Saturday, February 17, 2018

History

"I mean, I get on well with pretty much anyone, really."

"Unless they have a history."

"Yes, you know, not that."

I'm sitting at the counter in a little bar that I have become fond of in the city. It's not Lonely Hearts Club, but I find that I enjoy going, reading, writing, drinking there. Sometimes there is an Argentinian guitar player and this brings me great joy. Sometimes it is just me alone, thinking about my history. For I am a woman full of history.

The chatter that is drifting from the conversation next to me had mostly been filtered out and was going unnoticed, the story is one of living a life of wonder and privilege that doesn't feel like enough: the new houses they want to buy, the IVF treatment they or friends are going to undergo, the kids they currently have, the relationships they are engaged in...so pretty, a life full of things and desires that go beyond needs and wants.

Having needs that went unmet for long swaths of time would most likely put me right up there in the "has a history" column. For this, I am grateful.

The pain and turmoil of my early life, the constant challenges in love and loss, the never ending fight with my own self worth and visions of who I am inside of this world, all of this building towards a pile of undeniable, unedited, history. My past has made many of the trappings of normalcy difficult to attain, given me an edge and sometimes anxious behaviors that I have no ability to control; creating difficulties and schisms in my psyche that live there with various patches. These are things that cannot be mended. These are the things that have made my history.

This record here, thousands of pages up on pages of trying to unpack and understand my own life and my own history, glorious and depraved, and written full of laughter, joy and tears. Dreams that have been both a blessed release from the challenges of the day and also a cursed reminder of all that I have lost to find this place where I am now.

Glasses clinking on the table as the women talk and insulate themselves from history and I smile and sip my wine and think about what it would be like if my history could be manifest: a great hulking cloud of all the things, all the pasts, all the knowledge and experiences...I smile a secret smile as I think about all the amusements in my history; stories that have helped me mercifully overshadow all the pain.

These women who talk want nothing of the past, it's the future, the acquirement, the perpetual chase for the next thing they want, and fulfilling their wishes for more want, and more normalcy and of course, more life that does not contain a history.

My history is my future and my past. My history is all of me.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Many, many dresses

I made five dresses, fixed two t-shirts, and edited five additional dresses.

And, somehow, I still feel like I was a lazy sloth this weekend.










This was an edited dress. When I started with it, it was basically a mu-mu. 

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Sewining, 2018

It happens a lot in my life. Me and my machine.

This time, me and my machine wrestled with 100 dollars worth of fabric, that is barely half of what I could have gotten for the same money in another country.

Doesn't matter. It was exquisite.

I sewed and I sewed and I sewed.

Three days, five dresses, two fixes, five edits.

There was an Anne Taylor dress that was practically a mu-mu when I started with it. I turned it into a tart little date night dress. Then there was the splatter paint print.

Or the one that looked almost like a Van Gogh.

I feel most real when I am in front of my machine. The act of creation is just...something I cannot explain. In the machine there is life, and I breathe through it and into it and when I am finished I look at all the things that I have wrote and I exist in that moment for a few more years.

I have things I made over 20 years ago tucked away in closets somewhere.

A different kind of art. A piece of me. A kind of art.


Someday, maybe, if I am found worthy as an artist, maybe these things will be. Who knows.

All I know is I took advantage of three snowdays to make so many wonderful things and it was exquisite.

Friday, February 09, 2018

Snow Day

A dog being sick managed to sideline me from my usual February challenge.

Chicago is cold. Last night a minor blizzard rolled through and dropped about 5 inches of snow.

That lake is exquisite.






Monday, February 05, 2018

Pretty People, Doing Very Fun Things

Yesterday was a strange day and my head felt as if it was not quite on straight. Partially facing down the breadth of mortality again, partially being on the road for so long, partially because my neck continues to play merry hell with my body and no amount of grinning and bearing is really effective at this point.

With all that on mind I decided what I needed was a movie. Being on the road and paid to entertain others all the time, I thought it might be nice to pay someone to entertain me. That and I wanted popcorn, damn the consequences and the carbs.

I managed to get into clothes and pour myself into a cab for the only 5:00 show I could find, which also happened to be the movie Jumanji. I looked at the potential offerings for the big box theater and also the Music Box before settling. Horror, as entertaining as it can be, didn't feel quite right. The coming of age complexities of a young bisexual male felt like it might push a bit too much in the other direction. I didn't want to rewatch something, leaving only two children animated movies and Jumanji. Since I enjoy Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and actually find him entertaining to watch, well, then yes. Settled.

Snow had been falling all day but the skies cleared as I got out in front of the theater. It was quiet on this Sunday afternoon, as I thought it might be, since the rest of the country was watching some ball game that I had no interest in. The theater had a total collection of two families with small children, one older gay couple, and me. In many ways, if you can't have an entirely empty theater to yourself, this was a good way to do it.

Popcorn achieved, I went to get my phone scanned, to get my ticket, to enter the theater. I enjoy this particular big box theater as it has clearly worked on an initiative to employ a variety of ticket handlers who are wheelchair bound, and super polite and cheerful. I always enjoy seeing people who want to work awarded with employment. It makes me smile to say hello and participate in the chit chat.

This particular older fellow was outfitted in a leather vest and rather a large assortment of LGBTQ flare which pretty much queued me into to his orientation and social politics.

"And how are you today young lady?"

"Well. Just here to see a movie." Scan.

"Oh, Jumanji, good choice a surprisingly entertaining film."

"Is it?"

"Oh yes. It's not very complicated. But..."

He looks me over for a second. I don't have any easy to spot flare that might designate my particular social leanings. Wearing black jeans with alchemy patches, Docs, a leather jacket, and my usual cloud of wild, black and brown hair, with leather bag strapped across my chest like some ancient warrior, I think he managed to figure it out.

"Well," he winks conspiratorially, "It is a movie that has some very pretty people, being pretty and doing very fun things. I think you'll like it."

He pats my hand and we share a smile.

His summation is the best overall review I can make of the film.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Death comes...

It's a strange thing to wake up and read about someone you know who has died. I think in my head as I read the message "again".

Again.

Someone I know has died.

And this is not the first someone I knew. Not the first someone I cared about. Not the first someone I've had to think of in the past tense; full knowledge that they do not walk the earth any longer. Their energy, capture for a time here, is released. Now they have gone back into the ebb and flow of the universe.

With this I can't help wondering when my particular matter will rejoin the earth and the universe. Mortality always lingers near death. As does the desire for vitality and anything which can be opposite of the end of all things.

This death, of my friends, is perhaps the most complicated. The person was a known antagonist and had managed, in the last few years life, to alienate completely from many who would have called said friend ten years before. So it was, growth, life, change, in both thinking and personality and situations and so we go through life.

Well do I know that those I love deeply now may have no love for me in a year. That those who I have spent so much time and energy and joy with, could, tomorrow choose to cast me away forever for a word, or a deed, or a thought misspoken. For a hurt I cannot correct.

I have no doubt I have hurt people.

I have no doubt I have helped people.

The only thing I know for sure to be true abut me, is that I make an effort to be what I think of as good: conflicted, difficult, proud, strong, weak, scared, and good in the only ways that I can find it.

I'm always sad to see people go. It feels me with weird trepidation and emotion and dark things low in the center that I can't completely explain. And yet, the only thing that anyone can be fully sure of is eventually, death comes.


Saturday, February 03, 2018

Seaslurping

"I love that you think oysters are a "snack"."

"They are a snack."

"A rich person's snack."

"I'm not rich."

"You are not poor."

That much is true. I do enjoy eating oysters when I can find places that have them. Now they make me think of freedom, life, salt, water, the earth and the cycle of my travels spinning around and around with no fear of settling.



Mountain Passes

The Company already has me on the road and hard. Some days I weak up feeling fully used and we are barely out of January and into February. Gods I want to complain, but I love it far too much. Strange places, strange hotels, strangers to meet, strangers to entertain, and me, somewhere in the middle of all of that being me. Being strange.

I think I've embraced the strange at the center of who I am with more vibrancy and less shame as I've gotten older. It's freeing, really.

So it was on a very fast strange trip that I found myself descending into Salt Lake City just before the sun set over the mountains.

I like mountains. I see them all the time, really, and rather enjoy them when I can be in them. Perhaps my favorite up to this point are the Andes, which are truly awe inspiring set of mountains to be in. I recall a moon over pink clouds shining down on me feeling close enough to touch. Perhaps a favorite memory, having a car full of locals who speak Spanish to me, with me answering back in pigeon Spanish and Korean; all of us piling out of the car to just stare at the  moon as it stares back at us.

Excursions to Latin American had not really prepared me for the Rockies. I recall being in the Rockies a very long time ago. There are at thousand miles in the backseat of a car when I was very young. Before the bad got very bad, when it was only a little bad but I was too young to know that it. So many late nights listening to adults talk in the front of the car as we drove through various winding roads, a quiet chatter to avoid waking the children. Staring at my own reflection in the night-mirrored window and wondering what magical mysteries would be exposed as we continued on the road.

On one of those trips, there had been the Rockies. I vaguely recall driving from the heat of the desert below and going up, up, up until the car was on the side of the road and the children piled out to see the snow in the summer time. Wet and icy and chilly, so surprising in the summer time, but still cool enough at the heights to allow the ground to maintain it's chilly covering. Old memories that linger far longer than the should, but among the few of those I have from childhood.

So it was that I found myself, then, descending into resplendence that is the Rockies. I don't know what else I can say about it. Driving about in the valley, shadowed all around  by the mountains presence, constant, daunting, a minute by minute reminder of how small one is in the world.

My companion and driver sat next to me as I commented on it.

"I'm sorry, I wasn't listening, I just...the mountains never stop," I said as I observed the mountains behind the capital.

"Yeah, I once worked with a guy, and he said after awhile you just don't notice."

"I don't know how that's possible"

"I wondered about that, too. I asked him. He told me that after-while you just forget to look up."

Perhaps if you are in it all the time. I'm not sure I could forget.







Friday, February 02, 2018

Batteries

I'm smart enough to make sure I always travel with batteries. The reason for this should be, of course, obvious. However, here I found myself, on a trip, without batteries at all.

This particular trip has been so busy I have been unable to rectify this particular situation at all. It's been, in short, a bit tragic.

Last night, I found myself eating dinner alone at a nice little restaurant next to a grocery store and I thought, yes, I shall get batteries here.

After dinner, and some wine, this fully left my mind and so I ended up, yet again, back at my hotel without batteries. I realized this as soon as I got out of the car that dropped me off.

Being an intrepid traveler, I shrugged and went to the desk and asked if I could get AA batteries.

"Sure we have those in the store."

I checked the store before I ask.

"We appear to be all out."

"Yes."

"Let me call engineer."

"Ok."

"Can we bring them to your room."

Thank the gods, I thought to myself. "Sure."

And so I went to my room and I got comfortable as I wound down from the day and sure enough about 20 minutes later there was a knock and a very happy to see me gentleman stood outside my door.

"You wanted batteries?"

"Yes."

"Do you need anything else?"

The look was mildly suggestive and mostly I was amused because I choose to be amused at this point. It's easier.

"No, thank you."

It took me far too long to get out of bed this morning.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Stephen King's It

At the moment I'm only half way through the reading of this book, and yet, I already understand why it was forbidden to me. It makes good sense now, and there is something terribly freeing in the flick of pages, passage of words, and growth of characters as I continue to pass through the lives of people in Derry, Maine.

It was probably somewhere near the mythical 1985 that I first read a book by Stephen King. I was around 10 years old and I was a ravenous reader. I went easily from Scholastic book of the month selections, to Tolkien, to King. When dragged along to things I didn't want to go to I'd find the place free books could be found and I would stock up on everything good I could get for whatever small change I had in my pockets. I was fairly good at this. How I came to read King, I couldn't tell you but I still remember Carrie and the Gunslinger while I was at the bright and shiny young age of 10 or 11.

Carrie taught me about orgasms, the Gunslinger made evil real and from there it was all Misery, and The Shining, and collections of short stories of gypsies, tramps, thieves, children adults. I was aware of the book It around the age of 12. This was the only story that was forbidden to me. El diablo Madre told me in no uncertain terms I was not allowed to read the book.

In all the things I fought her on and outright defied her on, for some reason, I gave her It. Oh, I read the Stand, and I would read the next three Gunslinger books, I'd hunt down old copies of King. My friends who were also readers helped me uncover his titles publishes as Bachman, and then puberty was well into full swing and I got a bit distracted by Johanna Lindsey and trying to survived my last few years at home.

It was forgotten.

Perhaps because there is a remake of the film that is rather everywhere, perhaps it was because King mentioned that "you could always read the book to see how the story ends", perhaps it is because I have been mentally working through a variety of things lately, that I decided I can/should/would read It now.

Half way through a thousand or so pages I suddenly found myself understanding exactly why this had been forbidden to me as a child. Goodness knows it's not the scary or erotic content. I was easily given Carrie, for goodness sake, not to mention a pile of Dean Koontz that did a lot more for my nightmares. I'd thumbed through the copy of the Joy of Sex more than a hundred times by the age of 10 and those good decision makers of my upbringing let me watch Fatal Attraction with them when I was 8.

No, it's wasn't the content, it was almost certainly the characters. Children who become adults in the most realistic way that you can see the connection between the child they were and the adult they would become. The line between making decisions, taking control, defying parents, doing the thing they needed to do to grow and become humans who, later, might have to make very difficult decisions as adults after having already made very difficult decisions as children. In short, the story of it (mind you I'm only half way through) is almost certainly a roadmap for autonomy written in clear, precise language and executed brilliantly in a way that I most certainly would have connect with. Living in a home where the need for complete subjugation, be it through fear, drugs, or alcohol, any kind of path to autonomy would be have been anathema.

Fortunately for me, I developed a strong path to autonomy anyway and managed to avoid the drugs and the booze that was easily supplied in the household. Unfortunately, I'm not without deep scars from the various other types of manipulation and control. In the end, it didn't matter, I found freedom and have never been blase about what it cost me.

This is, perhaps, the connection I have with the story I read now. A young girl how was forced to do adult things, an adult woman who sometimes is so very haunted by a past she can't quite recall despite all her other successes. I cannot say. What I do know, is that I'm glad I have finally put to rest a wall that has stood in my mind for over thirty years. Let those old barriers continue to fall away.

Let the peace on the other side stand taller and stronger.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Dig Deeper

Since 2004, a part of my almost daily life is exercise. It was a hard thing to start at first but it has remained a constant. I work out hard. It hurts and I’m rather in a constant amount of pain because of some of my routines, but I will do them because of all the benefits.



Being able to lift 200lbs, for example, or not being a constant basket case of emotion, thanks the increased serotonin and the endorphins I get from a good workout. It’s not easy but I love doing it. 



When I started traveling a bit more constantly, I had to work to reprogram myself from the gym to the workout video. Flexibility was the key motivation for this switch and it has been a worthwhile switch. My first workout video love was Billy Banks and Tae-bo was a wonder to me. 



After about a year, feeling less than challenged and wanting more, I stumbled upon the Insanity series, with it’s lead Shaun T. That was that. I love the series, even if on the first day I realized I couldn’t do half the exercise. 



Push-ups? Nope. 

Jumping Jacks? Nope. 

Straight leg kicks? Well, thanks to Billy I could kick without to much trouble. 



The reality, though, was the first three months I spent doing Insanity I could barely do Insanity. My first goal: be able to complete all the moves. It took about three months, but eventually I got there. Then I completed the series, then I looked for me. 



Through it all, I fell madly in love with Shaun T. As a coach and am motivator, I find him to be inspiring, thoughtful, and even through the punishment, honest about what he is trying to help others work towards. I still get angry at Tania though, she always seems to get all the praise. 



I found out at some point last year, that Shaun T was visiting Chicago in January and decided to get a ticket to go. Everything that could possible go wrong managed to, but I showed up at the event, which was half therapy sessions half speaking, and all very much about the book Shaun T had just written exploring transformation. 



This is all important and useful stuff, and as an instructional designer while I could have provided some modifications to make the self reflection stations work a bit more smoothly, overall, it was excellently well done. 



It was just before the event that I read the jacket cover for the book that would be released, where it is made very clear that you will learn about Shaun’s early years, his own struggle with weight, and how he came to be the person we know today. It also makes it very clear that Shaun T was sexually abused as a child. 



In the event, waiting in the downtime, I read the better part of the book, and the part that was in so many ways relevant and painful for me to read. There was so much in it that mirrored my own life, my own childhood, and my own abuse that I found myself being completely overwhelmed by emotion. As I listened, an audience member rather than a stage presence, I found myself consoon the verge of tears. They why for me is simple: I know what I’ve been through and I know not only did I come out the other side of it but I have, in many ways, excelled. Here was a man who had been through similar things and come to similar achievements. Here was another soul proving that it’s possible to be on the recieving end of some of the worst things a person could ever experience and be okay. 



When I find others who suffered daily, systematic abuse by people that were supposed to be gaurdians, the experience always resonates. When those others have also managed to come through it and be stronger for it and good examples of how possible it is to carry on, I feel such a sense of overwhelming camradire. A need to gather together all of us, successful, thoughtful intelligent people that had to turn inwards and rely on ourselves to escape, to bring out all our stories and show the world loudly: it is possible to be more than the sum of that experience.



At the end of the even there were pictures and a book signing. I held my book open for the signing and Shaun looked up, signed walked on. I couldn’t speak. My heart was in my throat. I wanted to hug him, hold him, tell him that he’s been the man in my life at 5 a.m. for so long I can’t imagine a world without it. Tlel him that I know what it was like, the thing he went through, because I went through it, too. I wanted to thank him. I wanted to say anything. 



He walked on. 



No faullt of his. I was choking on words and had no way to express them. I tried to turn on my public persona, the mask that I step into when I have to do difficult things, the shell that can be fully without emotional response. This allows me to be very good at what I do, but I couldn’t hold onto my normal public self and I was on the verge of sputtering and fading out. 



I rallied as best I could for the picture taking. I said what I needed to say. “I was an abused like you. Five years. I really appreciate you sharing your story.” 



We hug. I manage to choke back tears. 



“You keep at it. You keep working through it. Don’t ever give up.”



“I’ve lost a lot of weight,” I respond. 



“That’s not what I meant.”



I wish I’d had more time to tell him that I did more than hear him, I felt it too my soul. He was right, I was doing a thing I let myself do for a long time; hiding behind the fact that my body is big as the root of all evil, the reason for all the work, and the source of the most pain. 



Here is a thing about constant systematic abuse, the abuse is difficult to deal with so many of us find other ways to hurt that we can manage. Weight, drugs, booze can all be shields that we wrap around ourselves when it gets to be to real. 



Shaun T didn’t know me from anyone, I was just another fan girl, but with those words he cut right to the core of it and I knew. He knew. I made eye contact and turned and fled to the bathroom to cry because I couldn’t control it. There was so much emotion. 



“The first step is embracing being uncomfortable.” 



This is one of the truest things, regardless of the goal. Success requires being willing to be uncomfortable. Uncomfortable is so much more than a bodies pain, the weight, the pressure of a thousand bad memories that sometimes want to take the spotlight way from the millions of good ones. 



Trust and Believe is probably one of the best known Shaun T-isms.



And I do. I trust and believe in my ability to keep working on being me, working on getting through the hard things and the dark days, and keeping up the push-ups, no mater how much pain there is. 



I can be uncomfortable. 



I can dig deeper. 



Sunday, January 14, 2018

Touch Me

It's been freezing in Chicago and the cold is starting to impact me. I want to write, I want to created, but the cold is freezing it all out.


I talk with Calembour "The words are hidden behind pieces of me and they won't come to the surface." 

"Those are good words," he points out.

In the end I decided the only thing is to go out. I've been complaining for days that I want out. 

"You'll be gone soon for almost two weeks!"

"Yes, but..."

The Publican is full of people and warmth and loud conversations. I don't know anyone here and this place is not nearly like the Lonely Hearts Club, but it's becoming a regular part of things I think of like home. 

My home. 

To me it matters.

There is meaning in that. 

Sitting, reading a book, living, in this now, in this political moment. I was watching as every various parts of culture sits and starts burning itself down. It's almost as if there is a thorn under the surface, one that you know is there but it's too deep to come out on it's own and you are too busy to deal with it. 

It's in that moment, sitting and reading, and generally enjoying not being in my house that the stranger standing next to me, who is a stranger, who is someone I do not know, who is certainly not someone I have met before, who is standing next to me puts his hand on my shoulder. 

This is nothing. 

This is such a small thing. 

This doesn't really matter. 

Just a guy being friendly, be nice. 

This is the moment, the political moment, the thorn moment, the all moment, the moment when you are watching everyone trying to burn it down and wishing you could hold them and tell them "just, breathe."

We are so far away from breathing. 

Here I sit and a stranger touches me and I practically slide off my chair into the floor to get away from his arm, but I don't slap it away, and I don't yell. I turn back to my book, my little world in my little black box. 

"I'm trying-"

"You're touching me inappropirately."

"What, no, I'm sorry."

I half smile. I turn back to my book. He apologizes thirty more times. I smile, I keep looking at my book. 

"I just, I'm sorry, I come here all the time, I feel like I know everyone, I'm sorry."

Finally I relent and absolve his concious, "It's fine, okay. I'm reading my book."

I could be angry. 

I could be offended. 

I could be hurt. 

The moment demands the absolute deconstruction of any inidividal who steps out of line. 

Get out the thorns with a nuclear bomb. 

It solves no problems, but everyone feels better. 

So I sit here thinking to myself, "It really is fine. 

Touch me. Give me your hands and your thoughtless gestures. Give me your shitty pick up lines and your horrible behavior. Lay it here, lay it all here."

I think this in my head. I'm willing to take those offhand, unthinking, momentarily embarrassing moments for you so the lynch mob will pass you by. Touch me, like Lamb's blood splashed above the door, and I'll keep you safe for the night. 

You and the others, and the others, and the others. 

If you must, touch me.