Initial Attraction – Person vs. Gender

I am having trouble putting my thoughts into words with the question I have.

When you are first attracted or become romantically interested in someone, which is more important — something that makes them interesting as an individual or their gender?

I consider myself mostly straight and I am married to a man. I fantasize about men a lot, but I fantasize about women a fair amount as well. Unfortunately, I do not have enough experience with other genders.

I guess I sort of have a type — I like men that are nerdy, smart, and older than me, but really I have been attracted to all sorts of people. I feel a unique feature or interesting personality pulls me in more than anything else.

I’ve just always felt that when you fall in love with someone that it’s with the person and maybe at that point, their gender doesn’t matter as much.

But what about when you first meet someone? What matters the most? For me, if it was person vs gender, I think person would win every time. 

Am I making any sense? Does anyone else feel this way?

Day Drinking and Writing – Erotic Poetry

With Covid-19 and a lack of work, I’ve been spending a lot of time day drinking and writing. I’m not going to lie — it’s kind of nice. However, I’m scared that when this is all said and done, I might be out of a job. The mental health board gives us the grant that funds my job, and I know they’re going to be making cuts. With everything going on, how could they not? My job is running an arts program and we all know the arts go first. I’m worried but trying to focus on the here and now. Right now I can write as much as I want, so I have several projects I’m working on. 

I’ve shared a couple of the projects I’m working on, and I’m making a lot of progress, but I don’t think I’ve told you that I’m writing a chapbook of erotic poetry. It is so much fun. 

I want to share a couple of poems I’m working on. (Don’t worry — nothing too raunchy, and yes, I like bald men.) 

 

Softness and Torture

Smooth head,
strong hard-working hands,
and a shy smile —
I love being naked
and watching him touch me
for the first time.
My body is full-fledged
but I’m a shiny new thing to him.
He teases
examining every inch of me
with his careful touch
from my neck
to my anxious hips.
The world dissolves around me
as my body spreads wide
in the nothingness.
We’re alone in the abyss.
He takes command
of my vulnerable state
as my fingers cling to the sheets —
my only anchor to reality.
My fantasies are outrageous
but the way he makes me smile
is genuine.
This stranger takes me
to another world
and I surrender to the
softness and torture.

 

Woman

I wonder what your blonde curls smell like
when I twirl them between my fingers —
beckoning vines pulling me in with every breath.

I wonder what your crimson pout tastes like
or what I will look like with your lipstick smeared on my face.
Give my sheltered life a little more color.

I wonder what it’s like to touch your powder-soft skin
or to kiss the secrets you hide from the world.
I wonder what it’s like to feel your warmth from the inside out.

I want to satisfy my teasing curiosity —
slowly, with all my senses.
I want to celebrate your curves and make you smile.

My husband doesn’t mind.
He’ll leave us alone
because he wants me to love without restraints.

I want my fantasies to be memories and not “what if’s”. 

Recovery Anniversary — Bulimic But Almost An Atheist

Monday was the 16th anniversary of my admission to an eating disorder clinic. I was only 21 and completely exhausted when admitted. With blood, sweat, and tears (lots of tears), the clinic kick-started my recovery, and after my five-week stay, I emerged as a grounded atheist with newfound curves and the potential for a future.

The clinic functioned on strict rules and schedules. Patients were monitored at all times — even in the bathroom. After a few weeks of healthy meals, my body began to change, but there were even more changes to come.

I met with a psychiatrist at the clinic and was diagnosed with bulimia nervosa. Soon after, psychotic and mood symptoms unrelated to the eating disorder prompted a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder.

With bulimia, I knew I was sick. I knew the behaviors were harmful and did them anyway. It had been going on for years. But with schizoaffective disorder, I didn’t know what I was experiencing was a mental illness.

I had always questioned the existence of god, but at the same time, I was experiencing auditory and visual hallucinations that I assumed were spiritual in nature. I thought I could communicate with dead people. I was always looking for an explanation and that’s the best I had — the only thing that made any bit of sense to me. I never considered it an illness. In fact, sometimes I considered it a gift. 

I came to the clinic *almost* an atheist — I didn’t believe in god and the hallucinations were the only thing tying me to any sort of spirituality. Enter Risperdal — the first antipsychotic I was ever prescribed. It kicked in after a few days and everything became quiet and still. It felt unreal, but to my amazement, it really was real.

That was the final nail in the coffin to any spirituality I had and I declared myself an atheist. What a freeing moment.

Today I live a really normal life despite occasionally struggling with my eating disorder and schizoaffective disorder. My symptoms certainly don’t pack the punch they used to, and I can move on pretty quickly after experiencing them. I have lots of help — my family is always around and I have an amazing doctor that I have seen for over a decade.

Every year on September 7th, I find a small way to celebrate my clinic admission day. I’ve come a long way.

 

Road Trip: Field Museum in Chicago

I just wanted to share some cute pictures.

My daughter is really into dinosaurs right now, so we decided to go to the Field Museum in Chicago this past weekend. I was a little nervous to go with the pandemic, but the museum wasn’t crowded at all. They limited ticket sales and it was actually really nice.

I love having a four-year-old. She’s so curious about everything and always asks a million questions. I hope that never fades.

I’m proud of my home and country accent.

I am currently writing a collection of letters to my daughter that I can hopefully put in a book about secular parenting at some point. I want to share a letter I recently wrote. It doesn’t really have anything to do with a secular childhood, but it’s still kind of fun, nonetheless. 

 

Dear daughter,

When I first went to college, I was occasionally called “fresh off the farm” due to my country accent. I was embarrassed. I actually worked pretty hard at trying to sound like I was from the city or suburbs. One word where my accent was particularly noticeable was “again”. I would pronounce it “ah-gee-an”. I didn’t even realize I was putting a whole extra syllable in it until it was pointed out to me. I practiced saying “again” over and over and my accent became less noticeable. I now think it’s pretty sad that I was self-conscious of how I spoke and I regret ever trying to change it.

Meanwhile, I had a professor from Mississippi who had lived here in Ohio for decades and still had a thick Southern accent. He didn’t care. It was a part of him and even kind of charming. I should have followed his example. 

Today, I am proud of where I’m from and I know I can’t help how I speak. Now I consider it an endearing part of who I am — just like my professor from Mississippi. 

I know as a teen and young adult you will probably want to get the hell out of Ohio — I know I did. And that’s okay. You are free to explore and I encourage you to go.

Our ancestors were some of the first settlers to the Great Black Swamp of Northwest Ohio and our family has lived here for generations. This is my home and I hope you feel that way, too — whether you settle down here or not. I hope you will have many good memories to carry with you as you find your place in this world.

Wherever you end up, please always be proud of who you are and where you’re from. You will always be welcome here.

Love,

Mom

 

Who else here has a fun accent? Are you proud of where you’re from?

Destructive Four-Year-Old vs. Sensitive Atheist Mom

I know my daughter is only four, but she seems to be a bit destructive these days. Recently, she cut up two of her toys with scissors — an alien and a dinosaur. I really don’t know why and it was kind of impressive how much damage she could do with a pair of kids safety scissors.

My husband thought nothing of it but I found it disturbing. I’m very sensitive and tend to personify everything. I name my belongings and talk to my plants. I’ve always been like that. I would have never purposely hurt my toys when I was little.

It’s not just cutting up these two toys; my daughter throws things away with no problem. If she makes a drawing or painting she doesn’t like, she throws it away. I still struggle with that, hence the numerous paintings in our garage. 

It seems like I can find a personal connection to or sentimental value in almost anything so I find it shocking when my daughter doesn’t give getting rid of something a second thought.

I know my daughter is only four and this is way more about me than her, but I am really curious if there are any other atheists out there with this kind of sensitivity. Obviously, I know people and things don’t have souls but I still somehow feel connected to things and feel guilty if they’re not respected.

Are there any other super sensitive atheists out there?

Pandemic Projects

Like most people, my job has been greatly affected by Covid-19. Our office closed in mid-March, reopened in mid-June only to close again two weeks ago. I am still getting paid and I do what I can from home. While I love working for a local nonprofit, the disruption in our programming due to the coronavirus has given me a lot of time to write. 

During this time I completed my poetry book and submitted the final manuscript to the publisher back in July.

I have been working on other projects — a series of essays on being on atheist with a mental illness and a collection of letters to my daughter of lessons from a secular childhood. I also started writing a chapbook of erotic poetry. There’s just so much I want to do.

I don’t know if I’ll end up having a job at the end of this pandemic, but I feel I have to live in the moment and take advantage of every free minute I have to write and explore new projects. When will I ever have an opportunity like this again?

The seriousness of the situation is not lost on me. I barely leave the house and when I do I always have a mask on. The thought of possibly losing my job is always in the back of my mind.

But right now I just want to write.

Has anyone else picked up some new projects during the pandemic?

A Progressive Couple with Traditional Roles

My husband and I are very progressive when it comes to political and social issues and we are passionate about the causes we support. I’m proud to say we are founding members of the Toledo Chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America.

However, we have very traditional roles. My husband is the provider. I have a part-time job but I spend most of my time at home with our daughter. It has been this way for about two and a half years now.

We never planned this lifestyle; it was just how the pieces fell, but I like it this way. With my husband bringing home the bacon I have ample time to work on art and writing projects and my husband is very supportive of the things that I do. I’m extremely grateful for that. 

On the flip side, I know this puts me in a bad position because I am completely dependent on my husband. I trust him but if anything were to happen, I’d be fucked.

I also wonder what kind of effect this might have on our daughter. I want her to know that this is my choice and she can choose whatever kind of lifestyle she wants as well. I like my daughter to see the different projects I do and I hope one day she will be proud of my work. I want her to see me doing cool things because she can do cool things, too. 

I know if I wanted to work full time again, my husband would be completely supportive. But right now I’m really happy with how things are. I would never dream in a million years that I would be in this position, but it’s really working out for us.

Atheist Voices of Minnesota

A few weeks ago a bought a book from the same publisher that’s working on my poetry book. It’s called Atheist Voices of Minnesota. It’s an anthology of personal stories.

The book sounded interesting and I was curious, but when I read it, it felt like something I really needed — you know what I mean? I don’t believe in fate or anything like that, but it was like I bought the book at just the right time. 

The first thing I thought was that Minnesota is in the Midwest, so they’re probably conservative like Ohio, right? Maybe not so much. 

The net proceeds from the sale of the book go to the nonprofit organization, Minnesota Atheists. This organization is mentioned in a few of the stories. This motivated me to search for atheist groups in Ohio, and I actually found a few. Albeit, not as organized as the group in Minnesota, but at least I know they are out there and I can get involved. I didn’t see any nonprofit organizations like Minnesota Atheists, but I found a Meet Up group and Facebook page. That’s something.

I was also surprised that the people that contributed to the book didn’t discuss family resistance to coming out as much as I thought they would. That also gave me some hope. I’ve always considered myself very fortunate that most of my family knows I’m an atheist and I haven’t been disowned or anything. It doesn’t come up much. I don’t think this would be true for many atheists in this area.

I also found these personal stories motivating, especially considering my current projects. I am working on a book that is a series of essays on being an atheist with a mental illness as well as a book on secular parenting that is a collection of letters to my daughter. Obviously, these projects are both really personal to me, so reading authentic and candid stories from the lives of other atheists is incredibly inspiring. 

One particular story is about a person overcoming alcoholism, and they mention the religious aspects of AA. I wrote about the 12 Steps last week on my blog. I totally get that. I have schizoaffective disorder and have also noticed spiritual aspects of different recovery programs. This is one reason why I feel the essays I’m writing about mental illness are important. 

And one huge highlight — our own PZ Myers contributed his story to the book!

 

Buy the book here!

Are you an atheist vegetarian or vegan?

It seems like recently I’ve read a lot about atheists who are also vegetarian or vegan. Is this common? If this is you, did your atheism affect your decision to commit to your diet?

I personally don’t know any vegetarians. I’m sure there are some in Toledo, but I’ve never actually met any. It’s definitely not common where I’m from, either. Several years back I met a man from India who was a vegetarian. That’s honestly the last I can remember. 

I grew up eating a pretty traditional Midwest meat-and-potatoes diet. While my husband and I don’t eat as hearty of meals now, there’s still a lot of meat involved. 

I know this isn’t going to make me popular, but being from a rural area I was raised with the mentality that animals on the farm are raised to die. That is their purpose. I guess that was enough justification for me — actually, I just try not to think about where meat comes from. I’m a pretty sensitive person and I personify just about anything with eyes. Also, I get grossed out really easily. Yeah — up until now I just tried not to think about it.

I honestly think if I ever decided to become a vegetarian the people around me would laugh and not take me seriously. Not that I’m really thinking about it; I’m just curious. 

I would love to hear about your experience.