But Not Like This

A hundred times I’ve laid down in the middle of a dream and waited for it to finish lying to me and I hold my hand out to someone I don’t know who’s waiting for their dream to stop lying too. We always find each other. It’s like the worst prom in the world where everyone is chewing through the walls with chainsaws and knives and eventually the slow song ends and everyone waits in silence for the dust to settle before running to the exits in panic. I want to exit too, but not like this.

We is me and you and her and him and they and the everyone hanging out in the unknown dark waiting to emerge clean and new-baptized in their own skin to the truth that shines through them into the light where we all end up. But not like this, not like this.

Water rises over bridges, mountains fall down across plains. Spirits rise above bones, ashes fall down across memories like butterflies smothering tissue-thin blossoms. We reflect everything around us and everything reflects us back. I have clothed myself in black and chains, moving through your life recklessly like the thing you try to lock away but can’t keep hidden. You hate me because you hate yourself. I have clothed myself in wreaths of blossoms with my hair falling to my waist. You love me because I remind you of your young heart. I see it crushed, we all get crushed. But not like this, not like this.

I will give myself over to the light when it releases me from the shadows where I’ve grown taller than my fears. When it becomes more than what I’ve found in the dark. I’ll give myself over to the light when there aren’t any hard questions left, when I’ve run out of coins for this parking meter of lost souls. I will give myself over to the light when there’s a surfeit of love for the broken down queens of solace. When the richest see themselves reflected in the faces of the poor. I will give myself over to the light when it lays down for me first. But not like this, please, not like this.

 

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All Your Unasked Questions About Grieving Answered

(This picture is relevant because of concrete, or because of rain being something weird people associate with sadness. Whatever, I just like this picture and I bet no one wants to see more pics of my brother’s ‘human remains’ box.)

Angelina Answers ALL your Unasked Questions About Mourning Etiquette

Q: What is the right way to mourn?

There’s no such thing as a right or wrong way to grieve. There certainly are healthier versus more destructive ways to mourn and if you choose to drink yourself to oblivion I refuse to judge you but you can expect the people who love you to worry and maybe try to temper your choice. But that’s because they love you. If you were to ask my advice I would say to do your best to choose the healthiest ways of grieving that you can, but it’s okay to fall apart and it’s okay not to fall apart.

Q: My cousin is freaked out that he hasn’t seen me cry over my mother’s death, am I a creepy fuck?

To cry or not to cry… a tough dilemma for no one but idiots. Some people don’t cry when they lose someone close to them, it isn’t the more common reaction and will freak some people out. Feel free to ignore those bossy fuckers. Some people will cry constantly, some moderately, some will only cry on Tuesdays, and some just don’t cry. Sometimes you can’t actually see their hearts on their sleeves or in their throats. Sometimes they’re calm because their beliefs allow them to be and some people look calm but are being shredded with sorrow inside where it’s safe and private.

Q: Everyone thinks I’m a rubbernecker and insensitive because I want to know all the details about how ______ died, should I retire from society and live in a cave?

I’ve been fantasizing about living in a remote cave for over two decades, but not because the first thing I always want to know when I find out someone has died is HOW? It’s absolutely natural and normal. In fact, a lot of people want to know the details but a lot of people are taught that this is ghoulish and insensitive. It’s not. It’s an incontrovertible fact that we’re all going to die so it isn’t surprising that when other humans around us die we feel connected to it almost on an animal level. How’d they go? Was it painful? Could that happen to me? What does it LOOK like? In fact, it would be weird as shit if most humans had no curiosity about how the people around them are dying. However, sometimes the people closest to the death don’t want to share those details and that’s also normal. Don’t be offended if they choose not to satiate your curiosity, they may be feeling protective of their loved one in a way that you wouldn’t.

Q: I want to drape my house in black sashes, accept lots of lasagnas from neighbors, and wear nothing but lavender for two years but my neighbors won’t bake me lasagna because they’re scared of me now that my windows are covered in black and my mom won’t bring me lasagna cause she says I’m being melodramatic. What to do?

Sigh. I love lasagna. There’s nothing you can do about how others react to how you’re expressing your sorrow. The Victorians were obsessed with lavender as a mourning color and draping everything in black so I suggest you set up a fancy chair in your yard and wearing your very best lavender ensemble and visibly read something depressing like The Mill on the Floss or Madame Bovary (which I HATED). You might even consider enhancing your ensemble with a veil. If your neighbors think your show of grief is inappropriate, bizarre, or really bad theatre they can fuck right off. Your grief isn’t a show they get to direct.

Q: I just found out _____ died and I didn’t know them as well (or at all) as others do but I’m still having trouble dealing with it and I’m super sad. Am I allowed to be as sad as people who knew ____ better than me?

When David Bowie died I cried and then stayed up until 3am trying to process my sadness and then asked to stay home from work the next day so I could be sad without judgement or expectation. I didn’t know him personally at all but he made my life such a better place so I was deeply affected by his death. Being sad and having trouble accepting or processing a person’s death isn’t reserved just for the people who knew them super well. Your sorrow is real and you never have to apologize for it to anyone. Your sadness isn’t less important than anyone else’s.

Q: When my wife died I only felt better when I wore her underwear but then my kids found out and want to know if I’m a lot creepier than they used to think I was.

See the first Q, there is no wrong way to express grief or make yourself feel better. Is it hurting anyone? Is it hurting you? No? Carry on! I’m actually more worried that they seemed to have already thought you were creepy. Maybe you want to have a good talk with them, but in the end, if wearing your wife’s underwear is what helps you deal with her loss then you DO IT. For my own sake I’m going to assume they’re all freshly laundered. We all wore my brother’s hats when he died. I still wear one sometimes when I miss him.

Q: My mom wanted to throw out all of my dad’s things when he died. Is she some kind of sociopath? How could she not care about his things?

I don’t know if she’s a sociopath or not but I know that some people feel no attachment to a person’s effects when they die. For some people, when you’re dead your gone and your things aren’t going to bring you back or make them feel better. Some people feel a strong connection to the things that belonged to a loved one who’s died. It’s normal both ways. If you really want to know if she’s a sociopath I suggest searching through HER things to see if there’s any evidence of bed-wetting, dead pet carcasses in boxes, or secret fires. I hear those are the things to be worried about if you find evidence of all three.

Q: When my partner died all I wanted to do was fold myself up into a tiny little envelope of pain and roll down the river styx. Why can’t I do that? Why won’t anyone let me do that?!

Because people are selfish bitches and they don’t want you to fade away from them. Isn’t love stupid? But look, wanting to float away and ignore everyone around you is natural and okay. It really is. You aren’t actually obligated to think of other people’s feelings in your grief. But if you could bring yourself to check in with the people who love you enough so that they can give you the space you need without worrying so hard, you might find they try harder to understand and respect that the way you’re dealing with loss is the best way you know how.

 

If you find I haven’t answered ALL your unasked questions as promised, I’m afraid you’ll have to submit questions in order for me to answer them. Go ahead, give it a try!

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Can’t Fold the Day Away Like This

I can’t fold each day away as neatly as I need to, like starched sheets in a haunted hospital. I can’t turn the lights out on unfinished thoughts and unshed tears. I can’t brush this ache away that’s stretching itself out in my chest and filling my head with thin cobwebs of spent affection I have to lay on gravestones now. I can’t go to sleep with the trees bent double over your heart shedding leaves like tiny weightless bones. I can’t be done with today when it means I have to leave you where you cannot follow.

We collected souls like broken seashells we hoped to glue back together and send back into the big soup to swim to fresh shores where open coconuts and cool shade protect new life. We collected each other the same way and I see now what I couldn’t see before – that this was a contest of wills versus the great weight of sorrow filling every pore. I thought all I needed to do was give you a map of every person who loves you and you’d find your way back from the deep waves trying to swallow you whole.

You called last drinks while I was down. It wasn’t fair, but I can’t put up walls between us when we’ve been imprisoned in the same dark rooms. I don’t have it me to be angry at reflections of the darkest parts of my own spirit I’ve seen in you. I don’t have it in me to blame you for letting go of this godforsaken place. But your going means I have to fight harder, hold on tighter to the sinking ship this planet is because when one mother leaves the others must hug tighter the vulnerable, the lost, and the broken.

And what are you doing now? Watching us weep? Weeping with us? I don’t know where you are or what fire you’re breathing but you better be dancing, running, and catching assholes in your douche-net. I was going to say I expect more of you now than before. But this isn’t true, and we both know it. You’re free now of all expectations and service.

In ways I can never explain to the living we’re closer than ever before because now you’re everywhere I am, you’re everywhere I go, you’re everywhere I want to be. You’re there in my uncomfortable dreams and in the arch of my shoes. There’s nowhere you aren’t now. That’s the beauty that’s hard to hold onto when the heart is full of pain and loss. But just beyond it, you’re everywhere and we carry you through to the places your body has never been.

 

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For Sonya by Hayley Humphrey (a guest post)

It is so hard to find a beginning to a piece I don’t want to write, something that I wish there was no need to write. There are so many things that I want and need to say.

I have no wish to say goodbye, I simply wish to honour a dear friend and pay tribute to her.

I was lucky to find Sonya early on in my Twitter journey, she had an energy and humour that were impossible to resist. I had found a kindred spirit and she led me to so many more kindred spirits. We had a #tribe. For the first time In my life I belonged to a tribe of the most creative,loving people from all classes, backgrounds,genders. We were people who didn’t just use Twitter to sell or promote, but to chat, to empathize, to laugh and joke and post silly pictures. I saw Sonya as our #tribe leader, the Mother Earth of us.

I loved Sonya’s art, her humorous animals, her illustrations of people. Sorry Jennie, but I will always picture you wearing Crocs and carrying a bumbag. Sonya did some brilliant drawings of some her tribe. She had offered to draw me but I felt self conscious about how I would look, that and fearful of understanding the technology involved to get a picture of me to her. So I never took her up on her offer. I so wish I had. I wanted her to draw me as a small, deaf Super Hero, delivering hugs anywhere they were needed. I’m sorry Sonya I wasn’t brave enough to trust your pencil.

I had this fantasy that we would meet up in the flesh one day and now I have to let the dream go.

I see Sonya as having presented to us a colourful kaleidoscope of art, of hilarious tweets, funny photos, when on the other end of her kaleidoscope, was a pain and depression that could block out the light and the laughter.

I do not see it as a weakness that she could not stay with us, depression is a strong enemy to fight. It tells you lies, presents you with a reality that is dark, lonely and incredibly painful, sometimes even the best medicine, the best of love from those close is not enough to stop the darkness, to let the light back in.

But I do not want to remember Sonya with the sorrow and regret. I loved her too much for that.

I will remember the joy that she gave me and the rest of the #tribe. I’ll remember reading the threads of tweets between her and Niko, the pun bating. There had been many occasions when I would cry with laughter at the threads of tweets between her and Niko and others too, and then could not explain to hubby what I was laughing about.

I will remember the stories and photos of Fat Cat and Fang. I will remember her love of Beyoncé, of science, of fast cars, and dinosaurs.

When my Writers Block was getting me down we would discuss how to tame my sucky muse. We tried out varying scenarios but the best one was to tie my muse to the chair and tell her ‘shut up and write’

I am not saying goodbye as I believe that the people we have lost live on inside us. Without Sonya it is like all the colour has been removed from the world and all is grey, the colour will come back, but not for a while.

Losing Sonya made me think how terribly sad it is that we wait until somebody has left us to tell them just how amazing they are, how important they are to you. So in Sonya’s memory tell your family and friends that they are wonderful, give help and support to these battling with depression. And me I will forever imagine my muse tied to a chair, in Sonya’s memory.

In my forever novel, I am writing about my version of heaven. In my heaven everyone has their own piece of heaven that is filled with what ever they want in it.

I am imagining Sonya, driving a fast car, Fat Cat in the passenger seat. Running alongside the car are several dinosaurs. And Sonya is telling Fat Cat ‘See Fat Cat no feathers on the dinosaurs’

Goodnight my friend, thank you for your love and friendship. I will miss you and I will train my muse in your memory.

My love always

Hayley X

Letter to Sonya

I’ve been putting off writing to you, writing about you, letting myself access my feelings about your sudden exit stage right. I’ve skirted my grief, I’ve tried talking to you about this big-ass elephant in the room with my eyes closed as though I might be able to find your spirit if I concentrate hard enough and then hold hard to your collar-bone or your writing wrist, or any part of you I have never even seen in person.

I’m afraid that if I don’t say everything I know about you/knew about you that I’ll vomit it up in my sleep and choke to death on it. The most important thing anyone needs to know about you is that you have a bigger hard-on for Beyonce than Jay Z. Haha. Just kidding, Jay Z’s was just a little bit bigger than yours. You love cheese (though I always secretly suspected you loved it less than I do), pizza, salsa, chips, but talking about any other food bored you. Or at least you said it did until this year you started to get kind of excited about cooking new things. You ridiculed me for my use of cloth napkins and we almost came to fisticuffs over it. But mostly that was because you ganged up on me with that guy who shall not be named and Jennie too. I only minded because I’m an awkward git who doesn’t always follow the joke and I wasn’t sure how to be cool in a situation that obviously called for being cool when I’m just not that cool.

I learned that sometimes when you get an idea or a joke in your head you’re like a gangling puppy who gets so excited you trip over your front paws and overwhelm people with your enthusiasm to the point that people push back. I was so happy to find I wasn’t the only grown-up who does that. For all you could sometimes accidentally bite harder than people expected, you were wickedly funny most of the time while still being the kindest person I’ve ever met. Sometimes I would read along with your conversations with others on Twitter and laugh out loud but not take part myself because I knew I couldn’t keep up and would ruin the jokes. Your humor was infectious and light and it was like a shot of morphine in a dark terrible world.

You loved SEX. SEX is good. Remember when we took part in that writers’ talk about sex in novels with other writer friends? That’s the first time I started getting to know you. I’m pretty sure when you heard me talk like sex is nice and all but not earth shattering you were stunned into disbelief. We were that different over the things that didn’t matter so much.

You love exercise, fitness, physical activity of all kinds, ACTION.

You loved those things. You loved animals more than most humans and this is something we always had in common. You could hear the world outside you, you couldn’t shut it out, and so much of the time it was torture. For me too. There have been few people in my life who could hear it all the way I could so finding out you heard all the pain in the world like I do made you a kindred spirit. I know that hearing one story about an abused animal could make you want to mother the whole world as strongly as you wanted to shut it the fuck down. Neither of us could do much more than witness and testify, which, honestly is much too religious sounding for either of us.

You were one of the kindest and most fierce women I’ve ever known. You lifted other women up all the time, every day. You reached into the darkness and lifted scared and weeping souls up into the light as though it was as ordinary as making a grilled cheese sandwich. Your reach has been long, your bright influence has been felt across a universe of unstable stars.

You had no patience for a multitude of stupidities. I loved that about you.

We loved all the animals, even the awkward ones. Even the snarly ones. The furless, patchy, greedy, toothy, grumpy, fluffy, little, enormous, clumbsy, graceful, and feral ones. There was no such thing as an unlovable non-human animal.

You loved cars. Fast cars. Vintage ones. Red ones. Porche ones. Whatever.

You loved unstintingly, without shade, without pause. The people you loved knew they were loved.

I know you loved me. I know you understood me and still loved me. You wouldn’t let me remain silent very long. Mother hen, reeling your flock in to check for fox damage. You were one of the best defenses against overwhelming despair of the magnitude that could lead to suicide.

So here we are. I know how hard you’ve tried hanging onto your meat-cage in the last couple of years. I know how fucking hard it’s been and I know that it’s your husband and daughters who’ve ultimately kept you hanging on even though you might not have even let them know quite how bad things have gotten in your mind and your heart. I know the people you most desperately wanted to protect, you held back the tides for the most. They might have preferred the flood.

I thought you’d made it past the brimstone burning at your heart. I thought you’d gotten past the gatekeeper of hope.

I can’t think of anything I might have done or said differently and yet I want to go back and do things differently.

I know that there was nothing anyone could have done in the moment you signed off. Not the power of God or the Devil would have had any effect in that moment. Not your family, not your friends. I believe you were overcome by the ugly noise of the world we live in. Maybe there was a different better medication you could have taken, maybe there were different choices all of us could have made all along the way, but I don’t think it would have mattered in the moment you said “ENOUGH”.

I can’t lie, Sonya, part of me is jealous. It’s not what I’m supposed to feel, but part of me knows that the ugliness can’t reach you now. Just like with my brother. I don’t believe in heaven or hell but the one thing I’m sure of is that the torture of everyday life goes quiet when you leave the shell of your body behind. I believe you’re at peace now. I’m not coddling myself with this belief. I’m not trying to fit a crown of kittens onto my misshapen head so that I can feel better about you being gone. Nothing’s really going to make me feel better about you being gone. A life of abuse and torture melts away when there’s no corporeal body left to hurt. The slights and torments of seeing with eyes that can be poked out, of hearing with ears that can be ruptured, and feeling with skin that can be burnt to bone can’t reach you where you are now and for that I’m thankful. You were too full of the world’s pain to bear any more.

Your love was bigger than you could hold onto with your small frame. You filled rooms with it, you filled pages with it, you filled silence with it. No one could fill the empty spaces it left in you fast enough. We were all running fast with your heart trying to stitch the holes up with thread but it kept breaking and breaking and breaking apart in the eye of needles too small for our fingers to find in the dark.

Now that I’ve started writing to you I don’t want to stop because it will feel too much like a real goodbye. I can’t do that, can’t say goodbye to you.

There are a lot of people who don’t understand what kind of strong bonds can be made between people online. We know better how bonds between introverts actually thrive when we get to control the flow of conversation, walking away when we need to, coming back when we’re ready. We conduct what I think can legitimately be called endless threads of conversation. There’s no real beginning or ending. We just pick up the thread when we need to or want to and let it drop when we’re feeling raw and edgy.

You have been like a spirit sister to me. You find me when I’m lost, tease me when I’m too serious, inspire me to move forward when I’m at low ebb, and make me laugh hard just because that’s the best thing any of us on earth can do.

You confided in me and I cherished your trust because I know how hard it was for you to tell anyone what you were really feeling for fear you’d be a burden, cause pain to them, or scare them. I know the thought of hurting others emotionally caused you physical pain. There were times you knew you hurt someone without meaning to and it tortured you for days, sometimes weeks. And they never knew it, fucking idiots.

I was going to brave Texas and Texas weather, nail fashions, overabundance of cowboy boots, and dust to see you. If I could afford it I’d been flying down there now to say goodbye in person. It’s disgusting how money can be a hard barrier between friends in different states.

I was going to send you the seeds from the California poppy you saw a picture of from my yard (see above). I waited a month for seed pods to ripen and now they’re sitting on my desk going nowhere. In the last several months you’ve been photographing wildflowers and it hasn’t escaped my observation that they’re an apt analogy for people like you and me. Especially you. You bloomed hard and fierce and bright and got better and more beautiful after hard frosts and soil-cracking droughts. You rose up above the hard scrabble and opened your face to the world with a kind of fierce challenge. You shouted out over storms and through still mornings the same challenge every day that you were made of swords and meat and lean muscle (and probably pizza too), and that no one could get past you to hurt the ones you love the most.

And then, like a wildflower, you vanished from the landscape just as fast as you arrived in it.

“You are not awful and this is why I love you. (Feel free to engrave that on your urn)” were the last words you said to me. (<—-for anyone who knew Sonya this is pretty much an expression of UNDYING FRIENDSHIP. The only way that comment could have delivered more Sonya love is if she invited me to engrave that on a giant piece of cheese.)

I can’t be angry with you for leaving, but I’m gutted by your permanent absence. You made my daily life so much richer, so much better. Knowing you were out there holding your heart and soul up above the floodwaters gave me so much more courage than I had before, made me feel like I can do this impossible thing. And now I have to do the impossible without your example, without your laughter, without Fatcat and Fang. I might be just a little bit angry about that.

I love you Sonya.

Take Your Own Arrows

cremains

I went to my first therapy intake in years the other day. All the hours of my life cried out to be seen and heard and accounted for. I’m never in therapy at my darkest moments so I come with some unintentional armor guarding my heart and my entrails. It takes so little to dent the anger-tempered metal.

It feels important to tell every psychologist that my dad once told me to vacuum the lawn and that though it filled me with doubt about the order of the universe I did it because I was too scared not to. The words always dry up in my throat because it’s ridiculous to tell anyone that I have, in true fact, vacuumed a lawn.

I know I could use a silent ear regarding Zeke’s death. I’m not sure what I can say when a thousand things are always trying to speak at once through me in a giant coagulating mess of noise. I miss him. I think the hardest thing is that I expected to die before him and yet, here I am. I would have taken every pain in his stead, but that’s not how life works. I have to take my own arrows, collect my own offal in pails arranged carefully under a thousand leaks in my body.

I believe our personal power and our greatest weaknesses always stem from the same source. The things that make us vulnerable also makes us strong. Perhaps I think of it in too simplified terms for some, but for me it comes down to the idea that light can’t exist without dark, that cold is meaningless without heat, and good has no context without bad. I even named my company after this concept; sugar and pith – the sweet and the bitter. I don’t believe in fairy tales because they’re obsessed with vanquishing the dark so that light can prevail, but morning is nothing without dusk. Fairy tales are incomplete stories, bastards of the truth which is ultimately more rewarding as well as devastating than fantasy.

I need a therapist to help me swim to the bubbling sunlit surface of water from a thousand feet deep in the alien darkness full of changelings and dancing muscles. Can therapists do that?

The greatest gift in my life has been the long slow discovery that I’m not alone in this dark.

It’s peopled with a thousand spirits kin to me. When I stop struggling to swim and let the waves tow me under I can hear all of them speaking with buoyancy at the same time; with joy and love and the fear stripped from them like it was nothing more than thin streams flooding porous tidal stones.

Can there be reconciliation for as many selves as I have been?

 

Suicide Contagion

the furry hat

I haven’t been able to truly write in ages. I don’t even know how long it’s been at this point. I just started to write again before my brother died. I was starting to work on Suicide for Beginners and then I was thrown into such a terrible wave of my own shock, depression, and grief that I couldn’t wade through without getting lost. So I drifted further away from the page until it felt dangerous to try to access this project.

You can retreat from things that call to you for a while, maybe even for years, but eventually their noise gets to be so loud you can’t hear anything else above them. I don’t feel ready to write about suicide and all the people who opened up their veins to take my survey and yet I feel an incredible responsibility to my tribe to sit down here and find my way because it isn’t just my thoughts and experiences needing sharing, it’s so many other people’s voices and experiences that need to be held up to the light of love and empathy.

I just heard the expression “suicide contagion” for the first time and it makes me feel incredibly angry and protective of my tribe. This is the same ignorance that made people believe that listening to heavy metal could make you commit violent crimes. It implies that people are so suggestible that a song or a tale of suicide can inspire a person to do something completely out of character that they would never have done if it weren’t for someone setting the example for them first.

Let me tell you that no one, NO ONE, commits suicide to be cool or make a point or to cease to exist unless they already had the urge, the impulse, or lacked the self preservation of mentally healthy people. So check yourself and your fucking dreams of contagion to explain away your heartbreak at losing a loved one to suicide.

I don’t honestly know if finishing my project will make a difference but what I do know is that I can’t sit back and not fight for all of us who struggle with depression and anxiety. So many of us are more scar than flesh. So many of us are hanging onto thin threads for lifelines even though we have, collectively, such an incredible long list of people we’d give our whole selves to protect and love.

Not sure I’ve ever truly deeply loved a person who wasn’t mentally compromised to some degree and brilliantly lovely.

There are so many things to fight for. None of us can fight for everything every day. What an overwhelming burden it is to live in such a broken world. What an overwhelming thing it is to live at all. What a terrible burden it is to be born and have to carry this heavy mantle of imposed expectation to make of this abbreviated time on earth matter to other people.

Suicide isn’t contagious. Mental illness isn’t contagious. If someone you love seems to “suddenly” succumb to the influence of some depressed person or is inspired to kill themselves because someone they admired killed themselves – you need to get honest and understand that this person you love was already dreadfully conflicted and haunted.

“Contagion” is an ugly word. “Suicide contagion” is a hideous and ignorant expression.

I don’t know how to safely access enough of myself to work on Suicide for Beginners but it’s abundantly clear that the work needs doing.

Tonight I tried to open my Scrivener files for “Suicide for Beginners” and there was nothing. I have to start all over. Maybe this is for the best even though it makes me want to punch things.

Good night, tribe. I won’t abandon you. You’re always here in my heart. We meet in strange dream landscapes experienced sleeping and awake.

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American People Deserve 3rd Season of Rosewood

rosewood

Dear Fox Broadcasting Network,

It has come to my grim attention that my favorite show, Rosewood, may not be renewed for a third season.  I don’t want to – (hyperventilates into paper bag) – be melodramatic or anything, I know we’re all getting exhausted by hyperbole these days, but cancelling Rosewood would be like taking a beautiful lotus flower and rubbing it into the dirt with a pair of creepy Vibram “shoes”. You’ve created a crime-based show (a huge demographic) that’s well written, beautifully cast, superbly acted, and engaging as hell. The only reason you could possibly consider cancelling this show is that you wish the ratings were higher. I get it, the reason you’re successful is that you brutally cut out anything that doesn’t get the highest ratings. Are you sure you’ve done all you can to promote this gem? I don’t think so because with a show this solid the only way it doesn’t get the best ratings is that you haven’t done enough work to get the word out. I’ve told everyone I know how great it is. I do this for free out of love but obviously I haven’t got the reach you have. Or the money. If you give us a season 3, I promise to work harder to promote Rosewood. In fact, I will write a smashing appeal to potential viewers today to tune in to the rest of this season. But you can do better, I know you can!

Some shows take more time to catch on. Especially if you’re doing something fresh like writing for a truly diverse cast with story lines that might challenge some people (gorgeous bi-racial scientist lesbian relationship – yo!) and, let’s face it, Morris Chestnut just might be too beautiful for some people to handle. But some things need that extra time, that extra push, for everyone to become as invested as I am. This may be one of those shows.

In the last few months I have struggled hard to keep my spirits up. Rosewood is one of the shows I look forward to seeing every week. When I watch it I see a more hopeful reality. One in which most crimes are solved, science applied to dead bodies is cutting edge and cool, where community is a wonderful melange of race, age, and background in which people deal with their problems with grace and wit. And maybe some occasional (totally understandable) violence. Sometimes when I’ve had a particularly rough week I sit down and watch some earlier episodes just to be in a place I like with characters I find inspiring and engaging. This show makes all the bad news in the world just a little (lot) more bearable.

I feel I should at this point make a full disclosure: I hate sunshine, especially Florida sunshine, and cheerfulness. But even I, confirmed fan of winter weather and a permanent curmudgeon, find the beautiful colors on your show and Rosie’s cheerful demeanor endearing. This is almost certainly because the creator of the show (and writers) were smart enough to pair Rosie with Detective Villa, no less beautiful but way less annoyingly sunny. I love Villa so much.

Please give us a season 3 of Rosewood. You don’t owe it to me or anyone else, but it’s probably the most civic-minded decision you could possibly make this year to keep America hopeful, smart, and beautiful.

Sincerely,

Angelina Williamson

Feral kitten tamer and unknown writer.

 

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Angelina’s Guide to “Basic Good Manners”

foot and cat on couch

Here’s a picture of my cat and my feet all over the couch. Also, the principle behind my official guideline on “basic good manners” is inspired by my friend Debi who summed up good manners today as “don’t be a dick”. That’s pretty much the crux of having basic good manners.

Today I heard it suggested that putting your feet up on furniture, whether in someone else’s house or your own, is bad manners and that people who put their feet on any furniture have not been brought up well. It was also implied that I, uncouth Angelina, might not be capable of learning or comprehending “basic good manners”. This was all said by a person I have considered a friend for years. This is not the kind of shit you say to someone you like or respect in any way shape or form. Which is interesting because it is often thought that having good manners is a sign of being a respectful person.

At least, I guess it is in some circles, but it’s my opinion that the use of proper silverware, where you put your feet, whose hands you shake or don’t shake, whether you keep your hat on inside or not has nothing to do with real respect for others. It’s all a superficial social agreement that groups of people come to about what the “proper” way to behave is. Most of it is total bullshit. What you consider to be “basic good manners” is likely to be heavily dictated by regional, socioeconomic backgrounds, cultural, and even generational influence. So be careful how you throw your judgement around at people for having different ideas of what “basic good manners” are, you might actually be acting like a boner-fied* dick.

Angelina’s Guide to “Basic Good Manners”:

Fuck “basic good manners”. The most important thing you can do is treat everyone with kindness, respect, and generosity of spirit. This transcends “proper” social mores every damn time. What’s considered “proper” or “good” manners varies wildly depending on many factors, so large groups of people are always going to disagree on what this even means. Be kind, be respectful, and show generosity of spirit.

It boils down to not being a dick.

If you’re in the company of really religious people, try to be mindful and not swear like a motherfucker or talk about what a great drinking companion Jesus would have been, unless you know them to be cool with that kind of humor.

If you’re a really religious person in the company of an atheist, try to be mindful and not preach or expect them to not talk about what a great drinking companion Jesus would have been.

Don’t be a dick.

If your family is super casual and really likes to be comfortable and put their feet up on the furniture, invite your guests to do the same.

If you’re at someone else’s house, don’t put your feet up on the furniture if it’s all fancy and couches are white and uptight or if no one else is putting their feet on anything but the floor.

Don’t be a dick.

If you don’t know anything about using special forks or eating with a knife**, don’t worry about it if you find yourself in a fancy house where people like cleaning multiple utensils per person per meal, you’ll probably just do it wrong anyway.

If you are a family that uses many special utensils per person per meal and have a guest that eats with you but only uses a fork of one size for ALL THE DAMN DISHES, just be thankful you’ll have fewer dishes to wash and don’t look down on your guest for not being raised in a multi-sized-fork household.

DON’T BE A GODDAMN DICK.

 

*I did that on purpose.

**I was raised as a vegetarian – I don’t eat anything that needs to be sawn through, geez, give me a break!

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The End of Everything Is the Beginning

beautiful silhouette

Today feels like the beginning of the end of everything, just like it did yesterday and the day before that. Every day I wake up and am overcome with the feeling that human beings have reached the end of their evolution and have begun a massive devolution back into a primordial sludge that will (hopefully) yield something better. Then I have to get my kid up for school, make breakfast, drink coffee and realize that Trump is not a grotesque fantasy of H.P. Lovecraft but the leader of my country. I fantasize about drowning myself in my pot of coffee.

I know a lot of people relate to this feeling of desolation, that there’s no fixing what’s broke, and that there’s no way to hold back the tide of bigotry and ignorance that have such a powerful hold on so many people across the world. All around me people are having the same angry desperate conversations with each other about how we’re all too small to change the tide of hatred, violence, and environmental destruction happening all around us. How can any of us make a difference? How can we fight Monsanto/Trump/True /Evil?

Self Care

I believe we must start everything within ourselves. Anything we want to accomplish outside of us must happen first inside our own bodies, minds, and spirits. I am useless to others when I’m useless to myself. Self care is the very first thing all of us must tend to if we want to light up the world with change. For me this means I’ve had to completely detach myself from all sources of news, cook more nourishing food for myself and my family, and seek out the companionship (in person or online, makes little difference) of people who, for whatever reason, seem to always take the time to let me know I matter and am loved. I’ve been spending more time working on my potions and getting out in the garden.

What do you need to do to nourish your body, mind, and spirit? What do you need to do in order to get the extra support you need right now when everything feels like a damp shadow is living in your bones? Do the things that work for you and do them now. There’s so much we can all do to keep progress marching forward, to stop the course of environmental pollution, and to keep the lights lit in the world, but we can’t do it from our blanket forts. We can’t do it when we’re in the middle of a downward spiral. So take the time you need to refresh yourself, to recalibrate yourself, and to re-light your own pilot. I promise the despots, bigots, and smog will still be there when you’re feeling strong enough to jump back into the fray. And if you yourself are fighting strong but someone you care about is floundering under the weight of current events, please stop and give them a hand.  Because the next thing we all need to work on is taking care of each other.

Reciprocity Is Survival

Human survival has always depended on reciprocity. Even before we settled down with the exciting discovery of agriculture, we depended on each other to eat, find shelter, and fight off larger animals. A lone human is a very fragile being. We have tricked ourselves into believing we don’t need each other and that we can each survive without anyone else’s help. We’ve built an infrastructure around ourselves (civilization) that allows many of us quite a bit of independence. We can go a long time without anyone else’s direct assistance or company. But if you truly think you don’t need anyone else then you’ll have to take all your clothes off, leave your house or apartment behind, get rid of all your tools and accouterments to modern living that other people invented and made, and live with nothing.

Even then your chances of survival now are greater than they were at the beginning of human evolution because you benefit from the shared wisdom of a billion humans who came before you and died discovering that amanita mushrooms are not one of the amusing mushrooms so that you can wisely avoid them. You benefit from all the medicinal knowledge that was discovered by others and shared with you so that you can heal your cuts and bruises. Your survival depends on other human beings no matter how independent and skilled you are. Even money is a system of reciprocity. Money is merely a medium through which we exchange services and products between us. Before we had money, we exchanged actual services and products between ourselves that we needed to survive but couldn’t provide for ourselves.

When communities go through terrible calamities such as natural disasters and wars, and elections of megalomaniacs, the way they get through it all to the other side is by helping each other into boats and out of harm’s way. So my answer to the question “how do we get through these dark times?” is to start with kindness. First to yourself, and then to the people you know and care about, and then outwards to people you don’t know who need it too. When you see someone’s house burning, stop and ask them what you can do to help. Putting yourself out there definitely makes you vulnerable, but you have to ask yourself if you’d want strangers walking by your burning house without stopping to find out if how they can help while your house burns.

Don’t stop with humans. Offer that same generosity and kindness to the animals, wildlife, and nature all around you. Revive a neglected garden, spread wildflower seeds in empty city lots to provide more pollen and hiding places for insects. Volunteer at a wildlife center that rehabilitates injured wild animals. Volunteer to help clean up birds soiled by oil spills. Pick trash up, put bird feeders out (especially in winter), adopt an abandoned cat or dog. Every single act of generosity and care you put out there in the world matters. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that little things like picking up a piece of trash don’t matter. It was merely a little act of thoughtlessness that put that piece of trash on the ground in the first place but there are so many people being thoughtless in this tiny way every day that there are more pieces of trash along the highway than there are wildflowers, so pick up that piece of trash and you balance something out in the world. You erase the thoughtlessness of someone else’s with a thoughtfulness of your own your action.

I’m aware that picking up trash from the street isn’t going to stop Trump from being president of the United States and breaking the world. I realize that giving shelter to abandoned animals isn’t going to keep the pipeline from being built further down the river. When people are asking “what can we do to change the course our country/world is on?” what they want is revolution sized action, something to immediately abate the rising panic in their chests. But you have to also recognize that the little choices we make every day DO matter or you’ll never be able to make the big choices that will change the world on a large scale, the hard choices, the sometimes dangerous ones.

As above, so below.

The revolution starts with the minutiae. The revolution starts with you.

Beyond self care and outward generosity there’s so much more.

Civil Disobedience

Protesting remains one of the most important tools humans have for voicing their disenfranchisement. Whether sanctioned by a constitution or punishable by death, there are few things more powerful than a mass of human beings standing together for a single goal. Don’t discount it just because you went to one protest that didn’t change the fabric of the universe. We don’t live in a magical world, but we do live in a predictable one. Protests generally require perseverance and tenacity to be effective. You’ve got to be willing to go for the long game, to stake out your square foot of turf for as long as possible and take the rubber bullets and the pepper spray. Protesting is serious, protesting done with peace and conviction of spirit can, and has, changed the world. So take on the issue that scares you the most, that you most desperately want to have a hand in changing and take to the streets.

There are a million small things we can all do that will add up to huge change.

Start a Seed Library

The most vital component to human survival at this point are seed banks that preserve the biodiversity of food crops that can sustain human life. Are you sick with anxiety about the damage companies like Monsanto are doing to crop diversity around the world? The  best thing you can do as an individual is start a seed library. I have thought about saving seeds for years and felt intimidated by the problem of cross pollination in small gardens. Seed saving seemed fraught with insurmountable difficulties until I set myself free this year and realized that even if I only grew one variety of lettuce this year so that I could save the seeds with confidence that they’d grow true to seed, it would be more than I did last year.

If every single one of us who gardens were to save the seeds of one variety of vegetable or fruit every year we could cover the world in food. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that the only seed saving that matters is by people with extensive gardens and scientific degrees, we all have power here. For the first time this year I saved three kinds of seeds; purslane, red orache, and a perennial pepper variety called Aji Crystal.

Vote With Your Wallet

Every day you support other people, companies, and organizations by giving them your money. I know someone who supported same sex marriage (and was gay themselves) but continued to eat at Chik-Fil-A knowing that the COO of the company, Dan Cathy, was speaking out against it and giving financial support to organizations considered hateful to the LGBTQ community. Their excuse was that “The food just tastes so good I can’t help it”. But consider this: after a huge outcry and active boycotting of the franchise by supporters of same sex marriage and the LGBTQ community, as well as other companies cutting ties with them over this issue, Chick-fil-A stopped financial support of organizations considered to be discriminatory against gay people. I don’t honestly believe that the company COO has changed his views on anything and I’ll never step foot in one of their trash-pits, but that company has a lot of money and through public outcry and boycotting, they are giving a lot less of it to organizations known to support conversion therapy. That’s what power your dollar has.

So if you want to wield more power to change the world, you already have it in your hands, you just might need to use it more critically. What companies do you shop from? What organizations do you support? What stores or farmers do you buy your food from? What financial institutions do you allow to handle your money? Find out what political candidates they’ve openly supported, if any. Find out what “charitable” organizations they give their money to because they got their money from consumers like you and me. Dig deep, share your information. The less you shop and eat at big chain stores and corporations the easier it is to find out if they care about and support the same things you do. You may not have a lot of money to spend, you may be struggling to get by, but don’t let that shake your activism. Every dollar you spend is making a social and political statement whether you want it to or not. Every dollar you spend can be supporting organizations that care about the earth or are callously destroying it one dollar at a time. It’s your choice and mine, every single day.

Take comfort, the world will go on without us.

I woke up again this morning feeling like we’ve reached the End of All Things. But even if this turns out to be true, take heart! This planet has gone through so much change long before we evolved onto the scene. Millions of animals and insects have come and gone leaving nothing but a collection of bones and impressions in earth’s crust to let us know they were ever here. I bet when the dinosaurs were all dying off they felt the same way some of us humans do right now. They had NO idea that their deaths would fuel human invention and population bursts that stretched the earth’s resources and resulted in massive pollution and trashed eco-systems millions of miles wide. There’s been an ice age that changed the climate of the whole planet for a good long time and killed off a lot of living beings in the process. Remember how one time there was a plague that wiped out two thirds of the European population? But then some people lived on and continued to be shitheads? Remember when we had two “World” wars and all those old people shook their heads and predicted the end of civilization as they knew it? Were they wrong? No, they weren’t. Yet humans kept multiplying and building and destroying. We exploded nuclear bombs (by “we” I’m obviously speaking of my own country since we’re the only ones to use them against others so far, and yes, I find that incredibly shameful) and here we are now, with one of the dumbest men on earth in a position to unleash more nuclear bombs into the world. Here we are .

I don’t honestly care that much about humans as a race, I know the earth will heal itself and re-invent itself once we’re gone and I take great comfort from that. But I DO care about individual humans, I can’t bear to see others in pain. I DO care about all the other beings on earth who’ve had to struggle to survive around us and in spite of us. I DO care about the trees, the ocean, the soil, and the tiny psilocybins covering forest floors and rotting wood. I care desperately for earthworms, abandoned pets, wild violets, and the sourgrass that I loved to chew on as a child that’s growing in my garden right now. I think you care about a lot of these things too, and maybe you also care about the survival of the human race, and that’s why we have to nurse ourselves through the shock and horror of current events and then get back out there and fight. I don’t know if humans are facing the end of things or not, but last night I took on my fifteenth feral foster kitten for the year and I’ll be damned if I give up making the world a better place for abandoned cats and kittens like him.