Saturday, January 31, 2009
My commenters were wonderful in gently showing me the other sides to what I had offered as The TRUTH According to Dawn. Kay spoke eloquently about labels and boxes and how we try to fit people into them and how people often don't like to stay where we put them. Dolphyngyrl reminded me that in order to appreciate others' experiences, sometimes we need to walk the proverbial mile in their shoes. Toby, bless him, reminded me that he's still young enough to be figuring shit out and NEEDS to try on this and that to see what fits in his world. And Jen, very gently, very politely, told me not to be so judgmental when I don't know what others' experiences, baggage and/or motives might be. And dolphyngyrl backed her up with personal anecdotal evidence.
Truth was found in all of those voices. Perhaps I was impatient with the world. I did not allow others the same freedom I had to stumble around trying this and that before I found what made me comfortable. I did spend those years trying to fit the popular 1990s-era androgynous lesbian look. I failed miserably, incidentally, because it was not right for me. Was I faking then? Should the androgynous lesbians have gotten pissy because I was obviously aping them in an attempt to fit in? Who knows. Thank heavens nobody dope-slapped me then like I did others in this space yesterday.
Talking with L at home this afternoon, and with my friend M on the phone earlier, I was reminded that not everybody has had my experience and that my version of butch is not the only approved method. I think Jen was right in identifying the rural-urban divide in Maine that also follows a socio-economic divide as well.
For those who were offended by my judgment in yesterday's post, please accept my apology. Sometimes I need to get an idea out and look at it from all sides before I decide whether I like it or not. I still have conflicted feelings about the whole thing, but I think I am going to be less quick to judge others around this issue. When I think of how long I foundered around in the queer world until I found a groove that felt comfortable, I am reminded that I ought to allow others at least as much latitude as was provided me.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Interpersonal relations are all about respect and trust - earning it, giving it, showing it, having it. All our conflicts, from macro to micro seem to be rooted in some imbalance of either trust or respect.
Honesty is another thing. I suppose I do hold everyone (including myself) and every thing to unreasonably high standards. I dislike dishonesty. It roots back to the respect thing, but that's not what's bothering me today. I dislike fakery. I dislike play-acting and pretending. Now this might be an issue considering that there is much about the BDSM scene that seems to involve fantasy scenarios in which the players adopt roles and play out the scenes. We are headed to the big shin-dig weekend thing in a couple of weeks. I don't expect to play with any of the people there, except L maybe, and I can bet that none of our activities will involve costumes or calling each other things like "daddy." It's just not my bag, that pretending and dress-up stuff.
But you know what? I didn't get it when I was a kid. Not much past the age of 12 anyway. I just didn't. I don't know what happened that unplugged the imaginative/representational play thing in my brain, but it pretty much stopped. Probably someone told me to grow up and stop acting like a child. We stunt children when we do that, I think.
The honesty and fakery thing that bugs me is when people affect behaviors or symbols to try to prove they are something that they are not. Insecure men with shiny sports cars or big-ass trucks come to mind. Women who get all dressed up in the morning to go out and get the paper. Or one I know who drives her HUMMER to the store for coffee and a paper.
What are these folks trying to prove? That they've got fancier vehicles than me? Done. So what? Does that make someone better than their neighbor? Not likely. But somehow they try. It is as unseemly and ridiculous as the middle-aged bald guy with the dead cat toupee. You might as well wave a sign that says "I'M INSECURE!!!! PLEASE GUESS ABOUT WHAT!!!"
You know, therapy, even years of it, would still probably cost less than a Hummer. Particularly if you figure in the cost of fuel and upkeep, never mind damage to the planet just by having the thing sit in your driveway. And the funniest thing? These displays never, ever, EVER come across as the confidence they are intended to project. They come across as exactly what they are: pathetic ploys to use physical external props to fill an aching internal emptiness. Couple in fear of that secret being found out and you get defensive mixed in, which often comes across as arrogant. You know what? Arrogance is a huge turn-0ff. For pretty much everybody that I know. Humility and security are waaaaaayyyyyy sexier. There is nothing in the world quite so sexy as a person who is sure of him or her self and who does not need to defend that. Wow. Self-possessed and unashamed. Damn.
I am about to cross lines and offend great swaths of people with what follows. Please don't jump on me here. This is just the shit that swirls in my head as I work. I am putting it out on the page here so that I can get a better look at it and see what I think.As I have been chopping ice for the past decade (that's what it feels like) I have been thinking about the term butch and what we generally associate with it. Tough, mannish, often a top, more comfortable in jeans than a skirt, basic stuff, right? Well this is when the fakery thing comes in for me. A lot of what I see as people claiming to be butch is so much role-play-acting stuff. Dressing this way or that. Binding breasts so they don't show.
To me that is not butch, that is trying to be something you're not, perhaps dabbling in trans stuff from the safety of a lesbian identity. It is behaving in a way (that may indeed be quite comfortable) that is designed to have a particular effect on your environment. It dictates how others see us, how we are perceived, and thus, attempts to alter others' behaviors by presenting them with a series of specific images. Fucking with people's minds for fun is one thing. Presenting yourself as a whole package that is so much greasepaint and wardrobe strikes me as fakery.
I have been working with a woman who I would identify as butch. Certainly I am butch. Neither of us does much consciously about that. We are who we are. We wear what works (literally) for us. We don't much give a damn how we are perceived by the world around us. We live our lives completely as we are, as butch women. We work with our hands and our backs and our minds. We do not take off our boots at the end of the day, put on heels and go dancing. Cut me in half, and what you see runs all the way through.
And I guess I resent it when others try to pass themselves off as butch when it doesn't feel real to me. I know. That's totally subjective and totally unfair. Sorry about that. I'm just saying what's in my head. Maybe this is an example that will help.
When I was in college I had a great writing instructor. He was from the suburbs, the pretty affluent suburbs, growing up. He was smart and in the college prep track, but he liked wood shop. He loved the wood and he loved the guys who took wood shop. He worked summers in college doing construction stuff. But every fall he'd go back to school. After graduation, he did construction again, then went to grad school, wrote some books and eventually became a professor and intellectual. He still likes to dabble in fixing stuff, though. He chose to teach at UMF in part because of its rural nature. It was away from the city and all that "culture" stuff.
To me, who grew up in a single-wide trailer a mile down a dirt road and across the road from some cows, it felt very much like he was slumming. My life isn't something that you can do on a vacation, and I resent it mightily when people try it on to see if it's fun. "Oh, I'd have so loved to have grown up in the country." Bullshit. You would have hated it. Trust me. It's a long fucking walk to the school bus stop from where I lived - nearly two miles. We were poor. We didn't have money to pay for gas to drive me there, even when it was 20 below zero, because after all I had two good legs and I ought to use them. So I did.
Growing up poor and rural is no fun. There is not basketball after school because that would mean I had to be picked up and that cost gas money. Sneakers did, too. And uniforms and all that stuff. Pizza after games. Nope. After a while you learn not to ask for stuff. Just bide your time and get out as soon as you can.
And then years later in college, you hear some guy romanticizing about the rural life and it strikes you funny. A guy I know has a term for the wealthy-ish college kids here in town: trust fund hippies. They live like paupers, shop at the used clothing store, recycle everything, dive in dumpsters, make art out of roadside trash and then graduate, return to New York and go on to bigger and better things via mom & dad's connections. Yeah.
I guess maybe it is the safety net that I resent. I resent that people who do not need to live poor will do it, but with the knowledge that if it gets too tough, they have an out. I resent that some will try on the image of "butch" knowing that they can always take off the binder and boots, put on some sensible shoes and go back to doing social work.
I have very little choice about who and what I am. I live as honestly and truly as I can to who and what I am. I am no good at pretending to be something I am not. I could not mingle well in a crowd of millionaires, nor do I do well in groups of city people. After a while, I need to escape. I need to get home. I don't like it when others pretend to play at my life as some sort of an adventure, acting out something they think might be fun. I am not interested in being anyone's sociological study. My life is not anyone's wilderness vacation. It is what I have. It is what I know. It is noble in its own right and not something to be tried on and giggled over like a Halloween costume.
I feel the same way about my pagan spirituality and my Irish heritage. They are deeper and more real for me than anyone could imagine. I would not pretend to be Italian or Jewish or of African heritage, and I resent like hell when others think my holy days are an excuse to dance drunk and naked around a bonfire in the woods or to drink green beer and wear a sparkly plastic bowler.
I am tired now. I did not expect this to go exactly where it did, but I don't think I am sorry. I might be in the morning. God knows that's happened before. Please don't blast me too hard. I welcome your thoughts.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
If you're looking for enlightenment, education and/or entertainment tonight, try one of the blogs over there on the right. I'm headed to bed.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Today I went and hung drywall while it stormed mightily outside. L has to go deliver newspapers tonight, so I made her a good dinner (breakfast?) from a recipe I have been wanting to try all week. What you see above is roast chicken with brown rice, oven roasted beets and shallots topped with walnuts and goat cheese, all served on a bed of baby spinach. And complicated as it sounds, it wasn't that bad to put together.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1 tiny chicken (mine was 4 pounds)
handful of whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 tablespoons of mayonnaise
rinse the chicken and pat dry. dust the garlic cloves with the sage and put in the bird's cavity. don't stitch shut - just fold the skin flap back over the opening to keep them from escaping.
Mix the mayo with more of the sage (a half teaspoon, maybe?) and salt and pepper if desired. I also usually add a tiny bit of summer savory, too. Paint it on the bird, tuck his wings so they don't burn and put him in the oven. Turn the heat back to 325.
Immediately get to work on the beets:
Peel and dice three large-ish beets (baseball sized). Toss with olive oil, and a little salt and pepper and put in a shallow baking pan. I used my regular brownie pan. I also sliced up a half-dozen shallots that I had around that were looking like they wouldn't last much longer before they went weird. I tossed them with the beets and stuck them in the oven next to the chicken. They need to roast for nearly an hour or until they are fork tender.
While that's doing its thing in the oven, prepare the brown rice according to the directions on the bag. Ours said to boil the water then add the rice, cover and simmer for 45 minutes.
When all of that is done cooking, take the bird and the beets out of the oven to rest for a few minutes. Remove the rice from the heat so it doesn't burn. Line your plates with a layer of baby spinach leaves. Scoop the beets on the spinach, and top with walnuts and little bits of goat cheese.
Place the rice on the spinach as well, and then the chicken. Because the bird was so tiny, I gave us each a full breast and wing portion. Thigh quarters make better leftovers anyway.
Oh, I put some of the garlic cloves on the plate, but for garnish only. They were still more firm than I wanted to bite into. Wow. But the chicken tasted yummy and was super moist.
That's it. Nothing fancy. Nothing weird. Hardly any spices. But what an elegant meal! (And I saved the beet greens to have tomorrow with my lunch leftovers!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
This sudden flurry of actual work-related activity when I have perfectly lovely torture devices to create at home is due to the semi-hysterical weather reports I've been hearing in the past 24 hours.
"Storm's a-comin' " the weather guy screams. "Lotsa snow! Lotsa wind! Gonna be cold as all get-out!"
I took heed and packed all the materials I am going to need into the house so that I don't have to carry it in through foul weather. I can go there and work just as snug as a bug in a rug and let mother nature do her worst outside. I'll have a radio, a thermos and a quartz heater. Who could ask for anything more? Well, a toilet handy would be nice, but I can just zip home in less than three minutes to use the facilities, grab a snack, and head back to work. Makes perfect sense to me.
Then I got home and checked the weather report on line. The Weather Underground didn't say precisely how many inches of snow we're supposed to get, but they said it was definitely going to snow. I scrolled down the page to look at the details. Here is the actual text from the weather service Winter Storm Advisory that was posted on line:
Snow is expected to overspread the area Wednesday morning andOh. We're gonna get six inches of snow, and maybe some sleet and freezing rain. We always get sleet and freezing rain. That's why we're on the coast. It's what weather does here. Inland they'll get lots of fluffy snow. Here we'll get six inches of slush and crap. For this I got all excited and nearly gave myself a hernia moving lumber? Phah! What crap.
continue through Wednesday night. The snow is expected to mix
with or change to a period of sleet and freezing rain during
Wednesday evening. Storm total snow accumulations are expected to
range from 5 to 9 inches across the region by early Thursday
morning... with the highest amounts inland away from the immediate
coast. Any ice accumulation is expected to be a quarter of an inch
I am tempted to hit the grocery store, though. Not because I am a-feared that we're gonna be snow-bound like the Donner Party, but because I have a recipe for oven roasted beets in a salad of baby spinach leaves with goat cheese and walnuts that I really want to try. Served with roasted chicken and brown rice. Sounds yummy, doesn't it? See? So I might just go to the store. It's late enough now that I don't think I'll have to battle the hysterical hordes. Just a few people out for some last-minute things.
Note to non-Mainers. It is 7 p.m. as I type this. My local grocery store closes at 8 p.m. So, yes, 7 p.m. IS late to be shopping for groceries. At least here it is.
That's it. I'm off. I gotta have those beets.
And tomorrow, while the "storm" rages on, I'll hang drywall and put up trim. Yeah.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Now I am sure there are many people out there who think Bangor is just fine, nice, even, but I hate it. It's one big strip of pavement interspersed with one-way streets that run in circles and bridges across canals that some people insist are rivers. If it has walls, and those walls are concrete, it's a canal, kids. Sheesh. Anyway, parking lots and mini-malls and traffic lights and stupid people walking in the street because the sidewalks aren't plowed and the buses are big and red and ugly and slow and always in my way and I had to go out by the mall and I hate the mall. Bleah.
The one saving grace of the trip is that there is also a Marden's. For my non-Maine readers, Marden's is a local chain of stores that sells factory seconds, scratch and dent stuff for wicked cheap. You never know what you'll find there, and you'd better buy it quick or it'll be gone. If a truck load of widgets tips over in New Jersey, Marden's sends a buyer there to make an offer to the insurance company. Then we have widgets on sale the next week. It's always an adventure, that's for sure.
Anyway, Marden's is in Brewer, but really that's just a different spelling of the same huge parking lot, and the towns look very much the same, only on different sides of the big river with the falls and the railroad bridge. Marden's had a bunch of cool stuff, including wheels for the box I am going to have to built to house this bench thing I am making. I needed to find wheels that will work sort of like luggage wheels and allow the box to be dragged behind a person and then laid flat and slid under a bed. I found some today for three bucks a pair. Very cool! I got some fabric, too, to use as a backdrop when I take pictures of the bench in action, probably in Providence at the hotel. Woo hoo! No good vinyl, though, or any upholstery padding.
Marden's had been my last resort before heading out to that sprawling hell known as the mall. Jo-Ann's Fabrics is not actually in the mall proper, but it is along one of those zillions of roads that circle the place endlessly. I got there to find the parking lot FILLED. At noontime. No shit. Noon on a Monday at the end of the month is apparently the hot time to go looking for artsy-fartsy stuff at a mega-store by the mall. Who knew?
I watched a steady stream of women walking in and out of the store. Some trailed beleaguered-looking husbands. There were the old lady crafters and serious sewing gals, there were the moms who sewed children's clothes and then there were serious scrapbookers. It occurred to me that when I was a kid, scrapbook was a noun, not a verb. Heh.
So in I go, hooded sweatshirt, stained and painted Carhart work jeans, steel-toed work boots and all. To their credit, the worker bees in their green aprons with big button name tags never once gave me a double-take kind of look. But never have I felt quite so out of place in a fabric store. It was obviously heterosexual day there and I was the odd gal out. I found some padding that would work, and I found some nice sturdy marine-grade black vinyl and scampered back down toward the coast. Fifteen minutes was enough. It makes me crazy that I had to drive that far to shop for 15 minutes for two items, but they were a necessity to make the bench. I have a friend coming over this weekend to try it out.
Oh cool your jets - he's going to inspect it, bend over it once or twice and maybe get tied to it for five minutes to test it for wobbles and strength. Then he is going to be sent home to report to his kinkster friends what a marvel it is that I have made and wouldn't they each like to order one?
It's cold tonight. Brutally cold. The kind of cold that gets into your bones and no amount of clothing or blankets will warm you. I have some rice bags heating in the microwave right now, but I want to wrap myself in every bit of flannel I own and curl up with the dog and the heated rice bags under the down puff. It just goes right through me. Brrr.
Must be time for bed. G'nite all.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
It feels today like I spent the whole day drilling holes in steel. It was mild steel, which is some comfort (not as miserably hard as cold-rolled steel or stainless, which is just impossible) but still there was a lot of drilling. Above you can see the finished product of one of the downrights which must be made adjustable.
For the record, "downright" is a term of my own making. This piece has uprights, which are square tubes of steel that are 2 inches on a side. These other things are 1.5 inches on a side, are attached by hardware to the top platform of the bench and slide down into the uprights. Thus, they are downrights. And with all those holes, they were downright pains in the ass.
Back to the project. I had to shorten the uprights and downrights some so that the lowest setting for the finished piece would have the top of the padded bench reach about 28 inches high. That's about the shortest inseam of anyone I know. The downrights have seven holes each, spaced two inches apart, meaning the height of the bench can be adjusted up to something like 40 inches. Provided that part works. Honestly, after the day I put in, I simply forgot to check. I was so precise in my drilling I cannot help but believe that it will work. When I set the two pieces next to each other on the bench, the holes lined up perfectly. I'll check tomorrow to be sure.
I created an extra cross-brace to further sturdy the frame. It added a few pounds, but I like the stability it offers and the effect it gives with the additional bolt eyes.
Now yesterday I showed the eye bolts that I had purchased. Here's a picture of what they have become: short. Quite short, in fact. And you'll notice the little bracket there next to them - the nuts are welded to the back of it. The whole piece is designed and constructed that way so nobody will have to fool with a wrench when putting the bench together. No tools, few pieces, no fuss. I like that. Anyway, here's that picture.
As production has churned along, I have had to re-design and re-engineer some things. The second cross brace is one thing. How and where to mount brackets is another. Developing ways to pack and ship it in one easy, compact yet convenient package is also important. Tonight I weighed all the pieces again. 66 pounds and a handful of ounces. That's getting close to the 75 pound maximum. I wonder if UPS counts the weight of the container in its weight. I bet it does. I will really have to be careful. I still have the padded bench platform to create, plus a few more eye bolts to attach. I'll be really close to the weight limit. Such is the story of my life it seems. Oh well. Onward and upward.
Here's a shot of what it looked like tonight when I wrapped up. I took it apart and put it back together again. The assembly part took me about 10 minutes. I cannot help but think that that little tidbit is going to be a huge bonus in the selling it department. There are still a few more eye bolts to go on, plus the padded top, but I think the basic idea is clear here. Enjoy:
Well, one of the parties was offended by my clumsy language and clumsier effort, and I can't blame her a bit. I feel awful. My intentions were good, but you know where that gets you. Urk. I looked back at my original note to the two parties and I can see where I screwed up.
It's been a while since I've had anyone say to me, "Dawn, look behind you. See that line? Yeah, you're on the wrong side of it." I used to do it all the time, but I got better at not screwing up, and this one really hit me hard. Just when I think I might be an adult, wham! I feel like that awkward kid with no social skills again. Bleah. It's a yucky feeling.
I apologized, but I still feel like crap. I hate that.
In other news, I've been welding again today. welding and cutting and drilling and breaking drill bits and finally getting rid of that crappy old bench vise and bolting down my spiffy new 5 inch vise. Thing weighs a ton and looks lethal as hell. I greased its guts gently and ran the screw drive back and forth a few times to get it all settled into its new home. See if stuff jumps around tomorrow when I'm trying to hacksaw off the end of a bolt. Heh.
I got the bench sort of assembled. Keep in mind that the welds are just tacked, the uprights are still too long and need holes to make them adjustable, but here it is. Oh, and it will get another cross-member like the one on the bottom. That needs to be drilled out for bigger holes as the present ones don't line up that well. Phoo. Details. But here she is:
Oh yeah. The top will also have a nice padded vinyl platform that will overlap that severe looking frame by a couple inches all the way around. I am still looking for black vinyl but haven't found any yet. Feh.
Friday, January 23, 2009
There is nothing like the smell of metal. There is a unique odor given off when metal is cut with a circular abrasive saw or with a torch. I lack a torch, but I do have the cut-off saw and I used it plenty today. I actually only made eight little spot welds to tack together the frame for the top of the bench I am making, but that was really quite nice. I had to figure out what the heat and wire feed speed wanted for settings, and I dared not just weld great hunks of stuff until I know the pieces I've got are going to fit together properly.
I took the initiative and weighed all of the parts and pieces today. I need to make sure that they do not weigh more than 75 pounds or I can't ship the thing via UPS. So far with all the big metal pieces totaled up, I've got just over 50 pounds. It's still gonna cost to ship, but at least it won't be refused.
Here's a picture of the frame for the padded top on the baby scale. Yes, it is a baby scale. I inherited it from my first mother-in-law who used to be a rural outreach nurse. I normally use it to weigh fish. This is a perfect application, though.
If you look closely, you can see that the frame weighs between 14 and 15 pounds. It's an old scale, but is still quite accurate. I think babies get weighed on digital scales nowadays.
OK, next exciting news of the day: I went up to Lowe's and bought the el-cheapo $100 benchtop model drill press. The gal asked me if I'd like the extended warranty (for two years). I told her that if the thing lasted through the next month, it will be fine. I don't know if I can kill it that quickly, but it's possible. I've been drilling all afternoon through 1/8 inch steel plate. I have to start out with a little pilot hole, then drill a bigger one and then another bigger one until I get the size I need. Note the little shards of metal everywhere:
And the metal on the floor by my feet. Notice the spatters of oil. I have to use oil when drilling through metal or else it will get too hot and burn up the drill bits and they won't work any more. So I have oil and little culicues of steel. Everywhere.
And here is the bench next to the drill. That metal stuff gets everywhere - and it's sharp! I have to be careful not to cut my fingers on the shavings.
While I was at Lowe's, I also picked up some of the fastener bits that I am going to mount to the bench. There are 30 of these little darlings just waiting for my creative application of them.
This is what my workbench looked like by the end of the day. And when I say the end of the day, I mean 11:30 p.m. That's how long I was at this today. I got almost everything cut that needs cutting, most of the pieces fit together and clamped so I can get a look at them, and several pieces drilled out to accept bolts. Tomorrow will involve more actual welding and tacking and such, plus lots more drilling. And lots more clamping. It's going to be another busy day. But I got so much done today that I feel really great about it. Like this thing is actually going to happen.
Oh, some bad news. It's not going to tilt. Not this one. Maybe a later model will have that option, but for my first one, that's just more complicated than I want to deal with. This is going to be the sturdiest spanking bench on the market, and it's going to look fantastically cool.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I have had a very, very long day.
I only worked for six hours, but it nearly killed me. We finally finished clearing the sidewalks and pathways at the Congo Church today from the accumulated ice. In some places it was over four inches thick. I have seen guys fish on ice that thick if it's on a lake. No shit. Not saying I'd do it, but I have seen some that do.
I have an ice chopper, but it is not a very heavy duty one. It's good for half-inch to a full inch ice on a sidewalk maybe. Not what we were working through today. This stuff was brutal. It was thickest in spots where melt had dripped from a roof or along a low spot to collect and freeze. It was incredibly solid ice. My ice chopper and a short-handled roofing shovel were not going to take this stuff on and win. I got the nod from the minister and went to the hardware store for some bigger guns.
I was astounded at the variety and prices of the ice choppers available. Some were very wide and looked almost like a metal razor blade at the bottom. Others were made of incredibly thick steel with a sharpened edge just four or five inches across. And some were of the standard D-sort of shaped piece of metal at the end of a stick. I got one of the D-shaped choppers made with 1/8 inch tempered steel and a nice long handle, and another one, with thicker steel (1/4 inch probably) and a very short blade at the end of a long handle. Both are lethal looking things. It is easy to imagine either one easily chopping off the end of one's foot. Toes and all - shoop - gone! Eeeee shit.
Back at the church, we took our new tools and attacked the ice. Holy shit what a difference it makes to have the appropriate tools. It was still hard work, but it went much better than before. We worked a total of six hours each (my friend A and I). Chop, chop, chop. Scrape and shovel, scrape and shovel. Chop some more.
When I showed our new weaponry to the pastor, she was duly impressed and said that they would be most convenient when next the congregation became unruly and she had to put down an insurrection with force. I told her that I'd heard Congos could be like that. Worse than Unitarians, even. She agreed. It's because Unitarians have the worst time getting organized into a force that everyone agrees with. Consensus is the preferred method there, not majority rule. Congos are far more democratic.
By the time we were done, my arms felt as though they had been extruded from a pasta machine. I was all wobbly and chilled through. We got our pay and hit the local cheap and quick Chinese place for some soup to warm us from the inside out.
The sidewalks were cleared to their full width and to bare concrete. The big, decorative circle made of polished bits of granite and cement sidewalk is cleared and salted well. The steps are clear, it all looks fabulous. I really wish I had taken before and after pictures. I had no idea how extensive the paths were or how thick the ice was on top of them. They will be much easier to clear and maintain now that they are bare.
But my body is suffering.
After lunch, we parted ways. I went to have my weekly visit with my recovery sponsor, who also happens to have a hot tub/spa in her house. I peeled out of my soaked and salty clothes and tossed them in the wash while I was there and dropped myself gently into the hot water. I turned on the jets and high-pressured hot water massaged my feet and my back and my neck. It was heavenly. I held my nose just above the water's surface and felt the teeny little bubbles bursting when they hit the air, spraying me with their fine mist. Gradually, my body warmed and began to relax. My fingers and toes turned first pink then whitish and shriveled. My legs ceased to be the red of cold and became the red of warm. It was very nice. After about 15 minutes, I dragged my now par-boiled self out of the spa, made a cup of tea that I had to ask my sponsor to carry to the sofa for me (shaky hands from chopping and then sozzling) and we had our nice visit. I had no idea how miserable I felt when I first got in there until I noticed how much better I felt drying off and putting on some sweats.
But now my muscles feel like lobster that has been prepared wrongly by a bad restaurant - all mushy and squishy on the inside. I am home, I have had a bite to eat, and I can see no real reason for me to stay awake past 8:30 p.m. I will nuke the little rice pillow things to tuck down by my toes (L hogs the dog, so I cannot count on her to warm my toes) plug in my c-pap mask, hit the button that gives me air and drift off to sleep the sleep of the just. Perhaps I'll take some ibuprofen first, as a pre-emptive measure against aches later on.
It is 8:03 p.m. now. I just have to figure out what to do to fill the next 27 minutes... or not. G'nite all.
This NaBloPoMo thing, for instance. I signed up to blog every day in January, and I have now missed two days. One time I was riding in a tow truck with my disabled vehicle for four hours and did not get home in time to post, and yesterday I just had a brain cramp. Or something. I know I was very busy cutting and cleaning up metal yesterday afternoon, then I had an adult ed class in home wiring (wicked cool!) that went until 9 p.m., and quite frankly, after Tuesday's high, Wednesday didn't leave me much to talk about.
So I have missed the goal. But I hope to keep posting daily for the rest of the month. The writing and thinking exercise is good for me, and it costs nothing. And the routine is good for me as well.
So, to the NaBloPoMo gods: sorry about that. I will probably sign up again next month and try another time, but I don't think I will break my neck trying to meet a fabricated goal. Welding my bench in time for the FFFlea? Yes. Completing another job so that we have money to go to the FFFlea? Yes. Blogging? No. Sorry, but there it is. And now I have to go to work. Good day all.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
And grinning. Even when I am crying.
It is a remarkable day.
I know there are some who don't like this guy, but I really do. He is smart. He is bold. He challenges us all to be better than we are, to be more than we think we can be, to work more, try harder, reach farther, and achieve more.
We went to the local liberal movie house to watch a live broadcast of the inauguration. There was no cover charge, only a request to make a donation to the local food pantry. We loaded up a grocery bag and brought it. Additionally, some $1,200 and change was raised. Quite awesome, considering the place only seats about 250 people between the two tiny screening rooms.
But they serve fantastic pizza and beer and soda by the glass or the pitcher, and everyone was in a festive mood, even at 10:45 a.m. Old friends greeted each other in the lobby and in the theaters. It was a great mingle and meet sort of event. When things really began to get underway, when the past presidents and dignitaries and such were being introduced, people settled down and got serious about the drama being played out live on the big screen.
I was struck by the fact that the ABC broadcasters muted the crowd microphone pick-ups when dubya was introduced. I noticed the lack of noise - there had been even moderate applause for the chimp's dad, after all. A friend who arrived late said she heard the introduction in her car on National Public Radio as she pulled into the parking lot. She said the boos were deafening.
I smiled. Sweet. Corporate media can censor the people, but the public's radio never should. Very cool.
Let it be said here and now that Aretha Franklin is a living legend, a national treasure, and the legislature of Michigan was on the money when its members designated her voice as a treasured natural resource of the state. She had on a magnificent black-lady-going-to-church hat that was approximately the size of a barcalounger and by the time she was done singing "My Country 'Tis of Thee," I felt safe in predicting that the song will never be sung in public again without unfavorable comparisons to today's performance. Aretha Franklin is a formidable woman of substance and style and she carries herself like the queen that she is. Damn.
What astounded me the most was when Diane Feinstein asked those assembled before the US Capitol to stand while Chief Justice John Roberts administered the oath of office to the new president, every soul in that dark little movie theater in Bar Harbor, Maine stood up. Many hats came off, and some held hands to hearts. The applause at the conclusion was deafening.
Later, when the Washington crowd was asked to stand for the singing of the national anthem, the crowd in the movie theater also stood up. Hats were doffed again, and nearly every voice there sang along. There was not a dry eye in the place.
I know the people who came to the party at the movie theater today. They are the old-school liberal lefties, the aging hippies and graying boomers. They are not prone to fits of patriotism or spontaneous acts of national pride. In fact, they are the ones who have been demonstrating on the village green every Sunday for the past eight years, protesting the war, Guantanamo, torture, and many, many things that the government has done in that time. Many of the gray heads have criminal records from sitting in back in the 1960s and again in the 1990s and 2000s. These are the disillusioned, the disenfranchised, the discouraged and cynical.
And every blessed one of them stood proudly today and reclaimed their country.
In just over an hour we will go to the local pizza/movie house, The Reel Pizza Cinerama, for a live broadcast of the inauguration. We will be surrounded by friends and activists whom we have come to know in the past year.
As you probably know, I am a white pagan lesbian woman of Irish descent. Translation: I have no rhythm or sense of music beyond some ancient chants. For me, my spiritual connection is on the solitary, silent and contemplative side. But I do appreciate and enjoy the joy expressed in black Christian churches in America. I poached this clip directly from Karen Zip Drive over at Pulp Friction. I hope she doesn't mind. I can't think of a better way to celebrate today. When I watched it at her site, the tears flowed down my face. I think I'll be bringing some tissues with us to the theater. This is indeed a happy day.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Dear god we can only hope so. It has got to get better. It just has to.
I am so tired that I can barely type. I know I have to do something with a nice thing I got from Robin, but I do hope she'll forgive me if I hold off until morning when I can be something closer to coherent about it. I am so beat it is not funny. I shoveled snow today for something like nine hours. My back hurts, my neck hurts, my hands hurt and little bits of me that I didn't know existed hurt. I'm going to take some advil/aleve/tylenol/whatever, drink a big glass of water and crawl into bed.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
We got a ton of snow today. Enough that school would have been canceled if it had been a weekday. I used to hate weekend snowstorms when I was a kid. Wasted snow, I called it. A weekend snowstorm meant dad would make me get a shovel and help. On a weekday, I was considered too small to do it myself, so the plow guy came. I had to shovel the steps and path and stuff. And maybe the mailbox area. But on a Saturday or Sunday? We were saving money, getting exercise and bonding. Yeah. Right.
I got up early today to go shovel out the Congo church. Nice folks, and this was my first storm, so I wanted to make a good impression. I was there early and shoveled like mad, only to look back at the top of the steps I had just cleared and see that the granite was white again with snow. Shit.
Hearkening back to the old Eli Lily ad slogan, "Better Living Through Chemistry," I spread something like 20 pounds of ice melt stuff on the massive front steps (30 feet wide, going up maybe 8 or 10 feet. Okay, maybe six feet, but it felt like more than that. I can't see onto the top step from the street, so that's close to 6 or 8 feet, right? Right. Anyway, I sanded the piss out of that baby, then spread around enough road sand pilfered from the public sand pile (for those readers not from New England, each town has a stockpile of sand mixed with road salt to spread on the roads by the snowplows. The public is granted access to that sand pile, generally with the understanding that commercial contractors will not take advantage. I figure I am not bringing it home to use, so I am just running an errand for the homeowners. It's their tax-dollar-paid-for-sand, so I have very little guilt over it.
Today we got about 8 to 10 inches of snow. Then it began to rain. A lot. I shoveled the Congregational Church this morning for their service, but about six inches had fallen before it turned to rain. When we get there tomorrow it will be flat-out nasty. I have hired a helper for the day, but I think we're both going to be taking pre-emptive doses of Advil. Gonna be a long day tomorrow.
I'll try to have those interview questions out tomorrow after work. And I have to do a cool thing for that neat award that Robin gave me. Please be patient with me. I'm working on it.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Forecast for Coastal Hancock
Updated: 3:16 p.m. EST on January 17, 2009
Winter Storm Warning in effect from 7 a.m. Sunday to 7 a.m. EST Monday...
The upshot of this is that the snow and clouds and flurries and all the rest NEVER FUCKING END!Holy crap. I'm going to be shoveling for the rest of my life. No cutting metal. No welding metal. No really cool naughty thing. Just me and a shovel and some buckets of sand.
Today I went over to the local Congregational Church where I am the new snow-removal contractor. Not my regular rate, but I figure if I do a decent job, it will work in to more work down the line at my normal rate. Plus I plan to leave a stack of fliers in the vestibule. That can't hurt.
So I went over to see what was up and to clean up a little before tonight's church supper. The person who had the job before me apparently missed entirely that slushy snowstorm we had last week before the current five-day freeze-a-palooza we've been enjoying so much. With three inches of fresh slush on the ground before the Sunday service, it seems that people just tromped through, hoping the kid would come back to clean it up before it froze. He didn't. So now the walkways are covered with packed, solid-frozen ice. Lumpy, bumpy ice from all those footprints when it was still slush. Yeah. So I got there and with a metal roofing shovel, an ice chopper and two different snow shovels AND a broom, I set to work. I chopped what I could, swept the crumbs away and spread over 50 pounds of ice melt stuff on what was left. That and just over two buckets of sand from the town pile. Nobody will slip coming out of the supper tonight, although they might turn an ankle. I worked from about 2 p.m. until well after dark when L. came and we went in and enjoyed the supper. Now I am pooped. More snow is coming. I have three accounts now, and while that doesn't sound like much, one of them is a big, public church where lots of people come and go. It is important that I be there, be visible and be responsive when people ask if this can be shoveled or that can be sanded. Which means I am going to have to get up in the morning (like 5 in the morning!) to see if there is snow on the ground that needs to be addressed. Shit. I'm pooped from all that chopping, shoveling and sweeping already. Damn.
So, I am going to post an interview that asthmagirl over at Is My Cape Fluttering? did of me. She got tagged with an interview in which someone asked her five questions. Then she accepted five "interview me" requests in her comments section. I said what the hell and signed up. So she asked five questions and I answered. Here they are. I do hope I was interesting enough without being scandalous this time:
2. Do you think gays will be victorious and attain the right to marry across the board (all states)? When?
I was burned out (fired) in the newspaper world and found myself doing what I always did between jobs - working hanging wallpaper, painting, building this and fixing that. A friend suggested Women Unlimited, which at that time was offering a 14-week course in Bridge and Road Construction. I signed up, was accepted, got my dump truck license, learned how to read blueprints, learned how to weld, got certified in a 40-hour OSHA course and learned a bunch of stuff. I was accepted into the Sheet Metal Worker's International Association and became the first woman to enter the apprenticeship program in Maine. I left after three years. The work was not steady and involved a lot of travel away from home. I went back to newspapering for a while, but then migrated back to the trades. Today I am self-employed, and that seems to work best for me. I like the freedom, I like learning new things. I like the independence.
The ocean is only a few hundred yards from where I lay my head to sleep each night. I can hear the harbor buoy bell in the evening. Last week an eagle soared in circles over my house, hunting for prey in the field out back. I am surrounded by natural beauty. It is a marvelous thing. In the summer we are overrun with tourists, but there are still places where we can go that they won't follow. I like that. But standing on the rocks and watching the surf pound after a February storm has got to be one of the most beautiful things in the world. Nature is a violent, beautiful force. She will have her way.
OK, now I am going to do the same thing she did. The first five people who leave a note saying "interview me" in the comments section will get five questions from me that they can post on their blogs, etc. It really was not a bad writing prompt at all. Leave me a note and I'll e-mail you the questions.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Today my friend the straight guy S and I went to the big city of Bangor to buy some metal. Not just fencing or tin, but heavy fucking steel tubes, square and rectangular, and some angle iron and some flat stock. I'm gonna make me one bad-ass play-toy. Well, not for me, actually, (no, really, it's not my thing at all. I have different interests and I'll explain them later.) but you get the idea. I'm hoping to sell it. And many more like it. And retire wealthy to a tropical island. Or something like that. Anywhere it's not 20 degrees below zero would be a welcome start about now.
If you are likely to be offended by reading about bondage, radical sex or other weirdness, now is the time to search for knitting bloggers. Very nice people, I'm told. I even have a friend who is a knitting blogger. I'll find a link for you later on this week maybe. I think he works with Alpaca yarn... does that make sense? Anyway, now is the time for the squeamish to go somewhere else. Those of you who might be shopping or just living vicariously through me, buckle up, baby. We're diving in!
So last year I came up with this idea for a bench. Not your sit-in-the-park-and-feed-the-pigeons-bench, but a bend-your-partner-over-and-spank-her/him-quite-thoroughly-bench.
And yes, I said a year ago. That means that this is not a new idea. This means that I have had this stuff running around in my head since before you all started reading this blog. It's always been there, I've just never talked about it before. I am not morphing into something new - I am merely shedding some of the shame associated with radical sex practices and discussing them in mixed company. More people think about and do this stuff than you'd ever imagine. Or maybe you don't have to imagine. I won't force you to tell. Heh.
So anyway, I've got this idea for a spanking bench. Only, versatile gal that I am, it occurred to me that such a piece of equipment might be extra popular if it had multiple uses, so I decided to incorporate a system of securement points to make it an instrument of bondage as well. Most spanking benches I have seen on line do not do this.
Designing this kind of bench is not difficult. All it takes is an imagination that is a little strange, some ideas taken from here and there, and an understanding of the materials being used. Most equipment on the market today seems to be made from wood. That's fine, I suppose, if you never want to be able to wipe the thing completely sterile. Wood is porous. It absorbs liquid. Shellac it as much as you'd like, I won't be convinced that you can ever get it completely germ-free. Metal can be wiped down with real assurance that it has been sterilized.
Plus, it's sexy as hell.
Metal is very, very intimidating stuff. And in the world of BD/sM, intimidating is very, very sexy indeed.
Metal is very, very cool stuff. Wood can be broken. It can be burned or sawed through. Metal? Not so much. If you're cuffed to a wooden thing, there is a chance, albeit a small one, that you could break free. If you're cuffed to a metal thing? No. Nada. Nyet. Not happening. Don't make any fucking plans, 'cause you're not going anywhere until somebody with a key comes along and rescues your ass. For a price.
Yeah, metal is sexy.
Oh, dear. Seems I got distracted. Sorry 'bout that.
So anyway, S and I went to Bangor to get some metal. On the ride up, he looked at some sketches I had drawn up of this bondage/spanking bench. As I drove, I explained that I needed several things from the bench. A) I needed it to be strong. Really strong. Like strong enough to hold up a couple who together might tip the scales at 600 or more pounds. And hold them up while they are... not holding still. At all. OK, so it needs to be sturdy. B) It needs to be relatively lightweight - UPS will only ship up to 75 pounds. and C) it needs to break down and fit in a box that will slide conveniently under the bed when the in-laws come for the weekend. As a sub-category of C, it must go together with zero tools and no instructions. It need not be thrown together hurriedly, but it should not take a mechanic half the day to do it. I want this to be something regular people can assemble with wingnuts and thumbscrews. No wrenches. No complicated stuff. And fit it in a box. That someone can lift. We can do that, right? Oh, and sharp edges, corners, and things where jewelry might get caught would also be a bad idea. Poor guy. His eyes just kept getting wider and wider as we went. He worked with it, though. Bless him for that.
Well, dear S looked at my drawings, so carefully rendered to scale, and started marking them up and making notes. He looked at my metal specifications, discarded them and substituted lighter-weight material that would still be very much strong enough. He knocked 150 pounds off my original design, we extended the width of the platform top, devised a way to secure the uprights to the base and the adjustable leg inserts (did I mention that it was adjustable, too? Yeah. I rock.) to the padded top. We eliminated a couple places that could have offered sharp edges or corners. We devised a method to provide for upwards of 20 securement points (eye bolts welded into place) and made sure the base would be stable enough to not tip over even during the most active scene.
This thing is bad-ass. Damn. We worked for over an hour, trouble-shooting, problem-solving, figuring and planning and making lists of materials and writing down lengths that things needed to be cut. I have a sheaf of papers covered with rough sketches, squiggly arrows and cryptic markings. This is cooler than anything I have ever done. In the end, I ordered just over $225 in bulk metal and we went to lunch while it was being cut down to 12-foot lengths that would fit in the back of my truck. We picked it up, tied it down, added a red flag, and headed home. I dropped S. off in time to meet his kids getting off the bus, and now I am inside, wishing it was 40 degrees warmer and still daylight. I want to get cutting on that stuff. Badly.
But instead I will stay indoors. I will re-work my sketches to the new specifications. I will try to transcribe all of those scribbled notes into something that I can read and make sense of, and I will wait for daylight. I will probably be up first thing, pissing off the neighbors and making a hell of a racket. My cut-off saw is not a quiet beast. Heh. I am so looking forward to this. Pictures tomorrow. They won't look like a lot, but I'll have some.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
My dear sweet friend Sharon over at The Queen's Blog has tagged me with this snazzy award. Seems I write some honest stuff and she appreciates that.
I am flattered. I truly am. But the rules have me a bit nervous. Because you know there are rules. Everything has rules, I have learned through the years.
So here's the deal.
I have to tell you all 10 honest things about me, with a requirement to keep it interesting. (Oh, you're in for a treat!)
Then I have to name seven other people who blog who I think are deserving of this award.
OK, the seven others is not so tough. But it's the 10 honest things about me that has me scared.
What's left to tell? I talk here about my abusive childhood, so that's not fair to offer up. I talk about alcoholism and recovery, also not fair to present as an honest thing about me. I write about politics and my thoughts and feelings in that department. Again, not a whole lot new to offer there. I even write about being a big butch lesbian, about work, and about my only moderately scandalous tenure as a bartender in a lesbian bar.
The only things I have really not written honestly about are pretty personal, technical, and naked things. Those of you who know me personally and who might get squeamish at the thought of knowing this stuff about me should probably go check the weather channel about now and not come back until maybe Friday.
Sex and its various and sundry accouterments is all that's left, and this step has been in the works now for a while. You might be shocked. You might not. You might even raise an eyebrow and brand me a neophyte. Fine. Every one's an amateur at everything at least once.
Here's the up-close-and-probably-more-personal-than-you-really-wanted list of 10 honest things about me.
1. I have four tattoos. OK, that was easy. And not really a state secret. So what. I'm easing into this. I got them all while sober, if that helps.
2. L and I are going to the Fetish Fair and Fleamarket in Providence, R.I. next month. I will write it off a business expense. For real.
3. I design and weld custom dungeon furniture for the BD/SM scene. I am hoping to get my first spec piece done in time to bring it to the FFFlea.
4. I have six piercings in my person. Four are in my ears. I am the only patient (so they say) at the MDI Breast Center who has to remove her jewelry before her mammogram.
5. I am considering another piercing, and plan to have it done while we're in Rhode Island. There are some things that can't be pierced legally in Maine.
I warned you this was going to be personal!!
6. L and I have an extensive toy box that lives under the bed. It started out as a fanny pack. It is now a medium-sized suitcase.
7. We don't drag it out nearly as often as some would imagine. Or as often as either or us would like.
8. Our friend M is the only man (indeed, the only other person) who has seen the treasures contained therein.
9. He cringed for a month. OK, that's not really a thing about me, but it's still funny as hell. M's a gay man.
10. I'm really a bottom.
This kind of shit is why I will never run for office. People ask stuff, and I tell. Honesty is good, I suppose, but it can be a little rough on the nerves sometimes.
Now to tag seven other honest folks. If any of them are still reading, that is...
1. Joy over at A Spot of T - I have no idea if what she writes is honest, but it feels it. And gawd, but she's funny as hell. Mushu is her ghost-writer some days. They both deserve an award.
2. Mike over at Lost in the Bozone - I love watching as he explores new things and interests. He is thoughtful and systematic in his approach, and I enjoy the way he shares the experience with his readers. Heckuva fiction writer, too. His stuff gives me the willies and stays in my head for days.
3. Darlene Huntress over at The Slant - a political operative of the highest order, her work has kept her away from her blog for a while now. When she writes, it can break your heart with the way she reaches inside and touches the raw wound on your soul. Incredible stuff. I do hope she comes back to her blog soon. Writing talent like that should be shared and not kept under a bushel.
4. Carole McDonnell at her eponymous blog - a Christian woman of African American heritage, she speaks her truth plainly and boldly, without apology to anyone. She calls out hypocrisy and strives to be more like her savior every day. She is an inspiration and an example in honest living and writing.
5. Dusty over at It's my Right to be Left of the Center - she combs the news of the day and gives her gut-level reaction to it. She tends to be on top of all the national stuff that eludes me and I am glad for her educated response to so much of the crap that is out there.
6. Bull over at Cthulhu's Family Restaurant - an active-duty Navy guy with wife and four beautiful kids, he writes about politics and life from a perspective I need to see. I thank him for his service and honor his honest writing. He's a bit of a sci-fi freak, too. Pretty cool.
7. My sweet Ponyboy Rusty over at Rusty's Stall - I don't get the appeal of pony play (CAUTION - his site is not for children or those who might be offended by BD/SM stuff!), but he is about the most nurturing guy I know and he has been a gentle mentor in my exploration of the world of kink.
And because I hate rules,
8. Dolphyngyrl over at The Verbosery - an outrageous flirt, I don't care if she does or doesn't write honest stuff. She brought the ashtray and the flask when I was sneaking around behind the gym last week.
Deep breath, and hit "Publish post."
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
I have known Dennis to be a stand-up guy before, known him to stick to his principles even when he thinks nobody's looking, known him to have a very real sense of right and wrong. He is one of my favorite straight guys in the world.
I am beyond words about what this might mean for us. It is bigger than I can grasp right now.
Here is the official press release from our queer lobbying organization. Blogroll buddy Darlene Huntress over at the Slant is one of the big shots there. She hasn't been posting lately, and I am beginning to understand why. This announcement must have kept her very very busy in the preparation.
Keep us all in your prayers. This has promise but it could get very very ugly first.
I just left the State House, where EqualityMaine and several of our coalition partners announced a bill for marriage equality. It was an extraordinary moment, and the start of a major new journey.
If this bill passes -- and if we can uphold it at the polls -- Maine will join Massachusetts and Connecticut in allowing civil marriage for same-sex couples.
We have growing support in the Legislature, but the road to victory has only just begun. The fight won't be easy, and we need you to get involved with this campaign right now.
Someone in Augusta asked me today if I thought we could really win marriage in Maine. My reply: we wouldn't introduce this bill if we didn't think we could win.
Our community is one of our greatest strengths. Together, we've won hate crimes protections, nondiscrimination legislation, family medical leave provisions and more. Together, we will win marriage.
A discussion about marriage has been going on for years, in Maine and nationwide. Recently we've seen equality prevail in Massachusetts and Connecticut and be narrowly defeated in California. What will happen here?
That's up to us -- and you. Please RSVP today to attend one of our February conversations.
Thank you for being part of this historic moment.
Monday, January 12, 2009
So de-lurk yourself.
But probably not in public.
People might not understand.
For real, though. Stop lurking. Leave a note. Let me know what you think. Even if you think I suck. Say I'm a self-absorbed, egomaniacal freak, whatever. Tell me what you think. I can (probably) handle it.
But please leave a note. I'd appreciate it.
I started to respond to all of that and before long realized that what I had was a blog post and not really appropriate for a list-serve. Too personal, too long, too much. So I will share it here and anticipate the responses of my beloved mommy bloggers and others who have raised children. For the record, I am childless and choose to stay that way. I go into that more later on.
I think the conversation re: abuse/control/parenting is valid and necessary. I think the point of not holding his parents to a standard of knowledge and skills that was unknown to them is also valid.
That is abuse.
I struggle with insecurity. That's not news to anyone who reads here regularly. Insecurity is learned. It is instilled. It is handed down from one generation to another.
I have heard it said that people who have been hurt, hurt others. I suppose. A wounded animal will lash out and bite, even the caring person trying to help. At some point, though, we all have to be accountable for our actions. The fact that my father was raised by an abusive fuck does not give him license to treat others the same way. Just because I was raised by an abusive fuck does not give me license to hurt and bully those around me.
The buck stops here. With me. For my behavior. Not my dad's. He can be accountable to whomever he needs to be accountable to for that shit. It's not my fault, nor is it my responsibility to address it. I will own what is mine, but not more than that.
Sometimes I feel badly for my father. He has no skills to do anything other than what he does. He is out of control, spinning madly and lashing out any any and all who are near to him. He is smart enough to know that life probably should not be one miserable thing after another, but he has no skills to do anything else. He knows how to be a bully. He does not know how to be a friend. He knows how to be defensive. He does not know how to let his defenses down and allow himself to be vulnerable. He has no idea what it is to feel safe without enormous defensive walls. That cannot be fun.
And to be fair, those things are skills that I have only learned as an adult, probably in the last five or six years. Before that time, I was more like him than I care to think. I am so grateful that I have the gifts in my life that I have, and that I am able to learn and grow. How blessed I am. So many people go through life damaged and unable to do anything about it.
So, was it abuse when I was forced to eat nasty things for supper, and when I refused was presented them cold for breakfast? Yes. Not because those actions were abuse, but because of the motives behind them. Food was being provided to me. Edible food, by many people's standards, and sufficient in nutritious content to meet the usual standards. It was the power battle behind it that was abusive. It was the "I'm in charge of you" that was abusive. The part that said "you have no control over what you put into your body because I own you" was abusive. The part that said "go ahead and run. I will find you and bring you back and you'll regret you ever ran." Those are words I heard spoken out loud more than once growing up.
I'm sure the Department of Human Services Child Protective Division could never have saved me from that madness. The words were sane (mostly) but when the eyes narrowed and the tone of voice changed, I knew that the words were secondary. The message was all about power and control and that my father had it and I didn't. And back then he was still physically able to enforce it. Now he's a derelict and pathetic pile of flab that can't seem to make his own way around the house without hurting himself. I suppose this is karma coming back to bite him in the ass. That's fine, I suppose. I no longer need to see it to feel vindicated.
I have the scars, but they do not burn as they once did. I have been working at letting go of that old anger and the poison it carries. Sometimes, though, a conversation comes up, like this recent one about food and what kids were forced to eat, triggers some stuff that I apparently have not fully released. So I do that here. Not sure why, but I do. And it feels better.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
If only my life were that simple.
My truck broke down last night while I was headed home from Massachusetts. I had just had some Popeye's fried chicken at the Kennebunk plaza and headed up the highway. I was on the phone with my friend Mike when what felt a lot like a blow-out on my front left tire happened. He was an absolute peach and talked me through it, I got over to the side of the road, put my hazards on and called AAA. After waiting through the required automated message hell for a couple of minutes, I got a nice lady whose first concern was that I was ok. That was really nice. Got out and checked the tire, only it was not flat. Not sure what it was - maybe a ball joint? Axle? Ty-rod? I don't know enough about vehicles to know what it was. I do know I couldn't drive it like that.
We worked out the details of where I was, where I wanted to go, and the fact that my aunt recently upgraded us to the premium membership (thank goddess!!!) which allows for 200 free miles of towing. Turns out I was just about 180 miles from home. It took about an hour and a half to find a flatbed driver willing to drive nearly 400 miles round trip on a Saturday night with a storm coming, but a nice guy named Chris from Grondin & Sons Towing out of Sanford showed up and treated me nice. He even took Route 3 out of Augusta to Belfast and then up to Ellsworth to shave miles off the trip. AAA covers 200 miles. Every mile after that costs three bucks. Ouch. I was all for saving miles.
So we got underway at around 11 p.m. and I called home from Ellsworth at around 2:30 a.m. to have my sweetie meet me at the auto mechanic's garage. I got home here at around 3:3o or 4 a.m. and went straight to bed. I was utterly exhausted. That whole simulated blow-out thing scared the hell out of me and was discouraging as well. I had spent the money from this job six times already in my head, and none of it had been to fix my truck. What a pain. I had bills paid, fuel oil purchased, and maybe a hotel room at the upcoming FFFlea in Providence. Now all of that hinges on how much the mechanic is going to take. Damn. Back behind the 8-ball again. Some days it seems I can't win for losing.
On the up side, I did finish the bathroom. But not without incident.
Remember how I complained that the old tile had been stuck to 3/8 inch drywall? Remember how I said it was inferior and a bad idea and the wonderboard stuff I was using was much better - it being a half inch thick and all? Well, the added thickness of my wonderboard and the new tile was just enough for the shower fixtures to not quite work.
Oh, the plumbing bits are fine. The screws and bolts and such are just about a quarter inch too short to reach what they're supposed to. Because I did it right. Sonofabitch. And there is no access panel in the back because the landlord paneled over it. That would have been easiest - just get in there and lean on the fittings enough to get me what I needed, but nooooooo. That would be too easy.
I ended up sweating an extension into the pipe that is the tub fill spigot thing to make that work, the shower head thing was ok (thank the goddesses!) but the knob control thing was an issue. I ended up leaving the pieces for the lady's son to assemble today when the hardware store opens and he can get some number 8 by 32 machine screws that are 2 1/4 inch long. Damned thing. The whole family is under strict orders to not use the shower until at least 8 p.m. tonight to allow the tiles and grout to do their thing. I expect I may get a phone call asking how exactly the thing goes together, and if I do I'll talk them through it. I hated leaving the job not quite done, but I am some kind of glad I was on the road last night and broke down under a medium-clear sky and a full moon as opposed to today with a howling snowstorm. Bleah.
So here are the pictures of the finished product. Note that I made a couple of little shelves with the leftover trim boards. These are to make up for the towel racks that got ripped out with the tiles. I am most pleased with the result. If the colors look odd, know that the tiles and wood trim are bright white, the tub, the accent stripe and the tiled ceiling are all sea-foam green. The new floor is an off-white pattern.
Friday, January 9, 2009
Thursday, January 8, 2009
I didn't get to the floor like I had hoped, but the tile is up, the client is thrilled, and I'm just a wee bit impressed with myself. My finger still hurts and has developed a disturbing bump/lump kind of thing that makes me think there is the mother of all blood blisters under there. I'm not sure what to do about it yet, so I am taking a wait and see approach. It doesn't hurt quite as bad as it did yesterday. Tired and going to bed. Maybe I'll have more exciting things to report tomorrow.