F33.1

That cloudy state of mind where

The voices become tinnitus,

And the world beyond the perimeter becomes

As vague and amorphous as the view thru a

Greasy window.

That underlying sound ebbs and flows

From peaceful cicadas to screeching sirens.

The view waxes and wanes

From lava lamp to acid flashback.

And inside this…

Inside this plexiglass box…

I still seek refuge in the corners

Where the screaming mumbles are quietest,

And the melting swirls are more colorfast.

I hate this tardis-like container of mine

That apparates of its own accord,

No warning or pattern.

Neither banging my fists on its walls,

So flexible, they seem liquid,

Nor shouting for mercy thru tears of

Sanity (Insanity?) at its edge

Break the plastic barrier between.

Between me and everything else.

Everyone else.

I give up.

I give in.

I wait for its moment of weakness,

By then too worn and tired to fight,

And instead, like pulling the sword from the stone,

Walk gently thru to the

Other Side…

 

 

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Exchanging Shoes

Earlier this week, i was listening to a song, White Privilege, that i ended up replaying over and over. There has been a tangled knot of thoughts in my head regarding the Black Lives Matter movement, and this song does a good job of explaining most of them. With each replay, i kept an intent ear, hoping to hear the answers. But they weren’t there – Except to say that asking the questions is the first step.

I knew that already. For any uncomfortable topic, that is always the first step.

In my head, i know that i will never know the answers. None of us is ever truly able to understand the challenges of another. The whole “Walking a mile in their shoes” concept is a good start – But even if i walk in your shoes, that doesn’t make me you.

There is so much i want to understand, and so much that doesn’t make sense to me. Even the terminology – Black Lives. What is black? We can’t even say it’s African descent, because that rules out Maori and other people who appear similar, but are distinctly different. Just as East and West and South African people are different from each other.

But maybe that is the whole point. The people-lumping is based on appearance.

I don’t appear black. (Even tho, one time ages and ages ago, i was approached in a bar by a man who resembled Colonel Sanders and who told me i was the most beautiful black woman he’d ever seen. He must have been crazy drunk, because i don’t appear anything but western European, but i said thank you anyway… Beauty is beauty, and who doesn’t like being called beautiful?) Anyway, my point is, not appearing black, how can i possibly ever know what it’s like to be treated as black?

I know what it is like to be profiled. But being profiled as a white woman, or a New Englander, or a female veteran, or poor, or non-Christian, or any of the other things that i have been in my life is not the same as being profiled as black. Any negative connotation associated with the above means that i have been the victim of people assuming my “place” or taking liberties with my sexuality, etc… but i have never been vilified for it. I have been disregarded, ignored, assumed to be less-than… But never criminalized for what i appear to be. It’s a big distinction.

And so, i wonder, what is my place in the fight for racial equality?

I have no doubt that i am obligated by my convictions to speak out, act out, when i see someone being treated unfairly. That is a given. But when pre-emptively setting a stage, as in a protest, or even just a gathering of friends who fall under the black lives banner, where is my place? Is saying “Black lives matter” arrogant presumption on my part, since i am not a black life? How do i become an advocate for the cause without unjust cultural appropriation? Because even with my best intention, i do benefit from some of what they are fighting.

With all the great strides we have made for equality in the history of our country, there are still areas that need improvement. Even if all the laws have been changed to make everyone equal, people’s minds and mentalities can’t be changed with the flourish of a pen. I have been blessed to know very few in my life who hold such bias that they are incapable of treating others fairly, but i know such people do exist. Just as i know that most of us, myself included, are well-intentioned and hold no ill will, but still do things that are wrong and hurtful just by being unaware of the impact of our actions. (We have all been victims of that – A seemingly harmless statement of another, not intended to be hurtful, but borne of ignorance, that pierces us to our core.) How do we stop it? How do we make things better?

There are some situations in life where, to be more help than hinderance, you need direction. Just as i am asking my family in Texas affected by the hurricane, “What can i do to help?”, i am now asking my black-lived friends the same question. In the same way that i don’t want to be the one who sends mountains of useless clothing to Houston that will only end up in a landfill, i don’t want to be someone who tries to help my black friends and ends up only bringing empty words. And i can’t imagine i am the only one.

As naive as it sounds, i pray each night that humanity learns to be nice to each other. It’s a simple thought, but one that would solve so much. No, it won’t eliminate the issue of ignorant misunderstandings. I, personally, will still say and do things that are unintentionally hurtful. To be honest, i will still say and do things that are downright stupid. I am human to a fault. But maybe, just maybe, if we can all get to a point where we no longer have to question motives, we can learn to address the ignorance – each others’ and our own – with love and compassion. And to that end, if you know me, or know someone like me, and you live the black experience… Please, tell us how to effectively help. Give us guidance. We really do want to be part of the solution, but sometimes we just don’t know how. We might not even be sure of what questions to ask. Invite us for coffee, or a beer, or whatever; and lets start the dialog. I share my experience and you share yours with me. Lets talk about what we can do to help each other.

Yes, black lives matter. Blue lives matter. All lives matter. Lets see if we can get to a point where all lives matter equally.

1+0>1+1

Fighting the urge to settle

To fall back

To bring it back to life-

Ill-fitting and stained-

From the back of your brain.

It had its time and

Its time is gone.

Don’t bring it back.

It isn’t a comfort object.

He isn’t a comfort object.

Don’t give in

To loneliness and the waves of

Sadness that pour over you

And drown you

Filling your lungs and making it impossible to breathe.

It’s a trick that your mind plays

On your soul.

It’s all in your head.

All in your head.

Don’t let it touch your heart and become real.

Step away from the phone.

Step away from the keyboard.

Step away from the memories.

And wait.

Don’t give in.

Don’t settle.

You won’t drown.

You will remember how to breathe underwater.

Just like you did

The last time you gave in and found

Once again

That something isn’t always better than

Nothing.

51

At this age, the main thrill you get from a birthday is that you are still alive and enjoying it. Tho some birthdays are benchmarks, like turning 50, the noteworthy numbers are fewer and farther between at this time of life. It doesn’t mean that the date is bad. It’s just harder to muster enthusiasm for a number of years that doesn’t have a specific relevance attached. So turning 51 yesterday was kind of anti-climactic.

While wondering if this indifference was justified, i had the bright idea to Google the number.

It wasn’t just me.

I mean, there were some very cool references: 51 is the number of Doc Hudson in the Cars movies, it’s the direct dial code to Peru, and it is the source of speculation that is Area 51 (For you non-U.S. citizens: This is a government facility that supposedly is for flight testing but, according to popular tale, also harbors recovered alien aircraft and extraterrestrials).  But for the most part, the references were mathematical: Cyclic Gilbreath Permutations (Which apparently have something to do with the shuffling of cards), Stormer numbers (Which, oddly, do not reflect on the weather), and Perrin numbers (Which have nothing to do with steak sauce). Kind of interesting, if you’re bored enough. But there was nothing in there that was like, “WOW! How did i not know that?!?” Nothing that made me think i should be excited about it. I’ll bet, if i conducted a survey, it wouldn’t even be on anyone’s list of favorite numbers.

Not that it’s bad. It’s just “meh”.

I didn’t really expect this birthday to be exciting. And i didn’t expect it to be particularly depressing. So i shouldn’t be surprised that 51 isn’t a magic astrological number, or the number of calories in a cup of  Häagen-Dazs, or the average number of dates a single, middle-aged woman has in a year. (Tho it is the atomic number of Antimony… Which, if it were the opposite of matrimony like it sounds, would be a great thing…)

I suppose, in the end, i got what i expected… Another year on this Earth to make people smile and laugh. Another year to watch my weedlings grow to become extraordinary people. Another year to try to make a positive difference in my little corner of the world. So even as i find out that 51 has no celestial promise for magnificent mojo, or a free facelift, or a surge in calorie metabolism; i am a lucky woman indeed.  My expectations were fulfilled.

And i have already checked… 52 has promise.

Syzygy

There is a solar eclipse tomorrow. It’s kind of a freaky thing. I mean, the trigonometry of it (Technically, syzygy), as complex as it is, is fairly simple when compared to the myths associated with it. And if you understand the trigonometry of it – well, first off, congrats to your teachers, but also, doesn’t it make you feel small? The things we complain and worry about on the day to day seem insignificant when thinking about the paths of planets within our solar system… Our selves not even large enough to be mites in the sight of the Powers of the Universe.

But back to the myths…

Wolves, dragons, dogs, bears, and – in old Vietnamese folklore – even frogs have been blamed as the cause, as they devour the sun for various reasons. Biting some or all of it, depending on the degree of eclipse. There are many cultures who believed that an eclipse was the result of angry gods, and that it could mean apocalypse. Some felt that it was the sun and moon arguing – and the blackness was a reminder for us all to stop quarreling here on Earth. There are scholars that believe the darkness that fell over Jesus’ crucifixion was an eclipse. And many people still continue to see it as a portent for danger. For death. For destruction. For endings. And new beginnings.

And i won’t even go into everything the astrologers have to say about the eclipse.

This event brings with it some serious logistic problems as well. For one, the traffic congestion in the areas that will see totality are expected to be legendary. The roads between here in Chattanooga and Nashville, for example, are expected to be insane as we are in the path. Schools have been closed so that whole families can view this event together. And i’m sure eye doctors are preparing for the worst.

Another logistic nightmare: This will be a real test of our solar power industry. Tho currently, as a country, only about one percent of our commercial power comes from solar energy, there are states who use more. North Carolina, for example, is the third largest solar state, at about three percent, and part of it will fall within the path of the eclipse. The power companies are used to having to accommodate fluctuations in the grid during storms and clouds, but even under cloud cover, we still get solar rays. Monday, for a short period, there will be none. Zip. Zilch. This is going to test their skills.

The first instinct is to think that it’s only two minutes… How bad can it be? But if you were on a respirator and without a backup generator, it would be catastrophic. (To note, hospitals all have backup generators… I was just pointing out that it’s all relative.)

I don’t work in the power industry, but every article i have read says they have been preparing for this, as they realize the outcome will greatly influence the growth or decline of solar power in the commercial marketplace. Can they keep the flow steady, minimal waxing and waning, by pulling from other sources and exporting to extra grids as the sheer number of solar rays drops to zero and then peaks? Bless the men and women who will try. Granted, a lot of it may be moot – like all the prep we did for the turn of the millennium. But maybe not. I guess we will see.

And finally, what does this eclipse mean for us as individuals? For you? For me? Will it be a source of wonder? Awesome, in the truest sense of the word? Will it make you sit later, with your friends and a beer, and discuss our minuteness in the vastness of space? Or will you make merry with it, invoke the old myths, and bang pots and pans to scare off the mythical creatures that are eating our sun? Will you read the astrological predictions, even if just out of curiosity? Will you view those two minutes of darkness as a metaphysical moment of silence? Or are you hoping they will have an effect like a slap for hysteria on this crazy country of ours?

For most of us, the eclipse tomorrow will be a once-in-a-lifetime event. I urge you, my friends, to be safe. And i also hope we all will take a moment to think about all that is going on around us, oblivious of us and yet made of us, and consider what kind of energy we are taking from and giving back to the Infinite Source. From a scientific, religious, or social perspective – I hope we all make the most of it.

 

*** To ensure safety when viewing the eclipse, please investigate on websites like NASA  or AAC for different ideas on how to do so properly.

 

A Knight in Battered Armor

This is where i admit that i’ve a soft spot for people, men and women both, with a bit of grit. I’ve never been one for the pretty boy or the stately beauty. Show me callouses, scars, and the look in their eye that, in spite of all they’ve seen, they still find me worthy.

Those lists – the ones made by fashion and gossip magazines – of the hottest celebrities… Rarely do they show the kind of people i lust after. The millionnaire bachelor with his perfect cheekbones and professionally trained physique hold very little allure for me. Don’t get me wrong, i understand why others carry the torches. The aesthetic of the Hollywood-groomed woman, of the couture-suited man, they beg to be noticed. The ones who have acquired that old-style grace, and the ones with the dry wit… There is a reason they are PR’d that way… Because the masses love it.

The perfect bit of 5 O’clock shadow. The golden skin and curve of a silk and tulle clad breast. We all wish we had it – Either for ourselves or in the form of a lover. But to me, they have always rung as a bit fake. To say you’ve had a man with cut abs and  larger than life junk in his trousers… When i was young, i thought that was a great accomplishment. I thought it proved something about me. And i suppose it did.

It proved the shallowness and short-mindedness of youth.

Physical attraction is important. Yes, scientifically, it ensures the continued population of the species; but more importantly, attraction means sex. And sex is good for our physical and mental health. It’s one of God/Goddess/Universe’s greatest and funnest gifts. It is an affirmation of life. Or should be, when it is done well and with the right person.

Each of us has our own idea of the “right person”. What attracts us, engages us, and keeps us entertained is different for each person. One may like a chiseled face. One may like a muscular ass. Others are all about the hair. More power to them. As for me, i want someone whose face and body tell a story of survival, passion, and depth.

Show me the scar where he got his ass beat getting his best friend’s back. Show me calloused fingers where she worked her way up in a man’s world. But most of all, show me that look in their eye. Those eyes that have seen pain and joy. The ones that hold lust and wisdom. The ones that promise their heart if you can get thru to it. I want someone who has seen a lot, been thru a lot, and respects others who have done the same. THAT is someone who i can open up to and melt for. That is a degree of sexiness that won’t diminish with age, circumstance, or loss of limb.

I’ve always held this view, but it’s been made worse by binge watching Game of Thrones.  Too many sexy scar-bearers in that cast. And me, laid out on a lot of bedrest after some surgery… Filling my time by ogling them and getting wrapped up in the drama. (You think you’ve found the perfect fantasy character… Then they either get killed or do something terribly evil…. It’s a tease of volcanic proportions.) (If you think about volcanoes for a second… The waxing and waning of smoke, and the lava overflowing or not, depending on the whim of the gods… It makes even more sense.) 

Friends have told me for a long time now that i would love this show. It is the kind of epic fantasy that i devoured as a kid, but have less time for as an adult. After watching this series, tho, i think i need to start making time for it. No, i won’t get to ogle the sexy people as easily in a book; but a good writer brings that sense of duty, honor, and passion out in a way that is even more sexy. (And then you get to picture them in your head and make them your own… There is no bigger tease than the one we create in our own mind.)

And why am i writing about this today? A combination of too much rest (I’m not good at “resting”) and post-op narcotics, i suppose. This idea has been sitting in my draft bin for over a week, but i was afraid to publish it til i had been off the pain pills for a bit, lest i regret it in a literary “morning after.” The equivalent of waking up with your best friend’s little brother after a drunken dinner party. Except the brother has armor. And a sword. And a convoluted claim to a crown. And a scar across his cheek. And that look in his eye….

Oh my.

 

 

 

Don’t Tell Me

What would you think if i told you

I was scared?

That i’m afraid that all these plates i’m spinning will fall and

Crash to the ground

And everyone will see that i can’t

I can’t do it

Can’t perform, entertain,

Mesmerize

I’m not what they paid for

My circus, my pageant, my show is a

Sham

 

What would you think if i told you

I was  ashamed?

That i am hurt and anguished over all i

Haven’t done

Should have done

Couldn’t do

And embarrassed at the things

I did

For reasons that no longer seem sound

Or sane

And each day that goes by i grow more and more

Terrified

Of what i might do next

 

What would you think if i told you

I was angry?

That the world around me and everything in it

Fills me with disgust

And despair

That the hatred and meanness to fellow men

Makes bile rise in my throat and

My heart burn with tar

And sadness

And it pains me that i cannot fathom a way to

Remove it all

Without becoming

What i despise

 

What would you think if i told you

I was lonely?

That my soul is full of desperation for a connection

That my heart will not allow

And even tho i defeat my own purpose i am

Unable to stop the thorns

That grow around my core and

Protect it

Whilst destroying me

Knowing full well that there is no Prince

With gilded sword

Willing to hack them away for the meager treasure

That awaits

 

What would you think if i told you

I don’t care?

Or care too much?

Or am not even sure if those two things aren’t

One and the same

The line so fine that spiders

Think it delicate

The lace made of it

Forms a web in my skull encasing

The fly in my brain

Who has no choice but to succumb to the fangs

Of Reality

 

What do you think

If you think of me at all?

Does it make sense

Do i make sense

Or am i as alone, as shamed as i fear

Please no

Please no

Please know