Feminism is Not a Bad Word

I received a reminder this morning that Buffalo’s Women’s March is on Sunday.  I felt like a bad feminist for a moment when I thought “Oh, that is entirely dependent on the weather.”  I went one year and it was great; we even took the kids, who had a weirdly good time.  The thing is, it’s in January, and this is Buffalo, and the weather rules our days this time of year.  So, I doubt I will be making my way downtown on Sunday.  It is much more likely my sister, mother and I will go to the movies that day and see Little Women, which is, in its own way, solidarity. 

One time, after we went to the march with the kids, someone asked why I did things “like that.”  I assumed this person was referring to my beliefs in feminism and social justice, and the fact that I had no problem making my voice heard about such things.  Mark thought perhaps said individual was commenting on us taking the kids along.  “You know that 50% of your children will grow up to be women, right?” I said, getting a little heated at the wrong target.  He threw his hands up and reminded me that taking the kids was his idea in the first place.  It was.  I was just going to go with my sister, but he wanted to come and we had the kiddos and so…it was inevitable.  In the end we all had a good time and the only slightly awkward moment was L asking me what a design was on a poster: it was a uterus.  I told him it was the part of the body women had for keeping a baby safe to grow.  He said “cool” and then ran over to explain it to M.

Anyway, I remember how furious I was after.  This person so enraged me, and I was even madder at myself for letting that happen.  But you see…this wasn’t one of my old foes.  This wasn’t an old white man who pines for the fifties.  This wasn’t some incel creep with a vendetta against his high school girlfriend.  This wasn’t even just a slightly ignorant young dude who needed to learn how the system works.

THIS WAS A WOMAN MY AGE.

That’s what got me.  That’s what sent me over the edge.  See, I’ve had plenty of years of experience explaining feminism to dudes….let’s take Mark for example.  Took Mark many a year to realize he actually was a feminist, and even longer to say it.  Because men are taught that “feminism” (which, by the way, means equality of the sexes and literally nothing else) is a bad word.  And apparently, some women pick that up along the way as well.

How, I will never understand. 

I mean…do you like making 78 cents on the dollar?  Do you think you don’t deserve the right to vote?  Or hold property?  Or have your own bank card?  Or testify in your own defense?  Or go to college?  Hell, read any book you want? Or wear pants???

FEMINISM GOT YOU PANTS.

There is not a woman alive who has not benefitted from feminism, so when they question it, I get a little annoyed.  Men benefit too, but I’m legit not talking about you guys today.  I’ll save that one for another post, likely when some old guy with too many opinions on my uterus slides into my DMs.  Today is for the ladies, specifically the ones that “don’t need” feminism.  They are so unaware of the things we still battle…domestic violence, sex trafficking, abuse in any form.  Most women know the 1 in 4 statistic.  1 in 4 women is sexually abused or assaulted.  I have two daughters.  That’s a 50% chance.  And you think I’m not going on the goddamn defense?!

I don’t usually think of the person that riled me up at all, so when she pops into my head like this it’s kind of maddening.  However, I look for a silver lining and I find it: she keeps the fire stoked in me, so that I wake up each day ready to strike down the patriarchy she so desperately feels she needs.  I don’t know what has led her to her own belief system but I know what has led me to mine, and it is an undeniable truth that I am no less than my husband, father, brother, son…and neither is she.

Tales from a Sofa

Blog, my brain whispers.
Back off, my body demands.

I’m on my couch typing on my phone which I hate but right now the thought of jumping on the computer is unbearable. The idea of leaving my warm sherpa blanket and peanut butter banana smoothie is ridiculous. I would rather give my thumbs a workout on my phone than sit in a drafty room in a chair that smells vaguely like teenage boy.
I spent most of yesterday in the hospital again, lying on a couch in a waiting room and praying that the vomiting would just stop. I tend to sound something between ice in a blender and a velociraptor when I am ill, so that’s gotta be fun for anyone in earshot. The ER was very crowded, so I’m sure a lot of people hated me yesterday.
Today I am spent. M has a bug so he is here, but I refuse to be in the same room with him because if I catch it, that’s another trip to the ER. Mark took off to take care of us, which is much appreciated.
I didnt blog on Thursday and this here is hardly anything, but at least I got something out in my stupor. In 9 days I am having a procedure that will hopefully make things a lot better, and right now I’ve just got to hold on until then.
Naptime now, I think.

Damnit.

It’s Thursday afternoon and I haven’t blogged, so naturally what that means is that I am lying in bed after a morning at the hospital.

I’m cold and shaking and puking and in pain. Real fun way to spend the day.

Anyways, I will back when my stomach decides to give up this battle.

Deep Clean

Today the well is dry.

It is January, my least favorite month.  I have no topics to write about because I am exhausted from the whole holiday rigamarole.  It ended last night when we celebrated Sharon’s birthday and exchanged Christmas gifts with her and Kevin.  I ended up with a splitting headache, so when I got home, I went to bed instead of brainstorming blog ideas like I usually do on Sunday nights. 

M is with us this week, which is always nice.  Other than that, there isn’t much going on except me deep cleaning the apartment.  I started with the office, which is a treat because I always end up finding things that I forgot about.  This time around I found a picture a friend of mine took for a college photography class.  I framed it and hung it on my living room wall.  I moved on to cleaning the dining room, but I haven’t taken down the Christmas tree yet, which is the next order of business.

We had the kids this weekend.  I mentioned offhand that I needed to clean the bathroom on Saturday.  An hour later, E calls me to the back of the house and shows me that she did it for me, “So you don’t have as much to do tomorrow.”  When I say she cleaned the bathroom, she cleaned the bathroom.  She even put up a new shower curtain that I didn’t know I owned.  I gave her a pass on her usual chore of picking up the living and dining rooms because she busted her butt in the bathroom.  L helped with the laundry, managing to get five loads done.  M was on garbage patrol, running bags out to the cans for me whenever I needed it.  K didn’t do much, but she did work well with E to clean their room, which is impressive as they are usually bickering when left alone too long.  The boys even cleaned their bedroom, more or less, which I really appreciate.  Of course, I am going to go in there and vacuum and clean under beds still, but they got the ball rolling.

So, you see, there’s nothing very interesting going on right now.  I literally am writing about cleaning, probably my least favorite thing in the world.  But, I am very grateful to my kiddos for helping out.  I don’t even have to ask anymore.  They each know they have a responsibility to the household when they come over, and they fulfil that.  I just hope they do the same at their mother’s.

So, I write about cleaning because the well is dry.  I haven’t written anything besides blogs in weeks, and nothing substantial, not even a poem, for almost a month.  I am chalking it up to the outpouring of words that NaNoWriMo brought me; I went hard for a month and now I need a break.  I am hoping the muse will return soon.  In the meantime, I will clean my apartment and praise my kiddos and wait for inspiration to strike.

New Year, Same Me

You know what I think is a generally stupid idea?  New Year’s Eve.  And yet, I look forward to it every holiday season.

When I was young, it was fun.  We had snacks and stayed up late and mom and dad always made a party of it.  Then sometime in my late teens, it became garbage.  I remember going to parties out on Grand Island where I would get hammer-drunk and have no way home the next day.  I recant that: one year Jaime and I stole Steve’s car and drove home.  I honestly don’t recall if she had a license.  Let’s say she did.  (She was at least sober-I myself barely remember the car ride home.)  If I wasn’t on Grand Island, I was downtown watching the country’s second largest ball drop (Buffalo fun fact!) and freezing my ass off while sipping on a 15$ rum and coke. 

One year I went to my aunt Mary’s party which was close to home and all my friends came with so it was perfect.  That’s one year of celebrating out of, like, 20. 

I gave up on NYE halfway though my relationship with Mark, after we did the ball drop one year and decided it was going on the Murtaugh list.  We were certainly getting too old for that shit.  Now we spend it with pizza and booze on our couch and it has been delightful.  This year we threw Kevin into the mix, and spent the evening playing Soul Caliber and watching YouTube videos.  We watched the side by side of the ball drops (Buffalo and NYC) and then Mark kissed me and ran outside to bang pots and pans with Kevin.  (Side story: Kev and I grew up in a neighborhood called Riverside where people did this at midnight followed by a rendition of Auld Lange Syne at the top of their lungs.  We don’t know if it’s related to the neighborhood specifically or if our parents are just weirdos, but I do distinctly remember other people participating in this when I was young.  Is it a cultural thing?  A geographical thing?  Someone enlighten us.) 

1am found me in bed, sleeping soundly.  It was, overall, a good night.

The next day we rearranged the furniture on a whim.  Hubs decided we needed to change things up a little, so we switched the living and dining rooms and I have to say I like it.  Now we are going to do a deep clean of the apartment, because I noticed honest-to-god cobwebs yesterday.  I will admit that I am not the world’s greatest housekeeper-I am a creative, and I think that has something to do with it.  Everything has it’s place, but like…I don’t dust unless I have to.  I just don’t notice it.  And then when I do, I feel like a slob.  But it’s not sloppiness, it’s just me focusing on other things.  My mother tried to instill the whole cleaning thing in me as a kid and it never took.  If something is downright dirty, I will handle it.  If something is out of place, I will right it.  But that’s the extent of my housekeeping-daily management.  Deep clean is Mark’s department, and we are going hard the next few days. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about 2020.  My first thought is that this is what I always believed to be “the future” when I was a kid, so where is my flying car?  My second thought is that 20 years ago it was 2000 and I was just turning 17 and Jesus, that feels like yesterday.  My third thought is that I need a real resolution this year.

I usually don’t do resolutions, except my old standby: don’t eat any phone books.  It’s perfect, because you know you’re going to follow though.  And if you don’t, you have bigger issuers than just breaking a resolution.  But this year I am making one:  I am going to read more.  I haven’t read a lot these past five years or so because of my retinopathy.  I finally have a clear field of vision now, however, and want to get back to expanding my library.  I intend to keep track of everything I read, and to look at the experience as a learning one-something to help me better my own craft.  You can’t write if you don’t read and my current rate of maybe two books a year (and likely both Stephen King’s) is dismal.  Of course, I had my reasons, but now there’s no excuse.  I will be starting the year with my main man of course, and just started reading The Institute, which my father got me for Christmas.  Next up is some middle grade books-I can knock those guys out in a day or two, and they will help me with my new tale that I am working on.  Time to revisit Judy Blume, and find out what the kids are reading these days. 

So, in closing, this is my new year: cleaning, reading, and trying to keep my butt out of the ER, of course.  Those are my manageable goals.  Of course, me with my big imagination, I have other goals in mind, too.  Writing goals.

I wonder where I will be a year from now.  Will I be done with my WIP?  Will I have found a publisher?  Or maybe one for my chapbook?  Will I have a complete children’s book to market, with illustrations and everything?  Will I continue to have my poetry published?  Will my new idea fully form itself in my head so I can do NaNo again next year?  So many questions.  Only time will tell.

Happy New Year!

It takes time.

Thirteen years ago, on the day after Christmas, my aunt Ka died.  It was sudden and unexpected.  She suffered a brief illness and then swiftly was gone, and it broke my heart.

On Saturday night, as Mark was showering and getting ready to go to my family Christmas party, I received word that his favorite aunt had passed, suddenly and tragically.  I had a few minutes with the news myself before he came out of the bathroom, and I struggled with what to say to him.  I remembered the morning after Christmas, 6am, when Sharon (my other mother) came in the door to find me sleeping on the sofa.  Mom was bereft.  Sharon was the one who told me Ka was gone.  She barely needed to say anything, really.  I already knew.  In the same way that my husband already knew when he came into the bedroom and I said “you need to call your mom.”

Mark went to the party anyways, and I don’t know how he did it.  He did pull me aside at one point and tell me that K seemed particularly sensitive to his feelings…she knew.  She was sitting beside me when he mother texted.  She made sure he got a hug every twenty minutes.  In the morning, we went to Tim Horton’s and she ordered two cookies.  I was about to give a heavy mom-speech about sugar when she turned to me and said “peanut butter are dad’s favorites.  That will cheer him up.”

I expected Mark to check out from life for a day or so as that is his usual MO when someone dies, but instead he went hard on the Dad thing.  He woke up and played video games with the girls, then put up their new beds and helped them set up their room.  He picked out a menu for a dinner they could make together, and we went to the store to get ingredients.  We returned to him watching the Bills game, and inviting Kevin over for dinner.  He then proceeded to make some amazing spaghetti and meatballs, and then whipped out the Monopoly board.  He tried to go to sleep early but couldn’t, so we ended up staying up late watching Knives Out (great flick) and then I went to bed.  I awoke this morning to find the whole house asleep…STILL asleep actually, it’s now almost noon.  So, I can only assume they stayed up watching movies after I went to sleep.

Mark said to me at one point that he just wanted to have a good weekend for his girls, and wanted to deal with the grief afterwards.  So of course, I expect some sort of meltdown at some point, but I don’t think it will be that bad, honestly.  I think that having his daughters around for this shocking and sad thing has really helped him.  We hardly ever have just the two of them, but I think the universe knew that’s who Mark needed right now and made it happen.  He would call this nonsense, but I have enough belief in the spiritual for the both of us. 

I was really sad on Saturday night.  I cried at the party maybe three times, and not because of his aunt, whom I have never met, but my own, whom I miss terribly.  Usually I function with the idea that she is away on a long missionary trip to the Philippines or something.  Sometimes the delusion wears thin, and that’s when the tears come.  Still, I think of everything she did for me, and everything she wanted for me, and how much she loved me, and I feel at peace.  But that took time.  I hope Mark gets there-I know he will.  But, it will take time.

Everything does.

Christmas Recap

Well, Christmas came and went in a flurry of activity.  First, we went to my Gram’s for our yearly Christmas get-together for the whole family, which is large to say the least.  My anxiety was a little peaked and I wasn’t really able to eat anything so I very fidgety and in and out of the house all night.  We left a little early, and then I tried to sleep but couldn’t.  I don’t know how much I actually slept, but I was up and ready to go by 7:30, and we went over to my mother’s house to exchange gifts.

I was totally spoiled this year.  Hubs got me an air fryer.  Mom gave me an antique typewriter and a smoothie maker.  Bern got me a bunch of Betsey Johnson stuff.  Dad got me a new Stephen King and a recording of me and my Grandma Lois playing nail salon when I was seven.  That last one really made me cry.

It was a good Christmas morning.

In the afternoon I cooked dinner.  I made ham I couldn’t eat but everyone said was the best one yet.  I made apple bacon coleslaw, Italian asparagus, cheddar biscuits, and what I think was the best sweet potato casserole yet (that I could eat.)  For dessert, I made a traditional English trifle.  It was all delicious.  It was all exhausting.

By 8pm I was in my new Christmas jammies and sitting on the sofa under the Sherpa blanket I got from my sister.  I watched a little television and then fell asleep.  This morning I awoke to a mess, like Christmas whipped though my house and tore it apart.  I expect to spend most of the day tidying.  But first…I’m going to make a cup of coffee and enjoy the quiet for a little bit.  I haven’t really had much of a break since last Thursday, so I intend to savor today.

Next up on the holiday agenda is my parent’s Christmas party on Saturday, then the dreaded New Year’s Eve.  I would like to celebrate in some fashion, but no one has parties anymore and I’m not about to go to the ball drop again.  We went one year and it was cold and expensive and terrible.  I prefer to watch it on TV, thank you very much. 

Anyways, I’m off to find that cup of coffee and maybe curl up under my blankie and watch a movie before I tackle the wreckage left from Christmas.  May your coffee be hot and your presents be thoughtful.