purple L

Body and Gender Shaming in a Wal-Mart bathroom

Yesterday, we were doing our shopping at Wal-Mart when I came to the uncomfortable realization that I had to pee. I'm not a big fan of public restrooms, because of their dubious cleanliness mostly, but hey when you've got to go...

My husband was with me, so I left him to watch the cart and wait for me outside the ladies room and went in to do my thing. As soon as I got in there, a lady confronted me.


I looked around a moment, and then realized she was talking to me. It's not first time I've been misgendered by any means - but I'm surprised by it in the context, as I am in the ladies room.

"Hm?" I say, not bothering to correct her.


"OKay." Yes, statement of fact. Point?

"You're a man! You can't be in here."

"... first off, I'm not a man, thanks. But even if I had male parts- I could be a trans woman, using the restroom I feel most comfortable in. That's not a bad thing."
"OH yes it is! And you ARE a man. You ain't fooling me--"

And then she starts listing the reasons she KNOWS I am a guy. According to the sage wisdom of some random lady in Wal-Mart, here are the compelling reasons that I am a guy:

-- Too tall to be a woman (I'm six foot)
-- Too fat to be a woman (I weigh 350 lbs)
-- Wearing MAN CLOTHES (a t-shirt, jeans, flip-flops)
-- Unpainted short nails
-- No makeup
--- Short MAN HAIRCUT (in purple no less!)

At this point I was incredulous, but really had to pee so I said "OKay-- now you're just being a weirdo. Can you work out your issues elsewhere, because I really have to pee." and ducked into a stall.

She started yelling how I was the weirdo, and then harrumphed off.

This isn't the first time by any means I've been misgendered, and I've been fat shamed, height shamed, and clothing / makeup / hair shamed all before too. It's the first time they've all come together, and been used as evidence that I didn't belong in the space I was occupying.

I spent most of yesterday feeling bad about myself. Maybe I could put up with the terrible sensory issues that come from having long nails and wearing makeup to make myself more feminine. Maybe I should go back to wearing my hair long even though it's way more comfortable for me to have it short. Maybe I shouldn't have worn a twenty-year old t-shirt that belonged to my deceased father out in public. Maybe my comfortable flip flops should be exchanged for girly ones. I could try harder to lose weight. Slouch like I did in high school to try and fit in better with the height of those around me. I don't try very hard to fit in with society.

Last night, I had the dreams that come after such incidents thanks to my PTSD. I dreamed that I was alone, that I couldn't find my husband or any of our friends, and that I was walking through an unfamiliar place. I tried to stop people to ask where I was, and where I could find those I was looking for, but no one would talk to me- only point and laugh.

This morning I woke up feeling angry. Angry at that lady in the bathroom for her judgment. Angry at myself for falling into old habits of thinking (It must be my fault. I have to fix me. I'm wrong. I'm bad.) Angry that there are so many people in this country facing worse than this just for trying to be who they are.

Writing about this has helped alleviate some of that anger, and I am trying to root out those last bits of shame and fear that I am not ever going to fit in with society. Why would I want to? I want to be me. I like being me. I like my short purple hair. I like being tall. My health is getting better all the time and my weight doesn't hold me back. I like wearing soft, comfortable old clothes. My dad's t-shirt reminds me of my dad. I like keeping my nails short and out of the way because it helps my sensory issues. If anyone doesn't understand that-- well, that's on THEM, not on me.
purple L

One month Post Hysterectomy

It's been one month since my entire uterus, cervix, tubes and one ovary have been removed laproscopically. I have had remarkably little problems -- everything has healed up nicely, I haven't had a lot of pain, I'm almost entirely back to my routine. I have been feeling very positive about the uterus being gone.

It's been kind of a troublemaker since the beginning. As a teen, I had very heavy and unpredictable periods. As a young adult, I had problems with it in pregnancy - I had to have two c-sections because of it. Also, it was retroverted - that is, facing backwards. The in middle age it started spawning fibroids, and finally became diseased. So will I miss my uterus? Heck no! I know they say that some women experience a certain kind of sadness in losing an organ that marks their female sex and reproduction -- nope, not me. Good bye, and good riddance.

Doctor says with my one remaining ovary, I might still have some cycle symptoms as if I were about to have a period. I guess it will make the futile attempt to spit out an egg on a monthly-ish basis until I hit menopause. Haven't felt any indication of that as yet, but then again I've never had a normal cycle so who knows when if at all that will happen. I have felt some ups and down emotionally as my body adjusts to different hormone levels, but nothing big.

For the first few weeks I had some really bad sweats and clamminess, but that is gone now too.

I am looking forward to warmer weather to get more exercise (though we have been walking around stores, and even a little outside as weather permits). I am really hoping to build up my stamina for events now that some of the health problems are out of the way. I want to be able to vend these muilti-day out of state events that we are starting to look at (for example we will be at Amazicon in DE the weekend of April 7th, three days) without feeling completely dregged out by them. Big bucks, no whammies!

And now that I can lift things and get around again, time to start adding more fresh home cooked meals and less of the frozen and boxed we have been relying on while I was recovering.

It's weird to look forward to cooking and cleaning and exercise, but I am glad to be in the kind of health where I can do that.
hellz no indy

Living Drama free - a continual conscious choice

I grew up in a very drama heavy household. When you are the daughter of a bipolar alcoholic and a narcissistic personality disorder with OCD, you're not getting the drama free childhood package. Someone in our family was always screaming about something - insults, things not done 'right', the crisis of the moment. Everything was a Big Deal. Problems escalated from zero to full blown drama almost instantly at times, with little cause and effect.

It was difficult, if not entirely impossible, to determine what situations would lead to drama. When you are dealing with two people with untreated mental illness who have less than a high school education, there is a lot of blame placing and a lot of lack of understanding of their own responsibility in the situation. As a child I felt helpless to understand the forces that drove my parents, and therefore my life, to these peaks of anger, violence, and blame.

I might be beaten for anything from spilling milk (age 3) to saying I didn't like a birthday present (age 9). I was threatened verbally with everything from being sold to gypsies (very young) to being kicked out of the house (teen) for not doing whatever was expected at me from whichever of them felt like being parental at the time. The problem was there was never any consistency to the rules, or comprehension of how to stay out of 'trouble.' Trouble was whatever they thought you shouldn't be doing at any given minute. I lived in a state of perpetual fear and horror that is a big reason for my c-ptsd today.

As a young adult, I often found myself in dramatic situations of my own. Things just seemed to 'happen to me' and I felt powerless to affect the world around me, due to lack of funds, experience, and in some cases, sanity. I had poor planning skills and untreated mental illness, and a childhood that had not prepared me to function as an adult in the wolrd.

Now I am a middle aged adult, and I live remarkably drama free. I am happy! I am kind. I am helpful. I make conscious choices to be so. How did I arrive at this point?

1) Therapy. A lot of therapy you guys. Like... a lot. CBT, EMDR, and art therapy. Learning to process all my childhood trauma, and how to express my emotions appropriately and take responsibility for my own actions helped TREMENDOUSLY. I can't stress this enough. You don't have to sit down on a couch to talk to Dr.Freud about your mother. You can read Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Dummies on your Kindle, or see a grief counselor, or start art journaling to explore your emotional states. The important part is to Start. Start somewhere. Move forward. Take responsibility for your own happiness.

2) Medication. Folks, sometimes you need meds. There is no shame in that. If you had diabetes, you would need insulin. If you have high blood pressure, you would take a blood pressure med. Do not fear needing to be medicated for your anxiety, depression, or other mental or mood disorders. Your body might be deficient in certain chemicals, and there's no shame in that. Take responsibilty for your meds - tell the doctor if a med doesn't work right so it can be adjusted, don't just stop taking or stop seeing the doctor. IT took a few YEARS to get my perfect combo of medications down. It was rough at times, no lie. But it was worth it in the end!

3) Going no contact with toxic relations and friends. If someone is putting you down, causing drama in your life, treating you like shit -- cut them loose. Regardless of whether ir is your parent, your child, your spouse. NO CONTACT. Zero. None. If someone knocks on the door and says hello, I'm here to destroy your self esteem and tell you what a horrible person you are -- would you let that stranger in? No? Then don't let your relative in. In this day and age, we are SO globally connected. You can find your true family that will love and support you. Don't hold on to friends or family who don't out of fear that you will never find anyone else. You will!

4) Take responsibility for you. This means your emotional states, your behaviors, how you move through and interact with the world. Find joy in little things. You are worth it. Let go of hate, anger, pain wherever you can - it's only hurting you to hold on to them. Be kind where you can, be supportive where you can, spread love not hate. Every day there are a million little choices to make. Make them conscientiously.

5) Don't engage in drama. Just don't. If you see it happening, walk away. If it tries to follow you screaming its way into your life--- close the door. Hang up the phone. Turn off the computer. Then go do something that makes you happy. You deserve it.
me with gloves

Welcome to the new age

I'm waking up to ash and dust
I wipe my brow and I sweat my rust
I'm breathing in the chemicals

I'm breaking in, shaping up, then checking out on the prison bus
This is it, the apocalypse
Whoa oh

I'm waking up, I feel it in my bones
Enough to make my system blow
Welcome to the new age, to the new age

I woke up with this song stuck in my head. IT was hard to get out of bed this morning. I feel like I am grieving for the loss of a lifelong friend, and in a way I am. Our country will never be the same again. Regardless of which side of history you are on, whether you think this is a necessary shakeup or like me dread the coming loss of human rights and lives... this is a turning point. A pivotal moment.

I wasn't 100% behind Clinton. I would've much preferred Bernie get the democratic nomination. I would have voted wholeheartedly for him. But I did vote for Clinton because I felt it was our best choice to stand against Trump. I couldn't vote for someone who said such vicious horrible things, who planned to build a wall to keep people out and repeal a healthcare system that has been helping me stay alive for the past eight years.

Yet the majority rules and you, the majority, have made your choice. Trump is our president and the republicans control both the house and the senate. I can only hope that if he has some crazy ideas, they will be shut down the way there were those of his party who refused to endorse him for election. Putting the election behind us and working together is what they are calling for... but who is "us" in a Trump society? Everyone but the Latinos? All the rich white males? Anyone who tows the party line?

I have disliked presidents before. I wasn't a fan of Bush and his policies... but I didn't feel DOOMED under his presidency. I didn't feel like we had a possibly unsurvivable path for humanity, that we were the crumbling Roman empire, that we were standing on the precipice of a world wide catastrophe like 1930s Germany.

SO here I suppose I hope for the best, for some sort of miraculous everything will be alright... but at the same time plan for the worse.

These are my promises to myself, to my friends, and to my country in this new age:

1) I will stand up for human rights and equality vocally, physically if necessary, and with an open heart. No matter what policies occur. This includes relgious and political freedom, equal marriage rights, the rights of those who have immigrated to this country to stay here, women's reproductive rights, etc.

2) I will try to find hope, and not despair. I will help others to have hope. I will look for the positives where I can and try to make small bits of hope grow into larger bastions.

3) I will plan for what to do when health care reform is repealed. I will take care of any medical needs I can before the first of the year, and come up with a plan to afford the medicines I need to stay alive and healthy even if I no longer have insurance.

4) I will look for ways to invest money in things that are not the US dollar. Even though we have very little to invest, we need to find something to invest in just in case society and the economy collapses. Something that will retain value if the dollar fails.

5) I will look toward 2018, and what I can do to ensure that we have better choices four years from now.

I can't let depression and fear paralyze me. Either this will somehow work out alright, and we haven't just elected our societal doom - or it will collapse and we will survive through that. Life goes on even in a post Trump society. Until such time as it doesn't, we must all try to make it the best life we can for as many people as we can.
another bright idea (fester)

Business Things

Upcoming events --

Tabernacle Scout Fall Festival - Sunday Oct 23rd

South Jersey Geekfest in Woodbury - Saturday Oct 29th

NJ Gamer Con in Runnamede - December 3-4

We are still looking for a November event. Unfortunately Halloween Comic Fest this year is the same day as Geekfest, so we won't be able to make that.

Things we are currently selling: dice, fandom plush (Pokemon, Mario, Plants vs Zombies, Five Nights at Freddies, etc), fandom necklaces and other jewelry, blind grab pokeballs, cards, etc

Online sales wise, we are still doing our half.com books and etsy. There's a big booksale at the library we're hitting up this week to get more inventory for half. Getting some new exciting dice colors in for shows and for etsy, including some ten dice sets. Need to find some more stores to get our dice into, as that is starting to peter out a bit.

Probably going to run an Etsy sale in preparation for the holidays. It seems to be the gift buying season starts around now.

I need to find some time to sit down and make some more jewelry to put in sets and sell separately as well.

Overall, business things are going well. Still hoping that someday we will be able to afford a van, because having to pack into the hatchback for our events really limits what we can bring inventory wise.
L orange

The Nut Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree *

Looking back at genetics and mental illness in my family paints a harrowing picture. I don't think I would have chosen to have children if i would've understood the genetic legacy I was passing on to them. We never talked about mental illness in our family. When my father was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, my mother told us we were never to speak about it to anyone. It was treated like a shameful weakness of his, a family secret that must be protected at all costs.

IN part this may be due to them being a product of an earlier age when mental illness was poorly understood, but I think a large part was due to the way my mother handled life in general. Everything had to appear to be perfect, regardless of how it actually was. The same urge that made her hide my father's diagnosis (and refuse to seek any help for her own issues) is the same urge that made her remove me from school every time they suggested I might need testing. It's the same reason that I wasn't allowed to talk about being beaten with a belt, or that I'd seen my mother and father fight physically. It was the same reason that I was encouraged NOT to have friends over, that we did not throw parties, that we did not really have family friends.

This is what I know about mental illness and suspected mental illness in my family, as far back as I know of. Names omitted for privacy.

(Maternal Grandmother) - has been described to me as shy, had difficulty learning english. Quit school. Did not talk to many people outside her family. Easily manipulated by her sister. She was brilliant with crochet and knitting and cooking, could make anything wihtout a pattern. I highly suspect she was autistic.

(Maternal Grandfather) - I heard he drank a lot, but was that alcoholism? Unknown
(Maternal Great Aunt) - narcissistic personality disorder (undiagnosed)
(Mother) - narcissistic personality disorder (undaignosed), OCD (undiagnosed), phobias
(Mother's Brother) - alcoholism (at least one of her brothers)
(Mother's Cousin) - possible pedophile, anxiety, 'odd behaviors'

(Paternal Grandmother) - Not sure. She was described as loud, belligerent, and neglectful of her children. Mentally ill?
(Paternal Grandfather) - I know very little about him to be honest, other than he was divorced from my dad's mother.
(Father) - bipolar disorder, alcoholism
(Father's Older Sister) - molested my father, sexually promiscuous, described as 'wild' (mentally ill almost certainly - no idea with what though)
(Father's Younger Sister) - uncertain

(Myself) - autism, c-ptsd (environmental), depression
(My brother) - drug addiction, drinking (alcoholism?), depression
(My second brother) - none
(Niece)- schizophrenia

(My son)- drug addiction, bipolar, possible schitzoaffective disorder, depression, autism (suspected)
(My daughter) - drug addiction, OCD (undiagnosed), narcissistic personality disorder (undiagnosed)
(My daughter) - drug use (addiction?), anxiety, depression

My daughters have children of their own and as I have no contact with them, and they are quite young, it's impossible to tell what they have inherited. But the odds don't look good for them. This makes me feel very guilty some times, for my part in continuing genetics that should've died with me. They could have died with me. Yet they will continue on for gods knows how many generations, causing pain to those who have to live with the illnesses that are their genetic legacy and the circumstances of being raised by a mentally ill parent.

We cannot change the past, nor the present. I had kids. They have kids now. There is nothing that can be done about that.

But I can talk about mental illness, and refuse to sweep it under the family rug. I can leave these writings that future generations might find and know more about what genealogy won't tell them. It won't speak about the family history of breakdowns, suicide attempts, drug rehabilitations and all - those records will all be lost to time. We see our family tree and we like to imagine our ancestors as better versions of ourselves, as a romanticized past.

We never get the apology for their contribution to our genetic cocktail.

But here is mine.

Future generations, I'm sorry.

* the title comes from a saying my mother used way too often any time she felt I was 'acting crazy like my father', or my kids were 'acting crazy like me'
holy crap lions

PTSD flare up

One of the hardest things about PTSD is how it flares up with little or no warning.

Anxiety, hypervigilance, and paranoia hit me hard last night as I was trying to sleep. Every noise amplified, every sound could be something bad happening. My mind went through unlikely scenarios like intruders getting in (Burglars, squirrels, etc), to wondering if I was just dreaming I was here and I was still trapped in my mom's house. The obvious logical explanation that the cats were having their 3 AM pounce fest all through the apartment remained elusively out of reach as I imagined in great detail all the horrible scenarios it could be.

Cue the memories of bad things that had been, complete with auditory, semi-visual, and scent hallucinations. That was when I realized okay, it's the PTSD, and started to do the EMDR techniques of tapping and breathing.

About four am I slept, then woke up from PTSD dreams several times until I woke up when Aus did for work at 7:30. I took some meds and then slept again til 11:30. Took a Klonopin, and tried to spnd as much of the day relaxing as I could to reset my system - but it's still a crap shoot whether or not I will sleep tonight.

I have lost friends over my 'inability to control' the symptoms of my PTSD. It can be inconvenient being friends with someone who might snap at any moment, who might cancel plans at the drop of a hat due to a bad night, etc. I get that.

But It irks me a bit that there are still those who just feel if we worked harder we could contain our symptoms entirely, or 'just get over it.' It doesn't work that way.

I had a pretty good, quiet weekend other than pain from my infected tonail. I was happy and relaxed when I went to bed. There were no signs that it was going to be that kind of night.

PTSD is a bitch. Some days, so am I. But if you ask you can find out why I'm feeling prickly and overwrought, instead of resenting that I am inflicting myself on the world.
hellz no indy

Died of an ingrown toenail

My family had this terrible way of leaving out the middle part of any story. For years growing up, I heard that my Aunt Edith 'died of an ingrown toenail.' As I sit here with my own ingrown toenail, I fight the irrational thought that I might just die from it at any moment.

The middle of thisl story is she had an ingrown toenail that got infected and she had diabetes and died from complications thereof, no doubt.

I wonder if they just had a flare for the dramatic, or if they thought it would be a more useful lesson without the middle. When I was a preschooler, I had a hard time understanding the urge to 'go', and would often hold it until it was too late. Now I know that the inability to recognize body signals comes from the autism. But back then, I thought it was some personal failing. And my mother in her infinite wisdom said to me quiet seriously "If you don't go to the bathroom, you're going to die."

Cue years of angst any time I was constipated. What if I wasn't going enough and death was right around the corner?

As I get older I think the active avoidance of death has become less of an obssessive priority. I've survived 46 years after all, I must be doing something right. I try to make sure I eat balanced meals when I can, go to the doctor when I need to (though don't get me started on insurance costs) and generally don't do anything stupidly risky. I figure since most of my relatives lived (or are living) good long lives, I've got a genetic good chance.

Provided I don't die of this infected toenail!
omg (Dude)

My first meme

It occurs to me that, long before the internet age, I was exposed to the concept of 'meme' on the playground. Songs and stories and drawings and skills that circulated and spread from schoolyard to schoolyard, and also intergenerationally.

Some of the stories we told were the same stories our older brothers and sisters told; and in turn they had perhaps learned them from parents or even grandparents. My own father had a childhood in the great depression, and some of the earliest stories I remember hearing from him were rhymes he'd learned in his own playground days.

Ooey gooey was a worm.
A mighty worm was he.
He sat upon the railroad tracks
The train he did not see.
Ooey gooey!

And this other lovely bit of nature-

A big brown birdie with a bright red bill
Sat upon my windowsill.
I tempted him in with a piece of bread.
And then I squished his ugly head.

Rhymes from my father always seemed to involve some creature meeting a horrible end, perhaps unsurprising from a boy who grew up in Cleveland. From my mother, who grew up in the same era, I learned what the girls had been singing as they jumped Double Dutch in Philadelphia.

Cindarella , dressed in Yealla (yellow)
Went upstairs to kiss a fella
She made a mistake
Kissed a snake
How many times did she make that mistake?

Interestingly, the cadence used for some of the songs I learned from my parents were re-used in songs learned from my schoolmates. One of the songs my father sang during his navy days, for example, during World War II had a verse I remember that went -

Oh the chicken in the Navy,
They say it is the best,
The men get the asshole,
and the admiral gets the rest!

Followed by a chorus of - gee ma I want to go, but they won't let me go home

In the schoolyard it was a condemnation of school days with

Oh I don't want to go to (name of school)
Gee mom, I want to go
but they won't let me go
Gee mom I want to go home.

The tune was the same, though I don't recognize what either stemmed from.

There were urban legends in the schoolyard. Everyone knew someone who had known someone who really really had spiders in their hair, or in their gum. And some famous person really wound up in the hospital to have a gerbil removed from his butt. And if you said Bloody Mary to the mirror seven times, you just might really get killed like this kid's older brother's friend did. They were those circulated unchecked 'facts', and we had no Snopes in those days so it was a very real IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU because everyone knew a guy who knew a guy who...

We also tackled some very controversial subjects for our time and age. In the fairly early 70s, I repeated along with my girlfriends...

I love you
You love me
Homo Sexu Ality
People think
we're just friends
but we're really
les bi ans!

Until our horrified parents told us to stop before someone believes us. We had no idea what they might believe us about but that made the song all the more fun to sing. An older boy taught us that there was another song about homosexuals (which we still had only the vaguest idea of what they might be), sang to the tune of Strangers in the Night

Homos in the night
Exchanging rubbers
This one's too tight
Must be my brothers.

The only rubber things we knew were rubber cement and erasers, so it didn't make much sense. But it made our parents uneasy, so it became a favorite to sing as well. As we got a little older, and made friends who actually were gay or lesbian, I wondered if too much singing the forbidden songs had 'made them that way' the way that parents said a face would stick if you made it too much. It seemed a mysterious condition to me, something that parents obviously disapproved of-- but at the same time didn't really seem that bad in practice. We had a girl friend who had a girlfriend in the fifth grade. It didn't seem any different than the other I Like You Now We Are Dating relationships that went on at that age.

There were rhymes about other taboo subjects - having a baby out of wedlock (Miss Suzy Had a Baby - she definitely wasn't Mrs. ), killing yourself (Suffocation, suffo suffication - a game we used to play), swallowing drain cleaner (Comet - it makes your mouth feel clean), sex organs (milk, milk, lemonade..) , and so on.

And there were Grosser than Gross jokes, which often took a dirty or sexual turn---

What's Grosser than Gross?
A midget saying Gee, Your Hair smells terrific.

One rhyme that we had learned from older brothers and sisters probably dated from the time of race riots and civil unrest -

Fight, Fight
A Nigger and a White
You're the nigger
and I'm the white.

And there was a little bit of domestic violence in

My mother and your mother were hanging out clothes
My mother punched your mother right in the nose
What color was the blood?

that was used to pick who would go next in a game.

When I read about how kids are doing this or that horrible thing on the internets, I don't really think that this generation is any worse than we were as kids. The playground has just become universal, and the memes easier to spread. In an era where playtime is now often highly structured, and based around parent supervised activities - is it any wonder that they are finding their own place to share their version of the meme / rhyme / story?

Childhood is still childhood.
me with gloves

Blogging 2.0

Its been a while since i attempted to keep this journal. The cyberworld has moved on from LiveJournals since i first started this some 15+ years ago. But there are now apps to post to this from my phone and Kindle so I shall at least attempt a revival.

They do not seem to offer spell check or work with my phones autocorrect however, so you may see how badly I spell and type when left to my own devices.