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How To Cope With the Fallout 4 Wait, Without Going Entirely Crazy (Kind Of)

19 Oct

Miss Fitting

The release of Fallout 4 in November couldn’t come fast enough. Every day is slogging by and I feel like a turtle stuck in peanut butter as time moonwalks past me. To put some jam in my life, I’ve decided to cope with the Fallout wait by crafting Fallout props. Lately I’ve been working on a Fallout 4 advent calendar, which counts down the last 20 days until launch. I thought I’d share these photos with others to help cope with the pain (or entice it).

Miss Fitting Fallout 4 Advent Calendar (Front) Etsy Shop: Stockpile Underground Miss Fitting Fallout 4 Advent Calendar (Front)

I found this drawer at a thrift store and decided it would make a great advent calendar. I washed it (I think) and removed the drawers and spray painted them a few times with yellow primer and then for the body I used a brilliant blue hue. Pictured above is what the front of the calendar looks like. Its measurements are…

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I was never one for boxes.

19 Jun

Sex is a basic human instinct. It’s on the lowest wrung of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as one of the fundamental human experiences necessary to accommodate higher-order concerns, such as belongingness, self-esteem, and self-actualization.

It’s something we share with animals. Males and females have sex in order to reproduce. Simple as that.

Some species have sex for pleasure, but far and wide, its purpose is to carry on the genetic line for survival.

What I argue — and what’s born out of this whole frustration I’m reconciling with my family and “what I am” — is that to define a human experience by something as basic as sex limits the potential for growth, not only individually, but as a collective consciousness.

My mother and sister — and I’m sure other members of my family who are trying to “cope” with this “crisis” that is my sexuality — have verbalized that they “just don’t think I’m a lesbian.” So “what are you” is where this conversation ultimately leads. And each time, I say, “I never said I was a lesbian. I’m in love with a woman. That’s it.” Still, it turns to categorization and associated meanings with that terminology.

What does it mean to be a lesbian? There are the stereotypical attributes of adopted masculinity, Birkenstocks, flannels, and unshaven legs. On the opposite side of what’s allowed on the lesbian spectrum are the “lipstick lesbians” who can still dress pretty and embody what it means to be “woman.” But that complicates this whole idea of lesbianism, because what does it really mean to be “woman”? I suppose it can be defined as simple as “not man,” which then calls into question what it is to be “man.”

Judith Butler builds her phenomenological viewpoint of sex/gender in “Performative Acts and Gender Constitution: An Essay in Phenomenology and Feminist Theory” (1988) in part on Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex which claims that ” ‘woman,’ and by extension, any gender, is an historical situation rather than a natural fact.” The distinction de Beauvoir makes is discussed by Butler as an underscore of sex; that is, a separation between “female” and “woman,” with “woman” operating as an historical situation, distinguishing “female” to be what Butler calls a “biological facticity.” Gender is a project to cultural survival, which calls to it a performance to survive “because gender is not a fact, the various acts of gender create the idea of gender, and without those acts, there would be no gender at all.” To fail to do your gender right, according to Butler, would elicit punitive responses.

The punitive responses are the objectification and isolation of those who challenge their gender performance.

I am not performing according to my gender. Therefore I am being punished by rejection. Which throws off my quest to achieve self-actualization (which is going splendidly, really, because I feel I’m not reliant on the biological, physiological, and safety needs, and aside from the acceptance by my family — who insists they love and support me, and I truly believe them — the social and esteem needs of mine are finely balanced and fulfilled, purely and simply, through my healthy and mutually supportive relationship with Smiles).

In an interview with Rosi Braidotti and Judith Butler (can you tell I’m a fan of Butler?), Braidotti discusses the linguistic challenges that arise in discussing feminism and gender studies internationally. Braidotti notes that “the notion of ‘gender’ is a vicissitude of the English language, one which bears little or no relevance to theoretical traditions to the Romance languages. This is why gender has found no successful echo in the French, Spanish or Italian feminist movements.” What is curious to me — and will likely be a further point of research — is how this is reconciled in the scholarship of Romance languages.

Why does this have to be a bad thing? To not perform to my gender? To not be “woman” because I’m not in love with “man”? To, perhaps, be “less than woman” because I’m not in love with “man”?

Why does my person have to be defined by a romantic relationship? Or better yet, why does my person have to be defined at all?

The impetus for this entire post came from a conversation I had the other night when my sister and I finally talked about my “phase,” which, I pointed out, I hate labeling as a “phase” because it wholly minimizes the very real feelings I have for Smiles who is, officially, my “girlfriend.” I asked her how she felt when her fiance wasn’t readily welcomed into the family. She said it’s different because he’s a guy.

So it’s anatomy, really, that makes this such a difficult thing to grasp. Because although he did not meet our familial “expectations,” he allowed her to perform in accordance to her gender.

Which is perfectly fine.

As is my difference.

My mother has always instilled in us that people are born gay, which I’ve always accepted, until I started to think about the limitations even that puts onto people. That very notion maintains that there is no fluidity to the human experience. You’re born as you will die. While you may learn things along the way and grow as an individual, your fundamental core can never change.

And that I absolutely don’t buy.

As humans, we like to categorize things. We like our boxes. We like organization. We like order. Aristotle’s “The Polis” outlines what it is to be part of and apart from a society. To abide by social norms and expectations is to reside within the polis, granting those the protection and safety of the society. But to be cast out of that is to reside with the beasts — gods and godly figures — those who are apart from the rest of society, and consequently the benefits of being within a society.

We also know from ancient rhetorics that the ethos, pathos, and logos are fundamental aspects to appealing to an argument. The very word “logos” is derived from the Greek word “logo” which translates into “word.” That designation itself creates order. It creates organization. It categorizes what is and what isn’t.

So as much as we try to legitimize sexuality differences as genetic “mutations” and can — while still somewhat anecdotally — serve as indicators of homosexuality, such as the notion that lesbians’ ring fingers are longer than their index fingers (mine are, if that means anything to you) that order is still limiting. There can — and I’m sure are — lesbians whose ring fingers are not longer than their index fingers. Should they be cast out of the lesbian world, strewn into the streets of heteronormativity, expected to survive on rain water and toe nails?

What I have difficulty understanding is why this should matter to anyone. If, at the core of the polis, is the requirement and standard for morality and ethics, isn’t character what matters? For isn’t that what “ethos” really is? And aren’t the restrictions and limitations we place upon one another based on sexuality (or gender or race or socioeconomic status or shoe size) contradictory to a moral character?

While I was performing to the expected cultural norm of heterosexual conquests, I was confronted with asshole after asshole, but it was okay because they were men, and because I was fulfilling my gender performance role. I was living in accordance to the ethics and morals predetermined by my polis.

What if we allowed people to live to their own potential, without judgment or the minority placating the majority? What if we stopped defining a person’s character by their associations? What if we opened our hearts to see the potential for the expansion of our own experience by welcoming the experiences of others into our realms?

If the relevance of the human experience can be whittled to appropriating relationships with the asymmetry of gender/sex difference, I’m not entirely sure I want to be included.

But on the flip side, the Hegelian notion of the self/not-self is how I sleep well at night, acknowledging that my existence is allowing those around me to experience their not-self, if only vicariously.

That, and knowing I’m in love with the most beautiful woman in the world — who actually loves me back — helps me sleep at night and start each day with hope and conviction.

— AM.

Mighty morphing body changers.

6 Jun

Smiles is, among many other things, an incredibly talented artist. She’s in an art show this evening which is accompanied by a reception for the artists. I’m not entirely sure all the details, but I do know that tickets are around $100 and because she’s an honored guest, as her “significant other,” I get to be her honored guest.

Win.

This will be our second major get-all-fancy-and-dine-with-people-who-have-loads-of-money event, and I’m ridiculously excited. We go to a lot of events together, but I live for the fancy ones.

So naturally, I went shopping on my lunch break.

I already have the outfit planned — an off-white pleated maxi dress with a black blazer and gold sandals; hair up in a bun, natch — but I needed to pick up some lady support to compensate for the extra padding that comes along with being in a relationship with someone who loves to cook delicious food.

I walked into the mall and catch myself smiling at all the shoes. Because shoes. I already have a whole room dedicated to shoes, including a high-heeled shoe chair. I also already have shoes planned for my outfit tonight. But I can’t help myself. Even as I engage in an angry conversation with myself, I can’t not try on a few pairs.

However, I do listen to my inner voice the second I brought up money, and decided not to buy the turquoise sandal wedges.

I then meander over to the wobbly bit section of the store to get what I need because I really only have twenty minutes to reasonably make my purchases and head to work on time. I grab the stomach-sucking-in-panties and buy-one-get-one free bras (now with more coverage!) and make my way towards the cashier.

But then I see jewelry. And I smile. Because jewelry. So I rush through to find a necklace that’ll match the earrings I have at home that I want to wear, only to find another pair of earrings on sale and a necklace that’ll go with that. I gather my things and head to the cashier.

But then I see purses. I do love a good clutch. Because purses. I spot this adorable emerald green clutch, also on sale, and seeing that I now have four minutes to check out and head to work, resign to the cashier.

The first checkout area I go to has a ridiculously slow worker and an even slower (but mighty adorable with her stark white hair — I’m totally serious; I hope to have hair like that when I’m old) customer. So I head to the other customer service counter, where I’m cut off by yet another slow (and adorable) elderly woman.

This may come as a shock, but I’ve always been fairly conservative. I still hide my tampon box underneath bags of apples or boxes of cereal when I go to the store. And my underwear purchases — especially the mighty morphing body changer ones — I prefer to be checked out by a woman who is older because chances are, she totally understands.

Behind the counter was a young man. If I wasn’t running so late, I would’ve walked around until I found my preferred cashier, but since time was a-ticking, I settled for the uncomfortable encounter.

As he’s ringing up my purchases, I reach into my purse (to avoid eye contact, mostly), only to realize my wallet isn’t in my purse. It’s back at the university, tucked away in a drawer. Because that’s where wallets belong. I explain to him that I’ve left my wallet at work, and he asks if I’d like him to hold them for me.

I think I have a shopping problem because while others might’ve considered this a sign to not make these unnecessary purchases, I said, “Yes, please. I’ll be right back,” knowing full well I had to get back to work. I scrawled my name and phone number on a piece of paper — effectively marking my territory on the to-be-purchased items — and head out the door.

I hurry back to the office to grab my wallet, then I hurry back to the mall.

When I walk in, there’s not one elderly woman, not two elderly women, but three elderly women standing in line at the checkout counter where my underthings are hanging out and about in the open, my name stamped on them.

I couldn’t not laugh.

At any rate, we’re going to look fabulous tonight. She is the Mexican Ellen to my chubby Portia.

— AM.

 

Well that wasn’t what I expected at all.

30 May

I’m in love with a woman.

And the best part about it is that she’s in love with me, too.

Surprise couple!

I’d say I never thought I could be with a woman but 1) that’s clearly  not the case and 2) I’ve been living on a happy little island called “Denial,” population: me and a liter of wine. I know I talked about a square peg and a round hole before. It all makes so much sense now why I’ve had so much trouble finding someone.

I found land — and struck gold — with her. It’s like fighting an icy cold current and succumbing to the acceptance that this is my life, and then suddenly I can stand on my own two feet on solid ground.

We met on my birthday last November. Barista Boy #2 brought her with him. I distinctly remember the second I met her because she has the most amazing smile. She calls it “malleable” and I think that’s a pretty fair description of her face. I was standing at the bar in my silver dress, several shots and a couple cucumber vodka waters into the evening, when they walked up. She wore red and has short, black hair that changes shape every day. I adore it.

She added me on Facebook a few days later, and I would catch myself feeling jealous when she’d post about going on a date with a girl, or post about someone flirting with her. It drove me insane. Then I finally realized that I wanted to be on the date with her.

I didn’t see her again until January when we had a writer’s meeting. We both write for the same local magazine, and I tend to write feminist prose pieces (surprise?) while she writes the horoscopes and video game reviews. We laughed through the entire meeting — which is why there’s a “no eye contact” rule our publisher bestowed upon the two of us — and exchanged numbers. Over the next month, we’d text periodically, but those messages started gaining frequency.

We’d go out to lunch, strategize about articles we collaborated on, and get drinks together. We even explored the tunnels under the city we live in. We never run out of things to talk about. She speaks in puns.

Next thing I know, it’s mid-March, and we’d spent nearly every day for two weeks together. I went to Las Vegas for a conference with BFF, and she was all I thought about. Her birthday was the weekend I got back, so I told her I’d cook for her. I made her Guinness beef stew and brownies from scratch. We went out and celebrated St. Patrick’s Day and took our first picture together from a friend’s phone. He sent it to me so I sent it to her in a text and said we looked good together and should take more pictures; we’re painfully attractive. She agreed.

The first time we held hands was after we compared the sizes of our hands — the exact same size — despite our height difference (I’m about 5 inches taller than her and have freakishly small hands. Seriously. It’s abnormal and hilarious to watch me play the piano. Or type. Or do anything people with “normal” sized hands can do).

I can honestly say without a shred of doubt in my mind that this is by far the healthiest, most beautiful, most supportive relationship I’ve ever been in. She’s beautiful and brilliant, and we can laugh for hours about nothing. Nearly everything we say is an inside joke that we both find delightfully hilarious. She loves my goals, and each day, we both end up pointing out one more thing about the other that we love.

She told me she loved me first. We hadn’t become official — and really, still aren’t “official,” although we have agreed to not see other people — but it just fit so seamlessly into our conversation. I told her I loved her, too. I realized it the night I picked her up from work and took her out to the lake to watch the sun set. I brought a bottle of wine and two glasses. We laid on a blanket, watching the stars come out, listening to the water lap on the cliffs and the crickets chirp. I wanted to tell her then, but I didn’t know if I was rushing into things or if I was making this into something more than it was. It wasn’t even a week later that she told me she loved me.

The hardest part with us is that I’m moving. I was accepted into a PhD program a 15-hour drive away. I have to go, and she has to stay. We both have commitments here, so we’re spending this summer loving each and every moment together, and hopefully, paving the way for something down the road. Who knows where we’ll be six months from now. Hell, who knows where we’ll be tomorrow.

I hadn’t planned on telling my mother when I did. I spoke to my younger sister about it all — about Smiles and how happy I was — and she was ecstatic for us. Then our conversation turned to telling the family. What do I tell them? How do I tell them? When? Who all can know? Certainly my strict, southern Baptist family wouldn’t approve. Would my picture be taken off the family wall? I was indignant. I am indignant. I don’t care if they choose to disown me. My mother is having a tremendously difficult time with it all. She has it in her head that I’ll never marry or have children. I told her before I even met Smiles, I wasn’t convinced I’d get married or have children. I don’t know how to help her cope, and I’m not entirely sure it’s my job to do so.

Little Sister’s focus — and what’s been the primary focus for my immediate family who have since been informed of my “life decision” — is what am I? They want the label. Am I a lesbian? Am I straight but just experimenting? Am I going through a phase? Am I just so lonely and desperate that I’ll jump into the first relationship that comes my way? My mother’s never believed in bisexuality, that much I know. I wasn’t ever convinced until I started realizing little things in my past and letting myself accept it.

Like when I was in the fourth grade, and my friend held my hand when we watched a scary movie. I felt the same way, lying in our pajamas in the dark and holding hands, as I felt holding the hand of my first “boyfriend” who ran for class president in the third grade (I was his “first lady.” How fucking cute was that). I kept it out of my mind because girls like boys, and boys like girls. I learned later that sometimes girls can like girls, and boys can like boys. But both? That’s just being greedy.

To be honest, I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if it really even matters when it comes down to it, because at the end of the day, we’re all just a conglomeration of atoms somehow interacting with other chunks, all whirling around on this tiny planet, in this tiny solar system, in this great big universe.

The only thing I know is that I love her. And that’s enough for now.

— AM.

7 Mar

This.

The Beatles were right.

20 Dec

I started this blog as a safe place to process the ridiculous things I somehow manage to get myself into without any of the ugliness of the world seeping into it. I never wanted to write anything serious, because I can deal with that in my every day life. But sometimes things change, and this is a necessary adjustment. So take this as a fair warning of a temporary no humor zone.

It’s always taken me awhile to process things; especially big things, like suddenly becoming a grown up, being alone, and calculus. What I, along with everyone else who’s aware of the atrocities that happened in Connecticut have come to realize, is there’s really no safe place.

In America, we carry on our lives with rose colored glasses. I’m fortunate enough to have lived most of my life not knowing pain, or hunger, or thirst, or hate. My parents did as all parents wish to do for their children: they protected us and shielded us from the nastiness of the world. They let us see the good things and experience love. I’ve recognized this more and more as I get older, because even though with all my education, I think I understand the way things work, I still have no clue and I don’t think I ever will. So much surprises me, and I don’t know how to process that.

I have an undying sense of hope in me; an innate trust of all things good, because that’s what I’ve known. Even as a child, after being warned not to stick my fingers into the rabbit cage because it does indeed bite, I repeatedly inserted each one of my tiny fingers between the bars because I thought I could change the rabbit because I trusted it. Bloodied and bandaged, I had only a couple fingers left before I gave up.

And as easy as it is right now to give up because the whole world is bloodied and bandaged with just a few fingers left, I have to remember why I kept trying. We all have to remember why we keep trying. I go through phases where I refuse to watch the news because it hurts too much to see the pain that I’ve never had to live through because I feel like I’m being selfish; like I’m spoiled because I’ve had it so easy. And I feel guilt.

I was in the third grade in Colorado when the shootings at Columbine happened. Before then, we’d never practice code red drills. My older sister and cousin who lived with us were in high school, and I remember being terrified it’d happen to them. I can still remember practicing in my head what, exactly, I would do if someone came into my school. I’d pretend to be dead already. I was small, and I knew I couldn’t fight. So I’d lay there and hope it’d be over soon. And I remember thinking how silly I was being; people don’t kill kids.

As a teacher at a university and community college, part of the training I go through is brief preparation for what to do if there’s a dangerous person on campus. I have campus security on speed dial. I often dream that I’m being overtaken by someone as a way for my subconscious to make a plan. That’s something my mother always taught me: have a plan for every possible situation. So I practice in my head. I have my whole life.

The news and social media networks are riddled with opinions about what to do in the wake of the 27 murders — the shooter’s mother, 6 women at the elementary school, and 20 children; babies. Some say tighten up and enforce current gun control laws. Others say completely ban all weapons. Some are up in arms about the thought of their guns being taken away, while others focus on the need to reevaluate our mental health system in the United States.

I don’t know what the answer is. If I did, I surely wouldn’t be sitting in my pajamas, writing a blog about it in the warm, comfort of my home. The only thing I know how to do is cry, which I hate, because I’m not one for tears. I don’t really think anybody knows the answer.

What I do know is we’re bleeding. Not just America, but the whole world. Senseless deaths happen all too often, and for what? And how do we remember them? By blaming machines? By locking up those who think differently than the rest of us? By interviewing children who witnessed this travesty and blasting it on news outlets for ratings? By becoming even more divided, ensuring a complete political gridlock?

A writing prompt I often give my students is “The world needs more…” and almost every time, several students give the same reply: love. It sounds so simple and so cliche. It’s cliche because it works. It’s cliche because it’s true. One thing I have noticed after the shootings is the outpouring of love. I hope it doesn’t stop.

I’m still trying to process this. Like I said, I’m a little slow, and something so unknowable now has to be known.

I joke about not wanting kids, but in all honesty, I want to be a mother someday. I always have. And even though there are terrible, ugly things in this world, I have to keep remembering the beautiful things and trying to give the world a little bit more of what my students all say. And even though those lives were cut too short and in such a violent, horrible way, they had a small time on this earth, and their death is an awful reminder of just how mortal we are and how important it is to love.

–AM .

post publish edits

I can’t stop thinking and I can’t stop being angry at the conversation surrounding the shooting.

The biggest thing I think we forget is that it takes a village to raise a genius; an idiot; a hero; or a murderer. We created this. We don’t support each other like we should. We don’t empathize. We don’t find solutions, but rather, create more problems and frustrations in line with stringent partisan agendas. We’ve lost our sense of community, and I think that’s what hurts me the most. The only sense of community I ever see is in the short time after a tragedy. And when I say “short,” I really mean miniscule. Within hours of the news, people were already arguing and setting up their camps.

That’s not community. That’s not helpful. That’s not productive.

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