Desert

The sky is grey. It glows. The color is from dust and humidity capturing the light of the sun and scattering it. There is a glare to everything, and it seems to be monochrome. The air feels like an oven door was left open. But it’s humid, too. Some say that it feels like the inside of an armpit.

It can be 10 o’clock at night and the temperature may still be in the high eighties (Fahrenheit). The humidity here traps the heat, even overnight, not like in a real desert. When the sun is long gone, the clouds are purple, except for the ones closer to downtown, where they are orange.

I used to walk to school every day: throughout elementary, two years of middle school, and throughout high school. I recognize the change in season, and when the humidity/temperature combo is most like what one would find on Halloween or Easter. I am familiar with the buzzing of cicadas that I imagine would be intimidating to a tourist, and the grackles here hang out in impressive numbers to rival the film “Crows”. There’s a lot of things that I take for granted here because I was not designed to thrive in temperatures outside of the 50-70 range, much less over 100 degrees.

Just before the papers were served to us, the family was planning on moving to Ohio. Edward raved to me about what I called “real clouds” in Ohio, and about the farmland, how good the crops were, how pleasant the temperatures and the weather. He compared it to Oregon, which I was familiar with. During the jury trial, the petitioners made it a point to emphasize that I wanted to move. I don’t know if they were trying to point out to the bench that I was disloyal to this town, or something to that effect. They told the judge that there was a risk that we would take the Girls and run out of town with them. He scoffed.

This ineffective lawsuit has anchored us, however, and I’ve been forced to grow roots here. Fortunately, I have been able to make friends outside of the connections I previously had through my mother. There is a community that plays tabletop games, and this community has been as accepting of our odd family as the LGBTQ community. The businesses and our charity will be able to synergize. I’ve also befriended people from the “Poly” community, and people who knit and crochet. I’ve befriended writers. I finally have a careful selection of people that I am comfortable with and can be myself around.

The answer to many of my prayers has come in one response. How ridiculous it feels to say that it’s Pokémon. But here is my motivation to actually spend my hour of free time before my shift working on my physique. Here is the instant gratification and sense of accomplishment that checks depression. Here is a shared interest between Bailey and me, to help us understand each other and bond. Here is a sense of community like what my charity worked to instill in the world. I read through my Facebook feed and see people reaching out to others to help, sharing suggestions on how to make the world less dark and fulfill the roles of noble characters we grew to respect and admire.

I got started on it when my husband showed me the app he’d downloaded on the third day of it being out. “They even have certain types of Pokémon spawn in certain places. They decided we live in a desert.” There are five biomes in this state, and I happen to live in the desert.

I step out now into the desert and try to imagine that someday, when I will be able to travel for leisure, I will meet someone who envies me for my desert Pokémon, and I will show off to them the number of kilometers that I’ve walked in this fiendish heat. By the way, why does it measure distance by kilometers but describes Flareon’s body temperature as 1650 degrees Fahrenheit? Other things that I have to show for my ‘gaming’ is the return of my abs, which I’ve been missing since before my pregnancy two years ago, and my tan I’ve been without since I first acquired it in 2012. Playing this game has helped me to come to terms with being here. I can learn about the neat things that are around me, and learn about the layout of the landmarks I visit most and others in proximity. I can walk outside and not appear to be as suspicious as I would have before my peers decided they had to go outside and catch ‘em all. I have a reason to talk to a majority of my colleagues that I had no reason to talk to before. I might even be willing to claim this place as my hometown.

Update Overdue, 2

I’ve missed you so, dear reader!

I suppose I’ve been going through an unhealthy bout where I felt that I had nothing good enough to say. Only one thing has changed since I last wrote, and that is the commencement of the Girls’ visit home. It upsets me that they have to ‘visit’ home, and so I delayed putting it into words. I wonder if my behavior is cowardly, since I refuse to dwell on things that upset me, but it seems somewhat healthy as I can’t change them. I don’t know what I would do if I let myself actually react to what’s going on, so like in a dream I just roll with it. I don’t know if I’m communicating this clearly now, but I’ve actually been trying to really capture it in words for a few years.

I’m reminded by their visit that I’m not the parent I wish I could be, but I have seen improvement in myself. I credit that to having the opportunity to spend one on one time with Guinevere and help her grow. She’s taught me a lot about children in general, as only children can do.

Another thing that has changed is that I’ve actually considered talking to my mother again. Genuinely considered it. Almost sent a text in the middle of the night, except I was too tired to remember where I left my phone and too groggy to look for it, which told me it was a bad idea to make any communications with anyone with my mentality that fuzzy.

When day came, I went on a walk and considered how I would start communications again. I’ve wondered how I would address my sister, also. She hasn’t said much to me, before or after the trial, except a sappy poem. (Though having a baby has made me more emotional, it has not made me more sentimental.) Thinking about it, I drew a blank.

And of course when I think of my mother, I think of how she trusted Chris so much to confide in him about her suspicions of my relationship, and how he advised her to inform my father (who’s in jail after that event), and how he showed up to the trial. Though he didn’t testify, the attorney referenced things that I’d discussed with Chris and the times that I went out with him with the intention of maintaining a friendship with him. The things done or said with him were used as ammunition to drive my family apart.

So while I pondered this on my walk, I wondered if I should take advantage of being listened to while I had her attention and explaining to my mother where she went wrong and all the ways I’d been betrayed by her and Chris, to justify my mistrust in her that she may not be able to earn back, to explain to her how she was wrong and became the evil she wanted to protect me from. I imagined telling her that I forgave her for making me feel so inept when I was growing up, and the problems that it had caused me in my relationship and how I struggle as a parent because of it.

It angered me so much to think on this, I said to myself, “screw it. I’m clearly not ready yet.”

According to Corinthians 13:5, Love “does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” I still need to work on forgiving my mother before I try to talk to her, and before I can talk to her, I need to create boundaries. It should be easy for her to understand that I don’t want to be judged when I talk to her, as that is what her mother did on visits and why she stopped talking to her. To avoid her falling into that habit again, I refuse to discuss my finances or my possessions. I want to be able to talk about my family, but based off of where we left off, I don’t know how to reach that place. It was Ed’s idea that I create boundaries for when I reestablish communications with her (he supports me talking to her again, though he says himself that he understands why I wouldn’t want to). Bailey doesn’t understand my reluctance. “You just talk to her,” she advised. As bitter as I became just thinking about it, I feel like that is a careless way to start.

Dear reader, if you have any advice for me on this matter, I will honestly consider it. In the meantime, I am working on healing and cherishing the time that my Girls are here. Regularly we have no idea what we’re doing for holidays until the very last minute, in which case we do something spontaneous and memorable, so those are my ‘plans’ for the day. Happy holiday!

Progress and Peace

Without progress, stagnation births failure.

Might be a big jump, but though we are in a better place compared to where we were a century ago as a generation, there is still the shared feeling that we are not good enough yet. Happiness arises with the ability to see progress. Were we to accomplish what we feel makes the perfect society, there would be new desires to improve it further, stemming from our new perspective. It’s not perfection we strive for, but the feeling of accomplishment, which is what makes video games so satisfying with the instant feedback, for example.

These ideas have passed through my usual thoughts throughout the past few weeks that I’ve been silent on here. I have been working a monotonous job, so accustomed to the routine of it I received a raise for my excellent performance. Because of the demand the lawsuits have placed on our bank account, there’s no celebration, no change in routine. The way that court cases take a break in between every labored step also creates the feeling of stagnation. “How’s the court case going?” we’re asked, and just like most other court things, it just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere yet. The next step is like a hailstorm on a sunny day. It just appears out of nowhere and wreaks havoc on the peace you thought you had without you having known how to prepare. When that time comes, I might look back on this phase longingly.

As it is now, I’ve been battling depression. I usually avoid those words, because I know that I’m dealing with it very well and that others who use those words struggle to perform basic tasks. I am blessed, and I dedicate my attention to shifting the angle of my perspective. Rather than remind myself constantly that this feeling will be changed by a storm, I change it myself by doing tasks that make me feel like I am preparing. I knit for our Etsy store, telling myself that it will somehow contribute to the family, that it’s another means of income to help cover the court costs. I know better though. I’ve made one sale that probably only covered the cost of ‘shelf space’ in posting all the other products on the store. Eventually that realization trumped seedless hope, and I started knitting for myself so I could appreciate the time I spend. All the knitting is impacting the dexterity in my joints and my vision, so I became depressed about that method failing me.

I started to watch animes for the first time in years, craving plot and distraction. I started with Samurai Flamenco, which I had never heard of before. I don’t know that anyone would appreciate it as much as I did. It can be so off-the-wall, and completely change from episode to episode, but that humored me.

Immediately after I watched Aldnoah.Zero, which I had also never heard of. I described it to Edward, and his response was that it sounded hoaky. I probably enjoyed it so much because of the characters. The villain is utterly lovable, and was my favorite character before I found out he would be the villain. I wonder if I relate with him because I grew up feeling like I didn’t belong anywhere, but refused to let myself be overcome with bitterness, despite. I also liked that in the first few episodes, the characters’ performance in school became relevant to where they would be assigned during the war. One doesn’t actively go through school thinking that their grades are going to have such an influence on their future, despite what their told, so this was rewarding.

Why animes, anyway? They’re unrealistic about the capabilities of human beings and for some reason that makes me aspire to be my best. I don’t know how to explain the way that I make that connection, but watching Aldnoah.Zero, combined with some annoying health issues that arose recently, inspired me to get back in shape. Weird jump, I know.

I found a routine that will help me compensate for the sedentary job I have. I am embarrassed that such a light exercise is so taxing for me, but I am proud that my shame is not holding me back, and I have been keeping up with it every day since I discovered it and have seen improvement. (It has only been a week, so it is a big deal to me that I already notice my health and physique improving.) The most rewarding part of my routine is that I feel like I am making progress on improving myself. That and the endorphins released in physical exertion have greatly improved my overall mood. I have a tendency to get fixated and am a little addicted to exercising like I used to be, and that makes me happy.

There, I think you’re pretty much caught up. Thanks for sticking with me, reader.

Coffee for Two .02

Good morning! Bailey made coffee this time, and there’s chocolate flavored coffee creamer, with or without sugar. You’re right, that one is hot chocolate mix, so you can make your cup into a mocha if you would like.

How do you feel about Christian music? I feel like the majority of Christian music is like a Mardi-Gras cake. It’s the one with the plastic baby hidden inside if I have it straight, I think the proper name is a King’s Cake. It doesn’t taste good. I don’t know why it’s such a big deal, or why they haven’t changed the recipe. I think it’s only still around because of tradition and nostalgia. I feel the same way about Christian music.

Alice likes it, maybe because she grew up going to church regularly so it has a different meaning to her. I can find music that praises God without the bland flavor, like He is Legend or Flyleaf, and some Emery and Icon for Hire to move the world.

I’m making French toast, by the way, would you like some? I’m frying bananas in butter as a topping, I recommend it.

Let me play for you something from a band Edward introduced to me.

There it is- proof I’m not the only one. Did you catch the verse, “lean with it, rock with it/ when we gonna stop with it/ lyrics that mean nothing/ we were gifted with thought”? Okay maybe he was referring to what’s on the radio in general and not strictly the cheesy, monotonous, redundant music sung in church. What do you think, though?

Oh, try this lavender infused honey on the toast, it’s pretty amazing.

I like the skill of living according to one’s faith in a way that isn’t stifling and benefits even those who don’t share in that belief. I grew up repulsed by the stereotypical Christian life. I almost never went to church and didn’t know what to do when I was there, and the music was probably my least favorite part about the whole thing. Yet naively I listened to Evanescence and Flyleaf because they sounded good. I want to live a life like that, and I would like to write in such a way that I can showcase the good I believe in and not repulse those I reach out to.

I actually think that this idea is related to being polyamorous. I believe in living in love, and I think it is hypocritical to believe that God wants you to love everyone but you have to have a favorite person that you treat as greater than mortal, essentially worshiping them as above human and the source of your fulfillment. That is where I place the blame for the high divorce rate (which is isolated to monogamist relationships). Our culture has grown selfish, but I feel everything trying to balance out, a fissure growing. How can I miss it when I’m caught in it, becoming the change that put me here? Polyamory is growing in popularity (I hate that word, popularity,) but we have to do it right or it will become exactly what we are struggling to diminish.

I went too deep again, didn’t I? I hope you enjoyed the coffee.

Coffee for Two .01

Good morning! I hope you have a warm cup of coffee/tea to enjoy. Mine is the “classic” roast from my local grocery store, brewed in a French press, with a dash of half-and-half but no sweetener. L (my best friend) and I would spend hours at Starbucks and let our Frappuccinos (mine often, though not always, caramel, hers strawberry) melt while we talked. Between us our conversations would often shift to the Bible. We find it to be really interesting, especially with our modern perspective trying to understand the perspective of a person who’d never seen a glowing screen or even a penguin. Our perspectives differ from each other in that I used to practice witchcraft and she used to be Mormon, so she was exposed to it through the filter of her church and I was not exposed at all. I’m self-motivated to read the book myself and come to my own conclusions rather than have someone else create their own context. (Example I had someone say that the Bible condemned my lifestyle, when on the contrary it actually condones it. Nowhere in there did it say that woman cannot lie with woman like she lies with man, just that man cannot lie with man like he lies with woman, in the same book that tells you that you can’t wear blended fabrics. Shame on you for your polyester blend, ya heathen. But that’s okay, because New Commandment, y’all.)

Okay, fine, I’ll stop now. My point was supposed to be that L and I will usually talk about that topic over coffee but I wasn’t going to go there with you. (A little late now, I know.)

For Mother’s Day the Girls came home for the weekend. I was concerned about what that would look like because when I get home from work I will do laundry and dishes and dinner straight away and still have work unfinished. What was that going to look like with 4 more that don’t yet clean up after themselves?

I am relieved to tell you that it was much better than I anticipated. We didn’t have to have everything prepared for the obligatory, court appointed Skype call by 6pm, so that pressure was lifted. And it felt peaceful having all the girls home where they belong, so much that when I went back to work the next day it felt like I was coming back from a weekend break. I finally gave the girls the Pink and Purple Princess Gloves I’d made them. Only Geraldine was enthused, especially because it matched her entirely pink wardrobe.

Guinevere was at first wary of all these new faces in her home, like she is with all strangers, except this wariness melted very quickly, and she enjoyed having all these other girls to play with and enjoyed sharing her toys and drinks with them. Geraldine especially loved making her laugh.

I was doing dishes when behind me I turned to witness Grace squeezing Guinevere’s cheeks together so hard it knocked her on her bum. Guinevere cried and Geraldine was there immediately, kneeling swiftly on the floor behind her. “Oh, come here, baby!” and she YANKED Guinevere into her lap, who willingly curled like a kitten to be consoled, no longer crying. Our children have such kind hearts; it’s stunning.

I’ve wanted to do a #weekendcoffeeshare but limited myself to making the post on the weekend. My weekends are Sundays Mondays, so I need to stop placing this limit on myself or it won’t get done, as you can tell by the layer of dust in this place. I hope you had a great weekend, yourself.

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French Espresso

Coming out of the (Poly) Closet

Back when I was learning to knit, I took on a particularly ambitious project, and before I could figure out the difference from a knit and purl stitch I attempted to make a kimono with leftover yarn my mother gave me from a baby-blanket project she gave up crocheting. Sitting at the porch, my friend P asked if she could do a row. She made a comment on my tension when she’d passed it back, and the next time we went to the store she bought me more yarn for my project. DSC_0710

On my birthday she would send me Amazon gift cards to feed my love of books. After I visited her home in Germany in 2012, she mailed me “The Little Prince”, a beautiful story she was stunned wasn’t an obligatory read in America.
As I work out my mistakes in my cable stitching I remember us sitting at my mother’s porch talking about how little I understood knitting. As I mourn my broken Kindle and consider my upcoming birthday, I remember the sweet, funny notes in the cards she sent me. I remember being treated like an independent woman during my conversations with her when I visited, having grown up conversations with the woman who watched me grow up.

It was the following spring that my mother and I had a falling out. I moved out of my mother’s and in with students I met in college. My relationship with the three of them was in the closet. I tried to play off that I just found some like-minded friends that would let me crash with them while I achieve my own independence. A lousy lie, but I aimed to tell the truth as soon as I could, once the shock of Charlotte being her own person wore off. DSC_0672

P’s parents were friends with my father, and met him through the military when he was stationed in Germany. When my parents divorced, they maintained friendship with my mother.

My mother was so fearful of my relationship with Alice, Bailey, and Edward that she confided in a mutual friend of ours, Chris, who suggested that she tell my father, who in turn made a scene, showing up at my house and trying to force his way in, demanding to see my bedroom, declaring he worked for the government (as if that gave him some sort of authority that overruled the laws governing trespassing).

When I confronted my mother about giving him my address is when she asked if I was polygamous. Figuring it was the easiest explanation, and because I hadn’t yet learned the word ‘polyfidelitous’, I said yes. “Disgusting,” was her response.

P has crossed my mind many times since then, but I never had the courage to write her, assuming my mother beat me to it, assigning inaccurate adjectives to my private matters. It’s been four years since I saw her, and almost as long since I wrote to her. There’s no point in trying to save a friendship if that means not keeping it, and with this in mind I wrote her this week. I gave a quick summary of the important events that took place, emphasizing on the spring of 2013 when I started my life again, and finishing with why I stopped talking to my mother and that I had since gotten married and had a child. I did not villainize my mother, though I justified my reasoning for temporarily cutting ties with her. I apologized to P for not writing sooner. DSC_0671

I can be so confident about my relationship, except when I am explaining the concept to someone for their first time hearing anything like it. Especially a friend who I consider close. I have lost so many friends to this, friends I thought I could trust, who I thought were open-minded and trusted my judgement.
Her first email had expired. It took me a long time to scrounge up her second email. It took her only until the next day to respond. I’m still not sure what to make of her reaction, but her response was polite and informative. She said that she was surprised by all I told her. So my mother hadn’t contacted her, after all! She also said that she would respond later, and though I have no idea how she took the part about being poly, her response to my marrying a woman was that it was great and nobody’s business but mine. Being in writing and with there being a cultural and language barrier, I can only guess at her inflections and tone and wait for her email.

Yarnivore

Court cases are awful. Almost as uncomfortable as attending court is waiting to attend court. While waiting for the next step I try to boost morality with minor accomplishments to keep up my esteem. Lately I have been knitting up products for the Ladies’ Etsy shop, which lately is full of my products because I can whip stuff up relatively quickly, compared to Bailey’s products which are an investment in time and treasures. Just like writers don’t feel authorized to call themselves authors because they’re not published or famous, it can be hard to brag about a store that has made no sales, but it is a carefully maintained shop nonetheless, and so I will continue to pride in our little store.

In addition to stocking digital ‘display cases’ with arm warmers and such, I made a pair for each of the Girls for when they come home to visit.

 

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Vancouver Fog

 

In the meantime, I research patterns by making products for myself that I’m not afraid of frogging so I can learn the investment in certain patterns, which birthed my Mermaid Gloves I’ve been wanting for literally years. So far I think this will be the only pair I make in this pattern, but maybe I’ll swoon once it’s actually finished.

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Mermaid Gloves

 

I’ve made several pairs in Vancouver Fog because it’s a versatile pattern that works for many materials in a common weight, and I have memorized the pattern and haven’t tired of it quite yet.

I also adore the Traveling Cable Gloves, though because of the lighter weight they take longer to make compared to Vancouver Fog. They are more elaborate, and the yarn I have in sport weight is also higher quality, which makes up for the effort that goes into them and truly make them shine. I like this Swedish yarn that was purchased for me, made with a bamboo blend and in the color of classic bubble gum.

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Traveling Cable Hand Warmers

 

I’ve been very blessed in that I pray for quality yarn and then will have large quantities given to me, which would make other yarnivores jealous. I’ve also found a set of knitting needles and DPNs for Gary, since he had asked me to teach him. I have also saved some acrylic yarn for him so I can teach him how to make a cable scarf or Seamus.