Monday, June 30, 2014

On the SCOTUS Decisions Regarding Women's Rights...

(TRIGGER WARNING!!! For all the women out there, this post is probably VERY TRIGGERY. Please be aware of this before you read it.)
To all the men out there who have daughters, nieces, granddaughters or hope to have them someday, this is for you.

I want you to take a minute and imagine saying this:

“I’m sorry, honey. You don’t have the right…”

You don’t have the right to birth control pills, even if they’re deemed medically necessary because you have ovarian cysts or uterine cancer or any number of other conditions that require them to make your body whole and well. Because the men of this country have determined that the religious rights of someone you don’t even know – someone with a penis - are more important than your life.

You don’t have the right to protect your body from unplanned pregnancy. If you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex with boys. Besides, if you’re having sex that makes you a slut and a whore. So you deserve to get pregnant.

No, boys can’t be sluts or whores. Boys are exempt from that title because they have penises. And the needs of their penises trump your right to protect yourself. In fact, they are encouraged to enlighten everyone about their conquest of you so that everyone can know your vagina is open for business. And then you will be expected to provide access for other penises by default. Sure, you can ask the boys to cover their penis with a condom, but penises don’t like to be covered. You should have planned for that before you opened your vagina for business.

No. You don’t have the right to go to a doctor or a clinic and ask about birth control. Only sluts and whores ask to be put on birth control. If you do choose to do that, then you have to accept the consequences of that action.

If you do want birth control, you will have to walk the Gauntlet of Shame to get to the clinic that provides that sort of thing. You will be expected to look at pictures of dead fetuses. You will have to endure the insults people shout at you. You will be spit at and shoved by complete strangers. You will have to stop and listen to people explaining their religious beliefs to you. These people will also explain why you’re going to Hell in detail. They will give you pamphlets about it. They will attempt to block you from entering the clinic. There is a distinct possibility you will die in the attempt because some of these religious people believe the only way to protect fetuses is by killing the mothers. Yes, I know that doesn’t make sense, but the courts have ruled that fetuses and penises are more important than your life.

If you somehow manage to gain access to birth control, you will have to pay for it yourself. Insurance will not cover it, because it is a choice. It’s expensive, so you may have to give up other things to afford it. Why? You are choosing to be a whore. No, it doesn't matter if you need it for medical reasons. There is no good reason for birth control.

You could also lose your job for taking birth control. So you will have to do it in secret. Why? Your employer’s rights are more important than your body or your life. If they don’t like you taking birth control, you can’t take it.

And what happens if you do get pregnant?

Abortion is not a viable option. It doesn’t matter if your body is not mature enough to carry this child. It doesn’t matter if the child has multiple birth defects. It doesn’t matter if the pregnancy puts your life at risk. You will carry this child, you will give birth to this child, and you will devote the rest of your life to raising it, whether you like it or not, on your own.

No, the father doesn’t have that same responsibility. You’re the slut. You’re the one that allowed him access to your vagina. It’s your fault and your problem. Sure, you can make him cover some finances, but he doesn’t have to commit to the same degree of lifetime care as you do.  He’s a boy. His penis exempts him from the consequences.

Yes, you can get financial help from the government. But you will have to endure humiliation and shame to receive it. After all, you shouldn’t have had a child if you couldn’t afford it. Bottom feeder. Whore. Slut.

What if you are raped?

That doesn’t matter. There are religious groups who believe that pregnancy from rape is a miracle and their rights to believe that trump your rights to survive what is a life-altering violation. Religious rights outweigh your rights. Get over it. It was probably your fault, anyway. That’s the government’s - a body largely made up of penis carrying members - stance on the subject.

Okay, yes, there are places that provide counseling and help should you find yourself pregnant and unable or unwilling to care for a child, but to get to them you will have to travel long distances and endure the Gauntlet of Shame. You remember that? Dead fetuses. Spitting. Shoving. Religious shaming. Slut shaming. Death threats. Humiliation. Hate.

This is what it means to be a woman in America, sweetheart. Accept it. You have no right to make decisions to protect your body. There is no choice for you.

Can you see yourself saying that??

Stand up for your daughters, for your nieces, for your granddaughters and their rights. 

This is America. But its not the America I grew up in and its not the America I want my son or future grandchildren to grow up in. Women have the right to make decisions about their own bodies and their health.

(If you're curious, I'm the mother of one wonderful young man with Aspergers Syndrome. I was a shy, introverted, Catholic 16 yr old when I was put on birth control because of ovarian cysts. They damaged my left ovary and landed me in the emergency room. Despite that, my father didn't speak to me for 4 months after it because it meant I 'could' have sex. It was a traumatic experience. I never even kissed a boy until I was 19! Given the choice, no matter my circumstances, I would never choose abortion. That's my choice. But I believe its a viable, reasonable option and needs to be available. Same goes for birth control. And that's more than you need to know.)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

The Darkness swallowed me whole this week...

For those of you who suffer from depression like me – true depression, the kind that fucks up your life – I want to warn you this might be a trigger.

Imagine you open your eyes to find yourself standing knee deep in brackish water. You’re completely alone. The silence is deafening to the point that it creates its own kind of buzz. If you listen hard enough, you can almost make out words in that buzz, but the words are dark and angry, so you do your best not to listen too closely.
As you let your gaze travel the landscape, you realize that in every direction, all there is murky water periodically choked with thick reeds. Above you, the sky is a pale, grayish blue and the sun a sharp white light, both blinding and dim.
Something slides along your calf, and you feel the sharp edge of razor teeth. As you look down at the water that enfolds your lower legs, you notice odd, dark objects moving just below the surface. Whatever they are, these shapes are writhing and slithering nearer and nearer.
As you stand there, you can feel the mud seeping into your shoes, sucking at them and pulling you deeper down. You know you have to move.
You shade your eyes and look for safer ground. Far off in the distance, you can see the shape of a dead tree, its gnarled bare branches jutting up from the marsh. That has to be better than where you are now. But to get there, you must move in water that’s so dark you have no idea what lies beneath your feet.
You take a step. Your shoes squelch and threaten to abandon your feet, but you manage to keep them on. Unfortunately, as you move, the shapes beneath the water move along with you. One bumps against you, and again you feel teeth nibbling at your exposed skin. You let out a shout for help, hoping that someone will hear you, but your voice is carried off in the wind and it’s as if you never spoke.
You move again. One step. Two. The sun beats down on you. It should be comforting, that light, but instead it just reminds you how exposed you are. How alone. But you keep moving because standing still isn’t an option.
Your next step plunges you into a deeper patch of water. You drop down and the water surges up to your waist. The reeds slap at your face and for a moment you think you’ll plunge beneath the water. But you use those same reeds to keep your balance, grasping them in sweaty hands and righting yourself. The shapes beneath the water are twisting around your legs in a frenzy. For the first time, you feel the true power of their teeth as they tear at your flesh, ripping away pieces of you.
The tree is closer now, but it seems farther away. You’re frozen in place, waiting for the creatures beneath the water to stop feeding. And they do, though they continue to brush against your skin. The sensation is both painful and propelling. You can’t stay here.
As you lurch forward, breath coming in sharp gasps, heart pounding, they surge with you. With each step the water gets deeper. The mud sucks away your shoes. The reeds slap and scrape and tear at you. The sharp teeth bite deeper and deeper, sinking into bone.
And still you keep moving, taking steps as you can. Fear is your constant companion. Fear of motion. Fear of standing still. Fear of being devoured by the things that lurk beneath the water.
Eventually, night falls. In the darkness, chest deep in the muck, you stand and wait. You’re exhausted, physically and mentally. You can no longer see where you’re going and those things beneath the water have multiplied. They’re hungrier than ever.
The fear of taking a step that will send you completely underwater in the dark overwhelms the need to find safe ground.
You wait.
When the sun rises, you can see the tree. It doesn’t seem to be any closer. It sits on a small island of marshy moss. You work your way to it, determined to reach it before you’re devoured by the creatures below. So you take another step.
Only somehow, the marsh water has thickened. It’s like walking through molasses or hardening cement. Worse, the creatures are trying to herd you from the safety of that mossy little plot of land. And the sun beats down, searing your skin. The reeds slice and cut your hands as you use them to propel yourself along.
You’re cold. You’re tired. You’re in constant, unrelenting pain.
As much as you want to reach that tree, you find yourself wishing that you would just step in a spot so deep that you would drop under the water. It would be so much easier to just let the mud inside. It would be a relief to not come up again. It would be over.
But you push on. Time has no meaning. The sun rises and blisters and sets. The mud coats you, so that you don’t resemble yourself so much as you resemble a swamp creature. And still the things beneath the surface feed on you, bite by bite.
Time loses meaning. The sun rises, sets and rises again and again. And always the tree is there just a little too far to reach.
Sometimes you see groups of people running through the marsh like it’s a playground. They’re unaffected by its dangers - immune to it even - as they follow a path that you can’t see. Their feet dance across the water. Their laughter fills the air. You call out to them for help, but more often than not your voice is drowned by the swamp. Occasionally one of them will pause and make their way to you. They’ll pull you free of the mud with an ease you resent as much as you appreciate it. You ask them to wait, to show you the way out. But they race away across the water, leaving you behind exhausted and struggling to gain your feet.
It’s as if they were born lighter than you.
Sometimes you don’t call out to them at all because you know they can’t help you. It’s easier to stay buried, devoured and shredded, than to start over on a path you can’t see and plunge off again into the murk.
Sometimes you see others like you, plodding and pushing through the marsh. Sometimes you get close enough to reach out to them and pull them to a safer spot. Sometimes they do the same for you. Sometimes you watch them go under. More often, you just acknowledge each others journey with a weary look of understanding before continuing on. Each encounter leaves a heavy weight on you that burrows deep inside your chest.
You’re determined not to slip beneath the water despite carrying that extra weight of those that didn’t make it.
Eventually, you do make it to the little island, rising from the swamp, your body weighted by the sludge of your journey, battered, bleeding, but alive. You stand on that tiny piece of land, barefoot and flayed, not sure who you are anymore. So many pieces of you are lost to the swamp. You should be happy. You should be relieved. You made it.
Only there is no sustenance here. The tree is dead and withered. The moss sinks where you stand on it. You may be above the mud for the moment, but you’re alone, exposed, and there is no respite for you. It’s just a way station on your journey. A place to catch your breath before you plunge back down into the mire.
There is no end to this swamp.

The last few weeks, I’ve been fighting like hell to keep my head above water. Everything seems to be a trigger for both my depression and anxiety. I don’t have a good reason why - maybe it’s a moon phase thing or a seasonal thing or just a general weariness from being alone and isolated for so long. Whatever the reason, I found that every time I logged onto Facebook or Twitter and interacted with anyone, I was overwhelmed by panic attacks that had me head-between-my-legs freaking out.
My brain tells me things that I know are lies. That if I died, no one would notice or care. That those few people I do interact with on social media sites likely consider me a freak. That no one wants to talk to me.
I’m a fringe person.
I’m invisible.
I don’t belong anywhere.
Depression lies, I know this.
But sometimes it carries painful truths.
The truth is I am alone.
I am isolated.
My social interaction on a daily basis includes listening to my son expound upon various computer related topics, most of which I don’t understand and rarely am able to comment on. My husband never wants to talk about anything – and often will go off by himself when he is home. I’m pretty sure he can’t stand me. I know he struggles to deal with our son. But he’s too good of a person to actually bail on us.
I am largely a silent person. Sometimes I go an entire day without speaking other than saying “un hunh” a thousand times. Other than that, it’s brief conversations with cashiers at the grocery store and my Twitter feed that remind me I still exist on some level.
Some days I just want to start screaming and never stop just to hear my voice.
All of my friends and most of my family deserted me over the years because they couldn’t relate to my life. They have normal lives. They didn’t have to deal with therapies and doctors and special education services and all the things that come along with a child with special needs. He’s an adult now. They're still gone.
Some of them did it quietly and gradually. They slipped away without me noticing because I was too busy dealing with one disaster after another. Others broke away with hurtful words or ignorant statements. Some I was forced to walk away from or lose a piece of what’s left of my soul and sanity.
When my son was four, someone I love dearly said she was sick of listening to mothers like me complaining about their brats, and that if I just disciplined him and started doing my job, my son would be normal. She said that I wasn’t fit to be a mother. That’s the kindest version of what was said. The truth is it was much more ugly and hurtful. And that wasn’t even the worst thing that has been said to me over the years by friends, family and strangers alike.
I’m alive. I’m here. Alone. Freak. Loser. Dragging myself through the muck, buried chest deep. And oh so tired. But I’ll get to that stupid little plot of moss and gather myself up and keep on going because I don’t have a choice.
The swamp doesn’t get to win.
I’ll still be on social media, though for now it’s probably going to be limited to quick posts about what I’m reading or maybe some pics of my art. I can't handle the panic that interactions bring. I hope those who follow me will keep following me, though I’ll understand if you don’t. It’s okay.
You don’t have to pretend to be interested.
I get it.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Bitcoin for Dummies

There's a lot of talk in my house about Bitcoins these days. Kiddo is absolutely fascinated with them & has even tried his hand at 'mining' them. I have a rudimentary understanding of them, which is slightly better than Hubs understanding, so I attempted to explain them to him after Kiddo got so frustrated the conversation between them had dissolved to insult slinging. is my explanation of Bitcoins for dummies.

In order for it to work you first need a 'bank'. This bank has actual money that is converted into a Bitcoin. You also need a buyer, a seller and a Paypal like system of middlemen for the transaction to go through.

For my explanation, assume a bitcoin is equivalent to a $10 coin made up of 1000 pennies. In reality, because it is cybermoney it is made up of 1000 strings of code (numbers/letters/symbols) called 'hashes'. Its kind of like being handed 1000 promissory notes, each with its own secret code to identify it as a legitimate penny. Individually, these strings are as worthless as pennies, but combined they make up a single $10 note of spendable money. The bank is very careful to not only keep a record of each and every penny of code it has created, but where every one of those pennies are presently located.

Now, you have a person - for my purposes, I'm going to use a character from one of my favorite series - Jane Yellowrock. Jane is shopping on Overstock (which in reality accepts bitcoins as payment) and sees this incredible tunsten steel/silver collar which she absolutely needs to protect her throat from vampire bites. The collar costs $20, but can also be paid for with 2 Bitcoins. It turns out Jane has a very clever computer kid working for her. He uses his computers to help out the bitcoin bank in processing transactions and so Jane has bitcoins to spend.

Jane pays for the collar using 2 bitcoins. What happens next? The middlemen take over.

There is a collective pool of computer geeks or 'miners' have set up their computers to help the bank process transactions - kind of like Paypal plays the middleman between people when they're buying and selling things on ebay.

Now, if you were to walk into a store and try to pay for something with pennies, what happens? The poor person at the counter has to count each and every penny, right? It's the same thing with bitcoins. Each of the 1000 pieces of the bitcoin have to be individually examined to make sure they're real. To look at each of the 1000 takes time. Because the bank doesn't have the time to process each and every hash of code (it would need a giant supercomputer), the middlemen computers step in.

 These thousands of computers all over the world are presented with Jane's 2000 strings of code for the 2 bitcoins Jane uses. In other words, each individual string of code is examined by a number of different computers, and those computers determine collectively (based on the information the bank provides) if   it is a legitimate code created by the bank and if it actually belongs to Jane (because the bank is fastidious about keeping track). When the collective is finished and has determined that the each and every hash/penny is really a hash/penny, which means the bitcoin is legitimate, the transaction goes through to Overstock and Jane gets her collar.

Now, the bank needs to pay these middlemen for the work they do, because its time & electricity consuming. So, for every transaction they're involved in they get a paid a couple of hashes - in other words a piece of a bitcoin. Sometimes its just one hash, sometimes it's more. Eventually, if the middlemen computers check the hash codes on enough transactions they will have 1000 hashes (or 1000 pennies) and have their own bitcoin, which they can then spend.

Does that make sense now? The reality is bitcoin is the promissory note or payment of the future. Whether it sticks around or not remains to be seen, but we accepted paper money so the likelihood as we go into a more computer oriented society is that bitcoin (or something similar) is here to stay.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Poem

You say,
No -
You demand
I allow you to be
An adult.
You rail and yell
And curse
Everything that I am,
Everything I believe in,
Everything I have given of myself for you
To prepare you
To be an adult.
You’re missing the point
In your need to be free
That I want nothing more
Than for you to be
The man you want to be.
You say you want
To fly and be free.
I want that too.
No I don’t.
I want you to stand
On your own two feet,
And rock solid,
With strength in your convictions
And a moral compass
That you’re willing to ignore
In order to do the right thing.
I want you to be able
To move forward
And make your choices,
Whether they’re choices
I would make
Or not,
And not need backup
Even if it is always there.
I want you to see
The future
And use the past
To make it better.
I want you to teach
And be teachable,
To never accept
Without questioning,
To give generously
Of your time
And your money
And your heart -
Because it is your best feature -
That heart,
With your perseverance
A close second,
I don’t want you to fly
Because in flying
You can’t always see
The ground falling away beneath you.
I want you to walk.
I want you to run
And embrace the world,
To love
And be loved.
I want you to surge forward
And not be afraid
Or unwilling
To look back.
I want you to do new things
And explore new places,
Whether they exist
On this earth
Or in your imagination.
I want you to hope
And dream,
And tie yourself up in knots
Over someone
Who makes you feel like
You’re invincible
And vulnerable.
But don’t be invincible.
Be vulnerable.
And allow yourself
To get lost sometimes,
And to be found
And discovered
And explored.
I want you to live,
To grow,
To thrive,
To find a place that is
Uniquely yours
And let it enfold you.
I want you to be you -
Only you -
The man you are,
The man I see
Who is demanding I acknowledge him,
Which I do.
You just don’t see it yet
Because you don’t see
Your self.