Phoenix Rising Volume 1

Something a little different on The Tangent Girl Volumes today. Yesterday was a big day for the hubby and he’s taking over today. Enjoy!

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A long time coming.

Yesterday I turned 43, and we had a kid free day to ourselves as part of the celebration.  It’s been a big year – one that’s seen a lot more of Davie – but yesterday was a day that was probably peak Davie.

After a quick lunch, we went to an appointment at David’s Bridal. We’re coming up on 20 years married, and in the talking about how different we were back then, Tiffani mentioned that since I wasn’t out at the time, I never got to go through the experience of wedding dress shopping. So in the name of having some fun we set an appointment, I got girlied up, and we went.

I’ve been out and open about my genderfluidity for long enough that I’m an open book – so I didn’t have any “what if someone finds out” nerves, my plan was to be forward about being gender fluid. Granted, I still had those “OMG this is like a dream come true I can’t believe it’s happening” nerves – this is the sort of thing that I’ve dreamed about, well, for decades.

But, back to the appointment. We got there, and it was packed. As we’re going in, a little girl on the way out looks at us wide eyed and says in her little baby lisp, “it’s chaos in there.” And she wasn’t kidding. Between brides and bridesmaids and proms, it was packed. So we checked in and started browsing the racks. Actually looking through the dresses was such fun – we both had ideas of what looks “weddingy”, but also wanted to keep an open mind. So when our consultant came over, we pointed out a half dozen different dresses, covering a variety of styles and cuts, and we went back to the changing room while our consultant combed the racks for dresses in my size.

One thing I’ll say – not that I’m really surprised – but our consultant took the “I’m queer and these aren’t natural” without missing a beat. I intended to be completely up front about things – and really I kind of had to – without natural cleavage, there’s certain dress styles that just wouldn’t work. When we found a dress that had exposed sides, and we were concerned about my bra showing, she thought for a minute before suggesting built in cups to hold everything in place.

But of all the girly experiences, it’s hard to think of something that competes with wedding dress shopping. Having someone bring in these absolutely beautiful but ridiculously extravagant dresses, having Tiffani there to help me in and out and to help manage the sheer amount of dress, and then walking out of the fitting room and seeing yourself in the mirror. The first dress I tried on was a ball gown, with a dusty pink tulle, and a white lace overlay. It’s kind of hard to describe, but there’s something unique about trying on a wedding dress. You can just feel it – standing there while Tiffani would adjust it, zip it, doing the buttons up the back. The lace and beading of the bodice holds you, the weight of all that fabric and the way the train swishes behind you as you walk. And to walk out of the fitting room and out in front of all the mirrors – it had that slow-mo feel, like walking into a dream world and seeing a beautiful woman in a white gown, only that woman was actually me. And to be able to walk out into that room of mirrors, to twist the train around and to glance over my shoulder, and just seeing all of the intricate detail, and the way it’d drape over the shape of my body – I’d dreamt of doing this for literal decades. And here I was, it was finally happening.

So I tried on several dresses, mostly ball gowns and A-lines, but unfortunately our consultant couldn’t find some of the dresses in my size. But we didn’t want to leave without trying on a sheath dress, as that’s a style that’s worked well for me in regular dresses. So she went off, and came back with a dress – an off white sheath, with a lace overlay, and a sleeveless illusion top. Tiffani helped me put it on, and as she was, she said “I think you’re going to love this.” And before I could even see it I suspected she was right – the way the lace came up over my shoulders, and the sleekness of the sheath style compared to the ball gowns. Walking out of the fitting room, the first glimpse in the mirrors confirmed Tiffani’s thought, and when our consultant added a little bit of bling in the form of a belt, adding a little definition to my waist and a little something extra to the silhouette, and that was it – I didn’t want to take it off. I actually put it back on a second time before we left. So, even though we were just there for some fun, it was really tempting to make an excuse to buy that dress.

After dress shopping, plans were to go do pedicures. But since we were down near Elkridge, and I’d been considering some additional piercings, and Tiffani wanted to talk about her next tattoo idea, she suggested we head over to the tattoo/piercing shop we go to.

I got my first ear pierced over 20 years ago. One hole in the left, followed by another in the left and one in the right. Pierced ears was one of those “girly” things that I always wanted to do, and starting with a hole in the left was an “acceptably manly” way to get to the point where I could wear earrings in both ears when I would crossdress. But even with that, I’ve always wanted to get additional piercings – a little hoop in the upper ear, maybe a stud through the daeth, or maybe a stud in my nose. I’d never really had the confidence to do it though, I got heckled enough for having girly long hair in high school that it was hard for me to get past it. But now that I was out, it was on the list of things I’d always wanted to do and no longer saw a reason not to.

Granted, I may have gone a little overboard at first. Tiffani’s “why not?” and some browsing of pictures had me ready to go get about 8 new piercings. We saw the picture of a triple front helix piercing, and I was ready to do that in both ears, as well as my nose and a couple hoops in the upper ear. Tiffani was taken aback – like I said it was too much too quick – and I don’t think she was ready for me to make so many changes. But in all honesty, getting them all done at once likely would have been more than I was really ready for – the excitement of doing something I’ve always wanted to do temporarily overran my own common sense.

But, back to the shop. After looking through pictures of all the options, I went in looking for three studs in the front helix of my right ear, but the piercer said that he felt two was really the limit. So I went with two, with little crystals, in my right ear, adding to the two in my left lobe and one in my right. For now, at least. I’ve always loved the look of multiple piercings around the outside of the ear, so these two are just the first.

After piercings we then went for a pedi for Tiffani and a mani/pedi for me. I was hoping to add tips as well, since I had broken a few of my natural nails, but the place we ended up at didn’t do tips. So I opted for the dip polish on the manicure in a soft purple, to coordinate with the light purple I did on my toes.

Needless to say, it was a day to remember. On top of three Davie days in a row at work this week, a first, having a day where – from start to finish – it was dedicated to my feminine side, there was a certain amount of confirmation of Davie as a part of me.

It wasn’t a day of pretending, it was a day of doing.

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This is MY blog after all so I feel the right to chime in. 😁 The day was amazing for Davie, but it was really awesome for me to.

In my memory I can only remember one time in the past where I ever saw a look of such awe, such pure unfettered joy in Davie eyes, and that’s the day we got married. Nervous at first but absolute **LIGHT** that came into her when her eyes first hit the mirror… it’s one of the most awesome things I’ve ever witnessed. And just watching the confidence, the naturalness as dress after dress went on, it was amazing.

And it was kind of nice. My own wedding dress shopping was kind of a nightmare. I was in tears more than once. Being so overweight in a wedding salon is no fun. I think it’s gotten better but back then, after 3 salons if only been able to zip into 2 dresses. There’s nothing like standing on a dias surrounded by mirrors and dozens of people and having the consultant (loudly) say, “Sorry, we don’t keep samples in such large sizes, well just have to hold them up in front of you and you can get an idea what it would look like.” So in a way, being able to enjoy the process allowed me to share some joy in the process this time too.

And then there was that sheath dress. It’s funny, like Davie said, I was halfway done zipping it up and I said, “You are going to LOVE this one.” I couldn’t even really see what it looked like yet, but I just knew. Now there may have been some cussing on my part doing up the buttons (so beautiful but what a pain in the ass!!) but it was SO. WORTH. IT. As soon as Davie turned around I said, “That’s it. That’s perfect.” It was just so… Davie. When we did the whole treatment including the sparkling belt and a mantilla style lace veil…. I’m not sure, but I think there may have been a few teary eyes all around. Truly one of the most amazing moments in my life.

It just makes me even sadder for those that don’t have their loved ones accept them. I’m not saying it isn’t hard, and I’m not saying I’ve be chill about every step along the way, or that I take every step in the future in stride. But how you could look at someone you love, and see what I saw yesterday, and still not at least feel joy in their joy… it’s hard to believe those people even know what the meaning of love really is.

Bury the Lead (and Then the Bodies)

I did a little work on the book today – yay for me, three 3 weeks in a row of keeping my resolution to write!  I was working on a chapter, with aforementioned title above, about my struggles with the damage my mental health and my lack of addressing it has had on some of my relationships, one relationship in particular (I don’t, and am not, divulging the nature of that relationship for ‘reasons’.) I’m trying to talk myself through the – “what do I do about those relationships now” part of things. Below is an excerpt from the draft that I particularly liked and wanted to share. Enjoy!

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… once you make […] whatever attempts you can at making amends, you get to let it go. We DO NOT have responsibility for or ownership of other people’s thoughts, actions, emotions, or reactions to things. And other people are under no obligation to accept our olive branches or to choose to continue to deal with us and our illnesses. But that is something that THEY own, not us. Put out there into the world what you can and don’t beat yourself up if they can’t, or won’t, take what you give – just move on. I think this is one of the most kind, and cathartic, things we can do for ourselves.

But I think it’s also important to believe that not only do you not owe them your guilt or endless attempts to reconcile, you don’t owe them anything else either. It drives me crazy that we’re always supposed to take the “high road.” That regardless of how people treat you or others, despite what they give or don’t give to you, you’re always supposed to give back anything they ask for. You need support and understanding, and they won’t give it, but they think they have a right to continue to demand your respect, to demand your time, even to demand your love. And maybe you truly think they deserve those things even if they can’t support you, but that needs to be because you want to give it – they don’t get to demand a damned thing from you.

And DO NOT fall for the whole, “You owe it to me for what you put me through” or “you owe it to me for all I’ve done for you in the past” or maybe even worse the “you owe it to me simply because I’m your sibling/ parent/ grandparent/ best friend/ etc..” That. Is. Bullshit. Relationships may be like a bank, where the ‘deposits’ you put in through the years add up so you can cash in on them later when you need to, emotional capital is a real thing. BUT, and this is the important part – if that person turns around and takes all their ‘money’ out of the bank but still expects you to keep writing checks, you don’t have to fucking do that.

And who knows? Maybe eventually I’ll even take my own advice and move on from my own battles with this particular issue. Though let’s be honest, probably not.

I’m Writing My Way Out

I promised I’m going to write. So I figured I’d let you guys know what writing-stuffs I’m working on / conceptualizing.

I’m still trying to finish the “memoir.” At 30,000 words I think I’m about 2/3rds of the way there. It seems unclear to me what the length of that kind of work “should” be, but one of my author friends encouraged me to just write until the story was done and not worry about the word count. That’s somewhat hard to do when the book is about you (I sure as hell hope there’s no “done” with that!) but I feel like I have a good idea of what there is left that I want to talk about in there, so we’ll see. If I could finish the draft by the end summer I’ll be happy. That’s be 2 two years in the making, but for the first full length piece I’ve done, and with my busy life, I’ll feel pretty good if I can hit that goal. The jury is, of course, still out on whether I will achieve that.

I’ve also got ideas for some fiction stuff. I talk in the book I’m currently writing about how I stopped writing for a long time because all I was writing was fiction and I think I kinda suck at it. But I have a few ideas so I’m thinking of giving it another try.

The first would actually be an expansion of a short story I wrote. I had a few bookworm friends read it years ago when I first wrote it and they were pretty “meh” about it. But then that author friend of mine read it and liked it. His main comment was that he liked it enough that it was a disappointment that it was so short and all exposition within the main character’s head. So I may give it a try. It will be interesting to see how it works out because while I do have ideas for how I would expand it, it’s more of a sci-fi or fantasy genre depending on how I decide to spin it, which I haven’t really been into of late. It will be interesting to try and write in a style I haven’t really be reading for a few years.

Sci-Fi v. Fantasy—- FIGHT!

My other idea is more along the “superhero” / adventure / pulp end of things. I love RPGs and one of the games I really enjoy is Evil Hat’s Spirit of the Century. It’s a very pulpy action type setting, kind of Indian Jones-esque. Having played many times, I’ve got a kick ass female character I adore and would love to make into a main character in a book. And I’ve gotten to know a lot of my fellow players’ characters too, so I think there is something there. I’ve run three different sessions of the game so I even have plots already outlined that I could pull from . The main challenge will be changing it up enough, developing my own world with a pulpy feel, that I am not being too referential to the game since I enjoy NOT being sued for copyright infringement.

I’ve also considered writing another memoir. The process of starting a family was a 10 year long ordeal for Davie and I, and it’s a story I may want to tell. My main hesitation on that is that I’d rather wait until my son is older and can weigh in. I don’t want to tell his story if he doesn’t want it told and there’s no point in working on something that won’t see the light of day.

I dream of having enough artistic talent to write a comic strip, as well. I have this idea I’d love to try out but my artistic skills are pretty much zero. I’ve considered trying out some sketches – the style I am interested is quite simple – more like Sarah Anderson or Allie Brosh – so it might be worth a try. My main concern is I get easily frustrated, and I’m worried that if I try and I can’t make it work that it will be worse than just leaving it in my head (thanks depression and anxiety, you are SOOO awesome.)

So that’s about it for now. Heaven only know (doubts actually) that most of this will find its way onto any piece of paper or any screen, but feeling like I HAVE ideas, that I’m putting things down here, that I’m making notes on ideas as I think of them, that there is a light at the end of the tunnel with finishing my current book – most of the time that really helps with the depression. Right now it’s the actual DOING of something I love, of not quitting, that’s making me feel like I’m not completely failing, helps push back the depression and anxiety just a little. Maybe I really do just need to write my way out. (credit LMM et al.)

Be LESS Fail-y

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. Honestly, if you think waiting until some arbitrary date is going to make it more likely that you will succeed at something you aren’t already doing, I think perhaps you’re an idiot. At the very least a Pollyanna, which frankly is pretty much just a well-meaning idiot.  There is a slim chance of a “New Year’s Resolution” sticking. And yet, here I am making a 2019 resolution.

I tend to get so stuck in my own head (thanks depression!) or so busy (thanks work and family!) that I don’t put anything down here or in the book – I don’t write. I either think I don’t have anything to say that people would actually want to read or I do the whole “That’s a great idea, I’ll get to writing about it in a little bit.” On that latter, there were at least 3 times in 2018 when, by the time I sat down to write, I couldn’t for the life of me remember what it was I was going to write about. Senility is a harsh mistress. But so is my tendency to feel like I can’t do a thing if it isn’t perfect, which is one (of the many) banes of my existence. I’m so terrified of ridicule and failure that I just don’t do anything.

But I’m going to try to at least write something every week (besides work emails and Tweets). Whether it’s a blog post, or work on the book, or even work on a project or outlining a new story idea… I’m going to try to stop making excuses, or talking myself out of things, and make myself put something on a page.

I am resolved to be less of a failure in 2019. Making lofty goals, that’s me.

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide?

Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes! Click here to subscribe!http:// http://thetangentgirlvolumes.com/wp-login.php?action=register

And find me on my Facebook page at Tangent Girl Volumes and on Twitter @tangentgirrl

Imagine Better

So this post might seem a little fan girlish at first, but I’ll ask you to stick with me because I truly feel it’s more than that.

About a year ago I went to my first Imagine Dragons concert. I’d heard their songs, because I live in a first world country and occasionally turn on the radio. I liked them, but I wasn’t a “fan” per se. This concert was just something I had booked to take my sister, who is developmentally delayed and absolutely loves music, out to as something she would really enjoy.

It’s important to place this against the background of the fact that just a few months earlier I had experienced a complete mental health crash & burn / suicide attempt / hospitalization. First time in my life. I was still recovering from being confused and ashamed and frustrated and terrified. And when I listened to Dan Reynolds speak during the concert about his own mental health issues, encouraging and supporting and validating others like himself who struggle with these things, I was smitten. Going to that concert made me love their music, but it made me love him and their band even more. I’ve seen them again since then, and my feelings remained the same. They have been my playlist of choice ever since. I thought it couldn’t get any better than that, but it did.

Recently a friend suggested that we watch the HBO documentary “Believer.” And we were intrigued so we did. Let me just put this out there for you — you should totally watch it, and you should totally have a bucket of Kleenex sitting next to you. Everything I felt before about Dan Reynolds, all of my respect, and gratefulness…. those things paled in comparison to what I learned and discovered and feel now that I have watched that.

I vaguely knew that he is a Mormon, and grew up in Utah in a very conservative Mormon community. But what I didn’t know is that he stepped back at some point and realized that the suicide rate for Mormon LGBTQ youth was astronomially high because of the stance of the church on shunning and excommunicating them, on everyone rejecting them and disowning them for being what they were, for being who they were. And while he has Faith, while he maintains his Faith, he didn’t think that was right or made any kind of sense. And at the risk of being rejected by his community, by the church that he loves and he believes in, he chose to speak out. And not just speak out but to put his money where his mouth is and try to advocate for real change.

And I guess I wonder if people understand how monumental that is. Celebrities and other famous people get a lot of flak for speaking out and for people feeling like it’s either a publicity stunt, or a ‘why should we care what this person thinks just because they act or sing or are  famous in some way.”

But he risked everything.

Family, Friends, community, his god. That’s not something you do because you want to be famous, or you want people to think you’re a ‘good guy.’ He risked everything to try and help a community of people that he saw being unfairly, unjustly disadvantaged to the point of death. Sitting with my gender fluid husband and watching that, knowing that wasn’t our world but was still the world we lived in, spoke to me in a more profound way than anything else could have.

So you’ll have to forgive me if I can’t help but think he is one of the most awesome young people in our modern world. Will I go see their concerts? Will I listen to their albums (the newest of which clearly focuses almost entirely upon this concept of otherness & ostracizationand & fear & damage & even death)? Will I support him and them in the things that they do? The answer to all of these is absolutely, positively, without a second of hesitation, YES.

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

Click here to subscribe! http://thetangentgirlvolumes.com/wp-login.php?action=register

And find me on my Facebook page at Tangent Girl Volumes and on Twitter @tangentgirrl

Actions Don’t Speak, They Scream

As you might expect, the process of working Dave/Davie’s gender fluidity into our lives has been difficult.  It’s a lot for us to understand, figure out, adjust to – – so it’s bound to be hard for others, too. I get that. I don’t fault people for finding it awkward, or even uncomfortable – it is. I mean, it still is for ME sometimes.

But I liken the situation to my rant on racism in http://thetangentgirlvolumes.com/index.php/2018/08/15/no-parent-no-child-no-person-should-know-this-fear/ — what you think or feel is a natural reaction you don’t control, but how you ACT determines whether or not you are being a bigot. You can feel awkward but decide to try and move past that, to step up and treat the person in front of you as a human being who is no different from any other human being. And hey, I agree that how you conduct yourself can also depend on the person you’re dealing with. If they are someone who easily takes offense to innocent missteps, the fear of doing something wrong may make you try to avoid them. But if the person you are dealing with is laid back and understanding and nonplussed, and they openly express that, you really have no excuse.

I should be thankful that we’ve not directly faced any bad or upsetting situations to date (there’s an indirect situation to be sure, but that’s far more complicated than this one issue.) Awkward yes, but not bad. But that led us into a sense of complacency. We let our guard down. So when the freight train came, especially coming out of no where, it was that much worse.

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Dave came to Vancouver last week at the end of my conference to stay for an extra few vacation days exploring the city. He arrived in time for the dinner with my colleagues that we always have at these events (~35 people from across 4 campuses). Now I’ve made it no secret since he came out, including at my office, that Dave is gender fluid, but it’s not like I’m walking up to people and randomly saying “Hey, my husband is queer, FYI!”

(No Debbie, I DO NOT want to hear about your liquid gluten free organic vegan diet and hot yoga classes, thank you very much.)

So knowing that he would present as Davie should he be feeling feminine that night, I did feel the need to try and give a heads up to everyone there. I’d recently had a situation where someone had missed my off-hand mentions of his fluidity and was mortified by their reaction to meeting Davie for the first time because they really were totally fine with it, just taken by surprise. I didn’t want anyone else to have that happen to them. I didn’t get to every single person coming, but got to a good chunk, and everyone seemed cool.

So the dinner started out with a little bit of mingling, and it was awkward, but people were chatting with us. The wait staff kept asking me to have everyone take their seats, but I wasn’t having much luck, so Davie and I were the first people that sat in hopes the others would follow suit. After about 5 minutes or so the wait staff were much more direct and folks found a seat. There were three tables set up – an ~20 person table and parallel to that, two ~11 seaters arranged end to end so they were the same length as the larger table. We were at the end of the shorter table opposite the other short table. One of the attendees, P, was the only one there from her campus, but she knows me, so she came and sat with us.

AND THAT WAS IT.

Everyone else crowded themselves into every seat at the larger and other smaller table, barely with any elbow room, and left a yawning gap of 8 empty seat between Davie, myself, and P and the other small table.

I was stunned. And upset. And angry. I’d told Davie this was a safe space. I’ve worked with some of these people for over a decade; I even considered a few of them my friends, some of them even have their own LGBTQ connections. How could they do this? I felt a tremendous sense of guilt for being so wrong, and because of that for putting Davie (and myself) in that position.

I also felt utterly embarrassed. The situation was not subtle. The head waiter came and hesitantly asked us if we expected anyone else to join us, and all I could do was say, “Guess not.” He paused a moment, kind of taking the whole thing in, and then said “You know what? That’s good! It just means you three ladies are a smaller group so we can get you everything first!” And true to his word, he was super attentive to us all night. But he noticed BECAUSE IT WASN’T SUBTLE. He handled it beautifully, couldn’t ask for better, but the fact that it was so obvious was humiliating.

And here’s the thing – I didn’t know everyone who was there well, I don’t work a lot with the folks at the other campuses. I wouldn’t expect someone to necessarily sit with someone they don’t know even under “normal” circumstances. But I did know over half of the people there. And I don’t necessarily believe that every person purposefully choose to sit elsewhere to avoid us. But like I said – IT WASN’T SUBTLE THAT WE’D BEEN LEFT SITTING ALONE. At any point any of them could have said, “Oh hey, let’s go sit with Tiffani & Davie – there’s lots of open seats and we don’t want them to feel ostracized.” But no one did that.

And honestly, I don’t know which of those things is worse – avoiding us or having so much apathy and so little compassion for someone that you’d leave them in that position. It’s every socially-anxious teenagers nightmare – I thought that shit stopped back in high school?  I mean, I hate making small talk with strangers, but no matter how uncomfortable I felt I could never do that to another human being, whether I knew them or not. It was immature. And hurtful and cruel.

I wanted to just leave, but I had my boss’ card to pay, and it wasn’t like I could just hand his credit card to someone else. So we sat there, for 2 hours, enduring this and trying to make the best of it. Thankfully P is an amazing person and the three of us did manage to have some fun, but there was a cloud hanging over the whole night. I only got a few hours of sleep that night and spent the rest of the time crying. To be so blind-sided by people you trust(ed) and respect(ed) was absolutely crushing.

I guess something bad had to happen at some point. The reality is, not everyone is accepting, not everyone is willing to sacrifice their comfort for the good of someone else’s feelings and well-being. I just wish this hadn’t been where that played out.

 

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

Click here to subscribe! http://thetangentgirlvolumes.com/wp-login.php?action=register

And find me on my Facebook page at Tangent Girl Volumes and on Twitter @tangentgirrl

The Present of Presence

Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.

~Aldous Huxley

[This post is definitely going to be considered TMI by some folks, so please feel free to opt out now if any mention of intimacy, no matter how generalized and vanilla, gives you the creeps.]

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about taking things for granted, and Dave and I have recently had a number of discussions about it, too. A lot of my thinking started while he was away in Greenland, about how much I don’t know about what needs doing or how to do it around the house because I never have to think about it – Dave takes care of it. I’ve tried to be better about being cognizant and helping out, though I know I’ve backslid on that a little as of late.

As for Dave and I, the discussions have been a bit different. When we first got married, Dave worked at a construction-type job and had to leave the house by like 5am or something. AND he was taking night classes. Despite that, every morning before he left he would lay next to me and rub my back, or rub my feet… just 5 minutes or so of doing something, with no prompting whatsoever, to have that quiet moment at the beginning of the day to connect and show me he cared. At some point along the way, that stopped. But recently, after he got back from Greenland he started doing it again. He said it occurred to him that though he had even less time back then, he’d made the effort. So why wasn’t he doing it now? Why did he start taking that time and the emotional impact it had for granted? You realize, in the end it’s the small things that most define our relationships, but it’s almost as if we stop “seeing” each other at some point. We go through the motions without ever really stopping to consciously be together. It’s amazing how different it feels when you choose to be present.

I is here. And I boops yur snoot cuz I luvz you.

And that’s led to another discussion. Even after all these years, we’re fortunate to still like each other and to still enjoy an active intimate relationship. But my paranoia has always left me wondering – is it really everything he wants and desires? Am I really fulfilling his needs? We’ve talked about this (endlessly) in one context or another for as long as we’ve been together. He’s always assured me that it’s all good, he’s happy. But that niggling little voice in my head…. is he really enjoying it, or is he just enjoying my enjoyment? (Yes, my asshole Brain is the worst roommate ever; living inside my head is exhausting.) For me, part of it has been driven by the irony that he is very effusive with his love in our day to day life – holding hands, kissing, hugging, being very verbal – telling me he loves me all the time; but that’s felt somewhat missing in the sexual part of our relationship where he’s far less vocal.

And the reason I talk about all of this is NOT to be all TMI and whatnot. I wanted to write about it because it directly relates back to what I’ve been spending so much time thinking about for several months –  of taking things for granted, of not being present, and being the worse off for that. When Dave and I have talked about this intimacy issue these last few weeks, the realization was that physical pleasure is lessened without conscious attention to the emotional intimacy, as well. A conscious connection, which requires a purposeful focus – paying attention to your heart, not just your body, and sharing that connection outwardly with each other in the moment – actually makes the physical more intense. It’s like eating an amazing steak, the BEST there is to be had in all the world, and taking for granted that it’s so good that it must be as good as it can be. But then you suddenly have that steak with some salt and it intensifies everything, turns it into a completely different experience, into something you didn’t even realize you were missing. Being consciously present makes everything better.

Humans may have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted, but thankfully we also have an almost infinite capacity for learning if we are willing to do so. Dave and I aren’t going to turn into Buddha overnight because of morning back rubs or a better sex life, but I’m okay with that. What I’ve got is nothing to take for granted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

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Old Dog Doesn’t Like Your Tricks

My husband Dave and I have been together for 22 years, married for almost 19 of those. Despite the fact that I travel for work, we’ve spent no more than 6 days apart, and that was once. The work trips tend to be only 3-4 days. And it’s kind of pitiful, but I don’t know how to emotionally function for such a long period of time without him.

We knew travel was going to be a part of his new job, but we’d been told most trips were just a couple of days here and there, at the most a week, so I was prepared to handle that. But on day two at his job they asked him to take the current work trip he’s on — 16 days in Greenland. There are a lot of reasons why this trip is an aberration which isn’t likely to happen a lot, if ever again, but it doesn’t need to happen a lot. It’s happening right now and I’ve been a mess.

That day we found out he was going I already had an appointment with my therapist. Needless to say the entire content of our conversation during that session was about the trip. Several times in different ways my therapist asked me: what was I afraid was going to happen with him being gone?

What was I afraid was going to happen? I was afraid what was going to happen was that he wouldn’t be here. I’ve been having multiple panic attacks every day, and this Tuesday, which was the day after my birthday (I know, right?) was the worst. My heart was racing and I felt nauseous most of the day. Why the hell does there have to be some actual impending catastrophe else I have to feel like I’m pathetic for being freaked out? It’s ridiculous that there has to be some event or issue that drives my negative emotions about this. I’m completely stressed because HE’S NOT HERE. I don’t understand why even my therapist couldn’t understand how difficult it would be to not see my husband for so long, to not have the simple but vital comfortable of his touch. Touch is important – through it he grounds me, he calms me, he recharges me. I love him. Isn’t that reason enough to be freaked out?

These 15 days have truly felt like a month, and my nerves are frayed to the breaking point, but the good news is he is finally coming home tomorrow. And I can guarantee three things:

  1. I am not going to sleep tonight.
  2. I am going to burst into tears the minute I see him.
  3. I am not going to let go of him until further notice.

 

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

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No Parent, No Child, No PERSON Should Know This Fear

Note:  I want to be able to boost this post, so it can’t have any profanity in it. This is VERY hard because this topic deserves f-bombs about every other sentence. Feel free to add them mentally as you read.

 

I believe in serendipity. I’ve been listening to podcasts again lately and while it was never actually a topic of any of those, it’s gotten me thinking again about my son and what it will mean for him to be a black man in this world. So I decided to write this post today. Then, before I sat down to write, I saw this video on a friend’s Facebook page.

I know it’s 5 minutes long, but PLEASE watch it.

I had to close my office door because I couldn’t help but cry as I watched it. The unfairness of it all shakes me to my core. When the one mom says – no one else has to have this conversation with their child my tears became angry tears, because she’s right.  I’m sure that parents of kids of middle eastern descent and LGBTQ kids have to have a conversation as well, but I don’t think it’s the same. The thing about those conversations is that they are to warn their kids about the bad guys; about the racist jerk on the street, the homophobic redneck in the store. It’s to warn them against the “bad guys.”

But for parents of black children, most especially sons, we are stuck having to warn them about the good guys. And it is as they say in the video – not every law enforcement officer is a racist; but enough of them are at the very least programmed to “profile,” and enough of the institution of law enforcement is at it’s core racist, that those police officers that aren’t racist are irrelevant. Those bad guys preying on Muslims and the LGBTQ community are generally easy to spot. But you tell me how you tell the difference, in a split second, which cop is a good and honest person and which is a violent racist?

And I am sick and tired of the “I’m not a racist, but” crowd weighing in on this as though they know what they are talking about. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to tolerate anyone who pulls out the – if they don’t break the law it won’t be an issue. If they are respectful and cooperated, it won’t be an issue. You are missing 2 glaring facts:

  1. Even if someone breaks a law or is disrespectful they should NEVER answer for that with their life (barring they are literally standing there shooting people, like bullets actually leaving the gun, of course). No sane, rational person could think that they should.
  2. You are only able to even think those simplistic “solutions” will fix things because you don’t have to be in fear for your life and you don’t understand what that even feels like. As a white person, there’s basically little to no chance that you will ever be harmed no matter what laws you break, no matter what you say to a police officer. A black man in a backyard with a phone – shot and killed. A black man in a store which SELLS BB GUNS walking in the store with a BB Gun for sale there, shot and killed. A black man stopped at a traffic light who has an outstanding warrant for failure to pay child support – shot and killed. NONE of these people threatened the police or anyone else. Barring an unloaded BB GUN, none of them was even armed. Yet – a white man opens fire on the police, killing two of them – taken into custody unharmed. A white man kills 12 people in a movie theater – taken into custody unharmed. A white man murders 17 kids at a high school – taken into custody unharmed. A white man opens fire in a church killing 9 people – taken into custody unharmed and the police buy him lunch on the way to the station because he was hungry, (I REALLY REALLY REALLY want one of those f-bombs right now.)

Statistics show that blacks are about 228% more like to be shot by police than whites. so hey “I’m not a racist”, please STOP insulting your own intelligence, and certainly STOP trying to gaslight black people – this is not their fault. There is nothing they can do to make this stop happening. They ARE NOT afforded anywhere near the same rights and privileges that we have as white people and it has nothing to do with anything other than the color of their skin.

And oh, “I’m not a racist”, in case you were going to go there, do not pull the – “sure it happens sometimes but not all the time and not to everyone, you’re exaggerating to make it sound like a bigger deal than it is” nonsense. I’ll tell you what. Let’s sit down and play a little Russian Roulette. My gun has 6 chambers and 1 bullet. Your gun has 6 chambers and 3 bullets. We fire 3 times – ready, set….. wait, you don’t want to play? Why not? Getting a bullet doesn’t happen to everyone every time. Your just overreacting.

Pull. Your. Head. Out. Of. Your. Butt.

Side note: Any time you follow I’m not a racist/ xenophobe/ homophobe /misogynist /etc. with a “but”, you are the WORST type of racist/ xenophobe /homophobe/ misogynist because you won’t even admit to yourself that you are those things, so you blindly discriminate against people and you will never stop because you don’t think you’re doing it in the first place. What you fail to understand or take ownership of is that EVERYONE, no matter your color, race, nationality, creed, environment, has internal biases. I have them. The are bred into us from birth by the society we live in. The only difference between those with internal biases and that racist piece of garbage with his MAGA hat and Gays Are The Antichrist t-shirt is that we have chosen to confront our own biases, to analyze them and identify them for the over-generalized social falsities they are, and to not let those ungrounded fears dictate our actions. We cannot control what our amygdala spits out at us, but we are thinking creatures who are capable of knowing which of its fight or flight spewing is just a bunch of BS. We choose how we act and what we BELIEVE.

So back to my son.

I’m scared to death. Every day his soft, rounded, adorable baby-ness fades away a little more. Every day he gets taller. Ever track practice he gets stronger and more muscular. And every day takes him closer and closer to the time that is inevitably coming, where he will not always be out with us. He will no longer be the brown-skinned child of that nice white family. He will just be a black kid, and he will have no more privileges, protection, or allowances than any other black kid has.

What in the world do I do??? He’s grown up under the protective umbrella of his family’s whiteness, my whiteness. He’s never experienced racism himself because we are always right there, and he’s never seen anyone experiencing it because it doesn’t happen to us, so he doesn’t even know what is actually looks like. He knows he’s black. He knows that there are people out there who are “mean” to black people (they studied MLK, Jr. in school) – – but he doesn’t come anywhere NEAR to understanding the reality of this world. I know I have to prepare him but I’m not sure how. Right now, he idolizes police officers. How can I explain what he has to know without making him afraid of them, or making him see them as the bad guys?

How can I REALLY make him understand that this isn’t a game, make him understand what is really at stake? My little guy is a total class clown, a goofball. He has trouble taking anything seriously. How do I make him understand this is serious and he needs to really listen, without scaring the hell out of him? I know I am really hard on him about how he plays, and he doesn’t understand it. He doesn’t know why Mommy loses her stuff when he plays with toy guns or pretend guns in the store or outside. He doesn’t know why Mommy practically takes his head off every time when he’s playing, as boys do, and everything is a battle or about fighting – punching that guy, shooting that guy, knocking out the good guy cuz the good guy can’t catch him. He doesn’t know why Mommy gets so mad every time he jokes – I’m gonna steal that car and take it and drive it around and it’ll be mine. To him it’s play. NOTHING BUT PLAY. He literally doesn’t mean a word of it, he’s actually got a darn good moral compass and he knows the difference between right and wrong, play and reality. But to the bystander? To the shop owner? To the police? There are no jokes allowed for black people.

This is starting to keep me up at night. It’s starting making me watch him like a hawk wherever he goes – never taking my eyes off him in the playground even though I never was that tense when he was little. I’m getting nervous when he goes to the bathroom by himself when we’re out – has it been too long? Should my husband go check on him? Did something happen? I’m holding my breathe when he wants to go a few aisles over and grab something at the grocery store while I am shopping. Are they going to think he’s shoplifting? Is someone going to call the manager because an unattended black boy is “wandering” through the grocery store? I find myself being more overt about him belonging to us when we are out – talking directly to him more when strangers are around, hugging him, ruffling his hair…. like, THIS ONE IS MINE IT’S OKAY BACK OFF.

And problem is, that certainly isn’t helping the situation in the long term. But I’m scared. I’m so very, very scared that I can’t help myself.

Dear god, please don’t let anything happen to my baby.

 

 

There’s a lot more where this came from. Some serious and sad like this, and some the much needed humor we require to cope with this insane world (bunny assassins and deranged Christmas shoppers and blind people, oh my!) Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes.

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And find me on my Facebook page at Tangent Girl Volumes and on Twitter @tangentgirrl

This Review Brought To You By Psychiatric Medication

I’ve worked as an administrator in academic hospital medicine for 15 years.  I started as just a secretary but through the luck of having an awesome practice leader and boss who cared about what I was capable of and not what piece of paper I did (or didn’t) have, I was quickly able to move up to running the administrative side of our division.

I’m not someone who’s very comfortable saying nice things about myself or giving myself credit, but I know I am good at what I do. I have helped grow this practice from a dozen to over 50 providers. I helped create and help oversee our physician and NPPA fellowship programs. I was a huge part of establishing a whole new (very successful) practice at another hospital – our franchise if you will. I’ve traveled overseas to be a consultant for other hospitalist practices. I’ve taken a hugely active role in my medical specialty’s professional society and have wracked up a ton of “first time an administrator did that or received that accolade within the organization.”

But my annual reviews were always PAINFUL. I mean, the pits. It isn’t that they didn’t agree with everything I said above, and more (hard to imagine I would remain employed at the same place for 15 years if they didn’t ). They had nothing but praise for everything I have ever accomplished and how important I am to the practice, but it was always overshadowed by the negative. Fifteen years of – you are good at what you do, BUT.

You need to stop pissing everyone off in the process.

You need to be nicer.

You need to be more of a team player.

You need to stop acting like only your ideas are good ones.

You need to be more honey and less vinegar.

You need to be more calm, to not lose your cool under stress.

You need to not overreact and make things worse.

You need, need, need, need.

And it would infuriate me.  I wasn’t mean to anyone, I just expected people to do their jobs. I wasn’t uncollaborative and I didn’t think only my ideas were good ones, but we needed to move stuff forward, not spend two months in meetings while everyone else decided what their ideas were and which one we should go with. And how could that not make me lose my cool? I wasn’t harsh or overbearing, I was focused and driven. I. Got. Shit. Done.

And when it wasn’t infuriating me, it absolutely broke my heart. My job isn’t just a job to me. My work – the quality of it, the value of it, the importance of it to other people – is more important to me than anything except my family. It is personal to me. I have chosen to give up the opportunity to climb the ladder for more power and money and prestige because I believe in what we do where I am. I believe in the people I work with. I believe I make a difference in patients lives even if my role doesn’t directly touch them. I put everything into everything I do – stay late, come early, work on weekends, answer emails and texts and phone calls at all hours. Why wasn’t it enough? Why wasn’t I good enough?

I’ve left every annual review wanting bite someone or cry (or already crying).

But a funny thing happened today. THAT DIDN’T HAPPEN. Not a single negative comment. Not one. In fact, nothing but glowing praise AND the indication that they plan to do everything they can to get me at least one more rung up that ladder, while I still get to stay with the practice I love, because they are so impressed and thrilled with my work. It’s hours later and I still haven’t fully been able to wrap my head around it.

I can’t wrap my head around it even though I know why it happened, why today was different.

In conversations with my husband and in some of the stuff I’ve written for my book over the last year, there is no way to deny that the person I was before I started getting the mental healthcare I needed and the person I am now are like night and day. From where I sit today, I can’t honestly pretend that pretty much everything they said in all those reviews wasn’t true. The fact that I am still here 15 years later despite the uncomfortable truth that I was a terror, I was difficult to work with, and that ultimately I wasn’t actually as productive and successful as I could have been if I’d been getting the care I needed all along, speaks volumes of what they really do think of my work. Of my worth. Of my value. They never gave up on me.

I am a different person now. I’m not perfect, and some days are harder than others, but I’m finally getting to be the person I was always meant to be.

 

There’s a lot more where this came from! Want to read about bunny assassins and loved ones lost and deranged Christmas shoppers and surviving suicide? Please check out the rest of The Tangent Girl Volumes!

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