While My Pretty One Sleeps

My son and I are talking about social issues more and more. Part of me wants to shield him from the world, and keep him from worrying, but I also know that we have responsibilities, and he shouldn’t have to learn about them all on his own. It’s difficult, I’m in uncharted waters for most of it, and there’s always this voice in my mind saying I’m forcing him to be what I want, not what he wants. (I could write a great deal on whose voice that is, but I’ll save that for another day.)

I know who my son is. At the age of 5 he told me he wanted to grow up and find a way to stop the pollution from hurting the planet. When he was 9 he told me he wanted to work in the jungle, to try to keep it from dying. At 12 he told me if he had a time machine, the first thing he’d use it for is going back to the 1600’s and stopping slavery. Last week, he asked when the next Black Lives Matter rally is, because he wants to march. All of these were completely his own idea, brought about because under that shoulder-shrugging, Call of Duty playing, sulky teen exterior, is a sweet boy who cares. Who loves. Who is scared and angry with the way the world is turning out.

So we talk.

However, my son is also growing. Up until about 5 months ago, he was pretty small for his age. He’s since grown about 6 inches, and doesn’t seem to be stopping. This requires a lot of naps, and they tend to happen as soon as he is calm and relaxed. So…. when we start talking. Part of me wants to wake him up, because hey, bedtime schedules, and also I was in the middle of saying something. But that part of me that wishes I could still pick him up and carry him around, that plays with his hair whenever he lets me, that part lets him sleep.

While he does, I read about the other babies. The boys who don’t have it as easy as my white, blue-eyed kiddo. I read about the sons that didn’t get to grow up and change the world, because someone else decided to end their stories early. The mamas who don’t just worry about too much screen time and fast food, they worry about their kids walking in parks and going to the convenience store. The fathers who are torn from their children for having busted tail lights, then blamed posthumously as if a minor crime committed years before justifies them no longer existing. The aunties that are fine one moment, dead the next, and nobody looks into it. The kids who just want to walk down the street wearing a hoodie. The stories go on and on. There are no shortage of them, and they rip me open, every time. Because we did this. We brought the world to this, and then we turned away and ignored it. Pretended it wasn’t happening, told the victims they brought it on themselves.

Sometimes, I let him sleep, just a little longer. I play with his blonde hair that doesn’t get a second glance by a police officer, and I pretend for a moment that if he’s asleep, he’s safe.

But he’s already safe. I know this. We can’t ignore it. We can’t sleep through it.

Time to get woke.

 

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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.

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.

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.

Just walk beside me, and hold my hand.

I don’t want a love that makes me dizzy. I don’t want to fall head over heels for someone. I want it to be slow, and more importantly, steady. I want to remain standing, with my balance as firmly in tact as it ever is, and calmly say that I love the person next to me.

I don’t want this declaration to be earth-shattering or route-altering. I want these words to mean something to the recipient, but no more than any of the others I say. My love will not be a cage, it will not be an expectation. It will be acceptance, and joy in who they are.

I don’t want someone to compare my eyes to rare gemstones, or promise me eternities. I want uncomfortable honesty in telling me what they truly believe they are and are not capable of.

I don’t want or need to be rescued from anything. I won’t wait patiently in my tower of solitude for someone to notice my wistful sighing and bring me the life I’ve dreamed of. I’m chiseling myself the fuck out of there, and working towards what I want on my own. When the right person comes along, we’ll work side by side to create something that fits us, together.

I don’t want romance. I want reality. Even when it sucks. Even when it seems like hearing I’m the most beautiful woman in the world would be so much more fun than being told that I have lettuce in my hair, again. Because it’s not real. Words are just words, no thought or truth is required to be behind them before they’re allowed to exit a mouth. The next time I swoon over something someone says, it will be because they were speaking with a British accent, or quoting “Friends” flawlessly. I’m not bitter and resentful, it’s just that any starry-eyed dreams I dream these days are reserved for goals I can achieve myself, not for love.

Love doesn’t belong in the stars. It’s not an unobtainable, unreachable cosmic power. It’s here, and it belongs to everyone.