Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Three Years--I Can't Believe It!

Three years ago today, I started writing Confessions of a Virgin, known today as Finding My Virginity.

I didn't have much in mind except to challenge stereotypes about virgins. I figured I could lure readers in with provocative pictures and honest, titillating stories of my past. And then be like BAM, I'm saving sex for marriage, WHAT THEN?!

And while I've certainly managed to show off pictures of my cleavage and write a series on virginity myths, writing this blog has changed me more than I ever could have predicted. I mean, I started this blog with the intention of changing other people. I had no idea that I needed to change my own ideas of virginity.

Like Therese from How to Lose Your Virginity says,

What if all we had to lose were our virginity myths?

This blog inadvertently chronicled my entire relationship with Beau, from dating to becoming "official," from saying "I love you" to mutually sharing our first fellatio experience, from being long-distance to getting married.

And as our physical relationship has grown, always completely entwined with our romantic relationship, I learned to challenge my own ideas of virginity.

Can I have a heteronormative definition of virginity, even though I'm bisexual?

Why was saving coitus for marriage the right choice? It definitely was the right choice for us, but why did we call our pre-coital sexual status virginity?

Will I ever be honest about my personal definition of virginity and "waiting til marriage" outside of my anonymous identity?

Can I ever come out to my family and friends from high school/college as bisexual? 

I don't know the answers to all these questions, but I'm ready to start exploring them.

I'm ready to share how Beau and I prepared for a painless wedding day.

I'm ready to reveal how wedding day sex changed me--and didn't change me.

But I'm also ready to be a better advocate for Christian feminism, under my own name.

Confession: I've been blogging under my own name for almost a month now.

I have a fancy self-hosted WordPress blog, with an SEO plugin to help me focus on keywords, and a ridiculous quantity of good pictures with my watermark, and a social sharing plugin to help me cross-promote, and a consistent photo across all forms of social media.

If anyone noticed the decrease in blog posts for the month of July--this is the 8th--after six months of 11-14 posts a month, well, now you know why. I've written eight posts under my own name this month, with all the bells and whistles that a blog needs to stand out. 

Because while I'm ready to talk to y'all more about sex and virginity, I've also discovered how much I like the "lifestyle" posts. And I've really really not enjoyed keeping my location anonymous. My new blog already has four location-specific blog posts about what Beau and I have done this summer. 

So while I plan to write more here about the big stuff, I will also be writing less about the little stuff. 

Book reviews will be at my new blog, although I'll finish my Summer Challenge updates here. After all, I will debut my first paid column next month, and it's a monthly column reviewing books. I want a blog to back that up.

Feminist posts that are NOT about virginity/sex, consent, and/or rape culture will be at my new blog. Mainly, I will no longer feature posts about Christian feminism here. 

This blog will no longer include travel posts, either about trips Beau and I take in the future, or about my past trips to France.

While I love the expanded writing that I've done, and I love that my devoted readers have accepted non-virginal topics, I want this blog to return to its original subject. More or less, at least. 

Over the next six months, I will also slowly remove old posts that are better suited for my new blog. I will then edit/revise them and post them under my real name.

Even though I will be writing here less, and the writing will be more focused, I want to share my life with my blogging friends. I've been so blessed to befriend bloggers across the globe, and I want to take y'all with me! 

I want y'all to know my real name, and where I live, and where I'm from. I want y'all to know Beau's real name, and the names of our friends, and what other people in our lives look like. I want to stop hiding so much of my life from people I've grown to love, my friends, even if we haven't met in "real life."

So while I won't post a link to my new blog here, I will give it freely to (most) people who email me or DM on Twitter to ask for it. A few blogging friends already follow my personal Twitter, and I'd like to extend that invitation to more.

I just ask that you continue to keep this half of my life anonymous-ish. If you're talking to me as Belle, don't use my real name or location. If this sounds paranoid... well, you'll understand when you learn my name. I need to keep a clear Google history for now, since my job is in digital marketing.

Thank you for being with me for three years. I hope that my announced changes will not lose me any readers. I appreciate the love and encouragement I've received these past three years, and I hope y'all will continue to support me as the direction of my blog refocuses to its original intent.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sunday Shoutouts: All Things Nerdy

My life is always nerdy, but somehow I ended up reading a lot of nerdy stuff this week.

Harry Potter: Batty Mamzelle asked some interesting questions she had while rereading the first two Harry Potter books. Is the answer to everything, "Well, it's magic, so there"?

Historical Fashion: I totally reblogged this look at overlapping historical time periods and their respective fashions. Mad props to the blogger who added artwork and photos of women of color to the original piece.  

Book-Inspired Fashion: I would like all of these, please. But seriously, who doesn't want cute jewelry about books?!

Book Recommendations: Molly at Smart, Pretty, and Awkward has compiled all of her book recommendations into one list!

What did you read this week?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

5 Things You Should Never Say to a New Bride

Today I've been married for four months and one day, which is pretty exciting! Every day, I feel so blessed to call Beau my husband. I know we're only newlyweds, but we've already weathered a few storms together. Marriage has been amazing, and I look forward to our lifetime together.

That said, I still receive a few comments that range from annoying to infuriating, and I have a feeling I'm not the only bride who has to endure them. So to all well-meaning family members and nosy busybodies, here are a few things you should NOT tell a new bride.

Now that you're married, you don't have to work if you don't want to!

You're kidding, right? Like, I realize my husband has a great job and could support both of us, but I happily supported myself before we got married. I might not earn much money right now, but leaving the workforce to be a housewife would be hugely detrimental to my future earnings potential. I like working. I like having a job. I realize my career choices are no longer entirely my own, but I wouldn't give up working just because my husband earns a lot of money. And if I DID, that's no one else's business but ours.

Your husband is so sweet. You'd better be nice to him.

Yes, please cast me in the role of the evil, nagging wife who is so mean to her perfect, patient husband. These comments are never said jokingly. I literally have people checking in on me to make sure I'm nice to my husband. Um, he married me, so my personality must be okay.

I'm going to call you by your husband's last name because I'm old-fashioned and don't care about your specifically expressed preferences. 

Some thank-you notes have been signed with my full name. All return address labels have both mine and Beau's first and last names.

Have you fixed all of your husband's bad habits yet? 

Stop acting like my husband is a child, unless we're talking about how he and I are adorable and child-like. I am allowed to complain about his tendency to leave laundry everywhere, which is basically the only bad habit I've complained about since we moved in together. No one else gets to judge his life choices AND THEN expect me to fix them to meet your stupid expectations.

When are you having children?

WE'VE BEEN MARRIED FOR FOUR MONTHS. And the vast majority of people know that we saved coitus for marriage, AND we didn't move in together until four weeks before the wedding. Like, can we please be newlyweds for a little bit before you hound us about children? Not to mention this is SUPER-HURTFUL if a couple is dealing with infertility. It's 2014, and people still think it's okay to essentially ask if we're having unprotected sex. Think about it. If you ask me when we're having kids, you're asking me when I want to have unprotected sex with my husband. None of your damn business. 

Fellow brides (and grooms!), what have people said to you that irritated or infuriated you? Let me know in the comments!
Linking up with Nancy J, Meredith, and Mary for Wedding Wednesday! 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Shoutouts: Yes, I Know I'm Beautiful

Married life is keeping me busy! Almost too busy to blog, but I also spent a fair amount of time working on some paid writing this past week. 
Biggest Conversation-Starter: I read this great article last week called "What Happened When We Gave Our Daughter My Last Name." I shared it to my personal Facebook page, which sparked a great conversation. The biggest takeaway is that naming children should be a discussion, not an assumption. 

Best Criticism of Musical Tropes: I've been saying for YEARS that I'm sick and tired of pop romance songs saying that girls are beautiful, but don't know it. And their not knowing it makes them more beautiful. I'm not arrogant. I don't think I'm some supermodel. But I know that I'm pretty. How does that somehow make me less pretty?

Best on Gaslighting: Stop calling women crazy. Seriously. Just because you disagree with us, or dislike what we have to say, does NOT mean we're crazy. 

What did you read last week?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Mentions: Oops, I was Busy This Weekend

I feel pulled in a million different directions, and posting regularly is not at the top of my priorities. I love my blog, and I love my readers, but I'm also trying to figure out marriage, and make new friends, and keep up with my old friends, and enjoy the summer, and read books, and talk to my mom regularly, and organize meals for her, my dad, and younger brother long-distance (why my brother isn't doing this I DON'T KNOW).

That said, I did read stuff on the Internet last week. So I might be late with Sunday Shoutouts, but at least I can do some Monday Mentions. Here's the best of what I've read since last week!

Happy Bastille Day: For grammar nerds, knowing when to use "tu" and when to use "vous" is a nightmare. This handy chart explains the tricky nuances!

Most Uncomfortable Juxtaposition: As an awareness campaign for intimate partner violence, an artist rendered Disney princesses as women physically abused by their significant others. If the wording of any of that is weird to you, that's because I don't like the phrases "domestic violence" and "battered women." 

Best Historical Figure: So I've started following a tumblr on "Rejected Disney Princesses." I love this post which details all the evil things one countess did... And then provides the argument that it was all a smear campaign. I love history!

To keep up with everything I read online, follow me on Twitter, LIKE me on Facebook, and follow me on Tumblr.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wedding Wednesday: Liebster Award

Writing a weekly Wedding Wednesday post has proven to be very difficult, so I set a goal of blogging about wedding stuff every other week. Except sometimes that is not easy either.

BUT I was recently nominated by Emily at Southern Expectations for a Liebster Award. Being the clever cat that I am, I'm killing two birds with one stone. 

1. Each person must post 11 things about themselves. 2. Answer the questions that the nominator has set for you, plus create 11 questions for the  people you've nominated to answer. 3. Choose 11 people (with 200 followers of less) and link them in your post. 4. Go to their page and tell them. 5. No tag backs!
11 Facts About My Wedding
  1. We chose our wedding date based on my younger brother's college spring break.
  2. Beau and I appeared in a local TV news segment two nights before our wedding, discussing why the church and its food pantry should be saved from new zoning laws.
  3. I was sick on our wedding night.
  4. Luckily our wedding was in the morning, so we had married sex in the afternoon before I got sick.
  5. I intentionally chose a morning wedding because I wanted both a champagne brunch afterwards and more time for married sex.
  6. Our "first look" was pretty anti-climatic because Beau is not a crier. 
    This was faked, remember?
  7. My younger brother got ordained on the Internet and co-led the service with the church's actual minister. 
  8. My twin brother proposed to his fiancée before Beau and I got engaged, but their wedding isn't until October. 
  9. I didn't have a bridal party because I didn't want to choose a Maid of Honor. Or bridesmaids. 
  10. Not having a bridal party led to my idea of only having parents and siblings at the wedding itself. 
  11. Having coitus for the first time did not hurt. It actually felt pretty awesome. 
11 Answers to 11 Questions
1. What is your favorite part of blogging? Meeting new people and exchanging ideas!

2. If you could move to any country in the world, where would it be? France, bien sûr!

3. Favorite 'adult' beverage? Sparkling wine.

4. Favorite hobby? Writing.

5. If you could have a super power, what would it be and why? Telekinesis because I could save people from getting crushed by heavy stuff and because I wouldn't have to get out of bed to get food or drink.

6. What does your last text message say? Who was it from? My husband texted me about his sweet hotel suite.

7. What is your idea of a perfect date night? Date Night In: pizza and/or boneless wings, beer, Star Trek, sex, cuddles, sleep. Date Night Out: Zoo trip followed by hibachi for dinner.

8. Favorite food/foods? Candy. Cereal. Chips. Bacon. Pizza. Boneless wings. 

9. You have just one 1 million dollars, you have 24 hours to spend it, what do you do with the money? Book a private jet for me, my family, and my friends to Paris! Shopping spree for everyone, freely flowing champagne (real champagne), and gourmet meals.

10. Best 4th of July Memory? Spending the 4th with my best friend Rose, her grandparents, and her great-aunts. Rose made us all dinner, and then we went to the neighborhood fireworks show. Afterward, Rose and I watched Beauty and the Beast while I drank white wine from a light-up wine glass, and she drank scotch. 

11. Coffee or Tea? Tea!

Thanks for the nomination, Emily! This is my third nomination for the Liebster Award (see previous awards HERE and HERE), so I'm following my friend Dana's lead and not tagging anyone else.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Sunday Shoutouts is Back... for Now

This is my first Sunday Shoutouts post since my mom was diagnosed with cancer. While I've still somehow managed to keep my blog going amidst all the craziness, I have spent considerably less time reading the writing of others online. But I've slowly gotten back into my routines, which include reading the best of the Internet.

Shit People Say to Adult Virgins: Whenever I link to a post in GroupThink, I feel obliged to point out that it is a forum of Jezebel, the Gawker Media site. The writers there are not professional. We are not paid. Sometimes we just happen to write stuff that is really good, so an actual paid writer for Jezebel chooses to share it. I say this only because some of the criticisms lobbed at posts on GroupThink are based on the inaccurate idea that GroupThink writers are paid by Gawker Media.

With that long caveat, I loved this post! I definitely heard my fair share of these comments before I started dating Beau, and I was only 24 when we started dating. I imagine the irritating and presumptuous comments only get worse as a person ages and still maintains a virginal status.

Image credit Carol Rossetti
18 Empowering Illustrations: I had actually seen two or three of these before, but seeing so many of these drawings together is truly inspiring. Graphic designer Carol Rossetti created these amazing illustrations of different kinds of women and the empowered choices they make.

Make Me an Internet Meme: For the month of July, you can stream the amazing documentary How to Lose Your Virginity for only $4.99! Part of the promotion includes some cool gifs from the film's highlights, including some truly hilarious statements by Beau

What have you read this week?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Summer 2014 Book Challenge: Two Months Down!

It's a little surreal how fast summer is going by. But I guess when you spend most of May freaking out because your mom has cancer, and you spend all of June celebrating your birthday except for that time you ended up in the ER... time flies?

But at least I've read several good books, and I feel very confident that I will finish the challenge in time, if not early! I read three books in the month of June, including the book I just finished today. This time, I deviated slightly from my original proposed reading list that I shared at the beginning of the challenge.

10 points: Finish reading a book you couldn't finish the first time around. Maphead by Ken Jennings (276 pages, 4 stars)

15 points: Read a historical fiction book that does not take place in Europe. Lucky Us by Amy Bloom (256 pages, 4 stars, review here)

30 points: Read a pair of books with antonyms in the titles. American Savage: Insights, Slights, and Fights on Faith, Sex, Love, and Politics by Dan Savage (312 pages, 4 stars, review here) Note: the points are for two books and include A is for Abstinence by Kelly Oram, which I read in May.

Previous points: 35

Total points: 90

Also, a big FELICITATIONS to the winner of Lucky Us by Amy Bloom. Michelle, you are the LUCKY winner. Check your inbox for an email from me.

What have you read lately?

Linking up with Book Notes!


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