January 15, 2019 7:12 pm

A Life in the Day

I started watching The Magicians before Season three came out on Netflix, and now that it’s here I have a LOT to say about it, specifically S3E5, “A Life in the Day.” (Spoilers lie ahead!)

In the episode, there’s a storyline where Quentin and Eliot travel to Fillory in the past and have to solve a mosaic to show “the beauty of all life.”

It takes far longer than they expect, and they live out an entire lifetime in Fillory working on the mosaic.

HERE ARE SOME HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Quentin and Eliot’s kiss!
  • This tumblr post with nice kissy gifs of that scene
  • The song that plays during the montage – Evolve by Phoria
  • Eliot reclining and looking over his shoulder approvingly as Quentin and Arielle kiss
  • Eliot playfully tossing Quentin and Arielle’s child in the air
  • Eliot comforting a sobbing Quentin after Arielle dies, and gently placing a blanket over Quentin and his kid as they nap
  • Quentin and Eliot standing together (with Eliot’s hand on Quentin’s shoulder!) as they send their grown son off into the world.
  • How Quentin says “Eliot” once he notices Eliot’s not moving
  • Quentin wrapping a quilt over Eliot’s body. The handmade, well-loved quality of the quilt just slayed me. Wrapping him in a family quilt to bury him is so tender and caring and they had a LIFE together and *cries forever*
  • Eliot and Quentin are sitting in the Fillorian throne room reminiscing about their life together and Eliot says “And we had a family.”

AND WE HAD A FAMILY

This is such a good episode for other reasons too (Jane Chatwin’s convo with Margo, Prince Micah, all the outfits) but those few minutes where Eliot and Quentin have an entire life together? I’ve watched it several times and I tear up every single time.

Season four of The Magicians premieres later this month on SyFy and I need to decide if I can/should spend $30 to watch it on iTunes as it comes out or if I can wait a year(?) for it to come out on Netflix. I waited to see season three but now I don’t know if I have the willpower to wait for season four!

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October 8, 2016 3:02 pm

Sexism

In case you have been living under a rock, or are not in the US, one of our presidential candidates was caught on tape describing sexually assaulting women as though it were nothing out of the ordinary.

Trump said:

“I just start kissing them… Just kiss. I don’t even wait,’ Trump said. “And when you’re a star they let you do it.”

“Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

After this came out, writer Kelly Oxford shared her experiences with sexual abuse using the hashtag #NotOkay and invited other women to join in. She was receiving an average of two stories per second after her request.

Here are mine.

Age 13, at sleep-away church camp: An older boy – who I was previously on friendly terms with – somehow got one of my roommates to loan him their room key, and then used it to sneak into our room late at night. I woke up to the sound of the door opening. He crept over to my bunk and whispered to me that he needed to borrow something – a book, maybe, that we had talked about earlier – and while I opened the wardrobe to retrieve it for him, he pressed himself against me in a side-hug I couldn’t escape from. I stood there and let him hug me inappropriately in the middle of the night until he felt he had hugged me enough and then I hurriedly ushered him out of the room. My roommates slept through the whole thing.

Upon returning home, still feeling like I had been violated and taken advantage of, I confessed the situation to my boyfriend, who blamed me and then accused me of cheating on him. I cried, trying to explain that I DID NOT INVITE THAT HUG and I DID NOT WANT HIM TO BE DOING THAT and IT WAS REALLY SCARY and he was mostly upset that I didn’t let the older boy know I was taken or tell him “no.” I think some part of me had been expecting an “Oh my gosh, are you okay? That sounds really scary. Have you told anyone?” but we were thirteen and despite a rando thinking it was okay to sneak into my room at night at church camp and sexually assault me, it was “my fault” because I didn’t say “no.”

I never told anyone else. The perpetrator was clearly unpredictable (I had been SLEEPING!) so I was partly thankful that it hadn’t escalated further, we were at church camp so any boys-in-girls-rooms-at-night was strictly forbidden and I was afraid of getting in trouble because he had our room key and how was I going to explain that away, and it was “just a hug” so I didn’t think people would take me seriously.

Age 14: my then-boyfriend (different guy from above) was very jealous and possessive. He didn’t like if I talked with my guy friends in the halls between classes or gave them hugs, and asked me to stop being friends with them. He told me what he wished I wore. His favorite color was yellow; I should wear more yellow. Did I wear thongs? (No. I thought they were gross.) He thought they were sexy; I should wear them. Why wasn’t I wearing them?

We went to a movie together and at first I was excited when he put his hand on my knee affectionately. I was less excited when he kept moving his hand up my leg. I repeatedly pushed it back down to my knee and I remember writing in my diary that by the end, I practically “threw his hand” and was satisfied when he finally kept it at my knee after that.

On my 15th birthday, I was at my Driver’s Education class about to get into the car for my lesson. He arrived on his bike, handed me a gift bag with an embarrassed look on his face and told me to open it when I was by myself. I snuck a peek so I could be prepared if any of my classmates or my instructor asked questions about the gift.

He had given me a yellow thong for my birthday.

I played it off to my classmates and instructor that I was going to wait until I was home to open it, knowing there was no way I could explain it away. He knew I didn’t wear thongs. He knew I didn’t like yellow clothing. I was barely fifteen. This was not a birthday gift for me. His intent was for me to be a gift for him.

I found out later that he had the sister of one of his friends purchased the thong on his behalf because he was too embarrassed to do it himself. (Not too embarrassed to give it to me in public though!)

After we broke up, I was in Health class during a segment on abusive relationships and realized in hindsight that he ticked something like nine of the ten boxes that were presented to us.

Age 18, first day in a new city: A scraggly, possibly drunk middle-aged man stumbled toward my roommate and I hollering “HEY GIRLS! SEXY! COME GIVE ME A BLOW JOB!” We escaped by running down an unfamiliar alley. He laughed as we ran.

Age 18, coming home from a late class at school: I walked through the park blocks and saw a man inside the kids’ play area. I intially thought it was funny he was playing on the toys. I realized belatedly that he was masturbating.

Age 18, on my way to school: Walking across a bridge (so there were literally no alternate routes I could take), I saw a man facing the railing. I realized as I approached that he was actually urinating off the bridge. I was too close to do anything but keep on walking, so I kept walking.

Age 19, while manning the copy center at college: I received a MySpace message from a new (male) hire that said:

“oh my god, you will never know how eternally joyful that i am to be
able to say the following sentence:

“hello my coworker”

omg, i sense a heart attack heading my way”

I brushed it off, thinking it was funny/strange but ultimately harmless. That was until I received another message that included an image of an imaginary album cover he had made (filename: “meggancoldblood.JPG”), using a photo he had lifted from my MySpace page complete with song titles he had made up based on topics he saw on my personal website.

meggancoldblood

I was incredibly freaked out and sent an email to my manager, who, as far as I can remember, handled it admirably. He made it clear that yes, this was not okay and thanked me for bringing it to his attention. The new hire apologized to me in person.

He kept his job. I tried to avoid him at all costs, especially night shifts.

Age 20, while manning the copy center at college: an instructor was leaning over the counter to write her copy instructions on our order sheet. A male student saw her and backed up, took out his phone, and snapped a photo of her butt. He was so quick that it was too late to say anything by the time I had realized what happened – all I managed to do was make eye contact with him as he walked away, and he stared right back, as though saying, “I dare you to do anything about it.” It didn’t seem like it would have helped the situation to tell the instructor what had just happened, so I told my manager instead.

The incident got escalated appropriately and I ended up speaking with the president of the school about it. He was very concerned and made it clear that the behavior I witnessed was not acceptable. I ran into the student on a couple of different occasions after that and it gave me a panicky jolt of adrenaline every time. Unfortunately, because I didn’t know the student’s name or any other identifying information about him, he was never identified nor punished.

______________

This is not where these incidents end. I would wager that nearly every woman has similar stories she could tell.

I don’t want my daughter to grow up with these kinds of stories to tell. I don’t want my son growing up thinking it’s okay to behave like this.

imwithher

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August 15, 2016 12:01 pm

PTSD

The biggest thing I haven’t yet mentioned here is that I was diagnosed with PTSD stemming from events surrounding my births.

After struggling with symptoms by myself for over five years, I finally chose to seek help because I felt like I couldn’t turn my brain off. If I woke up at night, or if I was sitting quietly by myself, or trying to fall asleep, or anything that involved some downtime for my brain, I couldn’t stop replaying and obsessing over details of my births. This symptom is called intrusive thoughts (or persistent re-experiencing) and I was tired of it. I wanted my brain back.

I was treated using EMDR therapy and I found it really, really effective. We mostly did “tones” (listening to beep-boop sounds that alternate left and right) instead of the eye movements and she also tapped my knees left and right.

After working through a bunch of situations, I began to notice a pattern of behavior from my care providers that directly contributed to my issues. I wrote about several incidents here as they happened, but I minimized my feelings or explained their actions away even though some of them really hurt me. When I was gaining weight like mad and they simply told me to “lay off the fast food and soda” without even asking me what I ate in a typical day? HUGE, STARK CONTRAST to my midwife with Thora’s birth, who preemptively had me keep a food journal for a week so we could identify things to work on and we had a discussion about nutrition and based on my journal, I was advised to up my protein intake and then continue my food journal for another week to see how I felt.

Or telling me I was supposed to do the glucose test at 16 weeks (normally it’s not until 28ish weeks) without explaining why they were having me complete it twice or revealing that I had the right to refuse the extra test.

Or calling me a month before I was due to tell me I could “have a baby tonight if I wanted” and then laughing, as though they didn’t care I may have a premature baby and it was all a big joke.

Or brushing off my concerns that I had Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction and merely telling me it would only get worse. They didn’t recommend a specific support belt, or physiotherapy, or suggest chiropractic care, or exercises I could do to lessen the pain. They didn’t offer ANYTHING except to tell me that it would only get worse and made it seem like a support belt might not help.

Good care providers recognize that you are a human capable of rational thought with the capacity to consent to or deny various procedures, and they inform you of the risks and benefits of those procedures ahead of time. Bad care providers take everything as a given and don’t bother with your input – they inform you they will be performing a vaginal exam instead of asking if you would like one performed. They shove consent forms in your face while you sob and people are streaming into the room to start the procedure you are “consenting” to. You are coerced; you feel like you can’t say no. Or maybe you do say no, and they ignore it and continue anyway – like the time during my labor with Wesley when someone roughly checked my cervix during a vaginal exam while I cried and protested. They didn’t stop. Then they said my cervix was “high and difficult to find” and made it seem as though the rough exam was my fault.

It wasn’t.

It’s hard to not beat yourself up over choosing sub-par care, or not recognizing red flags for what they are, but I just have to keep reminding myself that I did the best I could with the information I had at the time. Hindsight is 20/20 and all.

After several months of treatment, those intrusive thoughts? They almost never happen anymore and I am so thankful. I can sleep! I can talk about Wesley’s birth without feeling “triggered” – I can just do my little elevator speech and not feel panicked or like I need to explain all my life choices that led to the circumstances I found myself in. I can talk about how much more empowered I felt with Thora’s birth while recognizing I was grieving the loss of my homebirth at the same time.

I still get sad about things sometimes; just today I was marveling over the fact that I am the only person I know who has attempted a VBAC but didn’t achieve one. Everyone else I know who has attempted a VBAC has been successful, which is AWESOME for them but still gives me pangs of jealousy when I think about it.

On the whole though, I am feeling so much better. I even wrote to the clinic I went to in Portland describing my care and how it resulted in a mental health diagnosis for me, and they called me to apologize and tell me that they took my story very seriously and would be referencing it in an upcoming patient care meeting to improve patient outcomes. They also assured me that they’ve put several policies in place (in the intervening six years) to prevent the sort of “care” I received. For instance, they now give moms a moment alone with their support person after handing them the cesarean consent forms. It doesn’t change anything for the hospital, but it could really influence how a mom feels about her birth ending in surgery. I know I would have felt much more involved in the decision with that process vs the surgery being treated as a fait accompli. I’m also considering posting the text of that letter here, since I felt I articulated my issues well.

Mental health is a complicated topic and I’ve told only a few people in person that I received treatment, but I am truly, deeply grateful for the lovely lady helping me work through my trauma and I wish I had done it sooner. In that vein, I’m happy to answer any questions about my treatment, as I think helping demystify the therapeutic process is important and might have encouraged me to seek help sooner.

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