Author Archives: Sarah Burris

Never Being Tamed

Never Being Tamed

never being tamed

 

 

Saw this on Tumblr tonight and it really struck me by surprise.

I know it sounds crazy – maybe naive and inexperienced, but I never thought of this before. I always thought there was something wrong with me because I never wanted to calm down or stop exploring or stop adventuring.  I didn’t know there were people out there who might be looking for me because they think the same thing.

 

50 Shades of Grey Movie Poster is out!

50 Shades of Grey Movie Poster is out!

50 shades of grey movie poster

Universal Pictures has unveiled the first bit of promotional material for the film “Fifty Shades of Grey” last Friday: a poster that begins “the yearlong countdown to Valentine’s Day 2015 when the film arrives in theaters.”  Heh… they said firm.

Shockingly, the poster doesn’t give a lot of information, instead encouraging kinky lovers everywhere that a screenwriter has worked diligently to help rewrite the book in a way that is more digestible for those above a third grade reading level (Sorry Oklahoma).

If you live near one of five fancy urban street corners where the poster will be displayed, you can beg Christian Grey to tie you up yourself! Those intersections are in New York (Grand Street & 6th Ave.), Los Angeles (Wilshire Blvd. & Gayley), Chicago (LaSalle & Hubbard), San Francisco (Mission Street & 6th) and Seattle (1st & Wall Street).

It’s always nice to have someone to help you fight off the assassins

It’s always nice to have someone to help you fight off the assassins

mr and mrs smith

Yesterday. ThePrairieGay wrote about a guy who wants to marry him and have like, ten thousand of his babies. PG isn’t really in the place right now to do it.  While I think his young inexperienced adorable friend is probably misguided, I can see where he’s coming form.

So, I just got out of a relationship with someone I was in love with. Like for real in love. We have talked, he agreed he fucked it up and doesn’t understand what was going on in his head, and realistically isn’t in the place in his life right now where it makes sense for us to get back together.  His reasons are completely valid, I absolutely agree with him that there are things of a higher priority and because I love him I want more than anything for him to work out his issues.

Here’s my problem, even though I’m hurt from our break-up, and we’ve had a lot of conversations about where we are and what we feel and our intentions, I can’t stop thinking about him.  I see stuff I want to email him. Talk to him about. Gchat him.  I wish I could say I was lonely, I wish I could say it was because of sex, but the reality is that all of my needs are being met. I have enough friends, I’ve been sleeping with other people since we broke up.  I’m fine. I’m actually pretty good and I feel happy and am enjoying my daily life. But the thing is, I miss him, and I miss us.  We were actually really good together.

I hate chick flicks.  Sure I’ll watch them and roll my eyes understanding life really isn’t like that and be frustrated that we have a culture that now believes relationships must be like what they see in the movies.  I’m really more of a Mr. and Mrs. Smith romance than Maid in Manhattan.  And the idea of a graceful dance while we fight for our lives with semiautomatic weapons defending ourselves from would be assassins is more appealing than a rich dude “rescuing” me. I don’t want to be the girl that is rescued – I want to be the girl that is part of a team where we’re constantly saving each other’s asses.  Partners.

But there is something to the quote from When Harry Met Sally where Harry says “when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with someone, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

So, it’s hard. In part because I get where PG’s little dude is coming from.  I want to email my guy and as “So are you in therapy yet? How’s that going?” or “Hey, have you got your shit together yet?”  But the reality is, we all learn and grow at our own pace and our own time.  I spent the first 2 months of our relationship struggling to get out of a pretty deep depression. And you can’t force that or do it for someone.  He may never get his shit together, he may never stabilize his life, and let’s say he does, maybe he won’t love or care about me anymore.  So what’s a girl to do?  I hear you saying it, dear reader, move on.

Believe me, I want to. It’s easier when things are clear.  When he was an asshole who hurt me and dumped me, things were very clear.  When he apologizes, regrets it, wants to get his shit together, and recognizes he can’t be what I need right now and doesn’t want to take advantage of me … well, that complicates things.  I spent the first two months of our relationship not having my shit together, and now I regret it, because I wasn’t the best version of myself, I really wasn’t even a good version of myself.  And the last two months he was the worst version of himself.  Would be nice if at some point we could both be our best and be together. Even just for a little while.  After all, it’s always nice to have someone to help you face the assassins.


Now that’s romance right there.

We need a hook up cuddling app

We need a hook up cuddling app

will you cuddle with meMy co-blogger ThePrairieGay and I were discussing the value of cuddling this week.  It seems a woman in Portland is offering her services as a professional cuddler to the general public.

“What I do is meant to do a similar thing that massage does but for the mind. It’s meant to really relax you and keep you centered and balanced and help you with your sense of self-worth,” Hess said.

“It’s not sexual”

Hess will cuddle and converse with you for a dollar a minute but service stops there.

Here is the interesting thing: Cuddling is actually really good for you. Nevermind the mental health benefits like making you feel happy and loved, it has actual health befits as well.  Stop laughing. Most notably, it can reduce your blood pressure and reduce your cortisol levels.  Cortisol is the stress hormone that makes your body freak out and not process foods and fats the correct way.  If you have a big belly – chances are you’re either you have bad genetics, you’re a lazy bastard, or you work in a really really stressful job.  That has actual impacts on your health. Cortisol and I know each other quite well, because when I’m on campaigns I have increased Cortisol levels and I gain weight.  Increased belly fat makes your blood pressure go up and it is bad for your heart.

Another interesting effect is an increase of oxytocin.  So, when we hug or kiss a loved one, oxytocin levels drive up.  And according to the TED Talk (below) by Neuroeconomist Paul Zak, oxytocin could be “the moral molecule” which impacts the our ability to trust and feel empathy. And hey – it may even help make us better people.

My co-blogger and I have decided we need an app like Grindr but only for cuddling.  Totally non-sexual. No hook-ups. Zero. Only clothed cuddling. And you don’t need to post photos of your sexy chest and your big thick junk – but descriptions of your big arms and heightened sense of compassion are likely a plus.  Cuddlr would allow people to find others in their area who just need a hug and who want to curl up with someone.

 

Did being founded by the Puritans make us uptight forever?

Did being founded by the Puritans make us uptight forever?

miley vs madonna

 

There was a valuable article in Alternet this week that I highly recommend.

We are an uptight nation. All you have to do is see the freak out that occurred when Janet Jackson’s nipple was exposed on national TV. We can watch people get strangled, beaten, shot, knifed, and everywhere in between but god forbid we see a nipple.

“The real story here is how we’re such a hypersexualized, yet pleasure-starved culture. America is a Christian consumer nation bent on policing sexual expression, while selling smut and sanctimony steeped in shame. Profitable sexual transgressions are the norm, yet apparently the only threat to childhood innocence. So conversation about healthy sexuality to combat today’s paradoxical messages must be squashed to “protect the kids.” Conservative culture warriors—aided and abetted by an infotainment media that feeds off of extremes—conflate the progressive push toward sexual freedom and justice with the toxic byproduct of anything-goes commercialism.”

So how do you balance the objectification of women with the fact that we shouldn’t be so uptight?

Let’s begin by acknowledging once and for all that sex isn’t about procreation. People don’t have sex just to make babies. It turns out we do it because we like it.  Not just me. Not just you. All of us. It is the true unifier for both genders and multiple sexualities, regardless of age. Everyone likes pleasure.

The next step is to stop assholes from thinking that they’re entitled to use women for their sexual pleasures and raise boys to be respectful of women.  Not hard, right?  Rape is not ok and comes out of a lack of respect for other people. Let’s remember our humanity, and stop cutting funds for mental health services to violent offenders.

And finally via the Alternet piece:

“Questioning the stories we tell ourselves about sex frees us from having to squeeze into any Silver Slipper sexual ideal. To unlearn shame culture we must teach something else. To break the chains of purity vs. perversion, performance vs. pathology binaries, change the conversation. Let’s start with the elephant in the room, America’s unspoken taboo: pleasure. Talking sexual pleasure can be tough when most conflate pleasure with hedonism and selfishness. But sex is not only fun. While most of the animal kingdom does it solely for procreation, sex for pleasure is what makes us human.”

Because sex can cause accidents

Because sex can cause accidents
Because sex can cause accidents

I just keep thinking “We’ll just tell her we ate it…” Sex can be dangerous. Not just when you’re playing rough or when your equipment malfunctions because it wasn’t reinforced into a support beam, but if you’re inexperienced and you don’t know the way your partner’s body works and responds, you could be setting yourself up for an accident.

That’s when TLC’s new show “Sex Sent Me To The ER” comes in. Because If you fuck up fucking up… we all get to laugh at you.

When my father first started working as an EMT he told me about a woman who was a crack whore who they made a call on who’d had anal sex so rough that her rectum collapsed and the dude left so fast that he left the condom inside her.  Ok that’s not a funny story… that’s messed up.  And is so horrifying I’ll tell you, it has scared the hell out of me to such an degree that it’s one of those thoughts that runs through my mind when I’m having sex with someone.  No one needs that.  And not all stories are funny. Doubt TLC will tell those.

H/T to Jezebel for this. But I do not agree the “The Learning Channel” is no longer a “learning channel” I think there are teachable moments in this show – reinforces your sex swing being one of them.

Is love like what it is in the movies?

Is love like what it is in the movies?

Can love be like whats in the movies

I recently had someone tell me that love isn’t like it is in the movies. That it’s hard.  When I read those words it made me sad, because while I’d always viewed relationships to, at times be difficult, the idea that love was hard seemed like a horrible way to view things. Less than a week later I had dinner with someone with which I shared my relationship history. “Love actually isn’t that hard” she told me, as if she somehow knew the discussion I’d had just days previously.

I’m going to make a bold declaration and say that love is what you make of it. We decide how we view things. We have the power to control how we react and respond, and we can choose what touches our hearts and what we focus our minds and memories on.

I’ve had my heart broken, just the same as many of you readers. Not just by lovers but friends and by family.  It’s easy to be sad. It might even be easy to be so consumed by bitterness that it clouds your perceptions of what love can be. I know it’s further enhanced my inability to trust someone.

But can the fallout of a relationship be so damaging that it forever destroys your ability to see the fireworks and smell the roses? I’m going to be the jackass that has the balls to say if that’s the case you’re just being lazy. And I say this as someone for whom it took 5 years to get back on the relationship horse.

It’s hard to get past the hurt. The cliche about scars does, it turns out, hold true. Maybe that’s the part about love being difficult; working through your issues, fighting past the fear, being willing to trust someone with your deepest thoughts and emotions. But love, the kind that lasts forever, really does have the capacity to move you in ways that Bogie and Bergman would give a nod to.

How? It isn’t some magical spell, it’s just learning to let go. Let go of the fear. Let go of the bitterness. Let go of little things that bug you like how he snaps at you every time he knows he’s wrong or she has atrocious table manners. She may not be “the one” and he might not be “price charming” but when you find that person that makes you feel like you’re good together – let the other things go and only focus on the moments that bring you joy. Then it really will be like what’s in the movies, because the fireworks as the music swells is all you’ll ever remember.

The power of positive thinking, my friends… it’s hard, but the bitterness and sadness will kill everything that is beautiful and wonderful every time.

What does the fake Brad Pitt letter says about how we view love?

What does the fake Brad Pitt letter says about how we view love?

we are each others lightIf you haven’t seen the so-called Love Letter from Brad Pitt to his wife then check it out here.

One thing Snopes notes is that the sentence structure and linguistic issues indicate it likely wasn’t written by a native English speaker. That might also account for the cultural weirdness of the final sentence: “ And then I realized one thing: “The woman is the reflection of her man”"  A feminist like Angelina would have his balls in her claws in a heartbeat with a statement like this.

Our culture is a little more than obsessed with this idea of the fallen female in need of being rescued by the strong male who showers her with gifts and love. We focus on the stereotypical gender roles but also the weird belief that showering someone with gifts and attention could somehow fix anything …. which ignores pretty much any psychological convention about someone suffering from depression.

But let’s remove for a moment that this is about Brad and Angelina and let’s remove the gender from the final statement: ”A partner is the reflection of their partner.”

There is some truth in the idea that misery begets misery. When your partner is suffering from depression it can be easy to get caught up in the cycle of sadness as they work through their own issues. When I experienced my occupational burnout I lost my entire sense of self and fell into a pretty serious depression. I was lucky – it took me from about August until November to work though it and find myself again. Once I did, I was prancing around to Katy Perry, cracking bad jokes like I always do, and working out every day. But for most people it takes a lot more time, work and pharmaceuticals.

The true measure of a partner is their ability to stick it through and be emotionally supportive and be loyal.  Dudes don’t exactly have the best reputation for sticking around when the times get tough and they don’t know what to do. I think that’s another reason a letter like this lends itself to virality. We prize the man and frankly woman who “does the right thing” and stands beside his or her partner that is a shadow of her former self.  Hell there’s a whole Tammy Wynette song about it.

By that same token, a couple can also serve as each other’s light. There’s an old philosophical idea that when you look at other people you see a mirror of who you also are. When we notice positive attributes within another person, we are seeing the same goodness that resides within ourselves.  Likewise, when we observe negative traits within another, we are witnessing those parts of ourselves that we do not like. So, it’s a trade off. Sometimes you need support and sometimes you need to give support.  I’m not saying be co-dependent, but just like friendships, you celebrate each other and find the goodness.  And when you see yourself through your partners eyes you should be able to fall in love with yourself in a way.

How is Success Defined? Part 2: Burn out

How is Success Defined? Part 2: Burn out
Friends in south caroline

Kate, Matt, and Sarah at a Barack Obama rally during the South Carolina primaries.

What do you do when someone you trusted and loved tells you that they find your lack of success and happiness in your career to be a problem for them?

If you ever have the not-so-good fortune to find yourself in a position to be demeaned and belittled by someone for your “status” in life, I recommend pepper spray. I find myself as a southern woman asking the question: who raised you to think this was appropriate to say out loud? But the reality is some people really truly view status and success differently.

After nearly 10 years in politics I recently experienced what many refer to as “burn out.” Some due to exhaustion, some due to a general cynicism with the way Washington works (See Sam Youngman’s piece in Politico Magazine) and it’s ever present disconnection to the rest of the country. I have achieved more by 31 with less education and less money than most people do with law degrees by the time they turn 41. I’m proud of my work, the money I raised for candidates (which by today’s standards probably looks minuscule), and the pieces I had published in The Nation, Mother Jones, and at CNN back during the 2008 Presidential campaign.  I have the blessing and misfortune of having peaked at around 27 or 28 years old.

And somewhere along the way, the work I was doing stopped being meaningful. It became more about making other people money than making a difference or helping get a law passed or preventing someone from something crazy etc. When I was writing stories I met people whose lives were forever changed by something important or they themselves were impacting the world doing something important and their stories themselves were meaningful.

I felt a kinship with Youngman, a fellow “southerner” who, I imagine, was raised with the same values and emphasis on humility that I was.  Like him, I was happier when I was traveling the country – mostly because I was with Matt Segal or a former co-blogger Mike Connery and talking and writing about our generation.

Several months ago Matt asked me why I didn’t write anymore saying he missed it. Some of it was that I was consulting for my friend’s campaign and I pulled down my website because I was afraid of any backlash she might incur because I’m “colorful” but some of it was that living in DC there are few stories to tell. Oh look!  Another cocktail party I am forcing myself to go to this week so that I look like I’m still in the beltway culture. It gets old when the most interesting stories you hear are from bartenders and escorts.

I don’t know what the solution is and I’m still struggling to find it, but Matt has asked me to go back on the road with him and I’m inclined to do it. I may never be considered successful in the eyes of the thoughtless individual who didn’t know my history of amazing and incredible accomplishments throughout my career.  But with friends like Matt and Jarrett, like my friends back home in Oklahoma who have been so motivational, thoughtful, and supportive maybe getting back to writing and telling others’ stories is in my future.

 

How is Success Defined? Part 1: Don’t write stupid books

How is Success Defined? Part 1: Don’t write stupid books

what success really looks likeI recently had a conversation with someone about a famous writer – we’ll say this is about 50 Shades of Grey. This writer is well known, has made tons of money, and turns stuff into movies. The person who knew this writer was not really well known, made decent money but not nearly what this writer did, and sure wasn’t getting any Hollywood contracts any time soon. I shrugged my shoulders and commented, “So? She’s a bad writer.” Interestingly the person replied, “But she gets six figure book deals.” I replied, “Yeah, but she sucks.”

This erupted into a very interesting perspective that I never quite realized that some people don’t share. Most of the people in my life are what I lovingly refer to as “do-gooders.” People who have dedicated their lives to something that is meaningful to them. My friend Clay who cares about farming and land conservation, my friend Melissa who has dedicated her live to bridging the income inequality gap, my friends Matt and Jarrett who want to do whatever it takes to change the world. We all share a common value of impacting the world around us for the better.

It turns out not everyone is like this even within your own political party. For people who measure success with acclaim or monetary benefits, the goal is really more about mass marketing and the McDonald’s-azation of our cultural understanding of purpose, meaning, and status. Do more, get more. Faster. More. Supersize it, bitches!

When I think about the writer, I make fun with my English Major my nose is turned toward the sky searching for a familiar Vonnegut book to thrust it into, or talking with friends about the upcoming Salinger short stories and novels being released. But the reality is that when a writer values the quality and impact of the written word – we see it as art. It might not be a painting or a sculpture, but literature captures moments in time and articulates them in ways readers have never quite been captivated by before.  These words aren’t merely pressed between two covers or scrolled on a screen while we sit on a plane, but if they are meaningful ….. truly meaningful, they live on forever as a representation of who we are as a people, as a culture, and as a world.

This poor woman’s books, will never, not ever, be meaningful. And that’s fine. We all consume the written word for a different purpose. Some people see it as an escape or an outlet or information. Not all feel compelled to read to be moved profoundly or to experience a novel to reach a higher plain of understanding or self actualization. Sometimes we just need to mentally masturbate to brain pornography. Some people just read trashy romance novels …. or Sarah Palin.

But I don’t consider this successful, just as I wouldn’t consider a star on a reality TV show  a “success.” If you’re not contributing anything meaningful then what are you doing? What is the point of your existence?

In my world view: If you’re capable of using your skills and talents to make a lasting impact on the world (or someone’s world) that continues long after you’re gone, then you will have been a success. If you think it’s about fame or glory or recognition or cash – you’re missing the point and purpose of life.