We Will Rise

There is a lot of emotion flowing this morning. Torrents of shock and anger feed the ever increasing maelstrom of fear by those who are “different”. Our new president has declared open season on women, people of color, immigrants, the disabled, those on the queer spectrum…and the panic is rising for good reason.

Faith of any kind usually means standing strong in the face of adversity. Therefore, I implore everyone to grab hold of their faith. Hold it tightly; cling to it like the life preserver that it is.

Because we will rise.

We will not succumb to the hate speech – or worse, the hate behavior – that has been blindly deemed acceptable. We are not cut from that flawed cloth, and we will not stitch it around our bodies, our minds, and our hearts.

We will rise.

We will treat people with dignity and respect for the people they are, showing each person that they are a person who is worthy of it. Knowing a person for their mind and their heart is the only route to true understanding.

We will rise.

We will celebrate diversity for the richness and beauty that it brings to life, embracing other cultures and religions as learning experiences. Knowledge is power, and not only will we gain that power, but we will exude it.

We will rise.

We will speak out against injustice, no longer keeping silent when “jokes” are made, or actions are seen. It is time to stand up and be heard as the voice of acceptance. It is time for us to live by the example that we value and to hold others accountable for their hatred.

We will rise.

I am only one person, but maybe a movement truly can start with me. A blog post, a hashtag, a bumper sticker, a t-shirt…this journey will be so many more than just a thousand proverbial steps. It will be arduous, it will be fraught with danger. But it will be worth it.

Because we will rise.

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Samhain Musings

As every Samhain, I reflect back on the past year and try to take an objective look at how things went. Like most people, I’m a work in progress, but growth is always good. This year, I made some pretty drastic changes, and I find that I’m content with the results.

My mother died last year, shortly before Samhain, so my holiday was overshadowed by exhaustion, emotional tension, and a host of other stresses. However, grief was not among them. My parents made no secret of their animosity toward me from moment one of my life, and as the years went by, I found myself reacting in much different ways. As a child and a young adult, I vacillated between returning the hatred and a pathetic desperation to make myself worth of their love. Eventually, I matured and settled into an apathetic acceptance of what I couldn’t change, and sent that energy into more worthwhile pursuits.

To that end, the death of my parents meant little to me. What it did do, though, is open up a door that i had long since left shuttered. I’ve mentioned before that my biological brother molested me over a period of about 2 years, and that he also messed with my best friend at the time. She is no longer in my life because of this. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, I found her several years ago and made contact. However, she told me she couldn’t be in my life because of what he’d done. I was devastated, but I absolutely understood, and didn’t bear her any ill will. How could I? There was one question that had always gone unanswered, and it was one I didn’t particularly want answered, really — Did my parents know what he had done? The answer came this spring, quite unexpectedly. They did know. And this means that not only did they not do anything to stop it, but they continued to give him access to me by having him “babysit”.

I won’t lie. That did a huge number on my psyche. What kind of people do that to a kid? Their own kid, no less? But it showed me the depths of their abhorrence toward me, and it gave me a much clearer picture of a lot of things from my childhood. It also provided me the impetus to do something I’d wanted to do for years.

I drafted a no-contact order and sent it registered mail to his office. That way there’s no way someone wouldn’t be around to sign for it. In my state, an official restraining order cannot be granted unless you’ve issued a no-contact order first. So I did. In the letter, I explained this to him and gave him a choice. If he just fades off into the universe, we’re good. He lives his life, I live mine, and we never have contact of any kind again. If he violates it, I will file with the court for the official one, and send a copy to the licensing board of his state. It was like a sodden wool blanket had been removed from my shoulders. I felt more free than I have in years.

There were other things I shed from my life as well. A “friend” who proved with crystal clarity that she is anything but…a doctor who had acted like a disrespectful, gaslighting jerk to me when I saw him…and also my work schedule. I had fallen into a really bad habit of checking in on emails, test forms, etc even at night or on weekends. Vacations weren’t even safe from the intrusion, and when I started to get anxious in times I couldn’t check in, I knew there was a much bigger problem there. Our trip to Ireland and Wales helped immensely — the lack of Internet access in so many places meant that I truly was unplugged from work for that time. It was amazing, and just the catalyst I needed to mitigate my habits. I’m now able to go entire weekends without even looking at emails or the item system, and I am much more relaxed.

As the holiday season hails its arrival, I find myself looking forward to what it should be and not what it has been. It’s going to be focused on my family, the people who choose to be in my life, the relaxing fun of decorating, gift-hunting [which is fun for me!], and not on the obligatory stresses from the past.

Fort his New Year’s, I have let go of more negativity than I think I ever have before. I’m not quite where I want to be yet, but for the first time, I’m confident that I can get there.

Blessed Samhain.

P.S. I hate you

I’ve always liked autumn. I know, I know, I’m moving to the Caribbean, I love white sand and blue water, flip-flops and shorts. But I cannot deny the beauty of the dappled leaves draped in a morning mist, the crunch beneath my feet as I shuffle down a path, the comfort of a hot cup of tea on a cool morning. And as an avid collector of hoodies (no, Scientist, I am not a hoodie hoarder!), I like the soft warmth of a nice sweatshirt.

And the food. As someone who loves to cook and bake, the “holiday season” turns my kitchen into a playground. New recipes hit the Thanksgiving menu, favorite smells emanate from the oven while baking magic ensues. Growing up in New York, the predominant flavors were apple and maple, and to this day they signify the coming of cooler weather and longer nights.

Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, ginger — these are friends with whom I associate all year, but our romance heats up once the leaves turn. Molasses cookies are soft pillows of spicy warmth. Sticky, dark gingerbread offers just a bit more — an extra heat on your tongue that lingers like a lover’s kiss. Hot apple pie mingles with cold ice cream with flaky crust to form a perfect bite.

And pumpkin? This is where our deliciously sensual discourse comes to a screeching halt. Yuck. I have, for as long as I can remember, loathed all things pumpkin. Knowing that taste buds can change over time, I’ve tried on numerous occasions. “Oh, no, you just haven’t had it baked into muffins” or “No, no, see, pumpkin pancakes are the way to go. You’ll never hate pumpkin again!” Yeah, not even close.

As for the reprehensible fad of “pumpkin spice”, I am cognizant of the fact that “it’s not actual pumpkin!” However, not only is it disgustingly overdone, but it has completely ruined the delicate waltz that autumn displays as she arrives. Instead, the pumpkin spice inundation hits like that deafeningly abysmal crap they call “dubstep”. It’s annoying, pointless, and it overcompensates for the fact that it’s a fad at best.

The ubiquitous “PSL”, or, Pumpkin Spice Latte made a little sense. Now, I am not a fan of dumping a lot of spices into my coffee, but I do get the point. However, seeing advertisements for them in August as they proclaim the arrival of autumn sets my teeth on edge. Yes, I am one of those weirdos that actually likes to enjoy each and every holiday, once at a time. I want to plan every detail of my Thanksgiving menu, but don’t bother asking me about it until after I’ve wrung every bit of fun from Halloween. I will listen to holiday music all day at work if my team wants, but not a single Silver Bell needs to ring before the turkey is packed up and the leftovers consumed.

My biggest issue is with the insertion of “pumpkin spice” into foods that clearly not only do not need it, but do not benefit from it. P. S. Oreos! P.S. yogurt! P.S. ice cream! P.S. Cheerios! P.S. Pop Tarts! P.S. pasta! [This may be the most vile “food” I have seen yet, but feel free to correct me in the comments.] P.S. hot cocoa! P.S. gum! P.S. potato chips! [EW, seriously?]

Enough. Can we not just enjoy a spice mixture in foods that make sense instead of trying to shove it into everything? Or hey, maybe you can be the one to create the next fad recipe. Perhaps we need a P.S. mashed potato dish? [If someone has already done this, please don’t tell me. I don’t want to know.]

Until then, I’ll go back to my quiet love of autumn and its colors and flavors, and leave the hyped-up fads to the bandwagon folks.

 

Parenting…or something resembling it…in 2016

I know it’s been forever since I’ve posted. There has been a lot going on in the world that made me want to spew, fume, vent, and rant, but I’d be another voice in the crowd, another soul screaming for common sense and lucidity in the maelstrom of insanity.

I think there’s a part of me that’s just tired. I’m tired of the constant xenophobia, homophobia, racism, bigotry, discrimination, and plain hatred that pervades our society. I’ve almost become numb when I hear of another transgender person being murdered, or a gay kid who committed suicide, violence perpetrated on people of color. There’s an inordinate amount of guilt that comes with that numbness because in truth, my heart does break for each and every victim. But it gets harder and harder to stand strong against the hatred and violence when it just seems to wash like tidal saves over our kids.

And maybe that’s why parenting becomes, in my opinion, such a paramount topic right now. Strange to think, perhaps, but not if you really think about it.

We come into this world with no hate, no bigotry, ho prejudice. In the realm of social conscience we are, indeed, tabula rasa. It’s parenting that teaches us right from wrong, but also the nuance of acceptance versus intolerance, good from bad, trustworthy versus suspect. Am I blaming parenting for the world’s current problems? In short, yes. I am.

When people teach their children that’s acceptable to use violence to get “respect” from others, it sets a clear tone for future behavior. As a public school teacher, I saw it time and again. A fight breaks out, we pull the bloodied combatants apart, and ask the inevitable query. “Why?” “He [or She] disrespected me.” This type of encouragement can only escalate to weapons, and we see it everywhere. Social media has photos and articles that glamorize weapons and their accessibility, not for self-defense, but for the illusion of strength and intimidation.

Children who are hit learn that hitting is the answer to their problems. It’s been proven repeatedly. But I’m not going to get into that fight today. Instead, let’s take a step to the side and look at the verbal education that children receive instead.

“Are you stupid?”

“What is wrong with you?”

“I’m going to kill you.”

“Do what I said or I will beat your ass.”

“I don’t care what you think. Do what I tell you.”

“You’re just like your worthless [other parent].”

Exactly what do we expect our children to learn when this is what they hear from their caregivers? The people in whom they should have absolute trust? And yet here we are, surprised when a fight breaks out in a girls bathroom in a high school, and a young woman dies as her peers laugh and video the altercation on their phones. This is not advanced calculus, people.

Children need limits, and they need to be taught how to live as civilized people within society. But this does not need to be accomplished with derision, violence, or abuse. On the flip side, it also doesn’t require us to “never say no” to children. For whatever reason, proponents of the current failing parenting methods seem to latch on to the idea that if we aren’t hitting kids, we are letting them run wild through the streets with super soakers full of fox urine and glitter. I’m not sure why this is, but the concept of rational middle ground is nearly impossible for them to grasp. Children are quite capable of learning the natural consequences of their own actions and how to handle them. [And before anyone throws their favorite counter “argument” at me, no, this does not mean we let our children run into the street when a car is coming so they “learn what happens”. Let’s have some modicum of common sense here, shall we?]

When kids are treated with respect, and they see their caregivers treating other people with respect, they will model it. No, they are not perfect. They will mess up. And then it’s our job to guide them in righting the situation. It is our job as parents to be guides and teachers, models and mentors, not prison guards and bullies. We can teach empathy, compassion, kindness, generosity, all while still being good parents. So why aren’t we?

We as a society have failed this generation in so many ways. Maybe, instead of ramming ahead with the old ways, which have so clearly failed, we need to step back and look at what needs to change.

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This photo is of the Ambassador, face down on the ground with a young man with whom he’d collided in a soccer game. It took over 20 minutes for the emergency crew to arrive, so he tried to offer comfort and distraction against the pain in the meantime.

This photo makes me more proud as a parent than any award he could receive.

P.S. This post has absolutely nothing to do with prayer in schools, etc. Religion is a spiritual path that can and should be guided by parents, but the lack of forced religion in a school environment is not even remotely the cause of the violence we see every day. Please don’t insult either of our intelligences by claiming that it is.

 

Eye For An Eye

We all know this saying. ” ‘An eye for an eye’ makes the whole world blind.”

It’s a good reminder that violence is never the answer to a problem. Hatred and the act of hurting another doesn’t solve anything. But that’s a difficult adage to precah when entire classes of people are being marginalized, violated, and attacked simply for being who they are.

My heart has broken on so many occasions lately, for my fellow LGBTQ people, for my black friends, for the people in Baghdad and Turkey; the list goes on. As a white woman who identifies as “gay except for one notable exception”, I find myself walking a weird line. I cannot possibly fathom what my black friends go through every day. I cannot comprehend what it’s like to fear for my life, especially in the south where racism is so rampant, simply for driving in the wrong neighborhood. I can wear a hoodie with the hood pulled up and people do not run away or cross the street.If my hair is left “natural”, I am not called “unprofessional”. If I have a flat tire on the side of the road, I am perfectly capable of changing it myself. But I know damn well that the average drive is much more inclined to stop and help me than a black person. It sickens me, what our society has demonstrated toward people who are no different than anyone else except for the color of their skin, the texture of their hair. Their blood still stains the streets red when they are gunned down. Their families still weep countless tears. Their lives are just as shattered.

On the flip side, I also live in the same south that is virulently homophobic. Perhaps I am lucky that I “pass”. As someone who chooses to stay in a politically condoned marriage with a member of the opposite cis-gender, people look at me and smile and think, “What a nice, normal family!” But when it slips that the Scientist and I have an open marriage? That we have kids who identify as gay or queer? That I prefer women over men? That yes, my kids have met people that both the Scientist and I have dated? Eyebrows disappear into hairlines, lips thin out and turn down a bit at the corners, and eyes narrow. I’m not longer “safe” and “normal”. I’m now “one of THEM”.

“One of them.” “Those people.” The sneers of derision, the shudders of revulsion, the airs of disdain. How many times have you felt those emanating from you? Or how many times have you felt them coming at you?

I know that I cannot fix our society. It’s a depressing thought that I brought kids into a world where they are not safe. It’s sad to think that I almost hope my kids don’t choose to have kids because I worry so much for their safety, and they don’t even exist.

What I can do is stand up, speak out, and openly support those who have felt the sting of discrimination and violence. I stand for those who have been abused, singled out, bullied, hurt.

I will use my own eyes…not in the adage above, but to see. I will see the truth, the brutal honesty that we as humans have become, and I will do my best every second of every day to truly look for ways to fix what I can. Because without each person’s eyes, without each person’s heart, without each person’s hands reaching out, the blood will continue to spill.

We have to help. We have to hope. We have to love.9534717994_e760dc80e1_z

Landmines (Or: Dating in the Modern Age)

I received the most incredible gift recently! My sweetest cousin, the Designer, found me after nearly 40 years apart. It’s been bizarre, surreal, and utterly wonderful to get to know each other. We’ve only seen each other twice so far, but we’ve got plans for much more!

Last evening I was at her house for a barbecue, enjoying some much needed relaxation and laughter with her hilarious friends. At one point, the conversation turned to dating, and how weird some first dates can be. While I did not share this anecdote at the time, I immediately thought of it, despite the fact that we never even got as far as a date! But hey, it still makes me laugh to this day, so I thought I’d share the amusement with anyone who’s ever been on a horrific first date!

NOTE: This story takes place in 2011, when Hurricane Irene nailed the east coast. It was originally posted on my old blog.

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I shared this story over lunch this past weekend with The Trainer, and amidst her laughter, she said it absolutely had to become a blog post.  She’s a wise woman, and so I agreed.

Back in August, I had to be downtown for meetings a few times.  Through a coworker, I met a woman that I’ll call L, who seemed pretty smart, had a dry sense of humor, and possessed a smile that definitely turned my head.  We chatted and exchanged cell numbers; this led to a “relationship” that made Kim Kardashian’s marriage look eternal.  You’ll understand why the quotation marks were used in a minute, I promise.

A few casual texts were tossed back and forth, and a vague mention was made of “having lunch some time.”  At this point, I was getting busy at work and my focus shifted over to that.  The weekend passed, and on Monday, we received the news that Hurricane Irene was headed straight for Wilmington, where the Artist currently resides for college.  I’m not the type to panic much, and I’m not a helicopter Mom, but I did advise the Artist that if the storm continued its current track, that I’d be heading down to haul her little tail back home for a few days.  The University hadn’t yet decided whether or not they were going to evacuate, so I told her that we’d sit back and wait, letting Irene’s path guide our decisions.

On that same day, I received a text from L, asking me if I’d like to get together “this weekend.”  I texted back that I’d love to, but at that point in time, I couldn’t commit to any definitive plans because of the hurricane situation.  I explained that my daughter was at UNCW and that I wasn’t sure yet if I was going to let her stay through the storm or get her out; it was just too early to tell.  However, I said, if the storm shifted, I thought it might be fun to do something.

This is what I got back:

“Kel, she’s 18 years old.  She can handle being at school in a rainstorm.”

*blink*

For those who are unaware, at the time that Irene was tracking straight towards UNCW, it was bouncing back and forth between a category 3 and 4 level hurricane.  They were estimating wind damage to be on the level of some of the worst storms ever to hit NC.

I honestly didn’t know how to respond to L.  For one of the rare occasions in my life, I was speechless.  So I said nothing.  I just let it lie, went back to work, and tried to figure out what in the ever loving hell just happened.

~~ It was at this point in the story that the Trainer was cracking up, saying, “Wait for it…this gets better.  I know it does!”  And she was right. ~~

The next day, I was coming down the hall when my phone dinged that I had a text.  Seeing it was from L, I chuckled and sat down to read the missive.

“Kel, I really like you, but I have grave concerns.  Seeing how smothering you are with your kids makes me worry that you’ll be like that with us.  I think it’s better if we don’t continue our relationship.”

I swear to Dog, I thought for a second that it was a mis-text.  If it hadn’t had my name at the start, I most likely would’ve written it off as such.  But no, no…that text was actually to me.  Let’s analyze it, shall we?

Point #1: She has “grave concerns.”  Dramatic much?  We had, at this point in time, exchanged maybe 2 dozen texts total.

Point #2: “Seeing how smothering you are with your kids…” Um. You haven’t “seen” anything as we’d met in person once and I was without my kids.  And smothering?  I’m smothering my kid by possibly removing her from the path of a Cat 4 hurricane?  I wonder if my kids think I’m smothering them…

Point #3: “…worry that you’ll be like that with us.”  Us?  Us?  What “us?”  There is no “us.”  Let’s reiterate the point that we’d exchanged maybe 2. Dozen. Texts. TOTAL.  “Us?!”

Point #4: “…don’t continue our relationship.”  See Point #3.

By this time, the Trainer is almost teary from laughing so hard.  I’m quite sure the waitress at Mumfords thought we’d completely lost our minds, sitting in the corner at this tiny cafe, laughing hysterically.  You see, she too is, as she phrases it, a “lightning rod” for the crazy people.  Seriously, while I do seem to attract the weird ones, this woman truly did win the prize.  Needless to say, there was no further exchange, and I promptly deleted her number from my phone.

I learned a valuable lesson from this: men may well be “pigs” sometimes, but women?  Women are just effing crazy.

As for L, I sincerely hope that she finds happiness with someone who won’t smother her.  Unless, of course, it’s in her sleep with a pillow…

 

Me, Myself, and I…Maybe?

People talk about “finding yourself” or “being true to yourself”. Great concept, if you actually know who you are. It’s something that’s eluded me for as long as I can remember, and while I’m exceedingly adept at being the person that others need to see, I’ve never been quite sure which one is the real one, if any of them. I’ve worn a myriad of masks, and even more hats over the years, but now I find myself wanting to ditch all of them in favor of a custom pair of flip-flops.

The past few months have brought up some pretty harsh realizations in the mirror, and a few of those have set me back on my heels. I’ve spent some time in my head, sifting through what’s real and what’s actually that insidious, deceptive, emotional voice. It’s a slow process, generally involving quantities of solitude and chocolate both in excess of my usual allotments. It’s amazing how well those two work in tandem to help one attain clarity.

One thing I am grateful for is the people who choose to walk the path with me while I figure things out. I’ve learned the hard way over the past year that some people are not to be trusted, and no matter how careful you are, you need to maintain your guard. Someone makes the mistake of trying to come between me and one of my kids, it’s the last mistake that will occur between us. But it’s made me appreciate the people in my life who show their love every day without even trying that help me maintain my faith. My appreciation for them continues to grow as I traverse this thorny path of confusion.

I’m hoping I can come to some decisions sooner than later, but until I find my custom flip-flops, I’ll stick with these. They suit me quite well.

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In Gratitude to a Legend

IMG_20160422_095704It’s been a rough year for musicians. We’ve lost several really talented people to the usual passage of time. Strange though, that we exhibit such shock at this – as if we expect our idols to remain ageless in the face of our own greying hair.

The loss of David Bowie was pretty profound for many of my peers. His rise to Ziggy stardom came through our own coming of age, his invitation to be whomever we wanted to be written into the swipes of his eye shadow, the wings of his hair, the wild colors of his attire. His lyrical persona became a reflection of our own desire to shed the conventional; so many of us with more fluid sexual orientations, shy and questioning in the face of our upbringing, seeking the assurance that we really were ok.

But Prince? Prince hit me even harder than Bowie, and it took me a few days to really come to terms with why. Every tribute performance of Purple Rain, every previously recorded rendition from the man himself, brings me to the same tears the recorded version always has. It’s funny, isn’t it? The power that music can have on us? I’ve danced and belted out lyrics along with his hits this past week, remembering the glorious 80s of high school, grateful for what the music of this man from Minnesota had done for me.

By the time I tripped over the Little Red Corvette and into 1999, my sense of self, most especially my sexuality, was a convoluted mess. I’d gone from being sexually molested by my brother for two years starting at age 6, to being blamed for it by the one person who discovered it and did nothing, to having Catholic school catechism hammered into my brain while I slowly figured out I preferred the company of boys when hanging out, but was attracted to girls.

Of course, I was expected to “like” boys. My confusion was evident in my almost-but-not-quite hilarious inability to flirt with them. The awkwardness would’ve been the source of a killer sitcom, I’m sure, had I been lucky enough to score a film crew. Instead, the humiliation and shame of my glaring abnormalities was simply magnified. The two “boyfriends” I had in high school were both colossal douchecanoes; one put me down constantly, playing my inferiority complex like a Stradivarius, the other used emotional manipulation to control me until  a date rape incident finally gave me the courage to get out.

Through all of this, though, Prince was emerging. Purple Rain was my first ‘R’ rated movie. His music was scandalous; his references to sex and sexuality were blatant and unapologetic. I purchased the vinyl record and was amusingly “forbidden” to listen to Track 4. I laugh now, at how quickly I broke that one. Darling Nikki may not be my favorite of his songs, but that didn’t make it any less appealing to a repressed, abused, confused Catholic School kid.

Prince, through his unabashedly open sense of self, his attitude that sexuality is a fluid, living thing, told me that I wasn’t quite as irreparably broken as I’d always assumed. He celebrated women as sexual beings that could match or even surpass men – such a beautiful flip from the usual societal schema of sexually active men as studs and sexually active women as whores. The raw emotion with which he sang gave me the courage to accept my own emotional maelstrom, and to even embrace it enough to work within it instead of fighting it. It’s for these reasons, then, that Purple Rain has always brought tears to my eyes when I’ve heard it, whether I was a 13 year old wreck, a 37 year old woman watching my marriage spiral out of control, or a nearly-45 year old, who is finally comfortable in who she is, sexually and otherwise.

So while the world mourns Prince for the myriad of reasons they have, I join them. But over and above the loss, I feel a profound sense of gratitude to a man who sang of love, lust, and loss, all with the same energy and beauty. Thank you, Prince, for letting me see the power of the Purple Rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dying and Other Bad Habits

1486606921_a5d44818df_bSo as it turns out, I’m dying. Huh. Who knew? Oh, right, I did. Oops.

Anyhow, yeah. I’m apparently dying. But as it turns out, I don’t actually know when it’ll happen, nor do I know what will kill me. (Although, at this rate, my best guess would either be the Scientist or my boss, so check them out first!)

It also appears that I’m not alone in this. I have yet to meet anyone who’s found the real Fountain of Youth, so I guess everyone around me is also going to die. This begs the question, why the hell are we so caught up in the stupid minutia that pervades our everyday existence?

There are things that are worth drawing this line in the sand. I know I have them. Mess with my kids in any way, and whatever relationship we had is over. No second chances, no exceptions. It’s simply gone. But really, anyone who’s known me for more than ten minutes is pretty clear on that one. Another one for me is that I don’t tolerate intolerance. My home has always been and will always be a safe space. My kids always knew they could bring friends of any race, religion, gender, orientation, etc, and it was all good. We don’t judge, we don’t hate. The quality of a person’s spirit has nothing to do with any of those labels; it’s simply based on who you are.

But I’m talking about things like stressing over having the “perfect” body shape so that you’ll appeal to whatever ideal is currently trending in the mainstream media. Or maybe the fact that people don’t always love the type of people you feel they should love. Or maybe your floors didn’t get mopped this week and they “should’ve”.

What are we doing? Why are we layering stress after stress upon ourselves and each other?

I’ve long since quit denying or hiding who I am. I simply don’t care anymore. The Therapist had to reiterate to the Scientist and me over an over and over, “If it works for you, screw anyone else’s opinion.” I still need reminding at times. I still occasionally slip back into that “What will They think?” mode, and it’s pointless.

So I own who I am, and I find peace within it. I’m about as flawed and as weird as can be, but maybe that’s part of why the people who choose to be in my life make that choice. I’m a person who prefers women by orientation (with the exception of a certain hot Scientist), has three amazing kids, and a well-functioning open marriage. I have a disability, a neurological condition, a high stress job, and multiple tattoos. I’m an avid quilter, cook, gardener, and photographer. I’ve been an agnostic, slightly Pagan, recovering Catholic for 20 years. I love the Pittsburgh Steelers and sort of love the Atlanta Braves, although I will never -ever- forgive them for trading Craig Kimbrel. I also have a temper, and am like a viper if I feel cornered. I rarely trust people, but those I do trust, I trust for life. I’m way too adept at showing people a mask if I think it’ll make life easier, but I’m working on that.

And yet, no matter what I am, what I’ve been before, or what I might become, I’m still dying. And so are you. What will you do with the time you have left?

 

True Love and Other Myths

Yeah, I know, it’s pretty curmudgeonly to publish a blog post with that title on “the most romantic day of the year”. But then, I’m kinda curmudgeonly in general, so maybe it fits.

I’ve never been a “Hallmark Holiday” girl. I think the sheer amount of build-up and marketing that goes into February 14th is a crock of shit, and in my not-at-all-humble opinion, it causes more problems than it solves. People who feel pressured to prove their love through red and pink trinkets or worse, expensive crap are not going to be feeling the bliss that the media assures us is there. It’s a waste of money, but worse, it’s a waste of a perfectly good day.

(I do think that the counter-day of “Steak and Blowjob Day” on March 14th is hilarious, I’ll admit it.)

For me, I would much rather The Scientist see that I love him on a day when it isn’t “required”. Things like making his favorite meal when I know he’s had a rotten day at work, baking his favorite treat just because I thought he’d like them, making sure that he never runs out of his shower stuff, making homemade sugar free hot cocoa mix for him — it’s the minor stuff the flows through the regular days that last. Not the contrived “oh shit, next week is Valentine’s Day!”

Our relationship has been all over the place since we met in 1989. We’ve always held that honesty is the way to go, so yes, our kids knew when our marriage hit the rocks. They knew that we were separating. They knew when we started therapy. They knew that the “D” word had hit the table. They know that we are in an open marriage, and they’ve met the people we’ve dated. They know that shit happens, and they know we’re not making any guarantees. But at the end of the day? They also that, if we did decide to split, there would never be any of that, “Oh. So. Your father is coming for Thanksgiving? Well, then. I guess I’ll see you at Christmas.” At the end of the day, we are a family, and no matter what happens between the Scientist and myself as a couple, without him, I don’t have them.

People hold “love” up as some kind of end goal; a prize to be sought, elusive and exclusive. It’s none of that. Love is a fluid, dynamic, magical thing, but we don’t need to look for it. It’s everywhere.

The concept of “one true love” is restrictive and filled with pressure. It makes us afraid of conflict and communication because of the potential jeopardy that looms ahead. What if we fight and that’s it? What if we can’t overcome this? So we hide our feelings, we gloss over problems, we bury the honesty. If we can step back and understand that different people can be in our lives to love and be loved, maybe we can stop the landslide of broken families.

We need to stop holding up Valentine’s Day as some sort of competition that fosters the stereotypes of the greedy, materialistic woman and the hangdog, whipped man just trying to make her happy. Enough. Embrace love, not expectations.

Love every day. Love well. Love without restrictions or strings. Love without fear. Just love.