Category: Story Time

Smart Answers to Stupid Questions People Still Ask Me About My Mother

Most of us who have separated ourselves from the narcissistic, emotionally manipulative and abusive people in our lives have been asked some really dumb questions about that over the years. Especially if the person in question is a mother. I don’t know if it’s run of the mill misogyny (“but women are naturally nurturing, a woman could never be an abuser!”) or some deeper, sadder reality (it is possible that most mothers are really awesome and we got the unfathomable end of the stick), but the concept of a child who doesn’t speak to their mother is extremely difficult for most people to grasp. Especially once the person in question learns that my abusive mother is dying.

Why can’t you just forgive and forget?

It usually shocks people when I tell them that I have forgiven her. Years of shitty daytime dramas and moralizing cop shows have lead them to believe the way abusive relationships work is that when the abuser is dying, you come to their hospital bed, forgive them, and then they die peacefully while credits roll and everybody gets to feel safe in a world where consequences are largely rhetorical and people who love each other can’t possibly hurt one another.

Forgiveness and reason are not mutually exclusive. I can forgive the stove for burning my hand, that doesn’t mean I’m about to snuggle with it. My mother is a shark. She was very literally tortured from an early age. She’s been places no person would knowingly send their worst enemy. Only an idiot would forget that about her. That she does the things she does is understandable, that I would walk back into that situation with open arms is suicidal. I can forgive her, accept her, and still stay away from her. These things can and must coexist.

But don’t you love her?

For a long time, I felt like I shouldn’t. That only a moron would love someone who had been and continued to be intentionally mean to me. But my life isn’t a reaction to hers. For awhile it was, but it doesn’t have to be and it isn’t today. Loving someone or being loved by someone isn’t a license to treat them however you want, and it’s only the fact that I was raised by abusive people who were themselves abused that I would even think that.

But she loves you, doesn’t that matter?

Of course she loves me. Lots of people love me. I am extremely fucking lovable, but just like my love for her, her love for me does not make it okay to treat me like shit.

She used to tell me that no one would ever love me like she did, and it would scare me because I was legitimately worried that no one would. When I met her, no one had ever treated me like I was valuable, or like I mattered. She told me I was precious, that she loved me, and that she would always love me. For the first time since she abandoned me, I felt like I belonged to someone. So, when she started to criticize me, when she told me that she thought I was retarded, that I was emotionally unstable, that I was incapable of doing anything but staying with her and taking care of her, I started to think she was right. When she told me that I would die without her loving guidance, I totally believed it.

When I finally moved out of her house, it’s not because I realized that she was lying and manipulating me. It’s because I was going to kill her and myself anyway, and I thought I might as move out first and die a free woman.

She still texts me sometimes, and one string of angry condescending texts from a couple of years ago ended with an emotional reminder that no one would ever love me like she did. I just laughed. I fucking hope that no one ever loves me like she does. If I had one wish for the future of humanity, it would be that no one ever loves anyone anywhere the way she loved me.

Okay, but why do you have to tell everybody about it?

If you’re reading this, and you’re thinking “TMI,” you have the option to fuck right off, and you don’t have to ever come back. If you don’t want to hear this shit, that’s cool. It’s totally not for you.

In a perfect world, my mom is a freak anomaly; the only one of her kind. But I know for a fact that’s not true. Not only do other people with parents and partners like her contact me all the time and tell me that my writing helps them, new generations of abusers are being born every day and that’s why I write about this shit. Not everybody is safe where they live. Not everybody can talk about it yet, or maybe they’ll never talk about it like I do. If even one person reads this and it helps them, the other 7.125 billion of you can go to hell.

She’s dying, doesn’t that change everything?

What normal people don’t realize is that narcissistic abusers don’t play by the rules. No decent person would pretend to be terminally ill for attention, but we’re not dealing with decent people here. Sickness and death are both pretty great ways to control people and avoid consequences, especially the relationship consequences that come with being narcissistic, emotionally manipulative and abusive.

I met my mother in 1994, and one of the first things I remember her telling me was that she was sorry she wouldn’t be able to see me grow up, since she would be dead in two years.

So, for the last 22 years she’s been dying. Sometimes quickly, sometimes only when somebody wants her to do something she doesn’t want to do, but dying all the same. And the thing about lying about dying is that eventually, you’re telling the truth. She’s been diagnosed with cancer four times, each one more dire than the last.

At first, I did change my behavior. I asked myself what a good daughter would do in this situation, and I did my best to be the loving, responsible and supportive daughter I wanted to be. Not because of her, but because of me. I spent a lot of years reacting to her and using her shitty treatment of me as a justification for being a really terrible asshole to my own mother. But I don’t want to be the kind of person who blames other people for who I am and what I do.

So, I made exceptions to a lot of the boundaries I’d put in place in order to be supportive and available for her in her time of need, but then I realized that she was using her cancer the same way she used her health issues before cancer to manipulate people into doing what she wanted. And she would practically levitate off her “death bed” if someone didn’t fall in line. She’s been banned from one of the best cancer hospitals in the US for attacking a nurse there because they didn’t do things her way.

If dying had actually changed anything for her, it might change for me too. But it clearly hasn’t. Dying is just another tool she can use to control people and situations, and she’s using it to the best of her ability. It was naive to think that, after all she’s been through cancer would have any effect on her.

How would you feel if you had a daughter?

Sometimes people are asking this question because they want to see me realize that if I don’t reconcile with my mother, my future children won’t have a grandma. When, in fact, she’s probably the deciding factor in why I don’t have kids yet.

Other times people want to know what I would do if, in the future, my daughter refused to talk to me. But that’s a false equivalency. I am not my mother, my future children are not me. We’re going to have a completely different relationship than the one I have with my mother. I will say that if at any point, I think it is okay to neglect, abandon, abuse, allow other people to abuse my children, or if I ever choose drugs over them I will deserve it when they never speak to me again. And if they ever do decide to reconnect with me at any point after that, I will doubly deserve to have them leave me again if I continue to be abusive to them. Because that’s how relationships work.

How are you going to feel when she dies?

Obviously, I have no idea. How could anybody know that?

What I do know is how I feel today. I feel safe in my home today. I am confident in my abilities both personally and professionally today. I have self esteem and I have hope for the future, which are all things I earned since leaving her house and setting firm boundaries against her being able to come into my life and say abusive, shitty things to me, attack me or my family, or demand that I pay her bills, or whatever other crazy thing she thinks I am suddenly obligated to give her or do for her.

The space between us has been equal parts agonizing and liberating. At the end of the day, I’m just a person. I love my parents like anybody else does, but I don’t have any illusions about who they are.

For years I let the hope that she could change or had changed keep me in a holding pattern, close enough for her to lash out at, far enough away that I managed to dodge a lot of the really crazy behavior. But it was tearing me apart. I’ve done a lot of work to get to the point where I don’t openly hope anymore, but I know that when she does die, whatever is left of that feeling will be ripped out of me. And it will be horrible.

I still live a lot of my life on the incorrect assumption that if I could only say, do or be something more than I currently am, that I could cure her. That if I could somehow prove how smart, caring, strong, and capable I am that I could earn her kindness, her consideration. It’s only my heart that feels that way. My brain has spent thirty-one years studying her absence, her presence, her rage, and her pain.

It took me so long to accept her as she is. And love her as she is. And know that, just like the hot stove, she will always burn me. And I also know that a lot of other people have the same struggle that I do. So next time someone asks you a stupid question about your abusive mom (or dad, or partner or whatever), feel free to give them the link to this blog. Because it can get a little tiring telling strangers this kind of shit.

Happy Three Years, Pepper!


Three years ago today I got into some major drama with my family over Pepper. Over the course of one week, she was abandoned when grandma was in the hospital and her boyfriend was in jail (You Can’t Make This Up), given to me as a part of a reconciliation agreement after a break-up that lasted about 12 hours (And That’s How We Got a Dog), and then taken back after grandma’s stupid boyfriend decided he didn’t want to give “his” dog to me (And That’s How We Ungot a Dog).

We ended up getting her back two weeks later (Guess Who’s Back?), and I’m really glad for that. Grandma’s boyfriend could have easily taken her with him on whatever strange weird trip he went on. He took the cat and promptly “lost” him. I hope to God I never know what really happened to that cat.

Who can say what could have happened if I’d been a shit about keeping her, or if I’d been an asshole to grandma’s boyfriend when I wanted to be.

Maybe she would have been with us for two more weeks, maybe she would be dead or “missing” for three years at this point.

You never know how something is really going to work out. You can only do what you think is right in the moment and hope for the best. As much as I wanted to read that ineffectual shithead the riot act, I decided a long time ago that I speak to people politely or not at all whenever I can possibly help it. So I kept my mouth shut, and he gave me my dog back two weeks later.

That’s not the macho thing, but it was effective.



P.S. Can we all just marvel that there was a time in my life where I could drop $250 on clothes just because my feelings were hurt?


How I Got Poop on the Dog AKA Goddamnit Portland, We Have Leash Laws for a Reason


I’m not proud of this, but my dog is dog aggressive. I know. She’s so cute, you wouldn’t think it about her. It’s my secret shame.

So, when we’re walking, I avoid other dogs, not because I’m afraid that they’ll hurt my tiny baby, which a lot of dog owners think, but because my tiny, angry baby will probably try to hurt them, and if she succeeds I’ll either end up paying vet bills for their totally friendly sweetheart, or having to get my dog euthanized when their totally friendly sweetheart looses her patience and murders my dog. Or both.

Pepper’s been a little sick since our trip to see grandma. I fed her a different food, and being on the road tends to fuck her stomach up anyway, so her second turd of the walk was overly liquid.

I’m on the ground trying and mostly not failing at containing this butt soup in a standard poo bag, when I look up and see an overly friendly young lab mix looking expectantly at me and my dog.

Pepper was behaving pretty okay, but I could tell her patience was running thin. I stood up and put her behind me and told the interloper to “Go Home” in a strong, clear voice. Which worked not at all. Strange dog tried to go around me, so I moved pepper away from him. He followed, of course so I moved my dog again.

It started slowly but eventually I was spinning in faster and faster circles shouting “Go Home!” with a leash in one hand and a cooling pile of shit in the other while this strange dog is gaining on me with every turn.

If I’d had an opportunity to at least twist the top of the bag closed before mister overly friendly and completely unattended came onto the scene, it would be different, but there is literally a tiny shit puddle in a bag in my cupped hand. Anything I touch with that hand will get shit on it.

But a slightly shitty dog is better than a lawsuit, so I closed my right hand around the puddle as tightly as possible, reeled her in with my other hand, and picked her up with both hands, leaving a reeking brown smudge all down her pretty white leg.

Then I shouted for the other dog to “GO HOME!” about 10 more times while he followed us down the street and one time I shouted “Oh God!” when it looked like his goofy ass was going to be hit by a van.

All this happened across from not one but two soccer games going on in the elementary school playground 10 feet away. At no point did anyone offer to help me or my shit covered dog, although I’m pretty sure I heard at least one stoned teenager telling his friend to look at the dog lady. Thanks Cameron.

I felt bad for leaving him obviously unattended and on the loose, but my dog is my priority and she’s with me on a leash. If a little poopey.

I love that Portland is dog friendly. I hate that Portlanders are pathologically attached to the concept of dogs being off the leash. Not every dog is just going to follow you around and totally ignore their doggy instincts to roam and investigate and play. Just because your dog is friendly doesn’t mean mine is.

I washed her when we got home, by the way. She was really unhappy about it and actually jumped out of the tub and made me chase her around the house yelling at her not to touch anything with her poop leg. I’d scraped as much of it off as possible on the walk, but there’s only so much one can accomplish while rubbing at fur with poo bag plastic, which was the only thing I had on me at the time.

Thankfully, none of our furniture came in contact with the poo. It is still safe to come to our house.

I Met Some Frogs

Southern California doesn’t have a lot of visible frogs. Lizards and snakes, yes. Frogs no. So, even though I was the kind of child that could usually be found head first in a bush with a bug in my hand, I have never ever caught a frog.

So imagine my sheer delight when we were out at Ben’s parents soon-to-be house and I got to meet not one but two frogs in the very same shitter.

Owing to the fact that their proto-house doesn’t yet have indoor plumbing, there is an exceptionally well maintained porta-potty in the driveway that I opted to use before we left on the twenty minute drive back to the current house.

As soon as I opened the door, I saw something that looked a little like a zombie lizard awkwardly flying across the wall into a crevice near the toilet and I screamed. I took a closer look and realized that I either scared a frog, or caught him mid-leap, so the zombie lizard part was actually his incredibly white and slightly shiny belly diving into the relative safety of the point where the throne met the wall. Scared, relieved, and overjoyed to have found a frog, rarest of creatures, I laughed and laughed. He breathed at me from his retreat, and we stared at each other while I peed.

Thinking that was pretty fun and a nice story to tell Ben in the car, I went to sanitize my hands and got not sanitizer, but a palm-full of frog #2, who immediately ricocheted onto the door. I’m not a stable person in the best of times, and I had just eaten what, for us, is a shit-ton of carbs these days. So I screamed again, and then I laughed some more. Then I went to open the door and Frog 2 took this opportunity to hop into the door crevice where he clung desperately in the exact place he would need to cling if he really really wanted his head cut off by the closing door.


I laughed some more. I also realized at this point that I am maybe a little bit afraid of frogs. Not in a malicious way, but in the way that some white people are a little bit afraid of black people. It’s unfamiliarity paired with deep fascination and maybe a little bit of excitement. In my case with the frogs, it’s not the sexual kind.

“You have to move.” I told Frog 2 “The door is going to cut off your head.”

He refused to listen, so I waggled the door. Nothing.

I tried to gently remove him from the door, but I was a little nervous, and he meeped at me in this really frustrated way, so I let him go while he crawled even deeper into the crevice, making it so the door would bisect rather than decapitate him. Frogs are not great at spacial awareness. I’m not either. It’s only my greater size that gave me the perceptive advantage in this situation.

Meanwhile, I was deep into my third fit of giggles because his little meep had been so angst-ridden and adorable, and of course I’d screamed a third time because how can you not? I mean, this one was more like a yelp. A sympathetic human meep, if anything. But I still had this frog in deep danger and Ben was yelling because this is getting ridiculous and what the fuck am I doing in there?!

So I poked him in the knees until he was safely on the total other side of the door, which I am sure was not his preference because all the bugs were in the piss box and all the predators were on the outside, but sometimes a frog has to live with the consequences of his own tragic unwillingness to be moved by any other means. Also, he figured out how to get in there in the first place, he could probably do it again.

Then on the drive home a bee flew face-first into my iced tea ice, so I yelled “what the fuck” and immediately tossed all the ice out the window (I kept the cup: I may be high-strung but I will die before I become a litter bug). It was so ridiculously perfect that this one little bee flew directly into our window at highway speed, avoided all other targets, and wedged himself exactly in the center of my cup of ice. I was staring directly at his angry little butt and I knew that as soon as he dislodged, we were in for some trouble so I did what had to be done.

Ben, who was driving, understood absolutely nothing about this weird freak-out and I didn’t tell him for about five miles because I was too busy scream-laughing. Honestly the best kind of laughing, I do recommend.

So for about three solid minutes, our little blue car was racing down I-5 with all the windows open so adjacent cars could probably hear me positively howling and Ben yelling “WHAT NOW?!” and “WHAT IN THE FUCK?!” It upset the dog, but I couldn’t help myself.

She’s fine now. She’s pretty used to me being irredeemably strange. Ben is as well. Being with me is, I think, sometimes a little like dating a broken glitter cannon.

Disordered Eating and Paleo Eating

I tried to be articulate about this, but in the end I just wasted 500 words on bullshit that is completely irrelevant to my context and my purpose. I’ve been working on this post forever now, and it’s been insanely difficult because I’m still unpacking everything that’s been going on since April when I started this stupid “diet.”

I put diet in quotes because it’s really not a diet. It’s Ben and I changing the way we eat in a general way for the foreseeable future. Also diets are fucking stupid and no one should do them. Semantics aside, we’ve been avoiding carbs and sugar somewhat successfully since about April when Ben was encouraged to cut them out by our doctor and I tried to eat like him out of solidarity. As a result, I felt constantly sick, tired, foggy-headed, and grumpy.

There were multiple crying fits, one of which happened in the chip aisle of the grocery store. Finally, when I missed a deadline because I was too tired to think straight, I decided to give it up and go back to “normal” eating since that worked so well for me. That just happened to be the same day the doctor told me I should be on the same diet because of my family history of diabetes and my disproportionately high insulin levels.

So I doubled down on getting it right, not just for Ben but for myself, and I have felt extremely conflicted about it ever since. On the one hand, when I eat good balanced veggie and meat focused meals I feel physically well and energized in a way I’m not sure I have ever felt before. On the other hand, those days are rare and every other time I feel gross and angry and morally bad in a way I am all too familiar with.

The reason for my initial constant sickness was that I was severely under-eating. A portion that had enough calories in it before had nowhere near enough without any carbs or sugar. So I’ve had to think a lot about the calorie content in my food, and as a result I’ve started some sort of weird eating habits that remind me a lot of my disordered eating in the past. I eat things out of measuring cups again, I meticulously record everything that goes into my body, and I think about what to eat and what I’ve eaten constantly when not eating.

I can’t tell if this is triggering or affirming. All of this is to make sure I’m getting enough food, as opposed to the motivation behind my old habits, but it isn’t really that different. And at it’s core, anorexia and bulimia are about control, rather than limitation, so the idea that I’m trying to control my eating for the first time in 23-odd years is extremely present in my mind.

I tell myself that I won’t always be recording my food, but until I know what I should be eating, I need to have something other than my own extremely biased perspective to go on. This isn’t the first time I’ve recorded food since I started eating again. I recorded my meals for a couple of months while I was working at my old job and trying to figure out why I was so depressed and low-energy all day. It didn’t take long for me to realize that when you’re trapped in a dead-end cube job, you eat high fat high sugar shit just to stay sane, and since I wasn’t about to take my one refuge away, I stopped recording and decided to preserve my mental health in that negative environment.

So, why won’t I make the decision to preserve my mental health over my physical health once again? I might still, this is just something I’m doing right now. But right now is actually a pretty good time for me. I’m finally taking one day a week off work, I’m pretty steady with contracts and jobs, and I live somewhere I love and where I am happy. If there’s such a thing as peak mental health for me, this is it. Sad but true. I just got off two back to back stints throwing my mental health in the toilet for my businesses, I might as well keep the streak going by doing it for my physical well-being next.

But that isn’t something to take lightly. I feel like a failure every day. Something so basic and essential as feeding myself eludes me. Since June 4 when I started recording my food, I have eaten enough calories only four non-consecutive days. And that’s usually because I broke down and ate something full of sugar and carbs. Most days I barely break a third, and there is a really strong urge to watch that number get smaller instead of bigger. I’m hungry almost constantly and I seem to have two emotions: cold rage and Alzheimer’s. I think about food from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep and sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night because I am so damn hungry. If I don’t eat right or the right amount, I feel sick and it’s really difficult to convince myself to eat something once this starts to kick in.

One of the things people don’t say about anorexia is how great it feels. Several times over the last three months. I’ve been reminded about how amazingly narcotic the high is after you break the hunger barrier and are in complete control over your disgusting body. This is when the voice that says I should make the calorie counter go down gets very enticing. This is also when I can delude myself into thinking that I’m taking control of my destiny. These deprivation times are when the paleo diet really works for me.

Sure, having the energy to get all my work done and have happy satisfied clients and tour guests is objectively great, but it can’t compare to the sense of accomplishment that comes from simultaneously starving away any higher brain function of the sort that would remind a working person of her obligations as a service provider while also turning the ability to not eat a thing into the purest form of action.

If I do somehow manage, between work, the tour, and everything else in life to eat the right amount of calories from regular balanced meat and vegetable meals, then I have failed my anorexic voice. If I don’t eat enough calories or if I do but I fuck it up somehow, I am failing my doctor voice. I don’t want to call that voice a healthy voice because I don’t think it is. I don’t think I have a healthy voice at this point.

There’s no way to win and I’m not willing to give up. I know I feel awesome when I do manage to pull this off, and I know that it’s going to take time to learn and internalize. I’m trying to be patient with myself, but when I get so hungry and shaky and angry and stupid every day, it’s difficult to remember to also be objective and to stay cool. Being kind to myself has never been my strong suit, and it is wildly apparent in this context. I feel like I’m definitely skating an edge. Which one is up for debate.

The time my dentist thought Ben was abusing me

When we lived in LA, I went to a very nice dentist. She was a gentle, kind soul. The type of person who felt genuinely uncomfortable about how terrified I am of her.

So, when the children’s dentist (I’m pretty sure she elected the children’s dentist because she was the absolute least threatening person on staff), who looked about 12 years old, pulled me aside and started talking about the bruising on my neck, I admit, I felt a little shy. I told her my boyfriend did it, that I try to tell him to keep under my clothes line, but sometimes he gets carried away, you know how it is. And she just about died in front of me.

At first, I didn’t know why she was so upset. Then it finally dawned on me and I started laughing hysterically, which is probably the absolute wrong message to send. Then I had to try and explain that the bruises were hickies and not evidence of a choke-fest at casa Martinez.

The awkwardness was compounded by the fact that she either couldn’t understand me when I said “hickie” while cackling with laughter, or she wasn’t familiar with the term because then I had to explain the exact mechanical process of one person giving another person a love bite, up to and including the circumstances therein.

Then she was the embarrassed one. It was kind of adorable.

The Fear of Men

“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.

Three True Facts About the Public Library

I was talking to friend Charles today and our conversation reminded me about the nine horrible months I spent working at the public library. I don’t think I’ve ever written about how illuminating that was, so what follows are three real-ass facts about your local Library.

1. You can’t be kicked out. This is kind of the reason for everything that follows, but the library is public property. It belongs to everyone. Like the sidewalk. So, whatever you do to the library, the staff, or anything on the property is totally cool because they can’t legally keep you from coming back and doing it again. The exception being if the staff calls the cops and you’re crazy or stupid enough to hang around for 30 minutes doing a blatantly illegal thing while they walk over from the station, and then keep doing it once they get there and ask you to stop, you might spend the night in jail. But you can immediately return to the Library once you get out.

2. Everything is covered in cum. You want to know what people did before the Internet? They went to the library. For everything. Your local library is a publicly funded JO palace. So, you know, if you’ve ever spunked one all over The People’s copy of The Joy of Sex, comfort yourself in the knowledge that everyone has.

3. It’s a pedo paradise. Every children’s librarian I’ve ever met has their own story about a creeper they had to repeatedly chase away from the kids (see item number one). At the same time, desperate or terrible parents will frequently leave their children completely unattended at the library while they leave to do whatever it is they feel is more important than their children’s un-raped buttholes. There is usually only one librarian in the children’s section, even while there are dozens of children running around, screaming, and tearing the books off the shelves. It’s the perfect storm.

The public library was one of the worst places I’ve ever worked. Even worse than the semi-illegal print-shop where the 65 year old owner only employed teen girls and would draw us sexually explicit racist and homophobic comics because he thought it was hilarious. Because, despite the weird vibe, he never treated my like an idiot or talked down to me. The library was a miserable pit of repetitive actions, mind-numbing bureaucracy, and me having to go outside on my break and call my friends to tell me to go back inside.

Honestly, if it wasn’t for the fact that I found someone jerkin it in the stacks just about every day, it would have been so much worse.

Because Rich People Think Jail is Fun

This is one of those posts I’ll write but not publish for six months. Because, of course, none of this actually happened and it is totally, completely fiction.

This summer was kind of a shit storm. I had some major late and non-payers in July, and I was totally desperate; I went to some pretty unthinkable ends to make money. Ny which i mean that I signed up with a temp company, and I got a job doing telephone fund-raising for an extremely large, very popular non-profit.

The deal was this: we’d call local business leaders and pretend to arrest them, after which they would become our prisoners, and, if they agreed, raise bail from their friends and fellow business leaders in the community in order to cure the horrible, terrible disease we were so valiantly fighting.

Plus, a super-fun jail-themed lunch where the majority rich, majority white participants would laugh and joke and pretend like the prison industrial complex isn’t even a real thing. LOL!

Jail isn’t a fun charity lunch theme to the several hundred-thousand people incarcerated at this very second in America. Jail isn’t a adorable fund-raiser for the mothers that have to tell their children every fucking day not to provoke the police, not to invite their suspicion, and not to assume their own rightly-held presumption of innocence because of the color of their skin, the income of their household, or the expression of their gender. A fact that multiple irate people pointed out to me multiple times a day when I called them asking if they wanted to play jail for charity. Not all business owners are totally tone-deaf to the realities facing people of color.

Which, it seems, is a population that this particular extremely large, extremely popular non-profit were not interested in at all. I couldn’t help but notice the pictures of the charity cases they had all over the walls were 100% white. An experience that actually had me Googling the phrase “do black people get muscular dystrophy?” Which, it turns out they do. In fact, black patients tend not to live as long as white patients, possibly because of a lack of access for people of color . Go figure. I thought there were charities for that sort of thing.

I ended up getting fired after the first week for saying the F word. Because raising money from lacking-perspective rich people to help, what looks like exclusively white people, with a disease that seems to have disproportionately negative effects on black people isn’t nearly as satisfying if you’re also not allowed to curse. God fucking forbid.

Your bank was dumb, I’m glad I left


Five years ago, I switched to a credit union. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.

I was originally a Washington Mutual customer, and I loved it there. I frequently wondered what I’d ever do if WaMu folded since all my friends seemed to have such consistently horrible service from their banks. So when Chase took over, I wasn’t really surprised when it seemed like they were only into fucking every one of us with a huge, ungreased dog dick.

The last straw came when they changed their check deposit policy and didn’t tell me until after I’d deposited a check into my account. At the time, I had to pay my rent with a money order, and since the check hold went from no time to three days, they ensured that my rent would be late.

Looking back, what I should have done is payed the rent with a personal check, and hoped for the best. That apartment management company was so severely fucked, I bet they wouldn’t have noticed. Or they would have charged me for late payment, which is what happened anyway.

Instead, I tried to get the bank manager to fix it, seeing as how I had been a loyal customer for many years, hadn’t overdrawn in years, and never for long even when I had overdrawn as a teenager. The manager told me he’d fix everything the next day, shooed me out of his store and then refused to answer any of my calls when nothing was fixed when he said it would be. I called every hour. I was so pissed. I probably would have driven over to bitch him out in person, except that I took the train to work at that time, and by the time I got back to my branch, it would have been closed.

That was the day I took my lunch hour to go to the Chase next to my work and close my account. I then went to my work’s credit union, opened a checking account, applied for a signatory loan, and the rest is history.

People are nice to me at the credit union. After I paid off that signatory loan, they gave me a line of credit built into my account so I never overdraw. If I pay my car loan on time, they give me December off. When I was going into the bank regularly, they knew my name. I am extremely happy with my bank, and it’s all thanks to Chase. If they hadn’t been such unmitigated shit-bags, and delivered some of the worst customer service I’ve ever experienced (the manager was only the last in a long line of extremely unpleasant straws), I would never know what it is to be truly happy with my financial institution. Even my beloved WaMu (may she rest in peace) couldn’t have hoped to be so awesome.

So thank you, Chase, for sucking so very much. You receive zero stars.