Saggy vs. Squished

The version of me people get when they see me isn’t reality. It’s the squished version that holds all the wobbly bits at bay.

I rise in the morning. Everything is loose: My pajamas and underwear are loose. My sagging boobs are loose. My sagging belly is loose. My hair is loose. Then I pull my hair into a ponytail, put on some pants and underwear that squash in the saggy belly. Put on a bra that slings up the saggy boobs. Wash the face of night oil and lint from the pillow and put in contacts so the world is seen clearly. Squish it all into a passable package. Live the day like this, then let it all free at the end of the day for sleeping and start all over again.

I used to not be so saggy. In my youth I didn’t require clothing to hold it all in, except for my hair, which since it is naturally curly has always needed taming. But then I pushed out two humans who took up a lot of space in my belly and then let them each nurse for over four years and voila! Sag. Ah well, I wouldn’t trade them for it.

I exercise much more regularly now than I did then. Some version of weightlifting, pilates, and cardio is a part of my daily routine, yet this can’t hold a candle to young unstretched muscles. I’m likely much stronger, but you wouldn’t tell it by looking at me in comparison to my younger self.

Sometimes I get started on squishing everything in and get distracted by something else. I go half done for a bit, either the top or the bottom living in its sleeping version. Once whatever it was is over then I get back to putting it back together.

Fabrics play a large role in all this. I can only stand a certain amount of squashing and only by certain fabrics. I’ve tried Spanx and those things. They make me bat shit crazy. Too tight. Too binding. Too everything. (Do NOT auto correct me, damn you, WordPress! I know what I’m saying! Gads I hate that shit.) The fabric cannot itch. If it itches, I can’t wear it. So many clothing out there seems to me to be designed to torture, but I’ve learned from observing others that many are not nearly as princess and the pea about fabric and binding as I am. Otherwise how could they wear what they do? Or wear mismatched, upside down socks? Seriously. I don’t understand. I feel something stabbing and will discover it is a speck of sand. This is not an exaggeration. It has happened. There is no way I could stand wearing clothes that are too tight, made of lace, and crawling up my butt crack (lace thongs, anyone?). I shudder at the thought.

In any case. Off I go, squished and wearing clothes that hold but don’t bind, made of fabrics without edges that poke. I’m ready to conquer the world! (Not really. Conquering just isn’t my style.)

Am I a Ghost?

I tried it again, to see whether or not I’m a ghost. I tried to walk through the door in my room. Not the frame, but the actual door. It didn’t work. I concluded that one of two possibilities must be true: One is that either I am not a ghost or that if I am a ghost, I am not capable of walking through doors. I wonder which it is.

I’m going to have to test some other theories to see whether or not I’m a ghost. I can make ghost sounds, but I don’t think that’s helpful because I think anyone can make a ghost sound even if they’re not a ghost. I do know that dogs bark at ghosts. My dogs bark at me, but they bark at lots of things, so that’s not helpful either.

I’m going to go sit with a sheet on my head and see if I can figure this out.

Nothing Pithy to Say

Something inspired me to go read the first month of the first year when I began writing this blog. Boy, was I much more cheerful then. Was I deluded? Or was I really that cheerful? I don’t think I’ve been that cheerful in a really long time. I had book ideas popping out of my head. My writing was pithy. I was fired up about stuff that pissed me off and I could write long pieces about it without getting lost in all the rabbit holes I get lost in these days when I try to write about what is wrong in the world. I didn’t exercise daily like I do now. I ate sugar. I hadn’t been through therapy that actually worked and made me deal with my childhood shit. But I was more cheerful and pithy.

I remember writing then, how I would get lost in it. Maybe it was because I had finally found a forum for all the nonsense that floats around in my brain. Maybe it was because I hadn’t yet been metaphorically knocked down, kicked in the belly, kicked in the head, and left to lie there. Or I had been kicked, but not knocked down and had the shit beaten out of me yet, and it hadn’t really sunk in. (Funny how sentences go. I started to write that it hadn’t yet kicked in, but then thought that was kind of a twisty metaphor considering I was describing being knocked down and kicked, so then I tried hit. It didn’t work either in the same way. I finally settled on sunk in. And then I wrote this. I must admit I’m still good at rambling nonsense that gets off the main track. (Oh, and I’m still the Queen of Parentheses.))

I feel like I need a nap and it’s not even 10 a.m. yet. Yikes.

Portland is a Big Fucking Mess

I visited Portland today. I haven’t been there in a while. I drove through on the way to a vigil for a young black man I knew who was executed by the Vancouver police. We didn’t stop in the city on our way through and were there after dark anyway, so it didn’t really count as going to Portland. I think the last time I visited for real, where I was actually in the city, was when I went to a protest. Again though, dark and not really a visit. Great video footage though (after the first minute when I had to try and organize the camera while wearing a gas mask and gloves), available here.

The point of this ramble is that it’s been a very long while since I have actually been in Portland and good fucking god, what a damn mess it is. It looks like in a movie where the apocalypse is happening or has happened and everything has gone to shit. There is graffiti and trash everywhere. Poor Tom McCall must be rolling over in his grave.

What I really don’t understand is why people don’t pick up the damn garbage that’s everywhere. Further, why did they toss it on the ground in the first place? It’s like all these people from all over the place moved to the “Most Livable City” and then shit all over it so it’s like where they came from. It’s not the most livable city anymore. Being the most livable city was all a big marketing joke anyway. The second the city “leaders” decided to make the ad campaign to try and get people to move to Portland was the second it turned from being somewhat okay to being not livable at all. I left it 3 years ago because it was not livable. There were too many people and too much traffic and too many people with money shitting on people without money and way too much narcissism masking itself as progressivism and it sucked, but now? Now it’s all that and an ugly damn mess too.

Years ago right after I graduated from high school I moved to Connecticut to be a nanny. I lived in Stamford. While there, I met a boy from Westchester county in New York. He became my boyfriend and every second I wasn’t nannying I drove to Larchmont from Stamford to see him. The line between the state of Connecticut and the state of New York was stark: the Connecticut side was clean, the New York side was exactly like Portland is right now. I always found it shocking the difference between the two places. Clearly the good people of New York didn’t give enough of a shit to clean up after themselves and to keep from tossing trash out on the ground in the first place. All of those New Yorkers have now moved to Portland and brought their good habits with them. Thank you, Portland leaders, for trying to “grow” the city. You have done the state proud!

Since I was in Portland, I figured I would try and buy some jeans. My jeans have gradually been wearing out and I’m picky about how jeans feel when I wear them. My daughter Milla was with me and we decided we would brave it and go to Lloyd Center to see if I could find something I would be willing to wear that didn’t cost a half a million dollars. Boy howdy that mall looked like the apocalypse had hit. Most of the stores were gone. The doors were all gated. A few people milled around, but it was virtually empty.

I did mention to Milla that I hoped the idiots who spent a fortune destroying the old ice rink and replacing it with a big empty space–seriously that is what they did, reduced the ice rink size by half and replaced it with a big empty space of ugly linoleum–were losing money. I hate malls, but the ice rink was actually a fun place to go. They had ice skating lessons that were always full. It was a good place for families and they ruined it to put in a tiny ice rink and charge three times as much to skate there. Typical asshat capitalists.

ANYway. I digress. The point is that the mall there is failing completely. Of course, the only remaining businesses were the multinational disgusto crap stores that are everywhere the US has shit all over. I needed to use the restroom and it used to be that the Starbucks at one end was the only place to go. It was gone. Even that corporate behemoth decided it wasn’t worth it to stick around. The small businesses were all gone. Can we just raze the thing and plant a forest again, Stumptown?

We didn’t stay long. We couldn’t take it. I don’t need jeans that bad. The mall was still playing Christmas music (Wtf, people? It’s December 29. When do we get free from the fucking Christmas music that started four months ago?). The fluorescent lights were much too cold and bright. Driving away we filmed the streets lined with garbage. We drove by a Starbucks that had a light pole bent in half in the grassy strip next to the parking lot. At first I thought it was art, but no. It was a knocked over and bent in half light pole. How in the hell did that even happen?

When I got home I searched the Internet for Portland is a mess. I found a couple of articles talking about the paint on the federal buildings in downtown, but that is it. Has anyone there noticed that the city is a disaster?

Here’s the thing I have never been able to understand. Why is it when things are falling apart don’t people still give a shit enough to pick up the trash? Why do they just toss it on the ground? Why don’t they care enough to clean stuff up? Doesn’t anyone care? The good progressives of the city can’t be bothered to fucking clean up after themselves? (Don’t assume that because I’m snarky about the good progressives that I’m right wing at all–I’m not. I just can’t abide by the holier than thou nonsense authoritarianism of those who consider themselves “progressive.”) Are they scared that the Covid will get them if they pick up the shit lying around everywhere? Wear a damn mask and pick up your trash already. Better yet, don’t throw it on the ground in the first place. It’s not that hard.

Today I told Milla that there is a whole segment of the state that wants to secede and become a part of Idaho. Instead of having half the state secede and join Idaho, I told her, why not just let Portland become its own little state? I don’t think the rest of us should become a bunch of federal building takeover nutjobs (which is what I think the Idaho secessionists would like), but maybe we can put a bit of Oregon back in Oregon and leave the Brooklyn-Los Angeles-Seattle-San Francisco wannabe Portland to itself. They’re well on their way.

I don’t have any more to say about this or any clever tie up for the end. It’s a sad state of affairs what Portland has become, but it’s not surprising. The city has long catered to a certain class of people, courted capitalism light, and patted itself on the back for its perceived good deeds all the while ignoring incredibly rising housing costs, cutting services to the poor, trampling on black and brown people, and gentrifying the hell out of everything. Covid and protests and fires have only ripped the skin off and revealed the ugly innards for all to see. There was a reason I couldn’t stand living there. I’m just grateful I was able to leave.

Paper Towels Don’t Just Kill Trees

Paper towels don’t just kill trees.

They kill the family of baby birds nesting in the tree, leaving bird parents lost and wondering what happened to their children.

They kill the raccoon and opossum babies who were sleeping in a warm nest with their mothers.

They kill the insects and spiders that live on and around the tree.

They kill the plants around the tree, the sorrel, the ferns, the rhododendrons.

Giant tires from the machines that rip the tree from the ground smash the homes of mice and salamanders, killing them too.

Those same tires leave mud that drains into nearby streams, harming the lives that live there.

Paper towels don’t just kill trees; they destroy the lives of everything living nearby. Is it really worth it to destroy an entire community just so your hands can be dry?

Shake off your hands and let them air dry.
Death of an Ecosystem
More Death of an Old Growth ForestThe deaths of these trees mean the deaths of many others whose bodies we don’t see, left to rot in the forest. The forest “managers,” the corporations who profit from this death may have piled some of the destruction into mounds and set fire. All this death and destruction for what?

Simply Love

I have no expectation of humanity saving itself. It’s too selfish, too disconnected from what it should be, too far gone. This is depressing, I know it. However, in spite of its poor prognosis, I still find glimmers of goodness and these are something of a balm to the despair of living in death culture. Humans selectively bred animals like dogs to make them something humans could control. This is reprehensible. However, it doesn’t make me love the creatures that are derived from this version of eugenics any less appealing. I live with such wonderful animals. Each and every one of them is unique. Each and every one is simply lovely. Every time I pass something that causes the despair I close my eyes and think of one of them or my dear daughters and I can be okay for the moment. My love for them and for this planet and it’s resiliance is a way to get by.

Thanksgiving Sonnet

Our family renamed Thanksgiving “Indigenous Murdering Day.” I know. We are snarky. Yet really, the true origin story of this holiday isn’t pretty. However, I do think it is a good idea to be thankful and to have a day to put emphasis on this. Unfortunately, the consequence for the planet is a lot of death, especially for turkeys.

Our turkeys are lucky. They are happy and healthy, albeit a little muddy (the poultry pen has gotten really wet in the last few weeks). There is a dry house to go into, but the turkeys would rather roost in the trees even if they get rained on. Silly turkeys! They are free to roam our property, but they like to stay close to home and to us. Feeding time is their favorite. I have to give Clove a little pile of his own while I feed everyone else, otherwise he is climbing on my feet and into my lap and acts like a little greedy monster!

They are truly wonderful creatures. They’re smart and fun. They follow us around and pip at us while we work. When I ride my horse down in the pasture arena next to their pen, they come wait by the fence and pip at me while they dig in the soil for grubs.

Every year I post the sonnet I wrote back in a college poetry class about turkey genocide on this day. I think last year was the first year I didn’t post it. I didn’t forget this year. In the past, I tried to find different words to make the syllabic setup for a sonnet exact, but I haven’t been able to without losing the meaning. I would also like to provide, to those who are interested, the link to a wonderful documentary about turkeys called My Life as a Turkey. It is a fascinating story about a man who lived with some turkeys. It’s well worth your time. View it HERE.

And now, without further ado, here it is the turkey genocide day sonnet:

Thanksgiving Sonnet
Perspiring hormones, Tom Turkey stares with one sad eye at a crumbling chimney tower belching death in putrid smoke, blackening holiday skies. Annihilating light.

Bodies, bones. None remain unfrozen. With elaborate precision he’s taken apart; neck, gizzards tied in a bag between his ribs, head ground neatly into pink hot dog slabs.

Holiday skies are crowded with turkey souls, ascending to heaven like deflated balloons.

Turkey

Pepper peeking around the gutter I was installing.

Turkey

Clove says, “Hello!”

Honorifics

Did Robert or John Kennedy ever think to themselves, “I wonder if I’ll have a drinking fountain at a university in Oregon named in my honor”? What a weird thing, to honor someone with a drinking fountain. And not even a fancy drinking fountain, but your average, typical, run-of-the-mill fountain. The metal kind that hums when it’s cooling the water. And for some reason, the font chosen has A’s that are taller than the other letters.

So weird.

No Relation

Something about Buck Henry. I don’t remember now. I do remember that at 4:46 when I thought of the opening line to a story that included the name Buck Henry I also thought it wouldn’t seem so profound in the light of day. Considering I can’t even remember what the line was, I guess I was right.

I don’t kill flies. I don’t intentionally kill anything. I hate how our culture uses killing as the first way of getting rid of something it doesn’t like. Fly nearby? Kill it. Gopher in your yard? Kill it. Ants in the kitchen? Kill them. Don’t like the mouse in the walls? Kill it. Death culture, that’s what we have. It extends to plants too. Go to any store’s “garden center” and you’ll find a whole aisle devoted to poisons to murder other beings with. Genocide abounds.

Lately it seems driving around I’ve come across more and more trucks with giant ants, bees, wasps, spiders, mice, etc., on them, all in the business of killing. I can hardly log on to the Next Door app anymore. All the posts whining how someone saw some wasps outside so how can they kill them. I respond to leave them alone and the pack pounces.

I should be a hermit. I can sit in my house and the flies will buzz by. Sometimes they will be annoying. Flies can be. But I don’t think that my annoyance justifies their death. I have taken to leaving the corners of my screens open all summer long. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn’t let the flies in, it gives them an escape. Except for this time of year when things outside are getting cold, they don’t want to remain inside. Ever notice how they congregate at the windows? They want back out. They don’t know how they ended up in these artificial boxes with giant clear panes they can’t get through. When they head back to the sunlight, they run up against clear obstacles and search all the edges trying to escape. Since I’ve left the edges of the screens open, just a crack wide enough for a fly, they leave. I have a couple of windows that don’t open and the poor things die there. I think it’s sad.

What does any of this have to do with my desire to write a story that had Buck Henry in the first line? Absolutely nothing. There is no relation. I just thought about writing it and ended up here.

1 view

Site stats. Today: 1 view.

I’m a mover and a shaker. A salt shaker. And a lazy ass who can’t get up the gumption to write anything.

I’m covered in dogs. They’re lying all over and around me. I am the leader of the pack. They dog pile on me because I’m the leader of the pack. Maybe they think I’m the salt of the earth because I’m a salt shaker. I know I’m not a pepper shaker because I’m not spicy.

1 view. HA!

Curses

How does one lift a curse? How does one know if there actually is a curse? Can one just assume based on circumstance and then do the spell to lift the curse, and if there doesn’t happen to be one, no harm no foul? Or what if there are specific ways to lift the curse, and one option is chosen, but it is the wrong one, and then it is assumed that there wasn’t a curse so no other options were tried, but really, it was just the wrong means of lifting the curse? Maybe one should run through all the options for lifting the curse and this way, all options are exhausted before presuming that there isn’t a curse or a cure for the curse and giving up. It’s certainly much more complicated than it appears, that’s for sure.

Explore Costco Travel

I got an email from Costco telling me to explore their services. Explore Costco Travel, it said. Oh my god, please. Let me explore Costco Travel. Costco Travel, can you give me some travel for FREE? I’d really explore that. Please? I’d like to explore New Zealand, Australia, Paraguay, Uraguay, the south of France, Barcelona, and Scandinavia. That about covers it for now. Once I’ve Costco Traveled my way through these places, I’ll come up with some others.

I’m sure this isn’t what Costco Travel has in mind, but it’s what I have in mind, so I’m putting it out there, Secret style. I’ll just manifest a free trip somewhere in the world by thinking of it. Costco sent me this email; it must be the universe setting me up to send me somewhere lovely. It wants me to manifest such exploration. Doesn’t this sound feasible? I think it does.

I’m going to go burn some essential oils and hum and hold my thumbs and fingers in a circle and hope something manifests in accordance with my thoughts. Thank you, Costco.

I started typing in the words for the tags on this post and was going to type “meditation,” but accidentally typed “medication” instead. I think maybe my blog is trying to tell me something.

Shedding the Rust

A friend asked me if I write on my blog. Not much, I said. I actually have been writing, just not here. Not a lot, but I’m trying to make it a habit again, trying to do it every day, even if just a half an hour. I am rusty. It doesn’t come as easily to make lovely sentences any more. I need to practice and shed the rust.

After he asked if I’ve written on the blog I scrolled through it on my mobile phone and read a few of the last posts I’ve written. I was not surprised at the lack of number of posts, but I didn’t feel like what I had written was fake, which was good. So many times when I read old posts they seem so fake, and I hate it.

I have ideas of what to write, but often I just don’t want to share so much. This is the stuff that ends up in what I write but not on here. I’m the opposite of how I used to be in this regard, the opposite of how so many are these days. Oversharing is the norm. I have no desire for this. I lean in the other direction, away from disclosing too much personal information. Not personal information such as that I think my breasts are too big (which is true, but meaningless), but personal information such as what I’m experiencing and feeling in reaction to what is happening in my life. All the online algorithms think they know us, but they don’t. They might track stuff and try to predict what we want to buy, but if the ads I get are any indication, they’re wrong. Maybe it’s because I’ve made every effort to block every attempt to track what I do. I don’t know. Maybe they would know some stuff, but even my searches wouldn’t reveal the inner workings of my mind as I perform chores on my farm, mulling over whatever is floating around in my brain.

Somehow I got onto texting with Milla about the little people and animals stickers people put in the rear windows of their SUVs or minivans. We realized that ours would be so expansive we would not be able to use the window. It would be:

👸 👸 👸🐶🐶🐶🐶🐱🐰 🐴 🐴 🐴 🐴 🐴🐐🐐🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🐓🦃🦃🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🦆🐟🐟

Yes, that is quite a lot, I think.

So another meaningless blog post that reveals virtually nothing except that I have a lot of animals. And that I can cut and paste emojis. I love it.

😶

Have a mouthless day.

My Spam Rubber

Akismet has protected my site from 284,202 spam posts already. They roll themselves out to protect me from spam venereal disease. Oh, I’m so popular with the algorithm machines. They tell me I’m writing “most great best post” and I can “learn sell many item on special marketing plan.” For some reason, it’s not enough to tempt me. I don’t even see them anymore. Years and years ago when this started, I’d get them in my inbox. This was back in the day when people actually read blogs and wrote real comments on them and you could actually meet people in faraway places and become friends with them. Nowadays, people “like” blogs so you’ll go read theirs and “like” them back so they get followers because having followers and being liked in this way is more important than reality and in fact some people kill themselves because they don’t have enough of them. Tragic. It’s all fucking marketing and I fucking hate it. I’d rather have spam than that shit. I can’t stand the commodification of everything–EVERYTHING. It’s all facebookified. Gag, spit, puke, blurbppprtth. NO.

When I get comments now, they are to tell me to go look at someone’s blog on how to “market” myself. Hard as it is to believe, I have no desire to market myself, and if I did, it wouldn’t be through my blog. So the blog goes unused, but the spams keep coming, only I don’t have to look at them.

I wrote to wordpress and asked about taking back my domain. I claimed and bought it years ago and they “kindly” set it up to pay them for it each year. Well, they sold it on to the domain monopoly. They didn’t ask me. They didn’t make it clear what they were doing. I didn’t sign anything. They just took it. Now if I want it the domain monopoly wants thousands of dollars. For my own fucking name. That I bought and didn’t say anyone could have. This is the world we live in. Creaky, greasy, greedy end of empire.

Have you noticed that internet searching has changed? Type in anything (into startpage because I don’t want my searches monopolized either) and good ol’ greedy Amazon will be at the top. I’ve taken to typing in a minus amazon when I want something. Or type in something you just want to know about and the first sites are those selling something. Just want information? Good luck with that. I often put in site:edu so I get education sites.

I’m PROTECTED. Akismet as prophylactic. “Do you want a condom with that?” We are getting to the point where existing in culture requires we sheathe ourselves in rubber. I don’t want spam, likes, marketing, electronic billboards, being tracked to sell me stuff, any of it, so I wrap myself in a metaphorical rubber to keep it all out by staying off the blog I used to enjoy, never searching on the google, refusing to enter “contests” for a “chance” to win, having no television, never turning on a radio, going into the settings buried deep in my phone and turning off location services and tracking and following and notifying and bugging and bothering. It’s like being followed by a pack of blood-sucking gnats all the time, a little cloud of them surrounding us trying to suck out our blood and marrow and life. No wonder everyone is so exhausted. Late stage capitalism is a fucking vampire.

How did I get here? Not where I intended to go. I just thought it was funny that I’ve had 284,202 spam messages, and “115 are still in my inbox.”

4 Visits to Your Blog Today

I get stats on how many people read this blog. I’ve had times in the past where it was in the hundreds a day. Overall I think the total visitors over the life of the thing is over a hundred thousand. Not so much traffic anymore. Today I have had 4 visits to my blog. That’s what it says: “You have had 4 visits to your blog today.” I don’t think I can keep up with this. The sheer numbers are overwhelming. I know it’s because I never write anymore and most of what I write is boring, which is part of why I don’t write so here I am with my four views today. A couple of weeks ago it got up to over 30. Not sure why. I didn’t write anything that day. Maybe someone shared an old post when I was witty. Who knows?

The blog wants me to link to facebook. Trouble is, I don’t have facebook anymore. I hate facebook. What a huge, useless waste of time. We get 100 years if we are lucky, and probably less. Why would I spend it staring at nonsense and nonsense and nonsense? But I know I’m in the minority. In so many things I am in the minority. It’s why, I think, I am so alone. I have my 5 people and that’s it. There are a handful I would like to be more friends with but my efforts there have not been reciprocated so…

I played with my dogs today. I was giving them treats for lying down. I told George to lie down, he threw himself on the floor and got his treat. Abbie laid down quietly and calmly and got her treat. Then I asked Oliver to do it. Before he could move, George threw himself on the floor in front of him. I DID IT! I DID IT! I’M LYING DOWN! GIMME A TREAT! Oh for crying out loud, George, would you get out of the way? Oliver sat with his head back like he was trying to avoid being smacked by a crazy Dachshund paw. Peaches sat looking at all of it as if to say, “When is it my turn?” She hasn’t learned lie down yet. She’s just a baby. But she sits and sits very well, little angel. All of them are good dogs.

I have to go give my horse his medicine. He’s finally home after 3 weeks at the vet college. He’s been home long enough for me to change his bandage three times and the wounds are looking better and better. Keeping him sane is a challenge though. Thoroughbreds are bred to run, bred to exercise, bred to move. Making one stay in a stall day in and day out is torture for them. Poor guy. I hope all this stall time works and he heals back to one hundred percent. If not, I guess he’ll be my expensive pasture pet because he’s not going anywhere. If by chance you read this and want to help out with the vet bills, I have set up a GoFundMe here. All help is genuinely appreciated. It’s been a tough year, especially for vet bills.

Okay, four people. I’m going to stop writing. Actually, the four already read this so it should be okay, maybe two more people, I’m going to stop writing. I’m hungry. Horse needs drugs to battle infection. Buh bye.

Gads

Ninth grade. I was not popular. In fact, I was the opposite of popular. I was the butt of many school jokes. Popular kids plugged their noses when I walked by. They “sprayed” themselves with their finger if I accidentally touched them. I know I didn’t stink, but that didn’t matter. Mostly I walked through the halls of junior high invisibly, and I cultivated this. I went out of my way to avoid detection. I had enough of a temper that if pushed I would strike back, quick and mean, then retreat and hide. Mostly though, I just tried to avoid being noticed. I read books constantly, pretended I was riding my horse through the halls, and tried to operate under their radar. Sometimes though, I failed utterly and completely, in spite of my best efforts.

We all had to take Sex Ed in ninth grade. Good god, what the fuck were the administrators thinking? They so underestimate teenagers. I had a crush on Mike Darby. Mike was lanky and horse-faced, with tousley brown hair, but I thought he was adorable. Mike was popular. He was on the football team. Everyone knew who he was. He did not know who I was. I would fantasize that he would say hello to me. That was how silly and naive I was. I did not even consider hand-holding or kissing. At age thirteen, such conjectures were well without my realm of possibility. No. Saying hello was about as brave as I could get.

Because of my crush, I wrote “I like MD” on my palm. Why did I do that? Did some little part of me hope he would notice and fall instantly in love with me at the sight of his initials inscribed on my hand? Was I a fool? Come to think of it, I doubt I thought much of anything. I probably sat there in my teenage, hormone-addled state, reading something from the library. I read a lot in the library. In fact, I took pride in the fact that I had read every book in the junior high library by the end of eighth grade. I also won the library’s “Ghastly Riddle Contest” at Halloween. It was a sort of treasure hunt through haunted books whereby clues were given in the form of quotes. You went to the quote and it would lead you to another clue. It required some knowledge of the books involved to locate the original quotes. A weekly clue would be handed out to help you when you were stumped. I won a nice set of horse books, which I still have, actually. I think they knew that I would win since I spent every free moment in the library.

Anyway, I digress. Back to my lusting after Mike Darby by hoping he would say hello. I had taken the liberty of professing my love via ball point pen. I sat hiding in the far row of Sex Ed class. I do not recall the name of the teacher, but I remember what he looked like. He was one of the coaches. He was tall and stocky, with blonde hair shorn closely like in the military. Unlike some teachers, he was actually pretty kind to me. The head cheerleading coach acted like I was a virus she might catch if I asked her something about the pre-algebra that she taught. But Mr. Sex Ed was pleasant enough.

There I sat in Mr. Sex Ed’s class. It was a sunny afternoon and I remember sitting and staring lazily into the sunbeams. I had done the reading. Mr. Sex Ed was dozing up front. Most of the class was chatting and passing notes back and forth. Suddenly Kelly Dee, who sat behind me, leaned forward in her chair and peered over at me.

An aside about Kelly Dee. When my parents chose to move our family to “the country” because that is where I thought I wanted to live in order to have a horse, I was in the sixth grade. The little school in our town had one grade per class and each class had about twelve students. Kelly Dee was in my class. She immediately befriended me and nearly as immediately dumped me when she discovered that I did not smoke, drink, or swear, and that I rode horses and read books. She had perfectly feathered blonde hair. I did not have perfectly feathered blonde hair. Mine curled in all the wrong places and my mom cut it for me. How humiliating.

Kelly Dee wore San Franciscos and Sticky Fingers and had several colors of Nike swish shoes. I had one pair of Sticky Fingers, no San Franciscos, and no Nike swish shoes. I wore Keds and Keds were not popular. Kelly Dee knew that one was supposed to carry a large comb in one’s back pocket. Until meeting her, I was not privy to such inside information. Essentially, Kelly Dee had all the makings of a cool person while I had zero. By the end of ninth grade when this incident took place, we were in junior high and I did not exist. Kelly Dee was a cheerleader. She still had perfectly feathered hair. Mine still curled in the wrong places. I think I may have finally acquired a pair of Nike swish shoes and a comb, but they were clearly not noticed in the library where I spent all of my time.

I was not happy to have Kelly Dee peering over my shoulder. Kelly Dee did not involve herself with me except to make my life miserable. She had completely mastered the pretend to be friendly and suck me in while simultaneously concocting some nasty evil plot approach. She would say something that seemed kind. Weaving back and forth, back and forth, hypnotizing me, I would respond to the false kindness, believing for a moment that she might actually be friendly, whereupon she would suddenly expose her true nature, losing the lovely exterior, spitting in my eyes and becoming the cobra she truly was. Once she put gum in my hair without my notice. Usually she would say something really ugly and make her friends laugh. “Do you use butter grease to style your hair?” she would sneer. Her friends would erupt in laughter. Ha ha. Real funny. You’re so clever, why don’t you hit the comedy circuit?

Back in Sex Ed, she wanted to know, “Who is MD?” Uh oh. Uh oh. Uh oh. Fuck.

“Nobody you know.” My heart was pounding. Why couldn’t she just go away? Why did she have to torture me? Was I really such an obvious target? Apparently so because she did not go away. “So who is it?”

“No one you know. Someone from another school.” God, please don’t let her know. Mike Darby was in that class. If he found out. Oh crap.

“What’s his name? MD. MD. Is it Mike Darby?” What the….? How in the hell had she nailed that on the first try? Maybe she saw my hand and worked it out before saying anything.

“No. No, it’s not Mike Darby. It is not. No.” I stammered, obviously flustered. I must have seemed like a giant bullseye for her pointy cobra fangs.

“It’s Mike Darby isn’t it.” It wasn’t even a question. “You like Mike Darby. Wow.” She turned and told her friend, another Kelly who must not have been so evil because I do not remember her last name. “She likes Mike Darby. Can you believe it?” Kelly could not believe it. In fact, she was so shocked that she had to share it with the girl next to her.

Then Kelly Dee did the unthinkable. She called out to Mike Darby, “Hey Mike. Lara likes you.” Oh my dear God, please kill me now. I should be punished for having written those damn initials on my hand. Actually, I was being punished for having written those damn initials on my hand. Mike Darby turned and looked over in our direction. He may have been looking at me. I don’t know. I was staring at my desk and begging the gods to reach down and suck me from my chair. Anything, anything but this.

“Is this bad news true?” he asked. All the kids who had been paying attention laughed.

My pain was complete. Not only had I been fully humiliated by darling Kelly Dee, Mike Darby saw my liking him as bad news and he wasn’t afraid to say so. I couldn’t believe this was happening. I suffered through the remainder of the class, wishing I could disappear. Having ensured she had gotten a good and deep bite right into the side of my head, Kelly Dee was no longer interested in torturing me. She moved on to discussions of cheerleading routines and hairdos. My face burned and the room swam. I pretended to read my Sex Ed book. At least I could say the bad news was no longer true. I no longer liked Mike Darby and could not wait for class to end so I could go and wash my hand.

Once the bell rang, I shuffled through my belongings to take as long as possible to leave class and ensure I did not have to rise and move with the other students. After every one of them was gone I sat for a few more seconds. Alone in the room, I took a deep breath. It seemed like it had been long enough for the lot of them to clear out of the hallway.

I must have lacked some serious capacity to foretell possibilities because it had not been long enough for Mike Darby to clear out of the hallway. He was the only one left, digging through his locker that was just across the hall from the Sex Ed classroom. Mine was down past his, requiring that I pass him, completely humiliated. Thankfully, he did not look up as I shuffled quickly by. Perhaps part of his dismay at my liking him had been for show. Certainly his reaction had been. At least he left me alone. I went to my locker, deposited my books, and took the long way around to P.E. class because the direct route would have taken me past his locker again, and there was no way I was going there.

Junior high is certainly a breeding ground for mean people. Volumes have been written on the subject. Millions have been made in movies about the outcasts being tortured. Pleasure is taken in the geek who grows up and shows up to the high school reunion in a helicopter. I think we all assume that as adults this crap goes away. Unfortunately, that’s wishful thinking. Even if you grow into a swan and develop inner strength and confidence, there are those people who never move past being mean to you.

Lucky for me we moved away from that school after ninth grade, so Kelly and her friends were only able to harass me during those three years of junior high. I heard that she got pregnant her senior year in high school. A few years after graduation, I saw her at a discount store. She was extremely heavy and was dragging around four ruffian-looking children. A friend of mine who had finished school with her said they all had different fathers (not that this is a bad thing). I remembered her bragging in eighth grade about drinking and having sex. Maybe whatever made her so damn mean was also what made her gain a lot of weight and have lots of kids by the time she was 23. She’d clearly hit her prime in junior high. She was still mean though. At the store, she came up to me and sneered, “You think you’re really hot now, don’t you, Lara?”

I remember looking at her, not knowing who she was because she looked so wretched and different. When it was obvious I hadn’t a clue about her identity, she said, “I’m Kelly, Kelly Dee,” like I was retarded or something. Funny. I realize now what she said sounded like Forrest, Forrest Gump. I said hello and turned to continue walking with my mom.

This happened decades ago, but it still follows me around. There is a man I’m interested in. In a recent conversation, after he said something about himself that impressed me to no end, I let my interest be known (at least I think I did). I then began to babble. When I get nervous, I babble, and nothing makes me more nervous than liking someone and thinking I let him know. For hours after being around him, I felt horribly humiliated and embarrassed. What the hell was I thinking? Why did I say that? Why didn’t I just shut up!?!? I berated myself. Random pieces of the conversation kept coming back to me and I wanted to go hide under a rock. I still kinda do…

Today I told my best friend Debbie about this man I like, this conversation, what I said, and how I felt. I told her how utterly and completely stupid I feel every time I think about it, wishing and hoping I had just kept it all to myself, worrying about what he must think of me. She couldn’t believe this was my reaction. I always have this reaction when I am interested in someone and let them know, I told her. She couldn’t understand it. It led me back to remembering Mike Darby and Kelly Dee in Sex Ed class in ninth grade. Oh, the pure, devilish humiliation. It must be the origin stories for the feelings I have experienced for as long as I can remember when liking someone. I know there was a brief period during my sophomoric twenties when it wasn’t like this, but I’m pretty sure that in my twenties I was much cuter than I am now and boys were usually chasing me rather than the other way around. Since I have gotten older and less nubile, I don’t have hoards of men interested in me. Not just no hoards, I have none at all, so it’s usually me lusting in secret hoping to hell I don’t give myself away. I have no fear of public speaking. I can speak in front of crowds of people. Yet let me give it away to a man I might be interested and I’m 13 again, dying inside and praying he didn’t notice.

Gads.

Blah blah blah

I know one-hundred percent one thing that causes In. Som. Ni. A. It’s alarm clocks. The damn things have an amazing capacity to ensure I don’t sleep. No alarm clock set for the morning? In. Som. Ni. A. is highly unlikely. Alarm clock set? Guaranteed no sleep. I am not saying that no alarm clock is a guarantee of sleep. I have had In. Som. Ni. A. when there is no alarm clock. But it is much more unlikely. Damn In. Som. Ni. A.

I don’t like how the internets are anymore. Blogs used to be read and commented on. Now they’re just followed and liked, like stupid facebook. You know, there are lots of things that go on blogs that are not really things one should “like.” For instance, someone discusses their pain at losing a dog or some other trauma. Really, is “liking” that appropriate? But everything has become facebookified. Plus searches only result in amazon or wikicrapia. The fucking corporations won on this front too. Bastards. Also now I get tons of follows every time I post–tons of follows from internet “marketers” who think I’m just willy nilly going to follow them back. No damn way. I have no desire to fill my feed with a bunch of internet marketing crap. The whole internet has gone fucking capitalist crazy.

There was an anthropologist named Ruth Benedict who postulated that groups of humanity are divided into two types. The first type funnels wealth from the rich to the poor. In this type, there is little violence. Women and children are safe. Everyone has what they need. People are valued for how they treat one another rather than what they accumulate. In the other type, wealth funnels from the poor to the rich. There is a lot of war. Women and children are not safe. Most don’t have what they need. People are valued for what they accumulate. One guess what kind is dominant in the world today. Why is it everyone knows the names of rich people? Why should we care? We shouldn’t. But we don’t live in the good kind. We live in the bad kind. And the planet is dying because of it. Across the board, every ecological system is in major collapse. Good fucking job humanity. Those giant brains of yours are an evolutionary failure.

I am for sure going to be gathering all of my writings here and either moving them into pdf files or putting them on another platform or just shutting it down. It hasn’t been a place for writing for me for a long time, and it’s foolish to give them my money every year for something I don’t use or want. Plus I’m not happy with the way WordPress censors women speaking out for women. They shut down blogs when they don’t like what someone says. I think that’s just crap. So this is another reason to kiss it all goodbye.

Well, gotta go fold laundry. Later everyone (said like there are a bunch of everyones out there–ha! I know better).

In. Som. Ni. A.

“Hmm. We’re having trouble finding that site.”

Well, then keep trying, bitches! Seriously. Give the damn wifi a minute to hook its ass up to the computer before turning into a big fat quitter. Jeez.

In. Som. Ni. A. That’s what I have. I diagnosed myself. I didn’t even use Dr. Internets, or read Dr. Wikipedia, or anything like that. I just figured it out all by myself because I’m brilliant and have lots of star stickers.

I thought I had cured my In. Som. Ni. A. You can read all about it here if you’re bored or don’t have a sock drawer to arrange or something like that. And while I truly did experience some relief there for a while, and although sleeping with wifi on next to my head is akin to setting off a bullhorn three inches from my ears, I didn’t actually cure anything because the shit came back with a vengeance a couple of years ago and it likes sticking around like a bad rash. It’s like foot fungus. You put on the cream between your toes and a few days later it’s like your feet are normal or something, but really, they aren’t because one day you’ll wake up with a burning fire on your feet and know that the cream did NOTHING.

That’s how the In. Som. Ni. A. is for me. Thought I beat it down. Thought I cured it. Wrong and wrong again. That’s what I get for making assumptions.

Back when I lived in Portland and during the time I had a regular doctor for a decade because I was being the poster child for public healthcare (see that here), I went to her and asked for a sleep test. My best friend suffers from some of the worst sleep apnea in the whole world and she had been listening to me lament my In. Som. Ni. A. for decades, literally. One day after I was complaining in an incoherent rambling manner (kind of like this blog, actually) because I had been without regular sleep for so long, she said, “You need to get a sleep test. What if you have some sleep disease like sleep apnea that can kill you if left untreated?”

This of course scared the crap out of me because I can’t die before my children are grown and really don’t want to die anyway because I’m too young for that shit and who would take care of my animals and I’m digressing, probably because I’m so frickin’ tired. ANYWAY, so I asked my doctor if I could have a sleep test and she laughed at me. Yes, she did. She laughed! She said the sleep testing center told her that if she sent one more person over to have a sleep test for In. Som. Ni. A. they were going to kill her. Well, they didn’t say they would kill her. I actually don’t remember what she said they said they would do to her if she sent another insomniac for a sleep test, but they would do something really, really bad, so she wouldn’t let me go. Bummer.

This is the same doctor who wouldn’t let me have cortisone shots in my frozen shoulder when it was in the freezing stage and I thought maybe I was going to throw up sometimes from the pain in it. She told me she had had two frozen shoulders and they froze, and then they unfroze and so I could just suck it up. I really liked this doctor, but sometimes she was a little bit like Katherine Hepburn or something. I’m not sure why I thought she was like Katherine Hepburn. Maybe she was a little entitled? Maybe she was like someone who had all sorts of people she could order around when her arms didn’t work so it didn’t matter that they didn’t work. I am not like that. I do not have people in my life I can order around when things don’t work. I need them to work so I can do stuff. And sometimes that shoulder would hurt so badly it felt like maybe I would vomit from the pain and I have a VERY high pain threshold, so it’s saying a lot to say it made me nauseated from the pain.

Again, ANYWAY. I don’t know how I ended up here in this story, but I did. The point is that I’m getting tired of being tired all the fucking time. I wonder if some of the many people in my life who have decided they don’t like me and don’t want to know me anymore got together and put a curse on me and gave me In. Som. Ni. A. There are enough of them, I think they could probably put out some really ugly vibes if they wanted to. But at the same time, I also don’t think I’m that important to them in their scheme of things so it’s unlikely, but I do have some sage so maybe I should just burn it anyway in an effort to rid myself of the possible curse. I will try that. I am at the point where I’ll try anything.

I got new health insurance and it’s AWESOME health insurance. I’m not with the same medical group I was with when I had the wonderful public health insurance I used to have. I don’t know if that kind exists anymore. Obamacare and all the insurance companies made sure of that. But I have this paid for health insurance and it’s wonderful and I have a new doctor, so I’m hoping maybe I can beg and they’ll find a cure for my In. Som. Ni. A. that doesn’t involve horrible drugs that make me feel like I’m stuck in slime or make me drive my car to my ex’s house in the middle of the night and climb into bed with him. That happened to me once about 11 years ago. Took this stupid sleeping pill and woke up across town in bed with my ex. Didn’t remember one minute of the experience. I have to AVOID that shit for sure. I don’t want to die, remember?

ANYWAY. Digressions seem to be par for the course in this blog post. The point is that I’m going to try and see if a new doctor has some new ideas. It can’t hurt. I’ll also try the sage burning. And maybe chanting. Or maybe moaning. I could be like Harry in When Harry Met Sally and lie in bed and moan.

Moan.

Moan.

Moan.

I can dream, can’t I?

No, I can’t, because I can’t fucking sleep and you have to be sleeping to dream.

Shit.

Turkey Decimation Day

Here again, my annual posting of the sonnet I wrote in college about turkey murder on our holiday. I’ve gone back and tried again and again to get the exact syllabic format for a completely proper sonnet, but could not find words to replace those here that would maintain the imagery and metaphoric content that I want, and so it stays the same.

Thanksgiving Sonnet
Turgid turkeys, strained into rickety wooden coffins, exit four-by-four from a ten-ton hearse. Into the turkey mill: mutilation, holocaust.

Perspiring hormones, Tom Turkey stares with one sad eye at a crumbling chimney tower belching death in putrid smoke, blackening holiday skies. Annihilating light.

Bodies, bones. None remain unfrozen. With elaborate precision he’s taken apart; neck, gizzards tied in a bag between his ribs, head ground neatly into pink hot dog slabs.

Holiday skies are crowded with turkey souls, ascending to heaven like deflated balloons.

ChickensTurkeys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lovely film that all should watch is My Life as a Turkey. Watch it online here.

There was only one time in US history when refugees actually did wipe everyone out—and we’ll be celebrating it on Thursday.” — John Oliver

Contemplating the Bar in Denny’s

Why would anyone want to go to a bar in Denny’s? Dimly lit by pink fluorescent Oregon lottery lights, the smell of stale cigarettes hanging about even though cigarettes have been banned in bars for nearly  a decade, I can’t imagine anyone actually choosing to go there, yet people do. Is it a case of just wanting a bar and it’s close so they go in? Is it gambling addiction? Is it simply pure boredom? Is it such thorough disconnection from the self that there isn’t any consideration at all, just a walking in and ordering without any conscious thought? Probably all of this and more.

I try to imagine a life where a person would choose to spend time in a bar like this. I am certain that there are those who do not find such places unpleasant. Maybe the smell of cheap perfumed restroom soap mixed with ages old cigarettes is a comfort. It slightly sickens me, but I’m the princess and the pea when it comes to stuff like this. I notice the slightest unnatural smell. I feel something rubbing my thigh under leggings. It bugs and bugs. I finally slide my hand down to figure out what the irritant is and realize it is a speck of hay no bigger than a grain of sand. The smallest crumbs on sheets are like mini razors to my skin. If I walk into a building and music is louder than it should be, or if multiple televisions are blaring bright and flashing, especially in stores or restaurants, I have to leave. My body can’t take it. It vibrates in response, irritated and reactive. I’m fine in concerts or music venues where I have chosen a specific loud sound, but even then, I’ll be tired when I leave.

Because of how I am, I’m often startled at many humans’ seeming ability to ignore what is to me sensually annoying and awful. Even if I’m reading a novel and one of the characters experiences something that would make me cringe, I can hardly stand it and will feel the commensurate response that I might feel as if I actually experienced whatever it is that is happening in the book.

I don’t by any means believe I am superior or more connected than others. However, it seems radically apparent to me that most of humanity in our civilization is drastically disconnected, to the point where they seek out means to maintain that dissociation. Silence is anathema to most, as is visual quiet, because in this state, in time it is nearly impossible to avoid ourselves and our lack of connection. That disconnection is uncomfortable. It forces us to see what we don’t want to see, and to feel what we don’t want to feel. If we feel all that we have been avoiding, it becomes overwhelming.

If we do allow ourselves to reconnect to the earth and everything in it, when stripped of all belief and ego, what is left is the pulsating vibration of life and love. It ebbs and flows. It allows you to observe the stories that surround us and we are able to fully connect with life–the eternal I–and dissolve the separation between the self and the other. There is no other in this place because it is all connected. Earth is her own being and we are a part of it.

The Nature Program produced a great documentary called My Life as a Turkey. (It’s available to watch online for free.) A man imprinted himself as the turkeys’ mother by caring for and hatching 16 wild turkey eggs. He then lived with them as they went through the different stages of development. Wild turkeys are 20 million years old as a species and humans are less than 200 thousand. It didn’t take him long to wonder who was more conscious (always in the present moment and not lost in future thinking or avoiding the present as much as possible) as he observed their innate knowing of other species. They knew who to fear and who were compatible species in the forests.

Nature can teach us so much about who we are if we learn to listen with our hearts and whole bodies instead of our chattering ego minds and the constant blaring clutter we use to obliterate that connection. Humanity has a lot to relearn and unwind collectively. Frankly I doubt our species will get there. I often ponder why Earth would allow itself to develop into a cancer that would destroy it, but maybe like cancer in us where our own cells go rogue, we too are the rogue parts of Earth, taking over and destroying that which sustains us.

Such is the conclusion I reach by contemplating the bar in Denny’s.

Pregnant Mares Pee More

My mare is pregnant. It seems that she urinates more frequently than when she was not pregnant. Every morning the corner of her stall has way more pee in it than it did before she was pregnant. Since pregnant humans urinate more frequently I figured it was entirely possible this is a mammal thing and not a human thing. In an effort to determine the accuracy of this postulation I went online and searched Do pregnant mares pee more?

All I found was post after post about Premarin™ and how pregnant mares are abused to steal the hormone from their urine so humans can look younger for a few more years. Do pregnant mares urinate more frequently? Same result. Pregnant horses frequent urination? Same result. No matter what search phrase I tried, if it included pregnant and horse or mare, I got the same result, posts all about humans abusing horses to steal their hormones. Gads, humans make me squirm.

Finally, I gave up and tried Do pregnant mammals urinate more frequently? That brought up post after post about how pregnant humans urinate more frequently. Nothing about other mammals. One post about how much elephants pee in general, but not while pregnant.  Guess I’m going to have to call the vet and ask (I tried while writing this but since it is Saturday, they are closed). My suspicion based on the reason humans pee more frequently while pregnant is that horses do indeed pee more frequently.

While cleaning stalls this morning, I was thinking about my inability to find the answer to this question on the internets and decided I should write about it so that if someone else out there searches for the answer to this question, maybe they’ll find my blog and I can answer it for them. After I call the vet and ask, I’ll post the answer so it will be here for all to read about instead of finding posts about humans torturing pregnant horses.

Loose Socks

Socks have to be in deep lockup for me to wear them. I can’t stand them loose; if they’re loose, they drive me bananas. So…only jailed socks for me.

I wanted to know if I was really a ghost so I tried walking through a wall. It didn’t work. Either I’m not a ghost or as a ghost I’m unable to walk through walls. If it’s the latter, that is somewhat disappointing because being able to walk through walls would be one of the most fun things about being a ghost. That and invisibility.

This culture…

…makes me want to blow something up.

Link to ban pig cages. Click this link if you want to sign an online petition that will do nothing and go nowhere, but will make you feel better for having done “something.”

I have spent the last 3 days nursing a baby chicken that will probably die. She is in my bra right now, keeping warm against my breast, peeping when I move. She is weak and I’m not sure what is wrong with her. I prize her little beak open with a toothpick and pop in pieces of chick feed. I dip her beak in water laced with probiotics and electrolytes. She was born in an incubator, fed some gel with vitamins in it, and mailed in a box with 24 other babies the day she was born. Her mother lays eggs. Constantly. She will never know this baby and her baby will never know her mother. These eggs are placed in the incubator that makes the babies that get shipped around the world. It takes too much time for Mama to brood those babies. Better to get them in an assembly line and send them out. Oh, and before they’re mailed out, someone who is trained to run their thumb along their vent, essentially their anus and egg tube, ascertains whether they are male or female. If the person isn’t careful they can kill the chick by destroying its internal organs. This sometimes happens, but you know. Collateral damage and all that. So they separate the girls and the boys. The males, no one talks about what happens to those chicks, though in death culture, it’s a pretty good bet that it’s nothing pretty. Those who pass the test are mailed out. They usually toss in a couple of extra because it’s a given that some won’t make it. The weak ones. The weak ones, who if they get as far as the farm store or the home of the well meaning buyer, will likely die soon and get picked on in the process. Nature, you know. She’s a bitch. Except this isn’t fucking nature. It’s fucking insane and I’ve been just grieving it because to me, this entire way of doing things is a perfect metaphor for just how fucked up this culture is. Taking these babies BABIES! and fucking MAILING them. We have no soul.

In any case, I went to the farm store to buy some food for my horses. I peeked in the chicken cage to see the babies and I saw her sitting there, not doing well. A couple of the strong ones went and pecked her, and yeah, if it really were nature and she were out in the wild and were weak, that would be the best place to leave her. But this wasn’t fucking nature. This was a steel cage with red light bulbs and people staring in at these babies, so I opened the door and I scooped her out and I have kept her on me ever since. She has slept two nights sleeping in a bandana around my neck because it keeps her warm. Then tonight I turned on the facebook—a foolish thing to do, because there was this damn online petition to stop the caging of pigs and the photo accompanying it was so awful and so TYPICAL and so like the situation with these baby birds. Right. Sign an online petition and maybe someone will give a shit and ban these cages? Somehow, I doubt it. But the people “signing” it can feel like they did their duty and then get on with their lives. Fuck. Part of me doesn’t begrudge them trying to survive. But part of me does. Part of me begrudges them a damn lot. I’ll say something on the facebook and be that person again who turns the mirror at people and they’ll remove me from their notification list so their posts of online petitions don’t show up in my feed  and then I’ll tell them how useless this is. So turn me off because they don’t want to fucking know and this MAKES ME CRAZY. I post a happy picture of the baby chicks who were healthy frolicking on my desk and everyone gives me a thumbs up. I post all the bullshit that is wrong with this world and it’s crickets. My posts are a veritable field of crickets. Lonely crickets chirping through the night. No one likes the naysayers.

Ack. Why am I writing this? So I might feel a tenuous connection to someone, anyone who might get it. Might understand this frustration and grief. I HATE this culture with my entire being and soul. Saying it doesn’t make it better. I only hope I can save this one baby chick from this fucked up messed up WRONG world that hurts so much I can barely take it. It really and truly makes me want to blow something up.

Addendum the next day: I realized this morning that getting stuck in being angry just keeps the ugly going. Rather, I am going to continue to focus on being decent and loving. This doesn’t mean I’m not angry; just that if I think about blowing things up it just makes me feel worse. Doesn’t the anger come from the deepest love? It’s the manifestation of the anger that can be soul sucking. This culture likes to suck our soul through helplessness and frustration. I will instead put all my focus into loving this little darling right here. She made it through another night. Her breakfast this morning was cottage cheese, which was way easier to feed than chick crumbles. She perked right up then got super sleepy. Her little eyes closed, then her head gradually fell forward onto her little beak. Snore… Oh my goodness, she is the most precious little dear. I am in love with her sweetness. My poodle Oliver is lying on my lap snoring too. The sleepy family. They are wonderful.

Addendum later the next day: She died. I’m lucky I got to spend the time with her that I did. She was a blessing.

Time Passing in the USA

I was driving through Springfield. I saw the sign for Thurston High School. It reminded me of the shooting there. I struggled to remember the boy’s name. Kit? Kid? Kip. Kip Kinkel. I was driving. I asked my 18 year old to look up the date Kip Kinkel shot up Thurston High School. It was May 20, 1998, nearly twenty years ago. He only killed two, and wounded 25. Then came Columbine with its bloodbath of deaths and it is used as the yardstick against which we measure, and Springfield and Thurston High are largely forgotten, as are so many where only a handful are killed. Shortly after the shooting in Florida, an article was going around on social media challenging the allegation that there have been 18 shootings since the first of the year because in some cases no one died, or in others, the shooting was a suicide. I guess if lots of people don’t die or there isn’t outward hate then it doesn’t matter. What a fucking joke.

After Sandy Hook I wrote Safety is a Straw Man. In it I argued that the reason gun control legislation has nothing to do with safety or infringing on rights really, but the profits of the gun industry. Since I wrote that, a few others have said the same thing, but this topic never really comes to the fore. Those who don’t want control put out their memes on social media claiming guns don’t kill people, people do. Those who want gun control put out their memes about how fucking useless are the platitudes on thoughts and prayers. Meanwhile, the politicians and power mongers do nothing because ultimately they know there isn’t a damn thing the population can do about it. If we could, we would have. They keep their place of power, the gun manufacturers keep making their fortunes, and they all laugh at us fighting with one another on their way to the bank.

Yeah, I’m cynical.

I was in my twenties when a mentally ill 15 year old, white, male killed two children and wounded 25 other people in Springfield. I did not have children yet. Now my oldest daughter is 18 and in college and my youngest in school. I have acquired my teaching degree and license, and I have spent hours learning how to react if a school shooting occurs, all the procedures and codes and charts that are essentially about how not to get murdered and to know how and when to hide. A lot of damn time has passed and still nothing has been done. Calls for action. Horrible, heart-wrenching speeches. Hand wringing. Thoughts and prayers (which, if this shit worked, would have by now, one would think). Nothing changes.

To me all of these mass shootings are just another symptom of the brutal dysfunction of the United States. Everything this country stands for is a lie. Our military bases populate the world because the US is the world’s biggest warmonger (Are there German military bases in the US? Are there Japanese military bases in the US? Then why are our military bases there?). It is the bastard child of the almighty imperialist abusers, and it took the lessons of its forebears to heart. Still to this day if those in power want something they take it. The average citizen might not agree with stealing native American burial grounds for oil, but so what? If those in power want it, they take it, and they have the police and enough citizens to agree with them to get it done. The average citizen might know they are suffering under enormous medical debt, but those in power refuse to give up their profits so we can medically take care of ourselves. Average citizens might not want to blow off the tops of mountains or reroute rivers or kill wolves and polar bears, but those in power want what is under the mountain or the water in the river or the land where the wolves and polar bears live, and they take it. Rugged individualism is the lie that one by one, sitting in our bunkers with our guns, we can thrive. On an individual basis, most people in this country are decent and good, but also damaged and traumatized, and victims of damage and trauma have to spend their time taking care of themselves as best they can. They don’t have the ability or confidence that they can stop the almighty US of A and its narcissistic bullying. They know, have been taught since birth, have been brought up and propagandized to believe there is nothing they can do.

So here we sit, twenty years after a damaged boy damaged countless other lives, and it will happen again and again because hand wringing, thinking, and praying doesn’t stop those in power who take what they want when they want it. Guns make a profit. Controlling those guns will slow that profit and those in power will make sure this never happens. This way of being is a cancer on the soul of an ugly nation and an even uglier civilization with a long, ugly history of taking what it wants when it wants it. That we have a “leader” who symbolizes this isn’t an accident. The individual traumas that go unhealed, the wounds we carry and pass on, have created a collective that has metastasized into a place where children are shot up in schools every week, where children are stolen from their parents because they are brown and then shipped to countries they have never been to, where going to have a broken arm fixed costs a month’s wages, where a month’s wages won’t buy shelter and food, where mountaintops are blown off, where oil is sucked and spilled on the ground, where rivers are rerouted, where men can beat and rape their wives and children, but if those women or children kill them in defense, they will spend their lives in prison, where police murder black people just because they are black and suffer no consequences, where…

I could go on and on. The list is so long, the dysfunction of this culture and this country is so pervasive and complete that it is the norm. It shuts people down. It creates more of the same: rampant, hideous narcissism and the consequential dysfunction and trauma. We can only address it if we bring it down to a much smaller level.

Yesterday I saw an article that told the story of one teacher who is stopping gun violence in schools. She isn’t packing a pistol or learning how to better hide. She isn’t doing anything that is a band aid to the problem created by this sort of violence. Daily, she pays attention to her students. She asks the students who they want to sit with and has them write it down. She also asks the students to write little excerpts about how they are feeling. She then analyzes the information on a regular basis to determine which children are being left out, which children are likely the lonely ones, and she addresses these issues individually. One by one, she is trying to find the children who are hurting or lonely, and then goes to them individually to try and assuage their pain. She is bringing down these problems to an individual level to help and heal pain. It isn’t easy, but why should this kind of work be easy?

All of us can do this. In each moment, we can react to that moment, and work not to react to previous moments of pain. Anyone who isn’t so stuck in their own pain and trauma can help those who are. Those who are stuck in pain and trauma can try to heal themselves so that they don’t create pain and trauma for others. We can resist the tyranny of this culture in every way possible. I’m not trying to offer platitudes and comfort for the downtrodden in a single blog post, but I do believe that if enough people stopped hand wringing and blaming and participating in a culture that creates isolation, rage, and damage, we can make some small difference, and this has to be better than what we have now.

Animal Farm on Steroids

A small boy’s father abuses and rapes his mother. This goes on for years until the mother kills herself. The boy can’t imagine being a man. Men hurt. He doesn’t want to be one so he changes his name, his clothes, his hair, and becomes a girl. Girls might get hurt, but they aren’t rapists.

A girl is molested by her uncle. For years he sneaks into her bedroom and rapes her. Finally, at age thirteen, she decides to tell her father, hoping he will stop his brother from doing these things. She works up her courage and goes to him. He looks at her like she is insane and tells her to stop making up stories. He tells her that if any of what she says is true, it’s because she asked for it. He tells her that girls are for men to have sex with so she should just grow up and go with the flow. Feeling destroyed, she determines that she will not be a woman. She changes her name, her clothes, her hair, and becomes a man. If she isn’t a girl, then she can’t be hurt.

A young boy feels alienated from his peers. His parents divorced when he was five, and he hasn’t felt quite right since. His mother and her new husband are extremely conservative. They make him go to church four times a week, which he hates. The church tells him homosexuality is a sin and that homosexuals will die in the fiery bowels of hell. He knows he likes boys, and is scared that he might go to hell. His father is more supportive, but he only gets to stay with his father every other weekend. There is a group of kids at his school who tell him that he doesn’t have to be a boy. He can become a girl. He can change his identity. He decides to do this. At least if he becomes a girl then he won’t end up in hell for liking boys.

There are many reasons why biological males wish to be female and vice versa. For many, the desire to be something different comes from a place of pain and trauma. The change in identity becomes a way to deal with the hurt, an attempt to heal a wound that feels almost too deep to ameliorate. It is difficult not to sympathize with the person in this situation, to feel empathy and compassion for their pain. It is from this place of compassion that most people support identity changes. It is automatically assumed that someone who is making such a change must need to (otherwise, why would they do it?), and why not support this?

What has followed is that well-meaning people, in an attempt to show compassion for victims of trauma, label their bathrooms for “those who identify,” or cheer in victory when a trans person is elected or appointed into a place of power. Yet I very much doubt that when Unitarian churches added “or those who identify” to their female bathrooms they gave much thought to the female who had been raped and didn’t want to share an intimate space with a male, even if that male was traumatized as well. I very much doubt it was their intention to sweep thousands of years of male oppression under the rug when they allowed males into this female-only space. Unfortunately, though, that’s exactly what they did. And this is a problem.

What is essentially eliminated in these actions are the thousands of years of normalized violence against females (usually by heterosexual males). (There has been so much hand-wringing and exclaiming over the sheer numbers of #metoos, when really, what should be surprising is if there are any women left who haven’t experienced some form of violence or oppression.) The real tragedy is that oppression and violence are common. It is normalized in most places. It results in continuing trauma and violence against anyone who doesn’t conform to strict norms and often excused by systems that exacerbate and were created to keep things the way they are. Most of the time, the need to change one’s sexual identity is because of this normalized violence and oppression. If we didn’t live in a world where fathers raped mothers, or people think homosexuals should burn in hell, or uncles (or fathers or brothers and on and on) molested children, there would likely be no need to cut off breasts or penises to escape the pain.

Yet some men decide they want to become women, and although they may be doing so because they were the victims of violence, for whatever reason they use their reaction as an excuse to be controlling and violent. This very vocal and very abusive group of males who call themselves trans women are violent and abusive to anyone who supports female-only spaces or anyone who calls for an end to violence against women, or even anyone who has the temerity to suggest that they have experienced sexual violence, as if the violence of the trans person is the only violence that counts, and if they speak out about their own personal experiences, they should have more violence done to them. These trans activists have managed to get all the progressives to agree with them, using the compassion people feel for those who have suffered trauma and pain to get them to automatically jump on board with anything trans, without really putting any kind of critical thought into what is being done. Any statements questioning the means of acceptance of trans people are automatically labeled transphobic. Any questions on the subject are automatically shut down. Any attempt to engage or explain is stopped through force with name calling, threats of violence, and in some cases, actual violence. Any stories of one’s own experiences of pain and trauma are belittled and shamed. These perpetrators of violence and threats are males who have decided that they are female and therefore they want access to female experience and female spaces, and they don’t like being told no. When females question their intrusions into female experiences and spaces, their response is decidedly male when they start talking about committing rape or murder against those who would dare to question them.

Here are some examples:

A long time social justice activist, socialist, Green, and civil rights lawyer was cyberbullied on social media by a group of trans-activists and their supporters. The bullies called her a TERF (“Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist”). They called her a “Nazi.” They called her a “rapist.” They called her a “racist.” They called her a supporter of “genocide” and a hateful bigot who deserved to die. Several people contacted her employer in an unsuccessful attempt to get her fired from her job. The reasons for these hateful actions were that she had written that people who are born as female are oppressed on the basis of being female, and that males often do not recognize this. That’s it.

A woman ran for the school board in Minnesota, hoping to fix problems like lead in drinking water and improving the quality of education. She also took a strong stand against school bullying, including on the basis of gender identity. Because she expressed gender-critical views, within 24 hours of announcing her candidacy, bullies began attacking her. On social media she was called a “loathsome snake” who spreads “venom” and “hate.” One person told her to go home and masturbate. She was threatened with death. Ultimately, she dropped out of the school board race because she couldn’t focus on the issues that were important to her.

The reality is that women have experienced violence at the hands of men for as long as there has been civilization and men pretending to be women are no exception when it comes to perpetrating violence.

What has happened is that a rather large number of people who support these people who have attempted to change their biological sex identity, in their attempt to be “supportive,” automatically presume that anyone who questions the policies and actions of trans persons must automatically be “transphobic,” and that they can have no valid purpose or argument. The efforts to be inclusive have turned truly bizarre. Major midwife groups have changed their guidelines to take women out of their language, changing “woman” to “person” in order not to exclude transmen (women who consider themselves men (as if somehow they are no longer women, so using the word woman would exclude them)). Young males decide to become females and are then allowed to participate in sports as females, their male physical bodies and strengths notwithstanding. A city in Canada passed an ordinance where misgendering someone can get you fined. Parents give children as young as four irreversible sex hormones because the child thinks they might be a boy instead of a girl or vice versa (apparently a child can make a decision this drastic this young, but they don’t have the judgment to drink alcohol before they’re 21?). It is the world of Animal Farm on steroids. Say it is so and it is so, even when reality says otherwise.

When actress Rose McGowan spoke out about the abuse she suffered and that millions of women suffer daily, a trans woman screamed her down. He disagreed with some remarks she had made in the prior year stating that the experiences of trans women are not the same as biological women. Essentially, his argument was that his experiences and those of others like him should override all others’ experiences of trauma and abuse. Rather than support McGowan in her willingness to come forward and describe her experiences as an assault survivor, Seattle Arts and Lectures cancelled her speech. In today’s world, speaking one’s truth about an experience that half the population lives with on a daily basis isn’t enough. That experience must be truncated by the male experience and if it isn’t, it will be silenced.

We must not conflate the taking care of those who have been traumatized with the desire of abusers to act with violence and cruelty against those they want to control. The mistake so many well-meaning people make is to assume that because someone is trans that they are automatically to be supported and that their version is the only truth. People must stop claiming that speaking out for women, calling for protection of female-only spaces, and ending violence against women is transphobic. Just because someone calls a person a transphobe doesn’t mean that person is a transphobe. People must stop believing that describing our experiences somehow negates those of a trans person who has been harmed. It is possible for the two to exist simultaneously. It is even possible to understand that the two are sides of the same coin. However we will never get to that discussion as long as those who have some genuine criticism to offer are automatically shut down (or shouted down, or beaten down, or shut out). There are real issues around transgenderism that should be discussed without fear of repercussion against those who think there are major problems with allowing men into women-only spaces, with making biological changes to children, and with erasing women by claiming that biological sex is a choice and social construct and not biological reality. This doesn’t discount those who have experienced abuse and trauma, it just adds a sorely needed dose of reality to a world that increasingly seems hell bent on insanity.

A Trip Down Toothbrush Lane

Are there toothbrush design teams? What I’m wondering is if there are people whose job is to design various toothbrushes. These people would come up with bristle thickness and placement, handle designs, widths, colors, etc. Then they would get together with other designers from the same company and decide which ones to make. Or maybe all the toothbrush designs have already happened so now companies just pull from old archives. Maybe they can mix and match, take brush heads from one design, mix with handles from another, and colors from yet another, to create a brand new toothbrush. They could have multiple options, depending on how many choices they have to pull from.

I wonder if there are toothbrush wars. Oral B, Colgate, Gum, Sonicare, Reach, or Crest (I’m sure I left some out) having it out over whose design was theirs. The way corporations are–the truly litigious among us and NOT average citizens as those who would silence us would have us believe–I would not be surprised. There could be a movie about it, with corporate moles sneaking into the design rooms of other companies to take their toothbrush secrets. It’s fascinating to contemplate.

Actually, as I began to contemplate this, I did a little internets searching and discovered many Chinese companies selling toothbrushes in massive bulk. You can get “cheap” toothbrushes for 15 cents apiece. You just have to buy 30,000 of them. What a great deal! I can just imagine the island of plastic these will create in the ocean. Colorful and massive. Ooh! I can get a bamboo toothbrush for only 25 cents, and I only have to buy one! What a great deal.

Further searching produced a site dedicated specifically to toothbrush designers who wish to avoid “ugly” toothbrushes. My god. A perusal of this is like viewing a microcosm of so much that is wrong in civilization today, with its hyper dependence on technology and ability to spend time in useless ways. There are toothbrushes you can connect to your phone to “track” your brushing. And toothbrushes that play music so you’ll brush longer. Toothbrushes that clean with “nanotech ions” instead of toothpaste. Minimalist toothbrushes that are alternatives to “ugly” toothbrushes. Toothbrushes with “two-tone” bristles because you know, the two tones in the average drugstore toothbrushes are so last decade. There was even a toothbrush with a hole and a tunnel in the arm so you could run water into it, thereby creating a toothbrush water fountain. My, oh my. Oh! And a special, “functional” package to carry around your tooth-cleaning twig, should you be so inclined.

The ways in which humanity entertains itself. It boggles the mind.

I had no idea. I just had a silly idea to wonder about toothbrush designers because last week my old toothbrush wasn’t doing its job (I always know it’s time to switch when the back of my teeth still feel fuzzy after brushing) so I went to my toothbrush stash (yes, I admit, I have a stash) and picked out another toothbrush. I used it for a few days but it was so harsh on my gums I went to the stash and exchanged it for one that turned out to be identical to the one I had replaced. The prior one had an enormous head and a clunky handle with even clunkier primary colors. The bristles were super stiff. It hurt to use, even gently. I’m not sure whose mouth it was intended for. A horse? The other toothbrush has a delicate small head with soft bristles (in only one color–the shame!) and a two-tone, smaller handle. All this led to the thought process behind this post and now here I am. I have whiled away 20 minutes and know more than I ever thought I would about toothbrushes. I can’t even believe the crap that is out there for people to waste their money on. No wonder Earth is covered in garbage.

Yum

I love chocolate. Specifically I love dark chocolate. I do not really care for milk chocolate. I love hot chocolate, too.

I also like shelled pistachios. I don’t mind the shelled kind, but the delayed gratification aspect of eating them with shells on can be slightly frustrating. Also if the shelled kind are salty, my lips hurt after a bit when I eat them.

I really love ginger beer and ginger ale. The best kinds are the ones with lots of ginger in them. That Seagram’s crap shouldn’t even be allowed to call itself ginger ale–there isn’t any ginger in it! My best favorite right now is Bundaberg ginger beer. Oh, my. It is simply delicious.

Sometimes when I’m at the barn I nibble on pieces of hay. I really love alfalfa. It’s got a good, grassy taste and it’s kind of heavy. It is good to have a piece between my teeth while brushing my horse.

These are my observations for today on things I like to eat.

I am Boring

I think I might be quite possibly the most boring person in the world. One of those people who, when they speak, others look at as if to say, “Did you say something?” or “Um, really? How interesting” when what I said was not interesting, but they were just being polite. Inside they are wondering how much longer they have to pretend to listen, or when they will be able to go and organize the pantry or something.

I’m unfortunately so boring that there isn’t even any irony in it. I am not stupid and boring, so that if I told the story of stepping on a ping pong ball and causing Bunny Bixler to not complete her ping pong winning streak, everyone would look at me agog as if to ask, “Is she serious?” I’m not even like the boring guy who talks about insurance sales. At least that guy has a monotone voice that can help others sleep. I’m just a void, a blah.

This boringness of mine might be a good thing. If I committed a crime, all of the witnesses would forget what I looked like. “I think maybe she had blonde hair? Or maybe brown? I’m not sure.”

This is even assuming they noticed me in the first place. “I thought there was someone hanging around, but maybe I’m wrong.”

“The person might have been wearing a grey t-shirt. Or a black one? Can’t recall. Jeans perhaps? Or leggings? Dunno.”

Yep. Boooooorrring. That’s me in a nutshell.

Turkey Genocide Day Sonnet

In honor yet again of Turkey Genocide Day, here is my annual sonnet. I would also like to provide, to those who are interested, the link to a wonderful documentary about turkeys called My Life as a Turkey. It is a fascinating story about a man who lived with some turkeys. It’s well worth your time. View it HERE.

Thanksgiving Sonnet
Perspiring hormones, Tom Turkey stares with one sad eye at a crumbling chimney tower belching death in putrid smoke, blackening holiday skies. Annihilating light.

Bodies, bones. None remain unfrozen. With elaborate precision he’s taken apart; neck, gizzards tied in a bag between his ribs, head ground neatly into pink hot dog slabs.

Holiday skies are crowded with turkey souls, ascending to heaven like deflated balloons.

For the Birds

A month ago this would have been 7 am and I would have been waking in the hours before it anyway, so trying to sleep through it now is an exercise in futility. This stupid human construct called the time change wreaks havoc on my already toss and turny body. Insomnia is a constant companion. It will go away for awhile. Turning wifi off near my bed made a huge difference. But there is also the brain that tosses and turns too much. When I remember meditation, this helps a lot of the time, but I don’t always remember it and so…

I think if I suggested that the time change is a conspiracy to mess with our minds I would be accused of being a conspiracy theorist, the new fastest way to shut down inquiry. Yet I wouldn’t put it past the deviants running this shit show to sit rubbing their hands in glee as the population crashes its cars and goes even more crazy every time the clock shifts forward and back, forward and back. It’s just more evidence to me that these kinds of human constructs are for the birds.

What is that expression, for the birds? I went and looked it up. It’s an American expression from the army shortened from “shit for the birds” because birds ate horse poop, so something that was for the birds was considered drivel, nonsense, irrelevant matter. Hmmm. I doubt it was nonsense, drivel, or irrelevant matter for the birds who ate the shit. Even calling it shit belittles it, somehow. It actually is part of the cycle of life, and of many insects for birds or other animals to eat manure. All the way around, humans find a way to make what Earth comes up with meaningless.

How did I get here? This is what happens when I’m too tired and wake up before I’m ready. My subscapularis is in its own little personal hell, so when I woke and couldn’t sleep I used my little thumby tool to rub out the friction between the muscle fibers, then still couldn’t sleep so played cards on my phone (an activity I know is useless and also not helpful to sleep because of the blue LED light in the phone but I did it anyway). Then I started thinking about the time change and looked at the clock and discovered it was six and then wrote this. I am nothing if not a master of writing useless stuff when I’m tired. But hey, now I know where for the birds came from. They can come and peck through this post.

Identify with Truth

We live in an alternate reality, a reality where if we say up is down and down is up then it must be so, and anyone who dares question this better run for the hills because they will come for you. In today’s reality, the child who pointed out that the emperor was naked would have been stoned for pointing out the obvious because pointing out the obvious and stating the truth means that the child is infringing on the rights of the emperor to identify as wearing fancy clothes.

Yesterday I stumbled into one of these modern “conversations” (if you could call it that) that was stepping into a rabbit hole of this modern insanity. I honestly don’t even know what got things going. I did not read through the entire thread. I just saw that someone had posted that The Midwives Alliance of North America was saying that if someone claimed men cannot give birth, then that person was “transphobic” and their words were “hate speech.”

Genuinely baffled, I asked the question, “How is it that stating the obvious is transphobic? What does phobia have to do with any of it?” I do know that the use of the word phobic has been attached to any kind of group hatred, when it really isn’t a phobia, but the label can suit. However here, I could not see how the label suited. How is saying men can’t give birth hatred of trans people?

I also pointed out that in claiming that men can give birth, it is  a complete dismissal of my experience as a female who has carried a child in my body and has given birth, and all of the attendant experiences of being a female outside of birthing and mothering. I said, “Please tell me how it is “transphobic” to point out something that is simply true? Where is the phobia in this? I don’t think it’s fair that a man can compare his body to mine. He has not and will never give birth. He has not and will never experience carrying a child in his womb; indeed he has no womb. He has not and will never experience what it is to be female, even if he cloaks himself in all that a female would experience. He will never experience menstruation and everything associated with it. Why is it considered “transphobic” to state this very obvious fact? It dismisses and diminishes my pregnancy and birth experience. It dismisses and diminishes the legacy of being a woman. It is thievery to try and take this away.

In response, I was called a TERF and some other acronyms. I was called a transphobe. I was told my words were “hate speech,” and told by one person that they “knew several men who had wombs and had given birth.”

I sat and stared at my computer screen in complete and utter bafflement. WTF? Had some scientific calamity worse than cloning happened whereby humans decided they wanted men to have wombs and give birth so now it is so? Seriously? Are they transplanting them? How are they doing the hormones? Again, WTF?

Then it dawned on me. Oh! I get it. It’s a labeling thing, a language problem. The person who gave birth was actually a biological female. She just called herself a man and lived as a man so she is a man–or rather he is a man–so therefore men gave birth. What a fucking clusterfuck.

So I said so. I said, This is a label thing. You’re labeling biological females as men, so then men can give birth. I get it. Then I got online screamed at for stating this, telling me that it isn’t a “label” thing, but an “identity” thing, said very sarcastically because I’m clearly not in the know and I’m infringing on someone else’s rights by failing to label the identity thing the identity thing by calling it a labeling thing.

Honestly, before this, I thought I got it. I figured someone wants to identify as something else, more power to them, but it doesn’t change their biology. I also knew that there are some very rabid and abusive biological men who call themselves transwomen who verbally abuse and threaten violence on anyone who dares to question this identity, regardless of biology. Apparently there are also those who know “transmen” and who are “transmen” (biological females calling themselves men) who will also verbally assault and threaten violence on anyone who dares question their reality, too. This is a rabbit hole, and a scary one at that. On college campuses across the US, this “reality” is taught as reality called “Queer Theory,” and anyone who questions it is shut down, often viciously, including losing their livelihoods. This is insane. What is more insane is that the Midwives Alliance of North America, a group that purportedly exists to help females give birth, a group specifically by and for mothers, is filled with those who buy into this nonsense.

The people “yelling” at me for daring to question their identity reality asked me why I thought it was offensive that men could step in and take over my female experience. They asked how in the world does this impact me?

My response was that first, it is intellectually dishonest to on the one hand claim that individuals who want to identify as something biologically impossible can’t be questioned about this, but when I claim as an individual that I find it offensive for a man to co-opt my experience as a woman and as a mother, I am being abusive. At every avenue they shut down any discourse. Because many people who identify as something other than their biology have often been the victims of horrible abuse, those who support them see any questioning of their choices as abusive, too. They can’t see their own abusive behavior however, quickly jumping to the offensive while believing themselves on the defensive in protection of these victims who identify.

My second response was to say that I have decided that I am going to identify as a black woman. I have kinky hair; I’ll just dye it black. I will go and tan until I’m dark brown and wear brown contact lenses. I will change my name to Lakeisha and hang out with my homies. I’ll listen to Beyoncé and Rihanna because they are my sistahs. I’ll wear a lot of bling. I can share in the black experience of exploitation and slavery. I can fight to ride on the front of the bus, holding the deaths of Hayes and Mary Turner in my heart because their experience is my experience because I want it to be and therefore it is so.

All of this identity bullshit, and yes, I’m beginning to consider it all bullshit, is just co opting stereotypes. It is fully buying into the culture that creates the stereotype. If you aren’t a part of the dominant culture that creates the stereotype then you wouldn’t have a stereotype to co-opt because the stereotypes come from the dominant culture.

If I want to identify as a black woman, I’ll take the stereotypes of what it means to be a black woman and appropriate them, tell everyone that this is how I identify, and then it is true. If anyone questions me, then they are being hateful and infringing on my rights. I am changing my identity in response to abuse by the patriarchal system and the dominant culture, so as a victim of this system, I have a right to do so.

How is this in any way different than co-opting the stereotypes of the biology of male and females and then abusing anyone who questions it? It isn’t. A biological male who wants to claim my experience as a female who has carried children in my womb and given birth and is a mother and has experienced all there is to experience as a female is offensive. My saying so isn’t hate speech, it’s truth. Those who call truth hate speech are just the same as abusers in every other situation: they are projecting onto their victims what they are and what they do. Threatening me, verbally abusing me, trying to shut down these words is abuse.  Considering the dominant culture is completely abusive and well, domineering, none of this is surprising. It is the product of the people of the lie, where lies are truth and the truth is a lie. Keep everyone guessing so no one knows what is real anymore.

I used to work in an office with a sociopath. For the first six months, I thought everything was hunky dory. Gradually however, I started to question what was right in front of my face. Am I insane? I wondered. Wait, did I just experience that, or am I losing my mind? Over and over, I questioned reality and my sanity. When I finally reached out and asked a women who was becoming my friend if the insane reality I was experiencing was indeed reality, she confirmed it. No, you are not insane. Yes, what you are experiencing is true. Yes, the person causing all of this is an abusive sociopath.

This is how it is in this culture. It is a sociopathic, insane system where up is down and down is up and if you question it then you are the bad guy. Little children may not point out that the emperor is naked.

We must all resist this. We must all continue to speak the truth even if those who would co-opt and change and act like the sociopaths that they are would try to shut us down and threaten us with violence. Identify with truth, even if it kills you. It is only in refusing to participate in the house of mirrors madness they would have us believe is reality can we have any hope of shutting it down.

Round Peg in a Square Hole

In 2008 I sold a house. I had remodeled the house back to its original character, pulling out 70s carpet and mobile home wallboard, and installing built-ins and woodworking true to the house’s 1920’s charm. After the sale, I realized I had forgotten a little ceramic sun, a smiling cherub made by a local artist. I went to the house and asked the buyers if they had the sun. They told me they had thrown it away. Shocked and hurt, I said goodbye and left. Over the next several months, I heard from neighbors I remained in touch with that they had ripped out the built-in bookshelves, torn out all the shrubs in the back yard, and cut down the giant tree in the front yard. After hearing this I vowed never to return to this place into which I had poured literally years of my life making beautiful. I did not want to see how it had been ruined.

Five years ago I bought another bungalow, my first after the sale of the house in 2008. Built in 1941, it had been a rental for over 20 years. The seller chose mine from several offers based on the letter I wrote to her telling her about my two daughters and my desire to make a home for them. I loved this little house. It was darling and sweet, with an arch between the dining and living room, and tiny arches over the door bell on the wall and the phone nook. This little place was simply lovely.

The seller had installed new windows and had some plumbing done before the sale. She installed a new sewer line, which tore up the front yard. She covered the wound with sod to spruce things up. Upon move in, I set out to create a habitat for birds and bees. I covered the sod with native plants in varying sizes. I installed a watering system to keep everyone happy in the summer. I nurtured and watered and pulled the grass out by hand. No poisons touched this place. I planted small trees that grew tall, fluffy medium bushes, and flowers–so many flowers! Every spring and summer the yard hummed with the life of pollinators and birds, flitting among the plant life, which grew prolifically.

In spite of my love for this adorable house, I gradually grew to despise the city in which it was located. Thousands upon thousands of people were moving into Portland, and it was changing, and not in a good way. It stopped being friendly. Traffic became unbearable. Costs skyrocketed. I decided I needed to live somewhere less obnoxious, plus our whole family wanted to be closer to the land and away from cement and fuel exhaust and noise. After nearly two years of consideration I put my little house on the market, vowing that this time I would find a buyer who loved the house as much as I had. Someone who would care for the plants and gardens. Someone who cared about the character of the place and would not rip out the built-ins in the kitchen to replace with ugly granite counters and steel appliances.

Immediately after listing, someone stole four blueberry bushes out of the backyard. They dug them up, filled in the holes, and covered them with mulch. This broke my heart. I cried and cried, hoping that whomever had taken them would care for them as much as I had. I could only hope that they would show as much care for these plants as they had for hiding the evidence of their thievery.

I received a couple of offers, but both were much below asking price. Two weeks after listing, I received an offer that was below what I was asking, but not by much. As part of the offer, the prospective buyers wrote me a letter telling me how lovely the plants and landscaping were, and how they had seen the yard grow and change over the years, and how this made the house special to them. Oh wonderful! I thought. These are the kind of people I’m talking about. These people will take care of my house. I counter offered to a higher price and they accepted.

I have often in my life discovered that I can be quite naive when it comes to treachery. I don’t see it coming and when it happens, I am shocked and angered at my own naivete. In spite of my efforts to try and make this house sale different, I stupidly did not ask the right questions and made assumptions based on this letter that the people actually wanted to live there and leave the plants alone.

Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. They have been gutting it and have a for rent sign out front and are planning to “thin” the trees and plants. Even worse, the neighbors discovered they are turning my darling bungalow into a duplex! (Although I guess I can’t call it mine anymore, now can I?) And unfortunately, since I let the guy know I was upset about this, he isn’t letting me come and remove the plants he is planning to kill at the end of the week. When I told the guy that I felt like I had been misled, he told me that he should never have talked to me because I am “too emotional.” Basically, Mr. Lack of Empathy turned his being a lying asshole into my problem because I had an emotional reaction to his destruction and dishonesty. What is really remarkable to me is that I had not really expressed much when he said this.

I’ve spoken to the neighbor, begged him to get in there and rescue things before they are killed. I don’t know if he will do it. He is one of the few people I know who loves plants as much as I do, but his yard is full and his husband has told him no more plants. I asked him just to take them out and I’ll come get them. The most frustrating part of this is the powerlessness that I feel. If I lived just a little bit closer, I would be there now with buckets and a shovel bringing those plants here with me. Getting further away from that city makes it that much harder to get there if I have some need to. I am going to complain about the realtor who brokered this deal, the realtor who allowed these people to lie to me and lead me to believe they were going to live in this house and take care of the plants when they were planning otherwise. I had many conversations with him about my desires. He knew what I wanted. He may have represented them and had a duty to them, but he also had a duty to be honest, and giving me a letter that implied other than their intentions was dishonest. At the very least, I am going to post reviews of him everywhere I can.

I don’t fit in this death culture. Most people, when they hear this story, ask me, “What’s the big deal? They’re just plants.” But why should it matter less because they are plants? Why are their lives worth less? Plus even more than that, what about the fact that habitat I created that was teeming with life? Why don’t those lives matter? For whatever reason, these liars want to destroy this mini ecosystem. No reason they could offer is justification for misleading me or for doing any of it. They want to gut the house and remodel? Fine, whatever. I’ve lived that. But to take out the plant life and destroy it, too is simply wrong. And telling me that this was what made the house so beautiful and special, just so that I would accept their offer is just plain evil.

This is the review I wrote on  the agent who represented the buyers: Mr. Michalowski represented the buyers when I sold my house. As part of their offer, the buyers wrote me a nice letter stating how much they loved the landscaping and beauty of my charming little home, and how they had enjoyed watching in change during the years that I owned it. In the course of negotiations, I explained to Mr. Michalowski that I was excited to have someone interested who wanted to live in and take care of my house. I told him that I didn’t want someone who was just going to rent it out. He never once insinuated that the buyer’s letter was a complete lie and that they intended to gut the house, kill the plants I had spent years nurturing, and turn the thing into a duplex. He did well by his clients, letting them lie to me so that the sale would go through. Now the sale is done, his pockets are lined, and the neighbors I promised would have a family next door will be subject to living with renters who don’t give a damn about the house or anything associated with it. I offered to take any plants the buyers wouldn’t want, but Mr. Michalowski said the sellers could make these arrangements once the sale was done. Landscapers are coming this week to “thin” including taking out trees I spent a fortune on and spent years nurturing to ensure they would grow. Devious and void of any integrity, that is how I would describe both these buyers and Mr. Michalowski. If you want an agent who will do the devil’s bidding, if you want a smooth operator who will skillfully lie and evade, he’s your man. If you want honesty and above-board negotiations and information, run.

Edges

There is this edge of me that wants to be liked.

There is this edge of me that doesn’t want to rock the boat.

There is this edge of me that wants to drink lots of cold water, but there is another edge of me that doesn’t want to do all the things I’m supposed to do.

There is this edge of me that would like to lash out irrationally.

There is this edge of me that would like to speak up.

There is this edge of me that would like to shut up.

My gum hurts. Right behind my front two teeth. There is this edge of me that would like to poke this place until it bleeds.

There is this edge of me that dreamed of a Rabbinically bearded man carrying a frothy furry rabbit on his shoulder. When I kissed the rabbit, the man kissed me and his beard hair became tangled in the fur of the rabbit and in my teeth and I spit it out.

There is this edge of me that would like to reach out and slap that smug smile off one person’s face, but there is another edge of me that would rather pretend she does not exist. This latter edge is bigger.

I went in to floss my teeth and drink cold water and thought about my edges. I knew while running the soft cloth between my incisors that some things do not belong here, including cold water that runs through metal that was stolen from the ground and formed into tubes with which to corral the water. The fire hydrant in the street does not belong here because the street does not belong here and the hoses that would carry the water from the fire hydrant do not belong here, and the places the water would cover if the hoses were aimed at them and the hydrant were opened do not belong here.

I am comprised of edges and live in something that does not belong. I used to believe it was myself that did not correspond, but really it is the places around me within which I cannot capitulate that were not meant to be. And so there are edges of me.

The Split Begins Early

This essay can also be read here.

As I write, the Eagle Creek fire is destroying forests all around Mt. Hood in Oregon and across the river in Washington. There are many fires raging, but this one is particularly wretched because it is known that it was begun by a teenager playing with fireworks. The woman who reported his action and the actions of the other teens with him described them as non-reactive to the likelihood they had started a fire in a very dry forest (see the story here). She said the girls were giggling and that they all were encouraging his behavior. They filmed it, like it was something fun to put on SnapChat or something. The woman’s description of these kids sounded like children who are very disconnected from their actions and the consequences for those actions.

In My Name is Chellis and I’m in Recovery from Western Civilization, Chellis Glendinning describes the split, the dissociation from the self, that occurs in humans when they become “civilized.” Civilization is built on abuse and destruction. We began by destroying the land in order to grow things according to our own will. This led to abuse upon abuse upon abuse, to the point where abuse is the norm. Derrick Jensen, in The Myth of Human Supremacy, describes how in western civilization, we are indoctrinated from the moment of birth into a belief system whereby humans rule everything and that all the world is at their disposal. To my mind, the original sin was that of humans leaving the earth to “tame” and control it, bending it to their will, first through agriculture and on to the world we have today, where every aspect of the world is under human control. The Garden of Eden was the world before humans decided that they were “special” and that everything should be as humans decree. Thus, the split was born. Humans disconnect first from their selves, then from others, and finally from the world around them. Humans are the most invasive species, and the world is suffering because of it.

Today, that indoctrination begins practically before a child is born. It is not uncommon in this country for doctors and parents to schedule births induced by chemicals. That such births often result in the death of the fetus or the mother, or in an invasive surgical Caesarean section is no matter; it is a given that in most western births, induction of some sort will be the norm. Those of us who choose to have children at home with no drugs or medical intervention are considered bizarre and dangerous, as if the control of the hospital and the intervention of drugs is the more safe, and therefore, more sane route to childbirth. We are the wild west parents, putting ourselves and our delicate children in danger rather than having a birth controlled by chemicals and machines (or a doctor’s golf schedule).

Once the child is born, it is immediately placed into a system designed to disconnect it from anything remotely resembling connection to the self or its parents. The split is encouraged early. A “good” baby is one that sleeps all night as young as possible, without interrupting its parent’s lifestyle. One of the most common early questions of new parents is whether their child is sleeping through the night (because a baby who isn’t sleeping through the night makes it impossible for parents to sleep through the night, and discomfort of any kind is to be avoided at all costs in civilization).

Thousands of books have been written on the subject of getting children to sleep through the night alone. Doctors create systems such as that of Dr. Richard Ferber, whereby parents let their tiny infants scream and cry until they learn that their cries bring nothing and they finally give up and shut up. It is the ultimate in teaching children from a very early age not to trust that the world around them will be safe and welcoming. The parents hover outside, periodically going in and patting the child, then retreating to let it cry even further, viewing the action from a monitor in another room. It is pure insanity.

Children cannot tolerate sleeping away from their parents, and small babies need to be fed more frequently than once every eight hours, but never mind this. Parents still do it in western culture. Children are placed in cages in separate rooms away from their parents to sleep alone within days of birth. The parents hover over electronic monitors and cameras, rather than have their children in the same room or indeed, even in the same bed as them. In western civilization, a child who sleeps with its parents is considered to be “spoiled,” like a piece of meat gone bad. I have often wondered how bizarre it would be if wolves and bears laid their cubs in separate caves far from their mothers. What if mice placed each bare infant in multiple holes far from their warm breasts? Mammals have breasts for feeding infants. Only human mammals place their children in cages far from their breasts forcing them to ignore their own needs and call it normal (it’s an entire other subject and outside the scope of this rant how our language encourages all this crazy nonsense).

In addition to putting children in cages and ignoring their basic needs, parents feed them fake milk from plastic nipples rather than from their own breasts. In spite of multiple studies showing that this is bad for babies, bad for mothers, and even bad for the economy (which I could care less about, but which is a major force in this culture), breastfeeding children as long as nature intended remains a rare thing indeed among western mothers.

By the time children are two or three years old, they are already completely desensitized from what they were meant to be biologically. With the advent of iPads and other screen devices that further entertain and rewire the brain (see here, and here, and here), screens as babysitters are the norm. It’s no wonder that by the time some children are teenagers, they can toss firecrackers into a dry ravine and giggle as a fire begins to rage.

I could go on and on. This culture is crazy. Civilization is not how life is meant to be on this planet. We are the Earth. The Earth is us. Yet we continue to pretend we are separate and above it even as the obvious fact that we are not and that our attempts to control everything do not work. Mama Nature knows what is best. Sadly, we seem unable to see what is right in front of our faces and senseless destruction is the result.

My Inheritance

My fatal flaw has been to believe too much that another person is a friend when they aren’t, really. I lived in Germany in 1990 for a short time. I rented a room from a German man. We stayed up talking late one night. He told me that in his mind the biggest difference between Americans and Germans was that Americans decided upon immediate acquaintance with someone that they were friends, while Germans could know someone for ten years and would still only refer to that person as an acquaintance even if they had shared intimacies and closeness. I have certainly hewed closer to my birthplace than to the German, and it has caused me much heartache. So many people I have considered friends really have not been–too much trusting too soon. I suppose on the one hand it is the consequence of a less than ideal upbringing, but more people than not have less than ideal upbringings and they don’t become overly trusting. In spite of my desire to belong to any other nationality than American, I can’t escape this facet of Americanism I have inherited.

Mountain Climbing

I am beginning to think about shutting down my blog. I started it at a very different time in my life. I have since climbed many mountains, and have fallen off many steep cliffs. And while I remember what life was like in the foothills, wind blowing my hair about, cheeks rosy from exertion, these eyes are not those naive eyes of yesteryear. I am another person. Back then, I discovered that when I wrote for an audience, I found a voice. The words poured forth from my fingers and brain. I couldn’t get enough. Then, as the mountains grew steeper and more treacherous, it became more and more difficult to find that voice. For a long time it was time that kept me from writing here.

Now it is something different. I no longer have any desire for an audience. Sometimes when a person climbs many mountains, and they fall off many cliffs, clinging to the edges with a lone finger, barely hanging on, each breath a tremor that could make them tumble to their death on the stones below, pieces of them don’t make it. Parts of them are not able to climb up onto that ledge when they manage to find their way back onto their path. In my case, I lost whatever part of my ego felt the need for an audience.

And so, here I am. When I write, I don’t want to share it with the world. I write for myself. When I write for an audience, I feel such an urge to censor that the writing becomes stilted and confined. I don’t like stilted and confined. It does not agree with me.

I have until October to make this decision. It is then that the annual renewal is due. I am mulling it over. I shall see.

Stuff and Things

It occurs to me that most people in our culture have lost sight of the fact that in chasing money, we are essentially chasing things. Someone wants a thing, and their desire for more money is the desire to have as many things as they want, when they want them. That’s what having more money brings. I’m not talking about the people at the very bottom of our capitalist triangle who have to struggle just to survive, those for whom a few dollars would mean the ability to stay very basically comfortable. I’m talking about any level above having what one needs to survive easily: a safe place to sleep, food, and health well-being. “Security” as it has been sold to us, is theoretically having enough money in the bank to ensure the safe place to sleep, food, and health. Yet for most it goes beyond that into wanting to have things. Ask anyone with dreams of riches and it is the lying on the beach or yacht anytime that they want, the clothes, the jewelry, the gadgets, the cars, and on and on, that fill their dreams. Pinterest is filled with photos of all the things that humans want. People will spend hours creating these online photo albums of all the stuff they desire. (In the meantime, while posting these things and dreaming about them, the interactions with humans and other non-human animals around them are limited.)

Yesterday I dropped off some stuff at the donation center. We are moving so we are getting rid of stuff. I have felt this immense urge to purge. What is all this stuff? The line at the place was cars deep, everyone ridding themselves of things, some of which had to have been wanted at some point. Either that or or they were ridding themselves of stuff someone gave them either out of a sense of duty to give, some obligation, or some other self-serving necessity. Perhaps for some the thing was given in love and received as such, but at this point, the thing is now being discarded, filling a warehouse, filling a landfill, being sold into places where the abundance of things is not as profuse as it is in the good, ol’ USA. Stuff, stuff, everywhere. In the meantime, we destroy the earth to build enormous buildings to house the things. We rape and pillage the land to carve roads and fill the land with things, things that will rot in piles long after we are gone.

A Dispiriting Decline

When one hits the age where things begin happening to their parents in the decline of old age, it is dispiriting. I see my mother declining and I’m not sure she will last the year. I can’t tell her this. She actually believes she is going to live into her hundreds, as many of our older relatives have. The difference between those long-lived ancestors, though, is that they were very active. My mother is not. She is not active. She has arthritic knees. She sits a lot. She ignores advice that tells her movement is better for arthritis and general well-being. She also has sleep apnea but refuses to wear her sleep apnea machine. She has now had a stroke. They say it came from plaque in her arteries. They want to give her drugs (after scraping the arteries clean), but tell her exercise is best. She won’t exercise. The sleep apnea may also have contributed, but she won’t use the machine. What was the point of going to the sleep clinic and figuring out she has sleep apnea if she won’t use the machine to help the sleep apnea? They said she had some of the worst sleep apnea they had ever seen. Not treating it can cause heart attacks and strokes. Does she want another stroke? Is she trying to kill herself by doing nothing?

I stand aside and watch this decline. It is disheartening, and as I said before, dispiriting. One cannot control another or make them do what they won’t do. I want to scream: Just get up and walk down your driveway, already! (The driveway is a mile long.) Yet this would be futile.

Fue Tile. Futile. Dispiriting. Disheartening. All these magnificent little words. I love the words. I do not love how their meanings affect me.

After I wrote this, I asked my mom directly about not using her sleep apnea equipment. She said that her sleep apnea went away because she slept on her side. I asked my friend Debbie, who is somewhat of an expert on sleep apnea, and she said that if she didn’t have the central system sleep apnea, it is possible that it did go away. I hope this is true. I know my mom did not get told by a physician that it was gone, but perhaps it did. Perhaps it did not cause her stroke.

Bummer

I love eggs. I ate two eggs this morning for breakfast. My body does not love eggs. It actually despises them. It is mad at me for eating the eggs. It is giving me hell for eating the eggs. I should not have eaten the eggs. My body is winning in deciding whether or not I get to eat eggs. Even though I love them, it says I cannot have them or it will rebel and I believe it. So no eggs.

Bummer.

A “Bowl”

When a restaurant puts the stuff patrons will eat in a bowl instead of on a plate, they call the dish a “bowl” and then charge more for it than if it had been on a plate.

Oh, another thing restaurants do, especially in Portland, is to sell “small plates.” They call them tapas so they and their patrons can pretend they’re multicultural. The idea behind “small plates” is to have a whole gang of people sit around a table with “small plates” and then take samples from each plate. It’s like one big Norman Rockwell painting or a movie where everyone has these big dinner parties and life is lively and splashy.

The only problem (well, one of many) is that most people eat in pairs or small groups that are not lively and splashy. Then you have this small table covered with a multitude of plates and there is nowhere to put anything. More often than not the plates have very little food on them, and certainly not enough to “share.” Also, if you’re like me and don’t eat a lot of what others eat, sharing isn’t really that appealing.

Basically the idea, I think, is to sell these “small plates” based on the marketing (you are a group of hip, culturally aware citizens eating together at a fancy restaurant with swiggles all over your plates!), knowing they can charge four times what the same four dishes on one bigger plate would have cost. You look at the menu and think, “Oh, it’s only $8.95 for a dish,” not realizing that it’s $8.95 per side, and you’ll end up paying 36 bucks for a plate of food. And since the portion sizes are smaller than they would have been on a bigger plate (allowing for fancy swizzling of sauce, etc.), you actually end up paying more because of that too. Overall, it’s just a big scam.

There was a restaurant we used to frequent frequently. They have gradually replaced all their meals in this fashion. They claim it gives “more choice” because you can mix and match your side dishes. No. All it does is make the whole enterprise vastly more expensive and the table more cluttered. We don’t like this. We don’t eat there anymore. Good for us and our wallets, bad for them. Or maybe not. Maybe they have other patrons who like the clutter and the cost.

Somehow this went from an observation on “bowls” to a diatribe on small plates. Funny how that goes.

Snark

Is it possible for people to admire someone for work they have done without being obsequious about it? Especially someone who has done work that is more famous than is common? It’s as if in an attempt to show respect, they become groveling fools.

I watched a video put out by an author/speaker whose work I admire. He is doing a series of them. I really enjoyed the video. It made me think about some heavy concepts in a new way. Good stuff, I thought. I thought to perhaps write a comment and express my gratitude to the author/speaker in the video. Then I read the other comments at the top of the thread and couldn’t do it. They were all so belly-baring submissive and unctuous, I couldn’t add my words to the list; I could not be so ingratiating and servile. Ick.

Another in the long line of perfect videos, FIRST NAME OF AUTHOR/SPEAKER! You just can’t say anything wrong! Your words are truly powerful! It’s too bad more people don’t agree with you and spread the word! The world would be a better place if everyone did! This is just awesome! Here’s a little anecdote from my own life to show how similar we are. Oh, and I hope you had a wonderful birthday back on December 8 (See? I know your birthday!). What would we do without you?

Find another victim?

The other part of these is the use of the first name of the author/speaker, as if the person is part of a first name relationship with them, and also to add a little story of their own to try and find such a connection. There is also the punctuating of every! single! sentence! with an EXCLAMATION POINT!! Because we are so EXCITED TOO!! A bouncing servility! That’s it.

I went back to the video that led to this diatribe and read through some of the comments for examples. I felt bad for the people writing them. For whatever reason they need to be this way. Who I am to rain on their parade? I realized I’m being snarky. I am. I’ll stop.

I’m a Naked Nun

Writing is a habit, and I’ve lost my habit. I’m a naked nun. I still have the thoughts I want to write, I just don’t write them. Many circumstances have contributed to this state of affairs: a baby who is now a small child (and heading into being a medium child), a teenager with activities and no driver’s license (but a bus pass, thank goodness) two jobs, two horses (and dogs, cats, and rabbits), a smartphone with Solitaire on it, my own house, a garden (a rather large garden), and books, always so many books (although that never stopped me before I lost the habit).

So here I am, habit-less and not really sure how to get it back because the external circumstances that make finding time to rebuild the habit still remain. Solitaire is easy to ditch, but not so much the rest and some of it I don’t want to ditch (priorities, you know).

Maybe it’s timing. I’ll just have to find the right time and hope I don’t die before that happens, because I do love writing. It is an outlet. It helps me to clarify my thoughts, even in fiction. It’s self satisfying. The urge can be overwhelming when the muse wants out. But it’s like exercise sometimes, and even though I know it’s good for me, and even though I know I’ll feel better after doing it, after slogging through the other tasks I must attend to, and performing the tasks I love attending to, it’s hard to muster the initiative to begin when bed beckons. Plus there is the matter of insomnia, my constant companion. She makes all tasks a slog, even those I love, except sleep. When I urge her to leave, she becomes morose and recalcitrant. How can you want to leave me? she inquires. “Oh, darling,” I reply, “Ours is a love-hate relationship; you love me, and I hate you.”

At this point I will keep it in my sights to build the habit again. I had a bit of trouble finding that verb, build. I typed get into, then erased it. Then I typed work at, and erased it. Build works. I’ll work to build the habit again sometime soon. For now, Oliver my poodle is lying on my shoulder snoring. Isabel has her warm legs pressed against mine, and George is curled near my feet. Insomnia visited for two hours in the wee hours this a.m., and the thought of hunkering down and going back to sleep wins.

Holiday Sonnet

Turgid turkeys, strained into rickety
wooden coffins, exit four-by-four from
a ten-ton hearse. Into the turkey mill:
mutilation, holocaust.

Perspiring hormones, Tom Turkey stares with
one sad eye at a crumbling chimney tower
belching death in putrid smoke, blackening
holiday skies. Annihilating light.

Bodies, bones. None remain unfrozen. With
elaborate precision he’s taken apart;
neck, gizzards tied in a bag between his
ribs, head ground neatly into pink hot dog slabs.

Holiday skies are crowded with turkey souls,
ascending to heaven like deflated balloons.

Fixing the Toilet

Did I tell this story already, or did I just compose it in my head and never write it? I started composing it in my head again and it seemed like déjà vu. Weird.

My toilet was leaking. I kept trying to blame the water on the floor near the base on washing my face in the sink next to it or getting out of the bathtub because any time I would notice water on the floor near the base, one of the other two things had happened. Yet somehow I knew that it was more than this. Deep in the recesses of my brain the leaking was there, well, leaking into my consciousness.

The main part of my mind wanted to ignore this. No, it’s not leaking. You just washed your face. You got water all over the basin. See this? Oh, yeah. Okay. Or you just used the toilet after your bath. That’s why the floor is wet. Right. That’s the ticket.

It became undeniable the morning I began cleaning the bathroom and was starting to wipe the base of the toilet off with a sponge to clean it. I knelt down, resting my left hand on the seat lid of the toilet and reaching under to clean. As I did so a splurge of water gushed out from under the base of the toilet.

I pressed the lid again and gush! Out shot another splurge of water. Damn. A leak. It’s a leak.

This meant I was going to have to repair the thing. Pull it off, install a wax ring, clean up the water. Yet while I was thinking Damn! on the one hand, I was also kind of glad on the other. I like fixing things. I like making them better. I hadn’t liked the way the toilet had been installed. Whoever did it did a crappy (isn’t that the perfect adjective for work on a toilet?) job. They didn’t use bolt covers on the bolts. They did a piss poor job of caulking, which was actually a blessing because the water didn’t just sit under the toilet and rot the floor. They also used caulk that was not meant for bathrooms because it was not resisting mildew. I was going to be happy to get rid of this mess.

Aftaer dutifully toddling off to the hardware store to buy a wax ring and new bolts, I turned off the hoses, drained the water, removed the bolts, and lifted the toilet carefully from it’s place. Water seeped everywhere. It really was a good thing this was getting changed. Unlike the last time I changed a toilet and the flooring was too high for the pipe the toilet attached to, this one was level with the floor. Installing would be easy. I scraped up the nasty caulk and cleaned up the old wax. I washed the bottom of the toilet completely and scrubbed out the rest of it in the bathtub. I then went to install the toilet on the base and realized I had purchased the wrong bolts to attach it to the floor. Dang! Back to the hardware store for the correct ones.

While I was at the hardware store, I noticed toilet seat lids. Ours was annoying. It had bolts that constantly came loose. The lid itself was not plastic, but the hinges were and they had broken on one side of each hinge, making the lid rattle and the seat shift when we sat on it. As I stood in the aisle at the hardware store buying the proper bolts, I decided to get a new lid.

I stood staring at the wall of toilet lids on display. I had not realized that there were so many options in toilet lids. Primarily the differences came down to the hinges attaching the lid to the toilet and the ability of the lid to shut without slamming. Hmmm. This seemed an interesting proposition, but an unnecessary one.

I decided on a white wood lid with metal hinges that was about $15. Unfortunately, the store was out of this one except for the display. Dang again. The only other option I liked that was white wood with metal hinges was one that shut without slamming. It cost $35. The other choices were all untenable to me: plastic seats, plastic lids, plastic hinges, or the wrong color or shape. Fine. I’d buy the $35 one.

Back home I installed the lid, finished bolting down the toilet, and cleaned everything up. We dragged the mess of sopping towels to the basement to wash and put away all the tools (my daughter had been helping me with this project).

With the new lid and bolt covers, the toilet looked brand new. No more water seeped from the bottom. We didn’t have to sit down gently to avoid pinching our butts as the seat slid to the side when we sat down. And in spite of my finding such things to be rather silly, I truly liked the lid that didn’t slam. It’s really good, actually.

Overall, the toilet leaking was not a bad thing. I like our “new” toilet. I love it that I can sit on it without worrying about the seat falling off. Water doesn’t ooze out the bottom. There isn’t ugly caulking I have to clean every other day to keep it from looking like someone peed on it. And in the middle of the night when I go to the bathroom, I just close the lid and it shuts softly and quietly. Good times.

All of this is a Tragedy

This essay can also be found here on Huffington Post.

I woke up too early and made the mistake of looking at Facebook. I had disabled the account for years, but reinstated it because it was how the boarders at my barn communicated, and I needed to be able to communicate with them. The timing couldn’t be worse. The election was right around the corner and everyone was doing that dance. I figured out pretty quickly that I could “hide” a post, so that made it more tolerable when I would go online. The thing about Facebook is that it can be easy to turn to it in times of boredom or whatever. I went for years without doing that, but picked it right back up again when I turned the thing back on. What a mistake.

Since the election is over, most of my feed is filled with people literally freaking out and losing their minds over this election. They are so upset that Trump won, and they’re so fearful of the outcome, they are ruining every moment they are in being upset. Yet some of the people in my feed were posting stuff I agree with, describing just how wretched things would have been with Clinton, too. Scrolling through my feed, I came upon one of these posts and read through it. In this post I discovered something I had not known. I knew the US murdered Gaddafi. I knew the politics surrounding this murder. I knew about Clinton laughing about it.

What I didn’t know was that the man had been sodomized and tortured before he was murdered.

Seriously. This human being. This person. He was SODOMIZED and murdered, and then Clinton laughed about it!! This person took pleasure in the torture and murder of another person. And these people, my “friends,” are all upset about this person not being the president? How could any of these people want this person to be their leader? What is wrong with people? She is just as bad as he is. They are BOTH evil! Why can’t people get this?

I can hear the arguments in support of this murder. He was a dictator! He killed people! He tortured too! My response to them? So what? It doesn’t matter. It DOESN’T matter! He could have been as evil as her, but does this justify and make what was done to him okay? It does not. It simply does not. What he did does not justify doing what was done to him. Just because someone was horrible does not give you a free pass to be horrible, too. To do so is pure hypocrisy.

After sharing the post on Facebook I tried to go back to sleep, but couldn’t. I kept thinking about this sodomization of Gaddafi and it made me horribly, horribly sad. I finally called my night owl friend, Debbie. I knew she would be awake. I said to her, “I read that they did something to Gaddafi’s anus. Is this true?” She told me that it was, that he was sodomized and murdered.

Gaddafi was a human being. Clinton was a huge part of this. She laughed about it, and my friends are upset she didn’t win? She is just as bad as Trump. In fact, she is worse. If she were the President-elect, all my friends would be celebrating and back to business as usual, and more murder would go on in our names.

Trump winning isn’t something to mourn. It’s an opportunity. It’s a chance to look in the mirror and see what responsibility we bear in creating this mess, because we all bear some responsibility. Turning our backs on the actions of our so-called leaders is our responsibility. Ignoring the actions of those who murder in our name is our responsibility. Everything that this country does that we make no effort to know about, the way that the poor are stigmatized and ignored, or kicked to the curb because their tents are in our way is our responsibility. The way this planet is being raped and pillaged and destroyed for the gains of a few is our responsibility. So much and more is our responsibility.

Feeling sad about the “pretty” Obama family leaving the White House? Feeling sentimental and worrying that your new President isn’t “Presidential” enough? Here is a snapshot of what was done in your name by the pretty President while you were busy choosing what car to buy or where to send your kid to preschool:

* Put boots on the ground in Syria , despite 16 times saying “no boots on the ground.”
* Despite campaign pledges, planned a $1 trillion program to add more nuclear weapons to the US arsenal in the next 30 years.
* Started a new war on terror – this one on ISIS.
* Dropped bombs in 7 Muslim countries; and then bragged about it.
* Said, “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”
* Bragged about his use of drones: I’m “really good at killing people.”
* Deported a modern-record 2 million immigrants.
* Signed the Monsanto Protection Act into law.
* Started a new war in Iraq.
* Initiated, and personally oversees a ‘Secret Kill List’.
* Pushed for war on Syria while siding with al-Qaeda .
* Backed neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
* Supported Israel’s wars and occupation of Palestine.
* Deployed Special Ops to 134 countries, compared to 60 under Bush.
* Did a TV commercial promoting “clean coal.”
* Drastically escalated the NSA spying program.
* Signed the NDAA into law, making it legal to assassinate Americans without charge or trial.
* Given Bush absolute immunity for everything.
* Pushed for a TPP Trade Pact.
* Signed more executive memorandums than any other president in history.
* Sold $30 billion of weapons to the dictatorship in Saudi Arabia.
* Signed an agreement for 7 military bases in Colombia.
* Opened a military base in Chile.
* Touted nuclear power, even after the disaster in Japan.
* Opened up deepwater oil drilling, even after the BP disaster.
* Mandated the Insider Threat Program which orders federal employees to report suspicious actions of their colleagues.
* Defended body scans and pat-downs at airports.
* Signed the Patriot Act extension into law.
* Launched 20,000 Airstrikes in his first term.
* Continued Bush’s rendition program.
* Said the U.S. is the “one indispensable nation” in the world.
* Waged war on Libya without congressional approval.
* Started a covert, drone war in Yemen.
* Escalated the proxy war in Somalia.
* Escalated the CIA drone war in Pakistan.
* Sharply escalated the war in Afghanistan.
* Repealed the Propaganda ban, making it legal to spread government propaganda via news outlets.
* Assassinated 4 US citizens with drone strikes.

Source:-
https://www.stpete4peace.org/obama-fact-sheet

One they missed was failing to close Guantanamo.

Cry and whine and go lick your perceived wounds, or try to do something different. There is the challenge. Good luck with it.

Sweetheart

My daughter and I were leaving New Seasons, the grocery near our house. My angel trailed behind me chatting up everyone she saw. She is such a sparkly little person. A fellow was getting into the car next to mine. She told him she just “loved” his hat, it was so “beautiful,” then she turned on her million dollar smile and waved.

He was enchanted. His face lit up in a smile. He turned to me and said, “Your daughter is a sweetheart. She is just a total sweetheart.” Then he said, “You must be a sweetheart too, to have a sweetheart like her.” Well, that just warmed my heart. I’m truly blessed. I get to have this sweetheart in my life. She does make me sweeter. I’m grateful for her every day.

Why I’m Not Voting

My essay got published on Huffington Post. However, I must admit that since they changed their platform, it is much easier to do. All of my prior articles were approved by editors. This time they just published it, so maybe it’s not such a big deal. In any case, I wrote it.

Why I’m Not Voting
by Lara M. Gardner

I used to be a good little Progressive. I was out stumping for the vote, actively pursuing participation by everyone, doing my best to get everyone to work for change. After the 2008 elections, I partied for Barack Obama, I cheered in the streets with millions, certain his election promises would be just what everyone had been waiting for. In spite of some obvious problems staring me right in the face, I believed.

You may continue reading here.

I am Bonnie

A long time ago I used to work in the Forest Products office at Oregon State University. I worked with my best friend Debbie, a boss who was so stupid sometimes I wondered if it was possible for someone to be that dumb, and a sociopath named Bonnie. Bonnie was…I can’t even begin to describe her in a single word except to say she was a sociopath. She could and did make life hell for a lot of people. She was also very annoying. She was possibly the most negative person I have ever met. If it was sunny, she complained that it was too hot and should be rainy. If it was rainy, she complained it was raining. If we had work to do, she complained that she had work to do and that she was the only one who could possibly do it. If we didn’t have work to do, then she complained because she was bored. She didn’t like her chair. She would get another chair and wouldn’t like it and go back to the original and then complain about it. She had gossip to share on every single person who walked in our door and even those who didn’t. It was a guarantee that as soon as you left the room she was dishing something about you and turning anything you did into something to complain about and to use to make you look bad. The only consolation with her was that she was an equal-opportunity sociopath so if she didn’t have her sights set on you, she was going after someone else and there were a lot of other people for her to choose from.

Most of the time I worked with Bonnie was pure hell. Six months after I started working in the lab, I was wondering if I was crazy. Between the boss who couldn’t figure out how to explain the most basic assignments to this constantly complaining crazy woman who had something nasty to say about every human who walked into the office, I seriously thought I was losing my mind. Luckily, I made friends with Debbie and discovered that no, I wasn’t nuts, the office was. She helped me stick it out (until I got pregnant and realized I didn’t want the loony factory anywhere near my growing fetus, but that’s another story).

Sometimes working with Bonnie could be fun. It wasn’t fun because of anything Bonnie did to make it fun, but because Debbie and I could see what she was doing and it would make us roll our eyes and laugh silently from behind our hands on our lunch break. Bonnie fancied herself the sexiest woman in the office and made a great show of throwing herself at every male who walked through the door. This got to be quite amusing, especially when the male was a 20 something grad student from India or Pakistan who had no idea that what she was doing was supposed to turn him on. Many of the older, white, male professors got off on her attention, which could be kind of gross (especially the one who was married to a disabled wife with MS), but Debbie and I could still find things about this situation that made us laugh.

The lab would periodically hold grad thesis presentations whereby the student would make their presentation to faculty and other students, followed by a small reception with doughnuts and other refreshments. Prior to these events, an announcement was to be made by our office notifying everyone on our floor that the presentation and reception would be taking place. Bonnie LOVED doing this and would literally race to the microphone to make sure she got to be the one to make the announcement. She would snarl something or other to us about how “The goddamned printer isn’t working again! The piece of shit must be out of ink or something.” Then she would turn to the microphone, sexily flip her hair behind her shoulders, lean in and grasp the microphone and breathily intone, “At four o’clock this afternoon, which is in just fifteen minutes (breath, breath, breath), there will be a presentation by Rakesh Akbahr, on the role of stress-strain on the physical transformations that occur (breath) during the cure of thermosetting adhesive-to-wood bonds (breath, breath, breath). After that (breath) there will be a reception in the Buchanon room, where refreshments will be served.” She’d then flop back down in her rolling desk chair and screech at us again, “Goddamned rain. It was supposed to be sunny today.

Debbie and I could laugh and laugh at these displays (out of the office, of course).

Bonnie told us she was an expert on everything. She said she had a degree in forestry, as well as a degree in nursing, and in English, and several others I no longer remember. No matter what came up that required some knowledge by someone in the office, she was in competition to be the top person in that knowledge and she usually had a degree to go along with it. Debbie and I would wonder to ourselves why she wasn’t putting these degrees to good use somewhere considering how underappreciated and underpaid she was sharing an office with us. It is because of Bonnie’s expertise that I even bring her up in this post today. I earned a Juris Doctorate degree in 2003. Then last year, I completed a Master’s in Teaching so that I could transition out of being a lawyer and become a teacher instead.

Last week, I had a conversation with someone, the content of which really isn’t that important. In the course of the conversation, the person I was speaking to was telling me another person had complained about something and that they had to complain because they were a teacher and as a teacher, they were required to complain. This puzzled me because I knew that the thing about which this person was supposedly required to complain was not required of teachers, so I said to the person I was speaking to, “I am a teacher, and that is not actually true.” He looked at me rather consternatedly (now there’s a word) as if to say, “Huh? I thought you were a lawyer?” because in another conversation on another day, he had asked me what kind of work I did and at the time he asked, I told him I was a lawyer, so my saying that I was a teacher on this new occasion was probably a bit odd to him.

I was like Bonnie and her multitude of unrelated degrees. I don’t have a multitude of unrelated degrees, I only have a couple of them. There is my undergraduate degree in English, then there is the lawyer degree, then there is the teacher degree. So I have several degrees and they are mostly unrelated. This got me to thinking about Bonnie and my time in the Forest Products lab so many years ago — twenty years ago actually, is when I started. I’ve stayed friends with Debbie. She came to the birth of my baby and probably knows me better than any other friend.

A lot has happened since then. I wonder now, with my handful of unrelated degrees, if maybe Bonnie really did have a forestry degree and an English degree and a nursing degree, and maybe perhaps something happened that she didn’t need to work in those fields at all. I don’t know. I can’t remember her last name so I can’t look her up (even if I wanted to, which, true told, I really don’t).

If I did look her up, I would find her and tell her I’m sorry for doubting her many educational accomplishments and let her know that I too now have many educational accomplishments. We could get a coffee and reminisce and I could tell her how funny I thought it was when she made the sexy forest products announcements and she could tell me how much she hates the weather and the coffee in the coffee shop we meet in and the chairs in the coffee shop and make googly eyes at the male patrons and…

On second thought, maybe not.

How Not to React?

Modern civilization’s poisons do not agree with me. They make my skin itch, my nose and lungs snort and sneeze, my toenails crumble, my brain refuse to sleep, my body react in rashes and aches and all assortment of physiological responses. My body says, No! to the way things are.

I do the dances necessary to avoid these things. I turn up my nose at edible food-like substances pretending they are something I would want to ingest. I do not use lotions and potions and other chemicals in an effort to avoid one of those dratted physiological responses. I don’t drink alcohol because it makes my stomach ill and my head hurt. I don’t take drugs (including “legal” ones) because my body yells at me when I do. I don’t eat meat, or vegetables with chemicals on them. I don’t wear metal because it makes me itch.

I do ALL OF THESE THINGS and AVOID ALL THE BAD THINGS, yet I still, still! have reactions to the world around me because in spite of my controlling all the things I can control, there is still oh, so much that is outside of my control and damn it if my body doesn’t react to that crap, too. What the hell is a person supposed to do? How do we get away when the dominant culture doesn’t give a shit if your body reacts to the garbage they are dumping into the atmosphere and onto the surface of the earth and into its waters? They have even co-opted the attempts to avoid by making “detoxification” something one can pay for as well. Here, let’s poison you, and we’ll charge you to do it, and then, Here, let’s detoxify you, and we’ll charge you for that as well. (This ensures you stay on the treadmill this system has created to keep you a slave and take your life. (We’ll let you pretend that your life is your own, but we know better.))

I suppose the only thing that I can do is to keep avoiding as much as I can and be like the rest of the non-human world that has to contend with us and our ways, hiding under my rock or in my nest. Outer space simply isn’t an option.

Heading Home?

I found an old diary today. Well, not that old. I haven’t written in it in a year. I thumbed through some old entries and had the odd feeling of finding no familiarity with the feelings in what I had written. The words were the same words I know I had written for years and years, but I felt no kinship with them. Somehow I have been pressed into another place where I no longer feel the way I did for so long. I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. Maybe it doesn’t require a judgment; maybe it just is. The diary was full of loneliness. For so long, decades even, loneliness was a mantle I wore on my back, hanging there, heavy and woolen. Even among friends, I felt it, but I just don’t anymore. Nothing has changed in my external world to fill in this blank. If anything, I have fewer friends and acquaintances than ever. I just don’t feel lonely. I love spending time with my daughters, my dogs, my horse, and our other pets, and that’s enough. In fact several times I’ve been offered the opportunity to go out and socialize and when I do, I find myself wanting to be back with the family. When I have turned down opportunities, I am glad.

Lately, I’ve had such a single minded thought focus that all else has really fallen away. I live my daily life. I’m not obsessing or anything. It’s just I know where I want to be and it’s where I’m going. I feel like I’ve been on a very long backpacking trip. Near the beginning of backpacking trips I’m always fresh and raring to go. Then at some point it gets tiring. Then I settle in and just walk, not really paying attention to the physical irritations, and somehow becoming one with the land and the landscape, a part of the trees and earth and plants, and all of it. This is how I feel lately in my life, like I’ve reached that blending place, and looking back at how I was for so long seems silly and pointless.

Interestingly, as I have settled into this place, I have felt very little desire to write here. It used to be that I had the desire, but didn’t have the time. When I had time, I had a hard time coming up with something to write because my life was so full, my brain didn’t have time to come up with anything new and interesting to say.

Lately though, I have thoughts that seem very interesting, but I have little desire to share them. I think them. I mull them over. I consider what I would say if I wrote them down, then I don’t, because I don’t need to. It has been a very long time since I have felt the desire to broadcast my thoughts to the wide world. My aging ego. It really has no need to be front and center any more.

Anyway, that’s it for now. For whatever reason, I felt like writing today. Nothing profound, just an urge. Maybe it was the diary. I don’t know.

Dogs can be Naughty

Dogs can be naughty. I have one dog in particular, George, who vacillates between extremely well-behaved and extremely naughty. When he’s good, he’s very, very good, but when he’s bad, he is so naughty that I want to hang him by his little feet and shake him.

He is the absolute best sit-and-wait dog. My other two dogs eat special dog food and eat it in the kitchen, their little bowls side by side. George, in full Dr. Jekyll mode, waits patiently in the dining room, sitting and waiting until they are done so he can go and lick their empty bowls. He waits until I tell him it is okay for him to go in and erase any possible molecules remaining from their breakfast. He stays sitting there even if I leave the room. He also is the first to run to his kennel when I call out, “Dogs! Kennels!” because we are leaving to go somewhere. When he is being Dr. Jekyll, he is an extremely well-behaved dog.

But George has another side, a more precocious side, his Dr. Hyde side, a side that is quite devilish. Since he has become an adult dog, he is much less inclined to do things like open the closet and remove the box of brand new loafers from Germany that cost over a hundred dollars and chew them up (he did this as a puppy), or open the bathroom door and eat an entire roll of toilet paper (also done as a puppy). Yet in spite of the fact that he is less inclined to do such things, it doesn’t mean they don’t happen.

A couple of weeks ago Milla and I decided to take the dogs with us while we ran to Costco. Along the way, we realized we were starving and stopped and picked up some sandwiches from a Mediterranean restaurant. They were oh, so delicious. George and Oliver and Betsy stood salivating in the back seat. We gave them several nibbles each because it just didn’t seem fair to eat in front of them without at least sharing some small morsels.

We didn’t finish eating our sandwiches before we got to Costco so we simply wrapped them up and put them into the glove box. We had also gotten a side of hummus, and we put this into the console between the seats. We did this so that there would be sandwiches for us to finish when we returned from our quick jaunt into the store. We dutifully removed the trash bin I keep in the back seat, as we always do when we leave George in the car because he has been known to chew it even when it is empty, and opened the windows so air would flow (luckily the summer has been extremely mild here and it was cool enough to leave the canines in the car). Off we toddled into the Costco to get a few supplies for our impending trip to a lovely lake in Washington.

We returned to catch George in the act of doing this:

20160827-IMG_854420160827-IMG_8542These are the doors to the glove box (removed after repair). One opens up. The other opens down. George managed to open them both and eat the sandwiches inside. He also had done this:

20160827-IMG_8543This was the console lid. He had attempted to open the console but was not successful. The hummus was still there, but George had certainly done a number on the car. We were leaving in the morning to go visit a lake in the woods. George ensured we got to go on this trip with the inside of the car looking like it had been attacked by a much bigger dog than George is. He knew immediately that he was in trouble. The moment Milla stood by the cracked window and said, “Oh. My. God.” George jumped into the back seat and then over the back seat into the way back. Luckily the retractable tonneau cover was retracted. As a puppy, George had chewed our prior car’s tonneau cover, making it impossible to retract. I learned after that to make sure the cover was fully retracted before leaving him in the car. Up and over the seat he went, landing with a thud.

We spent the next two and a half weeks driving around with our shredded glove box and console cover. Once we got home from the lake, I spent some time online finding new parts on eBay. I found a brand new console cover for $60, and used glove box doors for $75. The glove box doors arrived a couple of days ago. They were actually two full top and bottom glove boxes, I just took the doors off of them to reuse. They had obviously been part of a car that had been sitting out and getting dirty because they were absolutely filthy. Today, the console cover arrived. I unpacked it and immediately went to work figuring out how to install everything myself. It was my hope that I could figure it all out so I wouldn’t have to shell out even more money to pay someone to install them. Luckily, I was able to do this and now our car looks like its old self again. In the end, those sandwiches cost us $135, dang dog!

Here is the car post installation. I’m grateful I was able to do it myself. Thanks, George, for keeping me on my toes and my skills sharp. And now we know, no more sandwiches in the glove box or hummus in the console, at least not with George around!

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Compression

My brain feels as if it has lost the capacity to write. In the lack of practice, I have lost an ease that allowed me to sit and compose and produce something of substance within a rather short amount of time. Having gone from being compressed most moments to actually having some freedom of time, I have not adapted. My brain doesn’t get it. It’s like something that has been squished into a package for so long it retains the shape long after the package has gone. I’ve gone hiking several times, went on a 3-day backpacking trip, have been riding really regularly and reading actually quite a lot, and still the brain is only gradually unscrunching itself. It’s not sure what to do. I suppose I’ll have to get into practice again. Perhaps if I write tidbits like this one I’ll get there. As it is, right now I just want to brush my teeth and crawl into bed with my three dogs.

Entropy

I’ve been reading a bit about entropy. One definition said that nature tends from order to disorder in isolated systems. I think the key words are “isolated systems.” We simply aren’t isolated systems. The planet is one system, and we are all a part of it. Unfortunately, most people don’t see the earth as a single living thing, but see humans and all the other things on it as separate and isolated. I don’t agree with this premise. I see earth as one living thing. Also unfortunately, I see humans on earth as replications of cancer within organic bodies. Too many of us growing on the earth as self and taking it over to the point of destruction. We are creating entropy by making systems that should not be isolated into isolated systems that can then break down. Perhaps some would say we are creating systems that can be arranged in more ways, and therefore creating entropy? Or perhaps it’s just nature’s way to move into multiplicity and therefore entropy and that perhaps we weren’t supposed to be a single system, and the law of entropy exists in the planet as a whole and we are just a part of that?

I don’t think this is how it should be, but since this is how it is, then perhaps it is how it should be, because if it shouldn’t be this way, then wouldn’t it not be this way? Is it possible to have something be that should not be?

I don’t know the answer to these questions.

A Society of Bodies Running Around with No Heads

I realized today thinking about writing this that I have not had television in my home in over a decade. I have not missed it, and in fact whenever I’m around it, it makes me jumpy. I do not like it. It’s invasive and disconnecting. This is interesting considering what I was thinking about writing about, which is this feeling of disconnection at the end of a long, extremely busy period.

Over the last several weeks, I have found myself noticing things and thinking to myself, “How did I forget about that?” I would see tire marks in some mud along a curb with bits of gravel smudged into it, or a brown bird sitting on a wire cheeping, or thick grass swaying in the wind and rain, and I would stare at whatever thing it was in that moment and marvel, wondering, “How could I forget this?” After a time I started putting these noticings together and became curious as to their origin. “What is wrong with me?” I’m running too much, going too fast, too disconnected from the world. How did I forget the way that the color of the bark on a tree is darker and lighter, the depth of hue changing with the texture in the tree’s outer covering?

One afternoon driving home from the high school where I have been student teaching, I was sitting at a traffic light waiting for it to turn green when I turned and noticed a car sitting next to me also waiting for the light to turn. The car was older and kind of dirty. Faded mud streaked the metal behind the front wheel well. The tire had no hub cap. I glanced inside the passenger side window and saw faded upholstery. The sun was warm and I could imagine the smell inside that car. I sat there in those moments staring, and it was as if time had slowed down. Again, I had that sense of remembering, recalling this physical thing and thinking, “I forgot that, too.”

It dawned on me then that I was disconnected from earth. Before I began this grad program, I would have days where I felt like I was running and getting nowhere, usually related to driving to picking up my daughter, then driving to get the other daughter, then driving to get to some activity, then driving to go see my horse, then driving home, hastily throwing together a meal while picking up the house, taking care of the pets and children, setting things up for the following morning, then doing it all again. But there would be time in between this when I could reconnect, get back in the garden, head out into the woods for a hike, or spend enough time at the stable that I could pull the string holding my balloon head out from my body and drag it down and reconnect it to myself again, like an astronaut connecting the helmet to her spacesuit. Turn and click.

The master’s degree on top of that changed everything. I added days of classes on top of student teaching on top of working on top of parenting and animals. Activities got whittled down to nothing. My horse got almost no attention from me. Writing all but disappeared.

And here I am now and the string holding my head is long and thready. I am not attached to my body. I am not grounded. I feel like I’m falling apart. My attention has gone to hell. I want a vacation, but that would require more effort than I can muster. As was always the case in the past when I had long periods of intensity and then a break, I am getting sick. Today is my last day of student teaching and I can barely keep my head up. Three weeks ago I sprained my ankle. Last week I fell down my basement stairs. I am so disconnected, my body is just going on without my head and it’s not a good thing.

For me, television puts me in this place without even having to have grad school on top of an already too busy life. It makes me feel that same disconnection. I really hate it. I wonder if it disconnects other people as well, but they’re too disconnected to notice it. I’m sure it does. We are a society of bodies running around with no heads.

Yesterday I had acupuncture followed by a chiropractic adjustment. I needed both. Usually in acupuncture, I fall into a semi-comatose sleep that leaves me dazed but reconnected. I never got there. My daughter was in the appointment with me, and while she was somewhat distracting, it was more the head rest that was just uneven enough from the table to hurt the neck and shoulder that already hurt after my tumble down the stairs. My gown kept falling off my right butt cheek and the chill wasn’t pleasant. My nose filled then dripped. Isabel got me a tissue. I reached around with my less needled arm and stuffed it into the dripping nostril. This made my face fill, pressure building under my eyes and through my cheeks. All of this coupled with the uncomfortable head rest kept was so disagreeable that I finally gave up, pulling the tissue out and letting the mucous fall on the floor. Drip. Drip. Drip. I let the head feel misery in the face rest. I held my arm out to an angle to relieve the ache in the shoulder. I let my ass freeze in the air conditioning always too cold.

Lying there, I realized that I cannot remain this disconnected. I have to slow down. I can’t live in a city where the traffic app on my phone is solid red every single night and getting anywhere takes four times as long as it should. There are too many humans in this same state and I fear that too many of them are not even aware that they are zombies with helium heads. It’s scary for me imagining being in a place where so many people are so cut off from themselves and the earth they inhabit. It makes it easier for them to do things thoughtlessly with all the other zombies in their path. We are all a bunch of crazy pinballs banging into one another, the strings from our heads getting tangled and torn. It’s no way to live. Something has to give or the giving will be me. I’ll be at the end of my life, my children will be grown, and I’ll have no idea what happened along the way.

Population Reduction

I read another article today about how humans need to change their eating habits if we are going to survive. In it, the author presumed a human population of 10 billion by 2050.

What I would like to know is why the population numbers are taken as a given and considering reducing population numbers is never even explored. If humans really want to make a meaningful impact, we are going to have to do more than change our eating habits. We are going to have to reduce our populations to much smaller numbers. We are going to have to accept that some of us cannot have children. That is the price we all have to pay in order to have any possibility of survival (which is slim anyway, considering our many destructive impacts on this planet).

Of course, any time anyone brings up the possibility of reducing population everyone starts screaming and jumping up and down that we are going to infringe on rights or force poorer populations to stop having families, but overreacting and assuming the worst-case scenario doesn’t alter the current trajectory and distracts from the reality that if we don’t do it, nature is going to do it for us, and it’s going to do it in a much crueler manner than we could. Death by starvation is not pretty. Humans cannot continue living as they have. Humans with greater resources cannot continue living like their needs are the only needs, and ignoring the entire planet in the process.

It’s a fact–the planet is not limitless and living like it is will ensure its destruction.

Building Credit

I hear it all the time in my practice. People say they want to “build their credit.” Every time I hear this phrase I cringe. It’s held up like a badge of honor, building credit or having good credit. “I want excellent credit!”

Yet really, what does this mean? Building credit means creating debt for oneself and paying it back, not all at once, but in bits and pieces, so some secret algorithms can spit out a high number that allows one to become even more in debt.  This is insane.

Seriously. Building credit is building the ability to be in debt. This is what many Americans strive for. I want a good credit score! Why? So that I can borrow money and be in debt. Having a good credit score means having the ability to be in debt. Is this something one should really strive for?

Here’s a concept: how about building the ability to be debt free? Rather than constantly worrying about paying the debt that good credit score bought, how about saving money so that you don’t have to be in debt?

Many of my clients after bankruptcy will ask about building that score back up. I ask, “Do you really want to build the ability to be in debt again?” Most look at me like the thought has never crossed their minds. Many then get a little Aha! look in their eyes and consider the possibilities of not worrying about their credit score and not being in debt.

If everyone who is actually able to pay their creditors took the money they spend on paying debt and put that money in the bank, they would have the money necessary to pay for an emergency if one arises. The “emergency” excuse I hear the most often from people wanting to get another credit card. What if I need money for an emergency?

My answer to that question is that if you are in an “emergency” that requires money, then using a credit card is going to make that emergency bigger and the amount of money necessary larger as well. If you pay a loan shark to borrow money (and make no mistake, credit cards are legalized loan sharks), then you’re going to end up owing and paying a lot more for that emergency than if you used your own money. How? Because you’ll pay interest on the money needed for that emergency. If you didn’t have the money to pay for the emergency in the first place, you’re going to have to make payments on that credit card (or loan). You’ll pay interest on the payments. This means that a percentage of your payment will pay back the loan, but the rest will line the pockets of the bank. You borrow $2000, you end up paying much more than that. If instead you use your own money from your own savings, you’ll just be putting your payments back in your own account and all of the money will be yours for future “emergencies.”

Further, often “emergencies” are expenditures that should be planned for, such as car repairs or a new furnace. If you set aside money each month to pay for these periodic expenditures as they arise, they won’t be an emergency and you won’t have to pay a loan shark to deal with them.

Of course I realize that many, many Americans do not make enough money to even pay minimum dues on credit cards or loans, so they certainly won’t have enough to set any aside. There are many struggling with this scenario and there are no easy or pithy answers. These are the people that the serious loan shark lenders prey upon, payday loan lenders and places like Springleaf Financial. The only way out of this situation is to bring in more money (not easy) or lessen expenditures (also not easy). This situation is not one I am going to solve in a blog post, but I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t exist.

Yet these people near the bottom economically are not usually the ones who are begging me to tell them how to increase their credit scores. No. The beggars are the ones who have enough discretionary income to want a good credit score. They are the ones who want to have the ability to be in debt. Having a good credit score means you can be in debt, and really, this is not something to be proud of.

Can Someone Please Help me with this Letter?

Dear Ms. Gardner,
We regret to inform you that, despite our previous assurances to the contrary, we will not be able to return your brain.  Unfortunately, your brain was part of a shipment of brains that was lost at sea over the Bermuda Triangle, a region of the northwestern Atlantic Ocean in which a number of aircraft and surface vessels have disappeared in what are said to be circumstances that fall beyond the boundaries of human error or acts of nature.  As you may know, some of these disappearances have been attributed to the paranormal, a suspension of the laws of physics, or activity by extraterrestrial beings.  Although substantial documentation exists showing numerous incidents to have been inaccurately reported or embellished by later authors, there is no doubt that many ships and airplanes have been lost in the area.

As is often the case in the place just described, the plane carrying your brain simply disappeared off any radar.  Despite extensive searches and radio calls, we have been unable to make contact with the aircraft, its crew, or the items on board.  In fact, one search plane was also lost in the process.

We sincerely apologize for this egregious error.  We realize now that in attempting to save time by crossing this area of the Atlantic Ocean in order to decrease costs and thereby increase profits, we have created a huge liability for ourselves.  Our only hope is that because it was your brain that was lost, you will now lack the intelligence to realize the error was ours (despite this letter) and do nothing against us in retaliation or to mitigate your loss.  We also offer our condolences; a deficit of this magnitude must be quite distressing.  We certainly understand how you must be feeling right now, even without your limbic system.  There must be some awareness on your part that something is, well, missing.

As evidence of our sincerest and deepest sympathy, we would like to offer you this $10 gift certificate to Amazon.com.  It is our hope that you will be able to locate a nice children’s book or some other fine gift befitting the current state of your intelligence.  Perhaps a book on the alphabet or counting will allow you to find work at a telephone control center or at customer service for a credit card company.  In fact, we would be willing to put you in touch with our affiliates in these areas should you require assistance in becoming gainfully employed.  Additionally, we would also like to provide you with this gift of a handsome wallet for your identification and in some cases, pizza.

Again, please accept our apologies.  And have a happy holiday.  Thank you so much.

Sincerely,

Brain Restoration Services, LLC

Dear Brain Restoration Services, LLC;
I so much appreciated your letter.  Your kindness in letting me know that my brain had been lost in the Bermuda Triangle, and then your further kindness in offering me the $10 gift certificate and possible assistance with employment were both truly above and beyond the call of duty.  I accept the Amazon certificate, by the way, and look forward to locating a book I can now read (as reading has become somewhat difficult in the weeks since losing my brain).  I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have been helping me in all areas, including reading, feeding, and wiping drool from my chin.  Without you I may actually have drowned.  Much gratitude also to my cousin for typing this letter on my behalf.

I would beg your further kindness, if at all possible.  Unfortunately, Amazon does not carry drool rags.  I searched their site high and low (again with the assistance of friends and family) and was unable to locate one in my price range.  I did locate a towel designed by a famous designer (his name escapes me at the moment–a not uncommon occurrence these days), only this towel was both quite large and quite expensive.  It was not really suitable for my needs.  I would prefer something absorbent that will withstand frequent washings.  Actually, two or three would be most suitable so I have something to use whilst my soiled rags are being laundered.

I also would like to inquire whether you are aware if others who lost their brains in this unfortunate incident might like to get together, not for a support group, but to play.  I think it would be quite enjoyable to build things with blocks or stack plastic rings with one another.  Our caretakers may even be able to trade ideas on dealing with the excess drool and, um, issues surrounding personal hygiene.  I have been made to understand that diaper changing on adults is rather difficult, as you may imagine.

Again, I so appreciate your thoughtfulness and hope this letter finds you well.  I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Yours sincerely,

Lara Gardner

Depopulation Events

“A total world population of 250-300 million people, a 95% decline from present levels, would be ideal.” — Ted Turner, in an interview with Audubon magazine

“The Planetary Regime might be given responsibility for determining the optimum population for the world and for each region and for arbitrating various countries’ shares within their regional limits. Control of population size might remain the responsibility of each government, but the Regime would have some power to enforce the agreed limits.” — John P. Holdren: from Ecoscience

“The elderly are useless eaters.” — Henry Kissinger: from “The Final Days.”

Does anyone else worry that a bunch of rich people are just planning to kill the rest of us? There is evidence out there that a bunch of corporate leaders are planning a world depopulation event. Maybe a few. Good times. Listen here if interested.

Portland is so Friendly

Portland is so friendly. There is a show about how hip and nice everyone is. Lots of people are moving here. But shhh, don’t mention that the livability everyone raves about is virtually gone. Rents are sky high. Traffic is abominable. Food prices remain stagnantly high even though the price of gas has been consistently low for years. Jobs are scarce and wages are below national averages, but hey! We have a great t.v. show named after us and that’s just swell, right? If we told the truth about how Portland really is, all the people who think it is so wonderful might not make the move and the city “leaders” would lose all that commerce kickback and that would be bad. Other Americans watch the special show and see the Subarus at the stop signs waving one another through, and the friendly restaurant customers making sure they know the chicken’s history before they will eat it, and think Oh! I want to be in a place like this!

Let me you in on a little secret: It’s all an act. Portlanders aren’t really so friendly; they just want you to think they are friendly. It’s friendliness for an audience: I’ll speak really loudly in the grocery store offering you the cantaloupe we both reached for so everyone knows how friendly I really am; I’ll wave through the car in front of me so all the cars at the stop sign can see I’m friendly while ignoring the 18 cars stuck behind me; I’ll drive really slowly behind the bike in the middle of the road going 4 miles per hour because Hey! I’m chill with with it. Nevermind that the biker isn’t friendly at all and will chase you down and flip your ass off if you dare go around him because “sharing the road” means people driving cars are all assholes who deserve to die while bikers are revered Gods who can do whatever they want. They get a pass from the courtesy rules of Portland because they are riding bikes and that is better for the planet, right?

If I seem sarcastic (and how could I not, because I am being incredibly sarcastic), it is because I have lived in Oregon my entire life and Portland off and on since 1988 and I know that the marketing campaign that paints Portland as it is is complete bullshit. I’ve known this for years. Anyone who has lived here most of their adult life knows it is bullshit. We talk about it being bullshit. So why now am I suddenly discussing the bullshit on my blog?

I live in the Overlook neighborhood of north Portland. I don’t live in the Overlook neighborhood proper overlooking the ridge for which the neighborhood gets its name. I live over toward Arbor Lodge. It is less ostentatious, more racially diverse, and less economically advantaged over here, but that is changing rapidly.

Mine is currently a BadAss neighborhood. A few years ago, some guys made a Portland Badassness Map. They put together all the little things they thought made the different neighborhoods in Portland cool and hip, that is Badass. See it here. My neighborhood is moving up that list. I think their criteria included the ability to walk to bars, beers, food carts, strip bars, and coffee, but really it comes down to the most gentrified and expensive. (They could have sorted it by which neighborhood had cast out the most poor and colored people and replaced them with white educated people and it would have kept the same parameters. The Pearl (and these italics are so that the name is stated with a hint of sarcasm) is a “Hella Badass” neighborhood, the Pearl being the most stolen-from-the-poor-and-given-to-the-rich-neighborhood of all and one of the reasons all those people keep flooding in.)

I realize that in my neighborhood I am one of the gentrifiers. I didn’t know I was doing it when I did it. I just wanted a house I could afford and when I bought my tiny little house that had been a rental for 20 years I had no idea that my neighborhood would soon be a hotbed of coolness and that the value of my house would nearly double within three years, but such is the nature of gentrification. One of the things I valued about the neighborhood when I bought it was the fact that there were many brown faces walking by. Lately, the brownness is disappearing. I also valued the fact that all of the children in my daughter’s school weren’t wealthy. I’ll bet that will disappear too as the prices continue to climb.

But I digress. I was on a rampage about the Overlook Neighborhood Association. I never did go there, did I?

So I live in the Overlook neighborhood and there is an Overlook Neighborhood Association. They hold meetings and print a paper that is favorable to building ugly cement monstrosities along Interstate Avenue that don’t fit with the character of the city or the neighborhood. Basically, I think they may be a bunch of rich assholes who moved here from somewhere else. All of the meetings have been when I have either had to work or could not find a babysitter so I haven’t gone, though it is my goal to attend one, especially since they have decided to vehemently oppose the homeless camp at the bottom of the overlook ridge. They claim they would like the camp to be “managed responsibly,” but really that just means they want to move them out. Here is a quote from one of the emails I get from the association:

The Overlook Neighborhood Association Board at its monthly meeting on Tuesday discussed the homeless camps at N Greeley Avenue near N Interstate Avenue. Board members expressed particular concern that the city has neither communicated with the neighborhood nor followed through on its promises to manage the camp responsibly.

Therefore, the Board today sent the following letter to Mayor Charlie Hales and members of City Council asking that the city immediately close the camp, exercise emergency authority to open humane shelters throughout the city, and help campers relocate into them or other more suitable places.

Yes. Get them out of here. We don’t like the way they are, all homeless and whatnot, because homeless people don’t act like we do. They live in tents and are dirty and all that. They pee outside! So we want you to shut them away somewhere else. If you can’t do that, then we will just have to do this:

About 75 people attended the Overlook Neighborhood Association special meeting on Wednesday to discuss the homeless camps on N Greeley Avenue near N Interstate Avenue. The OKNA Board heard from a couple of representatives of Hazelnut Grove and about two dozen neighborhood residents. They provided thoughtful, compassionate ideas about how the neighborhood association should respond to the current city plans for the homeless campers.

After the neighborhood testimony, the board discussed the options and voted to take two steps in parallel:

First, we will send a letter to the city reiterating our opposition to allowing the camp to exist on a site that is unhealthy and unsafe. If, over the neighborhood’s objection, the city chooses to issue a permit for the camp, we request that it include provisions that will address concerns raised by neighbors and will improve health and safety for all. Among them, we will ask:

That campers be required to register under their legal name as residents so that the city and neighbors know who is living there. That there be a cap on the number of campers allowed. That a firm deadline be established by which the camp will shut down no later than the expiration of the city’s emergency declaration in October 2016. The mayor’s office has repeatedly stated that this is a temporary, short-term solution. It’s time to define what that means. The full letter and list of requests is in the works. It should be available early next week. The Board will post it to the OKNA website and send it out to our email list.

Second, we will consult with an attorney regarding our legal options to address the city’s plans through litigation if necessary. We remain deeply disappointed that the city has refused to engage with us in any meaningful way and regret that legal action seems to be the only course forward to have our concerns addressed by the city.

Essentially, this is the thoughtful and compassionate view of my neighbors who care: that we get to know everyones’ names (even though we don’t know all of our own neighbors’ names, but hey, homeless people are all criminals), they have to leave by next year (because money and jobs are plentiful in beautiful Portland and they block our view), and since you haven’t done what we want all along, we are hiring a lawyer to sue your asses and send those skanky homeless people packing. They ruin our view of the industrial wasteland along the river! But if we say we are compassionate, we are, and that’s what counts, right?

The City of Portland gave Hyatt Hotels something millions of city dollars to build an ugly hotel by the convention center so more people could come and stay here before moving here and making the city ever less livable by the second and so that the NBA would hold an all star game here, because THAT is important (more traffic, more people, more homeless hidden away in outer Gresham or somewhere). The City cares about its rich friends who build hotels. They are busy! They are important! They invest! The City is too busy being busy and important to be spending the money of its gentrified citizens making sure that people without money have a warm and dry place to live or food in their bellies. Most of those gross homeless people are probably mentally ill too, so the truly compassionate thing to do would be to just kill them because they aren’t able to fully participate in the capitalist dream anyway. Although I did discover in attempting to find links to back up this claim that there are lawsuits trying to block the payment to Hyatt. I am heartened that some people can see that it is fully insane, but my cynical self supposes it has less to do with any real compassion and more to do with hubris.

Meanwhile, in Iran, part of the Axis of Evil, residents have created spaces where those in need can take the excess from those who have too much. See the BBC article here. These spontaneous charity drives were created to help those in need. Interestingly, as these charity walls increased in number, the citizens saw them as evidence that their government wasn’t doing enough to help people in need. Imagine that, expecting those who govern us to take care of everyone rather than making sure their views aren’t sullied or that hoteliers have a free rein to build.

I can see such walls popping up in Portland. However, here citizens would not see such charity as proof of lack by their government, but as proof of how good we are. We could make a Portlandia episode out of it. Portland, the do-gooder city, gets rid of its old clothes and helps out the poor! Aren’t we wonderful? Why don’t you move here and join us? When you get here, make sure to kick out the homeless people you probably displaced when you drove up the costs of living because such an eyesore would ruin the image you have created of yourself as friendly and compassionate. Welcome!

Thanksgiving Sonnet

Here again, my annual posting of the sonnet I wrote in college about turkey murder on our holiday. I’ve gone back and tried again and again to get the exact syllabic format for a completely proper sonnet, but could not find words to replace those here that would maintain the imagery and metaphoric content that I want, and so it stays the same.

Thanksgiving Sonnet
Turgid turkeys, strained into rickety wooden coffins, exit four-by-four from a ten-ton hearse. Into the turkey mill: mutilation, holocaust.

Perspiring hormones, Tom Turkey stares with one sad eye at a crumbling chimney tower belching death in putrid smoke, blackening holiday skies. Annihilating light.

Bodies, bones. None remain unfrozen. With elaborate precision he’s taken apart; neck, gizzards tied in a bag between his ribs, head ground neatly into pink hot dog slabs.

Holiday skies are crowded with turkey souls, ascending to heaven like deflated balloons.

ChickensTurkeys

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lovely film that all should watch is My Life as a Turkey. Watch it online here.

There was only one time in US history when refugees actually did wipe everyone out—and we’ll be celebrating it on Thursday.” — John Oliver

Internal

My crises are always internal. I doubt most who see me would notice the turmoil in my own head. I look like I’m just there, but I am an illusion. My own illusion. We are all our own illusions. Some of us are maintaining our crises internally, while others’ are out like sheets on a line flapping in the wind.

I Don’t Know

I am a flawed human being. Perhaps any efforts to mold myself to the contrary are pointless; it isn’t possible to exist without flaw. The question is how much effort I should continue to expend or if I should just accept this level of flaw and leave it at that. Sometimes I feel worn out with the effort and not much in the way of reward.

I don’t know.

If Wishes Were Horses

I have heard the expression If wishes were horses. I don’t know where I heard this. I am resisting googling this before I write so my writing is not colored by whatever I find on the internets. I keep thinking that if wishes were horses, there would not be enough room on the planet to sustain all of them. And also that wishing and wishing and wishing does not make something true. Desire, desire, desire leads to wishing, wishing, wishing. If every wish were a horse this would be a very strange planet. And what about the horses themselves? Perhaps they are wishing too. What then?

For me, if wishes were horses, there would be a herd indeed.

I did do an internets search and found out that it comes from an old proverb. Horses can be interchanged with birds and fishes. This proverb is recorded in English from quite an early date. A version of the expression appeared in the published works of William Camden in the 17th century. The first known citation of the proverb in the form we now know it is in James Carmichaell’s Collection of Proverbs in Scots:

If wishes were horses, beggers wald ryde.

The date of Carmichaell’s work is unclear, but it does appear to have been published in his lifetime and he died in 1628. Whether it was Carmichaell or Camden who first recorded the proverb is currently not known.

I wonder if this means that beggars didn’t get to ride horses in those days. This should not surprise me. Owning a horse is an expensive proposition. Capitalism would have ensured that those at the bottom of the food chain did not own a horse, which requires food and shoeing and a place to live. No, beggars would not have ridden.

Okay, stream of consciousness, too early because I can’t sleep post is over. Suffice to say, for me, if wishes were horses, I wald haft love.

How to Get Rid of a Smelly Sponge

How come kitchen sponges are smelly?

I made a discovery about stinky sponges. I’ve always make a point of squeezing all the water out of a dish sponge so that it doesn’t sit and fester and smell. When I used to have a dishwasher, I would wash the sponge in it periodically to disinfect it with hot water. I have also sprayed the stinky sponge with bleach, which I don’t like to do because it gets a toxic chemical near our dishes.

For a few years now though the sponges in our house have not been stinky. I attributed this to vigilant sponge squeezing. We also have a little rack that hangs on the side of the sink to put the sponge in so it doesn’t sit stewing in water. The sponge used to really smell when I lived with my ex who would leave it in a puddle in the bottom of the sink. We’ve been apart for over five years now and the sponge hasn’t smelled since then. Keep it dry, keep it on the side of the sink. Problem solved, or so I thought.

Then I made an interesting discovery.

For the longest time, I purchased mainstream dish washing liquid  like Dawn™.  When I moved back home to Portland and was able to shop again at New Seasons, I started buying more environmentally friendly soaps that smelled really good like Mrs. Meyers Clean Day™. Oh, I love that soap. It’s not much more expensive than the mainstream stuff and it smells so delicious.

One day, we ran out of dish washing soap and I was at some store that isn’t New Seasons buying who knows what. The store didn’t have any options for dish washing soap other than mainstream brands. I bought a jug of Dawn™ and didn’t think much of it. It doesn’t smell pretty like Mrs. Meyers™, but we were out of soap and it was there so I bought it. I thought little of it beyond that.

Then a couple of weeks later, I realized that no matter how much I squeezed out our sponge, it smelled. Bad. I couldn’t figure why until I remembered the dish washing liquid change and wondered if this was what caused the smell to return so I decided to try an experiment.

I bought some more of the Mrs. Meyers™ environmentally friendly soap and started using it instead of the Dawn™. I did this for a week and the smelly sponge went away. I used the Dawn™ again for a week. The smelly sponge returned.

My conclusion?

Smelly sponges have nothing to do with how much water you squeegy out of them, they smell because of the detergent used to wash dishes. I have no doubt of this. I’ve tried a variety of different soaps including Trader Joe’s dish washing soap. No smell. Biocleen™. No smell. J.R. Watkins™. No smell. Seems to be the Dawn™ that makes the sponge smelly for whatever reason.

I still have the jug of Dawn™ under my sink way in the back. It’s there because I’m not sure how to dispose of it without putting it in a landfill and somehow that feels as bad as dumping chemicals in a landfill. I’m sticking with the good stuff. Dawn™ might “cut grease” but God only knows what else it’s doing that it allows bacteria to fester in the dish sponge and make it smell like old feet. Yuck. No, thank you.

Smoke and Fire

Love wins today. Love always wins. In this moment, there is love. The fear I feel from these fires is filled with love for this earth. The earth is us and we have eaten her like a cancer, eaten ourselves.

Our city was covered in smoke today blown in from wildfires in eastern Washington and northeastern Oregon. The entire Willamette Valley was covered in smoke. This fills me with sadness and dismay. I awakened because I needed to go to the bathroom. My room was stuffy because during the day Saturday the girls closed out the smoke. When I went to bed I didn’t reopen the window. When I awakened, the room felt stuffy so I opened the window to let in some fresh air. The breeze blowing in was crisp and smelled fresh. No smoke. But it got me thinking about the smoke and fires, awakened me. I looked on the internets and read stories about the smoke and fires and wept.

We are killing our planet, humans. We have to face reality. These fires. This water shortage. This changed summer that is like nothing we have ever experienced. These heat waves over and over and over. 2 degrees Celsius average increase means temperatures of 130 degrees. Can you live with that?

We are taking something so beautiful and killing it for our convenience. What have we gained? What has industrialization gained us? We have less time to spend together than ever before. We live in boxes separated from one another and stare at screens in our hands and on our desks instead of looking at one another and what do we get from it? Our planet burns. It sweeps water from the oceans across the land. We are destroying species at rates unheard of for millions of years. Yes, it is us. For convenience. What will it take to wake people up? Will it be our own extinction?

I hold my small daughter in my arms and feel such love for her and also such real grief and fear of what she will grow up into.

Nature does bat last, but really, who wins this if the planet is burned and gone?

Backpacking, Bursitis, and Lonely Hearts

Backpacking Separation Creek Loop

IMG_6314The guidebook for backpacking the Separation Creek Loop in the Three Sisters Wilderness of the Willamette National Forest recommends hiking the loop counterclockwise. The only reason I can gather for this recommendation is that the author of the guide seemed to believe most packers would start out on a Saturday (he says as much). Hiking counterclockwise would put one at the busiest part of the trail after the weekend, thereby ensuring the packer would not hit this section of the trail while it was busy.

Did it occur to the author that backpackers might actually start on another day of the week? There is at least a one-in-six chance of this occurring. What then? Did the fact that from the map it appears that in the counterclockwise direction, 35 of the 40-42 miles (one can add 2 miles doing a loop around a lake if one so chooses) would be uphill? The elevation gain proceeding in this direction is significant. From the description of the hike, it also appears that the 5 mile or so portion that would be downhill near the end is not nearly as steep as one section near the beginning of the counterclockwise version with a 700 foot elevation gain within a half a mile.

Considering these factors, I have to ask the author of this particular guidebook, “Are you f-ing crazy?” Why not offer the clockwise direction as the recommended option and then tell people if they begin on Saturday they’ll hit the busy part of the trail on the weekend? Why not offer both options and point out that the bulk of the hike will be gain?

I didn’t notice these details until I was nearly 8 miles in. The 700 foot climb in a half mile kicked my ass, to say the least. I am pretty fit. I am strong. Yet carrying 30 pounds up the side of a freaking mountain is a lot to ask of a person. If I wanted to rock climb, I’d take up that sport. It’s not my thing. I like backpacking and hiking. I don’t even mind some elevation gain. But that shit was crazy. And at about 2/3 of the way up I started disliking my guidebook author pretty intensely.

Let me back up a bit.

I decided to do this loop alone for many reasons, the biggest of which was that I didn’t have anyone to go with, and I needed a vacation in the worst way. I wanted some kind of spiritual clarity. I’m going through some pretty massive changes in my life. I’m in school again to get my master’s in teaching and planning to leave the practice of law within the year. My littlest girl is starting kindergarten and my oldest has been gone for two months in Paraguay. And of course I recently went through the requisite man troubles that seem par for the course in this lifetime. I was feeling a little bruised from this (still kind of feel bruised from this, truth be told). I really like the guy. He really likes me. Yet he’s terrified of relationships, terrified of functioning much in the world, unhappy with himself and life in general. I cannot fix this. I don’t want to fix it. Yet it doesn’t seem so insurmountable as he seems to think it is and I was (am) frustrated by this. We had planned and booked a vacation together. My youngest daughter was on vacation with her father. My oldest wanted to stay home and sleep. I was so looking forward to getting away and our choice of trip was delightful, especially for a couple of book-loving introverts. We were going to stay in a cabin in the woods near a lake, kayak and hike, and lie around off the grid. We were going to visit Crater Lake and the giant redwoods in northern California. It sounded like pure bliss.

A week prior to our planned departure, he canceled. He was completely freaked out over many things I have no desire to go into here. He wanted a break to work on himself. He probably needs it, but his timing was terrible. I had already paid for the cabin. I really needed to go somewhere. I didn’t want to go by myself on the trip the two of us had planned. It was too far to drive alone and would have been depressing. Every other option I came up with sounded dreary and boring.

Then I remembered my backpacking book. Even though we had planned to hike some of the trails in the book together, I didn’t see why I couldn’t hike one alone. I’m geared up. I wanted to go. The trail called. I chose the trail based on its length for the time I wanted to hike and the solitude. I guess on that front I understand why the author made the counterclockwise choice. I readied my pack and set off, spending the night before departing in Eugene to be closer to the trailhead.

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Spider webs glistening in the sunlight.

Up until the precipice alluded to earlier, I was pretty happy about my guide, yet his descriptions of some parts of the trail left a bit to be desired. I understood, however, that the guide was filled with many hikes and it might not have been possible to include the fact that this trail crossed a LOT of water. Even in August in an extremely dry year, I crossed several bogs and streams rolling down the sides of mountains. Thank goodness for excellent Lowa Renegade GTX Mid Hiking GoreTex hiking boots with ankle support (yes, this is my product placement because these boots are so awesome). They make rock hopping on the side of a mountain a dry and supportive experience. They’re light. They fit well. I am extremely satisfied with these shoes. They are worth every penny I paid for them. They certainly helped when I hit stream after stream and water running out the side of the mountain and often down trails that could not be skirted without practically climbing down the side of a cliff. My foot didn’t feel one ounce of moisture when I fell off a log crossing a creek and landed with one foot ankle deep in mud. And the mud just wiped off the boot. You can’t even tell this happened.

The woods were amazing, filled with boulders and old growth, sky high trees, and lush native undergrowth. Snowberry bushes, rhododendrons, mountain huckleberries, sorrel, Oregon grapes, and more lined every trail. Thank goodness also for zip-on hiking pants. Someone out there in backpacking land has figured out all these details and the equipment available to us while hiking reflects this. I’d started out with the bottoms zipped off my pants. Those bottoms went right back on within a mile of starting out because the trail was so bushy.

The silence and serenity of the forest were just what the doctor ordered. I forgot civilization and became a part of the forest. Gradually as I proceeded several miles down the trail, I heard rushing water that grew louder as I eventually joined the Separation Creek from which the trail gets its name. I passed a couple of campgrounds, but I had only been out for about 3 hours and I certainly was not ready to camp in mid-afternoon, even if the campgrounds looked welcoming. Plus they were near that rushing water and I really wanted more quiet for camping.

After about five miles I came to a flat-topped log bridge across the creek. Creek is a mild word for what was essentially a small river. The bridge was about 12 feet above this and probably 20 feet across. In other words, scary as hell to me. I started to cross, then felt wobbly with my pack and backed up. I’m not fond of high places. I’m fine if it’s impossible to fall, but the fear of falling is strong in me. I stared across the log for a good five minutes trying to work up the courage to cross.

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The Separation Creek bridge. From this photo it isn’t apparent how high it is above the water. It’s a good 12 feet.

Finally I located a long stick to carry with me. I stepped up onto the log, holding the stick in front of me, tapping as I went. I looked only at the place on the log where my the tip of the stick touched and shuffled very slowly across. I didn’t even put one foot in front of the other. Tap the stick forward, shuffle one foot forward, shuffle the other behind. Tap the stick forward, shuffle one foot forward, shuffle the other behind. Do not look down at the water rushing loudly below. Do not consider what would happen if a loud noise startled me. Do not think about falling.

I made it across, elated. I turned and shouted at the log, “I did it!” I’m such a dork.

Crossing the bridge energized me. I was thrilled that I had conquered this fear. I have had dreams of crossing bridges like this one and nearly falling. I’ve had dreams of climbing steep staircases and then not being able to get down. I’ve had dreams of walking out on beams and being stuck in the middle, too terrified to go forward or back. I’m sure Freud would have a field day with me and these dreams of balancing acts in high places. I think it’s probably something to do with feeling anxiety about balancing so much in my life. Who knows? In any case, I was raring to go again after this. I was several hours in and needed the motivation.

The trail did a switchback up the opposite side of the rushing creek. There were several boggy wet places and many of them were filled with tiny little frogs. This brought me further delight, these perfect little creatures living out in the woods away from humans.

Eventually I came to Separation Lake. I stopped to rest and eat. The lake edge is covered with lily pads and downed logs fallen into the water. Dragonflies swooped. Frogs plopped. I saw fishes jumping out in the center. High mountains and trees reflected on the serene water. Seriously, the place was like something from a painting or a meditation on peace. It was utterly exquisite.

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Lovely Separation Lake.

I set down my pack and pulled out my sleeping pad. I ate some lunch then lay on the pad for 20 minutes to rest. I was finally chased off by some kind of a wasp that was very interested in my activities. I’m not sure why. I did not eat anything or carry any kind of food that would have been interesting to a wasp, nor did it seem interested in looking for food. It seemed truly curious about this weird creature lying at the foot of a massive tree near the bank of the lake. I had hiked about 7 miles at this point and was enjoying my rest. I wanted to get another several miles down the trail before camping. I had decided I would settle down an hour before sundown, knowing that the dark would be immense and existing with a flashlight wouldn’t be the easiest thing in the world outside of a tent. The wasp motivated me just enough to keep moving. I had stinger pads in my first aid kit, but that didn’t mean I had any desire to use them. I wound my way gradually downhill for almost another mile before crossing yet another rushing stream.

The forest was so lovely. I was feeling peaceful in nature, and grateful to be there. Wasp or no wasp, the trip so far felt blessed. The guidebook warned that after this last stream, there would be the 700 foot climb. After crossing the water, I looked up the side of the mountain in front of me. I felt a small twinge of qualm, but pushed it down. I could do this. I gathered the pack and began.

By the end of the climb I no longer felt serenity. I was pissed off at the author for his suggestion of this route. I was mad. Mad at the climb, mad at the author, mad at myself for coming, mad at the man for not going on vacation, mad at the world. It was truly amazing how that one brutal climb changed my mood so drastically in a relatively short amount of time. Halfway up I shouted Fuck this shit!. Halfway again I screamed at the guidebook author You’re out of your fucking mind, you sadist bastard! Blessed? Hell no. I felt cursed.

The other issue that developed alongside my anger was a serious pain in my left leg just under my knee. I know now that I suffered Pes Anserine Bursitis, an inflammation of the bursa sac located between the shin bone and the three tendons of my hamstring. Pain in the area is exacerbated by climbing. I am seeing a physical therapist for a shoulder injury and she explained this to me upon my return and subsequent description of the injury. Whatever it was called, it hurt like hell when I climbed. Any elevation gain was met with commensurate pain in my leg. Shit and double shit.

Even after the amazingly steep portion I just climbed, the mountain was not done with me. There was still elevation to gain. Whereas before I bore the climbing with equanimity, now any elevation meant pain. This was not fun. I was no longer looking at the woods as a place I wanted to be. I was now frustrated and hurting and annoyed with the guidebook author for what seemed to me a stupid choice in the counterclockwise option. I was frustrated with the leg. As I mentioned before, I’m fit. I hike a lot. I run. I do my squats. I ride a horse over jumps. These legs work. What was the deal? Is it just that I’m getting old? I found out later that climbing lots of stairs usually brings on this condition. Climbing the side of that mountain was like climbing 20 stories of the steepest, narrowest stairs. I’m fit, but I don’t train on stairs.

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Downed logs covered the forest floor.

Luckily the trail was balanced fairly well between gain and level hiking, and so I was able to continue as I had intended. As evening progressed, I realized that under the trees it was going to get dark a lot faster than it would have out in the non-woods world. I needed to find a place to sleep for the night. The search for somewhere flat off the trail without too much undergrowth distracted me from my irritation. I subscribe to the intention to do as little harm to the forest as possible while trekking through it. I did not want my being in a place overnight to leave any trace if I could help it. Finding a good spot for this proved challenging, as the forest floor in this area was covered with the aforementioned brush. In some places there would be nothing but floor and pine needles, but there were hundreds of downed trees. In every direction trees crossed and crossed. I wondered whether these downed trees were normal for the forest at this elevation of if there was something outside the ordinary causing this. If it’s not normal, it’s distressing because it looked almost like a river had come rushing through and left trees upended everywhere. I wanted to be off the trail, but I didn’t want to climb over many logs to camp.

I passed a few spots that probably would have worked, but I kept thinking I would find something better. It is so easy to keep thinking the next best spot will be right around the next bend or over the next ascent. Darkness was rapidly descending. The time was only just after 7, but trees are excellent at impeding the sun’s rays from penetrating the forest floor. I saw a clearing with no plants and lots of sticks. It was large enough. It didn’t require climbing a log jam to get to it. I decided I could move some sticks to set up my tent. I removed my pack and set to work.

I’m going to admit something that will probably make me look stupid or arrogant or both. Please don’t judge me. Please remember the aforementioned angst in setting out on this trip, the heartache, etc. I usually find it easy to put things together. I can often do so without reading directions or with only a cursory glance through them. I offer this as explanation for why I did not read the instructions on how to set up my new tent. I had lent my old tent to my brother and never got it back. This was fine because the new tent was much lighter than the old one anyway (aluminum — yay!). This meant that I spent a little longer than I would have in the burgeoning darkness figuring out this tent. The actual tent part, the fabric part, was easy. It’s rectangle–lay it on the ground. The poles were weird though and it took some fiddling for me to figure out how the contraption went and to remember the example tent from which I chose this model, an example tent that had been hanging up near the ceiling of the store where I bought it. How’s that go again? I figured it out, but I think I was hungry and definitely tired because I started to feel irritated again.

Once I got all situated and ate some food, I felt better. I was glad to eat and thereby lessen the weight for the next day. I was pleased with this tent that kept the bugs out. Another buzzing wasp was curious and checking me out. It wasn’t yet dark, but heading there. I sat, contemplating my little camp. I had purposely decided not to bring a book. I wanted to be present with myself and the forest. I did, however, bring a journal and a pen. I had written in the journal at the lake, noting the frogs and my isolation. I also noted the number of planes I had heard by that point. During this trip, I heard 20 planes on the first day and 5 the next. Of those 20, about 8 were heard after dark while lying in my sleeping bag, which leads me to believe there were probably more during the hiking portion of my trip during the day that I didn’t notice because I was occupied. That’s a lot of planes.

I napped a bit, then awakened. 8:30 is too early to go to bed. The forest was silent. Absolutely, utterly silent. It was so silent, when a pine needle fell on my tent, I heard the little Pip! then heard as it slid down the side.

I’m not zen. I miss everyone. It isn’t even like I’m trying to escape ME either. I just spend a lot of time with my thoughts already. I’m not gaining anything. I want company. And my knee hurts. Clarity? You know what is clear? I don’t want to be alone! I spend most of my time alone. I’m among people and alone. I spent all day thinking about Milla and Isabel and DC. That’s what I want. I’m boring.

This was the gist of most of the journal entries I wrote under my headlamp out in the woods. Lonely. Alone. I lay back down and drifted off for another fifteen minutes. Then I wakened and ate another snack. The night was so dark, I filmed it. I wrote again in the journal under the headlamp.

My eyes well up thinking about them. I miss my girls so much! I’m so lucky to have such wonderful daughters. I only feel blessed. I feel lucky. I already did. I didn’t have to come out here alone to know this. I miss all of you! I love backpacking, but not alone.

I finally fell asleep for real and slept for the rest of the night. I must have slept really well because it was 9:20 when I woke up! That’s not just late for me, it’s off the charts. I usually can’t make it past 6 a.m. Feeling pressured to get a move on, I ate my breakfast, piddled in a hole behind a log, dressed, and set out. It was at least 20 degrees cooler than it had been the day before, which was actually a welcome change. The forest had been cooler under the trees, but the day before had still been in the 80s. Not a quarter mile past where I set up to sleep, I found a spot that would have been absolutely perfect for camping. C’est la vie I thought. You never know what’s over that next hill.

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Animal scat as long as my foot.

You never know indeed. A half mile up from where I camped I came to a pile of poop on the trail that came from something large. I have not yet been able to identify it using various scat identifiers on the internet. It was definitely from something carnivorous. As you can see from this photo, it was a long as my foot! In reading various sites about animal potty, I have encountered many people wondering why it is these animals poop on the trail, as if in doing so they are sending messages to the humans who walk there. This seems to me a silly pondering. It may indeed be a message, but I don’t think so. One look at the brushy undergrowth makes trail pooping seem preferable to me. Who wants a stick poking you in the butt when you’re doing your business?  I know when I look for places to go, finding a clear place is certainly a preference.

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Enormous log I crossed on the trail. It was so wide, I straddled it like a horse.

As I traversed the trail, it continued to climb. There would be moments of descent, but mostly, up, up, up. My leg was screaming at me. The trail had also not been groomed in a long time. Downed logs crossed and criss-crossed many places. I had climbed over and under several logs the day before, but in just a couple of miles I had to clamber over log after log. Each time my leg let me know that it was not impressed. Finally, after a long uphill stretch, the trail angle increased dramatically again, reminiscent of the steep trail the day before. Pain stabbed my leg so sharply it took my breath away. At the top of the rise, I had to stop. I had wrapped my leg just below the knee in tape before leaving camp, hoping to provide some support, but the tape was doing nothing. I sat on a downed log and examined my map closely. There were a couple of shortcuts that would take the length of the trip down to about 36 miles instead of 40, but nothing eased the elevation gain. I had not seen a single other person on this journey. I hadn’t even seen evidence of any other hikers out there.

Several years ago while visiting a friend in Coos Bay, I suffered a severe sprain in my ankle while running. The ligament detached from the bone. The excruciating pain stopped me cold. I could not move. Hopping–or attempting to do so–hurt so badly that I nearly vomited. I sat and called out, trying to get someone’s attention to rescue me and take me back to my friend’s house, which finally happened, but I was in the suburbs of a small town.

This episode came to me sitting there on the side of a mountain all alone, at least 12 miles from the trailhead. I could continue, but what if the ligament on the inside of my leg detached from the bone the way the ligament in my ankle had? I don’t know enough about such things to ascertain whether this is possible. I just knew that if I became injured, the little whistle in my pack would be meaningless if there wasn’t anyone in the forest to hear it. I could be stranded for who knows how long.

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My daughter has since informed me that even without a signal, a mobile phone can call 911. I had placed my phone on airplane mode in order to maintain battery so I could use it for the gps and camera. But I didn’t know it would work to call 911 when I was out of service range. Actually, I just did a little internet research and determined that 911 works when you don’t have mobile service, meaning you do not have carrier coverage. However, it does not work when you do not have a mobile signal, which means you’re out of range, so this wouldn’t have been an option anyway.

All of this goes to explain why I decided that I had to turn and head back to the trailhead. I was worried about that 700 foot downhill grade. I was even more worried about that damn log bridge. But neither were more scary than the prospect of injury alone in the forest.

I turned around reluctantly. I felt like a failure at first in doing so. Then I realized I hadn’t failed anything. In the end I hiked 24 miles alone carrying a 30 pound backpack. That’s nothing to sneeze at. Plus even though I was lonely, it was fun. I was enchanted with nature. The forest sleep was silent and dark, unlike living in the city where there is constant noise and light. I awakened once in the middle of the night in the forest because I needed to pee, but I fell right back asleep, something that rarely happens in my own bed.IMG_6347

I remembered the camp spots I had passed near the beginning while hiking the day before. I decided to camp at the one closest to the trailhead and then hike the remaining few miles the following morning. I figured I would arrive in mid-afternoon so I could explore a bit around the stream.

The walk back was amazingly easier than the walk in had been. I covered four more miles the second day than I did the first, and hiked nearly exactly the amount of time. Downhill is easier than uphill, obviously. The steep downhill walk was difficult, but nothing compared to the climb. My leg made not one whimper as long as the ground was level or going downhill. There were places where I had to climb, but not enough to cause me any real discomfort.

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Banana slugs mating. Banana slugs are native to the northwest and feed on decaying vegetation. They do not harm gardens.

I kept my pockets stocked with nuts and dried fruit and nibbled along the way. I made it back to the lake rather quickly, considering. I thought about camping there, but it was still rather early, so decided to maintain my plan of taking the campsite closest to the trailhead. I observed the differences in the vegetation as the elevation changed. I took lots of photos, including one of two banana slugs mating. During the entire return trek, I noticed many banana slugs. I think the cooler temperatures brought them out into the open. The day before I had noticed that many of the trees had black spots on them that did not look healthy. I took photos of these as well so I could ask one of my fellow master gardeners what the blight might be.

Throughout these observations I mulled over the relationship. I kept trying to talk myself out of my feelings. I thought going to the woods would expunge my desire. I thought clarity would meaning getting over my feelings. Instead quite the opposite occurred. It was as if left alone with my thoughts and no distractions my heart could fantasize to its complete content. As I walked through the forest observing trees and slugs I would devise a story then spend twenty minutes talking myself out of it. I observed this as it was going on. In a way the observation allowed me to keep some IMG_6378distance from it. I narrated in my head what I wanted to transcribe into my journal. My thoughts go here, and then they go there. Well now. Isn’t that interesting?

I reached the log bridge back across Separation Creek in very early afternoon. I stopped and took off my pack before crossing, shuffling some heavier items to the bottom and pulling out some snacks for my pockets. I then pulled the pack back on, picked up my stick, and crossed the bridge with nary a pause, one foot in front of the other. For some reason it just wasn’t as scary. I don’t know if crossing before conquered the fear, but the trip back didn’t bother me and I crossed quickly. Once on the other side I looked back across the bridge, stopping to take a video, pleased with myself.

The map that came with my guidebook left a lot to be desired as well, even more so than the description of the hike that went with it. I remembered one of the campgrounds clearly, but the other one not so much. It said the campsites were .8 of a mile apart. I figured this would be about 15-20 minutes of walking between the two. I set out. Eventually I came to what I thought was the campsite closest to the bridge. I had been walking for quite a while, longer it seemed than it had been between the site and the bridge on the way there. I chalked it up to the slight elevation gain on this side of the creek.

Less than ten minutes later I came to what may have been a campsite, but there was no fire pit and not much room for a tent. Plus it could not have been .8 of a mile. It came up too fast, and the trail had been slightly uphill. I presumed this could not be the second campsite and kept going. And going. And going.

I never found the second campsite. Reading backwards through the description of this part of the trail and comparing it to the really terrible map, I must have passed the first campsite without knowing it, and the one I passed up thinking it was the first had to have been the second. The clear place that looked campable could not have been a campsite because of its size and lack of a fire pit.

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Trailhead.

Once I made these realizations, I simultaneously realized that I would just have to keep going and head home that same night. I was not thrilled by this. Part of the reason for the length of the trip was to give man some time to think about things without me around. I had been fighting fantasies all day. I wanted to give him a chance away and see whether he missed me at all. Two days simply wasn’t enough time. Looking back I realize I could have just headed home and not called him for another day or two, but at the time this didn’t occur to me. Dumb, much? Maybe. But it didn’t. I decided I would call him when I got back to Portland. The drive would be three and half hours. It would be around 9, but he would be awake.

I kept walking and walking. In the end I hiked 14 miles the second day. The 10 miles hiked the first were more taxing because they had been all uphill, but I was still very tired and glad to reach my car. During the planning of the trip I had briefly considered bringing my Dachshund with me. I remembered this as I changed out of my filthy hiking pants, sweaty shirt and underwear, and exchanged my boots for sandals. Poor little George’s short little legs would not have been able to handle this trip, I was sure of it. It would have been nice to have had the company, but I doubt he would have made it through the first day, let alone the return and the return at the pace I made.

Later that night back in my cozy bed, it felt weird to be home. I had only been in the woods for two full days, yet I felt altered somehow. I went in with some expectation about what clarity I would gain. In the end the trail showed me how foolish my “knowing” really was. I realize now that I did get some clarity, it just wasn’t what I thought I would be clear about. I presumed I would love the solitude. Instead I came back wanting company even more than before. I have been able to accomplish a lot in my life by myself. For me, doing something alone isn’t really a big deal. What would be different is getting to share life’s adventures with others.

Milla wants to go out with me for the next backpacking trip. When Isabel gets bigger, maybe she will want to go too. What is clear to me now is that I want them there with me, enjoying the forest, the slugs, the poop, the lakes, the trees, the boulders, the streams, the elevation gains that make me scream. All of it. I didn’t feel loneliness in the woods; I felt alone. But I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted to share that time and space with others.

I am clear about this: Companionship makes adventures more adventuresome. Sharing life with others makes it more worthwhile. Companionship is what I truly desire. My feet wonder why it took me 24 miles to figure that out, but sometimes that’s just how life is.

Kitty Cauliflower Tent

My garden is a jungle. The squash varieties are taking over their boxes. I’ve attempted to contain them, given them fences to climb, put neat little metal border fences around the bases of the boxes, both to keep dogs out and to try to keep sneaking, crawling, climbing vines in. Not working, at least for the keeping of plants in. Seems to be keeping the dogs out. The flowers are voluptuous, enormous and erotic. Here bees, come to me.

I will be walking around a mountain and some lakes for several days. I thought it would be some sort of vision quest, an attempt to connect with some lost part of myself. While it is certainly an attempt to do the latter, it’s not a vision quest, which according to google is traditionally for boys in puberty and usually involves fasting and self-torture. Um. No.

There is a box in my front yard filled with cauliflower plants. At either end of the box are two stakes, and covering the whole thing in a tent is a piece of ground cover. This protects these cold lovers from direct sun and some insects. I let Oliver out to go potty and was writing on this silly thing when he began barking and shrieking like some banshee at God only knows what. When he didn’t stop after a half a minute, I went to get him. He came in and I peeked out the window to try and figure out what had set him off. I saw a little black cat head poking out of the cauliflower tent. I wish I had been close enough with a camera for a photo. It was so sweet and funny. A kitty cauliflower tent. What a great place for a kitty to hang out too (at least as long as she’s not pooping in there, that would be bad).

Feeling Love Means Feeling Everything

And with one push
it falls
Falling
Falling
F
A
L
L
I
N
G
Then broken.

Shards of glass where there used to be a heart.

Can you imagine someone feeling so happy with you that they cannot be with you because feeling happy by necessity thereby demands they feel other feelings as well? And they don’t want to feel happiness because they might feel pain? How narrow a conception of life. How much love isn’t felt in this world because of the fear of pain. This is to me, tragedy.

Toilet Needs a New Home

I posted this ad on Craigslist a few years ago. A friend of mine asked me to repost it on the blog, so here it is:

It is time that Toilet parted ways with our family. It has been in this house for longer than we’ve been here. When we arrived, the home inspector informed us that this toilet was “top of the line” in Europe and ordered by all the best home designers in the US. “Pozzi Gnorri,” he said. “Go look them up on the internet. They’re one of the best companies in the world for bathroom fixtures.” So I did and was duly impressed. However, I had to wonder what a toilet of this caliber was doing in my little bungalow in Portland. But hey, some of us get riches to rags instead of the other way around, so who was I to question things or to remind Toilet of its brilliant beginnings? I could make Toilet sad thinking that way.

Toilet was lovely; a deep, thoughtful blue, with a white lid. And the flusher was in its top! My 8 year old loved that. Look Mom, you pull this button on top rather than pushing down on a handle! Fancy!

To keep reading, click HERE

Dear Mr. Outside Magazine Editor

Dear Mr. Outside Editor,

Here’s a concept: Don’t put some teaser on the front of your magazine and then Oops! forget to put a table of contents into your magazine so the person reading the front of the magazine can’t find the article. Even going page by page, which was annoying and made me not want to read your magazine because it was so controlling, I still could not find the article teased on the front cover. Since the issue in question was an “Encyclopedia” I thought perhaps that I missed the point and that I was supposed to go to the “Encyclopedia” to find the article (this in spite of the fact that the article in question could not really have been about gear). Nope. Not there. The teaser in question was “Why Aren’t Millenials Buying Trail Mix.” Trail mix is not in the index to the encyclopedia. Millenials? Nope. (I suppose Millenials really aren’t gear, now are they? (Although I am pretty sure I could make the case that they are or that some of them could be.)) in any case, I still haven’t found it. Still annoyed.

As a reader, it is annoying to:

1. Read a magazine where the table of contents is 30 pages into the magazine, thereby requiring we page through 30 pages of ads and nonsense to get to the content;
2. Read a magazine that hides page numbers when they do bother to publish tables of contents so that again, we have to page through stupid ads to get to the content in the table of contents;
3. Read a teaser on the front of the magazine that is either a) not really there (which appears to be the case in this issue), or b) isn’t really what the teaser led us to believe it was (really annoying).

Since I am ranting about this and rather on a roll, I thought I would include all of these annoyances for you to consider when being a big shot editor. When these annoyances occur, I throw the magazine away (well, recycle it). I am not wasting my time paging through ads that thwart my effort to get to the content for which I bought the magazine. I will not let the advertisers win in this manner. You might have gotten me to purchase the magazine, but since the primary driver of budgets at magazines is ad content, and since advertisers choose magazines because those ads cause the readers to go buy their stuff, it follows that if I don’t read the ads and I don’t buy the stuff that eventually it will all trickle down and you won’t get any ad revenue when I throw my magazine away. SO…may I kindly suggest you make your magazine palatable to readers who actually like to READ your magazine (I happen to be one of those people who reads nearly every single article in a magazine when I am not so irritated by getting to the article that I can’t access it) and stop making your magazine mostly palatable to advertisers? Hmm? Do you think you can do this?

I’m going to give this issue one more chance. I’ll thumb through it one more time in search of the elusive article on why Millenials do not eat trail mix, and if I am not able to find it on this perusal I shall dump this issue in the trash (recycling). Too bad for me, I won’t get to find out what gear you got paid the most to say is the greatest…er, what gear you think I should go buy.

Thank you.

Sincerely,

Lara Gardner

Post Script: After sending this letter to Outside Magazine, I received a response back from the editors asking if they could use a line or two from my letter in their online letters. (I gave them permission, but I have no control over whether they will make me look like an ass in their choice of words from my letter.)

In any case, I asked where in the magazine I could find why Millenials don’t buy trail mix, because I had not been able to find it. The editor responded that it was in the encyclopedia under “Y – Youth: The Young and the Tentless” (Outside Magazine, Aug 2015, p. 92). As a commenter to this blog post noted, “the entry explains that very few people under 35 are participating in outdoor sports, beyond a day hike or pitching a tent in the backyard. There is, however, no mention of trail mix whatsoever, nor is there mention of food of any type in the entry.”

Yep. The teaser on the front of the magazine is just that, a teaser, and it is therefore even more annoying.

A Nation of Toddlers

America is perhaps the most infantile culture in the world. We are a nation of toddlers shouting “Me first,” and “Mine, mine, mine!” Americans are some of the most spoiled, entitled, selfish humans on the planet. Patience seems not to exist. Sharing, taking turns, putting others in front of the self, these are behaviors of maturity, and our culture regards them with disdain.

Nowhere is this more immediately evident than on the road. Someone inadvertently cuts in front another driver and the person whom they displaced acts as if they grabbed their toy from the sand box and ran with it. You turn on your turn signal to change lanes and the cars beside you speed up to ensure you don’t get in. Everyone is in a race to be first, to be in front, and any action that thwarts this desire is seen as a personal affront.

Rationality is the ability to make rational choices, thinking through the consequences and taking actions that make rational sense. Adults are able to distinguish between the feeling process and the intellectual process and have the ability to choose between having one’s functioning guided by feelings or by thoughts.

People living within a child’s frame of reference often overreact emotionally to events that are insignificant in the overall scheme of their lives, and fail to respond to events that are important or crucial to their well-being.

The life of a child is helpless and powerless. It is a place of inequality, fear, and paranoia. As a child, anyone can control and overrun you. As an adult you own your life and destiny. If you remain a child in your adult life, you look at the world around you as dominating, controlling, and dangerous. America views the world from this childlike view. We are the most militarized nation in the history of the world, seeing everything and everyone as a possible enemy, and every action as a possible threat. (Or at the very least this is the excuse offered to the nation of children by the totalitarian toddlers who seek to amass the greatest pile of toys in the sandbox.)

It is evident in gun culture: I don’t like the way you looked at me, I think you threatened me, I’ll pull out my gun and shoot you, and in many places in the country, this is acceptable.

It is evident in America’s level of debt: I want what I want when I want it, even if I can’t afford it, and the nation itself wants what it wants when it wants it, even if it can’t afford it. It will also spend to maximize the profits of a few while ignoring the needs of the majority.

It is evident in the media that will only tell us the story the tellers want us to hear, like paternalistic parents ensuring we get the story that will not result in a tantrum.

It is evident in our approach to politics. We believe what we want to hear, and accept the tropes of the politicians, believing the speeches and ignoring the actions, constantly seeking that which instantly gratifies us and makes us believe everything is okay even when it is not.

It is evident even in our approach to art and culture. Spectacle wins; quality is meaningless. Americans are like small children witnessing fireworks, completely unable to comprehend an exquisite work of literature or art.

It is evident in our unwillingness to see what is happening across the world as the oceans are acidifying, the poles are melting, the trees are dying, the coral reefs are withering, creatures are becoming extinct at an unparalleled rate, and human populations are increasing to untenable levels. The end is near, but damn, we don’t want to know about it. Turn on the Avengers, the American version of Barney, pull the blanket over your head, stick your thumb in your mouth, and just pretend everything is a-ok.

I could go on and on.

It is as if in gradually finding ways to make life “easier,” in giving up the ability to learn to find and store food, to house and clothe ourselves, to learn to keep warm in the outdoors, and to coexist with the planet on which we were created, we have given up the ability to be fully adult and actually, fully human.

 

I Told Them

This is what I sent to Almond Dream:

My Almond Dream Mint Chocolate Chip non-dairy ice cream had ONE chocolate chip in it. One! The picture of the scoop on the front has a dozen chocolate chips in it. I don’t think you should call it mint chocolate chip unless you’re going to put chips in it. Or maybe the name is literal? Chocolate chip is not plural because there will only be ONE chip in the pint? If that’s the case, the photo should match, and show only one chip rather than 12.

Thank you.

Thickness

I started to write something and forgot what it was. Thick brained. Lately I feel thick brained, thick limbed, just thick. Like I’m moving through goo.

I used to be airier. I felt like I could flit here to there, there to here, flit, flit, flit.

No longer. Somehow my flitting self landed in something like tar, and movement of any kind, whether mental, physical, or spiritual, seems nearly impossible.

What is this thickness? How to move beyond it? I cannot say. I do know that things like typing this and having the cursor suddenly bop to somewhere else on the page makes me feel like finding a cave and crawling in it. It keeps doing that and the annoyance is part of a mountain of similar annoyances that are a part of modern life. I think this modern life is part of the thickness, likely the cause of the thickness.

Somehow I must find a way back to flitting. How to do it living in this world at this time? I have no idea.

Isabel’s Thought for the Morning

This morning I was wiping down the kitchen counters, picking up clutter, moving here and there. Isabel was sitting at the dining table eating her cereal. She turned to me and said, “Maybe our dreams are real life, and real life is our dream.” Yes, Isabel. I’ve considered that myself. I love living with a five year old. They get you out of the space of business as usual and remind you of imaginative possibilities.

January showers bring…February flowers?

Today I drilled holes in pots to make olla pots for my garden to water more efficiently. My greenhouse is THIS close to being done, but there is still a hole on one wall up top and today was windy and stormy, so I climbed up and tacked up a piece of plastic to stop the rain from blowing in. While I was perched precariously on the edge of the fence, small nails held between my lips, a hammer balanced in one hand as I held on and attached the plastic there, I saw a honeybee. It was quivering on top of the greenhouse, doing that weird honeybee dance they do, wiggling its back end. I wasn’t sure what it was doing sitting on top of my greenhouse in the wind and periodic rain drips. No other bees were in sight. There were no flowers near it. It looked fragile, there in the wind in the wrong time of year. It was too warm outside for the time of year. Balmy and weird.

My raspberries are coming up. The tulips and daffodils are fully bloomed. The cherry trees in my yard are bloomed. My lilies are popping little points up through the soil. Usually in February I spray my fruit trees with dormant spray, but you’re supposed to do it when they’re dormant, and little buds were already present, so no dormant spray. They’re young and I’m sure they’ll be fine, but there aren’t many pollinators out in this bizarre weather, which means likely little fruit this year. This is not normal and not a pattern from the past. Humans have caused this and humans want to ignore it in favor of the latest football scores or whatever else that helps us to ignore the obvious right in front of our faces. It’s like we have a tumor on the side of our head and want to just look around it and pretend it’s not there. The spring rhyme goes, “April showers bring May flowers.” It’s not January showers bring February flowers, and these flowers that are here in March were here in February. We don’t give Valentine’s lilies, we give Easter lilies. At Easter. In actual spring. It isn’t spring in the northern hemisphere where I live. We haven’t had the equinox yet. It is still winter here. So many seem to forget this while infatuated with the sunny weather. This isn’t normal.

If your children were in harm’s way, you would try to help them regardless of the outcome because you love them. Shouldn’t it be the same for the Earth, which is us? We are the Earth. We should help her instead of committing slow suicide (though not so slow anymore, it seems).

I’m writing this sitting in warm covers in a snuggly bed. I washed all of my bedding today and it smells fresh and clean, and it’s soft and cozy. I’m so grateful to have a warm bed in a warm house, my dogs snoring softly near me as I write. I’m lucky, and I’m grateful for what I have.

Thank you, Brain

Chocolate BallsSometimes I think our minds just predict what they are going to want in the future and plan accordingly. My brain must have known two weeks ago when it made me buy those dark chocolate caramel balls that none too far in the future, I was going to be weaned off of caffeine, and then the time was going to change, and I would be sitting forlornly in my office wishing I could just go get a jug of coffee and bathe in it. It would know that I would not remember those dark chocolate caramel balls sitting in my drawer. It knew I would open the drawer for some other reason (like to get a cup of herbal, non-caffeinated tea to sort of pretend the warm beverage was caffeinated) and discover, lo and behold! A small baggy of drugs, er, dark chocolate caramel balls and I would just melt with pleasure.

Yes, brain. I thank you. You’ve done me right on this one.

The Customer is Always Replaceable

This is a repost from a blog posting I wrote in 2008. I don’t go to Taco Hell now either, but I like the rant so I’m reposting.

The Customer is Always Right. I used to see this sign in businesses. The theory behind it is a pleasant one, although I usually only saw it invoked as a means for bullies to treat customer service representatives like crap. But today, it seems the idea has gone completely out the window. It’s like stores don’t give a shit anymore if we don’t patronize their businesses; 800 people will be standing in line behind us if we don’t like the service that we get. It’s this way with stores, restaurants, customer call centers, you name it. I don’t eat out much. For one thing, it’s expensive as hell. For another, I heard Portland has had an outbreak of Hepatitis A and that it is often spread by restaurants. Since I had to get a shot in the butt in 1990 for an e-coli outbreak, and the thought of eating someone else’s poo is just more than I can manage, I avoid restaurants.

But sometimes you’re across town and starving as hell and ready to run people over your blood sugar is so low and you’re willing to eat all the things you wouldn’t normally touch from a mile away because you’re that hungry. That was me today. I recognized intellectually that I felt like a wretch and I didn’t care because I needed food.  So I went to Taco Hell. Yeah, I know it’s gross. But it’s cheap and they have this burrito with rice in it and I don’t get cheese so I went. The service was horrendous. The charming “customer service” representative who took my order informed me that the burrito I like “cannot be grilled.”

Huh? I told her when I’ve patronized the Taco Hell by my house they always grill it for me. Well, she sneered, that’s another franchise. Uh, okay. Small problem. When I’m hungry, I don’t care how big a bitch I am, at least when I’m that hungry. And I was that hungry. But I’m working hard on living in the moment and I did not want to be the bully customer who makes a worker feel like shit. I sat there in my car waiting to pull up to the window and thinking how irrelevant all this is and what a waste of my energy, but I was still getting annoyed. So I decided to be calm, but I still wanted to know why can’t they just grill my fucking burrito?

I pulled up and asked the kind lady how come they couldn’t grill my burrito. She said it is just a store policy. I said that isn’t an answer, it doesn’t tell me why the policy is in place. She said she didn’t know. Across the way a man who was probably a higher up manager because he wasn’t wearing the fancy Taco Hell outfit but instead had on a cheap shirt and tie came over and asked the problem. I started to say there wasn’t a problem, I just wanted to know why my burrito couldn’t be grilled. He said they are not allowed to grill them, company policy. I said that I get them grilled at the Taco Hell by my house. He said they aren’t supposed to. Then the girl helping said something to him and he turned to me and said it was a health issue. Huh? I said how in the world is it a health issue? He said it’s like giving them a cup and asking them to fill it. It has my germs on it. I was VERY confused at this point. My lack of blood sugar addled brain couldn’t quite muster what was going on. I said how in the world can it be a health issue to grill a freaking burrito? It’s in the restaurant, you put on all the ingredients. I never touch it. He just walked away.

At this point, I didn’t give a shit if my burrito was grilled or not. I just wanted to eat. I sat and waited until the girl handed me the bag. I asked for my water and drove off. I pulled to the side of the parking lot to eat it and it was grilled. Weird.

The main thing I kept thinking about after all this was that had I threatened to take my business elsewhere, they would have said fine, go ahead. We don’t need your two dollars. Companies have gotten so big that the customer isn’t right anymore. Everyone puts up and shuts up about crappy customer service because there is nowhere else to go where it will be any better. This is another byproduct of our one-size-fits-all one dimensional corporate society. Hate waiting on the phone on hold for 20 minutes when you call the phone company? Fine, go somewhere else. And while you’re at it we’ll charge you $200 because you’re in a lopsided bullshit contract.  Hate the piece of crap you bought at the Dollar Store? Too bad for you. No refunds.  Who cares if the state law allows you to return a defective item to a store with no refunds. You planning to sue us over a dollar? Don’t want to wait in line at a store with no employees? Fine, leave. Better yet, stand in line for 10 minutes, then leave. See if we care. Want your burrito grilled and we won’t do it?  Go fuck yourself. We don’t pay our workers enough to care. We don’t hire enough workers so they’re all pissed off all the time. Go somewhere else. Again, see if we care. That’s capitalism. It leaves no one alive.

I know this is a cynical bitchy rant. I shouldn’t complain without offering some solution. But I don’t know what the solution is. I go out of my way to avoid patronizing monster corporations, but sometimes it’s inevitable.  Sometimes it’s just being so damn hungry I’ll eat a rat in the gutter or Taco Hell. Those are the times those places get my business. I never go to Walmart or McDonald’s ever, and I mean never. They could be the last businesses on earth and I wouldn’t go there. Maybe there isn’t a solution unless enough people say enough, and judging by the lines in SkankDonald’s and Taco Hell or the mass of cars in the SkankMart parking lot, that isn’t going to happen anytime soon. In the meantime I guess I’ll rant on my blog.

Ah, yes…

The Quiet Life
by Alexander Pope

Happy the man whose wish and care
A few paternal acres bound,
Content to breathe his native air
In his own ground.

Whose herds with milk, whose fields with bread,
Whose flocks supply him with attire;
’Whose trees in summer yield him shade,
In winter, fire.

Blest, who can unconcern’dly find’
Hours, days, and years, slide soft away
In health of body, peace of mind,
Quiet by day;

Sound sleep by night; study and ease
Together mix’d, sweet recreation,
And innocence, which most does please
With meditation.

Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie.
[1709]

Our Illusion of Connectivity

Three years ago I wrote a blog post about the illusion of connectivity. It said:

“I go to Facebook. I go to email. I check all the addresses. I go back to Facebook. I check my blog. I go back to Facebook. In all, I find not what I am looking for. It is not satisfying. I see posts I share. I read here and there. On email I get Truthout, read through the articles. Find one that is really interesting. Read to the bottom. Post on Facebook. Go back to email. Go to Facebook. Read Salon, click on the link to “Continue Reading.” Go back to email. Nothing. Something from Powell’s. Something from Bug of the Day. Go back to Facebook. Share a picture of some cute animal or funny thing from George Takei, but overall, no connection. Not really.

To keep reading, please click here.

Would You Change?

Tell me: If you knew for absolute certain that your way of life today was guaranteed to cause the end of life on this planet within a few decades, if it meant this situation could be reversed if you did so, would you stop completely and live an agrarian lifestyle, or would you say To hell with it. I’m here and there are no guarantees, then continue living as you have been?

I truly want to know.

It’s a pretty safe bet based on the science that our demise (and that of all life) is just around the corner. (For excellent scientific citations, see the article here at Nature Bats Last.) So keep ignoring all the evidence and pretend the wannabe “evidence” is better so no changes must be made? Gotta have those plastic easter eggs after all, right? So I want to know, what level of proof would it take to make you change? Would it have to be “beyond a reasonable doubt”? Or “more likely than not”? What level of evidence would it take to make this change, or would you just keep going as you are even if there was absolute certitude of the world’s demise unless we stop living as we have been.

Again, I want to know. Take this poll and tell me:

Cookie Monsters

CookiesI baked cookies for Christmas. Yummy, buttery, sugar filled, high fat content cookies. Basically they were mostly butter, sugar, and flour, and the frosting was straight up butter cream. Yum, yum, yum, but oh, so rich. I could only eat one at a time or I would feel sick.

I gave a bunch of these cookies as gifts to family and friends, but we still had a lot ourselves. I realized shortly after Christmas that I was going to have to give some more away; they were too rich for just me and Isabel to eat, and Milla was in Arizona for another five days. I decided I would take some to some friends at the coffee shop under my office. They were in the cupboard in a bag on top of our dinner plates. I thought of making the gift, but then forgot to take the bag to work with me.

A few days later I was at home putting away the Christmas tree and decorations and remembered the cookies. Ahh, what a perfect way to ring out the holiday season but with a buttery cookie and a cup of tea?

“Isabel?” I asked. “Would you like a Christmas cookie while we put away the decorations?” Isabel loved this idea. (And I should add that my daughter is the best person ever to remove ornaments with. She was extremely quick, careful, and thorough. I couldn’t have had an adult partner who did a better job than this five-year-old. She managed the bottom half of the tree while I did the top half.)

I put on the kettle to heat and opened the cupboard to get a cookie for Isabel and myself, and shock of shocks, the bag was gone! It wasn’t there! I peeked further into the cupboard to see if I was wrong. NO cookies. I looked in all the cupboards. I looked in the drawers. I looked in all of them again, and again. No cookies! I couldn’t figure it. What in the world had happened to them? I wracked my brains, trying to imagine if I had given them away and forgot about it. No. I did not. I could not fathom what in the world had happened to them. I asked Isabel. She was as baffled as I was and looked a little afraid I might not believe her. I gave her a hug and assured her that I knew she had not eaten that bag of cookies. There were a dozen and a half at least. It wouldn’t be possible for her to have, even if she could have gotten up in the cupboard and gotten them down. There weren’t any crumbs anywhere. Plus she’s not the sort to sneak cookies. If she wanted one, she would have asked first and then eaten it right in front of me.

I started to worry. Someone, somehow had come into our house and eaten our cookies. I started to wonder about anything else a thief would want. The bluetooth speaker was playing music in the living room so it wasn’t stolen and neither was the computer playing the music. My camera was in my room. We don’t own much else of value that is the sort of thing a robber would want to steal. I couldn’t imagine anyone would come into our house and steal a bag of cookies and just take that. I was completely baffled, and honestly a little afraid. What in the world had happened to those cookies?

Over the next several days I mulled this over and over. Isabel and I considered all the possibilities, but none were plausible. No one has a key to my house. I have a key hidden outside, and I moved it, just in case someone had found it and stolen the cookies, then returned the key to its hiding place just to trip me out. I don’t really have any trickster friends, but this was weird and I had to consider all options. I considered filing a police report, but just couldn’t bring myself to do so. It would seem much too ridiculous and I thought maybe they would wonder about my sanity.

On Saturday I went to visit my best friend Debbie in Corvallis and told her the story. She too was completely baffled and afraid for me. None of it made any sense. Somehow those cookies were gone and I could not explain their loss.

Today I cleaned house a bit. My dogs had chewed up a pinecone in my room and left little pieces lying everywhere. I dragged the vacuum from its place in the closet and plugged it in. I vacuumed through the main part of the house, the kitchen, the hallway, and my youngest daughter’s room (I don’t go into the teenager’s room–it’s scary in there). Then I headed into my room. Click, click, click, the vacuum sucked up pieces of pinecone. I began vacuuming under the bed. George, my Dachshund, loves dragging his forbidden quarry under the bed. He is constantly grabbing things that aren’t his and heading into his cave. It’s the perfect size for him.

My vacuum is a canister vac, the kind with a head that has it’s own engine apparatus. It almost vacuums itself. As I vacuumed under the bed, I heard a strange flapping sound as the vacuum sucked something funny. I turned off the vacuum and leaned over, peering under the bed. What was that weird thing off toward the wall? I sat up and grabbed my iPhone, scrolled to the flashlight app, and shined it into George’s lair. There, far under the bed, was what appeared to be the chewed remains of the cookie bag.

I called Isabel into the bedroom to have her crawl under the bed and grab the bag. She came immediately as she had been as curious as I in the disappearance of our sweets. I held the iPhone flashlight as she slithered under the bed with ease, retrieving the bag within seconds. It was obviously the cookie bag–there were bits of green frosting remains in the crevices. The mystery was solved.

I realized after this that in considering taking the cookies to my office, I must have removed them from the cupboard, set them on the counter, and then gotten distracted and left them there for the canine thief to steal. He’s done it before, jumped up and taken things off the counter. He might be short, but those squat legs of his are powerful and he can easily jump almost 4 feet in the air. All food goods must be pushed back from the counter’s edge if I’m not in the kitchen to supervise and intervene when George is around.

I am relieved. I’m glad to know that no one broke into my house and stole our cookies. It also explains the obnoxious gas both dogs suffered with for two days, naughty things. In the future I’ll be more mindful, and if and when there is a time in the future when any food goes missing, the obvious place I’ll check for evidence will be under my bed.

Life is Like That Sometimes

I often think of new little products, waiting patiently in their boxes to be used. They’re so new and orderly. Pick me! Their calmness and order seems to say as they lie there, waiting to be chosen. They have been waiting their entire lives for use, and here you are, choosing. Will it be me? Their orderliness seems to ask.

Sometimes when I open a box of something, like Q-tips, and one of them pops out, I wonder if the other Q-tips were being mean to it or something, and it just couldn’t wait to escape. I’ll pour some vitamins in my hand, and one leaps out onto the floor, away from the other vitamins. Or other times it’s the opposite. I try and try to get something out of the box and it won’t come out, like it’s hiding in there, as if it knows that this will be the end in some way.

I wonder whether a pantyliner or other hygiene product really wants to be used. They might think it’s what they want, getting out of that box or off that shelf. A new home! But then they come to realize that their use isn’t necessarily something desired. It results in the trash can or the sewer or the landfill.

I suppose a pantyliner or other hygiene product has no idea that being placed in someone’s crotch or in an armpit or between toes is a bad thing. They have no other existence to compare theirs to. Although the pantyliner might. It meets the underwear and thinks, Oh, a friend. A different sort of friend. Then the pantyliner gets covered in goo and is tossed in the trash, and the underwear gets to stay. It’s not fair on some level, but life is like that. You get to be a professor. She gets to be a mother. He gets to be an electrician. Someone is born and starves in Africa. Another is born and is obese in America. We are all on our different journeys. This really is simply how life is.

Oh Boy!

Oh, boy! 10 readers today. I keep waiting for the day I reach 100,000 total reads. I’m close; less than a thousand to go, and all I want to do is shut this thing down. I don’t write anymore, not really, and especially not on this blog. My posts get shorter and shorter. I used to write pages and pages. Now it’s a paragraph here and there every few weeks. I don’t have any real urge to communicate my thoughts to other people. I don’t care what people think of me. I never thought of myself as egoist, but in having lost the desire to write for an audience, I have realized that I was somewhat of an egoist. Maybe not in a blatant self-promoting sort of way, but it was there. I came up with excuses for my need for an audience. Artists paint for an audience. Dancers dance for one. Why shouldn’t I want to write for one? Not sure, but whatever itch I had has been scratched. Maybe it’s the futility of it all, knowing full well that in the scheme of things I’m the spot on the ass of the flea on the back of the hair on the dog on the bump on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea. But it’s more than that. Something shifted and I really do not desire an audience at all, so really, what is the point of this? There isn’t one. I’ll reach 100,000 views and I won’t even give a shit.

Blogging has changed significantly since I started this. It was more fun back then. People actually communicated with one another via blogs. I met some cool people who commented on my blog and I read and commented on theirs. Now it’s all facebookified, with “likes” and “following,” which is just another marketing tool. I really can’t stand it.

It has passed its prime. Maybe I’ll wait until I pass that mythical 100,000 views, then shut the whole thing down. We shall see.

Creepy Dream

Last night I dreamed I was in a library with the cop who killed Michael Brown. He was there with his new wife. He and the new wife were giggling in the stacks and making sexual comments to one another about what they wanted to do to each other. Other patrons in the library were making concerned faces, but no one was doing anything. I heard them and went to the librarian to explain what was going on. I told him about the sexual nature of what was being said. The librarian seemed very concerned and told me we needed to go and tell someone about it. We got on our coats to leave and were in a lobby of sorts between the main library and the doors. While there, the librarian groped my breast and tried to grab my body. His was the manner of someone who was used to grabbing women and not getting caught. He seemed almost to be daring me to say something to him about it. I walked away over to some other people to get away from him, and then I woke up.

Fool’s Paradise

Illusion: delusion, misapprehension, misconception, false impression; fantasy, fancy, dream, chimera; fool’s paradise, self-deception; false consciousness, appearance, impression, semblance; misperception, false appearance; rare simulacrum, mirage, hallucination, apparition, figment of the imagination, deception, trick; magic, conjuring, sleight of hand, legerdemain.

Disillusionment therefore requires first that there be an illusion and all the lies in perception that go along with it. Illusion precipitates disillusion, and disillusion precipitates truth.

Marveling at the State of the World

As I move through my day, more and more I’m looking around at the world and marveling at human intervention. Humans have taken over everything and they seem to take it completely for granted. In fact they do take it completely for granted. It isn’t even questioned, yet it seems so bizarre to me. I’ll see a lamp post or a sidewalk or a building and think This doesn’t have to be here. But it is and it is because humans have taken over the world.

As we are isn’t natural. We put ourselves in charge when we shouldn’t be. Even this typing and this website isn’t natural; I recognize this. There is so much that humans do and so much time that humans spend that isn’t necessary. We go about our days and live our lives as if any of this is how things are supposed to be, as if it matters more than anything, but it isn’t how things are supposed to be and it doesn’t matter the most. We aren’t supposed to control so much.

More and more lately I catch myself stopping and staring at a thing and amazed that the thing exists, and I realize that the humans who put it there were not thinking how odd it was that they created what they did. Yesterday while using the toilet, I noticed that the buttons on my button-fly jeans said “Loft.” Down each one, Loft, Loft, Loft. Somewhere some human decided that the buttons on pants sold at the Loft need to say Loft on them. That person found someone who could get others to carve this word into these buttons. That person hired others who made the tools to carve the word Loft into those buttons. They hired people to use those tools. They carved the word Loft into thousands and thousands of buttons, popping them out like little coins falling into a bucket, filling a container made through the same process, filling baggies and sending them to the place where jeans are made, sewing them onto those jeans, packaging those, and then mailing them all over the world to sell to the likes of me. Humans set up these immense and complex supply chains. Really, it boggles the mind.

I like my jeans. They’re comfortable enough. They serve their purpose. But seriously, how many people does it take to make a pair of jeans? 800? It seems we have created these immense and complex supply chains to give ourselves some purpose because we’ve lost sight of what our purpose really is. I’m not sure what that purpose was intended to be, but I’m positive that humans taking over the world and making things like buttons with the word Loft on them isn’t it.

I Don’t Know How People Bear it

I just have to wonder whether the constant noise and barrage of images everywhere one goes doesn’t serve as a giant iron blanket covering the consciousness of everyone subjected to its invasive and overwhelming pervasiveness. I can barely stand to shop in stores blaring music and advertising and televisions, all beaming down on us under cold fluorescent lights. My body reacts just sitting here thinking of it. Most corporate chain restaurants seem hell bent on ensuring their patrons cannot converse with the person across from them. Maybe they’re worried these patrons will be discussing the wretchedness of the edible food-like substances on their menus.

I rarely, rarely venture into these establishments, but the other day I was in a long outdoor strip mall waiting for my dog to finish getting his hair cut. I was with my 5 year old. When she lay on the floor and kicked her feet at a toy store because I wouldn’t buy some trinket or other, I knew she was hungry. She only acts like that when she’s hungry. I had fed her lunch, but she seems to be going through a growth spurt because she’s been needing to eat every two hours lately. Shame on me for forgetting snacks.

Unfortunately the only options were corporate chains, and not many of them. An IHOP sat across the street. On our side of the road was a Red Robin. Egads. I couldn’t very well feed us dog treats from the pet store. I didn’t think I would want to eat anything in either of them, and I knew Red Robin blared music so loud, one couldn’t think. The last time I was in one of these places was several years ago. My daughter’s grandparents wanted to treat us to lunch and took us to a Red Robin. We could not converse, it was so loud. I vowed then and there never to return, but desperate circumstances require desperate acts.

The onslaught of noise upon entering was instantaneous and complete. There could be no thoughts beyond those being imposed by the bland, repetitive sound in the place. It was like walking into a block of it. I tried drifting over toward the hallway toward the restrooms while we waited for the hostess to notice us. No relief. I moved back toward the door, hoping as other patrons entered I could grasp some of the quiet outside. I turned to my daughter in order to tell her we were going to have to find somewhere else to go, but just at that moment the hostess came to seat us. I thought perhaps once we entered the cavernous expanse of the place the sound would dissipate somewhat, and it seemed to.

Unfortunately, relief was short-lived. The lull was caused by a change in songs, the second as bad as the first. A busser stopped by our table to ask us something. What? What? DO YOU WANT ANYTHING TO DRINK? Yes. Silence, please. Do you have that? She looked at me blankly.

It didn’t help that the music was bloody awful. I don’t imagine there is anyone in the world who purposely chooses to listen to the noises they were playing. I considered whether I could have stood its volume had it been something I enjoyed. I doubted it. It was simply too loud.

How is it people stand this? The place was pretty full for a Sunday afternoon. I don’t get it. Not only is the food terrible, one cannot hear oneself think, let alone carry on a conversation with another person. I had to yell for my daughter to hear me. The waiter had to bend over near my face to hear our order. It seems like a work hazard on some level.

I finally got to the place where I couldn’t take it anymore. When our waiter brought over our food, I asked him if the music was always so deafening. He said sometimes, and then asked if I wanted it turned down. Do I breathe? Yes. A few minutes later it was still loud but I didn’t have to yell for my daughter to hear me.

What is it with businesses that create an atmosphere that is intolerable? Am I the only one who can hear? Do most people want their senses obliterated with too much input? I don’t get it, I really don’t. It’s like people don’t want to participate in life or something. I don’t know how they can think clearly. Maybe I’m overly sensitive, or maybe a significant segment of the population is shut down. Maybe both? I do know that I was right when I remembered that Red Robin isn’t a place I want to frequent. The food is terrible and the atmosphere is worse. Why go there? I’d rather eat dog treats at the pet store.

How to Be Dumb Like Me

Here’s how to be dumb like me:  Get invited to a Halloween party via text from a friend. Pencil the party in your brain’s calendar, but don’t put it in any other type of calendar. Keep it there for weeks. Get an idea for a costume. Buy a mask and body suit to go with your blue wig to be a blue-haired cat. Place suit in closet and mask on top of the refrigerator. Ask someone to go to the party with you. Get that person to get a costume. Plan for that Sunday to go to the party. Saturday the night before, hang out with your children and go to the grocery store late. While at the grocery store, stare stupidly at your phone when a text comes in asking why you’re not at the party. Go back through old texts from friend. Find text sent several weeks ago inviting you to the party on the Saturday before Halloween, which it is. Slap head. On the Sunday when you planned to be at a party, go bowling instead. Leave costume on top of refrigerator and in the closet.

My good little plan

I can’t sleep so I’ll just pretend I’m on the east coast and I won’t be up too early. 3 or 4 in the morning is 6 or 7 there. Better yet, I’ll be on Europe time so it’s like I slept in. Now I’m hungry. I can have my brunch in bed in France or the Netherlands. Maybe if I Skype to my friend Anne in the Hague, she’ll actually be awake.

I thought I cured my insomnia, and mostly I have, but sometimes when my mind won’t quiet, it comes back. Thank goodness it doesn’t last for weeks on end like it used to before the cell phone turn off. Yet there are moments, like lately, where quieting the mind isn’t so easy. I stumble and trip through the items undone on the todo list, or mull over relationships, or wonder about the state of the planet. Worry, that pointless pastime rears its ugly head. I could write an Everywoman story where on the journey my hero wanders through thick, muddy fields of worry. Each time she thinks she has slayed that dragon, another rises to take its place, each more gargantuan, deeper, and more insidious than before. How will my Everywoman conquer her worries? When will she learn the dragons are not dragons at all, but hunks of mud, dirt, and water?

I don’t know the answer to that. I do have to say though that I’m tired again and ready to come back to my own time zone and perhaps grab a few more moments of sleep.

Adieu.

Business Plan

I’ve decided I’m going to start my own corporation to operate in competition with Monsanto. I’m going to hire a bunch of scientists and get them to patent dogs and cats. Then when people try to breed them, I’m going to sue their asses off. Of course this will be after I’ve harassed them and terrified them, taking photos of them out walking the puppies and cuddling the kittens. I’ll have a field day with those idiots who are stupid enough to post a video of themselves on YouTube. How dare these people interfere with my right to own life? I’ll also go after anyone who buys the puppies or kittens unaltered. If they think they are going to let those animals breed without my getting paid for it, they have another thing coming.

The Weather

Is it possible that if I did not have sunny hair that others could suppose that the sun is not usually here to warm the inside of me? If my hair were the color of coal or bark would it be easier to perceive the isolation always hovering like an alligator hiding beneath a stream waiting to drag me under?

Epiphany

I find it remarkable that something that seems so obvious upon its discernment took years to achieve realization. One simple phrase in an unrelated conversation and a little gear in the brain goes Click! Suddenly there is understanding. A true epiphany.

I’ve pondered and sweated and rolled over and over in my mind this one issue. It is at the forefront of my thinking for at least a few minutes on most days. Then yesterday I got it, just like that. Perhaps the years of pondering greased the wheels to make the understanding easier. In fact I’m sure of it.

Now I just have to figure out what to do with what I know.

Doubt

Doubt is like a leak in the wall. It gets in and under and around. At first, you’re not even sure it’s there. But then you realize a dampness has spread like a cancer into all the tissues. If you’re not careful, the foundation will be shot and it will all have to be replaced. Three weeks from enthusiasm to doubt. I suppose it’s better to get to doubt sooner rather than later, before having invested much.

I have decided to give up trying to stay in bed and sleep when I awaken too early. I will sit and stare at the wall rather than lying and staring at the backs of my eyelids.

Dear Shaun T

Dear Shaun T,

I can’t say if I’m getting ripped. I look the same to me. (Body dysmorphia, much? Nah, I just can’t tell close up.) First I did your Insanity workout and I truly thought it was IN-sane. Now I’m in the Beta phase of T-25, and all I can say is that it kicks my ass to insanity and beyond. I thought 25 minute workouts would be a cakewalk after Insanity. Hell, most of the time those workouts near the end were a full hour. What I didn’t realize was that all those breaks in Insanity are a Godsend and the lack of breaks in T-25 is cruel and unusual punishment. My forearms are quivering as I write this and sweat is dripping down my ribs. My headband is soaked. I feel like I’ve been beat up a little.

I hope to hell I’m getting fit, that’s all I can say. Not because I want some ripped body everyone will envy, but because I want to be strong to live long for my daughters. Arghhh!

Asses

I used to write all of my thoughts down. I don’t write all of my thoughts anymore.

Tonight I crossed a street, and then crossed a parking lot. Two men were walking up the sidewalk when I entered the parking lot. Halfway across one of the men shouted at me, “You have a nice ass!” I said low and to myself, “No I don’t.” Then I got to thinking about the concept of a nice ass and observed that having a nice or not nice ass is a weird construct, but I also thought that the man who said that probably didn’t think it was a weird construct. He probably just had some idea of the way asses look and determined that some ways are nice. I suppose this is the way most people who think about asses being nice or not thinks about them. But I find it odd that we determine that certain shapes of body parts are nice or not. I know there is some biological basis to finding certain features attractive, that it seeks out opposite and healthy genes, and youthful characteristics that are likely to increase the success of child bearing. However, I’m not sure I see where asses fit into that and I wonder how it is that our society has developed into one where we make judgments about body parts. Actually, I don’t really wonder about it. I can ascertain how we got to this place. I just wish we hadn’t, that’s all. Not because I’m offended when someone yells about my butt, but because we are where we are now and that we are headed where we are and it’s not pretty.

I spend much too much time alone. And it’s probably a good thing I don’t write my thoughts down anymore.

When Ice is Fire

Humans, humans. Going about their business. Living their lives. Making their sounds. Taking up more than their share of space everywhere. Assuming they are the center of everything. Ignoring the meteor heading right toward Earth.

Ah, there she goes again, getting all caught up in that climate change hype again.

Yeah, that’s me. Certain our future at this point is a ball of fire headed in a trajectory straight toward the center of the planet. I keep leaning toward the possibility of something else, then turn my face toward the sky and see that meteor hell bound for us and feel that reality forcing me to acknowledge its existence. I feel that meteor’s heat upon my skin. I see the path it is burning and it is impossible not to feel a little frightened, not to feel overwhelmed by the probability of it all, not to feel ashamed for my race, not to feel desperate to do something, anything besides sit back and let it happen.

A huge West Antarctic ice sheet is starting a glacially slow, unstoppable collapse. Alarmed scientists say this means even more sea level rise than previously expected.

Genius, humanity. Good for you.

I’m Glad I’m not from a Crime Syndicate Family

I’m so glad I wasn’t born into a crime syndicate family.  I suppose had I been born into a crime syndicate family that perhaps I might not be aware how much the stress of the violence and constant disruption was harming me

I’m sitting here typing this and it sounds like a cat is growling outside my window.  However I got up (got cold) and went and stood out there, but couldn’t hear anything.  I leaned over to determine whether the moaning sounds might be some kind of deep whistle emanating from Isabel in her sleep, but it wasn’t.  No.  Definitely sounds like cat moan.  I have no idea what it could be that I can hear it in my house and not outside, which is where it would have to be.  I even checked upstairs and in the basement.  Silence.  Distraction.

My primary point isn’t the cat moan.  It is supposed to be my gratitude that I’m not from a crime syndicate family.  My family had enough problems without adding the stress of constant crime and murder and disappearing relatives and all that.  I’ve spent most of my adult life reconnecting the disconnected parts of myself, becoming whole, examining patterns from the past and working to change blind spot reactions and all that.  The result is that I’m beginning to see the splits all around me.  If I had been born into a crime syndicate family (I’m going to call it a CSF for short), I likely would not have these insights without having experienced some incredible trauma, and even then, it would have been really difficult.  In this regard, I’m so grateful to my family for only traumatizing me a little bit, in their own blind-spot way.

If I had been born into a CSF, I probably would have had to go live in Australia or some kind of witness protection program.  That would be rough in any circumstance, but imagine it from the perspective of a person who grew up in a CSF.  You have no normal moral compass.  You realize something is wrong, turn against the family, and have to be put into witness protection, whereby you are forced to live in some other place with strangers, etc., and act like a normal person, only you aren’t.  You’re used to seeing people handle problems with revenge and whatnot. Someone cuts in front of you in line at the grocery and you want to knock them in the head and throw them in the trunk, but you can’t, or you might get put in jail, whereupon the family would have you killed for turning snitch. Or the head hitting and trunking might end up on the news, at which point your protection isn’t so secret anymore.  Being in witness protection as one raised in a CSF is simply fraught with peril.  Perhaps there is some moral code if you grew up with the boss, and could see when the boss was lenient or whatever.  But what if you grew up in one of the lesser families, one where revenge and drug use were rampant.  Maybe because you were allowed to watch movies or something and you could see that others weren’t like your family.  Or maybe because a school teacher or counselor was kind to you, you figured out there was an alternative, but really you have no idea.  Or worse, you just turn against the family to save your own ass from jail.  Real issues there.  And then you get to go into witness protection.  That would be tough. It really isn’t something I would want in my life, that’s for sure.

I got this all typed up and then I was typing up the tags and picked “Crime syndicate family,” but I’ll bet I’m the only person with that tag on any posts.  That would be cool.  The only person in the whole wide world with CSF for a tag.  Awesome.

Every Day is Earth Day, or Should Be

On Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, children wonder why there isn’t a Children’s Day. Their parents tell them Every day is Children’s Day. Perhaps this is true. What isn’t true, but should be, is that every day is Earth Day, and having a small number of people trying to get the rest of the world to focus on it for one small day is not enough, not even close. Earth Day is like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and all the other holidays rolled into one. The Earth is our life giver. We should be celebrating her because she is us and we are her.

Yet as has been the case since humans decided they should be at the top of a triangle instead of flowing in a circle with the rest of the Earth, we have taken steps to dissociate from that connection and now here we are, in a place where we believe the planet revolves around us and the result is that the planet and everything on it is dying. Many respected climatologists believe we can turn this around. I’m a bit more pessimistic, but I certainly don’t believe we should not try. Earth isn’t Earth anymore. As Bill McKibben so eloquently stated in his book by the same name, Earth is now Eaarth, a different place than any of us were raised. We’ve interfered and taken it beyond recognition. Yet, this doesn’t mean we should not take care of what is left. We are Eaarth and Eaarth is us. We owe it to everything, not just ourselves and our children, to wake up and turn things around.

Every day is Eaarth Day, or it should be. Wake up humanity, or it will be too late.

Generational Differences

This essay was published on Huffington Post, and can be seen here.

When I was a child, we played outside, rode bikes without helmets, we rode in cars without booster seats, and our parents didn’t organize and supervise play dates.

This is a popular meme making the rounds on social media. It’s usually accompanied by a photo of some kid jumping something enormous on a Big Wheel with no helmet, hair flying maniacally, face full of joy. The implication of course is that today’s children are too coddled. The Atlantic just did a big article on this subject (See here). The article was good. It focused on helicopter parents and people who won’t let their children do anything with risk.

But I think it’s a mistake to revere the way things used to be. When I was a child…keep reading by clicking here.

That’s so Gross, Mom

This is how conversations go in our house:

My oldest daughter was singing “Can’t go to bed ’til you’re legally wed, you can’t you’re Sandra DEE!” I said, “You can’t even go to bed after your legally wed. Just don’t go to bed at all. Or wait. You can go to bed after you’ve been wed for ten years.”

“That’s so gross, Mom.”

Then I amended and told her seriously, “Aw well, someday you’ll go to bed. Just don’t do it too soon, and don’t do it with too many people, and use protection.”

“That’s so gross, Mom.”

Then I said, “If you’re with a guy and he says he wants to have sex and you don’t want to have sex, and he says not having sex will cause his penis to shrivel up and fall off, or his testicles will explode, don’t believe it.”

“Wow, Mom. No one would say that. That’s so gross.”

“No. It’s true. It’s been said. But don’t believe it because it’s a lie.” I said this with assurance, just in case she was thinking of believing some lie about a shriveled up man part.

“It sounds fake. I would never believe anything as stupid as that.”

Good thing, daughter of mine.

Multidimensional and Pining

I remind myself of the Laura Linney character in Love Actually. Except not at work. Just her pining. I am oh so boringly pining.

Sometimes my job doesn’t offer all the answers. I don’t like this. I want to be able to help. I get it that it’s not possible to help everyone all the time, but my poor bleeding heart wants to and is disappointed when it can’t.

I don’t want to live in this flat world. I want to live in a multidimensional soft world. I want to go live in a small space among growing things and make the world a better place. I do not want to run and run and run and realize I have gone nowhere. I do not want to wake up on my deathbed and realize it is all gone. How to be present in a world that longs to flatten us?

Good Adult Crush Ideas

I read an article that said adult crushes can be more difficult than adolescent crushes because you can’t give your best friend a note to hand to the guy in 4th period and my immediate thought was, “Why not?” Maybe you can’t do it in 4th period, but you could get your best friend to hand the guy a note somewhere else, like perhaps the water cooler at work if the guy you have a crush on is at work, or perhaps on the playground if the guy you have a crush on is another parent. Maybe you could pass a note via car windshield wipers. Just leave a note that says, I ❤ U. Maybe he’ll have a crush too and wonder if it was you that left it (or he could think he has a weird stalker, but just pretend that isn’t a possibility). You’ll just know it was him when you get the note back with a “2” written after the U. Plus there is no reason you couldn’t get your friend to leave the note. This might help prevent any stalker suspicion as well, especially if you have lots of good friends who could do this for you. And you could also do all those crush things you did as an adolescent like “accidentally” waiting for a drink at the water fountain. This works especially well at work with the water cooler. You just saunter over casually with your cup and get some water when he does. If he’s liking you and he’s sauntering over to the water cooler too, then you’ll both end up drinking a lot of water and this could result in a lot of bathroom trips at the same time and maybe, just maybe, you might bump each other on the way. Squeee!!! Isn’t the thought just too much?!?!?

This has real potential. I have to disagree with the author of that article. She didn’t have enough imagination about this. She probably doesn’t really have any crush as an adult. She’s probably married already and doesn’t need a crush. Her editor told her to write an article on adult crushes and she couldn’t think of anything to say except boring things like passing notes in 4th period. That editor should give me the assignment. I could come up with some really great adult crush ideas that aren’t difficult at all. I just know it.

We’re Killing our Planet

We are killing our planet, and while it might be the tiny fragment who benefit in the short term monetarily, it is anyone who refuses to acknowledge or stop the problem who is equally complicit. I start to list all of the things we are doing to this earth, most of which is done in the name of increasing short-term wealth for a very few, but much of which increases conveniences for a lot of us, and the list grows too big to write out in a blog post. There are books listing all we are doing and what could and should be done (Eaarth by Bill McKibben is a favorite), so I don’t really need to list out all of it anyway. Sometimes it is just hearing about a couple of these things within the same two hours that gets my stomach rolling. Today in Master Gardener class we discussed the multiple assaults that are decimating the bee populations. This was followed closely by the big money, big oil bullshit report by the USDA on the Keystone XL pipeline. Most Americans aren’t following this, and of those who are, many don’t realize that those who wrote the report were hand-picked by big oil interests. Gads, when are people going to realize that we are being railroaded on every front? How bad does it have to get?

Herein lies another part of why I rarely write here anymore is because it all just seems too big and too insurmountable. I am simply one tiny voice not being heard. This is not sour grapes; it is reality. I have thought and analyzed and considered and wondered, and then thought about it all again, what is the purpose in my writing here? The conclusion I continually draw is that if I’m trying to get some message out about what we are doing to this earth, this blog adds very little to the conversation, and so I don’t write, not much anyway, because it is so overwhelming.

We have to save our planet. People have got to start caring and doing more than separating their trash into piles that can be recycled versus those that can’t. It is going to take something bigger from each and every one of us. In the meantime, the planet will never be the same. It can’t. We can only hope to make it a place that we can live on for more than a few more decades. We have got to see past this minute and understand our long term actions. We have got to be mindful in every single thing that we do, because it has an impact. We ALL have an impact. Go buy some plastic contrivance for your child’s birthday? Recognize that the plastic contrivance has a long-term impact, then ask whether it is worth the trade off. I cannot imagine anyone who really understands this ever believing that whatever they gain from the plastic contrivance will outweigh the life of our earth. Because it is that important. Every tiny decision adds to the mass that makes everything a very, big deal. It does overwhelm me because it really is that big and because we have chosen not to pay attention, now we will be forced to take action as we are bombarded by climate event after climate event, and lose species after species after species.

I really believe if we are to survive, and honestly I’m not sure I would want to be a part of an earth populated only with humans, we have got to change. We have to stop participating in a system that doesn’t work. We have got to stop polarizing and warring. It will only happen through peace and love, if we can actually get there. I see glimmers of hope, interspersed with stories about the bees and the Keystone XL, but sometimes it is really difficult to maintain equanimity.

The Bratty Puppy

Tonight my daughter, while studying for finals this week, was cuddling in her bed with George the puppy, work splayed out about her. George was under the covers sound asleep. Milla needed to go to the bathroom. She rose, set her papers aside, went upstairs and used the facilities, after which she returned to her room.

On the surface, it appeared nothing had changed. However, when she sat down, she could not locate her algebra study sheet anywhere. Finally, after searching futilely for several minutes, she discovered the sheet shredded under her bed cover, George snoozing soundly next to it.

For real. The dog ate her homework. I saw the shreds. He got up while she was gone for three minutes, shredded the damn thing, then curled up and went back to sleep.

Remarkable.

Winged Gods and Goddesses

I published a story on Huffington Post. It can be found here.

Winged Gods and Goddesses
Little girls and horses. I think part of why girls fall in love with horses is to have someone big on their side, someone on whom they can fly. I fell in love with horses before I had a logical brain, then they just lodged there, between the myelin bulges. Later when I actually acquired a horse, they were my escape from a reality that was less than. Horses were my winged gods and goddesses, flying on four legs. I was naive, silly, and fearful, but with a horse I could forget all that and imagine anything. And I did.

Before a real horse actually came to live with me…click here to continue reading.

Under My Skin

What you discover when you finally venture out of your comfort zone, is that the new place isn’t much different than the last. Each of us in our neighborhoods is operating pretty much as everyone else is operating in their neighborhoods. It is an illusion of difference.

Fear, fear, fear. It is paralyzing. I don’t like how it makes me feel. I get we are supposed to root it out, but other than feeling it, I’m not sure how to go about this in a way that isn’t too painful, and yes, I’m human enough to want to avoid pain. I know somehow it will be love, but to get there, I’ve got to figure out the misdirected beliefs and guide them in the right direction. It sounds so easy…