Some tears for the Ocean

I’ve never cried so hard as that day in 2007 when James drove his moving truck down the street.

He was moving from Utah to live with his office assistant/girlfriend and her son 2000 miles away just a few weeks after we’d told the girls we were divorcing.  A divorce which blindsided the girls and I; I didn’t even get a lawyer.  James and Sarah probably began their relationship during summer 2006 when we dug out our basement and I unknowingly insisted he stay with Sarah and her husband Ryan in Blacksburg, Virginia (location of the main office) rather than come home to the unpleasantness of our Utah bungalow.  “Just stay with Sarah and Ryan; its so gross here.”  Naturally, he didn’t reveal she and Ryan had separated.

But on that day he moved, James’ dad was here from Virginia, trying to right the error of James moving.  I said right there in front of Bob, “James, don’t move out there to her and come visit your girls; stay here and go visit her.”   I needed him here and so did the girls.   But he wasn’t listening, didn’t want to; Bob and I talking to him was like trying to reason with a sinking ship.

That very day, Livy lost her first tooth in a bowl of popcorn.   It landed in the large steel bowl then sunk to the bottom and Grandpa Bob and the girls and I searched for it but hanging out down there like a groupie with the whitish crumbs of popcorn, we could barely tell the difference between food and tooth.  But we finally did, celebrating then the victory of finding a lost treasure, in one of those moments that stands there like a trophy.  A stop-action moment More than the sum of its individual parts.

And when he and Grandpa drove off in James’ UHaul, I wasn’t ready.  I didn’t want to see what was going to happen.  Wanted to cover my eyes like in a scary movie, so that my brain didn’t invite in through my eyes what I didn’t want to become part of me.  Both girls chased the truck down the street.  Down Garfield Avenue, where they’d grown up.  Where we’d gotten our first puppy.  Where Livy’d come Home from the hospital, where they’d played with the neighbor kids, and started school.  Where they’d donned costumes in the cold of Utah Autumn to go get the big candy bars from Chuck and Dave’s house next door; where they’d bathed in the safety of familial surety.  And James noticed them running, and slowed his truck and pulled over at the end of our street—next to the orange house he’d eventually move into after the break up with Sarah—and got out of the drivers side to walk around the back of the truck to where Julia and Livy waited like angels on the sidewalk.

And as I was watching this play out from the slight distance of looking outside of myself and my children, there was this moment like at the end of a movie.   Where written into the story is a single epiphanic scene that makes everything pivot to where suddenly something in a character clicks.  To where inside James something about his tender dad looking for Livys tooth has shifted him to the core of his being and he “UNDERSTANDS” and gets out of the truck to hug his girls and decides he doesn’t want to ever stop.   

I’m watching this scene of my own family from my own porch, knowing that the arc of this story would then be to forgive him this fucking shitshow of lying/ dissociation if only he would hug his daughters and not get back in that truck and drive off.  He’d walk back to where I am and tell me he’s not moving, he can’t do that to them, he’ll live here, and fly back and forth to see Sarah.  I saw it all in a flash of “please, god.  Please.” Because that’s what “not being ready” does to you.  It makes you stand on your porch and, in Grief and desperation, make deals like a grifter.

But he didn’t.   James hugged them both quickly then walked back around the truck, got in and drove off.

And that night I cried with the force of a heartbreak I can’t describe, as if something in my body was already living the sense of rejection my girls would feel, and the way they’d blame themselves.  As if I could feel my 9 and 6 year old babies archetypal pain and simultaneously their potential idolization of Sarah—younger, thinner; flashy, uncomplicated, the unburdened “winner”.   

I Could feel that I’d have to let my young, vulnerable babies integrate into the lives of people who didn’t care about hurting them.   

I was living inside the normalization of cruelty.  And rolling myself into the fetal position on my bed that night, I convulsed from the grief and the unrecoverable knowledge that my most beloved connection to both this earth and my own soul might never be whole again.  And that maybe neither would I.

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[Sometimes I don’t know why I write things.  Writing is therapeutic but I don’t reside with this specific grief anymore and I’ve got other fires to put out.   

But the other day, the six year old girl who lost her tooth the day her dad left sent me the writings attached to this post.   A heart-centered, emotional child from the beginning there have been many moments where I did not think it would be possible for her to remain on this planet.  Yet she now writes with a voice that is both herself and her heartache.  She writes with a voice that is both the ethereal and also the days she wanted to die.

So when I say I don’t know why I write, I think maybe it’s because I’m standing on my porch looking down the street, and not yet understanding that the grief I felt inside and consumed by was actually love patiently waiting for this very day]

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I’ve said goodbye to many things in my lifetime; many versions of myself and what I thought I needed to be and have in order to feel happy.

And of course I never wanted that day he moved to happen.   For many years, I felt stuck with memories and reverberations of it to where I even begged God to make the pain go away.  For the foes were real:  How can I bring up my girls to be caring and whole in a world where I’m normalizing cruelty?   In a world in which the immediate pain of rejection is their family?  Because events scar us, and we never feel healed.   That isn’t exaggeration; just look around.

But waiting on the porch with me that day was the wisdom of a universe.  A universe telling me that love won’t always look like a dad doing the right thing; sometimes love will look like a grandpa looking for a lost tooth or two sisters running after a truck together.  It’ll look like a mom in the fetal position and—as years pass—like an older sister letting her sleepless, anxious younger one sleep in her bed and like that same younger sister writing words that make their mom weep.

Because on that day I didn’t know that the stronger and most-loving version of our selves is a stranger until that’s who’s comforting us into sleep.  For the truth of all of this—of humanity; of the deep reckonings that emanate—is that we actually have no idea how fucking beautiful we even are until we’ve had to fight for one another.

 

And yes, there was still pain after that day, and will be again.  The world will pose as both farce and cruelty and people will not be what we want them to be.  But on that day, the universe told me that “ready” isn’t a point in time, it’s a state of being.  For things are not linear when placed inside the heart, and from agony comes caring to where we can’t truly see one without the other.  Because in the end, our tears baptize us into the love we are and have, and inside the heart, what looks like a sinking ship is merely one arc in a story about the ocean. 

Rewire

Woke up singing Morning Dew by the Grateful Dead. First minute of it can be beautiful with an aura of tangible bittersweetness reflecting the subject matter of the lyrics, post-nuclear winter. For those not privy to this history, America’s nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union meant nuclear annihilation was on the table (google “mutually-assured destruction” for more heartwarming Americana; we were told to crouch under our classroom desk which —for sure—was an effort to trick us into not panicking during our last moments). I once watched a documentary that told of Jerry Garcia crying softly at a concert while performing Morning Dew; the subject of the song for him being the cliff that humanity always pushes itself to. War, power, greed, distraction, denial, ego: how does humanity not make different choices at some point? Like THAT is the true grief. The circular nature of the human condition, where we mindlessly end up back to some version of square one. I heard this research/quote one time on NPR: “The desire to avoid losses is wired more strongly into our brain than the desire to achieve gains” Which offers one potential explanation of why we keep repeating the same patterns.

And here I’m 52 and alive during the crashing of national-and-planetary ship onto jagged rocks. Where we’re all about to embrace (once again) the permanence of impermanence for our hardwiring and I guess my space right now is that whatever happens I want to be different now because of it. We pulled ourselves out of things before and we shall again but maybe if enough of us cry softly onstage we can forever change the former-inevitability of the cliff needing to come so close.

I’m currently trying to pull together a book I don’t intend to ever publish at another IG account The creative endeavor no one else will see is solely dedicated to stopping the machine and jump starting the rewire. I might get sick of it after a month in which case I’ve changed and that’s equally as good.

If you get in a shit way the next few months, message “SOS”‬ and I’ll send you the 10th pic/video I’ve got in my “favorites” folder along with a short caption/story about the selection. No questions asked. No response needed.

By way of example, the pic of Ginger and I here is my current 10th. The caption on that could read: “I look kind of old in this, and it makes me squeamish when dogs lick my face, plus no one would ever even know if this was my actual 10th photo so I could just send another one BUT to hardwire my brain for a different experience for all means I’ve got to walk the walk and be real, and anyways formerly-abused Ginger was brought from extreme trauma response to being an absolute diva two days into our first sit and if she can rewire her brain like that then so can the rest of us and that is a picture worth sharing.”

[cries softly onstage]

Bug book #1

This is the book I made for Julia’s birthday in May (2020) about her dog, Lady, who we often call Bug; Julia adopted Bug from Rescue Rovers in March of 2019.
 
I don’t think I could ever thank @rescuerovers enough for bringing this little girl in from the harsh unsafety of the streets (of New Mexico) last year. I wouldn’t even know how to say it, because the words would fail to complete the idea. She’s just a new and beautiful world.
 
Julia’s beau gave us all the gift of getting Lady’s DNA done so we’d know more about her breed. We knew this: she seemed to definitely have herder blood in there but was also very chatty—we thought maybe husky or hound?—and was VERY expressive, using her face, paws and interactions very intentionally to this purpose. Plus she was smart, attentive/adaptive, and fantastic with cats.
 
Fast forward to where we get the results and realize that Lady is, in percentages:
 
American bulldog 20
Australian cattle dog 18.4
Rottweiler 13
German Shepherd 11
Husky 9.3
Chow chow 8.5
America Staffordshire Terrier 6.7
Supermutt 12.8
 
Yes. Every “aggressive” breed you can think of packed into a salami-stealing, cat-loving, family-focused snuggler that tips the balance every single day (for many people) into a better life.
 
FYI, I Used Walgreen‘s platform to make this and I would highly recommend it; It’s so easy to use. I’ve written another Bug book but I’ve got 45,000 pics on my phone so am perpetually lost when I go to find anything, to include appropriate Bug opps.
 
 

Non-optimal viscosity

Twelve years ago, I caught a cold that wouldn’t go away. The runny nose left me dehydrated and exhausted and was accompanied by sneezes so powerful my eyes would explode in volcanos of mascara’ed saltiness sending twin rivers of black gook oozing down my face.

“Are you okay, Miss Amy?” the concerned kindergarten students I worked with would ask, confusing (perhaps) my red, runny eyes and smeared makeup for the tears of emotions. And I would pat their arm, and tell them, “Yes; I’m alright,” even as we both knew I must be lying because all they had to do was look at me.

Things obv weren’t alright.

Then it got worse.

The congestion—in what I initially thought was it’s big finish—clogged up my sinuses to the point that I became unable to hear their 5 and 6 year old voices. They would ask me for help with their math or sounding out a word, and I’d have to turn their head to face me so I could read their lips as they repeated their question. The snot had made me hearing-impaired. My cold was a disability.

One week later, I saw a doctor who was so professional she managed to leave the “omfg you dipshit” off of “You don’t have a cold; you have allergies,” and—within two weeks—I’d beaten back the mucous invasion courtesy of Big Pharma.

For some weird reason, these allergies had gestated for 40 years–never once making an appearance—but now every year hence arrive with a ground swell requiring tsunami sirens.

***********

My mom lived with year-round allergy symptoms courtesy of an exceptionally sensitive nose.

She always had a tissue with her—always; usually near her wrist tucked up inside her sleeve —and in typical humor, classified these tissues according to their level of degradation.

Stage 1: new

Stage 2: used once; no rips, barely crumpled

Stage 3: used more than once; ripped, starting to shred

Stage 4: intact only because of the glue-like properties of snot

Her tissues would often engage my gag reflex, and watching her blow her nose into a Stage 4 was like looking into the shit-abyss of a Port-O-John.

Inevitably, Mom’s intimate experience with allergies led to a desensitization about the etiquette of mucous management, to the point where her public persona often involved honking into her tissue using an uncompromising dual-alternating-nostrils-at-full-force technique akin to trumpeting the arrival of the snot queen. The volume involved in this expulsion indicated base tones of an underlying “fuck this fucking fucking shit” and when she’d reach into her sleeve to pull out a Kleenex, I would restrain the impulse to walk off—loyal as I was—while viscous nasal belongings were gathered up into a decaying tissue right across the table from me at Taco Bell.

**************

11/3/2020. They’re back. I haven’t had allergies for several years—don’t know why they’re even back in November of all months—but the volcanoes, mascara rivers, itchy nose, clear snot (eyes that suddenly burst open with tears, along with the continuous urge to sneeze—while not actually sneezing, requiring me to blow my noise just to have some sense of a climax) are all back. How tf can I board the Trump Train looking like this? I can’t. I just can’t. I’m very devastated.

And today is Election Day. And I don’t know who needs to hear this but you’re stronger than you believe and are much much more than the sum of “all this”. Our brains are masterful creators—seamlessly making stories both real and not—but our body/breath can medicate it when it gets too frantic. Thoughts and worries aren’t themselves real; thoughts/worries are “over there” rather than “here,” we just convince ourselves otherwise. I once read that if the sun were to explode none of us would even know for 8 whole minutes because that’s how long it takes for the sun’s light to reach us on the surface of our planet. We’d go on living our lives not knowing anything had happened since everything we see in front of us right this second is actually via the light from the past sun. Over there vs here.

I had a dream about my mom last night. I never dream about my mom but this was something I was supposed to remember and write down. In the dream, I’d been doing some errand and Just finished and came into a large kind of crowded room, making a beeline for my mom, believing she’d be happy to see me. But she wasn’t. She was angry at me, cold—wouldn’t look at or speak to me—and in the dream I knew that there wasn’t any reason for it except for her own pain and trauma yet I knew it was bullshit for me not to say “this is bullshit.” So I spoke up really loudly to this crowd of people I didn’t know and made a speech thanking them for being the America I needed to rise above such redirected aggression and when I finished everyone clapped, some people clapping loudly for a long time.

Anyways, take care, whatever the day/week brings make sure to breathe yourself back to life and thank you for being the America I needed.

(Artistic representation of misery and allergies courtesy of my recent accidental purchase of Prisma).

White Noise

This morning I felt it. As I sometimes do. I woke up early before the world to see the quiet, and the cool stillness.  Nature–the Great Mother–was baring herself to the unconditional acceptance of the sky and falling back into the wonder of itself. And I paused on my front porch while my soul connected to the place of it’s true home, devoid of the white noise of people and air conditioners and cars and flurry and chaos.  And as the sun rested in self-assured imminence behind mountains which stand guard like new parents, felt called into remembrance, that at every turn, nature—The Earth—will impassively stand in non-judgment of our human drama and flaws until we either save ourselves or perish.

And the indifference of it didn’t make me feel small; it made me feel reverent.

Continue reading “White Noise”

“Cat”

 

“I’m not what you think I am. You are what you think I am.”—Unknown.

I’ve been blessed and cursed with an overactive, curious mind, swaying from science towards philosophy then beyond to where Rumi lays in that grass and the world is too full to talk about, and always I come back to “I don’t really know.”

Because it’s the only place I’m truly comfortable.

The kitty above—one I sit for, and love—is part of the social experiment known as “humanity,” an experiment in which everything has been labeled—“cat”, “dog”, “love” etc.—by the subjects of the experiment themselves in a process of proving what exactly the experiment is even while we’re in the middle of living it. Meanwhile, 90% of the known universe is matter (“dark matter”; they posit now it’s a “fluid” of negative mass to where if we pushed on it, it would move towards us) that we can’t even experience with senses or instruments, and in the last 100 years, philosophy became science and just last month, an actual visible mini-moon was discovered that had been in earth’s orbit for three years completely undetected.

And for someone not prone to taking herself seriously anyways, to walk around like the big human expert on what anything is feels ridiculous and counterproductive.

For when even the most basic physical properties are 90% unknown, tossing labels and theories like darts are akin to hitting a “target” we can’t aim for or see and only designate as such after it exposes itself.

If humanity was the one that labeled this experiment, and there’s no objective template or guide outside of ourselves then “I don’t know” shouldn’t be shameful or fearful; it should be natural and lovely. Like accepting the complexity of the universe isn’t ours to maintain, rather it’s ours to experience as the joy of a connection. Where “I don’t know” comes to mean we breathe in a continuously-evolving state of unknowingness, and moments of leaning down to a “cat” becomes “Olivia” looking into our eyes with what looks like magic, and maybe even could be.

 

Ghosting



I don’t know about anybody else but my feelings/senses are telling me that the world is not in a normal place.

The word that keeps coming to me over and over is “ghosting,” something I first heard in an episode of Doctor Who in which someone dies but keeps speaking as if she’s alive, which River Song called ghosting. In other words, the dead person was living out the last moments of her former reality and bleeding/blending it with the one she was then joining.

And that’s what I feel like the world is doing right now. It’s ghosting. We’re living inside our own extinction event wherein some of us are marching along like everything is normal (and things will be ever so cool when our political party is back in power) even while the times we are currently living in are the moments where we’re being picked up by our parents for the last time.

And I don’t know what exactly to say about it; how to encapsulate the change in words or how to incorporate it into my existence. For its like living in a world where everyone is saying “I can’t see. Where am I?” and no one knows the answer to the continuing grief of a transforming life.

Yet there are beautiful things that leave us without us even realizing it because at the same time they’re leaving, we were growing into something else equally while we were losing it.

Because one day we put our beloved child down and never picked them up again but in so doing got to see them toddle over to their dog, pat her on the head and say “good girl”.; we got to see them in their act of becoming, looking back at us for reassurance, walking across their life so as to one day hold us inside the wisdom of their arms. And in my brief time at the helm of intermittent clarity, I’ve been able to see that the ashes of anything hold the energy to be the fertilizer of growth and so while it’s metaphorically true that this might be the stage after which our parents won’t ever pick us up again—that that’s where the world is—cycling through all the ghostings of time it can also be true that from these ashes simultaneously rests the opportunity for us to be the parents of a new world. Wherein from ghosting, we evolve into one day rising into a life that finds us tucked inside the peace of our most sentient joy.

Buds

3:20 p.m.: I was just carded at Harmons in the self check out while buying two bottles of black cherry Redd’s, and when I looked at her all elated for wanting me to produce my ID—asking, “are you required to ask people for IDs, or Did you just feel you had to in this specific case?” and then fangirling at her response—I didn’t even worry she might think I was insane because that’s just where we are in America.

Of course I’m insane. This nation is going to batshit and I’m a fucking patriot.

6:06 p.m.: And later, when the high of getting carded wears off and it’s just me and the chill of a bare-faced reality, I’ll remember that today it was still light at 5:45 p.m., that the day began with seeing new buds on the trees, Mr. Baby doing his thang, and dame Miss Hiss hoarding the good bed while the Staff Cats she’s forced to share the residence with scurried around like maggots (her words).

For its soothing to remember that humans are flawed, vain, shortsighted, and filled with nationalized ego (at the expense of our planet) but that Mother Earth is powerful and giving and those of us who love her don’t have to worry for she’ll persevere even if buds now come in early February.

And to Love something this much means to join them on the path to their healing, willingly following into unknown realms, where you help her keep her promises to herself while wordlessly making our uncertain way together into the silence of sunsets so beautiful you can’t help but cry.

In Flight

Today, I woke at 5:24 a.m. to meditate.

I’ve been meditating for 30 years—when I feel called to do so—and this morning I sat on my bed in the predawn—legs crossed, earplugs in—and made an event out of breathing.

The last few weeks of 2019 into 2020 have been wild. Sometimes I think events ignite the tinder within you—the personalized points of insecurity; the places of archetypal inner gnawing—until you find yourself balancing upon a blade amid the painful (yet predictable) eruptions. And of course stuff happens that call to those feelings, usually again and again as if Time is force feeding the bitter roots of a fallow bed, making us mindlessly flee. Racing thoughts and other ineffectuals attempting to salve wounds best left to courage and an eternity of breath.

And typically in the random selection of thoughts/visions (often maddeningly offered) that meet me in meditation is the sense of the blade—the events, the eruptions, the causes of my purposeful endeavor at finding calm. But not this morning.

This morning in my minds eye was a bird which right in front of my face, hovered in the delight of its capabilities before jetting away, wings dramatically tilting as if it was showing off. And I giggled.

The sun was due to come up in Salt Lake City at 7:52 a.m. so at 7:30, I made tea and parked myself in the chair overlooking our backyard bird feeder. The first bird appeared at 8:06—its friends arriving soon after—and as my cat offered her little cackle (a mix of outrage and derangement), I realized that the funny thing about events making eruptions is that the same themes will occur again and again, year upon year—shaking our combustibles—but then one day, one year—somehow—we’ll have changed. As if the tinder had actually been tiptoeing around flipping lights on an, patiently waiting for the sun to rise within ourselves. And Time—compelling us to giggle—rose each day solely with the goal to come meet its better self.

And so as the birds stayed aloft—daring gravity to protest— reverberations of self replayed in muscles that just a short time before had giggled from joy, and in the simplicity of quiet, I watched animals not bound to earth flirt with the air as if in deference to a shift in perception. (1/5/20)

Muh Earl

Some pics belie the tenderness behind them. Because when I met introverted Earl–whose history included the passing of his former owner, the relatives for whom did not find new homes for his cats and Earl was put on the street–his eyes seemed almost too sad to overcome the emotional hesitation.
 
And as a pet sitter, everything is always temporary and short-term. For a few days, I come in, feed, stay for a bit, leave and don’t see them sometimes for a long while between their families trips. And because of this, good connections with sensitive animals who’ve experienced abandonment are challenging to manifest. Since animals become world-weary just like humans, and know better than to get attached. For although circumstances change, once we experience such a loss as Earl had the fear usually settles into even our muscles, so Earl had made his whole body part of keeping distance, revealing his skepticism and hurt as he’d let the other house cats crowd before walking off as if giving up.
 
But I understood Earl. Knew his grief. And in the justified sadness of a sweet cat someone shooed outside as if they were sweeping the floor, I was called to act. So I made time to find him each visit, to sit with him, to specifically bring him into the circle of my attention (even with his extroverted sibs crowding around) because I wanted him to know he was important to me. Wanted to make an event out of “Earl”. Came into the house hollering the refrain “Where’s muh Earl?” so that he knew right away I hadn’t forgotten between trips that he was that tender guy I wanted to see.
 
Because we’ve all looked out upon the world with sad Earl eyes, many of us coming to exist within the immovable sense of not feeling safe enough to trust the world won’t hurt us, for, in fact the world has—Purposefully, Unashamedly—until sometimes we want to even flee from this life. And while these are harsh realities I can’t erase out of existence, I didn’t want to accept that that’s all there is. And Earl didn’t either.
 
For sometimes sadness and grief seem solid as if anchoring us permanently into them. Yet from mutual loss flows a compassion and nurturance for our fellow humans and creatures until somehow, one day, we’re sitting on the couch and old man Earl suddenly climbs into our lap and nuzzles his face in our hair.
 
And there are yet mysteries to solve, but events often become bits of truth constantly discovering itself, and when sweet Earl jumped up that first day—cat hair like love floating delicately around—I think it seasoned us both in what to do with this Life. In how to stand inside the new love we weave into existence as we survive this world more powerfully within togetherness.