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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Lead Me From the River of Woe

If we wish to turn away from that which torments us, do we also turn away from that which inspires us?

I am concluding that some of our deepest compassion comes from our deepest suffering, yet we must survive the desolation in order to make it through to compassion, and sometimes this can feel impossible.

Some days, in order to turn away from the shadows, I bask in the simple light of my little girl. I’m like a fucking Hallmark greeting card. She glows and I glow in return. She radiates divinity. It is impossible to remain in dark places when my focus is on her.

Do I lose artistry in leaving the banks of Acheron to turn toward my Venusian angel?

We Have No More Passion

This is what modern life is:  All relationships are via some electronic device, or they do not exist at all. Meeting face to face is a rare occurrence except in the workplace, and if you work alone, woe be to you. If you want to find out what is happening in a friend’s life, you have to use some version of social media to discover it, because it will not be found out through real conversation. Even the phone has gone by the wayside and telephone conversations are rare. Everyone is too busy to connect with real humans that have any meaning to them unless those humans happen to live in the same house, and even then, it won’t be the sort of connection time and reflection bring, but the rushed and desperate connection of going to and fro. If there is a misunderstanding via electronic device which lacks the nuance of face to face connection, it is quite possible the relationship will end, regardless of how long you have known one another because with electronic misunderstandings comes the possibility of projection of whatever the person who misunderstands chooses to perceive, whether or not there is any basis in reality. Even when you do meet your friends in person, this is no guarantee you will actually connect with them. The devices are there too, intercepting. Faces don’t turn toward one another, but toward little screens, lighting the visage with cold, blue light.

These are the lives we have created for ourselves. In exchange for products that can do everything for us and do do everything for us, we have given up human connection, human passion. Maybe it isn’t such a travesty that we seem on the trajectory to self-destruction.

I’m a Funnel Web

I don’t text and drive because if I died, the tenuous little family I have would splinter apart and lose not just me, but one another. There is nothing here holding us together except me. Here is how my funeral would be: my small number of friends (who aren’t friends with each other so who knows how some of them would even find out), my parents, and my sister’s family. There would be no looming aunts or uncles or cousins who would pull my daughters aside and tell them to hold on to each other because they are all the other has anymore. The consequence of being an immoral and wanton woman who has not had a traditional family for herself (not because it isn’t what I wanted, but because I made choices in partners that were not the best for me), is that I have two children from two fathers — GASP! Say it isn’t so! Yes, I’m afraid it is. One of their fathers lives three states away with his new wife. The other lives here in Portland alone in a basement studio apartment. The older would ship off to Arizona; the younger would remain. They would not see one another. I highly doubt my family would make much effort to see them more than once a year, if that. The phone calls to them would dwindle. Over the years they would lose touch with my family (but my family doesn’t know me anyway, so I don’t know that they would be losing much there). Really, the only way the younger would even know her mother would be through the older and the older would be far away, living her teenage life, probably nursing her grief, but it would fade and soon they would have their own singular lives. There was a mother, but there isn’t any more.

I am tenuous. If I were a web, I’d be the small one in the corner, or even in a funnel. I would not be one of those magnificent orbs connected to 30 flowers and grasses in the meadow. I have thought of this over and over and over. I really first thought of it a few years ago when the son of a woman I know died. There were hundreds of people at his funeral. I’m not exaggerating. I realized then that I would never have hundreds of people at my funeral. I am not gregarious or extroverted. I get an evening off from my children and I go to the library or the bookstore and bury myself in someone else’s fake life or study something scientific that has caught my fancy. I don’t actually feel grief at being the sort of person whose funeral would not be heavily attended, but I can’t bear the thought of my daughters losing one another because I am not here and for this, I won’t text and drive. I also drive the speed limit, to the consternation of those on the road around me. I’m not ridiculous in avoiding pitfalls, but the car seems to me the most likely catalyst for my demise at this point in my life. I’m not going to increase its odds, that’s all.

Lapsing

Lapsed. I’m lapsing. I’ve lapsed. From nearly everything.

Lapsed seamstress. Lapsed writer. Lapsed knitter. Lapsed runner. Lapsed cello practicer. Lapsed student. Lapsed lover. Lapsed homemaker. Lapsed housecleaner (Actually, this one gets many lapses in one: Lapsed duster, lapsed bathroom scrubber, lapsed dishwasher, lapsed vacuumer, lapsed mopper, lapsed ironer). Lapsed makeup wearer. Lapsed friend caller. Lapsed snappy dresser. Lapsed reader. Lapsed photographer. Lapsed French and Spanish student. Lapsed cook. Lapsed popcorn-maker. Lapsed wit (I’d like to think I’m a lapsed half-wit because that would imply I was getting smarter). Lapsed activist. Lapsed memory. Lapsed. Simply lapsed.

I can’t really call myself a lapsed sleeper because I’ve been insomniac for two decades now, so it’s a permanent condition. I could only say I’m a lapsed insomniac if I were to start sleeping regularly. I also can’t call myself a lapsed laundry folder because I’ve always been abysmal at that too.

Thankfully, I have not lapsed in tooth care, keeping my body clean, or playing with my children or dog, although sometimes I wish I could lapse on these things too. I skipped a shower yesterday, and could barely contain my desire to jump in the shower this morning. An itchy scalp makes me bananas. I hope I’m never a prisoner of war or part of some other catastrophe that keeps me from being able to wash.

Maybe it’s my hair that has me so stuck, so unalive, so lapsed. I heard someone say in a movie that you should not keep the same hairstyle for decades, but I have not followed this rule. I’ve made forays into other hair places, but I always veer back because the texture of my hair is so inflexible when it comes to hairstyle variety, at least if I want to look moderately presentable, that I end up drifting back into blow-dried straight, shoulder-length hair. It doesn’t do well with layers, mainly because it’s really actually curly and layers turn me into a square head, which is so unattractive. Bangs. Those stick out straight in front and I look like I’m giving trailer girls circa 1985 a run for their hairstyle money. Again, it’s because I’m mostly curly. That’s the other thing. I’ve tried Gresham…er…curly, but I think because I blowdry straight every other day, some of the strands have become straight, so I end up with some parts curly, some parts bent funny, and the rest frizzy. Ugly. Ugh. Hence, no hair style change. Most days, it’s in a ponytail. I look the same all the time and this is boring. Just like me.

Tag: Motivation, lack thereof. There isn’t one of those, but perhaps there ought to be.

Jet

When I was 9 we lived in some apartments in Salem.  I was not happy there.  The other children did not like me and would not play with me.  I spent most of my time reading.  When I wasn’t reading, I was trying to get the other children to play with me. When they would not, I would hang out with local dogs and cats and imagine I had friends who were mostly horses.  As might be apparent from this and has been mentioned elsewhere, I was somewhat peculiar.

Our apartment complex was surrounded by fields.  A few years after we moved away, the fields were mowed to put in a GI Joe store, Bi-mart, and strip malls.  Ugly places.  But when I lived there, the fields did too, filled with scrub trees and brush high enough in which to make forts.  Our apartment had a patio that faced the main road, which was lined with oaks.  There was also a tall, thin oak in our patio area.  On this tree, there were often buggy creatures.

One cool, fall day while sitting on the patio breathlessly discussing my latest gymnastic championship with an imaginary sportscaster, I noticed a movement on the tree.  Always curious about things of this sort, I went over to investigate.  The movement was that of a fluffy, brown-and-black striped caterpillar.  She was crawling rapidly up the tree.  Bump.  Flat.  Bump.  Flat.  On she moved to some unknown destination.

I was utterly enchanted.  A friend!  I picked her up and placed her in my palm.  She rolled into a small circle, the two black ends of her body touching.  I walked over to a lawn chair and sat down, waiting.  Her fluffs were kind of prickly, but also kind of soft. She had a shiny, black hood for a head at one end of her oblong body.

Eventually, she wakened and began crawling up my palm and onto my arm.  I picked her up to turn her around.  She rolled back into a circle.  We continued like this for several minutes.  She would begin crawling until she started to get too far up my arm, then I would move her back to my palm.  After several rounds, I placed her on the table on our patio and watched her inching crawl.

This caterpillar was fast!  I knew if I did not keep an eye on her, she would soon be gone.  She was so fast, I decided she needed a fast name and decided on the highly original Jet.  I loved her.  I wanted to keep her until she grew into a butterfly.

I went into our apartment and began to rummage around for a jar.  I placed Jet into a bowl on the kitchen counter and located a small jar with a lid.  I took the jar and Jet out back and looked for some nature-like things with which to furnish Jet’s new home.  I found some leaves, sticks, old brush, and a few dandelion flowers, and arranged them carefully in the jar.  Then I placed Jet inside and twisted on the lid.  I then, however, began to worry that Jet would suffocate in her new home, so I reopened it and went back into the house to locate a hammer and nail with which to create a ventilation system.  I found the tools and headed back outside once again.

A short time later, Jet’s home was properly aerated so she would not suffocate.  At this point I figured she might also need hydration, and went in to get a cup of water, leaving Jet in the jar while I did so.  When I returned, I placed some droplets of water for her on a leaf.  Jet crawled around the minute space for a bit, and then just stood there on a stick.  I thought perhaps the home was boring for her, and brought her out again to play.  This went on for a couple of hours until my mom came home from work.  I showed her Jet and Jet’s new apartment before she began making dinner.

That evening, as I sat and watched television with my sister, Jet sat with me in her jar.  I would take her out to crawl, then return her to her house.  Finally my mom pointed out that Jet might be tired.  I agreed and took her upstairs to my bedroom window sill for the night.

The next morning, upon awakening, I immediately went to Jet and her jar.  She was not there!  I looked and looked, but there was definitely no fluffy, black-and-brown caterpillar in the jar.  I ran hollering into my mom’s bedroom, sobbing.  Jet is gone!  She isn’t here anymore!

My mom looked into the jar as well.  Then she pointed to a soft, brown cocoon.  See that?  She made her cocoon. So fast?  I could not believe it.  I looked skeptically into the jar. Lo and behold, there was a  cocoon!  In my frenzied excitement over the missing caterpillar, the cocoon had completely escaped my attention.  Part of the reason may have been because the cocoon was much smaller than Jet had been, or so it seemed.  It was about the same width, but only about half the length, and it was light brown.

I kept the jar in my bedroom for the next few weeks.  At first, I checked it constantly to see if a beautiful butterfly had emerged.  As time progressed though, I began to wonder if maybe Jet had died in the cocoon.  The grass and leaves shriveled up, and the jar looked decidedly bleaker than it had when I created the nest.  The cocoon looked so light and fragile, I wasn’t so sure Jet was still alive.

My childhood existed before there was an internet where one could go and look up the incubation time for caterpillars, or what kind of butterfly or moth would emerge.  I had gone to the library to see if I could find a book about Jet, but was not successful.  I had no idea how long it would take for her to grow.  Little did I realize that Jet would be wintering with me for months.

One morning the following spring, upon wakening, I went immediately to the jar, as had become my habit.  I never expected a change because it had been a very long time since she had moved into the jar and turned into a cocoon.  But this morning was different.  The cocoon was spliced neatly up one side.  However, I could not see any butterfly inside the jar.

Having been fooled once into thinking Jet had left, I was not so easily deterred this time.  I took the jar into another room where the light from the windows was much brighter than in my room.  There, among the dried leaves, grass, and dandelions, was a brown, spotted moth.  Jet was not a butterfly, but a moth!  I thought she was beautiful.  Her wings seemed still to be wet and not completely ready to fly, so I left her in the jar while I went to school.  After school, I took the jar and placed it outside with the lid off so she could fly away.  Later when I went to see her, she was gone.

Since thinking about Jet recently, I went and looked up this type of caterpillar on the internet. Somewhere along the way I learned they are often called woolly bears. I played with many more such caterpillars throughout my childhood.  In my recent research, I discovered that the moths that grow from woolly bear caterpillars are called Isia Isabella, or Tiger Moths.  I love it that these creatures who brought enchantment to my life as a girl share the same name as my youngest daughter. I also learned that I had created just the perfect habitat for little Jet to cocoon for the winter.  They like cool, small, dimly lit spaces with dirt, leaves, and dandelions, and once they are ready, they will hunker down until spring.  My cool window sill was to the west under some trees; the jar an ideal woolly bear habitat.

Interestingly, there are legends that the woolly bear can predict whether winter will be more or less severe based on the thickness of their stripe.  Some believe that if the woolly bear’s stripe is wide, winter will be mild.  If the stripe is narrow, winter will be severe.  Others believe the narrow stripe arises from more moisture, while a wide stripe comes from dry conditions.  Considering wet winters are also often severe, these two lines of thought seem in corroboration.

I don’t remember what the weather was like the year Jet wintered with us.  I lived in Oregon, so it was likely a wet winter. Compared to the many woolly bear photos I have now seen, hers was a narrow stripe.  If this one woolly bear’s stripe was any indication, perhaps the legends about the woolly bears are true.  All I know is that she was an interesting companion and brought happiness to an introverted and often lonely child, and she gave me something fun to look forward to.

Here is a photo of a woolly bear. This one looks exactly like Jet did.

Where is the Damn Sun?

Would I feel any differently this morning if it were sunny and nice instead of rainy and crappy?  Oregon was rainy and shitty the entire time we were there until the last day.  It had been sunny until the day before we arrived.  Now it is sunny again since we have left.  It was pouring in NY the day we left and the days up until we left.  It is pouring now.  Am I going to get any summer anywhere?

It is difficult for me to discern whether the weather has an impact on my mood when the weather rarely changes from shit.  We have had a handful of sunny days since January, and I remember feeling optimistic on those days.  Hawaii was a boring place to live, but it was so sunny and nice most of the time.  I rarely felt down like I do here most of the time.  But of course, hormones could be playing a part as well, and the constant wondering what each day will bring in my relationship.  I used to bounce back pretty easily after an argument with the boyfriend, but not really anymore.  Now I just wonder when the next one will come.  I can just hear all the preachers out there who will comment and tell me just to leave him, but I would like to ask them how they would like to be single and pregnant in a city with no friends.  It is so easy to armchair quarterback, especially someone else’s relationship.  And then of course there is this weather, this abominable, interminable, shitty-ass weather.  I wish to fuck it would get sunny already.

I Gave a Man an Apple

I gave a hungry man an apple yesterday and I keep thinking about it.  I don’t want to trivialize it, but I wanted to write about him.  I keep seeing him at the other end of the subway car gnawing the apple as if his life depended on it.  And maybe it did.  I thought of him this morning in my insomniac hours.  I thought about the homeless families I read about in the New York Times and I wanted to write and comment about what homelessness is, but that seems so boring and unlikely to change anything.  People read me, but no one is going to read what I have to say about homelessness and change anything.  I don’t know what would remove the image of that man from my brain.  I don’t know that I should remove that image.  I just keep thinking about it.  So many times I have sat on the subway car and a person comes on and says, Excuse me, Ladies and Gentlemen, apologizes, and then proceeds with their spiel.  So many times I have been slightly annoyed by the interruption, yet felt guilty at the same time.  I simultaneously realize how close to precarious is my own financial situation, yet I acknowledge that we are nowhere near completely homeless and there are people in our lives who would ensure true homelessness is a most unlikely possibility.  I know also how pitiful and useless would be the change in my pocket.  And honestly, I am slightly resentful at being asked even though it isn’t fair to feel this way.  So I do nothing.  But there have been times when I have had food, times before moving to New York, when I would give food to people asking for it.  This time I had an apple, he asked for food, why not?  He told his sad story and I handed him my apple, then thought nothing more of it until I looked up minutes later to see him devouring that apple like he hadn’t eaten in days.  It was ginormous and red and beautifully ripe, a sort of dream apple.  It makes me weep to think of his hunger, swallowing the pieces so quickly he could not have had time to enjoy much of its fragrant sweetness.  It makes me wonder what would happen if I ever gave into the urge I have had in the past to ask the person to sit down and talk to me.  Sometimes I am afraid because the person seems to be mentally ill. I don’t want to be screamed at.  Other times I just don’t do it.  I’ve never done it.  But the urge has been there over and over.  I have wanted to stop my car (back when I had and drove a car) and ask the person holding the sign What happened?  How did you get here? But I haven’t done it.  I wonder if I ever will.

Solo Ambulant

I don’t fit.  I just don’t.  I feel like I spend my time in groups of people who fit in whatever they are in, but I’m not of them, I am just there.  I wonder if this is a manifestation of mine or if I’m meant simply to be always alone.  Surrounded by people and always alone.  I am certainly not a part of Hawaii.  I knew that coming here though, so it was not a surprise.  I suppose I had harbored some hope, albeit small, that I would not feel my aloneness as acutely here as I had in Portland.  But such thinking was naive.

The first few days here were a struggle, primarily because any move is a struggle.  We were worn out and travel weary.  Upon arrival we had originally intended to look for an apartment.  We started out renting a room in the house of a friend of a friend.  It was supposed to be the bigger of two rooms the homeowner had for rent.  Upon seeing it, I knew we would have to find our own place because it was simply not big enough for the two of us.  However, after settling in, spending time with the homeowners, and looking at what we could get for similar money on our own, I determined that we would have plenty of space if we rented both rooms.  So here we will stay.  The house is expansive and comfortable, in a good neighborhood, and our housemates could not be better.  The apartments we looked at for a similar price were ratholes in neighborhoods I would not want to live in.  This house is also quite close to Milla’s school and near nice shops and restaurants.  It will be a good place to live.

I also had to buy a car.  This would not on the surface appear to be a daunting task, but for some reason every person I called about cars was a complete freak.  The two cars we ended up actually getting to see were trashed beyond belief and there was no way I would purchase them.  And looking at them and apartments was a day long ordeal and a huge pain in the ass, simply because getting around Honolulu can be a huge ordeal and a pain in the ass.  This is because the main interstate through the city has off ramps with no coordinating on ramps and vice versa.  In addition, directions to exits are not well marked, or at least marked to coincide with the directions provided by Google maps.  I suppose this could be considered an error on the part of Google maps.  There also seem to be several roads with more than one name.  One sign will have the first name but not the second.  The second sign will have the second name but not the first.  The final sign might have both or simply a number.  By the time I figured out that all were one and the same it was too late to take the exit thereby necessitating taking a further exit.  However, on return the previous exit was not accessible so I would have to go on to the next exit to try and head back.  Only then there would not be an on ramp, so I would have to drive down further through town and attempt to locate one.  This happened to me four times.  Each occurrence took over a half an hour.  Needless to say, I was not a happy camper. Luckily at the end of the day one person who had placed an ad for a car on craiglist without a phone number responded to my email inquiry.  She was female and sounded like a normal human, unlike any of the other sellers to whom I had spoken.  I made arrangements to see the car the next day and bought it after a drive.  It’s a good car.  I like it better than our clunky rental.  It is a 1992 Toyota Camry.

Milla also started school yesterday.  This was the big reason for our arrival at the beginning of August.  Milla’s school experience has been the most satisfying part of this trip.  I have had many moments of homesickness for a place that does not exist, moments where I long for a place that is mine, knowing it is not Hawaii or Portland.  It has been lonely and painful.  But finding a school that seems so good for Milla is a blessing.  Her teacher met with her for a half an hour.  Within that half hour, he knew Milla better than most people who have known her for some time.  He was able to identify parts of her personality and character and discuss these traits with me.  He seemed genuinely delighted to have her in his class.  I am so pleased Milla may finally have found a place where she is welcome.  Finding a place where Milla could thrive was one of my primary reasons in choosing to come here; in this at least we are blessed.

Non sequitur…but not really because I’m listening to him, but Chet Baker’s voice turns me inside out.  He puts me in tune with the universe. Him and Nina Simone.  Milla has become a Nina Simone convert.  I can’t play Nina enough to satisfy my daughter.  She has good taste.

I saw a ghost last night.  I told it to leave.  It did not belong in our room.  It did not belong here.  It needed to leave and it left.  I was not afraid.  For a moment, I felt a strength I only occasionally know I possess and wondered if my being lonely all the time is so I can someday use this strength.  I do not know.  There are so many times I do not know if I will make it to that point.  Perhaps I can use it if I ever get over this blinding loneliness.