Saturday, March 8, 2014

Identity part 3 (Happy Women's Day - everything will be all right)

Identity - noun

2. the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another:
3. condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is
4. the state or fact of being the same one as described.
5. the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time          

This is the third of 3 posts called Identity.

Part 1 talks about the effects finding out you're gay has on your marriage and your perceived future.
Part 2 will talk about suddenly realising you're gay, and how that feels.
Part 3 (this one) will talk about where I'll go from here, and also explain why I'm going to be all right.

Happy International Women's day!

Today is the first day in  a very long time where I've seen the sun, and it feels like a perfect day to write this final identity post. The only one to really touch on my identity. Because here is the thing - no matter how hard and weird and rough this half year has been, I've always known one fundamental truth deep down below everything else:

I have not changed. 

Now, this might seem like a trivial fact, but I assure you it's not. You see, I wondered for a while how all of this would affect my life and prospects. I remember thinking that my chances of doing the things I want to do, and to achieve the goals I want to achieve had seriously diminished. I read statistics on LGBT-authors, about publishing of LGBT material, about discrimination of LGBT people in the work place.

Yes, for a while there, I did the same thing I've been talking against for years - making everything to do with an LGBT person into LGBT-stuff. This anxiety did perhaps have a role to play, but it didn't last long before it was completely burned through by the argument from deep inside my gut   -  I haven't changed. My voice is still the same, and my passions are still the same. My opinions haven't changed, nor my skills. I am the same, I just know myself better.

This does somehow highlight what I find are the main misunderstanding around both LGBT and feminist issues, and I'll spend a minute on it here because it is, after all, March 8th.

The goal of both LGBT and Feminist groups should always be (and mostly is) to eliminate themselves. There shouldn't have to be anyone advocating for LGBT rights, because we should all assume LGBT people "people" and rules for "people" should therefore apply. The same way there should be something blatantly obvious about women having the same rights, and being treated the same way as men.

However, this somehow seems to get a bit lost in translation, often due to non-feminist feminists and aggressive LGBT-fighters. I'll leave the LGBT issues here for now, I'll bring them up later. Feminism is for me the fight for gender equality, and I do think most feminist would agree. This does, however, mean I am as in favour of rights for men as I am for rights for women - or people as I like to call them.

This means I find it equally wrong that girls are raised around how pretty they are, as that boys are raised by the phrase "be a man" as a reaction to crying, complaining or worry. I find it as wrong that women get less pay for equal work, as I find it that men get harsher sentences for equal crime.
I want to get rid of the arbitrary differences in treatment between the sexes, not make women put in a stronger position than men.

The problems for women today isn't the same as they were 100 years ago - at least not in the west. One of the major problems is how women treat each other. How we seem to act as if there are only so many positions available for women and that we have to fight each other to be the one left on top. This is, in my opinion, accepting a "women's quota" in the wrong way. All measures to up the number of women in the work force and higher education etc, should be seen as temporary measures. They are necessary at the moment, but we are all aiming for a day where they are not necessary.

In the mean time, we should also lend a hand to our sisters in parts of the world who haven't got the same basic rights as we do. Because we do, after all, have an increasingly good deal here in the west. If you have the strength to stand against a never ending parade of stupid, you can get pretty much anywhere you want, and have an awesome life.

And that is why everything will be all right, because my life is quite cool. I have my writing, my illustrations, my travels, my photography and my passion for language. I have my friends, my family and my always true saying: most people are nice people.

And finally, I have this blog. And I miss this blog. I miss using it for big and small things, and I'm ready to start doing that again. I'm applying for an MA, I'm starting my new company, I'm taking pictures with my new cameras, I'm working to achieve some of my long term goals. This will be a fun ride. Are you still with me?

Everything will be all right.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Wordless Interlude

It takes a skilled surgeon to separate conjoined twins.
Yet, I have to make my incisions with trembling hands,
while separating two lives,
one absorbed by the other.
How do you make two functioning lives, when they both have grown,
but grown as one?

I separate the souvenirs from Malta,
giving you the memory of the ridiculous security in the cathedrals,
keeping the old lady on Gozo for myself.

If I cut the Warren Ellis-collection as one limb,
will there be enough blood flow
to my stump of a stack
to keep a living interest in comic books at all?

Is there enough tissue in the DVD-collection
to cover the holes left from the ones I take?
And if I take our pictures down,
will you remember the summers at all?

I cut and slice, then rip and tear,
Frankenstein's monster had nothing on our new lives.

I try to connect my old love for music
with the music I own now,
across the gaping crevasse
left by the festival memories that belong to you
and the relics I do no longer own

What makes a board game yours?
A) Receipt B) Most recent memory of using it C) The highest number of memories of using it?
Time starts, pick an option,

The film you brought with you,
but I watched 80 times,
is it a crucial part of your collection's bone structure?
Can it be replaced by two of mine?

Two wounded twins will stand up,
after recovery
and have nothing in common
but left over blood stains.

I hope you'll treat yours well.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Identity part 2 (how it feels to suddenly realise you're gay, when you knew you weren't)

Identity - noun

2. the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another:
3. condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is
4. the state or fact of being the same one as described.
5. the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time          

This is the second of 3 posts called Identity.

Part 1 talks about the effects finding out you're gay has on your marriage and your perceived future.
Part 2 (this one) will talk about suddenly realising you're gay, and how that feels.
Part 3 will talk about where I'll go from here, and also explain why I'm going to be all right.

For the purposes of explaining this, I will use skin colour as a metaphor. Y'all chill, it will be fine. Deep breaths.

It seems to be the most asked question so far: how did you not know? And I've found an allegory that seems to work quite well for the purposes of explaining. Let me begin.

So, imagine you're white. A white person in a white family with white friends. Some of your friends are black too. For that matter, some of your friends are other skin colours, that doesn't bother you, at all, but it's also not something you think too much about. However, as everyone in your family is white, and most of your friends are too, there just doesn't seem to be a reason for you to ask "am I black"? Why would you? Surely, you would know. 

None of these butterflies ever thought to ask "Am I a snail?"

You have friends, you go to university, you learn things and you read things, you have interests and hobbies, you get married and buy an apartment. This is your life, and you're quite happy with it.

Then one day you notice a crack in your skin. This isn't the first time. It's happened before, a couple of times, but as any other little blemish, you've just let it heal. This time it's different, though. You flip a little piece of skin aside and find a whole new skin underneath. You peel and peel and suddenly your whole outer skin falls of, and what do you know - you're black.

No one quite understands what has happened. It seems you were put in a white skin suit at birth, and it has grown with you. Your parents are shocked, your friends various degrees of surprised, but no one as surprised as you.

Now, this shouldn't matter. You're still you. You've done the same things, have the same interests and hobbies, your knowledge and personality is the same. It shouldn't matter at all which colour your skin is. But it does.

Most of your friends are cool with it, some aren't. Some of them are a tiny bit racist, some just don't know how to behave around black people. Most of your family is fine with it, but you wonder if they now doubt you really belong. 
The snail was a bit confused as to how she had kept herself flying all these years

Other black people aren't necessarily super comfortable with you either. You haven't had a black upbringing, you don't understand the struggle, you don't know which part of black culture you belong to and you don't know your roots. All you know is that your skin is black, and somehow that has dislodged you from belonging.

Now, replace white with straight, black with gay and skin colour with sexuality.
That is what it felt like. 

I just suddenly understood. The truth of me being straight had never been questioned, I just assumed I was. I got married, and I did (and do) love my husband. But not the way I was supposed to, I just didn't know. I attributed a wide range of emotions I never had, to me just "being like this" and "not so romantic". And then, I was kissed by a girl.

I am slowly reclaiming my life. Filtering friends through their reactions, giving them time, giving my family time, most of all giving myself time.

But who would have thought someone really would get under my skin..? 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Identity part 1 (how finding out you're gay makes your future collapse)

Identity - noun

2. the condition of being oneself or itself, and not another:
3. condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is
4. the state or fact of being the same one as described.
5. the sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time            

Hey internet, it's been a while. Something happened since last time. I found out I'm gay. Surprised? Not as surprised as I was.

This is the first of 3 posts called Identity.

Part 1 (today) will talk about the effects finding out you're gay has on your marriage and your perceived future.
Part 2 will talk about suddenly realising you're gay, just... how that feels.
Part 3 will talk about where I'll go from here, and also explain why I'm going to be all right.

These three parts will tell you why I've been away for so long, why it will be hard to get back and why things will be better when I do. And they start with me being me the way I was a year or so ago. You know, that happy smiling "life is quite cool" version of me. This one:

At that time, I had an image of my future in my head looking something like this:

Quite a cheery place, isn't it? In the back there you can see the houses where my husband and I would sit on the lawn in our wonderful white wooden garden furniture, and watch our grandchildren play. The yellow house in the distance is where we'd grow old, slowly, together. The blue pyramid is us standing proud and happy at 80 or so, looking back on our travels and adventures and feeling happy with what we've done. The tall blue tower is my published books.

There's a house there for our first house, moving out of the apartment, for getting a dog. Some of the houses held dinners with the fabulous friend couples we'd eventually get. Game nights, holidays, all the things we were going to do.

Some of the closer houses held getting children, our children's first day at school, their first word, their first steps, the first positive pregnancy test.  My future was bright, happy and packed full of things to look forward to. In the front of my future, the tower to the left, was the huge "city hall", the house called Our Marrige. The institution that would inevitably lead to all those other things.

This is how I thought things should be, this is what I believed in.
But suddenly, one day, my hand caught fire.
Unlike Katy Perry, I did not kiss a girl and liked it. I was, however, kissed by a girl, and  had my head explode. Thousands of puzzle pieces rearranged into a pattern of "Hoooow did I not see this before", and the tiny spark that had landed in the palm of my hand, slowly but surely burst into solid flames. There was no doubting it, my hand was on fire. But I pretended like nothing. And I did it quite well. I walked around, ignoring my burning hand as if nothing was wrong, except that very quickly became too exhausting and I went to my parents' house and hid there for a while. But my hand was still burning, and the burning began to hurt, and I tried to seek refuge in the image of my future. Only to find the lights had gone out.

"That's odd," I thought and noticed that the flames flared. I tried to run out of my head as quickly as I could, but one single spark got left behind.

I held my breath, I looked away, I hoped, I prayed...

But the grandchildren on the lawn went up in flames, sparks spiralled out of the burning houses, threatening to destroy more of my future. Panicked, I saw no other option than to tell my husband what was going on. He could probably help me put the fire out, make things fall back into order. I explained that my hand was on fire, and how I couldn't put it out. I explained how I realised my hand had probably been a fire-hazard all along, but how there just hadn't been a spark to light it up before. I explained it all.

And my husband kindly, but clearly, explained that this was okay, and I should learn to live with my burning hand, but that our marriage now was over.

I heard no rumbling, no crash, no howling alarms or scraping. Just a dull "whoosh" as most of my future went up in smoke. Just like that.

This is now several months ago, and I'm slowly starting to breathe again. I'm not yet ready to start digging in the rubble, clear the fields and make room for a new one. But I'm getting there. The few trips I've taken down to inspect the ruins has shown that a lot of my planned future was made of straw when it should have been made from brick. Shaky foundations, sub-standard building material and over inflated castles in the air. I accept this. However, this is what I believed in, this is what I thought was real, this is the future I was working towards. The loss is real, if the buildings were not.

On a positive note, I say I haven't started clearing out the rubble yet, and that is almost true. I am blessed with friends who're clearing some of the rubble away for me and making houses of their own. The theory seems to be "We'll be in your future, so we might as well get comfortable". The girl who blew my mind is waiting patiently to the side of things, sometimes gently commenting on how that hill over there would be perfect for a trip to Prague, or how there's plenty of room for children and game nights, over there, in the slightly more distant future. So we'll see.

I'm doing better now, I am, but I am tired and exhausted and bewildered and confused. What do I do until I'm ready to rebuild my life? I'll read memories in the light of my burning hand. It makes a lot of sense.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sociable (Love in the Time of Anxiety)

so·cia·ble - adjective, noun

1. inclined to associate with or be in the company of others.
2. friendly or agreeable in company; companionable.
4. an informal social gathering, especially of members of a church.

This weekend, two of my important people got married. One in a self composed musical wedding ceremony at a theatre nearby, one in what I can only assume was a terrific country style wedding (based on her absolutely amazing Pinterest-collection of wedding-related things covered in twine) just a few hours away. Both are people I would have loved to see as brides. I was invited to the celebrations by the latter of the two, and I really should have gone. She was in my wedding, I've known her since I was 15, we've travelled together for heaven's sake. There's a bond there. But who spent all of that day on the computer watching 6 episodes of 'Freaks and Geeks' in a row, eating half a bag of crisps and making 48 cupcakes? That was me.


Story time!

I've always been a happy kid. Actually, for a long time I was that kid:

I have no idea who the other kids here are, I think they're relatives.
Should one of them be you, and I'm now ripping up some horrible childhood trauma - please forgive me. 
The kid who, when everyone else agreed that both the activity and the people involved sucked, was just happy as a clam getting to wear a scarf on her head. (To be honest, I'm still that kid).

However, something happened as I grew older, and at some point I went 'Hey! Groups of people, how horribly horrifying!' Now, I'm no expert, but I think most people who experience social anxiety at a young age tend to shy away from people. Not me. No, I inserted myself into as many large groups of people I possibly could, feeling awful while pretending to be super happy. And it worked fairly well, as long as I granted myself a steady supply of breaks to cry in a bathroom.

I was bubbly, enthusiastic and confident on the outside, and shy, terrified and insecure on the inside. Actually, I can do better than that. Let's do a thought experiment: imagine a really magnificently colourful train. It's bursting through the landscape, soap bubbles flying, happy music playing, rainbows and glitter shooting through the air, leaving the scent of home-made cinnabuns and summer. In fact, the whole village is just waiting for the next time it will pass with it's silly quirky happiness.

On the inside, however, the train is nothing but a wooden box, with a narrow wooden bench. A wobbly narrow wooden bench, with only 3 legs. And on that wobbly three legged bench sits the engineer. He happens to be very old, terrified of speed, he is allergic to the smell of cinnabuns and gets horrible motion sickness.  And he's nearly blind. And in charge of the train. That only has one break that you have to move from wheel to wheel, on the outside. And the door is jammed. Can you picture it?

That's how I felt. (In all honesty, a lot of people probably found my bubbly too much, so maybe only a tenth of the village really waited for me to burst through the landscape, but that is beside the point of this discussion, thank you very much).

Then this happened:
It might surprise you to know I did not have a MySpace account
I was the cheeriest goth you'll ever meet, and that lasted for about 6 months, before the happy-train went on in technicolour. At some point, the engineer jumped out leaving little but the happy bubbly outside and the wobbly bench on the inside. Occasional panic attacks happened, but I powered through, functioning relatively well for years, with only the shortest periods of 'can't handle people, really.' 10 years passed that way. And then I went to England.

In England the engineer caught up with me again. I thought he was lost forever, but he had just been out buying equipment, getting laser eye surgery and some motion sickness tablets. He was back, and ready for action.

First he installed breaks. Slowing down the whole train a little. Then he fixed the wobbly bench, decided it was still crap and bought a new one. He painted the inside walls, picked off pieces of stickers and happy slogans on the outside, giving the train a slightly less manic look, but making the inside a lot brighter, and he started experimenting with slowing down the pace when he wasn't in the mood for full speed. It felt good, it felt smart, it felt awesome. Except, the engineer very suddenly disappeared again.

I don't know what happened to him, I'm hoping he's just out for more parts. Luckily he made an emergency break for me to hold on to before he left. That turned out to be a good thing. When I got back to Norway I was overwhelmed by the complete lack of fit between the me I got to know while in England, and the life I lived back here. And instead of crashing the train into a wall, I pulled on the emergency break and stopped it completely.

It's been tough coming home, it is tough being home, it is tough finding out where to go from here. And it has been tough telling an important person: 'I'm so sorry, but the thought of going to your wedding gets in the way of me sleeping, and makes me sweat and tear up a little bit.' Luckily, she is understanding.

But! Now I'm all sorts of hopeful! After all, is there a better place to find yourself than on a comfortable bench inside? Is there a better time to figure out where you're going than when the train stands still? I think not! I've also started doing some remodelling on my own, for example I've figured out the train could use some more windows, it would be nice with a passenger car and and a larger variation in music, perhaps a happy whistle and whatever it is that makes the train make that 'chooo chooo'-sound. I'm decorating.

Right now, it's okay resting in a train that's colourful both inside and out, waiting for the engineer to come back. And when he does, I'll make it up to the brides. I'll make it up to all the people who have been waiting. I'll make it up with visits and celebrations and joining in parties and accepting invitations and talking and listening and all those words. After all, I am quite sociable.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Romantic (Why Doctor Who is more romantic than Romeo and Juliet)

ro·man·tic - adjective

1. of, pertaining to, or of the nature of romance; characteristic or suggestive of the world of romance
2. fanciful; impractical; unrealistic
3. imbued with or dominated by idealism
5. displaying or expressing love or strong affection.

Hello, Internet!

Important birthdays are coming up, and as always that sends me spiralling into an endless search for perfect gifts. Gifts that say something. Talking gifts. And I'm good at it too! Few, if any, have such a good track record with semi-sapient presentry as I do.

However, searching through Etsy, Pinterest, Ebay, Amazon and Epla, looking for inspiration and those extra special things has made me think about romance. Hundreds of hundreds of items later, I find that most  romantic expressions annoy me. Geeks do it better. It's just a fact.

1. You are my sun
NO! What are you even saying? That I'm a burning ball of gas? That I am your only source of heat and light?  That your life depends upon me? That if I suddenly disappeared you would die? Does that sound romantic to you? It is not! It's needy, and clingy, and too much pressure, and as a matter of fact - a little grandiose! Juliet is not the sun. Juliet is Juliet. You should be your own gorram sun! If you suddenly disappeared from your life, you would die, your life depends upon you - those are fair points. I'm not your sun. You are!

Geek fix:
Moon of my life (Game of Thrones - Technically answered with 'My sun and stars' but we'll forgive that based on the male/female symbolism and the nomadic existence of the people who use this. Open skies etc)

YES! I like this! You're saying I am the person your own love and beauty reflects back off, who helps lighten up the dark in your life? I can deal with that. You're saying that if I suddenly disappeared things would not be the same, there would be a problem with wobbling and flooding for a while, and hefty climate effects which it would take some time to get used to? Fair enough! It would suck to lose you too!

2. You are the only one for me
NO! I'm really not. There are almost 7 billion people in the world, you and I met after a long string of coincidences and we've probably adjusted ourselves somewhat to fit each other - because that's what people do. There's nothing romantic in thinking that out of all the people in the whole world this one is the only one you could be with. That would just doom you to entire singleness if Your Person got run over by a car or something, and where's the fair in that?

Geek fix:
I choose you (Pokemon)
What is truly romantic is that out of all the seven billion humans, you choose this one - every day.

3. I love you because of all of these reasons and you are so beautiful in all these ways and also if someone sees My Person say all these things, and I'll do all these things, and in the future and forever I will always keep doing all these things and saying all these words because I love you, I love My Person, I love, I love, I love.

Now, I'm afraid I might come across as a bit of cynic here, but that is not my intention. I am all for the grand romantic gestures, and I believe in telling people you love them, often and without reason. But even more so, I believe in showing people what they mean to you and why.

Geek fix:
Tell her... Oh, she knows. (Doctor Who)
This is what you should aim for. This is what I'm aiming for. That no matter what words you say or choose, no matter how big or small your romantic gifts or outbursts are, that the person will know.

I want to be absolutely certain that all those in my life, who should know, will know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I love them, they are awesome, and I'd make them Leek and Turkey pie with Red Onion Jam, Vegan Tortillas with home made taco spice, Mac'n'Cheese with sausages and "Fiskelefse", or whatever else their heart desires, every day of the week. That I would cross the universe, or oceans, or just take a walk, anywhere, at any time. This is what I hope they will know.

So when jumping out from a cliff (with a hang glider?), or sinking down through the ocean (while scuba diving) or getting ready to leap out of an airplane (again... parachute, this isn't suicidal just adventurous) I can say to the person on the cliff/in the boat/in the plane: If something goes wrong, tell them... Oh, they know.

If this doesn't break your heart a little bit, you might be a robot.
Or just not care so much about Doctor Who.
Both are fine by me, I'm just saying. 

Oh yeah, and they'll probably have kick ass presents to remind them, if they don't. 

Friday, June 7, 2013

Wordless interlude

People talk about wavelengths as if they were a valid way of measuring chemistry. "We were on the same wavelength," they say, meaning that the person they talked to didn't disagree too much. "She was on a completely different wavelength," they say, meaning she held views completely different from their own.

It is a useless system. Not only because the wavelengths in mention don't actually exist, but even more because the waves they are trying to define are identifiable only by their lack of definition.

I've met these people, who are 'on the same wavelength' as me, and what I can say for certain about them is that their waves and my waves are not made of the same stuff.

My waves run thin and silvery through the air, hooking up to all other waves I've ever experienced. My web of waves is just that - a web.

However, when I meet these mysterious "on the same wavelength"-people, they tend to have waves made of stronger stuff. Blocks and pegs that fit perfectly in the gaps created between my waves. They make my chaos seem like order, and I make their scattered waves seem connected. And so we work.

"It's important to find people who are on the same wavelength," they say, completely misunderstanding the point. It is important, I say, never to look for waves at all. What good are waves, really? It's the ocean we care about