You are viewing sluice

superfluous

in the face of necessity

8/25/14 08:34 pm

Nobody told me anything useful
Growing up
All the lessons
Just all
Were useless
Made me feel
Useless
I hear music
Read poetry
People say "my momma told me this"  "my daddy told me that"
Nope.
Nobody told me anything useful
So I told myself

I told myself it would pass
I told myself I had been through it all,
Already been through it
Oh well, oh well
I read books, I read the house down
Devoured and became a demon of knowledge
Still as a statue on the outside against vengeful attacks
But inside I laughed spitefully, burned
They weren't telling me anything useful
I had no use for them

The thing that got to me
Was how petty it all was
All of that
To teach me to sit pretty and act right
White.
In the white world.
In the men's world.
All of that nonsense.
It got to me.  It made me sick for years, and I still battle with it.
Because you can't shrug that petty shit off,
The evil.  It is evil and must be respected as such.
All I have now, is to cultivate myself.
Nobody told me anything useful until I started finding the people who did.

And I must pull it out by its stinking head.
It was planted thoroughly in me.

I grew up knowing the world needed me.
I grew up knowing the world had big problems.
And they told me I was wrong and there was nothing wrong,
And I should shut up, or at best they didn't know.
Nope.
Useless to me.  That is useless to me.

And now I know, I must weed it out of myself.
I must find my racism.  I must find my sexism.  And all the domino effects and isms that cluster around them.
Classism.  Ableism.  Ageism.
I must remind myself that the most powerful thing I can do is hold a mirror.
Which is one thing they never wanted me to do.  Only reflect for them what they told me to reflect.  Or be an abyss.
Hold a mirror, a mirror is useful.
To recognize where I am racist.
Sexist.
Classist.
Ableist.
Ageist.
And find the scared, rule-abiding little girl behind it and take her up swiftly and never ever let her go.
That is useful.

The other stuff,
They never told me anything useful,
That's all garbage.

8/18/14 07:46 pm - On Anxiety and The Other Side

“Insanity is the only sane reaction to an insane society.”
Thomas Szas

I don't know if I really support everything that this man said about mental illness (or the lack of it as being proven scientifically), but I've been thinking a lot about this quote lately.

The longer I live with my own cycles of depression and anxiety, the more I feel, with certainty, that these are not illnesses in the sense that they could or should be cured.  I can't speak for everyone, and I will not.  But for me, my reactions in the form of anger, anxiety, depression, and sexual diversion have been in reaction to situations which merit exactly those things.  I think where I see it as a sickness is when it comes out without my understanding of what it is directed at.  That, and obviously the uncontrollable nature of it- which is itself mental illness if anything ever is.  The act of trying to control your own strong emotions instead of nurturing the fear they come out of and heal- that is sickness.  It is also widely condoned in our world as either preferable or the only course of action.

I often stop in my steady stream of unraveling in order to thank myself, whatever god/dess/universal bla there might be, or just feel good that I have the facilities to see the strings.  I see where all the strings attach and I know that what I've been told up till this point in life, if it feels wrong, is wrong.  I have had it proven to me enough to be able to trust myself (oh this is the mercy) when I have that feeling, instead of fighting it in favor of some disembodied voice telling me this is how it always was, and I should be more under control, and bla bla bla.

Anyway, I just see how broken and burning the world is, and how many, many, many people simply choose to live as if it is not.  This is a perception, I have no way of knowing what goes on in their innermost minds.  But when you pass the space of a few days with people who act like the world is just fine and only they and their family matters, even if it isn't the intent and that's not how they feel, you think that's how it is, that's how they feel.  I won't go into it more than that.

It is exhausting.

I will still refer to my anxiety and depression as being ill, because I have to take sick days sometimes and people don't understand "I'm fucked up today, I just can't function because I'm too fucking woke", so it's easier to say "oh I'm sick".  Until such a time as I'm not afraid to say it like it is, until such a time as I am able to build a world that doesn't respond violently to a statement like the former, saying "I'm sick" is easier...it's also true because my symptoms manifest themselves physically.

I will say, having children has been so fucking awesome in learning how to deal with my own issues.  I refuse to believe that children ever deserve punishment.  I refuse to believe that children should ever be treated harshly, and if I feel angry it's because I don't understand.  So my response is always to slow the fuck down, talk it out, take all the time that is needed, and make sure they know that they are loved and important and that I take their issues seriously.  It's taught me to treat myself in the same way.

The most important thing is slowing the fuck down.  That is the fucking key.

And in all of this, I can see how even what seems like the smallest slight to an adult, a kid can throw their whole. entire. fucking. world. out of sync.  Imagine living in our world, all the time, like that.  That's reality.  It's getting to the bottom of how sensitive I am, and how that's totally fucking ok.  That feeling anxious and depressed is exactly the fucking right response to all of it.

Children man.  They are the shit.

8/11/14 11:26 am - On Existing

Growing up, I learned about existence in terms of status quo.  I learned that there was a common denominator that everyone learned the skills to aspire to in order to maintain order and cooperate with each other in the world.  That set of skills was called normalcy.

I learned that in order to be normal, I could not be difficult, or uncomfortable, or challenging, or obnoxious.  My feelings had to be subdued, I had to care very little for my own desires and needs in order to perhaps get what I wanted or needed.  So I learned.  I learned to manifest a three-point trifecta: a pleasing or otherwise unbothered affect, a pleasing or otherwise unbothered physicality, and a pleasing or otherwise unbothered articulation.  As long as I could maintain these three, I could survive.  If I let any of these slip in the slightest, I was attacked from every angle and chaos would ensue.

Basically in order to be normal, I learned that I had to exist for other people.

And as I got older, I understood that it was not enough to simply exist for others.  I had to exist for others correctly.  I could not let on that I was existing for others, it could not be obvious.  That would break the facade, and would make things too real- it would point to the truth.  And the truth could never be revealed.  

It wasn't just that I had to be these things- I knew that everyone had to be these things.  I trusted that the people around me were doing it right and that I was simply too young, too little, "just a kid", and I couldn't be expected to learn the great skill it took to be "normal".  I was basically small, stupid, and impossible.

So I learned as quickly as I could.  Every time someone laughed at me, or scorned me, or made me feel insignificant, my skills became more sophisticated.  I learned to excuse my abusers.  I learned to store my real feelings in a box, either deep inside of myself or if I could, outside of myself somehow.  This became how I remembered a lot of my childhood- as if it happened to someone else.  I was thorough, I was meticulous, I was swift.  I was very good at it; it wasn't long before people began to remark on how well-adjusted I was.  I remember specifically the word "adapting" or "adaptable" being slung around to compliment me.  I knew that this was the ultimate feather in my cap, but when that compliment fell on me it fell hollowly, it fell emptily, like a pin falling on a glass table.  I began to feel enraged with it without understanding why.  That rage followed me throughout my life.  Every time someone tells me how brave, fearless, or inspirational I am, I feel that same rage.  I feel rage because of what I have lost in order to appear this way.  I feel rage because really my journey is so much more complex than that- I know that I worked to appear this way, knowing that the only thing that would make me worthy of existence would be to exist for other people.  To never be bothersome, make others uncomfortable, act out the abuse that was enacted on me.  I was a good little submissive victim.  So brave.  So inspirational.  So strong.  So fearless.  So well-adapted.  Well-adapted to the bullshit cycles being acted out.  To the abuse.  Whatever anyone wanted to do to me, they could do, to make themselves feel more powerful and to make me feel like nothing.  I existed for them.

I started really to wake up in my teens.  I started to identify my rage.  I started to understand that if I was adapting so well to this, there was no hope for me.  So I began acting out.  And for about 5 years, things got really, really dark.  And then for about 10 years after that, things were wild and red and hard and I was the bad guy multiple times.  And every time someone told me I was brave, I felt sick.  I embraced wickedness.  I did things wrong, I cried for days, I was impossible, I deliberately decided to misunderstand things, I made people uncomfortable.  I alienated almost everyone I knew, if I could.  I felt small.  And weak.  And wrong.  For a long, long time.

And it took me that long, just letting the pus run from my open wounds, feeling embarrassed and awkward and punishing myself for being so wicked even as I knew it was exactly what needed to happen, it took me till now at almost 30, to start to get in touch with myself and to remember my life as it happened to me, as my own memories.  To retrieve myself.

I sit here sobbing openly, and I allow myself to miss me.  I miss my life.  I missed so much of it, putting it away until I was safe to feel.  I put myself away until I was safe to come out.  And the bits and shards of me that are stuck, sing to me from my past.

"Come back.

Come, feel this.

It's ok."

My stomach hurts.  I feel physically ill, I am dizzy, disoriented.  I'm not used to feeling my feelings, I'm not used to being me, I'm not used to inhabiting my entire world.  For fucking once, I'm here and I'm present.

It is so good.

7/29/14 04:16 pm - On Order

What do we lose by sticking inside the lines of what dominant knowledge calls civil society?

I remember what it was like to be a child.  Those experiences are not as valid as the ones I have now, which I am able to articulate and prove, break down and negotiate into understandable and bite-sized pieces.

I do not want to be bite-sized all the time.  Sometimes, that's fine.  But we think that the way we exist is naturally how things just work out.  And this isn't the case.

I remember so much magic, I have lost touch with it.  It is not just childhood innocence.  It is not just ability to dream.  It's magic, and I have lost it.

It's not just childhood, it's indigenous peoples of the world.  It's people who are lower on the hierarchy.  They are wilder somehow, more prone to chaos.  First of all, according to whom?  And secondly, it's telling that we have a system which subjugates that which we see as wild, larger than life, untamed, unbridled.  That which does not vocalize in order to serve.  That which is truly independent.  Our system is death; don't be this, can't be that.  Prove that it exists and it will be believed.  But life is alive.  No matter how we compartmentalize in order to dominate.  No matter how much the system courts death.  The only death the system will truly achieve is its own.  The universe is accommodating. 

7/27/14 10:47 pm - On Figuring It Out

So look.  Though.

You're not going to finally, at the end of all the reading, at the end of all the watching, listening, taking in, reevaluating, all of that, you're not going to be able to deconstruct it.  You're not.

PS there is no end.  That's part of it.  It's a cyclical, multi-faceted regime.  It's a huge organic machine.  There is no end.  There is no undoing, there is no piercing.  There is no getting outside of it.

You're not going to figure it out.  That's the whole point of it...it keeps you confused, scrambling, trying to make sense of it.  It makes you want to sit down and think, clear your head, but makes you feel like you can't, because there's just this one other thing you don't know about what's right and what's wrong.  And as long as you think that way, as long as you think that at some point you will know enough to join the fray, you will never join.  You will always be fractured.  You will always be apart.  It's called being in shock.

You have to be in a place where you make space for your own peace.  Name your boundaries.  Keep cultivating, keep reading, keep making brave choices.  Join in.  Because it's right, because it's fulfilling.  But don't think that because you don't have the final answers on it all, that you can't participate.  We're humans.  We're messy.  It's not ok.  But you can have peace.

7/18/14 11:55 am - Do Not

Do Not think that because life is getting better for you, it is getting better for the world.  You are a cisgendered straight-passing white American woman in the midwest (not to mention being completely able-bodied, relatively young and normatively attractive and feminine-presenting), with a well-off white American straight-passing boyfriend who pays most of the bills.

This is the trap.  This is where the strings are, see them.  Just because your house is nice, your kids are affluent and well-educated, your family can support each other, and your world is relatively comfortable, that does not mean the world is at peace.  Do not believe the lie.  You drive your car everywhere.  You still cannot articulate the forest for the trees.  You throw most of your waste away.  Where does it go?  Do not think that because you take less showers, don't dye your hair, and compost as much as possible that that is enough.  You have to read.  You have to seek out other perspectives- the system will not bring them to you.  You have to keep screaming up the faucet, even if it seems futile.  That's the system too.  It tells people like you that you're beautiful, that you're right, that the world is just fine.  That there is nothing to fight against.  Don't forget that you still don't have full reproductive autonomy, that you don't make as much on the dollar as a white man, that whenever you take a walk outside of your comfortable suburban neighborhood you are catcalled, harassed, and honked at by anyone who pleases.  Don't forget that you feel that wearing shorts with your hairy legs is a dangerous act, because you feel unsafe veering off of the path of societal norms.  Don't forget the slight and polite insults that land every time a man tries to take something heavy out of your hands.  Don't forget that your grandparents laughed in your face when you came out to them.  Don't forget that little girls are still taught to be pretty and little boys are taught to be strong.  Think about why that is damaging.  And taking that into consideration, do not think for a second that these challenges make it ok for you to talk over people who are more underserved, more invisible, and more in peril than you are.  Listen.  Listen hard.  Respect them, they are the key.  The system will tell you that there is no other way, and those who are being killed by it will tell you why that is wrong.  You may feel like they're trying to hurt you, that's the system too.  Admit when you're wrong and do better.  There are so many roots.  There are so many weeds.

It's a strong wind that blows you into the machine.  But you can resist.  Don't believe a word.  It can be so much better, it can be so much fairer, there is no excuse not to try and try and try.

7/29/13 02:03 pm - On Nurturing: A Housewife Hopeful

I asked her,

Being me,

Why she took the less revered position,

Less supported,

Less starstricken,

The lesser,

Of laundry and making beds

Of quiet sunlight and dishes, afternoon tv

She,

Being herself and all her own,

Sat back and folded her hands over her swollen abdomen and laughed easily,

An open face showcasing each morsel she slipped into words,

There,

In the dappled sunlit orchestra pit, windows with a view of trees and wilderness

Where we could almost feel the breeze, hear the laughter of children and the creak of swingsets, dogs barking way down the street day and night, a distant train passing and the suggestions of their parents laughing too

She winked, or was it my imagination

She spoke the words and they arranged themselves to build the room into vivid colors, neatly, like setting places for family dinner,

She spoke the words and they were

Infused

With all the twists and brambles of the confetti of highs, all the staccatos and all of the depth, the striations, dross and cuts of the fever pains

Her voice was so strong that it echoed for years and years and we both listened, looking around the room, for the entire time that it sounded, and when it was done, we looked at each other, toasted with our fine teas, and laughed.

"When I kneel in the shower to pull off the dirt stains of the years without me,
The stories I pass on the way down,
The air each level is a new layer of love for discovery
My hands are changed, becoming my mother's hands,
Earning that gouge,
To take the dank out of history, mine and theirs

I walk past the hall in the living room,
Each pair of shoes ticks, it sparks, it crackles at me of his smile and appreciation
My audience is made of a hand on my hip, the abstracted journey of their navigation
Children putting the world together
People learning the map
My curriculum, choreography, is from their growing mouths
And their body language"

She paused,

Being me for a moment,

Reviewing times when I could not let my hands rest near my face, on my lap, about my own chest,

For the grief in the moment, the potency of my pain,

For when I split myself in two, and again, and divided and divided but really, all that mattered was that first,

That first severing.

There is one,

And there is two.

But there is only one.

"The whole home warm and people running barefoot through the rooms
And knowing myself in the moments in tears, allowing for the sadness rushing in droves
A deluge that begins that way and ends a hymn which joins into Oneness once more
We are not we, and yet we are
Our palms full of water from the well of womanhood
Straight up and down

To trickle it into our tree
So that it grows, and gives fruit in an endless infinity of sustenance
When I walk the floors, and lay in the bed
Sweep
Wash
Watch
Call
Respond
It is the literal definition of the expression of all I am inside
As evidenced by the care and concern I show in
Washing windows
Fluffing pillows

And how can this be lesser?
It is a disease of our community
To believe that nurturing is lesser

And that is all there is to say about such ridiculous thoughts."

And

As I said,

We toasted,

And we laughed so hard our sides hurt.

6/22/13 06:00 am - On Independence (I've had it, officially)

I've had it, officially.

Ten years and not a resolution in sight.

I've the grit of my grandaddy, the sprawl of the foothills, I've the knack for ending it, and a wry humor baked into all of my food
I've been raised on fried hand-to-mouth, dance on a Saturday night to reading Trotsky on Sunday
I am the result of southern diaspora and a sonofabitch who thinks for himself
Slow cooking of the way a man pulls himself out of the bottle and into a story that is so much bigger

I'm 110% done.
I've the sharp tongue of a woman who will not "know her place", she's busy knowing yours and telling you up one side and down the other about it
We don't know but we'll make it up as we go along, it comes out of our fingers and onto the strings
Into mashed potatoes, we're not moving from this couch, this is our home, we'll watch the disaster come and go from here thankyouverymuch
Would you like a cup of coffee dear

And you can be whomever you want, mister
Past is past and I won't go living it any more

This is my revolution.  This is my mattress on the floor, cigarettes and open journal scrawled with the secrets of the universe
I have time, and time, and time for thoughts and love
But I am fresh out of this violence, I'm putting my foot down
I don't need you to keep your distance, then tell me who I am, any more
I am nearly thirty years old and I will tell you who I am

It's not pretty, what I have to say, but it is what it is and it's the truth

Now you can sit and listen, you can disagree, you can throw a fit, but I've got the legacy of generations of clout,
And besides which, stubbornness

You should know
You came from it too daddy

5/5/13 08:46 am - However, when I get that punch in the gut

I will not refuse air
I will not contract and shift my world down to a crumpled ball of paper who cannot even cry

On a stairway that looks like a car swishing through the freeway night, alone with the pop music and all of my hair
It fizzles, it burns, it etches my glass, it takes my breath and I do not want to eat
And maybe it comes from absolutely nowhere, maybe it comes from love even
Filtering through my lens, the spectrum of color reduces down to raging red and icy blue
Because of baggage
Because of history
A whole book
A few years
A bed I was not allowed to lay in
A door off its hinges
Kitty litter and so many dishes my hands became chapped

And that wasn't

It was just the tip

But it's not important

It is not.  It's not!

I learned fear so well.  The dance of terror and separation.  I learned it.  Ingested it with a stone silence and a blank face.  I do not give a fuck.

I will not correct myself.  My stature is a slouch in the wide blue wild bugs and smoke and concrete I am graffiti I am allure I am hips that re-accept love unconditionally because I know who the fuck I am.  And I am learning,

I am learning to not be afraid of my power.

Do it wrong.  Spit and chew it.  Mispronounce and forget.  Get it all over you.

You can say what you want.  I know the outline of a body that tells me certainty exists especially for me.

It's ok.

The thing about time, is that it allows for miracles.  The thing is,

the wait,

spreading on the edge of it,

in dark or semi-sunrise,

with the clearing of a throat and the throbbing of all kinds of parts and bits of you,

waiting

cultivating openness in making ready for it,

clutching the seconds like gathering fabric around your chest,

and the incredible ache that stings like innate hunger when it falters, when it appears a spectre in the doorway and you sigh a lover's sigh and squat with tears in your eyes holding your mouth a crumple in your brow and you can smell it and your skin goosepimples a greeting and it wavers and you have to watch

and just watch

and be still

and it moves back and you can't see it but you know it's there and you want to vomit

and you know more then than any other moment in your entire life, there alone where it has just escaped like a candle going out quickly and not even leaving a smoke trail

you know that you are not alone

it's simple, it's nothing, it's no big deal

you sit down, you stand up, you stretch.  And cry.  Because it's sad.

it's what time does.  Gives a sequence.  Sometimes it feels like a straight up right hook.

Sometimes it just feels like spreading your fingers and imagining mermaids.  Being under all that water.  Sonar.

And of everything that happens because of time, the story of me, all the deaths and all the rebuilding cities,

The miracle of falling in love is everything I could ever want.

That's all I met you to say.

2/25/13 04:10 pm

If nothing else ever comes from any of this

I have one thing to say above everything else:

Thank you.

Thank you for the story you made of me, for me and through me.

I have it, I am it.  I share it with the world.  And I will.
Powered by LiveJournal.com