Middle Age

•January 4, 2012 • 1 Comment

Last night I attended a small gathering with some girls women I went to high school with. I felt uncomfortable most of the time, and left feeling strange. And no, it wasn’t the wine. (although I *was* thankful for the wine)

As I looked around the room, I realized that, other than age and the fact that we went to school together, we had almost nothing in common. Most of them had successful careers, and/or husbands with successful careers. They owned nice houses and decent cars. They had highlights and lowlights and wore sparkly jewelry and owned mom jeans.

Kids were another thing we had in common, but the commonality ended with the existence of said children. Their kids are in sports and have friends outside of school. Their kids are also much younger than my own. A fact that seems weird to me considering that we’re all 39-40 years old. One of them is pregnant now and due in a month. Having a newborn at 40?

We had little in common as far as interests and lifestyle. They like country and Christian and…John Mayer. I like bands most of them have never heard of. They go to Tastefully Simple and candle parties. I go to nerd conventions and dirty bars. To them, having 2 glasses of wine is something to giggle about and is borderline scandal. I’ve been (according to my Foursquare checkins) to bars 11 weeks in a row and got halfway through the Tour of Beers. Next year I go all the way!

Don’t even get me started on the swearing. I said, “fuck,” one time and 3 people turned to look at me.

To be clear, I’m not judging these ladies. To each her own. It all works for them. To me, they are the embodiment of middle age. I am just…not.

When I revealed to my one partner in crime in attendance how out of place and awkward I felt she said, “you shouldn’t. You were the most interesting person there.” I’m sure that was just her way of mothering me through it, but there you go.

As I approach the big 4-0 I don’t feel like I’m fighting it. I happily tell people my age. I don’t try to hide my grey hair. I do, however, wonder if it will ever catch up to me. That one day I’ll take out the nose ring, put away the Doc Martens, start listening to adult contemporary and leave the “cool mom” moniker behind.

Ye gods. I sure as hell hope not.

Obligatory End of Year Post

•December 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In 2011, I lost several things. I lost a uterus. I lost a friend (RIP Hollybear). I lost a job. I lost a car. I lost some weight.

I can honestly say I only really miss one of those things.

Of all the things I’ve lost, it’s the desire to play the game that I’ll miss the least. Good fucking riddance.

So goodbye to 2011, you’ve taught me to live in the moment and to never take things for granted. Welcome 2012 and all the promise you hold.

4am

•December 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I should have known. I’d been in a funk all day. Overwhelming sadness. Near tears. All I wanted to do was crawl in bed and stay there until the feeling passed. Of course I couldn’t. I have too many things pulling me in too many directions. I should have known that once I was finally able to lose myself in sleep that it wouldn’t last. Who the hell goes to bed at 10:30, only to wake up at 4:00 and be WIDE awake?

This girl apparently.

I moved to the couch to engage in my most recent obsession. Tumblr. Specifically, Tumblrs with photos of trees and nature. There are several that I’m currently following. I just Googled “Tumblr trees” and went from there. It’s a good way to get lost for a while. Down the rabbit hole, if you will.

Many of the pictures are just your average nature shots. Most probably shot by hipsters (like myself) with a fancy iPhone app. Some, you can tell, have been photoshopped. Every now and then though, I happen across a truly magical photo. One that transports me to a magical forest. One that makes me ache from the sheer beauty. I’ve even found a few that nearly moved me to tears.

Although that could be the depression talking. Who knows?

I just noticed that I’ve been out here for almost 2 hours. My alarm will be going off in approximately 18 minutes. It’s going to be a rough day. I predict more hermit-like behavior. Especially since I won’t have any reason to leave the house today. Most of my day will be spent with a toddler, so I won’t even have to come up with anything meaningful to say to anyone.

That’s a comforting thought. At least for a little while, I won’t have to pretend I’m ok.

2011

•December 6, 2011 • 1 Comment

It’s already begun. I see it on Facebook every day. “2011. Worst. Year. Ever.” “I can’t wait until this year is OVER!” “Bring on 2012, it has to be better than 2011.”

Six months ago, I would have been on that bandwagon. I get it. It has been a hell of a year for a lot of us. As many of you know, 2011 had a pretty rough start for me. Illness, unemployment, financial struggles, and depression were major themes for me for the first half of the year.

Somewhere along the line, things started to change. I guess I just stopped fighting the bullshit. I accepted the gifts I was being given. I spent time with my kids. I took care of myself. From my amazing friends I was given support, understanding, and little ways to ease my financial burden.

Little by little things started falling into place. I applied for school and was accepted. I got some temporary jobs to carry me through. I started to enjoy life. I started to find some balance.

Not that it’s always been smooth sailing. Along with all the blessings, the bullshit kept coming. We’re down to one car, we need a new furnace, and we still don’t have health insurance. After a particularly bad week, during which time, my son was suspended (again), my bathroom sink (literally) fell apart, and my bedroom ceiling started falling (because we need a new roof), I had a meltdown.

I was beside myself. I started doubting everything. Again, I sought out the wisdom of a friend. My friend W moved out of the state a few months ago. We’ve known each other for about 20 years. We’re kindred spirits. We both seem to always be searching. Anyway, I immediately thought of W even though we haven’t talked in a while. Of course he was just a text away.

I told him how I was questioning things. That it sucked because I’d been riding a real high lately and it just came crashing down. That the high I’d been feeling was the best I’d felt in years. That maybe I’d found some balance, but I wasn’t sure, because of the crash. That the jaded pessimistic side of me was telling me it was just an illusion.

What he said next was profound. He said if the high, the balance, was genuine, that I would be able to hold onto its roots.

W: Striving to be healthier is never an illusion

Me: No, but thinking that would be enough probably was

W: What is enough?

Me: Enough to get by. Enough to make all the rest of the bullshit bearable.

W: Maybe that doesn’t exist. Meaning that “enough” might not be the goal you really want.

Me: Then what? All I know how to do is get by.

W: Then you need to find out what will make you happy, since getting by isn’t satisfying you.

Me: I thought that’s what I was doing.

W: When it’s real, it’s relentless.

Me: I’m not sure what that means.

W: It means that the thing that drives you won’t just stop on a bad day.

 See? Profound.

 So, I’m back at it. I’m working toward my goal and trying not to let my bad days get me down. 2011 has been one of the worst and one of the best years for me. And although I have lots of awesome adventures I’m looking forward to in 2012, I can’t even say that I’m anxious for it to be over. I think it may still have something left to give.

Nightmare

•November 27, 2011 • 1 Comment

My poor, neglected blog.

My good friend and fellow blogger has been on my ass to write something. I told him that I haven’t been able to think of anything to write about. I told him that I haven’t *needed* to write lately. Things have been going relatively well. I haven’t had any big questions to pose or anything to work out by putting, only in the loosest sense, pen to paper.

So why am I writing now? Now, 3:38 on a Sunday morning. What has prompted me to sit in a darkened living room, pecking out nonsense on the glowing screen of my iPhone? One word: nightmare.

One of those gut wrenching, cold sweat inducing, still shaking, terrifying dreams that wakes you out of a sound sleep. One that makes you sit straight up in bed, a shout still in your throat. One that causes such intense dread in the pit of your stomach that you feel like you might throw up the eggs, hash browns, and pumpkin pancakes you had 4 hours ago at IHOP.

The worst thing about this particular dream is that I don’t remember it. I don’t remember a single thing about it. As I sit here, huddled in a blanket with a cat to my right and a dog to my left, near tears, I just can’t remember anything about what has shaken me to my core. I feel like, if I could just remember, maybe I could work it out in my head. I could attempt to interpret the dream and maybe ease this paralyzing fear.

But I can’t.

Instead I sit here, tears flowing, and try to do what I would do for one of my children. I try to convince myself that it was just a dream. A harmless dream. I try to convince myself that everything will be fine again in the light of day. Which, at this moment, seems a long way off.

 

 

 

Mother

•November 10, 2011 • Leave a Comment

“A blessing ignored becomes a curse.” -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

 

With all the chaos in my life lately, I’ve been putting a lot of thought into what I’m supposed to be. Until recently, I’d been thinking about this in a strictly occupational sense. What kind of job should I be doing? What should my major be? How can I contribute to society *and* put food on the table?

Then, last week, I was talking to a good friend about a Pagan festival we’re both going to next Summer. Mention was made of a Crone camp. (For those of you who aren’t familiar, the Triple Goddess consists of the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone. They each stand for a different phase in a woman’s life cycle) Technically, a woman enters the Crone phase after age 50 and when she can no longer bear children. I jokingly suggested to my friend that, even though I’m not quite 50, I *might* be considered to be a Crone by some since I can’t have kids any longer.

Apparently the Universe doesn’t have a great sense of humor. I started finding kittens…tiny kittens that had been abandoned by their mother. I now have 3 new babies to care for.

This great cosmic “gift” got me thinking. I am a caretaker. I am a nurturer. I am a Mother. I mother everyone. I mother my kids (duh). I mother my family members.  I mother my friends. I mother my pets. I even mother my clients.

How did I not see this before?

All my life I’ve been the one that friends came to when they needed advice or comfort. People open up to me. Even people that I barely know tend to tell me very personal details of their lives…whether I like it or not. My friend Cory told me once that I’m approachable. Maybe that’s what it is. Maybe it’s the fact that others can sense that I am someone who cares and will take care of them if that’s what they need. I will also totally fuck you up if you mess with my family…chosen or biological.

The DailyOM (http://www.dailyom.com/articles/2004/290.html) says that the Mother, “personifies fertility, strength, and stability. She is the gentle nurturer as well as the fierce lioness.”

Venus of Willendorf. Badass prehistoric mama.

That about covers it.

I am a Mother.

Head Full of Doubt

•October 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Have you ever heard a song that made you stop what you were doing just so you could focus all of your energy on listening to every word?

“When nothing is owed or deserved or expected /And your life doesn’t change by the man that’s elected / If you’re loved by someone, you’re never rejected /Decide what to be and go be it”

Yeah. I know right. Powerful stuff.

I remember the first time I heard this song. I was in a very dark place. Technically I guess the song came out in 2009, but I didn’t hear it until early in the Spring of 2011. I had recently had surgery, and found out that I’d dodged the Big C. I had also recently attended the funeral of my good friend Holly. She was 26 years old, full of life, and loved by so many.

I was driving through the Target parking lot and when I heard the first 2 verses, I had to pull over. I immediately Googled the lyrics to find out what the song was. Once it had ended on the radio, I pulled it up on my phone so I could listen to it again. And again. I sat in my car, near tears and thought, “that’s exactly what I need to do. I need to ‘decide what to be and go be it.'”

The problem was, I didn’t know what I wanted to be. After a lot of soul searching, I think I’ve finally figured it out. That, however, isn’t the reason for this post. Actually, I’ve been interrupted so many times I’m not sure if *I* know the reason for this post.

Oh yeah, getting what you need when you need it…maybe at a time when you didn’t even know you needed it. Unexpected gifts, if you will. I’ve been receiving a lot of unexpected gifts, blessings, whatever you want to call them, lately. I prefer to see them as inspiration, encouragement and love. Lots of love.

“There was a dream and one day I could see it / Like a bird in a cage I broke in and demanded that somebody free it / And there was a kid with a head full of doubt / So I’ll scream til I die and the last of those bad thoughts are finally out”

**Head Full of Doubt, Road Full of Promise – The Avett Brothers

Family

•October 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

So…it’s been a while. Did you miss me?

Remember when I told you I was struggling with finding something to write about? Well, the piles of shoes in the kitchen haven’t gotten smaller, but they just aren’t providing the kind of inspiration Tim Gunn had implied they would.

This past weekend I attended an event that I look forward to every year. I guess attended isn’t the right word. I helped plan, organize and carry out one of the best gaming/art/fantasy conventions I’ve ever attended. Yes, I’m biased and yes, I’m *that* kind of nerd.

Every year I spend a long weekend in October surrounded by my extended family…my extended family composed of some of the most fantastic people I’ve ever met. Some of them I see all the time, some a few times a year, and some that I only see once a year at the con. They come from all different backgrounds and have various different professions. There are my long-time friends the fantasy illustrator and his lovely wife from Ohio. There’s a flirty writer and an artist that draws the most adorable cephalopods, both from Georgia. Some of them are from parts unknown (not exactly true, I’m just not sure where they live and it’s not listed on FB). There’s a wild-looking couple who look like they should live in the mountains and a tiny baker who makes delicious pizzelles.

Then there are the 3 family members that I spent the most time with. One is a good natured guy from Virginia whose art reminds me of old school D&D illustrations with a little rock and roll thrown in. One is a gregarious fellow from Pennsylvania who reminded me several times that he can’t draw to save his life, and that he loved me…because we’re family. Finally, there’s a kilt-wearing, cat-loving, swing-dancing guy from Texas who never fails to make me laugh. He also has the sexiest shoes ever, but I digress.

I’ve tried for years to explain to others, outside the family, why this particular event is so special to me. I’m not even sure my husband really understands it. Hell, maybe I don’t completely understand it. It’s hard work. I get very little sleep the whole weekend and I generally work 10 hour days without a break. Not to mention the fact that, since I’m the mom of the group, I tend to pick up the slack for others when needed.

Yet, it remains the thing I look forward to the more than anything else the entire year.

As soon as I sit down at the registration table and see my friends start pouring in, all the long hours and tedious projects are put into perspective. Throughout the weekend I feel an overwhelming sense of community. That’s something that’s been absent from my life since college.

Flashback…

For 5 years (yes 5, I just couldn’t get enough learnin’ in 4) I was heavily involved in student activities. I held office in some and just belonged to others. I was on presidential committees and was interviewed by the student paper on a regular. I was even on TV. We spoke at conferences, in classrooms, and at trainings for other colleges to educate on GLBT issues and safer sex. People knew my name, I was a part of something, and I made a difference. On top of all that, I was accepted. I belonged somewhere. I made genuine lasting connections with people. I’m still friends with many of the people that I knew from that time. They’re spread all over the country and I haven’t seen them since graduation, but we’re still connected.

After college I searched for something to replace that community. I tried getting involved with local activist groups. I tried joining clubs and leading my daughter’s Girl Scout Troop. Hell, I even tried church. Granted, it was a UU church that wasn’t particularly churchy, but still. None of them gave me the sense of belonging and acceptance that being involved with that particular group of people at that particular moment in time did.

Then 7 years ago I made the decision to support my friend with his first convention. We were only going to go for a few hours and ended up staying all weekend. Many of my friends were there, and I met a TON of other people. We played games, looked at art, drew pictures, and drank. I knew at the end of the weekend it was something that I wanted to be involved in.

…and we’re back.

Community. Acceptance. Family. Where else can you dress in costume, or a kilt, or the same clothes you’ve had on for 3 days, or your jammies and no one bats an eye? Where else can you wear a “Smeg” t-shirt and people get the joke? Where else are you told you’re pretty 3-4 times a day? Where else does it take an hour to leave because you have to give about 25 hugs?

Nowhere else.

How Do I Look?

•September 23, 2011 • 3 Comments

One of my husband’s former students recently wrote an essay about him for a different writing class. I think the assignment was something to do with learning about a subculture. My husband was this person’s first introduction to role playing games (RPGs) and conventions.

She wrote about meeting him and how he wasn’t what she was expecting from a college writing teacher. She expected “tall, old, and geeky.” What she found was this: “He looked more like a gym teacher,” “…very athletic,” “…piercing green eyes,” “the kind that look right through you,” “(his voice was) calm and soothing.”

Considering that I’ve known him for over 20 years and this isn’t remotely how I see him, or how he sees himself, we got a laugh out of her description. It got me to thinking though. I wonder how others see me.

Here is a brief description. I’m almost 40. I am 5′ 4″ tall. I am quite overweight. I have slightly shorter than shoulder length hair, light brown with a few blonde highlights. I have light blue eyes, tiny ears and wear rectangular brown glasses. I don’t wear earrings, but I have my (wideish, short) nose pierced. I have athletic looking calves, large thighs and a big butt (I cannot lie). When I’m not working, I tend to wear jeans or sweats and t-shirts (usually with nerdy/witty sayings on them).

I have friends who tell me I’m cute (maybe). My friend K tells me I’m pretty (unlikely). My friend t told me I was hot (not). Many of my nerdy guy friends tell me I’m sexy (which I don’t believe has much to do with my physical appearance).

I just don’t see it

My husband regularly suggests clothes for me that I feel would inappropriate for my body/age/style. I’ve always thought I was realistic about my body. I don’t understand when women dress in clothes that don’t fit or are entirely inappropriate for their bodies. It occurs to me that maybe I’m too harsh a judge of myself.

Well, it more than occurs to me. I know I am too critical of myself. I’m not sure why I focus so much on the negative. I don’t see beautiful eyes or sexy legs. I see uneven complexion and fat thighs. I could point out countless flaws, but would struggle to find 3 things that I like about my body/appearance.

Is this a gender issue? Do men judge their appearances as harshly as women? I hate to generalize, so please insert most in front of men and women. I don’t presume to know, but I suspect that women just tend to be more vocal about their criticisms.

How do we begin to accept our imperfections? I can tell you from personal experience that constantly trying to hide or change these flaws is exhausting. I’d much rather eat what I want (within reason) without worrying about counting calories or measuring portion sizes. I’d prefer to workout because I enjoy the physical activity, rather than trying to figure our how many calories I’ve burned (and subtract the number of calories I’ve eaten). I want to choose a haircut because it’s cute and not because it is a haircut a 40 year old should have or the fact that it covers my ears. Most of all, I want to be a good role model for my daughter so she can buy a skirt that she thinks is cute (it was) instead of choosing capris because they cover her chubby knees.

Suggestions? I need all the help I can get.

Inspiration

•September 19, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I’m currently reading Tim Gunn’s book “Gunn’s Golden Rules: Life’s Little Lessons for Making it Work.” It’s really a great book. I love the way it’s written. You can almost hear the man himself reading it aloud in your head. Did you know his father worked for J Edgar Hoover? Or that he was a total nerd and still loves Legos? Or that he once saw the Editor in Chief of Vogue carried down 5 flights of steps by her body guards just because she didn’t like elevators? Or that he was bullied as a child and his macho father wouldn’t teach him to fight so he defended himself by scratching, kicking and biting? He once was asked who would win in a fight, him or Michael Kors. He said Michael would win hands down because he’s a hair puller and Michael doesn’t have enough to grab onto.

I digress.

Anyway, in one part he talks about how students at Parson’s School of Design would come to him all the time and ask him where to find inspiration. He told them that inspiration is everywhere. He marveled at the idea that people could live in New York, the most exciting city in the country (his words) and not find inspiration.

I see his point, but I’m not sure I agree. At least when we’re talking about writing. I mean, ok, I could see being inspired to make a dress or a painting, but those are like snapshots. There’s not a definite introduction or conclusion. There’s no story development. Plus, (this goes back to an argument friends and I have about the nature of art) you could paint a black canvas with a red stripe and tell everyone that it represents the inequalities in 19th century indonesia and who could prove that it didn’t? If I write a poorly developed story, no one will give a fat mouse’s butt what inspired me to write it.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe writing is just like any other art form and I should be inspired by anything and everything around me. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I just really need to start *seeing* the things that are around me every day.

If I start writing about dirty dishes and shoes piling up in my kitchen…blame Tim Gunn.