I will be back to the blog soon enough, but for now, here's a link to my newsletter. If you subscribe, I will like you. So there's that. http://tinyletter.com/wendiaarons/letters/the-days-of-no-wine-and-roses

 

Wendi Aarons




The Days of No Wine and Roses

I will be back to the blog soon enough, but for now, here’s a link to my newsletter. If you subscribe, I will like you. So there’s that.

http://tinyletter.com/wendiaarons/letters/the-days-of-no-wine-and-roses

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AMAZE Your Kids with Sex Education

I have a song stuck in my head today. It’s a catchy little number called “That’s How the Boner Grows.”

Yes, you read that right.

Lest you think I’ve finally gone off the deep end and/or I’ve found some “subscription only” part of the internet, this song is actually from a fun, new video for tweens and teens that was produced by sex education experts Advocates for Youth, Answer and Youth Tech Health (YTH). YTH’s new entity, AMAZE, is an online sex ed resource for kids 10-14 years old, and it features entertaining, non-judgemental, animated videos that cover all of the puberty, sex, relationships and body change issues that constantly race through an adolescent’s mind. Questions like: “Is this normal? Should I have hair there? Why don’t I have hair there? Am I gay? Am I straight? Am I BOTH?”

Honestly, with so much to wonder about, it’s surprising kids this age even have the time to forget to take out the trash and roll their eyes at you.

AMAZE was smart and put their videos online in a YouTube playlist format because kids spend a ton of time on the internet looking for answers to their private questions. Of course, this searching of theirs can lead to misinformation, porn, frightening rumors and lord knows what else. I mean, you can’t even Google “chicken breast” safely anymore. And let’s not even talk about the time I searched “how to toss a salad” because that’s a permanent scar on my brain now. Spoiler: IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH LETTUCE.

What I like about AMAZE as a parent and advocate of sex education is that their videos are entertaining, but they also don’t talk down to kids or give vague or unrealistic information. I once watched the video our Texas public schools show the 5th grade boys during their puberty talk, and all it said was: “When boys get excited, they may have an erection.” What? If I was a kid who saw that, I’d probably live in constant fear of ever feeling joy or happiness lest it makes my penis do things I don’t want it to do.

The AMAZE videos are also a lot more dynamic than a book (sorry, books), and, this is important, can be watched without anyone knowing. Perfect for the easily embarrassed tween. YTH has made it super simple for kids to find the info they want and need with no hassle.

Here’s a really fun AMAZE video about the wonderful experience of growing boobs.

 

Alas, nothing about what happens later in life when those perky new boobs turn into tube socks with a rock inside the toe. Hey, could you get on that, AMAZE? We older ladies need some info, too.

Finally just so you can share my earworm, here’s the “That’s How the Boner Grows” video and song. It’s greatly amusing, but it should also be watched just so you can see how a boner helps a young man change a flat tire. Yes, really. AAA has no idea.

 

I encourage all parents and educators to use AMAZE as their go-to resource for the 10-14 year old crowd. The website is chock full of age appropriate information, links, and education. And please note that if your kid is anything like mine, there is no way in hell they’d ever consider sitting down and watching the videos together, so I suggest you just casually mention, “Hey, I hear there are some fun videos on this Amaze.org website!” then run away before the eye roll happens.

Find AMAZE at these places:

AMAZE.org

Hashtag: #MoreInfoLessWeird

Social media:

youtube.com/amazevids

instagram.com/amazeorg

Snapchat: AMAZEorg

facebook.com/AMAZEparents (launching soon)

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This was a sponsored post. All opinions, especially about tube sock boobs, are mine.

 

     
 

National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day

Exactly one year ago today, I had the opportunity to work with the Centers for Disease Control on their campaign to spread awareness and destigmatize people living with HIV. I interviewed a lovely woman named Venita Ray, and detailed her #DayWithHIV here. It was an eye-opening experience for me, for sure, as I hope it was for those of you who read her story.

This year, I’m once again working with the CDC to help spread the word about National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day, held September 18th, 2016.

There are a few important words in this day’s name, like “HIV/AIDS” and “Awareness,” but the key word is really “Aging.” You see, while the overall infection rate of HIV in the US has thankfully decreased, there is a significant risk to those aged 50+ because they’re less likely to be tested. And what does “less likely to be tested” result in? Much higher mortality rates.

Now, why do you think 50+ don’t get tested? Is it because they’re too busy hanging out at the Bingo parlor or watching reruns of “The Golden Girls”? I mean, that’s what I do with most of my time and I’m not even 50 yet, so I get it. But no, the reason for the lack of testing is the stigma associated with HIV. The fear of a positive diagnosis, then of the treatment and the marginalization that follows. And that fear is causing a lot more harm than it should because those with HIV can live healthy, fulfilling lives if they’re being treated.

But let’s back up a bit and talk about why those 50+ should even think about getting tested in the first place. Yes, this part is going to be about Old Person Sex, so brace yourselves, kids. Go drop a Tums if you need to, I’ll wait.

Now, many widowed and divorced people are dating after being monogamous for years. And by “dating,” I mean “hooking up on Tinder.” And some of these people aged 50+ don’t think their peer group is at risk for HIV, so they may be less likely to protect themselves. Of course, some of them probably still have a condom in their wallet from 1968, but that should be put into the Smithsonian, not put into use. Trojans were not made to withstand four decades.

Women aged 50+ also might not protect themselves during sex because the “accidental pregnancy” ship has sailed. I mean, why worry about getting knocked up in the backseat of an Impala if you went to prom during the Reagan administration? But this age group is still at risk for HIV, which means tell that lovely grey haired gentleman you met on your Carnival Cruise to wrap it up, ladies. Even the aforementioned Golden Girls knew that.

Also, while older people visit their doctors quite often, they’re less likely than younger people to discuss their sexual or drug use with their physician. (Unlike younger people who throw that shit up on Instagram 24/7.) But people 50+ need to keep the dialogue open, not only to find out if they’re at risk, or to ask for testing, but also because there’s no shame in talking about HIV. Let me repeat that: there’s no shame in talking about HIV. HIV can affect anyone, at any time, anywhere, no matter how old, how young or how big your house is, if you’re not practicing safe sex. So can we just get over this stigma crap already? Please?

Luckily, the brilliant people at the CDC are working to help us do just that, as well as providing incredible resources for those with HIV/AIDS. Here are just some of their offerings:

  • Support and technical assistance to health department and community-based organizations to deliver effective prevention and evidence-based interventions for antiretroviral therapy adherence for older Americans.
  • Act Against AIDS, a national communications initiative that focuses on raising awareness, fighting stigma, and reducing the risk of HIV infection among at-risk populations. Act Against AIDS includes Let’s Stop HIV Together (approximately 40% of campaign participants are aged 50 and older); HIV Screening. Standard Care., which encourages primary care physicians to screen patients of all ages for HIV infection; and Prevention IS Care, which provides continuing education and materials for physicians to address the complex issues of those living with HIV infection.
  • The Comprehensive HIV Prevention Programs for Health Departments Funding Opportunity Announcement, a 5-year, $339 million HIV prevention initiative for health departments in states, territories, and select cities, including those serving clients at risk for HIV infection.

And if you are 50+ and out on the singles scene, or know someone who is, here is even more information about older Americans and HIV/AIDS.

What can we do to spread awareness, you ask? (You totally did, don’t pretend you didn’t.) Well, it’s simple. Talk. Talk some more. Don’t be fearful. Support those living with HIV. And on September 18th, recognize  National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day.

Do this via using or following these hashtags: #StopHIVTogether and #StopHIVStigma

By following these social accounts:

And by reading more here: http://www.cdc.gov/actagainstaids/campaigns/lsht/index.html

Even a little bit of effort can make a big difference.

Finally, if you’ve made it this far, thank you for reading. I know I’m usually a humor writer, but this is an important topic that I feel we should all know more about no matter how old we are. Or how old we hope to be.

This post is made possible by support from the Let’s Stop HIV Together campaign. All opinions are my own.

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Newsletters! The Newsletters Are Taking Over!

If you haven’t heard the big news, I now have a newsletter! It’s a lot of fun and I’m giving away things (of low to medium value, calm down) and sharing fun links, so take a look and subscribe!

I promise this isn’t a Russian trick.

 

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Chasing Olympic Glory: The Wendi Aarons Story

Like most champions, Wendi Aarons began her road to the Olympics in the snow-filled hinterlands of North Dakota. “Who would have guessed a quiet girl from a state known less for world-class swimming and more for hockey and farmhouse meth labs would make it this far?” she muses. “Definitely not a single person I’ve ever met in my entire life thought that. Most still don’t.”

Maybe that’s because Wendi’s journey to legend status had a rocky start. “We stopped paying for summer swim lessons at the public pool because they never seemed to take,” her mother Sharon remembers. “When she wasn’t sinking like a cannonball or clutching onto the instructor’s neck and leaving marks, she was at the snack stand spending her allowance on candy bars and packs of grape Hubba Bubba. She just wasn’t ready for greatness at that time.”

Unfortunately, she still wasn’t ready a few years later when she was required to take swimming lessons in Junior High PE class. What could have been an excellent opportunity to hone her skills instead went nowhere because Wendi didn’t have the metal state of a champion. Close friends at the time say she also didn’t have the mental state to deal with the grody PE showers and Melissa Jackson’s weird third nipple that she always flaunted in the locker room “like the fancy heifer in a 4-H competition.”

“I’m not proud of this,” Wendi relates, while gazing down at her thumbs made muscular from hours of texting in her vote to American Idol, “Okay, maybe I am a little, but the reason I never swam in junior high was because I told Mr. Gregson the PE teacher that I had my period, and I couldn’t get in the pool or I’d die from catastrophic blood loss. Of course, a more enlightened teacher would have realized that it’s not normal for a 13-year-old girl to have her period for eight straight weeks, but it was the 80’s, and men were still terrified by menstruation. I don’t hold any grudges.”

The next year, what could have been Wendi’s time to shine at YMCA summer camp was instead sabotaged by her actually getting her period for realsies, and having to sit out her cabin’s much lauded synchronized swimming performance of “Grease” held in a Minnesota lake. “I called my mom to ask her how to use a tampon,” she bitterly laughs, “because this was years before things like Period Parties and instructional videos were around. She said ‘there are only two places you can put it in and one is really really wrong.’ I was so terrified of the wrong place that I just stayed in the craft room and made another God’s Eye. Someone else had to play Rizzo with a nose-plug that day.”

The years that followed for Wendi were troubled ones, and included hot tubs, keg parties, a film degree, and a very, very ill-advised swimsuit that she ordered from the Virginia Slims catalog despite not knowing a single smoker. A swimsuit that never once got wet, she laughs, because she was worried it’d disintegrate. “Maybe things would have been different if I’d had a sponsor then. Like Speedo or that company that makes American flag Budweiser bikinis. But a small town girl who sinks like a stone? I wasn’t even on their radar.”

Decades passed without Wendi doing anything more strenuous than sipping margaritas near a pool, but then things changed when she was expecting her first child. She decided it was time to get serious and up her game. More specifically, she wanted to be able to expand her stroke repertoire from “none” to “at least something that’ll get me across the pool if I need to rescue a kid or cute animal that’s not a squirrel.” She enrolled in the only swim class available at the time, one taught by a 6’3” older woman named Rhonda who was fond of wearing the flap hats most often found on Legionnaires, archeologists and 80’s nerds. Wendi had high hopes of learning everything she needed to learn from Rhonda, high hopes of reaching the world-class level at last, but unfortunately, Rhonda’s focus was on the other students in class.

“It had to be,” she says before abruptly hanging up the phone, “because they were all under the age of six. The best thing I can say about that dummy Aarons is she was the only one who never peed on me.”

Once she hit the age of 40, Wendi knew time was closing in on her. She finally realized that she needed a serious coach, so she started private swimming lessons with the part-time bus driver she met at the grocery store. Sue was a tough taskmaster, an unrelenting beyotch, and she pushed Wendi to do things she’d never done before. Things like sticking her entire face in the water, and using both arms when she did the crawl. “She also showed me that there’s a better way to end your backstoke than just waiting until your head whacks into the side of the pool. That shaved at least 20 minutes off my time.” But would it be enough? Could it take her to the next level?

It didn’t look good. Their special mentor/mentee relationship ended when school started and Sue had to get back to her bus route. But her lessons on how to be a champion remained ingrained in Wendi’s DNA. She felt she was now, at last, ready to compete. Years of doubt, whining, and a deep-seated pathological fear of getting water in her ears were in the rearview mirror. For Wendi, it was go time. It was champion time. It was legend time.

It was also, as she quickly learned, illegal for a 48-year-old woman to compete in the neighborhood swim meet against 10-year-olds. “Well, not usually,” she relates. “but it was that day because of the white wine on my breath. I should have known better than to try to hide wino breath from a squad of bossy mom officials. Those bitches can smell wine in their sleep.” But despite the setbacks, the disdain, the lost opportunities, and her rapidly aging body, Wendi is still determined in her quest for glory.

“If I can make it one lap across my backyard pool without stopping, getting a wedgie, or yelling the f-word at a bird, then I will have fulfilled my destiny,” she says quietly. “And I will be, for the first time on this crazy journey, a champion.”

You already are, Wendi Aarons. You already are.

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