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

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

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

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

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

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

I WANT TO BE PART OF THAT!

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

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

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

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

I call sanctuary!

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

 

 

The Name of This Thing Remains Undecided

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Sugar & Pith

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cricket & Grey

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

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

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

In Which Saponification is as Magical as Dragons

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Late Friday Night Thoughts and General Fuckery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Youth is fucked. Old age is also fucked.

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

Enjoy what you can of it.

Keep Your Mind Flexible and Fertile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I would have been a more effective documentarian.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not die.

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

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

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

The Lotion Trials: Day Whatever

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I’m officially done making Batch #3.2 (Batch #3 with changes). And it felt drying to my hands but was better than Batch #5 which I HATED WITH EVERY FIBER OF MY BEING AND GRAPE SEED OIL CAN GO TO HELL.

Which is why it’s too bad that I have an enormous bottle of it. I sent Philip off to get some and the only grape seed oil he found was a giant plastic bottle of imported Italian grape seed oil. I only needed 2 tbsp. I don’t trust this bottle of oil. I didn’t like the cut of its jib the minute I saw its giblets shaking – oh hell – I don’t trust it so much that I’m mixing up my metaphors.  My plan is to mix it with olive oil for salad dressing.

Anyway. I’m far from concocting the perfect natural recipe for lotion but I’m learning a lot in the process and having fun.

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Notes on lotion making so far:

Preservatives are necessary. When you start making your own body products and natural medicines you begin to understand that “preservative” isn’t necessarily a dirty word.

Batch #2 developed mold less than 2 weeks after it was made. I’m leaving all my lotions at room temperature to see how long they last. See note above about importance of preservatives.

If you make a lotion using aloe vera gel but don’t add a humectant (such as glycerine) it will make your skin feel dry because it has a mildly astringent quality.

I dislike the smell of rose hip seed oil. So does my mom. But the lotion that worked the best for me (until it molded) had some in it.

Most (all I’ve read so far) lotion making instructions have you add the oil to the water in a thin stream. I had a better result adding the water to the oil.

I truly deeply forcefully hate the way shea/cocoa/coconut oils feel on my skin in their solid state. I also hate the way they smell. I love the smell of coconut milk but coconut oil is -NO.

Grape seed oil can fuck right off.

There’s a lot of science behind even the most natural of lotions and it’s very interesting and makes me want to get into the percentages but that would require a lot of brushing up on math skills and I feel pressure to get on with other product testing and refining as well as setting up the rest of my business. Since I’m not planning to be a lotion company it doesn’t warrant retaking a math class. So I’m trying to work within recipe proportions already developed by others and then changing the oils out and playing with different herbal infusions, etc.

The way Batch #2 turned lumpy was weird. Little tiny lumps but it hasn’t (so far) actually separated.

The foot cream (Batch #4) smells really good and the texture shockingly doesn’t repel me. It’s a variation on a recipe my friend Angela (Cottage Magpie) wanted me to make. I don’t know yet if she likes it or not, but it turned out very stiff but melts when you rub it into your feet. Very greasy finish, however. So for me it’s not great. Philip loves it. He’s taken the rest of the batch upstairs to his and Max’s lair.

I’m beginning to wonder if I possibly just don’t like any of the “butters” and might try making a lotion without any of those.

I don’t love the smell of benzoin. It’s kind of sweet, that’s what I don’t like. I love the smell of frankincense in lotion.

I guess I better get my butt back into the kitchen to clean up for the next batch. Wish me luck. Buckets and buckets of it!

 

Simple One-Shoe Sue Loves Every Color but Stupidity

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People enjoy a lot of satisfaction in making things harder and more complicated than they need to be. If things are complicated but you understand them then you can congratulate yourself on being smart. Most of the congratulation is for thinking you’re smarter than others. Which is stupid, really, since everyone is smarter than someone right down to a single celled organism. Way to corner the market, hoomins!

There are plenty of things that truly are complicated in this world like quantum theory, psychology, anatomy, and the formulation of fast food recipes.  But I would like to posit that a lot of things we pretend are complicated are actually breathtakingly simple. In positing this I can already hear a thousand argumentarians sharpening the knives of their acid wit and flexing their muscles throwing the javelins that will pierce my stupidity and win them medals of – I don’t know – a stale bag of Jolly Ranchers?

I think making things complicated assuages our conscience’s shortcomings and our natural emotional responses to things.

To say that problems like racism, sexism, all forms of bigotry, and colonialism are simple isn’t the same as saying they’re easy. Please investigate the nuance of that difference before objecting to it.

Racism is not a complicated issue. People all across the world have developed insidious and harmful hatred of people of other races than themselves. Every race is guilty of this. It’s that simple. But in my own country the worst and most corrosive racism is the systemic racism that has blossomed out of white people settling on a vast piece of land that didn’t belong to them, stealing it, committing genocide against the native (brown) people who lived here already, and then importing predominately African slaves and building a nation on the backs of those slaves and  building an infrastructure that disproportionately benefits the needs and wants of white people over those of the free black and brown people “sharing” the country with them. That is a simple outline of what happened and led to the awful racial tensions that started the civil rights movement which is still going on today. The facts are simple. White people want to pollute it by throwing out a million examples meant to excuse their behavior. Meant to support the infrastructure that protects them against having to share opportunity and neighborhoods and schools and resources with their free and contributing black fellow Americans.

There is no defense for racism. None. zip. Zilch. There is no race that is intrinsically superior to any other race. There are no facts that support such fucked up beliefs and I don’t care if you’re black and trying to show that white people are intrinsically inferior or if you’re white and trying to show that black people are intrinsically inferior to white people or Asians trying to show that Mexicans are intrinsically inferior.

It’s all a huge steaming wet pile of fucking BULL SHIT full of maggots and covered in flies. I don’t give a fuck what race you are – there is no defense for racism. It’s that simple.

But in my country the worst offenders by far are white Americans and right now there’s a growing number of black and brown Americans rising up in a refreshed civil rights movement – outraged by disproportionate police violence against their communities, outraged by the insidiously common inequities they experience every fucking day of their lives that white Americans don’t experience.

As a white person it’s hard to listen to sometimes because I have a super pale skin and I come from a family of racist northerners (not my mom or step dad, but the rest of them to some degree) and I find the racism of my forebears shameful. But I’ve been listening a lot in the last couple of years because if change is going to happen, if racism is going to  be eradicated, you have to LISTEN. EVERY GODDAMNED ONE OF US HAS TO LISTEN. You have to listen if you’re black because you need to stand up and be counted and shout out and say no to the oppression and unwarranted violence. You have to listen if you’re white because you have to understand what non-white compatriots are experiencing. You have to HEAR THEIR STORIES. And you have to do it with an open heart.  Sometimes it hurts because I know that what’s in my heart isn’t this racist cancer I’m hearing about. The stories about white oppression of non-whites is painful because oppression sucks. Oppression more than sucks, it rots beautiful lives.

None of that is complicated. It’s simple.

The same is true of gender issues, religious issues, and class issues.

In so many ways I was born ancient. I’m an old soul. I’m a curmudgeon, a snappish old turtle, a rock that’s weathered the earth in one too many bodies. Yet there’s a part of me that has retained a child-like quality. My friend R has noticed and commented on this a couple of times and she is, I believe, the only person who has ever called attention to my child-like qualities without being destroyed by my laser-gaze of disdain. It’s because I know she has seen a part of me that’s irrepressible but invisible to many. I call it my “spaz”. This relates to what I have been talking about in a fundamental and important way.

If I could speak unfiltered, if I could express myself freely, truly freely, in all company, I would show you all a pretty blinding “inappropriate” level of enthusiasm. It’s peeled free of crust, of careful thought, of concern for gentle respect.

I would see everyone’s color and gender and background and education and origin and nationality and musical tastes and passions and celebrate the fuck out of it all. Fuck pretending race and gender and nationality don’t exist – let’s celebrate all that stuff that makes us intrinsically WHO WE ARE.

I LOVE BROWN SKIN THAT SHOUTS SONNETS TO THE SUN, THAT EXUDES WARMTH AND SPICE. I THINK THE DARKEST OF DARK SKIN IS LUMINESCENT AND IT TRANSFIXES ME WITH ITS DEPTH. I THINK PALE SKIN LIKE LANTERNS IN THE NIGHT, WHETHER LIGHTING PATHS THROUGH TRAILER PARKS OR THROUGH WET DARK FORESTS ARE ENCHANTING. I SEE OLIVE COMPLEXIONS AND IT MAKES ME TASTE THE NECTAR OF DESERT FLOWERS AND ANCIENT RESINS. SALLOW COMPLEXIONS ARE LIT FROM INSIDE WITH COLD PURE SPRING WATER, SHINING WITH MINERALS AND BLUSH WITH PEACH IN CONTRAST.

I would say these things, shout these things the moment they enter my head if I wasn’t afraid of reprisals. If I wasn’t afraid of giving offense by noticing people’s differences.

Maybe it’s childish but I see beauty everywhere and I love so many strangers for what little I know of them. I have a special love for transgender people. To say it sounds asinine. I can’t explain it. I feel protective of people whose bodies don’t match their identity. I don’t always have the proper words to discuss it, I’m not always up on the right and constantly evolving terminology, but I feel love there I can’t explain and don’t know that I should have to. Sometimes you understand something with your soul that your words are always trying to catch up with and never do. It’s not complicated.

Love is only as complicated as you make it.

I don’t always say the right things. I’m a fallible human being always in the process of personal evolution. But my motives are simple and full of a desire to always choose love.

 

I get angry sometimes and lash out unreasonably against people or institutions. I say regrettable things sometimes. I misunderstand people and have rough interactions. I’m an introvert who isn’t really rooting for the human race as a whole but who geeks out constantly on amazing human individuals. I WANT to be inspired. I WANT to choose love.

Doesn’t mean I’m a fucking imbecile.

But often I meet people and I want to say things like “YOU’RE GAY? THAT’S SO FUCKING AWESOME!” and “YOU HAVE BREASTS AND A PENIS AND A GREAT SINGING VOICE? I FUCKING LOVE THE CRAP OUT OF YOU!” and “YOUR BROWN SKIN IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL FUCKING COLOR I’VE EVER SEEN!” and “YOU’RE THE OLDEST WOMAN ON EARTH WHOSE BOOBS ARE HANGING AT YOUR ANKLES AND YOU HAVE THE BEST SMILE I’VE EVER SEEN AND I WANT TO BE YOU BECAUSE YOU’RE SO FUCKING GORGEOUS!”

That’s how simple it is. Not just for me but – PERIOD.

Sexual Health OR oh my god what are you doing with that doughnut?!

sad doughnuts

There are only two things that determine if a person’s sexuality is healthy or not and they apply to BOTH men and women:

How they treat themselves.

Self care. Choosing partners that don’t abuse them. Taking precautions to prevent venereal diseases. Honesty with themselves about what they’re doing and why. Only engaging in sex and sex acts they want to. Having sex for their own pleasure as well as their partner’s.

How they treat their sexual partners.

Honesty. You need to be free to pursue multiple sexual partners? That’s totally fine if you’re honest with all your partners that that’s what you’re doing. Consideration for your partner’s pleasure as well as your own. Always stopping when a partner gets uncomfortable and not shaming them for it. All their partners are consensual.

Things that do NOT determine how healthy a person’s sexuality is or their worth as a person:

How many sexual partners they’ve had.

How they dress.

What kind of sex they like. (If it’s 100% consensual then it’s no one’s business to place value on a person for their sexual tastes)

How few sexual partners they’ve had.

How quickly they do or do not “put out”.

How often they have sex.

How often they think about sex or don’t think about sex.

What gender they prefer having sex with.

I’m so fucking tired of people being judged for their sexuality. For the number of partners they’ve had. I’m especially sick to death of men calling women who’ve had as many or more partners as they’ve had “sluts” and then calling women who won’t have sex with them “prudes”. I’m sick to death of value judgements being placed on people, by other people, over their sex lives. It’s bullshit. In all the millions of species of creatures on this earth, only humans could twist something so natural, integral, and healthy into a public stage on which to pillory people.

My feelings are complicated by my love of the word “whore” which I apply to everyone pretty equally but never because of their sexual activities.

None of us can win with the asinine rules that religion has set across the world. I’m not pointing to any one religion in particular. MOST of them place a bizarre premium on virginity in women and sexual prowess in men. MOST of them place value judgements on human sexuality that is unhealthy and feeds directly into a power hungry patriarchy. The thing is, even men can’t really win with these rules. Without the unhealthy constructs religion has put around human sexuality there would be so much less emphasis on marriage and partnership would be more often steered by an individual’s needs rather than society ideals based on archaic civilizations.

I have an uneasy relationship with physical contact with other human beings. I mean in all contexts, not just sexual. I had to train myself to be a “hugger” because it isn’t natural to me to let others embrace me or to volunteer such contact with them. Maybe this is because my first years were spent in a hippie commune in which a pedophile was violating a couple of my toddler friends. Maybe seeing and experiencing physical violence at a young age made me fear humans. Or maybe I was born this way. I only know that my mistrust of touch goes very deep. My relationship with my sexuality is complicated but healthy. It’s healthy because I honor my personal needs and peculiarities. It’s healthy because I don’t try to lead a sexual life that doesn’t suit me in order to please others. It’s healthy because I have done my best to meet my partner’s needs while not allowing them to ever over-ride my need to feel safe.

I have a lot of friends with strong sexual appetites and some of them seem to me to have very healthy sex lives while others have seemed to me to value themselves less than they should. But the bottom line is that other people’s sexuality and sexual lives are not my business unless they make it my business. Whatever you think you know about a person’s sex life is probably only part of their story, the part they let you see, and we all superimpose our own ideals and issues onto other people who may not actually share them.

I don’t judge prostitutes for doing the work they do. I judge people for judging prostitutes negatively for the work they do. But that’s a whole different post for another day.

So here’s my wish for everyone: see to the health of your own sex life and stop judging other people for theirs, okay? Work towards having a healthy sex life in which you respect yourself and your body and extend that respect to your partners, no matter how many you choose to have over the course of your life. No matter what lifestyle is right for you. No matter if you’re religious or not. No matter what your peers are doing differently. Eschew adopting separate standards for yourself than you apply to others because doing so makes you and asshole and then I won’t be able to help you survive the apocalypse because, you know, I don’t share supplies with assholes. Eschew the practice of worshiping the faulty concept of “purity”* with regards to sexuality.

Respect yourself. Respect others.

It’s that simple.

*I loathe the concept of “purity” with regards to anything when it is a worshiped ideal. People who make eating “pure” foods into a religion – I hate that. People who talk about “clean living” – pisses me off. People who talk about purity being virginity – that fucking creeps the shit out of me. Purity is not a natural or healthy concept.

The Lotion Trials: Day 1

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Yesterday marked the beginning of the great lotion trials as I test recipes to develop a great all purpose lotion. I’m super picky about what lotion I will put on my skin. It isn’t about purity (though part of the reason I’m working to make my own is because I don’t want petroleum on my skin) it’s about texture. I have really dry sensitive skin. I like a thick rich lotion that isn’t greasy and absorbs quickly and doesn’t smell too strongly or weirdly. Right now I’m using Trader Joe’s Creamy lotion and it’s great. Except for the ingredient list. It’s cheap and that’s not something a handmade lotion will ever be.

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Making new things, embarking on new adventures always puts me in a deeply procrastinative state. Making creams is an art. Not a complicated one, necessarily, but it requires emulsifying two ingredients that want nothing to do with each other: oil and water. So instead of making my first batch I took weird selfies as the Mad Apothecary.

This is how I have discovered that my front teeth are chipped. I don’t mind how it looks right now, but WHAT IF THEY KEEP CHIPPING UNTIL THEY’RE NOTHING BUT NUBS AND I HAVE TO GET DENTURES AND THEY NEVER LOOK REAL, DO THEY?

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So this was my first batch. I’m calling it “Batch 1″. Very thick, somewhat tacky feel to it and a little bit greasy.

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I took this selfie for my friend Debz who thought the other one was creepy. See? You can trust me to make you feel better. Come heeeeeere to fat mama with the drama! Haha. Can’t help myself, I’m still creepy.

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Batch 2 was much thinner, less tacky or greasy, smelled good, but didn’t absorb fast enough for my comfort. Philip liked it. Max said it was “okay” but mostly he just means it was better than the first batch. He liked the smell. My mom liked batch 2 quite a bit. I liked it on my face (it’s technically a face cream anyway) – it made my face feel nicely hydrated.

Today I hope to make at least 2 more batches. There’s also a foster kitten coming too so probably won’t make more than that. I’ve got 5 more batches in the queue to make before I start refining. But even then I may need to make a lot more. This is product development stage and it’s a lot of fun.

Notes on the first day of the lotion trials:

I dislike the smell of plain natural oils. Companies work hard to manufacture scentless lotions. I think they probably have a chemical scent called “scentless”. Basically they use ingredients that are refined to the point where they lose their natural odor. So my lotions will have to have scent, all of them. The good news is that I don’t have to use much essential oil to cover the odor of the main oils and it doesn’t make my skin smell.

I hate – HATE – oils that are solid at room temperature and melt on contact with warm skin. That is a sensation that makes me so grossed out I can’t handle it. Like, literally, I may need to start wearing gloves when handling them. Cocoa butter and coconut oil both do this. It is disgusting. Just like cold butter that melts when you touch it. *SUPERDRAMATICRETCHINGNOISESFOREVERANDEVER*

Okay, I don’t hate the oils that are solid at room temp, I just hate touching them. I know more than one person (THERE’S MORE THAN ONE OF THEM) who loves putting these oils directly on their skin. *skeeeeeeeeeeeeevy*

My sister is super picky about lotion too and she apparently likes the same kind of feel in a lotion because she’s the one who suggested I try Trader Joe’s lotion when St. Ives suddenly started drenching all their formulas with perfume. So I was thinking about her pretty much the whole time I was making batch 1 and batch 2. I kept thinking “I’m going to come up with a great lotion for us, sister!” Though, to be honest, I’m concerned that the ingredients I’m willing to use (meaning: no overly processed, synthetic, or petroleum ones) will make this goal difficult to reach.

The shelf life on these lotions will necessarily be shorter than store bought. But I think that I may be able to offer some customization options and when people buy my lotions they will be getting super fresh batches. I’ll only be making them to order – at least at first. The only way anyone will be able to get a fresher lotion is if they make it themselves.

The label you see above is the round label, ready to print! It’s been decided that we will get labels printed with the logo (such as you see above) and then I’ll hand write product info on each because we can’t afford to have small runs of labels made for every individual product. I’m really pleased with the design now.

And no, there is no missing apostrophe in the label. Philip accidentally added one in the last round but it’s “Winters” because that’s the last name of my main character in Winter; cricket and Grey. I have named my real apothecary business after my fictional apothecary’s business.

 

 

 

Bullets for Wheels

good bye slc

Hurry into dawn like you’ve got bullets for wheels. Don’t stop for the smell of your last conquest or the muddled dream of the next one. Your night is full of suitcases refilling themselves as fast as you empty them. You’re racing against an impossible empty promise. Stack as much love as you think you have against the shipping wall and watch it empty out into the bay pushing in at your feet. You’ll never be able to dive deep enough to retrieve your heart. You think it’s there under your skin, in the protection of your ribs and your intention, but it’s gone the way of all the waves before it. It’s gone with the siren call of the moon, shredded itself on the shoals you never saw in the lampless dark.

I can’t say there’s no way through here but I know there’s no way through here today. The myths you’re telling yourself, willing to be true, they fit only half your skin, only half your belief. You know you’re fitting words too precious for life into your fresh mythology. You have to let go for it to find you.

This under-voice of vice is not lying, this remembrance of past ghosts can’t walk paths without your feet. It can’t speak without your tangled language of loss.  It struggles to find itself in unfamiliar dialects but struggles against ocean logic. It struggles to rise up through salt foam and cold wave to bring your memory back to the beginning where you first met yourself.

Rise against the sand and rock, the only place you’ve ever known yourself to bleed true, to blue in frigid water, to stiffen in false twilight. Here is your nest of intention, your nest of sinew and unlit wax effigy. I have only this to give. Don’t burn me until you’re ready to set me free into the horizon of dense fog. I promise to hide whatever you’re not telling yourself today.