Writing: Dream last night

I have vivid dreams sometimes. Last night was especially interesting and honestly, I kind of want to write it out because it WAS so interesting.

So the dream is in third person, like I’m watching a tv show or reading a book with a good imagination (ahem).  The setting is a weird mix of classical Indian and Japanese.  And there are things that call out that it is a weird mix.  Most of the people in the room think nothing of it, but there are 2 men dressed as Middle Easterns but clearly fake beards (I mean, pretty good – but in modern terms “clearly fake”) who make comments about stuff being unusual.

The room is set for a party.  And there are several young women who are considered to be psychic who will be “summoning the dead to speak” tonight.  Of course my foreign men scoff at this witchcraft nonsense, but the two young women most involved are quite serious.  One is considered one of the greatest beauties in the land as well as an extremely powerful psychic.  The other is also beautiful, but not AS beautiful and much more demur about her power.  They had names in the dream and they are already fading.  So we’re going to call them Haughty and Demur.

So Haughty is bragging that she is going to bring back some powerful general or king or demi-god  (the language is such that it kind of means all three?).  Demur doesn’t think it’s a good idea, but doesn’t argue enough and sets up for the ritual lighting the candles the six psychics are going to use as shields or something.

The two foreigners are wandering around trying to find the trick at this point and pointedly being told by onlookers not to interrupt or disturb the ceremony.  It begins and it’s as weird and lovely as anything on TV.  A doorway hovers in the center of their circle – golden gilt edges that move and twist and roll.  Like snakes or vines on moment and then rolling waves of water the next – it was a cool effect my brain made.

AND – this is where the dream got weird and special.  One of the walls in the room turned clear – and on the other side of the glass – ALIENS.  The two foreigners swear, the onlookers all start talking.  Haughty yells at her acolytes to concentrate but several FREAK OUT.

And then the mystical door opened and a demon came through.  Not as cool as some of the other stuff my brain made up – this was like a minotaur kind of thing with lots of green slobber.  All hell breaks loose.  The two foreigners pull six-shooters and open fire.  Haughty is grabbed by the head and something sucked out of her (soul? I dunno).

Demur is the one who saves her, stepping in and using weird language to drive it back.  As it steps back through the door though – it becomes a GORGEOUS man and winks at her.  It/he (Demon) blows her a kiss of yellow flame and it emblazens on her shoulder (uncovered – I wish I could draw so I could recreate the mixture Indian sarong and Japanese kimono outfits)

So Demur collapses and her father (no idea her dad was in the room!) comes over yelling and hollering – turns out HE’S kind big and powerful…. anywho.  Everyone is freaking out. Demur gets put on a couch alone in a room and the two foreign dudes come in – one of them has his beard kind of sagging on one side right now.  Demur confronts them about not being “arabs from the west” and they finally admit they’re not.  She offers to help get them out of the palace through some secret tunnels she knows of.

Turns out these are the passages the ALIENS use to “tend” their “zoo” (these people).  The foreigners are space-men.  The dream moves to the alien environment there and gets way more confusing (and it’s already fading!! noooo!)

The demon now can cross because of the mark he left on Demur.  He offers her powers to save the 2 dudes (she might have a crush on one of them).  They pick up a red-headed chick.  Demur ends up having these awesome psychic golden chain-things she can lash people/aliens with.  One of the space-men was more techy, the other more the weapons/sharp-shooter/sneaky dude…..

And too much of that second half has faded but it was COOL.  To me.  I’m not saying my imagination is a healthy place all the time – but dreams like this…. damn they’re just fun.

Review: (Article) Middle Children Going Extinct

I read this article over the weekend and (being the youngest) sent it to my sister for her thoughts (as she is the middle child).  Both of us agreed although there are some interesting bits in it – what exactly was this author trying to convey?

He made a single throw-away comment about Millennials waiting to have kids, and I really wish he had shown the courage to delve into that.  But that wasn’t his point and I appreciate it. He also made a snarky comment about the “indulgence” of people he knows who have a third kid and what fiscal security they must feel to do this.

Ok, so (a) OMG his privilege and (b) again, not the courage to get political and discuss the fact that kids are PROHIBITIVELY expensive.

In case it isn’t clear – In 2011 OECD published this report on the change of fertility rates 1980-2009 (ish).  Now, to be clear in 2009 kids born in 1982 (early Millennials) were 27, so when they said “the average age at which women have their first child increased from 24
in 1970 to 28 in 2008” (pg 21), they aren’t really talking about Millennials.  Taking the 1982-1997 age range for Millennials, we’re looking at people that are now 36-21.  Ok, so we can finally all drink and most of us can rent a car.  But in 2011 even, many, many Millennials were still in high school and college. So this research might already be wrong.  I didn’t find anything that looked legit that was more recent in my quick Google search.

I don’t think the author of this article is wrong per say, but I feel like he didn’t want to dig into WHY people aren’t having more kids instead just bemoaning sadly this loss to his personality. Without digging into what is motivating this change in our society, he acts like people are just doing it on purpose.

In case you aren’t reading my subtext – I’m a bit offended by this.

I would love to have more than 1 kid, but I’m already past 30 and I did wait.  I waited for 2 big reasons.  The first is I had to find the right partner.  That one took awhile, but even after we met we were both working a fairly low-paying job.  We’ve fought and struggled to put ourselves into a place where we feel more secure.  We still don’t have children and I’m over that “magical” 30-age number that means I’m old to start a family.  I’m well past that 28-average age that was true in 2009.

Life Events: Pet Relations

Kawaii would have been quite happy if we had never gotten a dog.  She spent the first three days as often under the bed as anywhere else.  I think she pooped only when Riley was in his crate.  She was not ok with this change.  Granted, she doesn’t much care for change.  It definitely is taking her the longest to adjust to having a dog in the house.

Genkii on the other hand follows Riley around.  A Lot.  He has tried to steal Riley’s food.  He has sniffed Riley’s crate.  He cries when Riley goes outside without him…. even in the rain.  Genkii has always thought he’s a dog and he doesn’t quite understand why the real-dog gets different (better?) stuff.  You know, Genkii’s higher-fat kitten food (which is higher fat than adult food) just isn’t as good as the low-fat/high-protein dog food.  Fortunately, Riley doesn’t get bothered by any of these antics but has finally starting sniffing Genkii’s butt- to the cat’s great confusion.

Riley as the best success is happy.  We were told he came from abuse, but honestly – I expect he’ll never remember it in a year.  So far the worst moment has been at the vet’s office.  I don’t know what happened to him before, but when he saw the vet’s stethoscope he kinda freaked out (cowering behind me and growling at the vet).  He did not want to have that thing near him.  I ended up having to put a muzzle on him so we could give him his influenza vaccine (since we are in high-social-time right now to get him used to meeting new people & animals).  Now, the fact that he cowered against me and allowed me (without any fuss at all) to put the muzzle on was actually fairly positive.  The vet said she thinks he’s bonded well and now we just need to teach him that vet visits will be positive experiences for him.

I am wondering/thinking that eventually we might do Genkii+Riley vet visits.  ‘Cause Genkii is a freakin’ CHAMP at the vet.  Vets LOVE my cat.  He doesn’t know what “bad touch” means so they can examine paws, nose, teeth, ears and whatever else and he just wants to look around.  The biggest problem I have with him is he keeps trying to get to the kennel area so he can meet the doggies.  I’m not sure Riley is paying enough attention to Genkii yet, but he’s beginning to.  We’ll do Petsmart a few times and see if they can learn from each other (Genkii could learn better leash manners from Riley).

So we have 3 animals who are finally willing to be in the same room with each other – and this exemplifies them perfectly.  Riley is unaware; Genkii is trying to be just like the doggy, and Kawaii isn’t sure if any of this is ok – but damnit she wants to be here.

animals_library

Memories: The Case for Art in School

I had amazing choir directors at church and at school growing up.  They forced me to face any fears I had about stage fright very early (there is a picture of me at like 6 on a stage at church doing a solo – I suspect I sounded horrible but he made EVERYONE have a solo).  I don’t have stage fright.

Another thing I know singing taught me is elocution – “the skill of clear and expressive speech, especially of distinct pronunciation and articulation”

When I worked on the phones, I was constantly complimented on how easy I was to understand compared to my peers.  It took me a long time to understand that singing had taught me to literally open my mouth when forming my words.  It wasn’t until I stared at someone who was complaining that they kept getting complaints – I saw it.  I literally saw it and it clicked.  I looked at them and said something like, “You need to practice singing vowels – drop your jaw and sing vowels – then convert that into normal words.”

Breathing, articulation, projection, and a lack of stage fright are all skills which were honed by having amazing art programs while I was growing up.

I took a semester of “art” in high school.  I learned some of the basic terminology and concepts of art so when I got to see the Norman Rockwell collection at the Atlanta High Museum – I appreciated his technique and skill as well as his content.  And then when I went back on my own and saw some other artists, I understood some of the theme they explored – from one semester’s learning I gathered an appreciation for art that has carried me through my life.  I look at graffiti and murals with an eye towards the skill – and don’t kid yourself, good graffiti (https://digitalsynopsis.com/design/3d-graffiti-street-art-anamorphic-odeith/) IS impressive and I have a tiny-tiny clue of the level of the skill of those artists.

I hated band, but I hated my flute – I know many of my friends learned skills like buckling down and practicing from their years in band.  Many of them were able to build life-long friendships from marching band.  Many of them understand football because they had to attend all the games.  I can’t claim those, but I can see them.

Every time I see someone say we should cut art spending in schools I see a little bit of red.  I probably have a dozen “dimes” because my schools while I was growing up had great art programs.  I was exposed to different ideas, themes, and cultures through their art.  I was exposed to history by singing great works from the high chants.  I learned through art and I learned to express myself because of art.  I am a writer because I had teachers who encouraged me to explore this art.

When I hear a cashier or co-worker or …. well anyone – mumbling and fumbling I grieve that their education failed them. I grieve that they didn’t have churches and schools where they learned these skills.

Throwback Thurs: Cinnamon

I found some old notebooks at the bottom of the box last weekend – including one my first ever journals.  The first three entries frankly brought me to tears. They are all about my first cat Cinnamon.

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Text:

Thurs, Feb. 18, 1997

Today I haven’t been feeling well so I called Mom and came home sick. I’ve slept most of the afternoon and I am about to go to bed.

Vic, a kid in my class, asked me on the 4 if I would go out with him. It was the morning after Cinnamen [sic] had been put down so I was still upset. He kept on pressuring me until Brittney started to beat him up. [I feel like I need to define “beat up” was usually with a piece of PAPER]

I am having a rough year so far. Vic is only making it worse. [God, I feel so sorry for him.  His timing was TERRIBLE – but it doesn’t excuse his behavior] I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do. I am terribly confused and frightening. [over 20 years later – I don’t remember why I used the word “frightened” but it makes me ANGRY.  Fear is not one of the steps of grief.]

I don’t want to go out with anybody right now because of Cinnamen, [sic] but if I don’t go out with Vic he will act like an idiot. [and this is MY problem?]

I DON’T KNOW WHAT I SHOULD DO!! [all caps doesn’t do justice to the middle-schooler’s ability to express herself… :)]

I wish someone could help me understand my problems and work through them. [Nope. Pretty sure that’s called “growing up” honey.]

Commentary:

Firstly, writing really helps me cement a memory.  That is almost EXACTLY how I remember that month.  I put down Cinnamon on the 3rd, Vic tried to ask me out THE NEXT MORNING, I told him “no, I just lost my cat” and he spent MONTHS harassing me (literally, in my diary the entry is in MAY when Mom and I got the Vice Principal involved and this is AFTER the entry “I talked to the school councilor ’cause he threatened suicide if I wouldn’t date him.”) I am so glad I don’t have that kind of drama now. I didn’t realize I was such a dramatic little brat then. But reading those entries now… wow.

And almost every entry “I don’t feel good” just reminds me that I don’t feel that way anymore ever since I (essentially) stopped eating peppers.  I was a little icky over the weekend but that was my own fault (I went to a Mexican restaurant) and it still wasn’t THAT bad.   It was 12-18 hrs of “meh” attitude towards most foods.

So yeah, there we go.  21 years ago I wrote through my own personal “horror.” I thought it was then – I have more executive function now to process the choices I was struggling with them.  Literally, look it up!  You don’t finish growing your brain until about 25, so at ~12 I didn’t have as much brain power; and these were HARD things.  Ok, some of them are STILL hard and scary for the post-25 age group.  Relationships (even ones that aren’t romantic) are HARD.

Memories: Ideal Weight

It’s holiday season, which is always a stressful time and made more stressful for people who are trying to lose weight.  With Thanksgiving past, I am seeing the annual parade of posts about “hitting the gym” and “getting back on the horse.”

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Picture of my new skirt

This is hard for me.  I am overweight.  Technically, I am “obese” although I don’t feel obese.

I’m not unhappy (per say) with my size.  I would like to lose some weight, but at the same time, I am pretty happy with general shape, etc. Part of my “want to lose weight” is health.  There are some numbers which are less than ideal and I would like to get them idealized again.

What makes this hardest is I know what it takes to get/keep my ideal weight.  I’ve been there.  When I graduated from college, I weighed 142lbs.  This is right about “perfect” (according to the drs) for my height.   I didn’t diet to get there, but I had managed to have a lifestyle that allowed me to exercise a lot.  And by “managed” I mean “forcefully included” exercise.

206612_503273350592_1266_n.jpgYou see, my senior year of college I spent a semester in Japan. When I got home, I weighed the “perfect” weight.  And I won’t lie – I did enjoy that size/ weight.  I felt like I could wear anything, do anything, be anything.

But it was at least partly due to my commute to/from school.  It was 2 miles to and from school – 4 miles a day that I had to walk or bike.  That’s above and beyond any walking AT school or if I wanted to go anywhere else.  I didn’t mind the commute.  It worked and I could do it.

Here’s the problem.  Even when I lived 2 miles from the train station in Atlanta – those weren’t 2 miles I could safely walk.  And it wasn’t pedestrians that terrified me.  It was drivers.  At least 1/3 of the walk to the train station didn’t have sidewalks and that made it unsafe. Beyond unsafe. No sidewalks in Japan? No big deal, cars went slow through there because there was so much foot traffic. Here in Atlanta? Pshaw- good luck sucker!

I have struggled ever since to find as much exercise to fit into my schedule.  In some ways it’s worse being overweight now because I do know what it looks and feels like to be the “right” weight – I just can’t figure out how to get there.  I have a ~30-40 minute commute (~12 miles) to work right now.  That isn’t horrible – it’s pretty much the same time I used to spend walking/biking to/from school in Japan.  So I know I can easily do 30 minutes of exercise twice a day.  But on top of my already 30-40 minutes of commute?  That means I really have to budget an hour “each way.”  And Americans don’t have the same acceptance of “shit, it’s 95 degrees outside, of course you’re sweaty” that Japanese culture had.

As I listen to the complaints, I don’t have answers to my friends who are frustrated with their weight. When I look back at the pictures of my time in Japan, sometimes I am frustrated – how do I make that lifestyle more accessible?  How do I add that into my routine in the states?

Life Memories: Systemic Sexism

So this entire post comes with history. A LOT of history.  There are stories within stories here and I can’t fully explore them in a single post.  So, I’ll skip some bits here and jump straight into the pieces you need (well, I’ll try, it’s hard to unpack all the inter-tangled pieces). All the best stories are complicated.

I started playing tabletop RPGs around end-of-middle-school when my older brother wanted to try this new book GURPS.  Yes, I learned on GURPS.  It has made me a weird gamer ever since because I don’t particularly like D&D or Pathfinder… classes frustrate me.  When I was in high school I started gaming with his guy-friends (most of them in college) with a Wheel of Time game.  When my brother “disappeared” into the military, I kept going.

We met every first Saturday of the month about noon and gamed until 5-7pm, went to dinner and hung out.  So from the time I was 16/17 until about 29, I saw these guys at least once a month for hours. Some of them had known me before gaming. Some of them I ended up working at jobs with. They were family.

Sometime in college we started the weirdest, goofiest, craziest Star Wars campaign (we totally broke West End games yo!).  We probably played that campaign close to 7-8 years.  We had multiple stories and each of us ended up with 2 characters so we could run multiple plots simultaneously (I did use the word broken, right?).  It was so much fun and I was loyal – I made that Saturday my guys’ day.

Then we let a new guys join the group.  He wasn’t new-new.  He’d been on the fringes of my awareness for years  -gamers always tend to circle the same people.  We’ll call him “Ted” for this story.  So Ted had met my friends in college, hadn’t ever really gotten into gaming ’cause you know Georgia Tech is hard and family business and he had a life.  But now he wanted in, so we made room at the “table” and he built up a pair of characters (now a requirement).  Now, Ted was vegetarian (by religion) and this made our after-game dinner choices change.  Whereas BBQ and burger joints had been common – they had to get nix’ed pretty much entirely.  Whatever, I am not actually that picky an eater.

I do however have a food sensitivity.  I can’t eat peppers.  They make me rather violently ill.  Anything stronger than a jalepeano generally makes me vomit.  Much like someone lactos intolerant, you don’t want me around when I try to eat even bell peppers. So places like Mexican restaurants are -at best- risky.

Well Ted thought Mexican was the best choice for the group. Constantly. No matter how many months in a row I reminded the group that this would not work for me. And it hurt. At the time I couldn’t explain entirely why it hurt so much.  I mean, obviously Ted is an asshole who can’t think beyond his OWN needs. That was actually a pretty well acknowledged truth. You combine this with a few other sexist remarks and painful moments and this group I loved & cherished was becoming more and more difficult to convince myself to be around every month.

Then came the catalyst weekend.  It had been a fairly emotionally charged game and I had felt like every time I spoke up, my character’s ideas (ie mine) were being shot down.  I was emotionally tired. The dinner conversation came up and immediately Ted suggested Mexican. I brought up my allergy and suggested Olive Garden (pasta is perfectly safe for a vegetarian). He said he didn’t want pasta or salad. And suggested a different Mexican place.

I wish I could say I had tossed out BBQ and when Ted complained I lashed into him (as I fully believe he deserved) that if he couldn’t respect my allergy I didn’t have to respect his choice.  I didn’t.  I was tired and after a little more round-robin I caved.

I ordered as carefully as I could, but it was a Saturday night. I’m sure the restaurant had pans of pepper-dishes next to pans of non-peppery dishes and cross-contamination is a thing.  I spent half the night in my bathroom wishing I had just skipped dinner entirely.  I spent half the night wishing I never would have to see Ted again. I spent days emotionally recovering from…. I couldn’t even say what.

It took me longer than it should have, but I wrote an email to the defacto “leader” (the GM) of the group.  I explained I was frustrated and hurt.  It wasn’t perfect – hell, I was a bit emotional – but I was blunt and said “I won’t put myself into a situation again where I will be sick. ”

I walked away from the game. I walked away feeling like “the bad guy.”  I walked away feeling guilty because I know I hurt my friend’s feelings when I explained this truth: my friends didn’t stand up to Ted and left me to stand against him alone. Over and over. Their silence; their complicity in his sexism…. hurt.

The food thing was actually a pretty minor confrontation between myself and Ted. We had already had one where he literally had told me to sit down, shut up, and let “the men” play their game.  And I mean that literally as literally not figuratively.  And that time one of the guys did stand up to Ted and tell him he was in the wrong. But they never noticed how many times he talked over me. How many times he dismissed my ideas.  The tiny pricks over and over and again and again. Subtle and constant but each one individually small enough to dismiss.

But this is systemic sexism I wanted to get to in this post:

When I (the sole woman of the group) brought up a medical concern it was treated as equally valid as a life choice (of a man) when it came to food decisions.

Say that to yourself three times.  His choice (albeit religious) was given equality with my getting violently ill.  Granted, my illness isn’t something flashy like peanuts or fish cause. Still… mull this over in your mind.

And the guys didn’t fully understand.  More than one used the word “sensitive” when they asked and I explained that it was “him or me” in the group. Not even my brother (who totally supported my decision – had been listening to me for months complain as we carpooled) entirely understood it. Oh, he understood it in theory and he did/does support it – but he didn’t understand why it hurt as much as it did. I doubt he’s ever experienced it, and never over and over and over.

And yet, every woman I’ve told this to nods and shares her “Ted” experience.  That hashtag about women telling their stories…. yeah, this is one of mine.

This still hurts.  It’s been more than 2 years and I have teared up writing about this.  I have stopped twice, walked away, and came back to writing; because it still is painful to remember this decision to walk away from a group of 15 years.  Friends who I might talk to at a Christmas party or the like now, but I don’t get to see every month.

I have tried to hang out with them once; they planned a random board-game day.  And after about 2 hours of dealing with underhanded barbs from Ted (seriously, the man does not even realize how much he (A) interrupts me and (B) constantly puts down women in general) I was sick of it. Ted makes my skin crawl with the heeby-jeebies and I barely trust him not to cross the line when other men are around to hold him in check. It’s exhausting (and far from “fun”) to be in that kind of tension for very long.

Now, when they plan board game days I just ignore the email chain. Well, I just don’t respond. I always read them.