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I don’t know, and neither do you

So, here we go. Or more accurately, here I go (what’s this “we” stuff?). People have been nudging me for years to start a blog…but i still don’t know exactly what a blog does, or how it’s different from me prattling on FaceBook or even Twitter. Yeah, I get the character limit thing in Twitter, and the weird and ever-changing algorithms on FaceBook, but that’s all entirely free. And reasonably effortless. Truth be told, I suppose one of the advantages of having my own blog is a sense of control, even if I’ve had to break down and fork over a few dollars to gain that. But, so be it. This is capitalism. No free lunches, you pay for what you get, all that. So…here I go.

I figure I know a little about a lot of things. I’m very curious, and enjoy discussing and opining on a great many things in my limited corner of the Universe. My writing skills are decent, and I love words, but my tragic flaw is … initial enthusiasm followed by a sudden stop. Very frustrating. But, that’s how I roll. Accordingly, I find it best to implement a solid frontal assault initially, and take what i can get on the follow-up (if any). Sporadic is my middle name, it seems.

I am conflicted, or at least vaguely unsettled, about doing this. I do not like to assert myself as having anything of value to offer, or to be perceived that I believe myself to be skilled or offering anything of value. To engage in honest humility, though, I have to accept that I am not the best, nor the worst, of writers and what you see is what you get. Additionally, some days are better than others, and so it goes.

I journal, and have since i was a kid. It’s always come pretty naturally to me. That will continue, I am sure, but blogging/posting offers me the opportunity to have witness, comparison, perspective. More public audience gives me a reactive community of practice relative not only to the craft of writing, but to thought and self-assessment. the psychological distance inherent in online work affords untold risk-taking opportunity, for better or worse.

Lately, i have been focused on topics surrounding justice and equity in this country. I am revoltingly fascinated with the current political environment, which is more partisan and hypocritical than I have ever seen it. Perhaps that is a function of my age, since it’s been fairly recently since I’ve paid such close attention to politics and how it shapes life in this country. Equity, or lack thereof, is a product of the political environment and the public policy it yields. Equity on the basis of race, color, gender, and sexual orientation most gets my dander up, because discrimination on those bases seems particularly nonsensical to me. What difference does it make to another person what skin color I bear, or who i love, or which reproductive system my body expresses? Prove to me that any of that alters your life in any fashion. Contending that it does affect anyone else is simply…nonsense.

I don’t know if i have very many goals for this blog, other than a chance to perhaps maintain some control of the audience (if any). FaceBook privacy settings are unreliable, at least in my opinion, so when I have rampaged through current events and posted that online, i have no earthly idea who reads that. I suspect that I may have been profiled by at least one potential employer, and if that is true, I am sure that’s not the only one. Ultimately, it’s not earth shattering if that has happened, because once again, I thrive on being reasonably transparent – what you see is what you get. I would never want to accept a job based on a false impression of who i am. Better you should know, and better i should know that if it made a difference to you i probably don’t want your job.

Long, long time ago

So. I am still dancing alone in my head about dental care and this coming change in … circumstance. When I saw the dentist, they had a somewhat canned speech about whether I was at the end of the journey with my teeth. I wanted to chuckle, because it was never a journey, it was a fucking war.

I don’t remember very many times being told that I had to brush my teeth, either in the morning or at night. I do remember once when I was going to school, the van driver turned around and pointedly asked me if I brushed my teeth every day. It must have been obvious that I did not. She stared at me for a few seconds, the turned back to our ride to school.

I started going to the dentist before I was 10. I remember my first cavity – I was eating a bowl of Captain Crunch cereal, and I bit down as usual, and the pain was excruciating. Cavity, and a deep one. I had to got to see the scary man in the white coat who lunged at me with a needle the size of a Coke bottle it seemed. Then some horrid whirring and vibration and grunting (his) and scraping. Ugh. I ejected from the chair as though I had been shot out of a cannon.

Over the many years after that followed fillings, crowns, root canals and now…this. My mother always warned me that I had better brush my teeth, but in my mind it was more to look presentable so people would not think I was … ignorant trash from the housing projects on the other side of town. As usual, I don’t remember my father saying anything.

Both my parents had partial dentures, bridges as some call them. Neither had a full set of natural teeth, so in some ways I may have figured that was the way it was supposed to go. After a while, it became something I never really thought about. I always found it somewhat annoying that some girls at slumber parties woke up and had to go and brush their teeth before eating breakfast. That mad no sense to me.

In high school, I had a big molar that abscessed. As I have told people most of my life, pain is an incredible motivator. It motivated me to seek relief in the form of some old medication that my grandmother was using for pain before she died. I have no dea what it was, a peach-colored triangular tablet. It did not totally eliminate the pain, but launched me into my first narcotic euphoria. Nothing seemed real, I was walking but couldn’t feel my feet touching the ground. The pain seemed far removed, but there was a kind of hazy, foggy, floating sensation that I rather liked.

The scary man in the white coat was joined by another equally scary man in his own white coat, and they leaned toward each other at the counter of the exam room and spoke in hushed tones that I couldn’t make out. That crashed my euphoria and I started to cry because they were whispering in somewhat solemn tones and it scared me. I don’t remember too much of what happened next, but apparently they pulled that tooth and I went home with a mouth full of cotton and gauze pads. Case closed.

Obviously, that was not the last tooth I lost. None of the dental procedures I hae gone through have ever penetrated that hazy, foggy, not-quite-real feeling. It was almost as thought it was happening to someone else. By the time nitrous oxide (still not sure why the called it laughing gas) was available, I almost looked forward to whatever they were going to do. Give me the gas. I was free of my body with the gas, and felt as though my consciousness could go anywhere. I was not just free of my body, I was free. But that’s another story.

Regardless of all that, I did whatever the dentist of the moment told me to do. Root canal? No problem. Extraction? Ok, tell me when to be there and make sure the gas is working. I was entirely impervious to the progressive nature of any of that. I don’t quite know why, maybe it seemed normal. Maybe it seemed as though it was someone else. Maybe it seemed inevitable. I don’t know.

Now that I am “ending the journey with my teeth”, I am really confused by why that is so emotional for me. I’ve never cared about my teeth before, only the impression people would have based on my appearance. In many ways, that was given to me, but I was certainly old enough to put 2 and 2 together and realize that not taking care of my teeth would take me this point in 2022. Truth be told, I don’t know what I’m supposed to get out of this experience.

I know that some of it, at least so far, is about how I handle shame. My first thought was that I needed to hide and not show myself to anyone, it was too hideous, I had been too stupid, I knew better. I could hear my mother’s voice in my head shouting, “Oh NOW you want to cry, NOW you want to listen, NOW you know what you were supposed to have been doing all this time. All kinds of people tried to tell you, but would you listen? NO!” Hmm. She used to accuse me of purposely trying to make myself ugly. Maybe there is something to that.

So anyhow, I suppose I am on this journey, whether I want to be or not. Since I cannot go back in time or sprint into the future, I have to deal with this in the here and now. This is my reality for the next chunk of time. It’s not a dream, I am not going to wake up and it all disappears. The Universe is not going to say this is a joke, and a 2-minute warning – just wanted to see if you were awake. No, this is the real deal.

I still have a choice – I could decide to do nothing, hide my head in the sand and pretend it’s not happening, but not sure I can do that. I know there will be some further crisis of pain, physical and emotional, that will force me to deal with it anyway, so I suppose the time is now. Dammit.

This feels a bit like saying goodbye to my uterus. It felt like an amputation, and I wondered if I was throwing in the towel on a part of myself that deserved to go further, to the end. To what end, or whose end, I have no idea but that was the feeling at the time. It is somewhat the feeling now. When I saw the X-rays of my full head showing the teeth and bones in the mouth, I felt such incredible … I don’t know, compassion? As though I was looking at the real me, the one that’s under all the masks and the trauma and the illusion. This is who I am, just this little creature without armor or weaponry. Just a little creature. Ain’t that a kick in the ass?

*sigh* So on I go, and this becomes another part of my story. A few more pieces to add to a pile of medical waste. I wish I could skip to the next chapter though, ’cause this one is not a whole lotta fun.

Born with my back against the wall. Need a door.

How important is why?

As if I don’t have enough of my life changing and contorting into something of which I have no concept, now I have to deal with my teeth. My teeth have always been bad. Since childhood. They were bad partly because I didn’t take care of them properly, partly because it is part of my genetics. Neglect was normal for me, so why should I take care of what nobody else was caring for? Yadda yadda and yadda.

So I have teeth breaking, and the dentist has more or less fired me. He sent me to a dentures and implants place. Lovely. I went there yesterday, and this guy – who is very nice but is obvious not a non-profit business entity – basically said that I’m done. I have already lost several teeth over the years, and he said the rest of them need to go now, because they will be going soon regardless. I did not count on that. There were tears, mainly because I have such shame concerning my teeth. Always have.

This guy’s ultimate plan will cost $17k, which even if I had that money I’m not sure I buy the whole sales pitch. I don’t have $17k, nor am I interested in having $17k for this purpose. Titanium implants that will allow me to snap the prosthetic teeth into place. Extraction of the remaining teeth. Parts and labor. Damn. This is like buying a car. It will take several months, possibly up to a year, to get all of this in place. It sounds like suffering to me, and I am not OK with that.

So, this is the latest crisis in my perpetuation of my childhood dysfunction. I could have done better, but I didn’t, so here I am. Bad teeth, morbidly obese, sloppy to the point of slob, underachiever to the max. My first instinct is to ask myself why. Why have you let things get so out of hand? Why have you squandered the investment of nearly four decades of dental work, only to wind up here? Why are you such a fuck-up?

I don’t know why, and that has always disturbed me. The model I’ve had all these years is that if I know why, I can change it. I am no longer sure that’s true, if it was ever true. Whatever caused me to make those thousands of small decisions that got me to here cannot be reconstructed. I cannot go back in time, which is a blessing in a way. So I don’t know why, and I’m not entirely sure I’m clear on how. And how important is that?

Knowing why and how doesn’t change the present reality. I always want to know why, as though even a bad reason would be helpful in my acceptance of reality. When people are murdered, their surviving loved ones often want to know why, why them, why did they have to be killed. Those surviving the loss of a soldier are much the same. In some cases, murder victims’ survivors meet the murderer, and ask that question of the perpetrator but does that help? The reality has not changed – someone important to you has left this existence, and that is painful. There is really nothing that can rectify those circumstances.

Perhaps, at least in my case, knowing why gives me a feeling of vengeance, gives me a target of blame, something to do with my shame and embarrassment. Perhaps that is what I have been doing all along, blaming myself for myself, for the underachievement, for the obesity, for the bad teeth, for the bad skin I had in my adolescence. For my anti-authority passion, for my neuroses, for my anxiety and depression. For my imperfection.

Imperfection is reality, and so I suppose I have not been willing to fully live into reality. Maybe this is the turning point, maybe – like Pinoccio – I have been trying to become real while not quite accepting that I wasn’t real? I dunno, but something has got to give. The part of me that is overly dramatic says this is the Beginning of the End, that I don’t have any more time to get this right, to do any of the things I want to do. It’s over, and you have thrown away the chance you had to be…to be what? Happy? Notorious? Successful?

A while back, in 2011, I asked someone who studied the Mayan calendar what happened when the calendar ended in 2012. She looked at me as though I had asked her to explain quantum physics, and her answer was, “Something else.” Perhaps that is where I am headed, to something else, whatever that may be. The why of it all really doesn’t change one thing about that. I can decide whatever I want to decide about teeth, about emotions, about making money, about obesity but knowing why any of that exists may be well beyond my pay grade. For whatever I do with my freedom of will and the choices I make will lead me to something else, and why it has all happened is irrelevant.

Knowing why simply makes me a little more comfortable in accepting the unacceptable. If I want to believe that I have shitty teeth because I am supposed to teach someone else something about it makes me feel a little better, a little more in control of my circumstances. It doesn’t change the reality. I still have to accept it, and go on. Or not. My choice. I know that I CAN do this, but I shrieked inwardly WHY? What am I doing this for?

While I am waiting for the answer to that question of why, my teeth will not get any better and I will not lose any weight or have a less cluttered living space. I am not willing to wait. for perfection that will never come. Then I really will have lost, and that is neither a requisite nor a desirable outcome of this lifetime. Instead, I am putting on the big girl panties so that I can get on with the business of something else.

The light always belonged to us. We just forgot.

Fog

This morning, there was fog. 72F and fog. Seems fitting – I have been in fog for a couple of years now. Clouds at my knees, it would seem. Things not appearing quite real, hazy, not allowing my eyes to discern their dimensions, or stability. Dare I lean against this structure, can it support me or does the mist hide its flaws and degradation? Even in the fog, I can discern the necessary details if I will take the time and get close enough.

There are people in my life who cannot support me, but the fog clouded my judgment. I did not take enough time to see who they really were. I suppose that’s my fault, but there are a lot of them out there, usually narcissists and sociopaths who aren’t capable of solidity. They will remain in the fog, soggy and miserable.

I have to say, though, I am in a less dense fog than ever before. These days, I am still prone to be trusting of those who are not worthy of my faith and loyalty but I would like to believe it doesn’t take quite as long to gain clarity these days. Some of my strategy is to just stay the eff out of most places where I might attract them. That works reasonably well for me – best defense, no be there. Those are words to live by.

I missed a meeting on Tuesday night, one that I knew was coming up, one that I regularly attend on Tuesday nights. I remembered it earlier on Tuesday, but after I finished work it went totally out of my mind. I woke up after it was over, very embarrassed because I was the Zoom host. It’s my account, and I feel that I have a lot of the responsibility there.

The Earth did not stop its rotation because I missed the meeting, nobody died, and the city was not in ruins. But I was ashamed, and frightened, telling myself that forgetting that commitment was a sure sign of cognitive decline and early onset dementia.

I have continued to process this, which is a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good thing because I can really observe my thoughts and reactions to this occurrence rather than indulging in some distraction to hide from it. The bad thing is I can really observe my thoughts and reactions to this occurrence. A lot of mental energy has been expended on this, but I suppose that is just how I roll. Or don’t roll. Whatever.

Anyhow, I did pick out a couple of waypoints in this most recent journey into the heart of me. One is the shame. That is always to be expected when I have made a mistake. I appreciate that perfection is a myth and everyone makes mistakes and yadda yadda yadda, but it feels like crap, and it feels as though I am a fuck-up. The old tapes begin to play (and yes, they have now been digitized and reside securely within the confines of my cerebellum) and I am back in childhood and being told that I will never amount to anything, that I could have done better, that I just didn’t try, that I should not be trusted with important things. That since this has happened before people should know better than to expect anything more from me. Rewind, and repeat.

Wherever those patterns came from, my reaction is to immediately agree – yes, I am a fuck-up. Yes, I will never amount to anything. Yes, I could have – and should have – done better. My therapist says these are thoughts, not facts. That I can reframe thoughts by articulating them more positively and not indulging in negative – and abusive – self-talk. So, yeah, I get that intellectually, but the bias is incredibly strong and then…there’s the fog. That’s where it arises because I suppose I don’t really want to see clearly at that point. I am deep into it before I realize that I have a choice about entering.

The other unfortunate part about a shame spiral like this, at least for me, is that it comes down to waiting for the blow, waiting for punishment, waiting for retaliation, waiting for withdrawal of … love, respect, affection, trust. Withdrawal of safety and a sense of well-being. This is big. This is close to my core. Is this not what makes me who I am? What will I be without it? Who will I be without it?

So. It is time for more coffee, I think. And time for my medications. I promised that I would do better with regular doses. Some days, I eat the bear; some days the bear eats me. Some days I call myself names and wonder why I am doing any of this. Some days I write about it all and chuckle affectionately at my errant typing skills. And some days, I wait for the night as though tears in the sunlight are somehow not valid.

Britteney, hold on.








Choice

I forgot two meetings this evening. They were on my calendar. They were on my mind this morning. And somehow…I sat there and had not a thought about them past noon. They were important to me. I fucked up.

I’m tired of fucking up, tired of not being able to remember things that are important. Is this how it started with my mother, is this the trail head of that long, horrific descent into dementia? I can’t do it. I won’t do it. I don’t want it, and I’m not going to have it.

If I go the same route she went, the same route my great-aunts went, it will not be pretty. I will throw in the towel long before it got as bad as it was for them. One of my great-aunts was calling the sheriff’s office nearly every night to complain about people fornicating on her roof. The other one started wearing tube socks and high heels and drinking sour milk from the fridge. My mother refused to eat anything but vanilla wafers and bananas until she weighed less than 100 pounds.

Not me. I’m not going gently into that good night, or the fog, or however it looks. I am not delusional. I just cannot remember things. I have CRS – Can’t Remember Shit. That is really truth, but it’s really not funny any longer. I am not having any of the family business – not this kid.

It’s as though I cannot balance myself any longer (physically or brain function-wise). I have been off balance for quite a while, but I know what that’s about, and I compensate. That’s annoying, but I really have no need of walking a tight rope anytime soon. The brain function is another story. I am nearly obsessed with my job, and I do remember a lot of necessary things…but everything else is in another world. I don’t know if the two sides of my brain are even communicating at this point.

It is utterly devastating to be having these unsettling visions of the future. Perhaps I should buy a few shares in Depends now, kill two birds with one stone – have a supply for when the time comes and make a few dollars to keep myself up in the nursing home. A few years ago, the only fear I had about getting old was that I wouldn’t be able to walk under my own power. Since my mother’s death, a wheelchair is the least of my worries.

Someone gave me a book, titled something like “Aging Is Not for Cissies”. It’s definitely not for the faint hearted, but after what I’ve seen of my progenitors, it’s definitely not for me. I don’t consider myself all that faint-hearted, but I get to decide what I’m willing to survive. Or not.

I know that I have underestimated the level of trauma I experienced watching my mother go down that path. The sun definitely went down on her. She no longer shared the same reality as the rest of us. I remember when she started telling me that she was concerned about her memory. She was still working then, and the doors were covered with Post-It notes to help her remember things. That was her compensating. And then after a while, there was no way to compensate for the huge deficit in her cognitive function. But she lingered in that state for more than a few years, and that’s where I draw the line.

My therapist suggested I ask my neurologist to set me up with for a cognitive study with a neuropsych practice. I know that is what I should do, but of course I am scared to death to do it. Should I just let the inevitable take it’s course? Should I just assume that if I do that, sooner or later I won’t know the difference, let alone my own name? From what I understand, early medication just buys time, it ultimately changes nothing. I don’t want this, any of it.

This must be what people with dread diseases go through, feeling that your body is out of your control entirely, doing things you neither want nor understand. Doing things that do not seem to be in your best interest, but it’s your own body doing it, but it’s trying to kill you? WTF? Control is highly overrated in the first place, but I suppose I did think one would have control of their own physicality. Apparently not.

I can’t do this. I choose not to do this. It won’t happen tomorrow, or perhaps not for quite some time, but I hope I know when I’ve gone past the point of no return. When I’m no longer me, when I can’t restore myself. I’ve seen the worst of what this journey has to offer, and I don’t need to go there. I know how the story ends, with suffering and loss of dignity, loss of whatever makes me who I am. Loss of everything.

I refuse. I just say no. There is no point. I do not think we were put here to suffer, but we do. I have generally rejected predeterminism, but what do I know. Maybe the struggle has always been the futile attempt to buck the tide of the inevitable. Perhaps I should call a halt to struggling and just wait for the bell to toll, the night to fall. Perhaps Death lied. Perhaps Death is proud, and laughs behind its dark hood at the incessant fear it raises.

I don’t have to do this, but I will do it until I don’t, until I am too weary to continue. It’s a choice, but a shitty one.

How?

How much longer, how much more, how much farther,? Carry me home, carry me home no matter how long it takes, no matter how big I am, no matter how long the journey. Did you forget me, did you neglect me, the debt has yet to be paid. I still cry, I still need, I remain unfulfilled, unsated. Barely conscious but yet somehow sentient, knowingly unknowing. Unknowing. Unsure, unsteady, not fully formed. Parts of me are soft and gelatinous, the parts that feel deeply, the parts that do not comprehend wanton cruelty or unprovoked sadism, or the even more incomprehensible pure evil.

If there is evil, can it be redeemed? What does redemption look like for random amorality? Perhaps the price is too great for us to comprehend, perhaps it takes lifetimes for the debt to be paid. And what price for a life, what price for misery, what price for pain? What does righting the wrong even begin to measure?

Perhaps the biggest fear is that some wrongs can never be righted, some debts never paid. Is the final analysis ever fair and equitable, or can we simply not see the obscenely large scale of the measuring apparatus. I would like to believe there is justice, but mortal eyes cannot see it, cannot envision it. The only just vision I can describe is the one of fantastic dreams where caterpillars talk and rabbits are obsessed with time. Are dreams the only fodder of justice?

IN the background 60 Minutes is telling the story of how Saudi Arabian royalty assasinated journalists who painted them in less than flattering colors. Perhaps this is as far as justice every goes in our incredibly finite lifetimes – you wrong me, I kill you. In my vision, you have only robbed someone of their physical reality, but I would like to believe there is more to our lives than that. If that is true, why am I afraid to die?

I have to believe the space we take up is infinitesimal compared to the breadth and depth of the Universe. The absurdity of believing that homo sapiens are the proverbial crown of creation always makes me giggle…right before it stimulates frightening thoughts of what that would mean. Does it mean the literal War of the Worlds? Would it mean live enactment of the pinnacle of the Star Wars series, where there are infinite numbers of fantastic and unbelievable life forms that far outreach my own. Like a typical human, my imagination goes directly to “what does this mean for ME?”

Is my only responsibility to grow, or is it to dream? If it is to dream, I’m underdeveloped. Somewhere along the line I got the message that impractical dreams are of no value. Dream of your success, dream of your earnings, dream of wanting for nothing. Rarely did we hear the advice of dreaming of a peaceful world, or a world where money matter little, or a world where people did not die of hunger in the middle of fields of plenty. We dreamed of being exceptional, of having opulent wealth in comparison to the average bloke.

What do I owe to this world? Perhaps it is not to dream of a better world, or even a better me, but to be a better world, to be a better me. Fake it until you make it. Live as if the goal has already been realized. Make the future catch up to the past. Or something bizarre like that. That causes me to wonder if I wouldn’t be simply fooling myself. Maybe, or maybe I would be attracting the reality I seek. Hmmmm.

Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows. And those with evil hearts know. Those who fall victim to the evil-hearted may never know the utter void of good that exists there. Evil is a complete mystery to me, as is cruelty. In my day, I have wanted to say the most hurtful thing possible to hurt someone I believed had wronged me, but that was an experience limited to that context. My identity is not linked to acquiring power over others by any means necessary. Perhaps I would be better off if that was the case, but in my experience it only means that you live in a pyramid scheme of affectation and burgeoning debt service. Power is a false god, with short-lived benefit.

Indebtedness never yields a zero-sum balance. We are never in absolute control. I am thinking the best we can do is unflinching acceptance of that reality.

My favorite addict.

My place or yours?

The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference. The Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade demonstrates incredible indifference to women of this country by eliminating agency over their own bodies. As long as there is gender inequity in the accountability for pregnancy, women are not seen or heard. Legislators have been indifferent toward the plight of those women who have been raped, or find themselves carrying an inviable fetus. Those who support this decision claim no human is fit to decide on the ultimate fate of a fertilized egg, yet humans have decided on the fate of an adult female who finds herself in the unenviable position of an unwanted pregnancy. This is not about unborn babies, it’s about power and control over women’s bodies.

I wrote those words in a letter to the editor of my local newspaper about a week ago, in the wake of the Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court. I wish the decision had been a shock, wish it had been something that blind sided us all. But unless one has been comatose for the past several years, this was no surprise. It has been open warfare on women and women’s bodies for quite a while now.

I would love to say there was once a time when a woman could say no and enjoy the support of society for their decision, but that hasn’t really ever been the case. Women have collectively not been able to love on their own terms, marry as they please, experience pleasure as they wish, or choose not to propagate the species. We have been convinced that we don’t know what we want, don’t know what’s desirable, and that we are here to care for the future of the hunters and gatherers. There are a few holes in that paradigm, I would say.

If one looks at our society in terms of systems theory and organizational design, women are certainly not seen as apex resources. Our physical strength is seen as inferior, but we are the apex of the reproductive effort. Instinctually, mammals protect their ability to radiate and propagate. That works very well for bats and lemurs, but not so well for humans since we have more complex brain functions. Those complexities are coarsely mixed with our basic instincts, and we’re a lumpy mixture of desire and survivalism that is not terriblly adaptive.

Or maybe I sell our adaptivity short. Perhaps we are making a conscious choice to be non-adaptive, to maintain the low viscosity of our current state. It’s easier to stay inert, particularly when hormones fuel desire and lower us to our lowest common denominator – that of want. Not need, but want. We want what we want, and some of us will do anything to get it, because that brings in the power dynamic.

Most beings have a power dynamic – insects have it, birds have it, mammals certainly have it, even plants have something of a dominance trait. Survival of the fittest. If we chose to stay at the lower echelon of brain function, that would be enough for homo sapiens, but our brains are a blessing and a curse. We are capable of thinking our way into creature comforts and longer life spans. We are, however, not capable of conscious adaptation for the betterment of the species.

That’s a tall order, I suppose. We don’t understand where instinct separates from intellect, where progress diverges from power. Where democracy splits from a good idea to something far too painful to achieve. Where the needs of the many truly do outweigh the desires of the few.

Where are we to go from here? I’m not sure, but we will go on, and some day it will be very different. I predict the difference will manifest after we have lost a great deal, come very close to annihilation, tried and failed many times to change the current paradigm. That will be many lifetimes past this one, it seems, if indeed there are other lifetimes. My individual consciousness will be lost in about twenty-five years from now so…what do I care?

I suppose I care because if any clump of my essential life force recombines with any bit of another force, I’d like to ensure the most providential environment for that to occur. Environment well beyond the physical confines of this planet – this one is just where I happened to manifest, I believe. The Universe is a flat plane of creativity, and we can make it incredibly toxic if we resist change very much longer. Perhaps that’s what the Big Bang really was – a resistance to change so great that it (whatever It is) imploded. All that energy at war with itself, just as we humans war with ourselves over matters we seek to control but ultimately cannot. Our brains are complex, but our vision is limited. As Mr. Scott warned in nearly every other episode of Star Trek, “If the anti-matter mixes with the matter, Captain, the ship is gonna blow!”

Are we the matter, or the anti-matter? I’d say we are both, but that’s way too much complicated discourse for a non-scientist. For a wonderer, and a wanderer, I can leave it at the simplistic model that we are both the substance and the anti-thesis, the yin and the yang, the black and the white and everything in between. In us lies the light of the Sun and the darkness of the Void. Extremes are far simpler to navigate than the hazy zones where they meet. I’d like to think we’re coming a bit closer, though – that’s why things seem so uncertain and unreliable right now. No worries. That’s how we got here.

Knock, knock. Who’s there?

This is an insane time on our planet. We’re here because we are truly the ones we have been waiting for – and that is not a cliche’. It’s time to create a new time. It’s time for the scales of justice to be returned to their rightful place at the hands of Lady Justice, and to restore her blindfold. She has seen too much, and she is troubled.

Lady Justice is thought to have arisen from mythology as Themis, a daughter of the earth and the sky, Gaia and Uranus. It is a nice theme for rising above the perils of earth-bound life while still maintaining humility and realizing that we can never take over the Earth or Sky. Some of us have forgotten that we are not divine, and never will be. Many of us have forgotten that Divinity has no need of adulation or worship, and certainly not money – those are human platitudes. The unconditional love. Love that is not dependent on anything but more love. Divinity has no conditions – WE have conditions, and some have affixed those to Divinity. A divinity has no need of conditions. A divinity has no need of obedience or conformity. A divinity can benefit only by giving it more of its own life force, which is love.

I want to say there will be peace here, but I cannot. Love is the most tumultuous of emotions, and it becomes entwined with the worship of our egos. Our egos turn love into brutality and cruelty and hatred. Our egos deprive us of the very connections we are doggedly pursuing. As has been said many times, by greater minds than my own, hate is not the opposite of love. Indifference is the antithesis of love. Hatred implies that I want you to have some particular experience, or outcome, so I am still in some kind of relationship with you (no matter how twisted. Indifference is just that – I don’t care enough about you to even see you, let alone want you to have an outcome that I believe will ultimately benefit you (no matter how wrong I may be). You ultimately do not exist, you are a non-being, so what I do is only for the benefit of me and…I guess it sucks to be whatever it is that you are.

Think as I do, or else. Believe as I do, or else. Live as I do, love as I do, hate as I do or else. Or else what? Or else you will end me? Torture me, beat me, violate me? Is this not what intolerant people do every day? This is nothing new, but none of us have to even bother with physical constraint any longer. We can do the torture, beating, and violation digitally and by means of social engineering. We’ve been doing social engineering for decades, and the Southern Strategy is finally bearing its putrid rotten fruit.

I cannot relegate this solely to humans. Sentient creatures are often very cruel in the natural world. The bald eagle nest I have been watching for a couple of years produced two eggs last year, but only one hatched. It was fascinating and endearing to watching the single eaglet grow from a pam sized puff of grey feathers into a full-sized bird with glossy dark feathers and the characteristic golden eagle’s beak. Its white head and tail feathers will be evident in about five years. Watching the adults gently nurture this tiny thing was incredibly touching, but it was not really love, only instinct. But still, I’ll take that.

This year, there were again two eggs, and both hatched. The first one that broke the shell and emerged was a cute, innocent-looking bobble head. The second one hatched about two days later, and it was nearly impossible to tell them apart. Identical tiny grey heads with teeny little wing nubs and barely able to keep their heads raised. The adults fed them with great care, beak to beak, and sheltered them in equal measure.

Within a week, however, the older sibling began displaying a tendency toward dominance over the younger eaglet. There was no shortage of food or care, but the older eaglet would bonk the younger several times a day, entirely unprovoked. Neither sibling was old enough to stand on its own, but a hierarchy was already evident. It was disturbing to watch, but it’s a part of the natural world. Various species have plain evidence of toxic sibling rivalry, and it’s not as though such behavior has been nurtured. It is simply part of who they are.

One day, the aggression from the older eaglet was markedly pronounced, and it attacked the younger one, pulling its neck and pecking at its body unmercifully. I didn’t actually see that in real time, but the comments from those who had seen it was more than enough for me. The younger eaglet was not dead, but I had no doubt the elder sibling would finish its task at a later time. This was nauseating to contemplate, especially since the younger one seemed defenseless and wasn’t aggressive toward the other. Yes, those are human values at play, but I found it so disturbing on so many levels that I don’t watch that nest any longer.

What is most depressing about the baby eagles is where this seems to lead, that cruelty and aggression are hard-wired into the animal kingdom. We cannot escape it. But, as humans, perhaps we can eventually overcome it. I would hope so, but if it is possible it will take hundreds of generations to do that. Until then, we’ll peck each other to death with knives and guns and fists, policies and laws and rules, plus an added layer of illogic and egotism for garnish. The end result will be the same – some of us will kill each other. We are simply not terribly far removed from our base level instincts.

I don’t like that about our species, but I should accept it. It causes me to wonder if species from other worlds carry the same tendencies. Is that part of universal order, or simply Earth order? Maybe it’s something in the water, or the soil, or the air. Is a soul naturally cruel and competitive, drive by ego and selfishness? I certainly hope not. It would be crushing for me to believe that we can never rise above this small-mindedness and the arrogance of false superiority.

I no longer know why the caged bird sings.



Love and Peace and Pride

So, yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything but a business memo. “I received your report, and your application has been reset. You should be able to access it now, but if you can’t just lemme know ’cause I’m your girl.” OK. Fortunately what I need to do to get things to that point is a lot more exciting, and often unappreciated and misunderstood, but I am grateful to know that my brain is not totally fried at this point. I can still think. I can still learn things. I can still get from broken to fixed, or…I know a guy.

There are things roiling in my head these days, coming to a full boil some days, simmering on most. I should leave my brain to science in hope that someone someday can figure out why there has always been such turmoil and tumult in there. My doodness, it’s a mess up in there.

Usually, when I feel the compulsion to write – and for the past few days it has been that, a compulsion, niggling on the inside that just won’t go away, an itch I cannot scratch without expelling the toxin somehow. I suppose it is a toxin, because it does not agree with me and elicits a reaction and involuntary purging. Not always very pleasant, but it’s how I’m wired, it’s how I roll, it is what it is.

For the past couple of years I’ve been watching a live stream of an eagles nest in Juneau AL. It has been fascinating, watching this apex predators treating their young ones so gently, with talons that can rip apart a lion’s hide tenderly holding a fish down for the eaglet to be fed, beak to beak. It’s touching in an odd way, and it has strangely brought me relief of some kind watching that, relief that universal law is not inextricably cruel and harsh and static.

This year, however, things changed. The nest, which has been utilized since around 2004 I believe, was not the primary incubation and brooding site. The eagles decided to use an alternate nest, only a few hundred feet away. Smaller nest, and lower to the ground. Nobody knows how or why they make such decisions, but it’s an eagle thing and I wouldn’t understand.

Anyway, this year there were two eggs, and mama eagle sat dutifully upon them in the rain and the heat and the sun and the darkness. Eagles have an incredible sense of gender partnership, and daddy sat on the nest just as much as mama did. They had some innate sense of timing, so after a couple of hours they would exchange duty stations. One would fly in and the other would fly off, and they alternating bringing food back to the nest.

Finally, an egg hatched. It started with just a little peck on the shell that could barely be seen, then *presto* there was a tiny little spot of grey fluff with two bright eyes. I am told their eyes are not fully open at the moment of hatching, and it takes a couple of weeks for their eyesight to be completely functional. They are just little squeaky bobble-heads, usually hidden under a parent’s huge wings and body mass for a bit longer, but they’re taking in the new world.

A couple of days later, the other egg hatched. It was exciting for those of us who have been watching this nest because last year there was a second egg that never hatched. So, now we have two bobble-headed eaglets, hungry and trying to figure it all out. Mama and daddy knew exactly what to do, out of instinct and because they have both produced several broods and nursed them from hatch to fledge. Nobody has to explain to the what to do or how to handle things, they just know. They don’t read books or watch videos, they don’t try they just do.

Almost from the beginning, the older eaglet seemed to have a bit of an attitude with the younger sibling. I am told it happens often in eagle nests, but it’s unsettling – there was more than enough food, and more than enough shelter for both eaglets but the older and stronger one seemed to take on a maliciously dominant role. As the eaglets got a little stronger and bigger, the older one began “bonking” the younger one, and pushing it away from food. This was not a good sign.

As they got a bit more seasoned, the sibling rivalry became nearly toxic. The younger sibling was bullied by the older, and the battle became malignant. One day, the older bobble-head attacked the younger one, and it was apparently brutal. Fortunately for me, I did not see it live, but when I tuned in everyone was chatting about the horror of what they had seen. I could have replayed the video to see it, but chose not to. Seeing the chatters asking if the younger baby bird was still breathing and moving was all I needed to know.

I have not been back to the live feed. I understand that eagles don’t have emotions about such things, but thinking of the younger eaglet set upon by its older sibling is stuck in my head. The younger one defenseless, mauled in an unprovoked attack that has probably killed it by now, triggered so many horrid feelings of victimization and memory of times when I was defenseless and mauled in unprovoked attacks has been more than I can stand. Those were generally not physical attacks that put my life in danger…or did they.

The eaglets had been named Love, the elder, and Peace the younger. Love killed, or at least tried to kill, Peace. I figure Love has finished the job by now, but for me it doesn’t matter. Yes, I understand that nature is often cruel, but I wonder if that’s Natural Law or the product of something environmental. Nature or nurture, as the old argument inquires. Can peace exist where there is love? I have begun to wonder – love is tumultuous, and often constitutes the motivation for resultant bad behavior. Perhaps we don’t know what love is any more than an eaglet with a brain the size of a hangnail.

When I have thought myself to be in love, there has been happiness and excitement, satisfaction (at least for a brief time), flashes of joy, but most often there has been struggles for balance and efforts to carve a path to somewhere that has not been defined. I don’t remember there being much peace. There were peaceful instances, short periods of time where there was no rancor or work to be done, and we considered that relaxation. Relationships are hard work, and that doesn’t seem terribly peaceful most of the time. It seems like hard work.

Perhaps I should review my core belief on what defines peace. Perhaps I should review my core belief on what defines love, but I’ve always known that I don’t know what that is. I’m just not sure I’ve been able to focus on the feeling of loving when there is so much of that hard work to be done, no time for being in the state of love. I constantly fear that outside of sex, there’s really no reason for the capital R Relationship of fantasy and cultural idiom.

With all these battling emotions around love and peace, I had almost forgotten it’s Pride day here in the place I live. For several years, I have been unimpressed by Pride festivities – been there, done that plus it’s June and it’s hot. The past couple of years it’s been cancelled due to pandemic, and a couple of years before that it was all held in October when it’s cooler. Whatever. Y’all have fun, now. I will be here in the air conditioned crack house that I call my apartment.

Aside from having done more than my share of Pride celebrations over the many years of my life, I have no desire to have the rest of the lesbians in my corner of the world remind me that I am a n old, fat, and generally unattractive person that nobody wants to be intimate with, emotionally or physically. I get it. I am good enough for you to tell your problems and seek solace, but never good enough to date or ask me how the fuck I’m doing. Many years ago a gay male friend of mine called it being the “village priest”. He was in much the same position, and said that is what he felt like – the village priest who people came to for a turn at the confessional, seeking absolution or comradery, but when it came to anything more *poof* not interested. Whatever, y’all. Like I said, y’all have fun now.

Back to love and peace. I am beginning to wonder if either of those can be anything permanent, or even stable. They both appear to be circumstances of the now, and not only cannot or will not be continuous. At this point, nobody has anything that I want so I’m at peace. When I want something – attention or care or what not – I am not at peace. I think I would rather have peace. It’s easier on the heart.

As time goes by…

I am of that age. That age when one begins to question their means, and their ends, and finds the ends didn’t justify anything. The body count is more than I can tally on both hands and both feet, people I will never see again, never feel again, never be again. I will never be whI am of that o I was again. They will never be here again, wherever that might be. And what does that all mean anyway?

I have been accused of living my life alone, by choice. That is probably true. It’s safer that way, or so I thought. There is no safety, there is no privacy, there is no avoiding the pain. Discomfort is inevitable, pain is a constant, suffering is questionable. Some of us suffer. I suffer, but lately I have been willling to amend my definition of suffering. Perhaps it is only life, perhaps it is the human condition, perhaps it is just what it is. Whatever that is.

It is the best of times, it is the worst of times, it is the time to quote long dead sages and philosophers and try making the past fit our present. It doesn’t ever work, but still we recycle the old words, the old ways, and convince ourselves traditions are the only thing we need. We forget that we were not there, that we do not know what they knew in the context of when they knew it. We forget the past is a tool, not a map, and that we are now responsible for composing our own truths, our own words of wisdom, our own masterpieces.

Creativity is the only thing we have that can save us. I believe it is true that we are doomed to repeat the past if we forget it, but it is not true that recreating the context of yesteryear is all that we need. Duplicating the past is never going to move us forward – it can’t. We are different people every minute, every hour, every day and trying to bring back the past is simply ludicrous. If there is a universal law, it’s that you can’t relive what you have already lived.

As I am unsnarling the knots and tangles of my own past, I have to be honest – I don’t want to relive those years, don’t want to repeat that pain, don’t want to be that person again. I want to cherry-pick all of it, plucking the sweet fruit of a minute in 1971, a few seconds in 1978, a glance from 1982…a good moment in 1988. But I know that’s not possible. I cannot revisit a static blip on the radar field of memory – I have to embrace it all, the good and the bad and the painful and the inexplicable. The past is not a photograph, or even a video that is unchanging, simply a record of a snippet of time. To be even more honest, I’m not willing to do that. I only want what I want, and having that is an impossibility in any timeline.

If anything, that is the human condition – wanting what we cannot have, having what we do not understand. I understand very little of it, very little of anything. Understanding is highly overrated, it seems. If I cannot understand where I came from, why I came, how all of this really works then I certainly cannot understand why I suffer and why bad things happen to good people and why people die. The best I can hope for is acceptance of the reality of those circumstances, that I will never fully understand any of this and that I don’t really need to understand. Understanding only placates the mind, it does not heal the heart.

Perhaps our hearts are the enduring scars of the rift that created us all, the force that separated all things once bound together by some other force. Perhaps it was the binding force itself that simply imploded, became self-consumptive and could not continue any other way. Stars are like that – they eventually exhaust their energy source and begin to feed on themselves until they implode. Some of them implode so violently they reduce billions of tons of mass into a single point in the fabric of the universe, and we know them as black holes. But they persist and continue to affect the rest of planar existence. We speak of them as dead stars, but they are never dead. They simply exist in different form. And we do not understand.

I am of that age, the age that has given up on understanding many things. The age that has seen things I did not want to see, experienced things I didn’t want to experience. Lost things I did not want to lose, been hurt in ways I never wanted to feel. I am of the age where nothing intentional is simple, where the past is no harbinger of the future because everything around me is a variable. I am of that age where there is less in front of me than behind me, where I no longer believe that certainty is a comfort, where my own company has finally become more enjoyable than superficial gatherings of large numbers of people. In short, I no longer have time for wasting time.

Grief is a necessary thing when there is loss, loss of a loved one, loss of oneself, loss of circumstances or material possessions. Grief is painful, pointed toward a known point in one’s reality. It has no time frame, but it’s always oriented toward the point of loss. Suffering, I think, may be more the experience of general dissatisfaction, of constantly hoping for different circumstances, of never-ending yearning for some cessation of the emptiness. Hoping, always hoping. If there is an end to hope I suppose that would be the cessation of misery, of despair, of hopelessness. Neither of those, however, constitutes happiness or satisfaction, so I’m not sure what to make of that except that it’s not simple. Happiness is not anti-hope, but it is unto itself an equally and opposite thing to hopelessness.

Why does this even matter? I don’t know. I suppose I am just of that age where these are the conundrums that plague me in the moments before I fall asleep. These are thoughts whizzing along the paths of my neural network, such as it is, keeping me awake and making my limbs twitch. To sleep, and perchance to dream. I no longer dream of slings and arrows but guns and bombs and totally outrageous fortune and happy moments that exist encapsulated in the folds of my brain. This is life, such as it is, same as it ever was. What a beautiful choice.

You say goodbye, and I say hello

Posted earlier on Facebook…

I am heavy with grief and impending loss and incalculable sadness. My cousin texted me earlier today, saying that she has put my aunt – my mother’s sister – into home hospice care. I have been thinking a lot about her lately, and had a feeling that she was declining. My mother was the elder sister (a circumstance she never let anyone forget), five years older than my aunt. This is right on schedule for how womenfolk on the maternal side check out.

I was always fond of my aunt. She was fun, and not as mean as my mother. I would love to know what happened between them all those years ago that would cause them to separate so drastically later in life. As my mother descended into dementia, my aunt was beginning to lose her grasp bit by bit as well, and it seemed they had both forgotten they were sisters. But when the end came from my mother, my aunt had a lot of trouble seeing her in hospice, and she wouldn’t go up to view the body at the funeral. I noticed it, even while on auto-pilot on that incredible day. My aunt was on auto-pilot just as I was.

The last time I saw my aunt, my cousin had tried to prepare me for the possibility that she wouldn’t know me. But she did, and she opened her arms wide and smiled so brightly. It was like old times, before the world turned upside down for me. I told her that I remembered her making lasagna from scratch with me, and taking me to see Rumpelstiltskin on stage when I was little. It was my first dress-up in big girl clothes outing – complete with black patent leather shoes and white gloves. I loved her so much.

I was thinking earlier that maybe dementia means that our spirits are beginning to vibrate at a higher level than our bodies, and there is no need for mental clarity. It’s a way for us to let go, I suppose – we spend most of our lives holding on very tightly to everything, even ourselves. Ah, well – it’s the human condition.

When my cousin texted, I responded with some words that included “damn this aging process, and damn this dementia”. I have been obsessed lately with the notion that I am starting down that path, but what is there to do? It is what it is. And I am what I am…full stop.

Whenever she leaves here, my aunt will signify the end of my childhood, the last person on this earth who knew me from the beginning. The person who saved my life a few years ago when I asked her why my father had stayed in that marriage for so long, and her level-eyed response: that it was because of me. That changed my life, and healed so much of what has ailed me for so long. I will never forget that moment. It took less than 10 seconds to say those words, but a lifetime of hurt was reframed, reformatted, reoriented.

I wish my aunt well on this leg of her journey. It feels sadly familiar, and I hate that, but it’s not my choice to make. I hope that she doesn’t suffer, hope that she is at peace. Godspeed, Auntie. I hope you know how much you meant to me and still do.