Accidental Cleavage

There’s been a lot of chatter on the news about dress codes lately. Much of the dress codes seem disproportionately directed at young women and girls. I’m willing to admit that what makes the news and what exists might be on two different planes of existence, but a school in North Dakota did admit to having the girls watch Pretty Woman as some kind of…educational piece on what not to wear.

Much of the dialog around dress codes seems to center on what not to show. Too much leg, too much abdomen, too much chest. You can’t have yoga pants or leggings (too tight, you can tell that there are legs!) or too short of shorts or skirts (you can actually SEE the legs that were previously only theoretical!) or midriff baring tops (too much abdomen!) or visible bra straps (oooh! foundational undergarments are a thing!) and you definitely, definitely can’t have cleavage.

This definitely violates the dress code. And probably a health code.

This definitely violates the dress code. And probably a health code. Or five.

Of course, there are likely dress code strictures against male-specific clothing (like visible undergarments), but I’m sure most people would agree that the above mentioned items are mostly directed at girls. There may be boys who wear short shorts and low cut body suits to school, but they are likely few and far between.

Those shorts are too short and that body suit is too 90s.

Those shorts are too short and that body suit is too 90s.

So, what’s the problem? Dressing like that is distracting in the classroom, according to a teacher I know (and greatly respect as a fellow human being).

On the surface, I agree. There’s no real reason to show up to school with skin showing all over the place. Dress codes prepare you for the professional world, where there are often dress codes (there’s certainly one where I work – I believe I’m not supposed to show my shoulders at work, although I’d have to double check). This is not new, and although it seems to be more in the news lately, it’s possible that it’s just getting more attention.

However, when I think more about the implications and the language used, I do start to have a problem. It’s the distraction wording. The implication (and sometimes direct statement) that the way girls dress, the amount of skin they’re showing, the fact that other people can see the curves (or not) of their bodies, is too much of a distraction for others (male classmates and occasionally teachers) is the real problem.

Maybe we should just all follow a Doctor Who themed dress code

Maybe we should just all follow a Doctor Who themed dress code

In life, there are lots of distractions. A sunny day, music, the office mate who constantly hums off key. You deal with it and get shit done. If you cannot deal with it and get shit done, then you are not going to last long in a professional world. There are other jobs that have an even higher distraction probability. Firefighting, military, police work, EMTs, probably teaching, for the love of the Taco Pope.

Learning to deal with and ignore distractions is a valuable life skill.

There are some cases in which the distractor can be blamed and dealt with (see above loud, off-key humming office mate, who is definitely not fertilizing any non-nondescript tracts of land), but there are others that cannot (just about any distraction encountered while EMT-ing, I’m guessing).

So, not only are we teaching that distractions are something that need to be shut down, we are making assumptions about our boys: (a) they cannot learn if they can see that the girls in their classrooms have girl parts and (b) that they are unable to imagine the girl parts of said girls and aren’t already doing that almost constantly.

The Doctor definitely gives the best fashion advice

The Doctor definitely gives the best fashion advice

We are creating a culture that allows boys to not take responsibility for their own thoughts and actions. I don’t care if a teenage boy looks at a teenage girl and thinks, “Damn. She is hot. I would like to get me some of that.”

I do have a problem if he thinks that and then at any point the conclusion is reached that he is entitled of get some of that. If we let boys believe that the way a girl dresses is a legitimate distraction that they should be protected from (by sending girls home and creating dress codes that don’t allow girls to show their shoulders or stomachs or thighs), then we are planting the seeds that the way a girl dresses means something about her as a person – or even worse – as an object.

He is beyond fully clothed, but still the most distracting thing I've seen today.

He is beyond fully clothed, but still the most distracting thing I’ve seen today.

Now, let’s move on to what we’re teaching our girls. By sending a girl home or telling her to cover herself because she’s showing too much cleavage, we’re reducing her to her appearance. There seems to be more emphasis placed on covering up the curves. As someone who grew up with larger than average (at least where I went to school) breasts, I can tell you what that’s like. I was, for a period of time, called Dolly Parton the Second in Junior High. I was groped on the bus. My knockers were not safe, and this was more than twenty years ago.

I have terrible posture, and a lot of that is from more than 20 years of trying to minimize the appearance of my melons.

I have a great deal of discomfort when it comes to my fun bags, because I was given – either directly or indirectly while growing up – the message that cleavage = hussy.

Now, when even a tiny hint of cleavage shows, I have anxiety. And you know what? Even now, even at almost 40, I still accidentally show my cleavage sometimes. A few weeks ago I was at work, in a meeting, wearing a new shirt. New shirt looked great when I tried it on at the store, but at work, with moving around, and walking, and leaning, apparently it wasn’t as high necked as I thought. I glanced down at my notes and saw that I was showing a lot of cleavage. A lot.

So if I, a woman who’s been anatomically gifted for 25 years now, occasionally have accidental cleavage, how on earth can anyone believe that it doesn’t happen to girls who are just starting to undergo physical changes?

And more importantly, if we’re telling those girls that their snuggle pups are something that needs to be hidden are you being honest about why?

Is it because modesty? Everyone has different standards, why is yours correct?

Is it because the boys can’t concentrate? You’re doing the boys a disservice.

Is it because you can’t concentrate? Then you know what? You’re the problem. Not the curve of a young girl’s leg.

I’d just like us all to agree that clothes don’t make the woman (or man) and that although as an adult professional, I believe there are times and places to wear certain items, I have the experience and wisdom to make those decisions. Teens are still finding their ways, and unless they’re showing up to school nude (which would be chilly and uncomfortable, as well as unsanitary), the education is more important that the possibly too-visible-for-your-comfort T&A.

Sharp dressers but not very nice folk.

Sharp dressers but not very nice folk.

 

This kind of attitude is related to the “what was she wearing?” question that so often gets asked of sexual assault victims. (Hint: it doesn’t matter! People in all sorts of clothing get assaulted!)

So, can we stop shaming people (girls? women?) for what they’re wearing? Can we stop judging them for things they often have no control over? It takes a long time to learn to wrangle a large set of mammaries, so let’s give girls a little slack and a lot of education instead!

 

Even Captain Kirk agrees. Although probably not because he's a raging feminist.

Even Captain Kirk agrees. Although probably not because he’s a raging feminist.

ETA: This is how the BEST captain feels about your casual denigration of women.

Picard...sigh

Picard…sigh

November 2014 – The Write Goals

I have one.

Write 50,000 words on the third novel in my series. Last November, I wrote the bulk of book #1. In the spring and summer, I finished book #2. And now it’s time for the third.

NaNoWriMo started today, and I banged out 1869 words this morning, so I’m well on my way to winning again. (I have to win – I already bought myself a winner’s shirt!)

(That is not me. I am much bustier.)

At some point, of course, I need to finish the first edit (and subsequent second draft) of the first book so I can send out to my brave volunteer first reader. Editing sucks, though. I much prefer the writing process.

Fortunately for me, I am free to not worry overmuch about editing for the next 29 days as I pound away on my book.

My local writing group (BATS!) is participating (all three of us) as is my PSM and first reader Cat.

I love November. I love getting up in the dark and writing with my cups of coffee every morning. I love being the only one in the house that’s awake – even the cats think I get up too early when I’m writing.

I love losing track of conversations in progress or having to rewind (or whatever you call it when it’s digital) my audiobook because my mind is caught up in my imaginary world.

I am not one who would say that I hate writing but love having written (as much as I love Dorothy Parker). I love the process and the ritual – because it is ritual for me.

Last year, I did it for my dad. This year it’s for me.

Happy November!

Run Like Hell 2014 Race Report

I haven’t written a race report in lo! these many years (since January of 2013 in fact).

I’d gotten to the point where the thought of doing an official race with actual people would cause panic. And panic is no bueno. But, now I’m on some drugs which seem to be helping regulate the anxiety (between my lack o’ panic about doing an official race AND my easy-going attitude about flying last week, I feel that something has changed).

So. I did a race. A race in costume, even!

Fucking Valkyrie Ice Queen

I attempted to do packet pick-up the day before, but misread the website (or misremembered what I’d read) and thought it lasted until 4. I showed up at 3:05 and found out that it actually ended at 3 pm. They gave me my race bib, but not my swag.

Saturday night was my work’s holiday party (yeah, Autumn Social – I guess we’re frugal? Or really into Autumn) and I had a couple or three glasses of wine. There was almost nothing I was able to eat at the party, due to a medication-induced chocolate issue and the fact that most items appeared to be fungus-adjacent (I have weird food allergies), so when the architect and I got home, I ate Alvie’s leftover pizza.

I’d laid out my racing gear.

Chainmail Mitmunk running tights (which I’ve owned for months, due to the awesome), and my Fucking Valkyrie Ice Queen outfit that I’d cobbled together from a few very, very cheap costume sets. VERY cheap.

Instead of my awesomesauce winged helmet, I wore a little plastic horned helmet that actually was held onto my head with an elastic band.

I drank coffee. I woke up my Bean. He was alarmed by my costume until I told him he’d get to ride the (MAX light rail) train. Then nothing else mattered.

We drove to the station and made the train with a minute to spare. Once we got to the race site, I grabbed my shirt and pint glass (which sadly does NOT have a giant purple octopus on it) and then got ready to run.

IMG_0242

Alvie wasn’t sure how he felt about all the costumed folk running about, but he was pretty sure that we should let him hold his own bumbrella (I love his mispronunciations) even if it wasn’t raining.

And then it was time. I lined up, and tried to get past all the people who looked like they might want to walk and everyone with strollers (although there was a stroller 10K land speed record set, so they’re not all slow) and then it was time.

It was the usual shuffle of hopeful jogging followed by slow walking to get everyone over the start line, but soon enough (thirty-nine seconds, according to the race site) we were off.

My A#1 goal was to run the whole thing and finish with a smile on my face. My secondary goals were to beat 35 minutes and break 30 minutes.

The first mile took us down to the waterfront and then along Naito to Couch (rhymes with hooch) where we hit mile 1.

Mile 1: 11:14

I knew at that point that a sub-30 5K was not in the cards. I hadn’t been terribly hopeful anyway. This was my third run in October. My first October run was 10/17. I ran once in September – right before the bronchitis set in. I think I ran 3 miles in August. None in July. My training was not top-notch, is what I’m saying.

I decided at that point to just enjoy myself and keep on running. It was right around mile 1.5 that I noticed I was feeling a bit…itchy. Every time a breeze came up, it was amazing. The cape and the costume were apparently too hot AND made out of some kind of awful irritant. I passed the first aid station, and didn’t stop, because there was another on the other side of the street, and I was positive that I’d be there soon.

Mile two really seemed to drag on. And on. And it was itchy. Finally, we started turning for the short loop that would get us headed back towards the finish and I hit mile 2.

Mile 2: 11:02

I got to the aid station and was so very, very thirsty now. I was a wee bit dehydrated apparently. I wouldn’t ordinarily stop for water on a 5K, but decided that it certainly wouldn’t hurt to do so now. I walked through the water station – my only walking in the race – and then trucked on again. The last mile seemed to go by pretty quickly. Before too long, I was turning onto Broadway, and then running by the 6 mile sign (for the 10K, obviously, I did not get lost).

I picked it up a bit again, and found I had a wee bit left in the tank as I hit the 3 mile marker.

Mile 3: 11:26 (water station + fatigue really slowed me down)

I kicked it across the finish line then, looking for my family. I didn’t see them (because they were further back), but I heard my name!

Mile 3.1: 0:50 (9:37 pace)

Total time: 34:30; official time: 34:29 (11:06 pace)

I grabbed some water and found my family. Alvie Bean was not a fan of the crowds, and was much more interested in getting back on the train than congratulating me for finishing my first official race in almost 2 years and only my 2nd since he was born. My first order of business was to get the costume off. The tights were AOK, since they were not made out of stinging nettles and poison ivy, but the rest had to go. I stripped down to my sports bra on the street and put on the conveniently acquired race shirt and my rain jacket. I was all rashy and itchy, but once the costume material (the labels on everything read: “do not wash, do not dry, do not dry clean”) was no longer in contact with my skin, I felt better.

Overall, this was my 7th official 5K, and my first in over 3 years. It fell smack dab in middle of my times.

Overall, I came in 505th of 1230 – well over the halfway mark. For my division, I was 63rd of 167 – top 40%. I’ll take it. It shouldn’t be too much work to bring my pace in under 11 minute miles (possibly being properly hydrated and fueled and uncostumed would be enough to get there), and I really believe I can get back to a race pace of under a 10 minute mile if I were to work at it. Whether or not I want to is a different question.

For now, though, I’m just happy that I did the race. And finished it. And had my family waiting at the end.

I might just have to register for something else. There’s a Thanksgiving 5K that looks pretty tempting…

 

Thirty (30!) Months with Alvie Bean

Oh, my dearest darling Bean (“I not a Bean, I a Banana!”),

I tried to give you away on Facebook this month. I didn’t get any takers. There were a couple trade-in offers, but that made me a leetle bit skeptical. You are such a wonderful child, but oh! you can be challenging. There is no end in sight to your barrier testing. You are mercurial. You will kick and hit and then say “sowwy” and offer unprompted kisses.

“You mad mommy? You mad and sad and angwy and fwustwated?”

Yes, Bean. I am all of those things.

Watching you figure out emotions – yours and others – is an interesting if occasionally (often?) frustrating process for me. I’m sure this isn’t the last time I’ll say this, but I have felt more like my bad mom days are outweighing my good mom days lately.

The Crankosaurus Rex does not WANT to go home.

The Crankosaurus Rex does not WANT to go home.

You follow up those challenging moments with such wonderful ones, though. Your sense of wonder is amazing.

BUBBLES!

BUBBLES!

You are delighted with the world around you. And you are so freaking smart. This morning as we were driving to daycare, you asked where my car keys were. When I said they were in the ignition and rattled them for effect, you said, “They make engine go, right? And engine makes car go.”

And then I was shocked. And awed. Which is pretty much how I always feel around you.

Of course you're already reading at a college level. Almost.

Of course you’re already reading at a college level. Almost.

You love words and spelling. You will spell out everything you see. “What’s that word, mommy?” You like to guess. Your bathroom stool is a Cosco brand, and you will spell it out and say, “That spell stool?” Logical guess, Bean, but no.

We were driving the other day, and you saw a billboard. “O-M-S-I. That spell OMSI, Mommy. I go OMSI.”

You have stars on your ceiling and planets dangling. You like to talk to (and about) the planets, and you recognize some of them in other places. When you see pictures of Jupiter or Saturn, you totally know what’s what.

You are, in short, amazing.

Genius.

Genius.

 

Of course, you’re also two. You have…quirks. We cut your hair last weekend. Or at least half of it. Then you declared that it hurt and would have no more of that. So you have half of an almost cute haircut.

Yeah...I don't know either.

Yeah…I don’t know either.

You love to build with your LEGOS

I build fire tower!

I build fire tower!

And play ball

I catch it!

I catch it!

And help around the house

I helping you eat them.

I help you eat them.

You hated me being sick, and would say, repeatedly (oh, so repeatedly), “Mommy, you not sick? You happy now, okay? Okay.” And then try to cheer me up by piling train tracks on me. When I took to my bed with a coughing induced migraine, you came up to check on me.

“Surprise! I came back! You happy now?”

Actually, I'm a little bit scared.

Actually, I’m a little bit scared.

We took you for a train ride on the Mt. Hood Railroad last weekend, and you had the time of your life. Trains! With whistles! And train crossings! And train crossing lights! It was amazing.

2014-10-05 11.29.06

2014-10-05-12.51.28

You are a challenge, but so are most things worth doing, right? Who wants to have the easy life, anyway?

You are amazing. The last two and a half years have gone by so quickly and it frightens me a bit to think that in the same amount of time you’ll be five. So I’m not going to think about it too much. I’m going to try really hard to enjoy two and a half as much as possible. (And to try to figure out how to explain how an engine works, since I think I botched that this morning.)

I love you Mr. Bean. You’re my favorite banana.

cheeseball

cheeseball

Love,

Mommy

Mommy too mean. Mommy a bad guy.

I know I am, because Alvie told me so. (Of course, this morning, he told me that Jupiter was the bad guy, so it’s possible I shouldn’t take his criticisms to heart.)

Yesterday I was a Bad Mom. I was home with Mr. Bean because he was up Sunday night vomiting. In the bed. On his mom. Everywhere. So I stayed home with him.

The only – ONLY – good thing about having a sick kid is the cuddles that come with a lethargic, poorly feeling child.

That was not what happened yesterday. Instead, he woke up ravenous and full of energy. I was not ravenous and full of energy. I was tired and run down. In addition to being on week four of the bronchitis that will not die, I’d been up with a sick kidlet much of the night.

He was the embodiment of Longfellow’s “There was a little girl…

He was the sweetest Bean until he wasn’t, and then it was hitting and kicking and throwing. And then kissing to make it all better.

A meltdown at lunch when he lost his cheese sandwich (he’d eaten it, and a second cheese sandwich was rejected; he wanted his cheese sandwich) was followed by a too short nap.

By four pm, after being hit, kicked, and having toys thrown at my head (kid’s got a good arm and some decent aim), I had to put myself in time out. But since I’m the only one who can be trusted to not kick the cats (yeah, that happened) or destroy the kitchen (don’t ask) that meant that my time out landed Bean in his room. He told me that he wanted me to go away and Daddy to come home because “Mommy too mean. Mommy a bad guy.”

He was not impressed with my time out. He did chill out fairly quickly, though, and started reading. And later, after the architect got home, I took myself out for a walk and a beer.

It was, to date, my roughest parenting day. I don’t think I’ve ever felt like I’d failed so very completely at being the mom I want to be.

This morning, though, it was all smiles and hugs and kisses. “I love you much, Mommy. I love me, too.”

2014-10-05 14.00.01