Almost the end of the year. And by Xiane reckoning, it’s the beginning of my new year – my birthday. Every year marks the start of the New Girl birthing from the Old Girl of the year before – the one I am leaving behind. It’s my way of giving myself permission every year to start over the things I’ve screwed up, and keep the parts that I think I’m okay with.
I’m currently looking over my mistakes with a mind to do better. I’m thinking about what I want to learn or investigate as something to add to my life. I’m realizing how lonely I am and trying to find ways to change that. And I’m working towards becoming a better me, because I’m not happy with a lot of 2014 me.
My birthday gift for Xiane is giving myself permission to take care of myself and get myself what I need.
One of the things that I need is to focus more on my writing. I am pretty sure I know where my “inner writer” is [hello] but a little workshop with prompts, and a directed focus on writing for a week, is not a terrible thing to get involved with. So I’m trying this Winter Writing Workshop that’s being hosted by Do What You Love, and I’ll try and post what I write here, if I feel like sharing. You can join if you want, too – the link is here: http://dowhatyouloveforlife.com/www/
At some point I want to talk about a bunch of things: how taking selfies is a form of therapy for me… what it’s like to be a self-driven creative type who lives without much of a safety net and how that’s both terrifying and incredibly freeing… trying to navigate the confusing waters of being a 48 year old woman who isn’t good at following rules about what I’m supposed to wear, like, and be… and other topics that have been kicking around in my head.
There are some things that at some point I’ll have to address here, like how it feels to be left behind by people you loved, and how vulnerability sometimes will make you want to turn into a raging asshole who never lets anyone close to you again… but let’s be realistic – you know me. That’s never going to happen, I’ll never shut people out. I’d shrivel up and die. I need people. I need that closeness, that sort of love – which is why, precisely, that I’m so lonely lately. I don’t have many in that inner circle right now, and the ones that are in are very far away. That needs to change. I need my cabal. I need those who can treasure me as I treasure them. That’s what powers my soul.
“You may feel that you are losing your patience. Things are still not working out. But we do not have to be confined in long cycles of time and in space as big as galaxies. A certain gestation period is required before the complete satisfaction of all your wildest desires.”
I’m more patient than most people that I know. I’ve waited so long, for so many things – people, changes, justice/karma, opportunity… here’s the thing. I can wait for a very long time if I have something to hold on to. A crumb of hope, a bit of attention, the acknowledgement that more is coming down the pike soon – give me something to keep in my heart, to keep the dream afloat.
I am steadfast, I am a rock – as long as I have a reason to believe. Give me a reason.
There was no obvious reason for you to be here – yet somehow dream logic prevailed, and there you were, wandering amongst old gnarled trees and broken-down buildings. The birch trees reached up to touch the edge of the smokestack, the single remaining remnant of the building left untouched by the ravages of time.
We looked up, awed by their tenacity – would we be able to reach so high? You doubted, as you often do. I, of course, waxed optimistic, reaching for the tops of the trees in vain. Laughing, I turned to you, eager to share my joy. You took my hands as if to directly connect with what I am. You could have kissed me then, I would have met you halfway. We merely traded knowing smiles – nearly as intimate as your hands upon me.
This week… man, this week. I have been composing this post in my head since Monday evening. That’s when everything I’ve been trying to push to the back of my life and ignore came out and smacked me in the face… because that’s when the news hit everywhere that Robin Williams had taken his life. They actually broke into the CBS Evening News to announce it – and the shock, the sadness, the disbelief was almost universal. It brought into harsh light the questions and fears that have been echoing across discussions since the announcement – what happened that made him decide it was finally too hard? How is it that a man with all the resources possible to get help still was lost? What does this to a person, especially one like him, who brought so much joy and light to the world?
See, if you’re someone like me, someone who has been near the edge of that moment, who lives with the darkness regularly… the only question you have is “if he had that those resources and couldn’t stay alive, what are my chances?” But the folks who don’t understand how Depression works… I feel for y’all. I really do. It’s a bitch to be in the midst of it, but it must be so much worse to see your loved one stuck in this and you can’t see what’s hurting, can’t understand why it’s happening and how it feels, and can’t do a fucking thing about it. That’s why there’s so much hurt happening all over the internet about this loss, I think. It’s weirdly personal – Williams was a celebrity but he made us feel like we knew him, he was really good at breaking through barriers with his antics to find the sort of laughter that made your day better – and there he was, carrying that darkness and pain with him all the time.
I’m not going to pretend that I have something more profound to say about him or what’s happened than anyone else has offered. I can only do what I do best – talk some about my personal journey and why this news shook me up. Because I’d had a blog post brewing before this happened anyway, and then BAM it was much more intense and scary and immediate than anything I’d been dealing with. Because this month marks 10 years that I’ve been sober, one of the best decisions that I ever made in regards to my mental health, even though the social pressure to give it up was harder to navigate than any desire to fall off the wagon. Because the darkness has been overwhelming this Summer, and I know that I’m not the only one feeling it. Because my illness doesn’t make me want to drink or use drugs, but it does prompt me to do stupid shit in a combination mindfuck of trying to make me feel better and momentarily forget the pain, and also give me things to be guilty about so that the pain can come back and drown me again. Yay. Oh yay.
A fantastic failure, one to remember, when tomorrow comes And I don’t care no more, I just wanna touch that magic escape over again
Drinking wasn’t actually an escape for me. Well… yes and no. It cut the pain for a bit. The curse of using depressants to treat Depression is that hello, it’s the same thing eventually. But first? First it works like a bit of a stimulant, and that first high, the feeling of being free and fake-happy and losing inhibitions and all that is ridiculously attractive to someone who fights to keep her head up every day. Then the sucker punch comes… though can you really call it a sucker punch when it happens all too often? I should have learned to expect it. But the part where everything is great is SUCH a relief that I would want to go back to that to the tune of overruling the knowledge that I would regret it when the high wore off and the depressant part kicked in.
This wasn’t my only method of trying to find that golden moment without pain. But it was the most consistent one. There’s a lot of other reckless therapies that people pursue – drugs, sex, risk, overspending, etc. I don’t like talking about my forays into this sort of behavior. It’s embarrassing. But it’s happened, and usually when I feel less risk-adverse, I know that I’m in a bad spot and can stave it off before anything dumb happens.
It’s another one of the reasons why I’m so open about what I go through. It makes it easier to say “I am afraid and I need help” and also for you to say “I recognize this behavior, maybe I’m not alone and it’s okay to ask for help.”
If I hadn’t stopped drinking, I probably would have ended up dead. It made the lows too hard to bear, even as it gave me some highs to comfort me.
I’m too stubborn to give up. That’s what keeps me going. Maybe that won’t always be the case, but it’s worked for 47 years so far, so there’s that. Robin Williams managed 63 years of fighting it. It wears you down, is the problem. It’s fucking insidious, whispering that you’re a big lie, that no one likes you as much as they say that they do, that when the person you really want to hear from doesn’t call it’s because you’re a loser, that when you do succeed at something it’s only because you’re lucky/they feel sorry for you/it’s a fluke. That eats at you, chips at the resolve. All the positive mantras and meditations and self-love exercises and all that bullshit only can do so much. Man, do I wish that it would banish those voices all the way. Meds didn’t, meditation didn’t. Heh. I just have to keep insisting NO I AM NOT A SHITHEEL I AM A DECENT PERSON STRUGGLING TO BE BETTER.
The personal failures are out of sight when all is forgotten will you help me rewind? We’re standing on top of the world tonight We’re on top of the world tonight
Every day is a repeat of this. Some days are okay. Some days are completely fucking shitty thank you very much and I don’t even want to get out of bed. But I keep reminding myself that even when everything’s shit, that there WILL be better days afterwards. There always has been so far. Sometimes it takes a while to find one. But they’re out there.
If you can’t find that ability to remind yourself, please please please take what resolve you have and call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, at any time, 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or set it up with a trusted friend or family member ahead of time where you can just say a code word and they’ll know you need them more than you ever have before and will have instructions on what to do. You can even email me. I might not be right there but I will listen and I will do whatever I can to get you through. I know how hard it can be to even reach a little, but you are not alone. I swear.
As for me, my fog is lifting a little, but it’s going to take a while. This Summer has screwed up a lot of things for me, with the Depressive episode sapping my momentum and damaging a few relationships. That’s how that goes. I am too familiar with the drill. But I’ll get through. I always do. I’m too stubborn to give up.
Why are you silent
in this circle of words
the center of your knowledge
embrace the secret stillness
you are going home
and I will follow
I am not afraid
Into the woods
the dark mickle woods
the center of your knowledge
leaves like dampened silk
unfetter your stillness
soothe me with celestial eyes
and old gnarled stumps
dressed in mossy velvet
I am not afraid.
Words like tender benedictions
rain down on open palms
the center of your knowledge
is my name inside the Green
lay claim to the key
embrace the secret stillness
with an open eye
I am not afraid
something solid, something real
something I can truly feel
something treasured, something fine
a little piece of something
that I can call mine
it doesn’t have to last forever
though it doesn’t have to fade away
something that’s tethered to this moment
yet a thing that I hope will always stay
a little something to call my own
Something I’m working on. It needs some tightening up, but I don’t mind sharing it in progress. It’s interesting to see the progression of a work [even a tiny little work like this one] as it goes from scrawled in a journal to finished poem/song/prose. This one is feeling like a song, but sometimes they change their minds as time goes on!
I think accepting impermanence is one of the harder things I had to learn in life. When I turned 35, I had a bunch of really tough things start to pile up that kept on for a couple of years – changes, realizations about people and things that I loved… I got really turned around in the head about loss and death in ways that really gorked up my head for a while. I couldn’t sleep, I was very anxious – so afraid of the What Might Be. [If you read this blog regularly, you know this is a thing for me. I work hard at my easy-going, laidback persona!] What finally helped me get a grip on letting things go was that fateful year when my stepdad died suddenly – with everything that went along with it – and leaving the safe but limiting haven of Charlottesville for unknown adventures. Pushed out of my safety zone, I found that I had to decide what was worth keeping a death grip on, and what could gracefully be released.
Besides learning that things – stuff – is just that, and not all of it needs to be dragged throughout my life [which could encompass an entirely different blog post], I found that not fretting over losing every person in my life made me much happier. I think it made them happier, too. And ironically, though I think that not every friendship or relationship is meant to last a lifetime, I’ve lost very few people from my circle over the span of my adult life. And sometimes, I lose them for a while, then they re-emerge unexpectedly! I make friendships pretty solidly. When I like you, when I love you – you’re in. We’re spinning threads together that will always keep us connected.
I have a few people whom I’ve been friends with since high school. I’m still friends with most of my exes. Hell, I’m still friends with most of my exes’ FAMILIES. I don’t lose people easily. I don’t have to cling tightly in order for that to happen.
It’s good to have things change, and to be able to flow with those changes. But it is also good to realize that our connections always stay with us, unless we act to cut them loose.
I’m sitting in the dark of my bedroom, listening to the rain and this Siddal track as it spills out what’s in my heart at the moment… Like it always does… and I’m thinking about how perception is so subjective.
What seems reasonable can change wildly, dependent on circumstances. A night can be the longest space of time known to man if there’s something desperately wanted that dangles on the end of that length of time, just a fingertip’s length out of reach. But when the long-waited for event is happening, it may zoom past the one in the midst of it as if time had magically accelerated.
And that variance on what seems reasonable can extend to communication, and expectations, and obligations… it’s all so malleable, depending on whom is observing. It’s the place from where most of our interpersonal conflicts stem. It’s the hardest trick of perception to catch. We are inclined to bias either on our own behalf or totally the other direction. And if you’re like me, someone who has a relatively calm exterior but a very anxious undercurrent, this is one of your worst pitfalls – you immediately think the worst. You – I – immediately go to the negative spin, out of worry. “I said I like fish, and she said she likes fish, but she ordered a burger. I either misunderstood or I’ve done something wrong.” No, dummy – maybe she just wanted something other than fish, even if that’s her favorite food. Overreaction? Oh yeah. I know it after the fact. Just not in that moment. That’s not an easy barrier of perception to break in the moment, though I’m getting better at talking myself down.
That’s the trick. I need to talk myself down when I go there. Point out to myself the most reasonable answers to why something is going a certain way – which, most of the time, is that it is actually not even happening the way I think it is while I’m panicking. I am letting anxiety talk.
I used to ruin good things that way, by letting anxiety take over. I think I’m getting better at pushing through that now. I just try to remember that I am an extremely patient person when I need to be, and that I can draw on that to WAIT before acting. That includes keeping my mouth shut sometimes, to let things unfold on their own. It’s a tough call to make – when to let it ride, when to speak up. Patience is the key.
would you take my hand once more journey through that distant door if I gave you kisses three would you close your eyes? entwined are we, entangled souls our Garden watered by our tears nocturnal dances, flowers strewn for what we could not leave to die
No good ever comes out of posting late at night.
Or maybe I’ve got that backwards, says the girl listening to the rain, alone in the dark.
I saw this graphic with these words earlier today, and they rang so true that I had to write about them… but I hated the graphic they were on, so I made one that I thought was prettier. Because you know, that’s what artist types do, make things prettier.
I managed to break my own heart a little bit, just recently. It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the beauty of possibility, of experiences and recognition of like souls and watching art enfold all around me. So I recently started going on more adventures, finding more things to feed my soul and spark my creativity. And in doing that, I threw my heart-gates a little TOO open. You guys, I let ALL the magic and beauty in, and I might have overloaded the system a bit.
… and yet, I crave more. I’m a dirty little experience addict. Give me something gorgeous or inspiring, I need a soul fix.
I crave those who are open, ready to share that openness. I get so excited when I meet one of my soul-kin, Those Who Feel Too Much, those who want all that life has to offer, even if sometimes it hurts with the intensity. You are my people. Let’s go experience EVERYTHING.
A lot of artwork shown from Timothy Renner of Dark Holler Arts. http://darkhollerarts.com/
I’ve done a lot of writing in my time, enough that when I look over my body of work, I can see the clear progression from youthful exuberance and poor word choices and imagery to a more nuanced way of putting my words together… from the anguish and confusion born from the pain of growing up to the more introspective and thoughtful [hopefully] observations that have come with age and experience.
The little booklets that I’ve got in my lap right now, the ones pictured above? They encompass the entirety of my growth as a writer and an organizer too, from 1992 until 1999. I went from ‘zines to regular blogging, and a lot of what I wrote from that time on is traceable via my Livejournal and then this blog. Of course there’s always been paper journals, too – those are even more personal and rarely is anything written there shared unless it is poetry that I decide is ready to go on to be viewed by the outside world. Writing for and publishing ‘zines brought me my first friends in Charlottesville VA, where I moved to in 1990 – without knowing pretty much anyone. [this is a pattern for me. Luckily I'm outgoing, despite the best efforts of some people in my life who would have rather kept me isolated.]
Working with ‘zines helped me build a relationship with someone whom I treasured as my muse and inspiration for almost everything creative that I did back then; a relationship that was more than friends but less than lovers, fraught with complication and confusion and adoration and so much energy. It was the first time I experienced that sort of communion, with someone who innately shared a common language of words and sounds and symbols. It kept me afloat for the longest time, a tether to all that I could be and all that I longed for.
And then something really horrible happened and ruined everything for me… I got a stalker, a very scary and threatening one. And he knew where to hurt me the most – he threatened the person that I adored. I don’t like going into too many details about this nasty excuse for a person who kept me in fear for too long, but it’s important to express that I was played well and hurt deeply, and I cut off everyone I knew in the world of ‘zines at that time because I was afraid for my life and for them, as well. I had to involve the freakin’ FBI to get things finally resolved, and I still spent months worried that a dangerously unhinged man was going to show up at my job and do something – and as I already lived with someone abusive who decided that “this was all my fault” for putting my words and name out there, I would get no help or support from that quarter… I was all alone.
Blonde, so very goth-eek. This was at Loudon Park Cemetery in Baltimore, I believe.
Somehow, this whole experience only kept me hiding for a while. I just can’t stop reaching out, you see. I need people. I need to share myself with them. It’s one of my best and worst qualities, I think. I spent all of my 20s and a chunk of my 30s being held in fear in some way or another, which is why I am SO outgoing and relatively fearless now. At some point I just decided “fuck it, I’ve already done the thing where I’m scared all the time. Let’s go the other direction and live.” That’s when I wrote the words that would eventually become the song “Redemption” that I sang with The Violet Dawning.
a feeling of redemption
slowly takes me over
could it be at last
I have a chance to live?
I would emerge from inky shadow
re-dress in jewel toned cloth
tame my madwoman’s locks
and wipe the sleep from my eyes
a feeling of redemption
slowly takes me over
could it be, at long last
I can look up at the sky?
Even breaking free brought the need to share. Maybe it’s ego. Can my experiences really be that important, enough to think that I should be writing them down and sharing them, making poems and songs from them? AngryRob would have said no, that I was full of myself and not as awesome as I think I am. [for the record, yeah... no.]
I’m just an over-sharer. I look for the moments where I see it in someone else’s eyes, that moment of recognition and maybe even relief – I am not alone in this. Someone else has felt this way, has experienced this moment. I am not alone.
Isn’t that what we all want? To know that even though we travel through life in our little meaty bodies with all the baggage that entails, and we’re trapped inside these brains that feel bigger than they are, in some way we’re still all travelling together?
I posted this on the thread for the link to yesterday’s post over on my Facebook wall, but I wanted to share it here, for everyone who has commented or has been reading along, or who has a friend with Depression, or has struggled about what to say about their Depression.
It takes a lot of guts to talk about this stuff, and to open myself up in this way. I really appreciate the supportive comments.
I know I’m better off than a lot of people. That doesn’t fix clinical depression; it doesn’t work that way. I wish it did, I really really do. I’m acutely aware of how good I have it in so many ways, and I have tons of guilt for feeling like this despite that, which just feeds back into the loop. I wish it was as easy as just weighing my life against what it could be. I’ve struggled with this on and off my whole life, and there’s no easy fix. I’ve done tons of home remedies, some SSRIs, therapy, meditation, diet changes, exercise, you name it – I’ve tried it. What I need most is time and patience, neither of which are the “quick-fix” that we’d all love to see.
I know that a lot of people have never experienced clinical depression [and I am SO GLAD!] so this is pretty foreign to them. And it’s in our nature to try and fix things for those we care about. I appreciate that so very much. But please trust that I’m a life-long sufferer of these imbalances. have taken all the steps possible to try and work with my issues, and I’m only sharing this to help people understand why I might be distant or less “up” – not to garner sympathy or talk about how horrible my life is or to look for people to build me up. That’s my job.
I HATE feeling this way. I hate how it effects my business, my relationships. my health, my life. Confessing all this is SO HARD.
People think I have my shit so together. I do in a lot of ways, but it’s important for me to admit that this is a part of my life, and it’s okay. It’s part of my chemistry, I’ll probably always have to watch for these times. I’ve made it this far, I don’t plan to go anywhere, but I do like my friends to know what I’m going through. It helps us all. And I love you guys and want you to know that if I’m quiet for a bit or seem off, it’s me – not you.
Sometimes it is INCREDIBLY hard to respond to the things that people say to me when they’re being supportive. They don’t know what to say, so they look for the best thing possible to tell me, in their eyes. I’ve just put them in a rotten place – what’s the right way to support me? What’s the most helpful, kind, loving thing they can respond with? Unfortunately, that sometimes means advice, or things that are meant to be inspirational… which don’t really encompass what goes on for someone with clinical Depression. I know that it’s a product of “I have NO idea what to say or do” so I don’t take offense, though I must confess that sometimes it really is hard to not get frustrated. I’m being honest, because I want to be helpful with what I share! There’s some really good lists of totally unhelpful things that people have said to those with Depression out there – but my point isn’t to say “don’t do this” but rather to assure you that I DO hear what you’re saying under the advice and the struggling to say the “right” thing – please trust that what I need most of all is your love. Don’t feel that you have to fix this. You can’t. I wish you could. I really really do. But that’s not how this story goes. It goes so much better knowing that you are all on my side, though. That’s the best medicine that I’ve found.
I was marching to the wrong drum
With the wrong scum
Pissing out the wrong energy
Using all the wrong lines
And the wrong signs
With the wrong intensity
I was on the wrong page of the wrong book
With the wrong rendition of the wrong look
With the wrong moon, every wrong night
With the wrong tune playing till it sounded right
I don’t expect it to rear up in the Summertime.
I don’t expect the dead feeling. Or the pain. Or the confusion at feeling these ways.
You know what sucks? Running a business that you depend on to pay your bills when you feel like this. Also, it sucks to know that I’m being a terrible friend and peer while it’s going on, because it’s so hard to follow through with anything. I have no motivation, no oomph, no drive, no desire for much of anything but trying to feel better.
I counted it as a great victory that I managed to get up and walk around the block tonight. I did have a strong drive to go do that, and I walked at a fast pace up the hill and through the dusky evening, looking at all the houses that I usually see from the car as I pass by. That felt good. But it was met by a rousing chorus of ennui when I came back in.
Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down.
That’s the ride I’m on right now. Sometimes, everything’s fine. Sometimes, everything’s GREAT. But the crash is inevitable, usually made worse the higher the high is. And if someone offers advice about the crash, that makes it worse. Or if people make a big fuss about it. Or if I think about it too much at all. But I can’t ignore it, that’ll make it worse, too.
Really, you can’t win when you’re in the grip of this.
Up. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down.
I have some A M A Z I N G things happening in my life right now. That has NOTHING to do with why I feel this way. Nothing is really wrong. I mean, money’s tight, like it always is at this time of year in the Fiber Arts world. There’s some stressful stuff, in that way that I have to be clever and patient until I figure it out or get through it. But nothing catastrophic, nothing terrible. I’m okay. Just not inside my head, and not inside my soul. Those parts are all fucked up right now. And I just have to ride it out. I have to get through this too, and it’s all about patience and not a bit will cleverness help.
Trust me, I am so, so tired of having to be patient.
So no, nothing tragic happening here. No horrible thing, nothing so drastic that people should worry. Just me struggling with my brain chemistry and feeling guilty because it makes me so much less the person I like to be. I feel like I let all of YOU down when I’m like this, which of course makes me feel so much worse. I hate to let anyone down. I hate to not feel dependable. And admitting all this is really hard, but of course this is something I’m known for now, my blistering self-revealing honesty. There you go, you get it all, in the name of letting other people who feel this way that they’re not alone. Go me, I guess I do something right. I hope.
Yep. That’s my thought process right now in a nutshell. The girl who doesn’t care what others think, the girl who is fearless, the girl who dares… she’s on vacation right now.
If you’re sensitive to things like crashing cars and accidents and stuff, don’t watch this video.
To know who I am now, I often look to the past to show me where I’ve been, and how I got from there to here. It’s not to dwell [well, not necessarily - though I admit that sometimes I get "stuck" in memories, because they're pleasant or interesting] but rather to take perspective.
It’s a good think to take stock like this, at least for me, I think. I used to blog all the time, digging around in my head and sharing it online… maybe that’s self-obsessed, I don’t know. I find it better for me to be honest if I’m throwing it out into the Internets – people to hold me accountable or something. Not like you’d know if I was lying, so I guess that’s all in my head, too.
Heh. So basically this blogging gig is a giant mindfuck for me, on me.
planet, schmanet, Janet!
It’s getting late, I have a lot going on in my head… and though 4am doesn’t quite hold all my secrets anymore, I still have this need to share. The girl I am now is built on the ones who came before and still live in this body. And if you know me, you know that this results in a weird and interesting mixed up jumble of old and new music, bad jokes and puns, geekery, poetry and short stories, crazy tales about what I’ve experienced, a big dose of kindness, and a layer of wool and sparkle. I still get sad, and I still deal with that, but overall I’m happier every day. And I’m itching to get out there and experience even more life; as much as I love my job, I do think that I need to replenish my stores of amazing experiences, so that I can put that back into my creativity. One gets stale without new beauty and sense to take in.
We’re separate bodies.
We’ll never understand what the other one needs.
It’s just like breathing.
It’s just like breathing water.
Sit there with your clothes off while I look at you.
We’ll never change.
The world’s getting smaller with every second we breathe.
When it’s inside you, you’ve changed
I found some old photos of me last week. Wanna see a couple? I’ve changed a lot in those ways, too.
This one Kristy took when we went to Drop Dead in NYC, 2003.
Even more goth-eek. The UVa graveyard. I think I have a leaf in my hair. :D
So very purple.
I’m not that girl anymore. I’m this one. But those women are in here, too.
When it’s inside you, you’ve changed.
The last time I posted here, it was the Dark Place that was on top. Winter is like that – it gets into everything, greys it out, pushes it down with its heaviness.
It seemed to take forever for Spring to get here, but just when it seemed like it would never arrive, there was the peek of green through the brown and grey and black… and hope once again rose forth. A collective cheer of relief rose up.
Just like seedlings, people need nurturing too – even as grown people or plants, we have to take care to get what we need to thrive. Winter is a bit tough for me in general, and now that I’m in an industry that has the most busy season when it’s cold, the demands to be “with it” and energetic don’t really mesh well with my natural inclination to mope and hide during the grey days. Luckily, spinning is a skill that works well with downtime, and spinning bright colors helps perk up my mood.
Lately, I’ve been feeling the tug to run away to the woods. I used to spend a lot of time taking walks or hiking along the Rivanna in Charlottesville… and here in Baltimore, there are so many gorgeous rivers, streams, and wooded parks tucked in all over the place – it’s just a matter of finding the time to get there. The lyrical-poetical-dreamer part of me needs the contact with the magical smells and sights.
Once, I broke off the path and went to look at some goldenseal that was growing wild… and I found a small patch of indian pipe growing, like icy little faery flowers from the forest floor. I’ve been longing to find a tiny secret tucked between tree trunks, to find a little natural beauty that’s waiting for the right eyes to see it.
I’ve been patient, waiting for the change. Now it is happening, and I want to be right in the middle of it.
Both in season – it is Winter Solstice, the longest night, the shortest day – and in mental state. The lack of light gets to me. I try really hard to keep my head up, but the relentless lack of sun makes me tired, makes me sad, makes me numb and full of every emotion all at once.
Last night I watched It’s A Wonderful Life. That was a blessing and a curse for someone like me, at this time of year. Like George Bailey, I have tried really hard to support the community around me. Sometimes it is utterly uplifting… occasionally, it is totally heartbreaking, especially when you know that you’re just spooning away at the ocean. But trying is more important to me than standing on the sidelines and not doing anything at all. And the payoff for it all is that I find that I have the best assortment of friends that a girl could ask for, in any lifetime.
That’s what made me cry like a dang baby last night while watching the movie… maybe it’s my hormones, maybe it’s that now that I’m older I truly understand the messages in the movie. Who knows. All I know is that when everyone brings in their savings to help George, I know that moment. I have been the recipient in that moment, and I have helped to facilitate that moment for others. It is the time and space where it hits home the most what it is to have Community, to have people who truly have your back and will help you when you are falling.
My most sincere wish is to be able to give those moments to others who need them most. I get so frustrated by humans, our way of putting blinders on to shield out the parts of the world we are afraid of or don’t agree with or are unable to connect with – but I can’t live without us and our moments of shining compassion, heartfelt humor, and tender connection either. I would rather foster the good moments as much as possible.
We only get one trip on this planet. I want mine to have meant something, somehow, to someone. I want to know that if I had not been here, things would have been worse, not better. And I want to leave here with my heart and head filled with all the amazing moments that reaching out has brought me.
Welcome back, Sun. Please bring me more compassion, more hope, more energy, more love. Please bring those things to us all.
So… hi. It’s been a while.
And it seems that I’ve managed to convince myself [with some help!] that it would be totally appropriate to try NaNoWriMo again. While running a retail business. During the busiest month of the retail year. Because reasons.
I know. Ballsy, Xiane. That’s me!
What am I writing about? I don’t know yet. I usually write Urban Fantasy. That might still happen. The characters I’ve been playing around with for 10 years still have stories to be told. There’s also some stories based off of my crazy, turbulent 20s that might be fun to tell in a pseudo-fictional format. Though that might be asking for trouble…
I do know that no matter what, I should get back into writing here to get in the swing of it. I do blog regularly at Threeravens.net, but that’s all business/fiber arts, no fiction or current events or whatever. Facebook sorta took the motivation to post here regularly. I look back at my old Livejournal and I see how prolific I was being, even when I was just reporting on the mundane bullshit of the day that seemed important then. I should get back to that. Not LJ, but writing just to write. That’s how one keeps sharp, right?
Since I constantly write stories in my head, especially late night to help me fall asleep, maybe that will give me writing fodder for this. I dunno. I haven’t planned anything. I should probably get to that, eh?
Oh hey, looks like it’s time for another one of those vaguely feminist rants about human sexuality! (another FB note that led to a few people telling me I should really post to a blog or something, so here we are)
Lately I’ve witnessed or been part of a lot of conversations about sexuality. This in itself is not newsworthy, if history tells us nothing else, it’s that people love talking about that stuff all the time. However, I’ve become more aware of something that I had previously come across but not paid much attention to. The idea that only heterosexual intercourse is “real sex”. For your intimacy to count, there has to be a penis and a vagina, and they had better be touching each other or you’re not really doing it.
Seriously? By that standard, I know several gay or trans folks who have never had “legitimate” sex. According to Catholic church rules, there are a lot more virgins out there than one might imagine. Of course, this is not a surprising attitude among people who rant about sex being only for making babies (because there are only 7 fucking billion of us, and we can’t have people thinking it’s cool to get away with enjoying themselves or experiencing intimacy without paying for it in healthy white babies or we are doomed). It isn’t even surprising among people who are feeling insecure or uncertain about their sexuality and want to convince themselves that that time they hooked up with someone of the same gender doesn’t change their current sexual identity because it wasn’t real sex it was just, you know, fooling around. Or people who end up in bed with a friend and are afraid if everyone admits it was sex, it might change their relationship for the worse. There are a ton of ways to justify this mind set, and although I wouldn’t agree with them I can sort of see how it might be rationalized. It’s a joke even the liberal sorts of folks make without often assigning much meaning or seriousness. College experiments and drunken mistakes. It didn’t count, you know?
However, I think it cannot be expressed enough how harmful this kind of thinking can be to everyone. How many teenagers are out there having sex without being prepared for it emotionally because blow jobs don’t count? How many relationships are devalued or dismissed because of this narrow definition? To take it to a darker place, how many victims of sexual assault are told that what happened to them wasn’t really rape because it wasn’t “real sex”?
I was recently accused of reducing sex to a meaningless social exchange or a frivolous selfish act during a debate about abortion rights, ironically because I suggested that sex is essential to the human condition and something that consenting adults should be able to practice without fear or ridicule. This struck me as odd considering that the implication was that sex was nothing more than a necessary step one must endure when making a fetus. It isn’t like I don’t think casual non romantic sex is possible, or even that it’s bad or wrong in any way. It isn’t that I think sex needs to be treated as a grave and serious event (that would be pretty awful, wouldn’t it?). It’s that I think we need to expand our definitions of acceptable, valid, sexuality and not hide behind euphemisms to avoid calling it what it is. It’s important. It’s recreational. It’s intimate. It’s real. None of these things are mutually exclusive. Something to think about at least.
Yesterday I heard someone complain that they don’t like it that the kids these days are sometimes doing nice things just because they want to be cool. I mean, I’m paraphrasing here, but that’s pretty much what it boiled down to. I’m going to have to disagree. Aside from the fact that “I helped raise money for victims of natural disasters before it was cool” sounds like the punchline of a terrible meta ironic hipster joke, I can’t really see the downside to community organizing and caring about your neighbors becoming trendy (some of you are going to start thinking greenwashing and I totally went there too because I’m a hardened cynic who doesn’t know how to be happy but that’s another topic for another time).
I can see it now… a family displaced by flooding or earthquake damage or evicted after a draining legal battle with the bank that may or may not own their house and unable to wait for disaster relief or government aid due to massive credit card debt sits in a hotel room funded with the help of some high school kid who wanted to feel like they did something worth bragging about on summer vacation. The camera zooms in on the mother making a sandwich for her son and a reporter asks “So how are you coping after what happened?” “Well,” she replies, while screwing the lid back on a jar of peanut butter, “It’s really fantastic that our friends and family and our entire neighborhood came to our aid when we needed it the most. The only thing I worry about is those darn young people letting it change their priorities in life. It’s just terrible that people who might not normally want to help started down this path because of peer pressure, you know? Next thing you know they’ll be thinking about going vegan or mentoring children in after school programs.”
Today the president came to my home town, Charlottesville, VA to make a speech about how we shouldn’t give up hope. About how the other side wants us to loose faith in the system and stop trying to change the world. About how we could make a difference if we keep trying really hard and don’t let the pessimists crush our ambition. I couldn’t agree more. This is why, as I sat in the lovely theater downtown and watched hypocrisy in real time, I began to lose my mind. I left a room full of people applauding as Obama took credit for ending the war still being fought by mercenaries and soldiers who are now allowed to be gay but can still be imprisoned for questioning their role in an illegal war.
I remember how excited I was when I turned 18. I could vote! My opinions were now the opinions of an adult and could be backed up with action. As bitter and cynical as I already was at that point, I still thought just maybe my vote could accomplish SOMETHING. I was adorable really.
In the eight years since then I’ve lost hope, fallen on hard times, and recently regained a sense of optimism about the future and given up on voting in favor of going out into the world and trying to find other people who want to make things happen. At this point I can only see voting as validating a sham. As one of my friends brilliantly put it “I know the government has power over me, but voting feels like I’m agreeing to it. The state is giving you an option of being stabbed or shot. I’m saying I don’t give them permission to kill me.” This doesn’t mean I’m for tuning out or giving up, it just means I’m going to try other tactics.
When I expressed this in a short rant on Facebook, I was immediately called naive, accused of not participating, and told that not voting for Obama meant I was helping Romney get elected. This was at the same time easy to dismiss coming from people who admitted to not being involved on non election days, and angering because how are you going to criticize my lack of faith when your years of voting got us here? No, sorry. I refuse to be motivated by fear or peer pressure on this one.
Then… I had an idea.
I finally figured out how to make my vote count. I’m pretty excited about this election.