Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I love my life because I love the people in it. That's really all it comes down to.

I felt kind of deflated all day.

I guess I was just cranky because this week is kicking my ass. And when school tries to destroy me, it's quite natural of me to think that I ought to let it. Who the hell am I? When am I ever going to graduate? I don't really know what I want to do with my life, and I need to get my shit together because I've been in college for quite a while, blah, blah, blah.

But all day long, I was reminded that the people in my life ROCK. And I feel the need to mention a few of them specifically:

A local radio station, 93.9, has been giving away tickets to see Michael Franti and Spearhead in concert and meet the band before the show. Michael Franti just happens to be on the list of people I'd like to high five before I die, so I spent the day trying to win tickets. I found out this evening that quite a few people called the station for me: My mom, Emily, Ben, Amberleigh, AND Amberleigh's mom (who I've never even met). The cool thing? Ben and Amberleigh don't even live in the listening area; Ben's in Saginaw and Amberleigh's in Lake City. But they streamed it online, waited for the DJ to tell them to call in, and gave it a shot. (I didn't win the tickets, but that's beside the point.)

When I got home from class this evening, I saw that I had received a Halloween card in the mail from my good friend Sarah. We attended the Controlled Burn Seminar together, and although we've never lived in the same city, have always done a great job at keeping in touch. In the card, she mentioned that she plans to move to Kentucky soon, and tried to convince me to join her. She knows I'd never go for something like that, so she wrote, "Oh, I know what you're thinking. But Kentucky needs people like us. We could go there and raise hell; there isn't a single Planned Parenthood within an hour of Bowling Green."

On Facebook, I found a status that one of my friends had posted: "Can anyone give me a good reason to go to college?"

Someone who used to teach English at SVSU left a comment: "Because you will meet some very cool people there. And if you take the right classes, you will learn something and find your passion."

I "liked" her comment and she added, "The funny thing was that I was going to say 'people like Amelia Glebocki.'"

Well, shucks.

Just after I read that, a former roommate of mine (with whom I'm not particularly close), sent me a Facebook message to let me know that she thinks of me every Tuesday night while she's in class, because the class she's taking is called "Teaching the Art of Writing." And writing has always been my thing.

That was nice to hear. I needed that to remind me that I'm not as aimless as I feel. I love deeply--so deeply, in fact, that people who don't even consider themselves close friends of mine can't help but think of me whenever they find themselves in certain situations. Maybe that means I'm obnoxiously vocal about what I think/feel. Or maybe in a more positive light, it just means I'm passionate, intense. And with how much I've questioned myself in the past year or so, it's nice to know I still have that in me, and that I'm surrounded by people who have that in them too.

I freaking love you people. Sorry if I don't tell you that enough.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Ten years ago today, on October 23, 2000, I flipped over the handlebars of my Razor scooter on the way to school and lost one of my front teeth. I was eleven years old, and in the sixth grade.

Those scooters were really popular around then, and I begged my grandparents for one. My grandfather, having heard that they were dangerous, told me he'd buy one for me as long as I promised to only ride on the sidewalk. That wasn't too smart of him; the scooters were dangerous because of their tiny wheels. It was much safer to ride them in the street, which was smoother than the sidewalk.

Except at this time of year, when there are leaves and branches everywhere. A block away from school, I hit a twig and went flying. I landed face-down on the cement, and it took me a few seconds to realize that my tooth was loose and my bottom lip was all bloody. I just sat there in a daze for a few seconds, and finally, a seventh grader named Martha came over and helped me up. She flagged down a car, and the woman driving gave us tissues from her glove box and offered us a ride to school.

We went to the office and the secretary called my mom. By that point, I was crying and shaking and generally reacting the way you'd think a typical eleven-year-old would, so it was determined that I wouldn't stick around for classes that day. My mom took me to see the dentist, who stitched up my lip and told me that the tooth would probably work its way back into place and that would be the end of it.

Not so.

A few months later, my lip no longer resembled an overinflated balloon, but my tooth was still loose, and turning funny colors. So I underwent a series of root canals.

Everyone hears that and cringes. Root canals are unpleasant, and I was especially young. But to be honest, I didn't mind it all that much. I have a high pain tolerance. And all the pitying attention was nice. And I got to miss a lot of school.

The "dontists" (as I called them: endodontist, periodontist, orthodontist) were unable to save my tooth. The bone inside my gum was deteriorating, and so in June of 2001, the tooth was extracted.

So there I was, a twelve-year-old girl without a front tooth. Sounds like a self-esteem disaster, doesn't it? It wasn't; I had (and still have) the personality of a nine-year-old boy. They fitted me with a temporary, removable tooth, called a "flipper." I wore it until I reached the age of seventeen. I wasn't able to have a permanent one placed until everyone was 100% certain that I was done growing. Had they placed it too early, it would have interfered with the growth of my jaw.

So I spent my awkward teenage years freaking out my sister's elementary school-aged friends by taking out my tooth. I usually incorporated the missing tooth into Halloween costumes; one year I was a generationally confused punk rock grandmother, complete with dentures.

Then, when I was sixteen, I began the process of getting a permanent tooth implanted. It was crazy. For about a year and a half, I was in an out of the dentist's and oral surgeon's offices. I had a bone graft done to replace what had deteriorated, and then once that healed, they attached metal to it, and attached the tooth itself to that. On top of that, I had all the typical dental stuff done: got my teeth cleaned every six months, had my wisdom teeth taken out. I lost track of what my appointments were for. I just showed up when they told me to, and let them do their thing.

So in March of 2007, when I showed up for some procedure or another, I was surprised to find everyone in the office looking particularly excited.

Turns out it was my last appointment EVER. They finished it off and sent me home with a brand new tooth. You'd really never be able to tell that it's an implant.

And I took "last appointment EVER" literally, by the way. I finally went in for a teeth cleaning this past summer, and got seriously reprimanded for putting it off for so long.

But like I said, I have the personality/sense of humor of a nine-year-old boy. And if you told a nine-year-old boy that he never had to see the dentist again, he'd be really pissed off if you decided to put him in the car and take him in for a cleaning.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

DeRoy Lecture Series: Heather Love, "The Stigma Archive" at Wayne State

I miss out on everything, because I'm taking 17 credits and have a part-time job. But if I had time, I'd go to this (which means if you have time, you should go to this).

Here's what was written in the e-mail I received via Wayne State's women's studies listserv; the attached flier may be hard to read.

Thursday, October 21, at noon
English Department Lecture Room: 5057 Woodward, room #10302
Heather Love, "The Stigma Archive"

Heather Love is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania. Her areas of interest include gender studies and queer theory, the literature and culture of modernity, affect studies, film and visual culture, psychoanalysis, race and ethnicity, sociology and literature, and critical theory. She is the author of _Feeling Backward: Loss and the Politics of Queer History_ (Harvard, 2007) and the co-editor of a special issue of New Literacy History ("Is There Life after Identity Politics?"). She is the editor of a special issue of GLQ ("Rethinking Sex," forthcoming later this fall) about the work of anthropologist Gayle Rubin and the feminist roots of queer theory. This year she is a Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center working on a book on the source materials for Erving Goffman's 1963 book, _Stigma: On the Management of Spoiled Identity_.

Love Your Body Day; wear purple

Today is Love Your Body Day. I didn't even know about it until earlier this week, when I received an e-mail about it via Wayne State's women's studies listserv. I found some great posters on this blog: Communications of a Fat Waitress. I've included one with this post, but if you'd like to see more, you can click on the link; they're hanging up all over campus. :-)

Also, I'm wearing purple today in rememberance of the recent LGBT suicides. I hope you are, too.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

We're okay; it's okay.

I haven't had much of a social life since I moved back to Grosse Pointe. And that hasn't bothered me too much; I needed a break. But over the past couple of weeks, I've finally had the chance to see quite a few of my favorite people, and it has me thinking about a lot of things.

First, our culture is messed up for demanding we all be pragmatic workaholics. I don't think it's any kind of secret that things went to shit last year and I freaked out. I'm very proud of how well things are going now--proud because I know that perhaps the biggest reason for such a vast improvement is that I was active in my decision making. I could still be at SVSU right now, but I'm not. I could still be in the closet, but I'm not. You get the idea.

And yet, whenever people ask me what I'm doing with my life, both short term and long, I get insecure and defensive. Yeah, I transferred after three years, which is strange as hell, but, but, but! I'm taking 17 credits and working, blah, blah, blah. See? Even us weird artist types are capable of being productive members of society. Wah, wah.

After work last night, I got together with my friend Stephanie for a couple of beers. We hadn't seen each other in way too long. We went to high school together; she lives in Chicago now, but came to town for the weekend to help her mom move. After we hung out last night, she updated her blog with, "I love you, Amelia. People like you make me feel like the rest of the world is insane and we're doing okay."

I feel the same way about her, and most of my friends, for that matter. And maybe that sounds immature. But I don't mean it the same way I would have meant it had I said that in high school. I just mean that I need my friends to remind me that even though we're oddballs, we're not alone.

And that leads me to my second point: It's okay. I feel really weird when the woman whose kids I watch on weeknights asks me what I do on the weekends. The truth: I geek out on Project Muse. I read Feministing. I bond with my cat. I watch countless episodes of The Golden Girls. I go out occasionally, but not often. And when I do, it's with people like Stephanie. And we talk about poetry and/or feminism.

I had lunch yesterday with a few of my friends from the Controlled Burn Seminar for Young Writers (pictured above). It was the most refreshing thing ever. Patric (who's a grad student at Wayne State) talked about research and Ireland. Lucy (who's an undergrad at NMU, and editor-in-chief of the newspaper there) talked about how much she loves her history classes and this swanky recorder she bought for interviews.

This past year, I've just really been learning to respect myself and my limits. I don't think I was a very good editor. But that doesn't mean I can't be a good...something else. Because I don't know what I want to do with myself yet, exactly. And that may not be okay by you, but I've finally reached a point where it's okay by me. I'm weird. I'm happy. I'm productive in my own strange way. I'm not alone. And that (right now, at least) is all that matters.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Coming out

Oh, wow. What an intense couple of days it's been.

I came out as a lesbian to my mom last night, and then came out to my dad today.

They both took it really well; I couldn't have asked for a better reaction from them. I'm relieved, grateful, and incredibly happy. I'm also exhausted. This was very emotionally draining; I can't imagine what it would have been like had they not been accepting of it.

I've felt ready to take this step for a while, and promised myself that I'd begin by telling my mom sometime this week. A few people have asked me if I was planning to do it because of National Coming Out Day, and the answer to that is no. I think it's pretty neat that I just happened to be ready to come out to my parents around this time of year. But regardless of what the calendar says, I couldn't have done this had I not felt 100% ready to do so. And it has taken me a long time to feel ready.

I had an opportunity to tell my mom yesterday. My sister was taking a nap and my dad wasn't home. And I figured that waiting wouldn't make it any easier. So I just did it. She was on the back deck reading a book. I interrupted and asked if we could talk. And then I just kind of told her. She looked taken aback and was silent for a few seconds; it was so awkward that I'm pretty sure I started rambling about who knows what. But then she said very calmly, "Okay. Tell me how you figured this out."

I told her everything: where I was at in high school, what happened during my three years in Saginaw. And then I told her where I'm at now, and why I hadn't told her sooner. I finished by giving her the opportunity to ask questions.

One of the things she asked me is whether I support gay marriage. I told her that yes, I do, and she asked me why. I explained that I believe "civil unions" (which she supports) would only segregate heterosexual and homosexual couples. I used the example of segregation in the South, and pointed out that the facilities blacks were permitted to use were not actually equal to those reserved for white people. I told her that the only way to achieve equality is to use the word "marriage": if heterosexuals can marry but homosexuals can only enter into a civil union, the wording would allow lawmakers to limit the rights of homosexual couples.

I don't know whether I changed my mom's mind on the matter, but she told me that my argument made a lot of sense, and didn't argue with me about it. That meant a lot to me. She just surprised me by accepting what I was telling her--all of it.

After we talked, I went to my room and sobbed for a solid ten minutes (which doesn't sound too ridiculous, but believe me, ten minutes is long time to cry that hard). I just couldn't believe I'd finally told her, and that she didn't think any less of me. It really, really means a lot to know that even though there's just so much we don't "get" about each other (she's pro-life, for crying out loud), she's still able to accept me for who I am.

This morning, I woke up feeling drained but happy. My mom and I had breakfast together before I left for school. And while we were eating, she told me that she had talked to Dad, and though she hadn't outed me to him, she had told him to expect me to tell him something very important soon. (Hint, much?)

I was a little annoyed with her for doing that. It took a long time to talk myself into telling my mom I'm gay. And it took a lot out of me; I didn't know how soon I'd be up to talking to my dad, especially since I figured telling him would be more difficult than telling my mom had been.

But today at school, the GLBTA hosted a National Coming Out Day celebration. One of the events was a speech by Dr. John Corvino, and one of the things he said really struck me: I'm paraphrasing here, but basically, he stressed the importance of coming out (if/when it's safe to do so), in order to live by example. People are more supportive of LGBT issues than ever before because they know us, and know that our sexuality doesn't keep us from functioning in society. Not only is coming out healthy, it's imperative. If we aren't honest about it with ourselves and others, we're enforcing the idea that homosexuality is a "dirty little secret." It infuriates me that people who build their lives/politics around love are made to feel ashamed of that. And with the startlingly high number of recent teen LGBT suicides, it's important to be honest and vocal. Doing so could literally save lives.

And so not only is this why I decided to come out to my dad tonight, but also why I decided to post this. I wanted (nay, needed) to write about it, but at first didn't think it wise to do so in a public venue. Wrong-o. Now I realize it'd be wrong not to.

As for coming out to my dad: It was pretty anticlimactic. I told him I'm gay. He asked me how I knew. I told him everything I had already told my mom, then gave him the opportunity to ask questions. He didn't have any. He just told me that he didn't understand it, but still loved me. And that was that.

I know that this is a process. It took me a long time to come to terms with my sexuality, and it'll take my parents a long time too, I'm sure. But I couldn't be more proud of them for how they handled what I told them. I really needed them to accept it, accept me. And they did.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Why I blog

I started this blog in July of 2009, but have only recently started updating it often (several times per week instead of only once every couple of months). And because I have friends who maintain blogs with a specific focus (book reviews, feminism, etc), I've been thinking about my own blogging habits, and why it is I choose not to focus on any particular topic.

And I've come to this conclusion: This blog is an experiment. For me, it's as much about the writing process as it is about the subject matter of my posts.

It's been nearly two years since I last wrote a poem. Crazy, right? After devoting damn near all my time to poetry, suddenly being so uninspired felt unnatural and weird. I got sort of mopey and tried to make myself accept the frightening idea that writing just wasn't a part of my life anymore.

But after a while, I started experimenting with forms of writing less familiar to me. I didn't make a conscious decision to pursue something else; I just started writing and what came out wasn't poetry. I actually spent quite a bit of time over the summer working on a memoir. It was sort of silly; I doubt I'll ever finish it. And even if I do, I don't intend to share it with anyone, much less publish it. I just wrote it because it was there inside me and well, to quote the late Rachel Corrie, "Stories go rancid inside of you if you don't let them out."

And the same pretty much goes for this blog. I'm aware that it's a bit self-indulgent. I occasionally post links to my entries on Facebook and/or Twitter; sometimes people read what I post, and sometimes they don't. Whether they do doesn't make much difference to me. I'm just enjoying the chance to familiarize myself with a form of writing I didn't engage in much previously.

Over the past year or so, I've really embraced the fact that there's really so much I'm interested in/fascinated by/passionate about: politics, feminism, literature--the list goes on and on. I'm so much happier now that I've allowed myself to venture beyond my comfort zone. And I see this blog as an extension of that.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Let me gush about Han Nolan's new book for a second.

I just finished reading Han Nolan's latest YA novel, _Crazy_, which was just released last month.

Wow. Nolan never disappoints. I've gushed about her before, so I won't go on detail about why it is I love her books so much. Suffice it to say, though, that _Crazy_ is just as good as the books of hers that preceded it.

It made me laugh and it made me cry. It made my chest hurt and it made my jaw drop a few times. It's about a fourteen-year-old boy, Jason, whose mother has died. And he's living with/taking care of his father, who is mentally ill. Jason relies on the voices in his head to help him navigate through life, but slowly learns to accept that he can't manage everything on his own.

Here's a passage that really stuck out for me:

"The way people come and go in your life, where they're present and alive one minute, and missing or dead the next, is an idea that's too big for me to grasp. Life just seems way too fragile all of the sudden, and everybody seems to take it so lightly, as if they all think we're made like army tanks, big and strong and able to roll over anything in our way. And it's not just our bodies that are fragile; our minds are even more so. I don't know what fine membrane separates sanity from insanity, but after watching my dad slip-sliding around on the border between the two all my life, I know how easy it is to cross, and this scares me...It's too easy to slip up, to slip off, and flip out" (224-225).

As I read that passage, I thought about how much I wish this book had existed a year ago, when I went into existential crisis mode and suddenly wasn't able to recognize myself anymore.

When I picked up this book, I had not expected to relate to it on any level at all. I mean, let's get real for a second. My mom's not dead and my dad's not crazy.

But a year ago, I was struggling to care about school/my job as editor-in-chief of a literary journal. And I found it incredibly difficult because so much crazy shit had happened to my friends that year: One friend's mom and brother died, another's six-year-old daughter drowned, and one's house burned down. I was made aware of just how fragile life really is, and was afraid of losing everyone/thing. That fear made me lose myself just a little.

I don't know. I guess I can't really compare. But at the very least, I can't deny that this book was oddly really comforting to me, as all of Nolan's books are.

You're missing out if you don't read them.

Friday, October 1, 2010

I love Fridays. And everything/one.

I've discovered that it's physically impossible for me to wake up before 10:30 a.m. on Friday mornings. And I love that. Means I've earned it. :-)

This week has been great. Not because it's been perfect. It hasn't. But it's been great anyway, just because.

Because on Monday I received a card in the mail from a friend who lives in Midland.

Because on Tuesday morning, I woke up to rain and wind. And it made me grumpy, so I got online and bought a copy of the first season of The Golden Girls on DVD.

Because on Wednesday, my copy of Han Nolan's new book, _Crazy_ finally came in the mail.

And because on Thursday I baked cookies with the girls I babysit for, and they worked so well together. They took turns kneading the dough and didn't fight over the cookie cutters. And later that night, when the youngest (four) burned her finger on a light bulb in the bedroom they share, the eldest (seven) found the Band Aids and suggested I make an ice pack.

This week has had its moments of epic suckiness, too. I took an astronomy quiz that I'm pretty sure I bombed. And I've been following a story on the news about Michigan's assistant attorney general, who apparently has nothing better to do than write hateful things in a blog about U of M's openly gay student body president. Speaking of of the news, I found out earlier this week that my favorite anchor (Robbie Timmons on WXYZ in Detroit) is retiring. It's probably weird to have a favorite news anchor, but I've always been a Robbie Timmons fan. In 1972, she became the first woman in the US to anchor a 6 and 11 o'clock newscast. I think that's pretty badass, and will miss seeing her on the air every day.

Whenever I mention how happy I am these days, someone inevitably asks me what I'm smokin'. And even though they're kidding, it bothers me a little. Because it isn't euphoria or giddyness. It's just that I'm awake and aware and alive in a way I wasn't a year ago. Things still piss me off and break my heart and all of that. But I'm here, and I'm so glad I'm here, just living and doing and being.