14 January 2017 @ 08:44 am
I'm struck this morning by a new consideration. Without money, I'm thrown back on myself in ways I haven't thought about in a long time. I can't structure my day around spending money in any fashion, and I'm committed to spending at least one day a week not working, so that leaves me . . . where?

It seems cliched to admit that I'm wondering who I am now, but I am. (Which tells me just how much I have used money to prop up my sense of self for a long time.) What choices do I make to pass the time today, what feeds me, what will restore my energy and joy? I can see a range of choices ahead of me - I have about a dozen books I want to read, for example, and I want to cook things that will make me happy, and I have yarn I haven't done anything with yet - and each one is imbued with new meaning. What will help me flourish? What will restore myself to me?

It's a thought-provoking moment. And one that I'm glad to reach. This is important, that I know who I am when I'm not working or patching over cracks. What an unexpected side effect of this week's events.

I'll begin with tea, since that is where I begin most things, and see how the day unfolds. This is, I'm realizing, a journey of self-discovery as much as a reckoning with things I've done.
13 January 2017 @ 07:21 am
The filling out of the bankruptcy questionnaire continues. I'm at the point (page 10) where you have to estimate the worth of everything in your house at yard sale value. For some reason this is even harder than listing my debts or who I've given financial information to in the last two years. It's saying 'this is how much my stuff is worth' but it's also saying 'but only sort of, because I couldn't recoup all that money even if I tried.' Which is a thing I need to sit with - a thing I need to learn on a cellular level. Things are just things. Things can't protect me. Things can't prevent me from hurting or being scared. I have invested them with magical power, and they're just stuff.

This is one of the hardest things I've ever done. It's akin to when I moved from England to the United States, knowing no one, and started over. I remember every day back then having to get up and face the day without a safety net of any kind - mostly emotional - and how relentless that was. It didn't fade for months. It feels the same now - I can't turn away from this, it's reality, and I have to keep stepping up, day after day. And it's on my mind at every moment. I woke up and immediately started thinking how much my kitchen utensils were worth. No way out but through.

I have friends who have been very kind. SO kind. Including all of you. Your understanding and generosity of spirit have been astonishing. I'm realizing that I equate self-worth with having money, that a big part of who I believe I am is tied to money, so to be told that's not true strikes me right at my heart every time (in a good way). It's going to be a wild ride to discover who I am without money. But I know I'll be better for it on the other side.


Yesterday I co-facilitated a conversation about sexuality at work. The conversation was wide rainging, but the part that's stayed with me is my realization of just how much I was rewarded by society - and by people close to me - when I dated a guy who ultimately was one of the most poisonous people I could have invited into my life. I don't blame people - there is enormous power bearing down on each of us to celebrate heteronormativity, and I'm quite sure people had no idea that in communicating how thrilled they were that I was dating, and dating a man, they were flagging my life before that relationship as abnormal. But it's striking, looking back, to consider the validation and affirmation I got, even as he was emotionally and sexually abusive to me. And no wonder that it took me so long to grasp the abuse when everyone was subtley (and not subtley) telling me that this was a wonderful thing.

What would it be like, I wonder, to live in a world where one's dating status was of absolutely no consequence, where we wouldn't presume that dating was a prize or a mark of success? Where we treasured people no matter whether they were attached to another human being in romantic or sexual ways? I'm going to try and shift my mental attitude toward that, toward simply valuing people for who they are, and not treating dating (or partnership in any fashion) as a peak that someone has reached. Human connection is a wonderful thing, be it platonic or otherwise. But I want to focus on "are you happy, whole, and thriving?" not "are you partnered? Can I affirm you because of that?".

Many thinky thoughts for this Friday morning.

Wherever you are in the world, whatever the time of day, whatever the day itself, I hope for a lovely day for you, filled with things that affirm you. ♥
12 January 2017 @ 07:32 am
We had an ice storm overnight, and now we have freezing rain. I have therapy and psychiatry appointments in a town an hour away and can't get to them. I called to let them know, and the psychiatrist's receptionist let me know she won't refill my meds until I see her (which I understand), but she can't get me in until February 2, before which I will need refills. UGH. I asked to be put on the cancellation list - can we all send good vibes into the universe that something will come through?

And has anyone had the experience of crushing headaches *after* a sinus infection seems to have cleared up? All evidence (from my nose) suggests the sinus infection is done now that I've finished my course of antibiotics, but I keep getting terrible headaches and pressure, and my ears are still not open all the way. I'm considering going to the walk-in clinic today to see what's up, but I don't want to be overreacting.

Thursday, I'm gonna need you to step up and improve from this point forward.
11 January 2017 @ 05:01 pm
I just got done filling out the first six pages of a bankruptcy questionnaire from a local, trusted law firm. I only managed six before it became overwhelming, and I suspect that will be a pattern, so I plan to fill the thing out (all twenty-two pages) in little bites over the next few days and have it ready to go by Monday.

But yep. I'm looking at bankruptcy.

I went to credit counseling on Monday evening. The woman who worked with me was incredibly kind, and I went with the attitude of 'suck it up, buttercup,' but it was still a hard, hard thing to do. She had all my financials (which I uploaded earlier in the day online), and we ran the numbers every which way we could, but I was still $600 short every month no matter what we did. (That's with her organization offering a debt management plan. Without it, I'd be looking at $1000 per month short.)

So I'm left with bankruptcy. It's likely that I make too much for chapter seven, and will have to file chapter thirteen; the credit counselor told me the conditions under which I should accept chapter thirteen, and is available for me to call at any time to have a second read of the situation. (All for free. The folks at Greenpath are good people.) I have an acquaintance who's a lawyer, and who recommended a bankruptcy attorney, and the first consultation fee is being waived. People are being very kind.

But, oh, I would like to fall through the floor. I would like to sleep for about a year. I would like to go back in time to September and make utterly different choices. I would like to bury my own head.

I have no money. My checking account is overdrawn, with bills yet to pay, and I have about $100 for the rest of the month that a friend gave me in cash. I am a disaster. I wish I could wriggle out from under this, but this is a thing I did to myself, and much like the car accident last June, it's horrible, but no one's fault but mine.

Ironically, I got the insight I needed into my own financial thinking over break, when I finished reading Hillbilly Elegy. Toward the very end, as the author reflects on a life that's much more secure and stable than it was when he was small, he talks about Christmas, and how his girlfriend's family exchanged modest gifts. This is a revelation to him because, as he puts it, Christmas in his childhood home was an exercise in making sure that if anyone peeked in the window at the situation under the tree, they wouldn't guess you were poor.

They wouldn't guess you were poor.

That's been my whole life, trying to make sure that no one would guess I was poor - and, I guess, as I grew older, making sure that no one would guess I came from poor. And all of that spending has added up to me having to wipe everything out. Ugh. There are moments when I think shame is going to eat me whole.

There is no way out of this but through it. There is no way to save myself other than to fill out the questionnaire, piece by piece, and go see a lawyer next week. If I could put into words the inarticulate noises that sum up how I feel, I would. But I can't. This is the best I can do.

I feel like such an idiot. But I'm determined. I'll make this right, somehow. I just . . . would like to undo what's done. And can't.

This is life.

I have to deal.
08 January 2017 @ 05:10 pm
I am just back from leading a retreat for some junior colleagues, a feat that would not have been possible without my co-facilitator being a champion and insisting that I rest as much as possible, or without her boyfriend stopping by my pharmacy on Friday evening, picked up prescription antibiotics for me, and bringing them to the town where we were staying. All hail modern medicine - the difference between Friday night and Saturday morning was dramatic, and while I am still not well, I'm leaps and bounds better than I was. Sleeping is still challenging - I wake up a couple of times a night because my head is so full and I have to get up, blow my nose many times, use saline spray, apply vaseline, and take more painkillers - but oh my god, I can't even express the relief I feel at no longer dragging helplessly. THANK YOU, PENICILLIN.

The retreat was full of lovely moments, too many to recount - people opened up in the most amazing ways and trusted one another and risked being vulnerable, and I feel so buoyed by hope and pride in everything the participants did. There was one moment that will stick with me for a long time - one young woman talked about how broken she felt when she was younger, how utterly wrong as a woman because of her desires, until she met a bisexual person at age twenty and realized she wasn't alone. I was that bisexual person, and she told me afterwards that she marked that date on her calendar and now celebrates it every year. My heart! I cannot even.

I am looking forward to a large dish of pasta in my near future, lots of tea, and an early night. I hope your weekends were good, and that if you, too, a struggling with sinuses that appear to hate you, that you get sweet relief very soon. ♥
04 January 2017 @ 06:53 pm
I woke up at 2am and 4am this morning because of some combination of my sinuses, a cough, or being cold. I then woke up and got up at 5.30am when my cheekbones and teeth hurt so badly that I couldn't sleep. Oy, it was awful. I came downstairs and googled 'my cheekbones hurt' because I couldn't think of a way to pose a question. Happily, I got some useful information anyway!

I've spent the rest of the day blowing my nose, drinking tea, and trying to rest, save for a trip to lay in more tissues with lotion, some saline solution, lip balm, and ibuprofen. I have googled all kinds of combinations of things, and have found a good remedy for my horribly chapped nose (a warm washcloth until the washcloth cools; petroleum jelly to seal things up) and the advice that I should try to sleep propped up tonight. I can't put into words how much I hate sleeping in any way that's not flat in my bed, but since flat in my bed doesn't get me to sleep, I will give it a solid go.

I am cranky! How I hope this gets better sooner rather than later.
03 January 2017 @ 04:22 pm
So, yesterday, on my journey home, my cold got worse and worse, to the point that I was a feeble, shuffling version of myself by the time I got to Chicago. So I made a pit stop overnight at my friend's house - who said I could stay? But then was sort of mean about it? It was all very odd - figuring that sleep would be better for me than trying to drive the 3.5 hours home. I think that was a smart choice, because however much 5am was an awful hour to get up, I did feel somewhat better for having rested.

Now, however, having put in a full day at work, I feel TERRIBLE again. There's an object lesson in knowing one's own limits, huh? So now I am home, bundled up and drinking tea, and looking forward to a long, long sleep tonight.

Of the lovely - my cleaning lady came on Friday, so I got home today to a spotless house. Hiring her may be the best mental health choice I have ever made. And there was a lot of mail waiting for me, including some holiday cards, which was so nice! I also took delivery of a new bag, since my other one broke rather disastrously and customer service is not hurrying to replace it. My new bag is purple patent and is fabulous. I almost want to go to work tomorrow just to use it. But I won't. See: learning own limits.

My face hurts from my lower sinuses being full of crud. If you are also out there with sinuses full of crud I salute you in solidarity. May we all find a way to make our ears pop very soon.
02 January 2017 @ 11:25 am
So, tarot. I should preface this by saying that the church in which I was raised (which practiced 'miserable worm' theology - i.e. You are a miserable worm, and will never add up to anything, that's why you need Jesus) preached that a person could go to hell for so much as glancing at a horoscope, much less getting a tarot reading done. And I realized early yesterday afternoon that I was still carrying that baggage - that I was intrigued by the poetry of tarot, but something in me was shouting 'do not consider this! This is evil!'

Now, I have trained myself out of believing most things are evil, and I'm also trying to practice being brave in those everyday moments where courage means getting over a thing that limits or constricts my life. So I said out loud, "I want a reading." And last night the lovely [personal profile] sanj came over to [personal profile] kass' house and gave me one.

It was fascinating. I will spare you the details of every card (not least because I may misremember the details) but the overall theme of the first few cards was very lovely - that I have overflowing creativity and I'm just trying to work out which of the many things I do is the one that's my passion and should be pursued. Lots of love in those cards.

And then I got Moon, Sun, and Devil. These are major archetype cards and were the most interesting to me. Moon, interpreted [personal profile] sanj, was how my environment saw me - giving light, but perhaps a little cool or removed. I was associated with keeping secrets, playing my cards close to my chest etc. (And I should add this I took to be related to my "real" life, since I am an open book here in my journal.). Then came Sun - how I see myself. I don't perceive myself to be cool or reserved - in fact I see myself as throwing out ALL the light, being the source of things, doing All. The. Stuff. And the Devil card was simply saying - what's holding you back?

I'm about to start a work project in which I collaborate with a friend and colleague. The last time we worked together on a similar project, the junior colleagues with which we worked saw her as the emotionally giving one, and me as the disciplinarian. Last year I did a similar project on my own, and I was perceived as completely emotionally available to people - so much so that we all bonded and got tattoos together (no lie). But now I'm about to begin the project with my friend, and I'm low-level tensed to once again be perceived as not emotionally available. Now, I need to do some thinking about why that seems to be the case when I'm with my friend, but as [personal profile] kass and [personal profile] heresluck pointed out this morning, people also tend to rely on archetypes to navigate their world, and sorting two people into vaguely stereotypical mom and dad roles can be a habit we fall back on. So I think I can raise this with my friend and have us talk to the whole group about this pattern so that we stick a flag in it from the beginning. I like that.

But I'm intrigued, above and beyond that realization, about the Moon and the Sun. In which other parts of my life does the cool / warmth thing apply? It's giving me lots of room for thought, and I have no particular conclusions yet, except to say that (as long time readers of this journal will know) learning to be comfortable with my feelings has been a work in progress for years as I recover from the trauma I've suffered. I would love to be the Sun - and I'm going to think long and hard about the places where I am removing myself, and whether that's a boundary I want to keep, or a place where I can dismantle an old and destructive habit.

A good set of things to be considering as the New Year starts!
02 January 2017 @ 11:02 am
January posting!  
Hello, all! Have a thing you've always wanted to ask? Now's the chance - I'm posting every day in January, and I will talk about things you have asked me to talk about. So leave a comment! And I will get working on those things :D

Headed home from visiting [personal profile] kass, enjoying a Flat White at my gate, and catching up on work email (boo). I couldn't have asked for a better start to the new year, and despite my gnawing head cold, I'm feeling good about going back to work tomorrow. More (including interesting things that came up when [personal profile] sanj did a tarot reading for me last night) soon!
01 January 2017 @ 11:59 am
Hello, friends! I hope that your new year is very happy, and that you are spending today as you wish the year to go on, whether that's curled up on your couch with a good cup of tea and a cat, or out partying with hundreds of your nearest and dearest. Onward!

I am visiting [personal profile] kass, and enjoying the company of a lovely [personal profile] heresluck, who among her many talents makes kickass challah french toast. YUM. I have enjoyed coffee this morning, and a mimosa, and there are delicious tamales in the offing. This all seems to promise a very good day, and a good 2017. (Last year at this time I was terribly ill from drinking spiced rum the night before. It truly was an omen for the year to come.)

Yesterday afternoon we had a lot of fun with a bottle of wine named "Irony." Ends up there are no end of jokes that can be made about a nice glass of irony (which tastes delicious). And last night we all got dressed up to the nines (we are hottttt), and before we went out to dinner, wrote things on pieces of paper that we did not want to take with us into 2017 and, with a [personal profile] sanj with us, set them on fire. It was SUPER satisfying. We also burned blessings for each other, and somewhere amid that conflagration the dish in which sat our honorary tea light split in half. But, as someone very wise once said, a crack is where the light gets in.

After that we went out to dinner with [personal profile] kouredios and [personal profile] squirrelhaven and [personal profile] kouredios' partner and ate such good food, and enjoyed the wine so much we had to take a picture of the label for future reference. And then home, where Kass, heresluck, and I changed into PJs and tried to stay awake until midnight. We managed - mostly by starting to drink champagne at 11.40pm so that we'd have some in hand at midnight and could then go to bed. But at midnight, after clinking glasses and wishing each other a good new year, I brought blessings to Kass, lifted from It's A Wonderful Life: bread, so that this house shall never know hunger; salt, so that life may always have flavor; and wine, that that this house enjoy prosperity and joy. Yay!

It is a gloriously beautiful day here. I hope that your day is similarly wonderful, and that this year brings you kindness and beauty beyond measure.
28 December 2016 @ 11:42 am
People, if you, like me, need a distraction on January 20 (inauguration day) may I suggest celebrating with me? I'll be taking my citizenship oath at 9.30am that morning, 1.5 hours before the inauguration begins. I'm squeaking it in as an Obama citizen!


eta: I'm in the central U.S.time zone!
27 December 2016 @ 01:08 pm
I cannot even  
There are not enough words in the English language for me to sum up what Carrie Fisher meant to me. She fought so hard, for so long. I've drunk a dram of bourbon in her honor, and cried more than I ever thought I would over a celebrity.

"I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out . . . "

Rest in such peace, Carrie.
26 December 2016 @ 10:21 am
Hello, all! I hope whatever festival of lights you're celebrating right now, if you're celebrating, is going wonderfully!

I had a lovely Christmas with some friends of mine who are chosen family. I was showered with gifts, which was so lovely, and I showered in return, which is always my favorite part - I like seeing if the thing I thought might be just right really is just right :D I think my favorite thing I gave this year were a series of customized 'self care for 2017!' boxes to several of my female friends. They shared some stuff - everyone had a big mug, and either tea or coffee for curling up and having some downtime. I gave everyone a small bottle of bourbon, a journal, a pen, some lip balm, some hand salve, and something to keep their ears warm. I also gave everyone an Everyday Bravery pin from Emily McDowell Studio, and I highly recommend them as being totally awesome :D I also included some Motivational Tattoos, and some little cloud bubbles (by the same store) on which you can write your worries, and then when you put them in water, they dissolve away. They were fun to put together, and everyone seems to have really enjoyed them!

I am wearing a new sweater today that was a gift, and it is cozy and colorful and just right. Yay!

Yesterday was very fun, save for the casual racism of a couple of people at dinner, UGH.

In better news, I wrote a pinch hit for Yuletide that people seem to be really enjoying, which is so glee-making. It was fun to write, and allowed me to take two of my loves and mix them together. Should you guess which one was mine I will of course write you a fic of your choosing :D

Off to check out the sales shortly. I am hoping for my wine glasses to be on sale at Crate and Barrel (a pipe dream, I am sure) because two of mine cracked in the last couple of months.

Have a wonderful Boxing Day, second day/third night of Hannukah, and general time of awesomeness, however you define it. ♥
16 December 2016 @ 04:17 pm
Inspired by [ profile] kassrachel, who was inspired by [ profile] wintercreek, who is transforming the December Posting Meme into a January version, I am doing the same. Feel free to ask me things, or suggest subjects you'd like to see me talk more about (life, fandom, knitting, whatever), and I will post on as many days in January as I can!
16 December 2016 @ 11:26 am
checking in  
Hello, friends! It has been a merry age since I updated here - I have been so busy thinking some major life events through that I haven't had time to articulate them fully, even to myself. But this morning I have some blissful, unscheduled time ...

The biggest news in my world is that my local best friend may be leaving for a new job out of state. The job offer hasn't been made yet, and there'd need to be some negotiating even after that fact, but my friend is excited and hopeful, and really loved the new place a lot. I am excited and hopeful for her, too . . . and also completely devastated when I try to imagine living my life without her living three blocks away. This is the mother of my nieces, so it's not just losing M that upsets me, but losing them too. And I do know that I would not be losing them in lots of ways, and the new job is driving distance away, and this is why cars and mail and the internet were invented, but my life would change an awful lot, and when my thoughts go there, I cry. I had therapy this morning, and 90% of it was me crying and trying to wrestle with this change - unearthing the echoes of other losses that reverberate in this one; thinking about what it means to lose family. I am trying to repress all of this when I'm with my friend, because my upset has absolutely no place in her decision making - I'm not about laying this on her when she's choosing what's right for herself and her family. So that means when I'm not with her I tend toward despondence. (I did say in therapy this morning "and it hasn't even happened yet!" To which Jan said, yes, but the facts on the ground suggest this is going to happen, and you can't help feeling as you feel. I kinda expected her to tell me to hold off on all of this until I knew for sure, but she is wise, and I trust her, and feelings are feelings.)

Outside of that there are some developments at work that I'm cautiously optimistic about. I let my boss and my boss's boss know that I was unhappy about being so vastly underpaid and overworked, and they've come up with a solution that, if it works out, could shift some of my duties and earn me more money. Fingers crossed that the figures (which we haven't worked out yet) work out.

I'm especially eager that they do because I am in a financial fix again. And I'm only telling you all about it because I recognize that I am deeply ashamed about it, and shame thrives in silence. I think it's enough to say that I'll be seeking credit counseling in January, as soon as everything starts back up after the New Year, which embarrasses me in that I've done that once, and who wants to repeat? (I am acutely aware of the idea that you keep getting the same lesson until you learn it - and that this has happened again suggests that I need to learn a different lesson to the one I thought I already had. There is some deep thinking about money ahead for me.) January is going to suck. But there is no way out but through, so through I will go.

The holidays have been kind to me so far - in fact I got an unexpected gift in finding that a series of Christmas songs I used to sing when I was in choir for nine years as a kid / teen are listenable again. I hadn't listened to them in years because they too viscerally made me think of England and those difficult, horrible years as a child, but this year I can reclaim them, and sing along in the car again. I think that's directly tied to all the work I've done this year about reclaiming England, and about going back in October, and it makes me glad that I can remember good things from my early life without them being colored by the bad.

Sunday the high here is going to be -2F before windchill, so my goal is to not have to leave my house at all. Good grief, but that's cold.

I'm reading a new book recommended by my therapist, and as soon as I have a better handle on it, I'll report out. It suggests - in a kind, supportive, thought-provoking way - that we are actively involved in creating situations we label stressful, and if we can change our inner narrative about such moments, we can change the moment itself. It's very provocative, and I'm enjoying it so far. We'll see how the rest of the book turns out!

I hope you're all warm and well (or cool and well if you're in the southern hemisphere!) ♥
04 December 2016 @ 10:24 pm
Friends - especially vidding friends . . .

I have a dear friend who is a lifelong Cubs fan, and I would love, love, love to acquire for her a short vid of the Cubs winning the World Series (and various historic clips) set to James Earl Jones' monologue from the end of Field of Dreams - "the one constant through all the years has been baseball . . . "

I am so very willing to pay to make this happen. Anyone know anyone who might be willing / able / interested?

28 November 2016 @ 10:26 am
Some Nerve  
While I was traveling last week, I read the book Some Nerve: Lessons Learned While Becoming Brave. I'd picked it up because I'm always fascinated by anything to do with anxiety, and who doesn't want to be brave? It sounded like it would be right up my alley.

And it was, although not in quite the way I'd imagined. Each chapter tackles a different common fear – open water, driving, and death for example – and the author not only interviews lots of people about that fear and getting over it, she goes out and tries to conquer it herself. It's a great book for anyone who feels like anxiety is making their world smaller and smaller (which certainly resonates with me).

What I didn't expect to resonate, however, was the chapter that talked about swimming. I love to swim, and I don't have any fear of being in a pool or getting my face wet, so I thought that chapter would be the equivalent of tourism for me – looking in on a fear I don't share.

And yet . . . it turns out I am afraid of swimming. Not of being in the pool and doing the actual work of getting from one end to the other – but rather of being in the locker room. I don't swim these days, and it's not because I scorn it. It's because the idea of going into an unfamiliar locker room pushes a score of buttons. I don't want to get naked; I don't want to see other people naked; I don't want to have to figure out the locker situation, or the showers. So I did some thinking – where does that come from?

And clear as day I thought about being in secondary school, and all the sports and swimming we did between age 12 and 14. Teenagers are cruel, we all know that. And I was on the losing end of that equation – I bet the girls who teased me were as nervous about their bodies as I was about mine, but I didn't know it then. I just remember hating getting naked around them, and having them make fun of my breasts, or my body hair, or how I looked with wet hair.

Swimming was its own private awfulness. I swam, completely unselfconsciously, for a long while after my body changed, but then someone pointed and laughed and I realized I had hair sticking out of my swimsuit and no one else did. I tried to tuck it all away, but that's a losing battle, and no one I knew, adult or otherwise, ever talked to me about shaving. (I'm not saying I should have shaved, but it would have been nice to know it was an option.) I went through a good couple of years of being deep conscious of my body hair and thinking something was wrong with me because I appeared to have so much while other girls didn't.

That feeling has stuck with me, beyond the point of being able to make choices about my body. But I hadn't realized how much it had stuck with me until I read this book – how much that experience was preventing me from doing something I really like, that could keep me fit and get me moving.

I have to do something about this. I have to figure out how to get back in the pool, and perhaps a local friend can help and go with me. But wow, what a revelation that I wasn't seeking!

There's also a chapter about driving, and I have a special fear of driving after dark. Eight years ago a deer ran into my car on the interstate, and I have done everything in my power since then to avoid driving at night. On the one hand that seems sort of rational, right? You can't see deer very well once it's dark; it did a lot of damage to me and the car; I could have ended up in a worse wreck than I did; I could have hurt my passenger; I should lower my risk. And yet . . . if I think about how many times I drive my car as opposed to how many times a deer has hit it, it's not rational at all.

One of the women in the book who was relearning to drive after an accident told her instructor the story of her wreck during the first lesson. The instructor turned to her and said, "That's just the story you're telling yourself so that you don't have to drive." She didn't say it meanly; she wasn't trying to mock her. She was simply pointing out that repeating the story was a defense mechanism, a way of not trying. And I was thunderstruck. How many stories do we all have that are about excusing ourselves of trying?

I read that chapter on a plane, knowing I'd be driving in the dark after I landed in a place I didn't know, in a car I didn't know, in snow I didn't feel ready to deal with. And so I had to change my story. I catalogued all the things I was doing to be responsible and in control – I bought water before I left; I drove slower than I usually would; I reminded myself that a deer had only ever hit me once. And despite some dodgy conditions (more than one white-out spot) I got to my destination safely. It felt pretty nerve-wrecking to do it, but as the author says, doing things that make us feel uncomfortable is part of life. Or it should be – otherwise we're letting life contract.

I've now developed a curious, reflexive habit of asking myself if I'm afraid of something as I go about my day. Do I hang back from certain opportunities because of something I'm scared might happen? Do I have more stories like that one about the locker room ready to be unearthed? Where else can I expand my life, rather than let it become smaller? And one of the places I think I have to studiously expand things is in the realm of fun. I've given up watching most TV; I rarely go to the movies; I've stopped producing fanfic. And I realized, poking at that, that I'm afraid of feeling things. I get the multiple ways that has come about in my life, and how me and feelings are a long work in progress, but it was startling to me how much I choose not to feel on a daily basis by rejecting things that used to bring me joy.

So this is my new plan: to seek out joy; to keep asking myself what I'm afraid of; to interrogate those fears so that they don't take on the mantle of truth. And I'm going to swim again, and drive myself places after dark. It's not a new year, but those are my resolutions.
26 November 2016 @ 03:53 pm
You know, I've held out on condemning 2016. Despite the small breakdown in February, and the car accident in June, and the trip home to England in October, and Trump, and the election, and all the people who died, I kept holding out that maybe 2016 would redeem itself. But I just heard about Ron Glass and somehow, that's my end point. 2016, wtf.

In better tidings, I just got back from Thanksgiving with [ profile] siriaeve. (My flights home were smooth and got in early, so I can only assume Delta was trying to make up for the experience of getting out to see her.) We had an excellent time, doing some shopping, partaking in festive eating, walking around a state park, and watching an awful lot of Hallmark Christmas movies in the mix. Which led to the defining moment of the trip. Please imagine: I am already in bed (on an air mattress on the floor, with every blanket in the house piled on me). Siri is waiting for the kettle to boil so that she can fill her hot water bottle. Somehow (and this started with her trying to figure out a story arc for Sam Wilson, Elf) we end up having a conversation about whether there is enough of a power differential between Santa and Zeus so as to make a relationship between them undesirable. (Because who does Santa sleep with if he's into dudes?) Both of us are laughing, Siri is very close to hysteria, I am crying helplessly, and I have NO IDEA HOW WE GOT TO THIS POINT.


Today I have welcomed in the holiday season with open arms. I got a tree, fir garland for my mantle, and a wreath for the front door. I pulled all my saved cookie tins out of my craft chest (of which there were 28), put together a tub of everything I will need for wrapping this season, switched out the fall decorations for winter ones, and gathered all the gifts I had in the spare bedroom. My dining room and living room are sparkly, with silver candlesticks and mercury candle holders in amid the greens, and now I am sitting before I start to clean up my kitchen, enjoying a frosty beer. It's been a very lovely Saturday.

I hope your Saturday is a good one!
22 November 2016 @ 10:11 am
On Thanksgiving  
Dear U.S.-based Friends -

This Thursday is Thanksgiving, a day on which we remember an almost entirely fictional encounter between the settler-colonists in Mâsach8sut and the local Wampanoag people. While the details of the Thanksgiving story are largely mythical, it is true that the settler-colonists would have died without the aid of the Wampagoag in those first few years. If we go to the heart of the story we're remembering a moment where Native people helped non-Native people survive.

Now it's our turn.

You've probably heard about the Water Protectors in North Dakota, trying with all their might and main to stop an oil pipeline crossing the Oglala Aquifier and going beneath the Missouri River. Millions of people downriver of the crossing depend on the Missouri for their drinking water - the Lakota at Standing Rock reservation would be the first and most drastically hit. The protectors have a phrase: Mni Wiconi - Water is Life. They are standing between the company and the river for all of us.

There are thousands gathered at the three camps that make up the Water Protector presence. Local law enforcement has violently tried to disperse the camps - they have attacked Protectors with rubber bullets, sound canons, concussion grenades, and high-pressure hoses. The Water Protectors have done nothing wrong. The land on which the pipeline is to be built belongs to them - the Supreme Court upheld it as such in 1980 when it agreed with the Lakota that the U.S. government had broken the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie, which promised the Oceti Sakowin (the seven council fires of the Lakota) the Black Hills region forever.

On Sunday night, after dark, when temperatures were at 27F, local law enforcement attacked one of the camps. (Warning for graphic video of the confrontation at the next link.) A concussion grenade exploded on one female protector's arm - she was flown to Minneapolis, and it looks like her arm may have to be amputated. An elder went into cardiac arrest and had to be resuscitated by camp healers. 26 people were injured badly enough to be taken to hospital. Many hundreds more were hurt.

Local law enforcement is knowingly risking killing people. You don't spray people with high pressure water hoses when the temperature is below freezing because you want them to back off; you do it because you want to cause hypothermia. Amnesty International has decried the attack as an attack on human rights, and has appealed to local law enforcement to stop these tactics. The United Nations has condemned what's going on. Oh, and Protectors are being arrested for "rioting." Mmmhmm.

Once again, Native people stand between non-Native people and catastrophe, and this time we have to do more than be passively grateful. This Thanksgiving, could you pass the hat at your dinner table for money to send directly to the camps? If you raise $5, and everyone did it, that would be an enormous influx of resources. Those resources would enable camp leaders to buy the supplies that are most needed - medical equipment (local law enforcement road blocks make getting anyone out of the camps by ambulance very tricky); below-zero-grade sleeping bags; camp heaters; winter-ready tents etc., as well as provide legal counsel to those who have been arrested.

You can donate at the following places:

To Standing Rock Directly (The tribe is funding the portable bathrooms, trash pick up, and other infastructure)
To the Sacred Stone Camp legal defense fund
To the Red Warrior Camp (direct action camp within Oceti Sakowin) legal defense fund
The Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa school at camp
To Oceti Sakowin Camp (the main camp) directly

All of these have been verified - your money really is going directly to the causes listed.

Please think about the encounter at the heart of Thanksgiving as you gather with your nearest and dearest (and those you don't feel so near and dear toward) on Thursday. Give back.
21 November 2016 @ 09:38 am
I am trying to get east to see [ profile] siriaeve for Thanksgiving, but so far I am being thwarted by the huge snowstorm eating half the eastern time zone. I got to Detroit yesterday, ended up having to spend the night in Detroit last night, and then today all flights to my destination have been canceled. I am now booked in on a flight that's 60 miles west of [ profile] siriaeve and will drive the rest of the way in a humdinger of an SUV (all the rental company could offer me. And in snowy weather, probably a good thing).

But I am keeping my cheer up. Here are some things that have been excellent:

1) When we were first delayed last night, the Delta counter lady brought out scads of snacks and beverages for us. I had cheez-its, a fruit snack, and a granola bar for dinner. I especially loved the fruit snack - little gummy bunnies. Yom.

2) I had enough money in my bank account to pay for a cheap hotel room last night. Yay!

3) I got an amazing latte this morning that was so satisfying.

4) I am stranded, but stranded in my very favorite airport, with the Ily coffee shop and the fountain and the great shops.

5) I had my iPad with me, so when the flight was canceled I was able to get right online and book a new ticket, rather than having to wait for the counter ladies to do it for me. Technology for the win!

6) If I get stranded for another night, I'm going to meet [ profile] tropes for dinner.

7) But I'm feeling good about getting out of here today. 7a) I am not at work

8) I started reading a new book called Some Nerve - it's about a woman who decided, at 40, to start doing things that frightened her because she'd noticed her world was getting smaller and smaller. Fascinating book, and lots that I can learn.

9) My former gate area is deserted, and I am charging my devices without trouble.

10) There is another latte in my future.

So, you know, it could be way worse!

How are you?