How’d I get to be a curmudgeon?

Inspired by a Twitter post, and riffing on this article:  http://thoughtcatalog.com/tim-hoch/2014/06/10-ways-youre-making-your-life-harder-than-it-has-to-be/

What happened around age 45-50:

  • My body gave out.
    • Lived with an alcoholic artist for a year or two. She was the love of my life, but ultimately being up all night and taking care of everything while she slept off her latest binge drove me crazy.
    • I was a single mom to two teenage girls. I had been working as a nurse – shift work. Two days, turnaround day, three nights, turnaround day. I diagnosed myself with fibromyalgia and 18 months later my doctor confirmed it.
  • Daughter #1 moved to the other side of the country.
  • Daughter #2 got pregnant. My daughters knew all about how NOT to get pregnant, since I had been a women’s health teacher for years, so this was at first a real slap in the face. Then I had to let it go as she and her partner figured things out on their own. I loved her but could not financially support her (having fibro and being on disability). I moved into town and got my own little place and helped to babysit when I could.
  • I threw myself into community work – AIDS and LGBT groups. I watched some grow and others fall apart. Group politics is really draining.
  • I taught myself new skills. I was online figuring out HTML in 1995. Joined a community group that was bringing the interwebs to our small town.

So what did I learn?

  1. My body knew when to say ENOUGH, even if my brain didn’t. I came home from whatever and crawled straight into bed many days.
  2. I learned what it’s like to live with and adapt to chronic pain.
  3. My daughters weren’t going to listen to me. They had their own lives.
  4. I walked away from relationships and only looked back for the little time I needed for my head to clear and realize how toxic they had been.
  5. Living close to the poverty line, I learned how to live on nothing. I spent time and money on important stuff – rent, an internet account, gas money, stocking up on black tea, cans of tuna and jars of peanut butter.
  6. I said NO a lot. I earned a reputation for being a curmudgeon and a bitch. (I now mostly do that on Reddit.) But I also said YES to important stuff like taking care of a toddler for a few months until her mom could get her shit together.
  7. I spent hours listening to classical music while HTML permeated my brain. I developed websites close to my heart: vintage graphics and family history.
  8. I developed a healthy relationship with my vibrator. I wrote erotica.
  9. I slipped quietly from agnosticism into atheism. My skepticism of everything I had been told my whole life deepened. I questioned everything.
  10. I stopped catastrophizing everything.  I sat back, had some vodka and came back to the present.
  11. I stopped giving a fuck about anything except what is right in front of me, right this minute. I pushed myself to be a badass. I’m determined to live to be 100 doing this.

Appreciating 2016

I know, right now, so many people are feeling overwhelmed and talking about how bad 2016 was.  I understand their unhappiness, but personally 2016 was another year to appreciate and live.

I got to travel with Doc on the motorcycle for many miles through Washington State, British Columbia, North Carolina, Virginia.

When we went to BC I got to spend some time (yeah, I know it wasn’t enough) with my daughters and granddaughters and old friends.

I spent time getting to know Doc’s son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter as we traveled through the spectacular scenery of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I listened for hours to Mozart, Gershwin, Beethoven, Rachmaninoff  and many others.

I learned to moderate my drinking.  I’ve always been a drinker. Sometime last winter it slipped into undesirable territory as I was drinking 3-4 drinks every evening, picking fights for no reason with Doc, and sometimes even having blackouts. I stopped drinking completely for 6 weeks, which seems to have reset my body. I now usually have one drink and say, okay that’s enough. (Well, except in Cancun…)

I changed my hair colour a few times.

I taught or coached many senior computer classes at a local senior center. I loved seeing the “lightbulb” go on when people my age started to understand how all of this internet stuff works.

I dug in the earth, and planted and pruned and watered our amazing garden. We grew flowers and veggies and vines and trees.

I led a discussion group about sex for seniors.  I’m leading it again this spring. I think there is the start of a core group.  I wonder where it will go?

I worked out at the gym, even though my body hated it at times.

I took care of this house. I vacuumed, laundered, swept and tidied and cooked. I love taking care of us.

I went to a great sex conference and connected with a wonderful tribe.

I drank hundreds of cups of tea, early in the morning, sitting at this computer.

My relationship with Doc has deepened in so many ways. We rode the bike through rain and wind, cold and hot weather. We celebrated five years of living together. We were angry. We were sad. We were happy. We watched the ups and downs of our life together.

We had hours of cuddling. We had sleepy morning sex. We played with toys and each other. We fucked and had intense orgasms. And we stared into each other’s eyes and loved.

We walked around free and naked at Desire. We connected with another part of our tribe.

I don’t know if I have one more day on this planet, or 30 more years. I know that continuing into 2017, I will be a badass sometimes, excited sometimes, tired sometimes, laughing sometimes, in pain sometimes, and very fragile sometimes.  It’s called life. Live it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sexual Freedom Summit: Friday

Got downstairs too late for the Summit breakfast so slipped over to the restaurant for tea and breakfast buffet.

girlsex101First up was Allison Moon’s talk on Self Publishing. Allison has published several books. I had just read Bad Dyke on my Kindle a few weeks previous and was interested to hear her speak.

Allie led us through the steps she had taken when publishing her first novels a few years ago, her memoir Bad Dyke and her recent Girl Sex 101. She talked about choosing whether to work within the publishing establishment or doing it on your own. Publishing began to change in the 1980s, and the start of the Internet in the 1990s only accelerated that. Fascinating stuff and lots to think about as I help some friends with their publishing choices.

(Side note: I have a background in publishing, since before the Internet and even before Desktop Publishing. I worked for a publisher in New York in 1970-1971, when we still used T-squares and rubber cement. I also worked with a women’s printing/publishing collective in Vancouver, BC in the late-1970s. In the mid-1980s I went back to school to learn computer graphic design and the newest advance in the field, Desktop Publishing.)

After this session I did a Volunteer stint at the registration table and found some time to talk with exhibitors and other folks and grab a quick lunch.

The afternoon’s session on Trauma in Maternity Care was intense to say the least. It brought me full circle back to where my interest in women’s health started. Vera Levitt Casey had stopped by the registration table and when I told her of my background in lay midwifery, she hoped I would join her and Nina Hartley in talking about birth trauma.

(Side note: I was a traditional or lay midwife in British Columbia from the mid 1970s until the mid 1980s. I learned best practices from other midwives at the Vancouver Birth Centre. I also worked with the Vancouver Women’s Health Collective as a women’s health teacher and clinic worker. In 1974 I also went to Vancouver Community College to train as an LPN.) 

SpiritualMidwiferyInaMayGaskinMost folks know Nina as an actress in adult films, but I was more interested in the fact she has a BS in Nursing and is an RN. I was delighted when she talked about The Farm and Spiritual Midwifery and Leboyer’s Birth Without Violence. Those people and their birth books had been my bibles when I was pregnant and working as a midwife.

When birth is taken out of a woman’s hands (almost literally) and given to other’s who do not respect her wishes and needs, interventions such as episiotomies and c-sections (with resulting PTSD) are almost inevitable. It is 40+ years since the natural childbirth movement began and birth interventions in hospitals have only become more commonplace. So many women attending this session were completely surprised and in the dark about what really goes on during childbirth in the US. Time to start another revolution…

I finished the day by going to the Keynote on Using Tech to Fight for Freedom. Powerful words and thoughts about how the Women of Color Sexual Health Network wants to use social media to advance justice-oriented work. Whew!

After such an intense day I sequestered myself in a corner of the lounge with a couple of vodka’s/ginger ale and wrote in my journal. The day had been a review of what I have done over the years – publishing, women’s health, activism. Now as I aim to carry all that I’ve learned forward where can I have the most impact?