Tag: philosophy

Present Perfect

fool be gold

You ever see a leaf so small, articulated, and perfect and realize that if your whole life was lived as that leaf, so void of insecurity, question, or searching for meaning, that it would be as perfect as life can ever be?

I trimmed a monster hedge a week and a half ago and my elbows are still in pain. I got bruises on my arms and started smelling like a lumberjack somewhere in the middle of the job,  but during the few hours I spent chopping and sawing at woody trunks and cutting branches I never once wondered about the point of life or felt insecure about my body. I cursed at the motherfucking evil thorned plum that attempted to eviscerate me and it was AS IT SHOULD BE. I inhaled the dust of purgatory, my throat half closing in allergic protest, and it was so fucking RIGHT and GOOD. I mean, I might have choked to death on that mold and must but if I had it would have been PERFECT.

That’s what being in the moment is and when you’re in the moment you don’t care how long it will last or if it will compare favorably to other moments or if anyone else notices the moment or if you’ll remember the moment years from now.

That’s the kind of shit you do when you slip out of the moment and get tangled up in human hubris.

Shed the hubris and get embroiled in the grit of the present.

I haven’t got time for my own bullshit.

I might have the body of Jabba the Hut and the face of your Polish grandmother but I’ve got a mind so sharp it can cut your expectations into paper angels.

I woke up this morning to chastisement from a stranger. Schooling I didn’t need. A sting I needn’t have acknowledged. I know who I am and if anyone takes the requisite five minutes they’ll know who I am too.  I don’t have time for your snap bullshit.

I’m in the moment when I’m juggling earthly elements. When I’m putting seams together or plotting how to bring scent into harmony. I’m in the moment when I’m driving metal screws into soft wood. I’m in the moment when the characters in my stories are breathing loudly enough to annoy me.

When you live in the moment you catch fire without feeling the heat.

Every day I see a flower, a berry, or a leaf so perfect it takes my breath away. They live in the moment because that’s the only place they exist.

No one makes a funeral pyre for a blackberry, a rose, or an oak leaf. They exist now and then they’re gone. Just as we should be.

No matter what your substance of character is, it’s always at its most perfect in the moment. You evil? Your evil has never been more perfect than it is RIGHT NOW. You sweet? Your sweetness has never been more crystallized than it is RIGHT NOW. You a hall monitor? You’ve never been more annoyingly aware of hall passes than you are RIGHT NOW.

Whatever you are, whoever you are, you’re the most you’ve ever been

right now.


You know what’s perfect about the present? It’s constantly renewing itself. Don’t like who you are right now? Every minute offers a chance to for change. Every hour is an opportunity. Every day can be a fresh planet of behavior. Whatever you are right now can be reinvented for the next minute.


Or don’t.

Fuck us all.


Choosing the Open Ended Adventure: Swimming Towards the Ocean

selfies in the sun

I’ve been thinking about choice. The choices I make every day that lead to new choices to make. I’ve been busy listening to other people closely for the last couple of years, more than ever before. Listening to people so hard I can feel the blood pumping through their voices and feel their cells trembling with emotion. The exercise of listening to others has made me listen to myself more closely too. When I find myself criticizing other people’s choices, I look harder at my own. When the things they say make me angry, or terrified, or crushingly hopeless, I listen closer to the words I’m using every day and how they sound to others.

Whatever I find in others, both positive and negative, I always find some of it in myself too. Even if it’s just a weak shadow, I can always find some scrap of everything that lives in the hearts of others in my own. I believe this is because of the interconnectedness of all life on earth and the universality of human experience.

There are very few instances in which we don’t all have a choice in how we act and react to everything in our lives. One of the most important things I’ve learned in life (and I learned it a long time ago) is that not liking the choices you have isn’t the same thing as not having choices. When people say “I didn’t have a choice” what they mean is “I hated all the choices I had and I’m pissed off about it”. It means the choices they had were hard and unpleasant. Everyone is faced with hard choices in their lives at some point. Most of us will face hard choices at frequent intervals in our lives.

I hate it when people use the fact that we all have and make choices to shame those who’ve made what appear to be “poor” choices. I don’t look at choice like that. Who of us hasn’t made the easier choice knowing it might not be the best choice? Who of us hasn’t made choices out of fear or wishful thinking? Who of us hasn’t made choices we regretted? Anyone who claims they haven’t made choices they’ve paid hard for later and regretted, at least for a little while, is lying through their teeth.

Sometimes the choices we make that others criticize for being “poor” are the ones that lead us to the greatest personal growth.

What will help you (and me and everyone) grow the most and find the greatest satisfaction in life, is taking responsibility for the choices we make. This isn’t about being right or wrong. It isn’t about what you should or shouldn’t have done. It’s about acknowledging that you almost always have CHOICE and to make those choices consciously. It’s about forgiving yourself when you make choices you later regret while simultaneously giving yourself permission to make new and different choices every day. It’s about appreciating the rewards of choices you make as much as admitting responsibility for the choices that led you to more pain.

When you choose to do things to take care of yourself, like resting when you need to, like saying “no” to people when they’re asking more of you than you have to give, like spending the money for a good fucking pound of coffee because coffee makes facing every day sweeter even if it means you’ll be eating plain baked potatoes for dinner because you can’t afford both good coffee and a great dinner. Whatever taking care of yourself means, when you choose to take care of yourself, you’ve got to acknowledge that you did that for yourself. That YOU chose to give yourself something you really needed.

I’ve made a lot of hard choices in my life. I remember sometimes thinking “This is total bullshit! This is no choice at all!” and I remember the bitterness that comes with feeling I had no choice. I remember the feeling of powerlessness when faced with terrible and terrifying choices to make.

Feeling powerless isn’t the same as BEING powerless.

Finding the courage to use the power you have is sometimes the greatest challenge in life.

Choice is on my mind a lot this week especially as I near the departure day for a choice I haven’t wanted to make. A choice I’ve avoided making for a long time. I’ve taken steps close to it and retreated in fear. I’ve shared quite a bit of this journey here on this blog but I’ve kept plenty of it private too. I can’t and won’t allow other people’s opinions and prejudices and dogma to steer my ship.

That’s me choosing to protect myself and nurture my fragile courage.

People are scared to acknowledge that they always have choices. They’re scared it’s the same as saying that everything that ever happens to them is their own fault. But that’s not true at all. Other people are constantly making choices that affect our lives too. None of us can (or should be able to) control the choices others make. As our lives are constantly intersecting and overlapping, we create situations for others that they, then, have to decide how to react to or act on. And others create situations that we have to decide how to react or act on.

Acknowledging that you always have choices isn’t about laying blame on yourself for your unhappiness or sorrows or misfortune. It’s about empowering yourself to SEE those choices for what they are. It’s about empowering yourself to make choices more consciously because acknowledging all the choices before you when you’re in the trenches of misery allows you to see all the possible ways out of the trenches. Those choices might be really hard, they might suck, it might hurt your heart (or the hearts of others) to make them, but the person who’s hurt the most when you stumble blindly making decisions out of fear or choosing to NOT make any decisions* is yourself.

So this is what I’m practicing. I keep saying “you”, but I’m talking to myself and about myself most of all. Maybe “you” aren’t ready to hear this shit, or maybe “you” are way far ahead of me and are on to new lessons and meditations on life. That’s cool. But this is where I am right now.

Acknowledging choice is allowing me to be kinder to myself. I’m seeing that I’ve made a lot of crappy decisions that I truly believed were the best I could make at the time. I can look back, with the things I know now, and shake my head and say “you SHOULD have…” but instead I’m just looking back and seeing how I kept moving forward and kept fixing the broke shit with the tools I had. Sometimes I made horrible decisions because I was scared and ended up sacrificing more of myself than I ever thought I’d have to as a consequence. But there’s no shame in that. We all do that. I’m proud of myself for being able to face those decisions and take responsibility for them. Taking responsibility for them helped to set them free. I’m a fallible human being learning new tricks all the time. I don’t float in swamps, my friends. I seek the clean moving water. I seek the streams that lead to creeks that join rivers that rush onwards towards the sea.

I’m terrified of the open ocean even as I’m drawn to it with the pull of the river currents and the moon.

The choice I’ve just made scares me because I don’t know how long this trip is going to be. I don’t know how to pack for it mentally or spiritually. It’s an open-ended adventure. I only know what I’m going to do on Monday.

To all of you who are facing tough situations and having to make tough choices:

Have courage!

Swim for the ocean and let the horizon be your anchor!

I’ll be there too.

*That’s an actual choice people make constantly, to do nothing, to say nothing, to change nothing IS a choice.


Everyone Believes in Weird Shit


Dream scraps: I don’t remember dreaming at all which might explain why I feel slightly more rested today. So weird. It’s rare that I don’t at least wake up remembering that I did dream even if it’s too hazy to pick out a single detail.

I cleaned house yesterday and it felt great. I feel more clear headed today as a result. The guys cleaned the upstairs too so things are pretty shiny around here. Except for the cobwebs on the ceiling, some of which have become large enough to house a morbidly obese family of arachnids.

Oh shit. I just remembered a scrap of my dream and it was awful. Speaking of arachnids reminded me. Max and Philip and I were in a basement or a car garage (public kind) or something and suddenly I saw a huge light yellow (semi-translucent) scorpion headed for Max and I yelled for him to watch out and he and Philip just stood there while the scorpion headed for him and I started screaming for them to move and get out of its way and they wouldn’t.

The humming birds are back in the garden!

I need more graph paper.

My inspiration boards are pretty great.

This is the kind of inane shit that must be released into the atmosphere in order for greater thoughts to be heard and transcribed. The way I said that reminds me of when my mom was really into “channeling”. Not just my mom, but talk of channeling spirituality, messages from divine beings, your inner child, and maybe your dead asshole uncle was everywhere.

I do not channel my writing. I write. I do not channel things through me. Channeling is bullshit.

I used to say I was a spiritual person. I think I said that because I believe people have spirits and I believe that there is “something bigger than me” out there. But I’m not spiritual. Not in the way people understand spirituality. I’m not spiritual. I do not believe that there is any greater purpose in life than to survive as long as you can and then die. I don’t need purpose. The purpose of living is that we’re born and therefore alive and make the most of it you can and stop bitching about how little time you have.

I don’t believe in a “higher” power. I don’t believe there’s some BIG PLAN for us all or for any of us. We make our own plans and then most of the time shit goes down we don’t expect so we make a new plan and then we learn shit and realize that the old plan no longer works and we just keep planning as we go because that’s how you get from point A to point B.

I DO believe in karma and karma is pretty much the same as “reaping what you sow” (isn’t that in the bible or something?). How you treat people, how you treat animals, and how you treat the environments you come in contact with will usually determine the kind of life you have, how you’re treated in return, your health. In one way or another you will get back what you put out there. I don’t think humans always see karma in action. Karma isn’t arranged by a deity or other human beings. It’s just the concept of balance.

I believe in balance. I suppose. I believe there can’t be good without bad, dark without light, true joy without sorrow. Nature is constantly trying to balance itself. Ecosystems get thrown out of balance and life dies and toxins rise and eventually it comes into balance again. On a cellular level we’re always fighting for balance. Our white blood cells multiply to fight sickness and prolonged heightened white blood cell count can kill you. Too many red blood cells can kill you.

Balance is what nature is always striving for.

It’s what humans are constantly fucking with and fucking up.

I’m sick of religious intolerance all across the world. I’m sick of people saying their God is so righteous and GOOD and then torturing people who don’t agree, killing people who don’t agree, segregating people who don’t agree. There will NEVER be one single religion in the entire world. Ever. So everyone needs to learn to live together with respect. The only evil religious people are intolerant zealots and they come in every religion.


If you don’t realize this then you need to go back and take more world history classes. No major religion is without blood and evil on its hands.

I don’t hate any religion. If I hated one religion I would hate them ALL equally. But religion serves a purpose for many human beings and I wouldn’t dream of taking it away from anyone. And as long as religious people don’t try to convert me or force me to live by the laws of their religion, I will live in peace and harmony with them.

I happen to love quite a few religious people. People who I think are fine and smart and cool. Religious friends who are open minded non-hateful religious people. Can we have MORE of these wonderful people in the world, please?

I will make fun of religion, though. Because religion is WEIRD SHIT.

When I make fun of religion or talk about it with irreverence, it is never from a place of hate or true derision. Just total wonderment at the weirdness of religious belief.

Come on! Walking on water? That’s WEIRD SHIT.

1,000 virgins when you die? That’s WEIRD SHIT.

Putting your face in a magic hat? That’s WEIRD SHIT.

Atheists grow terrorists too. And I am not okay with that. I am not okay with atheists who think all religious people are ignorant and inferior because they believe in something different. Nature is full of weird shit.

Platypus. WEIRD SHIT.

We can look at that animal from a scientific and evolutionary stand point and it’s still weird as hell. Atheists generally believe in science and provable things. I think this is reasonable. But that doesn’t make it less weird.

Let us also remember that many religious people have not only their religious beliefs but also believe in science.

Religion and science are not mutually exclusive.

People who don’t believe you can be religious but also value and believe what science tells us are, in my opinion, just showing off their limitation of imagination and limitation in their faith. How great can your faith in God really be if you can’t see how evolution and God do not disprove each other?

Can we all please agree that there’s weird shit in science AND religion and that it’s okay to notice it and okay to laugh, but not okay to hate or look down on people who see things differently or who believe in weird shit?

Because as far as I can tell, all humans believe in some weird shit.

Let’s learn to enjoy each other’s weird shit and also respect it for what it is – personal outlook, philosophy, what makes you get up in the morning, what makes you feel better at the end of a bad day, what soothes your soul when you lose loved ones, what inspires you to be a better human being.

Then let’s kick the shit out of all the people who are shedding blood in our names. Let’s say NO to this evil.

Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindis, (and all the other ones I can’t name but are there) – all capable of greatness and all responsible for evil events in this world.

But please, people, Muslims have taken the greatest hit lately. Muslims have lost the most people to other people’s hatred. Because of a few extremists. It needs to stop.

Malala Yousafzai is Muslim and was shot by the Taliban.

Malala Yousafzai is an incredible human being. She’s brave, she’s smart, she believes in education and religious acceptance and peace. And she’s Muslim. So many Muslim people are like HER. So stop equating all Muslim people with the Taliban.

You want all people to equate Christianity with Fred Phelps?

Oooh – or how about if all anyone thinks of when they think of Christianity are the priests who rape little boys? You want everyone to believe that ALL Christian men rape little boys?

It would be the worst kind of bigotry and untruth.

So stop equating all Muslims with 9/11. The Taliban was responsible for it. Rail against the actual people who committed that evil.

I know that not a word I’ve written here will make the least bit of difference. I say them anyway in hopes that if enough of us say no to shedding blood and oppressing others in the name of belief (God, science, political, racial) – maybe eventually no one will allow it to keep happening.

I didn’t plan on writing about religious intolerance today. I think it’s just been on my mind because of the the horrors going on in Gaza and the horrors going on in my own country where so many people are fighting to hang onto bigotry in the name of their religion and here in the States it’s the extreme Christians. Eroding women’s rights. Chipping away at their hard-won autonomy of body and spirit.

It all gets me down. I suppose I needed to write all this out because I have to remember and keep close in mind my religious friends who do not represent this hateful crap and whom I love very much. Every time I get angry at extreme Christians closing their fists around the neck of our politics and civil liberties for women and people of color and the LGBT community – I need to remember that there are many Christians in this country who are smart and open minded and cool and loving and accepting of most people. I need to remember that I know tons of Jewish people and 95% of them are against the oppression of Palestinians. I need to remember the few Muslims I’ve met and hung out with who I’ve admired and liked and respected because they were kind and smart and educated and inclusive.

I need reminding all the time not to confuse all the extremist religious people with the reasonable peace loving ones.

That’s why I wrote about this today. Because I needed this reminder in face of all the news stories about the evil side of religious belief.

I’m glad I could have this little talk with myself today.


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.

You are Your Enemy and Your Enemy is You

the NYC brooch

Privilege has become one of the dirtiest words but I don’t feel like sharing my thoughts on it right now.

There are so many skirmishes in progress at every hour of the day.  Between people and government.  Between governments and governments.  Between men and women.  Between conservatives and liberals.  Between religion and atheism.  Between religion and religion.  Between race and race.  Between straight and gay.  Between rich and poor.  Between lower class and middle class.  Between middle class and upper class.  Between lower class and upper class.  Between nationality and nationality.  Between sisters and brothers.  Between mothers and fathers.  Between haves and have nots.  Between mental health and mental illness.  Between old and young.  Between parents and children.  Between education and ignorance.  Between us and them.  Between you and me.

It needs to stop.  All this fighting hurts my head.  It hurts all of us.

All of us.

The deep irony being that my mental illness draws lines between me and everyone else all the time without any intention on my part.  And I spend so much time trying to rip the walls down only to find that other people build them almost as fast as me with about as much intention.

What I live with inside myself is never going away.  It isn’t there because of anything I want for myself or those around me*.

The hardest part of my mental illness is controlling the urge to turn everything against myself.  Self harm is the only way I’ve ever known how to control pain, anger, discomfort, exclusion, loneliness, and fear.  Not just my own, but everyone else’s too.  When people I love are hurting in any way I want to absorb their pain and kill it inside myself.  When people are angry with me I want to hurt myself.  When I see animals being abused and I feel rage against the abusers and there’s nowhere for that rage to go and nothing I can do, I internalize it and try to cannibalize it.

Lately I’ve been getting pulled down by overwhelming negative stimulus from the media and from all the people I know and the biggest mouthpiece for this is facebook.  I’m tired of listening to people drawing bigger lines between us and them every day.  I’m tired of everyone being the constant watchdogs for right and wrong in the world where really they’re just pointing out the wrong and not embracing the right.

Everyone is saying “Listen!” and I took it to heart and I’ve been listening a lot, to a lot of people.  No one wants to be invisible.  No one wants to be ignored.  I’m listening hard every day and I’ve come to this conclusion:

Crusading of any kind makes people blind in dangerous ways.  Crusading of any kind inevitably turns angry and evil and becomes a way to bludgeon anyone who isn’t just like you.

The only way good change is possible is when the listening goes both ways.  When we try to find what we all have in common instead of pointing swords at destroying the apparently insurmountable differences between us.

I am constantly being reminded of how different I am and the only reason I can still be in this world is because I have learned to connect with people over the things we have in common.  That’s where compassion and empathy grow.  That’s where healing is possible.  That’s where bridges are built between disparate populations.  I may struggle constantly with myself and my place in the world but I also find the most peace in sharing my struggles with people who live in the same shadows I do.  And I find the most peace with people who have lived completely differently from me by understanding that no matter how different we are from each other – we all have universal things in common.  I look for those.

I don’t know the best way to speak to people who are different from myself but I always try to speak from my truth and listen for theirs.  We’ve got things connecting us.  All of us do.  I don’t give a shit if you look different from me or speak differently from me or come from somewhere different.  I know you’ve experienced heartache.  I know you’ve lost things dear to you no matter how much money you have or how much privilege or how much you’ve lived without.  There are some things we’ve all experienced no matter how different we are in other ways.

That’s the only way forward.  You want a revolution or do you want peace?  Because right now it feels like everyone I know is taking up arms whether literally or metaphorically and I know where it’s leading.  The only way forward is by seeing yourself in everyone around you no matter how hard that is.

I’ve been struggling harder lately against my instinctual need to hoard all the hurt of the world and break it down in my own body.  But all the hurt in the world is bigger than the ocean and wider and longer than all the human lives that created it.

I know that this self harm, this pain absorbing quality is not healthy.  Feeling angry at others but turning it inward to myself is unhealthy.  This is mental illness.  Feeling anger at others and bending it back into myself is not healthy.  Feeling devastated by pain that isn’t even my own isn’t healthy.  I can’t filter it out.

Maybe it’s also what allows me to see myself in my enemies.  To see that there aren’t a whole lot of true enemies in the world besides ourselves.

One thing’s for sure – if everyone had the same pain absorbing quality that I do, there would be no war.  You would see yourself and your family in your enemies’ faces and when they were hurt you’d feel their pain in your own body.  You wouldn’t be able to trick yourself into believing that the people you’re bombing are bad.  You’d see that killing other people’s children in political or religious wars is exactly the same as slaughtering your own and there is no way you would lift a gun against anyone.

Everything is personal to people like me.

The deep irony that it keeps us outside most circles of humans.  In a way that they can’t always tell but I always feel.

Listening is one of the most important things we can do.  Listen to each other.  I was about to say I don’t have a choice but to listen to people because I can’t shut their voices out of my head but that’s not really true.  I can choose to isolate myself completely and allow myself to become agoraphobic.  I can choose to shut out absolutely all outside stimuli to the point where the world’s voices only enter my head in the general hum like hearing the hum of a room full of partying people through a closed door.  You can’t pick out specific conversations though you can’t stop hearing their buzz.  I can choose to go completely off-line.  I can choose not to read any news stories as I have done in the past, back before the internet found ways of shoving them at me all day long.  For four years I worked for an online network and I couldn’t shut out people’s opinions because my job was to read them on blogs.  Now I have a huge network of genuine online friends and a valuable support system that comes with the price of exposure to the whole world’s pain and anger.  So I can choose to cut myself off or I can choose to continue to struggle harder with my mental illness which is exacerbated by such exposure.

I have a choice.  It’s not a nice choice.  That’s often the case.  It’s not a set of choices I think are all that great.  But I DO have a choice.  If I choose to protect myself mentally then I will also expose myself more strongly for what I am.  Agoraphobia is a much more obvious manifestation of people like me, it outs you 100%.  I have isolated myself in some ways already by never going to parties or concerts or shows or large gatherings but I still walk the world appearing to be mostly normal.  If I completely shut myself off from the things that exacerbate my mental illness then I also lose all my camouflage.

For now I think the best way to create better protection without shutting myself off completely is to not engage in any social media until the afternoon.  I need to wake up earlier and write for at least 5 hours a day before letting anyone else’s voices into my head.  All it does is paralyze me.

I’m going to start by waking myself up early tomorrow and spend the first 5 hours writing.  Then I’ll do something around the house like my dishes or cleaning the bathroom.  Then I’ll let myself check in with my online people.  Just in time for my kid to come home and need me so I can’t focus on other people’s shit.

It’s worth a shot.  My psychologist told me that anything I do to that helps me function better in this world that doesn’t hurt other people is not a crutch but a tool to better mental health.  I’m not ready to cut myself off from the mixed blessing of my online life or my physical every day world, but if I end up having to do it, I’ll be in good company I’ll never meet.

Get it?

Special note: this post is not about  a single bad day or a bad period.  This isn’t about a mental illness flare-up.  Things are really good in my life right now.  This is what I experience on a regular basis.  This is normal for me.  I just don’t express it very often because it makes me as uncomfortable as it makes other people.  It isn’t something that can be fixed, either.  I don’t need or want pity and I don’t need help.  I know how to ask for help when there’s something anyone can do.  The one good thing about saying all this stuff out loud, and why I do it, is that every now and then someone hears me who desperately needs to know they aren’t the only one like them.  That makes it worth the discomfort every single time. 

*That is the only lie in this post.  I DO kind of wish you all had to experience exactly what I do.

Wild Turkey Sunday: The Mother Balance Sheet

mama turkey

I have become the biggest pain in the ass on Max’s behalf.  I am starting to feel like I carry a big-ass hatchet across my back and pull it out the minute anyone suggests I tow the goddamned line and force my son to swallow shit pellets and LIKE IT and PUSH HIM HARDER IN EVERY DIRECTION.

I have a hard time with confrontation, so having a child who needs me to go to bat for him constantly is not something I am at all comfortable with.

I have heard so many mothers say that their kids brought out the best in them, that their kids made them better people.  I don’t know that this is true for me.  I don’t like who I have to be a lot of the time to be a good mom to Max.  I don’t think becoming a parent has made me stronger or better or more whole.  At least not by conventional standards.  I had to become medicated, I became a heavy drinker, a yeller (in the early years), I have become obese, I never relax for a second, I can never quite meet my kid’s needs… I have become more inadequate than at any other time in my life.  Reminds me of when I could never measure up to my dad’s idea of how children should be, how they should perform, how they should grow up.  It constantly reminds me how crushing it is to love a person but never be able to  be ENOUGH for them.

Every day I wake up and wonder what I need to do today to get my son to a successful adulthood.  I do it because I couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do everything I can for him.  I do it because he’s my favorite person and because even though he has such trouble empathizing with other people he is so unbelievably sweet to ME.  Asking me if I need a hug when I’m tearing my hair out.  And because he forgets the times I’ve yelled and remembers all the times I didn’t make him feel bad for being different and for believing that he isn’t trying to make things hard for us.

My son has thanked me for loving him even though he’s so hard to feed.

My son has thanked me for letting him be who he is.

As if I could make him be anyone else.

This afternoon I took the back road home from the Fermentation Fair hoping I could get a little time with the wild turkeys.  I came across the female of the bunch.  I have never encountered her without her male guard flanking her.  She was in the middle of the street but stopped when I slowed down to chat.  She became obviously distressed and I immediately realized it was because her three chicks were separated from her by a fence and here I was menacing her – she crossed back towards them and I heard her whimper as she tried to find an opening in the fence to get to her babies to protect them from the Vespa dragon.  That whimper of hers was universal.  I’ve made that whimper too when my son got just a little bit out of my reach and a threat seemed to divide us.  Turkeys can fly but they’re reluctant to do it unless they have to and this mama finally had to fly the fence.

I have fought so hard for Max for so long I’m a little shocked that people are finally listening to me.  REALLY listening.  The school is going forward with learning disability testing.  I got a call this week from the speech and language counselor who wanted my permission to include speech and language in his testing because the evaluations that his teachers last year and I filled out indicated some issues but speech and language wasn’t previously included in his battery of tests.  I was confused because Max doesn’t seem to have any speaking issues – the way I went to a speech therapist in school to correct my lisp – but she explained that speech and language are far more complex than issues like lisping which is just one small thing.  Speech and language includes how we socialize, how we use language to communicate, our ability to use it successfully in social situations.  She mentioned difficulties with pragmatic language which I read about when researching NVLD and it made me so happy to have someone at the school paying attention to this.

Meanwhile, Max’s psychologist at Kaiser is going to start evaluating him this week (well, first meeting is with me to go over all his developmental history) in order to determine if he thinks Max qualifies to go to Kaiser’s specialists in San Francisco.

This is what I’ve been asking for, working towards, for 6 years: to get help for my kid.

It’s possible that he won’t qualify for any diagnosis from anyone.  I know this is possible even as I know that my kid is definitely different and that those things that make him different are always going to make it more challenging for him to succeed than his peers in ways they take for granted.  I have to accept possible outcomes.  But knowing when to give up?  Knowing when it will stop serving to be the pugnacious MOTHER-BITCH and turn inwards to discover how we can navigate these deep waters alone… ????

I’m scared.  I’m scared of not getting the help I know we need.  I’m scared that every year I don’t get help and support I’m going to fall deeper and deeper into this alien experience of being the biggest person I know.  That’s not ME.  I can’t seem to crawl out though.  Because all of me is spread out to keep my kid as well adjusted as I can and caring for my mom and trying to be a decent wife and also having to work and trying trying trying to move forward with my own dreams ——

There’s nothing left for self care, for concentrating on getting back to my real body, my real personality, my real life.  It isn’t even as though I have more challenges than most people I know.  I just seem to be weaker than them.  I have a terribly low threshold for chaos, trouble, challenge, brick walls, obligations, or self restraint when it comes to beer and cheese.  It isn’t that my troubles are more so much as it is that my strength is wanting.  I know other parents who are dealing with challenges ten times greater than I am and they find the strength to get through it all and be annoyingly positive.

Fuck that.

I suck at this.

I can beat myself up all day long.  I’m a professional at self flagellation.

I believe in balance.  That’s pretty much all I truly believe in.  I believe that light cannot exist without dark, which means that on every level we need the sun as much as we need the night to give our eyes rest.  It means that circadian rhythms aren’t joke.  It means that there isn’t good without bad.  There’s no such thing as a world without evil.  It means that we are striving for one thing and avoiding another – and the best circumstance is to end up on the median strip.

This is not mediocrity.  This is balance.  A very delicate thing.

It means that as scared as I am, and as fat as I am, and as inadequate as I am, there is another side to these feelings.

I have a wonderfully trusting and close relationship with my son even though he’s launching into those irascible teen years.  He trusts me IMPLICITLY.  Maybe it is going to end soon.  I know this risk.  But right now – no matter how inadequate I may be and no matter that I’m fat as a hog – Max trusts me.  He truly trusts that I am never going to let him down.  Even when I do.  He forgives and his feelings about me remain in tact.  I’m not perfect, I’m a mom.  But he knows at all times that I have his back.  That I love him no matter how mad he makes me, no matter how much he wears me out.  He knows it.  He always knows it.  He knows it and he knows what it costs me.  I can see how bad he feels when he can see me growing exponentially old negotiating life between him and the world.

I didn’t get that trust from him for nothing.  I have worked for that.  I have looked hard at him his whole life – trying not to wear blinders – loving the truth of him rather than my wish of who he might be or become.  I got Max’s trust because I earned it.  I placed trust in him and demanded that he place trust in me too.

So the flip side of my inadequacy as a parent is that my weakness has made me accepting of my child’s foibles, his weirdness, and it has made me love him for who he is instead of who I wish he was.  It has given me an extraordinary closeness to my child that I might not otherwise have.  I’m crap in so many ways but I stand up for Max.  I have become a complete bitch on his behalf.  I don’t feel pride about that – I just know that there was no other way because when I was polite and patient and flexible and compromising I got nowhere, I was invisible, I was unheard.

As I have been so many times in my life on my own behalf.

What makes me a good mom to Max is that I never give up on him.

What makes me a good mom to him is that there is literally no topic we don’t discuss and there is no topic about which I will lie to him.  And he knows this.  And it’s what makes him trust me when I tell him he’s going to be okay or when I tell him I have a solution to a problem.  He has never had reason to doubt me.  It’s what makes him agree to try new foods he thinks might kill him and what makes him go against every impulse in his bones and be respectful of adults he hates for one day – just because I have asked him to do it for me.

Truth is a powerful tool.  Not everyone can handle it.

God, I’m so scared all the time.

Time to shake it off as best I can.  Monday is here.

Reflection over.





Sunday Night Philosophy With Wild Turkeys

The KingI don’t believe in the idea that we have an ultimate purpose in life.  I don’t believe that any of us are here for any reason other than that our parents had unprotected sex (intentionally or not) and we are born and live and breathe and subsequently find ourselves experiencing, at some point, some existential panic.

I have never asked what is the purpose of life.  Not once.  Not seriously.  Not when I was suicidal.  I wasn’t troubled with purpose so much as I was troubled by a willingness to continue feeling so much damn pain.

We exist because we were born.

I understand that it’s not that simple for others.  (To be completely honest I have to rephrase that: I know that others don’t see the simplicity for themselves.)  People want reasons.  Reasons to live.  Reasons to love.  Reasons to recover from trauma.  Reasons to keep creating when it seems completely irrelevant in the greater scheme of things.

People seek answers.  I think they’re all right in front of us.

turkey chicks

The answers are always in front of us but we aren’t always ready to see them.  We aren’t always evolved enough to read them, to understand them.  So some people look for guidance with religion.  Some with meditation.  Some with dangerous recreational drugs.  Some people join communes with megalomaniac leaders.  Some give up meat.  Some become celibate.  We make gestures of humility to the great unknown hoping that the answers will write themselves across a cerulean sky.  We hope this will part the great misunderstandings of our life.  We hope this will tell us what to DO.

not intimidated

I find my meditation with the wild turkeys.  I find it in a lot of places, but right now I am gravitating towards them.  Every chance I get I drive down this road where I have seen them before and hope I’ll see them again.  And I do!  I know how others see them: they’re ugly and scary and ridiculous and dinner.

Not to me though.  To me they’re spirit lifting.  They make me laugh from a pure place which is amazing because I’m not the poster-child for purity.  I think they’re beautiful and funny and weird and wild and ugly and primitive and worldly and fundamental and full of the values of family and community.

Have you ever been warned away from baby turkey chicks by a group of male turkeys?

They connect me back to my primitive humanity.  They make me forget questions about ethics and unemployment and worth and a possibly doomed future.  All I think is that nature is magnificent.  Nature is weird.  Nature is a freak-genius designer!

Turkeys and vultures must be THE top two creatures that only a mother could love.


And me, Angelina.

I’m a mother, after all.  I don’t see myself as separate from the turkeys.  Can you just imagine how turkeys see humans?  What vile devil are we to their primitive eyes?  I know they are drawn to my Vespa against their will – the shine! the wheels!  the noise!

Seeing the wild turkeys of Santa Rosa is the same as meditation to me.  It’s the same as checking in with a pastor or a guru or any interpretation of how life should be and finding that none of it matters more than keeping your eyes open and appreciating the full spectrum of the human experience every chance you get.

Sunday with turkeys

My biggest reasons for living are the inconsequential details that are like mice in a house of kings.  Seeing a big-ass bird parade himself in front of my Vespa in a message of intimidation and warning – it’s nothing and yet at the moment it’s happening it is so magnificent that if you let all your expectations of life go – it will fill you the way no wordy answers can.

The pageant of life is worth everything.

The pageant is our meaning.

The pageant is our language.

The pageant is this minute right now.

It’s breathtakingly simple.

You don’t have to find it in wild turkeys.  You can find it anywhere.  It’s about stripping yourself of grand expectations and accepting that this moment right now – this matters more than anything else ever will.



The Importance of All Things

tight pink buds

If I’m going to rate the importance of all things, then I must rate empathy above all else.  The ability to step into another’s shoes with compassion and a willingness to comprehend and sympathize is worth gold, worth food, worth the air the effort takes.  If I’m going to rate the importance of all things, then I must put the insects before the mammals, the wild before the tame, the small before the large, the adaptable before the fixed.  I know that in the hierarchy of all things I am nothing.  This is not a subject of pain to me but one of fact, something to know and not take personally.  I am nothing when held up to everything.  This is not the same as being something to those who love me – because that is precious and real but totally different.  If I am to rate the importance of all things, then I must rate the hierarchy of nature above my wishful thinking.

Drawing Maps Without Graphite

I see it tonight through a scratched lens.  We’re all trying to draw maps without sight, without sharpened graphite.  The mirrors tell nothing.  The chalices are emptied with desperate thirst.  The topography trips us in the dark but we keep on charting it because it’s the only way to move forward.  Everyone’s been too busy tying knots on numb fingers and downing anesthesia to notice that the road is burning and the cartographers are all dead.  Nothing but night trains left, dragging across heavy deserts of livers and bullets left drying at right angles in slow ditches.

The bones we dropped between the rocks weren’t half as necessary as we thought and feed the swelling breasts of circling buzzards thankful for dry marrow or the smoke of life when that’s all they can taste.  We draw lines in the sand like ink across a page, memorizing the welts and shadows like skin that pulls us home, like calligraphy tattoos pointing to the jugular where all bargains are made and broken.

We have no maps to this place.

Our blood is our compass and our conscience is our path.

It’s all we need in the dark.

Use Honest Language to Talk About Death

I don’t approve of this current anti-death culture where everyone treats death as though it was some horrible event that’s never meant to happen to any of us.  People have forgotten how to respect death, to acknowledge its rightful place in our lives as the natural other half of life.  No one gets to live without dying.  No one who’s died has been denied the chance to live, even if only for a minute.  They come together.  You can’t have one without the other.  Life and death are part of one whole experience.

I’d like to address how we all talk about death when it happens to someone in our lives or in our circles.  No one is ever expected to repress their feelings of sorrow, surprise, shock, or to not fall apart.  We all react differently to the news that someone we know has died and I’m not trying to take away honest feelings.  However, I would like to suggest that the language we use to discuss these feelings be one without denial, without inanity, without false balm.

The basic fact is that there’s no such thing as a time that someone is “supposed” to go.  All of us would like the people we love to never die but they will.  Most of us don’t want to die ourselves, but we will.  Let’s agree that most of us are hoping for the most amount of time to live possible.  We are hoping we will live to be pissy old men and women who see everyone else they know die and finally, when there’s nothing left to do, we pass peacefully into death in our sleep.  Hoping is one thing, expectation is another.

No one has a right to expect to live to be old nor does anyone have a right to expect their loved ones to live to be old.  That is our hope, but it is not based on any rights or any facts or any promises the universe or God has made to anyone, because, of course, no such promises have ever been made to a living soul.

So when you lose someone it’s using a language of denial to say “It wasn’t her time” or “He died too soon” or “They weren’t supposed to go like that”

There is no “supposed to” and no “too soon” because none of us are in control of these things.  We all go exactly when we are meant to go.  We all go when the time is right or we wouldn’t go.  There are no accidental deaths where god “oops!” took someone by mistake.  I don’t believe in God but I’ve heard a lot of people who do say things like “Susie was taken before it was her time” and it strikes me as grossly sacrilegious that anyone accuse God of making mistakes.

What I’d like to see more people do is use more direct and truthful statements about how they’re feeling.  Instead of saying “Susie wasn’t supposed to die this young” (not factual or remotely true, since she obviously died ‘this young’) how about saying “I’m devastated Susie died so young!” (true) or “It’s so sad she didn’t get to live longer” (presumably true) or “I’m so fucking angry that Susie is dead and I was never going to be ready to lose her!!” (probably most true of all is anger at losing someone you liked).

No one is ever ready to lose the people they love.  That’s the bottom line.  That’s what most of us are feeling.  So let’s put more truth and strength and acceptance of our feelings in our language about death and erase the inane platitudes that don’t really make anyone I know feel better.  There is so much more power in saying what you really mean.

There is an urge in humans to distance themselves from death.  We do it in our language before we do it anywhere else.  I hear people say things like “I don’t know how to make sense of his death” and I want to shout out  that you don’t have to “make sense” of it.  It isn’t confusing.  It’s just personally painful.  I think dealing with loss would be much easier if we all stopped trying to make death mysterious and understand why it has to happen.  Do people really not get it?  Or is it that they just don’t want to express death in personal terms like saying “Death sucks!” or “I’m angry that people have to die!” which is very honest and most of us could relate and agree with those sentiments.

Death just is.  It is as much a fabric of all of our lives as births are.  It’s generally one of the least comfortable parts of life but it’s necessary.  Why?  Cause people insist on having tons of babies and if none of us ever died this planet would have been overcrowded to mass starvation point before Christ ever came along.  It’s that simple.  People die because if they never died they couldn’t keep being born.  You like birth, right?  You all feel warm and fuzzy when life is ejected from wombs but that cute and fuzzy event comes with a price.  Someone must die for the new life to thrive.  We all have our turns.  Some of us get a few seconds on earth.  Some of us get over a hundred years.  The fact remains- every single birth is also an eventual death.  When I hear of babies being born I already understand that the baby caries a burden of death into the world with them.

In summary:

Instead of saying the inane useless crap like “Henry died too young” let’s all be more truthful and say what we’re really feeling which is “I feel slugged with sorrow that Henry’s dead because I’m going to miss the hell out of him” and then we can proceed right on with the natural stages of grief and in being more directly honest about what’s happened and how we feel about it I think we do more honor to the person who’s died.  We get right to talking about what we’ll miss and what we loved about them.  Let’s start creating a culture of acceptance and honesty and respect around death.  This doesn’t diminish the sorrow and pain we all feel, in fact, it brings us straight to the heart of our devastation and that’s where we are able to actually honor both ourselves and the dead.

As a last note:

I am definitely hoping to live long enough to get my book published and to see my son become a well adjusted adult member of society.  I am hoping for more time than just today, however, if I die today I will be a fiercely angry ghost if anyone who knows me DARES to suggest I died too soon or that I wasn’t meant to go that way or anything patently stupid.  I promise that if I can figure out how to do it, I will haunt your ass until you stop talking in such useless shabby platitudes and just accept that this was always going to happen whenever it was supposed to and please watch over Max and get my books published posthumously.

Other topics I wish to discuss about death, dying, and mourning:

How to mourn: different methods to suit every taste.

How to eulogize without telling lies about dead people.