of the less popular mountains in our area. It’s a great park, with a big parking lot, and it’s not overly crowded with people or infested with bees.

In the afternoon, we gather at my aunt’s house. We prepare everything potluck style to keep one person from being overwhelmed. It’s very casual and relaxed. Nothing is forced and nothing is expected to be perfect – just good food and good company. We have a great mix of people with our extended family and a handful of Thanksgiving orphans. We try to keep things simple – and it works.

I’m looking forward to a mellow holiday season this year filled with friends, family, and amazing music. (I heart Christmas music – the good stuff like Trans-Siberian Orchestra.) I foresee a lot of laughter and joy in the next weeks.

If you happen to be one of the Christmas crazies, get away from me. I’m not buying into your program.

What’s Up with my Bear Necklace?

Photo by Sheila Dee

Over the last 15 years, I’ve lived in 4 states, earned 3 degrees, had more jobs than I can count, went from a size 12 to a size 4, and dyed my hair almost every color of the rainbow. One of the only constants in my life for all that time is my bear necklace.

I got my bear necklace as a high school graduation present from my aunt and uncle. The card in the box said it was a symbol of wisdom and courage. I’ve been told it’s from the Hopi tribe. I fell in love with it immediately. I have worn it almost every day since. The only times I don’t wear it when I leave the house is when I’m working out or going to a function that requires different accessories – usually formal attire. I look through my pictures tonight and the only times I wasn’t wearing my bear was at Pride when I wore my rainbow beads, my sister’s wedding, running races, and at paintball.

Photo by Don McPhee

All my family knows not to get me casual necklaces because they know I won’t wear them. They don’t get me anything gold either because it will clash.

Some people mistake it for a tooth or chai symbol. When I say it’s a bear, they can see it.

There have only been a few occasions when I would have worn my necklace and I didn’t.

Photo by Jeff Moriarty

One time was the day my clasp broke. I went running to my grandmother’s fancy jeweler – one of those places where the door’s locked and there’s an armed guard. I’m sure my necklace was below the value of anything they sold in the store, but I trusted them to fix it.

The other time I didn’t wear it was the day I lost it. I was devastated for the 6 hours I couldn’t find it. I thought I’d lost it at the gym. I was so heartbroken I sincerely considered getting a replica of it tattooed somewhere on my body. I was so relieved and overjoyed when I found it under some clothes on my bed.

I can’t tell you why I love my necklace…I just do.

Adjusting to Oregon Living

My friends Katie and Tyler Hurst recently relocated to Portland, Oregon. I’m excited for their new adventure but they will be definitely missed around here. To all my Portland friends, please leave comments with your suggestions of places they have to see and people they need to meet (including yourselves)!

Made in Oregon by Phillie Casablanca from Flickr

Tracking their journey from Phoenix to Portland reminded me of my first winter in Oregon. I lived in northern California for my entire life until I went to Oregon State University for college. I went through quite a culture shock. People there say “pop” instead of “soda” and they are way more accepting of other’s freakishness. And everyone’s super friendly – disturbingly so compared to California.

And it rains in Oregon – a lot. It rains from the end of October until the middle of April. In California, we don’t do much when it rained. If they did that in Oregon, the state would shut down for at least 6 months a year. Oregonians just pop their hoods up and keep walking. They don’t even carry umbrellas.  I tried carrying one for about a week and it was a pain to keep track of it.

The first winter in Oregon was the hardest. I had to adjust to the fact that it was not going to stop raining and that the sky was always gray. I became convinced that some children grow up not knowing that the sky is blue. I learned really fast to appreciate the cloud cover because if I woke up and I saw a blue sky in the winter, that meant it was bitter cold outside because there was no cloud cover to hold the heat in. (On the flip side, you get to wear really cute hat, glove, and scarf sets.)

I remember one October night during my freshman year, I was walking to dinner with my friends. It was dark and kind of drizzly. My friends were all native Oregonians. They all had their hoods down and their jackets slightly unzipped at the top. I, on the other hand, had my jacket zipped all the way up, my hood up, and I pulled my drawstrings to help keep the rain off my face. I looked like Kenny from Southpark. My friends laughed at me.

Fast-forward a few months to the beginning of spring. My parents came up from California to visit for a long weekend. They took my then-boyfriend and I on a day trip to the coast to visit the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. They still had Keiko the whale at the time. The aquarium had wonderful outdoor exhibits and my boyfriend and I were running around looking at all the sea life. It was a bit drizzly but nothing bad. We didn’t even need our hoods up. At one point I looked back to see where my parents were and I saw my Mom – looking somewhat miserable – with her jacket zipped up, her hood up, and the drawstrings pulled. That’s when I knew I’d adjusted to Oregon living.

I loved living in Oregon – the people, the quirky independent businesses, and the general accepting culture. I don’t get back there as often as I’d like. I hope you love it there Tyler and Katie! (You may need a UV lamp to help you through your first winter when you won’t see a blue sky for weeks.)

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