Mother Dearest


It has been a fabulous summer. A perfect balance of hot and sunny, cool and rainy, humid and sleepy. With Astasia's leg back in working order, we've been keeping very busy doing all things that are impossible in a wheel chair. It has been a wonderful break. In just under two weeks we will have our engagement party, and my aunt and uncle will visit, as will my very good friend Chimwemwe, who I haven't seen in years. I'm really looking forward to it.

Thus, with her always impeccable timing, my mother sends me a letter about how in her expert opinion, Astasia (who she's met once, and spent precious little time with) is controlling and manipulative, has hijacked my ability to think independently, and is bringing out the worst in me - causing me to be rude and disrespect my family.

Now, there's really nothing new in this letter. I know my mom hates that I'm out here, living, as she says "as a lesbian," and that she resents Gwen because of it. I know she thinks it's all horribly sinful, based on her religion. But I had been nurturing a seed of hope. I had been telling myself that given enough time, if I just said it the right way, somehow, maybe, one day.....

But I think I was fooling myself. I think my mother is too stubborn. I think her faith is too well armored against reason or logic. I think I just gave up on ever having her support or affirmation. It feels a little like losing her altogether.

My mom and I have never been close, and we have always butted heads. She has never liked the way I thought or dressed or did my hair. I didn't think it would bother me so much to lose my mother. I think I'm starting realize that the reason it does bother me is because this scenario is one we've been playing out since I was a child. I've never really had her support or affirmation or pride. She's always been very invested in who she wanted me to be. No wonder we weren't close. We didn't know one another at all. The daughter she loves so much doesn't actually exist.

I feel like an orphan. The weird thing is, I've always felt like an orphan. I felt like an orphan when I was six. It's almost enough to make me reestablish contact with my dad.

But not quite.



I always fool myself when it comes to the end of a semester, thinking it will be so good to have a nice long break. How good it will be to sleep in, not have to work all day, not have to commute, not have to think.

It is not fucking nice.

The weekends are nice. Astasia and I can actually spend time together. But on Monday she's off to work, and I'm left to decide how I'll spend my day, and somehow make myself actually spend it that way. But going from the constant pressure to complete an uncompletable amount of work and make endless decisions about proportions, materials, colors, door placement.... (the list goes on) to this..... I have been wallowing in a sort of depression that makes it hard to even eat, never mind structure my day and accomplish anything.

Sunday night I slept from 10 pm till 2 am. Unable to sleep and not wanting to prevent Astasia from sleeping, I finished reading Brothel by Alexa Albert, a book I had started on Sunday evening. I had been interested in the book because I recognized the particular brothel it was about, Mustang Ranch, from a radio show on Playboy Radio that Astasia and I had listened to last summer.

Brothel: Mustang Ranch and its Women tells the story of a Harvard Medical student who gained access to Mustang Ranch in order to conduct a public health study on condom effectiveness, and ended up making repeated visits and becoming an installment in the brothel's culture. The book talks about Nevada's history with legalized brothel prostitution, how the brothels are run, the various reasons that women work in the brothels, and the social issues that surround legal brothel prostitution.

Put simply, the book is fascinating.

There are any number of aspects of this book that I could discuss, but unless you all read it and come back and discuss it with me in the comments thread, I'd feel like I was just talking to myself. Which I probably am anyway..... I'll just pretend that somewhere out there is interested in my book recommendations. I recommend this book highly. You will learn a lot, and think a lot too.

One thing that I would like to write about here, however, is the ever-present-in-my-mind issue of gender essentialism in our culture and how much I dislike it. Mustang Ranch, for example, has only female workers who only service males. Women are not even allowed in the front gate. (Which is to say, that if I ever wanted some gay for pay action, I can cross Mustang Ranch off my list of tourist destinations). There is one part of the book that talks about the men who frequent the ranch, painting them in a rather tragic light, and this is a part of the book I had a hard time getting behind. The virgins who can't get laid, the married men who can't ask their wives for certain things, the socially awkward, the commitment-phobes, they need sex, and if they're willing to pay for it, and women willing to sell it to them, why shouldn't these poor souls have their needs met? This is the tone of one of the sex workers, and okay, I see her point. Men have needs right? Sex is very important to most men.

But sex is important to women too. There are female virgins who can't get laid, married women whose husbands can't satisfy, socially awkward women, commitment-phobe women, they all want to have sex too. It's a societal assumption that the sexual needs of men surpass those of women, that their hunger runs deeper. So we are not surprised to hear of men buying sex for whatever reason. In every city, whether legal or not, there are places that men go to buy sex.

I guess I just don't think the situation is so dire for those men. I think it's the way if a woman gets sick she's expected to tough it out and get better while getting the laundry done and dinner on the table but if a man gets sick he's on the couch with a thermometer and a blanky and woman doting on him with chicken noodle soup and a gentle hand on his forehead.

Cheating aside, if you just really wish someone would tie you down and whip you with a crop while plunging dildo into your ass, you should bloody well be able to fork over an exorbitant sum of money to have it done. But a man doesn't need this more than the woman who wants the same.

I don't know. Does the societal attitude that men's need is so much greater contribute to the prominence of men seeking out sex for pay? Were societal attitudes reversed, would the Mustang be filled with men? Is this another part of male privilege?

Go read the book and then come talk to me. I'm soooooooo bored.


Okay, yes. I have been absent. And yes, I have had a heavy workload at school, which is only likely to increase until the semester's end.

But if I was going to be very honest, the truth is I have been on Tumblr. And it's not that I love Tumblr more than you, it's that I haven't had the mental stamina to do anything more complicated than click "<3" on photographs of naked women.

Scouring the internet for photos has brought me to Jiz Lee.

Jiz is a gender queer porn star. I know that Astasia has written about Jiz. We are both crushing pretty hard, but I think for very different reasons.

I want to be Jiz. Which is not to say I want to be a porn star, because I don't. Well maybe a little, but not really. I think what's remarkable about Jiz is that they manage to be so very androgynous, so very contrary to what our society tells us we need to be in order to be attractive, and yet so very fucking hot. So unbelievably magnetic.

I never really felt like a woman. And I didn't want to look or act like one. And I didn't want to become a man either. I lived in this ambiguous middle place, where I could be attractive, but only at the expense of my own truthfulness. It had never occurred to me that the way I felt about my gender expression was an actual thing, with a name, and a niche, and porn stars, and I could be that way and feel sexy on my own terms.

It feels significant to me, to feeling okay about who I am.

I got a very short haircut, and I look like myself again. It feels so good, and right. Astasia thinks I look hot this way. Just the way I am.

Sometimes putting a name on something is a way of limiting it, but in this case, I think it has given me a type of freedom. Room to breath. Language for my feelings.

Anyways, for photos of androgynous individuals, my tumblr is Androgynish. Sometimes NSFW.



The 'P' stands for 'Promised' and 'town' stands for 'Land.'

This is a town where every store is a unique, independent collection of quirky items. The coffee beans are all organic. Art Galleries are sprinkled throughout. Little courtyards of shared outdoor space are hidden away between houses and down alleys. Houses are clad in rustic cedar shakes, instead of that hideous vinyl siding. Every car has a dog. Every cafe has a water bowl.

More importantly, the P-town zip code has the highest concentration of same-sex households in America. The reading I've been doing attributes this to P-town's early reputation as an ideal summer retreat for artists and the establishment of several art schools and a theatre group. As the town became known for a place where eccentric people were accepted, it became a destination for gay people looking for a place where they could also feel accepted.

Now it is a place with a rainbow flag on every corner. If gay people are not a majority, they are at the very least normal here. Normal. Not worth remarking upon. Perfectly commonplace.

Even in the liberal environment of New England, I sometimes feel like an abnormality, like I need to make delicate use of pronouns, like there will always be this moment of awkward hesitation after telling someone new that my fiance is a woman, not a man. Like I'm satisfying the butch dyke stereotype by identifying certain male qualities.

Here I'm just another tourist, and it's not unusual that I'm holding hands with a woman, and I exist somewhere on a spectrum of gender expression. And there's a corgi in the cafe - INSIDE THE CAFE - that doesn't seem to know how unusual her particular experience is.

I don't think people realize, even I don't often realize, what it's like to be constantly aware of different-ness. To have in the back of my mind that most of the people I meet are are alike to one another in a way that they are different than me, and their sheer numbers mean that my life, my freedom, are essentially in their hands. I am able to live openly as an out lesbian because the straight people permit it. Even should the laws protect me, they do not force social acceptance. In the world of the straights, I exist thanks to the generosity of those around me.

What if there was a place where that wasn't the case? Is P-town a glimpse of what that would be like?


Self-Indulgent Complaints

I'm supposed to be writing an essay. I have 4.5 hours to write 4.5 pages. It's a boring-ass paper about Emerson's conception of the human soul, as compared to Conrad's conception of the human soul. Who cares? I'm a fucking architect student. I'd like to write a paper on my conception of a house that would reflect Conrad's conception of the human soul (it's black, in case you were wondering). Forget Emerson altogether, he apparently has never read the news and has no idea what horrible things those that "follow their genius" are capable of. For him I'll build a padded room.

All of which is to say, I now have 4.25 hours to write 4.5 pages of an essay I haven't yet found quotes for, which makes it a perfect time to write a blog. I would rather write a blog, with no preconceived idea about what I'm blogging about, than do this ridiculous arbitrary exercise where I compare and contrast the self-important ideas of outdated thinkers who are dead.

Here is a list of things I'd rather do than write this pointless essay:

Watch gay porn
Do housework
Put on Make-up
Beat my head repeatedly against a wall
Drink unsweetened soy milk
Catch the Swine Flu
Do strength training with the Swine Flu
Slip on the icy driveway and break my brittle old lady hip
Any of my other homework

That's just a taste.

/whiny bitchy school rant

I'll be back with a real post later.


Coming Out Never Ends

Nezu's post about coming out has reminded me of an issue I need to resolve at some point very soon. Instead of trying to write about it all over again, I'll just quote myself like a self indulgent bastard.

"You've reminded me that I have an aunt I am/was very close to. After coming out to my family (who were categorically against acceptance) I was too scared to tell my aunt. I couldn't handle any more rejection from someone I love. So I put her out of my mind, stopped contacting her, and now it's been nearly two years. All she knows is that I'm off at school and staying with a friend. Now my "friend" and I are getting ready to send out engagement notices, and my aunt doesn't even know (at least I haven't told her) that I'm gay. I guess I should do something about that."

Some additional context: When I was starting to question the legitimacy of biblical literacy, this aunt was the one who told me it was okay to ask questions. She told me I was right when I felt I couldn't trust the mainstream christian writers to answer the questions I had. She told me I should explore all I needed to, and that she wasn't worried about me. She thought I'd figure out what I needed to figure out.

This aunt is my father's sister. She is the one I called when my dad's family was imploding (exploding? self destructing?) and she is the one who talked me down from fits of uncontrollable sobbing. She is the only one from my dad's immediate family who isn't completely fucked up, and she's always been my support when my dad was being a douche.

This aunt has been unbelievably cool. But she is still one of them. A Mennonite. I'm so afraid that, for all her encouragement, she will think I've finally gone too far, that this is the point at which she can no longer support me. I will be so disappointed in her reaction, because I will have hoped beyond hope that she wants me to be exactly who I am, and happy as well. I don't believe that she can accept a gay niece.

But, when I'm really honest, I know that I need her. My dad has fallen off the grid. He doesn't talk to me or my sister. He just lives alone out in the woods, brainwashing my little brother and planning to run off to the philippines to get married. She's the only one who knows him, but he doesn't talk to her either, since she refused to bail him out of jail that time. She might not even know what's going on, that my stepmom has left the province, that their marriage is finally over, that my dad almost died in some kind of accident. She should know, right? Could she shed some light on the situation?

So, Aunt W...... you know that friend, well I'm gay, and she's my fiance, and want to come to the party?

Even at times when I know what the right thing is to do, I'm afraid that if it doesn't well, it will put me in a tailspin that will make it impossible for me to focus on my schoolwork and get through this semester.

Yet, time is of the essence. I don't know. I don't want to deal with it. But I have to, because she matters.


Community Standards

I grew up feeling at odds with the world even before the possibility of being gay entered my consciousness. I constantly felt that the world around me was trying to force me into some kind of mold that didn't fit. I was constantly objecting to the categories people would want to place on me. Kids, especially in high school, do that all the time. You belong to a group, and there's a list of identifiers to indicate which group that is. You can be a goth, or a punk, or a nerd, or an outcast, or a jock, or one of those terrifying popular girls.

Here's what you cannot be - a popular girl with a punk haircut. A goth with a letterman jacket. You can't roll with the nerds if you fail your bio test. And you can't be a jock if you've made friends with an outcast.

I remember hearing a lot about the way I should be dressing, how I should be acting, how I should go out and make more friends, how I should stay in and study for better grades. Why don't you grow your hair, you WOULD look so pretty if you'd only dress nice.

Being gay, you get used to the rest of the world making arbitrary decisions about you, how you should look, act, what kind of relationships you have, which contracts between consenting adults you are allowed to participate in. When you are a lesbian you must wear flannel, have a short hair cut, behave abnormally masculine - and when I think about it now - at least a little mentally ill. When you are a gay man, you must speak with a lisp, wear skinny jeans and mesh shirts with no sleeves. We want to know what you are when we look at you. We want the way you act to be consistent with who we think you are.

This is not news to anyone, and I've addressed this topic before. However, I've noticed an interesting phenomenon, the more I read about, watch shows about, and study the world of non-gender normative individuals.

I would expect people who are not gender normative to be extra sensitive to the sort of categorizing and stereotyping I've been talking about, but it seems they are all doing it to each other!

You have your gold star lesbians, late in life lesbians, bisexuals (the horror) trans-people, drag queens who identify as women, drag queens who are men dressing like women (posers!) drag queens who are camp, drag queens who are glam, fairies, bears, twinks, butch dykes, lipstick lesbians, bois, the list goes on and on.

Sometimes the glam queens tell the camp queens that they're not real drag queens. The gold star lesbians won't date the bisexuals. The bears shun the twinks. Lipstick lesbians aren't real lesbians. Butch dykes aren't butch enough (I can still tell you're a girl!) Transexual rights, it would seem, are a completely different set of civil rights that apparently are less important, and don't even get me started on those queers!

Why, I ask you, is a community of people that has dealt with so much of this bullshit from society at large inflicting it on one another? We should be extra sensitive. We should be extra accepting. We know what it's like to have someone tell us that we don't count, that we're not doing it right, we should be a different way. We know that it hurts. Why then do we turn around and do it to each other?

This reminds me of a movie called Antwone Fisher that every one needs to watch, and not just because Derek Luke is the most beautiful man to ever grace a movie screen. It talks about abuse within the African American community, and how it was appropriated from their oppressors in the days of slavery. I honestly know very little about this, and would like to do some reading on it. Is there a general effect whereby oppressed people turn the abuse inward, to their own community? Or is this categorizing and judging behavior in the LGBTQ community simply a reflection of the larger culture we live in?

I, for one, am apparently a gold star lesbian (who thinks Derek Luke is beautiful) who is engaged to one of the dreaded bisexuals (who is a femme, and therefore not real).

A strange world we live in.


Does "Great"=Good?

In my Literature class, I am reading this book:

It is a book that takes place in Africa, a place that has changed my life for the better and I love deeply. The book begins with an apparent disapproval of imperialism and colonizing by European powers in Africa in the 1800's. This makes the incredibly racist notes in the beginning seem like attitudes which will be shown to be faulty by the end.

To be fair, I was expecting a very different story. The blatant offensive descriptions of the Africans in the book were supposed to lead to a moment of epiphany, a realization for the narrator that his dehumanizing of the African people was wrong. As it turns out, "Heart of Darkness" is a story about something very different, and merely uses Africa and her people as a backdrop and mechanism by which civilized Europeans are sucked into moral and mental depravity.

I am glad, therefore, that my professor assigned, as a companion to this book, an article by Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian professor and novelist. In his essay, "An Image of Africa," Achebe asserts that "Heart of Darkness" cannot be argued to be an ironic condemnation of racism since it provides no alternative to the attitudes of the characters. All throughout the book, Africans are described in animalistic terms, and in one of the few passages that suggests they are "not inhuman" the possibility is expressed as negative.

Achebe also points out that very few critics are willing to even approach the issue of racism in this book, and says that the implication is that attitudes that write off Africa as little more than a savage counterpoint to western civilization are so ingrained in western culture that it doesn't occur to critics of the book that a demeaning picture of Africa is being presented. I noticed as I looked to commentary on the book that the issue of racism is seldom addressed, and if so, dismissively.

While I agree with Achebe, the fact remains that "Heart of Darkness" is highly regarded in the world of literature, and taught in all sorts of schools, and is very well written and compelling.

So, should an extremely racist piece of literature be regarded as great? Should it be taught to students? Or should literature that presents a demeaning picture of certain people be relegated to the pile of outdated and hateful ideologies, along with Mein Kampf?*

*Not really, I just couldn't think of a more relevant example, at the moment.


Oh, Xenu!

"Therefore I commit myself to the Sea Organization for the next billion years."

It's ironic that the contract states the signer is "of sound mind." Clearly, if they've signed this, they are not.


Missing the Point

New Hampshire poll shows powerful resistance to same-sex marriage repeal.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm thrilled that the majority of the people in beautiful New Hampshire are not interested in passing this Prop8 wannabe. Pleased as punch that, if not supporting same-sex marriage itself, they don't want to take rights away from people who have fought hard to gain them.

But it shouldn't matter what the majority thinks. The tyranny of the majority is a fickle thing. I have the support of the majority in this case, but that doesn't make my marriage any more or less moral or permissible or beautiful. Democracy doesn't mean that proportionately small groups of people get to live like humans when everyone else finally decides it's okay.

I appreciate all the straight allies to the cause of marriage equality out there, I really do. And gay rights would not have the foothold they do today without all the people who respect our humanity even while not understanding or approving of our orientation. But the votes in favor of my relationship do not render it worthy. When legislators and politicians get this through their thick skulls, I will feel a lot better.


Breaking Boxes

I knew yesterday what I wanted to write this post on, but now I can't remember. As school revs up (astonishingly quickly) the time I have to ponder on things I'd like to write about is shrinking. Maybe I'll just have to write about school. This would normally be a total drag, but this semester I have two classes which are so far proving to be intellectually stimulating.

The History of Gender and Sexuality is so far focused on defining and understanding the different words, phrases, and states of being in the vast world of sexuality. It is a place where students are expected to participate in the frank discussion of sexual matters. This is something I love, and don't get to do enough. Astasia and I are able to have these discussions, but most of the people I run into, especially my 19-year-old classmates, are embarrassed or mortified by such talk. This particular class, however, is an upper level class that was full of juniors and seniors before sophomores had started registering, and I managed to squeak into it by waiting for someone to drop out and snatching up the seat, rearranging the rest of my schedule in order to do it. This also means that I get to have a class with slightly older children, who are still much younger than myself. I'll take what I can get.

We talk a lot, so far, about intersex and transgendered people, so far, I presume because they really force you to challenge ideas about gender socialization, the way people are born, and the way society has changed in the ways it enforces gender norms. Supposedly we will move into American history and study the subject within those different time frames. It's the first time a class has excited me in quite the same way. I look forward to classes, even though I have to leave the house at 5:30 am to get there, and I love the readings. I feel engaged at every moment. It's exciting to have a professor with a sharp wit and humor discussing this stuff with us.

Gender has always been a touchy subject for me. I am, apparently, female. My mother, I am told, fully expected me to be male. She had dreams that I was male. She was shocked when I was not. These little factoids did not enter my consciousness until I was much older, yet I developed into what people liked to label "tomboy" right from the starting gate. I played with boys mostly, and sometimes with girls. I played in the woods, built forts, got dirty. I begged for toys like walkie talkies and legos, though for the most part I received more "gender appropriate" toys.

I frequently, as a child, wished I was a boy. Boys get do to fun stuff. They are expected to do fun stuff. When boys are sweaty, they can pull their t-shirt up and wipe their forehead with it, even if it exposes their chests. They can even take their shirt off altogether and bask in the sun, feel the breeze on their skin, play unimpeded. How very convenient for them. They can get dirty, they get all the cool toys. They make all the cool clothes for boys. Have you ever seen a thundercats t-shirt made for a girl? Have you? You haven't. Because they don't.

Yet, as I escaped the controlling influence of my parents, I found that I liked being a girl. I liked it because I could decide how to be female. I could have a custom made thundercats t-shirt made to fit my body. I could wear torn jeans and a wifebeater and fix the lawnmower. I could get as dirty as I wanted. I could wear my hair in a mohawk. I could get a job as a plumber and use power tools. I could do all these things and do them as a woman. I could express my femininity in a way that was attractive and comfortable to me. I could express it as a capable, strong, independent force, complete with T&A. As an adult, being female rocks. I really like it.

It's interesting to me, because I know that my expression of femininity is at odds with society's ideas about what constitutes femininity, and that is what compels people to label me a tomboy, or attribute my gayness to a gender identity disconnect of some sort. Society doesn't know what to do or how to react to those who don't fit into gender norms, so it looks for categories, disorders, stereotypes, anything to organize people into boxes that all fit together nicely. Society needs to know what I am. To myself, I am Grasshopper, I am all the things I love and think and feel, I am a complex human being with a complex set of memories and experiences. To the people who need to know what I am without actually knowing me, I am Grasshopper: dyke, or Grasshopper: Canadian, with all the stereotypes attendant with each limited label.

Those who feel the need to label an individual may make some assumptions that are right, but they are likely to be making even more assumptions that are false. It's interesting to me that so many of these assumptions are made based on the clothes we wear, completely external identifiers, and these assumptions do a pretty good job of ensuring that we never really know one another, not really, not in a way that fosters community and closeness.

I suppose in that way, we use labels and stereotypes to hold everyone at arms length. Sometimes, this is exactly our intention, other times I think we do it without meaning to. In both cases, we rob ourselves of knowing all kinds of fascinating people and benefiting from relationship with them, and all the wonderful ways they might enrich our lives with their defiance of our little boxes.


Ambivalence and the Tie that Binds

The last couple of days have been defined by project "fish tank in tv" and now that it's completed, I have had the opportunity to spend some much needed time with myself. The new tank is set up, filter humming. The tv with the moving pictures is off. I have been asking myself why I've been in such a weird funk lately. I have a tendency to understate the pressure I may be under, and I suffer from the refusal to ask for help of any kind. When the pressure is manageable and I don't need any help, I get by just fine.

However, as stated in my last post, I am no longer an island. Other people have to put up with me when I am wallowing in occasional puddles of quicksand, and there are people who would help me, if they only knew how. And I have been forgetting that the first blog I ever started was not a place for me to talk about things to other people, but a place where I sorted through the magnificent clusterfuck inside my brain in an attempt to save money on therapy. Here I am with a blog and the definite need to convert thoughts to words in the only way I've ever really known how. How did I ever forget the role that writing has played in my sanity for most of my life?

I suppose I let myself believe that "my readers" don't want to read "my drivel" and I should just write when I have something brilliant to say.

I don't have anything brilliant to say. I've been living without any kind of structure for about a month now, and that stresses me right the hell out. I never get up or go to sleep at the same time. I don't eat regularly because I have no routine, and no matter what I've done during the day, I have no way of knowing whether it was the right amount of things, or too few. Basically, I need to go back to school.

But I'm stressed about going back to school. All new classes means I have learn an all new schedule, I have to make all new friends. It takes me roughly one semester to make friends, and then it's over and I'll have to make new ones. Being back in school means that I switch immediately to the opposite end of the spectrum. I will leave the house at 5:30 am and come home around 7:30 pm..... if I'm lucky, and I'll have too much work to do all the time, it'll never be enough, and I'll never have any time for leisure activities. I will struggle to make time to spend with Astasia, or, god forbid, have sex.

Then there's my dad. My father has driven my stepmother out of the province, and now is busy training my thirteen year old brother to be as abusive as he is. They live alone together in a house in a backwater shithole of a town. My father has discovered facebook, which means he has managed to find some poor girl younger than I am to agree to marry him, but she lives in the Philippines with her tiny daughter. He wants to take my brother to the Philippines with him, so they can start a new nightmare there, the four of them, in which event I'd probably never see my brother again. Since my stepmother won't sign for my brother's visa, I'm hoping my father's selfishness will win over and he'll run away to the Philippines, never to return. My brother can witness what a douche he is and we can all be free of his bullshit.

But then, that probably makes me a bad person, because my wish for myself inevitably puts a young woman and her child in harm's way. I don't know what I'm supposed to do. If I do nothing to prevent this, do I bear responsibility for all the terrible things he'll do to her? Is there even anything I can do? Does anyone know a hired gun who will work for I.O.U's?

Since christmas back in Canada, the issue of my father, how much I hate him, how much I love him, and how much I wish me and my siblings could all just be free of him has been a constant theme at the back of my mind. It reawakens questions for me about my own upbringing, and whether I can break the patterns of my origin as I build a family with Astasia. I would happily die before damaging my own family the way he has damaged us.

But then, spending time with my mom and stepdad and the fundamentalism that defines their life and therefore my relationship with them provides me with an unwelcome perspective. It was likely my father's unconventional ideas and quirky influence that enabled me to step away from religion. If that's the case, I have a lot to thank him for, don't I?

Back to the fish tank. It is complete, and it was a lot more work than I expected it to be. I began the project with gleeful abandon, having wished my whole life that I could have an opportunity to do exactly this. In the back of my mind, I remembered my father, and the gleeful abandon with which he began all of his projects.

Then the project became hard, and tedious. The tank wouldn't fit and I didn't have the right tools. Work slowed down. I wanted to call it quits, and leave the project for a time in the future when I did have the right tools, and I had more time to work at it occasionally. But in the back of my mind I remembered my father, and the many times he abandoned a project midway through. The half built vehicles in the yard. The marriage he trashed shortly after I was born.

I will never be my father. It is the mantra I have repeated to myself since the day my mother told me she was getting divorced. I will never do what he does. If he does something, I will do the opposite. I will never ever, come hell or high water, torture, apocalypse, zombies, or plastic television molding melted to my cutting wheel, never no matter what will I ever be my father.

So I kept working. I finished it. Astasia and I set it up today, filled it with water. Soon Armani will upgrade to his new snazzy digs, and he too will have something to thank my father for.

This is not the end of the story, though, because I have to ask myself if my father is still controlling me. What if, from way over in that ramshackle house in Western Canada, though I haven't spoken to him in months, he still wields power over my actions?


Living Arrangements

I have been busy these last couple days. My "turn the spare bedroom into a living room" project morphed into a "turn the old tv into a fish tank" project, and the two things are keeping me pretty busy.

Astasia and I occupy the second floor of her parents' house, and we are starting to look for ways to make it more like our own apartment. Somehow, having our own living room makes a difference. The bedroom can now be a place of sleeping and sexing, and the living room a place of tv watching and tv destroying. Even the dogs seem to far prefer this new arrangement

Before moving here, I was an independent bachelorette. For five years I occupied a small two bedroom house in a poor neighborhood in western Canada, the last two of those years were sans roommate. Living completely and utterly alone affords one certain freedoms and privileges that other people don't have. The freedom to do the dishes once a month, for example, or live as though on a nudist colony. You can declare any room with a book case a "library" and then masturbate there, loudly, if you so desire. You can use Bruce Lee wall hangings as curtains.

Blissful as that sounds, however, I shudder to admit that I am like most people in that those specific freedoms are not worth the loneliness that accompanies them. I have always craved companionship, even when I refused to admit to it. I loved having sole control of the remote but I would have happily forfeited that control for some quality snuggling. In the library. Loudly.

Now I have the companionship I crave, and more of a home than I could possibly afford. In these days between holiday torture and scholastic torture, I'm attempting to exert some control over our small space. I have not yet declared any room a library. It's better that way.

It would be easy to feel a disproportionate amount of nostalgia for the house I once inhabited and the liberty I exercised while there, but I think it would be wrong to forget the reality of the situation, my extreme loneliness, DVD's played on repeat, the mouse infestation, the ever climbing rent. Sometimes when I live in someone else's house it's easy to say, " I remember when I could cook dinner naked and then eat it while watching Star Trek and doing ninja training during commercials" but the truth of the matter is I wouldn't go back to that life. Not in a million years.

Being part of a family means you trade in certain freedoms for privileges of far higher value. Freedom is meaningless without anyone to share it with.


Word of the Day...

My browsing as of late has been a sort of stream of consciousness affair. There was, of course, a shooting in Tucson. Much is being made of the possible effect of violent right wing rhetoric on loony nutjobs with overly easy access to guns. Since I don't frequent right wing websites or watch right wing news programs, I have not been witness to the apparent scrubbing of tweets and crosshair graphics, and I guess I'm not terribly interested. There will always be irresponsible jackasses writing irresponsible shit, and other people ready to blame the behavior of violent crazies on irresponsible jackasses.

But I said stream of consciousness, didn't I? From the shooting in Tucson I follow a link that says the Westboro Baptist church is planning to picket the funeral of the 9 year old girl who died in the shooting. So now I've moved from right wing nutjobs to religious nutjobs, and Astasia will attest to my obsession with religious nutjobs, in particular the Phelps family and their bullshit church. I clocked many hours reading about the abuse of Fred Phelps towards his family, and I follow the blog of Nate Phelps, one of three Phelps children who managed to escape their father.

But here's an interesting tidbit. What do Fred Phelps and the Tucson shooter have in common? They are both left wing nutjobs! I know right? I'm as surprised as you are.

It's hard sometimes to tell the nutjobs apart.

Speaking of nutjobs, my father is a nutjob. I'm currently watching The Devil's Advocate, a movie I saw for the first time at my father's house, when I was far too young to watch such a film. Al Pacino as the devil bears a striking resemblance to my father. The raised eyebrows, the gravelly voice, the declarations of selective truth as absolute reality, the uncanny charisma. The unjustified charm. The devastating manipulation. I remember being greatly affected by that movie, though in my religiously compromised teenage mind I was able to read something significant into just about any source. Watching it again, it's just a movie about hollywood-satan, his brood, and how they're all naturally lawyers. Or, alternatively, it's a movie about my father, how evil he is, and his skill at making everyone around him think they're crazy until they have no recourse but to shoot themselves in the head.

So, to recap. There are right wing nutjobs, left wing nutjobs, religious nutjobs, and prolonged-exposure-to-my-father nutjobs. The latter is not unlike prolonged-exposure-to-Fox-News nutjobs, but results in more severe emotional trauma.

Also, the world is not ending in 2012, as we all thought, but rather in 2011. I can't cite my sources as I've been jumping around from site to site with the randomness of a manic squirrel. My sources don't matter, of course, because they are all nutjobs and it's best if you don't spend too much time around them.


A Tourist in Shitville

I'm trapped in my parents house. I have no car, it's too cold to walk anywhere, I'm in a hardcore religious community where I can be pretty sure every person I meet is opposed to my basic civil rights, and ensuring equitable treatment is dependent on my ability to pretend I am not engaged to a woman.

Oh, sweet menno-ville, how I despise you.

If I had wheels, I could at least take a drive out to the woods where the log cabin I grew up in is inhabited by a pair of lesbians from the city. I could scratch their dogs and finally relax. I can never relax here. Someone's always waiting around the corner to be pissed at me for existing, of that I am sure. I can feel the laser sights on the back of my head. But at the Log Cabin o' Lesbians, I would be safe.

Alas, it is seven miles of frozen wasteland to my childhood home, and my mother and stepdad are both at work with their respective vehicles, and I am left to arrange visitations with the grandparents that can't be told what is really going on in my life, lest they have heart attacks and die, which could only prolong my sojourn in this horrid gulag.

It's like being in the closet all over again. Right now, I have no idea who knows I'm gay and who doesn't, outside of my immediate family. I had assumed that since a certain aunt does know I'm gay, the rest of the extended family would inevitably find out (come on, you know who the gossipers are in your family), but everyone seems to be oblivious. Clearly my mom is keeping her shameful little secret very well, so dropping the news that I'm engaged on any of these people would akin to the golden child of a fundogelical church announcing with absolutely no prelude that they had converted to satanism. So when people ask me how my life is going, I say it's good, I'm doing well in school. Not "It's fantastic, I'm happier than I've ever been and engaged to a wonderful woman who I can't wait to start a family with."

All that is to say, I'm keeping secrets again. It feels rotten. Most days it's just a familiar part of being in steinbach, but not that I've reached day 8, my attitude is getting rotten and my endurance is failing. I came here from a place where everyone who knows me actually knows me, where they want the best and happiest for me and support the relationship I'm in. I voluntarily vacated those premises to come here, and now I can't remember why. Oh yeah, I wanted to see my little brother, who has had such a traumatic year, but I won't get to see him anyway. I wanted to meet my new nephew, who's a baby and not any fun anyway. I wanted to hang out with my sister, who is the only other person who knows how shitty it is to be our father's daughter. I'm glad I did that.

But now I'm ready to go home. I'm tired of feeling like the odd one out. I'm tired of feeling like my happy life is the source of so much misery to everyone else. I'm tired of everything. I'm cranky.

Two more days. Two more days. Two more days. Two more days. Two more days......