An Awkward Conversation About Sex.

"So Annie, I have an awkward question for you. Is it weird to have sex with pubic hair?"

Nancy was not awkward as she asked this question. She could not wait to hear the answer.

I said no.

"Alright, well, Annie have you had sex?"

She was a little nervous asking me this question. Utimately curiosity trumped timidity.

"I have not." I replied.

All of the girls sitting in our little circle drinking their juice and eating their chewy bars gasped.

"How old are you!?" Nancy replied. She essentially jumped from her seat. The idea of being a virgin past the age of 20 was entirely absurd. She is determined to have sex by 9th grade. She is currently an 8th grader. I asked why.

"I'm curious."

and I replied, "Well, why have you chosen 9th grade to be the time when you want to have sex?"

My frankness with this subject was more awkward to them then the actual questions they were discussing. Their homework for health class was a giant packet of papers filled with diagrams of penises and vaginas and birth control options. I know because they all ask me to help them identify the hymen and the vas deferens on the fill-in-the-blank worksheets.

The fact that I used the word such as orgasm*, vagina, and penis in a normal conversation (aka not a health teacher looking at a powerpoint presentation in class) was an entirely new experience.

Nancy rolls her eyes at me. "Fine, I'll have sex in 11th grade."


Jane Austen married off some of her heroines at of 17 or 18. Elizabeth Bennet was 20 when she married Mr. Darsey. According to the U.S. Census Bureau the average age of brides between 1947 to 1972 was 20. (This statistic is based on Current Population Survey data.) In other parts of the world, as one could assume, the average age of brides are significantly lower. For example, 76% of girls in Niger are married before the age of 18. Yes, you could argue everything I just said is about marriage and not about sex.

But this is still about young girls having sex. Marriage or not. Shouldn't that be part of the point?

I always suggest that you take statistics with a grain of salt, but humor me here.

We are appalled that girls want to have sex at an early age. But should we be?
Haven't we taught the young via movies, music, and even the most genuine teacher/adult conversations about how kids need to be able to express who they are however they choose? Hasn't Ms. Frizzle taught the best of us that mistakes are a good thing? (So we need not fear the consequences of our actions.)

We watch shows like Glee and The OC and we turn a blind eye to the fact that everyone is having sex and getting pregnant. Well, that's just the norm, we say.

Alright, but why?

And, (in Nancy case and in most of the responses I've had with my girls), how come the question, "why do you want to have sex at x grade negates a genuine response?

My point in all of this, I guess, is that Nancy's question and response made absolute sense. We have designed our culture to view youth as the climax of a human life. The wonder years. The glory days.

Adults lust after the idea of youth. Hell, even us recent-post-college kids feel the need to travel and explore and find meaning because we are so afraid that our chance of self-discovery will pass us by. (I know, a bit harsh.) Some people try to revert to youth: get plastic surgery, fake tan, dye hair, apply to be on the Bachelor/ette.

Others seek out the young instead of trying to be it again. Cougars. Robbing the Cradle, if you will. Porn. (You hardly ever see old ladies with saggy breasts featured in Maxim.)

Being a young or attaining a youth is the ultimate prize.

Yet when a 13 year old girl wants to have sex, or does have sex (especially with an older person) we frown in disgust, shame, and deep sadness.

Culturally speaking, does it shock you that what we lust after and what we deem as evil overlap in age?

*One of my girls asked me if she could turn her clitoris "off" so she wouldn't get an orgasm. Because, of course, that would be too weird.


Cock Shots and Closing Your Eyes

Eric came over to the apartment for dinner a while ago. It was nice of him. He told us a story about something that had happened in his classroom that day. His eyebrows were high, his mouth gaping, "A fifth-grade girl got some sext messages from a guy at the middle school." His message was "Can you believe that? Isn't that awful? They are living in a different world."

And I've noticed a rise in penis pictures on the periphery of my life. Not just random ones that have been orphaned from the rest of their male out in cyberspace, but personal ones, connected ones, attached to traceable phone numbers and emails. These people are saying, "Look, here is my sausage blossom. I'd like you to have a picture of it."

Brett Favre's sexting scandal cost him $50,000. Kanye West writes the lyrics, "She find pictures in my email/ I sent this bitch a picture of my dick" and he sells almost half a million albums in the first week.

I've been running to the song with those lyrics (It's my favorite on the album so far.), and I like how straight he sings that line. He's not bragging, and he's not ashamed. He's more like, "Oh yeah, that happened. I had forgotten about it." I like it because he's also a bit baffled. Tell me, again, how portions of my anatomy ended up in my out box. In his puerility he asks for all of us: what the hell are we doing?

I'm guessing that this impulse has always been inside of us -- we are not newly finding the urge to bombard others with our manhood. In the olden days by the time you had taken johnson out for a jiggle, snapped the photo, walked over to your ink jet, produced a stamp and envelope, and mailed that sucker, you had thought better of it.

Now we can easily use our bodies as weapons against other people. We send their naked little images up to space where they are redirected to the cellphone of a fifth-grade girl and embedded into her memory.


What's Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face

You know those spy thrillers where gorgeous dangerous people pull handfuls of passports out of an obscure bank deposit box in Europe? They have loads of aliases: people from different countries with different names and birthdays. Sydney Bristol. Jason Borne.

It shows you how powerful they are (or how much powerful help they’ve had) because names are important. Our names connect us to taxes, bank accounts, medical insurance, speeding tickets, credit scores, degrees, citizenship, and families. A person who has legal documentation for separate names has different identities according to the state.

As far as I can tell, this is what’s in a name:
Close my bank account and open a new one. Switch direct deposit from work and withdrawal from loans. Get new cards and checks. Change my name at the SS office (pay money). Go to the Department of Licensing. Stand in line. Provide proof of change in residency from Colorado to Washington. Pay Money. Apply for a new passport. Pay money. Wait. Change the title, insurance, and plates on my car. Get used to hearing "Carvers".

And I was hoping to avoid all this. I had thought that maybe Amy Brown would have done something great enough that the world could not spare her. That those names wouldn't disappear so easily.



So, I've started a project that I really hope I finish.

I plan on taking one picture everyday for the rest of the year. The purpose of this project is to do two things:
-to practice photography on a daily basis
-to create a story that requires 365 days to figure itself out.

The duration and patience and commitment of this project empathizes with my own ideas and plans and unknowns for my future.

These are my three photos so far. I won't post every single one even though it would also (hopefully) improve my writing skills.
We'll just have to see.

from top to bottom:

jan 01- the first thing I saw when I woke up that morning. Lake Tapps from Nic Vargus' house.
jan 02- Jon Fox fixing my car. He would say, "I didn't fix your car, I just reattached the rubber lining to the inner frame."
I say Jon Fox fixed my car.
jan 03- A kid at my middle school grabbed handfuls of paper towels, threw them in a trash bin in the boy's bathroom and lit it on fire. The school was frantic and smokey. This is the fire truck that saved the day.