Category: Musicness


Declare Independence

This is the first of what I hope to be weekly posts. I probably shouldn’t say that out loud, but I think I need to set aside the time weekly to process and plan, so I might as well do that here. In this space.

Today I signed the papers that both bind me further to the bank, yet release me from any debt or obligation owed to my ex-husband. Though we have one child yet to finish raising together, the other child will be going off to school and has not required much coordination between us anyway. Today, I signed the papers on a refinance that allowed me to finally buy him out, and claim this house as my own. I can stop pretending he will one day agree that he doesn’t actually deserve to be paid anything for the home he left in a shambles after forcing me to cohabitate with him for years after he exited the relationship – years he was unemployed and only wandering out from his room periodically to monitor my parenting, and caring for the children while I worked…as well as oh-so-generously “allowing” me to leave the house by myself at a set time every week. And I can reclaim this worn-out old house that I have recently fallen in love with for the first time. Because those memories don’t live here anymore. They visit every once in awhile. Like today, when I read an issue of “Blackout” zine in which the author recounted an abusive relationship and the emotional fallout she articulated was gutwrenchingly familiar.

But I don’t want to write about the past. It’s important to acknowledge that, yes. It’s a monumental day. For not only am I finally able to pay him off, I am also able to take a little money out to rejuvenate the house and to prepare it for it’s transition.

I ordered the cinder blocks first. Like, as soon as I had definitive word that we were closing, I ordered the cinder blocks. LOTS and LOTS of cinder blocks. I knew I wanted five beds, so I calculated and recalculated and oh my freaking god that’s a lot of cinder blocks. Cinder blocks and a ladder and a bag of sand.

And I spent my whole weekend constructing beds like I was playing with giant legos. I stacked one bed, then another…then stopped.

Right now, the yard is overgrown and lush. I have a lot of winter plants that are going to seed, and I intend to harvest the seeds, so I don’t want to disturb the beds right now. Also, I really just kind of like having jungle yard. I hope to always have a somewhat loosely-tamed wild yard. So, today I stopped and sat down on my mom-throne in my spot under the oak tree…and surveyed. And imagined. And decided to, instead of making the beds in the middle of the yard like they are now, build them on the perimeter-ish – a few feet in from fence line, garage, and walkway – in a u-shape. This would leave the very sunniest part of the middle of the yard open for other things.

Because, while I really like the practicality of the cinder blocks – they do look a little industrial. I know they will age and stain, but with the blocks in a u-shape, I can slope dirt down from the tops of the beds and plant flowers or herbs or…really anything. Covering the majority of the cinder and creating more space.

Also – it leaves more space for the dog to run.

Also – I have this grand idea of creating a seating area in the middle of the yard shaped like or with all of the colors of an artichoke – various shades of green along the border and pinks and purples and yellows in the center.

I also have this idea that I’m going to use appliances. I already have the toilet garden (which will likely become the two-toilet garden when I replace the other toilet. I’d love to use a bathtub or sink somehow as a water feature.

But those ideas are all for phase 2. Phase 1 is the cinder block border garden. Mulch around the edges and lawn in the center. Still working on getting the trees cut down and the fence replaced.

I’ve decided I want the laundry line to be visible from the fence, because yay clotheslines! But I might end up putting up a barrier that hides some of it. Ultimately – long term goal is to build a big porch on the back of the house and make a sliding door entry into the master bedroom, which will eventually be converted into a studio apartment (with said lovely porch.) But that, again, is phase 2…or 3…or actually 4 or 5.

So I am focused. Every day this weekend I woke up early and sore from the previous day’s work. It feels good. It feels real. It feels like declaring independence.

Now my work week begins. I’m not going to hold myself to these early wake-up times, but I am hoping to haul at least some blocks every day to continue to build beds. I want them all built by next Monday, when D will be coming over to magically convert a bunch of pallets and odds and ends into a chicken palace. At that point, I’ll be able to get more ladies and my goal of supplying all of my neighbors with fresh eggs on the regular can be achieved. As it is, I’m definitely not buying eggs in the grocery store for myself anymore. Or lettuce. I’m hoping to say that about a lot more vegetables this summer.

So, next weekend is that…and soil, as I’m ordering a truckload. I’m going to lay all of the twigs and mulchy leaves that are all over my yard in those beds first – mixed with a fair amount of compost and chicken poop – and pile fresh soil and more scraps over all of it. And then I can plant. I’ll be getting a later start than I had hoped, but I still have plenty of growing I can do and so many other things to maintain.

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About Time

You know that thing where you are pregnant, but it’s early in the pregnancy, and you don’t want to tell anyone, because you don’t know yet if its viable. But you kind of are certain it is, and you are bursting to tell, bursting to share, bursting to start on this new, exciting phase of your life? I’m not pregnant, but it’s that thing.

The sweetest words:

Hello,

I have sent the Affidavit of Divorce Pay-off to xxxx xxxx. I need to confirm that you are ok with the $xx.xx doc prep fee for the Release of Lien and the $xx.xx recording fee. Once this document is signed and recorded, the lien will no longer cloud your title and you will not have to worry about providing documentation later to other companies if you choose to refinance again or sell.

Thank you,

…and that’s all I want to say, for now. Because I’m still not 100% sure it’s viable.

It’s going to be an interesting spring.

My chickens laid 4 eggs this week, and I’m all aflutter with love for those ladies. I honestly and sincerely thanked them while I gathered up the pretty blue eggs. They just clucked, but that’s ok.

My mind is all over spring. All I can think of lately is when can I start when can I start when can I start planting and growing things. Soon. Soon. Soon.

Now.

In my 45th year, I will buy my house, fix it up a bit, and plant a garden. Because what’s been stopping me from doing those things all of these years, anyway?

Oh. And I’ll be sending my eldest child off to college.

Oh yeah. That’s what’s been stopping me. And not without good reason. I had other gardens to tend to. Other beings to nurture.

I told Kate “I have had a recurring theme in my dreams where I discover a hidden room in a house I’ve lived in for a long time.”

…I feel as though I’ve discovered that room in my waking life.

Birthday weekend is drawing to a rapid close here, and I’m sitting here. Reflecting.

I could describe the weekend in a linear way – things I did and saw. Or in a non-linear way – things I thought and felt. If I was at my best, I would manage to fold the non-linear into the linear and find a way to describe my inner world by relating external activities. Perhaps it’s easier than I’m making it seem in my head.

The weekend began with a lovely Sunday stroll with Lulu. We’ve been enjoying Walnut Creek Park for it’s wonderful forested trails and off-leash dog-friendliness. I continue to feel extreme joy and gratitude about the fact that I finally have a dog who is predictably other-dog-and-people friendly enough to trust off-leash, and it’s wonderful to leisurely stroll in the forest while she gambols in a loose orbit around me. I have loved all of my canine companions as fully as I was able at the time that I had them. Of course, Lulu benefits by being in my life at a time that I have relatively few constraints – I work from home, the kids pretty much take care of themselves, and really all I’m interested in lately is taking long walks and spending time in the garden – both activities that she is happy to enjoy with me. But also, Lulu has the exact right temperament for me almost all of the time. She still has her moments when I just don’t want to even deal with her, but those times are fewer and further between.

Also – would you look at that face? Who could possibly not be in love with that sweet face. I mean, srsly,

Apparently, chasing that small, speedy dog around a tree for 15 minutes straight and greeting every dog we met in a playful crouch was enough to sufficiently tire Lulu out, so I brought her home and went out on a quest for houseplants, which is what I decided to gift myself with this year. I’ve run out of electronic gadgets to buy and I’m going back to the basics. And because I posted this intention on Facebook, I came home from plant shopping to find several houseplants waiting for me on my front porch – left by a friend who is leaving town and needed to rehome them. I am both thankful to her and terrified that I will kill her very well-cared for babies. Hopefully this fear will cure me of my black thumb once and for all. It was wise of me to manifest house plants, though. My penchant for murdering creatures in the chlorophyllic class notwithstanding, I’ve always wanted for greenery. My desire these days is to grow things constantly. Buddha the Grouch is always, well, grouching about the fact that whenever we leave the house or return, the first thing i do is linger over all of the things that are growing between the porch and the yard.

Right now, I’m MOST excited about the artichokes lining my walkway. And now I’m getting even more psyched about otherworldly asparagus poking up in whimsical curlicues between and around the artichokes, and a possible pair of pomegranates lining my side walkway. But that has to wait until I can get some bare root starts next week. And the one small artichoke in the backyard that I managed to plant from seed and nurture into a fairly sturdy, healthy seedling. It grows so slow!

But back to my weekend – I realized I was late for a party after plant-shopping, so I headed out to enjoy the always gentle energy of dear friends M&K. I only intended to stay for a little while, but enjoyed the conversation so much…I stayed longer than I intended, and was late arriving home to once again firmly insist that The Tao of Bird PLEASE finish the dishes.

There is this pattern of behavior TOB has been getting into, where he will procrastinate a chore until it becomes a Herculean task. Like, if he just DID the damn dishes the first day he is scheduled to do them, it would be manageable. But he puts it off, in spite of my expressed misgivings, and suddenly it’s four days later and every fucking dish in the house is dirty and he is beside himself with not knowing where to begin. This happens weekly. We are working on it. It begins with suggestions – “Hey, um…it’s your day to do the dishes. Think you can get to them soon?” which quickly turn to more adamant suggestions – “So, you need to start doing the dishes now.” which is laced with a general desire, on my part, to not have to do this AGAIN. TOB usually responds to this by, at first, brushing me off – “I’ll do them.” And every week that we go through this pattern I get increasingly dubious from the beginning. Usually at some point in the process, ToB spends an inordinate amount of time in the bathroom, which I finally got him to ADMIT was a stalling tactic.

The thing is, I can FEEL him making the wrong decision. And I don’t like for him to do that. More than wanting him to get the dishes done, I want to not have the major proportion of our interactions be me telling him to get the thing done that he should have done 4 days ago when I first started telling him to get it done, and that still hasn’t gotten done even after the routine of handing over the mobile phone and eliminating screentime is dutifully and resignedly adhered to. I KNOW it’s overwhelming to have 4 days worth of dishes staring you down. Welcome to the first 8 years of your life. Part of me wants to tell him “If you think the process of doing 4 days’ worth of dishes is overwhelming, try doing them with a clingy 2 year-old pinching at your bicep fat.”

Eventually, though, there is a breakthrough. And then it’s just about me adhering to my standards in spite of the fact that I’m just grateful that I no longer have to nag someone. He ended up powering through it in the end, so I took him out to get a burger and fries so I could spend some time talking to him before his winter break reached an end.

I stayed up late into the night dancing and writing in my journal.

Woke up on my bday, made coffee, and met with a friend who has schemes for a chicken coop made out of pallettes. We talked gardens and strategies & I’m excited about learning to build things and coming out the other end with something practical. I also learned about cold frames, and now I’m determined to build a cold frame – if not this year, then next for sure.

D is a fabulous fount of knowledge about plants and things. She is the one who suggested the bare root starts for asparagus and pomegranates, and because of her, my growing flock will have a suitable abode. It was a good meeting, and I’m glad to be learning so much from so many people.

I’ve been thinking a lot about transience and permanence. I’m not sure if I’ve written about this in earlier posts, but something Wendell Berry wrote in -I think it was the introduction, even, of his book of essays The Art of the Commonplace- about a sense of place. About how people who live closer to the land – people in rural areas, or other areas where you don’t have the same services and conveniences people in the city have – have to consider the entire lifecycle of every purchase. When you buy something, and you can’t just throw it in a plastic bin and put it out on the curb, you have to think about how you will dispose of the husk of that which you consume. And, specifically in terms of sense of place, your relative transience impacts the choices you make about the spaces you inhabit. If you have a home, for instance, that you intend to hand down…you will make decisions about repairs and upkeep in a way that’s different from someone who intends to flip that home or rent it out. And with all of the people who have passed through this home, that becomes evident. Which is why I”m looking for ways to make this space more cherished.. I’m putting down roots. Literally. Finally. Whether I stay here 4 years more or 20 years more, I want to leave this space better than it was when I arrived. Not for resale value, but for me.

I guess that’s what all that reclaiming was about. Perhaps why I let things go for so long. If I claim this space, don’t I also claim these circumstances? Ironically, claiming the space only serves to brighten the circumstances. More and more, my home is my spa. The things I choose to do to beautify it are my meditation. And the things I leave a mess are their own form of beauty. Like my “new” stove – purchased a year ago – which currently shows the wear and tear and disarray of a much-loved and well-used appliance.

So, I spent much of the 45th anniversary of my birth reading in the backyard while attempting to get a fire going, listening to punk rock, writing in my journal. I got into a groove of recounting life in Chicago – perhaps inspired by Kerouac, as I’ve been listening to On The Road lately. I haven’t re-read it yet. I’m sure it needs editing. I might even still cut it up and make it vague. I go back and forth. But it’s ok. The zine will get done when it gets done.

I’ve been learning the art of editing. Clearly, not of the writing in this blog, but in life. Like corn. D made a remark about how I might get some good chicken feed out of a crop, but that corn is really difficult to grow & I realized that it’s silly for me to do something so difficult my second year of gardening. Why not, instead, build my confidence with some easy spring/summer crops? Corn can wait. This made me happy. As much as I would love the outcome of corn, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to the input of corn.

“It’s like kissing my kitten in the belly.” -Jack Kerouac

And dinner with S&B&C&Buddhathegrouch&Tao of Bird on my bday. Indian food. It was tasty, but I felt distracted by my words and queasy. It was nice to mix worlds. Friends meeting friends in parallel friend universes.

And then today. Today, I cooked. I cooked, and between bouts of cooking, I read zines. And played Cookie Jam. And listened to endless podcasts. And let the dog out and in and out and in again until I finally realized it’s a beautiful day and left the back door open while I cooked and listened to podcasts.

So…you know…I can’t complain. Forty-Five is mellow. Forty-five is wise. Forty-five balances movement and stillness. Forty-five is unflinching in the face of things that would have kept Thirty-Five up all night, worrying. Forty-five suits me well. There are going to be some exciting changes this year. I’m ready.

Shaunee.

I have a complicated relationship with my family. The kind of relationship that might one day transcribe well to an allegorical fictional novel filled with universal references to the hardships all families face, but which doesn’t translate well to a blog post. It is especially and even less well-able to be translated to an ongoing feud on Facebook that ended with a couple of family members terminating their relationship with me.

 

It could have ended differently, I suppose. I should have probably reached out privately at some point in the year-long argument about social justice…to get a temperature check and attempt to communicate in a less-charged context. I am, after all, the adult in the situation. I don’t really have an excuse for not doing so, aside from the aforementioned complicated family dynamic – which isn’t much of an excuse, but I allowed it to be, until it was too late.

Other than that, I’m satisfied with my behavior, if not the outcome. And who knows what the outcome is/will be anyway? And I can say that in the midst of discovering myself at odds with some members of my family, I strengthened my appreciation for others. And, in a way, some of the complications of the distant past were healed in the process.

And, so I find myself nearing another change of seasons. I feel like the summer is always a wasted season. I feel like I accomplished very little, and am quickly becoming charged with creative energy at the prospect of the end of summer…even though in Austin, summer won’t really be over until nearly the end of October. 

Dancing

Funny how I started writing about my family and I suddenly am feeling a wave of creative ideas about the garden. We’ve been thinking about the perfect centerpiece for the succulent garden. Considering a bird bath, which is still a possibility. And I’ve been going to thrift stores trying to find the perfect bowl for the bird bath…and it struck me that what really belongs there is the toilet that has been sitting back in the yard for years because I couldn’t part with that much of a functional porcelain bowl. I mean, really – it’s a giant, lovely, flowerpot. Sparkly and everything. So. That’s that.

Lulu in the twilight.

And my artichokes are sprouting. I’ve decided I’m going to dedicate myself to planting artichoke plants all over the property. I want several of them. I want them lining the walkway and bounding the seating area. Because I can. Ha. In fact, I have four little sprouts coming up right now, and a couple of packets of seeds due in the mail.

In the meantime, my brussels sprouts sprouts aren’t doing so well. I completely lost interest in them when the artichokes started sprouting. The artichokes seem to be such hearty little seedlings, and the brussels sprouts so delicate. 

I’m really excited about making an artichoke kingdom here. Hahaha.

And I have ideas for the zine, which I have really not worked on much except in theory. I’m thinking about backgrounds consisting of the same collaged pages I used to make, only the collage will be flyers from Chicago bands. And I’m thinking about rather than making a full color zine, I might make color postcards of some of the drawings. And I feel like I’m going to be writing the zine in a day…which isn’t necessarily a bad prospect. Just spending a day going from beginning to middle to end. Sounds like a lovely plan.

His shirt says “I got out of bed for this?” and so does his general attitude.

First day of school. My kids hate being photographed, so I don’t have one of those adorable “Back to school” shots year after year for comparison. So I will just post a bunch of random stuff I have in my backlogged camera roll. “Back to school” doesn’t really exist when you are homeschooled, once you get over the urge to fly kites in the schoolyard or blow bubbles in front of the library as a means of obnoxiously expressing your relative freedom*, and the annual homeschool “not back to school” swim party is both overcrowded and underparticipated by kids your kids actually want to hang out with.

Tofu Spring Rolls with peanut sauce at Kim Phung

But being that this is the Tao of Bird’s second year of public school, and now that Buddha the Grouch is taking classes at the community college pretty much every day of the week, as well as participating in some of the usual homeschool activities…today was markedly different from the rest of the summer, if only for that brief few minutes after BTG went to school and before TOB came home from school when the house was oddly empty.

Tofu with Garlic, Hot Pepper, and Lemongrass at Kim Phung

I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t climbing the walls waiting for the boys to start school again. Maybe a little for their own sakes to get them out of the house, but truthfully I love those guys. I’ve grown used to sharing my space with them. It’s nice to have my own space once in awhile, but it’s going from being with them constantly to, too soon…too close to now…having one child move off to school, and yeah…I like having them around.

Key Lime Pie

But I’m also excited that they are out and learning and excited about what they are doing – at least to some extent. I’m pleased with the fact that TOB was placed in AP classes in spite of asking not to be (and secretly hoping it was his father who arranged that, as I finally had to give up trying to convince him to take them and just make an agreement that if he took it easy this year, he would really have to kick it into gear when he gets to high school…even though his father was the one who originally disagreed with putting him in pre-AP classes to begin with & yeah if that was difficult for you to understand, basically welcome to it. But even though it’s maddening inconsistency, I’m pleased that TOB is in those classes and I didn’t have to betray him to ensure it.

There wasn’t much to my day. It’s been too too hot lately to sit outside at all. Yesterday, I took Lulu out for a walk around 10 AM, and after an hour she had to flop down in the grass for 15 minutes – not due to thirst, because she refused water – just out of sheer exhaustion. She did it several times for about 5 minutes at a time…and wanted to flop down again, but then saw a squirrel and decided she wasn’t all that tired after all, as she attempted to drag me up the tree to reach the taunting bushytail. So, yeah…hot. Exhaustingly hot. Oppressively hot. SQUIRREL!

I did wake up early this morning. Early enough to make eggs for TOB before driving him to his first day of school and get a bit of gardening and housework done before dropping BTG off for his class in the afternoon. Then to the pet store and grocery.

 

And several episodes of Upstairs/Downstairs because I’m FREAKING addicted.

Man Bites Dog – Veggie Abe Frohman and Cheese Fries

It’s more overtime for me this week. And possibly more again next week if it’s available. Time to save back up after all of the school expenses and activities.

Artichoke sprouts

And you know what? I do alright. I really do. And I feel alright. I feel as though I have done a pretty damn respectable job as a parent. And they have as children. So far.

Oyster Lexicon, #2

I started working on the next issue of the zine today. I mean, I have a lot of the artwork done, but none of the writing, really. Beyond conceptual. Some of the writing will be original from my time in Chicago. I’ve been considering publishing some of the sweet little love letters I have from that era. I don’t THINK the other party involved will mind. I am in touch with him, so I will ask him…but I have to find them first. I know I saved them, but there was a large box of letters in the house that my ex got into and maude knows what he did to the contents. I haven’t delved beyond the nasty things he wrote on the surface of the container. I tucked it away in the attic. It’s time to take it down and look at my “keep forever” things. Plus they are super sweet, and I think they would make people feel squishy.

Chicago Theater

Love is awesome like that. Regardless of whether it’s forever love or not – which is wisdom that would have allowed me to enjoy myself more when I was younger, but no matter. At least I can still smile at the me that was in love with that boy who broke my heart (or whose heart I broke, because – really – who can tell which came first) especially since I still know that boy and love him in a different, but not lesser way…which is something I think I always HAVE understood about love.

Marching Cicada

And I’ve decided not to make “D” in my alphabet about divorce. In the nick of time, I’m reminded that the dogs in my life have been far more significant. One of them allegedly caused the divorce. Another two once stood on the chest of a man who woke in my bed, and then rightly attempted to escape from them and my life after a regrettable night on the eve of forever.

Lulu hug

There are some stories that can’t ever be fully told. And some that have been overtold. And some that are best told

through other means. There are some stories you tell to others so convincingly that you start to believe them yourself. I think telling stories through the eyes of the dogs I have had in my life will make things slightly easier. I’m just not sure if I can adequately draw a dog…hahaha.

Hoping it will be out in time for our yardwarming around the equinox. That’s what I’m aiming for. I have about a month.

… 

*Yes. That obnoxious person was me.

This post may be somewhat disjointed. I am somewhat disjointed. Out of joint. Bent…

2e855d2d-f848-4973-b1af-3e9069706207

I’ve been walking a lot lately. Walking is conducive to thinking. Walking is frequently conducive to composing blog posts in my head. Some of which never get written. Some written, never posted. Let’s hope this one passes muster.

I feel like I’ve mentioned, in bits and pieces, that I’m currently in the process of reclaiming certain aspects of my life. Some of which I didn’t even realize needed reclaiming. Some of which I figured I’d leave unreclaimed. Some I thought I already had a claim on. And while it’s frustrating that I find myself still not completely free from certain negative impacts of certain types of trauma in my life, I’m thankful I can recognize the origins of that frustration, roll my eyes and be temporarily exasperated with myself, and move on.

I’ve been telling the same stories over and over again, because I find myself confronted with them. As my housemates were cleaning up my yard, cheerily clearing the brush and treating the arduous labor as a happy task, I vividly remembered walking out to the backyard a long lost married-person mother’s day ago, to find my then-husband angrily hacking at the shoulder-high weeds with a push mower. “Happy fucking Mother’s Day!” Through gritted, angry teeth, was my greeting.

That wasn’t the last time the lawn got mowed, but it was the last time he mowed the lawn.lulu

Needless to say, it wasn’t a very happy Mother’s Day. It wasn’t a very happy anything in my life during that time period. Somewhere around then – I think the same year – my elderly dog got cancer. I was 5 months pregnant with a 3-year old and a surly, unhelpful husband, and my best friend for the past 10 years was dying and I was incredibly sad. The day she died, he helped me load her gasping body into the car and he was the one who sat with her when she was put down, and then it was like a switch was turned and suddenly any sadness I felt about it was not allowed. Was a play for attention. I was being overwrought. I remember being so desperate for some sort of mutually nurturing relationship I went to the pound on the 4th of July – or thereabouts, and finding Twyla curled up in the corner of a kennel with a sign on the cage that said “I’m deaf, but I’m really sweet.” And she was. And I brought her home much to my ex-husband’s dismay.

“You always do the most difficult thing.” He snorted.

“I married you, didn’t I.” I retorted.

My mind is blurry, and I can’t remember if this happened before or after he broke up with me, but that was around the time. I came home on a lunch break from work, hugely pregnant. Hot. Emotional. And he told me he was breaking up with me. I had to go back to work in 30 minutes. Still hugely pregnant…hot…emotional…and single. Little knowing at that time that it would take multiple years to finally extricate him completely from my daily life, in spite of his refusal to contribute emotionally, physically, or financially beyond the bare minimum.

I’m not saying these things because I’m still bitter about them. I’m stating these things flatly. This is my experience. This is what I have lived. These are the things that re-emerge when we do things we haven’t done since that time period. Like getting a new dog.

5c44e4f5-c619-4bce-a177-b6d766f18fa1Even publishing the zine. I recently sent a couple of copies of the last issue of my old zine bAnal Probe to a friend of mine, and I realized those last few issues were done in collaboration with him. I hadn’t even realized publishing a zine was an act of reclaiming…and there it is. Reclaimed. Painlessly. Cleanly.

I wasn’t the best dog owner during those times. I was distracted, at best. The dog never got my full attention. We went for frequent walks and I spent much of my time feeling overwhelmed with everything I was responsible for. I wasn’t a BAD dog owner. I was mostly just exhausted and had no room in my life for another living being. It’s only been in the past few years that I’ve felt sufficiently free of the every day responsibility of nurturing children to really focus on a pet, and this batch of cats in my life has gotten more love than previous batches. For sure. I’m excited about having a dog both who seems to require less effort and for whom I have significantly more bandwidth.

Along with those realizations was the realization that the way I’ve been managing my time is kind of screwy now that I don’t have to think in 15-minute increments as much. It’s time for me to expand my attention span. It’s time for me to have more flexible time for just sitting and enjoying. I’ve thrown away the old system and am working on a new system that allows for that. I hope. I imagine some things will fall through the cracks during the transition, but so far I’ve been spending a lot of lot of lot of time with friends, I’m getting a lot more outdoor time. More movement. A bit more structure. This structure will probably increase as I get used to the rhythm of the dog. When to feed her, when we walk. It’s kind of like having a large, slightly more self-sufficient baby. I’m so glad that she’s at least housebroken. And she sleeps through the night.

And well into the morning. Which is nice.

***

The other thing I was thinking about on my walk is all of the anger and frustration and heartbreak I am feeling for the mamas of Central America and Gaza whose babies are at risk. And of course for the mamas themselves. And the non-mamas, but mostly the mamas and the babies.

I’m sure this is a political theory that has already been written somewhere, and I haven’t taken the time to do any sort of research into who might have already thought of it, but it strikes me that the only way to make free trade not inherently exploitive is too also have open borders. Otherwise aren’t we just allowing the true cost of our low prices to be out of sight out of mind? And when something like a huge influx of refugee children show up at our border because they’ve been suffering that consequence for us, it’s altogether too easy for some people to blame the victims.

 

This song seemed an appropriately celebratory little number for my end of weekend celebrations. Not that I WANT the weekend to end, necessarily…but it’s been a nice weekend, as weekends go. Also, surprising. The biggest surprise, by far…is Lulu.

Pensive Lulu

Sweet Lulu

But I also had some fun adventures with a surprisingly…familiar…new friend. You know? One of those kinds of people who just makes sense, and to whom you just feel like you also just make sense. Buddha the Grouch, when he learned of my platonic hangout, said “Oh, so you went on one of those faux Lainie dates where you go out and look at birds.”

birds...spiders...same diff.

birds…spiders…same diff.

    I laughed so hard, because he’s pretty much right. And it feels good to have someone in my life with whom I can just go out and look at birds. Or at milkweed floating in the wind. Or armadillos. Or the way the pond scum rejoins itself after a rock passes through the film. Someone with whom I don’t have to rush through the getting to know to get to “the good stuff” because the good stuff is the getting to know. I’m really enjoying the getting to know. This weekend was also a little cooking (more cooking to come) a little cleaning (more cleaning to come) some walks and talks…and lots of chilling in the backyard. My friends who are staying with me (who I need to think of a clever name for, as I’ll doubtless be referring to them a lot) have kicked so much ass at getting the yard in shape for planting. They’ve cleared and tilled three huge beds, we’ve all schemed a less-conventional succulent / hummingbird / butterfly bed, and they’ve made good with my neighbor, whose little garden was being overshadowed by some weeds in my back yard. There’s talk of chickens. There’s talk of greenhouses. There’s endless talk of gardens and gardening. I’m still slowly rearranging my time to begin to accommodate, but it’s difficult to begin! We’ve created a sitting area outside that has been encouraging me to just sit and watch the sun (or moon) move across the sky. The dog only adds to this notion of sit and stay. Especially since, being new here and nervous, any move I make is shadowed by her. The more I sit and relax, the more relaxed she becomes. And, thankfully, the energy level of a Great Dane, as Lulu is, is much much lower than that of a boxer, which my last nervous dog was…so there’s plenty of sloth and relaxation.

Slothful, and relaxing!

I feel like Lulu is going to have the sweet temperament of Twyla (the boxer) with the gentle lazy hound-dog attitude of Cash (the pitbull). Once we get her acclimated…and everyone gets acclimated to her.This Crack Star This weekend also included a meditation/remembrance of the passage of Texas HB 2 – the bill that has been responsible for the closure of over 61% of Texas clinics that provide abortions and other healthcare services, leaving many people – particularly those who are already poor and marginalized – without access to safe abortions. We sat in mediation, did a walking meditation – I walked in circles around the middle of the rotunda floor, did another sitting meditation and then had discussion. It was a beautiful memorial. It was very healing…and it got me thinking about reclaiming spaces. I’m still thinking about reclaiming spaces. I need more time to think about it, I think. And journal about it. Before I write about it. Publicly. But I am thinking about it. Reclaiming. I’m also thinking about how hard some people have to seem to work to get the rewards that so many people take for granted. And I’m not even referring to the least among us. I’m talking about everyday people you might see and think “Hey – that person does alright.” and really they are pinching pennies to buy gas, or riding the bus not to be a hipster but because they had their car impounded because they couldn’t afford to renew the registration. And I just feel like if people that I know who are employed, employable, hard-working, able-bodied, intelligent, and genuinely good and decent people are struggling, then I can’t say anything in negative judgment of anyone else who is struggling. I imagine most of them are equally all of the above and equally just totally screwed by circumstance. And that’s all I got to say.

Catching up on some links…

The Supreme Court’s baffling tech illiteracy is becoming a problem

“Granted, the justices are behind the times. Twenty-first century technology has come to the Court, but the Court hasn’t come to the twenty-first century. Justices still communicate by handwritten notes instead of email. The courthouse got its first photocopying machine in 1969, six decades after the machine was invented. Oral arguments were first tape-recorded in 1955, nearly a hundred years after the first sound recording. At those arguments, blog reporters are denied press passes, tweeting is verboten, and justices thumb through hard copies of court documents. At the Supreme Court, every day is Throwback Thursday.

This might explain why the majority of Americans oppose life tenure for Supreme Court justices. Life tenure shields judicial independence and pays homage to the Founding Fathers’ vision. At the time the Constitution was written, however, the average life expectancy was about 40 years. (Or 60 years if controlled for infant mortality.) Today, it’s nearly twice as long. Clearly, life tenure meant something different for the founding generation.”

 

The Rise of the DIY Abortion in Texas

One woman I interviewed at a Mexican restaurant in Brownsville told me her good friend nearly died after taking pills that her husband bought in Mexico. Instead of ingesting four of the 12 pills every three hours, as is recommended by the World Health Organization, she took two pills under her tongue, then four pills vaginally, then two more under her tongue, then four more vaginally. She began to bleed profusely, doubled over in pain. But because she was undocumented, she was afraid to seek medical help at a nearby hospital or clinic. Instead, she crossed the border to Mexico with her five children—all the while hemorrhaging—in search of medical assistance. She has since recovered but is still in Mexico with her children because she can’t cross the border back into the United States.

Carreon says she sees many patients who have taken improper dosages. “A lot of patients said that they would take the whole bottle and they would tell me they took 28 pills,” she said. “They’re taking maybe four vaginally, two orally. Then an hour later, four more. I hear different ways of using these pills. It’s shocking each time.”

But strict internal clinic protocol bars Carreon and other employees at Whole Women’s Health from answering questions about miso and abortion. And the drug’s other distribution channels are similarly mum. Mexican pharmacists can’t provide information about the drug and abortion, since it’s only sold there as an ulcer medication, and many of the vendors selling miso at flea markets know very little about correct dosage.

 

Massachusetts SWAT Teams Claim They’re Private Corporations

Requests by the American Civil Liberties Union for open records on Massachusetts SWAT teams begat refusals to comply based on the premise that the forces are private corporations rather than government entities.

 

9 Facts Shatter the Biggest Stereotypes About Fat People

People are allowed to make their own decisions regarding their own bodies, but we need to start treating people of all sizes with respect. We can start by providing some actual information about being fat.

 

Lately, I’ve been watching The Wire, and I’m having to lean on episode guides to make sense of everything.

I never remember this stuff, so I’ll probably refer back to this video about different display connectors often.

Will Detroit’s Water be Privatized or Recognized as Commons?

“We are not saying that the services of running water should be free, we are saying it should be affordable and accessible by all, and we have put forth the Water Affordability Plan to that end, which was approved by our city council,” says Priscilla Dziubek, of the Peoples Water Board. This plan is self-funding and graduated much like the tax system where no one pays over a certain percentage of their income on water.

 

Nation editor destroys Bill Kristol: “You should enlist in the Iraqi army”

“If there are no regrets for the failed assumptions that have so grievously wounded this nation, or politics and media accountability,” vanden Huevel continued.” We need it Bill, because this country should not go back to war. We don’t need armchair warriors. And if you feel so strongly, you should, with all due respect, enlist in the Iraqi army.”

When the Tao of Bird comes home from his dad’s, we’re totally going to do this Texas Pie-Eating roadtrip

For your summer music list pleasures, NPR has listed the top 50 songs of 2014 (so far.)

For those of you trying to stay awake without heating up…a recipe for cold-pressed iced coffee.

Trying to find words tonight. I’ve literally been staring at the screen for 15 minutes or more. Straining. There is so much, and yet…no words to express.

I’m not feeling the clever words about what happened this time last year at the Texas State Capitol, where for a moment there, everyone saw the ridiculous lengths those in power will go to to remain in power. It was just a moment, but everything was exposed. And yet…amnesia.

May My Consciousness & (My)

I don’t want to write about political frustrations on these pages. Though I have considered returning to a format where I post links to current events after several paragraphs of solopsistic esoterica…but I feel like I’m constantly feeding links about news into the void. On these pages…and in my journal…I focus on process. My process. A lifelong project. A lifelong process.

(Beh)avior Bee ov service to all Beeingz in

My intention with these pages. With this blog. Is to explore words without consequences. It’s my escape from thinking things through. Even this post, with its over-awareness of itself, is violating several of the preceding principles. I need to make this space my space for unthinking.

Wait awhile, close your eyes, let your breathing stop three seconds or so, listen to the inside silence in the womb of the world, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, re-recognize the bliss you forgot, the emptiness and essence and ecstasy of ever having been and ever to be the golden eternity. This is the lesson you forgot. -Jack Kerouac

I nervously paste those words into an email and send them…but neglect to add an address to send to.

all worldz, Liberating all…

He asked me if I’ve ever stopped (writing.) It felt good to honestly say that I haven’t. I haven’t ever stopped. I haven’t ever stopped writing. The writing changes. My language. My inflection. My intention. But, reading back, and filtering out the crap, I’d say there’s a lot of stuff that’s better than I’m willing to admit. A good editor might be able to make something of it. Maybe someday I will find a good editor.

into the suchness of this

Until then, I’m just re-recognizing the bliss I forgot. Calling forth the lesson I forgot.

& every moment -X

She

looked at

him, asked

“Are You the lesson

I forgot.”

He

grinned

a reminder.

 

(Transmissions from Summers past…)

Interpretive Interloper

a telescope transcendent.

***

Rain Journal

 

Witness

Gathering Clouds

No False Alarm, this

(much desired drenching)

This flammable

Wooden

Ocean

 

the doves go

silent

slowly

 

The ground

is FISSURED

 

In need of

soaking

 

Wind

chime

symphony

bliss

 

The garden cries “THIRSTY”

 

Ecstatic

Pattering

Drips 

 

the air is

ELECTRIC

 

slowly

building

 

and I am

on my front porch/parched

waiting

*patience patience patience*

 

Lay

back in 

the Rain

 

for the downpour.

 

photo (3)

***

My problem is that I find myself in a situation I never dreamed I would be in. A single parent. A professional. With a career. And kids. How did I end up here? And single. As in totally alone. As in no one with me. No support. No help. Or, at least, not an adequate enough amount to ease the burden. That’s where I find myself. And making a modest income. More than I ever have before. And yet, somehow, still struggling. Still working hard to catch up & stay caught up. Still – perhaps more now than ever – worried. Because once you’ve achieved a certain level of success, you are expected to perpetuate that success. And THAT is what frightens me. I was EXPECTED to be ambitious and to continue to accept advances in my career…and now I’m EXPECTED to continue to advance. If I don’t, I’m viewed as unambitious. If I don’t, I’m somehow flawed. But where are these expectations coming from? Are they internal or external expectations? Do I want to move up & am I just scared of the responsibility? Or is it true that I am doing exactly what I want to be doing? If anything, I would like to be able to move DOWN. And not out of laziness or fear. I don’t think. But while I’m doing what I love to do for a living & I truly love my job, if I’m honest there are aspects of my job that I don’t enjoy & that prevent me, I think, from achieving what I want to achieve.

***

…excerpt from an unwritten novel…

Last night, goofing, he says something. she says “Oh shut up” he says “I will not shut up. You always get your way and this time you will not get your way I will not shut up.” She says “If I always get my way you would have shut up a long time ago.”

In the restaurant, everyone was talking about weird stuff. Somewhere, someone was discussing a tapeworm – behind them, another person mentioned a medical condition…..they said they were lactose intolerant. She said “is this a restaurant or a gastroenterologist’s office.”

They proceeded to get buzzed on $3 margaritas which were unusually strong, paired with (intentionally) overly-salty Mexican food. They talked…meandered. Tried to say weird and interesting random things at a slightly higher volume, just to entertain their fellow eavesdroppers. There was a party breaking up in the party room of the restaurant. So many conversations. A guy caught his eye. Flirted with him. He looked away. Was not interested, but kept checking back to see if maybe it was his imagination, but he kept catching his eye & flirting, no matter how fleeting the glance.

They ate a lot of food, then stumbled home in the dark. The long way. Both of them needing to pee. She proposed stopping in at a bar along the way, but his usual anxious pessimism kicked in and after warding off 5-6 worst-case scenarios of the imagined ambiance of the place, after they had already walked past the bar, he said he would go if she would buy him a drink. She said “Nah – we’ve already passed the bar.

Back home, in bed. He’s having a hard time staying hard. Is it the alcohol or the fact that she has obviously been visibly exasperated with him since they initially discussed getting together. First, it was the argument about walking (too hot, too tired, too far) then, the give in. The argument about who would pay (a.k.a. the argument about who was more broke, which often ended in me pointing out that though she makes more money, she is raising two pre-teen girls, aka the human plague of locusts.

Then in the restaurant, amid the pleasant conversation…the argument about what denoted sucky taste, with the inevitable sighing and eyerolling on both sides of the table as one party was deemed overly critical and the other party overly emotional. Again.

So, he was having trouble keeping it hard, although clearly enjoying himself. She was battling mixed feelings & not wanting to be touched & STRUGGLING to stay present, but feeling somehow belittled by her inability to turn him on enough to keep him hard while he fucked her.

Eventually, he gave up & rolled off. She felt tired. Snuggled up to him. He reached over & touched her breast, but she was sensitive, asked him not to touch. A familiar boundary that had been violated by many men before him. And then the invalidating happened. Once something is deemed off-limits, even temporarily, at random intervals, the child fixates on That Thing and will not be deterred. So, “Please, don’t touch those right now” (while giggling & trying to deflect) becomes “Seriously, don’t touch them.” And then the conversation becomes entirely about how horrible and mean she is for limiting access to her body. His insecurity turns on her, tells her she needs to just “get over” whatever is making her fel like she doesn’t want to be touched. And she gets smaller and smaller, shrinking inside her skin until all that was her is now a smooth, hard, dense pellet inside the carapace of her skin.

***

OH in Clute, TX: “I need a wife.” (4 year old)

“You got something better – you got a mother.”

Outside of Clute, there was a street named This Way. Other than that, I saw not much of interest.

There’s a big family in here, having breakfast. Grandparents, parents, and 3 children.

There’s a heat warning in New Orleans. More reason to get there late in the day.

Lots of weird weather going on.

Leisurely morning. There’s no point in rushing. My amended amended plan includes visiting some nature preserves & rolling into New Orleans after dark. Then spending a few hours on Sunday walking around New Orleans before heading back to Austin.

Apple and banana and coffee. There is a rhythm of the road that I missed. And I drive and I drive and I drive.

***

That veggie chorizo gave me gas!

***

Goals for Chicago Trip:

Walk Daily

Swim regularly

Write frequently

Learn to draw

Watch Lost

Minimal scheduling

FREE CHILDREN!!!

***

photo (1)

Space is Love

The space between the leaves

 

Let me remind myself of the ways in which I am human. Besieged. You are impart. In full or in part.

angry, soul-throated. Off

Loaded.

***

Rain delays my morning swim. I am looking around my room and admiring my sloppiness. My computer desk cluttered with precariously leaning piles of ripped CDs (I finally got my entire collection on my computer) dirty clothes litter the floor. My bed disheveled – sheets need to be changed and I am sleeping with books & journals that are scattered all over – my own & the ones I have been reading to the children. Incense dust covers almost every surface. My laptop is on the floor, covered with clean clothes that I folded, sorted, then totally pushed off my bed while sleeping one night. Dirtbombs playing on the computer as a perfect complement to the grungy state of affairs & the thunder & lightning add ambiance. I roll up my shades so I could look out at the dripping grey world, cracking a window to catch a breeze.

There is an assortment of rhinestoned barrettes and hair pins on the window sill, left there before make out sessions and naps.

***

I pronounce you – unpronounceable. Confounded by your intrigue & intrigued by your con-foundation – alacrity – you lack, gritty. Seething yet gleaming – you spit into the hole you have created. It is sad, isn’t it, that freedom can leave you so imprisoned. Trapped in this prism. White light enters & only strands of colors escape. Leaving you – half in/half out. Drowned in drought. Twisting about & consumed by doubt while I sit and pout.

***

My tired heart and your bitter hands. Float dreamily – a lazed interpretation, crazed regurgitation of faith like a lizard, caught sleeping in the sun. A rock of consequence. Drear dread apparent. Negotiation – frittered forever an ever love lost lorn warn. I send a warning. You. Dopamine. Mine own Clementine. Clementine.

Sorrow is a gracious hostess. She invites us in and we lay back, relieved of our joyous burdens. She feeds us so we don’t realize she is feasting on us. We dream in soporific haze. A daze, glazed, amazed at the lack of feeling.

Sorrow is a row of sows. Incredible how quickly my house catches fire. Burns to the ground. How quickly I am reduced to ashes.

***

What Do I Want? There are many categories, and it’s a long list:

Here’s what I have in my life currently that is consistent with my desires:

-An excellent community

-lots of love

-opportunities for intellectual enrichment

-creative outlet

-time to play

-a nice place to live that is safe

-relative harmony in my immediate family

-food food & people to share it with

-a good job doing something fulfilling and where I am appreciated for my strengths

-strong, wise women in abundance

-a few good men.

***

The Tao of Bird, age 2.5, who is prone to bursting out into song, busted out today with “A-O – Let’s go!”

So – at least one of my kids has apparent good taste in music.

***

Excerpts from an unwritten novel, part 2

He’s having another of his extended retreats to adolescence. He’s storming about the house with that disgusted look on his face, and exclaiming dissatisfaction with everything. She is trying to ignore it and proceed with her own life, but he frequently goes out of his way to clash with her. She realizes that much of the bullshit he throws her way is projection, but she doesn’t think he realizes this.

So he can continue to live the life of a failed rockstar who gets drunk and stoned every night and comes to life during the day as wonderdad to protect his children from their conniving slut of a mother. He can continue to sit around on his ass & do nothing & then blame her for all of the negative shit he feels about himself. He’s going to do it whether she argues with him or not. He might stay in this mode for a day or a week or a year, until she decides that she has better things to do than worry about his fragile little imaginary world where she (and possibly all women) is some sort of weird, evil villain who seeks to destroy him by paying all of his bills, buying his cigarettes, feeding his children & living her life.