Friday, July 18, 2014
So I’m sitting here sucking down a boxed pot pie and extracting missed bits of potting soil from my talons. It’s not even 8:00 am yet and already I’ve showered, made coffee, done a sink full of dishes and attempted to rescue some sad flowers from my front yard. In my domain, much like the rest of life it’s either flood or scorch and most things can’t survive the wild pendulum swings. Those that do are usually toxic, prickly and invasive.
It’s been a gnarly couple of weeks, culminating in a girly meltdown yesterday at work, complete with sobbing and apologies for my lapse in self-control. Today I’m paying for it with the inevitable pug face and that perpetual gnaw of self-loathing even though I know I am a human and therefore flawed. When a cohort queried “what else is going on” I refrained and blamed the chaos of the moment. Twenty four hours later and distanced from specific responsibilities I can consider the dancing plethora of “what elses” and obsess over one or two specifically acid producing issues.
I have this dear friend I’ve known since 2006 and although we’ve never actually chatted face to face over coffee, I’ve grown accustomed to her internet presence in my life. I suppose I’ve waxed complacent. So when she did that thing that so many do and proclaimed a modicum of personal control over her very real existence by stepping away from bandwidth drama it didn’t immediately register that I was mixed in with the internet flotsam and jetsam she was dismissing from her daily routine in favor of communing with humans on a tangible level. Oops. All it takes is a nano-second to be emotionally eviscerated when you drop your mental shield.
So here I am, scraping my guts into a shabby pile and attempting to stuff them back into a gaping hole again. Admittedly this war wound is totally expected considering the gargantuan character flaw I carry like a bulls eye emblazoned adjacent to my soft underparts. Because the internet by nature is impersonal, mutable and easily dismissed for better pursuits, those who frequent it take on its characteristics. We develop platforms, personas, identities that we slough off when we return to “real life” as though all this interaction is some giant role play game. Oops part two.
Truth is, I don’t own a persona. I don’t have a platform or a big chalk line between what I do here and what I do there. I am one awkward, generic person face to face or keyboard to keyboard. If I say it on Facebook, I’ll say it to your face. My only real weapon in this fight is a little thing called transparency. I don’t differentiate in my interactions whether I’m chatting with my adopted “son” from India or trading barbs with my first born over a Starbucks in rush hour traffic. I don’t own a cloaking device and those filters between mind and fingers and mouth are intermittent. If I hate cats, I hate them on my couch and on my PC screen. If I adore your smile I adore it on your page and on your face next to me at church. I don’t run and I don’t hide. I don’t shut down and I don’t seem to possess an “off” button. I also lack the capacity to grasp that most of the world doesn’t roll the way this Tammy rolls and therein lies one socially limiting flaw. (I have multitudinous flaws but we’ll stick to this one for the sake of limiting your exposure to skull numbing boredom) And so it often leaves me a bit unhinged when those I care for enforce that boundary between the real life outside their office doors and the fiction of social networking. Suddenly my entire existence is equivalent to text in a book one can close and forget on a shelf. And I thought I was a real girl too….
Whether here in the land of memes and lolcats or in your real world off screen it is always your choice to walk away. And it is always my choice to miss you when you do. Even if you’ve spun your entire existence as one big cyber telenovela – I still found something amidst the ones and zeroes that resonated as relevant. Reciprocity is not required and that is the takeaway here. I have to come to the personal peace that it should never be expected. That is where I am twisted the tightest. I stopped expecting in my interactions “off the screen” and transferred that crave to those writers and friends and cousins with whom I socialize on the bandwidth. Oops number three. That means I’m out.
I don’t do casual. I’m not a stalker – but test the theory and drop out of sight. I’ll seek you out again because you matter. Even if our friendship is “virtual” – you aren’t. I know you’re a real human on the other side of that screen. Even if you’ve lied to me about everything - you still possess a beating heart, firing dendrites and a soul. You therefore deserve and will always receive my transparency because at the end of the day – who I am is really all I have. And as for your persona – as a writer I know that all fiction contains an element of truth – or the reader wouldn’t engage. That is my goal as a human – to fully engage.
Peace. I suppose my own “real life” needs my attention. I have floors to scrub, and laundry to do. And three hundred hints on ancestry.com to check out. Wait. Are deceased relatives not real because they exist as shaky green leaves on the bandwidth? Perhaps I need more coffee and another girly cry. Got tissue?
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
“Your baby, your problem.” I was a twenty something, semi professional, career gal, attempting to sooth not so malleable progeny number two when those words burrowed their way into my long term memory. Spoken by someone who I truly believed should have rescued me in my moment of parental failure, that friendly fire fueled my ire. There I was, embattled warrior princess, my knight off killing dragons, the heir apparent stricken by childhood malaise and the spare would not cease his earsplitting caterwauling. (Translation: Dave was out of town, five year old Freddy was pukey with chicken pox, I’d worked all day and baby Eric was colicky for the eighth Monday that week.) How dare the insolent villager hand me my scorched hindquarters on a set of tines and advise me to reattach it myself! Oh the horror of responsibility.
Truth is, what we create becomes our responsibility and often our “problem” for the duration of our existence on this nickel cored orb and if we want to survive we learn quickly to temper our passions with perspective, prioritizing that which truly matters and sloughing off the rest as best we can. We have limited time in our skins to facilitate change, yet it seems those of us who are the most brilliant waste that precious allotment afforded them by succumbing to fits of strident public display (oft on social media) disparaging those of us categorized by whatever pigeon hole du jour deemed fitting as villagers with pitchforks – unenlightened, terrified and dangerous to the greater good of the cause of the moment. Yet, while those illumined souls fire off statistical justification and sound bites are they really doing any good or are they simply parroting the skewed misinformation generated by the media machine that is more interested in selling happy pills than offering up undiluted truth because truth is stodgy and sex at seventy sells slots in prime time? This barrage of Technicolor, full throttle, info-bullying, does more to extinguish my specific passions than any bit of daily reality would. Collicky babies eventually outgrow their twisted little gullet outbursts. Knotted up adults, however noble the cause may be, seem to feed on the ire…just like a cancer cell, eventually destroying the very creature that feeds them.
Truth is, I’m a mom. I’m automatically engineered to respond on a cellular level when faced with the plight of a child – any child. The more perceived pain, the more tears and fear, the more graphic imagery, and that hard wiring designed to galvanize me to protect will only carry me a specific distance from the epicenter of chaos. The perpetual onslaught without respite will eventually serve to create a system overload, resulting in that very sea of numb, burned out dull eyed villagers with pitchforks you standard bearing, enlightened types are attempting to incite to indignation which is not the equivalent of action or correction. And indignation without focus will only result in those villagers lobbing stones and flaming balls of manure at your battlements. We can’t fix your babies but we can fix you.
Before you fire off a volley of memes with the intent to elevate the plight of those you have determined yourself as the patron saint/megaphone/posterchild consider this. Is your truth really the homeless doe eyed preteen from war torn Guatemala, is it the rape victim faced with an unwanted pregnancy or are you just a thinly disguised hater who really wants to piss off those of us who already feel with every fiber of our existence that life is precious and we would lay down our own to take the pain from another person. If you are a hater – keep putting up that kitsch because it’s working. But if you really want change – use your fingers for something besides saluting me in traffic and on the bandwidth and DO something. Go down to your local immigration office and volunteer to take on a child. Open up your home, your bank account, your school, your hospital, and your counseling services for the duration of that child’s or your natural existence and give yourself to that child to make his or her life better. Put feet and hands on your passionate discourse and open up a shelter yourself. Give your disposable income to organizations that truly integrate and bless others who are in need. (since its cool to conjoin the prolife schtick with illegal immigrant children – go down to your local clinic and pay for a woman to be relieved of her “problem” hold her hand during the process – and stick around in a year or two or five, when she marries or has her own baby or wonders about what her “Choice” would have been if she’d exercised her legal right in a different manner. Life and the human heart are complex far beyond the simple act of exercising a legally protected choice. Even GOD respects our right to choose – so much so that He allows us to experience the consequences unique to our own hearts.) Try putting up a list of organizations that offer assistance if you are unable or unwilling to do it yourself but do something beyond the incessant visual glut of vitriol you propagate because my only defense mechanism is to become immune to your sickness.
Here’s another truth. Veiled hostility against the government, the right, the left or the rest of us camped in the clueless center can only fix your cause through you indirectly if you won’t do it yourself. Our government is not a benevolent non-profit. It will only use whatever disposable income generated by your tax dollars it has in its coffers. So if you scream loud enough to get your problem fixed – it will only be replaced by another more intimate issue. A government funded solution will manifest itself in higher prices at the store, the gas station, your property tax bill and your interest rates. So if you choose to hand off your baby to a sitter – prepare to pay competitive wages.
I’m not damning anyone’s passions or arguing against anyone’s rights. I am not promoting that my personal position of faith must override the law of my country. I respect my country, its laws and its people. I even respect and will occasionally encourage the right of a soul to vent his or her passionate position on the bandwidth. If I disagree I know that out of respect I can simply choose to ignore the post. There are those however (and we all know someone) who have lost their identity to the toxic position they present. I only admit therefore, that as one human I cannot fix an entire planet of babies. I can only fix my own baby, my own problem. If I choose to adopt another baby – then I assume responsibility for the duration – not to scream when it screams – but to comfort, nurture, protect and grow that baby. Tossing soiled diapers over my neighbor’s fence won’t help my baby. But perhaps pulling weeds in the empty field with my neighbor might give us both a place to take our toddlers to play safely.
All this to say if you want to champion a passionate cause – promote the solution above the problem. Stop tossing it in with all your other issues over which you marinate but don’t really address –stop deferring the problem to some other source to correct – absolving yourself of any responsibility except that of head dung flinger – stop using the horror faced by various groups of humans to spur your own prejudices and take the action available to you. Then take a selfie of you doing something about it and put that up on your favorite social media outlet. I’ll be one of the first to like and share.
By the way, that colicky monster I was forced to foster solo for so many nights has become an amazing, intelligent young man. He is an artist, a musician, a giver who is loving, truthful and fiercely loyal to his friends, his family and God. That “problem” is now a beautiful living legacy who gives me so much more than I ever gave him. There are fixes that turn problems into progress and most of them are simple, quiet steady steps forward that you can take, that I can take if we stop, think and use our ginormous frontal lobes to think beyond the immediate to the infinite.
The village idiot.
Friday, June 20, 2014
The cool thing about blogging these days is that so few people actually read, I can pretty much say anything I please. Toss in two or three consecutive blogs where I mention the words “church” “Christian” and “Jesus” in close proximity and Viola! Reader Hanta Virus. They seize up and disappear in droves. Which leaves me with one or two who are too bored or feel too much pity for me to abandon ship. This blog therefore is for you.
So let me tell you about the day thus far. Dawning as it did with the resignation that I had to put on acceptable street clothes, lacquer the trim and be civilized for a meeting which was unfortunately held on my usual every other Friday off – thus blowing any opportunity for personal time, sanity or leg shaving totally out of the water. I’m still seething but authority is authority and I didn’t have permission to buck it, foaming as my soft mouth was at the application of such a gnarly bit.
I stopped at Blake’s to grab a couple of burritos as I am blessed with both spawn this week (elder spawn having had intimacy occur between a sharp object and a phalange at his employment – garnering him eight stitches and a surprise vacay) and I loathe cooking, then I attempted to at least rearrange the soap scum in the bathroom before my spawn and I went out for a movie (I think it’s the second time that’s ever happened. The Tamster doesn’t get out much for entertainment. It’s that whole acceptable clothing, lacquering up and being civilized on a day off thing.) On the way home in the car I attempted to get that damnable iridescent slick of “whythehellcantiseethroughthese” off my glasses and oh joy of joys, I am now down one nose piece. Yee ha. If I wasn’t already awkward, now my glasses hang even more crooked on my face. (And there are about 30,000 reasons why I really needed my glasses to last for about 16 more months)
So while the spawn were prepping for a promised nacho feast I decided to waste a few minutes trolling around on ye ole Facebook when what do I stumble upon? Some chatter about a Muslim in Texas who was offended by a neighbor’s display of the American Flag because it was threatening to Muslims. Oh the HORROR of seeing stars and stripes – on a cloth – and all of it was FLAPPING. I was flapped at once. I’m in therapy now. Are you kidding me? No wait. Are. You. Kidding. Four generations ago most of my family came from half way across the planet with nothing but a change of clothes. They didn’t have friends or family here. They didn’t have a scholarship or protected status. They didn’t have organizations to hold their snotty tissues and walk them through the cafeteria. They learned the language, adopted the laws and culture and became successful, law abidin’, tax payin, grateful Americans. Or they went back across the pond. Or they died in the process. Later some of them signed up and died for people they never knew in a war they didn’t choose. Some of them even LIED about their ages so they could go serve. Let me just ask this? Why are you even here in this country, benefiting from everything it has to offer if you are offended by the simple symbol of it displayed by one of its citizens as is that citizen’s right. It’s not like someone broke in – hog tied the person and tattoed a big ole stars and stripes on his soft underparts. That would be a threat. I certainly don’t want to offend anyone intentionally but this is no more stupid than if I were to go across the street and tell my Catholic Latino neighbor that his Mary of Guadalupe statue in his front yard is offensive and I feel threatened by it because I am a white female protestant who moved here 20 years after he paid for his property and put up his small reminder of his personal faith in his own yard. I am so threatened by that bit of plaster and paint. My entire way of life is in jeopardy.
I understand it may appear that my rant borders on some form of discrimination but consider the ramifications of this bit of what we might pass off as stupidity. It starts subtly enough. No displays of national pride. No flags. No stickers. Don’t offend anyone. And certainly for Christians – we are taught to turn the other cheek when we’re offended. We can still wear patriotic underwear. No one will know, right? So it’s only a little thing if we can’t pray in school because we can still do it silently. And why pledge allegiance to the Flag (oh and the republic for which it stands because who wants liberty and justice for all when the flag is so heinously offensive) Lets just chip away at any form of identity or ideology because you know what? If no one argues we all get along and that’s peace, huh. Sure. Only if you plan on scheduling that lobotomy because where we’re all headed you don’t need a frontal lobe.
I say: BRING IT ON. I’m gonna go put my flag out. I’m gonna fly it every day. I am grateful for my rights and I am going to use them and keep using them because if I don’t, I forfeit them. Come on people. If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything. Old saying but still relevant. All things being equal means most of us loose what is precious to us to the raucous and verbose minority that is threatened or inconvenienced by anything that holds them to a standard. I’m going to come to your house, demand that you change your lifestyle to please me and you have no say. When we cave to the inane-ness of taking down our own flag in our own country because it is offensive – this is what we are allowing. Eventually we will give up all our rights in order to keep “peace” which isn’t peace at all but the total absence of free will. I for one, I am not going there without a fight. And unfortunately – we all may have that opportunity to fight for our freedoms if we continue to allow guests in our home to make the rules for us, for our children, for our future generations.
Thursday, June 19, 2014
If you’ve read me more than once you are probably painfully aware there are more than a few things that tend to chap my pale hide. Since I’ve been on a “God,wut?” tangent over the past couple of posts, I may as well continue. Sheep can get complacent, muzzle down in the pasture. Sometimes a dog like me needs to sneak up behind one…and bark. So here’s the list in no particular order.
1. “I’ll pray for you.” Yeah, that little phrase isn’t worth the exhalation of Co2 it takes to say it if isn’t followed up with immediate action. Its right up there with the dreaded “How are you” greeting (the conjoined churchy twin of the “blessed and highly favored” response. For the love of corn flakes if we can’t be honest in church with each other, where then can we be? As if the Big guy doesn’t know your whole existence is circling the toilet as you speak.) If you’re going to pray – grab that person in front of you by the hand and actually do it. Agree with them right there for whatever it is – from heat rash to total devastation. If you’re not gonna do it, don’t say it.
2. Any cutesy talk about angels, from “God took your child because he needed another”, to “Here is an angel to protect you.” Like anyone’s life and death deliverance was facilitated by some ringlet coiffed, suspiciously large domed, lute strumming, diaper or cloth draped toddler with gnat wings. War isn’t cute. If you’re invoking the power of something mighty created by the Almighty then represent the truth truthfully. Otherwise, you’re just about as effective as a Facebook meme. “What kind of angel do you need? Oh a sparkly one. That’ll fix the mess I’m in. Oh yay. Click, share.
3. Defending your position with gore. In the age of graphic prime time fodder like “Bones” “The Walking Dead” and let’s not forget “Fox News” your dismembered, High Def horror is, no matter how personally wrenching and true, but mundane fare for the masses, especially if it’s already dead. Starving, mangled and or otherwise seriously compromised by this thing called planet earth roulette isn’t much better. I know that sounds harsh but most of your audience probably takes in multiple murders, crime reports, and stories of nature’s brutality in the 22 minute span it takes them to slurp a boxed dinner and stare sallow eyed at the nightly news report. Peppered and mixed as that report is with commercials for class action law suits against pharmaceutical companies, and sex/mood/life enhancing products pedaled by other pharmaceutical companies. Death without the promise of life is hopeless and your efforts, though well intended only promote hopeless. It will take more effort and you won’t get as many little likes on your interweb post but show the victory. Better yet, get out there yourself and feed the hungry, clothe the naked and offer real help to parents and children who face fear you cannot imagine. While you’re working, if you must share your Instagram moment – try doing so without including a selfie. It isn’t about YOU anyway. It’s about them.
4. “I don’t need church, church people are hypocrites. I just need nature. That’s my church.” Hello. You’re a human. If you were perfect, you probably wouldn’t be sitting under that tree somewhere because you’d be making billions of dollars, curing cancer, and coming up with classroom desks that repel gum because you are perfect. Since you aren’t doing that, and you are sitting under that tree, you obviously didn’t pay much attention to the Creator that created the creation you’re using to avoid the creatures the Creator created you to buddy up with. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying creation and finding evidence of God in it but faith is multifaceted. Submission to others, assembling with believers, forgiving etc. is all part of it. We are all hypocrites and we all are commanded to forgive and to love everyone. Even the church folk you’re trying to avoid by sitting under that tree. Make the effort, find a body of believers, be teachable and be usable. Otherwise you can sit under that happy tree and all you will be is fertilizer.
5. Fighting a social firestorm phenomenon with peashooter scripture tidbits. Yes, the Word of God on the tongue of His people is one of the most powerful weapons of mass destruction in the universe but wielded at a nonbeliever can be as effective as swatting a wasp nest with your Tinkerbell wand. If you are so consumed with passion that you MUST engage the minions with your defense of all that is good and true – go for the kill shot with a weapon they can’t block. Don’t take on De Grasse Tyson’s number one fan with your stock excerpt from Genesis. Do your homework. Find an expert. There is a dancing plethora of really smart Christians out there in every field from neurobiology to quantum physics. Educators and thesis brandishing peeps with doctorates. Scientists who love science and love God and can articulate a truth without flame wars or financial support from Kirk Cameron. Find one of them. Post a link. Walk away. You’d better serve creation by feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and comforting the comfortless than by vehemently pontificating your position on creation, anyway.
6. Misrepresentation of God’s people by random acts of stupidity and or sheer ignorance. This includes those of you Taitboys bumping, ichthys flaunting, stick family sporting holy highway rollers who drive like you’re three laps back in the Indie 500. I bump Taitboys too. Often. I also pay attention in traffic. God gave you a big ole frontal lobe. Use it. This category also includes passionate peeps who suffer from all manner of lapses in things like proper spelling, wild swings in position “Oh glory I just love Jesus I am so blessed yada yada yada to I am just a miserable worm undeserving of existence.” Don’t ride the fence. Don’t be lukewarm and don’t be afraid to rejoice but wow. If your written skills are abysmal – stick to warm fuzzy memes, ok? Lolcatese is only cute-ish if plastered under the furry visage of some domestic feline. Paired with a human speaking of the most high God? No. God uses real people for real action and so does the enemy but sometimes we face plant all by our little selves because we don’t watch where we put our big flat feet. Unless you like the taste of toenails – you must employ smarter tactics than your adversary or at least engage your audience if that is your only goal.
Rest assured I’ve engaged in pretty much every lapse of reason, inadvertent display of character flaws and flat out stupidity induced myopia listed above and more. I’ve judged, I’ve ridiculed and I misrepresent – often. That’s why I come to you now – friend Christian. Take it from a girl who has “Epic fail” written in India ink on her forehead most days. Talking the talk is a waste of breath if you aren’t living the life. God is a gentleman. He won’t call you names. He won’t even send a sheep dog to nip your woolly errant hide. I do that of my own volition because I love you and I want you to succeed. You can’t be perfect – but we all can be better.
Wednesday, June 18, 2014
“Ron’s not really your Dad,” Mom said it flatly, like she’d asked me to pass the salt at the dinner table. “Only reason I married Ron was to get out of Howard City. You remember George, he’s your real dad. ” - (Where Wings Come from - TL Boehm)
I’ve been turning those words in the soft soil of my heart for over twenty years. That simple statement that erased half of my known identity and created a hole in my soul called “fatherless.” Whatever genetic truth exists unseen beneath my skin my simple reality is that the man who raised me left this earth without ever definitively defending his position and the man now accused of contributing to creation of said offspring has never fully placed me in the position of “eldest daughter.” Whatever demons my mom exercised by speaking those words – I cannot blame her for my response. Whatever fear, lack or personal shame my “father” has or had over my existence – I cannot assuage. I can only tell you – whoever you are who will listen – that the wound is still fresh, the pain is real and there is no salve or platitude that eases the ache. I am not angry but I am a little broken.
For those of you who speak into my life or perhaps into the lives of others who are staring down the smoking barrel of similar chaos trying to decide if the burn is simply indicative of being winged or mortally injured, your words, though well-meant, are the soul stinging equivalent of slapping a fresh tattoo. “Your father is the man who raised you.” “God is a father to the fatherless.” “What about so and so who was adopted, the product of rape, parents in jail – it could be worse…” I’m not arguing any of those points – but my reality is that I am one living breathing human who only wants to crawl up into the lap of her papa and feel real arms around me and feel against my cheek the strong heartbeat of a spirit in sync with mine. The only words that would matter would be those gently spoken from the lips of Truth: “my daughter. I love you.” To know beyond doubt that the empty place in my soul – the place called “fatherless” is filled. Instead, I am here, without shelter, without protection. With the expectation from those who might comfort me that I am a grown woman of God and should already be able to speak the scattered pieces back in line because I know I must command the mountain to move. Have you forgotten the foundational manifestation of love? Did you skip the words “He gave….” Am I so unlovable that contact would cause you to vomit in sheer disgust? Or is it that platitudes don’t require an investment of flesh. Lip service, even with God is just that. If the words from your tongue conveyed the love of a benevolent Father I would be swept away by the joy. Instead, here I am once again playing the part of Tammy the terrible warning. Don’t talk. DO.
I’m not angry and I’m not picking at anyone in particular. My intent is only to serve as counsel that even though the person in front of you may be a full grown Christian, or a prickly cactus – or both – that does not exempt their basic need for comfort. I do not discount the power of God’s word – but in the heat of battle – for me it will be the touch of another soldier and the words “Fall back. I’ll cover you.” We all battle something and sometimes we all need that very real, very physical manifestation of God with skin on at our side.
PS: if you are a family member, before you pick up a phone or a rope – please read carefully what I’ve said and what I say now. I place no blame on anyone but myself for my personal feelings regarding this situation or any situation in my life. I don’t hate you. I’m not mad at you and I’m not slandering you. Whatever peace you follow is yours and this is all I want for any of us. Peace. This post isn’t a callout about you. It is an admonition for those who may read and may consider themselves Christians. That is all it is.
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
Perhaps it’s self-induced sleep deprivation, or roundy round responsibilities boredom, or maybe it’s simply that the chili was so much more exciting “in theory” and the gelatinous red reality in my lunch bowl puts my dendrites in “anywhere but here” mode, but whatever the reason, I’m off on a tangent today.
Three hours of sleep kills filters and linear thought and it will be a struggle to keep this little lamentation going forward but it is that same disturbance in the force that compels me to write in the first place. The skips and blips in the sequencing make sense even though you aren’t up in my head. I hope you are able to connect the dots.
I read the writing of a beautiful soul today. Her name is Kate and I’ve known her for all of my “interwebs social network sojourn” and like so many writers she is passionate, capricious and pretty much unaware of the sheer talent residing between brain and fingertips. She reminded me that I long to tell stories. It’s deeper than a simple passion to create fiction, to transport a soul to a stellar place for a moment or a day. It is beyond my worth or identity as one person on the planet. There is a deeper burn at my core to connect those dots into something beyond now.
My little genealogy habit, maligned by my family and fueled by those heinous shaky leaves, is simply another expression of who I am as writer. It isn’t so much DOB, DOD get ‘er done click mcfamily as it is the story of the life rediscovered. How sad that a legacy becomes a few scribbled lines on the back of a grimey data sheet, or a tic mark on a census. I want to know why your mother’s name is nowhere to be found in the remnant electrical ghost of you. I want to know about your twin sisters, the ones that came state side with you – and then disappeared from the scant information I’ve found on the family.
I live in a community where families are still saturated in cultural identities they brought with them four hundred years ago. Yet I, for all my alacrity with technology and my ferreting skills can’t prove the identity of a maternal great grandparent. It disturbs my heart that someone’s little girl, someone’s mother is reduced to a simple granite marker. And so I continue to search. There is always that hope that I will find the story, the human, the life that mattered. And to be blunt – maybe I will find the arc in the storyline to prove that I matter as well.
We are story tellers for so many reasons. Perhaps you are the voice of those who no longer have the opportunity to speak. Write the story, then. No matter how simple it may be now, give it a generation to cure appropriately. It could be priceless for someone else. You may never know the end result and that’s ok. Just write it down…and do it now.
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Recently, someone I allow to speak into my life told me I had impressive coping skills. I believe it was supposed to be a complement and since those are few and far between for a battle axe wielding force of nature like me, I took it as such…for a moment.
Last night however, as those damnable chili dogs vied for space in my gut; I fought that disturbing wave of life on planet earth induced, sweaty browed, palpitating, vertigo laced anxiety and I considered the ramifications of “coping skills.” Of all the skills to possess: American ninja warrior, competitive ice cream scooper, power shopper at Costco, coping skills is such a consolation prize for the daily attendance I endure on this spinning blue orb.
Age and gravity encroach on my physical persona in the form of belly fat and pain, and I cope. I try to eat right and move my hulk around only to experience that gnaw of dissatisfaction and additional pain using muscles that just aren’t meant to do what I ask them to do. I get a diagnosis of sleep apnea and I cope by using the Vadermatic 2000 every night, even when it smells like a gym locker, and makes my face puff up like a bloated goat. I’ve traded lapses of breath in the night for chronic burning dry eyes, and neck cramps. I still cope with palpitations (the heart knocks politely now, it doesn’t thrash about in an escape attempt. Progress perhaps) and dizziness and if I consider all the things I “cope with” there is that specter of anxiety poised to pounce…
I try to keep it light by posting a plethora of pith and kitsch on Facebook and click shaky leaves on ancestry as a distraction but still the dreams of my heart are deferred in the face of responsibilities and deadlines and myriad things delegated to me because others simply cannot cope.
I know there’s no such thing as the “Fair” card in this game of 52 pickup chaos and I know there are others out there who cope with crises much worse than my own bland blend of controlled hysteria but the little girl in me is tired of being the adult. I just want the lollipop, the teddy bear, the release. I don’t want more opportunities to develop my “coping skills” I want a reason to rejoice. I want a victory. Here. Now. While I’m still sane enough to encourage others with it.
The real me, not the socially awkward, pleasantly forgettable, middle aged mom/copeep/benchwarmer you see day to day, is a writer, an artist, a musician. A perfect day would involve lavender, and tea in a translucent china cup. A canvas wet with beautiful images, guitar music and birdsong in the background. Poetry and lace on my table. Kind words and a gentle hug…for no reason. A perfect day would end with order – and completion. The simple satisfaction of knowing that I had the opportunity to create beauty, that I nurtured another soul. This coping only means I don’t ever disconnect from the chaos, the deadlines, the stress, and the displaced raw emotions of others who are just as frustrated as I am with lack, and pain, and fear.
I get what you may be thinking. Tam hasn’t played the “God” card yet. You’re right. There is no answer for that. For the prayers that go unanswered, for the image I keep of a benevolent Father even when I still cry in the shower, or on the way home, or on the way to work – because if I cried anywhere else I’d have to explain the pain He already knows.
And so for the most part I refrain. I get up, show up, and keep it up because that’s who I am. I cope. But success? Not by any definition in my heart am I successful. And that is the thing for which I pray…and for which I am perpetually deferred.
What is the uptake? Don’t cope. Coping sucks. Coping is what we do when we’re too scared, too trapped or too late to make the change we so desperately should have made before the trench we dug with our own small steps engulfed us. I don’t have permission to do anything but cope – but you do. So take it. The saddest moment is never the loss of something or someone else but the loss of yourself and of who you know in your heart you should have been. Grace may be new every day, but opportunity is finite and dreams? They have an expiration date.
Monday, April 7, 2014
It’s late in the day and I am sure some diminutive gremlin is creating the incessant pounding I feel behind my eye, or perhaps it is the residual throb of too much tax forms and not enough sound sleep. Whatever the cause, I am considering banging my head against the nearest hard surface until I’m senseless. It won’t take but a few good thumps to git ‘er done.
For those of you who might have stumbled upon my rant a couple of days ago, be assured (or frustrated) that this is no retraction. It is merely an extension of my thought. As any bovine, I often ruminate and this cud is just too much to pass through the chambers without a bit more cuspid and spit to soften the effect.
If you missed it, and it’s entirely possible that somewhere betwixt the scream of life and your dendrites my attempt at satire zinged through your orbs as anything but and you stalled out on any number of incendiary phrases (again truth is truth and truth is our filters filter according to the lens of emotions and not necessarily what is true.) you may have missed what I intended to convey. Thus the gnaw I feel in my gut to clarify. I suppose being read and misconstrued is second only to being put on perpetual ignore. (I got kids. Ignore happens)
The truth of the day is: my parents were not “mean and selfish” – that phrase was written for effect. Since my father is no longer on this side of the veil and cannot defend himself I felt prompted to be respectful of his memory. My parents were the perfect storm however, and I was often caught in the elements. To be honest though, until I had kids of my own it never registered that their behavior was any different from any other set of parents and perhaps that is part of the reason I didn’t perpetuate most of the insanity. While I wondered “why” for many years, there was a part of me that was cognizant of truth in its simplest forms – right is right and wrong is wrong and I have never been one to live in the gray area so many are happy to taut as “freedom.” If anything I understood the gravity of consequence. I wanted my children to love me and knowing that love is a choice, being reasonable increases the odds.
It sounds cliché but hurt people hurt people. My parents didn’t invent any of the emotional or physical torment inflicted on me either directly or indirectly. It was learned. Passed down from generation to generation until it culminated in what could have been a monster of epic proportions: me. While I make no excuses for their behavior, the more I learn about the trauma of my predecessors, the softer my heart becomes. I am a human after all. The most powerful thing I can do is forgive, and move on. For me, that is the best free will I have at my disposal. I hope that this is my legacy. Truth is, love has the power to take the human heart from victim, to victor. I choose to love my parents. This is my freedom.
Saturday, April 5, 2014
My name is Tammy and I am a victim. When I was little my parents abused me. I need glasses in school and didn’t get them until I was a teenager because my parents were mean and selfish. As a result, I never learned to play sports so I was teased and bullied by my peers. There wasn’t money for me to go to college so I had to pay my own way which was really hard and I had to work at jobs that were terrible because I am female and I didn’t get paid as much as men who were doing the same thing. I am a victim of discrimination. Now I have been diagnosed with GAD and severe sleep apnea. I eat to comfort myself because of my horrible past and now I am obese. Because I am a victim and overweight my sleep apnea is chronic which makes me worry and escalates my GAD. I can’t exercise because every time I try I am reminded of how I was bullied as a child and it makes me cry. So I go buy a hamburger. I may have an eating disorder and with all the chemicals in the food that make me crave sugar and salt and HFCS I am now an addict to processed food.
Life is too hard, so I have decided that I am going to stop using my CPAP machine because it impinges on my right to sleep comfortably. When I go completely insane because I am not getting oxygen to my brain I am going to strangle my child. I’ll tell the cameramen and reporters that I guess I gripped his neck too hard while disciplining him and I’ll have free room and board for the rest of my life. Maybe I’ll write a book and make lots of money and get a law degree because I will be a victim of the system. Or maybe I will go camp out on the bosque and scare bicyclists. Then the police will have to come shoot me for no reason and all of you can come put up a santuario in my memory because I am a victim and no one will help me.
It’s all true you know. I was abused as a child. I didn’t get glasses till eighth grade. I was bullied and teased. I am female. I do make less than my male counterparts. I do have GAD, sleep apnea and I am seriously overweight. I cried yesterday just thinking about doing a Crossfit WOD. And honestly, right now I would love to wrap my pudgy paws around a double green chile cheeseburger. I have every reason to check out of society and be unaccountable for my actions. I’m a free white American. I am entitled. I am privileged. My situation is everyone else’s fault and you can shoulder the consequences when I become homeless and sick. Only thing stopping me are four tiny words: It’s not about me…
Truth is, raw emotion is no filter for truth. Truth either is or isn’t and the truth is we all are accountable not only for ourselves but for others. When we sound off without fact checking, when we accuse without applying the litmus test of transparency we are no better than jackals at a carcass. We the people have championed organizations like the ACLU who quashed a form of a Kendra’s Law here in Albuquerque that would possibly have prevented James Boyd from camping out in the foothills in the first place. How does one propose to assist the homeless mentally ill when those same people are not required to even partake of one’s assistance? Perhaps we do it by protesting the very entities tasked to uphold the laws we helped get on the books? Ah yes, I see that we the free are due to have it both ways because we filter the law through our situational emotional barometer of personal right and wrong which may or may have little to nothing to do with truth. Life is precious and James was sick and cops are mean for using excessive force unless he had raped your daughter and she’s pregnant then you could shoot him and we can’t possibly force an unwanted pregnancy on your princess so we’ll terminate that pregnancy. Cuz it’s its ok to shoot a sick homeless rapist yourself and well everyone knows that children in New Mexico are disposable before and after birth. That’s why Omaree Varela’s mom can spout off with a comment like “I guess I kicked him too hard.” and we can blame APD for that too. Should the officers have used excessive force on her? Would we then have lit candles for a repeat child abuser? We’re doing it for a violent homeless man. Oh but mental illness puts you above accountability. I forgot about that.
Until we register that we are all accountable incidents like those involving James Boyd and Omaree Varela will continue to happen. We can yell at our law enforcement all we want. We can put flowers down. We can cry about taxpayers’ money because God knows we cry about paying taxes again, we want everything for nothing, but until we determine that we are the ones to blame, nothing will get fixed. And there’s only so much carcass to go around before the jackals are gnawing on your prized poodle.
I am responsible for myself. If I choose to play victim, I will always be fat, anxious and sleep deprived. That is my truth. Broccoli sucks. I hate Crossfit. And that CPAP machine is of the devil. But my consequence for my personal discomfort and accountability will be better health, peace, and emotional stamina to truly get out there and make the changes for those who really are disabled or incapable. It’s not enough to be the megaphone for the accuser. We must become the moving hands and feet of change. Pitchforks were designed for moving hay and excrement not brandishing at our fellow humans. Blocking traffic, spitting at cops and wearing Guy Fawkes masks on your head will not facilitate change. Volunteering at a hospital, a shelter, a food pantry – educating yourself on the LAWS that govern us, paying your taxes, showing up for life, yeah, those things – those things will facilitate change. I am not a victim and the truth is many of us do not understand the true meaning of that word.
Stuff to google on your own:
Sunday, February 16, 2014
The day is dissolving into that gun metal colored expanse of high desert sky that tugs at the ghost of my teenage heart, creating that ache of hope crashing against the vast expanse of hopelessness. It’s like a stranding in the horse latitudes waiting for winds that never come to give me lift, to move me forward.
Truth is, my feet are cramped from sitting on this same perch for so long, if my cage were opened I don’t know if I could achieve flight. I’ve experienced so many extended landings I’m not even sure what altitude is anymore. I used to crave it, the rush…the heady flutter of wings against the fresh air, the warm light and promise of a new day. I’m not sure where I lost it but circular motion will eventually numb your perspective and that is where I am. I’ve been on this same loop for so long I can ride it with my eyes closed. If I were presented with an opportunity for change, would I even register or would I trudge right by, head down and bit in mouth – each foot in the groove the prior steps made. I wonder.
Yet on days like this if I stop for a moment and consider letting that wispy pin feathered thing called hope to flutter within, I feel the lift and I hear that teenage heart cry out “I still want to fly.” Hope is a powerful thing, you know. Given one open door moment and hope will fledge, taking to the skies – new altitudes, new ideas – she will soar.
Who knows how many more extended landings wait for me. Perhaps I am destined for a plethora of wing snapping crashes before it’s all over but oh, that hope for flight. I still crave it. I still believe it is possible. And I’m asking. Open the cage. Bend the bars a little. Flight feathers….they always grow back.
Horse Latitudes - latitudes with little wind and warm weather. Supposedly Spanish sailing ships would find themselves becalmed with cargoes of ponies for trade and would end up throwing the horses overboard when fresh water supplies dwindled. There's probably a cool poem in there, or not