Sunday, July 26, 2020

Come out, come out, wherever I am...

A long time ago I wrote a post about being queer and said the following:
The reason it's hard to post about this is because, well, it doesn't really matter. I'm married to a man. I'm done with dating. And that's that. Who cares if the celeb I'm crushing on right now is Hannah Hart and not MANnah Hart? (I am on a roll today!) Do I try to make up for my very heterosexual life by being involved in as many lesbian stereotypes as possible? Like coaching and playing women's hockey, going to gay marriage rallies, and watching women's basketball? Maybe. Maybe I'll even buy a Subaru one day. But unless Ethan kicks it, or we discover that we're actually raging polyamourists, I'm pretty settled.
Well, hold on to your hats folks. Turns out I am a raging polyamorist after all! Well, maybe not raging, per se, but I am poly! I have two fantastic partners now, Ethan and Kristin. We all recently moved in together into our big love-filled poly house.

I know a lot of people don't "get" poly... yet. But you can learn (maybe I'll even make a post about it one day)! And I also know plenty of people out there don't "believe in" bisexuality. But it isn't a phase or imagined, or any of that. It's actually probably more common than you know. Be kind to your bi/pan friends. It can be a whole world of NOT FUN to be constantly questioned,  fetishized, and erased. Being bi can so super totally SUCK. I used to hate it a lot of the time. Just the fact that I thought it didn't matter hurt. Yeah, I hurt my own feelings over it. I think it would be more bearable if people understood. So here I go with a bit of a rantsplanation...

My mantra: Both? Both. Both. Both is good.
It can SUCK to be bi. If you tell people you are you'll find out that nobody wants to know; it's treated like unwanted, unnecessary, and sometimes 'fake' information. Or they want to know way too much. I'm often asked to "prove it" by telling people about my sex life with women. "Whaaaat?" you ask. "People can't seriously be asking about your sexual history!" Yup. It's true.

The basic premise seems to be that you can’t be bi if you haven’t had sex with both men and women. By this logic, nobody can be anything ending in -sexual until they’ve had sex and that is just absurd. Nobody says to a heterosexual that they aren’t really straight because they’re a virgin. I’m guessing that homosexuals do get the “are you sure” question, especially when you’re young. Bisexuals always get that question. Forever. It hurts and sucks and kept me up at night for years.

TMI alert! I didn’t have sex with the first several girls I made out with. I also didn’t have sex with the first several boys I made out with – hell my first boyfriend and I didn’t kiss at all in three months of dating. But nobody told me I wasn’t attracted to him, although I wasn’t particularly attracted to him, he was just the first person who’d ever asked me out. No girls ever asked me out. It turns out a large number of my close female friends were bi too, we were just all too scared to talk about it. That kills me because I dated some loser dude I didn’t even really like when I could have been dating a girl I really cared about and thought was beautiful? Fuck that sucks. And I know homosexuals go through this too. Being NOT STRAIGHT in high school was hard. I hope it is easier now for high schoolers now.

I met Ethan during my first semester of college. He asked me out. 3 years and 9 months later I married him. And that was it. I’d chosen, right? Being bi was no longer relevant because we had a heterosexual marriage. The end. But it never stopped me from being bisexual. I love him to death but the one thing that kept me up at night – that I LITERALLY lost sleep over for YEARS – was that I hadn’t had the chance to really be with a woman before I “settled down”. Alone in my head, I questioned myself constantly about my sexuality. Am I really bi? Why the fuck should it matter? But it DID matter. Because I wasn’t straight and I didn’t like pretending to be.

I was so jealous of lesbians back then. It sounds irrational because I liked my life and loved my husband but I was still so fucking jealous because I felt like I was missing something they had. When I say being bi is hard, I am not saying being gay is easy. I know it’s not easy. Everybody in our society is pushed toward living a straight life. When you’re bi it’s easier to pretend to be straight, but it isn’t comfortable and can be quite painful.

When I started actively looking to date women it was not just because I believe in polyamory (which I do, obviously), but because the self-doubt over my sexuality was eating my soul. It sucked that I had those doubts, but I was lucky enough to have some great experiences that helped me reaffirm who I was. And even luckier still to end up with Kristin. (I think our story merits a post all its own not squashed in with this particular rant.)

The point I am trying to make is this: My old post was both right and so very wrong. I am queer and it matters. It mattered then and it does now. I am the same person I always was and so are all the bisexuals out there in monogamous relationships. And I apologize to myself and the rest of my bi brethren for having ever said that it didn't matter.


Monday, February 10, 2020

I'm going Bingle-Bongle

Blogging is harder than I remembered. Am I forgetting how to interact with real people? How to write for an audience? Is it the shift from third to first person? Or am I just more insecure about it because it's been so long? Maybe all of the above.

I spend most days working on my book(s). In the Teammates series, I have four major "point of view" characters: Michelle, Fitz, Dawn, and Tessa. At this point, I know them so well that writing with them is like playing with my imaginary friends. I get pretty deep into these characters. Some days I'm just really feeling them, like, too much. When that happens my kids say, "Mom's gone bingle-bongle again."

I remember once, a few months ago, when I was deep into writing book 2, I had spent a long day writing and was very much in my head. While I was making dinner I was thinking about what I'd written and what it was leading to, and I started getting all worked up. My nine-year-old daughter Dani asks, "Mom, what's wrong?" And I'm like, close to tears, "Tessa's had a really hard day." Then Dani rolls her eyes and walks away. Bingle-bongle.

Do all authors that their characters to heart this much? If so George R. R. Martin is one fucked up dude. Ha!

Going bingle-bongle can have its advantages. I think some of the best parts were written when I was in full crazy mode. But the disadvantage is that it can sometimes be hard to find myself afterward. How many times have I said to my husband, "oh, fuck, sorry, I'm just feeling a little Michelle still I guess."

Blogging is like the ass-opposite of fiction writing. I have to be so... me. And that means I also have to take ownership of my words in a different way. That's an adjustment. I have major respect for the memoir writers out there. That shit takes guts. If you write about somebody real, whether it's yourself or somebody else in your life, the feedback you get from readers has to be on a whole different level. I love getting feedback on my characters (most of the time). I mean, I do feel a little conceited when people say "I love Michelle" and I'm like "I know, right?" but when people say "I really hate Tom" I feel no qualms about agreeing whole-heartedly. How crazy different that all would be if those people were real! *mind blown*


PS: Ten points to anybody who knows where "bingle-bongle" comes from.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Life as a writer is nuts, man!

Well, I can't say that I'm super proud of my last few posts on this blog, but I'm back to give an update and I'm not going to delete them. So there. I guess.

picture of a stack of Teammates books
Draft copies of the Teammates series for my beta-readers,
with a little bi pride thrown in for my own entertainment.
The last year and a half have been a wild ride, my friends. What did I do? I wrote a book, fell in love with my characters and with writing, wrote a second and then a third, and learned that I detest the querying process. (Not necessarily in that order.) I also edited my pants off and have more editing yet to go.

Book one, Teammates: On Ice, is polished. It is ready to be read by agents and publishers. I am trying to get that to happen, although querying is painful and gives me All The Anxiety. I love this book and these characters are my fucking soul. It just needs to get published... which it will, one way or another. Some day. Soon hopefully. (Oh, hey, there's that anxiety again.)

Book two, Teammates: Take Shots, is my favorite of the three; it is my Empire Strikes Back - it is the book that doesn't end happily and still makes me cry. And I love it. (I'm dark and twisted like that.) And it is fairly polished as well. I say fairly mostly because I think maybe it could use another beta-reader. But I'm proud as fuck of that book.

Book three, Teammates: Full Strength, exists, but is still in need of some real work. I have a stack of post-its and a brain full of thoughts on how to polish it to make it better. I admit that I let myself get over-focused on one of the storylines to the detriment of the others. But I'm fixing it. It's a good book - there are parts that make me swoon - it just needs some nips and tucks.

Want to know what the series is about? I like to say it's Big Little Lies meets The Mighty Ducks. It deals with the real-life struggles of four women - Tessa, Fitz, Michelle, and Dawn - as they come together to make hockey an oasis where they can escape the challenges they face outside the rink and find support from their teammates. The series touches on serious issues relating to love, sexuality, abuse, mental health, parenthood, and loss. It's difficult at times but also very sweet and touching. And it's funny as fuck. (Honestly, 100% of beta-readers LOLed IRL.)

So in my attempt to get this published, I'm giving social media a bit of a "hello, again" run. My love is for writing, not marketing. But you gotta do whatcha gotta do, ya know?

If you want to read something that has been published. May I recommend the lesbian romance novel Lust in the Stacks by Natalie Falkenwrath. She and I are like, super close. I'm totally jelly that her book is out and mine isn't, even if that's because I'm trying to go traditional and she's "indie" published. It's fine. When I do get Teammates out it will be all the sweeter for the waiting.

Until next time!

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

I'm back, b*tches!!

I bet you thought this blog was dead. Well, as it turns out, it was just taking a really long nap. Like the kind of nap that new parents would dream of (if they slept enough to dream). But it's awake now, so welcome (back)!

Why, pray tell, is this blog back up and running after so long? Well, in 2017 I left my career in academic technology, and after about a year of soul-searching (aka lots of crying and hyperventilating and working in a job I hated) I decided to take a risk and make a real go of this whole writing thing. And it's been hard, but also fucking fantastic. 

Over the course of the last year, I wrote a novel: My Kind of B*tches. 

It's not published yet (except for when my husband accidentally "published" it on Amazon, oops. It's not really published, we were just getting copies for my beta-readers!) But I just felt the overwhelming need to share. I can't help it. I'm just so fucking excited! The sequel is in the works too, but writing can be a lonely endeavor, and, as Michelle would say, I'm in the mood for a little attention!

I also decided to start blogging again because of how inspired I am by Jenny Lawson, aka The Bloggess. I fucking love her and it is a dream of mine to have her read my book. And I was hoping that if I reconnect with readers and writers here I might gain some valuable insights on the writing and publishing world. (So far I know I can write a book, but query letters have got me like ... whut?)

Here is a little synopsis:

My Kind of B*tches is about four badass ladies. They’re sick of the dramatic bullshit on their hockey team, so they work together to build something new. Well, Fitz does most of the work, honestly. But the hockey team isn’t really the point, it’s all about relationships and drama, and about helping your bitches get through the tough shit in life. Let’s start with Fitz. She’s beautiful and strong, she’s intense and passionate, and she’s married to a total douchebag. She doesn’t want to admit what an ass her husband is, but the more her marriage falls apart, the harder it is to deny. Then there’s Michelle. She’s also smart and strong, and she fucking knows it. She has a toddler and is thinking about having another baby, but nothing in the motherhood department seems to be going right. Toddlers are impossible, and pregnancy is the worst. What even made her want to be a mom anyway? Dawn, now she’s got the mom thing down. She’d better, she has four kids. Her wife is super awesome but struggles with depression, which can place quite a burden on Dawn. But Dawn can totally handle a depressed wife, four kids, a fulltime job, and a dramatic-as-shit hockey team, right? Last we come to Tessa. She has pretty much no life outside of hockey and work. She’s an engineer and a damn good one. But all the little men at her job just can’t seem to get over the fact that somebody like Tessa might just be smarter than the lot of them combined. These four women, unlikely friends as they might be, have a common love: hockey. And the bonds they form as teammates help them not just take down bitches on the ice, but take on the drama of life itself.
 So here I am, back to blogging. I promise it won't be all about the book. See you around!
x

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

In which Park Nicollet flips me the bird.

I started a post on the importance of validation, and maybe I'll get back to that more general post, but first I'd like to address a very UN-validating experience I had this weekend.

For a little background, a few months ago I had a hockey injury and went to the ER where I received the most traumatizing "care" I have ever had from medical professionals. A week or two after the fact, I posted about it to this blog in the post A little injury, a lot of trauma.... I tweeted the post to Park Nicollet, the medical group the hospital belongs to and as a result I got a call saying they'd look into it. The process of sharing was cathartic and as my hand healed, my mind was able to heal too, at least enough to stop replaying the incident over and over in my head.

Until this weekend.

This weekend I got a letter from the hospital telling me that they'd looked into my care and found it to be "appropriate". In fact they took two whole pages to spell out just how wrong I was in my assertion that I was mistreated. I will attach the full letter but here are some highlights of why I'm crazy and the trauma was all my fault, if it existed at all:

  • "While we can understand your frustration with your visit, it appears the care you received was reasonable and appropriate." This made my stomach drop. I had a panic attack and was treated like a psychopath criminal. If the "care" I received was "appropriate"?? Then why does it still haunt me? And in what way do you "understand" if this is your conclusion?
  • "The longest you were by yourself was approximately 14 minutes." So apparently leaving somebody with a diagnosed mental health condition alone with no idea when you're coming back, when they are in the midst of a panic episode, is ok if it's *only* 14 minutes. My students aren't allowed to be more than 7 minutes late for work, but leaving a scared woman alone for 14 is FINE. 
  • "...your social worker had minimal contact with you due to your lack of collaboration... your social worker states you were crying and hard to understand." OMG, so sorry to have inconvenienced a social worker with my crying. Couldn't have been because I was scared and she was making me feel like I was over-reacting, oh but wait!
  • "Your social worker ... recalls offering several statements of support, but recalls the helpful information was not accepted by you." The social worker claims she said "supportive" things, where I felt she said accusatory things, so just believe her over me, then it's all hunky-dory. I just can't even with this one.
  • If these truly are your standard practices for dealing with somebody who you determined was "a danger to yourself and others", then you've messed up from the get go. Also, that is not listed on my discharge papers. Why not?
  • Speaking of my discharge papers, the letter failed completely to address the lack of information I was given at discharge, including never having been told the dosage of the medication I was forced to take. 
  • The note does mention the security staff did the right thing, I agree. I have no beef with the two security dudes. The letter does not mention the nurse lady who got all up in my face.

Basically I got an ass-covering, victim-blaming, totally BS letter. And it wrecked my otherwise fantastic weekend. Thanks Park Nicollet Methodist! I will never, ever, ever visit you again. And I will warn all the people I can about this experience. I may have a mental health problem, but I'm human and I will take my business to a place that treats me with dignity.

PS: fuck you, Park Nicollet.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Writing, Men in Kilts, and an open letter to Diana Gabaldon.

Late edit to this post: Now that I've written a book, I take it all back. You do you. I love your books and a little repetitive phrasing is soooooo hard to avoid when you write as much as you do. OMG. #LessonLearned

-Humbled Alison


I'd like to start off this post with a short (it got longer than I intended) open letter to Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander book series (now also a tv series!)

Sexy men in kilts can make me sweat, no
matter how cold it is out, and I live in MN
Dear Ms. Gabaldon,

First let me say, I really enjoy your books. I am currently on book 8 of the Outlander Series, Written in My Own Heart's Blood. I really appreciate all the diligence you put into researching both the historical and medical aspects of your books. It's a rare treat to get to read a book that teaches me so many interesting facts, while also getting the pleasure of imaging Jamie's hot nakedness. So it's with great respect that I offer the following criticism:

Please, for the love of all things holy, stop with the "she shivered despite the heat" or "he began to sweat despite the cold" schtick. If there were a drinking game for an over used cliché in your writing, this would be it, one hundred times over. Please believe that people can understand from context that when you mention the somebody gets goose prickles due to a scary/creepy/eery/etc event that we understand that they are not simply cold. I am at the point where every time these phrases crop up I end up yelling out loud at the book. This can be quite embarrassing when I'm reading in a public space, and has even scared the dog on occasion.

So please, for all our sakes, enough with the temperature to physical reaction disclaimers. And do keep writing your vastly entertaining books. They are quite fabulous after all.

Alison

Ah, it feels good to get that off my chest finally. I love reading, and I really love settling into the rhythm and feel of an author's writing style. This is one reason I love reading many things by a single author, and also why I almost never read collaborative works (for example, I love, love, love Larry Niven's earlier books, but now all he does is collaborations so I don't even bother). But it also means starting to notice little things that can pull me out of the story (like mentioned above). It also can have an impact on my own writing style, which can be good or bad, depending on how... unique the style is.

And now that summer break is coming up and more people will have time to start reading, let me close by recommending the Outlander series for some fun summer reading. And if you like audio books, the narration by Davina Porter is fantastic. (She is second only to Song of Ice and Fire narrator Roy Dotrice in the portion of my heart reserved for great narrators.) Also, if you're hot for men in kilts, then Outlander is certainly for you. Mmmm.... I suddenly feel a chill, yet it's so warm in here. ;)

Friday, May 1, 2015

There's no such thing as the magic pill...

It seems that many people have the misconception about mental health medication that once you find "the right one" then you're set and you just stay on that forever. In reality, it's more like a never ending cycle of finding "good enough for now" meds, living with them until they stop working well enough or the side-effects become more than it's worth, then trying something new. Trying something new may mean changing a dosage, adding another med to the mix, or stopping something all together. I got my first mental health medication prescription in late 2003/early 2004 and I've gone through this cycle many times.

Right now I'm in the process of slowing decreasing and going off my meds. For a while I was on 3 every day meds and had prescriptions for 3 other "as needed" ones. The side effects were annoying (being asked "why are you shaking?" all the time gets old fast), but what really put it over the edge is that, when I got sick with a bad cold and forgot some of them I then had to deal with medicine withdrawal on top of the headache, sore throat, and fever from the cold. Talk about kicking you when you're down.

At my next psychiatrist appointment I asked about trying to get off all the daily meds over time. My doctor agreed and as as first step we cut all my daily meds' doses in half. That was a... transition. It was hard, made harder by my traumatic hospital experience right in the middle of the change. But I got though it. So a month later we took one of the 3 away completely. Whoo boy! I didn't even know some of those could be symptoms. If you ever forget your brain is run by chemicals, try changing the ones you feed it.

Bus, Traz, and Al - they just want to stay friends.

In case you've never personally gone through long term medicine changes, let me give you the highlights of some of the fun symptoms, generally temporary, of starting or stopping meds. And I'm not picking these off a website or pill label. These are all symptoms which I have experienced recently and/or expect to experience soon.
  • Shaking
  • Dizziness/lightheadedness
  • Forgetting to actually interact with the real world, like TV zone out, but IRL
  • Depressive episodes
  • Manic energy (aka the "I will now dump out and reorganize every drawer in the kitchen" effect)
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • The sudden need to lay on the floor and stare at the ceiling for an hour
  • Dry-mouth (yeah, I know it sounds dumb until you find yourself incapable of spitting)
  • Insomnia (or in my case, just increased insomnia)
  • Intense dreams
  • Stuttering
  • Feeling like somebody lodged a fuzzy sock in between your brain and your mouth
I have my next psychiatrist appointment next week. Maybe I'll get to add another couple "fun" ones to the list after the next round. Right now I'm going to focus on taking care of myself as best as I can. Getting lots of sunshine, hugs from my family, and strength from all of you out there in the interwebs who have gone through the same shit and lived to tell about it.