Archive for the ‘Monkey Wash Donkey Rinse’ Category

The Cursed Child

I usually have an opinion on all things Harry Potter.  That hasn’t changed.  What has changed is that I’m not as vocal about it as I used to be for any number of reasons.

Potter has reached the point in the culture where it’s morphed from a personal story beloved by a great many people into a cultural touchstone that is repeatedly abused to make tangential points about whatever pet issue the speaker  has.    Other feminists take great glee in finding the moments that seem to them anti-woman.   Asians take great glee in misusing and misattributing the story to make points about racism.   Harry Potter is no longer a thing you can just sit with quietly and meditate upon.   It is now a mass experience.

Potter was a refuge for me during what was the worst summer of my life to date.   It has served as a refuge for me through countless struggles with work, life, pain, death.

That would be why the fervor over the new play is something off my radar.    Making the newest Potter story a public performance underscores  the fact that this is no longer a thing you can experience privately.  That’s not a bad thing, but it’s also not my thing.   So I’m waiting for the day I can sit in my home and watch the video of the play and experience the expanding canon inside the garden of my head.

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Reading through old posts I can see so many cases where I let my anger or frustration leak out into the words on the screen and I think while it’s therapeutic for me it’s got to be spectacularly painful for those who read it, and therefore it’s discourteous.   “Please read my blog and let me spit on you.”

I’m not alone in that.  During the years that I read a wiiiide variety of blogs for aggregation purposes I spent a good 10 hours a day adrift on other people’s anger.  Or frustration.  Or sadness.

So much of what our politics is now is really a complex attempt to punish other people for making life difficult.   A fair number of conservatives want people to pay for their mistakes by paying for food or children they can’t afford.   A fair number of liberals want people to pay for their comforts by paying for food or children that other people can’t afford.   Either way there seems to be more and more of an element of punishing to it.  No one has it easy, but it seems from inside your life that sometimes everyone else has it spectacularly better off than you.    No where is that more clearly said than in social media.

I find myself often mentioning the things that are hard about my life not so much to complain but to underline that in spite of the things that are good I do have struggles.   It occurs to me that I feel like i should have to apologise for the good things, that I can’t say “hey, I love my life” without having to detail the cost of that life.   In some ways this is good because social media is far too full of life-lovers who hide their consequences behind closed doors.   In other ways it’s really bad.   Because satisfaction and contentment are not things that are given to you.  They’re things you work at.

I’m not good at working at things.   I was born knowing how to read and ever since then I’ve eschewed the idea of practice.   If I couldn’t pick it up and do it flawlessly after two tries then I just wasn’t  going to do it.   That’s a childish mindset and it took me 40 years to work on overcoming it.  I’ve now been seeking out things that don’t come easily–drawing, for instance–and forcing myself to drill.   Satisfaction has been the same way.  In both cases I sit down in a quiet place and repeat the steps until my work looks like something worthy of foisting on people.   That’s what this blog entry is.  It’s me writing about how I’m trying to talk about being satisfied without feeling guilty about it.  Something I still can’t do.   I know that guilt is learned behaviour.  Sadly it’s the only thing I really ever practiced until I turned 40.

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Yesterday I had the dubious ‘pleasure’ of reading a (male) law enforcement officer’s opinions about how women get themselves raped.  It was the usual cant about “you need to take Personal Responsibility”.   I got to thinking about it and am in fact still thinking about it.

Because it’s never a person’s fault if they’re raped.  Never.   Never.  Never.   The fault belongs to the rapist.

I’ve always taken precautions in my life, and frankly I think every woman has.   We walk with our keys in stabbing mode, interleaved through our fingers to serve as ad hoc brass knucles.   We know to SING (Solar Plexus, Instep, Nose, Groin).   We’ve been told to pee on ourselves if rape seems imminent.   Et cetera.   But precautions are sometimes never enough.  And it isn’t our fault when they fail us.  It never is.

I haven’t blogged steadily for a very long time.   I have attracted the attention of some folks who think a good way to spend their time is to come and leave personal attacks in the comments on my blog.   Blogs are pretty porous and it’s not really a medium inclined to protection of privacy.    So I just stopped writing on my own blog, guesting on other blogs and commenting on the blogs of my friends.   As time goes by I’ve strained against the tether of FB, because I missed my 500 words.  Lately I’ve missed them badly enough to be writing “status updates” that are more like “editorial columns.”

I wanted to blog.

But I didn’t.

I was taking precautions.   I was not putting myself in harm’s way.  I was not attracting their attention.

And no, it’s not the same as being raped.  Not even remotely the same.  But the attitudes about “how to stay safe” are similar.    After all, you’re perfectly safe when you’re sitting quietly in your room in a flannel bathrobe and slippers.  Aren’t you?  No one is ever harmed in their own home!

It occurs to me as these streams get crossed and I see what I say to myself about why I shouldn’t blog and what these people say to women about why they shouldn’t look pretty or go to parties and I realise it’s all a subset of Trading Liberty For Security.

A person can die by inches as they let fear limit their life.   And I have enough limitations as it is.   So, I’m not staying away any more.   I’m not letting a bully scare me away from doing what I love doing.   Precautions are meant to keep you as safe as possible while encountering the world.   They aren’t meant to keep you from living.

The rape is the fault of the rapist.   The bullying is the fault of the bully.

A writer writes and if she isn’t writing she’s dying by inches.

**There are a lot of bloggers who no longer feel comfortable blogging because of the sheer sociopathy of web society.  Yesterday several of my friends confessed that they too had to stop blogging because of stalkers.  I can’t blame them and I don’t fault them for their choice.   Everyone responds to violence in their own way.   And it’s different when your stalker is local to you.  I’m fortunate in that my problem is with non-local people.    So this is in no way meant as an indictment of all the women who choose to quit blogging OR who choose to stay home in sweats.

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But seriously, is there anybody out there?  Probably no, since this blog has been, shall we say, dormant?

I’ve committed the serious misstep of going where the audience seems to be rather than writng and letting the audience come to me.   But as my blog continues to cobweb over itself and my facebook posts get longer and wordier it occurs to me that perhaps I should just freaking write on my blog.   And so. And so.

The world is full of people with Aspergers who are blogging about having Aspergers so I don’t know how much my voice is going to add to the chaos.   If you read through the 10 years of this blog it’s probably apparent to you that yes, I do indeed have Aspergers.   As long apparent to you as it was to me and those who know me but not to medical science who took awhile to catch up with the differences between female Aspergians and male Aspergians.   Basically, the females are the wordy ones, the ones who use 50 words where none will do.   The stereotype of the silent, staring Aspergian is that of a male with the condition.    So most female Aspergians are “weird” and “chatty” and “dress in baggy clothes” but aren’t what folks think of as oh-my-gosh-help-my-child-is-autistic.

I’m going into all of this because I feel like a lot of my life right now is spent in the act of trying to translate Aspergian into Neurotypical.   Case in point: a photoshopped joke on Facebook.   Twice now I’ve said “that’s photoshopped” and twice now I’ve gotten reamed by people who insist that I need to just let it go and accept that it’s funny.

Welcome to the Aspergian mind.   If a joke is factually incorrect we cannot without great difficulty move to the point of saying “but it’s still funny” because all we see is that it is _not right_.    Which, ok.  You can think it’s funny.  I don’t care.  But you need to allow me to see the world my way and that way, the Aspergian way, is to say that “it isn’t funny TO ME because it’s obviously based on an incorrect premise.”

I’m not asking the Neurotypical world to stop considering things funny.  I’m asking that you realise that I have just as much right to say it isn’t funny as you do to say it is.   My voice and viewpoint are just as important.   And no, this isn’t just about a joke.  It’s about the way the world is when you have Autism Spectrum CONDITION.  World, it’s only a disorder if we are harmful to ourselves or others.

So that’s what I’m blogging about today.   I guess it’s slightly more palatable than God or politics.  We’ll just have to see.

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I’m writing this on Maundy Thursday, 2015.   This is the day our Christ had his last earthly Passover Seder.  It is the day that he prayed in Gethsemene for the cup to pass from Him.  He knew what grief and pain and horror lay in his path.  He knew exactly what was coming.  Each tang of the lash, each piercing of each thorn, the thudding tears of the nails as they hammered into his flesh.   He knew it.   He begged to be released.

Wrestling with chronic pain I always feel especially close to the man Jesus on this day, and especially in awe of the God Christ.

That’s why the ear has taken on such significance in my life.

Picture it.  He knows that these people are coming to take him to not just death but wracking physical, emotional and spiritual pain the likes of which none of us will ever taste–because God never forsakes us.    These soldiers coming through the trees were there to bring him to certain agony.

Peter, whose temper is much like mine, grabs a sword and hacks off the ear of one of the soldiers.  Slices is right off.  He’s defending God.

So what does Jesus do?  He picks up the ear and heals it.   He heals the man who has come to drag him to his death.

And then he follows the soldier.   And then he suffers.   And then he dies.

He HEALS the man who stands against him.

I’m not going to draw any direct parallels to my own life or the lives of others, because if I start I don’t stop.  But I think of that every time some scenario comes up where I feel challenged to defend my beliefs in any form or forum.

Do I slash the ear off or do I stand aside and let Him do the healing?   He’s Alive and I’m forgiven.  So I endeavour to stand aside.

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I’ve been up since midnight, flushing toilets and opening faucets every hour to make sure the pipes aren’t blocked or shattered by ice. The rest of the time three faucets are left dripping–which is handy for the flushing thing as I need to pee frequently–power of suggestion and all that.

I had made up my mind that I would spend January re-reading A Song Of Ice And Fire (The series more commonly known to television viewers as “Game Of Thrones”.) I thought it would be a good idea to give me something to distract my mind from the usual doldrums of the raw year. I did not plan on reading about Jon Snow on the Wall (hundreds of feet high, made entirely of ice) while it was actually colder here than it is in the book. I mean, the Wall is weeping in the “heat” at this point in the story. If the wall were in my backyard that sucker would be solid, laughing at the mere mortals who need heat to survive.

I do not like winter; I moved 500 miles away from kith and kin to escape it. I feel like a weather Jonah, with the bad joss following me ever southward.

I wish I had something more interesting to say about it all. I don’t really, because what is there to say but “It’s terribly, awfully, excruciatingly cold and I do not like it at all” ? I will say that a few minutes ago I had grisly thoughts brought on by Westeros’ 50 year winters. (Seriously…winters last 50 years in that fantasy world. I do not see myself coping well in their realm.) I was wondering what they do when they are out of trees and coal and whatever else they burn for heat. Then I started wondering how well human bones would burn, if they would stink, if breathing the fumes would carry disease. I’m now obsessed with this concept: Human bones as fuel, a sort of cannibalism of heat. How very morbid, yet how very authorly. Even as I write this I’m working it into my own novel’s world. They do not have 50 year winters, but they are faced with some other shortages brought on by conflicts between races. Remember when I chiefly wrote romance? Well, you probably don’t since I haven’t published any of it. But trust me. There was a long time when all I wrote was daisy-petal stories of unrequited, yearning love. Now I write cosmologies of fantastical worlds. With romance. There must always be a romance to keep me interested. Not a gacky series-of-misunderstandings romance, but grown-up ones. I do so enjoy writing, and right now I’m escaping to the warmth of living in a tropical world. It’s make-believe, of course. But it is definitely not 10 degrees below zero and since they’re underwater I have no reason to leave the faucets running. I shall come up for air eventually.

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Back when I blogged regularly I used to periodically do these stream of consciousness posts where I only corrected typos and didn’t frame my thoughts for writerly presentation. I found them very relaxing and only sometimes felt they were too revealing. Since I’m having trouble writing something coherent I figured that I’d just go with this method of getting something on the books.

I’m writing again. Actually I’m always writing, but now I’ve decided I want to have my blog be active because I need a place that isn’t a book (too long) or Facebook (too short) or Twitter (too contentious and waaaaay too short and waaaay too contentious). I’m pretty much assuming I won’t see many readers so I’m not that worried about what I write here getting too many eyes. Even if I were I’ve been me long enough to know pretty much what I’m comfortable sharing and what I’m not willing to put out there.

Several of my friends talk about sex a lot. I don’t. I’m not ashamed of sex at all. I just think it’s private and it’s for me and my partner and not a matter for public consumption. I get uncomfortable reading other people talk about their sex life because I feel like they’re wanting to take me into a private space of theirs that I don’t want to be intruding upon. I also feel like they’re asking a sort of committment from me as a reader to go with them to that place and I have to say I find it a little offensive. This is something I realise about myself lately. Of course, I also have to say that I don’t mind being offended. I know that sounds strange but I figure most of the time other people don’t intend to give offense. It just happens. It’s like being jostled in a store or something. People don’t mean to bump you in the back of the legs with their shopping cart or to bump up against you as you both come out of the elevator. It’s just one of those things that happens when people are in the world alongside you. I feel the same way about “offensive” behaviour. Folks are always doing something that offends other people. I figure I can tell them I’m offended and they can either do something about it or not do anything about it. It’s not my call. But I like to go on record and say “ow, you bumped me” or “I don’t like it when you do X.” Of course, being offended is different than being hurt. Folks offend me when they talk graphically about their sex life. (I have a couple of facebook friends who regularly do this and I just sort of skim that.) But folks HURT me when they say “fat people are gross.” I’m fat. I am hurt when you say I’m gross. To my mind if you know you’re hurting people you should not continue. I have opinions on things that may be hurtful to others. So I keep those opinions to myself. An sort of example: One person I’m no longer in any sort of touch with AT ALL (so if you’re reading this it isn’t you) has a terribly disgusting, rude and mean husband whom I can’t stand. I don’t tell her–and never did tell her–that I thought she made a mistake to marry him. That’s just one of those things that you don’t have to say to people. And I think that way about most hurtful opinions. Especially in matters of religion. I have Jewish friends who think that I’m crazy for following Jesus because in their view Jesus was–if he exists at all–a sort of Che Guevara of Nazareth. But they don’t tell me that. Anyway, this is me processing all of that. I’m going to stop kind of abruptly here because I’ve strayed above my 500 words AND Gus is gnawing away on a bone. He’s on the landing of the staircase which functionally puts him right by my ear and I can’t hear myself think. So here we go. Whee. I’m blogging.

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It’s New Year’s Day.  That means that most of us are going to take  down the trees and the lights and the dancing snowmen (that should all be destroyed anyway).   We’re going to start depriving ourselves of food and rest, pushing our bodies into new activities, despite the fact that we are still in the cradle of darkness.   Come January 2 “The Holidays” are over for the secular world.

In the Christian church, however, those 12 days of Christmas _start_ with the celebration of His birth and last until January 6.  That day is Epiphany.  We all know the Christmas Story, where the angels tell the Shepherd that Jesus has been born in a house in Bethlehem and laid in the livestock’s food dish.   That was when Jesus appeared to the Jewish people.   That crowded house in Bethlehem, full of Joseph’s distant relatives, was there to watch this unwed teenage virgin give birth to a child.   And they were there to attest to the fact that she WAS a virgin when Jesus was born.   That is the fulfillment of prophecy of Jesus being born of the line of David.    Epiphany is when the Magician Philosophers from other lands showed up with the significant gifts acknowledging that this child was a King, a Priest and a Sacrifice.

Christmas Day is the culmination of the prophecies of the Messiah’s lineage and advent.

Epiphany is the commencement of the prophecies of the Messiah coming to all nations, Gentile as well as Israel.

The party is just getting started on Christmas.  And it doesn’t seem like a lot of fun to continue to observe a celebration once the gifts are given and the food is abjured.   But if we are commemorating the Christ Child we miss half the story by putting away the lights before the tale is fully told.

We who are Christians have much more to honour than a birthday.  We have a life of the King and Priest who is our Ultimate Sacrifice to celebrate, to honour, to rejoice.

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What Is A Home?

My parents are moving from the home they’ve lived in since I was 16. This is the big house in the country with the swimming pool and the creek and the acres of land and the fieldstone fireplace. It was their dream house.

I had referred to this house as “home” for a very long time–long past the time when I moved to Tennessee and established residences with my own family. I left my home physically but didn’t leave it mentally and emotionally. Of course I can’t blame myself entirely. I was young and I moved to a city where the only people I knew were my husband and a bipolar guy who had been his friend at university. I spent years fantasizing about moving back.

I don’t know exactly when the shift occurred, in fact I suspect it was a gradual thing. We bought OUR dream house and got our first two dogs. I started working at jobs I enjoyed. We began meeting people here. I think the biggest shift happened because of two things. I started blogging and I met people who were like me–bookish nerds who lived for words. Before that I became absorbed in Harry Potter, and that gave me another home to go to.

I’ve had a lot of conversations with women over the years about leaving home. It many cases it’s the hardest thing we do emotionally, and we have different ways of coping. Some call their mothers every day. Some romanticize the life at their childhood home by remembering the good times in the golden haze of nostalgia and shoving all the arguments and tension into a shadowy corner of their minds. Some throw themselves into creative things like scrapbooking and quilting–as though creating works of beauty can recreate the sense of peace conferred by the idea of Home. Some women just never leave. I know a great many women who live in the bosom of their childhood families.

I coped in several ways–crafts and nostalgia and frequent visits to the home seven hours northward that I had turned into the platonic ideal.

I’ll let you in on a secret. Once you realise that you are the key to Shalom Bayis–peace in the home–and it is up to you to make a peaceful sanctuary for those you love it is one of the most freeing experiences you’ll ever have. You’ll come to realise that your home is not a place. Your home is people*. Dream houses are just that. They’re houses. They are edifices of stone and glass and wood–hard things meant to stand between the people you love and the world outside.

If I have any advice at all for other women, especially the young women who are going through the heart struggle that I lived with for so long, it is this. Stop trying to _go_ home and start trying to _make_ home where you are.

*I owe this phrase to Aral Vorkosigan. This is your daily reminder to read Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan Saga.

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I’ve never really understood the appeal to mountaineering. I’m afraid of heights to begin with, and then throughout my adulthood there seems to have been a Grave Disaster reported out of the Himalayas every 7 years or so. (I didn’t even realise until Sunday that there had been another horrific catastrophe on Everest earlier this year. That’s how commonplace news of these have gotten. They aren’t even NEWS anymore.) In the past I’ve had thoughts along the lines of “what an irresponsible waste of money and effort and lives, not in that order.”

As I grow older, though, I realise more and more that if I can’t see any sense at all in something I don’t understand then perhaps I truly DON’T understand it and it’s time to take a closer look. So I did what I always do in this circumstance. I asked people who did it–none of whom answered because why would you bother, really, with someone who seems hostile–and then I checked book after book out of the library. I’m now on my third book and while I still am at a loss to understand how a man could leave his pregnant wife or young children to do it, I do understand the appeal overall. There’s a mindset of detail and determination and a will to overcome that drives people to conquer difficulty.

Eerily, though, as I read I began to notice something. Climbers–hailed on every inhabited continent as heroes and humans of exceptional character and fortitude–had something in common with me. With me and many of the people I’ve come to know in the last ten years.

Read a climber discussing the problems of living at high altitude and you’ll see painful joints, wracking cough, insomnia, loss of appetite, lack of coordination, severe body aches. Read a climber talking about the dangers of the Death Zone–where oxygen is so limited above 26,000 feet that your brain turns stupid and your blood to sludge–and you see the exact description of someone suffering from anemia.

People who climb mountains are heroes. They are hailed for accomplishment and given corporate endorsements. Yet there are roughly 10 million people in America alone who live with chronic pain from various disorders. We are labeled “Hypochondriacs”, “Narcissists”, “drama queens”, “Malingerers”. One doctor friend always wonders why people show up in his office and are disappointed when they have no serious diagnosis. How do I explain that when you’re climbing a mountain no one else sees you’d at least like someone to admit that you are scaling something other than air.

It’s been interesting to me to see myself through the lens of the climber. They do what they do for a few months and go home. I do this until I die. I probably won’t get on a Wheaties box in this lifetime. But I’m going to give both the climbers AND my fellow sufferers of chronic pain a bit of a pass. We keep climbing. Because it’s there.

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