29 years ago, my family was enjoying dinner and my older brother’s last memory before we had to evacuate was setting the timer on the microwave for dinner.
These have been requested numerous times so here are the vows from the wedding:
Tia, my love,
Perhaps there was a time when we weren’t together. It doesn’t feel real, but it seems I remember such a time. I also have a memory that there was also a time when my contentment with life was mixed with restlessness and a sense of incompleteness. But that memory too is distant.
Fundamentally, that is why I choose to be here with you today. Some things are easier, some harder, but you’re part of the context in which everything in my life happens — a context that makes me feel at ease, complete and happy, regardless of the day-to-day details.
You are, as you know, a most unusual person, in many ways.
Sometimes that shows up in the decisions that you make, such as the decision to be very open and honest with me from the day we met, when you are usually more guarded. Sometimes it shows up in the things that you do, such as when you had a particularly bad few days and realized how hard that was on me, and wrote a series of letters and love notes, both to make me feel loved and rewarded for caring for you, and to tell me what you need. And every day, how unusual you are is apparent in the ways you are able to understand me, your ability and willingness to work with my quirks, and the generosity you bring to our relationship.
As I’ve mentioned many times, you’re crazy — crazier than most, but far saner about your crazy than the rest of the world
And so I give myself to you, and make these vows to you.
For the rest of our lives, I will work with you to make our lives great, and to make us happy. I will be open and honest with you, and express my emotions, challenging myself to continue to be more expressive and more vulnerable. I will always be growing and learning, including in any ways needed for our relationship to thrive. And I will always be worthy of your trust, always deepening the safety, joy and love that feeds our relationship.
And I promise to grow old together with you, but never to grow up, at least not too much.
I love you.
For the most part, you and I don’t care about the traditional symbols and rituals associated with marriage, just about the substance of our relationship.
And yet, somehow it is unimaginable for us not to exchange rings to solemnize our marriage. These rings, which we’ve designed together, represent the simple, subtle-but-not-too-subtle way we tell the world of our commitment to each other and share a glimmer of the beauty we create together.
And so I give this ring to you, to provide one more link between us at those times when we are not together, to fidget with endlessly, and to wear on your finger for ever and ever and ever.
I look back at my life before you, and it doesn’t seem real. The memories seem incomplete without you, I was incomplete. For fourteen years, I have been an incomplete Tia who was afraid to truly love, trust, and need anyone else. I lost the ability to be myself.
You know what the best part of today is (Besides the karaoke and my hair colour)? The best part of today is that we get to finally be complete, as a duo.
You are by far, the most compassionate, honest, intelligent, and dorky person I have ever had the pleasure of falling in love with. When I am with you, nothing can go wrong. Even when things are getting tough, I’m still with you. You have the patience of a Saint, every day I am in awe of the things you put up with around me.
It makes me intensely pleased every time you laugh at some stupid and dorky comment or random sound effect I make. Every time I hear that laugh, I’m reminded how of right you are for me and how much more I love life with you and being able to be myself entirely.
You always keep surprising me in ways that you work with me, compromise with me, and be understanding. You listen to me and understand me greater than any other human on the planet. This is right I know it is, because when I look at you, I can feel it. And I look at you, and I… I’m home.
My mnhei’sahe is unfulfilled without you. That is why give myself to you. I vow this to you:
For the rest of our lives, I swear to be your partner in everything. To journey with you through life and create the adventure of a lifetime. I work to remedy my mistakes, grow as a person, and live to be old; so that you can keep your promise to grow old with me. I promise to continue to grow, be worthy of your love and trust. Most importantly, I promise to continue being sane about my crazy.
Mi volas esti kun vi por ĉiam. Mi amas vin.
Do you wanna come with me? ‘Cause if you do, then I should warn you – you’re gonna see all sorts of things. It won’t be quiet, it won’t be safe, and it won’t be calm. But I’ll tell you what it will be: The trip of a lifetime!
It’s dangerous to go alone.
Being in the mountains of Montana on vacation really takes me back. Especially with the bout of sleeping troubles I have had tonight. I’ve spent the past few hours outdoors just enjoying the scenery.
It makes me think of all the times I wandered off alone as a teenager in the woods and near the rivers in the Appalachian mountains.
I had tons of “hiding spots” where I would bring food, drinks, and drawing materials. Almost all of my alone spots were near a body of water. I remember one spot in particular, it was under a bridge and up against the levee.
I’d climb down, settle myself under the bridge and listen to music, wax philosophical, draw, and… talk to myself. I also used to write in my journal and write silly short stories.
One of my favourite hobbies was sending off my short stories in a bottle, to float down the dry fork river. Sometimes I’d write anonymised journal pages and send them downstream too.
I’d confess my deepest secrets and feelings and watch them float away. I don’t know if they were ever found and read, but younger Tia liked to pretend they were. She’d write letters to her unnamed penpal down the river.
Have any of you ever sent out a message in a bottle?
I want you to watch the video above, really watch this. I found this video really by accident and I wasn’t going to make a post about this until I started reading some of the comments like:
“Fuck that parent for buying her kid new ears.”
“her mom is crazy for putting her daughter into dat dreadful process.”
I have a confession to make. I had the exact same surgery as this little girl and I was 8 years old. Yup, that’s right. Let me show you the results of the plastic surgery before I tell you why.
22 years later, I’m still exceptionally thrilled with the way my ears look. I really wish I had some pictures of my original ears, but there aren’t many pictures of my childhood. What I do remember is getting bullied, verbally and physically. My ears were tugged on (very painfully) and I was repeatedly called names. I didn’t mind the verbal bullying much as getting my ears flicked, pulled, tugged, and drawn on in class. Trust me, the teachers did NOTHING. Not a single thing. I remember having my ear flicked so hard it started bleeding.
I didn’t want to go to school, and I begged my mom to do something about it. After it became obvious that dealing with the school wouldn’t work and hiding my ears with my hair didn’t work… we did the next thing we could think of. Otoplasty. It was a quick and easy surgery where they cut open my ears, took out some cartilage and stitched my ears to my head.
The worst of it was really getting the stitches taken out after a couple of weeks… That and my older brother telling me they shaved my head and I’d be as bald as ET after the head wrapping came off. I was convinced I’d be bald. I got my brother back for that by revealing the “under the dryer” hiding spot to my mom. We’ll just leave it at that. (PS: <3 Big Brother)
Anyhow, I’m glad my parents did this for me. I know they didn’t have a lot of money and this was “just plastic surgery for a child” – but it made a difference. So did the braces. I still got bullied over other things as I grew older, but people stopped screwing with my ears. At that school, a few kids even started sticking up for me once they found out I was willing to have surgery to get people to stop picking on me about my ears. Some kids didn’t realise how seriously I was picked on and others didn’t realise how badly it made me feel.
Anyhow, thought I’d share. More than willing to answer any questions about this (as I remember, it was 22 years ago).
Now that I’ve changed careers, I figured it was an appropriate time to share the story of how I eventually decided to become a community manager. I’ve been reluctant to share this publicly because being a Community Manager brought me regret-less joy and I would never want sympathy because of it. I also never wanted the tale to impact how my community responded to me.
I’ve mentioned in other posts that I was bullied in my youth. This had a profound impact on my self esteem, self worth, and ability to make friends. The bullying ranged from teasing, to being physically hurt, to a few very cruel things. I don’t think it was the worst bullying one could receive, but it was to a degree that it made me pretty miserable and occasionally scared.
Over the years, I learned coping and defence mechanisms to deal with it all. Most importantly, I was also fortunate enough to have the Internet during the hardest times. I was about 9 when I first went online. My older brother introduced me to a type of online game called a MUD (multi-user dungeon).
It was quite the discovery for a lonely and socially awkward child to find a plethora of social groups at one’s fingertips. It gave me the ability to test out different peer groups with very little negative consequences. I had the ability to simply avoid and forget places where I wasn’t happy.
This is a bit embarrassing to admit, but my first crushes and solid friends I met online. Even to this day, I am in contact with people met over 15 years ago online. Some of my closest and most trusted friends today were once people I never thought I’d have a face-to-face conversation with.
By the time I was in high school and hormones were the dominant force in social situations, I still never had a very easy time fitting in. School work was boring and I found most of it tediously unsatisfying. I didn’t have any peers in my life that I felt close to and certainly didn’t have a best friend to confide in.
There were a few peers that I would talk to and on rare occasions do things with outside of extra curricular and school activities. I just never let anyone in anymore, because the transition to high school taught me that my friends were temporary. Middle school friends had turned into either strangers or joined others who bullied me.
I was lucky that my mother was my confidant. It made the earlier years easier to deal with. I would spend an hour after school every day unloading all of the hurt feelings and schoolyard gossip to her. I never told her about the times when things got physical, but I told her everything else. She also would play games with me and listen to things I was far to embarrassed to share with my peers. By the time I was 14, my mom was practically everything I needed in a best friend and my Internet friends filled in where my mom couldn’t.
I still remember when I let it slip to a classmate about my Internet friends and a boy online I had a crush on. Let’s just say, they didn’t get it and gossiped about it to other friends and for a while it gave the folks who picked on me something new to tease me about.
I kept my online life pretty secret from that point forward. I let very few people know about the communities I was involved in online and certainly never talked about my friendships. I eventually started becoming penpals with some of my net friends and would buy calling cards with my allowance to talk to them on the phone.
While the other teenage girls in my school were spending nights gabbing on the phone with their classmate friends, I was gossiping on the phone with people I met online about school and community drama. Never once did it feel different to have a friend I never met in the flesh versus a friend I saw in meatspace every day.
It was the summer after I turned 16 that solidified my feelings of true friendship with my online friends. My mom died at home that summer very suddenly and without prior illness. It took my entire family by surprise and it was quite difficult to deal with. To make matters worse, I lived in a one stoplight kind of county where everyone knew everyone else’s business.
While I did have peers offline who I know honestly tried to be there for me, many people didn’t really know how to help. I certainly didn’t make it easy for anyone by becoming even more reclusive. Most of my support came from a guy about my age who lived in Ohio.
I met him in the Area51 geocities chatroom around my freshmen year and eventually developed a long distance relationship with him. He was, for all intents and purposes, my first high school boyfriend. He would spend so much time with me on the phone, we’d talk about our school, family, and mutual Internet friends. He was there to listen to me sob over the phone, telling him every detail of my mother’s death and every way it affected me. We didn’t even formally ‘meet’ until 2010 by chance at Blizzcon and had gone our separate ways/lost touch for several years before that.
Even after I left high school and joined the military, the friends I made through online communities remained my primary support group. They wrote me letters in basic training, sent me care packages when I was deployed, and did so many other things to support me in life just like any good friend you’d make in person.
At some point, my dear friend Marco (who I have yet to meet in the flesh) had given me the chance to help be a part of running the online community he had created and was also the community I had been involved in since 1999 (and still am today).
It was just around the dotcom bust and there wasn’t really as much of a concept of a community manager. The notion of being given money to run a community and make friends on the Internet was a unobtainable pipe dream of mine.
It makes me laugh when I think of all the times I’d muse about how awesome it would be to have a job running online communities. It really was my dream job. There was no hobby or social activity that brought the same pleasure to me like being a part of an online community.
Needless to say, when I discovered in 2005 that companies were paying people a salary to do things I was already doing for fun, I did everything I could to make the career change. I was working as a Pathologist Assistant making some pretty good money and took a pay cut that was so large I’d have never afforded it if it weren’t for the dual income my household had at the time.
I quit a good paying career with retirement benefits and turned my 15 minute commute into a 2 hour one. I even had a child just starting kindergarten that I had to deal with. This was all to get my foot in the door to become a community manager.
My first job was a site where you could create tributes/memorials for loved ones who died. I won’t knock it, it gave me paid experience which led me to other very awesome opportunities. One of which was being the Community Director at a site called Justin.tv back when it was only a team of seven.
Being the JTV community director was really everything I wanted out of a community management job and more. It gave me a lot of unique work and life experience I honestly don’t think I would have gotten anywhere else. I got to experience the extreme goods and bads of the work and came out a wiser and happier person.
So there you have it. The full story of why I decided to become a community manager. It was truly my dream job. I dreamed of being the person who was responsible for growing, shaping, fostering, and keeping an online community together.
I did it because I knew there were others out there who wouldn’t have had as much friendship and emotional support without the online communities they were a part of, and because I wanted to be a part of making any online community as happy as the ones I was apart of made me. But mostly, to get paid to play on the internet.
I just experienced something on the internet that was such a novelty that I felt I had to share. It’s actually sad this is such a novelty to me, but I digress. Occasionally, I like to take pictures of myself and post them on the internet. I don’t do it because I find myself especially attractive, mostly I have fun taking pictures of outfits I’m wearing or to visually document silly moods I’m in and share them with my friends on the internet. It also has had a nice side effect of creating a visual timeline of my weight loss for myself.
Anyhow, today was one of those “Oh oh oh! Take a picture of today’s silly shirt and share it on the internet” days for Tia. I loaded up dailybooth.com and snapped a quick picture and sent it out into the ether. It’s no secret that people can be fuckwads on the internet, and it’s a simple fact of life that if you are openly female on the internet you will be harassed about something. No matter what you look like, some one will find you and make a vulgar or offensive comment about your appearance.
Here are a couple of examples I’ll share from my own personal experience. Here is a picture I uploaded on Geek Pride Day:
Shortly afterwards, my dailybooth message box displayed a bright red message indicator from one of the locals a Mr. tryst_with_ink who offered these words as a “compliment”
Uh… Thank you? I don’t actually know what to make of comments like this. I want to think the best of people, so I can only imagine that he did not debate which words to use to properly articulate how attractive he found me and assumed my pleasure in receiving a compliment would outweigh the offense I might take at his vulgar approach.
Here is another example of a sideways compliment from Mr. variousmeats, who commented on a picture I took and uploaded to document a day where I felt especially pleased with how well I had pulled off the aesthetics of looking female and dressing like a grungy nerd.
As I said before, I don’t take pictures of myself because I think I’m particularly attractive and it’s mostly for personal amusement. I regularly try to imagine life on the internet as a man. I’ll admit it, I hang out on IRC with an ambiguously male screen name. For some time I used to hang out in this one room IRC room dedicated to video game music (I found it through two of my Justin.tv gamers I was fond of, Richeymanic & Swiftor). I didn’t refer to myself with any pronouns and had a username that seemed guy-ish. It was a novelty to be treated and accepted as a guy on the internet.
I don’t want to get into the drama of debating about how women should be treated, because I have conflicting feelings about it. One the one hand, I rather like the anonymity the internet provides me to say douchbaggy things without repercussion to people I feel have earned it. My inner child, who was bullied for being a tomboyish nerd, takes great pleasure in having an outlet to standup to bully like individuals and give them a taste of their own insults. I’d never want to change that, it’s what makes the internet a safe haven for other nerds, dorks, geeks, and RL social outcasts like myself.
Oh dear. I’ve digressed quite some bit to get to the real point of why I’m struck by such bittersweet irony that I felt the need to blog about it. Let us steer away from the historical anecdotes and analysis of my past and go back to the point. Today I took a picture of myself and uploaded it to the internet. My motivation was to show off my new(ish) Barney Stinson inspired shirt that I was quite proud of and share it with the folks who follow me on twitter. What happened afterwards was so uniquely mundane I simply had to point it out to the world.
Mr. Bluesky30 gave me one of the best compliments I’ve ever received as a woman on the internet. I will close this post by showing you the compliment and by dedicating this blog post to Bluesky30 from Dailybooth. You Sir personally, make the internet not suck. Thank you and others like you for being decent human beings.