Stumbled upon this site that works to help first nations and indigenous people fight the “progress” foisted upon them by “well-meaning, profit-driven, capitalistic multinationals.
P.S. Watch Rabbit Proof Fence.
Stumbled upon this site that works to help first nations and indigenous people fight the “progress” foisted upon them by “well-meaning, profit-driven, capitalistic multinationals.
P.S. Watch Rabbit Proof Fence.
Because this is how it would go if we date:
You are married.
We have arrived at this awkward place because I naively thought your marriage made you entirely safe and therefore I was comfortable being myself without much of a mask. At some point, the tension will become too much and you will say something suggestive to which I will respond.
We will have a steamy time of sexting banter and you will develop this conviction that I really am what you have always wanted and all that you are missing in your stagnant marriage. I will try to point out that you are in the middle of a very intense guilt fantasy, and I am simply the object of your midlife angst. I will be convinced and convincing. At first you will deny this and try really fervently to show me this is not the case. I will actually begin to believe you just about the time that you realize that it is so.
You will become conflicted, begin to backtrack, panic, and blame me. You will disappear, go dark. I will go into retreat mode after a very short period of trying to keep communication lines open. When I realize that is fruitless, I will lock you into a very tiny dark place in my heart and I will lose a long weekend to being completely overwhelmed by negativity and self-loathing. By Monday I will be pissed and filled with a renewed sense of fuck you, and I will begin to recover and wonder why I let myself get off my own life and wrapped up in the idiocy of your guilt fantasy.
You will eventually miss me to the point that you will make contact. We may or may not have a flare up, but I am done with you and am comforted only by knowing that you wake up and go to sleep thinking about me.
If you are kind of married: long strained, separated
You are the worst kind. See above but add in the feverish manner in which you will attempt to convince me that the only reason you are still with her is convenience for kids or logistics or health insurance. You will be struck by my intelligence and attention. I will be struck by what I wrongly perceive as emotional intelligence by your ability to diagnose the strangely textured mess that is your marriage.
In this scenario, I get suckered in by your explanation and the attention that you are enjoying showering on a woman when actually what is going on is that I just haven’t quite made it to the part where I realize probably the reason your wife isn’t responding to you is that you are a boy in a man suit and she has figured this out. You still love her but you miss her attention. Soon you will realize that I am an actual person with actual children. You will begin to think that I am after you for your resources and you will begin to do the math on the cost of being involved with two households. You will also begin to realize that now that you are considering making a real move, you might as well figure out if I would be the right person to do this with.
You will begin to backtrack and though I will save myself the embarrassment of finding that your dating profile is re-activated, I am pretty sure that it is. You will start to ask me questions that are designed to instill doubt in me, but I won’t have quite figured that out yet. When you test me with the idea that you may never divorce, and I respond very rationally with the scenario of my life energy going toward what takes best care of me and if I am on my own financially, how is that going to feel when my efforts come before you, you are slightly offended.
When you suggest maybe I just like you because you have a good job, I will hate you from my core and know that you understand nothing about me. I will be too passive to break it off right then, but I will lock you into a very tiny dark place in my heart and I will lose a weekend to being completely overwhelmed by feelings of rage and hatred. By Monday I will be pissed and filled with a renewed sense of fuck you, and I will begin to recover and wonder why I let myself get off my own life and wrapped up in the futility of being your toy.
Your wife will eventually get her sense about her and leave. You will eventually date other women and realize what an idiot you were. There will be no flare up. Linking my willingness to trust you and let you in to me wanting you for your money was a bad, bad move.
If you are single
I will make it very clear that I have three kids half time. I will explain that I am volcanic financially, and I’m not in a position to rush into anything. We will be struck by each other’s witty banter and business acumen and we will end up sleeping together way too soon.
I knew this was a bad idea, because you will begin to backtrack and panic almost before morning hits. Though feedback I’ve received would indicate this is not a lack of skill in the intimate arts, I am beginning to wonder. I am not going to rush you into a dark box because this is new territory. Maybe single guys are different than married guys.
At least you answer the phone when I call and ask, “I just want feedback. I’m not trying to stalk you.” You explain that I have three children and am financially volcanic. Most of a Saturday blown out, but mitigated by a text from the married guy who assured me I am still desirable. Whatever.
When you call back months later to ask me for help with a writing project and ask if I’m still sexy, it takes great pains not to tell you to go fuck yourself.
If you are single with kids from five different women
You are such a sweet guy. You are kind, you listen, you tell me I am amazing and you clearly enjoy being around me. You open doors and hold my hand. And then I find out that you would really like to get custody of your youngest daughter and you think I am just the woman to raise her.
There are two reasons that I am not gay. The first is that I am not physically attracted to women. The second is that if I were, women have the same baggage men have.
I lose far too much time wondering why we humans need contact when it seems to be such an impossibility. I lose far too much time wondering why I still want connectivity when I see little evidence of its existence. “Just take your mind off it,” people say, like I’m 13 and having my first crush. Understand this, I’m 46. I get that it doesn’t happen when you are looking for it.
My fear isn’t that I can’t find guys who find me attractive. Shooting fish in a barrel. My fear is that I am creating a decision point somewhere between my head and my heart where I am trying to kill my desire for it. I find myself getting bitter and having a really short leash on anything that smacks of doubt or rejection. I am fighting the belief that I must be somehow defective. If for no other reason than because I don’t even want to try with single available men.
I wonder if distrusting men is in my blood and I am acting out some karmic debt. It makes me sad because I’m kind of fun to be around and I am a generous soul.
Dear Stupid People who swim in a mire of ignorance, racism, paranoia, and religious fervor,
Get off of the Interwebz. Or, stay on the Interwebz, but quit posting content to the Interwebz.
I’m probably just cranky because I found out I’m a man today. I don’t want to be a man. I like men, but I don’t want to be one.
Though my breasts nearly melted off my body from yesterday’s hot yoga class, I do have breasts. I have birthed three children, and though it’s no concern of yours what I do with my vagina, I assure you I have one. (Spoiler alert: the following video does not contain my vagina.)
Unfortunately, however, I am a man because (and the computer graphic in the embedded video says so) my index finger is shorter than my ring finger.
I am not alone though. I share this fate with “Mechelle Obama,” according to the fount of ever-living truth which is the YouTube source for this revelation.
If you want to know more about “God,creation, and where you need to be,” you can track that down through the YouTube link.
In case the title didn’t give it away, this one contains material which may be considered offensive. Video link is very graphic.
What Makes Me Applaud Violence:
One of my very best friends came over and we were catching up. I have known her for 11 years. Our families have spent weekends together, camping and playing games. Her kids are my kids. They are fabulous people. Mean card players.
One of their stunning, smart, funny, articulate, fearless daughters is babysitting for me this summer. I’ve known her since she was five. She now stands about six foot tall. Long blond hair. Completely beautiful girl, inside and out. One of their sons is my Cup O Noodle-eating soul brother. I want my daughter to marry him, but she’s only 11, and he has a girlfriend. He’s a good six-four with smiley blue eyes and a heart of generosity and valor. I’ve known him since he was seven.
Meg mentioned that my soul brother, her son, had had a scuffle at school. “What happened?” I asked.
“One of the boys said he wanted to _____ (sister’s name), so he took him out.”
He punched out a punk kid for being disrespectful about his sister? “Perfect!” I exclaimed.
Sincere. All-in. Fist bump. Teary-from-pride eyes. “If you need any support on that one, I’m first in line behind you,” I told her. Some words don’t need to be spoken, but these were.
The Backstory to Put My Colosseum Fervor into Context:
I’ve been doing some investigative digging at the intersection of rape culture, social media, vigilantism, feminism, power dynamics, gender relations, and free speech. I have daughters and sons and so these topics are important to me on a variety of levels.
It’s been three parts stomach turning and two parts social study. Not surprisingly the concept of “douchebaggery” frequently appears.
I love the word “douchebag.” I would only feel hinkier about admitting that if I had decorum or plausible deniability. Though it does degrade, by association, the feminine care product from which its name derives, “douchebag” describes individuals who practice the baser version of humanity recognized by misogyny, bullying, and exploitation. Sometimes there’s no better word to do the job.
Free speech is a two-headed beast. Free speech does not just protect noble expression. We can say the most reprehensible thoughts imaginable and as long as we don’t threaten imminent harm, we are within the bounds of law. But what does that look like when a drunk high school student’s friend makes a 12-minute video of him laughing about and mocking an unresponsive 16-year-old female student who has possibly been drugged and is being gang-raped and possibly urinated on and posts it on YouTube? Is there anything criminal in that? How can there not be? And yet…
Two of the boys were charged as delinquents for rape (“guilty” for minors), but the coach, whom tweets indicated may have known about the incident the night it happened and who neither reported it nor benched his players when allegations surfaced, got a two-year contract extension. The prosecutor said the girl’s family didn’t originally want to press charges because she didn’t want to be drug through the media mudpit.
Social Media and Bullying:
And tweets and Facebook and pictures…
Amanda Todd, another teen victim of peer douchebaggery, has a tragic tale that serves as both cautionary tale and wake-up call. As a 7th grader, Amanda visited webcams with friends. A guy online sweet-talked her into flashing her chest. One year later, he stalked her online and threatened to distribute her pix far and wide if she didn’t “give him a show.” He did. She didn’t know how he got her info.
Police showed up at her house on Christmas to let her know what had happened. Amanda didn’t press charges because she wanted to move on. Friends turned against her. She became “that girl” among her peers. She suffered major depression. She moved.
Watch the video below for the full story. Slut shaming killed her.
Not just boys are douchebags.
And here’s another one. Kid in high school in Colorado makes the team and gets hazed a la sodomy by his team-mates in the back of the bus on an away tournament. The team did well. Principal’s son is the victim. Dad of victim finds out when his other son hears the coach’s sons bragging about it. Coach’s sons are perpetrators. No lawsuit, no real consequence. Coach is part of influential family in town. Families played together since kids were young. Family of victim is ostracized. They move. Don’t rock the boat, Baby.
Girls aren’t the only victims in the “boys will be boys” douchebaggery.
If you don’t know about the guys in the Guy Fawkes masks, welcome to Anonymous, a loosely organized hacking collective that takes its inspiration from the dystopian cult movie “V for Vendetta.” The group is known for inflicting DDoS attacks on sites they find offensive (banking, corporate, etc.) and hacking into and distributing extracted personal information (DOX) of people whom they target as perpetrators. Their signature announcement is to hack into websites where the perps live with their voice distorted videos, warning the guilty to be on the lookout.
Response to the Steubenville rape divided the community. On one hand there was the “Steubenville law enforcement is covering up for the football team and, by the way, satan lives there.” And on the other hand camped the, “That girl asked for it. How dare she try and break apart the football team?!!” people. The social media attention either hampered the investigation, was responsible for the justice that did prevail, or was a witchhunt, depending on whom you ask.
I want to be able to simultaneously applaud Anonymous AND root for a fair and effective criminal justice system, but I gotta be honest: it’s hard not to side with Batman on this one.
I talked with a spokesman for the Ohio Attorney General’s office who has jurisdiction over the grand jury that is going to reconvene allegedly sometime to see if there are other’s guilty in the Steubenville incident. Though the grand jury has failed to meet on two separate scheduled dates, and no new date had been scheduled as of a week ago. It’s possible that vetting evidence and doing so according to the legal process to make a slam dunk arrest takes time.
I’m writing that and thinking, “Oh, c’mon. How long does it really take if you want to figure something out? I bet they’re just hoping the press will die down and the whole thing will go away.” And I get that. But I also get that getting that just keeps the whole stupid rape culture thing framed in the “boys will be boys and she shouldn’t have been there” BULLSHIT that is the booster banner on our collective mental gymnasium wall right now.
Even if our daughters make shitty decisions to go to parties without a cadre of friends who have each others backs… even if, like Amanda Todd, they are complete morons and flash their boobs to guys they don’t know online, couldn’t we agree that we are always going to take the side of the person who gets unwelcomed things shoved into their orifices?
Deric Lostutter, the leader of the band who headed up the Steubenville campaign is facing a five to ten times longer incarceration for being involved in the hacking of the team’s website. I did mention above that the coach got a contract extension, right?
A journalist named Alexander Abad-Santos has created tremendous coverage on the case.
The Problem with Vigilantes:
…which works really nicely until they accidentally identify the wrong person. In the case of Amanda Todd, Anonymous ID’d Kody Maxson who, clearly a douchebag as winner of an online underage naked girl screenshot video award, was exonerated on all charged attached to Todd’s case.
…or until they get pissed at Israel and blame them for heinousness in general. I like Israel.
The Room Where Bunny Trails Collide:
What’s the “So What?” here? We have kids, some of us. We are familiar with the idea of kids, the rest of us. Kids aren’t supposed to have to negotiate the messed up world of vindictive little bitches with access to Facebook pages or school-wide bullying based on unchangeable attributes. One of my daughters is approaching middle school. I want her to be safe. I want her to have fun. I want to tell her how to stay away from douchebags without her having to know the extent of the potential douchebaggery. I want her to find the making of dorky unicorn videos hysterical for at least another decade and emerge from that phase at some point in her mid-20’s ready to be respected for the tremendously valuable soul that her body houses.
I have sons. Eventually they will have puppy crushes and wind up on some flat surface with a girl. How do they stay out of lawsuits? “They shall remain virgins!” you proclaim? Um, okay.
I want there to be a clear difference between good and bad and I want there to be justice however it happens.
To give you the best I have come up with so far, I am going to provide a bunch of links. I hope they help you. Feel free to attach more and share your thoughts in general.
(This reads more like a disjointed list of thoughts than anything resembling a cogent position. About six different blogs co-jangled, but here’s a draft.)
In my heart, I am a yogini, adroitly maneuvering the spectrum of flexibility that spans from the physical to the existential.
In my thighs and neck, I see a different reality.
Through the opaque cage that is my internal world, I can see the powerful and prolific Creative banging her egg tooth against that shell.
In my body of work, I see a lot of “not there yet.”
And yet the literature reads that “I am enough.” When vendors begin taking the ever renewing essence that is me as payment, I will have more peace with this idea.
Getting familiar with one’s Creative process is just a voluminous pain in the ass. And by that I mean a blend of kind of cool and really goddamn hard.
Journalism is a nod to potential truce between creativity and logistical sustenance. It’s at least intellectual discipline and writing practice.
So copyright: the ramble
On one hand Creatives deserve to be compensated for their efforts.
On the other hand, we live in a mashup world and nothing is truly original.
It seems to be all about the money, the ability to finance the work, and the tenuous dance between creating and eating. But it’s really also all about expression and art and fun and responding to each other’s stuff.
In the video below, Andy Baio explains the challenge that the mashup culture brings to the tentative courtship between the creative process and existing copyright laws. It is lengthy and worth the time if this is your thing.
Nothing is Original:
Try to create an imaginary world where you borrow nothing from this one.
Gravity? Sorry, that’s ours.
Ecosystems? Somebody else got there first.
Suppose you could create original characters not based on our humanoid physiology, could you do the same thing for conflict? It took me 15 seconds in a Google search and a quick skim of this article to find which seven conflicts and plots Annie Evett identifies. It is plausible that Evett compiled the list from other compiled lists. I’d heard about the idea of limited plottery “somewhere” which gave me the idea to type in “how many original plots.” I could have also checked here or here. In this one, and this one I found the argument that expands the mathematical complexity by factoring in variables such as genre and plot motivations (internal v. action for its own sake).
All links above are well-written, and each author took the time to flavor and frame the information with unique examples, but the information is basically the same.
Same with songs: only so many story arcs to fit into those stanzas.
So what is the original essence of any work that is protectable?
What good does it do for journalists to copyright straight news? Not like events unfold according to some evenly assigned inherent proprietary rights. Press is free, information is free. But what the hell does that mean for journalists (and artists) who want to make money with their work?
What will be the fallout of everyone having access to media capture and instant distribution? We’re in the process of severing the last tendon of the intermediary’s neck and now find the only threats to full free-flowing access of everything all the time no matter what are copyright lawsuits, bandwidth, non-hacked servers, and government staying out of the way. Well, and of course decency and civility.
Conspiracy theory disclaimer: I have difficulty envisioning government and media conglomerates allowing financial flow to be redistributed to the artist class without a squawk. Also when the internet is largely used to create groundswell support against large corporations who lobby lawmakers and who, some feel, threaten our environment and food supply, one wonders how long the freedom will be unfettered. End rant.
I am relatively certain that as I work my way through this topic, I will come to value the Creative process and the people who surrender to it far more than I will the middlemen who make the money off of them and the power brokers who try to tell them what they can say. I bow in awe to the platforms that facilitate the distribution (FB, Google, Vimeo, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) – and the concept of a copyright law that protects creators from outright pilfer.
And I suspect I will feel guilty or inadequate somehow that I don’t have the energy to carry the banner of: “Go ahead and take my stuff. I’ll just make more!”
To be other than relatively equal parts of sheer terror and quivering excitement about the changes and opportunities coming is to not be paying attention. I don’t apologize for that because I am in between.
“The future belongs to a different kind of person with a different kind of mind: artists, inventors, storytellers-creative and holistic “right-brain” thinkers whose abilities mark the fault line between who gets ahead and who doesn’t.
“Drawing on research from around the world, Pink (author of To Sell Is Human: The Surprising Truth About Motivating Others) outlines the six fundamentally human abilities that are absolute essentials for professional success and personal fulfillment–and reveals how to master them. A Whole New Mind takes readers to a daring new place, and a provocative and necessary new way of thinking about a future that’s already here.”
Haven’t written a lot due to psychic strain from MASSIVE and WONDERFUL internal shifting. It’s the opposite of writer’s block: it’s content overload. Per usual, I would prefer to have all the insights gathered in a tidy satchel; but I’m finding that by sitting on the shore scooping up nuggets to put in my bag, I am missing the bigger flow. I don’t just want to extract nuggets, I also want to create my own stories and reach more people with them. I jumped into the river and am learning to embrace the messy. Please bear with me as I write more infrequently than I like and more deeply than I can even follow upon re-reading 😉
The louder the wild woman inside me roars, the more tension I have with my deep desire to have all people like and approve of me. We’ll be hitting critical mass soon, at which point I will just be who I am comfortably. There’s intuitive mourning going on as I’m certain there will be unintended consequences and more sifting of my support group.
A couple of weeks ago, I went to see my nephew ‘dabble at play-acting‘ in his college’s theater program. To and fro, I listened to a fabulous collection of folk tales told by Jungian Psychoanalyst and college professor, Clarissa Pinkola Estes about the Crone. (Sit on your hands, Christian folk, the Crone isn’t a witch.)
Clarissa speaks of the Crone as an experienced woman, not blank, but one whose slate has been written upon. She uses her wisdom to guide the tribe, generations, and the self into a balanced and connected whole. We don’t operate fully without all of us being engaged. Her stories include the jester, the cycle of life, (the fascinating and pre-sanitized version of) Jack and the beanstalk, and in all of these she reminds us that our voice, our Creative energy, and our life-affirming spark of hope exist independent from our physical years. And though it will nauseate our children, she speaks beautiful stories of passionate love decades past the time when AARP membership becomes viable. She speaks of embracing the wealth of aging. Obviously I love her.
The Crone sees from the ariel view, and isn’t afraid to speak from that place. Yes, established religion (not God) is oft-challenged by such raw insight and throughout history people who aren’t awed by the influence of those with religious control have a history that ends in BBQ. But the Crone’s message is one of ‘dig deeper,’ ‘live more fully,’ and ‘behave — barely.’ Whether with plants or stories, she aims to heal, find meaning, and loose the stories within us. Again, love.
Yesterday was gorgeous here, and I had to get outside. I drove to Beacon Rock on a lark (left the house planning on a new set of earphones and a walk along the McMenamin’s promenade, but once headed east, got lured by the Columbia Gorge’s siren-call.)
It was another beautiful day in nature wherein our beautiful Earth and I communed magnanimously and uninterrupted. Perfect! Reaching the top of Beacon Rock I found I had the place to myself. This has never happened! I would be lying if the thought of ripping my shirt off didn’t occur — just something about being outside in the sun on a beautiful day on top of the core of an old volcano that makes a girl want to fly free…
It was marvelous!
About 2/3 of the way down the path, I heard what sounded like a guy on a cell phone. Peaking over the handrail, I saw a guy and a girl trudging up the hill. She was walking ahead and he was behind talking on his cell phone. C’mon, really? A few days earlier I’d seen a headline: ‘Is your wife happily married?’ It came to mind.
Before acknowledging my cavernous leap to judgment, I listened to figure out what he was talking about. Family emergency, IT troubleshooting, something to justify talking on his cell phone instead of communing with the lovely woman who had joined him on this trudge? Before leaping STRAIGHT into someone’s business, I want to rule out a justifiable reason for being a complete dick to one’s girlfriend. Only fair.
A couple switchbacks closer — just below me now — he said into his phone, ‘Oh, just hook it to your rear-view mirror,’ followed by some laughing and more small talk. Thirty seconds later we met at the corner. She was behind him now. He put his conversation on hold to give me a big smile and say hello. He was not unattractive. She looked invisible.
I nodded to him and passed him. He rounded the corner.
“Is he your boyfriend?” I asked her.
“Yes,” she said quietly.
“Tell him to hang up,” I said as I walked by.
He must have hung up. From two switchbacks away, I heard him ask, “What did she say to you?”
“She said you should hang up.”
Being a Crone is going to be a lot of fun.
I don’t have a penis, but if I did and if it was important to me to know it’s dimensions compared to other area penises, I would use this question as a diagnostic tool. Nothing says ‘My identity is based on how I perform, and particularly in comparison to you’ quite as much as this question. Let’s listen in:
“What do you do?”
“I am an artisan,”
“Then allow me to fetch your slippers as I am a humble peasant with, and this may seem odd, access to your closet.”
Nothing good there. Comparison. No room for connection.
Also, lack of interest. Asking ‘What do you do?’ easily dooms a conversation to mindless lines of inquiry like ‘And what IS the primary line of insurance you write’ or ‘How do you choose which flooring vendors to use?’ What human on Earth wants to ask OR answer those questions? Are you even reading still? Exactly.
Answering the question is no easier. Is the person asking how I make money, what is important to me, or who I am? I over-think things. It’s what I do. I don’t make money, and I could talk for days on the other two. Shall we get a refill?
What I dislike is that ‘What do you do?’ leaves too much to position on REALLY STUPID things. Chicks / Guys dig me more. My watch requires insurance. My driver kicks your bus pass’s ass!
I don’t believe in the power-over dynamic as a way to engage with other people. To my way of thinking, if we have been brought together, it is because we have something to share with each other. It probably doesn’t have to do with how we pay rent or who can support the bigger debt load. Our challenge is to find out what we have for each other in the places that really matter: connection, interest, encouragement.
This afternoon I was at a mingle mingle for a dear friend of mine who is retiring. She is funny, smart, loyal, and team-oriented. She sells insurance to fund her habit of mentoring disadvantaged girls and helping young business women get established (and Habitat for Humanity and Rotary…) because she and her husband are passionate about building other people. Asking this woman ‘What do you do?’ would not uncover that.
I was standing at a tall table, awkwardly, with a group of women I’d never met. I was contemporaneously chairing a committee meeting in my head at which we were discussing the merits of learning how to do casual conversations as a means of not scaring people away. I had made the point that chit chat bores the ever-living crap out of me — thankfully, not out loud — when a woman I had briefly talked to in line approached the table. She provided a painless distraction for everyone looking for a casual chance to flee.
She had mentioned she was related to my friend. I was thinking, ‘I am sure I will like you because you are close with someone I respect a great deal, so let’s find something in common.’ We tried valiantly with the chit chat, but it was simply painful, so I broke down and asked, ‘How do you most like to create?’
She lit up!
‘My husband and I were just talking about that,’ she said. And she excitedly explained an idea she has been dreaming about. She glowed. Speaking, writing, healing. Her heart is ready and her Soul is calling, and just like that, in the middle of an awkward mingle mingle, by asking a real question to a person who also doesn’t like chit chat, I found another a new friend!
I have conversations with the people I don’t scare away 😀
^^ That’s good, right?
Having just come from getting fingerprinted so I can teach in the local schools, I was sitting in my car emailing a response to my friend about a Creativity Circle she is orchestrating. Hell yeah — I’ll hit that! Part of my self-defined Creativity Quest and Dragon Whispering syllabus includes a weekly meditation workbook by Lynn V. Andrews called The Love and Power Journal. Guess what it’s about? Making room for Love and walking in Personal Power.
Week Five’s assignment is to be mindful of mirrors: those upside-the-head-with-a-wet-fish slappers that we dismiss in our-whacked out, dis-integrated Western lifestyle. Think heart-grabbers, emotional triggers, places where we get stuck, and surprise meetings. These things facilitate our spiritual and emotional health if we can discern them when they show up and extract from them their lessons. It is worthwhile to attend to these ‘mirrors’.
I’m still in the car, clumsily emailing from my phone: yes, sign me up for the Creativity Circle! when my eye discerns activity. I look up.
An oversized, dingy-pink fleece zip up jacket and grey stretch-waistband pants carry a nondescript woman down the alley, cardboard fruit crate in tow. They weave their way over to a motley batch of soon-to-be-discarded buckets and bags of potting soil loitering at the side of my garage. As the responsibility of a procrastinator, the buckets and bags may be there for some time, so I generously hop out of the car to offer her the chance to take them off my hands. I’m a giver. (It is that kind of neighborhood. Had a guy take a gas stove off my porch and thanked him sincerely for asking.)
“Hey, feel free to take any of that stuff if you could use it.”
The nondescript woman begins to speak. She has no teeth. “My husband died a week ago of a heart attack. I don’t have a home, and I am looking for food.”
Sensing a shift in agenda, I offer the arms-length suggestions that come naturally. “Have you tried any of the shelters?” [I’m already thinking about what I have in my car that can help this woman. Without getting too involved. Ah, a bag of clothes about to be donated (truth be told, they’ve been in the trunk about as long as the bucket/bag gang squatting next to my garage). I just bought a big water and some Mango Green Tea from Trader Joe’s. Internal dialogue racing: ‘The Green Tea: really? Can’t we keep that?” I hope she doesn’t ask for a sleeping bag. Mine’s a good one.]
“Yes, they won’t take a woman by herself unless she has a husband or a child. I went to the places where they serve meals and they just say ‘kitchen closed’.” I would be more skeptical if I hadn’t called for resources to help in the event that my ex went postal when I left. (He didn’t of course, but I felt better knowing what was at my disposal, and… not much.)
“You were living somewhere a week ago. What happened to your house?” I’m out of the car now, somewhere between suspicion and Pollyanna, heading to the trunk for that sweater.
“His family came in and kicked me to the curb. And they took my grand-daughter,” she follows me to the trunk. “I haven’t eaten for four days, and I keep praying but God isn’t answering. Maybe He’s testing my faith.”
Okay, well there’s its own book.
When my kids grow up, I hope they aren’t still expecting me to tell them what to eat for dinner, and yet I understand need. I’ve spent $400 on organic gluten free shopping sprees which included agar agar, bean flour, Himalyan sea salt, and organic beets. I’ve also stood in the line at DSHS, hoping to get my kids on state insurance. I don’t judge quite as much. But still need is disconcerting. My own mostly. Other people’s by an order of degrees. And guess what? The bottom feels rickety.
She extends her hand. “I am Sandy, she says.” Her pointer finger has a small open cut on it. I shake around that and make a note to wash with plenty of soap and warm water.
“Hi, Sandy. I’m Kaley. Sounds like you’re in a spot, huh?”
And here is need. Hungry and without teeth, asking for a blanket and a book. “I really like to read.” Though I don’t have a lot of extra resource right now, I have enough to help. Even without dipping into anything that would really impact me to give, I have plenty to give.
We go through my trunk and find a baseball cap, some Christmas-Book lifesavers, a pair of pants to go with the sweater. I say, “This Mango Tea is probably too heavy to carry?”
“You’d be surprised what you can carry.” In a cardboard fruit crate. Fine. This is a worthy cause.
Sandy steps onto my porch as I go inside. Prudent to leave her outside? Feel guilty for not inviting her in? For a bath. For a meal. I get plastic bags in various sizes (ad hoc suitcase, staying dry, bartering), some apples, some of those new individually-sized Jiffy peanut butter packs, cheese sticks, pretzles, crackers. (I’m thinking fats and proteins. It’s cold tonight.) Zach really likes the Rajneeshy colored checkered blanket, but he won’t notice it’s gone. Jane Eyre.
I meet Sandy back on the porch. We cram provisions into her house-in-a-box. She tells me her husband was her soulmate. They got pregnant their first night together and he looked at her and said, “I hope you’re pregnant.” Their ‘perfect son’ Sebastian is heading home from deployment in a week. Only son, so the Service is letting him out. “I’ve got some money saved up, Mom,” he told her. Just keep it together for a week. We’ll get her back,” Sebastian was referring to her grand-daughter and, I presume, his daughter. Sandy tears-up telling me about him and her soon-to-be rescue, and I am reminded that we are all just a breath away from being stripped as humans. Again: it feels rickety at the bottom.
“You know, I woke up under Burnside Bridge this morning and there was a Bible next to me. You might think I’m losing it, but I could feel my guardian angel standing there watching over me,” Sandy recounted. “And I could feel a tear. She said, ‘Don’t worry, Sandy. Today you will meet someone who will show you great kindness… I think it might be you,'” she tells me.
And I had been thinking the same thing. I am to be on the lookout for unusual situations that are gifts to teach me what I need to learn. I’m just not sure what I’ve learned yet. It was satisfying to be able to help someone with very simple things. It felt good to engage with real need and be able to help without getting lost in it — helping others adds to us, maybe… The comment about God testing her hit a nerve, and not sure what that’s all about. I’m still growing into the idea of taking responsibility for my reality, and I don’t like the passive victim of fate that was my story for so long. I don’t like the feeling of waiting for a rescue: it is disempowering. It will take me days to process this mirror more…
Sandy with no teeth because her grandparents made her brush her teeth with salt. Sandy who really misses her recently deceased husband and all the more because her first husband brainwashed her and locked her up for seven years. Sandy who is heading over to stay at a condemned motel on 78th and Hway 99 until her son gets back from overseas to help her out. “Some guy told me to take some of his rat bait if I was going to stay there, but rats are the least of my worries. I think they’re afraid of me.” Hmm. I hadn’t thought about rat bait in my preparation for the apocalypse. Makes sense.
“Sometimes it’s a good thing to have people be afraid of you,” I offered sagely. I’m imagining life on the streets for a woman.
“Bless you, Kaley,” said Sandy, and off she went.
“Bless you, Sandy.”
Last week we were collectively raped by a troubled young adult whose supreme act of cowardice and evil resulted in the tragic passing of 26 souls. We are shocked; we are violated beyond reckoning; we are pisssssssed. We are filled with questions, mostly unformed, which swirl around the central theme of WHAT. THE. FUCK?!!
And we are looking for someone to blame because we need this fixed and we need it to go away. NOW. This is one of the ways we process the rage fueled by powerlessness.
We’ve all sat in front of the TV before, humming our ‘oh-dear-we-need-to-do-something’ mantras somewhere along the spectrum between raw brokenness and those-poor-bastards-over-there-ism. But this time it is different. He targeted our kids.
So we have taken up our pitchforks, and in an effort to assuage our limbic fear, we have formed two mobs and are lunging at each other with our pokey tines. We are calling each others’ mobs names and we are being quite ugly toward one another. At least I am. I had to stop engaging on the topic of guns with some of my dearest friends because I realized every person truly only needs one exit for excrement and there are better ways to use my words. (I am, though, still waiting for the email from the guy who offered to send me a picture of his genitalia to prove that it is bigger than my hillbilly brain. And I might have threatened to post it on FB because, and I’m not going to lie, I love a good fight.)
About the time I was getting caught up in the energy caused by engaging with the open-minded liberal who had just called me a pussy, a dear friend of mine — a school teacher — posted about her day. Her high schoolers had been asking questions, making requests that would make them feel more safe.
Would she put some paper on the window? Yes.
Would she lock the door? Yes.
“Mizz Ed, would you take a bullet for us?”
To which Mizz Ed responded with teary-eyed conviction, “Every one of us in this building would.”
They needed to know that.
The night of the incident, I was reading an article entitled “How do deal with violent children.” I wanted to know why his mom and dad didn’t keep us safe from their nut job son. I can’t believe they were ignorant that he had issues and that they weren’t trying to get him help. No parent WANTS this for their kid.
Matt saw the title of the article. He’d just kneed his brother in the butt for hogging the WII remote and been met with the perfect amount of scolding. “Why are you reading an article about violent children?” He was wanting to know if his butt-kneeing was grievous enough to the taken to the Internet gods for a ruling. “No, Sweetie, I’m just upset by this whole thing today and I don’t understand how somebody can be so icky.”
They started talking about their lock down drills, so we snuggled up together on the couch while they told me about them. They sit on the rug, very quietly while the teacher locks the doors and puts paper on the windows.
1) What fucked up world has kids going through lock-down drills?
2) Thank you, teachers, for putting the kids through lock down drills.
Talk about lock down drills led to talk about their building and how it’s built for their safety. How the teachers are trained to keep them safe. How every parent that they see would absolutely do anything in their power to keep them safe. How law enforcement is trained and ready to protect them. How we as a family will keep each other safe. How the entire rules of the road are built around school buses. Because we are a society who loves our kids, and if there is one thing that brings us together as humans, it is the safety of our kids.
I left out that when something breaches that code, we feel brutally ripped apart. Together. They’re kids. They haven’t forgotten that yet.
We do this. We protect each other. We don’t fight each other with pitchforks and leave the real issues unaddressed and all of us more vulnerable. We become grounded, and proactive, and we expand to allow complexity and nuance as we walk together toward our solutions.
I’m including a link to an essay written by a mom of a kid at high risk of going wonky. It is very powerful, and it reveals the complexity we face and the ardent need for a proactive address of what we are up against as a society. Let’s do this the right way, Tribe. I promise not to post the picture.
(Brene Brown writes an outstanding book about shame called I Thought It Was Just Me, But It’s Not. Excellent discussion on the insidious rooting of shame which keeps us separated from each other.)