Little Black Magicat

Cricket’s at peace, and so am I.

Yesterday, Cricket told me she doesn’t need to come with us to the new house.

I regret not realizing my dream of holding her by the fire. I imagine she’ll be there with me sometimes, but there’s nothing like the furry, warm body of a big fat belly cat.

I walked to my car in a daze with her empty carrier. I turned the engine to hear John Florence announce the time. (He’s the only host on KRCL to do that.) 9:11, her birthday.

I got on the freeway, directly behind a license plate beginning with 999 – end of a cycle – as the song that started when I turned the key began its opening lyric.

Sliding on the shimmering surface between two worlds
Standing at the center of time as it uncurls
Cutting through the veil of illusion
Moving beyond past conclusions
Rendering all doubt and confusion clear

If I could be anywhere
If I could be anywhere
If I could be anywhere right now
I would want to be here

– Jackson Browne

cricket's pillow

She had a beautiful, peaceful passing on her pillow in my arms. She purred the whole time. I buried my face in her neck and told her how much I love her. “You’re a good kitty.”

saying goodbye

Sept. 11, 2004 ~ July 23, 2018

Mirror

stress

The same can be said of self, and it’s sobering. I’ve felt in recent years – this summer, particularly – like I’m incapable of beating back those demons. I tried. Admit defeat, and stop hoping for better. You can’t be devastated every time you fail if you don’t believe. And you stop hurting others! At this point, inflicting yourself on any intimate partner – family, lover, friend – is immoral.

Years ago, I had the insight that failure thus far was due, in part, to the verbage I applied to the battle. See? It’s a war. This is your responsibility, Christie, your fight.

I made a conscious choice to use empowering words – like toolkit in place of armor. It fit other efforts: Formerly a nonsmoker, I was now smoke free. Words have power. Words were used against the little girl, to much more disastrous effect than blows.

And now they’re her weapon. My shame, regret, and heartache. I can’t keep doing this to myself and others. Isn’t it time to say, “I tried. It’s okay to quit”? Peace can come down a different path and still be peace. Just don’t allow yourself opportunities for the stress that can trigger abuse, and you can love yourself! Solid, lasting, joyful self love.

The problem is that when I get there, I have so much love to give. I want to spill it out on everything. When I’m happy, you can see and feel the love in my home. Everything around me is cared for and pretty. (Every friend that visited after Jax and I started dating commented on how much better his house looked since my arrival. Every visitor, every time. Yeah, yeah, the touch of a woman, sure, but it was after the love was added that our home blossomed. Then he retreated to his headphones and body odor, and I grumbled and resented him, but blamed myself and tried to be different.) What would it take to put a partner in there, too, to trust him to partner me through my ugliness, and finally rise above it? Not never to face it, but to live!

There’s nothing like Christie, inspired. What does safety feel like when I believe it?

I’m not worried about that today. I really don’t think I’m going to try for that anymore. I really don’t think I have the right. Really. Wrong is wrong. This has gone on for decades. I know what I know. Is that acceptance or more draconian childishness?

Whatever.

Today, I’m just worried about tomorrow. It’s clear they consider me served. Nevermind that the paperwork and emailed links I provided show the legal channel as signed by a district court judge. Nevermind that officers told them twice that they can’t unlawfully evict me or violate my person or property. They either consider themselves superior to strict guidelines that govern everyone else, or truly misunderstand basic instructions.

I know what’s in each box (Moving Bible), and I’m videotaping my property every day. I have to work and rehearse. I can’t babysit. If they destroy me, I have renter’s insurance. After that, I have the law.

They think they’re selling that house? I’ll own it if they mess with me.

Pray for my cats. He would leave my cats, scared but uninjured, and text me to arrange pick up. He would not put them outside!

People can fuck themselves, but animals are actual angels on earth. It’s true I don’t know what Jax is capable of anymore, but I know we still match there.

Beyond that, I’m released. I was left carrying the bag. Sick notwithstanding, I abused a man who left a relationship that wasn’t working. I was aware that the long dark night of the soul was coming for me, as soon as my show closes. I was prepared to hate myself, cry, and mourn for months, ache for years, and finally heal, but sting, forever.

In the end, he didn’t risk my illness and abandon me when it happened. He got right in and filthy dirty. I’m not alone. I’m not absolved. Serious work remains for me, but attending guilt will not crush me. He agreed to carry half of it.

I got abusive when I got sick; He got abusive when he got even. And we are, equal in our crimes against one another. Which is horrible to face, but bearable now somehow, shared. Thanks, Jax. Weirdly, I mean that. Ugh, this is just so gross.

Pray pray pray pray pray.

I’m still so ashamed, and resolved. Fix this, Christie. Get right. Get up. Anything less isn’t good enough for you. You know that, too. You’re still alive. You can.

Sweat Lodge

I was so gratified to meet the woman I wrote about last week. I had failed at Thanksgiving not to respond to the hate-mongering chatter that accompanies every family gathering, and I felt it: Failure.

Meeting hostility with anger is useless and stupid, but what the hell am I supposed to do? I asked politely. I teased. I asked again. I got mad.

This woman explained the difference between suffering in complicit silence, and going within to meet hatred with love. I’ve been trying for 15 minutes to capture the epiphany I had in a 2-minute conversation, but it was almost funny how simple it seemed.

Of course, the practice of it will be a different story, marked by many failings, to be sure, but it moved from theoretical and seemingly-impossible to entirely practical and doable. There’s a huge difference between angrily holding one’s tongue, and actively holding a space of “non-duality,” she called it. The silence of love is not the silence of restraint. That’s a game-changer for me!

I talk about energy all the time. Everyone knows what it is to walk in a room and feel it. The silence she described isn’t passive at all. It’s energized! It’s silly now that it seemed such a unattainable concept, when, really, it’s a straight-forward product of choice and action. It can’t be mistaken for tacit approval.

Suddenly, my need to act as standard bearer seemed silly, too. It’s not as if my family doesn’t know me. If any of my nieces or nephews is different, in any way, they know there’s a safe place for them. I don’t need to do that anymore.

I’m ready to graduate!

It does hurt that I don’t matter in my family. At best, I’m a joke. My point of view is the minority, so it’s dismissed. No one cares that that hurts me. They know. They continue.

And I’m strong enough.

“I will love, even here. How can I love, even here?” I trust Spirit to answer, if I truly commit to trying a new way, and I’m ready.

(Whoa! I just got really scared again!)

I AM READY.
non-duality

****

I brought a new, blank drum inside the lodge, which was borrowed by a leader and praised by her for its tone. That felt great! It was plenty soggy and bleak-sounding by the end of 4 long rounds, but bounced right back in the cold night air.

[I also made a killer leftover-turkey casserole for the pot luck following the lodge. It went like gangbusters! Jax is teaching me how to cook. We take Mormon comfort food – primarily based on Cream of Chicken Soup – and turn it out! This dish contained organic, home-grown tomato puree and chili powder. And cheese. Lots of cheese.]

My personal drum stayed out on the altar by the fire, to soak up and sing with our prayers and come home to bless me when I dance and meditate. So far, it’s attended a Love Rally and this prayer for Standing Rock, for water, the earth, and all of us. I love my drum!

Here’s my most recent. (So much detail is missing in this grainy shot!)drum-5
13″ on wood frame with mallet
$200
Nov. 23, 2016

I have a few more color incarnations to realize before I’m finished with this design, and more drums than I can paint right now (including 2 with rawhide lacing).

****

This was the first lodge that I didn’t really go into a trance-like state. Usually, when the heat starts to rise, I’m transported to the plains in a covered wagon. I don’t know that any of my ancestors came across in a covered wagon, but that imagery is powerful for Mormons, and it would be a no-brainer for my ancestors to get my attention in that way, to signal very clearly who it was I was feeling. The first time it happened was one of the most alarming and powerful visions I’ve ever experienced. I saw the faces of the Native people my ancestors would have encountered, and recognized that they were the brown-skinned ancestors of the the people I was praying with! Then, “Oh my god, they call the stones ‘The Ancestors.’ Our ancestors are here!” It was overwhelming.

I try not to expect repeat performances of my experiences. I try to be in the now, and learn what new thing is available from each event. But it was hard not to hope for that impression again when I went to my second lodge. And they came. Again and again and again. It was the same wagon journey into Spirit at every lodge, except this one.

Abigail, my favorite pioneer ancestor, did pop to mind in the 3rd round. I smiled. I love her. I thanked her for being with me since we “met” when I was ten, and then I had a thought of Sarah, who doesn’t come to me often. I don’t feel her strongly, but I have had a sense of her quiet, and it would make sense for me not to get it. What’s quiet? I truly don’t understand quiet. In fact, quiet people scare me. I think they hate me.

But Sarah did come to mind, and I had the thought to pray around her voice. “Please come as a signal for when it’s appropriate to act differently. Help me discern between the time to speak and the time to turn inward and LOVE, even here. Come in when it’s time for me to honor the place of neither right nor wrong, and just love, fiercely, quietly.”

I’m excited to see if I recognize her as I begin to practice non-duality. I think I might. I have recognized her energy. It’s harder, but she has a distinct feeling, and I’m excited to imagine I might a foster a relationship with her. Especially if it leads to healing. Especially for my mother’s family. Sarah is my mother’s family.

not-the-end

Not The End, by Julie Rogers, depicts my ancestor, Sarah Ann, on one of her 32 crossings of the icy North Platte River to carry Saints to safety.

Tell My Story gives a detailed account of this episode of the Martin Handcart Company’s ill-fated journey to Salt Lake City. I’m really proud of Sarah. Scroll down and enjoy!

One Week of Trump

trumpery

Not surprisingly, I’ve been in mourning.

This is our Watergate. Political cynicism is the norm after Nixon. Before him was Camelot, for heaven’s sake. Similarly, there’s life before Trump and life after. America is not the same. America is an idea as much as it’s a country, and it is fundamentally changed.

This hit me harder than 9/11! Perhaps that seems hyperbolic, but it’s true.

Trump has no interest in governance. He wants glory and HIS WAY. He’s a would-be dictator. Thank god there’s still enough to our democracy to get him out and save ourselves in 4 years.

In the meantime, what I believed would be a post-election Republican postmortem is, instead, occurring within the Democratic party. With Bernie Sanders to lead the way!

Seeing Plan B’s “One Big Union” couldn’t have been more timely, motivating, and healing for me (though a part of me panicked that, 100 years later, the “bosses” are still winning). America has made great strides, and we’ll fight like hell to keep them. We’ll lose ground, no question, but we’ll reclaim it at midterms in 2018. And there will be sweet victories and progress in the meantime.

That being said, I am terrified by Trump’s choice of a climate change denier for his EPA team [and a rag printer of alt-right rhetoric as top aide]. Currently, with what’s happening – unequivocal crimes against individuals and a sovereign nation – Trump’s role in the already marred energy sector frightens me the most. Only the NRA has better-funded lobbyists than the dirty energy industry. We stand to lose what we cannot recover.

So I donate my small amount to Standing Rock. And I pray. I paint my drums. I put the hope and buoyancy that are my nature back into my big picture, and I WATCH.

Everyone is saying right now, “I hope he proves us wrong.” His choices so far show that he, likely, will not. Of course, the grandiose promises he made to deport everyone and ban everyone can’t be kept entirely, and he’s back-tracking already on what he “meant.” On the one hand, thank goodness. On the other, he’s a fraud. You got suckered.

We’ve been Trumped.

He will be more futile than he realized, I think, as the title doesn’t proffer the cart-blanche he anticipated. He’s so clinically narcissistic, he can’t even see that the job he applied for was not Absolute Ruler. But the damage is done.

Immigrants have been murdered this week. Boys chant at football games, “Grab her by the p*ssy!” People across America are vandalizing brown neighborhoods, and taunting immigrants and Latinos about The Wall and their place on the other side of it. The narrative has changed. As much as we were the land of opportunity, the champion of anyone willing to labor, America is now the intolerant paragon of hate. Racism is normalized. Fear-mongers are emboldened. Bigots feel at liberty to terrorize their neighbors, because their President-elect does the same thing.

There’s a prominent socially-conscious woman in Salt Lake named Mary Dickson. She hosts a public television segment, and wrote a play for Plan-B that I saw. I ran into her the other day and introduced myself. When I asked how she was, her eyes welled with tears. She’s been hosting Saudi Arabian students for years, she told me. When one leaves, another moves in. She loves them and their families. They are family. The day after the election, one boy was dressing in his regular Saudi clothing to head out somewhere, when the other student stopped him. “You can’t go out in that! They’ll kill you!”

The fear is real. It hurts!

It’s the first time that terror has touched me by so close a degree of separation. Yes, Trump hates women. Can’t even see us as beings enough to hate us, really. We’re things to possess and conquer, objects to reflect his prowess and power. While Rape Culture is removed to the 60s, at best, it’s still a theoretical shift. I don’t feel any more at risk of rape today than I did yesterday. (The day after the election, I wondered which men filling their tanks had voted for him, and felt markedly isolated.) (And, naturally, women’s health is a terrifying “we’ll see” for now.)

These boys are afraid for their lives! Their mothers want them to come home. This is as much America as anything we’ve told ourselves before. America is an unsafe place to visit or study, or live. This is the reality for so many! And in one big con, it was all made OKAY. Whitewashing xenophobia makes it that much more shameful. I’m ashamed. Might someone look at me and wonder if I support that hatred and chaos?

I weep for my country.

His supporters are keen to say that only a quarter, not the majority, voted for him (Meaning what?) and “most of those aren’t racist.” Perhaps not, but they’re fine with a dangerous criminal running the country. Is that any better?

And this convenient splitting of hairs offends me. That quarter of the populace told the electorate to give him the keys. That’s the majority! That’s how American democracy is set up. They know that. Everyone knows that. But faced with the consequence of aligning themselves with a racist – being considered racist themselves – they claim that a most fundamental principle of the American democratic process, the existence of the Electoral College, negates their responsibility for electing a bigot to office.

It’s not that they don’t understand basic principles that govern our land. It’s that they want those principles to now abdicate them from the blame they share for bigotry that’s newly strengthened in our country, and from the hate crimes that follow. “We voted for a hatemonger, but we’re not to blame for the danger that puts people in.”

One of the more somber social consequences of the Internet Age is online bullying. Trump epitomizes trolling. He legitimizes malcontents who hide behind computer screens. Those ugly people emerge from behind a cloak they needed a decade ago, before hate-flooding became everyday ho hum. That’s an unsavory population to a invite to a discussion that has real-world gravitas. These people play by virtual rules, and have lost the ability to empathize, if they ever had it.

Speaking of vile internet behavior, what must pedophiles be feeling – worse, doing – right now, with a President-elect on trial for raping a 13 year old?

This is real! I still can’t believe it’s real. People are in danger.

The other frightening thing about the internet is that truth has no meaning. Facts have somehow lost almost all value. How can we feel otherwise when a pathological liar is elected to the highest office in the land?

Anyone can say anything. With conviction, it’s taken as truth. All we want is the loudest ape. How can we be so blinded by bluster?

Do they actually think he’s going to save their jobs? The blue-collar contingent that lapped his pablum is the very population that will lose first!

You know, that brings up an interesting aside for me. I used to do that. In high school, I argued things I didn’t believe, just to see if I could win. When I did, I’d laugh at the chump that I’d convinced of utter bombast, of LIES. “You’re an idiot!” I scoffed.

Making others a fool became a power I abused.

That juvenile behavior characterizes Trump. He gets off on tricking people! I know that high. As I matured, so did my morality, and I made choices to be a kinder person. Trump has no internal compass to guide his choices toward good. He’s pure greed. And success doesn’t count if someone else doesn’t lose, or suffer, for your gains. He’s a dangerous, ironically bankrupt man.

And, still, none of this is the point. The point is the message. In the United States, we don’t respect, protect, or treat with civility anyone who isn’t white, male, Christian, straight, wealthy, and healthy. It’s a terrifying day for immigrants, people of color, women, LGBTQ, the disabled, the poor, the insecure. This is as much what America stands for, now, as anything we’ve claimed and believed about ourselves previously. It’s a strong, clear, horrifying, and heartbreaking message. And the majority chose it.

“Most of the people who voted for Trump aren’t racist” is a bullshit platitude that makes me scream. Permitting bigotry – while disavowing it in oneself – is a comfortable delusion that Trump supporters created so they can live with what his message tells their neighbors, fellow Americans, and the world. Your vote makes it your message.

“I voted for a man endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan, but I’m not a bigot myself” is a pathetic story that no one believes but the people who tell it to themselves. Silence is deference. Anyone who stands idly by while another is marginalized is passively participating in that degradation. So if you vote for it, you are an active adherent of an ideology that tears people down and destroys community.

In other words, actions speak louder than words.

And their actions gave us the most self-serving, cossetted prince to rule America.

trump-and-melania

Has anything reeked of more insecurity and desperation?

“No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things.” -Neal Gabler

All Strong Women Are Called Bitch

nasty-womanI woke up Friday morning, suddenly aware that my belief that election stress hadn’t gotten to me was, in fact, a coping strategy to hide from what now feels very much like trauma! It broke my heart to see how disconnected I’d become from my emotions just to survive this shit. It was alarming, because I try to look honestly at myself and what my feelings are telling me. I was hiding from pain!

Post-election is going to be ugly, too. There will be no ideal reconciliation, or even real workability, but thank god this part is OVER. The longest, most vitriolic election in modern history. I feel like I’ve been beaten.

I ached again for the little girl who grew up in a violent home, who developed that coping mechanism just so she could breathe. I read once that Depression isn’t merely a pervasive low feeling, but the absence of all feeling, eventually the inability to feel. A person crying “the tears of the damned,” I call them, will do anything not to feel them. Not to feel. They stop being able to feel at all, even the good stuff. It’s horrible, and it comes from hiding from pain.

I would have thought that I had a special radar for noticing when that technique was creeping into my life. I didn’t see it at all! You hear the buzz words “election anxiety” everywhere, and I had perched myself above it, in very much the same way I would leave my body during violence that I thought would kill me. When I saw it – her – I ached, and went in again to be the grown-up I needed when I was a terrified little girl.

I decided that I will no longer watch any news or footage of any kind until Wednesday, and I haven’t. Of course, it’s everywhere. You can’t get away from it. But I’m not permitting the sound bytes into my life anymore. I’ll know tomorrow what happens tonight.

At one point Friday, I was praying and dancing – with my new beautiful mandala hand drum – and putting peace and healing into the meditation/energy bubble I’ve described before. I had this vision of Hillary Clinton ushering in a reconciliation era. I felt almost elated! I danced and celebrated, and put all of my love into that vision.

The next day, I woke up feeling like such an idiot! I’m so stupid! Hillary won’t be permitted to lead our national recovery. They’re going to eviscerate her! They are going to make her pay so hard! They will never stop trying to SILENCE THE WOMAN. And they want the rest of us to witness what happens when we dare to speak.

I felt like crying. I felt hopeless.

And then I didn’t. Immediately, I thanked her again. She is the only woman who could break this final fucking ceiling. Whatever you think of Hillary Clinton, SHE has opened the door at last for women to be taken seriously in U.S. Presidential races.

The United States hates women as much as it hates black people. It’s shameful that it’s taken so long for a woman to break through that insistent wall of fear and desperation. Germany has Angela Merkel. England has Theresa May, and the Iron Lady was taken seriously decades ago. Israel had Golda Meir a lifetime ago! She was born in 1898!

But not here. Never here. Here, they don’t want to hear. SHUT UP, said white male privilege to every woman and every person of color. “It is the existential fear of displacement from a world that has slowly – too slowly, for too long – been chipping away at white male supremacy.” -Rolling Stone

Hillary Clinton was the woman to break through that blockade, not because her place in history is that of a peacekeeper. That woman is a warrior! She’s strong enough to take anything they say and do to her. And only that woman can handle what’s coming after she’s elected. She’s a battering ram! And she’s willing to do it.

So I’m grateful. I don’t love her perfectly. That’s a childish world view. Politics is messy business. No one is 100% happy 100% of the time. That’s dictatorship. But Hillary Clinton has accomplished things across both sides of the aisle, that make the world a better place. Deal with it.

Unfortunately, I doubt we’ll see any of that ever again. This bipartisan bullshit is an attempt by the Republican party to bring down everyone if they can’t have their way, exactly as they want  it. It’s so dangerous. It breaks my heart.

I can’t get bogged down by the futility of it all. I just have to believe in my ridiculous mystical bubble – and I do – and send all of my love into it. I can imagine myself into real visions of peace and cooperation, and when that sight takes the pain from my heart, I pray and pray and pray. “Let the world feel this, NOW. Let everyone who sees this in their heart send the power of their healing into the bubble, too, and make it grow!”

It goes in the bin with the other shit hippie chicks say, but it can’t hurt.

“Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.”
-Maya Angelou

drum

Tonight, I will go to a belly dance class, and come home to work on my next mandala. In this way, I’ll hear none of the nonsense that I don’t need. It’s done.

I’ve found that the repetition of each rotation brings on a trance state, where the mind forgets its being-ness, and what’s inside comes up. I’ve caught myself putting hatred and anger into these beautiful lines and curves, but I catch myself and stop. That’s huge. I’m developing the ability to watch my thoughts!

I want to pour love, joy, healing, humor, and everything beautiful about my inner nugget into these drums I’ve come to love so much. They contain prayers and magic!

Kumbaya, bitches!

womens-suffrage

Drawing on Strength

I’m in it, struggling through very painful days. I’m hurting, crying so hard, so much, for so long, that I’m almost angry knowing I will, as always, recover again. I don’t want to. I want to curl up. I want to be done with it. I’m over it! I’m in it.

I was encouraged to find a quote today by Albert Camus, another sojourner suffering in the ebb and flow of getting back up.

“In the midst of hate, I found there was within me an invincible love. In the midst of tears, I found there was within me an invincible smile. In the midst of chaos, I found there was within me an invincible calm. I realized through it all that in the middle of winter, I finally found that within me there lies an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” – Albert Camus

Fine as I know I will be, I’m not now. My best friend has been asking me to get trauma counseling. I keep hoping I don’t need it. What can they say that I haven’t learned, read, or tried? What can they advise that I’m not doing? I’m sitting honestly with discomfort, feeling it, looking at it, and getting up. I’m taking time for myself, but not isolating. I’m feeling joy, too, which is something I’ve not been able to do during other depressions.

Nevertheless, troubling self-destructive behaviors have taken firm hold. I’m smoking again. I’m bingeing. I’m back to my baseline: feeling not just worthless, but wholly unworthy. And last night, trichotillomania made its return to the stage, or my eyelashes, as the case may be. Luckily, I stopped myself before pulling my eyes completely bald, as I did – including brows! – in March 1997, before my most earnest suicide attempt on April Fool’s Day. I’m not suicidal now, but I’m not handling my shit. Nothing a little eyeliner can’t mask. But it’s time to call in reinforcements.

I start bi-weekly therapy next week. I’m also in Music Therapy, of course. This djembe workshop was inspired. I’m so glad I threw financial caution to the wind in time to pound some of this out each week.

Yesterday was particularly difficult. I cried for most of it. Wailing, sobbing tears on and off all day. I didn’t want to go to class, but I spent $120 on this thing! I’m not throwing that away! So get on my bike, I did, and whadya know but I found myself laughing and communing laughing again that this really is therapy.

Qinn, seeing me make a mistake and carry on, said – midbeat, without a blunder – “You know the difference between a professional and an amateur?”

I raised my eyebrows, missing another beat and continuing with the next.

“Recovery time.”

Yeah. I can do this. I am doing this. progress

Embrace the Unknown

I found this awesome quote that speaks to my life’s journey: walking into the unknown.

Growing up, I was required to KNOW what my family, friends and community knew, and to say so publicly. I never did, because I never knew. I tried to know. I studied. I prayed. I cried. I begged. Still, I didn’t know. I felt inferior, ugly, evil, angry, guilty, unworthy.

One day, I let it go. I turned around and walked into an abyss of no answers, no knowing, no script on how to live, no idea what to expect of my future. I took a lot of wrong turns. Ultimately, I found myself dancing in the question mark. I like not knowing.

“… Uncertainty is a great liberating gift to the psyche and the spirit. It’s walking the razor’s edge of the sacred moment where you don’t know, you can’t count on, and comfort yourself with any sure hope. All you can know is your allegiance to life and your intention to serve it in this moment that we are given. In that sense, this radical uncertainty liberates your creativity and courage.” -Joanna Macy