deza: (Secret master librarians)
In the old Irish stories, the time between dark and light was considered a time of magic. It was a between time, twilight and pre-dawn, when the sun was not in the sky but there was enough light to see. Between times, whether they are between day and night or between seasons or even between sea and stone are times and places of magic. These are where the veil between the worlds is thin, where the Fae Folk can slip through, where possibility is endless if you are willing to take the risk of grabbing it.

I'm in a between time phase of life.

Several months ago, I lost my job with no warning. My husband and I were in a strange town where we had moved just for that job, so we decided to pack up and come the 1000 miles back to family. Along the way, our RV broke down on the side of the road. Since we didn't have any income, we weren't able to retrieve it from the police impound before it was sold to cover the bills. At the same time, I couldn't make the payments on my storage unit, where nearly all of our furniture was kept.

We lost pretty much everything.

Right now, we are both working. We can stay fed. But we're living on the good graces of his parents, and the commute to get me to and from work (in a single car family, with a car I can't drive) is about 100 miles per day. A lot of our paychecks goes towards gas. Then there's keeping our phones working, and paying my child support for my son (although my ex has decided to sue me for contempt of court for not paying while I was unemployed). There have been a few times where my husband having an argument with his mom has resulted in me getting a panicked text about not having a place to stay that night.

It's not where I expected to be at 46.

This is a between phase.

We're trying to save up to get into a place of our own again. We've discussed whether it would make more sense to get another RV rather than an apartment. The initial outlay would be about the same, with the long term costs being less in a more mobile housing situation. We've talked about using this time, this space, to save up to leave the country since neither of us has confidence in where the US government is going. His job is entirely online and can be done from anywhere, and there are places where his paycheck would go a lot further than it will in Georgia.

We are starting from nothing, so we have nothing to lose.

The possibilities are endless if we have the courage to reach out and grab the life we want.

This has been my Week 11 entry for The Real LJ Idol. I had to do it in a hurry since I'm about to go sit in a court room all day tomorrow.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
There are times I feel like my life is not my own any more.

January 19 2017, I started compiling a list. Creative type that I am, I named it The List. The List is a publicly available catalog of curated news reports and government documents. Those who study authoritarian regimes suggest keeping a list of abnormal events after a demagogue is elected, as a way to remind yourself that this is NOT normal and to keep from being overwhelmed into acceptance by the onslaught of attacks on our rights.

Lately, I've been averaging adding 25 articles a day, every day. After the first month of the current Presidency, The List will hit 800 items before this entry is due.

I am terrified by the choices being made in the halls of the United States government. I've worked in those buildings. I know some of the people named, and many more of the statistical losses summed up in statements like "Most of the seventh-floor workers at the State Department were told their services were no longer needed." These are not anonymous people to me.

I'm not a political pundit. I'm a librarian. Curating The List is one of the few concrete things I can do to help fight back against the dysfunction that partisan politics made possible.

The more I do this, though, the more I feel like I'm losing myself. My husband has commented that all I ever talk about is the latest political outrages. We used to talk about everything under the sun -- now my world has narrowed down to The List. Most of the entries on my FaceBook wall aren't silly love poems and pictures of my dogs any more; they're news reports for me to add to The List or news from sketchy sources that need verification before I add them.

I could give up on The List. The world will not end if one lone librarian fails in a self-appointed task. I am not creating anything of substance. All I'm doing is making it easier to track the deviations from what used to be the norm of the political process. I could walk away and get my life back.

But what if...? What if this political stewpot really does spark World War III? Take your pick of governments that have legitimate reasons to engage us in warfare. Our President and his people have threatened to invade Mexico, put legislation in place supporting a Provisional War with Iran, threatened to attack China over an East China Sea sandbar, instituted the Muslim Travel Ban, and threatened to leave NATO if other countries don't start paying us protection money. And that's not even touching on the disasters brewing at home that could easily result in a new Civil War, like the continuing stripping of the rights of the Standing Rock Sioux who are in the way of a very profitable pipeline development, the threats against the State of California because of a protest against an alt-Right speaker on the UC Berkeley campus, the growing political unrest over the dismantling of the Affordable Care Act, the denigration of science in general and the systematic repeal of environmental protection laws. And that's if we survive the changes to our planet brought on by political denial of an inconvenient climate change and continued support of fossil fuel reliance instead of alternative energy.

What if The List is one way future historians can track why this country fell?

Can I walk away from that? Having given myself this responsibility, can I just set it down and still live with myself for making this choice? Can I live with the person that keeping The List is making me become, so obsessed with the political situation there's precious little of me left any more?

I don't know. I don't know if I should save myself and not say anything while I watch the world go to hell in a handbasket held by Trump, Bannon and company. I don't know if I should continue doing my little part towards preventing the overwhelming change from becoming normalized and accepted. There are no easy answers.

This was my post for LJI. The topic was the trolley problem, the ethical question as to whether the needs of the many truly outweigh the needs of the few (Spock voice "or the one" /Spock voice). Sorry to have it be political, but this really has been eating my life for the last month.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
I'm using this week's topic to work through some of my polyamory issues, so expect Terry Pratchett levels of footnotes and digressions (and if you haven't read the Discworld series, you really should. The man was one of the best selling UK authors of the 90s for a reason). Going into the disconnect between logic and feelings has a tendency to be a rather Gordian knot of issues.

Last February, I broke things off with Nate. I had done something that betrayed a basic level of trust in our relationship, snooping in his phone, and the consequences of that act were more than I could bear. Not from Nate; we established I was beyond wrong to betray his trust, I promised not to do it again, he changed his password (I know what it is, but it's more complicated than my arthritic fingers can handle) and that was that. I haven't even thought of doing it since. No additional comment needed.

The consequence I can't deal with is what I found. For a poly person, it's things that would be no big deal. For a monogamous person, it was heartbreaking.

One thing I found was a note to his other long-term girlfriend. I had made a FaceBook post sharing an article about easy hiking trails to waterfalls in Georgia, with a note to Nate saying I would like to visit them with him. He had sent the same link to her via Messenger, stating that even though I had posted it, he would rather do that trip with her. I haven't asked him to go hiking with me since. I don't want to be walking with him with the shadow of another woman holding his hand.

The other thing I found, and the reason I went snooping in the first place, was he was sexting another woman that I didn't know about.1 I lost it at that. To know that while I was laying in bed next to him, he was engaged in a sex act with someone else, was more than I could handle. We discussed why I felt that was a violation of the rules of our relationship and theoretically moved on. It's still a stumbling block for me.

When I am with Nate, I am with him 100%. If something is worrying or distracting me from being with him, I discuss it with him until I can move past it.2 The thought that he could physically be next to me and so focused on someone else makes me feel... extraneous. Unwanted. Unneeded. Just a distraction. So now, every time we're together and he starts paying more attention to his phone than he does to me, I wonder.

I know he doesn't see me that way. My logic centers do not doubt that at all. But my emotions latch on to those feelings of abandonment3 and run with them. I see my husband as an incredibly gifted man who has overcome some of the worst obstacles life can throw at a person. It is so hard for me to understand why he would want to be with someone as old, fat, dumpy, boring as me. No matter how often he reassures me that he doesn't see me that way, I still do. I see that I'm too old to give him another child after he was denied raising the one we have together.4 For the last three years we haven't used any form of birth control. The longest I carried a fetus was just over two months before miscarriage. I'm 46, a grandmother and very unlikely to naturally conceive again.5 I see that I have hangups and issues that hinder him from having full expression of his natural sexuality (hence why I'm whining here). I see all the things that he could accomplish if he wasn't having to placate my issues, and I don't understand why he chooses to stay with the mess that is ME.

Logically, I know there are parts of his heart reserved for other people. I know that he has close relationships with them that do not affect the relationship we have. Emotionally, I feel threatened by those other close relationships. The more threatened I feel, the more I act out in inappropriate ways -- and often I don't even realize that I'm doing so until he calls me on it.

I've been doing a lot of reading on Attachment Theory as it deals with adult relationships. I'm a pretty textbook Anxious Attachment Style. I've been working on exercises that are supposed to help me move to a more Secure Attachment Style. The books caution that can take years. I hope I can hang on to this relationship long enough to accomplish it. I just don't want to keep hurting Nate because I'm so broken.

This is my LJI Week 8 Entry. See, I promised lots of footnotes!


1As someone who has been cheated on many, many times (my ex Andrew had 14 affairs in 8 years of marriage), being completely faithful is a hot button issue for me.

2There have been many comments made about my need to talk things to death and difficult tendency to return to an issue we've already discussed when I start re-worrying over it. My memory was permanently affected by the years of opiate use and I frequently forget conversations we've had about topics that pop up again later as "unresolved" in my mental file. This is understandably very frustrating for him.

3I was temporarily "abandoned" with a series of relatives as a child and I'm still working through those unresolved issues.

4Nate is the biological father of my daughter. Andrew told Nate that the baby was his, citing a paternity test done in utero (that never happened). Andrew also told me that Nate didn't want to have anything to do with the baby. I ended up married to Andrew.

5I know that he wants to raise a child, and I am terrified that if one of the other women he dates got pregnant, he would leave me to have a permanent role in the child's life. Honestly, if he did father a baby with someone else, I would encourage him to go be a dad rather than being my husband. I feel rather strongly about the importance of a paternal influence.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
If you love something, let it go.
But what if it never comes back?

That’s my dilemma. You see, my husband is polyamorous. I’m not.

For those not familiar with the term, a person who is polyamorous (poly for short) is capable of having multiple romantic and/or sexual relationships at once. These relationships may or may not overlap each other, and really there are as many differing “types” of poly as there are people practicing it. The one rule is that everyone involved knows about and consents to multiple relationships being ok. No one is kept in the dark.

I know some lovely people for whom this works very well, and has worked for years and years.

Me, though? So not me. See, I was married to a sociopath. No, I’m not speaking metaphorically. He was diagnosed by the psychotherapist who attempted marriage counseling before our first divorce. I’d never heard a therapist fire a client before.

One of the things my ex did, several times, was tell women we were in a poly relationship to get them into bed. Other women, he told he was looking for the next Mrs Sociopath to replace me when I died (since I am chronically ill and do have an anticipated shortened lifespan). He would say whatever it took to get what he wanted from these women – and then he would drop them and move on to the next. Sometimes he was even kind enough to bring diseases home – fortunately they were all treatable with antibiotics, although one particularly bad one came very close to making me miscarry my son. But that was my first exposure to “poly”, that it was just another term for cheating.

I know this ISN’T how poly is supposed to work, but I still have a lot of damage from that time. Part of the damage is a very deep seated belief that if my partner is wanting to be with someone else, it’s because on some level there is a desire to replace me with the other person. Even if it’s only for a night, I (rather understandably) have a problem with this notion.

For a long time, if I knew a guy was poly, I wouldn’t have anything to do with him outside of friendship. Full stop, period, end of statement. I didn’t want to even risk colluding in helping another woman feel the way I had felt.

Then I fell, and fell hard, for my husband.

He told me from the beginning he was poly. When we first started, I thought he was going to be a brief fling, then he would go back to GA and I would stay in PA and we’d chat occasionally over FaceBook and that would be it. I hadn’t had any sexual or romantic touch in three years and I was starved for it. So I told myself that his relationship quirks wouldn’t be an issue and took the chance.

Three years after that two-week visit, we’re married. The vast majority of the time, we are an incredibly good match and he makes me deliriously happy. We’ve weathered some really awful external events, and we’ve come through it stronger than ever. We support each other in all the ways that really matter.

But then he goes on a date, and I fall the fuck apart.

My imagination is too good, and I can’t turn it off. I can’t block out the mental image of him looking at another woman the way he looks at me, of him telling another woman how good it feels to be inside her, of him having that look of satisfaction on his face when he cums with someone else. And it drives me crazy. Every time, I end up in tears long before he gets home. I convince myself that he is trying to replace me, that he wants to find someone else that is better in bed than I am, someone who can do more for him than I can, someone who is healthier than I am, someone who is more accommodating. I generally reach the decision that the best thing for him would be if I weren’t in his life so he could be poly without having to deal with my crazy ass holding him back from fully enjoying life. If I don’t have any medications to calm the anxiety, the thoughts swirl around and around until I’m suicidal.

Three of the four times I’ve tried to kill myself in the last year have been directly connected to him being with someone else. The fourth was over losing the custody battle for my son.

And my poor love has been the one dealing with the fallout of this. He hasn’t done anything wrong. He’s been open and honest with me from the beginning. He’s gone out of his way to spend more time with me before and after his dates so I wouldn’t feel neglected. He’s talked about it until he turns blue. He’s supported me reading everything I can get my hands on about being a monogamous person in a polycule (the grouping of lovers of a polyamorous person). He’s shaken me out of sleeping pill comas, held me when I’ve broken down, tried to reassure me over and over again.

And every time, for my anxiety, my fear, it isn’t enough.

I am desperately afraid that the best ending here is divorce. Not because I don’t love him; because I do. Because it isn’t fair that he should have to curtail the way he loves and views relationships with other people because of my issues. Because it isn’t fair that I end up crying myself to sleep alone on nights when he is out with someone else. Because he deserves to have a wife who understands and appreciates him exactly as he is without freaking out over this one thing. Because I deserve to feel secure in my marriage, without having past damage regularly triggered.

I love him, and my fear is tearing me apart.

LJI entry. I got a little raw on this one.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
There I was. A newly-minted college graduate, with a degree that allowed me to be grammatically correct when I asked customers if they wanted a lap dance and no real prospects for a more stable job. I had gone for a few extra semesters on the hope of getting an Education degree -- only to find out I had been left off the student teaching roster and would have a 3 YEAR wait before I could even think of getting a job.

Stripping paid well - it was how I had paid for most of 6 years of college - but it wasn't what I wanted to be doing for years to come.

I had worked for a while in the University library. I was in the bindery department, collecting periodicals and preparing them to be bound into volumes for archival storage. Sometimes this was rather disturbing, like every time I had to go into the men's restroom to recover Sports Illustrated and Playboy and Epoca. Some of those issues were biohazards, and yes I wore gloves to handle them. I also had the luxury of flipping through back issues of Asimov's Science Fiction (where I made my first professional fiction sale) and the Journal for the American Society of Psychic Research. I loved it. I loved being surrounded by articles and stories and so much knowledge. I loved when people would ask for help and I could direct them where to go. I loved the quiet camaraderie of the bindery office when we were all carefully applying gold leaf call numbers to newly bound dissertations.

The obvious solution was to become a librarian.

Turns out, librarianship isn't an easy thing to get into. To move up from a student parapro to a full librarian, I needed a Master's degree in Information Science. Science? I wanted to work to with words, not numbers! But still, you have to meet the needs of the job you want, so off to grad school I went.

Eighteen months later I had my Master's degree - also paid for in large part by savings from my stripping days plus the stipend of being a student worker.

Twenty years later, I am still a librarian. Never did make it back to the University library that kicked it all off, but I have found talents I never knew I had. I've learned a lot that they probably should have taught us in grad school. I've dealt with armed and irritable patrons, fecal matter smeared on walls, teens that were not getting enough structure to know how to stay out of trouble, overflowing urinals, petty tyrant Board members, insect-infested returns and a live kitten put in the book drop. I've helped people recovering from natural disasters like Katrina and man-made disasters like the recent Gatlinburg fires. I've been the point of information for people diagnosed with devastating diseases, directed the newly-homeless into the shelter system, rescued abused children, helped people start businesses and buy their first homes.

I still love it.

LJ Idol, Season 10, Week 4
deza: (Secret master librarians)
Southern Guilt is a strange thing. It's not as prevalent now as it used to be, thank Og. However, my mom never quite left the 1950s, so I grew up with a healthy dose of the Guilt Method of parenting.

A partial list of the things a "nice girl" would never do:
  • Leave the house without lipstick and mascara
  • Go out to dinner without meeting the boy's family (and vice versa)
  • Indulge in risque or offensive speech
  • Enjoy sex with anyone
  • Pass gas in public
  • Allow guests in without having snacks and drinks available
  • Drink alcohol to inebriation
  • Wear a hemline above the knee
  • Sunbathe at a public beach or pool
  • Change clothes where other people could see
  • Kiss anyone other than family or fiance

I was a huge disappointment to my mother when it came to being a nice girl. I dared to work my way through college AND grad school without getting the coveted MRS degree of a trophy wife; 20 years later, she still hasn't forgiven me for that.

Being raised on Southern Guilt left a mark, though. Those early lessons of Nice Girls Don't still cause me problems. The worst ones, the ones that started earliest and were repeated the most often, where the prohibitions on enjoying contact with men.

Thing is, I like men. For a long time now, men have liked me too. I like the way they smell and feel, the sound of deep voices when they laugh, the feeling of being held close and kissed hard. But just when things start to get REALLY interesting...

Southern Guilt rears its ugly head.

Nice Girls Don't.
Don't enjoy.
Don't reciprocate.
Don't encourage.
Don't want.

Nice Girls don't, but I always did. And that internal conflict, being torn between the rules of being a Nice Girl and my own desires, made me miserable for years. I was damned if I did what felt right, damned if I followed the rules.

Then something amazing happened.

A guy I was dating asked how I would feel about being tied up.

Dunno, never done it before, let's try.

And Southern Guilt never appeared.

It was the first time I had sex without being racked with guilt over it. I was helpless. I wasn't responsible for what happened. It was ok to just be IN the moment instead of fretting over what a horrible person I was for enjoying myself.

Over time, things evolved. I explored a lot of the BDSM culture, finding out my own particular tastes and preferences, seeing what works for me and what doesn't.

Whenever I start feeling Southern Guilt creeping back, I still pull out the tie-down harness. I struggle and twist and try to get out and enjoy the things done to me immensely, needing to feel like I'm resisting enjoying myself to be able to truly let go.

It's amazing how being bound makes me feel free.

This has been my entry for Week 1, Season 10 of The Real LJ Idol. Enjoy!

Topic 0

Nov. 9th, 2016 04:54 pm
deza: (Secret master librarians)
I really didn't think there would be a Season 10 for LJ Idol. I am so, so glad there is! I know it mostly seems like just silly scribbles from the outside, but writing for LJI has helped me so much over the years. It's been my confessional, the safe space for analyzing the dissolution of relationships, and where I came to terms with discovering my disability. The people involved have helped me stay sane(ish) through years of utter hell and through some of my greatest joys. I can't thank y'all enough for being there for me, whether I needed a cheering section or a swift kick in the pants.

So, for those who don't know or remember me -- hi. I'm Marna. I am a newlywed, a librarian, a grandmother, a witch, a gamer chick and a certified nerd. Right now, I'm between jobs and looking, so that is taking a lot of the extra processing space in my brain. But hey, I can write in between job applications! Honestly, with things being what they are I'm putting in some applications in countries other than the US. I have a feeling I'm not the only one doing so today.

Momentous events since the last time I wrote for LJI:
  • I GOT MARRIED! In June I married a guy that I've been in love with for 18 years. He's the father of my 17 year old daughter, and the man I should have married back then (and I'm sure the explanation of why that didn't happen will be a future LJI entry). After just over 2 years together and 5 months married, we're still remarkably cute and sappy together. Be careful or you may get cavities.
  • Gained and lost a few jobs. The latest loss was rather traumatic, so there's sure to be more on that later.
  • Moved around a bit. Right now, I'm just outside of Atlanta, GA, staying with my in-laws while waiting to see where the next employment adventure will take us.
  • I lost custody of my son. My daughter had moved in with my ex-husband about a year and a half ago. This past summer, he got her to lie in court and had me ruled an unfit mother. Yep, there's trauma to spare to work through this season.

The long and the short of it is, it's been one hell of a ride. Some days I want off; most days I just hang on tight.

The Real LJ Idol is a combination of writing competition, reality tv show elimination contest, and wild roller coaster. I'll be writing entries roughly once a week or so until eliminated, so don't be surprised if I beg for votes to stay in the game!
deza: (Secret master librarians)
Things I have this week I didn't have last week:
- a house
- a job
- a boyfriend

Considering how close the kids and I have been to homelessness the last month, having our own place is a Big Thing right now. I found a nice little condo in a decent down-at-the-heels section of Athens, GA. Trust me, finding a 5 bedroom place in my affordability range was a challenge! But it's done, the deposit is paid and we'll be moving next week. This is such a relief! My daughter isn't very happy because she wanted to live at the beach. Here I've made sure she has a pool and eye candy. Seems like a fair trade to me.

I've picked up piece work. It's only $1/40 word article, but it's something. I made sure I could afford the condo on just child support and alimony, so every extra dollar I make is bonus. Hopefully this will get us through until I get more traditional employment. There are multiple openings at the local public library, and having a local address now should help with that.

And the last thing...
Anyone remember this post? Yeah, him. We discovered he felt he wasn't welcome in the family because of the lies and manipulation of my ex-husband. We also discovered that we still have the same chemistry we had 16 years ago. It's been a rather heady experience. He lives about an hour from my new place, so we're going to give this whole "committed relationship" thing a try and see what happens when we're not dealing with a sociopath intent on bringing us down.

A couple of my psychic friends have been very positive on all this. One keeps talking about cycles completing after a long delay. I'm taking that as a good omen.

He loves me. I love him. We're both experienced enough to know there's a hell of a lot of work involved.

And I'm sure there's someone reading this who's disappointed I didn't go all hot, heavy and dirty with this topic. Honestly, I thought keeping up with sudden change was more important. And to you I say Get your mind out of the gutter. You're blocking the light for us sewer dwellers!

ETA: if anyone feels like helping defray moving costs, please let me know and I'll send you my PayPal info. 3 moving trucks in 45 days is more than my meager finances can handle. Thank you!
deza: (Secret master librarians)
It's no secret that I paid my way through college as an exotic dancer.

old me
That's me, back in the day. The picture is a crappy cellphone shot of a Glamour Shots photo from over 20 years ago. It's the only picture I still have from back then, courtesy of my former mother-in-law throwing away my photo albums during the divorce. Yes, I really did have the Distressed Poodle Perm. It was the early 90s; you had to be there.

Every day, I went to my classes. I socialized with my friends, played hands of Magic, rushed out papers, general college stuff. At work, though, I changed. I stopped being the shy, dorky, nerd gamer girl. Instead I became a smart, confidant sex goddess who bent men to her will. I teased and tantalized and manipulated men left and right. I danced under the name Faith. I told guys that the name Faith was because I was always faithful. It worked like a charm to open wallets.

I took a Women's Studies class while I was dancing. One of the girls went off on an "all sex workers are exploited" rant. I told her what I did for a living, and that if anyone was using people, it was me. That still holds true. In the club, I was the one in complete control of the interaction with a client. I was the one who walked away with an average of $400 each night, as well.

What I didn't say was that part of what I was doing on stage was reclaiming my sexuality. I am a rape survivor. The trauma of that had a pretty severe impact on me. I went in a depressive spiral, and more often than not I was at the bottom of a bottle trying to escape from my hatred of myself. When i started dancing, I was in a situation where I could be a sexual being in safety. The club had bouncers on staff whenever we were open. There was no chance of a customer forcing himself on me. the one time someone did try to touch me while I was on stage, the bouncer broke his fingers before escorting him out the door. I was escorted to my car every evening, and called in to let the club know I'd made it home safely. There are few places I've ever felt safer.

I miss the character I played when I went onto that stage. I miss her courage, her certainty that was beautiful, her strength and agility. I'm older now, maybe a little wiser. There are times when I'd still give anything to feel like Faith again.

LJ Idol
deza: (Secret master librarians)
Have you ever tried Miracle Fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum)? I ordered some for our teen summer reading group a few weeks back.

When you let the tablet dissove in your mouth, it tastes kind of gross. After about a minute, though, something incredible happens. You stop tasting sour and taste sweet instead. Suddenly grapefruit tastes like candy. Sucking on a lemon wedge is like eating old Lemonheads candy -- the original stuff, not the modern version. Apple cider vinegar tastes like tart apple juice. It's amazing.

So when I had a room full of teenagers are handed this stuff, of course the boys get to challenging each other. They ate some pretty disgusting things, and loved all of it! The best part was the vinegar chugging contest. That's when they learned that gulping vinegar means it bypasses the portion of the taste buds altered by the fruit, and on hitting the back of the throat the full vinegar reaction kicks in. There were some mad dashes to the bathroom after that.

Summer reading is always a busy time for libraries. Here, anywhere from 40 to 120 kids will show up out of the blue one day a week. Sad thing is, most of those kids don't set foot in the library any other time of year. They get dropped off by their parents for the free babysitting service for the morning. The rest of the year we require parents to actually stay with their young children. When it's not convenient for the parents any more, the kids don't come.

Then the kids turn into teens, and they can come to the library on their own. Since the only exposure they've had to the library previously was in summer reading, they have no clue how to behave, If fun and games aren't presented to them, they go to talk loudly, running, playing hide-and-seek, destroying the library's plants, writing on the walls, generally disruptive behavior. Yes, I've seen teenagers do all these things in the last two months.

I'm all for having teens in the library. They desperately need a place to go where they can be safe, socialize and just be teens. There's also the small thing of every teen who comes in the door is a potential future donor for the library -- not a small thing for a non-profit who gets no tax funding from the communities we serve. I do wish they were slightly better behaved, though. I wish their parents had made sure they knew how to behave in a library.

Still, seeing their faces when I introduce them to a bit of small science magic -- like turning lemons sweet -- that makes up for a lot of bad behavior. Now I just need to find something else to keep them occupied.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
There's a lot going on in the world that I want to talk about, that I should talk about...

Then there's the fact that my daughter is due on Saturday.

Guess what's uppermost in my mind?

Rowan's Maternity Shoot

This is my favorite shot from her maternity pictures. It captures a timeless "earth mother" vibe, I think.

She's younger than she looks, only 15 years old. I will love her son unconditionally, of course, but I still wish she'd waited a few years before having him. I grieve for the teenage freedom she won't experience. It's hard to be wild and free when you have a baby needing his mother, and a sense of responsibility for him. The father doesn't want to be a part of the picture. His main response when she's tried to talk to him has been "Whatever."

Doesn't matter. This baby has a mother who adores him, a grandmother who loves him already, and an uncle who is ready to teach him the finer points of GTA V. We may not be the traditional family, but we are all family none the less. We will scrimp and we will save and at times we will do without, but this baby will never doubt that he is wholeheartedly loved and accepted. That matters more than all the toys and fancy electronic doodads in the world.

I love you Baby G. Can't wait to meet you.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
I'm sure that everyone has heard about the Isla Vista/UCSB shooting by now. If by some chance you haven't, a disaffected 22-year-old guy decided that since no woman had ever thrown herself at him demanding sex (seriously; he stated he didn't approach anyone himself) then it was up to him to "punish" all the pretty blue-eyed blonde girls that weren't sleeping with him. He killed 6 people and wounded thirteen before turning the gun on himself.

Cheery, ain't it?

One of the things that has come about after this is #YesAllWomen. During the initial outrage reaction on social media sites, many men felt they were being unfairly targeted as dangerous to women, and began using #NotAllMen. #YesAllWomen puts into words the unspoken realities that American women face on a daily basis.

1 in 5 American women are raped (or survive an attempted rape). This adds up to 22 million women.

A sexual assault occurs every 90 seconds.

1 in 3 murdered women were killed by a sexual partner.

15 out of 16 rapists go free. Only 6% of rapists actually serve jail time.

Less than half of all domestic violence crimes are reported to police.

Those numbers are frightening -- and they only show reported crimes. Most women are socialized to accept that there is a very large chance that we will be beaten, raped, or murdered. We're told how to dress to avoid being raped, how to carry our keys to fight off an attacker, to travel in packs because it's safer, to send out texts to friends before and after dates so if we disappear someone knows the name of our killer.

Guys, this is why your girlfriend can't go to the bathroom by herself in a crowded bar. There's no guarantee she'd make it back.

My contribution to #YesAllWomen on Twitter was "Because the cops told me not to waste their time filing a rape report."

What I could have added:
Because my son hears rape jokes every day.
Because my daughter has gotten leers and catcalls since she was 11.
Twenty-eight fraternity brothers took turns sexually assaulting me as Little Sister "initiation."
My job as a Little Sister was to be the Welcome Mat.
I was fired from more than one job because I wouldn't screw my boss.
I still have PTSD flashbacks, 20 years later.
I'm afraid to lose weight because I was raped more often when I was "pretty".
My ex-BF found a place to dispose of my body.
My ex-husband bought a .22 and told me it was the gun he would use to kill me.
Because rapists look like everybody else.

The sad thing is, this is nothing new. Women have dealt with these same fears and threats for as long as we've been human. And there's nothing we, as women, can do to change it. Until the men decide it's time to stop making rape socially acceptable in their peer groups, this will keep right on happening.

So, whatcha gonna do?

This has been my entry for Week 10 of LJI. The topic was “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting our time”. Thank you for reading.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
My mother turned 40 a month and a half after I was born.

"So?" you say. "That's no big deal."

Except when it totally is.

When my mother was a teenager, WWII was going on. There are family stories about the POW camp near her town and the German soldiers that would walk in to her father's store to get odd treats and chat up the pretty girl. She was in college when she met my father. They had a grand total of three dates before they married in the 1950s -- Daddy was in the Navy, so most of their relationship was carried on by correspondence, both before and after the marriage.

Mom was every inch the military housewife. She ran things when Dad was deployed -- which was 19 of the first 27 years they were married. She had three sons, and one surprise baby girl just as the youngest son was gearing up to turn 13. She smiled and had bake sales and ran the PTA, was a member of both the Enlisted and (later) Officers Wives Clubs, supervised moves for herself and others. She's lived in Italy and Japan and on both coasts of the States. Behind the scenes, she always Got Things Done, whether it was a birthday party thrown together days after an international move or "arranging" for a cheating wife and family to be transferred to another base.

That was the woman who raised me. June Cleaver from a distance, Lucretia Borgia when she needed to be. She raised me to be a 1950s housewife just like her. I can sew, cook, clean and make it all look easy. I know how to handle a surprise "Honey I'm bringing the boss home for dinner" call with less than an hour's warning. I can golf and dance and mix cocktails and hold my own at any Country Club party. I can change a baby's diapers while making sure the toddler isn't peeing in the fireplace or covering the dog in mayonnaise.

Those skills are not exactly relevant in today's society.

You see, between when my mother became a housewife and I came along, this little thing called the 1960s happened. You may have heard of it. Suddenly women weren't expected to be Susy Homemaker any more. We were supposed to have jobs and careers and fulfilling lives outside of the family. Trophy wives were no longer The Thing To Be. The world changed, without my mother's permission.

She didn't see a need to change with it.

When I went to college, it was with firm instructions to "find a nice boy to settle down". I was told to hang out at the fraternities on campus because the "nice" boys would be there. Following that advice landed me in a world of trouble and hurt. So I turned my back on her vision of my future. I found a passion for knowledge, followed that through undergrad and grad school and into the working world. I refused to be the 1950s Trophy Wife my mother wanted me to be.

I'm not sure she's ever forgiven me for that.

There's still a little of the 1950s upbringing in me. Just a touch -- and that touch is enough to often make me feel like part of me is living in a different era. Sometimes I still fantasize about the life envisioned for me, about being the Trophy Princess in a castle on a hill.

Til fantasies come true, I'll be just fine in the castle I've built for myself.

This is my entry for LJ Idol Season 9, Week 3, In Another Castle. Thank you for reading.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
You can either laugh or cry, and crying doesn't do any good.

In 2012, I was told I would never walk again. At that point, I was 3.5 years into using a wheelchair. My legs had started to atrophy, they told me. Physical therapy would slow down the deterioration, but the damage was already done.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love my wheelchair. It was made to fit me, courtesy of my very generous brother. It's comfortable and supportive and best of all has these great front wheels that light up in rainbow colors. I've worn through sets of tires zooming around with my first service dog, Guinness. Used to piss off the Marines something fierce when we'd outrun them on their PT jogs, too.

But I'm not ready to spend the rest of my life there.

I started making changes in my life. I was already in the separation period for my divorce (second divorce from the same guy; I'll elaborate some other time). I didn't want to be re-entering the dating world in a chair. Some part of me would always be wondering if any interest was from pity, and I have enough self esteem issues without adding that on! I stopped taking my pain medications. I also stopped taking the weekly low-dose chemotherapy treatments. Most of my doctors were horrified, of course. There is no cure for my condition, and shutting down the patient's immune system is the standard course of treatment.

I knew I was in for a world of hurt.

At that point, I was taking enough hydrocodone to knock out a small rhino. It kept me in a haze. I wasn't a good mother, or a good anything else. I just stayed in bed and stared at the wall and didn't care about anything. One of the things I was busy not caring about was the pain. When your body has built extra bits of bone, those bits tend to press on the nerves in odd ways. This causes everything from that tingly pins-and-needles feeling to burning to numbness to sharp stabbing pain, and the pain doesn't go away. Even with the drugs, it's still there, you just don't care about it any more.

The week I stopped taking the pain meds, the section of Virginia where I lived was hit by an earthquake. The quake was followed by a hurricane three days later. Through all that, I was detoxing off of morphine, processing out the last of the chemotherapy, and dealing with the crippling amounts of pain without the morphine-derived buffer zone.

I cried a lot.

I also laughed a lot.

There are points in life when you are faced with a choice. You can give in to the despair of your situation and let it weight you down until you can no longer move. You can say "This is all too much; I can't take any more." No one will blame you if you give in. It's more than any person is expected to bear. Or you can say "To hell with this, I mean to live!"* You can decide that no one, not even an incurable illness, will control your life. You make yourself laugh in the face of the pain. You get up and get on with your life no matter how badly the odds are stacked against you.

I walked.
Now I plan to dance.

Me in my awesome light-up wheelchair at Camp LeJeune, 2009

*Joss Whedon writes the best stuff -- that line from Serenity has become a mini-mantra for me.

This has been my entry for Week 1 of Season 9, LJ Idol. The topic was Jayus, "From Indonesian, meaning a joke so poorly told and so unfunny that one cannot help but laugh." I hope you enjoyed reading it.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
Yes, I'm really doing this. Again.

A lot has changed for me in the last few years. Since I haven't been very good about keeping my LJ friends up to date, this is as good a time as any to recap what's been going on.
Background for the new folks )
And what's going on now )
Me, I'm just trying to get this all to work out, one way or another. My life has been many things, but boring has never been one of them!

One last Tassie pic, because puppy. :)

LJ Idol entry, Season 9/OMG THE END, Week 0. The topic is "Introduction"> Any questions?
deza: (Secret master librarians)
I went to a high school that had The Trojans as a mascot. Go ahead and laugh; we all did. There was a larger-than-life Trojan warrior statue at the entry of the school, complete with a strategically placed sword that more than once was decorated with namesake condoms. Oddly enough, I can't find a picture of it online and the picture in my 1986 yearbook really doesn't show the full glory.

Like every "football is our religion" high school, we had rivals. Part of the rivalry involved school pranks. Some of the pranks were cruel, some were funny, some I look back now and wonder what we were thinking. I'm still not sure what stealing a fiberglass cow sculpture and boosting it onto the school roof was supposed to say, but damn it we did it anyway!

One year, our rivals from the other side of the county decided they needed to let chickens dyed in our school colors loose on the football field before homecoming. That probably would have been more effective if our school colors had been something other than green and white. Still, the gauntlet was thrown, so the next week it was our turn to make their homecoming experience memorable.

Sticking with the theme, chickens were involved.

The interesting thing about using chickens in a prank is the little buggers can disappear in plain sight and reappear somewhere completely unexpected. If you've ever played Legend of Zelda you've seen this happen. Being enterprising young delinquents, we decided to use this to our advantage. We got three lovely, healthy chickens and painted numbers on them, then let them loose in their halls during the school day.

In relatively short order, they were rounded up. Our rivals were presented with chickens numbered 1, 2 and 4.

I'm not sure how many hours were lost searching for Chicken 3.

Best. Prank. Ever.

This has been my entry for Week 5 of The Real LJ Idol. The topic was Go Tell the SpartansTrojans. I hope you enjoyed my little stroll down memory lane!
deza: (Secret master librarians)
It's pretty common knowledge that people come to the public library to ask about everything. I do mean everything. Want to know how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie-Pop? Screw the owl; ask a librarian. How many neck vertebrae does a giraffe have? Do these cognac-colored shoes go with camel slacks? When does a movie start three towns over? What's the square root of pi?

Librarians have the answer.

Sadly, it's not uncommon for people to come to the library when they have a medical issue. It wasn't that surprising when one grey-haired lady showed up at the reference desk with an obviously ill little girl in tow. This child was miserable. Her face was flushed, her eyes were red, it was obvious she had been crying and she had this odd rash on her cheeks. The woman marched up to the desk and said "The doctor said my granddaughter has Scarlet fever. Says she needs to be quarantined. I think he's nuts. Does this look like Scarlet fever to you?"

First off, librarians are NOT medical professionals. We may be smart, but years of medical school aren't part of the library master's degree curriculum. Trust me on this one. We'd get paid a lot more.

Secondly, if the doc says a kid has a highly contagious disease, parading said kid through a busy public building full up with other kids probably isn't the best idea. Really.

I did the only thing I could do - gave the woman a CDC printout on Scarlet fever, told her to follow her doctor's advice and asked her not to bring a sick child into the library again. Once she left (in a huff, of course; how dare ANYONE suggest she put the best interest of both the child and the public ahead of her own indignation!), I wiped the desk down with antibacterial solution, let the Branch manager know what had happened, and hoped no one else would catch it.

What would you have done?

This has been my entry for this week's LJ Idol. The topic was "Does this look infected to you?" Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed it!


May. 24th, 2013 08:43 pm
deza: (Tassie)
A few weeks ago I got back in contact with a former boyfriend. A mutual friend passed away unexpectedly (seriously, an aneurysm in her 30s); in light of that, holding on to fifteen years of hurt suddenly seemed rather pointless.

One of the first things he asked me was "How have you been?"


A lot of things have changed in the time since we were together. Some things haven't. I'm still single mom to a daughter I believe is biologically his -- he was gone before a paternity test was possible, another man stepped up to be the name on her birth certificate, so there was no point to going to the pain and expense of finding out for sure. My daughter is a scary beautiful young woman now. She challenges me and makes me pull my hair out daily and is one of the greatest joys in my life. I feel sorry for my ex that he gave up the chance to know her.

How do you explain to someone that he's missed out on what could have been the most incredible years possible? How do you express pity that he wasn't there for first steps, slobbery Kool-Aid kisses, pouting fits, slammed doors and sleepily whispered "I love you"s?How do you get across that running two months into the pregnancy was the worst mistake of his life? Even better, how do you say all that without sounding bitter, accusatory or like you're looking for money?

I sure as hell don't know.

So I sent him this picture.

It was the only way I could think of to give him any clue about what he's missed over the last decade and a half.

I hope he understands.

This has been my entry for Week 2 of the mini-season for LJ Idol. Yes, that really is my 14-year-old daughter. Yes, I am fully aware that I am beyond doomed, thank you.
deza: (armed and disabled)
I'm not sure who all remembers this, but I recently spent a bit of time using a wheelchair. Nearly four years, actually.

One thing about being a chair that no one ever mentions is the havoc it plays on your circulation. Sure, it makes sense when you think about it -- how often do your legs fall asleep from sitting too long, after all? It's just not something most people bother to think about. Wheelchair, really? How often will your average person deal with that?

More often than you'd think.

Once you're in a chair for a bit, though, you start to notice the circulation problems. Sure, there are foam and gel and air mattress cushions to ease the symptoms, but nothing changes the fact that you're sitting All. The. Time. Humans just aren't made for that.

It starts off with the tingly, pins-and-needles feeling. Then you start to notice the swelling in your feet and ankles. Over time your toes resemble little Vienna sausages and get a little purplish from the blood pooling in your feet. You develop a little bonus condition called Reynaud's phenomenon, which leaves your feet extra susceptible to frostbite, even when temperatures aren't particularly frosty outside. Your feet start to feel cold all the time, even when the rest of you is sweating.

There's not much that can be done about this process once it starts. Elevating your feet helps, but only on the short term. The longer you use the chair, the worse it's going to get.

In February 2012, I was told the damage to my legs and feet had progressed to the point I'd never walk again.

I made a choice not to use the chair any more. Actually, I gave up on Western medicine entirely. All the drugs that have been extending my life at the cost of the quality of living are gone. Fifteen months after hearing the doctor's doom on my mobility, most people can't tell I've ever had a problem with walking. I'm a little slow, particularly on stairs, but I'm upright. My toes aren't purple any more.

I'm chill. My feet aren't.

This has been my entry for Week 1 of LJ Idol. This week has been a pairs week; I'm partnered with the lovely [ profile] cheshire23.
deza: (Tassie)
Once upon a time, there was a young boy we'll call Christopher Robin. Christopher Robin had many adventures in the 100 Aker Wood with his best friend, Pooh Bear.

This story is about his mother.

You see, Christopher Robin's mother, [ profile] alycewilson, was a very special person. She loved words and imagination and magical thinking, and it was from her that Christopher Robin learned the secret of travelling to the 100 Aker Wood.

Alyce, herself, had fallen through a looking-glass in her youth, and kept the secrets of that world close to her ever after. Even after she returned to the mundane world she knew what magic waited on the far side of the glass. Knowing what exists that other people don't see is an incredibly lonely feeling. Alyce set herself a quest that had nothing to do with walruses, flamingos or Red Queens and instead had everything to do with finding other people who knew what lay on the far sides of looking-glasses, beyond the backs of wardrobes, over rainbows and past the lands of dreams. She searched high and low. Eventually she began finding other people like her, and one day found herself in an even stranger place than Wonderland -- Otakon.

Alyce had come home.

Otakon, like many magical places, can only be reached when the timing is exactly right. Fortunately other people who had found Otakon still live in the mundane world, and soon Alyce had her very own Gryphon.

This has been my entry for Miniseason B, Week 0, Introduction. I haven't met [ profile] alycewilson in person yet, but with the help of The Cousin and The Photographer I'm hoping to remedy that at the next Otakon.
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