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Please exit the stadium in a calm orderly manner

5789872So yeah, politics in America today… I think it’s just a big-ass football game with the red team vs. the blue team, and the object of the game is to keep everyone in the stands, rooting for whichever team they were taught to root for, while the really big earth moving machines change the real landscape outside. These machines don’t give a rat’s ass if blue wins or if red does.

I’ve been watching this game for years, being a child of the Nixon age. I have a clear favorite team in this game, because I do think there are many shades of evil, and you know, I prefer being Chaotic Good usually, when I play stuff. But the things going on outside this stadium are the things I’m afraid to face, to learn about. Which means, of course, that I’m learning about them. Our country has committed, and is committing heinous acts here and around the world in the name of freedom, all while we vote over our rights to retain certain freedoms we assumed we’d always have.

To keep us “safe” our government has suspended a lot of the rights we used to have, or thought we had. Things like privacy, free speech, not being tortured or held without charges… Very big deals. Also, drones scare me, and nobody talking about them scares me more. Have we learned nothing from all the best SciFi out there? These things are killing people on “our behalf” – keeping us safe by attacking weddings and funerals in the mountains of Afghanistan… And then we think we have the right to be outraged when these people hate America. Wouldn’t you hate a country that used machines to fly in and kill innocent people? Here at home we call that terrorism.

I’ve always contended that most of the SciFi stuff I grew up reading and watching will happen, or has or is already happening, somewhere. The same goes for crazy conspiratorial stuff like Orwell’s 1984. But you know, ignorance really is bliss, right? And Soylent Green isn’t the worst way to end up…

But I’ve seen Conspiracy Theory and many like it, so really, this was all a joke. This looks like a really good game. Who’s winning? Go Team Blue!

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P.S. I’m not linking anything on purpose, but I encourage heavy use of Google.

Well that sucked…

My last post was all about my angst over whether or not to go away last weekend because I really needed to relax… Well, yeah, I went away.

To be fair, I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault but my own that I had a terrible time. I should have known. No, really, I should have.

What I learned: Don’t go anywhere just because you think you should. And always drive yourself… And even if you’re not out on the town with a $75 blow-up doll sticking out the sunroof, remember that you can still be tagged in the pictures. By the way, did you know that the iPad Facebook app won’t let you untag yourself?

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Sasha enjoyed a night on the town. Without me.

So this is Sasha...

The group told me we each owed $15 for this “gag” gift, and a cake I didn’t eat. And a dinner I didn’t eat either. So yeah, I paid… Because you know, Scott’s birthday.

They were all nice to me, but clearly, this isn’t my tribe.

Where the hell, by the way, is my tribe???

What is this word, relax?

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Between the 8-4 corporate day job, the kids’ schedules (and their personalities!), helping plan an epic Halloween party for middle-schoolers, keeping calendars for 3-4 different groups of people, writing for me, reading, beer-making, personal hygiene, getting to PT for the bad back, learning to play ukelele, scanning photos from the dark ages of film, and trying to have a social life involving face-to-face human interaction, I’m wondering why it seems I spend most of my non-work time sitting on the couch playing Words with Friends and catching up on Twitter while forgetting to finish my beer.

So the nagging question I constantly push on myself, because I need more nagging, is: what could I do with that time if I devoted it to the betterment of humanity? I tell myself I could do really cool stuff, making videos, writing songs, writing meaningful, publishable works… But I suspect the answer is really probably not a hell of a lot. This is because I’m on empty, because my brain of jelly might really explode if I push things much further, and then not only would there be no betterment, there would be a hell of a mess for someone else to clean up, and I’m not sure my life insurance covers cleaning exploded gelatinous brain matter off the walls. Post-mortem guilt I do not need…

2486013This is my favorite self-portrait, because it captures my overwhelmed feelings, and also, my hair looks pretty good.

I drew it to go with a little scribble on insomnia, but really, it looks a lot like me on most days.

 


So I took tomorrow off from work to go to the beach for the weekend with a group of friends to celebrate my friend Scott’s 40th birthday, only now I don’t want to go because I’m all stressed out about who’s going, and will they care about how fat I look in my bathing suit, and omg a hot tub? No, I don’t do that sort of thing, and what if they want to go out and dance, and I just want to sit and breathe, and maybe even read a bit, because I could really use some quiet salt-air reading… Plus the place isn’t even really on the beach, just near the beach, so will it be worth all that angst to take a shuttle when I really just want to listen to the waves and pretend I’m alone? This is why my face looks like that in the picture. This sort of crap is going on in my head all the time.


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This is what I want.

I still haven’t decided if I’m going yet, but Scott said on Facebook he plans to just pick me up tonight and drag me away. I did not respond. John is being his usual awesome self and saying either way, just don’t stress about it. But he can’t come because he has a gig, and if I stayed I could go out to his gig and that would be fun too, except then I’d feel like I had to do all these other things I should do for the whole weekend. I’m just full of shoulds and reasons. Funny how I’m stressing about how to de-stress. I wonder what I’ll end up doing? At least my own life gets to be like a mystery story, sometimes, which is kind of sweet.

let your eyes adjust

 

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let your eyes adjust…

Somewhere in my very early twenties, I stopped writing creatively. I stopped for over 15 years. I’d written some pretty decent things, won some recognition, but I just felt like everything I wrote was so dark. I vowed to stop until I could write the nice happy things that normal people do. It took me many years to realize that a) I’m not normal, b) that’s okay, and c) dark has millions of shades in it. Once your eyes adjust, there’s a lot to see.

So I’ve tried to embrace the dark, and it’s comfortable for me. But still, I would like everything I write to somehow involve hope and redemption. Redemption is hard to believe in, sometimes. Hope is easy though. Almost always easy. It’s the lightest shade of dark, and it’s also sometimes funny as hell. At least I think so. But then, I laughed at Pulp Fiction, so you decide for yourself.

Anyway, I’m trying to reconcile the fact that you can’t tell your truth, especially family truth, without hurting someone’s feelings. Or can you? Or is that how fiction started in the first place? Aha, the myths you say? Yes… Yesssss! This makes sense! I can show the insanity without incriminating the insane! Muahahahahahaha. Yeah, I know. Crazy rubs off on me though – you get used to it.

So NaNoWriMo is coming up fast. National Novel Writing Month. The deal is you write a rough, I mean it – rough, draft of a novel all in one month. November to be exact about it. Last year I had to quit because I’d been typing on my couch and my hands literally went numb in week 2, and I had a job writing stuff, and they paid me, so they won. I think I was already fairly far behind anyway. I learned that I needed a better plan. I’m not a story-all-planned out kind of writer, more of the archeologist approach, but some planning would have really helped me not get all bungled up in stupid stuff, which I very clearly did.

Ah but this year… This year I have an office to work in, now I need a plan. And a new book. Last year’s will take awhile to figure out, and I don’t want to try to force it just yet. So something new, and dark, that works with telling the truth. Something with hope and redemption, that doesn’t hurt feelings… Lots to think about. I don’t know if I’ll finish, but getting started is, well, you know. A good start.

Bravery, cowardice, and Amanda Palmer

People have told me I’m brave, and I have been, a lot of times. Maybe I’ll list all those brave things I’ve done and it will help me stop feeling like such a coward. But first, I have to look this bravery thing head-on, because it’s been keeping me up at night, and when my mind starts veering off on its own so completely like it has been, I’ve learned to just go with that. Good lord, I think I’m my own nagging wife.

Once upon a time, bad things happened. For a long time, I hid myself away from the world, afraid. I did this by staying in, and by eating myself invisible (isn’t it interesting that being big can make you so small in this world?). I’d been fed some of this fear by someone else, but I’m the one who swallowed it along with everything else. At some point, my life collapsed out from under my feet. I fell into the deepest rabbit hole, and I stopped even trying to see daylight. That’s a really long sad story, and not the one I have in mind. Because I eventually woke up, got strong in every way, changed everything, ruined things worth ruining, built things worth building, fucked up over and over again and kept on going. And oh, did I dance. I was really badass for awhile there!

Then a couple years ago I slowed down some; I don’t know why exactly. I got (happily) remarried, to a musician who is also a good cook! And I wasn’t working out anymore. And I put 20 lbs back on (not nearly what I lost, but…), and felt more and more unworthy and fat and old. Because the soft body that used to feel like security now just feels like a prison. And that’s where I’ve been for awhile now, and it’s pissing me off that I’ve stumbled again, and it’s pissing me off that I’m so against judging others, but I judge myself so harshly. I don’t deserve that bullshit, but there’s a voice somewhere in my head that whispers old lies to me in my sleep. The truth is I *am* badass. The simple fact of my survival, and the way love still flows through my veins, more than ever actually, that means something. I stand for things, and I have so much to say.

But I’m only just letting that sink in these last few months, and here’s why. Amanda Palmer. At least three entirely different strands of my social media world told me to check out Amanda Palmer. It went something like this: Felicia Day (I was a gamer and guild leader in another life) to Wil Wheaton to The Bloggess to Amanda Palmer *AND* about 20 fellow non-famous writers I’ve never met to Neil Gaiman (I’ve always been a fan, just keep forgetting to follow famous people for some reason) to Amanda Palmer *AND* various and sundry wonderful geeks (actually, this includes Neil Gaiman again because he recommended backing The Infernal Device, which I did) to Kickstarter to Amanda Palmer. And so I said fine, I guess I better click on this chick! I still don’t understand AFP (that’s what I’ll call her from here on, because it is really feeling weird to keep typing her name, and it’s reminding me of Mary Hartman Mary Hartman, and that was pretty nuts to watch as a ten year old). But I know that she is brave and open and someone to admire. I backed the very brief but amazing tour called An Evening With Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer and kept coming at her music and personality sideways. Then I heard her song “In My Mind” and I cried so damn big.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q9WZtxRWieM

I pre-ordered her new album with the Grand Theft Orchestra, called Theatre Is Evil (buy this thing!), and I bought two tickets to see her in Chapel Hill. I had no idea who I’d go with, because my husband had a gig that night, and I wasn’t sure I’d bring him anyway. I realized yet again that I am missing that strong girlfriend that I can trust, and who isn’t afraid to grow with me, who didn’t have someplace else to be or someone else to be with. I also realized that I was panicking underneath because at 46, I’m “too old” to go to this show, I’m not the right demographic, they’ll notice I don’t belong, and on and on. For a couple of weeks I was tempted to tweet AFP and ask if I was too old, but I figured that was kinda crazy, and even though I was feeling exactly that crazy, I didn’t want to out myself. So the show was Friday, and this is Monday now, and I didn’t go. I was genuinely sick, but I’d put the tickets up for sale, cheaper than I paid, on the bulletin board at work before I was entirely sick yet. I told myself if they sold, I’d make someone happy and if they didn’t, I’d just go to the show and push through the fear. Then I got sick, and it was ironic, but also another handy excuse to hide.

Friday morning I found out the show was sold-out, and I found someone who was “looking for a miracle” (and she mentioned the Dead, so yeah, that) and she just wanted to buy two tickets to take her son to the show to see this amazing woman. First I texted, then I wrote, then around 2pm I called her and told her the tickets were hers, free. I did it because I wanted to make someone else happy while I was sick and full of self-doubt. It was really a wonderful feeling! She told me about her kids, and the 15 yr old son she was bringing to the show. She was shocked, and I loved it. Remind me to give stuff away more often.

I ended up going out anyway, but close to home, with a few friends, and did a few new things like eating at a mostly gay restaurant/bar, and listening to original music at a place I’ve always wanted to check out. We can call this demi-bravery. But I didn’t see AFP, and I regret it, even though I knew if I’d have gone I’d have been too sick and tired to enjoy it, and maybe gotten other people sick, and also, anything else I needed to tell myself to justify not going when I probably should have. I did spend the next afternoon learning to sing “In My Mind” though (it took 4 run-throughs to do it without crying), and I’ll be working on learning ukelele this week. I will sing this song in front of other people at least once, because I want to.

And because I’ve had to face my own cowardice, I’ve figured out a bigger truth. I’ve been brave, but I haven’t been brave enough. Because during this same dilemma, I realized I care more about the rights I’ve had and used, and I care that people are trying to take those rights away from the women who are coming after me, and I realized (yes, I know it’s a long run-on sentence, sue me) that “old” people like me have decided somehow we are irrelevant, that the world has moved on to younger, braver voices. But I haven’t finished yet, and I have so many things to say, and those younger, braver women need to hear from us older, brave women loudly and clearly, and I’ve let them down. And I want to fix that somehow.

So I’m going to start telling the truth, even though it is hard and it hurts, and it reveals very tender places that really have never finished healing. I’m going to call these things Truth is, I think, and write them here. And maybe someday I will post the links to Twitter and places like that and actually invite people to hear what I have to say. And also, I’m going to put a damn woman’s rights sticker on my car, which is an act of bravery here in NC, don’t kid yourself!

Also, people started trashing AFP for asking for volunteer musicians, and it was a big stink, maybe still is, and a bunch of bullshit, and you should read about it and think about it because it is a metaphor for your life somehow. She wrote about it: http://www.amandapalmer.net/blog/20120914/


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And this is the picture that Laura took during the show! She also sent me one of her and her son, smiling and looking so freaking cool! Needed that!!

Oh and irony lives here, Neil Gaiman is telling stories tomorrow night with the very cool Unchained Tour in the same NC town, and it’s… SOLD OUT!

 

us vs. them

509516I’ve been spending way too much time reading social media this week, maybe because I’ve been sick, or maybe I’m a slave to the bug that makes so many people feel tied to their electronic devices (this makes sense given my “former” gaming addiction). Either way, instead of just reading an article or blog, I’ve felt some disturbing need to read the comments sections. I mean, where else can you find out that our “president hates our country and wants to give it to his Muslim brethren” or “all liberals are retarded” or “all conservatives are bullies?” Believe me, I had to censor this, some of it just hurts my eyes.

What stuns me the most is that people don’t seem to actually read the stuff they’re commenting on anymore. Or, they’re reading it with such a cynical eye that nothing else gets through. Of course we shouldn’t believe everything we read, but it sure seems like the sides have already been picked, and the rest is just the taunting, thrown back and forth between sides like those jellyfish I remember from that really nasty jellyfishy beach I spent one weird day at when I was a kid… (well, surely you can imagine people throwing jellyfish at one another on a beach, can’t you? ::shudder::).

Still, the geek in me (stand back, I’m about to do science!) knows that before there can be reaction, there has to be action. Someone is pulling the strings in your life, and if it’s not you… well, you know, it’s not you. It seems like only a few people see themselves as actually capable of taking action on their own. And the rest? Well, I love the term “tool” as an insult, but it seems like most people I see commenting on these articles and blogs are the other kind of tool, just throw a switch and they’ll go to work like nanobots following a program laid out for them by… well who knows who wrote what? And well, whoever it is making people react these ways, I’d like to learn their secrets, because if I can’t make the world a better place, then I could at the very least use some adorable minions.


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Being soft.

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut

I think Vonnegut is badass. He’s always had this tough guy ‘tude, and writes fearlessly. His stories stay with me, most for decades. And then there’s this quote, which feels like the boiled-down-to-purity essence of the struggles I’ve had everywhere lately. I’ve been growing bitter, something far from my true nature. I’ve let the bastards get me down, again, only this time it’s been more than just a peaceful dark withdrawal into self defeat. I’ve hated other people this time, sometimes just for taking up space, or more often for spewing hate themselves.

But I want this beauty, and the softness that is the hardest damn thing sometimes. It used to define me, it’s been used against me, but it’s who I need to be, somehow, again. I think this may be the real challenge of my lifetime, my measure of success. If Anne Frank could still believe in the basic goodness of human beings after being hunted and hated by so many, who the hell am I to write people off?

Still, my inner cynic is swearing about asshats right now, and she has a point too. Some people suck. Some people delight in creating chaos all around them. Some are just lost in ugliness.

But I don’t want to be one of those. I want to be part of that thing that Anne Frank saw in us, that Vonnegut sees in the beauty of the world. I want to follow my own advice, given often, to step outside and feel the air on my skin and feel the wonder of the world and of life and of creation, however it got created, because please, that’s not the point for me. The point is, just breathe, and be soft.

Ownership.

I’m taking the site, Stephen, and I’m sorry…

I know when we bought the site, it was for the novel, and I know that even though it was my title, you had some kind of stake in it too. The novel may get finished someday. I promise to involve you, somehow, if I ever really get it going again. And you’re a co-author, regardless. I actually had some ideas for it not long ago. Good ideas. But these days, like older days, it’s just best to write alone. I don’t think the novel killed my marriage. I don’t think our friendship did either, in spite of the stories I kept hearing then, and second-hand for years later, probably even still. But when the marriage collapsed under its own weight, it smothered the novel too, as you know. The few times I’ve stopped by to visit, I’ve just stared, feeling so sad to see it languishing there, then breathed a few very shaky breaths into it, and closed the door again, turning back around to face the life I live now, and love.

I feel like a liar sometimes when I tell people I’m a writer. I mean, I have the poems, and chapters of new things that have some promise. But it’s hard now to remember the time when I would write for hours a day, and work with you on the nuances of it all. I know I was happy, and I know the writing was good. Yeah, there’s a lot that still needs changing if it ever goes forward, but there’s some great stuff in there too. I feel more like I should say I was a writer, once. But it’s easier to just say I’m a writer, present-tense, because even with that little bit of information given forth, the questions come at me like accusations. Are you published? You mean, like, fiction writing? Have you written a book? Plus, I’m not ready to give up just yet. I hope I never am.

Anyway, this isn’t about the novel. I mean, the site, this site, isn’t about the novel. Somehow this note became all about the damn novel, didn’t it? Well I’m taking the site, and I’m going to write things down, and I have no idea what I’m doing, but so far my life seems to work better that way. The other half of me that analyzes things to death needs to accept that this may be one place where I can let my spirit take me, up, down, and sideways. Or, it’s just one more thing I started that I won’t take care of in the end. That’s poetic in its own way too.

Anyway, like I said, I’m taking the site, Stephen, and I’m sorry.

Sarah smiles

Sarah smiles

I would walk for miles, for one of Sarah’s smiles.

There are words forming in my head in a language that this keyboard doesn’t recognize. Maybe anyone who’s ever watched their beloved children hurting can speak it too. My daughter isn’t happy, although she has memories of being so. She has a drive for more, and nothing ever seems enough. And yet, the trip we just took to Disneyworld gave us both a glimpse inside “enough,” into what it could feel like. She’s a tough girl! She beat her fear of flying just to get there. She beat her fear of coasters, and rode so many times I lost count, although she didn’t, and she would tell you if you asked. She spent a lot of the trip not smiling, but content enough. Then the night-time parade came through Main Street USA, with snow that she knew was made of soap but maybe that just added to her excitement, and with hot cocoa, and free apple slices and cookies. This was just after the fireworks that literally filled our sky from all directions and lit us both up like little girls. The fireworks had come just after meeting an admittedly slightly intimidating mouse in his own backyard. The goosebumps were still fresh from that, a surprise to both of us, but welcome.

Then the parade. She’s never liked parades, according to her. I have different memories, filled with small-town parades and her chasing after candy in the streets, catching all she could. But still we sat, with our good friends, and waited, watching the crowds forming and feeling that electricity of anticipation that makes the hair on your arms rise up, just a little. Disney magic does not often disappoint. The parade was magical, and we pointed and laughed and delighted in recognizing characters we each grew up knowing so well. I saw her excitedly spot each princess, then shrug it off, because she outgrew that stuff, long ago, she says. Then in one amazing moment, the Fairy Godmother went by, THE Fairy Godmother. And she looked right at Sarah, and she winked. And blew a special kiss right to her. That kiss was loaded with real magic, and it brought my girl’s smile back to us, if only for one wonderful night. “I feel special” she said, wonder in her voice. You are special, Sarah, so very special, Godmother or not. We watched the rest, the dancers, the toy soldiers, the whole Goofy lot of them. Then Santa came and blew her a kiss too, before heading back to the beach to rest up for December. We had to hurry then, to catch all the rides we could before midnight. She and her good friend and I closed Space Mountain that night, walking away wishing for just one more ride.

There really is nothing like Disneyworld, especially at midnight. You can really feel the special everywhere.

We’re home now, and Sarah seems to have lost her smile again, although I catch glimpses. I can’t afford to take her back to her Fairy Godmother, maybe not again in her first childhood. But we sure could use that smiling round happy lady around here, both of us. Keeping the magic alive is a challenge here in the Real World. I hope we can figure it out, and Sarah smiles again.

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