The Thing About Turning 42 No One Tells You

At 7:23am today I will have been on this earth for exactly 42 years.

December 8th 1978 seems a long time ago. And no time at all.

Time is a funny thing that way.

Rushing towards you even as it is rolling on by.

Birthdays are a funny thing, too. They always make me feel reflective but often leave me with nothing of any substance or wisdom to say. Birthdays are more listening than speaking, perhaps.

Just another day in a string of days and nights spent searching.

And I guess forty-two isn’t monumental in any certain sense. Each and every life is different, follows its own pattern, trajectory, path, fabric, and star.

All my life I have been a poet at my core. Everything I write, create, imagine, dream about is, at its heart, in its soul, poetry.

It can be so excruciating to wander the planet with this kind of heart on the sleeve, with these kinds of feathered bones and soft stumbling feet.

All these years, how many times I have killed off and resurrected my own magic, my own desperation. So often I have felt I do not know myself, do not trust myself. Thought that maybe I’m just crazy to try and fit into this hellish earthly place.

But there is so much beauty, too. So much mystery. To be a poet is to trust the voice you carry inside. Submit to it, let it mold you, change you, grow you, expand you.

It’s a weird way to live, to feel, to exist, because you sort of feel like you are trying to express an emotion, or conjure up a vision that no one else can ever understand.

And somehow you know this, deep down. You know it is futile.

But when you are born this way, it doesn’t seem to matter how many times your little poet body swings around the sun.

There will always be a fascination which borders on obsession going on inside of you as you braid your soul into the love and the fear.

Even after all these years, I want to inhabit myself.

Even if it never fully satisfies.

Even if it scares me.

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Photo: self portrait 

At the End of the Day of the Longing Year (audio)

It’s that time of year when the rain falls at dusk and you secretly hope it turns to snow, just so you can smell its moisture kissing the bare concrete.

Gray on gray skies to match the gray on gray drizzle and mist.

Bones in the midst.

The skeleton of the year passes through your finger tips.

Light a cigarette.

Lose the phone and your clothes and everything inside that forbids you.

Looking out across the tops of the empty trees which tower high and spindly above the naked, weary, wet blackened streets, I pour whiskey. It burns hot like the few spiced candles flickering in my windowsill, and I nestle into my thick buttery leather couch by the fire.

Cozy blankets, waning late afternoon light. It’s that time of year when the world and your insides and the mood of the space you occupy in your small self begins to dim.

Ever since I was a child I have found comfort in the low light. Something about it is worshipful to me, reverent, sweet with solemnity. Gentleness. I am touched with the idea of the undoing of harm.

My skin tingles with ache. All I haven’t done. All I have left to do. Crawling toward me and away.

Something in the way the dirty white cloud cover mutes all of the anxieties which too often seem to scream inside.

Something in the shadows which climb the walls like so many enchantments, widening chasms of welcoming deep.

This has been a year of such cruelty, frailty, tenderness. A year on its knees.

There is something about a kind of silence which hangs in the center of the room of the heart. The constant softness of the beat of the truth.

So soft as to be nearly imperceptible.

But, nevertheless, steady, constant, unending. Unpretentious. Demanding by not demanding, it knows nothing of loneliness.

Though you do. How you know, how you know. How you reach, and reach.

Comforting and unnerving in its immobile presence.

Because you see, no matter how loud they get out there, there is a voice without sound repeating in here.

In the place beyond the body, beyond the mind, beyond the spirit, beyond the love, beyond the fear.

I’m still here.

I’m still here.

I’m still here.

And the darkness swallows the corners of every room of every longing all over the globe.

Little listless stars pierce the galaxy somewhere beyond the clouds, like so many eyes, covered, glistening. A showering light falls past the tearful distance.

After billions and billions of the beg and yawn of quaking years.

Warmth. Light. Crystal cold vacancy.

Still here.

 

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Photo by Laura Chouette

If 2020 Taught Me Anything It’s This

Somehow the radical reality of this year seems to be setting in as we are pushed into the holidays. I have no problems staying home. Staying in. Staying isolated.

Both because I want nothing to do with spreading the deadly virus, and because I’m just really, heavily, fully, mightily tired.

Learning to hold righteous rage in the same palmed fist with genuine compassion has left me feeling raw, shredded, exposed, and inadequate in so very many ways.

Being unable to hug the ones I love the most in this world has left me feeling a loneliness I never knew I could feel. A longing stretches out within me, a reaching, a craving for the kind of up close and intimate touching I always loved but now realize I took for granted, too.

I am a big bear tight squeeze hugger. Hugging is my favorite. Not in a creepy way, mind you, in the kind of way where it is just a flood of gratitude to be with each other. A tiny fleeting ecstatic celebration. That we have each other. That we can hold on and hold fast and know we are not alone hurtling through empty space.

A lot of empty space this year. And plenty of chaos, fear, terror, and turmoil to fill it.

So I’m not going to fill my holidays with screens or Zooms or chaos. I can’t stomach it. I can’t be bothered to do or be a single thing or way other than what I am. Exhausted. Over it. Done.

There will be plenty of delicious food, and many bottles of wine. There will be a table glowing with candles and set elegantly with silverware and crystal for my two greatest loves in all the universe, my husband and my son.

There will be holiday jazz.

There will be pine boughs on the mantle.

There will be pajamas all day and an endless number of cut logs blazing in the fireplace.

Warm hearts and laughter and complete and total ignorance of the outside world.

I need my bubble now. I need to reconnect with the beauty of nature and the quiet thorough joy of reading for hours on end. Leftovers. Sleeping in. Twinkle lights.

The thing about 2020 has been the countless ways it has broken, stretched, and shattered my insides. The hard lessons. The breathtaking manner in which people and events, culture and society, have snapped me wide awake.

Hit me like a lightening bolt over and over and over again.

But the truth is you cannot stay awake forever. You will go insane.

So for now, rest.

For now, enough.

For now, peace in our tiny homes.

In our little trembling hearts.

 

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Photo by Joyce Huis

 

 

America, What the Fuck

I live in a country where Kyle Rittenhouse gets out on two million dollars bail, praised, uplifted, …. and rumors of some bullshit deal with a coffee company? It’s so stupid I didn’t even bother looking into it.

He murdered two people in the street in plain sight.

He’s a kid. He’s old enough to know. By seventeen, you know a lot of things. You have learned what is right, what is wrong. What you have been encouraged, expected, even, to become.

A hero. A murderer. What are these words we use? On which we cannot agree? What is sickness? What is health? What is criminal? What is commercial?

I live in a country where we incarcerate for profit. Entire lives are thrown away for money. Depends, of course, on what you look like. Not what you did. That’s always, somehow, debatable.

This administration is dragging its buffoon clown feet on transitioning. What absolute fucking fools. What completely ignorant useless bastards.

People are dying. Starving. Jobless. Homeless. On the precipice of eviction just before the bitter cold of winter sets in hard, dark, and indifferent.

And the ones who could help, they turn their backs.

The rich and powerful head on home to their glossy marble fireplaces and turkey dinner super spreader events as the doctors and nurses cry alone in their hotel rooms, watching their babies through small screens.

There is wealth in this country. And there is bankruptcy. Humanity and inhumanity. Money, morality, hope, despair, agony, agony, agony.

My heart has been so heavy with grief and rage for so long. When all around things are bleak and mean and growing worse.

Yes, Biden. Yes, a vaccine. Yes, good people. Yes, yes, yes. I know. But those are hopeful cures for ills we are not even sure how to name yet. They may help, sure. But we are sicker underneath than we want to admit.

Is this what exceptional means? Because it’s a fucking joke right now. Right here. Here in the ‘greatest country on earth’ where half of us care with every fiber of our beings and the other half simply don’t care at all in the least.

It’s enough to make you sick. And quite honestly, I’m not interested in sugar coating anything. I want to acknowledge it. Finally.

For four years I have been “holding on.”

Well, now I’m letting go. Letting go of trying to pretend things are not as disgusting as they are. I’m exhausted. I’m tired. And I have so much privilege. And even still, I am spent.

I imagine what it’s like for those on the front lines of this pandemic. Risking their lives everyday so some assholes can recklessly spread a disease while claiming there is no disease.

Is this what we are now? We just completely disregard life itself? Kick in the teeth of the most genuinely good, selfless, and decent among us?

We are so ugly. We are so cruel. We are so divided and perverted and lost.

This is not an uplifting post, obviously. I didn’t plan to write it, just like I wrote a lot of things I didn’t plan on writing this year.

Plans seem ridiculous anyway.

But I had to say all of it. I am sick to death of people not just saying it. All day long, the smiles, the idiocy, the holding it in and holding it back and not having the ability to see what’s right in front of our ignorant faces.

For months I have researched and read articles, journalists, posts, op-eds, books, commentary, listened to podcasts, interviews, IG lives, and all the rest. Trying to understand. Trying to pull apart the lies from the truth.

To pinpoint some kind of guiding star glittering above the rubble this nation has become.

I know it’s there.

There’s just so much dust and sadness in my eyes right now I cannot see.

Thanksgiving is this Thursday. A bit of a break from the daily stuff for a few days. I am thinking of taking a social media break, too. I can’t keep up, I can’t stomach any more of the last gasps of this wholly incompetent and deliberately sadistic administration.

It’s an absolute bloody clown horror show.

Fuck every single one of the people who could have stood up and spoken truth to power to protect our democracy but didn’t. They do not give a single fuck and we should not compromise with a single one of them.

We are beyond the merits of a few individual actors. The GOP as a whole is a monstrous machine.

There is no compromise with bigotry. They can come over to our side if they want but the hell if we should move a single inch toward their nihilistic nonsense.

Fuck being nice. Fuck ‘understanding.’

I understand perfectly.

I see exactly what they’ve done.

 

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Photo by Gijs Coolen

 

New Podcast Episode: How to Be a Prolific Writer, Thanksgiving Plans, and Harry Styles is Hot in a Dress

In this week’s episode, Mark and I chat about all manner of writing topics including what helps us stay prolific, what drives our creativity, and what it feels like to write from the depths of the soul.

We have a few very interesting Ah-Ha! moments with fresh insights into the secret to getting your work out there and busting through writer’s block.

We also, of course, get into the modern culture stuff: the nonsense that is Twitter fleets, the pure joy and deliciousness that is Harry Styles in a dress, and so much more.

It’s been A WEEK. Come relax, laugh, and be inspired with us!

Listen to our podcast Spacetrash on Spotify here or wherever you listen to podcasts.

 

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Photo by Zino de Groot

You Do Not Need to Apologize for Being Intelligent

You do not need to apologize for your intelligence.

The number of times I have been attacked, shamed, ridiculed, mansplained, dismissed, unfriended, laughed at, yelled at, punished, humiliated, ignored, told to be quiet, told I talk too much, all because I am a woman with a brain, intelligence, and savvy, and am highly capable of critical and creative thought is an enormous amount of times.

Because this trash is normalized. It spreads rapidly, sometimes almost imperceptibly, through our culture, society, community, family.

We are “uncomfortable” with intelligent women being intelligent – exploring and displaying their intelligence unapologetically in their daily lives.

In public.

In full view.

Out loud.

So we patronize them.

We minimize them.

Cut them off.

Cut them down.

And so we women have to lean into that discomfort. Press it. Make them feel it. Don’t let up. Wake up. Pay attention to what is really happening when someone makes light of your thoughts, your intelligence, your ideas. When someone makes fun of you or dismisses you for knowing more than they know.

You are scaring them.

You are upsetting the balance of power they need you to believe in in order for it to continue to exist.

Fuck that.

Do not shrink yourself to make them feel more comfortable. Expand yourself. Expand your mind. Your reach. Your prowess.

Say what you know. Say what you think. Say what you believe. Tell of what you experience. Speak and breathe your ideas, visions, and thoughts into writing. Into art. Into existence. Into the light.

There are many, many deeply thinking, extensively well read, well researched, well spoken, powerfully moving women of every race, orientation, and background.

Seek them out. Read them. Uplift them. Pay them. Support them. Follow them.

And if you are one of these women – one of us – please don’t ever, ever let up.

No apologies.

No regrets.

 

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Photo by Yohann LIBOT

 

Conspiracy Theory: The Bottom Is There Is No Bottom

If I hear about one more conspiracy theory I will absolutely lose my mind, which is, of course, exactly what the ghouls are hoping so it only makes me feel worse.

It is disheartening to watch so many people succumb to lies, disinformation (what the fuck is that anyway I am tired of that word it is way too polite a term for lies), manipulation, abuse.

They don’t think Trump will burn this entire country, world, earth to blackened char but he absolutely will if given the chance. And too many people who should stand in his way don’t.

Last night my husband and I had a heated argument about the QAnon bullshit. He doesn’t believe it but he wants to know what the people who believe it believe.

It was a stupid fight as so many are but round and around we went about what is to be gained if anything by digging into the muck and trying to make some kind of sense out of it.

And somewhere between his passionate points and mine I thought: this is how it happens. This is how it makes us tear ourselves apart. How it makes us do it to ourselves, little by little. The fabric tears.

Little couples, little friends and family and people all over the world in their little homes smoking their silky Parliaments and screaming about what is true and what is not and not hearing a single word of it for what it is.

Not knowing.

But wanting to. Needing to. Trying to.

Not being able to ignore that one tiny shred of doubt.

But what if…?

But what about…?

But how can you be sure…?

But who told you and what is their angle?

Really, tho?

They will tell you not only that we need not tell the truth anymore but that the truth doesn’t even matter at all.  And so the war blossoms like a desert flower underneath the raining ash. The war against thinking. The persecution of the scientist, the writer, the intellectual.

The rage against the mind.

The merciless bludgeoning of the psyche.

And so begins the newsfeed. A couple dying together in an overcrowded ICU. Smothered by a disease they do not believe exists.

This can’t be happening. It’s not even real.

Fear is fear and truth is fake.

The people dying are not dying. They aren’t even there.

He tells me he just wants to understand. He just has to get to the bottom of it so he knows how to defend his position. Our position.

Protect us. Protection. Against?

Know thy enemy.

I know. If I know one thing it is that the enemy is invisible as he turns you against me, me against you.

I pour more wine and watch the smoke curling in gray circles up inside the dark brick cavern of the fireplace. And I think about how the point of their conspiracy theory games is to make sure you want to get to the bottom of them.

And that you never will.

There is no bottom. Once they’ve got you, it is an endless fall.

Falling and falling, grasping for invisible walls.

 

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Photo by Sonia Kardash

The Polarizing Duality of America’s Souls

“You cannot unify that which is diametrically opposed.” – Janaya Future Khan

The word diametric comes from a straight line drawn across a circle, or a diagonal line which cuts the circle straight down the center. The two end points of that line are considered the exact opposites of each other, they are the two extremes. They could not be more different from one another.

But are they not, in a way, unified?

They may be opposite ends of the line, but they are still together on the same circle.

In America, we are at a point where the two extreme sides cannot be more opposite and also cannot be more clear. And we are grappling with what to do about this. There is talk of compromise, talk of unity, of reaching across the aisle, of listening to each other, hearing each other.

Coming together.

But we are together. We are unified. We just don’t like what we see or how it is playing out. We are unified in our fighting against each other. It is the fight, the fight which is that straight line, which connects us and keeps us apart.

Perhaps, some of us, want to be unified in peace, in not fighting. But the only way that happens is if one side dominates. Gets bigger than the circle so much so that the circle we are currently on together collapses.

We have this notion, as many a politician on both sides has expressed, that we are in the “battle for the soul of the nation.” Which implies, of course, that there is one single soul among all of us, that which we are “fighting for” which I suppose implies a fight over defining what our soul is, who we are, what we stand for, what our vision is for the future.

I assume it implies our soul is the best in us, of us, among us.

But “best” is what we do not seem to agree on. The definition of “best” for one side means justice, for the other injustice. For one side best means equality and for the other best means inequality. For one side it means fairness, honesty, truth, for the other it means cheating, rigging, stealing.

In a recent article in The Atlantic, Ibram X. Kendi speaks to the idea of the two souls of America. Justice and Injustice. That the battle is not for the soul of the nation but between the souls of the nation.

Kendi writes:

“Humans lie about themselves, like they lie about their nations. Humans and nations hide behind the cloak of ideals and intentions. But the outcome of what humans do and what nations do is never a lie. The outcome—what comes out of a nation’s policies, practices, and ideology—is what a nation breathes. Nations—like institutions and individuals—are not inherently anything. They are what they do. What they do is what they breathe. And what they breathe is their soul.”

I feel this. Because there are some things we cannot solve with a “reaching across the aisle.” There are certain people, certain groups, with which we cannot compromise. To do so would be to destroy our own dignity.

When one side holds a march led by white supremacists declaring their murderous violent hate, and none of the other members of that side, even if they claim to be less “extreme, ” loudly and vehemently demonstrate that that is not in fact who they are, what their soul is, then there can be no unity on a higher plane of existence.

We will remain unified only on a circle which permits this battle to continue in perpetuity. Round and around our diagonal line will go, and we will be unified without ever reaching each other.

Right now as I sit typing this, there is a tension in my chest. A tension in my being. Something telling me that only one side, one soul, can prevail. And obviously I do not have all the answers, but I am drawn to look deeper, to understand more clearly what it is we are up against, to think critically about this.

Because for now, it would seem we are only connected by the fight which is keeping us apart.

 

 

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Photo by Andre Benz

It’s Not Happiness We Want – It’s Wilderness

I don’t think ‘happiness’ is the thing we’re after. I think we want stimulation. Work to do with our whole body, mind, soul, spirit, and being.

We don’t want more blueprints, we want more wilderness. To trust our wild.

Which has nothing to do with recklessness. You would not observe a beautiful wolf in all of her prowess and majesty and consider her wild reckless. No.

Wild is deeply, deeply connected to clear vision. To a heightened and steady awareness of self, attentiveness to self and surroundings.

A deep unshakable instinct. A sureness. A deep trust of self. Of intuition.

It knows the pangs of its own hunger. The growl of its own desire.

It does not apologize for what it is. It has no reason to. It knows the tenderness of its own nature. The protectiveness of its own nurture.

It does not need to scream or argue or prove its existence or its worth. Wild knows it is alive, makes no excuses for its reverence toward the natural world.

She takes her place in the cycle of cycles, bows to the seasons as they turn within her, over and over again, renewing, regenerating.

My wild is poetic. Sensual. Dark. Spiritual. Intuitive. Quiet. Fierce. Intelligent. Expressive. Observant. Nimble. Obsessive. Curious. So curious.

Your wild is you. It is you untamed. It is you most free, most real, most powerful. Most naked. Most unashamed.

And the thing is, ‘happiness’ is fine but it is fickle, it is fleeting, you cannot trust it because it cannot sustain you through thick and thin. It is not strong, wide, or deep enough.

But your wild, mm. It is the only part of you that knows the way. The way of expression, the way of life.

And you can choose to trust your wild or not.

But you can never separate yourself from it.

 

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Photo by Matheus Ferrero 

We Won. What Comes Next? (audio)

After the election was called for Biden on Saturday November 7th, I called my people and we cried and screamed and laughed and finally, finally, exhaled.

We did it. It was official. We won.

As did future generations. As did the world. As did science, truth, dignity, and grace.

There are too many reasons to be grateful to list them all here. If you voted for Biden you know why you did, and you brought about this phenomenal win for this country.

Against so very many odds.

Against a machine that was actively and aggressively trying everything it could to silence us. Which is still trying, pathetically, recklessly, dangerously, to pull the nation into chaos in a last ditch effort to uphold some sort of deranged bullshit form of alternate reality.

Lawsuits. Lies. Fear mongering. It’s all petulant nonsense, but they will push and pound and tantrum over it for months.

And to be honest, I spent the last four years feeling an undercurrent of anxiety so strong I felt like paying attention to the news was like a survival mechanism. I thought that as long as I see what is happening and stay vigilant, I would see what was coming before it hit.

Before it could get me. Before it could hurt the people I love. By staying engaged, I thought I would see it coming in time.

But the problem is, that the greatest threat to our future is not what is about to come next. It’s what we have refused to deal with from our past. Our own apathy, cynicism, laziness, ignorance.

It’s thinking none of this is our responsibility. It’s our thinking someone else will care so I don’t have to. It’s our refusal to talk politics. It’s in not protecting those who have the least.

It’s what we took for granted. What we refused to understand, or support, or do, or say.

So when I think about what comes next, I think about the things I considered normal before which I do not want to return to.  I think about who I was before and who I want to be on the other side of this thing. Because in a very real way we are on the other side.

We made it through. We must celebrate this phenomenal victory. We must. And we must take a breath, let it sink in, let it fortify us. Think about what comes next.

For me, I’m going to spend time reflecting on what I have learned over the past four years, and there is so very much. I want to make sure I remember how far we have come. The people I would never have met if it weren’t for this radical time. Incredibly powerful, mighty, gorgeous people.

One thing is for sure. Now we see who values human life and who does not. Who truly wants equality and who does not. We know the hideousness of outright cruelty and how dangerously close we came to fascism taking full hold in America.

We know who to align with and who to leave behind.

There are demons in me I had to confront. Ugliness, hatefulness, that I have been forced to reckon with inside of myself.

And that’s ok.

I owe it to the people I have found who believe in a brighter more dignified future to work out my own issues, whatever it is in me that was keeping me quiet when I should have gotten loud. Whatever it is in me that had caused me to shrink instead of expand.

Being forced to fight, it turns out, teaches you how to fight. We learned, we adapted, we organized, we were relentless, we were fierce and bold and true in our compassion.

The thing we fought so hard to uphold, a democratic republic, has been saved because we saved ourselves. And what was at stake will always be what is at stake: our lives.

 

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Photo by Maria Lysenko