LJI Salty

Mar. 17th, 2017 02:32 pm
deza: (Secret master librarians)
There is a very old tale of a king who had three daughters. He asked them one day how much they loved him.
"More than life," said the eldest.
"More than words," said the next.
"More than meat loves salt," said the youngest, the king's favorite child.

The king did not understand this response and was greatly insulted that his favorite daughter did not shower him with adulation as her sisters did. He banished the youngest daughter from the Court.

In the manner of very old tales, here is where paths diverge. Generally, the king eventually realizes his two elder daughters were all pomp and show while his youngest daughter had a love of substance. They are eventually reunited. This is seen in Shakespeare's King Lear with the banishment and return of Cordelia. Even though she knew returning would lead to imprisonment and death, Cordelia chose her fate out of love for her father.

If you've ever had an undersalted meal, you may have an idea of what the youngest daughter meant. Undersalted food tastes bland. Salt is an incredible mineral. The cubic shape of the crystals roughens the surface of the taste buds, so that food tastes more like itself. Neurologically, it stimulates the electrical transfer between neurons, improving cognitive function. Very few substances have the ability to make something become an enhanced version of itself in this way. Personal meditation gurus call it reaching one's highest actualization.

There are a handful of people for whom I've been the salt. There are even fewer who have been the salt for me.
I treasure those who have been there, and who have helped me become a better version of myself.
I intend to be salty for some time to come.

Week 12 of LJI, Salty
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)
I always envied people who had generations of family in one area. Cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, seeing the extended family every time you went to the store; I've never had that.

I know where my father is from.
I know where my mother is from.
I can show you the house where my father was born, the cemeteries where my father and all my grandparents are laid to rest.

But me? I'm not from there.
I'm a Navy brat. I grew up all over.

Having that sort of rootless existence as a child changes your perspective. Permanence is a myth, something other people have. There is no family home passed down from the grandparents, no sense of working the land my ancestors worked. There is no one place to go back home to in times of stress. People, maybe, but not places.

You always have to leave.
And the corollary, everybody leaves eventually.

I know, better than most, how dangerous it is to build your home in a person instead of a place. I've done it anyway. Nights like tonight, when he's out of state on a trip, I am all too keenly aware that the guest bedroom we currently sleep in is not my home.

He is.

And I can't wait until my home comes home to me.

LJI entry, done in a hurry to beat the deadline.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
I have been a service dog handler since 2008.

We aren't owners. Often it would be more accurate to say our dogs own us. We rely on our canine partners for everything from picking up dropped items to reminding us to take our meds to alerting us to dangerous situations to calling for help from outside to helping us through emergency episodes. Our dogs are furry medical equipment, constant companions and best friends.

As a handler, I am on a number of service dog boards. There are two types of "new to this" posters that make me fear for the safety of both the dog and the handler.
  • "I just got a new dog for my disabled child. I've never had a dog before. It's a year old lab mix and the people at the shelter said he was top of his obedience class. He is so smart! Where do I start?"
  • "This is my 8 week old doodle puppy Precious. I haven't been diagnosed with anything but I have [insert at least 5 trendy disorders]. I'm going to train her to be mobility support and for public blocking and turn on lights and pick up things and do the laundry and help with homework and cook dinner. She already knows sit and paw and is fully potty trained. I'm already taking her to restaurants for her public access training. Where can I get a vest that will expand in size?"
And yes, I've seen both these messages pop up today.

I know. They seem like good-hearted people who are exploring how a service dog can enrich their lives and reaching out to the community for help. They make me want to reach through the computer screen and throttle them, because it is idiots like this that give handlers a bad name and are fueling those "pets passed as service dogs" news reports.

First off, evaluators at shelters are wonderful people who are working their asses off to help dogs find good homes. They are not likely to be service dog trainers, and they probably haven't a clue as to what the needs for a service dog temperament actually are. They aren't likely to be thinking in terms of hip and elbow health, psychological stability, bonding capacity, intelligence and submissiveness and the delicate balance that must be maintained for a service dog to be working well. In service dog breeding/training programs, where the dogs are bred specifically for optimal service dog specifications, there is still a 1 in 8 chance that any single puppy just will not have the mindset to be a service dog. A service dog is not a pet, and the psychological demands placed on a service dog would reduce most pets to anxious messes. Shelter evaluators are placing pets, not service animals.

Anyone who has never had a dog before should not be attempting to train a service dog. Period, full stop. I had almost twenty years' of training and rescue experience before I attempted to train my first service dog, and I still made some pretty serious blunders. Training a dog has a learning curve to it, and training a service dog is a master class level undertaking. You can't learn everything you need to know from reading Cesar Milan (while popular, his methods are all wrong for service dog work) and watching YouTube videos.

By all means, work with the good folks at the shelter in picking out and training a perfect pet animal. Just don't expect more than a pet.

When starting with a puppy, trainers need to realize that this is a living, breathing, BABY animal. A puppy needs time to grow up and mature before it can understand the training. It's like sending your kids to school. No matter how smart your six-year-old Einstein may be, he just does not have the cognitive capacity to be studying particle physics. Brains need time to grow and to learn how to learn. Expecting a puppy to learn anything more complex than basic tasks is setting up the dog to fail. Service dogs need to be trained in a way that convinces them of their own success, because the dog's success is a life-or-death matter for the handler.

Understanding canine psychology is one of the key components in training a service dog. Dogs, by their nature, prefer to have clearly defined territories in life. They want to know where they live, who they live with and how they fit in. A service dog is expected to completely ignore that one basic need. The dog has to be willing to go to any place, no matter how smelly, noisy, dirty or dangerous it may be, and remain perfectly focused on the work it is trained to do. Think how out-of-sorts and distracted going someplace completely new and foreign is for you as a human -- and most of the time YOU know it is coming. That is every day life for a service dog; constant change and turmoil with the handler being the one fixed point in the dog's life. Small wonder so many of them have some level of separation anxiety!

I know a lot of people believe they wish they could have a service dog. The furry friend by your side at all times, the romantic ideal of being able to take your dog anywhere and no one can stop special snowflake status from getting you through. As someone who has heard "Oh you're so LUCKY" too many times, STOP THAT. Get that silly romanticized notion out of your head. The diaper bag of doggy supplies I carried for my service dog is bigger than the one I had for my two kids. Having a service dog takes work. You have to plan out where you are going to go, in what order, so you don't over-tax your dog or yourself. And that's AFTER you have a fully trained, working dog. While you're training, you have to work in extra time on ANY outing, because it will take 15-20 repetitions before a modeled behavior becomes a trained behavior. You also have to accept that dogs don't generalize training. Just because Poochie has perfect heel turn at home doesn't mean the same will hold true in PetSmart or at the bus station. Expecting anything else again sets the dog up for failure, which erodes the dog's confidence in what he has been trained to do.

And lastly, YOU CAN NOT HAVE A SERVICE DOG IF YOU ARE NOT DISABLED. Do I need to say that louder for the people in the back? Service dogs get the legal protections they have because they function as medical equipment for their handler, mitigating the handler's disability in some way. They do not go out to be cute, or to draw attention, or to protect from scary figments of the imagination. Denigrating their purpose because someone wants to feel that they are part of a protected minority with "special privileges" makes a mockery of people who are struggling to do the most basic of human life skills. I'll clue you in on a secret - most of us with service dogs would give ANYTHING to be healthy enough to not need one.

tassie on the road.jpg

This is my adorable little bit of fuzzy medical equipment. She can tell me if a seizure is coming with 20 minutes or more of preparation time. She also is trained in helping me recover from a seizure, providing Deep Pressure Therapy to prevent post-seizure anxiety attacks. Fortunately my seizures have died down and I don't need her services, so she's retired to being a pampered pet. I'm hoping to acquire a dog to train up to mobility work in the near future. I love Tassie, but she's just too small to catch me when I fall down.

LJ Idol Week 6. Heel Turn.
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)
We all know that one person.

The one who makes plans then cancels at the last minute.
The one who says "we need to get together" but never follows through.
The one who goes to the party, barely says two words and ghosts out an hour later.
The one who seems to be making only a halfhearted attempt at being a friend at all.

I am that friend.

It's not by choice. I would love to be the person with a whirlwind social life, effortlessly going from party to meal to burn to con. I wish I could be the person who is always there with a potluck or bottle of wine, the one who can talk to anyone and everyone without a problem.

There are two main things that keep me from being that person - my body and my mind.

My body, because I have what one neurologist termed a "cascading autoimmune disorder." This means at any time my body's immune system will target and attack healthy tissue. This causes all sorts of fun; my thyroid has shut down, my back is sealing joints shut with bone, my hands drop things at random times, I fall a lot. I feel tired, like healthy people feel at the tail end of the flu, all the time. The pain is so constant that now I mostly notice it when I get a brief respite from meds that I can't afford.

My mind due to severe anxiety disorder. It is all too easy, the few times I feel up to going out, for my brain to convince me to bail. They don't really want to see me; I'm a wet blanket; they only offered out of pity for the cripple; they'll have more fun if I'm not there. Little things, things that logically I know aren't true - but anxiety has nothing to do with logic.

So yeah, I'm THAT friend. When I say I want to spend time with you, I really do mean it. I want to get out and see my friends and have a life. I want to spend time with you. I appreciate the invitation so much, even if I can't make it out.

Getting my body and my mind to agree to what I want to do is getting harder and harder.

Entry for LJ Idol Season 10, Week 2.
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)
I'm back, bitches!

LJ Idol, Season 10.
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)
So for about three weeks now I've been effectively homeless.

I was offered a contract librarian position out of state. I gave up my job, gave up my rental house and moved. There was a promise of reimbursement on the table, so I made sure to keep all the receipts and stay within that budget. My brother was kind enough to let me stay with him while I got settled.

The job offer was rescinded without explanation the day after I was scheduled to start.

Ever since, I've been living in my brother's spare room, with my two teens, the grandbaby and our three dogs. It's been a little cramped. I love my brother dearly and I greatly appreciate him being there as a safety net, but this really needs to change. Like now. His grandson is about to have surgery for a torn ACL and will need the room, since there aren't any steps in my brother's house.

My kids and I have to get out.

My brother hasn't said as much, but we all know it.

I've been looking for jobs, without success. If I ever need to write rejection letters again, I have a nice stockpile to draw from as inspiration. We're right outside DC, and the job market here just isn't good. Without a job, I can't afford a place to live.

With the child support and alimony I get, though, we could afford a place in a cheaper section of the country.

So tomorrow I'm going hoe to Georgia. I'll be looking for a house or townhouse we can rent for a decent rate, concentrating on the town where I did my undergrad schooling. I have so many cousins and kin in the area as is; I don't have to put down roots because they are already there. I won't be living high on the hog, but I will be able to support the kids and grandbaby while I look for work. A very dear friend of mine is willing to be a roommate, just in case I stil have problems with my seizures (I've had two in the last month). She and I have known each other for two decades, so hopefully this will work out.

If nothing else, being physically there will mean the job possibilities that have rejected me out of hand because of the relocation won't have that excuse any more. I can do seasonal retail work until a more permanent job comes through.

Now I just have to hope that I can find a landlord willing to rent to me on *just* the strength of the child support/alimony. And figure out how the hell I'm getting a moving truck of at least mattresses and clothes paid for and down to Georgia. And I've given myself a day and a half to get it all done.

Sometimes it's not a matter of deciding whether you are up for the challenge or not. Sometimes it's just a matter of doing what needs to be done.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
Several years ago, I ran across plans for an all-black garden. Black foliage, black flowers, shining ebon in the sun. My little former-goth heart sang in delight. I have always loved things of darkness -- most of my dogs have been in shades of black.

Right now, I can't have a garden. I'm living at my brother's house while looking for work. Eventually, though, I'll have my own yard again. this time, it's going to be full of my dear dark plants and flowers.

It gives me something to work towards.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
So with the recent kerfluffle on FB with the names uproar, I'll be posting here some more again. That's good. I like the long-form journaling a lot more than reposting endless photos of Avenger jewelry and solstice memes. Hopefully a few people outside of the LJI crew will remember me. :)
deza: (Secret master librarians)
Last Chance Idol. I'm in.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
I had a beginning and an ending today.

I interviewed for and was offered a new job. It means packing up an moving, yet again, but that has both good and bad sides. I'll miss my friends and co-workers here. I wont miss the crime or the "you're not from around here" ostracization of small towns. I really won't miss the family of the father of my grandson, a family that has made no effort to meet the child in the two months since he's been born, after doing everything possible to block placing the baby up for adoption.
grayson cute
I'm kind of glad for that. How could you not love that face?
We'll be in a much more open, diverse environment. The kids will have access to cultural institutions that just aren't available in rural Pennsylvania. They'll meet people who value education and personal growth for growth's sake. I think it will be a good move.

The other thing that happened today was my children's grandfather died. I haven't spoken to him for nearly two years, and we parted on bad terms. I still loved him. I knew his health was declining rapidly, but since the divorce I haven't been welcome in that family. I wish him peace in his transition.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
A few years back, I was working in a public library near Ft Bragg, in North Carolina. We got our fair share of military folks in. One of the advantages of working the information desk was we had a view out the window of a car wash where the enlisted boys would come to polish their rides. Shirtless. What?! I'm a dirty old lady; never claimed otherwise.

The other half of our regular patronage were people from the community. Often, these would be lower income, less educated folks. Many were older, with little computer experience. I helped people sign up for their very first email accounts at least a couple of times a week.

One lady came to me at the desk just a few days after signing up for email. She was so excited -- turned out she had a long lost cousin who was actually an Ugandan prince. His country was in turmoil, and he needed her help to escape to the US. He was going to wire his fortune to her bank account until he escaped the country, and let her keep $2 million of it for helping him! She just needed my help in figuring out the routing number for her bank so she could send him her account information.

My heart sank for this woman. I recognized the scam. My gmail account filters out dozens of these attempts every month. I showed her the Snopes page debunking it. But she was convinced it was real. He had found her through a site that helped you trace your African origin. She insisted that since that site was reputable, he had to be the real thing. No one would ever try to con a poor woman in semi-rural North Carolina, right?

My job was to fill her information request, so I provided the bank's routing number. I warned her not to send the information. I told her that with those numbers, the scammer could and would empty her accounts.

A few weeks, later, she was back. How dare I let someone take all her money? How could I have allowed that to happen? She was convinced that since she used the library computers to communicate with the scammer, the library (and me personally, since I'd helped her) was behind for the scam and had stolen her money. Even worse, she thought we could get her money back.

I hope she learned not to trust scammers on the Internet after that. I wish I could have given her a wrong routing number, but my job is spreading correct information to patrons. If they choose to do something stupid with it, there's nothing I can do about that.
deza: (Secret master librarians)
I went to Otakon this past weekend. For those who don't want to click the link (clickyclicky!), Otakon is the second-largest anime convention in the US, and has been running for over 20 years. If you have any interest in anime, manga, gaming, science fiction, fantasy or horror, Otakon has your people in abundance. The attendance cap this year was 35,000 people, and it was reached. People who wanted to buy a ticket late Saturday or Sunday were SOL.

I'm one of the freaks that cosplays at these conventions. This year, I did Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, Lucille Ball and Ice Queen from Adventure Time. Making the Ice Queen dress took about two months. The sewing machine is still on my dining room table, and wig heads are taking up the back windshield ledge of the car.

ice queen
Ice Queen and Ballet Princess Gunter

The down side of being in a crowded convention center with 35,000 of your closest fanatics is there is always SOMEONE who doesn't feel so good but doesn't want to lose out on the money already spent and then attends the con anyways. This anonymous SOMEONE is "patient zero" for the dreaded "Con Crud."

"Con Crud" this year is manifesting as a cough, sore throat, running nose and itchy eyes. That's much better than some outbreaks, like the Emerald City Comicon bout in 2012 that sidelined people for up to a week and appears to have been a flu variant. Hopefully the virus will clear it's way out of my system in a week or so and I can go back to wearing contacts and using mascara.

I've just spent three days with my kids and grandkid, enjoying a rich environment filled with the most fantastical outfits. We had fun as a family, indulged in quite a few flights of fancy about winning the lottery and being at a con every weekend, learned some new techniques for our own costume building, explored new-to-us anime options and generally had a blast. I even got to have dinner with our very own [livejournal.com profile] alycewilson, Kung Fu Panda (who is absolutely adorable) and the Gryphon. What's a week of being sick compared to that?
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