Getting Closer...

So we're closing in quickly on the 3 month mark til the day. And yet, nothing much in my demeanor has changed. I don't feel any more or less antsy (I'm letting Ma handle all of those nervous feelings). We've had a couple more conversations about how we want it to actually look but eh, not really. We're both so busy that we hardly have time to decide what to do for dinner (at 9pm, mind you) much less what our wedding 3 months from now is going to look like.

That being said - HOLY CRAP THE WEDDING IS 3(ish) MONTHS FROM NOW. where did all that time go? oh right. to the abyss that is professional school. eff.

and that's a little insight to how I deal with all of this. I am goooooooooooood and then I'M NOT. that's how I handle life, though, I mean, if we're being honest. (which I am).

I appreciate my friends (new and old) more and more though - because in some ways they force me to think about these things (which I should be thinking about if I really want it to happen with any particular flair) but they also allow me to poopoo the wedding and shake it off like it's no big deal.

because it's not a big deal. and then sometimes it is.
conflict is my middle name, by the way.

and then sometimes, really funny or awesome things pop up places and make me real happy and make me forget things like school, practicum, wedding, and family drama. Things like:

**[thank goodness for autosave because in order to look for this link, I accidentally click exit on this window...ugh]**

or things like a good friend's birthday. Which, speaking of, you should go visit my good friend Jillian's page (which I know I've linked before) and enter her fabulous birthday giveaway - I mean because really? Who else gives stuff away on their birthday? She does. Because that's how awesome she is. Oh and while you are there, you should probably vote for her blog in the top baby blog contest (which is at the bottom of her page) - because her son, Cash, is the most darling baby boy. Darling!
Jillian Pye on Blogspot

you can also click there. because that will be awesome, too.

anyway, it's the small things in life that make you happy. and it's important to be grateful for all things - including that really bad, gonna make the wedding awkward but unique, sort of stuff.


For the one that I love

Today marks the 6th year that I've been with the love of my life and the 1st year of our engagement.

Sometimes I think back at all we've been through and its been a lifetime of things...already.

Together, we've survived:
  1. The tragic and sudden deaths of not one, but 2 classmates in high school.
  2. Graduating high school and embarking on an exciting new journey together to college.
  3. A devastating 1st semester of college, complete with clinical depression and medication.
  4. Becoming an aunt and uncle 3 times over.
  5. The death of his wonderful grandmother followed by...
  6. The death of his wonderful father. (RIP Chuck)
  7. Establishing our first "home" on our college campus.
  8. Establishing our family away family at U of I.
  9. The end of therapy and medication
  10. Political Activism complete with being FOIA'd
  11. A road trip that spanned 22 days and only 5 showers
  12. Getting accepted into our first choice graduate and professional schools.
  13. Graduating from college.
  14. Moving 160 miles back home to our next home together.
  15. A 600+ beer bottle collection
  16. Getting engaged.
  17. Family madness because we're engaged (and they realize what that means come wedding day)
  18. Planning a wedding
  19. Cold feet (in the literal sense, not the figurative one)
  20. Dental School and Social Work school
And actually, this doesn't even begin to cover it. Sometimes I try to think of my life without Ben and well, it's really hard. It's not impossible...because it shouldn't be impossible, but it also really sucks when I think about it. He's my rock, he's my comfort, he's my laughter, and he's my home.

I love you, Benjamin Ian, with all my heart.


I know I just blogged but...

no news is better than the news of the day.

Today has been an awful day for women and those sympathetic to people in general. Feministing does a pretty good job of explaining the articles and expressing the outrage...but yet I still feel the need to put in my two cents...because, well, that's what I do.

Let's start with the child who was gang-raped by so-called "men." Who could possibly think that an 11 year old girl ever deserves this?  Who could think that an 11 year old girl would even know that this would be a possibility? Who could have sympathy for the 18 (EIGHTEEN) men who did this? The New York Times and the citizens of Cleveland, Texas (Oh Texas, how little faith I continue to have in you). The victim-blame that is abound throughout this article is disgusting. It's disgusting EVERY TIME there is victim blame for something as horrendous and unforgivable as rape - however, there's a certain level of pathology that is reached when this blame is targeted at a child who can't even get into a pg-13 movie. There should be mass amounts of shame placed upon those citizens..or better yet, how about some education about what it means for an 11 year old girl to be gang-raped and it's her mother's fault that she was there in the first place. Maybe we should all share a bit of that shame, too. Because after all, we all live in this place called America where, in all honesty, we can expect those statements from individuals. Perhaps if we own that, we can begin to fix it. [perhaps not] We might not like to take that blame, but similar to privilege, if we other the perpetrators in a way that places ALL of the onus on the individual than we do nothing to affect change within the larger culture...

...the larger culture that says it's still okay to kill a person because they seem different/wrong. Granted, this takes place in Arkansas and well, things work a little different there. For instance, hate crimes  apparently don't exist/don't matter there. It would be nice if they didn't exist and that is why there is no need for legislation/protection - but this woman is a perfect example of how, in fact, Arkansas, a place where a town is proudly named after a former KKK member, breeds hate for difference. And then continue to rub it in the face of the trans community by ignoring the proper pronouns through police reporting and then, subsequently, new reporting. (Because in no way does news reporting or journalism include checking the facts on your own - wait...that doesn't seem right..ugh) What is it that makes it so hard to respect PEOPLE? Just people, regardless of their state of being...whether that aligns with how we think it "should" be...should respect be the basis of ALL interactions? But then again..that might be too simple. and what is respect? I mean, I certainly don't have any respect for those folks down there who have committed huge injustices to this woman (and then fixed it..because of advocacy pressures)...

...speaking of injustices to women...Kappa Sigs at USC have illustrated what is perhaps one of the greatest insults to anyone who has a vagina. I don't even have words for this except that it makes me want to punch puppies in the face. Including this puppy:
...and trust me, that's saying a lot..because I LOVE this puppy. So much.

(also, this is a cute puppy so maybe this whole blog won't be such a downer)...

this all comes in the aftermath of what has been the most low-key and fraught over International Women's Day since IWD came into my knowledge (approx. 4 years ago). I don't know if it the current political state of our State (yes) or if it is simply that I'm on a campus that seems apathetic, at best (yes) but it is sort of disturbing. It's times like these that I crave my old stomping ground so I can rant and rage with several people in one setting (WRC/SJED) and walk out not feeling better but rather feeling validated. Instead - I rage with friends via FB and Blahg...and hope that typing it out will release some rage..

we need help, people. this whole place...needs help. i wanna help..who's with me?


Revelations (or How Crying In Class Makes Me Think)

So I had a breakdown. In a class. Of eight people.

And then I continued to cry throughout the day and even some this morning. All because we were talking about prisons.

I'm not the type to get upset easily about this sort of stuff. I've dealt with a lot of my past through exposure (talking about it) and therapy (expensive talking about it). At school, I generally try to be a chill person because the environment at school is already to high strung for my liking. People get way too...(*&(*^)(*&! about stuff. I'm not saying that passion isn't great..but constructive passion is better than explosive passion (in my opinion).

So anyway...the fact that I got SO frustrated/upset/I don't even know about some comments made about prisons (which, by the way, is not my "thing" precisely because I know it's too close) makes me feel embarrassed. I would have rather I had done anything BUT cry. But that's what I do, I suppose.

So what I consequently thought about after the fact were a few things:
1. I'm angry that I got upset about that and that I get upset about what people think/say but I'm MORE upset over the fact that I have a reason to know that what they are saying is wrong. I'm angry that this is part of my personal history. And I'm sort of angry I don't get to just don't talk about it that much. [maybe]...

2. Perhaps I'm more stressed about Dad coming subconsciously than I think. And maybe that's only a part of it. maybe it's also that I'm angry that I have to be worried about Dad coming to my wedding. Because people think he hasn't changed (which is what [I felt] the chunk of that discussion in class was saying: criminals can't change and prisons are shit [which they are a little bit]) so that could have been the nerve hit.

3. and finally, I have some really fabulous people in my life. I mean, seriously. There are a lot of people who care about me and not everyone can say that. I have a wonderful partner who knows that when I cry, it's not the end of the world. I have a mother who will talk to me for an entire car ride home about the same stuff we've been talking about for the past 15 years. I have glorious friends who know exactly what to say when I need them to say it. and I have teacher and mentors who care about me every step of the way - even when I'm out of their immediate surroundings or when I've just recently entered them. That's pretty awesome, if I do say so.

But even after these thoughts and even thinking about that class now...I get teary eyed. and it just reminds me that I have anger and I have frustration. and it needs to go somewhere. and I SHOULDN'T be embarrassed. and this is part of ME and who I am.  and I should deal with it. somehow.

so here I sit, thinking about this and many other things (international women's day, gender neutral bathrooms, class, spring break, etc.) and i am simultaneously feeling grateful and sad. and that's odd. but I'm sitting with it and handling it. and I'm proud of that.



and no, I'm not talking about the show (though I really love that show...a lot..check it out on NBC Thursdays).

I'm talking about what "community" means. I think it is a term (like many others) that gets thrown around a lot. At school, we call ourselves the Brown Community. We have communities of faith, communities of color, and the one that is sitting on my heart in particular tonight, is the LGBT community.

Community suggests some sort of commonality - commonality in language, heritage, geography, or some other shared experience. However, I wonder what happens when communities form around hardship. What happens when that commonality is simply common marginalization? I mean, obviously we've seen where marginalization leads to revolution leads to (a sort of) unity. But what are the dysfunctions when people outside of the community begin identifying a community (know what I mean?) What happens when a bunch of straight folks identify those who (for whatever reason) aren't accepted in the straight "community" (and doesn't that sound strange to place an agent identity in a community) and label them as another community despite their differences - specifically the radically different situations presented to gay men vs. lesbian women vs. gay women vs. bi-affectional folks vs. bisexual folks vs. transgender folks vs. transsexual folks vs. every other possible label you can attach to an individual. Is it different if those folks identify themselves as a community - ignoring those vast differences themselves? HOW DOES THAT WORK?

And the to further complicate things - what about people who fall into shades of even murkier gray (as if they haven't already been discussed)? But now, I'm thinking about myself personally. This blog was started to discuss some issues that I think about in my head. I've been pretty bad at actually working those things out here because (un)fortunately I have tons of people who are great at mediating some of that work for me or it simply becomes irrelevant.

In some circles I identify as heteroqueer.
"Kaytlin, what the hell does that mean?"
I have no f*cking clue (sometimes). But actually I've been evolving the definition more and more to reflect what it means for me. which is honestly both the beauty and the bane of labels.
Here's what I used to say:
Heteroqueer means that I'm in a long-term relationship that is heterosexual (hence the hetero) however, I don't want to negate that I may/may not find other genders attractive.

that seemed like a pretty good definition for the year I was first trying on that label. but now. it doesn't fit. Because, while I think all of that is true...my relationship (that heterosexual one) is pretty solid. actually, like, rock/diamond solid. So expressing other attractions that I may/may not have seems petty because it's likely that they won't mean much. That being said...identifying as just straight doesn't feel right either. and I still (for some reason) feel like heteroqueer defines me.
Here's why:
I present as sorta genderqueer meaning I have some stereotypically masculine features. I'm not petite, I'm (certainly) not effeminate, I have short "butch-like" hair, and other typical (and admittedly problematic) "features" - if you will - i.e. I can be extremely crass and un-ladylike (whatever that means).
Further, while I am in a long term straight relationship and Ben identifies as straight (though when I presented the idea of heteroqueer as a label, he didn't disagree), not identifying with the queer "commmunity" -- what does that mean -- seems odd. Especially because so many of my best friends and those that have inspired me to do well have identified with that space/label.

So here's the dilemma:
If I, someone who COULD, in fact, place myself in the AGENT "straight community", choose not to and instead identify with the "LGBTQIA/Queer/Non-straight" community - does that cheapen a sense of community. What if people are already doing that? What if people are being placed in that community that don't want to be there? What if people are being placed in a community that don't belong there? What does community mean? What does it mean, as a social worker or as ANYONE, to be a community builder? What are you building? Is is a superficial space in which identifying individuals is simply made easier for outsiders? Will people naturally form their own small niches which could be construed as communities? Is that the same sort of community?

And what about co-opting an identity (which is sometime what I feel like with my own made up identity)? If that is something that I truly do identify with and yet I'm rejected by the culture/community that I feel that best fits in because I am choosing that label...whose fault* is that? Should I have known that I didn't belong there? Is being heteroqueer still too straight? Is there a line?

Basically what I'm saying is that I question (clearly, because of the amount of ? in this blahg) the notion of community. I question whether there are things that outside people (read: social workers) can do to improve quality of a community that is in distress/need - because while clearly we can help individuals and those individuals will go back to their self-designated niches  - truly helping a "community" (other than simply a geographic location) seems unattainable to me. and perhaps futile.

I should state that I am a macro person - so the sense of community building is along the line I want to go down, however, I think these are important questions to ponder. Also, there may be a simple solution to this - or you may say, "duh Kaytlin, of course we help...we do X, Y, & Z and it's great" - and perhaps it is that simple...but I just needed to think about it.

*I'm not stating implicit "fault" - I'm just saying that in terms of who needs to deal with it...which side accepts the burden?

ponderous moments by kaytlin