Relief is in the Details (and in SNL)

This gutted abandoned shell of a house is how I feel about myself, my country, and my countrymen right now.

While that’s a pretty dismal thing to say and feel, I can see for myself that even in the decrepitude of this emptied house there is value.  Someone was using it for a shelter.  They hung themselves some thick plastic tarps to the ceiling to enclose a small space, like a tent.  Insects have also found shelter in it too.  It is strangely beautiful standing in a field of spring dandelions and English daisies with the trees reaching down to it.

I don’t like myself very much when I’m around people for too long or too often.  I start behaving the way they do which points to how easily I am provoked into pettiness, anger, bitchiness, snarkiness (of the hurtful kind), and bickering.  This is something that has been brought out in everyone on social media since the days leading up to the Royal Wedding.  Damn me if I’ve ever heard so many people who don’t live in England speak so bitterly about the Royal family, about the wedding (which polarized people between hating or loving it where most people who claimed to not care at all were the most bitter about it and then there was myself who started off genuinely not being intersted-but certainly not annoyed by it- who ended up enjoying the coverage and the event quite a lot) and just when everyone is done bitching and moaning and expressing their hatred for Royalty more strongly than I could have thought Amercians, so completely UNAFFECTED by Royal rule, could possibly have felt… Osama is assassinated.

That set off a similar polarization.  There are those who are happy, jubilant, celebrating the killing of Osama as a rightful just event that rights the wrong of 9/11.  Though in the news the people most affected personally by 9/11 also say that NOTHING can really right it.  So let’s go ahead and kill people to feel better, even though it will never be enough?  Nice.  I find this sentiment disturbing.  I find it hateful and willfully vengeful.  And then there are those who are not rejoicing in Osama’s death, who are sad that any of this violence has to happen and who want to see everyone rise to a higher place, a more sober understanding of what it means to kill a person, whether or not that person did evil things.  No one I have heard who is sad by all the blood lust is a fan of Osama, though it seems that many people who are firm believers in an eye for an eye think that not being happy about Osama being killed must be in support of him, a completely irrational supposition.

I have shut myself off from Facebook (and Twitter, though that hardly matters because no one talks to me on Twitter anyway) because I don’t want to be further disappointed in people I generally like and I don’t want to keep myself in a situation that provokes my own weakness and hatefulness.  This is not what I believe in.  This is not the kind of behavior or sentiment I aspire to.  I am finding myself looking at friends in new light, as people I can’t understand and don’t want to.  Following the massive reposting of a quote supposedly from Martin Luther King, Jr., one I posted myself, there are a bunch of people saying it isn’t a correct quote.  It turns out that most of it was except for the first sentence, which nevertheless reflects the same sentiments that are in the rest of King’s speech.  What all the correcting and the snarkiness feels like is an attempt to make the non-violence crowd look stupid and ridiculous.  I found myself commenting on it and the more I did the angrier I got.  People are mean and petty and I get caught up in it all and then I wanted to fight.  To FIGHT, people.  Exactly what I am against!!

I don’t believe in FIGHTING like that, where people are just trying to discredit and take others down over ridiculous details.  I had to hit myself and shut things down.  If I go on like this I’ll have zero friends.  If I’m to be the person I want to be then first I have to let go of the petty motivations of others to make me feel bad or make me wrong (or both) and secondly I need to refrain from turning around and doing the same to them.  My best way of dealing with this is always to go inward.  To disconnect from people.  My own blog is still safe.  It has experienced a funny arc over time of readers and commenters and right now I’m relieved that it is quiet here and no one really reads it from facebook unless I post my posts there.  This does not annoy me as it might have done a year ago.  It is a place I still feel mostly safe to speak my mind and not be kicked around.  Back when I had a lot of readers and commenters I couldn’t say the word “homeschooling” without someone picking up the cudgels and taking a swing at me.

Lest anyone think I sat around whining and crying all day yesterday in my depression and disappointment in myself and everyone else, I would like to say that I did a number of things yesterday to restore my sense of hope, of peace, and of self-respect:

  • I made really good food.  I made lentil salad and crustless spanakopita.  I let the cooking be a meditation while I thought on King’s (and the anonymous person paired up with him in that quote) words about loving your enemy* and I found a measure of calm in this quotidian activity, as I always do.
  • I rode my bicycle downtown.   That’s not a lot of exercise but it felt good to get the fresh air and feel my muscles working.  When I returned home I did 25 crunches with the help of Max (he sits on my legs so I can do real ones without hurting my back- it feels great!) and truth be told, I did 25 instead of 20 because of Max’s cheering me on.
  • I didn’t eat anything I regretted.  I ate just enough to feel full and everything that went in my mouth was wholesome and modest, yet nothing about my food was stark (I had butter on my toast but I never use a lot, I had some feta cheese but a modest amount, etc).  Every day I don’t give in and eat the giant cookies or whatever else I eat because it seems like a good idea to spite myself even though I don’t like sugary crap is a good day.
  • I didn’t drink alcohol.  Usually when I don’t drink beer I have something just as fattening to replace it like ginger beer or tonic and lime.  I did have tonic and lime but only one glass of it.  That’s okay with me.  It’s even okay to have two, but if I’m going to have 4 I lose so much of my progress and self respect.
  • I went to bed early.  Okay, I crawled into bed because I couldn’t bear to expose myself to anything online and I didn’t want to hang with my family or do anything but hide and read.  I was in bed by 9pm and fell asleep by 10.  I guess I really am depressed since I then slept until 7:30am.  Almost ten hours of sleep.  I could have stayed in bed longer.  I usually only sleep 6 hours.  It’s okay.

Unlike on Sunday I didn’t cry or feel sorry for myself a single second.  I usually only let that go on for a few hours, tops.  I’m still in a complete crisis and am still deplorably depressed.  I think it’s not going to dissipate quickly this time.  The world feels so sickened and depleted and I feel it in my bones.  I suppose I’m also finally breaking down myself because I held myself up pretty well, for the most part, through the last two intensely stressful months of parenting challenges that broke my heart and scared the shit out of me.  Things are so much better with Max right now that I can finally afford to fall apart a little.  Except I can’t, really, can’t ever really afford it.

I told a friend I’d do something with her but I realize now that I don’t want to see any people today.  (Sorry, friend!) and as seeing her was going to involve also seeing at least 6 other people, no.  No.  Taking care of myself and my mental state is much too important to go and fill it with other people’s stuff.  Especially since at least two of the individuals I would be exposing myself to are paranoid anti-government weapon freaks.  No.  I need to be inward.  I need the quiet of my tower.

From here I can see the tulips giving their last hurrah.  I can see the Elephant Heart plum tree leafed out, my comfrey settled into its new bed, the volunteer California poppy I’ve nursed along growing more robust, and the columbines my mother planted are flowering and presenting an alternative opinion to all the ones us more restless riled up people have to share.

Let me tell you all, I’m really missing all the wedding coverage right now.  Aside from all the haters it was a fun and frivolous distraction.  When so many people complained of there being more important news to report on it made me think of the Great Depression.  That was a badass depressing destitute time and during that time the talkies took off to a new dimension of popularity.  People would spend money they couldn’t afford to see the pictures because their lives were so depressing and hard already.  Life all around them was mean and hungry but you could pay a few pennies and for a little while you could watch people living glamorous lives full of maribou and cocktails and witty repartee.  People NEED frivolous distraction from poverty and war.  While so many people starved the movie stars that “made it” became insanely rich and I’m sure there were plenty of people who resented them their power and influence over fashion, entertainment, morals, and soon spreading to political influence as well.  Hence the Hays Code and later the great McCarthy inquisition in which many movie stars were blacklisted for being suspected of being communist (mostly they were just liberal).  These attempts to diminish their power and influence are proof that it was feared.

Maybe you don’t need relief from the constant influx of grim truthiness but I do.  I need to laugh, I need to see the rich entertain me with their wealth because I haven’t got any of my own.  Noblesse oblige!  Show me your jewels and do something wonderful that I can either rejoice in or criticize for fun (though I’ll try not to be too mean).  Ostentation can be quite obnoxious but seeing a little glamor in the world lifts me up.  I want to know that some people still have fun getting dressed up.  Sure as hell isn’t me.  Which isn’t the fault of money, just my own lack of self discipline and dark depression that cements my overindulgence- if I got my body back I could have a shitload of fun getting dressed up without spending a penny- I still have so many of my fun clothes that aren’t tiny, just smaller than me…)

I’m so sick of war and poverty and politicians and lies and killing and stealing and ignorance and oppression.  I want flowers, music, light, more skits like the SNL “British Film” skit (that’s my favorite@!!)

Okay, I have to pause a minute… I’m really happy I’m alone in the house right now or I’d have to explain to my  mom why I’m laughing up here by myself.  That is already the best thing I’ve seen today.  Seriously the best television I’ve seen in weeks.  (I saw it weeks ago)  Watching it 56 times does not diminish its greatness a speck.  (Note to self: have this clip ready to watch any time you feel ungenerous thoughts about anything and it will restore your good humor making it possible not to hate people again… put it somewhere safe and accessible!)

My Canon 850SD camera is dead.  I miss it.  It’s times like these I like to have that camera with me so I can find all kinds of tiny worlds to admire through the macro.  My DSLR is great for some things but I can’t afford a macro lens for it and so I can’t get up in the faces of ladybugs or get super personal with my lilac buds.  I can’t afford to replace it yet but we’ll send it in and see if we can get some credit towards a refurbished one through the Canon program.  Today would be a marvelous one for going on a walk and catching specs of dust in the sun or slinky little creatures who don’t think I can see them.  It’s okay, I won’t let that add to my depression.

I think I’ll see if there’s a lilac bunch ready to pick and bring inside.

If any of you are feeling much like I am right now I hope you’ll join me in doing small things to alleviate the tension and the bleak state of the world like making yourself some really good food in your own kitchen (play loud music if you can!), make something pretty, take a walk, do some little action that will make you feel proud of yourself because normally you can’t convince yourself to do it (the crunches, I say every day that I’m going to do them every day and almost every day I go to sleep wondering how I managed to slither out of the simple act of self appreciation?), and if you’re surrounded by corrosive personalities or sentiments, remove yourself to some place quiet and positive.  Fill the space with peace and thoughts of charity, warmth, love, forgiveness, and heal a little.  Or a lot.  The more depressed you get the harder these small acts become so even if you can only manage to do one – do just one.  The more you do the better you’ll feel.  I know I’m already feeling better for having gotten these thoughts out, both the bad and the good.

I still love all my friends, even when I can’t be around them temporarily (generally this is because of my own problems and not anything my friends have done) or when they disappoint me.  Most of my friends, I know, still love me even when I exasperate or anger them (or bring them down, which I’ve been guilty of much too often, I’m shamed to say).  We can disagree and remain steadfast in appreciation so long as we take a break when things are too heated or unhappy.  All of us go there sometimes, to that bitter space where everyone displeases us or we become petty and small to each other.  I am no exception and though I can’t change anyone else I can step back and address myself, as I’m doing today.  I can bitch-slap myself and demand I knock it off and then do something to make up with myself like 25 crunches.  Nothing says I care about myself more than dreaded (but awesome!) crunches!

I am also returning to Kung Fu this week but not to the regular classes.  I’m going to take forms classes for a while.  This will put on hold my belt advancement but it means I’ll be going to do something for my body every week that stretches my limits, that helps me get stronger, and that keeps me in touch with myself on that level.  For anyone who doesn’t know, forms class is learning a set of actions that string together fluidly, they are challenging and require much strength and and concentration.  It’s slow, mostly.  There is no grappling with other people, it’s a solitary exercise.  This is why I’m choosing it.  I want to get back into Kung Fu but I don’t know how long it will be before I can allow people to get up in my face and touch my body.  I have the words “Oh God!  You’re so huge!  God, you’re really huge!” in my head.  It was spoken by a person who cannot control such comments and I totally forgive him but every time I think about doing exercises with other people I have this terrible feeling that everyone is thinking what this man actually said out loud repeatedly a long time ago when we were doing joint locking exercises.  It’s true, of course, I AM huge.  But I need to keep myself from being in situations where others may inadvertently derail my progress by making me feel disgusting.  It was another student at the school who said I ought to do something about my obesity.  So, you see, I can’t let anyone touch me right now.  Forms is really quite beautiful.  I have watched the forms class and wished I was doing it.  It’s quiet, it’s slow, everyone goes at their own pace.  It’s a little like Tai Chi but more fierce.  I’m excited.  It’s more expensive and there’s only one class a week instead of two, but I think this will be really good for me for a while.  I need to go with my gut in all things at the moment and put myself in gentle situations and be careful where I put my spirit and careful how I am exposed to others.

Coffee’s gone.

Take Care until next time.

*You will all know that he was taking Jesus at his word, for a non-religious person like myself it loses no importance or meaning no matter who said it first-I simply substitute “my conscience” for “Jesus” and it works quite well.  I read his whole sermon today and I have to say that if Martin Luther King, Jr. was the pastor at a local church, I’d totally join.


  1. Ann says:

    I liked the Royal wedding, too. She looked confident and they looked like they love each other. I thought it was beautiful. Westminster Abbey is truly huge.

    I think I’m your only commenter right now. I do know how you feel about stuff that is happening in the world. In some ways, those things don’t really matter. I’m not being flippant, just looking at it with a different perspective. I also have to step back from other people, news and events, or I freak out. Most of the time it’s just me, my husband, and our son everyday, day on day. I’m very okay with that.

    Keep the great posts coming. Wish we could hang out.

  2. Ann says:

    Oh, yeah. That SNL skit is awesome. My son and I were rolling, our sides are aching and tears were flowing. Thanks for that link!!!

  3. angelina says:

    Yeah, I only have a few. I remember when I had about 20 fairly regular ones with many random ones. the great thing is that the people who comment here now, are generally people, like yourself, who I consider friends. I know that my commenters have declined dramatically from the first three years of blogging to the last two because when I got the job with Blogher I stopped reading most blog regularly. I read food blogs for about 5 hours a day, when I’m done I do my own writing and then cook and hang with the fam. If you don’t give commenting out- you don’t get it in return, a very fair exchange.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the wedding too. I can’t get over how wonderful that choir is and I do forget how much fun it is to see people all dressed up in hats and such! I’m not surprised you need to disconnect too- from what you’ve talked about here and on your own blog, we have a very similar family life, what with the fun issues and being a little (or a lot) different than people around us. I have been doing so much work on the book for so long I forget how good it is to simply write out my own random thoughts and work through stuff in blog writing. It aint pretty, but I feel a lot better when I do it!

  4. angelina says:

    I’m so happy you liked the SNL bit! I laugh til I cry every time, but it really doesn’t happen until they start quoting people in the middle- I love that!

  5. I suspect a lot of us are being called to self care right now, I am certainly seeing a lot of evidence of it. I know, for me, right now the world outside feels totally chaotic and the only way to balance that for me is to shield my “self” from the graphic details I can’t do anything about. Give myself space to self nurture and find ways to let the every day joys reside in my heart longer than the hurts.

    Forms class sounds like what I know as Kata. One of the good bits about it is because you don’t need a partner you can more easily work at home.

    I am so sorry to hear that thoughtless words have undermined your ability to work in the standard class. I just don’t understand why people feel they have the right to comment in such a way. It’s like they assume we hadn’t noticed there was a problem so they are kindly pointing it out, and honestly who gave them permission to judge us. Good for you on finding a way back into Kung Fu in a way that you will find less emotionally confrontational.

    Best Wishes

  6. angelina says:

    I think you’re right Belinda- that a lot of people are retreating to take care of themselves. It’s healthy and good that we all do that. It certainly isn’t relaxing to read posts here a lot of the time!! I just came in from planting out tomatoes (6 of them) and some calendula and some marigolds. Things like that feel really good to me. I’m really happy my mom is here to lure me outside- we are slowly whipping the yard back into shape. I have reclaimed two quack-grass choked beds and it feels really good. (Looks a lot better too!) Only 6 more to go.

    The guy that kept saying out loud how huge I am (with such embarrassing emphasis) has some form of autism so I know he is not being malicious and he doesn’t know how much he embarrassed me. I’m really excited about the Foms class. I should look up Kata- I haven’t heard of it but am now intersted. Did/do you take kata yourself?

    By the way- I never commented on your thoughtful response to my questions about where you grew up and if you ever wanted to leave- I really enjoyed hearing what you had to say and I learned a lot I didn’t know before!!! Sorry I didn’t respond – I got distracted and then forgot until now!

  7. Hi Angelina,

    I certainly find your posts challenging at times. The thing is you prompt me to think, to push against those emotional spaces I am at times not proud of and really examine them.

    I really should be outside planting brassica’s but I’ve got a cold and it’s raining so I am procrastinating like there’s no tomorrow. Congrats on pushing back the crabgrass and getting that spring planting started.

    I got from your post that there was some reason you felt that particular person wasn’t able to make the judgement that what he said wasn’t appropriate. The absolute inappropriateness of his outburst also outlined that there was probably something serious at play.

    The person that I was reacting to more was the one that “suggested” that you ought to do something about your obesity. It’s the one’s that come at me with kindness in their voice and judgement in their words that have me walk away with pain in my heart. They are the ones that prompt me to feel self conscious, who fuel the voices of self hate that are mostly quite in my head. I know most of them don’t mean to disrespect me but the reality is that all I ask is that people respect who I am, and part of who I am includes the weight that I am. I shouldn’t be expected to change just to make someone else’s life more comfortable.

    The martial artist in our family is A, I have just learned quite a bit through him both directly and watching competitions. Although pretty darn good my back didn’t cope with yoga earlier this year so I don’t think it will cope with martial arts either (unfortunately over here Kata/Forms is done as part of the standard class not separately, so I can’t just do that bit). I have considered Tai Chi on occasion, maybe after I get that job I am currently hunting and things aren’t quite so financially tight.

    Glad to hear you enjoyed the comment. 🙂

    Best Wishes

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