Category Archives: community

Nine to Five

I’ve always loved the song “9 to 5”. Even before I saw the movie and before I starting seeing the world through a liberal feminist lens (yes there are conservative women who also label themselves feminists. I don’t get it either). I’ve loved the movie, too. Dolly Parton is my favorite, there, but I identify more with Lily Tomlin. Jane Fonda’s character reminds me greatly of one of my associates….

Anyhow, lets bring this back around.

This week, I returned to work.

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I think they missed me a little

I posted this pic on Twitter and someone asked if I work in a broom closet.

A broom closet would be luxurious compared to our combined janitor closet/storage room/loading dock/breakroom/manager’s office I think. But it’s home. I shan’t complain too much.

Unless a big earthquake hits. Because I know those plywood shelves are coming down, and bringing heavy mannequins and boxes of hangers with them…

Let’s not think about that.

Just for reference, I work in what is often called in polite company a somewhat rundown neighborhood. Frequently, people who visit from other stores hear our neighborhood is a little out there, but don’t get the full impact of it until they actually work a full shift and enjoy some of our local color…

Arriving at work early for my shift Monday, I stopped at Starbucks to do some writing and ease into my day.

There was a crazy guy lifting up garbage can lids and screaming at the contents of the bins.

“It’s good to be back,” I thought as I sipped my Americano.

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One of my associates bought me this as a welcome back treat… I have such a great team.

I think someone put out the word that I was back. Nearly every one of my regular customers came in and gave me a big hug.

I’ve laughed and smiled so much, my face hurt by the end of my shift Saturday.

One of my associates said “Chief,” she calls me Chief. It’s adorable. “Chief, it was so good to walk into the store today and hear your laugh. I’ve missed you so!”

Another said, “When I called for my schedule, I was so happy to hear you answer the phone.”

The one who bought me the fruit cup said it was good to see my car back in its usual spot.

And my store manager is ecstatic to have me back. The rest of the team said she was practically in mourning the past 2 months.

It’s so good to be back to  myself again. I love my customers and my store and my associates and the challenges of a retail management job. I love feeling productive and creating a shop where all women of size feel beautiful and comfortable shopping.

And I’m not saying this week hasn’t been rough. My body hurts. A lot. And even though I give the speech several times a year about how “if you’ve been out of the business for any length of time, it takes a few weeks for your body to adjust. retail is a physically strenuous job and blah blah blah…” I still had to have someone tell me the same thing when I got frustrated that everything hurt by mid week and all I wanted to do was sleep. My schedule changed twice in five days and I worked one unplanned open-to-close shift. Someone yelled at me because our racks were too full and it hurt her arms to look through all the clothing.

In other words, I’m back.

And it’s so good.

 

 

 

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Good enough, I guess

There is something supremely strange about being called a great parent when I feel so clueless, like I am barely scraping by on the best of days.

“You’re a great mom,” Jason texted to me after I told him about adventuring to Powell’s Books with our kids and our son’s girlfriend.

“You’re a terrific momma,” my coworker says after I talk about a day off spent reading and playing board games.

“You’re doing good job, mom,” when someone else hears about my son’s good grades.

And I don’t see it. I see a mostly ok mom with mental and physical illnesses. One who can barely get off the couch some days and who hides in bed with her stuffed animals instead of interacting with the world. I see a mom who has two husbands and other sexual partners and a social life that purposefully excludes my children, sometimes.

I see a mom who is heavily tattooed and is beginning to seriously rock the “aging Portland dyke” aesthetic. Who has taught her kids to swear and make pervy sex jokes and feeds them doughnuts for lunch on days off. I see a mom who would rather day drink than chaperone any field trip, ever, and can only occasionally remember the names of her kids’ teachers. I shelve my lesbian comic books next to their Manga in the living room, and I allow them to read pretty much anything they want. My young daughter is obsessed with Deadpool and wants to be Glamora when she grows up.

And I’ve been judged for a number of things. My kids swear and know about sex and drugs. They listen to Irish punk music and hardcore gansta rap in the car with me. We have deep conversations about atheism and other forms of belief, and I’ve told them it’s ok to not believe in a god, unless gramma asks. If she asks, they believe in Christianity and so do I. I’ve been in front with them about my mental illnesses and how I have to take prescription drugs to make my head work correctly and how I had my tubes tied because I had rough pregnancies and couldn’t bear the thought of having another child. I make jokes about the kink lifestyle in front of them. I lean on them a lot. They do a lot of the chores around the house, since all the adults work full time and my mother is an invalid and needs a lot of help. I get judged for working, for not volunteering at the school, for being home too much, for being home too little, for having kids, for not having kids… the list goes on and on.

But my son is the kind of guy who, in front of a half-dozen gamer teen boys, tells his girlfriend he loves her. He’ll hug me in public, and bring me peanut butter cups on my couch nest days. My daughter will fight anyone who says her life is unnatural and goes on long rants about sexism and why don’t girls’ pants have pockets. They both value nature and bring home good enough grades, and apparently both add “a unique perspective to any class discussion.”

So, maybe I’m doing ok. I still don’t feel like a good mom. But maybe, I’m good enough.


Update on the kids

The second-most popular question we get as a poly household is “How do the kids deal with all of it?”

The first is “Who sleeps where?” which baffles us. We all sleep in beds. The rest is none of your business. Sometimes, I sleep on the couch. Anyhow…

The kids
They’re fine.

I know I’ve updated about them before, and I’m honestly not interested in talking about them much, because I feel like they don’t need to have their life splashed across my blog before they are old enough to tell me if it’s ok or not. But, parenting as a poly couple, which has evolved into a pod of four adults, is a big part of our life here.

And, actually, I’m kind of surprised at how fine they are.

We just celebrated our son’s 15th birthday. He planned the whole thing. He wanted to play Laser Tag at a nearby arcade. He wanted about 10 of his friends there, plus his girlfriend, and he wanted his best friend since forever to spend the night. He asked his grandparents if his little sister could spend the night at their house so he and his friend could have time to themselves. And then he presented this as a whole package, all we had to do was reserve the party room and pay.

On Saturday, I got to meet eight of the most polite young men I’ve ever encountered. They brought Steam gift cards, Mountain Dew, and Doritos, and talked about running Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. They flirted with the cute girl working concessions, and helped clean up the empty popcorn boxes and soda cups at the end of the afternoon. They thanked us for the day, shook our hands, and wandered off with parents who looked just as baffled as I felt. Baffled that these teeny babies that we carried under our hearts for nearly a year should be growing beards, buying cars, kissing girls, and getting jobs.

My daughter is now ten. This morning she asked me what a feminist was, and upon getting the answer, proudly declared herself to be one. She’s writing a book with a friend of hers, has a wild imagination, and is worried about starting her period at school or on a camping trip. She’s a beautiful and fierce little dragon, and I’m so proud of her.

There’s a security that they have, that I really envy. When I was 10, I was dealing with the first stirrings of depression and anxiety disorder. When I was 15, my father got sick. My folks always fought, and home was someplace I tried desperately not to be, at least until my anxiety paralyzed me in the 8th grade, and I couldn’t leave for a year.

They still have a safety net. Jas and I, of course. And Jason’s partner, who lives with us now. She plays video games with them and buys pizza on nights when the other adults work. They miss my other husband, N, who is in Japan for another few months, and they’re eagerly planning for when he comes back home. Because of our life, their experiences have been richer, I feel, and more varied than they would have been if we were a traditional couple. And the logistics of it doesn’t phase them at all. Sometimes, Daddy sleeps with his other partner. Sometimes he sleeps with me. Sometimes, N sleeps with me and Daddy is out late with someone else. Their world revolves with very little disturbance for them and there’s almost always a supportive adult at home for them to talk to.

My daughter says her friends think it’s weird that Daddy has two wives, that Mommy has other partners. But she sticks up for us, saying she thinks it’s weird that her friends don’t have a big family of loving adults. She tells them she’s lucky.

And my son? He wants to know if N can help him find a car this summer.

So, yeah, I think the kids are still doing allright.

 

 

 

 

 


Joy

Two years ago, things blew apart with Wash. Hurting, and lonely, and facing a quiet summer without him, I turned to the modern lonely hearts club, the Internet. And I found on Twitter a sweet and funny guy who was bored at work and wanted to chat about all sorts of things. And we became close friends, and pretty soon, my day didn’t feel right if I hadn’t heard from him in the morning. And I’d go on dates, and would leave them feeling unsatified, because the person I wanted to be dating wasn’t them. It was him. 

And I was deeply unhappy, not realizing that the Bitch had snuck through a crack in my defenses and ravaged me again, so stealthily this time, I didn’t even realize it happening, instead blaming my marriage and my breakups and my job for my deep sense of sadness and dread. I couldn’t sleep in my bed, so I resigned myself to uncomfortable nights in the couch, further eroding my closeness with my husband. I felt friendships begin to crack, and even though I had a new job that I loved and wanted very much, I felt like I was failing, drowning in the darkness.

The bullshit thing about mental illness is how your own brain lies to you. The Bitch will tell you that you are fine, that everything else is fucked up, and convince you that the problem belongs to everyone else and it’s their job to fix it. 

The Bitch whispers sweetly in your ear that you are alone, that you are doomed to fail, and that no one cares anyhow. She convinces you that fighting is pointless, so why bother.

Something in me was strong enough to realize that I needed to fight.

And I couldn’t do it for myself. It had to be for someone else.

There used to be a spot I drove past, every night on my way home from work. There was a break In the fence, there, and no guardrail, and every time I drove past it, I would think of how easy it would be to drive off the road, drop the many feet down to the freeway below. I could see myself doing it, see the crash scene, the emergency crews, everything. But then I would see my husband, widowed, and trying to explain to the kids what happened. I’d see my mom, losing another child to mental illness. I’d see my kids, my sensitive and gentle son and my daydreaming wisp of a girl child, and I’d keep driving. I’d spend another restless night caught in invasive thoughts of falling off cliffs and bridges, waking to a panic attack and wanting to vomit. 

Heavy stuff for a blog post titled “Joy”, but bear with me here.

I realized a few weeks ago, that I had always fought for other people. I needed to beat my illness for them, for my husband and my kids and my mother, because they counted on me. My mental illness, the depression and anxiety and ADD, was something I needed to overcome because they needed and deserved a healthy mother, wife, daughter, friend. 

I didn’t think I was worth fighting for, on my own. My language was never that I deserved to be a healthy person. 

Last year, that sweet and funny Twitter friend flew up here to visit me. We’d never met in person, and I was scared of what might happen. I was scared that the spark that was online wouldn’t exist in the real world; I was more scared of what would happen if it was. I was in a new job, a position I had coveted and worked hard for.

I was miserable.

Everything hurt, all the time. I barely slept. My marriage felt, to me, like it was falling apart. I felt like I was under-qualified for my new position, and I badly missed my children and my friends. The spark was there with my new partner, and the Bitch was right there with it, telling me he’d never come back, that the happiness I’d felt with him would be snatched away too. Finally, a romantic weekend I had planned with my husband had fizzled. I spent it sad and weeping. My depression snatching away another chance at happiness. 

That week, I went to my doctor. I started medical treatment.

And, I just realized recently, that was the very first time in my life that I made the decision to get well, to fight like hell, FOR MY SELF. 

I finally realized that I was a whole person who deserved to be healthy and well and happy. I realized that I was the best person to fight for. That I deserved a shot at joy.

This year, I had the strength to go to a con, with my partner, Ziggy.  We went to Furlandia, here in Portland, and It was amazing . We had a magical weekend together. My husband and his new parter took the kids to the coast that weekend, and we all got together for dinner that Sunday night to share stories and celebrate Ziggy’s birthday.

And I was awash in something I hadn’t felt except in brief glimpses through the worst years of my illness. 

I felt joy.

I see the pictures of myself from the con and I don’t recognize me. My body is relaxed, comfortable, not twisted and tense from pain. I’m laughing, hard. That weekend, I danced. The joy is there, in every line and freckle.

And in my falling dreams? I no longer wake sweating and shaking, bracing for the fall. in those dreams, a breeze catches me, and I grow wings, and I soar.


Summer’s End

Today is my mom’s 70th birthday.

And with that, the summer that had started with a whirlwind and so much drama has drawn, quietly and easily, to a close.

I’m doing well. I had meant to write more, to create more. But long weeks at work got in the way. I’ve not harvested much this summer, I’ve not done much canning. I’ve been busy, working for the most part, enjoying these fleeting moments with the kids.

We adopted a new cat this summer. He’s a lovely long-haired boy named Bing. The dog seems to like him. The other cats endure him. I’ve done plenty of knitting. I finished a hat and a pair of socks, and I started a sweater. I did not go camping this year, but the kids and Mr Awesome did and they had fun. I’ve been to Powells a few times, and the beach once, and I have done very little hiking, and no eventing at all. And I’m ok with all that.

I haven’t heard from Wash, and I miss him a lot.

This summer has been long and hot and dry. I feel parched, ready for the autumn rains, and hopeful for snow this winter.

There are new beginnings at this season change. Both kids are in school for full days, and for the first time in a decade, my weekdays belong, primarily, to myself. I find myself wishing Wash was still in my life, to enjoy this time with me… It was something we had talked about, the chance to spend afternoons together this year, once I had them free. But life changes, and moves on. I’m certain he is where he wanted to be, and I have let that part of my life fade into the past, where it belongs.

I’ve been on a few dates. One, terrible and terribly humorous, ending with me so thankful for an escape that I got on a train out of the city without a thought to whether it was even going the correct direction. I might write about that one later; it was a funny experience. I had a date, yesterday, which went amazingly well, with no need for a public transit rescue. But over all, It’s been a season of being monogamous, which hasn’t fit very well, and has felt strange and awkward. But it’s been good, too. It’s been good for my marriage; a good chance to reconnect with my husband without the distraction of other partners. Also, a chance to connect better with Velah, and (I hope) help her through a pretty rough patch.

I’ve escaped the seasonal cycle, this year. There’s been a few rough days, but, by and large, the bitch in the corner has stayed in her corner, and the depression hasn’t taken me as it has in the past. I am very, very thankful for that.

Tonight, I can hear the frogs outside my window and think of the rain that will soon replace them. I’m eager for the rain, for the change in seasons. I’m eager to see what’s on the horizon, to see how my children grow this year, and how the change.

And for me? New lovers, perhaps. New friends, certainly. New experiences, without a doubt.

And at the center of it all, I stand, living and laughing and loving.

Happy autumn to you all.