Don’t Fear the Dark

 

 

I’m trying. I really am. In the face of my country’s ugliness and shameful behavior, I’m trying to lift my own spirits and to reclaim my joy. Some days, it half works. Others…

 

There’s been a lot of loss of late in my little world. Layers, in fact. A great aunt passed away recently, and that has required processing. Processing that will continue, probably in ways I don’t yet know. Two days after hearing of her passing, I learned that my mentor was abruptly closing his studio and would be retiring earlier than previously planned. It was too much.

 

 

I spent my last night in his studio thinking of what the place has meant to me. I walked around and photographed the unlit corners that seemingly have nothing to do with the beauty produced there. The paint-splattered sink, the tins of paint thinner (“juice” as my teacher always called it), the random articles on a cluttered shelf. All of it greeted me for years, and now it’s gone.

 

 

I won’t lie. I cried several times during my final session there. I cried when I thought about my very first visit, when I decided to be brave and give painting a try. I cried when I thought about how my sweet friend Nicole came to my life simply because our easels were side-by-side one night. I cried when I thought about how my time in that sacred space changed my life forever. As I type this, I look around my home and its walls are covered with art, most of it made by me. When someone asks what I do (I hate that question), I tell them I’m an artist. And I am. Some of what I produce is real crap. It’s true. And some of what I produce is so good it makes me want to cry anew, because it is such a gift to create beauty in this world. And in every inky crevice of my heart, I am fully aware of how very “gifted” I have been on the painting front.

 

 

And then there’s my mentor himself. On that last night in the studio, I cried because I was allowed to know him. Because I was allowed to be his student and to learn from him. He is a remarkable human soul and I know what a privilege it’s been to study with him. I have learned more about painting than I ever thought possible. I have also learned – from him – about being a decent person. He is kind and patient and wise. I pray that a little bit of those parts of him have rubbed off on me. Maybe they have. Maybe not. I suppose only time will tell.

 

 

So yes – I’m processing a lot of loss right now. And it runs deep. If I could, I would probably crawl into a hole and stay there. But that isn’t how life works. If I were to choose that, then I’d become someone I don’t want to be. I cannot succumb to the loss. I know I have to adapt. All of life is change, isn’t it? It keeps evolving and turning over and over again. For me, I know that if I don’t roll with it, there won’t be much point in waking to another day. And if I know anything about myself, it is that I absolutely love being alive. So roll with it, I must.

 

For now, I plan to practice self-care while going about the business of living. And I plan to give myself some time to figure out how to move forward with painting. I also plan to wish so much love and joy for my mentor. He deserves nothing less. His life should be lived with gusto, with beauty and with art. All my tears can’t stop me from smiling while thinking that. I am so grateful to have known his teachings and to hear his voice in my mind: Don’t fear the dark.

 

I won’t, Eli. I won’t.

 

Happy Bricks

 

 

I had heard it before. But I had never really listened.

 

It was March 1980. Kim Cox was having a birthday party at the Holiday Inn in Griffin, GA. Her step-daddy, Lee, was the manager of the hotel (or was it a motel?) and so Kim got to have her party in one of the conference rooms. It wasn’t a large space and it wasn’t a large gathering. But for poor kids like me, it was a big deal. The Griffin Holiday Inn was the nicest hotel/motel for miles, and I had been invited to a popular girl’s party! There were several varieties of co-colas and several snacks. And there was music. Rock music of the day. Good music, too. In particular, I remember hearing Joe Jackson’s “Is She Really Going Out With Him” and loving it. Kids that we were, there wasn’t much dancing going on. The girls mostly hugged one wall while the boys mostly hugged another. It was innocent. And it was fun.

 

And then it wasn’t fun. Apparently, in a nearby conference room, there was a meeting of men from a local Baptist church. A Southern Baptist church, to boot. (A church that I and most others at the party did not belong to, by the way.) Southern Baptists don’t take kindly to dancing. And the more pompous among them don’t care much for secular music. I guess some asshole from that meeting heard our music from behind a closed door, so he walked right in and went over to the hi-fi and Turned. It. Off. He then threw a brief hissy fit and lectured us kids on how we were sinners and should be ashamed of ourselves for being there in the middle of such corruption. He looked pretty full of himself and was about to head out when Kim’s mama burst into the room.

 

To say Judy was a petite woman is ambitious generosity on my part. She was always impeccably dressed and her hair and make-up were just so. She was lovely, strong and I liked her a lot. Whenever I saw her with her kids, she seemed like a real good mother. She was also a firecracker and woe be unto him who thought he could stand up to that little gal. When Judy came in to find some yahoo trying to shut down her daughter’s birthday party, I actually felt sorry for the guy. She marched over to the stereo, seething, “Turn that music back on!” She then smiled at all us kids, told us to get back to the party and have a good time, and dragged that Southern Baptist S-O-B into the hall. Even over the strains of the music, we could hear Judy yelling from the other side of the door. She told that church guy, in no uncertain terms, that he had crossed a line and that he had better cut out before she really gave him what for. That her daughter’s party was none of his business. I don’t think she swore, as Judy wasn’t like that. And I don’t remember that jerk saying a single word in response. I’m guessing he knew he was in trouble and had best get the hell out of there before Judy switched from verbal to physical attack mode. That guy had upset her daughter and Judy was pissed. After giving a much-deserved lashing in the hall, Judy came back in to make sure the party had again picked up. She was all smiles and if you hadn’t heard her tearing the stuffing out of that church jerk, you’d never have known she’d been riled at all. She was in control and she was grand.

 

But I digress. This post isn’t about the memory of that long-ago party. It’s about the song that was playing when the disruption took place: Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in The Wall (Part 2)”. When I hear that song now, I am immediately transported to the Griffin, GA Holiday Inn’s conference room – the place where the song’s lyrics first penetrated my brain and took hold. After that night, I couldn’t escape the song. Didn’t want to. I wanted more. I needed to know what was going on in those lyrics and what they meant. At some point, I saved enough lunch money to get the whole record. On cassette. I started studying the compositions, each song, and trying to decipher depth and meaning. I didn’t get far, truth be told, but I also didn’t let go. There was something there, just out of reach.

 

A couple of years later, I was given some clarity when “Pink Floyd – The Wall” was released in theaters. The movie was a freak show and it was fabulous. By the time of its release, I was a pretty messed-up kid. Sucky home life and depression were bearing down. Decent adults weren’t able to help, and there were very few of them in my life anyway. The ones that did reach out (Mrs. Woods at Pike County High School, thank you), well, their good intentions were lost on me. I had been failed by my parents and didn’t trust adults. More than once, so-called grown-ups had proven themselves dangerous and harmful. So when a good person tried to give me a hand, I lumped them in with the others and backed away. I didn’t have the tools to discern decency. And I didn’t have faith in those older than me and my peers.

 

But I did trust music and art. So when the opportunity to go to Atlanta and see “Pink Floyd – The Wall” at the old Fox Theatre presented itself, I took advantage. My small group of friends – all of us searching for something – went to the big city and settled in. The movie was amazing. (Still is.) The music became even more real for me and the accompanying visuals brought new meaning to the lyrics I’d been holding on to since that Holiday Inn party. As much as I wanted to “tear down the wall,” I decided instead that, at that time, I’d be better served by building a wall. And so I began.

 

The bricks I used were ugly. There were lies and deception, greed and manipulation. And those materials were supplied only by my parents. Time brought more darkness and more bricks. By the time I was a young woman, I had mastered a false smile and a fake aura of happiness. Having been depressed since, well, all my life, I had gotten really good at hiding it. Whenever I felt let-down by anyone – even by myself – I added that brick to my wall. I really didn’t know how else to live.

 

But there was more to me than that. Deep inside, I held out hope. Hope that “happy” was real. Hope that joyful people weren’t faking it, that some people in the world really did love their lives and, at least on occasion, felt good. I never talked about it. I never told anyone how distraught I was, or how long I’d been in that lowly state. I didn’t know how to talk about it. But it was getting worse. I was getting worse. I was somewhere in my late twenties and each day weighed a bit more than the last. Something had to give.

 

It was my brain. I had a bit of a nervous breakdown. I can still see the room and the light coming in the window. I remember the phone ringing. And for some reason I answered. I had to crawl to the phone, because I didn’t have the strength to get there otherwise. Thank god I did, as that phone call from a distant friend served as a helping hand. And for the first time in almost thirty years, I trusted the grown-up on the other side of that conversation. I began to tear down the wall.

 

I sought therapy. I worked hard. Some parts of me that weren’t quite right had to be broken down before they could be rebuilt. Others had to be constructed from scratch. So many basic behaviors were unknown to me. I had never been taught how to deal with confrontation or disagreement. (I had been taught, by my parents, that I wasn’t allowed to confront them or to even be angry with them. Swear to god.) There was a lot to learn. A lot to do. And every time I gained the slightest understanding, another brick was removed. Over time, I tore down my wall. I not only gained a greater view and relationship with the world, I also gained a relationship with myself. And I was pretty damned pleased to meet me. Flawed, happy me.

 

So that’s how I moved through life for the last couple of decades. There have been amazing ups and terrifying downs. Through it all, my goal has been to remain honest with myself first, so that I could be honest with those in my little world. And it’s worked. Or at least it did. Right up until this past November, when I fell into a not-unfamiliar dark hole.

 

Before my country was suckered into supporting hate, I hadn’t been depressed for decades. (There’s a difference, for me, between being down and being full-on depressed.) I thought I was just down. I thought I was stronger than my blues. I thought I could ride it out. But sometimes we don’t see ourselves clearly. Maybe we don’t want to. Maybe we’re wearing blinders and don’t know it. Whatever the reason, I didn’t see that I had become clinically depressed. Again. I didn’t see that I was in real trouble and needed outside help.

 

This time, the hand of kindness came in the form of a lovely woman, Robin. Even though we’ve only known each other a short while, she listened to me when I opened up and told her what I was going through. She looked in my eyes, and actually heard me. I told her I had worked so hard to tear down my wall and now I was too exposed, too vulnerable. That’s when Robin gazed into my soul and said that maybe I should rebuild my wall, only this time perhaps I should use Happy Bricks.

 

I don’t know how those words affect you. And to be perfectly honest, I don’t care. I only know that when Robin suggested I use Happy Bricks to build a self-preserving, self-caring wall, I was thunderstruck. Yes! Of course! Happy Bricks! Why hadn’t I thought of that?

 

Walls aren’t the enemy. Some are certainly downright hurtful and harmful, but that’s no reason to cast all walls in a sour light. Walls hold up my roof. Walls provide privacy and sanctuary in my backyard. Walls hold art and windows, views to life and the world. Walls keep me safe. Good walls always have.

 

And so I find myself mixing mortar, gathering Happy Bricks to build a new wall. 35 people participated in the Womens March in Zebulon, GA (my hometown) – that’s a Happy Brick. A complete stranger saw me crocheting squares for blankets to be donated to local chemo patients and she asked how she could knit to help – that’s a Happy Brick. The Netherlands stepped up to provide healthcare for women around the globe after our government chose to withdraw women’s healthcare support as punishment  for having dared to march en masse – that’s a Happy Brick. It’s true – I’ve lost a lot these past few months. People I once respected are choosing willful ignorance. Relationships have ended or have been damaged. The injury to my country, though only just begun, deepens each day. It’s sad, heartbreaking, and for some, it will no doubt prove deadly. But I can’t give all my energy to those truths. Some of my strength has to go toward pulling myself up from the muck, toward taking those beautiful hands that reach down to lift me skyward. Toward adding another Happy Brick to my wall.

 

Working through this new depression won’t be easy. Working for decency and good won’t be easy, either. But that work will still be right, and must be done. I’m up for it. I’ve pulled myself toward happiness once before. I’ve witnesseed Kim Cox’s mama, Judy, standing up to a bully nearly twice her size and I’ve never forgotten seeing that. I’m no Judy. But I’m a mighty fine version of Mikki. And self-righteous yahoos would be wise to steer clear. I’ve got mortar, a sharp trowel and a load of Happy Bricks on my back. And I damn sure know how to use them.

Bitch, It’s Saturday!

 

 

It’s been one full week since the world (the whole beautiful, fucking world, I might add) marched in support of decency. The world also marched in protest of indecency. And though there are more of us (the decent) than there are of them (the indecent), there’s still too much ugliness. My tribe will continue to combat this, though. We have to. But I digress.

 

After last week’s stunning democratic displays, I read something about a scene that occurred during the march in D.C. It’s short, so please click here and check it out. I’ll wait for you. After reading the piece, I’ve not been able to get it out of my head. “Bitch, it’s Saturday” pops up several times a day, sometimes appropriately, sometimes not.

 

And I’ve decided that if I should ever be stricken with Hodor disease (if you don’t watch “Game of Thrones”, I can’t briefly explain that one to you. Sorry.), I’d like my version to be Bitch-It’s-Saturday disease. Someone asks what day it is? Bitch, it’s Saturday. Someone cuts me off in traffic? Bitch, it’s Saturday. I’m exhausted and finally able to put head to pillow? Bitch, it’s Saturday. I’m pretty sure I could use that phrase in just about any situation. Might not be the perfect words to say, but I can imagine them fitting through laughter and tears. Mostly laughter. Just typing up this post has brought me more glee than you can imagine. To that I say, Bitch, it’s Saturday.

A Break In The Clouds: L.A. Womens March

 

 

It started on Thursday. Actually, it started a few weeks ago, when I decided I would make myself a pink(ish) hat to wear to the march. As I sat there, surrounded by yarn and crocheting away, Mister asked if I planned to make a hat for him. I didn’t even know he was thinking of going with me to the march, let alone wearing a pussy hat – a symbol of the march. I got more yarn.

 

 

But I digress. It’s been raining here in Los Angeles. A lot. I’m not complaining, mind you. I’m just saying. On Thursday, there was a beautiful break in the clouds. I knew that if Mister and I were going to indeed take the train downtown for Saturday’s march, I needed to make sure our rider cards were loaded and ready to go. You see, we’ve had the ugly experience of arriving at the train station during a crazy-busy time (Rams home game), only to realize our rider cards held no credit. That day, as I recall, we waited in line for almost an hour to re-load the danged cards. It wasn’t pretty and I did not want a command performance. So when I looked outside and saw that beautiful blue sky peeking through those heavy clouds, I decided to get in a little exercise and walk to the train station to take care of business.

 

 

I was in a shitty mood. I knew that the next day would see a lying, unqualified, bully of a sexual predator sworn in as president and I was heartbroken. My sunglasses hid my tears from passersby, but I knew I was crying. And I didn’t know how to stop. That’s when she popped into my head – my great grandmother. She’s been gone nearly two decades, but she planted herself in my mind and I decided to let her visit for a while. I started telling her all about our outgoing President, and how I bet she would have loved him. I told her how intelligent and decent he is. How quick-witted and kind he is. I told her about his beautiful family and how they’ve all been incredible role-models for what a loving family can be. She kept asking questions (she was always curious) and I kept answering. Before I knew it, I had arrived at the train station, re-loaded our rider cards and walked all the way home. Granny Vera kept me company the whole time. Focusing on President Obama had dried my tears and lifted my spirits. I spent the rest of the day thinking of my Granny and the greatest President I will likely ever know. I slept well that night.

 

 

On Friday, the rain returned. I woke to find a couple of emails from a British buddy. He let me know that it was Tom Baker’s birthday (the 4th “Doctor Who”) and that the Brits were thinking of us on our day of gloom. (Actually – I think he used the word “doom-ly”. It was completely apt.) He also sent a link to a UK piece tying the US inauguration of a cheeto to “Hitchhiker’s Guide to The Galaxy” and it was hilarious. Those thoughts got me through the day and I was grateful. That night, Mister and I decided to watch Hitchhiker’s Guide. I laughed my ass off (thank you, Sam Rockwell) and the movie reminded me of the beauty of this planet. I needed that. Then Mister and I turned in, hoping to get an early start for the next morning’s march. You know – just in case it turned out to be crowded.

 

 

The L.A. March was scheduled to begin at 9am. Mister and I got to the train station at 8, beneath a sunny sky. The first thing we saw was a huge crowd, waiting in line to get their rider cards. (Crisis averted on that front!) We then went downstairs to the station platform. We immediately realized our timing wasn’t early enough. I thought we’d have to wait for at least another train or two, but Mister said he thought we could squeeze into a crowded car. By the grace of other riders, we wedged ourselves against the train’s door and stayed there until we reached the designated stop downtown.

 

 

I’m not claustrophobic. Tight quarters don’t rattle me. Crowds, on the other hand, are not my jam. Being around scads of people has become challenging for me. This discomfort began last summer, during the ugly rallies in support of Drumpf. The hatred, the bile and the vitriol shown in videos of those gatherings was disgusting and pathetic. Those pitiful, duped attendees were sad and ugly. After seeing far too much of that, I became hesitant to attend large gatherings. I can’t explain it. But it came to pass that I began staying away from big crowds when I could. Which brings me back to Saturday morning on that downtown-bound train. The photo of me kissing the train doors is a bit of a joke, but not by much. I spent my entire train ride with my face against those doors, thinking about where I was going. And why. Thinking about Mister being beside me, wearing his pussy hat. Thinking about the joyful camaraderie of the standing-room-only crowd in the train car. I was doing a pretty good job of staying calm, though my lip was sweating and my hands were shaking. Then I heard the prerecorded train announcement: “The next stop is Pershing Square.” The train roared with glee. We were almost there.

 

When the doors opened, I said goodbye to the friendly doors I’d been pressed against and joined the throng as we made our way upstairs. That’s when Mister spotted the “Impeach” button on a rider’s backpack. It made me think about Georgia, and I wondered how many people would show up to march in Atlanta. Still a little shaky from the ride, I moved slowly up the stairs, with Mister by my side. We were talking about how crowded the train had been, then we emerged into daylight and holy shit! We were blown away.

 

 

I won’t lie. I was still feeling a little crowd anxiety. But it was abating. Oddly enough, the more people I saw – people joining the march, people smiling at strangers, people introducing their children to Democracy – the calmer I became. And there was this vibe. It caught me by surprise. It also overwhelmed me. And that vibe’s name was Zen.

 

 

Seriously. The energy of the crowd was just beautiful. Because we were all packed into a street, there wasn’t a lot of room to accommodate a whole lot of bodies. People occasionally bumped into one another, or accidentally stepped on someone’s feet. But it was all acknowledged and forgiven. People of every gender, color, age,religion, nationality – all were welcome. It was calm and lovely. It was kind and inclusive. I was amazed and comforted. More than once, I cried happy tears. I’m sure I wasn’t alone.

 

 

The signs were a treat, too. Some were expected, some not. The tone of the signs was varied, and I appreciated that. (One of my favorites from the day read, “Honestly – I Would Have Preferred An Actual Swamp.”) A lot of feelings are floating around out there, which is completely understandable, given president cheeto’s hateful rhetoric. People are afraid. And they should be. This administration is hell-bent on creating hell-on-earth. We all knew it, too. But we didn’t wallow. Instead, we roared. Mightily.

 

 

Some of the signs were hand-made. Some were printed. Others were unique and ran the gamut from simple to not-at-all simple.

 

 

This one may have permanently affected my rods and cones. I’m not sure my eyes will ever be the same…

 

 

Being me, I wasn’t tall enough to see everything going on around us. Mister had to be my designated tall person, so he was able to tell me how far the crowds reached down streets in all directions. Here in L.A., our numbers exceeded all expectations and the march’s route had to be amended on the fly. We were slated to march down only one street. We took over three, if not four. (I know about 3, for sure.) As the march moved peacefully and slowly toward city hall, the assembled chanted and chatted. We took photos as we took it all in. I think we knew we’d be taking it in for some time.

 

 

I still don’t know just how many of us showed up. March organizers were putting the numbers north of 700,000. Personally, Mister and I knew loads of people who attended, but we didn’t cross paths with even one of them. I guess that’s what happens when you’re hanging out with 700,000 of your tribe members. And make no mistake. We were definitely with our tribe.

 

 

In the afternoon, Mister and I looked at each other, smiled and knew it was time to go. We walked to Union Station and made our way to the train platform. This time, it was even more crowded than when we’d started out in the morning. But we knew we could handle it. We’d fared just fine getting to the march. Getting home wouldn’t be a problem.

 

 

I wondered if the crowded train would hold the same positive energy we’d experienced in the morning. At first, I didn’t think so. Then the crowd of riders began to talk about the day. I watched the smiles return. I heard people offering to squeeze one more person onto a seat. Children, tired from the day, fell asleep in their seats or in their parents’ arms. And as we approached the end of the line, the train’s operator spoke to us all over the intercom. He said that, though he wasn’t supposed to comment on anything political, he was willing to take the risk. He said how much he admired what we’d done that day. He said that in all his thirteen years of working for Metro, he’d never seen such numbers. He thanked us for our patience in dealing with the filled-to-capacity trains and wished us well. We, the riders, thundered with applause. It was a beautiful way to end the day. I hope I never forget it.

 

Official Mourning

 

 

I’ve been mourning for months. Mourning the loss of decency. Mourning for people who don’t have any idea how fucking indecent they’re choosing to be. Mourning all the way around. But as of today, my mourning is official. For today a sexual predator takes the highest office in America. (He is also a liar, a cheater, a racist and a bully.) It’s shameful and it’s pathetic. For all of us. (Some of us, more than others.)

 

Let me be clear about a few things here, people. This isn’t about being a sore loser. I’ve been a Detroit Lions fan for decades, so I know a thing or two about my side losing. Um-kay? So please don’t tell me I don’t know how to lose. I know how to lose. Did we lose? Yes. In more ways than we’ve yet seen. This isn’t about giving Drumpf a chance, either. I don’t ever, ever, ever have to give a sexual predator a chance. Period. Nor does anyone else. When someone says those words to me, that he’s our president now so we need to give him a chance, all I hear is that person saying how he or she is accepting of sexual abuse, and don’t I want to be down with that. Every time someone says that to me, I cringe a little. And I feel sorry for the speaker for being so indecent as to even suggest I should support a sexual predator. Again, shameful.

 

I will not support an elected sexual predator any more than I would any other abuser. I won’t watch an elected sexual predator conduct a so-called press conference, any more than I would watch any other abuser stand before a camera. I won’t do it. We all have to choose for ourselves whether or not our moral fiber is intact. I’m not the boss of you. But I’m sure as shit the boss of me. And you will not find me supporting a sexual abuser, no matter what title is placed upon his orange head.

 

Here’s what you will find me doing: remaining vigilant. I will keep my eyes and ears open and I will show up to protest indecency. I will also show up to support beautiful, ethical decency. I expect I’ll be in good company, too.

 

I will not accept all of this as normal, either. For it isn’t. I’ll keep reminding myself of that fact, because if I become complacent, or forgive all this bullshit and its perpetrators, then, well, I will have thrown my own decency in the trash. And I don’t care how many others have made that choice. I refuse to join them.

 

This isn’t going to be easy, not at all. We, the moral majority (which we are), have to stick to our ethics. We can stay true to decency. We can stand up for ethics. We can be good people. Good souls. Others may lack the strength of character required to deny the ugliness. But we are not them. We are strong and we are not alone. No – this isn’t normal. It isn’t. Regardless of how our country has chosen, we are better than what is taking place in our government. It’s going to get worse. Rights will be challenged and perhaps denied. Horribly behaved people are going to pass judgment on good, weaker folks. It will be ugly. Terribly so. And standing up to it will surely require more strength than I can even imagine. But we have to do it anyway. We have to. We just do.

 

So I don’t know what you’ll be doing today, but I will not be watching the horrible freak show taking place on the east coast, in an area epitomizing taxation without representation. No – I want no part of that train wreck. I don’t need to rubberneck it. Like I said – it’s shameful. It is the very worst of our country, come to power. I never thought I’d feel such pity for my own homeland. But that’s where we are. And yes – it’s pitiful.

Friday Pick-Me-Up

 

 

I’m writing this post for me, as I sorely need it.

 

The petite gal shown in the photo above is Margene. She lives with my friend Betro. Margene and her sister (Roxy) are hilarious. And kind. And loving. And about a jillion other things pets are known for. When I visit Margene, she gets all excited and playful and her enthusiasm really perks me up. It would be easy to take her joy as something personal, but she doesn’t remember me from visit to visit. I know this. But Margene still manages to make me feel welcome and, I daresay, loved.

 

I’m sometimes jealous of my friends with pets. They receive unconditional love and devotion each and every day, no matter what’s going on in their lives or in the world. Pets don’t care about our screw-ups. They just care about us. When I think about that, I often wish I had it in my own home.

 

And then there are the other times. The times when I don’t have to arrange a pet-sitter, or when I don’t have to spend several thousand dollars to preserve a beloved pet’s health. Those times leave me feeling pretty free and easy. And I like that. A lot.

 

Six of one, half a dozen of another, I guess. When our yard gets fenced in (I’m praying to the garden gods), we may very well get a dog. We may very well not. I’m not sure. Either way, I get to visit Margene once in a while. I’ll take it.

Perchance to Dream

 

 

I miss sleep.

 

I’ve been having trouble staying asleep at night. Again. I struggled to sleep since I was a small child. It barely went noticed, though, as everyone else was always dead to the world, while I, alone, fidgeted in the dark, hoping to drift off. Those sleep troubles lasted all the way up to a few years ago. I don’t know what happened, exactly, but I began sleeping through the night and it was grand. I still had an occasional night of tossing and turning, but for the most part, I was rested.

 

Then the U.S. elections hit in November of last year and my sleep began suffering again. For several weeks, I was maybe getting four hours of restless sleep per night. And that took its toll, to be sure. I decided to drink more (for reals) and I started sleeping a bit better. Not the best cure, I admit, but as I was mostly walking dead for a few months there, I took the alcohol as treatment. And it helped.

 

Once January rolled around, I climbed aboard the wagon, just as I do every year. The goal is to start the new calendar with a dry month. Ordinarily, that’s no big deal, but my sleep troubles have returned and I don’t like it. The nighttime wakefulness is aging me. And being tired doesn’t do much for one’s outlook, either. The word unpleasant, while apt, doesn’t begin to cover the problems associated with poor sleep. Poor sleep, in and of itself, leads to poor living.

 

I’m trying to wear myself out, as best I can, and hopefully that will lead to a few nights of good slumber. I surely need it. And if not, well, I’ve only committed to not drinking for this month. In twenty days I’ll be off the wagon.

 

To sleep, perchance to dream…

The Dear Friend Alliance

 

 

When did it happen that just because two people were friendly – once – they became bound together as friends for all eternity? I mean – if I meet someone through a friend, let’s say because said friend is dating that person, and that person and I become pals, well, that’s great. But what if said friend is a real asshole to that person and they break up. Why on earth would that person be forever obligated to be my pal, even though I’m still tight with said friend? If that person was wronged (severely, I might add), what sort of pompous ass would I have to be to think that person owed me any sort of friendship? And why is this paragraph making my head hurt?

 

It used to be that if people ended relationships because of assholery, those of us orbiting in their atmosphere were well within our rights to shun the asshole in the equation. Logical, right? Sane even. And certainly decent. If someone cheats on a dear friend in an ugly way, cutting that cheater out of my world is simply a part of my side of the dear friend alliance. No ifs, ands or buts. And to be perfectly clear here, I’m not referring to folks whose relationship ran its course. Some things end. That’s life. And sometimes those endings aren’t filled with rage or pyrotechnics. Sometimes two people quietly pack their belongings, mumble their goodbyes and walk away. Even if there are deep issues (aren’t there always), we don’t deem those friends as being god-awful or undeserving of love. Not everything lasts. I wish there was a better explanation, but sometimes there just isn’t.

 

But I digress. Yes – that’s the way it used to be. You were an asshole to my friend? Then you are dead to me. But that’s not the way I see most people behaving now. These days, it seems that when two people break up, they must somehow remain friends. And so must everyone around them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard friends say, “Oh, we broke up, but we’re still friends!” Some have regular phone conversations or dinner arrangements with exes. And I’m not even talking about people with kids involved. Some exes just, well, keep in touch.

 

And this is where I have a problem, people. If you wronged my sweet friend, if you verbally abused her, if you stole from her, if you you played grab-ass with her friends – all while expecting her to support you spiritually, financially and physically – you are an asshole. And no matter how friendly we were during your relationship with my sweet friend, you and I are now done, motherfucker. My sweet friend can be as nice as an angel. She can choose to treat you with as much respect as she wants. I am not as good a person as my sweet friend, however. So if you walk into a room and see me standing there, don’t pretend the pressures of social norms will lead me to greet you kindly. For they will not. And when I look into your face and tell you that you and I are not friends and I do not want to speak with you, believe me the first time I say it. I shouldn’t have to repeat myself again and again. You are dead to me, asshole. End of story.

 

I’m really not as good a person as my sweet friend. Them’s the breaks. Deal with it.

“Great News!”

 

 

This painting is a god-send. Its wisdom is getting me through these days, and its humor helps me smile. Mister and I like it so much, we used it on our holiday card this year.

 

It’s the second painting I’ve done in this style (see the first here) and I truly enjoy the process. There’s something about turning real people into cartoon characters that gets me going. I’m challenged by the work and I’m terribly entertained as well. Both of the paintings I’ve done in this style have been fun! That’s pretty cool, friends. Fun counts.

 

I’d like to start another painting along these lines, but I haven’t come up with the text. I’ve got a fantastic photo lined up, so hopefully that will inspire me to find the proper words to accompany the image.

 

Until then, I get to giggle over this work. I’m super-keen on it. And I love it. Cheers!

My Tribe

 

 

So.

 

I haven’t so much as looked at this blog since the morning after the U.S. election. Which sucked, by the way, as my country decided to pursue hate, fear and ignorance. Officially. (Couldn’t you have kept that shit tamped down in your own home, for cry-eye? Did you have to display it right out in the open?) Since that awful election, I’ve been hiding. But I can’t hide from me, or my life. And though I am still mostly refraining from hanging around people, as the depression I carry will likely be with me a while, I do need to be around me. And my tribe.

 

My tribe is comprised of legitimately hopeful souls. They don’t live their lives in fear and they absolutely do not judge anyone for bullshit reasons (think religion, sexuality, skin color). My tribe definitely consists of educated people. But not all of us hold advanced degrees. For example, one outstanding member of my tribe only made it through sixth grade, and I defy anyone who would call her “elite.” My tribe of like-hearted souls do things for others on a regular basis, but you’d never know it, as they aren’t seeking a tax write-off or a plaque for their walls. No – these folks are just decent for the sake of decency. I thank God for them and I love them.

 

The rest of the mo-fos, on the other hand, are most certainly not in my tribe. They are terrified of the world and for some incomprehensible reason, falsehoods are their bread and butter. If it isn’t spewed on Fox news, they don’t believe it. (And when it is spewed by disreputable sources, they believe the bullshit blindly.) They claim to be disciples of Christ, even as their actions surely lead God to weep. They wear hypocrisy like a comfortable, old sweater. And I’ve gotta tell you – that style isn’t doing anybody any favors. Their snide, racist comments are unwelcome and ugly. Their holier-than-thou judgment of anyone different is just plain ignorant. And frankly, to put all this in terms they can understand, ugly is as ugly does. Their ugly behavior is aging them, and not in an attractive way.

 

Because I haven’t been able to snap out of the dark abyss I’ve fallen into (since the election), I’ve been turning to trusted writers and sages, trying to glean some wisdom or a bit of guidance. A few have mentioned drinking more (which I’m doing, thank-you-very-much) and some have mentioned the wisdom of those who’ve gone before. Which brings me to back to Jesus. I don’t give a rat’s ass about political party affiliations, but I’m pretty damned sure that if Jesus hitched a ride to America, he would not be hanging with conservatives. Because let’s be honest, there isn’t a damned Republican who’d invite him in, as he would probably look like an umkempt hippy. Let’s also not forget that Jesus was a Jew, and probably had olive skin and dark eyes, you judgmental crackers. And if Jesus had the audacity to speak of helping others and giving for Christ-sake, he’d be beaten up by a Drumpf supporter before he could show his ID. I bet that if Jesus had the gift of hind-sight, he’d ask for a holy do-over. I mean it. I can see it – Jesus saying, “I know I said all that stuff about turning the other cheek and loving thy neighbor as thyself, blah-blah-blah, but I’m pretty sure that if I don’t keep an eye on you, you motherfuckers are gonna crucify me. So I’m gonna head on out with my posse, turn some water into sweet-ass wine and call it a day. Take it sleazy. Christ out.” I am, as you might imagine, not an authority on all things Jesus. But he was supposed to be a pretty cool dude, so I stand by this idea. And even though I’m not on team Christian, I’m also pretty sure Jesus is down with my views on this. Or at the very least, entertained.

 

I don’t know what to tell ya. As grateful as I am for my tribe, I still have to live with the rest of the country. Hell – I’m related to a lot of the rest. And the truth is – I just don’t have a lot in common with the rest. I don’t believe in rounding up immigrants. I know who harvests and processes my food, and as I like to eat, I appreciate the immigrants who do the shit jobs in America. The ones who wash dishes. The ones working in awful conditions at the meat-packing plants. I don’t believe in some bullshit about certain rights being reserved for only some. I have gay relatives and friends. Of course they should be able to marry, or rent an apartment, or get a damned job. I don’t believe racism is an option. I have relatives and friends of every skin color. Judging people based on ethnicity doesn’t make them any less human. But it does make the ones doing the judging look like ignorant assholes. Because they are. And don’t even get me started on sexual assault and women’s rights, because I am seriously on the verge of breaking my foot off up in someone’s ass the next time some old white dude tries to tell me anything about my body. You motherfuckers.

 

Which brings me to this: it may be time for us to part ways. You may be terribly offended by some or all of what I’ve written here. That is your right and I respect that. (It’s America, remember? You get to choose.) So please – unsubscribe. Forget you ever knew me. We simply may not be members of the same tribe. Go hang with cohorts who share your views. Live your life. Over there.

 

I’ll be over here, with my tribe. We’re a busy group. We’ve got homeless to feed and shelter. We’re taking care of women who’ve escaped abusive relationships. We’re trying to make sure poor children get basic medical care. We’re teaching English to eager newcomers. We’re building houses for folks whose best hasn’t quite afforded them the opportunity of their own homes. We’re trying to stop bullying in schools, even though it has been stationed in the highest office of the land. My tribe is a good group. Just thinking about them brings me calmness and strength. And gratitude, as they are truly the best this country has to offer.

 

So yes – please unsubscribe if you’d like. Please. Tell yourself you’re not a racist, even as you forward ugly, obnoxious memes. Tell yourself you’re a good, loving parent, even as you stand up for a sexual predator. Tell yourself you’re a good person who supports folks with disabilities, even as you stand up for a bully who openly mocks the disabled. Tell yourself you’re a worthy, humane being, even as you shelve your basic morals and ethics to stand up for and support a terribly indecent person. Tell yourself whatever you need to so that you can sleep at night. And unsubscribe.

 

For the rest of you choosing to stay? My tribe? I’m back, y’all. And the gloves are off.