Truth, Lies and Unleaded.

“Why do you want to work here?”

He doesn’t ask the question with the tone of, “What intrigues you about the gas station/convenience store industry?” It’s more, “How bad did you screw up your life that you ended up here?”

Why do you want to work here?”

Blink. Blink.

I have nothing.

The question stumbles out of his mouth, barfs on me and passes out at my feet. I want to kick it under the desk and move on to the next question, but there it stays, dry heaving on the floor, waiting to be answered.

Blink. Blink.

I know what I want to say. That’s easy. “I don’t want to work here. No one does. No one has ever wanted to work here and no one ever will. I’m pretty sure even you don’t want to work here.”

But the manager of this gas station/convenience store isn’t on a quest to find the larger truth. He has no intention of keeping it real with me. He just wants to hear my damage.

The truth is all I got. “I need a job.”

I see in his eyes it’s not enough. He wants more. He wants my story, my tale of woe, or at the very least some explanation of why. Why? Why do you want to work here? There must be a reason.

Stories fly from my brain to my lips, but I refuse to open my mouth. False stories. Stories that will appease his curiosity of why a middle-aged woman is looking for an after school job.

I’ve taken a wrong turn in life but am working my way back… one day at a time. Man. Just one damn day at a time. I should methodically flip a 30-day chip through my fingers to drive home my commitment to sobriety.

Or I am a stay at home mom. My youngest has entered high school, so it’s time for this lady to get her life back. Exclamation point. Smiley face. I am woman hear me roar!

Or better yet, I was a corporate attorney making millions until I realized it was meaningless. I checked out of the corporate bullshit game, and now I want to serve humanity by selling Bud-light and Marlboro Reds. Fuck the system.

Instead, I stick with the truth. I need a job. Like millions of Americans, I’ve always held a job, not a career, a job. Crappy jobs that no one wants. Jobs that are meant to be the starting off place, not the ending up place. I’ve been a waitress, a bartender, an administrative assistant, a background researcher, a retail clerk, a dog sitter, a gardener, a waitress, a waitress, a waitress…

I once tried out to be a maid. During the initial interview, the couple hiring couldn’t decide who would be best suited to clean their toilets and load their dishwasher. They were conflicted and told me as such. A woman had interviewed earlier, and I had some stiff competition. I sat on the edge of their ginormous couch and answered their questions with a manic enthusiasm better suited to a game show than an interview as a housekeeper. It really was the biggest couch I’d ever sat on. I didn’t dare sit all the way back or my feet would have stuck straight out. The position I was applying for had me feeling small enough without being swallowed by the mother of all couches. I suppose, to be fair, the couple needed a giant couch. A regular couch would have resembled doll furniture in their mammoth living room.

In the end, my perky cleaning enthusiasm wasn’t enough to seal the deal. But it was enough to keep me in the running. The couple decided to have the two finalists come in for a test run of scrubbidy dub and fluffity fold. They were holding a cleaning one-off, a mop and glow smack down. May the best poor person win! Anyone with a smidgen of dignity would have told them to piss off. Anyone with rent due in a couple of weeks asked, “What time do you want me there?”

After scrubbing my little heart out, I didn’t win. There is no way to recover from losing a competition where the grand prize is you get to be a maid. Six years later, I replay the day in my mind and cannot pinpoint the exact moment I blew it. My best guess — I struggled with the shelves in the refrigerator. I took them out easily enough to wash, but putting them back was a challenge. They refused to slide correctly. At one point, I panicked thinking I’d broken one, but I recovered like a champ, and no one was the wiser. The lady of the house was upstairs blissfully unaware that her side-by-side nearly got the best of me.

Unless of course, there was a nanny cam. For all I know, a dinner party is winding down right now, a group of millionaires crowded around the latest Mac Book Pro, sipping expensive wine and howling with laughter at the nincompoop who couldn’t figure out how a refrigerator shelf worked.

“Look, look, you can see the moment she starts to panic.”

“Don’t play it again. I’ll wet myself!”

“I take it you didn’t hire this genius.”

“Oh God no. Wait. Wait. Here’s my favorite part. Look around dum dum and make sure no one is watching. When will these people learn, someone is always watching?”

Hahahahahahahahaha!

Most days I don’t think about my crushing defeat. Most days. And I don’t dare mention it to the gas station/convenience store manager who’s now holding my application. It’s a secret I will take to my grave.

“Do you know how to work a register?” he asks.

Come on now? Do I know how to work a register? Name tags and registers are my areas of expertise, pal.

But before I can answer he ups the game with, “A touch screen register?”

Ah. Bringing out the big guns.

I do know how to work a touch screen register, but not from a job I’ve held. I know from shopping at Walmart with food stamps. They’ve installed self-service checkouts, and I like to use them even though I know they’ve cost someone a job. Self-service checkouts are anonymous. No one can see you discreetly swipe your SNAP card. People in self-service stand back a few feet. They give you space. They have boundaries. Respect. Or maybe they’re all on food stamps too.

Full-service customers breathe down your neck, especially those fuckers, shifting their weight from one foot to the other, in the 15 items or less line. Are they afraid someone will snag one of their items from across the rubber barrier? Why do they need to be up everyone’s ass? Maybe because they are full service, they feel entitled to know what’s going down in their line. They sigh a lot. They roll their eyes. There are rules to be adhered to. If you dare to write a check, like some throwback to the Kennedy era, you better have that shit filled out before you reach the cashier. No one has time to put up with your nonsense. And if you even think about paying with food stamps, your cart best be filled with white boxes stating what’s inside, crackers, macaroni, cereal, milk. No name brands for you, you lazy bastard. Full service is full of rules and judgments. Know your place or step aside.

I prefer self-service. Self-service understands to mind their business.

I don’t tell him the truth about Walmart, food stamps or my experience with the self-service register. I nod and say, “Yes, I’ve worked a touch screen before.” It’s a small lie. One that I can live with.

We sit in silence. I stare at him. He stares at my application. Something is bothering him. I can tell by the way he rubs his beard and won’t look at me. “You have a working vehicle?” he mutters not looking up.

“Yes.” It’s another lie. I don’t own a car, but I live with a friend, and she owns a car, and I can borrow it whenever I need, so for me, it’s the same thing. How I perform the job is his business. How I get there is mine. Self-service, Bud. Self-service.

And we are back to silence. He twists his chair, swinging to the left, swinging to the right. He sighs.

Finally, he says, “The last job you had was in 2012?”

“Yes.” I offer no other information. I’m hoping he is going to let this slide since I’m applying for a position as a store clerk, not gaining government clearance for the CIA. He gives me the side-eye. It lets me know he has no intention of letting this slide.

I say that I am a writer and try to tell him, in a jumbled mess of un-writerly words, that I wrote some things and was able to not work but that really I was kind of a stay at home… Stay at home what? Girlfriend? I trail off not finishing my sentence.

I don’t tell him that the boyfriend and I shared a truck, and he needed it for work, so I stayed home, but in that time, I started an online journal, wrote three books and completed real estate school. I don’t tell him I never took the real estate test because the boyfriend cheated and I left so now I’m in Washington and my California real estate education is worthless. I don’t tell him that since 2012, I have moved from Washington to Arkansas to Kansas, back to Arkansas, to California and now back to Washington.

“What kind of stuff did you write?” he asks. I don’t think it’s necessary to raise his eyebrow, but he does. It feels skeptical, and I wish I were hiding a meth addiction instead of my writer-ness.

I shrug the question off and play at being small enough to work at a gas station/convenience store. “Just some essays. Nothing, really.”

I want to throat punch him for making me bring that part of my life into this part of my life. I want to scream, “Haven’t you ever seen a failure before?” Instead, I smile and say, “I only live a few miles away, so if anyone is sick, I can be here right away. I don’t have kids or anything.” Now I sound pathetic, and I hate him for it.

He sets my application down on his desk and says, “I have some other people I need to interview, but I’ll call you.”

We both know that’s a lie.

Is the “Sexy Girl” Really Empowered?

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Look around at any magazine, movie, music video or social media site and there she is – The Sexy Girl. She’s tough, carefree, in control and most of all sexy, sexy, sexy. In our current society it is possible for any girl to transform her image into that of the Sexy Girl. From the simple techniques of a high held camera pointed at just the right angle combined with a slight duck face, to the more extreme measures of collagen lips, silicone in the breasts, cheeks and chin, constant calorie counting, liposuction, and hours at the gym. The Sexy Girl image is attainable and ready to present to the world. Sexy has become the norm.  Teenage girls are presenting themselves as the Sexy Girl before they’ve even had sex.

Is the Sexy Girl image ruining real sex for woman? What happens when the Sexy Girl actually has sex? What happens when men buy into the image and take it for the real thing? Does she enjoy sex? Is she a voracious animal who can’t get enough? Does she come? Or like the image itself, is it all fake? Fake sexy. Fake control. Fake orgasms. Is she an equal participant or is the Sexy Girl just a sexual prop used for a man’s satisfaction?

In this day and age of easy internet access it is a safe assumption that most people, young and not-so-young, have seen porn. I imagine more often than not, porn is where we as a society are learning how to have sex. Sure, the high school health class can show us what goes where and how to make babies, but porn is the go to place to show us how to do it right or perhaps, completely wrong.

Porn for the most part is catered to men. They are the biggest consumer so they need to be the satisfied customer, and porn doesn’t fail. Sure the Sexy Girl is showcased, she’s the highlight, she’s the frosting, but men are the kings and the scene doesn’t end until the king has had his orgasm. But what is porn teaching us about the Sexy Girl? That she loves giving blow jobs? That the sheer pleasure of sucking on a penis can bring her to the brink of orgasm? That having her ass in the air and her head crammed into a couch cushion or her legs bent up over her shoulders like a pretzel is the quickest way to achieve orgasm? Maybe we are supposed to learn that all the Sexy Girl desires is for her vagina to be jack-hammered with the kind of finesse that is used to break up concrete.

Sure, watching porn can be fun as long as everyone realizes that it is entertainment and not real life. Just like an action hero in a movie is faking his stunts, so too is the porn star faking her orgasm. She is being paid to be the Sexy Girl and act like porn sex is real sex. Whether she is being pounded from behind, sucking on a penis or getting cum shot onto her face, her job is to act like this is the hottest, most erotic thing that has ever happened to her. She isn’t selling good sex, she’s selling a male fantasy of good sex.

Now the Sexy Girl image has trickled down from porn to mainstream media and right into our everyday lives. Sexy Girl is becoming the new image of what makes a real woman sexy. But long before Sexy Girl came along real women were considered sexy in a variety of ways. A cool look in her eye, the way she laughed, her quick wit and yes, the shape of her curves but more and more these things are being replaced by silicone, sky-high heels and g-strings.

Sexy has lost its mystery. The modern Sexy Girl isn’t sexy because she is clever or interesting, she is sexy because she wants sex, and her image lets you know that she is DTF. She lets you know this with selfies taken in the mirror showing pouty duck lips, revealing clothing, and suggestive poses. She is telling you by posting these images herself that she is in control of her body and her sexuality. She is empowered. But is she? Is the Sexy Girl really in the power position? Is she actually having satisfying sex? Or is she, like the porn star, faking it for the sake of keeping up with an image and pleasing men? When she’s dancing in a night club and bends over to touch her toes while a guy gyrates his penis against her ass, is it for her pleasure or for his? When she is being videotaped showing her breasts and making out with a friend is she being satisfied or is the satisfaction for the men gathered around watching the girl who has “gone wild”? When her boyfriend records their sex act only showing her face and not his then posts it on the internet is she really empowered? My guess is probably not.

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for women living their lives as they see fit. I believe women should have as much sex (good sex/real sex) as they want and never be shamed with words like slut and whore. I don’t believe revealing clothing is an invitation to rape. I believe women are amazing, scantily clad or covered from head to toe. But more than anything I believe with all my heart that all women, including the Sexy Girl, have more to offer the world than sex.

.When we look at an image of a man, regardless if he is in a suit and tie, or faded jeans and tee-shirt, whether he is rich or poor, white collar or blue collar, an artist or a man of science we automatically assume he enjoys having sex. He doesn’t need to announce this or post a duck faced selfie on Facebook to let the world know. We know. And because we know he enjoys sex, he is free to share other aspects of his personality without fear of his sexy self being forgotten or ignored.

Can we begin to assume the same for women? I believe the most empowering thing a woman can do to express her sexuality is to have good sex, equally satisfying, great sex. That means removing the illusions of sexy and simply being herself. Empowered, sexy women don’t need to put on a show. They don’t need to fake orgasms or be acrobats in the bedroom. There is no need for pouting and posing. She doesn’t need to bend over and touch her toes, or twerk. She can be anything, do anything, create anything, and yes, she can still be sexy while doing it.

If we begin to assume that real women enjoy real sex and having real orgasms, can we drop the Sexy Girl image and move on with our lives? What would happen if as a society we declared women are sexy and we understand and fully accept this as a fact of life. We can post a proclamation that Britney, JLo, Beyonce, Lady GaGa and Miley are sexy, sexy, sexy! They no longer need to prove it to us. What then would they create? How then would pop stars get attention? And once they had that attention what would they do with it?

If the Sexy Girl making the duck face on FB suddenly didn’t need to let us know she was sexy, what image would she portray? How would her true empowerment show up? What aspects of her personality would shine now that being sexy isn’t taking up so much space?

I, for one, would love to find out.

The Blurred Lines Around Miley Cyrus, Robin Thicke and Cheap Goods Sold

Robin Thicke wrote a song called Blurred Lines that is “kinda rape-y” but it has an upbeat tempo and a pop-y beat so it can’t be really scary because your toes still tap. A kinda rape-y, not totally scary, toe tapping pop song. It is the musical equivalent of the weird guy down the hall who seems friendly but still creeps you out. And just like the weird little dude, the song received mixed reactions. Some people dismissing it as a harmless ditty while others crying out that a monster lurks just below the pop-y surface.

Thicke defended the song by saying, “I think that’s what great art does — it’s supposed to stir conversation, it’s supposed to make us talk about what’s important and what the relationships between men and women are.” Unfortunately what Thicke failed to notice is that no one on either side of the controversy was claiming Blurred Lines to be great art. That really was never the issue.

Next Diane Martel is hired to direct the video and in her own words spends much time thinking about “…ideas for what the girls could wear in the video, some images of his (Helmut Newton) work came to mind. I realized they could wear … shoes. This would get some attention for the song and the artist.”

She goes on to say about the controversy, “I don’t think the video is sexist. The lyrics are ridiculous; the guys are silly as fuck. That said, I respect women who are watching out for negative images in pop culture and who find the nudity offensive, but I find [the video] meta and playful.”

Unfortunately Martel and Thicke forgot to exchange notes on their artistic merit and vision of this video so he completely contradicts the director by saying (which he later claims to be a joke), “People say, “Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?” I’m like, “Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before.” But then he later confuses the issue more when he says, “It was actually the director’s idea. I had mentioned to her that I wanted to do a very funny and silly video. … And she said, ‘well, what if we have the girls take their clothes off?”

Yes, I can see the well thought out artistic expression that went into the decision that funny and silly translates as women being topless and wearing… shoes. One of the models in the video seconded Martel’s appreciation for women on the lookout for misogyny by adding, “”I really appreciate that people are watching out for that stuff.” By that “stuff” I can only assume she means bare breasted women wearing… shoes in a kinda-sorta rape-y video.

Now enter Miley Cyrus, another ex-Disney pop singer desperate to shed her mouse ears, who reenacted the video for us live at the VMA awards. By reenact I mean she appears half-naked with a foam finger and those ever funny and silly… shoes. Her performance was awkward at best, with her “twerking” her ass against Robin Thicke’s penis and hanging her exceptionally long tongue out the side of her mouth. For this she was slammed hard. She was called a slut, a whore, and blamed for the psychological damaged caused to children around the world. Yet, no one seemed to want to point out that Robin Thicke, who is middle-aged, was an equal participant to this cringe worthy performance and who started this whole mess with his kinda-rape-y, funny, silly song.

Just recently Miley spoke out on the controversy saying, “Me and Robin (Thicke) the whole time said, ‘You know, we’re about to make history right now,'” She then added in response to the following public reaction, “They’re over thinking it … You’re thinking about it more than I thought about it when I did it. Like, I didn’t even think about it ’cause that’s just me.”

So where does that leave us, the audience? And no, you cannot dismiss your audience, Miss Cyrus. No artist can. Unless you want to sit hang around your living rooms singing and twerking all alone you have to acknowledge that without an audience there is no performance. An artist performs and an audience reacts. That’s how it works. The general public isn’t over thinking anything; they are doing their job and reacting. Unfortunately for Miley, Robin and Diane, it probably wasn’t the reaction they wanted. Or was it?

I’ve spent the last week thinking about this song, the video and the VMA performance because the honest truth was I didn’t know how to feel except a vague sense of icky. And now I understand why. Because the artists creating this disaster didn’t put the right kind thought into what they were creating in the first place. They didn’t uphold their end of the artist/audience agreement. And this is a huge problem. Sure there was some misdirected thought such as, “We’re going to make history” and “this would get attention,” but what each of these participants failed to do in a really big way was take responsibility as an artist for their point of view and voice. Martel sums it up perfectly when she said, “I’ve been thinking about music videos, marketing, and the Internet for a while. I want to make videos that sell records. This is my main focus right now, not to make videos that express my own obsessions, but to make videos that move units.”

That is why the song, the video and the VMA performance felt icky, not scary, not hateful, not shocking, not slutty,  just icky. If artistry is in fact becoming a retail business, as these people seem to be approaching their craft, then the selling of Blurred Lines is the equivalent of Walmart. Cheap goods manufactured for quick sales. A kinda-sorta rape-y song, half-naked women, an ex-Disney star, a foam finger, and… shoes, all being boxed up for the mass consumer.

The only thing missing was the actual art.

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The Stories We Tell And The Ones We Don’t

The Stories We Tell And The Ones We Don’t

I write selfishly. I comfort myself with my own words so that I don’t have to wait for someone else to ask me how I am feeling or what I am thinking. I don’t write so that after I am gone, people will remember me. I write so that I can remember me while I’m still here.

My Top 10 Favorite Ways to Procrastinate

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When it comes to writing I will do almost anything to avoid actually doing it. Today I share with you my personal favorite ways to procrastinate.  Leave me a note and let me know how you procrastinate.

  1. Take pictures of my dogs and post them on Facebook. Check back every five minutes to see if anyone “likes” my photos. Fantasize about becoming world famous pet photographer.  
  2. Get a baggy of Jelly Bellys. Eat them one at a time and see if I can guess what flavor they are. Fantasize about becoming candy maker like Willy Wonka.
  3.  Scour internet for recipes I will never make. Pin them to my Pinterest board called “Yummy.” Fantasize about competing on MasterChef and having torrid affair with Joe Bastianich.
  4. Watch Real Housewives of New Jersey. Fantasize I am one of the housewives and reenact all their fights while including my amazing insights and zingers that put them in their place.
  5. Go on Ebay. Bid on crap I don’t need like belt buckles that make me laugh. Fantasize I have way more money than I do… which always leads to…
  6. Go on real estate websites. Look up most expensive mansions in America. Fantasize I live in one.
  7. Play WordsWithFriends. Lose nearly every time. Fantasize that I crush anyone who challenges me.
  8. Wake dogs up from nap and make them cuddle with me. Fantasize that I am the next Cesar Millan with dogs that respect me as a confident pack leader and not just an annoying simpleton who picks up their poop.
  9. Stare into space. Fantasize that I am BFF’s with Oprah.
  10. Write useless lists to post on my blog. Fantasize that post goes viral and I am interviewed on Good Morning America.   

Five Warning Signs You Might Be a Douche-Bag

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We can all spot a douche-bag a mile away but what if you are the douche-bag. Would you know it? Could you look in the mirror and say to your own reflection, “What a douche?” Probably not. That’s the problem with douche-baggery, when it lurks inside you it’s invisible to your own eyes. Everyone else and I mean every single solitary person around you sees it as clear as day, but you, poor confused douche-bag are blind.

Don’t fret. Help is here. Below are five warning signs that you may be a douche-bag. If you recognize that you have even one, chances are someone has muttered, “What a douche” behind your back.  If you do not recognize yourself in any of the follow, congratulations! You’re probably a really cool person or you are such a huge douche you can’t see it. To be sure, let someone you know read the list and if they glance at you sideways a number of times… ding ding ding, you’re a douch-bag!

1.     You Watch Porn and Think That’s What Real Sex Is

Look, I get it. Watching porn is fun, but if you are duplicating porn moves in the bedroom and expecting women to do the same, then thinking they must be frigid when they are not into it, you’re a douche. Real woman don’t want to be bent up like a pretzel and jack-hammered like the energy bunny. Real women are not brought to the brink of orgasm at the sheer joy of giving you a blow-job. Here’s a tip. Women don’t have a clitoris in their mouth. No amount of sucking on your penis is going to give them an orgasm. The women in these movies are moaning and groaning with bliss because they are thinking about how much money they are making. A real woman is in bed with you for the same reason you are, to have a big O. Ignore her needs and expect her to act like a porn star and that makes you a douche-bag.

PS – Ladies, flipping your hair, screaming your head off, faking orgasms, and putting on a big show only adds to the false illusion and makes you a douche-bag too.

2.     You Rip Your Shirt Off Every Time There Is a Conflict.

Yes, yes, we all see your big muscles. (Yawn) If every time you have a disagreement or conflict with another person you rip your shirt off and act like a big gorilla, you are a douche. Just because you have bigger muscles it doesn’t mean you win the argument. Try using that big muscle between your ears and settle disagreements like a man. Grow up and as our kindergartner teachers used to say, “Use your words.”

3.     You hurt animals.

Enough said.

4.     You Treat Service Workers As Less Than Human.

You may think you impress that hot lady friend when you snap orders at the waitress shout at the bartender or embarrass a bus boy. In your mind you’re saying, she sees, “I command respect.” In her mind she’s thinking, “How much longer until I can dump this douche-bag?”  People work hard for a living and trying to make them look small to inflate your ego just screams, “I am a big baby with a tiny penis who still wants his mommy.” Treat people with respect and guess what? People will respect you back. It’s pretty simple.

PS – Ladies, this goes for you too. Diva is just a girly word for douche-bag.

5.     You Think  Anyone Who Isn’t Exactly Like You Is Less Than.

Let’s face it, the one thing all douche-bags have in common is thinking that anyone who isn’t exactly like them is somehow less worthy of being on this planet. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, what religion you are, where you were born, what your sexuality is, if you think other people were put on this planet to be just like you that makes you a douche-bag. The only other people you will find common ground with is other douche-bags.

Douche-bags come in all shapes and sizes. They live all over the world and speak different languages. When you hate someone for being different than you and they hate you back for the same reason, take heart, shake hands, hug it out and recognize you are both douche-bags. At least it’s a start.  

 

My Real Family

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Like any doting aunt, I love my nieces. In my eyes they are perfect. If they have flaws of character, make poor decisions, or do wrong, it is not for me to see. That is the job of their parents. My job is to love them blindly. And I do. I can’t help myself. Not having children of my own, these girls are the light of my life. So when someone says to me, “Oh, so they’re not your real nieces,” after I’ve explained our unique family tree, it’s like shoving a dagger in my heart.

I’ve known since I was a teenager that my older sister is a lesbian. Actually, if I think about it, I’ve probably known my entire life but didn’t have a word for it. She was just Jodi. She was tough. She had swagger. She was cool. I was the opposite. Small. Sickly. Scared of my own shadow. On more than one occasion, Jodi came to my rescue fighting any bully who dared to pick on her little sister. In the chaos of our home, my big sister was my rock.

I guess in my mind, and maybe even hers, it was assumed because she was gay, Jodi would never have children. My sister isn’t just kind of gay. She’s really super extra gay. I would have an easier time imaging Jason Statham getting knocked up before I could see my sister having a baby. That was my own limited thinking, ignorant in the idea that there is only one way to become a mother.

When my sister announced that she and her partner at the time were going to have a child through artificial insemination, I was shocked. Not because of artificial insemination. Not because I was against gays and lesbians having children. I was shocked because I didn’t think my sister wanted kids. Hell, I didn’t even think she liked kids.

They decided that my sister’s partner would carry the baby and after a few unsuccessful attempts were finally blessed with Hannah. From the moment she was born, a light turned on in my sister. Yes, she was still her same tough self, but there was a softness to her that emerged that I can only describe as the purest form of love. It is the same light that is ignited in every parent when they first see their child.

As many relationships do, hers fell apart. The why’s and how’s are unimportant. This is life and it happens to everyone. What doesn’t always happen is that parents don’t lose their rights to their child simply because the relationship dissolves. Hannah was three years old when Jodi moved out of their home but she never, not once, let go of her child. She was a mother and a mother never stops fighting for her kids. It was years of costly and stressful courtroom battles to get the law to recognize that she was a full and equal parent.

After the end of her previous relationship, Jodi met the true love of her life, Jenn, who had also had a child, Camryn. The girls are a year apart in age and I doubt they can even remember a time in their lives when they were not together. They are sisters. They have always been sisters. I watch them now and I can’t help but notice the similarities in their relationship to the relationship I had with Jodi. Hannah is older. She is strong, athletic, and stands up for the underdog. She has a deep sense of what is right and what is wrong and she is not afraid to tell you. She is a natural leader with a quiet confidence. I see so much of my big sister in Hannah. Camryn lives in her own world, nose buried in a book just as I was at her age. She’s sensitive, always looking at the world from a different angle, seeing things that maybe the rest of us miss. She loves big, and has a compassion for others that is breathtaking. She has a lot of her mother in her, but I’d like to think there’s a little of me there too.

Jodi, Jenn, Hannah and Camryn are my family. They are my real family. I don’t care if it confuses other people. I don’t care if they have a need to understand what body part went where to make this family. I don’t care about DNA. All I care about when I see my nieces is that they are perfect angels of light. Am I delusional? Of course I am. I am an aunt and that’s my job.