I Have Better Things To Do Than Survive

I cut my nails short.

cut my nails short

A fork ring also, for when I am out of spoons.

It’s a symbolic gesture to myself, one that serves to remind me to take care of myself while preparing for what’s to come. My fingernails have always grown long, strong and have been one of my vanity loves about myself, but I need them short right now.

Right now I am fighting with all of my everything not to fall down a deep depressive hole even though all the usual suspects are present. Loss, grief, stress, anxiety that reaches the moon, feeling and being out of control of my life. Having life move and change far too quickly for me to adapt to. Living with very strong trauma reminders (not triggers exactly, but reminders) and it would be so incredibly easy to just free fall to the bottom of that dark pit and sleep.

I don’t want that to happen though. Life is fucking terrifying, but right now it’s pretty terrifying for everyone I know. Taking a step back from the usual subjects of a depressive episode and pretending for at least a few minutes that there is a different American President, there is so much good in my life and possible in my life right now.

Val and I are back together and happy. I’m finding the ability to write again. The kids are all doing well and turning into lovely little people. Poly life is interesting. The world can change in a way that works better for me than how it has operated for a long time. I am closer to the life that I want than I have been in a very long time.

I “just” have to keep myself from falling down that hole, from self-sabotage (my depressive acting out of choice), from getting too deep into an anxiety hole. (Totally different than a depressive one for me, just as hard if not harder to get out of.) “Just” have to keep myself making steps forward and I can get to a level of okay that has been unfathomable until recently.

What the fuck does this have to do with my nails?

My nails are short and polished so that if I do fall down those holes, or if I start to slide, I don’t tear them off climbing back up. They are short and strong, they can grab hold, they can scratch and dig if needed. Chips in polish are little signs where I was fighting back. Scrubbing a floor, building lego sets, typing hard enough I should fear to break my keyboard.

So if – let’s be honest – when I do fall into a hole, one less part of me will be bloody and broken.

Grief is a Strange Monster

I was working on a series of posts covering the highlights of #sfs17, the Twitter account for my clit @ClitstaAnne, the amazing panel #sfs17bodies, a mock workshop on how to craft a 30 talk by the seat of your pants cause you kinda forgot you were presenting, awesome times with wonderful people.

They are all drafts in different stages of completion, all things I want to write about, but Thursday afternoon my Grandma died. A lot of my summer, almost all of July, I was doing end of life care for her with my mom. She was 94, her body was simply breaking down. Lots of little things that had her fading fast. All of Sunday at the summit was lost to an epic migraine, Monday morning I woke to pack up and discovered that my Mom and Aunt has rushed Gram to the ER. Pneumonia and singles. Part of me know she wasn't coming home, but I wasn't ready for the call.

Cause you're never ready for that call. I'm lucky that I had her for the first 35 years of my life. She knew all of my children. She saw me stop fucking up and making my own weird life. My Dad missed all of that. Mae counted as one of my parents. Lived with her for most of my childhood, she was a powerhouse of a woman who taught me feminism, civil engagement, sex education. She is why I'm me and I do this. It's in my blood from her. She spent years driving across Milwaukee doing home school for "unwed teenage mothers" so they could get a diploma. She hid marriage and pregnancy to finish getting her degree, doing post grad with sick toddlers at home.

She fucking survived polio.

She was endlessly proud of me, forward thinking and tolerant. She introduced me to her friends who are a gay couple as like any other couple, in the midst of the AIDS crisis. She was very active in the Methodist church, but have no fucks when I became a pagan as an adult. She only cared if you were a caring person.

I'm unmoored without her in the world.

If you follow me on Twitter you've seen me talking about what a strange monster grief is. I've lost so many people in my life, recently even, but this leave the hole that my father's death did. I know it was weeks until I was semi okay and functional from his passing, talking years that I didn't constantly think about it. My relationship with Gram Mae was less complicated but more loving. Deeper and more fleshed out. I've been saying I didn't know how is react to the actual news and that's all true. I think I'm still in shock.

Grief is a strange monster. It's unpredictable and crushing. I'm deep in it.

I need to be working, I need to be looking for more stable employment, I need to be writing again.

I need better waterproof mascara.

One of the most annoying things about me, too me, is that when I'm upset enough I should be saying something, I can't make words. PTSD says RUN at emotions that are too strong. When I'm unmoored. So words sick in my throat and I twitch while my brain is burning down. Mental illness is super fun. Grief is a strange monster.

Eventually I'll be okay, nothing has knocked me down for good yet, but okay is far off and I'm not going to hide that. (If you'd rather not see that for whatever reason, I'm keeping those tweets #strangemonster. Mute away.)

For now, I'm respecting my sadness as much as possible while also trying to keep my head above water. I put on makeup that says otherworldly and vaguely threatening, put on galaxy pants and a hoodie dress.take it until you make it doesn't work here for me, it is so what you can to keep moving and let that be a success.

Find me at Woodhull Summit – #SFS17

Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit

Before I start the actual #sfs17 post, some oversharing. Today I could sit down and re-write Breaking the Cycle nearly word for word. My anxiety is sky high; perfection paralyzes me, I could have written this twice with the effort I’ve put into avoiding writing/updating. On the if this hasn’t hit your radar yet – Ravishly has an excellent piece “You Aren’t Lazy — You’re Just Terrified: On Paralysis And Perfectionism” up right now. It speaks to my soul. The uptick in articles covering anxiety disorders seems tied to how badly Trump is fucking us over, in my not-humble-at-all opinion. Okay – to the real post, but felt compelled to admit and own that anxiety is running things more than I am still.

Woodhull’s Sexual Freedom Summit – #SFS17

On an incredibly selfish note, #SFS17 is days away. I am semi counting on the summit refilling my cup and nourishing my soul has it has every other year. The summit (#sfs17) is four days with my nearest and dearest in the sexuality freedom fight, always four of the best days of my year. Because of reasons (and by reasons I mean money), I have not attended as many conferences, summits, and stand alone education workshops as I’d like. Still, I’m not a newbie and can say without hesitation that #sfs17 is the most worthwhile event I’ve attended.

(Yes, I’m staff. Yes, I am very biased.)

Before getting into what I’ll be up to at this year’s summit – Read this post “Guide: What to Expect at #SFS17 (and Other Conferences)” by Mary Q. – It’s jam packed with vital information on making the most out of #SFS17 and any other conference. Don’t worry; I’ll wait.

Welcome back!

Where to find me during #SFS17

Above all else, should you need me for whatever reason, @pinkness on twitter will get you the fastest response. This year I’ve scaled way back in official summit work so I can have a bit more fun, maybe even find time to attend more than one session that I’m not actively involved in! (Cause there are so many I want to attend. Locate the list of workshops and times here! Obviously, you don’t want to miss this one; Bodies Tell Our Stories. Aug 5th, 2:45 pm, Cavalier C.)

I am an openly, honestly queer woman online and I refused to be shamed or threatened into Silence.

Thursday I’ll mostly be running about working on Accessibility. I’m a committee of one for now, so meeting needs are going to be most of my Summit. You’ll find me at Digital Creators’ Meet ‘n’ GreetI’m friendly and love to meet new people – if we haven’t met in person yet don’t stress about saying hello. (…Says the introvert. I’ll do my best to seek out & say hi to as many folx as possible.) As well as all the evening festivities my aching body will allow. Reminder: I don’t drink so if you need a sober person for whatever reason, it’ll be pretty safe to seek me out.

There are too many workshops I want to attend I will not attempt to list them all. Friday through my workshop Bodies Tell Our Stories. (Aug 5th, 2:45 pm, Cavalier C.) Will be filled with my favorite kind of chaos, but looking into the Blogger Lounge is a safe first stop.

As I mentioned above, I’m an Accessibility Committee of one as Val has to miss this year. Over #sfs17 I’ll be pouring my everything into making our spaces as accessible as possible but if I’ve missed something? Please seek another volunteer/staff member or me out.

Unless I’m with someone with a NO PHOTOS lanyard and/or button, pictures of me are fine. I’m well out of the closets and me on the internet. If all else fails, look for the rainbow hair. This is my favorite event of the year, so I want to say hi to you, I want to exchange cards, I want to brainstorm. Ask first, but I’m overall a hug loving person.

Think that covers most everything, as I do a swan dive into “wtf do I pack?!?”, I have to swan dive into redoing my rainbow hair as summer pool time has done a number on it.

Breaking the Cycle

Locked into my own thoughts.

Over the last few months, I have been locked in a cycle of writer’s terror. Not writer’s block, I’ve had so many things I’ve wanted to say and cover, but the act of loading this page and typing caused panic so intense it was physically painful.

That white hot panic that shoots through you, makes the world spin, disorients and causes sweat to break out. The panic rises from so many places/experiences, fighting through one panic trigger still left a dozen others. There is the ever present baseline depression and anxiety, fear that once I started to write I’d open boxes of emotion I am not able to deal with, saying too much or not enough, starting yet another draft I couldn’t finish, or that I’d lost my ability to write in an interesting or compelling way.

Those are each on their own difficult, but they are small compared to the last source of panic.

That somehow the next thing I wrote would cause more damage, and somehow my words would be used to take my kids away from me again. Rationally I know that the other parents of the kids I personally grew would not do that. They both choose to procreate with me knowing full well what I do, both respect me/my work. Rationally I know the worst has happened already, the kids can’t be taken away more. The custody battle is over, the restrictions are no longer in place.

The above is all rational.

Anxiety is not rational.

The two plus years of terror took tolls on so many aspects of life, but this has been the hardest to face. Hardest to even begin to overcome. As I am typing right now I’m also hyperventilating. I’m not afraid of showing my fear, I’m afraid to lose more.

I’m typing anyway because every time I hit save draft and walk away, writing again becomes just that much harder. It becomes that much harder and I feel like I lose a little bit more of myself. I’ve been oversharing on the internet for twenty years. This is how I process and understand myself. How I make sense of the world around me. How I free demons, how I release fury, how I feel I can best help people.

Folks often say people go into psych professions to understand themselves, I’m a professional oversharer to understand myself. Without this outlet, managing my mental health has been a lot harder.

So, I am reclaiming this outlet. After I hit publish I’ll probably lay on the floor telling myself “See, that wasn’t so bad” while hugging my bottle of Klonopin. Hopefully when I am able to get off the floor, working out where I go from here with this site and my work will be less terror provoking. I’ve had enough terror in my life, once I break this cycle of fear I look forward to a lot of posts covering the massive changes that have happened in my world. The really exciting things to come.

Being just that much closer to myself again.

Okay, I just took the deepest breath of deep breaths. I’m going to hit publish. I’m going to reclaim.

I’m going to be okay.

 

#SFS17 – Response to the Community & A Few Words From Me.

#SFS17 Statement

We Really Do Try To Be Responsive – #SFS17

#SFS17 – Woodhull Respons to Our Communities: Full Statement Addressing Recent Concerns

We at Woodhull strive, always, to be responsive to the needs and concerns of members of our community. Because of that commitment, we responded quickly to a situation that occurred concerning our acceptance of a workshop for the Sexual Freedom Summit from a presenter who had admitted to abusing someone. That situation has been resolved. The presenter canceled their workshop and will not be attending the Summit. Because of what happened, we are now reviewing our policy for future Summits. We will be sure to include community input as part of that process.

We welcome input from the communities we represent. We don’t blacklist, marginalize, or attempt to censor any detractors. We take concerns and criticisms seriously and try to work with individuals and communities to continuously improve our conference. Rather than censoring, our practice is to engage those who have concerns and we are often fortunate that they partner with us to address the concerns they brought to our attention.

That approach has led us to wonderful collaborations. For example, we are proud to work with a dynamic group of writers who feared marginalization because of their experience at other conferences to create the “Blog Squad” and ensure a welcoming, censorship-free space for all. We established an Accessibility Committee, headed by Crista Anne and Val Orenda, to make our spaces are as accessible as possible. We haven’t been able to make the Summit 100% accessible to all, yet, but each year we get closer thanks to the committee’s efforts.

Recognizing that the Summit was not as diverse on many levels as it needs to be, we launched a program where we partner with a different organization every year to create programming that is relevant and important to their constituents and to make the Summit as accessible to their members as possible. Our first year we partnered with Women of Color Sexual Health Network, this year we are partnering with In Our Own Voices and in 2018 our partner will be SisterSong.

In an effort to provide the highest quality workshops and presentations we can, we reach out to people we consider knowledgeable on the various issues covered by the Summit. Those reviewers volunteer their time, in exchange for a free registration, to evaluate workshop proposals and share their opinions with us. It is not unusual for those experts to be selected because they helped us see a gap we’d missed in a previous year.

We are not perfect, but we get better every year because we do respond to input from attendees and we do learn and grow along with every one of you.

Thank you to everyone who reached out to us, to everyone invested enough in the Summit to hold us accountable, and those of you who have offered to work with us to make the Summit even better moving forward. We are very grateful to you all.

Ricci Joy Levy

President, Woodhull Freedom Foundation

I have more to say on this topic and what is going on around it, but I’ll be doing so as Crista and not as WoodhullCrista.

That being said, it’s 2 am and my brain isn’t at a place where I can articulate my thoughts to the high level this situation demands. Again, if you have questions, comments or want to say something you can do so with or without your name via my Contact page or Reminder; You Can Reach Out to Me Anonymously.

Reminder – You Can Reach Out to Me Anonymously

Reminder - Always be a Unicorn

Reminder Always be a Unicorn

Reminder – I’m approachable & now with greater anonymity.

Over many years I have often heard that I am intimidating. Personally, I believe that is societal programming that makes people uncomfortable with outspoken or opinionated women, not about me the person. Unless you’re aggressively violating my boundaries, abusing my kids or making toxic sex toys – I’m a really friendly & approachable person. Mostly because I like people. One of the reasons I do this work is because the way sexuality is expressed person to person fascinates me. An expression or manifestation may not be my thing or squick part of me, but I am still deeply interested in the how and why.

I like people. A rarity for an introvert, but here I am.

Recently I have flirted with the idea of bringing back comments to this site to be more interactive with my readers as I get back to writing regularly. Quickly I was reminded by many why I disabled them in the first place, that moderation does not bring joy, and I’d probably disable them again within days. Why waste the time?

What I’ve decided on is this reminder that via my contact page you can reach out to me anon, under a pseudonym or as yourself. I will not post them publicly unless permission is granted or that is the writer’s request.

Reasons you may want to reach out to me:

  • I wrote something that touched or helped you (yay!)
  • You feel I missed something in a post
  • Constructive Criticism (As long as the entire message is not YOU ARE HORRIBLE AND FUCKED ALL THIS UP, I really appreciate constructive crit. Makes me a better human, writer, and educator.)
  • Something you want me to cover
  • You’d like to hire me (Good decision on your part)
  • You’d like me to speak at an event, on your podcast, or interview. (The answer will likely be yes.)
  • You have concerns about places I work with and think that my work could improve. (I am ever evolving, ever improving
  • You’d like to give me large amounts of money so that I can devote my time to writing books, posts, presentations and workshops. (Yes, Please.)
  • There is something you’ve wanted to ask or address but haven’t felt comfortable in the past.

I thrive on feedback and as I am exiting the latest depressive episode, I’m looking to reconnect with you. So please, use my Contact Page or use the form I created below. Reach out and let me know how/if you’d like me to respond.

That people read me is an honor and I appreciate all of you who read, follow, RT and support me. <3

 

Crista Anne of the Glitter – A Selfie Celebration

 

Crista Anne of the Glitter – Selfie Edition

Why the need for a selfie post? Not gonna lie folks, today hasn’t been pleasant. My body hurts in a way that most of you *hopefully* cannot fathom, people are being extra – everything distasteful & wrong – online, life stress, brain fog, and I woke up again to find that no one had charged Trump with treason since I last looked at the news.

There have been bright spots of love, but today still required some long ignored self-care. I’ve not put on makeup in a while, so I covered myself in purple, then a thick layer of glitter, and took selfies. Because I can. Because I love that I can change my outward appearance at will to match either my inner self or who I want the world to see.

This is a little of both.

It worked too, I’m feeling better about myself, my ability to control my life, and comfortable in my skin. Makeup can be magic.

Greetings internets, I am Crista Anne and I’m super pretty.

Adventures with OKCupid, here is to hoping that okc has improved..

Subheading: Why am I doing this, I don’t actively hate myself…

Over the weekend I reactivated my okc account (tehpinkness) after a two-year hiatus. Deactivated my account when the madness was kicking into high gear and I truly could not even with people anymore. Then, unable to sleep a few nights ago, my brain decided it would be a fun, or at least interesting, experience to log back in and see who was on these days.

OKC is the worst…

It is and it isn’t. Over the incredibly long time I’ve used the site the quality of folx has significantly decreased, but I’m not entirely sure that is just okc and not everywhere. Internet discourse has circled the drain over that period of time, and after a decade on twitter, I expect the worst from strange dudes. Between those ignorant, absurd, creepy and just foul messages? Between them, I have found some of my most treasured people there. I found V on okc late one night and instantly knew we were similar. That I needed to know them. Years ago I met a cute comic book nerd named Ian, who is my favorite ex and someone I love dearly to this day. Many of my best, longest lasting friendships with too many people to name started off as okc matches. So, I wade through the swamp until I find someone(s) magical.

I found V on okc late one night and instantly knew we were similar. That I needed to know them. Years ago I met a cute comic book nerd named Ian, who is my favorite ex and someone I love dearly to this day. Many of my best, longest lasting friendships with too many people to name started off as okc matches. So, I wade through the swamp until I find someone(s) magical.

Life is changing. I have more freedom, more control over my life and schedule, I am starting to have the ability to have friends again. Friends who we connect over more than the fact that we grew little people at roughly the same time and are not sanctimonious about it. It is within the realm of possibility that I could have a social life again. (Though I barely remember what that is like.)

Because there has to be more than this boat I’m in…

As a verbose motherfucker, my profile is long even though I know 96% of people won’t read it. Being able to tell someone to read my profile, I’ve answered that already, is easier than repeating myself. It also weeds out those who are too lazy to read what I have to say and thus are not someone I have an interest in knowing.

This is the profile picture I’m using ATM. I like that it’s me, and me not smiling.

A few days in and I have a bit to report. My highest matches are folx I already know across the country, a few that I’ve already dated. Dudes who have no business talking to or hitting on me continue to be creepy. Oh, to have the natural confidence of the mediocre white man on okc.

This time on okc I’ve gotten fewer dick pics, and a lot more demands for education because they don’t want to google. So, I will take the time to educate them, but that education will come with an invoice because my time and expertise aren’t cheap. Then I’ll slap on an asshole tax when they come back with how wrong I am, how “stupid” they find respecting people who are different from them, or for being condescending.

I am too old, too experienced and too intelligent for that shit.

Using social justice buzzwords without understanding their meaning is a huge red flag that you’re a predator. JSYK.

Here is what I’m on okc for this time around: I’m looking for friends, looking for people I connect with. I am not meeting people right away, not meeting them until I feel comfortable they aren’t a waste of my time. This has been another great filter for who I don’t want as some dudes demand meeting that night and get threatening when I repeat the already stated boundary. This happens on my schedule or not at all.

I’m looking for people who share my ideas, my passions, who are also willing to fight. I want somebody who isn’t afraid of me or anyone else, in other words, I’m looking for someone who isn’t afraid of themselves. (Ani lyrics abound in this post) For people who expand my world view, who bring new thoughts to the table. Who make me laugh.

If I find these people or person and the connection moves to something more? That’s wonderful. I’d love that. I’d love a FWB or casual romantic relationship. My life is too full for me to be able to devote the time and energy into a full blown new relationship, but if one organically grows? That would be wonderful.

Would love more fierce femmes in my life. People who make me feel safe.

Basically, listen to Ani’s “Asking Too Much” and you’ve got it.

Will I find anyone before the creepers frustrate me into deactivation? We’ll see, but a Crista can hope. At the very least I expect blog fodder as I state repeatedly that I will name and shame those who egregiously cross lines.

My pain is not polished.

This post was written in October, 2016 – when I was positive we’d have Madam President right now and the “Grab em by the Pussy” tape had just leaked. On this day of protests, strikes, backlash, dudes being absurd man babies because something isn’t about them, and that this horrible monster is president, I’m reposting the piece in full, but you can see the orginal Medium post here.

No, I am not done yet. Nowhere near done.

I am going to continue to dump my intense fury, very raw pain and oh my stars y’all. The disillusionment. I *knew* that sexism would crawl out from under rocks like racism did with President Obama, I’ve been steeling myself for it. Assumed that as I interact with MRAs I’d be ahead of the curve.

I did not see being gaslighted by a large portion of my government, elected officials, writers I once respected, the nominee of the Republican party. I do not use the term gaslighting lightly either. (Few people I know do, but I know I’m facing the trope of the liberal feminist killjoy.) Since Friday I have been yelling at my screens, tweeting at people pleading to stop using victim blaming framing… Read More

Over your shit.

#ADayWithoutAWoman on Ethical Misandry

I’ve started an experiment over the last year, putting more of my angry feminist killjoy over on EthicalMisandry.com / @EthicalMisandry. While the blog is still sparse, the twitter account is quite active and has been a major release / form of self-care in giving way less fucks.

#ADayWithoutAWoman / #WomensStrike

This day, this strike, is a swirling mess of emotions within me – most of which I cannot quantify. These words needed out before I could sleep though, so here is a snippet of the post:

Frankly, it’s weight on my heart. Wee feminist me is still in there, and she wants to walk off anyway.  Go quiet, maybe write all day, and not talk to a single goddamn cis dude for 24 glorious hours.

Okay, that last bit holds for grown me too. I’ve become a lot happier since embracing #FeministKilljoy, #Misandrist & #Ethical Misandrist. I’d love to go 24 hours without hearing a goddamn word out of a single fucking self-described male feminist. That’d make my fucking year.     

Read the rest at EthicalMisandry

There is a lot for me to unpack here, I’m hoping that quantifiable language will come to me before it the day is over. For now?

For now I wear red.

#ADaywithoutAWoman

This is one of the only red items of clothing I own.

Happy VDay – I Have A Concussion

Photo Credit Erin Nicole Metcalf

Happy Valentines Day!

Part of getting better has been deep cleaning our home, as depression robs the desire to do more than the basics for me, so I have a long list of those bullshit cleaning tasks like cleaning baseboards and the darkest corners of the kitchen. A huge one was cleaning and mopping the kitchen floor. Which I did! To celebrate that accomplishment, I moved too fast, my feet slid out from under me, and I went full speed into the wall. My skull met the beautiful wooden door frame, and I now have my first concussion.

Don’t tell anyone I’m posting. I’m supposed to be “resting my brain.”

I’m resting, I swear. Kinda.

HOW THE FUCK DO YOU REST YOUR BRAIN WHEN TRUMP IS PRESIDENT!?!?!

Asking the goddamn impossible.

Though my brain is starting to feel like it’s on fire again, so this post is going to be short. Don’t want it to be short because holy fuck do I have words about what is happening in the world, but oh yeah, this hurts.

I’m pushing through my concussion kitty-ness to be sweet to my loves. Y’all know who you are and y’all know I love you today and every day. <3

No really, I got married dressed as a rainbow unicorn. LIKE A BOSS

To My Partner-In-Everything, XVO, I pick you. I choose this life. Each and every day. Life has been impossibly cruel; life has pushed every painful button, life has tested us in ways that are unimaginable to most others. We’re still here, though; we’ve made it through tests that I wouldn’t have made it through with anyone else.

I still look over and think you’re the sexiest human alive as you pick your nose. You’re just as enticing, fascinating, and breathtaking as you were all those years ago at the bridge. When you climbed my balcony and gave me That Grin.

No one else understands me as you do, and I couldn’t – wouldn’t – be able to be this unabashedly, shamelessly me, in any other life. I love you. So much.

To everyone who reads this post, I adore you. Even the folks who are reading this to mock. I adore each and every person who takes the time to read my words. Happy Valentines Day to all of you.

Now celebrate with some self-love, for Valentine’s Day needs masturbation as part of the celebrations.