Category Archives: The Variety Show

My Place In Everything is Small, but Absolute

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My step sister Stephanie took this picture of me and my brother Zeke and it’s one of my favorites of all time. That’s our dad in the background.

I have just turned 45 years old. I may not know that much, but I have a lot of thoughts about what I DO know:

People who are outwardly weird and unwholesome haven’t got as much to gain by hiding their darkness as outwardly wholesome people do. People intent on shining a light on their own wholesomeness nearly always have a dismembered body in a freezer in the basement.

My place in everything is small but absolute.

Even so, my hope that humans will delight and surprise me rises fresh every single morning no matter how hard I’ve sworn the night before that we should be lit on fire in a magnificent purifying funereal pyre.

Humans are highest on the food chain but also highest on the virus chain. We’re definitely not “ALL THAT”

My opinion of humans as a species has never been lower than it is today.

Balance in all things would be my religion if I had to claim one. So if I want to find enlightenment I must try to achieve balance. This presents many challenges to a person of exuberant opinion who shrinks inwardly at confrontation in spite of seeing the truth and the heart of things excruciatingly clearly and knowing my place in everything.

Your place in everything is small but absolute too.

Everything that happens was meant to happen or it wouldn’t have happened. I’m not saying there’s necessarily reasons for everything, just that if you think there’s such a thing as intention in the universe or God, AT ALL, then you can’t simultaneously believe that someone “wasn’t meant to die” or that someone “shouldn’t have struggled the way they did”. What you really mean is that you’re super fucking sad that something happened and you don’t want to accept the reality.

Swearing is a brilliant pressure valve. I will evolve my swearing as I age to take advantage of the most cutting edge way of blunting my rage and having a good time with it. I will also periodically plumb language history to dig up and use ridiculous ancient expressions of rage and coarseness.

The least lovable human trait is bigotry. The most lovable human trait is non-violent expressions of protest to stand up for what is honorable and empathetic.

WRONG. The most lovable human trait is love itself.

You are me and I am you. We are all of us inextricably linked together via mitochondrial DNA. Get the fuck over it already.

I can see worms in the hearts of humans, and where there are worms there is rot. I would like strew sweet herbs across us all to dry out the rot and heal the wound.

I am a person forged of wild contradictions of spirit. I believe in peace and nonviolence with all of my skin and bones yet I also see myself as a warrior.

The passion and rawness with which I might describe my wishes and feelings is not always the same force that dictates my actions. Give more weight to my actions than my words.

I’ve met people who act as flashlights on the darkest nights, though they rarely know it. People whose smile alone can make a room incandescent with hope and love, though they rarely know it because they aren’t smiling for themselves but for YOU. They’re smiling because they see your potential straight through your skin, right through your heart.

That’s the person I want to be, the one lighting the way through the dark for others.

I might be too soggy to provide fire for the shivering but I’d like to think I might have a warm enough blanket to wrap them in.

That is all.

Peace, my friends.

But more than that, LOVE.

The Importance Of Skin

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This is one part of my fashion and beauty inspiration doors. The more diversity of skin the magazines include, the more you will see on my boards. I see beauty in all shades of skin. Missing: Asian models are the least represented in the magazines within my reach. I will need to get actual Chinese and Japanese fashion mags to see more Asian beauty!

I have been thinking a lot about skin in the last few days.

A twitter friend, Em Davey (@KromBoomEm), tweeted about seeing skin-lightening products all over the world but was particularly surprised to see them in Hawaii. My first thought was “Why would anyone want to lighten their skin?” and the next thought was the racist angle concerning white standards of beauty. But immediately following that I thought about the millions of white skinned women who spend tons of time and sometimes tons of money trying to make their skin darker through tanning. It was impossible to express all this without sounding either dismissive, racist, or annoyingly simplistic.

But for me, it really is simple: I think everyone should embrace the skin they’re born with. I think skin is beautiful in all the shades it comes in from so dusky it has an almost iridescent cast to it, to the palest that also has an almost iridescent cast to it. All of it. Every shade of natural skin, even my own occasionally annoying ruddy version of pale skin (moonlight skipped my skin, sadly), looks good on the person who was born with it.

To me, artificially changing one’s skin on purpose is a kind of self mutilation. White women working so hard to have darker skin weird me out. First of all, I don’t think it looks good, and second of all, it seems like an unhealthy obsession.

What I don’t understand at all is that in my country, where being a white person is supposedly such a huge privilege and whiteness of communities is something white people have been willing to protect with violence, why are so many white women working so damn hard to be LESS WHITE?

I don’t get it. I will never get it. If being white is so fucking superior, why do so many women work hard to get brown or orange skin?

I’ve thought about white women hating having actual white skin but I have rarely (probably because I’ve always lived in predominantly white communities) thought about women with brown skin trying to become lighter skinned. I didn’t know that was truly a thing outside of the rare Michael Jackson kind of – I don’t know if there’s a name for what he had – extreme whitening of his skin.

People: the skin you were born with, the shade it is when you use at least moderate protection to care for it, the shade it is when you go about living your life – that’s the shade that you’re meant to be. It’s the shade that goes best with the rest of you. Embrace the skin your in while also embracing the skin every one else is in.

I’m not saying I’m against enhancing or playing with one’s looks. I happen to very much enjoy make up and it’s fun to play with skin like a canvas. But make-up is superficial and you wash it off at the end of the day. I used to wear rice powder to be Kabuki-white. It was theatrical and fun, but not permanent. Make-up allows you to play dress-up but it doesn’t alter who you are on a cellular level.

Skin protects us. It holds our innards in. It filters junk before it can pollute our blood. It defends us, it also brings nutrients to us through light and air.

I can’t stand that skin color is used by so many (and no, not just white people) to judge other people’s character and worth. I hate that skin has become (or always has been) a political and personal tool for demoralizing and tearing other people down. It isn’t even just skin color but skin reveals things like who’s been working harder with their hands doing physical labor – something that in the past at least, was an actual barrier in society. Rough hands could keep you from taking any place of prominence in society.

What the ever-loving-goddamn-idiotic-fuck?

Humans can be so adamantly stupid.

I am declaring this the year of SKIN. What I would like is for everyone to take better care of the skin they’re in. Stop trying to significantly darken or lighten it. Don’t accept standards of beauty you can’t naturally fit into. Ruddy skis is NEVER going to be IN as far as beauty standards go, but this year, more than ever before, I will not only embrace my own skin but endeavor to take better care of it. Incidentally, most pictures of me don’t reveal my ruddiness. That comes and goes depending on temperature and lighting and exertion levels. I go red very easily and it isn’t generally with embarrassment. When I’m not flushed I’m medium pale with so many freckles that some people* claim I’m not even freckled.

I would like everyone to embrace the skin they’re born with. Care for it like the incredible organ it is. Care for it and love it and nurture it. If it’s naturally really dry, moisturize it. If it’s naturally really oily, wash it with gentle cleansers that offer more balance. Use sunscreen. Take care of your skin like it takes care of YOU.

Don’t bake in the sun like you’re a fucking pastry.

Don’t bleach your skin like it’s a fucking bathtub.

Love the skin you’re in and then love the skin everyone else is in too. This isn’t going to fix the world. It won’t make wars end. But seeing and appreciating everyone’s skin in all its shades is the first step to appreciating the precious spirits and hearts skin works so hard to protect.

*YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE

The Night Closes In

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I just saw the SNL episode where Ernest Borgnine made an appearance in “What Up With That”. He’s 93 years old and grins like a man who’s been in show business for 70 years and still hasn’t seen everything. He grins like a man who’s enjoying the fuck out of the weird but wonderful shenanigans of the industry he’s spent his whole life feeding with his own talent.

Or else he was on some really amazing psychedelics.

I love that he never got his tooth gap “fixed”. His smile would have lost that inimitable Borgnine quality that will never be seen again.

I want to have that grin, that fresh enjoyment of the world and all its wild permutations of life if I get to reach 93.

I just spent the first 42 minutes of the new year holding a kitten who, for the first time, expressed his wish to be held. The sound and vibration of purring is the same kind of joy I saw in Ernest Borgnine’s wide grin.

Ten minutes before 12am I asked Twitter what should be the last song I hear in 2014 and my night-owl writer friend Steven said it should be “Imagine”. So it is. Was. Is still.

First random thoughts of 2015:

I cherish the hope that Richard Armitage is not an asshole. Or a bigot. I cherish the hope that he is as handsome on the inside as he is on the outside.

I am very feminine in many ways and yet I still feel some of the gender ambiguity I experienced when I was a young teen. For a couple of my teen years l considered myself asexual. I have probably admitted that to some of my closest friends but I can’t remember ever saying that out loud.

I feel most comfortable and most natural in men’s shoes and clothes even though I love women’s clothes too.

I’m not invulnerable to rock ballads of the 80’s.

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t build a roller skate-based life.

Holy shit, I’ve had about a thousand beers now.

It’s that moment when I should either put “Total Eclipse of the Heart” on, or give in to sleep.

DUDES, I TOTALLY JUST PUT “TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE HEART” ON!

I don’t want to go to sleep. As long as I don’t go to sleep it won’t really be the new year. As long as I stay awake I can’t recognize the arbitrary passing of time.

Now I’m playing “Take On Me” and remembering how much listening to it when I was a teen made my stomach flutter. Totally at odds with my unsentimental suit-wearing self.

Seriously, have you not heard me admit to my own million contradictions until now?

Whatever.

I’m the Every-person. I’m woman, I’m man, I’m everyone you’ve ever met.

I don’t like three in the morning and we’re riding up hard on it’s petticoat now.

In my youth, if I could choose to be any man, I’d choose Bowie. Now I’d choose to be Ejiofor.

I wonder how differently my teenage friends saw me than I saw myself?

More frighteningly, I wonder what how differently my siblings saw me than I saw myself?

I’m tired. I’m half asleep. I’ve put my kitten to bed.

I wish all the wishes for you.

All of you.

LOVE.

 

 

Me and My (faux)Religion

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You know how so many people get depressed on New Year’s Eve because, for some reason, they feel obligated to trot out all the things they didn’t accomplish and stare really hard at all the ways they haven’t been amazing? Well, dammit, I want to get on that bummer-train too! Why should an old hag like me be left out of this tradition of being bummed out at impossible life standards not being met and epic dreams not coming true? I’ve got myself one ticket for the sleeper car reserved for the UN-COOLEST-PEOPLE that offers sparkling beverages that have gone flat and stale.

This year Jasika Nicole and Kirsten Vangsness still aren’t following me on Twitter.

(Are they completely unaware that I will write books that will be made into movies and shows and that I will write starring characters that kick mother-fucking-ass for both of them?! And that when I accept my awards for best screenplays (shut up – I’m totally going to learn how to do this soon) wearing my beautiful black suit covered in real butterflies I will be thanking them for being such inspiring women?! DO THEY NOT KNOW THIS YET?)*

Clearly I have failed at my coolness goals once again.**

Hang on, you know what? This is bogus. Everyone I know has some day or thing that is magical for them. Some belief that helps them hang on through the rough times. Some of you believe in God. Some of you believe in multiple Gods. Some of you, and may God help you, believe in Santa Clause. Some of you truly believe in elves and fairies and fairytales. I don’t believe in any of that.

I believe in new beginnings. I believe in fresh chapters. Blank pages upon which anything may be written. This day is the symbolic changing of the year. It’s merely symbolic because calenders are a thing humans invented to mark time and get depressed about, not nature.  Nature didn’t need this artifice and I think some people could successfully argue that nothing changes between today and tomorrow. The Chinese new year isn’t for another month and a half so for some people the symbolic change isn’t even happening tonight.

Feel free to call this the one little bit of “magic” I believe in. That we can reset ourselves and our attitudes. Yeah, maybe by tomorrow morning reality kicks my ass. No matter how often that happens, I still believe that New Year’s Eve is the night to recalibrate our wishes, our goals, our intentions. It’s not the time to look back at how much you didn’t do but to remember that as long as you aren’t dead yet, you just might have time to do a few more things.

But tonight doesn’t require lists or declared goals or intentions if you don’t want it to. It can be a quiet meditation. One to clear your head completely or one to fill your head with your favorite things. How you view this turning of the calendar is up to you.

I choose to stay home and drink beer and sometimes champagne and think about good things. I think about how I’d like to improve myself as a person. We are always in the process of “becoming” until we die so that even though I’m middle aged now, I imagine how I’d like to be a new improved version of myself each year I’m still stuck on this earth.

I’m not even going to “look back” on this year in the systematic way I usually do. I’m not interested in summing up or keeping score. I’m not going to go look at my post from a year ago to see what I said and see how it compared to the actual year that unfolded. For the moment I still have my memory and don’t need to poke it. I’m more interested in the now and the future and all the possibilities that lie in between those two points.

Maybe a little later I’ll write my version of mapping the future in a series of lists.

If new beginnings was my religion, lists would be my scripture.

Amen.

*It would seem so. Sigh.

**Clearly they will never read this post and this is an unnecessary precaution but I once said I’d never marry a Sagittarius and you can see how THAT turned out**. So just in case of impossible cases: Jasika and Kirsten, please don’t worry that I’ve pointed you out as top of my cool-women-O-meter. I know you’re human. I fully expect human-ness of you. No crazy-ass fan-hood going on here. Spit-promise!****

***I married a Sagittarius.

****I can see how a spit promise might seem a little on the creepy side. I’m not taking it back though. It’s less creepy than a blood-promise and due to the ick-factor, much more serious than a pinky-promise.

The Cumberbatch and Ackles Dream Edition

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People aren’t much different or smarter than a bunch of sardines. I mean, sardines don’t pack themselves into tin boxes voluntarily the way humans do. We like to think we’re so smart and so superior but I think this is proof of our collective stupidity as a species.

There’s a tuxedo kitten galloping all over my office. Geronimo the not-so-feral-anymore foster kitten is having a mega battle with my striped tennis shoe. We’re talking full-body wrestling match. I love the way kittens will flop down with sudden exhaustion in the middle of play.

I opened my manuscript yesterday for the first time in weeks. It felt awesome. I did very little as I had a lot of other stuff I had to do. I started organizing my kitchen pantry and cupboards. It’s a huge job. I also started doing the same in my office. But I’m glad I took an hour to write. This must happen a lot more. But my prediction that getting a day job would mean giving up my novel writing has so far proved correct. My family needs me, I need to work, and then there’s very little time left. People with more general energy than me can cram a lot more into their time. I’m not those people.

Trying to get my apothecary products to sell also takes time but will hopefully result in becoming a viable part time business eventually.

One of my main financial goals is to make enough money to put some aside for old age.  Being poor and old is one of the worst things I can imagine. I may not have Max to take care of me and Philip. Maybe he won’t be able to. Then what? Life sure is a fragile piece of shit.

Whoa – I just saw a white kid skate by who had a mullet/afro combo. That is something I have never before seen.

I am reminded of the last time I was at Kaiser and the woman in front of me had a baby on her back in one of those baby backpacks. But as she was fighting with the pharmacist I noticed the baby didn’t move at all. Not a twitch. Even for a sleeping baby that seemed kind of off. The more she stood there arguing in front of me the more I stared at her baby pack and started worrying that the baby might be dead. Then she flounces off in a huff and I realize the baby is fake. Not a baby doll, just a stuffed baby snow-suit with hat and no baby and no doll. I can’t tell you how I could tell but I’m telling you that that woman was carrying a faux-baby on her back. It was like those teddy bear back packs but human. It was disturbing. I got a flash of her in my mind replacing her own dead baby with a faux-baby because she can’t accept her baby’s death.

I injured my leg two days ago and can hardly sleep because of it. It’s not in constant pain like it was the first night. I just can’t get my legs comfortable. In spite of this I did manage to have an epic dream in two parts last night. Here are the highlights that I can remember:

Jensen Ackles and I were running from someone and heading to a safe fort that was high up a rocky hill and in the trees. We were transporting onions. The onions had to be brought with us. Suddenly, right when I needed to climb up and over a very steep bit of tree limb I was hugely pregnant. I was the one carrying all the onions and between them and my belly I couldn’t quite climb over the place I needed to. Jensen helped me climb over but still made me carry the onions. What a handsome douche-pickle! We finally made it to the hideout and I commenced to make soup. To attempt to make soup. I was no longer pregnant but definitely didn’t give birth. Other people were joining us from other places and we were no longer that isolated. People were coming by bus and having bus mishaps. While I was trying to make soup. One of my internet friends, Déborah, joined us and wanted some of the soup. But I noticed I had accidentally put chocolate in it. Not a lot but enough to ruin it. I stirred and the chocolate turned it brown. She tried some anyway, laughing about how chocolate makes everything better. A sentiment I don’t share, not really liking chocolate myself. We agreed that even if it was awful it must not be wasted. Wasted food is no okay.

Later I’m dressed in a snazzy dress, really done up, hat and all. I don’t know why. Quite a few things happened in this second dream segment that I can’t remember. They led up to me joining Benedict Cumberbatch and some other friends for a picnic (or something) in the park. I go looking for them and find them playing games. I don’t play games but everyone else is dressed to the nines too and I decide to keep tagging along. In real life I enjoy Cumberbatch’s acting, I don’t have a crush on him. In the dream it was clear that we were mutually interested in each other. No, I wasn’t married in this dream so don’t worry about Philip. Anyway, nothing but disappointment follows as the group moves to new spots in the park the park becomes more like an underground maze with little lawns on different levels and I realize I’ve left my purse where I first met up with the group and I go after it. But then I can’t find the group again. Before it could turn into a real stress dream or nightmare, I woke up.

It was nice not having a stressful or scary dream. I mean, parts of it were, but only mildly like in a suspenseful movie, not where I’ve got palpitations and panic and bad shit happens. I call that a good dream.

It’s 1pm so I think it’s time I logged off and got back to organizing my office. Or my pantry. I have tons of jars to clean. Or plant my garlic cloves. SO MANY CHOICES. I would write but I’m trying to get everything clean and organized in order to make it easier to write more often, as I mentioned the other day. Now, while I have a week off from work is the best time to do the household stuff. Otherwise I’m too tired for big projects after work.

Off I go! I hope you are all having a great Monday! Or at least a good one. Or one that doesn’t completely suck would even be acceptable considering how many people are back at work today.

The News Fast Begins Today: Plans for 2015

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I’m going on a news fast. I’m even going to exclude The Daily Show. That’s a serious news fast. I will click on zero news stories or links on Facebook. No news for 3 months. My mental health needs this. I went without news for years before and it helps my mental state tremendously. It helps me to hate humans less. Right now, my opinion of humans is at an all time low.

I’m also going to stop drinking again. I have until my birthday to decide for how long. When the drinking hiatus is over I plan to not have alcohol in the house. I plan for it to be something we go out for but not sit at home with.

During that time I want to clean out and organize my house. We’ve been here 2.5 years now and that seems about right for how long it takes me to really figure a house out. The minute I figure it out, it seems, something calamitous happens and I have to move. While that may end up happening again, I can’t live my life on the expectation of calamities any more than I can live it on expectation of success.

Expectation is the direct door to disappointment.

So I’m not going to worry about what may or may not happen after I get my house just how I want it to be. I’m going to move forward and make it awesome. Cleaned out and spruced up. Unfunctional made functional.

This is how I will move towards balancing the necessity to work so we can pay our bills and the necessity to write. I need a streamlined well organized comfortable and inspiring space. That will take a lot of energy and time, of course. On Stitch and Boots I’m going to list what needs to happen room by room. A  co-worker mentioned that a friend of hers did that and I think it’s brilliant. I will organize what needs to be tackled and then I can refer to the list to find small things to deal with if I get overwhelmed by the project as a whole.

Those three things are going to be the focus of this year. At least in the beginning. The second half will be more about growing my apothecary sales enough to warrant calling it my “apothecary business”. And I want to finish the second draft of Cricket and Grey book 2 by the end of 2015.

I have declared it. So shall it possibly-maybe-probably-hopefully BE.

I’m not going to wish I slept more after I’m dead.

looking into the light

Life is too short for bad folk songs and worse country songs – I’ve been forced to hear more than my share this week so I’m listening to Pete Seeger for the length of this sentence.

I’ve already moved on to Bob Dylan.

Life is too short for protracted regrets. Life is full of bullshit, unfair bullshit, and as if that wasn’t enough, there’s also all the horseshit to fill up all the spaces not already bubbling with the bullshit. If you want to dwell on the rich ripe hot shit patties, that’s your prerogative, but if that’s what you focus on then that’s what will define your time here the most.

Aren’t you glad I didn’t say “moist” just then?

I love the way sunglasses look but I dislike wearing them because I don’t like natural light being altered.

I was at the art store today and as I was leaving I thought about how weird it would be if I saw Jason Sudeikis in the parking lot.

I find myself cautious about my dreams now but it’s a minor miracle that I still have them at all, so there’s that.

I would like to qualify that last statement with the fact that when I say “miracle” I always mean it figuratively as I don’t actually believe in miracles of any kind.

Don’t let that stop you from fully embracing your own weird belief in “inexplicable” things that amaze you. It’s cool to be amazed by things and if you choose to think of them as “miraculous”, why not?

Except for childbirth. The only thing miraculous about child birth is that women keep voluntarily going through it.

Forgiving a person doesn’t mean you have to continue to interact with them. I think people sometimes see forgiveness as an all-inclusive Vegas-style buffet that includes letting people walk all over your carpet again no matter how worn down it’s become from their heavy tread. Forgiveness is something that happens in your heart and your spirit, where you let someone’s wrongs and lashes against you wash clean and leave your consciousness. It doesn’t mean they necessarily get to come back into your life. Sometimes the most important part of forgiveness is setting fresh terms of engagement.

Forgiveness is about letting go. If your forgiveness depends on apologies, fealty paid to your gravel-filled shoes, or any kind of begging – it isn’t genuine and you aren’t ready.

The thing I keep thinking about the most these past few months is the importance of forgiveness. The true stuff. The forgiveness where you not only let go of what others have done to you but you acknowledge your own part in the transaction and forgive yourself too.

I’ve got a private list of people I’ve forgiven and the last person on that list every time is myself.

I’m going to go on a news-fast for a while. I need it desperately. Being engaged in current events is painful and corrosive even as it keeps you awake to all the bullshit which is necessary if you want to help clean it all up.

Life is too short for self delusion. It sucks at your leaden feet until you sink farther down than you can breath.

Life is too short for – I wanted to say life is too short for sleep – but that’s just because I’m writing this at almost 2am and I have to work tomorrow. I’ll pay heavily but I like to think it’s worth it since I’m going to die at some point and I’m not going to be wishing I got more sleep when I’m dead as much as I’m going to wish I’d spoken my mind while I had a corporeal voice.

Listen up: if you’ve got wings, spread’em. If you’ve got dreams, float them on the river of hope. If you’ve got friends, hold them up in the incandescent light you reserve for heroes.

Stop worrying about what comes after all of this and how you’re going to explain your sad ghost to the living.

 

I’m Definitely Not the Sound-bite Queen

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

Also, I’m not that wisdomous.

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

Those are a lot of conditions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lemon Blossoms Quieter Than Me

lemon blossom

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

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

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

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

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

I have to stop and be thankful for that too.

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t believe in regret.

A belief that has been tested again and again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have that much to give.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Secret Messages on Pancakes

tiny GJ plane

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15 Stocking Stuffers That Don’t Suck

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3x Wound Salve

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