Worked (all felines: Izzy, Jack, Piper, Clark, Lucy, Darko, Todd, Burt, Mica—love them all); Graham and Lauren come over, Ellen and Julia join, Ellen’s friend ending his Ramadan; foster kittens, hard lemonade, shitty Malbec, salsa, chips, guacamole, ohdeargodwhydidIeatsomuch; Ellen/Julia to meet her friend, Livy/Lauren go to that little park, pepper gel and caps set off; neighbors’ fireworks go far above parched trees;
we walk to Sugar House Park, blanket says “Dream”, American “pride” bittersweet–injustice, racism, homelessness, hopelessness–the fantasy of clinging to a dying “dream”; cars, cars, cars, boys singing to “Get Low”, fleece blanket making me sweat, can’t reach Julia who’s already there; see James and Indy, find a spot, then another; see Kerry; fireworks start, music starts, same old music, same old American livefeed; so many people, so many many people, fireworks into the sky, blankets, glowsticks, children, drones; weed smoke;
a baby to our left is handed to his daddy, who hugs him and lifts him into the air;
sky lights up, silhouettes of so many people, so many many people (why do we come here/why not watch out of the crowds from down the street?); Livy and Lauren lying down, friendship, the new generation, complicated, wise, (do they feel American pride?); people gazing up,
lights, pictures in the glow; the daddy speaks to his group, another language/Middle Eastern?, the group laughs, mostly men, on blankets, two feet away, the baby handed back to mom
and she is dressed to match the baby in red, white and blue. Boom,
And I’m staring at them,
and can’t look away,
for there is family and languages and implied forgiveness of xenophobes who hate them, braving traffic and crowds and heat so they can share “America” with their baby,
And it’s why we’re all here;
because the mom in tan shorts and the baby in American flag Navy and my girls and my friends are children to this new nation; we are her children,
and the sky sparkles as we sit together.
And when the last of the fireworks fade, we clap and collect our things.
But within time spent in the space of each other’s ideals, walk home in the smoky air dream of a nation rising as one into the hungover dawn of itself.
[Footnote: Because of crowds/parking at Sugar House Park for their huge annual community fireworks show, we’d walked the few miles to snag our spot that night so when fireworks ended, we all walked to our separate homes and—carrying our supplies—I was almost home when I felt something pinch me And realized that when the Dream blanket had been laying on the grass of Sugar House Park, a bee had gotten caught in it and in the course of my 25 minute walk home, had wiggled its way out of its crumpled prison so to sting me. I was grieving that year for our nation; DNC/HillaryFestivus wouldn’t break my heart for a few weeks but still you could sense that America was headed for a bleak time because there was rabid verve for AMERICA!!!! mixed with extreme grief and hardship, and the long and the short of growing as one is that you can’t make people change the channel they’re watching until they’re ready].
I once read that “Om” is the sound that was made at the inception of the universe. That when the entirety of all things was somehow formed out of a void, Om was the vibrational emanation that erupted when the energy transferred from one state to another.
And “Om” is deceptive, for when said clearly, it’s actually three sounds, “A”, “U” and “M” and it’s in our haste to utter it as a cohesive unit that it often comes out–incorrectly–as only two.
And of course, to believe the universe made a sound at it’s “birth” is a story right there. The “big bang” is the current working theory explaining the universe’s known physical properties and it’s hard to imagine such a bang not making a sound but because the emptiness of space doesn’t carry “sound” (current science: except for gravitational waves) we would actually have to redefine sound in order to understand it. What can something say if it can’t be heard? Begging the question of the deep existential unknowings, asking who is the observer in this? Who is the one who hears? Is there a consciousness humans don’t have that experiences energy and light as it explodes into being? Questions which probe our growth, bringing us back to “Om” and the communion of heart. Where cross-legged on the floor we make space for the quiet, and in so doing, come to chant those three emanations from our voice box which no matter what the science or philosophy reveals is actually and truly the universe creating the sounds of itself.
The site title “Aimless” is a moniker I received from my AP Economics teacher Mr. Rosen at Aptos High School (CA) in front of a class of my peers–who didn’t know me except as the shy, new girl whose face turned red when she had to speak. The moniker which hit an emotional target that’s taken me over 30 years to fully understand. Because I was someone born looking for the deeper meaning. I read spiritual books at an early age, took religious studies courses as my “fun classes”, and purposely-geared my University of California, Davis psychology degree into the “pseudo-science” of what consciousness was, simply because I respected science enough to see that the full arc of its story is that science is ALWAYS in its infancy. So the description of being “Aimless” was not only an insult but a fear. For to be “Aimless” was like saying I’d never find the enlightenment the Buddha described, or walk the earth in love with humanity like Jesus. “Aimless” was someone ambling purposelessly along a road of meaninglessness, the glancing blows of love and experience barely reaching into the deepest significance of who I was and what I thought was possible. But now at 52 years old, I see things more clearly.
Because over the course of my life, I did feel aimless. I’ve lived in four states–moved in and out of towns and cities, and relationships. Became a single parent in 2007 after a savage divorce, went back to school for a masters degree in teaching and started a pet sitting business to supplement my income then graduated in 2011 into Life’s cosmic sense of humor where I didn’t get a job, experienced unemployment, financial hardship, the traumas of my beloved daughters, irreparable rifts with the unkind judgment of those I thought were family, and all the other full catastrophes (grief, fear, isolation, desperation) until I began to question the validity of a life which could deliver such experiences. Who cares about deeper meaning when things are so hard and why do I even want to be here for this cruel social experiment known as “humanity”?
But one night while sitting on the stairs of my former home–the wreckage of my life hitting with an incomparable loneliness–I somehow reached a stillness. And from that stillness I rose knowing that within the external circumstances of my life—within the hardship I was still actively engaged in— rests the opportunity to see the profound purity of the love I’ve offered this world. And that it is in fact the ego-less love any of us offer this world that is our only true possession–the only thing we ever get to keep– and is what turns back to speak to us on the carpeted back stairs of 1531 Garfield Avenue during the depths of our dark night of the soul.
And it wasn’t magic. It wasn’t some voice from the sky. It was my self, and my muscles, and one moment free of ego, showing me/us that love is bigger than Amy and her family, and her goals and her loneliness.
I currently live in Salt Lake City, UT (no; I’m not Mormon), was 52 on 10/1/2020, am a single parent of two girls (Julia, 22 and Livy, 20), a business owner/pet sitter, an animal lover, a teacher, a writer finding her voice, a devoted believer in the emotional freedom that comes with complete authenticity, and an aimless soul intent on expanding into the ever-changing self of a single second.
Because the search for a deeper meaning to life is actually an unsolvable logic puzzle unless we can find a way to not “be” anything. For you can’t be anything or go anywhere or see any truth until you find a way to be alive inside the peace and unity of just one moment. For that is the only meaning we ever truly are.
And such it is that all these years later, I bow to the wisdom of Mr. Rosen, the painful clarity of emotional targets, and the dark nights of the soul that forced me to explore the deeper significance of no thing and no self.
Beyond this site, I’m scattered around and nowhere. But here’s some more pics of my life. Thanks for coming by.
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.
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
Last night my girls, Ellen, and I watched Thelma and Louise together. And because I’d forgotten how long the movie was, the event lasted into the early hours of the next day, at which point my youngest–who’d been hesitant to even watch it at all for the last scene she’d heard so much about–excitedly chatted to me through my bleary-eyedness, saying that along with Donnie Darko, it was now one of her two favorite movies.
None of them had ever seen it, and Livy asked me in one of the first scenes when Thelma’s husband Daryl was being an asshole to Thelma, “Is that just the way it was back then?” The movie was made in 1991.
No, baby; Daryl’s just a dick.
In the midst of girl power and Thelma and Louise gunning it to their chosen end, Ellen held my left hand still and, as I watched the movie, drew upon my skin the pattern you see in the picture above; somehow, in the warm living room after the hot summer solstice day of 2017, she accessed an internal well of artistry from within a near-meditative state, and–moving henna tube into curves and points–created this freehand design, reaching over while the first section was drying to grab my hand again and add more detail before moving on to make entirely different designs upon her own skin.
When I finally saw the finished product upon my hand, my mouth was open in surprise because I could not formulate a connection to the type of mind that could so effortlessly create such a vision. I couldn’t “get to” where a human being could so confidently embrace hovering over flesh with a tube of dye and still be able to funnel the experience down into a work of art.
Because that’s just not me. I’m never going to be able to zen out and manifest this kind of thing on someone’s arm.
And I used to think that in order to live fearless, I couldn’t say such things to myself. That in order to stand within my own power, I had to self-talk myself with “You can be/do/have anything you set your mind to!”
Which is where I’d cue up the time a few years ago when I snorkeled in Hawaii with my sister, thus supposedly pacifying my panic-inducing fear of the ocean when in reality, my logical mind was saying “good for you!” while my emotional mind was saying “now look what you’ve done! You’re IN the fucking ocean???!” because logical mind only gets you so far then you’re stuck in the open ocean, hyperventilating with your feet dangling in Jaws music.
And I’ll never be able to “you can do it!”/Pep rally myself into–voila—I’m now Renoir, and being no good at something shouldn’t always bring out the self-esteem protection squad.
Because mind over matter is bullshit and invalidates the natural sense we have of who we are and what choices are right for us. And, unless you’re hurting someone else, it’s perfectly okay to let yourself be who you are. It’s perfectly acceptable to say “I’m no good at this,” and not feel like it somehow means you’re giving up on yourself.
At the end of the movie, Livy and I discussed what our favorite parts were.
Livy’s favorite part is when Thelma calls Daryl to see if the police have been asking questions and almost instantaneously hangs up, knowing their phones are tapped and that the police are listening based solely on how uncharacteristically nice Daryl is to her. It’s pretty classic. Even for 1991.
My favorite part is when Thelma, events skewed against her having created a transformation in herself to where she finally feels in control of her own destiny, sits in the passenger seat of their convertible watching the rising of early morning, and says, “I feel awake. Wide awake. I don’t remember ever feeling this awake.
Everything looks different.”
As though for a moment she’d fallen asleep in her life then with sudden implosion of all she knew had suddenly come to rise into every experience she never knew before was even possible.
Then wind whipping her hair, they take off on the road, coursing together as fugitives through the waking world of clarity and emancipation and red rocks.
The “I’m going to single-handedly save this marriage!” off-switch was pretty hard to find during our final years together. (Maybe it was hidden under the super-hero cape I thought I was wearing). My brain just couldn’t last a second, at the end of the marriage, without wondering what new and inventive way I could come up with to fix his unhappiness. Because he was definitely unhappy; I knew that much. He told me all the time by criticizing the meals I cooked, the food I bought, the way I cleaned the house, and handled the kids. The gas I put in the car. The way I watered the grass. My ideas. My existence (probably). You name it.
I knew that it wasn’t the way I should be treated, so, initially, I stood up for myself. I’d point out that he had unrealistic expectations and that he talked disrespectfully to me. For a few months, I even stopped cooking altogether to teach him not to criticize my meals.
But my defiance didn’t last. Mostly because I’m pathologically easygoing, and it was always so much work for me to fight over these things. According to my aunt, I’m a Libra with Aquarius moon—in some sort of conjunction or something–which means that, apparently, I am astrologically programmed to be the most “Whatever” kind of person you’ll ever meet. My view is that life’s just too freaking short to hold onto slights and grudges. But, unfortunately, that’s exactly what I needed to be able to do in order to see that a pattern was emerging. A pattern of “he’s a verbally abusive, control freak.”
I also had another strike against me in that I was pathologically afraid of ending up like my parents–divorced, and perpetually angry.
So, at some random point, I must have “Whatever”-ed myself into giving up the fight for equality in my marriage, and, after that point, my whole focus turned into keeping him happy. I listened to his complaints and tried to be “better.” I became a different “me,” who supplicated for mercy and gave up her needs for the greater good, in which—somehow–his happiness became the “greatest good” I could think of. I was rolling over like a dog and peeing all over myself to please him. Which is a pretty strong tactic. Since groveling is so attractive and all. I did what I could do to change myself—insidiously—until finally the inevitable happened and he left to be unhappy somewhere else.
At the end, though, I was gasping for freedom from the thankless, impossible task I’d assigned myself, and an event from February 2007—right before he first mentioned the “D” word—has become emblematic of the near death experience I was assuredly headed for had the marriage continued.
It went like this: my Dyson vacuum had pulled up some of the new Berber carpet that had just been installed in our remodeled basement. I knew he would blame me, if he could, so I called the carpet place—in a panic—to tell them what had happened, and see if I had recourse (you know: to see if I could blame someone else). I didn’t, because apparently you aren’t supposed to use rotating Dyson brushes on this carpeting; it was in the Dyson manual. I told her that my husband was going to be so mad at me, and she was very apologetic and wished me luck before we hung up. Thinking quickly, I grabbed my hot glue gun, gathered the pulled up strands of carpeting and tried to jimmy the carpet back into place. It was near the futon, so he might not even notice.
A few minutes into my job, the carpet place called back. I was in a hurry to finish the repair job before he got home—burning myself with the hot glue as I used a bamboo skewer to push the carpeting back into place–but I answered anyways. It was the same woman, who sounded concerned and asked, “I just wanted to call back and make sure you were okay.” It was weird to hear the worry in her voice, reflecting back to me the panic that had inflected my own. Like a banner saying, “Game over, sweetie. Hang up the cape.”
Which—I gotta say—was such a damned relief. ‘Cause it was such a tiring charade.
This Nirvana song–All Apologies–reminds me of “it all.” My marriage, and it’s suffocation. My divorce, and the resultant tailspin. But I’m not sure why. I don’t even know what the famously-vague lyrics mean; they might seem obvious but their author–Kurt Cobain–was a complex guy and “obvious” wasn’t his thing. I only know that every time I hear them—and see those words “All Apologies”–I think about the last few years, and my dedicated and regular probing of my marriage to test it for doneness.
I take all the blame,
aqua seafoam shame.
It was Nirvana’s song–soft, with chords leading to reflective thought, and orchestral strings juxtaposing against roughed-up vocals–but Kurt Cobain’s lyrics. And no one can say what the lyrics mean. I’ve looked it up. Some say it’s Kurt’s goodbye before his suicide. Some say it’s about his marriage to Courtney Love, and how he was upset at himself for getting her hooked on drugs. But apparently the lyrics were written way before he met Love, and contemplated suicide.
So, what then? When he says “All Apologies,” is he wanting to apologize for being a disappointment to someone? Is he apologizing to his fans for not being who they want him to be? Or, for being a disappointment to himself? Or doubting the worth of himself as a new grunge superstar, and expressing remorse for the general, inexplicable feeling of malaise he couldn’t shake even though he had all of this external success? As in: I’m sorry, people, you think I’m something so special, but I’m not. I’m a normal, messed up guy. And I’m sorry you’re fooling yourself by thinking otherwise.
Then these lyrics:
What now? Does he mean that marriage leads to the feeling of suffocation and being dead inside? Seems unlikely, since years after the lyrics were written, he dedicated this song to his wife and young daughter. Or do these lines mean that the time span between married life, and death (being buried) will seem short. And compressed. Because marriage is entertaining. And adventurous. And distracting. And as real as a dirt nap. Is he confused, or calm? Defiant or accepting?
The lyrics trigger memories of that time with my ex. And not just in the obvious way I could compare the two: the suffocation of my self and my needs, and my apologetic stance mixing with the lyrics about apologies and acceptance of blame. Or in a wishful thinking kind of way, in that wouldn’t it be Just-Like-So-Totally-Super-Awesome! to bond with Kurt Cobain over our similar life challenges.
Because all that sounds good and possible but feels false. Because I can hear—or think I hear–Kurt’s active suffocation in the lyrics—but it’s suffocation at the hands of himself. And I also hear contempt. For taking himself too seriously. For others taking him too seriously. For allowing himself to indulgently overthink things and for audaciously trying to single-handedly decipher the complexity of the world, and emotions, and intention through song.
And I know that all the overthinking I’m doing trying to figure it all out–all the analysis of the meaning behind the lyrics–is BS. ‘Cause I’m Gen X, and we share—Kurt and I—this mutually compatible, angst-ridden self-consciousness. We share a need to ridicule ourselves because we hate the intentional seriousness of it all. (We’re a bit jaded because we saw how “Free Love” and “Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out” morphed into BMW’s and second homes in Carmel).
Maybe the lyrics mean nothing. ‘Cause Kurt isn’t anything like my bossy, control freak ex-husband. He knew enough about life—and it’s temptations and humanity’s collective desire for “easy”–not to offer his fans—like me–clear demands on what to think and how to feel. By making his lyrics so hard to interpret, he addresses the impossible complexity of life. And somehow says it all without saying anything. “Everything in life is open to interpretation depending on how deep in the muck you’re standing.”
And so, anyways, it’s BS. My mental journey for what Kurt meant. Because I’m aware that my efforts at finding “The Answer” to the riddle of what Kurt is trying to say belies an emotional neediness that–in marriages and in life–can never, ever be pacified. And I know now that it’s best to part ways with the extreme desire for external validation long before you’re on your hands and knees frantically hot gluing carpet back together.
Each time I listen to this song, I eventually find myself in this same spot. In the murky waters that prevent easy “answers.” At which point, I end up just enjoying the way the song makes me feel in the moment. Free of definitive meaning. Free from thinking any particular thing. And wrapping up life lessons into convenient, labeled file folders. Free to have my interpretations change as I change. Free to pacify myself with “Whatever” once again.