Sunday, July 3, 2016

There's No Place Like Home

I've really only called two places home. When I was with my family back in Iowa and when I bought my house here in Arizona. My home is my dog, Giles, who never ceases to meet me at the door, or snuggle on my chest in the morning. He is my everything, like a child, most definitely a fur-baby. 

Giles is friendly with people and will spend time with them, but it was when Dom entered my life that I knew something was different. He loves her, sometimes I think maybe more than me! He curls up on her side of the bed at night and lays on her just like he does me. He is happy, content, and definitely at home.

He has had to share his space with his new brother, Charlie, Dom's dog. It was rough at first, but he has grown comfortable with him. They alternate bones and snuggles and play in the backyard. They've learned things from each other, Charlie to be a little less hyperactive in the mornings and Giles to not pee on the floor when he is feeling lonely. 

In the transition period of Charlie coming over, us spending more time together, and eventually deciding, lets live together, there has been a big change in my heart. I've lived with exes in the past. But it was always my house, my way, don't get it dirty, you're crap on the floor is driving me crazy, and I'm frustrated that you never clean. This time it is different. This time, I can't wait to come home to Dom, Charlie, and Giles. My favorite parts of the day are waking up together, our conversations throughout the day, making dinner with her, and snuggling the dogs. 

She is my home.

I have never been so emotionally invested in someone and have felt the same investment returned immediately. I crave our time spent together and look forward to the plans we make because I know she will be right beside me, ready to do anything spontaneous. I don't have to worry if she will leave because our hearts are so connected. I don't have to see if she will "schedule me in" because her home is with me, too. 

It brings joy and tears to my eyes to realize that after all the trials and errors, this one is right. She's a keeper, and Giles approves ❤️


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Everything

There is something to be said about that moment when you realize that you might be absolutely, head-over-heels, madly in love with someone. 

My partner and I had a rare night apart this evening. Naturally, I was thinking about her as is usually do, pondering in my mind about upcoming plans, etcetera. I then read an article about this woman who had lost her husband to cancer and she had been reliving their moments together through the media on her phone. I immediately started bawling my eyes out, panicked, that this kind of thing could happen to anyone. I started sobbing, a tornado of feelings, thinking I may have to go on without my partner. "But, it seems as if I just met her! Life is so unfair. We haven't made enough plans yet. I want to grow old with her," I was saying in my mind as tears flooded my eyes. 

It took a bit to reign myself in. Wow, these feelings are so raw and intense! I honestly have never had that kind of reaction where I felt like I didn't get enough time spent on this Earth with someone. When I think of impending death, I used to think of all the things that I haven't done. Instead, now they are things we haven't done. Coming from somebody who has never thought they would really get married... I think I get it now... The kind of love that you are so desperately afraid to lose because they are your everything....

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Virginity As A Social Construct

The population I interact with on a daily basis has an overwhelming amount of trauma. These children have overcome odds that I never thought possible and the majority will turn into capable and functioning adults. 

One of my favorite quotes I have discovered while working in the social services sector is, "We All Have A Story To Tell."



This couldn't be more true each day. I learn about individuals, their past lives, their families, their hopes and dreams, their fears. Unfortunately, there are an extreme amount of horror stories that come through that most privileged individuals don't think of on a daily basis. Poverty, drug addicition, neglect, abuse, molestation and rape... the list is extensive. Sometimes, I catch myself thinking just how easy some people have it, and just how much these youth have managed to rise above. 

Tonight, I was unfortunate enough to get a call stating that an eight-year-old girl was coming forward with stories of how she had been molested by her own father. Sadly, these stories are not shocking anymore. The amount of rape, incest, molestation, and abuse that happens is incredibly depressing and all too real. Imagine the amount of courage it must take to speak of what happened? To have to relive those thoughts and feelings over and over and over again. All I can think is that this child will never be able to have the first choice to love someone in the most intimate of ways. 

To think that we live in a society that values one's virginity as highly as it does and then pair it with the fact that so many youth are survivors of sexual misconduct seems contradictory. "Save yourself for your husband or wife"....... but what happens when you are eight years old and that sanctity of love-making is taken away from you? You aren't even allowed a choice. You are tarnished in the eyes of religion. Do those who think women ask for rape also think that eight-year-olds are asking for it, too? Was it because her Frozen pajamas were too revealing and she should have known not to wear them? 

Due to our society's focus on religion, on virginity, and the sanctity of marriage, the one who is punished life-long is the survivor, not the rapist. "Your body is your temple." But what happens when it has been invaded so many times that you feel like it is not your own? That you'd rather not even have that aspect of yourself, and then society shoves the sexuality of women down your throat so you are even more hyper-conscious of it than ever before. 

Yet we don't change our society's ways of viewing these topics. We let it be. We close our eyes and our minds to the "scary bad things" that happen to "only a select few" in our culture. We forget that the majority of the kids in foster care aren't here because they are bad kids, they are here because parents have failed at parenting, which means us as a society have failed at teaching the correct values.

-Instead of "Don't get raped" it should be, "Don't rape." Period.
-Masculinity should not be based on violence or sexual prowess. 
-Virginity is a social construct. You are just as valuable if you aren't a "virgin."
-Trauma surrounds us, be aware of triggers.
-Abstinence-only education is ignorant. Some people haven't been afforded the ability to make sexual choices like certain privileged populations. Do not alienate the youth who may have experienced sexual trauma. Teach youth how to be safe during sexual interactions to reduce unintended pregnancies (which may help reduce the number of youth in the foster system) and the transmission of STIs.



 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Foster Mom?

Tonight, I had a strange thought about one of my kids that has been in one of my group homes for the past two years. This kid is tough. She always has a wall up and doesn't like to show emotion. She is "too cool" for others and frequently falls into bullying her peers. However, throughout these past two years, we have bonded. She respects me, and I call her out on her crap. She messes up and I help her realize she can make better choices. She does well and I praise her, although she will for sure minimize it or refuse the compliment. (We are working on that.)

She came home from a pass with her mentor having bought a vivid coral prom dress she had told me she wanted. She spent $50 on some adorable nude Guess heels that "will kill her feet but were such a good investment," I told her while smiling. It made me feel happy she was going to experience a sense of normalcy getting to go to prom. She worked for that dress and those heels, and I saw a little bit of my teenage self in her.  The drive, ambition, desire to be self-sufficient. I'm so very proud of where she is in her life and who she has become. 

And then I compared my age to hers. 11 years her senior. Heck, I could be a cool older sister right? I practically already have mentored this kid for the past two years. What if I decided to foster a teenager? How bad could it be? They can practically take care of themselves, right? Oh, but the responsibility of following up on another human being... no more "happy hours" or partners over whenever one feels like it. No more random vacations... or accessible alcohol. Responsiblity over another human being's life is such a hard decision to make. 

While I would love to give this teen a stable home life where she could just "be normal," I know that I am not ready to foster a kid. However, I seriously think that it would be an option later in life. 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

"Woman Problems"

Two people from my past have reached out to me via social media lately. Those two people sent terrors through me.

They brought up terrible feelings that I work so hard to shove down, deep inside me. It is so much easier to deny that these things have happened, that I let them happen because I was too scared to address them. Because I was immobile in my own thoughts. In denial.

My first experience of this kind was in college. My Freshman roommate was quite promiscuous despite that everyone knew she had a long-distance boyfriend. One weekend afternoon, she rolled in. I thought she had just stayed out late and slept over at some guy's house. I commented, "Must've been a good night!" to which she responded that she had been attacked in the alleyway on her route to her cousin's apartment. Sexually assaulted to be exact. She was a mess, had been up all night at the police station, and all I could think was, "well, she probably asked for it." She moved to the southern US after that semester.

That was the ignorant me before I had become feminist and knew about women's rights, statistics, and all that. A year later, I realized that I had victim-blamed rather than supported in a most crucial time.

Then it happened to me. Just like the statistics. 
  • Approximately 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim
Twice, in the same scenario. Go home with someone after drinking, engage with consent, sleep over, wake up to them doing whatever they want to my passed out, unconsenting body. That is the scariest feeling ever. Laying motionless, not sure what to do, can't call out, pain, afraid that if you say 'no' they will hurt you even more.

I haven't even ever told my mom it happened. I didn't realize it until I was on the phone with her telling her that "Jerkface" had contacted me via social media after three years, and "how dare he reach out like that, the asshole." But he had never realized it was "wrong".... that's why he reached out. My mother had no idea it happened. And like that, those moments of fear when I sat listening to the victims at the Slut-Walk talk about their experiences of sexual assault. That was me... even after all the social justice and women's rights education I had, I didn't identify that I had been a victim until I heard other people telling my same exact story. That is why I had anger, guilt, and sadness inside me. I get it now... and the worst part is, that I will never address them because my pride is too much. I will never allow them to know how much it affected(s) me. I will continue to be courteous because they aren't worth it. 

And this is just the quote that sums up that exact feeling:

"What I want is for you to write “fuck me” on your chest. Write it! Do it! And then I want you to walk out that door and I want you to walk down the street, and anybody that wants to fuck you, say, “Sure! Sure! No problem!” And when they do, you have to say, “Thank you very, very much.” And make sure that you have a smile on your face. And then, you stupid fucking coward, you’re gonna know what it feels like to be a woman!" (Jenny from the L Word- Season 2 Episode 11).

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Oh, Baby!!

Sometimes you have that awkward dream where you have a baby and you wake up and either feel totally sad or extremely grateful. Usually I am extremely grateful for being baby-less. 

However, last night's dream was super weird. I woke up being a little bit sad and felt disconnected, like I was missing something. Let me tell you why. (I know I have weirdly vivid dreams- if someone can tell me why and how I remember them in great detail that would be great)

First- In my dream my sister had already had a baby, so in the family it was old news. Nobody made a fuss about it.

Second- the pregnancy was like 0.2 seconds and I didn't even really grow a baby bump. No nausea or vomiting involved. Also, I didn't have to give up sushi or alcohol for what seems like a lifetime in real pregnancy terms. (Win)

Third- the birthing was super quick, painless, and in my own bed. Baby daddy was there (some hot guy with dark hair) and delivered it. After walking around a while, I panicked that I had never had the afterbirth but ended up finding it on my bed in the form of a crocheted item the size of a balloon. No mess, thanks baby!

Fourth- it was a boy- thanks for asking. Apparently I did not name the child, but he was attached to me like crazy. Also, the baby's neck was like rubber. So when I accidentally tilted it too far nothing  broke. Perfect!!! I remembered thinking that I needed to buy one of those baby slings so I didn't have to keep holding his neck up. This neck holding was the main goal. Don't mind feeding or diapering, that didn't happen- just hold the neck and the baby lives!!!

Fifth- he grew up super fast. He was already talking as I was walking to the Irish bar for a birthday party with my friends. Hey, they say to have kids around noisy stuff so that they can fall asleep around anything. And I ordered a soda thanks, that came with a $5 bill floating in it for some reason. So essentially it was free. I also sat outside on the patio so it wasn't *as* noisy for baby's sake. Amber and Jaclyn joined me and we began chatting about Jaclyn's mom's new gold-chained sandals that made her feet look extra long. Then we switched to Katniss Everdeen's archery skills. Baby happily joined in the convo with one-word comments.

And then I woke up (strange ending I know).

Dang, my dreams are telling me I would be a freaking awesome mom... If only pregnancy and babies were really like the dream I would maybe think about jumpin' on that mom bandwagon. Until now, at least the dream gave me a good laugh.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Dearest Boston

Dear Boston, 

I woke up this morning and you were not there. My three day affair was much too short. I miss the early morning bite of cold air, the angled and uneven streets, the brownstones, the history, the open air markets, the T, the restaurants, the ocean, the refined essence. Unfortunately, this return home makes me yearn for something more. I feel as if I am not in the right place. 

I want to be in a cultured city, near all the adventure, taking the metro places to meet with friends for a late night chat over some wine and tapas. In Phoenix, or Peoria rather... that is not the case. We drive everywhere, which means responsibility when going out on the town. It takes over 30 minutes driving to get places, you cannot walk or take a metro. It is overwhelmingly huge and modern. The positives seem to lay around the city, various superb restaurants or cute winery destinations, but the valley is missing charm.

The trip to Boston was short and sweet; however, it leaves a lingering feeling that reminds me that I still have yet to find the place I want to be long term. Or maybe I will always be a nomad, staying two to three years in a place and moving on. This brings up many questions.... Should I start applying to jobs elsewhere? What about the house I just purchased with my significant other last year? I love that I can always walk outsite. Would my partner move with? How would I pay for the cost of living in a much more expensive urban-vintage center. How would I move my belongings? But I love my job and my coworkers here, would I be able to find that company culture elsewhere? If I stay with my job long-term would it pay out despite the fact that there is no 401k or possibility to grow within the company because I am at the highest position I could possibly be at already? Would Giles and I be able to hack it in the snow?!

One thing I do know for sure is that Home is where Giles is. He certainly would look adorable anywhere we live. For now, I will just ponder.

Best, 
Marissa