As hard as you try, no I will never be knocked down.

The danger is real. People will say that there’s nothing to be afraid of, that the president doesn’t have that much power, that Trump isn’t really that bad. Those are all lies. Maybe we tell them to ourselves to calm our nerves. Maybe to justify an outcome we played a part in putting into motion. Whatever the reason, it doesn’t make them more true.

He has told us time and time again exactly who he is. It would be foolish not to believe him and prepare. He IS that bad. He’s an admitted sexual predator. He’s a racist, misogynistic,  entitled, xenophobic, homophobic zealot. He openly and enthusiastically incites violence towards those who don’t agree with him. He, and the other Republicans, now have the presidency, House and Senate. That does give them quite a bit of power. Maybe they won’t be unopposed, but it will be a lot easier for them to enact their self-serving plans than it was for say… someone to create a healthcare system. Also, if people don’t really believe he’s going to do what he says, why vote for him? Isn’t the the point, that we vote for a candidate that we believe in?

But we already know all of this. Even if we choose to disregard it, because a big ol’ pervy scumbag makes us a lot more comfortable then one of them uppity womenfolk with their big idears, tryin’ to tell men how to live their lives. The proof is still there.

That kind of person, backed by supporters with that kind of thinking is scary. We’ve already seen it happening, it’s not our imagination, shit has already hit the fan.

But. We’re going to make it.

It will take effort, and we’ll definitely have to get further out of our comfort zones (I’m assuming nobody is still in theirs. If so, you might need to reevaluate.). It’ll take a strength that a lot of us haven’t known before. But it’s there.

Know how I know?

Because this is just another douchebag. Just another controlling dickbag telling us how to think, how to act, who our friends can be, what to wear…

It’s just another insecure, narcissistic assclown. And we have no tolerance for that shit. It’s all been tried before. And it’s never worked. We’re still here, and we’re not going anywhere.

That so many people I know have suffered abuse is not cute or fun. But, if you have, and you’re reading this, you made it. That’s what I’m talking about. We have the skills, we can do it again, and every time we get better and stronger. This time, we’re all doing it at once. We’re standing together to show our abusive future leader that we will not tolerate this. We’re checking in on each other, we’re helping each other back up when it gets to be too much, and we’re becoming safe allies to those who deal with the abuse from his supporters in their daily lives.

We combat this with love. Respect. Patience. Listening. As Douchelord VonCheeto* tries his best to tear this country apart, we prepare to put the pieces back together. We remember that we’re ALL in this together, and the greatest motivator on both sides is fear. While we do not stand for the abuse, we recognize that everyone is hurting, and do what we can to connect with those we don’t agree with. To keep them safe too. It’s the only way.

So throw on some Adele, put on your sassiest t-shirt, maybe wing that eyeliner extra wide, and let’s break up with this loser.

 

 

*The fact that I called him a name mere moments after saying we combat this with respect is not lost on me. I will do my best to respect the citizens of this country. My country. But he gets none. Also, yesterday I called him Satan’s Bleached Asshole, if that one is more to your liking.

You may say I’m a dreamer. But I’m not the only one.

Sometime before the primaries, I was hanging out with some family. I let my feelings about the over-the-top conservatives be known, and someone sassily responded with “I bet you’re voting for Hillary.” I responded with disgust. “Fuck no. I’m voting for Bernie.”

I did. And that didn’t really pan out. So I dragged my feet over to Hillary’s camp. Because Trump was never a choice. So much that I wouldn’t mess around with a third party candidate, worried that it would be a vote taken away from the only person who actually stands a chance of stopping him. Not just that, though. I didn’t like them. Grudgingly, I admitted that Hillary was in fact qualified. She wasn’t just “not Trump”, she deserved the job.

As I sit here watching the election updates, I am more than a little scared of how close this election has become. But, I’m also proud. I’m proud to be a woman, I’m proud to be able to have my voice be heard, and I’m proud to stand behind this candidate and declare my support.

I really didn’t have great reasons to dislike her. I mean, she is a little more centerist than I like my liberals, but it wasn’t that. She just… bothered me. I’m pretty sure my reasons were pretty close to the ones most people don’t like her, if they’re being honest. They can quote all the paranoid conspiracies they’d like, but she is just easy to dislike. She’s cranky. She’s not overly attractive. Her voice is harsh. She’s hardly ever funny on purpose. And, oh yeah. She’s a she. That last one wasn’t so much a deterrent for me personally, but it’s a huge one for a lot of people. Again, they sometimes hide it behind other doors, but it doesn’t change what it really is.

All of those reasons are bullshit.

She’s what we need. She has spent decades trying to bust through that glass ceiling. It’s not easy. There are so many things that we are just expected to do. It goes beyond staying in the kitchen. Women are expected to stay home, to defer to men, to speak softly, to care more about their appearance than much of anything else, to be weaker, and to always let the man take the lead.

Fuck all that. No… let’s just take a moment here. Reread that small portion of the ridiculous list of things women are expected to do. FUCK. THAT.

SO.

MUCH.

When I think about what she’s had to endure to get here, I’m totally in awe. She keeps going. She’s got the thickest skin I’ve ever seen. She doesn’t dumb herself down to make the menfolk more comfortable. She doesn’t speak in soft tones to make you feel soothed. She means fucking business.

That is who we need.

Need.

No matter what happens, I’m proud of her. And I know that whatever happens, ultimately, we’ll make it. Us women have been fighting our entire lives. We aren’t stopping now.

 

 

My my my my my sensi-shoes.

Yesterday I talked about being brave, and how it took me quite a while to realize it’s actually part of who I am. In contrast, I have always known I was sensitive. Despite my love of colorful language and screaming along with power ballads, I’m just a little baby duckling in women’s clothing (alright, angsty teenage nerd clothing. Whatever.). I was in high school before I mastered being able to read aloud without crying. The word “retard” causes me physical pain. (I WANT TO DELETE THAT SENTENCE SO BAD.) I lose my shizz over The Notebook every single time I watch it.

Even if I hadn’t caught on myself, I’ve been told numerous times. I’m pretty sure it’s come up at least once with everyone I’ve dated. Sometimes it’s in an, “awww, the poor wittle duckwing” kind of way. But usually, it’s accompanied by a speech on how this makes me a useless human.

That’s the thing about being strong AND sensitive, though. I know when to do which, how to be comfortable in my own skin, and when to just tell people to go fuck themselves. My sensitivity is one of my greatest strengths. It allows me to connect to people. Feeling someone’s pain is a great motivator. It keeps me fighting when I want to give up. Because whatever is hurting me, is hurting someone else, too. Though I try not to cross over into full blown martyrdom, I’ll do whatever I can not to see someone hurt.

It also helps me find something to relate to, even with people I disagree with. Remember that they’re human, too. While I do have my limits and will indeed tell someone to kiss my shiny metal ass, it’s not right off the bat (usually. These fucking Trump supporters are testing me, though.). For the most part, I can have reasonable, respectful conversations with people on opposite sides of the topic.

However, there was a brief time that I wasn’t this way. My “freeze” instinct had fully taken over, and for months, nothing bothered me. Nothing made me happy, either. I was completely numb. Not like “Oh, I’m just a little off today”. More like, “I’m not completely convinced I’m actually a real person anymore, and should probably be put on a watch list.” I cannot describe to you how incredibly terrifying that was. Partly because I’ve blocked a lot of it out. But I can tell you for 100% certainty that given the choice, (which I was! So… really. 100%) I will take being a sensi-shoe wearing crybaby any day of the week.

There’s a lot of talk of the world becoming too sensitive nowadays. We’re not. We’re becoming more human. More empathetic. More compassionate. Microaggressions are a thing. Casual racism is a thing. Rape culture, victim blaming, white privilege, rampant misogyny… all things. They all need paid attention to, and stopped. Because we’re all people deserving of respect. Even if you don’t get offended by the same things, it’s not unreasonable to ask that you understand that someone else does. Then, take it a step further and stop whatever it is. Prevent it from happening again. Stand up against it. Care for one another. We’re all in this together, end of story.

If you need any pointers, I’m happy to help. Or to watch The Notebook with you. I can’t help it (nor would I want to), I just fucking love that shit.

 

I’m only brave when I have to be.

The first time someone told me they admired my strength, I was 15. It was after the communion service at church camp, which was always a moving ceremony. This year, the planning team had us stand silently on a hill, with our arms spread wide, eyes closed, as they wandered around “spitting” on us (they really just flicked water on our foreheads and made the noise simultaneously) and calling us names. The point was to get a new perspective on the crucifixion, and it had quite the impact on me. One of the planning crew, an upperclassman, came up to me afterwards and told me that she was moved by how I stood there, perfectly still, tears running down my face. “You weren’t ashamed,” she said. “You didn’t try to hide that you were crying, and you never made a sound. You just stood there, head held high. You’re so strong.” I was still trying to overcome my shock that she knew my name, finally managed to smile and thank her quickly before scurrying away.

When other people told me as I got older, I usually assumed they were talking about someone else. I didn’t correct them, I just smiled appreciatively while trying to remember who I was next to in whatever situation they were citing that they might have me confused with. I’m not strong. I don’t save the day, I’m not a hero, I’ve never pulled a car off someone or saved them from an oncoming train. I don’t stand up for myself often, I don’t have unwavering morals that I will die defending, I can’t even tell you where I want to fucking eat most of the time. I’m just… me.

Then, a line in a song* broke through my stubborn wall of self-depreciating thoughts. “Tell me how do broken hearts get strong?” The first time I heard it, I immediately thought, “You just go on.” Wait… I know an answer to this? But… so that means… I am… strong?

Holy fuckballs.

Maybe being strong isn’t about how much you can carry, or being the bravest. Maybe it’s about continuing, when you really don’t want to. Or recognizing when it’s better to scrap it and try a new path, even when that thought is more terrifying than staying. It’s just… going. Slowly, sometimes, and usually with a bit of fear. But still. Going. Doing. Carrying on.

It doesn’t mean suffering in silence, either. Though that image is what started this whole bit of self-discovery, I’ve since learned that it’s even tougher to ask for help than it is to silently bear my crosses. In this lesson, tougher usually seems to equate to more worthwhile. Though it’s true that I’m hardly ever silent, I’m not always saying things that have a lot of meaning. That opens a person up to being vulnerable. As it turns out though, I already was. When I stand up and say what I mean, no matter the consequences, I have more control over just how vulnerable.

My son was having an issue with school a couple weeks ago. When we began talking about what he needed to do to fix it, he started shutting down and I could see him telling himself he couldn’t do this, that he wasn’t capable.

“Hey,” I told him, “this is going to suck, probably, but you can do it. Know how I know? Because you’re strong. Even when you don’t want to, you keep going. You do what has to be done, and you always come through the other side. Know why I can see it? Because I’m strong, too. This is who we are.”

I might not rush into a burning building anytime soon. I can’t lift things over 9 pounds over my head. I’m not heading up any committees to actively change the world, and I probably won’t be giving any noteworthy speeches in a town square in the near future. But I will keep going. I know I’ll make it. Because this once broken heart has made it through every single thing life has thrown so far, and there’s no way we’re stopping now.

 

 

 

 

 

*For anyone wondering, the song is “Drink You Gone” off Ingrid Michaelson’s newest album, It Doesn’t Have to Make Sense. It’s a lovely song… other than the line “… just like you ate my heart out.” which makes me slightly uncomfortable. But that’s a me thing. Contextually, the line makes perfect sense.

For the future.

I am one of Those people. The kind who start long Facebook posts with “I usually stay out of politics, but…” And that’s exactly what I’m doing now. Just to be clear.

I have worn out my welcome to use that phrase in the last few months, but prior to this year, I really couldn’t have given two craps about most political events. I voted. I knew what I liked, what I wouldn’t stand for, but I didn’t have any real passion for it. I didn’t do much research, I didn’t get worked up about things, I just submitted my ballot every so often with a shrug and probably a write-in for Donald Duck somewhere.

Those days are far behind me. I didn’t want to be this person, but then… the debate over the Confederate flag happened. There was a part of me that was shocked at first that this was even a debate at all, but especially here in Oregon. We weren’t really a part of it. (We sent one troop. And we were part of the Union.) Regardless, jacknobs tore down the streets in their giant trucks with the good ‘ol stars and bars waving from the beds, yelling about heritage and history. It unfroze me from my shock. This is who we’re saying we are? That this completely bullshit symbol (THAT FOR THE LOVE OF GOD ISN’T EVEN PART OF OUR FUCKING “HERITAGE”. We’re across the goddamned country. WE NEVER TRIED TO CEDE FROM THE FUCKING UNION.) was more important than people? Not just a couple, but an entire race? That we were willing to completely disregard their feelings, at the very least, for a fucking flag? What?

I was not willing to be represented this way. I wasn’t going to let my silence lump me in with this crowd. I was going to make it clear that this is not who I am. So I did. And nobody listened. Or they told me I didn’t know what I was talking about. (Bitch please. I’m a female in the automotive industry. Next time try bringing a new dish to the table.) But that didn’t really matter to me. I kept saying it. Still do. And I’m not done there.

My son and I were chit-chatting on the way home from football practice tonight. We got on the subject of the presidential election, as we often do. Today was the first time I’ve really shared my opinion with him, though. I wanted him to form his own, based on his own research, beliefs, and feelings. He is very anti-Trump. This isn’t at all shocking to me, because I know him, and how he processes things. He is baffled, however, that there are people who aren’t.

When we discuss these things, I try to present both sides to him. I attempt to be as fair as possible, because that’s how I want him to be. But above all, I  have to instill good values in my son. That we don’t generalize, follow stereotypes, use racist language, demean people, laugh at their pain, or try to use it to our advantage. That’s all Trump is. Entirely. And let me make it clear right now that the above values are just that, they have nothing at all to do with “political correctness”. We don’t use stereotypes because we treat people like people, not because it’s frowned upon. We don’t make racist comments because we aknowledge that it is hurtful and thoughtless, not because it’s unpopular or taboo. I’m not afraid of hurting people. I am mindful of it.

Which means I no longer compare Trump’s behavior to that of a middle-schooler’s. Because mine is so much more mature than that, and I would never tear him down that way.

I’d say to go ahead and try to justify being a Trump supporter to me, but frankly, I don’t want to fucking hear it. But maybe you should think about how you would justify it to a child. Tell them when it’s ok to call a Venezuelan woman “Miss Housekeeping”. List out for them all the ways rich people can benefit from working people (which you more than likely are. Odds, not generalization.) being laid off, your jobs being outsourced, your homes being forclosed on. Explain that that’s alright, because personal gain is the ultimate goal, no matter the cost to others. Look your daughter/neice/granddaughter/baby cousin in the eye and tell her why her looks are the total sum of all she will ever be, and if she doesn’t take care of them, she deserves to be shamed. Teach them that when you don’t get your way, you blame others, you call names, and you change the subject. Perhaps (and hopefully) you’ve spent time teaching them the exact opposite,  but if you really back up what Trump stands for, you’re going to have to rethink some things, right?

And no. I didn’t try to win any points by playing the kid card. They’ve been in this game the whole time.

Domestic Goddess I am Not.

I have several exes who can tell you that I am not a natural homemaker. I didn’t come stock with domestic tendencies, I don’t run a tight ship, and I am not someone that would be described as “neat and tidy” ever. I don’t live in total squalor, I just don’t make cleaning my house as much of a priority as some might.

When I do clean, I mostly just straighten.Push the junk to the edges to make the middle look clean, like veggies on a 6 year old’s plate. I’m a big fan of cramming things inside other things and putting a pretty sheet on top of it to hide the whole mess. Not so shockingly, this is how I tend to deal with emotional issues, too. I put them in little boxes to be gone through later, I straighten them out enough to pass for having my shit together, and I cover them up with a new hairstyle and fun earrings. (Don’t ever underestimate the power of fancy, shiny earrings.)

Turns out, this isn’t the best long term plan for either dwelling. The clutter eventually overpowers us all. (There’s a Shel Silverstein poem about this, actually. Ok, maybe Sarah Cynthia Silvia Stout isn’t about this exact thing, but… close.)

The time came to clean house. First, I chose to focus on my emotional abode. I unpacked all the crap I had crammed away into random spaces, and spread it all out on the floor. I took inventory, got rid of what I could, and reorganized the rest with handy little labels. Really, that makes it sound almost fun, when in reality, it was a whole lot of me sitting on my couch staring at the wall, writing angry letters, and bursting into tears over the death of my fantasy TV alien dad (I can’t be the only one that wished they were part Vulcan, can I?). It’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work, and it’s fucking exhausting. It’s making a point to think about things I intentionally block out, saying out loud things I’ve never told anyone before, and confronting people I’ve been terrified of since age 4. (Even if that confrontation comes in the form of a letter that will never be sent, it’s a start.) One day, it might also be telling my story. But today isn’t that day, so vague hints are all there is for now.

Re-shelving what remains doesn’t mean I’m done with it forever. It just means I’ve looked at it, I was honest about how I felt about it, and I put it where it belonged instead of just sweeping it under the rug. I could get rid of it later, but for now, it’s too painful to part with.

While all of this was happening, my actual house suffered a bit more than usual. It was taking all the energy I had to appear in public for 40 hours a week, masquerading as a functioning adult, and keep a teenager from starving to death. I had nothing left for my friends, I wasn’t really showing up for the rest of my family, so I definitely had no energy for things like picking up my shoes. (And seriously. I have a lot of shoes.) At first, I felt guilty. Partly, because that’s like breathing for me, I’m pretty sure most things are somehow the result of my negligence. But also because I thought I was being a terrible role model for my son. However, there was something else he needed to see. That we have to take care of ourselves, and sometimes that means letting ourselves be lazy. Like everything, there’s boundaries, and healthy limits, but sometimes, we just need to watch 3 hours of The Big Bang Theory in our sweatpants while eating Taco Bell, and that’s perfectly fine. Even if it’s 3 nights a week instead of just once in a while. Everyone needs compassion and understanding, and we need it from ourselves most of all. Also, I asked him for help. That’s not an easy thing for me either, but it’s something I want to try to teach to him. Without going into a lot of detail, I just told him I was tired, and I needed him to pick up a little of my slack, even when it might not be totally fair. Since he’s an amazing human, and I pay him $10 a week, he did it with very little resistance.

Today, I cleaned my kitchen. Not just straightened, scrubbed with a toothbrush. There’s still some major cleaning to do on every front, but I think I’ve got a handle on all of it. If I don’t, that’s ok, too. The multitude of stray shoes will still be there when I’m ready.

This is my fight song. (But don’t sing it at the dinner table.)

I thought as a child that when I became an adult, I would just magically know all the things. That I would suddenly be able to read out loud without crying, I’d figure out how to tell people what I felt, I’d instantly become responsible and confident, and I’d make Thanksgiving dinners. Though I do now have a pretty good handle on all but the turkey roasting, it definitely was not an overnight success story. I had to fuck a whole lotta shit up to get where I am today.

I control what happens to me these days. I alone decide who I am. And I accept full responsibility for my actions. But… it wasn’t always that way. Tiny Me had to learn things from someone. And oh how I did! How to tie my shoes, to duck if a lawn dart is being thrown at your head (and if you can’t duck, goose!) what to do in case of a fire, to always be obedient, how to count to 100, kids are usually lying where as adults are always to be respected, proper techniques for baiting a hook, how to outline the picture in crayon first to make coloring inside the lines easier, and to never, ever say “no”. So many things!

Clearly not all of those are useful as an adult. Truthfully, some of them weren’t as a child, either, but that’s done with. It’s hard to relearn things, though. Some of us are rational thinkers. Logic can be used to find the flaw, it then gets replaced with the correct method, and paths reset. I am not one of these people. I am an emotional thinker. My reactions tell me what to do and where to go. Making people uncomfortable, upsetting adults (which I still don’t consider myself unless I stop to actually think about it) and saying “no” are painful. I have physical memories of what happens when you do those things, and I don’t want them repeated. (Even though rational thought might point out that my dad probably isn’t going to tackle me, sit on me, and while hitting me tell me he’s tired of hearing my opinion anymore, uh, I believe we just went over how “rational thought” and I are more like pen-pals than bffs.)

Sometimes, though, you have to upset that fucking apple cart. Just because something has always been done a certain way, doesn’t at all make it right. I have a son, and I’ll be goddamned if he’s going to be 30 years old and panicking at the thought of having to call the landlord because the hot water heater doesn’t work. But I can’t just tell him, I have to show him. I’m also not trying to pretend this is all me sacrificing myself for him, either. I want this for myself, because I deserve better. I’m not being a martyr and jumping in front of bullets lest someone I care about suffer a grazing shot to the pinky toe. I set rules, and boundaries, and all kinds of fun shit, just for me. It’s actually really exciting.

It’s also incredibly exhausting. Once again, there is no switch. Tiny Me is still huddled up in there, trying to make us invisible whenever the threat of upsetting someone arises. Whispering to me that we’re doing the wrong things, and people won’t like it. It’s a battle. But it’s one I choose, and one I’ll win.

If this current battle had a flag, it would say this:

I’m done keeping other people’s secrets.

 

It would probably also have two giant hands, both flipping the bird on it, just because that’s how I roll. Taking the high road, motherfuckers.