People Have Told Us

At home my mother and brother and I move in quiet orbits around one another in the heavy silence that filled the house after the flowers and family were gone. People have told us we need to move on. To get back to work. To go back to school. I’m told I should go to the next soccer game. Behind these words is the well-meaning but useless idea that routine breeds normalcy, that recovery is just around the corner. But this encouragement strikes me as being born of selfishness: these people cannot bear to see how grief has cleaved our lives.

~Rose Whitmore
from The Odds of Injury
published in The Sun (February 2014)

Posted in Favorite Things, Grief, Musings, Quotes | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Difference Between a Cowboy and Urban Youth

Not an officer, a civilian. Taking aim at federal agents.

Not an officer, a civilian. Taking aim at federal agents.

Cliven Bundy,

You don’t get to be special. You don’t get to insist that others play by the rules while you flout them. You don’t get to point your high-powered rifle at federal agents because you want to continue stealing.
Let’s flip the story for a minute. Let’s say there is a young man living in a city. Let’s say he breeds dogs to help support his family. Maybe he uses an empty building owned by someone else to house his dogs. This man decides he doesn’t like the terms of his lease, a lease deemed fair by his state government and his federal government. He refuses to pay his rent. So police and federal agents come to the building to evict his dogs from the premises. He gets his friends together with their weapons and trains those weapons on the agents. He and his friends refuse to leave or to pay the rent owed. How would this play out on Hannity? How would the story read on Fox News? Would the cowboy militias be headed in to give aid to the renter?

Clive and his "militia"

Clive and his “militia”

The truth is, Mr. Bundy, the only difference is in the color of your skin and the way you dress. There is nuance to any story, of course there is and I’ll gladly admit I am not privy to all of it. The fact remains that the land is owned and protected by the federal government. We tasked the Bureau of Land Management with protecting wild lands, plants and animals. You can pay rent to graze a limited number of cattle on that land. You refuse. That is theft. Threatening agents with bodily harm by training rifles on them is thuggery.
The death of some of your herd as reported by those in attendance is a tragedy. One that rests solely on your shoulders. You move your cattle or the landowners will. I’ve seen friends evicted before, they don’t box your stuff up nice and neat, it goes into a dumpster.
I know people who bristled at Harry Reid referring to these so-called militia members as “domestic terrorists” but what else should we call people who threaten the lives of federal agents in order to support thievery? I’m okay with “domestic terrorist” but we can go with “gangster” if that suits you better.

Signed,
An Actual Law-Abiding American

The Daily Show takes on the story.
As usual, very much worth the few minutes it takes to watch.

Part One:
Apocalypse Cow

Part Two – Welfare Rancher:
Welfare Rancher

Posted in Crime, Politickery, PSA, Snark, Social Politics, Some People are FUCKED UP | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

You and Me and Hootie and the Blowfish

How can anyone know? Every major belief system, including so-called nonbelief systems such as atheism and nihilism, is built upon a fantastic premise: All matter exploded and congealed somehow into you and me and Hootie and the Blowfish. God inseminated a virgin whose child saved the world. A frog hiccuped and the prairies blossomed. I can’t come up with a better story than those, so I remain an astounded witness to a vast mystery arranged in remarkable order.

Through experience and skepticism I’ve arrived pretty much at what the conventional religions teach: A central moral code. A belief not only in forces creative and destructive but also regenerative. An embrace of sacrifice. Little in the way of wisdom and enlightenment came for Jonah until he was swallowed by that fish, and it was the same for me until I was swallowed by reality. Getting smashed to bits gave me humility, gratitude, and the ability to love and appreciate my fellow humans. Everyone gets smashed to bits; it’s your best opportunity to grow.

~Poe Ballantine
in an interview with Caleb Powell
published in The Sun (February 2014)

 

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Spewing into the Universe

I’ve stopped using Facebook for a while. My sister passed away and everything just got so *noisy*. I can’t even talk about her death here the way I did with my uncle’s in the last post because it’s too close. I wouldn’t even know what to say. Eventually, I’m sure I’ll be able to write something about it. For now I’ll say that grief is weird and not what I expected.

For the first couple of weeks away from FB I felt nothing but relief. Then I started feeling, in addition to relief, like I still wanted to toss some words out into the ether. But I remain averse to the noise. So I’m coming here for now.

I recently finished this season of The Walking Dead and I have to say, if you gave up after season 2 and 3 got weird, I feel sorry for you. This was some of the best character development I’ve ever seen in tv. All of it was great, Rick and Carl especially stand out, and then Carol and Tyrese and the girls, but the storyline that takes place around Daryl and Beth is the kind that stays with you. Like a book you have to read again because you still feel close to the characters and the next book isn’t out yet. I’ve gone back again and again to watch certain interactions with Daryl and Beth. As a result of that, I’ve also found some great new music.

**the two scenes from The Walking Dead have to be watched at YouTube, just follow the links**

The first song is called Up the Wolves by The Mountain Goats and is the background to a very moving scene (that you admittedly would need the backstory for but there are no gory zombies):

I downloaded the song but I did not get the whole album because I think his voice would get annoying.

This following scene is my favorite. I have never looked up a scene to rewatch on youtube before but I’ve watched this a number of times already.  This is Beth singing Be Good by Waxahatchee (also no gore):

I loved the sound of the other Waxahatchee stuff (and that EVERY SINGLE SONG has an explicit warning) so I downloaded this song and then their entire second album, Cerulean Salt.

I was sharing these music finds with Jt when he asked me to look up Cage the Elephant. Turns out this is one of those bands you may have never heard of but whose music you already know.
I downloaded the self-titled album Cage the Elephant with this song you’ve probably heard:

I also got the newest album, Melophobia, which includes this song I also thought I’d heard somewhere before:

Posted in Facebook, Favorite Things, Film and Television, Music | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Crying

*Trigger warning: Suicide*

I don’t remember crying a lot when I was younger. I mean, I know I made a ruckus at times but I also remember being grateful that I didn’t cry when angry like my sister did. I always felt terrible for her because my dad thought tears were used for manipulation but I knew she couldn’t help it.
In college I had to give away a dog. I had her for a few months but she just was not cut out for apartment life. I didn’t feel like the family that took her was the best for her and so my boyfriend and I came back to his apartment after dropping her off and I cried for HOURS. I just wailed and he let me. He held me and let me cry and eventually he told me it was time to stop.
But I don’t remember it happening much after that. There were breakups and assaults, arrests and deaths, Columbine and 9/11. I know I cried sometimes, I remember especially my cousin’s funeral and Kenai’s time in the hospital. But I was also belligerent. I was angry. I had been hurt and was too proud to show it. I remember how proud I felt when I told my good friend, my “second mama,” about my arrest and short time in jail and how she said she would have just been crying her eyes out and how brave I must have been. And I was proud. I was proud that I had stood at that tiny window in the jail cell and looked over the backside of the city and held back my tears. I was proud that I had been held at knifepoint and didn’t cry about it. I was proud that the person I loved could hurt me and I wouldn’t let him see me cry.

I’ve recently been experiencing a pain like no other. Shock, so much shock, and just exquisite pain, like nothing else I’ve known. My uncle killed himself. I honestly can’t even believe I just wrote that. I just never. I never could have imagined this. I saw him just over a year ago and he seemed fine. He had flown his plane out to Ohio for my sister’s wedding. He was his usual, happy self.  His struggles were relatively recent and those closest to him respected his wishes for privacy. I feel so much shock and so much pain and so much confusion.

Still.

I want to just rip it out and let it loose but I CAN’T. I want to lay in Jt’s arms and sob and wail and scream for hours but I CAN’T. I want to accept his comfort and let it all just go but I CAN’T. I want to hide in my room for a few days. Curl up under the covers and just cry. But I CAN’T.

I cry when I am driving so no one can see me. I cried at his funeral but even then, no ugly crying. Plenty of controlled crying (and about 8,000 tissues). I thought I could do this. I thought I could cry in small doses. I thought I could ride it out. But then I realized that I couldn’t even let this out in front of my husband. He’s the one I should be able to cry with and I know that he wants me to feel like I can do this. But I just CAN’T.

I’m not entirely sure where these walls came from, though I have some ideas. I would like to work on it because it doesn’t feel healthy. I’m doing EMDR now and I’m planning to try Reiki soon. If you struggle with this as well, I will be glad to let you know how it goes.

Uncle Mike at Emmy's Wedding

Uncle Mike at Emmy’s Wedding

Posted in 9/11, EMDR, Haiti, My Family-I Love Them Anyway, My Friends - They Love Me Anyway, Navel Gazing, Night Owling, Pictures of things, PSA, PTSD is a bitch, Survival | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

The Big Question

I’ve been getting this question a lot lately, mostly because I frequent groups or blogs or forums that focus on some variation of Christian themes. In it’s simplest form, the question is:
Why did you leave Christianity?

Sometimes it is just an honest question, often it is inextricably linked to the asker’s own ideas about why people leave and those ideas can usually be summed up as “You were doing it wrong to begin with.” In my experience, this can take two forms. The first is the blatant, “you didn’t really know God.” The second is the little less “in your face” but just as insulting “God isn’t who you want him to be or people in the church hurt you so you bailed”. It’s a sneaky way of saying that former believers are idolatrous, prideful and petty.
But sometimes it’s honest and it is in that spirit and for those people that I will do my best to answer the question.

I did experience some forms of spiritual abuse as a child and was raised on some questionable – at best – theologies. I moved forward from there though and throughout college held on to my beliefs even as they were shifted and remolded according to new teachings and new experiences. The first real challenge I faced as an adult Christian was experiencing a supportive and loving community that was decidedly not Christian. It REALLY threw me that I found such love and respect within this crowd of strangers, more than I had ever felt among believers. Still, I decided that I believed in Christ as the redeemer and decided to make that the foundation, to stop trading the theology of my parents for the theology of my professors and find what made sense to me.
I graduated from a conservative Bible college, married a boy I met there and we went on to find a church and start a family. We started out at a church whose people I still hold very dear, they taught us so much about generosity and the intimacy that can form between friends. They supported us through what was, to date, the worst experience of our lives.
We moved on from there for a few reasons, a little of that was hurt and disappointment, mostly it was just that we outgrew it and needed something different for our children.
We found a new church and I LOVED it there. They are well-known for their servant outreach and “love first” kind of focus. I felt comfortable there, even though my liberal theology and politics were in the minority, the focus was never on those issues but on how to serve our communities. The parking lot was full of “W” stickers but our car would not be keyed for its Obama sticker. :)
Eventually, however, the church offered a counseling class on overcoming same-sex attraction and I had to leave. I just couldn’t continue to support a church that was doing something that I felt was overtly harmful to a community of people, no matter how good and pure their intentions.

For a while, I sort of floated about, wondering if I should try out a UCC or even a Quaker meeting. But one day I just thought to myself, “what if you stepped outside of your position as a 21st century white American. What if you looked at this from a bigger place, from the universe, the whole of existence. Does any of this story make sense to you from there?”
The answer was a resounding “no” and sitting there that day, I felt a weight lifted from me. I felt free to love outside of the confines of god’s love and it was a fuller love because it came from me without coercion or even instruction. I didn’t feel angry, I just didn’t believe that the Bible was true. I didn’t believe that the god I thought I had encountered was really there. I didn’t believe that there was any more reason for me to believe this book over any other book, over any other spiritual teacher, over any other prophet. I found no reason to privilege this story over any other story.
So I stopped fretting over any of it and sort of just enjoyed the unfettered nature of my feelings for a while. Eventually I determined that agnosticism suited me the best and landed there. If pressed I will say that I don’t think there is a god but I do hold to my agnosticism. Jim Gilliam’s video “The Internet is my Religion” has resonated with me more than anything else that I’ve read or heard.
My husband and I had relative ease in this transition though some counseling helped with that. He had to get to a place where he understood that my disbelief was not a comment on his belief, that I still respected him and that I wasn’t going to pull our kids out of church or tell them that daddy is crazy (at least not for his religious beliefs!). It’s been mostly smooth sailing since then as far as dealing with being in a mixed-faith home. It helps that we share the same values.

I’d be happy to answer any more questions that people have as long as they come from a place of honesty and not one of fear or judgment.

Posted in Bible Type Stuff, Musings, Navel Gazing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Self-Soothing

Stressed Out!

Seems like life does that to us every now and then, yes? It’s not always bad but it does leave us gasping for breath. From November to February I was sick at least four times with sinus infections and bronchitis. Which, what the fuck, I quit smoking and THEN I get bronchitis? Fuck you, Lady Fate, you’re not funny. So there were holidays and sickness and doctors and urgent cares and bottles and bottles of prednisone. Then there were dog surgeries and dog injuries and then we all got the stomach bug from Hades and everything is just insane. Somewhere in there, I was supposed to have breast reduction surgery. I had it all planned out so that it coincided with the kids’ spring break and they could spend the first week up in Dayton with my family. Best laid plans and whatnot. I rescheduled quickly because I’m experiencing a ton of anxiety and really need to get the surgery out of the way. Really, they just don’t make enough clonazepam for another month of this. So surgery is one week away, on the 3rd. I’ve been scrambling to reschedule sitters and rides and dog training, and flooring installation (because, let’s do everything at the same time!) all while holding back hair while someone pukes. Which led to me feeling very much like pulling a Wreck-it Ralph.
ralph

So it’s time to break out the big guns. It’s time to actually put to use the coping skills I’ve been learning – and mostly ignoring – for 20 years. How do you soothe yourself when tensions are high? Some things are easy and obvious. Get a massage, buy expensive chocolate, smoke a little weed! Some things are more personal, more self-driven and usually more effective. These are mine.

This is my soothe song. I can’t explain it but the first time I heard it I could feel everything in me release just a little, like a long sigh. I also listen to Imogen Heap when I need to relax but only when I’m going to bed. I can’t sleep without white noise. I pack a fan to stay in a hotel or even to visit family. I can’t have a tv on, no audio books*, no music; even instrumental music keeps me awake. But Imogen’s ethereal qualities lull me into weightless sleep like the mythical siren. I only use it on the rare occasion that I really need extra care for myself, the days I’ve been fighting tears that I don’t understand. I recommend Ellipse with the bonus instrumental tracks, start with Little Bird. Anyway, here’s Life by the Avett Brothers:


The other thing I do lately is tea. I was having trouble making coffee that I like because I’m a leeetle picky and I’ve been trying to make small, healthy changes to my diet so I ventured into a Teavana. $800 later I can actually make a cup of tea. I’m kidding but they really are very expensive. I could sing you the praises of My Morning Mate, a nutty black tea that is replacing my morning coffee. I’d like to tell you about the BEST TRAVEL MUG EVER INVENTED and I’d encourage you to look at the Perfect TeaMaker because it’s cheap and easy and even fun to use.** But this is a post about soothing so let me just say, nothing soothes like a nice white or green tea in the evening. They have a ton of ultra-fruity stuff; teas that are really more like reconstituted juice made from dried fruit with a tea leaf or two thrown in (voila! healthy!). That didn’t work for me and required a lot of their awesome German Rock Sugar (made from beets!). So I exchanged the ones I didn’t like and got Jasmine Dragon Phoenix Pearls Green Tea.jasmineThis stuff smells just like a jasmine flower, it’s very mild and perfect for relaxing before bed. Plus it’s got a rad name.

Now, if I can find someone to play with my hair I’ll have the trifecta.

*I almost wrote “books on tape”. I haz an OLD.
**Oh also, I’m obviously way too small time to be paid for reviewing anything. I’m talking up Teavana because they got me. Be careful if you go in, they’ll get you too. It’s like Scientology in there.
Posted in Better Living Through Nature, Favorite Things, Mmm..., Music, Musings, Navel Gazing, PSA, PTSD is a bitch, Survival | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments