We Are Women: How Well We F*ck

Men remember how we eat 
more than they remember how well we fuck.
They forget our names 
and if we gave good head, 
but they’re quick to tell their friends 
what we ordered for dinner
and how we consumed it.
Women spend more time contemplating a menu
than sexual positions. 
Intimacy is a whisper in our mind
soon overtaken by what implication 
our meal choice will say to you. 

(c) Copyright 2022 held by Alicia C. Rautenberg 

An Ache Like This

Restless heartbeats 
search for a harbor.
Undefiled passion --  
yearns for disorder.

Remove these disentangled reins
from the order of loving,
As hands survey the land,
like volcanos, words come rushing.

Timid touches -- uneasy
with infinite occasion,
then with confident reply
her body grants permission.

Into her sweet delusion
comes each enveloping kiss.
She is certain, like a fever
not to have known an ache like this. 

(C) Copyright 2022 held by Alicia C. Rautenberg 

She Called it A Med Boost: Our First Child’s ADHD Diagnosis

She had been thinking about us. Scary. That could go one of two ways: she was either happy with our progress, or something was bothering her. Just our luck…it was the latter.

“Sometimes I have parents come into my office exhausted and looking for answers on how to deal with their kids. They’re looking for excuses as to why they can’t get anything done, or why they cant’ have dinner at a restaurant without their child erupting into a tantrum,” she was speaking to us, but her eyes followed Nugs as her little body flitted around the room. 

“And I have to tell these parents – you have a kid. You have unrealistic expectations.” She looked back at us, ”but I don’t think that’s the case in your situation.”

It was like time stopped. The entire room was on PAUSE except me. It felt like that moment when you’re in a crowded store and your child knocks over a trinket — those few seconds before it hits the tile floor and shatters into a million unpaid for pieces. 

“I don’t think you guys have unrealistic expectations of your daughter. I think with kids of her nature – based on what I witnessed in her first appointment, the last one, and now this one – I think we are dealing with a child who has ADHD.”

I could see the look on my wife’s face. It was a combination of relief and fear, and I’m pretty sure I looked exactly the same way.

“Okay?!?” I was hanging on.

She went on to explain how in Nugs’ case we can do all of the behavioral modification we want but if there’s a chemical/physical thing going on inside of her we won’t get very far. Her brain isn’t developed when it comes to behavioral triggers and realizing behavioral issues. You complicate those issues  even further when you add ADHD to the mix, which delays her even more.

“She needs to be on the same playing field as any other four year old if we’re going to get her behavior under control.” 

I didn’t even have to ask the question, I knew what she was going to say next.

MEDICATION.

A small part of me knew this was going to happen even before we started working with a child psychologist. I knew deep down at some point in this process we’d  hear those words. 

We discussed our options which scared me honestly, but Dr. Gayle eased my mind by letting me know our first option was a commonly used blood pressure blocker. Kids with this type of ADHD (they no longer use ADD anymore – it’s ADHD or ADHD Inattentive – one is hyper, one is distracted), have elevated blood pressure. When your body has elevated blood pressure it tries to compensate by moving more. This blocker would keep her blood pressure from elevating, which would keep her from moving 800 miles an hour.

So… that was it. She called it a Med Boost – like a shot of antibiotics. Nugs would only take it long enough to get her strong enough to fight her behavior demons and then once we were there, we could take her off the medication.

Now… we wait. And we research…  

We have a child who is ADHD-Hyperactive.

Suffer In Silence

It's no more visible than the air I breathe, 
yet I feel the aftermath like a papercut -- 
more painful than one would expect, or admit. 
The words I speak will not tell you as much 
as the ebbs and flows of my laborious breath. 
I'll laugh to convince you of imaginary things -- 
you're just too empathetic for your own damn good. 
I'd be lying, you'd be right. 
But I'll never let you know you could save me 
If only I had the courage to let you try.

(c) Copyright 2022 held by Alicia C. Rautenberg

“I’ll set a place at the table for you…”

When I was 24 years old, my life felt hopeless. I was living on my own for the first time but it didn’t feel the way I had imagined. Instead of feeling empowered and independent, it made me feel disconnected from the people I loved, and who loved me. I was dealing with a pretty big life event, and was constantly trying to reassure myself of my feelings; I HAD to do this – I had to separate myself from certain people to be healthy. Yet, the entire time all I wanted was connection. 

I tried to be grateful for the things I had: I found a small studio apartment in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood. It was a place – where living – had been a dream since I was young. My dad lived in a small apartment on Harvard Ave, when his job moved him there (I was about ten) and I loved being in the city. I later discovered the pull was stronger than the simple desire to be a city girl; Capital Hill was an LGBTQ neighborhood and without knowing my fate – even back then – it felt like home. When the time came to move out and be on my own, I knew where I needed to be.

 When I moved to Capitol Hill, I welcomed the changes I was going to have to make. Remember how I said I was dealing with a pretty big life event, well, at the time I wasn’t sure if being gay was something I could be. I never had doubts about my sexuality – it was everyone else’s doubt in me, but I thought if I could immerse myself in an environment that was safe, my self-confidence would come organically. 

I also had a girlfriend for the first time. It was an on-again, off-again relationship and we had been oscillating through the last five years. It was difficult transitioning from best friends to lovers, and trying to understand the dynamic of our relationship put a huge strain on us. Some days it felt as if we were meant to be together, and other days we felt more like family and had no choice but to be together. A first-time same sex relationship, that can be really hard. You’re constantly asking yourself, “should the line be crossed,” and once you’ve crossed it – should you stay there? 

In that season of life our relationship was on again, and we were talking about making some changes. My girlfriend wanted to move to Seattle so we could give our relationship a REAL shot, but I was terrified. It was one thing to be out in Los Angeles, (away from family) but being in Seattle, where I saw my family regularly… that was too scary to imagine. I wasn’t sure if I could do it. I knew deep down I would never be accepted if they knew about my life; it wasn’t Christian! I was raised to believe we hated the sin and not the sinner, but I didn’t want to be a sinner.

Growing up I felt a little separated from my family. I was the only person in a family the size of 3 basketball teams, who was of mixed race, and since my parents were divorced I didn’t have my mom (who was Filipino) with me at family gatherings. It wasn’t something I was always aware of, but it did present itself on occasion. One of the major differences was how I looked. I was dark skinned, dark eyed, dark everything… and my dad’s family is Norwegian. Nobody ever acknowledged that part of me because I’m sure most of them didn’t view me as being any different, but not acknowledging a difference can sometimes make you feel invisible. 

So when I realized being with my girlfriend meant having to expose that part of my life to my family, the last thing I wanted was to be MORE different, and the thought of coming out felt like standing in front of a firing squad. 

Craving connection, the weight of coming out, feeling invisible, the fear of separation… It was a lot! Being on my own for the first time quieted so much of my life, and allowed the feelings I had been so good at ignoring, the opportunity to rise up and take over! 

One night, in my apartment, with the city chattering outside my window, and flashes of light from passing cars dancing on my ceiling, I hit a wall. I was alone and scared. Would I ever have the courage to live the way I wanted? Would I ever be enough? How can I be so happy with my girlfriend, yet so incredibly sad that other people wouldn’t be happy with me? I thought to myself, being dead would be easier than being me. 

When the phone rang I didn’t even look to see who was calling because I had no intention of answering it… and yet, without thinking, I picked up my phone. 

It was my aunt Lisa. 

I always looked forward to seeing my aunt Lisa. When I moved to California at the age of nine, she was THE aunt who pulled me aside when I came home for the summer. She would ask me how it was going, she would ask about school and swimming (she was my first swim teacher when I was five) and as she talked, she looked at me, like I mattered. 

For a person who wanted nothing more than CONNECTION, that was everything.  

From the time I was ten, I had this need to make her proud, much more than I ever cared about impressing my own mother. I never wanted my aunt to question her involvement in my life. She was the reason I ever loved soccer, and from the time I was a freshman in high school until I was entering my twenties, soccer played a huge role in my life. Sadly, I was never able to play, because of my asthma but all my best friends were on the high school team and I attended every home game, and every away game that I could convince someone to drive me to. When I attended the 1999 Women’s World Cup game (USA winning with that massive PK from Brandi Chastain) the ball I got, as a souvenir, I gave it to her.  

When I picked up the phone that night and it was her on the other end, I was happy to hear from her. I hadn’t heard from anyone in my family for awhile so it was definitely a welcomed call. She asked how I was doing and I lied – of course – I didn’t want her to think I was a charity case. “I’m good. How are you?” I honestly don’t recall the rest of the conversation but what I do remember is this:  

“The reason I’m calling is because I was wondering if you were going to make it to (insert family function here)?” I told her I wasn’t sure, but left out the part about, “because I might be dead.” And then she said, “well, I’ll set a place at the table for you in case you can make it. We would love to see you.” I hung up the phone and wept.

And there it was… CONNECTION.

Do you know that most people who are standing on the brink of suicide (either physically or mentally) are really looking for one thing: connection. Someone that will sit with them in their feelings, who will tell them it’s okay, and who will let them know they matter. They don’t want to die; they want a part of themselves to die, they want the pain to die, and so often when a person is in pain, who they really are is forgotten.

I was so scared of coming out, or letting people know who I was, that I pushed everyone away. Even as I craved connection, I purposely avoided it, because I was scared of being judged. My aunt’s phone call felt like an outstretched hand, telling me it was going to be okay. And it was…I eventually came out to everyone and everyone accepted me. I am now married to a woman and we have two kids together… and my entire family came to my wedding!

The greatest thing is, now, when my aunt Lisa sees MY kids, she pulls them aside and talks to them the same way she talked to me. She asks them questions, bending down to be on their level and listens to what they have to say, like they matter. When I see her talking to them, I hate to think what would have happened if she hadn’t called that night.