Monday, July 31, 2017

“The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation because in the degradation of woman the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source.”

Since starting my new job as a receptionist, back in March, I've found myself with a lot of down time at work.  Between phone calls and paperwork, I have free reign of the desk and interwebs as long as it doesn't interfere with customer interactions.  With that, I've run out of internet.  It's all been explored...there is no more.  So I've been researching new hobby ideas that would be good to do at my desk.  That's when I ran across this gem:  Top 75 Best Hobbies for Men.

Okay?  What in the holy, fucking hell makes any of these seemingly simple hobbies to be gender specific to testosterone factories?  There isn't a single one on that list that was limiting to penis-definitive actions.  Do my ovaries produce a force field, preventing me from rock climbing?  Clearly I produce too much estrogen for composing electronic music, as well.  And don't get me started on how my vulva gets in the way of volunteering!  Sheesh, I definitely hate it when I'm helping my community and I just can't get it right without those important testes when serving soup to the homeless.  And my personal worst?  I shouldn't be writing this blog.  It's forbidden to my kind!  

For those of you who are probably thinking, "It's just an innocent article? What's wrong with listing more masculine hobbies for manfolk?"  There's a more threatening issue taking root in our society.  My kids will be the first to tell you that, "There are no such thing as boy things and girl things, just things."  In planting the idea that there are activities, colors, clothing, or toys that are too feminine for men and boys, we are also growing the notion that females are somehow less.  I am not less than my male counterparts.  I am not the weaker sex.  And I mean that literally; I have lifted and carried things one handed that my male coworkers have complained about being too heavy.  I am tougher than most people I know.  I've endured pain in extreme levels, both mentally and physically.  I am the most resilient person that I know.  It is not fair to label me according to my gender identity.  

I'm even extremely fortunate to be cis-gendered.  My body and mind match with regard to being female.  It is incredibly unjust to label people into these categories without thinking that there are people of all types on a spectrum.  There are not just two sexes, assigned by your genitalia at birth.  There are people who are born with XXY chromosomes who are biologically a gender of their own.  

Our society is so preoccupied with labeling, that gender is no exception.  There are racial stereotypes and financial statuses that are more obviously a problem in our communities.  And before you get butthurt and offended that this doesn't apply to you, just remember that the problem with ignorance is that one doesn't often realize what they are doing is considered ignorant.  Nobody does stupid things with the express intent of stupidity.  It's usually, "It seemed like a good idea at the time!"  Right?  So let me educate you on some examples of misogyny.  

1.  Assumptions.  Please do not assume that if there is a male with me, that he is in charge of what-the-fuck-ever I'm doing.  Last night, my parking receipt was directed to my male counterpart even with the reservation in my name and I had been previously working with ME the whole time. I was also in line at Goodwill to donate once, handing over boxes and bags by the carload and the douchecanoe in the back of the truck looked over me at the guy behind me and asked if he wanted the tax voucher.  

2.  Ignoring.  Often when I am standing with a man, I am completely ignored in the interaction...especially sales.  Know who I bought my van from?  It was the first salesman who spoke to me directly.  Out of 3 dealerships, asking questions about MY OWN CAR that I was going to be driving solely, only one person recognized me as a person of authority in the purchase of my vehicle.  
3. Sexualization.  So much to be said here.  It's everywhere.  Photoshopping women in magazines, catcalling, even telling a woman that she needs to smile.  I don't have to smile.  Fuck you.  If I'm in a bad mood, I have every right to look like a grumpy dude.  I'm not less of a person because I don't have pretty smile on my face at all times.

4.  Mansplaining.  I don't understand less because I am a woman.  Please don't over-explain concepts to me because you think I am dumber than a dude.  Just.  Don't.  If you think it might be something I'm unfamiliar with, simply ask, "How familiar are you with 'X'?"  Then reassess your approach accordingly. 

There are too many topics to address within this idea, but I'll leave you with those.  I don't want to overwhelm with all the wordy words.  

Today's subject line quote is from Lucretia Mott.  

Sunday, May 7, 2017

“The first thing I ever learned in roller derby is to fall, and in the author world I believe that same rule applies.”

There's a common phrase in the derby community, "Roller Derby saved my soul."  Women in derby often find themselves in the sport when they need it most.  It's empowering--it takes strength and courage, dedication.  I will have been skating for 2 years this September and have never blogged my soul-saving story.  Probably because it's ongoing.  It doesn't have a clear, Happily Ever After yet because I'm still struggling and pushing towards my derby goals.

For my 30th birthday, I went to a local roller derby bout and it was the most amazing sport I've ever witnessed.  The endurance and agility displayed is unparalleled.  Watching these women, of all sizes and backgrounds, run with skates on their feet and push with their whole bodies to break through the pack?  It was life altering, literally.  I immediately said, "I HAVE to do this."

Something clicked.  I had felt so lost in my marriage and raising 3 kids.  This was on the tail end of my symptomatic stroke and I had never been so anxious and confused as to day-to-day, much less my purpose in life.  I was dying inside from feeling so alone and unimportant--so much so, that my brain convinced my body that I was suffering from some unknown neurological disease.  I was displaying symptoms of Multiple Sclerosis, but with no evidence of it on my brain.  I had such bad anxiety and sleep deprivation that my body was rebelling.  Something needed to change.  I wanted to find out what I was made of, who I really was and not what my husband and children made me into.  I loved being a mom, but there had to be more to me than what others needed of me.

I started doing Pinterest workouts geared toward derby players.  I studied the fresh meat websites to know what to expect.  And in late August, a pair of sparkly laced, white, artistic skates landed in lap.  They were leftover from the church rummage sale so they were free and they fit.  It was divine intervention because the following week was tryouts.  Showing up with soft, volleyball pads and a bike helmet and was given a spare set derby acceptable gear to borrow for the night.

The last time I had been on skates was briefly in the gravelly parking lot of my kids' gymnastics studio two days before and before that, middle school.  But I walked through the door of the rink with my stomach in my throat and laced up.  I wanted to faint, or barf, or barf then faint, or even faint then barf unconsciously all over the blue floor.  Instead, I faked the biggest sense of confidence I could muster and actually skated all the skills...except for one.  I had no clue how to stop.

Instead, I just slowly spun in a spiral until I slowed down and hoped nobody noticed I had no clue what I was doing.  It worked.  I was commended for my courage to try all the skills with no prior experience and invited to start derby bootcamp in the following weeks.  Since then, I've assessed out of fresh meat and passed the next level of skills...except one.  This time, I know how to stop but I can't seem to skate fast enough to pass my time trial.  Around the 25ft. track for 27 laps in 5 minutes or less?  What. the. fuck?  Really.  

I've attempted multiple times over the last year and half and I'm still, at least, 20 seconds away. To be honest?  It's about 90% mental by this point.  I've got such fear of the damn thing that I get anxious and my legs won't cooperate.  Once, I fell 5 times during an attempt.  It's like I couldn't feel my legs underneath me any long and down I'd plop with a loud smack on the hard floor.  At least I've trained myself to get back up when I fall.  For a while, I'd quit after the first or second slip.  It's a guaranteed non-pass when you don't even finish.  But, in some way, I was exercising control of the situation.  I only did that poorly because I chose to stop, right?  It's silly, but doing well in derby is so important to me that my stupid, anxious brain pulls crap like that.

Now, I'm jumping rope twice a day, practicing with the team 6 hours a week, and mentally prepping myself every chance I get.  My next chance to get rostered is a month away and I want it so badly I can taste it in the back of my throat, a bitter taste of jealousy against my teammates who have already begun bouting.  When I started skating, I was fearless.  I had nothing to lose and just beat the shit out of myself to do my best.  Now?  I've lost that confidence and it's showing.  I've plateaued instead of climbing the last 30 feet to the top of that derby mountain.

So, what can I do to get out of my head?  What do you all do to overcome mental blocks, if you have any?  I'm desperate to push past this feeling of inadequacy.

Today's subject line quotes is from Elizabeth J. Kolodziej

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

"Stars are the scars of the universe."

Change:  to make the form, nature, content, future content, etc. of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.  That's what this whole post is about, change--a change in self, change in content of this blog, and change to how the world perceives me.  A big one is coming for me next week and it will be with me the rest of my life. Most importantly, this change is symbolic of hope.  In a way, this change itself is hope.  It's a choice to remind myself to choose hope, that I have options and there is something beautiful within my core that I can share with the world.  And instead of hiding it away, I'm choosing to literally wear it on my sleeve.  

I'm getting a new tattoo.  It isn't some flash art on my shoulder or a random image.  This tattoo will not just be part of my skin, it's going to be part of my soul and I'm displaying it on my left wrist.  It's likely obvious now that there is some symbolism to be discussed with my decision and its placement.  So, now, I'll share my greatest victories and most shameful defeats--all rolled up into one tightly wound package.  

First, let me give you some facts from  

  • Each year, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 7 males engage in self injury
  • 90 percent of people who engage in self harm begin during their teen or pre-adolescent years
  • Nearly 50 percent of those who engage in self injury activities have been sexually abused
  • Females comprise 60 percent of those who engage in self injurious behavior
  • About 50 percent of those who engage in self mutilation begin around age 14 and carry on into their 20s
  • Many of those who self injure report learning how to do so from friends or pro self injury websites
  • Approximately two million cases are reported annually in the U.S.
I have not shared my experience with self-harm on quite such a public platform before. I've only shared it briefly with a small handful of closely trusted individuals.  I have, however, worked with multiple therapists over the last decade who have helped me to process my feelings in a healthier way.  For me, it's like an addiction.  The urge is often there, even if the action isn't followed through.  I have to be careful about what situations I put myself into which might trigger these urges:  such as drinking or not taking my medications (which also ties into relapses of my eating disorder, but that's a whole different post for another time).

Please know that I'm sharing this, not for attention, but for solidarity.  Suicidal ideation and self-mutilation are commonly experienced, but rarely discussed. I've overcome my addiction, but it's always with me.  I have burn scars on the inside of my left wrist.  After next week, there will be no evidence, but instead, a beautiful reminder of how hard I've worked and that the elegance of the whole universe is within me, ready to spill out.  

The design is the outline of a raven superimposed on a nebula.  Ravens are intelligent, dark creatures who often mimic in their surroundings and represent rebirth and wisdom in some cultures.  I've always felt connected to these amazing birds, so to have the vastness and allure of outer space inside of what is essentially me gives me great hope.  It will be a perfect reminder that I've chosen to share my grace and style, that I've absorbed the pain for the last time and transformed it into art.

Here are some images that I brought to my artist to help give a sense of what my design should encompass:

Raven Silhouette Royalty Free Stock Vector Art Illustration
  14 Galaxy-Inspired Tattoos That Are Out of This World via Brit + Co. Galaxy Tattoo #ArmTattoos, #ColourTattoo, #UnisexThis is the Carina Nebula, an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen, helium and other ionized gases. It lies within our own Milky Way galaxy, about 6,500-10,000 light-years from Earth. Like many nebulae, it is a star-forming region, and contains two of the most massive and luminous stars in our galaxy, along with multiple O-type stars. Our galaxy itself is estimated to contain 200-400 billion stars, and roughly ten times as many planets.raven tattoo by santaroosa on deviantART inspiration for finishing my sparrow style phoenix.

Today's subject line quotes is by Ricky MayeBarefoot Christianity.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

"Every man is guilty of all the good he did not do."

I used to be a good mom.  Like, a really good mom--the kind that would make other moms want to barf a little because I was so Pinterest perfect.  It never felt like I was, but in hindsight, I had it pretty figured out.  Now that I'm a solo parent?  Not so much with the shit being together.  My shit is scattered to the ends of the universe.  And sometimes it's lost in the abyss.  In fact, I lost my shit just this morning!

It's no secret that Ivy is a wee bit of a spitfire.  All my kids are in some way or another.  Michael has mellowed in the last few years, but ages 2-7 are usually the universe's way of testing my sanity.  I don't pass.  Ivy isn't a morning person.  She's clearly ready to cut a bitch when she wakes up.  And going to bed has never been an easy feat either.  So in the end, she's even crankier for being tired.  Today, I yelled.  I got hella frustrated and let out obscenities under my breath (and a few audibly...let's be real).  I feel terrible, but I had to be strict with her.  I had to let her know that her laissez-faire approach to getting ready in the morning is unacceptable.

I also sent Michael to a jog-a-thon with zero pledges.  I can retroactively fix that, but he was upset that he'd be "jogging for nothing" today.  And it was a brutal, hour long, mandatory event with no rest for the participants.  He was allowed to walk, but I'm surely going to hear about how it ruined his entire life.

Today was just the last events in a series of epic fuck-ups that make me long for the good ole days of yore when I could stay home with the kids and craft all day instead of worry about how I'm going to stay up long enough to finish a load of laundry after work.  I'm figuring it out.  I'm getting by.  But it stings.

There's a pain in not feeling good enough to care for my own kids that gives me a burning under the skin.  Sometimes it's a minor discomfort, others it's excruciating. There's a culpability that I don't remember all the responsibilities; there is shame that I choose my own needs at times, even though it's necessary.  It's the "put your own mask on first before aiding a child" sentiment.  However, we all know mothers scoff at the flight attendants when hearing it the first few times. Eventually, after plenty of therapy, it begins to make sense. The guilt never truly dissipates though.

I suppose it's a pretty common tendency to feel this way--the human condition, if you will. Doesn't make it any less demanding on my psyche. I'd wager to say it makes it worse because I know it's okay to drop balls.  I am aware that people aren't perfection and that's what's beautiful about those who truly live.  After all, there's a reason why there are mugs that say "World's Okayest Mom."

Can they fit, "World's Okayest Single Mom Who Sometimes Does Better Than Others And Feels Really Bad About It" on one?  That's not very catchy.  Suggestions welcome.

Today's Subject Line Quote is from Voltaire.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

"I'm fine, but I'm bipolar. I'm on seven medications, and I take medication three times a day. This constantly puts me in touch with the illness I have. I'm never quite allowed to be free of that for a day. It's like being a diabetic."

Let's talk about depression.  I know it's everyone's FAVORITE subject, but, it's my blog so don't be a dick.  In all seriousness, it needs to be discussed more.  Major depressive disorder affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, or about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older, in a given year. (Archives of General Psychiatry, 2005 Jun; 62(6): 617-27)   Women experience depression twice as often as men do, and  regardless of racial or ethnic background or economic status. The lifetime prevalence of major depression is 20-26% for women and 8-12% for men. (Journal of the American Medical Association, 1996). So it's chemical and it's prevalent in our society. 

I just had an exchange with a co-worker about my mood change,  "You're in a good mood today.  What happened?"  How do I answer without outting myself?  Better yet, why should I be concerned with anyone knowing that I suffer from a mental illness?  Because, "I'm Bipolar and someimtes adjustments in my medications can be severe on my mood,"  should be a legitimate response.  But, fear takes over and I stumble around trying to come up with a reason why I'm noticably happier today.

Mental illness shouldn't be shameful.  It's a medical condition.  If I was hobbling around on a broken leg, I wouldn't attempt to hide it and hope no one noticed my crutches.  I also wouldn't expect myself to heal immediately and with no symptoms or pain.  So why is it, that when I have a depressive episode, I worry about what people will think?  Sometimes I need help.  I have brain in need of healing, instead of a limb, and my crutches are often words.

I can't always function at full capacity.  However, even talking about it gives me anxiety that I'm burdening people.  This isn't uncommon with mental health.  If brain chemistry was a person, it'd be a sociopathic son-of-a-bitch.  It often skews my perception of the truth and gives me a sense of duality that can be frightening.  What I know to be true and what I feel are often contradicting.  Depression wants me to believe that nobody cares to hear about what's happening, that there is an encumbrance in expressing myself to loved ones.  But I know there are people willing to help and listen. 

So I'm promising myself to be less timid about my experience.  This blog is a fantasic outlet because it doesn't directly put pressure on friends and family regarding how I'm feeling, but allows me to freely relay this reality and inform those who may not understand how someone like myself operates.

I speak for myself.  I can't know how anyone else happens to feel during their expriences, but I hope to capture some of the common sentiments of those who can't come forward.  I want people to understand that the stigma around mental health is not scary.  I've lost friends admitting that I suffer depression.  The sadness of this, is that some people mental illness is dangerous.  There is a fear of instability that I even buy into at times.  However, I just have mood swings, sometimes within the same hour, that are more dynamic than simple joy or sadness.

When I'm depressed, I have trouble waking up.  I'm drained to the point that getting up, even sitting up, is nearly impossible.  I have to rally for a good while--convincing myself that I'm even physically capable.  Sometimes I nap for hours, then go to bed for an extended period.  On my day off, I slept for 15 of 24 hours this week.  I could NOT stay conscious.  If that isn't enough?  There's the mental pain that accompanies the physical symptoms.  Hopelessness, exasperation, loneliness, numbness..the list is ever growing and changing.

So what do we do?  Start small.  Read.  Project Helping is a great place to start.  Or if you are willing, be brave and share your story.  It might inspire someone else who is feeling alone in their battle. It might save a life.

Today's subject line quote is from the late Carrie Fisher.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

I can excuse anything but boredom. Boring people don't have to stay that way.

I'm going through a strange phase.  I've never experienced one like it before, either.  Lately, I've been overthinking (no, that's not the unusual part), but as a result, I end up sensoring myself and remaining silent.  It's as if I'm convincing myself that nothing I have to say either 1.) makes sense or 2.) is pure stupidity flavored word vomit.

As a new person at work, I usually jump to introduce myself and tell everyone the minor details of daily Cassidy.  So far, I'm becoming miserly with my self info.  I could withstand interrogation and not give up anything.  That's NEVER been my reality.  "Hi, I'm Cassidy and I can taste metal in my throat when I hear change jingle."  Seriously, that's something I would tell you and is coincidently true.  I spent hours in the car last weekend between my L.A. trip and going to Berkeley for concerts.  I feel like I barely spoke.  Even as I'm writing this, I'm wondering if there is a point. 

Perhaps I'm bored with myself on some level.  I have a fairly regular schedule of redesigning myself and I've been consistent the last few months. (Ignore the super short, awful haircut in this instance.  It was accidental and not a welcomed change.)  The reinvention keeps the depression from settling inm too.  Most of my profiles I've used over the years have drastically different appearances on the user pics.  When I was still using dating sites, that was a frequent observation--my look is different in every picture. 

But, is it just complacency?  Or have I reached a point in my life when I'm literally out of shit to say?  How can I challenge myself?

I had some fantastic and life altering experiences this weekend, but I just can't even bring myself to try and describe any of it because every time I write out a sentence, I immediately quit and think it's the dumbest formation of words in English history.  And we have Donald Trump for president, constantly speaking out of his orange, baboon-ass-face hybrid.  How is anything I have to say more ignorant than his ignornant tete-a-tetes with his fellow, priviledged douche canoes (who seem to think they are the only ones living here on Earth).

Maybe later I'll give it a shot.  Right now, I'm blogging at work in the middle of the Toyota showroom.  I love my job.

Today's subject line quote is from Hedy Lamarr.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

I have your car towed all the way to your house and all you have for me is LIGHT beer?

I did it.  I'm officially a grown-up, for the first time, at 32.5 years old.  What's the big change?  I got my first (yes, seriously) full-time paid position.  This gal is the new face of Victory Toyota as the newest reception team member.  It's not rocket science, but it is steady work at an almost sustainable pay rate and room for growth.  Well, it might be rocket science.  I haven't actually started working the phone system yet.  It could be a prerequisite for NASA applicants, for all I know.

What I do understand, is that I had a panic attack within 20 minutes of leaving my orientation today.  I've had harder work being a full-time parent, for sure.  Remember....anything from this blog circa 2008-2012?  I should be able to handle 40 hours of answering phones and making coffee.  And yet, I sat in my car breathing heavily as if I had been asked to defuse a bomb in the parking lot.  My best guess?  I want to be a Toys R Us kid.

I'm not just working a part time gig to get me through.  I'm a real adult, supporting 3 kids.  This may be an entry level position, but there's room for growth.  It's very likely that I'll end up in an HR position. So, this is my welcoming party into adulthood.  Do I get a banner?  And cake?  There should always be cake!  Maybe even pony rides...wait...this is an adult party.  Strippers?

So in pure Cassidy fashion, I started off my first day coming of age with a court summons for a lost speeding ticket.  I may be seasoned now, but I'm still a walking disaster.  Some back story:

Dom and I split last year and I moved out and bought a mini van around last April.  Life got in the way of things and I ended up procrastinating my registration in an epic way.  By December, I was pulled over for speeding, my car was towed, and made FIVE trips to the DMV over two days.  The physical ticket for the whole endeavor was in my possession for approximately 5 hours before it was declared dead.  No idea what happened to it, as I don't really care.  It was probably stolen by the Russians, eaten by a child, or maybe it had an epiphany and decided to finish it's degree in marketing.  I wish it the best of luck, wherever the fuck it is.

So today, after work, I get a letter from the Superior Court of California stating that I owe them a ridiculous amount of money and my dignity.  The best part is that a month ago, my boyfriend kindly reminded me to figure this shit out before something of this nature took place.  I checked for my ticket online, it was nowhere in the system, so I was all, "Not my problem!  Whoohoo!"  Like a JACKASS.  I wonder if he'll give me a hearty, "I told you so?"  Regardless, I paid my debt and learned my lessons.  That's what grown-ups do.  We aren't impervious to mistakes, we handle them.

Today's subject line quote is Biff Tannen, Back to the Future.  


Follow me. I might lead you somewhere you haven't been.