I’m writing this piece of sheer frivolity only because I can’t get it out of my head. It should be entertaining for the few of you who are into both Hamilton and the Enneagram personality typing system. For everyone else, feel free to move along.

I’m a late adopter, and it wasn’t until this summer that I listened to Hamilton all the way through. Obviously I loved it, I’ve mentioned in in two out of three blog posts so far. Also this summer, I’ve gotten back into the Enneagram, thanks in large part to Hannah Pasch’s excellent Millenneagram podcast and twitter goodness. I’ve found a lot of personality typing systems helpful at different times in my life, but the Enneagram has consistently given me the most in terms of insight and steering my personal growth.

Anyway, those two things ended up occupying a lot of mental bandwidth for the span of a couple weeks, and that resulted in the following: a Hamilton song for each Enneagram number. Some of them came easily, some I needed an assist on, and one of them just finally came to me this morning after Lane and I had both given up. They’re not all perfect fits, but I’m pleased with the list anyway.

Note that this is about the song, not the characters. We can discuss which characters seem like which type (no really, we can — hit me up day or night to talk about it), but this is about the feelings, needs, strengths, and weaknesses expressed in each song.

Okay, so we’re doing this.

1 – Non-Stop

There’s a lot of good One stuff in the show, but this one takes it by a landslide.

I practiced the law, I practic’ly perfected it
I’ve seen injustice in the world and I’ve corrected it
Now for a strong central democracy
If not, then I’ll be Socrates

2 – You’ll Be Back

A rare villain spot for the Twos! Come on though, you all need a shirt that says “I will send a fully-armed battalion to remind you of my love.”

3 – My Shot

Another gimme despite there being several possible options. Threes get a bad rap a lot, so it pleases me that they get one of the standout numbers in this exercise.

I’m past patiently waitin’ I’m passionately mashin’ every expectation
Every action’s an act of creation

4 – Burn

I needed Lane’s help on this one, I had actually gone for the adjacent Hurricane but wasn’t happy with it. He’s a Four and he immediately said, “Nope, it’s Burn.”

I’m erasing myself from the narrative
Let future historians wonder how Eliza reacted
When you broke her heart

5 – Satisfied

This was the hardest one to call. At first I said Farmer Refuted, just because it’s so clever, but Lane pointed out that the whole show is dazzlingly clever and that’s not a good enough reason. Satisfied didn’t occur to either of us because it’s about love and we don’t usually go there first when thinking of 5s. But “I fell hard for a rare intellectual peer, immediately thought through all the reasons I shouldn’t pursue him, walked away, never gonna tell a soul about it” is an awfully 5 love story. So here you go.

So this is what it feels like to match wits
With someone at your level! What the hell is the catch?

6 – Right Hand Man

Another easy call.

You need all the help you can get
I have some friends. Laurens, Mulligan
Marquis de Lafayette, okay, what else?

7 – The Schuyler Sisters

I needed Lane’s help for this one too — I half-heartedly nominated The Story of Tonight, but this one’s better.

History is happening in Manhattan and we just happen to be
In the greatest city in the world!

8 – Yorktown (The World Turned Upside Down)

I love me a good triumphal 8 number (see also Henry V and Holst’s Jupiter). No single quote covers it: it’s just everybody fighting at their best, and winning.

We gotta go, gotta get the job done
Gotta start a new nation, gotta meet my son!

9 – Wait For It

Okay, there’s a solid argument to be made here for That Would Be Enough. It’s probably even the right pick. But I’m an angsty 9 and Wait For It speaks to me more than any other number in the show. I’m not saying I throw back my head and belt “I am the one thing in life I can controooooool!” every time it comes on, but — actually yeah, I am saying that, that’s exactly what I do.

I’m not falling behind or running late
I’m not standing still
I am lying in wait
Disagree with any of my picks? Fight me in the comments!

Strong heart

Grief keeps coming for me this year. Over and over I’ve been hit with loss: different kinds, different reasons, all painful.

Also this year, I realized that I needed to learn to be fully present with my feelings or die. So when grief hits me, instead of evading it or crushing it down, I have been trying hard to sit with it, to let it move through me at its own pace. This takes discipline. I have a dozen strategies for diverting grief or stopping its flow, and it’s hard not to activate them when my heart feels like it’s being gripped in a vise and I can only breathe in little gasps that feel like stabs.

One thing I am learning is that my heart is strong. While I sit there gasping, thinking “I am actually not sure I can bear this,” my heart is steadily bearing it. It holds the pain and it endures. As I sit here now, on a peaceful day, that same center of feeling in my chest is at rest, undamaged. It holds pain like a sponge holds water, wringing out sobs and tears when it gets too full, and then absorbing more until there’s no more to soak up. And then it quietly returns to its original state.

I always think that I need to protect my body, to avoid pain. I think that pain is the same thing as damage, and try to shield my body even from feeling emotional pain. But this summer I have begun asking my body what she needs from me, and when I have asked in the grips of grief, the answer is never, “Save me from this.” It is, “Be with me through this.” Don’t run away. Don’t suppress.

When I push the grief away, I just move it to somewhere else in my body, a place that isn’t meant to absorb and release it.

And because there’s no way to evade a valid pain without lying, when I push the grief away I spin lies. I lie about what I really want, or about what the future will hold, or about the reality of the past. It becomes harder and harder to know and feel my actual needs and realities, and harder to connect to other people. Every attempt at closeness, every decision I make for my life, has to navigate around the brittle structure of illusions and evasions I’ve built to protect myself from pain.

I’m realizing slowly that none of this is necessary. I am very new to this, and I don’t know if there are limits or actual breaking conditions, but for now I am trying to trust that my heart is strong. It knows how to do this work of holding pain. Instead of tying myself in knots to protect it, I can sit and feel it, and thank it for its work.

Back and forward

Oh hello.

In the 17 months since I last wrote here, I’ve adjusted to a new job, bought a house, struggled with infertility, fallen in love, broken up, gotten a dog, written a sloppy first draft of a horror novel, become the president of a community chorus, finally listened to Hamilton.

So that about catches us up, yeah?

All right, a few more updates. Lane has fully moved over to his own blog, but in exchange for moving away blogfully, I’ve gotten him to move closer physically, and he’s now living mere blocks away from me. He continues to be much more prolific than I am in both blogging and fiction writing — but I’m trying to close the gap a bit.

This summer has been an adventure in re-learning how to live in my body and experience feelings, which apparently for some people just comes naturally and doesn’t need to be learned at all. I’ve cried SO much and also been ecstatically happy several times, and also started to find a sort of deeply embodied spirituality that I’m excited to keep exploring and also to write about in the future.

After three months of practice feeling things, it seems like time to start doing things. Most of the last three and a half years have been pretty much survival, and creating a little cocoon of healing, and letting my choices and actions be driven by the people that help me sustain that cocoon. Now I’m checking out what happens if I consider what I, all by myself, actually want and what I can do about it. I’m thinking about my job/career situation and how I’d like to steer that. I’ve set myself a challenge to go on one new date a month for the rest of the calendar year. I am writing things down and putting them out where people can see them.

Hi there, people. Nice to be with you again.


I terminated my Healthcare.gov insurance plan today. It was for the best reason: for the first time in ten years, I’m able to get health insurance through my employer!

But the timing feels weird, so I wanted to take a minute to express my appreciation for the ACA and the healthcare marketplace it created. It isn’t a perfect system, but it made a huge difference to me.

From 2007-2014, I was completely without health insurance. I was scraping by on part-time work, in grad school some of that time, and there was no way I could have fit the premium for an individual plan into my budget. I’m lucky to be in good health overall, so it was fine, but I went those seven years knowing that if I had a serious accident or unexpected chronic illness, I was probably looking at bankruptcy.

The ACA changed that. It meant I could go in for treatment of a skin irritation that I’d been (incorrectly, as it turned out) dealing with on my own for much of those seven years. Because I’m stubborn and hate making appointments, I didn’t actually take advantage of that option for several months — until my home treatment caused a very bad infection that could have turned even worse if I hadn’t gone in when I did. If I hadn’t had health coverage, I probably would have tried to tough it out even longer, which would have meant an even more expensive bill (that the state might very well have ended up absorbing anyway), and possibly a permanent injury/disability for me.

Because of my coverage, I’ve been able to stay in therapy for a full year, and I am amazed at the difference in how I think, feel, and cope now versus a year ago. Trauma can cause subtle damage as well as the obvious. I am certain that the consistent mental health care I’ve received has been an essential part of restoring my energy, focus, and confidence — without which I certainly wouldn’t have the job that is now allowing me to go off the ACA plan.

Good healthcare is essential to life, and good healthcare costs less in the long run. My hope is that our country’s health coverage only becomes more affordable, accessible, and comprehensive over time.

One day at a time

I don’t want to talk a lot about the heartbreak and horror I’ve felt for the last week. It’s not new or particularly different from anyone else’s, and I don’t want to revisit it in writing. I do want to talk some about how I’ve been thinking, and what I’m going to do next.

  1. I’m going to stop talking about 2016 like it’s this anomalous bad year. When I do that, what I’m saying is, “The hard times will be over soon.” It’s so much easier to do that than to face the truth: that hardship and suffering are never far away. I tend to live my life as if there’s a dichotomy between “good times” and “bad times,” because then when I can say I’m in a “good time” I can feel secure. It’s time I found a different way of coping with the uncertainties of life.
  2. I’m going to take joy whenever and wherever I can find it. This is intimately connected to the above point. Amid the struggles of processing last week, I had a lot of moments of laughter, of connection, of simple happiness in being with people I loved. I’m affirming now that it is okay to take these moments. If I can be happy, it is more than okay to be happy — it is good. I don’t need to wait for some mythical “good time” to feel joy and comfort. Spending a couple of hours feeling pretty good doesn’t mean I’m ignoring the evils that are in the world: it means I’m recharging to help endure and fight them.
  3. I’m going to continue being much less engaged with social media. This is a very personal decision, based on the effects I’ve observed in myself — I’m not trying to make any kind of blanket statements about the nature of social media or how other people should be. In myself, I have noticed a strong correlation with how much time I spend on Facebook and Twitter, and how depressed, traumatized, and hopeless I feel. That’s not even the fault of the people I follow, because they’re almost all amazing people who are passionate about social justice. It’s just something about the dynamic of hourly scrolling my news feed, that crushes my spirit and saps my energy. So I’m dialing it way back, and putting my energy somewhere else.
  4. I’m going to make a conscious habit and goal of doing something every day to help. I’m working into my budget a plan of regular, small donations to organizations that are fighting for the good. I’m going to spend the next couple of weeks doing a lot of research on other small, concrete things I can do to stay engaged, stay active, and help make the world better.

I’m in this for the long haul. I am here to fight and to help, every day, come what may.

This year in sexual assault; Emma

There are basically two topics right now that I can’t stop thinking about: 1) how brutally, relentlessly triggering this year has been for myself and other survivors of abuse and assault; and 2) the 2009 miniseries of Jane Austen’s Emma, which I discovered four days ago and have watched three times so far. I realize these are pretty disparate topics, so for your convenience, dear readers, I’m going to write my thoughts on each of these in different colors, so you can skip over the parts that don’t interest you.


Maybe every year is like this and I just didn’t notice till now. For me it started with James Deen, with his former partner Stoya’s brief and brutal tweet describing what he did to her and that she couldn’t keep quiet any more. That story hit me hard: maybe because I had seen him perform and liked him, maybe because his slightly-smug image all over my news feeds reminded me of my own assailant, maybe because I could empathize so vividly with Stoya’s predicament, with staying quiet for so long for so many reasons and then finally saying a thing because you couldn’t take it any more. And dealing with the vengeful backlash from your assailant and his fans.

Then a few months later it was Brock Turner and now many, many of my survivor friends were saying, “Just seeing this dude’s face is triggering for me.” My social media is pretty well curated so I didn’t have to see people defending him or saying horrible things, much, but it was still exhausting to scroll through and see everywhere headlines about how often rape happens and how rarely it is prosecuted, how hard our culture works to excuse and defend rapists while leaving their victims isolated and unsupported, how little punishment even an egregious and thoroughly documented offense received. And all I can think, reading through these, is “I know. I know. BELIEVE me, I fucking know. I’m glad y’all are catching on, but it would be nice to get to spend a day not thinking about it.”


Emma has been my favorite Jane Austen book since the first time I read it and realized I didn’t have to be perfect to be a heroine. Emma has all the faults I try so hard to avoid: being oblivious but thinking she’s particularly wise and insightful, eagerly trying to do good in a way that harms others, needing to be adored and falling into pettiness because of it. She is good-hearted and smart, and she is valuable and lovable, but she does make some pretty awful and foolish mistakes, and that is the hero I needed as a young girl, and still need now.

I’ve seen both the Gwyneth Paltrow and the Kate Beckinsale versions of Emma, and I liked aspects of both but neither fully satisfied me. One of them gave short shrift to the Harriet storyline, the other one to the Frank Churchill storyline, and both of those are important. Overall I preferred the Beckinsale version, but it still wasn’t as good — relative to the book — as my other favorite Austen interpretations.


Ultimately it was a social incident that sent me into a lowkey extended PTSD episode, but nothing about the news this year has helped. I knew Trump had raped people before I ever learned of specific accusations: he was powerful enough to get away with it and he didn’t even pretend to have the kind of sexual ethics that would stop him.

It sometimes feels like I’ve gone through the looking glass and I’m seeing the world in a completely different way. Past Ginny would have been shocked to hear that a powerful man, even one as sleazy and unethical as Trump, had committed sexual assault. For Past Ginny, and for my friends still on that side of the looking glass, rape is an extraordinary act, only done by people beyond the pale of a decent society.

Now I know better. Rape is, in fact, quite ordinary. It is a commonplace on college campuses, in the entertainment world, in business. There are just so many people who care more about getting what they want than about respecting someone else’s autonomy. So many narratives that let people tell themselves they’re not doing anything wrong. So many systems that support perpetrators and punish victims. Normal people, cool people, people that really helped you out that one time, can be rapists, and more than a few of them are.

So to think that a powerful, sleazy, textbook narcissist like Donald Trump is a rapist? Duh. Obviously. It’d be surprising if he weren’t.


Romola Garai’s Emma is a delight. She’s full of smiles and warmth and passionate opinions that are sometimes right and sometimes wrong. She matures and deepens just enough, over the course of the four-episode miniseries. She is still the same person, but she has learned to think and speak a little more carefully, to treat love with a little more seriousness. Her smile is still an explosion of sunshine, and I could watch it all day.

Jonny Lee Miller’s Mr. Knightley is everything I didn’t know I needed. I used to like Mark Strong’s Knightley a lot — but that was back when I was enamored of angry men who are always telling you what’s up. Jeremy Northam’s was better, and was indeed one of the best advantages to the Paltrow version over the Beckinsale.

Mr. Knightley is a tough needle to thread. He is significantly older than Emma and he scolds her a lot, which makes him an ideal husband in the value system I grew up with, but less appealing now. Jonny Lee Miller’s Knightley is kind and he is good-humored, two essential traits to balance out the scolding. You see him enjoying his friends and family, sharing amusement with Emma, feeling genuine concern for the people in his circle. He loves Emma before he falls in love with her, and continues to love and care about her as a person in her own right afterward. His little concerned, pained, resigned expressions as he watches her with Frank Churchill twist my heart in the most exquisite way.

This production, better than any of the others, shows the warm, easy partnership that make Emma and Mr. Knightley work. You’re not left to fill in the gaps between fights with “I guess they must like each other for some reason” — it is obvious that they are pretty much each other’s favorite person, right from the start.


Another through-the-looking-glass moment is in the wave of accusations of assault that came after The Tapes. Past Ginny would have been at least somewhat swayed by the idea that some of these women are jumping on a bandwagon for attention — otherwise why now, when they were silent before?

Present Ginny knows. It’s because now these women, who have kept silent for years out of shame and intimidation, think, “Maybe I’ll actually be believed.” Now that he is on record as saying “this is a thing I like to do” maybe those women have a chance at being taken seriously when they say, “he did this thing.” It is disgusting but very real that that’s what it takes.

What people who haven’t been through it don’t know is that there is no acceptable way to say that a well-liked person assaulted you. If you say it calmly you’re making it up because clearly it didn’t affect you. If you say it sobbing, you’re hysterical. If you say it when nobody else has accused that person, you’re tarnishing someone’s good name with a highly improbable story. If you say it when others have, you’re jumping on a bandwagon because you want the attention. If you pursue some kind of legal or social repercussions, then you’re trying to hurt them and probably doing it out of unrelated vengeance. If you don’t, it must not have been that big a deal and/or you’re letting your community down by letting a perpetrator go on unbothered.


Beyond Emma and Mr. Knightley, the whole world of Highbury, in the 2009 version, is a world of friendship and support even for the rather silly and unlovely members. Mr. Woodhouse with his illness and anxiety — Miss Bates with her poverty and prattle — are cared for with gentleness and sincere love by their community. Emma’s failure to do this, and subsequent realization and repentance, are the real turning point of the novel. This is a world where people look after each other, even when the others’ needs feel silly or tiresome.

Wise or foolish, attractive or plain, it is having a good heart that matters in Highbury. The Eltons are vain and self-serving, and they are the only truly unloved characters of the piece. Everybody else, from grouchy John Knightley to flighty Harriet to fretful Mr. Woodhouse, is treated as worthwhile even with their flaws. And it is that good-hearted community, along with the completely enchanting smiles of Garai and Miller, that has kept me coming back to this production over and over this week.



This world is not kind to survivors. We are ignored. We are demonized. Every indiscretion and weakness in our lives is turned out as if they have some bearing on what was done to us. We see our assailants praised and celebrated, and we agonize over whether to say something. We hear people make jokes about what was done to us. We are, often, targeted for vicious abuse and revenge for daring to speak out. We see other survivors so targeted and wonder if we’ll be next.

And it’s every day. And it’s exhausting.


I am lucky enough, now, to have a community not unlike the fictional Highbury. I have a small strong knot of people around me who care unconditionally, who are concerned with meeting each others’ needs even if we can’t relate to them, who extend love despite mistakes and foolishness. They are my family and they heal me every day.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to queue up for a fourth go-through of Emma.

Love languages and polyamory

I love when writers I follow hit on relevant topics to my life at the moment. So I was delighted to read Audra Williams’s post about love languages. I’ve been familiar with the love languages concept since I was a teenager, but like many familiar concepts I’d stopped investigating how it might be helpful for my life now.

I’ve been struggling a lot in the last several weeks with feeling that I’m not getting enough time with my anchor partner. I’ve felt an unusual amount of jealousy, which for me indicates that I’m not getting what I need to feel sustained and connected in a relationship — and usually denying to myself that I have the right to get those things, because worthiness is a core issue of basically everything in my life.

In particular I’ve felt like I can’t ask for more time with my partner because that would be unfair to his other partners. I am always aware of how much one-on-one time my metamour gets with our partner, and I don’t feel okay about asking for more time unless she’s gotten as much or more than I have.

Yes, that’s silly for a lot of reasons. Worthiness: it’s a struggle.

I’ve also felt bad because other poly people I know can be perfectly happy if their domestic partners have dates most nights in the week, while I haaaate it. So all the usual questions come up: “Do I need to get better at poly? Do I need to change my sense of what a happy domestic relationship feels like? If I can’t do that, does it mean polyamory isn’t for me?”

The answer to any of those questions could be yes in a lot of cases, but it wasn’t for me. I know for damn sure that the answer isn’t for me to start dating three other people so that my evenings are always full: that’s not a happy life for me, and it won’t solve the problem of feeling disconnected from my anchor partner.

And then, while I was feeling grumpy and sad and unworthy and broken all at once, I remembered: Quality time is my primary love language. Maybe the reason I get so much crankier than other people when I don’t have enough one-on-one time with my partner is because that’s the most important way for me to feel loved? Heyyyy, genius.

I learned it a long time ago (and long before I knew about polyamory) so I’d lost sight of this: not everybody needs the same things to feel loved. If I ask for at least 20 minutes of focused one-on-one time every day, that doesn’t mean that all my metamours have to get the same time or it’s unfair. Maybe a different ritual is more important to them for feeling loved and connected. Maybe I don’t need to feel extra-needy because a time allotment that’s plenty for other people leaves me feeling parched and lonely.

Fairness in polyamory doesn’t mean everybody gets the same thing: it means everybody gets what they need to feel loved and connected. I knew this, but I had forgotten that the actual substance of what feels loving and connecting can be very different for different people. So I can stop tracking my quality time allotment against everybody else’s to make sure I’m not being too demanding or unfair. (Someday I will level up to the point where I stop worrying that expressing my needs means being too demanding or unfair, but that’s probably several classes away if we’re honest.)

Having quality time as a love language may require some extra strategizing in polyamory, time being the most finite of our resources. I’m still chewing on ways to make the most out of our limited hours. But it’s good to have some context for my needs and some language for helping me and my people understand them.