breasts, babies, and breeding…oh my

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Breasts.  They’re complicated.

Breasts are like people – they come in all shapes and sizes: small ones, large ones, lopsided ones, droopy ones, and even little pert ones that curve up at the tip so that a woman’s chest looks like it is always asking a question (looking at you Gwyneth Paltrow, I remember Shakespeare in Love).

Mine are of the large variety.  This isn’t really a revelation, see me on the street and in less than a second you can gauge that I have…ample assets.  I will spare you the specifics, but let’s just say if cup sizes were academic grades, mine would never graduate high school. I’d like to say being chesty is awesome – and lets be honest, there are times it is.  I’m aware that there are drinks that have been purchased, discounts given, and speeding tickets I’ve avoided that were not due to my winning personality.  But there are also simple things that become a little, well, trickier.

Running.  There are usually multiple bras involved, and no small amount of what I call the T-Rex pose.  Which is basically tucking my elbows in and using my wrists to pin down rebellious flesh; leaving my fists jutting out awkwardly, like my boobs are geared up for a punch they can’t quite throw.  Despite these precautions, it is still an uncomfortable experience.   For the men reading (and props to you for sticking it out through all the boob talk) imagine running with 10-pound testicles and no supportive equipment.  Not pleasant.

Eating.  There is the benefit of food catching on what is essentially a built-in shelf, particularly helpful in movie theatres when eating popcorn.  Still hungry when the bag is empty? No problem! Just bend your head and mouth vacuum along your blouse!  But, there is also a Grand Canyon of cleavage that shamelessly swallows everything: earrings, lint, bobby pins, and food (which is shaming when romantic time is derailed by a sudden look of horror as your date finds corn nuts where corn nuts should not be).

Reaching.  Everything gets on them.  Writing at a chalkboard? Check your front.  Wiping down a table? Check your front.  Trying to grab the rolls at Christmas dinner before your brother can get them?  Check your front, because there are probably mashed potato Santa beards on your tits. Merry Christmas.

Yeah, having breasts changes things.

The development of breasts changed the sports I played.  When my co-ed soccer coaches noticed the boys spending more time watching me run at the ball than the ball itself, I was forced to find something with a little less ‘impact’, like swim team.  Buoyancy – I had it in spades, so I did well there, with the boys at least.  When you are 12 with the chest of a 18 year-old, it is hard to fit in.  If I tried to dress the way the other girls did, the teachers would call my outfit inappropriate, or obscene.  If I dressed to cover my new additions, with baggy t-shirts and plaid button ups, then I wasn’t cool (if only the hipster trend had caught on 15 years sooner).  So, instead I sat on the poolside, ate nachos and chugged cokes with the boys; hunching forward to hide my breasts when the girls walked by in patterned towels, shiny flip-flops, and v-neck swim suits.

As I get older, I realize my breasts come with even more expectations (to be fair, my whole gender does). And I’m not a super big fan of societal expectations. Breasts are ‘allowed’ recreational uses, of course, but there is a more practical use we are supposed to aim for. Life.  While we may, uhm, come from the valley, it is the mountain spring that sustains us. And yes, my body is genetically designed to give and support life, but that doesn’t make it a requirement.

Because, here’s the thing – I’m not sure I want to have babies.

Honestly, they frighten me.  Its not the way they look, because for the most part – they are adorable.  Its the way the look at me.  The hunger.  The want.  The milk lust.  Like tiny little tit vampires.  I’m not judging them.  I get it.  Sit me down in front of a giant chocolate cake (let alone two chocolate cakes) and I know how it will end.  An upset stomach and frosting on my face.  I just don’t really care to be the cake.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the relationships between parents and children are beautiful. I am of the age where most of my friends are transitioning from wonderful people into astounding parents.  And seriously, that is fantastic for them – they have some wicked cute babies!  For some of my friends, they even get to this point where their breasts become something different, they become function, connection, food. My friends become mothers.

But its not because of their breasts. Like I said, breasts are complicated.  Breasts are like people – some are big, some are small. Some are fun, and some are a pain in the ass. Breasts are a lot of things, but they aren’t identities.  I’m not a woman because I have breasts, just like I wouldn’t stop being a woman if I lost them.

And I won’t be less of a woman if I only ever use them for decoration.

I may be hunted down by vampire babies, but that is my problem.

a traveler’s guide to escaping greek bathrooms

The trick is not to panic.

Not that the trick always works, but it helps to have a mantra.

I ripped the last square of toilet paper off the roll, dried my hands, and tried the lock one more time. Nothing happened.  Fucking Athens. The day had been so lovely.  Delicious food, delicious men, and ruins.  Add one perfectly placed couple embracing on a couch, and the day was pretty much the cover of a romance novel. But then I had to pee.  Bit of a mood killer. I had only been stuck in the bathroom for 5 minutes, but it was long enough to sweat through my pajamas, and to decide I was going to die.  Not the way I hoped I’d go. Death by hostel toilet in polka dot pants, and hand-made paper towel bathroom shoes. There are classier options.

I considered crawling up the wall, out the window that barely qualified as such and onto the roof, but a couple of very important things kept me on the damp paper towels: 1) a suspicious brown stain on the wall by the toilet, and 2) I’m not exactly James Bond – my efforts would end in blood and tears, not incredible sex and gunfire.

So I did the next best thing.  I panicked.  And after 10 minutes of pounding, screaming, and failed attempts to MacGyver the lock, nobody had come to rescue me.  Then, something amazing happened.  In a state of borderline hysteria, I sat on the sink, leaned back, and kicked as hard as I could.   I learned a valuable lesson.  I can kick a door down.  Also, I might be part hulk.

I learn a lot of lessons in bathrooms.  Most people just read.

There was the bathroom I peed my pants in.  I dig Japan, I really do.  You can find little Godzilla statues on the street, and there are costumed dance battles in the street. Awesome.  But bathrooms shaped like human mouths…I can’t quite get behind that.  Yes, for about two seconds I immaturely giggled about sitting on some guy’s face – but then I stood up and the automatic flush made the lid open and close in some sort of chewing motion, and a disturbingly deep male voice said, “mmm-mm-mm.”  I didn’t take that too well.  There may or may not have been screaming.   And a bit of unscheduled peeing.

Expect the unexpected. Lesson learned.

I’ve also face my fears in bathrooms.  Like my public pooping phobia (it’s a thing, Google it) in an open-air squat toilet outside Mamallapuram, India.  The old woman next to me looked delicate with her sari folded gently over her shoulder.  Her toenails were painted pink, and even crouched over dirt she was poised.  I, however, shoved my purse under my shirt, pulled my pants down, gripped my ankles, and tried not to mess on myself.  I must have looked as rough as I felt because a few seconds later a small warm hand start rubbing calming circles on my back.  It was strangely sweet, and relaxing. Until I looked up to thank her, and the natural thing that happens in those situations, happened.  There are moments in life not meant to be shared; essentially destroying a squat hole in India is one of them.

So basically, the most important things I learned while traveling, I learned with my pants down.  Sounds about right.

But that is the beauty of it.  And in a way, part of the adventure.  Learning things in all the best, and awkward ways.

Waking up to a naked drunk magician in Dublin who mistook my bunk for his.  Yes, I lost a few hours of sleep, but now I know where some magicians hide their cards.  Or getting escorted semi-politely from the Vatican.  Note: the phrase ‘fucking pope’ never really appropriate. Particularly not in front of the Papal Swiss Guard. Don’t let the Shakespearian pageboy-esque uniforms fool you, those men are basically ninja’s in tights with poofy sleeves and trousers.  Even accidentally sharing a meal with what could have been a section of China’s famous Mafia, the Triad.  I mean, those men may have had perfectly legitimate reasons they were carrying out their business in the back of small restaurant in downtown Beijing. With bodyguards. And guns.  They were very polite though.  All these moments taught me something – admittedly, some lessons more valuable than others.

That is what makes traveling worthwhile.  The moments where you learn things about yourself that alter who you are.  We may go out so we can see the world – but if we are doing it right, we are really just looking for ourselves.  And enjoying the steps, or mis-steps along they way.  Because you don’t know what you are capable of until you are tested.  So don’t be afraid to go out there and see the world.  Knock down a few doors, get kicked out of a few museums, make a few friends in hostels, and eat questionable food in questionable company.

Just remember: don’t panic, always wear shoes, make new friends, travel with old ones (even if they don’t hear your pleas for help behind bathroom doors), and when all else fails – take comfort in the fact you will have some great stories to take back home.  Oh, and test the locks on bathroom doors. Just in case.

Also, as promised – the photos.  Minimal back story – while in Greece, you will notice most tourist tend to aim for what I will democratically call the ‘glamour shot’.  Lots of booties in air, pouty lips, and some innappropro love of statues.  I think there is something in the water.  Anyway, my travel mate and I decided to join the cause.  I think I might have a career in modeling, right?

Greece 1 

so, here is the thing…

You know how third time is supposed to be the charm? Well – apparently it is not.  I am not entirely sure how it is Wednesday again already, but apparently it is.  Nor am I sure how my glass of ‘inspirational whiskey’ turned into three glasses.  But hey, still wearing pants – and counting that as a win.  So I am going to do what any semi-intelligent, semi-buzzed writer would do; call it a night, head to bed, and beg forgiveness in the morning.  I mean, deadlines are more like suggestions, right?

Tomorrow though, the post will be up! (Portland, OR time tomorrow)

And don’t worry, the post will be worth the wait.  It may or may not involve moments with the pope, a talking toilet in Japan, and the Chinese Mafia (Triad).

As an apology, I will find the most ridiculous picture I can – and attach it to the end of tomorrow’s post. I promise you, that alone is worth seeing, I am very skilled at tragically funny photos.