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Keep your fork there's pie!
20 February 2017 @ 12:13 am
I hope this letter finds you well. I'm writing to say thank you-- thank you deeply, for everything you do. I know our last parting was-- can we say unlovely? Unpleasant, for everyone, if only you and I noticed? Oh, I know it wasn't all your fault, and it wasn't all mine, really, though you may be more in a hurry to assign blame than me, so who knows?

But please hear me: I am so very grateful for every thing you do, really. Look, I know you tried your best to steer me toward you expectations, and though I am reluctant for the bit and bridle I tried, you know, for the greater good. I thought we all had that in mind, didn't we? I was surprised as you were when I found myself in a corner. Mercy, am I glad we got out of that without more bloodshed.

But that's all water under the bridge, I hope? You do so much good, and I have so much to offer. Let's be friends, can we? Because otherwise the fate is too terrible to contemplate-- we both still have to live here, after all. And don't we love it here? Can we agree to love it here? Isn't this quest for acquiescence and mutuality what brought us here in the first place?

Oh, our fallout was quiet, but let us be loud for once: WE FUCKED THIS UP, but now we're trying to be better. I'm sorry, my friend: can you afford to be loud? I sure as hell can, in fact I can afford little else. I don't have much time left.

Warmly,

JX
 
 
Keep your fork there's pie!
14 February 2017 @ 10:16 pm
I lucked into the best in-laws ever. Sure, they're straight in some ways that perhaps isn't exciting, but they're awesome in other ways I could never have imagined.

I have sisters, proper ones. Not torn from the wretched womb or of second marriages, but friends forged in the crucible of shared experience. They're magnificent women and I love them.

Iko and I went shopping for toys for the niblings. It was ridiculous. I came home with a stuffed manatee and kiwi bird, a toy tractor and a squirrel puppet. Iko bought a Duplo set and some more toy cars. We have a sippy cup coming from Amazon for the littlest one.

He is so good with children. He thanks me for not having our own; for the space to be Uncle Andy-- which he does so beautifully. But is our voice in helping raise these children any different, ultimately, than mothers and fathers, or any other teachers?

On Children
 
 
Keep your fork there's pie!
13 February 2017 @ 02:38 pm
I think part of what I struggle with when it comes to social media is that lately I'm trying really hard to be present and think critically. I believe social media platforms are specifically engineered to trigger attention (click bait, anyone?) and thus unfairly short-circuit my efforts, and I resent it. I don't like most advertising for this reason.

I also understand it is folly to reject these forces, for the world in which we live is constructed of them and saturated with them. To try to divorce oneself completely would never succeed; I'd end up a frustrated wreck and I'd still find myself feeling manipulated (see also: institutional racism and Howard Zinn's You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train). Better to take up humility, wry awareness, work to become a more awesome fellow human, and try to keep a sense of humor about it all.

That said, this post-truth hogwash drives me nuts. Partly because SCIENCE, dammit, and partly because holding myself to the standard of thinking critically means occasionally I have to choke down evidence of ideas I find distasteful. Blogger Jim Wright over at Stone Kettle Station has a couple of good essays on this, Blind Spot and Blind Spot II. I've been trying to unpack my own hang-ups around this for a while and it still trips me up (because SCIENCE, dammit, you can't fuck with the SCIENCE). Intellectually I understand that presenting facts that don't align with someone's strongly held beliefs not only doesn't change their mind, it's likely to backfire: they'll stubbornly stand by their argument anyway and now they're not listening to you anymore. Such is how corrosive echo chambers are born.

Emotionally, I also understand that calling someone and idiot and a liar for believing what they believe, science or no science, probably makes you a jerk. But man, I really did try to open up with people I disagreed with, set aside my emotional reaction and get past the stupid red team/ blue team banner-waving nonsense into something real. At best my results have been mixed. Sometimes we'd emerge from the encounter feeling mutually respected and moderately triumphant; other times we'd come through mentally black and blue with no one feeling good about the exchange. I try and learn to choose my battles carefully enough that I don't end up in the loony bin, but not so carefully that I paint myself into a different kind of echo chamber.

We create our realities. We build our beliefs. Our beliefs inspire passionate acts. Beliefs should be subject to scrutiny; realities are remade and perhaps passions burn less bright for this consideration. I like passion, darn it. I'm a bit sad to feel it diminished. Sometimes it seems like too high a price to pay and ferocious zealot-ism might just be preferable to enlightened insight. I believe that compassion is a different kind of inspiring force, a powerful one. But I could be wrong. Who knows?
 
 
Keep your fork there's pie!
10 February 2017 @ 12:50 pm
I've been pretty murderously depressed since November. Leaving work was the trigger, then President Bozo happened, then the holidays. In December I broke up with FaceBook; I almost never look at it now. Too much time-wasting noise for me there.

It feels terribly irresponsible to be out of touch because the threats of loose cannon politics that I don't agree with are very real, but my first attempt at trying to engage online almost did me in. I cried nearly every day. Armed with the justification that I do this to save my own sanity I resolved to spend my precious life energy on things close to home instead. I re-read 'A People's History of the United States'. We've started hosting a weekly game night, which sometimes brings herds of gleeful shrieking nieces and nephews with their parents and sometimes just a couple of friends show up. I go for walks every day. I drink too much.

Even more than I miss the spark of creative vitality is the persistence of hopelessness. So great is this boring malaise that I can't even really muster any fear or surprise or anything about it. Intellectually I understand that this ought to set off a warning klaxon for my well-being but I can't be bothered to even care about it.

Just this week I started listening to the news on the radio again. There are moments when a reckless lightheartedness about the ridiculousness of it all comes over me and everything seems really funny all of the sudden. In these moments I can see a way through to better days. I'm on the upswing I think. I hope.
 
 
Keep your fork there's pie!
06 February 2017 @ 10:05 pm
Papa  
I remember being a teenager and falling asleep with my father in his bed. Eventually he curled up next to me and cuddled close. At the time I was perhaps too old, and definitely too violated, to accept this closeness as anything but at least a discomfort, if not an outright threat (I believe he meant no harm, he was not the one that did any). I wriggled away. We fell asleep holding hands.

Looking back on it now I see how my dear old dad in all innocence perhaps had sought closeness with his little girl, as she grew up and away from him, and for one moment were perhaps daughter and papa once more. For my self-preservation I could offer him only my hand. No explanation-- that would come years later-- and confusion and layers of scar tissue surrounding this pearl of a regret for a lost moment for me.

He's been gone sixteen years. What would I give to be able to hold my father close now?
 
 
 
Keep your fork there's pie!
01 February 2017 @ 04:42 pm
I am part of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, a tiny but ferociously persistent tribe headquartered in Shawnee, Oklahoma.

Usually when I tell people this I say it out loud, then I pause and wait for them to ask me what the hell I just said. Real fun to say, real hard to spell, and no one's ever heard of my tribe (besides other Indians). Say it three times fast, it's real fun: PotawatomiPotawatomiPotawatomi.

Incidentally, a hero of mine, Dr. Robin Wall Kimmerer, is also a CPN tribe member. She has a stunning series of lectures on biology, ecological preservation, and Native philosophy as part of the Bioneers series. Check it out!

Also since the SuperBowl is coming up, you might also be interested in that RadioLab episode on how Indian schools helped shape modern American football.

And last but not least, here's a super boring lead-in for some amazing music: the parent tribe of my CPN and the Potawatomi people is the Anishinaabe, which is a recognized First Nation in Canada. Anywho, there's a great set of native electronic artists called Tribe Called Red (one of whom one is Anishinaabe) producing expectation-shattering music straight off the rez. This one is my fave. But check out the most recent mix of The Virus- it features the recent DAPL resistance and is one hell of a listen besides. I hope you like it, and welcome your thoughts about any and all of this.

Migwéch, friends.
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Keep your fork there's pie!
Chris and I are selling the Beacon Hill house. It's no longer interesting to me nor is it manageable; I'm heavily in debt because of its expenses. It's been vacant for a month and a half, so the cost of paying rent and mortgage has been almost cripplingly high. The place we live now is up for sale; we've been asked to vacate and rental options on Whidbey are extremely limited. The thought of packing and moving again (Iko and I have yet to live in any one place for more than two years the whole time we've lived together, so we do it a lot) puts curdled knots of anxiety in my stomach. Our property manager connected us with another place that will work, but the timing is weird and she's epically poor at communication so nothing is firm. I have visible holes in my teeth and I need to see a dentist, but again with the deeply in debt thing. Though my job is satisfying and beautiful, my work load is huge and unwieldy. Doing my job well and showing up in a way that is valuable to the work and myself demands all of my attention and emotion, which is uncomfortable and challenging.

In short, shit is stressful.

I'm so ready to be done with the business of the past and get to work on the now, and the future. I'm ready to invest where I am, ready to share Big, Meaningful Life projects with Iko (who has been an absolute hero through the sparkling shitshow of this year. I'm taking that man to Hawaii at the end of all this). I must wrap up the loose ends first, though. I'm gritting my teeth and just trying to get to the closing date on the house-- 6/30-- like a marathoner staggering across the finish line, utterly wasted, dehydrated and having shat themselves half a mile ago.

Ah, growing pains.

I'm stretched, really stretched, and the slightest gust of emotional storminess knocks my breath out like a gut-punch. I've got some kind of tummy bug and I'm so broke I'm not even paying for haircuts, but in this situation somehow this sentence made sense:

"This! This is a job for... GIN AND TONICS!"

As it turns out, it wasn't. The next day I felt like a bleached strip mine, I was so emotionally fragile the sight of roadkill made me cry, my voice shook. The overwhelming feeling I embodied was fear. I couldn't handle an overly emo episode of 'Downton Abbey', much less the Kilimanjaro-like task of bringing my whole self to any situation. What a waste.

How long will I have to fuck this up before I learn? The same function of alcohol that seems to help me 'unwind' will flip me completely and toxically over if I'm not careful with it-- and the horizon line for too much rather cruelly gets a lot shorter the more wound up I am. Again, all lessons are lessons in letting go.
 
 
Keep your fork there's pie!
11 April 2016 @ 10:17 pm
To all the boys that had me
or thought they did
you all lost
my beloved is the only one that sleeps easy with my hands in his
What did you want? Children? Power?
my attention?
Spray your desire wherever you want
It is wasted on me.
My love goes easy where it is nurtured.
Find the path? Well. Perhaps you should have looked harder.
My love sleeps easy.
 
 
Keep your fork there's pie!
...it will teach us to keep our mouths shut." -E. Hemingway

And for that reason alone I am not deleting that incredibly maudlin post I wrote this weekend. Silly Jenna, he knows the measure of you. It's only been eight freaking years. Sheesh.
 
 
Keep your fork there's pie!
01 April 2016 @ 10:55 pm
For Engel, who will never read this.
And for Aaron, who won't either but should know better.

The stars are truly magical tonight. I spent an hour cocooned on the front porch, staring. I watched Orion descend and one star fall. I listened to a cacophony of frogs, but mostly I listened to DaVotchKa. Yes, you already know how this will end.

They aren't my stars. They are my father's, shown through years of pointing, of following a finger, 'but look here, that swirl is Scorpio, and those, ha! Those are the seven sisters." It's a long way to Andromeda, but there she is. I have so much to tell them. I have so much emotion to share with those stars. How can one little girl--now forty years-- ever tell them? ah! They will always be my father's stars. Perhaps they will be my niece's stars.

You already know, you already know...

I thought, perhaps he'll find me asleep on the porch. He should know. It's been eight years, after all. He should know about my affection for stars. And for an inch of whiskey on a Friday.

They all know. You all know.