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Monday, December 2, 2019

A Naked Heart

Filters have controlled people's behavior for so long and thoroughly, I have sensed a deep longing for people to be seen and heard wafting from the collective bones of us—our spirit—when we encounter an opportunity to bloom.

“If we walk far enough,” says Dorothy, “we will sometime come to someplace.”
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

What I noticed about the Introduction to Storytelling and Solo Performance class I recently co-produced with Jack Schultz of Green Shirt Studios, is that it mimicked the audience's reaction to Jack Schultz's solo performance I’m Falling in Love All the Time that same evening—a hunger to witness and speak from the heart.

As terrified as many of the students were in the solo class, they found ways to courageously share by assisting each other and letting themselves freely speak. When the solo performance ended and loved ones told of their experiences with those who had suffered from addiction, the thread weaving through Jack’s deeply personal story, the communal connection in the room was palpable. Compared to the communal disconnection often felt either in person or on social media, the transformative power of the type of engagement that occurred in both the storytelling class and the after-solo discussion could not be missed.

“He is my dog, Toto,” answered Dorothy. “Is he made of tin or stuffed?” asked the Lion. “Neither. He’s a…a…a…meat dog,” said the girl.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

I witnessed those who thought they'd never be able to tell a story in the class and people in the audience overcome entrenched public speaking shyness/anxiety to find their voices. And after doing what had been personally considered out of an individual's scope of practice, there came a collective, joyous spike in awakeness, awareness, alertness, and humanness that I'll never forget.

At the end of the evening, I checked in with Jack, as a primary component of his solo expression is revealing the grief he carries after losing his brother to a heroin overdose. In his performance, he shares this question “What do we do with the love for the people we’ve lost?” Walking up to Jack, he grinned without speaking. I was struck by how joyous he appeared after opening his heart to a room full of strangers.

“How do you feel?” I asked, though it seemed a redundant question.

“You have plenty of courage, I am sure,” answered Oz. “All you need is confidence in yourself. There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid, and that kind of courage you have in plenty.”
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Jack’s joy enveloped his entire body, I could feel him nearly clap with glee. “Great! It went well, it felt good out there, and I was able to stay present!”

“I was able to stay present.”

When Jack continued, he discussed what that meant—staying present while trotting a naked heart out into the jungle that is humanity.

“Lions, and tigers, and bears, ohmy.”
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Jack spoke of how he managed to be present, in his body while emotionally connecting with other people, not only during the performance, but also afterward during the open discussion and then with me when I asked how he felt. He offered compelling testimony of what it might be like to be real.

“When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
The Velveteen Rabbit

“Yeah, it’s hard having those feelings for my brother in front of people, but when I sense they get it and are following along with me…its freeing and a connection all at once. I feel more alive.”

My face must have looked dubious.

“I won’t say it’s easy. There have been times when I’ve performed this and dialed it in, the audience got the story and not the emotion. I couldn’t do it. And that’s okay. It’s part of me learning how to be present.”

Later by email, our conversation moved onto how Jack’s theatrical background and study of the Meisner Approach may be the grounding wire that’s helping him do this kind of performance work and stay present in front of an audience. I’m considering signing up for a Meisner Intensive Class that begins next weekend (12/7/19). The shrieking sound of my inner-freak-out is likely echoing through this typeface.

Since the class and performance, Jack’s vibrant, joyous face after spilling his guts in public has stirred my cup of tea.

“He longed to become Real, to know what it felt like; and yet the idea of growing shabby and losing his eyes and whiskers was rather sad. He wished that he could become it without these.”
The Velveteen Rabbit

Scary. Unsettling. Stripping the heart down to a naked spirit and exposing it to the jungle.

That’ll likely hurt.

My cup of tea is clearly in motion. I’ll try not to splash the audience—overmuch.

My Name Is Taboo.

The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those who speak it. 
George Orwell

A couple of years ago I got a tattoo. Not one of those tiny hummingbirds on my upper thigh and only seen by my husband and dermatologist. I'm painted with a big splash of feathers across my upper chest that is impossible to ignore—though some do try.

I see those folks, their eyes scuttling from my tattoo back up to my eyes in an up-down motion, furtive and at times ashamed, as though they are looking deep in my undie drawer and have found a red lacy pair inscribed with "spicy". I find these people incredibly interesting. All that horrified-at-themselves and inability-not-to-look agony. It comes to me as self-shaming within a crowd of one.

OMG is that a tattoo?

Who would get such a big tattoo?

Does she think that looks good?

Uh-oh, does she know I'm silently judging her?

Shit. That makes me bad or something, right?

STOP looking at the tattoo.


Shit. I am that bad person.

There are others who can't keep from judging out loud, their in-side voices escaping the lips to run amok in the vegetable aisle.

"That's a big tattoo you've got there."

At my "oh-here-we-go" nod, they continue.

"Why'd you get it?"

The face of the person typically scrunches up as though an overripe melon has gone bad and the stink has invaded their airspace. I occasionally feel compelled to toy with this appalled-state they've landed in with one of several snarky replies.

"Why'd I get what?" while dead-stare-daring them in the eyeballs to gesture at my flock of feathers or in a super-mean mood I state with purposeful offhandedness "Was drunk on tequila and held down by witches." or meaner still and naked-to-the-bone "It was something I promised myself to do if I survived my childhood."

The latter, closer to the truth than I want to fully explain in the grocery store, is designed to get the person to skedaddle to the frozen section with freshly "oh-god-why-did-I-ask" slapped cheeks.

Telling the truth is a beautiful act, even if the truth itself is ugly.
Glen Duncan

I've had a few people manage to throttle on past my snark, their in-side voices so disconnected from what is being said that they obtusely toss additional layers of tar, feathers, and tomatoes.

"In my family, we don't believe in tattoos." or "Aren't you afraid of what it will look like when you're old-ER?" or my personal fave "Ever wish you could go back in time and change your mind?"

My name is Taboo.

I have a long list of things people judge me on, my tattoos only one of them.

The way I parent and my beliefs, how deep the leaves get in my yard before I do something about them, the Buddhas without corresponding Jesuses in my office, the color(s) of my hair, size of my ass, and even the curious cluster of bumps on my forehead (Can't you have them removed? No, I can't). There's the incorrigible behavior of my dogs, vibrant hues of my kitchen, "how dare I gleefully wear yoga pants outside of yoga class," and horror-upon-horrors, that I publically admit to seeing a therapist for more than a simple brush-out.

But the most contentious and likely items to elicit discomfited rage that may eventually lead to ostracization are my resistance to forgive abusers without receiving an "I'm sorry," not forcing myself to remain in contact with intolerant family members, and choosing not to shut up about or nice up the realities of living in a world that traumatizes instead of heals.

This lengthy list of why-would-you-do-it-that-ways and taboos doesn't contain the events I haven't yet found the words to speak about. These are the terribly-terribles most people don't want to witness—the kind of damage done in secret by abusers who use silence to get away with it.

Among other, more salacious definers, I've been labeled blabber-mouth, snitch, tattle-tale, liar, bitch, "it," and drama queen. Family members, and in other subversive ways, society, have cordoned me off for choosing not to hide what harm was done to me and sharing the odious, not-pretty, and disturbing lengths it is taking me to recover—if recovery is even possible.

We are living in a time of tipping points.

Our planet is tipping us off it, using ever more violent and uncontrollable means to get us to coexist in a healthy manner. Governments have been tipping into authoritarianism to contain people thinking outside the lines that were drawn in ever-evolving sand. Hatred has tipped the scales of justice and humanity, bringing civil societies to the brink of chaos.

No legacy is so rich as honesty.
William Shakespeare

Every tipping point has a counter-measure, something that could pull humanity back from free-fall, a life-line that might ground us for a sustainable future. The truth is, humans are not only the good parts. We each have very bad parts; traits and experiences that are terribly-terrible. I'm of the opinion our free-fall counter-measure is to learn how to face who we are by no longer dictating what is talked about, to wholly witness our taboos—the bad and the ugly, the scary and the horrendous, along with the hidden and the dangerous aspects of this life for the purpose of our healing.

When symptoms of pain and illness in a body are ignored or covered over, it often ends tragically. Our global tattoos are no longer going to sit quietly beneath clothing and leave us to nice-up the out-side while the in-side shushes and rots.

Truth will ultimately prevail where there is pains to bring it to light.
George Washington

It is time to open-up, listen-up, and heal-up.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

Vichyssoise Lightning Bugs

Photo by Em'me

What I don’t know is vast, the information an endless breath rolling over the frontal cortex of my brain, allowing me to assume nothing—I am not what I appear and also without fact. This condition makes who I am anomalous. Giving me a name counterintuitive and pixie-like, as it continually changes, the reflection making me impossible to define.

In some cases, this condition could make the carrier frenetic, unhinged, despondent, and so mercurial as to make them unmanageable. I am occasionally of that condition, my woe of it almost a death wish, asking but not imbibing in the pleasure of an ending. It would indeed be a pleasure, in so far as it would lay bare the unbearable state of my un-being. Isn’t that what it is? This non-definition of self? The continual unveiling of another aspect left in the sink as a shred that's come undone from the main course. 

It is me, the many-minded, who carries essences of whatever was never. It is me that walks with ghosts of those who could not be. It is me. It is me. It is me. We are not allowed the vichyssoise of self—pureed into sublime perfection, instead separate essences—not a whole potato or leeks, only the perfume left behind after they have been chopped to bits.

This mercurial state is of importance and also not. Interchangeable lightness with a state of darkness, as each of me is both. Wisps of delectable golden flecks—a lightning bug as it glimmers in a wood too-too far from touch that is transfixed with a blackness so inky no octopus would own the trail. As such, the length of my appendages, each coiled or flying too far, reach toward and against a life that is less than it could ever have been. The whole of us, unmanaged and left behind is soggy, limp, and without focus, even as a few tendrils strive for the sky.

Here we are. Here we rest. Here we wait. Wondering. Wondering if there is a way back to me and if the trail will be as vast as we are, glitter-filled lightening bugs, their own vichyssoise perfume waving them yonder, with an end that is impossible to see.

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.