A couple weeks ago I stumbled upon Makers, a site devoted to telling the stories of powerful ladies and documenting the women’s lib movement from past to present. Stoked beyond belief, I sat down with my housemates and my boyfriend to watch the documentary version: Makers: Women Who Make America (preview here). It was a beautiful experience. We cheered and booed and I cried a little bit. At the end, I tried not to feel down for being such a complacent feminist.
When I was 16, I enrolled in an English course at the local community college. A few weeks into the class, a woman from the Feminist Majority came in to talk about feminism. She asked us to raise our hands if we identified as feminists. Only one student raised her hand, and that student was not me. I didn’t know what the word meant and I was afraid the professor might ask for the definition. I avoided eye contact with her. Over the next hour, we received a short eduction in all things feminist. At the close of the class, the Feminist Majority spokesperson asked us once again to raise our hands if we identified as feminist. We all did. I remember feeling very moved. I left the room proudly sporting the “This is what a feminist looks like” sticker she handed each of us.
The next semester I took my first Gender & Sexuality studies class and when I transferred colleges a year later I declared a minor in GenSex. I ended up dropping it, though not because the topic stopped interesting me, and, a part from acting in the Vagina Monologues my senior year, stopped taking part in organized feminist activities. I still identified as a feminist, but moving the cause forward simply meant finishing my fucking thesis so that I could graduate and, at a later date, save the world.
The point of this little story is to say that at 16, 17, and 18 I was a way cooler feminist than I am now. I attended Take Back the Night rallies, I interned for the local Women’s Shelter, I made a V-Day page on Facebook before the organization started using social media (the pages were joined last year), and I waved my feminist flag with wild and passionate motions.
When Kelly and I first started Beginners, our hope was (still is!) to provide a space for young women to share about the reality of their lives. We wanted this space to be an open one. We wanted to talk about failures, confusion, and anxiety – things that we’ve experienced since venturing out into the adult world. I hope that Beginners feels like that place to you. We want to empower young women and in doing so empower the world. That’s pretty feminist, right?
Anyhoo, check out the Makers documentary (it’s FREE and eager to be seen) over on the site. And if I haven’t piqued your interest yet, then this little fact almost certainly will push you over the edge: it’s narrated by Meryl Streep. *swoon* Yeah, I can tell you’re ready now.
Can’t sit down to watch the whole documentary this very moment? Then check out these short video clips below. I’ve included my personal faves here but you can also access all of the stories on the Makers website.
We’ve all been there. We’ve all had that one period that we threw a party for upon its arrival; we’re ladies, we’re barely making rent, and we’re in no way ready for parenthood. This, my friends, is a story about my monthly red headed aunt visitor (because God forbid, anyone just say “period”).
Recently, I fell ill with some very odd symptoms: my back was killing me, I had terrible and border-line debilitating cramps, I was nauseous and I was craving oddly specific foods – a can of cold Pepsi and a bag of Jalapeno Doritos. Oh and my period was a week late. Perfect.
Now, the birth control I’m currently using (IUD) is supposedly more effective than getting your tubes tied. Therefore, I was skeptical to go down the the preggo road at first. So, apparently wanting to learn that I had cancer, I consulted Web MD. After perusing the site for my various symptoms and narrowing down the possibilities, I reached Web MD’s SOLE conclusion: I had an IUD and was pregnant. (Yes, Web MD narrowed it down that specifically!)
As you might imagine, panic started to set in. Frantically, I began to search public forums for possible culprits based on individual symptoms (as opposed to their sum whole). It could be that I tweaked my back: had I been sitting strangely lately? It could be that I had food poisoning: had I eaten something bad lately? It could be that I had been withholding snack food from myself: had I been dieting lately? If all of these things had obvious answers, I may have created some sort of perfectly terrible storm and my body had decided to react to all these things at once.
Or I was pregnant with an IUD.
Unfortunately for me, I had not been sitting strangely lately. I hadn’t eaten anything bad lately either. And I most certainly hadn’t been dieting (you’ve all seen my food board).
I thought long and hard about what might have caused all these issues…because I needed to rule out pregnancy and taking a test was really too frightening to consider at that point. So after racking my brain, I realized that I had worn a high wasted belt when this all started; maybe that caused the back issue? I had accidentally had a little bit of mayonnaise (I never have mayo due to my intense repulsion to consuming purified fat) earlier that week. Maybe after over 10 years of non-consumption, I was reacting to that, causing stomach issues? And I had been on a veggie binge for a while at that point, so maybe I had reached the point where my body just wanted to eat garbage?
I gave it a few days, hoping that those small things would turn out to be the true epicenter of this shit-show. After a week more of period-less existence, I finally knew it was time to take a test. “If I don’t have it tomorrow,” I literally said aloud to myself like a woman losing her mind, “I’m taking a test.” And then, as if my uterus went, “Oh you’re worried? Shit. Sorry about that,” I received confirmation that I was not, in fact, pregnant.
I yelled, “YES!!!” in the ladies room and scared some poor woman with my oddly enthusiastic potty break. And with a smile on my face, I asked, “do you have a tampon?”
I remember in high school, two girls walking around play rehearsal and, after placing their pinched fingers on our kneecaps, they opened up their hands, running the nails along each person’s leg. The result was a spine-tingling, delicious shiver, like the “crack an egg on your head” game from elementary school.
“That,” they proclaimed triumphantly, “is 1/10th of an orgasm.”
For the next 7 years, that was about as close as I could get to imagining an orgasm. As a sexual late-bloomer, I didn’t get kissed until I was 17, and as best I can figure, I was too busy fixating on the lack of kissing in my life to worry too much about sex or orgasms. If there was a way to stimulate kissing (autoerotic make-outs?) I would have been all over that. But I didn’t find myself dwelling on (or attempting to) masturbate much, before or after my first boyfriend.
Of course, with the boyfriend, there was a lot of wandering of mouths and hands, and eventually “going all the way.” Seventeen years of sexual frustration exploded in a few magic months, and while things quickly soured before we could even leave the blush of new love, I am grateful that I had an equally inexperienced partner to practice with and to learn on. Surprisingly, he knew more about female anatomy than me, thanks to internet-available pornography. While my own attempts at self-exploration yielded little more than a slightly satisfying feeling, akin to a good scratch on the back, he was able to focus in his fingers for a distinctly sexual- albeit intense- experience. As nice as I found this, I was pretty sure I wasn’t orgasming. I still wasn’t totally clear on the details, but I figured I’d know when it happened.
Sadly, with him it never did. However, he wanted it desperately, seemingly more than I did, so I did fake it. A lot. Like, two or three times in the span of an hour. If I regret anything from my first relationship, it might be that I let this poor boy loose into the world believing himself to have magic fingers. When things ended, I wasn’t too concerned. Easy come, easy go, even if the coming wasn’t so easy. I don’t think it ever occurred to me that he might remain my only boyfriend for the next six years.
Instead, in college, there was a spate of boys. Most of them were strangers (though not all), many of them I met at parties. One guy crashed my party, another guy asked me to dance when he found me looking for my friends at a bar. Another guy I had never spoken to outside of our seminar, until he asked me to his room one night, and I, high off of one of my first bong hits, agreed, only realizing when I got to his door why I was there. Exchange student or guy I met on vacation, they all had one thing in common: none of them made me come, either, and I was faking it for them, too. As differently as they all began, the scenes started playing the same once we were in bed: a boy’s fingers, working feverishly, everything feeling nice ,until the arch of my foot started to seize up painfully. I would try to push through, thinking it must be like the tension in the moment before a rubber band breaks, but I couldn’t do it. I always either pulled his hands away, or let out a small yelp of pleasure (“I just came!”) to go ahead and end things.
I didn’t see any point. I already knew it wouldn’t happen. I was broken. I figured that there were just some people out there- and I just might be one of them- who couldn’t come. I figured I was wired wrong, with some trigger connecting my vagina to the arch of my foot, or a missed connection in the central nervous system. I started blurting it out to female friends after a few beers, and most of them reacted in horror. For them, it would seem orgasming- either alone or with someone- was as easy as coaxing the cork out of a champagne bottle once you’ve figured it out.
“Wait,” a friend would gasp over a pitcher of light beer or boxed wine, “Not even by yourself?” By this point, I was trying, but rather infrequently. Going at it the only way I knew how- using the same rapid strokes of my former flames and hook-ups- i not surprisingly got the same result: Tensed-up arches and tears.
Salvation came from an unexpected place. As a senior in college, I wrote and performed a monologue on faking orgasms with my first boyfriend. Hoping to keep the existence of such a piece buried, I asked that any publication of the monologue list me as the anonymous writer and performer of the piece. Nevertheless, my mother sussed it out, thanks to Facebook. She saw I was planning to attend an event. Well, what was it about? How are you involved?
“I’d rather not say,” I sputtered, but she coaxed it out of me.
“Ok. It’s a monologue. It’s about sex. You can see it if you want to, but you can never, ever, EVER say anything to dad about it.”
I agreed to send her the piece on those terms, and that was the last we ever mentioned of it, save one conversation in the car a month later.
“Are you still faking it?”
“Have you tried going really slow? It always takes me a while.”
And god bless my mother for saying one of the most nakedly personal things she could ever say, because damnit if she wasn’t right. Later that week, I tried it, really tried it, going slow. Without the over-eager porno-trained fingers of drunken strangers, or my own ersatz impersonations, I tried going very, very slowly. And, at 21, I finally had my first orgasm. While I can say it reminds me absolutely nothing of having someone scratch your knee, I will say my initial suspicion at 17 was right- when you have one, you know.
Every morning it’s the same routine. My alarm goes off at 6:30am. Flustered and cranky, I hit the glorious “just a few more minutes” snooze button…. 6:45… Snooze… 7:15… Snooze… 7:30… 7:45… 8am. Snooze. Snooze. Snooze. I blame it on the time change, the weather, the dog’s restlessness that night, or the absurdly early garbage collection.
To be totally honest, I’m just not a morning person. I could get 6 hours of sleep or 10 hours of sleep, I still won’t wake up on time. I’m a late early riser, and while today I was late because my room was just too warm last night, I will continue setting my alarm absurdly early, in hopes that one day I’ll finally get up on time.
All drawings are property of Orlie Kapitulnik and Beginners Magazine. You may only use the images with permission from the artist.
Imagine you hit the snooze button a few more times than you meant to one morning. Once your eyes finally focus on the time, you gasp “It’s 8 already! How is it 8!?” Your bus comes in 15 minutes. You toss some poptarts into the toaster and take a lightning speed shower. You hop out and towel dry your hair as you shuffle to your closet. And there you stand. “What the heck should I wear?” When you have 9 minutes to get yourself to the bus stop there is no time to play that game.
A good friend in college gave me the best tip for dressing when you are running late: wear a dress.
There are several reasons why a dress is your best bet:
1. Dresses are the easiest and fastest thing to put on. One piece. None of the “does this fit with that” shenanigans. One piece and you’re done.
2. Dresses look put together. Something about a gal in a dress makes her look like she has her shit together. (Thank goodness.)
3. Dresses work with the seasons. In spring and summer, wear your dress with a cardigan and wedges or flats. In the fall and winter, put your dress together with tights, boots, and a coat and you are good to go.
4. You’ll feel ready for anything. When you throw on wrinkled pants and a shirt that you’ve already worn twice, that “running late” feeling will be stuck with you all day. You’ll feel frumpy, which will probably affect your mood. When you put on something that you know looks good, you will feel good too. So, if your boss calls a last minute meeting or your cute coworker flashes a smile your way, you can be sure to feel confident in your dress look. (And no one will know you thew it on in 2 minutes!)
Featured image via The Sartorialist
So I was looking back at my previous posts, and I realized that they were, well… a little ambitious. Granted, I was on winter break, sitting around at home trying to find something to fill the time. Now that I’m back at school and work, I barely have time to shower, let alone spend three hours making a butternut squash galette (although if you have the time, it’s seriously worth it). So here’s a recipe for a quick and easy weeknight meal – Israeli couscous with tuna, chard, and kalamata olives. Don’t be skeptical, I promise it’s delicious. Only takes about a half an hour to make, and you only dirty one pan! If you’ve never had Israeli couscous before, you’re in for a treat, because it’s freaking delicious. None of this whole grain nonsense, they’re like little mini noodle balls. Ya… I know. Yum.
Israeli Couscous with Tuna, Chard, and Olives
Makes 1 serving if you’re hungry, 2 if you’re eating light
Prep Time: 10 min
Total Time: 20 min
2/3 cup of Israeli couscous (at Trader Joe’s in purple box, or you can buy it in bulk)
2/3 cup of water
1 can of tuna in oil
1 cup of chard
1/4 cup of kalamata olives
Drizzle olive oil into a frying pan and pour in couscous. Stir to coat the couscous in oil over medium heat until couscous is browned, about 2 minutes. Add water, reduce heat slightly, and cover. The couscous will steam for about 5-7 minutes, until soft and water has disappeared.
While the couscous is cooking you can prepare the other ingredients. I grow my own chard, which doesn’t get very big, so I was able to just throw the little leaves right into the pan without chopping them up. If you get chard at the store, however, it will usually have big beautiful leaves. Chop them into strips, they’ll shrink a little bit once they’re steamed.
Once the couscous is cooked, add the tuna, olives, and chard, and stir gently for about 2 to 3 minutes. Scoop into a serving dish, sprinkle parmesan on top, and you’re good to go!
Are you a twenty-something? Are you a young professional or still in college? Have you ever tried applying to rent a property, whether it be a studio or house? Did it fucking suck?
Yeah. I’m pretty sure it did.
Okay, so this post doesn’t exactly keep with this week’s theme on “Being Late.” In fact, it fits better with our “Rantings” theme which will be coming in a few months, but since we’re a day late in posting and we kind of run this blog, we felt like it was within our rights to share. The subject, as I’m sure you’ve guessed by now, is rental house hunting. And how it is possibly one of the worst things ever.
We like to think of ourselves as reliable people. We don’t smoke or have pets, and have never been convicted of a crime. We might talk loudly but we’re not yellers and we don’t have raucous parties that last until the wee hours of the morn (although we sure as hell don’t mind attending them!). We know this to be true, but our prospective landlords don’t. And they make it pretty darn clear when they never call us back.
In a nutshell, trying to find a place to call home has been a fucking disaster. Such a disaster that we now want to quit the jobs we currently have (which are probably the only things getting us on the “maybe/if all other applicants fail” lists of these places anyway) and curl up in a tiny ball and watch Say Yes to the Dress marathons all day long.
It’s stressful to say the least. We feel that adrenaline should be reserved for important moments such as car accidents, sky-diving, and matrimony. Having your heart beat at an arrhythmia-like pace is no fun when it’s in response to an email from a Craigslist poster (who is most likely turning you down).
What have your renting experiences been like? Are they good or equally bad to what we’ve experienced (remember, we still haven’t had a single offer!). Please tell us mostly about the latter. We could use a little schadenfreude right about now.
Also, we’re listening to a lot of this with word replacement.
Last month, after the typical scouring of my pinterest, I decided to organize my apartment. But rather than tell you my exact process, which was pretty much me swirling around my apartment trying to both clean up and destroy anything in my way, I thought I’d just show you with images.
Please forgive the quality: I used my iphone and…you know the swirling thing…
Spring Cleaning is not always fun and games…
All drawings are property of Orlie Kapitulnik and Beginners Magazine. You may only use the images with permission from the artist.
Ever noticed that refrigerators and cupboards are kind of like black holes for food? Chinese food boxes, small Tupperware containers with three leftover bites of that rockin’ lasagna you made and couldn’t throw out, jars of jelly and salsa and who knows what else, halves of lemons. Refrigerators are bad, but freezers and cupboards are worse. I seriously can go two years without taking a peek at the top shelf of my cupboard. And you know the food in the freezer isn’t about to rot, so why not let it sit there a little longer?
But, in honor of spring cleaning, here’s a double-duty project for you. Cleanse your kitchen and yourself! How, you ask? Why, let me tell you. One word.
Yes, that’s right, smoothies are the answer to all your spring cleaning woes. Perfectly scrumdidilyumptious snacks, they allow you to throw all those odds and ends from your fridge and freezer and cupboard into your blender and tada! No more cans of pineapple lurking in your cupboard. Never again will you stumble upon a shriveling orange in the drawers of your fridge. And, smoothies can be jam-packed full of healthy goodness, giving your body and soul their own kind of spring cleaning.
Ingredients. Blender. You know what to do.
Try out the recipes below if you are so inspired, but the point is really to use what you’ve already got. So, fling open that fridge, pull out the blender, and get to your cleaning/smoothie drinking.
I have a not-so-secret secret: I’m a purger. I regularly go through my phone book, my iTunes music, my email contacts, and just delete with abandon. Haven’t talked to you in six months? Gone. Haven’t listened to that song since high school? Gone too. Admittedly, I take it too far – I have a purging problem – but I do firmly believe that in proper moderation, cleaning out your cyber-closet can be a good thing.
In my opinion, the worst offender of cyber clutter is Facebook. It’s the place where people “collect” friends, where your contact list can consist of your best friend since childhood and that girl you met one time at that party and then never saw again.
Last year my amazingly creative cousin Sam (if you don’t read her blog already, you should) came up with this genius chart that she’s agreed to share with us here on Beginners, guiding you through the admittedly sometimes painful process of sorting out your Facebook friends. I know it can be hard, but go ahead and open up your Facebook friends list and get ready: it’s time to start cleaning!
The Rules (According to Sam):
Now, I know this might seem like a daunting task, especially if you haven’t gone through your contacts since that day years ago when you first got your Facebook “invite” (remember that?), but let me assure you, it can be oddly cathartic. Sorting out the old classmates, the random adds, the friends of friends and keeping the peeps you have/had a crush on, the girl whose photos you just can’t stop flipping through, and the people who are your actual, real-life friends reminds you of all the people you actually do want to keep in touch with.
And remember, if this is too much and you just can’t bring yourself to part with any of these people because, who knows, you might need to get ahold of them again someday, at least set it so only the people you truly care about show up in your newsfeed. It’s the first step…
I know this has happened to you guys too (please tell me I’m not alone). I have this amazing idea for a project or home improvement or outfit or cat-snuggie – whatever; the idea is brill and I’ve committed myself to its completion. So I go out and get all the supplies and start working on it and it’s like magic as it comes together and becomes more and more fantastical with each addition. But then, something happens…. It’s like there was this unseen threshold where it went from getting better and better with each moment of progress to becoming more and more regrettable. And soon, I’m looking at a cat-snuggie big enough to fit my dog and somehow it’s got wings now and is bedazzled. And I look at it and am just utterly confused as to how it became such a tragedy.
And you can immediately spot a project that has been through this terrible tail-spin. The idea is flawless, but the execution was just taken a little too far (or a lot too far). Like that poor statue/clay thing up there ^ . This person clearly has a knack for molding clay, but somehow the statue went from being a possibly cute bunny to a depressed, two-headed monster rabbit with a possible beer addiction. Just so close to being a good thing until it took a terrible turn for disaster.
Maybe this fairly frequent occurrence in my life is a rarity in yours: good for you! But it turns out there’s a lot of projects out there that experience this issue. And my favorite place on earth (Pinterest) has a collection of them. YES.
So today, on our last day of failure (the theme, not the action – let’s be honest with ourselves here), I bring you, Pinterest, You are Drunk. Be sure to read the comments, as they are hilarious.
You know those times when it feels like life is moving at a million miles a second, and your phone is ringing and your emails are dinging, and you are looking at your to-do list thinking you couldn’t finish everything scribbled there if you had a million years? Maybe us over-worked, perfectionist, constantly stressed liberal arts college students feel this way more than some, but I’d guess most people have had a day like this. These days are not fun. They are overwhelming, exhausting, and hold an unpleasant sense of impending failure. Fold my laundry, pick up groceries, pump out a fifteen-page paper, kick butt at the gym, play Mommy for an evening to earn some extra bucks… All in one day, you say? Oh, I’m sorry, I’m not Super Woman.
But you know what I am? Super duper good at baking. And when all else fails and life is too crazy and too scattered and too hectic, I bake, and here’s why: it’s predictable. A teaspoon will always be a teaspoon. Baking soda will always make my cookies rise. It’s methodical. Measure, pour, stir, repeat. It’s magical. Anyone who has witnessed the wonder of throwing some flour, butter, and chocolate together in a bowl, and later pulling steamy, chewy, decadent cookies from the oven knows the only way to describe that transformation is magic. It’s rewarding. Spend twenty minutes pouring and mixing, and you have yourself a tasty little treat. Talk about instant gratification.
So, when all else fails, and life is just a little too much to handle, bake. You’ll be glad you did. And really, a to-do list doesn’t look so bad when you’ve got a fresh baked cinnamon roll in front of you, wafting it’s cinnamony goodness around your now stress-free home.
Adapted from A Dinner Party, adapted from The Joy of Cooking
Easy to make, these little bars take something sour and turn it sweet. Kind of like what baking does to a bad day…
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup powdered sugar
12 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the filling:
6 large eggs
3 cups sugar
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 325.
Stir the flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Using your fingertips cut in the butter until the mixture is sandy in texture, with clumps the size of small peas. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9″ by 13″ baking pan, and about 3/4″ up the sides of the pan to keep the filling from leaking during baking.
Bake for about 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.
To make the filling (do this as you are baking the crust), whisk eggs and sugar together until well combined. Add the zest and juice; whisk well. Sift the flour over the top and stir until well blended. Pour filling over the cooled crust. Bake until set, but slightly jiggly, about 30 to 35 minutes. Let the pan cool completely before cutting into bars. Dust with confectioner’s sugar.
Then lord your triumphant baking success over all your other failures that day!