06 December 2015

Bag of rocks

I am making a bag of rocks that need new homes. Rocks and an extra railroad spike. I don't know why I'm still carrying these heavy things around. I can let them go. I don't know where they're going yet. I'll know those places when I find them. If I'm going to do this, I should figure out the reason and the purpose.

I'm choosing the "Life is a Journey, Not a Destination" bag.

C always liked to pick up souvenirs. Everywhere we went, he'd ask if we could bring home a souvenir. He got kid in his voice when we talked about it. I don't remember where most of these rocks came from. Picked up in our travels and displayed on the altar, wherever it was. I need to put a more concerted effort into building my altar. I have a start, but I don't have a lot of intention.

There are other rocks in the kitchen, because the glass jar that used to be the meteorite jar is in the sink because I decided that if I am going to continue to have this thing, I might as well make it shine. The meteorite jar was a souvenir from one of our very first dates, exploring in Highland Park. It is a reminder that once, things were good. It's hard to look back on it now that I see it all as part of the trap.

These rocks need new homes. I feel like they should be returned to nature, or at least to the ground. To dirt, to concrete, to other rocks. I took them from their homes to put them in mine. I like this idea about moving rocks. They can't move by themselves, and yet they do. They travel so far for things that can't control their movement. And when they stop traveling, they tell long, long stories for anybody who knows how to look. I can aid them in traveling. In the process of releasing these heavy things that I no longer need to carry on my own journey, I can help them to continue theirs and have a journey where one might otherwise have stopped.

01 December 2015


One of the hardest things about the harrowing process this divorce has turned into is that I get really sick of looking at things related to it. Legal paperwork. Emails. Lists of names and phone numbers and dates. There is plenty left to do. I reach a limit. I can't look at it anymore. I just read a court order related to my car three times. I still don't know how much I can write on the Internet--you'd be amazed what else is readily available if you know where to look.

I am surviving. I am doing what I need to do. I am always ok.

Having a solid set of affirmations means more than anybody ever taught me.

I'm trying to keep Kate Bornstein's rule for life: You can do anything you need to do to stay alive, just don't be mean.

12 November 2015

Good news!

I got my car back yesterday!

Driving feels so good. That was the best trip through the Liberty Tubes ever. Window open, foot to the floor, screaming into the wind.

18 October 2015

Sunday Morning Affirmations

I make really good zucchini bread.

I had a good chat with my dad on the phone yesterday for his birthday.

I am taking the time I need to take care of myself. I am evaluating my habits, thoughts, and actions.

I am trying to remember that there is no such thing as "should."

I eat the food I have, and I am grateful for it.

I think about the future. I have several-year-distant plans for my career. This is important.

I am making friends and acknowledging my reluctance to trust. I am learning about boundaries: how to set them, how to enforce them, and how to respect other people's.

I am aware of the privilege that allows me my comfort. I pray for its obsolescence, and for my courage in giving up my privilege where I can to support the liberation of others.

11 October 2015


so, my car got stolen last week. that's all i'm going to say about it on the internet, because there are open investigations. i still don't have it.

i'm pretty sure i broke somebody's heart last night. she made the choice herself, and i am so proud of her for doing it. we both know that the best for her is better than what i can give her. it's time to be very real about that.

timing is everything.

i have felt angry about being so fucked up that when i finally met a good, honest person, i couldn't trust her. i survived a relationship that destroyed my ability or willingness to trust other people. there is still anger there, towards the person who put me through that, but i am also moving into acceptance of it as my fate. these are the consequences of the choices that i made, and some made by other people. these are the lessons i get to learn now. she helped me come so far towards trust, and i don't think she knows how important she's been to me. she makes safe places for me.

realizing in the moment of leaving that you love someone, and discovering the way that you love them. to love is to seek and foster the good of another. there is better for you than me. go find her.

30 September 2015

Freedom Day

Yesterday was Freedom Day. One year out. Halfway to divorce.

I keep feeling like I should write something, and finding no motivation to do it. I process this all the time. There's no reason for me to process it any more in-depth this week than I usually do.

Monday night was really hard. I started feeling all the feelings about it, and then feeling so much made me anxious. In a text message to someone who asked what kinds of feelings I was having, I used the word "traumatized," and it felt like the most honest thing I'd done all day. I need to remember that what happened to me was a trauma, and that I am recovering from trauma. That can take a very, very long time, and indeed forever. The anniversary of a trauma is likely to raise post-traumatic stress. Of course I was feeling all the feelings.

CBT works for me, because I was able to think about my feelings while I was having them and identify the reason for them. Having done that, I am able to move on.

"Congratulations on your new life," he said to me, apologizing because he hadn't made it out to celebrate last night. I was honored that so many people close to me--including a larger group of coworkers than I expected--recognize that this is something worth celebrating. This is the one-year anniversary of the day I chose myself over anyone else. The day I chose my right to happiness. The day I chose my right to freedom from abuse. I am pretty fucking amazing.

In this year of learning how to be alone, I have also learned how much I need other people. I am so grateful to each and every one of you in my support network. I truly could not have done it without you. Thank you to those who listened to me before I made the decision and immediately after. Thank you to the one and only person who ever said to me, "This sounds incredibly abusive." I needed to hear someone else say it before it became real. Thank you to the friend who came back to my house last night and listened to me talk for as long as I needed to. Thank you to the catalyst.

I am so lucky. I am free.

23 September 2015

My First LezFest

I spent Saturday into Sunday at the Ohio Lesbian Festival. I had never truly been in women's space before. What a transformative experience. 

I experienced radical welcome. Having had some concerns over the inclusivity of women's festivals, I was thrilled to see transfolk and gender non-conformists everywhere. Everyone was so genuinely happy to be together, whether they had camped together for 20 years or just met. Everyone offered support where they could, and everyone's needs were met.

The very first thing that happened to me at Lez Fest was an act of hospitality. We arrived at the gate, and the friendly women wearing bright orange vests directed us to a campsite. We parked in the unloading zone, started to set up the tent, and found that we had no tent poles. After diverting panic, we realized that sleeping in the back of my car might actually be more spacious, and planned to do so. I drove us back to the corner. "Here's the completely embarrassing thing that just happened to me," I said to Denise, the woman who had told us where we were likely to find a space. I proceeded to explain our situation, and asked her if she could point us towards car camping. She blinked once and replied, "I have an extra tent you can use." I was stunned. "Is this really happening?" I think I said out loud. Denise walked off and came back a minute later carrying a small tent that exactly meet our needs. We thanked her profusely, slept and nested in her tent, and returned it poorly folded before we left.

I experienced so much butch hospitality it melted my heart over and over. 

Festival Crushes
1) Elizabeth, the most important woman in the world, gave me my coffee on Sunday morning. I staggered down the roads from our campsite to the kitchen, grateful that everyone was aware we were all waking up and we had all probably had later nights than we are used to. All the women on the paths could tell who was at the nod level, who could manage "Good morning," and who wasn't even ready for eye contact yet. I reached the kitchen knowing that I could get what I needed with nothing more than, "Coffee please." Elizabeth reached for it and asked, "Room for cream?" I nodded. "Yes please." She overwhelmed me with the cream-ish selection, and I thought I had already said, "Half-and-half, please." I walked away to drink most of my coffee in solitude, took some next steps in my morning plan, and wandered back when I was ready to refill and get a cup for the friend I was preparing to wake up. We had a lovely conversation once I could combine more than two words at a time.

2) The blond-haired butch in the purple shirt who brought us zucchini bread.

Free the Nipple
I got to LezFest by way of a performance booking. (I've been doing burlesque lately.) I am so grateful for that opportunity, because I may never have gone to a lesbian festival otherwise. I found out the week before the festival that nudity requirements were a bit more relaxed than those where I live. So I performed without pasties on. This was very likely a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me, and I wasn't going to miss it. The public liberation of my body and its celebration by others has made such a positive influence on my life this year.

Mindfulness in my Body
Sunday morning, my friend wanted to go to a mindfulness meditation workshop. We parted and I did other things, then wandered her way. I joined the circle just as they stood up between segments of the workshop. Women opened the circle for me and created space in such a way that I felt welcomed and not disruptive. The woman leading the meditation had us focus on each part of our bodies from the feet up, first feeling the pressure where our feet met the earth and rocking back and forth to find center. When we sat back down, she helped us to find comfortable positions in which we felt centered and could support our breath. She spoke a lot about our low belly or deep belly. She described it as our "generative center," the seat of our creative energy and the center of our bodies. It was the most positively anyone has ever encouraged me to think of my belly, and I spent the rest of the festival and the weekend trying to physically center myself and honor my generative power. 

05 September 2015

evolving views on childbearing

I'm surrounded by pregnant women at work. I am fascinated, occasionally disgusted, and above all, deeply respectful. I honor the courage and the strength that it takes to use your body to bring a new life into the world.

Two women have accepted my hand on their bellies this year. The first was a peer, pregnant with her first child. I watched others touch her to feel her baby move for months before shyly asking, at the baby shower the day before she went on maternity leave, if I could feel the baby, because I hadn't yet. The baby fluttered just the tiniest bit. It was the first time I can remember feeling an infant before it was born. When I held her in my arms later, I sat in awe of this tiny life.

The second was a woman in her early forties who was pregnant with her third. At the impromptu cake send-off we had for her, she saw me standing in a corner, said, "You haven't felt her yet. Here," and placed both my hands on her belly. She then proceeded to shake it with her own hands to rouse the baby, who responded by squirming--not much, but definitely moving limbs. I have learned so much from her mother's openness.

In a way, I feel fortunate that I have frequent cause to consider my decisions about children. This way, I know that my choices are my own, and I feel confident in them. I used to be certain that I wanted to raise children, and now I'm not so sure. I have no interest in parenting alone. If I build a life with a partner who wants children, I am open to sharing parenthood. At this point, I feel no desire to carry and birth a baby. There are plenty of children in the world who need homes. I am committed to adopting rather than reproducing.

All things may change.


Sometimes I wonder if the cats remember him. If so, do they miss him? Do they understand?

30 August 2015

Confidence in cooking

Tonight I made myself broiled tilapia from the freezer, with a cucumber-tomato salad that I made up on the spot. I even put it on a slightly-nicer-than-routine plate in anticipation of photographing it to share on social media. Then I devoured it before taking the opportunity. I may know a thing or two about cooking, contrary to what I've been told.

My ex is a very good cook. I have to give him that. I spent four years in his kitchen, listening to him provide soundbite instructions and tidbits about how flavor works. I always wanted to help. When I offered, he suddenly became too involved in what he was doing to talk about it, and I couldn't intuit what needed to be done. The result was that he always cooked by himself. When we had a small kitchen, my habit was to "get out of the way."

Having admitted early on that I didn't know much about cooking, that truth became magnified over the course of our relationship. It grew from a lack of experience and basic knowledge to a complete inability to cook anything without disaster. The tiniest mistakes were used as evidence of my ineptitude. Rather than teach me, he chose to become the sole chef in our shared kitchen. My culinary efforts were limited to baking pies, which was a demonstrated skill. Once our roles were established, he berated me for not sharing enough of the household duties.

Tonight while I cooked, I reminded myself of little lessons I picked up. I drizzled the tilapia in olive oil and seasoned it with salt, black pepper, white pepper, and paprika. Always season your meat--and leave this simple so it doesn't clash with the vegetables. While that broiled, I sliced the cucumber and grape tomatoes as thin as I could, then added a tiny spoon of minced garlic and some diced white onion. There was no seasoning in the salad except salt, because salt is a flavor enhancer and it draws fluid out, which added juice to the salad and made it more dressing-like. When the cooking time suggested by the tilapia package passed, I checked the fish and found that it was not yet cooked in the middle, so I let it go. Even without a timer, I knew when the fish was thoroughly cooked.

I need to rebuild my confidence by doing the things he told me I couldn't do.  I can recognize and accept that some of the things I learned from him were positive. I know way more about cooking now than I did when we got together.

22 August 2015

Published ambivalence

Yesterday, I received an unexpected package. It was stamped MEDIA MAIL and had the unique shape and character of a single paperback book. I didn't recognize the mailing address--who do I know in New Mexico? Why are they sending me a book?

When I opened it, I found my copy of the anthology I was recently accepted to: writings by partners of trans* people. I submitted a piece that I wrote for a local trans* monologue event almost 2 years ago. Bittersweet pangs shot through my veins when I looked at the cover.

This is the first book that has ever contained my writing, and I didn't want it. I felt anger and disgust just holding it. My life has changed so much since I wrote that piece--even just since I revised my biography.  That relationship...I wish I could say it were over. What's truer is that we don't interact anymore, except in occasional wordless passive-aggression. I knew well before the final edits were made. I gave the editor this mailing address so many months ago I forgot the book was coming. I considered pulling the piece, and I chose not to. There is still truth in it: the truth of what I was experiencing at the time. Maybe some other young femme with a trans* partner will read those words and feel connected, like she is not alone in her experience. I want to share that truth.

I talked with my therapist recently (highly recommend therapy. Go, at least a couple times. You probably need it), and I said, "If you leave out the abusive sociopath part, it's a great story." She replied, "Or if you leave it in." That might be an even more important truth to tell. The truth is, LGBTQ folks are at higher risk of experiencing domestic abuse, and fewer of us talk about it. It would be nice if a young femme with a trans* partner felt better about her relationship after reading about mine. It could be lifesaving if a young queer person living with an abusive partner escaped their relationship after reading about mine.

I have a lot of writing to do.

13 August 2015

brief update:

it was time for some new colors.

12 August 2015

Good weather days

Today was a perfect weather day in Pittsburgh. Sunny, upper 70s, low humidity. I decided early on not to take those for granted. In college, that translated to a lot of time spent outside. I remember when S* and I used to read on Schenley Plaza and watch dads play with their kids.

The last few days have all been relatively good, for weather, and I have spent most of my time inside. By choice. The truth is, today was a perfect weather day, and while that made it pleasant for being outside, it also made it enjoyable to be in my living room. The afternoon sun streamed in the back window, with an occasional breeze blowing through. The thermostat peaked at 80 degrees (low, since June). I wanted to be in my home. I even wanted to be in my kitchen! (I made hummus with a potato masher. It wasn't bad, for my first go at making hummus! Now I know how easy it is and how I want to season it.) I did spend some time sitting out on the fire escape, wearing sunglasses and drinking a beer.

Even though I didn't spend much time outside,  I'm sure I didn't take this good weather day for granted. I enjoyed being in my home. I felt safe and comfortable in my nest. It feels good to be here. That is important time to have.

11 August 2015

returning to a softer world

I hadn't let A Softer World kick me in the gut in a long time.


there's an entire story here that begins in a Moe's restaurant in upstate new york in june of 2014
so many subplots with so many significant events and so many associated feelings.

10 August 2015

A Precious Human Life

Think every day as you wake up:
Today I am fortunate to have woken up.
I am alive. I have a precious human life
And I am not going to waste it.
I am going to use
All of my energies to develop myself,
To expand my heart out to others,
To achieve enlightenment for the benefit of all beings.
I am going to have kind thoughts towards others.
I am not going to get angry or think badly about others.
I am going to benefit others as much as I can.
--H.H. the XIVth Dalai Lama

This prayer hangs on the wall of the room where I stayed when I left.
I started praying it every day, and I keep the habit still.
The most thoughtful gift anyone has ever given me came from the woman I dated for four months who remembered that I mentioned it one time and found a copy of the scroll as a housewarming gift, so I could hang it on my own wall.

Its beginning has grabbed me differently these past two days.

Many days, using all of my energy to develop myself becomes a reminder to rest.
I cannot benefit others if I do not take care of myself.

Most days, when I reach the lines about kind thoughts, anger, bad thoughts, and benefit,
I think of specific people or situations.
If I am being good, it is early enough in the day that I can set those intentions for any interactions that may follow.

09 August 2015

disorganized overshare

I need my community today.

Not being on facebook, there's a lot that I miss. People assume that everyone sees everything, and I am very often forgotten. Yesterday, two different people--one of them my ex-husband, who does not communicate with me--sent text messages to inform me of a community member's passing.

I had not been close with this person over the last many months. I don't know if I would say that we were ever close, but we definitely had a relationship. The news of her death struck me, and I'm not sure yet how to respond.

Each death is different. All grief is the same, but each time we encounter grief we must experience it in the way appropriate to the situation. (Appropriate for each of us as individuals! I certainly don't mean to suggest that there are right or wrong ways to express grief.) This is the first time I've had to process a loss of this kind since my life turned over.

How do I talk about that, even? I mean, I'm going to need some specific, brief way to refer to the chain of events that comprised the year I was 27, still continues, and changed everything forever. My life collapsed. Now I am rebuilding it. I have a more solid foundation than I knew. 

I loved Nancy's energy. She brought such great enthusiasm to everything she did, and she had so many great ideas. She was truly dedicated to bettering our community using her skills and her resources. Nancy saw that everyone had a story, and she wanted to share queer and trans stories with as many people as she could.  I am honored that she filmed and published the piece I read at TransPride 2014. To even say that in the same paragraph feels selfish. 

Everything I experience is colored by the influence that he had on my life. I am frustrated by it now. Everywhere I go, something pops up that reminds me of him. I reached into a pocket of a bag I brought to my parents' house and found a pair of his leather cuffs. Everywhere I go, he is there. I am trying to remind myself that this is not because he still has control over me. It is because we spent four years of our life together. We built a history, and then we separated a household. Things shuffle and get lost and found in that process. 

Anyway, I don't want to become a person who takes death and makes it all about myself. There are others who were much closer to Nancy who are grieving harder than I am, and my role is to feel my own feelings while supporting those people in any way that I can. How do I make myself available to those people? Where are they? What can I do? Who can I feed?

08 August 2015

homecoming, number whichever

I'm trying to go to sleep, but sleep eludes me. My schedule has been all messed up over vacation. I slept for 12 hours a night, plus a nap most days. Then three hours the night before we left. I let Dad drive most of that trip.

My mind is racing, and I don't know where to direct it. I want to direct it to calm down, to go to sleep, because it's bedtime and we can do that right now. It disagrees. I went to sleep around 11:00 last night and woke up about 9:30 this morning, the last time. I am developing new motor patterns for this keyboard. It's smaller than most of the ones I have used, and some of the hotkeys/key combinations are different. Most of them are. There are fewer keys.

I need something I can tell to stop default capitalizing. I might not want capital letters right now.

I try to go to sleep and I start thinking about C, and work, and my students, and women…. Lately I've been thinking about more of C's stories and wondering how much was true. Some of them were plausible. The problem was that all of them were plausible, for far too long.

I'm sure there was plenty to process from vacation. I don't know that I'll want to take a trip like that again. It was kind of….stressful. And could have been at least 2 days shorter than it was. I worry sometimes that because my parents were, or always seemed to be, looking for ways to spend more time with their families on vacation, that they are hurt when I don't. or that they are hurt just because they're my parents and they love me.

I really do need to be here. I need to be on my own. Pittsburgh is where I've found home. I was so excited to come home today. My neighbor Sam said he heard me when I got in saying something about it, don't know if I was talking to the cats or the door or what. The best part about leaving Pittsburgh really is coming back. I drove all the way around the city today, even though I didn't have to. I wanted to see it, to see Downtown gleaming in the sunset from every angle. I came through right after the Pirates game started, so traffic was moving at mostly fun paces. I went around a curve over the North Shore and the smell of hotdogs filled my car. I turned my head and saw the boats in the river, hoping to catch a ball that got hit out of the park. The city smelled like baseball, and I loved it like new again.

I miss you, small but loyal blog circle. I've been quite out of the habit. Hopefully I'll have more for you soon, given the improved computer situation. I'm enjoying this little thing so far. I transcribed some voice notes I'd recorded into my phone a while back, so maybe some of that will turn into writing, and some scraps might make their way here. Remember that every time I say I should write about something, I don't.

I am rediscovering myself, and I have changed. It will be necessary for my sanity that I continue to sort out my thoughts this way.

On another note, at B's recommendation I am reading On the Move, Oliver Sacks's autobiography. I haven't finished it yet, and I am thoroughly enjoying it so far.

30 July 2015

Big day!

I just got myself a new computer. I haven't had one since September. I missed two-hand typing! Hopefully this will make for some positive changes in my writing/internet/home life. I'm extra excited because it's one of those nifty new(ish) flippy ones that you can position in 4 different ways and use as a tablet. This morning, I picked up my car after having its second bumper replaced in a year and a half of owning it. It looks so shiny and intact! I'm preparing to travel with my family of origin for the first time in years. I think we're taking my car. Should be an interesting trip! I'm excited to stare at a lake and do nothing for a few days. There are so many things I should be doing to get ready, but I'm just not interested in any of them. It's too damn hot in this top-floor apartment, so I prefer to hide in the one room that has air conditioning. I find myself smiling a lot lately. I truly enjoy my life. Ah, clicking keys feel so good!

28 May 2015


I'm starting to process my abuse and recovery in writing. This is a good sign. Not ready to share just yet. 8 months tomorrow since I left. My life is probably the best it's ever been. I know with certainty that I am loved.