Tag Archive: Being the Change

First World Problems

 

1384965904It’s hard being spoiled. I suppose if I was in the “real” 1% I’d be used to it by now and not feeling guilty over having potentially large reactions to tiny problems. Usually I manage to keep quiet, you know, because I have perspective, and I know how awesomely lucky and spoiled I truly am.

But then sometimes… I mean, for instance, I couldn’t get the printer to work this morning, and I really wanted to print out this one cartoon for my door at work, where, you know, I have my own office.
With a DOOR.

And then I have to get a cavity filled at 3:30, all covered by my excellent health insurance of course, and that means I can’t go to the gym at work unless I schlep all the way back there, the whole 10 miles, in my new economy car, the one my husband filled with gas for me yesterday.

And I have all these yucky things to deal with today, because I’ve been out sick the last two days, paid leave of course. I have to call the doctor to arrange for this procedure to make sure I’m healthy enough to get this other procedure. It’s “routine” preventative health stuff, all covered by insurance, but gosh, I have to use a phone and speak to people. Then I have to order the medicine I need to thin my blood so I don’t have another stroke. The medicine that can cost some people over $400/month, and costs me $20.

Speaking of insurance, I have to deal with all these people on Facebook complaining about the ACA, and the huge First World problems our government seems to be having making web sites and governments run. We are all suffering! And then when I log onto Facebook, I have to endure the whining from people who used to have to sit alone with their personality disorders but can now share freely with their 500 “friends” while we sit and think, ah well, best be nice, because when my turn comes, well, I’ll need some comfort too. It’s not always easy having 500 friends.

Well, even if these are problems, I guess I really have very few. Even the stuff that’s really real, the painful stuff, it’s not like some giant storm came and killed off my city, my loved ones, my house, my water supply… Well, you know. I think maybe I can afford to click this link and send a little more of my hard-but-not-that-hard-earned money to people with real problems, and maybe once I’ve made all those phone calls, I’ll go post to this group I’m in on Facebook that’s all about gratitude. Because damn do I have a lot to be grateful for.


Connecting

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9/11/01 Manhattan from space.

I think a lot of us, most of us even, can get to feeling all alone in the world, misunderstood, lost, disconnected. The new DSM-5 is chock-full of  conditions that echo themes of dissociation.

I don’t just mean loneliness, although that may have its own label by now too. It’s that sense that you exist in a void, un-touching and untouched. And some of it is real, I mean, nobody can read your mind, and you do exist within yourself as someone nobody else can truly know fully. Yes, you sigh in relief. Who wants to be that exposed? I know.

In the journey to be daring and put “myself” out there more, there’s still a line that won’t be crossed.
Life is funny. So many of us bounce from existence to existence, school, work, socially, making friends, making connections however small they may seem. But we bounce on, and often forget that we’ve touched lives, and they’ve touched us. We can rewrite the story pretty easily, and a hero becomes a goat or vice versa. We all paint the world in our own colors, and sometimes those colors bleed all over the past. A relationship gone bad can turn into a relationship you never remember as being anything but bad. No wonder we feel so Other so often.

Today, the anniversary of a horrible attack on our psyche and our people, it strikes me that we’re all lost and alone together. We are more and more ruled by fear and advertising, put in our place and stuck trying to buy our way out, into something we know we’re missing. I think what we’re missing is one another. I guess in that way we’re all victims. And I think it’s worth the effort to reach out, take a chance, trust someone carefully, and trust and forgive ourselves.

PEN it forward!

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I made it myself… :)

14 Words for Love is back in action with PEN it Forward for Pay It Forward day (April 25, 2013). There’s an open Facebook event, where we’re gathering 14 word poems about, well, most everything this time. The focus is love in all its forms, but write what moves you! It’s amazing to me to see all the great poems from people who don’t think of themselves as poets, and the support from/for everyone is fantastic too.

On the 25th, the plan is for you, me, everyone to hand out these poems to strangers, or anyone at all. Maybe give them a few to hand out as well. There’s templates I made up – hopefully they’ll make it to the 14 words site soon. Even if you don’t feel like a writer, I challenge you to try writing at least one 14 word poem. It certainly doesn’t have to rhyme, and you may just decide to write another. Me, I started with one during the Valentines Day event, and wrote over a hundred I think!

I’ve been less prolific this time, but I still love the short format – nothing can help you say what you really want to say like a word limit! Here’s a video I made using some of the poems that were gathered and handed out for the 14 Words for One Love Valentines event.


httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rFYdTOkIK0


And here’s a few 14 word poems I’ve done this week for PEN it Forward:

hope and sorrow
won’t share a heart
their incessant battles
break it into pieces
thirteen years ago
labor started
we hurried
you and I
now, 
I understand waiting
you say I’m out of sync
but I’m matching my drumbeats 
one for one
Flowery fireworks
I stare contemplating 
the nature of beauty,
wading and coughing 
through pollen.
my dog, myself
mutts of unknown origin
dangerously capable 
of licking your face off
Praise is a flash flood,
too loud and fast to absorb.
I panic, drowning.

Come and join the fun – what’s the worst that could happen? As always, many thanks to 14 Words for Love’s creator, Jodi Barnes!

Little things

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Small miracles are everywhere. They’re in the way the dogs dance when they go outside in early spring, their noses waking up to a thousand little mysteries. Or the way the cardinal in the bush outside my window just a few minutes ago bobbed and weaved in exact time to the song I was listening to, and then flew away exactly when it ended.

Small miracles. Little things. You can see them every day if you’re looking. Of course, I’m the kind of weirdo who you’ll see staring at the sidewalk after the rain stops, moving worms out of the hot sun before it’s too late. I like to watch ants celebrating an upcoming feast of cookie crumbs while working together. Little things. Except, of course, to the ants and the worms. Notice someone, and you have given them a gift. It may be the best thing they’ve received in a long time.

Lately more and more I’ve been noticing things that are usually reserved for people on acid trips. Maybe it’s from being in the dark so much, or maybe watching too much Dog Whisperer… Anyway, the exchanges of energy between people, well, creatures, are visceral but visual things. Just like anger, joy is catching. You can watch it flow. If someone is willing to meet your eyes, try smiling just a tiny bit, and you can see them lift up. You did that.

The effect of a smile can start in one part of the world and travel most anywhere. Small kindnesses are the things you remember and carry with you, so what makes you think nobody else notices? The cashier who was admiring my hair color the other day was amazed when I told her how lovely her highlights were (mostly grey and silver, nice highlights!). I could tell it was the first compliment she’d heard in a long time. It cost me nothing. In fact, it made me richer. I was having some real problems that day, and by some small miracle, my load was lightened by passing along a tiny bit of joy. And then she turned to the next person in the very long line with a smile on her face.

Mother Teresa said “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless”. I don’t even think you need words. I truly think just meeting someone where they stand, noticing them, smiling… I think that echoes too. So here’s to starting with the little things…


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

Small revolutions

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14 Words for One Love on Valentine’s Day

Jodi Barnes is a poet who lives near me and has started something amazing. As a loving and revolutionary response to the white supremacist “14 words” of intolerance, she has been collecting 14-word poems on love of all kinds. Her plan is to enlist a posse and hand out these poems one at a time on Valentine’s Day. Her original goal was 1400 poems, but I think we’ve already blown the lid off of that.

Click on the picture to check it out.


I guess I’ve made it clear here that I’m working toward recovery from a fairly nasty bout of depression, that my writing has stalled off and on, and that I’m trying to feel okay about things out of my control but that affect me and my family greatly. So while this 14 Words for One Love on Valentine’s Day thing caught my eye, and I joined the event, I didn’t intend to write more than one or two baby poems. I just didn’t have it in me.

The problem, well, more like the wonder, was that once I wrote a couple, I wanted to write more and more. When you attack the many crazy angles of love a few words at a time, you get the pleasure of little tastes, different views, and a forced clarity that I adore more and more with each passing poem. It may not be the cure to all that ails me, but it’s been a hell of a healthy distraction, at the very least.

So every day I’m writing little baby poems, some sublime, some ridiculous, all healing. Reading the words of others and talking about them is an incredible bonus, and being a part of something larger and completely open just makes the air taste better for me all around. I’m hoping there will be a collection of these poems, because even though the idea is to send them all out into the world as free little birds (yes, a pun, of course), the creation itself is worth holding onto.

I’m so grateful for this chance to contribute, and to put my own pain and pleasure to good use in the world, even if it’s just a touch. There are people from all walks writing poems, people from across oceans, people living under rocks, people suffering as people do. It is a small and magnificent world, and I can’t wait to hear all about how the poems have flown.

Here’s just a smattering of my baby 14-word poems…


 

there’s no cure
for a broken heart
but I do recommend
the emergency chocolate
devoted
she visits him daily
he ponders her
bewildered
before asking
who are you?
he is bleeding
cut to ribbons
from squeezing
through your narrow
definitions
of love

my morning love
begins with a bean
measured
pulverized
drained
please pass the cream
grubby hands
triumphantly present
a struggling frog
eyes bulging
an offering of pure wonder
wet nose
and slobbery tongue
remind me
what it means
to belong
to someone

hope is like air
it’s everywhere
you lick it from your fingertips
and smile
leave me alone
she shouts
hoping I’ll know
she really means
please don’t go
you knew me once
but fail to recognize
i’m rearranged
and you haven’t changed

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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