The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation


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i'm not entirely sure a subject line would cover this
children of dune - leto 1
seperis
My least favorite time to write anything is when I really have something to say. It sounds counter-intuitive, but it's true, and this is why; when I do have something to say, that rarely if ever coincides with any desire to talk about it, which sets up a conundrum in that everything else piles up behind it. As many a apocryphal mother has said, you can only eat one bite at a time, except that would end with choking and a tragic yet easily preventable death when you have too many bites and don't get with the program, while this just ends in not being able to talk about anything at all. Or at least, nothing that makes much sense. It does lead to a lot of uploading old Smallville fic to AO3, so if you're curious, almost everything is there now.

TW: abuse, alcoholism, etc in part two.



Work

1.) I'm not talking about work. We're integrating in CHIP--that's state Children's Health Insurance Plan, which is like Medicaid but not, and nothing is working even by accident. To give this context, there are ten planners assigned to this entire thing; usually, there are three. There are multiple design documents per program--Datamart, MAXEiE, EST, web services, SSP, and TIERS. Each program, which helps determine benefits, has multiple design documents, and that doesn't include the actual conversion of almost ten years worth of data from the old system into this one. It hasn't even passed basic system testing. That's first level does this not break the system into pieces testing; we arent even testing for it working yet. Just that it exists and doesn't crash anything. That isn't working. We should be at second week of Joint SIT, where we work with the Deloitte testers and check to see if it is minimally working. We haven't even finished planning the tests. There are uslaly eighteen tests in Joint SIT, maybe twenty. There are sixty.

2.) Upload functionality that I tested last build--that I spent months working on, that passed one hundred percent in testing--failed in deployment to production. No one knows why. The best guess is currently 'something, somewhere'. I wrote the tests, rewrote the tests, ad-hoced the tests, and actually did some of the regular testing twice. I filed defects like it was a religious experience. It is a huge advance for clients to finally be able to get their pending information in without having to worry about it being lost/forgotten/left in a fucking box somewhere in Midland/the goddamn mail whatever. Clients could go to HEB or YMCA or anywhere with a working computer and a scanner and get this done. We have places they can do this for them, and it's not working. Not every client has a computer or access to one, but if the bus ride to HEB is an hour shorter than the bus ride to the office to wait in an overcrowded office with four only four clerks to turn in their paperwork, hey, several hours of their lives aren't spent in goddamn bureaucratic hell.

I volunteered to become the expert on Self-Service Portal to make one thing better. There's no reason this should have failed, but I can read java and it's only like fifteen billion lines of code. I have free time and I'm beginning to think a masochistic streak.

3.) This would be the moment I get mad at developers, but atm, it's much harder. One of the developers who work for our vendor quit due to horrifying overwork and nightmarish schedules for them. She and I had a long talk about this, and all I could think is that she's was so goddamn lucky to be a US citizen and she can quit and get away. Most of the developers are on visa and the pay's great and the leave isn't bad either, if they put that in their contract up front and are necessary enough that it's respected; if it's not, they have a problem. When the state started limiting the number of contractors we had and offering positions with the state at far less pay (but admittedly pretty good leave and much better health care and retirement), I was both surprised and not by how many were willing to take the cut and work for us and we don't even offer paid overtime. We do, however, offer not having to wear suits and ties to work.

Note: Still private delight; took some of them like, one day to go jeans and t-shirts and look vaguely surly when asked a question. In general, while I lead the test team in looking like my shopping choices involve borrowing my son's outgrown clothes (dude, his batman t-shirt is awesome) and most recently, realizing my hair is long enough to use a pencil to twist it up--at least two people have stopped to watch me do this like it was a life skill worth having instead of I lost my scrunchie Somewhere Under the Bed and can't be fucked to stop at Target to get a new one when we have dozens of pencils around, or hell, pens--you can always tell who just got off the button up shirt phase before they even back into regular, and I, for a very short time, am not blinked at when I enter meetings with people who don't appreciate that I put on eyeliner--at some point--for this very special occasion. We are multitude. For a little while.





Family

1.) My middle sister, currently on Niece 3 or Nephew 2 (she decided not to know the sex), is being induced next Thursday, a week early, as the baby is supermassive and can be seen from space. It's almost unreal; from the back, you have no idea, then she turns around and it's like watching Alien/Aliens/the franchise--there is something large in there, and if you look closely, you can see it moving beneath the skin like a shark searching for prey, but slower and creepier, because at this stage of development they have a frontal lobe and may or may not know how to use it. This feels like the world's longest pregnancy; she's a size zero normally, and so she starts showing almost before the egg and sperm even meet. I mean, it's probably not a world-record baby here, but I swear every time there is movement, I'm worried I'm in a B-horror movie and waiting for the forboding music to start.

2.) This is what I really don't want to talk about. My youngest sister invited her son's father, who is physically and verbally abusive, an alcoholic, and crazy, to visit. He's not allowed in the house, but Saturday, after she cleverly decided to take him out drinking with her, events are as follows. This began around two in the morning (cut for relevance):

Seperis: sister's ex is calling obsessively
Seperis: He came down
And they went out
And he's still in Austin
And we don' tknow where
And he kepes calling
Madelyn: on a landline?
can you block it?
Seperis: Cell.
Soo yes, he could be across teh street
Madelyn: you can still block it!
Seperis: Or at teh goddamn gate.
I'm in the back yard.
Now paranoid
Madelyn: it's two a.m.
Seperis: Yes
Madelyn: you can call the police?
Seperis: For phone calls?
Madelyn: noise laws
and say you'd block it
but you're worried he'd physically show up
Seperis: I think we tried that before
This'll be a fun night of paranoia
Madelyn: maybe...go inside?
Seperis: Yeah, but the back door is--weird
I have the dogs with me
Not rottweilers
Need one of those
Madelyn: wouldn't he be more focused on her?
Seperis: He's crazy

::: removed ::::

Madelyn: can you put something against the back door?
Seperis: It's glass.
I just don't even want him in the yard.
Yelling
Madelyn: record it if he does.
Seperis: If possible, yeah

:::cut for whether or not I have a camcorder: answer is yes, but I have no idea where:::

Madelyn: but what are the dogs going to do?
aren't they small?
Seperis: No
Luke is a German Shepherd
Madelyn: Wasn't there one named luke and he looked kind of like a poodle?
Seperis: No, that's Tuffy
He's small and white.
Madelyn: *nods * at least there will be barking
well, make sure your phone's charged at least
in case recording gets to happen
and i assume the other phone is off
so that at least you don't have to hear it?
and go inside, if you have not already
and now i must sleep, but charge your phone, go inside, put something that will make noise against the glass
and find a good bat
Seperis: I will

At this point, I found out that he wasn't across the street, he was at the front door, muttering obsessively. We finally got the cops to come--they seemed to be really not terribly interested in the entire situation--and eventually they sort of chatted with him while my eleven year old niece who was visiting us--who'd fallen asleep in the front living room and I took her to the back one, since I could prove he was at the front door and I wanted to watch the back, and we didn't want to let anyone out of our sight--wouldn't be comforted by anyone but my son, who sat on the floor beside the couch so she'd feel safe and be between her and pretty much everything. My sister and her son stayed in her son's room and slept until teh police came, when she irritably came out to tell them to tell him to go away and the cop laughed and told them that breakups should be permanent. Then she felt terrible about it and called him the next day, found somewhere for him to stay so he can be in town, and spends the night with him. Because she's a fucking moron.

I don't blame her for being abused, or being a victim, or pretty much any of his behavior at all. I blame her for being okay with him doing that to everyone around her because she's in love and in ten years--ten. fucking. years--she doesn't go back to him because she has nowhere to go; she brings him here by request from east Texas. She doesn't work, hasn't for years, my mother supports her and her son and always has, she barely gets child support and that by garnishment when he bothers to have a job, but she'll call him, invite him down, make my mother miserable about how he's not allowed in the house, drama drama drama, and sulk when he leaves.

Last Sunday, I sat in the living room with my eleven year old niece, my sixteen year old son, and two dogs while he obsessively hit redial on his phone until I thought I'd scream while sitting on our front porch calling everyone cunts. Everyone has talked to her about this, everyone, and up until that night, a part of me kept thinking determinedly, she's gonna eventually realize she can do better than this. But there has to be a line somewhere where it stops being something that happens to you and something that is somewhere in the realm of choice.

3.) I never talk about this.

I don't date, I haven't for years, and when I get any vague opportunity, I tend to dither the hell out of it trying to decide if it's a good idea. A part of that is my natural inclination not to want bother with it. I mean, and I don't say this lightly, I don't have time, and the time I do have is spent at things I love doing already. If it were true love, I would be amenable. Mostly it's hard crushes that burn out in six months and I've never regretted a single time I just dithered my way out of it.

But a part of it--and I can't tell you how much, because I honestly don't know--is watching my sisters, my mother, hell, my aunt's four marriages and affairs, and my grandparents, the stories of my mother's father and first stepfather, and everything, everything I don't think about my childhood, things I don't talk about, things that I can't admit. Because my childhood was happy, it was, I was never abused, never molested, and my parents weren't perfect, but I know they tried their damndest and they loved me and my sisters and it's more than a lot of kids get and I won't complain about that. I wasn't ever unhappy, but--when I drink, I plan it carefully, I make a list of what I will and won't do, and I stick to it, I don't black out, and I only do it when it's a very special occasion and I'm happy. VVC, when I used to go clubbing for fun, and that's once or twice a year tops. I don't even drink wine anymore. Because my parents were alcoholics and they never hurt their kids, never, they never hit each other, but they hurt each other in ways that as a kid I didn't understand and as an adult scare me to death and piss me off. We were all trained very young to fight like that, and it's vicious and brutal and cruel, and I can count the number of times on one hand that I let what I'd learned from my family outside my family. It was not fun, but it was enlightening; it reminded me that in general, I am a shitty human being and the faking it until you make it isn't working yet.

My sisters, my family, do not do well at this, and while one sister does it serially (though her latest husband does show promise, which I'm actually scared to type because saying it might make it not true), the other sticks to her guns with a guy who calls us cunts for not wanting him in the house.

So I was sitting watching the back door with my crying preteen niece who loves Justin Bieber and My Little Pony and computer games curled up behind my stoic sixteen year old gaming could not win a fight with anyone ever son while my sister slept with her son in the other room and had to be woken up to tell the police to get her goddamn boyfriend to go away, and for the first time--the very first time--it occurred to me that I probably wouldn't fall in love with someone who would do that and be okay with it. That maybe that one thing I didn't have to worry about passing on to another generation, that this was okay; that maybe if I did go on a date with a guy I liked, if he was crazy, that wouldn't be a feature I'd be partial to. That if I was partial to it, I'd get the fuck over it and get away from it.

I mean, this in no way changes any of my reservations about dating anyone, ever--as in, my lack of interest is strong--but it does remove some of the rock-certainty that if I did, I couldn't help but do it badly, that there was no possible way it could go right even by accident. And at no point will I ever be sleeping while my boyfriend screams profanity from the front porch with my sister's children crying or protecting each other while an aunt watches the back door and wonders if this will be one of the things they'll carry with them always. It's likely my childhood had a very strong and permanent effect on how I view relationships for myself, how very little I want one, and I never minded that, not really, not when I'm watching the alternative by proxy for years and years, over and over like a terrible lesson in history in redux.

However, I find myself strangely reassured by the idea that if that changes, it will be like when I drink: when I make a list and stick to it, when I trust myself to do nothing I didn't think about beforehand and actually carried through with it. If I can do that when I can't even reliably keep my balance, if I can say yes, or no, or no, that wasn't on my list of things I was willing to do, for the love of God, I can probably pull it off dead sober in inadequate lighting with a musical accompaniment and someone telling me I'm pretty. I have a list of what I'll accept and what I won't, and I can stick to it. I'm pretty sure that the endorphin rush of true love will not at any point let me find the word 'cunt' endearing, and I honestly can't imagine going to pick up the guy the next day who scared a little girl so badly a sixteen year old child sat calmly beside me between her and the back door while we waited for the police to take us seriously.

I really wasn't sure of that before. I mean, nothing is sure in this life but death and taxes, but I'm gonna take a leap of faith and add this, too.

ETA: This probably sounds much more traumatizing than it actually is. Surprisingly, this was upsetting, but not really surprising or new or even unexpected behavior. It was just the time I realized at no point in my life is the expectation that I had to stop and think how much this wasn't like a shitty reality TV show or Lifetime movie in progress, because this won't ever end, not until something fundamental changes. Reading it afterward was surprising, because honest to God, this is what passes for mundane now.

Posted at Dreamwidth: http://seperis.dreamwidth.org/975980.html. | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments

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This is really heartbreaking--I'm glad that you've answered your own question of whether you could ever accept this type of abuse. Hope you set a great example of strength for your niece, to break the cycle.

First of all, I love you and your son. ::squishes::

And yeah, I know that realization you came to, and am here to tell you, it can work. Just add "relatively good with finances," or any area you are particularly lacking in to your list when you make it.

<3

keeping you in my thoughts. stay safe.

{hugs} you were so brave, I can't even say how much

Re, your final insight, all I could think if is of course you couldn't do what your sister did--for one thing, you're aware of the example you are setting for your (also very brave) son of what is acceptable behavior, versus the example your sister us providing to her son......

children learn what they're told--but even moreso what they see and what they live....


You really, really would never. You should be stone certain in that, because I know it's true.

Think also about how you, and your son <3 (think about that, how you've made him the wonderful person he is), provide such an excellent example toward your niece.

But I'm sorry you have to live with this, past and present.

I'm sorry this happened (and keeps happening) to you and your family, but I'm also glad that your niece has you and your son. Really.

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