Once, I tried to bake muffins. I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I made some substitutions. The muffins turned out green, and the texture kind of resembled diarrhea. I tried to feed them to the horses, and even they wouldn’t eat the stupid muffins.
This is one of the reasons I worry about being an adult.
I can’t cook. I can’t sew. Little kids are usually scared of me but probably not as scared as I am of them. I can’t braid hair and I don’t know very much about make-up. I never bothered with prom and I don’t really have visions for a perfect wedding. The thought of cute underwear is still kind of weird to me, and I don’t even know when I last painted my nails. And I think there’s something to be said for the fact that none of this made me feel like a failure as a woman. I think that means we’re doing something right.
I got my ears pierced when I was twelve years old. Mom made me wait until I was old enough to really decide that’s what I wanted, which was probably a good parenting move. My parents were really good about always making sure we had a choice. Somehow, they understood that in the end, we’d do what we’d do anyways, and that their power over us was mostly an illusion.
On my twelfth birthday, we went into the costume jewelry store in the mall and I squeezed my mom’s hand as a very dainty woman drove a tiny stake into my flesh. It hurt, but it was worth it. She held up the mirror and I gushed at the small sapphire studs. I remember laying in bed that night thinking, I’m a new woman, and my twelve-year-old heart bubbled over with excitement in a way that’s really hard to describe.
Actually, the only person I could ever accurately describe it to was Boyfriend #3. When I told him, his eyes lit up knowingly. “Yeah, I get it,” he explained. “When I got an X-box, it was like surreal. I just kept thinking, I am now a boy who has an X-box.”
I think that’s when I realized that me getting my ears pierced had nothing to do with femininity at all, and X-boxes were hardly about manhood. We were both just high on the idea of being a part of something. Being just like everyone else.
About two weeks after I got my ears pierced, I started to regret the hasty decision. The small sapphires felt all wrong, and my body suddenly seemed foreign and faulty. I wanted to take them out, but Mom told me to leave them. “You’ll have big scars in your ears if you take them out before the hole forms. You don’t want that.”
I have very few regrets, but piercing my ears is one of them. As it turns out, I’m just not much of a jewelry girl.
A few semesters ago, I signed up for a basic auto-maintenance class. I reasoned that because I had a car, I should know something about it. Silly me.
I was one of about three girls in our class of twenty, and I was the sole sociology major in a room full of engineering and science students. On the first day, the professor had us go around the room telling our names, where we’re from, and what sort of car we drove. Guys start standing up and proudly stating their make and model, as if it were a crucial piece of their identity, and I realize that I have no idea what the difference is between a make and a model, never mind which ones I drove around in. I zone out and start thinking of how I’m going to get out of this one. It’s a… Ford? I think? An SUV? What does SUV even stand for? And then I realize how quiet it is.
“My name is Miranda, I’m from Billings, Montana, and, um, I don’t actually know what kind of car I drive. But that’s why I’m in this class I guess.” Everyone laughs, and in order to redeem myself, I say, “It’s blue.” Which set off an array of chuckles and several “that’s cute” looks from seventeen college boys.
For the record, my car is blue. And I did learned that it’s a Ford (make) Explorer (model), but that’s about the only thing I learned in the class. Actually, the whole class was very frustrating. Not because the information was more than I could handle, but because the class (professor included) assumed I wasn’t going to get it and mostly did everything for me.
I got an A in the class. But I still don’t know how to change a tire.
I never associated crying with women, and I definitely didn’t associate it with weakness. I’ve seen my Daddy cry more times than I can count, and it never seemed like such a big deal. I don’t know when I realized that crying was something people were scared of. Like, if anyone starts crying at work, at school, they’re sensitive at best and emotionally unstable at worst. If you’re a woman, you might get some slack, for a while. If you’re a man, you might not.
I’m just not sure what about the act of tears springing from your eyes makes you any less capable of completing a task. I can cry and drive or write or do jumping jacks or anything that you can do not crying. It’s just something that says, “Look, I have emotions, we all have emotions. Okay?”
And maybe it’s because when someone cries, we feel a serious urge to fix their sadness, and we can’t, and that’s frustrating for us. But empathy was never about solutions.
I cry a lot. And I’m not a weakling. Can’t we all just let each other have a good cry sometimes?
I have a pretty serious Pinterest addiction, and I’m embarrassed to tell people that. Not because of the addiction part, but because Pinterest is so… girly. And maybe I’m just paranoid, but I’ve definitely had people roll their eyes as I pull up my latest Pin. You’re such a girl, they tease.
And that’s dumb. Because it’s literally just a visual search engine.
It’s the same reason that I don’t listen to a lot of Ingrid Michaelson, even though that’s my favorite thing to do when I’m sad. It’s why I don’t take a lot of baths or wear as many dresses as I’d like to. It’s why I don’t put on red lipstick. I just want to be taken seriously.
I have a very dear friend who loves fashion. This friend also happens to be male. And straight. And I will never forget how his eyes got all teary when someone told him to man up and stop acting so gay.
But he couldn’t cry. Because then they’d have their “told you so” moment. He learned pretty quickly to hold it all in, that it’s easier to embrace masculinity. I learned to do the same.