Monday, November 2, 2015

Open Letter to a Scumbag

Dear Scumbag,

You recently posted on your Facebook (yes, I can still see everything you do, motherfucker, and no I won't tell you how) that your grandmother would have a lot to say to you right now if she was alive. Let's talk about that, because I'm sure as hell she didn't raise  you to be unfaithful or to be such a liar. If I accuse you of cheating to your face, you will lie, you will backpedal, just like you did years ago when all I wanted was a casual fuckbuddy and you swore it was over with your girlfriend. But it wasn't, and I realize this is a pattern with you. You weren't done with her when you were asking me to send you nudes, and you weren't done with her when we started fucking. And you swore, during our 5 year relationship that you weren't the type to cheat on a woman. You swore you'd work on our problems and not cheat on me. The fact that so many of our fights were about my lack of interest in sex and that you would repeatedly say "I haven't cheated on you yet because I love you" should have been a red flag. But I was blinded by love. I took the blame for my lack of libido and clung to hope. But you know what? Fuck you and the fucking boring sex we had for five years. Fuck you and your excuses when I'd tell you the sex was boring. "I'm too tall for that position to work" "we just don't fit that way" (maybe because you were too fucking fat and unwilling to change, maybe your dick is too small). And when I got suspicious of that coworker you started talking a lot about? Fuck you. I had a right to be suspicious, and I was right. A month after you dumped me, I found out about her. And I did the math. And I tell you what, an emotional affair is still an affair, even if you're not getting your dick wet. But most off, how dare you lie to my face on the day I sit crying on your couch as you dump me and I straight up ask "is there someone else?" How dare you lie to me and say "no, I just need to be alone for a while." I can take the cheating. But how dare you insult my intelligence by lying to me. Did you think I wouldn't find out? I'm more Internet-savvy than you. You knew this. Did you want to get caught? There was a short time I thought we could remain friends, but not any more. You fucking disgust me. I realize after 5 years I wasn't anything to you. You didn't dedicate Facebook albums to me. You made excuses every time I talked about moving in together or marriage. You didn't care. You're the most disingenuous, disgusting scumbag for wasting my time for so long. You knew my stance on children 5 years ago when we met, went with me when I got my tubes tied, so suddenly you're a family man? Fuck you. Fuck you and your cheating, lying, fake self. You've freed me by breaking up with me. You've freed me to go back to the person I was, who I always was in my heart, and I've gone back to living my life for me. Oh, and I've had more amazing sex since you dumped me than we probably had in the last year. So thank you for that. Thank you for showing me I should never have trusted, should never have committed to a relationship, just like my instinct told me. You took a bird and caged her. Now I'm free. I'm on the prowl for men better than you, even if for a casual fuck. Because there's an honesty in being a slut that you don't get. You didn't play the game right and I hope she cheats on you like you did to me and the one before me. I hope you feel pain and betrayal. I hope you're lied to and your trust shattered, like mine was. I hope you hurt. Have fun with your downgrade, asshole.


Your Again-Slutty Ex

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Dead Inside

I have, for several years, described myself as "dead inside" but it's hard to explain to other people exactly what that means. For such a finite term as dead is, a feeling of being dead inside is terribly complex. My two favorite bands, Tool and Ludovico Technique, both have songs with the over-arching theme of being dead inside, and I've been able to relate to them although they're vastly different songs with different themes of inner deadness. Let's start with the Tool song, Bottom.

Back in 2012, I wrote about the type of mania you don't usually hear about when people talk about Bipolar disorder. I had this month-long episode of rage mania that was frightening, to say the least. It was a constant, overstimulated, adrenaline-fueled, heart racing episode of palpable rage. And in that time, I did my best to channel it, even if it involved driving around with Bottom on blast, screaming along to the lyrics that at the time spoke to my soul: "Dead inside/Hatred keeps me alive/Loneliness keeps me alive/Weakness keeps me alive/Guilt keeps me alive/At the bottom." I was fueled entirely by my hate and anger all while wrestling this angry demon in my head, which the lyrics "If I let you, you would make me destroy myself/In order to survive you/I must first survive myself" seemed to so accurately describe. I don't pretend to know Maynard James Keenan's personal connection to the song but this song is one of my personal descriptors of my mental illness.

Living with a mental illness sucks, but the medication can be worse. At my highest dosage, I was on 900mg of lithium, which isn't the highest adult dosage, but my doctor deemed it was the right amount based on seemingly endless blood work. Lithium is supposed to even you out, make the cycling between mania and depression less frequent. For some people, it works. I felt like a zombie. I tended to cycle more toward depression, and never had any highs. I didn't feel passionate about things any more. A lot of the time, I didn't feel.

When I hear Ben V.'s lyrics for Dead Inside "Draining/Regenerate this spiraling mind/how will I be alright/when I'm Dead Inside... Balance/was a trace/of something misplaced/before all was uneven" it reminds me of my struggle with Bipolar, that deadness I felt while on lithium, that desperate search for myself because I felt lost inside myself, behind the medication haze. Eventually, I made the decision to come off lithium, with the support of my doctor. I am not a medical professional and my experiences may not be the same as yours. Always consult your doctor about medications! Being off lithium has been the best thing for me, honestly. Yes, I have manic episodes, and downswings into depressive episodes; that's just life for someone with Bipolar disorder, and that's why I keep this blog, so I can learn about my disease and share my experiences.

I still describe myself as dead inside. I'm in general a pretty happy person. But there's that part of me that lives in moral ambiguity, that part when mania takes over and I become a little reckless, that part that just doesn't care. Am I being succinct in describing this part of me? Probably not. As I said, it's a terribly complex feeling. The connection to music during rough patches, though, has been monumental.

Just being able to identify with the lyrics and know I'm not the only one that feels dead inside, but can function as a human, is immensely comforting. I could take the entire day and dissect each song line by line and explain how I relate to it, but I won't. Just know, Maynard and Ben, that your music has touched me and means the world to me, more than you can know.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Getting A Part of Me Back

Lately, all I've wanted to do is live, eat, sleep, breathe art. I almost feel like Ricky Fitts from American Beauty when he says "I need to remember... Sometimes there's so much beauty in the world, I feel like I can't take it, and my heart is just going to cave in." I  feel more alive and more mentally awake than I have in a very, very long time. Maybe it's a combination of factors that has brought my creativity back to life-- being back in academia, listening to music that opens up my mind to different thoughts and challenging the status quo, stimulating conversations with people I truly respect. I've gone out into the world and found beauty and sometimes it's so much it makes me weep, whether it's music, or a piece of art, a statue. If you've been following along with this blog, you'll have seen I've been much more active in writing, and if you follow me on social media, you'll see I've started photography again after not really doing it for a very, very long time. 

My mind has been so active, nonstop, for months, and sometimes it's hard to organize and channel those thoughts constructively. Long drives help. Listening to music helps (but often adds to the overstimulation-- blessing or a curse?). I've done a lot of introspection and reflection on the past also. There was a long period of time in my life now I realize I was simply too dead inside (I'm still dead inside) to even feel any passion for anything. Was my passion killed by the medications meant to even out my bipolar disorder? Probably. Was it killed by trying to live for others and not myself? Definitely. Was it dampened by being in unhappy job after unhappy job? Absolutely. 

What I know and what I am certain of is that life is a constant journey of exploration. I want to dive into my academic studies, I want to make art and have stimulating conversations. I want to lose myself in music. I want to challenge my way of thinking and perceiving the world around me every day. I feel free, I feel alive. I feel like me again.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Sometimes I Get Defensive of my Brain

10 Internet points if you know what this is from!
This post is brought to you today by Melissa being a huge defensive bitch to someone who is, essentially, a stranger. The conversation started innocently enough, but then when the person said "you're missing the point" I went immediately on the defensive and replied "no, I get it. I'm not daft." And then I stewed on it and apologized for getting defensive. And I stewed some more and and felt awful for being such a bitch to someone who didn't deserve it, then I tweeted about it, and stewed in the car some more, thought about it in class, remunerated on it all the way home and now we're here. Why the hell did I get so defensive, especially at someone who doesn't know me and I don't know them?

I guess I've always felt the need to defend my intelligence. I've always felt written off for being female, for being pretty, for being sexual, for being from a more rural area (but it's not quite that rural) and so, my intelligence has always been a sense of pride for me. So much so that when my high school anatomy teacher jokingly insinuated the our class was the lower-level, lower-intelligence class, I got so angry I threatened him. It feels arrogant to say to someone, "look, I'm smart" but Jesus, sometimes I feel like I have to. I am smart. Nothing rankles more than when someone talks down to me, and then usually I get nasty and put them in their place.

Women can be pretty and smart. Women can be sexual and foul-mouthed and be smart. I have a degree. I'm working on a Master's. These are things you can't accomplish with looks, but with brains. Don't discredit someone based on their looks. Don't write off the quiet, shy person either. Don't assume someone is less intelligent because of how they dress. Just, don't be an asshole and treat people like they're stupid? Just a thought.

And for the person I got defensive with this morning: if you're reading this, I truly do apologize. You didn't deserve my bitchiness.

Monday, September 28, 2015

You Don't Have to be Sexual to get the Attention of People That Matter to You

The Internet is a huge place full of people and information. I love the Internet. I love social media and the global community it creates, but I'm going to get real fucking serious here, and pretty damn honest. Yes, I flirt with guys online, and sometimes it leads to an exchange of pictures. I'm a consenting adult, in full control of my own sexuality. It's harmless fun, "spank material" if you will, with other consenting adults. Imagine my surprise tonight when I got a private message from someone I have a hell of a lot of respect for (we'll call him "L" for privacy reasons, since he is a public figure) telling me that one of my spank material guys often inappropriately messages minors. I was horrified (even if my initial response seemed flippant) and grossed out. I stewed on it for hours. I messaged L back asking "how the hell do we help young girls protect themselves?"

I completely understand what it's like to be an insecure teen, having a mad crush on a gorgeous, unattainable guy (or girl, whatever). Suddenly, after weeks or months of yearning, that person looks at you, or, in the world of the Internet, likes your Instagram photo, likes your Tweet. Inside, your heart flutters, and you think "they finally noticed me!" It's elating. Even as an adult I get that way sometimes, everyone gets a little star-struck. But when you're a teenager, it can be problematic when your obsession is a legal adult and you are not.

So where does it go from there? Adults on the Internet have a certain responsibility to interact with people appropriately. When someone is clearly under age (especially if their profile says their age) it is incredibly inappropriate to leave comments of a sexual nature. Bottom line. I don't care how much older a person looks than their age, they're still a kid and unable to provide consent. I liked L's response to how he handles responding to his fans online:
"You'll notice I only ever respond to people on IG [ed: that's Instagram] with a none (sic) romantic reply. I never leave hearts or sex stuff.. ever. I want the fans that interact with me to know that you don't have to be sexual to get the attention of people that matter to you."
 Emphasis on that last line is mine. It may seem hypocritical, coming from someone outwardly sexual like myself, but that statement is so, so important. I get the lack of confidence, I get the elation at being noticed, I get it, but by putting yourself out there sexually, as a minor, you're not only attracting negative attention, but the wrong people. Because there are, sadly, people out there that will exploit the vulnerabilities of insecure teens and that leads to a downward spiral of potential sexual abuse. No. It is sexual abuse. Teens can't consent, and if you exploit them when they're vulnerable, knowing that you're attractive enough to get what you want from an emotionally fragile, naive teenager, you're a sexual predator of the worst kind, and I don't have any more time for you.

So what the hell do we do? Well, let's get rid of this bullshit patriarchal idea that girls are only worth how their bodies appear, and that they must always present themselves as desirable to get attention. I was that ugly, fat girl, and as an adult, well, I look pretty on Instagram but I'm pounding away at my keyboard right now with a horrible pimply mess on my face and hair that's gone too many days without washing. Men still find me desirable, even when they see me gross as fuck. It's because I'm intelligent, confident, and assertive. Confidence and assertiveness I had to learn, they didn't come over night. I figured this out on my own, but that was really pre-Internet and social media, so it  was a different time.

The question is, how do we help girls now find their confidence, to attract the right people into their lives? A lot of it is education and parental involvement. We hear sensationalist news reports about online predators, but are we having actual two-way dialogues with kids about how they present themselves online? Actual, true conversations that don't involve shaming? A true predator can easily identify and exploit a vulnerability. There are a lot of resources online, and a few links I found interesting to start with:

How To Have "The Talk" With Your Kids (About Internet Safety, That Is)
Raising Confident Daughters in a Changing World
Talking to Kids and Teens about Social Media and Sexting
A Girl's Nude Photo, and Altered Lives

I don't pretend to have answers on this. It's a tricky, complicated subject that needs to be approached with sensitivity, and honestly, the best way is to start a dialogue with each other and also step back and look at our own interactions online. I welcome any conversation or additional resources.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Goth Subculture and My Personal Journey of Discovery

Recently, I was asked by someone not to change too much, because they liked me the way I was. And all I could think of was "I'm not changing." However, after some reflection, I realized that to some people, it may well seem that I'm changing. I can assure you that I really am not, but it's incredibly freeing to be able to express myself visually what I have felt since I was a teenager. As an adult, Goth is so much more attainable.

Last night I couldn't sleep, so I pulled up YouTube on my tablet to watch some videos, and I looked up a video by the Offspring that always stuck with me: Gotta Get Away. This video came out in 1993 I believe, so I would have been 13. Grunge was starting to become popular, and so many taboo things were becoming mainstream. The reason this particular video has stuck with me for so long is that it was really the first time I had been exposed in mainstream culture to people with body modifications. In this video there is a bald young man with two septum rings and pierced nipples, and young men covered in tattoos. Something in me clicked. Something felt right. The music of the 1990's fueled my creativity, Bands like Type O Negative brought a dark aesthetic that I identified with. The lyrics had meaning, and I would often listen for hours while writing poetry or drawing. As a teenager who had (as of yet undiagnosed) depression, I felt that deep connection, and I didn't feel alone.

Anyone who has known me for a long time knows I have always dressed in black (to the point that when I started wearing pink my Mom asked if I was okay) and have been into heavier makeup. I had a spiked collar, and lots of jewelry. I dabbled in Goth, got my toes a little wet. I used white face paint instead of foundation (WHY) and always wanted to be serious and sombre in pictures. At 15, I discovered Wicca. As I got older my spiritual beliefs evolved away from Wicca to general Paganism and my makeup improved (no more white face paint, thank god). I still wore primarily black, and I listened to a lot of metal, darker music, and a lot of other genres.

Goth culture has become more and more accessible to me via the Internet. I held back a lot when I was younger because I was the literal black sheep of my friend group. Even now, I don't know any other Goths, really. I was also afraid of the elitism in the subculture, and ostracism by "normal" society. One thing I have learned as an adult, as I advance into my 30's, is to stop caring what other people think. I got my first tattoo at 30. I started my second one at 32. Now, at 35, I have my snakebites pierced. I have wanted that piercing since I can remember. At least 17 years. And now I have it. I know a lot of people would think I'm trying to act young, or that I'm going through a phase, but I assure you, I'm not. This is who I always have been, just held back by fear. So I have the black claws, I have the tattoos, I have the piercing. Granted, I always say Goth is how you feel inside, not necessarily how you look, but I feel so much more comfortable in my skin being able to visually express myself. I may not have the awesome clothes (they're expensive and I'm useless at DIY anything) but I feel liberated and happy. I'm not trying to please anyone else any more, which is the cycle I keep getting into. I'm pleasing myself. I'm happy. And I'm still me.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

I Love Social Media

When I look at memes to the right, I can only think that they were made by technology-fearing old people. I know they're not, but when some people bitch and moan about "kids these days always on their damn phones" and how everyone is looking at a phone and tapping a screen, I tend to disagree with them. I'm one of those always-connected people. My phone is typically within visible range at all times, or in my pocket. Or my hand. My phone delivers my emails to me from my university, messages from my mother, texts from my friends, calls from my brother when he's drunk and waxing a bit maudlin. I love my phone. People who know me in real life know that I'm kind of shy, I take time to warm up to people and in general have a hard time making friends. So when people want to say that social media culture, Internet culture is ruining how we interact with each other, I'm going to heartily disagree with them.

I made a new friend today, all thanks to social media. It started with getting a follow on Twitter, then an exchange of tweets. Then realizing we had some stuff in common. This is what is wonderful and special about the Internet and social media. I remember back in the early 2000's when I first started using the Internet. One of the first places I visited was a Yahoo chatroom, where I made friends with people from all over. Then I moved on to message boards, where I made some long-lasting friendships on a Wicca/Paganism board. I still interact with those people to this day.

So fast forward to present time. Thanks to Facebook, I can keep in touch with my brother in Canada. I can keep up with my old college roommate and her adventures. I can see how my friends from computer club are and share their happiness and successes. I can network with former coworkers. And speaking of networking, via LinkedIn, I can keep my resume updated and build a network of professional connections. I can search jobs, and see how my old coworkers are doing professionally. If I want makeup inspiration, I turn to Instagram and Youtube, which is also a wealth of information for other things; I've often used it for Excel tutorials when I need to see how things are laid out. When I want quick updates on a celebrity, I turn to Twitter. In fact, I have gained a ton of admiration and respect for a band that is easily becoming my second favorite band of all time (Tool will always be number one) because of their interactivity with fans on social media. It's probably a huge time sink for them, but in turn they have an incredibly loyal fanbase. And you know what? I discovered that band when someone I follow on Instagram posted a picture of the lead singer and I got curious. If not for that, I probably wouldn't have discovered them.

Before  you judge someone for staring at their phone, ask yourself-- are they Skyping a family member oversea? Are they getting updates on a friend? Are they looking for a job or applying to school? Smartphones connect us in a way we have never been connected before, and social media enhances that experience by creating a global community. 20 years ago I would never have thought I'd have friends all over the world that were a Kik message or Facebook post away. If you told me then that I'd be able to talk to my brother in Canada for free through a social media app, I wouldn't have believed you. Sure, there's a lot of oversaturation of media that does come from social media and the Internet, and Pinterest culture has lead to a lot of people with identical tattoos (I won't rant about my loathing for Pinterest today, but that's one social media platform I don't use) but I feel the good outweighs the bad. As a global society, social media has given us insight into the plight of the peoples of other nations, social injustices and victories. Social media has brought us all together in a wonderful, beautiful way.

If you're interested in my social media presence, I'll pop some links below. Facebook is private but all else I welcome followers. All the links should open in new windows/tabs.

YouTube (there's not much on there)
And of course, you're already on my blog, so I needn't post that. :)

Thursday, September 17, 2015

On Fridays We Self-Care

I've noticed lately that on Thursdays I get into a kind of a funk. In a weird place between mania and depression, but not even-keel. Thursday is the last day of the week I have classes, and the most depressing class-- Environmental Health. The material is bleak and disheartening, to say the least. Part of being an unmedicated Bipolar is really being aware of my moods and how they change and what affects those changes. I have to constantly be aware of my actions and impulses and analyze them, question "am I doing this because I'm manic? Am I procrastinating on my homework because I'm depressed?" It's a lot of work. So I've decided that Fridays are going to be my self-care days, where I regroup, relax, and refresh myself. Living with Bipolar has been a challenge. Being unmedicated (by choice, and with doctor agreement) can sometimes mean mental fatigue, however it doesn't have to affect my quality of life in the least. I'm in a good place right now. I'm in school, which I have wanted to do for a long time, and I'm happily single. I just need to pay attention to the fatigue and take care of myself when my moods are out of whack, like they are today. Friday will be kitty cuddles and movies and reconnecting with myself. Imma be okay.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Are You Seriously Tryna Holla At Me?

I'm going to get my personal vanity right out of the way right now: I'm hot. I know I'm hot. I don't look my age and I'm really skilled at using makeup to highlight my features (mainly, my eyes). And I have huge tits. I may be chubby but I have confidence and I've been told that's sexy.

I recently signed up for because Jesus, look at me. I'm practically a vampire myself, and that's what I tell people. I tell them I come from a family of non-aging vampires and that's why we all look vastly younger than our actual ages. Plus, I have natural fangs. Anyway, I thought VF would be a good place to meet other Goths because I also live in Maine, and while I love my home state, it's very... rednecky? I don't see a whole lot of Goths around, and the ones dabbling in the scene are kids. So I thought joining a website dedicated to Goth culture would be neat, maybe I could have conversations with people and learn about events in my area, get exposed to new music and just overall drool over beautiful people.

What I got was a lot of lame attempts to hit on me. The most WTF-inducing was this one:
Can you kidnap me take me home and BBQ me for dinner?(:
...What? I didn't even respond. A majority of the initial messages I get are "heyy." How are you about to start a conversation with me with that? Jesus, as I write this blog now, another fucking bizarre message pops up in my inbox:
Would you eat an ant sized person for a billion dollars
...What? What the actual fuck?

Guys, seriously. I get that you see a pretty girl and you want to talk. Maybe get in her pants. But "heyy" will never get a response, and jumping into something weird and sexual also won't. I'm not looking for any sort of relationdateship right now, so if you want to get to know me and use that information to flirt, awesome. If you're lonely and need human contact and someone to talk to, awesome, because so does anyone else, and if you're relatively intelligent and polite, I'll give you my Kik user name. But sending "heyy" and then in the next breath asking for nudes? Rude. Now, I have met some really cool people on there and we have actual conversations. It's fun! It's stimulating! But man, am I disappointed in the lame attempts to get attention. I'm not going to cyber you, dude. Go away. Thanks for telling me I'm hot, I appreciate it, but the conversation is over. Go 'way.

Does that make me a bitch? I  don't think so. I hate to sound like one of those people that blames technology, but "heyy" seems to be the commonly accepted icebreaker these days, and honestly, I don't even give them a second glance. It's a burden of being pretty, that people want your attention, but I have a brain! Try harder! There's substance under this pretty exterior!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Don't Apologize for Being a Sexual Person

Recently, a single friend posted a meme about dating other singles, and I, as a recently single person (yes, it's true) suggested "just sleep around, that way emotions never get involved." I was promptly called "whoreish" by a pile of human garbage (a former coworker I've never liked and don't understand why people like her at all, but that's beside the point) but instead of rising to the bait to start a flame war, I replied "you do you" and left it alone. But honestly, that's why I have a blog, and I can't leave it alone. It's no one's right to make a judgement call on another person's sexuality and sexual identity. Gather 'round, kids, it's story time.

Here's a brief timeline of my own sexual growth (this will be TMI for some, so I understand if you don't care to continue reading):

Age 10: First discovered masturbation, completely on accident. Decided this was a good thing.
Age 16/17: Still a virgin, started thinking I might like bondage some day.
Age 21 (22?): First kiss.
Age 27: Lost my virginity (yes, a very late bloomer), first serious relationship.
Age 28 (almost 29): First serious relationship ends
Age 29: I buy my first sex toy (and worth every penny)
Age 29-30: I engage multiple partners and pithily give them Borg designations. I think I had as many as 5 going at one time
Age 31: My first (and only) bondage/flogging experience
Age 31: Second serious relationship
Age 32ish: My libido TANKS
Age 35: My libido is back after eliminating hormonal birth control
Age 35: Single again

What does this timeline show us? That I was a virgin until late in life and had to "catch up," that I am/was a raging slut, that I was a bit socially retarded with sex? Not really. Just because I lost my virginity at 27, doesn't mean I haven't always been a sexual creature. I discovered masturbation early on and the excitement of the lingere section of department store catalogues, R-rated scenes on HBO late at night. I read my friend's mother's romance novels as a teenager, opening them at the creased spine to the steamy parts. I was sexual, I was awakened, but I was shamed. It's a hard thing to express, and I think Pamela Madsen sums it up pretty well in her Huffington Post article:
What we are is fragmented and that is what we are conditioned to be. We are conditioned from the earliest of ages to successfully sever the core of our sexuality, that most basic of human behaviors, from the rest of our lives. 
I don't blame my parents. Ours is a family that doesn't talk about stuff, in general (it's a generational thing) and while my older sister I think tried to give me a sex talk (at which time my brother-in-law butted in an gave me the sage advice of "don't do it") I really relied on media to teach me. And I figured out a lot of things on my own. A lot of the things I figured out taught me that the media lied to me about sex, that society prioritizes and prizes the myth of female virginity, and that I should be ashamed that I masturbated and thought about sex:

We learn to feel ashamed of sexuality in general by being constantly exposed on the one hand to images and messages that say that sex is great and that happy, successful, popular people have sex and on the other hand to messages that say that sex is indulgent and sinful and wrong, and that it leads to disease and betrayal and death. We learn to feel shame about our own particular experience of sex and sexuality by being hit with a steady stream of messages that tell us the only sexuality that is okay is a very narrowly defined one (heterosexual, young, white, non-disabled, skinny, middle class people who do it to make babies and then once a week as an expression of their undying love for each other). The truth is that even if you are some of those things, none of us are all of them. Sexuality can't fit into such a narrow frame. In other words none of us meet this ideal.
Around age 30, I had something of an awakening. I had a "fuck it" moment and realized that at that point, I had been living my life for other people and not myself, and that included my sexual expression. I had come out of a serious relationship with my very first sexual partner and realized that there were other shapes, sizes, and flavors of men to experience, and there was nothing wrong with wanting to explore that. At first, I had to overcome the internal conflict; overcoming three decades of socially-induced sexual shame isn't easy. I had to rationalize a lot of things, and decided that, if I wanted to play and have multiple partners, I needed to take a more business approach to things and define a set of rules not only for them, but for myself. This held especially true when I set my sights on a married man. Yes, a married man. I won't say that I was right or wrong in it, but it was just sex, transactional, emotionless, tension-relieving sex, and a small bit of a power trip (okay, a big one) knowing that I was pretty enough and sexual enough to get a man to stray. I won't apologize for it. 

I won't apologize for any of the sexual experiences I've had, whether society finds them morally reprehensible or "unladylike" or what the fuck ever judgement society wants to pass. I treat every experience as a learning experience, and during the time that I had 4 or 5 guys on retainer, I learned a lot about sexuality, about what I like, don't like, how I am selfish, and how my partners were selfish (I had one that refused me oral sex but demanded it of me). I'm not going to apologize for being a woman who expresses her sexuality. I will not apologize for being a woman who has sex.

And neither should you. Never apologize for being a sexual person. Don't let others tell you you should be ashamed, that "women don't act that way," that you're not being "classy" (again, whatever the fuck that means). The sexual double standard holds that if I was a man, I'd be getting high-fives from my dudebros right now for my sexual past, but, as a woman, I am labeled a "slut" and "whoreish." 

Fuck. That. Noise. 

Do what you want to do and be proud. Fuck who you want to fuck. Explore. Try something new. Stop being ashamed that you masturbate. Stop lying to yourself that you don't enjoy sex when you do. If you want someone, approach them; what's the worst response, "no?" Be proud of your breasts, get to know your vagina and your clitoris. Explore. Be happy. But in no way, in no form, does anyone have the right to pass judgement on how you, as a person, are a sexual person, to impose their own moral belief-set on how you live your life. It'll be hard at first. Take baby steps.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Combating Depression

In the face of not having money because I haven't found a job (I've netted 1 interview in the 3--almost 4-- weeks I've been unemployed) I am starting to sink into depression. I'm having really bad depressive episodes where I just can't bring myself to do anything productive. I can't let myself be that way though. So, this morning, waking up to another "thanks but no thanks" email from a job I'd applied for, I started to feel myself sinking again. Plus, I had a killer headache. My original plan was to just let the headache go away, but instead, I:

1. Checked my gmail for job alerts
2. Applied for a job
3. Mid job application I registered for classes so I could have a set schedule to give employers
4. Took some Excedrin with a Pepsi for my headache
5. Talked to the financial aid office about being able to survive on financial aid if I don't find a job
6. Filled out my financial aid entrance counseling and promissory note
7. Looked up my text books on the USM website and compared them to Amazon
8. Saved those text books to my Amazon wishlist
9. Emailed my professor with my class selections (and got a response back with "you go girl!")
10. Updated my "about" section on Facebook to include grad school
11. Updated my LinkedIn account to include grad school

It seems like not a lot, but instead of "taking the day" and watching anime or playing WoW, I kept busy. Keeping busy is important, and I feel a little better, especially after John called and did (magical) quick math on what I would have left over from financial aid to live on. It's still scary, and I'm still broke until financial aid is dispersed later this month, but I'm freaking out a little less.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Let's Talk About Minimum Wage

Let's look at a picture some of my friends have posted on Facebook recently:

Look familiar? Even if it doesn't, it's something you've probably said, or heard someone else say. But can we honestly talk about how a) classist and b) incorrect this is? Let's. I'm going to start out that I'm not talking about a specific amount when I discuss why the minimum wage should be increased, because I feel that really should correlate with the cost of living in an area. For my area, for example, I think a $10- $11 minimum wage would be an appropriate and liveable wage. Let's continue.

1. If you've got minimum skills, minimum education...
This is probably the thing I take umbrage with the most. You see, I worked in a shitty, minimum wage job once in possession of a nice, expensive degree. Why? Because it was a job. To assume that people working in minimum wage jobs are unskilled and uneducated is classist, elitist bullshit. Sometimes it's difficult to find jobs in your degree field. Sometimes you get let go from a job and you need something to get you by. Maybe you decided you wanted to take a different path in life or are working toward a degree. Maybe you are skilled but no longer able to perform the job you were skilled in. 

2. minimum motivation and provide a minimum contribution to the workplace...
So we're again assuming that minimum wage workers are exclusively lazy, unmotivated ne'er do well's that only function to take up space and oxygen. Great. That in and of itself smacks again of classism, but also racism, but a surprising statistic shows that 77% of minimum wage workers are white, and half are white women. I personally know someone who has worked at a fast food establishment for... god, ages, because she genuinely enjoys her job and her customers. Yes, there are people out there that are content and enjoy what they do, shocking.

3. Minimum wage jobs exist due to demand of service
Like anyone, I get a craving for McDonald's fries and a double with cheese (and extra onions) from Wendy's. Since we don't yet have replicator technology, someone has to make these things. When I go to the bathroom in a public place, you damn well know a robot didn't clean it. And, when I buy something from a gas station convenience store, there certainly isn't a self-checkout. Whether you agree with raising the minimum wage or not, these jobs are necessary. 

4. But EMTs/Firefighters/the Military don't even make that much! Why should fast food workers and janitors get paid the same/more?
Just, shut up. Out of all those jobs, the only ones that make near the minimum wage is a Private (E1) with no experience. EMTs, commensurate on experience, can make anywhere from $14- $24 an hour, firefighters significantly more. Also, by devaluing workers at minimum wage jobs by saying they don't deserve higher wages because they don't save lives or fight for the country is divisive and leads me to my final point...

5. Wage gaps and keeping the minimum wage below a liveable amount is classist.
One day John took me for a drive through Augusta when I  saw a Rite Aid that seemed terribly out of place, not clearly located next to any other businesses or homes, so I said how odd it looked. He turned down the side street and pointed out a medical center, then a nursing home, and going much further down the street, away from view of the main roads, a housing complex, hidden away like a dirty secret. This was one of the pockets where Augusta kept their poor, sequestered and secreted away to stay poor forever. It made me a little sick. The national minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. Let's say I earned that and worked 40 hours every week, that would net me just over $15,000 a year. My rent is $600 a month, so right there, half of my salary would go to shelter alone, which leaves not a lot for car/travel expenses, food, or emergencies. Why are we doing this disservice to our poor, keeping them poor? $7.25 an hour is not a liveable wage for anyone I know.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Starting to Feel Real

Today, I met with my academic advisor for graduate school. I walked in not knowing what my semester should look like or what to do/how to do it (a lot has changed since my undergraduate days) and I left wanting to take every class and do everything. In just over a month (okay, a month and 3 days) I will be attending orientation and start building professional relationships with my peers. I'm excited, I'm nervous, and if I was a dog, I would be peeing on the floor uncontrollably. The wonderful thing about my program is that the classes are all (except for one 9am class, hell no) evening, starting at 4:10 and 7, once a week, so I can (hopefully) still work full time. I just need to find a job (fingers crossed, I have an interview Thursday for a job that I think I can work with my potential school schedule). I'm trying to keep my trips to Portland  to 2 or at most 3 a week because it took just under a tank of gas round trip today, and that will be expensive.

I'm starting to feel optimistic. I'm trying not to let pessimism overcome the optimism. On Friday, when I found out my unemployment claim was denied, I cried into the lake and wondered why I try at all. It's been disheartening, to say the least. Of over 10 jobs I've applied to between Friday and Monday, I got one response. I need this job, even if it's only part time. If I can get that, I may be able to swing survival during school if I use that and student loan run-over.

Monday, July 20, 2015

History Repeats

I started this blog back in 2012 when I became unemployed from T-Mobile, and now, here we are again, full circle, and I am once again unemployed. I've been out of work a week, unemployment and food stamps applied for, and waiting on decisions on both of those. I tell myself this time it will be different-- after all, in approximately a month, I will be heading to graduate school to get my Master's in Public Health. It's hard to remain positive though. Although well-managed, I still have Bipolar disorder, so I cycle between manic and depressive episodes (and more often than not, my mania is rage-filled and angry). Today is a depressive day. I'm sitting here with 4 tabs open for part-time cashier jobs thinking "I'm overqualified and they will never call me about any of these." But I need to survive, and I know Financial Aid alone won't cut it. The stress and anxiety are giving me a migraine, and I kind of just want to curl up and do nothing.

But I can't do nothing. I have to get my blood drawn to prove immunity to measles, mumps, and rubella for the university. I need to de-fluff my resume for entry-level jobs. I need to get my overgrown acrylics filled (and before anyone gives me shit for an unnecessary luxury like getting my nails done, this fill is a gift from someone). I need to get my prescription vitamin D refilled.

I'm trying to find ways to stay positive. I've thought about playing with makeup and maybe doing photo tutorials for my beauty blog. I've thought about walking every day (I've been more active, but not every day). I don't want to sink into the sucking, debilitating depression I went into in 2012. I can't. Most of all, to help counter that, this blog may be fully resurrected. I've been told in the past that posts here have helped people, here's hoping I can continue to, whether it be through my own personal experiences or ranting.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The Tubal Ligation Experience of my Dreams

Yesterday, I finally achieved something that I've wanted for a long time: sterilization. If you remember, in August, I attempted to have the Essure procedure done, and we had to abort it because my fallopian tube was spasaming and my doctor couldn't get a good implant of the coil. I left feeling heartbroken and dismayed, and with a lot to think about. I had chosen Essure because it was non-invasive and performed outpatient. I had chosen it because I was afraid of anesthesia, so when my only remaining options were to go under anesthesia, I really had to think about it.

Why am I afraid of anesthesia? Quite honestly, I watch too many medical dramas. Anyone remember that episode of Nip/Tuck where the patient wakes up? Yeah. I didn't want that to be me. I'm a rational person, though, so I did a lot of research ahead of time. I also had the support of friends and family who had themselves been under anesthesia, who were able to share their own experiences and allay my fears.

Of course, I got a lot of "why would you do that?" and ""what if you change your mind?" from coworkers. Others were surprised my doctor agreed to do it without me having any kids already. Ladies: if your doctor won't consent to you having a tubal without having a real conversation with you about your body and what you want, you need to find another doctor. My primary care provider has known I don't want children since I started seeing her in 2007-2008, and when I started making noise around 2010 about wanting to be sterilized, she said "you're 30, I think you know what you want by now." She referred me to the office that attempted my Essure procedure, and even there, I wasn't assaulted by a barrage of guilt-questions. In fact, the doctor only asked one: "what will you do if you and your partner change your minds?" to which I bluntly said "adopt, because 'get more cats' probably isn't socially acceptable."

I have to say, as nervous as I was about having an invasive procedure, I made sure I researched how a laparoscopic bilateral tubal ligation was performed so that I would be well informed on the day of surgery. As well-informed as I try to be, I have to give credit to the amazing staff at Maine General. I was brought to a room where my vitals were taken by my nurse, Linda, who reminded both John and I of the actress Francis Conroy and told us about the best Goth clubs (the best happens to be called The Castle, and is in Tampa, Florida, if you were curious). She put me a lot at ease and at one point, got into a debate with us about how many times Rutger Hauer has played a vampire in movies and demanded John look it up in IMDB. She was compassionate and personable and took great care of me. That's what a nurse should be. She was also the first of many of the staff to compliment me on my nails.

I had the lower left option
I met my anesthesiologist, Dr. Brackett, who was amazing. She listened to my concern about intubation (mainly, I wanted to avoid the discomfort of being intubated, not that I had a real medical concern) and she was all for not intubating me, citing studies she had read, however, her vote was outweighed by the rest of the staff and I was to be intubated anyway, which was fine. She also asked me about my teeth, and showed concern that my one front tooth is mostly dental composite (remember, I had an emergency root canal done a couple months ago). She and her anesthesiology team made sure I had a mouth guard in case I clamped down after the tube was taken out, which I never even would have considered a risk. I actually had a team of three anesthesiologists: Dr. Brackett, an attending, and a student. They were all awesome (and all loved my nails). They wheeled me into the operating room which was really cold, but wrapped me up in warmed blankets, so I was very comfortable. The put the mask on my face and didn't even make me count backwards, just a few deep breaths and then I woke up in recovery. According to John, I was only surgery for about 40 minutes before I was taken to recovery, and I was there for an hour and a half, coming out of anesthesia and receiving pain management (fentanyl, which I surprised my recovery nurse by knowing that it's often delivered in a trans-dermal patch).

From recovery, I was brought back to my room where my wonderful nurse Linda checked my pain, took my vitals (I remember the blood pressure cuff would automatically inflate periodically, which was cool). The most painful part, honestly, and I say this from the couch the following day, was the CO2 gas that they inflated my abdomen with. It actually felt like the worst period cramps ever, including the back pain (I told them it would probably go to my back and not my shoulder). I slept a lot yesterday, and John was wonderful, setting alarms and getting up with me so I could take my pain meds throughout the night in order to keep them constant in my system.

Now it's just recovery time, and a followup appointment in two weeks. I'm so happy that this was so easy, and so happy that, after this pack, I can go off of hormonal birth control forever. I'm happy that I have health care providers that listened to me, as a woman, about what I wanted to do with my body, and that political agendas weren't thrown around to suppress that. I can only hope other women have such a positive experience making similar decisions for their bodies.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why do we Make Medical Procedures Scary? Or, I had a Root Canal Today

After a night of excruciating pain, I called my dentist and they were able to get me in (for which I am very fortunate). A few months ago, I had had a similar pain in my front tooth, and it was caused by clenching and grinding. The tooth was slightly longer than the other, so it hit on my bottom teeth first and with more force, causing the ligaments attached to the tooth to become inflamed. I figured I had the same problem again, and thought "this will be a quick fix; he'll just drill down the tooth a little more again."

After x-rays, however, my hygienist (who has the most ridiculously long lashes but I'm too shy to ask if they're real or extensions) showed me on the film that I had an abscess. My mom used to get them when I was a kid, and I knew they were painful and dangerous if left untreated. Then I was told my two options: pull the tooth or root canal. Both options put me in a panic. I live in fear of having "Mainer teeth," meaning not all of them, and obvious gaps. I could not have a missing front tooth. I know, it sounds terribly classist to say, but image is important to me. The other option was root canal, which I had only ever heard horror stories about. I opted for the root canal. I knew what to expect from past research (WebMD is only a click away!) so the little informative video my hygienist showed me was nothing new.

I got a shot of Novocaine and then two shots of something stronger. I was so tense it was visible and my dentist had to tell me to relax. Now, it wasn't a painful procedure, by any means, since I was numbed up, but it was still very uncomfortable. Apparently, my tooth  was badly infected, as they needed to use surgical suction, which felt awful. A root canal, however, removes the nerve, so the tooth itself doesn't hurt. I could do it again, if need be (not by choice!). The relief was almost immediate. I'm still tender and afraid to eat (I'm in the "draining" process. The canals get filled next week) but compared to this time last night, I'm so much better.

We all experience things differently, but we need to talk in a more positive way about medical procedures. Root canals aren't fun, but it wasn't the absolute horror show everyone always makes it out to be. Kind of like having a pap smear, I worked myself into an anxiety over something that was just not that bad. Had I ignored the pain (ha!) the abscess could have gotten much worse, eaten through the bone of my jaw, and even caused sepsis as it seeped into my bloodstream (I actually have another abscess in a wisdom tooth that I need to get pulled because that's what it's doing, draining into my bloodstream). I'm starting to wonder what other "awful" procedures are just not that bad.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

We Are Not Our Diagnosis

I originally started this blog back in 2012 as a way to process and cope with my diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder I. I felt the need to be candid, as at the time, I couldn't really find people talking openly about their disease. I explored my struggles with being unemployed, tracked mood swings, sometimes talked about what I was reading or watching. The blog, in turn, became a reflection of my day-to-day life. I haven't kept up with it as well as I would like in the past couple of years. I wanted to write last night, but I was too emotional and hadn't had the time to process my feelings or form coherent thoughts on the matter.

Recently, a man was shot by a (relatively new) police officer at the outpatient offices of the state psychiatric hospital. A few days later, he was identified as someone I had worked with, who I had recently trained at work. The article listed off all of his mental health disorders, which left a sick feeling in my stomach; I couldn't help but feel his privacy was being violated. I felt incredibly heavy and sad as I read the dossier and the laundry list of suicide attempts. Why was that necessary to publish? He will be in the hospital for a while recovering from the use of deadly force (why was that necessary? Why? And why was a rookie cop sent alone to deal with an escalated situation like that?) but I couldn't help but wonder how he would be treated if he returned to work.

I know, deep down, how he would be treated: people will ostracize him, fear him, avoid him, and be cruel to him. I already know people are gossiping; I have made it a point to avoid interacting with anyone that worked around him and am focusing on the class I have. I really don't want to hear malicious gossip about it, hear people say "he sat right next to me! He could have snapped any time!" Stop. This isn't about you.

The person I know was enthusiastic and eager to learn in class. Even after graduating class, he would get excited about his sales and share them with me. The person I know laughs at his own horrible pun jokes. He will openly bum a Pepsi from you on Wednesday and buy you a replacement on Friday. He enjoys walking in crisp weather while listening to heavy metal. He is friendly and loquacious. He is not Coworker With Schizophrenia. He is not his diagnosis, no more than I am Melissa with Bipolar I.

Behind the gossip and whispered "OMG I worked with him," and the "did you hear?" we must realize that he is still a person, a person with real feelings, with a name. He is not his diagnosis. He is a man who met a breaking point in life, but also a man who realized he had an illness and was voluntarily seeking help.

So please, if my coworkers read this, I don't want to talk about this, not at work, not outside. I don't have time for the gossip. My mind is preoccupied with concern for his well-being, that he heals well and without complications. He was not my friend, per se, but he was my student, and good person.

And he is not his diagnosis.