Cars are Annoying and Other Interesting Insights into Human Culture


One thing I will say about women’s liberation is that it makes mundane accomplishments seem like monumental achievements.  Case in point, yesterday I got all “dolled up” for work and walked out to my car.  I sat down in the driver’s seat, started the car, and winced at the ridiculously high volume of the radio…again.  I turned it down, noticed that my “low air in the tires” light was on, and thought, “eh, fine, I’ll just pump up the jam down the road…tire…pump up the tire.  There are no jams to be pumped at this early hour of the day, good sir!”

I, of course, was saying that to myself in a hoity toity British accent and all was fun and games until I drove approximately 5 feet and, as my car lurched and thumped forward I thought, “Well, shit.  Something ain’t right.”

This was said in an offensive Southern accent.

I stepped out of the car and inspected the tires, only to find that one was completely flat.

“Fuck.” I said, out loud, in my own voice with no accent adulteration.  I walked upstairs and announced to Wes that I had a flat tire.  He said something like, “Bummer. Do you have a spare tire?”

I had no idea.  I had not yet had to deal with this kind of thing with the Fit.  So I went outside again and found that I did in fact have a donut.  Impressively, I was happier about that discovery than whether or not I had a delicious donut, though I was starting to think that I would need a donut of the delicious variety soon since drinking wine at 9am is a faux pas or something…unless you’re in France…or unless it’s Sunday brunch.  I’m pretty sure if I were to take a glass of wine and stir it with a celery stalk, it would be the next big acceptable brunch booze option.

Anyway, I had a donut tire and I had a non-complete-bottom-of-the-line hydraulic jack.  Wes appeared next to me and helped me figure out where to put the jack and then said, “Well, I have to go to work! Have fun!”

He drove off in his convertible and I stood there staring at the jack, having already raised the car, realizing that I didn’t know how to get it back down again.  Meanwhile, it was humid and the fresh morning dew was fucking everywhere, so it was time to change costumes.

Jessie, Shaun and Ginny were asleep.  I changed from my spiffy “I’m a god damn professional” outfit into an “eh, fuck it” outfit.  It consisted of ripped, dirty jeans, and t-shirt with a mushroom cloud and scientists fist pumping behind the word SCIENCE! And my hair hastily pulled back into a ponytail.  I stomped out of the house already frustrated (mostly because of the humidity, because I am a northern wuss) and proceeded to sit down in the grass and try to read the (1 page) manual to the jack to figure out how to operate it.  I read the page again and again and started talking to myself about how this didn’t make any sense.  “Yes, I see the release valve, ok?!? BUT HOW DO I TURN IT?!? What handle?!? I HATE YOU!”

Well, it is 2013 and when in doubt, ask Google. After blowing past several links that said things like, “Once you are done with the car in its raised position, simply lower it,” I found something that made sense and I went, “OooooooooooOOOoooH” and managed the first part of this great enigma.

Then I tried to loosen the lug nuts with the tire iron I had…only to find that the tire iron was not the right size.  Luckily for me, there was another car I could drive to go get a new one…but I didn’t do this until I had already exhausted various insufficient and inappropriate tools from the workbench.  Wes’ suggestion was to hit the ratchet I had with a hammer.  Not ready to regress into “Home Habilis Learns to Use Tools” existence, I went with the “drag my ass to Pepboys” plan instead.

I came home with an impressive looking lug wrench and, after thinking that I had gotten the wrong size (only to find that every one of the 4 fittings on there was different), I got the lug nuts loose with my massive strength.

Also with a great deal of help from the concept of leverage.  Simple machines make work easier.  I wish I also had required a pulley and an inclined plane, because then this would be an even MORE exciting post!

Long story longer, I managed to get the donut on and I cheered for myself, and pat myself on the hip where I have a gold star tattoo for situations just like this.  I didn’t even bother to wash my hands or face.  I just got in the car and decided to take the risk of getting down the street to the auto repair place.  Obviously, as I sputtered down the road at a relative snail’s pace with my blinkers on (envisioning the donut suddenly flying off the car due to my shoddy installation job), I was loudly singing the theme to Indiana Jones.

Obviously.

I made it there alive and without any impressive several car pile ups, and surprised the people working there when they realized that I had changed the tire myself.  I was probably just projecting that they were impressed.  The one guy asked if I had done it myself after seeing my dirty hands and the fingerprints on my face.  “You know you can go wash your hands in the sink over there…” Yup, totally awe struck.  I know.  I know it had nothing to do with the fact that I looked like I dropped the car off by jumping out of it while it was moving or anything.

So yes, I changed a tire by myself and was proud about it and also knew that had I told some people the story, they would have been like “Why didn’t Wes do it for you?” Some people did say “Why don’t you go wake up, Shaun?”

Here’s the thing: I accept that statistically, men are overall stronger physically than women.  I know that sometimes it just makes more sense to get a dude to carry heavy things for me because it’s not going to take as much of a toll on them BUT I also think that being able to change a tire is something that every able-bodied should know how to do and, given the proper tools, should be able to do.  When I was younger, I wanted to prove something all the time and proclaim that I didn’t need help.  I still do that, but I am learning to assess when I really need help and when I’m just being lazy.  In the case of the tire, Wes had to get to work and I wasn’t going to ask him to do this for me when I was perfectly capable of doing it (especially since I was at home when I discovered it).  I wasn’t going to go wake Shaun up a few hours earlier than he normally would be up unless there was no option. On Facebook I answered the question of “wake up Shaun” with, “I ultimately was happy to have done it myself.  Women are strong like bull.”

I mention this only because of the implied Russian accent needed to say that sentence properly.

I was jokingly calling this whole thing an Adventure in Women’s Lib, and perhaps it was in the way that the whole day was a lot about gender equality and saying fuck you to gender roles.  I changed a tire on my own and refused to be a damsel in distress (even though I was frustrated as all get out).  Then I walked with Shaun to go pick up a pizza I ordered and he explained to me why he thought the Nietzsche book he was reading was brilliant and unique (then he read a passage to the dog later…she was patient, but confused).  Then Wes came home and made dinner while I sat on the porch with a crossword puzzle and a glass of wine.

Then more friends of ours came over and we sat in the hot tub for hours, drinking way too much for a Tuesday night.

Life is mundane and absurd and amazing.  I like to look at this more as People’s Lib rather than Women’s Lib because at our house, no one really follows any kind of normal definitions.  And I call it quite the privilege.

Gina Wars: Return of the…Um…Not Jedi, but Something Equally Cool.


*THUD! A girl you recognize has appeared before you, accompanied by a loud crash.*

Oh, hi, Polyskeptic readers! It’s me, that other writer who gets a blurb on the bio page.

*Our narrator has fallen out of nowhere and is having a bit of trouble getting up.  She looks around and notices that she is being watched by the entire internet and resolves to get her ass up.  She dusts off her shoulders and notices that she’s getting old as she bends down to pick up her glasses from the ground. She turns to face…the internet…fixes her hair a bit, though she knows that it doesn’t really make a difference.  It’s hard to get rid of that “I just fell off of something” look.  A smile curls across her face.*

Good to see you’re still here.  Thank goodness Shaun, Ginny and Wes decided that writing was a good idea because yeesh.  I have been at a complete loss for words over the last several months!

I know, you are shocked and I don’t blame you, but honestly, had I been writing all this time, I likely would have been doing a whole lot of whining and no one actually likes reading that crap.  If it makes you feel any better, I also wasn’t particularly updating my Facebook page! I KNOW! Sacrilege.  But again, had I been less disciplined about that, I would have possibly put up a bunch of vague “Oh I’m so disappointed in…people…and I am so…upset…and stuff…” kind of statuses, prompting people to send me eHugs and while I would possibly appreciate the sentiment, it wouldn’t have really helped.  What I’m saying is ranting to Facebook is only acceptable to me if I can be hilarious while doing it.  I used to illustrate the ups and downs of my day with appropriate YouTube videos, but alas I cannot access them at work anymore.

So, where have I been?  What have I been doing?  Well, to put it simply, I have been engaged in an epic battle for equal pay at my job.  The story itself is boring at this point.  The important thing is that I started this debacle in January and just today got final written proof of my victory.  Yes, 6 months of fighting.

Now, firstly, I say that it was epic because it felt that way to me…but part of the frustration I was experiencing was that it wasn’t particularly epic to anyone who could make important decisions.  What happened was several months of me arguing and fighting by proxy at the powers that be and getting odd responses that, in some ways, amounted to “well, yeah, I know she’s been here a long time and is important and stuff, but is she really that great?  I mean, what does she DO?”  I internalized a lot of that and it started to seriously take its toll on me.

Secondly, when I say “equal pay”, I’m not referencing a gender inequality thing. At least, I was never able to fully buy that any of this was related to that.  I suppose the case could be made, but I really don’t think so.  The crux of this whole thing was that I wanted to stop limping along to getting my market value.  I wanted to stop having to scream about this every couple of years. I wanted it done so that I could stop fighting and just work…and I didn’t think that was a ridiculous thing to ask for.

It is, however, rare to manage what I have managed, and based on the fact that I felt like I was getting the crap beat out of me often during the process, I can certainly see why.  But I won, damn it, and now I can get back into doing what I’m good at and feeling balanced and calmer. And I know that I am valued enough to keep me happy, at market value…and that’s pretty excellent.

This was an important experience though for a whole host of reasons, the biggest being that I needed to show myself that I could fight for me like this.  I was relatively convinced that I was going to lose and almost gave up a few times, but my family wouldn’t let me.  I would come home and tell them the latest piece of the saga and they would echo my initial reactions and I wouldn’t feel so nuts anymore…but it was hard, because in the end I was the only one who could do anything.

The experience also reminded me how much depression lies and how hard it is to separate yourself from it even when you know what it is and what is causing it.  I felt very lucky to be medicated, because I don’t know how I would have gotten through it without Zoloft honestly.  I still had days where I was having to go to the bathroom at work to cry and I wasn’t able to leave it all at work when I went home.  I was sensitive and insecure.  The stress was wreaking havoc on my mind and body.  It got to the point where I was convinced not only that I was unintelligent and worthless, but also that I was ugly and completely unsexy.  I could barely look at myself in the mirror some days.  And I knew that it was an illusion, that I was looking at myself and thinking about myself with an ugly, terrible filter, but I couldn’t remove the haze.  Finally, I ended up with strep throat and antibiotics waged war on my innards and my thoughts too and I came into work after Memorial Day weekend completely fed up with the entire process.  And finally, after all of that, I got the first good news I needed: a reasonable proposal of compensation and a promise that it was being discussed and that decisions would be official soon.

It took several days for this to sink in.  Even when I got the official word, I was still in disbelief and I was still fighting off residual negativity (this is why primal scream therapy would not work for me at all.  Allow rage and negativity forward leaves burn that takes a long time to heal), BUT I could feel the haze lifting finally.

So I’m back.  I feel like writing again and I have things to say and I don’t have this general feeling that nothing matters and that no one cares.  I missed my own passion and gusto and not caring about whether I looked like an airbrushed magazine mutant.  I was aware of all these seemingly ridiculous notions, and being aware that they are ridiculous served as a light at the end of the tunnel.  “You know this is circumstantial and chemical.  This is not eternal.  This is a down in a life of ups and downs.”  And now I have burlesque shows to write about and the hilarity of family life at the Polyskeptic compound.  I am stronger now than I was before…or at least, have a bit of a sense of humor about it.  That’s pretty much the same thing, right?

Being the Best Version of Myself: Part Three


Read Part One here.

Read Part Two here.

Part Three: You Are Not a Special Snowflake, or You Are Special Just Like Everybody Else

We’d all like to think that our particular set of circumstances, challenges, disorders, strengths, whatever, make us a special case. And I won’t disagree with that.  I’ll take it a step further.  We are all bags of chemicals brought together by the forces of an entropic reality.  Literally.  The Big Bang happened and after millions of years some star stuff came together randomly and created carbon and voila, here we are as a species.  And each individual is unique in our molecular structure and our chemical requirements for health.  This is why I don’t say “Zoloft worked for me, so it will work for you.” That’s idiotic.  Sure, it might.  My brain is configured differently than your brain. It might be similar enough that the same dose of the same chemical might right the imbalance causing our ever present anxiety…but it might not.  The variety of deficiencies that there might be is vast and once we decide that our mood disorders have a chemical component (which I suppose they all do because that is all we are, including our emotions…chemical reactions and electrical storms)…a chemical component that we can’t control ourselves simply with water and a positive attitude…we have to approach it like we’re chemists.  What reactants result in what products?  I will admit that the fact that I am a chemist helped me immensely in weathering the first weeks of Zoloft.  I trusted in the scientific method, including the theory, hypothesis, and experiment.  For me, the results fit the hypothesis.  Lucky me.

But really, what I mean here is that we are all human and have to deal with our shit.  Just because our specific shit is different from other people’s doesn’t mean that we are exempt from dealing with it.  Just as we shouldn’t assume that we can solve other people’s problems by applying our own experience and personalities to them, we shouldn’t assume that our suffering or challenges are unique and beyond opinion.  Those outside of us can often have a lot to offer in terms of perspective and clutching to your belief that one can only have helpful insight if they too have suffered in the exact same way as you will leave you alone and dealing with things only through your own filter.  No, of course people who have not gone through the same things as you can fully understand the depth of your feelings.  This doesn’t mean they can’t understand them at all and it doesn’t mean that they mean to devalue your experience or insult you when they want to help.

Again, I will mention that trauma is a bit of a different story and while I think the same general idea stands, I understand that being open to outside opinion about feelings on a traumatic event is difficult and sometimes unwise.  I haven’t had a lot of severe trauma in my life, so I will be the first to say that I don’t know what it’s like to deal with that.

Another facet of this is that it is dangerous when we start to define ourselves by our faults.  It is important to accept our faults, but it should be an acceptance with the caveat that you don’t accept these faults as immoveable things.

I guess what I’m talking about here is that we all have to grow up.  To me, being an adult has never been defined by my career, my degree, giving up watching cartoons or playing with toys, not having fun, or my stock options.  For me, my sense of being an adult is connected deeply to my personal growth, my ability to take care of myself and others, being responsible about practical things and emotional things, being honest, having integrity, setting goals and coming up with feasible plans to attain those goals, and ultimately being an adult with this good life I have is about being happy and taking the steps I need to in order to maintain a general sense of fine.  Happiness is not a constant state of being.  It is a goal that colors my actions and my outlook.

When I hear people say “I don’t handle that approach well” or “I don’t respond well to that”, I don’t often hear “and this is why” as a follow-up.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to at least know yourself well enough to know the things that trigger negative responses from you, but I think that it’s important to then take the next step towards growing.  It’s not that I never say things like this, but I have trained myself to ask why I feel certain ways when certain approaches are used.  And usually, I find that my reasons for reacting poorly are based in an insecurity and I make the decision to work on reacting more positively in the future.  This is usually in response to someone trying to reach out to me when I am having an issue with something.  If I lash out because of the approach, it’s important that I stand back and acknowledge that I just lashed out at someone trying to help me.  Why did I lash out?  What did I read into what they said?  For me it has often been that I read in a gross error.

And yes, sometimes people are assholes and you should tell them so.  Most of what I’m saying here is how to deal with people who are being reasonable and earnest.  But yeah, a lot of time people are full of shit and you should call them out on it.  You have to question your own specialness, but you have to question everyone else’s claims of specialness too.  This has been a huge challenge for me.

I had to challenge myself to accept that I am special and not special all at the same time.  I am an individual but my individuality does not give me a pass on growing as a person.  It means that I have to apply the things I see and learn to my own circumstances and see how everything fits together.  It doesn’t mean that I can declare that I am not part of the world and everybody leave me alone and I get to be mad if I want to.  Sure, I have every right to be that way, but it wouldn’t make me happy.  Are the obstacles we put in our own way things that define us?  Some things are constants.  Most things are variables.  But are the things we call constants actually constants?  And if they are, how can we work with the variable to make the constants have less of an impact?  This is how I look at myself and my world.

Again, maybe being a scientist helps.

So there you have it.  This is how I do it.  This is my approach to the world.  I took on this world view and approach before I ever thought about taking anti-depressants.  The Zoloft just let me carry these philosophies out without so much fear and anxiety.  It took away the edge.  I am brazen in the face of my own bullshit and I am the best possible version of myself at this time.  Halle-fucking-juah!

Being the Best Version of Myself: Part Two


Read Part One here.

Part Two: Be Honest With Yourself and Others

Really, this needs to be part of Step One.  You must be honest if you’re going to get anywhere.  But what I’m talking about here is being willing to admit things about yourself and say them out loud.  This is something that you have to do forever until you die, in every situation.  You must have humility when it comes to your own short comings.  And you must admit them if your outlook is ever to change.

You see, belief in something doesn’t make it true.  As we have heard these days, depression lies and, as Jessie said recently, it is an expert liar that tells you exactly the lies you are primed to believe.  If you refuse to say your fears and insecurities out loud, no one will be able to be the voice of reason that you so often need.

If you are depressed and miserable and insecure, you simply can’t trust yourself to be in touch with reality.  We look for evidence to back up our biggest fears and it’s everywhere because the filter you have colors it that way.  It creates a haze on the truth and makes it easy to fill in the gaps with what you know must be the case. “Nobody loves me.” “If they knew who I really was, they would leave.” “I am not worth anyone’s trouble.”

So you need to trust the people you have allowed to be close to you, because there will be times when you can’t trust yourself.  If you can’t trust them, they should not be close to you.  I am very lucky as I trust those close to me to tell me what’s what.  I have trusted untrustworthy people in the past to do the same and it was very harmful…of course, I learned a lot, but harmful it was.

Once you trust them, you must be willing to say the ridiculous things in your head out loud.  Sometimes hearing them articulated in the air is enough to make you aware of their ridiculousness.  Sometimes you need someone to tell you.  Eventually you will learn to hear this yourself most of the time.

And sometimes, your fears will not be ridiculous and people will be able to confirm that to help you.  But you must also be willing to fight back and delve deeper when you are not satisfied that your fears are unfounded.

The point here is to always be communicating and processing.  But communication and process are useless if they are based on false premises.  You might honestly believe something that is wrong.  Admit it, then think about and understand why it is wrong and figure out how to incorporate that into your world view.

I have had to do this SO MUCH.  I have had to challenge everything EVERYTHING I think is true about me and the rest of world in order to get anywhere.  I started with having to admit all the negative things that I thought.  But then I even had to question and analyze all the positive things about myself.  I labeled things as “good” that of course have downsides that take away from happiness if done to excess.

For instance, I am not particularly self absorbed.  I think of everyone else first before taking care of myself.  I am selfless.  This is generally considered a good thing because the word selfish has an inherent negative connotation. And yes, I also generally consider it a good thing.  I treat people well.  I am considerate of their needs and do what I can to accommodate people.  I am reliable.  All these things make me quite likeable.  However, I am “selfless” because it makes me happy to take care of people and because I worry that I think of myself first that people will love me less and ultimately leave me.  So, my motivations for selfless acts have a selfish side to them.  And I take this to a level that is sometimes harmful to me.  I ignore what is good for me in order to do what someone else wants, even if what they want is unreasonable.  So we need to be honest about these things.  Everyone is selfish all the time because the choices we make affect how we feel.  Sometimes we make choices that make us feel bad.  We do this because we have a warped view of ourselves and think we deserve to feel bad.  It’s an indulgence.  That might seem counter intuitive, but we, like molecules, yearn to be in our lowest energy state.  It is hard work to be happy and positive and to make healthy choices.  We make unhealthy choices because, even in a perverse way, they make us feel good or “right”.  You might freak out about something even though you could have made the choice to process it more calmly.  I used to do this because I wanted attention and took the negative attention route to get it.

We have to admit when we are making a choice.  Sometimes you have to just say, “I just want to be angry right now”.  For me, this is key, because being angry or upset is not often particularly helpful in finding a solution to the root cause.  My goal is to find solutions for the things that plague me, not to simply indulge in feeling bad.  That doesn’t mean that when I feel that my anger is justified I don’t desire the chance to indulge in feeling righteous.  I am human, after all, but I acknowledge that this is an indulgence…and that it ultimately does more harm than good.

It is true that we feel the way that we feel.  It’s just that it doesn’t end there and us feeling the way we feel does not require others to be responsible for these feelings.  Feelings are irrational in that people react differently to different stimuli based on their own set of circumstances and brain chemistry.  When you have a negative emotional reaction to a certain type of situation over and over again, you must be willing to ask yourself why.  Why do I always feel this way when this happens?  What am I afraid of?  What do I believe is going on here and why do I view it as something bad happening to me?

For those of you playing along, this is how I deal with jealousy.  That’s it, plain and simple.  When you are feeling jealous about your partner and another person, you’ve got to accept that you feel jealous (it’s likely nothing higher minded than that…I had to learn that too.  I have a reptilian brain like everyone else), and then ask these questions…and then say the answers out loud to your partner.  Do I manage to not ever feel jealous or have it manifest in a less than fortunate way? No.  It still happens.  It will be with me forever, but it is not who I am.  I deal with it when it comes up as productively as I can.  These days I am more often successful than not and that’s great.

I may have neglected one thing here: Sometimes your fears will be based on reality and you have to be prepared to hear that and process it.  The name of the game here is seeking the truth and making choices based on that truth.  It doesn’t mean that the truth is always pretty.

I dated someone for a while who always confirmed my fears and insecurities.  I would ask the questions about what I was worried about and would often find out that I was right about what was going on.  It sucked, but I was glad to at least know the score and not feel delusional.  This is a gift in its own rite.

I say this unequivocally: Honesty is the best policy.  Just because it hurts doesn’t mean that it isn’t the way you should live.  Life is suffering.  It is also joy.  Both should be experienced with knowledge of the truth.  Joy based on lies is ultimately suffering.  Suffering based on lies is suffering that didn’t need to be.

Life 101: Open up your god damn mouth and speak the truth you think you know.  It will be challenged.  Listen.  Accept or reject. Incorporate or fight until the truth is found.

You are not living fully if you refuse to do this. I don’t believe in an afterlife, so I don’t want to waste my time anymore.

Being the Best Version of Myself: Part One


When I come out to people as polyamorous, I generally get the response, “I could never do that”.  After I reveal that I have suffered from severe jealousy issues and insecurity, I usually get the question, “How do you do it???”  I usually give a concise answer as no one has hours to listen to me articulate how I actually do it.  What I usually say is “Well, it wasn’t easy, but it was worth it, so I make it work and grow as a person.”  That is not a lie.  It’s just a really simple way of putting and maybe makes it sound like I’m some kind of Zen master who never had to work hard at anything.  This, my friends, could not be further from the truth (as you could probably guess).

As it turns out, I have a very particular approach to these things.  I have a very specific approach to my life and how to become the best I can in it.  I have kept a lot of this to myself and not out here in the blogosphere because I see it as somewhat controversial and I thought it might offend people.  It probably will.  I expect to be judged by everyone all the time.  Sometimes we are judged in a good light.  Sometimes we are judged badly.  Anyway, this ended up being quite long, so I will be posting it in three parts.

Introduction:

To put it simply, my philosophy about relationships, dealing with personal and practical issues, and life on Planet Earth in general is “Just Fucking Do It”.

Don’t tell Nike.  There might be some copyright infringement there.

Now, “Just Fucking Do It” is pretty simple, but do not assume that it lacks complexity.  Just getting over things and moving forward takes a tremendous amount of work and commitment.  AND YOU WILL FAIL OVER AND OVER AGAIN.  But the net gain is progress towards the person you want to be.

First, some preliminaries that are true about me:

FACT: My primary goal in life is to be happy.  I do not consider something a success if it does not result in increased happiness about my life in general.

FACT: Success to me is defined by my own happiness. The happiness of those around me adds immensely to my own happiness.

FACT: I give as much as I can and expect little in return.  All I expect from those close to me is honesty, respect, a willingness to take hard looks at themselves, and a commitment to self improvement.  OK, maybe I ask for a lot.  Whatever.  Everyone should expect these things from people close to them.

FACT: Trauma makes all of what I am about to say harder and adds another element to a person’s hierarchy of needs.  Some people need more help coming to terms with and learning to live productively with the things that have happened to them before they can be in truly healthy relationships and circumstances.  It is for this reason that I wish mental health services were as easy to get and as stigma-free as flu shots.

Part One: Who Do You Want to Be?

This is a hard question for a lot of people to answer and people conflate answering it with not being true to themselves. Incorrect.  You are not written in stone.  Your challenges in life are not immovable objects and you are not doomed to suffer from them for all eternity.  Some people have larger boulders to haul then others, but nothing is permanent.

That being said, you will never be rid of your challenges completely.  Elements of them, remnants of them will always be there.  However, if you commit to the idea that they do not have to rule you and that you have the power to attain tools with which to manage them, they do not have to define you.  You do not have to say “This is just who I am”.

For me answering this question was pretty easy.  There was a version of me that the “public” saw and a version of me that people saw in private.  I wanted to be the public version of me all the time.  She is confident, honest, outgoing, happy and calm. She doesn’t hide her struggles but deals with them head on.

And so it was that I was thrust into some things that brought out my issues in full force.  My choice was either to suffer with them and be miserable or to analyze their root causes and determine ways to live with them productively.  My choice was either to view myself as a victim of circumstance (in my case, being born with a docile and obedient personality, and then having my sense of value nurtured to revolve around how hard I work and what I can give to others), or view myself as someone empowered to change and take charge of myself and my future.

To me, the choice was clear.

So, you make a choice and you commit to that choice.  Commitment is key.  Commitment is the thing that keeps temporary failures from feeling like permanent ones.  Commitment means that every day is a new day to get back on track.

But it is very important that you are the person YOU want to be and not what you think other people want you to be.  You can not do this for other people.  The underlying goal must be for self improvement for your own happiness and well being.  This will, of course, benefit those close to you and I would be lying if this wasn’t a motivational factor for me.  I love very awesome people and they deserve the best I have to offer.  But it wasn’t THE motivational factor.

Full disclosure: I had been working on these things for years as I didn’t think it was right that I was so miserable as a teenager and young adult.  I made progress, but it was slow.  It was not until Wes and I decided to open up our relationship and I had to deal with the reality of what that meant and how I felt in the face of real practice that my need and desire for huge leaps in dealing productively with my personal issues became basically the most important thing in my life.  And this was not simply because I wanted to have the best possible relationship, but also because the skills and improvements needed to be happy in my relationship were skills and improvements I needed to be happy in all areas of my life.

For instance, I used to be a generally negative, jealous, envious person.  This may surprise some of the people who know me, but it is quite true.  I didn’t realize how far reaching these qualities were until I found myself jealous about things like people having days off when I didn’t or people having more money than I did.  I held people’s successes against them if they didn’t have to work hard for them.  I suffered regularly from “Grass is Greener” syndrome, always thinking that other people were living more interesting lives than I or thinking that “I would be happy if I was doing…something else.” I refused to acknowledge that it is valid to try to fix what’s wrong in your current situation before up and leaving everything and starting over.  My dad was famous for saying, “Who’s always there when you are upset? You.” And in my case, ultimately, it was in fact me that was the common link amongst all my issues.  My outlook was a cloudy filter that made everything I was and did look bad.  And so it became my goal to attain a new filter.

A Guy Walks into a Bar and Orders Twelve Bottles of Heineken…


I went to a convention this weekend.  Specifically, I went to Wicked Faire: A categorical hodgepodge of geekery that encompasses cosplay, gaming, Steampunk, Renn Faire, super heroes and villains, cartoons, horror movies…really just about anything you can think of.  There’s tons of music and arts and vendors galore.  It is a convention for misfits, where you stand out like a sore thumb if you look “normal”.

Because of the Steampunk/Renn Faire aspect of this thing, there’s also an abundance of well supported breasts.  Corsets abound as well as various other types of clothing that accentuate the female form (whether or not you happen to be female).

For instance, I spent the entirety of Saturday wearing this:

IMAG0182

I got it from Utopia Armory and while it’s a bit expensive(you get to pick the colors and it is made just for you.  Mine cost $175 which took me all year to pay off, haha), the work is worth every penny.

Now, I haven’t posted this picture out of vanity.  I posted it simply to show you what I felt comfortable wearing at this convention.  Yes, I have done burlesque routines. Yes, I have been known often to wear tight clothes and low cut shirts.  This has been an evolution, as I hid my body for a large part of my youth, either because I was embarrassed by my lack of development (I was a late bloomer) or because I bought into our victim blaming culture and didn’t want my clothing to get me raped.

Sigh…that is so depressing, but it’s hard to overcome that kind of programming.  The great thing about the people I surround myself with now, and with conventions like Wicked Faire, is that consent and boundaries are important.  People at Wicked Faire can feel free to walk around in whatever they want and nobody gets on their case about it.  I hardly hear any negative comments about what people are wearing, and the compliments flow…but the compliments are often without ulterior motive.  I got a few comments about how beautiful this outfit was and then the comment giver would walk away.  In fact, I didn’t get hit on at all the entire weekend…by convention goers.

Of course, on Saturday night, Wes and Jessie went to bed and I decided to stay up and go to the dance party going on.  It was taking some time to set up for the DJ, so I meandered around and decided to go get a glass of wine at the hotel bar.  There was a DJ in there too and there were several convention attendees there getting’ down.  It also looked like there were several people who were not part of the convention (I think the hotel bar doubles as a local pub for the area).

So I’m sitting at the bar minding my own business (and quite enjoying simply sipping wine and people watching…I felt completely pleasant not feeling compelled to talk to people), but wearing the outfit in the photo above.  This guy comes in and did not seem to be a conference guy.  He ordered 12 bottles of Heineken from the bartender, who starts loading them up in plastic bags and fist bumps the guy.  And then this happened.  Italicized portions my commentary on these events:

I’ll be honest, I was already judging the guy for getting a bunch of Heineken.  I hate Heineken.  I like saying Heineken, but that’s just because it’s fun to say German words.  Heineken, or rather “Heinekenz” is also part of a favorite bartending story of my sister wherein a guy came in an ordered a “Cabobby-ay and Yoo-Hoo and a Heinekenz fo’ ma lady.”  But beyond that, I was thinking, Heineken, really?  So, he was already losing.  Incidentally, Shaun ordered a PBR the first time we went to a bar together and I make fun of him for it to this day. Anyway, clearly the guy was not there to simply have me critique his beer choices.

The Dude sidles up closer to me and says, “Are you here alone?”

Me: The people I am with are milling around the convention.

Dude: So, you’re alone.

Me: At the moment, yes.

Please note that after every response I gave I would immediately turn away from him and not make eye contactMy answers were short and clearly disinterested…except for the fact that I was answering at all.  Women talking to you means they WANT you, don’t you know.

Dude: ‘Cause, if I was with you, I wouldn’t leave your side!

Awesome! I bet you also would punch any guy in the face who looked at me! That would mean you love me!!! Awwww! Also, I wasn’t too impressed with you when you first invaded my personal space and you’re looking worse by the second.

Me: Eh.

Dude: ‘Cause…you’re hot.  I mean, seriously, you are SMOKIN’.

Years ago I worked at a coffee shop, and there was this creepy guy that came in all the time and looked at me strangely and it made me uncomfortable.  Unfortunately, he also bought stuff for his boss, so I couldn’t just be like “Stop being creepy and get out”.  One day he silently crept over to where I was making a latte and appeared suddenly.  “HI!” he said.  “AHHHH!” I replied.  “Oh, I didn’t mean to scare you.  ‘Cause I think you’re all that and a bag of chips.” That is all I thought of when this guy said I was “smokin’”.

Me: (with visible facial scowl): Thanks.

Dude: Do you like girls?

What a segueway! Now, I knew that he was really asking because “girls making out is automatically hot” and probably wanted to know if I would entertain him that way.  Barf.  I decided to answer truthfully in the hopes he would think I was a lesbian and leave me alone.

Me: Yes.

Dude: What kind of girls you like?

Me: Nerds, obviously.

Dude: Do you like tits or ass?

I thought this was great.  I was dumbfounded and couldn’t bring myself to be like, “Oh, right, those are the only options for liking women.  Sorry…I forgot about that for a second.” I was angry, too.  What a ridiculous conversation.  I’m assuming the guy was drunk already, though no speech slurring or inability to stand or walk straight.  He might have just been an asshole.  Also, I don’t give people a pass if they’re drunk.  Being drunk is not a reason that I will accept your asshole behavior.  One time a while ago an ex-friend of mine had two MUDSLIDES and, upon hearing some news I relayed to her about a project we were working on, she called me a list of nasty things and said that I don’t care about anyone but myself. She then said, “Well, I’ve been drinking, but still fuck you.”  Two mudslides do not give you free reign to call people names and 12 Heinekens don’t make me be OK with you asking about I like to reduce women to their bodies best.

Me: (Infuriated scowl)

Dude: So who are you here with? Your boyfriend?

Um, did you miss the conversation we just had about me liking girls?  Way to be a heteronormative fuckwad.  I mean, yes, I was there with Wes, but he had no reason to assume that I was there with a male. Of course, at this point, I certainly wasn’t going to tell him that my husband was elsewhere with his girlfriend because I didn’t want this douche to think he had any chance with me at all.  So I did the best thing I could.

Me: I’m here with my HUSBAND (and I flashed the wedding ring).

Dude: OH! I’m sorry! Oh man! I’m sorry.  I’ll go.  Is it Ok?

Me: (scowl) Just go.

And he disappeared into the night.  There was so much to be annoyed about.  Firstly, even though I had not mentioned men (“the people I am with” “yes I like girls”) he assumed that I was there with “my man”.  Next, I love that it would have been OK if I had been there with my boyfriend (because that’s temporary, amirite?) but as soon as he found out that I was married, he had decided that he had committed an egregious faux pas and ran away.  I mean, sure, I am living a life which does not value exclusivity with partners, but I respect people’s relationships.  The idea that marriage is the only commitment that you can make that can be a kryptonite against douchebags (because they apparently respect the “sanctity of marriage” but not the agency of a woman sitting alone at a bar) sickens me.  It sickens me more than the fact that if you go to a club without a man, you get accosted like a piece of meat, but your friend who came with a dude gets to dance without worry…because of bro codes or someshit.  Or that a little lady’s not going to do anything to fuck you up, but her man will.  I can’t stand the assumption of ownership that is exhibited in exchanges like this.

Anyway, after he ran away with his plastic bags full of Heineken, I finished my wine quickly, now feeling completely uncomfortable being at the bar alone and went to the dance party.  Entering the dance party was like returning to the proper world.  I walked in a no one leered at me or touched me without consent or made assumptions about my sexuality or who “owned” me.  A lot of this is because the there is a lot of overlap between the geek community and the kink community.  Consent and acceptance are pillars of these communities, and while there are plenty in them who don’t get it right, there are many who do and my experience so far at Wicked Fair have shown me that I can feel safe there and that is a really unique and important thing for people to have at least in one place in their lives.

Yes, I used his bro code and misconceptions against him to get him away from me and I always feel a little weird about not being forthcoming with the truth about me and I probably should have just told him to leave me alone but that takes practice and courage that I don’t always have.

But I am reminded once again of what my dad said about how it would be nice if men didn’t feel entitled to possess whatever they looked at that they like because it makes women uncomfortable and then we want to hide.  At Wicked Faire, every attendee got to look at me walking around with my body out for people to ogle, just as I was able to look at all of them.  And I was fine to do it because no one seemed to think they could possess me just because I was there looking pretty.  And one thing that many people at these kinds of events understand is that consent is sexy and having it be important to you often leads to you getting to touch a lot of people, because a lot of times all you have to do is ask…but never just take. I like being touched and kissed and all those fun things, but it is my choice who I do that with and my relationship status is not the thing that should stop you from creeping me out.  My autonomy as a human being is what you should respect, Jackass at the Bar.

Incidentally, there was nothing I found attractive about this guy and would have likely said no to any proposition, but who knows had he not approached me like something less than him, something to be stared at, possessed and then protected from others.

And then, after left and I pondered all this, I thought, “Poor guy.  He probably didn’t know he was bothering a feminist blogger.  Sucks to be him.”

And then I thought, “I think I read too many blogs to deal with normal people anymore with anything other than disdain.  Shit.  Oh well, at least I’m a big weirdo.”

A Word About My Dad, For His Birthday


Last night I went to the supermarket for various things and nearly didn’t make it past the produce department at the entrance due to the Valentine’s Day Madness that was in progress.  The market had a ginormous display of flowers (flowers they always sell, but this time they were $10-$20 more expensive).  There were balloons EVERYWHERE and giant hanging cutouts of King and Queen playing cards with some stupid “Meant to Be” slogan next to them.  I can’t remember exactly what the slogan was, but you can fill in the blank.

For the record, I don’t hate Valentine’s Day.  I never have.  Being single on Valentine’s Day never bothered me.  Admittedly, I haven’t been single on Valentine’s Day in many years, but when I was a young, awkward teenager with one tale of unrequited infatuation after another, I still didn’t care if I had, specifically, a Valentine.  In the years since, I have enjoyed Valentine’s Day as an excuse to do something slightly more “special” than normal.  But I generally do that often regardless of Hallmark Sanctioned Celebration Days.  Wes and I have never particularly tried to get reservations anywhere.  We usually would have steaks or something at home (my official “celebrate anything” choice).  I like flowers, sure, but I buy them for myself…whenever…and think it’s stupid that prices go up just because significant others who don’t do much any other time of the year MUST do something on Valentine’s Day so that they aren’t given scathing reviews around the water cooler the next day.

Wes and I did do something in particular for our first Valentine’s Day together.  He made me coconut shrimp and then we went to see an opera about Nicola Tesla.  It was a “work in progress” and the music was written by some dude who had been part of Philip Glass’ orchestra or something.  It was…terrible.  However, it has given us years of amusement singing parts of it randomly.

“Myyyyyy TOWAAAAAAAAAH!” (Referencing his giant Tesla coil power generating tower thingy)

“Nicolaaaaa Teslaaaaaaaaaaaaa….” (This was sung no less than 100 times during the hour long show).

In conclusion, we use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to eat slightly fancier delicious things in the confines of our own home, play Wii Frisbee while drinking wine, and talking about how jewelry store commercials make me want to puke and that if Wes ever came home with their “meaningful diamond pendant of the year” I would laugh in his face.  Yes, I would probably wear it, but I would laugh at it because I hate them.  It would be wearing a piece of comedic jewelry for me and I would appreciate it for the same reasons that I appreciate Deathrace 2000 or Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen.

This year, however, is a little different.  My dad’s birthday is this week, and with everyone’s schedules being as complicated and busy as they are, it worked out that my family could all get together tonight to celebrate.  My mom, sister, and I are cooking a nice dinner. I have a cake cooling at home that will hopefully come out of the pan when I get home tonight…and we’ll spend a nice time.

Growing up, I took a lot of things about family for granted.  For instance, it was rare that my parents and I would not have a sit down dinner together.  And we would actually talk at the table.  We had the television on usually, but it was mainly there for noise.  We talked about our days.  I didn’t realize that many people didn’t do that.  In the mornings, we would all sit on the couch listening to NPR and having a cup of coffee together (or whatever it was I was drinking when I was 15).  My dad and I usually left for work/school at the same time and I walked with him a lot, as he worked in Center City.  Spending time together was important, but it wasn’t a stated thing.  We just did it.

As it is my dad’s birthday, I have been thinking about the fact that I also took for granted that my dad has influenced me and been supportive of me over the years.  Firstly, when he and my mom were expecting, he stated that he really wanted a girl.  And he has never been that dad who is overprotective and willing to kill any man who so much as looks at me.  He has always encouraged me to be my own person and has trusted me to take care of myself and make my own decisions.  Hearing many women I know talk about their dads has made me realize again how unique my situation growing up was.

Additionally, I can blame my dad fully for my sense of humor and general peculiar outlook on the world.  You can file your complaints with him if you are so inclined.  My dad is hilarious and has sent me into hysterical, debilitating fits of laughter over small ridiculous comments.  I wish that I could outline some of these things here and have them make sense, but maybe it’s even better out of context.

  1. Well, that guacamole sucked.
  2. That guy thinks he’s the cat’s ass.
  3. The butler was hit by a falling gargoyle.
  4. Seriously? They have a book called The Unwritten Rules of Engineering?
  5. I’m glad that the Army Corps of Engineers uses the Liberty Bell as a simple of engineering excellence.

My dad likes to sing teenage death songs randomly, as well as terrible other girl group songs from that era.  If you mention anything close to the phrase “party lights” (which happens surprisingly often), he will sing, “I see the lights, I see the party lights.  They’re red and blue…aaaaand gree-eeeen!” in terrible falsetto.  I heard this song playing in a Rite Aid once and nearly died laughing because I can not hear it without hearing him in the woman’s place.  We also regularly like to sing “Torn Between Two Lovers” and figure out all the words that rhyme with “fool”, because the song makes just as much sense regardless of what you say.

I realize that none of that is particularly funny to anyone reading it, even though I am currently having trouble writing because I’m giggling so much.  My dad and I crack each other up with absurdity and ridiculousness and I have always really appreciated that.

My dad always encouraged me to embrace my strangeness.  He praised all my weird clothes and usually encouraged me to buy weirder clothes.  He bought me my first pair of granny glasses shades, after I had moved on from John Lennon round ones.  He took me to get my nose pierced.  He took the time to carefully paint my hair with emerald green Manic Panic with a paint brush so that it didn’t get on my skin.

My dad taught me how to play the guitar.  He buys me gadgets for rock music and loves to see Arcati Crisis rock out.  He introduced me to the Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa.  When I graduated from 8th grade, he gave me greatest hits compilations for The Yardbirds and The Animals.  He gave me Cream, The Rolling Stones, Canned Heat, and The Doors.  Yeah, my music taste is his fault too.

He helped me with math and science homework, making fun of word problems as much as I did.  He never said there was anything I couldn’t do.  He never saw my gender as any kind of barrier to my success in life, so I never viewed it that way.

One day, when I was bitching about being harassed on the street by some asshole who has boundary issues and thinks that him hooting and hollering at me is a productive avenue of communication, my dad said, “You know, I don’t understand why men don’t understand that if they just shut the fuck up and respected women’s space that women would walk around freely wearing less in the summer and we’d get to look at them.  Now we can’t because men are assholes.”

And there you have it, folks.  This is why I don’t understand why these things are so difficult.  At an early age my dad talked to me about not understanding why street harassment happens, that the world is a better place when people can walk around the way they want to without fear of being bothered.  Sure, in this case he was talking specifically about wishing that women felt more comfortable so that everyone could enjoy looking at pretty ladies, but it applies to so much else.  My dad never encouraged me to walk around as anyone except who I am.  He never wanted to change me.  He simply wanted me to be exactly the thing I was.

So, happy birthday, Dad!  This is possibly a minor gift when compared to how much you have given me, but sometimes you just have to take some time to really thank someone.  Thank you for how you have helped me become the woman I am.  I am my father’s daughter and I would never have it any other way.

Being Honest About Loving More


“So…I figured I should just come in here and say something before I lost my nerve to say it…”

I sat down in the chair next to my boss’ desk, felt awkward for a second and then just bulldozed through it.

“Well, my family and I are going to be featured in a documentary next month about alternative lifestyles…namely, nonmonogamy.  Wes and I each have long term partners outside of our marriage.  They live with us.  My boyfriend’s wife also lives with us.  It doesn’t really have anything to do with work, but I figured it was about time that I came clean so that I didn’t have to hide my life anymore.”

He took it very well.  It didn’t particularly seem to faze him in the least.

“Cool!” he said, “Seriously, if it makes you happy and doesn’t cause a problem at work, it doesn’t matter to me at all.”

I chatted for a bit about the documentary and how hilarious and sometimes stressful the process was, and then we talked a bit about some work projects, and I went on back to my desk.

A few minutes later I came out to two more coworkers with whom I have worked for years.  The reception was similar.  One was pretty quiet about it, but ultimately seems to be OK.  The other had a ton of questions and I made it clear that no questions were off limits, that he could ask about whatever he wanted.

I went out to lunch today with another coworker and told her. She took it well too and was happy that I felt comfortable enough to open up to her about such things.

I live a charmed life.

***

 Due to lack of funds and some scheduling conflicts, I was unable to attend this year’s Poly Living Weekend, organized by Loving More.  I did go with Shaun for a little while to the closing ceremonies for it on Sunday though (and Wes and Jessie were there long enough to meet the organizer).  Unfortunately, I was having a really bad weekend anxiety and depression-wise.  There are very definite reasons for this…some less than ideal things occurred which threw me ultimately into a spiral.  There will likely be a new Adventure in Therapy post coming soon as well.  So, to anyone who met me and thought me cold and stand offish or an all around mess, I apologize and hope for future opportunities to meet you when I am in a better state of mind.

I would have completely regretted being there in my screwed up state, except one important thing happened: I was made aware how important being out is to a community such as this.

At one point, Robyn Trask, the head honcho over at Loving More, called Shaun and I out into the center of the room to tell everyone that we were some of the people who would be in the documentary (her family is also being featured).  We got a round of applause and some comments from people thanking us for being willing to be out like that…to have our lives put on display so that people can know the awesomeness that is poly family.  I hadn’t really realized what a relatively big deal the documentary might be and I hadn’t considered that it was somewhat special of us to agree to participate.  Perhaps it’s that I blog a lot about my personal life or perhaps because I have grown up being on stage that I don’t always remember how hard it is to put yourself out there.  Don’t get me wrong…I have been nervous about the documentary.  The idea of the world seeing me on television talking about my relationships filled me with a lot of anxiety…but that was mostly because part of my life was still be led dishonestly.  I knew that the airing of the show would out me here because I’m sure someone here will see it.  I felt terrified of having that out of my control.  My mind went to the worst places.  I began to fear that I would lose my job: Gina fired for being peculiar.  I don’t know why I thought that, but stranger things have happened I suppose.  I went through with it anyway though because I knew that it was important.  Visibility is important to movements and there is most certainly a polyamory movement in our midst…one that needs strong and confident voices and those who have the privilege to be able to share their lives with the public without fear.

 ***

Last November I went to a drug store to fill my first prescription for Zoloft.  The pharmacy was next door to a Hair Cuttery.  I looked at the Hair Cuttery and reflected on how long my hair was getting.  Then I realized that the prescription signified the start of a new era in my life.  I usually chop off my hair when such a bench mark is reached and this was no different.  Just like that, I went in and told them to chop off 8 inches of hair.  I went home and dyed it red and took my first pill, hoping for the best.

I make quick decisions like that sometimes.  This morning while waiting for my train in the rain for a Monday at work, I had a moment of calm and clarity and decided that I was going to come out to my boss and some close coworkers about my polyamorous lifestyle.  Nothing in particular happened to make me want to do this, though I expect that having a nasty bout with anxiety this weekend reminded me that things that are bad for my mental health, such as lying about the reality of my life at a place where I spend at least 40 hours a week, must be dealt with and discarded.  Being dishonest about things in your life causes stress, even if you are not fully conscious of it and though I feel a little anxious and exhausted from my disclosures today, I also feel a general weight is being lifted from my shoulders.

Next month our family will be heading down to Atlanta for the Atlanta Poly Weekend and I am looking really forward to it.  Not only will it be my birthday weekend (and we will likely be meeting a whole host of awesome fun people to celebrate my turning 32 with), but we might be semi-celebrities there, which might be pretty entertaining.  But most importantly, I will be able to enjoy it as a fully integrated member of the community, someone living honestly and out as a polyamorous person…a person who would be so much worse off if the support system a polyamorous life has offered me were not here.  I can speak knowing that I am not hiding anywhere anymore and that is a pretty nice birthday present to give myself.

 ***

It’s funny to think that being who you are takes such effort and so much courage.  I was lucky enough to be raised in an environment where individuality was always encouraged but everyone has their limits.  Everyone has things that they worry will bring negative judgment against them and it takes a lot to just say, “Oh fuck it. I know you’re going to judge me no matter what…you may as well judge me for the truth.”  It has seemed absurd to me for a while that something like being intimately committed to more than one person is something that people will judge you negatively for, but I think that about a lot of things that people feel the need to hide in their closets.  But I was scared here.  I had to give myself a pep talk in order to walk into my boss’ office this morning.  I had to give myself a bigger one to tell the next two people.  But what good would I be if I wanted to encourage others who felt capable of being out to do it if I was too afraid to do it myself.  I’ve never felt comfortable asking people to do something that I am not willing to do also…so, my activism had to start with my own behavior.

This won’t really change anything around here.  The only thing it changes is that when I walk around, I am walking around knowing that I’m not hiding this.  It has nothing to do with my job and won’t come into play often, but it matters that my steps will be a little lighter without all this weight making them heavy.  I have this weird feeling like I can start really living now, like completely.  I didn’t really realize that would be the result of this.  It certainly help that people received the news well and here we are.

May you have a good life changing day soon too!

The Molecular Equivalent of Honey Badger


Today Shaun sent me this from PZ Meyers, which links to an article about a pretty bad ass, terrifying molecule:

It’s a beast, all right. The compound is wildly, ridiculously endothermic, with a heat of formation of 357 kcal/mole, all of which energy is ready to come right back out at the first provocation (see below). To add to the fun, the X-ray crystal structure shows some rather strange bond distances, which indicate that there’s a lot of charge separation – the azides are somewhat positive, and the tetrazole ring somewhat negative, which is a further sign that the whole thing is trembling on the verge of not existing at all.

Apparently, this stuff will explode at the drop of a hat, or if you happen to be thinking about a hat while looking at it.  Yep, it’s just going blow the fuck up.  It don’t care.  It don’t give a shit.  It’s the molecular equivalent of a honey badger:

Make a little bit in the lab? BOOM.  Manage to make some and have it not explode but then touch it with a spatula? BOOM. Make some, touch it, and manage to get it into the light of a spectrometer?  BOOM.  This molecule does not give a shit.  It will explode all over your damn lab.  I would venture to say that it would also fuck a honey badger up because it is a nasty ass exploding compound and it does not care about honey badgers.

Though perhaps it is unfair to assume that this molecule wreaks havoc on laboratory environments and the chemists that love them due to sheer James Dean levels of apathy.  Maybe it’s really just the molecular equivalent of Malfunctioning Eddie, who explodes at even the thought of being startled:

Or maybe it just wants to be a star in Michael Bay’s next movie:

Whatever the reason, I am happy to admire these brave, crazy ass chemists from afar.  If they want to do death defying research that results in one picture in a general chemistry book that enables a professor to say, “This is some nasty shit”, then I am all for it.

Intellectual content, shmintellectual shcontent.

Adventures in Therapy: A Cabin in the Woods (Nothing Terrifying…I Hope)


Four years ago I was trying to figure out what to do for Wes’ birthday.  From early on in our relationship, I had wanted to take him away on a ski vacation.  This was not because I like skiing…quite to the contrary.  Wes took me skiing once and what resulted was a day long blooper reel of me falling on my face, my skis flying off my feet skidding across the mountain, and impressive amounts of me rolling around in the snow like some kind of beached whale who fell out of the sky only to find itself in the wrong habitat.

Needless to say, it was not something that I wanted to particularly do again.  But I wanted Wes to get to do it, but ski vacations in places like Vermont are very expensive.  So four years ago I was clicking around on Craigslist and I happened upon an ad for rental of a little 3 bedroom ski chalet in the Poconos only 10 minutes or so from Jack Frost…and it was $300 for the weekend…in January.  This is, I am pretty sure, quite unheard of.  And thus a tradition was born.  We invited a bunch of friends and had a party weekend.  There’s karaoke, a fireplace, copious amounts of booze and food.  It is theoretically a really good time.

And for many, it has been.  For me, however, it has most often been somewhat of a nightmare.

If you have been reading my entries here and at my old blog, you are aware of my journey to mental health.  One of the things I have touched on a lot is that up until recently, I just thought that all my problems were philosophical.  I think that this is a good place to start when trying to improve yourself emotionally, but, as you have read, I eventually zeroed in on a seemingly chemical problem as well.  So you can imagine that with my particular set of challenges, hosting a weekend long party sequestered in the mountains when you struggle with generalized anxiety, depression, and an unrelenting need to take care of people and make everybody happy could be a recipe for disaster.

On the bright side, my issues rarely affected anyone else horribly during the weekend.  Obviously, the people close to me cared and were bothered by it…and it certainly drove me crazy to be such a mess when we were trying to celebrate Wes’ birthday.  The first year happened to be the first year I really started to work to tackle my problems in earnest.  It’s not that I wasn’t working on it before that, but it was that year that I wished to make big strides to be happier because I was so tired of being miserable.  The first year at the chalet was rough and I fell apart multiple times.  The second year was better, but still tough.  The third year was almost perfect except for some unexpected drama that sucked royally.  I am able to look at last year in two parts, pre and post drama and more objectively see that overall, it was a big improvement over previous years.  Each year I made adjustments from what I had learned the previous year and enjoyed more of the party.  I like upward trends like that.

And here we are at year number four and we’re getting ready to head back up there this coming weekend and for the first time since the tradition’s beginning, I am looking really forward to it without a care in the world.  I’m actually excited about it!

I have been wanting to do some sort of 2012 In Review kind of post, but as opposed to previous years where I have various events that I can point to as Important and Worth Enumerating, 2012 feels like an entire devoted to process.

Obviously there were a few Big Deals.  Arcati Crisis began a recording project of Herculean proportions.  Shaun and Ginny got married and then a few months later, they moved in with Wes, Jessie and me.  I stood up for myself in ways that I never have before.   But honestly, it is pretty hard for me come up with a list of the significant because this was the year my mental health became something that I had to deal with in a very big way.

For years I had been dealing with the philosophical: What is it about X situation that bothers me?  Why does it bother me?  Is this the best way to think about it? What can I do to improve the situation and my reaction to this particular stimulus?  Why am I so insecure?  Why do I yearn for the things I do from people?  All these and many other burning questions preoccupied most of my thinking.

And it was really great stuff I was doing.  I made a lot of progress and I can honestly say that my general happiness increased the more I handled things like this head on.  But then I noticed that while my thinking had become considerably more rational and productive, my reactions to things were not…or at least, not to my liking.  It was a daily fight to keep my mind from going to dark and destructive places and much of my time was spent just trying to avoid total meltdowns.  And though I could say rational things to myself, things I knew to be true, I couldn’t quiet the other voice.  A good day was one in which I could feel the anxiety and depression bubbling under the surface, but felt able to keep it at bay.

It was in 2012 that I allowed myself the possibility that additional measures were required to give all this philosophical work I’ve been doing a chance to be the predominant driver of my mind.  And though I have been depressed and full of anxiety for years, I finally decided to try therapy and medication.

And now at about the 6 week mark of taking Zoloft, I can say with a beaming grin that I am doing really well.  I have never felt this good for as long as I can remember.  I don’t wakeup anxious and sad anymore.  I begin each day at a delightful level of OK and generally maintain that level, even if faced with something stressful.  Of course I still get upset about things here and there, but I get upset, deal with them and then I’m done with it.  I don’t tear myself apart for my imperfections.  I actually have the ability to move on from things.  I don’t stew so much and I don’t spiral nearly as often.  And the best part is that I have such increased interest in my life.  I am more creative, more productive, and just plain happier.

I admit that when I first got my prescription, I felt like I was giving up on myself because it was a point of pride that I was able to make so much mental progress through hard work and commitment to a general goal of happiness and stability.  When I started taking it, I was afraid that I was going to get lazy and look at it like some kind of magic pill.  There were moments when I did think that…mainly after moments of disappointment when I felt that the pill had failed me when I got really upset about something.  But eventually its effects evened out and what I was left with was, well, me.

It was not until I had achieved this general feeling of being alright that I realized how much of a goal that had been.  It seems so simple…all I want is to be alright.  Being alright means that I can look at my life and see how amazing it is, how much fun it is, and how rewarding it is.  Some people worry that medication will strip away the parts of them that they like, right along with the parts they don’t.  I can understand that fear, as I shared it.  But all I can say is that I have gotten incredibly lucky here and this treatment pretty much exorcised a nagging demon that kept me from being the person that I knew, deep down, I was.  And now I can see that all the work I did, the life philosophies I adopted in the time leading up to this, are there, ensconced, and effective.  I have not lost the flexibility required for continued growth…I believe it has increased.

So here’s to a new year.  May it be one unobsessed with emotional process.  May that process be simply engrained and positive.  May the accomplishments be viewed with joy and humility and may the setbacks be seen as mere hiccups on the road to a life less ordinary.  May we have health, luck, and love.

And if you have embarked on a similar journey, keep trying but always remember to try hardest to by kind to yourself.  That is the thing that is often the hardest for me.  And know that you are not alone.  This is a journey that ends only when we ourselves end, but it is a trip that is worth it.

In other words, bring it on 2013!