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Witch or Bitch | Our Prairie Nest
Witch or Bitch?

In 1997, the song Bitch by Meredith Brooks came out and many women embraced it. You probably still remember dancing around to it, thinking, “Oh yeah, I’m hella edgy!” But how many of you read the book Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women by Elizabeth Wurtzel, published in 1998?

Elizabeth Wurtzel died today, but I think her work went out with the 90s and that’s just as sad. When Prozac Nation came out, it was highly praised by readers and critics. How many non Gen-Xers have read that book, though? Or Bitch? If you haven’t read any of her work, I urge you check it out. Very little has changed since either book was released and I think they remain relevant today.

Bitch came at a time when I needed to read it. I’d spent the first 5 years of my adulthood apologizing for being the person I was and trying to be something different. But as 1998 came around and I was circling back to the things that mattered to me – instead of to someone else – Bitch was like a call to action.

In particular, I was re-embracing my Pagan beliefs. For a time, I’d set them aside to explore monotheism and found that none of it made sense. How could it, when everything about the Abrahamic religions is merely a retread of the Pagan beliefs that came long before? Why follow a copycat religion when I could look deeper and further back, when I could connect with humanity and nature instead of some abstract idea of divinity?

My ex-MIL did not take that well and she specifically informed my husband at the time that “The devil is in your (our) house.”

So Elizabeth Wurtzel’s book “praising difficult women” came when I needed it the most, when I needed someone to understand me and accept that, yes, I am a Witch and that’s not going to change. Most of us have the same need – to be understood, to feel accepted just the way we are, to be allowed to live and let live. Something in Bitch gave me that, as well as the strength to continue on my own path, not worrying about someone else’s judgments about me.

Fast-forward a few years into the future, when some officer whose name I don’t even remember informed my now-ex-husband that he could never vote for him to be president, because of my religion. Hey, random officer whose name I’ve forgotten? This is for you and everyone who thinks like you:

I think Elizabeth Wurtzel would approve.

Rest in peace.

Releasing or That night Daniel saved me from prom | Our Prairie Nest
Releasing (or the night Daniel saved me from prom)

Blame the New Year, blame 2020, blame the eclipses, but here’s the truth: it’s not them, it’s me. And I realized I tried to do and be too much last year.

Late last year, I started getting headaches, something I don’t generally suffer from. I had more sleepless nights than ever, and I lost about 10 pounds because… Well, I don’t know why, but it happened and I know it’s not a good thing.

The first weekend of December, I went to Midwest Furfest with my husband and son. We’ve gone in previous years, but not the past couple because A. it was getting a little stale and B. renovations took priority. But this year I had a little bonus from doing some editing work on the side, so off to Chicago we went for MFF 2019 and I am so glad we did. We chilled. We laughed. We raved. It was fantastic and it was eye-opening.

What I realized that first weekend in December was that there were things I didn’t miss back home. Things I was doing because I did have an interest at first, only to find out they brought on more stress than satisfaction.

Maybe some people are stubborn and will push through that, but not me. It took another month to realize my body was telling me something: to stop, fall back on what I truly care about, and let the other stuff go.

I want to spend time with my family and my birds, get back to writing (which has been going slower than I want), focus on genealogy again, spend more time gaming (we’re going weekly with D&D), go out with friends for coffee, and have the freedom to sit down and watch TV at the end of the day. I’ve actually been pining to watch Turn since I saw the first episode, but every weekend I think I’m going to get back to it, something happens.

The entire month of December was full of highs and lows, which is pretty normal. However, the lows of 2019 were some of the worst. I’m burned out on the things I’ve tried, from socializing at the Mom Prom to being a Girl Scout co-leader. They’re all great things and I’m glad they exist, but they aren’t my things.

This sense of burn out has been acute since October, when I lost someone who meant a lot to me. It hit hard and there are times the grief still makes me feel incredibly alone in social situations. But that compelled me to drop the things in my life that don’t do me any good or stress me out, and spend more time smelling the roses (so to speak… it is winter, after all). So I’m in the midst of releasing physical things, commitments, and other things that literally cause headaches.

Last year, I found a job outside the home that I love, and am back to working in a law office, like I did for the first 15 years of my adulthood. I’ve committed myself to writing fewer books per year, but that’s still a priority because I love doing it. And, of course, I’m as passionate as ever about genealogy. I want to get more into the family history aspect of it, and I still get so much satisfaction and energy from teaching writing and genealogy classes at the local community college!

This year, I also want to make more time for doing what I want to do. Like taking an impromptu trip to Carhenge. Or spending a day cross-stitching with my daughter. Or finally visiting an archive in Nova Scotia.

The thing is, we’re in a place that isn’t permanent for us. I don’t just mean Nebraska, but life. So we ought to live our lives, our way. Yannowhadimean? Yeah, you do.

Friends | Our Prairie Nest
Friends

As October nears, I feel the pull of the seasons stronger than ever. It draws me toward home with nostalgia for family and New England, and… certain friends.

The idea of a “friend” has changed over the years, and I have some thoughts on it. Probably cynical ones, mind you, because I don’t think that, outwardly, a friend is what it used to be pre-internet.

At its very core, the idea of having a friend is to have a support system – someone who shares some of your interests and views, someone you can have fun with, and who is also there for you when life is not so fun. It’s kind of like a spouse or partner, except there’s no desire for physical intimacy and no romantic attachment.

Things like Facebook have complicated this idea of friendship. For example, I don’t see all of my Facebook “friends” as friends. A few are friends in the traditional sense of the word – people whose company I enjoy, who I can do fun things and talk about shared interests with, and exchange gripes about our lives with, but we’re talking maybe 5% of the people in my entire “Friends List.” And at least one of those friends doubles as family, because I’m lucky enough to have a great bond with my sister.

Some were friends once, but we’ve grown apart. I like that we’ve kept in touch, but the bond isn’t as strong or there at all. That’s just a fact of life. It’s nice to keep up with them, but I won’t be scheduling coffee dates with them from 1400 miles away.

Where does that leave the other people on this “Friends List”? Some are online friends only, people I’ve “known” for a number of years online and would be happy to meet in real life, but distance prevents it. These friends were discovered through a specific shared interest, but also have other qualities or shared views that I value. These are fellow writers, readers, and genealogists, and there’s often another quality or aspect to their personality that makes me want to keep up with them, too.

Some are other moms whose kids are the same age as my daughter. I like these moms and I enjoy hanging out with them. However, that time is sporadic and not likely to change. That’s okay. I don’t mind that, but I’ll be honest: I prefer their Millennial, 20-and-30-something company over my own Generation X, anyway (and my rant about how Generation X disappointed me and let the world down is a whole other kettle of fish). So I don’t pass up a chance to see these moms, if I can help it. In fact, I’d like to spend more time with them.

And it’s not that I don’t hang out with the moms whose kids are the same age as my son; it’s just that I don’t know any. My son doesn’t participate in social activities or parties that have ever necessitated my presence, so the one time I briefly met other mothers was the year he flirted with the idea of playing baseball. They already had their mom cliques, as opposed to the moms I met when my daughter started pre-school. Of course, they’ve formed their social groups, too, but it was a lot easier to be welcomed among them from the get-go. As far as the high school moms, well… it turns out they’re part of the Gen Xers I want to rant about, anyway.

That leaves what I call “friendly acquaintances” – local people that I socialize with, but with whom I have nothing in common. They aren’t people I can call when I’m out of gas and stranded, or to vent about something. Most of them aren’t people I would socialize with outside of school or scouting, because not only do we not have enough in common to draw us together, they’re also just too different than me when it comes to values, views, and more. And, honestly, I don’t want to socialize with them beyond what’s necessary. At some point, these people won’t be on my “Friends List” because I won’t have to participate in activities with them as our children grow up. I won’t be worried about offending them by rejecting a friend request or unfriending them once my daughter has either graduated or we’ve moved.

That’s where it comes across as cynical, I suppose. I certainly see the value in having acquaintances who are different. But we aren’t talking cultural differences. These are stark political and religious differences, and all they do is remind me of how uncomfortable it is to be in the Midwest, sometimes. These are the people who send friend requests that, if I didn’t have to see them face-to-face, I would otherwise reject.

That sounds awful, I know, but it’s the truth. I really don’t have any interest in befriending Conservatives or loud/hardcore Christians, for example. Many of these people post or share things that are insulting to anyone who doesn’t share their political views and religious beliefs. Sometimes, all they talk about is their church this and their church that, and they have to inject it into every conversation. It’s obnoxious, to say the least.

The thing is, I’ve had enough of seeing and talking to these kinds of people to know how this goes. They are who they are, and I am who I am, and there’s really no need to pretend either of us want to be friends. It’s okay with me not to get a friend request from you. Just because we see each other once or twice a month in real life, you don’t need to feel obligated to send me a friend request.

These folks always get Unfollowed by me and placed on a specific list. This way, A. I don’t see their posts and B. I can hide some of mine from them, if I so choose. Even if I do see what they post, it’s not going to sway my views or beliefs. No matter what, my children (aka the Atheist Teenager and Wannabe Witch Child) are not going to attend your church event or Vacation Bible School, and I’m still going to vote blue.

Rather than hope people will change, I’m simply at an age where I just want to find “my people.” That’s all. Nothing against anyone else for not sharing my views or beliefs. It’s just “that I don’t have the time or energy for that.

I think my biggest fear is that people will see my feelings as narrow-minded or cynical or misanthropic, but the plain truth is I’m just done with fighting uphill battles. I did it for almost 20 years with my ex-laws. Instead, I would rather lend my energy to something positive. Part of that happens by spending time with others who share the same path as me.

I just want to find “my” people. That’s all. And I acknowledge that most people, especially in the rural Midwest, aren’t going to be a part of the circle I want to find or create. So even though I’m afraid everyone will see that desire as a negative, to me it’s a positive, an acknowledgement that I don’t want to waste my precious time and energy on things that don’t serve me well.

And let’s paraphrase my favorite line from one of my favorite movies of all time when it comes to relationships (romantic or platonic): I’d rather be alone for the right reasons than with someone for the wrong ones.

To the Cass County Fair | Our Prairie Nest
Many Things & Not Enough

So I need to write this now or forget entirely. Though there is no forgetting how remiss I’ve been in giving my blog love. I have this beautiful website and haven’t posted in an age. Not that it matters to anyone but me, but I do like sharing, especially when it comes to genealogy and witchcraft. It needs to happen more often.

Summer isn’t an excuse. Yes, I slowed down and enjoyed every moment until recently. In fact, I think I’ve learned to slow down in general. At least a little…

If you look at what I do – work full time, write full time, lead Girl Scouts (and I’m probably going to flail helplessly there for the next few years – eek!), and find time for family and hobbies – you would probably disagree. But, honestly, that’s “slow” for me, even if you include binge-watching “Outlander” and cross-stitching and trying to read a book a month.

Fall hasn’t gotten off to the best start, either. My beloved great-aunt Jo passed away on August 30. Simply put, it sucks. Aunt Jo meant so much to so many people. She never married or had children of her own. In a way, all of us were her children and grandchildren. She was the keeper of the family history, one of the people I picked up the genealogy bug from, and the person who wanted to keep family together.

I got the news on Friday when I got home from work. When I did, I closed the bedroom door and cried. I hate grieving in front of people. Ever since then, I’ve had a lump in the center of my chest. Sometimes, it loosens and I can breathe. Other times, it’s so tight, I can’t help but cry. I know it’ll come and go, and the idea of Aunt Jo being gone is surreal at the moment. If I could be in Massachusetts for her funeral, I would. But I can’t and that sucks, too.

Life doesn’t really slow down until you die, does it? Maybe there’s a trick to it or maybe all we can do is pretend to stop and smell the roses, all the while knowing time is doing its own thing, whether we like it or not.

Daniel asked me earlier this year when I’ll “stop” doing genealogy. I couldn’t help but squawk back at him, “When I answer all the questions!”

I guess that’s what keeps this inquisitive Sagittarius pushing so hard from day to day. That’s how I live my life – trying to answer the questions. What about you?