Monthly Archives: November 2016

The Nice Guy

“I don’t know what you want me to tell you,” he said. We were sitting across from each other on his couch, the rest of the house deathly quiet.

“I can’t tell you what to say,” I replied. I was at a loss. I needed more. More attention. More affirmations that I was important to him. He couldn’t give that to me. He didn’t know how. And I refused to give him a script.

It was the beginning of the end.

Not long after the breakup, I started trading texts with his best friend. Let’s call him David. David was underemployed and had plenty of free time on his hands. He would text to say hi or see how I was doing. “You must be bored,” I told him more than once. He denied it every time and insisted he wanted to talk to me.

It was exactly what I had wanted from the ex. And it came naturally to him.

Over the course of our relationship, I would find countless ways in which the two friends were different. It got to the point that I didn’t even know what made them friends. The ex delighted and took pride in being “an evil, sadistic bastard.” David wouldn’t let me call him evil. Not in jest, and not when he as hurting me. “I only do things people like,” he’d repeat. “I’m a nice guy.”

And he was. Still is. We may be separated by distance now, but he – and his wife – are still extremely important to me. They made me feel wanted, desirable again. Until then, I had convinced myself that I was just too needy. But I never felt that way around them. They have a welcoming way about them that I know has followed them. I miss it.

 

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Thankful

This might be a little late, but I can’t let this Thanksgiving season slip by without noting this.

When I went to my parent’s house for Thanksgiving, I didn’t know what to expect as far as conversation. Dad and I have gone toe to toe in politics before. Nothing mean spirited, but enough that mom had to call an end to it. So last I knew, dad wasn’t happy with either of the Presidential choices. I still don’t know who he voted for, and that might be for the best.

Not only did we not talk about the election this past Thursday, we didn’t talk politics at all. Not one word. The man who normally has Fox News on in the background and actually likes Bill O’Reilly, had opted for old John Wayne movies, football, and even a rerun of an Indians game.

Later, I realized that it had felt…intentional. I could actually hear my mother’s voice as she admonished him to remain on “safe” topics.

And you know, it was nice. I’m glad they had whatever talk they had to have. It was the peaceful break I needed, and I appreciate it.

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Drawing Lines

I started to write something long and complicated, but it’s all pretty simple really.

I’m usually pretty good at seeing multiple sides of an issue, considering more than one point of view. As of now, however, there are two perspectives I’m struggling to understand in any way. And the reasons are pretty similar.

First, how do you support a man and his endeavor when you know his history of abuse in the community? How do you not disavow someone with multiple consent violations? It’s clear even from his group’s own by-laws that they are covering for him, that they know what a liability he is. But for various reasons, they think they need him.

I can respect an effort at diplomacy and maintaining some unity among groups of people who seem to have little in common anymore, but why show more than common courtesy?. There are a lot of people I don’t like, people I have friends in common with, but this isn’t a misunderstanding or difference of opinion. This is bigger than that. This matters more and I cannot and will not support him or make nice.

Second, people who voted for our President-elect – why? How do you see past the racism, misogyny, and xenophobia? Were you really that blind to it? Or does it not matter as much as “change” does to you? Hillary wasn’t ideal – I get that. But she’s not a fascist. She’s not going to undo every bit of progress that women, people of color, and LGBTQ people have made in the past 50-100 years. She wouldn’t be appointing white supremacists to her cabinet right now. This isn’t about being a “sore loser” – this is me being not a bit surprised that hate groups now feel free to speak loudly and with no pretense. They’re following their leader, and he can pretend he doesn’t understand all he wants, but the rest of us do.

That’s where I am. Those are the lines I’m drawing. If you support either of those positions, I won’t say we’re not friends anymore, or cut you off completely. But we’re not going to be close. And I’m not going to trust you as much as I would like.

These are the battles worth fighting for me. Yes I want unity, and I want to stop the hate – I won’t insult those who have opposing views. But I want safety for all more. And I will do what I can to protect that.

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Hey hey, ho ho

“You are all a disgrace!” a man yelled. “You need to respect the President!”

My fellow protesters immediately surrounded him to simultaneously make themselves heard and drown him out. I stood a safe distance away, curious about how this was going to end. From behind me, an older woman rushed past, yelling, “Get him!”

She had short gray hair that barely brushed her shoulders, and she looked like she had Seen Some Shit. She’d been around to march for the ERA. She probably met Betty Friedan. You could just see it in her eyes and the fearlessness with which she moved. She’d had this fight before and she’d be damned if this new turdnugget was going to get in her way.

I watched her get in the counter protester’s face. He didn’t last long and disappeared soon after. Otherwise, it was mostly peaceful. A few anarchists tried to steal the spotlight and Info Wars showed up to talk to them.

The rest of us chanted, raised signs in solidarity, and marched the streets of Cleveland.

Long live democracy.

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The Collar

I stared into the box, my mind racing. Inside was a thin, black velvet pet collar. Delicate crystals were set at regular intervals around it, and a tiny O-ring sat in front.

It’s not that I objected to being collared to my friend. But we’d never talked about it either. It would be a huge leap in a relationship that we hadn’t bothered to define at all. I glanced up hesitantly, unsure how to express the litany of questions that had sprung to mind. I didn’t want to appear ungrateful, but I needed clarification.

Thank all the gods she was psychic.

“Oh, please.” She laughed in that haughty, throaty way that always made my toes curl. “If I was going to collar someone, it would be with something thick and silver.”

“Oh,” I replied, and feigned relief. It was difficult not to be a little disappointed at what might have been. I imagined wearing just such a collar for her, and being chained – again – to the walls in her basement. Indeed, I would eventually offer, repeatedly, to be her secretary. It may have been a joke, but I was ready to make good on the offer with just a word, at any time.

I’m sure we played that night though the specifics are lost. Likely there was hair pulling, metal claws that curled up from her fingertips, teeth that sunk into my shoulders so that shouldering a purse was difficult for days.

There would be a lot of those nights and most of them blend together now. The collar hasn’t been worn in years, and sits in a plastic tub with other costume pieces. Every now and then, I think about wearing it again. It might just be time.

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On a Cliff’s Edge

When I showed up at the house of friends a week ago, I was barely functional. Somehow I had made it through the work day though I don’t think I accomplished much. I even have to wonder now how coherent I was. I barely remember any of our conversation, only that we watched silly movies and tried not to think for a couple of hours. It was a rare day when I needed to be around people and cry on their shoulders.

Now, work feels more normal. I’ve made some chocolate. I’m back to writing, even if it is here instead of my fiction. I’m making plans, laughing, playing my favorite music. I even participated in my first RPGs (yes, two!) last weekend. Most of the games I played were with people I didn’t know.

Not bad.

But it’s a precarious stability. And I’m never sure what is going to make me cry next. Monday, it was our head legal assistant patting the counter next to my desk as she walked by. For some reason, it was as if she’d patted my shoulder and told me everything was going to be okay. It was an unusual gesture for her and it brightened my day. Until I realized how little it takes to actually brighten my day at work.

Yesterday, it was hearing One Last Time from the Hamilton soundtrack. It’s the song where George Washington advises Hamilton that he will be stepping down and that Jefferson will be running for President instead.

The people will hear from me one last time

And if we get this right

We’re gonna teach ’em how to say goodbye

You and I

Nope. Not gonna do it. not gonna say goodbye to this President until I absolutely have to. So there. And if anyone can make a graceful exit during these unusual times, I’m pretty sure it’s Obama. Damn I’m going to miss him. Michelle and that crazy uncle Joe too.

Later, it was a compliment from a friend. Someone I’ve gotten to know better on Facebook than in real life the past few years. But she called me welcoming. And sweet. Those aren’t words I associate with myself. And I doubt many other people do either. But someone out there thinks I’m welcoming dammit. I think the last person who would have said that passed away a few months ago. Sooo…

Yeah. I’m crying now. And just because I’m not the next time you see me, doesn’t mean I’m not about to any second. And that’s okay.

It’s been a hell of a week, and it’s going to be a hell of a finish to a hell of a year. So if I cry on you, you’ll understand right?

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An Earthquake Ends

A recent Facebook post from a friend praised the diversity shown at a gaming con, while contrasting that with recent “terrifying events.”

Most of the comments latched onto the positive. But of course there’s always that one guy. 

“It was just an election, not a ‘terrifying event.’ An earthquake is a terrifying event – an expected and scheduled Election Day is not.”

In another comment, this same person asserted that most of the people protesting hadn’t even voted. 

My first response was to explain that I had in fact voted and why so many of us are terrified. It’s not just the president elect. It’s the Republican led Congress and the president elect’s ability to appoint at least one Supreme Court Justice during his tenure. 

So much for checks and balances. 

The more I thought about it though, the more I objected to the original analogy. So I commented again. First to ask for sources. Next to point out an important fact. 

Earthquakes end. They don’t go on for four years and constantly change their minds about what they are going to do. 

Let’s face it, it’s the president elect’s instability and unpredictability that makes him dangerous. He’s already walked back positions on same-sex marriage, the ACA, and abortion. But I have no reason to believe he’ll stick to these new positions either. And the cabinet he is trying to put together makes me think they will advance the old positions even if he doesn’t. 

If we only knew what we were actually up against, what and who we would be fighting, we could strategize. We could plan. Instead, we’re left to plan for every possible outcome. 

And that might be what scares me most. 

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I’m not okay

It’s amazing to me how often I’ve said that this year.

I also find it telling that the Cleveland Indians’ loss in the World Series doesn’t even rank among the year’s tragedies. It’s been 19 years since we last won a pennant, and 68 years since our last Series win, and still I don’t see it as a low light at all. We got farther than anyone, even I, expected us to. Hell, we got farther than we had a right to, given the injuries to our pitching lineup. And still we pushed a game seven into extra innings.

It was a hell of a ride and there was no one I would have rather lost to.

The real loss of the year? My faith in humanity. Sure there have been pockets of greatness here and there. But overall, I’ve seen people I thought I could trust turn on me. I’ve seen a community divided simply because some of us decided to call out a serial consent violator. And then I watched in horror as this country elected the worst possible person to be President.

I seriously cannot even. I just can’t. I know that sounds flippant, but it’s true. I feel adrift and in the past week, I have vascillated from abject hopelessness and despair, to the heights of fearlessness, and everywhere in between.

I don’t know what the right thing is anymore. Certainly there are no easy answers, and no superheroes waiting to ride in and save the day. I’m contributing to worthy causes. I’ll be emailing legislators urging them to do their part. But will any of it accomplish anything? It all feels like less than a drop in a bucket. More like an atom in that drop that just fell into the Grand Canyon.

And yet I know that enough of us banding together can make a difference. I’ve struggled this past week to put any feelings into words lest I fall into either silly platitudes or extreme self-pity. At times I’ve felt paralyzed into inaction only to be determined to FIGHT ALL THE EVILS five minutes later. I want to take care of my friends and loved ones first yet long to make a more global impact.

I need balance. And I’m struggling to find that while also being aware that I am reasonably safe here. I’m white, cis-gendered, can pass as straight when necessary. I even have a job in a field that is not going away anytime soon. So do I really have a right to be so terrified here? I think I do – my girlfriend is trans, my best friend is a woman of color in a small town. Most of her family is in even smaller towns. I can’t even fathom how difficult any of that is right now.

I’ve also struggled with whether to continue creating, whether that be in chocolate or in fiction. But I’ve also seen how much solace can be taken in such things. I went to a gaming convention last weekend, allowed myself to be silly, and lost myself in new games. And for a few minutes, I almost forgot how hopeless the rest of the world seemed.

Who knows. Maybe that’s how I’ll help. By being a distraction. That doesn’t mean I won’t fight in other ways when I can though. And given the opportunity, I will have your back

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