Going everywhere and nowhere at once.

With the awesome help of my sister, I finally found a place to live. It’s a room in a recently divorced dad’s house. Fairly large, private bath, all utilities included. I start moving today.

I should be more excited.

It’s not that I’m not relieved that this came up so serendipitously. I am. But. It’s all happening very fast. I emailed on Saturday. Saw it, agreed to take it, dropped off paint so my new roommate/landlord could paint it on Sunday. Picked up the key and dropped off the first month’s rent on Tuesday. Starting to move today.

As I said last night to my husband, this is the first time (save for a week and a half twelve years ago) I’ve ever lived with someone I don’t know. Ever. So there’s that.

There’s also the fact that I still don’t think I can be fully me there.

And then there’s the thing that hit me as I was packing up this morning.

This all is just a constant reminder of why I’m here in the first place. And it makes it hurt all over again, almost fresh. I had gotten to the point where talking about it didn’t hurt much anymore, and I could say her name without wanting to puke. But now, packing everything, it reminds me of the last time I put things in bags. Heart blown apart with betrayal, but functioning in numb auto pilot. Preparing to get the fuck away from it and not be hurt again. Anger simmering somewhere beneath the surface but too afraid to look at it.

Just keep moving forward. Just keep going. Just get out.

I was in the middle of doing laundry when I found out. Our laundry. The sheets from what had become our marital bed. I wanted to cut them into strips. Set them on fire. Leave them out on the lawn and uproot a tree and just set the dirt ball on top. Some kind of physical representation of what it felt like he’d done to my heart. Our marriage.

Instead, I folded them. I folded his clothes, too. I piled them on the bed and got my shit together and left.

It may be part of my PTSD kicking in, or hormones, or just the overwhelmingness of the whole damn situation, or maybe all of the above. All I know is it feels like I just found out all over again. Except this time, I’m letting myself feel it, sob about it, grieve.

When I found out in April, something in my brain shut off emotion. Yes, I had glimpses of anger and grief, but they continually got overrode by auto pilot. Don’t feel. Just do. I talked to my sister before she had an interview for a job she wanted. I couldn’t break down on the phone with her while she was going into the interview. So I auto piloted it. I called my brother-in-law to ask if I could come back and explained the situation. I couldn’t lose it on the phone with him; he was at work. I just kept it together. I just kept going. I felt numb and removed from myself talking to my husband that night. Piecing things together. Getting confirmation. Hearing the pain and anger in his voice.

And telling our girlfriend. Leaving her, too. Knowing I was too broken deal with any relationship. The lack of trust I felt in just about the entire world was staggering. I’ve never been like that. Well, that’s not entirely true. I haven’t been like that in decades. I have had what others have called a sunny personality, but when I was younger, it was an act. Even wrote a song about it. Now, I try to believe the best in people, not feed into the negative. I don’t watch the news. Yes, I know there are murders, kidnapping, pedophiles, rapists, and all manner of other sick, shitty people out there. I try to focus on the good. I spent too much time growing up being afraid. Shutting out the bad, you actually wind up shutting out the good as well. I learned that the hard way. So I gradually opened up. Accepting the light and dark in humanity, even myself. But when smacked directly with the dark, I had a lesson in the practical application of the light and dark we all carry. And I didn’t know how to process it besides self-preservation. Get to higher ground where you can be safe. So I headed to the place where I’d had the closest thing to stability I’ve had in years. And here I am now. Reminded that the place I came back to isn’t mine anymore. Because I chose to leave. Coming back, I knew my time here was limited. My sister says this will always be home if I need it, but…it can’t be. There’s no place for me anymore. So I’m moving out on my own. Except I don’t fucking want to be on my own, really. Yes, it’s nice to think about how to decorate a space that’s wholly mine, since I’ve never had that. Yes, it’s great that I’m getting some independence. Yes, it’s wonderful that I found what seems to be a clean, safe place to live.

Someone dear to me recently said that he found it surprising that I was able to talk about burlesque. Given that I’d put years of my life into it, and the way I left was wrapped up in complicated, he expected it to be complex, at best, to talk about. When really, it’s not. I miss the people. I miss the performing. I miss the preparation. But it’s not…I had already been gearing up to phase more towards becoming a mother. I was preparing for it long before it happened. When it did, it sucked that it was at the same time as finding out about my husband, but it wasn’t really that which made me make the decision. It contributed, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t planning to leave until I seriously was planning to get or actually got pregnant.

Why do I bring this up in the middle of everything?

Because yes, decorating, independence, and clean, safe places to live are things worthy of celebration. But that independence? Sure, it’s great to push out on my own and all…but I just…don’t want it. I want to be married, dammit. I want children. A family. A unit. To be part of, belong to, feel connected to. This is what I’ve been working towards. What I’ve been hoping and praying for.

I know I can’t have it now. I know this is, though it may not feel like it now, moving forward. I know and have been told that that there is time for children, a house, a solid marriage. It’s entirely possible that my husband and I will come through this and be more solid for it. As evidenced by referencing talking to him above, we are talking regularly now. There are seeds of hope. I don’t know what that means for the future, but it’s where we are now. Seems to be a theme. I don’t know what this means for the future, but it’s where I am now. Since that’s really all I can control, I guess I have to work with what I’ve got and go pack summore stuff.

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“I’m not an addict. (Maybe that’s a lie.)”

So, what do you do when you wake up in the middle of the night, worrying about where you’ll be sleeping in a month, concerned that you don’t make enough money to move out on your own, plagued with conflicting thoughts about your marriage and what to do about it, reeling from family opinions telling you you’re not mature enough, berating yourself for not doing more than you are even though you’ve pretty much packed your schedule tighter than a duck’s ass, still mourning the loss of people you love and thought would be in your life forever, head swimming from the sermon your minister gave today about how fragmented we’ve become, wondering if you’ll ever find a place where you felt like you fit in as much as you did when you first found Rocky Horror or started a burlesque troupe, missing the Northeast yet feeling a slow, spreading love for the South, questioning your ever-evolving ideas about polyamory vs. monogamy vs. open relationships vs. dear-god-please-just-hold-me? Wait…you don’t eat half a bag of Ghiradelli milk chocolate chips? But…

It’s not a habit, it’s cool; I feel alive.
If you don’t have it you’re on the other side.
I’m not an addict. (Maybe that’s a lie.)

It’s over now, I’m cold, alone.
I’m just a person on my own.
-“Not An Addict” by K’s Choice

Yeah. I’m totally an addict. A sugar addict. I fought the label for years. Justified it. Hid it. Beat myself up over it. Lied about it. Spent money I didn’t have to get a “fix”. However, comparatively speaking, it is cheaper (in the short run) than antidepressants.

Sometimes, I don’t even realize I’m addicted because there used to be such a steady stream of sugar into my system that I didn’t pay much attention to it. That’s just the way it was. Grab a doughnut (or two, if you order the special at Dunkin’…plus coffee, light and sweet) for breakfast (because eating something is better than eating nothing, right? Justification much? Anyway.). Have a soda with lunch. Pile on the salad dressing. Eat some cookies as a snack. Dip (and dip and dip and dippity dip) the chicken in BBQ sauce for dinner. Nom upon a cupcake for dessert. Enjoy girly “adult beverages” while late night TV-bonding with your sister. There was a time this was a pretty accurate snapshot of my daily sugar intake.

Currently, I don’t do nearly as much of these things on a daily basis. I’ve weaned myself off soda and sweet tea, and rarely do coffee drinks anymore. I try to steer away from doughnuts for breakfast even though my niece is a terrible, horrible person for telling me about the local place that makes them just like Krispy Kreme. I have an “adult beverage” 1-2 nights per week. I tend to enjoy my salads with far less dressing these days, and most times will do the “dip the fork in the dressing then spear pieces of veggies” rather than slather.

Modifications are good. That and the 4-5 paid hours of exercise a week I get these days have helped save me from ballooning to an even unhealthier weight. But let’s face it. I’m already at an unhealthy weight. Sure, some of the things I’ve told people over the years are perfectly true. When I was younger, I was in tap, jazz, ballet, gymnastics, musical theatre, and modern dance. Not to mention the fact that I rode my bike or roller skated everywhere and if I wasn’t doing that, I could usually be found at the park running around or in my or a friend’s pool. I was hella active and as such, I’m much more limber and strong than I look. I still dance and love to teach water aerobics and can kick ass when taking an aqua zumba class. On the rare occasion that someone wants to know my weight (and I tell them), they are generally surprised. They knew, of course, that I am overweight. They just didn’t think it was that much. Someone once told me that I carried myself so well that no one would ever know I had self esteem issues about my body, nor what I really weighed.

It’s great to know glamour spells still work sometimes.

Underneath it? Fairly toned, fairly strong (and getting stronger every time I work out), fairly obese, fairly addicted to sugar to even me out. Fairly scared to show my naked body to anyone. In the past, people I thought were supposed to love me and accept me said some fairly hurtful things about my body. That’s hard to get past. Even as I know there are people who’ve expressed appreciation for my body, ranging from my husband to the date I had who wanted to know my thoughts on going to a nude beach (My answer: not favorable, thanks. I mean, I don’t have a problem with other people being nude, I just don’t have enough self confidence in my own body to do it. Also? I hate beaches in general. Now skinny dipping in a pool with the right people…I might could get my head around that some day. But I digress.)

As I’ve said above, I’ve tried to gradually decrease my sugar intake, especially as I’ve been doing more research and reading lately (including starting to read the book called Deep Nutrition: Why Our Genes Need Traditional Food by Catharine Shanaham, M.D. and Luke Shanahan that a dear friend bought me a few months ago) about sugar and healthier diets.

Speaking of, how’s this for mind-blowing? As a woman, I’m supposed to only have up to 25g of sugar a day. That’s 6 teaspoons. The bag of chocolate chips I’m all-too-quickly making my bitch? 220g of sugar per bag. If I’ve eaten half of it (Fine. More than half by now. Shut the fuck up.), that’s at least 110g of sugar just for that one snack. FOUR TIMES the amount I should have. And that’s not counting the mostly healthy fruit smoothie I had (because natural sugars count, too), the salad dressing I had on my chef’s salad for dinner, or the cherry lemonade I had with lunch.

Seriously, my name is Genevieve and I’m a sugar addict.

One of my favorite authors said in her book Such a Pretty Fat: One Narcissist’s Quest to Discover If Her Life Makes Her Ass Look Big, or Why Pie Is Not the Answer:

“To whom the fat rolls…I’m tired of books where a self-loathing heroine is teased to the point where she starves herself skinny in hopes of a fabulous new life. And I hate the message that women can’t possibly be happy until we all fit into our skinny jeans. I don’t find these stories uplifting; they make me want to hug these women and take them out for fizzy champagne drinks and cheesecake and explain to them that until they figure out their insides, their outsides don’t matter. Unfortunately, being overweight isn’t simply a societal issue that can be fixed with a dose healthy of positive self-esteem. It’s a health matter, and here on the eve of my fortieth year, I’ve learned I have to make changes so I don’t, you know, die. Because what good is finally being able to afford a pedicure if I lose a foot to adult onset diabetes?” -Jen Lancaster (last sentence emphasis is mine.)

I closer to 40 than 30 these days, and while I can barely afford to keep myself afloat without living on my own so I definitely can’t afford a pedicure (although I never thought I’d like them as much as it turns out I do!), I still need to worry about losing limbs to adult onset diabetus. (Which, btw, I used to think was just a comical way of saying it but living in the South I’ve learned that people really pronounce it that way.)

Because really…I’m addicted. I get shakey when I haven’t had sugar in a few hours. I physically and emotionally relax when I eat chocolately goodness. Within the first bite. It doesn’t matter how much I love vegetables and fruit if I eat more sugar than I do fruits and veggies. If I eschew an apple in favor of a brownie sandwich at Taco Bell. If I almost finish an entire fucking bag of chocolate chips in a 12 hour period.

Thankfully, I know what I need to do. I’ve done it before. Quite simply, stop. Cease eating processed sugar in the obvious snack/drink/dessert forms. Then start cutting out the hidden sugars like sauces/dressings/prepared foods/white starches and carbs. It’s going to be hard. Especially living where I do. I love my sister’s house, but there are at least 4 different kinds of white bread in the house at all times, not to mention the adult beverages, ready supply of chocolate, clearance baked goods, pasta, and impressive array of delicious sauces. Yes, I recognize these things as the excuses they are. No one is force feeding me any of these things. However, it is a slightly easier to begin a new dietary regime when the people around you do as well to limit temptation. But again, that doesn’t make the poor choices I’ve been making anyone’s fault but my own. There was part of me that was waiting until I moved out to really attack my addiction head on. I had dreams of leafy greens and bowls of fruit, nary a processed granule of sugar anywhere in the vicinity of my enlightened abode. Which basically boils down to buying into the “Arrival Syndrome” of “I’ll be able to do this once all the conditions are right. I’ll be happier and healthier when things are exactly as I want them, some time in the nebulous future.” Bullshit. If I’m going to make it happen, I need to just fucking make it happen. I’ve got to learn how to handle myself when it seems like everyone in a ten foot radius of me is mainlining sugar. How to make healthier choices regularly, instinctively and not just after a binge. How to put on my healthy girl panties and stop letting “well, my family made pasta for dinner so I just have to eat that” be an excuse and cook my own damn food if I need to. (And suck it up and deal with the fact that yes, I’m creating more dishes for myself. Bright side: whooo, more standing and movement is better than sitting on my ass!)

So it’s going to come down to picking a day and just doing it. Like I said, I’ve done it before. On October 1st, 2010 I threw myself into paleo. Gave up sugar (except for a once a week “treat”) and cut wheat from my diet. I did it successfully for many months and lost a little bit of weight. Not nearly as much as I thought I would’ve, though. I have to keep in mind that I’m also fighting with my thyroid and PCOS. But those can’t be used as excuses for why I can’t get healthier. They need to be further incentives.

I know it’s coming soon. It has to. Because there are things I want to do that I can’t right now: jump into the arms of someone I love and wrap my legs around his/her waist, be fucked up against a wall, shop in “normal” stores where clothes are less expensive, and be a good role model for the kids I still distantly hope to have one day. Also, at some point, I will be able to afford (or be treated to) pedicures regularly, and goddamnit, I want to have both my feet so I can get both of ’em painted up pretty.

Okay. Fine. Saying it’s coming soon isn’t changing anything. Saying I have to isn’t doing it. So. September 15th, 2013. That is the day. I will change my life, my eating habits, and make consistently healthier choices. It’s about fucking time to, once again, Go For It, Genevieve.

Disquieting thoughts

The last few weeks have been incredibly tumultuous. My work schedule has been upended, but I still don’t make enough to move out on my own yet. I just came back from a business trip that spanned two states and new experiences, as well as seeing my estranged husband and ex-girlfriend for the first time in four months. On top of all this, I’m beginning the paperwork for divorce, looking for more work, trying to schedule the work I have, all while trying to figure out my life in terms of what I want relationship-wise.

Most recently, a very dear friend asked me to remove the phrase and/or theory that I “wasn’t/am not good enough” from the equation and then delve into why my marriage to my ex-husband and ex-wife didn’t work. What it taught me. What I would do in hindsight. He suspected these were things I hadn’t fully answered…only scabbed over. He acknowledged that it would be hard (if possible) to answer. But that it is also a piece of me that’s missing and without having a better grounding in that piece, I won’t be able to make sense of the other pieces I’m struggling with pertaining to current relationships.

He’s right. As he frequently is. I’ve been thinking about it.

One of the things that’s kept coming up for me, for over a decade, has been hard to articulate. But this blogger hit the nail on the head with a recent post:

At the same time that I have an intellectual appreciation for the approach of polyamory, I think I still have the emotional approach of monogamy. I don’t know whether that’s because I’m naturally more of a monogamous person or because I’ve been socialized to think of intimate relationships only within the bounds of monogamy. In either case, though, I find that I am emotionally attracted to the idea of loving one person more than anyone else. Of having a favorite. And being someone’s favorite.

I’ve been really hesitant to admit that, even to myself. I’ve converted to polyamory, after all. Anything short of the ideal is weakness in myself. I can’t allow jealousy to rule me. You know? I hate being weak. I hate not being able to follow my convictions.

And I am afraid of the idea that polyamory may not be right for me. If it’s not, then what am I doing with my life? What will I lose when I change course? It’s almost too scary even to contemplate, which now that I say it out loud, I find very interesting.

I know I can love more than one person. I do love more than one person. I have, for many years, loved more than one person. Even right now, not technically being in any romantic relationships, I love more than one person. But for me, the practicality and reality of being in polyamorous relationships haven’t…worked out as well as I wanted.

The triads I’ve been in have short-circuited my brain and heart in one way or another. The second could’ve been because I didn’t fully heal from the ending of the first. And also that it imploded spectacularly from a direction I didn’t see coming. But it also could’ve been because I’m not wired that way. Not sure.

I dated a few people, with permission, while I was married. One person was also married, himself. The other person didn’t have a significant other. It sometimes felt that the relationship with the person who didn’t have a SO got a little imbalanced. She wanted a SO and might’ve wanted me to be hers, but that wasn’t what I or my husband and wife wanted. But still, both were good for their duration, yet I wound up ending both to focus on my marriage. A friend once told me he thought I might be looking for things I wasn’t getting at home in outside relationships. So I redoubled my efforts to invest in my marriage(s). Two months later it(they) were over. They’d been ending for a while, but still…it was kind of like a mega blow. Within two months, four relationships were over. God, I’m not sure I ever put those numbers such plain terms. Two months after that, I was laid off. Two months after that, I moved halfway across the country. The first half of 2012 was all about change. The latter half was…fuck, the latter half was just as change-driven as the first. New jobs, new loves, engagement…and now we’re 2/3’s of the way done with 2013, and I feel like I’m just catching my breath and actually looking at things. Finally processing, finally trying to make sense of things instead of hurling myself headlong into the crazy winds of change.

And what I’m coming up with is all over the damn place.

I’ve read many essays on more egalitarian and less couple-based polyamory, which made sense. This one, especially, by sexgeek railing against “polynormativity” got to me. Hit way too close to home. I began testing in my head that maybe I didn’t have to do couple-based, hetereosexual(ish), hierarchical, rules-laden poly. Maybe I should truly do what the authors of The Ethical Slut preach and “let each relationship seek it’s own level” without imposing my own desires and possibly fears on them. I spoke with some close friends. Asked them how they “do” poly. A friend who expressed interest in dating me (after I’d had proper time to heal from the boatloads of upheaval) mentioned that he thought I was more heterosexually inclined. The pansexual poly chick in me bristled. No. I love everyone. Boys, girls, girlyboys, and butchie babes, trans…whatever. It didn’t matter the body you were in. I typically like a balance of male and female in the people I’m attracted to.

However.

It seems that my track record says something different. It seems that my current desires say something different.

There’s a likelihood that I just haven’t given my new thoughts and ideas enough time to take wing.

Another possibility is that I’ve spent and continue to spend so much damn time searching for answers and solutions to problems that might be solved if I were more honest with myself.

I’m not sure which it is. But I’m leaning towards the latter.

Which means that my first marriage(s) might’ve ended partly because I was constantly trying to make the relationship be something that it clearly wasn’t. And when it clearly wasn’t, instead of coming to the conclusion that I didn’t find it fulfilling and I also didn’t feel comfortable or fully engaged, alive, loving…nor like I was being fully engaged or loved, and then instead of acting with grace and dignity and leaving, I stayed. And continually tried to make myself fit. Many times I checked my grace and dignity at the door to try again and again. “We’re working on some issues” became the subtitle of my love life. My sister finally said to me a few years back that relationships do take work, but they shouldn’t constantly be so much work. In the end, she was right.

But what was it I wanted? I wanted a primary relationship with my then boyfriend, turned husband. I wanted to special. I wanted to the be favorite. And I wasn’t. Or at least I quickly became not. There are some even further difficult implications this has that are hard to admit. It may not be anyone’s fault. And maybe the fact that I was looking for that meant that I wouldn’t find it. I don’t know. But this knowledge is really fucking disquieting. I don’t know what to do with it right now.

Long post about LGBTQ (and poly, too!) YA fiction is long.

So in the wee hours of this morning when my head wouldn’t shut off but also wouldn’t focus properly, I found this site called gayya.org which is all about LGBTQ Young Adult fiction. They have a pretty fantastic reading list, and welcome suggestions for more titles to put on the list (I sent them four.)

They also have an Online Resources page, where they link to “blogs, websites, and authors” who support LGBTQ YA fiction. I suggested youngadultmag.com, the online YA magazine I’ve written for. To demonstrate the LGBTQ inclusiveness of the site, I shared links to the lesbian poly story I wrote (did I mention the reading list for this site also includes YA books that have some form of polyamory? It’s part of the last category!) and a currently featured, first-in-a-series (called Reflection of a Leader) story, written by a dear friend of mine, centering around about a HS teacher and coordinator of a student LGBTQ group.

The reading list on the site was pretty comprehensive, so I’ve copy and pasted it here to spread the word, give me (and anyone else, if you’re the curious type) an idea of what I’ve read, add some commentary, and also help me to pick new books to check out from the library. Which, can I just say that even though I’m living in the South now, my library has a heartening stock of LGBTQ books? One of the newer ones on the Lesbian list, “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” just came out and the library had it ready to go!

LESBIAN CHARACTERS AND PAIRINGS
Gravel Queen by Tea Benduhn
How Beautiful the Ordinary edited by Michael Cart <- WONDERFUL book. Loved it.
The Miseducation of Cameron Post by Emily M. Danforth <- just got it from the library last week
The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer
Down to the Bone by Mayra Dole
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden <- one of the first lesbian books I read. Made me love the Temple of Dendur even more.
Good Moon Rising by Nancy Garden
Sister Mischief by Laura Goode
Perfect by Ellen Hopkins
A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner
The Bermudez Triangle by Maureen Johnson
Torn by Amber Lehman
Gravity by Leanne Lieberman
Ash by Malinda Lo
Huntress by Malinda Lo
My Tiki Girl by Jennifer McMahon
Kissing Kate by Lauren Myracle
Tripping to Somewhere by Kris Reisz
The End by Nora Olsen
Between Mom and Jo by Julie Anne Peters
Far From Xanandu by Julie Anne Peters
Keeping You A Secret by Julie Anne Peters
Rage by Julie Anne Peters <- Incredibly good, and deals not only with lesbian teen characters, but an abusive one.
She Loves You, She Loves You Not by Julie Anne Peters
Luna by Julie Anne Peters
Grl2Grl by Julie Anne Peters
The Will of the Empress by Tamora Pierce
Scars by Cheryl Rainfield
Empress of the World by Sarah Ryan
The Rules for Hearts by Sarah Ryan
Inferno by Robin Stevenson
The Sweep Series by Cate Tiernan
Please Don’t Kill The Freshmen by Zoe Trope
Pink by Lili Wilkson
Hard Love by Ellen Wittlinger
Love & Lies by Ellen Wittlinger

GAY CHARACTERS AND PAIRINGS
Vintage: A Ghost Story by Steve Berman
Baby Be-Bop by Francesca Lia Block
The Value of X by Poppy Z. Brite
The Vast Fields of Ordinary by Nick Burd
Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You by Peter Cameron
How Beautiful the Ordinary edited by Michael Cart
Dance on My Grave by Aidan Chambers
With or Without You by Brian Farrey
The Screwed-up Life of Charlie the Second by Drew Ferguson
My Heartbeat by Garrett Freymanm-Weyr
The Man Who Folded Himself by David Gerrold
Jumping off the Planet by David Gerrold
Bouncing off the Moon by David Gerrold
Leaping to the Stars by David Gerrold
Two Parties, One Tux, and A Very Short Film About the Grapes of Wrath by Steven Goldman
Mariposa Club by Rigoberto Gonzalez
Last Exit to Normal by Michael B. Harmon
Geography Club my Brent Hartinger <- This is part of the “Russel Middlebrook” series (as is the title below this listing) which centers around Russel and his friends in high school. This series is awesome to me, especially, because it features one of YA fiction’s few openly bisexual female characters.
The Order of the Poison Oak by Brent Hartinger
Jack by A.M. Homes
Tricks by Ellen Hopkins
Totally Joe by James Howe
Freaks and Revelations by Davida Wills Hurwin
Freak Show by James St. James <- OMG, I don’t think I’ve ever read a more fabulous character in all of literature than Billy Bloom.
Another Kind of Cowboy by Susan Juby
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher
My Most Excellent Year: A Novel of Love, Mary Poppins, and Fenway Park by Steve Kluger
Out of the Pocket by Bill Konigsberg
The Last Herald Mage trilogy by Mercedes Lackey
Absolutely Positively Not by David LaRochelle
Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green & David Leviathan
Boy Meets Boy by David Leviathan
Wide Awake by David Leviathan
Love is the Higher Law by David Leviathan
Absolute Brightness by James Lecesne
Dramarama by E. Lockhart
The Year of Ice by Brian Malloy
Twelve Long Months by Brian Malloy
The Wicked Lovely Series by Melissa Marr
The Straight Road to Kylie by Nico Medina
Hero by Perry Moore
Sunblood by Maria Mora
Shine by Lauren Myracle
Exiled to Iowa. Send Help. And Couture. by Chris O’Guinn
Sprout by Dale Peck
Blood Hound by Tamora Pierce
Do You Know That I Love You by Mark A. Roeder
Obscura Burning by Suzanne van Rooyen
In Mike We Trust by P.E. Ryan
Saints of Augustine by P. E. Ryan
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Saenz
The Rainbow Boys Trilogy by Alex Sanchez <- ADORED this trilogy.
So Hard To Say by Alex Sanchez
Swimming in the Monsoon Sea by Shyam Selvadurai
A Really Nice Prom Mess by Brian Sloan
Stick by Andrew Smith
Big Guy by Robin H. Stevenson
The Blue Lawn by William Taylor
Please Don’t Kill THe Freshmen by Zoe Trope
Peter by Kate Walker
Dishes by Rich Wallace
My Heartbeat by Garret Freymann-Weyr
A vigil for Joe Rose by Michael Whatling
Bad Boys by Diana J. Wieler
Teenage Rewrite by Brandon Williams
What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson
Hushed by Kelly York

TRANS, POLY AND QUEER PAIRINGS AND CHARACTERS
I Am J by Chris Beam
Speaking Out – Anthology edited by Steve Berman
Mariposa Club by Rigoberto Gonzalez
Jumpstart the World by Catherine Ryan Hyde
F2M: The Boy Within by Hazel Edwards and Ryan Kennedy
Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher <- It was good. But I also remember it not being as good, to me, as Luna or Parrotfish (see below).
Radiant Shadows by Melissa Marr
The End by Nora Olsen
Luna by Julie Anne Peters <- I love Julie Ann Peters. She’s my hero in the LGBTQ YA scene. I would love to meet her one day. Also, this book rocks my socks and I recommend it to anyone, whether you’re dealing with trans issues in your life or family or friends or not.
Blood Hound by Tamora Pierce
Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger <- AWESOME. One of my fav trans fiction books.

What’s love got to do with it?

Everything.  But also nothing.  Depends on what “it” is.  Marriage? Friends? Enemies? Children? Religion? Death? Torture? Redemption? Divorce? Disease? Life?

Love is infused in all of these things, these relationships, these events. But the duality of the darker side of human nature, of love, has been driving me crazy.  I’m inclined to say “lately,” but looking at my entire life and not just what’s freshest in recent memory, it’s been a struggle since my first memories as a child.

I’m reading a book series that a dear friend recommended: the Kushiel Legacy.  At first, it seemed a little more daunting and high fantasy than I usually read. But once I got into it, the world enveloped me and I found myself saying things like Blessed Elua! in my head instead of OMG.  It’s possible it even once came out of my mouth.  The heroine of the novel, Phèdre, is…utterly fantastic.  But it is her relationships to her Gods and the people in her life I find the most fulfillment and truth with.  Deep, core truth that speaks to my heart.  That speaks eloquently, and still yet not definitively, about love.

Currently, I’m a third of the way through Kushiel’s Avatar (third book in the series)  and it’s dealing very specifically with love in all it’s many forms.  Far more than many people can even fathom.  Of course there’s religion and the love of Gods, but there’s so much more.  There’s the love Gods feel for mortals.  There’s the fact that love can extend to more than one God.  That different people have different pantheons and we can all find peace together and honor each other’s customs and beliefs.  Of course there’s romantic love, like Phèdre has for her consort Joscelin.  But within that relationship, there is so much else.  Love is tested and tempered through the years.  And it is acknowledged that she doesn’t just love Joscelin.  That there are other people who have touched her life in romantic, non-romantic, and BDSM types of ways. There are people who’ve deceived her, abused her, sought to break her and yet, for most, she admits that there is a form of love involved.

In the book, Blessed Elua’s precept is “Love as thou wilt.”  It conveys choice, it speaks of allowing your heart to love what it loves.  Poet Mary Oliver says something similar in the beginning of her poem “Wild Geese”:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

The true nature of love is…elusive.  Or perhaps it’s just too all-encompassing that it is difficult to understand. I sure as fuck don’t fully understand it.  Maybe I never will.  But I think it’s human to keep trying.  So I do.

Sometimes, when talking about love, clichéd notions pop up and it makes me angry. During a conversation I had last night, someone said to me, “if he really loved you, he wouldn’t have cheated on you.  He wouldn’t’ve even considered it.  There wouldn’t be another person for him. Ever.”  She went on to add that any therapist would back her up.  Clearly, she hasn’t spoken to my current therapist.

I caught myself clenching my jaw, pushing down feelings of surly disagreement.  Because here’s a big part of the problem.  I don’t doubt my husband loved and loves me.  That’s not the problem.  It goes deeper than that.  I believe that that people who love can do stupid, hurtful, cruel, deceptive, even abusive things to the people they love.  My mother once said to me that my alcoholic father loves me as much as he’s able.  It’s true.  He’s a flawed, demon-chased, depressed man who grew up under the threat of knives and belts, terror and poverty the language his own alcoholic father spoke fluently.  His mother, rather the woman who raised him as a mother, did so with as much love and creativity as she could manage with a 8 other children and not enough money.  My own mother, despite her own life difficulties and questionable methods of dealing with them, loves me as best and as broadly as possible.

And just as I don’t doubt that my husband loves me, I also have come to the place where I don’t doubt that my ex-husband and ex-wife love me.  In some difficult, intricate way that’s probably similar to the way I love them.  But with that love has also come the realization and acceptance (hence the “ex”) that just because we love each other does not mean we should be married.

The bible says that love “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”  And it does.  But…nowhere in there does it advise on how to act when your fall-down-drunk father insists on driving his truck home and allows his friends and girlfriend to put ten year old you in the vehicle with him to “make sure he gets home okay.”  What do we do, in this current day, when a family member is a pedophile, a friend is mentally abusive, a husband cheats?  Yes, love will endure it.  But that doesn’t mean anyone should stay in that situation if they are able to get out.  Once children grow enough to get themselves help, to get out of bad situations, they…we…I will carry that terrible double-edged sword called love around for the rest of our lives.

However, here’s the thing.  It fucks up our vision when falling in love.  It can cloud our judgment with our own children.  It’s something to be ever-mindful of.  On one side is the ephemeral, giddy high of falling in love and on the other is the daily truth of actual love.  It does exist, endure, believe, bear, hope…even while fucked up shit happens all around.  Even while the floor drops out, disease takes hold, infidelity is committed, a loved one abandons you.

Getting to that point where of understanding that love can exist and endure prolific pain has been rough. Contemplating the other side of this realization is even rougher.  It means figuring out what I can endure, believe, hope for.  The future of my marriage, or any relationship I have, relies first on the boundaries I make.

I was eventually able to explain to the person that I don’t buy into the whole “if he really loved you…there wouldn’t be another person” bullshit.  I’ve vacillated back and forth between whether I’m better suited to monogamy or polyamory.  After I first found out about the infidelity, I felt strongly that the answer to all this strife was a nice, monogamous relationship.  He agreed that that’s what he wanted, too. Just strip love down to it’s simplest form and things would be better. I’m beginning to see that was, personally, a fear-based reaction.  People in monogamous relationships cheat.  The fault lies not in the relationship type.

Judging by history, judging by how I feel and continue to feel about people in my life, I keep coming back to the fact hat polyamory makes the most sense to me.  In it, there is no “if he really loved you….there would be no one else.”  That becomes invalid.  So once I started saying this, her response was, “then why were you so upset when you found out?  Why did you pack up and leave? If he can go out and have whatever relationships he wants and it’s okay?”

NO.

This is another thing that’s always pissed me off: people don’t understand the difference between polyamory and cheating.  They think that cheating can’t exist in polyamory.  It flat out can and does.  Whenever a lover goes outside of the agreed rules, it is cheating.  You can have a rule that there’s no sex with anyone else unless you’re all in the room together.  If your partner then goes and has sex with someone else when you’re not there, that’s cheating. It’s violating the rules of the agreement you’ve made together.  It’s defiling trust.  Can trust be cultivated again? For some people, yes. Because love can endure all things.  That doesn’t mean cultivating trust again is the right thing to do for the people involved, though.  Sometimes, the soil just isn’t rich enough to cultivate trust again.  Figuring that out, assessing the soil and it’s possibilities is something love has much less to do with it than I previously thought.

Calling all angels

Calling all angels, calling all angels
We’re trying, we’re hoping, we’re hurting, we’re loving
We’re crying, we’re calling,
But we’re not sure how this goes.
“Calling All Angels” by Jane Siberry

Yesterday was a Phoenix day for me.  I call it that when I know walking through fire will be required but also know that rebirth will occur.  It’s necessary to walk through fire sometimes, especially when there’s a fuckton of demons that NEED to be burnt to smithereens for me to move forward in a healthy way.

So the fires were lit.  I went walking.  It’s such a bizarre process sometimes.  I once had a postcard on my wall that said something about leaping and building your wings on the way down.  Yesterday was kind of like that.  I’ve been mocked for my leaping-without-wings, fire-walking ways.  Now it’s time to embrace them.

Point of note with fire-walking/demon-dealing: It’s so much easier when all conditions are perfect.  When you DON’T wake up with a massive headache.  Or rambunctious children that you have to watch during an impending ice storm when you lent your car out to their mother so you are housebound for the day.  So much easier.

Of course, life is under no obligation to give you what you expect. Or want.

Which means that I had the headache, the kids, the ice storm.

Into the fire we go!

The onset was hard.  Fire hurts.  So did the headache and the chattering children on top of it.  But the next steps were better.  My sister used her miracle hands to ward off the headache.  The ice storm meant that I was reprieved of nannying duty early so I got to go out before the second round of ice hit, when it was still warm.

And no, the irony that I was fire-walking during an ice storm is not lost on me.  Duality is my specialty.

Once I got into my car, the skies started clearing.  On all fronts.  We had a few hours of sunshine and plain rain to drive away some of the fire.  It gave me space to breathe.  Eat.  I reached out to friends who would understand that the fire hurt, but was sometimes necessary.  They coaxed me onward and through.  Two even gave me music to aide in the journey.  I called my angels and they answered.  The fire was still there, but now…now, it felt warm.  Soothing.  A balm for an outdated mentality on a frigid day.  I let it wrap around me and went to a craft store.  There were feathers, and sparkly things, and tiaras.  Not very pretty tiaras, but still.  I bought some feathers.  They’ll be a bridal bouquet eventually.

Keep walking, as a new sense comes over me.  The sensuality of the fire.  How arousing it is.  The flames licking at my feet, at my legs, higher…imagining the fire, consuming, purifying, driving love to passion.  YES.

Then, the mundane sets back in.  The grocery store, gas station, and post office of life.  And the fire goes from sensual to suffocating.  Keep walking, keep walking, but fuck it hurts so damn much again.  And the burns from before are now blistering.  I can’t stop the tears, but I also can’t command them.  They’re there and I don’t know how to just get them the fuck out.  Please.  For the love of god, where’s the release?  When does the damn fire end?  Am I going to be consumed?  Who’s fucking fucked up idea was it that I walk through fucking fire?!  Fire bad.  Fire ow.  Please just stop.  Stop.  STOP!

Of course, many times, even trained firemen can’t control a fire.  They can only try to contain, drench, smother it.  This fire wasn’t going to let up any time soon.  So…I keep walking.  But I know I need a release soon.  And then it hits. The fire incinerates the bushes that the demons had been hiding in all day.  They couldn’t whisper to me, so low that I couldn’t hear them and was just left unsettled and confused. With no cover, they resorted to full on attack.

UNWORTHY! UGLY! UNLOVABLE! YOU WILL LOSE!

But thankfully, a tendril of fire had already ignited my brain and heart.  And the voice of other angels rained down.

Me: I’m just dealing with my demons.
An Angel: Our demons. They’re not just your demons anymore. You’re not a solo act anymore.

Me: But…I’m…I’m going to lose in this competition.  I’m unworthy.  Ugly.  Unlovable.
Another Angel: Worthiness is like bravery.  It’s not action in the absence of fear or lack of value, it’s action in spite of it.  And it’s not a finite point, it’s a constant striving….It’s easier to strive, though, if you have a better realization of the standards you’re holding yourself to.  So let’s work on it.

And these particular fires slowly recede… soon I’ll be ready for the next blaze.

Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame
Where there is a flame, someone’s bound to get burned
But just because it burns, doesn’t mean you’re gonna die.
You gotta get up and try, try, try.
“Try” – P!nk