Welcome to the Chaos
- Quirky single mom of two monkeys. I used to beat up the kids that picked on the "special students" during recess. Now I work with those with chronic mental illness. I speak quite a few languages, enjoy coed naked underwater basket weaving, have an addiction to Sushi and humor is my defense mechanism. Arrogant people make my right eye twitch. I'm ambidextrously brained, I will knit for tattoos, I am the friend that everyone comes to for advice and bail money. I pride myself on keeping my eyes, ears, heart and mind open. Making me laugh goes a long way with me, I think the brain is the sexiest organ and I'm the kinda gal you can take anywhere and I'll have a good time. Other than that, I'm just me.
As a single mom, there are many big questions I get asked that I have to answer on my own. I tried to co-parent those answers with their father, but well that’s a whole other story. Some I have successfully dodged, some I have not.
Today Eldest turned nine. Nine going on ninety, which is what you get when you have girls who are old souls with huge, active minds. One of the most amazing things to me as I have watched them grow is, even when they were in my belly, I could feel their personalities. So different, yet so similar. Proud, strong, loving, inquisitive.
And little forces to be reckoned with.
They tackled me last summer and made me tell them about sex. Eldest, my Spock of sorts, always pulls out the logic that I can’t refute. Even at 7 (almost 8). She said “Mom, you’ve avoided it long enough and kids are starting to talk. Would you rather we learn from you, or from them? Some of them aren’t so smart.”
Today they asked me what religion we are. So I thought about it and I talked it out with them.
Neither one of the girls are baptized, which is something that bothers my parents. I was raised Catholic, but the Catholics and I definitely do not see eye-to-eye. I refused to pick a random church to have them baptized in to appease other people. There are cultures and faiths that wait until the children are old enough to choose to be baptized. Also, I don’t believe that there is a God that that would fault children for the choices of their parents.
But, that doesn’t mean they lack in beliefs or spirituality. They’ve been to church. They know who Jesus is. And Ganesh. We have a giant Buddha they call “Our buddy Buddha.” And they love to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. And to make a Thanksgiving Tree every year filled with the names of people we are thankful for.
All of this has one thing in common: Love. Love is the recurring theme in our lives. The cornerstone by which all the decisions I make are made. When they were one and two, I created a family motto and rules that all go back to that motto.
Our motto? “We’re All About the Love.”
It is our foundation.
We believe in love. In the power of it. We believe in not saying goodbye when we leave, but “giving love.” We hug people we just met. We hold doors open for strangers and give them random compliments. We donate to and help those in need. We believe in showing love to those we barely know and especially those that don’t seem like they deserve it. We believe that love is the most important thing in this world. We believe that everyone has the right to be loved and to love whomever they want. That every human being is worthy of love. That love has the power to save lives and change the world.
Our religion is love. <3
It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged. While I continue to write in my journal regularly, I’ve not been good about getting it online as of late. I’ve had A LOT going through my head over the last few weeks and I need to just purge it out there so I can move on. We all need a good purging and moving on it seems.
I am a geek. I am also a nerd. A dork. A mom. A cancer patient. I am silly. I am smart. I am creative. I have blue eyes. I love wearing lipstick and painting my nails but I have no clue what blush is for. I’m pale, like albino gone wrong pale. I love to read. I love to knit. I love to create. I love cosplay. I love my geek community. All of these things, among hundreds of others, are parts of who I am. What makes me, me.
And I am sad. I am tired. I am frustrated. I am sick to death of all of the hatred out there. It has gotten to the point that I’m starting to see people I respected and admired in a whole different light. A light that I don’t like.
I am also a hypocrite.
I am a hypocrite because I am sick of seeing flaming hate blogposts and giant soapbox blogposts and calls of lynching blogposts. And yet I write a blogpost about it. But mine won’t contain hatred. And I am not on a soapbox. No pointing fingers. No sense of righteousness. Just a plea.
A plea for it all to stop.
One of the best feelings is when you say “well, (insert book/movie/super hero/you name it here) is my favorite.” And another person squees “MINE TOO!” It’s that little spark that creates a bond. When geek finds geek. That’s the stuff that BFFs are made of. I see it with my girls all of the time. Lilest’s first day of Kindergarten she wanted a PB & Banana sandwich cut out like a Millennium Falcon for lunch. When I asked her if she was sure, she replied “that is how I will know who is going to be my friend. If they know what it is, we’re BFFs.”
Since that moment, they’ve both encountered guys and girls that have called them weird for loving Star Wars. There were some rough moments, but they didn’t let it change them. They’ve gotten flack for declaring Twilight silly and offering forth Buffy as “a much better interpretation of a human and vampire love story.” But, they still stand by it. They are only 7 and 8 though and it’s going to get rougher and rougher out there for them.
Especially if they see the adults in the geek community fighting and divided. We are better than this. I’ve seen it. I have seen the incredible things we can accomplish when we work together. When we cheer each other on and support each other. When we don’t shun each other and throw steaming balls of hatred over a disagreement.
We are all human and won’t see eye to eye all the time. That’s normal. But, it’s how we handle the fact that we disagree that matters. If someone doesn’t believe you are a “real geek,” oh well. Their opinion doesn’t change who you are. It doesn’t make you any less you. There is no litmus test. There is no one person that has the right to declare that. When you start screaming back and throwing out names and “cred,” you end up sounding just as douchey.
Yes, geek girls do exist. Arguing otherwise at this point is completely and utterly ridiculous. Yes, some of them are gorgeous. Yes, some of them love to wear make up and get dressed up all of the time. Guess what? Some of us aren’t. Some of us are merely average, normal gals that sometimes get all dressed up and sometimes love to rock our geek t’s and jeans. And we’re not any less geeky for that either. Nor are we less awesome. Nor do we love our gorgeous geek sisters any less.
There IS NO STANDARD. Just like there is no one way to geek, there is no one way to look like a geek. And gals, this goes for guys too. Our fellow geek guys are amazing and a ton of them support the Hell out of us. Are we sticking up for them? Not all of them are booty photo snapping, geek girl hating misogynists.
I’ve thought a lot about it, and the ramifications of saying this (and well everything this post contains) and I decided to just get it all out. Backlash be damned. I don’t even expect many to read this.
But, I think it really needs to be said- WE HAVE BECOME OUR OWN WORST BULLIES.
I have seen it over and over. Someone says/blogs/tweets/comments something that someone is hurt/upset by. Instead of handling it like an adult and saying “hey, that hurts” or “hey, that’s not right” and countering it, a whole new blog post is written, followed by “hey look at this person said this to me” is tweeted. Then swarm of people rush to defense and go after the culprit. I am ALL FOR supporting and backing up our friends and our community. The moment we hate mob up after someone though, we are doing it wrong. We are NO BETTER. Yes, disagree. Clearly make your case. But I am seeing one incident after one incident turn into giant snowball of hatred. I’ve seen post after post pop up to cash in on the momentum of the snowball. Who is really winning? NO ONE IS.
I would like to see us all go back to the way things were. To spend FAR LESS ENERGY ON THE NEGATIVE and START APPLYING ALL THAT ENERGY ON THE POSITIVE.
Instead of writing a retort about “poser cosplayers,” let’s write posts on all the positive things cosplayers have done. I know some AMAZING men and women that volunteer their time and cosplay talents to do so much good. Instead of writing a retort about “poser geek girls” let’s write posts about all the awesome geek girls and guys out there and they projects they are working on.
Forget trolls, don’t feed the negative. If you absolutely have to, give it a giant fucking bowl of positive.
Pretty please, let’s let go of all this negativity and get back to the love. I'll totally share my Millennium Falcon PB & Banana Sandwich with you. Well, unless you have a peanut allergy. That would be bad. <3
Just like our bodies are made up of thousands and thousands of cells, who we are is composed of thousands and thousands of moments. Some big, some small, some we barely even notice. And they all have the ability to change and fluctuate with size as others occur. A small moment that seems insignificant can turn into the most monumental one as life unfolds.
When we are young, everything seems so large. Our whole lives ahead of us, we don’t know enough to try to commit things to memory. Yet, the world has a way of ingraining those into the fiber of our being. Knitting them there for us to look back on later, or remember as we grow.
They help shape who we are.
I grew up in a small town that I never liked very much. My favorite part of it lay just outside my bedroom window. It was the house next door. And the people that lived in it. They were an older couple, former missionaries. They were amazing. I had started being sent over for play dates with their granddaughter in the summer time. Her and I had a blast. The house and its contents were an adventure itself. Add to it the huge garden outside that seemed like it was as big as a football stadium and the large garden shed that we turned into a house or a spaceship depending on our whims that day. I had met people and a place where I felt like I truly belonged.
After that first summer ended, I still ventured over whenever I could to spend time with the woman. She taught me how to make soap, bake bread from scratch, grow almost anything and the whole time she would tell me tale after tale of all their trips to far off lands. While I knew they were there as missionaries, the tales were not of Jesus or religion. They were about love and how no matter what the differences were in cultures, no matter what part of the world they were in, love was the one language that everyone understood.
The hours and hours I spent with her fed my creativity and nurtured my soul in such a way that it felt very much like home to be there.
So much so that I named my eldest after her.
This past week, our world became a bit dimmer. After 96 years of being simply amazing, Mrs. S has moved on to her next adventure. I don’t pretend to know what is in store for us after we leave here, but in my optimistic utopian afterlife, she went home to her husband Art. And their garden is even bigger.
She will be missed very, very, much.
She was Maude (minus dating considerably younger men) before Maude was.
I was approached by a journalist from the Milwaukee Journal Tuesday regarding my submission to Common Pitch Milwaukee. This is the article she wrote wherein my quote is completely out of context and much of what I said was left out.
This post exists to set the context right.
As some of you may know, I was very excited to read about Common Pitch Milwaukee. As soon as I read on their site: “We’re on the hunt for eight promising startups working hard to redefine business in America. The best candidates will represent products or services that improve on (or completely reinvent) an existing American industry, helping to make it more sustainable, more profitable, more community oriented, more ethical – and maybe even more fun.” I knew I had to do it.
The cafe fits all of that. While the thought of getting on a stage scared the crap out of me, it’s for the dream. So, I went for it. Initially the due date was listed as the 18th. Then, all of a sudden, it got switched to the 13th. The application consisted of two small questions- 1. regarding what social impact our concept has 2. what environmental impact and then a mandatory video. I had clips of people talking about what the cafe would mean to them now or what it would have meant to them growing up. They were going to be at the end of me describing what the cafe was. With the switch in date, I had to just link the videos in separately in the “anything else you want us to know?” section and go with a video of me explaining the cafe. Here is the script I memorized for it:
“Hi, I’m Natali. Some people know me as UberDork Girlie and this is my pitch about UberDork Cafe. There will not be pie charts or a soundtrack or fancy graphics. Just a story. You see, once upon a time there was a single mom that struggled finding a place where her and her daughters could hang out. Looking for things to do during a Wisconsin winter turned depressing. Having crayons and chicken fingers doesn’t automatically make a place kid-friendly. Very few places offered classes and activities for kids and their parents to bond and those that did were outrageously expensive. So, she started thinking. What started out as creating a place for her and her daughters to hang out at ended up being the idea of a home for an entire community.
UberDork Cafe is a cafe, a gaming center and a classroom all in one. The cafe will serve a slight twist on simple food that is made with local ingredients and stuff from the 900 sq foot urban garden space we rent. Kids will be able to build their own yogurt parfaits, whacky sandwich combinations and have their own area to sit, eat and play. And adults will get a toy with their meals and be able to get some work done while they keep an eye on their kids. Board games, old school atari, 360s and pcs will be there to play. Family gaming nights will occur weekly. The classroom will offer a ton of classes from art to science for kids and families and even just adults. Teens can learn how to make their own Comics. Families can take “Dinner and Movie” where they learn how to make their own movies and on the last night everyone makes homemade pizza and watches them. Unschoolers will have a place to meet and group teach while their kids receive social interaction. Parents will have a place to drop their teens off at where they know they will be safe but still be able to be teens. Local artists will have walls to hang their art. Community members will have opportunities to mentor, tutor, play, create, learn.
And every year scholarships will be given to inner city youth that have been a part of the cafe and are going on to pursue secondary education in a tech or science-related field.
People old and young who have never had a place to call home before, will finally have that place. And every community deserves a home.”
From the application, the video pitch was made out to be the main part.
Guess not. In fact, they would admit after they posted who made it through, that they never even bothered to watch the video pitches. That they had no intentions of doing so until after they had the “short list”, meaning the 8 picked.
THAT is where I became “very confused and disillusioned.”
Why would you ask for them and then not watch them? How are you going to pick from the answers of those simple questions?
I wanted to figure out what I had done wrong. What I could do differently next time. So, I went to look at the chosen 8.
First on the list- brighter12 An “online companion for working a 12 step process.” I have seen and heard of other resources for 12 steppers. I checked out the entire site to get a feel for what would make them different. Then I clicked on “our team” and there, plain as can be, under “Our Business Partners” - Spreenkler, Innovation in Milwaukee and Manifesto.
Who is presenting Common Pitch Milwaukee? Spreenkler and Innovation in Milwaukee.
Can you honestly say that you wouldn’t have thought “WTF?!?” too?
Absolutely nothing against the Rahms, at all. I applaud what they are doing. I am all for making a difficult journey easier. It did, however, answer my questions of “How is this different? Innovative? Revolutionary?”
The fact that they would pick their business honestly broke my heart a bit. These are groups that claim to exist to bring in, nurture and support people who want to open businesses that change Milwaukee for the better. Groups I was looking forward to working with in the future. Groups that involve people I had respected. Groups that didn’t even bother to watch the videos people made for their pitch. Groups that just picked their own.
That’s how it feels and it is certainly how it looks. No matter who picked the 8, (which I still have no clue, the rejection letter was from Art Milwaukee? They aren’t even on the Common Pitch Milwaukee site?) the moment that a business partner came up, something should have been said.
Then there is the fact that only 3 out of the 8 are from Milwaukee. I understand both sides of this coin. One is “Why have it here if it’s national?” One is “It gives Milwaukee more exposure.” I’m down the middle. Hell, one company is from Chile?? That certainly doesn’t fit in with “eight promising startups working hard to redefine business in America” and it’s concept is far from unique as well. But, I’m sure there is some sort of reason that it would be picked over all the entries they got. Right? Bottom line- there was a better way to achieve both.
I LOVE Milwaukee. I am all for anything that helps bring in new talent, that showcases the best we have to offer. I am far from some “MilTownHater.” (Seriously is that even a real phrase?) And I certainly did not set out to rock any sort of boat or piss anyone off.
You know what though? I know I’m not alone in this. I know there are many others that are mad as HELL about this and all that lies underneath. And let me tell you, this is all just the tip of the iceberg. There is some disturbingly dark stuff underneath all of this that just keeps going and going. Things I never wanted to know and would rather that I didn’t. But, somethings you can’t un-see or un-know. And all those people out there that are upset about this, that are feeling confused and disillusioned, they had great ideas too. Ideas that would help make Milwaukee even more awesome. But, where are they to turn now? It’s not just about not having the opportunity to pitch at this event. It’s about the whole week and the organizations involved and the feeling that this one event manages to put out there.
At the very least, you can say that this was handled REALLY poorly.
And if that pisses people off, than so be it. Ms. Gallagher already put my name out there connected to this mess, I’m gonna own up to my thoughts on it. Thoughts that may not be popular. Thoughts that have already upset people that matter far more than I do in this city.
But, just like this city that I love, they are mine.
I wish nothing but the best for all of those pitching tonight. And to the organizations that are attached to this mess. Hopefully they will find their way back to their mission statements someday. The first cup of coffee for them at the cafe is on me.
Update: "'Our event is designed to bring attention to entrepreneurs, to celebrate entrepreneurialism and to involve the community in bringing support to people that desperately need it,' said Carmel Hagen, Common's chief marketing officer."
And who won?
A start up that was chosen initially based on their Kickstarter. At the time they were chosen, it was at $230,000. Their goal was only $30,000. So they were chosen when they were already $200K OVER their goal. They ended at $291,493.
But, they desperately need it. :)
It’s an awesome concept and I’m all for creating more manufacturing here in the US. When someone has already raised roughly $261,000 OVER their goal, why not give that slot and that $10,000 to someone who does actually desperately need it?
What did the people that didn't win get? A GIANT SCREW PAINTED WHITE. Seriously. The people behind this event thought it was so funny too.
I'll save you the "well see, a big stink was made over brighter12 being a business partner for no reason, because they didn't win." Regardless of whether or not they won, it was still unethical they were on that stage to begin with.
Whether anyone wants to come forward and say it or not, this one event has done A LOT of harm to the very community this week was to be about. No matter what the groups involved and their friends will say.
If you would please sit down, shut the Hell up, and listen for one tiny moment, I would appreciate it. I understand you want to hold firm on declaring war on the right for EVERYONE to marry. I understand you are further wadded up over my vajayjay and what I do or do not do with it. Let’s just be honest for a moment… gay marriage has never killed anyone nor has my vajayjay.
What we need to focus on is a much more dangerous killer… stupid people
They are everywhere.
Instead of telling me what I can and can’t put in my hoo hoo and how I can or can’t protect it , instead of telling me and those I love who we all can and can’t marry, let’s start truly saving the world.
You can begin with making a decent IQ required along with passing the drivers test. Stupid drivers kill people EVERY day.
You know who else does? Entitled people. People that feel where they are going is far more important than anyone else.
Combine the two together and it’s lethal.
For example, the 70 year old lady that almost hit me today whipping through a stop sign so she could pull into the last open handicapped spot in the parking lot. I literally had to jump out of the way, yet she had the nerve to get out of her car and scream “next time you get in my way, I’ll hit you!”
These people are in charge of a giant moving weapon. And that is just fine in your eyes.
Yet vajayjays and gay marriage are somehow worth wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of political bullshit on?
I’m gonna set the little old crabby granny who could be in the Death Proof sequel loose in your neighbor hood with her safe vajajay and her straight husband and see if you don’t maybe come to see eye-to-eye with me.
Look out for the stop signs.
We’ve all heard it- power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. It can turn Snow White into the Wicked Witch.
And last week I saw it in all its glory. People I once admired and respected twisted to the point of being unrecognizable. As humans, we are flawed by design. We want things we know we can’t or shouldn’t have. When we cross that line or it’s handed to us gift-wrapped, that euphoria is addictive.
We feel unstoppable.
We get ballsy.
We get stupid.
We leave neon trails begging people to question us.
Who would dare, right?
Yet, there is always someone.
Just like there is always someone above you. Your power exists merely as long as they allow it to. And you never know what that person has over others. Or others have over that person.
It’s all just a fragile house of cards on a plantation you sadly proclaim exists in the name of social change.
That’s the worst. When people who claim to be out there for the greater good, to help others. Yet, their only goal is truly to help their own small circle.
One day they will pat the wrong person on the head and send them on their merry way. Counting on them taking no for an answer and feeling rejected.
But not that one. They will come back ten fold, far surpass anything you’d ever imagined and do so with the grace you so clearly lack.
In the meantime, I wish you well. Yes, well. Because, our differences start every morning and end every night with the same thing- I am able to look myself in the mirror and still see me.
I can’t even imagine who you see anymore.
(This post was originally written as a guest post for my friend, Doug's, blog. It was an honor to be asked to guest post and I encourage you to check out his blog here.)
Last year at this time I started a tradition. One that has made a HUGE difference in my life. It wasn’t easy, but it was very necessary. That tradition was spring cleaning my life.
We throw open the windows of our home, brush away the cobwebs and pack up the winter clothes. It’s our symbolic gesture of greeting the new season. The season of growth and change. Warmer weather, flowers, sunshine. We restart the diets that we started on New Years and failed already. All that good stuff.
But, what about the rest of our life? Cleaning our house, though most of us secretly hate it, is a rather easy thing to do. Going through clothes, revamping diets- those are mere habits at this point in our lives. Last year I decided to go just a bit further with cleaning. It wasn’t so much as a conscious decision really, life just pointed out my need to take a look at the people in my life. Who I was surrounding myself with, how they made me feel. Who they really were. Who I really was. What impact they had on my life.
Most of my life I have fought for the underdog and put everyone else’s needs before mine. It’s how I almost completely lost myself in an abusive marriage. It’s how I’ve run myself down repeatedly year after year. I always rationalized it as something I was SUPPOSED to do. That putting myself first was selfish and horrible.
And then I got cancer. It started out precancerous. It seemed like just a scare. A little blip that sucked but I would move past it quickly and be just fine. When it came back cancerous and things got dark, I retreated inside. Talking about it made it far too real. And, above all, I didn’t want my girls to know. They had enough on their plate at the time. Their dad had gotten his girlfriend pregnant. A baby half-sister was NOT sitting well with them. It may seem like nothing, but to a 5 and 6 year old that were never a priority to him, having to fight with another for the bare minimal attention they already received was a rough concept. The last thing they needed was to fear losing me.
So, this inner retreat meant I somewhat disappeared from various social media outlets as well. It just kind of happened. It was all just a blur. I was trying to keep up with everything going on in my life and then balancing dr. appointments and lab work and treatments. I was a mess, but didn’t really realize it. Then I had a couple of friends get upset at my disappearance. I took a deep breath and explained the situation. One of their responses “Well, if you don’t tell anyone, we don’t have any way of knowing. So, you can’t expect me to be sympathetic to you not being around when I needed you.” Yet, I had no idea they needed me because their way of showing they were having a rough time was to disappear off of social media. The same social media that I had backed away from. See the lovely double standard there?
Other things happened as well and I just had to sit down and take a really painful look at things. I suck at cutting friends loose. I give people chance after chance after chance. I try to cling to all their good qualities, sometimes to the point of completely blinding myself to the faults. But, there comes a time where you have to step back and look at that friendship. Is it strictly one-sided? Does it balance out? Is that person a stream of constant negativity? How does their role in your life make you feel?
After answering all of that comes the even harder part- what do you do about it? Do you emotionally put up a wall and hold them at a distance? Do you break it off completely? Do you sit down and explain the situation and work on the friendship together?
That part fucking sucks. There’s no sugar-coating that.
You know what though? When you are done, I promise you that you will feel so much better.
This year, still fighting recurring cancer, but this last round finally came back only precancerous. So YAAAY for that! My immune system is completely shot though and my doctors SCREAMED at me about my stress level. To have a doctor tell you “Fuck the cancer, it’s the stress that’s going to kill you” is a pretty big wake up call. And, it is just in time for spring cleaning time this year.
Time for decisions to be made and people removed from my life. It’s never a happy thing, but it is so freeing. A really wise person reminded me recently that when you clean out the negative, you leave so much room for more positive. And I need all the positive I can get right now. We all do. Getting rid of my first weed has already made a huge difference. People that dwell in and thrive off of constant negativity will suck you dry. Their need to be one up in the misery department all of the damn time will leave them alone and bitter one day and it’s not a place you want to be dragged to. If nothing is ever good enough for them- that is their fault, not yours. Get off the train now.
Another really wise person I turn to when deep cleaning? Bob Marley.
"Truth is, everybody is going to hurt you; you just gotta find the ones worth suffering for." -Bob Marley
There are people in my life that I love to death. That I know would be there for me if I picked up the phone and uttered one word- help. And they know I would do the same. Shit, a couple would hear it in my voice and I wouldn’t even need to say it. And guess what? We don’t talk every day, every week, maybe even every month. Life gets busy for all of us. It’s understood and that love and support is still there. We fit each other in when we can.
Then there are the ones that I talk to every day, every week, every month that I’ve said help to and they’ve not bothered to be there. And anyone in my life knows me saying “help” is one of the hardest things for me to do. I took wanting to grow up and be Wonder Woman VERY seriously. I can do it all myself, you know. Yeah, not really but that’s another post. :)
In the mean time it is time for me to listen to my man Marley, throw on some Three Little Birds, and clean up the rest of my lawn again.
How does your lawn look?
- Always wear clean underwear
- beer freak
- bitter old hags
- comfy as hell
- crazy cat lady
- cupids on crack
- Epic Geek Girl Calendar
- fresh start
- How The Hell Am I Their Daughter?
- Island of Love
- mental illness
- psycho boy
- red rubber ball
- Rock the LAN
- roller coasters
- Save The World Syndrome
- sick of being sick
- single mom
- some people are living zombies and some are just douchebags
- star wars
- stupid hipsters with crooked soul patches and no regards for stop signs
- things I know
- uberdork cafe
- you know I've lost it when I'm quoting Beyonce
- zombie Natali