I support you whether you like it or not

Posted in Goddamn feminism again, just opinionated, Not an activist, Rants with tags , , , on July 3, 2015 by idnami

I’ve been running into ally shaming a lot lately and I think it’s fucked up that this is becoming a thing. I don’t mean educating someone to become a better supporter of your cause, I mean straight up shitting down their throat for trying to support as best they are able. Some of it is from the feminist community, telling men who want to stand by us that they aren’t good enough at it, some of it from the LGBT community, telling cisgendered heterosexual supporters that they aren’t good enough at it. And like, yeah ok. Sometimes that support is offered clumsily or imperfectly, and some people are more talk than action, for sure.

I still think the fact that the talk is happening is a very encouraging sign, so let’s think about not alienating people who are sincerely trying to be part of the solution.

So, historic US Supreme Court decision blah blah, finally catching up to Canada after 10 years yada yada. We all know what happened and I’ll skip the rehash.

I know some LGBT people that this actually really matters to. American ones who want to get married. This was kind of a huge win for them and I was genuinely happy about it. Also it pissed off a bunch of bigoted fuckheads and that always makes me smile. So I threw a rainbow filter on my profile pic just like several million others. The intention was something along the lines of putting on a party hat. It was not intended as activism in itself, only a festive celebration of a thing that happened that means good things for certain people I care about. I’m pretty sure I could say the same for most of the people who did this.

But then, some other LGBT people said, “No you fucking hipster, don’t expect me to be grateful to you for jumping on this rainbow bandwagon.”

cheinbow

But why?

Well… I didn’t expect them to. And it’s ok that they weren’t. Gratitude is not an appropriate response to a party hat. But the talk became positively hostile and days later I’m still thinking about it. Cuz I actually give a fairly large number of fucks about LGBT rights, and whether I was expressing that in a way that could please everyone or not, ouch dude.

So no, me sporting a flag doesn’t directly help anyone. What it does do is tell the people I encounter something about me that I want them to know. It tells LGBT folks that I’m on their side. It also puts any homophobic idiots in the immediate vicinity in a snit, perhaps even provokes a reaction so that I know who they are and can shun them in future.

But, know who else I’ll shun? Every other type of bigot out there, including feminists who hate men and straight-hating LGBT people. Hate is the thing I’m actually fighting here.

I’m not a feminist because I think oppressing women is bad, I’m not anti racist because I think oppressing people of colour is bad, and I’m not a LGBT supporter (do I even say supporter if I’m bi? I’m in the acronym!) because I think oppressing gay and trans people is bad. I am all these things because I think oppressing people is bad. But I take part in the conversation about specific forms of oppression and the people they affect because I think just calling yourself a humanist is another way of saying you’re equally apathetic about everything.

I think we also need to recognize that apathy is a perfectly valid response to a world which demands that if you care even a little, you must care all-consumingly or you can go fuck yourself with a rusty hatchet.

I get it. Some of us have been so hurt so badly that we see the face of our abuser in anyone who shares characteristics with them. I get that I am a privileged member of a historically oppressive culture, whether I like it or not, and that sometimes I’ll be the focus for that rage. That doesn’t mean I have to hold still when someone starts flinging shit at me.

I don’t have to take a bullet for you. I don’t have to agree with everything you say. I don’t have to like you personally. I don’t have to be your punching bag, or drown in guilt for the hurt you’ve suffered at the hands of someone I may vaguely resemble. And the fact that I may think you personally are an asshole doesn’t mean I’ll stop actively supporting your rights. But if you get shitty enough at enough people, maybe some of them will. I see this with men vs feminism all the time.

Being an advocate of human rights, for me, means when I hear racism or sexism or LGBT bashing I don’t tolerate it. I address it and I’ve changed more than one person’s thinking simply by asking them to think. It also means treating people like human beings no matter what genitals or skin colour they have, who they love or where they come from. It does not mean being everyone’s friend, walking on eggshells, or treating their point of view as more important than mine. It also doesn’t mean spending every waking second educating myself on the special situation of every oppressed group. I tried that for a long time and it got exhausting. There is just too much to know and I’ve got my own shit to think about too. But feel free to tell me what you need. If you have the time to tell someone that it’s not your job to educate them and lecture them for not knowing what you feel they should, you have time to copy/paste a link. have time, speaking as a feminist who is getting pretty fed up with the unnecessary exacerbation of hostilities.

The us vs them mentality of this seems to imply that your struggle isn’t my struggle too, that our struggle isn’t theirs, and you bet your ass it is. I don’t want to live in a world where rights are granted in some kind of weird gradient system. So when I’m told that because I don’t understand every nuance of an issue I want to help fight and therefore I’m not welcome in the battle, I find it incredibly counterproductive. Also it really hurts my feelings, and hurting your allies sometimes just makes you extra enemies.

I’m glad that legal rights in the US have taken another step forward, but as we’ve seen with every other fight against systemized oppression, you can’t legislate true equality. Women didn’t magically become equal just because the government granted us the right to vote, and we are still fighting almost 100 years later. The evolution that society needs to ensure that every person has the same rights as every other person comes from changes in the hearts and minds of the individual members of of that society. In other words, look at all these fucking rainbows. They mean that more and more and more people stand up for the idea of equality. It’s not just lazy, idle, armchair activism. It’s a sign of changing times.

So if you see me flying a rainbow flag, please know I do not expect a pat on the back for it. But I also don’t expect a punch in the face. Unless you’re a trans/homophobe, in which case, get in the ring, motherfucker.

My miniskirt is not about you

Posted in Rants with tags , , , on May 29, 2015 by idnami

Oh, internet, you fickle mistress, serving up the flavour of the day to the excitable and attention deficient masses. One day you have us whipped into a froth about the Game of Thrones rape scene (which outraged no one when it happened in the book, to a minor character, just one drop in an ocean of atrocities committed by Ramsay Bolton né Snow) and the next we completely forget about it in favour of arguing bitterly about the role of women in Mad Max. The internet is a factory churning out bad drugs, and there are days when it seems like its entire purpose is to enrage.

Lately I feel bombarded by the subject of What Men Want, Or Don’t. This is not new. Articles on how to attract, repel, ensnare, please, and not get dumped for a 20 something the second you hit middle age have been around forever. The idea that men are elusive creatures, hard to catch and harder to keep, like fucking leprechauns or something, pervades our culture. Once when I was a petite, attractive 19 year old, I was eating a Cinnzeo at the mall. A rotund older gentleman slapped his hand down on my table and blustered “You’ll never catch a husband if you eat like that!”

It occurs to me now that he may have only meant I had icing on my chin.

And so because men are extremely selective in their dating choices, and so very difficult to lure into the matrimonial trap, we women require a thorough course of study on the dos and don’ts involved in securing one of these rare beasts for our own. And thus, yesterday I found my social media peppered with shit like this and this and this and this.

Now, as my boyfriend pointed out, there are an equal number of such articles written for men about what women like and don’t, and they are often just as bullshit. And I was right about to argue that yes but there are no PUA sites for women but I was wrong.

Seriously, wtf.

So apparently we all spend a really mind boggling amount of time trying to figure out how to score with the opposite sex. Sorry to get all heteronormative there. Same-sex dating is its own unique challenge which I am only slightly qualified to address. But surely being of the gender you are trying to attract must take some of the frustrating mystery out of it. You don’t see lesbians going around categorizing pickup techniques, do you? Well shit.

Researching for this article is teaching me things I really don’t think I needed to know. But apparently what I definitely don’t know is how to get a man. I break nearly every one of the rules in these articles with my crazy hair and hooker red lipstick and whatever else they say you should never do, I have no idea because I really can’t be bothered to actually read most of the articles linked above. But I do know this: I don’t assume the men I see on the street are dressing or acting for my benefit, and I really wonder why the opposite is so often assumed about women.

Like this fucking guy:

carisa 1 carisa 2

Because obviously, everything I wear is a message to the men. That gorgeous redhead is not me, but every woman has at some point had a guy take it upon himself to admonish her on her dress or actions because of the message it sends to men. Now, this crazy asshole is actively harassing said redhead to the point of printing out her pictures and posting them on the street with slut shaming messages. It’s its own brand of mindfuck scary, and a somewhat extreme example.

Girls get sent home from school for a bared shoulder or knee because it distracts the boys. Conversations with strange men turn gross if I have cleavage showing and they seem genuinely surprised when that doesn’t turn out well for them. Fuckwits like the commenter in the above images believe they are entitled to harass performers for wearing costumes. And old, unattractive fellows feel compelled to lecture beautiful young women on the dangers of eating pastry before acquiring husbands.

And we go around encouraging this kind of thinking by gobbling up articles that tell us what men disapprove of in women and allowing ourselves to be convinced that our actual personalities aren’t sufficient to make us lovable. We drown in a sea of judgement, even as we are fighting off male advances with a stick. Does this seem really fucking stupid to anyone else?

Of course appearance sends a message. In some, the message is, “I have no fashion sense” or “I didn’t look in the mirror before I left the house today” or “I really need to do laundry soon”. Almost never is the intended message, “Hey you, come fuck me” or “I am desperate to attract a man with my elaborate hairstyle” Can we please try to wrap our heads around this?

There’s nothing wrong with wanting to attract a mate, a fuck buddy, or whatever. But attraction is rarely ever based on the kind of judgy bullshit found in these articles and online harassers. Guys that want to go around saying what women should or shouldn’t be are never the kinds of guys one ought to attempt dating. They are in fact usually the ones who have the least success in love, and place the blame on women to save their precious egos from self examination.

This works in reverse as well. This is not in fact just another feminist rant. It is however written from the perspective of a woman who has just about had it with being told that guys who want partnership and companionship at least as much as I do are somehow out of my league unless I conform to some made up standards of beauty and behaviour. I’ve never found that to be true. I may not know How To Get a Man, but somehow this has never stopped me from getting them, and it doesn’t need to stop you, if you want one. There are lots.

 

The time I got raped

Posted in Me stuff with tags , , on March 20, 2015 by idnami

Trigger warning: I’m about to talk about rape. Further warning: If you know me, you’re about to know a lot more.

Let me first of all say that I want no one to tell me how sorry they are that this happened to me. I do not tell this for sympathy and I find that phrase unhelpful and patronizing even when it’s sincere.

Also do not tell me how brave I am. Despite how really scary it is to tell this story, it isn’t bravery that has prompted me to do it.

I’ve talked more than once about how I feel that women should be raised and trained to take no shit from anyone. I’ve also mentioned how I’ve occasionally felt stalked and violated.

But I never have, possibly from embarrassment, or maybe thinking I ought to spare my readers the horror of the whole story, talked about the time I got raped.

See, it’s a source of real shame for me. It may be shocking to some, but I’m not actually superhuman. I’m not even extraordinary as it turns out, to the disappointment of me most of all some people.

Well, I figure, shame is a thing women get to live with a lot of, so read on if you can stand it. It’s not so bad.

It was so bad, actually. So bad my hands curl into fists when I think of it. Especially when I think of anyone else going through it. I’m tough and I could handle it. So what must they have gone through, those other women who got really raped? I moved on better than many women do, so it’s ok in my case right? No lasting physical harm came to me. Yet there is was. Rape.

He was a man I was very attracted to, had consensually fucked. Even earlier that same day. I knew he was dealing with things, bad things, in his head. See how I try even now to excuse it? We were in my apartment drinking coffee when he expressed his disagreement with some of my choices. He became agitated, then angry, then aggressive. I suddenly had to defend actions I hadn’t taken, face accusations with no basis in reality. He stood over me and I stood to meet him, indignant that he dared pull any such shit. Then he had my wrists in his hands and I couldn’t get away.  He threw me down and reached into his pants. I screamed no and struggled to get away.

He twisted my arms till I knew something would pop and I stopped fighting, because I saw in his face that he would break my arms and do it anyway. And he slammed into me, yelling slut and whore and bitch and I forget what else.

Afterwards, I threw him out of my apartment and never saw him again. His last words to me were, “Don’t you dare say this was rape. You wanted it the whole time.” I said, “Not this time.” and shut the door in his face.

Or at least that’s how I’ve told the story to the very few people who know. But the truth is even worse than that. I didn’t just get up and kick his ass out. I made lunch first. That’s the shameful bit that I’ve never confessed to a soul. I got up, cleaned myself up, heated soup and made toast. We sat eating at my kitchen table as if the awful thing hadn’t happened. I was in shock, I think. I was trying to restore a sense of normalcy, fit the experience into the boundaries of  sane interactions. It’s like I thought I could fix it with homemade chicken soup, like it was a cold.

The anger eventually seeped through the shock and then I did demand he leave and I never have seen him since. I couldn’t report it, of course. Who would believe me?

This is the shit that makes us question ourselves, that makes us feel sometimes that our stories aren’t legitimate. It is a scar upon myself and my self worth to this day, though it was years ago.

Sounds pretty weak right? But then I had the weeks of fearing that maybe I was pregnant or worse, and hiding that fear. My roommate came home and I acted normal, I saw friends later that day and acted normal. I said not a word to anyone and just got on with life. I got my period, had a reassuring STI test, and everything was ok. I didn’t come to hate men, or to fear sex or anything like that. But I will never forget the hatred in his face, and my own rage still burns.

This is why I say don’t tell me how brave I am. This isn’t brave. I started writing this in the wake of the Elliot Rodgers Isla Vista killings last year. I’ve been sitting on it ever since, opening it now and then to tweak and edit, stare at it and dare myself to hit the publish button. Rodgers and everyone like him, the stories I read on the #yesallwomen hashtag at that time, the reality I can’t look away from and can’t stop thinking about almost forced this story from me, but I never could quite work up the nerve to post it once it was written. I became terrified at my own audacity. I told myself it wasn’t kind to my friends and followers to share this story, that this was too much vulnerability to make public knowledge. I read over it again and worried that the legitimacy of the story was somehow diminished by the fact that I had previously had consensual sex with the guy. And the lunch thing. Good god.

I used to think feminism was almost there, that we were in the home stretch of building true equality between men and women. What a goddamn laugh. We have so far to go. And then we have idiot MRA’s and PUA’s, we have The Red Pill, religious oppression, online harassment, slut shaming and on and on and on. We have society, the media, our parents telling us to smile, be nice, be pretty, be ladies, and where is that getting us?

So I guess if I post this it’s pretty brave after all, and that makes me angry more than anything, because the shame of this should not be mine.

I hate having to post this story. But I can’t go around preaching feminism, encouraging women to tell their own stories while I hide my own. This post has been a huge stumbling block, staring at me every time I think of writing here, keeping me from moving forward even in my writing. And you know, fuck that. I was made a victim. I won’t continue making myself one.

We can’t shield and protect our abusers and hope to ever heal. We can’t judge each other’s choices when these stories come to light.

Now that that’s out of the way, if you’ve made it this far you should also know that I didn’t get into a car accident last year. My face looked like that because my partner at the time beat the hell out of me, and that is why he is gone. And I was sucker enough to lie to my friends to protect him. Fuck that too. Ironically, my records show that the last time I opened this post to edit and flirt with publishing it, was the day before that happened. Seems like a sign.

Thanks for reading.

Please, stop giving free publicity to awful celebrities

Posted in just opinionated, Rants with tags , , , on April 24, 2014 by idnami

Disclaimer: This is a subject about which I feel very strongly. What follows is an angry, sweary rant that some may find excessive. However the first draft was just one long stream of outraged profanity and gibberish produced by pounding my head on the keyboard in frustrated incredulity, so deal with it.

***

I understand. You’ve spent five minutes of your life that you will never get back watching in horrified fascination as someone famous does something repugnant. You did this because it’s viral because it’s terrible and you think, “If I can’t unsee this, no one else should be allowed to either.”

I am addicted to net vomit myself. I spend far too much time doing Buzzfeed quizzes. I frequently fail to resist (though I try. oh god I try) the vaguely titled clickbait on Upworthy. I have an uncanny knack for finding shit like this and this and this and this and oh god wtf is that?

K shut up, that Mister Rogers one was awesome. Otherwise… just woah.

I’m notorious for sharing this kind of crap. On my headstone it will say, “Where did she find this stuff?” My favourite thing to do with my sister is make her watch my latest finds when she comes over. She pretends to be disgusted but secretly loves them. She showed me that last link, so what does that tell you? Whatever you say, sis. Weirdo.

The biggest reason I love the internet as I do is because it has allowed all of us, the bizarre, the far left field and just plain fucked up members of society to have a voice and to influence the sense of humour of humanity forever… or at least until they invent something better than Youtube. I can’t help but just adore it this kind of stupid, crazy nonsense and I believe it deserves to be known far and wide.

But that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the real garbage. The stuff that isn’t awesome because it’s bad or ridiculous, it’s bad because it’s bad. It’s so inexplicably bad that it might not even know it is bad, and that’s the problem. There are people who are so famous, so used to having their own way and so somehow successful that they can do any damn thing they want and someone will give it a green light and back it with actual money. But we, the Internet, know it’s bad, and we express our disapproval by… sharing the everloving fuck out of it.

Yesterday, no less than seven times on social media, I saw links to the latest Avril Lavigne/Chad Kroeger collaboration. This unholy pairing of blasphemers of all that is rock have co-written a “song” that is an utterly heinous offense to music, lyrics and taste. It’s accompanied by a gawdawful, indescribably dreadful and frankly fucking stupid video that no one can goddamn resist forcing upon their fellow man. This despite every one of the articles carrying the video stating that the Internet has unanimously panned it for being officially the worst thing ever. Instances of this video are being pulled down all over the net. Yet a persistent gaggle of journalists have insisted on preserving and promoting it in all its douchebagging glory and now it’s fucking trending. And no I am not posting a link. You can just Google it yourself if you care that much. Better yet, use Bing, since your standards are already in the toilet.

But we love to revel in our superiority, right? By sharing the content and our negative opinions of it at the same time we continue to guarantee our place within the tribe of Cool, Socially Acceptable, and Definitely In No Way Affiliated With These Clueless Louts Cuz Please Dude, I’m Just Sharing This To Show How Stupid I’m Not.

So let’s consider for a moment the actual results of all this misplaced contempt-promotion. Every click on Avril’s website is… one more reason for her to keep making this shit! Remember the Miley Cyrus VMA “scandal”? How everyone talked for weeks about her “shocking” performance? That did more for her career than a thousand approving reviews could have. The US petition to have Beiber deported back to Canada? Do you know how many young, impressionable Canadian girls are just dying to comfort that little shit the second he crosses the border?

These people are just happy we are talking about them, and it just encourages them to do more idiotic things. If we could just shut up about them for five goddamn minutes they would get the results they actually deserve.

They would be ignored. Not even ostracised. that takes energy and gives them too much power. No. Simply forgotten. Bereft of the Food of The Celebrities: fame, controversy, paparazzi, buzz.

Stop wasting your time on these people. Stop giving them your clicks. Please, please for the love of all that is good and right, stop encouraging their assininery with your attention and foisting it on everyone else. Let them die in the oubliette of internet obscurity, them and all their kind.

I made it through about a minute of that Lavigne vid and it was a minute too many. You may be thinking that if it’s this worthy of anyone’s ire that you need to see it, share it and mock it at length, but if you do you’re playing right into her record company’s hands and helping her stay in the spotlight, when there are so many talented people who deserve to be there more. Are you a robot slave of the rich and famous? No? Then knock it the fuck off.

I’ve been guilty of the same, and I want to do my part to make up for that, so I make you this promise right now. I will never again promote any one of these dumbfucks. I will not mention the Cyruses, the Beibers, the Nickelbacks or their untalented wives in this blog ever again. Just do me a favour and stand with me on this. I’m just one blogger, but together we can help make the internet a better place for everyone. Well, except those guys. Fuck those guys.

 

Enforced gender roles, and why they need to die

Posted in Goddamn feminism again, Me stuff, Rants with tags , , , on January 31, 2014 by idnami

When I was a kid I wasn’t allowed to have toy cars, GI Joes, short hair or a room that wasn’t pink, because I was a girl. I had to wear pretty things and play with dolls and act like a little lady. This despite the fact that my mother had served in the military, refused to wear a dress and was all in all a terrible role model for traditional femininity. The pressure to be girly abated somewhat as I grew older. This was possibly due to her dawning realization that years of encouraging my Barbie fetish was placing her in real danger of having a little fashionista to support. I think she was secretly relieved when I embraced heavy metal, ripped jeans and band t-shirts in junior high. She didn’t express her gratitude very well however, and went around drawing crosses through all my pentagrams.

I also wasn’t allowed to phone boys, despite one of my best friends being one. I was supposed to wait demurely for him to call, even if I had an important question to ask about an assignment we were working on together. I eventually won that battle when I pointed out that my bad grades would be all her fault, and get with the times already, Mom!

If these things seemed really stupid back then, they seem straight up absurd to me now. Why was she telling me that I had to like pink and ruffles and shit “because you’re a girl” when she clearly didn’t? Why couldn’t I have toy soldiers “because they’re boy toys” when she used to wear combat boots? Why in fuck’s name was a boy supposed to read my mind and call me when I wanted to talk? Why was she equipping me for a future she herself had rejected?

Because she made some assumptions about my potential based on my gender, assumptions instilled in her as a little girl being forced to wear pink ribbons, and for a long time retained them even in the face of contrary evidence. And we all do it, all the time, and we need to be aware of this. Some of us have worked hard to root out our assumptions, but I think it isn’t possible for most of us to entirely escape the habit. When you are daily barraged by deeply ingrained social thinking habits, it’s really hard not to take them on. And when you don’t happen to fit the mold, it’s really hard not to get pissed about it. And guys? Very few of us fit the mold.

In case you’re thinking this is me going off on a feminist rant, I’m about to go to bat for the dudes too. My aforementioned boy-bestie stopped playing with me for a week one time because of the merciless teasing of the other boys after they caught us playing with my dolls. The fact that we were drowning the dolls in a puddle in the schoolyard while pretending to be badass evil giants didn’t change this a bit, and he got humiliated for it. So we switched to pet rocks that we drew faces on, and he built an entire house for them out of cardboard which he delighted in decorating. And it didn’t stop there. By puberty he had developed a great love for Madonna and made a series of videos called MaJohnna: The John Ambition Tour, in really bad drag. And now he’s a gay rights activist who successfully sued the pants off a preacher for gay-bashing in the church newsletter. Which I suppose goes to show that if rotten little third-grade bullies call you gay, they might be right. And that’s fine. So why do they have to be jerks about it?

More than once I’ve been told that sexism and gender-based privilege/disadvantage is mostly in my head. Oh yeah? Tell that to the trans folks of Reddit. It occurred to me that the only people who would have a really clear understanding of the way gender is perceived in society are people who’ve lived both sides of the question, so I asked. And yes I used Reddit. Don’t judge me.

The answers I got were a pretty insightful look at the specific issues each gender faces. The men said that they had an easier time finding work in engineering and mechanical fields than they had previously, as well as better service in places like auto parts stores. One guy said he had a gender neutral first name and as soon as he started referring to himself as Mr. Kelly Smith (as opposed to just Kelly Smith) on his resume he got a lot more callbacks regardless of the type of job he applied for. However they also found that people were less friendly to them in general and that they felt under a lot more pressure at work. One guy who worked in call centers both pre and post transition said that angry customers held back on him a lot less as a man.

The women who answered said they felt validated and frustrated at the same time. Validated because the guys holding doors open for them and helping carry their stuff was proof that the world now regarded them as female. Frustrated because they were treated like children, taken less seriously, talked over in conversations and objectified in a way they’d never imagined.

So yeah, this is a problem. A big, ugly, widespread, universal problem that gets reinforced every time someone says, “Man up, pussy.” Take a look at that phrase and see it as the insidious and telling statement that it is. Man UP, because you are acting like a clearly inferior person of the sort that has a vagina. Elevate yourself above that weak and emotional vagina having-like state and be a man, which is clearly a better, stronger, smarter thing to be. Bro.

Truth. Also truth? Betty White never said this.

The more trans people come out, the more I realize that gender isn’t a binary, it’s a spectrum, and it really has fuck all to do with what’s in your pants. Much like intelligence, competence, strength and aptitude has fuck all to do with what’s in your pants. So get your mind out of my goddamn pants! When the same person with the same qualities, same intelligence, same skill, same mind and same soul gets suddenly treated as inferior because she grew a pair of tits, we as a society have a very long way to go.

So let’s go there. Don’t shame men for “feminine” traits like feelings. Don’t call assertive women bossy. Don’t make your son feel weird if he happens to like playing with dolls, and if you don’t want your daughter to grow up with a deep suspicion of things mechanical and a crippling phobia of driving that persists into adulthood, maybe just let her play with the damn toy car. Maybe we can evolve into a society of well-adjusted persons who aren’t limited by our genitalia.

Yeah, that’d be nice.

Life with a lazy eye

Posted in Me stuff with tags , on January 7, 2014 by idnami

eyes

It’s not just my ass that’s lazy.

As a toddler, I constantly had so many bruises my mom thought I was a hemophiliac or something. She finally got scared people thought she was beating me and took me to the doctor. Turns out I walked into things all the time because I couldn’t see properly. There’s a reason my family nickname is Grace.

I wore glasses from the age of two but the lazy eye wasn’t discovered til I was six, and I spent most of first grade with a patch over my other eye in an attempt to correct it. It didn’t work, and now I’m kind of weird looking. This does not stop me from getting all the dudes.

mememeBecause I’m hot.

A lazy eye, or Amblyopia, means that the brain doesn’t fully process visual signals coming from one eye, forcing the other one to work harder. This causes the “lazy” one to gradually develop a massive inferiority complex (see how YOU feel if people call you lazy all the time) and eventually just despair at the sheer futility of it all and stop trying, or, in my case, to become a terrifying secret weapon. More on that later.

So I have two eyes that will never look in the same direction no matter what. My right eye always drifts a little bit up and to the right. If I make the conscious effort of focusing with my right, the left one wanders off to the left and the world becomes a dull, blurry mess because now neither of them are doing their job. My favourite explanation for this is as follows:

Small child: Why are your eyes funny?

Me: They got in a fight a long time ago and haven’t spoken to each other since. When one wants to look at something, the other one takes off in a huff.

Small child: What? That’s stupid! How can your eyes fight?

Me: Look kid, I don’t know what was said and it’s none of my business anyway. Talk to your shoelaces next time they untie each other and see if you get any answers.

Small child: …

Usually only little kids will ask the question so directly. Most adults I interact with will eventually ask, but in an apologetic, self-conscious manner. Usually the question is, “Um… look. I don’t mean to be rude, or embarrass you but… um… which eye should I be looking in?”

I think this question is amazingly polite and brave as they are concerned enough about making eye contact to risk bringing back memories of childhood trauma and humiliating mockery by cruel kids in my school. Eye contact is very important to me, so kudos to them. Nonetheless I’m sometimes tempted to pretend I don’t know what they’re talking about and fake a bewildered panic attack when they insist I look in a mirror.

The answer of course is, “The one that’s looking at you, dumbass.” Because if the other one is looking at you, bad things are probably about to happen. More on that later.

Only twice ever has anyone, including the mean kids at school, said anything rude about it. One was a coworker’s meathead boxing instructor. He didn’t say it to my face but my coworker (a douche) gleefully quoted him as having said, “Oh, she’s got one of them googly eyes. Tell her to let me know if she ever needs it punched straight.”

Well I never.

I calmly responded, “Let him know that next time I see him I’ll slap some respect into his fucking ugly head.”

More recently, a random dude at a bus stop at 8 am walked up and said, “Hey! Whatsamatter with your eye?” He then spent the next 10 minutes stammering apologies, because I expressed my low opinion of his manners and looked at him with it. Poor guy. I’m really not a morning person.

I generally don’t feel self conscious about it, though it does get annoying when I get tired, as it tends to drift further and people begin glancing over their shoulders to see who I’m talking to. It’s an odd beauty mark of sorts and I’ve discovered thanks to a Photoshop experiment that my face doesn’t work at all without it. If you think I look weird with one eye staring off somewhere to the right, both eyes straight is downright creepy. I’ve noticed a tendency to accentuate and draw attention to it. I part my hair on the right and my makeup always turns out just a little more perfect on that side.

As a psychic, witchy type person it’s a very appropriate feature to have. Back in the good old days it was considered a “witch mark.” Though arguably anything was considered a witch mark back then if they wanted your property bad enough. However it does lend visibly to my mystique. And strikes terror into the hearts of all who would oppose me.

That’s the fun little bonus feature to my so-called “disability.” People find it disconcerting as fuck when I look at them with it. I don’t know why, since it really limits my ability to see, but occasionally when I need a status boost in a situation I’ll instinctively switch cameras and stare a person down with my dead, expressionless, vision-impared right eye and they will lose their nerve completely. I’ve made large, threatening men back away slowly simply by looking at them. I once won a sparring match the same way. I saw his facial expression change, his shoulders drop and his confidence drain in a split second. It’s incredibly satisfying when this happens. Sure taught that guy at the bus stop not to make rude personal comments to strange women.

The only person not affected this way is my boyfriend who loves it and gives it kisses and will occasionally cover my good eye and talk to it, which is strange but very endearing.

Not only that, but I have excellent right-side peripheral vision and I can, no shit, see around corners. I use them independently in a way that would give a normally-sighted person a screaming headache. This makes me fucking awesome.

Of course, my depth perception is for shit and I still walk into things all the time, but everything comes with a price.

Getting better at getting better at doing stuff

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on January 2, 2014 by idnami

2013 was the year maturity finally descended on me, like a heavy blanket. I don’t know what it was, but on my 36th birthday I felt that I left childhood behind, or that adulthood caught up with me, or something. Anyway, I started to feel like it’s about time to take some shit seriously.

I’ve never been a terribly methodical person. I tend to accomplish big, audacious things in fits of blazing inspiration, intuitively dancing my way through a project, never exactly knowing what I’m doing, just that I have a vision that demands to be manifested. And I’m damn good at doing things that way. I’m good at leaps of faith, problem solving on the fly, dodging obstacles that loom directly ahead with Jedi-like reflexes. I’m good at daring creativity, tempting fate, getting my way.

Maybe more like Cat Woman. Yeah, that’s me right there.

What I have not been very good at is building things that last, being consistent, thinking ahead and making long-term plans. This is the shift in thinking that has begun to signal my emergence into grown-upedness, in that I’m actually starting to gravitate towards long-term goalmaking rather than my usual spectacular flash-in-the-pan style.

Of course, it occurs to me that this shift may itself be a flash in the pan, another of my big ideas that will become a momentary obsession until I get sidetracked by another big idea and let it fizzle out. Give me another month and I may be writing that I am selling off all my stuff and moving to a third world country to help build roads or something. But, for the time being, I am toying with and meditating upon adopting some better thinking and planning habits. I read this article on goals vs systems, and I think it is a good approach to what I’m trying to do.

So, everyone gets all retrospective and self-examinatory at this time of year. I tend to avoid that kind of thinking, and never make New Years resolutions because they are really made to be broken so what’s the point? But, having had the benefit of a nine day vacation with a pretty even mix of socializing and total solitude, drunken partying and quiet contemplation, some basic changes to the way I operate have started to appeal to me. So, here is a list of my intentions for the upcoming year. Not resolutions, not goals, but intentions. As I will, so mote it be.

#1. Stay focused on education. 

Discovering that university-level education on pretty much any damn thing I could want to learn is available for free online  absolutely blew my goddamn mind. I’ve always wanted to study English Literature, and I found a major course of study on it. But here’s the kicker: it costs nothing, and therefore if I’m flighty and uncommitted I lose nothing. Don’t get me wrong, this is great! But the problem with a butterfly like me being handed an absolute mind-boggling smorgasbord of free, open education could mean I do nothing but dabble and never get anywhere. I started English, and then realised that I could also take French, which has been a goal of mine for years since I wasted my high school opportunities in that direction by paying no attention whatsoever and flunking spectacularly. But wait! If I take Philosophy as well then I can have WAY better arguments with my friends who study it. But… holy shit! Business Admin! that’d be useful wouldn’t it? And… and… and…

Dude, you’re a writer. Stick to English. And French. And just do the Philosophy minor maybe. There are only so many hours in a day and you still have to sleep. I will commit to at least 1 hour of study, at least 5 days a week. Yeah I know it’s not much but some of us have jobs, and other stuff we want to do, like…

#2. Commit to better nutrition and fitness.

This sounds dangerously close to a resolution but I tend to go in cycles. In the summer I’m extremely active. I bike at least 2 hours most days, eat fresh, healthy foods, drink lots of water, etc. In the winter I become a lazy, self indulgent bastard. I cannot (will not!) tell you how much butter I’ve managed to go through in the last week alone, never mind all the cookies, roast fowl, heavy desserts and cheese. God, so much cheese. I’m not sure when I last ate a vegetable that wasn’t cooked in duck fat or a fruit that wasn’t encased in cake or pastry. Or bacon. Bacon wrapped apples are amazing. And so is chocolate covered bacon. Mmmm, bacon.

I love you, too.

I generally wind up spending the first half of the summer working off the previous winter’s pudge, and this year is going to be more challenging than most if my current waistline is any indication. The snow won’t be melting anytime soon. So, not with the goal of losing weight, but of incorporating better habits as a lifelong lifestyle, I’m going to simply look for ways of moving more and eating better. The goal being that if I still want to eat an occasional bag of chips I won’t see the evidence accumulating to an unmanageable degree. I will dance more, walk further, swing the goddamn kettle bell until I can go up to a heavier weight, eat salad, drink water and so on. And I won’t push too hard to place undue pressure on myself to achieve, since whenever I do that I always burn out and wind up backlashing by sitting around for a week and a half with a bunch of cookies in one hand and a glass of wine in the other.

#3. Write more.

If you scan through my blog it illustrates really nicely how flighty and inconsistent I can be. I’ll write things in clusters, lose my motivation for a month or two, then write again on wildly varying subjects. Impressively, I appear to have gained a following somehow. When I look at my site traffic it has increased a lot in the last year, steadily except for the massive spike when one post went viral, which would have been neat had I thought the writing was actually any good. But now I average about 40 hits a day when I haven’t written anything new lately and a couple hundred when I have. Not bad! But I want more. Lots more. So I have to hone my craft, write every day even if I don’t post it, keep on with my English studies to improve my skills and give me new ideas, and publish a new post at least every two weeks without fail, every week if possible. And shamelessly self-promote, which means getting better at using social media besides Facebook.

So these are my plans, not only for the coming year, but forever. This is a scary proposition for a commitophobe like me, but I think I can handle it. Eventually I will finish English and be fluent in French. Then maybe I’ll learn Spanish or piano or winemaking. But my biggest intention is to avoid becoming distracted by every shiny thing that twinkles by. There will be days when I say “fuck it” and watch cartoons instead of working out or go dancing instead of study, cuz dammit I’m not that grown up, and never plan on being. This is not commitment to some boring old concept of self-improvement so much as focusing on the things I love (books, writing, getting read, looking good in a short skirt) and getting what I want out of life. Not what I’ve been told I should do or have but what I want. And I’ll do it on my own terms. They’ll just be better, smarter terms. I’ll keep you all posted on how that goes. Weekly, or close to.

Unless I move to Australia and take up surfing.

Fuck it. Yeah. Totally surfing.