Unhappily Beautiful: How Body Shame Burned Me Out

I said nothing as the woman sitting across from me mused that shaving one’s legs in the sink was the ultimate defining moment of womanhood. Whose womanhood? Perhaps only her own, perhaps only the other socio-economically privileged, mostly white women present. Perhaps she thought this expression resonated with all of us or perhaps it was to separate the superior kind of woman she wanted us to be.

Warning: Reflections in this mirror may be distorted by socially constructed ideas of beauty.
Society’s mirror is a false one.
With few exceptions, I try to only dig enough into other people’s own psychodramas to interact with them or make them characters in stories. But I can tell you this barrier she set up affected others; it affected me. It’s never a flaming sword of body hate. No, it’s just tiny little jabs collected over months of similar comments, environments, and messaging that eventually make you bleed, face-down on the ground.

I spent a whole half year unhappy with my wardrobe choices. Staring in a mirror of unhappiness. Nothing looked right, and I didn’t seem to own what I needed. Or it wasn’t clean. My mornings just dragged out longer than necessary. And no amount of shopping or wardrobe purging seemed to fix it.

Finally, my secret became that Jacob, my partner, started picking out my clothes for me. Most days at my behest. Continue reading “Unhappily Beautiful: How Body Shame Burned Me Out”

Priority Item: Write

“Being a writer is like having homework every night for the rest of your life.” – Lawrence Kasdan

In the evenings, my partner Jacob often asks me the question, “Are you done yet?’ Usually, I’m knee-deep in a project, gazing at my true love: my laptop. More often than not that project is my writing. A never-ending project that on good days is a swirl of joy and on bad, a petulant child who won’t stop screaming. Or perhaps won’t start screaming if I’m blocked.

Writing is not my hobby. Photo modified from danoff.
Writing is not a hobby.

My writing is sadly what I save for those stolen moments. When my work inbox nears the mythical zero. When I’ve called my grandma, cleaned the house, made dinner, and finished watching all of Orange is the New Black. (Which is really good, by the way, go watch it.) When I’ve finished with all the other very important things that I also do truly care about.

At first, I thought I’d fallen into the procrastination trap. The I’ll do it laterโ€ฆ But I know what that looks like, there’s a failure of launch. My mom is a self-described A+ procrastinator, and my harddrive doesn’t resemble her barely-started project remnants that have a room devoted to them. You procrastinate on your taxes or finally fixing that door that doesn’t shut right, not the thing you crave, the thing you dream about, the thing you roll melodramatically around in bed and tell your partner you’ll die without. You’ll fall over dead if you can’t write. You’ll come down with a cold if you don’t get out of bed right now and write. This is a scientific fact you’ve proven. Proven.

This is not procrastination.* Continue reading “Priority Item: Write”

Visibility Conundrums of Being Queer

We're Queer, We're Here by Steve Rhodes
Look right behind you. ๐Ÿ™‚ Photo by Steve Rhodes.
I’ve been dating Jacob now for eight months, and as often happens when I’m dating someone who identifies as male, I think a lot about my visibility as a queer person. Dating Jacob has added another layer entirely, which is my visibility at work since he’s also a coworker.

Now many coworkers of mine have met my English girlfriend [name withheld due to privacy concerns], and they know of my pansexual polyamorous ways. However, when you work for a company and are employee #38, after one and half years, and now there’s 130 and counting Mozzers… maintaining visibility is even harder. Confounded by new people meeting me and Jacob as a couple. And these are the people that I spend the vast majority of my time with.

But let’s back up… Why do I care?

I truly believe that nothing has propelled change in attitudes about queer people more than visibility. More than celebrities, the average queer person standing up and saying, “I’m queer, and I am a person who deserves to be treated like a human being. Oh, yeah, I’m also someone you might care a little about as a human.”

I care alot about human rights and about equality. Statistics show that you’re more likely to support, like, and understand an oppressed minority group if you have a friend, family member, etc. who is from that group. This is pretty logical that you wouldn’t want harm to come to or happen to someone that you care about.

Interestingly enough, studies have also shown that this kind of visibility also works with representations in the media. Don’t know any queer people? Do you like Modern Family and like Mitch and Cam? Then it’s pretty close to knowing someone in real life.

I also believe in being a visible role model or at least a safe person for other queer people to talk to. Not everyone, unfortunately, can be out, and not everyone feels comfortable sharing about themselves. Continue reading “Visibility Conundrums of Being Queer”

For My Cousin, On Her 18th Birthday

Because you are awesome.
Happy 18th Birthday!

Dear Nikki,

As you turn 18, you make me feel both old and grateful I am not your age. I’m turning 30 this year, and having watched you grow up, I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would say to my 18-year-old self. I’ve been thinking a lot about you and the changes that are approaching you in your life. I know we’re not the closest, and I am probably your “weird cousin” — I’m many people’s “weird ___” in our family — but here’s my unsolicited birthday advice for you as you head off on your next journey.

Go to college.

Seriously, just do it.

Do what you love.

When in college, don’t pick a major because that’s what will get you a job. Or that’s what your parents want you to do. Or that’s what your teachers think you’re good at. Or that’s what the cute boy’s majoring in. Instead, do what you love. Find something where your homework’s not work, that you can lose yourself in for hours, that you want to learn about outside the classroom, that you can “geek out” about anytime you’re prompted. Only you can find that.

You won’t know what you’re going to major in or what you’re going to do when you grow up.

And you’re not alone. When I was a college n00b, I thought I was the only one without a major, and then as a senior, I tutored a bunch of freshies. Not a single one really knew what they were going to major in. That’s okay. It’s also okay to not have a 5-year plan or know what you want to do when you grow up. It took me at least 2-3 years into my career before I found what I loved. Heck, my current career, as a community manager, didn’t even exist my first year of college, and the greater industry that I’m part of, just got started then.

Prepare to fight to do what you love.

Continue reading “For My Cousin, On Her 18th Birthday”

Books Nominated for 2013 Hugo Awards!

Huzzah! Both Chicks Dig Comics and Chicks Unravel Time, which I contributed to, are nominated for Hugo Awards. Congratulations to the editors, all the writers, and to everyone else who also contributed to these books.

Ironically, both are nominated for the same award, in the Best Related Work category. Both are rad books and products of the love and hard work of everyone involved. I don’t think I’ll be making it out for the awards in person, but will be celebrating all the fun with everyone else online as they’ll be streaming it.

Buy Chicks Dig Comics and buy Chicks Unravel Time, and then you too can party along. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Chicks Dig Comics and Unravel Time
Whoo! Both books nominated for Hugo Awards.

How the Great Wall Mall Saved Me

Great Wall Mall
Black and white classes up the Great Wall Mall. Photo by Camknows.
My third week at my first job out of college was one of those rare Puget Sound days where it was actually hot. Our office was packed with everyone on the second floor, where the air didn’t move. There wasn’t air conditioning or, as I discovered in the winter, heat. And I had cramps. Not little ones, big ones.

I was ready to spork my lady parts.

The web team consisted of lots of men. Men who carried wallets, not purses, and didn’t care or wanted to pretend to live in a world without periods. I didn’t know anyone in the other departments, which had women in them. I only new the web team and developers. Surrounded on all sides by a sausage fest.

I turned to my skill set, and I googled for the nearest Safeway. Even though I didn’t know the area, it was close enough. Only really two turns. I didn’t know where the printer was. I still don’t know if I would’ve had access to it anyway.

So I made a mental note — I’m not sure I even had notepaper — and took off in my ’83 Volvo that liked to stall out at stop lights.

This was the first time I’d left the office since I started. Continue reading “How the Great Wall Mall Saved Me”

Thank You, GeekGirlCon

For two weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out how to write this post. What can I even say that would sum up the last two and a half years of my life. How to wrap it up eloquently and make what I write be read in the best light possible.

GeekGirlCon bruch
Us toasting the success of GeekGirlCon ’12

Last Monday was my final day as Director of Marketing for GeekGirlCon. I know this is probably a bit shocking, especially for those of you who know my passion for the organization and feminist activism.

Since August 2010, when GeekGirlCon had its first fateful meeting, I’ve poured my time, energy, and know how into helping make GeekGirlCon the amazing organization it is today and helping build the foundation for the greater future. I made many conscious decisions to put different parts of my life on hold or, in some cases, neglect them. I served most of my time with GeekGirlCon as both President and Director of Marketing, juggling the two roles, and then since November, only as Director of Marketing.

(If you haven’t met GeekGirlCon’s new Executive Director Amanda, you should, as she’s awesome and helping take GeekGirlCon to its next step.)

For anyone who’s gone the entrepreneurship route, whether starting a business on your own, as a group, or just helping out, it’s a ton of work. And GeekGirlCon was no different — just as needy and rewarding. Though GeekGirlCon solely is a labor of love as all positions on staff are 100% volunteer roles.

As our first convention in October 2011 rolled around, I had to convince my mother to come help out. She didn’t really understand what we were doing. All she knew was that I hadn’t come to see her in a long time, rarely had time to talk on the phone, and when we did connect, I kept talking about this GeekGirlCon thing obsessively. But when the doors opened on October 8th — where she helped at the registration desk — she “got it” as she told me later. My mom understood what we trying to do, how big it was, and most importantly, for our relationship, why I hadn’t come to visit. She even came back for GeekGirlCon ’12 with my stepfather in tow.

Of course, visiting my mom wasn’t the only thing I’ve purposefully put off. Continue reading “Thank You, GeekGirlCon”

Life Goals 2.9

A lot has changed in the past month. 2012 was a hard year where I reached my limit of many things and figured out what I could and couldn’t deal with. More importantly, what I wanted to deal with. I learned who my friends were and what work, important or otherwise, it was time to pass along to others.

If you are lucky to find a way of life you love, you have to find the courage to live it. - John Irving

As of December 1st, I am no longer GeekGirlCon’s president. There are long, complex reasons for this; some which involve things that make me frown and others that involve letting the baby bird fly on its own. I’m still involved in the organization as Director of Marketing. And I think the current reoganization and new leadership will bring a breath of fresh air.

You also may remember that in 2012 I broke off a 5-year relationship (and didn’t tell anyone for 6 months) and had a large redefinition of my job (which I love my new job duties).

That said, as I turned 29 this year, I realized that most of my life goals had been accomplished to one end or another. I’ve:

  • Been published in a book (twice, Chicks Dig Comics and Chicks Unravel Time).
  • Made a large, activist impact on the world to better it for women and other marginalized groups (GeekGirlCon).
  • Helped get a business off the ground and successfully ran it (GeekGirlCon).
  • Lived on my own in Seattle and am able to comfortably support myself.
  • Work at SEOmoz.
  • Love my paying job (SEOmoz).

Those are pretty big things. Maybe some of them I’ll do again, but they’ll probably have a different twist on them and take a different form. Continue reading “Life Goals 2.9”

Out Today: Chicks Unravel Time!

Chicks Unravel Time

I’m pleased to announce that Chicks Unravel Time is out today, featuring my essay “How the Cold War Killed the Fifth Doctor.” I’m super excited to be featured in another Mad Norwegian Press book. A big thank you to Deborah Stanish and L.M. Myles for their excellent work wrangling all of us authors and editing the book. Chicks Unravel Time features 34 Doctor Who essays spanning from Season One all the way to Matt Smith and his bowtie.

Obviously, you should buy this book. Or buy on Powells since they have it in stock.

And you should like its Facebook page and if you’re in Massachusetts or Chicago, there are signings. (Which this Seattleite is going to have to miss.) Also sign up for the giveaway and read the reviews from SFX and the Examiner. And follow the tag on Tumblr.

My essay features Season 21 and Peter Davison’s Fifth Doctor. Before I wrote this essay, I didn’t have a favorite Doctor. In fact, most Doctor Who seasons, both new and old, I’d seen, the Doctor had been my least favorite character. Then I spent my last holiday season jamming with the Fifth Doctor and watching him with his celery stalk. The Fifth Doctor definitely become my favorite as he’s the nicest Doctor around. I also got to talk a little bit about the Cold War, which for many years was another obsession of mine. (Doctor Who‘s just a more fun topic to talk about in public, and you get less made fun of. ๐Ÿ˜‰ )

My copies haven’t arrived in the mail yet. But I’m super excited to dig into them as Mad Norwegian Press books have been super awesome.

Happy National Coming Out Day, Friends

Me at Gay Pride with GeekGirlCon friends. (I'm Wonder Woman in the middle.)

Today I’ve been pondering a lot about two conversations I had yesterday with two different friends. Conversations that were intense with feelings and deeply personal and all about coming out and being queer in America today.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m queer (bisexual, pansexual, bi-romantic lesbian, insert your label here) — for those of you who’ve known me for years and didn’t know, I’m a little shocked too (in that you didn’t know) — as I’ve been out for 13 years. Out to the varying degrees that one is in varying different situations and settings. The first time I came out may have been to my childhood best friend, a few months after he came out to me; but when everyone assumes you’re straight, coming out never ends. A toast to all those brave enough to come out and a wish of bravery for those who haven’t.

Yesterday, my first conversation was with a queer friend, who’s more recently come out. We chatted about dating; about the women that we love but live so far away; about family, those who love us, reject us, are in the middle; about being out; about those kindred spirits who befriend us and those who knew long before we could say it; about conversations with others — who we’d never talk to about “those issues” — that left us wondering; and about the wonder of just being who we are, no apologies or remorse. Our emotions went on the roller-coaster from laughing to regret and sadness to happiness. But I was always glad to have someone to talk with, someone else to understand.

My second conversation was with a straight friend, who’s a big ally. Our conversation was more about the personal being political, about the R74 vote (gay marriage in WA). We talked a lot about how the two-party system in the US doesn’t have any real political differences, except when you get down to the “you’re a baby killer” (pro-choice Dems) and the “you’re a bigot” (anti-gay rights Reps) and how deep a nerve that hits. Nerves that run way deeper than “let’s argue about tax policies that we probably don’t fully understand.” About the privilege associated with being able to pick to vote on the economy, taxes, or who’s sexiest. About this article, which is essentially the story of really understanding that privilege and maybe choosing not to vote on the economy.

We’re a nation of storytellers, and this is part of my story. This is why when I’m not alone, writing in my apartment, I may get incoherent. This is why I get angry and why I might get upset with you. I truly do believe that everyone has the patriotic duty to vote and that everyone should vote for the candidate who they think would do the best job. I believe that political differences are healthy and debates should flourish to be more than incoherent rantings. I believe that both Obama and Romney are running from President because they love America and believe that their ideas are the best for the country, which is an extremely American thing to do. I don’t think I should get so mad I want to cry when trying to explain why I’m passionate about “queer lady issues” as a queer lady.

I think a lot about what’s happened since I came out (the good, bad, and in-between). I think of how my mom told that she didn’t want me to be gay because she didn’t want me to get hurt by the world. I think about how in these past 13 years, I couldn’t imagine not being out and how uncomfortable I’ve been in situations where I’ve chosen not to speak up. Civil rights are the personal as political. And today, this is what’s happening. This is me.