Tag: work

Keep Your Popcorn Kisses to Yourself

P1020840

This mustard is now plowed under. It’s such a short but gorgeous season, the mustard fields in Sonoma County.

This is only Tuesday but it’s already shaping up to be a brutal work week. The company I work for is moving locations from a private garage to a bona-fide commercial builing. This is a really good thing, actually. It’s pretty creepy working in the garage of someone’s home, crammed in like illegal sardines. However, this means packing up the place. We’re not shutting down the company website so orders will come in all week and we’ll just be desperately trying to unpack and set up while customers build up heads of angry steam and it will be us peons who get blamed for whatever doesn’t get done in an impossible situation.

The incredible thing about human beings is their stalwart belief that if you give other human beings money of any kind you have the right to expect them to become magical benders of time and space – expected to turn acrid sweat into expensive wine with a large market share.

I spent all weekend trying to set up my new commercial website for Winters Apothecary. It is not a labor of love (in case anyone is hoping to hear a romantic spin on starting a small business). I am doing it with the full expectation that I will crank out a living from this gig. I’m taking all the steps necessary and trying not to be overwhelmed nor destroyed by self-doubt. I make great potions and remedies, all I have to do is find enough customers to make the whole thing thrive. Enough business will mean quitting my day job and sustaining my family while still having time and energy to write.

I’m concentrating on little good things these days to get me through the crummy days, the inertial that overtakes me in the afternoons and evenings.

The yellow mustard fields. The first rose to bloom in my garden (Abraham D’Arby). The first California poppy to open in my garden. The mandarin blossoms. The sound of mourning doves in the morning. The leaves of my potted fig unfurling tentatively like infant hands. Fruit trees in blossom. Max playing with the foster cat, Jax. A perfectly formed pancake.

Last thought before I go off to the day-job trenches: I read an excerpt of a YA book on twitter that was the description of a kiss between two teens. I think it was supposed to be “sweet” and “romantic” but it describe a boy as tasting like popcorn an cologne and maybe face wash? NO. I don’t know what adults pine for their teen years of bad kisses with young boys, but I worry about you. I really do. Even when I was a teen I would have been grossed out by a kiss tasting like popcorn. Ugh.

So maybe if you write YA fiction with a romance as part of your story, bear in mind that some nostalgia is just icky. Even for your target age group.

Am I the only person in the world who found the groping and newness of teen make-outs unsatisfying and unromantic?  In my own experience sex didn’t get good until the 20’s when everyone’s had a little more experience and matured to the point where neither partner smells like bubblegum or popcorn. Kisses aren’t good until it’s backed up by some living and some maturity.

It does occur to me that since 99% of the population has a bigger sex drive than I do, they might not particularly care about quality as long as long as there’s lots of it.

Anyway, keep your sloppy snack-tasting adolescent kissing between the covers of your book when trying to appeal to an adult crowd.*

*Twitter.

 

My Place In Everything is Small, but Absolute

IMG_20141225_174959

My step sister Stephanie took this picture of me and my brother Zeke and it’s one of my favorites of all time. That’s our dad in the background.

I have just turned 45 years old. I may not know that much, but I have a lot of thoughts about what I DO know:

People who are outwardly weird and unwholesome haven’t got as much to gain by hiding their darkness as outwardly wholesome people do. People intent on shining a light on their own wholesomeness nearly always have a dismembered body in a freezer in the basement.

My place in everything is small but absolute.

Even so, my hope that humans will delight and surprise me rises fresh every single morning no matter how hard I’ve sworn the night before that we should be lit on fire in a magnificent purifying funereal pyre.

Humans are highest on the food chain but also highest on the virus chain. We’re definitely not “ALL THAT”

My opinion of humans as a species has never been lower than it is today.

Balance in all things would be my religion if I had to claim one. So if I want to find enlightenment I must try to achieve balance. This presents many challenges to a person of exuberant opinion who shrinks inwardly at confrontation in spite of seeing the truth and the heart of things excruciatingly clearly and knowing my place in everything.

Your place in everything is small but absolute too.

Everything that happens was meant to happen or it wouldn’t have happened. I’m not saying there’s necessarily reasons for everything, just that if you think there’s such a thing as intention in the universe or God, AT ALL, then you can’t simultaneously believe that someone “wasn’t meant to die” or that someone “shouldn’t have struggled the way they did”. What you really mean is that you’re super fucking sad that something happened and you don’t want to accept the reality.

Swearing is a brilliant pressure valve. I will evolve my swearing as I age to take advantage of the most cutting edge way of blunting my rage and having a good time with it. I will also periodically plumb language history to dig up and use ridiculous ancient expressions of rage and coarseness.

The least lovable human trait is bigotry. The most lovable human trait is non-violent expressions of protest to stand up for what is honorable and empathetic.

WRONG. The most lovable human trait is love itself.

You are me and I am you. We are all of us inextricably linked together via mitochondrial DNA. Get the fuck over it already.

I can see worms in the hearts of humans, and where there are worms there is rot. I would like strew sweet herbs across us all to dry out the rot and heal the wound.

I am a person forged of wild contradictions of spirit. I believe in peace and nonviolence with all of my skin and bones yet I also see myself as a warrior.

The passion and rawness with which I might describe my wishes and feelings is not always the same force that dictates my actions. Give more weight to my actions than my words.

I’ve met people who act as flashlights on the darkest nights, though they rarely know it. People whose smile alone can make a room incandescent with hope and love, though they rarely know it because they aren’t smiling for themselves but for YOU. They’re smiling because they see your potential straight through your skin, right through your heart.

That’s the person I want to be, the one lighting the way through the dark for others.

I might be too soggy to provide fire for the shivering but I’d like to think I might have a warm enough blanket to wrap them in.

That is all.

Peace, my friends.

But more than that, LOVE.

An Infinite Synonym for Shapes

IMG_20140918_122004

Many years ago I was a poet in work boots, wool coat, and creepy fur pillbox hat. I believed writing was the key to the universe and the flickering neon sign “Jesus is the Light of the World” that I could see from the window in my cramped one bedroom apartment if I turned my head sideways at an uncomfortable angle was the period at the end of every sentence. I didn’t have to look to feel it there and for my bones to laugh at the spectacle of Jesus not affording good bulbs like everyone else in the Tenderloin.

I have always been a pessimistic optimist.

Or an optimistic pessimist.

Two sides of the same conflicted coin.

I’m listening to Pete Seeger singing “We Shall Overcome”*. I believe I was born singing this in the cruel corners of the One World Family Commune in Berkeley California into which I was born. I must have dreamed the words in my anonymous little cubby on the wall of children’s beds, pretending I didn’t know there was a predator among us.

The words of peace have stuck in my heart.

Words of peace so at odds with the darkness that periodically subsumes me. That also subsumed a few of the unfortunate children who were molested around me. How I was spared when my 5 year old best friend wasn’t I will never know. Might be because I had a reputation for screaming like the devil when upset.**

All these years later and my first language still informs everything I think and write: poetry. My poetry, alone, is not sublime or award-worthy. It was merely my first language. Before English, I understood how color is memory, how scent is emotion, how shape is an infinite synonym for other shapes. I think in abbreviated sentences, sometimes staccato, sometimes soft. Poetry breaks rules and makes rules simultaneously.

Pete Seeger leads me back to Dylan. My favorite Dylan song of all time is “Girl From the North Country” sung with Johnny Cash. I could never be all Death Rocker because of Cash and Dylan. I could never be all anything because of them.

Not long before I’m off my childhood charts.

Today I got a job. You know when you need something desperately and it never materializes? You smash your head against the universe and it continues to close the door on your skull again and again and again until you haven’t got enough bone left to lose?

This wasn’t like that. I had that little nervous breakdown a lot of people witnessed and then I saw this listing on Craigslist. It sounded perfect. An essential oil company here in town needing skills I have? Paying probably enough to make our ends meet? I submitted my funky resume with my earnest cover letter, the way I DO, and waited. I had no faith. Because life has taught me to be cautious and not hope overmuch.

I got the call. I got an interview. I wasn’t scared. I don’t know why as I’m a worrying kind of person in such situations. It felt right the minute I read the listing. It felt right the minute I met the people interviewing me. To the point where I had the strange urge to hug them. I wanted to say “LET’S GET ON WITH THIS PARTY BECAUSE I’M GOING TO WORK MY ASS OFF FOR YOU AND IT’S GOING TO BE GREAT!”

Today I got the position provisionally. For the next week I will work and if they like me and I like them – I will get the job officially.

Nothing feels more right than this.

I want to say that the only thing that would feel more right than this is not needing a part time job at all. But you know when you can feel that an experience is necessary? That whatever is coming is important to you in some way, even if you can’t know how yet? Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you wish life could be when you’re dreaming, what we need are experiences that shape us, that help us grow, and enrich us in one way or another. Every job I’ve ever had has given me more experience, more interaction, more stories, and more language.

It always comes back to poetry if I’m willing to see it. If I’m willing to acknowledge it. The mother tongue. The place everything started. My original language.

I haven’t had a pair of work boots in too many years. It bothers me. I have foot problems now and I can’t afford them. But I am, in my soul, a boot girl. Not a fancy boot girl, a work boot girl. I love wool and berets and pea coats. I love eyeliner and red lipstick. I love Scotland and winter. I love trains and other slow transportation. I love efficiency and mail, possibly oxymorons now. I love Fleetwood Mac and Beethoven.

I love dancing to music that’s blasting so loud I can hear it under my own skin.

Tomorrow I’m going to open my damn accordion after I get off work and I’m going to make some incomprehensible noise for the pure joy of it.

*My friend Kele is responsible for reuniting me with this track.

**My nickname in the commune was “Devilina”