Well, my contract at RadioShack ended. There was a long discussion about me going permanent, but a restructuring didn’t let that happen, and being a perpetual contractor would require much, much better compensation.
So, now I’m home again, home again, jiggity jig. And I have a plan.
The “you’re in serious trouble now” part is that I’m going to be blogging a lot more. Hopefully I’ll even be entertaining. Mostly, though, I’ll be sharing snippets of upcoming awesomeness.
You know how people want to know what you want to be if you grow up? I select “if” as the operant term and and answer with “ALL THE THINGS!” Novels? You betcha! Screenplays? Hellzya! Painting? Absolutely! Sculptures, portraits, digital work, text books, teaching classes, art installations, leather tattoos, robots… let me at all of them.
That does also mean that you’re going to see a lot more marketing/advertising sorts of posts from me. That RedBubble thing for “the Kiss“? Yeah, you can buy that. Don’t want to? At least share it with friends. I put those two pieces up there to see how I like them, and more will come soon. Maybe later, I’ll even do a Kickstarter.
Oh, and there are a few tarot decks in the works. And Muggings will come to be soon. So, seriously, y’all are in trouble now that I have some time back.
It happened of late that a close friend was having a rough go of things. This happens not often but on a regular basis, and I’d suggested that perhaps it was time to talk to a professional about this.
That opened up a whole other can of worms, on top of the already-opened other-can of worms that we were struggling with.
“I’m not broken! Not everything in my life is a mistake! You’re not so perfect! You think you’re always right!” (Etc., etc., you know how these things go.)
I finally came up with a brilliant way to describe the process.
You see, I’ve been to therapists before. Some of them suck, some of them don’t, but that is determined mostly by what you want to invest in the process and whether or not the two of you can get on with mutual respect. (This is not automatic, every therapist is not magically prepared to like and respect every client.) But there’s a lot of misconception, too, I think about what therapy is supposed to accomplish.
Think of it like this: (Good) therapy is like a good QA process in software development. Barring any significant hardware issues, most final-release software will function pretty well until a set of environmental factors come into play – usually unforeseen by the original programmers or as a result of a post-release modification – and then maybe it doesn’t function as well as it should. Perhaps there was a build interrupt during early development stages that introduced a bug, or maybe some kind of driver incompatibility exists that is only sometimes triggered. Whatever the case, it happens, and it happens to everyone. I’ve often heard it said that no piece of software every survived engagement with the public.
Regardless of how, glitches develop. Sometimes that glitch means that the logic circuits go wacky and start spitting out junk results. Sometimes it means that the whole system has to go into shutdown mode for a while to recompile the kernel. Sometimes the glitch operates as a background routine, stealing resources from other processes until, bit by bit, it takes over the entire system.
Your QA engineer will be able to figure out what’s going on and help you apply a patch, bringing you back up to speed. It can take a few different versions to step back up to a fully functioning system. A QA engineer should not spend all his/her time trying to identify the offending programmer, nor should he/she try to fix what’s not broken. The process often involves opening up libraries that you wouldn’t think would be part of it, but invariably it’s those files that hold the key to the glitch.
Often, once we get into the QA lab, we can pretty well figure out what the problem is, and maybe talking to the engineer is just a means of confirmation. Thing is, our program may not involve doing QA ourselves, and even if it does, our QA method isn’t going to work as well as someone else’s for whom the perspective is more complete.
No one is immune from needing a little Quality Assurance sometimes. Individuals need it, relationships need it, companies need it, families need it. QA isn’t always about fixing things, sometimes it’s about testing to make sure things aren’t broken – and maybe even suggesting a nice feature to add on in the end.
Sometimes they’re bigger than others, of course. Almost a year ago (almost exactly a year ago, actually), I took a huge chance and instead of slinking off into the wilds of gods-knows-where in the midst of a break-up, I popped The Question to the man of my dreams. It was the ultimate make-or-break moment because either he was going to choose to stay indefinitely or we were never going to see each other again. Really, when you pop the question, those are the only two options because if you say “no” or even “not yet”, it gets awkward and uncomfortable.
Likewise, when you start a path – or even start investigating a path – it can slip the leash and start running rampant. Sometimes it’s something as simple as looking for a job – or even just looking at other jobs – and then suddenly you’re neck-deep in realizing how unhappy you are at that moment in your current position, and then you have to analyze why you’re not happy so that you don’t end up there again… and that’s kinda where I am.
So, we moved into this amazing house, and we knew it was going to be a little more expensive, but it was will within out paper budget. There are little pleasures I like to indulge in, though, like pedicures. And food. And that’s when I really started looking at my bank account and feeling the pinch not just of being underpaid but of being undervalued.
That’s the rough spot right there: my last job review was glowing and my boss is happy, and he offered to scrape up a whole thirty-cent raise. He also gave me a pretend-promotion. Woo. It might seem a little ungrateful, but I actually felt offended and slighted rather than rewarded. When you’re not even making a livable wage in the first place and you’re outperforming the people in the tier above you, thirty cents and more responsibility without a real title is not a kudo.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful that I have a job at all, and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to stick with it as long as I have, but being grateful for a thing is not the same as staying unnecessarily loyal to a thing.
And that’s the lesson I learned from my first marriage.
So, I started peeking at other jobs. I started putting out some resumes. I seriously started to consider putting pants on. Seriously. And lo-and-behold, I’ve had three preliminary interviews in the past week for two jobs, and both jobs look promising. One pays much better than the other and might require slightly snazzier dressing, but I’d be happy with either, in fairness. I’m debating continuing to put out resumes until the end is decided, because a bird in the hand and all that, but could I top the offers I have? Probably not, but I could find similar things.
Here’s what’s remarkable about this, though. I realized that as I was looking for new jobs, I was doing so with a solid sense of what my work was worth. When I worked for the video game company, I was woefully underpaid for what they wanted/needed me to do, so I found I had a very hard time (especially at the end) giving a damn about the company at all. Add to that the stress of having no guidance but all the blame, and there was no amount of money that could make that okay. Now, I’m looking at a position that is in the same discipline but a different market, and I feel I can confidently ask for something other than the lowest end of the spectrum. Even if I did take that low end, my take-home would be far better than where I am now.
All the kudos in the world don’t make up for being undervalued. I refuse to continue feeling like Cinderella, where I can only move up in a career or do the things that I want to do until I’ve taken care of everyone and everything else – often only to have my gown torn to shreds rather than receive the pay-off. I will have my pay-off now, thankyouverymuch, because I have more than paid my dues several times over.
I don’t say that I’ll never work for peanuts again – sometimes when that’s all you can get, that’s what you take – but I can say that I’ll never pass by an opportunity because I think I’m not good enough, despite a proven track record.
I teach people all the time how to feed themselves, cook for themselves, in order to show and develop their self-love, and this is me feeding myself now.
It’s thrilling and exhilarating, and I really, really hope there’s a pile of straw at the end of this fall because I’m not sure how much longer my awesome and sweet customers can make up for the gnawing reality of being grossly taken for granted.
Blasphemy! Nonsense! Poppycock!
(hehehe… I said “cock”….)
Alright, I’m done being funny, but listen, there’s something to this. Why is nudity such a taboo thing? This is not a “what’s up with airplane food?” question, it’s a legitimate inquiry. On one hand, it’s used to subjugate people (nakedness is having your “protection stripped away”), but at other times, it’s used to empower them (consciously stripping away the masks of society). And for the most part, this idea of the presence (or absence) of clothes as a power-play is associated to sexuality almost exclusively.
Something that occurred to me some time ago, though, was that nudity isn’t really about sex at all. Maybe sex is just one of the “final end-goals” whether it’s the suppression of it or the realization of it, but the real meaning, the real value of it, is vulnerability and trust.
Woman and Man have a tiff. Man has been seriously hurt in the past, as has Woman, but they deal with it in different ways (as they are wont to do). The tiff goes on for a few days, and Man wears pajamas (pants and t-shirt) to bed (and at all other times), which is unusual. Woman wears nothing, which is not unusual but certainly different from her partner, and this “nothing” extends to more than just bedtime. The more they fight, the more her clothes come off and the more his go on. He makes a comment about her sexuality through this moment (referring to her nudity), and she responds that it has nothing to do with sexuality – it has to do with vulnerability, because she trusts him and is willing to take a little hurt, to not hide from him, if he’s willing to just talk about the things that are really wrong.
Neither party is wrong or right in this scenario, it’s merely an illustration of two sides of the dichotomy. In all fairness, these roles could easily be reversed, but there’s a deeper complexity to men’s sexuality than would be honored by this story, so I chose these genders to illustrate.
I want you to think about this. I want you to mull it over in your head. Imagine every porn, imagine every scenario wherein nudity is a factor. The topic of vulnerability and trust is present in every one.
Children bathing with their parents is the first and ultimate indication of that. Who do we trust more than Mum and Dad? People ready to share intimacy for the first time often find that there’s such a rush that clothes are left on, but perhaps part of that is a subconscious feeling of “not ready to trust”. People who bare all and don’t care are often so self-aware and self-confident that vulnerability is not an issue – their personal power is their protection. Clothes are a form of protection, even when they’re not “protective” – they protect our identity, they protect our modesty, they give us a chance to choose who we trust and when.
An interesting thought that passed through just now is that in cultures and subcultures where nudity is used a form of control (think of BDSM scenarios where submissives are not allowed normal clothing, for instance), the aspect of vulnerability and trust is even more poignantly displayed. A sub must trust her/his Dom/me to respect those pre-established boundaries, making a more complete and concrete display of these principles. Likewise, when the nudity isn’t a choice (sex trafficking, mob girls, etc.), the sense of power that’s stolen through being denied clothes (or at least proper clothes) makes those people far more compliant to a degree.
I can’t imagine that these are original thoughts, but I do not see these words attached to the questions of sexuality that we as a species are starting to struggle with. The fact of gender as a fluid thing – and even sexual preference as a fluid thing – is coming out enough (if you’ll forgive the pun) to expect its full acceptance within one or two generations at the most. The myth of “traditional marriage” is being destroyed, and all of the weird ideas we have about sexual behavior are being called into question. We are realizing that virginity and abstinence are not virtues, that a person’s worth is neither diminished nor increased by the number of people they’ve had sexual relations with, and that sex, as with so many other things, is really an expression, not a moral imperative.
So, let’s go back to our apocryphal examination. Man has been hurt and goes into the cocoon, he hides and adds more layers to the shell until he can know that it’s safe to come out. Externally, he is neither saying anything productive nor listening, he is going through his own process to figure out what the issue is. This is his method – utilizing a good defense – and it works for him because his sense of control is maintained by keeping the boundaries up. Although it will not get the problem solved quickly – problems between two people require dialogue to be resolved all the way – but he will not be ready to engage in that until he’s done with his retreat.
Woman chooses instead to take the offensive path, to drop her “protection” and not so much ride into battle but walk gently onto the field, ready to take whatever comes. She knows that she’s going to be at more risk, that there’s potentially going to be a longer recovery time for her personally when everything is said and done. But she’s putting it all out there, trying to push the situation forward so that the resolution can be found and they can get back to a sense of normalcy. This is works for her because it is another way to maintain control, to take action instead of waiting for an outcome beyond her influence, but until he is ready to engage, she can only expect to pelt him with words that hopefully will be kind enough to make it through the armor.
Somewhere within these two methods is a good balance, and perhaps a right answer for some would be to sit on a bed together naked, separated by a wall of pillows or perhaps individually wrapped in a blanket, and share their thoughts and needs – consciously choosing to be vulnerable but still hidden to a degree.
Outside of that very practical advice, there is still the question of the role of vulnerability and trust in our view of nudity. How would we change and transform as a culture if we were willing to start viewing things that way, if we were willing to examine the body language of nudity and clothing around us and interpret the level of trust we are being invested? Will we recognize our own capacity to take the power in that moment of nakedness, will we realize the power of compassion in seeing the nude? We could pull at least some of the teeth of the pernicious underbelly of predatory sexuality that underpins our society and replace it with a healthier concept of sex. We could find ourselves empowered in our skins instead of constantly torn between shameless and shameful.
It’s a crazy idea, wresting the power back into the autonomous sovereignty of the self, but when you look at the bare skin of your lover and feel the connectedness in your own unclad state, how could we not admit that this is where humanity must inevitably go for evolution and survival?
I know, hard to imagine, but it was totally real. I have pictures.
During that time, one of the first books I remember reading was called “Arty the Smarty“. It was by Faith McNulty with pictures by Albert Aquino. For some reason, I’ve been thinking about it a lot recently. As I see it, this one book was probably the single most influential and pivotal piece of literature in my entire life.
Arty was a fish that did not do what all the other fish did. If they swam one way, he swam the other. If they cowered in fear in the corner, he swam around frantically. If they ran and avoided danger, he chased after it.
Arty was my first storybook hero.
He taught me to question authority, to eschew the norm, to examine fear rather than take anyone’s word that something was worth being afraid of. He taught me that the road to soul-death was lined with conformity, and he taught me that sometimes, being clever meant being a little mean, and there was nothing wrong with that because COOKIE.
And yet, it was so influential, this drive to be not just non-conformist but anti-conformist that I now remember moments where I would observe something I liked – the color red, for instance, or cherry-flavored things – and I would reject them based on the observation that other people liked them as well. I would instead choose orange things or green things, I would learn to love flavors that weren’t originally at the top of my favorites list, and I enjoyed a certain privilege that because my “favorites” were not everyone else’s favorites, I often got to actually partake of them when everyone else’s first choice was depleted.
It also influenced me in another slightly more subtle way in that I started to perceive that it was reasonable to expect that nearly all other people were the same, that non-conformists (anti-conformists) were so rare as to be very, very difficult to find. It wasn’t until fifth grade (and my fifth education institution) that I met someone I could imagine was non-conformist. Within a year, I started to formulate a theory on preference that environmental influence and availability (what bands were popular in what areas, for instance) was as much or more important than direct comparison against peers. (I did not at this time call it a “theory on preference”, I didn’t have that language, but I can recognize it now.)
The reason this has been on my mind recently is that I am starting to enjoy things now that I had previously ignored or rejected because I perceived them to be “popular” and therefore figurative paving stones to soul-death. I am wondering if those individual instantaneous choices peppered throughout my life were unduly influenced by Arty and his sinister ways, or if I was actually expressing a true preference. In the end, of course, it doesn’t matter because if I chose something based on that contrariness and I still didn’t like it, I would reject it, but how many things did I miss out on enjoying because of Arty?
“Never too late,” as they say, and I can still go back and enjoy things that may have represented soul-death before, but it’s an interesting thought about why I rejected it in the first place.
Arty is still my hero. He is the trickster, the jester, the explorer, the risk-taker. Given my lifetime of constant underlying anxiety and fear – and make no mistake, I was fearful my entire life – I might never have had the thankfully much louder counter-voice that dared me to steal the bait off the hook instead of running. This may be why I could be in denial of my fearful weird for so many years, because I had Arty to back me up.
Strange thoughts, that such a small little thing, such a seemingly inconsequential child’s book, could be the foundation of an entire lifetime with such clarity.
In the last few years, I put out these long multi-day challenges to get everyone to really think about their world and their words and their conditions… and while I’m all for self-reflection and all that, I just didn’t feel like that was something I needed to do this year.
Instead, I want to do a year in review. From January to December, with pictures (where appropriate) and brief shots of the highlights. And then some thoughts. Because I think things sometimes. But not always.
Highlights: Got a job, finally; we bought our tickets for DragonCon in Atlanta and booked our bed-and-breakfast; also, my divorce from Joe was finally finalized.
Him: “AH! Your feet are cold!”
Me: *rubs feet rapidly on the sheets to warm them up*
Him: … you’re such a nerd.
Me: What? Because I use physics and thermodynamics to my advantage?
Me: … okay, I see your point.
* - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * - * – *
Him: “That may be your opinion, but it’s wrong.”
Me: “No, we already talked about this: You’re always right, but it’s only my opinion that matters.”
Him: “No, no, if I’m always right, and I say your opinion is wrong, and I’m always right, then I’m right.”
Me: “But it’s the difference between material facts and subjective observations.”
Him: “Right, and since your opinions are not material and have no mass, they don’t matter!”
Me: “…. damn, you’re a nerd.”
Him: “And I win.”
Me: “And you win.”
This was our first Valentine’s Day together, and it came after the first of two important break-ups. There’s a wisdom (and a very good one) that says that you never really learn how important a thing is to you until you truly lose it. Sometimes you have to hit rock-bottom in order to grow and change not because you’re “dumb” enough to make the mistakes but because the experience of actually hitting rock-bottom is vital to developing well-rounded experience. I think we both hit that point, saying and doing things we thought we’d never do… like actually celebrate and enjoy Valentine’s Day in the spirit it was intended (the romance part, not the beheading part) as a make-up event.
This also coincided with getting our first apartment together, and we discovered that we can’t really afford to downsize our square footage when there are so many things that we love to do. Craig’s in the habit of moving every year, and until we find just the right space, I think that’s something we’ll have to plan for. (Also, if I’d known that hot water would be a rare commodity, I might’ve thought twice…)
Also also, Craig started a contract at Dell that would later convert into his new full-time job.
We were settling into the house, things were starting to gain a rhythm. We got a coffee maker, and we modified the new trash can (drilled holes in it so that it wouldn’t trap air). There was still a sense of unrest, a subtle insecurity that was nibbling away. A little squabbling, a little fussing, and then another blow up. I moved out again briefly. I played the arguments over and over again in my head. I made a decision.
And outside of that, Craig and I took Gaia to her first convention, All-Con here in Dallas. All three of us went dressed up, we brought home a Venus fly trap named Seymour, and I got my picture on Channel 8. I started making horns this month, too. THAT was awesomeness. I also scratched my cornea and couldn’t see for a week. That sucked. And then we made jet packs. Back to awesome. Oh yeah… and this was when Craig won the eternal battle and I finally got an iPhone.
This was a major turning point. At the beginning of the month, Craig and I had a reconciliation and I decided that I needed to poke a big fat hole in that whole insecurity thing, so I asked him to marry me. And he did his due diligence and thought about it proper before finally saying yes.
As I was moving some things back in, I picked up a Random black guy off the street to help me move a mattress (help moving that in exchange for use of my WiFi). He took one look at the zombie movie collection, at the decor, the posters, and that was the end of that. Random hasn’t left since.
Craig’s birthday was this month, I bought a new laptop (Isis), I upgraded Miles’ graphics card for his birthday… it was a very positive and fantastic month.
Apparently, I am now a panda.
Craig converted to a permanent position at Dell, and we started planning the wedding. Craig started out suggesting that we get married on July 4th since that’s the day that he counts as when our relationship started, but that wasn’t quite enough time. We decided (eventually) on late August.
Cyrus had his last baseball games of the season, we cooked, worked, built things… it was not a terribly eventful month, even when we discovered Artemis, which was fine since every other month was packed to the gills…
Oh, wait, except that it was in May that Gabrielle (my incredible mother-in-law) fell and broke her arm while out of town. How did she fall? ”Looking fabulous.” This was the month when my hours-worked took a few hits so that I could take Mom to the doctor and then to the hospital for the surgery to get that titanium plate installed. (ROBOMOM!) This was also the month that we started giving the kitchen at her house a serious eyeballing.
This was the month that we discovered the Dallas Makerspace. Our intention was to use it as our personal workshop (which is what it really is), but the tools we needed to build the stilts were always just out of usable condition. We spent a lot of time there anyway, hanging out, helping out, playing Artemis… you know, just whatever.
Jessie Ingle released some of our engagement photos, and we started planning more. I found two suits that, put together, were the perfect wedding attire for Craig.
And I was able to have this conversation:
THIS is why I love my friends:
ME: But I have no idea what to do with the veil/head-thingy.
GREG: shroud of bees
… can i do that…?
GREG: would create quite the buzz amongst the guests
ME: Oh, honey….
GREG: im sorry
im so sorry
ME: How comb you waited to drop that little bit?
If I’d known you were going to pun, I’d even expect you to wax a little more poetical.
GREG: GOD DAMNIT DAWN I WAS GONNA USE THAT!
ME: I mean, here you hive this great opportunity to pun, right out of the gate…
GREG: that stings,
ME: Hey, I’m just winging it.
Happy anniversary of our first proper date, said Craig! He said that we get fireworks to celebrate every year. I said I get fireworks whenever we kiss. I think he thinks I was being cheesy. I’m not. I’m the most un-cheesiest person in the whole wide world.
I decided to start a knitting class on Wednesdays at Dallas Makerspace, and it’s been growing ever since. We started narrowing down on the options and choices for the wedding, and we realized, especially as we were hosting a full family again for the month (the summer visitations), that small, intimate, and inexpensive were the most important elements of the day. I found and bought my dress (or was that in June?), and I think that’s when we really started looking at the renovations that we could do for Mom’s house.
I don’t have it in me tonight to do this paper. I need to, but I think I’ll sleep on it and try to get past the idea that this f****g instructor is a f****g idiot who doesn’t know how to express what she wants in an assignment. If you ask for a goddamned OPINION, it is reasonable that no one will INCLUDE REFERENCES. What are supposed to list?
“Ellis, D. (2013). “Because I said so”. [i]It’s my opinion, bugger off.[/i] Retrieved from http://www. myass. com/ where the hell did you think it would come from ?”
The renovations were decided and then done! Mom’s kitchen and dining room walls were painted, a new floor was installed in both rooms, the cabinets were painted, the baseboards were replaced… it’s utterly gorgeous. Mom did all the design, I just did the grunt work.
And then there was making test wedding cakes – wheat-free is a hell of a challenge for pastries! And then there was purchasing the last few bits and bobs, such as Miles’ first tuxedo and deciding the flowers and painting the lawn furniture.
And then… the most amazing thing happened.
I married Craig Swain, and he married me back.
And then some other stuff happened, but that’s really the high point.
“Love is making sure that your afternoon make-out session ends in enough time to make an 8pm raid with the guild.”
Technically, this started in August, but we went to DragonCon in Atlanta and had an amazing time. We wore a different costume every day, and in retrospect, it was probably a good thing that our stilts weren’t done yet – that was a lot of walking over not-level ground, and we’ll have to take that into consideration when we finalize the builds. About half-way through the month, I devoted the Wednesday night Subversive Knitting to costuming instead, and it stayed that way until Halloween.
I started back to school (I took a hiatus while the kids were visiting us for the summer, and then for the wedding), and it reinvigorated my passion for starting a resort, and I was still rockin’ a solid 4.0 GPA, but I started wondering how much I was paying for what kind of education. I gave a standing desk a decent chance and found that I did not like it as much as I thought I would. It made it easier to stay awake but harder to focus, interestingly enough.
October is always a big month for us, what with all the birthdays and Halloweens and things. We got our wedding pictures back from Jessie, built a Dalek pinata for the twins’ birthday party, I built a smaller sit-down desk (which works very well), and designed several costumes. Random got the benefit of my first prosthetic application (which involved first painting it so that it matched his skin, as he is markedly not Caucasian), Craig built a very clever moving zombie head in a bag, we put together many different make-ups and horns…
And part of it was almost missed because Daniel had to have an emergency hospital stay. Luckily, it was just a matter of the levels of one of his medications not being increased fast enough to keep up with his growth, but that’s been remedied, so all is good now.
November was Thanksgiving and getting started on holiday plans. I made the final decision to drop out of school and kept my 4.0, for what it’s worth. I made lots of new recipes (Drunk Cow Soup and Pizza Risotto), and I got sick for a couple of days. I took a decent stab at NaNoWriMo but fell about 18,000 words short. We had the feast at Mom’s house including all of the kids, brought the salad from Bread Zepplin (HIGHLY recommended if you’re ever in Las Colinas!), and this was the high-point “confession”:
1. I don’t eat wheat because it’s my autism trigger, not because of weight. For some people, foods can act as neuro-toxins, and for me, they make me neurotic and anxious ALL THE TIME. I will gladly give up fresh baguettes and fully loaded bagels to not live in fear all the time. (But I still miss it. A lot.)
2. I can, in fact, play piano. And I’m not bad. I just haven’t done it in a long time.
3. And, yes, I can read music, too. It’s not quite the “second language” it used to be for me, but I can read it and hear it in my head.
4. I have never finished a pair of socks that I didn’t knit at the same time.
5. I don’t miss smoking at all, never feel the urge, but I do miss having an excuse to get up for a break.
6. I would not give up my plans for global domination to stay in tech support, though I do love it. I would consider giving up my plans for global domination if I had a combination of artistic gigs (writing, sculpting, painting, costuming, whatever) that paid better than tech support regularly and for an indefinite period of time.
7. Real life has been so busy that I have only read, on average, two fiction novels per year in the last several years. The void has been replaced with blogs, textbooks, how-tos, and writing my own stuff.
8. I have seizures. They’re small tiny little things, and most of them are absences seizures, but they’re still there. I had no idea until about a year ago.
9. I daydream the most about where to build my evil lair and what kind of amenities it will have.
It was a rough start off to the month, a little frazzled, but it resolved well. I got a surprise Christmas bonus, so the holiday shopping was a cinch. There was a lot of family-ing and visiting, and Craig’s brother Thom even stayed with us over to Christmas morning and spent the day playing board games with us. Christmas Eve at Grandma’s House is the family tradition, and it went well with, again, all of the children in attendance.
Of late, I’ve gotten on another organizing stint, trying to claw my way back from the cluttered mess that the house has become as we try to not only store our things in our tiny space but also use them. This is the challenge, and I spend more and more time day-dreaming about building cabinets and armoires and shelves to tame our mess. I should probably wait until after we move into a more stable place.
And into the future…
I am not one for resolutions, you all know that, but I do like stating intentions. This was my year in review, and look then for my year in advance in the next few days.
In case I didn’t get a chance to tell you all directly, there isn’t a single one of you that I’m not grateful for – even when you’re a pain in the tush. More soon.
The subject came up over the week while I was talking to my wooby about how men and women deal with things differently.
inorite?!? Like, ALL the time! </sarcasm>
It&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s not enough that we recognize men and women respond differently. If we&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re going to get on, we&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;ve got to get to where we understand why and how. *
Wooby said that whenever his wife (or any other female companion from years past) needed something from him relationship-wise &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8211; more time, more sex, take out the garbage, etc &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8211; he felt like &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;he was in trouble&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8221;, and this created a sense of panic on his part as his insecurities started to rage. He got defensive, he got testy, he got irrational, and even if the normal part of him agreed that, yes, he probably should take a few more turns washing the dishes, the other louder part of him started freaking out because ZOMG SHEEZX GUNNA BRAK UP WIF MEE! (or something to that effect) due to a lack of performance on his part.
(And every woman reading this just rolled her eyes and nodded, having experienced this at least once.)
(And every guy fidgeted in his chair and thought about surfing away from this page.)
What men don&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t realize is that if we chicks didn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t trust you to fix the problem, we wouldn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t ask.
Let that sink in for a minute before I pontificate.
The key word in that whole sentence is not &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;fix&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8221;, nor &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;ask&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8221;, nor even &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;chi
Yes, ladies may have reached a point of frustration with the lack of performance in whatever category they&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re addressing, but if they really thought you weren&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t all that, if they didn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t think you were capable of accomplishing the task, they wouldn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t ask. Some women who are a little more self-aware might even ask you for needs to be met before the point of frustration, before it&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s a critical issue.
Part of us knows that men often tend to be &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;bod
That doesn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t mean that we wouldn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t totally appreciate not having to ask all the time, but the other thing that men perhaps don&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t realize is that women asking for things is not (or at least should not be) an act of attack but rather an act of personal responsibility. She&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s taking responsibility on herself to get her needs met by you instead of making you guess, and also instead of going elsewhere for her needs.
I offer this concession to men: Yes, a lot of women are really, really bad at expressing their needs. There&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s the passive-aggressive sigh, the long stares, and the hint-dropping, and then there&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s the &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;don&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t say anything about it until it becomes so overwhelming that there&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s a huge blow-up&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8221;. Women are not without culpability, but that&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s the topic of a different post.
Traditionally, for people experiencing this dynamic, Man who hears &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;I need this&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8221; from Woman freaks out and panics. Man gets defensive and angry. Woman is all &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;wtf?
The problem is that Man and Woman in this example are not speaking the same language. They&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re not even talking on the same maturity level. I have many theories about why this is a prevalent thing in our culture (the systematic stripping of men&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s emotional security, the programming of boys to see the world only through reward and punishment, the gross lack of healthy rites of passage), but suffice it to say that there&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s not going to be a lot of progress made unless they can find a middle ground.
Here is the observed suggestion from the woman&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s side to men:
- You&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re not in trouble. We just need a favor. It&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s the same as if we were asking you to open a mayonnaise jar, with varying levels of priority. (Sometimes that&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s some real nice fancy gourmet mayonnaise.)
- When you act like you&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re in trouble, we start to wonder what you think you did wrong. This is not the same as already thinking you&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;ve done something wrong. The vast majority of the time, you&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;ve put the thought in our head that not all&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s well in Whoville, not the other way around.
- Yes, it&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s about us. And it&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s about you. Men do not often feel a big need to talk about their needs. Sometimes it&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s because they don&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t feel comfortable, sometimes they just take care of things themselves, but unless you tell us, women just think they&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;ve anticipated those needs well enough to address them before you ask. We do not assume the same thing about you.
- On the &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;bei
ng in trouble&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8221; thing, we are not your momma. Seriously. We&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re trying to have a mature relationship here, complete with the ideally regular exchanging of body fluids and intimate moments. Being treated like an authority figure is not sexy (outside of the obvious fetishistic possibilities, but that&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s not the main part of the relationship, usually).
- Don&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t read anything into it. This is a double-edged scalpel: if you refuse to read into anything but the words being said, you cannot be held accountable for words that aren&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t said. Girl says, &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;Wow,
I&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;d sure like a diamond,&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8221; and you can take that as &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;she likes diamonds.&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8221; You are not obligated to assume that she wants you to buy her a diamond (whether she really meant that or not) because she didn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t say it. Because guessing SUCKS. THIS is how to deprogram the passive-aggressive neediness while simultaneously inviting explicit communication.
The conflict happens when we&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re trying to have a mature conversation &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8211; and a mature relationship &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8211; at least in some parts, and you&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re running in the other direction. We promise, it will be much smoother and much more fun (of the mature fashion) if you will try to meet us on that ground. Being an adult doesn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t mean not playing, it just means playing better games.
* DISCLAIMER: Yes, I know that not all men are like this and that not all women are like this, but I have had this argument with multiple partners throughout the years &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8211; spouses and otherwise &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8211; so there has to be some kind of cultural trend there. I know I&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;m not the only one.
I love watching a species evolve. As I mentioned in my last post about natural selection, sufficient technology will tend to weed out the undesirables and create categorizations and groups within a species. There are the &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;obl
It used to be that the most common relationship advice you could find was somewhere along the lines of &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;fin
Before I get too far into this, I have a confession to make: up until recently, I had absolutely no idea why it was a good idea to have (committed) relationships at all. One of the more awkward conversations I had many, many years ago was when I was lying in bed with a lover and said, &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;Wha
So, the question has vexed me for a very long time. Being happy with yourself is pretty easy, but being happy with someone else&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8230; is also easy (depending on the person), especially if you took the advice on how to make good choices in a partner. But how is that different from friends-with-benefits or the average garden-variety fun-while-it-lasts arrangements?
In other words, what is the spark that turns a successful relationship into a still-holding-hands-at 90-years-old kind of relationship?
Now, I&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;m not just talking about permanence, because you can have a successful relationship that doesn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t last forever. And you can be with someone for the rest of your life and still not have a successful relationship. There is that magical spark that takes a relationship of comfortable to amazing, and if you can&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t have that, it never made sense to me to be in a relationship at all. (That&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s not to say I didn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t try. I believe in having significant data to draw from, and it eluded me for years and years despite building a sufficient sample base. )
Yes, it has so much to do with the person you&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re with, with the compatibility that you have between you, but there&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s more to it. Seth Adam Smith gets the closest I&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;ve ever seen to someone explaining it well when he said marriage isn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t for you, that the reason you marry someone is not because &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;you&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re ready&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8221; or because &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;you&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re happy when you&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re with them&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8221; but because you want to spend the rest of your life making that other person happy.
Marriage has its selfish perks: never having to worry about if you&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re going to get laid again (ideally), not having to look for a date to a Friday night movie (most of the time), having a sense of security and stability that cohabitation doesn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t really provide&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8230; but the real determination of whether or not you&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re in a successful marriage-level relationship is how much effort you put into making your partner happy. Reading these words validated what I felt and made me realize that I wasn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t just being an &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;Art
Yes, yes, we know all that (and I&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;d invoke a planet-wide case of diafeelies if I let myself go on about my favorite topic), but that&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s not what I&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;m finding so remarkable.
The lines are being drawn more and more around the social strata where the old standards of &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;nor
Thank the gods.
You can tell a lot about a culture based on what kind of love their love songs talk about &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8211; and how people react to them. Just because Rhianna did a song about BDSM (that was, incidentally, almost as boring as the book and songs that Madonna did on the same topic) doesn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t mean it&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s the cultural norm, although the fact that it played on mainstream radio at all indicates that we&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;ve matured to where it doesn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t leave us in girlish titters at the mention of it. Its presence lets us know that we&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;re culturally prepared to deal with the wider breadth of sexuality as a real topic and not just a taboo giggle-fest.
No, there are more songs that tell us that love isn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t blind (Brad Paisley&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s &http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8220;Lit
This awareness is refreshing, brilliant, wonderful&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8230; and I hope to see more of it. I&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;m looking forward to the days when we can see movies and hear songs and read books about relationships where there are clothes on the floor and the toilet seat is left up, and even though there isn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t a single excuse for it, it&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;s still handled like grown-ups and doesn&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8217;t interfere with romance.
And with that&http://www.normalityfactor.com/#8230; I need to go straighten up my room.
So, I was reading this article in AlterNet about how smartphones are killing us, and I probably didn’t have the normal reaction to it. While there are people clamoring for more and more regulation of “texting while” behaviors, I’m enjoying watching the process of social evolution happen right before my eyes.
And that includes removing specimens that are not good selections for positive traits.
Yes, I just called “texting while driving” an act of natural selection.
And really, texting while walking is right up there. Pedestrian fatalities are on the rise for exactly that reason – that people aren’t paying attention to where they’re going and so end up falling onto the third rail – but despite the obvious public outcry of indignant rage over how we could possibly let this happen (often tweeted remotely), I shrug and figure, it’s about damn time.
See, I’m not just paleo in diet. I’m a big meanyhead that believes that most if not all of our natural selection tendencies have kind of been clipped by technology. I’m not saying that I think technology is bad (really?! Where are you reading this, again?!), but I am saying that it’s up to us to adapt to our environments as much as we try to force our environments to adapt to us. And, for the record, I think we totally suck at forcing our environments to adapt to us, which is why we have such overwhelming problems with toxic food, pollution, and other everything’s-out-to-get-you elements.
I believe that if you’re too stupid to learn how to look where you’re going while you have your head in a shiny screen and you get yourself killed, you have done the gene pool a favor.
What about the children?! What about the families of the people left behind?!? THINK ABOUT THE KITTENS!!!
It sucks, but my statement stands: if the people left behind don’t learn from the mistake and teach themselves to pay attention - not to blame the technology, by the way – then natural selection moves on.
(The kittens are on their own. They can go mew and look cute at just about anyone and be okay. Happens all the time.)
Okay, that covers the bodily functions of the specimens of our species, but what is it doing to the fabric of society?
I tend to believe that we cannot effectively separate our definition of “society” from the species because society is how the species expresses itself – and I mean “express” in all the forms of the word. We’re integrating this technology into our social evolution, but what I find so bothersome with all the ZOMGDONTEXT’N'EAT!!!11!1 is that such outcries usually come with some ridiculous demand to change the rules of society for everyone and not just the terminally rude and/or stupid, kinda like that whole “cell phone gas vapor” thing. Colorado and Wyoming allegedly wanted to pass laws to prohibiting talking on a cell phone while gassing up.
Look, technology is the new shiny. It’s got NRE all over it. That dumb iPhone 5 commercial where people miss important events because ERMEGERDKIRTTEHR! sets the expectation that it’s okay to blow people off for their phones, and the people that take that message to the bank will be shunned by more honest company. Technology on this scale creates new lines in the loyalties of people everywhere, and that creates activity in the evolution of society.
These are all just growing pains. Lamenting about how people don’t communicate the way they used to dumb because of course they don’t – and they shouldn’t. We are seeing the advent of the future history we’ve all been waiting for. Each of us carries the entire wisdom of the whole of human history in our hands, accessible to every walk of life. Technology is no longer a class-based luxury but rather an integral and necessary part of life for all social strata. You can’t get a job without a cell phone more and more of the time, and there is even a trend where bringing hard copies of your resume to an interview only proves that you have a printer – and does nothing else for you.
What is interesting about the people that lament and bitch and whine and are just absolutely shocked at how rude/oblivious/dangerous all these nose-in-the-tablet are is that we can additionally select against another social ail: over-reactive short-sighted snottiness.
In case you missed it, Miley Cyrus is a grown-damn-woman now and did a little dance with What’s-his-name Thicke at some music award show or something. (Yeah, that’s how important it was.) I had no idea until I saw a picture of Beetlejuice humping a hot blonde in latex panties HOLY CRAP THAT’S MILEY?!?
And then began the slut-shaming, the style-shaming, the criticism… and my STFU started acting up again. This is what I posted on Facebook:
This is not going to be popular:
Stop slut-shaming Miley Cyrus.
She grew up in Disney and therefore was not given a chance or opportunity to show or be herself. She started off in her daddy’s shadow and was expected to be a “daddy’s girl” for that, and in so many ways, she does appear to be a chip off the old block there. The fact is, she’s exploring her own personality and her own sexuality JUST LIKE EVERY OTHER HUMAN HAS TO, but her circumstances have put her explorations in lime light instead of in the background like it would be for other people.
Guess what? Miley Cyrus has sex. Sometimes it’s with people/men who aren’t the sharpest tack in the can. Golly gee, but I can’t think of ANYONE who has sex and sometimes with people they might’ve should’ve thought twice about…
But the biggest issue is, STOP SLUT-SHAMING ALTOGETHER. If you insist on refusing to acknowledge that a woman has the FIRST choice in expressing her sexuality by judging her for that expression, then you’re actually encouraging assholes like Thicke to keep making demeaning, degrading, emotionally undermining crap.
(Yes, it’s a catchy song, and I love looking at naked chicks, too, but telling someone what they want instead of asking them is one of the big OMFGSTAHP points on the road to emotionally fixing the world.)
And the responses pretty well sum up why I love my friends so much (names are abbreviated because internet):
TE: Mind if I share this?
MGS: I get the point.
Me: TE – Sure.
JP: True, but the whole tongue thing was not attractive.
Me: But the tongue thing was actually a better move, in my opinion, establishing a PERSON there rather than leaving herself exclusively as an automaton sex object. It wasn’t as effective as it could have been, and maybe not the classiest, but it served a good purpose.
JD: I’m more bothered by the latex undies and sneakers. Commit to a look!
Me: That WAS a look – her own, and one that guaranteed she wouldn’t fall on her face. Plus, her legs are gorgeous enough to not need heels to look amazing.
RG: A legitimate perspective, I guess it just depends on a lot of factors to me and no topic is black and white such as the topic of “slut shaming”. I feel she could have gotten a sexual message across in less cringe worthy way especially with such an active young fanbase, but it’s her life and her career not anybody else’s to lead. I suppose in the end it is up to the parents to guide their children away from unfortunate behavior visible to their children .
Me: But which behavior is unfortunate? The one where they hide the fact of sex away in a closet and hope that their kids figure out how to use it wisely, or the one where they trot it out and look at it in the light (good/bad/indifferent) until there are no more mysteries? Yes, it means that there will be more visible sexual displays, but so long as those displays are not judged (which is what slut-shaming is) a much more healthy sexuality can develop.
MGS: Ok so she did it. The producer/director obviously knew something like this was going to happen during rehearsals and approved. Does it help her public image? Frankly, Scarlet, I don’t give a damn. We place too much emphasis on celebrity in country already. It is was a moment in time. It’s over. We will all recover.
JA: Yeah, people making a huge deal out of this need to grow up. Personally the only thing I found hilarious was the one dude dressed up like he just came from the set of Beetlejuice. People saying “I’m never going to let my kids watch Hannah Montanah again” are missing the point – they’re expecting these other people to set the example instead o themselves.
Let her do what she wants. Agree or disagree, at least she’s doing her thing. People need to learn that just because they’re offended by something it doesn’t mean they’re right.
KS: Exactly, a producer/director guided Miley’s performance. I don’t buy that it was anything more than attention grabbing, and not some sexual enlightenment from Miley Cyrus on display.
Me: Understand something through all of this: I’m not a Miley Cyrus fan (although she has one or two songs that Lili has subjected me to that I don’t totally hate). And I’m not suggesting that she is deliberately forcing some kind of social commentary. I’m saying that this is a brilliant opportunity for US to make a choice about how we’re going to respond in order to create a better society by recognizing what her most likely subconscious motivation is, even if she doesn’t understand it herself.
MGS: You are so adorable thinking that the mass psyche of the US will make a better choice in any matter.
Me: No…. not the U.S. US. As in, this collective of thinkers in this line of communication. Thinking is contagious.
MGS: Erm…works both ways.
RG: I just feel truly intimate interaction should be between you and the person you love. Different strokes for different folks i suppose, grinding on some guy 16 years older than you and all the excessive groin contact just seemed a little much but that was how she wanted to express herself publicly so it is what it is. I say if you are proud of your actions then don’t mind what others think, I’m sure she couldn’t care less what others comments are going to be on the subject. Every person is different on the sexuality thing i suppose also, some like to be in your face about it while others like to keep it between them and the person they care for.
I can honestly say I have been given far more grief in my life for not running with crowd and being sexual to the extreme and still get comments and joked for it on a pretty daily basis so it kind of goes both ways. That is more of that not black and white stuff I mentioned. No one person is right or wrong when it comes to what is more comfortable for them sexually, that is about as personal a decision and preference as it gets from where I am standing.
Me: I completely support you in that, RG, and I respect it immensely. But that, too, is an act of you owning your own sexuality and taking charge of it in your own way, of maintaining your power. The Puritanical reaction is to hide the fact of sex at all away, of making it “dirty” and “nasty” and something to be ashamed of. That enables pernicious, predatory attitudes to proliferate (and always avoid alliteration) in the darkness of entire sides of a person – important, vital, crucial sides – being completely unknown. Display’s like Miley’s gives us the chance to understand more and make better choices in our actions and reactions.
KS: I don’t know Miley Cyrus personally, but I’m going to make the leap of faith here and guess she knew the type of negative reaction she would receive beforehand, and still went with it, which definitely takes a lot of courage.
MGS: I will shut up right after this comment…lol. This wasn’t intimate interaction. This was a performance. Yes, it was sexual, yes she pushed the limits of what our highly repressed sexual society is accustomed to seeing, and yes, she knew exactly what she was doing. It was for shock factor and she achieved that. Now what? Her career will continue and we have a choice whether to watch or support her in the future.
Me: But she got the conversation going, and I respect that, if nothing else.
KS: Highly repressed sexual society? I have to disagree with you there, I think people who want to be open about their sexuality are and may either be praised/shamed depending on who you are as a person. It goes both ways though, people who are modest and keep sexuality between two partners are mocked and ridiculed as well.
MGS: Granted it was a broad generalization and I agree with you. However, not all are as enlightened.
EH: May I share this? You’ve summed this up pretty succinctly.
RG: Yeah, unfortunately it actually bothers me to the point of tears that it is such a big joke with people about my personal choice to be a modest human being. I need to calm my madness, now getting my brain going about the last 15 years of this nonsense makes me all stupid and upset lol. But I get everyone’s perspective and appreciate your words on the matter Dawn, you are a ridiculously splendid human being.
Me: EH – Of course.
RG and KS: The idea behind stopping the knee-jerk reaction to slut-shaming at all is to stop being so judgmental as a whole about the very idea of sexuality. If it’s not your cuppa to rub a latex crotch on an older guy, that’s fine, but at least she was wearing latex and won’t get nearly as many cooties. When we judge instead of discuss, we stop the conversation that explores HEALTHY expressions of sexuality. Not everyone is the same, and it’s no secret that I have some tastes that are beyond vanilla, but I’m not going to judge anyone for wanting to keep their expressions behind closed doors – and the point is that no one should be made to feel bad for their sexuality AS LONG AS IT IS CONSENTUAL AND DOES NOT HURT ANYONE.
See, THAT’S the big problem with slut-shaming (and prude-shaming, and ANY shaming): it undermines the power of consent by telling someone that what they want to be or do or say or feel is WRONG. The caveat, of course, is that this ALSO invites the conversation to explore the idea of consent and at what point we are self-aware enough to make intimate choices – which is one that also needs to be had, but maybe not right here at this moment.