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.

Bath Bomb Graveyard

ghost salt cracking

My house is a graveyard of bath bomb suicides.

After at least 5 attempts at making bath bombs my determination turned to dark obsession. I determined that I would not let bath bomb technology defeat me. So I made two more batches that ended in cracking, bubbling, expanding, and half of them actually broke open like they’d shot themselves to death.

I will never understand why it’s so hard for me to make them now when I had no trouble making them a few years ago in a climate considerably more damp and so, in theory, a climate less conducive to projects that are moisture sensitive.


While standing over one of several bath bomb grave sites a ray of light fell through my stubborn madness and an alternative idea came to me. Something to divert my efforts away from eventual black hole level implosion of rage. It has, naturally, come packed with its own difficulties.

Enter the moisturizing bath tablet! But OH, it melts in hot weather and needs special packaging (like chocolates) to ship. Bath tablets use baking soda and salt (softening and healing as well as cleansing) and oil to moisturize at the same time. Let me tell you, these things are way nicer than bath bombs on the skin. I don’t take baths these days but I do foot soaks and these babies are amazing on my feet! I’ve got a bunch of testers lined up but have had to wait for thermal bubble mailers because it’s summer and in my dining room one batch of the tablets melted completely.

Is it worth the effort? Will people enjoy these enough to warrant the special packaging and effort?



And let me tell you, men might not be inclined to buy these but Philip enjoyed them thoroughly and I like his feet a lot better when he takes care of them.

Meanwhile, I’m developing a couple of medicinal teas and I think I’m going to make my first batch of soap this week. I’ve ordered my labels which should arrive sometime next week. That means I’ll be able to re-photograph all the products I’ve already developed which I can then put on my newNEW website.

I’ve also been doing a little preserving of garlic and onions and made a masala paste.

But this week I’m working hard on my sister’s quilt because her birthday is fast approaching and I’m determined to get it to her on time. I just started basting it last night so I’m hopeful I’ll have the whole thing finished by this weekend.

Oh, and I’ve been working out some plotting difficulties in book 2 of Cricket and Grey.

I must be off to work on product packaging and ordering some herbs – I hope you’re all having a productive un-shitty week!

The Morning After Stage of Life: Unsolicited (but sound) Advice

hard partying Wendover

I’ve entered the harsh morning-after stage of my life and I’ve got some solid advice for those who haven’t crashed on the floor of their youth yet to wake up with worms in their mouths and strangers drinking from their sinks:

1.  If you don’t have a strong sense of curiosity, you better cultivate that shit before your brain mummifies in the arid desert of your disinterest.

2.  If you hate insects you but your dearest dream is to become an entomologist – you’ve got some crazy-ass wires not connecting in your head and it’s time to find a new dream.

3.  There is no situation in which giving up your autonomy of person to another person is going to pay off in empowerment and anyone who promises that if you give it up to them you’ll know true love/power/spirituality is lying their power-hungry asses off so they can take your light off of you. Walk away from those assholes and fight like fucking hell to hang onto yourself.

4.  If you’re allergic to shellfish, don’t eat shellfish motherfucker.

5.  Always trust your first instinct.

6.  Sometimes the people who reject you because you’re not perfect have herpes.

7.  The trick to motivating yourself to do things you don’t want to do is realizing that most of the things you don’t want to do aren’t as bad as being shot in the gut by a 9 mm bullet and left to bleed out in an alleyway full of human excrement and cockroaches.

8.  No matter what else is going on in your life or how much things are falling apart – ALWAYS BRUSH YOUR TEETH IN THE MORNING WHEN YOU GET UP AND AGAIN BEFORE YOU GO TO SLEEP.

9.  Fake mustaches fix nothing. NOTHING.

10.  Always be kind to homeless people. Even if they’re panhandling and you haven’t got any change to give them, look them in the eye, tell them you haven’t got anything and wish them good luck. Smile at them. Statistics can prove that that could be you one day.

11.  The most precious commodity you can possess is the ability to see beauty through people’s vast imperfections, both physical, mental, and spiritual. Walk through your day with the humility of a human who knows its own small shadow and be open to seeing gorgeousness in all the humans you pass. If you can’t see physical beauty in the unconventional faces and bodies, you’re fucked. You’ll never see the hearts and experience inside of them.

12.  Be kind to people who hate board games, they’ll be loyal to you for life if you never pressure them to play and you don’t own a gun.

13.  Everyone has to break at least one promise they’ve made. The human who hasn’t done so simply hasn’t gotten there yet. It’s healthy to feel remorse about it. It’s healthy to move on. Learn to give yourself a fucking break.

14.  If forgiveness isn’t part of your life ethos then you’re a fucking asshole to yourself more than anyone else. This isn’t my first harsh morning on earth and I can tell you that forgiveness is the greatest gift you can give to yourself and to others.

15.  Guilt is useless if you don’t learn from it and move on. It becomes a corrosive self indulgence if you let it take the wheel of your Mustang.

16.  Pretty sure even Jesus curses mosquitoes, so don’t sweat it if you find yourself cursing bankers, double standards, and weak beer.

17.  Always dress and undress in the proper order.


19.  You feeling horny and no one wants to get funky with your body? MASTERBATE, DON’T RAPE!

20.  You like polka dots and stripes and plaid and you want to wear them all at the same time? YOU’RE PRETTY MUCH MY KIN AT THIS POINT AND IF THAT SCARES YOU – IT REALLY SHOULD!@!(*^&^e$&$#$%%*(&^(*

21.  If you’re in a city where a natural disaster has struck and you aren’t helping the older folks get supplies, I’m pretty much going to have to kill you.

22.  Develop your own yardstick for success. From scratch. Preferably from an organic 50 year old piece of drift wood you found on the beach.

23.  Don’t expect the people who love you to support your crime spree.

24.  If you know how to pirouette, don’t hold back! Do it in the rain, do it in the Walmart parking lot, do it for yourself when you’re alone in your room and in deep despair and your heart is breaking – pirouette your fucking toes off for all of us who can never stand that tall or spin like that.

25.  Write your own eulogy. If you don’t do it someone else will and they’ll find a way to mention gonads even if you don’t have any just because it’s all about them anyway and your spirit can’t rest with that bullshit floating around the pulpit.

25.5  Love. Just love everyone the best you know how, including and especially your absolutely wholly flawed self. You’re beautiful, you freak.


Present Perfect

fool be gold

You ever see a leaf so small, articulated, and perfect and realize that if your whole life was lived as that leaf, so void of insecurity, question, or searching for meaning, that it would be as perfect as life can ever be?

I trimmed a monster hedge a week and a half ago and my elbows are still in pain. I got bruises on my arms and started smelling like a lumberjack somewhere in the middle of the job,  but during the few hours I spent chopping and sawing at woody trunks and cutting branches I never once wondered about the point of life or felt insecure about my body. I cursed at the motherfucking evil thorned plum that attempted to eviscerate me and it was AS IT SHOULD BE. I inhaled the dust of purgatory, my throat half closing in allergic protest, and it was so fucking RIGHT and GOOD. I mean, I might have choked to death on that mold and must but if I had it would have been PERFECT.

That’s what being in the moment is and when you’re in the moment you don’t care how long it will last or if it will compare favorably to other moments or if anyone else notices the moment or if you’ll remember the moment years from now.

That’s the kind of shit you do when you slip out of the moment and get tangled up in human hubris.

Shed the hubris and get embroiled in the grit of the present.

I haven’t got time for my own bullshit.

I might have the body of Jabba the Hut and the face of your Polish grandmother but I’ve got a mind so sharp it can cut your expectations into paper angels.

I woke up this morning to chastisement from a stranger. Schooling I didn’t need. A sting I needn’t have acknowledged. I know who I am and if anyone takes the requisite five minutes they’ll know who I am too.  I don’t have time for your snap bullshit.

I’m in the moment when I’m juggling earthly elements. When I’m putting seams together or plotting how to bring scent into harmony. I’m in the moment when I’m driving metal screws into soft wood. I’m in the moment when the characters in my stories are breathing loudly enough to annoy me.

When you live in the moment you catch fire without feeling the heat.

Every day I see a flower, a berry, or a leaf so perfect it takes my breath away. They live in the moment because that’s the only place they exist.

No one makes a funeral pyre for a blackberry, a rose, or an oak leaf. They exist now and then they’re gone. Just as we should be.

No matter what your substance of character is, it’s always at its most perfect in the moment. You evil? Your evil has never been more perfect than it is RIGHT NOW. You sweet? Your sweetness has never been more crystallized than it is RIGHT NOW. You a hall monitor? You’ve never been more annoyingly aware of hall passes than you are RIGHT NOW.

Whatever you are, whoever you are, you’re the most you’ve ever been

right now.


You know what’s perfect about the present? It’s constantly renewing itself. Don’t like who you are right now? Every minute offers a chance to for change. Every hour is an opportunity. Every day can be a fresh planet of behavior. Whatever you are right now can be reinvented for the next minute.


Or don’t.

Fuck us all.


I Am Proxy


Lately I’ve been feeling more afraid of death. Something I haven’t generally felt before. I can’t help but wonder if it’s because I have a lot more at stake than ever before? I want to gather a bouquet of Frederic Mistral before I go. I have label designs for my apothecary that I’m really excited to see printed up. I need to see Max grow his first mustache.

Someone right now is thinking “It’s because you’re getting old, idjit.” I suppose it is. I mean, I’ve always dreamt about what kind of old lady I was going to become. I fantasized about meeting up with my friend Jessica for tea when we’re eighty, we’d leave loud lipstick stains on our cups and hold horns to our ears that we’d shout to each other through. But I thought I wouldn’t make it to thirty years old, so here I am, fifteen years older than I thought I’d ever be. It’s looking like I could, possibly, achieve my old lady dreams. The possibility of succeeding on such a large scale terrifies me.

Which is, you have to admit, pretty depressingly common of me.

If I had magical powers I’d make caramel less tricky to make.

I trimmed the old impossibly tall hedge between our driveway and the neighbor’s. There was an oak tree and a plum tree growing in it. The plum tree was designed by Lucifer clearly, as It was equipped with a thousand daggers. I’m covered in scratches and bruises. What the fuck kind of plum has two inch thorns all up and down the branches?! I found my zen place, hacking that hedge into submission. My back wasn’t hurting much and I ignored my hip pain because I like cutting things down to size. Construction paper has always been my bitch.

I bought some costmary this weekend. I’m convinced that life will be richer and better with more herbs mentioned in Shakespeare’s works. We have a healthy clump of rue just outside the back door. I’ve got bay laurel on either side of my front pathway to ward off evil. I don’t think Shakespeare ever mentions laurel, but I know it to be a protective herb.

I love the idea of connective tissue.

I’m a lot crazier than anyone who knows me is willing to believe but not so crazy as to ever be a potential harm to others. I still don’t find the word “crazy” offensive, though I know some of my tribe does.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how none of us can speak for each other. It sounds so obvious to write it out against this white screen, but it’s amazing how many people think they speak for their entire demographic and how many people want to source their information on an entire demographic on one or two people’s perspective.  I was especially thinking about this with regard to feminism and race. I know women who have very different ideas about what’s empowering to them. I’ve heard women denounce other women over what it means to be a feminist. I understand what’s at stake and so I get the passion behind the anger, but I continue to believe that we have to speak for ourselves, always, and if what we speak resonates with others, that’s fantastic. But none of us can speak for each other.

I have said that I speak about mental illness for those who can’t, but that’s not true. I can only temporarily stand in for those too frightened to speak, for those too unsafe to speak, for those too weary to speak. I am proxy, but I’m not everyone. I hold their place until they can tell their own stories. I’m a bookmark for other souls who will join us when they’re ready.

I am proxy for everyone who hasn’t stood up yet in the audience to be counted.

But when they finally find their legs and their voice, I will stand aside to let them tell their own tales, to shine in their own inimitable way.

I don’t crave the spotlight half as much as I crave the truth.


What’s In This Label: petal confetti and bees with capes on!


It’s an ugly UGLY world out there. This morning I’m full of the Duggar news, quotes from outrageously ignorant asshole politicians, more unarmed black people being shot by police, racist bullshit explaining how come it’s always a black person’s fault when they’re killed by white people but how it’s also their fault when white people get killed and how basically racism is also their fault, and animal cruelty is still going strong, xenophobia is like everyone’s secondary religion, and women are simultaneously responsible for everything wrong with men’s lives.

It’s a disgusting, disheartening, and terrible place wherever humans congregate.

I was going to write a whole post about how much God obviously hates women and children, how nature hates all of us, how – but then I thought I’d share my first complete new label for my apothecary business instead. I’m excited about it. It’s not cool old-timey apothecary style which I originally wanted. It’s not streamlined deco, which was another direction I thought of taking it. It’s not uber-clever which is good because I’m not either. Nor does it have an element of medieval chic.

What it IS is new green like spring. It’s covered in delicate dog rose blossoms. It’s fresh and pretty and light and hopeful.

I don’t have magical powers, (which is good because I’m not sure I could be trusted with them), and I can’t cure anyone of anything major like cancer. Maybe to some that sounds like anti-promotion but what this business is to me is an opportunity to help people heal their everyday hurts and discomforts. I want to be part of that! It’s an opportunity to cover chapped lips with soothing healing lip balm so that they can go forth and say good things and kiss kitten bellies or taste the healing salt air without a sting. I want to be part of that! It’s an opportunity to give those people feeling low with oncoming colds a boost of support and warmth with healing invigorating syrups so they can feel less pain and heal faster. I want to be part of that! It’s an opportunity to offer the calm quiet of a cup of herbal tea to people who are feeling overwhelmed with stress and sorrow.


I look at my business name and label and I see spring petals falling like delicate tissue confetti onto fields full of young plantain, bees weathering the wind like caped crusaders, and the tang of sudden hard rains that pass so quickly the sun never stops shining through it. I hear mourning doves cooing on the power lines in my neighborhood inviting me backwards through time into my mother’s garden to the first moment I discovered that carnations smell like clean spiced laundry, that irises smell vaguely like sex and death, and that eating strawberries before they ripened was better than eating dipped cones in Lithia park. My labels make me think of what’s good in the world, of what’s healing, and of what’s possible.

These labels aren’t at all what I originally imagined. They’re way better.

I’m knee deep in freshly shelled fava beans and have about 10 batches of fava bean cakes left to make and freeze. I’ve got new scents to blend for bath bombs and soaps. I’ve got a new bath soak to make with NO lavender for my friend Tarrant and all those who, like her, can’t have or don’t want lavender in their soothing bath soak. I’ve got a seat cover to make for my Vespa. I’ve got tea blends to formulate and taste test. I’ve got novels to write. I’ve got brochures to write.

No more letting the bad crap inside my day. Or yours.

I call sanctuary!

May your weekend be filled with petal confetti and love. And also maybe some delicious pickles.



The Name of This Thing Remains Undecided


Sugar & Pith

It was sugar and pith, rich with the urgency of the present and weighted with an
awareness of tomorrow pressing in on the fragile edges. It was simultaneously a greeting
and a passing; it was shifting faces under the ice of the winter night; a singular point of
warmth in scarlet and peaches like summer passing before the spring.

That’s my favorite passage from Winter; Cricket and Grey.

Naming my apothecary company Winters Apothecary was an obvious choice but not particularly memorable. That’s a fact that’s been quietly nagging at the edge of my brain for about 9 months. Nothing better came to mind any time I gave it thought and the agony of choosing the right name was too stressful to concentrate on so I just went with Winters Apothecary. Over the months I have had the added irritation of people trying to “correct” the spelling by adding an apostrophe.

In fact, one person on Facebook actually pointed out my “typo” in the spelling of my business name, assuming that I don’t know how to spell my own company name. As it was by a person who never says anything that isn’t correcting me in one way or another or schooling my apparently ignorant ass, I have since put her on a list that can’t see any of my posts. Hahaha. Yep, I do that to people when all they do is irritate me.

Even Philip put the apostrophe in Winters in our first labels. It really irritates the fuck out of me. So a name that is a) not memorable and b) everyone thinks is spelled wrong convinced me to try to come up with a better one  before it’s too late. Our new label designs are almost finished (2 out of 3 are done). Soon I will have to commit to Winters Apothecary if I don’t change it. It actually didn’t happen quite like that.

I woke up on Saturday morning absolutely certain that my apothecary company should be named Sugar & Pith after my favorite passage in my book. Sugar and pith is an expression that comes into my head frequently these days. I shared this idea with my mom who hated it. I shared it on facebook and people mostly either really loved it or hated it. You could tell by how many people were suggesting alternatives to it. The people who didn’t like it all thought “pith” sounds like “piss”.

I see now that it was a bad idea to ask anyone. The sugar and pith passage in my book is precious to me for more than one reason. It was a personal writing triumph as I loath kisses in books involving tongue thrusting and hot breath and probing. I spent so much time writing a kiss scene that would express some of what people feel during a first kiss without any of that gross bullshit. More than that, sugar and pith stuck in my head because it so perfectly describes for me the delicate balance between light and dark, sweet and bitter, life and death.

Hearing everyone say that pith sounds like piss was much harder than I expected. I can’t deny that their comments were honest and true and that I asked for it. It was my error to have held up something so meaningful to me and hoped that everyone else would see it too.

[Several paragraphs about my dark spiral downwards into self loathing redacted]

Philip made a big case for my apothecary company being mostly a tool for promoting my novel. I was a little annoyed at that but if I accept that as what my company is then another name suggests itself:

Cricket & Grey

Even people who read the novel don’t remember that Cricket’s last name is Winters. So as far as being more memorable than Winters Apothecary, this fits the bill. Plus, every time someone mentions my company they’re also mentioning my book. So from Philip’s perspective this would be a better name than Sugar & Pith which, while memorable and interesting and meaningful, ties to the book in an obscure way. As far as “branding” is concerned, Cricket & Grey is the clear winner.

So. More thinking on this. I have to decide soon. I’ve learned that there’s no name I can choose that everyone will love or agree on. I would like this to stop being so difficult for me. I love Sugar & Pith but I would also love Cricket & Grey.

I guess I’ll go drink more coffee and distract myself with this continuing back pain that I’ve had for 2 weeks straight now. I have a huge pot of favas to marinate and breakfast to eat and some writing to work on.

In Which Saponification is as Magical as Dragons


(I’m 14 years old here. In my gold lame jacket and feeling very ABC)

There are so many sentiments a large enough percentage of my peers share with each other that I don’t that I inevitably feel like I’m looking into their lives from a dark shadow in the shrubbery outside with my night-vision goggles on. When I talk about these things I don’t understand, I can feel peers feeling either pity for me or judgement from me. There is cause for neither. But there’s no question I am uncomfortable in the world I live in and always have been.

These things scratch at my brain like tree branches in a wild storm. It hurts, but not in a way I can ever adequately describe. I don’t want to be like everyone else, I want them to see like ME. There are a number of things that make me feel painfully otherly.

One the the most recurring themes is the penchant adults have for worshiping what they see as the innocence and magic of childhood. I used to think people worshiped childhood because they had great childhoods full of wonders and things mine wasn’t filled with. I believed that only people who were allowed to fully be children could be nostalgic for childhood. That people like me who had never really been allowed to have a childhood free of responsibility and grim reality were the only ones who couldn’t understand the cult of youth. But then I noticed that people with equally difficult and responsibility laden childhoods often worshiped this ideal of youth they’d never experienced for themselves and I reasoned that it was because they were longing for a thing denied them. But tonight I saw a little further into the living room window of the myth of the magical childhood:

That free-wheeling tree-climbing smug club of superior living and supposedly free thinking and dreaming that adults abandon in order to follow rules, lose all magic, and  pretty much die. Apparently.

I’ve got such messy thoughts about all of this. Thoughts that may not make a lot of sense. Thoughts I haven’t vetted for cleverness or approval.

The first is that you don’t lose anything with adulthood that you aren’t tacitly in agreement with losing. If you feel less magic in the world because you started taking on responsibility then it’s your laziness or willfulness that has let magic go.

(I say this as a person who doesn’t believe in fairies or dragons but who believes absolutely in the everyday magic of natural science as well as inexplicable beauty and wonderful weirdness)

You only lose in adulthood what you are complicit in losing. If you lose your sense of wonder then you didn’t have that much wonder to begin with or you didn’t value it enough to hold onto it as you grew. Can’t have been that great if you let it go with the onset of adult ambitions and responsibility.

I just said the same thing twice because I think that first thing is possibly the ONLY important thing.

People talk about innocence. I never had that. Sure, I was a virgin until I was 17 years old. If that’s what you mean by “innocence” then Lord have mercy on all you people. I knew all about sex and what it looks like in reality and what it actually MEANS when I was – I can’t remember a time I didn’t understand about sex. If by innocence you mean that you weren’t aware of the real horrors in this world – you’re fucking fooling yourself. Children are super aware of the horrors of the world, they are sensitive to it in ways adults become immune by exposure. That’s why they see monsters everywhere. THERE ARE MONSTERS EVERYWHERE. They just don’t know the specifics yet of the very real danger they’re sensing so they come up with creative explanations for it. But in the end it’s not cute or quaint, that childhood explanation for horrors they feel but can’t name with newspaper headlines. Adults just want to believe that kids don’t know shit.

Let me tell you, I know kids. Yes, me, the person who doesn’t treasure the thought of spending any time I don’t have to with children, I UNDERSTAND CHILDREN. We get each other. Sometimes I think it’s because I must have never stopped being a child in some way. But the truth is that children aren’t innocent magical beings full of endless joy and love. They live a confusing existence in which they know EVERYTHING by instinct but don’t have the words for any of it yet. If you talk to kids like they’re adults they still GET YOU. In fact, I swear they love you and cling to you for talking to them like they’re simply other humans instead of precious vessels of adult wishful dreaming. I’m not making this shit up. Call me a kid savant. Whatever. I will never seek out the company of children because I’m not interested in watching my language or trying to preserve their parents misguided desire to perpetuate beliefs in ridiculous and often creepy crap like Santa Claus when there’s so much real cool stuff to celebrate like the existence of such things as platypuses.

Kids love me. They always have. Because I don’t keep up weird pretenses with them. They’re sharp humans with just as much of a capacity for suffering and love as adults but with fewer experiences and words to help them articulate their feelings. It’s fucking frustrating.

My son has had a loving and somewhat sheltered childhood with no abuse and he is just like me. He’s never had a moment’s innocence. I tried protecting him from harsh reality and thoughts but he already knew about kidnapping and sex and murder and death and suicide by the time he was 3. These are things I tried so hard to shelter him from because I was so unsheltered as a kid but he taught me that some of us, if not most of us, are born knowing most things on a primal level.

I hear so many adults talk like being an adult kills their sense of wonderment and imagination. A dear friend was talking about this tonight and, as usual, it brought up such a visceral sense of disconnect for me. That I’m alien to this experience and thinking. I have exactly the same amount of imagination now as I did when I was a child. I have exactly the same amount of curiosity and sense of wonderment at things now as I did as a kid. In fact, I believe it has become greater, sharper, and richer as I’ve aged. Knowing MORE, learning MORE, and experiencing MORE has increased my sense of excitement and wonder. I have an incredibly curious mind that is constantly exploring ideas, thinking up the most ridiculous and/or creepy questions and thoughts. The more I know, the more questions I have, the more I want to know and explore.

When I was a child I was hindered by a sense of powerlessness and the darkness of my life got in the way of this supposed freedom others experience in childhood. But as I was emancipated from my parents and I began to meet the world on my own terms I was also free to explore it in earnest. I was free to think thoughts I was too afraid to think when I was young. I was free to do with myself as I pleased and that agency allowed so much more power and creativity in my viewpoints and my experiences than I ever had as a kid or a teen.

As a mentally ill person I am frequently grappling an appalling darkness in my own body and mind but even this cannot shake my innate curiosity and enjoyment of exploration of thought and the world. I am freer than children. I am freer than adults who are nostalgic for childhood.

There is nothing you let go of as you reach adulthood that you aren’t complicit in letting go of from your childhood. If you’re not feeling more free as an adult than you did as a child then it’s you who are setting yourself limits on what you can achieve and do and think and imagine. The one thing that responsibilities like having a family and a job do is limit your time. That might make free-thinking and creativity harder to harness (understandably so!) but that’s a function of the choices you make as an adult and not the fundamental limitations of age.

My mind is completely free. I can’t share half of it out loud because the world, and YOU, can’t handle it. But there is no thought I’m unwilling to explore. No impossibilities. I see magic in the ordinary and I believe that if you can’t see magic in the ordinary then all the things you think you miss and love about childhood have already been wasted on you.


Late Friday Night Thoughts and General Fuckery

music head

It gives me great pleasure to imagine all the gay love songs written in history that straight people have assumed or have been encouraged to believe were for them.

Music is proof that it doesn’t matter what skin is involved in love, it’s all pretty much the most compelling thing any of us experience. Love is epic and as genderless in quality as death is.

I enjoy how death and love are always such equals whether we’re talking about the highest concepts or the lowest of either.

I’m sitting here at my keyboard even though my back hurts like a motherfucker. Advil has failed to alleviate the pain. Took it twice today and neither time has resulted in a reduction of pain. I’ve been icing and heating it for hours and it still hurts. So I decided to sit here and listen to the music of my youth and get maudlin-ish.

Remembering skating rinks, piss-filled public pools, Harry and David fruit baskets, the smell of my brand new plastic Bionic Woman doll I bought from the dustiest shadiest shop in Talent Oregon with my saved allowance, and the smell of lime essential oil in the coolest shop in town that sold David Bowie T-shirts and albums.

I might need, at some point, to admit that my brain is so full of voices I’m not always sure which ones are mine.  This potential admission must necessarily always be followed by the assurance that no voice in my head is compelling me to commit crimes. They aren’t even compelling me to vacuum, so you know it’s for-fucking real.

More and more I see the walls of my invulnerability and simultaneously see how I’m always letting the rot in through an involuntary empathetic  bent that’s as basic as the thickness of my blood and how it clots around my desire for peace and love. Self perpetuating cycle of disappointment and confirmation of distrust of humans.

Now I’m remembering my boring Boyfriend who peremptorily told me he expected his girlfriends to kiss him whether they had lipstick on or not when I demurred at our meeting at the Bart station  because I had red lipstick on and didn’t want to mess it up. I stayed at his house that night in Pleasanton but I knew it was the end because no bastard tells me when I have to kiss him. Fucker had no experience with people with OCD or other afflictions of preciseness. I remember listening to “Wild Horses” that night and knowing that we were pretty much over at that point. We hadn’t gone out more than a few weeks. Par for the course in my experience.

I remembered his name for 20 years but suddenly I can’t remember if it was Jeff or Jason.

What I’ll never forget is that he was a Capricorn like me and we drank Amaretto from his parents liquor cabinet.

Youth is fucked. Old age is also fucked.

Life is pretty much a marathon of pain and suffering with some effusive moments of incredible illumination.

Enjoy what you can of it.

Keep Your Mind Flexible and Fertile


Calcification is what happens when people get to a point in their lives when they stop learning, stop growing, and become suspended in the amber of the brightest moment from their youth and all the sweet ephemera that will haunt them and dog them until the day they die.

I refuse to become calcified in spirit even if my hip pain plasters me to the sidewalk in abject pain.

I spent an inordinate amount of time and gasoline looking for a very precise mini-muffin tin. A venture that was doomed from the start as are most super specific quests. It turns out I just need to remove the rust from the perfect muffin tin I already own and was trying to replace.

There are tiny paws grabbing at my toes while I write this. The paws of a brand new being. Nothing brings out my maternal instincts like a kitten. I’m fostering a feral kitten Max has named Sonar. He’s not more than 11 weeks on this planet and as untrusting as I have been my whole life. He came to me hissing and shrinking and slinking and now he’s dashing across my office like he owns it and battling my toes like a true son of the earth.

I saw my brother tonight. Beloved wild kid turned 43. I spoke to my sister several nights ago. My Stevie Nicks heart in Vermont. Fuck sibling day, every day is sibling day that you get to hug or talk to your siblings. And for some that means hugging your best friends. Sometimes that means remembering those who’ve gone already. I can’t even begin to know what it’s like to have to say goodbye to brothers and sisters.

More and more I’m convinced that if there’s no other evidence indicating how far humans have come, discontinuing troll dolls is IT.

It might be proof of my de-evolution that I’m listening to Journey right now.

I’ve come to a point in my life when acquiring beakers bisects that point between my professional aspirations and my deeply held personal belief that all things in life can be measured by volume.

When I look back on my youth I see a graph depicting how not to commit suicide by the skin of your teeth.

It boils down to a long collection of barely connected set of circumstances that support waking up in the morning against all odds.

It’s always a shock when I realize someone gets it all, gets all the invisible armor, gets all the invulnerability, the moat they cannot cross. Most people never try because I impressively discourage them from making useless attempts.

I used to think Roy Orbison was a creepy hack but I’ve changed my mind and think he had a brilliance worth notice. I’m the last to realize this, obviously.

My hip (the one I didn’t break) has been hurting now for a solid two weeks. I accept that this is part of getting older. I accept that some of this pain would diminish if I would only lose a ton of weight. I accept that my joints are going to complain at an increasingly irritating rate.

What I don’t accept is that things were at a peak of awesomeness when I was at my peak of youth. I don’t accept that the way we did things when I was young is the gold standard for how things should always be. I can tell you that if I’d had then what I have today I would have been a much better vessel for preserving what it IS to be seventeen and full of death.

I would have been a more effective documentarian.

If humans cease to evolve they cease to be worth even the salt that comprises their natural makeup.

I’ll know we’ve evolved enough when we no longer separate ourselves by skin color or nationality.

Listen to yourself. Do you hear yourself complaining about youth with their noses buried in their devices? Are you complaining about how no one knows how to talk face to face anymore? Are you lamenting those halcyon days when everyone answered their land lines and when they met for coffee without the encumbrance of connectedness to anything outside of coffee?

Have you closed your ears to new music? New ideas? New thoughts?

Hips hurting is nothing. Hips hurting is like continental breakfast: it’s painfully inadequate but it’s regular like pink sunrise with an Advil wash.

My hips might become as stiff as a mammoth’s grave site but my mind is constantly stretching itself beyond its limits. This is how we adapt, stay young, and not die.

Not die.

I’ve got the blueprint for happiness if you’re willing to wade through the border between beer and bitch.

I’m not gonna cry, but you should let it go like the river you’ve been holding behind the gates.

Don’t wait for me, I won’t be meeting the light in my pyjamas.