willkommen! bienvenue! …you get the idea

From Elen Woderose of the Industrious Barony of Thescorre, come greetings unto all who enter here. [switching hats] Hi, I’m Cass, and I’ll be your blogger this evening. What can I start you off with?

I have a rich fantasy life. I write fiction and some verse; current works-in-progress include the bloody doomsday thing that isn’t really doomsday after all and the heavily-edited Immigrant Songs, poems stretching over oh ye gods it really has been eight or nine years since I wrote some of those. I indulge in fanfiction from time to time. I’ll be writing songs this year. I don’t promise they’ll be hits, but I’ll try not to offend your artistic sensibilities too badly.

My pop culture interests bridge the gap between geek and chic. I’ve gone vaguely boho and vaguely prep (see Gravatar), and my favorite trousers are basically a skirt cut in two and stitched up the middle. Send me your old, worn-out peasant skirts with drawstrings in and I will make more skirts. Uh, tell me in advance if you want them back. ;) I sew chiefly by hand, and I have been dragging my bottom on that, so I’d better hop to sometime this month.

I’d like more Downton Abbey, Call the Midwife, Archer, Grey’s Anatomy, Lost Girl, and Bomb Girls (that one’s a long shot). I don’t know whether The Mentalist got cancelled. I know The Good Wife is coming back, which, yay! My idea of a good horror film is a few hours’ worth of Public Information Films. Or Threads. (The Day After is a little sanitised.)

I finally think of myself as this woman in this place and from it, but I cannot forget, not ever, that the path to serenity wound through a lot of brambles. I’m only technically native to Western New York; for all intents and purposes, I’m a German immigrant. We moved before I began to form memories, and as a result, yes, the worst culture shock I’ve ever had was coming here. I still don’t get a lot of things, but I have friends now, and a beloved man, and for them I would put down my roots.

In order of fluency, I have English, German, and French; I can usually make sense of Spanish in context; I read Nasta’liq but can’t tell you whether that is written Urdu, Farsi, or Arabic proper, nor can I differentiate between Arabic dialects. I address my loved ones using Russian diminutives and my liege lords and ladies by their titles.

manic pixie nightmare girl

Briefly this past autumn-into-winter, I aspired to the role of the manic pixie dream girl (henceforth MPDG). It was even my job title on Google Plus for a bit. I could kick myself now, because that role bites women in the ass every time, and has bitten me before. I just never bothered to look for it in the deconstruction of my own narrative.

Turning off the fancy-pants vocab, I was the star of my own repertoire of bloody awful hipster films.

Oh, not in high school. God, I was too ugly in high school, and I don’t say that as a way of fishing for compliments. I was awkward. I had baby fat, but never any tits or arse. Those didn’t hit until what I think of as “second puberty”, like hobbitses have “second breakfast”. Dramatic weight loss when you’re developing leaves you stickish and sickly, because you’ve interrupted some vital processes. My body crept very slowly towards real hips and has never really been gung-ho about the bosom part. Even on Remeron, the best I could do was an entire A-cup. Mind you, that twenty-pound yo-yo was something like a tide coming in and going out, leaving fat in different places. So now I am telling myself “El, you are shapely enough; please quit hating yourself because there are some bitter kittens who don’t understand that every body is beautiful.”

There was only really one boy before I left for Alfred who thought me the epitome of the MPDG, and bless him, if not for some of the creepy on his part/mental illness on mine, it might have worked fine. I think I was more empowered then than in the first four years of my majority. When I think about it, I survived a lot. I worked hard and reaped the rewards. I had my quirks, but I hadn’t yet been presented with the notion of quirky-cute as a way to get on with men. I was more of an Ophelia with a lot of minders (if they were grown) and Hamlets (if they were my age).

The summer before university, I changed from big round Coke-bottle wire-frames to black plastic with narrower lenses. You know, the shape I’ve been wearing for the last decade. What can I say? It suits me. But I did something I didn’t expect: I got pretty. Ish. Er. Not mainstream pretty. Just a hell of a lot less painful to look at than before. I got stood on some pedestals while standing people on others. For whatever reason, that old latent borderline personality issue came to the fore.

D’you know what kind of power it is to realise you’re pretty enough to matter? That when you dance you’re elegant, you can learn style, and there are boys who think your traits are interesting? It went in waves: I’m quirky and cute and looking/Oh God, what have I done?/Some attention is better than no attention at all…

…and maybe that’s why I was prone to the negative as well as the positive.

I had two faces. I was solicitous and sweet, sweeter than I should’ve been, if he was the Right Guy. I put up with quite a lot just to be desirable. I justified it because I thought he would rescue me from my sorrow. He never did. Never. Once. And the other face, the one with the Cane of Doom, Silk Hiding Steel, the Motherfrocking Ojou, she despised the MPDG. The Ojou went to therapy and learned about boundaries. The MPDG threw that knowledge out the window whenever she found herself entranced.

I know when they battled to the death. Or to the outgrowth. I know when the MPDG grew into the Cool Big Sis, and they decided to call a truce and let me be me. That’s when Eleven fell in love with me. He loves that I care deeply about him and cannot see him hurting without trying to help. He also loves that I’ve enough spark in me to fight him on things that matter, when we don’t see eye to eye. He loves that I have a backbone. He loves my good sense and my moral compass. He loves the Melinda May in me as much as the Skye and the Simmons, all three of whom are gorgeously realised female characters and all three of whom I adore.

He’s seen me through awful things as well as fantastic. I have had long spells of “not so fantastic”. He has been my rock until I could be my own again. When I find my feet again, I remind him that he can lean on me, too, and he does. We try not to pull the rug out from under each other’s feet. I’d have to go against things I stand for in order to really surprise him, and I like it that way. Stability is wonderful. I never wanted Grant Ward, who was pretty but fucked-up. I had a moment of lust after Fitz, who is loyal but still so very young. If I’m sticking with the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. metaphor, here, I fell in love with Agent Coulson. That’s my type: strong, steady, perhaps a bit on the odd or geeky side but not to the point where it overshadows him. (I do not yet have a female type. I’ll let you know if I meet her.) Balanced. Mature. At least forty. Something happens around that age, and I don’t know what but it’s magic.

So why did I ever want to be the MPDG again, once I’d found Eleven?

I got restless. I got in a rut. I’d been treading water for so long — sick in 2011, rebuilding my family from mid-2012 forward — I needed to escape some of the things I’d built up around me. I bound myself too tightly to some of my morals and I had to rethink them. I did it in a way that wasn’t smart. Never have your roughly-quarter-life crisis in a way that’ll hurt someone else. I tried to be someone I wasn’t. I feel I need to write a long letter, by post, and apologise for being an idiot and to explain who I am now, after the Saturn Return, properly a woman now. I couldn’t call myself a girl or think of myself as one without laughing, now, because it’s a bloody joke. Too close to thirty, seen and been too much, closer to Mother than Maiden. Responsible. Mix between Rational and Social Good. Pursuing social work and you can’t still be a girl for very long in that field. You have to grow up because the people you will meet have some direly unmet needs and it’s going to be your job to help them meet those needs. The stars get knocked out of your eyes fast when you think about people not having enough to eat or a place to sleep. Or enough will to live.

I know I’ve got some conventionally unconventional looks going for me. I’m third-culture, fourth-culture if you count fandom. I make leaps of logic and connections between the oddest things. But I wear these glasses because contacts are a pain in my arse. I wish I had been a WASP sometimes because the WASPs around me came out of their childhoods in far better shape than I did. My leaps and connections have real-world purposes (because the girl who dreamed of being a doctor is now the woman who wants an MPH after her MSW/NCSW).

Never take me for what I’m not. Never doubt that I know what I’m doing, or that I know who to ask when I’m a little lost. Never ask me to toss my rational side out the window. Leaving the MPDG behind helped me become a person — a person worth knowing — a person I didn’t hate. Meeting her again only taught me how little I missed her.

updating the update of an old list

What do I have? (Especially according to my color palette of choice?)

Drawing on this list from April 2011…

THE WHITE BUTTON-DOWN: Yes. Gap. Two. One for winter, one for summer. I don’t intend to wear either anywhere but interviews.
THE CHIFFON BLOUSE: One, white, vaguely see-through so bring on the nude brassiere. Tucks beautifully.
THE (DRAPEY) WHITE TEE: Alas, nothing in blank.
THE TEE IN GENERAL: In various colours.
THE UPSCALE SWEATSHIRT: I found a way to make it work on me. Go plain or go home.
THE (GIANT) CARDIGAN: Two black, one tan, one sepia ticking, one green. I nick my mum’s brown one sometimes, too.
THE CAMISOLE/TANK: Except for when I actually need to wear them!
THE V-NECK/SCOOP-NECK SWEATER: Yes yes yes. I love them.
A SHINY FUN TOP: A couple, now.
THE PERFECT JEAN: A couple of pairs.
…THE WHITE JEAN? Bad idea for me.
THE LEGGING: Yes, but sometimes I get bloat and just don’t wanna.
THE CROPPED PANT: Awkward on me, but I possess one loose pair and one tight pair.
THE FORMAL SHORT I would look absurd.
THE (KNEE-LENGTH) (PENCIL) SKIRT: Two of them. One pinches, though, no “a tad” about it.
THE DENIM SKIRT: Yes! Two! Both attractively short.
THE (LITTLE) BLACK DRESS: Cowl-neck, sleeveless, chic at any weight.
THE SHIFT DRESS: In a couple of seasons’ weights.
THE SHIRT DRESS: Black with rosebud and vine sprigging.
…THE TUXEDO?! I have no tux. I need no tux.
THE (BLACK) SUIT: I am suitless and it suits me.
THE BELT: In modern and medieval.
THE WIDE BELT: This is also no longer a thing.
…THE BRIGHT BELT? Gaudy and gold and giant faux pearl. Looks fabulous in court.
THE BIG/EVERYDAY BAG: A requirement!
THE SCARF: Not just the scarf. Many scarves. Scarves for all occasions.
THE HAT: See “the belt”.
THE (AVIATOR?) SUNGLASSES I’m sorry. I’m going to have to say this nay and, next time I swap out my glasses, get those darker-in-the-sunlight lenses.
THE PEARLS: Absolutely.
THE “DIAMONDS”: Also absolutely.
THE HOOP EARRINGS: No longer! My piercings closed up.
THE METAL DRESS WATCH: Stopped ticking. Needs retrieval and battery replacement.
THE CROSS-BODY PURSE: It’s my everyday.
SHEER NEUTRAL HOSE: I have sheer neutral stockings.
TIGHTS: Yeah, but they’re so tight. Très uncomfortable.
THE BALLET FLAT: In black and brown.
THE BLACK PUMP: Ohhh, yes.
…THE PEEP-TOE? A white platform heel.
THE CLASSIC (HEELED) BOOT: Yep! A couple of these.
THE WHITE SNEAKER Nothing about my style calls for this.
THE TRENCH: Yes, in khaki, but too large; I would like to find a smaller one.
THE BLAZER: Somewhere in my closet.
…THE BOUCLE JACKET? I don’t wear enough jackets. Sorry.
THE CAMEL OVERCOAT? I have black. I have gray. I will not fuss about with camel.
THE LEATHER JACKET: Not that fits.
THE PARKA I have never looked right in parkas.
THE CROPPED JACKET? The cropped winter jacket. I look vaguely ASBO in it.

(updated) meme:

Bold what’s true for you.

I am 5’4″ or shorter.
I think I’m ugly.
I have many scars.
I tan easily. Shocking but true.
I wish my hair was a different color.
I have friends who have never seen my natural hair color. Not anymore! Now they all do. :)
I have a tattoo.
I am self-conscious about my appearance.
I’ve had braces.
I own glasses.
I’d get plastic surgery if it were 100% safe, free, scar-free. (sadly, I STILL want a minor boob job. like, going from As to full Bs. but until “100% guaranteed”, no money back about it, not happening. which means never.)
I’ve been told I’m attractive by a complete stranger.
I have more than 2 piercings.
I have piercings in places besides my ears.
I have freckles.

I’ve sworn at my parents.
I’ve been kicked out of the house.
My biological parents are together.
I have a sibling less than one year old.
I want to have kids someday.
I have children.
I’ve lost a child.

I’ve slipped out a “lol” in a spoken conversation.
I’ve snorted while laughing. (that is NOT embarrassing.)
I’ve laughed so hard I’ve cried.
I’ve glued my hand to something.
I’ve laughed till some kind of beverage came out of my nose.
I’ve had my pants rip in public. (astounding but true. I thought I’d sewn the patch well enough…)

I was born with a disease/impairment.
I’ve had stitches.
I’ve broken a bone.
I’ve had my tonsils removed.
I’ve sat in a doctor’s office with a friend. (does it count if the friend was there for me?)
I’ve had my wisdom teeth removed. (well, one.)
I had a serious surgery.
I’ve had chicken pox.

I’ve driven over 200 miles in one day. (okay, I rode in the backseat.)
I’ve been on a plane.
I’ve been to Canada. (if you live in Upstate New York, you have been to Canada.)
I’ve been to Niagara Falls. (and if you live in Rochester…)
I’ve been to Japan.
I’ve celebrated Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
I’ve been to Europe. (I lived there.)
I’ve been to Africa.
I’ve been to France.

I’ve been lost in my city. (hilariously lost. “hey, why do these streets have letters…?”)
I’ve seen a shooting star.
I’ve wished on a shooting star.
I’ve seen a meteor shower.
I’ve gone out in public in my pajamas. (it’s called undergrad.)
I’ve pushed all the buttons on an elevator. (and not for kicks, either. sometimes, you’re on the first floor going all the way to the fifth + there are stops along the way.)
I’ve been to a casino.
I’ve been skydiving.
I’ve gone skinny dipping.
I’ve played spin the bottle.
I’ve crashed a car.
I’ve been skiing. (actually, yes. I just wasn’t counting my spot of cross-country tomfoolery.)
I’ve been in a play. (and how.)
I’ve met someone in person from the internet. (memorably, I have also met someone from in person on the Internet…)
I’ve caught a snowflake on my tongue. (how does one avoid this during a Western New York winter?)
I’ve seen the Northern Lights.
I’ve sat on a rooftop at night.
I’ve played chicken.
I’ve played a prank on someone.
I’ve ridden in a taxi. (DC, aged 14. terrifying.)
I’ve seen the Rocky Horror Picture Show.
I’ve eaten sushi.
I’ve been snowboarding.

I’m single.
I’m in a relationship.
I’m available. (I love ethical non-monogamy…)
I’m engaged.
I’m married.
I’ve gone on a blind date.
I’ve been the dumpee more than the dumper.
I miss someone right now.
I have a fear of abandonment.
I’ve been divorced.
I’ve had feelings for someone who didn’t have them back.
I’ve told someone I loved them when I didn’t.
I’ve told someone I didn’t love them when I did.
I’ve kept something from a past relationship.

I’ve had a crush on someone of the same sex.
I’ve kissed a member of the same sex. (and boy, was my roommate annoyed. apparently I couldn’t bring girls home, either…)
I’ve had sex with someone of the opposite sex.
I’ve had sex with someone of the same sex.
I’ve had sex with more than one person at the same time.
I am a cuddler.
I’ve been kissed in the rain.
I’ve had sex outdoors.
I’ve hugged a stranger.
I have kissed a stranger.
I have had sex with a stranger.

I’ve done something I promised someone else I wouldn’t.
I’ve done something I promised myself I wouldn’t.
I have lied to my parents about where I am.
I am keeping a secret from the world. (well, not much of it anymore.)
I’ve cheated while playing a game.
I’ve cheated on a test.
I’ve run a red light. (totally by accident!)
I’ve been suspended from school. (Suspension from university: because bureaucracy hates me!)
I’ve witnessed a crime.
I’ve been in a fist fight.
I’ve been arrested.
I’ve shoplifted.

I’ve consumed alcohol. (and it was FUNNY)
I smoke cigarettes.
I smoke pot.
I regularly drink.
I’ve taken painkillers when I didn’t need them.

I have been diagnosed with depression. (and now I am well.)
I shut others out when I’m depressed.
I take anti-depressants. (…and now I am well!)
I have an eating disorder.
I’ve slept an entire day when I didn’t need it.
I’ve hurt myself on purpose. (but the last scar reminds me never to do it again.)
I’m addicted to self harm.
I’ve woken up crying. (oy, these nightmares.)

I’m afraid of dying.
I hate funerals.
I’ve seen someone dying.
I have attempted suicide. (it’s called anorexia nervosa.)
Someone close to me has attempted suicide. (probably.)
Someone close to me has committed suicide.

I can sing well. (Can no longer deny this…)
I’ve stolen a tray from a fast food restaurant.
I open up to others too easily.
I watch the news. (sometimes.)
I don’t kill bugs.
I hate hearing songs that sacrifice meaning for sake of being able to rhyme.
I curse regularly.
I sing in the shower.
I am a morning person.
I paid for my cell phone ringtone.
I’m a snob about grammar.
I am a sports fanatic.
I play with my hair.
I have/had “x”s in my screen name. (only the one “x”. And how else was I meant to spell “exile”?)
I love being neat.
I love Spam.
I’ve copied more than 30 CDs in a day.
I bake well. (just remember to turn me over once in a while — oh, wait…)
My favorite color is either white, yellow, pink, red or blue. (Well. Azure.)
I don’t know how to shoot a gun.
I am in love with love.
I am guilty of tYpInG lIkE tHiS.
I laugh at my own jokes. (mostly the ones nobody hears.)
I eat fast food weekly.
I believe in ghosts.
I am online 24/7, even as an away message.
I can’t sleep if there is a spider in the room.
I am really ticklish.
I love white chocolate.
I bite my nails.
I play video games.
I’m good at remembering faces.
I’m good at remembering names.
I’m good at remembering dates.
I have no idea what I want to do for the rest of my life.

and a better happy ending

I quibble with the trajectory of the eating disorder narrative, at least when it comes to our changing bodies. This is tied up in Feelings about my own journey, admittedly, and I wouldn’t use the j-word except that I’m thinking of Joseph Campbell as I write.

I’m supposed to be better for myself, right? Not for anyone else. But at the same time, there’s way too much emphasis on how guys don’t find skinny women attractive. We don’t have curves; we’re walking skeletons. Do we want to lose our boobs? Do we want to lose our hips? Our bottoms?

Quite against my will, I’m still losing weight, and coupled with all that crap, how am I supposed to not hate myself? Because if I’m hideous anyway, why not just let myself slip further downhill? It’s easier than fighting the system for the things I need to gain weight. Twenty pounds only made me pudgier, not magically curvy. — And you may wish to argue with me how I’m perfectly curvy, but it’s not any one opinion that counts. It’s the mosaic of images that hit and hit and hit with every passing moment:

either I am tall/lanky/athletic
I am little/curvy/va-va-voom.

But I am 1.5 meters tall, just shy of five feet, with bird bones and a high natural waist. I favor tighter pants and skirts because they make the most of the bottom I’ve got, and I let things drape on top because that’s how best to flatter A-cups like mine, or so I believe. I maximize my hip spring and strut around in heels and it’s all an illusion, darlings. It really is. Short hair, long legs, strong shoulders: proportionally formidable, but in such miniature that they don’t really make clothes for me. (I have sung this song before.)

This is not the shape the narrative promises. They say that one of the benefits of recovery is that shape, and for whatever reason, I will never have it. If I console myself that by not fighting, by listening to my body’s demands (or lack thereof) for food, I can at least be the teacup version of Halle Berry, have I thus failed the hero’s journey? I’m eating. Willingly. And I don’t want to die anymore. I thought those were the goals.

I’m glad there are people who are just that happy with their bodies now, you know? But I wonder how many of us exist who look in the mirror and wonder: is this it?

the name of the (wode)rose

My birth certificate says Christina. I have not been comfortable with this, or with any of the nicknames that go with it, since I was seven. Ever since then, I have swapped names according to what felt the most right.

Sometimes it was a fannish thing. I latched onto Cass because of a Harry Potter epic (all the Mary Sues, but I adored them), and Lune during my latest love affair with Sailor Moon. Sometimes I tried to follow convention. I saw a bunch of writers using color names and I took one — Blue. Forms of Catherine have always made me happy.

Underneath them all, I’ve been myself, and as I’ve become more solidly me, the names have solidified. Either I’m a variant on Catherine (Cass is one of these), a variant on Elen, or a variant on Lune (including Lunochka). I am contemplating a name change, as in for real, through the courts, that includes the first two somehow, so no matter who says what, I can say it’s me. This is odd, but not full-on weird; I have loads of friends with two totally different names, so three isn’t too terrible, is it? Besides, I have an extra country or two, depending on how you count.

. . .

You wouldn’t think an amazing SCA event would be just the thing to whack my chemistry back into my normal. Surprise? I haven’t blogged about it yet, so what I will likely do is collect it all up from Facebook and pop it into a post. Short version: I got my AoA, and everyone who helped kept it so quiet that I must really have looked funny when HM Etain called me up, let alone bestowed it upon me. Kinda like a kid finding a puppy under the Christmas tree. :) I’m sleeping better, especially when I take it easy on the Pepsi after, um, midnight. Oops?

Freshly washed hair is curlifying (it will, when damp). Found perfect combination of orange, mustard, and black clothes to wear: comfortable and chic. Tomorrow morning archery, tonight French toast. The character who resisted naming for so long finally up and got named. This is me kicking back and luxuriating.

i hope he’s reading this, anyway

Dear God,

I know I don’t talk to this incarnation of you all that often. It is simultaneously your believers’ actions that push me away and their words that are making me write.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

The Beatitudes. Those are yours, right? Or as close to yours as fallible men could get back in the day? I don’t know what poor in spirit is meant to mean. Depressed? Fallen away from you? I need some clarification, here. The part about mourners is true for the most part. I’m working on helping the meek inherit the earth, here, and I’m pretty sure for some definition of “righteous”, yes, I hunger and I thirst. Am I persecuted because of it? Eh, it’s not easy being a mellow middle-grounder, but I don’t reckon I’m persecuted. That’s the meek.
Peacemaker. Yes, I think so. I certainly don’t want to wage war. I don’t want to sow discord. And I am working on mercy. When is it mercy and when is it letting people get away with things they really ought to fix?

I think I’m reading you with a twist, because when you say “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against me”, God, all I can think of are people who claim to be acting in your name.

Pure in heart.

That’s the trouble with holy books. They don’t come with definitions. Because me, I’m pure in heart by my definition. I have morals and honor and I hold them both dear. I behave. I’m here in the trenches, on my belly, in the mud. I’m dirty according to a lot of Christians. And I’m not sorry, because my priorities do not involve my personal salvation. I keep more gods than you. I could keep more lovers than Eleven if I could find them and we were right together (it can’t be less than both of those). (And I am struggling a little with this crush I have on someone I think is married but can’t tell and don’t want to ask. I admire his mind so much. He’s big and cuddly and wears it so beautifully. Is it lust if you wish you could be with someone, but you couldn’t impugn his honor by trying? Or is that how you made us?)

According to a vast amount of Scripture, I’m going to hell in a handbasket. But God, for the sake of this bright world full of wonder just waiting to be loved, I won’t change. You want your children to cleave to you and that’s a father’s prerogative. I am a daughter grown into a call to “marry myself to the whole wide world and never make her cry.” I will burn. I don’t object. I’ll go to my pyre having upheld my honor.

Other points to consider:

♥ You’re God. Why would you micromanage sexuality if people are being good to each other? Obviously sex in ways that are damaging is on my “big no” list.

♥ that the meek really are the ones you meant to inherit the earth, and with it the strength to make it theirs. Self-determination as a religious calling: probably not what NASW had in mind. Maybe Mother Teresa did? And the Jesuits, who were only human after all, I’m sure they had a healthy mix of good ideas and dodgy.

♥ that it’s righteousness, not self-righteousness. Which, yeah, I come off that way sometimes. Being the resourceful daughter of resourceful daughters, I believe I can turn it around to be useful. Okay, and being the girl who thinks MSF’s log teams are the cool kids.

♥ that it’s kinda egotistical to cry persecution unless and until you are well and truly persecuted. And that one we can define.

♥ that there’s room to correct people who have some seriously messed-up worldviews, but sometimes you have to figure out how to live and let live. Hard. Very hard. I want to teach what I am learning about the nature of love in the world, but there are folks who will take it very badly, so maybe they’re not ready? Maybe they’re meant to get there on their own.

♥ No, seriously. If you’re not micromanaging, the part about fulfilling the law and the Pharisees and how they’re actually great role models is a bit of a misstep. Also, a lot of people are confused about this part.

♥ this is more of a sub-point: the thing about me is that if a law doesn’t make sense to me, and disobedience carries no earthly consequence, I’m going to wear poly-cotton blends. You with me? You can’t say “Hahahaaaa, the righteous are only going to win this game if they follow the rules and the rules are so, so many that it’s all but impossible.” Well, you can, but you’re going to be well disappointed on Judgment Day if you mean it.

♥ Taxes are okay now. They help a lot of those meek you seem to love. Please don’t hate on the IRS.

♥ The punchline to Matthew 5 is apparently “be perfect”, but we were made imperfect. So what’s perfect? As you are? But we have no way of knowing what that is, and given the inconsistencies in this chapter, frankly I’m thinking the bar is pretty low.

I’m a little hungry, miracle of miracles, so I have to find something to nosh because calories are important. If you’re reading this, my family could use a bit of help, but don’t knock yourself out trying if there’s something that takes priority. A lot of people’s families are in much more dire straits.

Thanks for noticin’.

on equality, in love

My Eleven, my beloved, the Fitz to my Simmons, expects no trade for acts of love and kindness. Rather, from the start we have given of ourselves to each other, in service, because this is right and good. This is how people who love each other behave. We found ourselves in agreement on that very early in our relationship. Eleven says that at an upcoming SCA event, he intends to stay back a little, because he is a natural extrovert who doesn’t want to outshine me. Would you believe the lady protested? Yes, she did. And though he will be my man-at-arms, he will be no less important. We are interdependent: capable of functioning apart, but even better together. We are not 50% + 50%. We are 100% + 100% and somehow we come up with 250% when we combine.

We are alike in our thinking. We think not as a man and a woman but as people. Where gender is important to consider in a matter of perspective, we discuss it. He’ll never shake his head and mutter “Women!” under his breath; I’ll try to overcome that problem in myself, that “Men!” that comes hissing out sometimes. We are so vastly diverse, we humans, within our genders and between them. No, of course he hasn’t had a period, and he doesn’t have fibro, but he gets these awful spells of back pain, and so he understands what it’s like to be down and out because of it. No, he can’t get pregnant, but he can get someone pregnant, and though I would want him to decide with me what happened to a child of ours, he would understand that some choices are not choices, no matter how much we wish they were. He knows that my body is not a place to nurture a child, even half his beautiful genetics, because my body barely sustains me and my chances of mental health problems as a result are higher than those of neurotypical women. He knows I couldn’t put a child I did birth into unknown arms, because my father was so very damaged by that action (but his mother had no choice, either!). I think we would both grieve. I also think we would find ourselves at peace.

I can say these things with about 99% confidence because we have taken the time to crawl into each other’s skin and to share each other’s values. I could never ask a person to make fundamental changes just to become compatible with me. You love who you find as you find her and leave the if-onlys behind. This is part of how we build trust: by knowing each other that well. I feel secure when I have a reasonable idea of what he’ll think about something. I’ve been in the dark before; it’s scary. But we’re standing in the light together. And that is worth so much more than adhering to expectations or norms.

Maybe I am a prideful little thing because I need to be with someone who can admit that my advice is as valid as his, when one or the other of us is lost. That we can both be lost and want a lifeline. It doesn’t change the need to be equal. We have areas of expertise. I value his. He values mine. Where they cross, it’s almost frightening how fast we come to similar or even the same conclusion. This, too, is a security that makes me a better partner because it’s easier to admit you’re wrong to someone who isn’t Right About Everything. If I find that I need to be right about something because it’s my truth, we’re capable of differing with respect.

I am borrowing from a blog post I have open, a post that made me think about why the blogger’s opinion on relationships bothered me, when I say this:

No number of sweet notes, fixed garbage disposals, daily “I love yous”, little presents, kisses, surprise dinners, or in my case weekends at SCA events will balance a relationship in which these things are collateral. Trade. No. These are the things we give freely to each other, except the garbage disposals; I’m afraid I’m hopeless at plumbing. We chose each other. We choose each other. We define ourselves as free and sovereign within ourselves, fully human, fully equal. What we change about ourselves we change because we know the other person has a need unmet, or a wound unhealed. There is no such obligation, only the desire to be even happier. We each have our own way! Often! Because there is room in our world for “yes, and” despite other limited resources like time. Seeing him get his way doesn’t mean I won’t get mine. Gratification is not always instant. We’re adults. We can cope.

I am not his queen, or anyone’s (outside of a Society context, and even then you couldn’t pay me to run myself that ragged). We stand side-by-side, or arm-in-arm. I’d jump off any pedestal from any height just to stay that way.

peace in the form of a dream

Secretly some part of me wants the dreams in which I am the action hero. Every time I hit back is a time I am stealing back from the girl who just followed orders. Use your words.

Words did nothing.

I broke Neutral Good and that was lucky. I learned to obey rules because not obeying meant punishment, even though my parents tried to teach me not to fear the punishment. I wonder how many detentions would have gotten me suspended? How many suspensions would’ve gotten me expelled? And how awesome would that have been for me?

Why did I not hit them? Kick them? Bite, scream, curse more roundly? Because America was the land of the free as long as I toed the line? (But there are exceptions for people who are born into power, or are willing to commit enough evil to achieve it.)

Soft girl. Soft skills. And I watch the people around me try to work within the system. I wonder whether I can do it. Can I be a company (wo)man? Can I believe unflinchingly in what is right, so that when it all goes to hell, I’m the one left standing to rebuild? But Phil Coulson knew how to kick some serious ass in order to get where he got. What can I leverage to make people think twice before they screw me or mine again?

But I’m too weary to become a lawyer. I have the teeth for it. Just not the energy. Also, the brain fog would wash me out of law school in three seconds flat.

This is why, when I think about my career, I don’t think as much about the comfy suburban office and the sad post-millennials I will inevitably have to cure of their parents’ stupidity. I suppose I’ll do that when I’m even older and more decrepit, but in the meantime, I want to be the one with the police or the EMTs, taking the scary calls. I want to wear a vest with block letters on. Or I want to work in a prison with people society couldn’t be arsed to help in the first place. Or I want to be the witness who takes down the motherfuckers who use and abuse those who are smaller in any way.

I am one point five meters, eighty-five pounds of you-should-be-afraid.

In the end I’m still the daughter/niece/cousin of people who do hard things. I can’t erase that piece of my identity any more than I can scrap either of my nationalities. In my direct line of descent alone are two military men, three if you count the grandfather by adoption. I’m pretty sure what my grandmother did at the end of the war was looting from the nasties. Success was survival, and kid, it still is.

How am I supposed to live with myself if I never put my ass on the line for anyone else?

I regret:
that I wasn’t brave enough to sock my bullies in the nose
that I listened when they told us it would go on our permanent records
that I stayed a minute longer in that school than I had to
that when they let him off easy, I couldn’t stand my ground
that when it turned into him using my body, I didn’t get some of my own back
(except for three lilac trees)
(which I love independent of their sender)
that when he went all Uncle Terry on my cast, I didn’t fucking film him doing it
that I didn’t have footage to leak to YouTube
that I didn’t lawyer up and sue the fuck out of Dilip and his sweatshop
that I can’t even get Nitwit to back the fuck off
that someone broke my dad and I can’t do a damn thing about it.

So I can’t go the rest of my life being passively resistant to the bullshit in the world. A force for change is a goddamn force.

And now I have to turn this into an essay for a bunch of bureaucrats so I can have a degree before next June. Then the real work begins.

flight of ideas

I won’t lie. It feels good, once I get past the anxiety. If I can manage to push through and breathe away the panic, yes, I enjoy riding the highs. But I don’t enjoy it long and I always have reason to regret, like when the morning hits and I wake up feeling as if I’ve been on a bender: stomach gurgling ominously, a film of sweat on my neck, exhausted body but racing heart.

Is it hormonal? Is it neurodiversity? I can’t say. But I do know that last night, I had a flight of ideas that made me write a whole filk despite the nagging suspicion that someone else had gotten there first. And I still can’t find the lyrics of the other song as proof that someone did. But I could swear I’ve heard it now that Anneke mentions it. I also know I was awake enough at two in the morning to spend two more hours singing.

I took all my meds, even the valerian. The trouble could be that I’d also had a Pepsi, but it feels ridiculous to say that. For God’s sake, normal people can drink Pepsi and be fine! It doesn’t exacerbate whatever I’ve been riding out.

I’ve gone from being able to sleep for twelve hours straight to only seven or so, which for most people is a sign that something’s right, but it worries me in context. I shouldn’t be this alert. I shouldn’t have kept waking up. I am normally a far heavier sleeper; weekend morning noises didn’t faze me. Why can I hear them so well now? And I didn’t say anything about the amount of sleep I need. I will probably sleep again later in the day. The amount I seem to be able to get in one stretch has changed; the requirement has not.

Last night wasn’t the first time this week that I’ve felt the same rush It’s been going on for a little while, more during the day and never that euphoric. My spooling down mechanism is officially on the fritz. I have to wait for my brain to go back to normal. It always does. I’m scared of the alternative. I can say the words but I don’t like to say them because they are an admission of something I can’t face, so if it’s okay with you I’ll just not say them and go on my overly merry way.

one part eviction, one part better flat elsewhere

So, how did bad Christians shove me out of Christianity in the first place?

Alternet has some ideas as to why people leave (and leave, in some cases, is a vast understatement). I thought I’d see if any of these reminded me of why I did not just embrace a different worldview but left the other behind.

1. Gay baiting. Hm. I suppose coming out and losing friends will do it, especially when they point to Jesus as the reason (wait, you mean the guy who hung around with whores?). But the friends weren’t all that great in the first place. I ended up realising that if a person can’t deal with my queerness, zie is probably not worth my time anyway. I can’t say I ever had an “it gets better” problem in that respect. Now, you take some of the New Testament with regards to gender and sex roles…

2. Prooftexting. I have a hard time believing that is God speaking. At best, the Bible begins with a whole series of creation myths, throws in some “No shit, there I was” stories, makes rules, and has a singalong. I’m not even sure I believe all of what the church fathers said about Jesus. They may have accurately described what happened, but their commentary is as crap as most modern punditry, and just as slanted. So when some bigoted arsehat throws said Bible at me in an attempt to convince me I’m wrong, not only do I take it with a whole shaker of salt, I’m likely to snort and look up my nose at whoever’s doing it. Your book is outdated. Find the parts that stand the test of time and get back to me with a serious set of revisions.

3. Misogyny. I never did see much of this; the worst was the whole women-can’t-be-priests thing. That said, see above. I’m not comfortable with the parts of the Bible that say all Christians have to adhere to moral codes established two millennia back or better.

4. Hypocrisy. If I could give my high school cohort a gold star for this, I would. I may not have been anywhere near perfect, or even good at some points, but I did my best to follow “harm none”. Love thy neighbor as thyself, except if she’s different. Wait, that’s not how it goes? So I ended up hating a lot of the people I grew up alongside. I’m still not past the resentment. I’d like to be. But that youth group lot? They were bullies. They were fecking mean and nobody ever called them on it.

5. Disgusting and immoral behavior. I didn’t see much of this happening within any church I attended. I do, however, wonder why my evil heathen arse wasn’t the one binge-drinking or hooking up. I have no problem with those things — but their God sure seems to. This is of a piece with the above, I suppose.

6. Science denial. Nobody was quite that fervent, or that stupid, to my face. It’s good to know that there are people who will outright lie about science and hide behind God.

7. Political meddling. Again, nobody ever did this on a small scale. That said, my adolescence was the large-scale version of this. For crying out loud, I was fourteen when Bush v Gore was handed down — or was I already fifteen? It dragged. Nevertheless. I took my sweet time connecting these dots.

8. Intrusion. Actually, I quite liked giving the Mormons tea.

The thing about this article is that it leaves out the positive aspects of other viewpoints that might draw people away. My dad talks about having faith in himself; his locus of control shifted into the realm of the tangible. I found solace in polytheistic, goddess-centered ideas. Holy mothers appeal to me. It’s why, despite its drawbacks, I still go to Mass sometimes. They still venerate the saints. They still love Mary.

I found something that excited my soul more than anything had, and I’d been trying hard to do the Catholic thing. I had. But it didn’t fill in what was missing. Eclectic (very eclectic) Paganism and, later, an all-gods-welcome approach did. Now I have a Kuan Yin on my little living room altar, and symbols of the elements. Even my mother lights incense in prayer to her. In my most desperate hours, I will always cry “Mama!” It’s my business whether I’m crying for the one who bore me or the one who nurtured my spirit.