May You Live In Interesting Times

We certainly picked a doozy of a time to be alive, didn’t we? From the Cold War through assassinations through foreign wars through riots right through escalating violence on up to today, these certainly are interesting times. Of course, there have been some great things, too, but after getting through the past nine months with all the political unrest, the environmental disasters, and last Sunday’s horrific event in Las Vegas, I’m finding it extremely difficult to dredge those up. I don’t usually address these things here because it seems to make some people uncomfortable enough to chide me and even boot me from their life. Instead, I take my angst to Twitter where it belongs. But I’m just so damned angry. And that’s what I really want to talk about.

Look, I’m not an angry person. Never have been. Maybe it’s because I’m a Libra, but I tend to see the pony beneath every crap pile. I can’t seem to do that right now, and what’s tearing me up is that I’m not clear on anger. There’s just so many angry people making a lot of noise and I don’t really want to add to that, but damn! I’m angry!

There comes a time when I think we have to be angry, despite the conflicting messages we’re told: “Stop being angry” and “It’s okay to be angry.” Add that to the line my mother planted in my brain, “Anger is a sin,” and I’m pretty confused and seeking clarity. As I said, I don’t want to add to the noise, but maybe I do, and maybe I should. Maybe more noise is what it’s going to take to change things. Is there a way to process this anger and grief without being unkind, without name-calling and turning ugly? I don’t know. I wish I had a priest, or a guru, or something. I’d love to ask someone what I’m supposed to be feeling.

Monday was a hell day extraordinaire. I hadn’t slept all night because I was up following the news about Las Vegas. I couldn’t sleep, actually, because of the heavy hammer of shock and grief I know we all felt. Before that, it was Trump’s debacle in Puerto Rico. Then the shooting happened. Lynette had a chemo treatment that day—the first of 12 with her new drug—and we didn’t know what her reaction would be. It wasn’t good and, as usual, I felt helpless to make her feel better, that I couldn’t take it for her. And then came the news of Tom Petty’s heart attack and approaching death. So there I was at the hospital, sleepless, worried about Nettl, in shock over Vegas, grieving the passing of one of my favorite musical artists, and feeling absolutely powerless in every facet of life. Later that night the anger rose to the top and I spent all night voicing it in Twitter, adding to the noise. And once again I was forced to face down my conflicting feelings about it. I did a lot of Googling, trying to learn how other people handle anger, and the words of the amazing Maya Angelou helped me.

 

I think there comes a time when we can’t afford to be uninformed and uninvolved. There comes a time when we have to ask ourselves how we can remain inside peaking out through the half-drawn blinds of our comfort zone. Not all of us are first responders, caregivers, soldiers. Not all of us are heroes, but all of us are human beings who can care, who must care.

I hope you find clarity and peace, if you’re struggling. My kindest affections and most loving thoughts to you all, and to everyone affected by these events.

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This & That

This:

Around Bookends Cottage 2017 has started out with naught but a yawn. Not a yawn of boredom, mind you, but a yawn of exhaustion. I keep looking over at the Christmas tree, the lights off and the gifts all gone, and I know I have to take it down, but I just can’t seem to find the energy to do it. It’s always such a joy to put up every year, the entire family gets into the act, friends come over, food is nibbled and drinks are drunk, but where is everybody when it’s time to take it all down and put it away? I always end up doing it alone, which is why I didn’t want to go all out this year, with decorations in every room of the house. It’s too much for me to take apart when I’m worn out from the holiday season. We have about a gazillion tree ornaments and all those new strands of lights we had to add and that need to be pulled off. And then there’s all of the outdoor lights, wreaths, ladder-climbing and et cetera. Oof. I’m tired just thinking about it…

That:

I’ve been trying to get back into my project of finishing Book Two (With A Bullet) and sending it off to print. In reality, this should take me only about two weeks, but all of my creative motivation has disappeared. Music, too is on my list, but that’s really pushing it. At my age, singing is an athletic event and I have to be in peak condition to do it well enough for a recording. And then there’s the setting up and tearing down…

This:

I’m well aware of the fact that it’s going to take the entire month of January to get back to where I was, engery-wise, last October. Damn you, Hashimoto’s, you soul-sucking bastard. One of the things I can do now that I’m on Medicare is make an appointment with an endocrinologist, but going to a new doctor is always difficult for me. Because we live in a cherry red state, and because the only endo in this town who takes Medicare is a born-again who touts her religious beliefs on her website, and because I’m married to a woman, I’m more than a little hesitant to go see her. I’m absolutely worn out from dodging the bigotry bullets in the Bible Belt. Oklahoma is just southern enough that these doctors are sugary sweet to your face, calling you darlin’ and hon, and saying “Well, blay-ess yer hart” with a big smile on their face while unsuccessfully hiding the aversion they feel toward you. Sure, I get the same medical attention as anyone else, but navigating all that crap is psychologically and psychically harder than I can describe. I’ve lived in this state for nearly 20 years. You’d think I’d be used to the way their eyes glaze over when I have to explain that my spouse isn’t a man. And it happens in all situations here, from introductions at social events to buying an anniversary present from a helpful shop clerk. And since the election the socio-political ice has gotten a bit thinner around here anyway. I’m not sure if I want to get out and try to walk on it just yet. Not with the 20th looming on the near horizon…

That:

On a completely different subject, I came into 2017 wanting to give this blog a new look, but after spending an entire night looking for a new theme, I gave that up. WordPress has a gazillion themes to choose from, but only a handful of those are designed for actual blogging. Most of them are for businesses, services and products, and photography. And even those they say are for blogging are dominated by featured slides, huge pictures of emo girls sitting or standing forlornly with pigeon toed feet, extreme closeups of glamour dolls or of twenty-something hipster dudes looking for all the world like they love their commute to their cubicle every morning. And there’s no place to write any actual content anymore. I suppose the blogging craze is over and I should really just give it up, but after 17 years that’s not easy to do. Hell, I don’t even know if anyone even reads these entries. Maybe I’m just wasting the two or three hours it takes me to put one together and post it. But that’s another whole issue…

This:

Nettl returned from her New Year’s New York City excursion bearing some amazing gifts. One was a large tin of authentic Hungarian paprika that she bought at a shop in Grand Central Terminal. To celebrate this delectable spice I made a pot of Viennese Goulasch last night, and I’ve made a pledge never to buy the domestic crap ever again. There’s just no comparison. It’s kind of like refusing to use margarine after tasting sweet cream, unsalted butter. I don’t care if it costs more. If I can’t afford it, I simply won’t make anything that requires it…

That:

Back to Book Two. One of the reasons I never seem to finish this book is that things keep coming up that need to be added to the story. Sitting on it for so long as brought up a lot of things that need to be addressed where my characters are concerned. Katy is only now beginning to flesh herself out so that I can understand what truly motivates her. I don’t know how I have avoided her inner workings for so long, but she’s coming along and I enjoy writing about her now. This is really important, too, because it leads me into Book Three more seamlessly and effortlessly. Being these people’s creator, shrink, and biographer isn’t easy, but it eventually is fun…

And with that (pun intended) I shall leave you until the next time. This Christmas tree has been giving me the stink eye for three days and I really need to quite literally put it in its place.

Have a wonderful week!

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The Search For a Noiseless Peace

Seeking Peace

I’m increasingly spending less time online these days. I’ve all but abandoned Twitter due to the vitriol that’s spewed in all directions there and I find myself signing out of Facebook within a few minutes of logging in due to the debates and arguments in my feed. Everyone’s on edge right now. Everyone seems to be looking for a hurt, or an offense, or a reason to spar with words and ideas and it’s too easy for me to get rattled by the noise. I know people are just trying to make sense of recent turns of events, but I’m already worn out and must choose not to pay attention for my health’s sake. Don’t talk to me about politics anymore. See that glassy look that just washed across my eyes? It’s a clue that I’ve already tuned you out. And if I don’t “like” your post or comment in Facebook, it’s a fairly good indication that I’m not paying attention.

I’m a dreamer. I dream not only when I’m asleep, but also when I’m awake. Every night for the past week or two my sleeping dreams have turned into nightmares. Nightmares of being pursued by angry mobs, of being imprisoned by Nazis, of being tortured, and even standing in line waiting to be executed. Fortunately, my years of experience with lucid dreaming helps me to shake myself awake, panting in a cold sweat as I try to lower my heart rate. The problem is, by being part of a group targeted by America’s new and growing regime, I feel as if I’m waking from one nightmare only to enter another. The fact that I live in a solidly red state and that, so far, Trump has appointed only racists, homophobes, and KKK sympathizers to his upcoming cabinet just doesn’t help.

I don’t live in the woods, or on a mountain, or by the ocean. I live on a fairly noisy corner in the downtown area of a small city. I don’t even have a back yard with any privacy. Next door lives a family with three little girls who employ  screaming as their only means of expressing any given emotion, and adults who yell at the top of their voices and repeatedly honk car horns in their driveway in the mornings before the sun is up. The corner streets on two sides of our house are riddled with traffic and boom car stereos, and the avenue is a major route used by every vehicle that has a siren.

There’s nowhere I can go to be alone with nature when I need to clear my head or simply get away from the noise (I have no car), and now, even my favorite online escapes have turned on me. I increasingly find myself watching historical documentaries in YouTube (I love history because it reminds me that human beings have been through worse and we always seem to land on our feet) and listening to my folk music channel on Pandora. Spending most of my life in California, I used to go to the beach when things got too heavy. I’d hunt for faery glass, I’d read, write in my journal, or just lay quietly listening to the rhythmic constancy of the surf. How I miss that now! My mind is scattered, my nails bitten, my nervous system twitching, and my tinnitus is so loud, the only way I can escape it is to hide away in music through earbuds. It’s the only escape I have left. Of course, noise employed to cancel noise is still noise.

“Our world is becoming more busy and noisy.
We are pushing silence out of our lives at a rate that suggests
a fear of what it has to say to us about ourselves.”
John O’Donohue

I’m well aware of the importance of letting the world’s sounds be what they are. The attainment of inner peace relies more on the acceptance of the noise of the world than it does on trying to control it, but now my inner peace has been shaken. Will my Medicare and Social Security—into which I paid since I was 16—be taken away? Will our landlord evict us for being a married female couple? Will my spouse lose her job due to this? Will I be a victim of a hate crime? The answer to these is most likely no, but the seeds have been planted and it’s hard to pull them up by the roots when every place I’ve enjoyed on the web now works so hard to replant them. Yes, I’m given to worry and the older I get, the harder this is to control. I’m working on it. I write, I read, I listen to healing music, I avoid the debates and arguments. I do what I can.

And the daydream of living in the country again is never far away.

 

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