“The worst thing about prison was the dementors.”

transgender flag

I’ll no longer be publishing with WordPress after this post. (I’m moving to Squarespace.) I’ll leave the entries I haven’t deleted. I heard some devastating news about the author of the Harry Potter series today. I’m stunned someone who possesses the keen mind that created the Potterverse has also decided to use the resulting platform of wealth and influence to abuse people who don’t share her privilege.

Like so many other things in life, gender is not a zero-sum situation. Transgender people do not erase the concept of gender. If anything, they add to it. Their self-awareness is not a threat to anyone, especially not someone so fortunate to have vast wealth and power. I’m a cis female who has always identified as a woman.

It’s a fact and not subject to opinion. The same goes for transgender women. We share a gender while also possessing some differences because we’re individuals, not clones. I’m privileged because my birth anatomy happened to align with who I am. It’s vile to try and erase a specific group of people from existence; period.

I understand being rich and famous doesn’t mean you have a healthy mind and self-esteem. We’re all humans who have acquired scars along the journey of life. Sometimes those scars, if neglected, can fester. It’s so easy and basic to lash out at the less privileged whenever one feels threatened, even when it’s completely irrational. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have access to things like therapy and time for self-reflection.

With great power comes great responsibility. – most recently popularized by Stan Lee. (origin?)

I hope J.K. Rowling grows beyond this destructive behavior. It’s an incredible disappointment when people who have power and wealth use it to harm. Many people state they want to be like Bill Gates. But what they truly mean is they want to have a massively disproportionate amount of money and resources, but have no intention of using it to help heal the world, which is what makes him praiseworthy.

I licked it so it's mine

So few recognize money is a tool, and think it’s a savior from whatever makes them feel powerless and invisible. Money isn’t magic. It doesn’t heal insecurity. It can do many things, but you’re still going to die one day. It can amplify both good and bad intentions. It can trick you into thinking you’re no longer subject to morality, ethics, etc. Many believe wealth is an escape from accountability for their actions.

There are plenty of examples of people who acquire power and wealth to bypass the law. It seems to me it’s a crapshoot. Harvey Weinstein and Jeffrey Epstein come to mind. It’s disgusting and pathetic. Of course, there’s always the option to shut the fuck up and not hurt people who are already being murdered damn near daily just for existing.

I’m so tired of people who use their power and privilege to amplify hate. Enough already. Human life is more valuable than money, stuff, phony reputations, etc. Stop adding to the pain and suffering of those with enough on their plates, trying to eke out an existence from what trickles down. Time is up. Do better and grow or get the fuck out of the way.

To those who are also devastated by this revelation, please know you’re loved and seen by me. I value you and admire you for having the courage to be yourself. You deserve a better world where people treat you with kindness and respect. We’re all imperfect and make poor choices sometimes. What we do after matters. Brave and sincere people apologize, adjust, and get back on track to being the best person they can be.

All the feelings are valid (sad, angry, disappointed, etc.) Just remember, you can feel all sorts of things at the same time, and none of them means you have to do anything. If, like me, you were profoundly moved by the story of Harry Potter, and finally felt understood, know we can continue to embrace it. It’s part of our story now.

A Jedi does not think in absolutes.

I’m off to donate to The Trevor Project because I’m all cried out. 💜✌🏽

“He put my stuff in Jello again.”

sad person

Oofda, I’m tired and sad. Using my massager to loosen the knots in my body from tension is an hourly task at the moment. I have a headache from continually clenching my jaw. I’m proud of myself for slamming on the brakes, taking a deep breath, and working on regaining control over my emotions before allowing them to transform into a rage.

Yesterday, I wanted to throw all police under the bus as if we’re hive-minded animals rather than individuals. A lot of us are grieving the loss of George Floyd. His cold-blooded murder is traumatic. I caught myself before allowing my feelings to be the boss of my actions. I’m the boss of me. Nobody else gets to dictate my behavior.

I hope for justice and condemn the blatant criminal behavior of those who murdered George Floyd. They very clearly demonstrated the destructiveness of a complete lack of emotional mastery, hate, and racist driven rage. I reject their example. Instead, I choose to continue to view all humans as individuals worthy of my love, kindness, and respect.

When some individuals mistreat me, I remove myself, because I refuse to invest in self-delusion, hatred, and destruction. Life is too short and precious to waste on performative behavior. Fuck the fakeness. We’re all going to die one day. I choose to experience reality while continually building myself into someone I respect and admire.

sad person

Racism is reversible. I know multiple people who succeeded in outgrowing it. Nobody is born a racist. We receive systematic training to adopt racist thoughts and behaviors. White privilege is unfortunately named because it affects all people; it’s like brainwashing. We’re all victims of an unhealthy, vile, racist mindset that started being inflicted upon us consistently from a very young age.

The media and our education systems teach lies about our history and fraudulently vilify specific groups of people as scapegoats for self-loathing. It’s a scam. I’ve spent decades exorcising white privilege from my mindset. I don’t believe it’s possible to avoid this taint as an American. It pisses me off how much time I wasted doing homework for school, only to find out the real homework is reclaiming my mind from the lies.

Self-loathing comes from knowing deep down your thoughts and behavior are harmful (sometimes even deadly) to people, while living in reality led by pretenders who refuse to grow or acknowledge the fraud. Their claims and actions oppose each other. They dodge accountability for their crimes and persistently act to convince the world their wealth and or power makes them immune to righteous disdain.

grow

Anyone can claim respectable affiliation and pretend to uphold their purported values. But if their actions don’t match, you know they’re performing, not being real. Posers who put more value in how others perceive them than their self-esteem are phonies. Their ability to self-deceive is not a skill; it’s a severe flaw. They refuse reality and create a fantasy, then put forth great effort into conning others into believing their delusion.

They’ll do almost anything to uphold their false reality to maintain their image. It’s probably a lot of work to be fake. And the worst part is it’s never as satisfying as being real, because deep down, you know it’s bullshit, so you secretly loathe yourself. It’s no way to live. Fortunately, it’s a choice. Change is scary, but we all change all the time. We wouldn’t survive otherwise.

Anyone can decide to stop buying into the bullshit and take back control of their mind. We have amazing brains that even the best scientists barely understand. We generally hate being told what to think, but we’re all also subject to manipulation. Once you begin allowing others to decide what you think, it’s all downhill from there. It’s giving up your individuality for a hive mind.

I think our individuality is one of our best traits as a species. We have thoughts and feelings about everything under the sun. We’re alike in some ways, but we’re massively diverse in so many ways at the same time; it’s so cool. Collectively, I can’t imagine anything we can’t do as a species. I know we can outgrow the thought plague known as racism inflicted on us by long-dead cowards in history.

Just remember nobody is the boss of your thoughts but you. Nobody gets to dictate your behavior but you. Being fake leads to self-hatred, so practice being real and brave. Being vulnerable means risking getting your feelings hurt, but who among us hasn’t already survived that numerous times already? It’s better to respect and admire yourself for working hard to build yourself into who you want to be.

We’re human, so we’re going to make mistakes while we practice. Let’s try being kind and forgiving of the brave who choose to grow instead of self-delude. Let us not shame those who stumble on the way; let’s help where we can and grow together, eh? Fuck hate and fraud. We’re better than that. 💜✌🏽

“What has two thumbs and hates Todd Packer?”

human

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change. – Stephen Hawking

I’m surprised by the helpfulness of couples therapy with M and our new therapist. I’m delighted the therapist sees us both as human and doesn’t automatically disbelieve everything I say because I have a black vagina. She hasn’t shamed me for talking about my abuse. She informed me it’s far more common than I ever imagined, and my experience isn’t unusual by any stretch.

It allowed me to recall the fact that during one of my hospitalizations at the VA, there was another woman whose spouse was torturing her. We also both resided in the same town with a population of around 10k. I hate knowing that torturing people is a common practice in American households. At the same time, I’m glad my experience isn’t unique. (It feels too heavy to carry alone.)

I did also note that while we had the same catalyst in crisis, skin color had a tremendous effect on our treatment at the Sioux Falls VA. The doctors and other staff believed her automatically. They could empathize with someone who looked like them. I was silenced, shamed, and told I was no longer welcome at the facility. Later, they backpedaled through snail mail, labeling it confidential, and assuring me I was (now?) allowed at the VA hospital for mental health care. (I didn’t fall for it again. I’m still black. Duh.)

people

If rape and torture is part of your story, too, please know you’re not alone. There are therapists out there who recognize this is a serious problem and want to help us while we heal. No human deserves physical or psychological torture. It’s horrific behavior perpetrated by predators. Predators choose to act out their rage on the living by harming them, dehumanizing them, gaslighting them, and robbing them of free will.

For a long time, I fantasized about revenge scenarios against all rapists and torturers. I wanted them all to cease existing immediately. I still do. I just don’t waste time imagining how I can help hurry up the inevitable. Every single one of them is going to die—fucking yay. I don’t have to give a shit when or how. I see them as unevolved failures. They can’t even coexist within their species without deliberately harming others.

I’ve heard people say things like, hurt people hurt people, often accompanied by performative empathy. 🤮 Hurt people include every person on the planet. However, every single person on this planet does not commit rape and torture. We don’t all go around treating people like they don’t matter and only exist to satisfy our basest urges. Most of us are decent. Attaching the hurt one has suffered to their potential to harm others is basic shaming.

person

It’s telling abuse survivors, you’re less capable of healing, less likely to remain a decent person, and more likely to become a predator now than before you were hurt. It’s claiming predatory behavior is contagious. It’s not critical thinking; it’s an alarming lack of empathy. Words mean things. I don’t have control over what predators do to me. I have total control over how I treat people. My suffering did not diminish my humanity.

I don’t care about some people on this planet. I also know my feelings don’t give me the right to hurt others. I know rape and torture are horrible crimes, and nothing that ever happened to me entices me to take it up as a hobby. I will fight to protect myself and others from being harmed. I won’t create victims because I’m angry. I won’t punish those who are weaker than me because I don’t get my way.

I evolved beyond the emotional capacity of a toddler. I understand I’m not the center of the universe. I recognize my actions can hurt others, and police them accordingly. I possess the ability to apologize when I step on someone because I understand they have feelings. I honor free will in others. I’m not trying to force the world to change to suit me. I’m trying to adapt to the world as is, and simultaneously find purpose, joy, laughter, etc.

person

Beating someone up doesn’t make you tough; it exposes your weakness. Weak people harm others habitually and think it makes them dominant. In reality, it makes them pathetic. People who survive the violent tantrums perpetrated by emotional toddlers get to choose who they’ll become in the aftermath. Nobody else does. 💜✌🏽

“It would be better if you were unconscious.”

persistence demonstrated by plant in cement

Welp. The job didn’t work out. Unfortunately, on the first day, I wore the wrong footwear and injured my left foot. I probably pinched a nerve as it caused numbness that has since lessened to just my big toe. I got the proper shoes immediately and used some silicon yoga toes with elevation to speed up the healing process. I learned a surprising amount of useful information in this short duration. Such as standing on cement for hours requires proper footwear. (Like combat boots, she said, while consciously refraining from tearing herself a new one.)

Cleaning in the military is different than cleaning in an apartment complex. (I have to admit; this hurt my feelings a little.) Instead of systematically scrubbing everything from top to bottom, there’s this thing called a spot check, where you visually inspect for what looks gross and start there. Speed is more important than, well, sanitation. The mission is to make everything look clean. It required a compromise. Instead, I tried to clean using the military-style very quickly. 🤭 While this makes for an incredible workout, it still takes too long.

The Army has a saying: If you can’t find time to do it right the first time, how the hell are you going to find time to do it again? I’m married to it. The time commitment was higher than discussed initially, so I quit. I can’t mess with my daily exercise routine. It’s part of my wellness plan. I’ve played with it enough to know I can opt for an hour of cardio plus 20mg Prozac, or 4 hours of cardio per day to maintain homeostasis. (Sadly, neither scenario accommodates Cheetos.) My decision is weather-based because I don’t play with Mother Nature in the winter anymore. (I need my digits, lobes, and nose. I’m still using them.)

Scrabble tiles

The job accomplished the goal of getting me out of my apartment regularly. I also drove around the complex between buildings, increasing my driving confidence. I saw a schnauzer that screamed around strangers, and the pitch went up the longer the dog was uncomfortable. While it was carried down the stairs and out the door, I thought the glass was going to fracture. It was so adorable. Heh. I met an older woman whose date was late to pick her up for lunch. She was super pissed off, (and for some reason, it tickled me.) I said, what a dick, in commiseration, and she laughed.

I had to wear a sports headband and wrist bands because I sweat a lot while scrubbing the yuck as fast as I could. I had to sterilize everything, including my eyeglasses, after each shift. Pretty sure my cleaning ensemble, complete with the sweatbands, orthopedic shoes, cargo pants, and a t-shirt, was fashion-forward. 👍🏽 (Not nary a compliment was heardt.) I gained five pairs of the same pants, ugly but comfy shoes, some muscle, stamina, confidence, a creativity boost, and experience. Sweet.

Soon after I began the job, I had oral surgery. It was pretty extensive, and I still have stitches and soreness. Typically, I wouldn’t have chosen to be unconscious during the procedure. I went in with several questions, but after the doctor entered the room, I was satisfied I was in good hands. I quickly recognized I didn’t have to do anything but show up hungry. Siouxland Oral is fabulous. I saved the pain meds in my zombie bugout bag and used OTC ibuprofen for the first two days. It still hurts, but it would be weird if it didn’t. I get stitches out in a few days, yay.

I discovered my singing bowl helps the pain, which I think is super cool. I also found my blood pressure has been lower around whitecoats the last few times. (M taught me to use meditation.) Since I quit, I’ve been writing like I’m getting paid by the word. It’s like I’m an idea factory—short stories for the vault, for now. Ted Chiang and Ken Liu are having a considerable influence on my writing. I think Octavia Butler would have been just as excited by them. I’m off to band practice. 💜✌🏽

p.s. I’ve recorded one past blog entry so far. I sound weird, too. Heh. Guess I should have seen that coming. 🤭

“I’ve had a lot of experience with semantics, so don’t try to lure me into some maze of circular logic.”

couple separating

I know I haven’t said a word about the Beyoncè show.  I’m still processing the experience.  Spoiler:  🤯🤪🤩😁😍😭😍😭🙃  I finished reading a novel for the Gettin’ Grown podcast book club last night, titled, An American Marriage by Tayari Jones.  (It’s an Oprah book club edition.)  I’m surprised by how much I enjoyed the story.  Marriage is a painful subject for me.  (Skirting spoilers, sorry if I tripped.)

I realized about halfway through the book how much it mirrored my (former) marriage.  How circumstances beyond our control sabotaged both our relationships.  While the sabotage differs, the effects on those involved are remarkably similar.  It allowed me to see things from another perspective, where before I didn’t have one.  The way my marriage ended was so far outside my experience and understanding it left me emotionally paralyzed.

The novel brilliantly allows the reader to exist in the minds of the main characters, getting a complete and intimate view of their perspectives.  It’s like watching a movie filmed from the eyes of the actors.  All the minute details we don’t consciously collect are just so.  I lived this story as different individuals, and I understood their feelings.  I effortlessly adopted their thought language as my own.  I was male at times, and female, others.  I gained insight into how it feels to be a black man in America today.

marital tensionI’m intrigued by the writing.  Tayari Jones is an impressive author.  The small details and phrasing that stand out and beg for memorization are like Easter Eggs in novels.  I’m so glad I read this book, and I highly recommend it.  It’s packed with useful information about how to survive when your world explodes without notice, and it’s not your fault, and there’s nothing you can do to reverse it.

Everyone knows we’re supposed to get back up when we fall.  Thank goodness for the people that show us how.  I put a lot of trust in books, music, and art.  It’s because it’s people giving us their best after a lifetime of training and practicing.  Most artists have to compete fiercely even to get noticed.  I’m sure there’s corruption involved in who gets famous, but I’m excellent at recognizing unicorns.  They catch me up when I lose faith in humanity.

Even though I still get twinges from my mom’s spirit when fangirling over famous people, I hold tight to my unicorns.  My mom had an incredible record for being right.  I had accepted this by the time I was 12, merely because it was statistically logical, and painful to ignore.  However, in this single instance, I think she was wrong less than right.

mother nurturing puppiesI don’t think it’s unreasonable to appreciate the gifts these incredible artists give for little in return.  I love my obsessive tendencies.  They’re part of who I am.  So is my need to express my delight in what others give me.  I realize most people don’t study every interview with Stevie Nicks on Youtube.  They probably don’t continually reread long epic novels and marvel over the useful information presented in such an enthralling manner.

Not everyone wept (with joy) while watching Beyoncè be so Beyoncè.  I may be the only one who grieved the loss of my little sister with Amy Lee and her beautiful songs that expressed what I felt when I couldn’t find the words.  I’m probably the only one who has to listen to ABBA Gold on repeat to participate in raids in video games, (but I usually get at least three other people to sing along and celebrate their fabulous, universally adored music with me.)

It’s probably about time, but I think I’ve finally grown beyond the need to escape epic guilt by only doing what my mom approves.  Her stings from beyond the grave no longer rule me.  Instead, they remind me how much I needed my mom for most of my life.  I realize now she was the perfect mom for me.  She’s a significant, bright part of who I am, and I’m glad.  Even though she died, she’s always with me.  So is Beyoncè, Stevie Nicks, Amy Lee, J. K. Rowling, Sheryl Crow, Oprah, and so many others who nurture my spirit through their creations.

Here’s every word my mom ever said to me about spirituality:  Don’t take the bible literally.  She raised me up but isn’t part of my spiritual data gathering.  It tickles me (now) because her words were necessary.  I just laughed hard remembering what I was like before my mom gave me this advice.  When I was eight, we got kicked out of our church.  I recall my brother swallowing the Sunday School goldfish on a dare as the reason.  My inner adult suggests there were probably several prior incidents involved in the decision.

The Great Upside-Down Philosopher by Rube Goldberg

All my biblical knowledge came from songs I learned in Sunday School.  After we stopped attending church, I went through the house and stole all the bibles I could find, then hid them under my mattress.  (No idea.)  It’s also when my friendship with Jesus may have grown a bit obsessive.  I developed my continuous internal conversation with him (and stopped talking to anyone else.)  We talked about everything like we were aliens exploring and observing earth.

Now I’m starting to get self-conscious because I’ve never told anyone about this.  🤫  I assumed everyone did it.  (I still do it, but I often doubt my Jesus is THE Jesus these days.)  I suck as an atheist or anti-theist.  The more I reject Christianity, the more time I spend wrestling over it in my mind.  I forgot what it’s like to take a shower without weeping over the horrible, awful shit people do to other people every single freaking day.  How can I hate organized religion so much while also loving the people who hold tightly to it?  What kind of never-Catholic-atheist loves the Pope?  What the entire hell?

So I keep reading and listening and watching.  I don’t call myself a Christian because I don’t understand it.  I still feel like an alien on this planet.  I’m just thankful for these invisible connections that comfort and guide me through this maze of unknowns known as life.  I’m fascinated by how our spirits can and do lift each other up from even the deepest pits of despair without our ever even crossing paths in the physical realm.  I don’t understand it, but I love it.  I’m off to band practice.  💜