Sunday, June 26, 2016

Catching up

Did something today I'm not usually comfortable doing. I was taught, growing up, that you can never have too many friends. I was taught to always be nice and make room in your life for people who might need you.

Since then, life happened and I realized that's all pretty much crap. I can have too many friends. Not real ones, mind you - ones who are there through good and bad times - but those "friends" for the sake of being a number in someone's friend count? No thanks.

I got a message today from someone I knew for a number of years. We weren't ever close friends, but we did things occasionally. Over time, we drifted apart, as friends do. And a few weeks ago, in a grand sweep of clutter removal, I took her and about a hundred others off my friends list on Facebook. It wasn't personal, mind you - I just felt that our time as friends had come to an end. Today, she sent me a message, asking me to call her. Since I don't really do phone calls, I explained that and asked her what was up (making sure nothing was wrong). "Oh, nothing. Just wanted to catch up."

See, here's the thing. I put my life out there on Facebook. I wouldn't have told her anything she couldn't see there during the years we were friends. But mostly, I don't do "catching up". It's trivial, it's pointless, and I don't enjoy those types of conversations. Ask me about important things - like what my favorite childhood memory is. Or when the last time was that I felt true fear. Or what keeps me up at night. Or, maybe what it feels like to not want to end my life for the first time in 33 years.

We literally hadn't spoken in over two years, so my thoughts are, if you couldn't at least drop a note, LIKE a post, or comment on something I said, then there's not much to catch up on. I needed my friends the last two years. NEEDED them. Not just for a listening ear or a shoulder to cry on, but literally, physically needed their help and support. She didn't give it.

So, for the first time in my life, I used my strength and turned down an opportunity to "catch up" with an old friend. I explained that over the last few years, I've learned who my friends are and who they aren't, and considering she hadn't spoken to me since 2014, it was pretty clear to me which category she fit into. I was polite. I was to-the-point. And I don't feel guilty. I'm taking my life back.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

You did that.

My precious friend,

You are the reason I became an advocate for gay rights.

Of course, at the young age of 16, that was back before I knew what being an advocate meant, or even that gays didn't necessarily have the same rights as straights. 

Before I met you, I was raised in a politically and socially conservative home. People were good solid Christians, they didn't cheat on their spouses, men didn't sleep with other men, motorcyclists were all Hells Angels wannabes, and every Sunday night we watched the Disney Movie of the Week on ABC. That's just what we did. 

As I grew older, I didn't know anyone who was gay and out. Obviously I had gay friends, but at the time, I didn't know it. They were just either "secure in their manhood" or a "tomboy." I'm pretty sure the only time my mother ever explained to me anything about homosexuality was when I asked her the difference between being gay and being lesbian. She said, "lesbians are women." That was the extent of it.

Then I met you. You, in all your babouscka-wearing glory prancing in that parking lot donning a darling pair of boat shoes, a bouffant hair-do that made me incredibly envious, and the best sense of humor I'd ever experienced. You were out and proud of who you were, and you didn't give a damn who knew it. You didn't march in any parades, nor were you begging people to accept you as you were. You didn't feel the need to explain anything or justify yourself. You just were. You were perfectly you.

My whole life changed that day. I began opening up my mind and realizing just how closed it was in the first place. I accepted you without question because I loved you, and to me, it didn't matter who you slept with or what you stood for. I just knew you were one of the greatest friends I'd ever met. I valued YOU; the rest of the package was superfluous. 

You are the reason I am able to accept, love and support my gay daughter and everything that's important to her.

YOU did that. 

Thank you.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

The Spoon Theory and those who abuse it

I think some people don't understand the spoon theory as it pertains to real chronic illness. If you've got a temporary injury, if you're recovering from an illness like the stomach flu or a head cold, or if you've just had a lousy day because of situations that occurred, you're not out of spoons; you're tired/pissed/hurt/sick/in recovery.

The spoon theory has become so overused by people who are just unable to deal with their emotions on an every day basis and as someone who has truly been out of spoons, and someone who is friends with others in my same situation, this irritates the hell out of me.

Depression, anxiety, chronic illness, terminal disease...those types of long-term things is what the spoon theory was based on. If you jerked your back out of place while lifting your kid's tricycle or broke your toe by stubbing it on a coffee table? You're not out of spoons, you just have very little ability to deal with being in pain. If you're not in and out of doctors' offices, hospitals, therapists, clinics and pharmacies all the time, then you have no idea what it's like to TRULY be out of spoons. If you haven't had to budget which prescriptions to get filled vs. how many groceries you can afford if you get them all, then you probably don't understand chronic illness. If you have the energy for the things you WANT to do, but not the things you NEED to do, then you're not a "Spoonie". If you choose to be nice to some folks, but use others for what they can give you, you're just an asshole, not someone with chronic illness. If you have the energy for political debate on social media (substitute political with anything you're passionate about), then you're not really worried about how many spoons you'll have left to make dinner or help your kids with their school work.

Yes, this post may make me seem judgmental, and yes, I understand there are exceptions to my generalizations, but I'm so OVER emotionally-incapable people using excuses for being lazy. Don't get me wrong - I have compassion and empathy for those with chronic illness like ALS, Cancer, MS, Lupus, Lyme Disease, Depression, Anxiety, Fibromyalgia and the numerous other incapacitating diseases that rob us of time, energy, and good days. But, I don't have a single rat's ass for those who hide behind something they Googled one day so they can lay around being energy vampires, sucking the life out of those around them.

Please understand I recognize that most of us don't "look" sick. This rant isn't about that. This is about what you spend your time and energy on. And if you think people aren't paying attention, you're only fooling yourself. They just don't want to be the jerk by pointing it out to you. Me? I have no qualms about that because I've been in the trenches with not a spoon to spare. 

To me, this is the equivalent of someone who buys fatigues and medals on Ebay and pretends to be in the military to gain sympathy, respect, pity or special favors. And honey, it's the same here: if you haven't been to war, you don't get to wear the uniform.


Living in the midwest, I don't get to spend very much time at the ocean, but when I'm there, the reverence I feel is overwhelming. I took this the last time I was in LA. February in California is, by far, much warmer than February in Iowa, but it was still a chilly day at the beach as I checked off "#264. Photograph a Pacific sunset" from my bucket list.

When it comes to waiting for the perfect shot, I have infinite patience. It's pretty much the only thing I have patience for, actually. But I rarely expect anyone else to wait with me. Not many people I know understand my process because they're not artists themselves, but my bestie, being the infinitely patient person she is, sat with me as I took photo after photo. We sat on those cold rocks shivering for about an hour. The tide came in, the air got colder, but for that hour, I was at total peace. It was the perfect ending to a wonderful day.

With three kids and a hardworking husband, my life is filled with schedules, deadlines, and activities. My house is always noisy, people are always coming and going, and I don't have a lot of time where I can just relax. But for an hour, on the shores of Malibu in February 2013, I was at total peace.