Christine, Wondering

Random Musings of a Human Becoming

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Bisexuality, Again...

Usual disclaimer: this is about sex, sexuality and the philosophies thereof. It may contain details. Do not read if you're squeamish about any of the above.

About 11 days ago, when the events began to kick off that led to me becoming involved with my darling girl E, I had a moment of sheer panic. What if all those bitchy naysayers about bisexuality had been right? What if I was just looking for attention or trying to be special? What if I found myself in an intimate situation with a girl and realised that I was in fact not really attracted to women that way at all? I believed I was bisexual and had gone as far as kissing and that felt fine, but for a moment I wondered whether it really was all in my head.

Thankfully the panic was over quickly and turned out to be entirely unfounded. Not only was it great, but it was far, far better than anything I'd ever experienced with a man. That is not to insult the men I've had relationships with - well, not to insult the few of them who actually had decent skills - but being with a girl felt right in a way that heterosexual relations have never done for me.

While potentially triggering another round of 'what is my sexuality, exactly?', this also opened my eyes to the very real difference between heterosexuality / homosexuality and bisexuality. I simply cannot imagine only being attracted to a single sex. I may have spent 20 years of my life being unknowingly bisexual and another 10 largely pretending I wasn't, but it was there in my mind... there to the core. To me the 'either or' mindset is so familiar, natural and comfortable. I had a stark moment of realisation that most people are genuinely only interested in one gender, one way or another. It struck me just how weird that was to me, and equally just how weird bisexuality must seem to those who don't experience it.

The long-awaited confirmation that this really truly is who I am forced me to confront the fact that this is something that most people are not. A very strange moment. A defining moment of identity that was really very meaningful and special, and I don't want it to be eclipsed by the general squeeing over-excitement that currently fills my days.

I am bisexual. Naturally, fundamentally, from birth to death, to the core. This is part of who I am.


And I am proud that I am finally whole.


Welcome to Christine :)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

So happy right now :)

I know, I'm still in the 'SQUEE' phase and probably shouldn't be blogging at all as I'm entirely incapable of being sensible.

But, I am so damn happy I can't help sharing it.

My life has done that thing it does sometimes, where suddenly everything is falling into place and is just exactly right.

I feel like I'm hugging and being hugged by the whole world, all the time. And particularly by her :)

Squee!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The big three-oh...

Yesterday was my 30th birthday!

I am still kind of reeling at how awesome a day it was. I started out with a long lie-in. As soon as I woke up, good things started to happen. I discovered that 6 incredibly awesome friends had chipped in together to pay for my flights to go and see my best friend H when she's in Vienna over New Years - an incredible surprise as I thought I wasn't going to be able to afford to go! Totally overwhelming :) Then I went up to the parcel office and found that the package waiting for me was not a book I ordered but actually a huge parcel from my family in Perth with gifts and a DVD and other things of win enclosed in it, including the awesome pendant that is my 30th birthday present from Mum - an opal given to me by my grandmother set in white gold. So stunning!

London turned on the warmest December day so far for me, and my wonderful friends A and G showered me with affection and took me out for dinner and cocktails with two of their closest friends, S and E. I'm still not quite sure how it happened but E and I (meeting for the second time) hit it off amazingly and by the middle of today we were thoroughly established as a couple. I HAVE A GIRLFRIEND, folks!

I am a very happy, bewildered and over-excited 30 year old, proud to be 30, proud to have a girlfriend, so very lucky in my friends and loved ones and lifestyle. It feels glorious.

I think I only had a bare hour or two of sleep last night, so I'm thinking crashing out soon so I can work in the morning would be a very good idea.

What a birthday!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekend Away

This past weekend I went to Newmarket, near Cambridge, for the local SCA shire's Yule Ball. I had a great time and was able to wear my brand-new cotehardie, which I've been working on, on and off, since July. It turned out very well and was widely admired. I also managed to spill wine on it, but it wouldn't be me if I didn't. ;) It'll come clean!

The weekend also marked a milestone for me, in that I drove using my newly-minted British licence for the first time, all the way from London to Newmarket and back, in a big hire car, with 4-5 passengers and loads of baggage, over icy streets in parts no less! I was very nervous beforehand, and when we set off from my friends' house for the long evening journey to Newmarket my legs were shaking! But all went well, and I feel moderately confident about driving in London now. Not something I want to do every day, but if it has to be done, I can do it.

I'm the only driver of that group of people, and I have no doubt that I will be doing it again, as we as a group have formed an SCA household. It's been coming for a while, but we had an impromptu meeting in the car on the way home and got our name, charge, badge and motto established and talked a bit about what we want to do as a household. It's a true household of kindred spirits - some are actual kin, others just spiritual kindred. The level of closeness is amazing, and it spins me around that I'm part of it. I have several other friends that close in Australia, people I am completely comfortable and open with, but for sheer amount of time spent together I don't think I have ever been as close to anyone as I am to the couple who are the core of the household. The experience of complete loving-friendship-trust-openness is heady and wondrous. I've craved that kind of connection for a long time, and now that I have it I can't quite believe it. It takes my breath away.

And yet, as always it seems with me, the awareness of that connection leaves me wistful about an even deeper connection that I lack. I have a safer, more complete connection with these friends than I've had in any actual relationship I've been in. In fact these friendships characterise everything my 'love' relationships have not been. My whole dating history is characterised by sad, sour, unsafe, angry, dramatic, unloving, denigrating and ultimately short relationships. (The only former partner with whom I had a good, healthy connection is 14,500km away and may never live in the same city as me again, so although I think the potential for this kind of connection is there, I can't count on it ever being a regular part of my life.) With that one exception, I have never been able to relax and love and trust anyone like I love and trust these friends, and being in their presence, as much as I love it, reminds me of what I've never had.

And it hurts.

I want so badly to find my way to that deeper level of connection. There must be more wonderful, self-loving, accepting, dear, true people in the world! In London, even! But I don't know how to find them, and the odds of them being both free and interested in me seem so minuscule.

I'm still so full of doubt about myself, my identity and where I fit in the world. Finding one place that I fit, one set of hearts with whom I click, throws into stark contrast the emotional chaos surrounding the rest of my life.

Argh, I don't know... I want to just be happy about what I've got but the ache won't go away.

*sigh*

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Impatient & Lonely

I have been in a bit of a mood the last couple of days. There's a good (biological) reason for that, although of course I only figured that out after the teary meltdown!

Through all these little mood swings I've been in the grip of an overwhelming sense of loneliness. I realised that, for the first time since coming to the UK, I'm actually getting significant uninterrupted swathes of me-time. When I was first here the share house was a novelty and I had nice girls to talk to, and then I was with my ex and had to be constantly alert and sensitive to his moods. I couldn't listen to my own music or just zone out or work on something pointless and ridiculous for hours. I've loved having that back this week - I'm starting to feel like myself again - but at the same time, there's a loss there. Fuelled by the fact that there is someone from Perth whom I'm missing like crazy (he knows who he is), I'm flailing around just wanting someone to cuddle up to. It's a very physical sort of loneliness, craving contact that no much internet chatting, no matter how affectionate, can quite replace.

And at the same time, I'm almost afraid of finding someone. The ease with which I slipped into yet another dysfunctional relationship scares the pants off me. I absolutely do not want another relationship like that. And in a more general way I'm scared that I'll just find myself back in another monogamous, vanilla, dull relationship like all the others I've had. I've spend my entire adult life hiding what actually interests me because I was afraid (... of everything...). Sometimes I feel like I'll go nuts if I can't start exploring all of that side of myself, right this moment. I want to find people with whom I feel safe sharing the real me and who will understand and I want them now damn it.

But I'm not ready right now... the ongoing mental arguments with the ex are proof of that, although they're easing. I want all this and I want to be ready for it now, and it's incredibly frustrating that I'm not.

And there's no solution but time. I'm doing everything else I can, I just have to wait. Meh.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Processing

I am going to write this and subsequent posts on the assumption that the ex has sensibly deleted the bookmark and is no longer reading this blog, as I have done for his. He deleted and blocked me on facebook, so I think it's safe to say that this blog is an ex-free zone and I can speak my mind freely. If I'm wrong, well... he's reading this and knowing that a) I don't want him here, and b) anything he reads from this point on is at his own risk. So.

I moved out on Saturday, finally. It was very nasty, in the end. On Thursday we were having a great time. He was saying he was still attracted to me, and was so glad we'd stayed friends. He was telling me what he was getting me for Christmas and gave my sore shoulders a massage. And I thought: yeah. A truly amicable breakup. How nice.

On Saturday he was in a foul mood, called me an ungrateful little shit, accused me of a number of things he'd invented in his own head, and forced me to move out a day early with wet clothes and hot soup in tow. It was ugly and horrid and I ended up calling friends in tears - wonderful true real friends who came running and soothed me and looked after me until I was laughing again. The next day, at some point, I found he'd deleted and blocked me. The same man who'd begged me to stay friends when we broke up.

*sigh*

But honestly, in a way I'm glad. This kind of come-here-go-away, I-love-you-I-hate-you crap was the theme throughout our relationship. When he was in a good mood it was wonderful. When he was in a bad mood there was nothing I could do right, and his complete lack of trust coupled with an inability to understand that he could be wrong made getting through to him a nightmare. Everything I said was twisted against me, even as I was accused of doing the same to him. Every attempt at reasoning was met with wild histrionics. It was impossible. Seeing that again one last time at least takes away any need to be friends, and any possibility of nostalgic backsliding. I am so totally uninterested in ever going there again.

I had truly hoped that we could be friends, as we do share some fun interests. But at the end of the day, I have a wonderful set of friends who are also safe, stable, excellent people. I don't want or need friends who act in such an ugly and unloving way. Anyone who swings between those extremes has problems... and is not my problem.

Naturally I've been processing all this madly over the past two days. My brain won't be still. I'm constantly trying to rationalise and reason and find a way to explain things that, at least in my head, might actually get through to him. I know this is a phase and it'll go away as I get through the natural grieving process, but it's making me a bit batty. I don't want to argue with him one second longer. I've had enough.

This evening I suddenly remembered that I'm not obliged to make sense of him any more. His mood swings, his inventions, his OCDs, his deliberate non-listening followed by accusations of having never been told... none of it matters, and none of it is my problem. His twisted logic can't hurt me any more, so when I remember bits of it I don't have to sort through it for some kind of pattern or sense. I can shrug my shoulders, roll my eyes, say "rubbish!" and move on. Hurrah.

Life is picking up and moving forward, and I am already so much happier than I could ever have been in that relationship. I can see my future life taking shape in a glorious way, full of love and security and hearts and people and community and place and kin and home. It looks good :)

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Getting My Nerve Back

Back in 2004-05 I wrote a good 20,000 words of a fantasy story that had been kicking around in my head since I was 16. It was going pretty well (for my skills at the time) until I realised that there was a fatal flaw in my characterisation of the 9 main characters, and the whole thing fell apart.

After that I lost my nerve for writing. It was the longest thing I'd ever written, though I'd crossed the 10,000 word mark several times as a verbose teenager, and abandoning it seemed to switch off the flow of words in my head. I still wanted to write, and still dabbled in plotting stories constantly, but I couldn't build plots that made me happy, and I couldn't get the words out. I took several long breaks from any sort of writing, set myself targets, joined NaNoWriMo repeatedly, but nothing broke through.

Tomorrow night is Halloween, Samhain, the eve of the Celtic & Pagan new year. And I have made a commitment to myself that it will be the beginning of a new writing life for me. I'm letting go of the fear that I can't write well enough any more. In its place I am welcoming the knowledge that however imperfect and awkward my first attempts are, I can and will write, and I will continue until develop and grow until I am the writer I know I can be.

Serendipitously, it is also the eve of National Novel Writing Month, and thus begins my first writing project of my new writing life. I am working on the latest, greatest iteration of that original story, and I intend to see it through this time. I'm spending this weekend getting ready, doing my planning and preparation, so that all is in readiness. 50,000 words, here I come. Nothing can stop me this time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Labels

I have had a stinker of a cold for the past two weeks - the sort that starts with a sore throat and then disappears, leaving you thinking that you've beaten it, only to come back with a sore throat followed by the sneezles followed by a cough followed by being an icky mucus monster (my current point in the proceedings, yay). The joys of working with small children, I guess: they catch everything and pass it all on to their hapless teachers.

The blissed-out realisations of my last post morphed into a blinking confusion and turmoil over the past week, and that too has now settled. It concerns sexuality yet again, so stop reading here if you're sick of hearing about it ;)

I've always believed that sexuality is not static, and that people can move up and down the spectrum throughout their lives. This may be partly due to social pressures and conformity having kept them from finding themselves or coming out (witness the number of middle-aged women who 'become' lesbians after ending marriages they entered into in their late teens or early 20s) but I believe it's also true of people who are very sure of themselves. At different times, we may expand or narrow the range of people we find attractive.

In the past couple of weeks I've become aware of a very definite shift in myself, towards the lesbian end of the scale.

This is not to say that I'm not still able to be attracted to men, nor that I would say 'never' to being with a man again (and indeed there are one or two from my past who I think I would never say no to, provided we were both single!). But when I think about long-term relationships and marriage and kids and all that, I feel vaguely panicked when there's a hypothetical man in the picture, whereas when I put a hypothetical woman in the picture, I feel both relaxed and elated.

I used to dream about this from time to time before I was out, but of course back in Australia marriage to a woman was impossible and arranging to have a family with one was fiendishly difficult, whereas here in the UK both are so mainstream that they barely rate an eyebrow flicker in anyone. That's a dream I can live over here.

I went into a bit of an identification flap this week, not sure whether I was really bisexual, or was actually a lesbian who had gone through bisexuality on her way out of the closet. After going round and round a million times in my head and seeking advice from a forum of friendly bi & les women, I've found that the only sensible answer is "I'm me, doing what I do, whatever that is".

So I'm not going to start slapping new labels on myself tonight, but I am going to be true to how I'm feeling right now, and that's all about looking to a future where I have a girlfriend, and maybe one day a wife.

You have no idea how good it sounds to say that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Realisations

I've noticed a big shift in my thought processes this week. A few things have become very clear, and I've been feeling very comfortable and satisfied with the new information.

I'm not quite ready to share what's in my thoughts, but suffice to say that I'm feeling refreshed and energised and free. I'm starting to feel the shape of things to come, and I love it.

:)

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Doing What You Know

When it was over, there was relief. Not just because the drama had stopped, but because I knew what to do next.

I know how to grieve.

I know the steps, I know the feelings, I know the score (literally, I still have all my GPYP playlists). I looked down the tunnel of that process with a feeling of familiarity and comfort, and the knowledge that I knew how to handle it.

Grieving the breakup was the easy part. The hard part was making the break in the first place.

And I've realised that there's a pattern there. In four of my last five relationships I hung on for months after I knew it wasn't going to work out. In each case, it took a single defining moment to call it quits. In this case, it was a moment where I was no longer angry but just utterly fed up and tired, and so was he. Before that - and before the defining moments in the other relationships - I just couldn't bring myself to step up and break it off. And I don't know why.

After all I've learned, why do I still commit completely to things before I know if they're viable, and then cling so tenaciously when it turns out that they're not?

I wasn't looking for a relationship when I came over here ... in fact I was intending to be a free spirit and perhaps have a few casual partners, much like my life in the last couple of months before I left Perth. And yet I dived back into an absolutely classic dysfunctional Christine relationship the moment one became available.

I've learned better and I was looking for something else, and yet I still grabbed it when it came along.

Clearly I still have a lot of work to do.

Friday, October 1, 2010

And sometimes things end.

It's bewildering that one can live, ignoring the bad stuff and highlighting the good stuff, while the fun dwindles and the fights increase, until one day, with barely a sputtering spark, the whole thing is just over and done with.

It's odd that once it's out there in black and white, the pressure is off and respect can return.

It's amazing that you can cry, grief rising up from the bottom of your heart, while feeling relief so intense it's almost joy.

It's strange that you can miss someone when they're right there next to you.

It's breathtaking to find out how many friends you have and how much they care.

It's marvellous to feel free and alive again.

It's surreal to learn that hugs are inside you.

It's a blessing to know oneself.

Here's to adventure.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Little Details

Right now, SK and I are sitting side-by-side at our computers. Neither of us is feeling very well so we're both in slouchy at-home clothes. He's playing WoW and I'm fidgeting with some writing details. It's a rainy Sunday afternoon and we're sipping hot jasmine tea from little Chinese teacups.

Life is good :)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Four Years

I was answering a message board post just now, and looked up the date of my first blog post. Weirdly enough, it was today, four years ago. Bizarre!

I absolutely boggle when I think of how much  has happened in the last four years. In September 2006 I was working as a project assistant in the gap year between quitting archaeology and starting my teaching degree. I was sharing a house with a best friend who is no longer my friend at all. I was still living through the three year recovery from my first genuinely abusive relationship, and had no idea that a line-up of three quite awful relationships were on the menu for the following three years.

Three years ago I'd finished my final teaching prac and was struggling with the resultant feeling that I couldn't teach at all. I was living with my parents and wondering what the future held and where I would go next. I was also experiencing high school reunions for the first time.

Two years ago I was just days away from ending a disaster relationship, and had no idea that the grief that was still to come would plunge me into the incredible journey of self-discovery that has lead me to where I am now. The me of September 2008 had so much still to come.

This time last year I was again on the road to recovery after another horror relationship and my first (and hopefully last) experience of physical assault. I was still stumbling around in a daze in many ways, but had also made significant progress, and had taken the wild and life-changing step of joining the SCA, a decision that has shaped my life ever since.

Four dramatic, turbulent, soul-searing, growing, knowing years.

I wonder what the next four will hold?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Old and New

When I created this blog, I set my old one, "Christine's Insanity Outlet", to private. It had become too traceable and there was a lot of very heavy analysis on there, particularly about my family who, as the internet became more and more transparent, were likely to find it and might be upset by it.

However, lately I've been feeling more and more like there were things on that blog that I wished were still public (my yeast & sugar science experiment, for one!). I also felt sad that more than 3 years of my recorded history had been locked away.

So, today I spent several hours going through and painstakingly editing a duplicate of the old blog before importing the remainder (some 420 posts) into this one. I've removed things that reference family history too strongly, and also most of the posts about exes, apart from some of the most critical phases of analysis that led to my own healing. Additionally I've edited names here and there to make sure certain people don't google their way here.

So if it looks like the blog has suddenly become enormous overnight and the tags have multiplied, you're not going crazy ;) That's exactly what's happened!

Feel free to browse the newly added old posts - there's now 4 years of content on this blog, so it should keep you occupied for a while!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Abandonment

When you’re wrapped up in a lifelong depressive dysfunctional mess, it’s very hard to focus on any particular problem. There’s so much swirling crazy noise that you can’t hear yourself think.

As you work through grief and start to heal, some of the noise subsides, and you can hear other parts of it more clearly.

Lately, I've found that the noise of inadequacy and inferiority has settled to a low hum, allowing me to hear less pressing issues more clearly. And the one that’s shouting the loudest is abandonment.

I’ve been reluctant to call anything in my life experience “abandonment” until now – that good old feeling of inferiority tells me that my problems are not bad enough to warrant attention – but the fact is that my reactions scream “abandonment issues”, so regardless of whether I deserve them, I've got them.

I don’t know exactly what in my past has caused me to freak out when I think someone is physically or emotionally deserting me. There are some strong candidates: my mother going back to work when I was 4; mother’s decision to leave the marriage when I was 13; my father’s crazy-cakes behaviour with his first post-marriage girlfriend the same year; my whole family’s tendency to emotionally ‘check out’ and withdraw love during conflict. I suspect it’s all of these things together.

The only time I remember having an abandonment-specific reaction is during my father’s tumultuous relationship, when he did literally abandon my brother and I by disappearing to go and see the girlfriend in the middle of the night, and ultimately by handing custody of us over to my mother because he couldn’t cope with both the girlfriend and us. That abandonment stung, and I still get upset thinking of one night when I had the ‘flu and woke up vomiting and alone because my father had gone off again. However, although that had a powerful effect on me, the way I react to perceived abandonment now bears more resemblance to how I react to my mother’s withdrawal tactics during arguments.

The way I want to react to perceived abandonment is pretty flaily and crazy-making. If I feel like someone has pulled away from me, or is shutting me out, or has gone non-responsive, I feel panicky. I want to get their attention and reassurance as fast as possible. I want to talk to them, message them, email them, hound them to get reassurance that they’re not abandoning me. If it goes on too long I start to get angry… I want to provoke them, annoy them, get them to argue with me: anything to get them to notice me. If it becomes too emotionally charged I start to want to do dramatic things. I have never self-harmed but I’ve fantasized about it, or wished I could be severely injured or sick so that people would “be sorry”. These thoughts were rife in my teenage years (I think that’s not uncommon) but I still occasionally find them cropping up when I feel abandoned.

As you can see, the whole thing is a pretty crazy reaction that can lead to a sharp downwards spiral.

I’ve become very conscious and critical of these abandonment reactions lately. I don’t want to be someone who drives friends and loved ones crazy with constant pestering for reassurance. I know I’ve pestered people in the past. I also know that some people (probably unconsciously) have used my need for reassurance to deliberately keep me off-balance or to ‘punish’ me. Both of those are good reasons to get the reactions sorted out.

I can control the reaction – several times lately I’ve had to sit on my hands and not flail to deal with a person’s apparent (or in a couple of cases, actual) withdrawal. I’m proud that I haven’t gone off the deep end on any of these occasions, and have only outwardly reacted by mentioning one or two of these events on this blog. But inside – there’s a weepy, flaily abandonment-fearing crazyperson wanting to get out. There have been tears when no one is looking, and a lot of hand-sitting and attempts at self-soothing to stop myself from going nuts.

That’s what I’d like to try to do next – get those internal reactions under control. To feel okay about people pulling away, and accept the comings and goings (whether actual or imagined) calmly without feeling like my world will fall apart if I can’t get a person to acknowledge me right away. I’m not quite sure where to start, but it’s something I’ll be doing a lot of thinking about over the next few weeks.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hmm

In the blog post about bisexuality I revealed something I'd kept secret for a long time: my former attraction to my former best-friend-since-high-school. I noticed today that the girl in question has de-friended me on facebook sometime in the past week or so - I can't quite remember the last time I saw a post of hers, but it wouldn't have been very long ago.

I didn't mention her by name, but if she'd read my blog post she would have been able to identify herself. I was operating on the assumption that she wouldn't read it, because she's gone out of her way to demonstrate how much she doesn't give a damn about me (this has been her attitude for many years, even before our friendship officially blew up). But perhaps she is reading, and did see, and that's why she de-friended me. *shrug*

I'm trying hard not to care. It is triggering my abandonment issues like crazy, and there's some unresolved grief there too, both for the friendship and for the unrequited attraction. I spent years and years hanging around, hoping she would be as into the friendship as I was, not daring even for a minute to admit that what I felt for her was more than friendship. She was often a lousy friend and sometimes treated me as badly as many of my boyfriends, and it hurt all the more because I secretly loved her. A pretty dysfunctional fourteen-year mess!

So I'm a bit hurt and a bit sad, but grateful for the loving people I have around me, and glad that I'm confident and happy enough that I can work through the loss and let everything about that friendship go. My life is here and now, and it's wonderful... and she is not in it. There it ends.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Running

SK is keen on a number of sports. He runs long distance, he cycles long distance, he fences. When I moved in with him, he suggested that I take up running too. Then he cajoled, encouraged, sponsored and arse-kicked until I did start running :D

When I started, about 6 weeks ago, I could just about run for a minute, if I then walked for a minute. And I could keep that up for about half an hour.

Today, I ran 5.5km over 55 minutes without once dropping to a walk.

SERIOUSLY WOW.

I'm astonished and elated. I didn't think I was capable of running at all, let alone learning to maintain a running pace over 5km. And to have got here in only a couple of months ... it's beyond my imagining. I'm proud and amazed and inspired.

In two weeks' time I'm doing my first fun-run. It's a 5km run - and whoa, I know I can already do it! - raising money for Trees for Cities, a group who work towards getting greenery into highly urbanised areas. I'll take support in the form of encouraging words, of course, but if anyone feels like adding a bit of financial support, it'd be greatly appreciated.

If I can run 5km, as chubby and unfit as I am, I can do ANYTHING. Seriously.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Being Bi

A couple of weeks ago, in the throes of election angst, I got into a spat with an acquaintance about whether sexuality is a choice or a predetermined part of one's nature. The context was a meme that was going around that highlights the absurdity of anti-gay marriage sentiments, and in the course of the argument she tried to tell me that my parents' unhappy marriage is the reason why I have chosen bisexuality as an adult.

Surprisingly, for me, I didn't blow my stack and rain down eloquent fire upon her head; just calmly pointed out the fallacies in her assumptions. But it's got me thinking a lot about my experience of growing up bisexual.

I was a very sheltered child, and had very little access to (or interest in) popular culture. I didn't listen to the radio; my TV intake was carefully monitored and approved; my mother read no magazines; and while our house was full of books, those that were not children's books were limited to sci fi, fantasy and old-school whodunnits. In a pre-internet world I simply had no access to anything beyond a vanilla, heteronormative world-view.

Around the ages of 5-7, kids go through a first stage of having "boyfriends" and "girlfriends" as they begin to mimic adult relationships. I had a "boyfriend" during this phase, because I was a girl. But I can also distinctly remember becoming emotionally attached to female friends. If they had been boys, these attachments would have been crushes.

Boy-girl relations broke off for a while after that, as my year group passed through the "boy / girl germs" stage. Around age 10 they picked up again and began to look like real relationships on the upswing towards puberty. Here, again, I knew when I was crushing on a particular boy, but couldn't explain the way I became attached to other girls. There was no sexual or particularly physical element at this age (no more than there was with the boys!), just an overwhelming desire for closeness. I would become enamoured of the way a particular girl looked, spoke, moved, thought; and I'd want to hold on to that somehow.

Sometime around this age I learned about homosexuality. One of my aunts was openly lesbian and my family were accepting of the fact. I was never given any negative or judgemental attitudes about homosexuality, and certainly never remember being bothered by it. I knew I was attracted to boys, so I never considered applying the label to myself.

As I progressed through my (still extremely sheltered) high school years, the boy-crushes and girl-crushes continued apace. I was very shy, anxious and socially inept, and often longed to get close to female friends but had no idea how to manage it. I was occasionally accused of being a lesbian, partly because I didn't have the social skills to attract boys and thus didn't date; and partly because I would often blush and stutter when talking to girls whom, had I known it, I found attractive.

It wasn't until I finally hit university that I learned about bisexuality. Between the liberal-minded university environment, access to my own TV and the advent of the internet, I became aware of the fact that people could 'swing both ways'. Unfortunately, I was also exposed to someone - I don't remember who, or where, or why - opining that girls who came out as bi were just looking for attention. How I wish I'd never heard that!

I can quite clearly remember the moment when I realised that the label 'bisexual' was mine. I was 19. It was the day after I'd had an explicit dream about my then-best-friend, who I had been close to since high school; and it was around the same time as I'd had an overwhelming urge to work a lesbian character into a book I was writing, and write a sex scene for her. I was lying there in bed puzzling over these two facts, when it hit me.

OH. 


DUH.


"I'm bisexual".

Unfortunately for the me of the next 10 years, I decided right away that no-one could ever know. Firstly, I thought I'd be accused of attention-seeking and drama (I felt the same way about asking for help with persistent depression; keeping my head down and my mouth shut was a common theme for me). Secondly, I wanted A Husband And Kids, and I "knew" that allowing myself to become involved with a girl would mean giving those things up for ever.

So I buried the knowledge deep. The crushes didn't go away, but now I actively pretended that they were just "intense friendships". I remember one class in third year in which I had two crushes - "Jolly Tammy" and "Dainty Diana", I called them - and wondering how I could change the chatty in-class friendships into something stronger and closer. I couldn't accept or acknowledge my desire to be with girls, but I couldn't stop the feelings.

This was the status quo throughout my 20s. Crushes, male and female, came and went. I had a few relationships with men (mostly unsatisfying and/or unpleasant), and a few long stretches without. I considered listing myself as bisexual on dating sites; I occasionally described myself as "bi-curious", "slightly more towards the bi end of the scale" or "bi but not actively so" to people I only knew on the internet. But I was far, far too scared of the consequences to ever own up to it in my real life. Or so I thought.

Late last year I made a new friend, who shares many of my opinions and values, and whom I respect a great deal. And she announced her bisexuality on her blog. This began a watershed for me. Another friend whom I'd met at the same time was a young woman I found intoxicating. I really, really wanted to be with her. I had not enquired about her sexuality, and she had a boyfriend besides. But between those two elements, something snapped. It took several months to work up the courage, but I came out. First to the friend who is also bi, secondly to my brother, then here on my blog, and then slowly to friends and family as it became relevant or necessary.

(It's not entirely relevant to the story, but... the intoxicating young lady read my blog, and it turned out that she is bi too [and thought I knew!] and a week after I came out I spent an evening kissing her... it was a brief interlude as I left for London at the end of that week, but it still sparkles in my mind as one of the most breathtaking experiences of my life).

Of everyone I've told about my bisexuality, only one person has had an "aha, I thought so!" reaction. He too is bi, and had picked up, to my delight, the blushing-at-girls thing. I spent so many years disclaiming that as "I just blush when I laugh!" and it was funny and wonderful to find that someone had pegged its true cause.

So here I am, a lifelong bisexual woman who is finally comfortable in her own skin. I've got friends who are fine with my sexuality (having shed those who are not), I have a boyfriend who is also bisexual, and I've got enough confidence to know that my family can like it or lump it and I'll be fine (so far they've been fine or neutral, thank goodness).

When it comes to the question of sexuality being a choice... no. If a sheltered 5-year-old can unknowingly identify as bisexual, then any adult who claims it's a lifestyle decision can go jump in a lake, with my compliments. It's not. It never has been, and it never will be.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Oh yeah, I have a blog...

Well, that was a bit of a hiatus. Sorry about that. Life's been ticking along at a rapid pace, and has been distinctly lacking in long, quiet, blogging-suitable alone times. Which is a good thing, in a way, but also means I have been keeping everyone waiting for an update!

I managed to finish the term without going insane, but I am still very much feeling that I don't want to be back in a mainstream classroom. Supply is fine, but the whole-deal classroom teaching thing just isn't doing it for me any more. I've found a couple of really neat museum education jobs to apply for, so the plan is for me to get a reasonable junk job / work supply and keep on sending in applications to kinds the jobs I want, until I get one. So I've been doing a lot of applying for jobs, and a lot of pounding the pavement handing CVs to any shops or caf├ęs willing to take them. It's frustrating, and means I haven't really had a holiday, but it's all for the bigger picture so I don't mind too much. What makes it even nicer is that it's *our* bigger picture, something SK and I have agreed upon together.

I spent most of the first two weeks of the summer frantically making SK a full set of Viking garb ahead of Ffair Rhaglen VI, our first SCA event together and SK's first SCA event of any sort. It's an incredible camping event, held amongst the ruins of a medieval castle in Wales. During the day the public were allowed in, but we didn't demo, exactly - rather we just went about our merry business as if they weren't there (apart from chatting to interested-looking ones - recruitment is a good thing!). Several times I had a funny feeling of dislocation as if they were the ghosts from another time and we were the reality. Total immersion events are awesome! In the evenings we had the place to ourselves. On the Saturday night there was a masked ball, where we danced bransles by flaming torchlight in the courtyard of the castle, to live music using medieval instruments... it was amazing. And on the Sunday night, under clear cold skies, we had bardic circles and some impromptu dancing (yay for spontaneous Goddesses), while the leading edge of the Perseids meteor shower lit up the sky with sporadic falling stars. That is a night I will never, ever forget - it was truly breathtaking.

SK barely stopped grinning his face off the entire weekend, and also won some lifelong allies by wading through the castle's moat and battling through thick brambles to rescue a hat that had blown off the head of a lord while he stood chatting to some mundanes. The hat had on it site tokens and award tokens going back years, and the lord was devastated to have lost it, so SK was roundly applauded for his gallantry. He's a good 'un ;)

We made some new friends and I reunited with some friends from the Winchester Pilgrimage, and I'm once again amazed at the way the SCA brings me into contact with kindred spirits. Sometimes I just want to stand around going "SQUEE FRIENDS!!!!!" and jumping up and down :D

Some pics from Raglan Castle:

 Fighting in the courtyard

This was really very close to us, and apparently worried some people on top of the castle's tower! 

 Yes I know it's not really a TARDIS, but...

Various views of SCA period tents and the castle itself:







My other big adventure for that weekend was that, halfway to Wales, SK decided that his legs were tired, and therefore I was driving. o_O It was my first experience of driving in the UK. Luckily his car is small, the road layout is similar, and we were mostly on the motorways. It was a little nerve-wracking and some laws are different (you can change lanes in roundabouts! You can change lanes without indicating!) but SK is a good teacher and I did fine. Driving over the Severn Bridge was a big thrill. The whole thing was a grand experience.

My biggest bit of news at the moment is that, resulting from some conversations at Ffair Rhaglen, I am now the chatelaine of Thamesreach. It's my first SCA office and I'm both excited and intimidated over it! I'm also putting together a costing / bid for my first run at autocrating an event (a winter feast, probably in February). I feel enlivened and excited. Good times :)

Since moving in with SK I've begun running regularly. He's a keen runner and cyclist (he's run marathons, and recently cycled from the southwesternmost point to the northeasternmost point of Britain ... yeah, he does that :D) and has been kicking my butt about fitness. We live close to a big park, so I've been running a ~5.5km course around that, approximately every second day. I think I'm about two runs away from being able to do the whole thing without dropping to a walk, which will be awesome! I'm booked in to run in a 5km fundraising run on the 18th of September so the aim is to be well and truly ready for that.

Si recently acquired a new heart rate monitor and gave me his old one, so you can see my more recent running stats here (that was today's, click through to see the others).

It's been interesting for me, as I've learned to run and to keep running, just how much emotion is caught up in it. When I'm pressing myself to keep going, just another minute, just to the end of that... I'm pushing against a whole avalanche of negative emotions. At first it was distress, hoping I'd collapse or break down so I wouldn't have to keep pushing, and an overwhelming belief that I couldn't do it. Then that phased into anger. Boiling, frustrated anger at everything and everyone who has ever fed me negative self-belief, intentionally or otherwise. I had no idea I was still so angry inside. When I got tired the anger would dissipate into grief for all the mistakes and stupidity and neglect and wrongheadedness that went into moulding those self-beliefs in the first place. Crying while running has become very normal for me over the past few weeks!

Today I tried listening to music while running, as I'm now confident enough in the route to afford the distraction. I was amazed at how that changed the dynamic. The running became something that my feet were just doing in time to the music. I still had to push and encourage myself, but a lot of the fight went out of the activity. I found that listening to the music freed me from the desperate, churning thoughts and let my mind rest while my body got on with it. There was still a little grief flowing through (I chose uplifting music and some of it reminded me of the murk from which I've emerged) but I generally felt better about myself, about running and about my life as it is now. I think I'll keep listening to music - while I do like the catharsis of using exercise to work through this stuff, sometimes one just needs to give it a break.

Ok, this has been a huge post and I hope everyone's appetite for updates is now sated! I shall attempt to be a little more forthcoming from now on. You can expect squeaky excited posts as the season turns ... my first northern autumn! Deciduous trees! Whee! ... etc ;)

I'm glad I'm in London, glad I'm living with SK, and glad my life is moving forwards. Oh, and I've lost 5cm off my waist. Good night :)

PS: The old template was borked (as are a lot of others from the site where I got it) so I'm trying this one on for size. I like the general look but I'm still fidgeting with details. If anyone can tell me how to move the blog title down, I'd be very appreciative! My html-fu is letting me down.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Almost there...

It's two days before the end of term. I've been AWOL for a while, I know... the whompingness of my life has kept me fairly silent as I work through it.

The class I've had have been difficult and generally un-fun, so I've been hating school and wishing desperately that I'd chosen a different career. Again. I'm so burned out that I can't imagine going back to a full-time, classroom teaching position in 5 weeks' time :( I want to do a sideways shuffle into museum education. Just have to find a job! It's been 5 years but I have finally started to miss the heritage sector. So I've got a long stretch of job applications coming up.

Life otherwise has been pretty stable ... sightseeing, running in the park, learning to live with a partner, generally getting on with the business of becoming.

And trying not to fall into my usual pattern of life!

The other thing that has kept me from blogging is a sad mystery. A friend - more than a friend - has suddenly withdrawn from me. She won't answer my messages, won't talk to me in chat programmes, ignores threads in which I've commented, etc. I don't know why, and I don't understand. I'm angry and hurt and don't know what to do about it. I have issues with being abandoned by loved ones, and every fibre of my being wants to flail around madly shrieking and prodding and doing anything I freaking can to get her attention and make her snap out of it. I know that's an unhealthy reaction so I'm sitting on my hands and trying to alternate pretending that I haven't noticed with just not going near her online. Neither is satisfying. There's nothing I can do except grieve and hope that she comes around before I decide that too much damage has been done.

I'm not taking a full 5 weeks' holiday this summer (I need money before that, so I'll have to get work of some sort whether it's ongoing or not!) but I'm looking forward to a couple of weeks' rest, and an SCA trip to Wales as a bonus! It should be a good summer, I hope.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Lost and Found

Sometimes life whomps you so hard and so unexpectedly that there's nothing you can do but sit back and wait for it to stop. You can't rationalise or plan or do anything really except let the feelings come and go and accept them as they pass.

The past 11 days have been like that for me.

Tuesday of the week before last, I went to a Bi Underground meeting in a north London pub. It was just a social thing, and I was hoping to meet other fun, geeky, open-minded people to hang out with. Nothing too challenging.

After about half an hour, a guy walked in (henceforth, SK). My eyes met his.

WHOMP.


We've now been 'officially' together for a little over a week, and it is amazing. We are on the same page and in sync in so many ways that it's just scary and bizarre that we met in such a random way. This one is really, really, really good. For 5 days I was completely delirious with excitement.

WHOMP.


On Thursday my favourite London school offered me, via my recruitment company, a 6-week supply posting covering a teacher that's been called up for jury duty. She'll be out until the end of the school year, securing my income until the summer holidays, which is a fantastic relief.

WHOMP.

On Sunday night I had trouble sleeping, and on Monday on my way to work, my mobile phone rang. It was my brother in Perth, and right away I knew what it must be. My beloved grandfather Paul had passed away peacefully mid-afternoon Perth time. He had dementia and repeated lung infections and was in a nursing home, and we knew he could go at any time. I knew I wouldn't be home for it when I left, but that's no consolation now.

WHOMP.

One of my aunts did offer to pay for me to go back to Perth for the funeral, but not only would I lose income, I'd also lose this extended posting at the school, and probably wipe out any chance of a year-long job with them after the holidays. It wouldn't be worth it to go home. But I feel such a terribly long way away from my family. Mum is missing me dreadfully (even though she told me not to come back for the funeral, she wishes I was there) and I just want to hug my family and be near them right now.

I miss my grandfather so much. It was time and more for him to go, but now I will never, ever hear his voice again. It's taken me a few days to come to grips with the sadness - through the week I've been putting on a brave face and coping as well as I can, but as the surreal feeling fades and the reality takes hold, I'm falling down inside.

Dickens had it right - it was the best of times and the worst of times. I can't balance up the amazingness of finding SK and the relief of this teaching position and the grief of losing Paul. It won't all fit in my head.

I feel whomped.

So I'm drifting and waiting for it all to make sense again.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hugsickness

I've been a little sad and teary the last few days, and I've been struggling to put a label on the feeling.

It's not homesickness, per se - I don't want to be back in Perth and I'm still very glad to be here in gorgeous, amazing London.

It's not exactly missing my friends. I do miss them, but with the wonder of the internet they're barely more than a few clicks away most of the time (though the fact that the majority were offline because they were doing SCA camping together this weekend didn't help!). I don't feel the bonds of friendship loosening or slipping away at all.

What I'm missing is physical contact.

I don't mean that in a sexual/loving way (though I do miss that too, and there's a certain guy and certain girl who know who they are and whose presence I ache for constantly). I just miss the regular, garden variety, warm, comforting hugs of friendship.

I've been utterly spoiled these last few months. So many wonderful close friendships have sprung up, overwhelmed my life and changed it forever. And I miss, so terribly much, the arms of those people around me.

I'm not homesick, just hugsick. :(

This is not an easy one to solve, either. I know that new friendships will grow, and new people with whom I truly click will appear in my life and become huggy friends. But I have absolutely no control over that process. I can't force it or speed it up. So for the moment I just have to ride out the aches and longing and trust that it'll be okay in the end.

And I think it will.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

A Journey to Winchester



Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain,
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And here is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart runaway in the road;
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone forever!

"From a Railway Carriage", Robert Louis Stevenson (Child's Garden of Verses)

I loved this poem as a child. We had a copy of the Child's Garden of Verses in a "Big Golden Book", and it seemed as a whole to capture the magical Victorian childhood that prevailed in the literature I preferred. "From a Railway Carriage" in particular had an Englishness and magic about it that delighted me and called to me.

I am quoting it here because it was naturally the first thing to spring into my mind as my train to Winchester freed itself from the London suburbs and began its trek through the fresh, spring-green English countryside. This was my first trip outside of London, and despite being tired after a long day's work and a frustrating suitcase-dragging marathon through three train stations, I was excited to be on my way.

Arriving at Winchester I took a cab to The Hospital of St Cross. This is a Hospital in the old sense of the word - a hospitable place. It was founded in c. 1130 as a home for 13 poor men who could not otherwise support themselves. This tradition has continued unbroken to this day with elderly and impoverished lay brothers still living in residence. WOW. The architecture is chiefly Norman with Medieval and Tudor additions. Since then it has been left largely unaltered apart from the provision of modern kitchens and toilet facilities. It's simply stunning, in excellent condition, and just... wow. As a site for an SCA event, it's beyond words.

Those of us without our own tents or the ability to bring them dossed down in the "ambulatory", a hallway of interconnected Tudor rooms accessed by a narrow winding stair. The stair and I were not friends, but I forgave it on account of its age.











That night we ate simple travellers' fare of bread and cheese, and sat listening to readings from Chaucer and da Vinci while sewing pilgrim scrips, hemming veils and the like. Then we repaired to bed (and, if you were me, were called a wuss by hearty Englishmen for feeling the need to fill a hot water bottle for protection against the cold!).

Saturday morning dawned grey and grizzly. We broke our fast again with simple fare, then gathered in the porter's gate to set off in small groups on our pilgrimage to Winchester Cathedral. We were given bread and coin to carry, and a score card on which we could record our answers to the challenges that we would encounter on the way.

It began to rain before all of the groups had departed, and seemed like to continue all morning. This did not dampen our enthusiasm and like the faithful pilgrims of yore we persevered. I was idiotically gleeful about seeing my first buttercups and my first white swan, and covered myself in glory by preventing my own small group of pilgrims from purchasing a spurious relic, having remembered one vital fact about that saint that made said relic impossible (I believe this was the only useful fact I did remember though).





It was nearly noon by the time our cold, wet, hungry band reached Winchester. Before we even got to the cathedral our labours were rewarded with the wholly unexpected discovery of the house in which Jane Austen spent her last days. The Middle Ages were forgotten for a moment while we revelled in Regency lit geek glee.




And thence to the cathedral, which retains some of its original Norman architecture along with various Medieval and Tudor additions and improvements. Our physical state was forgotten as we went into transports over stone, wood, paint, plaster, paper and tiles. We were not allowed to photograph the 10th century Anglo-Saxon document in the gallery, so you must believe us that it was there, and it was amazing. We saw many wonders, including a Norman bench:



Norman stonework:



12th and 13th century painted chapels:



Medieval tiles:


Stunning stained glass:


Jane Austen's grave:



And the whole cathedral itself, which was just too WOW for words:



After a couple of hours we realised that we really were wet, dirty, hungry and thirsty, and went in search of comfort. A hearty English lunch later, we set off nursing take-away hot chocolates and tried to get back to St Cross without any further exposure to the elements.

We didn't get far before we found a second-hand bookshop. This was a problem . . . we were in there for a long time and barely escaped with our wallets intact. I picked up a 1917 copy of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for £1, which is a win both for content and for format (ancient lit in a heritage copy? ftw!). I masterfully resisted the 3000 other books I wanted, purely because I could see no feasible way to get them back to London.

I had an archaeologist moment while we were in the bookshop. I believe I said "wow" again ...



And so we ended our pilgrimage at last, and made our way back through Winchester to St Cross.



When we got back to the Ambulatory, it became immediately clear that we needed to be clean and dry ASAP. The other girls, being in rather more sensible ankle-length gowns, fared better, but my floor-length chemise and bliaut suffered rather badly; not to mention my white socks, which had been stained grey by dye from my black shoes, and were thick with mud besides:



The chemise and socks have not come clean, even after two washes. Oops.

After getting dry and as clean as hand-washing would allow, we had time to wander around, mingle and explore.






After the public fighter demo (for which I didn't have my camera), we made time to go and see the St Cross church. It's pretty, Norman and full of interesting bits and pieces. Unfortunately the low light made for fairly poor photographs, but here are some regardless:




Then it was time to change for the feast. With the King and Queen of Drachenwald and the Princess of Insulae Draconis in attendance, it was a spectacular affair. I was a volunteer kitchen helper and spent a lot of the feast running to and fro with platters (in between plentiful time to sit down and eat - I was not deprived of that pleasure!). The food was delicious, and the ambience in the Norman feasting hall delightful. The Court before and after were full immersion experiences, and I was enjoyably exhilarated by the experience. I was also blown away by being (along with all the other kitchen helpers) thanked personally by the Queen and given a little tin of home-made, period hand balm. I've been using it on my hands and elbows since I've got home, and it's great. Another moment in which I was just so glad to be a part of the SCA.




After dinner we cleared the hall and Mistress Judith lead the willing through a couple of hours of dancing. My feet and legs are still sore three days later (thin jazz slippers on stone flagged floors? Not a great idea) but it was a fun, convivial time with lots of opportunities to mingle and dance with some new people. We weren't a-bed until 2am.

Sunday morning was a time of packing up and clearing out. The clergy of St Cross church traditionally offer the SCA pilgrims the opportunity to attend the Sunday services in garb, and myself and two other girls took them up on it this year. The congregation seemed equally bewildered and delighted to see three gowned, veiled girls at the back of their church! For me as a churchgoer it was rather strange and wonderful to combine my love of the Anglican church with my favourite leisure activity. Communion in garb was quite the experience!

After church the moments ticked down towards the farewells. Before we knew it we were saying our farewells and being ferried to bus and train stations. And the train whisked me back to London, the modern day and reality.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Can't blog, too O.O

I'm trying to put a coherent blog post together, really I am. But right now I am just too full of experiences to form an intelligible paragraph about anything.

Suffice to say that London is amazing and wonderful and I'm loving it so far.

I promise there will be details once the taking-my-breath-away thing simmers down to maybe only a few times a day!

Monday, May 10, 2010

... LONDON!

I am really, really, really actually here.

Really.

Huh.


I've had two very full days so far. On Sunday I arrived, got to my little room in my little shared flat, unpacked, then got out and did some sightseeing. I sat out on the open top of a red double-decker tour bus! It was just as fun as it sounds, but colder :P I nearly froze but got a good overview of the layout of London and a good idea of what I want to see first.

In the evening I went to the 6:30pm at Southwark Cathedral, which I've picked out as my church while I'm living in my current place. I've signed up there to get involved with the server team once I've settled in a bit.

Today I had my orientation with the recruitment company, got my first two days' work lined up, opened a bank account and got my salary packaging organised.  All very productive! I've got tomorrow off and I'm meeting a friend from high school for lunch.

Some impressions and notes:

1) OMFG Nelson's column. WHAT. I knew it existed but it's ten times as tall as I imagined o_O
2) Gilding - we just don't gild things in Australia much at all. But it's everywhere in London - statues, clocks, bits and pieces everywhere. It's so unexpectedly bright and shiny in so many places.
3) I have to get over being gleeful about pretty Victorian buildings. Old has a different meaning in this place :D
4) "Road" and "straight line" are mutually exclusive terms.
5) Cobbles are not so much fun when you have to walk on them while tired.
6) It is decidedly odd to get £1.01 change when buying something for £3.99 with a £5 note. Strange not to have to round.

I'm having a great time so far. I like my little room in my little flat, I love the area I'm living in, and I'm looking forward to being back in the classroom again.

Right now, all is good :)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Not Hiding.

Warning: Very Serious Personal Revelations Ahead. May Not Be Comfortable Reading For Some.

One of my goals for this year is to live a 100% authentic life. I no longer care to hide and suppress elements of my personality just because others may not understand or approve.

Being open about my faith was one of these things. People have to accept that I am a Christian (whether they like it or not) or get out of my way, period. I've discovered a few people who think I'm a nut, but mostly people have been supportive and appreciative about it. I've got so comfortable about it now that I can drop the words "and on Sunday after church" or whatever into a sentence without self-consciousness.

There is another thing I want to be open and unselfconscious about, and unfortunately in many peoples' minds it will be completely incompatible with the aforementioned Christian faith. I don't believe it is, but revealing it may mean that some of my strongest Christian friends will pull away.

Still, I'm not hiding any more. Come what may, the friends that accept me for all of who I am are the ones that truly matter.

Which is why I'm putting out there the fact that I am bisexual. I first realised I was when I was 19, but that was an "oh duh" moment; the attraction to women as well as men had been there for as long as I could remember.

I have told only a handful of people this fact, and only in the past year. But I'm really tired of people not knowing. And I'm really tired of believing that I have to keep it a secret because I don't want to rock the boat, or put people off, or because having kids was my ultimate goal and that's so much harder in a girl-girl relationship.

Enough hiding. I am who I am. Wherever it takes me and whatever it means.

Ironically, I suspect that in the balance of things the majority will be more tolerant of my sexuality than my faith . . . *sigh* What a strange postmodern world this is!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Character Interview #1: Eveth

I'm doing a series of interviews with the 10 key characters of my WSTBIP (that's "work soon to be in progress" hehe). These are meant to better develop each character's voice and backstory, and give me a sense of how they will react when the story gets going.

Without giving too much away, the characters are all in their 20s, and have suddenly been nominated by their world's deities as having sorceric powers, and a key role in keeping peace and fairness across the 10 kingdoms that make up their continent. This is unexpected and is the result of the tragic untimely demise of the previous 10 sorcerers. The last set of questions relate to this experience.

The first interview is with Eveth, my MC. She is 25, blonde and a little bit chubby. Please feel free to post more questions for her in the comments - it would be an interesting exercise! Also feel free to throw out ideas, impressions and so on. Anything is useful, really.

Before The Story

Growing Up

What is your earliest memory?
* Going for a walk outside with my older sister. I fell over in the wildflowers and we both did a lot of giggling.

What was your favourite childhood game?
* My sisters and I had a doll each and a play house amongst some trees behind our house. When our chores were done we would spend hours playing house.

How did your parents discipline you?
* They were very firm about boundaries and would give us extra chores if we crossed them. Generally we were pretty good kids.

Describe your Local School experience (7-10yo)?
* I loved learning but felt out of place at the village school. It was a very small school and I was much smarter than most of the kids. They weren’t really curious about anything.

Describe your Forming School experience (11-14yo)?
* Forming school was a very trying time. It was a bigger school but I still stood out. The teachers loved my academic turn, but I was singled out for derision by my generally stolid peers.

Describe your Vocative School experience (15-18yo)?
* I loved vocative school! I went to a university-directed school that none of my siblings had attended. I was new and unknown and with people who understood my feelings about knowledge and the world.

Describe your University experience (19-22yo)?
* University was great. I missed my family but loved being in the city and seeing and learning so many new things. Training as a doctor was a dream come true.

Family

Describe your parents?
* My father is the cornerstone of the family. He is strong, sensible, level-headed and humorous. He is fairly fixed in his beliefs but not afraid to listen to others.
My mother is loving, kind and wise, and very traditional in her beliefs and outlook on the world.

How many siblings do you have? Name and describe them?
* I have three brothers and six sisters. My brothers Phan and Noli are both older than me and married, and Phan has three children. They are both good men and good farmers. My older sister Shai is married and has a son, and lives in the village. She is very house-proud and in love with her little family. My next-youngest sister, Cali, is also married and lives on a farm where she works hard. My younger brother Tor is learning farming at Father’s right hand. My sister Desath is Mother’s helper and expects to be betrothed soon. My three little sisters Ren, Liath and Tireth are all still at school. Tireth is still a little girl and very sweet, but Ren and Liath are going through a silly stage.

How is your relationship with your siblings?
* We all love each other dearly, but I don’t feel like I have anything in common with them these days apart from the in-jokes and secret games of our childhood.

What other blood family members are significant in your life?
* My grandmother was a very intelligent and strong woman, and gave me a lot of inspiration to be everything I have become, before she passed. If we start getting into aunts, uncles and cousins we’re going to have to discuss half the village.

Do you have a spouse or significant other?
* No. I had a few boyfriends at university, but they never amounted to much. I’m from an old-fashioned family and we just wanted different things. I've grown up a bit more now and my expectations are different. I wish I could go back and change some of the things I did and said back then.

Do you have any children? If not, why not?
* No husband yet.

Daily Life

What do you do for work?
* I’m a doctor in the town of Dreana. Myself and several other doctors run a small pay-as-you-can clinic for Dreana and the surrounding villages and farms.

Why do you like your job? Why did you choose it?
* I love helping people and being of service. Every single thing I do makes someone’s life a little bit better. I chose it because it came naturally to me and was acceptable to my parents as a life pursuit for their only academic child!

How do you get to work?
* I ride into town and board during the week, and go home to Glerna on the weekends.

What do you do for fun?
* Read, do intricate beadwork, weave, sew, preserve flowers and essences.

What is your home like? Who do you live with?
* On the weekends I live with Mother, Father, Tor, Desath, Ren, Liath and Tireth. We all live together in the farmhouse my father inherited from his grandfather. It has three levels, white walls, and a high peaked thatch roof. It's a funny old house but we love it. During the week I live with Karal (another doctor) and his wife Mitri. We share three rooms above the clinic. It's a dull house on a dull street, but we try to make it quiet and friendly.

Describe a typical evening at your house?
* At Karal and Mitri’s house we wash up, have dinner, and retire to our own rooms. I work on something until it gets too dark, then go to bed.
At home, we have dinner all together (8 people are never quiet!) then after the chores are done we sit around near the fire, doing small work and talking about anything that comes to mind. It’s cheery and refreshing.


What is the worst thing that has ever happened to you?
* My life has been pretty mild. Probably my grandmother passing away when I was at university.

What (or who) do you miss that is gone from your life?
* My grandmother.

What (or who) do you miss that you never really had?
* A few boyfriends at university . . . I wish what might have been if we’d been on the same page. I miss the family of my own that I might have now if things hadn’t been different.

What are your attitudes towards your every day life?
* I'm trying to be patient with it. It’s a good life and I'm comfortable and not unhappy. I want more but I don’t know what and how exactly so for now, I’ll just carry on.

How do you feel about change?
* Too much change too often isn’t fun, but occasional change is nice. I don't like getting into a rut.

What's the worst thing you’ve ever done to another person?
* I've had to tell a few patients that they were dying, and tell people that their loved ones are dying or dead. That’s part of my job as a doctor, but it never gets easier.

Who do you hate?
* I don’t really hate anyone. I dislike a lot of the girls I grew up with. They’re so narrow and blinkered.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
* My doctor’s degree. I worked very hard for it and have more education than anyone else from my village. For a woman that’s a massive achievement.

What would you change about yourself, if you could?
* I’d like to lose some weight, and some of my discontent & frustration.

After Anointing

How do you feel about being anointed as a sorcerer?
* I’m overwhelmed. I can’t even begin to imagine why I’ve been chosen. I just keep staring at the marks on my hand and marvelling that Holy Breica has chosen me. I hope I can live up to what needs to be done.

How do you feel about your new powers?
* I'm not sure if I like them. It seems like cheating to be able to do things this way. I was brought up thinking that you must put your back into things to get them done! This is all too easy. And the telepathy . . . wow, my family are close but there’s nothing like meeting someone else’s mind.

What do you like about what has happened?
* This was meant to happen, or the Gods and Goddessess wouldn’t have made it happen. I like knowing that I have an inescapable purpose and am being pulled in the right direction. There was a lot of doubt in my mind back in Dreana. I wasn’t sure whether I was doing the right thing. Now, I must be.

What do you dislike about what has happened?
* I used to think that perhaps I’d feel truly at home in Glerna one day. The right man or the right circumstance and suddenly I'd feel like just one of the villagers again. That’s gone, and I suspect any chance of romance and a family along with it. I hope I'm wrong but what marriage could survive one half being a sorcerer? I still want children, but would I have time to raise them? My life has changed forever.

What do you want to achieve as a sorcerer?
* I’d like to see the Governments take more responsibility for providing health care for their citizens. A government-sponsored clinic in each town would go a huge way to repairing some truly horrible situations.

What do you think you have gained as a sorcerer?
* The ability to do wide-scale good rather than small-scale good.

What do you think you have lost as a sorcerer?
* Connectedness. I've been irrevocably set apart, and I don't know if I can ever reconnect with anyone again.

What do you think will be your biggest challenge now?
* Learning everything I have to learn in order to do this job the way it’s meant to be done. Last week I was a doctor at a town clinic; this week I'm supposed to negotiate with royalty over. How does that work? Where do I start? I'm so lost.

What do you think about the other anointed ones?
* I like most of them. I already know I get along best with Lindon, I like his witty and laid back style. Passira and Calique are both sweeties. Ashamy . . . wow, what a woman! I love her fire. Valo is so quiet, but there’s a sense of humour lurking in there that promises to be good fun once he lightens up. Dahann is a bit much, so outspoken and opinionated. Sirinie is a bit brusque and standoffish, but I suspect that’s shyness? Tal seems like a bit of a stuck-up arrogant git, to be honest. Not sure about him at all.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Still here ... honestly ...

I can't really apologise for failing to blog lately. I haven't even been trying. Putting words to my life right now just gives me flaily panicky feelings most of the time.

So here's some things that have been happening . . .

I leave for the UK in 3 weeks tomorrow. All the paperwork is done and I'm almost half packed (or something like that ...). Right now there is a lot of chaos around and bits and pieces of things I need to get done, which isn't really very much fun. I'm not having second thoughts exactly, but I'm finding myself frequently almost paralysed with fear that this will go horribly wrong.  My chief fear is running out of money. Logically I know that I will have work, and it is going to be steady work, and if the teaching work is not quite enough I can waitress or something too, but I'm terrified of being alone in a strange city with no money. Silly terror since I will plan to avoid exactly that and will know well in advance if that is a likely outcome, but still. I am so scared it hurts.

I just need to breathe. I know it'll be ok. I'll make it ok.

*

I got 82% on my first assignment for the year. It was a theology assignment so that's quite impressive - my first essay in a new discipline! When the tutor starts the comments with the words "your essay's only weakness...", you know you've done okay. I'm still enjoying both the theology and the literature units, and still thinking about doing higher level study in both of them. I just can't make up my mind which order to do them in! Master of Ministry first, or literature PhD? Hmm. Oh well, I won't finish the BA until mid-2013 so I have a while to decide.

*

I'm struggling a little at the moment with the feeling that I've managed to get my 20s and 30s arse-backwards. I spent the whole of my 20s chasing the dream of settling down and having a family, and failing at it miserably. Now I'm about to enter my 30s and getting to the age where time for that is ticking away rapidly, and yet I've suddenly discovered the joy of being free and untethered, and I want to get out there and have random relationships and new experiences and not aim to be tied down at all for a good while yet. And through that I risk running out of time to have a family.

There's nothing I can do about it except trust that it will work out okay (and remember that the women in my family have had healthy pregnancies well into their 40s so I shouldn't fear running out of time all that much), but I can't help the feeling of wanting to stamp my feet and shriek that it's not fair. It's like I'm trying to cram everything that my 20s should have been into the last few precious months before I hit my 30s, and I'm getting so confused about what I want and where I want it. I think, overall, that the London move will make this easier not harder - new people and places and contexts in which I can safely explore my real, full identity without the weight of peoples' presuppositions and past knowledge. I am determined not to hide anything about myself amongst my new friends in London. I've spent so much time concealing so much of me in Perth that I'm now hemmed in to the outer identity I've woven. There's a few people who get the full version of Christine (hi, Hilary) but not many. I want everyone to know the whole Christine from now on, and it's easier to begin that with a clean slate in a new city. I hope.

*

I'm currently enjoying a ... thing ... with a guy, which is very sane and comfortable and enjoyable and undemanding and affectionate and lovely. We both know it's going nowhere because I'm leaving the country, but it's enough for right now. How ironic that the "thing" that is ostensibly not a relationship is the healthiest relationship I've ever had. What was that phrase again? Oh yeah, "arse-backwards". That's the one. *headdesk*

*

My grandfather is in hospital with "multiple infections", after having been hospitalised for pneumonia and sent home again. He is quite ill and very uncomfortable. A small part of my brain is in full-scale freak-out over this, but the rest of my brain can't deal and has just shut the door and said kindly but firmly that we'll deal with that if and when we have to, and not before. I'm feeling a lot of guilt about this - afraid that it's an unnatural Aspie reaction that people would find cold and heartless - but it's the only way I can cope at the moment. I have so many things on my "oh hey there potential meltdown" list that the only way I'm surviving is by refusing to acknowledge them. I'm pretty sure there'll be an episode of rather cathartic stormy weeping when I hit a calm spot, but I'll deal with that later too.

*

I am trying to sell my car. I've never sold a car before. I don't really want to sell this one. Bah.

*

I have reached the point where I need to rehome my beautiful wonderful cat, Jemima. This is another thing I know I'll cry about when I finally let go, but I can't let go just yet. If you're in the Perth area and want a cat, consider giving Jemima a home. She is a darling. This is where she is right now . . . I was lying on the bed under a brown blanket doing uni readings, and she lay down next to me pressed right up against my body. When I got up and went back to the computer, she made a nest out of the blanket and curled up in it. D'awwww.




*

This song by Kelly Clarkson is where I am at right now:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZLUmlyuXonk

*

I think I've pretty much covered everything. Welcome to my life right now. It is complicated!

Now that I've got all of this out of my system I'm hopeful that I'll be back to regular blogging. I've been frozen in silence for a while, but I've broken through, so now there may be a flood ...