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Friday, September 23, 2011

San Diego

My trip is over. I had a blast. I learned to think about trauma-informed services, got to hear a lot about gender-specific services, saw the ocean, ate good food, and fraternized with professionals.

Saturday, I learned that my job did not pay for the Saturday workshop, as I had thought. That was easy lemonade to make. I hopped a ship and took a Harbor Tour.

I saw sea lions, sea gulls, military ships and planes, and chatted with a nice couple from New Mexico. On the tour, I heard that Old Town was a neat area to visit, with ships and good Mexican food so on the way back to the hotel, I made a stop there. I should have gone to the Mexican festival. I inquired on my way out and it was only $6 for unlimited food and alcohol samples + there were people walking on stilts. Instead, I turned right and checked out some shops. I found really, really good fudge at a candy store. I also found a huge place with lots of cheap stuff at moderate prices. I eventually decided that what disappointed me most about the souvenir shop is the replicated stuff. Some items looked pretty nifty but EVERYONE was selling them. I was also shocked that t-shirts run at $15 a pop there compared to $3-$5 in D.C. and New York. I did end up buying friendship bracelets for my babies and got a rainbow one for myself. I got a Mexican guitar, dreamy cookie & cream fudge, and other souvenirs.

Sunday was day 1 of the conference. That evening, I went back to Old Town with co-worker K and Ms. Alabama, who she had befriended. We ate at the second Mexican restaurant we say, Los Reyes, and all agreed it was quite bad. I began to wonder if San Diego just had a different style of Mexican cooking than the Mexicans I've known in GA and TN. After dinner, we went to a souvenir shop that I actually liked. There I bought more gifts and awesome fans for myself and mom.

Monday, I got a new idea of what I might do at October's Motivational Thought for the Day group. Dan Griffin talked about how the principles of the 12 steps are counter to the values society instills into men. For example, the 12 steps tells men to ask for help. Society tells men that they are to be the autonomous leaders. The 12 steps tells men that they are powerless. Society tells them to seek power. Another speaker, Griffin went further with that concept and talked about how black men sure as hell don't want to run around talking about and celebrating their powerlessness. They already live in a world that tells them men are powerful but niggers are nothing [wording is mine. Dr. Virgil Gooding did his best to watch his words, we could tell]. So, the group idea is to talk about the rules we learned from society about who we are to be but then rewrite the rules for us. Umm. It seemed much more profound in the workshop than it does while I type it.... In the session is where I started to notice the gender-typeness of the workshops. I love that they were looking at race and gender but can we get a little more acknowledgment that not all black women are alike, nor are all white men, or Asian queers. I would have liked to hear more about how these gender sensitives vary with gender identity/type. I think I can use the society/12 step exercise in my co-ed group because I believe that the woman that participates has lived her life with many of the same rules given to men. Never say die.

Monday night, I went to La Jolla Beach and then some other city for dinner. The beach was lovely. The waves pretty much came all the way up the sanded area. I learned that taking a picture. I thought I was good and on sand but then a wave hit. Even the bottom of my “purse” (messenger bag) got wet. We ended up at a nice Italian restaurant for dinner. I was there in jeans soaking wet up to my knee. Lol. I was again with K but Ms. NY joined us that time. The restaurant where we dined is Firenze. It's better than Buca di Beppo, people!

I ordered lasagna made with veal, chicken, and beef. DELICIOUS. I wish I could have it again. Maybe I'll find that restaurant again when I head back to San Diego. Maybe mom and I can eat there in 2012.

Conversation with NY helped me see that I have a lot to learn before obtaining my LMSW. It's a hard license to get when one takes clinical Social Work classes. I trained to be an administrator so Lord help me indeed! NY was loving being around trained, clinical, addiction specialists and I could understand that. I've definitely been the odd one out before on a working team and felt that education in others would make the situation somewhat better. Stop being stupid (ignorant), people! I get that. It also made me think a bit about how I plan to pass the LMSW exam. Step 1: reread my abnormal psychology book and anything of relevance in Intro to Psychology. Step 2: take a Social Work class or two with a clinical focus. Step 3: Take a LCSW prep course. If I slowly study for a year prior to the exam, maybe I'll have myself together when the test comes. Maybe. Knowing that a large number of people who did the course work and worked in mental health setting fail this test isn't great for building confidence. But I can do all things through Christ, right?

Tuesday's plan was to maybe take a swim but mostly stay in to pack and get ready for my return to TN. I got distracted. K leaned over in class and invited me to join her in venturing to Coronado Island. In retrospect, I should have asked her what was in Coronado but instead I believed her when she said we could come back early and off with went. Ms. Alabama joined us. We had a long, slow start due to somethings on the part of K so we ended up leaving at our typical 5/5:30 pm time. We had to take 2 trolleys and a bus to get there. Apparently, Hotel del Coronado is in Coronado, CA. Some Like it Hot with Marilyn Monroe and Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon was filmed there. We spent too much time in the gift shop but it resulted in new playing card for me, a water cup for Ms. Alabama, and souvenirs and an awesome present for a friend for K. Finding that wedding present was the most time-consuming. We were directed to a delicious Mexican restaurant from there, Miguel's. It was good, but not any better than good Mexican good I've had. The pork was said to be fab so I had a pork taco. Fair. I also had beef flautas that made me say “yum”. It was late enough when we finished dinner that the bus was only running once a hour. We missed it by 9 minutes. Damn. We paid a cab to take us to the trolley station thinking it would still be running fairly often but we had to wait at the trolley station for about 30 minutes before we could get on.

My San Diego trip reminds me of my east coast travels last year in that it was mostly on a whim. Each day, I figured out what was next. Often, I wondered to an area with nothing specific in mind. And I feel good. Thankfully, the pain levels this time are nothing like my pain levels were in D.C. I don't look forward to going back to my eat nothing diet but am incredibly grateful for what I've learned about my health the past few months. I remembered EH, who has fibro but can walk up stairs, telling me that stretching is so incredibly important to being physical like that. So, I tried to stretch. I did a skimpy job but grace got me through. The fatigue surely increased during the week as I missed the 8am sessions Tue & Wednesday despite setting the alarm for 6:30 every morning. We'll see how I feel over the next few days. Perhaps I can sleep longer on Saturday. Memphis invited me to stay at her place tonight instead of heading back to Jackson so late. So had my mom. It depends on how I feel when I land. It'll be good to spend that time with Memphis but it seems awkward in a few ways and would involve her taking off tonight. I never told her I'm considering it but I'll call when I land to see if she's going on. Maybe returning home in the am won't be so bad.

I can see living in San Diego. $1200 is what most people quoted when I inquired about rent. VA will give me a cost of living increase if I get hired there so I think it'd feasible. Increase will be more difficult than living in TN but man, San Diego is nice. Home sweet home :). It is now on the list of places to maybe live in the future (Columbia, MO; San Diego, CA; somewhere else in the Midsouth) but I think I will adhere to the advice of getting my LCSW first so check me out in TN until 2014 or so.

This trip also gave me the opportunity to take a major step in personal humility. I got a wheelchair pick up. The hardest part is requesting it and getting the “you?” at pick up. Moving through the air port is less embarrassing, perhaps the relief of not trying to hike that far fast enough to catch the plane and not feeling the pain in my back, pelvis, and legs helps with that. It's surely a really small thing but using a wheelchair when I know I need it has been a struggle for me. With the airport, I feel like I don't rly know if I need it until I'm there and sadly, sometimes while trying to get from A to B. But finally, I sucked up my pride and asked for a help. Seems kind of fitting given the messages I heard at conference.

Peace ya'll.

Thursday, September 22, 2011


At Tilley's prompting, I'm reading Cunt: A Declaration of Independence by Inga Muscio. It's a fast read that lends itself to group discussion in my opinion. Oh the joys of Meristem (book club) of old. This would be such an appropriate book with potentially profound discussion. Instead, I blog.

Question 1: Who has read this book?

Question 2: How do you feel about the word “cunt”? What is your preferred term for the body part?

Chapter 2 was grabbing as it deals with “Blood and Cunts”. I hate my period. Recently, and not for the first time, I referred to it as it my body hating me. It appeared when I was 8. Bastard. No one else had it. It was embarrassing. I fully understand and embody the emotions Muscio expressed when relaying her childhood impression of the “curse because of Eve”. I pondered, could I ever be a period-embracing, blood loving woman as she is? I have a friend that mourned the lost of that special time per month. I will willing, freely, and joyously give mine away. It's heavy. While showering, a clot as big as a golf ball once fell from my cunt. In graduate school, I spent 31 days bleeding. What about these “events” should I celebrate? But I suppose I digress. Yes, I understand much of what Muscio says in chapter 2. It was a good chapter for buy in from me. With her change of attitude about her body, she questions the profit gathering giants that rake in the cash from women every 3-6 weeks or however often our bodies flow. She started using things besides pads and tampons to sop up her waste.

Question 3: What alternatives to pads and tampons have you tried? What did you think? Do you recommend them to others?

I bought the cup she references (The Keeper) but decided I couldn't even begin to shove that up my cunt. I still have it. It's an interesting device. No need to buy hundreds of dollars of disposable cotton products with it. I have a niece I could totally see rocking something like that. In reality, it was recommended to me by a friend. Muscio talks about bleeding in her floor and loving it. I'm not there. I don't want to come to your house if you bleed all over and don't clean it with bleach. Thanks. Her power sounds amazing when she talks about it though. I trust that it brings her great joy and in ways, I can understand why. But blood and I are so far from being close friends. I like to look at the blood that comes from others' veins. I don't want to touch it, yours or mine.

Chapter 2 is also when I started to think she has a serious issue with men. I hesitate to say she distrusts men more than is warranted because it is true that they have been behind so much foul but there's almost a disassociation between the sexes in her writing... but she invites and encourages men to read too because of the women in their life! Her profound distrust of men and systems speaks volumes and makes my interest inch away, though still hooked to her writing.

Muscio has had at least 3 abortions, one naturally induced. I wanted to cry for baby 3. I am a supporter of choice but I also support good reason. Three pregnancies by the same man-- apparently, what you were doing wasn't working. You're an intelligent woman; act like you have a clue. Do something to prevent pregnancy instead of spending so much time, energy, and money in cleansing yourself of pregnancies. It is true. I have an issue with abortion being used for birth control. There are situations in which a woman might have good reason to have 9 abortions but Muscio didn't show that in her work. She didn't want to be tied down by a child. For real? Women, let's be more than that. Sometimes, you fuck up and have to deal with it. Plenty of people are in jail or have served time for making a dumb decision that was theirs to make. A positive from the abortion piece: natural abortion/miscarriage. That's an empowering thing. It made me wonder what ailments herbs and spirit can heal my body of.

I don't agree with her war on birth control. I think it goes back to her war on men. Birth control is a pretty messed up thing to consume (as are many, many medications) so if one can find an alternative to their intended effect, they might want to use that alternative. But I was able to bleed like a normal person for 2 years because of birth control. I don't apologize for that or regret it. Sadly, each method I've tried has had a limited effective life, but with that, I'm willing to try something “natural” as well. She's right about women not sharing or seeking information as much as we should but darn I'm glad for what birth control has done for me in the mean time. And frankly, it could have kept her from having her uterus vacuumed out if she had implored it. It's not guaranteed, but it's darn probable.

The joy of how feminists can disagree! For me, the joy is largely in the thinking. I like that Tilley makes me think.

Question 4: What can you tell me about your vaginal mucus? I know very little about it. In fact, I was in a meeting where a Program Director was commenting on how many women in her program didn't know about vaginal mucus before some Catholic lady came in and told them all about it. Uhh, I didn't know about it either. Muscio has a section on mucus, ovulation, milky vs yellow things, blue parts, and much more than I wasn't ready to read. Informative.

I find her writings about the moon and its natural relationship with women's bodies to be beautiful. She makes me want to buy a lunar calendar and notice. I'm scared to stop using my birth control though. My body is fighting back as is, perhaps enhanced with recent, irregular use. Yes, I know I used the term “fighting”. I don' think my body likes it. I think it prefers to bleed and bleed and bleed. That's a point on which she (my body) and I disagree.

Chapter 3 is called “Whores”. She exhorts them, with “them” being a group different from who comes to mind when I hear the term. “Them” for her, equals prostitutes. Her basis is historically, sex for pay was part of holy worship. The whores were almost demi-gods (my words, not hers). Maybe I dated a demi-god. I called her the Sex Goddess. She then compares prostitutes to suburban wives and others who marry to get ahead, escape poverty, or do other things besides simply symbolize their love and commitment for another. She does do an excellent job of exalting the sensuality of women when relaying her experience with Ammachi .

In Chapter 3, I learned about Aileen Wuornos. Complex PTSD? It would have been interesting to have followed that story as it was unfolding. Women are victimized so much and they punished more for reporting it or fighting back.

Okay now. Go and grab a copy of Cunt and let's discuss!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

mostly a hope for love

Friday morning found me at the airport. My job sent me to San Diego, CA. Whoo-hoo! The drawback to that is everything-- working out everything to plan for this trip is horrible! But it's done, kind of.

Before arriving at the airport, I went to meet love interest #2. She's not out, so I'll call her “Memphis”. She talks a really good game and has a nice, wet kiss to make ya wonder. We met at Subway, our first time meeting in person, and left with the possibility of her coming up next weekend. I should follow up on that 'cause if she's not coming I should call love interest #1. One & two are based on when I first made contact with them; it does nothing to denote priority. Yep. 1 & 2. Choice. Double Love. Who would have thought from little ol' me? And I didn't hit on either of them!

Love interest 1, Tilley, is kind, smart, thoughtful (in the thinking kind of way), handsome, pretty, employed, into advocacy, readind, and is really young. 21. She lives with her parents, about 45 minutes from me, but works in South Jackson. I'm really, really comfortable with her. In the long-run, she could break my heart but I trust her in the present not to play games with me or my heart and not to do anything to blatantly hurt me. We met through the social group I created, Small Town Progressives. Tilley joined and I liked her meetup profile so I sent her a friend request on facebook. A few days into that, she sent me her number and the texts began. She asked me if I wanted to meet and of course I did; that's what meetup is all about. We ate at TGIFriday's and got along quite well and didn't want to wrap up the night. Books-a-Million is behind Friday's so we walked there. She invited me to coffee next but being the sleepy head I am, I went home. I felt the physical attraction then and think I could have gotten away with a goodnight kiss that first night, but we were meeting to be friends. And she is really young. I wanted to be “just friends”.

Tilley and I talked about hanging out again-- perhaps Mexican on Sunday. Somehow, that become a bar on Saturday and that turned into Sunday morning. We were supposed to meet at Miss Ollie's but I couldn't find my glasses to drive at night. Because I felt SO comfortable with her, I called and asked for a ride. She decided to come early so she could build my futon before we went out (yea!), but we never felt compelled to leave the house... until the chicken nugget/coffee run. Again, there didn't seem to be a great need for the night to end so we held on to it for a while. Oddly enough, we talked about just being friends before and after the cuddle. It's just not the most logical match. Shave away a few years and perhaps, but now I risk falling in love with someone who wants to move and finish academic pursuits

Interest building but lines drawn, Tilley and I continued to talk. Then through texts, we decided to date because the truth is, we both like the other. A lot. We talked about the issues and concerns about dating one another and discovered that none of them are boulders. Yea for the Tilley Till. She wants to get her B.A. in Nashville and we know Nashville's not that far from Jackson, closer to Jackson than Memphis for sure. I can envision reading lots of books, having thoughtful discussions, and forking through many types of adventures with her.

Now for Memphis- she found me on It was a little weird 'cause she sent me a “hello” from a profile that said she's straight. THEN, she avoided the question when I was checking on her sexual orientation. I didn't ask directly, so she didn't answer. Lol. Memphis seems like a vocal, strong, black woman. She's been employed at the same place for 5 years, not something I'd think of as a passion-driven job but it is a job that she sincerely enjoys. (It's also the company Tilley works for, just in a different location) And, she has plans of being in management there, if the pay is right (they offered her one mgmt spot that would have involved a pay cut. Let's be real.). She also has her dream job and plans to go back to college with a major that will allow her to qualify for mgmt where she is and to open the business she wants. I like me a focused woman. I like that Memphis and Tilley both have plans; the question is will both of them actively work towards achieving them?

Black women sometimes have this thing about them that can be off-putting. In S (back-in the day) it had a dismissive quality to it. With Tammy, it had a sting. With Memphis, I'm not sure how to qualify it. Honest and direct for sure. This thing exists in the area of “attitude” but it's not the same as one with an attitude. It relates to how they see and express their site of certain aspects of the world. It's rawer than I am, which is probably why I find it a bit frightening and/or off-putting. It's an acceptable thing from them and part of why they draw my respect, but I still shutter. Weird, huh?

Memphis says she's falling fast and hard for me. That strikes me as odd, as she was saying this before we ever met. But she could explain. She sent me an e-mail that listed concrete things that really do describe me that stated why she likes me so. So I respect that; it leads me to believe she could doing more than lip service. She knows what kind of woman she's looking for in life. Tammy fell fast and hard and promised me for ever. Obviously, that didn't happen. I don't want that kind of drama, love, and let down again, especially not back to back. Memphis is laying her game thick; have I mentioned that? I just hope it isn't game.

With her outness, I don't think she's going to be insanely closeted. She called me Bookie and let me rub her arm at Subway. She told me she just wants to make it a year with a woman before she comes out to her family. We'll see.

Maybe. I don't like the idea of having to choose between the two. I am simply dating them (not a girlfriend) but to stop dating one of them is like issuing rejection. I'm about 1-2 weeks in with both of them. I have no intentions of cutting any strings before I've known them both for at least a month. Insides can't be trusted those first 3 weeks ya know :). My emotions might lie to me if I let them give me a decision that fast.

So like I said, I'm in San Diego. My “resort” is really a motel that planted some trees and roses. I saw some people outside looking for a Starbucks because they said their coffee pot looks like it's about 30 years old and hasn't been washed in 10. Woo. I'm gonna nap now and then go out for a harbor tour. I intended to go to a class on motivational interviewing this morning but in all the mix up's of getting me here, signing me up for the pre-conference class apparently didn't occur. I hope to post pictures from today soon. My internet expires at 7pm so it probably won't be today :/

Blessed be.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Labor Day Trip to NC

Vacation is over. I was in North Carolina Thur-Sunday visiting my sister and her children. I refer to them all affectionately as “my babies”.

Thursday was the drive up. Time becomes a blur for me on the road. We left Jackson around 8:30am; I have no clue what time we arrived. We=momma and me.

Friday, I helped my nephew move into his first apartment. I'm so glad for his change, but also worried because roommates don't always work out and living together sometimes ruins friendships. Plus, his eczema is ridiculous. I didn't know it could cause your skin to erupt into fire (well, crack into) and cause you level 8+ pain all over. How do we remedy that? We tried aloe in the store. No relief. We tried trauma oil, which relieves a multiple of pain. Nothing. No to the equate cream nurses use on the feet of diabetics. No, no, no. He looks like he is in pain. I was afraid to squeeze him when we hugged in fear of intensifying his pain. I was scared to touch him at all. He was unrested. I'm not sure how much of that was due to pain, what was caused by all he's taking care of right now, or how much worries and life's stressors are contributing to that. I will mail him goat milk soap and even spring for goat milk lotion, assuming it's alcohol-free, but doubt it will help. I encouraged him to try the allergy elimination diet, as eczema is one thing it's listed to relieve. I also encouraged him to call Dr. Murphree's office to inquire about the allergy tests stated to better reveal delayed food allergies than the typical allergy test. Sadly, even these other tests only have about a 85% accuracy rate. Of course, 85% isn't bad. He doesn't have a regular doctor but apparently, I'm not the first to suggest that he go to a sliding scale facility for treatment. I think there's so much that he's just still, like a deer in headlights almost. My poor one. Send positive thoughts his way for me? May he have the strength to work as needed and the courage and energy to investigate new solutions to his medical issues.

Saturday, we celebrated the twins' birthday, which is actually September 18th. Their mom claims it was their idea to celebrate while we were in town. Before our arrival, they had selective amnesia but the early celebration carried on. Continuously, they changed their minds about what we were going to go. In the end, we went roller skating, went to the mall, and had dinner at Buca di Beppo. The restaurant was my selection. I kept thanking them for allowing us to eat there. Chris turned out not to be pleased about the selection. He only wanted pizza and wouldn't try the lasagna or chicken parmesan we ordered. Sometimes, he likes to act like a baby. I love him anyway.

At the mall, I ended up buying Clinique facial oil that I wasn't planning to buy and bought their whole acne system for D'Ella. (1) I hope that it clears her acne, (2) I hope that she acquires the money to keep it up if it does work. She has a follow-up appointment with the lady that helped us, Virginia, in three weeks. I also hope she's somehow able to make that. Virginia said she can exchange some items if she's washing twice a day but not seeing a difference. Mom bought everyone shoes mostly some version of a Converse. That pleased them all. Chris and Grace got awesome birthday gifts imo. Grace received a 5.0 megapixel camera/camcorder + SD card from me and mom. Her mom bought her a mp3/video player with a camera. Only $20 ya'll. Best Buy. Maybe I will buy one for myself with the justification of it being a backup camera. My kodak is the only functioning camera I have at the moment. And I took less shots with it than anticipated. Saturday night, we tried a new board game, Funglish, which turned out to be a hit. Allyson started up a second game on Sunday while thir guests were over.I describe Funglish as being like Taboo except instead of verbally giving clues, you have to place rectangle pieces with words in one of three categories (definitely, kind of, or not) to give the hints about whatever word you're describing.

Sunday, we went to church then had a cook out. I got to meet D'ella's best friend and boyfriend. I also met one of Shundra's friends her two children. I finally met Ms. Martha, the community grandma. This time, my team won at Funglish: 7 to 1. Saturday, we lost 6:7. Speaking of winning and losing, Grace is one bad table (air) hockey player. I bet Shundra, then D'Ella. I barely pulled the win with Grace: 7 to 6. Wow. What a fierce competitor.

Today, I return home. I am typing this while Momma drives and will post it at some point in Jackson. Sadly, I can see wireless internet options but cannot connect to them from the highway. Maybe it's because I move out of zone just as fast as I come into it?

Anyhow, the trip was great. I'm glad to have pulled so much out of savings to have gone :). Kid are honest so I learned many things during my 4 days there: (1) My new lipstick shade is not becoming, (2) I sometimes look like a boy, like most of the time, and (3) It's obvious that I'm wearing boy swim trunks when I wear swim trunks that I think simply look like athletic shorts. Another piece of exciting news is that I was able to walk up and down stairs without being in excruciating pain during the first 2 days of the trip. I'm not sure if the pain came because of the food or the activity but I'm leaning towards activity. I went up and down the stairs like 20 times helping Darius move. The next day, I did serious cardio by roller skating for 2 hours. Plus, all bedrooms and bathrooms are up stairs at my sister's place. It's not unusual for one to be in pain after all of that. My pain is just overly dramatic even when it comes through natural means. My mistake is not investing a lot of time in stretching at the end of each day. But oh my! The joy of being able to walk up stairs again. I thought it would take so much more than changing my diet.

Now to figure out whether or not I can afford to travel to CA or take a cruise next year....