Tag: winter

Full of Emptiness and Thorn

all in the eye

Maybe it’s time to stop writing myself grim lullabies about graves and soft warm webs of earth that suck me down into the heart of everything where I suffocate kindly with the brevity of winter twilight. Breath frozen across lakes of cold fire will become pebbles in your shoes, slowing your steps until you stop and look behind you at the ghost dogging your every step. All you’ll see is the veil of frost my shadow has become. All you’ll see is the bluing of your ragged memory. Time is kinder than you know.

Maybe it’s time to stop writing myself grim lullabies about the graves I’ve dug to bury myself in, lost in blind thickets of brambles where only the wasps dare visit. Under cover of damp leaves, fresh with soft rain, my bones shift restlessly, clattering against each other like new life impatient to breathe in the first dawn. Impatient to taste dappled light and sour fruit and all the other young things. My bones rustling in their nest of soil, rock, and petal attracts the keen hunter threading through the woods. Nothing here, nothing here, I whisper just above the serrated edge of the leaves that hide me. Move along, move along, move along thirsty hunter! My bones are dry as your parched mouth and full of emptiness and thorn.

Maybe it’s time to stop writing myself grim lullabies about the graves at the edge of town where all the homeless people huddle for warmth in the cardboard city built of acrid sweat and torn shoes. Their roofs of thin branches and icicle daggers are nothing more than spider lairs hung between their thin blankets and the feelingless stars. Even when I try to hold their heads in my marrow lap they can’t feel these dead hands. Can’t feel anything but the chill of my heart spread across the winter grass fields in hoarfrost.

Windows Looking In

neighbor house in mini

This is my favorite week of the year.  It’s officially winter, Christmas madness is over, and I look inward instead of outward.  I visualize how I want my new year to unfold.  It doesn’t matter how many people around me are cynical about resolutions and new beginnings, they are powerless to spoil my favorite time of year.

In truth, the new year doesn’t really begin for me until after my birthday on January 6th.  Known to some of you as Epiphany.  This year I will be 44 years old.

I’m breaking into this stream of thought to announce that I have accidentally discovered what Sriracha and cinnamon taste like together and I can tell you it’s nasty.

Setting resolutions isn’t, for me, about success or failure.  A million things can happen to take us on a different path than we imagined, making our resolutions obsolete or less important.  Maybe they’re really important but it wasn’t time to smack down on those particular issues we thought we were ready to deal with.  Resolutions are one way to get square with ourselves, to acknowledge things we don’t like about ourselves or ways in which we are letting ourselves down.  It’s a chance to recognize where improvements could be beneficial and to declare an intention to address weaknesses.  Even using those words make it sound negative.  It doesn’t need to be.

Get square with yourself.  Be honest with yourself.  Be raw with yourself.

Bottom line – even if you don’t share your inner conversation with anyone else – being honest with yourself is the best way to start any new year, new chapter, new venture, or new project.  No one else needs to be in on your inner dialog, but have it.  Start the year with total honesty.

If you’re being mean to yourself then you aren’t tapping into the truth yet.  The truth might be hard but its voice isn’t the one you use to flog yourself with.  It’s straight, but allows all kinds of angles to flourish.  What you do with truth is up to you.  Abusing yourself is punishment that you perceive as a deserved consequence of something you see as negative in yourself and isn’t about the truth itself.  Being honest is neutral.  It’s only scary because of how you might use it against yourself or against others.

I am tackling only one major thing this year.  All else follows behind it.

  • Going temporarily sober.  I believe (and will find out if I’m right) that getting my drinking situation under control (sober first, then we’ll see) will solve a number of other problems.
  • Lose weight.  But not as I generally set it out as a goal.  The sobering up will enable this and if I can succeed at losing enough weight then it will support healthier drinking and eating habits and will feed on itself going forward.  It’s really the same as the sobering up.  They are obnoxiously interconnected goals.
  • Developing a strict daily writing schedule.  I want to wake up at 5:30am and write until 7am when I have to wake the kid for school and get him ready.  Then social media while eating breakfast.  Then a minimum of 3 more hours writing.  Every single day.  Even weekends if possible.

Apparently when I say “one” I really mean three.

There are at least a hundred little things I could list as goals and things I want to do or accomplish this year.  I still have a few days left to consider making a list of minor intentions for the new year.  So for today I’ll leave it at the three important ones.

I wonder if anyone has ever put “Become a porn star” on their new year resolutions list?

My Book is Available on Amazon!

CandGcover-EUPHEMIA

You can now  buy my book directly from Amazon:

Winter (Cricket and Grey)

This is only for Kindle formats.  If you want to buy it for Nook or other epub formats you can got to Smashwords and get it here:

Winter (Cricket and Grey)

Eventually you should be able to buy my title directly from Barnes and Noble and Kobo but for now these are the two places you can get it.

New Year’s Eve is My Favorite Part of Christmas

The best part of the holidays for me is when Christmas is over.  I don’t hate Christmas at all.  I do resent what a big deal everyone makes out of it.  Both the religious people who are all up in everyone’s face with Jesus being the real focus of Christmas and trying to get everyone to pray and hail the lord  and also the secular people who are in a frenzy of joy and cookies and parties and a thousand different family traditions they must perform even if doing everything really stresses them out.  It’s the whole gluttonous atmosphere that I dislike.  Here at our house it’s very mellow, quiet, and we enjoy ourselves but I haven’t made a cookie since the beginning of the month, we went to no parties, we have no set-in-stone traditions, and so in the cocoon of my own house there’s been very little gluttony of body, mind, or soul.

Okay, there were definitely some chocolates and candy the kid went to town on on Christmas day.

All the insistence on CRAZY AMOUNTS OF FUCKING JOY AND GOOD WILL AND SHOWS WITH SICKLY SENTIMENTAL MORALISTIC UNDERPINNINGS (kind of like giving medicine with a glass of thick simple syrup) AND ALL THE INSANE BAKING OF SO MANY SUGARY BUTTERY THINGS AND HOARDING OF HAPPINESS AS THOUGH THIS IS THE ONLY TIME OF YEAR ONE SHOULD BE PUMPED UP WITH LOVE – it is over.

The quiet week is here.  My favorite week of the year.  It is a week of introspection.  A week of summing up and counting down.  A week to wrap up old feelings and blow them off the roof like powdery snow.  A week to think up possibilities.  A week to clean and prepare for a fresh chapter.  It is also the very beginning of my favorite season.  The solstice passed fairly unnoticed by the crowds while they were freaking out over Christmas.  Though I must say it gives me great pleasure that so many of my friends (some of whom are huge fans of Christmas) did pay it homage.

Winter is here.

Every year I hear people saying how they don’t make resolutions because they will only be disappointed at the end of the year by all the ones they’ve broken and what they haven’t accomplished.  People come up with all kinds of work-arounds by making “anti-resolution” resolutions.  I love making resolutions.  I never hold myself accountable at the end of the year for what I didn’t accomplish.  For what I didn’t become.  What a miserable way to treat oneself!  Lord, I’m pretty good at ripping out my own veins in anger and disappointment in self, but I know when I see an opportunity for kindness and an exercise in hope.

Making resolutions accomplishes two things.  It is an exercise in hope.  What you want from yourself, from your life, from the people in your life and how you relate to them, what things you want the power to change and create.  And it is also the first step in realizing hopes into reality: mental visualization.  I believe that if you can’t imagine yourself being a successful person, you won’t be.  I believe that if you can’t imagine yourself waking up every morning to exercise then you won’t.  The fist step in accomplishing anything is to see it happen in your own mind.  Actions follow the mind’s directives.

The problem is that then you have to follow the mind’s directives with action.  Much harder.  What resolutions do for us is give us focus and they make us examine what we really want and then we imagine it.  Then we plan how to achieve it.  And then we work hard towards what we have hoped for, dreamed of, and imagined.  Maybe life takes us in surprising directions we couldn’t have foreseen and our resolutions become symbols of our continuing ability to hope for good things even when life is complete shit.

For years now I’ve had the resolution to lose lots of weight.  For years now I haven’t accomplished that.  Well, I did lose some weight.  But not even close to what I imagined I could lose.  But I keep coming back with that same resolution because I know I can do it.  What’s held me back hasn’t been completely in my control (not knowing it was medication related in the last few years) but I still come to the new year with my hope in tact.  I also must acknowledge that I did, in fact, lose 20 pounds last year.  Some came back.  But the point is – I did make progress.

Resolutions aren’t about achievements.  They’re about hope.  About visualizing your hopes.  They’re about building plans to achieve those hopes.  They aren’t about condemning yourself to failure.  If you look back and count all the things you didn’t accomplish every year then you’re just punishing yourself because you want to.  Because some part of you is masochistic and wants to see you suffer at every chance.  How about letting go of that?  How about looking into why you do that to yourself?

I’ve written all this because maybe some of you haven’t considered that there’s a different way to look at resolutions than you’re used to.  But the truth is – I don’t really care if you make them or not.  It will not ruin my own quiet enjoyment of this week of reflection and hope and summing up and laying out of time and action and dreams and reality.  This is my season and I know that the people who love winter as I do are very few (I’m thinking of all of you right now as I write this) and that for many this is the toughest season of the year.

For those of you who struggle to get through winter I’m wishing for you:  sun-lamps and warm colored walls in your home and plenty of distractions to get you through to spring.  Loved ones to share warm evenings with in front of a fire or under a quilt with cheerful things like hot chocolate and hot apple cider or wine.  I’m wishing for you some sunshiny days mixed in with the rain and the snow and the storms.  Read books about sunny places and stories that take place in your favorite season.  Watch movies that are bright and happy and warm.  Eat citrus – it’s like juicy sunshine in a fruit.  Find ways to enjoy what you can.  And always remember that winter only lasts 3 months.

For those few of us who have entered our favorite season of the year – let’s have the best winter ever!  I’m going snow dances in my head (dudes, I can’t actually dance so that’s the best I can do) and the windy storm that battered my house as I couldn’t get to sleep was wonderful.  I’ve got lots of winter squash to eat and I’m actually getting excited to plan my spring garden with my mom.

Happy Winter!!

The Weather Wars

Summer has hit me between the eyes.  I’m gross from all the sweating because I insist on still being mobile (if you sit super still, sometimes you don’t sweat as much in the heat).  The fans are running.  The hiding has begun.  The great big festival of discomfort also known as MY MOST HATED SEASON has opened up.

(Full disclosure: it hasn’t actually hit 90º yet.)

(Other full disclosure: I think it’s hot when it gets above 70º because I’m an arctic being)

I am sharing my complaints here on my blog because I’m trying really hard (only barely successfully) to refrain from complaining hatefully on Facebook about the warm weather and summer vacations and stupid things like al fresco picnics and basking on hot rocks.  I didn’t used to complain so bitterly until I got sick and tired of summer people infecting my every enjoyable winter day with endless complaints about the horrible cold weather, the wet dreary conditions, how cruel and bleak it all is and how damn much they wished the damn sun would fucking come the hell out already because they’re just so damn fucking tired of the cold wet hateful weather.

These rampant attitudes expressed en-mass during my favorite season have had a corrosive effect on me over time.  I have become increasingly less gracious about respecting other people’s favorite season which is my least favorite for ALL the same reasons.  Yes.  The SAME reasons.  Summer makes me depressed exactly the same way winter depresses so many of my friends.  Too much light makes me angry.  Too much warmth makes me uncomfortable physically with heat rashes, headaches, sunburns, nausea, passing out.  No lies with that list.  It’s 100% literal, right down to passing out from the heat.

(I know it’s hard to believe that a 245 lb woman with big bones and large feet can be such a delicate tissue of a human.  You just have to believe it.)

I decided, last summer, to tone down the angry hateful slurs against the majority’s favorite season/weather.  I decided to attempt to enjoy the fact that when the sun comes out everyone stops bitching and moaning and gets much happier.  There’s a benefit in that for me.  If the majority of the community of humans I associate with is happy and dreamy and joyful and full of love when the sun is beating down on them relentlessly:

  • They are easier to control so you can take over the world.
  • They’re nicer to you in general.
  • They are so enriched with sunscreen chemicals they don’t notice when you steal their food.
  • They’re much more likely to do you outrageous favors.
  • Or give you money.
  • Or babysit your kid (that’s a broad hint).

See what I mean?  If summer loving people applied this wisdom in winter, I’d be done for.  Luckily, they are too busy complaining to take full advantage of people like me who are blissing out in the rainy cold storms.  (And you all know who you are, my winter loving friends!  I salute you!  I also say- take heed to what I say here- it could be very useful!)

I am working on this reform.  Naturally I’m not perfect.  This “not complaining” thing is super hard.  I already let a grouchy comment or two slip and there’s only been about 8 totally uncomfortable days for me so far.  Clearly I must work harder.  My blog is exempt from this whole not complaining deal because very few people come here anyway, whereas 144 people might be adversely affected by my complaining on Facebook or alternately… 144 people could be potentially milked for all kinds of favors if only I charmed them with my magnanimity about this whole crapload of sunshine settling in the Western Hemisphere.

In an effort to remark on all the things I don’t hate about summer, nay, all the things I actively and actually ENJOY about summer, I will make a list here as a starting point:

  • Ice water never tastes so good as when your entire body is disintegrating in the heat.
  • Dinners out on the patio with friends and family after the sun is behind the house, making a nice big shadow.
  • The abundance of flowers everywhere.
  • The summer produce.  I’m waiting anxiously for my first summer tomato.  I wait many months for this pleasure.
  • Summer provides excuses for me to: not do anything, not do much, stay in a supine position, decline to socialize, get better acquainted with the inside of my house, flop onto the floor wherever I go with heat exhaustion.
  • Preserving food.  I love preserving food!
  • Picking food at farms to preserve.
  • The vastly amusing fashion show that is thrown by all the town’s people all summer long in the form of tank tops that accentuate triple boob action, ultra short shorts designed to show off both maximum amounts of plummer’s butt as well as butt cheeks, the teeny tiny skirts that show way way too much underwear, the ever popular wife beaters in all levels of cleanliness, the crazy shoes and sort-of shoes worn by ladies and gents alike.  Oh the local summer fashion is delicious!
  • The smell of barbecuing all over the land.  It’s the summer version of fireplace woodsmoke which I also love.
  • Riding my scooter through air heavy with the scent of ripe blackberries.

That’s it.  I’m tapped.

The honest truth is- I don’t actually truly hate summer and if I want winter haters to try and see the positive about the cold season beyond Christmas, I have to work harder at seeing the positive about the warm weather even though it brings me such discomfort.  I have to be willing to appreciate what I can in a difficult season for me because so many of my friends are so happy right now and maybe, just maybe, if I try to celebrate that WITH them, they’ll be more inclined to admit to good things about winter and celebrate it with me.

The Day After All That Joy

It’s the day after Christmas and I spent most of yesterday in bed, napping, and feeling like total crap with a sore throat.  I have a cold.  Whatever.  The thing is, and it’s important that you know this, I had a marvelous Christmas anyway.  I may scrooge my way through the inevitable (and slightly disproportionate) build up to Christmas which makes everyone who has no money, barely enough food or clothes, and bad family situations feel worse than they do for the rest of the entire year…but in the end I do really look forward to Christmas.

In my town there are plenty of houses with those queer little signs that say “Put the CHRIST back in CHRISTmas” and “Jesus is the reason for the season!” but it is, in spite of these sweet little efforts, largely a secular holiday now.  Which I believe it started off as in the first place though I know there may be some vehement argumentation to be had on that point.  I’m not a Pagan or a Wiccan even remotely, nor am I a Druid or a Satanist, or any other “ist” of any kind.  I’m not really an atheist* or even necessarily an agnostic, but I do celebrate Christmas with my family.

Does it really matter if Christmas used to be something other than the highly disputed birth of a messiah?  For those to whom that belief is treasured and meaningful there will always be a Christ in Christmas.  For those of a more pagan persuasion it will always have more of a lunar meaning.  For Jews it is a day to go to the movies.

For me it’s a day to simply be with family and to enjoy whatever abundance there is in our life.  It’s a day to spoil my kid if I can afford to.  It’s a day to celebrate how we get through the winter months with the help of friends and family as well as community.  It’s a day to recognize that we all need each other.  It’s a day to seek warmth and shelter wherever it can be found.  It’s a day to stop, to really STOP, and just be.

Our family rituals around holidays are few, this is likely because as a family of people with OCD we have to be careful how many extra rituals (burdens) we add to our lives.  We keep it simple.  While the rest of the world executes wildly elaborate family Christmas Eve dinners, we go out to eat.  (My jewish dad reminded me that Christmas Eve to Jews is a night to go out to get Chinese food- if only there were any good Chinese places here in our town!!).  This year we went driving around to see Christmas lights and marvel at the trouble others will go to to display their christmas spirit- also how willing people are to pay for amazingly inflated electric bills!

I’m thankful I don’t have to figure out how to fold up all those light displays- we had a pair of lighted reindeer one year and that nearly killed me with anxiety.

Christmas to me is also a celebration of winter.  I have a couple of friends who love winter as much as I do, but we are very few.  Winter is cleansing.  It’s a time of inward evaluation, of hibernation, of rest.  In a way it’s like the earth’s great gestational period, which sounds rather gross, but underneath the stripped landscape cells are dividing everywhere, life is quietly building, invisibly growing in the hush.

I love winter.  Christmas is the only real holiday that punctuates winter.  If Christ had never been born, if Christianity had never burst over the landscape, we’d still have Christmas.  People need it.  They need to remember, when the leaves have left the trees bare, when the icy rains are pelting them sideways, when the snows have buried their gardens, they need to remember that this is the time to meditate before spring comes to crush them with rainbows.  They need to be around people they love and do something festive to get through the dark.

I like Christmas.  I like the lights of Christmas because it is a happy and hopeful display in a landscape peculiarly appropriate for showing off lights.

The religious AND commercial pummeling during this holiday, the ridiculous sappy stories that most people delight in, the egregiously aggressively “happy” entertainment that beat at this holiday like it’s a sad small beast not good enough unless it can do something impossible like perform miracles- this I can do without.  These things pound at me mercilessly until I start sounding like Bukowski sitting through a live production of Dora the Explorer.  Pass the bottle and let’s rip that damn backpack off and see if she’s saved enough money to place a bet at the races!

That is all reaction.  That is all sour displeasure at people needing so much more all the time that it isn’t enough to just celebrate in whatever way is meaningful for each of us individually and quietly.  I guess people just need that.  They need there to always be more MORE MORE. It seems so greedy to need to have so MUCH meaning packed into one holiday.

I have to remind myself that I have no way to filter other people out.  My ability to shut other people out of my head is broken.  I have come to understand that part of being mentally ill in the way that I am means that I hear the world as though it’s constantly shouting through amplifiers.  It makes me extra sensitive to all the shouting out of JOY/DOGMA/MYTH/SORROW/HOMELESSNESS/ABUSE/POVERTY/HOPE/and EXPECTATION.  For most people you just filter out the parts you don’t like and you move on.  Who cares?

The psychic noise is insanely loud for the whole month of December.  So I gripe, I try to counterbalance it all with the other side, the other thoughts, the other possibilities, and in some way make it quiet or make it all shut up so I can just enjoy myself.

The truth is, I don’t want to ruin anyone else’s experience of the holiday.  If Christmas to you is a beautiful commemoration of your religious beliefs then I am happy for you to carry on with your personal way of celebrating that.  If Christmas to you is a time to celebrate the cycles of the earth and the moon then why would I want to spoil that for you?  I don’t.  If Christmas is simply a time to retell peculiar stories and myths about characters I find disturbing- I don’t really care- it’s part of what makes you all kind of weirder than me!

I spent most of my Christmas day in bed, napping, but my morning was wonderful.  I just hung out with my small family and we enjoyed our own version of generosity, good will, and fun.  I got to hear my kid say “Sweet!  Books!” when he opened a present full of books from his Aunt.  He seems to appreciate home made gifts  just as much as he appreciates getting video games and Legos.  He had the grace to even be excited to get pencil sharpeners in his stocking which was mama’s little joke (I spend an inordinate amount of time looking for things like pencil sharpeners).

We got a set of hot water bottles with hand knitted cozies from my good friend Taj which she insisted we open as soon as we got them a few weeks ago and Max LOVES them.  A ten year old stoked to get AND USE hot water bottles?  My kid cup is over flowing.

Max made me a set of comics for Christmas.  All very violent, of course, but his stick figure art gets more detailed and expressive every day and his pride and joy and seriousness in making comics for me for Christmas, his intense desire to make me something “good” for Christmas without once wondering or wishing he had enough money to buy me something- this is like the best Christmas present ever.  My kid is so far from perfect, he’s such a tough kid to parent at times, and yet nothing on this earth could make me wish to have a different kid than I do.  He is absolutely perfect for us.

Max, like most kids, is insanely excited about Christmas.  For the gifts.  He loves the presents.  As long as I have money to buy him some of the things he loves best I don’t see anything wrong with loving gifts.  It doesn’t sully Christmas to me that Max wants Legos and video games.  Not as long as he continues to get excited by hot water bottles with hand-knit cozies.  Not as long as he can get just as excited about new books to read.  In our family it’s okay to go minimal, to do what you can afford, to re-gift things, to make things to your personal level of ability.  No gift is scorned.

I had a marvelous Christmas.  I felt like total crap and even as we speak I’ve moved into the head cold portion of the sickness, with the chest cold to follow I’m sure.  But I’m happy.  I don’t know where we’ll be living next year.  I don’t know what our situation will be.  I can’t predict if we’ll both still have jobs next year.  All I can do is enjoy that right now we have heat on in our house when we want it, we had a very provident Christmas considering that we’re a bit low budget (even Max knew he would only get presents within a certain budget), and each other.

I hope all of you had a great Christmas too, no matter what that means to you!

*Well, I most closely resemble an Atheist I suppose.  I figure I must be because I 100% agree with the weirdly controversial essay written by Ricky Gervais on why he’s an atheist.  Why it should be controversial to explain your atheist views but not be controversial to explain your religious views completely mystifies me.  What’s refreshing to me is that few public figures make any statements about their atheism while many public figures make statements about their faiths.  Nice to hear from an atheist for once!  Perhaps it’s ridiculous of me to waffle between Atheism and Agnosticism.  Perhaps I should just pick a lane and drive.  Something to think about while I sniffle and cough my way through the last week of the year.

If Ricky Gervais had written an essay all about his Jewish beliefs I’m pretty sure he would not have gotten any shit.  People would have just been kind of surprised to discover he’s Jewish.  When Christians come proselytizing at your door if you tell them you’re not interested because you’re Jewish they politely offer you a booklet on their faith and disappear.  If you tell them you are an atheist they don’t accept this as a legitimate belief and consider you meat for the saving.  I know because I’ve tried both tacks.  Not having any belief in God seems to be the most threatening thing of all to people of every faith, it is worse than believing in a different god or several gods.  Atheists are worse, it seems, and more evil than Satanists.  It’s fascinating.  Why should anyone’s lack of religious belief shake your own?  Furthermore, if you want respect from an atheist or an agnostic for your faith you might start by respecting their own beliefs.