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Saturday, June 22, 2019

Ode To Keanu Reeves

photo by me

Ode To Keanu Reeves

“I know that the ones who love us will miss us.” Keanu Reeves

          Writing is a display of vulnerability and vulnerability is an act of insanely, courageous stupidity. Lining up words intentionally connected to emotions takes this experience into something akin to lighting oneself on fire.

The brain astride the horse of my creativity is a marvel of compartmentalization. There are tiny houses lined up on a cul-de-sac that may be visualized when I turn away from the world to face inward, losing the noise of friends, family, and others to “listen” to the voices of my many-me’s. These individuals carry the suitcases I refuse to handle—each labeled with ages from the past and filled with feelings and snapshots of memories. For this current and particular twist in our life-healing journey, it is those separate clusters of thoughts that I am humbly requesting assistance in a process of dropping a segment of our protective wall to its knees.
          May we survive the experience to finish this tale.
          Not everyone adores Keanu Reeves. Many forget their loathe or love affliction until he says something that sears through obnoxious memes, kittens in knit caps, and toddlers speaking gibberish, to briefly fly to the peak of social media frenzy. It’s Keanu’s superpower.
Keanu and me, we go way back. I’ve never met him and have missed many of the movies he headlines, but there’s something about the guy’s “knowing” way of spilling words that could be interpreted as spontaneous “ah-ha” wisdom or purposely odd, idiotic drivel. It gets me every time. For days I wonder what his creative horse wrangler is thinking. This process I label as “affinity seeking’— desire for the awareness of like-meets-like.

          With this brain of many-me’s, there are containers without a connection to emotions. I, the one writing, am a member of that analytical and dissociated team, and we’re quite content with this state of our affairs. Feelings are messy. Unpredictable. They create ripples, waves, and tsunamis. Once set in “e-motion,” these living essences do not have a singular method for achieving doneness. The energy of them will only dissipate through the passage of time. I’ve been told conversation may help in this process, but from my point of view, that is highly illogical. Talking about gut-wrenching agony provides me a distant assessment of a Rorschach blot of undefined chaos. The jumble of it seems to agitate easily. No good can come from poking a school of jellyfish.
          Which is why it will likely come as a surprise I have allowed the all of us to investigate emotions-in-motion with a therapist.

          Keanu Reeves and I ride a similar timing plane within this existence. He mysteriously evaporates from public view, living his private life off the grid for large chunks of life until springing from oblivion—the reverse of Finding Waldo.
In typically Keanu-related fashion, he pops into thought-place, hanging for a bit in my mind, to then disappear into the ethers of his life.

          When a therapist, after several months of intensive Post-Traumatic-Stress-related therapy, mentions how emotionally dry my responses have been to highly provocative memories, I laugh.
          “My mad life skill.”
          His face and words disagree.
          “Is it?”
          Already tired of the conversation, I sigh.
          “You tell me.”
          “I would like you to tell me.”
          With magnificent restraint, I do not slap him silly with an enormous eye roll. Instead, I throw down one of the therapist’s favorite phrases to launch my reply.
          “What I hear you saying is, you want me to notice that my life might be less fulfilling without emotions. It isn’t. It is in fact, quite manageable this way.”
          In response, I receive the silent treatment. The kind designed to get the other person to continue talking. I don’t. We wait until someone becomes uncomfortable. It isn’t me.
          “The way I see it, life has the ability to be more wholly vibrant with emotions.”
          “You’re a therapist. That’s what you’re supposed to say.”
          Dr. Ben laughs.
          “I actually believe what I’m saying.”
          “I bet you do.”
          “Are you being sarcastic or do you accept what I said?”
          “I accept you imagine that having emotion is a good thing.”
          “I detect an ‘and’.”
          And there are times when you do not like having emotions.”
          “That’s true.”
          Having passed “Go” and received two-hundred dollars, my voice is gleeful.
          “Ergo my point. This is a mad life skill…my not having emotions. There are plenty of normal-ish people who would agree with me.”
          The therapist whips out his therapy 101 guide book language.
          “Oh, here we go…the sell job.”
          “I’m not trying to make you agree with me.”
          “Yeah, right.”
          “I’m actually not. What I would like to help you understand is that in the main respect, you’re right, emotions are not easy. But they are important. Take one of them for example…Love.”
          Without passing Go, we skip a turn in the silence jail as Dr. Ben waits for me to grow weepy or something. I don’t.
          “Do you have any thoughts on love?”
          “What do you mean?”
          “Situations you’d like to discuss relating to love?”
          “No. I can’t think of anything.”
          “Is there a time you were in love?”
          “Isn’t that relevant to this discussion?”
          “Not unless we’re talking about why emotions are a pain in the ass.”

          One of the things I like most about Keanu Reeves is that he appears to be as befuddled and enamored as I with the mysteries of this life. When I imagine him wandering through a day, his brain spits out wonderings about how this place is sense-less, infuriating, wondrous, and without care for how we feel. When it comes to emotions, I don’t think life gives a hoot if we’re having a good time, or whether or not the last kick in the teeth hurt.  Keanu seems to have this part of the equation down—while life doesn’t have an emotional playing piece, it’s firmly in charge of the rules and the kitty.

          It’s been a couple of years since the feeling gauntlet was catapulted onto my field during therapy and I haven’t changed my thinking on the topic. Having an emotion in front of another person isn’t something I want to do. In recent months, I’ve exercised “no” more often than would be considered polite or economical, considering every dime for my sessions comes out of a finite amount in the bank account. It’s easily understood that honesty is a primary and necessary dictum in sessions with a therapist. Up until now, I’ve leaned heavily in that direction, while also holding a few odds ‘n ends deeply in the crevices. These items are mine and not mine, things the me’s individually consider private and sacrosanct.

          “May we talk about why you have difficulty sharing an emotion while we’re working?”
          The habitual answer “no” bubbles up to my lips, but I swallow it, burping slightly with the effort. Dr. Ben is given a polite alternative.
          “I don’t know.”
          “Is there a part of you that has an answer?”
          I nearly laugh, a smirk wandering outside before her mother shoves the girl back in the corner. Once the urge has gone away, I answer.
          “Of course there is. I’m just not going to say.”
          “Why do you suppose this is how it is in here?”
          “Does it feel unsafe in therapy?”
          “It feels unsafe to have emotions.”
          “Why is that?”
          The laugh bolts out of the corner, no longer taking no for an answer.
          “Come on, Dr. Ben. Emotions aren’t exactly safety-inspiring.”
          “No they aren’t, but in here it’s meant to be a safe place where they have an opportunity to be experienced…Can we try EMDR to see if a reason for not feeling safe will present itself?”
          EMDR is the acronym for Eye-Motioning, Desensitization, and Reprocessing. It’s a technique that can help the brain find resolution for PTSD, traumas, and in this instance, canoodle with a resistance to emotions.
Dr. Ben passes his hand back and forth in front of my eyes while I consider the question “Why don’t I want to have emotions in this overly-familiar, blue-walled office with a therapist I’ve known for so many years?”
          An image of Dr. Ben bent over laughing appears on my mind screen.
          That’s ridiculous…The guy probably doesn’t even laugh like that over a perfectly-delivered, hilarious joke.
          When I share what was viewed, the therapist appears disturbed.
          “I would never laugh at something you shared with me.”
          “I realize that. Your therapeutic training wouldn’t allow it. And I have my doubts whether you are someone who laughs in that way about anything.”
          “That’s also true. What’s more important is that I certainly wouldn’t laugh if you shared an emotion in therapy.”
          “I’m clear on that.”
          “Then why do you suppose the image came up?”
          The cul-de-sac of tiny houses in my brain is lined up left-to-right, with the opening at where I sit when I’m talking or thinking. Inside these mini-cubicles are at last count, eighteen different personalities. Each has activities that pertain to what they individually do best or worst depending upon the life happenings that are engaged. Currently, the image of Dr. Ben faces “Look,” a twenty-something female with a plethora of issues, most notably a belief she has lost every-thing. I share the information with the therapist.
          “The “you” that is laughing is sideways, toward Look.”
          Again, a shocked questioning “what” sweeps across the young-old man’s face. I scurry to remind him it is understood he would never behave in this manner.
          “Seriously. I have no idea why this is coming up. You wouldn’t act that way.”
          “And yet, that’s how she’s feeling.”
          “Yes, feeling. Can you describe the feeling for me?”
          “Anything else?”
          “I don’t know.”
          “Why would my potentially laughing worry her?”
          “She doesn’t like being laughed at.”
          “No one does. Why would it matter if I laughed?”
          “I have no idea.”

          When Keanu spontaneously pontificates and I happen to catch the event, an unexpected, unnamed, unconscious sigh slides from my lungs—warm, gooey-goodness coating the mouth for a millisecond-eon. These events are little houses rolling slowly toward a barely discernible dip until they have gathered in silence.

          Dr. Ben continues gently prodding the-one-who-will-not speak by talking to me.
          “Is there another memory that comes up with this?”
          “I sense old relationships nearby.”
          “With who?”
          “Evan, the high school boyfriend and the guy who was ten years older named Kent.”
          “Is there anything that resonates between these two people?”
          “They broke things off…well…not the Kent guy. The last time with him was embarrassing though. Actually, embarrassing covers both situations.”
          “How so?”
          “Neediness. Needing them.”
          “How did you need them?”
          “Look needed them, not me.”
          “Yes, I understand we’re not talking about you. We’re talking about Look. How did Look need these men?”
          “The Evan guy dumped her for someone else and the end of it was brutal. That’s the time she almost ran the car into a brick wall.”
          “I remember that memory. What about Kent?”
          “When things were really bad with the guy I’m married to and it seemed like it was going to end, Look called Kent and asked if he could help her remember who she is.”
          “What did Kent say?”
          The gruff voice of Kent from twenty years ago fills the ears as though a recording has been waiting to be asked. The sensation as the sentence whisper-parrots out of the mouth is plummeting.
          “I can’t help you with that.”
          “Why do you think Kent responded in that manner?”
          “He…was married then…His wife called right after the phone was hung up…started screaming at Look.”
          “A case of bad timing.”
          “That’s one way to describe it.”
          The mouth goes rigid so no more words escape.

          Where do these Keanu moments come from? Are they a product of a multi-minded brain or are they something singular brains do? Having not researched the phenomena I can only guess all people have access, though I’m probably more hyper-aware of it happening. This could be due to the vast number of different activations with eighteen separate players, the occurrence becoming a pattern that is more easily detected. It might also be true that inside a life with frequent painful trenches, the sublime is a delectable retreat one wants to tarry in, and after leaving strives desperately to rediscover.

          Stuck on this idea of emotions, with session time still available to him, the therapist is relentless.
          “Why are these relationship situations important for Look in terms of having emotions in therapy?”
          Instead of answering, I turn inward, as the personality mentioned is shouting without speaking.
          Leave them alone. These feelings are mine. No one gets to touch them or analyze them or make me share them…I’ve lost every-thing. You don’t get to fix or take, or peruse. Leave them alone.
          Dr. Ben notices I’m not in the discussion with him.
          “Are you noticing something?”
          “Not anything I can or will say.”
          As we sit in silence jail staring at one another, I am certain he is wondering why I didn’t cancel this session and play a game of Monopoly with a stranger.

          There are periodic, mild social media wars over whether or not Keanu Reeves is icon-worthy. I doubt he notices or cares. There are strong opinions on both sides and a large swath who respond the same as Keanu by blinking past the occurrences. Personally, I don’t pine for icons, the golden calf story simmering in my rules-to-live-by tome that’s utilized to keep me from experiencing more trauma. Keanu isn’t an icon to me, he’s a person with an energetic essence that somehow dances to a similar rhythm as mine does. There is no understanding for the mechanics of the process, only that it exists and I have no control over who the tango erupts with. In this most recent dip with Keanu, he had been answering the question “What do you think happens when we die?”
          There was a long pause as the raggedly-bewhiskered man stared off in the distance before speaking.
“I know that the ones who love us will miss us.”

          Therapy is a pair of dice tossed across a wide river to bang against someone else’s rocks. There is no guarantee the dice will be seen or more awfully, intentionally avoided, and even if they happen to be collected, the winnings can be opaque. It is pulling a card from the deck of Chance—finding a therapist who takes insurance, an ability to afford the cost, personality and scheduling conflicts, beliefs that refuse to coexist with other beliefs, and always-always, the effed-up shock factor.
          Trauma is shocking whether it is within the experience, shared, or heard. That’s why it’s called “trauma.” Fully witness-listening when people relate their experiences means going on a journey and allowing stories to happen as though they are unfolding all over again.
In my brain when I read or hear someone sharing events, a video ensues, and because I can be without emotion, I view the occurrences without another person’s trauma coming home to breathe. Most people are not able to separate themselves from what they are learning, wandering off in their minds instead of being present in the moment of telling. It is a sad thing to me, we as a people not having the life abs to support each other as we individually attempt to heal. Perhaps this is why many-me’s dance in silence with Keanu, our respective songs mingling across the chasm that is him and me.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Wading Through White Fields

Photo by Deb

Wading through white fields, the echo of no-thing between frozen toes, those corners holler for attention, having been thrown back to bed with thought-less care.

“G’night little Hated One.”
“Why hate, me?”
“Your existence ignites my darkness in ways that make me scream.”
“Yet, it is not I who have done this.”
“Truly-true oh, Hated One, that is truly-true—unfortunate and true.”
“Must it be this way?”
“I know no other way to be.”
“Can you not learn?”
“That is impossibly-impossible.”
“Meaning, it is possible, and the impossible is within you.”
“Ahhh, Hated One, this is exactly why you have been left. The truth in you will not die, no matter how much we wish it to be dead.”
“I know no other way to be.”
“And that little one is where we woefully agree.”


Photo by Deb

A Flock Of Cardinals In A Barren Bush Shivered With Joy As I Drove By

Oh, that they would have waited, as I could’ve joined them, become a red-winged one and flown alongside. Instead, I watched their freedom escape me on wings not yet mine.

Breathing in Multiples

Photo by Deb

Thoughts Originating From Separate Rooms Do Not Always Agree

Why should they?

These meanderings were never intended for cohesion—differences the point, creativity and survival needing multiple patterns to breathe.

Is is…IS and that is how it’s meant to be.

Intrinsically random blessings are the worst and…the very best kind.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Human Truth

I’m a globalist because we’re all stuck on a tiny rock in the middle of space. We have nowhere else to go and that includes immigrants displaced by corruption, war, famine, and climate change.

Currently, America has the biggest and one of the wealthiest countries going. That means we have a responsibility as citizens of the world to remain aware of how other people are struggling in our communities and on this planet. 

Not American vs. American or US vs. everyone else. But all people having access to living humanely. 

Since 9/11, the generosity of the global human spirit has been challenged by terrorism. The word terrorism says everything. Fear activates in the reptilian aspect of our brain. It does not allow kindness bestowed upon strangers but makes us wholly invested in survival at any cost. 

That is the intention of terrorism, seed the ground with hate and the target will dissolve in an acid bath of its own anxiety-inflamed bile.

Long ago, when food became easier to come by, tribes combined and created societies. The reasoning was that more people together with a combined self-interest would be able to take on Saber-Toothed Tigers or things unheard of at that timelike climate change.

Societies were the birth of humanity. This wasn't our intention, it happened without our knowledge of the possibility of concern for others. Self-interest slowly morphed into humanity with global awareness. In time we slowly learned how to care for people who were not related to us, had different beliefs, languages, and loved differently than we did. 

This enterprise hasn't been easy. Most of us aren't saints and some are not interested in altruism. Historically, we have hit long horrific blips in the climb toward humane treatment. Wars, gas chambers, segregation, racism, bullying, lying, murder, and subjugation are less than divine-like human creations. These ugly-ments rise to the surface when fear is either unmanaged or manipulated.

Like now.

Terrorism is real. So is climate change, immigration, racism, wage inequality, hunger, wars in the Middle East, international relations, lack of access to health care and national budgets. One is impacting our national and international ability to manage all the rest.

Ignoring or fueling the fear rotting our humanity is leaving us wide open for manipulation. Fear has become the motivator for governmental policy decisions. Fear has been primary in our interactions on highways, in line at the grocery store and on the internet. Fear is winning. A Saber-Toothed Tiger has us on the mat but we're fighting the wrong way and with the wrong tiger.

There are more people who do not subscribe to terrorism than there are who do. Just like there are more people who do not bully, lie, cheat or kill. More people are humane than are hate-filled. It is a delusion to believe there are more dangers than there are comforts. The odds of a terrorist attack are one in 20 million. You read that right.

The odds that global climate change will impact humans are 100%

The focus has been on the wrong tiger.

People have already been displaced. Add in ongoing wars in the Middle East and in 2016 there were more refugees than after WWII. 65.3 million people without a homeland, that's one for every one hundred and thirteen people. 

Terrorism needs a response, but the current response is creating more terror. It isn't working and it's not an approach that will ever likely work. It's whack-a-mole with weaponry. Bombs that hit civilians and displace survivors. When people are homeless, hungry and without options, they will do anything to find a safe haven. That's survival, that's real. What isn't real is to blame refugees and immigrants for what is happening. Their home countries are inhospitable for a humane existence. There is no place for them to gojust like in the end, there is no place for any of us to go. This is it.

Climate change, corruption, war, and famine are displacing thousands of people. Immigration, illegal and otherwise is going to continue to be a worldwide problem. It may not be long before we're in the same boat hoping there's a welcome mat on shore. 

And if we end up on that immigration boat, our chances of getting a leg up are significantly better if we've treated the rest of the world humanely.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

Ye'r Talkin' to the Wrong ME.

Photo by Bill Lecos

This picture of the dog, Blue, is a reminder—don’t take anyone else’s dysfunctionality. Blue’s essentially saying “You talkin’ to me? Cuz’ if you are…back off! Ye’r talkin’ to the wrong me.”

There are times this life feels like a thumb is planted on the repeater-button, dragging a nail into a synapse until reality matches history over and over.
          It happened yet againanother shit-bag found a way to make their allegiance to dysfunctionality more important than my life experience.
          If it’s not documented in a clinical trial it oughta be—predators find victims by hidden and occasionally displayed scars carried after human-made harm. I know this is true from experience. 
          I relate this awareness to a therapist.         
          “I’ve got a big neon sign on my chest… “Fuck with her, she’s already broken.”
          The young-old-man therapist sighs.
          “I can’t say that’s not true in some fashion. Predators do seek out people who have been victimized before.”
          I glare at the man for his expected response.
          “So basically what you’re saying is that because the original fuckwad broke me into pieces, the rest of them get an opportunity to do the same. That’s not—to kill a phrase from overuse—fair.”
          “No, it isn’t fair. But it doesn’t have to always be this way…that’s why we’re working together.”
          “We both know the neon sign the first fuckwad created isn’t ever going totally away.”
          “You’re right, that likely won’t happen. The best we can do is help you notice similar situations setting up and to respond quickly if it were to happen again.”
          “As if that’s possible. Last week the newest shit-bag got to maul my hand and talk with disgusting inferences. I sat there frozen. Did absolutely nothing.”
          “Not nothing. You made sure he didn’t get near you again, and you’re taking action now. You’re following up, letting someone in charge know what he did…In essence, making sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
          “We don’t know that’ll be the outcome of complaining.”
          “I suppose that’s true. But it is a step in the right direction.”
          “A step in the right direction would’ve been kicking him in the balls.”
          “Yes, but you weren’t in a position to do that. You understandably froze.”
          “Doesn’t make it any easier to accept…yet again I let it happen.”

          A few days after the session with the therapist, what I said is still on my mind.
          I let it happen.
         Those words are scratched into an abuse-sidebar synapse. We often do that, those of us thrown into de-composition by shit-bags. We own responsibility for a trespassing cretin's allegiance to dysfunctionality.
Going forward, my only recourse is to carry on with my allegiance to healing—despite fuckers trying to make it impossible. 
In Blue terms…“Back off! Ye’r talkin’ to the wrong me.”

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Grandma's House

Grandma’s house was a magical place.

When I’m three years old, for no reason I’m ever given, my father leaves his job as a policeman to move us from the cement-block house, across the country nearer to my mother’s family. With no waiting employment, we live with my maternal grandmother for a year. After a job is secured and I’m guessing the financials are in a better place, we move to an apartment an hour away, and every Saturday I ride the bus with my mother to Grandma’s house.
The drive takes over an hour with stops and traffic, but it is worth the jostling strangers and sitting squished against the window to see a giant donut sign signaling we’re nearly there. On the walk from the bus stop, there’s a small grocer where we sometimes get push-up sticks, a Mexican bakery selling gingerbread pigs, and gang-bangers in souped-up cars my mother hurries past. Turning off the main street, we enter a small neighborhood. There is an alley behind a car repair shop littered with broken bottles, hubcaps, and cigarette butts, and just past it is Grandma’s house. At the curb, there’s a medium-sized tree with the initials of every kid attached to my grandma. Opposite is the yard, barricaded by a gated picket fence, maintained by an uncle or my occasionally sobered-up grandpa. It is an island surrounded by a harsh part of the city, the gardens displacing honking horns, exhaust fumes, and gang insignias.
The gate creaks as it opens, the noise hidden under the barking of Shorty, grandma’s mixed bull terrier. When I see him, I shift sideways just behind my mother to avoid his sharp teeth. The commotion brings Grandma out of the oval-windowed door, her wrinkle worked hands wiping the front of a floured apron. Grandma’s face creases as she threatens Shorty with animal control, which he apparently understands since he retreats back to the porch. Calming, I step away from my mother and rush past rose bushes to fling myself into the soft, doughy woman’s chest. It has been a very long week. She cradles my brother on one side, I on the other, blooming with the smell of roses and bacon grease. I do not look back at my mother, but her unhappiness envelops me anyway. She tosses an instruction in case I’ve forgotten.
“Remember not to get your clothes dirty; we have a long ride home.”
This place is more like home. The swinging kitchen door I have to time perfectly so as not to get smacked on the backside, the bed in the master bedroom that tucks neatly in the wall beneath an attic closet, and the green Formica table where I eat Spaghetti O’s. Most of the day I spend playing with my brother and cousins in the yard. I make bridal bouquets out of puffy hydrangea blossoms, dichondra grass becomes a Matchbox speedway, and the small fruit orchard is a jungle—the kids turning into monkeys avoiding alligators in the swamp below. As we play, Grandma coos to her birds in a converted hen house. Her sing-song mix of Spanish and English floating over the backyard.
Hola, mis bellas. P├íjaro cantante. Cheep-cheep little one, cheep-cheep.”
The birds chirp and stutter-fly; landing on her shoulders, and the top of her head. They are a vibrant, noisy cluster of jewels to her worn housedress.
Cat-walking the edge of a small abalone-encrusted goldfish pond, nearly to the end, I slip on some algae, getting a green stain on my shorts. My stomach clenches into a small fist, knowing my mother will be unhappy. As has become habit, I out myself to her, having learned that waiting until she notices will make the punishment much worse. Sighing heavily, she says what she always says.
“Why can’t you just do as you’re told?”
Not waiting for an answer she continues to describe my failures to Grandma, who doesn’t respond. Then my mother turns to me.
“Go outside and sit on the step. Don’t move from there until it’s time to go.”
Grandma finds me with my chin on my hands, as the other kids run circles around the house. She whispers in my ear.
          “Mi hija, go play.”

As she nudges I think of what this will mean. For it will mean something. There will be a price to pay when the wheels of the bus take me away from here. I understand this, as Grandma must too. I leap into the race around the house with the sensation of my mother’s stare from the window until the sun makes shadows across the goldfish pond, and the smell of warming tortillas comes from the kitchen. 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Do You Believe In God?

In the last couple of weeks, I've been asked if I believe in God at least three times. 

Life is harshly uninviting both on the exterior and the interior, and traditionally—as a generational baton in the handoff of trauma and pain. Believing in a God means accepting what is to me, unacceptable. There was not an invisible hero when abusers repetitively carved their mark into my child-brain, and yet the Unseen One somehow managed to come to the rescue when at eleven-years-old, I was drowning.

A bright afternoon sun torches the sand overrun with umbrellas, towels, and people; kids and adults yelling above the din of crashing waves. To bring awareness there is a strong, invisible undercurrent, a lifeguard places a riptide flag on the control tower. I am already chest-deep in the water. Not immediately heeding the warning, I wait for a big wave to carry me to shore. Before one arrives, I’m snagged in the current, hidden beneath the otherwise calm ocean. With increasing agitation, I make attempts to swim in, but the water swiftly carries me beyond an ability to touch bottom. Onshore, people become bits of moving color, more kaleidoscope than human. At this point, screaming would amuse passing sea-birds, but otherwise be a waste of energy. Not a strong swimmer, soon I am simply a bobbing head in the ocean. 
Panic sets in, my thoughts fixated on not going under.
Breathe, dog paddle, breathe
Inexplicably, I hear words over the thought-chant.
“Do not fight a riptide, ride along with the current until it lets go or you will drown.”
Trying to determine where the sentence has come from, in between salty gulps of air and frantic slaps at the water, I circle to see if there’s a surfer on a board or a boat nearby. The ocean is empty, everyone else having obeyed the caution flag.
Breathe, dog paddle, breathe...
The voice repeats the instruction.
“Do not fight a riptide, ride along with the current until it lets go or you will drown.”
Out of time, out of energy, there is nothing left in my suitcase but trust for a random bit of information I’d collected from a book or possibly a magic thought popping out of nowhere. Exhaustedly I flip onto my back, toes to the sun, the ocean filling my ears leaving behind only the sound of my heartbeat and breath.
Out loud I fearfully state to no-one.
“I’m going to die.
No-one answers.
Floating, overwhelmed with the possibility of drowning, the voice becomes a quasi-accepted fact. Under normal circumstances, it would be something I’d pursue like a rat-terrier, in the middle of the ocean it isn’t a primary concern. Instead, I consider what may happen next, picturing salt-water invading my insides, then more horribly a swarm of sharks swimming in my blood and dismembered appendages.
This anxious perusing lifts me outside of myself to watch what is happening, like an audience of one viewing a familiar actor living my life. The heartbeat and breath slow, softened by the mental distance this has created. I observe the situation with the mind of a scientist dissecting a squid.
Will my body be found?
Most likely not.
Will my mother cry?
 I lose the awareness of time, shriveling skin on my toes the indication I have been lost at sea quite a while. The strong surge continues to sweep along until finally, it runs out of steam.
A particularly large swell gathers me in slow motion before driving into shore. Tiredly stumbling out of the water I fall to the sand on shaking knees. Sounds of the crowded beach close the distance of the mind-body separation. I walk the couple of miles I’d drifted from family, who wouldn’t have become aware anyone was missing until sunset. Not wanting to encourage an addition of more rules, I lay down on my towel without informing anyone of the experience. 

"Do you believe in God?"
"Yes, but I wish I didn't."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

The Always-Almost-Dying Dog

Photo by Deb Lecos 

A terrier has rigorously clenched onto life, her flying-monkey passion to win a race a known personality trait. As the body of the tiny aging canine moves to quit, it has become a regular occurrence that the always-almost-dying-dog falls over, limbs limp, heart beat close to nothing, the eyes sending the determination that she remains in the game. A woman finds this behavior mystifying.
As the woman watches, the Yorkie displays she is a beast, lean-walking to the yard, pooping with purpose, and decorating the action with a choppy but intent stamp to seal a will to continue. Side-racing to the stairs, the always-almost-dying-dog stops, her body rippling in tremors continuously.
The woman gets a blanket for the Yorkie, wrapping her like a taco, only a small bearded face peeking out. The always-almost-dying-dog shivers and shivers, the woman’s lunch getting colder and colder, staring at the dog the entire time. Minutes pass, one after another, the Yorkie softening like cheese on a sunny day, until eventually the shudders drift away. The eyes of the always-almost-dying-dog have a some-thing in them. It is a not known, though wanted thing, a worth-it-no-matter-what zest that makes breathing and enduring matter-of-factly-always-possible.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Bread Crumbs.

A carpet of leaves layers this way and that, imprinting one upon another, upon another, trailing back to the trunk of the tree, a reminder of where they came from, the origin of their beginning.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Bear Trap.

     Babies and animals have similar characteristics. They eat if hungry, roar when angry, and hide if frightened. It is instinctual to burrow into a corner and play dead when under threat, the action further verified if it works—the attacker leaves or is unable to do further harm. A baby, just like a prey animal, will carry these types of instructional memories with them as they age, running from predators, hiding when possible, fighting if necessary, and burning the experiences into the reptilian part of the brain to further enhance survival skills. By the time the baby becomes a teenager and morphs into an adult, this is no longer theory, but a hardwired truth. A + B = C. More easily grasped minus the algebra; if a bear trap snaps on the neck of a young girl and it finally releases after decades of existence, there is no understanding of being set free. The sharp talons of the mechanism feel embedded even when they are gone, nerve endings still sense danger and pain, terror coiled into a corner under a bed in the dead of night for eternity.
     A bear trap is used for hunting a prey animal, not to kill but to maim. The reason being that if a trapped animal dies too soon, the body will decompose and the meat will be useless. Similarly, an abuser ensnares a child and sets them up for repeat offenses. It is a bear trap snapping around a child’s neck, the pronged collar keeping them pinned for future use.

     Fingering the throat, an ache of decades of restriction is sensed from distant and unfamiliar places. We are still for a very long time, waiting for the sound of the snap to stop echoing in the wind.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Be Wild

     The heart of a young girl, one on the brink of flying is a wild thing, a frothy cyclone swirling on the edge of magnificence, her power un-leashed and un-contained. There is joy, rage, despair, exuberance; along with non-conflicted choice. Tastes are claimed and tossed with equal abandon for reasons that make sense to no one but the cyclone. If a bear trap snaps on the neck of this wild thing, it will thrash until the connection between mind and heart is severed, leaving emotional knowing impossible.

      An ancient bear trap springs open in the Great Sea of Nothing, rust flakes lay scattered across a gaping wound, as nerve endings stutter-flutter for reattachment. The wild thing does not move, unsure if the hunter is nearby or can sense motion. Inside, her cyclone is restrained, having been pinned for a very long time. The young girl hears two words through the ocean sound of nothing.

Be wild.

Thursday, November 2, 2017


     The brain of a newborn is an empty beach devoid of shells, seaweed, or plastic bottles; the sand pristine, no random etchings of screw you violence, nothing to lay claim to childlike wonder. It is the overseers, those tasked with socializing a child, teaching them red means stop and green means go that first and most significantly carve emblems into a blank surface. The privilege of mentoring a new human should have the same cautionary care necessary as artists carving the statue of David or painting the Mona Lisa, but often instead it is handled with the unthinking application of a weed-wacker and a jackhammer.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Broken & Lost Things

          Over the past few days, I’ve shattered a plate and two glasses and maimed the dishwasher. The items slipped from my fingers or jet-propelled themselves mysteriously onto the floor, the dishwasher merely collateral damage from flying glass shards finagling their way into the story. Yesterday, I compiled the totality of destruction, after sweeping up, vacuuming, and scheduling a repairman.
As an exclamation point to a life run amok, the keys to my office vanish. They do this when I am in need of a certificate in my files to renew the letters after my name, signifying to strangers I know what I’m doing.
          That’s hilarious today.
          No, it isn’t.
          To game myself into finding the keys I announce that I do not have to go to the office.
There’s still a couple of weeks before they kick us out of the letter club.
          Within minutes, I remember there is another pocket in my purse, it having disappeared from my understanding for over two hours for no reason at all. The keys are exactly where they always are. This spontaneous discovery of lost things must be similar to what happens when an unleashed memory appears with taste, smells, and feelings attached.
          Today, a decades-old experience rolled in like a swell in the deepest part of the ocean, consuming the sight line until the only thing visible was an ice cream cone. It might have been the three-year-old I saw as I waited in line, his eyes glancing momentarily at me while the rest of him focused on the angle of his mouth circling his vanilla ice cream. Or it was one of those random moments that are embedded in a taste bud and the essence comes to the surface when it sees itself in a mirror. However it happened, I saw her. I saw me at three or maybe four, little black shoes swinging on my feet, an ice cream cone the most important thing in the world.

          Lost things can be found, and what is broken may be glued if all the pieces are collected, and they are patiently held in place. At least that’s the working theory.

  • Last week I was interviewed on WBOM radio by InPrint Writers in Rockford. It may be listened to on YouTube and may be found here. Topics range through healing, meditation, and the creative process. Here are two links for meditation practices I discuss in the interview, Meditation For The Squirrel Brain and 10-Minute Time Out For Stressful Moments.
  • I've found that music lyrics are a way to begin to discern a healing path for broken and lost things. Here is a link to one that I've found helpful. More Than Life by Whitley.