FREAKING OUT

24 03 2017

Well, that has to be said in all caps. no?

I am scurrying about mentally. What the Buddhists say about “monkey mind” – well, I’m waaaaay past that. I am German Tanzmaus scurrying…

We saw these guys in a pet store in Germany and they actually never stop. I figure I have about three of these in my mind at the moment.

  1. Iceland!!! I haven’t been overseas since my firstborn was 18 months old. 28 years ago! (Well, except Havana, but that’s on this side of the ocean, seems familiar somehow, and besides I had my kids with me). I’m travelling alone. I am so sick of travelling alone. I’ve gone to Newfoundland and across Canada alone and I know I can do it, but I find my anxiety grows as the spaces between travel widen. Plus I’ll be meeting 175 new people; I will be meeting wowza authors; I will be fighting my MS every step of the way. I have to say that in general I like travelling alone cos it forces me to talk to people, but I am becoming severely in need of a bosom buddy. Project one for when I come back. Seek bosom buddy.
  2. Writing: got a few books out for editing, got one back and have to work on that but my tanzmaus mind isn’t ready to focus yet. The one I’m working on I would like to get published by a real publisher ® as I think it’s important blah blah blah, so that means it has to be good and preferably I’ll have another book in the wings so a publisher will take a chance with me. My MS book is evolving into a website, so I can keep info updated, but for that I need a Pseudonym (the things I do for my one son! I don’t imagine the other two would be embarrassed about me writing about sex). Trying a few on. Got to get on that – I already have lots of material and such but again, the Tanzmice dance.
  3. My health – it’s always an interesting thing, inhabiting my second-rate body. I’ve never asked it to do anything for me that it hasn’t let me down on, except recovery from my bilateral knee replacement. Had to have C-sections, got MS, been chubby forever despite trying to change. After my surgery I exercised mightily. Then my body got better. It felt good, strong. Same when I was swimming three times a week. But then the MS came back, and I tore my rotator cuff, I started with the hip spasms, blah blah blah. I’m beginning to think that I might need to get into a gym routine, but the one close to me is closing. So now I am off sugar officially (lest I lose my sight) – (eventually being idle and overweight does things to your pancreas) which means no more of my beloved chocolate. Tanzmaus mind. What does this mean for my single malt? And will I be able to manage five hectic days and two transatlantic flights in this untrustworthy body?

So the three dance about mixed with little aggravations like losing my keys and bits of important papers and forgetting things. In behind there is the thought of craft fairs coming up and the need to make more of my felties to partially pay for my excessive overspending going to Iceland. Or eat. Hahahaha. But then, YOLO, right? And with my crapped out system, I gotta grab it now. Although, as my son has told me, I’ve used this as an excuse for overspending on trips for the last few years.

(PS: dear son – if you had a vision of being trapped in your body unable to move in your admittedly distant future as I do, you’d be out of the door like a shot and devvil take the expense)(Lord save me)

I’ve been knitting socks like a maniac  – if I’m knitting a lot you know I am anxious. If I can relax I will be felting. Or reading. Or enjoying something. (Where IS that bosom buddy when I need him?)

Must go dance and try to find those damn keys. And/or race to the library where Neil Gaiman’s Norse Gods awaits me.

PS: Dancing Mice are fascinating – I felt sorry for them when I saw them – turns out they are bred to run endlessly. Apparently they are deaf, too, some mess up in their vestibulary system.

Happier rodents here:

 





Fuck-up Nights

14 03 2017

i-dont-always-fuck-up-but-when-i-do-its-big-timeJust read about this group of people who get together now and again and talk about their failures over a few drinks  – sharing where they’ve messed up, telling what they learned, if anything, sharing that’s okay to make a complete mess of things. 

Here’s the article.

I think this is a great idea. Ever since we told our first lie to our mothers about how well we did in school, or our school friends about how well we live, we’ve been told to emphasize the positive. We become great at rationalizing. “Yeah, I failed the exam but that’s because I was helping starving orphans – no really!” Or, more likely, “I didn’t get the marks I wanted, but it was the professor’s fault.”

We graduate to hyper promoting ourselves in job interviews because we cannot be seen to show weakness. We even get into the (gasp!) fradulent Christmas letter writing, the tremendously successful social media posts, the endlessly cheerful selfies, carefully staged. And don’t get me started on the dating site posts. Lying abounds. No one admits to failures in their broken marriages, no one admits they can’t maintain a relationship for more than fifteen seconds (or that that’s about the amount of time they take for sex).

Eventually, this can change into the toxic mess of really thinking that any failures really aren’t our fault and then we get the bizarreness that is running the USA at the moment.

But here’s the thing – failures are the BEST. That’s where the rubber hits the road, where you are forced to think about things, where you confront the actuality of your existence. Where you learn. Heaven knows I’ve learned a lot from my multiple failures …(#humblebrag)

Gosh, see how that slips in? I can’t even honestly wallow in my failures without having to come up with some fraudulent positive to hold forth like a shining light like I’m better than everyone else because I’ve THOUGHT about my failures…

And truth be told, there are lots of failures I just haven’t learned from. Like:

Weight management. (chocolate calls to me like a seagull, persistent and loud)forrest-gump-fat-people

The need for exercise. (Again, it feels good when done, but that chair and book are so cozy)

Humility. (Though thankfully I get slapped with that one on a regular basis, so it’s harder to forget)

Relationships. (Though I heard that men, apparently, don’t like it if you seem willing. Who knew?)
winter-witch-female-snowwhite-disneyscreencaps-com-186163.2Forgetting to put lipstick on my aging lips, so I look like the undead. (Though I can rationalize about the chemicals in lipstick, it still doesn’t prevent me from looking like a 
winter witch)

Dressing for success. (I dress for comfort and often get followed around by staff in stores)

Writing. (I can’t even discuss that one)

Oh, gee, there are so many.

I try and make a joke out of them. I tell myself they don’t matter. Most of the time they don’t. Truth is, what I may see as a galling gaping hole of embarrassment doesn’t even touch the outside world. No one is looking at me, or if they are, they take me for what I am or judge me and it means nothing. Either they are friends or they are not.

maxresdefaultThe problem with this not acknowledging failure thing is that we become perfectionists, hide what we attempt. Once I took a pottery class, throwing endless cylinders on the wheel. Every one I threw I sliced in half to see how thinly I was able to throw the walls, the bottom. I failed to make a pot every single time because I’d cut it in half. I left the 6-week class with nothing to take home. None of them were worth keeping, in my perfectionist mind. In a way that was freeing (I do so HATE to finish projects (see unlearned-from failures)), but I could have learned a lot more if I’d accepted the good enough and just pushed forward.

For awhile, I was published a lot. I’d write off a short piece, polish it, and send it in. Get paid for it, even! Lately, I have been holding onto my pieces, sure they are secretly horrible. They pile up, sliced in half like my clay cylinders. I’m holding back, refusing to throw myself into the world, “be seen”, as my friend Bonnie used to say.

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Fortunately, I make weird felted animals, and I have a wonderfully supportive group of female friends who told me they were good enough, so I dared to toss them into the caring hands of the people at Argyle Fine Art, and they have accepted them, welcomed them, given me street cred. I have been seen.

 

I still fail at them regularly, and a wise friend from my knitting circle told me yesterday, “But maybe that’s why people like them?” So…who knows?

Now, if only I can do that with my writing. I have many a project that needs a little fluffing and then releasing. They aren’t perfect, but maybe, like my animals, people will like them more for that? I dunno, but if nothing else, I’ll have more failures to add to my pile…and that’s a good thing.

Because failures mean that I tried.





They were guillotined 72 years ago today. And they deserve remembering.

12 03 2017

worth remembering

Well, This Is What I Think

The White Rose Sophie Scholl and members of White Rose One of the most disturbing, heart-rending and thought-provoking films we have ever seen was “Sophie Scholl – The Final Days”.

The movie covers the efforts of a resistance group fighting the Nazis called “White Rose”Although the White Rose is well known in Germany, it is not well known overseas.

Der Weissen Rose was a group of mostly students at the University of Munich in Bavaria. Some were studying philosophy. Most, but not all, were religious in some way. Some of the boys had done military service but were allowed to do stints at university between stints on the Eastern Front. This experience provided them with more knowledge of what was actually going on than the average person living in Germany at the time, and it appalled them, but in their courageous resistance they still come across as young and somewhat naïve. It isthis…

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Hot Milky Tea

21 02 2017

cup-milk-tea-20969682I’ve been feeling so unsettled lately. The horror of DT’s first month reminds me of those other DTs – not that I’ve had them, mind you, but I’ve seen people in the throes of delirium tremens and it isn’t pretty.

I’m kind hoping that some of the people who voted the way they did are feeling a bit of that now – having over drunk the wine of hatred, they are swiftly and agonizingly detoxing as they see what’s going on.

Though I rather suspect not.

1418268334632And the world writhes. Like my stomach.
Used to be that people would recommend hot sweet tea for shock. It solved everything from post-amputation pain to a sliver in your thumb. I’ve taken to drinking it in the morning now. Coffee is too much for my agitated stomach.
I don’t drink it sweet – but milky is almost as good for shock, I hear, and oh so soothing to my tum.

In the back of my mind, I hear, homeostasis, homeostasis. All of life tends toward balance. It also tends toward entropy, which is where I feel we are now – the population finally realizing that democracy is a participatory sport, trying to fit decades of “just lying back and thinking of England” in with brains now realizing they don’t like what is happening, that they prefer to be part of the choice to be fucked over.

images-12It’s both exciting and terrifying, a race to some end. Having lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis and been told how to cower under my desk in event of an atomic attack, having lived in Germany during the Cold War and been given the pamphlet telling us how to survive in case of war – painting our windows white to repel the flash, storing 6 months of food and water, seeking out bomb shelters (which were marked everywhere in Germany and in Boston where I grew up), having sat through the test of the emergency broadcast system frequently on TV, I have a bit of remembered feelings of nuclear fear. They are here again, a niggling thought in the back of my mind. And in others’, too. Sales of bomb shelters are on the rise.

images-10Or maybe my fears are foolish and all this will result in a safer and more involved world, one that has looked into darkness and rebelled. Maybe this is the final impotent spurt of pale white men with big guts and empty souls, those worshippers of credit cards and such (read American Gods by Neil Gaiman).

The question that makes me agitated is, which will it be?

Thus the need for soothing tea. I’m not sure who to be more frightened of – DT, or the people behind him who are working double fast to remove all controls on business, or the appeaser countries, fearful of losing trade, so tossing self-respect in the wind and crawling cravenly to make peace
with a bully.

In any case, there’s little I can do about it, other than write to various representatives, protest where I can, make art, and drink my tea. And enjoy the chirping spring birds, the warmth of the sun, the icy snow, the taste of wine and cheese, the faces of my friends. We are living in blessed times in so many ways here in North America. They may be the last we have, whether through ecological change or rapid disaster.

Mind you, we’ve thought that before. Every age seems to think it is teetering on the edge of the abyss. Maybe this outing of our baser instincts, this example of how far our neglect has let us come, will cause the revolution we truly need to have happen.

Or maybe we’ll simply sink back into our couches, tired from all the protesting, and sip our milky sweet tea.

Let’s hope not. Cozy  and tummy-soothing though it is.

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Stardust

12 02 2017

There are times, frequently, when I wonder if the world really needs another book, especially one written by my clumsy creative heart. After all, there are so very many BAD books out there, killing trees by the thousands.

I really wonder about this, though, when I read something so marvellous, so heart-changing that I am left with nothing but awe. The kind of book or story that makes you weep when it is over, that makes you wish for the world it describes, that transports you so readily that you feel jarred when the day is over and you have to pull yourself out of the book and toss yourself into the comparative greyness of your dreams.

9405533_origNeil Gaiman routinely does this to me. I’ve just finished reading his lovely fantasy tale (or is it fantasy? I wonder…), Stardust. It is filled with witches and dread kings and lowly boys who dream big and fallen stars and even a unicorn. Characters can walk on clouds and even hail ships that sail on them.

And it is all utterly believable. I suspect Mr. Gaiman is a wizard ship_on_clouds_by_totialcott-d4iu6nahimself. Somehow he has seen into the world I dreamed of as a young girl and he has recreated it, filled with beautiful language and quotes from famous literature and derring do and the type of boy I’ve always looked for in my romantic heart of hearts, the boy I’d thought I’d found only to realize he was not, quite.

There are no glamorous princesses here (well, maybe one); there are dirty, muddy, and wet journeys; there is kindness and cruelty. It’s a real world, but with the magic I sometimes see the edge of in our world.

It reminded me of that magic at a time I really needed it, as we watch the world we loved dissolve in anger and frustration, peril and threat. It reminded me of the fact that we are both fact and fantasy, that by tilting our head to one side we still can see the beauty that surrounds us.

Thank you, Neil Gaiman. May you ever dwell in the joy you provide.

o-unicorn-facebook





More to read – this looks great – reblog..

5 02 2017

If you liked The Book Of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, then try Steal Away Home by Karolyn Smardz Frost. Here’s why…

via If You Liked The Book Of Negroes, Try… — The Savvy Reader





Caw!

5 02 2017

In my continual desire to improve myself, I sign up like a madwoman for many online courses. Right now I am taking two such from Coursera (one on American historical fiction, another on witchcraft – from the University of Barcelona, no less), two embroidery classes from Craftsy, a ukulele class or two, and one on healing through journaling from Daily OM.

I don’t know why I signed up for the last one, as I am far too busy what with all these classes to worry about healing, but I hoped in a way it would help me start journaling again and thus writing, etc, etc. Kind like buying a new writing instrument or a new notebook. Force me to think with a pen.

It’s an interesting course, though. Lots of meditative visualization – of one’s soul, of one’s dark side, of one’s self-house. What might be like Sherlock’s memory palace, though my me-house is a smallish white clapboard house, surrounded by shrub roses and sand and salt grass. Which is nowhere in my memory.

I’ve always envisioned my soul as a candle burning somewhere near my chest, flickering and weak some times, strong others. I can summon it up while meditating, make the candle burn brighter, wiggle the flame. It reminds me of the game in WiiFit, where you have to sit very still or a mean person shouts at you in Japanese and blows the candle out.

baba-yaga

Baba Yaga, in her pestle…

But it’s such a blah visual for my soul. I need something more vibrant, more out there. When I needle felted a Baba Yaga, she spoke to me. Her hag-like face, world damaged. Her hairy chin and excessive eyebrows. The startling eyes that see too many things. She seems more like my soul. Capable of many things, some good, some bad. Helpful if you ask her properly.

But powerful.

I don’t know why I am perceived as powerful, me in my short round frame (hardly the skinny legs of Baba Yaga, but I’ve inherited my dad’s nose…), but the perception seems to have stuck, so I guess, approaching 60, I should wear it. I have to thank my mother for it, I think. She could dominate a room in a second, even while wearing discount clothing far too old to be seen outside the house.

In the Daily OM course, you are also asked to visualize your dark side, and the image that came to me instantly was a crow, yawking from the top of a scrawny pine.american-crow-perched-top-pine-tree-calling-alarm-62539764

Crows are not “good” animals. They bear grudges. They eat those smaller than themselves. They have a sense of inquisitiveness and mischief that gets them into trouble. Their sense of humour is often inappropriate to the audience. They can be loud and disturbing. In so many cultures, they are a trickster animal, clever but not precisely helpful. People either love crows, or they hate them. I’ve admired them and wanted to spray them with buckshot, depending on how many of them are in my immediate vicinity.

Like many people, I have an outer self, the one that hangs around most of the time and tries to make me acceptable to the world. It’s the smiling happy me, the one who cheers everyone on, etc, etc. But there’s another me, the one who loses patience with things, that raises its voice, that bites and claws. When it appears, people are shocked, unable to make the connection. It doesn’t come out often enough not to startle.

In my dark self, I know the crow. I know its loneliness. I also know it survives.

Odd that both of my visualizations, soul and dark, have two sides. Though unsurprising, given the many times I’ve had to redefine myself through the years. Two takeaways, I guess – if you treat me well, I’ll do you good, and if you don’t, well, there’s no way to predict how I’ll act. Mwah hah hah!

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Baba Yaga’s chicken-legged house, scene of many impromptu meals.








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