Tuesday, February 09, 2016

No.... I'm crying cause I love everyone

Well it's February 9th....and 10 years ago I had a wedding ceremony that felt rushed and hurried and ultimately wasn't meant to be.   This is the first of some major milestones of my history of Mr.3 that I can now classify in terms of decades.

I wasn't sure how I was going to feel today, and the day is only half over, so I am not going to make any final determinations.  I did have a nightmare last night.  He was in it, as he is in most of them. I can't remember the context though.  However when I woke up I thought it was morning and was glad that it was....until I rolled over and discovered that I had only been asleep an hour.  So I had to leave the tv on and try to wake a little so that I didn't drop right back into the dream again.

On any anniversary it is hard not to go through the thought process of "well what if".  In this case, what if we were still together?  We would both be unhappy... very much so.  I'm sure that I would look a lot older than I do now.  There might have been a child or two, but I would be so broken down by the weight of handling all the finances and being the breadwinner as well as caregiver...that I don't think that I would enjoy motherhood like I want to.  Maybe he would have finished his PhD by now.  I definitely wouldn't be "me" anymore...just an unwilling servant... a shell.  I was a shell when he left, I don't think that there would have been anything left that would have resembled me at all. When I was pondering this possibility this morning, the thought process was only a few seconds because I became overwhelmed by all of people who are in my life now that wouldn't be if I was still with him.

And then.... I started to cry.  Crying over the possible loss of so many people who have been instrumental in my life over the last 10 years.  So many people that I love deeply....

My parents, my little brother, Libby.... all of our relationships wouldn't be as strong.
My friends from the MEC who stayed with me beyond our time there- Linda and Dylan.
I wouldn't have joined my Lodge, and wouldn't have met and loved my wonderful brothers...who I am not going to name but just put their initials (which I am sure they will get the humor of): M, K, C, J, R, T, R, H, C, M, R, M, J, B, J, K, I, E and on and on and on.
My awe-inspiring co-workers, my tribe of sisters- Alana, Nubia, Leslie, Jo'D, Julie, Hilde, Liz, Nonie, Marilyn....
My amazing polycule- the Gent and my two awesome Metas that I haven't come up with a snappy nicknames yet for...

All of these wonderful people listed above (and more! I have so many tribes that I could be listing people for hours)  that have come into and stayed in my life over the last ten years- who have laughed, and cried, and worked, and loved with me.... so many people who most likely wouldn't be in my life if he had stayed.

Every one of you reminds me daily of the infinite capacity that I have to love.
Thank you for that.
And...
I love you.


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Emotional Nakedness.... apparently that's a thing, and a thing I have issues with

This is one of those weeks where I feel like going back to my therapist and asking for a retro-active refund....cause seriously.... how did she miss some of these issues, really?

I guess that some of this would have come up sooner if I hadn't been dating-avoidant for five plus years.  And one day I won't feel like I'm perpetually broken, that I'm constantly having to explain why I'm triggered about one thing or another, that I'm not worthy of attention to my feelings, etc.  One day I'll be able to process my feelings in front of another human...until then, my processing needs to be written out.... its the only way I can do it and feel safe.  I only hope that it isn't interpreted as being passive aggressive, that is not the intent.  On my blog I can write about crying, and anyone reading it can imagine this pristine scene with a single glorious tear rolling down my cheek and me lightly dabbing it with a cloth handkerchief....  oh...and Erik Satie would be playing softly in the background....there is candlelight....and I'm wearing some fantastic ball gown....
The reality is that my crying is not pretty...or at least I don't think it is pretty.  To be fair though, I haven't really looked at myself when I cry, but it feels ugly so I assume it is.  Have you seen Claire Danes cry? Phenomenal actress- ugly cryer.  So the reality of me crying is probably like Claire Danes wailing away.

So last night, I'm staying over at the Gent's house after holding a fairly awesome party.  We were cuddling in the guest room...or he was attempting to and I was trying not to cry.  It's been a week.  My body has been hurting...from stress, from antibiotics.  I've had a bunch of deadlines this week (in fact as of the writing of this I still have two major things that have to be completed and its 9pm on Sunday....the outlook is not good).  I felt pulled in a thousand different directions, trying to make sure that I'm checking in with everyone, feeling like I'm a failure at not being able to do it all, but trying to support everyone that I can.  Its been overwhelming, and any attempts at self-care this week have felt incredibly hollow and like the stress and tension I'm feeling right now is a parasite in my body.  I feel like I need to just have a deep soul-crushing cry to get all the tension out.  Last night, I could feel it coming in waves and I kept trying to push it down and away.  But it kept coming to the surface, and I didn't want an audience....and even with him holding me, telling me it was alright, that he wasn't going to leave, that he loved me, that our tribe loved me.... I just couldn't let him see that.  So I sent him off to his bedroom while I tried to curl myself in as tight a ball as possible and attempt to silently cry.

As of tomorrow we will have been dating for three months....but three months of deep love and acceptance is not enough to undo a lifetime of feeling punished when I express my feelings and needs.  The last time I cried in front of a partner, I was broken, and he left the next day.

Flashback to almost 10 years ago..... Mr.3 and I are in Denver.  Its our second trip in a month to try to rectify a situation that seems so crazy chaotic now that I can't even being to explain it.  The money was running out, nothing was making sense, his paranoia was becoming my paranoia, and nothing was going as he said that it should.  We were at a mall food court in Aurora and there is this kid being obnoxious at the table next to us.  I just wanted the kid to stop, to be quiet, and I kept thinking how easy it would be to grab that child and snap his neck.  I felt so powerless that I had a brief moment where I seriously considered harming a child so that I wouldn't feel as helpless as I did at that moment.  It scared me....bad.  I abruptly got up and started out to the car with Mr.3 following me confused.  I got into the driver's seat but I couldn't drive...all of the emotion, all the craziness, the uncertainty, overcame me....I got out of the car, leaving the door open, and stepped a few feet away from the car.  And I started to scream.  A deep primal unhuman scream.... I was no longer in my body.... I don't know how long I was screaming, but it felt like it was forever. The memory of the sound of my screaming haunts me.

And then he laughed at me.

It was just a chuckle, almost a snort, but it was enough.  I ran back to the car and had it in drive so fast that the car was moving when he got into the passenger's side.  We went back to the motel we were staying at and I spent the rest of the day crying inconsolable on the bed.  I was in and out of it.  I have vague memories of seeing him looking at his computer, writing something on a paper tablet, him coming in and out of the room, him glaring at me from across the room...  In the morning I was still fully dressed, lying on top of the bedspread.... black stains on the white pillowcases from my mascara running.  He had slept on the other side of the bed and was in the shower when I got up. He had left a letter on my pillow.  It was a love letter of sorts....hollow in hindsight....talking about how he didn't realize how much I loved and cared about him and that it hurt him to see me in such pain....that he was going to try to be a better man.  When he got out of the shower there was this new plan that he had.  He suddenly had a job interview in Denver the next day, things were looking up.  And since we were to drive back to Salt Lake that day, he would stay at the hostel in Denver for the next couple of days, and I would drive back alone.  I was so numb it sounded rational.  So I did.  I dropped him off at the hostel and drove home.  I was broken....but this process went on over a few days, as it was one story after another resulting with me driving back to Denver four days later with half of our apartment in my little car.... but that story is for another day.  The point of this, is that I've now got it ingrained within me that if I let a partner see me cry, let them see me be broken, that they will leave me.  They won't stay to pick up the pieces.... they will just go.

The Gent says that he won't do this....and I know that he won't.  But knowing that and physically crossing that boundary are two entirely different things.  We process alot.  And I'm really good at processing with other people, with their emotions, their difficulties...but when the attention is turned towards me, its painful.  I'm really good at loving and giving to others. Receiving it back? Oh, it's ugly.... as the last several degrees I've taken at Masonic workshops and the emotional rollarcoasters that I have gone through on them can attest.

I'm not sure really what to do with this.  I discovered a name for my issue today.... emotional nakedness.  Naming it feels a little better, but I'm not sure how to go about working through it.  I expect it will take time to lose the emotional modesty that has been my protective shroud for so long.  But saying that it will take time sets off an anxiety snowball of worrying that people will decide that I'm really not worth it anyway and just go.  I know that I'm frustrating as hell.....  I can't ask for what I need because half the time as I'm not sure what that is, and when I do know, I don't want to ask because I'm worried that I will be a burden.  If I express my feelings honestly, I feel like I've had some sort of a tantrum and then I try to retreat further in order to mitigate any damage I may have inadvertently caused.

I'm seriously shocked that I don't have a flatter forehead from all the pounding of my head on my desk in frustration.  If emotional nakedness is a thing, I wonder if it is also possible to give yourself an emotional concussion?

So what do I do?  I don't want to do therapy again...even though it has been suggested.  I will have a legit foot-stamping tantrum over that. 
I'm trying to give myself gold stars for little things that feel like milestones.... well I actually don't have gold star stickers at my house, so my calendar has multi-colored owls on it....but the idea is still the same.  I can keep doing that.
Anything else?
Trying to cut yourself some slack and show some compassion is soooo much harder than it sounds.

And....
Oh!
My!
God!!!
There is a website that documents all the time that Claire Danes has spent crying on film

This makes me feel oddly better....

Sunday, January 03, 2016

This year's word: Openness

For those in the know, I'm anti-resolution for New Year traditions..... I'm not going to set myself up for some strange and awful failure of will.  But choosing a word and at least one hare-brained scheme a year works for me.  It seems that in reviewing the blog, I didn't set either last year..... although starting school again is going to be my retro-active hare-brained scheme for 2015....2016 will be determined later.

I do, however, have a word for this year.  And that word is "openness".

Openness in letting people in.  Letting people know how I'm feeling. Letting myself be open to answer honestly, even if that answer is no.  Allowing myself the space to try new things and have new experiences.

This word has been a couple months in forming.  The stress and associated depression with it has been severe the past two-to-three months.  I'm hoping that the new year will be a reset and that I will be able to open to letting some of that residual tension go.  If anything, the new year will hopefully bring a normalization of my schedule/routine.

Another aspect of the formation of this year's word is that I'm dating someone.  Someone wonderful.  And that person has brought some other wonderful and amazing people into my life.  People who feel like family; who feel like being home. To be loved is one thing, but to have someone make you feel wrapped up in love and safety without judgement is another thing entirely.  In many ways I feel like I've cheated this person somehow because they have met me in this period where I do feel so unstable.  It's like I'm stuck in a Fight Club loop....



In some ways, they have seen me at my worse up front.  Maybe..... I am most likely still hiding most of it....and every time I force myself to be open and honest about my feelings I want to award myself a gold star.  To pat myself on my back for trying to embrace the openness of acknowledging this vulnerability.  I haven't ruled out yet creating a sticker reward board for these moments.

But 2016 is for openness.
Openness to love
To be loved
To be able to accept the love given to me by all the people in my life
To feel like I deserve that love I receive

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Finding moderation in dating when you are secretly a cat....

.... which the more I ponder the possibility, the more I think that finding moderation is just gonna be an unrealistic goal for me.

I have very good and specific reasons why I do not "date" often.  Some of these reasons deal with my primary place of employment, some of these reasons have to deal with my barriers put in place due to past relationships, and some of these reasons have to deal with my general dissatisfaction and disgust with ideas and myths around 'hook-up' culture. At the moment, I find myself dating someone.  Someone amazing....and for the purposes of this blog he shall be dubbed as.... "the Gent".  Most people think that I am flirtatious because of my general personality, but when I really REALLY like someone, it gets awkward super fast.  I feel constantly bathed in this level of extreme awkwardness.... and for a while, I've been really hard on myself for this... until I realized that I need to just embrace my Leo sensibilities and be the true cat that I am. 

For example: 'the Gent' truly seems to want to know how I'm feeling.  This is new. Very new.  And very scary. So I'll have this moment where I'm really good with the cuddling and talking and sharing the feels and such.... then like a cat with one too many belly rubs, I hiss, runaway.... and then come back a few minutes later expecting the other person to continue paying attention to me, except this time when I've returned I have some headless animal of Debbie's-past-experiences to drop on your lap.   I've had way too many "emotional trigger moments" the past few weeks.... to the point, that I'm getting annoyed with myself over it.  I've wanted to run away several times....not because of him....because of my own insecurities.

Other example: I have a schedule, he has a schedule, everyone on the planet has a schedule and commitments and such.  I know this.  I know that I have other things that I should be doing...like studying for finals this week.  But spending the small amount of time that I have with 'the Gent' makes me just want to spend more time with him.  Which is good.  I just want ALL THE TIME right now.  I know that if I actually had all the time I really wanted, that I would get overloaded, then overemotional, and just run away.  So not getting to spend the amount of time that my brain is screaming for is actually a good and healthy thing.  It truly is.  I just need to get my head on straight about it.... and not to run away and hide.... which would be infinitely easier at the moment.  This is the problem with being anti-dating for as long as I have been.  It becomes comfortable and safe.  Safe is boring though. Quite boring.  In the current information age though, I need to figure out what the rough approximation of moderation in contact is.  The past couple of days I've felt like I've been contacting/texting too much....but I keep doing it.  Also, my use of emojis lately has been exponentially increased at an alarming rate.

I seem to oscillate between "love me, love me, love me" to "back off" quite a bit the past few weeks.  Except at the moment I'm on the 'love me' side....and the rational brain is trying to smack my perceptive back into the center... to be human again.

I've got it bad.

Damn.... I really hope 'the Gent' is a cat person.

Or I just need a red laser dot to chase and mesmerize me for a while. 

Thursday, October 08, 2015

What do you take if you have 6 hours to leave?

Dreams are really odd things.... and if anyone wants to give me an interpretation of this dream I would gladly welcome it.

I think most people have gone through the thought experiment of your home being on fire and you have only one minute to grab what is most important to you and leave the house.  Partners, children, pets seem to normally top that list...then important papers, etc.  Last night I dreamt that I and my family had to evacuate and leave the area.  There was some political coup that happened and we needed to flee or die.  In the dream, I was the age that I am now, but my family was the age that they were when we moved from Sandy in 1999.  And for some reason, most likely safety, we had temporarily relocated all of our belongings to the house 2-doors down from our old house in Sandy.  Oddly enough, I have dreamt of hiding from people in this house multiple times, although I think that where this house is in my dream, actually doesn't exist on the street that I lived on.  If it does exist, it is a house that I have never been inside of either.

We had six hours to gather all that we could independently carry to flee.  For some reason food was not a concern or electronics.  I remember that at one point I was worried about if we needed money, and not being able to recall how much I could take out of a ATM without the daily withdraw limit being reached.  I knew that I wouldn't have enough time to go through all of my pictures, so I grabbed a recent stack of photos that I have yet to put away in the photo storage box.  I had gone through and scanned some old photos for a recent presentation.  I was more focused on what books did I need to bring with me.  I could only fill up a backpack.  So began this process of trying to pick the books that were going to be the pinnacle book for every reading genre.  Sadly, I do not remember this book list, although I did have a dictionary and a thesaurus.  As we are about to go, I realize that I did not have any Turkish books with me.  I picked two Turkish/English dictionaries, one with older words that had some Ottoman carry-overs and then a more modern one.  I wasn't sure what Turkish literature books I wanted, but I decided that it would be worthless to have the dictionaries and a literature book without having a grammar book as well.  By this time, whoever was pursuing us were going house by house on our street, and were currently in our old house... it was time to go or die.  But I could not leave without a grammar book.  My family is gone at this point.  And I'm jumping over boxes, looking through bookshelf after bookshelf.  I'm finding lots of old textbooks, but they are too bulky and numerous.  What I'm really looking for is my Underhill Turkish Grammar book.  I can't find it anywhere.  By the third time I'm re-scanning the shelves looking for it, the enemy is marching up the driveway.  By the time I see its red cover and have the book clutched to my chest, they are breaking down the door.....

And I wake up.

Drowsy still, I berate myself for not packing underwear or grabbing any of my Masonic rituals in my dream.

It's a half-hour before my alarm is to go off.... so I try to go back to sleep.... only to find myself right back in the dream....searching the shelves, trying to find my Underhill again.

Any takers on what this means?
Incidentally.... my Underhill was rather easy to find this morning.  Even took a picture....in case I forget again ;)


Sunday, August 30, 2015

The run-down of last night's club expedition

Last night I went to a club.
Area 51's Fetish Night to be specific.
I don't go to clubs for a variety of reasons.  One of those being the work that I've been doing for the past five plus years.  I worry about every drunk person and what they may be made to do later by someone under the guise of consent.  I hate the fact that we have developed a culture where sex outside of marriage (and many times within as well) only happens when fueled by alcohol.  Another reason why I don't go to clubs is that I don't get hit on at clubs.  And no, this isn't a "I'm fat and sad" moment, it is just a reality.  Many people go to clubs with the sole intention of getting picked up, or to get some sort of affirmation of their beauty from some stranger.  It's depressing going to a club and watching your friends get hit on time after time and you being ignored.  Oh.... and the other reason that I don't like to go to clubs is that even when I haven't been the designated driver, I still end up having to care for my friends who just go crazy.  It's not fun.  This is probably why most of my "partying" has actually happened in foreign countries.  You're walking anyway to wherever you are partying... and it is a different crowd of folks you are going with.  With your friends you can be irresponsible (and a bit of jerk) and they deal with it because they love you.... doing the same traveling abroad, you don't get that kind of leeway.

I went to the club last night as a reconnaissance mission.  Different kink communities do demos on Fetish Night and it was an opportunity for me to see what was out there.  I got there early (because if I got there before 10pm I could get in free).  And the first thing that I did was find my Kink Community contact, Finch.  He introduced me to all the demo people he knew, and a few people who I had previously seen at rope workshop.  For those that read my last post, I now know the name of one of the women who I saw topless at that first workshop.  It was nice evening overall.  There was a small group of us just hanging out.  I had one adult beverage and two bottles of water and I did a lot of people watching.  I also went by myself so I didn't have to watch out for anyone and I could leave when I wanted to.  In my head there is this stigma about a person going to a club alone, but this was rather freeing.  I would do it again.... but only if I had a really good reason to make an effort to go to a club.  

So.... here is some of what I learned last night:

1. Real "kinky" people are totally normal and NOT obnoxious, and it is the "vanilla" folks that are making a huge deal out of the appearance of trying to be seen as "kinky".  Most of the people who I saw that were shocked and horrified by what they saw in the demos were the people that were overly dressed up in the appearance of kink.  Those that were watching with interest and respect where dressed very normally.  In fact, all the demo people looked like they had walked off the street rather than that they had spent 4 hours carefully dressing in as little as possible.  As I was hanging out mostly with the rope folks, all the girls who got tied up for demos were conservatively dressed.... they just had no problem removing clothing to do the tie-ups.

2. Real beauty comes from being comfortable in your skin and not from trying to show it off.  Body language is so important.  And there is a huge difference between being half naked in front of a crowd AND being comfortable with your body and just being half naked in front of a crowd.

3. Drunk folks are fun to watch, but not really to talk to.  Towards the end of the evening a young woman sat down next to me and started to talk.  She was really hammered and had been left by her friends at the club.  She was also a larger girl, who kept trying to tell me in a louder and louder voice about how kinky she was and that she couldn't find anyone who was willing to be her dominant.  After talking with her for a while it was clear why.... through all of her boasting she was insecure.  She had been abandoned and blamed many times in her life, and only wanted to be loved and noticed.  It wasn't happening...because these things just don't "happen", you have to make an effort to reach out to those in the community.  She wanted someone to take her home, and that just wasn't going to happen either.  I wanted to hug her and tell her that it was gonna be alright.  People are so vulnerable in general when they are drunk, but I don't think we realize or appreciate just how open and bare they leave their hearts.

Will I go again?  Possibly.  But if I'm honest, I'll probably learn more and make more connections if I just keep going to munches, workshops, and play parties.  Also my body just hurts.... that's not from the dancing (I actually didn't do any of that), but the fact that I got only 6-ish hours of sleep last night because I had an early morning appointment today.  I desperately need a nap and about 10 more hours of productivity.  I tried to nap this afternoon and it was just the kind of nap where everything hurts and you are too tired to sleep. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

new ventures

My job allows me the ability to learn about some pretty amazing things.
At Pride this last June, I met a member from the Kink Community and I have agreed to collaborate with his organization and do some advanced consent and healthy relationships presentations for them.

Like any good researcher, I asked for a book list and I think I've read 7 or 8 different kink-related manuals in the last month or so.  And honestly.....if you want a way to spice up some rather boring reading on corporate accounting, interspersing that with reading breaks on how to be an loving dominant will fit that bill.

In prepping for work with this community.... and we're planning some awesome stuff beyond these two trainings being scheduled.... I find that I'm learning alot about myself. And no... it isn't that I'm discovering some new found kinky-side and that I'm gonna start wearing leather and carrying a riding crop around.  It has more to do with discovering this capacity that I have to learn about something and have little to no judgement about it.  In fact, I've come across some instances where I was very much opposed to a particular act and found the very idea of it degrading and abusive.  But after reading an essay about fisting, yes... fisting, I could see the beauty in it.  It is not on my list of things to ever do or have done to me....but I could understand the appeal.  I keep discovering these moments over and over again.

The Kink community in general has to deal with a ton of criticism and bias due strictly to the general community not understanding what they are about and western society's general tendency to freak out about anyone openly talking about sex.  But the people I've met so far have been amazing! And it's been nice to hang out with people who aren't going to be shocked by something that I say, and take things like consent and rape culture seriously.  I'm definitely learning more from them then they are from me at the moment.  I'm astounded by this community's ability to support each other.  I read on FetLife earlier this week of a woman who shared her story about being violently raped by someone she met in the community.  When I commented on her post over 400 people had already reached out to her.... and ALL of the comments were supportive of her.  It was beautiful and still makes me tear up a bit.  She had an awful experience with reporting her assault and was blamed for the attack because of her kink lifestyle.  I know that this happens in Utah as well.... so I am really excited to be focusing attention on this community to help address gaps in services.

As I would with any community that I am starting out working with, I've been going to some of their events.  I went to a rope workshop a couple of weeks ago.  At workshops you can interrupt and ask questions about what people are doing.  It is a place to learn skills first before you go out and try to do stuff.  It was fascinating!  And....all right...a touch titillating....but definitely more on the fascinating side.  I discovered that if I see a woman's bare breasts, I want to know the woman's name because nameless boobs bother me a bit.  It just seems impolite not to introduce myself.  That being said, I was so nervous that I really didn't talk to anyone, but I brought blueberry muffins for everyone to snack on as a concession.  There were a couple of people there who I loved just to sit and watch what they were doing.  The knot-work was so skillful and imaginative, and you really had the feeling that you were watching a master honing their craft.  I also got to see some moments of profound intimacy that I just wanted to go up and hug the people afterwards and thank them for letting me witness that.  Like speaking to people, this was also something that I did not do....  I was just the silent wide-eyed person in the room..... rather than the creeper that I wanted to be introducing myself to topless women and hugging strangers.  I was going to go back to another workshop this weekend, but I had a migraine yesterday and I wasn't gonna try to deal with it.  Instead I tried to learn some of the knots and practiced on myself.  My skills at making friendship bracelets is not helpful AT ALL in this endeavor.  My crappy attempt is the photo in this post.  So I need someone to teach me, or (perhaps the better option) I'll just continue to be a spectator or let people practice on me so I can watch.

My first presentation on Consent is going to be in September.  I'm preemptively nervous.... but I will get to be extra mean during the pen skit which I use to demonstrate coercion... so I have that to look forward to.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Yes to the Dress

I'm taking a study break.... cause cash disbursements journals are not exactly the most riveting of reading materials.

Earlier this week I was having a chat with one of our interns.  She's engaged to be married but has kept pushing the date back for her wedding in order to lose weight.  She was considering bariatric surgery at one point....which was absolutely frightening.  I understand her concerns, I do... but trying to lose over 100 pounds because you think that you need to in order to look nice in a wedding dress is NOT enough of a reason to do that to yourself.  Besides, she has a good man who loves her now, and how she looks now.  During this conversation she also mentioned that she was petrified to go wedding dress shopping.  She was afraid that nothing would fit, or if it did she would look like a giant puff-ball.  She was worried about the looks that she would get in the bridal shop.  She and her fiance have the entire wedding planned and paid for, the only thing left is her and the dress.  As we are the same size, I offered to bring in my old wedding dress the next day for her to try on.

When she put it on, it fit perfectly.  It zipped right up.  The two of us are the same height so that she doesn't even need to get the dress tailored.  It was as if the dress was made for her.  This is a picture of her in the dress.  The smile on her face is genuine...it is the look of someone who was realizing that all of this wedding stuff was possible for her and that she can look absolutely stunning.  It was a beautiful moment, and needless to say, the dress is now hers.  And I gotta say, for sitting in a closet for 9 years, the dress is in amazing shape.

I'm glad that she now has it.  It feels like a purge for me....like the dress will finally get the happy marriage that it was originally designed to usher in.  But like all purges, I have mixed emotions.... the strongest however is absolute relief...twinged with a little regret. 

In all this purging however, I'm considering another purge of sorts.  I've been urged by many, and its been a running project for a very long time, to write about the Mr.3 saga and put it into book form.  In the back of my head it is this undone task nagging at me.... and I'll have good days, start working on editing and all of that, and then get triggered and actively avoid writing anything for weeks/months.  So in this spirit of purging, what if I purge that idea as well? 

What if I say no?

Its an intriguing and freeing idea.

At the moment I am leading a full AND fulfilling life.  There is this amazing forward momentum happening now....yes, even with my frustration at double-entry accounting. 

I can write a memoir when I retire....cause right now, I'm working to get to that point. 
Living is pretty awesome.

Now.... back to figuring out how to make a trial balance worksheet by hand....

Friday, July 10, 2015

Stupid Little Life Lessons

I am my own worst critic.
And I am not exactly sure if anyone really believes me when I say that because I try to hide my feelings of inadequacy.
They are failings after all.
And my failings should be secret, locked away in a little chest buried deep, deep, deep underground guarded by mythical creatures.

Its Ramadan again, and I can't be sure if my latest upheaval is due to the internal focus that the season invites, or if what is going on in my life is just difficult.  I've lost all perspective. There is definitely an epic battle going on between me and my ego.

Battle of the intellect: I decided to go back to school so that I can sit for my CPA exam.  It is part of my multi-year plan to get myself to the place where I only need to have one full-time job instead of two.  I started last month in the accounting program at Western Governor's University.  I was hoping just to be able to go into the masters of accounting program, but I need to have an accounting bachelors first.  I'm glad that WGU is competency-based, because it means that I can progress through the degree program at an elevated pace.  And thank god it is all online, because not only would scheduling classes into my current obligations be near to impossible, but also....  I think that I would be a nightmare in a classroom setting.  I've reached that point where you've acquired so many pieces of expensive paper that you really feel like people should honor and respect how smart you are.  Feeling entitled is incredibly obnoxious.  So far I've managed to clear out a class a week in my degree plan, which is excellent.  I would like to finish the bachelors in one six month term, which would mean continuing at my current pace....a pace that I'm not sure that I can keep up.  This acknowledgement of my limitations infuriates me to no end.  I submitted my business ethics assignment and they wanted me to revise. I did, but submitting it through the online forum doesn't really satisfy my need to want to slam the paperwork on someone's desk and shout "Here! Are you happy now!?"  I took a pre-test for the intro to accounting class and didn't pass. So I read through the materials, re-took the pre-test and got the same damn score.  I think I keep getting my debits and credits mixed up, because for some reason we have to do double line accounting.... this also makes me want to scream at people. 

I know that the lesson here is that one is always a student, being challenged is good.... but I am psychologically back in that place when during my masters I burst into tears of frustration in my master's program adviser's office.  She had no tissues in her office and just looked at me like I had grown a third head.  She offered no sympathy, just told me that I needed to try harder.
Yeah, I get the message....I still get to be annoyed by it though.

Battle of the harsh-judgy-ness:  I've felt a little ganged-up on at work the past week or so.  I feel like my feelings about these interactions with several members of staff are justified.  The hard part for me is that I haven't been able to let these feelings of being hurt go.  Nor have I been able to let go of the hurt by something my brother said to me carelessly in June.  I really do have a difficult time holding onto grudges and anger.... its exhausting.  I also recently called someone graceless.  They had posted a video of a performance that they did, and I couldn't look at the performance from a place of "hey that's awesome that they were willing to go on stage like that"....  instead I viewed it as "they have no grace, no class, and are trying too hard to look empowered when I suspect that it is all fake".  To make matters worse, I told a couple students about how graceless I thought this person was.  In my role as a teacher I should never have done that.  In my role as a feminist, I shouldn't have put another woman down like that.  In my role as being my true self, I shouldn't have viewed her performance from a place of judgement stemming from some complicated unwarranted competitive-thing I feel with this person.
I've turned into Judgy McJudgerson, and its been haunting me for over a week.  Sadly.... I have more examples than this from the past couple of weeks.  All I feel is shame, and hurt, and tiredness..... and like my head is going to explode.

Battle of perfection: So lets add all of the above and combine it with my regular sense of never being to do enough, act enough, achieve enough... my desire to be perfect in anything that I put my mind to, but trying to hide the fact that I am barely just getting by in everything I'm attempting.  A dear friend of mine looked at my star-chart, a language I really don't fully comprehend yet, and told me that he was surprised at how ambitious my chart says I am.  I'm not surprised....but that's because I live in my own head.  And with my sense of trying to be perfect, I still am and will always be shocked when people tell me how laid-back I seem.  Under normal conditions, I can forgive anyone's mistakes, shortcomings, general humanness..... anyone's that is, except my own.

I wish that I could end this blog post with an upbeat "I'm working on it and am confident that I can overcome all of this".   I can't.  I can only hope that I finish the grant report I'm working in a timely manner and that the pain meds I just took for my headache will kick in soon.

Oh and that I won't suddenly lose it on someone with or without cause.

Monday, February 09, 2015

The significance of anniversaries

Anniversaries are odd things really.  The date alone means nothing, the only importance is the significance that we attach to that date.  February 9th, is just that....a day on the calendar, just being, not doing anything to anyone, benign in all aspects.  Several February 9th's have come and gone with little to no emotional impact upon me at all.... many of those instances resulting in me going "oh, the 9th passed, huh" several days after the fact.

But not this February 9th.  I'm out of sorts today.  Actually I've been out of sorts for several days now....not emotional, or depressed....just feeling ungrounded, living in the ether.  In fact on Saturday I was so concentrated on looking up and all around me, that I forgot I was walking until I came crashing down upon my back steps.  It took almost an hour before I realized that the odd pain on my arm that was nagging me, was due to the fact that I had fallen on it and that it was filled with little splinters of wood.  It wasn't until hours later that I realized my ankle hurt and that I have a muscle on my back/hip area that is cramped and inflamed. 

This distraction doesn't feel manic, or over-burdensome.... rather it is very calm.  While I feel in my body that I've been thinking deeply, my mind has been fairly clear.  Maybe its the weather.  Maybe its hormones, or diet, or sleep, or too much work, or not enough, or ....who knows.  Finding something to blame my out-of-sorts-ness on actually doesn't help anything or anyone. 

Maybe I'm just marveling at the passage of time...and the ineffability of it has finally melted my brain.

On the wall in my bedroom is a picture of two people who I love very, very dearly: my little brother and my best friend.  I see this photo every morning, and while on most mornings I dismiss it as I've looked at it so often, I subconsciously know that it is there.  The photo itself was taken on another February 9th, nine years in the past.  Nine years ago being the date that I married Mr.3.  Eight years ago on this same date marking the last full day that I spent with him, as I took him to the bus station the morning after.  I sent him away with half the rent money and wanting so badly to believe him that he really had found a new job and that he was going back east for training and that he would return.  Wanting anything, everything to feel better in our relationship...as the prior 3 weeks since he had returned home from being in jail for several months had been hell.  I was scared of him, but didn't know that was the emotion I was feeling.  The agitation of waiting in that line with him: his four bags of belongings heavy at my feet, knowing that he was taking too much with him for two weeks; the distance when I looked at him, he was a stranger, hard, angry and annoyed with my presence; and not watching him get on the bus, nor waving goodbye, not even a deep soulful gaze between us.  I was just glad to be out of the bus station.

Looking back nine years ago to the wedding, it all seems like it was play being enacted by others.  Anything that could go wrong did.  I wanted to be married on the 2nd, because the idea of getting married on Groundhog Day made me chuckle.  We couldn't and had to delay a week so that the person performing the ceremony would be in town.  I couldn't afford $500 for a venue, so we tried to find the cheapest places possible....and we kept getting rejected wherever we asked.  We finally ended up getting married in the Hinckley room above the Middle East Center.  At the time, I told myself that it was quaint.  So many moments of our relationship were marked by that building, that it seemed like some sort of cosmic symmetry.  Plus, it was free and they recorded it for us from their overhead video camera.  The invitations were so late back from the printers that we ended up having to print them ourselves on my crappy printer with poor graphics we copied off from the internet.  I had a beautiful dress, which I seemed to wear only for about a hour.  Bouquets and boutonnieres were made by me that morning with $18 of grocery store flowers because I had only $25 left on a credit card to buy them with.  The restaurant I wanted to go after the wedding wasn't an option about 5 days before the as money set aside for the wedding was unexpectedly diverted to regular household expenses as a check for Mr.3 never came in.  Everything I wanted, however modest, got halved under the guise of "compromising", but there really wasn't a choice.  I should have called off the wedding.  I didn't because of my pride.

I used to joke that it was the "cheap as free" wedding....trying to laud up my abilities to make something out of nothing, being resourceful against all odds, the frugal queen pulling off yet another amazing escapade.  I really was trying to make something out of nothing though....and I succeeded.  It is a very hollow victory.

Time is a funny thing really.  Next year I'll be able to say that I was married once, a decade ago.  Classifying things in decades is pretty cool when you think about it.  It adds weight to the life experience gained, or it just highlights your inability to change and adapt.  This adds weight though.  Nine years ago everything felt like it would last forever, but always turned out to be temporary.  Now, that which I would have understood as being temporary will last forever.  At 26, having a friendship that would last into the double digits years was unthinkable.  Making the five-year mark at any place of employment felt like a lifetime.  In fact any five year plan somehow included an entire lifetime's worth of work: I would have my own home, a career, two kids, a new car, and retirement completely planned out, etc. 

Looking at the future from your mid-twenties is exhausting.  Looking at the future from your mid-thirties makes anything seem possible- when the time is right, if the time is ever right, and if the time is never right....then everything will still be ok.

And while I know that everything is ok....I also know that I won't have any tolerance today to deal with those who are caught up in the emotional aspects of the temporary and the permanent.  Change can and does happen, but you have to work towards it.  Crying about it, being horrified by the bad things in the world around us are meaningless exercises if they don't lead you to action.  The past nine years has been marked by action....and progress.  A decade ago, I used to have to call 5 or 6 nearly maxed out credit cards to see if there was $20 available to pay to go out to eat.  Not now.  A decade ago, I was worried that I would never be taken seriously in work, in life, in anything.  Not now.  I feel like I've been working so hard to change and improve my circumstances, that I haven't properly evaluated where I was and where I am. 

That must be the true importance of anniversaries: we attach the significance so that we will always remember, we will always reflect, and we always say "never again"...and we will mean it.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rest in Peace lil' Scooter

Today has been rough.
When I talk to people about my turtles I always talk about how I'm surprised that they have lived as long as they have....that we are cranky men growing old together.  Well, the trio is now just a duo.


Scooter died.



I wish that I could be exact in telling you when it happened.  I thought that he was asleep on Friday morning before I left for work and Kansas City because I could have sworn I saw his leg move when I touched his shell to say goodbye for the day.  It was late when I got home from Kansas City last night and I didn't turn the light on when I touched both Scooter and Zippy's shells when I got home.  This morning I was going to wait until Scooter woke up before feeding the both of them.  It kept getting later and later in the day.  Then Zippy did this noisy and messy fart/poop thing right next to Scooter's head.  Under normal circumstances  he would have been annoyed and moved away.  When he didn't move, I knew that something was very wrong.

Scooter's been sick since November.  He's improved with the addition of a heat lamp, and I got eye drops for him last week.  Earlier this week he was back to his old self almost.  He was wide-eyed, affectionate, excited to see me.....I hadn't seen him that happy for a while.  He must have been rallying before the end.

And now he's gone.
Zippy seems to be handling it better than I am.  Although if I cry in the front room, Zippy gets upset.  I worry about how long Zippy will last after his companion of over 20 years is gone.

Goodbye munchkin.

Thank you for years of unexpected laughs at coming home and finding you in compromising situations.  Like the time you tried to climb behind the bookcase and got stuck, Or the countless times you tried to mount Zippy and it failed....even after it resulted in the need to have you castrated.  You just kept trying and trying.


Thank you for those unbearably cute moments when you were just you.  Like when you would burrow into my dirty laundry because it smelled like me. Or when I was looking for you around the house for hours only to find you stuck inside my tennis shoe.  Remember that time when you got totally strung out after taking a bite out of a philodendron leaf?  We were lucky that you didn't die....and the reverse corkscrew circles that you did for a couple of hours that night seem funny in hindsight....although I was petrified that it was going to be worse.


Or that one time where you were following me around the house and every time I turned around to catch you, you tried to make it look like you weren't following me.  Like I didn't know.... silly goose.



We grew up together. Thank you for teaching me love.



And laughter.

Both Zippy and I are going to miss you.


Love you Scooter.


Monday, January 05, 2015

New computers are almost too pretty to be touched...almost

Got a new desktop this weekend and I finally finished setting it up. It is a thing of beauty...

I didn't realize how much I actually missed being able to work at my desk.

I also reread some of the work I had done on the-book-that-will-never-be-finished and discovered that it was all absolute crap. But there is something to the quiet of the house and sound of keys softly clicking to your touch that can spark the intellect. Four pages later and I now have an introduction to the book that I can be actually proud of. 

I only hope I can feel the same when I reread it later.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Two Men on the Occasion of the New Year

He wears his stress like an undershirt
Mostly hidden
But the outlines are visible
Like a collar peaking out from the edges
He buzzes with it
It jitters in the atmosphere
Bouncing off his shoes
As he tap, tap, taps it off from him
He smiles and giggles
The jokester
The ham

But you can see the sadness in him when he thinks no one is looking.

It makes me ache
I want to soothe it away, make it easier for him
But I can't
He doesn't know that I saw
He doesn't see me
It is not my place

The other wears his calmness like a mantle
Purposely obvious
Like a neon sigh flashing
All surface sparkle
A transparent attempt to be an enigma
Hoping that by surrounding himself with people
That he won't feel alone
A feigned independence
He smiles and rescues
The big brother
The saint

But you can see the sadness in him when he thinks no one is looking.

It makes me ache
I want to soothe it away, make it easier for him
But I won't
He doesn't know what I see
He never saw me
It is not my place




Sunday, December 07, 2014

Life Lessons That I've Learned From my Turtles

1. Even when you're in your thirties, when you're sick, all you want is snuggles from your mom.
2. A warm bath makes everything feel better.
3. Everyone is passive-aggressive to some degree.  Everyone.
4. One of the hardest decisions in life is "Do I stay where it is warm?" or "Do I move to go and get some food?"
5. Silence and a tilt of the head can convey more emotion and meaning than music, art, and literature combined.
6. We all need someone to grow old with.
7. Never underestimate the awesomeness of being able to fall asleep anywhere and in any awkward position.
8. Moustaches are captivating....especially if they belong to Freddie Mercury, Neil Degrasse-Tyson, or Tom Selleck.
9. Unconditional love is limitless and very real.  You can be angry with someone, annoyed, mad, hurt, etc. and not love them any less.
10. There will be days where you just want everyone to get the f#@k out of your way so you can go and hide in the corner...and that is ok.

Sunday, November 02, 2014

An Unexpected Case of the Feels- Somali Edition

Trust me to not be able to sleep on the daylight savings time when we actually GAIN an extra hour.

In my dreams all I could see was the faces of the Somali women I had spent time with earlier in the day.  You see, yesterday was the first day of the healing circle/support group for Somali refugee women that we are doing at my office.  Years ago, when I would present in front of a group I would come down with what I referred to as "stress stomach", but as I present in front of a variety of groups all the time, I rarely get that anymore.  Yesterday, I had an awful attack of it.  I was so nervous.  Talking in front of people....easy.  Talking to and encouraging people to open up about their trauma....frightening.  And it isn't what I am likely to hear that worries me....what worries me is that I don't want to mess this up.  I do not want to let these women down.

And these women.... they are the most brave, are the most beautiful (in all of the complexities that the term can denote) women that I have ever met in my life.  Their strength and resiliency is not able to be compared to mine....not that that is something that should ever be compared to begin with.

This is a new gathering of women for me to work with.  I've presented twice to this particular Somali band before and many of the faces I have seen already.  The goal of this group being to create a space where these women can have a safe place to talk about the trauma in their lives and learn new coping strategies.  It is a pilot project....and I really hope we can make something good of it.  If we can, we can bring this to the other refugee communities, who are vastly under-served in Utah.

Yesterday's meeting was merely an introduction and we had our share of logistical hurdles.  I took notes when everyone introduced themselves, but I can hardly read the names that I wrote.  I had them tell me about their families....who was married, who was not, who had children, grandchildren, how many years they had been in the US...  I may not remember the names of some of these women, but I'll remember their stories....such as the woman with 8 children who had given up counting the number of her grandchildren, but I'm sure she has one for every laugh line in her face.  Or the fact that joking about being happy to be divorced is a pretty universal thing.  Or that when I introduced myself I got asked how long I had been in the US as well.

We had children playing in the background, drawing pictures and practicing their English lettering.  Teenagers hanging out on the couch who got so bored that they started looking at the books on our shelves for something to read....I'm sure that the rape recovery handbooks weren't the type of reading they were looking for.  We even had communal prayer-time.  I had prepared a back room area for that, but when it came time we just gathered all of the blankets in the office and spread them out on the floor....three rows of women all bowing towards Mecca.

I learned that the terms "boyfriend and girlfriend" apply to plural marriage relationships beyond the first wife.  All food is equally shared with the elders being given the food first and then the children....and there are never leftovers. And sometimes.....men return to Somalia because they can't handle not having the absolute control over their wives that they did in their home countries.  I also learned that I severely had underestimated the elder female community leader.  She may get tired after translating for an hour, but she hand-picked the women in that room.  She knows full well what topics they needed to talk about...even with them saying that they had "no problems".  Living in America means no problems in comparison to their past lives in Somalia and in the Kenyan refugee camps.

There is alot of work that I need to complete in the next month.  I need to develop the meeting curriculum, and the entails quite a bit of research.  I also need to research Somalia more.  I can tell you about Rwanda, and the Congo....the histories of Egypt and Northern Africa....but Somalia?  I'm limited to Black Hawk Down and a book called A House in the Sky about a female journalist kidnapped and held hostage there.  Definitely not enough to even begin to understand the historical background of these women's lives.  My heart feels heavy as I begin this research.  In my youth when I spent my time working on the Kurdish cause, I could feel that same heaviness.  The heaviness of pain and regret....the impotence that overcomes you by not being able to do a damn bit about any of it.  Hopefully....this feeling won't last.  This time, I can do something.  I can help shape and improve these women's lives.
I only hope that I am worthy enough for this.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Sorry. Not Sorry.

I've been thinking about blogging for a couple of weeks now....writing and rewriting posts in my head but never typing them up.  Which I should have done, it would have been a decent chronicle of my ups and downs....something better than what I am sure this will end up being.  Sorry, not sorry.

I feel like I think too much.  And I'm not thinking about things that are good....but things on the rather messed up side.  For example, just the other day I had the following dialogue in my head "with all the work and extra hours I've been doing you would think that I would have more free time".  See? Completely irrational.  For the past several nights I've been having nightmares....the kind where your heart is pounding so much that you don't care if the dream signifies anything, you just want to feel safe.  Last night, they were so bad that I just stayed up with the light on until I fell asleep in absolute exhaustion.  Ever notice that when you wake up in the morning after a bout of insomnia that everything still feels like it is in the middle of the night? But at least I didn't feel like someone was standing in the doorway watching me anymore, trying to suffocate me with the bedsheets.

I'm blaming the nightmares on depression.  I've been bottling up my emotions again, because it is safer.  It still feels sad, but ultimately very, very safe.  Recently a friend asked me if I felt like I could ask people to support me.  I know that I do have plenty of people who love and support me.  I have no problems in dropping everything to help out those that I love in need; but I have a mental block in asking those same people to make time for me.  I've been trying to rationalize this out....and I'm not doing a good job of it.  Everyone who I would ask....has other people, people that I would be taking time from if I asked their loved ones to spend some time on me.  I don't want to impose on anyone....because if I impose on them, if I become a burden, they'll leave.  Cause everyone leaves.  I've known this for a very, very long time.  And was just reminded of this by someone who I thought was a friend, who I thought of as family, decided to cut ties abruptly.  I was very angry in the beginning....he's definitely uninvited to Thanksgiving....now I'm just really, really sad...because.....everyone leaves in the end, don't they?  This is probably why I put my heart and soul into institutions and causes....they have a less likely chance of leaving me.

So couple this with the exact opposite of situations....  I've had a couple of odd instances the past few weeks of meeting with people who I've trained in the past.  Meeting with people who are passionate about the work that I do is one of the best parts of my job....however this went over into the hero-worship side of things.  It caught me off guard.  It's good to know that I am doing my job well and that I've inspired people....but I don't think that I'll ever get used to being confronted with it.  I guess that I now know what it feels like when I've done that to people I greatly admire.  I would apologize to them....but I won't.  Sorry, not sorry.  I'm so used to working hard and never really getting recognition of my strengths and attributes that I have no frame of reference in order to handle not being taken for granted.  This is something that I must build.  I'm not sure what that building would look like though.  My instinct is to create something sturdy that I can hide behind to cry in, and then step out from when I need to be in front of people.  Maybe I'm a jack-in-the-box....no one really knows what the jack is doing inside the box....it could be crying, sleeping, plotting or planning....no one really cares as long as it comes out when it is supposed to.  Its not a perfect system, but a functional one until I can find something better.

Because everything has to get better....it just has to.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

my body is an anachronism

trapped in the wrong age, unable to see its value
I’ve been to lands older than the place of my birth and have feltl the pull of time…..
welcoming me back, lulling me home….

I am the Venus of Willendorf
fertility goddess
the ideal of motherhood
bringing forth life to a barren landscape
wanton and wanted

I am the muse of Rubens
Botero’s dream
the void on Lucian Freud’s couch
a living canvas
untamable and wild

I am the mirror of ancestors past
the strong women smiling in a black and white photograph from a pile of memories in my Grandmother’s shoebox
women with my same breasts, same hips, same build
tillers of the land, shelters of my genetic code
my bones, my skin hold the history of ages past
I must find a historian in this world of the now
who will love each inch of me like they love each tome on a dusty shelf in a library
each word read firing like neurons; the lightest touch of a lover’s caress

I will not be ashamed of this body 
for I love it as I love history
and literature
and poetry
I see the magic in my limbs, the grace in its movement

the strength in my narrative

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

That moment when wondering if you were a bad ally means that you probably actually are...

One way to make me truly annoyed is to make me lose sleep over something....I'm so tired on a regular basis that I ususally sleep the sleep of the dead.  However, after playing Clickomania on my phone for the past hour, I'm declaring a loss in this battle and just getting up for the day.  I foresee alot of coffee and/or eating alot of mini-meals to keep me awake in my immediate future....wow...yoga is going to be interesting tonight.

I digress...

What am I losing sleep over?

Last night we began a new 40-Hour Rape and Sexual Assault Advocacy Training at work.  The co-host agency we work with demanded that they do a half hour exercise before the training because they think we aren't doing enough emotional check-ins with the participants.  We've allowed them to do this because as an agency we are open to critiques on how we do things.  After this however, I'm gonna raise some major objections at the next recap meeting.

Normally when we start a 40-hour we do brief introductions and then jump into an overview of rape and sexual assault.  My co-worker indulges me and lets me do the opening for the majority of the trainings.  I hope this means that I am half-way decent and engaging....rather than my co-worker feeling pressured into letting me do it.  I'm trying to not be as tied emotionally to the presentations I do and my performance with them....but the operative word there is "trying".  Because I really do pride myself on being a good presenter, being able to actively engage an audience, and on being able to set an upbeat tone for the rest of the training.  If you have agreed to do 40 hours of training on this topic, you already know that it is going to be difficult.  Honestly, we don't need to make it any harder than it already is.  We do want people to stay and work in the field after all.  Ugh....I'm digressing again....

Last night, we let the representative from the co-host agency do this half hour exercise before the training.  They gave out slips of paper in which everyone had to write down their fears and anxieties about taking the training.  Then they were to talk about them after everyone taped them to the wall at the front of the room.  Even though they had the full half hour they wanted to do the exercise, they didn't finish fully talking about it.  Also, the slips of paper were left up on the wall so others can look at them.  The idea was that this was supposed to create a camaraderie among everyone there.  The reality was that people were triggered, not completely heard, and then the rest of the presenters had to present their information with everyone's fears and anxieties symbolically taking up the wall behind them.

Ugh.

My presentation went ok....but it wasn't up to my usual standards.  I felt like I wasn't really connecting with the group.

When my co-worker went on after me, she got called out on something in her presentation.  She was covering rape myths and discussing the myth that handsome men don't need to rape.  She had a photo of that NFL guy who has been in the news recently for having a victim in pretty much every place he's played.  This man is black.  And the women of color in the room were rightfully upset that the first image that we see of a perpetrator was of a black man.  My co-worker acknowledged that she didn't think of that when adding the photo, acknowledged that it was her privilege that blinded her to the fact it could have been upsetting, and promised that she would remove and/or change the photo.  It was a tense moment, and I think that she handled it well.  While it was unfortunate that the conversation had to be had, it was a good thing that the group felt comfortable enough to bring it up with her.

Shortly after this, I headed home for the evening.  I checked in with my co-worker and things seem to be ok.  The evaluations will be interesting to read. 

While I was attempting to sleep, my brain could not stop noodling over the unease I felt about my presentation.  Why didn't I connect with people more?  And the epiphany moment I had (also the reason why I can't get back to sleep) is that I connected perfectly well....to all the white people in the room.  Before I even started speaking I felt a barrier....which is very unusual for me.  My general nature is easy-going and amiable and I use it to my advantage.  I rarely face hostility in a room (even if I am working with cops- not that cops are hostile- but my subject matter makes them gear up for a possible fight).  The times where I have faced any hostility...the presenter before had had an issue with the audience.

So I began to review that half hour exercise.  The presenter let a white survivor talk for several minutes about how she was worried that her voice wasn't going to be heard, that people would judge her, etc.   An important discussion to have to be sure.  However, when a woman of color raised her hand and said that she was afraid that her race and issues affecting victims of her race where not going to be heard in the training, she was answered with "ah huh, that's a concern too.  Other thoughts?"  She dismissed her completely.  That woman and the other women of color in the room who had nodded in acknowledgement were the people in the audience that I felt I couldn't connect to.  The co-host representative ended with a series of questions that anyone could ask themselves if they were having problems with the content: what? so what? and now what?  The idea being that you identify what is bothering you with the first question.  Look deeper into all that surrounds that issue for you.  And then figuring out what you do with that bit of information to move onwards.  These sound great and all...but just like that half hour exercise, you can't just unload those items and not discuss them fully.  I should also note, that after she completed this exercise....she left for the evening and will not see the group until their Saturday session.

I would like to use her question system to further flesh out my problem-

What?  I witnessed someone actively oppress a group of people and did not react immediately to it or recognize that is what I saw until several hours after the fact.

So what? My awareness counts for shit. 

Now what?  This is where I need help.  Badly.  What can I do about it?  I'm going to raise the issue for sure in our wrap-up meeting.  I will be taking down those little notes when I get into the office today and I'll contact the amazing woman we have presenting on cultural competency to ask her advice and let her know what happened.  But ultimately....it doesn't matter how much I tried to be open and honest in MY presentation, it doesn't make up for the fact that I failed to act when I should have.  Do I apologize for my inaction to those women? Or would that be rubbing salt into a wound?

Friday, May 02, 2014

Really? Who trys to scam a small non-profit with the offer of fake PSAs anyway?

Now I understand that scam artists are unethical by nature, but every once in a while....they still manage to surprise you with what they do.  For example, today in the office we get a call from a gentleman who wants to put up a PSA advertising the sexual violence hotline on two local radio stations in Utah over the Memorial Day weekend.

Its an odd cold call to get, but we do get members of the community that will call the office truly wanting to help out.  So I listen to what he has to say.

Keep in mind.....we do training specifically in my office that teaches individuals about honoring your gut feelings and of specific red flags to look for in predators.

So, he begins by telling me that this is an issue close to his heart as he once dated a woman who was abused, etc.  Typically, someone giving you more information than what is necessary to the conversation is a red flag....it confuses the primary issue and more often than not, it is used to lower your guard and create sympathy.  It's an excellent tool.  You can't do that to an advocate though.....our training makes our brains switch and we aren't feeling sympathetic....rather we are trying to figure out if you need services.  Basically...an attempt to tug at the heartstrings of an advocate turns them into a customer service rep.

I listen to his story....not reacting, but just letting him talk....because an advocate is supposed to be a non-biased active listener.  I'm sure at this point, he's thinking that I'm hooked.
He then reads me the PSA he has written and wants to put on the air.  Its highly impersonal, persuasive- but in a slightly condescending and completely detached from the issue type of way.  It mentions a hotline number multiple times and directs people to donate.  It needs alot of work, but the spirit is there.

Still in advocate mode, I start to tell him that he needs to have a different number.  As I'm starting to give him the correct information, he interrupts me and begins to list a bunch of figures for the air time.

Cause really?  Who calls a non-profit offering a PSA and then 5+ minutes into the call turns it into a sales pitch?

This guy apparently.

Incidentally this bait and switch thing is also a red-flag for a predator.

I wanted to hang up on him, but I didn't...one of us needs to be professional, right?

I tell him that for a large campaign such as this that I need to have board approval and ask if can please email me the figures. 

Guess what?  He doesn't have an email.  A "salesman" in 2014.

He then explains that he is actually a "volunteer", who also happens to have the authority to offer free days of advertising.  When I ask him to tell me the costs again so I can write them down, he prefaces the list (which was different than his first list by the way) by telling me that he's written over a thousand sermons and that he really wanted to marry the abused woman but it wouldn't have worked and so on and so forth.

I wrote down his cell number and told him we would be in touch.
A short internet search later there is a bunch of forum posts confirming just how shady I think this guy is.

He can take his sermons somewhere else.  

Monday, March 17, 2014

Goodbye Grandma- An Incomplete Eulogy

Everytime a person dies, a library is burned to the ground.  -African saying

Grief doles itself out in bite-size chunks
Not allowing you to feel everything at once
Not allowing you to avoid thinking about it at all

Grandma's home smells of her
Her pills are laid out on the dining room table
Freshly cut daffoils in a mason jar
Dishes still in the sink waiting to be cleaned
or put away
I'm not sure which

Her home is a living thing
And a time capsule
It breathes, and coughs, and ages
Photos of my brother and I from varying ages covered in varying amounts of dust are in every room....placed in the midst of photos of her own children in similar ages and covered with similar layers of time
There were calendars up everywhere....most of them for this year, the occasional one from 2012, 1967, 1980...
Her home was a place to watch the time pass
A home that still housed the family members that no longer lived there
My father's books still on shelves, his drawings, the telescope he built but no longer wants

Part of me desperately wants these things.....to take with me all that I ever gave her, made for her, all that was my father.....because in some place in my mind if I kept all these things that I would no longer feel regret at not knowing her better.

In the end, I only left the house with a few books....to save symbolically the library I never really knew

During the viewing this morning, the lighting made it look like she was breathing
Nature sounds playing over the speakers
Crickets and babbling streams
The very appearance of life
Cruel indeed

I sat next to my father then
Our knees touching
The odd comments....when did we see her last? remember when she did this?  that shape of eyeglasses is not her usual, they look good...
I want to know if they leave those eyeglasses on her when they close the lid, or do they gently take them off and put them next to her?

It felt weird leaving the room without shutting the door behind me
Like I was being rude at not respecting the sanctity of a nap undisturbed

If they hadn't told me it was her, I wouldn't have recognized her
Not because she had changed, but because I have no memories of her eyes being closed or not having a smile on her face
Strange the things we think about when someone passes....
My grandmother always smiled when she was around us...a breathless, happy smile
I would tell others of the silly, annoying things that she did when we saw her and I never realized that she was always
Always
Happy to see us
Happy to be near us in the flesh
I never appreciated that

Grandma never aged
She told me once that she was 65
She's been that age for 25 years now
Our parents age, but our grandparents do not
It is only after they die do we realize that their struggles mirrored our own
That they loved and lost, worked and lived paycheck to paycheck, were something separate that the titles that we gave them....mom...grandma
At one time she was a full complex amazing human being
Someone who left a note to herself to water the plants last Thursday
I wonder if that got done



Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Carrying the Donkey....reviewing my word for the year

One of my favorite things about the end of the year is all of those "year in review" articles that circulate the interwebs.  But oddly enough for all of my loving those articles, I've not ever reviewed my last year on the blog.

Don't worry....I am not going to give you highlights, but I do want to review my word for the year, which was strategic.  My intent was that it was supposed to be a word that was to guide all of my actions, and in many ways I think that it did.  I thinned out alot of my extracurricular responsibilities and somehow managed to expand my current ones.  However the past few months of this year, strategic has not been the word of focus, but herculean.  That is how finishing everything has felt- herculean.  Going into work, bathing, finishing tasks, following through on my day-to-day responsibilities....all requiring a level of effort that seems almost impossible to conjure up.  But I've managed.

Those close to me have noticed....and I seem to have a variety of people making comments about how I should drop this thing or that thing, work less, etc.  I get it.  I do.  These are all very well meaning things to say to me.  However, right now....it all comes off as criticism.  That not only am I not managing but that I am doing everything WRONG.  There is a Hodja story that I find particularly appropriate to this situation...

One day Hodja and his son were traveling to a neighboring city.  Hodja felt like walking and allowed his son to ride on their donkey for the journey.  As they were walking people on the road exclaimed "See? Look at the selfishness of today's youth!  That boy is forcing that poor old man to walk! How disrespectful!"

So Hodja decided that maybe it would be better if he rode the donkey and his son walked alongside.  As they continued on their way, more people commented "I can't believe it.  That old man is making that poor little boy walk that whole way!  How rude of him!"

At this Hodja decided that maybe both he and son should ride the donkey, but even then people commented, "Look at those two! Riding on the back of that poor donkey like that! That is animal cruelty!"

Getting frustrated, Hodja then decided that neither of them should ride on the donkey.  That, however, still did not stop people from talking, "Look at those two idiots walking when they have a perfectly fine donkey to ride upon!"

Completely fed up, Hodja then picks up the donkey and puts it up on his shoulders.  "If this doesn't stop people from talking, I don't know what will!"

When I first read this story, I only thought about how people are criticizing others and where do they get off thinking that's ok....blah blah blah.  Which is true.  When I told this story to my boss, her immediate response was "I get that! We keep changing the ways that we do stuff to please other people, but they still keep complaining.  If we make one group happy, another one isn't."  That interpretation has been really resonating with me lately.  No matter what I do, I can't seem to make anyone else happy....least of all myself.  Trying to constantly adapt and change to others people's whims are annoying and slow down progress....but the goal is the same.....just like Hodja,  I am still traveling from one place to another.  Does it really matter how I get there, just so long as I get there in the end?

So while I feel like I am carrying a donkey on my shoulders,  I'm still on the path. For all the struggles, the path is kinda interesting at the moment.  When I was re-reading the strategic post, I was surprised to see that I had written that I was having trouble with the season in general.  This holiday season has been awful for me.  I don't have the Christmas spirit, I don't want to give people gifts, and I've been avoiding all holiday type activities....I've been depressed (I actually took a sick day because I couldn't will myself to leave the house), I've been crying alot and generally emotionally raw.  It's because I'm triggered and have been in an emotionally triggered state for a couple of months now.  So many anniversaries of Mr.3 awfulness, so many feelings of abandonment, loss, and that I will never truly fit in anywhere or with anyone ever again.  These past few months have been awful....and I'm not out of it, I'm still right in the middle of it....and I will be, for a while.

When I first thought of writing this post, I was going to suggest changing my annual word in acknowledgement of my failure to let it guide me.  After deeper thought (and can I just say that the amount of thinking I've been doing lately is exhausting!) I realized that I am where I am at the moment because I have been strategic.....very much so.  By working earlier in the year by really asking if everything that I was doing was really serving me....I created a situation of stability-financially and emotionally.  A place where I can actually have the space to deal with all the boxed up issues I've got. 

Now the best-case scenario out of this would be able to continue the work that I am doing without taking much more criticism from others, because carrying a donkey is hard enough as it is. 
I'm trying folks, I am. 
But no, I don't want to talk about it. 
Yes, I am making sure that I am ok and will see a professional if I feel that I need to. 
Yes, I am going out and doing non-work related things but no, there are times when I need to stay in and work because bills don't go away if you are depressed. 
No, I'm not being "too nice" to others, that is just my leadership style. 
No, I'm not being too hard on you, I just have a low tolerance for your bullshit, excuses, and lies (and lying is a major trigger for me so if you are caught in one, run for the hills). 
Yes, I believe that honesty is the best policy but if your really don't want an honest answer to your question, you should perhaps rethink asking me that....because as you can see....I lost my "tact" filter a few miles down the road.
Yes, I will let you know what I need....whenever I figure out what that is.
No, I am not being evasive on that question, because I really don't know what I need right now.
And yes, if I said that I would do something, I will.....but the timelines may not be on your schedule, and sometimes, depending on the day, may not be on mine either.