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My mother:

I feel like I am constantly being judged. When I was younger, she criticized me for being "fat." I was 170 pounds and 5'2". Sure, I was overweight. And yeah, people made fun of me for it because they knew that it got to me and it started one of those neverending cycles of misery. And my mother's response to all this was usually "well, if they're all making fun of you for it, don't you think they might have a point?" At one point, she even tried to get me on appetite suppressants. We tried Weight Watchers, but its hard to follow that when your diet is regulated by the school lunch menu. And I even tried to eat healthy. Instead of the greasy hamburgers and pizza they always had available, I tried to get the chicken salad. But even then, there were times when the school would run clean out of food. I didn't have much choice other than to vending machine my lunch. I tried packing my lunch, but mom would rarely ever let me near the stove or in the kitchen because she thought that I would cut myself or set the house on fire. So I never learned to cook until I got to college, and only then when I moved out of the dorms. I think I'm pretty good at it, despite everything.

But I suppose I shouldn't expect much from a recovering anorexic. Though I wish she wouldn't worry if I skip a meal. Sometimes I'm just NOT hungry. Is that so hard to believe? Making me eat when I'm not hungry is ALSO habit-forming.

She always thought that my clumsiness was my way of getting attention. "You're a dancer," she'd say. "Dancers are graceful, they don't fall down." And yes, I am a dancer. But I'm only a dancer some of the time. And when I'm running down three flights of stairs to catch a bus that leaves in two minutes, grace and balance are the least of my worries. I've been in several car accidents, I've had joint problems all my life from little accidents like falling down stairs, and there are just some days that, for whatever reason be it hormones or mental state, I am just NOT graceful. I don't do it for attention.

And now that I have told her that I don't appreciate her telling me that I'm fat (and my dad started agreeing that she does it a lot) she has been telling me at every moment that I stink. I stink. I need deodorant. I need to shower. I smell like a boy. But REALLY, girls sweat, just like boys. Especially when they've been doing something either mentally or physically strenuous, and she usually tells me these things after I've been working on art stuff, which is mentally trying whether she realizes it or not.

Now that I've been away for a year, she can't bother me about my weight, my clumsiness, or my smell. I know she's worried about me, but I don't like how she now makes judgements about my major choice, especially this late in. She keeps sending me emails about job opportunities that are available in South Bend and "might be something I might like." She sent me something awhile ago that was a merchandising job for Sears. If Sears wants a merchandiser, they will hire someone who did their major in advertising. Not animation. Maybe I won't get a job right out of college. Most people don't. That's life. She was so happy when my brother got a job in his major, teaching. I would just like her to pay me the same respect and allow me to make my own mistakes. I'm a big girl. I can handle it. I have a really strong group of friends here that know how hard I work and that I'm not just rolling over and accepting my future residency in a box. I can depend on them, and if I can't then I will move on.

So with all that, I am a little afraid to tell her that I'm in a homosexual relationship. It would be just another thing for her to judge me on. She prides herself on being open-minded and accepting of "lifestyles," but a lot of the evidence points to the contrary. Dancers aren't clumsy. Girls don't smell. Art students don't succeed. Fat girls don't get laid. She was afraid to enroll me in bellydancing classes (something which I am very passionate about) because she equated that genre with stripping and the burlesque. She assumed that because my friends are pagan, that I am pagan. That I am so easily influenced by others in this quest for acceptance that I will do anything to achieve it, that none of my choices are actually mine. I'm afraid that she will think that my sexuality "choice" is the result of being called a lesbian for so long that I took the role. Or that I took the easy way out and decided to start a relationship with the first person that came along (which is by and large untrue. In truth, Jason asked me long before Liz did. I felt so bad for turning him down, and at the time I didn't know why I did. Liz asked me a year and a half later and I was nervous, but we'd both been circling around it for so long that not going for it would have been a stupid move. And since then, I haven't had any regrets. It hasn't been easy, and we've had our disagreements, but for the most part I'm having the most trouble not bursting out and telling everyone that I love her... when she holds my hand I still get butterflies in my stomach. )

Mom has been reading a lot of psychology books and doesn't realize how subjective of a science it can be. Maybe she'll think that I'm doing this for attention, maybe she'll think its a phase. Maybe she'll think that I'm making a rash decision. Or that I'm not thinking about the future. Or that I'm still just a stupid kid that doesn't know any better.

I'm 22. Almost 23. I don't expect "happily ever after." I expect "life, with all its troubles, but still more or less content."

I'm afraid of disownership. I'm afraid of Gay Camps. I'm afraid of never being spoken to again by my family.

Being invisible:

I get ignored a lot. I try to speak up, but with so many people in my house, in my classes, between the flapping lips of my mother and aunts... my voice get lost in the noise. Often times, someone has to say "Lee has been trying to say something for the past few minutes." There are times that I just feel unimportant, like I'm a supporting character in my own movie. I've stopped giving some people advice when they ask for it. They never take it. They don't want to hear the advice of someone who "hasn't gone through what they have." Yeah, maybe I don't have bi-polar disorder and live in a situation where "everyone I know is mad at me" and maybe my life is cake compared to a lot of people's, but I still know that a balanced meal and a nap can do WONDERS for your psyche. (That's, of course, me ranting. I'd really appreciate it if she took my advice once in awhile and ate some goddamn vegetables.) Today, I was sitting in the hall, waiting for my class to start, and two girls stand on either side of me and carry on a very private conversation with me in the middle. They shut up for the guy walking down the hall, but I'm completely part of the furniture. Later, during a critique, I was commenting on a work that someone did and he kept justifying what he was doing WHILE I WAS TALKING. I would have liked for him to justify it AFTER hearing my commentary, because that is RUDE.

When it comes to chores, I will do the dishes three times in a day so that the pile isn't huge when I get to it later. Then it will come to be the next day and there will be a huge queue of dishes because most of my housemates are late-nighters. It will look like I haven't done dishes at all. And that's what I'll get accused of: not doing dishes at all. Its like they won't even notice that I've been in the kitchen all day. They'll walk right by, talk to me, but later it won't register that I was there because I'm ALWAYS in the kitchen. I'm just another appliance. It hasn't been as bad lately because I've been speaking up about it, but I don't t think people realize just how much seven to ten people eat in a day.

Other art students:

There are some things about being an art student that I hate, and some things that I love. I love the creative environment, and that we can have so many different ideas and expressions and I love learning new techniques and media and opening my mind to new ideas.

Sometimes... I think I'm the only one. People hate certain teachers because they tell them that they're not good enough. They need to push themselves further. They're still stuck in a rut. And I take this advice. If a teacher tells me that my work is stylized, I try a different approach. Or I try a different subject matter. Or a different medium. I defend the teachers that the students hate because I know that the reason they're being so harsh is to make sure they're cut out for this major.

Today, I we did critiques on our "human body" project in Watercolor. We were meant to choose a part of the body and use the medium to express something about that body part. I chose the neck. I love necks. I think they're extremely attractive. I said this in my presentation: "I find the neck to be sexy." Another student chose "the female figure." He portrayed it in a way that sparked a discussion on whether or not it was pornography. And I agree: there is a difference between naked and nude, and the way he portrayed her was more naked than nude. His workmanship was horrible, at least for some panels, and the proportions were such that if she DID have a figure like that she would have to walk on all fours or have ridiculous support for her back because of her breasts. When I took that side, he insinuated that I was a "man-hater." And no. I'm NOT a man-hater. I think that people who look at idealized images of women and think that its attractive instead of actually thinking about what people find attractive shows that there isn't a lot of forethought in the project and I think that he could have taken a different approach to the subject. And I think that if he had admitted that there was something sexual about the image that he could have avoided a lot of the turmoil, but instead he left in a huff.

I deal with a lot of stupidity. And I hear that the real world isn't much different.

Class reunions:

I was accused of being a lesbian back before anyone knew what a lesbian was. I was separated from my best friend for the longest time because her parents didn't want us together (which I think is silly.) I got a lot of flack before I was even out. Naturally, I denied it all.

My class reunion is in June. I'm very proud of my relationship with Liz. It has so far lasted longer than most relationships that most people in high school have. And I want to share with the world that I'm not the lonely loser that people thought I was in high school.

I'm also afraid that people will say "I told you so." I'm afraid that they'll speculate that me and Bekka were dating, or that I'm cheating or she's cheating, or something stupid. People are stupid. I can't say what they'll do.

The Future:

I sometimes am afraid that I'm not prepared for the real world. Animation jobs are hard to find in the Midwest. Rent is expensive. Boxes are plentiful.

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