This is a huge post but I needed to write it. Read it if you want.
What can I do now? What can I do to keep every single moment in my mind forever?
How is it possible that Daniella (my student assistant) and I no longer work together every day? How is it possible that I will never again enter 3B’s classroom and greet the sixteen little souls that I had been entrusted to look after and teach every day?
How can I keep the memories? What can keep me from forgetting? Deirdres smile every time she saw me and how we struggled to make sense of math problems. Luke’s tantrums. Even Jake’s stupid comments or how he insisted on bringing a fidget spinner into the classroom even though we had had no choice but to ban them.. Or how the majority of my kids seemed incapable of learning to stay quiet. Or stay seated.
Please help me remember. Playing games. Reading the fourth Harry Potter book for them. Marvin’s childish charm which made it impossible to stay mad at him no matter how difficult he had been. Katie and Maisie, my darling girls who have helped me so much. How Phoebe’s anger could be turned into creativity. How I’ve gotten at least one hug from Tina.
Or how when we were going to go and sing for the parents on the last day, I didn’t need to tell them – they just lined up behind me like a row of ducklings.
Or how Louise, one of my younger coworkers, would light up my day with a hug or even just a smile.
My classroom is so empty now. I cleaned all the text from the whiteboard. Took their drawings down. Cleaned. Wiped away our memories of tears and yelling and laughing and smiling. And learning of course.
How can it be over? Why isn’t it still January?
I seriously, seriously, seriously love my job.
(All kid’s names are changed)
Pride has come to town. Sadly, I’m quite reserved. That includes my sexuality.
I’m comfortable. It’s not a big deal anymore. I’m still occasionally worried that a parent is going to freak out and complain (I’m a school teacher after all and to some homosexuality is contagious -.-) I’m not in the closet. Not even to my students. I don’t make announcements of course, but if it comes up in conversation I don’t deny it. If they ask if I’m married (and children do, especially if you’re a young woman it seems) I tell them “I don’t have a husband, I have a wife” and like I’ve mentioned before, kids usually don’t care.
I think the best gift we can give our kids, in terms of different sexualities, is to not make discourse of everything. As an adult I’m tired of lectures at university or high school telling me “when we meet gay people we must be nice to them”. I’ve never met another message than an ‘us and them’ message. It doesn’t matter how well meant it is. It shows that the lecturer or teacher or professor is straight and they assume that everyone in the room is straight too. And message recieved. I will always be “them”, “the other”. The message is not for me. I don’t want to be taught to be nice to gay people.
That’s not what I want for my students. I want it to be a non-issue. If my kids come running, telling me that someone is gay, my answer is always a mindless, adult, “oh that’s nice dear”. Call me crazy, but I think that if I start telling my kids “don’t say that, don’t call them gay, they’re probably not gay and even if they are, that’s okay, gay people are people too…,” all they will learn is that gay people are the other. It becomes an issue. If we want it to be normality, we need to treat it like normality. If we make it a discourse, it will be a discourse and you’ll wind up with kids like me – quite sad and uncomfortable when they learn that they are lesbian.
Speak about gender. Yes! Talk abut the right to be who you are. Who you want to be. You’re allowed to wear what you want, have nail polish if you want. Talk about the fact that gender doesn’t matter. But don’t turn sexuality into a subject that needs to be taught. We don’t do that with heterosexuality and as long as we treat homosexuality like something different, it will remain something different. We need it normalised. Not special.
Lesbian is not all I am. It doesn’t define who I am. The gender of my wife has nothing to do with my personality. It defines how I think to some degree, it has influenced my experiences. But it is not all I am and I don’t want it painted as such.
I am very proud of and grateful for the great people who came before me. Thank you for my right to marry. My security. My ability and right to raise kids. Compared to older lesbians my life has been, is, so easy (my wife’s life hasn’t, but that’s a different story). So thank you for your struggle. It is called Pride, not as in the biblical sin but as in “we are not ashamed”. And we shouldn’t be ashamed because we have nothing to be ashamed of.
But gosh, my reserved nature does not like pride. Or maybe that’s shyness. I’ve known I’m a lesbian for ten years now and I’ve never been (and I’ve lived in three different towns that hosts Pride festivals). I’m equally terrified and curious. (and enjoying the rainbows which are EVERYWHERE this week) So this is my thank you instead.
Thank you for your struggle, to all who struggle for LGBTQA rights. And I’m sorry for my cowardice and occasional recluse nature. I will most likely hide this year as well.
And what have I done? To be honest it feels like nothing. On average I’m writing 300 words a week if even that. Updating my blog isn’t even on the radar. Even though I want to, I really want to. It’s May. Last time I updated my blog was January.
I looked at my goals for the year yesterday. Almost all of them are writing-related. And what am I doing? I’m either dealing with the stupid health issues or working. There isn’t much energy for else. And most of the time I don’t even feel guilty. I’m doing the best with what I’ve been given. And you know what? I have less than twenty working days until the summer. And during the summer I will collect myself, get my body to work again properly and have so much time to write. Before then all I can do is bide my time.
So I’ll probably not write anything here until the middle of June, but luckily it’s not far away. In the meantime I can start thinking about what I actually want to blog about.
Before I graduated, the idea of my blog was short stories. And it kind of works (except the mess that is “Never break a leg before christmas”, I know I haven’t finished it and honestly I will) except during school weeks when lesson plans take up a lot of my creativity and energy. Whatevers left I want to give to novels or novellas. So what can I blog about? What do people blog about? I don’t have that much writing experience, I mean, I do but not if you compare to other bloggers. Especially not this dreadful year. I have very little experience with self-publishing. What can I write about then? Teaching. I have experienced with violent kids, kids with dyslexia, kids with ADHD, unhelpful parents. I can talk about being rootless, of not living in a place more than four years all my life. I guess I can talk about boats. And nature. I can talk about stress and guilt. Of putting on music and dancing around to it. What else is there to me?
My mum gave me this light. It runs on cooking oil, how cool is that?
Here we are again, first of January! Welcome to 2017! I was reading my January first post from last year and I just feel like 2016 went incredibly fast.
So many things happened, not just in the world but in my own life. I got married, graduated and survived my first term as a proper teacher. I didn’t write as much as I have in previous years but since I’ve been busier than ever, I’m not too disappointed with myself (well, I’m trying not to be).
My goals for 2016 were:
- Finish On board the Monster (working title) which is my third novel.
- Properly revise Out of Hand and add at least 20k words.
- Find someone to publish State of Emergency.
- Participate in Nanowrimo for the first time.
How did I do?
I *didn’t* finish On Board the Monster, it’s sort of on a semi-permanent hiatus. There are other stories that called my heart too much. Instead I started, and finished, a contemporary romance called Stargazing which is about a pornstar and a virgin who falls in love.
I did revise Out of Hand and added a buckload of words. It’s been through another bout of beta reading and editing and I’m planning to self-publish it in early 2017. But more on that in another post.
I self-published State of Emergency in August and loved the experience. I still want a publisher to publish it sometime in the future but we’ll wait and see.
I didn’t participate in Nanowrimo. There is no way I manage and I’ll not have that as a goal this year. In the middle of term it feels like I work 24 hours a day, planning, correcting, contacting parents, plus the actual teaching. There is no way I’ll manage to cram out 50k words in a month. That part of my life is over.
My new goals for 2017 are:
- Revise and self-publish Out of Hand.
- Revise and send Stargazing to a publisher.
- Try to update my blog once a month.
- Not let my tumblr die. If I have one, I need to use it.
- Finish The New Story, another contemporary romance.
- Please, please, please finish Never break a leg before Christmas, (Come on, Kathy, this is getting ridiculous).
- Start the sequel for State of Emergency.
In just 12 days I’m moving to my new home. I think it’s going to boost my creativity a lot. The last six months I’ve been commuting four hours a day plus living in very tight quarters with too many other people.
I want this year to be a year of, well, writing again. More writing than 2016. Also happiness. And hope. And all the good things.
Happy January first everyone!
It gets better.
Today I ran my fastest kilometer ever and it felt absolutely amazing. As I was feeling the world rush by, I couldn’t help but think back to just four years ago.
I can imagine the girl that I was, 22, run into the ground. When I was 22 I was… sad. I don’t want to say depressed because I never received any diagnosis nor did I seek help for it, but I was numb and completely empty inside. I cried every night. My body continued without me as I got up every day, as I cooked and cleaned, as I took care of my unwell girlfriend, as I listened to my mother cry every single day on the phone, as I worked part time and studied full time, as I counted every penny and knew that even if I cut myself in two and sold half we couldn’t afford food. Hardly rent. So I worked more. More money. Less time. But at least I didn’t have to stare at the tomatoes and cucumber and know that I had to choose. I couldn’t afford both.
And friends? I wasn’t too liked at my uni. We lived in the north and I was from the south. I didn’t speak like them. I didn’t know the area like them. I was isolated on the island we had created, far away from any friends and family. My girlfriend and I. Not really Swedish. We had only been in this country, my country, for two years. And I hated it. I missed Britain. I wished I hadn’t left the country I had lived my whole adult life in.
But at 22 I went back to writing. I had written earlier of course, but between the ages of 19 and 22 I wrote nothing. I didn’t have any words. But suddenly they came back with a vengeance. I wrote to feel something. To find myself again. To find the spark that had been killed as I had lost myself years before.
So I went looking. I went looking for the 17-year-old who had left home, fresh-faced and naive. I didn’t know the girl I had used to be anymore, all I knew was that she had died in Britain. She had died so that I could be born and at 22 I didn’t know who I was yet. I have tried telling people this. But they always say “you’re always so happy” and I guess I was always happy. I had the world on my shoulders and a smile on my lips. I was good at pretending.
I used to feel sorry for myself. Not the 22-year-old me, but the Kathy who was a teenager. The 18-year-old who lived alone in a cold flat in a little British town. No hot water. I boiled water on the stove to wash my clothes in the bathtub. The building I lived in was situated between three pubs and I would lay awake in my bed listening to the roars and shouts of the drunk people downstairs. In the winter my flat was so cold I would go to bed at 6 PM just to get warm again. Double trousers, jumper, cover and blanket. And I learned. I learned to cook, and after the skin fell of my hands I learned not to wash my clothes without plastic gloves.
But at the same time I lost myself.
I wanted to hug little me, and tell her that it’ll be okay and that I’m so sorry she had to die.
But everyone has to grow up sometime.
At 22 I changed. I found writing again, and a friend was nice enough to send me Jae’s Backwards to Oregon. Then several of Gil McKnight’s books. Which introduced me to lesbian fiction.
And I found myself again. My girlfriend stopped sleeping so much. We moved back south and I started studying here instead. I started believing in myself. I started running. I’m asthmatic and sometimes I thought I would die. But I ran. And I wrote. And I read. And I lived.
I don’t live by my past anymore. I don’t need every difficult thing to be a part of my identity and I have restored the connection with the girl I was. And now?
Now I’m married. We have two dogs. I have graduated and I have a wonderful job waiting for me that I’m starting on Monday. And this week I published my first novel.
And today I ran my fastest kilometer ever.
You can find my musings on my past a lesbian here.
I’ve been teaching primary school on and off for years while working on a teaching licence at university. (I’m graduating next Friday and finally getting my own class in August!) During this time I’ve worked at over five different schools in three different towns, anything from kindergarten to seventh grade and anything from just an afternoon to several consecutive weeks.
The difference in myself is striking. From being 22 and nervous to 26 and ready to take on this job full-time. I’m still much younger than the majority of my coworkers, but I’m comfortable in the classroom in front of the children. It’s been years since I locked myself in the bathroom to cry my eyes out after a bad math lesson. But I digress.
This is about being a lesbian and being out at work. Because that is something else that has changed over the years.
I’m lucky enough to live and work in Sweden. This is an open, modern country, in many ways and that includes LGBT rights. I have never, yes, that’s never, met any negativity of any sort in the workplace. I’ve met it in other places, of course, but never at a school where I’ve worked.
When I started working I tried so hard to keep it a secret. Scarred from past experiences I suppose.
I worked second grade and the questions rained over me.
“Miss! Do you have a boyfriend?” “Miss Kathy, Kathy, do you have a husband?” “Who do you live with?” Children ask a lot of questions. Always. That’s what they do.
Silly me, filled with dread. Not because I was necessarily nervous about the childrens’ reactions, but the reactions from other adults.
Was it inappropriate? To casually answer “I don’t have a boyfriend, I have a girlfriend”?
I eventually asked another teacher and she seemed surprised that I was even worried about something so silly and trivial. Straight people usually don’t understand the worry, the fear. I was still relieved over her answer.
So, palms sweaty and with my heart in my throat, I did it. My voice casual but crying inside my head. I was so sure that someone would tell their parents and that something bad would happen.
Well, it’s been four years and nothing bad has happened yet. I’ve even met another lesbian teacher. I’m not as naive to think that I’ll never meet any negativity, but I’m not scared anymore.
I never announce it, but if I get the question, I can just answer: “I don’t have a husband, I have a wife.”
And children, depending on the age, can give any sort of reaction.
“Oh it’s like Anja Pärson.” (Swedish celebrity skier)
“Is that allowed?”
“What’s her name?”
“Why do you have a wife?”
“Do you kiss?”
“How are you going to have a baby?”
Yesterday I got the question “but which one of you is the man?” Which I thought was so adorable, because the litte girl didn’t mean it the way an adult would mean it.
For most children it’s a non-issue. They are still learning how the world looks and works and they accomodate new information, just like when they learn that air has mass (we had a physics lab last week). They get curious, they ask questions (in the case of my current school, A LOT of questions) but most of the time it’s okay.
Am I scared when I come out to people? Yeah I am. I’ve had some bad experiences and I’m not as confident or bold as I was when I was 18. I’m more reserved, more careful. Which is not always a bad thing.
I wish it was a non-issue in society too. I’m proud of being a lesbian. How could I not be when there are so many wonderful women that share that word with me? Including my wife who is everything. I wish it was just a descriptor, like that I’m short or a brunette. I wish lesbian didn’t make me “the other”. But it doesn’t matter. It is what it is and I’m more than lucky to be living here and I know it.
It’s hard to believe that 2016 is here, but I love the refreshing feeling of January first. Enveloped in the feeling of new beginnings, new chances, a new lease on life. And for me, this means new writing goals.
In 2016 I hope to:
- Finish On board the Monster (working title) which is my third novel.
- Properly revise Out of Hand and add at least 20k words.
- Find someone to publish State of Emergency.
- Participate in Nanowrimo for the first time.
I also want to write several short stories to post here of course. Finish Never Break a Leg Before Christmas (which should have been finished by now but life got in the way sadly), but I also have two contemporary romance short lesfics that I will finish and post quite soon.
I want this to be a year of writing, but considering that I’m also starting my second thesis in two months, getting married in three months and graduating in five, we’ll see how it goes.
Despite how busy I’m going to be in the next six months, I’m very excited about all the wonderful stories I’m going to meet, both my own and others. All in all, I’m looking forward for the year.
I think it’s going to be absolutely wonderful.
Happy 1st of January everyone! 😀
I’m a firm believer in doing what makes you happy. Everything I do, from work to play, need to benefit me in some way. The good need to outweigh the bad, which is why I go to the dentist or go to work even with a terrible headache. Or cook when I’m tired.
But then there is the curious case of writing. Writing, oh man, writing is within this way of thinking ruining my life. Writing is a source of stress, anxiety, guilt, tears and fights between me and my fiancee. There are good things too, joy, pride, a sense of accomplishment. But if I didn’t have the absolute compulsion to write, I should within my philosophy, feel pressured to stop. Writing makes me happy, but it also makes me miserable.
I just couldn’t stop even if I wanted to. I’ve always been writing and I *am* always writing. I can come home from work at five o’clock in the afternoon and feel like getting at least 1000 words done before I can sleep. I can write among people, in the car, on the bus, outside, inside, in the morning and in the night. By hand, on my laptop or lately on my phone. I’m a writer and that’s something that was chosen for me. Not something I chose for myself.
And that’s what writing is to me. It’s not just something I do for fun, or what I hope to do for living in the future. Writing is an integral part of me, it sticks to my body like a second skin and I doubt I will ever be able to stop. And to tell the truth, I don’t ever want to stop either. Sometimes I just need a reminder.
Before I came out to my parents I sent them a questionnaire on “what you would do if your kid came out as gay?” I said it was for sociology. I thought I was so sly at the time, now I just think it was kind of pathetic. I don’t even remember what they answered anymore, it doesn’t matter, because about a month later I came out to them. They should have seen it coming, I had been talking about “my new friend” L for weeks by then. I really couldn’t shut up about her. Even before we actually started dating. I just thought she was amazing.
…and I still do, since we’re getting married soon-ish. (and she is amazing, honestly)
I didn’t see it coming. I had assumed that there was just something wrong with me, something that was missing. I wish I could have just realised that I was gay. I think my adolesence would have been a little bit more fun then. I went on my fair share of dates with boys but I liked them as friends mainly and I feel sorry for the ones that had the aspiration to even kiss me.
Now, almost 8 years since I came out to my parents and to myself, I realise that the signs were there. I just wasn’t looking hard enough. I’ve had four big crushes on girls:
1. I was 8 and I had this huge crush on a girl in the 9th grade (I know, I know). She had red curly hair and for the school talent show she did this really cool dance. Afterwards we were standing waiting for parents and stuff and eventually it was just me and her left. I remember thinking that I had to say something. Thank god I didn’t. Gosh I was a little weirdo. I still remember her dance though and that night… and her hair.
2. I was 11 and it was a girl my own age, thankfully. It was when we were living in the UAE. She was from South Africa, really tall and very, very cool. I’d watch her play football a lot. Sadly she was kind of a bully and not very nice to me at all, but we don’t need to focus on that.
3. Oh. This one I remember! I was 15 just going on 16 and I fell madly for my Swedish and English teacher. She was 24 and just out of teaching school. Probably that’s why she was so idealistic. She would give me extra reading material and extra assigments, finally, I needed it. She really liked her job. And I really liked her.
4. This was minor but I can’t really deny it. I changed schools (moved a lot, changed a lot of schools) again. This was a tiny school and in French class we were only five students. Me and this girl, we’ll call her C, were advanced and the other three were beginners. C was much better at French than I was. I tried but I had started writing more seriously and my head was up in the clouds. And she was so cool. Not my type at all now, very short and girly, but very funny and very smart. I actually told her that I’d had a crush on her much later. It was a funny conversation… anyway, my most clear memory was when this French teacher came to visit our school and our teacher wanted us to talk with him and show him around the school. A man, young, I suppose good looking. C got so giggly. She couldn’t get a word out, she spoke French fluently and suddenly she didn’t speak a single word. So I had to speak with this guy in my broken French as we showed him around the school.
So I really should have seen it coming when I fell heels over head in love with the love of my life. She wasn’t what I had been looking for, but I knew once I found her. This is it.