I am somewhat amused.

me in car
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

me in car
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

me in car
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...


me in car
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

dr gretchen
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...


me in car
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

me in car
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...

me in car
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

me in car
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!

complex geographies
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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