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.

Sissaface

Today is Pearl Harbor Day. For most of us, that’s a time to reflect upon the tragedy that threw us into World War II seventy-five years ago, and take a moment to honor those who gave their lives for ours.

For my sister and I, it has an additional meaning. It’s the day we say, “I love you” to each other.

We are a little different, my sister and I. From most of the rest of the world, and from each other. I am definitely the outwardly emotional, sensitive, somewhat flighty one. She is the sensible, no-nonsense, organized one. I’ve been divorced twice, had a kid before either of those marriages, and pepper most sentences with the fuck word. She is still married to the only guy she’s ever dated, they had a baby 11 years in, and I think I’ve heard her say “twat” once. Though I might have imagined that.

Growing up, we hated each other. We shared a room, and since I’m also quite messy and, predictably, she is not, that didn’t go well. I was the annoying little sister who played Barbies and dress-up. She was the know-it-all big sister, who read Anne of Green Gables and organized mini-golf tournaments.

It became a little better once we got our own space to be our own people. Even more so when she left home for college. I thought I would feel free when that happened. And maybe for a while I did. Then… I just missed her.

Somewhere in there, she had become my conscience. My snarky little Jiminy Cricket. I trusted her opinion more than most people’s (whether I actually followed her advice is another story, but I did at least ask for it), and more than that, I just liked hanging out with her.

Holidays were always a big time for my family. We had big dinners, and we visited most everyone we were related to. As kids, my sister, brother and I would spend the drive to these various events singing Christmas carols. Seriously, we were the cheesiest kids ever. But it was fun. So was game night after the dinners, and watching Christmas movies together. Which suddenly was done, with my older siblings away furthering their education. So one year, mid-holiday season, I text both of them to tell them I loved and missed them. My brother, being the giant teddy bear he is, text back that he loved and missed me, too. My sister replied, “What, Pearl Harbor Day got you all choked up?” And that was the beginning of our holiday.

It took a couple years to catch on. At first, I would text her, “It’s Pearl Harbor Day! I love you!” and she would respond with “You’re a freak.”

But I persisted. Because not only do I truly love her just the way she is, I know her. I know there’s not actually a mean bone in her body. I know that though she finds it easier to say things like, “You look like a hooker in that shirt” than “You’re pretty”, she is also one of the sweetest, most genuine people I have ever met. She doesn’t rely on words though, she takes action. She shows up. Always.

We have a lot in common, too. We’re both sarcastic and snarky. We hate Barry Manilow (though we sing along to quite a few of his songs), love Harry Potter, and enjoy rearranging our mom’s Christmas decorations to say sacrilegious things. Though our faces don’t look much alike, we make the same “are you freaking kidding me, moron?” expression that gives us away every time. We both have loud, infectious laughs (though she doesn’t snort or car-alarm…) and amazing smiles. Our kids are the forces that keep us striving to be better, we’re wonderful moms and hilarious aunts.

We were also both abused by someone we should have been able to trust. We dealt with it differently, and we came together to fight it. We learned that we could rely on each other, and when the people that were supposed to protect us didn’t, we stepped up. We became for each other a version of the thing we were robbed of. Sometimes I need someone I feel safe with to tell me what I need to hear, and sometimes she needs someone to tell her they care about her, and are proud of her.

Though it was an accident, born of weird timing and snark, it remains our little holiday on purpose. The two of us have been through a war together, and we came out victorious.

We even celebrate twice a year now. Today, and Flag Day (and yeah, we made tiny flags for each other this year. Because we’re super cool. Don’t be jealous.).

So while you’re thanking a Vet for their service and remembering the lives that were ended in such a devastating way, I invite you to take part in our day, too. Think of someone you have trouble opening up to, who you don’t share with often, who means a lot to you, and tell them. Even if it’s awkward, painful, and ends in, “… so yeah, ya freak, I love you and stuff.” Try it out. It’s worth it.

 

 

To my sissa, my Jiminy, my safe person… I love you more than even my endless, rambling words could ever really say.

Maximum effort.

So. Here we are. Mid-holiday, post-electionaclypse, pre-Actual Doomsday.

Immediately after Von Douchelord’s acceptance speech, I knew my days of sitting on the sidelines were over. But, it’s also not as if I know what in the great green fuck I’m doing, so mostly, I was just hopping around, mad and lost. I don’t think I was alone.

First, I got all worked up, and was ready to spring into action. Then, I got sort of caught up in a debate about white privilege, and I lost my courage. What if I did it wrong? What if I made it worse? What if I further offended the very people I’m trying to protect? What did it even mean to protect them? Was I sure I really could, or was I just caught up in the moment?

It’s a learning experience, for a lot of people. But, at the same time, though circumstances may be different now, this doesn’t take away from the fact that this is NOT new for so many people. That discrimination and a system stacked against them is daily life for a lot of people. They have been fighting for quite some time, and this is just another day in the battle. That needs recognized, and respected.

So, up I hopped again. But good god, what do I do?? There’s so many directions to be pulled in. There’s so many things that need fixed. So many people that are hurting. So. Much. Gaaaah.

I can’t fix the world. But I can help it. In order to not be overwhelmed and shut down completely, I need to narrow my focus, and figure out where my strengths are. Easy. Love. Love is always my goal. And what, besides that, have I got to give this world? Sass and profanities.

Since the election, there seems to be a new trend of randomly yelling that one is a Trump supporter in public places. It’s usually accompanied by more offensive language, and rude behavior. Why this is a thing baffles me. One, it’s usually pretty irrelevant, and two… dude, that’s not really something to brag about. It’s like saying, “I flipped the switch on the gas chamber in Auschwitz!” No really. A lot like that. But… reasoning with people who respond to an inquiry about purchasing a shopping bag, taking a seat on a plane, or standing in a quiet line at a grocery store with, “I VOTED FOR TRUMP, BITCH! WHAT YOU GONNA DO?” is… tricky. Yet, our longstanding shy-liberal method of ignoring people ’til they wear themselves out isn’t working either. I mean, that’s the shit that got us here, in part. So what to do?

I don’t have the universal answer. This is just mine.It’s not even my whole plan, just a small part. But ultimately, I will not hide, I will not look down in shame, and I will not be quiet.

I’m going to do nice things. Help people carry groceries, open doors, pay for a stranger’s coffee. Show love. Especially to those who make it clear they don’t share my views. And then, I’m going to look them right in the eye, and shout, “I VOTED FOR HILLARY, MOTHERFUCKER. I FUCKING LOVE YOU. YOU’RE A GODDAMNED WONDERFUL HUMAN. I HOPE YOUR DAY IS MAGFUCKINGNIFICENT.”

And I’m going to mean it.

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.