Is There a First Aid Kit for Life Decisions?

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The Post Apocalyptic First Aid Kit

I remember all the years of not knowing which bills we could afford to pay on time and which ones would have to be fobbed off until the next pay check, or forever. I hoped we could leave those years behind us. We got a reprieve for over a year, and for that I feel such gratefulness. To know what it feels like to be able to pay all the bills and be able to afford the normal comforts of a modest life without having to look at the bank balance every day. To be able to afford to get the dentistry we need when we need it. To be able to buy light bulbs as they blow out. To have more than one pair of shoes.

I know how to be thankful for these blessings.

Coming back to that tight place – juggling bills from week to week, always two weeks late paying the power and water bills. We don’t even have credit card bills or car payments. Our rent takes up half our income. I imagine this is pretty normal for most Americans. I imagine there are a lot of Americans paying a higher percentage of their income to keep a roof over their heads than we do.

We’re lucky that we’re still able to afford some luxuries like rot-gut wine during the week, beer on weekends (though we shouldn’t because, clearly, we can’t actually afford this), and Philip taking the kid out to share a plate a fries and wings instead of a full meal. There are so many people not able to have these little luxuries. My thoughts are here this weekend, not feeling bitter about tight financial restraints but feeling tired of them.

It’s looking more and more necessary for me to return to looking for a job outside the home. Not gonna lie, it depresses me. I belong at home. I’m a writer. I’m a homesteader. I’m a mom. I’m a mentally ill person who is healthiest when close to home, to my kitchen, my laptop, and to my people.

A close friend has told me about a possible job coming up that I might be qualified for. My friend Sid thinks I would be great in the mental health field and has been suggesting I would be skillful in an advocacy role. This job has yet to be officially posted and maybe when it is I will find that I’m not even qualified to apply, a common problem I encounter. Philip and Max want me to apply. They want me happy but our financial restraints are a big stress on us all so they’d kind of prefer me to step up my efforts for supplementing our income without prostitution.

It doesn’t matter how grateful you are for what you have because you know a billion other people have less – the day to day stress of living hand to mouth and coming up short is stressful and anyone who says otherwise is lying their fucking asses off.

I’m so torn. I’ve just come up with ideas for my Etsy shop, for making things that tie in with my book and for the first time in a long time finding myself excited about sewing but the reality is harsh and firm. At the best of times I’ve sold very little. What makes this time different? Am I being hopeful with no foundation for it?

Going to a job 20+ hours a week means I’ll barely have enough time to parent, do those things I need to do for my mental health, and write. Forget making things to build a nebulous online store.

But to work in mental health, even as an administrative assistant, has its pull too. To serve my tribe in any way is honorable. To do it while also easing my family’s financial strain? I think Philip and Max get instinctually how stupid it would be for me not to at least apply.

I sound pretty sad-sack I suppose. I know what I want, I just don’t know how hard I should hang onto my preferred way of getting there. I don’t know what is the best way forward. I don’t know the best pass to get across the finish line.

This weekend I finally finished putting together and listing my Post Apocalyptic First Aid Kit. Tonight, while thinking about other paths forward, I had to stop and recognize that no matter how bad I am at selling my designs and ideas – I can tell you that I’m fucking proud of the products I’ve designed and assembled over the years just as much as I’m proud of the kind of employee I’ve been. I was a great color specialist at Mulberry Neckwear. When I was a shipping manager I put my boots and soul into the job and kicked ass. I loved it. When I made cards and aprons for my own company, Dustpan Alley, I knew the quality was superb and the style notable. When I opened my retail shop I filled it with the best products and other people loved my shop – business was growing steadily (and healthily for retail stores) and could have grown to be successful.

I put 110% into everything I do.

My first aid kits took me a year to plan and design and to assemble. I’m putting one in my own bathroom because it was my own family’s need that inspired them in the first place.

I’m stressed. Super stressed. Anyone who knows me knows this is the usual status quo, more and never-less. Even when I don’t have stressful stimuli affecting me – I have clinical anxiety that’s no joke. Fuck you if you don’t want to GET IT.

I don’t know how we’re going to get through this week until Friday (payday). I don’t know if we’re going to end up with overdrafts in the bank account. I don’t know what will happen after this week. I don’t know if I’ll manage to get my Etsy shop to take off enough to let me stay home. I don’t know if that job listing will end up being a perfect fit and my path diverges in a direction I didn’t plan or expect, again.

I will say that if working away from home means I’m serving, in any capacity, the mentally ill community, there is a poetic beauty in that. A justness, a rightness, a visceral attraction I can’t deny. It would mean I’d have to give up my Etsy shop. I can’t do that and work outside the home too. But if it produced a steady paycheck, there’s beauty in that. And I’d still write. Because I have to write. I need to write.

I haven’t been writing my thoughts out enough lately. I can tell by the longitudinal way I’m getting around to the center of what’s in my mind right now.

I’m throwing seeds into the air. The hot stillness of our late summer isn’t likely to carry them far, but I’m hopeful they’ll land just where they need to. There’s old fight in me for the way I thought my life would and should go, old ideas of the plays I should make and the ones I make out of desperation.

Until a direction is forced, one way or another, I will continue to fill my Etsy shop and work on my ideas for creating dystopian inspired products. If another clear opportunity arises to use what I have to make, create, soothe, fill a void, help my tribe, lift up others – I will give it my fullest attention. Whatever it is.

No matter what I have to do to help my family pay bills – I will continue to write.

The one constant, always, throughout my life, has been writing.

I’m taking this to bed with me tonight.

I’m not scared.

Not more than usual, anyway.

 

Making Small Talk With Myself

little grave

I am getting over a little end of summer cold. I have been working on sketching ideas, working on smocks, making ratatouille, hanging out with my sister, and getting Max adjusted in the new school year. Very little writing has been done. On my novels or my blogs. I’m getting itchy and bitchy to write more. However, financial strain requires that I concentrate on getting my Etsy shop full and do my best to promote it. I am definitely enjoying it this time around – the sewing and building of my Etsy shop. Not much selling going on but hopefully things will get moving soon.

I’m going to have to learn how to balance doing the sewing and the writing like I used to. In spite of the cold and the schedule shakeup that happens when the new school year starts and new endeavors begin – I’m feeling pretty upbeat. It might be all the canning I’m about to do. Today Chelsea and I are going to pick up boxes of peaches. I’m buying 3 boxes. It’s also time to start canning tomatoes and making ratatouille to freeze. I made a giant double batch last week that I didn’t freeze and is just about gone now. I’ve been mostly eating ratatouille for the last week. It’s CRAZY GOOD!

Food preserving really does make me feel happy and calm. Well, it makes me spazzy with excitement but on the inside it quells a certain amount anxiety.

Right now I’m listening to my housecleaning playlist and this is also contributing to a happy mood. (“I Want To Hold Your Hand” always makes me feel happy)

I have a weird rough patch on the inside of my right middle finger. I’m definitely thinking it’s a sign of imminent doom.

It’s been overcast most mornings for the last week and it’s amazing! I love it. Love it. Love it!

Oh my god. I’m making small talk on my own blog.

I think that means my nose blowing is getting in the way of interesting thoughts and I need to eat some eggs poached in ratatouille for breakfast and get working on things for my shop before it’s time to go get the peaches.

xoxo

a

 

This Post Apocalyptic World

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The last two weeks have been heavy, strange, and emotional. I feel like I’ve been slowly returning to the wild.

Quite aside from everything else I’ve experienced the unexpected adventure in cooking bacon. BACON. I have put my hands on sliced dead pig and baked it and then later dealt with the solidified pig fat when cleaning the baking sheet. I’m not kidding when I tell you that I nearly throw up every time I face that stuff. I can’t divorce myself from my love for living pigs and when I see that weird yellow sluggish stinky viscous fat I always wonder if it’s anything like human fat would be. I think I do this to apologize to the pig who lost. I am making bacon for Max. I invented a mini-baked potato dish he loves that involves crumbled bacon. I’ve made it every single day of this week. This I do for my son  but wouldn’t do for anyone else unless they were on their death bed. One of the things that makes it okay is that I know how much he appreciates how tough it is for me to handle meat.

I have a serious carnivore for a son and I’m determined his needs be met.

But , BACON?! Seriously, I’m making BACON?!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ferguson is still happening. Because it’s always happening for black Americans every day of the year.

Max is settling into his new school routine.

And then there’s the fact that money is super tight. I haven’t gone on a vacation for years and had a wonderful one planned for this November to meet up with some writer friends in Colorado. I haven’t cancelled my hotel reservation because some part of me refuses to give up hope yet. What has become clear is that I either have to get a part time job outside the home or I have to make money on my own stuff. The same old situation I’ve been facing for years off and on. Well, I decided I don’t want to get a job outside my home because nothing sounds more depressing than that.

The difficulty is that I am bored to tears making my old apron pattern and pot holders and if I have to make things for a living I want to be making things I can get excited about. First off I listed my triple strength wound salve inspired by Cricket’s work as an apothecary. I have first aid kits I’m working on too. I listed my salves and sold 4 in one day to friends.

I’m working with a post apocalyptic theme. It interests me enough that I wrote a whole novel about it. A favorite family game is planning for a zombie apocalypse. Some of the greatest joys in my life are skills that everyone will need to survive an apocalypse.

I have been re-designing my Etsy shop to be a post apocalyptic shop inspired by my novel “Winter; Cricket and Grey”. I’ve gotten so excited that I’ve even gone back to working on book 2 of Cricket and Grey.

I’ve been working on some recycled smock/sundress projects and designing entire wardrobes to go with them and all of this led up to a revelation I had today.

I have had only two professional ambitions in my life. Writing novels and being a fashion designer.

I have, as discussed endlessly in other posts, failed at making a living doing either. My experience in fashion design is solid, however. In all the ways I tackled the field I succeeded. I was an excellent shipping manager at Weston Wear. I was a great design assistant and swatcher at Mulberry Neckwear. I made incredible quality costumes when I was Autumn Adamme’s partner.  Then I made beautiful quality aprons and charged completely reasonable prices for them and got paid about $3.00 an hour for my work.

But I have never designed and sold my own clothing designs.

I am designing a micro Post Apocalyptic wardrobe.  I’m excited about it. I don’t believe this is going to become my new career. I want to be writing books – but I’m excited because doing this exercises skills and passions I have had for as long as I’ve had the passion and love for writing. I do believe that I can make enough to help us out of financial holes for a while with this work. But most of all I’m excited to do both of the things I was born to do at the same time.

My mom needs surgery to fix a hernia and rectus abdominis separation. It’s elective but it seems the preferable choice to waiting to see if her hernia gets stuck and creates an emergency surgery situation. I’m not scared like I was the last time because the surgeon called her young and healthy enough for this to be her best option. Risks that this surgery will end up causing a need for other surgeries is very real, but he called her young and healthy not more than 20 minutes after she commented on how watching Max mature so quickly reminded her of her imminent death.

I can’t emphasize enough how weird it is to see my baby develop a shadow mustache.

My sister is about to leave for Vermont for two years. I just went to La Rosa happy hour with her and as always find myself amazed at what she’s shown herself to be capable of and laughing with her is such a high point in my life. When cleaning my office the other day I found this wonderful little booklet she made me just when I started realizing how lucky I was to have her in my life (I was 17) instead of resentful of her because she is the most wonderful baby girl two parents can have together and I never was that wonderful child. I will never take that book she hand wrote off my shelf to live in a box of scruffy memories because every time I see it it reminds me how much I love this woman who has the same(ish)  blood running in her veins and wears so many of the same family wounds that I do. We may have always experienced the same things differently, but I’ve known Tara since I was 5 1/2 years old and I spent a lot of time caring for her like a mother before I rejected her as a sister like the asshole I am.

Fuck, I’m getting maudlin now.

Depression and anxiety are fucking bitches.

Nigel Lythgoe called suicide “stupid” in the last So You Think You Can Dance episode. On behalf of all my people – fuck you Nigel! Try to understand, try just a little harder to understand that there isn’t a better tomorrow for everyone. Try to understand the demons that haunt some people and that suicide is sometimes the most honorable way to lose battle with depression because sometimes sticking around is more humiliating and torturous and painful than leaving with some scrap of dignity and power.

Thinking today about my own capacity to maintain an open mind. Thinking about how much harder that was when I lived in McMinnville. Thinking about how I crossed the line into religious bigotry – something I didn’t know I was capable of until I moved there and my son was bullied for being unreligious. Thinking about the friends I made online while living there who have ended up being great lights to me spiritually, helping me to see how loving and open minded Christians can be and who have, without intending it (I believe) made me such a better person for their faith and their kindness and open heartedness. Robin and Elizabeth particularly come to mind. Always challenging me to think hard about what I say and believe about religious people, not because they actually challenge me but because who they are inspires me to be a better version of myself.

Robin has been a great support to me for so long, she loves Jesus and it allows her to love fellow human beings who swear like motherfuckers but who are otherwise trying to live by very similar moral rules that Jesus would like us all to live by. There is no moment I joke about religion or criticize it that I don’t first think about her and ask myself – is this crossing a line that Robin would feel pain over? She knows I’m an atheist and that I make fun of religion and take the lord’s name in vain and she’s okay with those things (none of them have shaken her from my side, at least) but she is in my mind every single time I propose to say something expansive about religion or politics that might include her. Because I love Robin so much.

Elizabeth is the same – (close friend to my beloved Pam Kitty Morning) – a woman who has somehow followed my online life for years and there have been times when she’s spoken up to say how harsh I sound in my political passion – she calls me on being mean and being unfair – which I certainly am sometimes. I listen to her because she is another woman who loves Jesus but never pushes him on others and uses that love to direct her own actions rather than to judge others with it. But she isn’t afraid to call people on their shit sometimes and I deeply respect that. Been thinking a lot about Elizabeth in the last few days, but especially today.

Then there’s Diane L. too. A long time reader of my blog who is kind and supportive who took some exception to my most recent post about the Ferguson situation. Completely fair commentary with a different view than I presented.

All of these women who have such different perspectives than I do keep sticking to me, my atheist swearing self, my challenging thoughts and all. I feel rich with great women in my life. So many women holding me up high when I feel myself sinking low. So many great women to keep my ego in check so that I can become the person I really want to be.

I have so many other incredible women supporting me too. Writers, my three IRL friends I’ve been hanging with for 8, 14, and 22 years, and BlogHer ladies.

I am rich. Not with money, but with supportive incredible friends.

There’s no denying I’m not much of a catch of a relative or friend in some ways – deeply flawed, broken, funky, fat,  but I’ll tell you all this: I make the best fucking garlic pickles. My sister will confirm this. I make great food. I’ll feed you. I write really well and I write the truths I know even when they’re ugly, scary, or shameful. I’ll say what everyone else is afraid to say. I do this for me, for you, for everyone. But mostly for me.

Mostly for me.

I once buried a cigarette with mint jelly.

That proves everything you ever needed to prove about me.

This Evil Bitch Commie Is Full Of Ideas

my street at night

This past couple of weeks have been pretty intense. What with High School starting for Max (and he’s begun growing a shadow mustache!) and the events in Ferguson Missouri and us suddenly having higher rent to pay that is not affordable requiring me to concentrate hard on how to revamp my Etsy shop and make extra income and finding out my mom probably needs another surgery and my step mother* commenting on my blog (deleted), and of course the middle east situation continuing, and people everywhere being complete and utter assholes to each other.

I have a lot of thoughts about the situation in Ferguson. I’ve heard some really disgusting racist things being spewed and people showing just how sick inside they really are.

I was called an evil bitch commie because I confronted a man who doesn’t think black people are even human beings. I know, if someone is saying something like that they are already so far down the crazy-shoot there’s no retrieving their reason, I shouldn’t have commented. But it’s really hard to stand by and say nothing when people say such awful things.

The trick is to speak up in situations where it will actually help someone out or be useful in some way and to avoid engaging with people who are already diseased in their body and soul.

I’m going to say right now that I think if you are a police officer you are never in the right shooting an unarmed person of any race. I don’t give a shit if they’re 8 feet tall and charge you. Your job is to deal with dangerous people on a daily basis in the least harmful way possible. It doesn’t matter what a suspect’s character is, what matters is that you, as a police officer, have the tools to diffuse aggression without lethal force. If you are too scared to deal with people bigger than you and more aggressive than you – you without shooting them – you do not belong in a police uniform.

I will also say that police departments are quite possibly failing in their training if officers believe that the merest threat of harm to them warrants firing their gun.

Of those things I am absolutely clear.

I get that if someone open fires on a police officer that the officer may need to fire back to protect themselves and bystanders. But there have been plenty of instances where people fired on cops and the cops did not fire back. Happened in my own city more than once. Instances where an officer with a gun pointed at them apprehended the person pointing the weapon and took them into custody without firing so much as a single shot. That’s good policing.

So this whole Michael Brown killing was bad from the start to finish. If Michael Brown accosted Wilson physically, as is claimed, and then ran away – Wilson did not need to shoot him. He should have run after him and used his skills to take him down and cuff him.  He should have called for back up and run after him. Brown had no weapon. NO WEAPON. And once Brown was running away, Wilson was not in danger anymore. No fatal force needed.

That’s bad training at the very least but what it definitely looks like, confirmed by the entire department’s handling of the situation, is that Wilson didn’t care about the life of Michael Brown and acted in an unconscionable way.  That’s a bad shoot.

I don’t actually believe that Police officers should be allowed to use lethal force when threatened. They are threatened all the time, depending on where they work sometimes they are threatened daily. The nature of their job is dangerous, they go into the force knowing they are taking on a dangerous job and being given weapons and the power to apprehend citizens merely on suspicion means they need to be held to a higher level of integrity than the average person.

I don’t think cops should carry guns. I think they shouldn’t carry any lethal weapons at all. But living in a country in love with lethal weapons I know that that will never happen. It’s too bad.

If I believed in God at all I would have to believe that firearms are the tools of Satan.

Those are just a few random thoughts right now. Not an organized essay on what’s going on in Ferguson. So don’t treat it like one. The situation is unbelievable from beginning to end.

That entire police force needs to go on trial for their suppression of constitutional rights of the citizens protesting and those trying to report on the events. They need to be fired and replaced and trained better to deal with both apprehending unarmed (AND ARMED) suspects and protests.

That police department has behaved shamefully.

No, I don’t think the looting that’s happened is okay. But don’t let the looters  be confused with the peaceful protesters. They are not the same people and if the police force wasn’t 100% concentrating on suppressing the citizen’s right to peaceful protest and shooting them with rubber bullets and gassing them – maybe they could have actually quelled the looting and jailed looters.

It’s been a tense two weeks. Our country is like one big castle of dry rot surrounded  by lit matches. It would take so little to destroy us right now. We spend billions of dollars arming the entire world when we should be de-arming everyone and rebuilding our economy on manufacturing and inventions. We are, in my opinion, the most evil country in the world with the way we have armed both allies and enemies with every way to kill other humans under the sun since the early eighties. We have trained the armies of dictators and then trained their enemies too while they’re not paying attention.

The United States is the single largest firearms pimp of the entire world. We stand for war, killing, aggression, invading, and weaponizing.

I want us to stand for innovation, peace, great education, quality manufactured goods, and civil rights equality for all citizens. That’s a United States I would be proud of. That’s a United States I will stand up for and whose flag I -

Nope. I’ll never be a flag flyer.

The answers to how to fix our economy and country are already there in front of us but few people are brave enough to let go of their old ways of dealing with conflict. Few are brave enough to put down their weapons. Weapons are the most cowardly way to deal with ANY conflict. Cowards shoot. Cowards swing axes. Cowards punch people.

Bravery is confronting adversaries without weapons. Being willing to come together and come up with nonviolent solutions. Bravery is knowing you will be hurt in the fight but refusing to fight back.

The weakest and most cowardly people of all are those that wear masks to hide their identity while harming others. If you belong to the Klu Klux Klan you are the weakest and most cowardly of all human beings. You are even beneath snipers who shoot from hidden vantage points and at some distance. You are the lowest of the low.

Hang on, I might be wrong about that.

Those who hide their hate and poison behind corporate law might not be as low as the KKK but they are more dangerous than little boys wearing silly dunce-cones and calling themselves “knights”.

I’m tired. I’m really tired of all the hate and the shooting and the aggression and the ugly and the wars and the rapes and the trampling of peaceful people.

I am redesigning my Etsy store right now to make it into Cricket’s world. I have my salve listed and soon I’ll be listing lip balms and first aid kits. I’m also working on other things. I hope to create a really fun and cool post apocalyptic themed shop. I need to concentrate on creating to keep my spirits up. To keep my hope going. Redesigning my shop has inspired me to dig back into book 2 of Cricket and Grey. I guess I needed a really long  break and to give myself permission to step away if I need to. To take the pressure off. Making things that Cricket and Julie might make is incredibly enjoyable.

I’m not taking my eye off of what’s happening in Ferguson – my heart is with Michael Brown’s family and community. My heart is with social justice, but my actions need to be rooted in creating and making and writing. Things that generate ideas which are what we need more than weapons in this world. Ideas.

So today I’m working on an apron made from a used men’s shirt and I’m excited. I think I’ll dig into Cricket and Grey for some light editing of the second chapter later on.

Peace. Especially to those people who don’t even know when they’re being assholes. Peace to everyone.

xoxo

a

*The Israeli one, not the Scottish one.

Hemlock Veils Cover Reveal!

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This is not a sponsored post! This is the cover reveal for my friend Jennie’s book Hemlock Veils that’s coming out in November. Her book was inspired  by the forests near Portland Oregon and since Jennie loves rain and forests and fall weather it was obvious we had to be friends. Jennie is kind, funny, modest, fierce (rawr), and smart. She’s also a talented singer even though she’ll deny it if you tell her that.

If you like fairy tales being retold in fresh ways you have got to buy her book this fall. Check it out:

Hemlock Veils

by Jennie Davenport

Release Date: 11/25/14

Swoon Romance

Summary from Goodreads:

When Elizabeth Ashton escapes her damaging city life and finds herself in the remote town of Hemlock Veils, Oregon, she is smitten by its quaint mystery; but the surrounding forest holds an enchantment she didn’t think existed, and worse, a most terrifying monster. The town claims it vicious and evil, but Elizabeth suspects something is amiss. Even with its enormous, hairy frame, gruesome claws, and knifelike teeth, the monster’s eyes speak to her: wolf-like and ringed with gold, yet holding an awareness that can only be human. That’s when Elizabeth knows she is the only one who can see the struggling soul trapped inside, the soul to which she is moved.

Secretly, Elizabeth befriends the beast at night, discovering there’s more to his story and that the rising of the sun transforms him into a human more complex than his beastly self. Elizabeth eventually learns that his curse is unlike any other and that a single murderous act is all that stands between him and his freedom. Though love is not enough to break his curse, it may be the only means by which the unimaginable can be done: sacrifice a beauty for the beast.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21896322-hemlock-veils?ac=1

About the Author

jennie davenport

Though Jennie Davenport was raised throughout the Midwest, she now lives in the little desert mining town of Bagdad, Arizona, where six guys beg for her constant attention: a husband, three young, blond sons, a German shepherd with a name much mightier than his disposition (Zeus), and a black cat named Mouse. When she isn’t trying to run her home with as little casualties as possible, Jennie loves snuggling with her family, laughing with her friends, delving into brilliant entertainment of any vein, and playing outside. Despite the way being a writer is in her blood, and the wheels of her writerly mind are constantly turning, Jennie likes to think that in another life, she would have been a Broadway star. Or an American Idol finalist.

The Upward Thrust of Death

the upward angle of death

The upward thrust of death is something I’ve spent more hours thinking about than the average mortal. If you’re looking for proof of the irrationality of the death obsessed – consider my simultaneous belief that I would be dead by the age of 30 and the need for silverware to eat food with, a concern that obsessed me when I was 15 years old and planning to leave home.

I’m not in the habit of making promises I know I can’t keep. I’m not in the habit of counting seeds before storms. I’m not in the habit of counting bets before the race is over. Not in the habit of dying before I’ve had a chance to count my appointments with ghosts.

All my life I’ve been looking for my whole tribe and it’s taken stiff education to recognize them, to be brave enough to hail them, to understand that they’re always going to be different in unfathomable ways but be the same in all the ways that engender love, laughter, deep hell cleansing, and complete love. I’m so lucky to have, at this point in my life, gathered so many bright lights around me, tethered by alliances that can’t be denied or diminished. Peers, older generations, and the permeable beautiful youth that needs old hags like me to light the way to the non-partisan table of appetites and passions.

I keep wondering if I’m going to die before I do the thing I was born to do. This goes expressly against everything I believe which is:

1. We die exactly when we’re meant to die, you can’t die when you’re not meant to die.

2. Whatever it is you need to accomplish on this earth, in this life, is immaterial.

3. The only thing that matters is what you did while you had the chance.

I’ve spent so much time in the last two days cleaning up my office and throwing things out. Culling my junk. Sweeping out the dust and shittiest shit ever to hit the shit shelves. Sullied papers, blank letters, torn bits of self esteem, everything that reminds me of everything else except for the stuff that reminds me of the things I can’t bear to forget.

Been burrowing for too long not to know when I’ve hit the underground ocean, the sea-wall of underwater limitations, the line across which I have to swear and dance and tap and kick because I refuse to be held back yet again, silenced, led, and sold.

Good luck with this flesh.

 

It’s been a bloody fucking stupid day.

epic bloody nose

What a fucker of a day. Still feeling the shock of Robin Williams’ death.

Everyone keeps saying “apparent suicide” and I think this is because it has yet to be officially confirmed that it was a suicide rather than foul play or sexual shenanigans gone wrong. Because my mind is always hanging out on bad street corners it keeps wondering how people would react if it turned out he was murdered. It keeps imagining how conversations would go through sudden shifts and we’d drop all the talk about mental illness from the pseudo-helpful perspective and see it turn to blaming crazy people for all crime in the world.

It’s a fucked up world.

But my step mother commenting on my blog upset me way more and threw me off-kilter all day. She accuses of me of being an ignorant American because I dare to question Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. They live there, my biological father and she are spending time in bomb shelters lately and I imagine they are pretty scared. I don’t want anything bad to happen to them or my half brother either. But having Israelis as family members doesn’t mean I have to agree with Israel’s actions or the fact that my own government spends billions of dollars funding not only its own attacks against Iraq but Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

She missed the whole fucking point of the post.

But that’s politics and world view stuff. She accused me of picking on my biological father (her husband) and suggests I need to take responsibility for myself as an adult. This made me angry. I have had to “take responsibility” for myself at an unconscionably young age because my three parents were so busy abandoning me, neglecting me, or hurting me that I have always had to be my own parent and be responsible for my choices whether good or bad without much benefit of parental guidance. So fuck that shit. My father has had plenty of opportunity to show me who he is as a person and he HAS. Oh yes, he has. I have this to say to both him and my step mother:

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life

I let the distant past go a long time ago. But my family has the habit of throwing fresh bullshit onto the carpet the minute I have the last pile deep cleaned and purified so that I must constantly be scrubbing it out on my hands and knees.

She said other things too. Let it go. She tries to – let it go. She hates – LET IT GO. She -

LET. IT. THE. FUCK. GO.

No one’s bombs are justified. No one’s hate is justified. I do not accept.

Some people are calling Robin Williams a coward for killing himself. More bullshit in the carpet of life and all the things and people I care about. My friend Kele wrote a great post addressing suicide shaming:

On Suicide Shaming by Katherine Lampe

Pay special attention to the part about how battling depression is EXHAUSTING. I’ve been doing it for well over 30 years and most of us who’ve been battling it for a long time experience a bone-deep exhaustion at some point.

It’s been an awful day.

Tomorrow is Max’s orientation for high school. My mom has a hernia. Water restrictions are mandatory now. The IRS has sent me registered mail. We are pretty broke and so I need to put things in my Etsy shop again and try to make some extra money. The world is full of hatred and violence and finger pointing and shaming and I just want to crawl into a pile of kittens and sleep.

Which I would do if I could locate a pile of kittens and IF I DIDN’T HAVE CHRONIC INSOMNIA AND POOR SLEEP.

I made soup and I named it “fuck off assholes of the world” It’s a spicy soup made from my garden tomatoes and zucchini, corn, potatoes and pickled jalapenos. It’s amazing and throat punches assholes but nourishes everyone else.

I introduced Max to Louis CK today because he was having a shit time too. His nose was hurting pretty bad because of the scab from the cauterization. We laughed so hard it made everything feel better for a few minutes. The curative powers of making fun of dicks and jiz-smothered  cinnabons cannot be overestimated.

Also, I wore a pair of stolen socks today.*

*I didn’t steal them and that’s all I’m gonna say about it.

Learning Chivalry From a Tough Elementary School

gravestone detail

Philip told me it was raining. I went outside and it was still, the crickets said it’s still summer, but I felt no rain. I walked down the porch stairs and path and stood near the sidewalk and listened with my skin. There were drops. Light and slight, evaporating almost on contact with skin. I laid down on the cement path with my head touching the sidewalk and looked up at the night sky.

It was there, more thin drops like small points of sharp light hitting my warm skin, waking it up. I looked up at the lights on in my house and the familiar experience of being outside looking in was, for once, warm and comforting. I belong somewhere with some people. I belong here. The warmth coming from the house was everything any person could dream of.

This is grace. This is fortune. This is what it feels like to live where there is no war or bombs or excessive crime. I don’t take my fortune for granted. I never do. Every scrap of what I’ve got is cherished though I reserve and exercise the right to complain about minor things because it’s human and it’s natural and I don’t believe in saints and martyrs.

I lay there on the cement walkway with the dark grey sky spread out above me and I wished that everyone on earth could experience this quiet peace as I was able to tonight. I remember the car-jacker in our San Francisco neighborhood shooting off a couple hundred rounds of ammunition and our block being surrounded by police and in the end the only casualty was a homeless man who was killed. I mourned him and after 18 years I still think of him sometimes.

So I thought of all the families listening to missiles drop and crush their neighbors, their own children, all across the world, and I made a secular wish that they might all have what I have right now, this night of quiet and peace.

Don’t care about your race or religion – I wish with all my heart that everyone get a moment like I had tonight. It’s the most any of us can hope for but many never get. This peaceful quiet, this beautiful cessation of abrasive noise and danger.

I have renewed my vow to never be silent about things that matter. Even if it means speaking out puts me in a dangerous situation. Even if it means risking my freedom and friendships. I know who I am and what’s important and I know what silence does to honesty. I know what silence does to the abused. I know how fear fuels evil. I will not be party to it – EVER.

I understand the potential cost. I’ve felt the burn of honesty enough to know the real risks. I’m no innocent with shining armour and virtue. I know the waste of noble action and true empathy. I know what I have to lose and I know what it’s worth.

This week I was remembering the first time I experienced chivalry. I was in second grade in a tough multicultural grade school. I was the victim of frequent bullying and my things were regularly destroyed, my lunchboxes found smashed at the school fence. Kids tormented me and one even tried out her early mugging skills on me.

One day I was saving bees from the asphalt, picking them up and putting them on the weak shrubs growing at the edge of the school yard. Some kids were ridiculing me for trying to save the stupid goddamn bees and this one black boy stepped in and told them all off. I remember trying to ignore the hecklers and this knight stepped in and drew a protective circle around me and told the hecklers to leave me alone or they’d be sorry. He liked bees or me, who can say? I know that I loved him for that. I was going to pick the bees up off the tarmac and set them in the bushes even if it meant I’d be beat up for it later but this gallant older student (5th or 6th grade) became my protector and all my life I have treasured his action, treasured his championship, treasured this protection he offered in a tough school I regularly lost out in.

He didn’t do it because I was some awesome deserving kid. He did it because it was in his code to stand up for the meek, to stand up for others, to risk himself to protect people less able than himself. I have no way of knowing what ever happened to him, how life treated him as he grew up, whether he ever needed someone to stand up for him and had his own guardian or if he was let down?

I am strong now and I am strong in part because he stood up for me. I am a believer in humans because of people like him. I didn’t have much as a kid, no sense of autonomy or bravery. I lived scared shitless in my own home. This fine young man gave me a circle of safety that other students respected.

He shaped my sense of ethics and humanity, my obligation to my greater community of brothers and sisters. He showed me the way to act, to protect, to stand up and say no to assholes. Every time in my life that I’ve mustered the bravery to stand up on someone else’s behalf, he’s been in my heart and my memory.

I wish I knew his name. I knew it when I was 7 years old. I wish I could tell him what a profound effect his small action had on my sense of self and how I have worked to become a torch bearer for chivalry because he spread his cloak for me.

So this week as political opinions become increasingly hateful and divisive with regards to Israel versus Palestinians, I will  wear this memory of chivalry pinned straight through my heart because before we are organized by race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or nationality, we are all human and this is the immutable commonality that binds us all together. At the core of everything the only thing that matters is how we comport ourselves in the world, how we treat others, and our commitment to being empathetic human beings who are willing to risk our own skin to protect others regardless of their differences from us.

 

 

 

The Thing That Is Most True To Me

colorful grave lichen

I’m going to tell you the thing that is most true to me in the entire world:

It does not matter to me what color your skin is, how much money or opportunity you’ve grown up with, how fancy your language is, what faiths and weird beliefs you cherish because they nourish you and make you strive to be your best, whether you like vaginas or penises or both or neither or all of the above, how many kids you have or don’t have, what genitals you were born with or ended up with, what style of clothes you wear, or what nation you come from or fled to.

What matters to me is who you ARE. What matters to me even more than who you are is how you treat other people. Me, the people around us, the people who are different than you. What matters to me is how you treat animals and the earth that feeds you. What matters to me is action.

I may only get to know you for a few minutes and if in that few minutes you are cruel then that is how I will know you. That is what you will be to me.

None of us are perfect beings. I’m far from perfect. I’m the first to see this, to acknowledge it and embrace the fact that perfection isn’t a human condition. You aren’t perfect. I know this and this is why I believe in forgiveness and embrasure.

The thing that is most true to me is that how you act, how you treat others, the earth, animals – this tells me who you really are more than anything else. More than your badges and family names and affiliations and political tribe. Your actions are all I need to know who you are. What and who you stand up for.

What’s most true is that I believe in peace, in inclusion, in education, in love, in science, in nature, in empathy, in sharing, in exploring, in creativity, in authenticity.

I was called antisemitic last night in an ugly online discourse because I questioned how the Israeli government is treating the Palestinians. Because I do not approve of the oppression of any people by any other people. Don’t care what your global history is, don’t care what your race is, don’t care about your goddamn religion. It is never okay with me for one people to enslave or oppress in any way another people.

Period.

Full Stop.

It was wrong for my country to invade Iraq and then occupy it and kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians. Believing it was wrong for us to do that doesn’t mean I hate my countrymen/women or that I hate the individual soldiers who enlisted. I hate the military and political complex that decided to take wrongful and offensive action against another people.

It doesn’t make me anti-American. It makes me anti-violence. It makes me anti-war. It makes me anti-bigoted.

When I was called antisemitic I explained that I’m far from that. That I love many many Jewish people personally ending by saying that I have many Jewish relatives.

The person who was attacking me ridiculed this saying “that’s worse than saying you have ‘one black friend’” This felt like such a deeply personal blow. It felt like this person was suggesting I was making up “relatives” in order to sound like I have a legitimate opinion. I got angry while I was hurt. Because my (step)dad, the man who raised me from the time I was five, is Jewish. I have grown up with a strong appreciation and love for Judaism and a feeling of familial connection giving me ownership of belonging with and among a Jewish community of people.

He ridiculed me and said more hateful things.

As though loving my own dad, a man who has stood by me most of my life, more than my own fucking biological father did, is nothing. I am some white person with no right to an opinion or a point of view even though this shouldn’t even be a racial fucking issue. He wiped me out with his comments.

Then another person joined in. A white (I guess Jewish?) girl. And they ganged up on me assuming I have read nothing, assuming I haven’t been to Israel myself, suggesting that if I question what Israel is doing that I hate all Jews. Assuming, even, that I am not aware that not all Israelis are Jewish.

I kept trying to rally for some reason even as I felt gut punched.

I can’t explain the feeling in precise terms, only approximations.

It felt like I’d been drained of personhood.

How black people must feel when white people wipe them out as though they aren’t quite human and not qualified to have an opinion based on their own experiences and studies. As though they are incapable of making educated decisions because of the color of their skin.

How I felt when that asswipe chauvinist tenant of ours wouldn’t talk to me because I wasn’t the “man of the house”.

How Jewish people must have felt when the Nazis started sweeping them out of the way because they don’t matter and aren’t quite human or worthy of note, but before the mass slaughtering.

How Palestinians felt when the Jews kicked them out of their homes in Palestine and renamed it Israel.

How gay people feel when someone hurls hatred and bile on them because of how they love and play sexually and it hits them in the solar plexis of personal pain because it gets them in their personhood and then dismisses it as trash.

I will not hate black men or white women because of these two hateful people slinging shit on me at 2am on a sleepless night. I will not hate Jews because of this either.

I was up because I was already having trouble sleeping. I choked back a lot of tears, the kind I couldn’t let loose and still haven’t truly – though they keep threatening to- because once that kind start they get ugly and ragged and I hate crying even for grief.

I blocked them both. I tried to delete all trace of the conversation it was in my power to delete. To clean my heart.

I got in bed at 3am. I kept having to choke back that vile horrible feeling of someone having tried to rip away your right to think, to express, to speak, to BE. I wanted to wake Philip up to tell him but he was already having a restless night and I also knew if I woke him up my dam would break and I would hate myself later for giving in to it. I couldn’t get the hateful words out of my head. They kept washing over me reaffirming that I’m a piece of shit human being, if I’m even human.

But mostly I just felt so awful because I care about Palestinians as much as I care about Jews as much as I care about Christians and Buddhists and Atheists and Mormons and YES EVEN FUCKING SCIENTOLOGISTS* – and to be told you can’t care about one person without hating another goes against my absolute truth as a human being.

Then I got palpitations so bad that if I didn’t know what they were I would have thought I was having a heart attack. Even knowing it was just anxiety – it still scared me.

So today I’ve just been heart sick.

Fucking stupid-ass self – even writing this is making me feel it all again.

Friends have held me up today. My family is awesome. I am surrounded by a lot of love from people of different faiths, races, backgrounds, nationalities, genders, sexual orientations, and musical tastes.

Especially people of different musical tastes.

That’s where all my love goes. To people who are interested in honest discourse, acceptance that strives for total human INCLUSION.

I will never pledge my allegiance to a country or tribe of any kind where that allegiance is expected to overlook actions and ethics. I love my country but I will never be blind to the actions of our leaders or our military or our citizens.

Actions speak louder than anything else.

That is the thing that is most true.

It is for all of us to become better than our worst experiences and our worst enemies.

I’m heart sick but stapling and taping my paper-thin hope back together again as I always do every single time it’s ripped apart.

You are your actions and you are the actions you support more than anything else that defines you.

You can’t love peace while clamoring for violent action.

Act accordingly.

I leave you with this short film that sums up the conflict in Israel beautifully and succinctly, please click the link and watch it:

THIS LAND IS MINE

 *I mean, c’mon, it was made up by a science fiction writer – not sure it’s officially left cult status – but I care about the people who follow this weird religion just as much as I do everyone else.

A Big Collection of Small Stresses

43 years

Dream scrap: trying to check into a hotel, cheap hotel, tons of trouble just getting the key but then can’t find the room. Continually getting lost and people try to show it to me and they can’t find it. Then I finally get to my room and I set my things down and leave, immediately forgetting what my room number is and get lost again. It’s in a terrible place anyway and I need to meet up with my friend Richard von Busack because we’re supposed to walk to a pub to meet people. Later I’m in hotel with friends and one has a baby and the baby is trying to stand up and then falls and knocks his head and so I offer to find the hotel nurse and can’t find her, meet strange couple in the hall claiming to be hotel staff but one has a hand covered in soil or coffee grounds.

Later, my friend Sharon is in the room and her friend Colleen and they’re doing art. Colleen is making something really cool out of plastic. I have to leave and take my bicycle and Penny wants to ride in the basket but then we get a flat tire right near the room where a serial killer is staying.

A whole lot of hotel stress.

We have real money stress too. I wonder if this is related?

Hopefully the labels for my salves will be done this weekend. I need to develop my travel emergency first aid kits too.

So. Today is the first day of 3 more months of sobriety for the sake of losing weight.

Today I will not drink alcohol because of ALL THE FUCKING FAT I DON’T WANT TO CARRY ON MY BONES ANY MORE. And because I put too much back on.

I kind of want to bake some bread. An herb bread.

But I want to work on the novel too and it’s already almost 12pm.

I think I will stop buying soft cheese in a week or two to save money and lean up the cooking.

What a lot of random thinking I’m doing. No focus.

I have cavities that need dealing with and dental work we can’t afford to get done. That really stresses me out. I have to have my foot looked at and Max needs his nose cauterized and he has a cluster of warts on one toe that those wart pads aren’t working on so he wants them frozen off or whatever they do for that.

Also – while Max has really grown a lot food wise and is trying a lot of new things – he’s in his narrow part of the eating cycle right now where nothing sounds good to him and many things don’t taste good to him. Very stressful for both of us.

So I guess from the dream to everything I’ve just written, I have a large collection of minor stresses wearing me down. I suppose I better pull myself together and make the most of the next three months.  Save money, make things to sell so I can take care of the little needs and also have money to take this vacation in November.

I wonder if I should give up drinking coffee? That would be an incredible money saver. What would I drink in the morning? I can’t really conceive of how I would handle that. And with no alcohol? YIKES. Black tea is a hundred times cheaper. But that means more 1/2 and 1/2 consumption. Something to think about though. Our coffee is very expensive and I drink a pot a day. (2/3 decaf, remember, and it ends up being about 3 big cups, so put your eyes back in your head). Something to give major thought to.

Maybe just give it up during the week days since there’s no way in hell Philip will give up coffee on the weekends. That would cut out 5 days of coffee drinking. Significant savings.

Yeah. Money is tight. And yes, we could give up going out to dinner on the weekend but it’s something Philip and Max love to do together (and me too, though I don’t go out with them as often now since I don’t eat sushi or like any Japanese food) so I’d rather cut out other expenses.

Time to go feed the dog, get dressed, and nail this day. Or kind of deal with it. Or maybe just crawl through it or whatever.