It would have been my mom’s birthday this week. She passed away over a decade ago, but I still think about her. Certain things remind me of her. Poems are one. She used to love reciting them and getting us to memorize them. Of all of them, this one affects me the most. I still get shivers every time I read it.

I’ve studied William Ernest Henley and this poem. Written when he was in the hospital fighting tuberculosis of the bone, it speaks of courage in the face of death and his atheism; accepting whatever judgment will come for the decisions he’s made in life.

I see it as a tribute to the strength we have within us and a challenge for me to use my strength to control as much as I can of my own destiny.


Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

William Ernest Henley. 1849–1903

strong females


This speaks for itself.


Found on Facebook; “Trying God’s Patience,” original poster.

a girl crush


A disturbing thing happened recently. A lovely 14 year old girl told me that she has a crush on a girl. In this day and age, it’s not a big deal, so I said okay…? She seemed upset, so we sat down to talk about it. I asked lots of questions and she gave me as many answers as she could.

It was no surprise to hear the normal teen-aged angsty questions: Does she like me? Is she cooler than me? Would her friends think I’m cool enough? And, of course, is she straight?

I was absolutely stunned, though to hear her concern about how others would react if she dated a girl. People will think she’s gay. People will think she’s weird. People will have all kinds of projections on her. As strong as she is, she is still a teenager, so she does care what stupid things people will say about her.

At first, I thought she was buying in to the prejudice and wasn’t comfortable being “not straight.” But that’s not what it was. And, it’s not that she cares if people think she’s a lesbian. People already do, and since she categorically refuses to define herself in terms of sexual orientation, she propagates that perception.

It’s that she doesn’t think she is a lesbian. She also doesn’t think that she is bi-sexual. I know her pretty well, so I summed up what I think it is. I think she is straight, but open to the idea that love is love. She doesn’t have a rigid definition of herself or any idea that her romantic path will go one certain way.

She is primarily interested in boys. (I checked this out very carefully with her, to make sure I was not making assumptions.) But, clearly, she can also see certain girls as potential romantic partners. She was concerned that this would be hard to explain to people and she hated the idea of being misrepresented.

What a fucked-up world we live in that a child can’t be who he or she is without fear. Obviously, this is a global issue which could be discussed for years with no end. But I’d like to rant about sexuality for a moment. And ignorance. And hatred.

I’ll be honest. When I was growing up, in most of this country we weren’t comfortable with homosexuality. Our parents grew up in the 50s and although they never taught us hate, they also did not teach openness and sensitivity. Jokes were made and references to “those members of society” marginalized them. When I was growing up, if I saw a same sex couple, I felt uncomfortable and I wished that “they” would be more private so I didn’t have to see it. I got over that a long time ago, and taught my children to love all people and never even told them that people were different. People, I told them, are people. (Truthfully, I don’t even believe in race, we are all part of the human race.)

When the topic of same-sex marriage first came up, I was opposed to it. (I know, quite a confession, right?) I believed that marriage has always been defined as between one man and one woman, and that gay marriage was changing the definition of the word. I wasn’t opposed to the legalizing of same-sex unions, and for all of the benefits being equal, I just wanted it to be called something else. Anyway, I’m over it. Like my vagina rant, call it whatever you want. But let’s give everyone equal rights.

What’s important to me now is that we need to educate our children (sorry, but most of the adults who’ve made it this far and haven’t changed are hopeless) to be open and sensitive. Not the same as PC. That’s a bit overdone, in my opinion.

Before this happened, I had already started to consider how difficult it must be to be a gay teen, to be hormonally-charged, normal adolescents with very few potential partners to choose from. I don’t have statistics, but I don’t think that most kids are “out” yet in middle school or high school.

I’m mad about the stigma, the teasing, the bullying and the projections. Why do we still feel the need to define sexuality so rigidly? I suppose it’s still the same old ignorance from before. And fear. I do understand that in certain religions it is taught to be an abomination, but in those same religions are we not all created in God’s image? (No need to answer that, it’s not an argument that can be “won.”)

I think it’s the same as those who think that groups of young men of color must be in a gang, or up to no good. Or, the idea that piercing, dyed hair, tattoos or any other visible self-alterations must indicate bad character. Let’s be honest. I’m opposed to almost all of it for my kids. When they are adults, they will make their own decisions. But I don’t assume that those who have tattoos, for example are all bad people. Nor do I teach that. Appearances are certainly important and they do tell people certain things about a person. But they don’t tell about the character of that person.

We need to stop judging and convicting people based on appearances. We need to stop telling children who they should be and instead witness and nurture who they are. We need to stop the outdated idea that different is “other,” and that there is a “they” in the first place.

We did find a label for the teen I spoke to that she can use if she is dealing with an idiot who insists that she call herself something, or when she feels the need to define her sexual orientation. Heteroflexible. It’s a good word, and for now it fits.

But what a FUCKED UP world, where a child on the verge of becoming a young adult needs to find a LABEL to describe herself to others! WHY THE FUCK can’t she just be? And WHY THE FUCK does she have to be a static thing? Why can’t she become who she is meant to be without stigma?

Prelude to a Crime

When I reached out I was denied access.
Then I grasped at someone else and another door closed.
I met someone new and jumped at the chance
and ignored my own rules for his promise we’d take it easy.

Act I – The Crime

When he started to hurt me I asked him to stop.
Then I pushed him and made him stop, but
I stayed there, ignoring the signs,
and let him continue.

When it started hurting again I told him so.
Then I stopped fighting him.
I played nice and forced myself to take it
and he thought I was enjoying myself.

When I got home I blamed myself.
Then I found out how badly I was hurt.
I felt ashamed of the choices I’d made
and the fact that I didn’t fight him harder.

When I really think about it I did say it hurt.
Then I did raise my voice and push at him.
I don’t understand why I didn’t go home then
and I wonder if I didn’t allow him to violate me.

Intermission – Blaming the Victim

Why did I put myself in that situation?
Why did I ignore the signs?
Why did I ignore the pain and not scream bloody murder?
Why didn’t I stop him?

Act II – Trying to Figure It Out

When something bad happens you don’t blame the victim.
Then why do I focus mostly on my part?
I go over and over why I shut down and let it happen
and I know that victims of acquaintance rape can feel this way.

When it comes right down to it, I did say no.
Then it’s not my fault, right?
I did confront him to explain that I was hurt because he didn’t listen
and I do think he feels remorse.

Act III – What Happens Next

When I am ready to deal, I will get out of my head.
Then it will be time to grieve.
I know the feelings will come and go
and someday, it will be okay.

all kinda crazy


Not to mock mental illness, because it’s a very serious issue, but occasionally I go stark, raving. Truly. I suffer from Bipolar Disorder. (Btw, I loathe the expression suffer from, but it does seem to fit.) People with Bipolar Disorder (as you probably know) have mood swings, but spend most of their time struggling with depression.

Usually meds take care of the worst of it. Which, in my case is the mania. Which, in my case is NOT of the “start a new business” or “run around the house organizing things” variety. Nope. Lucky me, I get the edgy, irritable, screaming type. (Who knew that mania could look like that?) Sadly, it took me a long time to get properly diagnosed, so I used to be quite the asshat. Thankfully, the meds do help me with the mania, and it’s no longer an issue. Back to depression.

It still catches up with me from time to time. And that sucks. There doesn’t seem to be a “right” amount of medication that makes me fine all of the time. (sigh) So, every once in a while, I get in a low patch that I can’t pull out of. But I know I’m there and I have perspective, so I don’t get in over my head. I just ride it until it lets up. Now, even more rarely, one sneaks up on me, and I’m in it without realizing I’m in it. And that, my friends, is when I go all kinda crazy.

I know that when we are depressed our thinking is distorted, but, boy, when I am truly in it, and I don’t have that perspective, I completely buy-in and I suffer. So do the people around me. In addition to being inconsolably negative, I feel empty and miserable and when the pain becomes acute, I reach out for someone to help. Which doesn’t always end well. Depends who’s on my radar. If it’s a bestie, and they’re available, it’s usually okay. If it’s someone familiar with me or depression, it’s hit or miss. If I get focused on anyone else, say my kids (who are not supposed to support me) or a man who is not expecting that level of needy; that gets ugly. I shudder just thinking about it. It’s hugely awful.

I wrote this the last time I had one of those ugly incidents. I was still in the acute pain stage, but I could finally see what was happening to me. This was my attempt to describe it. I called it Demons and Lies, and it’s also posted in here under Ramblings.

Pain. Fire.
Heart crushed in a vice.
Chest heavy, can’t breathe.
Empty, aching, needing. Pain.
Blistering pain.
Damn, it snuck up on me.
Tendrils creep into my brain and whisper lies.
Distort truth, alter reality.
Confuse me.
No one loves me. Alone.
Make me act out.
Set myself up.
Reach out.
Then suffer with the rejection.
Then, I really am alone.
No one wants me when I’m like this.
I am painful, needy.
Unworthy, broken.
Twisted, unlovable.
Brain hurts, heart hurts.
Empty chasm in my chest where my heart should be.
Black, dark, void, cavity.
I can fight it.
I can beat this thing.
I’m okay, I’m good. I deserve to be loved.
Someday, I’ll be worth it to someone.
But it always wins.
Demon, tendrils, whispering.
Torture me.
Hurt me.
Not fair.
It hurts. It hurts so badly.
My chest is crushed.
Huge weight on the empty place where the love should be.
Nothing helps.
I will always feel like this.
Eventually, it does pass, and I can breathe.
Until the next time…

In my day, it was a twat, snatch, coochie, muff, or beaver. Today, it’s more like pussy, cunt, vadge, hoo-ha, or vajayjay. Names for female genitals range from horrifically crude and approaching misogyny, to euphemisms so lovely, they are hardly recognizable. Whether you call yours a ‘fuck hole,’ the ‘quivering core of your femininity,’ or something in between, you’re talking about your vagina.

I’ve learned a lot about my vagina recently. It started a few years ago, when I discovered free digital romance novels. Boy did my cheeks blaze at first! (When I was first married about twenty years ago, I couldn’t even say the word ‘ass.’) Times had changed! Women referred to their pussies casually, talked about anal sex and BDSM as though they were perfectly normal. Gasp! After a few years, the shock factor wore off and I could read those words easily without batting an eyelash.

About a year ago, my marriage ended and very recently, I’ve been going online and chatting with people in instant messenger programs. I have the fake name; separate accounts for my real life friends and my cyber friends; the whole deal. I discovered something about myself. I like to dirty chat. And I’m good at it. (See, all of that reading was put to good use.) It’s fun to be a cyber tramp. I’m fun, absolutely filthy and have no shame.

(Funny aside: Although I can type words like cock, pussy, and fucking when I’m writing; I still can barely speak these words out loud. Sigh.)

So you know, if you do this, (the dirty cyber chatting) at some point a man will ask you to send naked pictures of your body or to see you masturbate on your webcam. Yeah… no. But I started to wonder what the fuss was all about. I took a picture of one boob and it looked kinda cute photographed from the right angle. Then I wondered what my, you know, um… quim looks like. I’ve never seen one. Never looked at mine, never looked at anyone else’s up close. Go figure. I’ve seen then in pictures, so I figured mine would look something like that.

It didn’t.

At all.

It’s not cute, small or pink. It doesn’t have lovely, compact dewy petals around it. And, I realized, it hadn’t been landscaped in a year, so it was quite overgrown. I was not impressed.

I’ve been assured by the “friends” who want the pictures that it doesn’t matter, that they are all different and they love to look at all of them. I know that some people prefer bare and some prefer bushy. There’s something for everyone, apparently. But, really, trust me, mine is not cute. Maybe those girls in the dirty pictures are 12? Have they all had labiaplasty? I just don’t know. Do some women genetically have more attractive vulvae? Okay, in all seriousness, and since I’m not an adult film star, it really doesn’t matter what it looks like, and it’s pretty telling that I had such a rigid expectation of what it should look like.

But, I digress.

The aesthetic qualities of my vulva notwithstanding, I’ve been thinking a lot about my vagina lately. I was sexually assaulted recently and the aftermath is that I feel pretty much as if I just gave birth. Again. It hurts like a sonofabitch, and it will take a few weeks to repair. So, as I write, leaning in my office chair to relieve the pain, I’m pondering the bearded clam.

Vaginas are amazing. They are the point of connection in sexual intercourse and the birth canal for brand new babies. They are indeed the core of a woman’s femininity. They give pleasure, they bring life, they stretch and accommodate, and they heal. For some, the labia, clitoris and vagina are dirty and embarrassing; and for others they are sources of boundless play and limitless pleasure.

You know what?

I don’t care what you call it. I don’t care what I call it anymore.

It’s what we individually and as a society think of them that matters. Pussies, cunts, pee pees and sissies. Vaginas make women both vulnerable and powerful, and that can be dangerous or enlightening.

Life is interesting.


In my forties, I am starting over somewhat, and reinventing myself. I’m trying to make this version a little bit closer to the truth.

That’s important to me. The truth.

I guess my new mission statement is to live truthfully and with equanimity.

e·qua·nim·i·ty / ēkwəˈnimitē /

Mental calmness, composure, and evenness of temper, esp. in a difficult situation.
composure – calmness – poise – serenity – self-possession

Sounds good, right?

This seems to sum up my present circumstances:

I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be.
-Douglas Adams