Our people


I’ve lost a lot of very good people to this truth. But first, I lost myself.

Because we’re not born into the education about how to flow with the growth of our own life. We’re born into the construct of the five senses, and instructed to bow to the mores of a society which we’re taught is honorable enough to honor when it really isn’t. Everybody’s just walking around in a fear parade or self-medicating (booze, shopping, porn, mindless ambition for money) so as to feel some measure of freedom or happiness, stepping one foot in front of the other without questioning the validity of any of it until we’ve ruined the planet, children are in cages (while people justify), and fighting so many wars the news doesn’t even cover them anymore. We assume all we’ve ever done is all we should ever do when clearly we don’t got all that shit covered.


And a few years ago, I was totally devastated when my girls were both sick, James blamed me for it, I was jobless, my car got totaled, I started fantasizing about driving myself off a cliff and asked my mom to please come help me and she removed herself emotionally. And I suffered greatly. But that was just how I saw it at that time. That’s how I saw it when I didn’t realize that every painful thing is an opportunity and that those antagonists creating trauma are often the same path towards inner reclamation of self-love you could literally never get anywhere else.

For when you get to see who will suffer your suffering, you receive clarity that the end game of all of this is that you can either stay in the same place or you can move and accept that what anyone ever does to us is Growth challenging us to fight for ourselves.

So if you are in pain right now—if you feel betrayed, if you cannot see anyone standing around you—remove the society inside you validating that you are stuck, know that it hurts because it works, and breathe that the loneliness is You inside one of the steps of your act of becoming. Then go and love on something purring or furry because that shit just feels good.

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”

Spray of Diamonds

[Just popped in a Paul Simon CD, and now St Judy’s Comet rides shotgun, rolling across the skies and leaving sprays of diamonds in its wake. Music, poetry, words left out like cat food for homeless cats….it’s all part of love].

I’ve been waking up at sunrise to love like lightning shaking til it moans and rainbows in the high desert air.

For I’ve got a Nikon camera that gives me the greens of summer, and from the light across my room, follows the music seeping through,

saying. “honey take me dancing” but instead we love like lightning and sleep
In a doorway
By the bodegas and the lights

on Upper broadway


Wearing diamonds on the soles of our shoes.

And I watch the night receive the room of my day late in the evening, taking photographs about the arc of a love affair. —Paul Simon (abbr. 😌)

[Edit for Paul Simon novices: St Judy’s Comet; The Obvious Child, Hearts and Bones, Kodachrome, Late in the Evening, Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes].

Animals in order of appearance: Sadie, Cat, Lucy, Skippy, Tux, Boyfriend, Tala, Mildred, Snaggle, and Izabela. I sit for these creatures—or at least I did, pre-pandemic—and no matter how much time passes, they’ll live always in my hearts and bones.

Sweet love of mine

What a dream I had,

pressed in organdy,

clothed in crinoline

of smoky burgundy,

softer than the rain,

Was what I started singing last night after taking my youngest to the craft store so she could make a card to thank her favorite coffee shop for their ever-present kindness.

What a dream I had, sung in a mother’s tongue who in her child has witnessed the slow-emerging of a battle for the soul. Anxiety, depression, hospitalization, having shaken us out of safety when I wasn’t at all prepared going into motherhood that there might be times when they’d try to slip away. That there’d be times they’d drop into a hopelessness unconditional love couldn’t reach; where unprotected from the awful realness of the world—animal cruelty on YouTube; family darkness—the tender people could become delicate houses capable of toppling.

I didn’t know any of that. So sung the lyrics softly as if inside a home so delicate I dared not breathe.

But that was hours and a night ago.

And after the sun and sky woke, I raked the soggy leaves of a different season, and when my youngest returned from delivering her card, fast-forwarded into the more recent years.

For I did not know those things about motherhood; that into life can arise such pain. But as she told me about giving them her card—crossing her anxiety and depression to deliver it—I realized the darkness of a human life doesn’t get to be more true than the light that life can rise into.

Because as the tender people who wanted to give up bear acts of Love risen from wounds, dreams softer than the rain become rowdy celebrations, and we scream in the joy of growing bigger than the space we were given.

And as beautiful as softness is, screaming to the world about oh sweet child of mine holds power more becoming my new truth, and so floating with the tender people no longer just experiencing the world as they are creating it, I yelled lyrics in triumph about the beauty of the art project that is themselves.

[I wrote most of this sitting at Alchemy Coffee, the very coffee shop her thank you note— see pic— was written about; and while I was there, an older gentleman, a regular, was chatting with the barista about the music that was playing—The Doors—which I was also writing about and he said he saw The Doors at Lagoon (an amusement park) when they played there and that his first date was to see The Rolling Stones at Lagoon in 1966. History swirls all around]

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.

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

Forever tuning

pic 1: Me at the Salt Flats in 1991 when Chris and I drove across the country in our move from Maryland back to Davis, California. At this point, Salt Lake City was a foreign land to me— obviously I had no idea I’d eventually live here—but we pulled over and took some pictures because it felt like a mirage in a desert since while your feet touch the ground you can look out over certain stretches and it appears you’re standing on the mirror image of another world.
Pic 2: late 1990, me during a trip to see Chris in Washington, DC when I still lived in CA; I didn’t know that I’d move out with him, we’d move to CA together then I’d meet James and then James and I would move to Northern Virginia near DC together. Life.

And so it was that when I was about 13 (circa ‘82) I went to see Adelaide the psychic whose name my family had been passing around and she told me two things which stuck with me all the way through until that time (1992) I was trying to make the decision whether to break my engagement with Chris and be with James or listen to my mom and stay the course into a marriage which by now would have already ended.

The first thing Adelaide told me that day was that someday I’d be writing a book. And the second thing she told me is that one day a man with blue eyes would say goodbye to me and I’d be devastated and inconsolable.

As such a fortune might beget, I wondered about that blue-eyed boy for many years, mesmerized by a love so deep I’d excruciate at its loss, believing that perhaps Adelaide spoke in deep metaphor or that the goodbye could be averted somehow.  So when one month out from marrying Chris in the foothills of Gold Country (CA), I saw vibrantly-blue-eyed James at a bus stop–the night after dreaming I was swimming with a blue-eyed man–I retrieved James’ dropped Blue Book, and thus awakened from the slumber which had shielded me from realizing uber-cerebral Chris was for a “me” that didn’t exist anymore, and that Adelaide’s blue eyed man could be this very one.

And of course I had to find out.

The year was 1992, 3.75 years after I left for college, 3 after my parents divorce; 2.75 after the Loma Prieta earthquake destroyed the family home and I dropped out of college, 2.5 since I’d broken up with my (beloved) boyfriend Steve, 2 since I’d gotten rid of everything I owned to shack up with Chris and his roommates in Maryland, and .75 after Chris and I had moved back to Davis, CA to settle in so I could finish my degree.

He supported us, I had my dogs, my guinea pig, my cat, and the potential to abandon years worth of “too much”. Yet there I was.

I honestly do not feel I can adequately express how frightened I was during that time. I wouldn’t be able to explain what it feels like to go through days of being petrified, shaking in the adrenaline of having to face the choice, unable to eat, defying the mom you’ve never crossed. I could not condense a lifetime of the self-doubt involved with being a “pleaser” into the arc of a single event, where one choice is accepting the truth of yourself but spurring others’ disgust, hurt, your own personal hardship, and from which the other is accepting a life of external ease–making everyone else happy–while you slowly suffocate.

My body shook, my mouth was dry. It was an altered state in which I was reaching every vulnerability until they quivered and begged for mercy.

And, in the end, I married that blue-eyed boy (1996) then saw him leave myself and our two daughters (2007) while we grieved with what I thought was feeling that would never end. But it did.

Events unfold for us what we are.

We bear moments of going against the tide, scared, shaking in uncertainty only to see those same moments becoming portraits of ourselves standing alone in our power amidst a crumbling facade. For that Adelaide called into my mind the door to such grief and I opened it anyways for the potential of love writes of many unspoken truths.

Because James left. life is scales, humans playing experiences, fear and dry mouth one day becoming whispers of resilience to our selves another. And so we rise up and fall down and ride roughness into song, slowly catching the breath of the music just like a world of forever-tuning instruments.

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).

Mama

[Quail mama and tribe, Taylorsville UT, 8/26/18. Look at that little ones legs flying back there. I didn’t get a pic of the ducks from this post because I was driving and kinda wanted to live].

On my way to a sit a few days ago, I was on the stretch of 700 East where it curves around and intersects with 900 East. It’s a wide road there–like 8 lanes I think–with a lot going on, stoplights, and turn lanes, cars barreling and others merging, and another stoplight up ahead synced up with the 9th East one, so that if the first light’s green, you don’t even have to think about stopping. You can just sit your ass in your lane and jet on through.

And it was late evening, but even through my speed and the curves, I could see something up ahead moving across the road from right to left, and it took me only just a sec to realize it wasn’t just one something: it was three “somethings”, a mama duck and her two babies, crossing this road, with cars easily going 55 to 60, mama in front and babies in back, in the hot dusk and barely visible, moving across the road at a pace suggesting they were well aware of the danger.

And relatively fresh in my mind was another sit I’d done at a complex with lots of ponds, when I’d seen this mama duck and her six or seven ducklings toddling around, and as I surveyed the scene of so many ducklings in my car, I had pulled up slowly and maybe because I’m a weirdo, rolled down my window to offer her my respect as one parent to another (’cause this shit’s hard, yo) and window rolled down, as her babies scurried close by, I was telling her what a good mom she was and enjoying the moment, before looking down and noticing that nearly right under my window was the completely flattened remains of a baby duck that’d been crushed by a car. The guts were relatively fresh, and it was literally so flat that while carefully driving up–with the remains smack in the middle of the road–I hadn’t even seen it.

So of course on that dusk-night, my mind went to “oh my god; they’re going to die,” because flattened ducks happen and sometimes happy endings appear so unlikely that it seems best not to hope.

I looked to my left at the big black SUV next to me–preparing to quickly look away from the carnage lest the driver not see the mama–but he saw them and slowed, and between the two of us, the little family got to the middle of the road where they then rushed into the lanes of the oncoming traffic and out of my view but, as I turned south onto 9th East, I just happened to look in my drivers side mirror at exactly the right time and saw that somehow the little duck family had also managed to safely cross the 4 lanes going the other direction and were now together and moving towards the brown grass of the far side of the road.  Out of immediate and imminent danger, hearts certainly racing, and marching forward, blessedly having edged out death so as to be graced with another day to live.

And, naturally, I was so relieved.

About a mile down the road as I relived the scene with a calmer mind, a powerful thought came through, so powerful I had to write it down. Because on that road–in a duck scene I’ve seen maybe dozens of times before–mama duck and her babies crossing in extreme danger, the road roaring with cars, feet propelling them desperately forward through what seemed like (and often is) certain death, I couldn’t get over something that I’d always before taken for granted.

For locked in my limited box of “human”, where I’m sealed into an experience and magnetically tied to the earth, I’d never before acknowledged what an improbable act of self-sacrifice it is that, in the midst of extreme danger and peril, the mother duck doesn’t just save herself and fly away.

And in opening my eyes wider, I let in an entire world.  For, in a life of psychological minefields, holding to hope seems foolish until you finally see the ever-present happy endings that you never even noticed.

And the bigger truth is that Life’s not just about flattened baby ducks. Life’s also about mama ducks who don’t fly away.

Her baby

December 17, 2016

As I was driving to a pet sit this morning–in the frigid air–I passed a bus stop on 5th East and saw a woman of smaller stature all bundled up with backpack holding a plastic doll the size of a real baby.

While waiting for my light, I stared at her–at first, just trying to figure out if it was a real baby, then after realizing it wasn’t, wanting to join her experience for a moment, to see if she was okay; if she was hopeful or despairing; what the story was; just to be with her for a minute before I had to drive off–and as I did, I saw her look at the baby adoringly, and snuggle it to her, then watched as she gave it quick little playful kisses under its purple, fleece, hooded onesie, as if she was trying to distract it from how cold and boring it was to be waiting out there in the air for the bus.

I just…..This world. Sweet and beautiful and amazing, and filled with surprises, because I didn’t feel sorry for her. The only thing I could think of was “Good for her.” Look at her loving that thing. Look at her unashamed and coping.

I don’t know.

Because in a life filled with trauma and a bevy of unhealthy behaviors–a world where people with mental issues can’t get help and heroin use often begins as self-medication–holding a baby doll at a bus stop and giving it loving kisses in full sight of a judgmental world seems infinitely more functional than trying to appear like you’re perfectly “normal”, nothings ever wrong, then going home to binge on shame, anger, and heroin.

Anyways, my prayers go to all those suffering with trauma and mental health issues who are unable to get help and find effective coping skills; my prayers also go to the rest of us, that we can help be a source for healing where it’s possible to do so, even if that means not pointing and scoffing at the older lady standing in the cold kissing the face of her plastic baby doll.

[This was so intense when it happened last year and seemed like I’d always remember it and yet I didn’t; it popped up on the memories on my old FB profile and I had to read it all the way through to even get the mental image of where exactly I’d seen her and what that moment looked like. Brrr. It was so cold that day, I stepped right back into that part of it, then she came in and the baby, which I don’t emphasize enough the size of but the proportions were interesting because the woman was so petite and the baby doll the size of an actual few month old baby. I originally posted it with that Circa video of the Mannequin Challenge for a heroin overdose which is so powerful but left it off this because I think they compete rather than complement.]