365 Days Alcohol-Free Started 2 Days Ago

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Today is the last day I will be drinking alcohol for a year. Unless I fail miserably at my self-imposed challenge. I haven’t been that loud about this. I don’t need too many people doubting me or suddenly confessing that they think I should have done this a long time ago.

I declare the next 12 months a year of healing.

A year of mental health care. A year to cleanse my body and get healthier. Things I will NOT being doing:

Dieting * Yoga * Meditation * Nature Communions Hippie Style * Saying “fudge” instead of “fuck” * Finding Jesus * Getting Fitted for a Trump-style Toupee * Going Paleo * Taking up Macrame * Wait, maybe I want to take up macrame, I take that back!

Things I most certainly WILL be doing:

Becoming the Mocktail Queen * Learning to Make New Food Dishes * Journaling * Writing * Swearing * Screaming * Watching Tons of Comfort TV * Continuing to Work on Becoming Miss Marple * Wearing Make-Up Again * Selling Herbal Remedies * Re-Discovering the Art of Self Care

***

Whoops. I meant to finish this as my last day of drinking post but my last day of drinking slipped by quietly and now I have 365 days to get through without booze. I think I must take it easy today. Super easy.

***

Oh for crying out loud! Another day and this same post languishes. Tuppence the fluffy tiny foster kitten has required much energy from me as she has a terrible case of the runs and requires several cleanings a day. Also – FOOD PRESERVING IN FULL SWING! In a few minutes I will be going with Philip to forage for elderberries and later I might have a bunch of pickling cucumbers to pickle. Day one of my year of not drinking has already slinked by. If I’m being honest (and why wouldn’t I be?), the first day wasn’t hard. It was just a mild irritant in my head knowing that normally I’d be drinking and drinking is my routine and I don’t like my routines being upended. Other than that, I think my body was really happy to not have beer. It will probably be like this most days with the irritation ranging in sharpness from mild to angry-red on Fridays. Maybe. Or maybe not.

All the other times I didn’t drink there wasn’t really a physical craving component, just a little outrage that I was denying myself one of my favorite things. If any of you have a hard time relating to not drinking alcohol when it’s one of your favorite things in the world, put in your mind’s eye your very favorite comestible. Right now. Is it there? Pizza? Cheese? Bread? Pasta? Chocolate? Cake? Now imagine that a doctor told you it was very bad for you and you need to not eat it again for at least a year. Take yourself to that place where you can’t have it for a really long time, maybe forever.

If you don’t feel some kind of irritation or full blown panic, I don’t think you’ve imagined going without your favorite thing. So for those of you who don’t care that much about food, usually it means that sex is your favorite thing and you crave the feeling it gives you. Am I right? Go there. Doc says “Hey, you have a really unhealthy relationship with sex. For most people it’s a healthy part of life but NOT FOR YOU. You need to give up sex for at least a year, maybe forever.”

ARE YOU WITH ME NOW?

I thought so. Now you can feel my pain.

***

Are you kidding me, me?! Three days and you still haven’t posted this? Ridiculous. I’m posting it right now, as is.

A Family Grimoire: Practical Magic

Fennel in bloom

A few weeks ago I tweeted that I wish I had a family Grimoire because witches seem to have all the fun. A twitter acquaintance that I’d never gotten to know responded by telling me she was actually working on one for her family. It didn’t actually occur to me that I could WRITE ONE. We got to talking and discovered between us the kind of kinship that reminds me why I keep myself open to knowing new people.

The day after tomorrow I have to face my year of sobriety head-on so that I can reclaim aspects of my self-hood and health I know I need if I’m going to live a long life. It’s not important what happens after a year. The thing is to get through the year. Just one of them. Then, re-evaluate what I need at that point. It’s just one of those things I know I need and feels impossible to achieve.

My dear friend Nicole Montesano, a journalist I met while living in McMinnville, has given me such courage and buoying – just by knowing me so well she was able to pinpoint my strengths and remind me how much I love a challenge. I am so fortunate, so fortunate in the people who hold me up when I need extra spirit scaffolding.

Earlier today I came across a freshly hit cat in the road. Bleeding, crying, left to suffer by whomever hit her. A beautiful ginger with some white on her belly and feet. Blood ran out of her nose and I don’t know from where else, but there was a lot of it. I pulled over at the same time a truck pulled over. An old lady got out and scooped the cat up in her arms. I don’t think she was the person who hit the cat, but it’s possible she was. What I know is that the old lady had long white hair pulled back in a pony tail, she didn’t care about blood getting all over her. She was as distressed as I was. I asked if I could do anything to help. She said there was a vet close by and pointed across Santa Rosa Avenue vaguely. I reached out to the ginger cat and barely touched her fur, afraid because part of me knew she had to be in so much pain and how many bones were broken and how many organs rupturing? She was crying out in the most awful awful way that crushed my heart and tore at my bones. The old lady set her in her front seat and took off. I got back on my scooter, shaking, and bit back the awful feeling of shared pain, the kind when you can feel it from another being as though it was your own.

I’m not going to get her cries of pain out of my head and heart for a long time. I find solace knowing that she was rushed to a vet and if her injuries were as bad as they looked I’m sure she was euthanized as painlessly as possible. I’ve seen euthanization of pets and I can say it’s very peaceful. If her injuries weren’t as bad as they looked I’m sure she was given pain relievers. She’s either dead or recovering, but she isn’t still in the middle of the street getting run over or swerved around by irritated drivers. She’s as safe as she can be now.

The experience has shaken me up. It’s not that I haven’t seen this before. I found my beloved Snoozie (Suzy) dead by the curb on the opposite side of the street from my house. Philip hit a beautiful black cat one night and he searched the bushes to find where it ran off and we canvassed the apartment building near which she’d laid down. We discovered that she was a cat abandoned by some renters who moved. We took her home in a towel and with a lot of tears and love we buried her with honor.

Anyone who knows me well already knows the shocking truth that I think the least valuable animals on the planet are humans. We are an energy and health-sucking virus. Other animals play by the rules of nature and haven’t found a way to cheat her. Many humans think this is what makes us superior, I think this ability to cheat and sicken mother nature is what makes us a deadly virus on the planet. I’m not rooting for us. That bother you? LEAVE ME.

I have shared my story in order to heal through group talk. I have set my crushed heart before my two newest 4 week old feral motherless foster kittens and found healing with their lust for life and the first gifts of trust from the most scared one, named Tonic. I sought healing at my stove by making a big batch of black bean and corn soup.

And I have beer tonight.

After all that I thought about what I’m going to do with myself for a year to get through nights like this. I need a fairytale. Not a Disneyland version. I need a myth, a mist, a story to get lost in. My fiction writing, yes! But more than that, for the times when I need something simultaneously more gritty and more fanciful. What is a family archive, if not built on a thousand points of wishful thinking versus visceral memory? We all make up the family myths that suit us best. We all indulge in wishful thinking and a healthy dose of fantasy with our very real family histories. Why not have fun with them?

A Grimoire is a family book of spells and lore. My spirit twin showed me that a Grimoire doesn’t have to be literal spells but recipes for living, for food, for spiritual fulfillment, for FUN. It’s basically a “How To” catered specifically to a particular family. How to get rid of demons, yes. How to please your family with a pie, yes. How to heal knee scrapes with a secret family salve, yes. The potions for a life well-lived are different for everyone. No two family Grimoires are the same just as no two family’s blood lines are identical. No two family’s cultural experiences are the same.

So, to keep my mind bent in a healthy direction, I’m thinking of how I might organize such an enormous undertaking. I’m considering what family recipes to canonize, which in itself is an enormous laugh because if there’s one tenet this family “prays” to it’s “change tradition and make it fresh in your own eyes”.

There’s no recipe in my family that’s been handed down through all the generations of time. We come from poor people who apparently didn’t set much store by handing down recipes predicated on desperation. On my side we come from people who have moved ever Westerly and remained poor and uneducated until the generation before last. I’m pretty sure it’s not that different on Philip’s side.

I’m imagining rustling up that precious index card my mom wrote her recipe of tamale pie on. I know I’ll never make it her way exactly because she leaned heavily on green bell peppers in my youth which have never agreed with me. So I’m thinking about what treatment I’ll give that. If I can find her original index card (which I definitely had at some point) then I need to include it in its original form. But I’m thinking I’ll follow it up with my own newer modified version. It would be in keeping with the spirit of our family. Everything old is reinvented to meet new needs.

I’ve got sepia photographs in my head.

I hope this task I’ve set myself is enough to see me through. I hope this project is big enough. I hope I can make something worthy of being lost in the mists of time and under the floorboards.

At least I’d like to find my sense of fun again, like ribbons of quartz skirting through dark rock mountain slides.  I want to find the kind of fancifulness that produces such oddities as “thousand year old eggs” which clearly aren’t more than 100 hundred years old no matter how creepy they appear.

I dread how much harder it might be for me to sleep. Already I can’t breathe on my own skin and it seems that I can feel my breath on my skin no matter what the hell I do to cover my skin with oppressive blankets or direct my breathing away from my body. I swear all I have to do is imagine the feel of breathing on my skin and I FEEL IT. At the best of times I’m a poor sleeper, but without alcohol I’m usually an abysmal sleeper.

No matter.

It’s time for bed.

One more day.

Kiss your loved ones, tuck into the night.

xoxo

 

Babushka Nation

happy babushka

Five years ago, wearing my favorite fashion accessory of all time – the Babushka. You’ve all seen this pic a thousand times but sometimes the only picture that will do for a post is an old favorite one.

I’ve always been a rustic old peasant lady at heart. I love simple food best. I need a strong connection to dirt* to feel whole. I love beets. I mean, I LOVE BEETS AND EVERY TIME PEOPLE MAKE SNARKY REFERENCES TO RUSSIANS SMELLING OF BEETS I EXPERIENCE THE FAMILIAR PANG I ALWAYS DO THAT I’M NOT AT ALL RUSSIAN AND ALSO THAT I DON’T EVER SMELL OF BEETS EVEN WHEN I’M ELBOW-DEEP PICKLING THEM.

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My soul smells of beets, wet dirt, black wool, and rope soles.

Today it was almost 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I was covered shoulder to shoe in mostly black. Was I uncomfortable? Hell yes. But I could have been naked and I’d have been just as uncomfortable. My pants are long and drapey with an attached over-skirt. It has a Muslim or Indian feel to it. But mostly I felt like an old Greek woman today. An old Greek woman missing her babushka. A babushka is a brilliant accessory. It protects you from religious outrage against bare heads, against scalp sunburn, against the dreaded bad hair day, and it achieves membership in a non-exclusive club of super-gritty street smart women (and perhaps a few men?) who know how to pickle EVERYTHING and throw darts and get a mule to co-operate and other things way more important than world domination or gun ownership.

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Why fight it when you’re finally old enough to pull off the person you’ve always been? I’m fat, middle aged, and I haunt the local farm. I wear mostly black and yet I’ve become too lazy to apply makeup and arrange a babushka over my head? I’ve been an old lady out of context for my whole life UNTIL NOW.

stupid contrast

Many years now I’ve been most at home haunting my local farms. Breathing in the dust of hard dry tractor paths, collecting yellow tomato dust on my dry dirty fingers, saying ridiculous things only geeks or old ladies would say while my vegetables are being weighed. Uncomfortable with my Carson McCullers soul living in a Stephenie Meyer world, finding the farmer’s skull scars oddly attractive, crushing slightly on the farmer’s daughter slowly morphing into the farmer’s son.

Nowhere else am I more myself than in the middle of a mile long row of farm tomatoes. Nowhere else am I more myself than when I’m aproned, grimy with vegetable juice, hair covered in a scarf, and singing working class ballads into the hot summer breeze.

That’s a lie. The other time and place I’m most myself is during torrential downpours, out in the open, streaming with mountain water, laughing like a fucking loon and dancing like someone who knows hollow shadows. I AM rain. I AM snow. I AM bird.

I’ve been wearing a babushka since I was a teen. I’ve let it slide lately. Let it fall by the wayside. My national attire is a babushka, a fitted jacket, an ankle length voluminous skirt, Ghillie brogues, and red lipstick. Give me my office, I can rip your soul from your skin if you can’t give me room to breathe.

Just kidding. I don’t have power over you.

Much.

Knowing what you’re made of gives you power over the outcomes of your actions.

I’m not your cheerleader, I’m your grandmother. I tame kittens, make the best spinach pie, can stop your knee from bleeding faster than the ER, and I’ll shed my ghosts so they’ll only haunt you when you most need them. I come with a stick of butter in my spoon and olive oil in my pot.

 

*I’m sorry Dennis, it’s more satisfying sometimes to call it dirt than “soil”. I cringe in your honor every time I say it.

Self Care: Part 2

Tiger versus Art

*Continuted from Self Care: Part 1*

One thing standing in my way is alcohol. Going sober last year for 3 months and earlier this year for 5 weeks has shown me that I’m fine when I don’t drink but that when I allow myself to drink I feel that the only way I can feel calm and mellow is when I drink many drinks. I revert so fast to many drinks because it’s so damn effective at soothing my frayed nerves and convincing me that everything will be fine. What I’ve lost is the ability to drink one or two drinks and then move on to something else like tea. I used to be able to do that. But it’s become all or nothing. It’s a favorite mode of being for me, the all-or-nothing way of life. It’s dangerous and unhealthy.

If it’s going to be all or nothing with alcohol then I’ve come to the point where it needs to be nothing for a long enough period of time that I can re-establish my dependence on other ways of self-soothing. It’s not working for me the way it used to. I now have a lot of anxiety about the fact that the only way I seem to be able to soothe my anxiety is to drink a lot of alcohol every day. I also have a lot of anxiety and self loathing about being so weak and also that this mode of self soothing is keeping my body so fat. The fat weighs on my joints which means I can’t exercise without being in pain or injuring myself. This is a vicious cycle. Exercise is another way to work out some anxiety but it has become a source of pain and anxiety in itself.

I’ve talked so much over the years on this blog that all of this feels like old news.

The real news is that I’m going to stop drinking for a year. From August 1st 2015 to July 31st 2016. It feels impossible but it also feels necessary. I don’t actually know how to socialize with people without alcohol in the evening at gatherings where merriness and fun is meant to be had. The thought of trying to do this while others drink and I don’t makes my brain flicker into an abysmal darkness. So I may have to simply not gather with other humans outside of my family and my home in the whole time.

Though that would be a disservice to my mission which is: to learn to live life without alcohol as the prophylactic between me and other humans and me and my anxiety. What I intend to do is retrain myself. To hitch myself to the earlier me, the one who knew how to socialize and BE without alcohol. The one who drank a lot of coffee and tea. So perhaps I won’t socialize much for the first few months. But at some point I have to be able to navigate my whole life without alcohol being a factor. I have to rebuild my whole life foundation so that alcohol gets put back in its place as something that is meant to be enjoyed and not used as a floating island of comfort.

Who knows what will happen after that. I think I’m going to need to get some fresh therapy which means having to audition a new psychiatrist through Kaiser because the last time I tried to tackle this my psychiatrist seriously let me the fuck down. Then I went to a substance use counselor and SHE pissed me the fuck off with her inability to actually LISTEN to me, her assumption that she could know me better than I know myself after knowing me for less than 15 minutes. So navigating healthcare to find a good support stresses me out but I think it’s important.

I may check out going to group meetings but only if I can find one that is completely non-religious or spiritual based. Not sure that exists. No steps either because I still don’t believe the appropriate word for my problem is straight-up alcoholism. There are different schools of thought on this these days and I hold out to explore what my own deal is. Is it repairable? Can I put it in its place?

One thing I DO know is that I can live without it. The problem is that I never want to.

So here I am. Again. With the beer thing. With the self care thing. With all the THINGS.

Growing up I drank a lot of herbal tea. And then a lot of herbal and black tea as a teen. I want to find my way back to that as a comfort. Iced for when it’s hot and hot for when it’s cold. I think I’ll develop my own chai. And I plan to experiment a lot for possible good blends to include in my Sugar & Pith product line.

I also plan to write about self care as content for my business website because that’s what’s at the root of an natural remedies and teas and herbs – self care. But I’ll keep the more raw content for Better Than Bullets. You know, all the swearing and really creepy inside-head stuff I let out sometimes.

I have to work hard at my daily and weekly routines. Finding what works best to keep my interests balanced. Most of my interests ARE self care. But the most important of them all is writing. I can’t let that slide.  Not the brain purges (here) and not the fiction writing. I need them. They keep brain clutter and chaos from derailing me completely. It’s my internal housecleaning.

A year of purposeful healing and self care. I can do this.

The Wrong Kind of Luminescence

Oakland

If I could live inside music I think I might be okay for always. I wish I could sleep in music, breathe in music, and dream in music. Why must I always sink in the cacophony of human voices instead? Hearing the scratching of souls against blank dark windows for someone to open them when no one answers. I hear the caterwauling of pain all the way through the milky way. Why can’t I snuff out the voices full of pain across the world and get lost in the joy of music?  Maybe the pain of it too, but in music human pain is more bearable because it’s being flung outward across plateaus where it careens into lush mountains or across molten plains of wheat and is sheathed in otherworldly light, baptized into something more holy and healing.

I wasn’t meant to live like this, in fragile skin, with breakable bones, and friable teeth. I was meant to be strong medicine, like retrograde Venus.

This is the wrong kind of luminescence. It’s kindred to the death-mask. The last thoughts and prayers that paralyze the dead under cover of arching oak trees.

What will I have left to say when my bullets are drawn? What will I have left to say when the spirits are dry and the party is over? What will I have left to say now that Mattis is dead and buried and his shadow isn’t even pressing into my nightmares with the calm cool gloves of the gentleman’s touch? What will I have left to say when all the smoke has drifted to the heavens and found I haven’t got a place higher than the short English daisies meeting the sea? What will I have left to say when the last of us is slit open in the bathtub of God’s hot water?

Tonight I can’t even put a dying fly out of its misery. And it hurts that its reached its end in my office. Slowly, covering the surfaces of my desk and skin with mirthless determination. It rests just left of my computer screen, gathering the strength to traverse just a little more wood until it can’t move through the light. So we stare at each other and we understand how alike we are in relation to our vulnerability. I’m careful not to set my beer bottle on its exoskeleton. Its not so careful it doesn’t climb my beer bottle.

I miss when I was more in my body, as much as I fear it. I liked the thrust of a sword to express my determination to keep taking up space. I liked the bees crowding the ivy in the light of the lowering sun. I liked when my foil flashed through semi-dark to cut down the last light. I liked when sleep was an exercise in hope instead of inevitability. I liked when I could meet the dawn with the vigor of a resuscitated hero. Now I slink behind my own shadow like there isn’t a better bigger shadow I can  twist into my excuse for everything.

Rise, motherfuckers, like you’re the breath of Christ and God is real. Rise, motherfuckers, like you’re what God hoped for all along.

I may have buried my voice a little so that I wouldn’t be discovered in time to hear the responses I don’t want to acknowledge. I want the fierce writing and self care habits of my past but with the wisdom of my present. I want for all those lessons to have not been in vain. I want for all of that blood-letting to have been constructive, or at least to have meant something. Anything.

Under the Bakelite weight of this phone I can hear the past recalling itself to order, planning its comeback in tight satin pants and spangles.

This slow poison is how I communicate with the devil of my disorder. You can fuck yourself.Whatever voice is shouting loudest in my head right now is the one I pray to. Fuck loyalty. It’s about who can out-maneuver me in my own head, every single time. I’m crippled by my own fear. I was lost before I hit double digits. Lost in the atmosphere of my own bile and quickened heartbeat. The nightmares were brutal and absolute. They swallowed everything before I knew what everything was. There are memories that require quashing. Memories that can never be unburied without complete annihilation of self. And yet, there they are. Like concrete statues of fact shimmering in the corners of recollection like ghosts.

 

Self Care: Part 1

move along

I haven’t been writing much at all lately. I don’t like the way it makes me feel. I don’t like how disordered my mind feels when I loosen my discipline with writing. I have let it slide because there are only 24 hours in a day and I needed to work on setting up my business. Now my labels are done, I have added a few new products to my apothecary line and have started working on my website. I’ve also been cooking more and doing some preserving. My garden is in disrepair because I need to do some major soil amendments and then mulch and actually get my drip line set up because keeping a garden thriving during drought conditions and with giant privet trees dumping an inch of leaves and pollen on it every year is brutal. Plus, there’s only 24 hours in a day and my back is pretty weak.

The lack of time is a fact, not an excuse. There are so many things I always want to be doing. I feel lousy when I miss out on food preserving opportunities. I feel lousy when I don’t write. I feel lousy when my garden flounders. I also really need some new clothes and can’t afford to go buy all new clothes even if I could find ones that fit me okay. So I need to sew. Then there’s the every day things. Hanging with my family. Giving them some energy. Making doctor’s appointments for Max. We need eye exams. He needs to have his teeth cleaned. On and on and on and on.

On top of all that is my need for hours and hours of mind numbing so that I can handle my anxiety and depression and other mental and emotional discomforts. Plus the large quantities of alcohol I drink to keep myself calm and mellow.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about self care. About what constitutes self care and how much of it I’m actually doing. About what undermines it. I’ve been thinking a lot about a period of time when I was first learning about it when I was 19 years old until I was 20 and living in my own apartment all by myself. I didn’t drink much alcohol (being under age) and I stopped smoking. I began to learn to cook and bake bread and that was the first time I ever got interested in herbology on my own. And I wrote a lot. I wrote a lot of nonsense  bullshit crap that’s awful to read now, but I wrote all the time when I wasn’t reading. OR talking to the cockroaches. Or leaving the cockroaches notes to read while I was at work. I drank a lot of coffee. Too much coffee if I’m being honest.

One of the things I developed during that time that I’d never done before on my own was to be on a weekly apartment cleaning schedule. Naturally I always had a schedule for that when I lived with both my parents. But before I was 19 I took no pride in my personal space. I took no care with its upkeep. I was, basically, a slob. But I missed the order of routine. So for the first time in my life I started cleaning once a week, every week. It became a pleasurable routine. I got dressed up to do it. I always put on lipstick and played jaunty housecleaning music like Carmen Miranda or Fats Waller. Then I’d go do my weekly shopping. Also a newly discovered pleasure. Grocery shopping. Though on a tight budget it was the first time I even truly had a budget for groceries like a grown up. I began planning meals for leftovers because I couldn’t afford to eat out at work every day. I loved (and still do) grocery shopping. That was the first time in my life that I started to understand what making a life is all about. Making rhythms and finding ways to take care of myself. Some of those things seem really basic, I know. But these activities are the foundation of self care.

You can meditate, get great exercise, see a therapist, take psychiatric medications, take St. John’s Wort, do great philanthropic works, be a mentor – but if you aren’t caring for your living space, however modest or meager it is, your mental, emotional, and spiritual foundation is not strong enough to support you during the worst of times. Think of depressive episodes as earthquakes and your living space and your daily routines are the foundation of your house. If you don’t reinforce your foundation, if it’s full of cracks then it can’t weather even mild earthquakes (let alone big ones) and your whole house can topple down around you.

I’ll tell you why it’s important to keep your life foundation strong through routines of self care:  the first thing to suffer (for most of us) during a depressive (or other mentally disruptive episode) is our daily routines like cleaning. How can you tell a disorderly mind and spirit? It’s reflected, often, in the environment of the body. You let the laundry slide. You start getting irregular about cleaning. Your exercise routines go by the wayside. And it isn’t our fault. But when these things start to slide our environment can start exacerbating our mental disorderliness. The stronger your foundation of self care routines are, the longer it takes for them to deteriorate and the longer it takes for our environments to become as chaotic and dark as our anxiety or manic swing or depression. Some of us may be lucky and clean our houses even more during these times but in my experience this is not often the case. Few of us are lucky enough to eat better during mental episodes than when we’re at our most balanced.

The last ten years have been a tremendous challenge to me and I’ve struggled this whole time to regain my footing, to re-establish my daily routines of self care, to strengthen a crumbling foundation beneath my feet. My health has suffered. I’ve undermined myself in so many ways. I find myself middle aged and at a crossroads. I’ve actually been at this same crossroads for a couple of years. Moving back to Santa Rosa saved my life. I’ve become healthier mentally and have slowly been reclaiming my space and cleaning more regularly. But I’m so far from having the kind of strong foundation I need to support myself during bouts of bad anxiety and depression.

*Continued on Self Care: Part 2*

 

My Wild Flowers

Calistoga Road

If ever a wild flower makes me think of you, it’s because you bloom in the most adverse conditions, showering light and color where a carpet of grief has smothered me. It’s because no matter what careless community service butcher has hacked you to the ground you rise again, triumphant, where your pieces were left to rot. You rise, predictably, like an indomitable spirit.  Your seeds germinate in hostile soil after being frozen solid on the surface of winter soil.

If ever a wild flower makes me think of you, it’s because we dress this poor soil together in bright robes and majestic umbels until it shines with dignity, with laughter, and growls with a hunger to reach the moon. It’s because your gift isn’t the greatest pride but the greatest humility through which the most honest love illuminates the darkest paths. It’s because your complex mind is housed in a clean spirit with roots that gather nutrients from nothing.

If ever a wild flower makes me think of you, it’s because there is no flower more valiant, more strong, more beautiful, or more noble than the flower that opens when nothing else is willing, where no other signs of life prosper. It’s because you are luminous and I know how fortunate I am to collide with you in this dusty gutter of weeds.

The Threads Hang down

beligerant smoke sepia 2

Let the threads unravel all the way to Oz

let them knot and choke and cut veins

on their way back to the original spool

like taught ghosts with razor wings and spurs

digging into your dreams like barking dogs

teeth snarling and punctuating the air with grist

be the chaff that blows into invisible dust

be the blood that dries brown on grim sunlit walls

 

Let the threads unravel in damp tangles

let them snake into your sour heart like sugar cubes

melting into a hostile room full of small savage fires

like crystals the dead wear in blazing caskets

hope misshapen with eyes full of soot and ash

be the heart that walks doubt down the plank

be the heart that cuts all the tangled knots free

 

Let the threads hang down, used and frayed

the way you felt when you were turned inside out

by your first crush of bone and muscle out on the field

where you fell hard into the turf and time stopped

with breathless love never whispered through the heat

be the one girl who gets up and walks away with dignity

be the one who knows the prize waits out of frame

 

Let the threads weave voice into uneven weft

without hyperbole of fiber or selvedge edge building up

believe the pattern your nightmares have drawn

like tight hot embers burning through every layer

like your heart is made of a spider’s web

be weightless and open in your search for truth

be everclear in your spirit and clean water in your heart

Fuck That Fucking Shit To Fucking Hell

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I keep writing posts and then abandoning them because I didn’t have the energy to tackle the subjects that are eating up all my mind-space.

I’ve been working really hard on packaging and writing up product descriptions and photographing products for Sugar & Pith. I’ve done no fiction writing in a month now. No blog writing in probably just as long. I’ve been focused solely on getting Sugar & Pith up and running. Just as I got all my newly photographed products listed in the Etsy shop I started doing my reading on FDA and USDA regulations on selling herbal products. I will now have to more carefully name and word all my products and product descriptions. Etsy (must look into this more to be sure) apparently doesn’t allow shops to describe any medicinal properties of herbs. Several shops I saw were sending customers to links where they could read about what the products they’re selling are actually FOR claiming that Etsy won’t let them include such descriptions in their listings any more.

I actually agree with all industries having regulations because when things like Energy companies are de-regulated all kinds of abuses happen at the cost to the consumers. When food is unregulated all kinds of important information is withheld from consumers. Reasonable regulation is vital to keeping companies responsible and accountable to consumers.

But the FDA has made it almost impossible for small companies to sell herbal products effectively. They can’t keep us from selling them, by some miracle or other that right has been safeguarded, but they cripple a person’s ability to explain to potential customers what a product is meant to DO.

I’m also fostering an adorable kitten named Petra who’s scampering around at my feet getting into all kinds of mischief as I write.

I’ve got so much dark shit in my head these days what with the the recent mass shooting of black people and the burning of black churches and most of my countrymen still thinking we’re the best nation in the world while people like Donald Trump mouth off heinous racist shit against Mexicans and we still have an off-shore torture prison where we flex our muscles and practice torture on people we claim “might” be our enemies, but no one really actually cares that much. Fuck that fucking shit to fucking hell.

I don’t believe that humans are basically good and unlike some friends and family I don’t think that the bigoted, hateful, ugly voices out there are a minority.

There’s nothing Americans like better than to masturbate to recitals of the Bill of Rights and the Amendments . Those rights Americans are constantly citing as the thing that makes our country so great and so different from everyone else. The rights that ALL Americans enjoy equally. Unless you have been a person of color in this country for the last few hundred years and even though the Civil Rights movement rectified this to some degree (a mere 50 some odd years ago), they are still having their rights violated constantly in insidious ways that white people are very comfortable believing are mere isolated incidences. We only just forced the bigots of this nation to allow same-sex marriage but it’s still legal in many states to fire someone for being gay. Fuck that fucking shit to fucking hell.

These precious rights we supposedly all have and have been so proud of having since our founding fathers gave them to us really haven’t applied to many people who aren’t white men for most of our history. These “inalienable rights” have been reluctantly parsed out to non-whites and non-males only at gunpoint and under major duress.

Our dedication to individual rights over human safety (witness: the second amendment) is breathtaking. I don’t think any person’s individual rights are more important than the public having a reasonable expectation of safety from mass shootings, shootings, and also all that pesky rape we spend so much time debating, denying, and under-prosecuting because women are basically all just whores and are asking for it. Americans love to say that only responsible people have guns. Oh, except for the mentally ill criminals (because all criminals are mentally ill, don’t you know?) who would have them anyway regardless of our laws*. We have become so mired in our obsession with individual rights and the money that lobbyists throw around to make sure we stay obsessed with that that we’d rather not make gun ownership illegal or highly restricted even if it kills many thousands of people every year to protect the rights of Americans to carry whatever guns they like. Fuck that fucking shit to fucking hell.

Our right to speech is a famous subject for wanking off to. That’s all well and good unless you say something that the government can classify as “a national threat” in which case they can send you to prison with very few rights because we were happy to let rights erode when we think it’ll catch us some more brown Muslim people. So people who uncover and use their freedom of speech to reveal Government war crimes (Chelsea Manning) go to jail. And people who speak up to tell us what illegal infringements the Government is enacting on the general populace have to leave the country to escape being tried as a traitor (Edward Snowdon). These are people who were looking out for us  and dared to speak out against the government’s wrong doing. So much for free speech. The only entity people have ever needed their freedom of speech protected from is the government (or monarchy) under which they live their lives. We are free to say anything we want here in the US unless the government DOESN’T FUCKING LIKE IT IN WHICH CASE THEY CAN TRY YOU FOR TREASON, MOTHERFUCKERS. So yeah, go ahead and say how much you hate the president all you want. People in other countries can be jailed for that. Yay! Wank off Americans, wank freely! Just don’t say anything that really matters against our government because then your freedoms don’t mean shit. Fuck that fucking shit to fucking hell.

So while you can get a gun with almost no limitations and you can carry it openly in many states, and you can freely say all the nasty bigoted things you want to say against other citizens and even the President of the United States, I can’t tell potential customers of my herbal products how my herbal products might benefit them. No, seriously, my freedom to communicate the actions of medicinal herbs as they’ve been observed for thousands of years is prohibited unless I make it explicitly clear that it probably isn’t true since the FDA hasn’t yet confirmed any of it. Because I’m selling products that the government doesn’t approve of, my freedom of speech is being seriously impaired. So I can go around saying I think Obama is a shithead (I DON’T BECAUSE I REALLY LIKE HIM) but in most ways that freedom of speech truly affects my life I’m not actually that free to say what I want. Fuck that fucking shit to fucking hell.

A friend of mine was arguing that you can’t make people be unracist with laws. The example was the Confederate flag. As far as he was concerned, making the Confederate flag illegal would just make more fans of it OR racists would just find another symbol. While I agree that they might find another symbol for it. His idea is that you educate people and you fix the situation that creates the racism in the first place (often poverty causes or exacerbates racism and violence around racism). While I agree that those are things that need to be addressed. We are at a standstill because the people in this nation that control pretty much everything (laws and all) are all white rich people. My belief in the inherent badness of human beings is substantiated by the fact that nearly all laws protecting the rights of minorities have had to become law because people couldn’t be counted on to “do the right thing” or “treat people with respect” or “share equal rights” or “not set crosses on fire on black Americans’ lawns” or to “not execute black people with legally acquired guns”. Men never gave women equal rights willingly. WE FUCKING FORCED THE SHIT OUT OF THIS COUNTRY TO LET US VOTE AND WE STILL DON’T GET EQUAL PAY FOR EQUAL WORK. Maybe laws don’t fix everything but without them we’d still have slavery, women wouldn’t vote, bi-racial couples could literally be sent to jail for sleeping with each other, parents could still use their kids for punching bags legally, and employers could legally refuse to hire people based on their race. FUCK THAT FUCKING SHIT TO FUCKING HELL.

Do white people find other ways and legal reasons to not hire black people? HELL YES. Do men still find many legal ways of putting women in their place and subjugating them and paying them less? HELL YES. Having laws to protect rights or the freedoms of minority groups doesn’t mean they won’t be discriminated against but the laws are important because they give us legal recourse to set things right, they send the message that at least officially our country is required to honor all its citizens from certain dangers and discriminations. Will evil still exist if you make it against the law? Sure. Yes. Always.

Most humans will only do the right thing if it suits them or profits them to do so.

Making laws that make evil have to work harder are important because they give recourse to those upon whom it has unleashed its damage to punish and prosecute that evil. This is vitally important to keeping law and order in a nation and to creating and maintaining a fair and healthy society.

These are my thoughts this week. And last week. I’m sick of people saying that the U.S. is great “compared to other countries”. That we did genocide “less heinously than other colonialists” or that “yeah, this country was founded on genocide and slavery, but so is pretty much every country in the world.” And that makes us great….HOW?!

Do you all not see what’s wrong with that attitude? It means “Sure, we might have done terrible awful nasty inhumane evil things to become the country we are, but it’s okay because that’s how all countries do it”

Okay. So I’m a great human being because when compared to way worse human beings I’m not as bad? And it’s okay that I’ve hurt the people I’ve hurt along the way to achieving the things I have and becoming who I am because that’s just what humans do?

I don’t give myself such excuses and neither should you and none of us should be extending such stupid excuses for our country either. When I’ve hurt people I examine my behavior and I honestly ask myself what the fuck is wrong with me and I apologize to the people I’ve hurt and I work at becoming and behaving better and more thoughtfully. At no point do I ever think that it’s “okay” that I hurt someone because all people hurt other people at some point. That may be true, but it doesn’t make it okay. Those aren’t words that need saying. We can move on with our lives after we’ve learned lessons and improved ourselves but at no point do any of need to congratulate ourselves for not being worse than we are or that the terrible things we’ve done are “okay” because everyone else does them too. Fuck that fucking shit to goddamn fucking hell.

I’m not perfect, and I’m going to make mistakes. That’s a fact of life. I’m going to keep learning and hopefully keep growing and keep becoming a better human being. But when I fuck up and I hurt someone or I do something mean or stupid you will never hear me say “That’s just the collateral damage of being human” or “at least when I hurt people I hurt them in a less hurtful way than other people hurt them”.

I will say “I’m sorry” and “I can do better than that” and then I will examine the ways I can do better AND THEN I DO BETTER because I’m not caught up in personal pride. Pride has no place in learning and improving and being a better human being today than you were yesterday. Humility is what allows us to see our faults and correct them. Humility is what allows us to stop and feel for other humans, to see from their perspective, to understand how our actions affect them.

I said this in an earlier post. I’m saying it again. More and more I find pride in people distressing and disgusting.

So this is why I keep not writing. I’m angry at everyone. I’m tired of having people’s legal rights trump people’s safety and well being. I’m angry that pretty much everyone I know is in love with saying how “complicated” all these issues are which is code for “we don’t agree with each other and since people can’t agree about stuff, stuff can’t be fixed and no one can be expected to change anything because someone is going to be uncomfortable with it.

YEAH, FUCKERS, I KNOW! A LOT OF MEN ARE STILL UPSET THAT WOMEN GOT THE VOTE AND “INFILTRATED”
POLITICS AND DON’T HAVE TO HAVE SEX WITH THEM IF WE DON’T WANT TO AND WOMEN ARE STILL BEING RAPED AND BEAT BECAUSE SO MANY MEN ARE GRIEVOUSLY UNHAPPY HAVING TO LET US HAVE EQUAL RIGHTS. SO MAYBE, FUCKERS, MAYBE WE SHOULD GIVE OUR HARD-WON EQUAL RIGHTS BACK BECAUSE IT MADE MEN UPSET? BECAUSE IT WAS UNCOMFORTABLE CHANGE?

FUCK THAT STUPID-ASS GODDAMN FUCKING SHIT TO GODDMAN FUCKING HELL, FUCKERS!

I’m too tired to edit this post. The first asshole to come along and correct my typos, grammar, or my disconnected ideas gets a gold-plated scrotum for a medal. I just let my thoughts come out. This was not an organized essay or dissertation. It was an exact (and therefore imperfect) first draft stream of consciousness post of my thoughts as they are today.

I admit that I feel a lot better for having let these thoughts OUT.

*This has been proved to be untrue in many other countries who have instigated (or have always had) very strict gun laws and have a correlating low number of gun-related deaths in their countries compared to ours.

Charleston AME Church Massacre

original thorn

I’ve got so many thoughts fighting for attention in my head right now, fighting to be expressed, to get the fuck OUT of my head, it’s a loud loud place in there today. And yesterday. And all week. I’ve been avoiding writing about any of it because it’s all such charged content. These are charged times.

I’m so deeply sad (and angry) about the murders of Cynthia Hurd, Susie Jackson, Ethel Lance, Rev. DePayne Middleton-Doctor, The Honorable Rev. Clementa Pinckney, Tywanza Sanders, Rev. Daniel Simmons Sr., Rev. Sharonda Singleton, and Myra Thompson.

There are all kinds of people out there saying “This is senseless” and “Only a mentally ill person could commit such a crime” and apparently Fox News was going on and on about this being a crime against Christianity even after the terrorist said he was doing it to start a race war, not a religious war. Those Fox News people need eject buttons on their studio seats that shoot them into space every time they blatantly try to twist the narratives to fit their ridiculous agenda.

Dylan Roof is a terrorist and needs to be tried as one. He purposely killed those people to inflict terror on all the black people in this country. As if they aren’t already burdened enough with fear for themselves, their children, and their whole community. Dylan Roof is not a kid, he’s a legal adult. Remember when everyone was all “Michael Brown is no kid, he’s 18 and an adult who knows better!” Well, Dylan Roof is older than Michael so people need to stop talking like he’s just a young buck on a murderous lark. He also premeditated this crime in a fully in tact mental state. This wasn’t a frenzy killing. This wasn’t provoked. This was cold blooded calculated terrorism against black people.

I’m so sick of people practically WILLING all criminals to be found to be mentally ill. The white ones, not the black ones because when it comes to black criminals no white people ever scramble to give them any kind of “excuse”. In the whole history of heinous crimes committed in the world, very few of them are actually committed because a person is mentally ill. Very few of them are committed by people with serious enough mental illness to have had a significant effect on their actions. The idea of “madness” is compelling to those who don’t suffer from mental illness. You can blame absolutely anything on mental illness, on “insanity”, on “madness”. Because to most people these words mean “people unable to control themselves whose brains are ticking time bombs that will suddenly, for no understandable reason, explode into violent action”.

These thoughts are beside the whole issue of what happened to those innocent people gunned down in the AME church. I bring them up because allowing news people, friends, family, or anyone to let out the “mental illness!” cry whenever a heinous crime is committed by white people does a tremendous disservice to the mentally ill community as much as to the victims of such heinous crimes.

IF you allow mental illness as an excuse for this shooting then you also have to allow mental illness as an explanation for the twin tower attacks, for the ISIS attacks on American citizens in the middle east.  But you won’t, will you?

A lot of my feelings and thoughts were summed up much more brilliantly by Jon Stewart on the Daily Show. I submit a link to the segment where he talks about this awful newest mass murder:

Charleston Church Shooting

The Confederate flag and the South. This is the other super loud thing in my head. I have quite a few (many, at this point) awesome Southern friends who are creative, open minded, progressive, full hearted, amazing people. I need to say that first because nothing I can say about the South can tarnish my awareness of how many good people live there and love it. I have to admit that it’s taken me years and meeting many amazing southerners to eradicate my prejudices against it. I wasn’t raised to hate the south, there’s no family dialog that’s been passed down denigrating the south. I’ve just always been scared of it. I’m scared of it because of all the fiery religion associated with it. I’m scared of it because of all the “traditional values” that include a lot of inherent bigotry against other religions, gay people, different people, and WOMEN. Also, the KKK. The overt racism. And the fact that the south represents to me the half of the nation that fought to keep slavery legal.

Before I say another word I want to note that I’m aware that racism is rampant over every inch of our country. It’s everywhere. The north may have officially fought on the right side of a humanitarian issue but I come from a long line of racists and some of them were northerners. Though those northerners didn’t arrive until after the civil war anyway, the point is, you can believe slavery is wrong and still be racist. I’ll go further than that, though, my own grandfather’s ideas about black people were no worse than any slave-holders’ ideas about them. I fought him over words I can never un-hear and every time I remember the heinous things he said in my hearing I think of every single black person in this country who has had to hear that awful corrosive evil shit their whole lives and it fills me with shame and horror. So when I say things about the south and the racism in the south, I never do so from a place of superiority or pride. I have no family history to be proud of. My southern relatives were super poor uneducated bigoted Irish people who have nothing to be proud of just because they didn’t own slaves.

But dudes. People. Fellow Americans, all. The Confederate flag. Until this week I didn’t know that in some states you can buy a license plate with the Confederate flag on it. But more horrifying to me than that was finding out that that flag flies on government grounds over a memorial for fallen Confederate veterans.

A southern friend of mine made a case for the Confederate flag having good connotations that aren’t racist, for it standing for southern heritage. This friend is absolutely NOT a racist person. Her family is bi-racial with three races in the mix and everything I know about her is good and open hearted and open minded. I listened to her case for that flag having meaning to southerners that isn’t racist. But every way I look at it I can’t accept that a flag created by a rebel army, that flew over their camps symbolizing their fight to keep slavery legal could ever symbolize anything but pro-slavery sentiments. Southerners may be teaching their children to associate that flag with positive aspects of their heritage but it still was made by a south that wanted to keep their slaves. That south lost the war. And it seems like the south has, ever since, struggled against that fact.

I know that there’s a lot to be celebrated in the south. But it’s time the south found a new symbol to celebrate its culture with.

But dudes, I also didn’t realize that the south has named roads after Confederate generals. If you know me at all you know I don’t believe there’s such a thing as war heroes. I don’t believe any war begets heroes. I’m not sorry the north fought to end slavery, I’m so fucking happy that slavery was abolished, even if racism never was. But I can’t celebrate war in any way. And the south could have voted to end slavery, they could have gotten on board with that and avoided war but they didn’t.

War is evil. Soldiers of war pillage, torture, rape, and kill. THAT’S WHAT THEY DO NO MATTER WHAT SIDE THEY’RE ON. North or South, East or West. Doesn’t matter.

My ignorance of the south is why I didn’t realize how much it openly celebrates its soldiers and generals and its heritage that was built on the blood of slaves and whose economy was driven by slave ownership. So it never occurred to me that black southerners would have to see the army that fought to keep them in shackles celebrated in their faces every day of their lives.

No matter how many southerners have been taught by their parents to see the Confederate flag as a benevolent symbol of their heritage, that flag will always represent pro-slavery to the rest of us and as long as that flag is allowed to fly on state or federal property it’s spitting in the faces of the people who are here because their ancestors were kidnapped, raped, and sold to white people. As long as the south holds onto that symbol they’re still fighting the civil war.

I feel like my eyes are just seeing the south for real for the first time. How the wounds of the civil war are still gaping open. It’s weird to have come so far from my early prejudices of the south only to end up face to face with the darkness there that I have always feared.

If the south wants to be celebrated for all the wonderful things it does and creates and IS, then it needs to ditch the civil war and the hero worship of people who were fighting to keep slavery legal and find a new symbol for a new south.

My heart is so heavy. Having said all that about the south I now return to the beginning where I said that this whole country is racist. This whole country’s history is as dark as it comes. People whose relatives first landed here on the Mayflower, who are so fucking proud of being the first people who came here to slaughter Native Americans and steal their land – WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU SO FUCKING PROUD OF?!  Those who came west slaughtered and stole MORE. Those who went south slaughtered and stole too. Before we all got ourselves slaves. Fucking hell.

My last thought is that pride is bad shit and I can’t get with it in any way. I can get with being proud when you accomplish something you’ve struggled to accomplish like finishing running a marathon or learning a new trade or standing up to a bully. But humans are too flawed, each and every one of us, to be fueled by any kind of big pride. National pride, state pride, racial pride, or familial pride. Fuck all that. We’ve collectively got nothing to be proud of as a species.

I’d like to see individuals take pride in small good things and ditch all the epic pride. Doesn’t God have stuff to say about not being too proud? I don’t know, I’m not religious but I feel like religious people all my life have been dishing out homilies about being wary of pride while they cherish huge pride in their faith, their family history, and country – not allowing anyone to ever tarnish their pride with suggestions of imperfection in anything they worship. Pride makes people blind and it makes them complacent. It also makes assholes out of otherwise good people.

As an atheist who wants to cultivate the best qualities I can in myself I think pride is dangerous and promotes myopothy of mind, spirit, and body.

What everyone in this country needs more of is humility.