Blog truncated on account of stomach ache.
In case we’re not facebook friends, here’s some stuff that happened to me today:
I got a new tattoo
I did all of my not inconsiderable work (even though I finished after midnight, so technically not actually doing that days work on the actual day, but it’s close enough)
And I watched some of the American remake of Sirens (season 1 is free on Netflix streaming). It doesn’t have as much all-out buttfucking as the UK version, but the banter is way better, and there are actually recurring lady characters that do things other than talk about the dude characters.
It’s late and my arm hurts, so I’ll be signing off. Just know that I am working and happy about that, and that Sirens is great.
It’s been a minute.
Jacket from Patagonia
Atari shirt was Ben’s
Striped shirt from Target
Skirt from Target
Long-john legs from REI
Socks from Target
Shoes from Keen
“Do you like living in this house?”
I nodded, too busy crying to say anything intelligible. Even so, it was a lie. I hated living in that house, but the acute knowledge that it was the only house available changed my answer quite a bit. My parents lived in cars, with friends, on the street. Wherever. They were out having adventures. The kind of adventures where you don’t have to go to school. Or eat breakfast. Where sometimes your mom’s boyfriend got crazy and choked you, and sometimes you had to run away in the middle of the night and the wind cut through your Care Bear night gown like the asphalt cut up your feet as you were dragged across the highway in a fog of speed-psychosis.
“Do you like riding horses?”
This time my nod wasn’t a lie. Because a horse is too stupid to be dishonest. If he kicks you, bucks you, bites you, you did something. Some actual and real list of things that horses can not process. With a horse, it’s clear. He bit you because he can’t see his own teeth. He’ll never bite you because he changed his mind and he actually can see his teeth after all. Not like at home where you get hit for talking and hit for not talking.
“Then you know what you have to do.”
That was a regular conversation growing up. Sometimes it was horses or other extracurricular activities; sometimes it was being allowed to see my friends and go to school. Sometimes it got dark and I was reminded that, at least in this house the guy beating on me wasn’t a stranger. What if I went back with my mom or into foster care and it was a new guy with new rules? What if he used weapons? At least here with grandpa it was good old fashioned yelling, shoving, smacking and punches. Not a lot of punches either; one or two to prove a point. Isn’t that better than those foster parents who starve their kids and beat them with pipes?
Again and again, I had to conclude that it was.
I’ve been trying to write this for years now. Not about the abuse, you guys know I could write about that in my sleep. I’ve journaled, and processed, and shared, and inventoried my feelings about that a million times. I’ll probably do it a million more. A childhood is the kind of thing one finds oneself constantly unpacking. Such a small amount of time with such a massive mental footprint. It’s a testament to the wonder of the developing human brain. All that information just sucked up like a sponge.
No, what I’ve been trying to write about is the idea of male and female that got put inside my head. That the male/female relationship is an exchange of goods for services.
Men provide and women serve. Men provide houses, and women serve as punching bags. Men provide grocery money, and women serve food they may or may not be punished for making poorly. Men provide horse riding money and women serve an unending supply of supplication and self-deprecation; talking, walking, waking, and sleeping at his command.
Who in their right mind would choose to be a woman in this context?
I’m a child of the 80s. The whole time this dire home situation is going on, I’m still getting told I can be anything. I’m watching Diane Keaton and Lily Tomlin with shoulder pads out to here and giant cell phones and quarterly reports. I’m seeing my parent’s butch lady and femme man friends, and I’m hatching a plan.
I’m coming to a pretty standard conclusion that I don’t have to act like a woman. I don’t have to be this weak thing. I don’t have to cry into the dinner I made while some man scolds me for not making it well enough. I don’t have to be still and quiet while someone other than me decided if I’m about to get fucked. I don’t have to sneak, and I don’t have to simper, and I don’t have to beg for it to stop. I never have to do any of those thing if I just keep myself as far away from female space as possible.
In the poem Beautiful and Cruel, Sandra Cisneros writes
I have begun my own quiet war. Simple. Sure.
I am one who leaves the table like a man,
without putting back the chair or picking up the plate.
So, I sit with my legs open, I take up space, I am loud, I swear, curse, smoke, and fight. I don’t cry, I don’t flinch, and I don’t ever back down from a challenge. Like the grandfather I am so afraid of, I take command of a room. I refuse to compromise. I bluster and rant and attack. I do not give, I am not nice, and I will not listen. To anyone.
It feels very safe to be this person. This man.
Briefly, following the incident where I woke up with DD tits and amazing hair, I courted the male gaze. But it wasn’t long before I shaved the hair off and covered the tits – as much as is possible – in over sized shirts and a pronounced forward hunch.
Ironically, giant tits are completely useless when one is trying to take up space.
Tits are like bat-signals to misogynistic hetero-harassers. Tits are the opposite of what I want to highlight about myself.
What started as a childhood safety blanket is now a dear part of who I am. As well as a problematic one. Sometimes people don’t understand where I fit. Am I deluded? A closeted lesbian, (or increasingly more these days) a transman in denial? Is it the feminism, has it eaten my brains all up, and caused me to be confused about my womanly place?
The varied combinations of gender expression, gender identity and sexual orientation can be difficult to navigate for those who are committed to a sex and gender binary that is as immutable to them as it is unreasonable to the rest of us.
Unfortunately for me, if people’s problems with my gender expression comes from a misogynistic commitment to the gender binary, then the very expression itself also comes from the same place.
A long time ago I decided that if women are weak, I won’t be a woman. Whenever I’m scared, I won’t be a woman.
So what happens when, against all common sense I am a woman?
What happens when this terrible femininity exists somewhere inside me like it does with virtually every person on this planet, whatever their gender?
Yeah, gender is largely arbitrary, but so is time, and that will fuck you up like crazy, especially if you try to ignore it. Walking around with a completely backwards gender binary in my head affects me no matter what my intentions. If my thinking is distorted, nothing good is going to flow from that.
Feeling safe is a fine idea, but what good does it do me when I am unable to empathize with my friends and family when they are emotional? When I tend to get irrational over stupid man shit like “respect?” When I myself am unable to ask for help when I need it out of a truly deadly commitment to my own internalized misogyny?
Misogyny isn’t just the fear of women, it’s the fear of becoming a woman, and all that entails. It’s a fear of getting fucked, beaten, forgotten and ignored. It’s a fear that the ego can not harbor, so it turns it into hate.
Manliness is a short list of acceptable behavior that prevents one from being a woman.
My oldest fear, my most sacred terror is not of men, but of not being a man.
People told me that I should make up with the grandfather that beat me when I was a kid.
“You’ll regret it when he’s dead.”
“You might hate him now, but when he’s gone you’ll remember all the things he did for you and you’ll be sorry you never apologized to him.”
Nope. I’m still glad his ass is dead, and I don’t give a shit about the fact that I never “made up” with him. There was nothing to make up about. It’s not like we had an argument over some petty bullshit. He beat the crap out of me, I hated him for it, I don’t feel like I owed him anything, he certainly didn’t feel any obligation to me either. I was glad when he died, and I’m still glad he’s dead now.
It’s okay to hate someone who treated you like shit. It’s okay to be glad when they’re dead.
I have no shame over anything I did in regard to him. Not even when he told my grandma that the nurses in his nursing home were hitting him and I told her he was probably lying. I hope they were hitting him.
I understand the cycle of abuse. I’m not so cruel that I don’t have compassion for a man who was beat in his childhood far more frequently and far more badly than he ever beat me, but there’s compassion and there’s consequences, and they are very different things. My grandmother doesn’t need the guilt he was trying to heap on her for not taking his diseased, incontinent ass home to die while she cleaned him and took even more of his cruel, abusive behavior.
He was an asshole and a bully his entire life. He made no changes, and so he died alone. A cautionary tale, for sure. But definitely none of my concern otherwise.
All the people who told me I’d be sorry when he was gone… it’s been six years, I still don’t see any sorrow over here.
I’ve been watching and loving Agent Carter like crazy. She’s an unmitigated badass. Although I do wish she had more screen time with other ladies. But we’re only three episodes in. Anything could happen.
Ben found this article about 15 honest questions the person you marry should be able to answer. We don’t really believe in the sanctity of marriage, but we’ll play along.
1. Why do you love me?
Ben: I mean, to really get into that I would have to define what love is and get into that criteria, because if I didn’t, any answer I gave would just be bullshit. When people ask this question, they’re only playing into the narrative of love and romance that the culture demands that they have. Love is an experience, it’s not a set of qualities.
Marina: It’s probably a chemical reaction to sleeping next to you for 11 years. Also, you never cheated on me or hit me without permission.
Ben: When you tell someone why you love them, you’re usually just making a list of why you think they’re a good person. But someone can be a good person without you loving them. Like, why do I love the dog? Not because she’s a better dog than other dogs, she’s actually not. I love her because she’s mine.
Ben: Are we going to have time to do all of these? It’s taken us 10 minutes to do one.
Marina: It’s taken you 10 minutes to do one.
2. Why do you want to spend the rest of your life with me?
Marina: I honestly don’t contemplate spending the rest of my life with you. It’s kind of petty to make a 60-year promise you have no way of knowing you’ll keep on the strength of 11 good years. Literally anything could happen. I don’t feel comfortable thinking in terms of lifetimes here.
Ben: It seemed like a good idea at the time. And I don’t mean to be cavalier. As of this moment, that honestly seems like the best option.
3. Will you do your best to keep the romance alive?
Ben: No (giggles).
Marina: Romance is for people who need to be coerced into dick sucking.
4. Will you grow with me, and not away from me?
Marina: Who can say?!
Ben: Babe, I’ve been growing with you since we met. Like, at least five inches.
5. Will you stick through the rough times?
Ben: There are going to be more?
Marina: Well, yeah. Life is kind of a constant barrage of suffering so…
6. Are you willing to lose some battles in order to keep the peace?
Marina: What does that even mean?
Ben: I do that all the time, dear. That’s the definition of my “Marina coping strategy.”
Marina: I still have no idea what this means.
7. Can you promise to put us ahead of everything else?
Ben: No. Finding the 6-fingered man who killed my father is more important.
Marina: Like breathing? Hard pass.
8. Will you be a great parent?
Marina: I honestly have some really serious fears that I won’t be.
Ben: Yes, I will be a great parent. And if I’m not, I will find a better parent, kill him, eat his heart, and gain his power.
9. Will you be sure to remind me how much you love me regularly?
Ben: I tell you I love you all the time, but if you need to be constantly reassured that I love you, then we have much bigger problems.
Marina: Yeah, this question is dumb. I tell you I love you because I love you. Not because I need to make sure your ego is stroked.
10. Can you promise to do all you can to keep that spark alive?
Marina: We do have a duty to protect the Allspark.
Ben: Sometimes it gets windy… you need to add that this is a joke about you farting.
11. Will you support me if I can’t support myself?
Ben: I don’t know, you’re kind of fat.
Marina: And your arms are like impotent old man dicks.
12. Will you promise to continue to pursue your personal goals and dreams?
Ben: Possibly to the detriment of our relationship, yes.
Marina: I’m already doing that, so… same?
13. Will you not allow yourself to let go?
Ben: It’s about getting fat.
Marina: Too late.
14. If I’m the first to go, will you be there with me until the end?
Ben: I will sexually caress your cooling corpse, but only because I know that’s what you’d want.
Marina: You know me so well.
15. Can you promise me that if my time is cut short, you’ll continue to live on for the both of us?
Marina: …and eat for the both of us
Ben: I’m already planning who to fuck.
There you have it. Please, take these answers to heart and make sure you model your own unique adult relationship(s) on exactly what we said here, no more no less. You wouldn’t want to be incompatible, would you?!
It’s nearly one in the morning, I have work stuff to do pretty early tomorrow, so this is going to be quick.
Today was Ben and my 30th birthday pot-luck. We don’t know a lot of people in Portland, so the group was pretty small, but I enjoyed myself.
It did make me think that nearly one year here and absolutely no new friends is kind of a bad look. Working and fretting about work non-stop has taken an obvious toll on our social life. Then again, I’ve never had to make a completely new friend group before. Not like I really have to now, Ben has Portland friends, and I’m glad for that, but I found myself missing my LA friends more than usual today.
This may sound funny coming from a woman who regularly talks about her most shameful shit on the Internet, but I’m a hardcore introvert. Dealing with people in a purely social context exhausts me. It takes a long time for someone to make their way into the bubble where being with them is just as nourishing as being alone. I can count those people on one hand, and the only one in Oregon is Ben.
It’s hard to make grown-up friends, especially when you feel like you absolutely must be working at every available second, or live with the knowledge that the failure of your business is definitely your fault because you didn’t do absolutely everything in your power to stop it.
Obviously, I happen to be in one of those rare moments where I’m not totally freaking out about work because now I’m freaking out about my friend circle. Anything to keep the anxiety high. By which I mean to say that a good portion of this navel gazing is probably due to (my usual) lack of sleep, followed by lots of cleaning, followed by not enough eating, and too much talking.
Relationships don’t appear overnight. It’s an organic process that takes time and patient effort, as well as completely arbitrary factors like compatibility and availability. I know all this stuff, but it still kind of sucks when you’re a stranger in a completely awesome, but still substantially strange land.