Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Read at Your Own Risk

I am going to warn anyone who clicks on the link for this one right now. I'm going to say things that people might disagree with. That's fine, I'm not writing this to challenge anyone's opinion, or to try and start an argument. All I want to do is offer up my experiences and thoughts, how I see things and feel about certain issues. This isn't normally the sort of thing I touch in any form of social media, but it is something that I feel I need to share.

Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a woman, riddled with anxieties. I've always been that way, though the intensity rises and falls. I don't like to cause problems, I don't like to bother people, I don't like to get into arguments. I rarely give my opinion on tough subjects such as religion, or politics, and just sort of sit back and observe others fighting what I feel is a fruitless battle.  No matter what, people have strong opinions, and they share those opinions passionately, but no matter how passionate, it rarely makes a dent in the beliefs of the opposing side. So, I don't argue. I listen, and read, and form my own thoughts without vocalizing them very much. But once in a while, I'll say something. Speak my mind to someone I trust. My parents, my husband, one or two of my friends.

Today, my father and I had a discussion about the current election, and Donald Trump. I'm not afraid to tell you, my reader, what I have told him more than once. I am disgusted by Donald Trump. I know he has his supporters, and they are entitled to their opinions, I'm not arguing that. All I am saying is that I will never be one of them. He sets off all of the little anxiety alarms set deep in my brain. But Trump isn't really the heart of what I want to discuss here.

My dad is a good, kind, honest man. He is sweet, with a heart far too sensitive for the harsh realities of this world. He doesn't even like to go into pet stores, because it kills him to see all of the animals shut away behind bars. He wants so badly to believe the best of people, and believe in the goodness of humanity. That's why I wasn't terribly surprised when we were talking earlier, and he threw out this cautious, nearly apologetic sentence.

"In the beginning, I really wanted to believe in Trump."

I get it, I really do. I know where my dad is coming from, and we talked a bit more about Trump and Clinton, discussing their faults. Dad made a comment, "all politicians are criminals, he was just honest about it". I have to say, that statement made me feel terribly sad for my father. That he lives in a world, where he truly believes our government is corrupt and out to get him, and that an honest crook would be an improvement to the sneaky ones. But even that isn't what made me write this post. It was what he said when I brought up Trump's treatment of women.

I told Dad that I view Trump as a rapist.

Now...I don't know if I expected a response, exactly. I know my father does not condone rape, and he would never even consider hurting another human being. I guess I expected him to show disgust at the very thought, even non-verbally. What he did, was look away and shrug his shoulders. He didn't defend Trump, but he didn't say anything else either. He just sat there, looking uncomfortable, silent and fidgety, like a little kid caught doing something he shouldn't. My father does not support rape, but the very subject makes him so uncomfortable that he won't even acknowledge the fact another man had committed such a terrible act, allegedly or not. That....that hit me really hard. Maybe more so, because I love my dad, and I know he would never say or do anything to intentionally hurt me, but I also know that he does not understand women at all, though he tries to empathize as much as he can. He understands me only a little better in some ways.

Here's the thing about my experience, starting as a little girl and growing into a woman bubbling over with anxieties. I am about as lucky as a girl can get, statistically speaking. I'm not rich, but I'm a white woman with a college degree (useless as it may be in most cases). I've never had to work multiple jobs to support myself, never lived in true poverty, and have had nothing worse happen to me than a scraped up knee or elbow. I know, I'm very blessed in many ways.

But I'm still scared.

I am scared to walk my dog on a deserted street at night, one where to my knowledge, nothing bad has ever happened. I am scared, because I know, deep in my heart that somewhere, lurking in a bush is someone waiting to jump out and attack. To rape, rob, or kill me. I am scared, because I know there is every possibility that someone in a crowd of people could lash out and grope me, violate me. I am scared because I have seen countless interviews, read countless stories, of women being raped. Being beaten. Being killed. Even people close to me have felt the terror and humiliation and anger of being assaulted. Any day now, it could happen to me too. In college, there was always an underlying fear that I would become another statistic. Another girl attacked on campus, with no way of being avenged, and fighting against a system that didn't care. Thankfully, that never happened, but I know it has, and I feel for those women. It hurts me to know that they've been through something so awful that I can barely comprehend it.

That isn't to say that I'm scared of men. I know, most of the men I encounter, or women even, barely even notice me most of the time. I'm just a piece of background in their lives, as they are in mine. But that nagging fear persists, no matter how logical I am, or how many nights I walk the dog alone and return home unscathed.

But then I think of myself as a kid, all the anxieties and uncertainty. Adults warning me to be careful, to guard myself. To never put myself in a situation where I could become a victim, and I think about my father, shrugging off the notion of rape because it makes him uncomfortable. That even though he doesn't support that sort of behavior, he can't vocally denounce it either. If I had been that shy, nervous little girl of the past, and I had come to him with the same concerns and gotten the same response, it would have made such a huge impact on my life. My dad was my first big male role model. That shrug would have made me look at him in an entirely different way. I would have seen his dismissal, uneasy or otherwise, and taken that as a sign that he did not see the danger in such behavior as I did. That he didn't connect that poor, hurt girl to his daughter. That if something happened to me...he might not fight very hard for justice. That other men would do the same, and turn away when I needed their help and support.

I know this isn't true of course, if anyone hurt me my father would be the first to fight by my side. But those signals are still there, and they lingered in my mind even after we'd talked. Rape, assault, verbal abuse...these things are so easily shrugged off, or ignored for the sake of our own comfort. Hell, I've even done it myself, when a news article gets too real for me to handle. But seeing my father dodge such an important and prominent issue made me realize that I can't keep doing that. I can't just ignore what is happening to other women, be they strangers, or people I care about. That isn't the sort of lesson I want to pass down to my children, should I ever have any. I want them to believe in goodness, and kindness, but I also want them to be strong. I want them to see the problem, and confront it head on. To be brave, and to support those who need it. It's hard...or at least, I think it is. I guess I can't really say from my little hidey hole of silence. But I want to be that sort of person too. I'm hoping that putting this all down will be a decent start.







Friday, September 2, 2016

A Night at Luna Gallery with Buttercup

This may be a difficult post to write, as I am trying to do so while at my sister-in-law's gallery with my dog in attendance. We got here a little early and she has been alternating between running around excitedly and jumping on people and launching herself into my lap to pant and keep me from typing. I am already covered in tiny white dog hairs and the gallery hasn't even officially opened yet.

Tonight is one of the last nights featuring the gallery's Midsummer Night's Dream themed work. It looks like the art has been selling well these past few months, there are more bare spaces on the walls than when it started, and some new things to fill the gaps. Anna is even wearing little hand-made fairy antennae for the occasion.




Appropriately, Anna's got her laptop set up playing lovely music, including the wonderful Loreena McKennitt, who is a favorite of mine. If you don't know her, but you love Celtic folk music, definitely look her up. Her voice is wonderfully haunting.

Well, it's about 6:21 now and the gallery has been officially open for twenty minutes. My husband Ivan has turned off the laptop and is tuning his guitar. Buttercup is whining a discordant accompaniment and whacking me with her tail. She's very excited, apparently. She has no idea what it is, but she knows that something is happening and she wants to be a part of it. You know, when she's not hopefully following Anna's boyfriend, around, waiting for him to drop some of the snacks he's setting up for guests. At least Rob doesn't seem to mind having her underfoot.


Hahahaha....one of the first people to wander in noticed Buttercup and promptly began to gush. Everyone loves my dog. Pretty slow night so far, but it's still pretty early. I'm sure this place will be full of people in another hour or so.



A few people have been coming and going, poor dog doesn't know how to cope. She's happy to see people, but nervous to see so many strangers at once. She's been glued to my lap for a while now. ....And as I typed that, she hurried over to Rob for some added comfort.


Starr has been hanging out with us, sketching away with her new tablet. Anna is posing as a foot model.



I got bored, so I took some more pictures around the gallery.












And of course, this one had to fall back into the crook of my arm for some reason.


Well, I wish I had more to report, but it was a pretty quiet night. Things are winding down, the gallery is only open for a little longer and most of the people are gone. Buttercup's all tuckered out from meeting new people and I'm right there with her. Still, it was a nice way to end a long week. 




Family, friends, Buttercup and art. Definitely could have been worse.





Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dreams

I have a tendency toward very vivid dreams. They can be random, several unrelated dreams happening in a single night, or sometimes serial in nature. More than once, I've gone to bed only to pick up from about where my dream had left off the night before. Sometimes I dream the same dream over again, but know that I'd already been through whatever was happening. It can lead to some stressful nights, even when the dream isn't particularly bad. I've been chased by nameless shadows, breathed under water, run from vampires and even zombies created by mind-controlling cereal. Last night I had three particularly memorable dreams, I can't remember their exact order, but I do remember having them, which doesn't always happen.

One dream was very short, and involved me seeing a play with a couple of friends. I don't remember what it was about, but it was definitely a musical, and I'm pretty sure there were some fabulous drag queens involved. I didn't get to see much of the show, my one friend pulled me out to a vending machine and at one point and we were having some difficulty getting back through the huge metal and glass doors.

Another dream, a bit longer and more bizarre, started out as a pretty standard school dream. I was getting settled into a dorm room for a new semester, I'm fairly certain my old college roommate was there, but we also shared the room with a couple of other girls I didn't know. I'm not sure why, but at some point something shifted. I felt it shift, like some sort of warped energy slamming into me and making my heart speed up. I remember seeing an odd little black device with a glowing light in the center. I instinctively knew it was something bad, like a mix of an evil spirit and a hyper intelligent computer. I also knew, that my younger brother Cody had done something, summoned or modified it, causing this sudden shift. I was worried, but apparently he was staying in the same building as I was, so I found him quickly.

When I got there Cody was...nothing like himself, really. He had a completely different face and body and was balding on top with only stubble on the sides and back of his head. I'm pretty sure his voice was different too, and I was afraid that he wouldn't know who I was, or worse, know and not care. I was relieved to find him happy enough to see me, giving me an eager hug and answering amiably when I asked if he was all right. Whatever he had done to himself had apparently made him incredibly intelligent and maybe even magical, I'm not sure. I think he had some sort of plan or experiment cooking, but I didn't get much farther than that before I woke up, or the dream changed.

The last dream I had, I actually remember as being the one that happened right before I woke up for the day. I was at Hogwarts, and part of a small group that had been entrusted with some very important keys. Of course, we couldn't resist trying a few out, and exploring. I don't remember much of that, but I do remember leaving one door, and going to lock it only to discover that I didn't actually have the key, and the woman who did was somewhere out of reach. This would have been fine if the door hadn't been keeping some unspeakable, dangerous horror locked up. I ran to find the staff, any competent adult who could help me. They were having some sort of staff party and mostly useless until the horror finally materialized. It appeared as...a host of these odd rat spirits. We fought them off, and suddenly I was a werewolf, I think? I'd changed into something more lupine than human and was fighting with my teeth, snapping them out of existence. I have to admit that I woke up a little confused.

I can't decide if I would prefer that these weird vivid dreams were longer, and better story fodder, or if I just didn't remember them at all. I think I sleep better when I don't remember my dreams, but some of them do have potential to become something complex and interesting with the right guidance and editing. I guess it doesn't matter, really. I'm going to continue having them no matter what my preference is. I guess all I can do is choose to ignore them or write them down.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Update

So...I see that it's been over a year since my last update. I guess I'm overdue, but in my defense, life has been kinda crazy lately.

A lot of good things have been happening. I got married back in October, which is sort of old news now. The wedding went phenomenally well, and I am so grateful for everyone who attended. After that was a week-long trip to Disney, also very fun. Expensive, but fun. We had tickets to see Cirque du Soleil, an amazing show that we were almost late for. It was totally worth racing up the steps clutching my dress to keep from tripping over it to get to our seats on time. While I still don't fully understand what exactly was happening on stage, I loved it. The acrobatics, the artistry, the non-nonsensical comedy...it was all incredible and I sincerely hope that I will get to see another one of their shows in the future. It was a fun and hectic vacation and I am so glad that I got to experience so many new and wonderful things with the man I had married.

Unfortunately, my share of crappy things has been happening as well and a month or two ago, I was diagnosed with Dysthymia, which is a mild chronic depression.

Now, I say mild, because that's what I keep seeing when I look up information on this particular form of depression, but it doesn't feel particularly mild to me. I've been struggling with it for some time, especially in the past few months. Some days it's so bad that I have trouble getting out of my car to go in to work for the day. Like there is some physical force holding me back.

Any form of depression thoroughly sucks. The best way I can describe mine is...like I'm stuck in a dirt hole. I can see sunlight just slightly out of reach, and there is a ladder right in front of me. Only problem is, every time I try to go for the ladder, shit starts raining down on my head and knocks me down into the dirt. Or sometimes, there are dozens of ladders, but when I touch one, the rungs break and it becomes utterly useless. Basically, I can see what is wrong, and I am surrounded by dozens of solutions, but nothing I try seems to work, and everything else seems...pointless or unattainable. It's been frustratingly hard to work around, and my default threshold for misery seems to rise with every passing week.

Now...don't get me wrong, I still enjoy aspects of life. I can laugh and smile and have fun, but there's always that oppressive force or knowledge that I haven't made the right choices in my life for anything to have really changed, and so the depression hangs on, a stagnant little parasite feeding off of my own looping thoughts. I don't know if I just have too much time to think, or if I just need some big, positive change in my life. Something to make me feel like I'm making an impact on the world, or at the very least being useful in some capacity. Right now I feel like my days and potential are being wasted away and I don't know how to fix this. I'm trying, but it's hard. I'm still not sure if there's even a solution at all and I fight really hard not to believe that. I don't want to think that I'm going to be like this forever.

Anyway...I'm not exactly sure how to end this post. I did what I really wanted to, which was to get out a mini-update and try to...I don't know, I guess organize my thoughts on my depression. I'm hoping it will help me get a handle on things. Either way, I'm going to keep fighting and keep trying, and I'm thankful for the support of all of my friends and family who have been keeping me relatively sane since this all started. Knowing that they care means a lot when everything in my life is so chaotic and scattered.

I guess that's it for now. Hopefully next time I'll have more cheerful news and interesting stories to tell.




Friday, March 13, 2015

Dear Moko

Dear Moko,

I miss you.

I hope you were happy.

I wish I could have given you more. Done more. Was it enough?

I love you. Rest well.

-Jess



Sunday, January 25, 2015

Things Ivan Does When He's Asleep (Besides Snore)

Ivan has a tendency to do strange things when he's asleep. Like...really weird. One time, he woke up completely dressed apparently. Since we've been living together, mostly he speaks gibberish. He can have whole conversations in nonsense, which is surprisingly hilarious, even at 3 AM. One time he randomly started to rub the dog's belly without even realizing it. I think she had been whining a bit at the time.

A little while ago, he did something new. I had woken up, probably from a dream or something (I do that a lot) and was working on getting comfortable and falling asleep again, when he randomly started patting my arm. Then he moved onto my face, so I held out my arm, and he went back to it, checking the hand with really soft squeezes and pats. I was curious, so I decided to see if he was awake and what exactly he was doing. The resulting conversation went something like this...

"What are you looking for?"

"The net retractor." Brief pause as he checks my arm again. "But I'm not sure where it fits."

"....OK...."

 Since he was obviously still sleeping, I let it go, and he eventually stopped trying to figure out where to put the net retractor and turned over. He did it again at one point, but I was tired and didn't ask him why. Maybe he was just making sure it fit properly. I did tell him about it the next morning and he had no memory whatsoever of any of this, which is pretty typical. He rarely remembers the odd things he does in the middle of the night.

So, that's one strange thing Ivan's done in his sleep. What a weirdo.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Hello, Internet!

So...this is my latest attempt at creating something interesting online for other people to see. I'm not sure how this will work, but it's worth a shot. If anyone knows this guy then you probably know a little bit about me. Ivan and I are getting married in October, and currently live together in a nice little house with a handful of crazy animals, which he's touched on once or twice in his blog. I'm not going to lie, I'm sort of copying him a little bit, but he seemed to be having so much fun with his own blog, that I wanted to give it a try. At the very least, it'll be somewhere to put photos with random comments and things that isn't Facebook. I try to avoid using that particular social media whenever I can. I've never liked it much.

I stole the term headspace from Kevin Hearne, author of the Iron Druid Chronicles. The main character of these books, Atticus is a Druid (yes, what a shock!) and in order to work his magic properly, he memorizes large bodies of work such as Shakespeare's collective plays, and in doing so creates a sort of sectioned off space in his head separate from the rest. Actually, now that I think about it, there's a similar concept in The Name of the Wind, another good book series. Now...I am not nearly as smart or dedicated as Atticus, and while I would love to be able to whip out random Shakespeare quotes whenever I like, I am far too lazy to actually memorize anything. I thought this blog might be able to serve a similar purpose, a place for me to record thoughts, pictures, events, and maybe the occasional blurb of writing and unclog my head a bit. If I can make something interesting that people enjoy reading, even better, but I'm going to keep my standards low for now. 

Well, that's all I have to say for now. I have a sleepy dog on my lap and I want to enjoy it a little before game night tonight.