Monday, December 10, 2012

My Little Sister

My little sister is becoming a man.

I'm mostly excited, actually.  I feel like she's grown increasingly miserable over the past five years.  He.  He has grown increasingly miserable over the past five years.

For awhile every single solitary thing would set him off  - the tiniest little comments, the most harmless of jibes.  Things as simple as, "You would think those cookies would be sweeter" would unleash a tirade, and for the past year or so I would just avoid speaking to her.  Him.  Not completely, of course we talked when we were together, when we were at our parents, we Skyped when she spent the summer in Kenya.  When he spent the summer in Kenya.

We do not talk about things in my family.  We silently suffer.  My sisters - my siblings - and I have always been close in a different way.  We were never confidantes. In fact, the thought of me having an actual confidante in life is frightening. We've been honest with each other, honest always, but open?  That's different.

We do not ask prying questions in my family, we just wait until someone is ready to talk about things themselves.  The problem with that though is the fact that then for five years you have to be careful what you say, you have to avoid a topic or creep around it, there's constant subject-changing and constant stress because you don't know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, and should you hint that you think your sister wants to be a man or should you just be as loving and supportive as you can until she (HE) is ready to tell you himself?

I chose option B.

And now I'm pissed.  Why the fuck did she wait so long to tell us?  She's 25, I feel like I've known this since she was four.

She sent my family a detailed email on Sunday, telling us about how she reached her decision.  Now, I understand wanting to do things that way.  She (FUCK) He was able to say everything that way, go into detail, leave nothing out.  He's not planning on getting surgery, he's been taking hormones for months and going to counseling for years, and he was thorough and honest and told me on SUNDAY.

I sent a reply.  "It's about fucking time.  I'm so proud of you." I kind of regret not mentioning that I love her, that I support her, that this is strange and scary and exciting, but I didn't.  I want to tell her that in person. 

I'm glad I was at my parents' house when they got the email, because my mom fucking lost it.

Mom wasn't upset about having a trangender child - she was upset that he never confided in her about it, that her baby did all of this alone and never once asked for help.  She wanted to know how my sister was paying for the hormones and the therapy, she wanted to know why my sister never trusted us enough to tell us.

And then I almost laughed at her, because my mom doesn't confide in anyone about anything, but I just looked at her and said, "Seriously?  Would YOU tell us?"

"I know," she said.  "I know it's my fault.  You girls never talk to me about anything."

I hugged her.  "It's not your fault.  I tell you almost everything."

"Not everything," she sniffed.  "Not everything.  What are you keeping from me?  Are you okay?  Are you safe?  Do you have secret children?"  For some reason my mom thinks I have like a list of all the abortions I get hidden in a diary somewhere.  

"No, I do not have any secret children, and I never have."  Although I have had a pregnancy scare, I think.  Which means she's right.  I do not tell her everything.

My heart broke hundreds of times in that ten seconds.  I haven't talked to my mom about sex or dating or anything related to sex or dating since I found out what sex was.

And I wanted to say, Just ask me.  What do you want to know?  Do you want to know that I was a virgin for longer than all of my friends by a few years?  Do you want to know that I'm terrified of being naked in front of a man, but I want to be naked in front of them, and still I do not know how to reconcile the two without shame because so few men have ever even suggested they want to see me naked at all? Does she know that I say things like, "we need to value women as people and not as holes for fucking" only because I still don't see any worth in myself because men see me as a person and not a hole for fucking?  How fucked up is that - men don't objectify me so I objectify myself, and I wonder why I've never experienced this thing that apparently all other women have experienced and I feel totally left out of the loop. but it's probably because I am unaware and unreceptive and completely naive.   

So whatever, back to the story, I hugged her and didn't say any of that, because that is not her fault.  It's mine. 

My dad started crying too.  One of the the first thing he said was, "She's taking my name as her middle name.  That's just so...cute."

And then he was pissed she didn't ask them to help her pay for these things, because she shouldn't be worried about money when she was paying for grad school WHILE was going through something so emotionally draining.

So now I am incredibly proud of these three people:  my sister, who will be my brother, and both of my parents, who I think are responding to this entire thing with so much love and support, and although they're nervous and worried that her life has just gotten harder, they aren't angry with her decision to change.  They're angry that she did it alone.  God, I love them for that.


Whatever, so I still have this terrible guilt thing inside me that is progressive in its own right but not in others, and I need to talk about it somewhere:

Man, do I really get bummed when rad women come out as gay or transgender.  In the back of my head all I can think of is, "Goddammit, there goes another one."  And then I yell at myself and think, "WE ARE NOT ON DIFFERENT SIDES, RASS."  And the next thought is always something along the lines of, "does my insecurity with guys [Ed. note: call them men, they are not guys, you are in your 30s] stem from a secret gayness?"  But in my heart I know that's not true since the insecurity stems from being called ugly and fat by my peers.  And the next thought is laughter, because OMG SUPER NO, bitches be crazy, and then I feel guilty again, and say something to myself like, "you should keep an open mind because maybe some woman will sweep you off your feet" and then I say to myself, "no, unless she was a definitely man and had a penis" and then I'm like "HOLY SHIT MY LITTLE SISTER IS BECOMING A MAN." 

You guys. I mean, "you ladies." My little sister is becoming a man.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Out There on my Own

Sometimes I wonder who I am, where I've been, do I fit in?  No, not really.

Here is what I really wonder.

Why, no matter how busy I am, do I insist upon cutting out the box tops for school.  I remember a time when my world had literally collapsed, all was lost. I had trouble finding a reason to live and yet I could not physically throw away that cereal box without snipping the box top. Was it a desperate attempt to hold on to normalcy or was it a matter of sanity?

Why do I love marching bands and bagpipes? If I see a marching band with bagpipes I will cry.  The same holds true for fireworks if the Lee Greenwood song, "Proud to be an American" is played.

How can I hate politicians and politics so much that I refuse to watch, participate or expose myself to news, other than that which I carefully screen through my rose colored glasses while I clearly feel unsettled enough to lose sleep at night?

Why do I test the limits of health and well being? I mean, for God's sake, what is this wreckless behavior all about? Mom used to say I was well adept at cutting off my nose to spite my face. But what if my face was happy to be rid of my nose? Sometimes you have to lose by a nose, right?

Why have I spent the last year and a half not the slightest bit interested in having a mate, counterpart, companion, lover or whatever the hell else one might normally desire in their life?  Is there something wrong with me, this need to be on my own? There have been times when I thought about my grandmother who lost her husband at a young age and never married or once even dated to the day she died at the age of 93. I adored her.  Did I admire her too much?  Did I receive her gutsy determination or did I inherit her thankfullness to be free?  Was she free or was she lonely? Did she choose to be single or was the choice made for her?  She raised three kids on her own but was she successful or sorry in the end?

Sometimes I wonder who I am, where I've been, do I fit in - but those thoughts are most often replaced by a fierce need to get through each day raising my three kids on my own; finding a way to make them feel my love beyond words, working hard to pay our bills and struggling, at times, to find a reason to wake up and cut another box top.

Am I missing the bigger picture here?

After all, what about God?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Male Brain--or Lack Thereof

Yesterday was Halloween. We hardly ever get any trick or treaters, but John had bought a couple of bags of candy just in case. That was great--saved me a trip to the store.
He got home before me and already had the candy by the front door. But instead of reaching on top of the refrigerator for a woven basket, he gets into the lower cabinet and roots around for something different.
He comes out with an expensive hand-painted platter that was a wedding present. It was completely unsuitable--shallow and breakable.
But I didn't say anything.
I told him last night to take the candy to his office--it won't last 5 minutes there. This morning I came downstairs after he left. The candy was gone. And so was the platter.
Instead of dumping it all in a plastic grocery sack which would be easy to carry, he has to maeunever steps and car seats with a shallow platter.
What part of that makes sense? What is it about really smart guys that makes them go stupid sometimes?
A co-worker just told me about the time her husband cooked fresh broccoli. He cut off the florets and tossed them. She came home to find him COOKING THE STEMS.
My husband has two engineering degrees--and maybe that's the problem. Instead of taking the easy, practical way out, he opts for something much more difficult.
But I can't worry about that now. I just want my platter back.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Word Pie

Being a real, live person is so unnatural.  The automatic instincts we have are apparently wrong, so we must adjust our behavior to give the appearance of normalcy.  There are all these rules and they're stupid, because rules are the only thing that separates us from the animals. 

I mean, offering comfort is a natural inclination, but obsessing over the ramifications of your method of comfort is just fucking insanity.

I'm not saying YOU are insane, I'm saying that HUMANS are.

(Dear Ruby, that is the end of my initial reaction to your blog.  Thank you for keeping me going)

But we are taught that there are rules on how to do these things.  Always with temperance. We cannot just go around having feelings about things, because we have to think about how having feelings affects everyone. 

I cannot eat when I am hungry, I must wait until the time when the sun hits a certain point in the sky because that's when the king was hungry 2000 years ago.

I cannot speak the way I think because it is too loud, fast, and intense.  Escalating conversations, apparently, mean you're angry, stubborn, and a big fat wit one-upper, when in reality I'm trying to find someone who can play.  Then again, I've never been accused of being a one-upper...I'm just always afraid I'll come across that way, when what I really want to do is have a word battle.  No, not a battle...a word farm, where we plant and grow and harvest and bake delicious word pies.  Together.   Blogs are like word pies.

I cannot be skeptical when I receive compliments, and must accept them graciously because I'm supposed to.  But instinctively, compliments from strangers and acquaintances (if I trust you already, I will be happy and affable as fuck) make me suspicious and unravel any thoughts of trust, because in MY experience people only use compliments for manipulative purposes instead of genuine appreciation. 

I cannot get angry at someone for calling me a 'fat cunt' (this is a new phenomenon for me.  Before people thought I was feisty, or a spitfire or something. But sure, you gain weight and your clothes don't fit right and the game fucking changes.  It is unforgivable to be heavier than your peers and also outspoken.  As long as you're within someone's acceptable body range, they find you clever) I am supposed to ignore it because society frowns upon anger, when everything in my gut tells me to attack, diminish, destroy.  And then everyone's all, "Calm down, that guy's just a douchebag" and I'm all "yeah, and if no one ever does anything about it he's going to stay that way." But if you do that you are crazy.  And then everyone wants to know why you're crazy.  MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE YOU ARE FORCING ME TO SUPPRESS THINGS, SOCIETY.  EH?  YOU EVER THINK ABOUT THAT?  YOU EVER THINK THAT SOMEDAY I AM GOING TO WAR ON MYSELF BECAUSE MY NATURAL INCLINATIONS ARE INHUMANE?  Some people have the instinct to run, and I have the instinct to stupidly, ridiculously, stubbornly fight to the death. 

Fucking philosophy.  Philosophy is such bullshit.  All it does is lead to more rules that don't make any fucking sense.

It is natural for us to disagree and conflict with each other, why can't people see that?  Why can't they see that shiny happy people living in harmony is DISCORDANT WITH NATURE?  Sure, there are interconnecting patterns and if you slice a seashell in half it's made out of math, whatever, I get it, but polarizing forces are how things are shaped, it's how things grow, and the more people try to stop them out the more polarizing the outskirts become and the fucking crazier we all look, those of us on the emotional fringe.

The trick is to celebrate the differences and use them instead of getting angry about them.  Okay.  I will work on this.


Monday, September 12, 2011

So Fucking Tired

I am so tired of being a grownup.

I am tired of going to a therapist every week and working on my shit while my mother gets to smugly sit in her chair watching tv content in her truth that she has it all figured out. I'm tired of setting boundaries with her to keep me from absorbing her stuff. I amtired of working so hard to make sure the boundaries are firm but not vindictive, healthy but solid. I'm tired of being told by her that no one likes their mothers and let the past be the past. I know lots of people who like their mothers and the past isn't some vague, hazy time for me since I wasn't bombed out of my mind most of the time. My past is concrete and real and full of images I can still conjure like they are right in front of my face, things that still scare me as much as when I was a child. My past affects how I relate to people NOW, how I handle anxiety and uncertainty NOW, how I feel about myself when I make a mistake NOW, how I have to work so hard on believing I am worthy of the love my husband, children and friends give me NOW. I am tired of the hundreds of wrong messages that have been sowed in my head that I have to go through, one by one and yank and pull and fight until I can pull them out and plant new ones. Then I have to nurture those new ones and do the work so that they'll grow, that I'll believe them and that the weeds won't get a foothold. It is exhausting.

I am tired of giving my eleven year old pep talks and incentive charts and points and pats on the back to do what he should have figured out already. I am tired of my husband and I going back and forth trying to figure out how to help him figure himself out. I am tired my son fighting me on every single fucking thing, every fucking time. Yes, he figures it out eventually, but by the time he does, I am so fucking tired and not completely sure I still like him. I am tired of telling him the same thing, over and over again. I am worn out on worry, that we won't give him the strength and tools to handle and enjoy his adult life. I am tired of looking at it and trying to find the lesson and trying to conjure up the patience and affection I know he needs.

I am tired of being grownup and having to do grownup things like schedule my cat's euthanasia. I am tired of holding my kids while they cry over this cat that was so old they hardly saw him but nonentheless, they feel his absense and the weight of my choice to end his life and they feel a sliver of their own mortality. I'm tired of holding my seven year old as she sobs and crys out, "I don't want him to die mom" over and over again and I rack my brain for the right thing to say so she knows I hear her, that she feels supported and safe and that she can process her feelings when all I want to do is keen right along with her. I'm tired of making sure they see me cry, so they know it's natural and good to cry, for a cat, for anything but I'm tired of making sure I don't cry too much that it scares them or that they realize I am still grieving the loss of the mother I never had and some days it all gets wrapped together and I feel like I am drowning in the muck of sorrow and the weight of having to pull myself from it.

I am tired of having to explain to my angry mother in law why our kids can't come over anymore without us there while her brother continues to basically squat in her house. I am tired of explaining why we don't think it's good for our kids to be around someone who collects social security, sits in a room and gambles online all day and allows my children to watch. I am tired of trying to convince my son that gambling is not a job and that his uncle has spent more time sleeping under an underpass than being comped hotel rooms in Vegas. I am tired of trying to explain his uncle's behavior without completely throwing him under the bus. I am tired of all the fucking teachable moments asshole. I am tired of worrying about the kids over there because he's telling off color "jokes" to my seven year old daughter. I am tired of worrying about the kids being there because of the hundred different ways that he is proven that he is at worst, grooming my daughter to molest her and at best, completely unaware of how to appropriately behave around children. I am tired of defending my and my husband's concern. I am tired of her trying to substitute her judgement for our own. I am tired of her waving away our concern. I am tired of being the fucking heavy when it was her that brought her broken brother into the house becuase she is codependant and needs someone to take care of.

I am tired of being a grownup but I am a grownup and I know it will get better, because so much of it already has.

Friday, July 29, 2011


Here's a question--how do you get rid of grudges? How do you let go of the nagging voice in your head recalling all the bad things "they" have ever said?

Have you ever rid yourself of a toxic person?

Tell me how.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tina Fey - Change of Life Baby

Today, on this very day, I had the rare opportunity to be without children under the age of 25 so I decided to read a book, carefully selected as a last minute impulse buy at Sam's Club.  Can you still technically call it an impulse buy when you've wanted to read it since the day it was released? I am a huge fan of Ms. Fey on so many levels, it's like one of those old fashioned high rise department stores where each area is on a different floor.

First Floor - Feminist issues relating to women in the workplace, working mom's, i.e., guilt. Or breastfeeding vs. formula, i.e., guilt squared.  Which sounds an awful lot like quilt squared but in this case it is important to note the difference.

Second Floor - Normal girl raised with real world values becomes success. She had a kick ass dad she obviously adored but with a healthy dose of fear.  I didn't have that.  My dad was kick ass with an unhealthy dose of fear and an addiction or two to back up the crazy ass shit he did.  Nonetheless, I am trying to act like a girl raised with real world values who becomes a success.

Third Floor - Brilliant writer - enough said. I originally wrote "nough said", but that didn't sound like something Tina would write so I edited it or dare I say Feydited it.  Being a brilliant writer is all I ever wanted to be, or as Oprah puts it, my "ultimate truth".

Fourth Floor - Wife, mother, honest and real. Tough shit - the doubt; always and forever - it simply does not die.  Am I doing the right thing or do I need to save for therapy instead of college?

Fifth Floor - Aging. I am just a skosh older than Tina.  With all honesty, maybe it's more like a tad older.  But I am certainly in the ballpark, sitting right behind home plate. Her references to having a baby at 40, formerly known as "a change of life baby" resonated with me.  I clearly remember my mom and dad talking about the next door neighbors who had a "change of life" baby.  Born 10 years after the elder two, they scoffed at the very idea of it.  I distinctly remember thinking this was a change of life for the worse, which was implied by the mere tone in which it was delivered.  I had the unexpected pleasure of recently connecting with the elder cheerleader daughter via Facebook.  She who had so patiently and graciously tried to unsuccessfully mentor me into cheerleading. To make it perfectly clear, her lack of success had nothing to do with her skills as a cheerleader or as a mentor but more in part because those fucking tryouts were rigged and Deanna Jimboy got in just because she had cool older brothers who were sleeping with the judges and fucking Brenda Gizzi could do back hand spring like her hands were literally HAND SPRINGS.  I was clearly out of my league.

Sixth Floor - Men.  She invades and conquers the planet, Testosterune.  She blazes a path through the world of comedy with a quirky, unconventional style that allowes her to sneak under their highly evolved border patrol, electronic fences, battery of TV remotes and fart gas.  She emerges out of it alive, and fully functioning with actual reconnaissance of how they pee in cups and jars because they are too lazy to walk to the men's room. Early in my career, I recall asking some of the more 'seasoned' women in my office why the men disappear for 45 minutes to an hour each day with a newspaper tucked beneath their arms.  I later dared to go into a men's room in my building, after hours, for proof. Color me repulsed when I discovered they actually had reading bins in there where they would place their used, if not slightly soiled Wall Street Journal or The Daily Oklahoman for example.

I don't need to travel up any further in this particular department store for I've been sold.  I came away knowing I'm not the only woman who dared to have a baby after the age of forty (going a step above, I had twins).  I'm not the only woman to scratch and claw my way through a man's world yet as hard as I've fought, she still found a way to teach me a lesson.  I am all riled up to the point of facing her Sesame Street challenge.  Do I figure out a way to go over, under or through these obstacles placed in front of me?

She pierced through my shroud of guilt for not being able to successfully breastfeed after so much effort, expectation and did I mention effort?  She made it okay for me to dismiss those that shamed me for not trying harder.  All I have to do is think of her aptly named Bret Michael's move (read the book) to know I did everything I could possibly do and then some.

Finally, she left me feeling as if "everything would be fine", no matter what happens with the rest of my life.  Which made me remember that all the cheerleaders who were selected in the 7th grade ended up pregnant by Senior year.  Not that I'm judging, God forbid, because my life hasn't exactly been by the rule book, the good book or otherwise but I just wanted to point that out, you know, how happy I am about Brenda's springy hands and Deanna's sexy as hell brothers.

As this is a website dedicated to the female gender's words, read the damn book.  If not for any other reason than to arm yourself with the perennial, "I don't care if you like it" philosophy. It's called Bossypants.  Don't let the cover put you off.

And you, Tina Fey, Greek Goddess of Baby Poop, conveyor of classically, funny shit shall live with or without a great deal of anxiety.  Tina, I loved you, even before I knew you existed. Rock on, you pear-shaped, overrated troll, for the rest of us apple-shaped overrated ogres will follow you knowing our journey will be made easier as ogres are not required to think of clever riddles.

My childhood neighbor's change of life baby went on to become a successful doctor, noted for changing the lives of countless patients. I suspect Tina Fey will be resonating with me in the weeks and months to come as I strive to be a brilliant writer and a guilt-free mom.  Whether I have to go under, over or through, I wonder....which one of these things is not like the other, which one of these things just doesn't belong. And that is the essence of the book.

They both do.