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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

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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?

 

The fabric of time

When two people get married, communication is almost easy. You’re still learning each others’ stories; the previous stitches in the fabric that creates your life. Each one can be inspected, discussed, perhaps glossed over, maybe regretted, but they’re all on display.

Over the years, kids are added to the mix. The fabric gains brighter colors, intricate patterns, but now you’re weaving together. Stitches are put in by both hearts, woven into the memories of each.

But the drawback to this? All of the stitches are now familiar to both of you. Years and years of fabric, all woven by both of you. No new colors or patterns, no interesting twists.

Then the kids take their fabric off the family loom and start to continue the weave on their own. What’s left is as familiar as an old hoodie – it’s soft, it’s comforting, but it’s still old.

At this point, the Bear and I are faced with each of us holding an empty needle, struggling to find threads that haven’t already been used. We both have threads we could reach for, but it’s of little interest to the other person. Neither of us is sure what to do, how to continue the conversation.

A few weeks ago, we traveled for the Ambassador’s judo tournament. Nearly 7 hours in a car over two days, and we spend maybe half an hour in conversation.  Both of us have high stress jobs; leisure discussion about either of them does not appeal. We have separate hobbies, separate interests, mostly separate lives. We’re grasping at conversational straws that can’t stave off the drowning silence between us. Other than the kids, we don’t know what to say.

This has been a concern of mine for a long time, now. We can’t find anything to say to each other over a 7 hour car trip; how the hell do we fill the next several years once the kids have all moved out? We have little in common, though we get along just fine (most of the time). We’re still great friends. But at this point, the prospects for our future look more like that of roommates weaving fabric next to each other than two people continuing to weave the same piece.

People will say, “Do more stuff together! Create your own stories!” but that isn’t always possible with chaotic schedules, widely-varied interests, and vastly different points of view. It’s a lot more complicated than it looks.

The fabric of a family will always be attached unless actively severed, and ours will always connect. But as his drifts further and further away from mine, it makes me wonder how tenuous those threads will be.

Eff This

I cuss a lot.

Now, most people who know me will roll their eyes and say, “No shit.”

Some people will cringe and purse their lips, a disapproving scowl creeping across their pinched face. They will say that it’s “filth”, and that it’s “unnecessary”, and that “it shows a distinct lack of class”. I take issue with that last one, as I have a lot of class. It may or not be low class, but I assure you that I have a lot of it!

But here’s one of the problems with that ever-present condemnation of my character. People vary on which words are taboo and which aren’t. Now, many people will agree that the “c” word (four letters, refers to part of a woman) is way out of line at all times, with no exceptions. But there are those who prefer to “reclaim” it as part of their own lexicon. I’m personally not a fan of it, but I don’t judge people who are. To some people, the word “crap” is an “unacceptable cuss word”. People can “damn” someone to “hell”, but the minute a particular deity is brought into the picture, the television censors tweak that “damn” right the “hell” out.

So why do we swear? What drives us to use words that make some people so upset? This page actually does a really great job of explaining why people cuss. Contrary to what people think, the use of such words does not make us uneducated, classless, prurient, filthy, unhealthy, or base. It also doesn’t mean that we are without moral or ethics, that we lack spiritual structure, or that we have insufficient vocabularies.

Most of the condemnation I’ve seen does come from the stricter religious groups. I hate to tell them, but perhaps their sneering derision would serve them better if they reread Matthew; chapter 7, verse 1.

My kids also cuss like sailors. Am I a crappy mother for this? Probably; but the list of things that make me a bad mother is so long. This doesn’t even hit the Top Ten, so if you’re looking for me to show some guilt here, I wouldn’t advise holding your breath.

All of my kids know that cussing in public is inappropriate. They also know that if they ever cuss in front of their grandmothers, I will have their heads on a platter, along with their cell phones for the next 24 hours. Oh, and little kids. I do not ever tolerate them cussing in front of little kids. Ya know what? They don’t. No, I’m not with them all the time. No, I have no spies on their various college campuses. So how do I know? Because I’ve raised them to understand that, like anything else, cussing has a time and a place. I’ve also raised them to have respect for others. They do not go into the homes of their Christian friends and drop an “F” bomb. It would never occur to them to do so, because they were raised correctly.

Yes, I said it. My kids cuss. And I also said that my kids were raised correctly. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

And if, after this, you look at me, look at my family, and purse those lips while mentally calling us names like “classless” and “immoral”?

Well, I guess I can’t change your mind, then. So fuck you very much, have a nice day, and please drive through.