28 May 2017 @ 10:36 am
Yesterday I experienced the first real "transition" day from the unending busyness of the last few weeks at work to the more unstructured time I'll get for the next three months. I'll have plenty to do this summer, but the rhythm will be different - more long periods to do things, less short, sharp pivots to tend to 17 things one after each other. I'm looking forward to that so much!

But I do struggle with the transition. Yesterday I kept having to ask myself "what should I do now?" and answers did not come easily. But I took a walk, and I did a little yoga practice, and I read the beginning of a book by Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama about joy. I also spent a lot of time on the internet spinning between facebook, twitter, and tumblr, and I'm hoping not to do that so much today. But every time, this time of year, I have to relearn what it is to do something because of internal impulse instead of external pressure. It takes practice. So today I think I'll be practicing by cleaning up my back porch and yard. This is especially important since people are coming over to enjoy both this week.

Last night I went out to a friend's farm and enjoyed dinner with her, her husband, and another friend of ours. It was such a lovely night - the food was excellent, the company was irreverent, and the farm is really gorgeous. My friend's husband and I bonded over having learned to drive a tractor before a car, and I thrilled to get up close and personal with all the farm equipment, which was all so impossibly large that I felt like a Lilliputian. I got to hang out with their dog, and drive home under a beautiful clear sky, and it was just a wonderful moment out of time. Yay!

I hope Sunday brings you joy!
27 May 2017 @ 07:11 am
Yesterday, somewhere out there in the vastness that is the internet, I published something about my experience with sexual assault. (I'm not linking because the piece contains some references that could make it fairly easy to identify 'real' me, and I don't want to cross the streams.)

The comments. Oh my god, the comments - the victim-blaming, responsibility-shirking, rape-culturey comments.

I shouldn't have read them (first rule of the internet!) but I did, and I am aghast by them.

Which made me come here to thank all of you. Because in this corner of the web you have been such a profoundly supportive, wonderful set of people. You have never blamed me for anything, nor suggested I'm "doing it wrong," and I hadn't - before today - really considered how amazing that is. I know I couldn't have made it through these last few years without the opportunity to tell my story on my blog, and to rejoice in things with you, answer questions you've posed, listen to the wisdom you've offered, and bear witness to our collective struggles. You are incredible. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
24 May 2017 @ 07:16 am
For anyone who needs it today  
You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting --
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

~ Mary Oliver
23 May 2017 @ 07:20 am
I wrote a little ficlet on Sunday, a Poe/Finn story about them getting together (because that never gets old). I wrote Poe as asexual - mostly because there is a pervasive stereotype of him in fandom as some kind of "Latin lover" which I wanted to undermine. And I wrote Finn as someone figuring out what this new world is in the Resistance and what he likes and doesn't like and wants to try.

I got a comment on the story yesterday from someone who didn't like the story and who said "This just seemed like a way of expressing your wish for Poe to be asexual in some angsty way." Which is fascinating. There is no angst in the story - Poe's not apologetic about being asexual, and Finn doesn't press him to be. They just figure things out.

But doesn't it say volumes that the mere presence of asexuality in a story makes someone talk about angst? As if being asexual means you are automatically tortured about it?

Let me say I am a very happy asexual person :D. Like Poe, I don't feel I have anything to apologize for, nor do I feel I'm missing out on anything. I'm so content. And it's a shame that people can't wrap their heads around such a thing.
21 May 2017 @ 01:24 pm
A ficlet  
A wee ficlet!

Pretty Simple at AO3. Poe/Finn. ~600 words.
20 May 2017 @ 07:10 pm
Daaaaaang. It's me. (I mean, not literally, lest anyone think I have a cool gig as a writer on the side. But she nails it.)
20 May 2017 @ 08:01 am
I've been doing this on my RL FB page and it's been lovely, so I'm going to try it here:

What's something fabulous that happened this week?

It can be large or small! For example, I had a latte yesterday that was flat-out perfect. It was so delicious and brought me joy. What about you?
19 May 2017 @ 08:33 am
I had a mammogram yesterday, and I fought with myself all day about going. I really didn't want to do it, just wanted to cancel and be done, but that's playing fast and loose with my health, so I went. It wasn't my first mammogram, and the tech was lovely and kind, but the whole thing still, I'm realizing, set me on edge. I feel gross today, sort of messed up, and it's not hard to see the connection between a total stranger handling me intimately with how I feel.


It's been a pretty good week here. We got incredibly hot weather at the beginning of the week which made everyone miserable - we need a few more days in the 70s to ease us into dealing with high 80s - but today it is raining and the high will be 55 and I can wear jeans and it will be glorious. Work has been fine - I've cleared my desk of everything but responding to reports, which means I have cleared out a serious backlog of everything else I could possibly do that isn't a report. I've been working on a couple of really fun projects, and had a lot of meaningful conversations with people this week, so I've felt good about what I do for a living. And there are only two more weeks of crunch time this season before I get a much more flexible schedule for the summer, and that is fabulous.

I'm going to be traveling a lot for business this summer. I'm headed to Syracuse for a conference in mid June, and a lightning fast trip to Boston at the end of that month. Minneapolis in July, Virginia in August, Minneapolis in August. I am such a homebody, so the fact that I even agreed to all this travel is a sign that the things on the other of the plane rides are awesome. Hopefully they'll all turn out to be fun!

The rain is so soothing this morning. My gosh, it'd be a great day to spend in bed with tea and a book. Alas . . .
14 May 2017 @ 09:48 am
Grrrrr. Argh.  
I went for a walk this morning before it got too hot, and enjoyed my neighborhood in the quiet while everyone else was in bed or making breakfast. I let my thoughts go where they wanted, and when something bubbled up that needed my attention, I let it. And I spent a good part of the walk wrestling with the resentment I feel because it’s Mother’s Day.

Part of that is tied up in my own relationship with my mother. That part’s easy to see and easy to be gentle with myself about.

But part of it is tied up with the fact that I want a day where I’m recognized for the nurturing I do, which is not a particularly pleasant thing to realize (I feel vaguely like a toddler stamping her foot). But then I quickly realized it’s not really about that. It’s about family.

I have no family in the United States. And while I certainly have a network of friends who love me and support me and are my ‘found family’ in a sense, I don’t have the fallback of family in the way those friends do. There is no default for me on big, family holidays. There is no assumption of us owing time to one another. There’s nowhere for me to be on Mother’s Day – no one for me to honor, no honoring done.

I wish, so much, for an experience of family similar to the ones my close friends have, all of whom have siblings and parents and aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews galore. I want to be part of a web that pulls me in on family holidays, rather than being on my own. My wish to be recognized is really a wish to be included.

(Maybe this is something I can articulate to my friends – I’m still letting that idea roll around in my mind, where it wars with the idea that I’m being too demanding – and maybe it’s not.)

Aie. Anyway. To those of you who also struggle today, for whatever reason – yearning to be a mother; being a mother who has lost a child; being a daughter who has lost a mother; being someone whose mother was distant or hurtful or abusive; being someone who never had a stable maternal figure in their life; so many other possibilities – I’m sending you so much love today. ♥

eta: Here's Anne Lamott on the complexities of Mother's Day - a really beautiful, thoughtful post.
07 May 2017 @ 10:00 am
Yesterday morning I went to see Gifted, and oh, my heart. I'll say this - the plot is contrived (neither the central conflict nor resolution make a lot of sense) and some of the dialogue is clunky, but it manages to be a very sweet movie none-the-less. Chris Evans does a beautiful job of playing a father who loves his child to pieces but also wishes he had a little more time to himself, and who is also just so palpably sad throughout the whole thing that you want to bundle him up and take him home. (Luckily Octavia Spencer is there to a) own every scene she's in and b) hold his big old dirty hand when he needs it.)

But, as is a regular feature of me going to the movies, I ended up crying not just over the central storyline, but over random other realizations about my life. There's a scene (and I'm not giving anything away here) where Chris is at a bar playing a drinking game with a woman who asks him a probing question, and he looks at her for a long moment, eyes literally twinkling, and I realized . . . no one has ever looked at me that way in my whole life. And I promptly burst into tears because of about a thousand things - that bare fact; the fact that there are so few Chris Evans' in the world; the fact that there are a hundred layers of . . . hmmm, how to thread this needle. I got a glimpse, in that moment, of someone else's life. It's not mine, and I don't think it will ever be mine because of so many variables - some changeable, some not - and I love this life I have. But I imagined a different life for just a moment and it looked pretty good, too.

(And please don't tell me some version of 'you can do it!' about dating - that is absolutely not where I'm at, and not even really the point.)

Anyway, the day ended with me sitting up until 11.30 with friends on their front porch - doggedly sitting out there with blankets, because it cooled off a lot, but by god, we were determined to be outside under the lights they'd strung up before there were a lot of bugs around. We drank some good wine and chatted the evening away and it was lovely. May there be more nights like it before we hit the part of the year where doing something like that is impossible without a head-to-toe rinse in Deet.

I don't know what I want to do with my Sunday yet, which is sort of delicious. I know what I *ought* to do, but eh, I'm going with my gut today. And my gut says . . . more tea. So that's where I'm going to begin :D

Happy day, everyone!
06 May 2017 @ 04:23 pm
So, one of my very dear friends, who is charming and accomplished and wicked smart, was also John Barrowman's prom date back in the day.

She's John's guest at the Minneapolis Wizard Con today, and she's a little bamboozled by the fact that two hours ago she was mowing her lawn, and now she's just shaken Peter Capaldi's hand.

But the best part (for me) is that John just introduced her as his prom date at his panel and everyone cheered for her.

(She'd like you to know that James Marsters is shorter than she anticipated, but more handsome than expected.)

If anyone finds footage of this panel on the interwebs, do drop me a comment and point me in the right direction. Apparently he just did a riff on her mother finding him drunk in church . . .
04 May 2017 @ 07:25 am
This week has been a doozy, mainly down to an all-hands meeting on Monday where someone I considered a friend chose not to support a project I've been working on for four years, and denounced it in the most cutting and lengthy fashion in front of everyone. Others then piled on. It was very upsetting.

That's the short version. The more important thing is that I spent time talking to Jan about it yesterday, because it's upset me so much, and had such an impact on the way I think about work. I've lost my motivation, I struggle to get up in a morning, I have trouble concentrating when I'm in the office, etc.

She suggested two things. First, that when people give you new information about who they are you believe them. That's not judgmental, it's just a very dispassionate assessment of the situation. "I did not know that about you before. Now I do. I'm going to believe you when you show me that's part of you." We get to redraw boundaries as a consequence. Second, she suggested I think of this like a break up. It's hard to end relationships - any relationship - but if I think of it like a break up, I can simply recognize we're not good for each other any more, and act in recognition of that fact. Like in a break up, it should be a clean break - none of this 'we can still be friends' business (because it never works). And like a break up, I should expect that I'm going to feel sad and bruised about all of this for a while.

It hasn't magically healed things to think that way, but that framing is so, so helpful to me. We did EMDR on the whole situation, too, and I realized that the people involved have been showing me who they are for a while, but I've been making excuses for them. That's behavior in myself that I want to change - that mindset has gotten me into trouble in the past - so it's to the good to be doing this.

And then today is the day when my employer cancels everything as a surprise and we all get the day off. It could not be better timed! I have a whole day stretching out ahead of me with nothing in it yet, and I can cook and bake and clean and make art and see friends, and oh, what a lovely thing. Just two more weeks and my spring crunch time is over and I can settle into the easier days of summer.

. . . and Bonnie Tyler's 'holding out for a hero' just started playing in my head. New anthem?
03 May 2017 @ 07:41 pm
This is my week at work

30 April 2017 @ 06:00 pm
Mah, kitty. *  
* likely only people who have read Smeckday will know what this means, but it's evocative all the same.

Hello, friends! I am vegging out after driving 650 miles over two days to go to my friend's mother's memorial service. She (N's mom) passed away earlier this week of cancer (fuck cancer) so another friend, T, and I drove down there yesterday and back today. The weather was awful yesterday, although today we managed to thread our way back between storms without running into any severe weather (a good thing since when I checked the weather this morning there was a flood warning for exactly where we were headed with the advice "Turn around. Don't drown." in large letters. Um.)

It was lovely to see N and to see her childhood home, and I was reminded again by the fact that simple presence can be everything. I had no good words for the situation, but that we showed up meant a lot to N, and I am so glad that eloquence was not required. We drank wine, met her father and brother and sister and cousins, and simply existed in the same spot as her for a little while. I'm so glad we went.

Now that I'm back I'm looking at the week to come and wondering how to get everything in. I owe feedback on several documents, and I've already extended a deadline once to accommodate my inability to . . . . well, no. To accommodate my being triggered. So nothing has been done unreasonably, but I still feel a big doofus for not getting stuff done on time. Fie. I have fifteen one-on-one meetings this week, my usual standing meetings, and an all-hands meeting tomorrow at 4. And between times I'm supposed to get things done. How? one asks.

Tomorrow a big national organization is going to announce that I am one of eight new people who've been invited to join their advisory board, and that is fun! I'm excited to get the work done that being a part of the organization involves, especially since they're paying for me to stay at a $400-a-night hotel in Boston in June for a series of meetings I need to take part in. I will never have stayed anywhere so fancy, and I very much hope that I can maximize the time I spend in the hotel room to soak it up, ha. The downside is that I don't think I will have a chance to see Boston itself. Maybe another time.

Would anyone like to come over and fix me dinner? That would be awesome.
25 April 2017 @ 04:50 pm
An update:

The secretary wrote me back yesterday, and apologized profusely. I wrote back and said that misunderstandings happen and that I was glad we had cleared things up.

I secretly delighted in her apology, proving I am not actually the bigger person.
23 April 2017 @ 06:14 pm
I just read a lovely essay by Parker Palmer, titled The Gift of Presence, The Perils of Advice. Here's a little piece of it:

Here’s the deal. The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.

(You may not be someone for whom 'soul' resonates, but I think there are a lot of other words that can apply - inner self, private self, etc.)

It's such a gentle essay, and it prompted me to think about how many times I am quick to advise. I have a lot to learn about listening and being present; but what a sweet little note on which my weekend can end.
23 April 2017 @ 02:40 pm
Good things:

* Spending the weekend with loved ones. I hung out with the nieces yesterday, with two dear friends, and with another friend and her family. I saw a former co-worker this morning. All of it was lovely.

* Tonic water and lime without the gin - delicious, and perfectly okay to drink at 11am.

* Windows open, and the scent of lilacs coming in on the breeze.

* Window-shopping for some small graduation gifts. I think I've found the perfect thing for each person.

* Figuring out that the derealization I'm experiencing at the moment seems to come when I go from a fairly confined space to a larger space, or from a space where I'm concentrating on one person to a space where I register that there are lots of people. So, for example, after talking to my friend M, yesterday, I walked to my car, and the whole world tilted in that much more open space. Or I was at brunch with a friend in a busy restaurant, but I was focused on said friend, so the fact that it was big and busy didn't hit me until we were leaving. It's helpful to know there are patterns, because then I can manage things much more effectively.

* More organizing of things, and a big box of clothes taken to Goodwill.

* Cadbury's creme eggs on sale for 23c each at Target

* Quiet
21 April 2017 @ 02:38 pm
Oh, for pete's sake.

Several things happened today.

1) I made the decision that I could not go into my place of work. I woke up with body pains, anxiety, dizziness, and fatigue. I had sensory overload (the sound of my PJ pants swishing as I walked downstairs was like nails on a chalkboard). I felt shaky and nauseated. I called my therapist but there were no cancellations for today or Monday.

2) I wrote to my area secretary to ask her help with some things I had planned for today. I had planned everything well ahead of time for an informal visiting speaker - organized a/v, ordered catering, paid for the catering, organized the publicity etc. All that I needed today was for someone to be a point person should the speaker (who is very self-sufficient) have any difficulties, and for someone to pick up the food.

3) Area secretary was great and promised to take care of anything that came up.

4) I went to the local coffeeshop to get tea with someone, because I needed to talk about what was going on with me, and more, to have human contact. The coffeeshop is not far away, does not have florescent lighting, and at certain hours is not particularly busy. They didn't have music playing, which was a godsend. While waiting for the person I was meeting, I saw my former boss's boss and said hello. I sat down while I did this because I felt crappy.

5) Secretary, while picking up catering, saw me in the window of the coffeeshop with said former boss's boss. Secretary got back to work and wrote me to tell me she saw me there.

*hands*. I wrote her back to say that I was not faking, and that I appreciated her help today. She has not replied. And I am left with two choices - to leave it at that, and run the risk of alienating her / having her think I'm ducking my work responsibilities, or to disclose my disability to her and explain the myriad decisions that led me to be in the coffeeshop in a pair of ratty sweatpants and a t-shirt, talking to my former boss's boss, while juggling a dozen different mental and physical problems.

For anyone with an invisible disability, this is sadly par for the course. But wow, it is the last thing I have the spoons to deal with today.
20 April 2017 @ 05:58 pm
I ran a 90-minute meeting while dissociating today, which was trippy. I was dizzy and exhausted and no one seemed particularly real to me and all the colors around the room were too saturated. I would have stopped, but I missed a meeting with these same folks on Tuesday because I was processing the trigger from the day before, so it felt, in the moment, like I really had to be there.

Now I feel wiped out and sad, but I'm in my body and the world feels real again. Here's hoping that continues tomorrow.

There isn't really anyone I can turn to at work and say, "my disability is really making things difficult right now. I need help," and that's leaving me feeling really isolated. My job is specialized enough that no one can step in and fill in on a moment's notice, exactly, and not all of my co-workers believe in PTSD (as if it's a question of faith). I'm left wondering how to fulfill my obligations without forcing myself to lead a meeting while dissociating again, because that is not good for anyone. And I don't want to let the co-workers silence me, but fighting the good fight about disability when I'm in the middle of a rough patch is not something I can do.

I think perhaps a conversation with HR is in order, although I've no idea of what to ask for, exactly. But having someone at work acknowledge this is a problem would feel like an important thing, so maybe that's where I start.
17 April 2017 @ 06:03 pm
Oh for pete's sake  
I was all in this morning, ready to take on the day!

And then I was at a presentation, and, without warning, someone showed a scene from a movie with a sexual assault in it.