Scenes from a summer well summered

I’m spent today, y’all.  So without further ado and for your viewing pleasure, I here present a shit-ton of images I captured this summer on my beloved iPhone.  Most are from the Myrtle Beach trip in July, but there are some others from Hubby and I’s trip to Minnesota (to see A Prairie Home Companion) from around the house (kitties!), and from the gorgeous Midwestern sky out here on the prairie.  Much affection to you and yours during this back-to-school week, but I have GOT to get back to this pointless book.  ❤ Continue reading “Scenes from a summer well summered”

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Inspired to nap

Sometimes, I feel a little less than inspired.  Granted, I haven’t let the lack of inspiration stop me in the past couple weeks, but before that, I went months without writing at all.  I’d feel bad about my inaction when I remembered — which was usually about the time I looked in the direction of my bookshelf and caught a glimpse of the beautiful, empty notebooks stashed there — but usually, I really didn’t think about it.  Obviously, my urge to write has not always been so easily forgotten or dismissed.

In high school, for example, I carried a mid-size, spiral Mead notebook wherever I went. I wrote in class and at home, at band rehearsal and play practice.  I didn’t bother to hide what I was doing, and I took more than my share of flak for doing it.  Truth be told, somewhere in the back of my head, I’ve always felt a bit like Harriet the Spy when I carry around my notebooks.  I can write whatever I want and it’s true and no one can debate me on it.  I can think what I want to think and how I want to think it.

Writing in this forum has been an adjustment.

Nowadays, of course, my fallback excuse when I don’t get the writing done is the children, the chores, the cats, Donald Trump, The West Wing, and/or the insurmountable and all important READING LIST.  Naturally, I’m only making these excuses in my own head; I set these arbitrary deadlines and quotas for myself.  No one else is asking for my word count.  But for some reason, it feels important that I (figuratively) get off my ass and do something, in some area of my life.  There’s no two ways about it:  our current political situation (which is also very personal and immediate to me and so many of the people I love) has got me down.  I end up saying “fuck the diet” every day, regardless of how honorably I begin.  I also say “fuck the cleaning,” “fuck the reading,” and “fuck everything else,” because even seven months later, sometimes it’s still difficult to put one foot in front of the other.

Writing makes me move.  It makes me get other things done first before I can allow myself time to do it.

Today, while I was staring at the blank screen and fishing for a sentence with which to start, my sweet husband managed to convince me that instead, I should really come lay down with him and take a short nap.  I never take naps, but Step-son was gone to a friend’s house, and even the cat looked exhausted.  I had nothing in my head to write, so I decided to take the hand of the man I had to wait half my life to marry.  Sometimes, it seems like I don’t choose him often enough or well enough, even though I try to be grateful for and mindful of every moment I get to spend with him.  I slept draped over his chest like I haven’t since we were dating.

When we got up, I cooked supper and ran a load of dishes.  My husband went to the store for a Coke and ended up with a pack of cigarettes and a pair of lottery tickets.  We hope the lottery tickets win us enough change to send us to the Netherlands for the rest of our lives.  The cigarettes are because they won’t.

Don’t worry, Mom.  We’ll quit again tomorrow.

I still don’t know what to write.

Booze, broccoli, and babies

It’s Saturday afternoon, and my house is peaceful enough that I’m actually enjoying the cats weaving between my feet in the kitchen while I’m trying to cook.  Usually, even the people in the house can’t get by with that kind of proximity.  But cooking just now is striking me as a leisurely activity — I’m steaming my broccoli, zucchini, and carrots for the week, and it’s become such a rote thing that I can now actually blog while I do it.  And ignore cats, apparently.  I’m freakin’ zen, y’all.

It’s five o’clock nowhere, but I’m standing here seriously pondering the virtues of getting liquored up while I cook.  I’m supposed to go to a meet-up at 6:00 with about twenty people I barely know and my sister (in-law), who (as you may or may not know) I love.  Truth be told, I’m going for her, though I also (kind of) know a few of these people from high school.  I’m figuring that my sweet sister will get busy visiting with folks (many of whom she considers family) and I’ll be left wondering what the hell to do with myself.  Thus the early contemplation of booze.  My dear husband was initially planning to go with me to this shindig so I’d have a fallback person (I’m pretty sure this is why people get married), but he’s asleep after working all night, and I’m not inclined to get him up early.  He had eye surgery this week, and it literally looks like he was punched in the face.  I’m sure he’s in pain, plus, I don’t really want to spend the evening occupied with assuring people I barely know that I did not punch my husband in the eyeball for smarting off.  I mean, if he was normal, I wouldn’t have to ever say these kinds of things, but he isn’t (not at all), and I’m forced to grin stupidly and shake my head in the direction of my towering giant of a spouse in some kind of mocking gesture that I hope says as if! or see this dumbass?  I married him because I loved him beyond reason.  

My youngest brother became a first-time father last night.  The baby will be my fourth nephew; I also have two nieces.  All of us kids are step-parents, but until last night, J and I were the only ones who didn’t also have biological children.  Now I’m alone in that, and at 43, my biological clock has long been sounding a lot like pounding, overwhelming, disgusting death metal.  I’m unbelievably happy for my brother, but beneath the surface, I’m also pretty sad.  Since I was 12 years old, I only ever wanted to be a mom; I guess it just wasn’t in the cards.  I’m a killer aunt though.  Seriously.  And my sister (in-law) has always been great about sharing her kid with me.  (She calls her “our girl.”  As in, “you’re not going to believe what our girl did yesterday.”  She’s now 13, and though she almost entirely grew up with me six-hundred-and-some miles away, my sister swears the kid acts more like me than her.)

Anyway.  When shit gets a little real, I fantasize about getting sloshed while I’m steaming my broccoli.  It makes me feel better even though I’m too old to drink much anymore. Plus, I’m the child of an alcoholic so I really shouldn’t, and I’m trying to watch my calories, which means that all the really tasty drinks are now way out of my league anyway.  The best I could do and still stay within the budget is eat nothing but vegetables for supper; then at least I’d have room for two or three shots.  Not that I’d want to take them…that shit’s nasty without a mixer.

Sonny

My cat has kitty breath.  I know this because he’s sitting on the arm of the couch leaning against my arm, periodically meowing in his beseeching little kitten voice. He’s not a kitten anymore.  In fact, he’s five years old and freakin’ huge.  But when he addresses his mother (me), he uses a different voice — the same one he used when he was little and afraid something was going to get him.  Nothing ever did.

He doesn’t like it when I sit the computer in my lap and type.  In fact, he pretty much hates the computer on principle.  Although it is equipped with rubber feet, he tries diligently to push it off the counter when I put it on the charger at night.  And when he finally gives up on attempting to move it, he lays down on it, determined that if it will not die, then at least I won’t have access to it.

I like his smarts.  When I’m not paying attention to him, he walks around doing all the things he’s not supposed to until I get up with the water bottle and chase him around the house.  Once I’ve sprayed him, he follows me back to my chair and gets on my lap before I have the chance to put anything else there.  Sonny is better at recognizing the worried tone in my voice than any dog I’ve ever had.  If I’m looking for him and can’t find him, he comes to my side as soon as I call, sometimes still yawning and stretching from his nap.  When we see one another, I say “there you are,” and he meows in response as if to say “hell yes I am, crazy woman.” Sometimes I think he just talks to hear himself talk, much like his mother.  We spend an inordinate amount of time meowing back and forth at one another, a pastime that my husband finds more amusing than he probably should.

Sonny, I think, is a lot of the reason why I ended up married to Hubby.  Aside from me, there is no one else on the planet besides him that my smart and evil kitty can stand.  Sonny moves from one of our laps to the other while we sit in front of the television; he greets us both when we come home; and he walks across both of our chests at night when we’re going to sleep.  Sonny and I agreed on Hubby, otherwise I’d probably still be single.

Kitty Boy might be evil (and unlikable as far as other people are concerned), but he has undeniable good taste.

Jammies and judgments

If you were sitting in my living room right now and we were having coffee, it would no doubt occur to you to wonder exactly how long I stay in my pajama pants on an average day.  You might even think about asking me directly, because right now it’s like one in the afternoon and to most of the world, my comfy clothes might look a lot like clinical depression.  You’re probably a really caring and nurturing soul and I appreciate that, but before you jump on the bandwagon, I can assure you that everything’s all right.  I’ve had a shower today.  Hell, I’ve even shaved my legs and put on moisturizer.  I am not depressed.  If I was, my mom (whose name would have been either Frank or Earnest if she were a man) would’ve called me out on it like two seconds after it started, my cats would’ve been really pissed about their dirty litter boxes, and my husband and step-kids would’ve wanted to know where the hell their supper was, and that would’ve been that.  So again, I’m not depressed.  But admittedly, there are a few things contributing to the plethora of pajama pants in my possession as well as the frequency with which I wear them.

  1. I keep my house cold enough (even in the summer) that most people need an afghan to be comfortable.  (This is not at all inconvenient because I actually MAKE AFGHANS, so I have plenty and I like to share.)  Since I’m either on the computer or crocheting, I can’t really cover up; the pajama bottoms mean that I don’t have to.
  2. I have a cat who barely lands on the nice side of satanic.  If I don’t wear pants that he likes to sleep on (fuzzy soft pajama bottoms), he’ll scratch my legs until I reconsider my choice.  The scratching is, of course, unintentional.  (Yeah.)
  3. I’m going through a bit of a heavy phase at the moment, brought on by the purchase of Oreos, ice cream, and potato chips every week for the past six months.  The pajama bottoms are among the few articles of clothing I own that still fit.  The way I see it, folks should be grateful I’m wearing pants at all.

Probably none of these explanations is really good enough for you, and I have to admit that even I occasionally find my attire appalling and problematic.  Mostly, these moments occur in the presence of other people.  For example, there are times when I have felt truly and unfairly judged by the UPS guy.  And we’re not even going to talk about the visiting 12-year-old friends of my step-son.  Except to say that those kids really need to work on keeping every thought they have from crossing their faces.

Thankfully, I can at least say that in my house, I am not alone in my preference of pajama bottoms.  To illustrate:  last night, step-daughter and I returned from an afternoon out with my mom.  As she walked through the door, she was tweeting about taking off her makeup, putting on pajamas and binge watching Supernatural.  By the time she finished typing, I’d already re-donned my fuzzy ‘jammy pants from earlier in the day, grabbed the Chromebook, and started a cup of coffee.  By the time my coffee was done, she had on her own fuzzy pants.  We could only smile at one another as we grabbed various bags of unhealthy food and seriously contemplated having frozen pizza for supper for the second night in a row.  In the end, we couldn’t be bothered to wait for the oven to preheat and we ate whatever we could find that took even less effort than that.  (Parenting goals!)

So, if you were sitting here right now drinking coffee with me, it would probably occur to you that I’m not depressed so much as I’m an obnoxious teenager in a 40-some-year-old squishy body.  And I couldn’t really argue with you there.  Not at all.

You can’t go home again.

Boredom is a rarity for me.  There are too many books and blogs to read, too much television to watch, too much Amazon browsing to be done to ever allow it.  This afternoon though…I just finished a book (Hillbilly Elegy), and before I can really get into another one, I need some silence and a steady lack of company.  Neither are happening.  Step-son is having technology issues that I must periodically attend to, step-daughter is trying not to throw her phone in frustration with one of her friends (who seems to think that sending a screenshot of her phone will show evidence of her broken screen).  Husband is trying to sleep for a little while before he returns to work tonight for another 12 hours.  The cat is high from the catnip spray we bought last night, and the neighbors are mowing their grass in the 95 degree heat of the day.  The trains roll through repeatedly, too many to count and way too loud.

So I’m not bored, not really.  But the book was good and a little thought-provoking and my mind is certainly wandering.

Today, I’ve been thinking about people I originally encountered on the internet, met face-to-face, and now haven’t seen or heard from in more than a decade.  Thinking of them led me to a sort of homesickness for OpenDiary, a community I joined in 1999 and stayed with off and on for the five or six years following, even though I was also self-hosted during most of that time.  (OD, of course, closed permanently in 2014, but even looking at the Wayback screenshots of its standard crappy page design makes me more than a little sad for those days long gone.)  It’s funny the things that stick with us and that become synonymous with “home” in our heads.  Place–I guess even virtual place–becomes something so much more once feeling is attached to it.  On OpenDiary, I met Leah, whose last name I no longer remember, whose emails were lost to the ether when my old standby email address was shut down due to inaction.  She made me soap, sent me a book on powerful historical women, and hugged me in the Charlotte townhouse of a friend of hers.  She was a first-year teacher with a lot of frustration…not at all a new thing for that school district, even then.  Then there was Essdee (Shawn Dana), whose last name I never knew, whose face I never saw, but whose comments on the every day minutiae of my life made everything so much easier.  And, of course, Dominica, who accompanied me and my then-partner to a Star Trek Voyager convention in Cleveland (where we all patently refused to sit in on Jennifer Lien’s section, even though she hadn’t yet become a psycho with a record), who was so very kind, who loved us both, who was a brilliant web designer, and who herself had more psychiatric problems than any of our circle of friends could have possibly imagined.

Where do these people go?  How do we all drift so quickly in and out of one another’s lives, especially if what we have seems to be good for all involved?  I like to think that I am a person interested in people, that the people I love and have around me are more important than any thing I might accomplish or any money I might make in my time on this planet.  I would rather excel in friendship than in the accumulation of possessions, and I hope that the people who are (or have been) in my life know without a doubt that this is where I stand.

I am Jewish for a reason:  I believe that this life is all we get, that our only company for the journey is one another.  That we have to take care of our fellow humans even in their weakness and sadness and madness and baddity.  (I don’t care if “baddity” isn’t a word, I’ve still been using it for more than a decade and it works.)  I was young once, so of course I didn’t always feel this way.  As young people, we rarely value the right things, and I’m sure I threw away many people I should’ve kept, and vice versa.  It’s just so hard sometimes to remember (even now) that it’s not just me in the world.  People don’t do the things they do because of how those things will affect me; rather, like me, they mostly only consider how they themselves will be affected.  I have to remind myself on a daily basis that I am not the end all and be all, that the teenager neglecting to pick up her mess cannot be taken as a personal affront anymore than the weather can.  It’s a freakin’ struggle, but I’m guessing it’s one with which we’re all fairly familiar.

I’ve digressed a little.  My point is that I’m missing all those long-gone folks today, and I’m taking their gone-ness (and OD’s gone-ness) more personally than I should.  Conventional wisdom tells me that I can’t go home again, but today….today that’s just making me really, really sad.

To B or not to B, that is the question.

I was re-watching the first season of The L Word this afternoon, only half paying attention while I worked the 250th row of my 53rd afghan and drank my afternoon cup of hot green tea.  At some point–somehow–I became a 43-year-old, heterosexual married woman with a couple of step-kids, but in the twenty-some years immediately prior to that, I was pretty serious about being a lesbian.  And the truth is, I still consider myself part of that world.  The feeling becomes all the more acute when I’m in the company of lesbians or when I watch this show:  I still can’t help smiling when Shane comes on screen; I still innately understand and commiserate with Bette and Tina, and I still think Alice and I were meant to be.

This afternoon on the screen,  Shane is talking about sexual fluidity, trying to convince Dana that things aren’t so cut and dried as she believes.  There was a time in my own life when that particular idea would’ve been difficult for me to swallow as well, but it’s certainly several years in the rearview now.  In my late 30s I had this therapist, see.  And while she was all coupled up and happy (as was I at the time), she indicated that should I ever find myself with a few free hours, I really should check out this book, Sexual Fluidity.  I’m not sure why she suggested it.  Probably it had to do with my areas of research and interest–which often tended to run into the vicinity of gender studies–but it could be that my very enlightened and educated therapist also had hella-great gaydar, and I was throwing out mixed signals.  In any case, I read the book.  At least…I read the book in that way graduate students read books when they only want the gist and not the technobabble.  I like to think I got the point, though admittedly I’m not so sure if it’s conclusions were much different from those reached by Alfred Kinsey back in 1948.  Kinsey posited sexuality on a spectrum; Sexual Fluidity seemed to have the same idea, but also claimed that the spectrum wasn’t fixed and might slide in either or both directions over the course of a lifetime or an afternoon.

The thing is, I don’t think the fluidity part actually fits me at all.  I don’t feel like I’ve suddenly skated over to the boy side any more than I used to feel that I had moved over to the girl side.  I do not at any time think: “I like women” or “I like men.”  Instead, it seems to me that I have always loved with specific people in mind, regardless of their biological sex. I love/am attracted to John or Jill, not I love/am attracted to a generic chunk of hims or hers simply because they’re blessed with the right genitalia.

kyra-ghan
Pretty kitty on afghan who doesn’t give a crap about bisexuality.

At this point, my LGBT friends and family would likely insist that I take ownership of my true label or shut the hell up, and honestly, I would if it didn’t make me, my husband, my ex, my mother, and probably everyone else I know cringe.  Is it just me, or do bisexuals get a freakin’ awful rap even among ourselves?  It’s like…for all our liberal claiming that sexuality doesn’t matter, that rights to marriage, etc. ought to be the same for all couples, we really really REALLY don’t like the idea (or the conception, or the intimation) that sexuality is ever a choice, and bisexuality pretty much proves that notion.  Gay and lesbian Christians like to take their argument to their straight brothers and sisters’ doorstep by appealing to commonly held values:  “I was born this way–God doesn’t make mistakes.” But bisexuals and their partners are often manifest physical proof that this claim isn’t true, or that, at the very least, “born this way” has become a lot harder to pin down.  Were bisexuals born preferring one sex, mandated to switch when they turned 20, and then destined to switch back again a few years later?  Did God really preordain all of that?  This is the kind of intellectual leap that our black or white society doesn’t like to make (despite the fact that they assume God performs much more complicated feats than this every minute of every day all over the world).

As for me, my problem isn’t God-related.  I’m not sure what I think of God, but I know I don’t much care to have anyone else’s conception pushed at me as the only possible Truth.  Whatever God-idea I eventually arrive at will be one that I know I can live with (and I think the world would be a better place if more people considered God on a personal–instead of a political or societal–level).  Anyway, my problem isn’t God, it’s people.  It’s straight people.  It’s LGBT people.  It’s my own fucking SELF, for the love of God.  Why does it matter to you (or to me) that I’ve been with both men and women in my life?  I’ve gone where I thought I was supposed to be and I’ve stayed as long as I could.  Along the way–the whole way–I’ve been honest about who I was and what I wanted.  My suspicion is that, in doing this, I’ve been quite a bit more decent than most of the other people in the world.

And yet, when I married my sweet husband last year (after knowing him and his entire family for 25 years and knowing without a doubt that it was freakin’ FATE), I felt like I was suddenly and unequivocally ousted from the group I’d been a very vocal member of for the entirety of that 25 years.  The truth is, I don’t feel any different.  I didn’t wake up the morning after my courthouse wedding and think “I’m not a lesbian anymore.”  I still feel the struggle with every fiber of my being.  I still take it all SO PERSONALLY…at least until I remember that it isn’t so personal anymore.  Now that I’m married to a man, I’m in quite the little pickle:  I still feel like a lesbian and I still consider them “my people.”  And yet they would not be at all pleased to count me among their number, nor would they appreciate at all that I occasionally remain silent and don’t volunteer the information that I no longer belong.  For as much as we all like to act like we’re on the same page and “it’s all good if it’s love,” I just can’t shake this feeling (which I freely acknowledge has no basis in actual facts):  I’m on the outside now, whether or not I choose to own the B in LGBT.

Read me, Seymour. Read me all night long.

I have five books going at the moment.  The majority of them are decent enough, and yet whenever I park my ass on the couch, I don’t end up reading a single one of them.  My excuses are varied and only occasionally acceptable even to me:

  1. I have a cat on my lap who won’t stop nosing the Kindle.
  2. I have this pretty new Chromebook and I need to download ALL THE APPS and create ALL THE BOOKMARKS because I’ve never had one of these machines before and OHMYGOD I love it so much.
  3. I’m writing on the internet again and sweetbabyjesus, I have to write on the internet again right now.
  4. I have rolls and rolls and ROLLS of yarn pressed against my left leg and a 10-ton half-finished scrap afghan draped across my lap that I must work on RIGHT NOW because otherwise it’s just going to sit there forever and eventually suffocate me (and the cat).
  5. Truly, I have to watch the next episode of The West Wing, otherwise I’ll never finish, and I’d like to start over again with the pilot (for the twelfth time) by next week at the latest.
  6. The teenager(s) won’t stop talking to me long enough for me to read two sentences in a row.  (Actually, I wouldn’t mind so much if he was talking.  He’s laughing neurotically and making me watch stupid YouTube videos…what is it with these kids and their ridiculous videos?)
  7. I have to start supper/laundry/cleaning the bathroom. (Doesn’t that one sound responsible?  I like that one.)
  8. If I read, I’ll just want to drink tea and eat way too many Sixlets, and I’m really trying to stop being a fat ass by Christmas.
  9. I can’t figure out what I’m in the mood for.  What the hell do I want?  Should I reread Harry Potter or The World According to Garp for the tenth time, or should I finish Hillbilly Elegy or the third Diana Gabaldon (which you can go ahead and shame me for because I’m already ashamed anyway)?

There are too many damned options and too many damned distractions and I’m overwhelmed by my way-too-lofty Goodreads reading goal for the year.

I think I’m just going to go to bed.