Thursday, January 30, 2014

The wedding poem


I was married September 7, 2013. 

I, who have always wanted to be married, but never really thought I would be. 

I am married to someone I always knew I should be married to, but not someone I always knew, or thought I ever would know. 

I was, or we were, married by someone who understood how rare, how special, how...perfect this marriage, this meeting, was. Is. Someone who took the time to find a poem that was as touching as it was unexpected. 

A poem that was as much a surprise as the woman I married. And perfect. As she is perfect.

Perfection is never expected, and thus, is always a surprise. 

(Here is the poem Jill Malone chose for us.)

Today when persimmons ripen
Today when fox-kits come out of their den into snow
Today when the spotted egg releases its wren song
Today when the maple sets down its red leaves
Today when windows keep their promise to open
Today when fire keeps its promise to warm
Today when someone you love has died
or someone you never met has died
Today when someone you love has been born
or someone you will not meet has been born
Today when rain leaps to the waiting of roots in their dryness
Today when starlight bends to the roofs of the hungry and tired
Today when someone sits long inside his last sorrow
Today when someone steps into the heat of her first embrace
Today, let this light bless you
With these friends let it bless you
With snow-scent and lavender bless you
Let the vow of this day keep itself wildly and wholly
Spoken and silent, surprise you inside your ears
Sleeping and waking, unfold itself inside your eyes
Let its fierceness and tenderness hold you
Let its vastness be undisguised in all your days

~Jane Hirshfield "A Blessing for Wedding"


"With this ring, I thee wed; with this body, I thee worship."







www.rebeccaswartz.com

Friday, January 24, 2014

Women and Words

I was chatting with Andi Marguette (http://andimarquette.com/) over the holiday season, and she invited me to write a guest blog for Women and Words. I thought it was a great idea, and a great opportunity to promote my work.

It's not always easy to come up with a topic for a blog, which is why I'm not very regular in posting them. It's even more difficult to come up with a topic when you've been invited to be a guest on another site and are given a deadline. It was a great experience though, and I enjoyed it. Click on the link below to head on over to the Women and Words site to read my blog on research. And then check out the rest of the site to see what else goes on. There's never a dull moment with the ladies over there!

http://lesbianauthors.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/research-research-research-by-rebecca-swartz/#comments



www.rebeccaswartz.com

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Marriage, puppies, and other things

It has been months since I last blogged. Months! I'm a little shocked by how much time has actually passed since I last wrote something here. But now, here I am, to tell about all the wonderful things that have happened in the interim.

My sweetie and I were apart for three months, during the spring and early summer, and that wasn't much fun at all. But I was still adhering to the rules, and the rules were that I couldn't be in the U.S. for more than six months out of a year. It was tough, but we weren't going to mess with things and thus mess up my chances of getting into the country and staying in the country. So we persevered, and sometimes we suffered, but many times we laughed as we talked about our days, and the things that went on. When two people have to be apart, for whatever reason, for a length of time, how you handle that time apart, and how you are during phone conversations (we didn't Skype, but we did FaceTime a couple of times) says a lot about how strong your relationship is. And that's all I'm going to say about that.

So anyway, the end of June rolled around, and finally, FINALLY, we could be together again. In Dallas! I was attending the Golden Crown Literary Society's Conference, for their 9th annual awards conference and ceremony. My debut novel, Everything Pales in Comparison, was a finalist in two categories, Debut Novel, and Intrigue/Romance. My sweetie joined me in Dallas, and we had a very sweet reunion. Many, many women said wonderful things about my novel, and I signed many books. Sadly, my novel did not win any awards that weekend, but many other deserving books did, and it was an enjoyable time.

(Here I am signing books.)



(My novel cover was poster-sized for display.)


(Selfies: my sweetie and I, awards night.)





Flying back to North Carolina (home to me, by this point) via Dallas, we had an interesting little episode going through security. Or rather, I did. As my luggage was going through the x-ray machine, everything paused, while the guards looked fixedly at their screen. Finally, they pulled my suitcase, and me, off to the side, and asked me, while pointing at the object on the screen they were scrutinizing, whether I could explain what it was. For a moment, I went completely blank. And then I laughed, albeit a bit nervously.

"Oh my god, that's a dog toy. A Kong." 

I had been unable to find one previously in NC, so I managed to find one in Winnipeg, and packed it to bring with me.

This is what it looked like when I bought it.





However, on the x-ray machine, neither the packaging nor the rope shows up. Only the weird shape of the Kong itself. I can see why it would raise...concern. Or eyebrows. When they opened my suitcase to actually view the object, it was clearly just a dog toy (they took it out and studied it though, just to be sure). Once it was safely stowed away again, and my sweetie and I were getting our stuff together once more, I gave a laugh and a shake of my head, saying, "Wow, I never even thought of that thing. It looked so strange on their machine, I couldn't think for a moment what it even was. It looked like a damn butt plug!" 

Behind us we heard muffled laughter, and we turned to see more guards behind us, on a raised platform behind a low shield of plexiglass, observing. The laughter had come from a (attractive) female guard, who had obviously overheard me. I really blushed at that point, my sweetie gently grabbed my arm, and we headed off to find our gate, still laughing, and laughing for quite some time afterwards.

Once back in NC, and with the relevant section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) now struck down, my sweetie and I headed to my immigration lawyer to find out what we needed to do to further our (my) application to immigrate to the U.S. Well first, hahaha, we had to get married. And so we did. It took a couple of months, and lots of planning, but we did it. In Spokane, WA. With Jill Malone officiating.

(Here we are getting married. Look how handsome we all are!)



(And here we all are afterwards.)




When I asked Jill to marry us, I did so because she is a writer and a poet, an author whose work I hugely enjoy, admire and respect, and who, as a person, I admire and respect. When she married us, she read a poem, a beautiful poem, which I will share some other time (it's a bit long). And that map in my sweetie's hand? She wrote her vows on that. Beautiful, touching words, written on a map of Spokane. Which she memorized (the words, not the map). I had to read my vows from the paper they were written on. Hers were better than mine. This is one of the reasons why I love her.

Back to NC, where we contacted the lawyer, and also planned our after-wedding party with friends in Hillsborough and the surrounding area. And then, and THEN! along came this little guy:





We first met Lucas when he was 5 weeks old. That's the picture above. He wasn't named Lucas then. He was just one of a litter of eight Border collie pups my sweetie was photographing for a local breeder. He was the runt, and he was small and adorable, and we fell in love with him instantly. But he was already spoken for. And we had no plans to add another puppy for at least another year. A couple of weeks later though, the breeder announced on her Facebook page that he had become available; the couple had had a health emergency (the man suffered a heart attack), and so they couldn't take him. I contacted the breeder immediately, expressing our interest, spoke to my sweetie, who said yes, and out of thirty some odd people who also expressed interest, the breeder chose us to be his new guardians. My sweetie named him Lucas. And the rest is history. 

Our after-wedding party was a huge success, and a lot of fun. The weather, which had threatened rain, was perfect. We had about 50 people show up. We received hugs, and well-wishes, and gifts, and gift cards. We had music, and beer, and great food, and everyone seemed to have a really good time. No one from Winnipeg came; in the only negative part of it all, some people I had known for a very long time did not even congratulate us, or send a card or gift. Sometimes I'm not really sure what to think of people. Other than that, though, I can't say which I enjoyed more, getting married, or the party afterward!

And now it's November. We've just filed our paperwork with Immigration and Homeland Security, and soon we will know whether I will be welcomed into the U.S. I have continued writing, working with the dogs, and occasionally pissing people off with my brand of truth and honesty. My sweetie is working three times as hard, and every once in awhile pisses people off herself. I love her dearly. And this life, with her, in North Carolina, with our puppies, and our friends, I love it. 

All of it.



www.rebeccaswartz.com

Monday, April 22, 2013

My little brother no more

I called my baby brother tonight.

Considering I just turned 50, and he's now 44, he's not really my baby brother anymore. But, of course, he is. Even though his life experiences, I am sure, far surpass my own. After all, he has married, raised children, bought a house or two, become a business owner. 

I have done none of these things. 

I haven't spoken to him in over two years. Not since our dad died. And not because he did anything wrong. He didn't do anything wrong. But I think, because I treasured him for so long, I expected...something. I don't think he knew, though, that I did treasure him. But I did. I adored my baby brother. I can only remember ever adoring him, from the time he was a tiny baby. And after, as an adult, for a very long time, he was one of the only reasons I stayed close with that family. My dad, of course, being the other reason, and the main reason.

When I was nine, and my little brother was three, we ended up in the Children's Hospital together, he to get his tonsils out, me to get my tonsils and adenoids out. I recall, vividly, our dad staying with us for some time once we had checked in. He played games with us, read us books, sat while we ate our dinner...and then he had to leave. I don't recall him stressing this, but I do remember that I felt very responsible for my baby brother. 

The next morning we went for surgery. All I remember of that day is 1) someone asking me to count to ten, and 2) waking up in our room very groggy, with our dad at my side, and vomiting blood in one of those weird, small, oddly shaped basins. And that was in the late afternoon. I was pretty much unaware of much else for some few hours. But when night came along, and it was lights out on the ward, and my dad had obviously left at some point, my baby brother, who was in a crib next to my bed, started crying. Now keep in mind, I was nine years old, and I was a skinny little girl. But my little brother was crying, this little boy that I adored and (I suppose on some level) had promised to take care of, and so I went to his crib, pulled him out, and took him to bed with me, where he soon fell asleep. Some time later, a nurse came and took him from me. I don't know how she knew, unless she'd come by on rounds. But she took him from me, put him back in his crib, and told me very harshly that he had to sleep in his own bed. I remember that specifically. And what I also remember specifically of that moment is that he SCREAMED.

Now keep in mind he'd just had his tonsils out. I don't think screaming was a good thing at that point. But the nurse just turned and walked out. And I remember feeling very angry. I was nine years old, and my baby brother was doing his best to scream his lungs out in the crib next to my bed, and I just couldn't handle it. I got out of my bed, went to his crib, and he immediately wrapped his arms around my neck as I pulled him out once again. I took him to my bed, and we curled up for awhile. And then he said he had to go to the bathroom. And so I climbed out of the bed, and I took him in my arms, and I carried him out of our room, past the nurse's station, to the bathroom. 

I remember two things from that specific time: When I carried my baby brother to and from the bathroom, the nurses on duty commented, "Oh, that's so cute" or something to that effect. In other words, they saw me, and didn't stop me. The other thing I remember is that there was some sort of stand set up, and it provided Freshie (which was a kind of Kool-Aid, back then), and I asked my little brother if he wanted some, and he said Yes, so I poured two paper cups, and took them to our room. I remember this vividly. And the nurses never stopped us. I took him to bed with me, and that's how we stayed until the morning. 

And that is all I recall of that time.

I have never been close to any other members of that family, other than my dad. I had always sought out my youngest brother, specifically because I had always felt so close to him. Well, as it turns out, that closeness is not something that stands the test of time. He grew up, and so did I. But he grew up in ways I never did, at least in terms of responsibility. He married, raised a family. Something I never did. And so a distance was introduced. And that kind of distance is not something you can ever close, and maybe that is how it should be. 

Childhood is priceless and irretrievable. You cannot hang on to something that is bound to change in ways you can never conceive of. For many years I wished to have again the relationship I had always had with my little brother. But it's entirely possible that I misunderstood that relationship, and it had changed long before I became aware of that change. It would not have been the first time that I had been misled into believing that some relationships are unchangeable. That I had misled myself. And I have been very guilty of that in the past.

So, after two years, I contacted my baby brother again. Out of the blue. And I told him, because I hadn't, "I had to walk away." And he said, "Well, that was your choice. I didn't understand it, but that was your choice."

And he's right. It was my choice. And I would not do it differently. But, after a few more minutes of conversation, he also said, "You know where I am. You can call me, if you want to. I would like you to." And I said I probably would. And I probably will. 

I cried after I talked to him. I have missed him, and I feel bad for the decision I made, even though it was the right decision. I feel I should have told him why, even though at the time it was instinctive, and I didn't know why. That I had to come to terms with a lot of things. And one of those things was, even though he is my baby brother, he is not my baby brother. Not anymore. And that is an important distinction. 

To me, anyway.







Friday, April 5, 2013

A Dear John by any other name


Dear Winnipeg,

I'm sorry, but I'm leaving you.

For too many years you have been cold to me, colder than any other (okay, there was Churchill, but that was short-lived), and I just can't handle it anymore. And even when you were warm, your warmth was fickle, changeable, not to be trusted. I often found myself holding my breath, hoping, This time, let it be this time, when I would be convinced things would change. But, no.

In truth, and this may be hard to hear, I have found another, much warmer, much greener, and very friendly. There are gay issues that cause me some concern (where you have almost none, and I love that about you), but I feel those things can be worked on. Indeed, things are looking very hopeful in that regard.

I loved you once, I really did. But I think, over time, what I really loved was the idea of you. Of course, the fact that I hadn't really experienced any other didn't help. Oh, sure, when I was younger, there was Texas, and California, even New Mexico, but they were so foreign, so far away. I couldn’t seriously consider them. But now that I am older, now, with my new-found freedom and experiences afar, I embrace distance, and what was once foreign is no longer.

You have been good to me, and good for me. If not for you, I would not be who I am. I doubt, however, that I have had a similar impact on you. In fact, I doubt I've had any impact on you at all. You will continue on in your slightly naïve way, believing that there is nothing wrong, that everyone loves you, and you can do no wrong. And that saddens me.

I have so many good memories of us: Summers! (Mostly awesome.) Walking through Assiniboine Forest (even though the trees are kind of short and unimpressive), the Zoo (okay, no, not the Zoo, not ever), the malls (though they lack the prestige of other malls I have visited, but let's not get into that), the Wolseley district (even with those distasteful garbage bins, but let's not get into that), the one-way streets which make the downtown so (maddeningly) easy to navigate. The MTS Centre (it was about time). The recent introduction of IKEA (too little, too late, sorry). The Festival du Voyageur (okay, no, I've never enjoyed that). I've even enjoyed your downtown (which, yes, has it's negatives, but let's not get into that either). The Jets! (Well, I'm not a hockey fan, but you deserve an NHL team.) Walking from one end of the city to the other. That was certainly a good thing. At least because I could. Not because it was beautiful or stimulating. Okay, enough of the good memories.

I came back to you, many times. Each time I left (and, as you know, I left many times), I told myself this was the last time, I would not return. Yet I did. I didn’t want to, but I had to. I had nowhere else to go. And you welcomed me. That was very sweet of you. And truthfully, I expected nothing less. But the time has come now for me to leave for good.

Please don’t take this personally. It’s not you, it’s me. Okay, no, wait, it is you. But that’s not your fault. You can’t help who you are. Changing is not in your nature. I accept that. I hold nothing against you.

It will take me awhile to get my things together. Please be kind to me during this time. I promise to speak well of you. I always have, and I always will. But you and I do not have a future together. And I am expected elsewhere. I am sorry I cannot say that I will miss you. I wish you nothing but the best. Because you deserve it. You really do. I only hope you live up to your potential. Because I see so much potential in you.

All the best,

Rebecca








Monday, March 11, 2013

In the name of research

Sometimes, some people do things that you really just have to shake your head at. You know they deserve a smack upside the head, or a kick to the shins, but they've behaved so badly, all you can do is gape at them, before shaking your head and walking away.

As part of my research for the novel I'm working on, I needed an historic house. Hillsborough has plenty of historic houses, to go along with its plenty of history. I knew this, and it's one of the reasons I chose the area for my book. I've driven and walked around the town quite a lot, and saw many houses that might do, but there was really only one that I thought would do. It was a handsome white house, up on a hill, not far from where we live. We pass it every day, sometimes more than once. It has four Corinthian pillars supporting the portico; they dwarf the front door, giving the house something of a grand appearance, very Southern. I personally think it's quite attractive (not that I would want it), but my sweetie does not find it so.

I kept thinking this house would be perfect for what I had in mind, but I didn't know what the inside looked like. There's an important scene that takes place inside the house in my book, and I wanted to see if such a structure could support what I had in mind. One day, just before Christmas, I noticed a For Sale sign out front. And I thought, Oh, maybe that's how I can get a look inside. I wasn't going to pretend to be a buyer; I was an author, I had a business card, I did not need to pretend anything.

So off I went to the realtors in town, and I walked into their cramped little office which looked as if it had been recently thrown together, and badly at that. A mousy-looking little guy with mostly silver hair and a bit of a stoop to his shoulders came out of the back and asked how could he help me. I introduced myself, passed him my card, which he glanced at, and then told him why I was there. I said I wasn't interested in buying it, I didn't have a million dollars (the asking price) laying around. I asked if it would be possible to see the house from the inside.

"Oh, of course," he says, "I don't see a problem with that. I'm not the agent for that property, but I can call him and set up a time to visit. Would you like to do it today?"

I was surprised by this, but had nothing planned, and so said, "Sure."

We agreed on a time of three p.m. I thanked him, and again made it very clear that I was not interested in buying the property. He laughed and looked at me, raising his eyebrows. "Well then, why would you want to see it?" he asked with a smile, and of course I figured he was joking around with me and the question was rhetorical.

When three o'clock rolled around, I was parked just up the street from the house. The fellow I'd met earlier showed up a minute later, parking behind me. We greeted each other, then made our way up to the house. He showed me the outside, a little postage stamp of a yard, a short section of wrought iron fencing affording no privacy from the neighbours I could clearly see, but that wasn't important to me. I just wondered why people would want such a place, situated as it was. We went back to the side door, which was open, with only the screen door closed, so we could see in. My guide knocked, and called out, waited perhaps five seconds, and then opened the door.

In we went, with him saying, "I know we're expected, I guess so-and-so (the actual agent for the property) isn't here yet." (Okay, I know what you're thinking: Is this guy even an actual real estate agent? Seems kind of cavalier, right?)

Once inside, the first thing I see is beige wallpaper with vertical thin green stripes. Everywhere. How anyone could find that attractive, I don't know. But again, that wasn't a concern of mine. I just wanted to get a feel for the layout. I could make it look anyway I wanted, and likely do a better job than whoever their interior designer was. There's a small library to my right, and a stairway leading upstairs in front of me, and a dining room or something to my left.

My guide waves me forward. "Have a look around," he says, "do what you gotta do. I'll see if the homeowner is here."

I take four steps into what seems to be formal dining room, and then the side door to the house opens, and this big guy comes in, old, greying, but still rather formidable-looking. My mousey little guide greets him with, "Hey, here's so-and-so!" (Obviously, I'm not bothering with names here, there's no point.)

The big guy comes up to me, eyeing me closely, which made me uncomfortable. I introduced myself, and held out my hand. He ignored it, pointedly. I felt myself colour slightly, and said, "Ohhh-kay, that was rude" slowly and carefully and loud enough for him to hear. He frowned, but said, quite brusquely, "Have a look around, let me know if you have any questions."

So I said, "Sure, okay," even though I was thinking this was maybe a bad idea. I wandered into the kitchen. Both men followed me, and I looked around at the windows, the counters, the woodwork, getting a feel for the house. And then, before I could speak, the big old guy starts talking about which appliances are staying, about the age of the countertops, about the newer windows.

"I'm not interested in buying the house," I told him, and he frowned again. And I thought, Oh, shit.

The mousey little guy doesn't say anything. Not a word.

"I thought you understood that," I then said. And I told him who I was, what I was, and why I was there. I described the relevant part of my story, and started to explain why I needed an inside look. Before I could finish, he interrupted me, waving his hands and saying, "Whoa, whoa, no way, hang on." And again, I thought, Oh, shit.

Before I know it, there's another old guy in the room, not big like the one guy, and not small like the mousey one. He was right in the middle, and he looked very puzzled. The big guy says, "Here now, here's Mr. so-and-so, the homeowner, you tell him what you just told me and see what he has to say."

And so I did, I started to tell the homeowner what I was after, I told him the relevant part of the story, and before I got finished I was again interrupted. "Okay, no, no, that's enough, you're done," he says, waving his hands before him like the other guy, as if I've been yelling at him non-stop for ten minutes.

"I'm done?" I said, frowning now myself.

"Yes! You're done!" he says, his voice rising. "This is ridiculous! You come into my house, with this story of a story, and I should just let you wander around? You could rob me blind! No, no way, you're done. Out you go!" And then he rounded on the mousey little guy. "And what were you thinking? You call yourself a professional? I don't believe this!"

And the mousey little guy says, without hesitation: "I thought she was a buyer."

I turned to look at him in disbelief, my eyes much wider than normal, I'm sure, but I kept my mouth shut. I apologized for the misunderstanding, and for wasting anyone's time, and promptly left.

The mousey guy followed me out to my car. He said, as I opened the car door, "I know what you've got in mind, and maybe I can help you with another house, if you want to keep looking."

"Um, yeah, no," I said, as politely as I could. "I'm a writer. I'll just make something up."

For what it's worth, I did end up finding a better house, a house more suitable for my story. I drove around some more, discovered this house way off the road, went on up, and met the homeowner. When I told him who I was, gave him my card, and told him what I required and why, he listened carefully. I told him the story of the other house and the experience I had there, and promised him I was a law-abiding citizen and would not rob him blind. This made him laugh, and he ended up giving me a tour of his house, which I had just finished researching online (historical Hillsborough, remember?), and answering my questions.

But now, every time my sweetie and I drive by that house on the hill, either I will say, or she will say, "There's the house I was thrown out of."/"There's the house you were thrown out of." And then we laugh and shake our heads.

Because sometimes, that's all you can do.





www.rebeccaswartz.com

Friday, March 8, 2013

Little stick girl

I've been a scrawny little thing my entire life.

Actually, I personally have never called myself scrawny. Or skinny. Or underweight. I've always called myself lean. And sexy. And kickass. But, I digress.

I'm 5'5", and my "ideal" weight should be around 125-130 lbs. The most I've ever weighed was 110. Mostly, I've been between 100 and 105, and awhile back, during a particularly rough time, I was down to 96 lbs. A coworker said at the time that I was too skinny to be walking around. That made me laugh, but of course, it really wasn't a laughing matter. She was serious, and concerned, and I got that.

The thing is, while I may admittedly have been kinda scrawny, I was almost always in really good shape. I worked out. Especially during my 30s and early 40s, I was very buff, with well-defined shoulders, back and arms, and killer six pack abs. (My legs were always chicken legs, I was never able to build them up.) And I was always healthy. My health has never suffered.

(Here's a little side story for you: I was adopted when I was 15 months old. I was taken from my biological mother for reasons unknown to me--but you can guess, since every other child, 9 of them in fact, with different fathers, had been taken from her. At the time of my adoption, I was just introduced to orange juice, and a bit of egg. My adoptive father, every time he told me this, marveled at it, with a shake of his head. I was hungry all the time, crawling on the floor and eating crumbs if I could find them.)

Once, a woman I was dating (the one who tried to kill herself three times because she couldn't cope effectively with life in general) called me anorexic, which hugely offended me. Not because I was or wasn't, but because she used it in a pejorative sense, as an insult, when you never should, and obviously she hadn't a clue about high metabolisms, about eating (I do love to eat) and not being able to gain weight, about wanting to gain weight when many women just wanted to lose it (and so many wanted to give me their extra weight, hahaha), or worrying about not having any extra weight if you end up in the hospital with some terrible illness or injury, and could die for the lack of it. But people can be ignorant, and behave badly, and I've met my share.

So why am I writing this blog post? About the skinny me? Well, because the skinny me no longer exists. And I can thank my age (almost 50, believe it or not), menopause (pretty much done, thank god), and my (hearty) enjoyment of beer and less cardio over the last 12-18 months (frankly, the laziest I've been ever). I have managed to gain 30 lbs, so I am now a somewhat fuller figured 140. Okay, not really fuller figured, but I have filled out, and while I'm not entirely comfortable with my belly and thighs, and I know losing about 15 lbs of it won't be completely easy peasy, still, it took me my entire life so far to get here and experience this.

The (stupid) thing about menopause is it changes a lot of things. Things that are often taken for granted. I'm not going to get into those things, and you should be grateful for that, but let me just tell you, for me, it's not as bad as it is for some women, yet it's still a pain in the butt. My butt, in fact, which is no longer the sexy little butt it used to be. And mostly, really mostly, I'm okay with that. Being the slender, little kick-ass almost-butch-but-not-quite I've been my entire adult life was cool, but I'm alright with the almost-50-still-cute dyke I have now become. Some things suck, but they're inconsequential next to the fact that I am still who I am (though more mature, and thank god for that), and also because, compared to some people, I actually have matured, and some people haven't, and I feel genuinely sorry for them. But I promise to never blog on that topic, or those people, and I will keep this blog relegated to my own life and experiences. Because that is how it should be. 

So in closing, I'd like to say that getting old sucks, but I'm dealing with it pretty well (and yes, I know I'm not old yet), and that the CHANGE OF LIFE hasn't been as horrendous as I'd been led to believe. But the generation I could have learned from, I never got to know, because I was raised by a woman who came from a generation and a country that knew nothing about sharing, or learning, or teaching all they could have, because they were themselves repressed. And that is much more difficult to come to terms with, I am sure, than the relatively easy transition I am experiencing without their guidance. 

In the end, I think, we learn so much on our own. Because we have to. Because so much still is close-mouthed by the people we could learn from...and learning about life pretty much on your own is not a bad thing.

Not a bad thing at all.