Apr 16

Sometimes the Shit Hits the Fan

So, the shit is hitting the fan in my life, again. I wasn’t going to write about it, but like all of my best ideas, I told Tina and she pointed out to me that I was right and stupid for not doing it before.

I hate that it feels like I only blog when things are bad. Let’s be honest though, I’m not an interesting enough person to keep writing ‘the Viking makes me incredibly happy, I’m struggling with my mental health issues, and I love my parents but they are driving me a bit nuts’ over and over again without boring even myself. Also, I was busy with #YesAllDaughters. It was an amazing, empowering time working with amazing empowering women.

Interesting mental health side note: there are now genetic tests to see how your body will react to medications, and my shrink had one done for me. It turns out my body was not absorbing my main anti-depressant, and now we are trying new medication more suited to my genetics. I’m pretty gobsmacked that this is even a thing. I’ve been on the new medication for almost a month now. I really can’t gauge how it is working though because…. you guessed it, shit is all kinds of fucked up right now.

The past two/three years have been really hard on my dad health wise. The last six months have been even worse. Right now, he is in the hospital and has been there for two weeks. It has been rough. My dad is a strong, stubborn man. He is a fighter. It means he lives through a lot of things which normally kill other people. It also means my mom, my sister, and I have seen him very near death many times, felt the terror, and then reconciled with the fact he was okay afterwards.

One would think this would mean it would induce less intense reactions each time, or we would become numb to it.

No. Not even a little bit.

We have accepted the fact he is not long for this earth. We have had the quality of life discussions. We have talked and planned about what would happen after. It is all helpful. Being able to talk to each other openly and having an idea of how we are going to handle life after helps the fear of how we will get along without him. But, the actual nitty-gritty of watching him go through this still fucking sucks. It is still traumatic as hell. Sometimes it hurts so bad you can barely breath.

Some days are okay. Today is an okay day. I’m being lazy. I have a ton of shit I HAVE to do. I want to do several nice things for my mom since she is coming home for the night tomorrow night. If it were just things for the Viking house, I would blow it off, but this is for Mom. She has been strong, brave, loyal, loving, and simply amazing. I want her to come home to a house with clean floors and possibly scones. I want her to have something nice. It’s almost 5pm and I haven’t moved to do any of it. I’m actively making myself okay with it. It doesn’t matter if this stuff is done at 6pm or midnight. Self care says taking the time to drink tea and write this is okay. Since this is an okay day for me, I’m kind of enjoying it.

Yesterday, on the other hand, was not an okay day. I had just as many troubles getting around and doing stuff, but it was for a different reason. I HAD to go to the hospital to bring my mom things. I was trying to be good. I was trying to be strong. It took me 15 minutes to put on pants because I started ugly crying three times during the process. I’ve never been particularly fond of pants, but normally I can successfully put them on without snot-faced crying. I snot-faced cried in the shower, while I drank my tea, and during practically every other activity I did yesterday until I got to the hospital. I only cried a little once and managed to make my sister feel bad by accident, which makes me feel like a douche.

Today, I find the pants thing funny. I’m also trying to be okay with the insane crying. I’m telling myself by allowing myself those bad days and moments the emotions can get out and not blindside me later when all the other emotions are trying to come out in a gross flood of tears and snot. (When I say ugly cry, I mean UGLY cry with the red face and runny nose and the weird hiccup-y choking sounds.) I still feel like a douche for making my sister feel bad.

Right now, I’m hoping dialysis can clear his body of enough toxins that he can become more lucid. I have a voice recorder in the room with him. My greatest wish right now is to catch him lucid enough to record him talking about how much he loves mom and his grand babies. If I can get some extra stories on tape, I would love it, but the love note to Mom is the very most important thing. I don’t want to forget my dad’s voice. I remember his stories. I have a few pictures of him, but I need to have his voice. I should have done this sooner, but I’m refusing to beat myself up over what I should have done. It’s pretty damn pointless. Please, all the Powers that Be, let me get his voice on recorder.

I’m out of tea and those floors won’t mop themselves. (Why don’t we have self mopping floors yet, damn it?) and I really want to make those scones. I just wish I didn’t have to put on pants.

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Apr 14

A Different Definition of Good

Sunday, I realized there are many definitions of good.

Understand as I write this, my sense of days and time have become exceedingly skewed. The point of the story isn’t strictly the details or even the chain of events. The point of the story is the people. The point of the story is love.

This weekend the Viking and I were supposed to be celebrating our third anniversary. It was going to be an adult sized, grown up affair with good meals and affection. It is sort of exactly what happened but not in any way we had planned.

A couple of Saturdays ago, my father tripped on some loose tile I had never gotten around to pulling up. He got x-rays, bad bruises, lots of missing skin, but the all clear on anything more serious.

The next weekend, he collapsed. He had torn his spleen and was bleeding internally. The doctors told us they were giving him some medicine, but they could not do any type of surgery. He would either stop bleeding and have a chance or not. A few days later, we found out he decided to stop bleeding. I didn’t know it that day, though, and as soon I was alone enough to drop brave face, I called my Viking and lost it. He came to me the moment he could, got nutritious food in my body, and bought food for my mom. He helped me take care of my momma.

Days passed. Some where good. Some where not so good. I got to spend one really good night with Dad. Saturday things looked not so good. I got the call to come in. My dad told me he was worried he was going to die without seeing me again. I felt too tired to stay long and spent the entire drive home trying not to completely lose it. I got home to my Viking. My heart wanted to be with dad, but I couldn’t do it alone. My Viking got dressed, drove me up there to be with my family. I didn’t have to worry about driving, and I had a hand to squeeze when I needed to chin up, brave face, handle it.

Sunday, we arrived at the hospital in time to find my dad’s room filled with nurses and doctors hurriedly taking tests, making phone calls, and saying things I couldn’t quite hear in the tones reserved for serious business. I stood in the hallway and watched my father as they swarmed and scurried while he trembled uncontrollably and wretched. I heard the doctor put a pad over his heart to get it beating in sync again. My Viking sat quietly in the hallway while tears poured down my face, touching me when he sensed I needed it but never trying to pull me away. That was my daddy, and I was going to watch and listen for any scrap of information I could hear.

Later, after the swarm dissipated and my dad was stable, I realized my parents were too tired for us to be there. My Viking took me keyboard shopping, and, again, he drove me to my parents’ house to check on things and pick things up even though it was about an hour more of his life spent in his car round trip. It meant it was 40 minutes I could ride safe and able to think. I picked up my big computer. He offered to let me bring home my dog. He just desperately wanted me to be okay.

Later that night, he stood in the middle of the kitchen after an ambush hug and said something in a sad tone about it being a bad anniversary for me. I thought for a second.

With my hands on the sides of his face, I explained it was a good anniversary. Nice meals and fun alone time is easy for relationships. I knew we could do those. It’s when the shit gets real, the times you really need your mate, that the love a couple shares is truly explored. I learned, I mean really learn, the depths of our connection. To be trite, our bond got tested by fire. There is no doubt, he is my mate, and he is exactly what I need.

By that definition, our anniversary was good. When things go tits up in life, we are a team. I’ll take that over a fancy dinner any time.

 

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Jan 06

This Whole Life Thing with All Its Crazy Bits.

Life is a strange thing.

Directly after my birthday I got involved with a group doing something I believed in with my whole heart. I would like to write about it, but I’m not sure if that would be a good thing for the group or not. I suspect I will be writing a blog soon about that adventure. So, there was all of November.

I got the flu in December, TWICE. I had holiday projects to finish. My Viking had his birthday. We had more medical things with my dad. Basically, I spent December either dying, in a medical facility for my father, or crocheting. I had nothing left.

Some of it was invigorating. I felt like I had purpose again. I felt like I fit again. This group and the people in it filled with my life with love and something I felt was so very meaningful. Some of it was just exhausting. Having the flu twice is cruel and unusual. Trying to balance family and my other new purpose was a struggle at times, especially since balance has never been a strong point. Actually, I fail miserably at it.

I started feeling more and more like a failure and disappointment. I started feeling my paranoia that I had done something wrong, and my new social justice warrior friends no longer liked me or needed me. I started worrying my Viking was losing interest in me. I started missing Tina even more, and I felt even more like I was a terrible friend to her. God, I’m needy. I’m too needy, and no one likes a needy person. I’M A BAD PERSON.

I started to feel like I was useless. My house is a mess. I don’t have a traditional job. I haven’t been writing, and I had blow all chances of this site being a success. I should be making more soap. I should be doing more. I should just be more in general. Why am I such a lazy, waste of a human being. I’M A BAD PERSON

Boom.

Depression is a fuck face, but if I realize it’s depression, I can cope. I can work my way through it. I know when I’m like this, I look at life through depression goggles. (They are like beer goggles because they make the world look different and increase your chance of making a dumb mistake, but depression goggles are far less likely to get you laid.) My friends still probably like me well enough. My Viking still loves me.

I don’t know that I will ever feel like I’m enough. I don’t know if I’ll ever feel like I’m not wasted potential or a failure in some way or another. It might be something I struggle with for the rest of my life. I have no answers for it.  I might need to learn to accept it and move on. No one ever feels like they are enough in at least one element in their life. Maybe I can’t fix that. I can probably learn to accept it though.

So, right now while I have this depression with me, I’m just going to have to tell myself everyone knows I’m a mess within in minutes of knowing me. Everyone knows I’m crazy. Everyone knows I get needy. They choose to stay. They choose to stay because I’m loving, funny, weird, and I’m wonderful in ways I don’t think I know. Also, I think they love me because I post pictures of my messy ass house.

OOOO I found the coolest duct tape! I love cool duct tape!

I think my obsession is borderline insane.

I think my obsession is borderline insane.

 

 

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Nov 05

Again with the Reflections on my Birthday

The first and only earthquake I ever felt was on my thirtieth birthday. It was a pretty clear signal my thirties were going to be fascinating.

My thirty-first birthday was the first time my parents met the Viking, and I fell even more deeply in love with the man. I already knew he was my mate, but I also knew it was going to take him longer to be comfortable with the idea that the beautiful, loving, smart, passionate, crazy tornado which had swept into his life adding chaos was there to stay. Two years later, I’m even more of a chaos tornado, and I’m still there.

My thirty-second birthday was one of the hardest I remember. My mom had had her bionic knee put in, and we were all stressed, exhausted, and incredibly depressed. Our lives were swamped in this miasma of hopelessness and stress. My sister, though, was really special. She got me tickets at a super fancy theater to Catching Fire and bought me a cupcake. I think I will try to focus on that in my memory.

When I woke up this afternoon, Mom asked me how 33 feels. I started to shrug and make the standard comments like “after a certain age it doesn’t matter,” but I realized I was lying. Thirty-three feels happy. It feels hopeful. Other birthdays have been depressing or stressful because I’ve always felt so behind, but not this year.

This is the cake Mom and I made together. I had such a good time with her. Also, it's pink.

This is the cake Mom and I made together. I had such a good time with her. Also, it’s pink.

This year I feel like I’m standing at the beginning or at a renewal. Right now, I feel happier, prettier, saner, and more powerful than I have in years. I feel like my creativity is glowing out of me. I feel like when I walk into a room, I belong there, and  I have as much right as anyone to be there. I feel like being in this skin, in this body, and in this brain is not only where I belong but is also a strong, wonderful place to be.

I feel brave again. Thirty-three feels brave.

I feel like I survived thirty-one and thirty-two, and maybe thirty-three is the year to thrive.

Thirty-three is the year to kick some ass and change the world.

Tina took this with her phone yesterday. I felt so pretty yesterday for no apparent reason. It was lovely.

Tina took this with her phone yesterday. I felt so pretty yesterday for no apparent reason. It was lovely.

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Oct 29

The Viking Home

Oh, my dear, sweet, Gentle Readers, life is different for me know. I’m slowly moving out into the middle of nowhere with the man I love. I feel different. So many things around me are different. I am happy.

The Viking and I are setting up my office. It is also my bed room. Yes, I know normal couples sleep together every night, but I go to bed between 4 and 6 am. Also, sleeping is serious business. It will also double as a guest room. He and I do things our way. Mostly, though, he is a magnificent human being and wants me to feel loved and like I’m home. Anyway, he came home with the “guest” bed. These are my sheets.

These are my monkey sheets.

At one point after I made the bed, I was bouncing on it singing a song I was making up about my monkey bed. I make being child-like look cool?

We haven’t painted it yet, but I want three walls to be the color of the ocean from his pictures of vacation. Being on the water with him felt like the beginning of endless opportunities for adventure for us. Also, one night we were on deck, and we looked into the true dark of the ocean and world beyond the bright lights of the ship, and an intense, primal fear and loneliness washed in. Without realizing it, I reached out for his hand and held it, and the deep dark didn’t seem as scary.

I never this blue existed in nature outside of stones. This is the blue.

This blue. I only ever thought it existed in nature in stones.

Mostly, though, the changes in my life seem to be in me. My father was in the hospital before I left on our trip. For the first time in many years, I chose me. My parents wanted me to go, but before that moment, no matter their insistence, I would have stayed. I’m not saying I’m some super good person, we all know that isn’t true, but I am co-dependent as hell and afraid of being a disappointment. I live with the specters of being called selfish or self centered in my childhood and teenage years. Then, that night in New Orleans walking around by myself having my own adventure and realizing I have to be the one who decides my life. I chose to have the Viking beside me. I chose to compromise for both of our happiness. But, I am only any good for him ore anyone else in my life if I am an advocate for me.

I’m happy, and I’m content. I love when I’m in the Viking home I get to wake up and work to build our lives. I’m working for me and for us. My life finally gets to be about things that are important to me. A long(ish) while back, Tina told me I had to stop saying I was living in my parents house helping them out while I worked on my writing. She told me it was a lie that I had to stop telling myself.  That bit of truth nearly ended me. It felt like a failure, and I felt like a failure. In reality, I was helping my family through a rough time. I lost who I was there for a little bit. I feel myself coming back now though. I feel me slowly re-emerging in the Viking home.

I hope it doesn’t sound like I think my parents are anything but wonderful, because they are. I also would never go back and change anything. They would do anything for me, and love me with all of their hearts. They also gave me love and safety when I needed it most. They gave me a place to figure out who I was and a chance to know them. I just never could make myself a priority here. Here I am Selina, doer of things, caretaker extraordinaire, handler of shit. That is fine. it is who I needed to be then, but it doesn’t lend well to writing.

You have to be able to be selfish for writing. You have to be able to say no to things. You have to be able set your own best schedule, or at least have some control over some chunks of your time (like having free time after work). I couldn’t do that. Between doctor visits, errands, care taking, and snide comments about my hours, I haven’t been able to go to sleep at 5 am and sleep until 2pm in years. I was always on call to bandage, medicate, feed or handle some minor emergency.

At the Viking house, I wake up everyday and I want to get stuff done. I desire to be productive. It isn’t a thing expected or required of me; I’m excited to start projects, and I take pride in the things I do. For my birthday, the Viking is getting me soap making supplies. I can’t wait. I might even have Geek Goddess soap for sale. Who knows! I dream about my characters.

I’m losing weight. I’m not having to do big deal, life changing, decisions. I drink far more water because it makes me feel better. I eat better because I feel better when I do. Sometimes I eat really unhealthy, and I don’t feel guilt. I move more because my body feels better if I do. I’m also not always a bundle of stressed all the way the fuck out. It helps.

I think I’m going to having dance breaks through out my day at the Viking home. I love dancing. I dance much like I imagine a drunk toddler would, but it makes me happy. Instead of telling myself I have to do this exercise DVD or ride a stationary bike for so long, I’m going to scour the interwebs for dance tutorials and dance until I’m tired. A few hours later, I’ll do it again. I might not even keep track of how long I do it for. I will just celebrate when I can dance more and for longer periods of time then when I started.

I think I like that attitude for pretty much everything in my life, instead of focusing of what is wrong or bad, celebrating what I am doing and what is good.

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Oct 16

For Sarah

Tuesday we put our dog Sarah to sleep.

Sarah was 16 and a half years old. Most of those years she spent with us. I’m not going to pretend I loved Sarah with my whole heart. Most of the time my affection level for her hovered between tolerance and mild annoyance. She was a sibling, not a pet. Her mom, Sofie, was one of the greatest dogs we ever owned, and she had three litters of puppies. All of Sofie’s line lived extremely long lives including Sarah and Chloe, who my father still mourns years later. She really was family.

We’ve known it was time for awhile now, and my father finally admitted it. She was fragile, senile, tired, and in pain. My heart broke for her everyday until I stepped in a puddle of pee or a pile of crap, She didn’t know where she was well enough to go outside often. (Besides, I can’t see anyone motivated to go outside to pee at 116) Well, honestly she didn’t move much for anything. It was cruel to keep her around when her life was a fog of misery and lonely cluelessness. I think her live had to be a special Hell, and we were being kind and taking care of family.

That thought sustained me through calling vets to find out who could take care of her that day. I was fine while Mom was gathering her up and  holding her in the truck ride and while mom held her while I dealt with the paper work. She was terrified and started barking and whining for the first time in weeks. I reached over to pet her and I started to tell her everything was going to be okay. My voice caught as I realized what I was saying. Logically, I knew I was right, but my heart hurt.

I was killing my dad’s dog. I was killing a family member.

When my dad came in after work, I told him. He asked us not to tell him when we were going to take her, He knew it was going to happen; he just didn’t know when. He started to cry. We will be in mourning for a bit.

Once when I was a teenager, I asked my dad “If we were on a sinking boat with Chloe and Sarah, who would you save? Me or the dogs?”

My father, who I idolized, looked me dead in the eye and very seriously answered,”Girl, that is why I taught you how to swim.”

She was a good dog in her way. She took care of my father. She was fierce. Before she lost her mind, she would knock the crap out of Dad’s boy dogs. The things that annoyed me about her were my failings and not hers. And, truly she was more like a sibling.

I still feel like randomly and awkwardly blurting out “I killed my dad’s dog.” It feels like penance, but it gets me strange looks.

Dad has two boy dogs to help him through. I only have a picture of one:

He is a handsome fellow

He is a handsome fellow

I might not be firm on what I believe happens when we die, but I know if there is Heaven, dogs go there, because if dogs aren’t good enough to get in, no human stands a chance.

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Oct 06

Blessing

Hell, Grand Cayman

I actually took this picture on our vacation. I should have gotten my passport stamped.

Today, I’m taking a deep breath and counting my blessing. The past two years of my life have been difficult. The past year has been extremely so. I’ve spent it either in the rush of whatever current emergency I was in, trying desperately to rest up from the last emergency, or trying to tell myself everything was okay and being a good girl and moving on.

I find myself trying to minimize it all in my head and force myself not to allow myself the space to recognize what we went through as a family. I’m going to work to stop myself from doing that. I learned a long time ago that if I “cowboy up” and suppress things, I pay heavily for it later. We went through Hell. I spent a lot of time banging my head on a wall, sometimes not so metaphorically.

But, today, I count my blessings.

My father is healthier than he has been in years. More importantly, he has the dedication to do what what it takes to stay that way. It fills my heart with so much happiness to see him like this. After being so sure I was going to lose him, spending the day with him yesterday doing something we love to do together is a gift from God, the Universe, whatever you believe. It was also a gift from modern medicine. A lot of it, though, was a gift of a sure force of will from Dad. The blessing is recognized and counted.

I have my Viking who is my partner, my best friend, and the love of my life. We aren’t perfect. We have our issues, and we are far from a normal couple, but we are taking the time to learn how to handle being not perfect and having issues. Being a normal couple sounds boring as shit and like something we should never ascribe to anyway. I love my wonderful and strange man and our wonderful and strange relationship. (He finds that I giggle at farts charming. Where else am I going to find that?) These blessings are counted and recognized.

I was describing one day how luck I was that I have friends who understand my weird little things and my anxieties which always feel huge. I feel so weird and so flawed all the time, and I have these people who love me anyway. They love me even though I hate the phone and never call, and I can’t focus long enough to send texts. They know that I love them and care for them. They get me, and they forgive me. They support my writing and make me feel like my writing is important. They make me feel like they care that I have things to say and write. It means so much to me and drives me. Sometimes, they sense I need out into the real world and stop letting me make excuses and pull me out of my world into something wider. Y’all are the blessing of a life time.

I started writing again last week. I didn’t write a whole lot. My production was piteous compared to what it was before I had to take the year off, but it took me awhile to get to that level of production, and it might take me a bit to get back to that level of production again. I have to focus on the fact I am producing again. Most importantly, I reclaimed that piece of myself again. I feel like I’ve handed myself over to the people in my life. I’ve pushed down my dreams and what I want to take of others and do what needs to be done. Writing is a little piece of taking that back. I feel like I had faded, but now I’m returning. This blessing is big and counts for a lot

It’s still life. Shit still happens.Who knows how long this will last. I plan on grabbing hold of it and try to squeeze everything I can. I think that is the only way you can live.

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Sep 27

Hate and Bigorty are Not the American Way.

So, I’m going to say somethings that will piss people off, but my give a shit is broken.

Be a bigot if you want. That is absolutely your choice.

Stop telling people it is because you are a patriot or a good Christian. You are being neither. We believe in freedom of religion in this country.  I know it’s pesky. It is probably not your favorite amendment. Well, most religious bigots I know are avid gun people. (I’m NOT saying all gun owners are bigots. As a gun owner, I believe it is far from true, but it is a sad coincidence for gun rights groups that sometimes your most vocal participants happen to be xenophobes and bigots.) If we even THINK about touching the Second Amendment, these same people who forget all about the First Amendment, will lose their fucking SHIT. You take one, you take them all.

Another thing, please don’t post something insanely hateful about another religion, sexual orientation, race, or anything else, and then claim Christianity. I may have my issues with organized religion, but I really, really want to believe Jesus was a cool guy with some lessons everyone should live by. (Loving one another, caring for one another, that sort of thing, not the man being dominant. I could point out history that shows in the early church women were treated with more equality, but I doubt people would listen.) If we are to judge a faith by it’s believers, you aren’t showing Jesus’ love you always speak about. Stop giving your own religion a bad name.

Okay, for the argument that Muslims are terrible. I don’t accept that. But, for argument’s sake let’s say, all Muslims are terrible people wanting to kill Americans, it still doesn’t give anyone else the right to to harm, bully, or attack Muslims who have not committed a crime. Also, again, look to your own religion. I’m pretty sure Jesus doesn’t say love one another unless they are different than you.

Another thing that makes my head FUCKING EXPLODE. America is not a Christian nation. A true patriot respects and fights for the right for others to hold and practice their own faith. I’ve used my next argument in several conversations, and it gets instantly ignored. This isn’t something I’ve read on the internet or just thought up myself. This is actual FUCKING fact. I may not know everything about history, but I do have a damn degree in it, so I do know something. Several of our Founding Fathers we hold dear, some of the one’s we hold most dear actually, were NOT Christian. They were Deist, not Christians. If the men who wrote the fucking Constitution where not Christian then they CLEARLY did not mean religious freedom for only Christians.

Also, believing Muslim extremist represent all of Islam is like saying the KKK and the people who beat and kill people in the name of Jesus represent all of Christianity.

I sit quiet so much, believe me I actually do, and I know others who do, too, because we believe others have the right to their own beliefs and freedoms no matter how distasteful I find that belief. The problem is, I’m seeing more and more people acting on their bigotry. I can’t sit quiet through that. That would be un-American of me.

I wish we lived in a different world where people did love others, care for others, and respect others. I can’t believe anymore that we do. All I ask is please, please, please if your heart is filled up with that hate, don’t act on it. You are not making the world better. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Just, please.

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Sep 17

Mexican Lung Chupacabras

I went on my vacation with the Viking. It was the best time of my life. I think most people would have to work hard to have a bad time with the same vacation I had. The hotel in New Orleans was wonderful, and the cruise was gorgeous. I think what made it the best time of my life was being with my Viking and remembering parts of me that I’ve forgotten in the past few years of the constant care giving.

He is handsome and he is mine. This was on Cruise Prom Night (the first Elegant Dining night). Everyone packs into the lobby in front of the restaurant and gets stalked by photographers.

I got a sunburn on our very first stop

I'm somewhere out there with a floppy red hat getting sunburned even though I left that luscious water to reapply sunscreen. And, yes, that is my Viking wearing long pants and hiking boots on the beach.. in Jamaica.  I want to make fun, but guess who didn't get a sunburn

I’m somewhere out there with a floppy red hat getting sunburned even though I left that luscious water to reapply sunscreen. And, yes, that is my Viking wearing long pants and hiking boots on the beach.. in Jamaica. I want to make fun, but guess who didn’t get a sunburn

The next day we went to Grand Cayman, and I held a sea turtle at their sea turtle farm. I’m obsessed with sea turtles so getting to hold one and rubbing its neck to calm it down was an amazing experience for me. Note you can see my sunburn from the day before.

Holding a sea turtle on Grand Cayman

You can see me flipping all the way out about talking to the little dude.

The last excursion day was in Mexico. The Viking and I went to the Mayan ruins in Tulum.

They were, once again, stunning.

They were, once again, stunning.

Tulum was one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The beach is ranked one of the most beaches in the world and the ruins were astounding, but it was here I met one of these:

I blame the fucking iguanas.

I blame the fucking iguanas.

The evening after our visit to Mexico, I started feeling sick. I thought it was allergies since we were so near to Louisiana at the time, but I kept getting sicker. I called it the Iguana Flu.

The sinus part of my sickness felt better after a week but my chest stayed wonky. Actually, it was getting worse. I was coughing, my chest was very congested, and it burned when I breathed. Finally, oh, three weeks later, I went to the express care part of our local medical conglomerate. The PA, who was about seventeen years old, was very good and prescribed some strange medicines including Tessalon Pearls (I don’t know if they sound like expensive jewels or sex toys) and cough syrup I have been informed is the main ingredient of ‘purple drank.’

I dragged my sick ass through Wal-Mart while waiting for my medicines and picking up things the family needed. The clinic called me to tell me I didn’t have walking pneumonia. When I got home I had some drama to deal with. At some point in the middle of it I texted the Viking ‘My life is ridiculous. Sane people don’t live this way.’ It was melodramatic, but I have big boobs, and I let him touch them, so he was okay with it. Anyway, I had just figured I would rest as much as I could and take my medicine because the PA seemed pretty not worried about my condition, and I pretty much forgot about it.

This morning, I woke up to a phone call from the clinic. They wanted me to go into see a primary care doctor to the point of nearly insisting I let them set me up an appointment right then (I’m uninsured and that shit is expensive so I said no). They also asked me if I got my new medicine. I stumbled and mumbled something about I got my medicine I left with the night before. Apparently, they called me in MORE medicine this morning, but I didn’t know because I hadn’t checked the voice mail the robo-voice left me from Wal-mart pharmacy. The woman sounded very flustered and concerned. Before she hung up the phone she actually said not to hesitate to got to the emergency room if my symptoms get worse. I assured her I was fine.

I checked my voice mail and found out they had indeed called me in more medicine. As the sleep stupids cleared and my medicine kicked so my brain could work, I got to thinking about what just happened. I have never gotten a call like that the next day from a clinic. I brushed off the order for a follow up visit as standard practice, but then I realized I’d never had a doctor call in more medicines the next day or tell me to not to hesitate to go to the emergency room if I got feeling worse. I had a serious ‘what the fuck’ moment.

I’m left wondering what the hell is wrong with me. My bet is on Iguana lung flukes, but the Viking swears I have Mexican Lung Chupacabras.

At least now I have ALL the drugs.

 

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Sep 07

Consent

So, we’re having this conversation, AGAIN.

 

The Google defines consent as permission for something to happen or agreement to do something. Sounds pretty straight forward, right? Why do we keep botching it up, then?

Let me lay it out in pretty simple terms: if the other person does not say “yes” or is too incapacitated to say “yes” then consent does not exist. Any action committed without an express yes OR enthusiastic, non-coerced participation is assault.  The rule is no longer “No means no.”

I give the old campaign credit as a good step to bring awareness to date rape. I think it was probably the first time the term date rape entered popular consciousness.  I listen to stories my mother tells of the 70’s in horror. Women had no term for the crimes men were committing against them.  They knew it felt it was wrong but they had no way to fight it. “No means no” started a national conversation about consent and sexual assault, but it is time to move forward.

This is an awesome TedTalk by a woman who was one of those first warriors against domestic violence and rape. Give it a watch.

So, what next?

We teach consent. We currently teach girls all about date rape and how to try to keep it from happening. I remember when I first moved into my college dorms, they gathered us all up and taught us about how to protect ourselves. I know all about not accepting drinks from strangers, going out in pairs, and yelling ‘fire’ instead of ‘rape’ if I’m being assaulted because people are more likely to get involved. Society has told me never to go out in big cities alone at night. Trust me, all women know the rules, and by the time you are my age, we all know women who didn’t follow them and paid the price. We also know women who followed them and paid heavily, too.

In 2009, I went to Anaheim, CA for Blizzcon. Tina and her husband also went, and every night after the convention shut down, I got invited to parties but since Tina and her husband wanted to, you know, have couple time, I passed. I went back to my hotel room every night and read while the world around had a geek party. Smart women don’t go to parties alone in strange towns. That’s how we get raped.

In August, I went with my Viking on vacation. We spent two nights in New Orleans before boarding our cruise ship. The first night everyone crashed after the twelve hour drive. I woke up in the early evening while everyone was asleep. I love New Orleans. I could hear the life going on in the streets below us, but everyone was asleep. Smart women would have stayed in the room or maybe ventured through the hotel. I decided I love my Viking but watching him snore was not how I wanted to spend one of my precious nights in New Orleans. I wrote him a note, made sure I had my cellphone, split my cash up amongst several places, and I went to have an adventure.

It was one of the most magical nights of my life. I wandered around watching street performers (and the crowds). I took precautions like keeping my back to walls when I could. I watched the people around me. I made eye contact to telegraph I wasn’t easy prey. I got back to the hotel room safely. If something had happened, though, if I had been assaulted, people would have blamed me in the back of their minds, no matter how much they didn’t want to, because I dared to leave my hotel by myself. I was being a stupid woman.

What are we teaching boys and young men? I know my college didn’t have the same sit down with the guys. We don’t teach boys they can be raped or sexually assaulted, too. We don’t teach them it isn’t their fault if they are. We don’t teach boys and men it is not okay to touch a woman without her permission. We don’t teach them women don’t owe them sex. You are not a nice guy if you get mad at a woman for not rewarding you with sex simply for behaving like a decent human being. We don’t teach boys and men it is not okay to post pictures women and girls send them of their bodies, no matter what happens between you and the woman/girl in question. (We do tell girls it is their fault for trusting men with intimate things. Think about how messed up it is to realize as a society we teach girls and women it is stupid and risky to trust men not to hurt them and blame them if they do get hurt.)

We need to teach girls it is okay to have sexual desires. We need to teach them they have control over their bodies. They can give or not give other permission to interact with their bodies, and there is no shame in it. We need to teach them if somebody does break the sovereignty of their bodies, the other person is at fault. If we took the shame from sex for girls and young women, the murkiness of some of those “gray” interactions that often get pointed to will disappear. (She said yes then regretted it the next day. It’s a bullshit excuse but if a girl has no shame in saying yes, then she can’t be accused of regretting it later.) A girl should be just as confident in saying yes without social recrimination as she is in saying no.

Boys need to learn girls are humans, not things to be acquired or conquered. We need to teach them no women is obligated to ever do anything with them. They also need to know they never have to do anything they don’t feel comfortable with. Social pressure is just as strong on boys as it is girls. We need to explain the idea of coercion, and pressuring women into saying yes nullifies the consent. We need to teach both genders about how our bodies belong to us. We get to say what others do to us, and if we do things to another person’s body without consent (not just they don’t say no, but they actually say yes) then we are hurting them. We are violating them on a basic and intimate level. We are taking their power from them. Even small transgressions we might see as harmless are not harmless.

When someone touches you after you make it clear you don’t want them to, it takes your power away. The person doing the touching is signaling their desire to grope you is more important than your bodily sovereignty. It sucks. I’ve had several men decide they wanted to either reach up my skirt or down my shirt and ignored my clear signals they weren’t welcome. I would tell them no and move their hand, and still the hands would go right were I moved them. I would finally have to leave the situation to make it stop.

I felt dirty and violated. I also felt silly for being upset. I had been so trained by society to believe men groping me was a part of having a vagina that I doubted my own feelings of having something wrong happening to me. I’m trained to believe it is harmless and just to get over it. Now, I know different. It is not harmless. When I told the men to take their hands off of me, they should have listened. It is okay to be upset about having someone take something from me because they want it even if I didn’t want to give it. Also, my low cut shirts were not an invitation to shove your hand into my shirt and bra to squeeze my breast.

Consent is important. We need to talk about it, not just once, but many times. We need to stand up for ourselves. We need to share our stories to give these concepts a face. We need to share our stories so we will see we aren’t alone and find comfort in others. We need to teach.

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