I’m Definitely Not the Sound-bite Queen

notebook

I always wanted to be the radio Dee-jay (Chris) on Northern Exposure. Sometimes I think about how my blog could function like a radio program and I could dispense daily philosophical sound-bites about the lives around me. Every day I think I’m going to start doing that but then I get mired in the heavy and the dark because that’s what’s going on in the world and lives around me.

Also, I’m not that wisdomous.

In the shower yesterday I had a whole conversation in my head (though, theoretically I was having it with you) about how annoying I find it when Christians mention God’s “unconditional” love but then proceed to tell you all you have to do is “believe” and pray and not sin and if you sin you have to ask forgiveness. God’s forgiveness is only given if you ask for it. His son died so you could beg and maybe receive forgiveness, apparently. And in some Christian sects you have to “do penance”.

Those are a lot of conditions.

Fealty isn’t love. Worship isn’t love.

Then I was answering those Christians who want to know why I feel it’s okay to question their faith and pick it apart. This is the price of evangelism. All my life I’ve had Christians of one kind or another come to the door of my own home to try and convince me that their faith is the only way to be a good person. That without their faith I will perish in a pit of fire. Trying to convince me that God loves all his children equally, except for all the ones that don’t obey his rules.

All my life Christians have been shoving their religion into laws that effect everyone. They’ve infiltrated politics to a toxic degree. To a degree where a lot of people seem to think it’s a requirement for the president of the United States to be a practicing Christian.

If someone’s religious beliefs are brought to the door of my home and if their religion directs the laws that rule my daily life then I have every right to examine it, to question it, to pick it apart. If someone tells me that their belief is the ONLY way to live a righteous life, to be a good and moral person, I’m going to hold them to the standard they claim they live by, and that they claim makes them superior. Even though I know, as a rational person, that all humans are fallible.

Shove your shit in my face and I guarantee you it isn’t going to smell better than anyone else’s.

I’ve never once felt the need to question or pick apart Hinduism. I’ve never once had a person of the Hindu faith try to convince me they’re more moral than atheists or people of other faiths. I’ve never once had a group of Hindus knock on the door of my home and tell me that my way is the wrong way and that I can’t be a good person unless I worship as they do. I’ve never once had my freedom of choice threatened by the Hindu agenda. There is no Hindu agenda.

I know not all Christians are evangelists. All I can say is that the pushy members of your faith are ruining a lot of shit for the rest of you.

In the same way some asshole atheists certainly make the rest of us look like jerks too. I had no idea there are atheists out there trying to convince others to be atheists and being assholes about it. A friend told me she’s been treated to some of their shit and I said “But atheism isn’t a faith. It isn’t something you believe in. It isn’t something you convert to. There are no rules. There’s no congregation. It’s simply the word for a person who doesn’t believe in deities.” But I guess humans like to turn everything into a religion. Humans like rules and they like groups.

If all Christians tucked their faith up in their hearts and concerned themselves solely with their own life choices, their own relationship with God, and let it be the private thing religion should be – I’d never stand in the shower wondering why God, in his “infinite” love and care of his children, allows so many 5 year old’s to be raped?  Why does he allow wars to happen? Why does he allow the children of faithful Christian followers to die horrible deaths from cancer?

If that’s what infinite love looks like, I don’t need any part of that.

This is why I’m not a light radio philosopher. I can’t keep things light. I can’t keep them down to digestible sound bites.

I’ve been thinking so much about racism in my country too but I haven’t written about it much because it’s too huge, too epic, and I don’t even know where to begin. It’s important, it may be one of the most important things this country needs to address and fix and even harder than religion to sort out and heal from. I’ve been doing a whole lot of listening to what people of color are saying, talking about, and hearing their stories.

I read Frank Rich’s incredible interview with Chris Rock and this is the most brilliant explanation of race relations I’ve heard. Rock says:

“When we talk about race relations in America or racial progress, it’s all nonsense. There are no race relations. White people were crazy. Now they’re not as crazy. To say that black people have made progress would be to say they deserve what happened to them before.”

Because it IS crazy to own other human beings and abuse them and work them to death and take and sell their children and to rape them. It’s not just crazy, it’s fucking evil. And that slavery is what our country was founded on. Not morality, not Christian values, but a barbaric system of human ownership. And there are a lot of white people who never got over the civil war and never got over the civil rights movement.

“To say Obama is progress is saying that he’s the first black person that is qualified to be president. That’s not black progress. That’s white progress. There’s been black people qualified to be president for hundreds of years.”

So I haven’t been talking a lot about racism but I’ve been soaking up all the stories that are happening right now, the awful miscarriages of justice, the shooting of unarmed black people, the conversations around it all, the white people feeling defensive and trying so hard to fight against our own inevitable march towards progress.

Change happens to all of us whether we are ready or not. Whether we willingly change or wait until circumstances force us to. Boiling points are being reached in this country and one way or another, change is coming.

I’m not on vacation even though Philip and Max are. I’ve spent most of today playing with Geronimo, the semi-feral foster kitten, and writing this post. I work tomorrow. Time just slips the fuck away from me.

Lemon Blossoms Quieter Than Me

lemon blossom

As a family we’ve started down a road of volunteering to help feral kittens become adoptable. I can’t speak for Philip but I can speak for Max and I: we care more for other animals than we do for our own species. We understand and empathize with other animals more than humans. Tomorrow we’re going to a foster training and may come home with a feral kitten to care for and socialize. I imagined I’d end up working a soup kitchen as my other deepest conviction is that my hands are made for feeding people. Yet this feels most right.

I don’t know how Chick, Penny, and Pippa will feel about it, but I think in some way this will work. If not, we’ll regroup.

My garden is in chaos. I have one whole bed of sprouted garlic and one that has yet to be planted. A month and a half late. I haven’t planted any favas yet. I find I can’t get that riled about it. My day job is draining, the way they are. I don’t know what I would have done if my mom’s surgery hadn’t gone so well as it did.

I have to stop and be thankful it went as smoothly as it did.

I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t gotten the job I did.

I have to stop and be thankful for that too.

I don’t have a hard time being thankful for the small things. There are so many.

I’m cleaning out my life. I spent this evening going through sewing crap. I’m at a point where I only want to have enough supplies on hand to make my immediate projects. I don’t want a life of sewing. I want a life of writing.

I’ve been trying to get myself to sit down here since the last time I did. When I sat down tonight I had two comments awaiting mediation on posts I wrote a while ago. Posts that have resonated with quite a few people. It reminded me why I started writing in the first place. People need truth-tellers. People who will sear themselves on the grill of life as examples. People who will throw themselves into the fray and report the pain, the pleasure, the weirdness, the resulting questions.

This time of year is MINE. I’m a winter bird. This is my season. This is my weather. This is the time of year I’m most alive, most alert, most happy. I haven’t been reporting much, haven’t written much, but I’ve been alive with possibilities.

I’ve been thinking a lot about coveting, about wanting, about bitterness. I’ve been thinking a lot about how much bitterness I sowed. That I used as my soap. I understand how easy it is to succumb to a path of regret, of envy, of darkness. I’ve been there. I was there for so long. I like to think I was constantly seeking light, but because I recorded it all in real-time, I don’t have the luxury of self-deceit. It’s all here in the archives.

But for all I have sunk so low, sunk to the turbid bottom, dwelt where the silt was thick and the air scarce, I tried shedding the psychic weight at every opportunity. It took a long time. But I did it myself.

I don’t believe in regret.

A belief that has been tested again and again.

Listening to bitter people reminds me of the fruitless tree that grows in that soil.

It doesn’t matter what other people have. What luck, what opportunities appear to drop in their laps. When you focus on other people you dilute your own power. Whatever that is.

My power may never turn to gold. I’m okay with this now. My life may constantly be filled with financial stress and struggle.

It’s okay. I’m going to meet it as best as I can every step of the way, as honestly as possible. Sometimes I’m crazy-tired but I won’t give up dreaming possibilities. No part of me is perfect.

Those experiences that brought the bitter to the surface enriched my life. I wouldn’t take them back if I could. I don’t want to go back to them, though. I’m still traumatized enough that I’m afraid of dreams that take me back. But I understand why I had to go through it all.

I’m not a quiet or complacent person but I want to be a person with peace in my heart. I’ve met someone so humble, so spiritually beautiful without actually seeing herself that I have been reaching harder and asking harder where my spirit dwells and what’s in my heart. She’s got no agenda, she’s got no evangelism in her at all. She’s Hindu and vegetarian and such a beacon of light to me. She shines. She’s a bright kindred spirit.

I’m not a quiet or a complacent person but I want to be a person with love in my heart above all other things. Love that comes not from blind observance but from empathy.

I have that much to give.

On a base level I know that the reason I got the job I did is so that I could be warmed by my new friend’s light. I needed to feel that from another person. A person praying to an unfamiliar deity for the same enlightenment I seek as an atheist. I needed to hear an intelligent woman, a rational yet empathetic woman shine herself through my uncertainty.

She wears no mantle of obligation to me. She has no idea the light she’s shining on my path and I think she’d be embarrassed if I told her, if I tried to explain to her her own light. She wants no glory, she wants no spotlight. So I keep her name to myself because I don’t feel I’ll ever have permission to throw it across this page.

Finding glory is nothing, it’s meaningless. Finding your spirit mostly whole in the rubble of your toppled house is everything.

ADDED THIS MORNING: I failed to mention that part of why I have been thinking about such things as coveting other people’s material things as well as their apparent good fortune is because of a few people I’ve had to listen to lately cultivating bitterness like it’s a righteous garden. Being jealous of other people’s cars and homes as though those things are every person’s right to have in life, and suggesting that the people who have the things you wish you had don’t deserve them as much as you do or thinking they didn’t struggle enough or work hard enough to have them – it’s an ugly and unproductive view. While listening to this covetous bitterness I was reminded of my own periods of bitterness and how hard I struggled against it.

I don’t want to be one of those people who is always looking at what others have and feeling envy. I’ve talked about how hard it is to see other authors get book deals and agents and to have actual careers writing. What I’m practicing doing is a) celebrating the successes and triumphs of the authors around me, and b) keeping my feet on my own path and asking myself what steps have I taken today to get closer to my own goals?

Lastly, I am focusing on recognizing my own good fortune when it happens. This month I sold 27 salves thanks to my bit of good fortune in being included in that post on The Kitchn. When Christmas is safely past me I need to properly thank the two people who made that happen for me. It’s been such a happy rush getting new batches of salve made and sent out. It has caused me to see my way forward more clearly. I took advantage of the fresh energy around my salve and came up with some inexpensive good ideas to increase my apothecary sales and grow this into a viable source of income that would allow me to also have time to write.

Maybe it won’t pan out, but that’s not the kind of thinking I’m investing my time into. Being me, the anxiety and self doubt is always close by pushing in at my edges but for the moment I’ve been managing to acknowledge that it’s there and yet as it pushes in, I step aside and let it pass.

It’s like being the water instead of the dam. It’s about using your adversary’s energy against them instead of your own. Apparently it’s a Kung Fu kind of morning.

 

Ain’t No Melon Cool Enough

straw bubbles

Sometimes I’m swimming in a lake of moulting snakes and I feel the turbid water thickening around my ankles, pulling me down. Pulling me into the deep. Pulling me into this turbulent body that’s meant to be glassy and clean, that’s meant to be a mirror. Been feeling closer to my childhood name. Been feeling closer to my natal temperament, my hot red-faced rage at things that don’t work the way they should. Remembering the water that terrified me, remembering all that outrage, held down in such small ribs with such sharp nails.

Ain’t no melon cool enough to fix this bruise. Ain’t no space safe enough to fix this bruise. Doesn’t smart now, in this late-life hour, it’s just the grave I throw my rosemary over.  Grassy and cold, ain’t no cradle big enough to make this spirit rise again.

The moment to become anything is every moment. Doesn’t have to have trumpets to announce it, doesn’t need a royal carpet to invite you to walk to the light, or to the dark, whatever calls the loudest. Doesn’t have to come with the odor of sandalwood and roses to pull you forward. Just needs your heart still attached to your arteries, just needs your sinew still holding everything together in a piece that can give voice to the moon, to the sun, to the ghost pines weeping through city alleys.

Ain’t no song rich enough to fix this break. Ain’t no basement deep enough to hide this break. Doesn’t smart now, in this late-life hour, it’s just the grave I throw my cards across. Ain’t no cradle big enough to make this spirit rise again.

 

Secret Messages on Pancakes

tiny GJ plane

The last thing I did before waking up was write a plea on a pancake to be broken out of prison. I signed my pancake note with spun sugar. Right before that there was a strip of desert and a bunch of people hunting snakes but the last pair of people who galloped after a snake ended up killing a deer. Before that there was an epic terrible time in a small Scandinavian town in the mountains that was also connected with the ocean. I was there to visit a friend and hide out from some bad people looking for me and I sat on a bench in her shallow pool surrounded by artwork trying not to be pulled over the edge of the pool into the ocean or the abyss or some sort of death related scenario. I returned to her living room, a cramped (cozy) little bridge of a room under which you could see her garage. Which was on fire. We couldn’t put it out. It seemed certain she was going to have to relocate and I knew she wasn’t going to. There was a point where I wandered into town for some shopping but it turns out the shopping center was in Australia or New Zealand.

I truly don’t have restful dreams. Maybe no one does. At least it ended with a note on a pancake, you know?

During this week of not writing much at all, again, I did come to the realization that I need to change a few details that mean going back and making a lot of adjustments. It means more rewriting when I haven’t even gotten past chapter 11 yet. I will be working on that today so I can move on to chapter 12. The changes are good and will make the story much better. Designing a post apocalyptic prison life is harder than you’d think.

I have been doing some serious thinking on so many things these days my head hurts.

Yesterday afternoon I started having sharp chest pains and joked about my end of days, as I always do, but after a couple people tried to convince me it was either gas or heartburn, other people were more alarmed and suggested going to the doctor immediately. This fed my initial irrational fears of having a heart attack and made me question my decision to not take it seriously. I’ve had this happen before and I was fine. As a person with clinical anxiety I have to constantly find the line between hypochondria and medical neglect due to fear of just being a hypochondria. When your very first thought with every single pain or weird body thing is: IT’S PROBABLY A TUMOR THAT’S TOO ADVANCED TO OPERATE ON AND I’M GOING TO DIE, or I’M PROBABLY HAVING A HEART ATTACK AND AM GOING TO BE DEAD BY TOMORROW MORNING, or THIS IS THE DAY I FIND OUT THAT WEIRD PATCH OF SKIN IS THE BEGINNING OF MY SLOW PAINFUL DEATH BY SCLERODERMA , you learn to stop and discuss with yourself the vast unlikeliness of any of those dire reasons for the little headache or the weird rough patch of skin.

I can’t afford to go to the emergency room unless I’m so obviously sick or bleeding out that the biggest medical skeptic in the world would be scared for my life too. In my big effort not to give in to hypochondria I am sometimes at greater risk of not going to the doctor when there’s a good reason to do it. Going to the doctor and being gently laughed at for what turn out to be nothings makes a hypochondriac feel like total and utter garbage.

I’m still having the small stabby pains in my chest this morning. I don’t really know what to make of it but since there are zero other signs of problem I’m still telling myself it’s just some kind of anxiety thing. I am simultaneously considering calling the doctor on Monday to see if I should be worried for real.*

The season of artificial cheer has already filled me with the desire to rip down all Christmas decorations I come across and blast Laibach’s “Let It Be” cover album in every place I hear horrible Christmas music.

Every time Philip tells the dog to be “Calm” and repeats it over and over I get increasingly less calm.

I sold 7 salves in the last couple of days thanks to being included in The Kitchn’s list of stocking stuffers.

15 Stocking Stuffers That Don’t Suck

I’ve sold out and am making a new batch. This reminds me how much I love making potions. Doing apothecary work is deeply satisfying. This fresh batch includes some of my home grown comfrey so that’s an extra level of excitement! Oh, and some of the plantain was wild harvested by me and Max. I’m finally going to make my lip balm this weekend too. The oil infusion has been ready for weeks but I couldn’t decide on a couple of other ingredients until now. I’m going to do a peppermint and a chocolate version.

In my wildest dreams I make an actual living selling my herbal remedies and my novels. This week the fantasy is pretty healthy. It frequently dies in my heart during bouts of uncertainty and depression caused by lack of sales or interest from others. But I always bounce back. Been bouncing back from crippling bouts of self doubt since 1980.

My mom goes into surgery again on Monday. They need to fix a hernia and also move her insides around to pull her abdominal muscles back together because they have separated. I’m not scared this time around. This is a much less risky surgery than the previous ones and it’s semi-elective. The hernia isn’t hurting her now nor causing any problems – but if she doesn’t get it taken care of, it’s a time bomb.

It’s been raining a lot in the last two weeks and I love it. I LOVE IT! I hope we get a lot more. I’m greedy for rain. GIVE ME ALL THE RAIN.

It’s time for me to sign off and prepare to get some writing done before switching gears to make potions. I hope you all are having a great Saturday!

Know someone with a bad case of book ennui? I have the solution! Get them a copy of Winter; Cricket and Grey:

Need a great wound salve on hand? Winters Apothecary 3x strength wound salve is the best one you can buy!

3x Wound Salve

*Do NOT attempt to diagnose me, or alarm me, or in any way interfere with the delicate balance I’m trying to achieve between my mental illness and my body.

A Thanksgiving List: 2014 Edition

window view GJ

It’s Thanksgiving today, my very favorite holiday. I don’t like how it originated so I don’t celebrate its origins (celebrating the abundance the first illegal immigrants stole for themselves from the current citizens right before obliterating them all with firepower and disease, lies and savagery)

women in waders

Helloooooo Colorado, baby! What I wouldn’t give to see this calender full of men in waders and their underwear. Not because I like to see men in their underwear, I don’t, but because I’m a seeker of balance in the universe.

The reason I love Thanksgiving is because it’s a day previously set aside to gather with loved ones and be thankful for whatever it is you have, however little or much. Like all holidays, it comes with a sting to those with no food and no shelter and no family. Unlike other holidays, it’s easy to include the wanderers, the lonely, and those with less than yourself. It’s easy to gather people in and share. It’s secular, it’s classless, and if you embrace the spirit of it instead of the origins of it – it’s raceless too.

Naturally, the beauty of this day has been increasingly diminished and swallowed whole by the nasty materialistic voracious appetite of Christmas. Just another proof of the evil that happens when a country embraces its political structure as a religion. Capitalism destroys everything sacred eventually.

I will not let all that bullshit ruin my enjoyment of this day. Those of you who participate in shopping today and tomorrow are temporarily dead to me. I have no space for anyone who shits on something meant to be simple, peaceful, and un-materialistic.

Here, then, is my official list of things I’m thankful for right now.

An Exhaustive List of the Things I’m Thankful for Right Now:

Kitchen faucets. That’s right, a lot of people in the world do not have this simple luxury and when you don’t have one you discover just how awesome having a kitchen faucet is. It’s fucking brilliant to have running water in the same room you prepare your food.

Coffee, bitches! I’m thankful for coffee. Hurts fewer people than the dirty diamond trade does but is still a luxury I enjoy that’s very hard on the planet. If I had to choose between having diamonds (what?! I love diamonds! Just because I have very few of them and don’t mind having very few of them doesn’t mean I don’t “ooh” and “ahhhh” when I see a really fine piece of diamond jewelry) or keep drinking coffee, I would pick coffee every time.

My little family.  I like having a small family. Today it’s just me, Philip, Max, and my mom with a short visit from one of my closest friends, Chelsea. We rarely cook the traditional foods and we eat late. We do what we want. I love my little family so much!

My friends. I am rich with friends and that is something I never take for granted. I’m not always the best friend a person could ask for but I truly do my best to be there for mine when I’m not mired in my own crap. Thank you all who stick with me even through the thick black mud of chronic depression!

Wild turkeys. The appreciation is mutual as they can sense I don’t picture them in my oven slathered in butter roasting in their own juices. We have a lot of wild turkeys here in Santa Rosa and I love them. I look forward to seeing them and when I do I stop and chat. It’s nice not caring what other people think. Turkey’s are huge fascinating birds that could claw your eyes out with a single swipe. I mostly think none of you deserve to eat such majestic birds if you aren’t brave enough to look a wild one in the eye and catch it with your bare hands. They also make hilarious sounds. Seriously, any day I run into the wild ones is made infinitely better by them.

Having a job. I don’t want to have to have a job outside of my home and my writing. It’s okay if my bosses see this. It’s  natural to wish that I could spend all my time doing the things I most want to do. BUT – we were in a pretty bad way recently, trying to keep up with bills and necessities. I even went a few days without coffee just to save some money and getting work in this economy is really tough for old broads like me. I’m so thankful I got a job working with excellent coworkers.

My potato-doneness-checking fork. The thing about having OCD, even a mild case of it as I have, is that objects can become singularly important in your daily life without you meaning for it to happen. I have a potato-doneness-checking fork now. I didn’t before. It makes me laugh at myself, which is good. I tried using a different fork to test the doneness of my potatoes and couldn’t. That’s right: COULDN’T. A lot of aspects of having OCD aren’t funny, but this one is. I have a dedicated potato-doneness-checking fork, DO YOU?

The Daily Show. I’m really mad every time they go on vacation. Because I’m selfish and need them to help me laugh through the horrors of the world I live in. They take an unconscionable number of vacations.

Social Media. That’s right, I’m thankful for social media. Without it I wouldn’t have access to so many other points of view outside my own and those of my small community. I wouldn’t get to hear about the issues and struggles people experience in different parts of our country, from different cultural backgrounds, and to hear directly from people of different races and nationalities. My understanding of my fellow human beings is greater because of this direct access to other people’s personal stories. I have done a lot more listening in the last few years than ever before. My life is richer for it, my ignorance slightly less appalling.

Water. You all know I love beer almost more than life itself, but a little known fact is that I also drink a lot of water. A LOT. I love drinking water. I have a pitcher through which I filter it. So many people in this world do not have access to clean water. Many people have limited access to ANY water. It’s one of the most important life-giving resources and I recognize how lucky I am to have constant access to it even living in a state that’s in the middle of a major drought.

Television shows. I still don’t have cable but we have Hulu, Netflix, and Acorn. Between these three outlets we have access to a lot of television shows. I love television. You people who proudly claim to not watch or like TV, good for you.* These days most television shows are, in my opinion, better than most movies  being released. Right now I’m re-watching The Gilmore Girls. I’m about to be temporarily burnt out on it so I’ll probably start rewatching Fringe. I woke up thinking that the perfect show for Thanksgiving is the last season of Fringe. Post Apocalyptic fiction goes really well with a day of thanks.

My mums. My mom is a wild and rare person. She’s creative, loving, and has a generous spirit. She’s also really weird and to keep things real – she has been known to drive me a little nuts from time to time. I can tell you that I have also been known to drive her nuts from time to time as well. Today is her birthday. I am thankful to my mom for raising me with a broader sense of spirituality than most of my peers were raised with. I’m thankful that my mom accepts that I’m different from her and is gentle with me regarding my foibles and shortcomings. I’m thankful that my mom has embraced Max’s weirdness too. That she spends time with him on his terms and they laugh and enjoy each other. I’m thankful that my mom loves Philip so much. Sometimes it’s really irritating, but mostly it’s wonderful. I’m thankful that my mom helps us out in every way she can. I’m thankful that she’s one of the biggest fans of my novel. I’m so fucking lucky to have the mom I have. Happy birthday mom!!!! I love you!

Dental floss. BEST INVENTION EVER. Maybe better than electricity. I would rather live by gas lights and candles than live without dental floss. This is the number one modern product I intend to stock-pile if I ever get crazy enough to start stock-piling things against the possibility of an apocalypse.

Avocados. Perfect food. I miss them. I haven’t had one in weeks. I am having withdrawals now. I need some fucking avocado back in my life! WHY ARE THEY SO EXPENSIVE RIGHT NOW?

Beer. I wish it was the 12th century when people were sometimes paid in ale because water was so undrinkable (you know, because of all the dead bodies floating in it and such). I don’t really wish it was the 12th century. That was not a nice period of time. The architecture was pretty great. The clothing was pretty weirdly cool. One of the worst times to be a woman, though.

A still house. No, not a still. Oh, sorry, I’m stuck on the medieval theme now. People used to have still houses where they dried their herbs, brewed alcohol, made medicine. Cadfael had one. Fictional characters get all the best shit. I am kind of turning my office into a still house. Sort of. Maybe this coming year I’ll clear out more craft stuff to make more room for herbs and dried flowers and potions.

Books. One of my first loves in life. Books are still one of my very favorite things and I’m thankful that people still write them, all kinds of them. I’m thankful people still read them. Not just fiction but nonfiction. We need our histories and our instructional books. We need all the road-maps to our humanity that books preserve for us. Book burning is one of the most evil things humans can do. Snuffs out shared knowledge, stories, perspectives. I want more diversity in books, more of the whole world in books. Books are powerful. If they weren’t, people would never burn them.

And now it’s time for me to get dressed and clean the kitchen and make some food. This has been my meditation of thankfulness. I hope you all have a fantastic day, full of love, shelter, food, and friends.

*Also, stop being pretentious whores.

Magic Happy Shrimp Sex

more desert

The only thing that has the power to make me sentimental is the late-night trifecta: beer+(the right) music + a late late hour.

Flying over endless desert made me incredibly uncomfortable on my trip to and from Colorado. The desert is my mental and emotional hell. It’s dry, hot, empty. Barren of the things that bring comfort and sustenance but is full of snakes, spiders, and scorpions. What the fuck kind of person finds their spirit calling out in such a desolate death farm?

I suppose deserts make a lot of people see, for the first time, through the wrong end of the telescope to discover how small they are and discover God in that smallness. I don’t consider myself a particularly lucky person but perhaps in this one way my life prepared me early for the fact that we’re all specks of nothing against the endless awe-inspiringly epic backdrop of a few thousand/million/trillion solar systems.

Doesn’t  mean shit to me spiritually. I’m always thinking about the spiders, snakes, and scorpions milling around just out of sight.

Wearing striped socks distracts me from the vastness of the universe.

Just before I come home from work every day I have this moment when I hear all the things I need to write, when I feel the elusive words slipping down from the attic that I was grasping for when I was sitting in front of my screen on my day off. I try to hold onto them in the last hour before I head home hoping that I can run inside and transcribe them all like gospels. But the second I walk through the door all the clear strong words evaporate like morning fog, immaterial, barely relevant compared to my son’s immediate need for food.

I forget to settle back into the minutiae. You think the story is in the wide heroic actions, but I always find it in the pancake batter crusted on the fork left in the sink, hard as plaster and as appetizing as eviscerated trash. I don’t care about the large gestures as much as I care about the way a room smells the moment your heart shatters, or all the moments a lover isn’t thinking about sex, or the last onion frying in the pan.

I’m struggling hard to reconcile my day job with my family obligations and the obligation I have to my writing. I came here to my blog tonight because I remembered just in time that this is the chronicle of it all. Of everything. The good, the bad, the ugly.

I have come to treat it as the place I shed my political skin. The place I shed my socially conscious skin. The place I shed my spiritual skin, such as it is. I have made a bad habit of forgetting the real purpose of this virtual space of mine. This is an ongoing letter of sorts, a ceaseless note to self.

NOTE TO SELF:

The Wilson verdict in Fergason is depressing, predictable, and despicable. I stand with the protesters for justice in Fergason in spirit and in belief. I know I’m white and as such I’m part of the epic problem in this nation, at least symbolically. But in reality I am always going to stand up with my fellow humans of all races, nationalities, sexual orientations, and genders for equality, for civil rights. And I’m not afraid to get hurt doing it if that’s what’s called for from me.

The desert makes me feel parched of hope and vision.

The only reason I am able to travel by plane at all is thanks to my anxiety medications.

VIVA LA MODERN MEDICINE!

Last time I flew without the aid of SSRIs I nearly disintegrated into a feral puddle of claustrophobic panic and disorder. I was certain the flight attendants were withholding water from me on purpose and trying to kill me with cookies loaded with enough thirst-inducing sugar to fuel a rocket.

I can’t choose between “Cracked Actor” and “Loving the Alien” tonight.

I’ve already listened to Miley Cyrus while writing this so please feel free to judge me harshly for being – I don’t know what – a philistine? A music junkie? A person without taste?

Also: FUCK YOU.

Listening to “Loving the Alien”  makes me smell “Paris” perfume and hear the purr of Mercedes Benz motors stretching down the highway through Marin County.

Listening to “Win” reminds me of wool “Willi Smith” trousers, socks printed with Chinese characters that probably spelled things like “Magic Happy Shrimp Sex” and “You Dumb Americans Will Buy Anything”. It reminds me of discovering San Francisco as a 15 year old. Let loose while my mom went to job interviews, I remember the fog and the smell of Macy’s. I remember feeling like I was HOME for the first time in years. The same way I felt when I arrived in Scotland.

Scotland and San Francisco are still the only two places that have made me feel that visceral sensation of being HOME. Being where I simply AM.

I love Santa Rosa and I feel at home here and I hope I never  need to move away again. It feels like home now, but not in the same visceral way as San Francisco and Scotland always feel.

I don’t regret moving out of SF. Not after the 200 rounds of ammunition were shot out a block from my last apartment there. And other shootouts. And other violent noises and daily city aggressions.

This post feels like one long slow bleed. It’s because I’ve written so little in so long.

“Five Years” is the perfect way to end this night.

The only thing I miss about my youth is how brilliantly I wore vintage men’s suits.

I have myrrh should anyone’s life depend on it.

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This is the fourth week at my new job. I’m still scrambling to adjust to my new schedule that includes 20 hrs of working outside the home. I’ve started (and then stopped) riding my bicycle to work. I have only stopped because this week I’m preparing for a weekend trip over which I’m pretty spastically excited because I haven’t taken a trip of any kind for 3 years. I’ll resume riding my bicycle to work next week.

I’m most looking forward to hanging out in the airport, staying in a hotel room and watching crap tv, meeting my friend Kele, not having to worry about anyone but myself, hogging a bed all to myself, being alone, people watching, writing field notes, drinking everywhere (you can judge all you want and it will deflect off of me like water off a duck’s back), seeing a new place, being alone, change in routine, being el mysterioso woman abroad who rocks a beret, knowing that I’m a person who has myrrh should anyone’s life depend on it.

I’ve joined NaNoWriMo and I still hate that name after all these years hearing about it.

I’ve chosen to work on my idea for “The Nightmare Club” for it. The main character is Perla who looks a lot like Jasika Nicole. This work is close to my heart. It’s what haunts me. It lives inside of me. Perla starts a club for people who suffer chronic nightmares like she does to discuss the psychology of nightmares and to be around other people who understand what it’s like to suffer from them.  But when a member of The Nightmare Club is murdered and elaborately staged in a scene from one of the nightmares shared with the group, suspicion settles on the members of the group and everyone wonders it they’re next.

My online friend John is reading Cricket and Grey and has said such encouraging things about my writing that I had to open up my own book and read a little to believe the good things he said. My favorite scene in the whole book is the first kiss (chapter 10) and I believe it’s because of the scarlet and peaches line. Summer coming before the spring. Another writer acquaintance of mine read my novel recently and also said such kind and encouraging things – it isn’t that writers are necessarily vain motherfuckers, they need some perspective that only readers can give them. The bad things help them grow if they’re willing to listen and the positive things reinforce their passion.

My passion is reignited.

Not that it was out.

But it’s been so hard to write lately with all the changes going on, adjustment to working outside the home again, writing endless emails on Max’s behalf, doing an endless daily mountain of dishes. I have but one professional life’s ambition. I don’t let go willingly. I wrote 1600 words today. It wasn’t easy to push myself but I’m glad I did.

Shit. I’m listening to the soundtrack to Bridget Jone’s Diary. I used to blast this as loud as my stereo would crank it while I cleaned house and I would sing to every song (poorly) and feel so happy. But there’s a song missing. I wonder if it’s from a different soundtrack? Can’t figure out what I’m looking for that isn’t here.

Let it be.

Let it be.

Let it go.

Two days until I get to sit in an airport and pretend to be anyone but myself and no one will know. No one will question.

I get to write myself completely new.

28 Semi-random Thoughts on a Thursday Night

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(This episode of #fieldnotes captures my week in emails perfectly.)

1. I’m thinking in list mode. Every thought is part of a list that’s part of a greater list that’s part of a series of lists that makes up the master-list of my life.

2. I smell like cedar and roses and contemplate my tombstone options: She Were Woodsy ‘n’ Shit, Fought the Good Word Fight and Lost, Saw Your Soul Through Your Underoos, Bitch-Slap Incarnate.

3. Settle on “Bitch-Slap Incarnate” and wonder what I should say in my own ghost eulogy.

4. Spent so much time writing emails to the high school on Max’s account. Constantly trying to find the justice between my wild child’s poor behavior and the poor behavior of his teachers and an institution so denuded of financial support there’s little room for individual thought or need. Here is my child hungry for learning, hungry for discussion, debate, hungry to fill his head with facts… and two of his teachers have raised my IRE by being pretty shitty in the communication and teaching department.

5. This week’s emails to Max’s school has inspired in me the desire to write a handbook for Max on how to not be an inadequate adult.

6. I have always enjoyed instructions on how not to be things. They strike me as being more honest than guides that promise BEING things. “How Not to be a Douche-Copter”. “How Not to Win at Life”. “How Not to Crush Other Human Spirits”. “How Not to Kill Your Enemies”.

7. My hands have been going numb a lot lately. It’s probably carpal tunnel syndrome.  Or stage 4 cancer of my hope.

8. It gets increasingly difficult to hope for anything in the face of war, guns, hatred, racism, general and other specific types of bigotry, hatred, bloodshed, firearms, greed, power-hungry fuckers, desecration of earth.

9. Watched a fierce documentary about tribes deep in the jungles of Papua New Guinea and was stunned with the gorgeousness of untouched humans. Then pissed as fuck because misogyny seems to have been the first bigotry humans ever cultivated.

10. And then I see the penises wearing sharp horns and for the first time in my life I understand the innate power of pasties.

11. How much cooler would strippers be if they replaced their pasties with horns!?

12. I can’t process people thinking that killing other people’s family members is a just price for their own freedoms. It’s nothing more than sanctioned murder. Murder or genocide, depending.

13. There are people in this country who wonder how a person without faith in God can possibly have a strong moral center. I want to punch them for being such ignorant fuckers, but I don’t because my moral code dictates that punching people is a violation of their personal safety and is wrong even if they’re confirmed ass-wipes. My moral code dictates that I behave in a manner that promotes peace and respect, or at least peace.

14. Forgiveness is both a decision and a process. Forgiveness is something you choose and then practice because it takes time to achieve. To not forgive is a determination made by an individual to hold onto resentments, anger, hurt, pain. It isn’t necessary. It’s a choice we make at so many points in our lives. To not forgive is to nurture toxic clusters of pain in a willful manner.

15. I’m pretty sure Max’s English teacher is choosing to hang onto the belief that he intentionally hurt her. From my communications with her it sounds a bit like a manifesto to hold him accountable for an old pain he didn’t even know existed. She won’t even fucking talk to him about how he hurt her feelings, like a fucking teenaged girl.

16. If she hangs on long enough she can become a nail-and-hammer carrying martyr.

17. When I was growing up my parents somehow managed to instill in me (against my will) some deeply Buddhist principles. I find this amusing. An ex-Catholic and an ex-Jew had us kids “Ohming” at their Buddhist alter in a family circle so many times and I rolled my eyes and railed against their “fake” religion and yet, and YET, it seeped deep under my skin so pervasively I could never actually disconnect myself from the basic principles of it.

18. Still, I am nothing. Nothing in particular. Nothing organized.

19. I will never align myself with dogma.

20. My biggest non-secret is that I despair for the human race every single day of my life but also harbor such unwarranted hope for humans and I resent it every time they disappoint me, show that my hope is misplaced, make me ashamed. Then I wake up and it’s there, like a buoy, this inextinguishable hope for us all. It’s what I try to crush after every disappointment. After every act of cruelty, every injustice, every crime against humanity. I try to crush it because it costs me too much. I can’t afford it.

21. I am a paradox of treasuring order, rules, morality AND acceptance of chaos, individuality, and circumstance.

22. I have forgiven my aunt for what she did to my mom. I won’t invite her back into my life, because I’m not masochistic or stupid, but when I search my heart I find zero resentment or bitterness there for her. I wish her no ill. I hope for all the best for her. Not the fake pretending to forgive version. I told her I would forgive her because I believe in forgiveness. But I also told her it might take a long time.

23. Forgiveness is a process. A process I constantly engage in and hope that others do too because I’m a deeply flawed human being and make mistakes and commit social gaffs on a pretty near constant basis.

24. Some people might say that I believe in idealistic hippie peace crap. I don’t believe in fairies, magic, or God. I believe, when pressed, in nonviolence, harmony, love, peace, but powered by the proof Gandhi provided that nonviolence can, in fact, topple a continent infected by oppression.

25. Okay, yeah, I’m hippie spawn. The world needs us, us children of the pot-smoking bone-fide protesters of the previous generation as the origin story of our super-powers.

25.5. That last sentence is one hell of a mess but I’ve decided to leave it as it is.

26. I have the thick, wide, iron-clad thighs of Black Panther, but I wear red lipstick when provoked.

27. If you don’t have the imagination for peace and forgiveness, you’ve let your river of pain take over your shores and it will suck your heart into darkness.

28. A big game hunter followed me on Twitter and I want to yell at him for being such an asshole of a human being. I hope the elephants and tigers and bears and rhinos hunt his game-ass down and share pictures of him on a plaque with their facebook friends.

 

The Good Noise

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I declared an intention I didn’t fulfill. I was going to drag John out of his case and play the crap out of him even if I can’t remember shit. Instead I went back to work and didn’t have time. It’s been too long. I admit I’m scared the note memory has fled the building and all I have left is a bewildered fuzzy memory of being able to play some songs.

If this is true then my epee thrust is also wanting.

(Things I used to practice and commit to the twilight driveway lined in ivy and buzzing with wasps)

Keokuk Street. Books. Musty garage smell. Pill bug highway. Vases of lilacs on the solid oak big-cheese desk. Playing “O Sole Mio” for the bread dough rising in the garage we called the kitchen. Chasing toxic childhood ghosts from my life. Grouting a doorway while Cash complained of Folsom Prison Blues and Mahalia was five times more proud than me.

I don’t work tomorrow. Max goes to school. Philip goes to work. It’s important to try to remember the notes I used to see in my mind. It’s important to reclaim the madness, the good madness, the good noise.

An Infinite Synonym for Shapes

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Many years ago I was a poet in work boots, wool coat, and creepy fur pillbox hat. I believed writing was the key to the universe and the flickering neon sign “Jesus is the Light of the World” that I could see from the window in my cramped one bedroom apartment if I turned my head sideways at an uncomfortable angle was the period at the end of every sentence. I didn’t have to look to feel it there and for my bones to laugh at the spectacle of Jesus not affording good bulbs like everyone else in the Tenderloin.

I have always been a pessimistic optimist.

Or an optimistic pessimist.

Two sides of the same conflicted coin.

I’m listening to Pete Seeger singing “We Shall Overcome”*. I believe I was born singing this in the cruel corners of the One World Family Commune in Berkeley California into which I was born. I must have dreamed the words in my anonymous little cubby on the wall of children’s beds, pretending I didn’t know there was a predator among us.

The words of peace have stuck in my heart.

Words of peace so at odds with the darkness that periodically subsumes me. That also subsumed a few of the unfortunate children who were molested around me. How I was spared when my 5 year old best friend wasn’t I will never know. Might be because I had a reputation for screaming like the devil when upset.**

All these years later and my first language still informs everything I think and write: poetry. My poetry, alone, is not sublime or award-worthy. It was merely my first language. Before English, I understood how color is memory, how scent is emotion, how shape is an infinite synonym for other shapes. I think in abbreviated sentences, sometimes staccato, sometimes soft. Poetry breaks rules and makes rules simultaneously.

Pete Seeger leads me back to Dylan. My favorite Dylan song of all time is “Girl From the North Country” sung with Johnny Cash. I could never be all Death Rocker because of Cash and Dylan. I could never be all anything because of them.

Not long before I’m off my childhood charts.

Today I got a job. You know when you need something desperately and it never materializes? You smash your head against the universe and it continues to close the door on your skull again and again and again until you haven’t got enough bone left to lose?

This wasn’t like that. I had that little nervous breakdown a lot of people witnessed and then I saw this listing on Craigslist. It sounded perfect. An essential oil company here in town needing skills I have? Paying probably enough to make our ends meet? I submitted my funky resume with my earnest cover letter, the way I DO, and waited. I had no faith. Because life has taught me to be cautious and not hope overmuch.

I got the call. I got an interview. I wasn’t scared. I don’t know why as I’m a worrying kind of person in such situations. It felt right the minute I read the listing. It felt right the minute I met the people interviewing me. To the point where I had the strange urge to hug them. I wanted to say “LET’S GET ON WITH THIS PARTY BECAUSE I’M GOING TO WORK MY ASS OFF FOR YOU AND IT’S GOING TO BE GREAT!”

Today I got the position provisionally. For the next week I will work and if they like me and I like them – I will get the job officially.

Nothing feels more right than this.

I want to say that the only thing that would feel more right than this is not needing a part time job at all. But you know when you can feel that an experience is necessary? That whatever is coming is important to you in some way, even if you can’t know how yet? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you wish life could be when you’re dreaming, what we need are experiences that shape us, that help us grow, and enrich us in one way or another. Every job I’ve ever had has given me more experience, more interaction, more stories, and more language.

It always comes back to poetry if I’m willing to see it. If I’m willing to acknowledge it. The mother tongue. The place everything started. My original language.

I haven’t had a pair of work boots in too many years. It bothers me. I have foot problems now and I can’t afford them. But I am, in my soul, a boot girl. Not a fancy boot girl, a work boot girl. I love wool and berets and pea coats. I love eyeliner and red lipstick. I love Scotland and winter. I love trains and other slow transportation. I love efficiency and mail, possibly oxymorons now. I love Fleetwood Mac and Beethoven.

I love dancing to music that’s blasting so loud I can hear it under my own skin.

Tomorrow I’m going to open my damn accordion after I get off work and I’m going to make some incomprehensible noise for the pure joy of it.

*My friend Kele is responsible for reuniting me with this track.

**My nickname in the commune was “Devilina”