Monday, December 31, 2012


I am not one for New Year's Resolutions.  They just seem to be a set up for failure, which leads to self-beratement.  I gave those things up a long time ago.  As for that end of the year reflectiveness that many people get, I do that in July just before my birthday.  Yunno, when MY calendar year ticks over.  I have always been bad at herd mentality.

I decided to take a break from Women Writing for a Change this semester.  Lots of reasons for that.  I anticipate a busy spring at work.  Hoping we can coax my mom into the swank senior center nearby which means cleaning out her house and moving her and all the emotional fallout around that.  I have been working in a long format that isn't a good fit for the classes, and have been pressuring myself to write shorter pieces just for class.  When that fails, I have been dipping into the reject pile and recycling previous material.

But really all of those things are just excuses for what I am feeling, have been feeling for a long time.  I started at WWfaC in the fall of 2007.  I have done 17 consecutive semesters over the last five and half years.  I have loved every minute.  I love these women like family.  They ARE family.  My writing family.  It is here I found my voice.  It is here that I was finally supported enough to speak my truths - all of them.  It is here that I met Mary the writer.  I like her a lot.  I cannot speak highly enough about this circle, about the energy they spin of the vision they hold.

Earlier this year, I first began to have feelings of unsettledness.  I tried to pass it off as related to those other parts of my life, but that tasted a lie.  Those feelings of unsettledness progressed to distate.  For instance, there is a certain language used in class.  Lingo, just like there is in most jobs or hobbies.  That lingo began to annoy the shit out of me.  Every time a soul card was read that contained the word rich as a way to describe a shared reading, I felt like someone had removed my skull and scraped an industrial file across my grey matter - v.e.r.y.s.l.o.w.l.y.  Every time I heard someone talk about pieces they had heard and say they were rich or amazing or powerful I wanted to climb up on someone, beat them in the face while shouting "Gawddammit.  You're a writer.  Can't you find some other words?"

I found my  attention wavered during readarounds that lasted more than an hour and took to doodling in my notebook to compensate.  I have always been a doodler, but the last two semesters have seen some kind of marginally bound explosion of doodles.  I chastised myself for being such a poor component of the circle.  I stopped doing read back lines and blamed my introverted nature.  Which is kinda true, but not wholly to blame.  I pretty much stepped back from the circle as far as I could without stepping out.  And I faulted myself as the weak link.  This circle that other women cherish deeply, that I had cherished deeply, just felt like pinchy saddle shoes and I wanted out.

The thing that kept me in was small group, which is the work horse.  It is the place where MY writing was addressed, where other people's writing was laid bare and tinkered with.  It is a place of close association and it seemed I had finally landed in small groups that did not have the one person no one else could stand in them.  There is no screening, so everyone is welcome.  As a result I had done semesters with a seriously psychotic women, with someone who took passive aggressive behavior to a new all time high, with a mostly deaf 94 year old woman, with someone who wrote nothing but talked about her problems.  I had finally busted out of that pattern and things got amazing pretty quickly.  They remain amazing still and any second thoughts I have about this decision are based on the love for my small group members over the last couple years.

This year, I finally saw how bad it had gotten.  I never really bonded with the new member of my small group who was an amazing writer and it is my loss not to have done so.  I just kinda showed up and went through the motions.  I feel like I shortchanged the circle and, more importantly, I was shortchanging myself by insisting on continuing in the face of all those indications to step out.  The circle of WWfaC no longer contained me, it fenced me in with its lingo, with its rules, with its need for pretty (my perception here - but there is a leaning toward the pretty truth in the circle instead of the raw vulnerable truth).  There was nothing to do but opt out and see how things went without the crutch of the circle.  Would I write more?  Would I write at all?  Would I just walk away from writing?  All of those behaviors are in my MO.

So, what comes next?  I don't know.  I want to run back to the circle and fall back into the familiar.  But I know that it would just lead to more of the same.  I will miss them when they start back up in January and my chair is occupied by someone else.  But it will be OK.  I don't think this is forever, although I don't know that for truth.  And if it is, I am OK with that too.  Whatever is coming next clearly needs me not to be there, not to be snugged up in the nest but out testing my wings.

I know the nest will always be there.  This semester has to be about flying.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Going Somewhere?

Photo is the Blue Train South Africa

Lately during my meditation/journeys I have found myself on a train.  Not a bullet train or even modern Amtrak trains, but a 1940’s passenger train.  I blame the continuous loop of White Christmas and It’s A Wonderful Life for part of this.  At this time of year, I fall deeply and madly in love with both Jimmy Stewart and Bing Crosby.  Sigh…..

Back to the train thing.  I almost always find myself in the club car surrounded by interesting people of all sorts dressed in 1940’s clothing, sipping martinis and manhattans.  The only thing absent is the smoking.  The club car is a roving erudite party.  Gandhi gives haircare advice to Jack Sparrow.  Kerouac paces the length of the car reciting obscenely fine poetry.  Barbra McClintock sitting in the corner with Stephen King telling him stories about jumping genes.  Thomas Jefferson chats up Kandinsky regarding color.  My friends are there too.  Fabeku is wearing a fantastic zoot suit and holding court in the spacious corner booth with Joey and Gaga like always.  Sherry is dancing atop a table for her Hump Island faves.  My forever small group has invoked the cone of silence to assure privacy.  Sno' is discussing treasure hiding strategies with Blackbeard (who looks an awful lot like Keith Richards in PoC). The low thrum of conversation and the rhythm of the wheels is exciting.  Sometimes there is a loud guffawing from one group or another that rises above it all.  In that moment, people stop, smile and then it collapses back into that steady exhilarating thrum.  The train rarely stops, but when it does people exit and enter with little fanfare.  daVinci and Marilyn get off, MLK and Eminem get on.  So it goes.

I stand there pondering the new passengers, wondering why the old ones left, where they have gone and why.  Kerouac sees me noticing, stops pacing for a moment as he leans over and whispers “We all get where we need to go on this train.”  Then he resumes his pacing and poetry. 

I am going through what appears to be another purge cycle in my life.  The last one happened about 12 years ago.  I quit drinking, lost all my friends, spent some time feeling really really sorry for myself for what I lost.  When I finally stopped that silliness, I met an amazing person in that empty space I had created.  I met ME.  Things only got better from there. 

So once again habits, friends, family members, projects I once loved are disembarking from my club car.  I can’t get too caught up in the why of it.  People get what they need from a relationship or they don’t.  They move on for reasons wholly their own that have little to do with me.  There is no hard feeling in this, in fact there is quite a bit of love toward them, and I have learned that the little achy place their absence creates will soon be filled with something/someone else if I let it.  If I obsess about it then not only does the new thing not come in, but I tie this person or thing to myself that wants/needs to move on.  That’s an energetic booboo that will need fixed later on. 

Many friends have ducked out.  I feel like a move is coming, even though that is the LAST thing I want to do.  The poetry book stalled out and like Icarus seems doomed to crash and burn on melted wings.  I keep hoping for a reprieve.  But then Kerouac slips his arm around me and whispers in my ear “Does it matter?” and I know that it doesn’t – not really - and that someday soon, this disjointedness will feel as comforting as the rocking train motion in my club car.  

Now, excuse me while I slip into something slinky, silken and white.  I see Bing and Jimmy sitting in a booth waiting on me.  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Beauty Experiment

I have been thinking about this since yesterday morning, rearranging things in my mind's attic trying to find the end to the tangled thread of thoughts around this subject.  I never did find it, but I'm not going to let that stop me.

First of all I am a fat woman in Middle America.  I watch Project Runway.  I see Vogue.  I have endured some time on  So trust me, the cultural notion of beauty is familiar to me.  I know I look nothing like the women our culture deem beautiful.  I also know that I AM beautiful.  Therefore, one of us must be wrong.

This is where science chica rears her sleep-filled vacation head and mutter something about doing an experiment to see which view is correct.  Then she falls back into the pillow face first and returns to making her soft snorgeling sounds.

What a wonderful idea!

Any experiment begins with a hypothesis

I hypothesize that beauty is common, that it is everywhere and that we step over or rush past a million breath-taking things every day.

Next comes data collection that refutes or supports my hypothesis.

So my goal for January is to find one thing every day that I find beautiful and post it here.  Could be a thought or a photo or a joke.  I may not hit every day.  The goal here is to try to document things that I find beautiful.  You won't find a single supermodel on the list.  Yes, they are beautiful, but they are NOT the only form that beauty takes in the world.  I want my eyes to stop singularly focusing on one kind of beauty.

I blame this small holly bush for the whole shebang.  It was sitting in front of the bank where I had to shell out a large chunk of change to pay my county taxes.  Hence, I was not in a stellar mood.  This little bush stopped me in my tracks.  The roof melt had over dripped the gutter onto this small bush encasing it in ice.  It was the perfect winter storm of red and green and transparent ice.  I stood there photographing it while customers came in and out of the bank.  Most glared at the crazy woman standing in the cold with her iPhone out taking pictures of a bush, but one older gentleman stopped next to me, looked at the bush I was photographing and whispered conspiratorially "It really is quite lovely."

I wanted to hug him, invite him to tea and do an impromptu waltz right there in the snow in front of this staid suburban bank.  Instead I smiled up at him and told him he had a good eye.

When I walked into the bank, I wasn't miffed anymore.  I was lightly happy.  All because of a little ice covered shrub with red berries.  A little shrub did that.  Giselle Bundchen never did that for me.  Not even close.  The cool thing is that I will never see this little holly bush that I don't remember how beautiful it was on this one day.

And it will just make me smile.

Oh.....and feel free to add your own beauty observations in the comments.  A good experiment is always made better by more data.  Especially when sampling biologicals.  And Honey, we ARE some biologicals.

Friday, December 28, 2012

BuhBye Hater!

I have been away from the blog for a while.  Many reasons for that.  Busy with my mom who has Alzheimers, busy trying to meet a grant deadline at work, blog stalker.

Mostly the desire to continue to put bits and pieces of myself out there kinda waffled for a minute.  Waffled, but it didn't topple.

I know there are like a billion blogs out there, some of which are incredible.  Chances of someone picking up this blog and reading it are therefore pretty slim.  Blogging seems an overused and kinda dying medium for those reasons.  Everyone I know has a blog, after poking around in them I'd say about 90% of them probably shouldn't.  I'm just sayin.

I realized that the blog, like every other bit of writing, is NOT for you people who read it.  If you like it great!  If you hate it GREAT!  (Great and move along please.  Don't just stand still and be a hater).  The words in here are for me mostly.  I know that flies in the face of everything we're told as writers about audience etc.  But fuck it.  Why would I write just to please someone else's taste.  Why do I care if you "get" it.  Not my problem.  Besides, where is the joy in that?

The joy is in having the words fly faster than I can type.
It's in having the characters do something I never knew they would.
The joy is in finding a single word that sits perfectly in a poem.
The joy is in between the lines.
It's in the seamless flow of ink, words looped and slashed on paper breaking the still whiteness.

That joy is mine alone.

I tried like hell to get rid of the blog stalker.  Mostly these days, I'm in kind of a FUCK YOU mood toward this person.  I don't know how I hit your radar, but point your aluminum foil covered head in some other direction and keep your hate-filled eyes off my page.  There is no place for you here.

BuhBye Hater!

More Than My Sign

Stephanie's Hawtness (
What follows is a five minute rant/fast write re: astrological pigeonholing.

I have had a few friends who studied astrology in depth (and some who haven't but pretend to more knowledge of the subject than they posses).  More power to them.  I actually kinda like having someone plugged into the heavens around me.  It can be annoying to have them chart and re-chart things looking for optimal alignments for ev-e-ry-thiiiing.  What I don't like, and what is way more than a pet peeve of mine is how they will toss off things I do/say in a dismissive way with "Well, you're a Cancer" as if that explains my entire being.


It even pisses me off to type it.  It is so reductionist in its thinking.  And the girl hates reductionist ANYTHING!  It makes me literally spit (wipes off monitor).  People are rich and layered beings, or so they seem to my eyes.  I will admit some only have one or two layers, but those scant depths work for them.  I like to think of myself as a very layered and deep being, unable to be pigeonholed into an archetype that also contains roughly 1/12 the total population of the world, over half a BILLION people.  Like there are only twelve cosmic cookie cutters for humanity and you must forever be known as the Crab Tribe and behave according to carefully prescribed tenets so that the weak minded and dull can take you in in a single go.  That alone makes me feel rebellious.  Where is the concept of free will in that?

I will admit some of those descriptions are sometimes me - hedonist (check), intuitive (check), introvert (check), hard-shelled (chekeroo).  But other traits - not happenin.  I am NOT overly nuturing.  I can be nurturing, but too much of it giving or receiving annoys the fuck outta me.  I am not a homebody.  Puhleeeease.  I spend so little time in that place, it sometimes seems wasteful to pay for it.  I am not a nesting, cooking, cleaning Betty of a woman.  I will admit to a soft gooey center under the hard shell, but if you tell anyone, I will kick your ass.

I like to think that the heavens influence us.  That the alignment of stars at the time of your birth influence certain traits.  That maybe we choose the time of our birth to learn from it while we are here, to augment what we already know, and ultimately to overcome it.  Maybe that is why those preaching reductionist rhetoric annoy me so.  I may be part of the Crab Tribe by birth, but I, and I alone, choose my actions.

Friday, November 23, 2012

May I Be Excused Please

As a child, the memories of my mother's Thanksgiving are limited to the clink of glasses and the scrape of forks against china plates removed from their behind glass storage for one day only and woe to anyone who broke one, the press of interloping male shoulders at a full table, the gross sense of too much and of a sick belly.

As a teenager, my memories of family Thansgiving are of sullen slouching, of glaring through the curtain of overly long bangs, of being singly chastised for eating seconds and of a sick belly. 

As a young adult my memories of my sister-in-laws Thanksgiving are of loud and louder voices, of the piercing screams of children, of vomit on the table, of too much and of not enough, and of a sick belly.

As an adult my memories of my brother's Thanksgiving are of sitting across the table from my childhood abuser and pulling down the curtains of my eyes so the hate didn't shine out, of pretending everything was tasty and wonderful when every bite stuck in my throat and of a sick belly.

As a woman who makes the hard choices, my memories of my own Thanksgiving are of laughing stories, of crappy food, of small warm arms wrapped around me, of using the china and no longer caring, and of a belly full at last. 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Change is Coming

So the night before last (or as my great Niece Naya used to say - lusterday - aka last night yesterday), I had this dream in which I kept shitting change.  There was no actual shit involved, so it was easy to just pick it up and use it directly from

I hope this is an indication that money is coming my way and that it will arrive with less effort than taking a good dump.  That the stream will be continuous and without needing it to be cleaned up.

I hope it isn't that my dream muse has an ornery sense of humor and that major amounts of change are coming my way like it or no.  She does have that rep, so this one got my attention.

I must say that trying to keep the change from collecting in my ass crack was a full time thing.  And seeing the change that stuck to my behind made me laugh.  So at least there was that.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day!

It's election day!  My trip to vote took less than five minutes!  THAT my friends is a good start to a good day.  But the blog post isn't about that, I just wanted to crow a bit. 

Today I have the inestimable Billie Holiday stuck on a continuous loop in my head.  "God Bless the Child" to be exact.  I keep feeling like it is related to the election, but maybe it's more a reflection of where I am.  Anyway.  There's always room for Billie.  So without further ado....

Monday, November 5, 2012

Fired UP....and ready to GO!

It was my great pleasure to see Barack Obama in person in Cincinnati yesterday.  This entailed a 4 hour wait in line in fairly cold windy temps.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  I think everyone should see the President at least once in their lifetime.  And wouldn't it be cool if everyone also got a chance to meet and shake his/her hand?  Why yes, that her is an optimistic nod to future elections. 

Barack has been busy in Ohio, as has Romney , as has every major political candidate from every presidential election I can remember - which BTW kiddies is quite a few.  I can't remember the last time a presidential candidate came to Kentucky, this despite the absolute IRONY that Air Force 1 lands in KENTUCKY and the motorcade then drive the 20 or so miles through KENTUCKY to get to Cincinnati.  You would think that my home state would warrant a stop by a candidate, but it never seems to. 

It's not that Kentucky has only 8 electoral votes up for grabs.  Barack is heading to Iowa whose electoral votes are 7.  I can only assume then that the lack of Presidential visits is the following:
  • That KY is so solidly red that the blue dudes consider it hopeless and write it off and the red dudes consider it a done deal and not worth time, effort and money to campaign a red state. 
  • That KY and Northern KY where I happen to get my groove on are overshadowed by the so-called "swing" state to the north.  UGH!!!
Last week I was taking a lot of crap at work (I work in Cincinnati), crap that continued over the weekend about how my vote didn't matter because I didn't live in a swing state like Ohio.  I can't even begin to say how much that got under my skin.  I felt completely disenfranchised from the voting process EVERY TIME someone said this to me.  (PS - I know you all were kidding, but give it a rest).  While I have voted for several Presidential candidates that have gone on to win, those same candidates have NEVER carried my home state.  So every four years I trudge to the polls, wait in lines, and cast my ballot.  But it gets harder and harder to get excited about any election, but especially about one when I don't feel like my vote makes any difference at all, when I feel like my voice is never heard. 

Why doesn't your vote matter in the Presidential election?  Because of the Electoral College and the insane set-up that indirectly elects the President.  So, whoever wins the majority in Kentucky, wins all 8 of its Electoral votes.  For example 51% of the state votes Romney, 49% Obama - Romney gets all 8 votes.  And the 49% of the state that voted for Obama?  The voice of the 49% is not heard.  Pretty sure some absolute FUCKTARD designed this process. 

You might ask - So, if it matters that much, why not move the 10 miles north and be part of the decision making process?  My response would be that I have lived in Ohio and pretty much hated it.  Even that small displacement made me unhappy.  Kentucky is my home.  I intend to stay here. 

A better question in my eyes is why should my vote be DISCOUNTED just because the majority of people in my state vote a different way?  That is completely fucked up!  I just imagine saying that to one of my Ohioan neighbors and can easily visualize the complete hissy fit that would ensue.  As I said, it makes no sense to me at all. 

Why can't there be a direct election of the President by the people?  Why is it OK to do some actuarial kind of acrobatics to nullify any votes? 


(And in the meanytime if you Yankees would ease up on the harrassment over the next two days, it would be appreciated.)

Sunday, October 28, 2012

NaNo Time

Yeah - I know.  I do this every year.  I rarely enjoy it.  I have yet to finish.

But this year, I'm going to approach it differently.  No deadlines.  No daily pressure to write some insane number of words/pages.  Whatever I get, I get and that will be more than I would have written without the push of NaNoWriMo.

This year, I'm going back to my roots.  Waaaaay back to roots in pre-historic German soil.  This is the NaNo project that burned up my laptop and caused me to outright quit in 2009 (or was it 2010?) when I lost the entire shebang.  Over the month of October, I have been re-typing this work from what hard copies I have (maybe half the whole).  I have about one chapters-worth left before Thursday.  Maybe I will make it before then, maybe not.  Word count for this year will begin AFTER the current count which will be somewhere between 20-25K.  So see how I'm setting myself up to succeed?  Even if I fail to reach the 50K word count of a full NaNo success story, I should make a dent in the material in my head AND reach 50K for 2009+2012.  Success is success however I define it.

So my goals for NaNo 2012
     be kind to yourself
     write a page everyday
     write more than a page if you feel the need
     dont get hung up on the numbers.  It's a book not a math equation.
     absolutely NO EDITING!
     you may take the NaNo project and force your small group to listen (heeheeheeh)
    the goal is not to finish as much as it is to just write
    in the end remember Aesop.  Maybe you are a turtle in a month of hares.

So excuse me, I'm off to sharpen the pencils and set the muse's altar on fi-yah!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Recently, I've been taking a break from the blog.  Perhaps a break from writing all together.  Just enough material to look like I'm busy writing for class, but most of it is crapola.  I wish I could say that I was lured away from the paper by something tall, dark and sexy as hell, or something that smells like cool and colorful fall leaves, but the truth is I just haven't felt the need to say anything. 

I spent some time wondering if maybe I was done with writing (I know....AS IF right??).  I think the answer to that is I will be done writing when they pry the big red pencil from my cold dead fingers. 

Then I wondered a while about blogging as a medium.  Is it just some self-aggrandizing thing?  It just feels dead to me these days, a Christmas toy broken after ten minutes of play and discarded.  Not to mention the fact that there are about seventy-leven million bloggers and about five people reading.  If no one is reading, then what is the point?  That seemed a good question. 

I've never really pursued blogging for any reason other than my own.  That hasn't changed.  While I am glad to know that people have found something of interest here to discuss, it isn't about chasing that, can't be about that.  I love lots of people who read this, enjoy your feedback around the pieces, but I don't ultimately care if you love them or hate them.  I don't care what you think about them.  (NB:  Please don't read that to mean that I don't care about you)  When I focus on what you think too much, it twists the way I write and suddenly I'm no longer writing me, but some zombie verison of me that wants to make an impact on someone else, to have someone validate my opinion or worse validate ME!  UGH!!  I don't need validation. 

Writing in that manner is a dead end.  Have I done that?  Is that why the words are dribbling out at a snail's pace?  It doesn't feel like that's what has happened. 

It feels more like I let go of the kite string.  OK.  Maybe I was standing in a hurricane at the time and maybe the kite was the size of a sail and it started to yank me off the ground.  I got scared.  I let go. 

There will be other kites, other strings and I will learn to hold on better. 

So in honor of kites and their strings, here is a poem.  I have been writing free word association poems for years.  They are just for me, like the blog, rarely shared and even more rarely read.  The completely odd thing is that for about the last year, I have refered to them as kite string poems because the words on the page resembled exactly that to me. 

hold tight
to the kite
to the string
kite tail flutter
picture shutter
picture pretty
pretty kitty
boo bear baby
how I miss you
hard knocks
hard rock
Fling Thing
kite string

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The drum skin is cracked.  Great.  In less than an hour, I'm supposed to facilitate a ritual.  I have never done that without this drum - my oldest and dearest friend.  This latest piece of fubar makes me sad and more than a little nervous.  What else could go wrong?  In addition to the drum, I have also discovered that the bag of sage I stash in the basement is conspicuously missing, no doubt stolen by the parade of workmen who have been in and out over the last year.  I'm sure one of them thought it was weed.  Jokes on him I guess.  So I have no herb with which to smudge.  On top of that, I have a kind of hangover from being phenomenally sick yesterday.

In that moment all of me wants to quit, or in the very least sit down and pout.  But, I still have to shower and get ready, load the car and finish writing an invocation.  No sitting or quitting.

When I finally get in the car along with all my stuff, I take a few deep breaths.  In between the breaths I hear someone say

"The torn skin is the highest blessing for what you are about to do."

I feel the truth of that in my bones and I realize that even before we start we have been blessed.  I was telling Lisa the other day, the gift is on the other side of the wound.  I could be pissed off or sad about needing to re-skin the drum.  I mean, I don't know how to do that.  So, I will have to find someone who does.  Instead, I'm kind of happy about knowing it has served up to its last measure in thousands of healings and drum circles.  It has brought joy.  It has made music.  Today will be it's last playing and I can't imagine a better home for the last energy of the drum to reside in than at WWFaC.  It will be retired after today.

I gave the honor of it's last playing to Mary Pierce Brosmer.  It made perfect sense that she be the one to shatter it fully and release the energy.  I mean who better to do that than the person who imagined the very place we stood?

There will be other drums.  There are other drums already.  This will always be my first drum.  The one I bought to facilitate healing work.  The one with the traditional Navaho inspired hands painted on the skin.  I will continue to love it even after it's re-skinned.  Even after it becomes a new drum with the re-skinning.  I will miss my old friend, but I know that it's energy will continue to do good work.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Nature of Time

30 minutes of battery time left.....GO!

Today I am trying to write a piece related to the four directions.  I want to use this piece for a clearing/blessing I have been asked to do.  It occurred to me that this same piece could be used for the poetry book to address one of the major criticisms - that the structure needed to make more sense.  With that thought and the cute blond boy sitting at the next booth - POOF!  Writing muse goes on hiatus.
Design available from


I'll fix her though, I invited in the science muse-ette to take her place.  Some deep and weird mulling thoughts about directions, seasons, time in general ensued.  Understanding that time is perceived as a spiral of a clockwise direction.  A few people living it counterclockwise.  Some able to see that it is in fact both spirals overlapping - my beloved double helix.  Why wouldn't it be represented in both its infinitely small, DNA level and its super duper space-time level?

Finished with 25 minutes to spare.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Something's Gotta Give

My life is full of so much drama and BS.  I used to handle it all easily, but this morning I hit DEFCON 5 when the handyman appeared on what is perhaps the 15th weekend in a row to putter on the windows.  I lost my mind.  Rightfully so.  Looking forward to a weekend of quiet downtime, I got more of what I'm trying to find a refuge from - noise, inconvenience and drama.  Pissed off, swearing, I slammed some things in my backpack, pulled on some jeans and bolted.  Still looking for that quiet.  Now perched at the CCPL.  So far, so good.  Despite Saturday, it's pretty quiet.  Between there and here - a quick trip to St Stephen's cemetery to visit with the pops.  I like the cemetery when I get like this.  I can bawl like a wounded animal and no one wonders why.  The library is OK, but honestly ANY people is too many right now.  Maybe I'm giving off that vibe because folks are giving me a wide berth.

Seems the only break I have had from the shit that make up my life these days is when I sleep.  Days are filled with work stress and drama.  Evenings are mostly filled with mama stress and drama.  It's been this way for over a year and I've been able to handle it because my weekends were mine mostly.  Full of quiet writing, of friend visiting, of napping.  Then the window refurbishing started and suddenly there was no breathing hole for my life.  Three months of noisome smells and hideous screeching noises to fill up my once blessed weekends.

My body is screaming at me in ten thousand ways to find other ways to deal with this.  I haven't and I'm slightly concerned that it will find some BIG way to get my attention and force the down time.  My knees are so busted up, my ankles hurt all the time, I'm gaining weight like a pregnant Duggar and I'm radically unhappy.  I mean an every day unhappy.  The kind you can't shake.  I can't remember the last time I laughed, I mean really laughed at something which means it's been a while.  Those are way past the early signs.  Hell even the middling signs are in my rear view.  No kiddies we are definitely well on the way to hell riding in a styling handbasket.

I know if any one of those three major things would lessen, things would be OK.  But work - that one's completely outside my control.  The mama - maybe we've finally reached that place.  The one where I can't do any more for her.  Not one more atom of worry can I add to the pile.  I tell myself it will be easier if someone else takes over her day to day care, but that just moves us into the next shitty phase of cleaning out her hoarder house of shit.  So out of the frying pan, into the fire.  The never-ending windows?  Those I CAN do something about.  I have been a great tenant for 5 years.  I find it completely disrespectful to me for the construction to have carried on this long.  First floor, then a kitchen gut and remodel and now endless windows.  I will have silence.  Or I will move.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Plastic Shaman

I came across this term while I was surfing Wikipedia (yes, I do this).  It immediately made me think of the little plastic dashboard Jesus that was a staple in my parents cars.  I recognize plastic shaman is a pejorative akin to snake oil charlatan, but at the same time the little truth chime in my head goes off.  Recognizing that there are an increasing number of exactly that, plastic shamans, out there.  And I am tossed back to a conversation I had with a friend a few weeks ago on a related topic.

We live in an interesting age.  More and more people called to a shamanistic practice with almost nowhere to learn that.  Please understand, I am not talking about people who do this for status, we all know the sweat lodge braggart who is the Fifth Sacred Thunderbird Firekeeper of the fill-in-the-blank Nation, or those who do it only as a means to make money, to achieve fame or to get laid.  And it seems there are a shit ton of these folks out there.  Also people who claim to have the goods, but have no training whatsoever.  Sprinkled among these absolute fucktards are some folks who are the real deal.    If you're lucky you find one of these before one of the former burns out your passion for the work.

There is a certain amount of phoniness to me in claiming what rightfully belongs in Navaho, or Lakota, or Q'ero, or Tibetan, or Wiradjuri, or Yoruban culture.  Don't read that and be pissed if you are one of the shamanistic folks.  But do think about it open-mindedly.  Those spiritual practices co-evolved with those cultures, not a post-technology boom, fast paced Western world.  There is no way that we can ever fully understand what someone raised in that culture does.  And insisting it must be only that one way, sounds a little bit like the Koolaid that the church I was raised in wanted me to drink.  No thank you.  That's all I'm trying to say.

So what's a body to do if they are called to a spiritual shamanistic practice but comes from a culture that lacks one?  It's not like you beebop down to the Church of the Shining Shaman and sign on or that you are born knowing because an elder divined it for you.  Western European colonialism and science have done a pretty good job of eradicating those things.  Most of us find someone local to hang out with, then maybe you study with a native elder, maybe from one of those cultures listed above.  But you will always be an outsider in those practices.  There is just no way that a practitioner raised outside those places can understand as well as a person raised in those traditions.  The cultural reference points are off.  This doesn't mean that you can't be a powerful practitioner - NOT AT ALL.  What it means is that you need to adapt what you know to your own cultural reference points.

Remember that Darwin dude?  Adapt or die.  That's what nature shows us.  Most shamanistic cultures are steeped in connection to nature, so small leap here, why shouldn't our spiritual practices evolve?  Why shouldn't they adapt to our environment too?  Spirituality should be an evolving, living, breathing part of our lives.  How can it do that, be that, if we are locked to say, a Peruvian mesa, but live in the Eastern Woodland where there are no mesas?  To clarify......I know what a mesa is, but it's not like I get up every morning, look out my window and stand in awe of a towering red mesa.  It is just a word to me.  I do spend a lot of time though wandering under the protective canopy of those Eastern Woodland trees.  I have certain kinds of trees that I love, beech, burr oak, redbud, certain individual trees with whom I have an ongoing relationship.  These trees are my 'mesa'.  Ditto the idea of totems or helpers.  While, I dig the idea of a condor, they have no place in my real life.  But say Muhammed Ali or Barbara McClintock could come and hang with me for a while.  There's a cultural reference point that I can bite into.  Making the teaching personal, current and relevant is one way to evolve a shamanic practice to Velveteen Rabbit real.

I wonder how much more genuine a practice might feel if, once you've gotten a good foundation in the basic aspects of shamanism, you had a little one-on-one with your peeps and see what they had in mind and how you need to adapt what you know to where you are.  How do you evolve your practice so that it fits where you are, where you are going?  By evolve here I DON'T mean tweeting about your status as great Poobah of BFE Whatev to your own aggrandizement, nothing against the Twitter, but of using the tools that our culture provides for us in ways that are aligned with our practice.  What if Christianity had evolved along with it's followers?  How powerful might that be?  Maybe fewer of us would be called to something else if it had.

That said, anyone who can point me toward a plastic shaman for my dashboard will earn serious bonus points.  And just to be straight, I would not claim to BE a shaman by having that any more than having the Jesus give me the hairy eyeball from the dash made me the J-man.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Kissing Ali

Quote from the inner label of my HonesTea today:

"Don't count the days.  Make the days count."  - Muhammed Ali

I get a lot of mileage from this story and people seem awed by the very idea, but the truth is I didn't really think it that big a deal - more of a young woman's fancy than anything else.  Just goes to show you how the filter of history can magnify things over time.  But the truth is that in the spring of 1982 under a warm sunny southern sky, I kissed Muhammed Ali. 

Muhammed Ali aka Cassius Clay, as my parents were always very careful to name him, was part of my childhood.  Boxing was a regular TV occurrence because pay-per-view had yet to be invented and Ali WAS boxing until I was in college.  So, like I said Ali is part of the stage in which my childhood played out.

My parents loathed him, I never could figure out why.  When I was little, I thought he was funny and sassy.  If I had followed his lead, there would have been a spanking at the end of it for being fresh.  I loved to jump rope to the 'floats like a butterfly, stings like a bee" patter, but always quietly so as not to be overheard.  Because like my parents, all the parents in my neighborhood loathed Ali.  He was vilified more than any single person I overheard them speak of.  As I grew older, I found him to be smart and attractive in both his brash and soft-spoken moments.  He was the first black man I can remember recognizing by sight.  I loved the impromptu poetry of his patter and the poetry of his body in motion.  To say that I crushed on him in a big way would be less than truth.  Not that I would ever have said that out loud in that house at that time. 

His decision to become a Muslim and a conscientious objector to the Vietnam war seemed right to me.  I mean, who in their right mind would go to that place that Walter Cronkite took us to every night during dinner?  Who would go of their own free will?  And just why WERE we there?  Ali, in his own way, introduced me to the concept of social justice although I doubt it had a name then.  It was an idea that took root in rather poor soil and flourished.  Not that I can claim to be an activist in that regard, but I know the truth in my heart of what equality is.  Always have.  And I will always choose that side.

My dad used the N-word liberally along with a number of other racial or religious slurs.  That's kind of embarrassing to admit and as much as I would like him to be perfectly PC, he wasn't.  He didn't know any better.  He didn't graduate high school and worked a factory job his whole life.  Sadly, in his world that word was still acceptable.  One should never feel the need to apologize for someone, and yet I still do. 

My mother never used that word, but then why would she?  She had grown up in a place where the only black person she would see in 20+ years was a porter who got off the Chicago and Northwestern train in Fargo for medical treatment.  My mom probably disliked Ali because of his swagger.  In her battened-down upbringing there among Garrison Keillor's Lutherans, self-deprecation was the norm.  Self-loathing was rewarded.  As much as I don't want to think about it, I suspect that this self-confident young black man stirred her own feelings of inadequacy and that resulted in her dislike.  She's still not too keen on self-confidence when she encounters it, choosing instead to always see it through the filters of her own childhood.

That is the environment of my home in the 1960's, the subconscious hum of race always there but never spoken of.  I describe it, because the world today has changed so very much that I can't imagine a child today recognizing only one African face at the age of ten or twelve.  Most today will know dozens of atheletes, musicians, TV actors, neighbors, classmates, etc.  I envy them that, not much else, but I envy them that balance of role models of infinite color.   There were none of these for me growing up.  Everyone in my hometown was of the same race and socioeconomic class.  The neighborhood I grew up in was populated by roving hoards of Catholic kids with whom I attended school.  My world was ever so small.  I would have to deliberately seek out something different if I wanted that experience.  So, while I saw people of color on the downtown streets, my life was not that different than my mother's.  My first non-Catholic, my first non-Caucasian friends, my first poor friends, my first wealthy friends, pretty much my first everything would be found in college.

In 1982, I don't think most of Louisville thought that much of Ali, not the college age part anyway.  He had retired from fighting, the patter had grown stale.  It would be another two years before he was diagnosed with Parkinson's.  I'm not sure when the tide turned for Ali, but 1982 was definitely before that.  Retrospectively, I'm pretty sure my classmates viewed him as a washed up, rather loud-mouthed, has been boxer. Maybe that explains why his visit to campus with then govenor John Y. Brown, Jr (who I thought and still think of as a compete fucktard) garnered so small a crowd.  Perhaps twenty or thirty people turned out for the speeches.  I was there for one reason only - to see Ali.

I would not have the courage today to reach through his superstar status to make that request, nor would I have the strength to elbow my way through the throng that would gather just to see him if I had.  Some Midwestern traits are deeply embedded in my genes like having the nerve to ask to kiss Muhammed Ali.  I still marvel that I ever did.  But on a sunny spring day, a very cheeky co-ed took a page from her idol's playbook.

"He who is not courageous enough to take risks will accomplish nothing in life" - Muhammed Ali 

That co-ed dared to give the The Greatest a peck on the cheek.  
I kissed Ali.

I like to imagine a little of his magic rubbed off on me that day
has rubbed off on all of us
and that as a result I am the Greatest
we are all the Greatest.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Occam's Razor

I exhale, standing in line for my morning coffee. Present and accounted for a full 30 minutes before my early meeting. My shoulders sag, free of the tension of fighting traffic and a sleepless night of running over the upcoming meeting in my head. Mentally I am still rehearsing the points that need addressed at the meeting with my boss. No way am I gonna let him brush off real discussion this week.

Ba-Da-Na-Na-Nah......Ba-Da-Na-Na-Nah...... I fish in my purse for my phone, see it’s my mom and answer it. A small and very teary voice on the other end says "Hello." CRAP! She's having a bad day.

“What's up mom?”

A frightened voice more suited to a four year old than my 85 year old mother says “I know I am at home, that Pumkin is my dog, but I can't remember how to make coffee and I'm out of milk. I'm lost and scared can you come up?”

“I'm at work right now, but I'll be there in about 30 minutes. Can you just hang tight until then?”

“Yes.” More sobs and a few sniffles.

I bolt for my office hoping to be able to check in with my co-workers and explain briefly, before turning around before retracing pretty much the same traffic-snarled route I just navigated back toward my moms. On the way, I phone my brother, fervently hoping he can handle the situation today. No answer. Not that connecting with him would have altered my course.

All thoughts of work and my morning meeting forgotten, my mind churns with worry about what I will find today when I walk thru the door. Is she hurt? Is she sick? Is she having a bad day? Or is today the first day of a forever of bad days? That last thought causes a grip in my midsection like the rebound from a welterweight punch. My heart breaks a little. I am not ready for this I shout in my head. The tears push through the barrier and threaten to spill. Well ready or not, it's coming and crying? Really? That won't help. So pull it together and be there for her. See where she is today and stop imagining zebras.

Distracted, I run a red light as I speed through downtown. I look around guiltily praying that no cop saw me do that. A ticket is the last thing I need this morning. No point in killing yourself. She will still be there whenever you get there. With some effort, I ease my foot off the accelerator, slow to the speed limit, and try to focus on the driving. But my mind is still only partly on the task. The rest is tucked up with my mom in her little crackerbox house. JustbeOK. JustbeOK. JustbeOK. I loop it in my head and unconsciously press down on the accelerator again.

I pause for a moment, hand on the door. Breathe. You can do this. Pushing the door open I find my mom sleeping on the couch.....or is she? FUCK! But I can see her chest rising shallowly with each breath. I exhale. Squatting down beside her, I touch her on the arm. The eyes that flutter open are as lost and confused as the voice that croaks out a small “Hello”. For a moment I realize she doesn't know me and that little crack in my heart widens. The tears threaten again, but I stifle them with a quickness. “Hi mom” I greet her, hoping for a gleam of recognition where there isn’t one.

I rub her arm gently, aware that touch sometimes helps her find her way back into the now from wherever she goes in the past. Nothing. I kiss her on the forehead and decide to give her space to wake all the way up before panicking. I unpack the milk and pastry I picked up on the way, start coffee perking and walk back out steeled with my best game face.

She is sitting up and looks at me when I return, some faint whisper of recognition there. “I feel dizzy” she states simply. I stand her up, hoping to gawd she doesn’t vomit. I don’t do vomit. She lurches and I think we are both going down, but then I catch my balance and right us both. I sit her down in her chair at the dining room table, the one facing the big picture window, the one that has yesterday’s paper spread out like an unruly roadmap in front of it. It’s on the puzzle page, but the puzzles remain blank. This woman who used to do the crossword in ink has left them blank, the crack groans under the effort and tears threaten again. You can’t cry. Not now. Later.

I feed her disgusting sugary pastries because they are her fave, serve her juice and coffee as I wonder, When was the last healthy meal she ate. Conversation is small in clipped sentences. I try to figure out if there is something more wrong with her than the usual Alzheimer’s associated things. Is it possible she had another TIA? She has had one before, but it’s almost impossible to tell the symptoms of that from her Alzheimer’s. While she sips coffee, I slip into the bedroom and call her doctor. I want someone with some medical expertise to evaluate her. No dice. He is out of the office and his staff coldly tells me to take her to the ER if it’s serious. Motherfuckers if I knew it was serious we would already be at the ER. Sometimes medical staff makes me want to go Rambo. But I know Rambo wouldn’t be able to help any of us where we are today.

When I go back out, she looks a bit brighter, but still mostly absent. Like a toddler, she announces “I’m tired” and I walk her to her recliner and settle her there. “I’m cold” she says in that same flat voice that scares me more than Pennywise the Clown ever did. It’s August, the A/C is on and it’s pleasant in her house. She is never too cold, a fact I attribute to her childhood in the Dakotas. I cover her gently with a fleece throw, kiss her forehead. She is asleep in moments and I suspect she will be out for a couple hours. So, bad daughter that I am, I slip home to grab some things.

Driving home, that’s when the tears hit. I barely make it the mile between her house and mine. Stumble up the stairs and throw myself onto the couch where I dissolve in sobs that originate somewhere in the vicinity of my toes and feel like nothing so much as teary vomit. Then there is real vomit the way that too-strong emotions always bring that for me. I hear her little voice say “I am tired”. I nod my head in agreement. I am tired too. Tired of this situation. Glad for every moment that I have her aware and that crack in my heart ever widening in the moments she is not. One day there will be no bounce. She will stay in the away place. The crack will break my heart into pieces. Please don’t let that be today I pray.

Exhausted, I fall asleep with that prayer on my lips. And in my dreams I see my grandmother and with her a platoon of stern-faced, broom-wielding women I intuitively know to be my greats. Hard and dutiful farmwomen whose genes I carry despite moving away from farm life. They are me and I am them no matter where I live, no matter what I do. I should mention that my grandmother scared the crap outta me my whole life. There was no pleasing her, I was too loud or too quiet, I was always improperly dressed and behaved like a hooligan. I was lazy and needed discipline. Only when she fell into her own Alzheimer’s hell did she soften. By then she no longer recognized me. Perhaps she was softer than her mother, the way that my mother was softer than she, the way that I am softer than my mom. The way my daughters would have been a better version of me if there had been daughters.

When I return to Mom’s later, she is awake and seems fine or at least what we are calling fine these days, fine being a sliding scale. I take her to lunch, we go fabric shopping, we laugh and things in my world right themselves again.

I like to think that my grandmother and her broom posse came to my mom while she slept and swept out the cobwebs. It’s like this morning never happened for her.  Too bad I can't same the same for me. That is both the curse and the blessing of where we are. But this morning did happen and sometimes I can still hear that little broken voice coming thru my phone and see that vacant sparkless look in her eyes in my head. It’s coming, the day without a bounce. But not today. And until then, I’m keeping the grandmothers on speed dial.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

It's So Much More Than It Seems

I go my hair cut today.  About an acre and a half lopped off the bottom that needed to go and the Rogue stripe brought closer and closer to where I envisioned it when I first saw Anna Paquin rock it in X-men.  

I know many people will hate it on sight.  

I know most people won't understand it.

I know some people will compare me to my friend Patricia who also sports a stripe on her pale red locks.  There are worse people I could emulate, but she hasn't anything to do with it really.  

I don't care how you feel about it, whether you like/hate it, whether you understand or if you think I look like the Big Fig Newton himself.  I just don't care.  

It makes me radiantly happy.  It made me laugh with joy when she was done today.  

I am talking to my friend Karla as she cuts and dabbles on the canvas that is my head, when I realize that there has been something monumental and rather important that happened to me that allowed me to make this change.  My childhood was spent learning to hide, hide my intelligence, hide my feelings, hide pretty much everything that made me who I am at my core.  As an abused child I learned to physically hide my body, to occupy the smallest space possible in order to escape notice.  When my weight began to soar as the result of an undiagnosed metabolic issue, all those thoughts and ideas were reinforced.  I saw only judgment in eyes wherever I looked.  So I stopped looking.

A lifetime of learning later I don't feel that way any longer.  I genuinely like who I am.  I no longer need approval.  Other people's judgment based on looks, well that's on them.  I am who I am.  And who I am today is someone who is not afraid to be seen, not afraid to look different, not afraid to BE different.  In fact, those are some of my favorite things about myself.  My hair is simply another outward manifestation of that inner change.  It marks another milestone in my recovery toward whole human being.  

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Venn Diagram Experiment

My friend and fellow co-writer goddess Laurie wrote a poem in the form of a Venn Diagram.  I love some good Venn.  For those of you who perhaps don't remember high school math, here is a picture.  In her piece LL grooved on what she wanted v what she got as circles A and B respectively with much overlappage.  MUCH discussion ensued over this piece.  My knee jerk reaction was both love it and hate it at the same time.  Shit like that is like a puzzle for me to decipher.

When I first tried to imagine the "What I Wanted" circle v the "What I Got" circle, they are non-overlapping circles.  As a child and young adult, what I wanted most was to be normal.  I had not yet attained my adult understanding of just how boring 'normal' is.  Pretty sure hell is full of normal sameness. I wanted to stop being afraid.  I wanted not to have to hide.  I wanted just one person to see and love me just like I was.  I wanted safety.

In the "What I Got" circle was none of that.

As long as I looked for someone else to provide me with the things in my A circle, those circles remained stubbornly aloof from one another.  As I learned to be my own best friend, my own advocate, my own safety net, my own lover and boon companion, those circles began to dance slowly toward each other until they were nearly coincident.  As I saw that, I became aware how very much of my attention had been focused on the little sliver moon of A that I had yet to attain, instead of on the wealth of things in the 'both A & B' part.  I like both/and.  I am grateful to LL and for the overlap.  My focus is better served there.

So in response to this poem, I wrote the following love letter to myself.


 you for your intergalactic hominess.
 you for your ability to find beauty in unexpected places.
 you for your mountain switchback operating system
 you for your softness that invites other beings to call you home.
 you because you love rain.
 you for your capacity to step through the doorway of a book and be there.
 you for your patience.
 you for the way you accept the teeter totter of duality, occupying both seats and neither.
 you for your unwavering loyalty.
 you for your appreciation of silence.
 you for your ability to fly solo.
 you for your love of snug friendships
 you for your round belly that gives birth to the world.
 you for the way you wrangle words or let them flow trusting where they lead.
 your nerdiness
 you for your belief that everything will work out OK.  
 your belief in superheroes and that they exist within each of us.
 you for your ability to calm.  You are a people whisperer.  

I just  you.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Looking for My Buoyant Place

I have been trying to keep my head above water these last few weeks, things with my mom, things at work. It seems the only "me" time I get some weeks is when I close my eyes to sleep and the random Sunday morning writing time at the Dawg. I am trying to be patient and compassionate toward all the players, myself included. Succeeding more often than I fail, so counting that a success.

No part of either of these situations is within my control to change. Nor are they situations that I am able to distance myself from. So the best course of action seems acceptance and a sort of detachment from the angst bits. I know that is sometimes seen as the weaker choice by our Western culture the same way that love is seen as a sort of weaker stance, but I'm pretty sure that bit of conditioning is wrong.

It's much easier to explode your anger out onto someone, to misdirect your own crap, to blame, to hate. Much, much easier. It's so much harder to hold onto it for a moment, objectively examine it and determine how much of this is really just your shit showing.

"Umm. Excuse me. Your shit's showing"

Gawd knows I have certainly been that volatile angry person, just ask my little brother who was my favorite target growing up. But the thing is, that the exploding bouts of anger didn't make me feel any better. Instead they simply made me feel guilty or childish and kinda ashamed.

The shift from angry bitch to calmness began with my studies of energetic work, like Reiki. It's an ongoing process and I learn something new every day. There is always a deeper level and like a Galilean thermometer we each find our own place of buoyancy. I know my little glass bauble is still sinking as I haven't found my point yet. 

The best part is the more I try, the easier it gets. So what's the magic formula for this. Dunno exactly. Probably different for you than me. But the following things have certainly helped me:
It all starts with want to. You have to want things to be different. You have to put your energy into it. A big dose of patience never hurt either. The changes I am talking about have evolved over the last 12 years.

Reading about the very real and deleterious effects of stress (and what is anger really, but really amped up stress in a blender) and bad diet on the human body. Holeee fuck that's a hot mess of no-way-do-I-want-that. Stress, cortisol, weight gain, stress on the heart and brain. The more I read, the more determined I became to learn to leash the beast.

I began to look into a number of homeopathic types of healing. (Although healing here is clearly the wrong word for me.) First among these was Reiki, a Japanese type of energy work. One of the practices of this type of work is to say, to ponder and to try to emulate the Reiki Prinicples daily.  I said them even when I was pretty sure I would fail. I said them 3-4 times a day. The thing that made it easier to believe was that "Just for today" thought. I mean I can do anything for just one day. It's not like I'm saying I will do this forever. Just one stinkin day. I can do that.

The weird thing is that they began to stick like good affirmations always do (or bad ones). I began to recognize the stages of my body in anger or stress. And I began to intervene in the process before I reached DEFCON5 and blew someone's hair back. I learned to step away from the thing annoying or stressing me. Step out either physically or mentally. Distance is good. Take a half a dozen really deep breaths. I imagine letting the beast out with my breath instead of my tongue. (For a really spectacular and completely non-woowoo way to do this check out my friend Fabeku's Don't Lose Your Shit Kit. Bonus: It's funny as hell). I could go into the physiology of what this does to calm your body, but really??? who would be awake by the end of that.

Once I was a little calmer, science chica stepped in and began to analyze the situation. Since not all of you have one of these, I might encourage you to get one. We're certainly cheap enough, especially in the current economy. Science chica is objective. Objective as in unswayable by my whining and one-sided view point. She analyzes the data from every side without a shred of emotional attachment and constructs hypothesis based on these data. She doesn't sugar coat it. When I am wrong she tells me so. When I try to make one person responsible for the world's crap or my own ills, she steps in and say "Don't think so". I could mow her over and just proceed with my crap, but I have learned she is often right and that if I listen I feel better about how unpleasant situations play out. Once I gave her that latitude, it was all kinda easy after that. She now steps in and stops me as soon as I try to shift blame or circle up all the shit wagons into one big train. Don't tell her, but I seriously love her for doing that. I might get her a tie-dyed lab coat just for shits and giggles.

The latest piece came in with studying lots of alternative medicine and beginning to understand the place where these thoughts and quantum physics are starting to talk the same language. Realizing my life is lived on a StarTrek holodeck and I am the one with the key. If I focus on what's wrong, seems that's all I see - as if the holodeck has interpreted my thoughts for what I want. If I can turn my focus back toward something else, it often rewards me with it. This took a lot of practice. Much of our society is set up to reinforce negativity. I find this sad and ironic that we are good at making it someone else's fault, or wholly our own fault. We are terrible at objectively seeing which pieces of crap are ours and which are not.  I invite you to change that.  To find a buoyant density that is all your own.  

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Moose Magic

Moose magics are still in play a week later.

I have been trying to hold  a place that allows for unexpectedness and joy.

Guess what??

It's working!

Spectacular writing small group on Saturday with all my favorite players.

My mom has evened out again.

And lastly......and most importantly.  I reconnected quite by accident with a very dear friend.  I had almost convinced myself that it wasn't going to happen, that we would just keep promising each other out on FB to get together soon.  That we would just keep on fooling ourselves with the politeness of people who used to be friends.  Turns out that was silly thinking.  I kinda knew that, but those thoughts were starting to win out.

Today, while I was at my favorite hangout I unexpectedly ran into two of my favorite people, including my friend who has been kinda MIA from my life for the past year.  How I have missed her.  How very happy I am to have seen her.

THAT is the power of moose made real.  Unexpected and full of joy.

A girl could get used to this.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Dealing With It

Somedays are good
Others loop hopelessly inward
a dog chained 
to a post in the yard

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Blog-ey Bits Backlog

Just got back from a few much needed days away from home.  There's a pile of laundry that I can smell from here.  My DVR is full of shit that I know I won't watch.  My head feels kinda the same way.  Not one shred of writing in a week makes me feel cranially constipated.

There's a lot going on around me right now.  Sometimes that stuff creeps in and feels more important, more MINE, than it really is.  Getting away reminded me that I am not responsible for that stuff, that the majority of it is created by other folks, and that by supporting it I give it wings that it doesn't deserve.

Nature is a great reminder of just where my own personal boundaries need to be.  I am not responsible for anyone other than me out there.  Or here either.  If that sounds selfish, then so be it.  It's a good selfish.  The kind more of us should indulge in.

Every year about this time I take off with my younger brother for a few days.  This year we returned to Maine.  Our goals were simple and twofold:

 1)  To stand at the easternmost point of the US.


  2)  To see moose in the wild.

Getting to West Quoddy Head was the easier of the two.  You just need a car, a map and a willingness to haul ass for hours.  I don't know what the appeal of this place is.  Maybe it's the cute candy cane of a light house there.  Maybe it's about something less tangible.  There's something about standing at the edge of the world, or a cliff or a country, about butting yourself right up against the edge of something and leaning out into the unknown, that appeals to me.  As if I can just reach out and be somewhere I have never been before.  Someplace where I am not known.  A place I can dance with as a stranger.

Moose, being wild creatures and therefore less predictable, were a bit more tricky.  Regardless, I was quite certain that we would be successful.  And we were.

Not just successful, but successful beyond my wildest hopes - which are fairly out there.  This little yearling calf came up and grazed about ten feet from where we were sitting.  So trusting.  Both parents calmly allowing us to adore him while they grazed tasty things from the bottom of the lake.

When I ponder this after the fact, I think we just created a space that allowed for such a close moose encounter by believing it would happen.  That kind of idea may seem foreign to you, but I have seen it work time and time again (and I have rarely seen the reverse work - i.e. by believing something won't happen that it actually does).  The first step in having anything happen is to believe that it can.  That creates a little space in which the magic can happen....moose magic.  That's an idea that had gotten lost in the drift of emotional garbage around me.

The next day, I made my intention known that I wanted to be surprised.  I didn't care what form it took.  Just something unexpected.  When we checked in at the Portland airport, the desk clerk offered us a deal too sweet to pass on.  If we agreed to fly out the next morning instead of right then, he would fly us first class, give us a swank hotel and food vouchers for the evening and.....give each of us two round trip tickets to anywhere in the US that the airline flies.  Since little brother and I are not Bill Gates, we jumped on it.  Only later did I remember that I wanted to be surprised.  Boy Howdy was I!

The whole thing seems unreal and kinda funny now that I'm sitting at home.  It was so easy.  And I have to ask myself, if big magics like moose and fantastical airline upgrades are as easy as asking, then why does my life seem so hard?

*Insert sonic BOOM here*

It's hard because I become afraid of the unknown.  It's hard because I forget to ask for what I want.  It's hard because I stop believing in the magic.  It's hard because I tell myself it's hard.

So whenever I feel overwhelmed with crap, I'm just gonna try to remember this little guy.  Remember how he just appeared out of the blue.  Remember that all I have to do is lean out into the unknown a bit and picture a new horizon for the magic to happen.

Monday, June 25, 2012

My Coy Mistress

Tonight, I heard myself telling my friend and masseuse of all time, Judy, about the stuff going on in my life.  Little bells going off like the theme to the Exorcist - only with less vomit - as I do.  I paused for a moment regarding those bells, realized that I had been telling this same exact thing to friends the day before.  In fact, I had been nattering on about it for a while - weeks even.

Ruh-roh raggy!  This was no longer just venting or anything remotely like it.  It was plain old story telling.  Writers are particularly prone to do this.  Occupational hazard.  It's one thing to tell a story as a writer.  This is something else entirely.  It's about garnering sympathy or excusing a foul mood or whatever.  And with each telling the details become more real, more true and more immoveable in my head.  I become more fixed, more emotionally vested in the story itself, more distant from objectivity.  (Science nerd girl shakes her head at that last one).

This particular story was about my life and how there's no time in it, how everything is hard right now blahblahblah.  You know the kind I'm talking about.  Bo-ring!  As Judy begins the massage it hurts.  Every point feels too deep, causes flinching and pain.  There is no muscular release.  That is the very real effect that this particular story had on my body - tightness, restriction, inflexibility, pain.  Judy is trying to get out of my why I am like that tonight.  Four hours later, I finally have the answer.   I am stuck in a story about those very things.

I have to ask myself why the FUCK am I hanging on to this story?  I would never write anything so pathetic.  So, why should I give it any energy at all?  Exactly.  What I should have told Judy was that I needed a different kind of massage tonight, one that was more gentle, one that coaxed me to let it all go.  What I should have requested was to be loved.  Because at the heart of it, that is the piece that I think I have been missing in my life.  Not the hearts and flowers love, but the kind that comes from true connection, from allowing vulnerability, from letting down the guard.  Maybe the flow of love has been a little one-sided and I am feeling emptied.  Maybe that's just another story.  See how it all works.

I tell myself over and over how there's not enough time, that I am too busy.  And guess what?  I find that I AM too busy.  So how about I tell myself there's "world enough and time" this week and watch as my schedule opens up to reveal enough time for whatever I dream.

And now to class it up a bit - a poem.  No, not one of mine.  A classic.

To his Coy Mistress
by Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run.

Mean Girls Are Never Pretty

Mom's sojourn in Memory Care ended when she could no longer stand and became what they term a 2-assist.  She transitioned to Skilled C...