Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Divine Comedy

It sucks to wake up heartbroken, with your past lying in bed beside you, staring you intimately in the face, as if your own history were the only pages ever written that matter. It really sucks on a day like today, another such beautiful late Spring day in Minnesota, full of warm sunshine and gentle breezes, to start the day in tears you just can't keep off your cheeks, because your chest is caving in. It's all in your mind; you're not alone. You haven't fucked up every important moment in your life--just most of them--and you're not entirely a failure--you just feel like one, for various reasons. You haven't missed every opportunity...just some of the really significant ones, maybe. You're not single, you just don't have a partner, per se, right now--or for the past several years--and just because you have no future plans doesn't mean the future won't come to pass. It will probably come sooner than you think, because time's a bitch like that. In fact, guess what? It's here now, and you have a hundred things to do today and more tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that, and the one after that, too. And for the entire next week after that, actually. You're too busy to worry about how you feel or what you need or what you're missing, much less the past and other things you can't change (or can you?). So get up, get dressed, tell your painfully loyal PMS to go fuck her bloody self, and enjoy this goddamn gorgeous day for the blessing it truly is. There will never be another like it. And don't you forget it.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Respect the Disrespect

For today I just have to say, I'm sick of people who can't make the time. They are generally the same people who make a habit of lying by omission, and they deserve to get served.

Friday, April 28, 2017

We Are Stardust

There is a picture in my high school yearbook, of me sitting behind a desk, holding a fanned-out handful of fake money, with a caption that reads: “Most Likely To Succeed”. Contrary to what might be taken as popular opinion, I don’t believe my classmates bestowed me with that honor because their concept of success—mine or anyone else’s—was based on how much money one might amass, but rather because I was a person who demonstrated smarts, talent, intelligence, passion, creativity, kindness, commitment to my values and to living a life of integrity, with compassion for all.  True success, especially in the minds of young people, isn’t based on the prospect of making lots of money. It’s about having, and leading, a good life.

It’s worth mentioning that I wasn’t alone in the photo; my male counterpart was seated next to me, with his own handful of toy dollar bills… I suppose it’s necessary to apply gender equity when making such decisions, to make sure that us “girls” actually win something and/or to accentuate that men and women are held to different standards. For the record, it wasn’t my idea, or his, to hold money behind a desk; that was the photographer’s vision. We could have been sitting in a sportscar, I suppose, or maybe we could have been hanging out in deck chairs, wearing shades and soaking in some sun, or we could even have been giving each other high fives instead. But, as we’re led to believe—despite a lot of evidence and our own core beliefs and most important life experiences to the contrary—money is the most obvious, and most revered, indication of one’s success in life.

Many years before that photo was taken, I sang a song in a school play—my very first solo public performance to a large audience—called “Stars Don’t Carry Money”. The story, which I can scarcely remember, at my age now, was a lesson in Love. I was cast in the “starring” role, for which I wore a costume expertly crafted by my parents and me: a giant, two-sided star made of cardboard, not a clapboard ensemble but with enclosed sides. It looked something like a (DQ) Star Kiss, except slightly elongated and covered in fabric with bright, sparkling threads of silver woven through, and trimmed with shiny tinsel around all the edges, including around the oval which framed my young face.

I was twelve at the time, and had been going through a rather rough spell at school that year. I went to a very small elementary school through the sixth grade, and there were only 5 or 6 girls in our entire class of 20 or so, for most of our years together. From year to year, our relationships shifted a little, with of course one “prettier” girl holding out as most popular, and the rest of us shifting position around her in various ways. To a large extent, there was a clear pecking order: the pretty one and her best friend at level 1, and two or three others at level 2, whose importance in relationship to the level 1s fluctuated according to whatever laws govern such things, and then at the bottom were the poorest, shyest, homeliest girl(s). That year, for reasons not entirely clear to me, I was delegated to the bottom position, for the first time, in a manner that I seem to recall came as a shock to me, in spite of the fact that I had always been something of an outsider, what with going to higher grade levels for math and reading, and having such ugly red hair, and not watching the Dukes of Hazzard.

Thankfully, for the remainder of that year, my younger sister and her ragtag passel of friends took me in on the playground—little sisters rule!—but it was a difficult time for me, at a tender age. I recount this here, now, because one of the somewhat cruel aspects of my relationship with my former friends was that they mocked me for my role in the play, behind my back but within earshot, and about having to wear such an ugly costume... There was also that one time I was shamed for liking watermelon, but that’s another story. This story here is about a song, which went something like this:

Stars don’t carry money
The only gold they know
Is what’s inside
To make them bright
And {some-thing some-thing (rhymes with snow)}

I do wish I could remember the last line—my mother surely would—but I’m reluctant to attempt to paraphrase it here… And let their feelings show? Help our hearts to grow? Give the world its glow?

There are some questions the internet can’t answer.

Anyway, it was a sweet song, and I had a beautiful voice, which of course I didn’t really know at the time—I just knew I enjoyed singing. This was by no means a “Star Search” performance; I was just a girl, not a star, and I sang with the voice that I had, the voice which was given to me, into my care, when I was born into this mad, wonderful world.

Years after that—remarkably to me, now, fewer years than I have resided in my current home—I graduated from high school with a whole different set of friends, but much the same set of values, hopes, dreams, possibilities... In my (co-)valedictory address, I gave an inspired, heartfelt, meaningful, and at times poignant and humorous speech, which moved an entire gymnasium filled with my classmates, friends, their families, our teachers and other members of the community.  By then I was used to being on stage, never not nervous but always capable of performing. It was never an act, though; I always meant it. And all my peers, and others who knew me, knew that. That’s the reason I was voted “most likely” to do whatever it was I was going to do…and that’s why they believed me, for however brief a time, when I closed my speech by invoking the wisdom of Joseph Campbell and urging every single one of them to “Follow Your Bliss”, that it could be done.

It would be a lie to say that I don’t know what happened to that girl and young woman-to-be, but I do wish I knew where she’s gone.

So yeah… Mercury’s retrograding the crap out of me apparently, and I sure hope we get some fucking Venus back here soon!  Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Like Nobody's Business

I. Need. Time. Off. Work. Now. Full Stop.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Waking Up To Failure

That's all my life is right now.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Frankly speaking

Well, my friends, I'm in the thick of it.

[Note: I wrote all but the last of this yesterday, and decided not to post it because I was too tired, and I recognized that it reads like a page out of the journal of a slightly deranged woman-child. Which, of course, is what it is.]

There are many trains of thought I might choose to hop, this evening, but I'm not sure which direction I wish to go...

This morning I sent an email, a response to a response to a letter I'd sent, which touched upon some things I've been thinking, and feeling, about my current circumstances. I don't care to go into detail, but it felt true to me, and I'm not really sure how it was received. I do know that it was received; however, my copy somehow got lost in transit, and wasn't stored in my sent items. It was as if I'd written an old-fashioned letter, sealed and stamped it at a point in time, and sent it off in the hands of a postman I would never meet, to be delivered into Fate's mailbox. I can't re-read what I wrote, and it makes me wonder if I could have said something differently, or if I should have. In the past, without any difficulty, I probably would have remembered the entirety of it, word for word. Not so these days. I was committed to my words, in any case, but for some reason, not having the possibility of revisiting them seemed to bestow upon them some significance they might not otherwise have had, to me. They are gone, as if spoken, into the wind...

I've not been well, lately, for a number of reasons. I can't call what I'm in a "funk" because that makes it sound like a groovalicious pity-party, when it has been anything but. This has been creeping up on me for a while now, I suppose, but has come to a head recently. I'm depressed beyond my ability to explain it to someone who has not experienced such a thing. I have learned how to remain relatively objective about it, to the extent that I can, which allows me at least to observe what is happening, and why. Many of the reasons are without question or doubt, and others are hidden in plain sight, while others are a complete mystery. Such is life. 

Last week happened to be the time I had set aside for a beachy vacation with a good friend, but that got postponed until another season. No matter; I could reclaim that time for a trip to the mountains to visit my "s.o." then--but no, I pre-empted that potential Spring break by jumping  into a long weekend in February that ended up getting flushed down the toilet by a stomach bug, which kick-started my recent decline...I really needed a break, badly. I still do.

Work was forgiving today; few emails, no fire drills, little of import, or not. Happy Hour with two dear former colleagues was cancelled due to someone else's fuck-up for a change, which was a minor disappointment but more of a relief, after another night of little rest. I listened to some Buddhist teachers during the afternoon, giving teachings about fear, guilt, shame or, really, not those things, but instead forgiveness and love. I've been burdened with a strong resurgence of regret lately, and it's been a real drag. I can forgive myself, up to a point, but then there's that place where you hit a wall. And behind that wall is your heart. I don't mean to sound trite, but there is no way around it. There's even some scientific evidence that, over time, blocking joy from your life will prevent you from being capable of experiencing it. I am now experiencing that. It is not an experiment. It's my life.

I listen to a lot of podcasts, and I read a lot of stuff on the internet. A lot of it, especially when you boil it down, is about how to solve problems originating in the body, or mind, both of which we have some--or a very large--degree of control over, depending on what angle you're coming from. I dig for scientific studies, experiential evidence, personal anecdotes, sage advice, unfounded assertions, radical ideas, revolutionary possibilities, passionate hope. And I've actually found a lot of those things, and learned an enormous amount about how human bodies work, according to what science has pieced together so far, but there's something kind of really fucking important that gets missed in that picture. It's the heart of the matter, the spirit, the soul. Everyone you know has a certain energy that is more than just the output of their mitochondria...or do they? Don't they?

Bodies are extremely complex, but the heart, the soul, the spirit, much less the psyche... where to begin? Or maybe a better question would be, where to end? (No, not this post; sorry. Not done quite yet...) Where to end the patterns of behavior that trap our minds, and our bodies, in cages of our own making?

When I was going through a pretty rough spell a while back, maybe a few months or years after moving into my house, I started paying attention to the first words that came out of my mouth every morning. (Apologies if I've told you this before; my memory is somewhat impaired these days.) It started because there were a few occasions where I was actually shocked at how horrible some of the things I said were. It wasn't always bad; some days were hilarious, in my book. But by being conscious of it, I started to retrain myself not to think the things that I didn't say, and to replace those words with something sarcastic, at worst, or something beautiful, at best. It worked. It still does, if I remember it. When I wake up every morning, there are some things I can't change...but I can change my mind.

Years ago, when I was in a different life, my ex's mom gave me a book for Christmas, that I sort of fell in love with for a while... It was about a woman who had her own farm, and did all sorts of crafty things on it, mostly frou-frou Martha Stewart type crap but some cool, beautiful, charming, and smart things, too. It was a fitting gift; I thought I might create something similar out of my life, one day. Of course, I have not done anything of the sort, but I remembered that book the other day, when I was out for a walk and crying for no reason at all, in the twilight. I miss the life I wanted to build. I miss wanting to build a life. I miss who I was and will never be, again. I miss who I might have been. And I have, at this particular point in time, very little interest in who I yet will be. This is where I am, at the moment. It's all temporary, of course--and maybe I will be awesome, full of life and joy again at some point--but the past can feel very permanent, at times.

Which brings me back to Buddhism. I can see how there is a way to change things, by practice. I have done so, quite profoundly, both for better, and--more frequently--for worse. There is a point in the process of forgiveness where the walls around the heart dissolve. 

I hope. I think.

Anyway, all of that was just to frame--rather un-handily--just one last ramble, here, tonight. So today was OK.. Small windows opened and some light came in, thanks in part to a talking visit from a friend yesterday evening, which reminded me that I can change my mind, as I have done before. And so I did, and I chose to listen, today, the best I could, and be a little more open. At the end of the day, after everyone else had left for home, I sat at my desk, alone, trying to stave off the fear and sadness about going home, again... My stress response is on a hair trigger these days, and the tears come before I know it. I took a moment to reconsider not just the evening before me but all this time I have, right now, alone. Try to think of it as an opportunity, not a life sentence... I recovered what senses I have left, and headed downstairs. I noticed my head was hanging low, facing the ground--very unlike me, normally--as I walked down the hall and got on the elevator. At the bottom, I nearly crossed paths with a fat old gentleman who was headed for the same exit I was, so I picked up my pace and cut ahead of him through the turnstyle, and with my head a little higher I decided, halfway through the lobby, to take a different door, and walk outside. I passed a woman who was sitting on a bench, wearing open-toed high heels and no stockings, and a fake-fur-collared coat. I am sure her legs are cold, and is she a call-girl? I was thinking as I walked by, noting that the stumpy-legged young woman down the sidewalk was wearing black tights and boots, a much more appropriate choice for this city, at this time of year. As I passed the restauarant next door, a familiar song came at me through the airwaves above the empty patio...and my heart felt a twinge, or maybe I winced. "Hallelujah", in triplicate...the Wailin' Jennys, one of my favorite trios for singing along with. I felt my heels hitting the sidewalk. I had all this energy, unutilized; all this love, ungiven; all this joy, unshared; all this life, unlived. All the people who say it's a choice you make, well, they're right. It's a choice, and all your choices, but within the context of a mind that is lost within a body that doesn't work, or vice versa, some of our choices are limited.

That dream I had, where I ran my own children out of their home and deep into the woods, fleeing me in fear and crying my name, I can't forget. They're gone, and they're never coming back.

Neither are my dead friends.

For some reason, on my way home--maybe I was musing on some of the teachings about loving yourself as a friend would, and forgiveness, and revealing your hidden faults, and facing the pain of shame--I recalled a sweet memory, from a few years back. I was visiting my "s.o." in the Garden Peninsula of Michigan, where he was working for a time. He was staying in a small log cabin owned by an older couple, situated just down the road from a big bay of the Lake, and a few miles outside of a very, very small town in which there happened to be an ice cream shop. I think they sold pizzas, too. We were on our way to or from somewhere in the area, perhaps coming back from a work-related mission, and decided to stop in for a scoop. I don't remember what flavors we each got, but I remember sitting in the truck, eating our ice cream cones, as if it was the first time I'd ever tasted ice cream. And then suddenly, that simple, innocent, wonderful moment of pleasure turned to fear, and some kind of anxiety, some kind of shame, some kind of worry came over me--as if to exist purely in joy, in ice-cream induced bliss, for even a few moments, just wasn't something that could be allowed. Silly wabbit, happiness is for kids! 

(Speaking of, have you ever heard the song "Run Rabbit Run"? mesmerisingly bizarre...)

Some time ago, when someone asked me about my childhood, I recall responding that I was never a "carefree" child. My mother has concurred with this. It's not that I was never happy or exuberant, but I really can't remember a time in my life where I didn't feel self-conscious to the point of self-destruction, on some minor, major, or augmented scale...

But then-again, my memory isn't what it used to be. One thing I do know is, is that I used to be able to make other people believe in things, like compassion and empathy and poetry and daring and love. And themselves.

So let's hope this is just some kind of low-carb flu b.s. that's going on right now. Whatever it is, I've got a bunch of better ideas brewing, and I'm headed up north again this weekend to work on them, and some other things. In the meantime, thanks for your continued, voyeuristic, and/or heartfelt support.

Yours truly.