Category Archives: The Variety Show

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.

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.

I’ll Be Your Usher If You’ll Be Mine

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Self Portrait of the Author Listening to Lies

Reality has a way of rearing its hideous head at the most awkward and unusual moments, catching us off guard and under dressed. Monday, Philip emailed me when he got to work to let me know how much we didn’t have in our bank account and I went into an instant tailspin. We have a water bill and an electric bill due and 90% of the next pay check will go towards paying our rent. We made some poor choices this past week buying too much beer, taking our kid out to eat. Taking our dog to the vet. Paying my phone bill. Now we can  barely afford coffee and cheese is not in the budget.

Max has an infected ingrown toenail and the advice nurse suggested he wear a pair of open toed shoes and I explained that he thinks flip flops are an abomination. She said his shoes might be too tight and should wear a looser pair. I explained that he has only one pair of shoes. I can’t explain the feeling that blossomed in my gut – but any parent who’s ever struggled to provide for their kid doesn’t need this explained.

Ever since last fall we’ve been struggling to make it on one income because we function best as a family when I’m home full time to care for us and to write. Because that’s the life we actually want to be living. We came so close, and yet, not so much. So on Monday I got the message loud and clear that this isn’t working, that the next four weeks are already promising to be pretty dire, that I can’t get a job soon enough.

I instantly spiraled deep down into a freak-out of epic proportions. 48 hours later and I’m cautiously crawling out of the fuck-fest of my own dark hell. I have smeared my social media with my sticky tarry thoughts and shot down every person who tried valiantly to improve my outlook and mood. I’m a fucking professional when it comes to these emotional roller coaster rides and yet I can’t get off of them come hell or high water.

Right now I feel ragged with an emotional hangover so bad I’m going to feel it for days. I’m ashamed of my profound loss of hope, of my determination to be the loser I believe I am when I’m not vigilantly guarding my successes. Of how ready I always am to curl up into the dark and let it subsume me in one big hungry bite.

Whatever I’ve said in the last two days is a part of me, a part of my story, my studied lines. That darkness is real, the despair is honest, the brokenness is so real you can rub the rust of it off on your fingers just reading about it and taste the metal blood of this life I’ve cut myself to survive.

I’m ashamed to have let it all show. And yet I know that part of the honesty I’ve taxed myself with in this life demands that I not shove this ugly under the rug so you all think I’m some special light shining through all adversity and never breaks. I BREAK ALL THE TIME.

I do nothing by halves. Ever. It’s all technicolor fox trots and suicide with me. It’s the one thing you can always count on – I’ll never hide the real show behind the velvet curtain. All this ugly is public. Because I know that someone else out there is struggling to gulp air into waterlogged lungs of hopelessness.

I’m mentally ill. Not in a mild and fun kind of way. I’m seriously mentally ill and I strive to live a life as full of inappropriate laughter as I can muster because it’s where I gather my strength from. The irreverent, the ridiculous, the ironic. That’s my food, that’s my drug.

But of course I also have psychiatric drugs and I thank my fucking stars I have access to those because my son depends on me to keep some semblance of evenness. Of the calm that comes with vespers and flooding night blindness. In spite of support from medications I will always be vulnerable to epic losses of faith, of hope, of light. They are real to me. You need to know this. I FEEL them as strongly as some people feel a rise in hope as summer approaches.

Thrown off course I will spin violently against my own will. I’ll watch as I do it, a hapless victim of my own wild permutations of mood and despair. I can feel myself revving up with the fire of a thousand matches set to light abandoned cars on fire, to watch life burn to the ground all around me, ghosts rising up to meet the toxic smoke, lung for lung.

This is mental illness. It tells me so many lies. In the quiet moments I can recognize them. I can meet them with a chartered smile and an artificial grace. I can smell the lies for what they are. I can kick them aside and cry foul. I can recognize the false voice that tells me hoping is for losers, that everyone else has lost hope for me a long time ago. It speaks for people it’s never met, it speaks for people it’s met with lies.

That’s the main thing about mental illness – it lies to those that suffer from it. Constantly. It’s exhausting fielding the lies and digging through the spiritual rubble for the truth. Every time I succumb to its seduction of failure, its stench of quartered moldering dreams, I don’t see it until afterwards. Until I’ve screamed into the darkness like a child seeing death for the first time. The words I’ve said, the despair I’ve earmarked for myself is false. It’s built on a pyre of lies.

If I was smart I would close into myself when I feel the shit storm approaching. I would cut off all communication until it passes. I would protect you all from the dark clouds and the stench of human frailty. But I promised myself I would never cover it up. That I would be honest and ride it out and take the blows as they come, take the damage dealt as part of my illness, as it IS.

Not just for my sake. For my whole tribe. Some of whom can’t begin to articulate this torture we experience and who lose themselves in it. I will not lie, because of them as much as for myself. So I let it all come out, oozing at times with the toxic sludge of self doubt and rushing at times with the passion of creativity so many in my tribe are gifted with. I remain honest through good times and bad.

I can’t divorce myself from myself. I tried that when I was a teen and almost fractured my personality. I still have issues related to this. I can’t be other than I am. I WILL ABANDON SELF or I WILL KILL SELF or I WILL BECOME A MIME – distress calls from my spirit.

I bleed true. Always. Whatever you know me to be – I am she. I am that. I am IT.

I am strong so much of the time. I will support you with my life. I will shield you from your worst self. I’ll jump into the chasm between your work and your heart creating a bridge between the two. I will hold you above the fucking fires – but I will always fall underneath my own goddamn flag of genius.

Please forgive my hopelessness. My mental illness tells me terrible lies that I believe every single fucking time.

I’m shaking the fire from my bones. This takes a while. The more I make jokes about not being a cannibal the more restored I am to my equilibrium. I said I gave up as a writer. I etched this declaration with bits of flesh and blood because that’s how much I have given up. Except that I can never give up.

When I’m telling you how completely I’ve given up I’m still in my heart and I’m still bleeding when I say it. Look away until it’s over if you need to. This bit is pretty fucking bloody and vile because I’m still in my heart as I say it. I can’t leave it. So the truth is that I have to keep trying, keep hoping, no matter how much abuse or shit gets between me and the truth.

I always end up back at the Happy Super smelling the slush of fish guts the trucks drain into the gutter underneath my bedroom window. I always end up standing motionless at the back of the truck talking to the gutted pig with dead eyes. I always end up talking to the packages of squid and buying boxes of Thai Tea.

If you remember me in your life beyond this morning I hope you remember that no matter what, I hoped for myself I always had room to dream the stars for you. If you remember me beyond today, let it be that I believed (against all odds) in love, love, and true love. If I make a mark in your life at all, let it be that the mentally ill are a magnificent crowd of people full of stories, a darkness so dark you never have to worry when your own lights go out – we’ll still see you. If you remember me, let it be that an atheist spoke to God and got the same answer the devil got to the question: what does it all mean?

It means we crossed paths and now you’ll be the person I have affairs with for the rest of my dreaming life.

You and David Bowie. Some day you’ll see this for the deep compliment it is.

I was going to apologize for my steep fall from hope. I’ve decided this isn’t necessary. Some day you’re going to find yourself in this same place and I will be your usher out of the abyss. All for love.

All for fucking love.

Monday Thoughts

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On my mind right now:

Definitely not war. Or politics. Or hatefulness. Or bigotry. Or stupid asshole people. Or guns. Or violence. Or rape. And most of all – DEFINITELY NOT WAR. I’m on a news fast right now. No clicking on links that will depress me and hate humankind more than I already do.

Tomatoes. I have a lot of tomatoes in the house and I’m already lusting for MORE. This is how I get with food preserving. I don’t even have any shelf space left for more canned goods. Rearranging must happen. Plus freezing more things. Today I’m going to make a summer vegetable soup to freeze.

Clothes. Partly because I have very little to wear. The pants I made myself a year ago need some fixing (which I can do now that I have my serger back). I need more clothes. But I’m also thinking about clothes for my dystopiian fashion line for my Etsy shop. I’m excited by possibilities and a little overwhelmed with where to start. Meanwhile I have two more smocks in progress.

I’ve been getting in my own way again. Fuck. I’m a pro at this.

Some day I want to kick a door in with my boots.

I don’t want to get a part time job outside the home. I don’t want to stop doing all my homesteading activities. I’m living the life I want to live now minus the income. I need to be patient and work hard towards making money but hold tight to what I want.

Beer gotta go. Yeah, still drinking and it’s much harder to commit to going sober again this time around. I’ll get there and I wouldn’t even have said this out loud but I’m still trying to keep myself honest on my own blog. Not interested in starting conversations about this topic, certainly not in person with anyone. I’ve got to get myself where I want to go on my own volition.

Max made a self portrait in Photoshop at school and I said “That’s a great self portrait! But you look like you haven’t slept in weeks and are maybe strung out on drugs” He says “The title of that picture is ‘Max as a tired 40 year old'”

Max and I went out to happy hour to two places on Friday and decided that Santa Rosa is an excellent city to be in during a zombie apocalypse. Does your family have a zombie apocalypse survival plan? If not, you should work on one!

Max also ate and enjoyed shrimp ceviche. With avocado and cucumbers. He didn’t eat the peppers or onions.

Worried Chick has mange. Must investigate and probably make her a vet appointment.

Time to go process tomatoes!

 

 

 

Is There a First Aid Kit for Life Decisions?

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The Post Apocalyptic First Aid Kit

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

I know how to be thankful for these blessings.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I put 110% into everything I do.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m taking this to bed with me tonight.

I’m not scared.

Not more than usual, anyway.

 

Making Small Talk With Myself

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

xoxo

a

 

This Post Apocalyptic World

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

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

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

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

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

Max is settling into his new school routine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fuck, I’m getting maudlin now.

Depression and anxiety are fucking bitches.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mostly for me.

I once buried a cigarette with mint jelly.

That proves everything you ever needed to prove about me.

This Evil Bitch Commie Is Full Of Ideas

my street at night

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of those things I am absolutely clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That police department has behaved shamefully.

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

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

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

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

Nope. I’ll never be a flag flyer.

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

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

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

Hang on, I might be wrong about that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

xoxo

a

*The Israeli one, not the Scottish one.

It’s been a bloody fucking stupid day.

epic bloody nose

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

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

It’s a fucked up world.

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

She missed the whole fucking point of the post.

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

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

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

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

LET. IT. THE. FUCK. GO.

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

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

On Suicide Shaming by Katherine Lampe

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

It’s been an awful day.

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

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

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

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

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

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