Tuesday, March 30, 2010


All the time. I write like nobody's business and I can't speak.

Picture me, sitting across the table from a singing icon that I much admire (no, Mon, not her), and picture me struggling to say something with any level of coherence. That, folks, is the story of my life. When I am in the midst of my social anxiety, jokes sail right over my head. I miss the humor in certain comments. I say the stupidest things.  I am sure that half the world thinks I'm a blathering idiot because my brain and my mouth cannot function together.

And then I go home and say to myself "What the hell was that? What were you thinking?"

I am not exaggerating.

Put me in a room full of children or dogs. Sit me down in front of a Scrabble board. Put me in the company of a few people that I've known for years - it sometimes takes years for me to get to a level where I am comfortable - and you can catch the smallest glimpse of the inner me. Engage me in a one-to-one conversation, and you might get somewhere, as long as I am not incredibly nervous about something. And I can find the smallest things to be incredibly nervous about. I worry so much about sounding stupid that I end up sounding...stupid.

I am a great listener. And to cover up for my own insecurities, I ask very good questions. Because then the heat is off me, and focused on someone else.

So if you ever meet me face-to-face, please be kind. I really am rather intelligent, even if I can't put five coherent words together.

Maybe I should just take a notebook and pen with me everywhere I go and write everything down.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I'm checking in quickly after a busy weekend - a great weekend that involved a long drive, a house concert, meeting old and new friends, and some much-needed solitary writing time. I will share more when I am awake again - because right now, I think I'm typing in my sleep.

I hope everyone had as good a weekend as I did!

Monday, March 22, 2010

opinions wanted

Sooo...I'm heading into dating again after 12 years...any advice?

Not that there's an actual date on my horizon...well, not really, although I've been talking to a few people.

But my questions to all of you are about warning signs. And no, I am not trying to rationalize myself out of becoming involved with someone. Yes, I am aware that it's very easy for me to talk myself out of things, and I have tried to stay positive....I am positive, but something is troubling me about a particular contact....

What are some things that really creep you out? Not in a suggestive sense, but behaviours that might indicate that someone is being dishonest/hiding something/getting a bit too stalkerish for comfort?

If you share your summer plans with someone and they automatically assume that they're coming with you, is that not a bit....weird?

At the early conversation/IM stage should the focus be on having fun, while getting to know someone? Or am I being too...frivolous. Hey, just started this process and not ready to settle into a serious, long-term anything unless the absolute, right person came along, and even so, I'd want to keep things light until I knew where it was going. Right? Or am I in the wrong head space?

On the honesty thing: Is it possible for someone to have lived in MI for twelve years..without having ever heard about Michfest? I'm not talking about whether or not they went...whether they even knew about it. (She lives elsewhere now).  She's not a newly out person, either. As far as she's told me.

Sisters, am I just being paranoid? Or should I be running really fast in the other direction?

Friday, March 12, 2010


I accidentally went to my blogger dashboard instead of somewhere else, so I took it as a sign that I should update....

I have a new dog. I think he's going to stay. His arrival into our lives is a long story, which I will tell later, but he is (about) fifty pounds, some kind of shepherd/collie cross, eight months old and un-neutered (so far, but that will change). He is gentle, quiet, bouncy and silly all at once. He was house trained and knew some simple commands when he arrived, and this week we've been working really hard at leash training. It's coming. He's smart, but he listens, so it should be okay.

It's March Break for the kids next week, which means I get a bit of a break myself. Shorter days and more time to spend with Emily.

I'm working on my next post for Our Big Gayborhood. Have you dropped by yet? Read some of the essays and articles? It's an amazing site, where some of my favourite writers have gathered and pooled their talents.

While I'm lax about many things, my plans for the summer are all laid out. Michigan, how you call to me! I'll be there twice in the same month! I'm looking forward to music festivals, camping, and writing under the summer sun! Can't wait, really.

The snow is almost gone here, and the spring birds are slowly starting to return. I know I can't count winter out yet....but the longer days and warmer weather gives me so much hope!

My next post will have photos - of the new dog, of my neighbourhood in springtime, and the little things I love. But now I have to run off to work.....happy weekend everyone!

Friday, March 5, 2010

it wasn't supposed to be like this...

Wait a minute...be like what?

Depression is insidious. It winds itself around you almost before you realize what's going on. It wreaks havoc on your own perceptions of yourself, and the world around you. Hope is lost, there is no hope, there is no change, what the hell was the point of all this hard work when I'm still sitting here....I'm sure you understand.

I've resisted any kind of chemical remedy so far, beyond any natural substances within my reach - Valerian seems to work okay for the few days every month that it gets really bad.  But something is always hovering, just below the surface, waiting to grab at any slight failure, missed opportunity, unhappy moment and say, "See? And you thought things were getting better...." Some days I feel like I traded a sterile and comfortable existence for a life that's shorter on material goods, more independent and true to me, but much, much lonelier. In the low moments, it doesn't seem to matter that my former life partner spent all of his available spare time creating computer stuff in the basement, that we had nothing in common, that the corner of the world that I could call my own was very small, indeed.

Was I any less depressed, really? Probably not. It was just...different. I didn't allow myself to feel, because feelings were somehow...not okay. So I floated. Now I seem to vacillate between treading water and being pulled beneath the waves by whatever errant current is grabbing at my ankles. I'm not really moving forward, but at least I'm somewhere. And I'm still alive. But I would like to see land some day, would like to feel as though this journey somehow makes sense. So far, it's an elusive prospect.

And I could...if I had to...I could live out here indefinitely. The water's not cold. I do get fatigued, but I have enormous reserves of strength.

It's an isolated existence. Never alone completely - with kids you're never really alone, thank the goddess. But I haven't bumped into many other swimmers in this part of the ocean. Only wonderful virtual swimmers, who are the most marvelous support system imaginable. I am so grateful.

And I am so scared. There's nowhere to go when you're out here. It's a big ocean. And I'm out here, with my head above water, treading as fast as I can, but not really getting anywhere. While I can name any number of reasons why I can't move forward, I think my biggest challenges are fear and geography.

I don't know anyone in this city except my co-workers, my ex, my kids and my sister, and a few other people whom I am not close to. I traveled the streets and byways as a straight woman for eight years, I went to market and shopped in the grocery store, drank coffee and browsed for books then, just like I do now. I've never really felt as comfortable here as I should have, never really put down roots, and now it's worse. Coming out at 42 means that you don't grow into those familiar spots, and even when you find them - which I can't - you're surrounded by people who have been secure with their identity all their lives. And you get questions that are uncomfortable to answer - like how I know I'm a lesbian when....and what made me "change my mind" so late in life. As if I'm 80. As if there was some kind of choice I made, beyond deciding that I was going to live my truth.

Sometimes I feel like the freak I know I'm not. And I feel like I don't belong anywhere. The rational side of me knows, hopes that this is temporary, that I will carve out a place for myself in this community that's not completely isolating. But it's so very close to my childhood experience, a childhood that was composed of isolation, rejection and grief. Too close to the bone, too much for me to tolerate, especially when I am in such a fragile state.

I know that I can and will get through this. I don't think about an "end point" because once you've reached a point, a milestone, there's something else to reach for. But I'm drawing on that very same strength that pulled me through childhood, through my adolescence, through other moments of deep despair when I felt, really, as though there was nothing left. I can't leave as long as there's work left undone. I have children to raise. I have more words to write. If I can't find happiness, I can always find more work to do.

But there's always hope...and my hope can be found in the spaces between the notes. Here's a glimpse of the concert I saw last night, listening with joy, and tears, and everything else in between....David Francey is amazing. The first song reminds me so much of where I am right now - out at sea, not sure where I'm headed, but with lights burning brightly, hoping to find my way. The second song is another favourite.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

more on compliments

 (I know, I know, three posts in three days. What the heck is going on??)

Aneke got me thinking. I mentioned in a previous post that I have a lot of difficulty accepting compliments about my physical appearance. I've been thinking about this a lot lately - all the while enumerating my flaws and calculating all the ways in which I am simply not good enough. It's an anemia/depression thing. It will pass, as soon as this monthly cycle is over. (please send good thoughts that soon the cycles will be over permanently, because I've had all I can take in that department). I focus on the negative all the time. It is really hard for me to think positively about my appearance at all. And I know it's not healthy. And it's counter-productive to actually getting somewhere in the relationship department. And if it's really true that I create my reality, well I'm creating something I don't want. I know all that. But the doubts are still there.

When I went to Michfest last summer, what impacted me the most was the diversity - women, all kinds of women were there, all shapes and sizes and demeanours. And all of them, every single one of them, were incredibly, humanly beautiful. I fell in love about a dozen times - no, not really, but I was in awe. Here I was, in this big, incredible group of beautiful people. But even there, I couldn't let go of the notion that there was something wrong with me, that somehow I didn't fit.

As I posted before, at least there was one thing that I was complimented on at Fest. But I think what I really wanted was some kind of external validation. I am okay. I am normal. Someone finds me attractive.

I didn't get it. In fact, in all the months of profiles and online singles things I've had exactly one conversation with one person, who turned tail and ran when she figured out that I was a late-blooming lesbian. I've read and re-read the profiles, fine-tuned them, and then given up. I know how to write - I know how to create compelling words out of nothing. So I've quietly, once again, given up on that idea. I might try again, later. I might not.

So where does all the negative attitude and self-doubt come from? And why can't I fix it?

I've tried ignoring it. I've done the positive affirmations, both spoken and written. I've asked various deities for help. I've sought advice, and been given unsolicited opinions about what I might need to do, or change, or accept about myself, about my self-esteem...but until I can internally accept and love the person that I am, all the well-intentioned advice won't help. I love you all, but it's really hard for me to believe that "she" or anyone else is out there.

When I was a child, an adult that I trusted told me that I was beautiful and then proceeded to touch me inappropriately. He would tell me he loved me, and then refuse to let me go until I kissed him.

When I was a child, I was bullied by other kids, in and out of school. I was ostracized. I learned that the best way to defend myself was to become invisible. Some days, I still feel that way.

When I was a child, and overweight, my mother would try to encourage me to lose weight, but didn't really understand that criticism only undermines self-esteem. Later, she apologetically told me that she was following medical advice, and really didn't know what else to do. But every time I put food into my mouth, I was reminded that I was fat, and that I couldn't lose weight if I kept on eating. One infamous night, my father said to me "If you keep eating like that, you'll never get a date." I was fifteen. I cried all night. Now the weight is gone, but still there.
  (I can't link this post to my facebook, for obvious reasons. Those of you who are my facebook pals know that my dad is a regular, and off-key commenter of my status updates. He probably reads everything I post).

In my last relationship, there wasn't a lot of physical affection. I can't be critical of my ex - that's the way he is. He puts this distance between himself and other people, and dominates space without conscious thought. He doesn't think of himself as dominant at all, but all of our lives were centered around his dreams, his likes and dislikes, his needs. What little space I carved out for myself was precious. But at the same time, it was the kind of relationship in which I didn't have to think. I just floated along, not really content, but there - sort of. And complacent, except when there was an off-hand comment about the colours I chose to wear, or the way I did my makeup, or whatever. Like he was the expert, or something.

He did tell me he loved me. But I can't remember a time outside of our first year together that he told me I was beautiful. I didn't expect it. I probably wouldn't have reacted much differently than I do now - or would now, if someone were to tell me. Being beautiful opens yourself up to a world of hurt, remember.

Paradoxically, at the same time, I long to hear it. I crave those compliments. If I just, once, had that outside validation, would it make me feel better?

I don't know. The rational part of me understands that it needs to come from within. This post was not really intended to be a whine-fest about how no one loves me. That's not the way it is - and I recognize it. It's more a moment of catharsis - when I can clearly see how became a person who can't look in the mirror without cringing.

It wasn't my fault. It isn't my fault. I'm not seeing myself clearly. And realizing the source is the first step towards change.

But if you want to tell me I'm beautiful, go right ahead. I will practice being gracious. Sometimes I think that people really need to hear the words.

(and on that note, I've finally decided to change my profile thingy - because I can't hide from the world forever).

Monday, March 1, 2010

cover your ears

An open letter to my co-worker....

Dear M

I feel an apology is in order here. It's been a long week and I realize I am partially responsible. I've seen that familiar wince on your face a few times since I started my new project with the kids, and I know you are being as patient as you can be, Please bear with me, with all of us.

You see, I honestly forget that there are people who think of music and singing as noise. I've never been one of those people. I sang all the time when I was little, heck, I sing all the time now. Music is this huge part of my life, and without it, without the words and music and instruments and songs I love, I would probably lose my mind.

My mom doesn't get music either. She certainly doesn't understand why anyone would want to learn an instrument. She's as tone deaf as they come - when I was in high school and practicing diligently at the piano she would walk into the living room and start talking away to me...and I would keep going until she looked at me with an irritated little frown and said "Please, could you just stop that for a few minutes?"

But it's been a couple of decades since I've lived at home, and I've spent most of that time singing and playing to my heart's content.

I was a little bit shocked the other day when you told me that you didn't like singing. Who doesn't like singing?(my BIL exempted because he has synaesthesia, and sees colours when music is playing). You said, "Some people are singing people, and some people aren't. You're a singing person, and I'm not." I was shocked, but it all suddenly made sense...the sidelong glances you give me when I spontaneously burst into song while standing at the top of the snow hill, while the kids are busy digging forts and sledding. I don't need a reason to sing. I don't need a special occasion. My instrument is always present.

I sing less that I've ever done on the job. I long to go back to toddler care, where I can sing all day long and the little people just fall over themselves with joy whenever they hear a song.

So I have a very tiny bit of regret when I think about what I've unleashed upon you in the past week. I've been scheming for a long time, trying to find ways to bring more music into the program, We have talented kids, who have parents who pay for hockey and soccer, but who have less time, and less money for private music lessons. And any music taught in school is abysmal at best.

So I went out and bought a dozen of these

and started a music club at the after-school program. It has been a roaring success - I've had to buy more recorders, and the book room is filled with the sounds of diligent practice.

I've done this before. Twice before, in fact, I've volunteered my time in school to teach recorder to young kids who had no other musical education or exposure. It was an amazing success....and it will be this time as well. Trust me.

Of course, on the first day, I only taught them two notes and a basic rhythm. It does get a bit much, even for me.

But their faces! I love to watch them when they sit down to play, and I love knowing that they are learning so much, all because of a cheap instrument that I picked up at the dollar store. They play a bit sharp, but there are tonal differences, and for now, that's all that matters. It's accessible for everyone.

I promise that tomorrow I will teach them a  third note, and a song. It will open up a whole new world for them. I understand that it's been hard on you, and I thank you for not being negative about my pet project.

But I'm not sorry. Just cover your ears for now, and they'll all sound like pros within a month!