Pure As the Driven Slush: Heather Corinna's Journal and Diary, Online since 1999

Archive for the 'apropos of nothing' Category

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

I’ve realized lately that by virtue of being such an early adopter of the internet and having done so right at the gate as a publisher and very visible writer and activist, I seriously missed out on one of the perks a lot of people seem to get to take advantage of.

In short, there are often times when I would really, really like to NOT have to engage in discussions or make criticisms with depth and thoughtfulness and care.  I’d like not to have to worry about what someone is going to feel/say/report that “Heather Corinna” said.  I’d like to be stealthy, and not feel any kind of social responsibility not to hide behind anonymity nor any to be a decent person and a Buddhist who isn’t fucking around about it. I’d love not to have to reread what I wrote even once, let alone several times.

In a word, there’s a post I keep wanting to leave online on at least one article or blog somewhere a day, and it is, simply, something like this:

This thing you said/wrote is seriously stupid, and I think you’re an asshole who is mean and also shitty.

Yep, that’d do it.  No careful analysis, no diplomacy, no “we’re on the same team so let’s work together,” or even “we’re not on the same team, but I know you’re a good person, right?”

Just that.  Without my name, without having to say anything else or engage in any way, without any kind of responsibility.  Just that lazy, drive-by not-at-all-thoughtful letting go that I know happens all the time because I get emails and posts kind of similar to that every day.  They’re more like, “That’s stupid and you’re stupid (or pretentious or arrogant or a dyke or a girl, the most offensive thing anyone can be, in case you were unaware), which I have to say because you’re not being mean or an asshole, even though that’s not stopping me from being both of those things,” but still.  Same gist.  Same words that elicit what I strongly suspect is a very, very satisfying — albeit pithy — feeling somewhat akin to a decent bowel movement of some kind.

One might knock that and call it small, but probably not one who feels chronically constipated, be that literal or symbolic.  I, too, want the online version of metamucil.  I am hoping having said it here just might suffice.

(It won’t, but it seemed worth a shot. And yes, most of what I just said was stupid, I’m being a bit of an asshole, and I literally even talked shit. But at least I’m not being mean.)

Thursday, August 5th, 2010

The last few days, work-wise have been so much less than pleasant.  And some shit has been going on that could very well become a shitstorm I get smacked in the face with, something I’m used to, but continue to find profoundly unenjoyable.

But I had a wonderful, lovely day on all counts today.  On the way home, I made a promise to myself that should any kind of shit fly, or even just anything mildly unpleasant occur tonight or in the next few days, I would let this day stay wonderful, and pull its wonderful through to at least the next few.

I also made a promise I’d come home, put on comfy clothes, pour a glass of wine, look into the forest, turn on the computer (NO email or internet checking yet) and write this day this down:

Waking up at 4:15 today wasn’t fun, but responding to a morning “I love you,” with a half-asleep response of “Love is a Battlefield,” resulted in several hilarious and uninvited humming episodes for both Blue and myself a few times today.

The sun rose pink and purple-gold over the harbor, while we drove to the ferry. The always cozy experience of ferry-riding first thing of a morning.

Discovering the bliss that is a mocha at Stumptown coffee on Capitol Hill, doubled with a surprise Mighty-O donut appearance. Checking some crappy email and doing some online work during was not as blecky as it would have been otherwise. Reading loving gratitude made it all better.

Consulting for a patient at one of the clinics I do education for who really appreciated it. Having awesome, inspiring, political conversation about reproductive health dreams and ideals with the fantastic clinic manager.

Eating a wonderful middle-eastern lunch, but that’s not all.  Tasty lunch goodness with one of my favorite friends from my whole life where we lost touch and then couldn’t find each other for over a decade, just recently discovering we were BOTH here, not in Chicago. And having lunch not only be tasted, but gleefully shrieking and hugging and everything good there is about the best kind of reunions.

I met someone on the walk to the shelter in front of a dispensary who was short on money for methadone, and also painfully overdisclosing to me to ask for a whole five bucks.  Sharing a moment when I made clear I did not have to be sold on helping, nor should anyone else who had five dollars and watching an instant burden-lifted, the kind of exchange that tends to drive most of what I value most in living.

I had a great bunch of teens today at the shelter who were awesome to do ed with and for.  After the talk, one of the teens asked to talk to me privately, and I got to have the first relaxed, normalized, non-emotional and them-specific talk about their body that intersex youth seems to have ever gotten the chance to have until today.

Coming home on the ferry on a beautiful day, sipping honeydew green tea and nibbling on licorice, sun and wind and water abound.

Arriving home to pick up the phone, and have my newly-reconnected friend tell me she was just calling me to gab, because she finally could again.

Putting on comfy clothes, pouring a glass of wine, looking into the forest and writing this own.

Whatever else may come, be it the benign and typical daily frustrations, or the semi-occasional round of giant, steaming bullshit that gets left on my porch, today was a very good day.

Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

While so much of my work involves my giving other people advice, I’m writing today to ask all of you for some for myself.

While the answers and working it out are obviously going to be complex, the question itself is pretty simple.  How do any of you both accept and express your limits to others, especially people you don’t know?

I’m not talking about sexually, but in the rest of life.  Over the last year, and certainly the last few months, it’s become clearer and clearer to me that I’m not very good at this.  I’m actually great at it sexually or when it comes to my close personal relationships.  But when it comes to work-stuff, and to people who I don’t know very well (including people who may feel they know me, but who I don’t feel I know)?  I kind of suck at it. Okay, so I really suck at it.
I am aware that one of the big hurdles is that I have done and do so much that I know that can give the impression I’m either superhuman, or just always capable of doing a million things at once.  I also know that a lot of people don’t realize — how could they, really — how many people at a given time will usually be asking/wanting things of me at any given time.  To boot, when it’s about work, I find it really hard to figure out who to be professional yet still state limits that usually have something to do with having too much work on my plate, but also have to do with my health and the limitations it can impose, which is very personal.  Same goes for the financial limitations I have, also personal.  I mean, “I’m sick, broke and stretched to my limit,” is just not a very professional answer, even though that’s often the truth of things.

For example, right now, the hard truth is that unless I’m being compensated very well for anything work-wise, I really, really should say no.  Same goes for my needing to do anything work-wise which requires a lot of time and energy for any kind of setup or prep, other than things in which I can just bring my existing skills and resources to the table.  Between now and a few weeks after the upcoming move, I just need to not take ANYTHING extra on at all, because if I do, I just don’t know how it will get done in the midst of everything else.  Ideally, I’d be able to go a month before even answering any email, because the backlog is so great, and I feel so overwhelmed by how many folks want or need something from me.

Lastly, I’ve little doubt that consciously and unconsciously, my own dislike of some of my many limits probably comes across in some of these exchanges, which I’m sure doesn’t help. Any tone from me that sounds apologetic about my limits…well, I guess I feel like it only seems to make things worse.  Too often lately, I find myself just not responding to a lot of people sometimes, too, because a) even taking the time to respond to everyone takes up a lot of time and energy I don’t have, b) it makes me feel crappy to have to constantly explain that I can’t do everything, and c) a lot of people seem to take it really personally, a response I’m also really bad at dealing with, and tend to easily feel guilty about.

So, are you awesome at this?  What works for you in doing this?  If you sucked at it in the past, what was your process like in getting better at it?  If you could just gab at me about it, I’d be so grateful.  Thanks!

Friday, March 5th, 2010

It’s possible I may be stating the obvious here, or saying something someone else has posited before without realizing, but something struck me last night, in the midst of insomnia, I wanted to put out there.  In the case you have read someone else saying the kinds of things I am, please leave me a reference in the comments.  I’d love to read someone writing more in depth about this.

So, you may have seen that I’ve started a large sex study about multigenerational experiences with and attitudes about casual sex.  (If you haven’t, and/or you haven’t taken it, I’d be so grateful if you did, by the way.  Same with getting the word out.  The link explains more of what I’m doing with it.) It’s gotten a lot of responses so far and also some feedback.

Someone tweeted that they were delighted with how I handled sex and gender on the study, and many people commented in the study that it was refreshing, and not what they’re used to with studies, to have so many options with sex and gender. Then, late last night, someone else tweeted that they didn’t understand why anyone was so impressed, because as well as including male, female and transgender, I included trans female and trans male as options.

I was already aware of the issues with “trans male” and “trans female” as identifiers, and understand that, particularly when used by a cis-person, they suggest that someone who ID’s as female but is not female-bodied is not “really” female or “truly” female.  At the same time, I included them because despite that, I still know people who prefer and use those identifiers for themselves.  For the record, even in leaving an open field for gender so people can self-ID however they want, I have a handful of people who picked trans female or trans male as their own IDs, more than chose transgender, and more than chose to ID as one sex at birth, then as male or female with their gender.  So, whatever anyone may think about those terms, some people are clearly still using them to identify themselves by choice.

Certainly, people outside marginalized/oppressed populations often voice an annoyance with the ever-changing language which tends to be common in these groups, whether it’s about the spelling of women, what indigenous people call themselves, or how gendervariant people identify. For instance, none of us in North America have likely been spared someone’s whiny vitriol about how those uppity indians keep trying to force everyone to be PC by asking us to call them anything but indians.  If you are or have ever been a member of a marginalized group yourself, I don’t need to tell you that within these groups, there is often great frustration about language changes and keeping up with them, some general eyerolling from some members, as well as a lot of infighting about proper language.

So, here’s what I’m thinking about ever-shifting language on the margins. The dominant groups, the ones in power, have had a LONG time to have the freedom to firmly establish their identities, with the privilege of not having their identities or language challenged by anyone most of the time who had any power to enforce those challenges: there is a level of flux in language and identity they do not have. Anyone who has tried to question or change dominant language in any way knows this all too well.

On the flip side, there is a necessary inflexibility in their language around identity and in identity overall if they are to firmly sustain their position of power-over: if they change their language, they change their identity, and thus, potentially their level of power and privilege and their stronghold on either.  If a man wants as much male privilege as possible, for example, he’s got to call himself a man, especially within that group.  Calling himself anything even remotely outside that can make his privilege more tenuous, less solid, may put it in question and put him at risk of not being considered a full member — or a member at all — of that group.

It’s really hard sometimes to be patient with ever-shifting language, especially when you want to get it right and be respectful of everyone, to fully acknowledge everyone, but are trying to get it right by everyone, which is always impossible in some contexts as everyone isn’t in agreement in any given group,  or even just when you want to freaking get things done rather than argue about language.  It’s also sometimes tough if you find an identity you like within a marginalized group, one that feels true to you, and are later told it’s unacceptable or out of vogue (I think of how many old-school feminists I know, for example, who still prefer “wimmin” as an identifier but who are going to have to take endless shit from everyone, including other women and other feminists, if they use it).

However, I think it’s a little easier to be patient about it thinking of it in these ways. We’re carving out identities more slowly, are still more in process, because we have only had so much time and freedom to do so, especially without our identities being adjunct to the identities of, or controlled by, the dominant groups. We are still in process, and there’s really no way around or shortcut in that process, especially in groups that have been oppressed and marginalized the longest and/or the most.

At the same time, we also have a freedom in that which those in — or who want to or feel they must align themselves with — dominant groups do not have.  As someone low-income all my life, I’ll often talk with people about how while being poor mostly blows (especially the poorer you are: I may be without a lot now, but I have most definitely been way worse off than I am at the present time), some aspects of being low-income provide some semblance of freedom I appreciate.  I have little to lose, for instance, and am not beholden to certain things people of means are. For example, I have had people say that even if I can’t find a healthcare plan to give me actual preventative care, I should really get catastrophic coverage somehow in the case I get hit by a truck.  However, as someone with no credit cards, no car, no house, the fact is that all that’d be is one more expense, and one that really only makes sense for people of a higher economic class than me. If I had to file for bankruptcy because of a ginormous hospital bill, I’d likely lose little to nothing because I have little to nothing to lose.  Weird as it can seem, there is a freedom in that, and I’m grateful for freedoms like that, particularly given all the downsides and ways that I’m stuck.

The same can go here with identities and language: there is a freedom in having flexibility around our language and identities, of being in flux, that I think often goes unacknowledged and unrecognized, especially when we’re tearing our hair out and driving each other up a tree about language.  The fact that any of us in marginalized groups are able to try on certain words and identities and adjust them as we go is no small deal.  It can allow us/others an authenticity and diversity that those who have privilege/power, especially those trying to make very sure they hold unto it, don’t have (or, more to the point, choose not to have, or feel they have too much to lose to have ) the freedom of having.

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

I recognize that I sometimes have profound performance anxiety in doing my work.

Which is particularly ironic when my work is about someone else’s performance anxiety in the first place.

Thursday, January 14th, 2010

So, here I be, trying out of of my resolutions and applying it to the journal.  Don’t need to have huge things to say: just need to show up and say them.

There are some things that get said or asked at Scarleteen sometimes that really freaking break my heart.

• Teen women asking how they can “make their vaginas tighter.”

• The same said group often asking how they can make their labia smaller and remove all the hair from their vulvas without any kind of redness or bumps.  (Catch a theme here?  IOW, who are all these things for, exactly?)

• Worry that because someone you slept with didn’t orgasm once or twice,  you must be tremendously unattractive and unsexy.

• In that same vein, focus on sex as product, not process.  Especially when it’s so new and the process should be the stuff of awesome!  Ack!

• Getting so caught up in trying to figure out how one identifies orientation-wise that it winds up being a thing of thinking, and stressed-out thinking, at that, rather than a thing of feeling and intuiting. Or just grooving on whatever feelings one has when one has them.

• Winding up with a major birth control or sexual health error or problem because Mom decided to give you her oh-so-great advice that a) was learned 25 years ago and b) wasn’t correct then.

• Mom or Dad refusing to believe that a young person wants a GYN visit well before sex (often just to ask questions about their bodies, get BC info in advance) and refusing them a visit because they’re sure they really are having sex when they’re not. Of course, the truly craptastic part is that if they really think they ARE and think it’s a good idea to have them be sexually active without healthcare.
• This is one of the absolute worst: when we get one of these teens who has more than their fair share of partners, but isn’t safe with any of them, often out of crap self-esteem. You talk up and down about safer sex, they blow you off or tell what you know are fibs about getting tested once a month. Then they start asking about this friend or that one with sores someplace, and it’s like looking into a crystal ball of an STI wave that’s likely about to hit all of this user’s circle, and them, any minute now.

• The rape and abuse survivors who were raped and abused by partners and either a) won’t leave them because denial is easier or b) make endless excuses for them now KNOWING it wasn’t okay to call names/hit/rape because denial is easier.

• The late bloomers who are just so convinced they will never, ever have a sexual life.

• The young women who report really blarghy an unsatisfying sex lives with partners earnestly trying to figure out what will make things better, but who refuse to masturbate or touch their bodies in any way with a partner.

• Okay, so, the young women who don’t masturbate and who are deeply upset about never reaching orgasm, period.

• Young men convinced that it isn’t that intercourse alone doesn’t usually result in orgasm for women,  but that their penises are just too small.

• Young men who were SO in love going through breakups.  This is one of my top heartbreaks.  The girls in that space are painful enough, but they at least feel free to call up friends and sob to their heart’s content. The boys so often just go it alone and tough it out while their very tender hearts are shattered into teeny, tiny pieces.  It KILLS me.

• And on that note, the boys who could be great same-age partners to girls their age who are dating these total idiots in their twenties who treat them like absolute garbage, but are “so much more mature.” (Ten bucks says they’d feel very differently if they had ever been treated to listening to the way guys that age talk about teenage girls when they a) think no one is listening or b) think it’s a fun way to try and lord over older women.)
• And the fact that I cannot deliver a kick to the shins of the aforementioned too-old-for-them-idiot-men through my computer screen.

• Reproductive healthcare providers or general physicians who scare young women off of long-term methods they feel strongly would be best for them because those docs either have biases or haven’t updated their education. Do they really feel okay about this after these patients wind up accidentally pregnant because they — as they told these docs — spaced their pills out all the time?

• Young people who don’t talk to us because we have extra information others don’t, or because we’re someone additional to talk to about sexuality, relationships or sexual health, but who talk to us because they simply don’t have anyone else to talk to at all.

• Girls hating on other girls so much that they don’t have a single friendship, and have only sexual relationships with guys which they try to have fit the friendship bill, and which never do.

• People so attached to gender norms and binaries — their own or someone else’s –  that they totally reject what would be really great relationships, experiences or self-acceptance.

• Young people who take the stupid shit bitter or unhappy older people tell them to heart.

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

I just needed to remind myself that, per the terms of my one grant, I am really only expected to work around 30 hours each week at Scarleteen.

And that when I literally never go a single day without at least doing a couple hours of work on it, even if I only worked four hours on it every day I’d be at about that level.

But that what I, in fact, am logging when I usually not only never do less than a minimum of those four hours, but tend to do more like a few nine hour days, a couple six hour days, and a couple four hour days, is seriously surpassing those hours. I’m nearly doubling them.  Factor that into all the hours I work on other things and even if you don’t consider everything else I have going on, it’s easy to identify the why of my creeping burnout.

So, on top of my promise to myself about time off in October, I’m also promising myself that I’m going to start logging my hours and set those 30 hours as a goal. Our donations this year overall have been incredibly miniscule, so it’s pretty easy for me to logically justify why it only makes sense for me to dial back my hours. If I’m not getting paid for more, and the site can do fine (which it can) without my doing more, doing more starts to look a lot like masochism rather than devotion.

I say all of this because after doing a few hours of work on the site, it occurred to me that what I wanted to do today instead was do some housekeeping, edit some more photos, write a little here, take a long shower and go to the Storm playoff game without working until the very last minute.  It also occurred to me that having to struggle with myself about that is mighty silly when I haven’t taken a day off from any work in days. While I logged a lot of hours doing photoediting last week, a lot of it was about work; about prepping sets for the site.  Thus, work.  Had to remind myself of that, too.

Mark has set his moving day as the 19th.  It’s a mixed bag, my feelings about that.  Many are sad and not at all comfortable, but overall, I know it’s what needs to happen here for both of us as well as for the sake of our friendship.  And when I get past the sad, and don’t guilt-trip myself about the feelings I have that aren’t sad, one thing I’m really looking forward to is a few weeks of being able to have the place here to myself before Blue gets here.  I’ve been a bit of a social hermit lately, and I’ll probably keep that up, because frankly, I want and need the time to myself.  I’m really relishing the notion of being able to have a lot of time and space to regroup, but also the opportunity to kind of regroup the house, as well.

While as I said, I’m always reticent to talk too much about an ex-partners side of a relationship changing or ending, I don’t have a problem talking about my own. I think I’m allowed that.

If I’m honest with myself, one responsibility I bear in all of this is not having taken enough time not only away from working, but where my head was all the way away from working, in the time Mark and I were together.  Mind, I don’t think that would have changed anything as it is now in any essential way: in fact, I think we may have just gotten to this point a lot sooner. (I also think we both share this particular error.) But I think us having gotten here sooner also would have been a lot less painful for us both, and my being more mindful, more truly present in the time we spent together, and making time for more of it is something I think would have made a big difference; a positive difference no matter what.  It’s not a mistake I want to make again. If I’m not all-in in that way, it’s only going to make so much difference if someone else is, especially since I can be very stubborn, it’s very difficult for others to drag me away from work and I should be the one dragging myself away in the first place.

Mark and I are, and have been from the start, very different people: our interests only strongly intersected in a few places, which is not nor has ever been the case with Blue and I. So, something else I need to remind myself of is that making that kind of time is going to get a whole lot easier no matter what, because things like tending to my garden, going to the market or the nursery, riding my bike, boxing, setting things up around the house, going on some wild, random rampage for new shoes, sitting down and writing, reorganizing the fridge… these are things where I am now going to have opportunities to do them with a partner, rather than trying to squeeze them in on top of everything else so I have time for a partner AND all of those things.

Of course, I’m going to have to remind myself of that, especially with my lifelong case of  “I can do it by myself!” syndrome. Shouldn’t be too hard, though: I’m really looking forward to it. Like, I’m earnestly dizzy in the head at the idea of someone wanting to plant flowers with me.
And that stuff is another bit where I feel awkward talking about it. Shifting a secondary partnership to a primary one, and then also ending the primary partnership at the same time is sticky and tricky.  I’m really incredibly excited about what’s to come with Blue, especially given our history and how long we both feel like we’ve waited for this, but I don’t know what is and isn’t graceful when it comes to how much I express that here and elsewhere.  I’ve never been all that confident in my own social graces.  But Mark is excited about his new place, and has voiced that plenty, and is also excited about moving back into life as a single and has talked plenty as we’ve gone through this about his dates, so I may just be being overcautious.

Still uncertain about that, I veer.  In figuring out how to restructure things, I want to be able — both in the weeks I’ll have to myself, and then after Blue arrives — to have days where there is plenty of room for all of the parts of my life, all the parts of life, period.  Where I don’t feel like I’m shirking my duties because I want to tend the house and garden for a day (things normal people make time for all the time, Corinna), or work on art for a day, or write something that isn’t for Scarleteen, or even step away from there altogether for a few days at a time now and then.

I feel a bit silly saying that, because I often feel like most people my age seem to have this stuff down to a pretty decent science by now, whereas it usually confounds me.  But, I yam who I yam, I suppose, and I get to have my own challenges.  I’m allowed to be daft with some things, after all.

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

I am a giant, pulsating ball of stress.

Here’s my whirlwind, as scattered and lunatic-fringe as it feels: some friends in deep crisis needing a good deal of care, more and more rape/abuse survivors coming to Scarleteen as well as more and more users who just need a kind of care we can’t give, but who often aren’t willing to get what they actually need, Blue mid-divorce which will probably get more and more yucky (paired with my own irritation at people getting married in the first place, with all apologies to my married readers), more work that just is barely paying me lately (Scarleteen donations are dismal) than any one human being can do, less work that does pay me available to me lately, a bunch of long effort expended on a maybe-second book only to get the oh-so-typical marketing team not-commercial-enough smackdown, Mark getting ready to move and going through something major to boot, Blue getting ready to move, a big house I am going crazy to keep tidy on my own, the tail end of the peer sex educator training, broken sinks, cut-down trees, overwhelming photo backlog (have been making progress, but have a long way to go) so I can get to the point where I can make some new art (which my spirit direly needs), serious impatience about having certain parts of my life start I feel like I’ve been waiting for forever, feeling ineffectual half the time even when I work my tush off, not enough help for…well, nearly anything and everything I need help with, behind on a million things from people visiting, feeling like I can’t possibly give all my friends the time and care they all deserve, money worries including old bills coming home to roost, too many people asking me to do too many things, feeling better physically but still have no answers and am sick and tired of stupid healthcare bills especially in the cultural context of a million people whining about healthcare proposals who have always had and will continue having their damn healthcare, not allowed to box which would really freaking help right now, still desperately trying to find a new developer for Scarleteen we can actually afford and not at all liking living totally developer-less, my pug is itchy all the time again, I’m sad for summer’s upcoming end, I desperately need some time alone, I’m excited about good stuff to come but also nervous as hell, I worry over both my parents a lot these days. Hell, I worry over anything and everything I could possibly worry about.  I have also been finding much of the world lately to be an utterly irritating and crazymaking place and I hate my negativity that way.

Like I said? Giant pulsating ball of stress.

At this precise moment, I’m not sure what the answer to all of this is.  I can figure out some answers for a few of those things, I can put on a few band-aids, but unfortunately, an awful lot of them are things I just have to weather for a bit.  All of this not going on at once would sure help, but there’s not much I can do about that.

I have, however, firmly decided that sometime in October, I am taking a full week, maybe even a week and a half, off.  I mean real-deal time off: NO Scarleteen, NO clinic, no work at all.  No managing anyone else’s crisis.  Part of me says I can’t afford it, but the smarter part of me that cares for myself says my pocketbook is more resilient right now than my head, heart and body are.

I honestly don’t know when the last time was that I did that, where I didn’t even check in with any work-stuff at ALL for more than a couple days at an absolute maximum.

I am taking a moment to put this here because I can pretty much always come up with some excuse when the time comes to take time off as to why I cannot, and I’m asking the internet-at-large to hold me to this, and nag me like a granny if I backpedal.  You see me working anywhere during that time?  I want you to chase me with sticks like a crow in the corn.
And if you’ll humor me, I’d like a few moments to step away from the whirlwind and daydream about what I’d like to do with that week, even about things that probably aren’t possible in reality, in an equally scattered fashion.

I want… to hula-hoop in my backyard on days when it’s sunny and blast reggae while doing so, get a footpath into the front lot where they took my tree away from, get back to baking bread especially so I can give it that satisfying thwack after it rises, make some art, have lots and lots of sex and even more kissing, paint a wall something crazy and in possibly poor taste just because, learn to take naps, go to the Olympus (and in my fantasy world, I magically don’t have to pay for it), eat too many Mighty-O donuts, get a bike ride in every single day, restring my dulcimers, watch way too many movies in a row, discover my new favorite band, have not a single pimple, find things I’ve misplaced and have been missing for years, write something completely fanciful and ridiculous of absolutely no import or consequence to anyone, not have anyone talk to me about money at all — in fact, not deal with money at all save to discover some unexpected donation that comes in to fund my taking time off and prove me right in being able to take the time in the first place, be free of awkward silences, put up curtains in the kitchen at long last so I can dance (and do other things) freely in my underpants without providing live theater for the neighbors, get a real sofa like real grownups have (if it appeared at Goodwill and was two bucks, that’d be even more awesome), giggle, sew a canopy for what’s become my new bedroom, actually experience total apathy for even just one minute, remember I don’t need to somehow write or say everything that needs saying in one sentence, get out of the city for a day, be given a bath in which someone washes my hair who isn’t me, play with my dog, take evening walks, spruce up my space for my sitting practice, have dinner made for me, read books that have nothing to do with work, have someone tell me marvelous things about myself right in my ear where I can hear them and not doubt them, go to sleep too early and sleep in too late, have an overcast, chilly day turn into the most beautiful day of the whole year, find the bathroom scrubbed clean when I didn’t do it myself, start one day with a pitcher of mimosas, go to the zoo, say some things I often feel like I shouldn’t, cry freely, have nothing terrible in the world happen for at least half my time off, find those days stretch like taffy and have each feel like a week and remember who the hell I am again, entire and apart from the giant, pulsating ball of stress I have lately become and deeply dislike.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009

Consider this a bookmark: I have been out-of-my-mind busy, and have a couple entries almost done, but all the jobs are being incredibly demanding in the last week or two. I also wound up with an injury to my arm and neck a little bit ago that did a number on me (getting better, slowly) and which made typing intensely uncomfortable.

But I’ll have something here by Friday, and I’m not dead.   Not yet, anyway.

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Man, I’m tired.

I’m a little bit concerned that 2009 will wind up labeled as The Year of Burnout, because I keep feeling very precariously on the edge of it, and it’s really uncomfortable.  Running more than one program has been seriously, seriously tough in a whole lot of ways.   It’s not just a matter of working more than one job, since I am having a hard time thinking of a time when I didn’t work more than one job.  It’s working more than one very demanding job, having more than one position of leadership, and working with a whole bunch of people in a lot of different ways. When I’m in the trenches with any of my work, working with my users and my clients, those feelings of burnout tend to fall away and I’m in the zone that I so, so love, effortlessly, but everything surrounding all of that is what’s getting to me.

It’s about having — or feeling a lack of — the resiliency to work in the fields that I do and weather the fallout that lands in my lap ably.  There have also been a lot of changes at the clinic lately, and some rough tensions. It doesn’t help that none of my jobs still offer me any benefits at all and the health insurance conundrum remains, as ever, unresolved.

I had a mini-meltdown at home on Saturday night about a bunch of things, one of which being that as I approach three years of living here, Seattle still just doesn’t even remotely feel like home to me, and I’m guessing it’s just not going to.  I love my neighborhood, but that doesn’t seem to be enough to make this place home. There are a whole bunch of reasons why, and I’m not going to go on and on about all the ways Seattle blows chunks for me.  It’s a tricky spot to be in, though, in part because Mark very much loves it here, and also because I’m just not sure where I’d go right now if I were to move again anyway. I’m feeling like I don’t want to even think about relocating until I know, for sure, a place that I step in and feel very much at home in.  having visited back home in Chicago lately, I don’t think that’s it, and while there was so much I loved about Minneapolis, I didn’t like some of the changes happening, and frankly, it’s too freaking cold. There are other cities I like, but I just don’t know how I could afford to live in, and there are pipe dreams I have about living rurally, but I see no way to even come close to manifesting those any time soon. I am off to Austin this week, a town I always love, so I suppose I can give some thought to there as a future-maybe, but it’s missing a large body of water, which has always been a must-have for me to feel at home.  Bleh.

I think per the impending burnout,  when I get back home from Texas, I need to just spend some time with a pen and a blank notebook and try and map out all of my stuff: what all I am doing, what areas are seeming to cause me the most stress, what places I can possibly pull back a bit. I also, still, need to get a lot, lot better about expressing my limits to people as well as to myself, as well as find some extra patience and compassion for myself about the limits of nothing more than my mere humanity.  I often balk at being presented as a Superwoman, but that’s a bit silly of me to balk at since it’s not like I don’t try and effectively live like one.

I also very much need to find some time in the next few months where I can literally take a complete week or two off, full-stop.  Given the amount of work I do in a year, it probably would be totally appropriate for me to have a full month of vacation, and lord knows I could use it, but that’s not exactly doable.

I don’t like feeling like this.  Just this weekend, at the NARAL youth activist summit, I was talking about how in my mind, the job of an activist, in so many ways, isn’t somehow singlehandedly fixing a problem or getting an issue the attention it needs, but inspiring others to be activists, too, not necessarily full-time, but enough to mobilize enough people in ways from small to great to make the good stuff happen.  At times like this, I can’t help but feel like I am not even remotely inspiring, and that totally bums me out.  (That’s not me, for the record, asking for anyone to say, “You do inspire me, Heather!” I’m just talking out loud and voicing how I feel about myself at the moment, which I don’t imagine would be altered by anyone else’s feedback.)

When I’m out of town next week, I’m going to be talking to a bunch of future and potential sexuality educators about how to be innovative in sex ed.  Effectively, what I have so far per what I’m going to say about that is talking about how it is I think, since that seems a lot more valuable than saying what I have done without talking about how I have done it and what has led me to do things the way I have.  I’m hoping that goes well for a whole lot of reasons, but I also think I could use a reminder in how I think and how I innovate.  Applying that to some of the places I find myself in right now would be a mighty fine thing to do.

In all honesty, I sometimes wish of late that I could take a long sabbatical to do nothing but have a personal and creative life right now.  The last few months have been so intense, mostly in incredible, expansive, big-growy ways. Even the rough spots have brought a lot of enlightenment and growth. I have been feeling so loved and so able to love so fully, getting so much clarity about a million things, and having a strong feeling of renewal all around that I just didn’t even see coming or knew I even needed.One interesting side effect, too, about reconnecting with Blue has been that areas of my memory which were murky or just gone (gee thanks, abuse) have been coming back to the surface.  I’m not sure if that’s because it was first with him that my most repressed memories were able to surface, because we have such a long history together, or lord knows why else, but it’s actually quite a gift.

I feel inspired as hell creatively, personally, in my heart, in my guts, in a part of my brain that doesn’t get enough airtime these days, nor do they seem to have found the right places to express themselves outside of my love relationships and my closest circle of friends.  My two romantic relationships are both incredibly rich and complex, and the intersection of them all the more so, but it all feels very right and like…well, it makes a whole lot of sense out of a lot of things which hadn’t made sense before.  I feel very much in my right place in both of them, even though neither is perfect or without its challenges.  I suppose wishing I could do nothing but love and make art is incredibly self-indulgent — and it also would take away from the benefits these feelings have been having on the work I do, which have not been small by any stretch — but I wish I could all the same.

This came out really whiny, alas.  But it’s what I’ve got at the moment, and where I’m at right now, a strange mix of tired and invigorated, inspired and burnt, expanded and limited, old and new.

Friday, January 9th, 2009

I just realized I’ve inadvertently had a radio silence here over the last couple weeks, which wasn’t at all intended.

I’m busy.  I know that’s no kind of news, but post-holidays, post-snowpocalypse, after so many nights of being so focused on relationships, after my visit with Blue here around the new year, I’ve been having to put all my energy to get back into full-on work mode and it’s been a challenge.  I love my work like nobody’s business — and I had a long, full day at the clinic yesterday which rocked — but being able to really put more time into my interpersonal life (and doing some personal writing) than my work has been wonderful, so needed, and so deeply rewarding that re-entry has been a bit of a bummer.

As well, there is a whole lot to say about everything going on interpersonally, but my feeling is that before I write too much more about this, we all need some more time to marinate more privately, process our stuff, get settled into where we all are with this and where we’re all going.  Per usual, with anything like this, as I always have (and I can’t believe I’m hitting my tenth year of writing here this spring), when you’re not just talking about yourself and your own very personal thoughts, but the places others intersect into them, kid gloves are required.

I’m working on finishing a bunch of pieces for Scarleteen now that I have been doing bits and pieces of for a while: a piece on yeast, a piece on the validity of love at any age, a piece on the etiquette and metaphysics of entering another person’s body — which is, frustratingly, something it’s very tough to really find any address of, which I find exceptionally bizarre.   And that, and another pile of paperwork, is really what I should head off and do now.

Just seemed important given the last couple posts to note that I — and the people I love — are all alive and well (but not living in Paris, and all apologies for anyone who could give a rat’s ass about Jacques Brel).

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Meet Gerald.Several weeks ago, on the way home from the movies, Mark, Heath and I drove by a shop with this hat in the window, which caused a great squealingy ruckus on my part.

A couple weeks later, Mark surprised me with it as a gift.  Much leaping followed.

I have named it Gerald and taken him in as a permanent guest.

Since that time, Mark has made what will go down in history as one of my favorite Mark-quotes to date.

“I want to snuggle up to a woman who wants to jump in puddles with a monster on her head.”

And with that, Gerald and I are heading home to Chicago together.  See y’all next week.

Tuesday, October 21st, 2008

This guy is certainly not the first person to say this stuff, and alas, it’s unlikely he’ll be the last.

But sweet Jaysis, could someone, anyone at all, explain to me HOW — exactly — same-sex relationships threaten, or make less strong, opposite-sex relationships?  Have straight relationships, because they’re allowed to exist and be recognized, made my same-sex relationships lesser in my experience without my even knowing it? Because I’ve no interest in participating in marriage, but want my relationships to have import, does that mean that I should feel that married people are a threat to me?  Do friendships make romantic relationships less meaningful?  Do strong and stated-to-be-important parent-child relationships do that to romances or sexual relationships, or vice-versa?  Does my love for my dog undermine or negate your love for your cat?  Does my love of biking render your love of running meaningless?  How can one person’s traditions, somehow dismantle someone else’s when both are allowed and can exist simultaneously?

HOW, for the love of gawd, HOW?

I know: I’m asking the wrong crowd.  I’m just so endlessly tired of hearing this sentiment but even more so, tired of never once hearing it actually explained with that funny thing we call logic.

(And for the record, do people like Rep. Hayes just conveniently forget that it’s pretty likely, by his standards, that those wacky guys who founded the nation in the first place would be anti-American?  Yeah, probably.)

Wednesday, October 15th, 2008

Just another quickie from me before I forget.

Heath (Mark’s best friend who has become my good friend as well over the years) and I went to see Blindness on Sunday.

…and it blew my brain right out of my head.  It was one of the more compelling pieces of art I’ve seen in a good, long while, to the degree that it was incredibly humbling.  I love pieces of work that make me feel like I just don’t even rate as an artist.  I also — and I know there is a good deal of disagreement on this — think it’s one of the more feminist films I’ve seen in a long time.

And as a visual artist?  Bloody hell, was it a feast for the eyes, and I’m so glad I saw it on a huge screen in a dark theater.  There’s a gorgeous still in nearly every freaking frame.  If I didn’t know firsthand from being around sets on mark that I cannot stand the dynamic of film sets and the process of filmmaking, it’d make me want to be a filmmaker.

A few caveats: first and foremost, there is a rape scene in the movie which could be incredibly triggering.  Oddly, it wasn’t triggering for me — for a few minutes there, I was on the edge of my seat figuring I should be ready to step out if I needed to — and I’m not sure why, save that I tend to be triggered less by scenes of rape which were not meant to be triggering.  But it is very potently real in many ways, particularly if your triggers are about words and sounds.  But at the same time, I appreciated that scene a lot, because I didn’t perceive any diminishment in it or around it: it was in no way made sexy, and in no way felt contrived.  It was ugly, ugly business.

And that’s part of what really got me with this film: it had this range of humanity from the most ugly to the most beautiful that I found really rare.

I should also mention that I do, and have always, have a love for apocalypse films.  Demented as it is, they comfort me.  I like seeing the reset button on existence hit. I also tend to go a little dark in my tastes and like going there.  Has anyone else seen it?  I’d love to gab about it.

That’s it from me: I just knew I’d space.  I am FINALLY done with that freaking mailing, and also finally finished a big, personal piece for RH Reality Check that wore me the heck out.   The last big thing on my desk before I can get back to my usual level of mania is the voting guide, so I am hoping I can get that done by the time the weekend is over.  I should know by now that sustaining my usual degree of overwork and overextension has me at my limit as it is, and be able to see when I’m trying to push past it, but alas.  Someday I’ll learn my lesson.

Monday, September 29th, 2008

I call to you, Internet, for help with two fairly droll issues.

1) Anyone here an Excel-yoda?  What I need to do is use an existing contacts database (one that was organized pretty poorly, especially for this purpose) to create many, many mailing labels for a CONNECT mailing that needs to get out super-soon.  I don’t know how to do this, nor do I know how I should best build a new database to make mailing other organizations easier in the future.  What I do not want to wind up having to do is to type all of these contacts twice, once in a new database file and once in a Word doc or something else so I can do the labels.

2) Lobster mushrooms.  I got a beautiful bag of dried ones from the forgaged edibles folks at the farmer’s market on Sunday, but I’ve never used this particular type before.  I was thinking about a smoky, mushroom-garlic-coconut milk sauce, or maybe a lovely barley soup, but I’d love some other ideas, especially if you’ve cooked with these before.

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Last night, I decided to stay home rather than go to the Mariner’s game with Mark.  This was because:

a) I knew I was going to get whacked with cramps any minute

b) I really wanted to watch the debates, and

c) the Mariners suck so much that I always get in trouble for cheering on anyone who finally hits a freaking ball  — no matter which team does.

I put on some comfy jammies, grabbed a big bottle of wine and settled in on the sofa with the pug.

She didn’t seem particularly interested, which really bothered me, so I explained to her that, “We could lose even more of our rights!  Well…maybe not you…wait a minute, maybe you, too!  McCain and Palin don’t give a hoot about animal rights, you know.  They’re shooters…maybe even little tiny pugs like you when they run out of bigger critters and other people they decide are animals to shoot at!”  Sofia jumped into my lap, looking very concerned, and I felt bad about freaking her out.  “Don’t be scared, I’ll protect you, but seriously: this is important.”

She let out a snurf of relief, and was more attentive henceforth.  I took dictation and have transcribed some of her more notable responses for you.

• As McCain is talking about cutting pork-barrel spending when his VP is a fine example of doing it, Sofia cocks her head, and turns around and looks at me, her eyes big.  I know, little dog.  I know.

Of course, she may have just heard the “pork” part.

• Sofia shakes her head at Repubs talking healthcare.  We huff together at the cute idea that we can all just go choose our doctors here in lalaland.

• For the most part, talk of finances bores her.  Clearly, Sofia is secure in her financial status, which is profoundly foolish, since that’d be my financial status. However, when environmental discussion comes up, she perks up her ears. She’s an environmentalist!  Who knew? Good dog!

• When Obama is talking about assuring higher education for everyone, I realize I have never asked Sofia if she wants to go to college.  So, I ask.  “Hey Sof: college, or home on the sofa?”

Crap.  She interprets this as me offering her a treat.  I must have used my wanna-treat voice.

• Talk of terrorism causes the small-but-mighty pug to leap atop the cat-scratched loveseat and devotedly guard the front window.  If they come for us, she will kill them with cuteness and a painful ankle-nipping.

H: What do you think about Iraq and Afghanistan?
S:  (head cock, offended snurffle, looks to Obama)
H: You going to ask Obama?
S: (even more deeply offended look) She communicates that not only does SHE understand what’s going on, she’s pretty sure Obama does.  But probably not as well as she.  Gawd.

• McCain makes Sofia snore.  Me too.  But she says likes his floppety face.  We have a serious discussion about how you can’t judge a jerk by their jowls, or think that someone is okay just because they kind of look like you, only hairless.  I think she gets it, but we may need to revisit this talk for her safety.

Invite them over for tea…snrf.  Obama made a funny.  This dog is easy to amuse.

• I remark that McCain looks constipated.  Sofia concurs and suggests he needs more whole-grain fiber in his diet.  Maybe a biscuit.  Which maybe she needs herself right now, come to think of it.

• Boy, Henry Kissinger is getting a looooooot of phone calls tomorrow, and I think McCain’s face is going to be even more pink.  That’s what Sofia says, anyway.

• She gave McCain a gold star for mostly passing his self-assigned geography quiz.  She says,  “Oooh. Snrf.”

• Now that there is spaghetti and not-meatballs in front of me, Sofia could give a rat’s ass about the election.

H: What do you think?
S: Spaghetti.

A little later…

H: He will take care of veterans?  Riiiiight.
S: Spaghetti.

H: Oh,  that was really lovely.  I’m not being facetious: that was good stuff about –
S: SPAGHETTI.
H: I give up.  Oh, good, so did they.

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

I’m crazy-busy with a ton of work this week (including some rather unexpected whistle-blowing), but I just had to pop in for a minute to share.

I just walked away from my computer to make some tea, and when I came back, I found Flora, my cat, perched on top of my laptop…where she’d entered “BV” into the Mac spotlight application.

Now, I have no idea why, exactly, my cat decided she needed to research bacterial vaginosis, but I’m mighty impressed with her ingenuity.

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Sometimes, I just really don’t enjoy my job and cannot even feel certain I’m doing it decently.

Man, I hate posts like that, and trying to answer them just wears my shit right out. I think I need a bath, and it’s not even past noon.

(It didn’t help, by the way, that a situation like that so totally illustrates to me the ridiculousness of conservatives positing that readiness for sex is not so much about age as it is about marriage, and that while a young adult isn’t capable of managing sex, they are capable of managing marriage AND sex. And parenting. Lordisa. But of course, you know that the response would simply be that if they had followed the “rules” of marriage, everyone would be doing just fine. It’s not getting married and pregnant young that creates any problems or isn’t so easy, it’s doing so and not following the rules.)

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Every now and then, I seriously have to wonder what on earth I can possibly do to convince determined, self-assigned missionaries that I am a seriously lost cause.

Do I change my sigline in places I write or discuss to, Don’t bother: I’m in hell already? Do I wear the blood of baby goats or a hairshirt when I go out to do talks? A t-shirt that reads “Jesus Loves Me…but he told me to tell you that he’s getting pissed off at you?”

Just passing through, having dealt with some wacko in the comments of some of my recent columns at RH Reality Check. I actually don’t have to deal with this stuff as much anymore as I have in the past — I think most of them have long since figured out that if they bring this stuff to Scarleteen, it never sees the light of day, and if they email me, I hit delete. We’ve also had some amusing exchanges in the past where when they did find a way to go on a preach-a-thon, the teens they were so sure were so malleable and not-at-all-wise to their shit basically have told them to shove it and get the hell out of their space.

It tends to only be when I branch out somewhere new anymore that they come back out to pray play. (Today I couldn’t help but sing Don’t pray for me, Saint Christina…) Can’t say if it’s a coincidence or not, but this week one of my favorite “Bad, bad, evil sex lady!” emails (I actually only got the one this week: again, anymore, those really are the strong minority these days) was someone explaining to me that I clearly was unqualified to give anal sex the weight it should have because I used the word “jellybean” — a clearly frivolous, flippant confection, unless jellybeans connote something else I’m not aware of — in the title of an advice answer.

What reaction I was supposed to have to this missive beyond the one I did — wild laughter, which I presume was not the wanted reaction — I couldn’t begin to tell you. Why this was someone’s Very Serious Issue that day which deserved even three seconds of their time, I also just do not know. But I did at least seriously consider switching to creampuffs the next time I talk about assfucking. Creampuffs require artistry and are a bit more upper-crusty, therefore I presume them to be a more suitable choice. Plus, that should keep the appropriate amount of homophobic innuendo intact.

Obviously, I could prattle on about these kinds of annoyances forever, but there’s just little point. It’s not likely to even come to a full halt, and even if I didn’t do what I do with my living, I’d probably still have to hear this crap from someone at least every now and then. Heck, I had my mother’s mother calling me a devil while praying for my soul as a child for as far back as I can remember (primarily because a) I was technically illegitimate, b) no one baptized me, and c) there was just something so clearly and essentially wretched and evil about me that someone needed to save me because this shit obviously wasn’t going to save itself). I’m afraid I’m just plain old savior-bait.

But that doesn’t mean I still don’t want to kvetch about it for a minute now and again.

Okay, my minute’s up. That’s better.

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

I did my first day here at the home office where I was doing both jobs — Scarleteen and working on CONNECT and the CRC website — at the same time.

This is what a ludicrous amount of multitasking looks like. My corner desk, with…

• to the far left, my home office laptop on a freestanding table, where an ashtray that so isn’t anything close to empty also lives
• the CRC work laptop to the right of it on my desk, with a mouse plugged in because this business with PCs (first time I’ve been stuck with one of these stinkers) having two buttons drives me batty with a touchpad
• my stationary computer on while I downloaded cards from my camera and kept a little music going
• my phone on the desk to the right of that, with my headpiece attached to my ear
• one legal pad of notes and to-dos for each gig to the right of that
• a cup of perpetually tepid coffee on one of the legal pads
• a jade plant at the end of the desk, desperately trying to represent
• the birth control comparison chart for CRC stretched out over my office chair behind me
• and me, in the middle of all the melee, rolling around on a swiss ball I use as a chair

For most of the day, I couldn’t figure out if I was doing the kind of work I think I do, or somehow electronically responsible for the fate of the free world. I had several paranoid moments of feeling like there was probably some sort of button somewhere I shouldn’t push that had the capacity to delete Australia. Halfway through the day, I shouted “Mayday, MAYDAY!” into the phone just because it seemed like the thing to do.

Want to know the big funny? All this, and I am the girl who, in the early eighties, was completely incensed with my father, who had been having a field day for a while taking apart and putting together Ataris, who thought this whole newfangled computer business would be all the rage, endlessly nagging me to learn DOS so that I could manage the amazing and oh-so-useful feat of making the letter A blink on a black screen with orange text. I HATED technology. I even got my stray cat at the time, Bowie, to pee on one of the keyboards in a shared protest.

I still have to confess that while I know full well how I fell into this tangled-cord-spaghetti, beepedy-beep-beep, creepy-chrome digital business (in short print publishing = instant bankruptcy), it’s a full-tilt love/hate relationship.

Which is why I must head to my garden immediately, now that much of my workday is done, and get as stinky, muddy and full of pollen as is humanly possible. I might even kiss a slug.

Saturday, June 28th, 2008

Just a quick bookmark here so no one thinks I fell off the face of the planet.

Most of my Minneapolis trip was great, and I got to enjoy a lot of sun. It perhaps would have behooved me to ask how warm it had been before the week I arrived before I dove headfirst into Lake Calhoun, but I survived that error all the same. The Baby Liam is well into his two’s for the good and the ill, and began calling me “Daddy Heather” for some reason, which I have no doubt his father will not think is the best thing ever. I had a migraine for several of the days there and as a result, learned a bit late in the game that the person to send for coffee for you is not your friend who a) doesn’t drink it herself and b) has a degenerative eye disease. Only many days of growing pain later did I discover I’d been drinking decaf.

It was great seeing people, and really good to have some real downtime. I didn’t get to see everyone I wanted to, but that was mainly because I did actually manage to truly vacate a lot of the time there, a nearly impossible task for me.

I, however, came home to considerable and very unexpected catastrophe, and need to find the right way to discuss how I’m feeling in writing without actually disclosing any actual details of the situation. That situation has me a bit of a wreck, though, so I’m not quite there yet and need a couple of days before I can write about it, my trip, or anything else.

I now return you to your regular programming. More later.

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

I just got back from doing a morning birth control and safer sex presentation for the clinic at a temporary shelter for teen runaways down in Chinatown. It was all boys, which was unexpected, but I grooved with it and all went well. Still trying to figure out how one of the guys was earnestly convinced that his girlfriend hides needles in her hair in order to puncture his condoms — despite the fact that none of his condoms have ever failed to his knowledge, nor has he ever seen any of these aforementioned needles — and why he felt it was so reasonable to suggest that these are things all women do, but that’s beside the point. I’m exposed to so much paranoia, ignorance and just general weirdness in my line of work that often, what surprises me is the absence of it.

The real hilarity of my morning was that on the bus down there, I was a few rows behind a man who had some mix of OCD and Tourette’s going on. He would count all of us on the bus methodically and with his hands — “One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, either, nine…” — getting more vexed the higher he got in his count, and when he got to the end of the list, he’d then shake his hands, and yell with no small measure of frustration, “Sex, sex, SEX!”

It took everything I had not to let him know that I heard him, and I was en route to do the best that I could to handle it, but he was going to have to be a little more patient, for crissakes.

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

The last week and a half in review?

The last few days I’ve had that wonderful cycle I have every other month which results in not only heinous pain when my period starts, but hours of vomiting. This time, I hit a record eight hours from start to finish of the vomit, to the point that even keeping water down was impossible. Not my best day ever. I was at clinic when all this started and was at least able to get an EFT treatment from the doc there, which fended off the worst of it so I could finish my workday. Unfortunately, it only fended off the big yuck into the evening, and my body seemed to want to get revenge for dismissing her schedule.

After several years of this, there is still no solid theory on what the heck the deal is. I do have more votes for this being the flirtations of peri-menopause than anything else, and it does appear that in those cycles proceeding this, I’m anovulatory. As I mentioned to someone else though, if this is flirtation, knowing that given my age I’m looking at a long courtship, I’m not excited. And I don’t even want to think about what the consummation of this relationship will be like. Ugh. So much crap for an organ that, for the most part, I’ve never even wanted to use.

Given I was on the couch all day and night yesterday after I could finally keep enough water down to get a painkiller in my system, I caught up with some film. I’ve had Sweet Land sitting here for weeks wanting to see it, and it was just a beautiful, quiet and earnest film. I didn’t realize that Mark Orton (of Tin Hat Trio, who if you don’t know, you so should) had done the soundtrack, either. As I am wont to do with Jarmusch films in general, I fell asleep twice when Broken Flowers first came out, so tossed it off, but had a few people telling me it was so, so good, so finally could watch it yesterday. I remain unimpressed. My father said he couldn’t stand La Vie en Rose, but I rabidly disagree. Parts of it felt disjointed (though my suspicion is that was intentional), but I thought it was amazing, and sweet jesus did that woman ever earn her Oscar. Brilliant, brilliant acting.

Due to the holiday on Monday, I am graced with a schedule at clinic this coming week where my two days are one right after the other, rather than being spaced out over the week, which I mightily look forward to. At home, the way I work tends to be in very extended two or three day spurts at a time. Since I’m usually working Mondays and Thursdays away, that’s been creating a problem in my usual patterns, and only allowing me Friday - Sunday to do that, taking away the time Mark and I usually have together since he’s got a standard day job with a standard schedule. So, this weekend, this should allow us some extra time, and also give me the whole front of the week to finish up a few articles I’m almost done with. I’ve been working on a sort of meditation on the validity of love for young people, so often told the love they experience isn’t bonafide or real, that I’m particularly stoked to finish.

The Thursday before last, I came home from clinic feeling pretty defeated, having had my first repeat client since I started working there, a 17-year-old girl with one of those few-years-older boyfriends who looks like Joe Sensitive on the surface, but who actually is a controlling, careless ass. In fact, the first time I saw both of them at the tail end of January, the clinic was still allowing “support” people (I put that in quotes since they were often anything but: more often than not, the ones who wanted to come back only did because they wanted to control the client) into counseling appointments. He was one of my examples as to why I, personally, was not at all okay with that, and the policy has since changed. While I sat there explaining her procedure, her aftercare, asking how she was about her choice, he sat playing video games on his cell phone. Would that I were kidding. As well, he told me this whole lovely fairy story about how the pregnancy was all her doctor’s fault because he didn’t renew her pill prescription on time. When I asked if her doctor had also then, of course, made clear he was never to wear a condom under any circumstances, I got a shrug and a sneer. When I told her she could have a Chlamydia and Gonorrhea screening with her procedure if she wanted, HE answered for her saying she should probably get that, and when I not only made clear I wasn’t freaking talking to him, but asked if, given how invested he was in her screening, if he’d ever had one himself, he told me no as if I had asked if he ever tore the legs off of squirrels. What a charmer.

And there she was, back again a week ago, and she was sent home with three months of pills last time, no less. Of course, Mr. Wonderful was still with her, and very not-pleased when he couldn’t come back into my office this time. I did the sneering that day. Alas, she wouldn’t talk to any of us about birth control, or much of anything, even though she was back in the office for another procedure not even three months later. Obviously, I can’t keep watch over any client to assure they use the birth control we give them, or do anything outside the office to help them get away from jerks. So, I know I’m not at all responsible for her being right back there, but it is pretty hard not to feel like, somehow, you failed someone in that spot; like there were some magic words I could have said but wasn’t smart enough to think of. It’s frustrating, and it’s hard not to bring that home and stew in it.

On the other hand, I’ve done a few options sessions lately, hour-long sessions expressly for clients who just don’t know what to do about a pregnancy and need to talk it through, and I love those. They often do get pretty emotional, but usually within just that one hour, you get to watch someone come in totally conflicted and lost and leave resolved, clear and confident. Two of my last three decided to terminate, and one decided to continue her pregnancy and parent: all felt good about their choices, and that is incredibly rewarding. One common thread I see in a lot of these though, no matter someone’s age, are families pressuring them into a given choice. A lot of the time in these sessions, you have to spend the first quarter or even half of them just getting the client clear when it comes to putting away everyone else’s opinion, whether the pressure is to continue a pregnancy or terminate. But the mere fact that any family makes a condition of their love what a woman does with her own pregnancy and her own body is so incredibly maddening. Watching someone feel like (or be directly told that) they have to choose between what they know is right for them and the love of their family makes me want to hurl even without my grumpy uterus.
I finally got my camera in for repair: here’s hoping they can actually fix it. They seemed about 50/50, which was not especially heartening. I need a working camera, both for the photo gig in Minneapolis next month, and for my own well-being. Being unable to make any art over the last handful of months has been seriously sucky.

Plus, the garden is coming along really beautifully this year, and my old camera from early 2000 isn’t at all cutting the mustard when it comes to capturing it. (It is not, for the record, half full of poisonous flowers this year, as I unconsciously chose last year. I am taking this as a signal of improved mental health on my part.) Since the dog also has a habit of stealing my strawberries and cherry tomatoes, I also made a small garden just for her this year in the front with those things of her very own. This may or may not make any sort of difference, and may, in fact, only be indicative of the fact that I take my dog a little too seriously.

There’s also been family drama, but I’m not going there. Let me just say that a lifetime of my parents being unable to stand each other, and ever being the person perpetually shoved into the middle, is truly tiresome.

Mark is off to the start of SIFF tonight, where a feature he produced last year is playing, and I’m off to an evening out with a co-worker at the fantastic new cantina a few blocks away which includes some vegan deliciousness, then up to the Copper Gate for a perhaps ill-advised bout of Norwegian grain alcohol. I have a little gardening on my plate today, a little Scarleteen work, a couple edits on an anthology piece, some tidying-up and a few snuggles where I can get them.

(And hey: happy birthday, Fish! My father sends birthday wishes to you as well, still clearly nursing his mad crush on you.)

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

I started a few different entries coming from the events of the last week or two, and I’ll be finishing and publishing those over the next week or so.

But just so everyone knows and no one worries, I’m doing just fine. I feel emboldened, actually.

Shelter Island was absolute heaven, and exactly what I needed. I met Joani Blank after my talk and totally fangirled all over her, squealing like a goofball in her face and hugging the stuffing out of her, all the while whispering that I was trying very hard to stop and would understand if she wriggled her way out of my grasp. Deb Levine was awesome to work with, and I met an incredible man who has been doing psychotherapy for sex offenders for a couple decades. I have new freckles. My Dad is here and that just rocks. Joriel and I went out yesterday so I could buy my birthday present for myself, new plants for my garden, including a horsetail which existed before the dinosaurs did. I wrote a very painful check to the IRS, but I’m over it and resisted the urge to enclose a note that read, “Dear U.S. Government: here is your fucking blood money, so you can go kill a bunch of innocent people instead of using it to take care of all of us like you should be. Your pal, Heather.” I sent out yet another huge batch of t-shirts (we’ve sold over 80 now), and read some amazing letters from other survivors, saw an incredible support from someone I don’t even know that just floored me in the best way, and played a couple very hilarious games of Scrabble with Mark, Heath and my Dad. I’m looking forward to a small birthday dinner tomorrow with the people I love.

I’m okay.

Wednesday, April 9th, 2008

Tomorrow, right after clinic, I’m leaving on a jet plane. It is technically — as usual — a work trip, but very much out of the ordinary, I will only have to work for around two hours on Sunday. The rest of that time, we will simply be enjoying the sun and the sand on Shelter Island.

In other words, it really is, however brief, an actual, bonafide vacation — I think if it’s more than 36 hours it’s no longer just a getaway or a day trip — something I have not had in such a long time it’s scary. Something I have needed for years.

The timing is completely brilliant: there could not be a better time for me to be able to just get the hell out of dodge, grab a few books and my sweetheart, and decompress. Now that things are dying down a bit — knock on wood, but so far today I have not gotten even one piece of hate mail — I’m actually feeling pretty okay. Stronger, more resilient than I thought I was. Tired, and certainly a little world-weary, but I’m okay. Thanks to everyone who lent me some support over the last few days: I very much needed it, and it was absolute gold.

My Dad is here now (and we did have That Talk this morning, and it went very well), and will be taking care of my child, otherwise known as my dog. I’ll get to come back to see him for another five days, and while I have to do work from home in that time, I will only need to go to the clinic one day that week. He’ll also be here for my 38th — how do these things happen? — birthday next Friday, which is just awesome.

So, off with me. I still have taxes to try and finish, a Dad to hang out with, a pug to snuggle, a bag to pack and fifty gazillion more things to do. But after 5:00 tomorrow, until Monday morning, I’ll be exceptionally busy harvesting freckles, enjoying a cocktail or twelve, soaking my toes in the pool and thanking the powers that be for that much-needed respite.

Friday, April 4th, 2008

Oh, but there’s just nothing like waking up in the morning to find an image of you (from a clearly copyrighted page, no less) used without your permission and to be the unidentified rape survivor used as a poster child without even a request for your permission, let alone the permission itself. Having your work (Scarleteen) attributed to someone else is just icing on the cake. Given the subject matter, there’s a pretty grotesque and sad irony afoot, to say the least. Sure, it’s likely just editorial/journalistic carelessness, but it does strike me as sending the message that rape survivor = available to anyone for their own use without permission.

This is not to say I expect better things of Gawker or Jezebel — nor that I didn’t send their shared legal department a nastygram minutes ago — but rather, to say that I’m clearly going to require an awful lot of coffee, a very long bath, a hug and to manage my general disappointment with people today.

P.S. To friends who I told about my father coming down with pneumonia — which is obviously incredibly dangerous for him given his general health and the conditions he lives in — I just heard from him and he finally seems to be on the mend. That also means he will be able to come up and stay with me for a week and a half as planned next week.

P.P.S. If you’re local to Seattle, I just took a call from KOMO news on the I Was Raped project, who have assured me I can count on them for the sensitivity I have not otherwise encountered much today.  I’m not entirely optimistic, but we’ll see.  It is crazy to me that I have to explain (and I have, several times today to different people) that my choosing the context where an image of me identifying myself as a survivor is not minor.  A big photo of me on my local news can mean that I get to spend days, even weeks possibly running into people locally who know me only as “that girl who got raped,” by my face, it might mean opening myself up to all kinds of things with groups of people that are broader than the groups I usually encounter.

I will probably have more to say after the segment is aired, depending on what they used of what I said, but I gotta say, so far, this doesn’t go down as one of my best days ever.  I feel exposed — and given, I signed up for some of that, hoping it will be a worthwhile thing for others — and like I’ve had to fight for my right not to be some sort of commodity and it’s just… I don’t know.  It’s just something, and not something very great for me at the moment.

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

I am physically and emotionally exhausted. This front page and everything on it is why.

And now I seriously have to go to bed since I need to get up in just over five hours. Bloody hell.

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

For the next day or so, I’m going to be taking a little bit of less-work downtime. Deep breaths? Check. Friend I haven’t seen in years coming to visit tonight (who I fully intend to drag over to the Copper Gate for some Aquavit-induced mania)? Got it. Tidying up the house and doing some much needed zen-style-scrubbing? You betcha. Some mighty-swell morning sex? And how. Snoozin’ pug at my feet? Aw. Made a fire to have some quality meditation time and fit a little yoga in first? Next on the agenda, followed by a nice, hot bath. I still have some work to at home do today and tomorrow, but so help me, I’m going to be doing it at the pace normal people do.

Yesterday we had the two-clinic staff meeting where I did my segment on self-defense for my co-workers which was…eh, it was okay. I’ve never had to try and fit a whole self-defense course, including everything from prevention to evasion to physical defense in just over one hour’s time, so it felt a little bit like five-minute-Shakespeare, but that’s okay. One does what one can with what one has to work with. Unfortunately for Mark, I found out over dinner last night that I had defense so much on the brain Sunday that he got attacked by sleeping-me twice during the night, including a sloppy elbow strike as well as a much more skillfully executed heel strike straight to his nose. Blimey: the things people who sleep with me have to put up with. If it isn’t talking, it’s my usurping the whole of the bed, if I’m not waking up hyperventilating with night terrors, I’m interpreting my bed-mate as an assailant in need of a takedown.

Beyond my unfortunately violent nocturnal activities, there’s nothing much to see here. Getting some new things up and done at Scarleteen, getting things in place for one new syndication as well as a volunteer consulting gig, am all set for the SSSS conference/plenary speakership w/Deb Levine in April (and a few days away in San Diego with my sweetie as a bonus: it’s a working vacation, but I’ll take what I can get!), still working on some fundraising avenues, busy at the clinic per usual (which also includes brainstorming on developing more ways to get some extra sex ed to clients), and daydreaming about a time in my life I really hope I’ll see where I’m not working so damn hard all the freaking time.

Wednesday, March 12th, 2008

This is shaping up to be a seriously crazy week: I’ve already done two days of clinic time, and on Monday, we had new protocols, new paperwork, and one counselor out with the flu on one of the busiest days I’ve seen there so far. My first chart showed up at 8:15 and the last one I pulled was just before 5:00, with only a half hour break for a quick lunch in there. It also included a client to whom I had to break the news that she was too late for a termination, which always seriously sucks, to say the least. Yesterday, I went downtown (a MUCH better commute: I’m only a 20-minute bus ride away, tops) and did some BDI logic model training for the sex ed outreach arm of the clinic which was awesome, but that meant last night and continuing through today, I’m racing to finish a piece past a deadline for something else, and then have to do a bunch of work for extra training in Options Counseling for Friday. Tomorrow I’m probably going to want to just take my coffee in an IV since I have to counsel all day then jet over to a public health clinic at night to do some sex ed work. Then, over the weekend, I need to do some prepping for our bi-monthly all-clinic staff meeting Monday because I’m teaching a self-defense piece to staff, and I’m a bit rusty when it comes to teaching self-defense. Somewhere amidst all of that I have to try and at least do some of the usual Scarleteen work.

So, yeah: still exhausted. It’s old news, I know.

When a little bit of time shows up, I’ll write more about this is depth because I have a lot to say, but over the past couple of months, I’ve reconnected very strongly with an ex, and it’s been tremendously powerful. This is someone who I had hurt, made amends with over ten years ago after a five-year-period where we didn’t speak, then the amends and what all happened in the one-week-period of time around sent me into a massive tailspin which had legs for years of my life. We only started talking again after this recent reconnection, and we seem to finally have found a place that really works for us, and that’s just incredibly fortifying and restorative for both of us. We had a very intense and highly charged relationship — and it was one of the rare one for me where I was with someone very similar to me; I tend more often to get involved with people who are a contrast to me — and while we loved each other immensely, and knew one another very deeply, I don’t think we ever really had a real friendship in all of that. A lot of that had to do with both of us being so young for something so big, and also both being so post-traumatic in various respects, but I also think we just weren’t in the space in our lives yet to manifest what we had as a friendship. Being able to forge one now feels like the rightest thing ever, and it’s been amazing to really feel that, especially getting close to almost 20 years after we first met.

On the other hand, last week someone I went to Jr. High with managed to track me down, and the group of friends from back then have apparently all reconnected and been looking for us stragglers. While it was awesome to hear from that person, that reconnection — especially with everyone from then — isn’t something I want to pursue. That spanned a period of my life which was easily the most traumatic I have ever had, where for those years, I had to invest energy every day in outwardly projecting a person who…well, wasn’t me. I had so many horrendous things happen to me during that period of time, my home life was so awful, and having no history with those kids since I had only moved to that area once the bad got started, there wasn’t a single friend then who really had any idea of what I was really grappling with or trying to survive. Meeting up with them again, even just via email or the phone, would be so surreal for me; seeing people who felt like they knew you and feel warmly about the shell they knew, but who you knew didn’t know you at all, on top of a 24 year-lapse of any contact just strikes me as sad and strange. So, I’ve had a few bittersweet moments around that over the last couple of days: it stinks to be reminded of a childhood you were robbed of, and it’s not something I choose to reflect on often, to say the least.

Mark got home from Austin late Monday night, and last night we got to reunite in the somewhat ritual fashion we seem to have: we crack a bottle of wine, take turns sharing everything the other one missed while we were apart, start collectively cooking while blaring some music so we can dance in the kitchen at the same time, enjoy a meal, gab some more, then head upstairs to get all sweaty, juicy and melty. Paired with the fact that I could sleep until 8 this morning, it was a bonafide luxury, one I very, very much needed. I even got to wake up with some serious bedlocks from a lot of happy thrashing, which Mark would have had himself if he had any hair.

And with that, back to the grindstone go I.

Addendum: Piece finished. Man, I love writing manifestos. That was tough but supremely gratifying.  Now on to a quick bath, homework for the training Friday, and if I get really lucky, to bed.

Sunday, March 2nd, 2008

Know what’s cool?

What’s cool is when you have one friend staying in town for one thing, who is friends with another set of your friends also in town at the same time, and neither of them knew that was the case until you mentioned it.

That means that early this afternoon, we not only get to grab a brunch with Carol and Robert, but with Elise, all of whom are also old friends. I expect ridiculousness to ensue, which is good. I could use some ridiculousness these days.

I did already get a dose of some Friday night. Once a year, Mark has all of his day-job co-workers over for an evening that involves a terrifying amount of alcohol. But these are geeks (Mark’s day job is all about traditional gaming), and they’re affable drunks. To mix it up, we invited a few of my co-workers from my day job over, aming it a very strange mix of gaming geeks and abortion workers, which if we do again, will heretofore be titled Drinky’s 2nd Annual Geek and Abortion Provider Ball. Just because it’d have to.

Speaking of ridiculousness, a couple of days before that I had a phone conference with a couple of people whose work is in conjunction with the U.N., so I had to call in on one of their lines. Now, I don’t know why I was surprised that the United Nations has an automated voice mail system — I mean, who doesn’t? — save that my brain does tend to start at a luddite place with most things and only advance when forced to. So, yes, my image of the UN was a bunch of delegates sitting in a room at a bunch of wooden desks with a podium or two in there. So, when I hit the voice mail system, my imagination went on a silly spree, and rather than hearing what it was actually saying, I heard things like…

You have reached the United Nations. For world peace, press one. To forcibly eject George Bush from the planet, press two: we are experiencing high volume on this line, so please wait patiently for the next available representative. If you’re one of those idiots sure the U.N. is to blame for every problem you have, press three to be connected to the NRA or four to be reminded that if you are not Native, you, too, are an immigrant, asshole.

This resulted in me starting my call by having to explain why I was laughing rather than saying hello, which was a little awkward.