My Story: High School

So another blogger I follow recently released a five-part series detailing her relationship with an abusive friend, and how it started out well-meaning and went badly. At first I was wondering why she was posting that, what happened to the book reviews, et cetera. But then, at the end of it, she posted that she felt this strong feeling of catharsis. By writing it all down, by putting it out there in public, she was able to say, “this happened to me. I’m not crazy, I’m not making it up, I have valid reasons not to like this person.” And her fans responded, giving her a sense of validation she never got: “this happened and it was wrong and you should never have had to go through this.”

She took the posts down, having achieved what she wanted, which is entirely her decision. Today I read through some of the comments on the final “I took the posts down” post and I thought, I really should get back to blogging more. I miss that feeling.

I’m starting therapy. Maybe that’ll help, maybe not. But I miss you guys.

I went back and looked over the previous My Story posts, hoping to find some thread of narrative I could pick up and continue on with. But I never did post things in sequence, or in any semblance of a narrative. I just talked about my life.

I recovered the password to my old livejournal at work today, over lunch. The content filter blocked my posts from showing up. My profile says I was 16 when I started that journal. That would have been during the bad times, right smack dab in the middle.

I started going to a private high school in San Francisco. I was a straight-A student in middle school, and I hated my peers (the feeling was mostly mutual). The high schools in the district where both my parents lived (separately) were awful, so we decided to pay for private high school — it was that or homeschool, and while I was pushing for an “unschooling” system where I’d never have to talk to someone my age again, private school seemed acceptable enough.

For the first time in my life, I enjoyed school that year. We had great teachers who saw us as people. I had friends who didn’t know I was “weird”. I fit in, kind of. Well, there was one guy who made fun of my not having friends so I kicked him in the shins. But he was a dick. We were on-again off-again friends the whole year, with only a handful of incidents of violence. I learned to play Magic: The Gathering and breakdance and all about the cultural significance of graffiti. I had my first boyfriend, my first tongue kiss, my first amicable breakup, and my second boyfriend. Things at home with my mom sucked, but I could forget about it most of the time. I’d stay late after school because mom would be working anyway so I could just take a later train home. Things were pretty good, overall.

When my dad got married, my stepmom wanted a big wedding since she hadn’t gotten one the first time around. And then we had to remodel one of the houses, and since her lot was bigger (and in a very wealthy neighborhood) it made sense to do that one. And now there were four kids needing college savings funds instead of two. There wasn’t enough money left over to pay for private high school for me, but I now had the option of going to the public school the rich kids went to, where I’d be sure to get a decent education.

My mother was furious. She loved to rant about my father and money, how he was a lawyer so he should pay for everything, he was just being stingy, et cetera. I couldn’t stand that. Once, when she wouldn’t shut up, I hit her. We were in the car at the time. She pulled over and made me get out, and I was banned from the frontseat for months because she “didn’t feel safe” around me.

My mother. Didn’t feel safe around me.

She loved that sort of thing. Anything that could paint me as out of control, a devil child, sent to torment her. Anything that made her the victim. I was a child; I didn’t think so at the time, but I was. I was lonely, awkward, fat, ethnically different than my peers, and later suicidally depressed, but she was the real victim here.

I learned how to lie, to fake it. I got into theatre at my new school, and I would have evening rehearsals. She’d pick me up from my dad’s house and drive me to rehearsal, and we’d have a screaming fight that would leave me sobbing and panicky as we pulled into the parking lot. I had the span of the dark parking lot to pull myself together, dry my tears, plaster on a smile, and tell everyone I was fine, what scene were we doing today again?

To this day, I’m constantly worried people will catch me out in a lie. I also don’t lie; I hate lying. But I worry about it anyway. Any slight factual error I worry will be used against me, and I’ll be branded a liar and nobody will believe anything I say again.

I never know how to end these posts.

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A Tomboy’s Guide to: Curly Hair

So you’re a tomboy; you don’t care about stylish, you just toss your hair (uncolored, cut only when it gets long enough to bother you) into a ponytail and head out the door without a care in the world. Until one day you wake up and realize you’re an adult now and maybe you want to try a more professional look? But you don’t know how.

Well here’s what I’ve learned!

myhair

It all starts with shampoo

For curly hair, the manageability really comes down to what shampoo you use. You must use a sulfate-free shampoo. I know what you’re thinking: “oh great, some fancy-shmancy shampoo at like $50 for a tiny bottle”.  I thought the same thing when I first heard about sulfates, and almost quit right there. But I decided to look around first, and I’m glad I did. turns out, there are a lot of cheap drugstore shampoos that don’t have sulfates! Here’s two of them:

Burts Bees shampoos tend to be about $10 a bottle; they have a pomegranate shampoo that’s labelled as volumizing that smells heavenly. They used to have an avocado one that made me literally want to eat my hair, but I think it’s discontinued now? I’ve also seen a baobab and a mango one, each with supposedly different properties, but I’m not sure they really make a difference except for smell, so get whichever is handy. Burts is my go-to because they’re everywhere.

Alba Botanica shampoos, by contrast, are a brand I’d never heard of and have no loyalty to. I was out of Burt’s Bees shampoo and the store I was in had sold out, so I started browsing the aisles and found their Hawaiian shampoo. It turned out to be sulfate-free as well, and it’s working for me just fine🙂

If you can’t find either brand, I’m sure you can find something; I’ve created a printable you can download that has a checklist you can bring to the drugstore when you go looking.

Now that you have a sulfate-free shampoo, you want to use it as little as possible; no more than once a week. You take a small amount on the tips of your fingers and rub vigorously into your scalp, trying to dislodge any dandruff or anything that might lurk there. You let the action of the water hitting your scalp rinse it into the length of your hair, where it will dislodge any trapped dirt and leave your hair clean. On days you’re not doing this, you can use conditioner to “co-wash” and achieve most of the same effect.

Onto conditioner!

Your conditioner you want to be free of sulfates as well, but conditioners don’t tend to have them to begin with. You also want to steer clear of alcohols that can dry your hair (some alcohols don’t, some do) and waxes that your sulfate-free shampoo will have a hard time getting out of your hair later. Generally speaking, the conditioners that go with the shampoo you picked out will be fine, but the printable has a more extensive list.

You’ll want to leave in the conditioner at the end of your shower; some people like to put in a bit, rinse it out, then put in fresh to leave in, but I just leave it all in. You’ll get a feel for how much to use; you don’t want it to be gloppy on your hair when you’re done, but you do want to use enough that you can feel a difference in the hair. If you overdo it, I like to run my hands over the hair, squeezing gently, so that it transfers to my hands where it can be washed off; repeat this until it’s no longer gloppy.

Styling!

This is, unfortunately, where I had to spend more money. What you want is a styling gel you can work in after the shower that’s designed to make the most of your curls. I used to use Uncle Funky’s Daughter brand Curly Girl styling cream,  but now I use DevaCurl styling cream, which I like better. Ouidad is another brand that has some styling products as well, but not everything there is approved under the Curly Girl method I’m outlining.

Once you’re out of the shower, the general idea is to flip your hair over and scrunch upward with a microfiber cloth or a T-shirt to get most of the moisture out. You then apply styling cream, scrunching it through your hair, and then flip back up. Tousle a little, use clips to hold it back from your face so much, and voila, ready to walk out the door.

If you want to blow-dry, you’ll need a diffuser, which is an attachment that goes on your hair dryer to spread out and mellow the flow a bit. DevaCurls makes a weird one that cups your head, but you can use a cheap one from the drugstore if you prefer: just place your curls into the little bowl and blow upward until that section is dry-ish.

You can also just put the whole thing in a ponytail and not worry about it🙂

Cutting!

If you’re brave enough, you can cut your own hair. It’s crucial to cut it while dry, so you can see how each curl wants to fall. If you look at a strand of hair, you can kind of see it in consecutive Cs (some of them backward); I’m told you want to cut at the top of a C, on the diagonal. If you see fraying ends, you’ll want to cut above the frayed bit; if you see knots, cut above them, since knots tend to be caused by fraying ends that get tangled together. You also want to get really sharp hairdressing scissors for best results.

I get my hair cut at a salon every quarter or so. It’s an hour out of my day (and a decent chunk out of my pocketbook), but since I found a good stylist its’s so worth it. My hair seems to want to be short, but she manages with layers to cut  it so I don’t look like a mushroom. Make sure you find someone who specialises in curly hair! A salon that advertises giving the “ouidad cut” probably knows their stuff enough to manage.

Go forth and be curly

Good luck! If you have more tips and tricks, please share in the comments.

 

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Why Pokemon Go is the best fitness app

Pokemon Go is the best fitness app I’ve ever seen on Android. Hands down.

At this point you’re thinking one of two things: either you’re nodding your head going “Yep, yep, preach it” or you’re thinking “Wait, isn’t that a game?”

Yeah, it’s a game. And that’s what makes it such a great fitness app. You see, Pokemon Go never shames you. You don’t have to enter your weight; it doesn’t care what you weigh, or if your weight is going up or down. It doesn’t care how much or how little you walk. It will reward you when you do well, but it never punishes you for inactivity; however long you’re able to use it, it’s happy to give you rewards.

What it does do is give you a reason to go out. I have Fibromyalgia, and my physical therapist keeps telling me to go and take walks, just short walks at various points in the day. I keep telling her she’s crazy. “Where would I go? What would be the point of these walks? How would I motivate myself to keep going when my legs hurt?” I have gone on a walk around lunchtime every day for the past four days, and every day I’ve gotten a foot cramp and sore muscles, and every day I’ve not cared. I had a goal in mind, I achieved it, and I got back to the office in time to finish my work. It gives me a little break midday (I don’t usually take a lunch break), I get some fresh air and sunshine, and I feel good about myself no matter what I achieved.

It also doesn’t discriminate by fitness ability. I can’t walk far, so I often go for a drive to tag pokespots and get to gyms I want to challenge. Once I’m in a park, if I feel up to it I can do laps on foot to hit the various spots in order, or I can sit by the car waiting for the first stop to reset (it takes about 5 minutes before you can tag a spot again). That gives me a chance to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. If you’re in a wheelchair, no problem; it counts your rolling as if it was walking, and you’re fully able to experience the gameplay

And the final factor, the one that keeps me hooked as the novelty is beginning to wear off: it has a great social aspect. Everyone is playing it, which means you probably know someone you can play with. If you join the same team, you can get together and compare notes on your pokemon, challenge gyms together to take them down easier, and commiserate about how all those red team jerks are probably teenagers with no lives and how did they get that level so fast? .If you don’t have friends who play, go to a park and drop a lure module. Bam! People will show up and be willing to talk to you, and you have a ready-made subject to talk about, so now you can meet people and get some social interaction outside your normal friend group.

In conclusion, Pokemon Go is an amazing fitness app, one I suspect will keep me active for a long while. And oh yeah, there’s also a game involved. Happy hunting!

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Hair

On a lighter note, I seem to have a problem. See, I had a hair appointment last night, and when it was done it looked pretty cute:

hair_before

Chic!

So I went to bed and I woke up and well….

hair_morning

Yikes

So I did my best, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to tame the beast:

hair_after

Murr.

So I gave up.

hair_surrender

Tame.

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Horror

“How are you doing? How’s Bamboo doing?”

I can feel the delay, desperately scrambling for a response. A simple question, I should have a pat ready answer, but I don’t. I feel the tumblers in my mind whirring, locking into place, the card-file of my mind sorting itself, waiting for an answer to bubble up. A ready answer slides into place, but it’s for the wrong question — he doesn’t really care. I answer anyway.

“I’m alright, been better. Bamboo’s great though.”

My mind has found the Bamboo file, but it’s six pages thick. I sift through, looking for a tidbit I can throw out there. My gut sinks as I see two more people come around the corner, looking for this status update. Fuck. What was I doing five minutes ago? I just came out here to pee!

“Powershell’s kicking my ass though.”

“Oh yeah? Maybe we should all sit together and look it over?”

This is a good idea. No, it’s a terrible idea. He doesn’t know anything about Powershell. Nobody does except–

“Yeah, I already messaged Pat this morning. Do you know Powershell?”

That was the wrong order of sentences but he takes it in stride.

“Nah, Pat’s the best, and Ray but he’s nights.”

“Yeah, I sent him an email. I can’t get more information about the error, it just said it fails to download.”

The sort-and-skim completes; I now have the information I wanted four sentences ago, so I ramble on, dumping info on the trio that’s assembled around me.

“I got [server] and [server] deploying yesterday, we started them up but there were application-level errors. So that’s nothing to do with Bamboo, I handed it off to the appdev teams. I got [server] and [server] working this morning, and [server] will be ready once I finish this last change: it’s got a different directory structure, so I was just trying to handle that, and somehow it blew up with the most generic error ever. So I messaged Pat and I’m still working that.”

I hate every second of the conversation. Didn’t I used to be able to rattle that off up top, instead of the stalling to a halt? What the fuck is wrong with me?

It’s just fibro, I tell myself. Calm down. It’s just my brain deteriorating under the effects of a chronic disease I’ll be struggling against for the rest of my life, it’s just the last bit of my body that I felt I could actually trust when everything goes to shit failing me. No need to panic.

FML.

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Fibro by analogy

I don’t really want to leave that last post as the top post on my blog for ages, so let’s talk about Fibromyalgia.

Fibro has two primary symptoms. The first is central nervous system sensitization. I suck at explaining, so let’s take an analogy. You ever do something stupid, like slice your finger open or skin your knee, only you don’t quite notice at first? And then you look down and see blood and your brain’s like, “Oh, hey mate, thanks, I knew I was forgetting something” and the pain kicks in and it hurts like a bitch?

Wait, that’s a shitty analogy. You ever been really anxious, and like, sure you’re forgetting something? So you put your keys in your pocket and you walk outside and you pat your pocket to check if you have your keys and you walk to the car and you pat your pocket again and you get in and start the car and you drive a bit and you pat your pocket and holy shit, the keys aren’t there!! You forgot your– wait, no, false alarm, you’re driving, your keys are in the ignition.

Essentially, to my understanding, my brain’s like that, but with pain. My nerves send the same signals everyone else’s nerves send: touch recorded in upper arm region, intensity foo, surface area bar. My brain, however, is super anxious, as though I were gushing blood and it needed to make sure I really feel the pain so I won’t do it again. So it records “HIGH ALERT! UNLEASH PAIN!!” and I pull away from what was actually just a gentle grip.

The other main symptom is fatigue. Right now, as I write this, it’s 7:15 in the morning. My alarm went off at 5, and despite having an alarm that makes me turn on the light and scan a barcode before I can shut it off, I laid back down and almost went back to sleep. I got up, though, and took my shower, and I had to sit on the toilet for a few minutes to get my strength back after standing for so long. I almost had a nap in the car (my husband drove today), and as I type this, my bones ache with exhaustion just thinking about it. I went to bed last night around 8:30; it took a while to fall asleep, but I slept soundly. I’m just tired. All the damn time. I don’t let it stop me from doing things, but I do them tired. Physically tired, not just groggy.

I’m not really going anywhere with this, I just wanted to share.

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Angry ramblings

This is probably going to get whiny. I don’t like to complain much; that’s one of the reasons I took a hiatus from blogging for a while. I always feel like there’s so much wrong with me that I can neither help nor handle, that I should shut up and deal as best I can with the rest of it. But apparently studies show that dealing with trauma and being more open emotionally can reduce pain levels with Fibro, so what the hell, let’s blog.

(Sorry in advance)

On my birthday my mother sent me this text:

I went and peeked at your fb page this morning, seems like your really pissed off about a lot of stuff. Mostly how you were raised, I think. It makes me sad and feels weird to wish you a “happy birthday” when basically you seem to be saying, I wish I’d never been born. I do hope you have a nice day. But to be honest, I wish every day is nice for you. I do love you and I don’t lie, ever.

On my facebook page, I like to a lot of Libby Anne’s blog posts; this was a month ago, so it’s likely she saw me share one of the links from that week’s Link Love. She probably saw this share, which I linked with the teaser text “I wish that I didn’t feel as though the most abusive people in my life mean something. Because I feel like they shouldn’t.”. She probably saw me share Samantha’s post, and Fred’s. She probably skimmed right past without noticing this cool post on IUDs, or this body love post, or my status from a few days earlier:

Sitting in the parking lot at Michaels talking and laughing about stuff that’s sooooo not fit to discuss in public 😀[my husband] for getting me and being willing to hang out instead of getting things done. I think I worried [my mom] when we visited because I tend to do that 🙂

But even if every single thing Facebook showed her when she read my wall was negative, what the hell kind of sentiment is that for a fucking birthday text?!

I know what’s got her goat. It’s not that I’m “really pissed off about a lot of stuff”, it’s that I’m pissed off and frightened that her religion, the religion she turned to after I left home and which she credits for totally turning her life around, can and does destroy lives the way she shattered mine. It’s because I haven’t “forgiven” her yet. She always acts so concerned for me, like, I should forgive her for my own sake, because it’ll help me. Also I should find Jesus.

To be perfectly honest, I don’t know what forgiveness means. What would change? What is this thing she wants for me? Is it for me to recognize her essential, innate humanity, and understand how she got to a place where she could do that to me? I’ve been doing that to the best of my ability, and I have a lot more wisdom than I once did. Is it for me to choose to embrace the life I have, to move forward instead of looking backward? I did that when I left home and swore I’d never go back, and again when I did go back. Is it for me to stop longing for a mother figure, someone I could honestly talk to the way my husband talks to his mother? No; the answer to that is to keep cultivating a relationship with my mother-in-law until I feel comfortable enough to use her for that sort of parental advice. She’s happy to give it, but I feel awkward.

What she wants, I think, is for me to pretend it never happened, to let her live out her fantasy of being a good mother who just maybe made a few minor mistakes. Well fuck that. I’d love for it never to have happened — but it did, and it affects me, and I’m still dealing with the repercussions to this day, so no, I’m not going to let her have power over me uncontested. I refuse to worship at this altar of silence, forgetfulness, revisionist history that she’s erected. I am here, and I’m damaged, and it’s her fault, and she’s going to have to deal with that if she wants to interact with me. It’s not fair, and it’s not right, and she should have thought of that when she was raising me rather than trying to undo it now.

She loves the Bible, so how about Matthew 7:16? “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?” The fruits she delivers are slings and arrows, aimed right at my heart.

How about Psalms 55:21? “The words of his mouth were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart: his words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords.” Or Proverbs 4:19: “The way of the wicked is as darkness: they know not at what they stumble.” How can she say those things and not understand that they’re hurtful things to say? How can she take a declaration of “I am hurt” and turn that into “I am wicked and refuse to forgive”?

I am wise enough to know I have no wisdom, I know nothing. I am bitter, fine, and angry, sure, and maybe that’s a terrible thing, and maybe it makes me the next Hitler or something, but I am what I am, and that has to be good enough. It just has to.

 

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