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A Long-Overdue Apology

This blog is not meant to be constant navel-gazing, and if you’re not interested in my personal bullshit feel free not to read. However, there’s an apology that’s long-overdue to someone who’s been very dear to me – someone whose constant complaint was that he felt like a secret.

A blog post won’t right any wrongs, especially one that’s somewhat anonymous. Still, I’ve been in his shoes before so I will do what I can.

 

Once upon a time I was madly in love with a guy named Dru. For some time he was the first person I thought about when I woke up and would often fall asleep texting him at night. There was a time where I was traveling wherever my little heart desired, and every place I visited I saw through the lens of his crazy sarcastic artist’s perspective. There was a CD I bought a few weeks before the first time he said “I love you”, and I would listen to it on repeat because it said the same thing that I was too chicken to say.

 

Long distance relationships are always a challenge, especially when people are focused on school and work as intensely as we were and probably still are. Being in different time zones can add to the wear and tear, but luckily we found ways to enjoy the same TV shows and movies, the same news, the same jokes. All I cared about was that we were able to share these things, but it wasn’t enough.

I didn’t declare our relationship on Facebook or Twitter. To me it was moot since the people in my everyday life knew about him and I couldn’t care less what Facebook thinks. Even when I have dated people who also have Facebook I don’t always list my relationship. When my coworkers, roommates, friends ask how someone is… To me, that’s what’s real.

 

Dru, you’ve hardly been a secret in my life. Spending the crazy brief vacation with you was better than any of the other trips I’d taken. The accident and injury was scary – more than I’ve admitted to a lot of people – and I can’t tell you how much your support meant to me. My work bestie still asks about you.

 

I understand that school became your priority, and honestly that’s probably how it should be. You’re gifted and deserve all the fruits of your hard work. While we disagreed about how I should or shouldn’t have aired our relationship on social media I still respected your opinion and always loved you. I understand your reticence. I know you’d been hurt in the past by being a secret. I know that we live at a different pace, and that I live life much more intently when it comes to getting what I want. I always thought that two independent people could compromise and come together eventually.

 

Why the fuck am I writing this if you’ve been radio silent for ages? People have been asking about you (still), so this is my statement. And, well, it’s what I wanted any time I’ve been in your position. Here’s the publicity you wanted, for whatever it’s worth.

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Mother’s Day – Insert Something Shitty Here

 

This post is for Amanda.

 

My relationship with my family is practically non-existent on both sides, so why is it I get more shit for skipping Mother’s Day than Father’s Day? Obviously, it’s because we understand the harm of a neglectful, hateful parent more than we understand the danger of a parent who loves too much.

Yep, I said it.

Read more here from people more scholarly than myself: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-legacy-distorted-love/201204/when-mother-s-day-hurts

 

Most people accept that I gave up on any relationship with my dad long ago because the neglect and abuse was clear. As the firstborn, I was what ruined his life – he made a point to tell me several times. I was just as hormonal as a young adult as I am now, but I was also Full IB, in every band possible at my school (half of them prestigious and award-winning) and playing half a dozen instruments, I lettered in curling my first year as a Sophomore, and I had 2-3 jobs at any given time. I was fluent in French by the time I was 16, our drama club advisor would always ask if I could participate, I wrote and directed a one-act play. None of this was good enough for him. I was a fat, lazy, nerdy, emotional loser and I would never amount to anything.

It’s easy to understand why this is toxic. In fact, it’s much easier to sever this part of my life because it is so clear how bad all of these experiences are, and how they’ll never change into anything positive. Being told I need to grovel and beg forgiveness for the abuse I suffered is clearly the wrong answer, and even at 23 I knew I had made the right decision to walk away when I did, six years earlier. That gives me strength.

 

The problem is how we see parents who “love too much”, whose shortcomings are much more impactful than “shortcomings” but get swept under the rug because a parent does it out of love.

On the one hand, I’ve got a mother who’s worked hard to provide for her children despite serious life challenges. Having had similar challenges WITHOUT having children, I can appreciate the difficulty of her experience.

On the other hand… In the words of my friend Amanda, #MyMotherIsBatshitInsane. To my mother, as the firstborn, I was what saved her life. I was her best friend, her ray of light, her reason for living. And I knew this since I was old enough to remember.

 

I’m not going to delve into the sad, crazy, pity-me stories – let me leave you one example so you might understand. When I was 18 I was in a terrible relationship and was too afraid to tell my parents (mom and stepdad) I was being raped because I was afraid I’d be made fun of for it. Eventually I found the courage to get out of that relationship, and that day culminated in the cops being called because the boyfriend was trying to kill me. Through the circumstances I was forced to tell my parents what had happened, and sure as shit, my mom laughed at me. My own mother made fun of me for being a victim – almost a “serves you right” attitude – despite her having told us she’d also been a victim of sexual abuse as a child and young woman.

 

No, I didn’t cut ties with my mother when I was 18. It took another 8 years, but throughout that time I’ve been held hostage to both her past and our family past.

 

My parents divorced when I was in elementary school and through a tumultuous, manipulative time I chose to live with my dad. Even as a young kid I knew that my dad would be best able to provide for me, while my mom only wanted to be my friend. I’ve always said I needed a parent who could be responsible and keep a roof over my head, and even in the thick of the neglect and abuse I again chose my dad’s house of hell over a house where my mom would drink and drive, or maybe the phone or gas bill wouldn’t be paid. Over and over again I’m made to answer for these decisions, for the actions of my dad and stepmother, and for the things that happened to her as a kid.

 

Now, in the interest of having an adult relationship and clearing my own conscience I’ve apologised most sincerely for the hurt and the things I’ve done. I’ve done all I can to atone for the things I was responsible for. It’s still not enough and I don’t know what to do.

If this sat between only me and my mom, maybe it would be easier; the trick is that my younger brother is involved and he takes the hurt and the pain my mom experienced even more personally because he chose to live with her. There were months where my brother and I didn’t see each other because neither of us wanted anything to do with the parents where each other lived. It was painful, and when we were able to be together, my brother was one of my dearest friends. What hurts the most is how my mom uses this emotional dynamic to manipulate my brother and me when she can, either to get her own way or to get us to do something. I don’t think she does it consciously, but it happens. The lies that get told are different enough from reality that it’s not some simple misunderstanding.

 

Yet, all of this happens because my mother loves us too much. She always wants the best for us, her hurt comes from the fact that she’s sacrificed everything if only for us to have a better life. She didn’t get to go to college or have fun as a young adult, so it was on me to make the best of myself. She was always a prisoner to her own neglectful past and her need for us to be comforted that she didn’t get to take care of herself. That didn’t end well – if the self-destructive behaviour wasn’t enough it’s the single thing I can point to that drove me away. I always said I needed a responsible parent more than I needed one who loved me.

 

So few people see this cycle of hurt and guilt as something damaging, something real. My mom isn’t as nuts as Amanda’s, but we’re held hostage not only by our mother’s behaviour but by society’s mandate that we love our parents no matter what. It’s up to us to fix this, parents only do the best they can!

I should rejoice that I have a parent who thinks I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, instead of one who never says I’m good enough! Sure, maybe, but the voices in my head always say I’m never good enough so not having anything constructive to counter those ideas only serves to reinforce them. Let’s be real – there’s no way in Hell I’ve got a shot at marrying Prince William, even if I wanted to.

I should rejoice that the criticism I get is only normal motherly guidance. “You should never have kids, you’re too strict” and “I’ll be surprised if you ever do get married, you probably never will” are things that every mother says to their young adult, right? Clearly those are constructive.

 

I say no. The day when the big fight happened about 4 years ago, I sat down with my stepdad and we had a frank heart-to-heart. He’s seen the drama trauma first-hand and understands that I need boundaries in my life. For the first time I was able to articulate that I can’t actually live a life when I’m dragged into the past every chance she gets. Not only can I not account for anything that happened before I was born, the divorce happened nearly two decades prior and we should all have moved on by now.

I told my stepdad that I can’t have a family like everyone wants because I can’t introduce anyone into the crazy. My mom will spill all the family beans to anyone who will listen, so why would I bring a new person into this mess? Imagine if I had kids, and she started telling them about ANY of the abuse either of us have survived? She did it to my college roommate and made me answer for it. No, that’s not okay.

 

As I get older I’m finding I don’t necessarily want a family. People say that my dog is well-enough behaved and I’ve got a good enough compass to raise well-adjusted kids… but really? Forget all the physical problems I’m still dealing with. I’ve lived with an inner monologue always telling me I’m never good enough, and although in the last ten years or so I’ve learned how to say “FUCK that, I’m awesome”… There’s the worry. Will I swing too far to an extreme, either like my father or mother? How do you raise a family with no history? Certainly the stories about why we don’t visit Gram and Grampa, and why Mom doesn’t call Grampa Dad, aren’t appropriate for little kids.

When will I get past the stigma of being a kid who isn’t grateful for having a parent who loves her so much it drives her to do crazy things?

 

Never, I fear. Luckily, I’ve grown into the kind of adult who mostly doesn’t care what you think. I wish more people understood that neglecting a kid’s needs comes in so many more forms than just calling them stupid or locking them in a crate, but I’ve got my own life as validation.

 

Let’s hope this is a bit of education. Let’s also hope that those of you who’ve been hurt by a parent under the guise of them “loving too much” have the courage to recognise it and do what’s healthy for you.

 

Happy Mother’s Day

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The Old House

I found myself nearly paralyzed in Target the other day, doubled over my cart in pain and wanting to crawl under a shelf. No, it wasn’t the hands. It’s this stupid heartbroken grief that keeps rearing its ugly head.

 

Browsing hampers and shower liners for a new house, I was instantly more than two thousand miles away looking for hampers and hangers for a completely different house – one with a future. I stumbled upon the jewelry box the Ninja gave me for my birthday and had to stop for a few minutes, not quite believing it was the exact same one I so carefully packed and padded for the drive back across the desert. Returning a shower caddy to the clearance shelf because I have a nearly-new shower caddy (also a gift from the Ninja) hurt more than any of the post-surgery falls I’ve had. Sure, it’s good for the brand that the stores are the same nationwide. Don’t they know it’s bad for my sanity?

 

As I said as I was leaving, when you spend two and a half years with someone, living every day so intensely together, it’s not as if you can simply flip a switch and turn everything off. Never mind all the anger, sadness, and frustration at the end there’s still the foundation of love and affection with which we started. After investing so much into a relationship, when it’s over is like having a leg amputated but then still looking to see if your shoe’s untied.

 

This too shall pass, and if anyone knows that nothing lasts forever it’s me. The grief is nearly gone. There is no fear of moving forward, no regret. The scabs have worn down and soon the scars will regain feeling.  Yet, until then, I suppose I won’t be shopping for housewares.

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18 Things Women Shouldn’t Have To Justify

3000000% yes.

Thought Catalog

1. Putting themselves first. When Barbara Walters asked Michelle Obama if it were selfish that she openly makes herself her first priority she responded: “No, no, it’s practical…. a lot of times we just slip pretty low on our own priority list because we’re so busy caring for everyone else. And one of the things that I want to model for my girls is investing in themselves as much as they invest in others.”

2. How little or much they’re eating, especially if it’s “unhealthy.” You can eat a big lunch without having to say “I haven’t eaten anything all day” or have some delicious ass nachos without saying “I totally deserve this, I was so good this week, I’ll start the diet again tomorrow.” More importantly, you shouldn’t have to always be interrogated with “that’s all you’re having?” or “you’re going to eat all that?!”

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Looking Back – National Day of Silence 2007

During my college years I kept a blog and I found posts from that blog on my Facebook profile this morning. Reading through them I realized I used to do so much more critical thinking – it’s spurred me to do more writing here.

Below is the gem I found in the midst of Art History papers and commentary of articles I’d read online. I used to participate in a lot of the GLBT events on our campus and it’s an aspect of my life I sorely miss in Las Vegas. Despite being 6 years old I still feel the same way about being queer.

 

Today is the National Day of Silence. Visit the website to find out about it, if you didn’t know already.

I’ve been thinking today. I’ve been doing a very good job of staying silent. I talked to my ArtH TA this morning (I forgot, and it was about registration issues) and then participated in class (another oops, but I can defend it since I was commenting on satirical bodily violence and the sacralisation and de-sacralisation of the criminal body). Other than that, I called work to see if they needed me for my call-in shift today. Thankfully, they don’t.

I sent out an email to some friends and relatives, and texted my parents and a few friends to remind them of the event (because I forgot to yesterday) and I urged them to spend at least a little bit of today in voluntary silence out of remembrance of the victims of hate crimes. This year is going much better than last year.

I showed my info card to my Latin and Phonetics instructors today. Most of those classes are participation, so I felt kind of stupid not talking for the whole class period, but their responses were pretty darn cool. I showed Sean my card when he handed out our quizzes, and after he read the card, he said something along the lines of  “I can dig that.” The look on his face was much better than that, though, like he respected me for my decision. He looks around at us to choose who gets to participate, and after a while, I felt like I kind of wasn’t there, even though he certainly wasn’t ignoring me. Doni and Liz asked to see the card that I showed Sean and they thought the protest was pretty cool. It was frustrating in class, though, because I had questions about my translations (but couldn’t ask them), and I had clarifications to make about things, but I couldn’t make them. Phonetics was pretty cool, even though the point of that class is to speak French. I showed Treece my card and he smiled and gave it back to me. I liked the fact that I was pretty much ignored in that class. It wasn’t a malicious act on Treece’s part. We were reading the play, and the class settled into the rhythm of reciting without me, and I felt like it really mirrored the point of our protest. The girl who sits next to me was confused, so I showed her my card, and she smiled and tried to make class go seamlessly.

The best way I can think of to make this protest mean something is to go out and inflict my silence upon society. I don’t have money to go out to eat, but if I did, I would be out doing things, making people help me, but without being able to speak to them. Ordering food. Maybe going on a silent bike ride with some friends. Go to the mall or take the bus. Something. I know I’ll find something to do.

I was thinking on my way home about how my silence is read, and how I am read in general. Just how queer am I? I was told once that I am “flamingly bisexual” – whatever that means. On occasion I do dress like a dyke, and I have my Spring Pride buttons from 2006 and 2007 on my backpack. I have my red AIDS ribbon. I have my little white “QUEER” button on my backpack, too. That’s about as far as I go to display myself. I have a rather masculine boyfriend, but somehow other queer folk and I manage to spot each other. Mostly everyone else is oblivious, unless I’m specifically declaring my lust for Reese Witherspoon, and I think it’s important for me to participate in this day in order to affirm that I am queer, and what’s important is that there is so much more to me as a person than my queer-ness, which is what makes discrimination and harrassment so stupid and wrong. We all have something in common, and picking on someone for something as stupid as who they fuck is just bogus. I am such a diverse, independent, and capable individual that my sexuality is merely one of the many brilliant elements of my identity. I think it’s great participating today, and people finally realizing that I’m at least allied with the community, if they wouldn’t have suspected it. There’s no better eye-opener.

So much more of my identity is based on things other than my gender and my sexual preferences, though, that I feel uncomfortable doing many other activist things. I’m more than willing to volunteer for things like MBLGTACC and be on panels because there’s work that needs to be done and I believe in the cause, but there are more important things for me to put my energy into. (Sleeping, doing homework, working to pay bills) The queer world is not my life, so I leave it to those who are more invested in it than I am, and I am way more than happy to lend a helping hand. I think this is why I embrace NDOS so much more than any other queer event in the year.

I like to think that NDOS gets to the heart of the queer crisis in the US. NCOW is important to some people, but it only makes sense that once we eliminate hate crimes and discrimination, NCOW will cease to be so necessary. We should not be discriminating based on gender or sexual identity, regardless, and we need to realize that people are comprised of so much more than their genitalia (and their uses/practices). I am so much more than just a vagina that likes to interact with other penises and vaginas (among other things). I believe that my value and merit are based on the quality of my character and my actions, rather than anything else. Not my hair color, not my height, not my gender, not the language I speak, not my sexual preferences, and not the car I drive, among other things. 

This is highlighted by the story I often relate from when I lived in Virginia. Everyone my grandparents introduced me to thought I was just the nicest, sweetest, brightest girl they’d met. Then at Sunday School (Bible Study?) my grandfather made a remark about gays not being fit to hold positions of power within the church. Long story short, I almost came out right then and there. I didn’t, but while I was talking about our lesson that day on the New Covenant and how God is the only being capable of judgment and humans are supposed to merely forgive and let God handle things, everyone was commenting on how bright and righteous I was. My ass.

I am enjoying being silent in my own little way. As a person who identifies as queer specifically (more than bisexual, since I think the gender implications are heinous), today I feel like I am making a difference. Maybe I’m not doing any more than making some people wonder, or think “hey, I didn’t know,” but that’s enough for me. Me being queer doesn’t change anything else about me. It doesn’t change my ability to write papers, or sell stuffed animals, or ride my bike. Maybe it helps make me a little more human and a little more humble (don’t get mad! it’s possible for straight people too! Being an ally, or in any other way not being anti-GLBTQIAWHATEVER counts!) when dealing with other people who are different from me. We’re all different, but we’re not so different.

Now I go continue my silence.

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Regret Check Time!

I’ve been sick lately (the doctor says sinus infection, I say it’s septic) and while I was contemplating the consequences of sepsis I was wondering if I have any regrets in life.

Happily, there isn’t anything major I’m sad I haven’t accomplished. There also aren’t any dumb decisions I wish I haven’t made. Sure, there are plenty of dumb decisions in my life – but if it came down to dying tomorrow there aren’t any that make me feel my life was worthless.

I don’t regret distancing myself from my family. I don’t regret moving to Vegas, taking time off of work, or not going to more Packer games. I think more than anything in life I’ve gravitated towards what I find fulfilling.

image

Regardless, I still think this sinus infection will be the death of me. The application process for adopting Pete starts now.

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The Glorious Gridiron – My Ode to Football

If you follow my Twitter account it’s no surprise to you that football is my favorite sport. I like sports in general (both playing and watching) and I could also write about curling, pro wrestling, or rugby. I couldn’t write about any sport as easily or with as much passion as football, though.

This entire post is not just about the privilege of being a Green Bay Packers fan, either. Another day I’ll expound on our felicitous fraternity – not the day after we lose in the divisional playoffs.

What is so great about football?  It’s a bunch of overpaid meatheads beating each other up over a ball for 60 minutes.

Yes,  that’s partly true. I like football for the physicality – I love watching our defense sack the opposing quarterback. I also love interceptions, especially by guys like BJ Raji (Nose Tackle the size of a Mack truck) and Charles Woodson (our relatively old chief ninja). I love watching running backs break tackles and our fullback plowing through a cluster of defenders for precious yardage. Being able to accomplish these feats is a testament to strength, conditioning, talent, and practice.

Football is not a braindead sport, either. Some coaches and players can’t tell their foot from a hole in the ground and some coaches over-complicate the sport. Football boils down to knowing your own team’s best option and being able to read your opponent. I’m no genius and I’ll never be Madden but my limited knowledge always asks “what’s our best possible play?”, “where are we weak?”, “what will the other team expect?”, “how do we get past them?”

Football is not rocket science and it never will be.  However, great players and coaches are always studying and learning.

I also love football for the fans. As a Packers fan I have a slightly different standard of fandom. You don’t have to be born into your legacy but you must support it with your whole heart. Fans don’t cheer injuries or attack players (especially Twitter) for having a bad play or a bad game.

Fans cheer achievements, even when it’s the opponent. When Adrian Peterson racked up 199 yards against us to launch the Vikings (a team I loathe) into the playoffs I still recognized what an accomplishment he had this year, rushing over 2,000 yards. Fans stick by their teams even when they can’t win for losing. Fans get dressed up and cheer game after game, year after year, loss after loss.

Sure, other sports are cerebral and physical,  but you can’t find a better experience than watching 106 guys find a way to outsmart and outmaneuver each other over a scrap of leather in the cold. No guts, no heart, no glory.

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This Ain’t No Winter!

It turns out that when the heat in the house goes out in the dead of winter I just think I have a cold. No joke – I’d put on my hockey sweatpants, a sweater, and a beanie and then thought to check the thermostat to see just how sick I was feeling.

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

Despite the thermostat being set to 72, the inside temperature was 64. We’ve flipped all the breakers, re-set all of the GFIs in the house and pressed all of the buttons on the thermostat to absolutely no avail. It’s a crisp 58 degrees in the living room but now it doesn’t feel so bad.

 

Whenever I get cold in Nevada I stop and think about how cold it actually has been – those winters spent in 4-foot snowdrifts in the Wisconsin River Valley or with the bitter wind coming off the Great Plains in Minnesota.  When I was a kid in Wisconsin we had an older house with terrible insulation so most of the winter was spent with an electric blanket and bundled up. Showering and washing my hair was a nightmare but I got through it eventually. When I was in college I went without much heat (if any at all) over two winter breaks thanks to crappy building construction.  This is practically summer weather compared to spending 10 hours a day outside in November and December deer hunting!

tea

 

I won’t lie, the cold can be brutal out here in the desert. Thanks to growing up in the frozen north, though, the heat going out in January is more or less a walk in the park. Bring on the sweater and hot tea!

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At Home With A Cripple

I had surgery on my arm just over a month ago, I went to Texas for the initial 4 weeks of recovery. I’m back home in Vegas now and life is pretty different.

I can’t shower or wash my own hair. We have a stand-alone shower, so my limited movement and lack of space make showers a painful nightmare. The girl cookie’s bathroom is a landfill so I can’t shower in her full bathtub shower.

Eating is interesting. I can’t lift things or use the microwave, or open many boxes or containers. I have to ask for help, carrying my plate or making sure food is in a place and container I can get to it.

Recovery was going well in Texas. The night I got home I busted something in the incision in my elbow. Back to work, a lot of my energy and strength gets uded up with emails and spreadsheets. By the middle of the day I’m worn out and in pain.

I’m writing this morning because I’m hungry. I haven’t had a shower since Monday or Tuesday. I hurt like hell. The kicker is there isn’t much I can do about it. There isn’t food where I can get to it, bathing gets forgotten, my doctor’s office is slow and I can’t get in until next week.

This post is all me-me-me, but it’s fair warning. I’m starving, I’m dirty, I’m just plain fed up. I can’t take anymore of this.

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Addendum to Today’s Confusion

Earlier today I posted my thoughts on how/why I’m not married yet. I guess I wasn’t clear enough that I was thinking about the journey I’ve taken to get to the last few years, about how I feel about myself and the choices I’ve made. Currently I have a pretty awesome life and I’m looking forward to the coming years.

 

Again, let me say that there are some wonderful people in my life. I’m thankful to have a ninja at home and others who care about me –  I don’t mean that I don’t value you in my life. I’d also like to clarify that I’m not saying I hate marriage, I don’t believe in it, I don’t ever want to do it. My point was more that it hasn’t happened yet for a reason.  As it stands when I think about how/why it hasn’t happened yet I wonder if there aren’t things about myself I need to get in order before I start taking settling down seriously.

 

While I appreciate all of you reading and thinking about my blog, please don’t internalize too much of it. Sometimes I mean these posts as expositions about small (but sometimes significant) parts of me and they’re not the main point of a larger story. I don’t ever mean to hurt someone by posting a blog.

 

Have a good night.

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