Sunday, August 29, 2010

Brown Thumb

There's something satisfying about spending an entire Sunday afternoon in bed doing nothing but drinking coffee while watching movies and eating scones. Even more so when it's hot as ass outside and the air conditioning is doing it's thang.

I don't spend a lot of time outdoors. I appreciate the outside world, but I'm an indoors kind of person. I like being cozy with a book on the couch, for example. Or sleeping in late snuggled up in my cozy bed. Or watching movies. Even the activity I like best is indoors: yoga, belly dance. When I was a kid my mom would take me on conservation walks and I'd give up midway through, plop on the ground and sulk because I hated being outdoors for the sake of being outdoors and walking for the sake of walking. Actually, any walking bothered me. I liked to sit. It's a wonder I was never a fat child.

Wasn't big on gardening either, or at least the gardening my mother did. My mom was a real pro with flowers. She made them grow with ease, even despite my presence among her plants. I have the brown touch. I really wanted a vegetable garden. Mom's flowers did nothing for me. I wanted something that had actual results, not just something you did your best to keep alive as long as possible. I think it's related to my disinterest in aimless walking. Screw the journey. I want a destination. I'm at point A, where is point B?

I think it's part of my planner personality. Growing vegetables is a plan to eat fresh veggies later. Growing flowers is a not a plan at all. It's more zen or something, like the shorter version of cultivating a bonsai tree. It's getting the nicest possible plant for no practical reason. Granted, I do all kinds of things for no practical reason, just not anything that might be good for me: like long aimless walks and gardening.

But the Dude and I did decide vegetable gardening might be fun. And we're at the point where we can eat the fruits of our labour.

Our red pepper plants.


Our tomato plants. We've already gotten a number of tomatoes off of these bad boys,
though right now things are looking slim and the plants are looking rough.



These are the Dude's herbs.


And some more herbs, plus some sort of vine thing he wanted.

Not bad for a first attempt. I've enjoyed this a lot more than trying to keep my African violets alive. Man, what a bummer it was when they bit the dust on me. It's such a sense of failure. At least when food plants wilt on you, you don't have to watch something beautiful die.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

First Year

Today is a special sort of post for me. It's not only my 200th post, but it's almost my 1st anniversary of this blog. I was 26 when it started and now I'm 27, ever closer to 30.

I've told people about this blog and its title and they scoff that at 27, I'm hardly close to 30. But that's not really the point. The point is that five years ago, the age of 30 was a distant time still, and not relevant to my new post-college life. Now it is relevant and more so with each passing year.

I used to think I was a grownup, like when I was 20. Sometimes things force you to grow up faster than you were meant to. I know my teen years pushed me ahead, due to my mother dying and being faced with suddenly having to worry about making sure I had somewhere to stay when I was kicked out of my dad's home, or worrying about getting food when he stopped buying groceries, and the burden of performing all the household tasks. But even if you have to mature early, you're still not really a grownup without aging.

Experience means a lot, but sometimes it takes time to let it settle so you can reflect on it. Having adult concerns before you are an adult doesn't make you one. It makes you a stressed out youth who no longer has as much time to focus on age-appropriate lesser concerns. Basically, it gives you a broader perspective about what a real problem actually looks like, which makes you look and appear more worldly and mature. But without age, time, it's nothing.

I think most people are capable of rising to challenges they're not prepared for. There often is no other alternative. You get with the program or you... get with the program a little later.

Since my teen years I've often felt pushed ahead of what's supposed to be happening. Sometimes I did it to myself, possibly feeling like I was all grownup now, so why not? Beyond the teenage years, I moved in with a boyfriend when I was 20, who I'd been with for three years. Serious business for a 20-year-old. I kind of skipped over college experience stuff in general. After so much drama at home, I just wanted some peace and quiet. When college ended I got my job at 22, with a salary and benefits. I was pretty young to settle into that sort of thing. I was the youngest person in the department for years.

And now? Looking around, things around here are pretty age-appropriate for me. Almost 28, living with my long-term boyfriend with my cat, owning decent furniture, planning a vacation. Life has changed so slowly these past few years. Other people are now moving ahead, getting married, having kids, buying homes. And I feel at both times stagnant, and grateful, grateful that after the drama and fear of my teens and the speedy push through my early 20s that life has calmed to a dull roar and slowed into an extended pause so I can enjoy my late 20s.

Sometimes I'm bored. Sometimes I want to throw myself on the floor like a child and stamp my feet. But being bored is a luxury, in a way. It gives me time to really think about what I want to be doing and what kind of life I really want, rather than just reacting to things zooming past me. Right now? I've signed up for a cake class, the first step in learning how to decorate cakes. I'm making plans to enjoy my summer and to vacation. The Dude and I are making our life together here more comfortable and planning our future.

I'm not really feeling WTF over the age of 30 approaching in a bad way, mostly. It's kind of more of a shock that it's arriving so fast. I kind of want this time in my life to really count, before even more adulthood rears its demanding and unavoidable head. I want to reflect, I want to plan, I want to enjoy. I don't want to look back as I do on my teen years with all kinds of regret for missed opportunities, bad choices, and of course a figure I'll never have again but completely didn't appreciate at the time.

I think now's a time to take stock. I think this blog has been helpful for me to navigate my thoughts and goals for my future. This first year has been a good one.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Mom from Africa

I watched the documentary Babies recently. It was very cute, but it made me think a lot about what people really need and what's important.

The baby from San Francisco had the sort of upbringing that most babies in this hemisphere get: attentive, hygienic, and safe, almost excessively so. Actually, when you compared that baby's life to the Namibian baby, you started to realize how resilient babies really are.

The Namibian mother, quite honestly, seemed the happiest. The American, Japanese and Mongolian mothers seemed... less so, particularly the American. I watched as the African baby girl crawled around, got dirty, suckled when she wanted, put everything in her mouth and interacted with her family, generally left to her own devices to explore the world as her mother stayed nearby doing her own thing.

This baby had no toys, no diaper, no bottle, no high chair, no bib, no anything that we have come to consider as necessary. And yet she was constantly smiling, discovering and laughing. This was one happy kid.

Juxtaposed was the Japanese baby being wheeled through toy stores, napping in her stroller, taken to baby sing-a-longs, and absently entertained by distracted parents. The Mongolian baby's life was full of peril, with the free-roaming farm life and a jealous older brother, but his story was incredible. Overly coddled, this kid is not. The American baby literally tried to escape the pretentious Earth mother group singalong her father was trying to make her do. Made me wonder how how many real experiences kids miss out on in Western culture when their parents are trying to orchestrate all aspects of their lives.

I love the concept of keeping things simple. I really do. The idea of parenthood quite literally used to creep the hell out of me. Why? Because it all looked so damn complicated. From giving birth in this traumatic hospital setting with needles and bags and IVs (The American birth scene compared to the Namibian birth scene was intense) to all the shit everyone thinks they need and the "must-haves" and the so-called experts all promoting their one perfect way to rear children, it all looks like such a weary beginning filled with anxiety and materialism that it's a wonder anyone wants to bother.

Same with weddings, for that matter. Even without useless favours that no one keeps, flowers that wilt, 5 bridesmaids and a $2,000 dress with a wedding to the tune of $40,000, you're still just as married as anyone else who got it done on the cheap.

But back to parenting, it gave me a lot of thought of all the things I don't want to be part of my life should I mother children:

- A hospital birth
- Logo paraphernalia (Think Disney or other over-priced commercialized things)
- Toys which require batteries
- More than a small selection of toys at any given time
- Mega-sized stroller
- Sing-a-longs
- Hand sanitizer

Everyone goes on and on about how hard it is to parent. I don't doubt it. But I also think parents do a lot of it to themselves, by ignoring their own instincts and listening to parenting fads, by over-stimulating their kids at all times instead of letting them play on their own, by over-scheduling their children, by over-sanitizing their children.

If all these things were so necessary for good childhood development, our species would have died out a long time ago. I don't want to live just like the Namibian mother (for example, I'd want more bathing and I'd use diapers and there would be some toys), but seeing her take more joy in her children, when the more affluent mothers seemed more tired and over worked, it made me think about what being a mother is actually about, or really, what it's not about. It's not about the stuff.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Phantom of the Opera

video


So, the chronicle of the neighbours continues. I don't seem to have the best of luck in this department, but these people are particularly difficult.

But it's gone to new dimensions lately, as the sisters' mother has moved in from Australia for about five months. She's pleasant enough, but she sings opera. Every day. While I'm working. The Dude has his own issues with them. They're leaving their dog's feces baking on the front porch, as though it's their personal space rather than a common area, and it's making him nuts.

We've talked to them about our issues, left them notes, talked to the landlord. It's gotten to a point where it just seems a hopeless business to try and ask for courtesy. They're going to do what they're going to do. So today, after quite awhile of listening to opera music I had no interest in hearing, I recorded it for posterity and my own personal amusement.

Off the topic of the downstairs neighbours from down under, the Dude is away for the weekend (this is not related to him losing his mind over the neighbours and their dog's poo). I always miss him when he's gone, but I think the quiet will be good for me. I haven't had any real time alone in awhile. I like keeping the TV off, listening to bad music, and passing wind guilt free. I went to yoga, I'll probably go to the neighbourhood cinema, and maybe watch the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, all five glorious hours of it.

And no doubt I'll be treated to a free opera revue. When I was younger this would have felt like a lame weekend. Now? Bring it on. Maybe throw in a nap, too.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Training for...?

I think my favourite job I ever had as a teenager was working at a hot dog cart.

I was 16 years old and my dad knew this guy from one of the bars he frequented. They talked it over and my dad arranged for me to work for this guy. He had a gray mullet and tucked his T-shirts into his shorts. But the pay was good and the work was easy. I sat on a stool under an umbrella, hanging out in nice weather at the park, grilling up hot dogs while the owner got drunk nearby. Then my best friend got a job with him and sometimes on busy days we could work together.

However, the man was a pervert and an ass. He paid me less money than the other girls, for no other apparent reason than I was, let's say, less womanly looking. He didn't observe our work, nor count the money before deciding that I should get $20 less for my day's work than my bustier co-workers.

After a fashion, I (accidentally) ruined one of his carts. Pretty sure it was an accident and not a subconscious FU to his sexist employment practices. But maybe it wasn't. But let's say it was. The assholery aside, it was still a fun job.

The worst job I ever had probably was when I was a chamber maid at the Day's Inn. My boss was a harried sort of person. She looked like she had been there a long time and had grown bitter with life. We were given 18 rooms to do a day, which meant 22 minutes per room. Yes, 22 minutes. This lead to a lot of stress. To make the deadline, sometimes I haphazardly wiped a used tub with a used towel as a means of cleaning it because I only had 3 minutes left to finish the room and about 10 minutes of work left.

This sometimes got me called back into a room to take care of a ring or some soap scum. But it's pretty shocking how frequently I got away with it. But then when you got yelled at for getting behind because you did take the extra time to do it right, you tend to make those sorts of choices. Also, a supervisor liked to go ahead to all the rooms before me, and somehow when she was working I never got tipped. Good times. The pay was also ass.

The actual work was gruelling and demanding. It had me aching and hating life each day. I got in better shape for it, though. And I got really fast at housework.

The longest job I ever held, which is closely going to be tied by my current one, was at a pita place my aunt and uncle owned. I started when I was 15. My mother was very insistent I work, my father organized this opportunity for me as well, and it all kind of just happened.

I worked there off and on, but mostly on all through high school. My cousins were in charge of me and I gave them a hard time for shits and giggles. I ate a lot of pitas. I drank countless litres of free fountain pop. By the end of high school I was 18 and I moved away. But they always got me back when I came home for reading week, Christmas, Easter, and some days in the summer.

One day my uncle convinced me to work an evening shift for him after my day shift at the Day's Inn. He came to pick me up from work to go to work and I was ready for a nap. I had a small crying fit from exhaustion in the front of the store. One of my cousins came up front and saw me laughing and sobbing in the corner near the pita steamer and didn't seem to know what to do about it. I didn't try it again.

I once worked for free (internship) at a wedding magazine. Despite the fact the pay sucked (har har), it was in many ways my dream job. I wrote about topics that were easygoing, researched topics that were mellow and pretty, and worked with women who liked their jobs. They talked me out of dressing like a slob, I got to take home hundreds of dollars worth of beauty swag from the closet and sometimes we went shopping when my boss felt like the time was right. It only lasted three months. There were no openings, and we knew my time was no longer needed when all my boss could offer me to do was organize her Rolodex. I was 21.

I was 22 when I started the job I have now. I took some time off to travel. Then I goofed around and barely looked for work until something in closed captioning fell in my lap. I've spent the last five and a half years transcribing television shows. Now I do it in my pyjamas from home. Sometimes I wonder how long this will last. My work experience doesn't exactly offer me a lot of options: Making hot dogs and pitas, cleaning up, researching how to get married and watching TV.

Thinking on it, the picture that paints is kind of depressing, isn't it?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Vote Bigotry on Prop 8

Not long ago I had a bit of a Facebook showdown with some Californians over Prop 8. I kept my cool, didn't call names or anything, but I was so mad. People who actually believe the majority get to make human rights decisions for minority groups are illogical. And it pains me whenever I see someone I like participate in bigotry, like voting against equal rights for all.

I was reading about the power of language today. How a word like marriage is loaded with connotations, beliefs and rituals that are ingrained in our minds. One of the arguments on the aforementioned showdown was why "the gays" are so hung up on the word marriage.

When marriage is considered to be the very top of all romantic relationships, it's kind of hard not to understand what the fuss is about. I mean, think of all the titles and relationships there are in romance: there's a hook-up, fuck buddies, friends with benefits, someone you're "seeing" or "talking to", a girlfriend or boyfriend, a lover, a fiance/fiancee, a common law spouse, a partner, and finally a husband or wife.

The two most respected titles, while also romantic ones, are fiance/e and husband and wife. Those surround marriage. They conjure images of living together, maybe raising a family, going on vacations, making a home and growing old together, having made vows to do so in front of all their loved ones. Or promising to do that, in the case of being engaged.

And these people want to know why the word is so important and why can't there be another word for it? Because there is no other word for it. Making the legal vows and commitment for a lifetime partnership is marriage. What are they supposed to call it? Rainbow fun life? Penile partnership? Scissoring friends? I mean, really, even domestic spouse or life partners just isn't the same. Anything other than the word marriage just doesn't offer the same level of dignity. It's second class. And here in Canada, gay people getting married hasn't resulted in any negative changes. The birds go on singing and life goes on.

And these same silly worried people forget that marriage has been constantly changing. Men could take more than one wife. 15 years olds used to be allowed to get hitched. Divorce used to be illegal. Interracial marriages were forbidden in various parts of the States till the late '60s. So what tradition is being protected here? Marriage as it was in 1970 should be preserved?

And wanting to prevent homosexuals from marrying because it's not Christian. Don't get me started. Okay, wait, I'm going to get started. It's almost 3:00 a.m. and I've got nowhere to be in the morning and I'm on a roll.

So you've got this huge group of people who choose to believe in this book that has unknown authors, which has been translated and then re-translated and then re-translated again in an era of time where quality control and fact checking and databases of information for proofing your work against errors did not exist. In this book there are talking snakes, men with magic hair, men living inside fish, plenty of incest and murder, and a giant boat that managed to hold all the species of animal in the world for many, many months somehow preventing them all from dying and/or eating each other. Okay, their prerogative if they live by this. Freedom of religion. Go nuts.

But then to use a passage or two out of said book to justify the bigotry, while at the same time ignoring the ban against shellfish working on the sabbath, and the props to slave owning and polygamy, is as mind boggling as a fish trying to ride a unicycle. People who neglect that Jesus spoke against hoarding your wealth, judging others, while remaining silent on homosexuality, are up in arms about something outdated in the old testament. Nothing else in there seems to do it for them, but why not this?

What I'd like to know is how it makes sense to say "I believe in God, so I don't believe in gay marriage." How about, "I believe in gay marriage, so I reject this interpretation of God." Because really, you take religious-based objection out of the equation and what you're faced with is shameful bigotry you can't defend. You evaluate your ideas and beliefs first and then discover if you're like-minded with others second. Choosing discrimination because you think God wants you to is ludicrous. I can't think of anything more arrogant than trying to attribute your personal qualms about things you don't like as God's will, like you had a coffee with the guy (assuming this deity is male. That's another thing. What? You think God's got a shlong? What would a deity need a penis or any genitalia for?) and he laid it all out for you.

I could go on about this, like I go on about a lot of things. There were other arguments that made me quit because I realized logic had no room to breathe and now it's 3:15 a.m.

How about a cartoon before I go to bed?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The End of the Stick

I've been doing a lot of thinking about privilege. Who in our society has it? Who doesn't? Who has more? Race and gender privileges is what I've been doing the most thinking about, and I've been reading up on these matters to broaden my mind on the subject.

I've come across a privilege checklist on a blog that I'd like to share, a compilation list developed over time. Sometimes it's so hard to explain to men that they enjoy privilege that I do not. Often it turns into some sort of misunderstanding that I believe these privileges give men a free ride. I don't. But I think it's important to realize that whatever issues men face, women are getting the shorter end of the stick.

And as a white woman, it behooves me to recognize that I experience privilege that people of colour do not. One of the big privileges is being able to ignore that fact I have it.

The Male Privilege Checklist
If I'm a man...
7. If I’m a teen or adult, and if I can stay out of prison, my odds of being raped are relatively low.
8. On average, I am taught to fear walking alone after dark in average public spaces much less than my female counterparts are.
14. My elected representatives are mostly people of my own sex. The more prestigious and powerful the elected position, the more this is true.
17.
As a child, I could choose from an almost infinite variety of children’s media featuring positive, active, non-stereotyped heroes of my own sex. I never had to look for it; male protagonists were (and are) the default.
25. I do not have to worry about the message my wardrobe sends about my sexual availability.
27. The grooming regimen expected of me is relatively cheap and consumes little time.
29. If I’m not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are relatively small and easy to ignore.
32. I can be confident that the ordinary language of day-to-day existence will always include my sex. “All men are created equal,” mailman, chairman, freshman, he.
34. I will never be expected to change my name upon marriage or questioned if I don’t change my name.
41. Assuming I am heterosexual, magazines, billboards, television, movies, pornography, and virtually all of media is filled with images of scantily-clad women intended to appeal to me sexually. Such images of men exist, but are rarer.
44. Complete strangers generally do not walk up to me on the street and tell me to “smile.”
45. Sexual harassment on the street virtually never happens to me. I do not need to plot my movements through public space in order to avoid being sexually harassed, or to mitigate sexual harassment.
46. I have the privilege of being unaware of my male privilege.

White Privilege:
Because I'm white...
1. I can if I wish arrange to be in the company of people of my race most of the time.
6. I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented.
13. Whether I use checks, credit cards or cash, I can count on my skin color not to work against the appearance of financial reliability.
18. I can swear, or dress in second hand clothes, or not answer letters, without having people attribute these choices to the bad morals, the poverty or the illiteracy of my race.
20. I can do well in a challenging situation without being called a credit to my race.
21.
I am never asked to speak for all the people of my racial group.
26. I can easily buy posters, post-cards, picture books, greeting cards, dolls, toys and children's magazines featuring people of my race.
30. If I declare there is a racial issue at hand, or there isn't a racial issue at hand, my race will lend me more credibility for either position than a person of color will have.
41. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help, my race will not work against me.
50. I will feel welcomed and "normal" in the usual walks of public life, institutional and social.

I think it behooves us all to be aware of privilege. It's not acceptable to pretend like it's not there, or to brush it off because we all have our own problems. When a person is born into this world and bestowed automatic exemptions from certain bullshit or immediately in a low risk group for certain harms, and others are thrust into it due to the luck of the draw in their DNA, that's something we all need to see.

If you don't or won't see it, it can't be fixed. Pretending you don't have a mouse in your house doesn't mean you don't have an infestation. I can only take a backseat to stories of racism and listen and try to learn. But I can speak of sexism because as a woman I live it. I truly believe in in the end it hurts everybody, not just women.

When men are taught to devalue women, they then dissociate with them as human beings. If you can't let yourself be feminine ever for fear of the lurking inferiority it will bestow on you, you can't be in touch with your emotions. You can't truly experience affection and love. You can't be a good parent. You can't be a fully realized person.

It's all connected and it all starts with acknowledging there is a problem, then seeing the problem and then working to fight the problem.

If as a man you need guidance as to how to do that, I direct you here, written by a smart man, the author of Critical Masculinities.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Scaredy Cat

Sometimes when you're phobic you miss out on some fun things, like the Harry Potter exhibition at the Science Centre. The Dude and I were going to go. I was so jazzed about it. I wanted to get sorted by the sorting hat.

But I was concerned. See, there's that mofo big-ass arachnid in the second movie. I've never actually seen it. I've always covered my eyes. But I was nervous it would be there. So I asked the Dude to call on my behalf to ask.

Dude: Hi, I was wondering if I could ask you a question.
Science Lady: Certainly, sir.
Dude: Well, I was going to come to the Harry Potter exhibition today and, uh... hm... well, my 5-year-old daughter is terrified of spiders.
Me: (Ass!)
Dude: (Smirk)
Dude: Is there any spiders at this exhibition?
Science Lady: I don't know... let me just check for you, sir. One moment.
Me: (Your daughter?)
Dude: (Better than saying my adult girlfriend needed me to call.)
Science Lady: Sir?
Dude: Yes?
Science Lady: Yes. Yes, there is. A big one.
Dude: Oh... Okay then, thanks. Appreciate it. (To me) Well, Jendra...
Me: Oh fuck.

Every now and again someone suggests I get cognitive therapy to deal with this phobia. You can de-sensitize yourself in hours. Thing is I'm too scared to be faced with my fear. Go figure. Maybe I just need a few more disappointments to make me ready.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Permission

Today I'm going to a party to say goodbye to a co-worker. After seven years, she's leaving us to go back to school and pursue a career. Good on her.

Whenever someone leaves, and it's really infrequent, it makes me question my life a little bit. Where am I going? Is this what I want to be doing? In many ways, yes. I work at home and I watch TV. Closed captioning is a good job, and it's a necessary service for the Deaf.

But... still. Sometimes I feel like my inner artist isn't being heard. I'm always so impressed with people who uproot their lives and incomes to follow a dream career. It's definitely not playing it safe.

I've plugged a couple new pages into my graphic novel. Still haven't gotten around to deciding how honest to get. Mostly it's the family stuff that is holding me back. My extended family all want me to reconcile with my father. Yes, I'm estranged from him, and with good reason. It's just too hard on me to maintain a relationship with someone who's mentally ill and who has a substance abuse problem he doesn't want to acknowledge. Plus many other issues.

So, to be honest in my graphic novel would be alienating to a number of people. It's probably be therapeutic, but my dad goes off the deep end if if thinks I so much as mentioned to someone he owes me money, never mind what he'd do if he saw an illustrated catalogue of all his abuse. But it's not his reaction I'd be worried about. I just don't want his side of the family to hate me for it.

I can only imagine how I'd feel if I learned my brother was abusive and had terrorized his children. It'd really, really hurt. I'd probably not want to believe it. I'd probably wish they'd work it out so everything could be fine. It's only natural they want to believe he wasn't so bad, or that he's changed (again).

I've been told stories about Grandpa being a difficult man. My aunts would tell me he was difficult and they would share stories to paint a picture of his stubborn and gruff personality. And I hear them and I think but do not say that it sounds like a mild case. I hold back the stories of my father that would curl their hair. And even when I allow myself to tell a couple of them, I see the shock register, and then the denial set in. And again I'm encouraged to work things out.

I know they love me. I love them, too. I suppose, though, that part of being an adult is accepting that you can't expect validation for your feelings, even if you need it. That you have to be strong in your convictions that you're doing the right things for yourself and handle it with grace when your loved ones disagree. I'm still working on that one. Probably will be for awhile.

And in the meantime, I'll be trying to give myself permission to tell my story.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Naked

Since I heard that there was little to no chance of promotion in, basically, the foreseeable future, I've been working on my graphic novel. I suppose it was easy to get lazy when I thought there would be growth in other areas of my life. This week I've completed two new pages.

It's hard, though. It's autobiographical and it's going to deal with some sensitive subjects, things that I may have spoken about to close friends, may have written down privately at one point, but have never illustrated for a wider audience. I'm realizing this is going to require more bravery than I had considered.

I think about the best graphic novels I know, which are about the author: Blankets, Persepolis, Stitches. All required the writer to be honest, revealing and to share. If you're not willing to go down as deep as you need to, what is the point? The story I want to tell I've been bullied into not telling. Oh, I've talked about it with friends, but never in any kind of public way. And when you make art, it's public. Because I'd want people to read it, it's very public.

Living with someone's alcoholism is a painful experience, but a common one. It usually involves being coerced into secrecy. Even being free from the drunk in question, you still somehow feel bound by their rules.

Writing this novel feels like being naked.