Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Before the World Ends

My fatalism's a little worse than usual. A week after Valentine's Day last year, I came home to find that my now ex-boyfriend had packed up and moved out, leaving my keys and a Dear Jane letter on the stove. He told me later that it seemed too cruel to leave me before Valentine's Day, although the gesture ended up being vicious in a casually backhanded way.

I haven't dated anyone since.

Christmas was sad. New Year's was a disaster and I was a burden on my friends. Now, the annual reminder that I'm undesirable looms large on the horizon.

I've been campaigning relentlessly to cheer myself up. I have a week's worth of outfits to try to be cheerful for students. I've ordered several very snarky cat-themed Valentine cards from an artist in England. I'll have to do our Valentine's Day book display soon at work. So far I just feel numb.

I've put off asking Hopkins if he wants to go see Damaged Goods because I know he'll refuse since God forbid I should think it was a Date! On Valentine's Weekend! I went to one of their February shows alone a while back because there wasn't anybody to go with, and ended up having pizza with Stefan at Puccini's Smiling Teeth afterward. That was my big Valentine's Day, although admittedly, it was one of the better ones. This was never one of my favorite holidays.

I remember being all psyched up about making my little "mailbox" or bag for school (sometimes the teacher had us do them using white paper sacks and maybe a red heart doily) and putting it up with everybody else's. The good years were the ones when we had to make a valentine for every other person in the class, so that meant we'd all get some- but there were teachers who preferred to let it "shake out naturally", meaning we only had to give valentines to the people we actually liked. That meant that some of us might get one or two, and the popular kids got a lot (often from each other). That's when I realized that there was something "wrong with me" in that context.

I want to be happy for all those "coupled" people out there, but being almost fifty and alone, especially when I was dumped this time last year, just drives home the fact that I will probably die without having had the fireworks or the Thousand Strings or any of that stuff. Publicly, I say that they don't matter to me, but it's self-defense. No one wants to admit that they know they're permanently on the reject pile.

So here I am, trying to chug along, operative term "trying", not "succeeding". I need the 14th to come and go quickly and as painlessly as possible.

Shall I Make My Own Judenstern?

The one thing one cannot escape is one's DNA. At the time of my mother's death, my sister paid to process genetic tests for both of our parents. The results now reside on servers with the National Geographic Society.

A few months later, when the results came back, I brought them up and looked at the migration maps based on my parents' ancestry. My mother's was not a surprise- but my father's held a few little bombs for which we weren't totally prepared.

Mom was a genealogist, and for a long time suspected, based on certain patterns, that some of Dad's ancestors were Jewish. They'd obscured this very carefully and converted to Christianity along the way, becoming Methodist clergy and congregants. Dad hotly denied it, insisting that the family is English, and indeed, our surname was granted as an official name in the 12th Century...to a different family. My sister has since pursued further genetic matching with a lineal society bearing our surname, and learned that we belong to a secondary lineage of that name. In other words, we're not the English ones.

As I studied the maps for my father's ancestral migrations, they snapped into sharp, immediate relief- I was looking at the Diaspora. By cross-referencing the genetic profile and the exact migratory patterns, something became patently clear: my mother was right. My father's paternal family was Jewish. First to Italy, then across to Spain and Portugal, and then to the British Isles, then the Netherlands, and America; the Russian Jews fled to Romania and dispersed through Eastern Europe. We were just ahead of the Inquisition on the one hand, and running from pogroms on the other.

His mother's family is no less interesting. We knew we were part Cherokee, and Irish, and could trace those back, but the surprise there was that my grandmother also had Romany (that's Gypsy, to the non-PC) ancestry. Great. At least there's some precedence for my reading Tarot as a hobby, I guess.

So, to recap: on my Dad's side of the family, we have no small experience with genocide. People have been trying to kill us off for eons.

In the current climate, when racist, fascist, xenophobic ideologies are running rampant in the United States, I'm not comfortable. Visually, I can "pass", but my genes are of record. I'm not completely white. I'm not completely gentile. What I am is quite demoralized and more than a little scared. So when they come for me, what badge will I be forced to wear? The Judenstern (the yellow star of the Holocaust), or a combination for my 'undesirable' ancestry, or something that reflects my "political dissidence"?

It's this knowledge that took me into the streets with a pink cat hat and thousands of other folks. I'm not 'whining'- the people who are kvetching the most about it are whiter and more gentile than me, so they don't have anything to worry about. I can't hide in plain sight anymore, and I really don't know that I would if I could.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

In My Little Corner

I've wondered all my life what it's like for people who are comfortable in their bodies, who don't feel sheer terror at the thought of sharing themselves with others because they might be humiliated or rejected. I wonder about people who enjoy intimacy, instead of panicking anytime they realize that somebody might have an interest in them.

Is there a time when you can comfortably call your body "home"? When you can live in it and not feel like it prevents you from being fully human? Is there a time when your mind won't race back to the slights and belittling in the past...those transactions of relationships when you realized how much they liked you and wanted to be able to find you desirable, but the inability to get to the latter negated the former?

Is there a moment when you aren't friend-zoned? Is there anyone who might want to fall asleep beside you and wake up next to you, and not want to gnaw their arm off to escape the fact that they did? Is there anybody you might actually trust enough to let yourself just...I don't know...be?

Should it bother me that the man I've had a horrific crush on since I was a teenager feels comfortable making sexual innuendos around me, because I'm that friend, you know, the guy at the D&D game who happens to have tits?

It's depressing, too, when the server asks how the check will be split. I can handle it more gracefully by quietly saying, "These will be separate," but having him announce, loudly and without tact, "Those are separate!" as in, "God, NO, I'm not WITH her, do you think I'd lower myself to that? Do I LOOK desperate?" makes me want to crawl under the table and promptly die.

Bottom line, I set myself up for it, I suppose because it's safe- and although I won't be pressed for intimacy, I also won't be offered any because I'm undesirable. I should just quit hanging out with him...but then I wouldn't have anyone with whom to go anywhere. I'm afraid of a real date (but nobody's exactly asking, are they?), and I'm so weary of these fake ones, too- just world-weary of driving home late at night and wondering, over and over, "What's wrong with me? How am I so defective that nobody wants me?"

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Next Branch

I remember watching the old Johnny Weissmuller Tarzan movies as a child, and thinking that someday, he was going to miss the next branch or vine as he swung through the trees. Somehow, there was always another one to grab, and he never fell.

I missed the branch, but I think it's because I was thrown, instead of making the jump myself. Off-balance, gracelessly, I feel like I hit the tree trunk and plummeted to the ground. I'm in so many pieces that I don't know how to even begin to put myself back together.

Everything is discouraging. The world is colorless, airless, joyless. I've started retreating into myself so far that almost no one can reach me on the bad days. I've perfected folding up and disappearing, the way I used to when I was a teenager, out of sight on my big rock in the front yard, up on the roof where nobody thought to look, or under my bed behind the barricade of old toys and boxes, lying perfectly still so no one would know I was there.

It's reached the point where people exasperatedly have told me that they don't want to hear about it, that I need to "snap out of it" and "move on". It doesn't work that way. I shudder to think what it might be like without the small amount of pharmaceuticals I take...but I really don't want to be any more heavily medicated than I am.

I'm treading water in jello, being hauled under by quicksand. I have nightmares about abandonment and exclusion. I feel worthless.

It doesn't really matter what I write in this blog...my ex only trolled it to reinforce his inner justification for pulling his vanishing act. I'm pretty sure the woman for whom he left me is the kind who appreciated the melodramatic gesture asserting his greater devotion to her.  Honestly, I don't think anyone else actually reads this thing.

If you've ever wondered why people kill themselves, it's because they realize that they're invisible and that they have never mattered. I've tried, but all I have to show for it is a massive litany of failures.