Can we be frexes?

In the Huffington Post today, is an article titled, Of Course Exes are Allowed at the Wedding. Jade Walker writes that she is not only friends with her past ex-boyfriends, she had one as a witness at her wedding. Her reasoning being that she once enjoyed this person for who he was as a person and just because the romance died doesn’t mean the friendship has to. “The reason is simple: If I’ve spent months or years loving someone, I see no good reason to throw away a prized friendship just because our romance fizzled.”

I used to be like Walker. I’ve had two serious boyfriends in the past. I told each of them at the at the time we were dating, he was invited to my wedding and to my funeral. There’s so much intimacy shared in just the friendship aspect of a relationship, it made sense to have this person be part of these significant stages in my life. In a way, they helped me achieve the “significance” by contributing directly or indirectly to who I am.

Unfortunately, as I’ve grown and changed, I don’t think it’s as cut and dry anymore.

Walker says she has a clear understanding between someone in the “friend-zone” and someone in the “dating-zone”. She says some people blend the two, but because she never has, she is able to continue the friendships of her past lovers as they are now in the “friend-zone”.

I wish it were that simple but I’d like to think I’m ‘the one who got away’. Even if this were in no way shape or form to being close to the truth. It’s my truth. Which means, there’s no way an authentic friendship could be maintained.

Walker says, “I’ve been able to create a unique and wonderful circle of friends, many of whom just happen to have seen me naked at one point in time.”

It’s not so much for me that they just happen to see me naked, it’s the fact that we most likely had unremitting, sometimes awkward, sometimes mind-blowing, sex. And we will never do it again. I could see it now, sitting across from each other with our new “significant others” enjoying a nice spaghetti dinner pretending we never bawled our eyes out if front of each other, or spent days at a time in the bedroom only to come up for air and a quick bite to eat. “Kari, could you pass me the salt?” says ex-boyfriend.  “Oh, the salt? Like the salt you poured on my wound when we were drunk and you were mean to me in front of your friends and made me cry myself to sleep? That salt?” I’d say. And then I’d just smile and say “only kidding” and everyone would laugh.

Or, perhaps we could all four go to a movie, and if there’s a sex scene, we could take turns between picturing each other and picturing our present partners.  Then, maybe we’d remember the time we decided to take naked pictures of each other. Would it be rude to ask if he still has them? Maybe I’ll wait ’til the movie is over when we are all sharing a nice banana split. It will be when I’m eating the banana. Mike won’t mind, he knows ex-boyfriend is now in my “friend-zone”.

And just for kicks, let’s just say Mike didn’t care that I was friends with my exes. There’s no way their wives would be hunky dory with their husbands palling around with his shockingly stunning, perfectly shaped ass, non-saggy boobed, ex-girlfriend who isn’t married…okay, maybe I went a little overboard, but the last two are 100% true. (My boobs aren’t saggy, but that’s another post yet to be written: Kari Laskowski, the Late Bloomer.)

Walker ends her article with a list of questions to ask your partner. She claims if you had trust between you and your partner, being friends with your ex wouldn’t  be a problem.

If you agree with her or not, they are still questions worth asking. Perhaps, if only to strengthen your relationship.

Here are her questions:

Do you trust your mate to never stray?

Do you trust yourself?

Have you discussed your sexual pasts and preferences openly and honestly?

Are you upset that your mate has had other lovers despite the fact that you knew he/she wasn’t a virgin when you met?

Have you made peace with your past, or do you dwell in “what might have been”? Has your mate?

Are you an unforgiving person or more open-hearted and open-minded?

I guess what makes this difficult for me is what I loved most about the men in my past was how they made me feel. They held me in a special place- which is where Mike holds me now. So, I’m good wishing them the best and making room for new friends who can compliment my life without complicating it.

Family Ties

I waited on a man who went on a voyage to India to better understand himself. After his travels he was at peace with the fact that he didn’t need to get married. To his surprise, when he came back his girlfriend proposed to him. (Perhaps he should have ran these reasons for this ‘voyage’ by her. He could have saved himself a lot of money.)  He said,” yes,” but asked why it was important to her.

She said she wanted to profess their love in front of their friends and family, each other and God.

As for getting married for my family…

Christmas sweater my dad used to wear and gave to Mike.

I do see an importance to this when it comes to the older people in my family who enjoy a good ol’ fashioned wedding. When Mike’s grandmother passed away, I felt badly about not giving her the chance to see her grandson get married. I also have several relatives who may not be able to travel because it’s just not safe for them to do so. If there’s any regret at this point for not getting married, it’s for not doing it in front of them.

As far as my immediate family; God love em, but it’s just not enough for me to “take the plunge” in order to appease the otherwise mystified, “hilarious”, or just plain blunt comments.(And clearly, there’s way too much analyzing going on in my head in order to think this would be reason enough.) Nonetheless, even though this is my choosing, it’s not like I’ve somehow become resilient to them.

In her book, CommittedElizabeth Gilbert says getting married helps family members understand the importance of this person in your life and allows them to accept him as a new member.

Luckily, Mike hit it off with my dad from the beginning. They share nerdy history books and watch documentaries about war. Sometimes my dad tries to give him his clothes. It isn’t very easy to say “no” to my dad so Mike usually ends up saving them for theme parties. (Obvious picture to the left.)

When it comes to my family, these are the times I think being married could help:

When I told my parents we were moving in together.

Every year after that we’ve since continued to live together (four total).

When I see my oldest sister stare blankly at Mike after trying not to internalize his very “Larry David” comment. (To his defense, she has never seen Curb Your Enthusiasm. To her defense, sometimes you just need to know your audience.)

The first time I announce, “I’m pregnant.”

Any time after that (if) I continue to announce, “I’m pregnant.”

When my conservative parents still have my thirty-five-year-old, live-in boyfriend of seven years sleep in a different bed.

When we go home for events where my extended family and parents’ friends are there.

Basically, when we go home.

To me, getting married in front of each other holds the most weight. If it’s something that is important to Mike then it needs to be important to me. I understand that Mike eventually, wants to get married. I have a hard time with getting married because I think it can make people a little nutty, and I’m just not sure I’m impervious to the “nutty.” Therefore, not getting married for whatever crazy reasons I have, is also important. And if you think about it, I’ve clearly voiced my concerns.

So if we just made a minor change, “for good or for bat-ass crazy” then we’ll all be happy. I will never say “I told you so” it was right there in our vows.

(I’ve already touched on the getting married in front of God. If the curiosity strikes see Somewhere Between Church and State.)

A Thank You Note…

Helen Gurley Brown died Aug. 13, she was 90-years-old.

When I heard Helen Gurley Brown passed away earlier this week, ashamed to say, I really didn’t know who she was. The more I learned about her the more I wished I had. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan magazine in 1967. Helen attributed to the success of women having sexual freedom and healthy relationships today.

We all have memories of the first time we read Cosmopolitan. I am the youngest of four, my oldest sister, Valerie, is ten years older than me. I remember when my sister used to come home from college and bring her Cosmo. My brother, Colin, (who is just year older than me) and I would steal the magazine and bring it downstairs to the basement. It was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. I was just as surprised by the beautiful women as my brother was. They didn’t have any freckles, they had all their teeth, and they had boobs! I remember the surge of envy and excitement that shot through me. I so badly wanted to be where they were: an adult woman who had conquered puberty and could go buy bubble gum and fake cigarettes any time she wanted.

In her article, “Why You and I Need to Thank Cosmopolitan’s Helen Gurley Brown-RIP,” Bonnie Fuller writes: “When you look at the opportunities that you have today to choose the college and career of your choice. The fact that you have equal relationships with the men you love, and that you can have a sex life that you enjoy — you have to thank Helen.”

Helen is also known for writing, Sex and the Single Girl. A book that caused much commotion at the time it was published, 1962.

Dr. Ruth says, while she may be known for opening the airwaves for women to discuss sex, it was really Helen Gurley Brown who allowed it all to happen in the first place. In an article by Ruth Westheimer, from cnn.com, “I’ve been given a lot of credit for opening up the airwaves to frank sexual material, but I doubt without Helen Gurley Brown’s pioneering articles in Cosmopolitan that I could have gotten away with as much as I did.”

In her article, Fuller says, “You were supposed to become a housewife, defer to your husband and forget about thinking about sexual fulfillment — you weren’t supposed to talk, think or have sex until you were married. And even then, there was no such thing for women as HOT sex.”

Helen also stressed the importance of women seeking out careers in order to gain not only financial independence but also, a sense of self-fulfillment in a time when women were, “the most discriminated group in America.”

Thank you Helen for your bravery in enduring all of the criticism from men and women in order to  give us the gift of shamelessly embracing our sexuality.

Somewhere between Church and State.

In year 1215 the church took control of matrimony forever, laying down rigid new edicts about what would henceforth constitute legitimate marriage.– Committed

Originally, the Church frowned upon marriage. Relationships were encouraged to be with God only.  The highest calling for a man was to be a priest, for a woman it was to be a nun: both resulting in celibacy. Yet, despite the Church’s attempts to dissuade its followers from marrying, people were still choosing to. In ancient times, marriage was preserved as a means to produce heirs, strengthening familial power and land. (Pretty much having everything to do with government only.)

The Church eventually got on board around the 5th century after the Roman Empire collapsed. With it’s followers increasing in numbers (due to procreation from marriage), in 1215, the Church declared it as one of its seven sacrifices. It wasn’t until the 16th century that a wedding ceremony would traditionally take place in public, with a priest and witnesses.

I was surprised when I first read this in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, Committed. I was raised in the Catholic Church. I remember what a big deal it was for me when I had my First Communion in second grade and then six years later, my Confirmation. The next big sacrament for me  was Matrimony. I expected to be married around the age of twenty-five. I never thought I would instead decide to wait, or even possibly not participate in it altogether.

One of the main reasons people get married in a church is to get married in front of God. During college I began researching avenues other than Catholicism. Eventually, nature and meditation replaced church and priests. These were the new  vehicles that ignited my spirituality.

When people don’t understand why Mike and I are not married, a lot of the confusion stems from their religious views. Though, to me, if anyone knows what’s going to happen down the road, it’s God. I guess I just feel like God has been there from the beginning and we are the ones trying to learn what is in front of us.

There Ain’t no Shame or Blame in that Game.

In Marie Claire’s August issue, there is an article titled, “The Secret to Having more Sex,” that claims you can have more sex if you visualize it. Researchers at Dartmouth University ran tests on 48 women while they looked at pictures of food, animals, nature and people having sex. The portions of the brain that causes pleasure, the nucleus accumbens, had greater activity  in those who responded well to the to the sexual imagery. The women with the higher responses had more sex the following six months. This brings me to the obvious conclusion: women could have more sex if they allowed porn to be in their lives.

First of all, it’s no secret Fifty Shades of Grey is known for it’s racy material. According to Wikipedia, “It is notable for it’s explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, sadism,masochism.” The series has sold 40 million copies worldwide. It has become the best-selling book in Britain surpassing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows with 5.3 million copies. According to hypable.com, Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy has outsold Harry Potter sales overall in Amazon’s UK store. I think there’s a void that needs to be filled here people. I have yet to read the book, but haven’t ruled it out.

Also, it’s obvious why the Twilight movies have such a huge following among, yes tweens, but also, women of all ages. It all started with Jacob removing his shirt and not putting it back on… for the rest of the series.

If the Dartmouth University study is true, maybe that’s why the sales of these items are so high. It’s our acceptable version of porn and perhaps, if we embraced these images more often, our sex lives would be, well, enhanced.

In O, The Oprah Magazine, an article by Rachel Bertsche, written back in July of ’07, focuses on adult films for women. “We asked porn reviewer Violet Blue to recommend a starter kit of quality adult films.” Here is the list of suggestions:

  • Cult Epic’s Vintage Erotica Series: takes place in 1920’s, pre-plastic surgery. Heads-up, some of the action is a little more “hardcore”.
  • Chemistry: Actors who live together for a period of time are filmed. Shot like a reality series.
  • The Bi Apple: sex blogger, Audacia Ray, directs a film about one woman’s journey of discovering her bi-sexuality.

Also, in Women’s Health is an article titled, “Chick Flicks,” shows several adult films that are female friendly. Here are some of their suggestions.

  • Pornstar Workout: a music video inspired film with yoga, pilates, aerobics and sex.
  • The Opening of Mist Beethoven: a combination of song, dance and sex shot on location in both Italy and New York.
  • This Ain’t Star Trek XXX:perhaps you could ask your man if he wants to watch Stark Trek and throw this number in instead. The whole crew is there, but this time it’s a different type of galaxy being explored.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there is some really bad porn out there. I have an older brother whose friends brought it over to our house and every time, I’d come downstairs my brother would make his friends pause it (because he didn’t want his little sister to see it). Well, thanks for the protection big bro. but we were only a year apart, I was a Junior in High School and pausing it, really only made it worse.

(FYI, if you decide to give it a go and watch a film, don’t hit pause if someone comes into the room and you don’t want them to know what you are watching. It backfires big time.)

Kama Sutra drawing

There is a lot of shame for women to admit they would watch a porn but, the industry is as old as time.People have been looking at images of humans engaged in sex since we’ve been able to communicate through drawings. There are pictures on cave walls of stick figures in different sexual positions. Kama Sutra, for example is an ancient Indian Hindu text on human sexual behavior. Historians believe it to be composed between 400 BCE and 200 CE. It’s really a natural part of our human existence. The sooner we can laugh it off or even possibly allow ourselves to explore it, the sooner we may shake another side of sex that’s tied to shame. (I’m also, only talking to women here.)

I’m assuming these aren’t in the four star category, but I couldn’t resist. Here is my list of, Best Titles:

  • A Clear and Present Stranger
  • Add Mamma to the Train
  • Driving Miss Daisy Crazy
  • Forrest Hump
  • For Your Ass Only
  • I Know Who You Did Last Summer
  • Men in Back
  • Romancing the Bone
  • Saturday Night Beaver

A Not-So-Traditional Couple at a Traditional Wedding

We can never judge the lives of others, because each person know only their own pain and renunciation. It’s one thing to feel that you are on the right path, but it’s another to think that yours is the only path.~ Paulo Coelho

I recently went to a wedding in Selma, Alabama. There is always a different feel about marriage and family when you go to a small town. More specifically, a small southern town. The wedding felt like it came right out of the movie Sweet Home Alabama. Everyone was very friendly. The whole southern hospitality saying came alive. I went to the wedding with by boyfriend Mike, and our friend Adam. We arrived early the night before the Rehearsal Dinner. The bride’s family was hosting a cocktail party for the guests. When the three of us arrived we were the only guests in town on the groom’s side. Which means it was us three being entertained by the town of Selma. After the party, Adam, Mike and I were talking about all the different people we met. There were doctors, lawyers and people who have lived in Selma for generations. Adam and Mike were commenting on how many times they were asked what they did for a living. Not an extraordinary question, but a conversation I was left out of. I wondered why I hadn’t been asked what I did…a bit thankful at that, but nonetheless, people weren’t as interested.

I attribute this observation to two things:

1. I can have more interesting conversations with people than Mike and Adam. Therefore, know one had to resort to the old, “So, what do you do?”

2. Perhaps, because the south is very traditional, and it was clear Mike and I were an item, it wasn’t as necessary to know what I did for a living. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not claiming sexism (the bride is a well-educated, hard working dentist) all I’m saying is in a traditional setting it’s not as important for a woman to have a career. Perhaps, it was assumed that I would be having the children and quite possibly rearing them as well; while Mike would be bringing home the bacon.

This brings me to another observation. When we were at brunch with all of the guests, Mike and I met a women named Peggy. She was very sweet. She came right up to us and introduced herself. After she learned we were a couple, she asked if we were married. When I said, “no,” she quickly regretted asking me the question and apologized. I told her not to be sorry, and made a joke about Mike praying every night that I would marry him. She asked us how old we were. At the time, I was 30, and Mike was 34. She responded, “Well, that’s okay,” as a note of reassurance. I knew if I looked at Mike we would start laughing, so I avoided his eye contact (so as not to be rude to Peggy) and I heard Mike reply, “I think so too.” She then responded with, “You will at least get married before you have children, I hope.” We looked at each other, now with smirks on both of our faces, Mike asked me if I wanted children, I said, “I think so. Do you want children?” He said, “Yeah, I want kids.” He thought it would be appropriate to have the discussion, now that the subject was on the table…

We told Peggy it was nice to meet her and headed toward the rest of the guests. I’m not sharing our conversation to show how backwards I think she is or, more so, how backwards she must thing we are. However, it is interesting how people have certain ideals when it comes to marriage. It seemed as though it was such a way of life for Peggy to see a couple our age and assume they were married, that she felt apologetic when we said we weren’t. She looked at me when she said she was sorry- as though it must be Mike’s decision (or, maybe none of these things went through her head, and she apologized for being too intrusive). I didn’t mind the questions, it just seemed like I wasn’t getting the answers right.

Nonetheless, I liked Peggy. I appreciated her concern not just for my lifestyle choices, but also for the future of my bastard children. Bless her heart.

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