I have four prompts in my drafts folder. 2 are dictionary definitions of things that either interest or annoy me, and the other 2 are vaguer shower/email thought prompts.
They don’t sound good to write.
I thought about writing about mothers, and the holiday yesterday. The thing is, I’ve done that? It would retread these themes: I miss my mom. I think the holiday has a tendency to encourage fictionalizing/romanticizing some relationships (and I didn’t have a wrought relationship with my mom). I am not a bio-mom for anyone. I feel weird being a step-mom/-mom-in-law to adults, and being shoved in those roles by random semi-strangers. I sometimes feel weird being a god-mom for a long host of reasons. The only mom thing I feel good about is being a cat-mom, and that’s not a socially acceptable thing.
See? Written up very succinctly.
I think I’m just feeling tired, and disgruntled, and frustrated. In part that’s likely work related. It’s also life related. Having recently bought a house, and moved, our life is only mostly settled. We still have dozens of boxes that need sorted and a small storage we haven’t moved yet. I’m not sure if I’ll be all better once that happens, or if it will just be a new thing.
This is the point where I usually remind myself that I’m privileged to be able to whine about the things I’m whining about. I have it very good, in a lot of ways. And even on days when my brain is completely fried and I feel misunderstood by everyone, I’m still doing better than I could be.
I do feel better about one major thing this weekend: after several bookshelf purchases, all of the book boxes that I know about are finally unpacked. And shelved. And even basically organized!
I may still need to unpack miscellaneous office junk. And remaining art. And random hidden boxes of clothes. But BOOKS ARE ON SHELVES WHERE I CAN FIND THEM.
Why can’t I take that success and wallow in it for a bit? I must be a glutton for punishment.
Imposter syndrome is when you’re successful at a thing, but you secretly believe that someone is going to come and explain that they’ve figured you out, you’re a fraud, and they take away your ability to do that thing. Basically. In a very over-simplified nutshell.
Writers feel it, quite often (I say this based on the number of authors I follow who admit to having had some sense of the problem), but women are also large sufferers – especially professional women, apparently. I know young mothers who have worried about if they’re really a good enough mom, but I’m not sure if that quite falls under the same category or not.
My thing is, people somehow see me as confident in who I am, in a generalized sense. Now, usually, I attribute this to them not knowing me particularly well. They know a facet of me – Work Me, for example. Work Me often appears to either know what she’s doing, or at least know when she doesn’t know, and then she appears confident because she generally has an idea of who to go to ask for help.
But a couple of weeks ago, a fairly long term friend spoke the thought that I was not like other people, because I was confident. I knew who I was and I didn’t seem to care what People thought, and I was just as happy being me as pretending to be someone else.
I’d had a drink, which was stronger than I normally drink, and very little food, and I laughed at her, or at least, the assertion. She doubled-down. She was positive I was quire comfortable in my own skin, and I didn’t seem to have the desire to express bravada and drama in being more or less than who I was. It was reassuring to be around someone who was that centered in herself, she said. It made me feel safe and like someone that she and others could be themselves around.
I blinked and let the conversation move on. Because what else could I say at that point?How can people see me as confident in who I am when I don’t know who I am, half the time? I have doubts like anyone. There are moments where I’m confident, sure. And yes, I know how I feel about some topics. But I don’t profess to know myself particularly well on all things. I’m pretty sure I evolve and change on a fairly regular basis.
I try to be kind. I try to be the sort of human that a stray animal would trust, for example. Or that a small child who grabs a familiar color denim leg, upon discovering it doesn’t belong to their actual parent, won’t panic. They’ll simply look around for the correct leg. I guess that works for the centered and safe feelings she described? But I have serious doubts about other basic aspects of myself almost daily.
I worry that I’m honest enough or perhaps too honest. I worry that I’m too optimistic, but then perhaps I’m too negative, and I don’t achieve the middle ground realism that I want. On the other hand, a little bit of rainbows and sparkles can’t be so bad … can they? I wonder if I always recognize my inherent privilege in being a white cis woman, but then again, when in certain states, people will speak Spanish at me and assume I understand it. (I do, if they’re slow enough and enunciating very carefully, but no more than a 5 year old might. And it’s not because I was raised speaking the language. It’s barely a second language.) I worry that I come off as cold, or too warm. I worry that my sense of humor is so twisted as to be outré. I worry on a semi-constant state about something in the way I interact with the world at large, or don’t and perhaps I should.
I suspect in some ways, that this is part of being human, and maybe a feminine human, and maybe a feminine human who reads and thinks quite a lot. I also suspect it is an aspect of living in my head more than perhaps others do. I know though, that not all humans behave this way. I’ve got enough friends who I’ve asked tentatively that don’t have this in common with me. They aren’t all men. (Although quite a few are.) And quite a few read quite a lot.
So I just don’t know. I wish, sometimes, I could experience myself as they do. I don’t know if it would help, exactly. But it would be interesting to see. As it is, I get startled almost every time someone says something nice about myself. It’s not that I think I’m a horrible monster or internet troll! I just don’t necessarily think I’m worth acknowledging in thanks, either. I feel very much like someone who can fade into a wall and disappear unnoticed.
Which could easily lead into another blog post about other things. For now, I think I’ll just wrap up by opening this to you readers: do you ever have that dissonant moment, where you’re told something about yourself, and you don’t recognize the person being discussed AS yourself?
I was thinking about it the other night, when doing the dishes, and I can’t really remember not knowing someone who is not straight. I can remember not having a word for it, or not completely understanding why we never got to meet the person they were dating, but for as long as there have been “not blood family” people that interacted with my family, there were always men who didn’t have girlfriends or wives, and occasionally women who didn’t have boyfriends or husbands in my life. I’m 43 years old. I’m not a kid.
So when people would say things about men being bad to little boys, I’d have extreme doubts they knew what they were talking about. Because J was one of my favorite babysitters. He was an awesome cook, he would listen to the reasons for building cushion and tinker-toy forts the way we built them (you have to use the tinker-toys so you can make a tent roof out of sheets), and realize that yes; I’m a girl, but I still don’t believe he’d do bad things to little boys. And when I finally got around to asking mom why he didn’t have a girlfriend or wife, because he’d be an awesome daddy, and she explained he didn’t date in town and why, my first reaction was: Oh, okay. And then I was sad. Because it was stupid. I was so excited many years later to know he DID get married and he and his husband had a daughter they adopted. And I was even more sad to know that he passed away later, and I’d never gotten to hug him again. I think I first met J when I was 5.
There are others, obviously, that have been in and out of my life. Students and co-workers of my dad’s, my own teachers, students I went to school with (and occasionally had crushes on). But non-straight people have been people who were normal (and yet very quiet and careful) for more or less all of my life that I’ve been aware of other people. And to me, literally the only different things about them were: they loved someone who was the same gender as them (mostly, I don’t remember many people as a kid who said they were asexual, although I wonder about a few and if they just didn’t have a word for it then), and they were almost always scared to talk about it except with very trusted close friends and family. And I always accepted what they wanted, because it’s their life, but it still made me sad.
A lot of those friends and family are scared now, and I believe they have every reason to be. And I keep trying to figure out why there are still people in the world who judge people who are LGBTQ+ as evil, or sinning, or anything negative, and I wonder if it isn’t because they’ve never known that they know people who are. I grew up in a town of under 9,000 people, you see. Yes, I had the advantage of that town being home to a four-year university of about that size enrollment, but still. It was in Texas. There were more than 100 churches of various faiths (but mostly protestant type Christian – some evangelical) there. And I still was aware. On the other hand, I have also been aware that my habit of taking people at face-value can be rare. I’ve been accused of being overly optimistic by those who are more jaded. At the same time, I’ve been accused of being pessimistic when I’ve tried to be careful – because of being jaded myself by people’s reactions.
So I still get trapped in a circular headspace of how? How do you decide that just because that woman on TV loves another woman, she’s a sinner and horrible; when you know nothing else about her? Why assume that a man who loves men is broken in some way, when you know nothing else about him? If they have done something else – robbed a store, thrown a burning match into a school, stolen their neighbors identity to buy a car – then fine! They are obviously not nice. But just about who they love or want to have sex with?
Bi-sexual people are not immediately kinkier than anyone else just for being attracted to two genders. I myself, for a very long time, have noticed women more than other women seem to. Yes, quite a few women look at other women or will objectively note that one or another is pretty. But I really sometimes wonder – am I actually attracted to them? There have been feelings for individual women that have been really close to what I’d call a “crush”, based on crushes I’ve had on men. I still can’t decide if that makes me bi-sexual. And frankly, writing this paragraph scares me because I am putting it out in public, and my face is on my blog. But beyond being supportive in my votes and my charitable contributions, perhaps I ought to just also be more open about myself.
Because I would be very willing to bet that the straight cis people who keep othering those in the LGBTQ+ community know more people in that community, trust more people in that community, go to church with and shop with more people in that community, than they think they do.
I picked up Harry Potter and the Cursed Child — Parts One and Two (Special Rehearsal Edition) recently, and finally got around to reading it Tuesday night. According to Amazon it’s 320 pages, and I sort of remember that, but some of that is table of contents and biographies and cast and such.
Because, when it comes down to it, it’s a script you know.
Scripts read somewhat differently than novels, although not a lot. To be honest with you, once I’m a handful of pages into either my mind’s eye takes over and it all sort of flows with words and voices and images of the setting and they feel about the same, except scripts go a teeny bit faster. I read quickly anyway, but normally 320 pages would probably have taken me closer to 5 or 6 hours, and it did not take me nearly that long.
I enjoyed it. I had seen some things on the internet (spoilers) about specific people missing from the book and how that was important/horrible/weird, but in one case specifically they aren’t “missing” they’re just … off-stage. And the characters on-stage react to their existence very much as if they’re part of the world, and in fact, important there. In a play, this is considered normal and is a useful device. In a book, it’s somehow less common (although honestly still happens, but I think people don’t think about it with characters who once had speaking parts and somehow don’t now in this book).
I got to thinking about it though, and I think I’ve been reading scripts since I was either 5 or 6 years old. That I can remember, at least. Mom and Dad had the collected works of Shakespeare in the house, of course, but Daddy had shelves of scripts. I still own some, in fact. I was in an original children’s play as a very small child. And in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as an older child. And Murder in the Cathedral as a teenager. Not to mention plays for school, like Lilies in the Field and others I can’t currently recall. I didn’t particularly like being up on stage, in front of people, but I liked playing a part. And I really loved helping with set creation and lighting and talking about costuming choices and blocking; so I enjoyed reading scene direction.
All of that meant that I have very clear ideas and opinions about what the characters in The Cursed Child look like. And how some of the story line would force some interesting costume changes. (I’m particularly fond of Hermione and Ron in one bit, I’d love to see that live and interpreted on stage!) I have a feeling for where they’d be on stage, and where they were in the universe of Harry Potter. It felt as fleshed out, in many ways, as the books. Perhaps this worked because I’m already familiar with the universe? I think it must be that, to a large degree.
It does make me miss Mom and Dad more, though. I can’t recall if Daddy liked the Harry Potter universe or not. He didn’t read long form for fun all that often, although it did sometimes happen. But he watched a pretty wide variety of television and movies and they would have been within the realm of things he’d be interested in. Mom I know loved the books and movies well enough that she had a favorite line.
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?”
Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
She’d hand written it, copying out of the book, and kept it on her desk from having fallen in love with it until she died. And I think she’d have been very interested in this installment. Plus, I could have talked to them about the mechanics of reading the different formats and how that feels in your own head, which would have been really good. Most of the time, when I miss my parents, it has less to do with wanting them to fix a thing, or know about an event, and more to do with wanting to talk with them about small daily things and things that made me think of them, and of course, to get hugs and just see them with my eyes again.
I think Rowling understands those feelings so much. And in the end, she explores it quite well in this book. I’ve already lent my copy out to a co-worker, who expressed an interest after she discovered I’d read it the night before. I really hope she enjoys it.
I have a Facebook account. A lot of people do, anymore. It hung on better than MySpace and continues to adapt and suck in other websites and spin them and twist them into its own useful web. If I allowed it to, I could cross-post this blog there. Sometimes, I rather hate Facebook. Somehow, the newsfeed has shifted over the years to become a graffiti wall on a college campus. People post funny comics, neat flyers about music and art shows coming up, and diatribes about whatever they like. And sometimes they yell at each other. It’s both anonymous, because you aren’t actually face to face, and not. I keep threatening to back off and just use it as a way of keeping up with distant relatives and then something will happen and I get sucked back in. Sometimes, there are funny things there, you see. Sometimes there are things that make me think.
And sometimes there are the rabbit holes. Someone posted a picture of a newspaper clipping, unattributed, with the in-set quote: “People need art in their houses. They don’t need Bed Bath and Beyond dentist-office art. They need weird stuff.” Ezra Croft, art show producer And I thought, well, who is Ezra Croft? What art show? And of course, I liked the photo that was shared by my friend, because really, I agree. Although I do have some Bed Bath and Beyond dentist-office stuff, because sometimes that’s just weird and cool too.
In our home, we have photographs. Yes, family photographs, but also photographs my dad took and had blown up of the sun setting through the field and trees, and a street lamp in the fog through one of the bois d’arc trees. They’re a matched pair, and I have the vertical set. Another sister has the horizontal set. He couldn’t decide which print he liked better you see. I display them both because he took them, and because I like them.
We have prints. Upstairs in the guest room I have prints of winged cats and butterfly winged dragons. I have beautiful anthropomorphic ladies my talented friend created. I have a small print on the nightstand of Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet. I have a print by Ursula Vernon that came with her book Digger that I helped support with Kickstarter. Downstairs I have prints of Neil Gaiman quotes, gifts, illustrated by David Mack and Chris Riddell. I have a painting of a silo, hay barn and a small house that my father created years ago. I have metallic and a wooden Kokopelli figures, piping back to back around a corner from each other. I have wind chimes that only sing when the cats tap their pendants, because they’re inside and never feel the breeze. I have a blown glass dragon, a painted paper rhino and a panther, and a piece of Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass. On the stairwell a piece of set from a play hangs on the wall, and in the bathroom a self-portrait of my father as a clown. In my mother’s glass secretary cabinet there are small knick-knacks of a wide variety; from an onyx Madonna to an Under Milkwood miniature to a small weyr of dragons. And rocks. There are of course rocks and sea shells scattered about the house. And I haven’t even gotten to the things with words on that hang in the house, be they in English or languages I don’t read. Scrolls found and kept because they were lovely.
For me, it’s all unique art, but I’m not sure any of it is weird, you see. Because it all means something to me. If you ask me why I have it, invariably the answer is because it was beautiful, and I wanted it. Or some pieces, simply because “my parents had it in their home, and I loved them… and it.” Like the portrait of my parents kissing under a bridge in Pittsburgh, near Three Rivers, framed perfectly, that my uncle took and someone had blown up and framed. Or the prayer that was framed, that was found in a church, that was given to my mother, and the words are lovely, even if I no longer feel particularly Catholic.
I was thinking about these, and others not mentioned, when I stumbled back over the quote and tracked it down. It was in the San Francisco Chronicle, an article written just the 28th of July, about Ezra Croft, who had an art show dedicated to Bill Murray, the comedian. Mostly, it appears to be homages to the actor. The fun thing is, the quote from Mr. Croft? When asked where his day job is? It’s Bed Bath and Beyond. What I took away from the article was that what he really wanted was art to be about connection. Well, he wanted the city’s connection and quirkiness to be back. And maybe, just a little bit, when we see a Peanuts cartoon strip with Lucy’s Psychiatry Booth reimagined as Cthulu’s Psychological Trauma Booth, or other random things on Facebook, some of that connection occurs and keeps some of us there longer.
Then again, for me, art has always been about connection. So perhaps, my art is and always has been just a little bit weird, by those standards.
I’m very okay with that. I like the comfort that weirdness brings.
Recently, I shared an article that an “angry dad” wrote about how the bathroom bills are pointless, and there were scarier things to be afraid of than people who were different than what we might be used to. In fact, the monsters often look Just Like Anyone Else, because that’s how they survive (and frighteningly, often thrive) at being monsters.
An old friend, who is still a cop, took issue with the article, because he felt it was better to have one more law in the arsenal to stop sex offenders than to cater to the 1% that would be harmed. I said that the article was talking about exactly those sex offenders, and how they didn’t have anything to do with transgendered people. He said something flippant about how I’d lost touch with common sense (again) and goodbye, and then blocked me.
It was upsetting. I’d hoped a) that he wanted to protect everyone, and b) that he cared more about hearing my side than just cutting me short after a quick exchange on Facebook. I’d hoped our friendship meant more, I guess. And then, of course, I was mad at myself. I’d already unfollowed (but remained “friends” with) several of our co-workers, for similar reasons. I didn’t like the racism, the misogyny, and the paranoia they were displaying. The rights they were worried about “losing” weren’t rights per se, and often had more to do with having to share them with others. So I knew that, much as it hurt, it was better to have the abrupt break (I can’t call it a clean one). And, in the hopes of not having to deal with more, I made the choice to cull my friend list a bit more.
I realize that’s weak of me. I stand up for my transgender friends. I stand up for all LGBTQA friends. Some of those friends are more like family to me. If someone jokes about something and it’s beyond the pale, I call them on it … most of the time. I’m still weak and will avoid things if I worry it will cost me my job. Any more though, that’s the only thing stopping me. I don’t always call bosses out on their prejudices. I’m trying to be braver. I’m white, and even though I’m a woman and sometimes wonder about my orientation, I’m always assumed to be straight because I’m married to a straight man. And I’ve always been with straight men. So, I have a set of privileges others don’t that I can use to be brave with as a starting point they can’t.
I’m trying. I still have room for improvement, and it’s sad and scary to discover people I love… loved… are close-minded and willing to trample other people’s rights because those other people are a minority. I will probably lose someone again, to this.
Just like it happens for gay, lesbian, bi, transgender, asexual, and gender queer people every day.
I have two posts sitting in my Drafts folder right this moment talking about attraction. One of them laments the fact that I seem to occasionally fall for people with personality traits that I have a hard time working with. The other discusses physical types and whether or not I have one.
Both of them dance around my past experiences (and inexperiences).
I’m married, again. I’m happy. (Which is… so awesome. I have a hard time putting into coherent words how awesome it is.) I’ve been married before.
I have never, ever, in my whole life, dated lightly. I have flirted lightly, and attempted to be clear with my lack of actual intention in those cases.
I mull things over when I can’t sleep, you see.
Why do I not seem to have a specific “type” of guy that I’m attracted to? Mostly, they’re taller, but not always. (Plus, at just a smidge under 5’3″, being taller than me is hardly a challenge.) Some are very slender and graceful, others aren’t. Some are incredibly charismatic, others are almost painfully shy in large groups. Some see things in strict black and white truths, while others are more willing to discuss the complications that make different things true for different people. The only thing I can think of that most of the men I’ve been attracted to have in common is that when they smile, their eyes crinkle up at the corners, even if their lips move hardly at all. I like curiosity. I like intelligence. I like focus. I like empathy. I like kindness.
And yet, the women I’ve flirted with, well. Those are more type specific. Incredibly feminine curves. Pixie-cuts. Vibrant colors of hair. Extreme blondes. Deep chocolate red hair. Fire-haired goddesses. Women full of sass. Women who are not me. Not entirely my opposite, but definitely not me.
I grew up, at a certain point (let’s be honest, sometime around puberty) learning to fear other women, who seemed to see each other as competition for everything. Men, jobs, scholarships, the next thing. And yet, part of me wanted desperately to be able to be friendly with them. Or, on a few rare occasions, maybe more. I’ve gotten over the fearing part, and have even re-learned how to be friendly with women again.
The thing is, part of me still doesn’t quite trust the way I did as a kid. I want to, and for a while I do, especially new friends on-line. But in person? In person I see body language that suggests a dozen small fibs told, and my own walls go up to protect myself from getting hurt again.
If someone had asked 18 year old me if I’d be better at making friends at 42, I … think I would have said “I hope so, but … maybe not. It depends.” Because honestly, I’ve always been a thoughtful, honest, literal thing.
I want to be optimistic, but… at some point, some part of me always remembers the moments that someone I truly liked expressed how odd, wrong, and not attractive I was. So. It’s hard to share when I like someone, even for platonic reasons, now.
Which brings me back to being so happy in my current marriage: he encourages me to try. All kinds of things: things that are scary to me (athletic physical things! new jobs!); things that I liked once upon a time, but maybe let go (playing games with friends! drawing! writing! experimenting with baking!); and things that are both (going out and socializing and making new friends… inviting them to our home).
I may not be good at anything like that still, but I am still trying. And those two posts? Well. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll flesh them out better some other time. But I think this is the post that I’ve been trying to get out for the last couple weeks.