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”

Light

And then sometimes it’s nighttime and you’re going for “funny and irreverent” and Life pumps those brakes hard when your kid texts to say she just caught a homeless man going through her car in a darkened parking lot, and when she asks him to stop, he does, and when she tells him to give back her stuff, he hands it to her, and apologizes saying, “I’m sorry. I’m a shitty person. I’ve been on drugs.”

I’m filled with gratitude and sorrow: grateful he didn’t scare or hurt her but sorrowful that he lives with the constant burden of feeling guilty for his own pain.

I pray he gets the help he needs. I pray I can someday/somehow reciprocate so that maybe he could see what he did with the eye of a self reclaimed from such sorrow.

Thank you dear man, for not harming her and for, instead, being decent to her in spite of your own pain. I’m so sorry that life is so hard. I wish for us all that it were not so and that your gracious actions in the midst of your own suffering becomes the light by which you’re both soothed and able to see.

1/8/2017

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.

Abstracted clarity

Part 1 (2016): That moment when you’re exhausted—on your 17 hour workdays stretching out for weeks—but must run in to buy your catholes their Soulistic at Petco in Sugar House and they open a new register with “I can help the next customer in line over here on 3” and even though you are that next customer in line and the employees can see that you’re making a move to get over there, they still let someone else who wasn’t even in line snake your spot, and now you’re forced to wait for the moron who just bought a min-Pin puppy from some abusive factory farm (probably) and is letting the poor angel baby literally shake in fear in the middle of the checkout counter–not touching it/talking to it or comforting it at all; like its feelings are that of an irrelevant object rather than a baby newly away from its mom—while he signs up for a Petco Pals card; and in the process of this sight, you become triggered because nearly the EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED TO YOU AT THIS SAME SPOT NOT EVEN THREE DAYS AGO making you think “Why is my vibe making the world feel it can misunderstand and what THE HELL can I do to make it not do this?”

So as the Petco line forms behind you, you realize you’ve got no other choice but to go full Passive-Aggressive Zen Master, and rather than hurriedly placing your items on the counter while you’re waiting for sweet baby Min-Pins owner, you strategically use your cart to hold back the impatient lady behind you (who as she watched you, most likely assessed you’re the dumbest asshole ever), and wait until owner physically leaves the counter before–in slow motion–you calmly start placing your thirty small cans of cat food one

by

one

in tidy little coordinated stacks onto the counter.

Because, Petco, you little bitch: don’t tell me my worth by ignoring me. Don’t

communicate to me I should be okay with things taking forever and then expect me to hurry to get out of the way. We’re either okay with things taking forever or we’re not. So I hope you learned a valuable lesson today. Do NOT f*cking mess with my spot in line.

Part 2: I didn’t used to be that person slowly putting cans from my cart to the counter.

I used to be someone who almost-nearly defined myself by the “greater good”. For I was that person—listening, authentically caring; a helper—who knew the outer world was loud and impatient, of which it was important it become less so and in offering what I had to give—patience, unconditional kindness and understanding—I lived into an ideal where it wasn’t a personal sacrifice to be a maxed out, exhausted single parent being ignored by those privileged with doing whatever they want. It wasn’t a sacrifice because in not making waves, I was creating a more gentle world.

But the growth of the soul doesn’t ever look just one way. And to see my passive-aggressive Zen master at Petco as “who I am” neglects the journey which almost killed me I had to endure to get there.

For from gentleness, sometimes warriors must rise to demand that the world be gentle and this evolution to my healthier self began on a cold Fall morning in 2007. James (my kids dad)—had moved away from our girls to live in Virginia with his mistress, Sarah, and—excited to start being a stepmom—she came to Utah with him. Livy was petrified to go to school and Julia was so angry she was punching holes in the doors but James and Sarah were in love (at least for another year or so); I’d had to drop out of Westminster teaching program, was heartbroken for my babies—dealing with James’ “why can’t the girls just be happy for me?”—and asked James to please not bring her to pick up our traumatized kids at the house just 10 months before we’d all had a Christmas in but they were in love.

And on that day in 2007, Sarah got out of their rental car, moved around my driveway, and started climbing my front porch steps to ostensibly retrieve my two daughters—who she didn’t even know—for their first day together, as if we were all old friends.

And I remember so clearly.

For I gasped. I stood there in my house watching her, not knowing what to do.

Because on that cold morning the kids were still devastated as was I, and I was shocked. So shocked. At her big balls that I wasn’t prepared to deal with; she had also been married, had met me; she and James began their thing—I only found out because he was using our joint account to give her money—and she said she wouldn’t be with him unless he moved away from his little girls to be with her.

And now she’d done nothing to feel embarrassed by. Now, she grabbed the emotional falsity of the moment as if there was no amount of gentleness and no human feeling at all—including those of my precious babies—that could ever stand in the way of what she wanted.

And I wanted to flee; to run from this awful situation with this monster walking up my driveway. Next to my Chrysler Pacifica with The Little Mermaid in the CD player; upon concrete my girls learned to ride bikes in; that one step up towards the porch that was slightly taller.

But the truth of life is that it tells you who you are. It offers you things and within the deep fear and barrenness inside you, strikes your woundedness until you can do nothing else but look at it. And Sarah was showing me that you can be in despair, right at the edge of the cliff, asking “why not?” and there will be people behind you mindlessly saying “oh my god you’re so stupid.” For whether of heart or heart-less, the world is filled with the noise of its own self, and on some days—when you feel least prepared—coming up your steps, will be your Sarah.

For she was the world—not listening, not having to—behind me on the edge of the cliff saying “maybe you should”, and for a second that day, I gasped and wasn’t sure. Should I? What can I even do with this level of fucked up? Where do I go to feel safe from this cruelty?

And on that day she (and many others) taught me how to make space for my self—how to be okay with standing in line at Petco, micro-slowly putting cans on the counter in full irritation of all— for as she put her foot on the bottom step of my home—where I raised my babies, who were enduring unnecessary grief—I found something inside me that could answer those questions. And as if I’d always known, I ran across my living room, flew out the front door and stood, arms crossed over my chest at the top of the steps, looking down at Sarah in challenge as if my life depended on not letting her take one more step.

And suddenly the world was listening.

Part 3: My youngest daughter, Livy, is much like I used to be. Kind, always thinking of others, doing so automatically because their well-being is essentially her well-being. And I’m cognizant of it but she has her own journey and I want to give her the freedom to navigate into the spaces her soul needs without micro-managing. So we disagreed on the philosophy of putting the cans up slowly; she says you should always choose kindness because you never know what someone’s going through. And I hear that; I lived that; I get what she’s saying.

But that just can’t be it. It can’t be. Because people kill themselves because of the unkindness of the world and if I can speak up, if I can inform the world it’s not being gentle enough, shouldn’t I do that for those people? Who else is tasked with telling the world it needs to do better and show up for the ‘quiet kindness not making waves’?

But just the other day, I rushed into Petco during my (repeat of) horrible work stretch of 17 hour days and there I am again: waiting on a Petco Pal’s card. And as I’m waiting, I’m like “are you kidding me?” Because it’s like a comedy sketch now and it’s all so lovely and beautiful to be unconditionally kind when you’ve gotten a full nights sleep and don’t have a nail in your tire. But not all of us are hobby Petco consumerists; some of us are very tired people spending $700 on tires who haven’t washed their hair.

Yet as I stepped up briskly—still in adrenaline mode; wanting Petco to know I needed to hurry—I paused, and looked at the checker. She was young with dark hair; it might’ve been her first job; maybe she was even nervous, and I softened.

Because in that moment, suddenly I had the thought “who else but me?” and felt that right then, I was the world. I was the one tasked with listening. And in that moment, it was no longer enough to be heard without also showing up for whomever else of gentleness might be passing through. For there will be Sarah’s; they will walk up and push.

But there are also Livys, and Julia’s–my daughters–who painfully navigated that time to arrive as adults more caring and compassionate than they probably would’ve been otherwise.

And in the arc of a souls growth, so do we meet our selves again and again.

For at the end of “finding yourself” is the realization you can’t actually see who you are without the benefit of another’s vision, and as I left the store, I texted Livy to thank her, and teared up before pulling away in the fullness of understanding.

Embattled

And I really have to resist telling all the maleness at Jiffy Lube to go make me a sandwich because that’s just where I am today. I was kept up all night by our new dog Lady’s whining—separation anxiety; Julia’s on a trip, Livy needed sleep; I was on duty—and along with my dream last night, I’ve basically been spit out so when the young man in the greasy jacket with no name tag grabs a sip of coffee saying “Kelly Ripa looks so good for her age. What is she, like, 50?”, I’m irritated because he’s flinging around the face grades like he’s got a clipboard and right on the tip of my tongue is a “stfu, Amazing Arbiter of Beauty Evaluations, I’m usually much prettier it’s just I stayed up all night with my fucking dog OK?” “Give me mustard, red onion, and make it gluten-free. Dick.”

And I haven’t dreamt about mom and her husband in so long but last night (during a rare entry into REM) I was again in the recurrence of a dream I’ve had before—grabbing my kids and my pets (and sometimes our foster kittens) to get out of a house before my stepdad can get there to hurt us—and from the sound of Lady whining when I briefly woke, I felt the fear and the sickness that is the testimony of my real life with him. The unabashed anger—punches to horses faces, that day he convinced mom shooting my two dachshunds (and her dog Malone, among others) was an appropriate way to end their lives—and creation of the deepest cruelty and sadness you’ll be seeing forever, to where in the dream I wasn’t even that upset when I realized that from within the accepted futility of our escape plan rested the only other option, at which point I immediately started looking for the weapon I was going to use to kill him.

And I’ve often wondered about this recurring dream. What does it mean that in the limitlessness of my nightscape, I’ve shot him in the chest, gasping as it explodes and the warm tissue of his flesh splatters on my face? What does it mean for a shaggy lady flashing sass in tiredness at a tiring world that from the spaces of her own heartsickness comes not healing but violence?

And last night, within the space of the blending of realms, I woke to a sliver of knowing.

For leaning into a tender world too long steeped in insults comes a rage so powerful it can breathe even as it suffocates, and in the calm of knowing what it feels like to truly Love, stands a warrior forever fighting for the goodness of that which might be unable to battle such a foe.

So this morning, in and out of my exhaustion—head resting into a Jiffy Lube window—I fell into that dream, and looking around a living room in the franticness of protecting the love that is my air, slayed dark things with axes in the quiet of the night while remembering myself and my place in the order of a gentle world.

The Dead

Pic 1: “Ladyfinger, dipped in Moonlight, writing ‘what for?’ across the morning sky.” May this day and all others see us into skies speaking songs to the calm of a gentle world.

DD2 and I were talking the other day about the 27 Club. It started because she’d told me how much she liked the song Santeria by Sublime (though Waiting for my Ruca is clearly their best one, duh) and I told her the lead had OD’d then we veered into Kurt Cobain’s death, and I said he was a feminist and an LGBTQ-ally and that it must have been hard for him to breathe so to speak and maybe that’s why he did it. For that was when America made trans people the butt of jokes and when “coming out of the closet” embraced the ridiculousness that being born gay was somehow controversial, and I reflected that for someone like him—an artist, an ally to those treated unfairly—to be popularized and even idolized by often-vacuous people hip to a scene rather than a bigger purpose—who knew of him yet did not really “know” him nor probably ever could—must have felt so empty. Because to be “front page” to such a society would be lonely, knowing you’ve achieved “the dream” only to have that dream consist of the barren hollowness of speaking profound ideas into a world that only loves to hear itself talk.

Anyways, that line by the Grateful Dead always makes me think of Stephen Trig (not his real last name); a few years ago, I made a meme from it and he’s the only one who recognized where the lyrics were from. The GD are the epitome of living your best, most real life because they released all the “shoulds” and just flowed. And yeah, they crashed at the end but sometimes I think crashing is actually when things get so real you have no choice but to shed the vacuous bullshit and uncover your most profound self. That’s how I see it anyways. And Stephen always had something authentic to say—it wasn’t just the same meaningless bullshit talking about himself that makes up the majority of our culture—and when he died of a heart attack while mowing his lawn (not long after I posted that meme) I felt his presence a few days after, and know that all these years later, he’s somewhere more befitting such a self

Making space (for pollen and grifters)

Things to be grateful for today:

That my puffy eyes from allergies haven’t totally sealed themselves shut. I have the gift of sight.

That I caught the drip of watery-snot before it hit my mouth when I bent over to retrieve my sunglasses from the street.

That I didn’t step on said sunglasses and kill them like I did in January to my eyeglasses and that now I know I can go 5 months wearing lopsided, broken eyeglasses because Time is a meaningless invention most especially since each spring I become gainfully employed with “Impairment” and making an extra effort to tell everyone “it’s allergies” and that I’m not just stupid, high or hungover.

That it’s Sunday and parents can use me as a teaching moment for their kids because “the lady with the misshapen face can’t help it and Jesus wants you to be nice to things like her and whatever she is.”

That Mr Baby’s house is only my second pet sit of 19 today and I’m already so behind but that my exhaustion is actually impeding my ability to be stressed about it (or to remember my own name although honestly, I could make some good guesses plus it’s also on my drivers license so I’ll be okay)

That my hair is dirty because now my 50 psi eyes match my gnarly, filthy head. It’s a look now; I’m the total package.

And…

That the cat in the picture who was making a horrible racket in the bushes under Mr. Baby’s house wasn’t actually a homeless pregnant female in labor but rather a pissed off grifter locked out of his house working me over for treats.

That I was already planning how I’d fit it in my schedule to meet my girls back at Mr. Baby’s house to catch what I thought was a pregnant female and transport her to Best Friends for care and eventual spaying.

That I’m not too world-weary to fall for the feline grift. That I actually AM a nice “whatever it is.” That i can see the humor in puffy eyes. That life isn’t perfect so I don’t have to be either.

That I can walk, have a home, have food, can breathe air populated with oxygen courtesy of trees and their selfless offerings, that I have my life, abilities and opportunities, my girls, Ellen, a chance to bitch then to stfu and make my day be it’s own inspiration for perseverance.

Happy Sunday.

[4/29/2018]

[2/26/2019: I can already feel the allergies starting for this year. They truly are debilitating at times–even while on allergy meds–but the show must go on and when you feel about it, things could always be worse. Happy Tuesday]

Benny

Dear Benny,

I cannot explain my species.

Can’t encapsulate for you their darkness; have no idea why your entry into this world saw you endure cruelty to where even now that you’re safe, with a new family, you panicked when you saw me—shaking, cowering, running—like you have no hope.

I cannot help with this. I cannot do that for you.

For that there is cruelty calls us to a pain within which we might always sit yet never understand.

But, Benny, there’s something.

For that it is from the same heart which quaked from trauma—fleeing from me in instinctual fear; eyes huge, shaking, growling—that a path could be illuminated to seeing your furry mouth licking my fingers in affection bares the secrecy of our magical world.

Because I can’t tell you the answer to cruelty. Because I don’t know.

But I can tell you about the sunrise. About how the water dances in the air when the star arrives near the mountains. I can tell you about greeting the day to a baby breathing beside you that still smells of heaven, and about songs and words that heal scars, waking broken hearts into new days.

I can tell you about the great darkness from which somehow you find a stronger self, and about the dawn of a day in which you discover that the most beautiful thing in your life is actually you.

And I can tell you about the magic of gentleness and the healing that lives inside showing up for a tender world, and about the tears I shed when you licked my hand, as I rose up to a hope that our world was already better.

For the breath of love anoints us both when we rise to the call to be there for one another.

So, Benny, keep fighting the good fight and I promise you, so will I.

All my best, always.

Amy

(As a just-born puppy, Benny spent a year with his mama, locked in a yard outside even over a frigid Idaho winter and I didn’t know him except for a few days [they were moving to Idaho permanently when they got back from their trip] but the difference in him by the end of the week was palpable and on our last visit, I really did tell him to keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together).

4:51, and Ripe

This morning I rose at 4:51 to a chorus of high-pitched mews from the foster kitten room (rough translation of which was: “get up! ‘the f-ck this door still closed for?”) and my own cats scrambled when I got up and let them out because the old batch of fosters had been trained to stay the hell clear but this new batch uses my cats’ litter box and scamper around like happy little assholes and it’s bullshit, and watching my cats bitchslap kittens makes me wonder what would happen if cats had access to low grade uranium and Internet forums.

And on their way out, the kittens summit the pile of laundry indelicately blocking the hallway and it’s Class A athlete stuff because the pile is enormous (to include all the clothes that need washing AND all the clothes I even own=I have no clean clothes) and the laundry room is downstairs which might as well be nirvana so it’s been growing in “complexity” (ripeness) but the kittens push forth through my shame and my cats find higher ground as they explode like shrapnel into the living room.

By neither nature nor profession am I a fancy person. Yesterday, I had six animals and two kindergarteners climb onto my lap; I scooped five litter boxes, walked three dogs; helped one girl with lice pull back her hair, reminded one boy to stop picking his nose, one not to hysterically laugh when he passed gas, and washed a thirds accidentally-flicked applesauce off my bottom lip with what (I’m hoping) was superhuman zeal; then today by 8:10 a.m., my Siberian cat rubbed against me with a suspiciously wet tail and I had to give two kittens a bath because they fell into the toilet. When I leave the house, I may or may not be covered in cat hair, toilet water, boogers, lice, or someone else’s crusty food, and there have been moments during my work days when I’ve said “oh my god! What’s that smell?!” and I wasn’t that surprised to find out that it was me.

And it used to bother me because the world likes to keep score, and I know that society values folded laundry, kittens who aren’t covered in toilet water and women wearing their most presentable self. But just past the pile of laundry, is the realm of personal pride in doing something meaningful and the self-love needed to accept that not everyone is here to be black and cream patent-leather Kate Spades, coiffed hair, tailored coat, beautiful to look at with an unmistakable air of frigidity.

And while I don’t always cheer to look down at myself and think “holy shit; wtf happened to me?” I have accepted that it is your heart that tells you what to value and if you don’t listen to her, you’ll one day end up pissed off because somehow you got stuck living a standard rather than your life.

So…I’m out of pants.

Yesterday I wore what amounts to a fashion “concoction”. Sweater over dress, dress over yoga pants with my Nepalese boots disguising the fact that I ran out of socks a full week ago, and, today, my pants are my “Velcro” pants, that are basically size 6 miracles capable of energetically-manifesting lint, fuzz, dirt and copious quantities of animal hair up and down their length even when no animals were even present which is not a joke and not at all funny because it’s like being a walking advertisement for witchcraft.

But whatever. It’s all good.

Live in your heart. Be real. Everyone has a place in this world.

God/Us

A few years ago, my daughter Livy was surprised when I told her I believed in God. She was 16 (I think) and didn’t know because I don’t tout God or observe religion unless it’s imminently relevant because for me God/source is such a big truth it doesn’t need to be spoken of. Since: of course there is a larger experience than human for all energy in existence; of course there’s an energetic presence of benevolence who we’re all as yet aspiring to. Speaking of it doesn’t make it more special; it just adds the “flawed myopic human overdub” to an experience best left to quiet.

And that religion has been bastardized—god pivoted around so as to basically become ourselves—I know that three letter word up there might stick in the craw so feel free to zero point and replace it with a word of your choice.

Because we live in times of deep grief for which We will all have to find a love that’s bigger; for the suffering of others isn’t for anyone/anything else to step up to. It’s for us to step up to.

And that’s a shortened version of what I intended to write because I haven’t even had my damned coffee. So: Happy 11/11/11(2018) and large, shot-in-the-dark, come on over here, baby.

[Someone shared that saying on Facebook a few days ago and I wanted to offer it here in addition to FB and IG because it was so powerful for me when I saw it that I lost breath for a second. And even today, looking at it again—thinking about what it means from even a deeper place–I felt gratitude for its truth. For that I’m still emotionally-available enough to hear the vulnerable is a gift I won’t squander because yes, when you make yourself emotionally available to hear suffering, you face the grief of the world but in not hearing it–or in actively accepting the turning of blind eye–you’re living a lie in which you forfeit your opportunity to become powerful through offering your own self. Be the change].