Tuesday, April 24, 2018

how much Does family matter?

my mom sent me this meme yesterday, and I responded to it with "did you send this to [my brother]?  I don't know why you seem to think the onus of the emotional work is on me - I never kicked him out of my house, or forbid my kid from talking to him or his cousins."  which is what my brother did to me/my teen when the teen was just a little baby in diapers - threw us out of his house.  and later, when the teen was 6, and we moved an hour up the road, bro dismissed us with an 'I'll never come visit you', and forbid his kids to talk to mine, when they had had a close relationship, and caused much anguish, confusion, and tears for my young son.

Mom:  "Of course I did.  Please do not get your knickers in a twist.  I won’t send any more stuff like that. I have given up."  but she hasn't given up, and she won't give up.  she's in her 70's, now, and has decided that she doesn't want the next time my brother and I to see each other to be at her funeral.  she wants to see her remaining family (me, my bro, our kids) all together in one place before she dies.  I don't know why, it hardly matters to me at this point (though it would be nice if the cousins could have a connection), but it Does matter to her, so she will keep trying, though she says she won't.  I think she probably doesn't know how deep the wound goes - nor do I, for that matter - I mean, I know how deep it goes for me, but I don't think my brother particularly cares.  I may be wrong, and he may be deeply wounded, too, but not having spoken to him in the past 7 years (and not much before then, though we used to be good friends), I can't say.  he's changed quite a bit, in my opinion, while I have remained constant to who I've always been (also my opinion).

so, because I am, for better or worse, who I am, I sent a joint message to both my mom and my bro this morning, and now I'm going to share it here, for my readers, because I'm the sick bitch who likes to share my pain with friends and strangers equally:

me to them:  "as per the meme our mother sent to us, I replied 'did you send this to [my bro]?  I don't know why you seem to think the onus of the emotional work is on me - I never kicked him out of my house, or forbid my kid from talking to him or his cousins.'  to you [Bro], I am saying that for a long, loooong time, I have been the bigger person when it comes to the ways I have been treated by my 'family' - no matter how much abuse, prejudice, belittling, and legal action you all have visited upon me, I have risen above, and not treated you with similar hate or arrogance.  I have lived my life, away from you, for most of 30 years, as it has been made clear that I am not good enough, my opinions are not welcome, my intelligence has been insulted, my lifestyle scorned, my parenting called into question, and that is Not, in my opinion, how a family behaves.  as a brother, you used and abused me when you should have been protecting me, and chased me out when you should have been inviting me in.  I have decades of anger stored away that has never been vented to you (though it has been shared with others), and you have much to apologize for.  how would you feel if one of [your son's] friends shoved a stuffed Odie with his tongue out between [either of your daughters'] legs?  what would you do if [your son] held his sisters down so his friend could do that to them rather than punch his friend in the face?  there are countless incidents as such that occurred throughout our lives that I could point to where you treated me like 'less than', when I have never done a goddamned thing to you, and you have perpetuated the lie that there is something fundamentally wrong with me to many family and friends to protect yourself from the truths that I have had to live with my whole life.  it's taken a lot for me to not succumb to the shame and pain you have caused both me and my child, but we are strong, amazing souls, whom you have lost out on knowing for your arrogance and erasure.  so go ahead - I have once again extended my neck for you to chop off with your need to protect yourself from the mess you attempted to leave behind.  Mom wants us to reconcile?  great - it begins with you acknowledging your part in treating me like a pariah, and apologizing for it, sincerely.  and then an ugly conversation in which you apologize for every action that directly followed.  in the rare case that I have anything to apologize for, do please let me know, though as far as I can tell, I've never done or said anything to you, or any member of your family, that can be construed in the same light as the malicious ways in which you have attempted to assassinate my character.  you go on and have yourself a lovely day, though.

"Mom - there.  I took the first step.  I'm sure you will both have quite a bit to say about how I did it wrong, or how I should have done it differently, or whatever it is you two say about me to each other.  even though [Bro] has been the favored child all these years, judging by the shitty things you have said to me about him, I'm sure you say similar things to him about me.  if you want to see reconciliation between us, you need to be responsible for your part in that conversation.  and judging by the times I asked you to be responsible for your part in that conversation with me alone, and you have done everything in your power to deflect so as not to ever have that conversation, I don't see it happening.

"I love you both very much, and have always remembered you in my prayers.  that does not mean that you deserve a place in my life, however.  seeing as how I'll be taking care of Mom after [Bro] moves away (which he absolutely Should do), I have no problem burying all animosity between she and I in order to help her get on with the business of living while she's still doing it.  I am happy to do the same for [Bro], if he deigns to take responsibility for his many cruel behaviors towards me, but I doubt there will ever be any real repair to our family unit that was torn asunder without [Dad] to hold it together.  too many years and too much bad blood - not to mention differing political views and socio-economic statuses - has passed between us, but I believe in Love, and have made it a point to only deal with those who show me love.  that is my opening statement.  Selah ~ "

I mean, you can see how that's an inappropriate thing for a teen-aged boy to do to his best friend's little sister, right?  and for my brother to not only Let him do it, but to Hold Me Down WHILE he did it, well...that's just a red flag for future behavior patterns unbecoming of a what I see as 'proper' big-brotherly conduct.

do you think my message was too harsh, on point, or not harsh enough?  do you think I should even have sent it?  should I have left the relationship to its death regardless of my mother's wishes?  do you have family members you have quarreled with and never spoken to again?  or family members you've reconciled with?  how has that come about, and how are those relationships functioning today?

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Snoopy, Come Home? *content warning for childhood trauma

while checking the statistics on the differing popularity of my various posts, it becomes clear that you sick bastards that tend to read them prefer the ugly, sordid details to the positive, happy vibes I try to bring to my life, my writing, and the world.  so I'm going to indulge you with another story of personal trauma, because that's what you like - my pain and suffering.

enjoy ~

the summer I was 11 years old, I lived the popular joke at the time that 'our' parents would move away while 'we' were at sleep-away camp.  I'm not sure who started 'the joke', the kids or the parents, but I remember getting the letter from my mom that my parents had bought a new house, and we would be moving.  she drew me a sketch of the floor plan which didn't make any sense, and it occurred to me that I was living the nightmare of not actually knowing where I lived, now.  it was mostly just preteen melodrama, because of course we still lived where I had called home for the past 8 years, but the situation was a bit disconcerting, and I felt somewhat adrift amid the news (which of those rooms in my mom's sketch was 'mine'?).  at the end of the summer, my parents not only came to pick me up, they took me back to my room in our 'old' house, and all was well, though we must have been in 'moving mode', because we began living in the 'new' house sometime in December.

one of the cool things that came along with new house was that we teens got our own phone line, because my dad didn't want to have to compete with us to make and receive calls.  not much trauma so far, right?  I mean, my parents, who loved each other, were married - they not only owned a home, they sold it and bought a new one (it was probably mortgaged to the hilt, and they later lost it).  they also sent us to sleep-away camp, and all kinds of other good stuff.  none of my other friends had their own phone lines, I don't think - it was a long time ago, who remembers?  but we had our own line, and our own phones, in our own rooms, which were right next to each other - talk about luxury (we had our own bathroom, too, with two sinks).  as a teen, I definitely fit the stereotype of yakking away with my friends for hours on my Snoopy phone, so I guess my dad's foresight paid off for him, until...

the summer after 10th grade, I started dating a guy I met at the day camp we both worked at who had graduated from high school, and was going away to college.  after our amazing summer of falling in looove, we said 'goodbye' as he left for school, but decided to stay together as he was only going to be 3 hours away, and planned to come home frequently to visit, which he did.  while he was at school, though, we spent Hours on the phone.  HOURS.  half the time, I don't even think we talked, we just held the handsets to our ears and savored the connection between us.  the other students who lived in his dorm nicknamed him 'Pa Bell' as he could frequently be found tucked into the phone booth, listening to me breathe as I listened to him.  what the hell did we find to say to one another?  I guess that's just how it is when you're in love for the first time - no need to say anything, just being 'together' was enough.  I'm old and jaded, now, but I do remember how I lived to hear his voice, and how it felt to know he was as enamored of me as I was of him.  he did make some of the calls, but since he had to use a pay phone, the majority of them were billed to...my dad.

that first month that my boyfriend was away at school, my dad called me into the kitchen one night to 'discuss' the phone bill.  it was $500.  $500!  what would You do if your teen racked up a $500 phone bill in one month?!  at 16/17, I was busy struggling with chemistry homework, making sure my double-spike-belt went with my parachute pants, having my driver's license suspended for speeding soon after I got it, and had no idea how much a local phone call cost, let alone a long distance one.  my dad was no Ward Cleaver - he was a child of the Holocaust, and an Israeli soldier - he demanded my phone, which I ran to my room to fetch, and placed on the kitchen table in front of him.  as I assume you can see from the pictures (and in case you can't, I'm about to describe it anyway), the Snoopy phone I had had a yellow handset that Snoopy held in his hand at the end of his outstretched arm.  well, my dad picked up that yellow handset, and used it to smash Snoopy's head into oblivion.  poor Snoopy...it wasn't his fault.

I'm sure I must have cried, and eventually managed to explain to my dad that I didn't know anything about local vs. long distance billing, or peak vs. off-peak calling times.  I'm sure he grounded me from phone use, specifically calls to my boyfriend...but I know he didn't make me pay the bill.  in fact, he even took me to the mall, with poor, beheaded Snoopy in a shopping bag, told the salespeople that the phone 'fell off my desk', and that he was looking to replace it.  sadly, Snoopy was a limited edition item, and I ended up getting a plain brown trimline to replace him.  the next month, the phone bill was only half of what it had been, but I was still called into the kitchen (where all family conferences took place) to explain myself.  I hadn't been on the phone because I was grounded, but there were still residual charges for calls that had been made before Snoopy's assassination that hadn't been billed yet, so I was let go without further punishment, but with another stern warning to mind my usage.

my boyfriend and I resorted to writing letters, which wasn't a bad thing, in retrospect, but I did write a good deal of those letters during school, when I should have been taking class notes and paying attention, I suppose.  I had a shoebox filled with his correspondence up on the shelf in my closet, which seems romantic in this age of texts and emojis, and I guess it is, in a sense, though our 'relationship' only lasted two years, as we broke up when I went away to college, in a town too far away from his college to easily visit each other.  in any case, I told this story of my father's violent nature (along with several others) to my teen at some point, as either an anecdote about the late grandfather he never knew, as a cautionary tale to avoid inciting my own rage-like anger, as an illustration of how much less trauma I try to inflict on him as a parent than my parents inflicted on me, or just because the memory struck me.  about a year or so ago, as we were browsing through a newer local shop that sells some vintage items, I was stopped dead in my tracks as I came face-to-face with a Snoopy phone they had on display, for sale at an exorbitant price.  my teen came up beside me, saw the phone, and asked if that was the same one I had had that my dad had smashed.  when the owner instinctively sidled up to me to try and make a sale, I heard my darling offspring volunteer that I used to have that very phone until my dad destroyed it because...I quickly slipped my hand over his mouth and hugged him to me while grinning at the owner that he had a way of not necessarily knowing what information was private, and inquiring after the price (as I said, way too much for my budget, but probably quite affordable for one of the tourists who vacations at the spa near where we live).

later, in the car driving home, the teen asked if I would really buy that phone if it was in my price range, and I said that I probably would.  I really liked that phone - it was cute, and fun, and though I'm not really into Snoopy or the Peanuts cartoon he came from, or 'branded' merchandise on the whole, I would have put that phone on my desk with a smile on my face, remembering the feeling of being in love for the first time, and being an entitled teen with not a thing in the world to worry my pretty, empty head about, and my dad, scary as he could sometimes be.  it would stand there as a testament to my having survived some of the harsher lessons of my youth, and a reminder to transcend the impulse to destroy my son's things when he uses them in ways that I find irresponsible or annoying, because I know how deeply that wound can cut, even though we know 'things' are just impermanent physical objects that are not necessary to our survival.  I'm anthropomorphising here, but it was shocking and brutalizing to watch Snoopy get his head smashed in for something I had done, and it gave me a real sense of my own responsibility towards others, and since then, I have never let another person take the blame for some wrong I had committed, even if it was as simple as accidentally ordering more apple pies from the bakery than we could sell at the farm market that week.

so take my silly little trauma to heart - while I believe there should be consequences for our children's wrong actions, brutality shouldn't be one of them.  neither should violence.  my dad had some serious trauma of his own, and while he tried to keep it in check, he sometimes failed, and often made up for it by buying me things.  I hardly ever wanted the 'things' as much as I just wanted to be 'good enough', and I would have traded all the material objects for a few more hugs, and to be told that I was worthy of his love.  in the end, I understood that I was, and we managed to reconcile our relationship before he died, thank goodness, but it was a long road to get there, and many horrible things in my life could have been avoided as a result, but...selah.  here we are.  I'm a parent now, doing my best (and often failing) at treating my son how I wish I had been treated, but I'm doing it without a partner, and a lot less money, so the rules aren't quite the same.  the truth is, I have threatened to smash my son's (hand-me-down, outdated) iphone for something I can't even remember at this point, and that's not ok - but this blog is my way to work through my issues, so here I am reminding myself why that's not ok, and to find better solutions in the future.

have you passed any of your early traumas on to your children, or perpetuated any needlessly negative familial patterns in their lives?  have you corrected the situation?  how?

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Dream Lover

one night this past winter, when it was deadly cold, Blanche had an especially vivid dream of a particular kind, which she had had before.  in this one, she walked into the dream via a tent-like enclosure, curtained off from a larger, dome-like structure. the things she understood were that she was a member of a tribe or clan, that it was deep-winter, and this collective housing structure was how her village set up their seasonal lodging so as to maintain personal privacy while conserving resources for the wider community, such as a large fire pit in the center that kept the dome warm, and served to cook the meals.  they dressed in furs and wool, had dreadlocks, seemed to be hunter-gatherers, yet also agrarians.  the people seemed to have their own distinctive roles in this society, and the women did their work while the men took care of other responsibilities.

as a young and strong leader, she was returning to her village after having been 'out in the field' for some time (a week or so?), either scouting, taking part in some sacred feminine right-of-passage for the teen women, or both.  she was cold, dirty, and stiff from a long week of hard work away from the comforts of home, and treated herself to a luxuriously hot bath in the rudimentary bathhouse before returning to her personal enclosure within the communal space, and diving into her raised platform covered in wool and furs.  as her naked skin hit the cool furs, she shivered a bit and settled in for the kind of comfortable sleep she had missed while out on maneuvers.  then she was embraced from behind by a rather large man who had been sleeping on the pallet, and been awakened by her arrival under the furs.  "You have returned," he growled in his deep voice as he curled his large body around hers, and wrapped her up in his strong arms.  she smiled, and settled herself gratefully into his warmth as his hands moved along her clean skin, and he nuzzled his face in her hair.

this man was one of the tribe's best warriors, and a leader of men.  they were lovers, and though it was 'her enclosure', she had consented to allow him to stay in it while she was away.  she was so tired when she had come in seeking her bed that it had not occurred to her that her lover might be there under the covers, waiting to embrace her, but she was glad to share his warmth, and was happy for his company.  he asked after the women's ceremony, and she responded in the broadest of terms, as technically it was none of his business - if the village council had any need for information about any of the young women, it was the older, battle-tested, clan-mothers who answered on their behalf.  it was the same for the older men, being responsible for the younger men of an age when it was time for them to leave the relative safety of their mothers' sides, and grow together as a part of the larger community.

warmed by her lover's embrace, she turned onto her back, and stretched her whole body out in a way that indicated she was fully relaxed and happy, and his hands began to stroke her in a way that was more familiar.  her skin tingled, and she responded to his attentions by turning towards him in the bed, wrapping her arms and legs around the mass of him, and climbing atop him like he was her mountain.  as his pleasure had already begun to rise beneath her, they joined in each other's climax as will lovers who know each other well.  this was certainly the best of ways to return to her own bed, her lover, and her larger community. 

"what a lovely dream!" thought Blanche, when she woke. 

as it so happened, Blanche came down with flu that same winter, and while she was sick, her fever-dreams returned her to this peaceful little village for some traditional healing.  this time, she awoke on her pallet-bed, sweating under layers of wool blankets and furs, with several other women in attendance.  there was the Eldest - an old, white-haired grandmother who was the main source of information when it came to matters of health and wellness, and her 'daughter' who may not have been a biological child so much as an apprentice to the craft, who was closer in age to Blanche's own mother.  there were others attending to her, holding as she did an esteemed place in the tribe, but these were the two by her bedside.  there were both cool and warm cloths alternately placed on her aching head, there was hearty soup spooned into her, there were hot baths, thick robes, and lots of sweaty sleep in her furnace of a bed, in her personal enclosure.  her lover was obviously elsewhere, probably in the separate tent the men kept, for the duration of her illness, or out hunting.  either way, he wasn't much on her mind, until she heard his low voice in hushed conversation with the medicine women.

she gathered that he was wondering how close she was to death, and if he needed to inform her son (who had been fathered by a previous lover that had met his death at the end of an enemy spear).  while she had raised her boy to an age where it was now the responsibility of the elder tribesmen to teach him the ways of the men, they had remained close after he moved from her enclosure to one of those the young men his age shared.  everyone was worried about her, and pulling for her return to good health.  morale was low, and a lot was riding on her recovery, so her lover was seeing what the best course of action was for him to take in order to best prepare for what might come next.  he was informed that she was still in her prime, and there was no need to worry anyone - especially her son - over her little illness.  the healers had every reason to believe she would be restored to full health in good time, she just needed her rest, that he should tend to his business, and let them tend to theirs.  Blanche rolled over in her dream-bed, and fell back to sleep.

when she woke next, she could tell it was night by the sounds in the larger tent - the remains of the evening meals being cleaned up, children being put to bed, adults stretching out around the main fire for a bit of relaxation and socializing before tucking in themselves.  she wanted to get out from under her covers and wrap up in a thick robe to join them; she was so tired of lying down and sleeping, but she still felt too weak to even throw the blankets back.  then she heard her lover arguing with the Eldest - the medicine woman was telling him to go sleep in the men's tent and leave 'Blanche' alone. he was insisting that he had bathed the hunt off of him, was scrubbed and clean beneath a clean robe, and planned on sleeping under the furs with his woman, no matter what the Eldest thought about it.  he decided that whatever risk it was to his own health to bed with her while she was still ill, she needed his strength near to draw from in order to heal herself.  she grunted at him disapprovingly, but stepped aside and let him through the curtain when she realized he was not so much arguing with her as he was informing her of his plan.

she managed to open her aching eyes long enough to see him toss his robe on top of the pile of blankets already weighing her down, his skin scrubbed so clean it shone, before he climbed under the furs next to her, and gathered her shivering body into his powerful embrace, tucking her head under his chin as he hugged her tight.  she curled into him, and whimpered despite herself.  he rocked her gently, and whispered soft endearments in her ear, while she let herself be comforted by his warmth, and his gentle care for her momentary fragility.  there's nothing quite so sweet as a big bear of a man who can be sensitive and kind when that is what's called for, she thought.  he held her through the night, and the warmth of his body drew the chill from hers.  in the morning, when he saw her smile up at him from beneath the covers, he asked if her body was sore, and skillfully massaged her muscles until she was limp with relief, and then transitioned to a more sensual kind of touch.

as he slid his hands over her pliant flesh, the Eldest poked her head in the curtain to ask how 'Blanche' was doing, and if she was ready to bathe or eat.  he growled at the old woman to leave them be, and she scolded him for being selfish with his lover's body when she was too weak to resist his advances, but she managed to cut them both off with a command of her own that she was resting comfortably with her lover, and would let the Eldest know when she was ready for the older woman's deft administrations.  settling back down under the covers, she sighed at the effort that small act took, and looked to her man to snuggle up with her again, and lend her some more of his abundant strength.  it didn't take long before they were back to arousing each other, and as the heat built up between them, her lover asked if she was sure she was ready for him, and suggested they love each other in such a way that would allow her to rest comfortably and take her pleasure without having to exert herself in any way.  she purred beneath him as she positioned herself in the way he suggested, and was rewarded with a long, slow, ride that left him breathless and spent, while she felt exhilarated and energized.

she called softly to her women (whom she knew were nearby) to help her out of bed while her lover slept, and she let them hold her up for the dizziness of her long week in bed, while she slipped into a robe and was helped to the baths, cleaned up, and enjoyed some more of the healers' delicious and fortifying soup.  with the help of her beloved Elder, she strolled slowly through the smaller herb gardens that would soon need to be tilled for spring planting, and as they looked up at the noise of a group of youths running and shouting in the distance, they saw her son pause in his revelry to acknowledge that it was his dear mother that he saw standing up and walking around, then waved vigorously before running off again with the rest of the young men.  she was definitely feeling better.  weak and tired, but better, thanks again to her dream-lover for sharing his warmth and affection with her.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

kicking the social validation feedback loop

so I got really mad at facebook recently, and decided to cut the cord.  I joined Mastodon and MeWe, but there's only three people I know on either of those platform who came over from 'fakebook', but aren't really being active on the newer boards.  I unfriended a bunch of people, too - I only had 231 friends, but I cut it down to 162, which still seems like a lot.  or maybe not, I don't know.  some people have thousands of online friends.  I feel like I should get off social media completely, not necessarily join two more platforms, but it is nice to keep in touch with people far away.  I just want to do it somewhere else, now.  if I can't move my physical location, why not my online one...and my inner location, as well.  where do I need to be?

I know where I don't need to be - around people who question my values, or insult my choices, or people who can't seem to honor the Sacred in me.  I don't want to be in a place where people are overly concerned with their own egos, make a grand big deal out of every little move they make, or hold themselves up as some kind of authority figure based on falsehoods.  I have absolutely no tolerance for racism, bigotry, prejudice, xenophobia, ethnocentrism, androcentrism, misogyny, or poor manners (among other things).  am I perfect?  hell no.  do I screw up?  definitely.  do I correct myself when I make mistakes?  damn straight I do.  one of my biggest pet peeves is people who don't immediately apologize when their poor behavior in relation to the previously mentioned issues is pointed out - you know, those folks who say things like, "well, I didn't mean it like that", or "I didn't mean you", when they should be saying, "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings", or "my understanding of that issues is obviously incomplete, and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to learn more about how to address it better".

I guess I just want to live in a liberal utopia where I don't have to put up with people with opinions so very different from mine, and I guess I tried to make fakebook that kind of online oasis for myself.  for the most part, I managed it pretty well, because when a glitch did happen to appear, all I had to do was click on that 'unfollow' button, and in extreme cases, the 'unfriend' button.  given the world we live in - or rather, the world I live in - it's good to have a place where you can connect with other folx like you who understand the particular implications of moving through the world with the same identifiers/generational traumas/genetic memories/oppressions as you.  it makes things easier when you don't have to explain why 'this thing that someone said or did made you feel a certain way', and to be supported through unpacking whatever it was that messed up that moment of your day, or changed your relationship, or made you have to decide to speak your truth, or stay silent to keep your job.  if anyone reading this has lived with the privilege of never having to deal with anything like that, I think it would be nice if you sent all the money in your wallet to your local homeless shelter, or to me personally (leave a comment, and I'll happily share my PayPal).

so what's got me all in a twist this time?  if you pay attention to the news at all, you can't really have missed the stories about the 'social media giant's' latest scandal involving not just data harvesting, but the illegal use and manipulation of said data to affect outcomes on the 'world stage' of deep politics, the workings of which are barely even known by the majority of the population.  influencing election results?  breaking up the European Union?  tracking immigrants for deportation?  multiple legal violations?  spreading hate and unrest towards refugees fleeing war-torn countries?  what business do they have, as corporations, in any of this (guns)?  more billionaires, protecting their billions while exploiting the masses (weapons of mass destruction).  but everyone is So addicted to their 'dopamine-likes', they don't even care to see the larger implications past their kids' photos and info being 'harvested' along with their stupid check-in to the local latte shop.  again, egoists - it's about More than just your silly little life, So much more, and many can't even see past the end of their own noses to bother being bothered.  I find that attitude reprehensible, and personally unacceptable.

as a result of this latest social media circus, I decided I needed to move to a 'decentralized federation of independently operated servers running free software', and I did just that.  never mind that I don't 'know' anyone over there, or that the few of my friends who came with me aren't even trying to make it work, or promoting the use of these alternative spaces, OR (and this is a big one) that any of the supposed 162 'friends' I have on fakebook don't even notice I'm gone, or care to connect via other means.  given that realization, I am happy to have committed the modern equivalent to 'social seppuku', because fuck people to whom I am only a number, or a 'follower', or some kind of ego-boost in the form of inflated self-worth connected to arbitrary numbers on a website.  sure, I could go around and 'friend' every shmuck on the internet, too, but I care less for quantity, and a great deal about quality when it comes to interpersonal connections.  I don't need followers; I like to have people willing to engage in deep and meaningful conversations with me, actively involved in my life 'in real time', and forming true community. 

while I am rather disappointed that more people in my carefully curated online sanctuary haven't chosen to make a larger collective statement about how much bullshit they are willing to overlook for the sake of their quizzes and memes, what pisses me off more are those who cynically say 'crab in the bucket' type nonsense like "you'll be back in a week."  like the globe will stop spinning for me because I'm not on fakebook anymore?  like I have nothing to do with my life but sit around and digest the content of others non-stop or cease to exist?  by god, I didn't 'check in' anywhere this week - I Must be Dead!  again, I'm pretty sure the people who say those things are the larger part of the 'out of sight, out of mind' contingent on my own 'friend' list.  the people who are just there to pay service to a past they are unwilling to let go, even though the relationship has no significance to their current life, and wouldn't piss on me if I were on fire.  what investment could they possibly have in my being nebulously connected to them online when they wouldn't make the effort to get in touch with me if they were 300 feet from me, rather than our usual 3000 miles apart?  to me, honoring the friendship we once shared looks like 'I live in the East, you live in the West, but I'm out West, so I not only let you know I'm in your vicinity, I call you to make plans to share physical space while I'm close.'  guess what?  I have Real friends who Actually do that - and I love them deeply for it.  true friendship and connection...a special kind of blessing.

while it may be hard to quit social media, so was quitting smoking cigarettes, and I managed that 7 years ago, so there's no reason to think I can't do this, too.  it may take some time, as there are people who Don't actually check in every day, and I do want to take the time to get alternate contact info for the folks I Do want to stay in touch with, as well as try and convince a few more folx to join me elsewhere on the interwebs, if they can see their way to 'what's next' rather than 'what we're used to'.  one of my friends described me as a pioneer almost 20 years ago because I make a habit of going where I want, when I want, for reasons all my own, which is something he seemed to think most people don't  do, choosing instead to settle into a location, and put roots down there.  I laughed it off as he described me as someone who seemed to him fearless and intrepid, adventuresome and dynamic, who could adapt myself easily to different cultures and climates, and as such, had opportunities to interact with a wider variety of people than the average American (I was never an average American, from the moment of my conception in the Middle-East, to my first trans-Atlantic flight in-utero that brought me to be raised in this country where I've never felt fully at one with the descendants of the white people who colonized it long ago).  in any case, I've made my decision, my proverbial bags are packed, and I'm making a change in my life that may seem drastic to some (like I care), but is of great importance to my personal development during the coming year.  

for my fakebook 'friends' who are reading this, do join me on Mastodon or MeWe - it will be nice to connect with you in a different online forum than the one I was so reluctant to join in the first place.  I knew it was a bad idea to get involved with it when I signed on, but over the years, I grew complacent as well.  no more of that.  time to pay the piper, and check out 'what comes next'.  much like our political system, we've been deceived into believing our choices are much more limited than they are - it turns out, they are not.  we have options.  let's make it a point to explore the other games in town.

what are your thoughts and feelings about this so-called scandal?  how did you feel when you heard the news?  did you make any choices or decisions based on the information you learned?  how do you stay in touch with people near and dear to your heart that are physically far removed from your main locale?

Monday, March 26, 2018

'Divining', Synchronicity, Mama-Drama, and More

The Doors - Ghost Song

during the 15 years I lived in Vermont, I grew to truly enjoy reading Rob Brezsny's Free Will Astrology column that ran in the independent newspaper, Seven Days.  so much so, I had to look it up online when I moved out of state, not so much because I'm a full-on believer in horoscopes, but because I missed Mr. Brezsny's irreverent, hopeful, mystic, weird, and wonderful pseudo-mythic poem/predictions as a way to 'divine' my week - and by 'divine', I mean it the same way Jim Morrison and The Doors taught me to mean it back when I was a young teen, falling in love with Jim's poetry.  I'm going to share Mr. Brezsny's blurb for my sign this week because he speaks of this same concept in relationship to a former Beatle: 
"One day, Beatles' guitarist George Harrison decided to compose his next song's lyrics "based on the first thing I saw upon opening any book." He viewed this as a divinatory experiment, as a quest to incorporate the flow of coincidence into his creative process. The words he found in the first book were "gently weeps." They became the seed for his tune "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Rolling Stone magazine ultimately named it one of "The Greatest Songs of All Time" and the tenth best Beatle song. In accordance with the astrological omens, I recommend you try some divinatory experiments of your own in the coming weeks. Use life's fun little synchronicities to generate playful clues and unexpected guidance."
this is particularly relevant to me as "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" is one of the songs I have been assigned to play in my upcoming 'adult rock' show, and while I don't live my life according to horoscopes, I Do pay Very close attention to synchronicities.  do you know the difference between a coincidence and a synchronicity?  a coincidence can be described as "a remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent causal connection", while a synchronicity can be defined as "the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection".  like, for instance, this past week I had the flu, and my mom, who lives too far away to casually drop by and bring me homemade chicken soup was feeling the way a Jewish mother might about that, and said something along the lines of 'why can't your chef-friend who lives up the road bring you some soup?'  I groaned back something about how my chef-friend was probably at work, and has his own large family to take care of, so I would never be so selfish as to request such a thing of him.  I don't remember if it was later that day, or sometime the next day, that my dear friend who is the lovely wife of my chef-friend showed up at my door to deliver a tub of soup her husband had made.  fantastic.

my mom sent a need out to the Universe on my behalf, and it responded.  that was some damn good soup, too!  I felt it working magic in my body as I hungrily slurped down the garlic, potatoes, chicken, carrots, broth, and whatever else was floating around in there.  not only did it feed and nourish me, it did the same for my son, who hadn't been getting fed properly because I was down for the count for several days.  double magic.  so following Mr. Brezsny's advice, I'm using this experience 'to generate playful clues and unexpected guidance'.  I have another friend who happened to recently be eating at the establishment where the chef-friend works, right up the road from my house.  that friend sent a message suggesting they (her and the kids) might stop by after their meal for a visit.  I let her know I was fine with the kids all hanging out, but that I was flu-ish, and not great company.  she bowed out.  now, while her response is completely fair, the part that I'm sticking on is she never once asked if I needed anything, like, say...some soup.  now, to be fair, this is also a friend that has been rubbing me wrong for quite some time, and I'm more than done with some of the differences of opinion we've been having - case in point, I recently asked her why we're even friends.  she had a list of reasons (all good), so I let my frustration go at the time, only to have it rear it's ugly head again in a few days time.

this is a clue.  a Big one.  in our online world, where so many interactions take place on social media where you can say whatever you want almost without consequence, and be whoever you want by presenting a certain image of yourself, I am confronted with the dilemma of knowing a person, and who they are, as opposed to who they like to present themselves as being.  now, while it's not my intention to run this person down in my blog, I am using their behavior as an example to segue into a statement about my young adulthood as opposed to that of my sons - the fact that my parents were Not friends with the parents of Any of my friends' parents.  I find this bit of information fascinating, and wonder at its significance.  I don't remember how the planning conversations went, it was a rather long time ago, after all, but I do recall getting dropped off and picked up at friends' houses, without my mom sitting politely in the kitchen sipping tea or coffee with any of the other moms while we kids played.  I do remember one weird night when we were invited to dinner by one friend's parents, but it turned out that they were a missionary family, and my parents never wanted to repeat what must have been a very unpleasant experience for them to maintain their decorum through. 

from elementary school, through junior high, and high school, my parents never had anything but a passing acquaintance with any of the parents of my - or my brother's for that matter - friends.  so why have I felt compelled to be?  I will admit that since my son has been a part of my life, I have made it a habit of spending time with the moms of the kids whose company he has enjoyed - from the playgroup we attended from the time he was 4 months old, to some of the moms of the public school kids he befriended, to the moms (and dads) of the homeschool kids he grew close to.  at this point, my son has had the same two 'best friends' for several years running, and any free time he has for socializing is (hopefully) spent in the company of one or both of them.  now, I'm a hard person to get along with, and I have my share of ups and downs with every person I attempt to befriend, but I have to say that one of the 'besties' moms is so incredibly easy-going, it's awfully hard Not to get along with her, and I'm happy to sit and sip tea with her whenever we get the chance.  the other one...mostly makes me want to punch her.

I haven't always felt that way - in fact, some of the best memories shared on this blog through our family tradition of keeping a yearly Memory Jar involve things we've done, or experiences we've shared, with that mom and her family.  so what gives?  frankly, there's something in me that wants to blame facebook, but I know it goes deeper than that.  facebook is merely the vehicle that delivers the hatred to me via my perception of her as a person 'in real life' as opposed to who she pretends to be online.  awhile back, when my son transitioned from homeschooling back to public school, I was going to write a post comparing and contrasting our experiences between the two, but it got passed over for something else more relevant to my life at the time, and there was a bit of the old 'I don't want to hurt certain people' thought process that went into the decision to scrap it.  in retrospect, the people who may have been hurt by anything I have to say don't read my blog, and wouldn't think twice about posting something that might hurt me, so why should I care?  one of the main points of that post would have been the way homeschooling people seem to belittle and mock public schoolers, and how incredibly rude and unnecessary that seems to be, let alone what a terribly poor model for behavior it is to show one's children.

so guess what 'clue' I recently received from the Universe through some seemingly random facebook comments?  yeah...the 'unexpected guidance' that one of my friends in particular isn't really all that good of a friend.  and couple that with the recalled information that my own mom barely knew the first names of my friends' moms, and I think it's time to see just how strong my kid's bond with her kid is, because I'm pretty done with overlooking all this online posturing, and dealing with what's real, because I don't think that mom and I need to see eye to eye in order for our teens to have a long-term, fulfilling relationship with each other.  the trick is, how hard will it be to pull back without unnecessarily hurting her feelings - again, not that she's ever seemed to give much of a damn about hurting mine?  maybe it won't be hard at all, because maybe we're not as close as I seem to think.  that's a possibility.  I maintain an amount of friendships that can be counted on one hand - I mean, sure, I know more people than that, but the number of folks I consider myself close to are Very few in number, so it's completely possible that I'm overestimating my importance to this person.  maybe she'll actually be relieved to no longer have to be forced into chatting with me when she'd rather not, or have her opinions be called out by someone whose opinion she doesn't care for, herself!

I know I'm not alone in this feeling, as a quick internet search for "I hate my kid's friend's parents" returned 61 million results in under a second, even though only the first 5 results, give or take a few, seem relevant.  just like anything else, if I've thought it, 5,000 other people have, too.  in fact, the kids all had plans to hang out today, and while they're all here, now, the one's mom popped in to say 'hey', and let me know what her plans were, and the other...dropped off and ran without even so much as a how-do-you-do.  which is fine with me, really - I know she's mad because I unfriended her on facebook, but like I said earlier, our interactions there had yielded nothing but bad blood between us, and let her know weeks ago that if she kept pissing me off online, I was going to hit that 'unfriend' button.  so - between pretending to be who I know she isn't, to differences in political opinion, to mocking my schooling choices, to telling me 'one dissenting voice needs to silence itself and go along with the status quo', to missteps with my ethnic identity, to claiming ethnic identity she doesn't have, etc., etc., and so forth, I had finally had enough.  and yet her teen is at my house, dropped off without incident.  let's see how pick-up goes, and I'll have a real sense of how this going to work out. 

my teen is supposed to go chill at her place in a few days, too, but...one thing at a time.  sometimes I wish friendships weren't so hard for me, but at other times, I'm sure I could have 100 shallow friendships if I wanted them.  but I generally don't.  I want deep understanding and love, and trust, or it's not worth it to me.  I'm too old for posturing, and I never had any patience for childish games in the context of relationships.  life is too short, too magical, too precious, and too full of amazing daily miracles to get bogged down in the 'mama-drama' some people seem to thrive on.  I'm not innocent of having gotten caught up in it myself, from time to time, but I invite you to take a wild guess at who was involved, and then nod your head in understanding when my reasons for stepping back click into place.  I'm going to take one last stab at synchronistic divination to end this post by opening the book next to me to a random page:

...and it spoke to me of Iambe/Baubo, of obscenity and belly laughs, seeing through the nipples, and speaking from the vulva.  a certain kind of sacred sexuality that reminds me that I forgot to tell you how my Dream Lover helped me get over the flu.  next time, my loves, next time... 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Weekly Wordle 344


silky birth saturate soul sharp dish truth shadows broken rain veils music

                                        the rain


          shadowed truths

that saturate

                       my soul

like sharp


of the 



                  as it



like birth

                        across the floor


                                my image

of deep




Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Did you know Ritual Work is Central to the Human Capacity for Empathy?

ritual:  a religious or solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order; relating to or done as a religious or solemn rite.

like many people in growing numbers, I don't consider myself much of a religious person, but I do consider myself a spiritual one.  if you type 'spiritual not religious' into a search bar, you'll probably get the same 179 million results that I did in the same .52 seconds, including its own wikipedia entry.  I didn't read any of the articles (ok, I scanned the wiki, because I love it as a jumping-off point for oh-so-many things), I was just curious to see what would come up, as I was when I did an image search for 'ritual'.  interesting results there, as well - some expected, some...rather less so, but not all that surprising, nonetheless.  I went there because I'm following a theme of late, and this is where last week's the Monday blog from two weeks ago led me.  aside:  last week's blog was off-topic, I just needed to get that one off my chest, and I threw down a few sentences yesterday for The Sunday Whirl just for fun.  in any case (there's a phrase I use too often), I'm back on track with my theme of pulling myself back from the depths of single-parenthood, and returning to my former place as a creative writer/artist/thinker.

what the..?  oh, Church of Satan, you got me with that pig's head, because that image from the Amityville Horror still haunts my nightmares!  but you've been pretty cool, lately, so I'll let it go...(O_o)

ok, that pig's head is freaking me out...where was I?  oh yeah, ritual.  in researching ways to relocate my Muse, and get my life back on some sort of track, I cross-referenced several sites about 'habits of successful people' and made myself a list to follow in an attempt to get more of the important stuff that would further my goals getting done inside all the daily business of being the 'head of household'.  one of those 'habits' involves creating rituals around the activities that support those goals, so I revamped my schedule to include that kind of ritual in my daily practice.  I did manage to get the grocery shopping done this week, and do all the writing/editing work-for-hire that I had to complete (yay, me!), as well as practice for my show, but the dishes are still in the sink, and my hair is so dirty, I don't even want to talk about it.  baby steps...baby steps!  since it's Monday, my goals today involve writing this blog post, practicing my songs for my upcoming show, washing my hair, getting the teen to his show rehearsal, and yes, that sink full of dishes.  there's more, such as dealing with my long overdue correspondences, actually reading the book I borrowed from the library, and planning my Equinox ritual.  ah - Ritual!  there we are again...

why is it always white people?  "The Youth of Bacchus" by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1884

as part of my desire to renew some of my former spiritual practices, I invited some of my friends to join me in celebrating the 'wheel of the year' by gathering together for the purpose of performing ritual during the Solstices, Equinoxes, full and new moons.  these gatherings have been more and less successful, given the times of year, work schedules, and other people's personal dramas, but I continue to work on my own practice, and keep the door open for anyone who wants to show up.  there are those who say this sort of Work is important to them, and there are those who actually engage in it.  I want to share this small thing I wrote to one I believe to be the former, who claimed to be bored at the beach because there was 'nothing to do', and they had no tolerance for sitting still:

our bodies are made of seawater, our babies grow in our saltwater wombs, the ocean covers 3/4 of our Earth, it is the Primordial Mother, respect Her. there is Deep Ritual to be done near the ocean, deep truths to learn, absorb, and soak in. the ocean can kill you in a second, and never once care...it is powerful, and overwhelming, and yet...people ride it. there is an entire Universe beneath the waves, aliens of every shape and form, depths we cannot plumb - our fragile, terrestrial bodies, seemingly so strong and agile on land, have no power there, are crushed under her pressure, devoured by her children. it is both life-giver, and life-taker. entering Her is a risk, and pure joy, connection with the Absolute. we die under each wave, are reborn each time we emerge into light and air. the rhythm of the waves is the rhythm of our heartbeat...feel it ebb and flow. sitting/being still is a blessing of one's own connection to inner peace, while attachment to monkey-mind fills one with doubts and boredom, as constant activity can indicate an avoidance of the inner voice, whispering 'step back...breathe...calm down'. quiet the mind, connect with the heart, just Be. the Ocean as God-being is enamored of the Moon, rising to meet Her, flowing with Her, deepest Love.

be bored, or choose to See. Divine yourself, learn something new. face what is breaking your heart, fall apart, and let Her put you back together. be thankful for the opportunity to Connect with your deepest longing, or choose to turn away from the Mother for fear of seeing who you really are. this Depth is not for everyone, only the strong - true inner strength - can face themselves inside it. can you choose to see? or will the knowledge smash the mirror of the image you've created out of fear of really being seen? I see you...I see You. learn to see yourself inside all the layers you're wrapped up in. when you're ready... we're only given so much time, but the Ocean is Eternal. Honor Her, and learn to accept Her blessing.

sometimes, as a financially disadvantaged single mom, I look in at other people's lives from the outside, and feel a small tinge of jealousy for what they appear to have.  I'm learning to break myself of this habit, because I have had at least two close friends in my life that appear to 'have it all', yet suffer from this inability to 'be still', and it breaks my heart, because I feel it comes from deep inner pain, and I have a longing to help them move through it.  but it's not my place...it's not my place.  if they want my help, it's on offer, but I won't hand it to them unless they ask.  one of them did, once, but they wanted to do the wrong Work for the wrong reasons, and when the tools I gave them didn't move them towards those goals, they suffered even worse in the end.  I don't envy people that kind of pain, and I am grateful to be able to truly 'sit' with myself, and build on the solid base I was so blessed to have been born into, and raised with.

Buddhist prayers in Thailand

what was I born into and raised with?  well, I was born Jewish, and I still identify as Jewish, though my family was not what I call 'temple Jews'.  when I was in grade school, I used to say that we 'weren't so much religious as we were cultural', as my father had emigrated to Israel in the early 1940's, when he was around 4 years old, and grew to adulthood there, only moving to the US in the late 1960's.  my mom's people had been in the States since the early 1900's or so, with my great-grandparents having come here from Poland and Russia (Ukraine), respectively.  while my mother's parents were certainly what I considered to be 'temple Jews', my dad's people weren't the least bit religious.  growing up, I remember going to my mother's parents synagogue to celebrate Purim, and a massive Passover seder at their house that included the whole extended family, as well as friends and neighbors.  we celebrated Hannukah either at the grandparents or our home, and Sukkot was pretty much at our house, though my earliest ones may have been at the grand-folks.  Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur were temple holidays, and there was a dairy meal for Shavuot, but that's about it.

there are A LOT of Jewish holidays, and we didn't come anywhere near celebrating them all.  there were holidays that were celebrated on my dad's kibbutz (communal farm) in Israel that I remember getting a mention - Tisha B'Av, Lag B'Omer, Tu BiShvat - that we didn't really celebrate, and a host of other remembrances that weren't that big a deal in the US, so they slipped quietly by.  we did, at some point, begin to celebrate Shabbat every Friday evening, but at this point, I don't remember if that's something we did at the grandparents' house, and later moved to ours, but I do know that as a teenager, I couldn't go anywhere on Friday nights until after 'Friday night dinner', which typically didn't 'end' until late.  again, we weren't temple goers for Shabbat, but that was the day my mom put the chicken soup up to simmer while she cleaned the house, and we were all expected to be home, and dressed more than casually though not necessarily fancy, for our ritual meal that generally included my grandparents, and took place in the dining room rather than our eat-in kitchen, on the 'good plates', with great-grandma's 'silver'.  the prayer book came out, though our ritual was short and sweet, and we all stood up until it was over, wished each other "Shabbat Shalom" (sabbath peace), then sat down to enjoy the big meal and each others company as the collective sigh that ended our week, and brought the relative peace of the weekend into our lives.  while I still observe some of the Jewish holidays, I don't bring the same depth of them to my child as my ancestors did for me.

lol - I think this image is from some television documentary about the roots of Judaism, but it serves to illustrate what Shabbat looked like at our house, though we had dad at one end of the table, mom at the other, the grandparents on one side, and my bro and I on the other.  the dog, of course, took his place under the table, in case anyone dropped anything... 

when I was in high school, and soon after I graduated, I became aware of the first of my peers that began to have issues with drugs and/or alcohol, and, subsequently, 'the law'.  people I knew went to jail and/or rehab.  it was a bit scary, I guess, because some of them were guys I had crushes on, or guys I knew from work (no girls).  I don't know where I got the idea, but I remember thinking that maybe they didn't have the same strength of spirit I did due to my 'religious-ish' upbringing, and strong faith in...whatever I thought of at the time as 'god'.  it wasn't an old man on a throne in the sky, at that point, like the prayer-books in the temple suggested (though it had been), but was evolving into something...more.  maybe simply a belief in something greater than myself, though I didn't know what.  I was still too naive to take things like family history with addiction, poverty, or abuse into account, let alone mental or chronic illness, among other factors.  by then, I had long since discovered the occult books section in the local library, so I must have already been on my way to my own personal belief system, but I was still largely connected to my Jewish roots.

sometime after I turned 20, surrounded by a completely new group of friends and acquaintances who were, for the most part, not Jewish - upon reflection, most of my close high school friends had been - I had, in them, a new platform in which my understanding of the occult and esoteric practices could not only grow, but was encouraged to flourish.  I was introduced to new ideas, new books and authors, new practices and ways of thinking, new music and art.  I went to my first pagan gathering, out of which a new coven formed, of which I was an integral member.  we met regularly for ritual gatherings, some deeply meaningful for me, and, I think, for others.  but my soul is often restless, and I moved around the country for awhile, so I found other groups to work with when I lived far from my core group, but always circled with them when I was near.  eventually, I moved permanently 'away' and lost touch with my coven as our lives evolved apart from each other.  one of my two closest contacts within the group married someone I didn't much like, and the other...well, let's just say we had a weird conversation that made me uncomfortable, so I stopped calling, and I guess they didn't miss me enough to notice.  it's said that all good things come to an end, and given the nature of Life, and/or my experience with it, I tend not to disagree.  some good things just seem to last longer than others, I suppose.

image taken from the Damanhur website 'A laboratory for the future of humankid.  looks interesting, if a bit 'white-people-y'.
image taken from the Damanhur website - 'A laboratory for the future of humankind'.  looks interesting, if a bit 'white-people-y', but click the pic if you care to check it out.

in my new environment, being a Seeker after a certain kind of Knowledge, new learning quickly revealed itself to me, and I traveled further down the path I had been walking since...when?  since I was 15.  that was a pivotal year for me - I got my first period, my first glimpse of a 'Solomon's Seal', and lost my virginity.  I probably should have waited a bit on that last one, but...such is the folly of youth, and I was hungry for information about life, and how to live it.  I had become what is known as a 'solitary practitioner', doing ritual alone in my room, or out in the woods and fields, occasionally with a like-minded friend or two, but I was exploring my own inner-space, and the lessons were powerful, manifesting themselves through my art and writing.  during that time, I 'produced and directed' my first (extraordinary) public ritual/performance that I neglected to properly 'ground', so the energy went flying off in a series of unfortunately destructive events affecting several people (whether or not they knew it), and as a result, I stopped messing around with that level of Work for awhile, since I didn't have a larger group to work with collectively, and I thought it wise to reign myself in a bit.

so, life became much more mundane, and I found myself working a series of low-level boring jobs to pay the bills, engaged in a sometimes-incredibly-fulfilling-but-mostly-not relationship, and aside from the every-now-and-again playful appearance of my Muse, just living my life in the day-to-day work/eat/sleep grind that some choose to define as adulthood.  during that period of my life, my father passed away, and as heartbreaking as it was for me, I did experience some supremely powerful energy and connection surrounding his death that I may not have been open to, or able to experience, if I didn't have such a strong grounding in esoteric knowledge and occult/meditative practices.  oddly enough, it was just before his death that I was asked by a woman I knew if I could create a public sacred space (labyrinth) for her to perform a ritual within, which I agreed to do, and completed after I returned from my father's funeral.  I was so exhausted from the work, I didn't even take part in the event, and spent most of the night just trying to regain my balance, and connecting with people in attendance who hadn't heard the news of my father's passing, and were wondering where I'd been.

this is not the one I made - mine had a large center area with room for the ritual within, and had high walls that were white near the entrance, progressing to pink, red, and then black at the center to simulate entering/exiting a womb.  spooky...

then I got pregnant and had a baby, which was a sort of ritual of its own.  while my son's conception was not a planned event, both his father and I, having a grounding in magical Work, must have been connected to certain energies during the..umm...'moment', and I felt (and saw) my son's Being enter my womb like a lightening bolt traveling through the Tree of Life.  while my lifestyle during my pregnancy was difficult in the sense of my extremely diminished socio-economic status, I felt incredibly strong and healthy, and somehow sure that everything was going to turn out ok.  this is from my post two weeks ago:  "While I was pregnant/single/unemployed/homeless, I asked with my anger where all the Good Energy I put out into the Universe had gone.  I questioned all those times over the years that I danced naked in the woods around a bonfire, connecting with the Absolute, sweating in lodges, and cold-plunging into the lake - directing the Work towards where it was most needed, howling under the stars.  Where Did It Go?  WHY wasn't it helping me NOW?  the moment my son was placed on my chest the answer came, as I welcomed him with the words, "there it is!"  and lo, there he was."  actually, the first thing I sad to my son was, "hi!" but you get the idea...  at some point during my labor, I remember there being a quorum of...shamans (warlocks?  Beings? who were they?) in my head, chanting to me from inside a cave, around a fire.  they definitely helped, though I still don't know who they were.

there are a multitude of images that illustrate this theory of energy flowing into manifestation, but this was the simplest I could find, assuming the reader's complete unfamiliarity with these concepts.

 most of the magical Work I've done since becoming a mother has revolved around using a healing touch on my son when he has been ill, and moving energy around and through him that is nurturing, loving, joyful, and happy.  'ritual' became more about bedtime routines and daily schedules, and 'magic' was all about helping a new human discover the natural world - acorns, pinecones, flowers, animals, sunshine, music, movement, floating on the water, digging in the sand and dirt, rocks, the moon and stars...everything was magical, everything was a miracle, every little thing was an incredible blessing, and our days were filled with moments of the purest joy and wonder.  the Universe blessed us with a really big, rainbow colored Hoberman Sphere with glow-in-the-dark joints that my darling boy used to camp out inside, and that was a kind of magic, too - from a very young age, he had a kind of knowledge of how energy expands and contracts, and often chose to sit inside what I consider to be a very real expression of both a macro- and microcosm, and learned how the two related to each other, and to the forces outside ourselves, as well.

oy, my little monkey!  he was such a happy baby ~ 💖

but back to ritual - we/I have had some opportunities to circle up with friends over the past decade or so, and while it's been nice to celebrate in community, these circles have lacked any real power or energy, like the ones I experienced as a young adult.  I remember asking a friend when we were in our 30's if she wanted to do a solstice ritual with me, and she snarked back that she hadn't done that since she was in her 20's, which communicated clearly to me that to her, 'that kind of stuff' belonged to a certain time and place, and we were too old for that sort of youthful nonsense.  I beg to differ.  there is always time and place in my life to connect to that 'bigger-than-me' that people call by many different names.  today is the Vernal Equinox, and circling back to the beginning of this post, where I defined 'ritual', and discussed my desire for more of it in my life, in several forms - both to structure my days around, and to engage in spiritual Work - I plan to celebrate by smudging my home, opening windows and doors (even though the high temp. for today may reach 40F), and sweep out negativity. I will do yoga, and meditate. I will prepare offerings for my personal deities, and share them with the Earth. I will light a fire, and dance on a bank of the Esopus Creek. I will chant and raise my arms to the Heavens. I will connect with the Absolute.  maybe some friends will join me, maybe they won't.  either way, I won't be alone.

how do you celebrate/connect/create ritual today and everyday?

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Whirl - Wordle 343

haven't done this in awhile, thought it might be nice to throw down:

heap wild cajole means wolf practice small kind cringe close called blight

my Teen Wolf, as I like to call him, is wild over the blight known to him as 'English homework', in the form of what's called an 'Article of the Week', for which he has to read an article, summarize it, and write what he thinks about the issue addressed.  this small practice, I've explained to him time and again, will be of immense help to him when he enters high school, and is required to write full-on research papers and personal essays.  writing is Not his forte (go figure), and he asked for help with this one, which means I have to cajole him with every kind fiber of my being (not many) to get through this cringe-worthy exercise in pulling sentence after sentence out of a reluctant student.  it takes heaps of calm not to rise to his arguments, or attempts to side-line the activity with various distractions.  we've been at it for over two hours, and I hope we're getting close to being done, as I'm about out of patience for the activity myself!

click on the link below for directions on how to participate, and once there, click on 'Home' for this week's wordle, which is also posted above ~

Monday, March 12, 2018

Warning: Possible Triggers for Abuse and/or Childhood Trauma

I'm not even sure how to start this week's blog.  I had a subject I wanted to write about, and even tagged the page a few days ago to leave myself a prompt for where I wanted to start today, following the theme I have been working with, but I had a conversation this past weekend that scrambled my mind a bit, and I guess I want/need to deal with that instead, even though it's rather disturbing and personal, and involves some hard, possible truths about people other than myself, as well.  or maybe it doesn't - I'll have to see how it plays out, and decide whether or not I need to 'protect the innocent' after it's all written.  so hang in there, or duck out now...it may get ugly. 

While visiting my mom this weekend, at some point in our conversation she asked me if I remembered being 'molested' by one of my babysitters.  Now, I'm not entirely sure what we had been talking about that made her ask that, but I have an idea...it had to do with my brother and his friends, and their ways of behaving towards me, so that in and of itself was weird enough, but I had no idea what she was talking about with this alleged molestation, so I said as much, and asked who it was, and what happened.  She gave me a brief sketch in hushed tones, because my teen was across the room, napping peacefully in a comfy chair.  She asked if I remembered her friend So-and-So, who had the two sons, one of them nice, the other one not so much.  I remembered the friend So-and-So's name, but only because of her gorgeous dog - an Irish Setter; the first, and possibly only, I had ever known - whom I adored for her soft, pretty red hair, and lovely name that seemed to suit her so well.  I have no recollection of the friend herself, nor either of the sons.  Apparently, one of the sons babysat me one night, behaved inappropriately, and what I told my mom about what happened caused her to never speak to that friend again, end of story.

So here's what's fucking me up about this - or rather, I have some questions...who was this guy?  What was his name?  How old was he?  How old was I?  Where did this take place?  When?  Where were my folks that night?  Where was my brother?  Where in the house did this alleged abuse take place?  What did he do to me?  Why don't I have any memory of it...or do I?  Was I taken to a therapist?  What did my dad say or do?  Did my mom ask my brother about it?  What did he say?  Was he aware it had happened?  Was it ever addressed again, or was it forgotten about entirely?  Did I have any issues surrounding it?  What were they?  Should I ask my mom for more information, or should I leave it in the past?  Should I seek counseling?  Has it had any long-term effects on me?  What the fuck?!  I mean, there are obviously people in the world (way too many) that know exactly who did what to them, how often, and for how long (who have my deepest sympathy), and next to some of the horrific abominations that happen in this world, my tiny issue is an insignificant little nothing, and it is with bearing those atrocities in mind that I think it's worth my time to just brush this little 'factoid' off and move on, but it doesn't seem to want to leave my mind right now.  It may well in the future, with some time between having this nugget of truth dropped on me, and the rest of the important facts of life going at speed all the time, but for Right Now, I can't help but feel like all I want to do is love and nurture that poor little child that may have been violated, and hold her, while reassuring her that she's ok.

Without knowing what happened, it's hard to make a judgement call on how 'bad' the actual incident was, and I'm not sure that matters at all.  Does it?  This is an area in which I have very little experience, and maybe that's why I'm so fucked up about it.  I know a great deal about a lot of things, but I'm also quick to admit when I'm out of my depth.  This feels like a big, empty, dark room without any reference points to me, and I'm not used to being lost, because I've always managed to find myself, wherever I am, and get back to where I need to be, but I may need a map for this one.  I can answer some of my own questions with basic deductive reasoning, such as...okay maybe I can't, but I'm here to work through it, so I'll go through them one at a time.

"Who was this guy/What was his name/How old was he?" - well, he was the older of the two sons of my mom's friend.  I don't think there's any more to be said about that, but I guess if I wanted to know more, I'd wonder where he went to school, who were his friends, did they know he liked to do the things he did - did he even like to do those things?  Were there other little kids he did them to, or just me?  Was it just a thing he did to see if he could get away with it?  Was it a real problem?  Did it continue throughout his life, was it once, what was it?  Does his name matter?  If I find out, will it change anything?  I would like to know how old he was at the time, because I feel like it will give me some clue as to what he was thinking...or...something, I don't know.  Well, that just brought up more questions, so let's move on.

"How old was I/Where did this take place?" - this I would definitely like to know.  I can assume it was in the house we lived in during the years I was 4 through 12, because I think that's when my mom was friends with that woman...but it could have been the house before that (which would mean I was less that 4 years old when it happened?).  I know for certain it wasn't after that, because we didn't have babysitters anymore by the time I was 12.

"Where were my folks that night/Where was my brother/When/Where in the house..." - the first part hardly matters, I'm just curious (were they out with the babysitter's parents?).  Maybe wondering how much my mom remembers, or how late a night it was.  The rest of the questions are really important - I assume we kids were both home (why would they have taken my brother with them?), so the 'when' question is more about whether the babysitter put us to bed in our respective rooms first?  Was my brother asleep in his own room when it happened in my room?  Or was he awake for the incident, and possibly watching or involved?  Did the babysitter send my brother to bed first, then keep me awake?  Did it happen somewhere else in the house?  Did it happen early in the evening, or in the wee hours of the morning?  Does it matter?  I think the timing has a lot to do with my questions surrounding my brother's presence/possible involvement, which leads into my statement above about how he and his friends later behaved towards me...you see? 

"What did he do to me/Why don't I have any memory of it...or do I/Was I taken to a therapist?" - Mom said I told her 'his penis didn't taste good', so...I guess he had me put my mouth on his penis, but is that all he did?  And how much of 'that' did he do?  Just make me touch it with my lips and/or tongue, or make me (convince me to) put it in my mouth?  Did he climax?  So many questions around this...  I must have blocked it out, because that's obviously a normal and frequent response to this kind of thing, but I feel like that for so long I was not into touching a man's genitalia during sex, that on some level, I must have had some kind of aversion-response.  And there was this weird dream I remember having as a kid that involved some disturbing sexual imagery of masked people touching my body in ways that I felt were probably wrong, but if I was just quiet and let it happen, than I would be 'good', get rewarded, and be celebrated.  At the end of the dream, I remember having my hair washed and styled, tied up in a new ribbon, and being carried on the shoulders of the two men I loved most at that time (who seemed grim and wooden), like I was some kind of hero for having endured the 'treatment'.  I doubt I was brought to a therapist, because of the next question:

"What did my dad say or do?" - I'm going to say with 98% certainty that my dad was Not told, because he would have murdered that babysitter.  I mean literally.  It would have taken a great deal of convincing, and several large, strong men restraining him to get him to Not kill the babysitter.  I mean, given the way he trained the dog to kill anyone who attacked us violently, he would have been beside himself for failing to protect us from people who appeared to be friendly or kind.  How could the dog have known I was being molested?  If I didn't cry out, or if there wasn't violence, I don't think the dog would have known to react, which also suggests the babysitter wasn't inherently a 'bad' person, because that dog Knew bad people, and protected us from them more than once, when they weren't doing anything more than being friendly (their 'crimes' only became apparent later).  There's no way in hell my dad ever knew this happened.  There was an incident in our family involving another young girl who Wasn't me, and given the way he reacted to That, well...nope.  My mom kept this a secret.  If she had taken me/us to therapy, our dad would have wanted to know why.

"Did my mom ask my brother about it/What did he say/Was he aware it had happened?" - again, it seems like my mom just chose to sit with this herself, and either convinced me/us to forget it, or that it didn't happen.  I'm Really curious as to my brother's level of involvement, or knowledge of what went down that night.  Was it only that one night?  How many times did that loser sit for us?

"Was it ever addressed again, or was it forgotten about entirely/Did I have any issues surrounding it/What were they?" - I'm gonna say no, yes, probably, and varied.  Seeing as how I have no memory of the incident, it was probably swept quickly under the rug, and never discussed again.  My mom probably thought that was best for herself, and possibly for me (and my brother) as well.  I'm sure there were issues.  There had to be.  As I mentioned, I had a pretty strong aversion to oral sex when I became sexually active - at an age I think of now as too young (though not ridiculously so), and go figure, given this new info.  I've had lots of sexual encounters with men who treated me inappropriately, and I'm beginning to see why, maybe? 

"Should I ask my mom for more information, or should I leave it in the past/Should I seek counseling/Has it had any long-term effects on me?" - I want to ask for more info, but it's really uncomfortable, and knowing my mom, she'll be reluctant to discuss it, which will once again make me the bad guy for forcing a conversation she's not willing to have, even if it involves my own healing.  I will most likely seek some form of counseling, just to hash it out in a manner other than overeating, or punishing myself in other unhealthy ways.  I'm sure there are effects, as mentioned above. 

"What the fuck?!" - why would she tell me Now (maybe she's been repressing it, or is just able to deal with it herself)?  and so casually...did she think I'd just be like, 'oh, haha, never mind, it was all so long ago, la-de-da!'  Was it because of the discussion we were having?  So fucked up on so many levels, and makes me wonder even more about how much my brother knew, or was involved.  I can't help but wonder if this incident is the impetus for everything that's ever gone wrong in my life because I wasn't given the opportunity to deal with it, or decide for myself how I wanted to handle it (again, how old Was I?), or I'm overreacting to the news of it as a way to make it the 'all-encompassing excuse for everything'.  Not that I need any excuses, I'm fully willing to accept 100% of the responsibility for the poor choices I've made over the years (as well as the good ones, because I've made plenty of those, too), but could I be staring into the abyss of what helped shape my sexuality, and my perceived inability to form lasting romantic relationships?  I thought it was just that I'm such a bitch, and have impossibly high standards, but...it could be more.  It could go deeper.  It could have something to do with the ways in which I allowed myself to be violated over and over again because I was taught/learned/surmised that my worth was tied up in how men valued me sexually, and that my role was, as I mentioned earlier, to keep quiet and let them do what they wanted, no matter how it made me feel, in order to earn some reward, like being valued, or celebrated as a Queen should be by her King.  Problem is, I've never had a 'King', or even a 'noble' boyfriend - just a series of Jokers, with one enlightened yet highly damaged pauper who may have actually come close to loving me, as much as he was able, for a brief period that didn't last as long as our short relationship.  It's a wonder I learned to enjoy sex, though I finally did - just in time to not ever have it again, as my age, weight, and refusal to settle for less has rendered me undesirable.  Selah ~