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The future

I’m doing something tonight that I’m not sure is a good idea. It’s been over 20 years since I’ve attempted to go to school. I’ve always been pretty phobic of it but certain events in my life are precipitating the need for self improvement. My job officially ends when my department gets shut down at the end of March. I’m looking for a new job but am also considering my future as a person over 40 and the potential opportunities this may offer. Since I was 13 I’ve never not had a job or been actively looking for work. The longest I’ve been unemployed over the least decade was 9 months after being laid off a in January of 2011. I worked when I was in high school and at 17 was trying to both finish high school from the floor of the friends house in which I was living, in addition to working 30 hours a week.

When I finally graduated a semester after everyone else in my class I made an attempt to go to the local community college. I was working then also, about 56 hours a week and paying everything out of pocket. Suffice to say that it didn’t go well.

I often wish I could have high school at least to do over again in a more stable environment. That whole period in my life was pretty bad and left me with a severe phobia of being a student in general and a terribly low self image, but here I am decades later trying again. I’m not going to set a goal or have expectations. A big part of me expects to fail but another chunk craves desperately to succeed. The logical part of my brain wants nothing to do with either set of emotional responses.

Needless to say that this is terrifying. That doing this while either looking for work or working even more so. Again, I’m not sure this is a good idea. I guess I’ll find out soon either way.

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But not a real red dress. That’s cruel.

I should tag everything under “Emotional outbursts” since they always tend to be.

Anyway, it’s a new year! This should be a good thing right? It’s not started off the greatest but I suppose it could have been worse.

To start with, in the first week of January I went to the er for the crazies. My partner and I haven’t been doing great with money lately. Mainly she took a temporary pay cut in December, and we basically tried to quit getting payday loans cold turkey. The resulting stress and the lackluster holiday cheer were too much and I had yet another mental break. Luckily I was lucid enough to call my therapist during all of it and she talked me through it and got me to the ER just in case.

The Er people were very nice and gave me the BEST medication. Now I’m not a user of recreational mind altering substances. I’m too paranoid about side effects and too worried about addiction to ever be comfortable taking drugs for the fun of it. The pills the ER doc prescribed, however, are fan-damn-tastic.

Vistoral, for all your crazy pill needs.

The stuff knocks me on my ass, let me tell you. It’s like taking a benadryl with a valium chaser and the stuff acts fast. The first night with them, I did a controlled test so as to gauge the medications effect in a safe space. They took about four minutes to start working. The best part is that I’m still coherent mentally, I just turn to a great big pile of useless jelly. They are an antihistamine too so they tale care of my breathing too.
It’s a really comforting feeling, having them because, frankly, I’m so bloody sick to death of being at the mercy of PTSD, anxiety and panic attacks, it’s ridiculous. I had already planned to ask my MD for something like it, the next time I saw her.

Anywho, speaking of anxiety. I got my red dress a few days ago. I haven’t worn it out yet. Mainly because I need a new pair of stockings. I recently bought an amazing pair at a place called What Katie Did but ended up putting a thumb through one while trying to rush taking them off.
But I digress. The red dress is something I’m not sure I’ve talked about before but was the idea of a personal hero of mine, Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess. She started a thing called “The traveling red dress” and you can find the blog post about it here. Suffice to say is The red dress is a symbol of who I want to be, and I will wear it out in public. Now if only someone would let me go blonde.

Memories of the smiles we left behind.

I am posting this because I need to so if it makes no sense and goes nowhere, I apologize.

So this morning started with a bang. If you have ptsd you might suffer from flashbacks of traumatic experiences. I’m honestly not sure Wether I have PTSD or an anxiety disorder or something else entirely, but this morning I had flashbacks. I’ve no idea how it started but I found myself in the shower thinking about my 1st job. My Stepmonster Glenn drug me to his job which was as a golf pro of a posh golf course in mid Missouri right along side of the Meremev River. I did’t want to go but I was 13, and both the stepmonster and mother were sick of all those pesky wants and needs I was having. (One of my mothers two favorite sayings from age 10 on up was “Get a job!”. The other mostly inappropriate one was “eat a bananna!”. You can see how it wasn’t appropriate in this instance, but regardless of the situation you still had a 50/50 shot of getting hit with one or the other in any given situation, always followed by a dramatic roll of the eyes and a gutteral “Augh” in her St Louicagowaukeean accent. )
anyway at this terrible summer job, I was indentured, unlike most other thirteen year olds, onto becoming a “assistant-assistant greenskeeper and cartgirl”. Fyi it is not smart to
Give a 13 year old of any gender free reign over golf carts. It only ends badly no matter what. However, my primary duties were to use a pocket knife, and spend eight hours a day, cutting weeds out from the greens. I was also forced into taking golf lessons. I am not nor have I ever been truly interested in golf.

For four months that year, three days a week and 8-10 hours a shift I worked until winter when the park closed. The following spring I refused to go back. My next job was when I was 15 and was bussing tables at a fancy italian restaurant. I could gave stuck with that one had it not closed down 11 months after I began.
My point in talking about my jobs is that this line of remembering led me to this morning. At the age of 16 I was in high school, essential a junior. My parents had not set a time I was to be home but I hadn’t discussed a ride home or set that up and so after 10pm when We were at my friends and none of them was able to give me a life, my stepfather and I proceeded to have a rather knock down drag out argument, in which I played the “you aren’t me father” routine. Eventually I was able to get a ride from a my friend’s mother so was able to make it, and during the ride I reflected what Glenn and I had thought about and had come to thr conclusion that he was rightand he was due a sincere apology. Sadly that wasn’t what he wanted. In his eyes I had commited the most heinous of offenses. I’d spent the car ride forming my apology, complete with a prepared pleading and sobbing jag attached. All I managed to get out was his name however before, upon opening the front door into the house, he put his arm around my waist and said “I think we need to step outside” after which he led me onto the front porch and proceeded to punch me several times in the face. Imagine a 60 year old former army drill seargent/WWII/Korea vetran punching a much smaller, thin, bookish, girly-girl in the face several times then walking inside and slamming the door leaving them on the front porch to “Think about what you did”. I dud what anyone in my situation should have done. I left and for the next six months during the school year lived with my friend David and his family. Davids mother and father cared for me a great deal after what happened. I managed to go through and finish out the school semester despite this and eventually moved back home, only to have the same thing happen in the following school year. Only this time it was about my first car breaking down and me not knowing what to do about it. I actually finished high school while living on the floor of another of my friend’s bedrooms.

This morning that all came back to me in clear detail while standing in the shower, only what occurred to me was that, my mother the drunk and my sister “The Great One” were no where to be found during that time. I did talk to my mother during that time even to ask her about help with college, which unfortunately was instantly crushed when the school Representative I’d had come see me, quoted the moderate price tag of going to that particular school in the range of $25k, at with my mother screamed when it was mentioned and promptly kicked him out.
My sister at the time was off at school working on her own alcoholism, until she wrapped her car around a tree and decided journalism was a better idea. Either way it occurred to me that she in particular had never known what happened then or that I’d even graduated.

I say this because my sister has, for years now thought I was some sort of overly dramatic lunatic, always on about being theatrical or making poor decisions. When I told her I had been in the hospital under psychiatric care, she made a comment that I shouldn’t have made a commitment to my partner then. Yet when I came out to my family as gay as well as questioning my gender she was surprisingly ok with it albeit not overtly supportive. I fully expect her to chalk it up to more self indulgent theatrics. I suppose being a terrible and practically unteachable student in schools made her think I just wasn’t all that bright, and who am I to argue. I did attempt and failed to go to college and pay my own way but I was also working full time. I crashed and burned so utterly that for years I even refused to think about going back and trying again until I started to regret not having gone.

I know this post is disjointed and pointless but I just needed to put this out there, regardless if anyone sees. I spent both this morning and part of this afternoon reliving bad memories triggered by god knows what. I needed to logic them out and I have.

Kate.

My blues

So today I’ve got the blues. As a friend of mine recently posted in her blog, everybody gets them.
What’s the difference between the blues and a full blown breakdown? I’m currently not just depressed or suicidal, I’m also manic and constantly on the verge of tears. I think I’m watching a 10 year relationship fall apart. Watching as slowly bitterness is replacing tenderness and tempers are getting shorter and shorter. I know that I’m high maintenance. I try not to be but I have my shit moods and everyone around me be damned if they sneeze wrong. It feels like 7 years of therapy was wasted. I’m still a basket case. I can no more stand myself right now than I could right after the rape. I can’t even make eye contact with my spouse. She doesn’t deserve this. It’s impossible to see life beyond her. I think she’s as stressed by me as I am in general. She possibly feels like she has to constantly walk on eggshells. Heaven forbid she empathize or learn how to really comfort someone. It’s not her fault. I can’t blame her for putting up emotional distance. It is a lot to ask of anyone to have to deal with the things she has to deal with in me. Compulsive spending, anxiety, the smartass bitterness, the depression and fear that someday she’s going to come home and find my body. I should readmit myself. I feel worse than I did before the last time. This time though I’m not feeling a safety net below. But I still wanna fly. Everyone goes through moments when they feel like this right? They live through it right? This is just a speed bump on the road of life after all. I’ll make it through. Somehow. I hope.

Common threads

So It’s June, I went to what I consider to be my very first real pride event here in Olympia this year. It’s been a weird year and it’s already half over. I say weird because it seems like it went from moving so slowly and stagnating overall to moving with lightning speed. I’m doing my best to roll with the changes and opportunities that are flying at me but it’s been a real challenge. I’m also finding myself with an almost desperate mentality lately that I don’t completely understand, but I think is probably something that happens to people in my situation. To start with, I’m 40 and very soon to be 41. I’m a late bloomer. I tend to learn all of my lessons late in life and more often than not the hard way. That being said I also came out to my family in March, and even did a preemptive legal name change. Since then it’s sort of been a rapidly growing waterfall of events and new emotions and my mind just really is barely keeping up.

What’s happening is that I’m suffering through something that I suspect is fairly common but I have no guide that I can follow so am a little anxious. I’m finding myself becoming obsessed with finding “like minded people”. I’m not even exactly sure what that is. I joined a group I’d been considering joining since I was a teenager, The Society for Creative Anachronism. I’m a super nerd. I do super nerd things. For years this seemed right up my proverbial alley. The feeling I’m getting, while a great place, full of wonderful and diverse people, is that this is not what I’m looking for right now. Mind you I’m not saying I don’t like the SCA, just that I thought joining it would fill a particular need I’m having right now and it’s not.

Then June came along, and Pride happened. I’ve had people say that Pride was a life changing experience and that everyone remembers their first. I’d been to a pride event when I lived in Columbia, Missouri. It was a small festival and I spent about an hour going from tent to tent talking to mostly older folks. The crowd was small but the event did give me courage to do some things after like volunteer in some charity work, most of which was done online. I thought I was making progress and moving forward. Earlier that year I’d come out to my closest friends and the religions and social group I was spending most of my time and energy on immediately rejected me, which in the following months had turned me, more or less, into a shut in until the move to Olympia. That’s in the past.

The point I’m trying to get to is, I feel like suddenly I need to just really be OUT now. Not only that, but that I need to network and to find people who are like me. I need some friends. And I feel like putting a “DAMN” in front of it. But I won’t. I’m new at this. I don’t even remember how to make friends, honestly. Thinking about trying just makes me wonder how I ever had any. It’s got me at a loss. I want to run when all I can really do thanks to waiting so long is move at a snail’s pace and it’s maddening. How do people meet one another, especially people in the gay community? I’m both Terrified and impatient to really start my life which at 40 seems to be much harder than I would have thought. In addition to that are some extremely important opportunities that have come my way. I’m taking them even though there seems to be a lot going on. I might even get to live a dream or two. Either way I’m tired of waiting. I want to live life at a run.

Writings and stuff

So growing up I read a lot. Books kept me safe and secure as I’ve mentioned before somewhere. I was picking up a new book every two days from Sherlock Holmes to Elric of Melnibone. Spellsingers, Elfstones, Hobbits and Heinlein all got devoured insatiably. It’s only natural that in reading so much that I began to create my own stories.
I used to write mostly fantasy and humor stories and on a few occasions a teacher or someone would remark that I have at least a minor talent in writing and would then suggest that whatever story they we’re on about be published somehow or in something, which I would usually awkwardly decline on the grounds that I was “too cool” or humble to be the center of any form of positive attention. In reality I was just scared.
I was terrified to succeed or be good at something because if I did somehow I would sell out on being me or worse, that my mother and stepmonster would decide that I should be required to do everything well all the time. I’m not sure why I gave in to such obvious irrationality but in my defense I didn’t have the most stable of home lives.
As I grew up and older I began to run out of excuses to write. I even stopped reading for a while though I still enjoyed it. I decided to claim that I’d given up trying when in actuality there was little more I’d wanted to do. I would quietly dream of a day when I could aspire to become a novelist. I played role-playing games where I would Be the game master and over time that became my outlet in which to tell the stories in my head.
I was a pretty decent game master even If sometimes the rules got thrown out the window and over the years my tastes became more and more refined. I grew out of the need for escapist fantasy and started considering more realistic gaming scenarios.
My group was forced to do more and more modern settings as I firmly placed my players in modern places and settings as well as things from my real life that were inspiring me came more and more to influence my gaming style. My games became less and less game-like and more and more story-like and more and more realistic with elements of speculative fiction and urban fantasy all thrown together.
I wasn’t reading a whole lot at the time. Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time and Stephen King’s Dark tower series composed of the majority of reading I did over a period of a decade or so. I still felt like I could not write but what I didn’t see until recently was that I was writing, even though I was blissfully unaware that I was doing so. My muse never left and if anything she fought tooth and nail to get out.
Fast forward to about two years ago when I arrived here in the Pacific Northwest. Moving from where I had, which had been at most a depressing little town in a fairly oppressive and slightly dingy state in the Midwest was almost a religious experience. It was as though my muse found her home; a place where authors and artists tend to grow on trees and everyone seems to be sprouting guitars on their backs and solely supporting the manufacturers of tattoo ink.
The atmosphere, the culture and the sheer beauty of the landscape surrounding with its fantasy rain forests and beckoning mountains, for some inexplicable reason, we’re enough to make me. Feel like I could think clearly and express myself for possibly the very first time in my life.
Now jump ahead another two years. I’m averaging 5 books a week and finding new authors whose characters I’m falling in love with almost daily. I’m beginning to network, to explore avenues for a future and most importantly to write. I’m really writing. In the past six months or so, I’ve had more story ideas poured into my head than ever before. I also realize that the dream I had when I was young is still there. Even more so now that dream and the desire to succeed have me more motivated than I’ve ever been. I’m still skeptical of and intimidated by success but I’m not shying away from it. If anything I’m running towards it.
I have to thank the location I’m in, and the books I’m reading for this new drive. I also have to thank social media, as scary as that sounds. I have begun to follow and in some cases even interact with, some of the most inspiring and knowledgeable people through these venues.
Singers, artists and writers from all over, and through social media have been especially inspiring and encouraging. I’ve been able to get some incredible wisdom from some people as well as writing advice and information regarding the state of novel-writing today. They are why I’m writing this blog, and how I’ve found out about things like Clarion West.
Clarion West is a non-profit group that has been dedicated for almost thirty years to helping writers in genres such as sci-fi, fantasy and speculative fiction, who are just starting out, a push. I’ve recently signed up for their 9th annual write-a-thon.
Unlike their normal workshop this is an annual charity event they hold where two hundred established and/or aspiring writers work towards goals they set for themselves and mark their progress on a web page where support can be given in the form of charitable contributions on the website.
I’ve had the premise of a novel bouncing around my head lately and think this is the perfect next step in moving forward in achieving a dream that’s been with me almost my whole life and that I’m only now beginning to make happen. I’m not there yet. I still have writing to do. But I’m hopeful. I know I can do it too.

Kate.

How books can save the world.

So I don’t consider myself the brightest bulb. I’m not pretty or charismatic or even especially selfless. I’m most certainly not religious or even especially spiritual. I’m the kind of person who used to get bullied a lot, mostly by family members, by peer groups, and by the religion I was raised in. I was even a proverbial black sheep. A weirdo who no one understood and who shied away from the world rather than live in it.
When I was a pre teen I found my way into books, mostly fantasy or science fiction. I loved books from Lloyd Alexander and Terry Brooks among others, and they helped me through the tough times into eventual adulthood.

Nowadays, as a 40 year old adult, I’m still a black sheep. I manage to live in the world more now but still read quite a lot of different types of books. I can estimate about 5 books a week or so and live with someone who also enjoys reading.
Thinking about this, how scared I was of the world when I was young and what I did to hide from it’s dangers has me thinking, today, about my life in this time. Looking back I feel like I should have interacted with the world more and not been so timid. It was hardly a scary place looking back, and full of missed opportunities.
Looking forward is another story. Looking forward is a nightmare that seems to be straight out of my childhood. I’m still the bullied, only now I share the position with many others. My family and I have reconciled but the religion in which I was raised and some of my peers still push people around, only now through politics or personal religious views. The difference between then and now is striking. Everything I look back on and see as insignificant now seems to be real and menacing. Things happening to the bullied minority elsewhere now impacts all of us. Religious and social bullying is rampant. Violence and intolerance are more prevalent than ever. The world seems to be devouring itself as it’s people work to do the same. Now, though, I’m using the books I used to hide in, to inspire action. Lately many of the books in my library have done the opposite of what they used to do and have set my feet in motion and have given me the desire and in some cases the abilities to stand up and make changes in my life and the lives of the people I care for. I can see the war of the bullied vs the bullies, only now I feel that I can stand up and matter for my side. I can be strong and create a future of my own choosing despite how terrifying the world has become. If anything those books imparted a need to make things better for myself and the others like me. It’s imparted a need to matter. Despite the best efforts of the bullied to tear us down, we do have the strength and means to stand up to them and to not be bullied anymore. It takes thought and effort and not a small amount of imagination. Things we’ve learned from the books that kept us safe once, we now realize have given us the tools to affect the change that is needed to matter and make things better for each of us.

Keep reading. keep fighting. We will matter. We do matter. It will get better because we will make it so.