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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Too Much Time on My Hands

If you’re not singing and dancing along you’re not allowed to come to Karaoke Team try-outs.

Yes, Karaoke Team is a real thing.

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It must be quite obvious that I’ve got far too much time on my hands these days. As much frustration as the bank and house can take, it’s more of a waiting game than anything. Did my paperwork go in? Has the mail come yet? Blah blah blah. Work takes up many of my waking hours, sure, but there are still enough left over where I find myself spending FAR too much time on the internets. Back before the days of smartphones my internet mischief involved mostly RPGs and webcomics. Now that I’m toting around a computer in my pocket it’s gotten far worse. Whether it’s SnapChat, Twitter, or StumbleUpon I spend the day obsessing over a tiny screen THAT IS DIRECTLY CONNECTED TO PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE.

This has to stop.

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I happened to catch up with my friend Dr J yesterday, and he mentioned that there’s a contingent of us old middle school friends in the area. Suddenly, I’ve been drafted into Tango Lessons and salsa/tango nights, board games, and running (teaching) D&D sessions up in Madison. I’d already been pondering the Rotary Club here in Rock County, along with a gardening club and joining the local LCMS church, so now I have a long list of activities to consider.

Could it be that the Pirate is no longer haunting the interwebs and has an honest-to-goodness real life? One that doesn’t involve airports and spreadsheets?!

 

Is this the end?

Is this the end?

 

Hopefully soon I will be able to report on the success of our new Karaoke Team, or maybe have some fun stories about a ragtag bunch of level 4 mercenaries stumbling onto the Three Billy Goats Gruff. I’ll try to stay away from the theology, but yesterday we already started diving into Abelard’s Ethic of Pure Intent, mysticism, and why forbidding activities like board games and certain books is ridiculous. You’ve been warned.

 

If you’re in the Madison/Janesville area and fancy yourself any of the following, the recruitment campaign starts soon:

  • singer of moderate or questionable talent
  • dancer of no slight enthusiasm
  • Minion Master, Mook, Eclipse Caste, Brawler, or really any class other than Psion. Seriously, we’ll even take Abyssals.
  • possessor of one or more thumbs that may or may not be green
  • interested in Belgian food and/or beer

Ahem.

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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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The Prodigal Cheesehead

Alternate title: American Woman

 

Often, people will say that the point of travelling is to learn how similar the world is – from Bangalore to Berlin to Bumblefuck, Wisconsin. It’s true, people all over the world typically have the same desires and struggles, and getting outside of one’s own backyard is essential to really accepting and understanding the world in which we live. However, past a certain point of globetrotting I came to a profound appreciation of America’s differences and even developed a preference for my own backyard.

 

This was never the case in my early youth. As long as I can remember, I dreamed of Spain where my grandparents had lived. I dreamed of the Philippines and the jungle, of Korea, of Turkey – the places my family had lived in the military. My grandmother collected souvenir spoons and I would marvel at the display, asking her if she really had visited every state stamped or painted onto the spoon. It was impossible to believe that one person could see so many places but still be my grandma from Chicago! This became my dream.

 

Early on I learned foreign languages. As childhood grew into the painful teenage years and young adulthood, I saw these languages as my ticket to another world. I always imagined life would be fundamentally different somewhere else, even if it wasn’t necessarily better. I would learn to drink coffee and eat strange French food, my love of romantic and medieval literature a buoy in the cultural tempest. I could travel to South America, my missionary’s accent overshadowed by my ability to adapt to new vocabularies and syntax. Gone would be the anguish of not having a family, since I would be thousands of miles away instead of in the same time zone, same state, even the same house. Always, I dreamed.

 

So I traveled. Cross country trips in the US are like visiting a foreign country – sometimes you find you can barely understand locals in Appalachia. It’s not the same as the Deep South, it’s not the same as anywhere. Even Minnesota and Illinois can be starkly different from central Wisconsin. As I made my first forays to France and Canada I reveled in the contrast to home. Being able to thrive (not just survive) in a language other than my mother tongue was thrilling! We discussed literature – from my favorite medieval topics to the great American writers of the 20th century. We all had something in common, even the Hungarian girl whose boyfriend had to translate for her. It felt wild.

 

I fell into the job I have now and travel came. I can be sent abroad for weeks at a time, traipsing through enough European countries to give my bank a heart attack. I love breakfast in Milan, Germany, Portugal; my favorite Thai food is in Sweden. People watching is the best in Amsterdam and Portugal because they’ve got such stunning population diversity. Despite these unique cultural differences the people I worked with all wanted the same things – time off to travel and healthy families; they all had the same hobbies like sports, fashion, reading, and photography; they all voiced the same frustrations with their government about corruption, the economy, fears of pollution and under-funding of public services. Sure, America is very different from Europe when we talk about social policy, but people everywhere want the same basic things.

 

Maybe it’s no surprise the epiphany came when I landed in JFK after spending two weeks in 5 different countries. I found myself ecstatic to land in a place where I had the right currency, inherently understood the local customs, and spoke the language with native fluency and had no worries about my idiomatic proficiency. Normally language barriers don’t phase me – even in Germany I spoke enough to get by in the shops and could understand printed directions well enough. I’ve been speaking French and Spanish since I was a young girl so it’s no sweat to spend my day “getting by”. Even in Lisbon I started to learn the language and now do fine in Portuguese. I get reimbursed for currency exchange fees and EVERYONE takes Visa. I have no fear about potentially embarrassing myself and learning new customs, so what’s the deal?

 

Sometimes it’s all just too much. I have no problem being sent abroad for weeks or months and adapting to new cultures, but all told I really appreciate being home. Charles Darwin said it’s not the most intelligent creatures that survive, but the ones most able to adapt, and I truly have taken that to heart. Even though the work is useful and necessary, it still takes a toll. I like instinctively knowing how to drive, order food, and talk to other people when I’m home in the US. I like knowing what’s popular and relevant, and I like having an idea of what the people around me are experiencing. I’ve been far too empathetic since I was a kid, and either I would be uncomfortable when others were or I would be yearning to learn new ways of living and experiencing the world. Maybe it’s a great thing when you’re a kid, since it drove me to learn and experience new things with little fear and a great deal of excitement. Now, I think I might not have the energy for it anymore.

 

So, yes, the world is a wonderful place full of new experiences and people who often share the same hopes and fears that we do. Get out and experience something different for a while – let it change you and broaden your perspective. Let me know if you don’t grow tired of it after some time and yearn to be home despite all the delicious breakfasts, cool clothes, and fun times you can have in these exotic places.

Categories: getting old, reflection, travel, Workaholic | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Contentment and Satisfaction – Strange Bedfellows Indeed

So not to lose you in the bog surrounding today’s philosophical journey, forgive me jumping straight to the point of my thoughts and not leading you in by the hand with a friendly introduction. It seems a central theme in my life is risk-taking and satisfaction, and now that I’m actually an adult I’m wondering if I forgot where contentment fits in all this mess. I believe that tolerance and contentment are related, whereas contentment and satisfaction are strange bedfellows that have no business breeding.

What??

 

Life has been in a bit of upheaval in the last month or so. I’ve left the desert for the homeland of the Midwest and am now embarking on buying a house. After a whirlwind move I’ve had the opportunity to be catching up with several friends, a few of whom are the long-lost sort. Despite these friends being far-flung and of different personalities our conversations echo the same theme.

 

The most startling comment I’ve heard was from a friend I hadn’t really talked to since well before the snowboarding accident. We had been catching up on life and after summarising my recent move and the events of buying a house he said something about my personality that stopped me in my tracks. I can’t remember exactly how it was said, but the gist is that I’m fiercely independent and that the wild girl who wanted to set the world on fire he’d first met 10 years ago still hasn’t died out. Sure, I might also be described as brave and tenacious, and being independent isn’t really a bad thing, but this made me take a step back and think.

 

I’ve made a career out of taking calculated risks and I’ve had some wonderful life experiences by setting out for myself to accomplish things. Not all of them have been as hare-brained as the others, but I guess there is truth about me wanting to set the world on fire. Passionate has always been a word I’ve used to describe myself.

 

So in the course of jumping through hoops to buy this house I’ve got my eye on, I was speaking with another old friend who went through the same process last year – except with fewer hoops. He was suggesting finding a new realtor to do all the heavy lifting for me, lamenting that he couldn’t just wave a wand and make all the complicated pieces fit in place. Without thinking I replied that I’m in this mess because I trusted other people to take care of things for me in the first place, and if you want something done right you’re better off doing it yourself. These were reflexive comments made without forethought, so when I actually looked at what I’d written the conversations of the last few weeks about the fiery independent streak that’s still burning in my blood flooded back and hit me like a wave of bricks.

SMUSH

One of my besties makes an off-the-cuff comment lamenting the difficulties of buying a house and I immediately go to my “fuck everyone else”, “put the team on your back” place? What the hell is wrong with this?

 

Nothing is wrong with me, per se, but thinking of all the events in life that have led me to this solid steel wall of GOTTA DO IT MYSELF I’m  beginning to realise that I’ve never learned to be content.  I’m unable to tolerate myself when I’m not striving for my best, to make a reasonable dream happen. What I have learned is that the disappointment of a failed risk is infinitely better than the disappointment of the current situation, no matter how temporary it may be. If I had many regrets then maybe I would have thought of this earlier. Instead, I’ve learned to take failure as a learning opportunity, an opportunity to better insulate myself, and a badge of honour on my Girl Scout sash.

 

Life is all about those achievement badges.

 

Where my independence is concerned, I can’t say that I regret any of the decisions I’ve made in the last decade or so. I’m going to be able to look back on my life and be satisfied that I didn’t let any opportunities pass me by, and also that I didn’t give up on anything too soon. I can also say that I know how to find contentment in other areas of my life. Parts of my body are built in awkward ways and I fully embrace it. When I was younger I dreamed of being a billionaire, a world-renowned theoretical mathematician, an acclaimed scholar, and I’m perfectly content with letting those dreams go. However, when it comes to certain issues like financial planning and cleanliness I completely lose my cool and am completely unable to be content with any differences from what I believe is right and responsible. I seriously find it impossible to tolerate any standards that are less stringent than my own. Not that my standards are impossible, they’re just particular.

 

Tolerance and contentment go hand in hand and I think they’re unrelated to satisfaction and risk. Risk leads to satisfaction, whether you succeed right away or if you fail and have to keep trying. Learning to be tolerant of differences, both between ourselves and others and between our ideals and reality is what allows us to be content in life. I never learned to relax my expectations and tolerate anything less than doing one’s absolute best. Giving 80% or 5% is the same when you know the actual capacity is 100%, at least in this twisted little head of mine. It’s not something I’m sure I want to learn to tolerate in myself, but it’s something I MUST learn to tolerate in others if I ever have any hope of dampening this wild, fiery blood of mine.

Categories: character flaws, getting old, pet peeves, reflection | Leave a comment

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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My Smartass 15 Year Old Self Wasn’t That Far Off…

Teenagers say crazy things and make terrible decisions, don’t they? With unrealistic expectations of the world and themselves, many are lucky to make it into adulthood with any sense of direction or purpose. I was especially naïve, sheltered from the world and unaware of my own capabilities. Luckily that lack of perspective led me to a pretty wild dream that’s kind of transforming my life as I realize it.

Daydreaming with fellow smartass coworkers one afternoon at the local burger joint, I boasted that I’d speak 7 languages as an adult and be a superstar international businesswoman. French, Spanish, Arabic, Russian, German, Chinese, and Portuguese, if you’re curious. Now I’ve always had a knack for languages, but I had no idea it was possible to travel and speak French for a living since my career didn’t even exist in the early days of the internet. There were plenty of things I loved growing up, but as much as I loved math, biology, and the dozen instruments I played in band I couldn’t see myself pursuing any of those as a career. So, I studied French in college and focused on finding a job that would pay the bills until I figured out how to follow my passion of speaking French.

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Fast forward to the present. No, I’m not a mogul, but I work for a European travel company and get to go spend time with our teams in a dozen countries. Fluent in French, I also get by with Spanish and spend more time with Portuguese, German, and Norwegian than I ever imagined. When I went to Italy I was able to read/understand about 80% of the signs, and since we work with the 3 major Nordic countries I’m often sifting through Swedish and Danish right alongside Norwegian. It’s only too bad the Latin I studied in college doesn’t get much opportunity to be used.

That afternoon in 1999 I picked Portuguese on a whim, trying to impress and out-do my friends. This was years before the birth and explosion of Orkut where we realized how many Brazilians there are online! I had no idea I’d spend 3 months living in Portugal.

Faro, Portugal

Faro, Portugal

I tried Arabic in college during Linguistics courses and frankly it’s totally lost on me. I traded French lessons for Russian lessons in college, but the learning was so slow going that my tutor and I gave up. Chinese never happened. It turns out that French has done more for me than I’d ever imagined, and being able to add German and Portuguese to my arsenal have opened more doors than I knew existed. Russian would also be helpful, but if I’m honest I just don’t have the time. For now.

I’ve always said that being able to speak Spanish is what kept me employed throughout school, but being fluent in French is what unlocked my current career path and has been a springboard to my professional success and happiness. Spanish never really grew on me, but relying on it for work is probably what kept that forgotten fire burning. Every time I remember my parents telling me not to study French in school because nobody speaks it, I look at my annual review and the stamps in my passport.

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What other dreams did we have as teens and young adults that could also unlock our passions and drive us to happiness?

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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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Bittersweet isn’t so bad when it comes from your mp3 player

Stumbling on memories of old friends unexpectedly is often like cleaning out the fridge – usually they’ve spoiled and all you can do is wish you’d finished the meal before it went bad. Every now and then though you find some penicillin. I found mine this morning.

I was putting together music suitable for picking up my boss from the airport tomorrow and ended up listening to Counting Crows. During the Spring of 2003 I drove to Ohio to take an old friend’s extra ticket to see Counting Crows because his girlfriend dumped him. That friendship and the ones I formed after that trip are usually what come to mind, every bitter and sweet part of learning to take charge of adulthood.

Later that Spring though Counting Crows came to Stevens Point and I went to the concert with my boyfriend and his best friend. It wasn’t the shitty boyfriend I thought of but his friend (whom I’ll call Rat) and probably one of the most tender and honest times I’ve ever had with someone.

Rat and I became very close after a domestic incident with the loser bf and unexpectedly he became a buoy in the stormy sea I’d capsized into. Slowly we got to know each other, we talked about our lives, we had our own little nerd haven of anime, D&D, Lord of the Rings, Counting Crows. There are two distinct moments I remember and together they are the most perfect example of bittersweet in my life.

The sweet moment was a kiss under a tree during a midnight trek through Scmeekle Park looking for zombies. It was the brief perfect culmination of the early part of courtship. I won’t say that no other kiss ever compared to it, but it was a first and it was perfect.

The bitter came to a head nearly a year later when I realized I had to give that up. Rat had spent a semester abroad and I’d gone to Minnesota for school and he came to visit me when he got back just before finals. I let him stay in my tiny studio apartment and he drove me home for winter break. I wanted to try and build on the connection we’d had that summer but Rat (gently) made it clear that although he enjoyed my company there was no hope for a relationship. I haven’t thought about it in ages but this morning I caught a whiff of the pungent minute when I told Rat “I like you too much to pretend that I don’t.” He was shirtless, stretched out on my floor and I was immune to his charms but somehow this perfect little burp came out and saved us both.

Such is the history of a woman who’s made a life out of following her passions. Part of that life MUST be knowing your limits so you can avoid getting in over your head. Sadly this heartbreak wasn’t a first and it wasn’t the last, but somehow it was fulfilling in the end.

There’s no need for any more surprises today, I think I’ll stick to a Maroon 5 CD tomorrow.

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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.

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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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