Brace Yourself For Impact

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I present to you a windblown blurry selfie – my favorite affectation. I took this on the way to my brother’s memorial, already 12 25 days ago. Time is the weird mean bitch who used to bully you until you swore vengeance upon her and then forgot to actively visit vengeance upon her, but who you eventually scared the fuck out of (unintentionally) by cross-dressing and not caring about her opinion at all.

I wanted to write about the memorial but then I got desperately sad and wrote a desperately sad post instead. I realize that all this desperate sadness is part of the process of grieving. I’m listening to Madonna right now, that’s part of it all too. God help us all if I crank up Journey, though, nothing could make my brother turn in his “grave” faster than a big-ass Zeke tribute set to “Forever Yours”. He’ll forgive me for Madonna because she’s not Journey.

This is not a tribute post. This is not a sad post. This is not a desperate post. This is not a lot of things.

I used to read that Capricorns are late bloomers to most things in life. I think we can confirm this statement for at least one Capricorn. I have a small declaration to make since I have (so far) not killed myself or been killed by: a serial killer, influenza, arsenic poisoning, Ebola, the awesome power of crystals, typhoid, smallpox, recluse spider bite, fright, agent orange, the common cold, dismemberment, fungal infection, the government, septicemia, star-crossed love, math, microorganisms, KALE, undecided voters, solar heat, syphilis, bad poetry, the flagrant vagaries of soup, or by the dreadful weight of sleep.

(The declaration is coming and doesn’t deserve such a big build-up)

I know there will be times when I’ll still want to kill myself (or at least to die suddenly), because that’s part and parcel of my mental illness and I accept that this is not something I get to shake off like it never was. This is a completely irrational fact of my life and I accept that this urge will come and go.

But I would like to make a declaration of intent, (if I may be so bold), and it doesn’t matter what fate or god or randomness (whatever you believe) has in store for me:

I want to get reasonably old. Just know that in spite of this wild encroaching darkness I’m constantly having to push back I want to grow old because I’ve been a late bloomer for everything in life and I believe, I truly believe, that I will make the most kick-ass old woman and I want the opportunity to prove this. So, when you hear me get sucked down into the darkness and I start talking like I want to go to sleep and wake up when it’s time to die, know that this is not my true fierce spirit talking but my mental illness rearing its difficult head. Let’s not call it ugly, this part of me, this part of so many people I love and respect. Let’s just acknowledge that sometimes our core being, or core self is superseded by our physiognomy against our will. Let’s just accept that our bodies and minds sometimes come ill-equipped for this particular earthly existence.

I was born old and have been getting progressively younger and more hopeful as I age*. I want to get old enough to surprise everyone in a way I wasn’t equipped to do when I was young and fresh-faced.

But listen, if I don’t get to age like I hope, don’t be sad for me. Don’t be so sad for me, at least, that cheese can’t reach you in that sorrow. I’m telling you my hopes, not my certainties.

I always thought my brother would die first between us three siblings. I wasn’t wrong. But I didn’t imagine he’d die of a heart attack. I thought he’d die in some crazy scrape he’d got into. The only real shock is that I’d started to think I was wrong. I’ll tell you what, you can’t take anything for granted. I didn’t need my brother to die to learn this. I always knew this.

(Shhhhhhh – I totally put “I’m Forever Yours” on!)

OH MY GOD, NOW YOU ALL KNOW I SOMETIMES LISTEN TO JOURNEY ROCK BALLADS.

(Pfft! You. Did. Not. Know. This. Fucker.)

(I promise I disrespect Steve Perry’s mustache attempts as well as all those mom-jeans and sleeveless shirts they wore – while simultaneously appreciating that dude’s voice and the rock ballad tradition that – SHUT THE FUCK UP, YOU MAY ALL GO FUCK YOURSELVES RIGHT NOW YOU BLOWHARDS)

Edwardian paper dolls, lemon and lime essential oils, David Bowie and Bonnie Tyler 45’s, sharply cut crystals, gold lame sports coats, Earl Grey tea, cigarettes, bleach, reaching deep into the icy Lithia waters to pull out drowned cignets, talking to the park benches… I mean talking ON the park be- fuck it – talking to the park benches and the pinchy tight moon from the merry-go-round that never stops. These are the memories rising to the surface tonight.

This is windblown me. My best self. The only self I want you to notice. I am invisible outside the wind machine, in the darkness of the stairs lifting people so far above the park of my remembrance that the only thing left of the time is the lingering slatternly scent of Paris perfume splashed against the leather Mercedes car seats striped with the the spare rigid lights of I-5.

Brace yourselves for impact.

 

*You mention Brad Pitt and I’m going to clock you, bastard!

 

When I was a ghost I was very small.

When I was very small I never told anyone’s secrets.

Except to the shrew in the rock-wall holding the roots of the bay tree together.

Got a lotta ghosts clinging hard to my bones in hopes of finding new digs.

I’m an empty house with no ladder for anyone to climb up into the light.

I remember the taste of wild berries in the cold wet smoky woods eaten under a rain saturated nylon tent through which the moon was distorted and diffused beyond recognition.

Don’t mind the blood here, I was born with my insides out.

I wish we could go back to Lithia Creek without the bruises.

Grave Digger’s Shovel

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Give over your tools of anger, there’s no room for them here in the banquet hall of the dead. Give over your strangling ropes and your braided whips of mean discipline, there’s no room for them here in the banquet hall of love. Give over your walls built of soot and silt that crash down on sleeping enemies in suffocating sludge tsunamis. You don’t need any of this artifice to express righteous anger. You don’t need any of this destruction to come right-side up in the morning. Slough off the language of hatred while you  bed deep in the bound hay of summer. Let it go down the devil’s road until it burns without your heart for fuel. Give over to love completely like you’ve got the wings of a thousand doves powering your blood through your arteries and your mind above the highest canopy of trees where you can chase the light and the wind that takes you far away from the gravedigger’s shovel.

The First Law, The Only Law

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I’ve been struggling with my words so hard the last few days. I’ve written several posts and deleted them all. I keep trying to free my tongue from the glue that holds it firmly to the roof of my mouth, to the hollows of my heart, to the wall of the dark pit of my mind. I said things last time that I itch to unsay, yet even as I die a little every morning when I wake up and find I haven’t made the smallest effort to take all my words back, I know they can’t be unsaid.  Not even if no one has read them. And people have read them.

The last week has brutalized me. Today has been one long pustulent pock on my spirit, on my everything. Nothing a million people haven’t had to deal with at the same exact time. We do this, us humans, we try to put everything in its place, tidy up the shit storms so the sewers catch as much excrement as possible, and we attempt to soothe our fragile selves with pillows made of unfulfilled promises and angel farts. We want so much to believe that life is more than this bed-pan existence, but this is IT. This is what we are.

Our bodies break down, rot, ooze, leak, ferment, fracture, and seek the lowest ground on which to burn to bones and ash.

I wrote songs about this when I was fourteen. I knew the truth when I was six which was the last time I shit my pants, not because I wasn’t potty trained but because I was scared as hell to be left to care for my baby sister and I knew, even then, that life was going to be so much more morally complicated than hurting inside when I was encouraged to salt snails and watch them die.

Every day I retreat deeper into the cave in which I hide my truth from you and everyone else. The world is too much for me. Too loud for me. I hear you all breathing from my pyre of nightmares as loud as if I was in your fucking mouths, assholes. I hear your disappointment from here and I’d care a little more if you were more honest with yourself.

The one law I still abide is love. Love for individuals. Love for non-human animals. Love for the lost, love for the dead, love for the unsteady. Love for the abandoned, love for the abused, love for the homeless. If I give you a dollar I don’t give a shit how you spend it. If I give you my coat I don’t care if you cut it up. Love is a thing you offer up without conditions or stipulations or contracts.

I see race, I see gender, I see religion, I see sexuality, I see body shape, I see style, I see all of what you show me whether you mean to or not. I see and I love and I appreciate and I celebrate everything that makes you the best possible person you can be and the things you were born to carry in spite of having not chosen for yourself. I see all of the things that make you YOU because there’s beauty and value in your skin, your spirit, your experiences, your personal expression, and your heart. The one law I still abide is love. I can love almost anything about you if you let me. I can love almost anything about you if you’re light is honest, your voice genuine, your spirit raw. I want to celebrate your hair, your skin, your eyes, your bravery, your weird taste, your love of strange perfume and funky artifacts.

If I make fun of your magnificent fluffy extreme ginger mullet it’s because you’ve accomplished something worthy of comment.  Don’t you get it? I can’t make fun of a magnificent mullet without a certain amount of actual admiration. I’m not the decider of all things good and fashionable. I’m just one lousy little person of medium height and a reasonable but not genius IQ. My opinion, like all other opinions of anything, is completely subjective and pretty much bullshit. Except for the part where I love when anyone can distinguish themselves in any amusing and interesting way that isn’t hurtful to others.

I want to say: WEAR YOUR TIGHT SHINY DISCO PANTS, LET THAT CAMEL-TOE BE SEEN FROM SEA TO SHINING SEA, SHAKE THAT MULLET LIKE YOU KNOW EVERYONE IS AMAZED WITH IT, ROCK THAT FROSTY FEATHERED DO LIKE YOU’RE IN AN 80’S ROCK VIDEO, EAT THAT JELLO LIKE IT’S THE BEST FUCKING FOOD ON THE PLANET, RECITE BIBLE VERSES TO YOUR FAMILY LIKE THEY’RE BALLADS FOR GUILTY CONSCIENCES, EMBRACE DRUGS LIKE THEY FIX SPIRITS, JACK OFF TO RICHARD SIMMONS WORKOUTS BECAUSE – WHO DOESN’T?!

Whoever you are, BE YOU. I swear I’ll appreciate you (even if I don’t understand you) if you’re the most genuine self you can be.

There are so many things about me that you can laugh at, enjoy guiltily, put on a billboard, or report to Jon Stewart to try and get him back to the Daily Show, and I won’t hold any of it against you. I’m a ridiculous person in so many ways. But I beg of you, if you find me homeless, if you give me a dollar, don’t put conditions on how I spend it.

Don’t make a contest out of human suffering. Don’t tell people they can’t possibly understand your experiences because when you do that you effectively say they have never suffered, that their experiences are inferior, that even if they care about you they can’t ever care about you enough or appropriately or in a way you accept.

Suffering is something all humans experience.

Love is something all humans should experience.

You are beautiful to me.

 

 

Simple One-Shoe Sue Loves Every Color but Stupidity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

None of that is complicated. It’s simple.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love is only as complicated as you make it.

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

 

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

Doesn’t mean I’m a fucking imbecile.

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

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

Silent Disclosure Of Imperfection

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Before everything I say, before everything I think, before everything I commit to writing there is a silent disclosure of imperfection you should be able to hear with your heart: I’m a flawed passionate being. I’m in constant flux, constant evolution, a constant state of deconstruction and reconstruction.

I’ve got a broken set of keys to a shady universe. Your keys might look different than mine but they open into the same rooms of despair, of wild love, of earthly hellfire, and humiliation that shifts into peaceful bird cries cleansing dawn air. You might see saving where I see desperate loss in the same room. It’s okay. Hold your heart carefully, I’ll hold mine the same and we’ll find our way to fresh air together.

I know it doesn’t seem possible how I can not believe in God when God is so precious to you. How I can believe there is no divine purpose or plan when it is so vivid for you. I know it doesn’t seem possible that I can embrace your belief while not sharing it. All I can say is that if you can believe in any kind of divinity at all, in any kind of miracle, in the kind of magic that keeps a seven day supply of oil burning for eight days or a crucified Jew to rise from his tomb then you have a place already carved in your heart to  believe that an atheist can love and respect a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Mormon, and every kind of mysticism.

 But dudes, seriously, can we please show Jesus with brown skin as he almost certainly had to have? How is he not beautiful with brown skin? If you can’t love a dark skinned Jesus then you don’t get Jesus AT ALL.

I don’t care about faith. I don’t care about creed. Not when we’re stripped down to the bones of our humanity. When we stand naked and flawed next to each other we are equals. All of us. Doesn’t matter what our ethnicity is, our background, our last names, the schools we’ve attended, the color of our skin, the tradition of our beliefs – we are all equals in everything but in individual character we show through action.

I will drink at your strange fountain and I will invite you to drink at mine. I will lead you to this lean cot in my corner and I will feed you the last crumbs from my pantry because I have to believe that the most important thread of humanity is generosity. I will give you the shirt off my back even if it means I’ll be sunburned before dusk.

I will make fun of humanity, I will find humor in all faiths, in all human frailty, but I promise that when I hear your prayers I’ll grow quiet and let your belief blanket the altitudes, I’ll retreat so that your faith can find expression when you most need it without ridicule or interference.

I struggle every day to root for human beings. This is the hard truth. I rail and cry against the evil I see everywhere perpetrated by humans. I struggle to remember that we’re part of nature, that we’re animals gone feral but not evil, that there’s something good left in us.

I’m going to joke about Jesus. I’m going to joke about Mohammed. I’m going to fucking joke the shit out of L. Ron Hubbard because – there’s no religion or belief I won’t find the humor in. But this isn’t about hate or bigotry. I also joke about myself, my mental illness, my hippie upbringing.

I joke because finding the humor in the every day crap and the miracles I can’t explain and don’t particularly believe in is how I survive.

I am an incredibly flawed person working towards my own personal evolution. There’s no explanation for pure love and good will between people of wildly disparate spiritual and philosophical beliefs so let’s not even try.

Let’s simply practice loving the crap out of all human beings.

Let’s practice forgiving the shortcomings of other human beings especially when it costs us to do so.

Let’s practice forgiving our own shortcomings.

Let’s practice love.

Let’s practice peace.

Let’s see the universe through each others’ eyes and leave each other tiny gifts in the darkest corners.

Lemon Blossoms Quieter Than Me

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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.

 

This Evil Bitch Commie Is Full Of Ideas

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

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

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

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

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

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

Of those things I am absolutely clear.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That police department has behaved shamefully.

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

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

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

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

Nope. I’ll never be a flag flyer.

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

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

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

Hang on, I might be wrong about that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

xoxo

a

*The Israeli one, not the Scottish one.

Be Cautious of Pride

scowl more defined

These old pictures Philip took of me 15 years ago remain my favorite pictures anyone has ever taken of me. I dredge them up from time to time, not out of (I hope) inordinate and undeserved pride, but out of an appreciation of how well I could wear a tiara at 28 years of age.

Don’t take pride in things that only circumstances can arrange beautifully, like never needing government assistance, like being born white, or being born with opportunity arranged for you by gender, race, or creed. Take pride in what no one but you can say, achieve, be, throw down on the ice floe. Take pride in what you make with your raw hands, what you risk for truth, who you protect with love. Take pride in how much of your neck you stretch out for the knife. Nothing else matters.

What are you willing to be killed for?

laugh contrast

This sweet candy is like funereal drivel. Give me the goddamn corpse – I’ll take it in my arms and lay it down in a pillow of night. 16 years ago I had a prophetic moment and if I could have used it to solve fiscal calamity or oppression I would have ditched every selfish decision since then. I would have worn a hair shirt, I would have chained myself to the pillar of salt-truth until my skin was stiff and parched with it. I would have sacrificed my hope to its fire of possibility.

the right tiara contrastI’m white, a crime I didn’t get to choose. I won’t be ashamed of my skin because that’s part of the systemic disease  this country is suffering from. I will hold candles up to the images of every American who’s ever been born and suffered unfairly because their skin wasn’t as burnable as mine. I will embrace and love any good human, any color, any faith, any day.

I loved a murderer because his heart was a beautiful organ. This love taught me that people can change. People can evolve. If I didn’t know this I would choose to die today from heartache and fear. This murderer had the most tender heart, was a better human than I am.

A better human than I am.

Measurable Truth

Redhead

Against the backdrop of hideous entropic dreams

I stretch my limbs to meet measurable truth

Then drop to my knees for the translation of unambiguous beauty

Against the hypnotic green-screen of planned movement

There is a cell deep revolution of spontaneity breaking open

I will bend my rigid soul with your reeds into the pools

If you show me your light shining on the paralyzed dark

I will bend towards it as boneless as a ghost

I will bend to exquisite love without hesitation, every time.

Every time.

Evaporate

Not dead yet.

Seeing in violent color.

Because my lungs hurt and contract into themselves with force when I try to breath.

My mother told me “The State Within” was excellent.  I asked her if the main character was good looking.  Jesus.  As though I need a beefcake to enjoy myself.  My rules for attraction are not Fabio-centric.  No, and they don’t tend towards six packs and lush lips.  Uh uh.  I don’t care for long haired men with pecks as inflated as stiff breasts.  No tans necessary.  Straight teeth are not a requirement.  I can’t say what it is.

Which is fine, really, because obviously the main point is that I’m shallow.

My shallowness is at least not sexist.  I want my lead lady to be good looking too.  Which means not looking like Angelina Jolie with those popping veins, pillow lips, and sinewy hard limbs.  Uh uh.  Blond is only acceptable if not insipid.  Snub noses need not apply.  Pale.  Pale.  I like pale people.

Unless they are naturally dark.  Dark skin is beautiful when it’s what a person is born with.  Dark to the point of black, dusky, cocoa, olive – anything but artificially or sun tanned.

Freckles.

I hated them when I was a kid.  Because I had them, lots of them, not just a sweet sun-sprinkle of them across my nose.  All over my face and shoulders.  People made fun of me.  But something happened when I got older.  Not only did I accept them but my vision cleared so that I found them beautiful on other people.

Now that I’m thinking about it, I guess I always found them attractive on others, just not on myself.  From third grade to sixth grade I was as near as in love with a boy as a girl that age can be with a red-headed boy covered in freckles.  Plus, he was short.

I think freckles are attractive enough that I made Cricket covered in them.  Not just a sunny sprinkle across a pert Southern Californian nose.  She’s really freckled.  I love that about her.  You may not, and I accept that we all have different tastes, but isn’t it about time that freckles were raised up as a possible point of beauty in a heroine who also happens to punch men like a demon and has the most beautiful hands on earth?

I didn’t mean to write a treatise about my shallow need to see people eye-candy.  C’est la vie.  I go with the moment.  It’s been a long sick day.  I am only up at the crack of dawn because I needed to watch the whole “The State Within” series.  I had to know what happened.

I am sicker today than I was yesterday or the day before.  My mother made me sage tea this morning and it was just like when I was a little girl.  Except better because I hated being a little girl.

I started reading “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” and suddenly hated myself as a writer.  I am in a serious crisis now.  It will pass.  I’m sure.  But reading good literature right now might not be the most genius prescription for my predicament.

(Which is: oh my god I’m a crap writer what the hell am I doing and who the hell will want to read my stories when they aren’t charming and warm but are dark and unevenly irreverent and hell hath no fury like a crap writer…etc)

It’s a very good book.  Pisses me off how good it is.  I am all at sea.

It will pass.

Given time.

I meant to nap and read most of the day away but ended up spending most of it cooking.

I wonder why so often when I see really tall men I superimpose myself in their bones.

In spite of this, I am all woman.

I really miss Kung Fu.  I can’t breath well enough to do it.  Can’t go to class and can’t practice at home.  Because I’m so tired.  I’ve been so tired for over a week.  I know staying up this late doesn’t help.  I’m not sleepy.  Just tired.  My body feels leaden and a little disconnected.

While taking a little forced break from Cricket and Grey (the third draft), due to writing crisis, I suddenly find myself fixating on how I can make Jane Doe a real novel.  The plot difficulties are so clear now and I find myself buzzing with ideas.  Where my first draft went wrong is obvious.  But again, I see that my writing style is full of contradictions and I’m not sure how that will work.

Oh my god, Jane Doe is so heavy I am breathless thinking about it.  Yet, it is not without light.  Vibrant light.

This reminds me of my boyfriend Tristan telling me that I was so “heavy”.

Which reminds me of the surreal night of fighting we had at O’Leary’s pub where it started out about how his idea of monogamy was quite different than mine and how angry I was because I would have willingly dated him with no strings attached but he insisted we be exclusive.  Which left me hurting hurting hurting because his idea of exclusive included giving all attractive females back rubs and some attractive females a great big snog.  Right in the middle of our heated and somewhat agitated discussion I saw him.  I really saw him.

Suddenly I didn’t exist.  Not in an important way.  I simply saw him.  I saw how he was wasting himself.  How his needs didn’t match mine but how his passions and needs were important and valid and that he needed to be true to himself and if it meant sleeping with every goddamn girl he met it really wasn’t for me to stop him or concern myself with it.  I needed to fade into the ether, leave him so he could be who he was meant to become.  I was like a corridor to himself.  A beacon light.

I was very much in love with him.

Sitting there across from him in the smarmy pub lighting I saw him as he really was.  I saw inside him and I knew I didn’t fit there.  I wasn’t appropriate for him.  Me with my Gothic notions of faithfulness and attachment.  The hairs on my arms rose and then I could no longer feel my body, I simply saw his spirit and what it needed and what it could become.  I saw his whole potential in front of me and it was beautiful and I wasn’t the person who could nurture it.  I told him he needed to fly.  He needed to photograph naked women, he needed to photograph whatever interested him because he had amazing talent with a camera, he needed to spread his wings and just fucking do what he was driven to do and I wasn’t part of it.  I knew it.  I told him.  It was so strange to see him hurt at being told he should fly.

I see into people often, but rarely do I see them so clearly that I become disembodied completely.  I couldn’t feel my flesh any more.  Who I was didn’t matter, my claims on this man didn’t matter, all that mattered was to guide this spirit forward.  To step aside and let him shine.  He was incandescent, but not for me.  I was nothing but a medium.  I was an interim for him.  I was nothing more than an interlude, a moment, a second, and I’d be shocked to know if he even remembered me at all.

I am heavy because I suck up everyone’s light and save it for them.

I am heavy because I carry all the sorrow of mankind in my chest.

Which makes bronchitis a specious bitch.

I trusted myself that night at the pub.  I have felt similar charges in spirit since then, but never with such sacrifice as knowing that I had to let a person go for their own good.  Walk away.  Evaporate.

The question came up the other night “Have you ever broken anyone’s heart?” and I’m not sure how that came up but Philip can definitely say yes, but me?  Someone told me I broke Tristan’s heart but when I think about who he really was I am sure that I didn’t have that power.  When I think of all the people I’ve gone out with I don’t think I’ve ever broken a single one of their hearts.

I’d like to believe I had.  Just one.  Somehow it seems cold and hard to have never dented another person enough to have broken their heart.  What kind of icicle does that make me?

Then Philip reminded me of a penpal I had for a while who seemed to have developed a tendre for me even though he knew I was married.  I had completely forgotten.  Maybe because that correspondence occurred at the same time that my biological father was writing things to me  like how I am related to a celebrated Norwegian poet.  How I’m actually a quarter Polish, which I hadn’t previously known.  The penpal paled.

I don’t think I broke his heart either.

Every person has some kind of power.

That’s not one of mine.

I must go to bed now.  I’m still not tired.  I’m not tired.  How can I be so un-tired?  I can sleep in.  That won’t solve my writing crisis.  Only soldiering on can do that.

I part with this caution: wash your hands often, take your vitamins, get exercise (but don’t pull a goddamned muscle), eat well, drink a shitload of beer, and get some sleep.