I’ve been so alone for the past week, packing up my Mom’s apartment, bit by bit. With each item, memories have been getting triggered, and I’ve had to quash them lest I be overcome. There’s been so much sorting to be done: to I keep this? Do I give it away? Is this in good enough condition to be sold for charity?
It’s been a slower process than I’d like, and it’s led to long days primarily on my feet, on low pile carpets, as this was a wheelchair accessible apartment. I ache in both body and mind, and all I want at this point is a hot bath in Epsom salt, hearing New Age music in the background, and perhaps that sweet voice saying, “Calgon, take me away…”
My brother flew in last night and was dismayed by what he saw for two reasons: he’s not a seasoned moving warrior, like me—I’ve moved easily 50 times and probably more if I actually go and recount them, and 2) much of the “stuff” he saw laying about wasn’t leaving with us. The only real issues we had to face together were the collectibles that had to still be packed, which were small and delicate, and the rare books, which were quickly parsed out. Even so, packing those up took a few hours, and he and I had both already had long days—I doing my various task-switching, with organizing stacks, packing boxes, deep cleaning again, as my Mom had terrible psoriatic arthritis, and, sadly, there were flecks of skin everywhere and in everything. I know she was embarrassed by this, so I’m not trying to shame her or anyone whom has suffered with this illness by bringing this in the open, merely that I had to keep stopping to do so much cleaning due to the nature of what had occurred.
The apartment won’t be empty when we leave, which will also feel strange. I love this complex so much, I’m going to put myself on the (long) waiting list. I heard it’s 62+, though my Mom had told me it was 55+. I think she was thinking of her old condo complex, so that’s…boo. I find myself wishing I had a reason to come back here. While I do still have family in town and I’m going to work harder on staying close, a huge connection has been severed.
If you’ve been keeping up on my blog at all, you’ll know that my Mom recently passed away. I came to her apartment in Phoenix to help her with her health issues. They quickly spiraled out of control and she had to be moved to an in-patient facility. While we initially thought she’d be there just a few days until she was stabilized, she just kept getting worse until she died.
It was so sad.
So here I am, at her former apartment. It’s a gorgeous complex. I’m trying to clear out all the shmutz and get ready to pack it all up. It has to be done by the end of this week.
It’s been hard to sleep. Not only because I’m technically grieving—I did actually cry a bit last night, and I felt some relief. I grieve slowly, always. But doing this type of work is slow. I have to evaluate the usefulness of every piece of stuff I encounter and decide if I should keep it, toss it, or give it away. The storage space is minimal in this place, but Mom managed to squirrel away a shocking amount of…stuff. Like, two Magic Bullets, the original model and the updated one, clearly neither one much used. There were two immersion mixers, both a slow cooker and an Instant Pot (that one I’m taking home!) two AppleTVs…and so on.
It’s been quite the adventure.
Of course, there are many not-so-useful things, or things that are useful but that I don’t personally need. These will be sold at the estate sale, the proceeds of which will be given to a charity stated in her Will.
I managed to get through all of the cabinets by today, which was my goal. All that’s left are the desk drawers. They’re quite small. There won’t be much trash there. After that, it’s just her clothes in the closet, dresser and highboy, most of which will go to Goodwill. This will be very simple and I don’t expect it to drain me too much. I’m so tired each day. I pass out by 10:00 PM, but then I wake up around 3:30 AM and can’t get back to sleep. It’s frustrating. I don’t feel rested at that point. I’m a pro at managing my insomnia though, and I either ruminate or meditate for the next 6–7 hours and get up around 2:30 PM. I have to make sure I don’t overdo things. My Mom’s bed is considerably more comfortable than what they had at the care facility, thus I’m not waking up feeling like I’ve been beaten with a stick. That’s a blessing. I wish I could say the same for my feet.
In 2005, my Mom had a terrible incident with flesh-eating bacteria on the back of her right leg. By the time it was discovered, they had to remove most of her right calf and a good portion of her right hamstring. She was never the same afterward.
If you’ve been following my blog, you’ll recall my reference to her Will, also dated 2005.
Her only child who remained by her side during this trauma and her long recuperation, was her local child. It made sense. Her resentment was immature, yet not unexpected.
I was a single mother, and after looking for work for a long time, I’d finally found a job. I was still under probation when this had occurred, as well as being under one of our many speaking moratoriums that we’ve had over the years. I won’t bore you with the details of this instance—or perhaps that will be the subject of another blog post.
I got updates about Mom on a regular basis. I wanted to know how she was doing. I had no idea how bad it was. About a year later I ditched by old beater for a new car so I could confidently make the trip with a kid affordably (two tanks of gas versus two place tickets? Heck yeah!) and I saw the wounds. It was horrifying. Half of the back of her leg was gone. They’d had to take skin grafts from her backside to cover her leg. There was a part, right at the back of the knee, that they didn’t cover adequately. They didn’t compensate properly for the movement required in that area. She was never able to properly stretch or bend her leg. She walked with a cane for a few years, but eventually ended-up needing a walker.
Side note: Having used a walker myself when I was on chemo, I can safely say that everyone you see in public is using their walker totally wrong. Look next time. You’ll see them hunched over, unbalanced, their weight in front of them. It’s terribly unsafe. I was taught that you need to stand up straight, arms at your sides. If you can’t have them at your sides, your walker is at the wrong height for you. They’re adjustable and your weight should be centered so you don’t fall. This is why you see so many hip and shoulder surgeries.
The reason this matters is because her apartment is accessible, and while it has more floor space, the carpet pile is non-existent. It’s hard on the feet and each day I find myself nearly wincing off to bed. I know, poor me.
The next step is fairly simple, and then I start building boxes and packing ’em up. While it looks like gobs of stuff, when I break it down in my mind, it’s really not that much. I unpacked her when she first moved in and I remember it was pretty easy, though she felt overwhelmed. However, I’m an old pro when it comes to moving, and I’m not easily intimidated by such things.
Well, so my Mom died. I guess you’ve figured that out if you saw my last video, which I forgot to post here when I recorded it (been a bit preoccupied and I’ve gotten my posting order all mixed up. Sue me). I really thought we had more time. That’s been the most shocking part of it all for me.
When I arrived, she wasn’t doing great but she seemed far from dying. I thought all she needed was a dietary fix and a bit of time. I kept forgetting the fact that when she started dialysis 5 or so years ago she was already Stage 5. Stage Five. That’s Kidney Failure.
It was all due to gold treatments she’d received when she was only a little older than me for her rheumatoid arthritis. It was known at the time that it could cause kidney damage, so there was always extensive blood work done with each treatment. The moment there were signs that yes, her kidneys had been harmed, the treatments were stopped.
She should have sought dialysis then. But no.
When she would speak of it, the mental image I’d get would be of being stuck in some kind of iron lung for hours, or even days at a time, with no mobility, no freedom, one’s life held hostage by machines. Dialysis was the last thing she could possibly want.
I was at the doctor’s appointment the day he came and told her the bad news: that her tests showed her disease had advanced to Stage 5. I asked, “What’s the next Stage?” He answered, “There is no next Stage.” I turned to my mother in accusation and said, “Mom!”
When we got back to her house, I immediately started researching dialysis to find out if it was, in fact, as awful as she thought it was, and if at Stage 5, there was any point in pursuing it. It turned out that even at Stage 5 there was a great deal of hope, and HEY BONUS!, there’s even a way to do it in the comfort of your OWN HOME.
I told her about it and immediately signed us up for an informational seminar.
Although she tried the home dialysis, it turned out to be uncomfortable and difficult. I ended up hearing this from quite a few people who had tried this. Bummer. But, my Mom was open to going to a center, which she faithfully did for roughly the following several years.
At first, it was a revelation! While the treatment tired her out when she got home, the following day she was peppy and energized, feeling quite back to her normal self. Weekends, she could go out to dinner and the movies again, or the opera, like she used to. She had much of her old life back—or at least so it seemed, for a time. But it was just staving-off the inevitable. She was in kidney failure after all. She was already dying.
I know I already wrote a post where I spoke quite ill of my mother. We had a complicated relationship. Let me take a few moments to tell you of her talents.
She could knit, crochet, and sew amazing things. Growing up, her hands were never still. She even took sewing lessons, to learn how to make custom patterns. She made my brother’s girlfriend’s prom dress, which was this gorgeous one shoulder taffeta creation. She made needlepoint. In the evenings, during family TV time, she would pull out whatever she was working on, and I loved to watch her. I never had the talent or patience for this work. Sadly, arthritis took this away from her, along with vision problems.
She loved to write poetry. I don’t know if she had any talent for it, but she would spend hours with a legal pad and a pen, musing away late into the night. I think she shared something with me once, but I was too young to appreciate it. I prefer free-verse, anyway.
She could tell stories! Oh my, the stories of her life were so interesting! From weekends on her grandmother’s farm in Chile, to moving to New York in the 1950’s, then taking a bus trip to visit her brother in San Francisco—and getting stuck there because she ran out of money!—and taking a job as a bank teller for BofA, and, while getting the medical screening for health insurance and just by chance swallowing while the doctor was palpating her throat to discover, of all things, thyroid cancer, which back in those days involved removing half of her neck! She literally could not hold her head up for months, as they had removed not only the tumor and her thyroid, but all of the tendons and muscles on that side of her neck just to make certain they had gotten it all! It left a massive t-shaped scar along her jawline, down her neck, and across her collarbone. This was a beautiful woman in her early twenties who went on to feel deformed for the next decade. Devastating. Plus, the physical therapy involved just to hold her head up, turn her head, compensate for what was lost—just incredible. I have never been able to imagine what that must have been like for her.
Obviously she found men to love her and marry her. She created a family. She was conflicted. Perhaps she never felt worthy. She and I spoke somewhat of this, but never directly. She could only ever allude to mistakes she had made and wishing she had done things differently. Don’t we all?
This was also a woman who loved history. She adored historical novels. She could retell historical events as if she had actually been there. She could bring them to life in such a way that I think she missed her true calling as a historical author!
I will miss this cantankerous, impossible, vivacious, lovable lady. I wish you had known her. You’d have felt the same.
I talk about spending time with my mother as she struggles with her last days. Her decline was much more rapid than any of us expected, and I found myself exhausted and wondering and…numb. I was glad to be there with her as I was denied the opportunity to be there with my father during his final days. Still, it’s always difficult and unexpected. I suspect each time is most likely as unique as each person, and as complex as each relationship.
Have you ever experienced the loss of a parent? Have you been there with them? Has the time enriched your life in any way, or changed you, or did it detract from your life? Let me know in the comments.
I’ve decided not to get out of bed today. I’m just wiped out. Too many nights in a row where Mom suddenly needs to crawl out of the bed for some reason, and if I weren’t such a light sleeper, she’d have fallen and broken something by now. That’s the last thing we need.
In my case, I grew up in an unsafe environment that did involve alcohol, but not always.
There is a history of undiagnosed mental illness on both sides of my family, including depression, and probably bipolar disorder. Most days, my brothers and I never knew what would trigger an event. It could be something as insignificant as a stain on the kitchen counter that had been missed when we did our chores that afternoon, noticed upon our parents’ return home from work around 5:20 PM, that would escalate far into the evening, leaving everyone emotionally drained around 11:00 PM. Declarations of wanting to divorce the entire family would have been made at some point (by my mother), that we all had ruined her life, were making her miserable, and there would be so much incoherent yelling. Things that had been said months ago perhaps in passing would be brought up as accusations and proof of our hatred, or of our lack of moral fiber, and it would all end with everyone in tears, that we would each retreat to our separate rooms to sob and wonder. Nobody would have eaten. Homework would have been left undone.
The majority of the time it was between me and my mother that these events took place, but others would be circled in should they try to defend or cry foul. Too often I’d be left on my own as it would be difficult to face the inevitable onslaught should they try, and thus they’d stay quiet in their rooms.
At these times, I’d feel the outrage and injustice on my own and destroy my bedroom, flinging the drawers from my dresser across the room and crashing items from my bookcase, pulling the bedding from my bed, and then sit in the mess, sobbing. Eventually, my father would come in to lecture me about how I must control myself to keep the peace in the house. How it was up to me to not trigger these events, because I knew how she could be; I understood how she could get in these moods. It was all up to me to make the family work smoothly.
It was my fault when it all fell apart.
I recall a specific incident before The Twins were born when my brother and I were trying to finish a jigsaw puzzle on the coffee table before Tante (my mother’s best friend who lived in The City) came over for dinner that night. We were already dressed for the event, and our mother was trying to vacuum the living room. We were in the way, but we were concentrating on the puzzle. We kept moving around the coffee table as we worked, thinking that we were getting enough out of her way, but apparently it wasn’t good enough for her. Our father had left the house in the family car to get some wine and dinner rolls in town, as we lived in a new development outside of town.
Mom lost it.
She started running into us with the vacuum to get us out of the way. The coffee table wasn’t substantial, being one of those “Danish-modern” styles, and she banged that around too, sending our puzzle flying, and running over pieces with the vacuum. We were terrified, and squealed and ran to the corner of the room, clinging to each other in fear.
She put up the vacuum, stomped to the master bedroom, packed a suitcase, and left the house. To this day, I have no idea how long she was gone, or what, exactly, happened next. I think Tante came soon after, as the door was left open and we were huddled together, crying? Then my Dad came and then left, looking for my Mom, while Tante tended to us and tried to soothe us.
For a long time afterward, I remember my brother having incredible anxiety any time my parents left us alone in the car to go grocery shopping, or to run any kind of errand. This was back in the sixties, when it was common to leave the kids in the car unattended. He would always sob in terror when they would leave, and his terror would trigger mine, and we would both cry as we saw them walking away, despite them reassuring us that they’d be back soon. As such things go, I’d say this was the mildest part of what we went through, and after a few minutes, we’d make up some kind of game to amuse ourselves while they were gone.
[EDIT] My brother just stopped by to check in with me and Mom, and reminded me of another time when this happened, same circumstance, different people coming over (my Godfather and his wife), only this time Mom hopped on a bus and went all the way to Sacramento, and Dad had to spend several hours driving all the way up there to track her down and bring her back. Yikes. I’d blocked this one out. I need to point out that I’m barely three years older than The Twins, so this is very early abandonment trauma.
There was a lot of playing us off of each other while growing up. By my mother. Playing favorites. There was a definite hierarchy of beloved-ness in our family, and I was lowest on that totem pole.
My father, on the other hand, was inaccessible and remote. I have some vague early memories of sexual abuse before The Twins were born.
So I guess I ask the world to forgive me if my thinking is off sometimes. I’m entrained to not trust what I see. I’m entrained to not believe what I hear. I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Because these games my Mom has played with the family didn’t end when my father shot himself in the garage in 1995.
They didn’t end when she abruptly sold the family home and moved to Phoenix in 1999.
I went through cancer treatment without the support of my mother, because she didn’t believe I had cancer at first. She thought I had made it up for attention. So I stopped speaking to her for a couple of years because I just couldn’t deal with that. And that certainly wasn’t the first time I had stopped speaking to her since moving out of the family home.
And now? Now, I sit with her at an in-patient care center, while she sleeps on the verge of a kidney-failure coma, near death, and I write what many would consider to be horrible things to write about one’s mother when one’s mother is about to die. There’s no good time to write these things. Since my cancer, I’ve decided I need to be more blunt. It’s not pretty, and it’s not nice, but it’s the truth. I’m just telling the truth. It’s the only virtue I have. It’s the only virtue that matters, when it comes to dealing with humans. Humans are very, very good at avoiding the truth.
But as for me being the person that is here, by her bedside? I hold no actual grudge toward her. She is a damaged person, who has never confronted her fears and wounds. I think she is doing so now, in her sleep; in her dreams, before she slips away. I’m holding space for her to do that and keeping her body safe while she does so. It should be me who’s here to do that. I know my damage. I know what’s there, for the most part. I’m aware that I’m a work in progress.
I do pretty well, as long as I don’t try to do romance—that area of my life is one jumbled, fucked-up trash heap that I’m still working on. It would take a Saint’s patience to get me through to the other side.
But I do fine on my own, so I think I’ll just fly solo from here on out.
Bringing to you another video, this time in 4k. It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted anything anywhere, but I’ve hardly been idle. There have been many and sundry little things taking my attention away, and in this video I chat about what’s been occupying my time. Like writing new songs, for example. I realize I just put out an album (that was long past its due date) and I’m supposed to only be focused on talking about that, but I’m not a conventional artist in any sense of the word. “Swallow” was conceived in 1995 as an album that would explore five different sides of a woman’s personality, with “Swallow” being the main character, and the one who has had to swallow her feelings and circumstances in order to survive. Clearly, that’s not the album I ended up making.
Nor is am i me/am i not?, though I suppose in a way I came slightly closer.
As a point of curiosity, it seems that Tori Amos made that album, in a way, when she put out American Doll Posse, an album that put me off entirely for years due to the artwork and the fact that it seemed like Ms. Amos simply wanted an excuse to wear as many different wigs as she could to disguise the fact that she was losing her hair. It had finally become noticeable on To Venus and Back, which is why, I think, she had wigged artwork for Strange Little Girls, which I thought was a great album of covers. In fact, I only picked American Doll Posse up a couple of months ago after hearing Bouncing Off Clouds on The Graham Norton Show on YouTube. It’s a solid album. I don’t think it needed the concept. I think it was a ruse to hide her hair loss. It happens to women just as it does to men, and it’s horrible and embarrassing. She probably had to have a scalp reduction surgery that took years to heal, and that’s probably why there are so many fans that say she looks different now. Her eyebrows have literally moved. Please don’t hate on me for this: I adore her work.
Yikes, I’ve hung myself out to dry now. Um…moving right along.
All of the material from Swallow had been written between 2010 and 2012, and was pretty much complete by 2013. At that point, life circumstances became too pressing for me to move forward on the album and it had to wait. The release itself has been quiet, though I’ve gotten great feedback, and I’m pleased with its performance thus far. Having not written any music since 2012 and getting back into after all these years feels exhilarating.
Oh, and I chat with a sparrow for a moment. In the video, I zoom in close so you can see her clearly, but I realize that some folks might think I spliced that Very Mary Poppins moment in. Sadly, you’ll just have to take my word for it, because I imported the video directly from Quicktime to Premiere Rush without saving a copy, and once it’s rendered in Premiere Rush, it becomes uneditable.
I’ll think about saving a source copy next time. It’s not like I don’t have a terabyte of cloud storage or anything.
Two things of note here are that I’m now on Patreon, the address is (predictably) https://www.patreon.com/auryaun. I originally had Tiers there for both music supporters and tarot readings, but the way Patreon works made it too difficult. You can only offer either Tiers that are paid monthly, or “per creation”. I don’t see how I could satisfy my music fans in this way, plus I’m giving access to my Discord server, and how would that make sense? So I removed the tarot reading portion from my Patreon and only have monthly music fan subscriptions available that come with access to Discord, early access to new tracks, special swag, and more things as they happen.
For the tarot fans, I’ll be offering readings through a different avenue and most likely will use PayPal. In this video, I offer my first 150 Subscribers to my YouTube Channel to a free, single card reading, just for becoming a sub of my Channel and liking the video. Then, all you have to do is DM me your question. Super simple!
If it goes really well I might extend it to more subscribers. I’ll be setting up a page (probably here) for tarot readings. I know I can help a lot of people with my readings, as I’ve been doing them for so long. I’m excited to get going with these.
This week’s reading takes us in a dark and unpleasant direction, but we can get through it if we stay strong and remember that we are a democracy. I’ve included the URLs to find your Senator and Representative in order to make call after call to direct them to assist YOU, since they are there to work for YOU and not the other way around.
I also have started a Patreon at https://www.patreon.com/auryaun. I’m offering a few Tiers of readings there, but as I’ve mentioned in the video, I’m waiving fees for Single Card readings for the first 150 Subscribers to my YouTube Channel. All you need to do is go to my YouTube Channel, Like this video, and Subscribe to my Channel. Then DM me your question and I’ll DM you a reply of your reading If this takes off, I might extend this offer.
This feels like one of the most powerful readings I’ve done yet, though I was frustrated by my technical issues. I did a factory reset on my computer today and realized that when I set it up, I stupidly created a partition that had sealed away a large portion of my usable data, when all I had meant to do was change the name of my machine. This is the danger of knowing only enough about such things as to cause oneself such problems—but I also know enough to fix them. Today, she is running sweetly with scads of available data.
Anyway…many hours later, I have once again another great video up and a nicely running machine. I’m going to do a test vloggy today just to make sure she’s going to play nicely with me. Don’t you make a liar out of me, Missy!
Check out my most recent video where I discuss the latest doings of my life and an interesting new project I’m about to embark upon—I’m really excited about this one and plan to vlog about it so I hope you’ll join me on the journey. I expect to get started on that around the end of the month.
Self to Self:How was your day? Self to Self: Oh, okay I guess. Self to Self: What’s wrong? Self to Self: Nothing, really. I actually felt a bit better today than I have for the past few days. Self to Self: Well, that’s good! Self to Self: Sure. Self to Self: Yeah. I managed to get a few things done. I still have to pace myself. Self to Self: Well, we know that’s always going to be the case. Self to Self: Yeah. Self to Self: Yeah. Self to Self: So, what did you do? Self to Self: Well, I’ve wanted to get the patio a bit tidied up. It’s never been a space we can actually use—it’s always too hot, plus the squirrels have taken over. I need to move all the bird feeders to the front of the house, but that will mean taking out the big ladder, and I have to wait for a day when I feel strong enough to do that and my balance isn’t all wonky. Self to Self: Right. Isn’t there something you can do about the squirrels? Self to Self: At the moment, all I can seem to do is keep the feeders in hard-to-reach places and put a heavy layer of gravel over the tops of my potted plants. Self to Self: Wow. That must be frustrating. I know how much you enjoy gardening. Self to Self: It is. They’re cute little bastards. I picked up a gorgeous dwarf date palm and a potted grass plant for the back and swept that patio for what felt like the hundredth time this week. I also have a bunch of flowers I need to get out of their grower’s pots for the front, but all I’ve been able to do is water them since I got them. I find planting satisfying but very physical work. Self to Self:Again, pacing yourself is okay. Self to Self: But we just had a heatwave and I skipped two days of watering. They’re mostly hydrangeas, and even though they were pretty much shaded, they didn’t do well at all. I feel terrible when this happens because plants are helpless and rely upon on us completely. I also have a petunia dish garden I need to remake, and I’ll be adding lobelias to it. I love their electric blue color. I hope I can do it tomorrow… Self to Self: Whatever happens, it will be fine. Self to Self: I’m sure you’re right.
It’s been a few months of “lockdown” now, and infection rates continue to rise due to so many people in the USA not understanding (or caring) how infection spreads. Until it touches them personally, they simply won’t learn. For those of us who have been taking the isolation seriously, it’s especially hard, as our isolation often feels meaningless against the actions of these louts who care not one whit for the lives of others and simply go about their day as if they’ll live forever and The Invisible Man In The Sky actually cares about them who care nothing for anyone else.
How does that parse, logically? Do these people truly think they’ll be “saved” when the Second Coming finally happens? Why would they be? Even according to their own scripture they’re the most horrible people in existence. There couldn’t possibly be room in Heaven for these detestable souls.
Those of us who are sincerely trying to not only flatten the curve, but to stay healthy through this pandemic, some of us are starting to show the signs of stress due to the extended isolation from our normal activities. I’m not speaking of myself so much here, as I’m a dyed-in-the-wool homebody and the types of places I wish I could go and hang out just don’t exist. When I first moved to Silicon Valley in the mid-90’s, I had it as a goal to create some kind of artist’s shared workspace, but the more I’d seen about this place, the less it seemed any kind of likely proposition unless it could’ve made $$$BIG$$MONEY$$$. And that didn’t jibe with its purpose at all. It would’ve been more of a creative incubator, a think tank, if you will, but it would’ve taken scads of cash to keep it operational, and I didn’t see myself as CEO of a non-profit having to constantly hold fundraisers and beg for money. Boo.
So, there’s that.
I live in the wrong area to make this happen. Maybe somewhere in Europe, like Berlin, which has a thriving arts community and is still strong in economy. London wouldn’t work, as they’re very tightfisted and have been going the way of the US since the days of Tony Blair. Well, earlier, obviously, but even the “extremely liberal” Tony Blair was very conservative when it came to economy and very hawkish when it came to warmongering (like Obama, which folks tend to forget due to all the genuinely great things he managed to enact in this country).
But I digress, as usual.
I’m writing this post because there were squirrels having breakfast on my porch when I went to go water the plants this morning. I opened the front door very gently, which is what I’ve learned to do in order not to scare any of the local fauna away, and, sure enough, two grey squirrels stood up on their hind legs somewhat guiltily and looked up at me in case I was ready to chase them away. I spoke very quietly and said that it was okay for them to eat, and they went right back to it. I took a bit of a video from my phone which I’ll try to add to this post somehow—though that tends to require three different apps to translate the file to the right format. That doesn’t seem right to me. Whatevs.
Getting back to the actual title of the post, I recently experienced a strange kind of setback that took me by surprise. I’ve been doing pretty well, all things considered. I’m a natural homebody, so the having to stay at home thing works for me. I don’t have many friends, so there’s not been much to miss there. I think I mentioned recently that it has stung that my brother and my daughter have had people to FaceTime with, wishing there was a friend in my life that was close enough to want to stay in touch with me regularly. The friendships I do have are all online and managed easily through social media interactions. Translation: a virtual “like”, “heart”, “hug”, or the seldom-used “comment” have transplanted any IRL friendship. As far as I’m concerned, the friendships are as real as they ever were. Make of that what you will.
I was recently contacted out of the blue by someone I’d dated decades ago. I don’t really know why this person reached out to me, and though I asked, the reason they gave me felt flimsy. Nevertheless, we quickly fell into a pattern of speaking regularly on the phone, something I haven’t done since I switched over to an iPhone in 2012. I love my iPhone, and will never switch back to another platform, but its being an actual telephone has never been its strong suit, so I have become big on texting and social media interactions. Mostly texting, if it’s a person I actually want to be in regular contact with. Speaking on the phone felt novel and exciting again, and I felt on par with my family/roommates, with their regular outside contact (though no FaceTiming for me, sadly).
Always being one to question and wonder and dig into motives, after several days of this (perhaps more like a couple of weeks) I found myself asking this person if they were trying to qualify me as a potential future companion. The answer I received was an embarrassingly long string of the word “No”, with various emphases. Something like, “No, no, no, no, no…NO, NO, no, no, no…oh, God, no…”
I think a simple, “You misunderstand why I contacted you”, or, “Gosh, I’m sorry, but that’s not what I meant”, or, just one simple, “No” would have sufficed.
So that happened.
It’s not as though I’m seeking anything in particular. I’m not. I’m content. During my cancer treatment, I realized that I’d made a miscalculation by choosing to be single, as doing cancer without a companion is truly hard, but I managed somehow. I didn’t have a partner, but I did have my daughter, and one of my brothers was around as well, though he was incredibly busy. I spent a lot of my time in the hospital, anyway, so I guess the extra help I needed when things got really bad was there when I needed it. I didn’t get any visitors, save for when my brother came once after when they tried to clear my small bowel obstruction the first time, and it was such a nice surprise to see him there when I was so sore and could barely move. And my daughter visited me 2 or 3 times and even stayed with me when they thought I had a pulmonary embolism(!). It was a bit harder for her because she doesn’t drive and she had to take several buses to get to the hospital, but her presence was very welcome.
Anyway, I’m pretty content. I’ve made myself be content. This is my life. I know I want to live. I have relationships with my plants, and I talk to them whenever I see them, water them, trim them back—and when I do have to trim them back I make sure to acknowledge the pain that must cause them, but I reassure them that it’s needful because this unhealthy part is taking energy away from the rest of the plant and they will feel so much stronger when it’s gone, and of course I apologize for having to do this thing to them.
Oh, I’ve also started to apologize to any bugs I end up having to kill due to their breaking my rule of not having any bugs in the house. I try to have that rule as a vibration that permeates the space, but sometimes they don’t get the memo and come on in. I’m not okay with taking a life, even a buggy one, so I always tell them how sorry I am about it. There are the rare times it’s possible to relocate them to the outside, where they are welcome, but like I said, it’s rare.
This is one of those coffee-and-scones posts, where you think you’re getting one thing, but I give you a platterful of ALL THE THINGS, so you need to sit down with coffee and a plate of scones just to get through it all.
Back to the heartbreak of silence…after that extremely vocal rejection, which I supposed should have been expected. (I mean, how else could one respond, really?) There followed a series of days of no calls. Radio silence. Huh. Our conversation hadn’t exactly ended on that awkward point, we had talked a bit more and ended on the more usual and banal, “talk to you soon”. I didn’t expect it to be the next day, or the next, as I knew I’d made things weird. This is typical for me, as I feel as though I see things as they are and I say so. Kind of in a Naked Emperor way, if you will. But the days dragged on, and it made me wonder: was this person feeling as though I had exposed them? What was so impossibly embarrassing about me thinking this that they had to cut off all contact? True or not, why would they just not call any more at all, when we’d been talking every day, sometimes several times a day, prior to this happening?
It made no sense. And it made me feel terribly sad.
I’ve wanted to start this series for some time, but there was always something that pulled me away. In fact, I’ve also run into heaps of trouble just uploading this video. It’s been very strange though not unexpected given the subject matter. Some things don’t wish to be known or discussed. Please don’t hesitate to ask me questions about this material—it can be daunting to understand if you’re a novice just starting out.
Eliste finally succumbs to Feronte’s summons, and their assignation takes a shocking turn. Meanwhile, the defenses of the Beviere itself are crushed, while the Exalted within attempt to escape the teeming hoard that is determined to speak with King Dunulas.
An utter lack of discipline followed my strange week of pain, apparently, and my workflow fell apart. Ah, well. Hopefully, you’re also subscribed to my YouTube Channel (and if you’re not, you should be).
This reading was focused and powerful, as well as really positive. I see good things coming our way—
There’s a certain manner, a certain niceness, and yet a specific insistence that they do not believe in any sort of spirit/beyond/God principle/scripture, regardless of whether or not they experienced any sort of religious upbringing or had done any kind of spiritual searching themselves at any point of time in their lives.
There are a few YouTubers I can think of, in particular in the home cleaning/home decorating/meal prepping space that come to mind. These are usually women, but not always—there are a few men, but in these instances, they’re more likely to be auto detailing than home cleaning videos. Meal prepping could go either way.
There’s an utter wholesomeness to these videos, which is part of the appeal for me, quite frankly. And yet, they are suspiciously devoid of any religious artifacts in the background, no casual religious magazines or books lying on the coffee table that might catch the eye. No, the makers of these videos want to ensure the widest possible appeal, and I can’t say I blame them. But their sweet demeanor surely is their tell.
It must be. Nobody is that nice and sweet just because these days.
I’ve had this pattern ever since my cancer surgery back in the summer of 2017, where I get this terrible cramping that intensifies over the course of about 10 days, to the point where I’m really suffering and can’t stand the act of sitting up—until I can barely stay off the toilet for a day or two. In case I haven’t mentioned it before, I had colorectal cancer, and my tumor was at the very base of my sigmoid colon. That’s where the cramping is focused, but it emanates outward from there, and ends up involving my entire abdomen. The build-up to the last day is excruciating, as if I had some kind of mondo-awful food poisoning, but then it starts to fade back and become manageable.
Opioids don’t help, as I seem to have the kind of metabolism that’s resistant to such drugs and am only susceptible to The Strongest One: Dilaudid. And taking it orally doesn’t do nearly as much as taking it via IV at the hospital, so I just don’t bother. All the various kinds of norco, oxy, and morphine I’ve tried just do zilch, and it’s just as well. There’s nothing sadder than a middle-aged junkie.
So instead, my pharmacology has focused on drugs to try and control the spasming: various anti-siezure medications, muscle relaxant, along with the anti-depressants and an anti-anxiety meds to help me with my other issues that may or may not be related to my misadventures with cancer and cancer treatment+its aftermath.
Nothing seems to have worked that well. The majority of it is about powering through as best I can, and since I really can’t that well, I’m officially disabled for the rest of my life. Boo. Even this, I had to fight the Social Security Administration over for nearly 3 years.
What starts as the narrow escape of Shorvi Nirienne in the Eighth District, turns into a demonstration and then a full march of the people of Shereen upon the gates of the Beviaire, and we see The Crowd Queller use his terrifying device.
The People’s Reparation Party has grown in power, and the Cavalier vo Meureille tries valiantly to convince Eliste and Zeralenn to leave Shereen. Meanwhile, Feronte sends a peculiar gift to Eliste that seems she can finally accept.
This is the second heat advisory we’ve had this year, and it’s not even summer yet. We had quite a cold winter, and we actually had a pretty cold spring for the most part. I’ve been hoping that would lead into a mild summer. Maybe it will, overall, but right now it’s very humid and hot, and there’s no air conditioning where I live.
Most of the homes in my area were built without A/C. We’ve typically not needed it, as we are close to the coast and get a nice, cooling fog every evening. It’s thicker in the hot months, having to do with the Central Valley of California getting roasting hot during the day in summer, and when the sun sets the land gives off this tremendous heat, sucking up the cooler air from the ocean through the small passes of the SF Bay Area, creating loads of wind and bringing offshore fog with it. I’m not trained in the subject, it’s just my observation based on having lived here all my life.
Even the insects are having a hard time
I’ve mentioned before that I’m a bit of a gardener. I’m not great at it, but I do enjoy it. I always have. I learned how to take care of plants in general from the first of several jobs I had working for an indoor plant rental/maintenance company, along with any gardening I watched my dad do in his very nice gardens, especially his roses. What I do know, is that most plants are shockingly easy to care for, as long as you give it the right soil, the right amount of sun, and the right amount of water. When plants are healthy and strong, they typically can fend off any pests or disease.
Speaking of which, I’ve noticed that a certain big retailer doesn’t take very good care of its inventory. The last several plants I purchased from them came with earwigs—lots of earwigs. I’ve never had earwigs in my garden before, but now they’re all over the place. I have two of the new plants I still need to re-pot, but I need to handle the earwig situation first, because every time I pick up one of the plants, I find a host of the little buggers hiding underneath, trying to keep cool in the moist.
While we’re on the subject, I’m also dealing with cockroaches. I know, ew. This time I’ve attracted these lovelies due to the fact that I put birdseed out on the ground for the mourning doves and towhees that come by. They’re too large to perch on the feeders, and they aren’t perching feeders, anyway. The finches are super messy, too. They literally push the seeds aside vigorously to find the ones they want, so I end up with a huge mess on the ground either way.
I found a cockroach in my bathroom today. This is the first time I’ve ever had to deal with a cockroach inside my home. I felt violated and disgusted. I’m a clean person, and pay special attention to my kitchen and bathroom. After hitting that sucker a few times with the toilet brush and knocking it senseless, I picked it up with a tissue and flushed it down the toilet. At that point the only thing to do was to torch the entire place with a flamethrower.
Lacking this equipment, I did the next best thing and brought out the bottle of liquid bleach.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting tired of using hand sanitizer everywhere I go; having to wear a mask every time I go out; having to disinfect my shoes and purchases every time I come in…being constantly vigilant in order to not become ill or to (gasp!) become a carrier.
I suppose it’s bad enough that I have no friends, other than a handful of very nice people that have incredibly busy lives. It’s tough to make new friends at my age. Making friends is a commitment. It’s a thing you nurture with time and deliberation. By the time one is in one’s middle age, the difficulty lies in having a set life: friends and family routines are usually solidified now and adding someone new might not be welcome. If it is, there can simply be the difficulties of scheduling.
I have attachment issues as part of my mental and emotional difficulties (along with clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder), so this is extra challenging for me. It’s hard for me to remain logical and understanding of these difficulties when they arise. I always think it’s something I’ve done. Sometimes it is something I’ve done, and I never get to find out what that is. I just get cut off—no more invitations to a person’s events, no more contact, nothing. Ghosted.
So there’s that, too.
My most recent ones are fairly recent: one of them happened a few months before I found out I had cancer, and the second one while I was undergoing cancer treatment. Mentioning this, it must sound as though the fact I was suffering from cancer I should not have had to also suffer friendship loss, but what I actually mean to do is simply recall the timing in my life; on my personal roadmap. It’s possible I could mean both. When I connect the dots and timing, both of them stem from comments I made concerning what comes off as my brutal honesty, though if these people were really my friends in the first place these comments should not have had this result.
And for the one person, I have to say to myself, “Good riddance!”, since that was apparently a fake friendship based on some sort of fantasy the person had about me for many years. I’ve lost what little respect I had for them entirely, as they have no principles. Yuck. As for the other, it seems to me they contradicted themselves in their actions versus their earliest words to me, and I again have to decide it’s okay to let our paths diverge.
Not that any of this means anything at this moment in time, what with social distancing in effect for who knows how much longer. And now, there’s also a curfew. Not that I needed or wanted to go out all that much, but having the right to do so taken away from me makes me bridle. It doesn’t matter whether or not there’s a “good reason” for these things. This is how I feel, and feelings don’t operate within the boundaries of logic. That’s the point of feelings.
I’ve been trying to write this post since I wrote the last one! Ugh. I took a video of a few places around my home to show you my bird feeders and a bit of my gardening, but then the videos took forever to upload.
Here’s a short video I took of inside my house, just to show you where I spend the majority of my time. I’m a huge homebody, having both clinical depression and general anxiety disorder, and some things that help me from spinning out are doing little things around my house to keep it in order, along with cooking and care-taking.
A Tour of My Home
The plants and the birds are my friends. I look out for them and look after them. I happen to believe all creatures are sentient and aware of what it means to be alive, and my belief extends to the plant world.
I let the main bird feeder in the back patio go empty for half a day, and yesterday morning there were two red-headed finches, a male and female, on the top of one of the front door wreaths, peeking into the living room, as if to say, “Hey, we see you in there. Can you help us out?” My brother thought they might be looking to nest, and that’s a possibility also—though I think it might be rather late in the season for that. I also think my way of looking at it is much more fun.
Thoughts on The World
As you can see, I don’t just sit around and do nothing but complain all the time. I was trying to explain my viewpoint to my daughter, who gets frustrated with me every time it seems I’m passing judgement on a person or expressing distaste for a situation.
I’m a social anarchist. In my ideal world, if I were made President, my first act would be to abolish all laws. I’m far left of Bernie Sanders. I’m left of Ghandi, for cryin’ out loud!
Naturally, I’m also a realist, and recognize that there is both selfishness and stupidity in our populace, along with a healthy dose of insanity, so this wouldn’t work. Therein lies my frustration with this world and the people within it. Any criticisms I spew and subsequent depression or anxiety about this world or life in general stem from this disconnect.
She seemed to kind of get it after I explained it in this way. My most fervent wish for the world is that it could be more cooperative, balanced, and understanding—I include all living things in this testament. But there are simply limits to this at this point in time. Perhaps mankind will end up eating itself at some point. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not.
For example, I’ve spent hours this week redesigning my weekly newsletter (that nobody really reads, because I can see if you opened it, clicked on any of the links, and so on…yes, I am watching you). Why did I do this?
I guess I’m hoping if I did it better, I’d get a better result. Yes, I suppose that’s what I’m hoping. It seems an infernal-waste-of-time kind of hope, but there it is. I’m trying to communicate. I have things to say, and I fervently desire to be heard. I’m still trying to find my audience, and that is not yet, apparently, any of the folks I currently know.
So…yeah. Not much in the way of blog posts or podcasts this week, simply due to the fact that I spent so much time on this one little thing that most likely will net me fuck-all.
If I am to be the light in the darkness, how do I find the light that will shine for me? Am I to conjure it up from nothing?
This part of my “mission statement” confuses me the most. I am fully committed to my credo, and understand fully what it means, and why–but I am not a “sweetness and light” sort of person. i never have been and never will be. I’ve seen the darkness all my life; ever since I was a small child. From all those small days, wearing leg braces in bed, and waking in the middle of the night needing to pee but being unable to walk to the bathroom due to the braces, and whispering in the dark to try and get my brother to help me, only to not be able to rouse him, and struggling instead in trembling fear, on my hands and knees, crawling down the dark and scary hallway, seeing nothing but what I thought were ghosts and demons all around me in the darkness.
Then, finally having done my business on the toilet, having to make the journey back to my bed in the same terrifying darkness, and being unable to fall asleep again due to the fear.
I wore those braces every night of my life from age 2 through 7. The reason I wore them was due to extreme femoral torsion, which made me so pigeon-toed I could hardly walk without constantly tripping over my own feet. Running was an awful mess. Even now, at the tender age of 54, my knees still look like they have taken a beating.
This blog constantly sounds like I’m bitter and unhappy. I’m always griping about one thing or another here. I do struggle with clinical depression and general anxiety disorder, and am taking medications for these, along with medications for my chronic pain conditions from several spinal injuries and an unexpected injury related to my cancer surgery that has me permanently disabled.
But! I’m alive! And I’m happy to be so.Even if it doesn’t always seem that way due to my constant complaining. (LOL, oh, I’m SO random, and like, I just…COMPLAIN, like, for NO reason! LOL OMG)
Okay, I will end this post right here and start a new post in which I will pivot and talk abut all the good things I’m planning and doing so you can see the actual positivity I’ve got going on right now.
We finally meet Whiss v’Aleur, the firebrand philosopher and editor of Neighbor Jumalle’s Complaint, which has caused such a stir among the lower classes in the streets of Shereen. We are also treated to a shocking display of magic from a surprising source—and we see the darker side of magical use. As tensions rise in the capital city, there are both perpetrators and victims as lines are drawn and motives are made clearer.
It feels as though I’ve hit some sort of creative wall this week. Not only creative. There are administrative tasks I need to follow up on as well, and I can’t seem to confront them, either.
For example, (and here I’m getting far more personal than I ever have—yes, even more so than the “depression” post the other day) I have a small student loan debt. Small, yet still I’ve been so incredibly broke I’ve not able to manage it for an embarrassingly long time. And being disabled now and on a fixed income, I’m looking to have it discharged.
Well, I initiated the paperwork for this a couple of months ago. Included in said paperwork is a document you’re supposed to have a doctor fill out, but if you’ve had a judge claim you fully disabled, as I have, and especially if your Social Security Administration review won’t take place again for 5 to 7 years, as in my case, doctoral confirmation is not required. This indicates that youre not expected to recover.
I included a copy of the page in my mailing that indicated this.
A few days ago I received in the mail a brand-new application from Nelnet, the company that handles these things, and to whom I had mailed the information. In their letter they say they received information from the SSA (they didn’t, it was from me) and that I need to complete the enclosed application, which is essentially starting from square one. Bravo. Great way to overwhelm a disabled person with paperwork. I scoffed, of course, and knew immediately that my response would be to just send them a new copy of what I had sent them already, since nothing that they were asking for was actually required by law to get my loans discharged.
I can’t find the page in question. I know I made a copy of it. I’m certain of this. I have a large folder of all the paperwork regarding the Social Security Administration and my dealings with them over the past few years, and now I’m going to have to go through every page, one by one, to see where the single page is. And if I don’t find it, I’m going to have to see if there’s any way I can get a new copy of it.
Oh, I already tried to get one online. Maybe I’ll just skip the searching and call them today. The telephone wait times are hours’-long, but if you indicate you want a call back the seem to be very good about doing so. Perhaps I’ll go straight to that option and skip the headache.
I’ve still been doing a lot of organizing and purging of “the things” and organizing. It’s becoming like a subset of my housekeeping hobby, which I love. I’m the kind of person that loves opening a drawer or cabinet and having not only look all pretty and neat (I think everyone likes that) but also to have it make so much sense that putting things away is quick and easy every time. There’s no true organization system if it breaks the moment you try to clean up, is there?
Did you know there’s a large community on YouTube that consists of housecleaning and home organization videos? I find it very satisfying to watch these people (nearly all women) talk about the products they use, how they decorate and clean, and then to just watch them as they do it. So many times I find myself thinking, “Why are you putting all your appliances away into all those cabinets that are hard to reach when you use them every day?!” There’s this one YouTuber in particular that does this, and it drives me kind of batty. She loves to see her countertops empty, and I must agree her space is amazing to look at when she’s done, but she makes her life so much harder than it has to be.
Then again, she doesn’t have fibromyalgia, so maybe that’s not so much of an issue. It still irks me, though.
I know it better
I think in an earlier post I mentioned that I’ve moved a lot. Maybe that was a comment on someone else’s post somewhere. If I did, I’ll link to it. In any case, I’ve moved roughly 50 times in my life. I should count them to see how close I am to that number. I’m probably rounding up a little. It might be closer to the mid-40’s. But that’s not the point. I’m rambling. I don’t have anyone to talk to, so you guys are it.
Anyway, when I come into a new space, the first thing I do is start to open cabinets and cupboards and things and imagine what I expect to find there. Then that’s where I put those things. Easy peasy. I let the space decide for me. Keeps it nice and simple as far as I’m concerned. I have seen some people who try to conform a place to their preconceived ideas of how they like to use a space, and it never works. I’ve done a lot of reorganization projects for people on TaskRabbit who have tried to do this, and I reeducate them when I design the new system for them, and explain what I’m doing and why. They’re always thrilled with the result, even if they’re hesitant or even suspicious of how well it will work when I start. I don’t take them tasks any more, being retired/disabled now. There’s always too much heavy lifting at some point, far reaching, and almost always heavy-duty cleaning that I can’t handle.
So what have I really been doing?
I’ve been going through my YouTube videos and creating custom thumbnails for them using Canva. I can’t spend a lot of time doing this, which is why I’m just using an online tool, but I still find it a bit too much like my old design job, which caused me long-term and somehow traumatic injury. But I’m mostly having fun doing them. I think I’m mostly making them nice. Of course, the biggest challenge is the fact that in all the videos so far I didn’t plan to do custom thumbnails, so I didn’t pose for them at the end of recording. I have to scrub through the videos to try and find a moment that my face looks halfway normal and take a screen grab of that (and of course all of my videos are low res AF.)
But then I can tell myself that I’m at least doing something.
Okay, I’m not being entirely fair to myself. I did do my first Tarot Tuesday over the past week, and I’m planning to do one tomorrow. I originally was going to make tomorrow’s a live recording, but I’m not sure that makes sense…I think it was more along the lines of trying to see what the Live Recording tool in YouTube was all about more than anything else. I get curious and like to experiment a lot, even when there’s no real benefit to me or anyone. I’m far from being a Luddite!
What I really need to o is start writing music again. I’m feeling very lost as a musician these days, but I know there’s more of it within me, and all I need to do is start playing with my tools, such as they are, to get things spinning again. This is what I’ve really been putting off. In the meantime, you can check out my current release, “i am me/am i not?” over at iTunes.
My latest EP, The Story of Swallow, will be released very soon through CD Baby. I think. There are just a few technical details I need to get handled first. I might have to go a different route, but we shall see. They don’t seem to have any tech support at the moment.
Oh! And I have to sell my scooter. I love that thing, but it no longer runs and I cant find a mechanic locally who can work on it, which is really weird. And trying to repair it myself is beyond my abilities.
Where Dref Zeenoson’s flight from the Derrivale Estate is curiously questioned, then accepted, while Eliste must find another ladies’ maid and finish preparing, and then travel in excitement to her new post in the wondrous city of Sherreen.
Wherein Dref Zeenoson tries to intercede on behalf of Zhen Suboson to the Marquis vo Derrivale to belay Zhen’s punishment for reading forbidden and inflammatory pamphlets, and ends up being punished himself.
In Chapter One, we meet Eliste vo Derrivale, the daughter of the Marquise vo Derrivale, and member of the Exalted of Vohnar, as she prepares for her upcoming ascension as ladies maid to The Queen next week.
Join me as I lay out a Celtic Cross for us all to see what the upcoming week might hold. This is the first of what will be a regular feature on my YouTube Channel, so you’ll want to subscribe to keep abreast of my readings over there. Next week, I plan to do it live, and you won’t want to miss that one! I’ll also work in subscriber questions in the future.
Hope you’re all staying safe and well! Bright blessings and much love to you all!
How are you holding up these days? It’s Day #[mumble] for us of our Seltzer-In-Place (it’s a bit over a month, and yes, I can look it up, but for some reason it’s taking me all day to upload this video.)
Come hang out with me for a bit while I sip some morning tea and chat about the shelter-in-place, how I got my name, what the deal with my bathrobe is, and a few other things.
BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.
I came across a blog post that discussed an interesting, modern take on the Book of Revelations, and more specifically, whether American Evangelicals could spot the AntiChrist. I found the information very intriguing, so please check out his article.
Could American Evangelicals Spot the Antichrist? Here Are the Biblical Predictions by Benjamin L. Corey
Does the Bible predict the future with stunning accuracy as so many in the end-times camp have claimed?
I grew up in the rapture-me-outta-here end times movement, and have spilled no shortage of ink critiquing it– even poking a bit of fun at it. As a theologian I fall into a category of belief that sees biblical prophecies about “the end” as being events that have mostly been fulfilled in the past, but I try to hold that belief gently and recognize I could be wrong.
Many Christians in America have warned me over the years of exactly that, often telling me: “I feel sorry for you, because when the Antichrist comes you’re not even going to recognize him!”
To honor those who have given me such warning, I decided to spend the past week studying the most significant biblical prophecies and descriptions typically believed by my conservative friends to refer the Antichrist. If my evangelical friends are correct, and if it’s entirely possible that the Antichrist is on the global scene today, I certainly wouldn’t want to be the only person in the room who didn’t recognize the Antichrist when I saw him.(Read more)
I’m excited to bring you a new video version of this, as I get closer to the release of my upcoming EP, “The Story of Swallow”. It’s taken me years to release this material, and I’ve felt stagnant as an artist all this time, so getting the album out is cathartic for me.
“Reconfiguration” was one of the first songs I wrote for the album, and it centered around the medieval flute sample used in the hook. The rest of the track grew from there.
The lyrics sing about the changes you have to make within yourself to get past an issue or blockage so you can move forward in your life. We all have internal boundaries of one kind or another, and not all of them are helpful to our personal growth. Sometimes, we outgrow the ones we used to need, and we must reconfigure (our thinking or our feeling) to move past them.
Other times, they involve attachments to other people or places that we can’t seem to let go of, no matter how hard we think we are trying to.
All of this is contained within this song. I hope you feel as hopeful about it as I do. Repeat after me: Be the light in the darkness!
My mind has been aswirl with various thoughts this week as we’ve been in lockdown for a month now. At least here in Silicon Valley, we can still go for a walk outside. Many places don’t even allow that. Here, they’ve recently added that when you do go out, you must wear a face mask at all times. We no longer know who might be carrying the virus and spreading it to others. And of course, we have large masses of people in Michigan protesting staying inside altogether, which was such a shocker—really, Michigan?!WTF?!
But back to my post. Living in California, I was hearing about how we have food rotting in the fields due to not having workers out there to pick the food. That’s going to trickle-down pretty soon into empty produce aisles at your local supermarket. We also are having shortages in the trucking and shipping industries, which will create shortages of other kinds at stores. This is all so wrong, but it will highlight the main point of this post:
The way we “do food” in America is a holdover from WWII. Our factories retooled, and what we have now is making our population fat and unhealthy. If you look at the statistics, you see the trend start in the late fifties and increase through to the eighties when women began to leave the home and go to work outside the home, requiring more and more convenience foods that are easy to ship, easy to store, and easy to cook. It’s this last that has made Americans some of the unhealthiest people in the world. Couple that with the long commute times due to the housing crisis, and increased pollution due to factory waste, distribution networks, and commuting, and you get a picture of a very damaged America.
There were also corporate conglomerations that took place during this same period that made the billionaire class possible, and purchased the Congress we have now. (They own foods and pharmaceuticals, advertising, news and entertainment. Literally, every aspect of American life.) If I were better at statistical analysis and making graphs, that info would be posted right here –> and you’d see what I see, which is a clear picture of America being this well-oiled business machine, designed to consume and to be consumed by its machines of commerce. We no longer park our cars in our garages, because our garages are filled with “stuff”, and we need storage units to store more of our “stuff”, and shopping is our biggest hobby, and every town and city looks the same, due to all the strip malls with all the same stores.
It’s my hope that through the disruption in our food supply chain we will see the need for our food to be grown sustainably, and that means locally: no more washing of eggs; no more pasteurized milk; no more high-density feedlots. No more corn subsidies. Large agribusiness no longer exists in this country, so we cease the environmentally damaging practices that harm our waterways, groundwater, and air. Food supply is handled at the state and county levels, and it’s assured at those levels commensurate with the population. Which leads me to the housing crisis.
My dudes, we need to fix this. And I don’t know how. Well, perhaps I know how, but I don’t often get much agreement from my local fellows.
There is so much noise out there on this topic, but there seems to be no political will, at least not in Silicon Valley. Here, the actual homeowners keep voting down solutions, worried about their own home values going down. It’s cold, it’s heartless, and it’s cruel. The homeless people aren’t allowed to vote, because they have no address. So they have no say in a matter that affects them so deeply. There needs to be some way that they can be associated with an address, like a soup kitchen, or the County Social Services Agency or something so they can be allowed to vote and be heard.
We also need more affordable housing in general. I’m permanently disabled now, due to my cancer surgery causing an injury that can’t be reversed. It’s called Ani Levator Syndrome. It’s unpleasant. I get a fixed amount each month, and I’m on Medicare. My Medicare premium is taken out of my disability payment before it’s deposited in my bank. In addition to that, I have co-pays and a deductible, of which I wasn’t aware—all of the info I was given literally made it sound like everything was covered except dental. (I desperately need to see a dentist soon. I have at least one tooth that’s getting dangerously close to needing a root canal, and I want to avoid that. I think I have three teeth that require drilling and filling, if not four. It’s been years since I’ve been to the dentist, because it’s so hard on my neck and jaw. I get migraines easily, and lying back in that chair for any length of time is going to be excruciating.)
Plus, since I have no coverage, I’ll be paying cash, and I have no money. I can barely cover my rent now with my disability payment. If I want dental coverage, that would be an additional monthly premium, and additional deductibles and co-pays. On a fixed income. In an area where I can already barely cover my rent.
Now, I’ve always been a bit Bohemian and minimalist, not much of one for collecting “stuff”. I do purges and reorganize my things on a regular basis when I’m feeling like I’m being smothered with too many things. I like order and tidiness. I like my closets and drawers and cabinets to make sense. Not having too many things has also been great because I’ve had to move over and over again. I’ve fully moved around 50 times in my life. I’ve never lived alone, as I’ve never been able to afford an apartment on my own. I have always had roommates in a house or an apartment.
I’ve also had chronic pain most of my life, and my career path has suffered. I’ve lost a lot of jobs due to taking too many sick days. It’s bothered me that my pain wasn’t taken seriously and that I had no legal protections to help me keep these jobs. My reputation also suffered, as I was painted as simply unreliable, and possibly a substance abuser, as opposed to a person who was genuinely ill and struggling.
Okay, I’ve made this all about me again, and that wasn’t my intent—my point was to illustrate how much empathy I have for the homeless, as I’ve been very close to their position many times. I lived in my car for a couple of weeks many years ago. I had a full-time job and a bit of money in the bank. It took me a while to find a place to live that I could afford–and this was in 1986. I was making above minimum wage, working full time in Berkeley, and I to had to move to Palmisia in Hayward which still had gang violence. The commute for me each morning and evening was bumper-to-bumper traffic each way. I rented a bedroom out of a house because that’s all I could afford. In 1986.
Affordable housing in the Bay Area is not a new problem!
The ugly truth is that not enough people care about the lives of the people living on the streets to actually do something for them. They’re seen as misfits to society, drug abusers, users, liars, and thieves. If they are, it’s a reaction to society and the way they’ve been treated. There’s probably a small percentage of them that are incorrigible, but the majority of them are just trying to get by and live as pleasantly as they can. I’ve heard statements such as, “I wish they would go away”, and, “We should give them a bus ticket to someplace else”. Cruel, harsh statements, that take away both the humanity and the agency of the homeless.
We are a society. We are one people. The homeless are a part of this society, and in fact, are a direct result of the way that our society currently functions. It’s our issue to solve, like it or not. Whether it’s through an income tax, a sales tax, a property tax (I like this one), or a combination of all of them, we need to house all of the people in our society. Housing is a basic human right, and leaving these people to suffer is a crime against humanity.
There are several chapters missing here, as the files became corrupted somehow.
The family moves in to their newly-built log cabin on the prairie before there’s even a proper roof. Pa feels more strongly than ever that he’ll always want to live on this land. Pa decides the Big Woods have become too crowded, and moves the family to the High Prairie of Kansas.
This is one of the later chapters, as the earlier sound clips have been lost. With positive feedback, I’ll consider re-recording them, so you can enjoy the whole book.
The family encounters a surprise when crossing the creek. This book was the basis for the popular television show by the same name. There are themes in the book that describe attitudes that would be considered backward and racist today. It is not the intention to either highlight or censor these, but to let them stand as they are in the book, as a record of historical interest.
Just a short update on what’s been going on, along with my plans for this Channel. I really hope to start things back up again, this time with more regular content. Let know what you might be interested in seeing,
TRIGGER WARNING. I TALK ABOUT DEPRESSION AND SUICIDAL THOUGHTS. IF YOU STRUGGLE WITH THESE, PLEASE GET PROFESSIONAL HELP.
I’m not an expert on the resources available, but I feel it would be irresponsibe for me to discuss this topic without also leaving some kind of link, and this one I’ve heard great things about: National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can call them at 800-273-TALK (8255)
The quarantine has had the effect on me of underscoring just how alone I am in the world. I have no connections. Nobody to video chat with. Nobody to check in on or visa versa. My roommates do. But not me.
Sooooooo, I must confess, I struggle with depression. Like, baaad. Like, suicidally bad.
I go to this place where I feel trapped in a world that’s only interested in flimsy, unimportant things, such as gossip and shopping, wealth and sex–and it leaves me cold. Or, people can only talk about casual things, and I don’t know how to have these conversations. I have trouble making meaningful connections with people. I feel like, I’m “a lot” to “deal with”. As if people have to gather themselves together in order to check in on me with a text or a call. I end up feeling unauthentic and shallow, disconnected and lonely.
Then I’m in a place where not only can I not connect, but I am some kind of burden to society, a freak of nature, a huge misfit, unable to be my true self with anyone, anywhere.
It’s at this point where I start to actually “plan”, if you could even call it that. I imagine distancing myself from everyone I know, going far away, being remote–nobody will check in on me for several weeks or months anyway, so it will be easier then.
That’s as far as I ever manage to get. But it does something to me. I can’t say I ever “come back” from these…episodes? I’ve had years of therapy, and it didn’t really help. It sort of helped. It felt like I was paying someone to listen to my problems, since I have no friends. That’s what therapy was for me. It felt lame.
Oh, I have attempted. Twice. The first time, I was 15, and I took a bunch of my mom’s Valium. It probably wouldn’t have killed me, which is actually worse. I got medical attention, was administered ipecac, barfed my guts out, and drank a lot of warm water to flush my system.
The second time, I was 23, and I was serious about it. I won’t go into extreme detail, except to say I took an entire bottle of OTC sleeping pills, which would have done the job. I planned to just slip away in sleepy peacefulness, but for a telephone call I made to a couple of family members to hear their voices one more time. I got the answering machine and left a message.
Here’s where shit got serious: my brother called me back. The phone was right next to my head. Not on a table. On the floor. I slept on a mattress on the floor, and the phone was literally next to my head. The phone rang 5 or 6 times, the answering machine picked up, my brother left a message, and he hung up–and the entire time I was trying to pick up the phone. I was unable to control my body. This scared me shitless. I managed to dial back the number, but by that time, he had already left the house again and I got the machine. In a panic, I just said over and over, “Pick up the phone! Pick up the phone!”
Nope. Too late. I knew I was going to die for realsies and I realized I for realsies didn’t want to die. Not yet, and not in this way.
I went to the ER, where I most willingly drank the ipecac, and gulped down all the water they gave me. When I finally did throw up (they kept asking me what I had taken and how much, and they were skeptical when I told them I took “32 pills”. I knew this, because that’s how many pills the bottle held) a giant ball of stuck-together pills came out with a giant CLANG into the metal dish they had for me. This was, for me, proof positive that I was accurate and not exaggerating. I remember giving the attending nurse a look that said, “See?! I TOLD YOU.”
This experience was truly terrifying for me, and there need not be much concern for me actually doing this awful action of killing myself in the future. But the depression still gets to me and I can’t seem to find a way to escape that particular beast.
Here’s the part where I tell you what I really think of the world and I reveal my belief of reality: we are trapped in a simulation. A game. It’s only partly what you make of it, so some people do get to have a grand old time. But there are people whose paths and life events are already chosen in some way. There are certain tasks one needs to perform, or challenges a person has to face to get to the next level.
I’m stuck on this level, and I can’t seem to figure out what the fuck I’m supposed to do. It’s driving me nuts. I need to be more thoughtful about this kind of language: I don’t like that I can’t seem to figure out how to solve this level.
Sadly, this belief has ruined certain things for me, like video games and cosplay, because I’m already fucking doing that. I have this shitty, sickly, avatar, that’s tiny (but kind of cute), with multiple spinal injuries sustained early in life, so I’ve spent nearly my entire time on this mudball in serious fucking pain, and I can’t figure out how to make the world better, because I think(?) that’s my mission, but nobody gives a shit about what I have to say, because I’m too serious, and therefore boring as fuck, and my intensity is apparently too much for most folks.
I can’t help but think that if I were male and/or tall, these traits would be seen as charismatic. They’d be gifts.
But no. I’m just here, looking for the right NPC, or a talking raccoon to follow into the woods for a clue, or something that will help me have that “aha!” moment so I can figure this shit out and get past whatever it is that seems to be blocking me. Right now, I can’t even see it. I can only feel it.
The family has traveled far and long and Pa finally selects the perfect place to settle. They make camp one last time before building a house. There are themes in the book that describe attitudes that would be considered backward and racist today. It is not the intention to either highlight or censor these, but to let them stand as they are in the book, as a record of historical interest.
One of my most recent songs, written in early summer of 2009 (songwriting isn’t a quick process for me) while I was recording “i am me/am i not?”. This track didn’t make it on the album and I’ve wanted to share it with you for some time. I plan to include it on my next release, but in a fuller version. For now, here it is stripped-down for you.
The words are meant to evoke a post-apocalyptic scene to describe loss, heartache and abandonment.
This song is “Unnamed”. It’s very raw and emotional. I wrote it in 1993. I have yet to get a great studio version of it, but I’m planning on putting it on a future album. Possibly on “The Story of Swallow”–not sure. “Swallow” is taking an interesting direction at the moment. I apologize for the sound quality on this video, I’ve been unable to get my Snowball to sync the sound with my webcam properly, so I’m just using the webcam mic. I hope you enjoy this sharing experience, which is deeply personal for me. Subsequently, there’s a bit of clipping that I hope you’ll forgive.
Made this one via YouTube Capture. I got really comfortable recording these in my car (my “confession booth”), and I was using an app on my phone to record and upload these, but there wasn’t a great interface at the tie to give much of a description–I’m trying to add that info now, but it’s not the best.
You may have noticed by now that I use this as my tagline, and I’ve done so for a number of years. However, so far none of my posts reflect anything (ha! a pun!) that might be described as such an attitude. This bears explaining, or at least addressing, and it might take me more than one post to do so, because this was a process for me.
First things first
I’m a singer/songwriter, and back in the 2010’s I was working on some ideas for a new solo project. I don’t enjoy performing. I have terrible stage fright. It’s so bad I have something that I call “applause deafness”, but I’m sure there’s some kind of medical title for it. Basically, I can’t tell if an audience is is wildly excited about what I’ve just done, or if a handful of people are idly patting their hands together.
In order to help me, I was creating an on-stage identity, and as part of the whole show, each person who entered the venue would get a little flashlight, and there would be a concert narrative, wherein they’d be instructed to at some point respond to me by lighting, and then holding up their little flashlights, then calling out, “Be the light in the darkness!”
So it was a whole…thing
I’ve held fast to this notion that we need to create more beauty in the world, and that beauty is the only thing that really matters. I used to have a different tagline that reflected this sentiment though I can’t recall the wording exactly. I even have an entire philosophy surrounding the idea that I call Aesthetic Radicalism. I went into it in some detail on my former website, back in the late 2000’s-early 2010’s.
But then there’s life, right?
The fact of the matter is, nobody can maintain “sweetness and light” indefinitely. Humans aren’t wired that way. As my body has degraded, my emotion-work, my Shadow Work, has become more intensified—indeed, perhaps because of these things has my physical deterioration been so intense and rapid over the past decade. I’m not in a place at the moment where I can or want to pretend life isn’t as messy as it is. I speak truth to power as much as possible. I take care of my plant friends. I’m not so good when it comes to nurturing my human friends. I miss having an animal friend.
Which is to say, you’ll be getting me as I come, warts and all.
It’s harvest time, and there’s lots to do. But one child decides it’s more fun to play than work, and finds a heap of trouble for doing so. This is one of the later chapters, as the earlier sound clips have been lost. With positive feedback, I’ll consider re-recording them, so you can enjoy the whole book.
This is one of the later chapters, as the earlier sound clips have been lost. With positive feedback, I’ll consider re-recording them, so you can enjoy the whole book.
This is purely where I’m going to vent my spleen here, so if you’re against such things I suggest you look away now. Like, right now.
I managed to get 2 of my 7 daily Rxs filled. Some of them I don’t quite need yet, as I was getting them all filled on a regular basis, but not always taking them when I was hospitalized over all those many months. So, thankfully, I have a few of the most expensive ones on hand still. But I was still surprised by a $25 total when I’m not supposed to be paying more than $1.30-$3.00 per Rx on the plan I’ve been put on. I used the suggested pharmacy by said plan (and no, they won’t be getting any free advertising from me here). I didn’t argue at the time, as I was already suuuuuper aggravated from struggling with getting various technological aspects of my new online world to play nicely with each other. I can’t spend a lot of time doing this without my body going into a sort of personal lockdown, with either, 1) painful migraines, and/or 2) painful rectal cramping. Hooray!
I wasn’t a happy camper when I had to head over to said pharmacy and was just in a lot of pain, so I grabbed what I needed and headed back home to get a cozy as I could. Luckily, it’s raining today (a strange thing for the SF Bay Area in April, though not unheard of).
Here’re the specifics of what’s paining me tech-wise:
I am using WordPress.com to host this blog (obvi)
I am using YouTube to host video content
I am using IFTTT to have YouTube automatically post new videos to WordPress
I am using Anchor.fm to record a bedtime story podcast (I used to use a different tool)
I use Feedburner to distribute my podcast to iTunes
I am using MailChimp to create and manage a mailing list, with a signup form here on this site (hopefully you’ve already signed up?)
Here’re the issues I’m running into:
Anchor.fm keeps telling me that my feed hasn’t been correctly redistributed, even though Anchor.fm and iTunes both show all of my episodes, as does Feedburner
IFTTT recipes have not been posting at all, or if they do, the content has been incomplete, requiring me to create a duplicate, scheduled post in WordPress
MailChimp’s tools have been tricky to manage, and they don’t explain the fact that when you indicate you want to create an automated email, you still have to add RSS merge tag fields to your template. Now, why would that be? Surely, if your aim is to create an automated campaign, the templates available should have some kind of pre-populated information and you just jump in and edit them, yes?
But, oh no. No.
So I’m going to sit back and have a glass of wine now. Fuck this noise.
Around late 2011, I felt that this song was a bit incomplete, so I wrote an intro verse. I’m no longer sure I like it, but here it is for you to ponder and/or enjoy. Or not. No obligations.
I’m still incredibly frustrated with myself as a musician. It’s a passion for me, but I feel that I lack something essential in order to really reach people. In order to consistently touch them with my music. It doesn’t help that I was raised in a family of musicians who were fabulous at their chosen instruments, so I felt compelled to go in an entirely different direction and learn how to paint instead. I’m a highly trained visual artist. I can render nearly any image in pencil, pen, charcoal, comté crayon, pastel, oil pastel, watercolor, colored pencil, or some combination of those listed. It took me a long time to realize that visual art is 10% learning the technique of the tool, and 90% learning how to see. Oh, and of course I’ve played with software and can use Illustrator and Photoshop skillfully.
So what does all of that have to do with this video? Good question! I have no idea.
Except perhaps to say that I really try to hone and refine what little skill I have in songwriting, as it’s what lights a fire in my being. I’m hoping to soon rekindle this light within me by re-posting all these old songs and such and to get back to making music again.
As always, let me know what you think. Do you get inspired by music? Do you have a favorite artist?
It’s nearing the end of summer 2011, and I still hadn’t finished my EP due to my chronic pain condition. All I had managed to do was color my hair to try and move away from the black dye I’d put on it a few years prior. For those of you aware of hair color, you know that’s pretty much impossible.
Do you ever set interim goals throughout the year? Do you prefer to set New Year’s resolutions? Let me know what you think.
I went through a long period of time without singing. At all. Quite a few years, actually. Then a couple of my friends asked me to sing at their wedding, and I couldn’t imagine singing effectively unaccompanied, and I’m not a good enough guitarist to learn a piece written by someone else, so I felt obliged (and honored, of course) to write a piece for them.
This is not that piece.
This song was written a couple of days after the wedding, when I was made to confront my feelings of deep isolation and general strangeness. At the same time, I had also recently discovered that I had some kind of sense of connection to the story of Emily Dickinson. I had recently seen an interesting work performed by a supposed “expert” on Dickinson, and while the piece was certainly powerful, as I watched I kept feeling as though I was “off” or “wrong”, and I couldn’t understand why that would be, since at the time I knew nothing of the author except a fraction of one of her most famous poems.
I’m not a fan of poetry. I like lyrics.
So, anyway, I ended up researching Dickinson after I saw the work, and her story clung to me and somehow infused this song also.
I’d like to definitively state that this song is not about her. I’m not sure whom the song is about. Possibly me? Probably me.