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The Gender Tag Project

28 Feb

I found this originally through on of my favorite YouTubers, Hannah Hart, and knew immediately I was going to do my own. Working with the age group I do, it has become one of my life missions to talk about issues of gender and equality. Start ’em young!!

The project is pretty cool and I recommend checking it out, but without further ado, The Gender Tag.

1. How do you self-identify your gender, and what does that definition mean to you?

I identify as female. I am fortunate to identify with my biological gender. That doesn’t mean, however, following the expectations and norms of that gender is always straightforward or freeing, sometimes it is suffocating.

2. What pronouns honor you?

I am a “she”/”her” kind of gal.

3. Describe the style of clothing that you most often wear.

It depends on the day, the mood, the energy level, etc. Mostly these days I would describe my style as lazy hipster co-ed. Lots on legging, lots of yoga pants, recently joggers, all paired with t-shirts, tank tops, and sweaters. My job affords me the privilege of comfort and I usually take full advantage.

4. Talk about your choices with body hair. How do you style your hair? Do you have facial hair? What do you choose to shave, or choose not to shave?

Currently my head hair is long and two-toned. I dye it because I don’t enjoy my natural shade of dirty blonde and for the last several years I have been growing it out. Recently  the urge to chop it all off has taken a strong hold.
As for the rest of my bodily tresses, I tend to tend to them once a week-ish unless a good reason arises. It used to be an upcoming hot date most often, but solidly in relationship mode, the absolute necessity of wearing shorts seems to be the only thing with enough motivation (and sometimes not even then).

5. Talk about cosmetics. Do you choose to wear makeup? Do you paint your nails? What types of soaps and perfumes do you use if any?

Makeup on occasion, really when I want to/need to/already feel “pretty.”
Nail painting rotates between often and rarely, I am currently in a rarely phase.
Soap and perfumes both I tend to go for “clean” or “floral” or “musky.” I don’t use perfume often, every once in a while a splash of body spray (usually some bottle that has been gifted to me), I rely on my deodorant for any extra enticing scent (my latest addiction is Old Spice Figi).

6. Have you experienced being misgendered? If so, how often?

Misgendered, no, at least that is no how I would describe it. Felt pressured or expected to act a certain way because of my gender, a big big yes. This seems to happen less as I have gotten older, certainly as I have become more open in being entirely who I am, but when I was younger the struggle was very real.

7. Do you experience dysphoria? How does that affect you?

Again, less as I have grown older. When I was a teenager, it was a constant struggle to stay positive about my life and where my path would lead me. These days, I am generally satisfied and although there are goals I would still like to accomplish and things I struggle to change, I have more faith in my own process. Of course, no one is perfect and I have dark days that seem to swallow every ounce of sunlight, but even in the middle of the tunnel, I know there is another side I am going to come out on.

8. Talk about children. Are you interested in having children? Would you want to carry a child if that were an option for you? Do you want to be the primary caretaker for any children you may have?

NO. Sorry that was blunt. I do not desire at this point in my life to have a child. The thought terrifies me on several levels, and in all honesty, although I believe that if I was committed to the process, I would be an excellent parent, I don’t ever see myself being committed enough. I am going to be honest, I am selfish. I don’t want to struggle financially just when I feel like I almost have my head wrapped around what stability would look like, I want to travel, I want to go out on weekends and not worry about a babysitter for little Susie (not what I would name it btw). I just want to be able to live my life and I can’t even keep a plant alive while doing that.

9. Talk about money. Is it important to you to provide for a family financially if you choose to have one? Is it important to you that you earn more than any partner you may have? Do you prefer to pay for things like dates? Are you uncomfortable when others pay for you or offer to pay for you?

My relationship with money is interesting (at least to me). I don’t have a lot of it, and really I view it more as a necessity than an objective or a means to happiness. However, because I don’t have a lot of it I am often stingy with it. On the other hand, I am also very prideful and glean a lot of self worth from being able to support myself and not only pay my own way, but sprinkle my friends with generosity too. On more than one occasion I have had enough in the bank to only cover myself, but because of some weird social obligation I sometimes feel, have paid for an entire bill. I hate being in debt, but struggle to get out of it once I am in it because I have a hard time turning down social outings through which I may gain in iota of acceptance.
Long story short, I don’t relate to money via my gender or obligation I feel because of it in a grand sense, but in a more communal way which I may or may not have learned because of my gender assignment.

10. Anything else you want to share about your experience with gender?

On the whole I think the story of me and gender is this: the older I get the easier it is to come to terms with expectations that may be placed on me due to my femininity. Despite some of the obstacles that have come with identifying as female, I am appreciative that I was born already comfortable in the skin I have (in a sense). That doesn’t mean I stop striving to understand the battles that others face or lend my voice when I can.

Valen-ME Day

14 Feb

It is no secret I think Valentine’s Day is a bullshit holiday. I correct myself, it should not even qualify as a holiday. It is simply another way for big business to drum up sheep to spend money. In case you are unaware, the reality behind the “holiday” is a bloody mess (see here if you don’t know what I am talking about).

I don’t often celebrate, significant other or no, because I don’t want to feed the corporate machine more than I already do. I would much rather show my love in 365 little ways than one big way once a year. That being said, it occurred to me this year that perhaps there is someone in my life the day could remind me deserves a little affection…myself.

Self care has been a big focus for me the last six months or so, and I suck at it. It is ten times easier to overwork my body, tear myself down, and ignore the needs of my heart then to spend time putting energy into showing myself the love, patience, and encouragement I pour out to others. In this, I know I am not alone. Many of us are so much better at practicing empathy and tolerance with others and so bad at treating ourselves with that same level of respect. We are our own biggest critics acting as judge, jury, and executioner for the smallest of charges.

This Valentine’s Day I am going to show myself the love I withhold all year. I am going to put energy into what makes ME happy and give myself permission to be selfish. Maybe I will buy myself flowers and chocolates, maybe I will spend the day ignoring my phone and taking a bath, maybe I will leave town and go on a day trip all by myself wherever I want. Who knows! The point is I can use this day for me and give he most important person in my life some attention and consideration. I can give myself the gift of accepting me for me.

2015 Year in Review

13 Jan

Yeah, I know it has been 2016 for 12 days already, so what!  

10 Highlights… (In chronological order)

  1. The Patriots won the Superbowl!!

I tried so hard to get tickets for that game since it was outside of Phoenix, but quickly realized that is a longer term goal because Superbowl tickets are outrageous! I had to settle for watching at home, but the lead up to that event was fun, so many events happening in the city to explore. Then, my boys won and hat always makes me happy.

  1. Michigan moved to Arizona

The process was difficult and full of doubt and questions, but once it happened, it was one of he most exciting things to happen this year by far. Despite all the turmoil that has ensued, taking that huge step for the first time is one I would not undo no matter the eventual outcome.

  1. Moving to a new apartment

In tangent, with Ben moving, we moved into a place of our own. LP had taken care of most of my last three moves, so doing it on my own and getting to chose what I wanted instead of worrying about what someone else wanted (Michigan was not picky in the least and couldn’t do much choosing from so far away) was refreshing and fun for me.

  1. New Tattoo

With the upcoming departure of one of my closes friends, we decided to get tattoos together. They don’t match and each piece has individual significance, but it was nice to go get them together. Mine was a design on my right shoulder blade that outlines Hogwarts and has a Dumbledore quote inside the castle. It is by far the nerdiest tattoo I have or probably will put on my body…and I love it!!

  1. July trip to Massachusetts

This trip was actually really difficult for me. I had to grapple with a lot of disappointment and shame. I won’t go into detail, but it made it to the highlights because with that inner battle, I also managed to come to terms with some of my mistakes and by necessity, practiced acceptance of myself and my family. In addition, I still was able to sped quality time with my family and see some dear friends.

  1. Birthday shenanigans in Flagstaff

It was just a lovely weekend with two of my favorite people.

  1. RIOT Fest in Chicago

It was a crazy weekend and three days of mud, cold, and some crazy good music. I wanted never to leave. Plus, as a side note, it has been part of a growing closeness between myself and Anarchy. She is very much becoming one of my closest recent friends.

  1. Two whole years with Michigan

The last time I hit a two-year mark with someone, we broke up a month afterward. Officially my longest lasting relationship.

  1. Taking Michigan home to Massachusetts

I realize I have devoted way too much time talking about my relationship, but we hit a lot of milestones this year as a couple and for me personally. For Christmas, I took Michigan home. Crazy, I know. He hung out with my family, met my friends, did the holidays with us…all sorts of weird feelings, but pleasant overall.

  1. Discovering Cult Classics

Best theater series ever!! They have events once a month where they show cult classics (hence the name) in a real theater. I went to my first one at the end of the year to see Spaceballs and it was a blast.

10 Disappointments…(In no particular order)

  1. Rogers and the Viking moved to Wisconsin

It broke my heart losing two ladies who I had grown so close to and I spent many of my weekends with.

  1. So…many…relationship problems

I may have hit a lot of milestones this year in my relationship, but it certainly hasn’t been an easy road. The coming year needs to bring some changes for the good or for the ugly.

  1. The Patriots non-undefeaed season

This may seem like a silly one, but when they went so long without a loss I really thought we were going to pull it off…and then we lost…to the Broncos.

  1. Failing at my goal to be debt free

It felt like one thing after another kept happening and debt still looms above me…seemingly permanently.

  1. Not getting the promotion I so very much deserve…twice

I have been saying my boss has a grudge agains me for the longest time, and I am more convinced now than ever.

  1. Re-emergence of my cigarette habit

Getting close with Anarchy is so great in so many ways, except that she invites me for smoke breaks, and I often say yes.

  1. Weight gain

Despite my best (not really) efforts, I put on some pounds this year which brings in a whole slew of self-conscious thought processes.

  1. LP moved to Portland

After moving on from being roommates, our relationship seemed to improve…and then she moved to Portland which was hard to manage.

  1. Wasting a lot of time and money

That one is a bit self-explanatory.

  1. The evening of the sprained ankle

I went to stay with LP in her swanky downtown loft, got very very very drunk, walked home alone, sprained my ankle, and then continued to make poor life choices.

3 Game Changers…

  1. Michigan moving to Arizona

Challenging many of my assumptions about life, love, and roommates.

  1. My company hiring a new CEO

But more importantly getting rid of our previous tyrant. I still feel the need for new employment when that is an option, but this new fella gives me some hope.

  1. No longer being roommates with LP

And the vast array of new and different things that come with that.

3 Things I focused on…

  1. Paying off debts

Although unsuccessful, not entirely sagnant

  1. Reading

Did you see that book challenge post? Completed!

  1. Yoga and physical activity

Although not always successful, taking care of my body is a constant goal. I realized this year I need to focus on activities that get me moving instead of just relying on gym time or Jillian Miachaels to get the job done.

3 Things I forgot…

  1. Applying for Grad School

Again

  1. Figuring out a better solution for my student loan problem.

A forever battle that I love to avoid

  1. Self Care

I overworked and under-appreciated myself often this year. In addition, I still haven’t found a therapist.

Reflection…

As most years go, this one had its up and its downs. I made a lot of choices and changes and not all of them turned out the way I would have liked, but that does’ mean they weren’t worth my time. My brain has been preoccupied with relationship woes and wins more than anything else and a piece of that girl I never waned to be again is back in action. I have he ability to change that, but the upcoming year is going to come with its own set of challenges. Some I invite, others I am terrified to face. One can only hope for the best…and a good book to get you though the rough parts.

Little Boys Playing Big Boy Games and Losing

6 Nov

As a woman I have never felt so disrespected in my life. This week has been a shit storm of disgusting, hateful, derogatory comments about sex, genitalia, and the use of women for the enjoyment of men….no, boys. I expect it to some extent, they are learning, but to this extreme, it has eaten at my heart and soul. No one, men, man or teen has the right or privilege to talk that way, no one. Yet I have been subjected to sit, listen, and put up with a string of commentation about my gender. Forced to keep my mouth shut because if I allowed the words I wished to say out of my mouth I would no longer be a desirable employee.

I lost it tonight on a young man who has the audacity to come into my program and discuss his male prowess in getting females into bed. If a woman, if any person, is giving you the gift of spending a night or even a moment with them, then the very LEAST you can do is give them the respect that action deserves. If you can’t even do that, you don’t deserve that gift from that person or any other. Your sexual partners are not locker room banter or a way to prove to your buddies that you are the god you think yourself to be. You are not a god, you are scum and should not for one second think otherwise.

No one is an object, whether they have slept with only you or with a hundred others. Notches on your belt don’t make you a more worthy person and they don’t make you worthy of love and affection. What DOES make you worthy of that precious event is when you are able to see it for what is is, and respect and worship the one allowing you into their most intimate spaces.

There are not enough showers to wash away the grime I feel coating every inch of my body. These are young boys and they shouldn’t already be so disenchanted with the world to treat it this way. The most unnerving thought I have is that they must have learned it somewhere. What role models do they have that they already believe the words coming out of their mouths and appropriate and acceptable? What state is our world in when from the very start, these boys are taught disrespect and fowl language are acceptable ways to address their counterparts?

To make it even worse, I have only discussed one small part of the bigger picture. Yes, their language about sex is concerning, but so is the language they use about sexual orientation and race. It is hateful language and I could preach for days about how wrong and misguided they are, but they aren’t going to change because it is coming from a 20-something white girl who in their mind doesn’t understand their generation or their communities.

I started by saying I was disgusted, but in reality maybe I am just sad.

The Slump (an all too reality based short story)

11 Oct

He fell asleep again. I can’t stop myself from staring at his prostrate form for a moment, listening to the half-snore, half-choking noise escaping his slack-jawed mouth. How many nights in a row is it now? Finding him in this state is starting to feel more normal than arriving home to him awake and erect. Is it normal to fall into such a stagnant state a mere six months after moving in with your significant other? Are we normal? Is normal even a term anyone can use with any degree of certainty anymore?

I used to try waking him up as seductively as I could manage. These days my confidence in the bedroom has waned and so instead I opt for one of two options. The first is noisily getting ready for bed then collapsing into my side opposite him, back turned, fighting for sleep in an anxiety-riddled mind. Tonight that feels too melodramatic so instead I head back out to the living room, grabbing my laptop off the desk on the way. I mull over how I might hunt for sleep tonight while debating how cold a shoulder he will receive come morning. Full on silent mode or just a simple downcast eye followed by terse responses to his attempts at civility?

As I plop down on the brown sectional sofa, I flip up the laptop’s screen and type in the password, one of four variations of the same letters I have used since college. I am still indecisive about whether I want to get off anyway in a secret display of spite or roam the halls of Netflix until I am too droopy-eyed to watch anything in its entirety.

Porn wins out and fifteen minutes later I realize it takes me just as long to find an adequate seven minute video as it does to find a full length cinematic feature. Oh the internet. Perhaps I am too picky in general. Perhaps that is the major flaw in my life as a whole. This isn’t the first time I have spent time with this exact series of thoughts in the stillness post sunset. It is easy to move on, however, since an Existential crisis isn’t exactly what I am looking for at the moment.

Settling for some odd mash up of bondage lesbianism, I get mine just before the firm-breasted starlette on my screen and close the window before she gets a chance. Poor girl, I wonder how may times someone has done that to her. I consider for the briefest moment sleeping on the couch, but every time I do that my neck hurts for two days, affecting me far more than it does him.

I trudge back to bed finding him in in the same position I left him in. He shifts some as I slide under the covers. I am sure his subconscious recognizes a familiar presence, but instead of rolling toward me he rolls away, and seconds later the drone of the half-snore returns.

The 5 Reasons I get Happier as I get Older…

4 Aug

JamesRadcliffe.com

Long past the grim-dark of midnight, in a loud and crowded bar somewhere in the red-brick old town of Edinburgh, I found myself talking with a friend who was well and truly down in her cups due to a recently ‘celebrated’ birthday.

As the conversation unfolded, she repeatedly invited me to commiserate with her on the general unfairness of aging and the perceived dearth of her bright glow youth; to which I replied that, in all honestly, as I have gotten older I have noticed myself becoming markedly happier.

Sitting up suddenly, alert, incredulous, (and swaying not a little) she blurted: ‘How is that even possible?’.

This post is my answer to that question.

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Tiny Little Voices

4 Jul

The last two weeks have been hard. I have felt vulnerable at best and worthless at worst. You wouldn’t think getting passed over for a promotion would do that to you, except that the insult was one in a string of many. Now this isn’t a post about how horrible my job is, although I could go on about that for ages, but about that tiny voice I really should listen to more often.

I call that voice God, but others may call it something else. Conscience. The universe. Reason. Tina Turner. Really to each his (or her) own.

I consider myself a spiritual person. I pray. I do yoga. I make an attempt at meditating. I like feeling connected to the world around me and spirituality is one way I achieve that. I grew up in the church and always found peace there. When I moved out of my parents’ place after college, I stopped going. Stopped as in not even the rare visit on holidays. I wouldn’t say my life has fallen apart because of it nor that I have stopped calling myself a Christian. However, I will say I consistently look back at that period of my life and miss the feeling of purpose I had. I was more fulfilled then than at ay other point of my life.

Now, back to the last two weeks. It seems that two thing coincided. My job became a sinkhole of despair and my relationship hit a giant fucking road block. They say bad things come in threes so I am waiting for one more big life failure like my parents dying on their way back from Canada or finding out I am pregnant…any day now. The first two, however, have been bad enough so I am ok if it is just a duo this time. My emotional health has been plummeting and I have had little motivation to fix it. Initially I was keeping up with little things like housework and my physical wellbeing, but even those are falling to the wayside.

How do all of these random ideas fit together, well let me tell you. Today Michigan went to the gym and I had no motivation to go to yoga so I was about to put on an episode (or 4) of the last season of Hart of Dixie when it occurred to me that I might find a more productive use of my time. I went to my book shelf to pick out one of the few self-help books I have purchased, and remembered I was in the middle of working through the Captivating companion journal/guide thing. I pulled out the book and the journal and plopped onto the couch. About halfway through, while tears were streaking my cheeks, a realization hit me that had I not listened to that tiny little voice I would not feel as good as I did in that moment.

I am not saying that I am all better and a miracle happened this morning, but sometimes that voice knows exactly what you need when you need it. What I needed this morning was that book and some self-analysis.

It happened earlier this week too. One night when I was full-on pity party and in bed before Michigan, I pulled out the Brene Brown book I keep on my bedside table. Her words were exactly what I needed to hear.

That voice is hard to hear sometimes through the cacophony that is our lives, but it is so so important to listen, to take time for ourselves; to find what we need and allow ourselves the time to be present and accepting of it. For me, this week, it has been books, but sometimes it is time with a friend, or making a detour for coffee, or just sitting in silence to find a snippet of peace. I don’t know what it is for you, but I encourage you to listen to it and take advantage of the things that make you feel connected to the world around you.