Diary of a 4th of July

7/4/2016:

Diary of a 4th of July

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;

Boom,

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,

Boom,

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. 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].

From my “Me” page

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.

Aimless/Amy Palleson. (Permanently: TBD).

Everything looks different

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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 the implosion of all she once clung to had come to rise into confidence of her own fearlessness.

Then wind whipping her hair, they take off on the road, coursing together as fugitives through the waking world of emancipation and red rocks.

“All Apologies”: Finding the Meaning of Nirvana

“I’m going to single-handedly save this marriage!” blasted itself into the void during our final years together. 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. I was surviving from one critique to the next in a mode where you don’t have time to get ahead or reflect and each day is silently punctured as if predated by the same animal who’d expect you to have sex later.

And initially I knew that wasn’t the way I should be treated and stood up for myself. Would 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. Some of us just can’t do it. The world is looking for targets for which an endless supply is found in the tender folk, and those who by personality won’t fight back. But I’m (pathologically?) easygoing, and as the oldest kid of two young 20-something parents, was born intuiting tension and calibrating my day towards relieving it.

And anyways we know when we’re up against an unreasonable foe. Because nothing works except our own hope that things will change and so I let go, and wafted through “easygoing” and “oh well whatever nevermind” until fighting for equality in my marriage turned into listening to his complaints and trying to be “better.” Doing 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 from the impossible task I’d assigned myself, and an event from February 2007—right before he first mentioned the word “divorce”—has become an emblem.

It went like this: our Dyson vacuum had pulled up some of the new Berber carpet that had just been installed in our remodeled basement. Berber carpet is hooked into tight loops and anchored to the bottom of the backing and, during vacuuming, a foot long strand had unraveled, making a noticeable gouge in the new carpet.

And I knew he’d be so angry at me. So I called the carpet place—in a panic—to tell them what had happened, and see if I had recourse. But I didn’t, she said, because right in the Dyson manual it says not to use it on Berber. And I was freaked out. 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. Then, Thinking quickly, I grabbed my hot glue gun, gathered the pulled up strand of carpeting and tried to fix the carpet back into place. It was near the futon; he might not even notice.

A few minutes into my glueing, the carpet place called back. I was in a hurry to finish the 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 answered anyways. It was the same woman I’d talked to, who now—sounding concerned—asked, “I just wanted to call you back and make sure that you were okay.”

She wanted to make sure that I was okay.

And it was weird to hear the worry in her voice, reflecting back to me the panic that had inflected my own. It was weird to only experience concern and worry for myself inside the voice of a better-visioned stranger.

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What else should I be,

All apologies

I wasn’t a rabid Nirvana fan when Kurt Cobain was alive so wasn’t lost inside the falsity of idolatry. Which I’m guessing is what killed him. The visceral sense that he was disappointing everyone (because just being himself wasn’t enough) and people going out of their way to misunderstand—wielding their critique to even whatever emotional score they’re keeping track of—is a suicidal ideation punch card.

But the Nirvana song–All Apologies–calls me home to my marriage.

Kurt favored poetry over obviousness

I take all the blame, aqua seafoam shame.

and with soft chords leading to reflection and sorrow, orchestral strings juxtapose against roughed-up voices and lyrics, placing the song as the preamble to his suicide. “All Apologies” is knowing that folks only liked him for what they could get out of him. A feminist who hated racists and homophobes—regularly told both to fuck off—he was bought, sold, owned, and controlled by depression created by body chemistry, emotional isolation and a world where “Tell someone!” suicide prevention campaigns are blasted to HD TV sets playing fake life at unnatural volumes, Creating the void within which true feeling doesn’t register.

And everything about those days with James were an apology. I was sorry for what I did, didn’t do, was sorry for the girls, my inadequacies, for his unhappiness. Then after the divorce was sorry all over again for different reasons.

I didn’t yet know how we carve ourselves up. How we vulnerably write songs to impart our crimes to an angry world not listening, and leave Krist Novoselic searching for left-handed guitars after blasting our chins with shotguns.

I didn’t know the world invited us to jump into the maw, screaming at us for more and more, never once even seeing how sad fingers pluck.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

“Suicide doesn’t stop the pain, it just moves it” is what I commented on a Reddit post the other day. And I didn’t invent the quote but share it widely because I’ve been in that mental space and need to be reminded that the pain I thought I’d escape doesn’t end; it keeps going; whatever demons we’re running from will endure and trauma will hold our hands until we make friends with it.

And it’s 1 million years past being with James; after my marriage I had to get angry to keep the wrong people away and had to be alone to fully value events. I had to be quiet, and bear the unbearable, and clutch my vulnerabilities and disgust in equal measure like a treasure. I had to discover that “Tell someone!” was missing the entire first and most vital step of gathering tender folks about you.

In writing this song, Kurt’s asking us to remember the tender folk who too quickly get lost inside this madness. And in listening to it, I’m answering him, and as I do, feeling the stiff Berber under my knees and hearing the siren call of my better angels asking if I’m okay.