Posted by: Sotto Voce | March 11, 2012

dangerous memories

It happened when I was three – maybe four – years old.  I don’t remember all the details, but I remember enough to know that (1) it happened repeatedly; and (2) I have not imagined the long-term effects on me.

I remember a room with a big bed.  It’s not my room at home, but it’s not unfamiliar.  The room is decorated with roses and, to my young mind, old-fashioned.  As I peruse the memories, the adult in me says that the room is decorated in a Victorian fashion, although I know the child that I was would not have recognized it so.  Remembering, the adult in me sees the wrought iron bedstead, the roses, the frilly lampshades, the lace, and I try to classify and bring order to what was there.

I hear him in the hall, and I pretend to be asleep.  Maybe, if he thinks I’m sleeping, he won’t come to me.  Maybe, if I’m quiet, he won’t notice me this time.  As I try to control my breathing, I think that, maybe he’ll forget me tonight.  My back to the door, I look at the moon out the window, through the lacy curtains and hope, imagining a life far away, on that cool grey surface.  As the rain hits the window pane, I hear the giant willow tree crying, with its friendly fingered leaves, whose shadows seem to stroke my face in comfort.

Soon, though, I hear him creeping towards me.  I hear the door shut quietly, and I clench myself down low, knowing what’s going to happen.  The window is slightly open tonight, and the lacy curtains flutter in the wet breeze.  I look up at the moon and shivering pray, ‘Please, not again.’

My heart pounding, I feel him sit on the bed beside me.  He places what he hopes is a calming hand on my head, and I stiffen in anticipation.  As his hand strokes down my body, I hear him murmur, “It’s alright, darling,” but somehow, I know he’s not talking to me.  I lay boneless, and pretend I’m sleeping.  I’ve learned it’s easier that way.    If I look up at him or try to speak, he gets angry, and shoves my face into the pillow.  If I fight, if I tell him, ‘NO!’, it makes him hurt me worse.  “You’re not allowed to say ‘no,'” he tells me.

I’ve learned that he knows if I’m awake, but somehow, my pretending, my unresisting body is what he wants, so I don’t destroy his illusion.  I am facing toward the window, and I watch the moon as he crawls under the covers behind me.  He holds my body to him, as if to protect me, and molds the front of his body to my back.  I try my best to not stiffen, but I’m scared, and as he rubs his hands down my front, my side, he notices.

He’s been kissing my neck tenderly, but I feel the sudden change in him, and I stiffen, knowing what’s coming next.  “Why can’t you love me?!” he says as he jerks my nightgown up.  I lay still and uncooperative as he tries to pull my panties down, whispering, “I’d give you everything, but you hate me!”

Feeling as if my backside has been lit on fire, in my mind, I escape out the window, beneath the long branches of the willow, hiding from any who would see me.  I feel hot tears running down my face, and look up at the moon, begging for a way out of this life.

In my memories, my adult mind can make sense of this, and say,”It’s not your fault, Judi!  It wasn’t about you!”  But my body remembers too, and as my lover reaches for me in the night, some 40 years later, I still tend to clench down low, and feel an apprehension, and a hope of ‘Please, not again.’  And I try with all my might to keep from escaping this life.

Posted by: Sotto Voce | February 23, 2011

On ‘Parenthood’

The impetus for this writing is the NBC television show “Parenthood”, but the subject of this blog goes much deeper than that for me.  I have several weekly shows that I DVR, and watch on a regular basis.  This show is the only one that brings me to tears regularly.  In this show, I see so much of myself, of my family, and I *hurt* for the characters in the show, but even more so, I regularly hurt for me.

I sit here tonight, tears running down my face after watching the last two weeks’ episodes.  It is not so much the show, but the topics, the feelings, emotions and similarities in my own life, that make me need to watch this show every week.  My husband can’t watch it.  He can’t stand how the characters continually talk over each other, and he can’t keep up with who is saying what.  This, however, is one of the things that makes the show more real to me.  Most television is so scripted, with characters taking their appropriate turns, and no one talking over another character.  This show feels, to me, more like real life than much of what is shown on television today.  Here, we find a bunch of flawed characters searching to find touchstones with each other; fighting, loving, and coming to grips with each other in a way that I wish I could with my husband, with my kids.  In so many ways, the characters in this program are the people I know, the people I am, and those who I long to be.

I started watching ‘Parenthood’ on a whim.  A former student of mine posted on Facebook that his band had a song that played in the background on the pilot episode, so I watched, in support of my student.  From that very first episode, I was hooked.  It’s about a family who lives in Berkeley (near my old stomping grounds in Santa Cruz, CA).  The show centers around 4 grown siblings (2 brothers, 2 sisters), all with children and/or spouses of their own, and their parents.  The patriarch (Zeke, played by Craig T. Nelson) reminds me so much of my own dad that I often laugh out loud.  He’s bull-headed, set in his ways, deeply flawed, and yet loves his family for all he’s worth.  The eldest son (Adam)  and his wife have a teen-aged daughter, and a younger son with Aspergers’ Syndrome.  Since both of my sons are Aspies, too, I often find myself relating with their struggles.  The program shows them going through some of the very things that my husband and I have struggled with in the last several years.  Tonight, I watched as Max (the kid) overheard that he has Aspergers’ and started asking what that meant.  I remember those same conversations with my own 8-year old son, and I hurt for these fictional parents.  Explaining this to a young boy in a way that encourages who he is, and doesn’t make him feel  ‘disabled’ is a difficult task.  Next week’s episode will show how they deal with explaining this to Max.

Adam’s younger brother is portrayed as a free-spirited bachelor, recently engaged to a woman (the father of his 6 year old son, who he only recently found out about).  This brother, Crosby, is portrayed as the perpetual screw-up of the family.  Everyone accepts him for who he is, but knows that he hasn’t reached his potential.  His fiancée, Jasmine, is uber-controlling, and they struggle to find a middle ground to raise their son, and to find out who they want to be as a family.  I’m ashamed to say that I see so much of myself in Jasmine.  She seems to me a portrayal of myself in my late-20s (minus the kid and the artistic talent).  She takes charge of everything, and doesn’t give her lover the chance to prove himself capable of even the smallest of tasks.  I watch her and pray that I’ve let my own husband grow beyond the person I tried to stifle him to be.

The sisters represent parts of me that I long to be.  The younger sister is a successful lawyer, with a young daughter, and looking to have another child.  In her, I see what I sometimes feel that I should have become.  The successful career, balanced with motherhood.  I was the teenager that everyone assumed would be successful like that.  I was the kid voted Most-Likely-to-Succeed in high school.   Life turned out differently for me, though, and I constantly struggle with the thoughts of “what could have been”.

The older sister is more of the screw-up.  For some reason, I seem to identify with her more than the younger sister.   Sarah (the older sister) fell in love with, married, had children with, and eventually divorced, a drug-addict who travels with his rock band.  She’s terrified that her children, now teenagers, will find their father’s lifestyle more romantic and fun, and she tries her damnedest to protect them from that.  In spite of their father’s come-and-go presence in their lives, they seem to have understood her message, and are, at the core ‘good kids’.

If you’ve never watched ‘Parenthood’, I suggest you try it.  I find it to be an amazing show, full of true-to-life characters in everyday types of situation.   You may find that, like my hubby, you can’t stand these people, and the confusing way in which they interact.  Or you may find, like I have, a range of characters that portray not only who you are, but who you wish to be in life.

 

I am convinced that “exercise” is one of those 4-letter Anglo-Saxon words that got latinized into a more acceptable form, but now we’ve forgotten the original “offensive” Anglo-Saxon word, so that is much harder to prove.
I hatehatehate, abhor, despise, and generally cannot tolerate sweating. Which makes most forms of exercise fall into the same category. Sweating is gross. It makes me stink. It makes my clothes stink. It stains my clothes in a way that only very expensive (and therefore, unaffordable) products can help said clothes look normal again. It stains clothes in places that I did not even realize I had sweat glands.
Sweating, in spite of the fact that it’s designed to cool the skin, makes me even hotter. This has been proven, yet again, in recent years by peri-menopause and the emergence of “night-sweats”… I can be laying in bed, minding my own damn business by sleeping (the *nerve*!) and wake up, over-heated, in a pool of my own sweat. My jammies are soaked, as are my pillow and sheets; my gosh-darned mattress is soaked. Soooo not fair. I didn’t even get to have the “enjoyment” of doing anything remotely related to causing my body to sweat. I was frigging *sleeping*, for goodness sake!
In high school, my “exercises of choice” involved swimming. I was on the water polo and swim teams. I could still sweat, but who noticed this in water that was generally colder than my body temperature. Not that I was any good at any of this; who cared! I was still grossly overweight, and came in last in every race I competed in; who cared! My water polo coach consigned me to the J.V. team, and never played me in game; who cared! I consoled my teenaged mind by saying that I was an “athlete”, and everyone knew that “athlete” must be equal to “jock”, and “jocks” were cool, therefore I must also therefore, by the associative properties I’d learned in my Advanced Algebra class, be cool. High school popularity does not in any way, shape or form, follow any sort of logical reasoning, though, and I was still the fat kid who was on the water polo and swim teams, but never actually competed, and was definitely UNpopular.
All of this, and the reflection upon it, has led to this, my current, adult philosophy toward exercise: fuck it… if this body was meant to be fit, I wouldn’t gain two pounds every time I looked at a picture of a donut.

Posted by: Sotto Voce | February 13, 2011

“I beseech Thee, O Lord…”

This blog is about Corporate Prayer in the Christian setting. It may seem an odd topic. My husband recently wrote something on his blog that got me thinking along these lines. (See http://bjanecarp.wordpress.com/2011/02/11/thank-you-god-for-wide-ties/)I was going to comment on his blog, but then discovered that I had a lot more to say on the topic than is decent in a comment on someone else’s blog.
I grew up in a family that claimed a Southern Baptist background, although we weren’t regular church-goers. We might go to the occasional Easter Cantata, or to a Christmas Eve service. My dad had a cousin in a neighboring town that often sang in such events, and we would go to see her. Even as a small child, I enjoyed these church services, because they seemed to hint at filling a space in my heart that felt empty. I longed to feel like I belonged, and I longed to be loved for who I was. At the age of 13, I started attending a Bible study for teenagers, and was – as they say – “saved”. Soon after, I started attending the church pastored by the Bible study leader, a non-denominational church in the charismatic/holiness tradition. I eventually moved into a leadership position at the church; I attended there for over 10 years, until I moved away to Bible college, at the age of 23.
Since then, I’ve spent 20 years studying, living and working at evangelical Christian colleges and universities. In addition, I’ve attended a number of churches of various denominations, either as a member, on staff, or as a guest of a member: Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, Catholic, Assemblies of God, Unitarian, Lutheran, Greek Orthodox, Seventh Day Adventist, Mennonite Brethren, Episcopal… I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few.
A regular part of studies at many faith-based colleges/universities is the Chapel Service. This is a service, similar to a church service, but given the name of “chapel”, since the university is not a church. Depending on the school, chapel may be held on a daily basis, or a weekly basis, or somewhere in between. The Bible college I attended, Bethany College of the Assemblies of God, held daily services during the week, and students were allowed up to 15 “chapel cuts” per 15-week semester, to allow for illness, or work schedule changes, or those who had to pull an all-nighter to finish a paper, and couldn’t make it out of bed in time for the morning service. Additionally, many Bible colleges have other services throughout the year, prayer services, special speakers, etc.
All of this is to say that I do not consider myself a church “expert”, but I think I can claim to be “experienced” in many different kinds of Christian church services.
Corporate prayer, in the Christian setting, as I’ve experienced it, has never quite suited me; it often seems too structured, and focus often seems to be more on the words of the prayer (or even on the person praying) than on devotion. There may or may not be a preceding time of “silent prayer”, which never seems long enough for me to pray more than a few simple thoughts, before we move on to the next phase, led by one or more prayer-speakers. During this phase, depending on the denomination, the congregation may remain silent or they may be expected to mumble — or even shout — agreements with an “Amen”, “Hallelujah”, or “Thank you, Lord”, etc., etc. The content is often more supplication than devotion or praise. I’ve been in services where the prayers even seem gossipy. (“Lord, we pray for Brother So-And-So, who was recently seen at a neighborhood bar, smoking and drinking alcohol with a woman who is not his wife. Please bring him back to the fold.”) There may be a group recitation (spoken or sung), such as the Lord’s Prayer, the Doxology, or one of the Creeds. While many may have put thought into these memorized words, some probably don’t, and it’s a rote part of the service, intended to give the masses something to do in the midst of the service, so that they don’t get too bored. For me, all of this often leaves me feeling that something is missing.
Of all of the chapel services I attended while I was associated with Christian universities – and I just did the math, there were easily over a thousand, even accounting for chapel cuts and flaky days – I think that my favorite chapel was a Faculty/Staff Chapel at Bethany that was led by my dear friend, Claire Strasbaugh of the English Department faculty. Claire is of theReligious Society of Friends (more commonly known as “Quakers”). She led us in a Friends’-style prayer meeting. After a brief introduction to explain the structure of the meeting, she led us into corporate prayer, which consisted of about 20 minutes of silent prayer, while we all sat in our places in the circle of chairs she’d set up prior to the start of the meeting. No prostrating oneself, no kneeling, no histrionics. Just simply a time dedicated to being peaceful in the presence of God, and talking to Him without the distraction of having to listen in on others’ conversations. This is a vastly different experience from what most of the attendees at this Pentecostal college were used to. For me, it was the most moving prayer service I’ve ever participated in. I was free to be me, and to communicate with my God, in my way.
I don’t think that everyone in attendance felt the same, though, because I did notice a lot of shifting about in chairs, those little awkward noises that folks make when they’re nervous and not quite sure of what they’re supposed to be doing. Afterwards, I spoke to a few people who admitted polite interest, but were obviously uncomfortable with the concept of silent corporate prayer. It seemed that without a prayer-in-chief putting voice to what we should be praying for, some folks seemed a bit lost, and felt as if they hadn’t really prayed at all.
It made me a bit sad to realize that, for many people, corporate prayer by definition seems to mean that one person is responsible for praying, while the rest of the group function as listeners or agree-ers. For many of us, it seems that, with the exception of the individual speaking their prayer aloud, corporate prayer is a passive activity; that makes me very sad, indeed.

Posted by: Sotto Voce | January 17, 2011

The “Perfect” Family, part one

I come from a fairly long string of folks who were addicted to one thing or another. Booze, cigarettes, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, sex, pornography… our family has seen all of that and more. And the ones I know about only go back to my grandparents’ generation.
Of course, I didn’t realize all of this growing up. My realization dawned slowly as I entered adulthood, and I began to worry about what addiction would capture me. When I was 19, I was working my way through school. One of my several jobs was as a sign language interpreter, and was hired to interpret for someone who was court-ordered to attend weekly Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. I was mostly unfamiliar with AA, having heard about it on TV, but was given a briefing by my employer that everyone attending and everything that happened at these meetings was strictly confidential. I didn’t think this would be a problem, since that is pretty much the same code of ethics interpreters had to follow.
At the first of these meetings, I saw our next-door neighbor, my dad’s best friend and drinking buddy, a man who was like an uncle to me. I was thrown for a loop. As I sat there interpreting his testimony and the rest of the meeting, I felt like I’d been kicked in the gut. As a child, I’d spent many nights either had his house or at ours, watching my dad go drink for drink with him. This wasn’t my idea of an alcoholic. He was a successful lawyer and community leader. Aren’t alcoholics supposed to be people who couldn’t hold down a job? Alcoholics weren’t professionals who raised families and lived in middle class neighborhoods, after all. By the next morning, though, I had begun worrying about my dad… was he an alcoholic, too? What exactly did that mean if not a dirty, stinky man who spent his nights trolling from bar to bar?
So I did what I always do when I want to learn more about a topic: I researched it. I checked out books from my college library, and the city library (this was in the pre-internet days… at least for most common folk). I bought some books from the bookstore where I worked part-time. After interpreting a few months of meetings and doing my reading, but keeping all of it to myself, I’d read enough to be worried about my dad; and I’d read enough to know that some doctors believed that alcoholism might be genetic. Finally, with no one else to talk to, I approached my pastor and his wife, who also happened to be good friends that I could trust to tell me the truth, without sugar-coating, and would treat me like an adult instead of a teenager. I told them about being hired to interpret the AA meetings and about seeing this long time friend there. I told them about the research I’d been doing, and about my concern for my dad. And finally, I asked, “Do you think my dad is an alcoholic?” It’s one of those scenes from my life that has been etched into my brain: we were sitting in Taco Bell, me across the booth from the two of them. Rich, was about to take a bite of his taco, and stopped it mid-way to his mouth, with a look of pity on his face. Linda, though, laughed – not cruelly, but, somehow, comfortingly – put her hand on mine, and said, “Honey, of course he is.” It was an epiphany for me. It was the first truly grown-up moment of my life.
Some six months later, I told my brother, who is 2 years older than me. By this time, he had moved away to go to school about four hours away. He was in the midst of finding himself, finding his God and becoming a minister. He denied it at first; it would take him a few years to accept the fact that, in spite of my mother’s tireless efforts to try to make our family ‘seem’ normal, that there was a deep dysfunction hidden there. By the time I talked to him, I had devoured every resource I could find on alcoholism and growing up as a child of an alcoholic. I was terrified for my father, and knowing that there might be some genetic link, for me and my brother. I had tried to approach my mother at one point, telling her that I’d seen our neighbor at the AA meetings I interpreted, and that I was worried about Dad. Her response was, “You’re not supposed to tell who you saw at those meetings; I don’t want to hear any more.” When I pushed her, she said that she didn’t think our friend was an alcoholic, since alcoholics were always dirty bums who drank cheap booze out of paper bags, and slept in the gutter. She said she didn’t believe that he was an alcoholic, nor did she believe that my Dad was, and that I was an ungrateful daughter for even thinking so, since he’d provided for me all my life. She made me feel ashamed, even though I knew that I was right and that she was in denial.
Through all of this, my relationship with my dad deteriorated. For all my life, I’ve been told that I’m just like him in temperament. We both have very short fuses, are both head-strong and stubborn, and we both like to argue. We’d fought through most of my teenage years. By this point in my young life, I had started to form my own opinions about things, and would stand up for myself, and it seemed that my dad and I were always on opposite sides of whatever we fought about. Although he hadn’t physically fought with me for several years by this time, we would yell and scream at each other until I stormed out in tears. Dad was (and still is) of the opinion that children are best seen and not heard. Now, some twenty-five years later, I have no idea what we fought about, but at the time I know that we said awful, hurtful things to each other. He would always end whatever argument with the proclamation that, as long as I lived under his roof, he was responsible for me and I’d abide by his rules. So in the summer of my nineteenth year, for his forty-eighth birthday, I gave him the best present I could think of: I moved out, telling him that since I was no longer living under his roof, he was no longer responsible for me.
TO BE CONTINUED….

Posted by: Sotto Voce | January 9, 2011

Titrating

I’ve said here before that I suffer from chronic depression. I’ve been on various medications for about 12 years now, and I know that it is the meds that keep me in some semblance of balance. Several months ago, my doctor and I decided that it was time to switch me to a new med. He switched me from Cymbalta to Wellbutrin. In general, it’s been a good move. Within a week, I had noticed my moods improving and my feeling of control returning, so I think it was a good decision.

The problem is that, as with so many anti-depressants, the withdrawal from the old med takes a long time. He immediately started me on the full dose of the new med, and had me change to taking the old med to every other day. After a month of that, he decreased the dosage of the old med by half, and said I should take them every other day for a week, but should be able to stop them completely after that. He gave me extra, though, and told me to hold on to them just in case I started to have withdrawal symptoms. That was 4 months ago, and I’m still having withdrawal symptoms. I’m down to taking a 1/3 of my prior dose every 2 to 3 days. It worries me that the withdrawal symptoms still keep sneaking up on me and surprising me. The symptoms usually start with a general sense of unease, or maybe anxiety, or even just melancholy that I can’t really attribute to anything in particular. Sometimes, I get a really, really bad headache. Sometimes, like today, I start getting achy in my joints, like I feel when I have the flu. At this point, I know that if I don’t take a pill, by tomorrow morning, I’ll be getting the zaps. That’s the worst: it feels like random jolts of electricity going through my brain and eyes. Not really painful, but disconcerting, and it often makes me feel like I’m observing my life from outside of my own body. When they’re really bad, the zaps get to my neck and shoulders, too. If I let it go this far, I usually feel like I’m wearing all of my emotions outside of my skin, and that the slightest of events can set me off in a fit of sadness, or anger, or fear. I hate feeling like this; I can’t work or really function in public when I feel this way, and feel like I should sequester myself in my room to protect my family from potential outbursts.

Part of me wishes I could just ignore the symptoms and plow through to get off of the old med. I know that the withdrawal symptoms will continue until I get all of the Cymbalta out of my system. I understand enough about the physiology of what’s happening to know that my brain and my body have created a physical dependency on it, and are punishing me for taking it away. It still makes me feel like I’m going crazy, though.

Posted by: Sotto Voce | January 8, 2011

Why ‘Sotto Voce’?

Some folks have asked me, “Why Sotto Voce?” In Latin, the phrase literally means “under voice”. In literature, sotto voce is used to indicate an aside that is not to be heard by the other characters, but shared between the speaker and the reader. In music, sotto voce is a dramatic lowering of volume for effect; it grabs the listeners’ attention and makes them work harder to hear what’s happening. Wikipedia gives a good definition of ways that it is used, if you’re interested.
For me, I feel that I live much of my life “under voice.” It may be part of my introverted and/or passive-aggressive nature, but often find myself in situations where I know that I have valuable information to add, but feel that my opinion won’t be valued by those around me. And, although I want my good ideas to be applauded, I tend to shy away from putting the spotlight on myself, fearing that I’ll make a fool of myself. So I end up making an aside to the person next to me, hoping that he or she will see the value of my comment and bring it to the attention of the crowd. {By the way, this isn’t really an effective strategy, unless you are next to someone who has a strong enough personality to put themselves into the limelight.}
As a child, I was always at the top of my class, and made straight A grades, graduating high school as my class valedictorian. From the reactions and comments of my teachers, I realized that I didn’t think the same way as my peers and they nurtured my critical thinking skills. Outside of the classroom, though, this brought me a lot of heartache. While my inherent shyness kept me from speaking out when I was around any peers except for my closest friends, at home, I would often get myself into debates with my parents that led to trouble. I wasn’t mature enough to understand that my father, especially, believes that children are to be seen and not heard, and that while I (in all my teenaged glory) felt that I was no longer a child, he still viewed me as his little girl. I am very much like him in personality, though my opinionated outbursts conflicted with his beliefs more often than not. During my teen years, we fell into a pattern where we would subconsciously goad each other into arguments. Nearly every conversation about anything but the most mundane of subjects ended up in an argument. And arguments always ended up with me saying something that would flare his anger to the point where he slapped, hit or kicked me and sent me to my room in sobbing fits of rage.
This taught me that my thoughts, opinions and words were not to be valued, and so I began to keep them to myself. When I get myself into situations where I absolutely must voice what I’m thinking, I tend to do so in inappropriate ways, using asides, or later confiding one-on-one in a manner that makes it seem either snarky or unimportant.
For me http://sottovoce1.wordpress.com/ is a place where, while still in a relatively quiet manner, I can voice my thoughts and opinions in a more healthy way.

Posted by: Sotto Voce | January 2, 2011

Write/Right/Rite

2011… that sometimes blows my mind.  I remember growing up and thinking that the twenty-first century was way in the future, and here we are, a decade in, and all I have to say is “Where the hell is my hover car?”

I hate New Year’s Resolutions, because I think that self-improvement is something that we need to address on a daily basis, not just at the turn of the year.  However, since this promise to myself occurred around the time of the turning of the year, I’ll call it a “resolution”.  2011 will be a year where I commit myself to writing more.  It may be here on this blog; it may be that I finally start writing the great American novel that’s been rolling around in my head for years; or it may just be that I start writing letters to friends and family.  But I will try to write on a daily basis.

So there.

Posted by: Sotto Voce | June 5, 2010

I Am…

I am a mother of teen-aged sons, a wife for 17 years, a daughter and a sister all my life.  I am 42 years old.  I am the youngest of two children.  I am a great employee, a pretty good supervisor, and the ultimate team player.  I am not a natural leader, but a pretty darn good one when forced to be.   I am a volunteer.  I am a loyal friend.   I am a native Californian, transplanted to Virginia.  I am peri-menopausal.

I am a parent of – and consequently a constant advocate for – autistic individuals.

I am a big, beautiful woman.  I am morbidly obese.  I am a Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass patient.  I am a curly girl.  I am blonde, but I am not dumb.  I am Anglo-Scottish-Irish-German-American.  I am clumsy and accident-prone.   I am plagued by a recurrent depressive disorder and a generalized anxiety disorder.

I am an adult child of an alcoholic.  I am an addictive personality.  I am a survivor of sexual abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and workplace harassment.  I am recovering from Christianity and Pentecostalism.  I am a victim no more.

I am a grammar geek.  I am an English Literature major.  I am an avid student of English, Scottish, Irish and British history and literature.  I am a fan of cheesy supernatural romance novels.  I am well-read.

I am a college financial aid officer.  I am a software analyst and a business analyst.  I am a writer and an editor.  I am an American Sign Language interpreter.  I am an educator.

I am an introvert by nature, but force myself ‘out there,’ so people rarely realize this about me.   I am a wallflower when I’m tired.  I am a verbal processor, and by nature gregarious.  I am funny, sarcastic and generally both optimistic and pessimistic at the same time; I am a realist.  I am sometimes melodramatic.  I am a horrible housekeeper.

I am a former marching band geek, a clarinetist, and a xylophonist.  I am a mediocre singer.  I am a fan of show tunes.  I am a Gleek.   I am a Beatle-phile, and a lover of Brit Invasion Rock music, and old school Rock.  I am a picker, a grinner, lover and a sinner, but I am not a joker, smoker, nor a midnight toker.

I am a lover of coffee, wine and chocolate, though not necessarily all at once.  I am slow to anger and quick to forgive.   I am a progressive Democrat, and generally supportive of President Obama.

I am intolerant of prejudice and prejudiced against intolerance.

I am a complex and complicated individual.

I am me.

Posted by: Sotto Voce | May 29, 2010

Hello world!

So, this is my first post.  Well, my first one on wordpress.  I’ve blogged previously (briefly) in other places, but never before here.  And those others were all mainly for friends and family.  This one isn’t; this one’s for me.  This is meant to be my outlet.  I need a place to write out my thoughts, feelings, rants; generally a place to verbally process the things happening in my life.

Brief (or maybe not so brief?)  Bio…

I’m a female in my early 40s.  I grew up in a town of about 100K people, but the place thinks it’s a small town.  It’s a conservative farming community in central California, which means that (at the time I grew up there at least), it was a majority white community with a lot of migrant workers and “poor ethnics”.  (Please realize my tongue is placed firmly in my cheek here; even though I grew up as a middle-class white girl among extremely prejudiced people, I never understood why such divisions were necessary. This will be a topic on this blog in the not so distant future…)  I hated it there.  Although at the time, I thought I was a conservative Republican – if only because that’s what my parents were, and I didn’t dare go against their wishes! – I later realized that I could actually think for myself, and that my views didn’t really correspond with those around me.  I felt like a freak there.

My family seemed the typical white, middle class family with two kids and a dog.  My older brother played football in high school, so we went to all the games.  High school football is a big deal in a small town.  I, however, didn’t enjoy sports.  I hate to sweat, and have struggled with weight problems all my life.  I was on the water polo and swim teams, not so much because I was any good, but because I tried really hard, and was good at cheering on my teammates.  I was voted “Most Inspirational Player” several times, but I never made it past the junior varsity team.  I was a leader in band, though.  We had a pretty large band at my high school, but we were still considered geeks unless we also happened to be jocks.  I played clarinet and xylophone in both the marching and concert bands, and was first chair clarinet for two years.  I was also a straight-A student in high school, and was one of 3 valedictorians.  This only added to my freaky geekiness.

My parents will definitely be subjects of future posts.  Dad is an abusive alcoholic and Mom is the classic enabler who has spent all of her adult life trying to cover up the fact that her family isn’t perfect.  I have a *lot* of mommy and daddy issues.  Although I got straight As in school, never had to call my folks from the police station, didn’t get myself pregnant before I was married, and only got called into the principal’s office once, I grew up believing that I was a disappointment to my parents.  We fought constantly, especially my father and me.  He didn’t believe that children should have opinions of their own, but unfortunately for me, I did.  When I was 19, I gave my dad the best birthday present I could think of:  I moved out from under his roof so he wouldn’t have to be responsible for me anymore.  He was thrilled.  I suffer from chronic clinical depression, which is both a nature and a nurture issue for me (more to come on that subject, too…)

I moved away from that town as soon as I could, which wasn’t until I was 23.  That’s when I moved to Santa Cruz, California, which is what I consider my true home town.  Here, for the first time, I found people who didn’t necessarily think the color of a person’s skin mattered as much as what they did and who they were inside their skin.  In Santa Cruz, I found that people didn’t always believe every word that came out of their pastor’s mouth, or every word printed in the newspaper.  In Santa Cruz, I found that people accepted my ideas like they were actually worth something, even though I was just an average, white, middle class girl from a hick town in the middle of nowhere.  In Santa Cruz, I grew up, I found myself, and I found peace with myself.  And I found out that I am a bit of a freak, but that freaks are people, too.

In Santa Cruz, I also found my soul-mate.  He’s a freak, too; even freakier than I.  We married and popped out a couple of kids: two freaky sons, who are now ages 14 and 12.  Both my kids have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, which is a form of high-functioning autism.  My hubby, too, probably should have this diagnosis, but such a term didn’t exist when he was a kid, or when it would do him any good to have a diagnosis so he’s not pursued it.  In our family, “weird”, “abnormal” and “freaky” are things we aspire to be.

In Santa Cruz, both my hubby and I achieved our bachelor’s degrees, and he got his masters.  We spent the better part of 20 years there making a life.  Then, in 2006, I was offered a job with a prestigious company, but it required us to move to the Washington DC area.  My wonderful husband and kids agreed to follow me there and we literally turned our lives upside down so I could follow my dreams.  It’s been a difficult transition, but a great experience for all of us.

There it is… my first blog entry.  There will be more to come. :)

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