Algorithm hymns

I’m in that losing point where I want people to see these videos because it could transform their life but where to put it? Who really and honestly wants to watch something that might change their life? And who really sees the things I post to FB (or my blog…) when on FB their entire schtick is to routinely separate the pic material from the words they’re to accompany because they know pics sells the “user experience” to where they’ve programmed their site with an algorithm that hides like the curtain of Oz. And then if someone does actually see something I post together with the words, who would bother to read and admit it? What does the reader really know of me beyond my face and love of animals since what does Oz let them see, and is it designed to make them feel ostracized? uncomfortable? We are a scrolling nation not touching awkward spaces because we’re all freaked out and traumatized then I log in and feel like a dead space; a space where I’m fully aware that an entity who recently rebranded itself—“Meta”—spends billions to figure out how to purposely separate us from one another. How to make us all feel just dissatisfied enough to keep us addicted to coming back for reassurance. They have researched us all to the level of psychological warfare in the name of almighty capitalism and so if I share this there who would they let see it, and what version of discomfort would they find appropriate for us to experience to advance their user machine, and are these questions the end game of what I want for myself or the people I love or the planet? Its no longer the issue that people are complacent: the issue is that we are being led into this experience and into particular motivations/perceptions skewed towards mindfucking us just enough.

If I’m gone soon from FB and IG (EDIT: I will be), know it’s not because I’m pissed or unstable (ahem; correction: I am) or flouncing: it’s that this machine has changed the way human beings think and the way human beings feel and connect; it has kept us from knowing and understanding one another, and it’s a constant stress made more traumatizing every single time I delete or deactivate and become hooked on it again anyways.

Mercy

It’s like the entire world right now is a confrontation, for which within varying degrees of connection we’re all coming to see one another’s deepest vulnerabilities and sadness. And I’m trying to get ahead of it for my kids’ sake. Because I’ve worked hard to process my personal grief into the productivity of seeing the purity of love it (can) hold and I know from our life together that I can’t shield my children from this sadness. Shared with Livy about Wyatt—the Oregon boy who died by fire huddled with his dog—(then immediately doubted myself!) for it is too much; it IS too sad but grief is deceptive like that, and therein resides the fallibility of the human condition.

And yesterday I’d met Mercy the therapy dog (see pic) in anticipation of watching her in October. Before COVID, her jobs were within psychiatric units of VA hospitals and the Women and Children’s homeless shelter. She’s like what you’d imagine a therapy dog would be—quiet, observant, soothing; a wagging caretaker—so when she gave two little barks while her human and I were in conversation, and stood up in protective mode—body facing her driveway—immediately looking short glances at me as she did so, I knew she was assessing me to figure out if I could really see and listen. And as I rose—apologizing/explaining why to the owner—and joined Mercy at the head of the path near the driveway, it came up inside me that this moment of talking without words is as pure as it gets. This dog who transforms the grief of humanity is communicating with me and to step outside human-typicality to invest in that is the moment it all comes together. To be able to pause whatever is happening and say, “I can see and listen, Mercy; thank you for helping me. I’m trying to be real. I truly am” is the silence welcoming us all.

Then hours after that– last night–in the dark of I 15 going north (taking her to her dad’s in Layton) my youngest and I hit upon the subject of “the world” in its current state. Replete with pregnant pauses when neither of us could use words to clarify and tidy it all.

“Whatever happens, the planet will survive. She’ll be okay. It’s just hard to know what it will look like.”

“Yeah, like maybe the trees will…… Actually, I wonder if there’ll even be trees….”

Two Communicators under the forever of the universe ingesting the complexity and uncertainty. Livy taking time from history essays and her new French bob to respect herself enough to accept the limitations of what any human can truly know right now. Veering at one point into the recent discovery of life “on” Venus, and how comical it is that phosphine in the Venetian clouds was probably there all along but Earth-centric humans were instead looking for water. Looking for themselves, over and over. Carl Sagan suggesting 50 years ago there might be life in the clouds but the idea was too fringy. But there it was the whole time.

And Visiting with Mercy’s owner yesterday afternoon, I had told her about working in the elementary schools, with kids who are hungry (but don’t complain about it) from families who’ve endured/are enduring severe loss, and she speaks about how Mercy goes into her interactions understanding the person from the clarity of unusual sight.

”I don’t know how she knows but she can sense what their story is.”

Me, knowing what she means: “And does so from the dignity of non-judgment.”

“Yes, exactly. Without evaluation. As if Mercy is offering them the chance to understand what they are from a completely different vantage.”

Me: “Mirroring unconditional love. Letting the person see themselves inside it perhaps for the first time….”

“Yes. It’s been hard on her not to be working.”

Then Mercy—near her feet—looks up at the tree canopy overhead as if it is her first moment seeing the sun parade through the leaves. And it is. Animals being like the clouds of Venus; miraculous life forms continually hiding something which humans can’t yet see simply because we are always looking for our own selves. And whatever the future holds for any of us, I’m so grateful to know that teachers are here for us, everywhere. Designed into this planet with feet, and fur, in the clouds and in short little barks.

And fast-forward, later, French bob was dropped off, and I’m alone in the car barreling south down I-15 back where I came from, and Rocket Man comes on and things shift and I start to sing. For in reflecting upon it all, it seems like the great mysteries are timeless once they’re revealed to us, and that with each “aha” of knowing Life isn’t just water, we can metamorphose. And unrolling my window, I marvel at being part of this excruciating event known as earth, and from the cooling air rushing along beside me, am somehow comforted to better feel myself as part of.

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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 shit 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.

America

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The scene is 2016, March 18th, Friday, early afternoon; my then-15 year old daughter and I are at the Bernie Sander’s rally held at This is the Place State Park in Salt Lake City, the crowd of 14,000 snaking around as if forever, pedi-cabs (blasting Bob Marley) ferrying people from their distant cars under a sky that’s clear and blue, clouds standing down, attendees willing to leave behind their expensive steel water bottles to get past security. And while we trickle in, and wait for Bernie to arrive—he himself waiting for all attendees to be able to get in—I see die-hards in trees trying to get a glimpse, and share space with excited hopeful people—one dressed up in a superhero costume—and rest inside the scene, Yellow Ledbetter then Uprising then America… playing as everyone takes pictures and videos to document what we already know is history. And as I take it all in, I pan over to our west to a couple and the moment she raises his hand to her mouth is captured on my iPhone. And if I could explain in a paragraph why I had tears in my eyes at the sight of two strangers sharing themselves, I would. If I could sum up humanity for us in poetic words, panning out to divest the moving pictures of our lives, of our loves, of the magic tingling in us from people grabbing hands—their breath upon skin, their lips becoming the meaning of our life—to pour us the profound meaning behind all, I would. But for now, I share instead the story of that day. The dizzying clarity of the sky, folks assembling, cheering, the roar inside my self—overworked, alone, sometimes afraid, but using hardships as growth—and the big bright strokes of that clear afternoon, Bernie speaking our dreams to the trees, mothers with children gripping cameras and getting lost inside the caring of strangers whose hands pose in the art of nurturance while Simon and Garfunkel sing our song and we fall in love with America.

In an Oops/Fuck World

That moment when someone you haven’t seen or heard from since you were 13 years old messages (you’re not FB friends) to tell you that although his politics are near-polar opposite yours, he’s been checking in on your Facebook for over a year to see if you’ve got any new political commentary and in the process realized that he’s envious of you because you have a clear gift for wordcraft.

And for a millisesecond, you experience the peace of a simple act of generosity, then he adds: “except for all of those obscenities, you’re an amazing wordsmith.” Then, in way of explaining— perhaps just to himself, for I didn’t inquire—why he has kept coming back he adds, having clearly resigned himself to the defects, “But: that’s just Amy.”

Thank you. Really hits the spot. Now tell me, random acquaintance: do you like me better with eyeliner or without, smiling or more serious; should I wear low-cut sundresses or is that too flashy? What exactly can I do to make your experience of me more comfortable?

And even just a few years ago, I didn’t used to cuss as much as I do now. I took great care to stifle my own expressivity so as not to make waves, going out of my way to avoid offending someone because I not only didn’t know how to make space for myself, I also didn’t see my self separate from the societal conditioning that raised me.

But experience paves new roads to truth. And in the last few years things have gotten loud. Child trafficking, the meat “industry”, the double-barreled crises of anxiety and suicide, whales dying with tummies full of plastic and Trayvon, a kid, killed for wearing a sweatshirt…., all existing as cattle prods for evolutions. Since within the sights and sounds of this suffering world is the sights and sounds of a society structured on toxicity and denial which now must do better.

For the real shit of all these implanted social requirements is the starving polar bears, reduced arctic ice to reflect the heat of the sun and 12 years to unchain from lifetimes of human assumptions we were clearly mistaken about. And the truth of this world is that we clutch pearls about cussing, and not about some homeless person pushing his dog in a shopping cart. We speak our offense about a women saying whatever she feels is best but not about wealth inequality or a planet so imperiled we’re counting down years from only the number 12 to when we won’t be able to exist here anymore. We grant tolerance to a wordsmith and allow ourselves to miss that our opinion on the subject might be just a big pile of useless bullshit clearly enunciated.

And in panning out—in making the next 12 years our potential entire lifetime—we’ll all need to cuss—panic, rage, topple—and speak anger free of the societal constraints that have previously anesthetized us. Because conformity won’t get us to survival and when everything we said, thought, and did were all wrong, we now get to save ourselves by allowing one another the space to be all the things we never were.