Louder than words.

There are many famous people whom I have a crush on. Recently, I rediscovered an early crush from my teens: Robert Fulghum. Around 20 or so years ago, I read All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten and felt my heart go a-flutter. Here was a gentle man, a thinking man, an artistic and sensitive man. I both wished he could’ve been my father and that he could take me out on my first date. My brain is an awkward place sometimes.

Throughout my life, I’ve had people make fun of my adoration of Robert Fulghum. They’ve called him treacly, overly sentimental, boring, and other things I couldn’t possibly disagree with more. It bothers me for a little while when this happens, when people I care about can’t see what an awesome guy Robert Fulghum seems to be, why he’s a mentor to me on how to live life and why my heart beats a little bit faster when I think about him.

It’s just…the voracious way he goes about inhaling life is incredibly invigorating, inspiring, and, well…sexy. His writings are all about exploring the world around him, from bugs to love to death to kids to sports to war to various cultures and customs around the world he’s lived in or visited or read about. In the book I’m reading right now alone, What On Earth Have I Done?, half is set in Crete, Greece, where he lives part of the year. It also touches on the Massai, an African tribe that lives on the Kenyan-Tanzanian border, a story from when he gave the blessing in Geneva, Switzerland for a dinner honoring people who fought for human rights, and his time growing up in Texas as a side-lined football playing teen who was awarded MVP. Not for some touchy-feely “everybody’s a winner” thing, either. It makes sense, when you look at it from a certain perspective.

And I think that’s what I love most about Robert Fulghum. His perspective. He comes from a place of constantly learning, growing, exploring, discussing, observing, sharing. His stories are not ones of complaint, of bemoaning the future of humanity, of all that is wrong in the world. Yes, he writes about difficult, terrible, painful things. But always with hope. Always to expose the commonality, the unification possible, the things we can learn and grow from. He is the opposite of bitter and I find that intoxicating. I also love that he inspires me to be a better person. I want to see the world through such excited eyes.

Here is an example of what I admire so much about him:

One of his stories is called “The Meaning of Life”. Cliff Notes version is that he is attending a two week seminar on Greek culture. At the end of the seminar, the universal end-of-class question was asked, “Are there any questions?”

Fulghum had one. “Dr. Papaderos, what is the meaning of life?”

Some may read this and think Fulghum was being snarky. Like at a concert when the singer asks if there are any requests and someone always yells out, “Do ‘Stairway’! WHOOOOO!”

However, Dr. Papaderos saw that Fulghum was asking in earnest. So he answered him. First he took a quarter-sized round mirror out of his wallet. Then he began to speak.

“When I was a small child, during the war, we were very poor and we lived in a remote mountain village. One day, on the road, I found the broken pieces of a mirror. A German motorcycle had been wrecked in that place.

I tried to find all the pieces of the mirror and put them back together, but it was not possible, so I kept only the largest piece. This one. And by scratching it on a stone I made it round. I began to play with it as a toy and became fascinated by the fact that I could reflect light into dark places where the sun would never shine – in deep holes and crevices and dark closets and behind walls. It became a game for me to get light into the most inaccessible places I could find.

I kept the little mirror, and as as I went about my growing up, I would take it out in idle moments and continue the challenge of the game. As I became a man, I grew to understand that this was not just a child’s game but a metaphor for what I might do with my life. I came to understand that I am not the light nor the source of the light. But light – the light of truth, understanding, and knowledge – is there, and that light will only shine in many dark places if I reflect it.

I am a fragment of a mirror whose whole design and shape I do not know. Nevertheless, with what I have I can reflect light into the dark places of this world – into the dreary hearts of men – and change some things in some people. Perhaps others may see and do likewise. This is what I am about. This is the meaning of my life.”

This is why I love Robert Fulghum. He shines light into places and the reminds us through the illumination that we can do the same.

On a similar note, there’s a song from the off-Broadway musical “tick…Tick…BOOM!” It is called “Louder Than Words.”

Why do we play with fire? Why do we run our finger through the flame?
Why do we leave our hand on the stove although we know we’re in for some pain?

Oh, why do we refuse to hang a light When the streets are dangerous?
Why does it take an accident before the truth gets through to us?

Cages or wings?
Which do you prefer?
Ask the birds.

Fear or love, baby?
Don’t say the answer
Actions speak louder than words.

Why should we try to be our best when we can just get by and still gain?
Why do we nod our heads although we know the boss is wrong as rain?

Why should we blaze a trail when the well worn path seems safe and so inviting?
How, as we travel, can we see the dismay and keep from fighting?

Cages or wings?
Which do you prefer?
Ask the birds

Fear or love, baby
Don’t say the answer
Actions speak louder than words

What does it take to wake up a generation?
How can you make someone take off and fly?
If we don’t wake up and shake up the nation we’ll eat the dust of the world wondering why.

Why do we stay with lovers who we know, down deep, just aren’t right?
Why would we rather put ourselves through hell than sleep alone at night?
Why do we follow leaders who never lead?
Why does it take catastrophe to start a revolution?

If we’re so free, tell me why? Someone tell me why so many people bleed?

Cages or wings?
Which do you prefer?
Ask the birds.

Fear or love, baby?
Don’t say the answer.
Actions speak louder than words.

And that’s honestly where I’m at right now, in most areas of my life. Words are nice. They can be pretty. They can settle in a place in the heart that wants to believe.

But actions speak louder than words.

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Brain dump needed.

Close your eyes and try to sleep now, close your eyes and try to dream
Clear your mind and do your best to try and wash the palette clean

The writer Ferrett is awesome, yet again.

Is it getting better? Or do you feel the same?
Will it make it easier on you now, you’ve got someone to blame?

I admire her. I don’t want to be single for 1000 days, but I do identify with needing to take time to get back in touch with myself.

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.

“Take a closer look at what it is that’s really haunting you…”

“Digital Ghost” by Tori Amos

It’s odd when you finally hear something that you’ve been waiting to hear about. That you’ve been morbidly curious about. That has the power to cause so much pain, and has for so many months. An event that destroys something you thought was pure. That brought you such happiness and hope.

Humans want details.

There’s an anticlimactic nature. A band-aid ripping off. Oh, look. A wound. Of course I knew that was there. The bandage was covering it. Bandages, whether they’re real or emotional, cover places that hurts. That’s what they do. So…of course there was a wound there.

Questions:
Are you sure you want to hear this?
Yes. No. I want to not have a “this” to hear. But it’s too late for that, isn’t it?

Why doesn’t this hurt more?
Oh. Numb. Right.

Oh GOD, why does this hurt so much?
Please, dear god, make it stop hurting.

Please.

Please?

Another book the whole damn world needs to read

Raising-My-Rainbow-Adventures-in-Raising-a-Fabulous-Gender-Creative-Son-Lori-Duron

When I was in my mid-twenties, my dad told me that Ellen Degeneres coming out of the closet and my gay best friend being gay/having a boyfriend were “what was wrong with this world.”  It made me incredibly sad and angry to hear him say this (not the least of which was because he still didn’t know I was bisexual.)  In my opinion, Ellen and my best friend were two shining examples of what was right with the world. After finishing Raising My Rainbow: Adventures in Raising a Fabulous, Gender Creative Son* by Lori Duron (and foreward by the ever-amazing Neil Patrick Harris and his partner David Burtka)  I can say without hesitation that Lori Duron is now added to my list of “what is So Very Right with the world.”  Granted, she’s a “who” not a “what”, but this book and the open, loving, giving, accepting, nurturing way she and her family are raising her children transcends how awesome she is as a person.  (Though she is quite kickass all on her own.)

The book centers around the titular “fabulous, gender creative” C.J., who discovers Barbie when he’s just two and a half years old and sets off running down the gender creative road, leaving his family in a glittery, pink wake.  As Duron describes, “It was like watching somebody come alive, watching a flower bloom, watching a rainbow cross the sky.”  From that moment on, C.J. began to discover the world of “girl”, resplendent with long, silky hair, Disney Princesses, sparkles, Monster High, skirts, Hello Kitty, heels, and the sheer awesomeness that is the color pink.  His response of pure, unadulterated glee to it All Things Girly concerned his mom and dad.  C.J. is, after all, a boy.  Boys are supposed to like “boy things: trucks, dinosaurs, the color blue, to name a few.  Right?
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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.