Inertia, Garden Talk, and My Bicycle

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Don’t dew drops look so refreshing? Like little siplets of water for fai-

Dudes. I’m so tired all the time these days. That whole spoon thing? WHAT THE FUCK ARE SPOONS, ANYWAY?!* I don’t feel depressed in an emotional way but this level of inertia is indicative of a depressive cycle. I think somewhere between forgetting to take my meds frequently since getting a day job and the fact that in my job I must talk to humans on the phone all day my energy level has hit a patch of zero gravity and is floating somewhere just out of my reach.

It’s also exhausting trying to spend more time not drinking alcohol. It takes way more effort than you can imagine if you’re not me.

What I tell other people with chronic depression is that even though you can’t lift your  body out of your chair or out of your bed and you know for fact that even if you could get up, doing so will render you into a pile of useless insensate fleshy matter, you have to try. If you don’t make the attempt you will absolutely sink deeper and deeper into the dark place of no return. That’s what I tell other people.

So that’s what I’ve been telling myself. I try not to be the kind of person who gives advice I don’t follow myself because those people suck. I know that one of the best ways to combat inertia is to push through it, to get your body moving. So last week I walked to work one day. It honestly felt fantastic. A couple of days later I walked to work again but got a ride home. As I expected, my feet hurt all weekend, but whatever. I also gave my bicycle a test ride. I haven’t ridden in in ages because the last three times I rode it my tires went flat. Flat bicycle tires are a real set-back to forward motion. I rode my bicycle to work the day before yesterday and dropped it off at the shop on my way home because the gears have been slipping and that’s kind of freaky and not awesome.

I’m not going to lie, the thought of walking to the shop down the street to pick up my bicycle sounds absolutely exhausting, it felt good to move this past week. I know that if I ride my bicycle a few days a week it will help me break through the inertia without making my feet scream. So I’ll walk down there and ride my bicycle back and I’ll feel good afterwards.

We’re also getting 3 yards of compost delivered today. I got all my bare root plants last weekend. I got a Morello sour cherry tree (to match my other one), a Strawberry Free white peach, a Pink Pearl apple, 3 pomegranates (Wonderful, Sweet, and Desertyni**), and 3 table grapes (Thompson, Flame, and Black Corinth). All of them need planting this weekend. It’s also time to do winter pruning on my roses and fruit trees. That takes energy.

Everything takes energy. Jesus. Except for drinking coffee. Making coffee takes energy but at least drinking it gives you back some of it. I love coffee.

I also love rain and so far we’ve had a pretty rainy winter. It’s such a relief after so little rain in the last few years. I’ve gotten so much sweet rain on my garden that my lettuce bed is doing fabulously well. Have a look for yourself:

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I haven’t been able to get really good lettuce going in the whole time I’ve been back in California. What’s managed to grow has been bitter and gone to seed quickly from the heat and insufficient watering due to drought. But for the last two weeks Max has been eating ham sandwiches with lettuce on them that I grew in the garden. So fucking satisfying! This lettuce is sweet and tender. I’ve also got corn mache*** growing in there. Last year the corn mache I grew was still small when it went to seed so I never tasted it. I love it in my salad mix! You might also have noticed my shallots in there? I didn’t think they were going to come up at all because they took so long but at last! There they are.

I’ve got a bunch of wild flower seedlings coming up that I spread in late fall. I can’t wait for them to bloom! I do have a blooming calendula right now but it’s one that self seeded from my plants last year. Though I noticed that I’ve got calendula seedlings everywhere I put wild flower seeds too because it’s part of the mix. I love how a small garden can yield so much pleasure for so little effort. I mean, setting the whole thing up took some effort but the lettuce that’s giving so much pleasure now literally took 5 minutes to sprinkle the seeds and scratch them into the soil. Because of the rain I haven’t had to water at all. Now I have a bed full of baby lettuce to pick. The wildflower seedlings? Same thing. A couple of minutes to scatter them, a couple of minutes to scratch them into the soil.

I just saw a goldfinch on the hedge across from my window! The birds are very busy in the neighborhood this morning. It’s such a wonderful noise. I wish I was a bird.

It’s time for me to get dressed. Drink more coffee. Get out in the yard for a few minutes before I melt back into the haze of inertia that swallowed me whole.

 

*That’s the precise number of spoons I have.

**People who name plants piss me off sometimes. What a stupid name. As though adding a “y” in there makes it exotic or cool. I got it in spite of its stupid name because the lady at the nursery says it grows well here and has gotten rave reviews from everyone she knows who’s tried it. What can I say? I bought her sales pitch.

***On my seed packet it was called “corn mache” but Wikipedia indicates that it’s generally called corn salad OR mache (or any number of other names, the list is long) but not corn mache. Whatever, sticklers, it’s delicious!

No Wrong Way to Say Goodbye

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There’s a lot of ways we dig graves for the people we used to be, for the people we have loved, for the lives we’ve left behind, and for the thresholds we’ve crossed stitched together with nothing more than booze and frayed embroidery stitches holding our bones up. We dig deep into humus until we reach the hard packed soil underneath, until we hit rocks and flint and moon. We dig until we see the same stars in the dark abyss that we see in the burgeoning night sky.

There’s no wrong way to say goodbye, so let the velvet drapes hang heavy across your mourning, shutting out the thin grim air of death. Cover yourself in wreaths of old roses rich with the incense of crumbling castles shrouded in cool mists you can wear like clothes in your waking dreams. Go ahead, draw and quarter your misery until it has nothing left to scream or bleed. Paint it with blue woad and strike its tatters down until you’re empty of it all.

If you hear the scattering of spirits like raindrops on a tin roof, if you feel the brush of ghost butterflies against your cheek and you need to press it between thin pages of rice paper so it will be preserved in the soft book of time for others to open and discover for themselves in reverent breaths, no one will think less of you. There are as many ways to say goodbye as there are ways to love.

Black band, lavender silks, cascading veils of grief, or candles burning through the night; every urge you have, every instinct that pushes you forward through the dark towards the light is natural. Prostrate yourself against old gravestones or drink yourself half to death if it’s how you need to drag yourself over the finish line.

We all get there in exactly the time it takes us.  If anyone tells you it isn’t fast enough, or you aren’t strong enough, or you aren’t sad enough, or you don’t cry enough, or you don’t pray enough, or you don’t care enough, or you aren’t doing it right: shut them out. Power them down. Sometimes saying “fuck yourself” is the best way to say goodbye.

Wail against the walls that hold you in, shred your nails against the coffin suffocating your sleep, punch fate in the jaw like it tried to grab your bare balls when you thought you were naked alone. Let your underbelly be your strength, let your play be your vocation, let your love push through every grave life digs for you. Rise up through every burial to fly with the mourning doves over branch, under twig, through leaves, until you’ve cleared the canopy of life on earth and exited the atmosphere.

You might not cry tears but at some point you’re going to feel shredded by loss. You’re going to stand out in a thunder storm, drenching and shivering in the cold, and you won’t be able to move or think rationally, and you’ll think you’ll never be able to come in from the wet cold. But you will. Hands will draw you home. Sometimes the hands of strangers, sometimes the hands of those who love you.

I hope when the moment comes to say goodbye you’ll dance and laugh and shriek with joy out in the thick drape of rain. I hope you’ll find the light in the gloom and laugh at the dark that shrinks in your light. I hope you’ll wear your sorrow unapologetically and light votives for fleeing spirits to find their paths home. I hope you’ll come with me to the cantina of the dead and waltz through the empty neighborhoods in our shared nightmares so that we both wake fresh and ready for everything we’ve got left.

 

Krill As Pets and Other Nightmares

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If you look really closely at this picture, and you have spent over $100,000 on a medical degree or you’re a clairvoyant, I bet you can see the shadow of death in my eye already. There’s probably evidence of type 2 diabetes to the naked professional eye.

What I see is that I need to get my eyeliner game up 10 notches and stop taking pictures of my eye bags at 11pm.

The only death I’m not afraid of is one I’m in control of.

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If I was a musician I would either be a classical pianist or a Chinese hip hop artist. No contest, no in-between.

The human population most in need of moral support, in my opinion, are those of us who suffer from mental illness and those of us who suffer contact with other human beings.

I wanted to wear a black band for Bowie but my black band doesn’t fit me anymore because my arms have tripled in size since Myrna Loy and my racist misogynist grandpa Tom died. I haven’t had the heart or energy to make a new one. I feel guilty about this because I didn’t cry when Myrna Loy or my grandfather died. Even though I loved my asshole grandfather. I didn’t cry when he died.

I’m not winning my personal battles, in case any of you are keeping score. I’m losing big time and part of me is crushingly scared. The other part of me knows that this is just part of whatever my legacy and life are supposed to be. I’m sad. I’m sad I’m not the person I was 20 years ago in many respects, but in other respects I’m so much better now even with my dreadful failings and losing of personal battles that may result in my death.

My nightmares last night were awful and lingering. Not vividly or specifically, they have lingered insidiously without specific shape, sound, or words. All I know is that there was an unconventional school library and neighborhood I was traveling through and hiding in that felt bone rippingly fraught and personal.

Someone had krill as pets.

It was one of those nightmares where you wake up knowing you’ve left half yourself in peril in the underworld but still have to go through the motions of working, of caring about the corporeal world.

I spent a million years tortured by my nightmares and poor sleep habits.

Can any of you understand me when I say that these horrible terrifying manifestations of my subconscious self, of my other life, have become necessary to me? That even though I’m completely haunted by them snaking through my head all day toying with my comfort and sense of reality, I’ve come to see them as the couriers of my spirit?

Is it acceptable, possible, believable, that the nightmares that plague my “sleep” and wake me at 4 in the morning are the most important connection I have with life outside my own muscle and blood?

Is it too on-the-nose to be okay with the tiger taking the gazelle down?

Is it too on-the-nose to be okay with being the gazelle every single time?

So much of what we’re taught in life is to fight. Fight authority, fight people who fight authority, fight the status quo, fight those who challenge the status quo. Fight your instincts, fight weakness, fight until fighting kills you. Fight every natural urge you’ve ever had because somehow humans have become the dark lords of all flesh.

We’re animals, like all other animals.

I’m almost certain I have: cervical cancer, cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, high blood pressure, imminent death disorder, brain tumor, rough patch of cancerous skin, breast cancer, bone cancer of the foot and elbow, eye jaundice, blood alcohol times 10000, 2 dying teeth, necrotic tissue masquerading as a disgusting yellow bruise, lung cancer, and tuberculosis.

Philip has just assured me that if I was to experience life without frequent nightmares and poor sleep I would not miss all that. He said the words “Stockholm Syndrome”. I don’t know. Does that syndrome apply to a terrorist like poor sleep and frequent, persistent, life-long nightmares? How does he know that part of his spirit might not be enhanced by being haunted his whole li-

Oh.

I’m sitting here considering the potential damage of trying to seek extra mental/emotional support through Kaiser. I’m not sure how much of my haunting can be unloaded on a therapist’s couch. Not sure Kaiser even has therapists available for just listening. They always want to send me to groups even though I’m allergic to groups more than I’m allergic to poorly designed forks.

Ah shit. I keep hitting my own raw nerves.

It’s true that my nightmares follow me through my waking hours, that they dog my heals wherever I go, but sometimes they offer something I’ve never found in waking life that I treasure more than gold, glitter, or beer: safety and respite.

Buried in most of my nightmares are secret pockets of safety, places of temporary refuge for my spirit and skin from the fiends chewing relentlessly at my edges. These moments, seconds, pockets of complete safety are like cocoons, like beautiful tiny ships of complete silence and peace. Moments where I am completely invisible to the howling of my ghosts and the reach of my living nemesis. I never feel these blissful safe moments in real life. I never feel this brief beautiful sense of invincibility, of spiritual protection, of total and complete uncomplicated universal love as I do during many of my worst nightmares.

David Bowie 1947-2016

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One hour ago I found out that David Bowie died.

I frantically searched for the etching I made of him in high school art class and the sketch I did of him to illustrate this post but with a sinking heart I remember that most of the relics of my youth have washed away in flood and burned up in fires. I wanted to show how much he meant to me in pictures.

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I’m 14 years old in this picture and wanted to BE Bowie. He gave me the courage not to hide myself. While my hair was derivative, it was merely the diving board into my own style interests and predilections. I don’t know when the first time I heard Bowie was, I know my parents liked him and listened to him before I noticed him. When I was 13 I went on a trip to California from Ashland Oregon with my mom and the first thing she did when we got to Mill Valley was stop by Village Music to pick up the new David Bowie album “Let’s Dance” and she told me she thought I should check out the new tv station “MTV” to see his video because she thought I would really love his music.

Nothing I’m saying here means shit. I don’t think there’s a way I can sum up how much David Bowie’s music and integrity and vulnerability has meant to me. I can tell you that for years the first song I always played in every new apartment was “5 Years” because that officially made a place home to me. I can tell you that Young Americans got me through a terribly dissociative summer alive, not a small miracle. My friend Jessica was the other person who got me through my 15th summer. But then I entered into a nervous breakdown in earnest and the one anchor to all the auditory hallucinations and cutting and numbness, the one voice that kept me strapped to my commitment to the truth, to art, to voice, and to carrying the torch of life on earth, was Bowie.

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(Anyone else bothered by the missing buttons besides me?)

David Bowie was part of my primal scream. He was there with me when I found myself in pieces. He was there with me when I discovered the power of words in the maelstrom of madness. He was there with me when the mental dust settled. I knew people like me had worth because Bowie showed us that otherlies could see into and beyond light and shadows through to truth, should we take up the challenge.

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This is a retrospective, bitches, so of course you’ve seen these pictures before if you know me AT ALL.

I know androgyny was in me without Bowie to show me the way, but Bowie gave me courage to express the side of my sexuality and my identity that I might not have had the courage to express without his example.

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“let the children lose it, let the children use it”

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That wool suit was sly. It taught me that gender is more complicated than clothes. It taught me that humans are so much more fluid than gender assignation leads us to believe. It taught me that girls come last no matter what they wear, that we can’t win because to men we will always be virgin or whore and it has nothing to do with what we actually do with our vaginas. Wear a fucking suit and men feel emasculated. Wear nothing and men feel powerful if they think you have no power of your own, otherwise they feel emasculated.

Fucking hell.

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Bowie gave me the courage to be an unapologetically evolving human being. He taught me to be fluid, changeable, honest, and fearless.

I cried tonight when I found out Bowie died. I don’t cry easily or often. I honestly didn’t expect to cry tonight. I know that living 69 years and cramming a shit-ton of genius art into it is a life excessively well-packed and well-lived, and yet I feel such desolation knowing Bowie’s left this planet. Us otherlies are more otherly than we’ve been in a long time without him.

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If we don’t take up the chalice of otherliness we all lose. Even the normals lose, because without us they have no context. Bowie was the patron saint of otherliness.

I know we won’t let his torch drop into obscurity.

Everyone ignite your torches of peace tonight.

Spread love all the way into the fringe of light, nay, all the way deep into darkness where corpses rot and you still have the power to heal them.

Give light, give love, give transformation.

Bowie was poet, musician, painter, lover, addict, genius, artist, actor, and father.

He was the best of all of us.

He was the best of me.

46 Isn’t Dead

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I turned 46 last wednesday but didn’t write a post or write privately at all and that set things wrong – writing quietly by myself on my birthday has been sacrosanct for years. It’s the thing I do for myself to set my compass, to be present, to acknowledge that I’ve made it one more year on this earth and in this body. I’ve felt weird every day since. I sat down tonight because I feel the itch to set the compass but I am strangely empty of purposeful words. I Promised myself I’d sit down and say shit to myself, be real, but not maudlin.

This is my soundtrack today:

廿四味 – 不是兄弟 -(Feat. KZ).mp4

Shit. While writing this I just got the news that David Bowie died today, two days after his 69th birthday. Fellow Capricorn. Luminary. He got me through my worst nervous breakdown, his music propelled me forward when I was scared, gave me the courage not to hide myself, to explore poetry and expression. He made me feel I belonged. He took the sting out of being otherly.

Well, I’ve cried and just feverishly looked for the etching I made of David Bowie in High School art class and the drawing I did of him but only found the drawing I did of Joan Crawford and Billy Idol.

If I was David Bowie I’d have 21 more years left to write anything that matters, to leave something timeless behind to make the world a better place than I found it.

So that’s how I’m setting my compass. I’m 46 years old and this is no age at which to calcify, to conform, to give up or give in. David Bowie was a master of reinvention, fearless creative and cultural exploration.

The only thing he ever did to disappoint me was to get his teeth capped.

I’m not going to worry about how much more Bowie had accomplished by the time he was my age because I’m not him. I’ll just let him continue to light the way to truth for me.

I’m 46, not dead.

I’m 46, the perfect age for a new skin, a fresh thought, a deeper voice.

Off to a Good Start

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Wild flower seeding.

4 days into January. How have I been caring for myself so far?

Haven’t had any alcohol. Zzzzzz. I wish those “z”s indicated sleepiness rather than beverage boredom.

I made 2 new trial batches of lotion in my quest to make a lotion I actually like that doesn’t have creepy shit in it. This is self care because I love making potions, the potions are to take care of my skin, and because it stopped me from sinking further into my Sunday funk.

I read for a couple of hours yesterday which was awesome. I’m re-reading all my favorite books to remind me what kind of books I want to be writing.

Worked on the plot of my current WIP – turning it back into a book I want to be writing and not one that feels like a personal quagmire. I’m getting excited about writing again. (fingers crossed that keeps up)

I drank lots of water.

I took my medication yesterday. But I still need to do better. I can’t be missing any days or it undermines their efficacy.

I go back to work today. I’d like to think it’s going to be a smooth transition, that customers will not have placed thirty thousand orders over the holiday. I suspect this wishful thinking is going to turn out not to be true.

Behold the Tiny Mushroom, My Mascot of 2016!

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Behold! My Mascot for 2016 Shall be This Tiny Half-Eaten (Probably Poisonous) Mushroom!

Tiny mushrooms fill me with delight.  I fold myself up as small as I can to get inside their world and on their level while my insides expand with curiosity, questions, and my head fills with images of teeny tiny (probably poisonous) sauteed mushrooms on Barbie-sized toasts. That’s how I hope 2016 will be for everyone: a whole lot of marvelous tiny mushrooms popping up begging to be explored filling us all with ideas and questions, and providing us with everyday magic and miniature adventures.

This tiny (probably poisonous) mushroom popped up next to my big aloe plant outside my back door. Right there, for me to enjoy for the few days it will survive. Soon it will be black slime. But don’t worry, it’s good for the soil and soil grows us all, so it’s gross but really important slime.

I don’t have deep thoughts today. In a few days I go back to work and I have needed some mega down-time. So yesterday I spent all day reading a favorite book (A Relative Stranger by Anne Stevenson) and today I have done nothing but watch clips of Ellen Degeneres interviews on TV with some John Oliver bits thrown in.

As a side note –  I just happened upon a Kirkus review of A Relative Stranger that starts off “A Relative Stranger is kin to all those superior suspense stories (say Dorothy Eden’s) written for the inferior sex…” and all I can say is that review had better actually have been written in 1970 because anyone still using that expression today should not be allowed to print shit in official publications. I’m pretty steaming mad over this chauvinistic piece of bullshit. Superior suspense stories written for the inferior sex. Fucking hell.

That kind of harshed my imaginary tiny mushroom buzz.

(Shake it off, Angelina, shake it off!)

Since the main thing I want for myself this year is the hardest thing in the world and there’s a whole lot of chance I won’t be strong enough to accomplish it yet, I want to focus on the little things (hence my 2016 mascot). I started this focus a few months ago when I was overwhelmed by all the broken things around me and couldn’t seem to get anything done. I want to continue that. Do small things and eventually they build up to bigger things. As all people of wit and experience know, small things can pack a big-ass punch. Ask any human who’s spent time with an angry or excited toddler.

Self care is what I want to focus on most this year. I want to add a lot more small acts of self care to every day. Little things that help me stay calmer and more focused. Things that help me enjoy my life more. Things that make my body feel good. Things that feed my spirit. They can be tiny seeds of care like reading for 15 minutes in the morning, or lying down with my headphones on to listen to some calming music, or stretching my calves for 6o seconds.  I already do some good self care things but I need to do more and smaller things so that throughout my day I remember that to be IN my body and want to stay in it I need to make it a more comfortable place to BE. I feel good when I moisturize my skin. I feel good when I eat a really great salad and don’t use a pound of cheese on it. I feel great when I drink lots of water. It’s important that I do MORE of the things that make my spirit forget it’s housed in a crumbling pit of fleshy doom.

I mean, that’s what bodies really ARE, but I need to forget about that more often and do the things that help me forget the doom part and that actually help me forget I have a body at all. The better my body feels, the less aware I am on being housed in one and being uncomfortable in the world which just makes my brain itch and my spirit yell out obscenities because being human is really hard.

It’s like when you’re in the right outfit – you know you’re dressed your best when you forget you have clothes on at all. If you’re wearing things that don’t fit right or make you self conscious, you’ll feel those clothes on your body like they’re made of lead woven with horsehair.

Begin the mad reign of tiny exquisite moments and achievements! Enjoy the perfectly toasted piece of sourdough because a perfectly toasted piece of sourdough is a beautiful way to start the day. Celebrate that invoice you typed up super fast without any mistakes on it because that is a professional feat you can get paid for! Laugh at the stupid jokes you find funny and don’t worry about the people who don’t share your enjoyment of it!

Even if you are laughing at puns, which I think are the WORST, go ahead and don’t worry about me squirming with angry discomfort.*

I’m going to go watch Criminal Minds and drink beer now because that’s something I love doing. Tomorrow I will make some potions a friend ordered and I might go on a walk and get some writing in too. But right now, it’s time to be mellow while watching bloody nasty crimes being committed and solved on TV by really pretty people and imagine how good life would be if we all had our own personal Garcia to look up everything we ever wanted to know in two seconds flat.

As to 2015, I have no regrets.

See you on the other side, bitches!

*I say this under duress. I really want to blow up all puns with dynamite but I feel I have to invite you to enjoy them even though I hate them or else I’m going against my own philosophy and if I go against myself then WHAT MEANING DOES ANYTHING HAVE?! Haha. Just kidding. I really hate puns and think this is the year all you punsters should ditch the punning. For real.

 

Rise From Cheap Caskets

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I feel a compulsion to write at the end of the year. The last few days are, for me, a time of reflection and accounting. It’s the thing I do. It’s annoying when this time comes around and I’m struggling with something unsayable. Because all I ever want to do is say the unspeakable to take its power for harm away.

The bottle of beer I’m drinking right now has a skunky character I don’t appreciate in beer half as much as I appreciate it in actual skunks.

If I could gather all the words of the world up right now in a loving embrace, that’s what I would do. They are ungatherable as much as some of them are unsayable.

My thoughts tonight are murder on spell-check.

I want to sum up this whole year succinctly and poetically but I find I’m not up to the task.

I cut the corner of my mouth with sharp toast tonight. That’s probably why I’m not up to the task. That’s proof of my general ineptitude.

Mandrake takes a year to germinate. That’s proof that I know interesting but useless things.

I think us humans forget how to access our power and that’s when we feel old and used up. Mortality is an incontrovertible fact of life, but I think we feel old long before we need to because we let go of the things that powered us when we were young and on fire. The people you meet who are full of passion and fight in their middle age haven’t let go of the string that ties them to the lava roiling in the center of their universe.

I’m going to have to fight this year on my own behalf. I’m going to have to work hard to hold onto myself, to unearth myself from the pile of safety I’ve built around my anxiety.

I’ve been standing on this diving board for a thousand years, paralyzed, trying to talk myself into diving into the tiny shallow pool of spittle below me. Keep thinking I’m gonna die here tonight, but keep waking up still on the diving board every morning. Starting to think I live up here where the air is thin.

Can’t cry myself to sleep if my body’s dry as bones cracking in the heat of the Mohave desert, but I can shed my parts like a broke-down lemon.

This is the time to build new bones, feed the spirit, and rise again from cheap caskets. Look how the light bends to my hope! It bends to all of us at the river’s edge.

 

 

The Last Few Days

light in balanceStart over. Do over. Put the lights on and flood the fuck out of the nightmares.

I’m struggling with something I just learned a few days ago (about the past).  It felt like a sock in the gut. I need some therapy for this. The last time I tried to get therapy from Kaiser I was really let down so I don’t know that I can turn to them for help.  I really wish my first psychologist was still alive.

But he’s not.

All the Christmas hoopla and noise is over and New Year’s Eve is almost here, my favorite day of the year. A symbolic new start. I have the next few days off to think about what I want for (and from) myself this year. Not much different from what I wanted last year and every year for the last number of years, but even so, I like to approach each year as a fresh opportunity. I like to focus on new words, new thoughts, and new energy.

I want to not drink alcohol until I’ve lost 85 lbs.

I want to have one whole finished first draft of a novel by this time next year.

That’s all I ask of myself. Perhaps this will be easier while I have a job because at least money isn’t quite as much of a stressor. I mean, we still can’t afford a new car and our current one is held together with packing tape, but at least the regular bills are easier to pay. Max isn’t struggling so hard right now either so I don’t have to micromanage his school experience or fight the school over stupid shit that shouldn’t be so hard to get done. My mom isn’t scheduled for any surgeries and is recovering well from the last two. Also, I just had that writing realization which will (hopefully) help me re-focus on the fiction writing. So this is a good time to get down to business. I hope.

Renewal of hope is what the New Year is all about.

A good amount of self care is called for this year. That’s the other thing I want to work on – writing self care posts on Sugar & Pith. Explore daily self care and share it with others. I need to engage in that actively with purpose. Take care of my skin. Take reading breaks. Do little things around the house that improve my every-day experience in it. Take better care of my body with exercise. With diet. Part of self care is also shutting out the world more often and taking care who I spend time with. Plant more plants.

Cleaning crap out is also excellent self care. I was doing that the day before yesterday. Went through all my clothes and shoes and hat boxes. Cleaned up my office quite a bit (still have some cleaning up to do in here). I love cleaning crap out of my house. It takes a lot of energy to get going with it but once I do it – it makes my head feel clearer.

What are you going to work on this coming year?

If you hate New Year’s Eve and thinking about goals and aspirations then don’t tell me about it. A lot of you get really depressed after Christmas and hate resolutions and winter and all of that. Now that Christmas is over it’s finally quiet enough out there for me to enjoy my favorite time of year and favorite holiday. I did make strong efforts not to ruin Christmas for all of you (YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY BITTER GRUMBLINGS AND COMMENTS I HELD BACK). Please let me enjoy this time with those who also enjoy it.

Remembering What Kinds of Novels I Don’t Write

Golden Gate Bridge

I am full of anger today. But I don’t want to talk about it. I just want everyone in the world to know that I’m carrying a sword and it would be unwise to approach me without permission and plenty of warning.

I need to channel this energy into something useful. So far I’ve cleaned the bathroom, the kitchen, and scrubbed the fridge down to try to get rid of the rotting flesh smell some fish juice generated that now smashes me in the nose every time I open my fridge. Cleaning the fish juice up wasn’t enough. So I’ve scrubbed every single shelf (taken out and scrubbed in the sink). I can still smell the dead flesh but it’s weaker.

I want to write but if I try to write my feelings I’ll regret it right now. While I was cleaning I was thinking about how all my writing has continued to stall ever since publishing Cricket and Grey. Book two remains in a state of first draft purgatory. Lately I got a bit of a flow going with Suicide for Beginners but that’s stalled too. What the fuck is wrong? I went back to wondering if I only have one novel in me? I mean, I have 7 novels in the queue just waiting to be written but that won’t come to life the way Cricket and Grey did.

My writer friends are all holding their breath praying that this isn’t one of those big long “I give up on writing forever” jags where I’m impossible to talk to and kind of stress them out because they all go through this occasionally too and some of us definitely think the big-blue-ass-doubts are contagious.

I remembered this thing I keep on forgetting. I’m getting really fucking tired of forgetting this thing. The thing is that I don’t want to write dreadfully personal general fiction novels. I don’t want to write science fiction. I don’t want to write romance. I don’t want to write any novels that are vaguely autobiographical either.

I want to write suspense novels in the style of the 1940’s (through the 60’s) – specifically the suspense written by women authors. The only difference is that I want to write it darker and grittier.

I wrote Cricket and Grey after making this realization for the first time, after spending an intense 4 months writing Jane Doe and not being able to finish it or even figure out where to take it. I had my revelation and wrote Cricket and Grey with a great deal of energy and purpose. It still took me four years from start to finish but I knew where I was going with it the entire time.

Suicide for Beginners first came to me as a general fiction novel about a 35 year old failed suicide who befriends a teen who’s also struggled with suicidal ideation. But this is way too close to home the way I was writing it. Way too personal in a way that isn’t healthy for me. I don’t want to dig inside myself and smear my guts all over my novels. I want to use my experience and knowledge to inform my writing, to flesh out realistic characters, but I don’t want to expose myself.

That’s what my blog is for.

So I was remembering the first time I had this revelation and wondering if I’m going to forget about this between each novel and have to go through the painful process of getting off track and not realizing it? God help me, I’ve been flailing around for two years now not remembering this.

I write suspense novels.

Not who-dunnits, not crime novels, not spy thrillers, not science fiction*, not romances, not cozy books of any kind, not semi-autobiographical fiction, and not humor.

I really wish I wrote humor. I’m just not funny enough.

All this means is that I need to go back to the drawing board and rework my ideas. I’m not calling this a breakthrough because I’ll probably go right back to floundering. But I will call this a good realization that just might get my writing back on track.

I’m still angry and don’t want to talk about it. So perhaps I’ll go watch another classic suspense film for inspiration. I already watched Laura today (with Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews). Maybe Netflix has Rebecca?

*Cricket and Grey is dystopian only because it’s set in a dystopian future, but the story is really one of classic suspense in the sense that it’s almost incidental that it’s dystopian. The story isn’t really about the collapse of government or societal structure – it’s about Cricket uncovering the truth about her mother’s murder and the killer, now in danger of being revealed, begins to stalk her. The dystopian world she lives in is the set, not the story.