Content Warning: Weird stuff. You've been warned.

Will It Never End?

Like so many others, I woke up to the news about the Orlando shooting today. It is heartbreaking, shocking, gut-wrenching, awful. And I am sure in the days to come, after the deadliest mass shooting in American history (and let’s face it, we’re a world leader in mass shootings), there will be so many calls to action. We will shout at each other about gun control, about terrorism, about homosexuality, about politicians. Somebody needs to do something, we will say. What will it take? How many people have to die before someone does something?

Problem is, we can’t agree on what someone should do. Take away all the guns? Give everyone a gun? Give guns to only the good guys and ask them to protect the ‘normal’ people from the bad guys? Send away all the people who don’t look like us? Kill the people who kill people, to show that killing people is wrong? Demand that our society do more to support mental health services? Address homelessness and abuse? Abolish religious extremism? Legislate morality?

Truth is, none of that will do any good. None of our grand plans for saving the world will mean a damn thing, because there’s one thing we refuse to see and refuse to change.

We have to stop de-humanizing the people we disagree with.

But of course we do. That’s obvious. Those people, those other people, they need to stop dehumanizing LGBT people and people of color, people of size, people with disabilities, people with mental illness, people who work in the sex industry, people who want to make choices about how and when and why they reproduce. Of course, it’s obvious. The problem is hatred. If we could only eliminate those other people with the hateful world view. Get rid of them. Change their minds.

Yes, society needs to stop de-humanizing all those groups, I agree. That’s not what I’m talking about.

Look. Everyone killed or injured in the Orlando shooting today… each one of them was a human person. Each one of them had a childhood. Each one of them has family. Each one of them loved and was loved by other people.

But the same is true of the man who shot them. That man is a real human person.

The Stanford rapist is a real human person.

The San Bernadino shooter is a real human person.

The Boston marathon bombers are real human people.

The killer in Charleston is a real human person.

This is not an excuse for the harm they’ve done. This does not forgive, nor cover, nor condone, the reprehensible actions these people have taken. It does not restore the lives they’ve taken or ruined or altered irrevocably. This does not pardon the hurt they’ve caused. This does not absolve them of responsibility. We condemn those actions, and they deserve condemnation. This does not change any of that.

But these people are people. And we must remember that.

We must remember that one killer with religious views does not make a religion of killers.

We must remember that if the rape of a 23-year-old woman is unconscionable, then so is gleefully wishing rape upon a 20-year-old man.

We must remember a sexist culture wounds and oppresses all who live within it – male, female, and everything in between.

We must remember that violence and vengeance are a never-ending cycle; those who live within it may never escape it.

We must remember that it is all too easy to point the finger at other groups of people. All too easy to blame them for our misfortunes and rationalize a hatred and fear that is, at its heart, irrational.

It’s not easy. In our shock and fear and pain, our immediate reaction is to lash out. Call for blood. Point the finger. Shift the blame. Convince ourselves more than even that we are right and those who oppose us are wrong. Convince ourselves that we know the answers. That it could have been prevented, had we only woken up, had we only taken action, if only they’d listened to us and done XYZ.

There is no law we can enact or repeal that will force us to see the humanity in everyone – those who disgust us, those who insult us, those who hurt us, those who are frightening and unknown to us. Those who wound us. Those who shock us. Those who oppress us.

When those people cease to be people to us – when instead they are a monster or a monolith – that is when we most risk losing our own humanity. That is when we begin to follow the same path our shooters, our rapists, our bombers walked down. That is when we heap upon others the fear and hurt and anger that someone else heaped upon us. That is when we perpetuate the hatred that so wounded us. In putting a murderer to death we are all murderers.

I don’t know what the answer is. But I do know that until all the world learns to see all the world with compassion, these horrors will continue.

Every Damn Day

5:50 am: Alarm goes off. Hit ten-minute snooze.

6:00 am: Alarm goes off. Hit ten-minute snooze again.

6:30 am: Backup alarm goes off. Wonder what you did wrong that the ten-minute snooze didn’t work. Make mental note to pay more attention to which way you swipe the button on your phone, maybe you’re turning it off by mistake. Make mental note to delete alarm and set it up again, maybe it glitched somehow. Mentally bet yourself that you’ll immediately forget both mental notes. Resolve to yourself to get up at the first alarm tomorrow, you have to, your hair is getting greasy and you really need a shower.

6:35 am: Jesus, your hair’s even greasier than you thought. Consider the merits of wearing a hat. Consider that it’s going to be warm today and the only hats you have are hand-knit beanies. Remind yourself that it’s possible to take showers in the evenings, too, dipshit.

6:36 am: Wash your hair in the sink.

6:40 am: Finish brushing teeth and stare emptily into the mirror for a second, trying to remember what comes next. Notice you forgot to put in your earrings. Recall for the billionth time how your friend said that gauging your ears would make the earring-holes look like cats’ buttholes. Agree for the billionth time that she was right, your earlobes do look like cats’ buttholes. Make mental note to put in earrings. Maybe match them with your shirt or something.

6:41 am: Push the actual cat off the bathroom counter for the billionth time, that’s not where you belong silly kitty and you know it.

6:42: Fucking A those claws are sharp.

6:45 am: Stand in front of an open drawer in jeans and a bra, holding a still-folded pair of socks. Debate merits of various tee shirts. Realize tee shirts don’t have merits, they’re fucking tee shirts. Grab the one off the top.

6:45 and a half am: Fuck, that’s what you wore yesterday. Grab the second one. Pull the cat out of the drawer, jesus christ cat what if you get stuck behind the drawer somehow, that’s no place for kitties, you could die or something

6:45 and three quarters: Close the drawer. Open the drawer. Grab the folded socks out of the drawer, you’d forget your damn head if it wasn’t attached.

6:49 am: Finish tying your shoes as quickly as possible. You have to leave in one minute exactly or you’re going to miss the bus for sure.

6:50 am: Realize as you’re locking the front door that one shoe is tied noticeably tighter than the other. Too late now. Fuck it. You’ll fix it when you get to work.

6:52 am: Put in headphones and start audiobook. Realize you never put in earrings. Restart the chapter because your inner monologue about cats’ buttholes distracted you from the story and it’s a good part.

6:58 am: Arrive at bus stop. Smile awkwardly at the lady you lent a cigarette to and made small talk with that one time. Feel guilty that you don’t really want to talk again. She’s got her headphones in too though, it’s probably fine. Maybe.

7:01 am: Check OneBusAway. Scheduled arrival for the express bus, 7:01 am. Expected arrival in three minutes.

7:04 am: Check OneBusAway. Expected arrival in two minutes. Ponder the possibility that people on buses do not experience linear time.

7:10: Get on bus. Try to smile politely, cheerfully at the driver while also tapping your pass on the waist-high reader. Fail at both. Now you’re holding up the line, good job.

7:10 and a half: Try not to step on anyone while walking to the back of the bus. Try not to sit on someone’s coat as you squeeze into the middle seat. Fail at both. Good job.

7:10 and three quarters: Find the one small angle where you can look out the window, without looking too close to someone else’s line of sight where they might think you’re staring at them, but also without cricking your neck for the whole ride.

7:30: Give up and stare at the floor.

7:32: Give up on that and just close your eyes.

7:40: Disembark bus. Adjust shoulder bag to account for the crick in your neck. Walk another several blocks to work. Briskly. You’re late.

7:46: Hold the elevator door for someone just a little too far down the hall.

7:46: Come on buddy, the least you could do is hustle just a little bit.

7:46 and a half: Oh, he’s not going up. Let doors close. Press button futilely a few times, mildly panicking alone in the elevator, until you remember you have to scan your access card because it’s the morning, dipshit.

7:46 and three quarters: Wonder at what time the elevator lets people ride it without having to scan an access card.

7:47: Probably 8.

7:48: Open office door. The lights are off. You’re the first one here. Again.

7:49: Almost 20 minutes late. Fuck it. Make coffee anyway.

7:55: How many different ways are there for an automatic espresso machine to avoid doing its job?

7:56: At least one more. Wonder if baking soda removes coffee stains, or was it just grease stains?

7:57: Use up the last of the creamer. Make mental note to buy more. Remember mental note to delete and re-set alarm. Make mental note to remember that mental note later.

8:00: Do the thing.

9:15: Do the other thing.

9:20: Ugh, almost forgot that thing. Do that.

10:00: Go outside for a smoke. Try not to make eye contact. Someone asks for a smoke anyway. Tell them it’s your last one. It’s always your last one. Hope they’re not still hanging around this block at lunchtime.

12:05: Oh good, they’re gone. Smoke. Buy lunch. Bring it back to your desk because you don’t want to sit somewhere and eat alone in a sea of suits talking about their business-related business.

12:05: Oh good, the suits in the office are talking business-related business. Glance significantly at the empty conference rooms as they part just enough for you to get to your desk. Try not to murder the suit who’s leaning on your cubicle wall.

12:06: Where did you get lunch? Lucky Noodle. It is neither lucky, nor is it noodle. Inwardly kick yourself for the horrible dad joke. Kick yourself because that it’s not the first time you’ve told that joke. Stay so busy kicking yourself that you don’t even care that no one laughs. They’re right not to.

12:35: Wonder, not for the last time, if bamboo chopsticks are compostable, recyclable, or none of the above.

12:36: Compost? We’re going with compost. That can’t be the worst thing that goes into a city compost bin today.

12:37: Pretend to work while you finish reading that article you started over lunch.

12:50: Fuck, that was a longer article than you thought. Decide to skip your last break to make up for it.

3:00: Remember you forgot to get creamer when you were out for lunch. Make a mental note to get it on the way in tomorrow. Remember your mental note about the alarm thing.

3:45: Leave 15 minutes early, because you skipped your last break.

4:15: Wonder how it is that the bus home is so much longer than the bus in. Wonder if it’s actually a longer ride, or just feels that way because it’s at the end of the day. Wonder if time maybe actually is non-linear and timekeeping is just a man-made construct.

4:16: Oh that’s right, the bus is super late in the evenings because fucking everyone in the goddamn world rides it.

4:19: No please, don’t worry about taking up space sir, your elbow between my ribs is quite refreshing and will certainly keep me awake and standing for the remainder of the trip.

4:36: Try to politely, cheerfully wave goodbye to the driver while also gauging the distance between your foot and the curb without really looking. Fail at both.

4:37: Don’t light your cigarette until you’re past the park. People will think you’re deliberately poisoning their children.

4:39: You’re definitely the trashiest person in this neighborhood. At least since the truck with the Trump bumper sticker stopped coming around. Not that you’re actually trashy, you’ve just never seen anyone else in this neighborhood with a cigarette in their mouth. Or anyone under the age of 60, for that matter. Or anyone who looks like they might not own the house with the view of the water that is every house in this neighborhood.

4:40: Oh look, the million-dollar house is up for sale.

4:41 So are two others on this block.

4:42: Maybe it’s me. Trashing up the neighborhood. Scaring the neighbors out.

4:45: Unlock the door. Immediately discourage kittens from scratching at the rug. Encourage them toward the cardboard scratcher literally six inches away. Wonder if catnip really does anything.

5:00: You have the house to yourself for the next couple of hours, you can do anything you want.

5:05: Anything at all. Just… pick a thing.

5:06: Anything.

5:07: Eh, it’ll come to you.

6:45: Only realize you’ve been hate-reading Facebook for two hours when you hear the key in the lock. Greet partner. Suddenly remember that you wanted to knit and write and read that comic and listen to that audiobook some more, you’re at a really good part, and you were kinda planning to surprise him by having dinner ready when he got home. Dammit.

7:00: Watch TV while eating pizza.

10:00: Consider going to bed early.

10:05: Consider staying up late because who cares.

10:15: Fall asleep watching a movie. Apologize to partner. Get up to brush your teeth and get ready for bed.

10:25: What is so sleep-inducing about the couch that is simply not true about the bed?

10:29: Does toothpaste have caffeine in it?

12:30: Try to pretend you’re not still awake when partner comes to bed.

5:50 am: Alarm goes off. Hit ten-minute snooze.

6:00 am: Alarm goes off. Hit ten-minute snooze again.

6:30 am: Backup alarm goes off.







Every Time I Get Home From Work…

… and do something with my hands that does not involve petting the cats:


Yes yes knitting BUT WHAT ABOUT MEEEE?

Every time I nudge them with my foot to get them to stop scratching the carpet:


What no no claws in the carpet here of course not just stretching that’s all go about your business human go on k byyeee

This, except with towels:


All the things belong on the floors silly human whyfor not you know that already

Every time a foot moves under the blankets:



They have no concept of “blocking the TV”:


But is good place for sits.

What I wake up to every morning:


Is an hour before alarm happens. Good time for snuggles.

Damn, they’re cute though:


Look, I are a clock.

It’s been a long week and I needed kitty gifs. Thank you for indulging me.

Why Does Birdie Sanders Make Me Cry?

If you haven’t seen the YouTube clip of the bird at the Bernie Sanders rally in Portland yet, a) you are behind the times friend, catch up, that was like a week ago and b) here’s a link. Go watch it. It’s 2 minutes long. I’ll wait.

Did you cry? I did. I cry every time I see it. WHY? I don’t know. I really don’t know.

Maybe it’s something to do with how comfortable he is with being interrupted. The fact that, in the middle of an emphatic speech about higher education, he stops cold to find out what the fuss is about. He doesn’t plow on with his speech, trying not to get upstaged. He doesn’t fight to steer the crowd’s attention back to him. He doesn’t throw anyone out for being disruptive. He follows the audience’s lead, and then – then?

He laughs. He smiles and laughs.

Maybe it’s that I can’t imagine any other candidate in the running for presidential nominee this year, on either side, who would stop mid-sentence to just acknowledge and enjoy the absurdity of this tiny little sparrow joining the rally. I don’t think there’s anyone else in this race that would have stepped aside and let that moment happen.

Of course, Bernie is a politician just like the rest of them are. And naturally, as a politician, he starts formulating something smooth to say about it. Something that sounds symbolic and inspiring and probably supports his platform in the process –


birdie sanders

I just. I can’t. That face says it all. What is happening? Is this real life? Why am I crying?

I think it’s because this year, of all years, is a scary one. Because the last several years have been hard on us all. I remember saying good riddance to 2014, convinced that it couldn’t get any shittier than that. Then came 2015, which upped the ante on Number Of Kicks In The Dick Within One Calendar Year. Personally and politically, those last two years have been eye-opening to say the least.

But 2016 is just utterly terrifying. I have never paid such close attention to politics in my life. Partially because, I believe, I am becoming more radicalized as I age. I am becoming more aware of the endless turning gears in the world and they myriad ways we can all get crushed between the cogs. Maybe things really are getting worse and more unfair than they have been before. Maybe our parents and grandparents did have it easier and they just don’t see how fucking hard it is to get by in this world, so my entire generation tries harder than ever and fails worse than ever and blames themselves for it the whole time. Maybe most of us who live in this country really are getting a raw deal. We’re actually getting taken advantage of, and told endlessly that it’s our fault for being fooled.

And we’re watching a certain orange-hued, combed-over politician bluster and bloviate his way to the top of the Republican dogpile. We’re hearing nothing but hate and oppression and violence, an overwhelming barrage of anger and disgust, and yet his numbers keep climbing. He keeps winning. We’re staring down the barrel of an era in this country that could actually destroy us. As much as we’ve hyperbolized in the past that this or that political movement would “ruin the country,” we’re now looking at a brewing situation that makes the fall of American civilization seem not only possible, but inevitable. And even beyond this one suit with a human-shaped turd in it… there doesn’t seem to be a lot of hope out there. We’re wary of hope, now. We hoped before and we were ultimately disappointed. It seems like the best we can hope for is more of the same, that we need to just vote for the safe bet and hope we’re not sold out for less than a song. We’re tired, tired of fighting our hardest for a better future, tired of hearing over and over that it’s a pipe dream. We’re tired of demanding more of our leaders. We’re tired of holding out for something better. Most of the pieces I read from Hillary supporters start out with “I like Sanders and I agree with him, but…” But it’s a long shot. But we need to be realistic. It’s never gonna change. It can’t be done. Those who oppose us are too powerful, too entrenched, too obstructive. We can’t take the risk, not with so much on the line. We can’t dare to believe that the American people could stand together and defend our way of life. It’s over. We’re beaten. Lesser of two evils. Bootstraps. And in the middle of this howling hurricane of fear and heartbreak and anguish –

a little bird lands on the podium.

I don’t believe in miracles. I don’t believe in omens or portents. I don’t take this as a sign that Bernie Sanders is fated to become president and save the country from certain doom. Logically, I know that I’m already reading too much into this. That probably all of us are.

But it feels like a genuine moment of magic.

And, I dunno, that just makes me cry a little.


It also confirms my suspicions that @ProBirdRights on Twitter is real.

Penny Fixes Some Scenes From “Love, Actually”

I know, I know, it’s fiction and it’s not supposed to be perfect. But, I just… look, there are some improvements to be made, ok?


Scene 3: Jamie Leaves For The Wedding

JAMIE is rushing around, in a hurry to finish tying his tie, grab his coat, keys, etc.

JAMIE: God, I’m going to be late.
GIRLFRIEND WHO APPARENTLY HAS NO NAME: It’s just ’round the corner, you’ll make it.
JAMIE: You sure you don’t mind me going without you?
GWAHNN: No, really. You know them better, and I think it would be hard for both of us if I came along. I’ll send them a nice note later.
JAMIE: I’m sorry it had to end like this, but I appreciate that we were able to talk it out last night. I love you, but that doesn’t give me the right to keep you in a relationship you’re unhappy with.
GWAHNN: I know. And I appreciate that you were able to respect my needs, and that I felt safe in being honest with you about how my feelings toward you have changed. You’re a good guy… I just don’t think you’re the right guy for me.
JAMIE: I understand. It hurts, but I think we’ll both move past this in the end. Maybe we’ll even stay friends?
GWAHNN: Maybe so. After all, mutual love and respect doesn’t go away just because we’re not dating anymore. The things we liked in each other are still there, even if the romantic feelings are gone. I’m so glad this wasn’t a nasty breakup.
JAMIE: Right? Can you imagine if we didn’t have such strong communication skills and you felt so trapped in our relationship that you started cheating, half-hoping I’d catch you with my friend or brother or something, and  I’d be forced to do the work of breaking up so you didn’t have to?
GWAHNN: Ugh! That would be terrible! Now go, or you will actually miss it.


Scene 5: Colin Strikes Out

COLIN wanders through the office with a basket of fruits, baked goods, and various food items. He very obviously ignores the men in the office and is speaking only to the women.

COLIN: Best sandwiches in Britain. (She shakes her head uncomfortably.)
COLIN: (to another) Try my lovely nuts? (She tries to ignore him.)
COLIN: (to yet another) Beautiful muffin for a beautiful lady. (She tugs self-consciously at her cardigan, pulling it closer together.)
COLIN: (arriving at MIA’s desk) Morning, my future wife.
MIA: Colin, you need to knock that off. You’ve been coming in here and hitting on me for ages, and I think you’re already well aware that your advances aren’t appreciated. But just in case, let me make it clear for you: I am not interested. Stop treating my workplace like it’s a Lady Zoo. I am not here for your enjoyment; I am here because this is how I earn my living and in fact has nothing to do with you. Hitting on women incessantly and indiscriminately  won’t get you laid, which seems to be what you so desperately want. It just makes you creepy. Women don’t like to sleep with creepy dudes.
COLIN: Wow, you’re right. I’ve been really disrespectful and inconsiderate of you, and everyone else here. I guess I’m just really insecure about what my place in the world is as a man. There’s a lot of toxic messages in our culture about how men and women are ‘supposed to’ interact; mostly it revolves around men feeling powerful by treating women as objects for personal gratification and not the full and complex human beings they truly are. Maybe I need to spend some time reflecting on how I could be better as a person before I try to find a girlfriend.

The office breaks into a standing ovation.


Scene 13: Jack And Judy On Set, That Part Where They Talk About Traffic While She’s Half Naked And Neither Of Them Make A Big Deal Out Of It And Martin Freeman’s A Perfect Gentleman Because Of Course He Is And Joanna Page Is Absolutely Charming Because Of Course She Is

This scene is perfect in every way and I staunchly refuse to listen to anyone who would try to tell me otherwise. I just put it in here because it’s really great and we should all aspire to be more like Jack and Judy.


Scene 51: Where Karen Tries To Bring Up The Fact That One Of Harry’s EMPLOYEES Has Been HITTING ON HIM, SERIOUSLY WHAT THE FUCK DUDE

HARRY and KAREN are getting undressed and preparing for bed after the Christmas party.

KAREN: That was a good night. Though I felt fat.
HARRY: Oh don’t be ridiculous.
KAREN: It’s true. Nowadays the only clothes I can get into were once owned by Pavarotti.
HARRY: I always think Pavarotti dresses very well.

A slight pause. Karen hesitates, then:

KAREN: Mia’s very pretty.
HARRY: Is she?
KAREN: You know she is, darling. I felt really uncomfortable with the way she was acting toward you. You do know she’s flirting with you, right?
HARRY: (Sighs) Yes, I do. I just… don’t know what to do about it. She’s a work colleague, you know? I’m worried things would get awkward if I said anything about it. And to be honest, in a way I sort of like the attention. I mean, I know you love me and still find me attractive, but it’s hard to see myself get older and older, and wonder if I’m still the man I once was. It feels good to be flirted with. That doesn’t mean I want to pursue it beyond that, of course, but… it is a nice ego boost.
KAREN: I understand that. I’m getting older too, you know. I know how nice it is to feel like you’re not totally invisible. But, darling, if you don’t set boundaries with her, she’s going to continue to escalate. If you think it’s awkward to turn her down now, just think how much more awkward it’ll be if you get caught sleeping with one of your employees. Even if she goes so far as to force herself on you, it’s not very likely anyone will believe you, since we live in a society where, infuriatingly, sexual assault committed against men is treated as a joke. Are you really willing to lose your reputation, possibly your job, just to be polite and avoid an awkward conversation?
HARRY: Well when you put it like that, of course not. You’re right. I need to put a stop to this before it goes any further.
KAREN: Thank you, my darling.


Scene 53: Harry Leaves The Office To Go Christmas Shopping, Mia Tries To Seduce Him While Maintaining A Sheen Of Plausible Deniability

HARRY: Right. Back at three. Christmas shopping, never an easy or a pleasant task.
MIA: Are you going to get me something?
HARRY: Er… I don’t know, I wasn’t planning on it. Where’s Sarah, by the way?
MIA: She couldn’t make it in today. Family thing.
HARRY: Well then I will take her at her word and certainly not insinuate that she drank too much and is taking an avoidable day off, which even if she was does not mean that she deserves our derision and joking behind her back. I’m sure whatever reason she didn’t come in today was a legitimate one. See you later.
MIA: Yes. Looking forward to it. A lot.
HARRY: Excuse me?
MIA: Looking forward to seeing you. You know.
HARRY: Mia, this sort of behavior is inappropriate, it makes me uncomfortable, and it needs to stop right now.
MIA: What? What behavior?
HARRY: You are being intentionally suggestive, and I don’t like it. From here on out I would appreciate it if you kept our conversations focused on work-related topics.
MIA: I’m sorry. I didn’t realize I was making you uncomfortable. I just find you really attractive, and I thought it was fun to flirt.
HARRY: Be that as it may. I am in a monogamous marriage, and I am your direct superior here at work. This puts me in a very awkward position, not to mention endangering both our jobs, and I need it to stop.
MIA: Understood. I apologize. Moving forward, I will work to keep our interactions strictly professional.
HARRY: Thank you, I appreciate your understanding.

Harry goes Christmas shopping. Nobody buys any necklaces and nobody finds that necklace in a coat pocket later on, only to realize on Christmas fucking Eve that he fucking gave the necklace to someone else, and it was probably expensive too and I doubt they’re so well-off that it wouldn’t be a totally unnoticeable expense, and nobody has to see Emma Thompson start to cry while straightening out the bed and then have to put on a happy face so the kids don’t suspect anything, even though she clearly feels alone and hurt and totally unappreciated and unloved, because trust me that is the most heartbreaking moment in the whole movie and I fucking cry every time and it’s the WORST.

Penny Van Winkle

Um, hi. It’s me, Penny. I’ve been away for a while.

Life got real hard there for a minute, you guys. And then it got easier. And then it got hard again. I assume writing is like riding a bicycle – you never forget how to do it? But… well, I’ve never been great at riding bicycles. And there are a lot of hills around here. And I’m super rusty. And so is my bicycle. Or it would be, if I had a literal bicycle and not a vaguely metaphorical one.


Where do I even start?

Sullivan and I are well and truly divorced now. It wasn’t all that hard in the doing-things sense; the paperwork got submitted and looked at by the state, it got reviewed and approved and stamped and signed, sealed, delivered (I’m yours! Ooh baby). There’s a new name on my driver’s license, one I chose that’s all my own. And that feels good. It feels like a concrete step away from some parts of my past I’ve been struggling to leave behind. New name has been my official name for over a year now.

Fun fact: Banks can not EVEN DEAL with it when you change all your names. Last name? Easy. First name? It’s been done, not insurmountable. First, middle, and last? Blank stares…. crickets… ominous clouds gather… a wolf howls mournfully in the distance… a wild wind tosses leaves across a cold pale moon… the pine trees rustle and sway… a raven bursts into flight from the shadows with a raucous cry…  a quiet, soaking rain begins to fall… awkward cough.

It was hard in the emotional sense. In the space of a few months the conversation turned from being best friends, supporting each other, staying in each other’s lives… to jealousy, insecurity on both sides, squabbles about mostly petty things, and what I can only imagine must have felt like a pretty big betrayal.

I, uh… I fell in love. With a dude.

Not like I meant to. I was pretty invested in the image of myself as a lesbian. I was pretty sure of myself for a while there. I had an amazing summer romance with a lady I fell head-over-heels for; a lady I am still fortunate enough to count a dear friend. I knew she was moving away when we started dating, and that was fine. I didn’t want to give her any reason at all to rethink that decision, so I learned how to love deeply and let go freely. All that is to say, if I needed to prove anything to myself about my sexuality, I think I did. I’m definitely not straight.

Sullivan disliked that I was dating women while we lived together, waiting for the lease to run out. Tried to be supportive; but, I think, couldn’t shake the feelings of possessiveness that come with several years of monogamous marriage. Maybe he found it threatening. Maybe he didn’t like confronting such clear evidence that our marriage was ending. I don’t really know; he never told me, it just came up in hurtful ways. It made for some very mixed messages. We had a hard time communicating our needs and boundaries to each other. We argued. The lease ended. We moved out.

This dude, The Dude, was someone I knew through a shared hobby and a mutual ex-girlfriend. He had also been divorced. He was from the same city as me; in fact, he and Sullivan were in the same high-school class. (Sullivan was not impressed by this; I found it fascinating.) After Sullivan and I split, he invited me over for wine and trauma-bonding. We drank and laughed and took long walks and talked about our Feelings, Of Which There Are Many. By the end of the evening it was clear to me that this was a friendship I very much wanted in my life. I became close with The Dude. Trusted him because it was clear he wanted nothing from me but friendship, and that made me feel comfortable and respected.

I don’t really know what happened there, exactly. I mean, I fell for him and we started dating and so on and so forth but… like, how? Why? Wherefore? I dunno. As I suppose most of these things happen, it just happened. I loved spending time with my best buddy, and at some point I realized I loved my best buddy. I wanted things from my best buddy that were more than just best-buddy things.

Awkward cough.

We quietly started dating. I was very confused about what that meant for my newly-formed sexual identity, but pretty quickly decided that the whole point of the exercise was to be less concerned about how anyone anywhere thought I should express my attractions and desires and just kinda threw all the labels out the window. These days I go by queer, or mostly-gay. Or, if I’m in a particularly self-effacing mood, The City’s Least Successful Lesbian.

Sullivan was not thrilled to find out about me and The Dude. There was a confession on my part and some very angry highway driving on his part. By the way, people, for the love of – DON’T CONFESS THINGS IN MOVING CARS. JUST DON’T. DON’T EMOTE AND DRIVE PLEASE. We were fine, nothing happened, he didn’t do anything scary but fuck – come on. Emoting, much like driving, deserves one’s full attention. Never the twain should meet. Leave them twain. The twainest of twains.

Interactions between me and Sullivan got colder after that. More distant. More terse. It all sort of fell apart. I wanted to stay friends but could understand that he needed time to process, to decide if he wanted me in his life, to forgive whatever hurt I’d caused by destroying the illusion that the breakup of our marriage was solely about my sexuality. There are things I feel about a lot of this now, there are lots of things I could say about what went down and how it happened… but I am doing my best, with the benefit of hindsight, to try and see it from his perspective this time around. In the interest of being honest and not hiding things, in the middle of signing paperwork and exchanging stuff and figuring out what our relationship looked like now, I did sort of drop a bomb.

Ultimately, I did what I could. I told him I hoped to remain friends, but wouldn’t push the issue. He could reach out when he was ready, and I would wish him well in the meantime. I unfriended him on social media, hoping it would give me some freedom from second-guessing everything I posted, fearing he would see it and be upset. Trying to protect him from further hurt. Fearing that just being myself and settling into this new life would seem, to him, like I was rubbing it in his face. That’s part of why I stopped writing here, too. I sent texts for holidays and birthdays – just to say I remember you, you were important to me, the door is open if you want. I’m willing to talk, to listen. If you want. If you want. 

I don’t think he did. The replies came later, got shorter, stopped coming at all. He moved away, spent his birthday with my family, which I found out through Facebook. This still disturbs me; not that my family is close with him, but that they never mention it to me. Like most uncomfortable things, they just pretend it doesn’t exist. Later, they told me he moved again; going back to school in a different state. I hear he’s been seeing someone. (Okay, the few times I’ve ill-advisedly looked him up on Facebook tell me he’s been seeing someone.) I truly wish him all the best. I hope his life now is better than it ever would have been with me still in it.

I’m sometimes sad that we didn’t stay friends. Sometimes I think maybe it’s for the best, that we would have just clashed endlessly as we tried to become the people that we are now. People who are each different from the one the other married, and yet uncannily similar. So much has changed for me that it feels really odd to step this far back, to remember how it was, who I was then. Reading back through the archives here feels like I’m reading about someone else. Someone very familiar to me, but whom I disagree with on some key points. Sometimes it all bubbles to the surface and seems very fresh; sometimes it seems a lifetime ago. Like clothes in the back of the closet that don’t fit anymore and aren’t really my style – is that mine, or did someone else leave it here  at some point and I forgot who it belonged to?

So. I guess I have three years’ worth of posts to catch up on. Sorry I disappeared for so long, guys. Let’s get reacquainted, shall we?

In the heart

In the heart is a forest.
In the forest lives a beast.
A great grey mane,
a wild white tooth,
my beast has a mouth that will mangle the truth.

In the heart is a forest.
In the forest, a tree.
A great green head,
a wild wide branch,
my tree has a bird no snare can catch.

In the heart is a beast.
In the beast is a growl.
A great deep bark,
a wild death groan,
my beast makes noises when I sleep alone.

In the heart is a bird.
In the bird is a song.
A sweet night song,
in the wild, cool air.
My bird sings a song nobody can hear.

In the heart is a tree,
at the tree lies the beast.
The great sharp claw,
the wild yellow eye.
The beast guards the bird and the bird will not fly.

The apocalypse: No girls allowed.

Last week, I went to see Pacific Rim.

SPOILER ALERT: It’s stupid. I know it’s not meant to be taken seriously. I know this. People in giant robot suits fight giant monsters in a futuristic battle for Earth. Not really thought-provoking stuff. But it did leave me with some questions nonetheless. Things like:

Why are there so few women left on planet Earth?
Are they hiding underground? Were they wiped out in a plague? Were they sent to colonize another planet? Did the kaiju eat them all? Actually – the movie does mention (spoiler) that the earlier waves of kaiju were intended to wipe out “the vermin” – us humans – to make way for the kaiju to inherit the earth. So maybe they ate the women to slow down population growth.

Seriously. We’re maybe a third of the way through the movie before they even introduce a female character. And she’s the only female character in the entire movie. Well, ok, unless you count the Russian Jaeger pilot who has two lines and (spoiler) gets eaten on the very first mission we see her go on. In the bustling army base, full of military personnel looking varying amounts of busy, I was able to count three extras that were female in appearance before I just gave up. This is in a scene where probably two dozen people appear on-screen. It was like a shitty game of Where’s Waldo.

Why is the girl such a wuss?
When we meet What’sherbucket (Mia? I got through the whole damn movie without learning anyone’s name), she’s your stereotypical acquiescent, quiet, cringing Japanese girl-lady archetype. She appears to be Colonel Badass’s assistant. Secretary maybe? Concubine. No, definitely not concubine. She wants nothing more than to pilot a Jaeger with Main Character, who she’s been studying obsessively for years because reasons. Colonel Badass is totally against it, because reasons. Main Character is sure she’s totally into him, because he’s a dude and why wouldn’t she be? And also reasons.

They spar. With sticks. He’s all “OMG we’re totally compatible!” (The giant robot suits require two pilots, and they have to be psychically linked so they can move the damn thing around and punch alien monsters in the face.) He tells Co. Badass that W.H.Bucket is his new copilot. Badass says no.

And Bucket? She looks hopeful. Then she looks sad. Then she disappears into her room. At no point does she tell Badass he’s wrong, that she can do it. She doesn’t stand up for herself at all, even though she’s clearly just demonstrated she is capable of administering an ass-kicking. She tells Main Character that she’s aced the simulations – she got a perfect score, which is apparently unheard-of – but she won’t stand up to Co. Badass. Out of “respect.” (How very Japanese of you, Bucket.)

Why? Well, as we find out during a flashback sequence… he’s her father. Basically. She was a little girl in Tokyo when it was attacked by a kaiju, and Badass was in the Jaeger that saved her life. So he, uh, adopted her or something. There’s also a shoe involved. Don’t ask, I don’t know.

Look, the point is: Bucket could have been a really interesting character. She could have been tough, and capable, and smart, and still have been sexy enough to draw the attention of MC. (More on that in a second.) But instead she’s just kind of this useless lump, and the only thing she’s really good for is making the guys in the movie look good. She isn’t even given the opportunity to stick up for herself when one of the other Jaeger pilots (a total douche by all accounts) calls her a bitch and tells MC to keep her on a leash. (Oh, yeah, that flashback sequence? That happens during a training exercise, where she powers up the Jaeger’s plasma cannon and comes within inches of vaporizing the whole army base from the inside out. Because it’s usually a good idea to put a total rookie through complex training maneuvers with live ammunition.) Instead of telling him off or beating his ass to a pulp for looking at her sideways, Bucket does…. well, nothing. She cringes in the background and looks pretty while MC wrestles Douchebag to the ground and tries to make him apologize. Total white knight style. Because it’s the man’s job to save the woman, apparently.

Does the movie even need a woman in it at this point?
Pacific Rim could have gotten by without casting any women at all, and it would barely have warranted an explanation. I think that’s the most off-putting part of the whole thing. Bucket brings nothing to the table by being a woman, except as an awkward and contrived way to convince MC to participate.

Yes, they fall in love. Why? It’s not like they spend all that much time interacting. There’s not anything to be gained by throwing them into a relationship together. It’s not like he’s suddenly motivated to fight to save her because OMG LURRRRVE. They don’t have sex (that we know of). They don’t even kiss on-screen. It’s enough to make me suspect that Bucket was originally a male character, too, and at the last minute someone went “Wait, there are no women in this script. We need at least one woman, for affirmative action purposes!” And then they had to go justify why there was a woman there. I honestly think this might have been a better movie (all things considered) if Bucket had been a male character. Then at least we wouldn’t have this stupid love story just kind of tacked on to our robot-fueled-alien-ass-kicking-fest.

And really, if you wanted to drop a woman into the story to keep the protesters quiet, there are way better ways to have done it. What would have changed if either of the neurotic scientists had been women? Nothing. What about Co. Badass? Nothing. What if Douchebag was a woman? No change. The fact that all these characters were male really points to societal views about what a woman can and can’t do, what she should and shouldn’t be.

Did I hate the movie? No, of course not. It was giant robots fighting giant deep-sea aliens. I never expected it to be Great Feminist Discourse. But it is an excellent example of the kinds of sexism we don’t even think about.

Yup, still love the president.

Guys, I like President Obama. I voted for him both times, and I think he’s done a decent job of running the country. I don’t care if you or anyone else disagrees. Let’s see you give it a shot.

And after the speech he gave today, I really really like Obama. I can’t really add much to that speech, other than a great big YEUP. It’s time for us all to examine our privilege and our prejudices. It’s time to examine how the laws we have in place may uphold or encourage those prejudices. It’s time to start talking, and it’s time to look for answers.

And it’s important to remember that we, as a country, are improving.

And let me just leave you with — with a final thought, that as difficult and challenging as this whole episode has been for a lot of people, I don’t want us to lose sight that things are getting better. Each successive generation seems to be making progress in changing attitudes when it comes to race. I doesn’t mean that we’re in a postracial society. It doesn’t mean that racism is eliminated. But you know, when I talk to Malia and Sasha and I listen to their friends and I see them interact, they’re better than we are. They’re better than we were on these issues. And that’s true in every community that I’ve visited all across the country.

I really can’t say it better than that. So I won’t.

Side note: I am currently without internet, guys, and trying to keep up with this blog via my mobile app. I may start knocking posts down to every other week for a while until I’m sure I can afford to pay a monthly internet bill. Just FYI. We’ll see how it goes.

Oh, THAT’S what love is.

Anyone who knows me – hell, probably anyone who’s met me – knows I am bad at asking for help. Not just bad at it, really… like, allergic to it. I’m the person who juggles 50 pounds of groceries and the house keys rather than asking someone to carry a bag or two. I’m the girl who drives herself home with a broken ankle rather than call a friend to come pick her up. (Yeah, that happened.)

I’ve just got this weird sort of stubbornly self-destructive independent streak. In a dude they might call it cowboy pride or something. And it’s super bad when it comes to money.

Just the thought of asking someone in my life for money is enough to put me on high-anxiety mode. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a lower-middle-class family. While my parents never really taught me how to budget or plan finances, they were good at telling me what we could or could not afford. I started to feel ashamed to ask for anything non-essential, and pretty soon I just stopped asking for anything. I started working at 15 so I could pay my own way. If I was going to waste money, at least it would be my own.

It got harder as I went through college. My dad got laid off from the company where he’d been a top performer since before I was born. My parents couldn’t send me to a university like they’d planned. The company stocks they were going to use all plummeted in value just before the layoff – that nest egg was essentially gone overnight. I worked to pay my way through community college, and they struggled to help me pay my tuition.

They also took over running a local business -one that was well liked and pretty popular. It seemed like a safe bet. The previous owners, though, had no idea what they were doing. They falsified the financial statements they showed to my parents. The stores were circling the drain when my parents bought them. My family worked their asses off for years just trying to get them to turn a profit. Of course, being the oldest and out of the house, that meant I was on my own financially.

Fast forward to today. I haven’t asked my family for money probably in the better part of a decade. I can’t even imagine starting that conversation. But the truth of the matter is, I’ve been struggling. Between the hassle it took to get into my new place after leaving my husband (the week I’d planned to stay at a friends house turned into a month) and a change in pay schedule at work, I have been emotionally and financially exhausted.

I mentioned to my husband that I may have to quit therapy for a while. It was down to either that or not eating for a couple weeks, since rent and deposit on the new place cleaned me out. My therapist is an incredibly kind woman who takes barter as well as cash –  I’ve paid for therapy in pickles and hand-knit scarves before – but I have enough of a struggle just dealing with that bit of generosity. I’d honestly rather just pay the lady. Plus, I can’t pay my student loan or rent in pickles, so there’s only so far that can carry me anyway.

Well. I found out earlier this week that my husband went and did something amazing. He sent a quiet message to as many of my friends as he could reach, explaining my situation, and asking for donations. He told them not to say anything to me, that this was without my knowledge and that I would probably kill him if I found out.

I won’t put any numbers down here, but I now have enough to pay for a month of therapy in advance and still buy bus fare this week. I’ll be able to make it to next payday without overdrawing my account or maxing out the meager bit of credit I have left on my credit card. And I can eat.

This is what true love looks like. It’s not necessarily romance. It’s not flowers and chocolates and wine.

My husband – the husband I left, the husband whose heart I broke – was willing to find me the help I couldn’t bring myself to ask for. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to thank him enough. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to thank my friends enough. I don’t even know who pitched in, or how much – and honestly, I don’t want to. It’s all I can do to just accept this gift gracefully and humbly say thanks.

Love is in the sandwich, and in the eating of the sandwich.

Patton Oswalt

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