Can You See It In Your Mind? (audio)

I am Emily Dickinson with a smart mouth. I sit upstairs in this little room and write about staring out my window onto the same view day in and day out while thinking thoughts and dreaming dreams which come and go like the pink-streaked clouds, stretching and separating at dawn, only to evaporate entirely by the time the noon sun reaches its cruel summer peak.

You don’t need much of anything to write, I guess is what I’m saying. You don’t need good looks or fancy equipment or any kind of flash or status whatsoever. You just need your mind in its purest form, a mind unshackled by the rules and norms and restrictions of this stuck-up world. You just need yourself and a keyboard. Yourself and a notebook and a proper pen and by proper I do not mean expensive I just mean one that fits your hand perfectly and from which the ink flows the way you want it to, feels the way you need it to, and lasts a good couple weeks at least.

These are the rules and I make them up and share them with you as I sit in my spot overlooking nothing spectacular but thick green lawns which are made possible by the relentless assault of the haunt of suburbia, the sinister invisible cripple of climate crisis, and those silly little decrative floral flags people are always putting up in the dirt at the base of their hedges. I suppose if you cannot grow actual flowers, wedging a more expensive painted-on version of some will suffice if you are in any case fully out of your mind.

I’m not really Ms. Dickinson, of course. She was a rare, exquisite, and eerie talent who truly never went out much and I am just some rando poet writer author blogger, typing away in the hopes of making a connection with whatever the thing is that calls me to the page over and over again. Writing has been my love and my lover since I first became aware of it as an activity one could perform that would transport and transform me in the blink of an eye. You pick up a pen and you are a completely new person, a person other than just yourself, somebody bigger, someone with agency and power. A wizard, a sourceress, a demon, a magician. Writing makes you real in a way nothing else ever did or will or could. Because when you can write you can create anything at all and no one can stop you. You can say anything and mean it and then the next day think better of it and rewrite it to suit you better and better still.

Why on earth I have gone on rambling about writing this morning I haven’t the slightest but I will say that it feels mighty smooth and rich and good like this coffee I’m drinking now. Do you see me drinking coffee in your mind? Across the street there is a perfectly manicured house with a finely trimmed green lawn in front and under a tree on that lawn there are two robins fluttering around, chirping and smashing into each other in the air about six inches off the ground. I do not know if they are sexing or sparring but they repeat their strange dance moves until one or the other gets too tired to carry on. Mating is exhausting and grows less and less interesting with time.

Anyway, it’s all about making a kind of connection with the wilderness which aches and cries and flutters and smashes within. And of all the ways to truly untangle and dance with the soul, writing is by far the most sincere.

Sticky Seedy Sloppy Needy

His high pitched shrieky howling is on my last nerve. It’s before 6am on a Sunday morning, not that he gives a shit of course, being unable to tell time much less understand what it might mean for the people in his neighborhood, and I have the window open while trying to write a cover letter for my manuscript submission. Truth be told I do not know if the dog down the street losing his marbles is a boy or a girl but for some reason my first instinct with dogs is to think they are male and cats female, which I am certain is problematic in ways I’m not quite sure of but should be, but it’s early and I’m only one cup of coffee in, and again with the dog and its relentless yapping. Is it in a yard? Bring it in and give it food, christ. Do some fucking thing.

My Sunday morning tarot reading tells me that a chapter of my life has now come to a close. This explains a lot about how I feel lately, to be honest. Last night we had dinner at an outdoor bar-restaurant which used to be where I would go as a young thing to get drunk and hook up with boys. The place has been renovated but only just enough for it to feel a bit more sophisticated and slightly less seedy than it once was. Still, the ghost of twenty-something me was there in the sticky hardwood floors and the giant wrap around bar that took up the entire front room. The guys throwing darts and speaking too loud and too sloppily could have been the same tools as were there twenty years ago. Sex and cigarettes, booze and lust and an idiotic kind of intoxicated plea for the return of innocence. Some things never change I guess. Even as we shed our old selves and slip into our new ones, we all carry with us our own hungry ghost.

I don’t miss the way it was and I wouldn’t wish its return for anything in the world. But the uncomfortable pangs of nostalgia are as real as the natural human instinct to pine for the cheap thrill of dollar beers and messing around in the parking lot with a sexy guy you’d never be able to pick out of a line up after the buzz wears off around sometime in the evening the following day which you’ll inevitably spend face down on a mattress ingesting cold pizza and cursing your idiotic – and for some inexplicable reason, repeated – poor life decisions.

The dog down the street has suddenly quieted. I hope he’s okay and I’m glad he isn’t mine. I’m fond of having fewer and fewer responsibilities as the days roll on by. My kid is grown. My dogs were gorgeous and now they are wherever the spirits of dogs go to frolic in the soft grasses of eternity. The day job is the job and it stays where I leave it at 4:30pm.

I used to care what those guys back in the day thought of me. I used to need them to find me attractive and all the rest of the silliness I held in such high esteem as only a young lady was brought up to do whilst being shamed for it all the while. If the ghost of past me could see me now what would she think? She’d think I was such a fucking cliche. Married in suburbia surrounded by dogs, lawn mowers, and expensive SUVs. Lacing up my running shoes on an early Sunday morning when most people are sleeping in like normal. Headed god knows where but headed there faster than I, or she, ever could have imagined.

Dead Heat

It isn’t a butterfly exactly but it could be something similar, like a fire, like something which purifies, burns and then resurrects. A phoenix, is that what it would be? I just don’t want to ink something permanently onto my body that I can’t get behind, that I don’t feel absolutely belongs to me. I want a design which reflects the magnitude of the transformation I have gone through this year. Sober day one was six months ago but it could have been a lifetime, it could have been many years and it could have been yesterday. They tell you to take one day at a time because otherwise there is no reliable sense of time at all. You are ten thousand years old, you have lived and died ten thousand times, you are new born every morning, every evening, every minute of each and every day.

As it happens, this particular Saturday afternoon is gray, rainy, and not hot, which is a relief to me because I hate the heat. I am also not terribly fond of the sun or sunny days, though it seems they bother me less now that I am off the drink. I’d no idea how imbalanced my hormones, my inner chemicals and therefore my emotions and feelings, were – shot to shit by my daily indulgences. Did you know that drinking kills off your ability to experience pain and also pleasure, and not just pleasure from drinking but all pleasure from doing anything? It’s fucked up but it’s true. These days the thought of licking on an ice cream cone sends watery anticipation sliding all across my little pink tongue. Back then I couldn’t imagine wasting time, money or calories on anything that didn’t promise to sever my prickled senses from the unbearable pain of reality.

It is still strange to me, jarring in a way, to see people drinking in movies. I think because I have no immediate or instinctual desire to actually pick up and do it, too. I could never have watched people drinking before. Not without joining in. Whether they were with me in real life or not, drinking was always the thing to do around other people. Or alone, as it were. Didn’t matter. Only the drinking really mattered. Only the beautiful euphoria of the numbness softly blanketing my limbs and organs and brain. Maybe I’m not supposed to romanticize that part but christ it was so sweet, so smooth, so divine. And that is exactly why it is so hard to clutch sobriety close to your precious chest each time you think you want to drop kick it in the mouth. You know what rock solid bliss you’ve got but damn if you don’t still, sometimes, secretly, fantasize about what you once had. The shimmering siren of succulent self-abuse.

I should shower but I’m sick of showering every goddamn day. Instead I sit sipping coffee and observing the long tendrils of my lovely green ivy plant as they sway gently in the breeze which flows through my open bedroom window. I’m preparing to send my manuscript out to a very cool small press on Monday, they issued a call for submissions and they seem very genuine, very devoted to the beautiful craft of writing.

For no real good reason, I think of all the friends who have come and gone in my life and wonder what some of them would think of me now if they knew I was clean. It doesn’t matter. All of my old lives are very much over and done with. At this very moment I am all alone in a room not missing or wanting for anything or anyone. No cravings. No illusions about writing or alcohol or relationships or life in general. No nothing except for what is. And how this is what life is for the most part, little did I ever previously realize. Just empty nothingness, unchartered waves of peace and confusion on repeat. Until we crash in with our arrogance and greed and trembling anxieties, roughing it up just to fuck with the silence because the silence doesn’t answer to us and that pisses us all the way off, which the silence doesn’t care about either. It just stays and stays because it’s got nothing to prove and no one to please.

Sucker Punch

Early evening drapes itself in hazy light and a kind of warmth which is too heavy, too insistent. I finish my espresso as I stare out the upstairs window into the street. The sun is too high but that’s all I ever say. I’m dying to write but all that spills out of my empty brain are these few words worth so little. I read somewhere that fame is what most people crave not realizing it’s the best way to kill off your creativity. Privacy is a must, secrecy a necessity, and these days we are hella short on both. A friend sent me something by Hemingway about having to do the work of writing for no applause. I get that. I do that.

I used to do it with a lot more magic, a lot more lust and juice. Lust for what I am not really sure anymore. But I did have this thought earlier today as I drank coffee and stood at the copier machine: where has the magic gone? I swear I once had it. I once had poetry and desire, visions and hungers, thirsts, cravings. Part of my trouble, of course, I know. But also the beauty of words, their power to seduce, electrify, and enchant, once held me completely captive to their charms. I struggle to even grasp any of that now, in this muggy regular late afternoon. What used to excite me simply doesn’t anymore.

I pick up a black ball point pen. Draw snakes wrapped around long stemmed roses in the pages of my notebook. They are not very good but it doesn’t matter, really. You know, I wanted to tell you that when a sick kind of oppressive menace grips a culture, one that demoralizes, shreds, skins, deadens you inside, there are no marchers in the streets screaming about it, because of the deadness. It is not a ferociousness which cries out in the heat of night but a colossal silence, a cripple of inability to speak, to dream, to flower. Each day is the same as the last, each day is as gray and plain and sad but not impossible to get through. Just emptier. More vacant. The way it happens is the magic slides away. Dismay disorders the soul and clouds the eyes.

Tampon Luxury

In real life I despise the guy and everything he stands for. He hates women but disguises his hatred with grand performances of fake affection and by ‘disguises’ I mean hides it in plain sight for anyone who is paying the slightest bit of attention to notice which admittedly seems to be few and far between. But in my dream, I’m hugging him tight and crying on his broad sculpted shoulder as he soothes my hurting heart. I couldn’t tell you why it hurts so much exactly but I tell him it’s because no one understands me and that’s close enough to the truth if I have to use words to convey the jumble of emotions which lies tangled in a ball of ache somewhere between my chest and my throat. I’m inclined to explore the chakras there for clues to unlocking my highest potential but don’t because I am exhausted. I don’t want to lift a finger or even my head from the pillow when the day rolls out and tumbles in through my window, splashing me with its somber gray light.

I change my tampon and its like a fucking murder scene. They say these days in these times I shouldn’t put this information onto the internet but I am old enough now that my cycle is all kinds of over the place so whoever is *tracking* the intimate details of my very basic life can fuck all the way off. I pull on my hooded sweatshirt in an attempt to disappear my bloated creaky body entirely, put the coffee on in the hopes of feeling less dead inside, and wonder about all the girls out there who are already pregnant against their will and staring down the barrel of carrying a life to term in a way that can only end their own. Forced smiles have become forced births and we act like that is such a stretch from one to the other. We have made the girls and women into machines.

Across the street, the neighbors have strung-up a shimmery pink sign that reads Welcome Home Baby Girl and there are pink balloons everywhere, too. We all congratulate the young father who is hugging his little three year old before returning to the hospital to tend to the new mommy and I feel sick to my stomach. Maybe it’s because I’ve got my period or maybe it’s because the thought of getting pregnant literally physically sickens me. It always has. Baby making was never my calling and by calling I mean my desire. There is no such thing as a ‘calling’ we just want certain things for ourselves so deeply they won’t stop bugging us until we either get them, do them, or breathe our last breath trying to make happen one or the other. The problem is that capitalism tells us what we want is a cute sundress delivered overnight, the sexy glimmer of immediate satisfaction thereby stifling our much grander more beautiful, imaginative, and dangerous cravings long enough to bleed us dry of the cash it might require to obtain them.

Increasingly, and I am not about to say anything shocking mind you, the “United” States has become a most menacing place to live out one’s life or what remains of it. While you are so busy being secretly terrified of getting caught unsuspectingly in a mass shooting as you go to collect your Cinnamon Toast Crunch at the local grocery store, the high court slashes a line across your rights to do with your body what you decide is best for your body and that’s the end of it. Everything is a lie built on top of the biggest lie which is that white men get everything they want because they are entitled to take it and women are nothing at all except decorations or easy bake ovens meant to either pop out infants or die in the process of attempting to fulfill that duty. We are little pink balloons and ribbons which adorn the bloodiest of battlefields.

I was away for a week on vacation which was nice. I’m glad I am home now to sit alone with my laptop, my thoughts, and my words. Not writing for a week always feels very strange and sad. Even the morbid thoughts need somewhere to go. Especially the morbid ones. When I speak to people about the dire state of the situation here in the States I don’t seem to get anywhere. People are tired and they have developed a callousness or a fake facade so they don’t have to feel the obvious way we should. I get that. I do that sometimes, too. But I feel rage of a quietly destructive kind. Not the kind which takes screaming to the streets but rather which stands in the corner watching and plotting and seething with acute disregard for obedience. I feel like throwing away everything I have just to try to remove the stench of the life I have surrounded myself with. The life that made all of this oppression possible. All the shit I have bought and nonsense ‘safety’ I have bought into which made me such an easy target. Patriarchy chugs right on along because for the most part, you trap yourself inside of it all on your own. As is so often the case, the women do most of the work by gruesome design.

Sunday morning. Church goers, murders, theives. Liars, beggars, winners and losers and little to be done to change any of it. People post to Instagram their happy little ideas and bits. Photos no longer being good enough to really capture the essence of nothingness, each and every share is now a whole movie reel complete with intro and finishing credits. My god. I do not understand what we have become but it feels much too small and far too distracted like we are animals obsessed with pouncing upon a beam of light. Not because they know where it came from or why or what they need to catch it for, just because the illusion of something solid to hold onto appears to be climbing up the wall that happens to be in front of them. Much like this writing, in fact. It wanders and goes nowhere in circles and I know any editor would curse it all to hell. But these are my circles which may be nothing more than spirals of death and hot air yet I am so sick to death of dancing to any other person’s tune. Least of all those with any authority in this fucked up world at all.

What Makes You Bad (audio)

I place myself into the silence like sinking into the bath. Somewhere inside of me exists the void. I close my eyes and try not to think about it so it becomes my only thought. This is the hot searing burden of the heart to which the soul gave birth many moons ago. How often do you change course? If you had a map of all the stars could you find your way home in the dark? How would you know when you got there? How would you recognize your own arrival at the front entrance to your personal self?

I know nobody thinks about these things or at least very few or maybe everybody does but some bury it or cover it over with screen time or whatever. Yesterday I saw an ad for a razor blade so fine it is meant to be used to slough off the first layer of skin on your face. Your face. We are now shaving our faces as though there were not a million other activities to be performed in a given day.

I’m sick to death of looking at women altering their bodies. Doing weird shit to themselves while smiling so glowy white my eyes tear up just trying to watch.

I saw an app which will literally turn your image into a plastic looking doll or ‘model.’ Like the Barbie dolls I had as a kid (and for the record I adored tbh I mean the sheer satisfaction of slipping a tiny plastic hot pink high heel onto that tiny perfect plastic shapely foot was enough to make you think I wanted to be Prince Charming himself when I finally grew up enough to know what the hell was going on).

But there is something sinister in the way girls are encouraged to be bits of pieces, each one ‘perfected’ in its own tiny test tube and then glued back to the rest of the bits to make one doll. It’s so fucked up. What that does to you on the inside is fragment you, pull you apart in all directions and then forces you to look back at yourself without letting yourself see the stretch marks, cuts, and distortions. What a clever way to waste all of our goddamn time.

But I digress.

Exhausted of the minute by minute of a world which seeks to crush the living light out of women and replace it with serums, creams, and injections, I run an actual hot bath and lower my body into the steamy lavender water. They fuck with your dignity and mess with your power. They tempt you and lure you and break you clean straight through. And you hold yourself together so tight and so pretty and so ridiculous good until you realize good is something they made up and sold to you to make them cash and you useless. Good is what makes you want to be bad in the end.

Scorch

I’m toning the body and flexing the mind and all the shit you’re supposed to do to keep on top of things while living a life you only half understand. We like our women pretty and their bodies tight and their thoughts subdued. The currency in beautified, petrified silence.

As I walk the winding windy streets alone, a shower of apple blossoms descends into my long strawberry hair and I reach to touch their smooth pink petals just as a gust of fresh spring wind rushes through and casts them away onto the hard concrete. It’s that time of year when you can wear heavy boots and a tee shirt, or a chunky knit hat and flip flops. It’s warm and it’s cool in equal measure at any given minute, all the while the sweet scent of lilac swirls on the pollen-dusted air along with hints of wood fires burning somewhere off in the distance.

And distance is all there is these days, ways to measure it, ways to deny or cheat it, in the hopes it won’t drag you down. There is sorrow in my heart and a pulsing heat in my veins. Because the seasons may change but life never does. It ends as breathtakingly mysterious as it begins, out of nowhere, out of sight, out of the mind of anyone or anything but a god we’ve been making up since the beginning of time. Was time always a thing or was it the human creature who made it up?

No star has need for it. No planet ever speaks of arriving late or dashing out early.

Doesn’t matter. All I can tell you for sure is that the light is growing in the mornings as well as the evenings and while this may be comforting for some it has a kind of menacing effect on me. The darkness I can understand, I know what it wants and I can soothe it by letting it enter me, fill me, have me. I know how to breathe for it so it will trust me.

But the light can be deceiving. Perhaps because no one expects it to be. She’s just like the springtime wind, she will lick you cold as ice and you won’t even see it coming.

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

 

On Aligning with Your Soul’s Desire

This isn’t my usual type of content, but fuck it, it’s my space and I feel deeply compelled to write about some of the things that go on in my daily experience right now as they relate to the current climate of revolution sweeping across my country, and across the world.

I was speaking with a very dear and precious friend a few days ago, about living authentic lives, as in: lives which bring us joy, challenge, and fulfillment as women. And how we feel “crazy” when we follow our calling, our spirits, our soul’s desires. We feel misaligned, out of whack, but we also have never felt so alive, so renewed, so fulfilled, gratified, energized.

So OURSELVES.

And I got to thinking maybe we feel crazy when we are aligned with our spirits because our whole lives we were taught what we “should” align with was the world’s expectations of what we are supposed to do, who we are supposed to be.

This alignment with false promises put us at odds with who we were truly meant to be. Deep down, we knew it, but couldn’t name it. We longed for ourselves but looked outside instead, as all women are taught to do, for validation.

All our lives we were conditioned to believe aligning with the patriarchy, with capitalism, and with commercialism, was the right thing to do, the right way to be. So when we finally begin to align with our soul’s calling instead, we feel disjointed in exactly the way we are meant to on our journey to our Selves.

We are dislodging from our conditioning so that we may get in order with our Truth.

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Photo by Izabelle Acheson

Smile, Girl, It’s Not So Bad

Died of breast cancer. She was 57. Overdose. Dead at 34. Found dead in river. Her remains were discovered. Suicide. She was just 20 years old. Wife of… mother of… daughter of… We will sacrifice your children for the economy. I know it sounds harsh but, honestly, what do you expect? What is life when we have businesses to nurse back to health. Don’t worry so much. We will serve you alcohol until you are blue in the face and run out of money. Casinos now open! where the house wins once in a while and you lose everything repeatedly, the only toss up is whether it happens slowly over time or all in the blink of one night.

This is why I shouldn’t open my phone first thing in the morning, everybody knows that. It was a good weekend spent steadily ignoring everything and everyone else but you don’t want to hear about that. You don’t want to know how I spend my days and nights, you want to know if how I spend them adds up to anything you might want to take with you when you leave here. When you leave me. You want to know if it leads up to anything. Where is this story going? Where is the tension? What is the point?

You and me both, man. Sipping my coffee with sugar and cream and a running tab of the deceased ticking away on the screen. Here is the story behind the story, it is not finished and we avoid reading it let alone writing it. What does it mean to be a woman alive in the world today? Where are we headed if not straight toward the fear of the annihilation of our bodies. Our psyches. Our spirits.

And maybe you will close this tab and forget all about me and this story. Maybe you will decide my ‘content’ is too unnerving, bothersome, ‘pessimistic.’ Rude. Rude of me to say what’s on my mind if it isn’t a little prettier. A little more palatable. Come on, smile, darling. Cheer up. It isn’t so bad. And even if it is, kindly don’t be such a burden; don’t add to the atrocities by, you know, reminding us.

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Photo by Annie Spratt

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