#WeekendCoffeeShare: In Which I Am a Wee Lazy

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If we were having coffee, I would invite you in and say hello. I’m probably still yawning and stretching, and the coffee might not actually be made. Perhaps we’ll walk just down the street to Congregation, the little coffee place on the corner, or perhaps we’ll just stay in here where it’s cool and I’ll hop up to make some coffee. Today I’m being a wee extraordinarily lazy, because this week has been a doozy. (Does anyone actually say doozy anymore?–Besides me, I mean.)

I would tell you that this week I finished up the summer semester, grading essays and averaging grades and getting everything in juuust before they were due. I generally try to finish things up at least a day or two in advance, but this time I had lots of trouble getting that done. Little Jedi is back from his dad’s house for the last 2 weeks of July, so I’ve been trying to spend time with him. I also had an interview for full-time teaching that took place halfway through the week, and the preparation and nervousness from that took up quite a bit of my time. (Side note: Not sure if I’ll have the job yet, but I do know that I have a second interview!) And there’s been a fair amount of family stuff going on that has made me both anxious and angry…Things that I’m not ready to talk about here (and may or may not ever be) but that have drained me of energy in all kinds of ways.

*****

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that Little Jedi and I only get this week and next week together out of the whole year. It’s weird, but it’s true. He spends a lot of time with his dad’s family and with my parents–and that’s well and good in the sense that he has lots of people to care about him, but it makes life a little lot more complicated. It’s difficult to plan anything as a family, and it’s frustrating because the other parts of his family don’t really recognize that. During much of the year he is in school, obviously, and during the summer he spends 2 weeks of each month with his dad. Throughout most of the year he’s with his dad every other weekend, and during his Mardi Gras break and spring break he was gone to visit grandparents this year. Sometimes it feels as though he needs his own social calendar, and Sam and I get railroaded into having almost no family time.

So we’ve spent this week mostly hanging out at home, because that’s what he’s wanted to do. We’ve played video games and read and watched YouTube, and he’s had some time to play with his friend and for them to have a sleepover (or two!). On tomorrow, we’re going to the theater to see Kiki’s Delivery Service, and next week I think we’re going to make our way to the aquarium and insectarium and library. In short, we’re going to enjoy our city and one another, because we don’t actually get a lot of free time together to do that.

*****

If we were having coffee, I would ask what you have going on, what your week has been like. So link up your posts below, and don’t forget to use the #weekendcoffeeshare tag on Facebook, Twitter, and here on WordPress!

#WeekendCoffeeShare: In Which I Am Behind on Literally Everything

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If we were having coffee, I would first apologize for being late…Oops! Generally, I am an on-time sort of person, but today I only had about a million things to do before getting the coffee share going. I definitely meant to work on all of this yesterday, but yesterday turned out to be a Bad Writing Day. I think we all have those days…When the words just won’t show up, no matter how long you look at the blinking cursor or the empty page, and nothing seems to happen quite the way you want it.

Aside from the Bad Writing Day this week, though, the week was a really good one. I finished teaching my summer class, and there are only the final essays to grade in the coming week. Sam was able to work from home this week, so we were able to spend quite a lot of time together, which was far scarcer with his last job.

And on Wednesday night, I was able to attend a book-event for Roxane Gay’s Hunger with my dearest friend, something I’ve been looking forward to for a few months now. She’s one of my favorite current feminist writers, and it was really fantastic to be able to listen to her talk about her writing, pop culture, and her own personal story. She was first interviewed by a local writer on-stage, and afterward the audience was given a chance to ask questions. I had a hundred questions, of course, but I was much too anxious to stand and ask any of them. The questions from other attendees were wonderful though, and led to fun tangents about Lena Dunham, Batman, and avocados (cue collective gasps of horror when Roxane Gay mentioned they were her favorite food, then laughter when the room full of people realized how many other people had the same pearl-clutching reaction to this in a night that included frank conversation about body image, rape, and misogyny.)

I’d read the book before attending, mostly because I saw a copy in the library and couldn’t resist picking it up before attending the event. But now have my own personalized copy of Hunger, and it’s pretty much my favorite possession at this moment.

*****

If we were having coffee, I would try to fill you in on the months that we haven’t talked as much as we once did. The break from grinding out the coffee share each week was a good one, and it was good for me to step away for a little while. I’ve been able to redirect my attention, which had been waning, and now I feel really great about diving back into the community. But of course lots has happened since February!

I would tell you that I chopped quite a lot of my hair off and re-added my pink streak a few weeks ago. I cut about 8 inches of hair, and it was amazing how much lighter I felt—both literally and metaphorically. I have tended to hide behind my hair for quite a long time, and now it’s far too short to hide me. The pink has faded, and the cut is a bit shaggy (oy, short hair takes so much maintenance), so I need to take myself back to the salon. But I think I’m keeping this cut for a while.

In the months that we haven’t talked regularly, I’ve also been super-delighted to welcome a new wee addition to our family, a new little niece. She’s a beautiful little creature, and we’ve been over a few times to visit since she was born. Little Jedi doesn’t particularly like to hold her (she’s wiggly, mom!), but he loves to sit next to her and chatter and to just watch her. The kiddo hasn’t been around a lot of babies, but he does quite love them. I, of course, find all of this amusing and adorable.

We’ve also taken the kiddos to lots of things–well maybe not Baby Fett yet, though I have high hopes that she and her parents will be joining us for things in the future–but Little Jedi and my dearest friends’ kiddos have spent a lot of time hanging out together. We took them to Star Wars Day at the aquarium and free comic book day at our local shop, and they were together so much during Little Jedi’s part of the summer here that they just “switched” houses from day-to-day at one point. It’s difficult to express just how wonderful it is to live in the same city as my childhood friend, to have our children hang out together the way we once did.

*****

If we were having coffee, I would ask how your week has been and what you might get up to in the coming week. I’d remind you to add your link below and to use the #weekendcoffeeshare tag on Facebook, Twitter, and WordPress so we can all find each other! ❤

 

#WeekendCoffeeShare: In Which I am Back Again

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If we were having coffee, I would welcome you back.

I would tell you that I’m glad to have the coffee share returning to Part-Time Monster. It was nice to have a break, and Emily at Nerd in the Brain has been a fantastic host for the last few months. I have missed the community, though. It’s been quite a while since we last had coffee together, and only about half a million things have happened since then…And few of them were the writing that I’d intended to do. I’ve been quiet of late, both because I’ve had trouble motivating myself to write and because I’ve just had so many other things going on that it’s been difficult to find the energy to write. But I’m back now, and the coffee share is returning home, and I’m learning to be tougher on myself so that I can meet my writing goals.

I’ve also been trying some new types of writing and new activities–some with more success than others. I recently read Lynda Barry’s Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor, and I’ve also got a few other creativity-oriented books on my TBR list. Barry’s book was really fascinating from a visual and a cognitive perspective: her book looks like a composition notebook, and in it she has collected notes, syllabi, lesson plans, and drawings from her classes. I’ve been using some of her exercises to help me begin to journal again, hoping that handwriting and coloring and drawing will facilitate my creativity and put some fun back into the idea of writing every day, which is a habit I am trying desperately to get back to. I’ve also created a FB group of some friends and former classmates who want to work on being more productive, and we have weekly check-ins with one another and often commiserate. It helps, especially now that I’m several years out of grad school, which was a very productive time for me from a writing perspective because I was constantly surrounded by discussions about writing–what it means, how to do it better, how to teach it, etc.

*****

If we were having coffee, you’d probably hear a fair amount of whinging from me. Life has gotten a bit complicated, what with the kiddo gone quite a bit of the summer and attempting to juggle his schedule and my own schedule plus Sam’s schedule, too. And if that weren’t enough, there’s my ever-present battle with my allergies. Despite taking a nasal spray and an antihistamine daily, I’m *still* sniffling, and the sniffling/sneezing gets my asthma going.  Despite my whinging, though, life is actually pretty swell. It’s looking up, and finally I can start seeing my way through some of the obstacles I’ve encountered over the last few years in my writing and personal lives.

******

And if we were having coffee, I’d stop now and listen to you, dear hearts, you who I have missed so much recent. Welcome back–we’ll be here next week. Same Bat-time, same Bat-station.

How Being a Picky Eater Feeds My Anxiety

Confession time: I’m a picky eater.

…And I don’t just mean that there are a few thing that I don’t like or that I’m a little bit picky. I mean I’m a really, really picky eater, and there are lots of things that I just don’t like. I don’t like peas or beans or tomatoes or sushi or eggs cooked any way except scrambled. I hate steamed vegetables. Mushrooms make me shudder.

This is not new. I’ve always been a picky eater–there are photos of little baby me, spitting out mashed peas and carrots and making weird faces at tomatoes. Occasionally someone could convince me that a food I didn’t eat was something that I actually did eat (family legend has it that as a toddler I ate fried fish because I was told it was fried hot dogs)  in an effort to get me to broaden my horizons, but that was not an oft-tried or oft-successful tactic. For a long time I wouldn’t eat things that were “delicious” because my brother told me that peas were delicious, and I hated them so very much that I was convinced that the word “delicious” meant “horrible” instead.

At some point, my mother and father stopped fighting with me about what I was going to eat for dinner, because they had already raised two children, one of them also a picky eater. They also seemed to recognize that I would’ve gone hungry rather than eat something I didn’t like. I know this is true because I had an aunt who wouldn’t let us have a snack later unless we finished all the dinner on our plates. At her house, I would sometimes go hungry because I would not eat what was on my plate.

And here’s the thing…I wasn’t, and I am not, just being a brat. The truth is far more complicated, and it has had a profound affect on my life–my relationships with other people and my relationship with food, hence my relationship with my own body.

You see, certain textures of food actually make me feel ill, physically ill. Like those peas and beans I mentioned? The texture of a bite of peas or beans triggers my gag reflex. I don’t necessarily understand how or why, but that tends to make them difficult to even begin to like. So, while I hear a lot about things that are an “acquired taste,” I’ve never really known what that was like from an eating perspective. It’s pretty difficult to learn to like something that makes you feel like you just might vomit every time you take a bite.

And boy is that a load off my chest to admit…Because I’ve been made fun of for it almost all of my life, and I really and truthfully wish that my relationship with food were different. My picky eating has caused arguments and sadness and endless amounts of frustration and anxiety. Because even though my parents weren’t hard on me about how I was eating, other people in my life haven’t always quite as kind.

And you should know that here in the deepest parts of the American South, food is a way of life. There was food at church, food at my grandmother’s house, food at family reunions and backyard barbecues. There were family dinners and breakfasts and brunches. So. Many Brunches. Everyone here loves a potluck, tables piled high with casseroles and cooked vegetables and meat….And when I sat down with a plate that had a few pieces of turkey, a buttered roll, and a bit of macaroni and cheese but nothing else, there were always snarky comments and laughter. Every time we sat down together to eat, comments were made about what I was eating, about what I was not eating. And while I desperately wanted those comments to go away, I found them preferable to the kinds of embarrassment I might suffer if one of those foods actually did make me sick.

So I started to work around having to eat with other people, trying to control as much of the environment as I could. I was lucky enough to like a few basic things–chicken and burgers, french fries and chips–that could be found at most any restaurant in some shape or fashion and that were often on the pot luck table. If I couldn’t control the menu or was going to a place that might not have anything I would eat, I’d often eat a bit beforehand (not enough to be full, so that I could be polite and eat at least a small something). Alternately, I would arrange to arrive once everyone had eaten or find a reason to leave before food was served. This way, I didn’t have to deal with rude comments or nosy people. I could, instead, focus on having fun with the people I was spending time with.

I became The Girl Who Never Ate or The Girl Who Ate Like a Bird. All of this was even more darkly comic because I am a chubby girl–even at my lightest, I was still a solid size 8/10 with curves, so there were always smug looks and occasional derisive laughter with those comments about what was on my plate.

Over the years, my relationship with food, with eating, created a spiral of frustration and sadness and fear. As a teen and young adult, especially, my food issues wreaked havoc on my physical and mental health. Food became something secret. It became something I was ashamed of, a bad habit. I ate alone, and I ate too much.  I ate things that were bad for me–because the unfortunate truth was that many of the healthiest foods were the foods that created the most anxiety, the textures I disliked and dreaded the most.  I gained weight, packing on about 75 pounds in my 8 years of college/grad school. The weight gain made me feel worse about my body, worse about food and more self-conscious about eating unhealthy foods in front of other people. This level of discomfort with food and with my own body were a kind of self-perpetuating cycle, feeding my depression and anxiety disorder. I’d feel anxious about going out and eating with other people, then my self-isolation would add to my depression.

I’ve been trying, since I first understood the nature of my disordered eating (because that’s what it is, really and truthfully) to expand my palate. This is difficult because there are emotional, psychological, and physical components to my relationship to food. In addition to being aware of the texture issues I have with some foods, I know now that, at least in part part, I have been mimicking my mother, who was constantly trying to lose weight and who had a tendency to try to hide when she ate junk food. But I now I do eat a lot of foods that I would not have eaten when I was younger, and I eat with other people more often.

I recognize that I have created a situation in which food, already culturally symbolic in so many ways, is personally symbolic. Most importantly, perhaps, I have learned to be patient with myself and to ignore snarky comments from people who cannot possibly understand how and why I am being brave when I nibble a slice of tomato.

On Turning 33

A few weeks ago, I turned 33. Sam and Little Jedi and I had lovely dinner together and some scrumptious cake, but mostly things were calm and relaxed. Very different from some of my past birthdays (pleasantly so!), but I did find myself contemplating birthdays past and thinking about age and aging. Age is, after all, just a number, and what we consider “old” has changed drastically over the centuries and across cultures. Thirty-three, at this point, is still pretty young.

But our thirties are an age that we expect to see people doing certain things by. I see lists all the time about “30 things to do before you’re 30” or “20 things to do in your 20’s.” Of course, many of these listicles are lighthearted, and many of them revolve around life experiences. Although these lists are often gendered, they are much more expansive than they might once have been. But they’re still expectations–and they are gendered. Now I’m not saying that goals and expectations are inherently bad things. On the contrary, goals are often ways of categorizing what we most want to achieve with the finite amount of time we have, and expectations can be powerful motivators. It’s basing goals on an age and gender that I dislike.

At 33, I find myself: married to a wonderful man; the mother of a beautiful, smart, and emotionally astute 7 year old. I own my car, and even if I do rent my home, it’s a lovely one in New Orleans; I’ve had the chance to travel in Europe and throughout much of the U.S. So what if I don’t own a home or if I am still paying off student loans? Does it really matter that I still can’t wing my eyeliner or that I’m not trying too hard to avoid getting wrinkles? Who really cares if I can’t plan and cook a 5 course dinner party? Why do we evaluate ourselves by this kind of criteria?

So in the spirit of the day, I offer you short list of all the things that I think you should do, not before you’re 30, but just…Whenever you are, whomever you are, and however you are:

1. Make an effort to stop internalizing what the lists say. You’re probably never going to completely stop caring about some of this stuff, because we are immersed in gender and age expectations from the time we are born. Recognize that because of culture you WILL feel pressured by lists, by film and media, and even by people you know. Listen to those voices, but don’t let them become your voice.
2. We’re done here.

Chewbaccus 2017

For those of you outside New Orleans: Chewbaccus is a Mardi Gras krewe (an organization that puts together a parade and/or ball during Carnival) that is sci-fi and fantasy themed—so lots of fun stuff with very nerdy twists.

What I love about Chewbaccus is that it’s not just incredibly nerdy (because that’s a given)–but I also really love that the floats and costumes are handmade. This year, Little Jedi wanted to know “where they get all this stuff.” Well darling–it’s all made from craft supplies, imagination, and lots of dedication. Never underestimate nerds with a plan and an abundance of craft stores nearby.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from this year’s parade:

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#WeekendCoffeeShare: It’s Moving!

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If we were having coffee, I’d advise you to sit a little bit away so as not to catch any of my flu germs–because yes, unfortunately, the flu has finally made its way to our house. I’m a bit of a sneezy, coughy, runny-nosed mess right now, so perhaps it’s best that we’re sharing our coffee virtually.

I would also tell you, over our virtual coffee, that you’re about to see some major changes where the weekend coffee share is concerned, because it’s getting a new home. Starting next week, the weekend coffee share will be hosted at Nerd in the Brain, and Emily will be taking over the week-to-week operations of the link-up.

It’s taken me a long time to make this decision and to commit to it. I’ve hung onto the link-up for a while now, though writing each week has taken a great deal of energy. The community is a vibrant and close-knit one, with far more readers and commenters than I imagined would be a part of this when I started the link-up in 2014. So part of me really wanted to hang on to this part of my little corner of the internet, this thing that I’ve built. But another part of me knows that it’s time to make a shift. My posts have become less compelling conversation than chatter about my week, and over the past few months I’ve become more and more lax about doing the things that keep the coffee share community close–answering comments and reading, commenting on, and sharing everyone else’s posts. In large part, this is because when I didn’t calculate how the coffee share would fit in with the content I wanted to run when I switched my blog over, and in large part, this is also because I’ve done this each week for a little more than 2 years now, and the routine has become overwhelming.

Of course, moving the weekend coffee share link up doesn’t mean that I won’t ever be writing coffee share posts anymore…It just means that I’m taking a bit of a backseat and becoming a participant rather than the sole person in charge of making and running the link-up. Emily has agreed to do that, and I think that she will do a fantastic job. Emily currently runs Three Things Thursday, another weekly link-up, and she also runs hosts challenges and give-aways at Nerd in the Brain so the link-up is in safe hands.  And I’ll be popping in and out, adding my own posts to the list on the weeks that I write one and blissfully free to read and share posts that you guys write.

The content here, at Part-Time Monster, is going to get louder and more political. In the face of DT’s presidency and the massive sociocultural and sociopolitical problems that we are facing, I can’t stay silent. Feminist Fridays will resume this week. You’ll also see me talking more about mental health, focusing on my ongoing problems with anxiety and depression. And you’ll also see me talking about books, films, and comics–because not only does art tell us things about our society, but art is good for us in times like these. Art is not just frivolity, though it certainly can be frivolous.

And so…This is goodbye but not goodbye. I’ll be here, talking about all sorts of stuff, and I’ll sometimes jump into the coffee share as a participant, but this is my last week hosting the coffee share. Starting 2/18, look for the weekend coffee share on Nerd in the Brain!  🙂

*****

#Sorrynotsorry

Among my social media, I’m beginning to see some whinging about the amount of political posts and some pleas that we “all get along” or “let it go and move on.”

You can do that. You can hide, at least for a while longer. (And make no mistake, it is hiding. It is turning your head from sorrow and suffering and anger.) So you can do that, but I will not.

Some people are *actively in danger.* The man who is our president has advocated sexual assault (grab her by the pussy) and mocked every group from veterans to people with disabilities to women. This opens up a window for all kinds of other violence and crude behavior. If the man who holds the highest elected office in our nation can get there after the public is aware that he’s been doing these things, then Joe Schmoe down in Mississippi doesn’t think he’s going to get in much trouble for grabbing the ass of the woman he works with. (Spoiler alert–he doesn’t.)

So not only do we have a president who creates an atmosphere in which violence–in particular sexual violence, but other kinds as well–is likely to thrive, we also have a president who is already actively working toward anti-intellectualism, ignoring systemic racism, erasing LGBTQ peoples, and removing healthcare protections from those who most need it.

This is not alarmist. We are already hearing the administration deal in “alternative facts.” Bills are already in the works to turn healthcare back over to the states, and we all know how poorly that goes for the poorest among us (hint: really fucking badly). The first pages that were removed and archived from the presidential website were LGBTQ and climate change. There were no replacement policies on the LGBTQ page–none–though the writers were sure to add in a plug for FLOTUS’s jewelry line on her bio page. As someone who is trained to read and teach rhetoric, I will say that we can learn a lot about what the administration values here. IT IS NOT US.

It’s only the beginning of day 3 of this administration. Re-read that.

There are real stakes for me here. I a woman. I need birth control every month to stay healthy, and the insurance that we pay exorbitant amounts to keep should have to cover it. I’ve lived on state assistance and used Medicaid in the past. I live with multiple mental illnesses. I have a child who was premature, who attends a public charter school now. I live in the deepest of the deep south, in a place where coastlines are rapidly disappearing, and my city is quite literally sinking, disappearing underneath me.

There are real stakes for my loved ones here. Many of them identify as LGBTQ and have only recently gained the right to legal marriages. Some of them have used state assistance in the past, and many of them are women. They work hard, these women. And they are tough, so tough, living in places that often try to tear them to pieces.

But even aside from all that–even aside from my own experiences and those close to me–I am a fucking human being, and I am empathetic. I know when something is wrong, and something is very wrong just now, my friends.

Yes, we marched this weekend. We protested. And I saw a fair amount of whinging about that, as well–complaints that what was happening was somehow unpatriotic or that we should just try and “move on.” I keep hearing that echoed–move on.

Listen up: the women’s march was amazing. Unprecedented. Seven continents and millions of women. I’m not sure that it would’ve been possible in an age without social media, truly. (Let me be clear–I also recognize that the march was not infallible, and we should not refrain from criticizing it and working to make our feminism better. We need to listen to those voices that traditional feminism has subdued. Women of color and trans women, for instance, are specifically saying they were marginalized further by some of what transpired. I both recognize the enormity of what happened this weekend and think we can do better. Feminism cannot continue ignoring bright, honest, and powerful voices.)

Now, we have to translate this protest energy into more action, more conversation, more doing. We cannot stop on day 3. So– #sorrynotsorry for clogging your newsfeeds. But don’t expect me to stop anytime soon.

How Purity Culture Almost Destroyed My Life…Twice

Purity culture nearly ruined my life.

I grew up in church. We lived in a small, Mississippi town in the 1980s/90s, the place my father grew up. The entire family went to that church–my grandmother, my aunt, my nuclear family, and even some 2nd and 3rd cousins. We were there every time the doors were open…Literally. On Sunday mornings, we would attend Sunday school at 10, then sit through the church service from 11-12. We’d go home for lunch, and sometimes a friend would come over to play for a few hours. Then it was back to church at 4:30 for children’s classes and another church service from 6-7. After services many of those nights, I would go home with my grandmother and aunt, who often ordered pizza and had dinner with our pastor and his wife. On Wednesdays, we went to prayer meetings from 7-8. During the summer, there was always a week of Vacation Bible School and then another week of summer sleep-away camp.

The church we attended held many of the standard fundamentalist Christian views–especially those of the time. I can remember hearing about the evils of rock music. (When I was very young, much of the ire was directed at Ozzy, who bit the head off  of bats. Later, that disdain and concern would turn to Marilyn Manson, who destroyed Bibles onstage and was always to be found in dark clothing and layers of makeup.) When a new youth pastor introduced Christian rock, some of the church goers were upset. I remember not celebrating Halloween, because it was The Devil’s Holiday. We had an evening hay ride and bonfire in the woods to compensate for the loss of trick or treating–supervised by our parents and church elders, of course.

Sex was something that there was almost a blanket of silence about, though. I barely remember discussing sex with my parents, but I think the conversation was mostly too little, too late. Not that I was having sex (indeed, no–not until I was 19), but I’d already figured out how sex worked long before we discussed it. This was because sex wasn’t often discussed in our house or in our church…even in our community. And when it was, there were very certain parameters for the discussion:

We’d talk about abstinence. In church, we learned about the value of purity: purity of heart and purity of body, which seemed to equal a kind of purity of spirit, of soul. At our local high school, the True Love Waits group gave a presentation to the school’s chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Looking back, I’m not sure why I was a member, except that it was an organization for Christians that many of my friends belonged to…I was certainly not an athlete. We were all encouraged to take vows that we would wait until marriage to have sex.

We’d talk about repentance. In church, we were told that we’d all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. We were told that if we’d sinned in this way, we could become new again in God’s eyes if we only repented and then continued to abstain.

And we’d talk about consequences. So, so much talk about consequences. Disease a possibility. I remember mapping out how quickly disease could spread. Oh, but there was also the possibility of creating another human…And not being married to that baby’s other biological parent was considered a serious moral failing in our community, not to mention a hardship that extended from mother to child, an assumption that the child’s life would also be difficult. This was compounded by the occasional pregnant girl at school, a cautionary tale walking around with a burgeoning belly, the way the hushed whispers followed those girls.

Complicating this was some family history, maternal guilt and pressures. Secrets I am not at liberty to tell because they are not mine, but secrets that nonetheless affected my life. And then there were rules…So many rules. Rules about what to wear, who to be (or not to be) alone with, what time to come home, what to do while I was out…So many rules.

Only in retrospect does any of this sound extreme. It’s easy to miss the signs when you’re immersed in something.

By the time I was in college, I’d moved away from my hometown, stopped going to church. I’d met people who were different than me, many of them radically so. I’d studied literature and history at a college level. I’d had my first tastes of alcohol, of love, of freedom, of real joy and of real tragedy. But it wasn’t easy, this moving away from my upbringing. It came in fits and starts, with a lot of internalized guilt and shame. I drank a lot, often getting overly-emotional. At one point, I could drink a fifth of alcohol and keep drinking. For all intents and purposes, I was an alcoholic.

I almost destroyed myself. But somehow, I finished my undergraduate degree and moved on to graduate-level courses.

When I moved to attend graduate school, I was in an off-phase of an on-and-off relationship that had pretty much defined my undergraduate career, spanning from the end of my sophomore year of college until I graduated. Eventually, we’d find ourselves in another on-again phase.

And at 24, I’d find myself unmarried and pregnant.

I was terrified. No, I was not a child–not in the typical sense of the word. But my parents were still very much in charge of my life, helping me pay my way through graduate school so that I could focus on the very real task of getting a degree. I had finished course work for my master’s degree, but I still needed to write a thesis and defend it before I could graduate. And my parents were angry. My mother said we’d have to get married, and my dad said that mom was only wanting the best for us, did not want my child to be a bastard. I was unsure of what to do, but my boyfriend said we’d get through it. We were planning to get married one day anyway, we’d just wanted to wait longer.

And so, I married my son’s father. We weren’t ready to say goodbye to each other, but we were also unsuited to be married to one another. It didn’t take us long to figure out that we were wholly unsuited to one another once we lived together, either. We were married for less than a year, tired of the arguments that had defined our on-and-off relationship. We knew it was unhealthy to raise a child in the turmoil of our arguments, and so we decided not to. We’d raise him together, but separate.

But that was a difficult goodbye. It felt like a death, and in a way it was. It was the death of a relationship, the closing off of a life I thought I was going to live. I didn’t want to be a divorced woman or a single parent. I didn’t want my child to grow up in a “broken home.”

It almost destroyed me, that loss of the dream of a nuclear family with biological mother, biological father, and biological child. That loss also freed me.

But here I am, 7 years post-divorce. I am remarried to someone who I could not imagine life without, someone who is not only a partner to me but an amazing 3rd parent for my son. We have a good relationship with my parents, who have helped me immensely, especially during the time when I was a single mother going to graduate school. And there’s my son…My beautiful boy with a big heart. He has two fathers.

And all is as it should be, finally.

#WeekendCoffeeShare: In Which I am Cold, and I Talk about Feminism

weekend coffee share logo hosted at parttimemonsterblog.com

If we were having coffee, we would be curled up on the big purple couch today. I’m wearing my Hufflepuff bathrobe backwards and whining about just how cold it is today. Of course, to some of you 47 degrees is not cold at all, so you’ll probably be chuckling. But for here in New Orleans, that’s cold as cold can be. Our houses are mostly not equipped to deal with the cold weather because they’re built to stay cool in the ridiculous summers, so the high ceilings and big windows work against us during the winter. We’ve also moved into a place without central heating–we have a few of the small space heaters around the house, but since there are no doors in the kitchen/living room area, the heaters have to work pretty hard. Anyway, it’s cold. I’m cold.

So while I’m on cup number two of coffee and bitching about being cold, I would tell you that this has been a good week, a week of finishing up the semester and moving forward. At the beginning of the week, Mon/Tues, I had lots of final essays to grade and final grades to input. Then on Wednesday, I got to be a part of something really, really incredible. I wanted to chat about it last week, but I wasn’t sure just how much to say before it all happened. Toward the end of last week, I was contacted to read on-camera for a feminist documentary project called Yours in Sisterhood–the goal of the project is to record people giving readings of letters sent to Ms. magazine in the 1970s in the places where those letters were written and to allow a space to respond to the tone and content of the letters. The project is spear-headed by director Irene Lustzig, who contacted me about reading a letter sent from a mother of an infant son in New Orleans. I readily agreed, of course, and the experience was a profound and moving one. I was surprised at not just the cognitive dissonance between myself and the writer of this letter, but also at our similarities–things we both wanted or things we both worried about. We filmed along the levy of the MS River here, and though it was loud and we had to do several takes, it seemed like just the right spot. Not sure when things will be available, because there are more readings to be recorded and lots to be done, but the project will end up both as an interactive online archive and a feature-length film. Their Facebook page is probably a good place to keep up with them!

After we finished up with filming for the documentary on Wednesday, it was time to say goodbye to Irene and her wonderful assistant Anisa, and then I had to scoot across the river to the community college and hand-in my end-of-the-semester requirements–gradebook and such–and then there was a trip to the library and to pick up Little Jedi from school. And there was also, finally my new phone waiting for me at home. We ordered them at the end of last week, and Sam’s was here Monday, but of course since I chose a rose gold colored phone instead of the traditional grey, it took mine longer to get here! We had to have new phones because our old Blackberrys weren’t working well anymore, and apparently the problem was that they were not compatible with some of the new networks and such. I caved and gave into the iPhone craze, and also into the Instagram (@parttimemonster) and PokemonGo crazes. Oh, and Prisma. Basically, I spent all of Thursday reading and playing on my new phone, because Wednesday was such a good but long day. The most productivity I managed on Thursday was making the bed, and that’s about the most productivity I managed yesterday, too.  But on the bright side, I caught a lot of Pokemon and am almost finished with The Girls, a really fascinating novel about a teenage girl in the late 1960s who is caught up in a Manson-esque murderous cult.

And today, in addition to writing this coffee post, I’m making some behind-the-scenes changes and working on some new ideas for this little blog. For one thing, I’ve decided to bring Feminist Fridays to the blog. A while back, some other bloggers and I ran a series of Feminist Friday discussions on a regular basis, and that was a productive time for me insofar as my own activism and writing. In the wake of working on Yours in Sisterhood this week, I’ve realized I need more of that conversation, and my blog is a good place to start it. So, beginning in January, each Friday will be devoted to a piece of writing about feminism. Sometimes that will mean I share a personal story, and sometimes those posts will be more global. I’ll also have some guest posters here, and if you have an idea I encourage you to chat with me about it by emailing me at ptmonsterblog@gmail.com.

And for now, with this long, long coffee date, I will bid you adieu, and I will see you next week for a coffee-on-a-go-go as we travel to my parents’ house to celebrate Christmas with them. Until then, link up your coffee posts below, and I promise I’ll be answering comments and getting the WCS Twitter going again!

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