Monthly Archives: February 2014

7 posts

I have something to show you

It’s funny and probably in no way coincidental that I was talking about art last night  – and how powerful it is – with a couple friends. It’s been a while since I really thought about the subject, I’m more of a “just leave me alone and let me make my own shit” kind of person who will learn theory and whatever I need to in my own time, at my own pace, and it will happen organically at a point where I really get it.
But art being something subjective and the beauty and power in that is something I’ve always loved about it and what draws me to it. I believe that good art lets the viewer find their truth, find what they need and is less of a cohesively preachy piece of work than something powerful on a subconscious level. The beauty is the creator doesn’t know what people are going to find when they look at it – the artist knows it means something to them, so they paint it – people who view it might not find what the artist intended them to see, but something they needed to see instead (which, can be frustrating). I believe that good art does this. Good art resonates on a level we maybe don’t consciously understand, or at least maybe don’t right away (or we do right away, because that’s how we are and what we need). Good art resonates.
And I’m happy to be able to announce a project that showcases good art – with people who understand the power and beauty and vulnerability of it.
We are the Swan Children, and we have something to show you.
sc-logo-medium

I don't know what to call this

I was going through the files on my laptop looking for something specific and I ran across a picture that I saved from 2007. I won’t post it here, because it makes my stomach turn, but content note: graphic descriptions of infections and medical neglect.
My parents stopped taking us to doctors before I was 10. They believed that god told them doctors were evil, to go to doctors was to not have faith in god’s ability and will to heal the sick. Along with that, came the belief that if you were sick, it likely had something to do with sin in your life. Both of these came from James 5.
Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 12.26.40 AM
 
So, anytime we got sick, we did that. We’d have dad pray for us, literally anoint us with extra virgin olive oil, and then make sure we didn’t have any unconfessed sins. Ex: a cancer sore we could have because we “talked back”.
Because my parents didn’t believe in doctors, they also didn’t believe in medicine, because there is a greek word called Pharmakeia which is where the word pharmacy is derived from, but also means witchcraft. My parents made the jump to then decide that any medication, including ibuprofen and tylenol is evil, because witchcraft.
(side note: just writing this all out now is making me feel sick. First, I can’t believe I remember these arguments so well, and secondly, I just, I can’t, it’s so stupid)
We had one bottle of children’s chewable aspirin on hand, they reasoned THAT was okay because it’s from bark, not chemicals, and because one of my sisters was prone to migraines that resulted in vomiting – but that was only for dire emergencies.
My mom had “natural” remedies, like tea tree oil, oil of oregano, and wurther’s hard candies (for sore throats  << that one I’m not complaining about, actually, it was candy). Stuff that 1) doesn’t actually make sense and 2) is not located anywhere near the pharmacy area in the grocery store.
(side note: it took Alex so long to get me to take ibuprofen for migraines because of this.)
So, when I was 16 and a half, I had this horrible horrible infection on my leg. I could not move. It was swollen and oozing and painful, any movement at all was excruciating (and no painkillers), it swelled so much that my thigh didn’t look like part of my leg anymore, it was some weird mutated…thing.
My parents believed it was boils, like Job had (Job 2:7)
Screen Shot 2014-02-20 at 12.13.04 AM
 
So, they prayed for me, anointed me with oil, asked about my sins, which I couldn’t think of and then….the fun started.
Remember: no medicine, no doctors, nothing. My mom decided we had to keep the infection clean (makes sense), so, she would push and squeeze the abscess until puss came out of it (so. fucking. painful.), then she would put oil of oregano in and around the wound because it was a “topical pain reliever” and “antiseptic”, I’m pretty sure hydrogen peroxide happened too. Basically I just remember my siblings complaining that I smelled like spaghetti (maybe that’s why I hate it so much).
It was deep, and there was a good bit of blood – it was blue and swollen around the..head? I still have a visible scar from that first one. And the second one.
This went on from the time I was 16 and a half until I was 18 – it didn’t start fully clearing up until I left home, though it had gone down in intensity.
The second one, was right below the first, had two heads (which I think had more to do with my mom PHYSICALLY SQUEEZING THE ABSCESS than anything else) each wound was big enough you could put a pencil eraser in (I still have that scar too), and there was like, a flesh bridge between the two holes, so they were connected /open at the bottom/inside the wound, but on the top there was a little bit of skin that kept it from being a fucking gash.
After the first one though, my parents were less concerned, and I managed to move – while still in excruciating amounts of pain with no recourse – and do chores and go places and manage.
As time passed and I continued to get these and they continued to leave scars and I continued to function in large amounts of pain, my mom started commenting on how my legs looked.
Because, due to the scars – and random abscesses, they looked polka-dotted. So, I wore only jeans or ankle-length skirts (or tights) so as to hide the hideousness of my infected legs. (This continued well into my marriage, in fact I think it was around a year before I stopped wearing exclusively jeans and wore skirts/dresses that were above my knee, because of that reason.)
I walked for 10 hours in boots with an abscess on my knee (it was not fun and towards the end of the day I was having a really hard time walking/keeping up with the group, but being carried was not Teenpact Appropriate). Some of my skirts had stains from them.
I passed up an opportunity to intern with Teenpact after that trip because of my legs and knowing I wouldn’t have the stamina required to wear heels and walk all day.
They were frequent but became smaller – I started to be able to get to them before they developed into something bigger.
This whole time though, over a year and a half  – no one thought anything of it, no one thought to maybe get it checked out, this infection that didn’t go away – this thing that we’re calling boils and figure it has something to do with god, and not providing any kind of relief from the pain, I just had to suck it up and deal with it, and I did.
Our second year together, my legs and scars were healing and I was wearing shorts and short skirts and my parents would always comment on my legs – “oh, it looks like they’re clearing up!” which actually just reminded me that my legs might still be unseemly and polka dotted.
I realized, yesterday, after digging up that picture on accident, that my infection, much like my teeth, was something that they had the power to stop and chose not to. Instead they chose to shame me about it and give me the bare minimum of help (if oregano oil and being made fun of because of it counts as help) because of their religion.
The first two scars are shiny and feel weirdly smooth, but are fading.
leg
 

#LiesMyParentsToldMe

I’m doing a series of comics – I started on Monday and have posted every day so far except Tuesday – called Lies My Parents Told Me. It’s been enlightening and cathartic – in the spirit of Valentines Day, today’s comic is on purity and virginity and the damage that goes with those ideas.
Funny how writing and drawing it all out makes what was so normal seem so ridiculous and wrong.

lmptm5small

In which my genitals mean I don't learn math or science

Alright, you have my attention. Anyone who can wield a soldering iron like that is worth some attention. […]

youtube commenter (comment since removed by author – creepy part, also removed…by me)

I was denied physics because I was born female. I had been taught all my life leading up to that point that girls don’t use power tools, that girls don’t build, that girls can’t understand higher math, that girls can’t hammer straight, that girls can’t and don’t understand science or engineering, and that all of those things are for boys.


So when we moved and joined science olympiad and I was partnered with people who needed partners, and one of them was a dude and our project was to make an egg-car thing and get the egg to go so far and hit a tiny wall without breaking, I was unable to assert myself. I was told to sit on the sidelines because this was boy stuff, all the boys – my dad, brother, grandpa, and my partner, took over the project while I was a mere bystander.


Anytime I did try to help, I was laughed at and ridiculed because I couldn’t hammer a nail straight – because I was never allowed to build – my entire life, I was never allowed to build – I could hammer a nail into a wall to hang something, but not into two pieces of wood, that was boy stuff. They took my inability as an excuse to continue to take over the project and leave me out of it.


My job, in my science project was to put the rubber bands on the plexiglass wheels that the boys decided were best, and load the weights into the pulley that held the car-holder door shut and released the car/opened the door when it dropped (because weight). The only enjoyment I had was to call them tiny footballs because they were fishing weights and looked like footballs and everyone ridiculed me for that. I was so devastated about the entire project that I was just like, THIS IS THE ONE JOY I HAVE OKAY, LET ME CALL THEM THAT.


It was horrible. The entire time no one bothered to give me anything but cursory detail about what they were doing or how it worked. No one bothered to teach me physics, because I was a girl and wouldn’t need to know anyway, I was just there so my partner could enter. No one taught me the math or told me about the calculations or why they decided on plexiglass wheels and a twist system besides “this would work best because you (not me, my partner) can calculate how many turns you need for the distance”.


My entire life I have been afraid of power tools and under the impression that I would never be able to use them effectively because of my genitalia (like a vagina is power tool kryptonite). I was convinced that somehow something world ending would happen were I to try – or maybe not world ending, but it at least would break and not work. I was never allowed to touch anything, only told to stay away, barely allowed to watch, never taught.


I am angry that because I was born in this body I was not allowed to learn how to build, to learn about physics, but instead I was only told I was bad at it and ridiculed every time I made the slightest attempt to understand.
I would never need to know these things to be a wife and mother, so why bother wasting the energy, right?


Sexism and gender roles ruined my math and science education – they denied me either, and instead lied to me, tying my mental ability to my genitalia, and my life’s purpose to bodily functions. 


This is why building ikea furniture, and houses in minecraft, and learning how to solder, and making little electronics work is so huge to me.
This is me standing up against my parents – who were my teachers – and learning SCIENCE because I CAN, because it is WORTH LEARNING, because I am SMART and I HAVE ALWAYS LOVED SCIENCE and was never allowed to try, never given the math skills or the time of day to learn it because I was told my entire life it was pointless for ME to learn it. I was relegated to the sidelines when I was supposed to be being educated, but I’m not anymore.


I am building things and I am soldering and I am damn good at it. 
I hate it when I’m made out to be magical because I both have boobs and enough dexterity to solder. It’s not magic, I am not a unicorn, and thinking that it’s somehow remarkable for a person with female genitalia to hold a soldering iron is sexist. It’s the same kind of sexism that kept me from learning math and science in high school, and it is not okay.


Go ahead and be impressed that I can do things, but be impressed because I’m fighting against my past, because I’m carving my way out of the cage my parents tried to place me in, not because I have boobs and dexterity.
Fuck the Patriarchy.

Pardon the mess

I’m switching servers this weekend, so, that’s why the site is all weird and some of the links are more than likely broke. My initial plan of staying up all night doing it is failing due to falling asleep at my keyboard, so, if you find stray code and broken links and things, I’m fixing them, when I can keep my eyes open for more than two minutes. 🙂

Ham on Nye

I actually didn’t plan on writing anything about the Ham on Nye debate Tuesday night, I planned on drinking and eating popcorn and watching  everything implode in a talk-past-eachother kind of way. My mouth hurt, (still does, I have even better numbing stuff now, but it makes my lips stick together :P), we ended up getting milkshakes because Ham is more triggering and milkshakes are more comforting.
The debate went as I suspected it would – more cathartic for me and those of us who have left the Young Earth Creationist camp we were raised with. Ham had all the same material, I’d heard everything he’d said before at VBS, in DVD’s, and his theology permeated my “science” books even though they weren’t exclusively AIG. I knew all his answers, I’d seen all of his graphics, he said absolutely nothing new, at all, I remembered everything verbatim from my previous encounters with AIG as a child. To Nye, this idea is so unfathomable that he had trouble grasping and understanding his audience and I don’t know that he knew what he was getting into. To the people in that room, YEC is more than a science…theory(?), it is, in a very real way, a (the) foundation of their religion.  Believing in a Young Earth is somehow, essential to this brand of christianity, my whole family, I think, is Young Earth, my immediate definitely, if not my grandparents too.
None of the arguments made in the debate were really going to change anyone’s minds I don’t think. I don’t know how many people were listening to it like a presidential debate, being really on the fence about religiously-intoxicated creationism and mainstream science, but who knows.
During the Q&A session though, Nye said one thing, one groundbreaking thing, and I don’t know if he even realized it. He said “I don’t know“.
What he probably didn’t know (or maybe did) when he walked into a room and an audience loaded with people who have been raised or told all of their lives and all of their childhood that they have to know all the answers to everything all the time and that “I don’t know” is not an answer and if you don’t know, something is wrong – saying “I don’t know” in a way that did not have defeatist or negative connotations is something that people raised in this sheltered and toxic environment have probably never heard. Their parents may have, but have denied themselves and their children that option, they’ve rejected the idea of not knowing for the burden of having to always know and have thrust that upon their children at very young ages.
Fellow homeschoolers have written about having to know the answers to all questions – even questions about the legality of homeschooling from the time they were like 6. This is true and this is devastating and this is too much, no one, let alone any child should be required to know the answer to everything. Yet this is what fundamentalists do – they require themselves and everyone they gather into their brand of religion (or non-religion) to have all of the answers to everything. They must always be able to back up a question with a pre-scripted answer that allows for no nuance. I don’t know is invalid.
People asked him the questions creationists are scripted to ask evolutionists (because they don’t know the answer but we do! HA!) and he answered, happily, excitedly, unashamed, and like he had been waiting to say it all night because it’s such a beautiful answer: I don’t know.
Ken Ham, and every entrenched creationist in the audience I’m sure scoffed at Nye’s reply. But what he said, in those three words, is something more powerful than he can know.
Because to the people who were watching who are tired of having to know everything because they realize they don’t know, who are maybe doubting, who are maybe thinking, who are maybe just trying to keep their head down to get by but secretly (even so secretly they may not realize it yet) want to taste something different, something not straight out of the book, Bill Nye just introduced the concept of freedom.
Because the freedom to not know (and that be an okay, even good thing) after coming from an environment where you must know is so so powerful. But one of those things, where you only realize it’s power once you’ve come to terms with the idea that it’s okay to not have the answers.
Bill Nye just introduced hundreds or thousands of people to the idea that “I don’t know” is valid, and okay, and not wrong.
That is the most important thing (I think) that happened in the debate, that’s what I haven’t been able to get out of my head. I don’t know. And it’s beautiful.
Screen Shot 2014-02-05 at 12.53.27 AM

force

I have stress induced canker sores in my mouth and it sucks (like 4). I’ve been sort of on the verge of/warding off a meltdown. I am stuck in complete and utter apathy towards everything that I am invested in and love doing.
I can’t sleep or eat without pain, because face. I have peroxide wash now though and have been doing everything else, including painkillers.
Everything sounds horrifically dull.
I feel like I’m shrinking back into my shell. I feel like I’ve stopped caring – which, actually isn’t true, because then I have moments of intense caring which leads to guilt which leads to…
All of my plans and ambitions seem grey and pointless and impossible.
I have to force myself to do anything, fight through the fog of why-bothers, and everything feels so…nothing-y
but I still force myself. I still force myself out of bed (and spend the rest of the day questioning that decision), I still force myself to be around for people and projects and things,  I still force myself to draw humorotica, even if I can’t seem to muster up the strength to force myself to draw when I need to and draw for myself. but the point is, i still force myself, and it hurts and it’s hard and it’s a battle and it sucks and I feel so fucking alone and stuck and it’s not even funny, but I still force myself, because I don’t know?reasons.
I feel like forcing myself counts for something. I don’t know what – probably nothing. Maybe I force myself because there’s a part of me that realizes I still need to kinda pretend to feel kind of alive or human. Or maybe it’s just guilt. It’s probably actually guilt.