Writer’s Bootcamp Day 1

I started this 30 Day project last year before my leg was broken,  I have been wanting to get back to it since I started to crawl out of my depression, but I haven’t had time.   I have a short break from my job, so even though I’m super busy in a lot of ways I’m going to try to make time for this.  I honestly don’t think I will finish it, because I know I’m a quitter, but I might as well try.writer's boot camp

The first day’s assignment is to write about your dream life as a writer

My Dream Writing Life –

I want to write because I want to matter.  I want the words in my head to mean something to someone other than myself.  I want to change someone’s world the way my favorite author’s have changed mine.  I want to make the lonely feel less alone because they are reading words I have written,  words that connect them to me, to life. I want to feel connected to life as well, I want to know I serve a purpose greater than just working for a company and making someone money.

My ultimate goal as a writer isn’t to be rich or famous.

I don’t care to be rich.   When you are rich you become important in that others fear you, because you could take away their means of survival.   The wealthy have power, the power to ruin the life of another on a whim. If you are rich enough you can have pretty much anyone fired,  you can have people arrested for doing nothing, you can sue people who don’t have the means to defend themselves and take away all that they have.

If you are rich you have a buffer between yourself and the rest of the world.  Even if you start out a poor or middle-class person as you gain wealth, you rely on others less and less.  You stop having real connections, everyone around you becomes a flunky. With wealth comes detachment from the world,  and I don’t think you can be a good writer if you are detached. How can you tell the truth if you don’t know it?

coffeeI’ve lived in poverty, frankly, I can do without any more of those valuable life experiences. I don’t want to worry about being homeless or going hungry,  I shouldn’t have to choose between medicine and food. So yes, I want to make money writing. Enough to buy a cup of coffee and leave a reasonable tip,  Enough to pay my rent every month, be able to go to the doctor and buy my medication. To afford to take my cats to the vet. I would like enough money to buy books and magazines,  to go to the movies. I want to have enough to go to dinner with friends once a week, to have a membership to the botanical gardens. I want to go to a few local nerd conventions and maybe go on a nice vacation from time to time.   I want enough money to buy cute dresses and get a massage sometimes. A little extra for a gym membership would be nice.

I can afford all of these things now with my corporate job,  and I can’t give that up to be a writer full time. Hence the dream, the fantasy.  Writing iis now and will probably always be side-work, because I have suffered plenty,  I have enough suffering to last a lifetime. I’m glad I have these shitty poverty experiences to draw from, but frankly, I could do without adding any more.  

In my dream world, I don’t have a corporate job,  I write for a living. Some days I work 10 or 12 hours when the muse is upon me,  some days I “work” by reading a book or listening to podcasts as I walk around a beautiful park (this is my fantasy world, so I can walk without pain or a cane).   Maybe I will be popular enough that I can do a small book signing in a local bookstore, maybe I will speak on a panel at DragonCon. I will go to workshops on writing from time to time making friends with other writers.  In my writing dream world, I get paid more than my current average of about $.25 an hour for my work, so I don’t have to work every moment I’m awake to get by. I can have hobbies and friends.

imagesIn my dream world where I am a “real” full-time writer, I respect myself, which is something I haven’t done in a few years now.  In my fantasy, I express myself every day,  telling the stories that currently clog up my head, releasing the anger and depression that they seem to cause if left untold.  I think that my work is worthy, that I am worthy.  I have earned my right to be and to be loved. In my fantasy I don’t feel like a useless lump of meat, taking up space clinging to a life I neither want nor deserve.

Spring Cleaning with the KonMarie Method

For spring cleaning this year, I have started reading the book “the life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo.   It’s a book about, well, tidying.  For me this time of year is for cleaning, which normally means lots of scrubbing and washing everything I can get my hands on, pulling out the stove and scrubbing under it, climbing on top of things and cleaning the places no one ever sees.  There are a few problems with that method this year. Since my injury, I have some pretty big physical limitations that I didn’t have last time I did spring cleaning, with no husband or roommates there is no one to help and due to of having a more than full-time job I have less time than I normally do.  The other reason I’m doing the KonMarie method instead of my normal method is that she is promising lifelong tidiness.  While my normal method sure does make everything clean for a while, it doesn’t make things more “tidy” long term.  It doesn’t make cleaning for the rest of the year easier.  It doesn’t actually make my house all that much more pleasing.   Also, I love the word “Tidy”, it has always been one of my favorite words.  TIDY, TIDY, TIDY!!!

life-changing-magic-of-tidying-up-2The idea behind this method is that you go through everything you own and get rid of the things that don’t bring you joy.  Then you organize and arrange the remaining things in a reasonable and pleasing way.

This is also the perfect time for me to start on this method because it takes about 6 months and I moved in about 6 months.  The KonMarie method will be a great pre-moving event.  I can pair down my possession and pack up the things I am keeping at the same time.  My friends Issa and Lee got a ton of boxes to me on Imbolc to start packing things.   I started reading the book the evening after the Imbolc ritual.

The first step of the KonMarie process is figuring out why you want to tidy.  “I want a clean house”  or “I want to be able to entertain without feeling too stressed to clean” isn’t enough.  You must ask yourself lots of questions to get to the root of what it is you really want from your space and why.   I have come up with two answers after several days of thinking about it.

  1. I want to live in a home that is classy and fun.  I want my guests to walk into my home and feel ease and joy, but I also want them to think “wow, this place is clean, smells nice and is pleasing, Everything I see is of high quality, and reflects Kitty’s personality.  Kitty must be doing very well for herself financially and emotionally”

Why do I want this?

Well, when I was a kid I was very poor.  When I was little we lived in a shitty single wide trailer without running water in coal country of Pennsylvania.  It was cold and dirty there, broken down cars and a moldy shack littered what might have been a very lovely woodland clearing. Everything was always covered in black coal dust and smoke.  When I was 7 my mother left my father and we moved someplace that I thought was like a palace.   We lived in a brand new double wide!  With a garden tub!  But looking back I know we were still poor.

As a child, I got teased for wearing used and ugly clothes.  I was often brought to tears because the other kids said I smelled bad, which now actually seems petty unlikely, I showered every day and my mother was a bit of a clean freak, but also a smoker so I don’t know, maybe I did smell bad.  I guess I’ll never know.  Once I realized how poor we were I wanted to never be poor again, I felt angry and ashamed that we were poor while so many other people were rich.  This started me having a lot of self-hatred and anger about poverty, but that is another post.  Anyway, I didn’t want to be poor and wanted to change that.  I now know this isn’t something you have a ton of control over, but I have done what I could.

I think I had just about reached “middle class” financially before my husband left me last year.  But I never felt like it while with him.  When we were doing things with his job I felt like I was super rich.  We stayed in nice hotels, we went to cool places, I met important people and ate fancy foods.  All of that was awesome, during those times I felt happy and important like my life was going the right direction, like I could do great things. During those times I got a little overconfident about being someone important myself someday, like a writer. All that opulence made me work hard and being someone great.    But at home we lived in a house that was a mess inside and out, that was full of cheap shit and clutter no matter how hard I tried to fight that.   Living here I have felt like sometimes all I do is clean, working 10 hours a day at cleaning to still wake up to filth.  Yes, I get that there are some emotional issue and compulsive disorder things going to be dealt with there.

My ex-husband had many good qualities, but wanting a clean and classy home was not among them.  He grew up nearly as poor as I, but with a family that was less concerned with cleanliness, quality and what other people thought about them, which my mother was obsessed with.   He is the type of person who doesn’t mind living in a house that needs painting, who doesn’t rush to clean up trash in the yard or tidy the house. And that is ok, not everyone takes joy from the same things.  I, however, take joy in a clean home and yard and in being able to entertain guests.

He is gone now which makes me sometimes feel totally broken with sadness even after so many months, sometimes super angry, but increasingly zen I guess.  He left me, he had his reasons, that sucks.  But it is in the past and I had no control over it happening.  It wasn’t my fault he left,  but picking up the pieces is my responsibility.   I have to deal with that shit and move on.

I am still living in “our” house, but soon for the first time in my life, I will be living in “my” house.  A place that is 100% mine.  A place that will reflect only my personality and values.  I value quality.  I value joy, art, and beauty.  I value cute things, colorful things, and stupidly adorable things!

I’m not wealthy now, I’m not even middle class with just my income (about $25,000 a year if I keep doing well).  But, I would rather have a few nice things than many shitty things. I will be getting rid of all the low-quality and joyless things before or when I leave.  This part of my life, this home is dead and needs to left alone to decay.

My new home will merge the aesthetic of a fancy spa and a candy store. There will be many candles and fresh flowers, cute candy jars for art reasons, pastel furniture, lots of bright white filigree, antique china, stuffed animals and doilies.   It will be glorious,  like Honeyduke’s from Harry Potter if managed by a Jess from “New Girl” and owned by Jackie O.

  1. I want my home to be a place where I can feel free to relax, engage in any activity or work on any project of my choosing when I am alone.

What does this mean?

20180212_141516_Film4To my left as I type this I have my piano keyboard.  It is covered in mail, clothing and dust.  I want to play the piano at least a few times a week, but I can’t because of effort and guilt.  It would take time to clean all the stuff off and put it all away and once I started cleaning I would probably just keep cleaning.  If I did stop and try to play the piano I would feel guilty, because for me playing the piano is something you do in a clean house.  Knitting is something you do in a clean house.  Coloring is something you do when you have done all your chores.  Even reading or being able to relax while watching T.V or taking a bubble bath is for people who are done with tasks for the day.   I can only let go and truly enjoy my inside hobbies when my space is clean, but because I don’t have a great system my space is seldom clean enough for me to relax.   I have tried to take all the things I want to do off the “for a good Kitty only list” but after years of trying I have decided to give up on that, and instead find a way to feel like a good Kitty.

I theorize that If I can get things in order,  only having to tidy for 15 minutes a day then I will have more deserved free time to do the things that matter to me.  I guess we will see if that’s true.

With these two very introspective, complex and personal reasons to tidy my home I feel confident that I can get this done.  I’ve already made a list of 80 categories that I need to evaluate, pare down and organize.

20180211_152203_Film4I have done the method for two categories so far:

  • from 24 to 18 blankets, throws and duvets
  • from 44 to 31 types of tea.

 

I will try to post here as I work on this so you can see my progress.

Play Me?

It’s the middle of the night, and the sleepies are missing.   I went on Facebook to entertain myself until the sleepies returned from their break, but that was a bad idea.  All sorts of ideas jumped in before the sleepies got back. My brain is on overdrive, unable to shut off.

There are a lot of topics on my mind, like how the differences in being raised male vs. female in a patriarchal society can cause those raised male to romanticize the experience of being female.  I could write about trying to get back into journaling and how I want to use that to deal with issues that I’m not ready or at liberty to discuss online. I could discuss my recent failures and successes in sex, romance and polyamory. Or maybe a picture I saw of really yummy looking flan.

But you know I’m not going to talk about any of that.  Instead we are going to have another rousing game of “What the Fuck is Wrong with Kitty!?!?!”.

Wooooo, yay!!! The crowd goes wild!

I saw three things on Facebook that came together starting a long conversation with myself and necessitating this post.

Watch this video, we can call it media aid #1 before continuing:

https://www.facebook.com/Themightysite/videos?fref=photo

There was a time when I felt in control.  I had goals and plans spanning years at a time.  Every semester I could look at my lists and know exactly what classes I should take. I knew what I wanted to do with my life, from going to work the next day until I retired on to a farm decades later.  I thought of myself as an “Epicurean,” not in the sense of eating great foods, but in the classical way.  I wanted to work hard, stay focused, and have a life that maximized pleasure by minimizing pain.  It was working.

Things changed.  I changed.

From time to time I try to regain that sense of control.  I read a book on productivity, buy a day planner, join a peer motivation group or make detailed lists and schedules on my phone.  For a while it works, and I start getting things done. Generally the day-to-day stuff like cleaning and exercise get under control first.  Once I feel confident in that, I start letting myself read, write, work on fancy garden projects, try to reconnect with friends, date, get a job, or make income.  I start planning for a few weeks, a few months.  But it never sticks.

I don’t know why.

I have theories.  Is it that I’m too comfortable with my life? Am I afraid of change?  Is this anxiety a chronic disease that I can’t defeat? Do I just not care enough? None of these seem to be the right answer, let alone a solution.

The plans and goals I work hardest at, and the ones I am most likely to be successful at, are the ones that affect the people I love or need.  That brings us to media aid #2.manipulate

Am I a symbiotic parasite?  Perhaps I find people that fill a need in my life.  I then give them what they want: manual labor, money, sex, advice, support, etc.  This makes them stay and do whatever it is I needed.  Am I manipulating people into taking care of me?  Am I lying to myself if I say that I not?  Am I some monster that feeds off of others?  If people who care about me read this and say “no, of course not” is it because I am just that good at the symbiotic part? Is there anything genuine about me? Am I writing this because the parasite part thinks it will help me manipulate the foods?

There are things that I want to do for me.  I want to edit my first novel and publish it.  I want to make money and do awesome cosplay.  I like knitting, playing musical instruments, and dance.   These things always end up at the end of my to-do list, because I know I’m not going to do them and I don’t want them blocking projects I will accomplish. I’m not going to actively do anything that doesn’t benefit the hosts I feed upon.

I’ve tried to get around this by convincing my loved ones that my goals benefit them.   Some recent examples:

I actually said to my best friend, “If you make me do the work thing, I will give you $5 for everyday I make money.  You can get $150 a month just by bothering me!”

More subtly I have tried to get people who have or had an interest in me sexually engaged in the idea of me getting back into dance.  This is reasonable because it could lead to me being more flexible, thin and graceful, which could benefit them sexually or socially.

I have convinced my friend and publisher to call me once a week and shame me into working on a project for her in the hopes that this would motivate me to work on her project and my own.

I try every few days to get a friend or lover interested in my writing, so maybe they will want me to work on that.

Think about the fucked up that this is.  I try to make you love me, so that you might then be willing to give me permission to love myself.  This is going to have to go on near the top of the list on things that are most fucked up about Kitty.  Why can’t I cut out the middle man and just love myself?  It seems like it would take less time if nothing else.  

This brings us to media aid #3rpg

There was a time when my life was a first person RPG, super-open world format.  I could grind if I wanted to, I could take side quests, or I could choose any number of big plot arcs.  I could do anything that I planned out in my little gaming notebook.  

Anxiety has made my playable world smaller.  I worked so hard to level up as an accountant, but I can’t have an office job or that sort of responsibility.  I used to think about going back to school and picking another character class, but that’s likely to be as much of a failure as accounting was.  Every time I look around, the number of possible arcs decreases.

Recently I don’t feel like I’m the person playing anymore.  I feel more like the character, just standing there in a tavern waiting to be moved, directed.  That perhaps if a good player comes along at least I can finish this game in some respectable way.  Or I can be used to farm gold for a more important character.  I can keep being a changeable part of the game, keep having experiences, keep advancing.

I fear that option might close to me someday.  That I will turn into an NPC, conveying one piece of information or helping the important characters by accomplishing a single task.  What if someday I realize I’m just the tavern wench? What if being the tavern wench is all I can be, all I’m made for.  What if being the tavern wench is what I actually want?

 

Too Fucking Happy?

WoW_Box_Art1I spend a huge amount of time thinking about why I do what I do, why I think what I think, and why I feel the things I feel.  I am on a constant quest to understand and control my own mind.   This has been great in many ways.  I used to have terrible anger issues with violent tendencies, and now I don’t.  I used to have PTSD flashbacks, but I haven’t had one in years.  There was a time when I dealt with my emotions by mutilating myself, and that is very rare now.  I used to pick fights with my loved ones. I used to play video games all day instead of living.  I have been known to have social media rage and be petty and petulant. I have control over all that now.

I almost never cry, my anger never lasts more than a few minutes, and I can work through big emotional issues in a matter of days.  I am supportive to my loved ones instead of antagonistic.  I like myself and would invite me over for tea anytime.  I’m not the most emotionally healthy person ever, as I am still a bit paranoid, have abandonment issues, and don’t trust other people’s motivations sometimes, but I have made progress on those things too.  I deal with a little depression from time to time, but with meds and practice I cope.

I know, right!  It sounds awesome!

I am happy or at least content almost all the time.  I am good at not dwelling on things, not letting toxic people hurt me, and doing things I enjoy.  A little too good.  So much so that I don’t seem to have any drive (yes, there could be many other reasons for this, but I am exploring them one at a time).  I think to myself, “Make money?” but then I look outside and scamper off to garden or pick flowers.  I think ,“How about some writing today?” but I say “Nope!” and play with the animals.

RiverI have goals (remind me to tell you later), and I have made some headway in reaching those, but I tend to avoid everything hard.  I float on a happy, lazy river in the sunlight, being pushed forward only by the current, going no place in particular.  I have a 50 minute timer on, making me keep writing this.  If I didn’t, I would be playing the piano or napping with Mr. Snuggles. In fact, now that I think about it, of all the writing I could be doing this is the easiest, with the smallest readership and the most comfortable topic.

Why do I avoid success?  It’s clearly something I want, or I wouldn’t write out goals and daydream about the future.  I think about being a famous writer, owning a farm, traveling the world, creating great things, but I don’t do the tasks that would make any of that happen.  I would rather be happy, supporting my loved ones and watching cartoons.

Social Media isn’t my Friend

This is a continuing problem for me, a toxic behavior, maybe even an addiction.  It eats my time, increases my anxiety, and encourages me to censor myself. A while back I did an experiment where I stopped using Facebook for several months.  I missed it horribly for a while, however after a few weeks I found that my life without it was better.  I was able to spend more time doing the things I enjoy and working towards my goals, while also not constantly questioning my value to other people.

UninstallSince then I slowly started using it again. A few days ago I realized I am checking it every few minutes. I am fighting the urge to check it now, while writing this. It is especially hard in the hours after I post something.  I poke the icon on my phone over and over, opening it and closing it, holding my breath in anticipation of likes or comments.  If no one replies, I start questioning the worth of my words and thought, dwelling on isolation, lack of human connection, and my failures.  I wonder what I have done to make my “friends” dislike and ostracize me.

Social media has made me confused about the entire concept of “friends”.  The majority of the people I interact with on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are not my friends.  They are people I met at burns or cons. They are people who know people that I know.  I only interact with a few people in real life, and those seldom, aside from the one who lives with me.

Yet I want these near strangers to like me.  I want them to be interested in what I’m doing, to reply, to ask questions, to debate the issues of the day with me.  I want them to be proud of me, to encourage me.  I want them to interact with me in ways that I don’t often get in real life and I’m not sure I would like if I did.  I want them to be the television version of family and friends.  I somehow want the people on the other end of the tubes to give structure and purpose to my life.

Without social media, when I am by myself, I am alone. Which is not a bad thing at all; I do my best work alone.  I have spent the vast majority of my hours alone and I like it that way.  With social media I’m lonely.  Reading other people’s posts, seeing their pictures, reminds me that humans are supposed to be social animals and that I am therefore failing at that aspect of being human.

Recent articles and studies criticizing Facebook and other social media let me know I’m not alone. Other people are feeling the same way, having their lives and self esteem sucked into the always hungry maw of social media.

Today I am deleting Facebook from my phone. This will not stop me from checking it.  . I will still be able to check it on my desktop to look for background acting jobs and keep up with my friends. I am mostly home all day. What it will do is stop me from checking it in bed, while I am taking a bath, while I am out having dinner with real life people or when I am outside in my garden.  This is a step in the right direction.

Food Guy goes to American Foods and Beverage

My friend, we will call him “Food Guy,” loves food. He loves it in a spiritual, ecstatic way.  Great restaurants are his church.   He wants to experience all the exceptional foods Atlanta has to offer, trying everything from hole-in-the-wall burger joints to the fancy foodie Buckhead bistros.

His girlfriend is a vegetarian, and six days a week so is he.  On either Saturday or Sunday of each week he has what he calls an “invisible” day.  It is invisible in that his girlfriend does not see him eat meat. Of course she knows he does it, but she doesn’t go with him on these food adventures. He can’t go to a restaurant alone of course — he would look a bit crazy ordering all the things he wants to try, which is how I got the job of food buddy.  I go with him, as an extra body across the table, a blow up doll so you can use the carpool lane.  I don’t order my own food; sometimes I don’t even look at the menu.  I am just there to try all the foods he buys.

This works well for me, because as a struggling writer I don’t have the funds to go to all these places on my own. As such, I realized I might as well write about all the places we go.  That makes it more like a real job.

Sunday we went to “American Foods and Beverage” at 250 Buckhead Ave.  First of all, I want to talk about the name.  Ok, it is descriptive, kudos. They are a place that provides American foods and beverages. So do half of the restaurants in Atlanta.   I feel like they should have tried a bit harder with the name.  This is the second location of this restaurant, the original being in Fort Worth, Texas.  Maybe the name is cute there with all the Mexican and Tex-Mex places, I don’t know. However, it is not a cute name here.

The location is overly fancy.  When Food Guy said we were going to a place with house-cured bacon and sandwiches I had an image in my mind.  This was not it.  I felt underdressed. I felt really underdressed when the server informed us that they had “complimentary water service, flat or sparkling,” like that was a big deal.  I have Atlanta tap water at my house and a SodaStream – you are not doing me any favors here.  This is not the first place I have been to that has done this, but they were the most proud of it.   Dear restaurant owners, pointing out complimentary water is dumb, please stop.  If someone is so wealthy that they are eating in Buckhead then odds are if you charged something for water they might not even notice.  But telling them “Ohh, free water” seems to imply that this should make a difference.  If the cost of water was the financial tipping point of eating there, then a person could go someplace else, like maybe Waffle House, which by the way has a complimentary water service and cherry syrup for their Coke.

We only had one beverage. Food Guy’s friend, L, got the Bloody Maria. It’s a bloody Mary except with tequila instead of vodka.  I am not a fan of Bloody Marys in general, but this was pretty good.  I would share one, but not want one of my own.

Time to tell you about the food.  My friend ordered for both him and me.  L ordered as well.  Between us we had:

  • House made bacon BLT: Thick cut, in-house smoked and cured bacon, with a runny egg, lettuce and tomato. This was good.  The bacon was a little thick for my tastes, but Food Guy and L loved it.  I think the egg was a nice addition. I would eat this again.  This came with fries, which were average thick-cut fries.  The bacon is their “thing,” the reason we were there in the first place.  I was not disappointed.
  • Corned Short Rib Reuben: This sandwich wins. Corned short rib has all the delicious flavor of corned beef, but it is so much better.  Corned beef is often chewy and fatty, but short rib is a much better cut. It was perfectly cooked with perfect texture.  Also instead of sauerkraut they used shredded braised Brussels sprouts, and the sauce was very good.  I could eat this sandwich every day.   It was served with fresh made potato chips, which were meh.  Not enough salt for me and a little too greasy.
  • Scotch eggs: The gimmick here was they were made with chorizo instead of sausage. The great thing about them was they were nicely soft-boiled.  Other than that, they were just like you would expect scotch eggs to be, but a little spicier.  Not bad, but not special.
  • Steak tartar: Not the best I have ever had (I say all fucking fancy, like this is not the third time I have had it in my life), but not bad.  The meat was not great enough to be the star of the show, and the other players were boring.  Better beef and less presentation would be good.
  • Fried chicken, with rosemary biscuits: Sorry guys, you are seriously going to have to up your game on this one. You are in Georgia; we know what good fried chicken tastes like. This was not it.  It was OK, I ate it.  But I wouldn’t take it to a family reunion, if you know what I’m saying.  I would feel ashamed taking this fried chicken to your house after your grandma died.  The portion was too small to make it at all worth the price.  The biscuits and apple butter were very good, however, perhaps they can be ordered by themselves.
  • A side of the special bacon: This was thinner cut and longer-cooked than that in the sandwich. It was my kind of bacon.  I have nothing bad to say about this bacon.  Good job, person who made the bacon.
  • Devil’s Food Cake: Good cake, maybe better than average, but not the best. Then again my mother was an award-winning southern baker, so maybe I just can’t be impressed by a slice of cake. The ice cream that came with it was quite good.

The deal that gets me wonderful free food is that Food Guy orders it all.  Had I been ordering myself, I would have tried the rigatoni with cheddar or ricotta pancakes, or was it French toast?  I would check the menu, but it seems that they must have spent too much money on the location and fanciness, because the only website I can find is for the location in Texas. But here is their Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/AmericanFoodBevAtlanta

Speaking of fancy, all the food was a little on the messy, drippy, or greasy side, which is great, but fuck you for making me feel underdressedwith your fancy tables, water service and Buckheadness.  If I had dressed up I might have ruined some nice clothes.  I guess rich people can just get their clothes all greasy and go buy more clothes.  Average people like me don’t do that. They should either make an effort to be a bit more casual or a bit less moist.

I would eat here again and try other things if Food Guy or anyone else was paying.  I would only pay my own money for the Short Rib Reuben or a side of biscuits and crispy bacon.

Society

“We are definitely not living in a post-racial society and I can imagine there are a lot of people out there wondering how much of a society we’re living in at all.”
-John Stewart

Society
noun \sə-ˈsī-ə-tē\: people in general thought of as living together in organized communities with shared laws, traditions, and values

In light of recent events, mainly cops literally getting away with murder, I find myself thinking about society.  The society I live in, if it is in fact a society.  In the above definition we see that a society has shared laws, traditions, and values.  However acquittal of murdering cops shows that we clearly don’t all have to follow the same laws.  The fact that the vast majority of grand jury indictments find that a trial is necessary, except in the case of cops, who are almost never indicted, shows that our traditions are questionable.  People feeling the need to criticize those who say “Black lives matter,” defending the actions of dirty cops, and trying to play blame the victim in every situation, including the murder of a 12 year old boy, highlights that we do not have shared values.

What we actually have are two or more separate societies, each one having their own rules, traditions and values.  Some people, like myself, have privilege that allows them to pick or move between societies to a degree.  I have decided that black lives matter. I have decided that it is probably not alright to kill people for being black. Aside from the lives of people I actually know and care about, I have decided to value all lives equally.

However, I can’t opt out of some of my privilege. I get to live by a different set of rules because I am white.  I am still female, and not wealthy or important, so I don’t get the special fancy platinum level privilege. I’m not a cop, working hard to make sure that each separate society follows their own set of rules, so I can’t, for example, choke someone to death anytime I want.

However I can get away with a lot of things.  I would like to draw your attention to #crimingwhilewhite.

https://twitter.com/hashtag/crimingwhilewhite

I will give one of my own personal examples here.  I was once in a diner, something like a Waffle House.  I swung on my boyfriend’s coat, forgetting that there was a bag of weed and a glass pipe in the pocket.  Both flew out of the pocket, and the pipe shattered on the floor.  Everyone in the restaurant turned to look, including a cop sitting at the counter.  He watched me snatch up the bag of weed; he looked at the remains of what was clearly a pipe.  He chuckled and returned to his breakfast.  A waitress brought a broom and we cleaned up the mess.  That’s the whole story.

It was that day I actually realized that laws don’t apply to everyone the same way.  It was then and is now illegal to use or possess marijuana in Georgia.  But as far as that cop and everyone else in that diner was concerned, it was not illegal for me.

I have broken into private pools at night to swim.  I have shoplifted, engaged in underage drinking, used drugs, been rude to cops, loitered, walked in the middle of the street, played in public fountains, peed in public, committed vandalism, and snuck into movies. Those are just the crimes off the top of my head; I am sure there are more.  Yet I don’t feel like I have done anything for which I deserve to be shot or choked to death.  Maybe some community service is in order?  A fine?

Killing me is probably illegal, even if you are a cop.  But somehow our larger society has decided that black men are worthless, and that they don’t matter.  The young man who lives next door to me could be killed if he engaged in any of my crimes. He has to prove himself every day, prove why he deserves life.  When I have gone to protests over police brutality, I get sick to my stomach every time a black man or woman starts listing out why they deserve to live.  I have never, ever had to do that.  I am deemed worthy just by the shade of my skin.  It is appalling to me that the society they are forced into requires that of them.

I want you to really think about this.  Think about the victim-blaming that the media has engaged in with all these cases.  When you are black, one strike against you is all it takes for any punishment, including death, to be justified.  Even if the cop who killed you didn’t know about the law you broke.  Mike Brown had marijuana in his system — STRIKE! — his death was OK.  Eric Garner was selling tax free cigarettes, and he was back-talking a white cop — STRIKE! — not a person.  Here is the best one, Tamir Rice, well ummm…he had a gun, but it was a toy, no rule broken, hummm… he was threatening to the cops… no, that can’t be it, as he was shot immediately upon the arrival of the cops… Ohhh! I got it, his father, his father is a thug and he had had domestic violence charges before, and we all know that thugness is hereditary, so he would most likely have grown up to be violent, yeah, that’s it.  He was going to be a horrible, horrible monster, so let’s say — FUTURE STRIKE — probably not a person.

A society values certain behaviors, and certain virtues.  We are a Protestant, Puritan sort of people, so we think the perfect person should be:

Smart
Educated
Clean
Well-spoken
Polite
Frugal
Responsible
Hard-working

For white people, just hit a few and you will be ok.  I am smart, educated, sometimes clean, and well-spoken. The fact that I am sometimes rude, lazy, and irresponsible are not really problems. In fact my flaws make me somehow more likeable.

But if you are black you have to have them all, and you have to show them all, all of the time. Being deficient in any of these areas makes you unworthy of such basic things as life, food, medical attention, and respect.  We even have special words for black people who don’t exemplify these virtues, like thug and welfare queen. Food for thought, I have personally heard the word “nigger” used as an antonym for all of these words.  It can mean stupid, uneducated, dirty, incomprehensible, rude, wasteful, irresponsible and lazy.  What a weird coincidence….

In America today some people’s lives are worth more than others.  Some groups of people can kill with impunity.  Laws and social rules don’t apply to all of us equally.  I am going to have to conclude that we have a caste system, not a fair, equitable society. We might not acknowledge it, we might pretend that everyone is free to make their own choices and move up the social ladder, but it is a lie.  Decades of statistics prove that you don’t get to move up in the caste system; if you start poor you generally die poor.  If you start black there is very little you can do to change the social stigma that you are born with.

All the underdog stories, where the kid from the wrong side of the tracks makes it big due to hard work and perseverance are mostly fairy tales, in that such a tiny number of people manage it.  They exist to keep up hoping, striving, working, and blaming people who don’t pull themselves up for being deficient.

We tell these stories of success and worth for the same reason we blame Trayvon, Mike, Eric and Tamir for their own murders.  We have to believe in achievable standards and rules, with reasonable rewards and punishments.  We have to believe in choice and free will. We have to pretend the cops are good guys and black people, immigrants, and poor people are bad guys.  Because if we stopped believing in these things we would have to realize that aside from a few wealthy, powerful people, we are all pretty much powerless. As long as you can convince yourself that you are a good person, worthy, playing by the rules, then you can ignore the murder, imprisonment, and slavery of others.  At least for a little while longer.

Why Kitty is Creepy and Can’t Date

I have gone out maybe twice in the last few years with someone other than my husband on something that could maybe be considered a date.  I count these events as dates anyway, though the other person clearly either didn’t, or did and never wanted to do it again.  I gave subtle signs of interest such as laughing at jokes, trying to make eye contact, and asking ze about themselves (zeselves??).   I didn’t make a physical move beyond a good night hug, because I don’t feel touching someone without their permission is ok.  I have some issues that make me unable to read certain social cues, so I can’t figure out when people are giving me permission with body language.  That means I always wait for ze to make a move, which seldom happens.

Both of these people were part of the large Atlanta polyamorus community.  They have known me for years, know that I am poly, and have been around me when I am flirty (read creepy) and when I am not.  Since they asked me out, I did not feel like I should be flirty, since they clearly know I like them or I would not have said yes.

I would like to date more, but there are some real problems with this.  I assume anyone who has known me for a while would ask me out if they wanted to, so I don’t pursue those people.  I have tried OkCupid, which sounds great on paper.  Here is a place where I can give all my stats and read other people. I can figure out if we have common interests and beliefs before meeting.  Yet I have only had one OkCupid date that went well, until the guy was a jerk over text a few days later.

So that leaves dating people I meet in real life, which I have realized is too complicated for me.

Are you available? 

I don’t know how to ask someone if they are poly or are interested in dating without expressing that I am interested in them or being creepy.

If people flirt with me in a subtle way, I am missing it totally. People also flirt who are not actually available, just because they like flirting, or like myself, they use it as conversation fuel.  I don’t want to make a move on someone who is not even on the field and end up having to explain myself to a pissed off mono-mate.  People should wear signs. There were some kink community events I used to go to where everyone wore colored beads expressing their sexual preferences.  I loved those beads so much; it stopped a lot of awkward situations and made me much more comfortable interacting with people.

There are places and events I go to where I know people I am interested in will be: local social gatherings, annual conventions, parties.  I have one coming up soon, where I think some of the people I am interested in are poly. I will only be around these people for a few days, so the logical thing to do would be to ask, “Are you poly and am I in-line with your sexual preferences?”

There are a few problems with this approach:

-When I say blunt honest things like that, people think I am crazy.

– If the person is not poly, then I come across as a scary freak or a sex fiend who wants to make ze have an affair.  I can have a perfectly lovely relationship with someone who is never going to be romantically inclined towards me, so I don’t want to alienate people who could be my friends.

-If ze is poly, and ze is interested, then I have ruined the beginning of the relationship/encounter.   My favorite thing about a new person is the tense time before the first kiss, the surprise.  If I come right out and say I want to date then the first kiss loses something; that lovely tension is gone.

I loved being a teenager for this reason. When I hung out with a boy alone there was an unspoken expectation that they might or might not kiss me, and I might or might not kiss them.  It was not very complex.  I kissed or was kissed by more than twice as many people in the years from 13-17 than in the 17 years since then. I am not happy about this. If we have met, you have good oral hygiene and are not mean to me, I probably want to kiss you.  This does not mean I want to date you or have sex with you.  I just really, really like first kisses.

Do you like me?

I can’t tell if someone might be interested in me sexual or romantically unless they make a physical move or tell me in explicit terms; for example “Hey, I think you are cute, would you like to date?”  But as we have already established, that is a social no-no.  I don’t think it should be weird, but it is.  it is weird and off-putting. I know this because I have tried it, and have been told I am creepy and too aggressive.  So sadly expecting straightforward verbal initiation from other people is unrealistic.

I sometimes feel like I should print up cards that say. “Do you like me?” with a yes and no box for ze to check.  But I am sure that would break some social etiquette rule.

How do I tell you I like you?

Let’s say I know ze is poly. I know ze is available. And I think ze might like me. What am I supposed to do with this information?

Let’s go back to one of those dates I have had with people I know are poly.  Check mark there.  I was pretty sure I meet ze’s general sexual preference criteria. Check.  But nothing came of it. Maybe because I could not figure out a good way to express interest.

When I actually like someone, I get shy and nervous. I get excited and tongue-tied.  I wanted to let the person know that I liked ze.  I tried subtlety, but when I try to flirt like that, people clearly miss it.

I have tried to make joking sexual advances towards people.  I am a short, chunky, cartoon-cute sort of woman.  I think people should think my sad come-ons are funny.  Sometime they do, and sometimes they don’t.  I have been accused of everything from being creepy and needy to sexual harassment.  I have pulled back on this behavior a lot, and interest in me has decreased from low to nothing.  If I come across as easy or desperate it sometimes works at least.  I got kissed by a guy I had a crush on for years by wearing him down. It was amazing; granted, I think he only did it because he was moving all the way across the country. And while that hurt my feeling a little, I am glad he kissed me.

However I don’t want to be a creepy jerk. I don’t want to make people feel icky. I don’t want to harass anyone.  I have been harassed plenty. Last week a man on the train asked if he could lick my freckles. I have been pushed into sexual situations I did not want.  I have been taken advantage of when I was too young to make sexual decision or when I was under the influence.  I am not going to get into these heavy sounding topics.   Don’t worry about it, please; I am not looking to talk about that right now, except to say that know how bad it feels to be pressured into things like that.  I don’t want anyone to ever feel like I pushed them or forced them into sexual situations.

That high pressure, aggressive behavior is what I first experienced, it is what I know. It is the only play in my playbook.

Peaked too soon?

I am poly because I own my body and I can do anything with it I want.  I am poly because I like new experiences and getting to know people on a physical and emotional level that is not appropriate in our culture for “friends”.   I am poly because I  want to play spin the bottle or go into a closet for seven minutes with someone I just met, but people in their 30s don’t seem interested in that.    I fear that my first kiss days are far behind me, fading away into fuzzy teenaged memories.

Exercising while Fat

Triceps I recently did a guest post over at Love Live Grow about the experience of being fat, loving exercise, and trying to ignore all the negative media telling me that fat people should only exercise for weight loss.

Go check it out: Exercise in Spite of Obstacles.  While you’re over there read other great posts on body acceptance, gardening and parenting.

Distant

The last few months I have had a case of the slow, or maybe the cuddles.   It is kind of like depression, but without as much sadness.  I haven’t felt motivated to write, garden, or go to social events.  Mostly I want to sleep, watch TV, and knit.

Sock

On the upside, I’ve finished several knitting projects.  On the downside, I am behind on editing my novel, the garden is a mess, and I haven’t been blogging.  That is going to change.  I have a goal to write 100,000 words before my birthday in July and to blog at least once a week.   That will be easier now that my blog looks so amazing thanks to the awesome Issa Waters of http://lovelivegrow.com/.  She is a great blogger who writes about homesteading, parenting, body/fat acceptance and social issues.

This might sound odd, but I think taking Zoloft has been partly to blame.  With my anxiety being lower, everything seems less important.  I don’t feel as stressed about anything, so I don’t have as much reason to push myself.  I got on the Zoloft in order to be able to do more social events and maybe get back into the world of business, but now that I am so much more Zen, I don’t actually care about making people like me or being “seen,” and I am not as worried about money.  There is a balance that must be found between loving the life I have and also wanting to make my life better.  I am a little too content recently.

The last few weeks my motivation has increased enough to write down some long and short term goals, get the house back in working order, and start this year’s gardening.   I also started work on a few writing projects.

In case you are wondering what I have been up to these last six months:

I went to Dragon Con for the first time in about eight years. It was a big deal for me to go to something with so many people and not freak out.  I don’t know exactly how many people there were, but it might have been the biggest crowd I have ever been in.  There were a few scary moments, like being stuck in human traffic jams on the sky bridge.  Overall I had fun and even bought tickets for next year.   Some of the highlights for me were playing dress up, looking at all the great costumes,  hearing several great bands, and seeing some of my favorite writers such as Jim Butcher and Cheri Priest live.  I like to imagine that someday I will be up in front of a crowd talking about my writing.gothNurse

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my best friends moved in with us, which has been awesome.  We have been having lots of fun mini-adventures when she can tempt me away from the TV.  I used to think that having roommates would be horrible, but now after having several I find that I like it.  When she moves out, I might have to find another one.L and Ninja

She exercises everyday which has gotten me back into the habit.  I love exercise; feeling my heart pumping and my muscles burning.  I like how good exercise makes me feel, but I hate exercise videos because they talk about weight, fat, pounds, etc. all the time. The thin ladies in the videos often chastise the viewer for being lazy or tell us not to have jiggly arms.   Shaun T’s videos have the least fat bashing, so I do those most.  I am seriously thinking about putting together a body positive exercise video for people like me who want to exercise because they like it and don’t want to be shamed in the process.  I find that exercise makes me a little more aware of my body and not always in a good, emotionally healthy way. I don’t need people in the TV adding to my issues.

I took a trip to Baltimore in November to eat crab cakes and be emo.  I did some sightseeing and went to several museums.  I recommend the Ripley’s museum if you ever find yourself there, we danced, played, created, climbed through a tooth pick city, watched teenagers run head first in to mirrors and saw some weird shit.  It was interactive and informative on things I find interesting, like carnies and giant mummified whale penises. Speaking of mummies, the science museum had an awesome mummy exhibit, you should go see that too.

Rick

Whale

Tight rope

 

 

goth 2

 

 

fish

 

 

 

 

 

Attempted NaNoWriMo and failed.  I thought I would do great this time, since I finished last year and had fun doing it. I started out strong, going to the social events, outlining a bit of a plot, even wrote a few pages.  Then I hit a wall because I wanted to be culturally sensitive and I was working in a genre that I normally don’t write in.  I will do better next year.

I read the Mistborn books by Brandon Sanderson, which was pretty good.  Currently I’m reading “Ship of Theseus,” which is written in a strange and interesting way. It is two stories: one being told in the normal way, and the other being told in the margins, by two people passing the book back and forth. I finished the “novel” part of it, which was good, but not great, and seemed to be trying way too hard to be weird and mysterious.

Mookie

Other than that, I went to a few plays and movies, spent a little time with friends, watched a lot of Adventure Time, created art, learned a few pieces on the piano and annoyed my cats