Ireland, Politics and the feeling of Home

Is it possible for a place to call to you? To leave such an indelible imprint in your soul that you choke back tears just thinking about it?

sheep farm

#askingforafriend

I’m not sure exactly when it happened but I was sucked in by the smell of it. The mist, the grass, the peat smoke, the green of it all. When standing on the shore in Waterville, staring at the ocean, I begin to realize I didn’t want to leave.

ring of kerry 2

That’s where it gets complicated. 

For several years, I have thought in earnest about leaving my country. The most recent Presidential campaign has only served to catapult that idea. Growing up in Europe, my idea of paying taxes means the result is great programs and it is something I could never really articulate to those around me. I have never really fit in here even among those who shared my political opinion. My experience of those theories in practice made me “feel” these issues deeply.

Fast forward to November 8, 2016. I cried every day for a month. I still cry sometimes. I weep for the destruction of our institutions and the fact that civility and professionalism aren’t honored. It is all-encompassing and heartbreaking for someone who studied and worked in politics as long as I have.

It won’t likely ever return to the same way it was. 

ring of kerry

Feeling Ireland deeply in my bones and hearing of the election of their first gay Prime Minister gave me pause. Here is a country rooted deeply in religion yet progressive. Isn’t that what we strive for? We should be able to honor everyone’s background and learn from all of them while still doing what’s best and most inclusive for the largest part of the population.

I might have found my new home. 

Coming home to the mess we have in Congress just further pushes me away. I don’t want to live in a place that hates who I am, who my children are, who seeks to take away from the poor. Who will it make us as people if we submit to that? Before you tell me I need to stay and work and fight, I do that. I have been doing that for 20 years in politics. I have walked blocks, served in positions and faithfully voted. I can continue to do that without being physically being here all the time. (Check out Democrats Abroad.)  The truth is that for a short, beautiful time, Ireland made me feel like I belonged there more than my own country does.

So now the hard part. 

The planning and plotting starts. A return trip in the Spring maybe? How will I learn to drive #overthere  ? Talk about stressful! Where will I live? What will I miss? Who knows…but I look forward to dreaming a lot, researching a little and getting busy making it happen.

barney the horse

For your trip, I have ideas!

There are many places you can visit. Many places you can stay but I would like to suggest to you that you stay in the Killarney area. It is just magical and I mean that in all seriousness. If you take a spin in a Killarney Jaunting Car, give Barney a kiss from me! Do not forget to sign up for a Ring of Kerry tour because you won’t believe how beautiful it will look and how amazing it smells. Tell them Michelle sent you!

Dysfunction, Lies and the Ties that Bind Them

This has been a roller coaster of a year for my family.  Since March I have finished up some really cool cooking classes, learned to make rain barrels (I have 3!), seen some good movies (and some bad ones), had a TON road trips, some archery tournaments and had some really great times with the family.

And then there is the flip side of all of that.

I have had health issues and there have been several family members that are quite ill.  I don’t ever expect that things will be perfect.  The idea of that is an illusion that our society sells everyone from a very young age, and in my opinion its what contributes to people feeling so terrible about themselves.  Social media doesn’t help because people don’t often see the perfect lives someone tells with pictures and think “hey its not real.”

Then someone dies.

I watched the shit show that emerged after a relatives death earlier this year and I just kept telling myself that I am NEVER getting into that again.  EVER.  Then one of my parents became critically ill.  Because it was touch and go for a few days, it seemed to have triggered the “death freak out” response in multiple people and suddenly I was the target of ALL of it.

Sometimes, I can’t catch a break.

Initially, I did not handle it well. I willingly admit that. There was so much crying that I thought I would be perpetually dehydrated.  Then I got angry.  These were people, related to me or not, that knew nothing about my actual life.  It was surface, “how are you doings” in passing, no real participation and feeling.  After a couple of weeks trying to manage my feelings and how hurtful everything that was said actually felt, I woke up one day and pushed it aside.  For some reason, I finally realized that there is so much these judgmental people don’t know or remember.  They are projecting their OWN sickness onto me because they feel so awful.  My favorite part was a phone conversation in which I was instructed to “not get upset and only talk about good memories with them.”

Bells when off.

Good memories?  No, I never snuck out of the house, no I didn’t give up going to college to run away, nope, there are no good memories.  What exists in my childhood space is watching multiple addictions, multiple abuses, embezzlement, arrests, drug use, one of my siblings being whipped in a late night drunk fit, cleaning up food slung all over the floor after a 2 AM fight, taking butcher knifes out of adults hands during 2 AM fights, hiding my siblings in my room so they can feel safe and go back to sleep during those middle of night fights.  Or forcing me to bartend at 12 for all the adults with them.  Or smoking weed with teenagers that KNEW ME that then went to school and told everyone and eventually trying to offer me drugs.  Repeatedly.  Or asking me to sit up in the middle of cocaine fits at 1 AM and just talk.  Those are the memories.  And when I think of THAT life it pisses me off because what I could have had…what was stolen from me.  It also became glaringly obvious to me that a WHOLE lot of lies have been told to hide those things.  People living in the same house don’t know the person I know.  There has been so much time and effort put on spin of the who’s and what’s over the years that it is astonishing.  The degree to which people are willing to judge you from what someone says is also devastating.  There is a spider web constructed over a multitude of things and its beginning to unravel.

I see your sickness.

I have made a couple of trips to visit.  Both of them made me sick when listening the all of the lies being passed around.  How do people look you in the face and lie like its nothing?  I feel nothing but sorrow for the people caught up in it. It is choking them and they can’t see it.  But…I finally do.

Reality is real.

I reminded myself that the reason I have to limit my time in that house is because it makes me sick.  Physically, emotionally, psychically sick to every fiber of my being.  Do you know that feeling?  It’s like your soul and your light are being sucked out of you as every barb, nasty comment and eye roll flies by.  Sometimes it makes me wonder do they every think about how they make someone feel that they are supposed to love?  That’s not love.  It’s some sort of fucked up roll of crap they were handed by their parents paired with the deep need to control and suppress all the real issues while covering the lies they have told. So very toxic.

So I again remind myself.

I didn’t leave that house because being a “rebel” was more important than an education.  Quite the opposite.  So much dysfunction existed that I was never a matter of concern.  I was not asked what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I was not asked if I wanted to go to college.  Back in the Jurassic Period, pre-internet, when you graduate, still a minor in an overseas location on a military base, your sponsor is 100% responsible for anything you will and will not do.  Any communication or information that needs to be received.  Any arrangements to visit a college, meet with a program director, etc. would have to be initiation by the person not the minor.  While I left and entered one of several difficult and painful relationships I have had an an adult, I also left to get work experience and start college.  I knew I had to leave or it would kill me. Literally.  My first suicidal episode was when I was in the 9th grade and no one cared.

Triggers

Going back and having so much in my face this summer, of what its perceived that I don’t do enough of or that I want to “take over things” was very triggering.  It forced me to mentally inventory all of those things that were done to me or in my presence.  It made me have to have conversations with family members and piece other things that I thought I knew but needed missing pieces.  While I never thought I would enter into “self therapy” that ended up exactly what I have had to do the past few months.  I know I can’t do anything about their misconceptions, the lies that were and ARE being told.  I know I can’t do anything about the need to control things that some of them have, or the way the perceived obligation in some minds overrides everything that was ever done to me as a person.  Its weird and its gross but I no longer let it be my problem when its their own sickness.  They can be dysfunctional all they want but I don’t have to participate.

Remember…

You don’t have to just TAKE something because they are family.  If strangers did some of this stuff to you, you would IMMEDIATELY know it was inappropriate and/or call the cops.  You can’t change someone’s sickness, only they can.  Stop trying and give yourself the freedom to be happy.  One of the things I am working on right now is remembering I can make that choice every morning.  I don’t have to put up with the pain and anger.  I can be happy.  Really terrible things happen in life, that doesn’t mean I can’t still be a happy person.  Money and position in society isn’t what makes a person a good person or a happy person.  That comes from the inside.  Trust me.  I saw it this summer…all the privilege and nice “things” around and everyone was angry and toxic and miserable.

Resources

There are many, many great places for help, you just have to use them.  These are some of the places I go for help:

 

A great resource for any mental illness and their care takers  https://www.nami.org

 

The Bloggess is a force of nature and also a great resource for any one battling depression, she has so much great advice but also fearlessly shares her experiences  http://thebloggess.com

 

Sometimes you just need a diversion  http://cuteoverload.com

 

my OWN grass

 

 

 

happiness

 

What makes a book a classic?

Towards the end of every year I work on my list on intentions.  I do this no matter what and I work on those lists all year because, well, I just don’t want to be the kind of person with a larger list of regrets than accomplishments. classics

I know that over the next year, one of the things I was going to put on my list was “read all the classics.”  The more that I thought about that though, the more difficult it became to figure out WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?  What makes something a classic?  Is it the time that has passed in direct ratio to it being considered influential?  You can break it up into time periods: Pre-Civil War, Industrial Age, Antiquities, Vintage, Contemporary, Romantic, Greek, and on and on and on.  Is it if it became popular?  Or banned?  What about great YA or Sci-Fi?

See what I mean?  OVERWHELMING.

If you over think it, you can even be genre specific.  For example, a classic horror novel would be The Shining or Carrie, wouldn’t you agree?  Actually, you could do an entire list on Stephen King! the shining

What would be on your list of classic books?

There is a great Tumblr called Teaching Literacy and if you aren’t following it you should be.  They had great suggestions and a link to a starter list that you should check out.

King novels

 

But what if you are a book person?

My biggest issue is most of what people would recommend, I have already read.  I was lucky to have teachers for grandparents so a love of books was instilled early.  Growing up overseas, I got to visit so many inspirational places that many writers frequented all over Europe.  There is nothing like going to Stratford-Upon-Avon to study Shakespeare or reading The Prince before visiting Florence, Italy.

I am very, very lucky.

But I know there are things I have missed.  While I have only finished sections of it, one of my first to finish this month is The Art of War.  There are a number of political theory books I want to revisit and Shakespeare plays I want to go through. I am thinking of going back through Rice’s Lestat series and then move on to more traditional things I may have missed.  When you have read most Steinbeck by the age of 13, it’s hard to find things to put on the list.  No matter how hard I try, most of what has ever been on Oprah’s lists, I just don’t care for.  Same for the Nobel Prizes…just didn’t love The Goldfinch the way I hoped I would.

 

leather bound

So tell me, what is on your list?  What is a book you continue to recommend to people?  Has it changed, as you have gotten older?  My tastes have always been crazy eclectic.  If you like horror, I again and again recommend The Historian.  I devoured that book.

In case you are interested, here are a couple of lists I found.  Enjoy!

Cult Classics

25 American Classic Books to Read

100 novels everyone should read

30 Books you should read before you’re 30

23 Books You Didn’t Read in High School But Actually Should

The 30 Comic Books You Should Have Read

Politics, Smut Peddling and My Year of Ups and Downs

Politics and My Real Life

I will go ahead and get it out of the way.  For those that know me, I know you are surprised that I have been silent on the matter.  That is strictly because I have been so damn busy.  Here goes–I am not sure why people even CONSIDER voting against their self-interest.  To say that I am continually dismayed by the state of civil discourse in this country would be an understatement.  If in my own family we so oppose each other’s opinions that the topic is off limits, I don’t have any hope for any change nationally.  So let me just give you some facts:

1.  I was married to a service member during the initial Iraq invasion.  While he is my ex and turned out to be a jerk, personally, I think it gives me some credibility to speak to the fact that the soldiers were lied to about their reason for entering that country and the result has been catastrophic for both our countries.

2.  Currently, I am married to a disabled Army Veteran.  His experience has been in the wonderful international destination that Afghanistan has become and later, Gitmo, Cuba.  I have held his had through PTSD episodes, nightmares, night sweats, tests, more tests, emergency visits, counseling appointments, frustrating goose chases that VA appointments can turn into.  I do think this gives me some credibility to speak on the subject.

3. President Obama signed a bill that allowed uninsured (like me) and those with pre-existing conditions coverage (my kids) and a number of other amazing things.  He also signed a bill that allowed me to become my husbands Primary Care Giver through a VA program.  This stipend allows me to facilitate every single thing necessary for him to get all the appointments, treatments, etc. that he needs without the fear of how to navigate a part time job and his critical care.  President Obama signed the Fair Pay Act and supports the right for me to make the decisions I need to for my own body.

Democrat or not, I can tell you that President Obama is the one that has done the most to directly impact my family.  Met with a crushing debt instead of what President Clinton left for President Bush, he has had a nearly insurmountable task.  He has begun a drawn down from two countries that we shouldn’t have occupied in the first place, trying to relocate prisoners in Gitmo that THEIR OWN COUNTRIES WILL NOT TAKE BACK, and some how try to help calm the fears in this country that our economy is permanently broken.

I wouldn’t want to be the President for all of the money and power in the world.  He was handed a Congress that lauded the fact that their job was to get rid of him and block his every move.  That should embarrass us all.  We can disagree but there are MANY things that could have been done to help us further along but simply because they were Democratic lead and sponsored, they were shut down.  It’s disgusting.

I support President Obama.  I hope you will too.

Smut and Those who write it

Whether you approve of Fifty Shades of Grey or not, there is no doubt that by now, you have probably heard of it.  I think that, overall, is a good thing.

I have been writing erotica since 2007.  My first piece was published on a The Erotic Woman blog and later, I had a relationship with the wonderful people at Love You Divine.  In both situations, I used the pseudonym (Mistress Cassandra) because at the time, despite many great literary pieces of erotic being accepted, working as a “smut peddler” was not a common and socially acceptable role.  What previously drew whispers, hushed tones and outright shut down of discussions now elicits endless questions and interested parties.  Since the popularity of Fifty Shades, everything has changed.  Overall, I think this is good.  Or at least I think that, until I see something like THIS.  There will be constant discussion now to define what one thing is versus what another is.  While I may personally think the BDSM subject matter is not reflected correctly, the author however is able to write whatever the author wants.  Clearly it’s sold without anyone having concern for the way it is perceived so who am I to pass judgement.

We have such antiquated opinions in this country about sex and about the human body in general.  I grew up in Europe and seeing someone partially clothed in a shower gel commercial there was not uncommon.  No big deal.  Here, we get ridiculously excited over “wardrobe malfunctions” but also have a society that supports a Jersey Shore culture and new shows like Honey Boo Boo’s.  You can’t have it both ways America.  Stop telling people what kind of sex they can have, what they can read about it and what kind of person you are if you write it when you have shows like The Bachelor and The Bachelorette and send people on “private dates” where they can spend the night with each other.

I don’t get it.  So I keep writing.  This year for my Nanowrimo project will be an erotica novel under my own name.  Hopefully Fifty Shades gives me a little better chance of not getting hate mail and ostracized.  Or not.  Either way, I will keep writing.

My Year of Ups and Downs

Some of you know I had some serious stuff going on at the beginning of the year.  What went from a little test to a bigger test, to a procedure and then a bigger procedure nearly broke me.  As a Mom, the hardest thing in the world for me is the idea that I can’t take care of my family.  I try to let the older ones find their way and not intervene but having one still at home filled me with panic and anger.  It doesn’t make sense why things happen to people that try to do the right things and walk the path of good intentions.  I thought I was that kind of person so for me, anger often took over much of my days that weren’t filled with profound hurt and sadness.  It affects everything you do.

The result was this:  after a particularly horrific week in which I thought my husband was having a stroke and I had a huge problem resulting from the stress I was told I was having an emergency hysterectomy.  Although I have had all the kids I intended to, the finality of it was not lost on me.  I am not sure that is something anyone can really grasp unless it has happened to them either.  For the record, there is a lot of horrible crap on line about hysterectomies.  (Health situations are generally not the best subjects to Google, for sure.)  I have to give a shout out to Hyster Sisters, a great site/forum where you can get real information about what is happening and join a group of people going through the same crap.  I found it to be the What to Expect When Expecting of surgical procedures.  It answered questions I desperately needed and calmed me the hell down.

I am nearly six months post surgery now.  I feel SOOOOO much better.  You don’t realize sometimes how something that makes you sick can affect all parts of your body and mind.  Do I feel I deserved to go through what I did?  No and I am still damn angry about it sometimes.  Am I better off now?  OH YEAH.  Full speed ahead!

Archery Madness

Thankfully, I healed quickly because my year literally went nuts shortly there after.  Most of you know Little Monkey has been competing in archery competitions but mid-year, she decided to take it to a whole new level.  Rather than me writing about her, I suggested she use her journaling she does during archery class as a prompt to chronicle her experiences.  Monkey has met some amazing people and formed friendships with international archers as well.  She has set some lofty goals, started writing blog posts and will only be busier next year.  For now I am handling her linking and photo uploads but she is learning and loving it.  If you are interesting in following her journey, she has her own site, Tumblr and Twitter.  While I have a Pinterest where she hosts “Little Monkey’s Board” it is largely nail polish and crafty related so be forewarned!

Wrap Up

So I migrated to WordPress because iPage became so restrictive!  I am happy that I could pull in the posts from my old Blogger page but sad that I lost my iPage content.  WordPress gives me some cool features and I can post multiple links and pictures that I needed so YEAH!  Thanks for sticking with me through the changes.

I am still writing at Almost Nerdy, hanging out on G+ and Twitter as well as handling a Tumblr page of my own, one for grad school and one for our newest pet/internet star.  I am on month 4 of a 12-month Masters program with Fullsail University for a Masters in Education Media and Design Technology and getting to try out some new emerging technology.  My research blog I have to maintain for that program is here and my emerging technology reviews I had to do are here in the event that you are interested in either.

Tons of DIY projects are ongoing right now so you will see that stuff posted soon!

Later peeps!

This. Just ’cause.

  <==  I saw this and instantly was irritated.  Why?  Because its true.  We all should have a problem with this, parents or not, because the “future leaders” are your future bosses, Congressmen, doctors, etc.  Think it doesn’t affect you?  Unless you are independently wealthy and can pay for the best of anything and everything, it pretty much does apply to you.

Sad.

I Would Change

As I am still horribly ill, I decided to do a repost of something from a couple of years back.  This spawned many a long conversation in our house.  Since New Year is fast approaching and the thought of resolutions is in the air, I think this is a good place to start.  Enjoy!
I WOULD CHANGE
*nothing about my life because it’s how I got where I am now. (but that being said…)

*the shape of my body so I could confidently walk, completely naked, into the street and think nothing of it. 🙂

*the color of the paint on my walls every six months if that were not horribly inconvenient.

*the time I lost away from old friends because they complete my life in so many ways.

*how easily I stop talking when I know that the thing I am about to say is likely going to hurt someone.

*the perception that I am uber-strong and confident all the time so that people will realize sometimes, I just need a hug.

*the fact that we live in a world where too many people are not afforded basic human rights, whether it due to famine, bigotry, homophobia, religious fundamentalism, our own government…

*the fact that children go to bed hungry in one of the wealthiest nations in the world.

*that I neglected to tell important people how much they meant to me when I had the chance.