Frogs, Penguins and Bears, oh my!

When my sister was a toddler, before I was on the scene at all, she would talk in different voices. My parents worried that something might be wrong with her, and thought briefly about getting her tested. But before they did, someone gave her a stuffed bear. An adorable little panda named Pammy.

Suddenly, Pammy started talking in one of the voices. Dr. Cuddly, a brown bear, started talking in another. There wasn’t anything wrong with her, (clearly I hadn’t been born yet, or I would’ve told them that) she just needed an outlet.

By the time I was old enough to talk in at least one squeaky voice of my own, I had quite the collection of stuffed animals. They all had names, and I was mother to the whole lot. They called my sister Aunt, as hers called me, and all of ours called our brother Dad (we were children. It made sense at the time). They slept on our beds, went on camping trips with us, watched movies, and occasionally became ammunition to huck at each other from behind our furniture bunkers. (They shrieked with joy the whole time, they loved flying.)

And, they were our voices.

Our animals (we hardly ever included the word “stuffed”. It seemed harsh.) said things we could not. They took risks that seemed too scary for our tiny bodies. My sister learned at a young age to steel herself from the world, to keep herself safe. Sometimes this was seen by other people as a poor attitude or general uncaring. But if you were worried about something, Pammy would always come out and cheer you up. Her pal Newberry would give you a hug. And Booberry, the third amigo, would come scare away whatever was troubling you. If that didn’t work, they’d send in Dr. Cuddly for a follow up.

My brother has been a giant most of his life. He reached 6′ before he got to middle school. And he’s the gentlest, kindest person I know. At a time when boys were told that becoming men meant being louder, meaner and tougher, he quietly disagreed. He often let people say what they wanted without arguing, because it made them happy. When I dreamed of having a big, scary brother that would threaten jerky ex-boyfriends, reality would set in and remind me that my big brother was much more likely to buy them food and ask about their family. But his gaggle of penguins, (usually Pengywinwin and Tacky) always came to check on us, pat us on the shoulder with a soft wing, and check the perimeter for threats before reminding us that we were loved, and to-bellying back to their room (it’s like tobagganing. But on your belly, because you’re a silly penguin).

My animals were brave. Goofy, like I was, but they said what they thought. They didn’t back down. And they loved everyone, boldly and without hesitation.

As we got older and moved apart, we talked to each other’s animals less and less. But we never got rid of them. When I visit my sister, three panda bears come out, shouting “Aunt Kris!!!” and give me hugs. The ringbearer in my brother’s wedding was a small penguin named Cookie. Sometimes I get texts that a lion (or a kidnapped turtle…) sends their regards. But mine don’t talk much anymore.

My favorites sat on my shelf in my room, but the other 500 or so stayed in plastic bags in my son’s room. They’d been cooped up in there for over 5 years. Part of it was that my second husband wouldn’t allow me to take them out. I refused to give them away, but they had to stay contained, and in the garage. Part of it was that I finally found my own voice.

When I realized earlier this year that these little animals had very literally saved each of us at some point, I shared this epiphany with my sister. “Sissa!” I said, “did you know that we used our animals to express the parts of us that we otherwise couldn’t have let the world see?” “Yes, of course I know”, she replied in her usual fashion. “Once, someone asked me when I was going to get rid of them, because I’m an adult. I told them never, because they are the only source of unconditional love I’ve ever known.” My heart broke right then. For the little girls we were, that were so scared. For the big brother that didn’t know how to keep us safe. And for these worn, faded, sweet wee animals who took on such an enormous job.

Last weekend I finally opened the bags and let mine out. I intended to give most of them away, but as I sorted through, I was overwhelmed by how much comfort they still give. What my sister had said came rushing back, and there was no way I could let them go. They had never let me down, I had to return the favor. I kept probably 200 of my original crew. And I talked to all of them.

I know my family is weird as shit. I know we were barely normal as kids, and just get stranger as adults. I know that now I’m the single chick who has a 3 foot tall stack of stuffed animals in the corner of her room, all looking at her, which doesn’t help the chances of finding someone to sleep in that room with me. People think it’s creepy. People still think we should get tested. And I give precisely zero fucks.

Rattles, Clodhopper and I don’t have time for judgement. We’ve got letters to write, to panda bears and penguins.

 

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Slutiversary

The Thought Slut was born 2 years ago today. So let’s take a look back, shall we? If this were a sitcom, this would be the Clip Show Episode.

The idea came from venting that being single meant I had no one to share all the useless trivia that was cluttering my brain. Really, even “trivia” seemed too fancy for what was going on. I was finding it hard to focus on work, personal conversations, taking care of my house, because OH MY GOD I HAD THE BEST TURKEY SANDWICH, and there was nobody to tell.

So, I came here. I took 30 whole seconds to pick some colors and a terribly unfocused picture for the header, and that was that. It was one of those things I said I was going to go back and redo later, but as you can see… I didn’t. I’ve changed a lot over the last 2 years, but not that much. Procrastinating is still my main skill. Right before self-depreciation.

But really, a lot has happened in my little Slut Bubble since 2015. (That one just popped into my head. Get it? Popped? Bubble?! I’m ON FIRE!) I’ve grown a lot. Though I still have more to do, I’m proud of how far I’ve come. It would be easier to see if I wrote more regularly, but trust me, it’s leaps and bounds.

Today, I’m still single (though I have made some jumps into not-singlehood here and there) and much more comfortable with it. I’m still figuring out what I want, and how to identify it. I am getting much better at knowing when something isn’t what I want, and walking away (I once dated a guy I couldn’t stand for over a year because he didn’t do anything terribly wrong. I haaaaated him, but he wasn’t abusive or unfaithful, so I stuck it out. FOR OVER A YEAR. Again. Leaps and bounds.) Sometimes, it makes for entertaining stories.

This brings us to the New Story Line segment of our Clip Show Episode, where I get to introduce you to a new character. Let’s call him Douchey McToolface. Because I’m a grownup.

So… Douchey and I met online (don’t roll your eyes at me!) He sent me a message that was a list of reasons he thought we’d get along. I’m a sucker for lists, and it beat the guy whose opener was “Damn sexy! Come sit on my face and I’ll eat my way to your heart? ;)” (alright, you can roll your eyes now.) I responded, it lead to actual conversation, he spelled things correctly and used multi-syllabic words, and I was cautiously hopeful. We arranged a meet up about a week out. He specifically told me this was not a date, this was simply a meeting to see if we had chemistry and should pursue dating from there. Great! I liked this idea, as well as all the talks we had about establishing a good friendship first, and not rushing into things. Cue the happy strut.

Meeting happens, things go well, but ultimately he is not actually down for taking it slow as originally stated, and tries to tell me after 1.5 dates (we hung out twice in the same day. I don’t know what that means, or what is and isn’t a date, apparently, so let’s just go with that.) that I need to “stop holding back” and just give in to whatever urges he has imagined I have. Because he can read me so well. Yeah. I say no. I’m REALLY FUCKING PROUD of myself for this. Baby Slut would’ve assumed he knew more than me, and gone along with it anyway.  But not anymore! I firmly told him I was taking things slow… and he told me I was wrong. Yep. Wrong. It completely dumbfounded me. So, I ended things. Amicably. Perhaps too much so, as he text me a day later asking if we could still be friends. Well sure, who doesn’t need more friends?

My new bff then began texting me passive-aggressive complaints about how hard being single was, and how he wished he could just find someone that could “make a decision and stick with it”. (Now I’m rolling my eyes right along with you) Then… he sent me an excerpt from an erotic novel he is writing (which he apparently started after we went out, as he told me then he no longer writes… ) The context was that the protagonist, based on him, was facing the woman that had transformed him from wanting meaningless sex to looking for an actual connection. Booky McToolface says this, “I want to taste every inch of you… and not just your skin. When I say that I want you, it is not some purely physical concept. Your eroticism to me stems from the very core of who you are. While your shell is appealing, it is what lies beneath that has me yearning to taste you.”. My response? “Uh, nobody says ‘eroticism’ to another person in real life.” The part I didn’t text him involved a lot of near-vomiting.

I was hoping my disinterest would be enough to make him wander away, but receiving a text message poem at 5:30am three days later told me I was wrong. And, because you’re already on this ride, here’s that, too:

I don’t know you,
I know your face because I see it when I close my eyes.
I know the small curve of your lips when you smile.
I know the gleam in the corner of your left eye
Only the left one
That pops up when something brings you joy.
See I don’t know you
But I know the value you place in words
The way you long to have someone value you
Someone who sees the pretty face, yes, but sees the beauty BEHIND it too.
I don’t know you,
But I know that there is something missing
A piece of you
A real piece of you not fulfilled.
I don’t know you
But I do know that I want you
I want to be that piece to make you whole
I want to be your beacon as the night encroaches in
I want to hold you safe as the winds bear down
I want to protect you…
See I don’t know you
But I want to.

Pretty much all this did for me is cause me to question what the hell is wrong with my left eye?? I’m hoping it was just that I was constantly giving him the “What the fuck crazy ass shit did you just let loose out of your mouth?!?” look and he mistook that for the face of the newly joyful. I have no fucking idea.

I’d like to say that after this I told His Mighty Doucheness to leave me alone. But nope. Took me another two days, and multiple texts about how dating was the worst. Then, I finally hit my limit. I did not avoid confrontation, was not passive, I was full on aggressive. He, of course, countered that the fault was mine, and I was simply taking it all wrong.

But a little over two years ago, I dealt with another douchebag extraordinaire. One with a lot more experience. I learned a thing or two, including that I am, in fact, whole. I am not missing any pieces, I am not in need of protection, and I can damn sure save my self. So his gaslighting and blame shifting were no match for this slut right here. Our heroine emerged victorious once again.

Who knows where I’ll be in another two years. But whatever my appealing shell and I are doing, I’ll be doing it my way. And maybe if I remember, I’ll even write about it.

 

 

Fishicide

Today is the 2nd anniversary of The Great Fish Murder. Don’t worry if you’re feeling in the dark about it, there’s only a handful of people that aren’t.

So, I was married, but I’d decided to leave. I’d found a new place, packed up all mine and my kiddo’s things, and was going to move out the next morning. My ex also had to move out, because he couldn’t afford the house without me. I was feeling relieved that it was so close to being over (we lived together for a month after we technically split up, and it was pretty fucking weird) to the point of near-giddiness.

The toilet wasn’t working. This wasn’t especially noteworthy, as our house was complete shit, but it was foaming, which was odd. I didn’t think much of it, even when my ex started yelling at his son for causing it. That, too, was pretty normal. Other than that, he was also in a good mood, and we were making small talk about moving the next day while he got ready to take his bath (during The Weird As Fuck Month, he took a bubble bath every single day. Usually while listening to Norah Jones, which was then sorta ruined for me.) I told him I’d noticed our fish were gone, and asked if he had moved them to the new place already. “No, I couldn’t. So they’re dead.” “Oh… could you not have an aquarium at the new place?” “I could, but it was too much work to get them over there.”

There were about nine 4-5 inch long fish in a 60 gallon tank, so the fish would’ve had to been taken out, placed in a temporary home, the tank drained and moved, set up, water cycled through, and then fish moved back in. It is a pain in the ass, but as he was moving a block away, his best friend whom we’d gotten the fish from and who had 4 or 5 extra tanks ready to go at his house lived about a mile away, it was quite doable. I started to say this, and he cut me off, saying, “Nope, couldn’t be done. I tried everything.”

“So you killed the fish?”

“Yep. I cut them up and flushed them. They got stuck, so I poured in some Drano.”

At this point I’m just staring at him, terrified. “So… that’s why the toilet was foaming?”

“Yeah”, he said, laughing, “didn’t work so well.”

“Aannnnd… so your son didn’t break the toilet, it was you? You just let him think he did it?”

“Yep! It’s pretty funny really. They don’t even know what happened!”

There was a look on his face that I can’t really describe, other than as maniacal. He was pleased with himself. Not just because he’d pulled one over on us (if there was a sticker chart for criminal masterminds, I bet he would’ve awarded himself two that day) but simply because he had killed them. Some of them were mine. They had names. I liked them.

When I quietly snuck out as he was sudsing up to “Turn Me On”, I realized that this, in a terrible way, was the closure I needed. For most of our relationship, I’d been manipulated and otherwise mentally fucked with. I had no idea what to believe a lot of the time, because when I expressed concern over something I saw, he’d tell me that I hadn’t seen it. If I tried to stand up for myself, he’d belittle and berate me until I lost my nerve. He’d tell me I was terrible, lazy, fat, and ugly, but that he alone loved me enough to see past all of that. I knew he was crazy, and dangerous. But I wasn’t entirely sure I wasn’t just imagining it.

This confirmed that I wasn’t. This settled the fact that everything I knew about him was real. Fish is the least of what he’s capable of, (which I’d always known, but didn’t want to believe. Even when the bloodstained proof was on my floor) and I lived with a monster. It wasn’t really even that comforting to have my hunch proven to be correct, because it wasn’t good news, and I still had to spend the next 12 hours with him.

Obviously, though, I made it. I learned a thing or two, grew like a motherfucker, and call that shit out when it happens now.(The mental stuff. Nobody else has gone all American Psycho on my pets) From the little I hear, he hasn’t changed. Though I don’t take a lot of joy in it, I’m not surprised at all. (Though I would like him to advance in careers, or at least stop working at restaurants I like, dammit.) He’s a sad, broken little boy, and he probably always will be. Turns out, it’s not my fucking problem. People can’t be “fixed” and I have no desire to try. To keep things fair, I never ask or expect anyone to fix me, either.

 

Later, I found out that prior to this when he’d get angry with me, he’d kill my frogs. I knew the fish didn’t eat them! Little fucking bitch.