There He Is!

I couldn’t find this pic by in my collection – even though I’d posted it to Kenaram several months ago. Today, I felt like I needed to find it and started getting a little anxious that it might be gone, gone, gone, for good.

I scrolled back through Kenaram’s feed, growing more desperate that I’d never recover it. (I’d been searching for a good minute. I was about to give up.) I paused, took a breath, “Just help me find it, buddy.”

THE VERY NEXT CLICK, with angel sparkles, no less! Kenaram added them back when I posted it to his page, but I hadn’t known that. I felt like he and Jeffrey jumped out of those digital winks on the screen!

kenaram and me with angel sparkles

Liberty Park 2014 © Brian Palmer

I’m starting to feel him for himself, feel his absence, feel in general. I went numb when I heard the news, I think, then sank into a cranky gut-punch depression.

I broke down in the kitchen of Mama Pam, who called an Equinox gathering at her place last night. It was an amazing, COLD first night of Spring. Powerful. A safe place.

The wind has howled for a month. Last night was wild. I felt Kenaram and Jeffrey in manic air, living such as they did with madness and abandon, parts of nature, changing and moving, not to be forgotten. And that bright, BIG full moon has been speaking all week. Everyone’s been talking about this moon!

Pam’s the only woman I know who can pray to the Mother who doesn’t sound pretentious, like stupid shit hippy chicks say, or that thing triflin’ bitches do to tell other women they’re “head goddess.” I’d rather a man piss on his territory than a woman play that social order pecking bullshit.

But Pam, when she calls forth energy, opens an Incantation, for real! She’s an Energy Worker, period, with nothing to prove, just doing her thing. We had a meal, pot luck. She did a reading on the stars and the season. We talked about our group collaborative artpiece memoriam for our dear friend Ray who passed – god, what? Five years ago?

And she closed with a Benediction. That woman is pure Power. And she’s so goddamned funny! Just a character from head to toe. She’s this Nebraska country girl, with the thickest accent. And she’s like me, playing with persona, weaving in and out of exxagerations of herself and other mannerisms, like performance art. Play, truly! She’s so fun. I love her!

I needed last night. It’s been since Ray’s memorial that our whole group was together.

We got home early and I climbed in the hot tub. (My Fibromyalgia! Fucking forget it. As kind as 2018 was, 2019 is that rotten. Worst ever, and it won’t. let. up. A break! Please!)

We have wind chimes of every type and variety in our backyard. Even the low, sonorous chimes sang – the deep ones that take gale winds to move. I heard my brothers chanting, making noise, as they did in life, getting my attention.

“We’re just here.”

Thanks for the sparkles, Kenaram. I saw you! I feel you. Damn. You’re not here, for real.

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Normal

Ah, it feels good to cry today. I’m actually crying for my friends and not for me as much. I’m well rested, fully recovered from amateur weekend. (Free drinks for cute redheads, even at 46!) (Hangovers are harsher, though, lo, these many decades on.)

All week, people in Facelandia have been posting for Kenaram, and I haven’t wanted to. Writing about it yesterday, here, felt anonymous. I have two readers – you know who you are. Well, three, if you count me. This is my journal. Welcome to my indulgence.

Something about joining the mourning on Facebook made it real. Oh my god, I miss them! I am glad they’re together, I truly am. I’m really sad for me. They were good friends. They were so fun, obnoxious, and loving. They were up for anything!

They both chased me like monkeys. I don’t know why that’s a thing of mine, but ooh ooh! I never laughed so hard as I did when Jeff’s rejoinder was a gorilla! I’d asked people to monkey around with me, and they all thought I was crazy or trying to make fools of them. No, fool, I’m crazy and I want to make a fool of me! Play with me!

My monkey is a long-armed girl kid, I think. Jeffrey was a skinny, hairy MAN monkey.

When I told Kenaram the story, his own male monkey found voice and off we went, screaming and laughing through the yard. I loved those dumb boys!

(One year at Burning Man, this pack of monkeys came chanting down my street, and off I went! I couldn’t believe it! Turns out, there’s an entire Monkey Camp, and they’re serious, like kirtan! They chant every day at sundown or some such, then party and screech across the playa all night long. There are others like me!) (Another time at band camp, I’d just finished telling my Santa trauma story. [5 years old, screaming at my mother in the parking lot of KMart, “Just tell me the truth!” “Okay! Okay! Santa’s not real!” And with that, my broke, single mother’s Christmas died. I murdered St. Nick.] Just then, a pack of Santas came ho-ing down my street. I ran out to the road, “What’s happening? Why are you here?” I was freaked out sincerely, and surrounded. It’s very disturbing when dozens of dusty Santas ho ho ho you to the ground. I didn’t run off with their circus. I sat down in a new Santa trauma all my own, haha! er, hoho.)

I do feel like I’m losing Jeffrey again. There’s guilt in that, because Kenaram deserves my attention, too, on his own bizarre and glorious self, but they were and are a package. I still had Jeff while Kenaram was here. It’s like Penny holding Cricket for me.

“I’m glad you’re together. I imagine Jeffrey getting away with things now, because Kenaram doesn’t bother hiding his crimes. It’s quiet here without you. I like rowdy people who feed me, and you Jones boys are terrifically naughty. Please put hairnets on your chests and elsewhere while cooking naked, though perhaps no hair on the head or body is lost in heaven. Thank you for loving and forgiving me. I miss you both.”
winter 2013
idaho 2007
penny and cricket

Drowning in Death

I haven’t written about all the death around me lately because death is a bummer, but I found out yesterday that another friend of mine died unexpectedly on Saturday and I AM FED UP.

Since October, I’ve lost three friends, one to suicide and two to alcohol. Two-and-a-half weeks ago, my young cousins – brothers aged 16 and 17 – died in a car accident, and my best friend’s mom passed on Feb. 25th.

I learned when I worked in hospice that I separate myself from the passage of elders. (“Old people die.”) It didn’t occur to me to grieve for my grandfather until the oldest woman in Utah died at the age of 104. She was on our service. When she passed, I realized that she was three decades older than grandpa had been – a full adult lifetime longer than he had – and I was furious! It was the weirdest moment.

It was followed by all the stages, all at once, and then I was fine again. I wonder if Grandpa would still adore me like he did when I was a kid, or if he, too, would have written me off like my immediate family has, after it became clear that I’m not Mormon, and I’m not going to be. I was only 26 when Grandpa died. There was hope yet.

Now I’m just a cranky, middle-aged lady that grows more convinced every day that humanity is an invasive species, and all problems can be solved by Cat.
penny

I hurt when Judy died, for my friend, mostly. They were extremely close. She was such a beautiful, warm, kind woman. Interestingly, she taught me a lot about death when I was experiencing it for the first time.

In high school, a kid in my friend group was accidentally shot by another friend. Judy flew up from Texas. It’s my first memory of her, other than as some adult somewhere in the house (before they relocated to TX), of no interest to me. She didn’t say much of anything, just sat there. I remember being so comforted by her presence. She didn’t do a thing, but she has this “roundness of energy.” You know people like that? With that sort of enveloping coziness?

Two days after the accident, I went to the home of the friend who fired the gun. Everyone was there from my group. I was in hell in that room. I hadn’t gone to the bonfire, and as a result all of my friends were trauma-bonded without me. What the hell does a 17-year-old kid say to any of this? I remember Judy laughing at one point. She’d been saying something, I don’t know what, and she laughed. I was aghast! This was sacrosanct!

And life goes on, the sacred and profane. I’ve never forgotten that moment.

I didn’t visit Judy the last two times I was in Texas. She was literally steps away in the house across the pond, but I was sick one time and the kids were sick the other. We couldn’t risk her health. I keep feeling like I should’ve gone, but but but …

I loved Judy. She made me feel a part of the family.

I didn’t realize for another decade that I’d been traumatized, too, by my friend’s tragic death. I hated myself so much back then. Now I had to look in the mirror and wonder what kind of sick person wishes she’d been at the scene of her friend’s bloody death. I just remember being jealous (jealous!), feeling terribly alone, and hating everyone.

Years later, mom and I would agree that that was one of those moments my angels stepped in on. With the fragile journey I would take with my mental health, I remain convinced that I wouldn’t have recovered from witnessing such a thing.

Then you feel guilty feeling like someone or something interceded for you, and not for those who were there, or for my friend who caused the accident! They can’t unsee it either. Nevertheless, I feel like something bigger than me protected me from what I couldn’t handle. Perhaps it’s silly, but what isn’t silly about believing in an invisible, benevolent cheerleading squad?

Back then, I posited all blame for the aftermath of Matt’s death on my best friend. That’s been a trend in our life. Eleven years later, I’d picked some fight with her and she finally got mad. (She doesn’t do that.) “What!” she yelled at last. “What did I do?!”

“I’m mad at you for Matt!” I was stunned. I had no idea. I was horrified.

I realized when my cousins sons died earlier this month that there’s some deep shit buried in me still around that death in high school. I felt all kinds of anxiety and guilt about those boys. I didn’t know them. I’d seen them once at a family party. They were toddlers, tumbling over each other like kittens, for hours. It was so cute and funny!

I didn’t want to go to the viewing. I didn’t know why. But… ask yourself a question… I realized that the last time I’d seen a young man lying in a coffin, it was Matt. There’s just nothing okay about young people dying. Thinking about it even now makes me sick.

In fact, I got sick. I thought about my cousin in a wheelchair and how frequently ill she is. I couldn’t forgive myself if she got this awful head cold and didn’t recover. So I didn’t go at all, and then I got FOMO, for a funeral! What kind of sick person wants to be a part of such a sad occasion? And there was that feeling again, the one I’d known all those years ago as a teenager who wished she’d seen her friend shot.

That’s when I realized my sorrow was for Matt and myself, and not those boys – though my heart did break for my cousin, their dad, for their siblings, and their grandma, my favorite auntie.

And now Kenaram (that’s Kendall, after Hinduism). I hadn’t seen him for a long time. I’ve been sick all winter, and seeing Kenaram requires drinking to oblivion. I wasn’t up for it. Recently, I sent him a picture of a pair of Jeffrey’s boots – my friend Jeff was his brother – telling him, “I stole these boots off a dead man, and I think they should go to you!”

I wore them to E11 the summer Jeffrey died. I didn’t find out until two weeks later, just days before our local burn, and I felt him there with me, in his shoes, the whole time. I went stark raving mad, actually, and talked to him aloud all weekend. A crazywoman talking to herself out loud in a pair of boots she stole from her roommate.

People complimented my boots that whole festival.

“Thanks! I stole ’em off a dead man!”

I feel like I’ve unzipped from my body. Last night, I went to the grocery store and crossed against a light in a break in traffic. There was an oncoming commuter train! What the hell was I thinking?! It had to stop to let me cross! Good grief. I about died from embarrassment. I about died, full stop. Wtf?

I finally started crying this morning on the bus. I got a picture in my mind of his “tunnel” – color, color, color! – and the LOVE and relief he’s feeling right now, and I started bawling. Haven’t really stopped. Oh, I skipped work yesterday, just plain ditched, no message, turned off my phone and went back to bed, fuck-it-I-don’t-care. I came in today, asking what my boss had said. He told my colleagues I’d called in sick.

That was nice.

I’m so tired. I feel like I’m not even crying about Kenaram, or Jazzy, or Melissa, who killed herself in October. I’m crying because it was St. Patrick’s this weekend, and a little dip in mood often follows binge drinking.

I’m feeling sorry for myself. Death sucks, for me. I hate myself in its context, so I hate it.

The end.

kenaram and me

Burner Day in the Park 2014, a week after our first henna ~ Ginger4ever ~ © Rudy Van Bree

 

My hometown

sexburg

On and off for 30 years I’ve wondered, “Who changed the ‘R’ on the water tower to spell Sexburg, and WHY didn’t I get a picture?!”

Today, an old classmate posted a pic on Facebook of some new scrawl that reads, “Save Ferris.” The young ones still tag the highest peak in town, it seems, with a reverential nod to their parents, no less. Beuller is timeless, true, but he belongs to us. He was our charming, delightfully naughty peer.

I scrolled down the comments for ownership of Sexburg – I knew it would be there – and there it was! The shot I’ve wanted for years! Apparently, it made the paper.

In Rexburg, high temperatures made cover stories (featuring my cute little 2-yr.-old brother). While the water tower was certainly big news, I would think Rexburg too prudish to gratify graffitists with a pictorial. More shocking still was learning that it remained unrepaired for nearly a year. I don’t remember that. Finally, some woman complained to the Standard Journal. That sounds right.

So there you have it: Sexburg, Idaho. My pent-up, horny, abstinence-only hometown. Pretty funny for a Mormon village. “I wish I believed in God,” I often say. “That’s one fine, omniscient sense of humor.”

Here in His holiest city, we have Tshirts that read “SLUT,” for Salt Lake, UT. You just can’t make this stuff up! It’s one of my favorite things, that Mecca and its sacrosanct ‘burg were ripe for such wicked, delicious pun.
sl,ut

Blogiversary The Seventh

Happy 222!

I noticed some time ago that I’m generally kinda pissy or kinda blah this time of year. It’d been consistent enough over the years to recognize the trend.

This year, I bucked it!

I feel great. I’m in a good relationship. We’ve had normal bumps in the road that were effectively navigated, and we’re closer for it. I went out with the urban farmer and decided I’m happy where I’m at, for no other reason than he’s not Galen. We had a great time, but I’m where I want to be right now.

I always suspected there was an incredibly loving person in me. It’s been wonderful to flex that muscle.

Penny’s health, on the other hand, hasn’t been great, and there’s tremendous guilt with that. Her lung collapsed after I GAVE HER BRONCHITIS! Don’t believe what you read online. NO essential oils are safe to diffuse around cats. It’s lasted months, and feelings of sorrow and worry are immense. We had a follow-up today. A listen with the stethoscope did reveal that her lung is drawing air again, and she hasn’t been overcome by an awful, seizing cough for a couple of weeks now, thank god.*

She hasn’t felt good, though. She’s been vomiting more than her normal every-once-in-awhile, but she wasn’t eating much at all. Basically puking every time she did. She lost 1.7 lbs! That’s a massive amount for a little thing, and I could see it. She is eating again and not bringing it back up, for several days, so… idiopathic and passing? *sigh*

I’ve had an annoying cold that won’t progress but won’t let up, for 6 solid weeks. I’m over it. I’m exhausted, and rolling in and out of congestion, but not so much to knock me flat or put a hold on my activities.

I love my dance classes. I’m so happy with all that I’m involved in.

Oh! Haha! I have to have surgery on my foot. Thinking of dance made me think of crippling pain, but whatever. I’ve decided to bear it until around Halloween. I’m so excited about the skills and apparatus we’re studying each semester in belly dance, and I want to join Samba Fogo in the Pride parade in summer, which requires me to re-up my 6-month commitment, through October.

I’ll be fine. I figure I’ve been limping on and off for 5-6 years, I can handle another one. My doctor advises against it, but he doesn’t make my decisions.

I’m having the time of my life.

I’ve had the best Winter. That’s unheard of! (It has to be thanks to the hot tub and fireplace.) I’m on the bus and everything, and it’s just pretty and wintery and cold, and fine! We’ve had a couple of inversions, but nothing like years past. With so much snow, the atmosphere stayed stirred up and clean. Lots of folks complain about storm after storm, but I think, “Good for the desert.” We’ve had so many years of drought that a season of normal precip doesn’t solve our problems, but it’s good.

Until this week. We’re smacked with a cold snap that I didn’t expect and didn’t brace for. I anticipate these temps in January, and I know that February is still deep in winter, but we’ve been turning toward the sun. Days are noticeably longer, the light is changing in its slope, and it’s been downright balmy a time or two. Now it’s late in the month, and I was ready to chuck it off. March is Spring and it’s practically March!

It’s January temps and March wind at once out there. Oh, the wind! Good grief.

Well, it won’t be long now.

I can’t seem to lose weight this time around, so that’s lame. Historically, I just had to decide, “OK, Christie. This is getting out of control. Reign it in,” and off it fell, with no real modifications other than don’t binge every week (certainly not multiple times per week). Not so now.

Without a car, I’m walking several miles weekly. I take 3 dance classes and 2 yoga classes, and I’m eating healthier. For one thing, the fast food joint across the parking lot from my work closed, and I’m cooking now! What the hell?

For the first time, I believe the findings of my genome, “Likely higher than average weight.” (It also said, “Likely not a redhead.” [94% not likely!] That led to an interesting exploration of the occurence of “rufosity” [hahahaha!]. It’s far less cut-and-dry than recessive MC1R. It requires the confluence of all sorts of variables.)

Girth, however, seems to be more easily determined by this variation or that, and I’ve got it. Oh, well. I had my fun. Boy, when I lose the weight this time, I am NOT letting it back on! I can’t. This is war! I’m losing. Or not losing, as the case may be.

So, yeah, that’s funny. I just listed a bunch of sorta crappy life things, and none of it bothers me right now. I love my life. I love it now, not tomorrow, not “when I…,” now.

Honestly, I think it has to do primarily with where I live. I LOVE MY HOUSE!!! There’s such a difference between loving your surroundings and tolerating them. I’ve had a number of untenable living situations, ranging from abusive boyfriends (and their sudden wives), to the standard dirty roommate, to the classic I’m-young-and-poor roach motel. The rest, I’ve taken pride and satisfaction in turning the most modest of places into retreats. Subconsciously, however, they were stop gaps. I wasn’t home. 

I love every corner of my pretty, pretty, warm little home.

My home is beautiful. My heart is happy. My life is good.7 years

die nachhaltigen

*Spoke too soon. That very night, the cough returned. Ugh! What’s it gonna take?

Progress Report

I’m a girl who appreciates her gold stars. Okay, I’m the girl who needs her gold stars. Okay, okay, I’m the girl who demands them.

“I want my gold star!”

So I’m giving myself one.

Last night, my group Ala performed at the Samba Queen Competition. We rehearsed backstage before the show. One girl took the lead and put us on our respective sides, but she was wrong and put each group in the opposite place. This would require agreement with everyone sharing the stage. Do we switch sides in formation to compensate for the reversal in our starting positions? Or will we all navigate brand new pathways – LIVE in performance – to get to our originally rehearsed positions?

Here’s the answer. Make the quick correction to match what we set in rehearsal. No onstage collisions in the forecast.

She wouldn’t budge. It was interesting. We didn’t conflict at all. No energetic frustration, just disagreement and discussion. Suddenly, it didn’t matter to me. She was mistaken, but she was sure. And she had taken charge. I wasn’t rebuffed. I wasn’t ruffled. I was right, and feeling no need, urge, or pressure to “fix” or force anything.

I realized, that’s kinda why I do this stuff. I’m a rigid person who has spent most of my life controlling outcomes, and failing. As she directed us, wrongly, I practiced flexing a new muscle: Flexibility itself.

The group was in a state of confusion. From time to time, I’d restate that we were now on opposite sides. Discussion would follow, and the woman who took the lead, whom I like and enjoy a great deal in class, continued in charge and in the wrong.

Several other women came to me during and after, saying, “You know, I think you’re right? I did start on the other side in class.”

“Yeah, we did.”

We worked it out. One way or another, the performance would begin and end. We’d all get there somehow. I actually rolled with it.

Another woman said proudly of the collaboration, “That was very democratic of us.”

“It was!” I was proud, too.

“You know how it is. Women can sometimes get catty with each other.”

“Yeah,” I agreed. “We just don’t have that kind of group.”

I’m a right fighter. I’m often technically correct. I’m very exact. I know my mark, and I know yours. Theatre suits my brain, because it’s reliable. X marks the spot.

I will lose to be right. Last night, I didn’t. It felt good to win in a new way!

Yay, Christie! Good job! Gold star!

I’m so behind in my rudimentary life skills. Better late than never, truly.

I will say, this Samba thing I’m doing is so powerful. I truly believe it calls on the best of us, and all of the women I’m studying and growing friendships with are examples of feminine power applied outside of the patriarchal dichotomy. What that means for me is an acute awareness of how my strong female voice has spent itself SCREAMING my entire life, using masculine energy, because that’s the only model we’ve had.

Until now.

The world is changing. Flux is catastrophic and devastating, but it’s growth and it’s time. My belief is – my prayer is – that we will see the other side of this upheaval with more voices at the table and a new, initially unsteady alliance gaining its footing and making healthier strides for the benefit of the world.

Female power doesn’t wish to supplant male power. We want to cooperate. But we have to fight like hell first to get a seat and a voice. That’s what’s happening now. Better is to come. I believe it.

That’s what Samba teaches me.

Oh, and last night, a girl in the group chickened out of her position front and center. We have simple dresses in red, orange, or yellow, and we’d organized ourselves to avoid color clumping onstage. Like this dancer, I was in a red dress and had to take her place.

My friends were in the audience. They congratulated me after the performance. “You were the leader!”

God damn, I can’t avoid being in charge, even when I try!

samba queen ala performance

photographer Rudy van Bree

nennette and me at samba queen

 

I Showed UP!

2019 is about showing up for life, not just talking about showing up for life. Today I did!

Literally, showed up.

It was the first hoop practice for Jazzy’s Celebration of Life. Perhaps I understated a few days ago how scary it is for me to show up alongside these talented, intimidating women. I felt like Jazzy was up there cheering for me! If anyone believed that everyone was welcome, it was Jazzy. It means the world to me to be a part of this performance.

There’s so much informing my anxiety.

My skills are shit. These girls are all close friends, in and out of the hoop, and they’ve performed together innumerable times. They don’t have to learn their combos. They just get together and play until something falls into place. Then they set it. There, choreography.

Here, I show up, remedial at best – years ago – having to assess, “Do you know this? Can you do this?”

“No… Once upon a time, but never really solid…”

I didn’t want to to hold them back in any way or make them dumb it down for me.

I was at battle with myself last night. I can’t tell you many times I decided it was okay not to do this. I’m really not ready. That’s the truth.

Another equally true voice reminded me that it was about rehearsing together. I can always opt out of the performance. I want to be with the people who loved her, together doing what she loved. I knew that this was the opportunity to break through the personal barrier that kept me away from a rich part of the community I always wanted to belong to, but didn’t know how or dare.

Practice this morning was early. I’m overwhelmed with three other dance classes, and I’ve been in a moderate Fibro flare for over a month. I’m tired. My body hurts.

Christie, get up! You’ll be glad you did.

I had set the alarm for 7am – I felt proud and brave – and then I forgot to turn it on!

By some miracle I woke up at 7:45. I was, of course, relieved. Totally off the hook.

I really meant to get up, but there’s no way I could get there on time now. I lay back down.

It doesn’t matter if you’re late. Get up. You’ll be glad you did.

I didn’t question it. I didn’t fight with myself. (I was too tired.) I just put my feet down.

I was late, half an hour. As I approached the Hub, I saw only one car in the lot. That’s more intimidating than a large crowd. I almost turned around.

GO IN.

I approached the entry. Locked. I went to the back access. Locked.

I tried. I was triumphant. Nothing to regret. I really tried! (I was so relieved.)

I turned to leave, but stopped. I went back and rang the bell (which doesn’t reach upstairs to the dance studio, but I tried anyway). I knocked.

Running late, I left my phone! I couldn’t even message the Facebook page.

I rang and rang.

Okay. Admit defeat. Girl, you showed up. You get your gold star. And you get out of it!

I started to leave, but just couldn’t exit the parking lot, quite. Why? There was only one car. I’d been all around the warehouse. No one was up that early and working.

I just lingered. I knew if I skipped the first practice, I could talk myself out of all the rest. I stayed. I searched.

Finally, I turned to go home.

And there it was! A car exiting the lot. I got the code to bypass a key, and up I went!

I was the only one! Other than the three pros who are choreographing the thing, me.

Oh, god. I should have turned back!

I told them how scared I was. I told them I don’t want to affect the group with a garish skill gap. I told them it was Jazzy who got me there.

“I don’t know how else I showed up,” I admitted. “I talked myself out of it a million times. I’m terrified!”

“We’re so glad you’re here!” they all said, and wrapped me in a hug.

I KNEW that’s what I’d find there! But … but, but, but!

I did it. I did it. I did it!

Thank you, Jazzy. You knew.

We felt her.

Jazzy and Jeffrey brought hooping into my life. Jazzy brought it back.

Thank you for giving me the courage to approach your friends. You broke down the wall for me and got past the fear. It held me back for so long. Thank you!

2019 is the year I pick up my hoop and push beyond old boundaries. I have a whole community now that I’m not afraid to ask, “How’d you do that?”