Midlife Dating Problems

My cousin had his 50th birthday celebration last weekend, and a new guy showed up. Instant click. I asked why I’d never met him at our family parties, where Jon and Jenny’s amazing friends are always in attendance. They’re co-workers, and rotating time-off prevented such a happy meeting. (English professor, for god’s sake. I’m in love.)

We hung out and talked, laughed, drank all night. He stayed for the duration, and helped with venue clean-up at 2am. I got home to a Facebook friend invite and decided, “Hell. Go for it.” I asked him out.

“Oh,” he answered. “I enjoyed your conversation, too, but I’m married.”

Hahahahaha!

“Oh, man! I knew you had a son, but I didn’t even check for a ring!”

“Uhhhh, I take it off to exercise and forgot to put it back on.”

“Bastard! I OWN you!”

We went on, as effortless as the moment we met, and closed with me inviting him to join us for future family gatherings, and to bring his wife and son. “It’s a family affair. My cousin’s have the best friends. I look forward to seeing them as much as my own family at these things. I love to observe happy marriages, too, so bring yours! Also, I feel entitled to crucify you for this.”

It happens when you’re old and single.

SOLD! (in half an hour!)

Since I started making drums, my cousin has been talking about buying one. Yesterday, I posted my most recent and she messaged on the spot, “That’s my drum!”

It was really interesting, because I had only that moment got a sense of the drum’s energy, and added that thought to the description of my experience with it. The moment I saved the edit, she messaged. I think it was her energy I felt! I really do. It was thrilling.
moon-drum
13″ on wood frame, w/ mallet
$200 (family discount price $100)
(You could talk me down, too. Order yours today!)
1.11.17

This is my first departure from the original sun/ sunflower center (sort of), and I’m really happy with it. I struggled deciding what colors to tenatively map out. Usually, I can picture how each color option will look on each round, how it will “speak” to what came before it, and how it dictates what remains. I could not get a picture in my head! This is no small thing. I was in fits and couldn’t proceed for over a week. Ultimately, this one ended up completely surprising me, and it was so exciting!

I also didn’t “trance out” as much with this drum. What’s happened with others is a mindless escape that I don’t notice until … well, until I notice it, I guess, and then that drum has its signature somehow. Their personalities really come out of absent imagination. This drum was exciting in a very cerebral way. I concentrated and stressed quite a bit, but I feel more proud, almost. I have that satisfied sense of hard work paying off.

There is a feeling to it. Except for that spectacular lavender burst, it has a softness. Mostly, I just think it’s beautiful.

SOLD!!! To my cousin JoAnna!
I KNEW this drum felt gentle! It suits her.

drum corner.jpg

I love this little corner!

I was going to clean the house yesterday and run some errands. Instead, I decided to eat marijuana and have a day of ceremony and dancing with my cousin’s drum. Oh man, I had some visions! Or I was stoned. Whatever. Powerful, wonderful, hilarious, joyful day.

(P.S I didn’t “trance out” with this drum because I didn’t eat funny brownies making her, haha! I haven’t quite recovered from that deathly flu – A MONTH AGO, grrr – and felt lousy. Didn’t want to waste good communion on a body with no strength or energy. I didn’t mention that on that description above, because I post those on Facebook and my sweet Mormon mother sees me there. She knows, but, you know. )

(Btw, the flu triggered a son-of-a-bitch of a Fibro flare. Like, one of the worst that just will not relent. I have no time for it, because I’m rehearsing a show and I don’t pace myself there. OWWWW! Marijuana helps, a lot, but I can’t walk around talking about Spirit all the time. People think I’m crazy enough with a filter!)

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!

I Needed That

new-moonI finally made it to a New Moon Sister Circle. It was just what I needed to snap out of it! We discussed what the new moon in Virgo might look and feel like, and my friend Bonnie said, “I’m just glad Mars is out of retrograde!”

“Is that what’s been going on?” I asked.

All of the women laughed and exclaimed. Everyone, it seemed, had an example of how she was either contrary or useless.

I’ll take it! I’m content to chalk it up to the stars and let it go. I’ve been beating myself up trying to demystify and define that months-long funk, but now I don’t feel so much pressure to learn something from it. It’s done. I’m fine.

The next day, I went to my niece’s wedding and had such a lovely visit with my family in Idaho. The reception was at my sister’s house. It was a dream country wedding, with hay bale couches covered in denim comforters, kids running everywhere, and chickens clucking and crowing in the background. I can’t think of a more pleasant time I’ve shared with my family. I got to hold my first grandniece, all of 2 weeks old and only 6 lbs!

My roommate and I went back to his ranch for Labor Day. It was a wonderful follow-up to my own family visit. His family made me feel right at home, and we spent the evening singing Broadway hits, old classics, and camp-style rounds.

Yesterday, we went to the Mountain Man Rendezvous in Ft. Bridger, Wyoming. Today, we canoed, rode horses, and I chopped wood.

Oh, and I finished my drum!mandala

on casper

Casper the Friendly Horse got a little feisty, especially when Bella kicked in front of us!

riding horseschopping wood 4

Aug. 28th, we climbed to Timpanogos Cave National Monument.stalagtitesdripping rust

Here’s one from my artist niece’s Blessingway on Aug. 12th. blessingway
5 days later, Violet arrived! ~ August 17, 2016 ~violet
On Sept. 2nd, my sporty niece married a fellow marathoner.kolten-and-em

I Forgot Again!

I locked my keys in the car for a second time in 3 weeks!

At least there’s a method to my madness, irritating though it may be. It took a second lockout to get it. Having been chauffeured for the last decade, I only had to worry about throwing down gas money and not how to get back in the car.

Whenever I go camping, hiking, anywhere I don’t want to carry my purse, I have to take special care to see keys in hand when I lock up. I stopped at Crystal Hot Springs yesterday on my way home from Idaho and didn’t think of getting back in the car until I took a few steps and decided to go back for lip balm. Doh!

The locksmith was quick and cheap – and covered by insurance – so I wasn’t delayed too long getting into the highest mineral content waters in the world. Aaah…

****

It was such a great visit! My nephews are the cutest! I played for 2 days straight with the 2-year-old, and cuddled the 1-year-old during movies I hadn’t seen in decades, “Monsters, Inc.” and “Finding Nemo.”

I’m pretty sure the neighbors were glad when I left. I brought my drums. 🙂

My sister and 2 nieces were there. They’re always fun to tease and the little boys adore them. I love my family when Melanie’s husband isn’t around.

While we colored eggs, my dad and brother got talking politics in a nearby room (i.e. denigrating Democrats and the President). “Obama is an amazing leader…” I hollered, “who would serve this country and the world in ways you couldn’t imagine if the Republicans wouldn’t block him at every turn just for the sake of tanking his Presidency!” [and who has accomplished great things in spite of their efforts]

They razzed me with no acrimony and my niece asked, incredulous, “You like Obama?”

“I absolutely do!”

During clean-up, I found a forgotten egg. Dark as the dye could stain, it emerged clear as day – no need for adjustment, a message arose from the ether – “Obama blows.” I belly-laughed, hard, and praised my brother’s forbearance.

“I could never hold out that long for pay off. Well done!”

****

Obama rocks.

Jojo Dancer

My little sister-friend got married and moved to Germany last Fall, so I bought her car 6 months ago today. Here’s the report on my ugly little Hyundai Accent named Jojo Dancer, after her previous owner.

She had 128,001 miles the day I bought her. I’ve added 3,147, averaging 29.6 miles to the gallon. She hasn’t had a hiccup. Or a bath.

I gained 15-20 lbs within months of leaving the bus-n-bike lifestyle. (Until New Years, I only learned my exact weight at doctor’s appointments, but I know where I hover.) Of course, now that I’ve added yoga I’m down 8 lbs, and I’m seeing muscles I never had before. Wee!

Speaking of yoga, and the fresh confrontation with pain I’ve been negotiating this year, I remembered something random the other day. In a Spanish class in college, we had to stand and introduce ourselves: name, age, what I’m like, what I fear.

“Me llamo Christie. Nunca pregunte a mujer su edad. Soy hablante. Tengo miedo de dolor.” I’m Christie. Never ask a lady her age. I’m talkative. I’m afraid of pain.

“Well, yeah,” the professor dismissed me. “Everyone’s afraid of pain.”

“No, like phobic. I have knots in my stomach just thinking about it. I’m not afraid of dying; I just don’t want it to hurt.”

I used to say to my best friend growing up, “At least if I have to cry the tears of the damned, I have a strong body that doesn’t hurt.”

How could I have forgotten that pain was my biggest fear? I’m living my biggest fear! I once went to a psychic who said, “Oh, that’s interesting. You came to see how much you could stand.”

“K?”

“You push everything as far as you can, just to see how much you can take. Start to look at your life that way and see what you find.”

I do! The will I/(probably)won’t I of motherhood. The (non)career/low-income life I’ve chosen. The abusive/devaluing relationships. I thought The Unmarriables were a result of my upbringing, feeling abandoned, unworthy of love, unable to love and be loved. But, being an imaginative mystic myself these days, I follow it further. I think I chose my childhood and family – possibly to see how much I can stand.

I believe in reincarnation. In my last between-life phase I examined what I learned in the life I just left in the context of the lives that came before it, and looked at what I wanted to conquer in the next, to learn and accomplish, to see, to feel.

I think I came here for exactly what I got. I came to discover my strength. In the context of community (i.e. I couldn’t be dropped in the wild and make it), I can do anything. It’s crazy to have such confidence, but nothing can crush me. I’m tough as hell. What’s to fear?

I even think I chose to come up in an extremely religious culture. Those are some serious eternal consequences to contend with! And it isn’t easy to be shunned and shamed.

So much of my time is freed, not scrambling for survival. I get to explore, wonder, play, find, relax, love, dream, laugh.

If I’m honest, I’m kinda bitter to have both the psychological trauma of my childhood and early adulthood and now the physical pain of mid-life and beyond (which terrifies me). However, I would say to my best friend today, “At least if I have to suffer the pains of the damned, I’m not emotionally tortured anymore.”

She say’s I’m a Fucking PollyAnna, always finding the silver-lining, but don’t mess. 🙂
happiness

An Anniversary I Didn’t See Coming

It was as simple as explaining to my therapist my history on the guitar, and why I’m not starting lessons tomorrow after all. (Yoga has aggravated my wrist a bit. I’ve decided not to add another stressor until it settles and I’m stronger.) It all came back.

I played the guitar at Boise State. It was a beginning class, and I excelled. “I don’t know why I didn’t follow through with it,” I wondered aloud. “Oh! Oh, my god! Uh, because my roommate tried to kill me and I was scurried to a cement dorm for one week, where I convulsed and cried, and aced my finals before going home.” (3.8 GPA, thank you.)

I regaled my therapist with the tale of The State of Idaho vs. Roger T. Black. I was the key witness. It’s pretty gross. (Read my history – How I Got Here – if you want the gory details.) The only thing that remained in the retelling was seething anger at my parents.

HOW COULD THEY NOT SUE BOISE STATE FOR MY TUITION AND RENT? I could have crucified that school with punitive damages, and I wish I had. I was too young and traumatized to think of it. I know if I were to ask my parents about it now they’d claim non-litigious humility, but Boise State injured me! I shouldn’t have to pay for the privilege!

I’m disgusted at the inferior adult guidance I had.

I had a nervous breakdown after my first semester. (I went back for more, but could scarcely get out of bed.) The difference in my wellness was marked. I’d struggled all my life in a bad relationship with my mother, angry and drowning in a tragically dysfunctional family, but I was perfectly absent after that semester. I look back now, stunned. I don’t know how I climbed out of that. ALONE. How could they not take care of me?

There’s a handful of circumstances in which they DID NOT DO THE BEST THEY COULD. I think that’s a bullshit platitude, and I’m sick of it. My parents failed to do their JOB. They consciously ignored a medical emergency. You should have seen me. When I wasn’t catatonic, I was flailing, fighting, trying to fix, clean, contain… something!

I know I slipped through the cracks in some regards because we just weren’t as sensitive to issues of mental health 20 and 30 years ago, but after Boise State I broke. Because of Boise State, I broke. It would been obvious in the 50s that the young lady needed a doctor.

WHY DIDN’T MY PARENTS HELP ME? EVER?!!!!! I’m so ANGRY!

And they’re in medicine! Sanctimonious hypocrites! They’re so smug about Obamacare. They know everything about how “socialized medicine” will fail us, because they’re in the business. THEY DIDN’T EVEN TAKE CARE OF THEIR OWN DAUGHTER!

After that, there were 5 or 6 suicide outcries, a term I detest for the suggestion of faking. I meant it on April Fools 1997, learning at last the difference between an attempt and a cry for help, or simply the desperate willingness to do anything to escape that moment’s agony. I think I only tried to kill myself twice. I OD’d more times than I know; I knew as soon as I started swallowing gobs of pills I’d stop feeling. I became a machine. Then I’d try to lay down, but invariably ended up driving myself to the emergency room for a tube down my throat, wretching suction and a gut full of charcoal, never telling a soul.

Why didn’t The State of Idaho offer trauma counseling? What of victim’s rights?

What parent wouldn’t insist on care for their child after something like that? Even if I seemed fine? (And I didn’t!) They didn’t do their best. They didn’t do anything. I was in crisis! Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is real, and I already had it from growing up verbally, emotionally, physically, and sexually abused. I can imagine, though it’s a stretch, that they hoped my earlier problems were average adolescence, but when I got home from Boise I was a shell. I was spiking and raging all over the place, because there was nothing left in me. I was trying to force “me” … out! But I was gone. All attempts at interaction were like being in space, grasping but floating away. I was dead in there!

I was in danger, and my parents ignored me. Again.

Shame. Shame. Shame.

It wasn’t until I left therapy today that I remembered when it happened. Initially, I couldn’t even recall what time of year it was, but it didn’t take long to go back. I came home in that condition for Christmas break. Twenty years ago.

****

Goddamn, I’m an insufferable optimist. Yes, I’m angry that no one looked out for me. Right now, it chaps my hide that I could fairly have got my hands on hundreds of thousands of dollars for Boise State’s complicit indifference, which very seriously endangered my life and leaves me with scars to this day. I’m not the same. I’m suspicious, jaded, angier, harder.

That being said… Good god, I’m strong! I’m really amazed by me right now. Not just my survival. My thrival! I find beauty in everything! I still have enthusiasm and belief. I have hope and joy and humor. I see the good. I must. The fact that I can come through my life and be this playful, joyful and loving is amazing!

I see the good.

I often regret that I was so slow to start my life, but I spent 20 years re-parenting myself. Mine were pretty pitiful examples, if you ask me, so I literally didn’t know how. They’re not bad people. Good, in fact! But they failed me. They did not parent me. I did. And I’m a pretty good kid. Musta done something right.

~ BSU ~ Bullshit for You! ~
bsu