It Aint for Pu**ies

Sometimes, God, or the Universe, or whatever term you prefer, gives us the exactly right people in our lives. I have many people in my life I know for sure were sent to me purposefully, One of those people is my bestie, Paula.

We have been best friends for over 20 years, and I cherish our friendship more every year. The following is an actual text conversation we had recently that captures our friendship perfectly.

Paula:  Can”t talk, still on this bus.

Me: Ok call when you can. I would have responded to your Snapchat, but my hair is currently in the kitchen sink lol.

Paula: That’s funny! (laughing emoji)

Me: What’s funny is it is soaking in my “conditioner” which you know as Downy.

Paula: That is funny! That’s ok, I soak my teeth in what can also be used to clean toilets, vases, and water bottles lol.

Me: We were destined to be friends! I bought lavender scented this time. Maybe it will make me calmer?

P: Lol. I doubt it.

M: Me too lol

P: That would be ganja scented.

M: How awesome would that be??!!

P: LMAO I really like that wig.

M: Me too!

P: I may have to get my hair cut like it.

M: Or lose it all and buy a wig!

P: Or buy a wig!

P: Fake hair, fake vision, fake teeth, and the piece de resistance……Fake boobs! Add a cup bra!

M: Getting old is hell man. It ain’t for pu**ies.

P: Oh no. Not at all!

M: I feel like I should blog this entire conversation.

P: Lmao. As long as you drink a glass of wine while you do it.

M: I wasn’t aware there was any other way to blog?

P: Just double checking.

 

Seriously, is there another way to blog?

 

 

 

Cosmicness

I first realized I am gay when I was 18 years old. Up until that point, I had always had “best friends” who I would become completely obsessed with, and wanted to spend all of my time with. I would become insanely jealous if my “best friend” wanted to spend time with anyone else, and eventually I would suffocate her until our friendship ended. This scenario repeated itself several times throughout high school, and somehow I never thought it meant anything. I assumed that everyone went through the same thing with their “best friends”.

Until this time, I didn’t really know many gay people. I knew one, actually. He was a good friend, but he was a boy, and although I knew what the term lesbian meant, I certainly had never met any women who admitted to being gay. This was the 1980s, and times were much different. Being “out” could mean being disowned, institutionalized, or even killed.

After high school, I took my first full time job in a nursing home. I enjoyed my job, and the people I worked with. One girl in particular. Her name was “B” and from the first day I met her, I wanted her to be my “best friend”. She was amazing. She was funny, and smart, and really good at her job. I remember thinking how obvious it was that for her, this wasn’t just a job, she really genuinely cared for the elderly residents we cared for.

She was also brutally honest, and shortly after I met her, she told me that she is gay. I remember being really curious about her life, and relationships, and having a thousand questions that I was far too shy to ask. I wanted to be around her all the time, and I was, until one day she told me that she had gotten her girlfriend a job with us and she would be starting to work with us the next night.

As upsetting as it was to be pushed to the sidelines, I will never forget watching her with “M” her girlfriend. She was so thoughtful, so attentive, making sure to think ahead, to meet every need “M” may have, before she even had them. As jealous as I was, I remember thinking I wanted someone to care about me as much as B cared for M.

Despite my jealousy, I really liked M. She was a really nice girl, and soon we were all hanging out together outside of work. Honestly, I probably would have even if I didn’t like M, I wanted to be around B enough that it wouldn’t have mattered. We started going together to a local gay bar that was known not to card people. I remember the first time I went there, I wanted to feel awkward. I wanted to feel out of place, like I didn’t belong. I wanted to feel uncomfortable seeing people of the same sex kissing, but I didn’t. It felt normal. It felt right.

One night at the bar, B and M had a fight. I don’t remember what they were fighting about, I don’t even remember if it was a big fight. I do remember that B went to the bathroom, and I followed her. In the bathroom, I sat on the sink while B paced back and forth, fuming over her argument. She stopped in front of me, and looked at me with the most adorable smile I have ever seen, and said “I’m going to kiss you.” I think I said ok? I don’t know. All I know is she kissed me, and when she did, a light bulb went off for me. I knew why I didn’t feel the way my friends did about boys, although I had had a couple of boyfriends in high school. Kissing them made me nervous and uncomfortable. Kissing B made me incredibly happy.

There was one more kiss, shortly after that, at B’s house, and then she eventually told M that she had kissed me. The fallout was devastating to me, I literally had no friends at work anymore, and I eventually quit my job.

What came next is another story, or many other stories, for another time. For now, let’s fast forward 30 years. I have been married for 20 years to a man, divorced, given birth to six beautiful children, and buried one. I have been engaged to a woman who left me for her ex shortly before we were supposed to get married, and the downward spiral my life took after that led me to move from my home in Maryland back to New Jersey. I thought my life was over. I found a job that I really love, I have my youngest son with me, and I told myself that at my age, that is enough. I was over dating, and over love.

A co worker talked me into reactivating my POF account, and I did, not really knowing why. One night I received a message, which isn’t unusual, when you are on POF you get lots of messages, but this one stood out for some reason enough to make me want to respond. We messaged for 20 minutes or so, and then said goodbye. Hours later, my heart literally skipped a beat. It was B. I don’t know exactly how I knew, but I knew. I think it was the smile. I didn’t know how to begin to tell her, so when after a week of texting she asked me to meet her at a local bar, I was determined I was never going to tell her who I am. However, alcohol acts like a truth serum sometimes, and after a beer, I I told her. Thankfully, she took the news well, and talked for hours about the “cosmicness” of the whole thing. She told me she had a picture of me, from the bar back then. She sent it to me when she went home that night.

That night was six weeks ago. Since then I have literally spent every free moment with B. The amount of things we have in common is amazing. Her kind and caring heart astounds me every day, and her ability to calm me, even in the middle of a full blown panic attack is something I have never known before.

I don’t know where this will go, or how long it will last, but today I am happy. Happier than I have been in years, and so incredibly grateful. I am grateful for the events in my life that led me here, I am grateful to B, for being quite honestly, the wold’s greatest girlfriend, and I am grateful to fate, or as I now prefer to call it, cosmicness.

Betty and Jenn 198720170531_144430

Ghost Story

You tell me you watch ghost stories alone in the dark

When I tell you I can’t do that, you tell me ghosts aren’t real.

I laugh, because I don’t know how to tell you how wrong you are.

My ghosts don’t roam empty corridors, or hide behind doors that no one dares to open.

My ghosts inhabit my body.

They roam the corridors of my mind,

and hide behind the door of my heart,

that no one dares to open.

Panic is a phantom that dwells in me, sometimes for months at a time.

Anxiety an angry specter leaving my extremities numb and shaking,

my heart racing,

and the people I love alienated.

Baby, to be with me is to inhabit the haunted mansion that no one will go near.

It can be a hopeless place,

with a thick black shroud of depression blocking out any hope of light.

But today,

when you held me in your arms, you made all the light come back.

You told me I am amazing,

and my hands shook,

and my heart raced,

not from panic, but anticipation,

and today,

for once,

the ghosts were silent.

Stay With Me

Stay with me.

You have told me you will,

from that first night.

Those first, tentative hours of learning.

“I’m not going anywhere” you whispered.

Did you know I heard it as an oath?

A covenant I cling to like a raft in the white waters of my life?

 

Stay with me,

Not an easy undertaking, to be sure.

I am a riptide.

All those who have come before have gone,

swimming to the safety of the shore,

frightened by the darkness and passion of my soul,

the sunlight so often unable to penetrate the inky blackness.

Stay with me.

When my demons are circling,

too numerous and malevolent to be named,

forcing me to banish you for crimes that are not your own.

Be the one who is brave enough to stay.

Take up your sword and fight with me

until the pale, watery light of morning breaks through.

 

Stay with me.

Let your presence be an avowal of permanence.

Let your light be my constant guide

and together, you and I just might do the unthinkable.

But you have to be ready,

you have to be sure.

Stay with me.

World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day.  Statistics say one in four adults will experience mental health difficulties at one time or the other. So many of them will not receive the care they need. I know this, not only because I have read extensively about it, but also because for many years, I was one of the many. For years I suffered in silence, dancing ever closer to the edge- the point at which the black hole of depression becomes permanent, and eternal. This was in great part because I had no insurance, and very little money. The reason doesn’t really matter,.what matters is that too many people face that same edge, and far, far too many fall off.

Today, I have the help of a wonderful and gifted counselor and friend to guide me through my rough patches, when I fall into what S.G. calls my “dark and twisty place”. That is actually a really good description for depression, at least my brand. Depression is different for everyone. For me, it is dark, and cold, and very, very lonely. At its worst, my depression can be suffocating in its alone-ness. What is the same for everyone who suffers is what Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess, says so eloquently. Depression lies. Always. Today I want to tell you, and tell myself, that when you feel like you are alone, when you feel like nothing is ever going to be right again, when you feel like noting is ever going to feel good again, that is depression, lying to you. Hold on. Wait it out. It’s hard, and it hurts. Take the meds, go through the therapy, and hold on. It’s going to stop. The light will come back. One day soon. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon. For all of us. And when it does? It is so, so worth it.

Today I Drove to Work

Today I drove to work. Just me, in my car. I listened to the radio station I wanted to listen to, drove to route I wanted to take. All of this sounds ridiculously ordinary, right? Something everyone does, every day. For me, however, it was anything but ordinary. Today was the first time in over 14 years that I was able to do this incredibly ordinary thing.

I got a drivers license today. The reason I haven’t had one in over 14 years is a long and sad story for another time. I don’t want to think about anything sad or unpleasant today. Today is a happy day, one to truly realize how amazingly blessed I am.

I owe all of this to S.G. Not only because she gave me my car, the most amazingly generous gift She could have possibly given me, but because without her support, and encouragement, and unwavering faith in me, I never would have had the courage to try.

For all the years I lived without a car, I worked really hard to convince everyone that I didn’t miss having a car and I was perfectly happy without one. For the most part, I was happy. For most of that time, I lived in Baltimore and I could take a bus anywhere I needed to be. It worked. It meant always being about a half an hour early to work, standing for up to an hour in all types of weather, late at night, early in the morning, at a bus stop. It meant never buying more groceries than I could carry home myself. It meant lots of little inconveniences that I pretty successfully convinced people didn’t matter. Everyone but S.G. She will not hesitate to call me out on my bullshit, and she never bought my act from the day I met her.

Last night, she called me to wish me luck today. When we finished talking and were saying goodbye, she said “Good luck tomorrow. I know you can do this.” I will never be able to describe to anyone, including her, how much that sentence meant to me. I heard it in my head the entire time I was taking my test today, like a mantra. Know what? It worked.

Tonight, I am super tired, and filled with more gratitude than I can explain.Today I drove to work. And it meant everything.

Terrence Crutcher

I have started and deleted this post four times. I know there will be fallout. I know people I love and respect will disagree with me. I don’t really have a problem with that, exactly. I have very strong feelings about a ton of things, and a big mouth to voice those feelings with, so I am pretty used to people disagreeing with me. The thing is, this time, it’s too important. It’s important because people are dying, and it just has to stop.

On Monday, I watched a video of yet another innocent man die in the middle of a street at the hands of people sworn to protect him. He was unarmed, he had his hands in the air, and he was shot and killed. Hands in the air mean surrender. Hands in the air mean I have nothing to hide. Hands in the air mean peace. Terrence Crutcher died because his car broke down. I don’t care about past arrests, I don’t give a shit about prior convictions. An unarmed man had car problems and because of that his children will never see him again and that is horrifying.

I am a pretty blessed woman. I don’t have a lot financially or materially, but I am a white woman, I live in a “desirable zip code”, I have food to eat and clothes to wear. I also have a family. My daughter recently married a black man. They have two children, my grandchildren. I worry about them every day because being a black man in America is apparently punishable by death and I can not see another one of my family members die for no reason. My beautiful grandson Jayden is seven years old now, but one day he will be seventeen, and I don’t want to have to tell him that because of his color, he can’t go to the store dressed in a hoodie and buy a bag of Skittles.

This country collectively lost our shit because of Colin Kaepernick’s decision to sit during our anthem. The thing is, haven’t we always promoted peaceful protest? Isn’t that our right as Americans? Maybe we should stop screaming in outrage and listen to why he is protesting. Maybe we can understand. Maybe we can bring change.

There is an attack on a gay bar, and you feel badly, but you don’t take a stand and fight because you aren’t gay and it doesn’t affect you. Undocumented citizens are sent away to face unspeakable atrocities, and you feel badly, but you don’t take a stand and fight because you aren’t undocumented and it doesn’t affect you. A black man dies at the hands of the police, and you feel badly, but you don’t take a stand and fight, because you aren’t black and it doesn’t affect you. The problem is, one day, the vitriol and violence will be turned on you, aren’t you going to need someone to stand up and fight for you?