I apologize for not posting in between Throwback Thursday posts. For the first time while addressing an blog absence, I can say that I’ve no actually been busy with productive things. Vince and I went to see Second City on Friday night. On Saturday, I had a surprisingly productive meeting with my writer’s group that inspired me to revisit and draft old essays. I’ve been working on a new design for the blog (if you didn’t notice, I finally bought the domain). I had a photo shoot with my brother to replace the selfie that serves as my face to the internet (“Make me look less fat” was an actual quote from that night). I’ve been working on an application for a scholarship to take some writing classes this summer, and I finally got my ass back to the gym. If everything goes as planned, you can look for the new design this weekend and I’ll be down to my goal weight in three weeks. I bet one of those things won’t happen. Without further delay – here’s this week’s latest Throwback Thursday! Friday June 11, 1999 Today Katie has a camping party till Sunday morning. Two nights away from Corey and Ryan = H – E – A – V – E – N, heaven! It will be heaven without them, hopefully it doesn’t storm though or otherwise we’ll be stuck in the camper all weekend. Lucky that “Huckleberry” campground has an arcade. (Please have an indoor pool, PLEASE!) C rapy weather – A lways for the Ottos M aybe not this time P lease have good weather I wish N ow I G uess it’s END. still Friday June 11, 1999 It was supposed to storm alot today, but it didn’t. (And I’m glad!) When we were coming, we listened to “Kiss FM” the new song from Backstreet boys was on. “That way” We (me Katie, Danna, and Emily) were singing along with it, it was fun! Then when we got here, we threw the ball in the water for Dude, Katie’s dog. Then we went to the game room. The Game room has a jukebox type thing. I played “Livin La Vita Loka” by Rickie Martin and “Drive myself crazy” by N’sync. It was fun. Then we went swimming, for about 20 minutes. I’ll write more later. They’re playing poker, they’re betting tons of stuff. It looks interesting! See ya! Saturday June 12, 1999 I could NOT get to sleep last night. Danna and I kept on talking, there was this really sick story that Emily told us, which I will NOT write (Sorry Corey!) So we got up ate a breakfast of pancakes, bacon, and eggs with milk. A VERY good meal especially for camping. Then we went swimming for like 45 minutes. It was preety cool and fun. Then we went to the arcade. I played a game of air hockey with Danna, she won, and one with Katie, she won. I stink at air hockey. We went for a walk and at lunch we went to the bar for lunch. We were so freaked out. While we were ordering I saw this sign that said “BEER – helping ugly people have sex since 1862.” Isn’t that sick? Then there were these games where if you got so many points then the lady on the computer took of her pieces of clothing one – by – one. = S – I – C – K! Okay, enough of the past, now the present. I’m sitting by the campfire listening to our RUDE camping nehbiors practically yell to talk to each other. I experienced one of those blinding moments of a resurfacing memory while rereading these entries. The story Emily told – about seeing two girls playing with each other in the showers at the public pool – was one of those stories that was seared into my mind. Probably because it was the first tale of lesbianism I had ever heard. My christian upbringing had instilled such a healthy sense of homophobia that the story made me sick to my stomach. I could picture it and every fiber in my body told me it was wrong. The strange thing was that I was sure it was wrong not because it was two girls, but because it was a sexually charged moment. I think I would have been just disturbed if it had been a boy and girl playing with each other in the shower. This weekend was apparently my first experience with sexuality. I had such an idealistic view of love and relationships – one that didn’t ever veer into the sexual realm. I was terrified of all things sexual. I was disgusted by most of my body (I think the only thing I didn’t completely hate was my hair), and the idea of anyone touching or coming near my “private parts” was grotesque. Sexual thoughts were bad. Sexual feelings were sins. Sexual acts of any kind were completely forbidden. It’s not at all surprising that I thought talking about sex was essentially damning myself to hell. I was fairly certain the devil was preparing my quarters (I imagined a corner red, black, fiery, with rusty chains, where I’d be doomed to watch him eat spaghetti for all of eternity. Not sure where I got the spaghetti detail from, but that was what I imagined) when I sat through the first sex ed class in fifth grade. This wasn’t even the one where intercourse was discussed – it just addressed the fact that boys had penises and girls had vaginae and breasts. But yeah, I heard the word “penis” and I heard the word “vagina” and I seriously considered writing a letter to my principal, telling him that I was a child of god and had no business hearing words like that. Hearing terms for my body parts? UNACCEPTABLE, Mr. Demilio. Now, I’m not saying that my parents raised me wrong or that they made me terrified of my own sexuality. I scared myself all on my own. On several occasions, I remember my mother telling me, “Sex isn’t bad – sex is really beautiful when it’s shared by a husband and wife who really love each other.” My mother handled it well. My father never addressed it, not that I expected him to, really. I give props to every parent who has the guts to talk to their kids about sex. I’m debating if I ever even want kids, just so I don’t have to deal with that whole deal. Children are so inherently weird about these things. It’s a shame that our bodies mature so much earlier than our brains. Our bodies long to be touched while our brains still laugh at the idea of a boner. The concept of making love is completely absurd; we don’t realize our bodies are emotional objects. We don’t learn that almost any physical sensation affects our pysche until much later – usually after we’ve made a few mistakes first. I knew sex was supposed to be something beautiful and significant, and that’s why the images in the bar disturbed me so much. At the time, I didn’t have the capacity to realize I was wasn’t disgusted by them – I was saddened by them. The image of two people having sex only when enough beer had been consumed was heartbreaking. Maybe because I always feared I’d be one of them. Or maybe I feared I’d be like that blonde girl on the pixelated screen, getting male attention only by slinking down a catwalk while peeling off my clothing. I didn’t want to think that lust had anything to do with relationships and love. These first encounters with lust were scary. Lust made you animalistic and hungry only for the violation of another person. Lust had the ability to turn love into a selfish compulsion. This deeply depressed me. I’d like to say that I’ve completely lost these feelings and that all of my experiences have proved Young Ashley wrong. the truth is that intimacy isn’t always intimate. Looking back on some of my relationships, I can name, without hesitation, several occasions when the selfishness of lust stole the show. These were moments where I was so dumbfounded by what had just been taken from me, I wasn’t able to react. At the time, I pretended like everything was okay, but some of these moments disturbed me so much that I’ve written drafts and drafts of essays and stories trying to figure out what exactly happened – to no avail, for the most part. Maybe we can credit some of my cynicism here: people can be the most awful to each other in moments of pure vulnerability. I guess you could say that Young Ashley was a prude. Ashley of Today thinks that intimacy isn’t valued highly enough. I’m not saying that I think pre-marital sex is wrong. I’m no longer religious, and if you’ve got half an ounce of intelligence, you’ve probably picked up on the glaring hypocrisy if I made such a statement. What I’m saying is that my mom was right – sex can be really beautiful when two people love and respect each other. If I had to tell Young Ashley anything, it would be the following: Sex is not terrible. You will not go to hell for wondering about penises. Your vagina is not the source of all evil. Treasure yourself. And stop journaling at campfires with your friends. You look like a weirdo.