Feb. 3rd, 2015

Someone was telling me tonight about the death clock... a website where you plug in your vital stats and your general frame of mind and it tells you your death date. There's a bunch of them out there, I just picked one.

There are four basic states of mind on this one: optimistic, sadistic, normal, pessimistic. I have no idea what "sadistic" is supposed to be in this context, but if I plug in everything else and click on that, it tells me I've been dead since 2008.

And I think... if only. So many bad things have happened since 2008.

Good things, too. I can't ignore that. But many of the bad things are heavy, big bad things.

He said that after he plugged his stats in and got an answer, he freaked out a little bit, thought, "I'd better lose some weight," and then he put it with all his other thoughts of mortality... in the "back room."

It's funny, though. I have no real fear of death. I haven't for a very long time. You could say Death and I are good friends...we have tea together regularly. I can sit quietly and without fear with my own mortality. I fear living another 20 years like this far more than I fear death.

That was something J brought into my life. For the first time in a very long time, I thought about my mortality in a different way. I thought, "there's not enough time," because he is older than I. I looked forward to living, to having a life together. And that's gone now.

I know I am raw right now...this past weekend we spent time together for the last time. My grief and loss are fresh - rubbed raw, exposed to the air. I know, logically, that there is no way for me to see out of this tunnel right now. I know it's likely that I'll find light somewhere down the road.

I know he's not the only person in the world for me. I know it just feels that way right now.

I know I shouldn't let a relationship, and the ending of one, define me, destroy me.

I know he doesn't deserve me, and that I deserve better than what he gave me.

But right now, I cannot see out of the dark. I can't see any life, any future, where I won't always struggle just to survive, just to make it from one moment to the next. I can't see a future with someone with whom I can have an equal partnership. All I see is an endless life of being a burden to someone (my sister right now), of struggling to keep my brain from killing me (and for what?), of relationships with other broken people, of dead end jobs and never-ending loss. I can see, in an abstract way, that there will be joy and laughter and sunshine somewhere, too... but I can only see that. I can't feel it. I just have no hope right now.

It's terrible, because I've been dating someone for a few weeks now (after many months of talking and flirtation), and it's so very, very unfair to him. I've been completely open and honest with him about what's going on in my life and my head, but he still wanted to pursue whatever is there. I told him NOT to fall for me, and I don't know how the hell anyone could when I'm such a goddamn mess, but he didn't listen. And I just feel like such an asshole. I want to be giddy and full of NRE, and I'm so not. I'm not completely a wet blanket when I'm with him either...and I'll be honest, I'm not sure I would have made it through the last few weeks without this one little brightness in my life. It just feels so completely wrong to put him through this.

He has his own drama, and I've been supportive through that (it helps me to climb out of my own head). I just feel guilty that I'm so broken.

I think I need to go to bed. I haven't had a good night's sleep in almost a week. I know that's another factor. I just wish it were that easy...both to sleep and to settle my brain.

Jan. 18th, 2015

I realized that there are gaps in my explaining that make my relationship with J seem...problematic at best.

Why in the world would I ever get involved with another married man, let alone one whose life, belief systems, and goals differ so significantly from mine?

It's not easy to explain, even to myself (because I do not, at the bottom of me, believe in woo-woo metaphysical stuff). But he really, truly feels like a soul mate.

When I am with him, I am happy. Grounded. Connected. When I am away from him, I am not.

The things he wants from a relationship are the things I want. The lessons I have learned in the past, from the many relationships I have been in, are lessons that have applied to us.

We often find ourselves saying the exact same things at the exact same time, or finishing each others' sentences.

I spent three years keeping people at an arm's length, determined that I would never get married again, fairly sure that I would never live with anyone again (and didn't want to), and absolutely convinced that I would never be in a monogamous relationship again.

Until one day, I realized that all of those had gone away and that was exactly what I wanted. Not in general, but with him. Only with him.

When a love comes into your life that changes everything, what are you supposed to do with that? How do you keep from letting that derail you?

What is WRONG with me?!

I have a lot of reasons to ask that question.

!) Why can't I continue to write? Journal? Just do ANYTHING to get these things from my head and put them elsewhere, other than Twitter and occasionally Facebook?

2) Why can't I fall in love with a nice, liberal, single or poly boy who loves me back? Why must my love life always seem to be so complicated?

3) Why can't I let go of someone who is so clearly not ready to make the commitment to me that I need from him?

The last time I wrote about J, I was only halfway through a two month period he'd asked for to determine whether he was done with his marriage. Well, when that two-month period was up, he decided to stay... not necessarily because of his marriage, but because of everything else. Because he is 57 and is very, very invested in security. Because he has a life plan and to leave would derail that. So he told me one afternoon in the woods where we'd gone to hike that he was staying with her. Except he wasn't really staying with HER, but with his life.

To say that I was devastated is to engage in the most egregious sort of understatement. I hit as close to rock bottom as I have been. However, his determination to focus on his marriage lasted, what? Two days, three? He just couldn't let go of me. And I couldn't let go of him.

This back and forth and hither and yon has gone on since then. In December, he asked me to wait until after the holidays, and said that he would make something happen in January. On New Year's Day, after a truly horrendous two weeks of depression and loneliness, I wrote him an email and told him I just couldn't wait any longer... that I needed to let him go. He responded and said he understood. I saw him the next day, and he just broke down. "I don't want to live without you," he said. "I can't do this anymore, Sugar," I said. "I can't wait."

That started two plus weeks during which he was completely focused on me, on leaving, on finding a place to live here, on creating a new life plan. I didn't let myself hope all the way, which is fortunate, because this past Wednesday he changed his mind again. He's just too scared, for too many reasons. He tried to tell me it was because she was trying to change, but he'd just told me the night before that every time he thinks about spending the rest of his life with her, he thinks about how she cannot give him the things he needs... that she's not willing to. So I shot that excuse down immediately. I was probably a little bit cruel that night. I yelled at him. I told him she doesn't love him, she CAN'T, because she doesn't know him at all. He's never been honest with her about who he is. I told him his life will be empty without me, and I will just be one in a long line of regrets he has in his life. To his credit, he was truly miserable. He said he knows there is something wrong with him that he can't make a decision and stick to it. He said he understands I'm done. He admitted, when I asked, that when he's with her he often wishes he were with me... but the reverse has never been true.

I have spent the days since then in abject misery. I haven't been sleeping well. I have no appetite. And I have a new job, so that's been a challenge. (I'm working at a major bank's home mortgage division, basically doing data entry on home loans... it's not a major challenge, but it's a decent job and I'm not working until ungodly hours anymore.)

I don't understand myself. I don't understand why I want this 57-year-old capitalist Republican conservative who's so afraid to live or to take a risk that he walks away from the only good chance at happiness he's ever known. He walks away from a relationship that incorporates deep love, affection, touch, understanding, a soulmate-level connection, laughter, communication, *redacted*, shared interests...and goes back to a marriage that incorporates almost none of this. But I still love him, and I still want him.

I need to stop. I need to really, fully embrace the belief (which I have) that I deserve someone who is completely committed to our relationship, and to me.

And on that note, the next item on my list of "what's wrong with me" is...

I have at least five men who would drop everything to be in a committed relationship with me right now. Like, I know that if I said the word to any of them I would have a place to live and a committed significant other within the week. Added to which, literally the DAY AFTER he broke up with me, I got 7 messages from people on a social media/dating site I visit about once every four months. Seven. I don't even know what to do with that. Added to THAT, I have gotten messages in the past five days from three people I once had a romantic interest in...with whom I haven't spoken in 2-7 years.

My point is... I don't have to be single and alone if I don't want to. But I don't have being partnered as my ultimate goal. I just want him. And it is MADDENING to me that my brain is so stubbornly holding on to someone who doesn't deserve me.

Tonight, one of those five men told me how meeting me had changed his life completely (mind you, we met when he changed my tire on the side of the interstate, and he came to visit once for a weekend after that). Another told me, "I think I'm falling in love with you." A third asked me to move back to Des Moines.

I just want to run away.

Instead, I write. And I will go to sleep for a couple of hours, then spend most of the rest of the night tossing and turning. Tomorrow I will go to the burned-out shell of the house (which burned right before Thanksgiving) to help finish inventory for the insurance company.

When I am going into a depressive state, my body just wants to go into hibernation. I get immediately exhausted. It's like I should just drop instantaneously into sleep without consideration of where I am or what I'm doing.

I hit a depressive state just now. I need to go PASS OUT now.
This still holds true.

I'm a charismatic catalyst: I have a pronounced and well-documented tendency to wander past other people's mental and emotional barriers and successfully encourage them to share what's in their hearts and heads with me, themselves, and others. Sometimes this leads to processes of self-exploration or change that are disruptive or frightening to the people involved or those around them. Although in this, as in everything,... I do what I can to minimize the effects that I perceive as negative and emphasize the ones that I see as positive, other people may disagree with my priorities and definitions of... "positive", and "negative", with messy results. If you invite me into your life, your life will very likely change, perhaps in ways you don't want, need, or expect. I have no intent to harm or damage anyone or any situation, but we all know what road that paves. Proceed at your own risk.


Because of a happy accident (I took the wrong exit and ended up going north instead of south, for almost an hour before I noticed), I ended up near Bloomington today. There is a place outside of Bloomington that holds magic for me: Funk's Grove. The trails at the Sugar Grove Nature Center, in particular.

There is also a cemetery. Any of you who have been around for long may remember the pivotal role of the cemetery behind my childhood home; I spent many, many hours there. I still go back whenever I'm in the area, not because Mom is buried there (though she is) but because it was a happy place for me. Cemeteries in general, at least the old ones, are happy places for me, places of exploration and wonder and peace.

And so, because I was feeling adrift (I spent time with J yesterday and today, which is always wonderful but does leave me feeling that), I went looking for that peace and wonder.

And found it in front of the headstone of one Julia R.S. Treviño. She was born in Matahuala, Mexico, in 1901. She died in Bloomington, IL in 1976. When J and I walked through the cemetery one day, I told him about Vera (the baby whose grave I used to tend in my cemetery), and I remarked that I felt bad for Julia because she died so far from home. But on closer inspection...

She's buried between her daughter and one of her grandsons. Her daughter's name was Marucha Treviño Hartley. The last word on Marucha's gravestone made me cry. "Querida." "beloved." Marucha, just from her headstone, was obviously a remarkable woman... which leads me to believe her mother likely was, too. So I don't feel bad for Julia anymore. I'm just curious, and a little in awe of the bravery she must have had to come so very far. Judging by Marucha's birthplace and date, it must have been after the 1930s...I wonder how much after? I'll have to add that to my growing list of things to research.

So I sat at the foot of Julia's stone and I wrote. I wrote about my feelings about my situation with J. I wrote about feeling myself pulling back, which is healthy...but I don't want to. I wrote about finally feeling guilty, on reading headstones. I wrote about Julia and Marucha, and then I decided it was time.

I started writing my book.

My autobiography? Is that such hubris that the gods will strike me down?

Whatever it ends up being, my book.

Meredith said to start at the beginning. The trouble with that is, I have too many questions about my beginning. Perhaps this time, I'll be able to find real answers. So I started a little past the beginning, with a realization that I'm sure will only be the first of many.

I just need to keep writing. Keep journaling. Keep thinking and feeling and then taking things out of my head and putting them to paper (virtual or otherwise). I have journals all over... paper ones (the beautiful Italian leather one that Bruce gave me years ago being my chief physical journal right now), virtual ones. Writing is going to save me, if anything can or will.

The two months are half done. So perhaps one part of my limbo will be resolved in four more weeks...

So very tired, and I have to open tomorrow. So off to sleep I go.

Bone (writing)

Blood and flesh, two people
Fingers... fingertips stroking velvet and muscle and sinew and feeling them move beneath the skin
Sinking into the feeling of one, of sacrificial pools of swirling blue and green
Turbulence I feel and see and taste, a deep ripe plum purple around the edges
The feeling that I cannot get close enough, cannot hold tight enough because my fingers will sink into you because I have sunk into you
And through the velvet and muscle and sinew I feel move beneath the skin
Is bone
Bone we are at our core, at our swirling depths with all extraneous stripped away
Wind blowing through skin to my heart to scour away from my brain all but my essence
The essence is bone
The hard round memory of who I am and who I will be and who I once was when I am gone and
I am nothing and everything and surrounded by you and surrounding
Until you are the core of me the core of you and the world goes fuzzy around the edges and blurs into nothing and everything and


title mangled from a song Tim sent me lo these many moons ago.

It's nearly 6am, I have had five bottles of beer since 2am, and all I can think about is two things:

1) the many, many nights when Tim and I would drink on camera together, because "it's not alcoholism if you don't drink alone!"

2) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I got off work at 1:30, which is an unheard of early time for me, and directly a result of me praising a Black woman's closing technique to my manager (who was closing last night). He felt threatened, so he set out to beat the bar (which she set so impossibly high). I came home. And I started drinking.

Now it's after 6, daylight is peeking my my window, and I'm working on my 6th beer. Because I fucking love insomnia.

I realized tonight... I have no idea how to find music online. Tim was my go-to person to find any song I wanted to hear, and in these two and a half years since he's been gone, I asked Mike once (with mixed success) to find a list of songs, and other than that, my music list has essentially remained unchanged since he died.

Tim died.

I still can't wrap my mind around that.

I still cry. I'm crying now.

We used to drink together on cam because, "if you don't drink alone, it's not alcoholism!" Which was a bullshit excuse, but we used to drink together on cam. And I miss that, despite its inevitable health impacts. Despite the many pounds and inches and all the rest. I just miss him. I know he would have made my life a living hell in many ways, but FUCK YOU GOD he was my best friend and I want him back.

It's been almost 3 weeks since J asked for 2 months to figure out what he wanted. Some of those days have been okay. Some of them have been Return to Witch Depression Mountain. The latter have scared the living shit out of me. I do NOT want to go back there. Those days led me to the brink of telling him I couldn't see him anymore, that I was going back to Iowa. He asked me not to do that. I agreed.

I may need a lot bit more alcohol to get through the remainder of this time.

On the plus side, I have gotten the ball well and truly rolling to get on the rolls for state jobs. I've decided it's okay to take advantage of being Deaf in this instance, so I'm pushing to be put on the preferential hiring list due to disability.

(ugh. *drinks more beer*)

I don't hate my job, but I hate aspects of my job. Which I suppose is normal, but I really am too old to be getting home between 2-4am.

Buck came to visit last Monday and reminded me that I need to write a book about my life. He suggested a "based on a true story" format, because I told him I wasn't sure of the wisdom of writing a straight autobiography, and I sucked at fiction.

(I suck at fiction writing. I cannot hide or deny this.)

Okay. I'm shivering, which is a sure sign that my body is finally shutting the fuck up and shutting down.

Peace, all.

Alive, and just as random as ever

I'm still alive.

Most days, I count that as a win.

Mental Health:
I stopped taking Celexa a few months ago; my brain fog, exhaustion, and depression cleared up a LOT. I also upped my Vitamin D intake significantly; currently, I take 6000-10,000 iu per day, as well as a B-complex vitamin. Most days, my depression is at bay. Most days, the voices that tell me how worthless I am are a sibilant whisper or silent. My anxiety isn't as bad, either. My ADD continues to be a thorn in my side, and it's an ordeal to get the medication for that. I'm managing.

I still grieve for Tim every day. His death is the one death in my entire life that has truly hit me in ways that other people have talked about. I've been told that this isn't likely to fade significantly. The disabling grief has, at least. I've healed enough to function and (maybe) love again with my whole heart.

Love life:
I spent the last almost-three years mostly not wanting to fall in love again. A few times, I let someone in a little bit, usually to my detriment. I have had casual relationships, friends with benefits, long-term sweeties who are all also long-distance. My walls mostly remained intact, though.

Until this past spring/summer, when I met J and he somehow dismantled my walls without really trying. He has made me re-think so many things that I thought were non-negotiable, while never actually asking me to. There is, of course, a catch; it wouldn't be my love life if there weren't. Right now, we are on a...a hiatus, I suppose, as he evaluates his own life and world and decides which path he needs to take towards the rest of his life. I'm hoping it's a path that leads to me, but I'm trying to prepare for either eventuality. This has, of course, impacted my mental health...but not as much as I'd expected, which is absolutely not a statement on how much he means to me. It is, however, an indication that I'm maybe more mentally stable than I had dared to hope.

He has made me consider my mortality for perhaps the first time...in the sense that there may not be enough time, instead of the sense that I don't want to live. He's older than I by 13 years, which is part of it...but part of it is just feeling like there are so many places to explore with him, so many things to do, so much to learn.

I have a plan in place if his decision takes him away from me. A plan to stay alive. Which is better than a plan to die, which is mostly what I've had in the past. I don't know if it will be successful, but at least I'm trying.

I am mortifyingly insecure at times with him, but I decided that it's somewhat understandable given the circumstances. I'm going to try not to beat myself up about it anymore.

Life circumstances:
I've been living with my sister for the past year and change, on her acreage outside of Springfield, IL, with an ever-expanding cast of fauna (and flora, though the weeds in the pasture and yard are definitely not a deliberate acquisition). The current count is something like 2 horses, 10 dogs, 6 cats, 8 sheep, 4 turkeys, a shitload of chickens, I-don't-know-how-many guinea fowl, a dozen or so ducks, two snakes, and two fish. She may have gotten more animals since I last counted. I mostly concern myself with the cats (four of whom are currently on my bed) and the dogs. I'm astounded at how my allergies have receded; it used to be I couldn't even be around ONE cat without being miserable. Norm is still with me, of course. He is nearly totally deaf now, and more than a little senile, but he's still going strong.

I know that being here is a temporary thing, but it has been nice to finally get to know my sister as an adult, and I credit her providing me with a place to live with a lot of my healing.

Physical health:
I am more physically healthy than I've been in over a decade. Part of that is, I'm convinced, the Vitamin D; it really seems to shore up my immune system. Part of it is the lower level of stress (my job and life have their own stress, but definitely nothing like what I used to experience). Part of it is increased activity, both on the job and off. J and I love to hike in the woods in the central Illinois area, something that I need to continue to do while we're on hiatus. I have, unfortunately, developed plantar fasciitis in my left heel, which has been hellish sometimes. My knees are still wonky, but less so since I've lost a good 45 pounds. I mostly eat better than I ever have (my dinner of coffee and twizzlers the other night notwithstanding), so that's also helpful.

My body has, however, decided to make abscesses/ cystic acne pop up in the weirdest places. I had to stop shaving anything for a while until I got a safety razor, because every time I shaved, I got an abscess of some sort. It's been worst under my right arm... which I am starting to wonder about. Last summer, I had a breast cancer scare and had three biopsies done. In the process of that, they left little markers in my right breast to mark the areas that were of concern for future reference. I'm starting to wonder if there's a connection. I only seem to get the sores under that arm.

I've been working for the past year (almost) as a pizza delivery driver for a large pizza chain. It's been a job after having none for nearly four years, but it is a physically rigorous job and working with idiots takes a lot out of me. As do the hours, which currently have me working until 2-4 am at least three days a week. I am WAY too old for this shit. The mental benefit of having a job does not always outweigh the toll it takes on my psyche and body. I'm in the process of getting VR help again and (hopefully) getting a job with the state. We shall see. I need to be out of that place.

My whole life right now is in a kind of limbo, but I'm handling it better than I ever have before. So there's hope.

I have started to write again. Just little bits here and there...but I've written three poems in the past month, and I've journaled here and there in my Italian leather journal Bruce gave me long ago. I think that J unlocking my heart unlocked my mind a little bit as well.

With that, I need to get in the shower and go do some things.

I am somewhat amused.

I made a connection on Twitter with someone who is a newbie grant writer, and he's asked me a couple questions about the process (and payment standards) that have spurred me to actually do the research and thinking about it. Said research and thinking may actually help ME figure out how to market myself as a grantwriter...I really want to get back into it, heaven knows.

The amusement comes with this realization: that I probably never would have gotten around to doing the research if I hadn't had questions to answer from someone who asked for my help. I really need to figure that shit out. I'm JUST as valuable as anyone else. I should be able to help myself as well as other people.

Things are very, very tense around here. Massive fight last night (for which I feel genuinely bad), but I'm leaving in a couple days to go to my Brat's to help her with her move, so. Hopefully we will resolve the shit before I leave, because coming back will be BAD if not.

I'm going to try my hand at a writing prompt. Fiction has NEVER been my forte, god knows, but I need to exercise my writing muscles a bit.

"deep well"

Holly wrote this:

I am nonchalant sometimes about recovery and getting on with life because I've learned to function in everyday ways without being undone, and I think some people applaud that as some kind of stiff upper lip bullshit, but sometimes the well runs much too deeply to be touched in or by everyday life. When those deeper waters are disturbed I am not nonchalant.

It was a fist to my stomach. A bell of recognition rung. And while people rarely comment on how well I function except for when they first know me and hear my story, I know I function amazingly well most of the time, given what I've dealt with in my life. In particular the last few years.

But when I don't deal well, I really DON'T deal well. When something triggers me, I am triggered HARD.

I have been trying so hard to hold myself together the last year or so. There are days when I sail through it. There are days when I literally can't get out of bed, even if I'm medicated. When I have to go somewhere and be functional and bright and engaging, it exhausts me in a bone-weary kind of way.

Bruce once said (well, more than once) that I am resilient but not tough. I've held on to that in my mind many times. But I think of Silly Putty... one of the most resilient compounds I know. It can still become brittle and even break when it's stretched too far. And sometimes I think I've been stretched too far. I think that what will push me over the brink will be something simple, something easily dealt with, like a parking ticket or a broken dish. There ARE things like that that have very nearly pushed me over the edge of late. I am incredibly, terrifyingly fragile right now. And trying to pretend that I'm not is killing me, quietly. Softly. Creeping languor, pinpricks.

I don't know how to deal with this anymore. I don't know if I ever did.

Written Sunday, 2-24-13

I was walking into the kitchen and the phrase, “cinnamon and sugary and softly spoken lies” was suddenly in my head. I pulled out the foil and measured one piece to another, making a soft tent for the turkey breast, and I wondered why I was thinking of Sherrie. Sheri? Sherri? I don't remember how to spell her name anymore. I only remember the woman I knew first as cinnamon_girl and then, later, glitterlust. The latter name was hard, sharp, brittle... the way she would become. She killed herself in early March, 2007. Almost six years ago. But before... cinnamon and sugary and softly spoken lies. The lies she told were the lies of “I don't want people to worry.”

As I was tenting the turkey, I wondered... how DID I meet her? Who was the connection? Was it Loryn? No, because I found Loryn through Jim. Was it Brenna? No, it wasn't her, either. Wasn't Linder. And I realized, it was through Sarah...strangestgirl...who found me through my sex journal. What an odd and winding road my brain took there. I remembered Andrew, who was the first person I knew to be diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome. The Other Sarah, with whom I made out in the back of a cab in DC. T, who is now a law student down in Texas, with a wife and son he loves to distraction. That was back when so many people came into my life who were and are so important to me... Bruce. Tim. Belinda. Meredith. People who have passed out of my life... Linder, both Sarahs, Erik. Even Alan.

What made my brain settle on Sherri? I think of her now and then, and wonder about her Vinnie... Nicholas. He would be seven, maybe eight now. I wonder if he remembers his mama. She loved him so very much.

I wonder if this would be my fate in the end... that people would stop suddenly, arrested by a phrase or the sight of leopard print, and tears would well up just a little as they remembered.

I still think of it, of course. Every day. Some days more intensely than others. Some days it is all I can do to find something to hold on to until I can try to sleep. Some days I would be hard-pressed to tell you what got me through.

But I haven't done it yet. And even if that is a woeful measure of success, as pitiful a goal as some think...

I'm still alive.

She isn't.

Who won here?

Random: on

Having seen my Muse today, I was reminded that I used to write. I used to write every day. I used to think about writing even when I wasn't writing.

My life is at another one of those crossroads that seem to crop up periodically. On Halloween, I made the decision that I can no longer live with Jodie. Be in a relationship, maybe... but not live with her. She is going through a transition which, I am confident, she never would have even considered if I hadn't come along and showed her the option was there. It makes me a little sad that I won't be there to see the rest of the process; I know it's going to change her in ways that she's going to love, and in ways she is going to struggle with. I keep reminding myself that my not being there is a self-preservation tactic; she was grinding away at my (nonexistent) soul.

I realized last week sometime, talking to Joel, that my relationship with Michael did something to me. You see, I felt like I had been taking care of everyone and everything for so long... and Michael, he took care of me. It was wonderful. But he took care of me so thoroughly that he wouldn't even let me take care of myself, even when I tried. Whether it was carrying my bag into the house, changing the oil on my car, or paying a bill... he always took over, and did it for me.

I became, for lack of a better term, dependent. And when he broke up with me, this is a large part of why I was so shattered.

Another part, which I only realized the other night when I said to Tracy, "I feel safe with you,"... I felt safe with Michael. He took that away from me, and I haven't felt safe since.

Writing that made tears well up in my eyes.

Safety is such a nebulous concept... so abstract. For some, safety is financial. For others, it's physical. For me, it tends to be emotional.

It kills me that it's taken me over a year to really start to heal from my relationship with Michael. But at least I'm starting to heal.

My love life has been exploding... I've had dates with half a dozen new people. I have, however, felt totally unsatisfied. I realized the other night (when things really clicked with Tracy) that I'd been looking for a connection. I have a connection with several people who are important to me, an important part of my life. But with all of them, there is some wall, some barrier, that keeps it from being complete. Sometimes it's their wall; sometimes it's mine.

I am so tired, and I have what is likely strep throat. I was going to go volunteer with a homeless shelter tomorrow, but I'm not going to do that now. instead, I'll drink my diet coke and bourbon, and go to bed, and try to sleep the whole night without waking up...


Morgan asked my opinion about a Christmas present for Liz, so I was googling about and discovered that there are a ton of people out there who, for one reason or another, think that the sign for "bullshit" actually means "good luck."


I just don't have words.

Cultural appropriation, for the LOSE.

Black and White Thinking

I cannot abide people who refuse to see shades of gray in this world. Let's face it... there are shades of gray EVERYWHERE. In every field, in every topic. And no one in the world has the right to say, "this is how it is for everyone who is *insert a group*."

Not even someone who is part of that group.

I am at a conference at UNI today, a conference for those working to end domestic violence. The keynote speaker is Dr. Gail Dines, author of "Pornland: How Porn has Hijacked Our Sexuality." She has some WONDERFUL points about the culture we live in and how it reinforces violence against women and grooms young men to detach from women (i.e. teaches them absolutely nothing about how to have a healthy relationship or sexuality).


She is yet another "all or nothing" person. Yet another black/white, dichotomy, binary person. Someone who refused, utterly REFUSED, to acknowledge that there might possibly be women doing sex work who WANT to be doing sex work. I men refused. She quoted a study of 7 countries that stated unequivocally (in her words) that women in sex work want one thing: to get out.

Leaving aside the potential can of worms that would be opened by questioning the structure of the study (since any study can be structured to confirm a hypothesis rather than to gather information), how exactly does she justify speaking for ALL women, everywhere? She said this myth about some group of women having lots of fun sex is just that, a myth.

She also pissed me off by saying there was no excuse for men to NOT stand up to misogyny and exert a view of healthy masculinity. I said that in many cases, men were not AWARE of the need for their voices, and not aware of male privilege or the impact of misogyny on their own lives. She dismissed that out of hand. "There's no excuse," she said.

Really, I truly cannot abide this kind of thinking. It is polarizing, exclusive, in a realm that NEEDS to be inclusive.

I see this in every field of activism I have ever been involved in... black and white thinking. It is as if, by admitting that there might be some part of the world that does not fit into the binary, one loses face and ground.

To me, being able to admit and discuss the gray areas means you feel strongly enough about your topic that you aren't threatened by those shades of gray.

Ah well. I didn't change her mind, and she didn't change mine. I'm going to go give a presentation on Deaf culture and domestic/sexual violence now, and see if I can change some people's perspectives...


So, who out here in LJ-land (an increasingly barren desert, I admit) has the time/energy/wherewithal to review my resume?

I'm applying for a job in Georgia. My resume has to be top-notch (as does my cover letter, but I'll get to that later).

I am freaking out about this. As usual.

Oct. 16th, 2011

Actual text message exchange I just had with my sister:

Me: "Do you know what I need? Two skulls. Bobcat skulls, or some other similarly sized sjulls. And you are the skull person of the family. So where do I get them?

Tina: Why do you need skulls? And just a sec. I'll send you my favorite supplier. wwww.bridgerfur.com or www.hideandfur.com

Me: Rock on. Thank you. Shall bookmark for later use!

Tina: Okay.

Me: Because I'm going to make something awesome for my door for Christmas, silly. What do you think?!

Tina: Ooookay then.

Me: I love the fact that you didn't bat a virtual eyelash at this request.

Tina: Well, we ARE sisters.

Me: This is true, and also awesome.

Tina: ^___^

A happy update for a change...

I just got off a Skype chat with Morgan's new(ish) girlfriend. Morgan, for those who are not intimately involved in my life, is my eldest spawn (thanks to D for the nomenclature). Morgan has been a source of angst in my life, there's no question of that. Some of that has been my own shit; I now greatly regret having spent so much time working and comparatively little time with my boys during their teenage years.

Regardless, Morgan still loves his Momma, so I guess I didn't totally screw up.



Liz is his girlfriend. She was in an interpreter training program in Cedar Rapids until recently, when she moved to TX to attend an ITP there. Kirkwood (Cedar Rapids) is where she and Morgan met.

I tell you, people... this one is a keeper. Morgan had said as much to me in a text last week, and he said he thought I would really like her. He was right. I like her a lot, even from just a 45 minute chat.

I told her the top four reasons I already liked her: 1) she captivated Morgan enough that he TOLD me about her. 2) she's studying to be an interpreter. 3) She took Morgan to task over his lack of knowledge of ASL. 4) She has EXCELLENT grammar.

She also was VERY concerned about how I was doing after the car accident (yeah, I haven't written about that here... but I DID tweet about it, and you can follow me at that place as gretchenmarie5), and said she had told Morgan he should be staying in Iowa to take care of his Momma but he didn't listen so well. I thought that was just utterly CHARMING.

(yes, I really like this girl... can you tell? Morgan had better marry her)

So... a happy update! Yay! This is like the first in, what? A year? More?

It's been a pretty good weekend. Maybe I should write a little more...


I loved this... had to share

From Goldie Taylor:

When I shut my mouth and turn to walk away, it doesn't mean you've won. It simply means that your stupid ass isn't worth any more of my time.

Grant me the serenity

This morning, at 10am, I go to court for a hearing on dropping the no contact order against my partner Jodie. Jodie has now been in jail for just over two weeks, for domestic assault on me. When sie was first arrested, I was devastated...I hadn't wanted the police to arrest hir at all. I had had Tim call the police because sie had locked me out of the house... and everything in the house was mine.

But such are the laws on domestic violence in Iowa that the police now MUST arrest one party if there are visible injuries. My injuries, while laughably minor, were still visible. And Jodie has a record. So Jodie was arrested.

I think I cried for the better part of two days.

Everyone seems to think that the Incident itself, that being a victim, is what has been so traumatic. But that's not even remotely true. The trauma has come from the aftermath... from the not-knowing. Not knowing what will happen to Jodie, whether sie is getting the medical care sie needs, whether sie is able to sleep at night. Most everyone in my life thinks I am an idiot of some stripe to even worry about hir. I cannot turn off my caring.

The worst thing that I do not know? How sie has been processing this. Is sie sitting in a jail cell thinking about what sie did? Or is sie thinking about what *I* did to *hir*?

This matters, you see. This matters because how sie views this mess will determine whether or not I will remain in hir life.

I know that sounds horribly self-minimizing...like I'm giving hir all the power here. I don't see it that way at all. I see it as... if sie is willing to look at hir own actions and behavior, willing to see that sie was the instigator of this, AND willing to acknowledge that sie is an alcoholic (and work on hir addiction)... there is hope. Hope that sie can move forward, change, and grow.

But if sie is simply sitting in jail plotting revenge against me?

I'm done. I will walk away with nary a backward glance.

The only reason I am even giving hir this chance (which sie doesn't even know about, because of said no contact order) is because I have already seen the massive change that sie is capable of. Turning from a bitter, angry, constantly-drunk old man into a sweet, feminine, not-drunk Sugar who had learned sie DID have control over hir behavior? Was a massive change.

This sounds so simple... either I will remain in hir life or I will walk away. But really... it is horrendously complicated. The decision I make this morning will affect where I will live, how I will continue my job search, what clothes I have, whether I will have a functional computer for VRS...

My back and shoulders and stomach are so tense, in so much turmoil. I haven't been sleeping for two weeks; the only night I got a good night's sleep was when Christopher was here. I'm on the verge of tears right now... I've been fine, haven't been crying for at least a week. I started going to Al-Anon (not AA... the associated group for families and loved ones of alcoholics) the Tuesday after the Incident, and have witnessed the real power of the Serenity Prayer.

I need it now...

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the things I can
And the wisdom to know the difference.


I made a winner of a recipe tonight. Below are the original recipe, and my modifications...

Creamy Pumpkin PastaCollapse )

And here is MY version...

Creamy Squash PastaCollapse )

Everybody loved it, even the notoriously picky Benjamin... so I guess it's a win.


Something a little less grim...

I wrote this while I was on my road trip... yes, the road trip I still haven't written about. Maybe getting this out of my notebook and into my journal will be the first step.


I'm sitting in one of the most beautiful places I've ever been in. I look up and immediately see the cobwebs. Then I see water streaks on the windows. More cobwebs. Dust in the corners. Instead of seeing the beauty and perfection that quite literally surrounds me in this edifice of stone, wood, and glass... I focus on the imperfections. And one imperfection leads to seeing another, and another...

Outside these walls of glass, all is imperfect. Imperfect and unutterably beautiful. The trees have no symmetry. Dead leaves coat the forest floor. Moss grows from the crevices in the rock. The "grass" is an assortment of weeds which would surely be done away with if they had the temerity to interfere with suburban landscapes.

What an amazing metaphor for the human condition. Amid beauty and symmetry, our eye seeks out the flaws, the mistakes, the imperfections. We become blind to everything else.

Those imperfections, though... they are evidence of life. Spiders weaving between the beams. Rain falling to nourish the imperfection that surrounds us.

So it is with people. Our imperfections are evidence of life within and without. We strive constantly to eliminate them, to smooth the facade and wash the windows so no one will notice we aren't flawless.

But look.

Look at the trees.

Look at the rocks.

See how perfectly the forest floor nourishes life. It's a mess. A glorious, life-giving mess.

So we are. Imperfect. Flawed. A mess.

But glorious.

Perhaps when we learn to embrace what we call flaws...and learn how they feed us and those around us...and realize it is those flaws that make us part of this messy universe...

Perhaps then we shall be happy.

Thorncrown Chapel's Website

Pictures here... taken with BlackBerry, so of dubious qualityCollapse )

Post of PIMPAGE!

catvalente has written a book that knocked Warren Ellis flat.

Really, need I say more?

Go hither and buy it, because awesome Cat is awesome and she needs to continue writing. Thus sayeth I, and a whole slew of her other fans.

And if you need more convincing, here... have a trailer.

Yes, for a book.

For my Iowa people

I have a favor to ask of you.

Actually, it's not a favor for ME. It's a favor for her, and her, and him and his three kids, and that little girl over there who cries in her sleep, and the woman who woke up with bruises all over her body and her hair ripped out.

Okay, maybe it's a favor for me, too.

Some of you may have been around long enough to remember that the Iowa Legislature pulled a fast one back in Fiscal Year 2003. Sometime quite literally in the middle of the night, the decision was made to eliminate the line item in the state budget for services to victims of sexual and domestic violence. Millions of dollars were appropriated elsewhere, and the removal of the line item meant that no other money could be funneled towards this need... line item elimination is HUGE in governmental budgeting. Trust me on this one. From my perspective (and I know that perspective is shared by many other people) it shows a total lack of concern about victims of violence.

What's most catastrophic about this is... nearly all of the sexual and domestic violence victims' advocacy programs in the state were funded at least in great part by these funds. Almost immediately, programs started to close and services were merged or cut. Many of you were around when I was informed that Deaf Women of Iowa Against Abuse was one of the programs that would have to either merge or close the doors to the victims we served. A total of nine programs closed or were absorbed by other programs during this time.

Between then and now, the state Attorney General's office has scrambled to provide funds to help keep the remaining programs at least extant. The way they've done this is to draw funds from the victim compensation fund... the money that's used to help pay for therapy for a child whose parents have been murdered, that's used to pay for a funeral of a domestic violence murder, that's used to cover emergency room services for a rape victim... you get the idea. More information about this fund is available at Iowa Crime Victims Compensation Program.

So basically... it's been robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Now, the victim compensation fund is close to being depleted. It's replenished by the penalties that criminals pay, and restitution that is made to victims from their perpetrators. It can't be replenished fast enough. It has been decimated, and this has sometimes resulted in some tough choices having to be made.

The Legislature has replaced the line item in the state budget.

What they haven't done, though, is replace the funding.

http://www.victimstosurvivors.org is the website. Go take a look at it. Watch the PSA that's linked at the top of the page.

And then contact your legislators. Use the "Contact Your Elected Official" link on the left of the page. Just... do something.



me in car

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