Friday, August 29, 2008

Poop! I smellz it (or like it)

Dogs - 0

Cats - 0

Me - 4

Yes. Tonight was bath night. Dog 1 meekly, delicately, stepped into the tub. (Okay, it was after about 5 minutes of me saying, "yes, you're a good girl. A vewwy vewwy good girl! Aw, who's my good girl? Yes! You! You're my good girl!") The entire time she was giving me those eyes. THOSE eyes. Those eyes that said, "But, but, but ... I'm a good girl. For why am I being punished? Do you not love me anymore?"

Dog 2 fought. He growled. He gave his all. He splayed his legs against the edge of the tub, in a hopeful stance of, "If she can't get me in, I can continue to revel in my poopiness." Time and time again, this hasn't held true. And it didn't hold true tonight. I picked his 60 pound ass up and dumped him (gently) into the tub. After that, he was docile. (Granted, he still shot me glances of, "You know, I COULD eat your face if I wanted to". This was in direct opposition of his look of rapture when I was scrubbing that one spot. You know, the one just above the tail? Yeah, he has a love/hate with bath night.)

The cats are easier to manhandle. Just grab 'em by the scruff of the neck and hold 'em. One will willingly get into the water, but doesn't want to remain. The other will fight before he touches water. But once he's in there, he'll walk back and forth, caught between his genetic history of "water = bad!" and the fact that he thinks it's kind of neat.

At any rate, I have 4 clean animals (their smell? Much improved!), and one very dirty me. The combo of sweat, wet dog, dog slobber, and flea shampoo does not a "stink-pretty" make.

It just makes a stink.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Snapshot of my 'hood

I live in the land of milk, honey, and boob jobs. Where every sentence ends with an up lilt, as though everyone is always questioning … something? The verbal stops, pauses, and connectors aren’t the silent denoters of periods, commas, and em dashes; instead they use punctuations of “dude!”, “like”, and “right?”

Southern California is one of the most laid-back, yet uptight, areas of the country. (I feel I speak with some authority on this, seeing as how I spent 3 years of my life traveling these states of our nation.) Because of this, you get a weird mix of people. Sometimes the weird mix is found in one person, sometimes in a neighborhood.

Take my neighborhood for example. Almost every night, sometime between 9 and 10, there’s the rollerblader. Now, rollerblading isn’t uncommon especially round dese heah parts. The late night rollerblading? Still not uncommon. However my guy does it shirtless. And LOUDLY singing along to whatever is on his iPod (typically some mix of Ice-T, Eminem, Snoop, and the like). Another denizen of my tract is actually a friend of mine – he goes night walking. Sometimes he does it with his mandolin. Sometimes he does it while tying a pillowcase around his neck, and pretends he’s the folk crusader, rescuing damsels with his righteous chord progressions. (Okay, he doesn’t REALLY do that, but he DOES think about it.)

Then there’s the typical mix that all neighborhoods, even apartment complexes, have – the newlyweds, the crotchety old man, the prozaced-out eternally happy Mom, you know … the norm. Then there’s the family next door: they are kind, kind, kind. The teenaged girls are nice, with just a touch of rebellion. Their male cousin lives there as well, and he is one of the nicest and down to earth boys ever (and he’s 13). Then there’s their youngest son, who will either turn out to be a serial killer, or a lawyer. (The jury’s still out on that one.)

With all these people living in close proximity, you’re bound to overhear something you may not have wanted to know. But then there are the people who are out, walking their dogs, talking on their cell phones; it’s the OC version of multi-tasking.

In a quiet neighborhood, especially when the night is settling into its skin, voices can echo. And carry. And you’ll hear things the speaker probably wishes she had waited to ask until she got home. Things like,

“Have you ever moaned with your mouth open?”

Why, yes. Yes I have. You mean, you haven’t?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

This is one shade of my grey

I've never had an abortion. No need for emergency contraception here. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. This is not to say I haven't had a scare (or three) when I went to the local CVS to buy a 12-pack and a pregnancy test. (And may I just say that I hate it when some person behind the counter decides she can moralize? And the rare times I've been in this situation, it WAS a she. "Well, if you're pregnant, you KNOW you can't drink that beer ... " to which I responded, "Yeah, I know. If I am, it's HIS congratulatory drink, but if I'm NOT, it's OUR 'phew, we missed the bullet on that one' toast". Always it was said with a smile, even thought part of me wanted to say, "Shut your damn maw and just tell me the total, you self-aggrandizing bitch".)

Coming of age in California may have skewed my perception. If we had stayed in Utah, I may be singing a different tune, and living a different life, right now. But ... I did, and we didn't, so here I am ...

A few months after getting my first kiss, I lost my virginity. Raised a strict Catholic, I really only heard peripherally about The Pill ("something only whores want/need") and condoms. So, although I was "safe" in exploring my budding sexuality, the fear of getting knocked up was like lead in my head. As I weighed the scales of my own sexual justice, what I came back to were these two thoughts: if I got pregnant, RIGHT NOW at age 16, would I have the kid? Or would I abort? Both thoughts, both options, pulled at me as though I were nothing more than seaside-boardwalk taffy. The scales never, truly, equalized ...

As I was still searching for the ever elusive orgasm, a few friends around me were already on the pill, another had an abortion, and one more was just another "teenage pregnancy" statistic. MY thoughts, and THEIR realities, were at war in my head. "I can't go on the Pill, it would mean I'm a slut" vied with, "Please God, let this condom work as it should!" jockeyed for attention with, "holy shit, it happened to her, it might happen to me", mixed with my relief of, "thank God it's them, and not me".

And some people wondered why I couldn't just let go and flow with the moment. Pfft.

The most vicious attacks against me came from girls. From women. I realize (now) that it was fear driving them. It wasn't me, per se, they wanted to belittle. They had to do it to feel better about themselves, about their place in the world, their self-inflicted hierarchy.

Do I agree with it?


But then I realized something ... we all have our roles to play. Mine, then, was to be their victim. To take what they said ABOUT me, and absorb it into the woven fabric of my soul. To turn their perception into my truth. To accept their taunts, their words, their fantasy, and turn it into my reality. I had to allow myself to be the victim, in order to find my inherent strength.

It's something, hopefully, that taught both teams (them and us, tormentor and tormented) something. Something about compassion, about walking a mile in the others shoes. The tormented learned inner strength and understanding, the tormentor empathy and understanding.

Sure, the learning may not have happened then, hell ... it may not have happened yet, at all, to the individual players. But it will happen. Timing doesn't matter, only that it DOES happen.

That moment of "oh, wow ... ok. I get it". On BOTH sides. I'm still learning that I never knew what was going on in their heads, in their home-lives. It's still just conjecture at this point. I only knew how it affected me. And for a long time I could only hold onto my perception, my reaction. In my smaller and selfish moments, I still hold on.

The middle school "slut", who would sneak out with her bathroom hall pass to steal kisses with the blonde jock? I learned later, much later, that her home life was a mess, a mess to the nth degree. It makes my emotional wobblings look incredibly small in comparison. And now I realize she was just grasping for some control. Something only SHE had control over. SHE was the one who chose to kiss that boy in the hall. That was her empowerment, her awakening. The rest of us? Yeah, we called her slut. And for that, I still feel like shit. Because could I honestly say I wouldn't do the same in her position, then?

Hindsight being 20/20, I understand now what made her act out, what made her target me. I was a geek. I was the only redhead in school. I was the easy target. Physically small, and mentally soft and scared, scarred.

Then though ... ? I didn't understand. And then, it hurt, deeply. Honestly, it still does. Sticks and stones?


Physical wounds CAN heal, but those words ... those words stick like a burr.

I was upset, then, that she couldn't see my life, my outlook, my reality, through MY eyes. The fact that her reality, her 12 short years of life, was skewed through her experiences ... I didn't get that. Didn't understand. I didn't see HER life. Not then, at any rate.

The mutual hurts, of the then, built up a wall of non-understanding. On both sides.

Now though? I think if we ever meet again, that unspoken wall would still be there. But not as solid. Not as real. Not as intimidating. More of an automatic protection; an unconscious feint. Yes, there would be a chink, where we could not necessarily walk a mile in the others shoes, but at least we would have a movie-preview-type of understanding. An understanding that leaves us satiated, yet wanting more.Questioning.

We may separate by looking through each others weakness, and the understanding that comes from it, or we may bring up that armored self-preservation once again, our souls still connected under that hard shell of metal ...

That armor will never be as strong, viable, or whole, again.

In trying to "get" others, or at least accept them, I see more of the universe. By seeing them, I see more of me. In their stories, their lives, I catch a glimpse. A glimpse of something more.

A glimpse of sympathy.

A glimpse of empathy.

But underneath it all, a small, minuscule glimpse of understanding.

And selfish satisfaction, selfish cognizance.

I'm trying to view people past the armor they put on to the world at large. Trying to see past the bravado (theirs and mine), to the core underneath.

This whole acceptance thing? In a word (or two) ...

... it sucks.

By viewing others, it forces the mirror back at the looker. The observer. And makes them ask questions. Questions they may not be ready to answer, or at least answer to the world at large. Sometimes not even be able to answer to themselves.

Growing up, life was very black and white. We were ALL sinners. There was no real grey. The grey you saw, that you questioned? It was answered in a very black and white way.

"Why does she pick on me?" .... "It's because you're different."

It wasn't until later, much later, that I learned that their version of "black", of different, was truly charcoal. Their version of "white"? Ecru.

I DO admire, envy, and feel pity for, those people who CAN view life in complete black and white. There were, and are, times when I wish it were so easy. Black equals bad, white equals good. If only it were that simple, and that clean. That striated ...

... She picks on me because I'm "bad", I'm "other" and I deserve it ...

What happens when you mix black and white?

You get grey.

And that's where life lives, and thrives. And grows.

Life isn't that clean cut, that striated. It's in the shadows, in the mix of black and white, where understanding, sympathy, and empathy take root. And where the most fun, interesting, and fertile times of our lives take place. It takes place in the shadows. In the grey.

I cannot tell you that your combination of black and white is better, or more pure, than mine. Both are just shadings. Both add depth, and character.

Sometimes the hardest lessons are the most meaningful. And the most slippery and obtuse. I keep trying to remind myself of that. That *this* shade of grey is MY life, right now. And I must understand, or at least tentatively grasp, this shadow, this shade, before I can move on.

Would I, or could I, get an abortion right now, at *this* moment in my life? The right here, and the right now?

No. I don't think I would. Or could. It's too deeply a mottled mix of black, white, and grey.

However, I want that choice. No, let me rescind that. I NEED that choice. Need that palette of options, of colors, before me.

I don't agree with the way our country is headed, the way our world is headed. But I still harbor hope. Oddly.

If someone tells me that *this* is the way I should think, or that *this* is the way I should behave, or that *this* is the box I should fit in ... I rebel. Down to my soul, I rebel. It may not be an outward manifestation, but I DO rebel.

Maybe some of it is genetic. Maybe some of it is learned behavior, like Pavlov's dogs. Either way, I balk at the restraints put on me.

And that's just it - while I'm working on breaking myself free of self-, or other-, imposed shackles, I try to never put those on another person. It's hard. Really hard. It's easy to moralize from the safety of your own chair, your own mind, your own life. Harder still to take a moment to take a stroll in their life, and out of your own.

And it's hard to *not* denigrate, or belittle, another. To put them in a box that's easily understandable to you. Even when they try to do the same to you, to enshroud their own safety. It's a gut-jerk safety mechanism. On both sides. Fight fire with fire, yanno?

My mother is no longer here. Nor is her mother. My blood. My heritage. My history.

However, *I* AM. I am here. Here, using the black, and the white, to create my own personal shade of grey.

And I refuse to let their their voices die, because I am afraid to use my own. Hell, they were the ones who gave me my voice in the first place, even if they didn't agree with what my vocal chords produced ...

Both of them were nurses. RN's. They saw the fallout of the 60's and 70's. They didn't agree with it, not on a spiritual or religious level. (Maybe Mom did. She WAS a hippie and just ... was ... and just ... accepted ... )

But on a human level? Yeah ... they mixed their own shades of black and white.

Maybe I'm just searching for human contact. Not necessarily connection, because that would mean me giving up part of me. But maybe reaching out for just a touch? A sense of someone walking in my shoes, while I walk in theirs?

A touch of compassion would be nice about now.

Maybe what I'm trying to get at is this:

If you are my friend, I will support you. NO MATTER WHAT. Hell, I may even provide an alibi.

If you aren't my friend, but my acquaintance, I will support you. NO MATTER WHAT. I may not provide an alibi, but I will wholeheartedly give you my ear, support, and guidance (for whatever that's worth).

If I don't know you, I will support you, as long as you are forging your own color, your own place, and are doing it with openness and honesty. Being true to yourself. I may not agree with your views ... but if they are come upon honestly, and with empathy, I will give you my support. (Just don't put your own spin on my charcoal creation.)

Each of us creates our own palette, our own mix of black and white.

Who am I to say that your grey is the wrong shade?

Who are YOU to say that MY grey is wrong, or immoral?

What started this blather was partially this:

Some of it is this:

I'm just finding my voice, after a long hiatus. Please don't make me raise it. Or silence it. Just let it ... speak.

And listen.

And I promise the same. I hope.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Don't hide what you feel inside. Don't let anybody stand in your way. Just let the music ...

... take you higher.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. The title is a small shout-out to David Coverdale. What can I say? I was a hair-metal junkie. Oh hell, who am I fooling? There is no "was". Skid Row is still a guilty pleasure. (I blame my Uncle Mike for that. HE was the one who put a tenner in my hand and forced me to go into Liquorice Pizza to pick up the newest album from Whitesnake. That's my story, and I'm sticking to it. Damn you, Uncle Mike!)


If I were more savvy, I would just create a mix of the below. But I'm not that technologically keyed in (I could be, but I'm lazy). So instead, I'll just throw out a few links. Listen to all, or just snippets, or just scroll past it all. In this, I'll allow you to create your own mash-up.

(Please stick with me through the links ... as I said, you don't have to listen to all of them, but it's my set-up here people ... and as an additional disclaimer - when I say "trad" music, I mean that to be the instrumental/traditional music of Ireland, Scotland, Cape Breton, etc. Or, as my friends from Ireland call it, the "diety-ditty shite".)
I'll be there, with a love that will shelter you. I'll be there,with a love that will see you through.
Look out baby, 'cause here I come.
But there's a power, and a vital presence, that's lurking all around.
If you stick around I'm sure that we can find some common ground.
And my fond heart strove to choose between, the old love and the new love.
I'm stepping through the door, and I'm floating in a most peculiar way.
You showed me how, how to leave myself behind, how to turn down the noise in my mind.
He sings out a song which is soft but its clear, as if maybe someone could hear.
Everyone can see that I'm an island, I've got ocean just about everywhere that I can see.
No you can't take that away from me.
In my dreams--it's still the same. Your love is strong, it still remains.
Where I come from and where I am going, and I am lost in between.
Er, Sean Ryan?
Quimbara quimbara quma quimbamba. Quimbara quimbara quma quimbamba?

Okay. That's enough for now. And it barely scratches the surface.

-- When I first started this rambling, I wanted to make a point of how music is our universal connector. But the artists and songs I chose to link to seem to be my subconscious telling me something. (Maybe it is saying something to you too.) Just an observance. Now, onto my blathering. --

How do you capture this? All of the bands linked above I've seen live, some numerous times. Each and every show was a narcotic to me. There's the fact that you're seeing these strangers, though they aren't strangers to YOU, because they somehow spoke to your soul. ("Oh my god, they wrote that song for me!") Then there's the communal anticipation - every single person is there with some expectation, some want, some need, and those desires become a palpable energy. It all adds up to a heady brew.

How do you capture those emotions, those feelings? How do you contain that deluge in a paper cup? Can you?

Would you really want to?

You can't capture moments. Seriously, how DO you catch a memory? Photographs are one way, but they only retain a small part of that infinitesimal moment. It's not like you can carry around an old mason jar and plunk it onto your head every time you want to keep some memory, some event. Even capturing fireflies ... they eventually weaken and their light dies out. It defeats the purpose, no?

(And if you DID try to go the jar route, the concussion from all that banging against your noggin' may not be worth the price.)

How do you keep those fleeting times of your life real, immediate, and tangible? For me, it's listening to music at every chance, and finding new artists. Expanding my musical knowledge base. The ones I've seen live, when I hear their CD again, I'm brought back to that moment, and that time of life when I saw them play. It may not be as gripping or as urgent as *that* moment, but it's enough of a visceral memory that I'm left wanting more. It's like giving a needle to a junkie ... they will want more. And then more again.

The Four Tops and The Temptations were my first concert; Dad took me. The first concert that I took myself to was Bad Religion, and I've seen them more times than I can count. (Greg? Have my babies? Please?)

I do remember every concert and every piece of live music that I've seen. Now ... I can't rattle them all off, or even remember all of their names (there's been a metric assload of 'em), but if I hear a band, I can most likely tell you whether or not I have seem them live.

Recently I posted about the quiet time of night, when you can truly feel at home in yourself. But what about those times and experiences that allow you to go OUTside of yourself? When you don't want the world-collective to be quiet, and you want to connect instead?

Live music does it for me. More specifically, live trad music. It's one of the few times my brain shuts up completely (dancing being one of the exceptions). There is no static in the background, no mental niggling. I am in me, fully. In the music, completely. In the moment, wholly. I'm connected, yet disconnected, all at the same time.

I've lost track of time, of self and surrounding, being caught up in the moment. Moments are (supposedly) fleeting, but each moment I've had when I'm surrounded by music have never been lost. They are here. HERE. (Imagine that I'm pointing to my chest, my heart. And stop looking at my boobs!)

We carry each of those moments with us: those instances of feeling, of connecting, of being more ... and of being less. They are never lost. They are inside of us. Hell, they ARE us. When enraptured at a concert, I live right up to that second. And then I live all of my lives that could have been. And my life that is. And will be. And then I lose all of that. I just "am".

Don't just be in the moment. Live it.

Why the fuck am I channeling Tony Robbins? I really don't want to be some arm-chair psychologist, or motivational speaker (or have that horrible tanning-bed look). I don't want to tell you what to do, or how to feel, or how to view the world. I guess, that by putting my thoughts out there, to y'all, I can tell myself that I'm not actually talking to myself, talking to an empty room, not actually talking to my cats, but instead I can pretend that I am communicating with (at) people. Because, after all, only "those crazy people" talk to themselves.

And talk to their pets.

(Besides, when I DO talk to the cats? Their response is ... ball licking ... not really the answer I was looking for. Thanks guys. Bastards.)

Personally, live music allows me no sense of time. No sense of worry. It gifts me with transcendence.

In that moment, everyone is individual, and everyone is whole, and part of the whole. Everything is learned, and unlearned. In that moment everything is forgiven, and everything is forgotten. Everything, that is, except for that note, this note, that phrase, this chorus ... this moment of electricity. Of vibrance. Of feeling so incredibly grounded, and yet it is still an out of body experience.

Pretty much ALL live music does that to me, when I am there in the audience. I feel a part of, and apart from. And I'm at peace.

Recorded music doesn't make me feel that way, at least not in that immediate sense. Unless it's trad. I don't know why that is - maybe some unknown genetic memory.

Trad music (even bluegrass in a way) is kind of weird for me - I can have it playing in the background, and I don't have to concentrate on it; it won't disturb me if I'm doing another task that requires me to focus. But if I actually do stop and listen, it reaches out and grabs me by the throat. By my heart. And by my gut.

It's still the only type of music that I can consciously force myself to put in the background. Other music makes me stop, and listen to the lyrics. Focus on what it's saying ("Is it revved up like a dooce, or is it wrapped up like a douche? I should replay that part again ... ")

Maybe I view trad like the lover that will always be there, no matter how I treat it. Just because I listen to other genres, or go and see their shows, and feel that same excitement when I listen, it doesn't lessen the hold that trad music has on me. Or the love I have for it.

Apparently trad music is my aural booty call.

3:00 AM is when I'm alone with me, yet semi-connected to the world. Being at a concert, or in a pub watching a trad band, is when I'm just part of a whole; when the world is semi-connected to me. A small speck that creates the whole ... experience.

One paint-spot, one small dab of the brush ...

... can create this:

Individually, yes, that one point is interesting. Taken by, and of, itself, it can be beautiful. (The listener, the audience member, as a person can be endlessly fascinating and intriguing. But when I'm at a concert, I honestly don't give a shit about them, except for how they contribute to the show. The energy they give off. How they tie into the entire experience.) When that one small part contributes to the whole? Wow.

There are those of us who connect(ed) by following the Grateful Dead, some by going to see indie groups play where the band outnumbered the audience, some by being in packed arenas to see Jay-Z, and some by standing in a small club to see a cult-status band, where you feel packed in like a sardine - oil included. For me I can, and have, connected in all of those places. I've connected listening at home to 8-tracks, albums, tapes, CD's, and now the internet (PANDORA! I love you!)

Music is the art form that can reach out through whatever delivery platform (recorded, live, or something you created), and grab you. Music really is the foundation of life, mine at any rate.

To me, music IS my shelter. It's my safety net. It does, and has (on so many levels and in SO many ways), see me through.

I think most of us want to grip, capture, and hold close those seconds. Those that bring us into the moment, and take us out of ourselves. Me too. I want to be able to Tivo those experiences so that I can relive them, again and again. And again. It wasn't until now, THIS moment, that I now realize ... I don't want to.

I want those transcendental minutes of life to remain ever elusive, but still within my grasp. The fact that they now have that soft, feathered edge make it more comfortable, and comforting, when I look back. Though the intensity is now dulled, there is still that memory.

It feels like I'm leaving this unfinished, and I am. While writing this, I had all of the above links playing, then some. The musical siren song is calling me. Asking me to come visit them again. This song ALWAYS makes me cry, and still I laugh and smile through those tears. Because it takes me back to a place, a snapshot in time. A time when I was crying a lot. And laughing. And living. So I'll leave you with this and this question ...

The above was a snapshot of the soundtrack of my life (concert-wise at least). What's your soundtrack, concert or otherwise?

Friday, August 15, 2008

The difference between dusk and dawn ...

Why is it that when I *should* be getting ready for bed, my brain starts to wake up? I've always been this way, even from a very young age. (Okay, maybe the feeling of wanting to stay up all night was due to the fact that I thought an evil leprechaun lived under my bed, and that weird anxiety has never left ... nor has that leprechaun. Fucker.)

Anyway, when most "normal" people are sleepily wiping their eyes, and yawning their "good nights" through a mouthful of toothpaste, I'm starting to wake up. Maybe some of this is situational - this is the time I'm able to catch up on my e-mail, random YouTube links, and news. But always, the night has held me in its grasp. Especially 3:00 A.M. - I found out later in life that this is considered the "true" witching hour, but for me, there was a palpable change in the air, when everything just seemed to stop. And to breathe. And to "be". And to just accept whatever was out there, happening at that moment. It was, and still is, my comfortable and safe time. My me-time.

There's something gripping, and tentative, and soft, and even "dark" - no pun intended - about the wee hours of the night that just captures me. Reaches down into my soul, heart, and mind, and it won't let go. (Like a cat embracing a catnip mouse.) Maybe it's because the world (or at least the world around me) is quiet, and that allows me time to expand my brain, and let down my walls. It allows me to be fully in my skin, allows me to feel, and allows my brain out to gambol - this is the time when my synapses are allowed free reign. It's when I can follow the random paths of, "what if", or "what if I hadn't"? And I don't stress over it, at least not at that point. Not at that time of night. (Or morning.)

Seriously though? That type of thinking (the what-if's) leads to a downward spiral. When we play that game in our head, of COURSE our lives are that much better (or that much worse). In my late-night fantasy land, I ALWAYS win the lotto at the last possible minute, rescue the kitten in the tree, donate wildly to charity, and then Colin Farrell always seems to find epiphany in monogamy (with me) when he meets me at the supermarket ...

Our lives just ... they just are. No more. No less.

Life is what we make it. Life is what we *don't* make it out to be. It's raw material thrown our way, and our job is to shape it into something. Whether that is a bad rendition of an ashtray, or a Michelangelo-like sculpture, we are where we need to be (not necessarily where we WANT to be). But ... we are where we need to be. We are here, right now, right HERE, in this place, in THIS moment, because this is where we must be in order to ... do. To process. To digest. To take-in. To learn. And to teach.

The 12-year-old me would scream at the almost-32-year-old me. THIS, this "me" is not what I wanted, what I envisioned. THIS IS NOT ME, DAMNIT! But ... here I am. And this IS me. And you know what? I wouldn't give up, or re-live, any minute of it. (Yes, with hindsight being 20/20, there are instances where I wish I HAD acted differently, said something other than I did - or decided not to say - , or acted in a different manner.) Yet, all of those instances, all of those moments, have led to the "me" I am today.

Am I perfect? Am I all that I can be? Am I living up to my potential? Hellz to the EN-OH! But I am living my life. Even though sometimes this concept of living seems to be arduous, and instead I feel I am stuck on pause, in stasis. On the snow-channel of the TV.

We all, each and every single-damn-one of us, have those moments when you relive an earlier moment, and come up with the PERFECT comeback. But focusing on the woulda-coulda-shoulda is detrimental to our growth as people. We just have to put that away under the mental file of "Next time, I will say, I will do ... "

Regrets? Yeah, I've had a few (or maybe eleventy-thousand of them). But I would never try to trade them in for the life I have now. I've found perfection in the cracks, and I'm quite content to sit in those foundational ruptures and laugh. And weep. And cackle through the tears. Laughter is fun. Laughter is love. Without laughter, there is no life.

A friend of mine said something in a flippant moment, that has stuck with me for over 10 years now. The exact phrasing is off, but the meaning was, "I'd rather regret the things I did, rather than the things I wish I had done".

I'm trying to live that motto, trying to embrace this roller-coaster of life, and laugh the whole way. Joyfully. Embracedly. Whole-heartedly.

Finally I'm realizing that I can't be everything to everyone, but I can be the best "ME" when all is said and done. If my final product is an ashtray, or a sculpture, at least I know I was made out of love, blood, sweat, tears, and fire.

And that is what I strive for. Am striving for, daily. Moment to moment, second to second.

We are the sum of our parts - me, you, our friends, family, acquaintances, and even our ancestors have a hand in molding who we are. Sometimes carefully and lovingly, sometimes heavy-handed. A genetic butterfly effect.A societal imprint.

This late night peace and stillness allows us (or me, at any rate) to think. To feel. This is the time when the world-collective isn't using its brain, which shuts off all the extraneous noise. And this is the time that truly allows our souls to embrace, and enjoy, the silence.

It forces me to be more open, more embracing, of others. Of their quirks, foibles, and flaws. I recognize these things in myself, and know that others have a universal experience. What I've experienced, and lived, so too have they. As I learn to love myself, I learn to love them. It literally blows my fucking mind. And rends open my heart in ways I never, ever, could have imagined.

And now? Now I will laugh. And I will live. And I hope that you will laugh with (and even sometimes at) me.

To quote the inimitable Frank Sinatra:

I've loved, I've laughed and cried.
I've had my fill; my share of losing.
And now, as tears subside,
I find it all so amusing.

To think I did all that;
And may I say - not in a shy way,
No, oh no not me,
I did it my way.

For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught.
To say the things he truly feels;
And not the words of one who kneels.
The record shows I took the blows -
And did it my way!

When is your "silent" time? When is your "what do I see in me, when no one is around" time? When are you able to strip yourself down to your bare essentials, and see who you truly are, who you truly want to be?

Do you actually, truly, and honestly seek a quiet time? Or, do you allow the pomp and circumstance of what we call "life" to draw the lines of the art that is ... you?

It's late, and I must go meandering down the dry-goods aisle to meet with Mr. Farrell. I can't be late for a date, now, can I?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thoughts on the news (trigger warning maybe?)

On another site I'm a part of, someone posted a link to this story:

Granted, I do agree with the original poster when she said this woman was a "character". I also agree with another commentor (commentator?) when she said she was "effin' crazy!" On the surface, I'm TOTALLY amused. However ... this is what I posted in response over on

Heh. Okay, I can totally see the glee in finding amusement in this woman's craziness. (C'mon, who doesn't like to look at a train wreck every now and then? Even when we can empathize/sympathize with them ... )

But ... from an "uppity" standpoint, I take offense at a couple of things in how this story was told (a trigger warning may apply here):

"... the 17-stone Kirk Anderson claimed, his petite, busty admirer tied him to a bed ... and forced him into sex ... " ,and then: " ...You have seen the size of Mr Anderson and you have seen the size of my client ... "

Not to totally derail this conversation, but ... rape is rape. Men rape women. Women rape men. Men rape men. Women rape women. People rape PEOPLE. There is no gender involved - it's power. It's rage. It's anger.

No means no. End of story, end of interaction. It does not matter your size, your gender, or what you are wearing. If you do not want to have sex, then you say no. Your partner should abide by that. Sometimes ... they don't. (I really don't want to come across as trite in this, or really cut-and-dry, but I'm trying to get some thoughts out without doing too-damn-much-editing. Please read my words in the spirit I hope they convey, and not in the semantics from it.)

In the sum-total 14 paragraphs of the article, of those 5 mentioned her looks. And 5 in some way made an insinuation about sex. Mathematically, that means that 36% (okay, okay, 35.7%) of the article focused on: her looks, sex/rape (even though they don't call a spade a spade and call it rape), or some combo thereof. Is that journalism, or sensationalism?

The man that she handcuffed and forced into sex did not consent ... the word *forced* implies that. (At least, by my parsing, that's the understanding I came to.) Granted, many a man has had fantasies of a woman/women tying them to the bedpost and "having their way" with them. However ... this man was Mormon. And typically I view religion as ... other.

From personal experience, there's a lot of hypocrisy betwixt sex and religion. However, I do know and interact (daily) with a lot of Mormons. Those that ARE (Mormon), live by it. The ones that want to break the "rules", don't really identify as Mormon. (More often they'll call themselves Jack-Mormon, or some other derivative.) So, the fact that this man was a Missionary ... eesh. What she did was rape. That's it. End of story.

I've met Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc., who will bend the rules to suit their needs, but Mormons? From what I've experienced (and that's all I'm saying ... it's my experience ... either they ARE Mormon, or they aren't - or were raised, or recovering, or what have you) ... people will bend their religion, and what their religion espouses, to suit their needs, or to make it fit their world view. With the Mormons, though, it's all or nothing. (There's more subtext here I know, and the ladies in this tribe who have a metric tonne more insight and education into religion than I do can offer more insight, they can/will offer their observations.)

Hmm. I guess what I'm saying is ... "what the hell does it have to do with the facts what she looks(looked) like, and what bearing does it have to the matter at hand what religion HE was?" Not a darn thing.

It's all sound and fury, signifying ... what?

Again from the article, "To flee on bail, she donned a red wig and disguised herself as a member of a mime troupe, together with her alleged accomplice, Keith May."

I'm gonna put on my snark hat right now ... a red wig?!??!? Are they inveighing that people who have red hair are evil? And will run from the law? And that those eeeeeeeeevil redheads will join those no-goodnik mime troupes to escape justice? (Okay, mimes are evil. I keed! I keed!)

Keeping the snark hat on, again from the article: "... then resurfaced ... dressed as a nun ... a rope and handcuffs were in her car."

Maybe she just needed some space to totally live out her quasi-religious-BDSM fantasies ... ???

This turned out a hell of a lot longer than I intended, but apparently it struck a nerve. (Granted, some part of me is still totally entertained at the craziness of the woman. I mean, c'mon - she had puppies cloned from the EAR of her dog for Christsakes.)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

More on art ...

... I was watching Margaret Cho, and she said something that made my brain go, "aroo?" It woke something that's been tickling my brain for the last few months/years, and here's my start. Am I on the right path?

This, along with my last post, is a very rough draft, almost stream of conscious. I think what I'm trying to say is that just by listening, hearing, even being a passive observer, we all contribute. And that if we all just become a teensy bit more aware of what each person has to offer (even if we don't agree with it), our daily lives will become that much more beautiful. Hmmm. Yeah. I think that's where I'm headed with this.

What is art?

Is it the snap of a shutter? The brush of oil on a canvas? The turn of a phrase? The pitch in a voice? The note on a scale? The line of a leg?

Right now I'm watching Margaret Cho's "Revolution" and she said something to the effect of: "The function of art is to comment on culture." I emphatically agree, but would have to add to this: yes, one part of it is to comment on culture, and some other (not all encompassing parts) are to make you think and to make you feel.

Art begets Art.

How do YOU choose to comment on culture? Do you consider yourself an artist?

We are all artists, deep down inside, down to the core of our being. Each and EVERY ONE of us is an artist.

We live.

We breathe.

We experience.

Art is "us": it's how we tap into our inner beings and it is how we show ourselves, how we show our views, how we show our souls, how we show our opinions. It is how we reflect "us" back to the world. When we do that, when we hold up that mirror or even a two-way glass, we are artists.

"But what about someone like Limbaugh? He can definitely turn a phrase, but does that make him an artist?"

Yes. Yes it does and yes he is.

Now, before you get your panties in a twist, hear me out.

When someone like Rush Limbaugh says something like "dunderheaded alarmists and prophets of doom", regarding environmentalists, he is spurring art. A statement like that will make you think, and it spurs you to learn. It spurs people to take photographs like this

Is that photograph NOT art? Is it not evocative? I cannot say what the photographers mindset was when she snapped this photo: if it was just something akin to, "wow, look at the structure, the colour, the composition; or if it was something more along the lines of, "oh, we're just dunderheads are we? Well look at THIS Mr. Limbaugh! Gore 4EVAR!"

This image is art to me. It woke something inside of me, which I'm still trying to verbalize. What does it say to you? What was this artist thinking, or trying to convey? If you do not "see" what he was trying to "say", is it still art?

Art IS a comment on culture. It is also a comment on our current world situations. There are certain songs, dances, paintings, and photographs, which will evoke different meanings in different people. But there are some forms of media that start out as journalism, and then turn into art - it's a cultural view.

I didn't know Eddie Adams history at the time of this initial writing. But... even if the intent of this photo was to show the atrocities of war, if it just started out as visually showing facts, it morphed into art. Heart wrenching, and yes, disgusting, but art nonetheless. Why?

Look at the photo again. LOOK at it. Strip away what you know of the history of the time. Just ... please, just ... look. Just think. Just feel.

Did it stir anything inside of you? Yes? Then it is art.


Art is education. When you view, hear, or feel something, and it makes you think ... and then research .... it is art.

Art can be selfish (acting, singing, performing) in that we *need* that immediate feedback, that instant applause, to continue to light our fire.

For others, art is therapy: we HAVE to get these images, these words, these movements, these notes ... we just have to get them OUT, out of our brain so that we can come back to some semblance of sanity and stop the images, stop the words, stop the movements, stop the music in our heads just so we can sleep. And function.

Art is showing others the world as you see it, and inviting them into your space ... and hoping that we can all find a common thread so that we can meet in understanding on that common ground.

Why is it that when someone is considered an artist, they are typically viewed through the filter of some sort of addiction? All of the "great" artists were fucked up in some way, and sought release through various behaviours, chemicals, intoxicants. Is it because "art" drove them, or that society at large just didn't hear them? Painters, writers, singers, dancers, comedians - most of the "famous" ones were dependent on something. Was/is it because of society? Or was/is it because they doubted themselves, and only through inebriation, by allowing them to "get outside" of themselves, were they able to tell their truth?

Art, as viewed by most of society at large, is seen as something "frou-frou", as "classist". It's narrowly defined as something only the Imrpressionists did, or "weird stuff" that's seen in art galleries (Pollack anyone?) But actually ... art is SO broad, and SO all encompassing. Each of us lives and breathes art. I create art, you create art, they create art ... even by being an observer we pay the piper of art.

Art is the vehicle of being heard, of being understood. And isn't that what drives most of us - to be heard?

Yes. We are ALL artists.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


So, I'm kinda thinking that this will be a multi-part post. Here is my VERY rough draft. Part one.

I do have a question to you: how would you like to see this random train of thought played out? I'm playing with the concept of a "choose your own adventure": yes, I AM asking for input, but that doesn't mean it will influence the outcome. But ... it may.

This is the beginning of a tangent, and depending on how you view it, it MAY tie into the second part I have saved in my "drafts" folder. If your thoughts (of where you think/would like to see this lead) don't tie into what I already have written, then, well ... so be it.


Damnit. I want to be prolific. I want to write. I want to dance. I want to shoot (photographs, not guns, but sometimes shooting guns can be fun. BANG!)

I want my words, my movements, my images to make an impact. I want what I write, dance, and show to inspire another person to take my idea and make it better. And I want their work to inspire me to one-up them. A healthy, artistic competition. None of this, "I'm better than you" type of competition, but one of, "holy shit! That was fantastic! Here's what I've done with it. What do you have to say?"

Every single day I'm introduced to a new way of writing, a new way of moving, a new way of looking at life. Not all of them I agree with - some I vehemently disagree with. But you know what? I envy those people. The people whose words and images and dances move me to tears ....

to feeling

... to anger

... to something MORE.

Something more than "myself".

Well, maybe envy isn't completely the right word. I DO envy them. Yet ...

... They spur me. They influence me. They awe me. They light that fire under my ass that makes me want to hone all of my skills (and find new ones), so that I can be at times be clear and concise in my written word, and at times semi-amorphous in my movements and visuals. This compulsion is so that you (the audience, the viewer) are led to your own point, your own conclusion.

Many of the people that I envy are near and dear friends of mine:
* The younger ones that make me wish that I had taken a different path.
* The older ones that give me hope that I can still accomplish my dreams. And excel at them.
* All of them share one trait though - they do not deny their artistic bent.

I have artistic constipation, and have for a few years now. Soon I will be prolific, I know this, but this current stasis is killing me, suffocating my soul. These words, these visions, these movements, they are all stuck in my head.

Does anyone have mental Metamucil or DrainO that I can use to flush them?


When people ask me what I do, I feel they are asking who I am. What I do for money is NOT who I am - I refuse to be constrained into a box of who YOU think I should be, of how you think I should act and feel. Does it make them uncomfortable when I don't fit into their percieved statistic? When I'm forced into a box, I will do anything within my power to break out of that box (even if I do like and find the box to be cozy and agreeable). Sometimes this works in my favor, most times it is to my detriment.

Yes, I do well at my job, but that is not the only layer. The people who identify with their jobs, and allow those jobs to create who they feel they should be, seem to view me as ... less. When they realize that I do not live to work, but instead work to live, it seems anathema to them that I have more pressing desires outside of the 9-to-5. I feel as though I'm viewed as a pet monkey. And I hate that.

I WILL play by their rules, but adding a bit of "me" into the mix.

Does this make me a corporate heretic?