Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

He Only Loves Me For My Baked Goods

He hasn't been around much, lately.  On the rare occasions He pops in, He looks tired and sad.  I don't like to mention it, because I would rather He view this place as a peculiar kind of sanctuary where He may simply rest and be Himself.

I can't help, it though, I worry, and so I speak up.

"You look tired and sad, JC.  What's up?"

"I could say the same for you, dear Witch."

"Well, I'm human and have a whole mess of terribly human concerns.  You, on the other hand, are half deity at least and shouldn't be worrying about mortal concerns."

"Well, I'm responsible for all of the wrong done in my name, or done and then repented.  They say that's why I was nailed up by the Romans."

"And here I thought it was because you were considered a criminal."

"Is that why you welcome me?"

"Yeah, I always did like the bad boys."  That gets a wan smile.  "So, come on, spill it.  You know whatever you tell me is between you, me, and The Blue Nowhere."

"You've seen what's going on in the world lately?"

"Well, a bit.  I don't watch TV, take the paper or most magazines, and try to avoid all the anger and hatred bubbling up on the Internet, so I am not always exactly current."

"I wish I could avoid all of that, but the things people do in my name..."  He falters, sighs, stares into the distance.  "How is it so unclear, my word?  When did I say to hate or hurt for my sake?  When did I say I only loved a few souls who followed a very narrow and particular set of rules written by men hundreds of years after my death?  Did I not say to love one another?  Did I not say to forgive?  Did I not encourage compassion and discourage judgment?  Did I not say that what is done to the least is done to me?  Did I not heal without asking who the afflicted loved, worshiped, or voted for?  Did I not strive to help all who asked without demanding they qualify for my help?"

He is agitated, now, up and pacing in the room in my mind, the room that always smells faintly of incense and cinnamon and tea but never quite looks the same twice.

"JC, you can't help what people do.  We're such ridiculous critters.  Folks are afraid, and they turn fear into anger and anger into hatred, and they turn that hatred on anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable.  You offer peace, but humans want more than forgiveness and peace.  They want to feel stronger, better, right.  Your Daddy laid down some crazy rules before he had you and mellowed, and some folks like those rules because those rules tell them who to judge, that it's okay to judge, that by following those rules they are better,more favored.  Those weird, ridiculous rules that should have been negated by YOUR words and actions (what with them being the more recent and clearly sanctioned by your Pops) let people feel powerful.  Those rules let people feel powerful and superior, and right now?  Oh, JC, there's hunger and hurt and fear, so much fear, and people need something to hold onto."

"So why can't they hold onto each other?"

"Way less satisfying to hold out a hand and pull someone up than to stomp them down, I guess.  The righteous can't stand the idea that anyone less righteous should be equal in your eyes, equal in your love."

"That's horrible."

"That's humanity."

"It doesn't have to be so."

"It isn't, always.  Plenty of people all over the world acting in your name, and not in your name, are doing incalculable good.  People feeding the hungry, healing the sick, striving to help those who need help without judgment or reserve.  Lots of people who, even when they don't worship or even believe in you, embody the same ideals you were created to embody.  Like you, they give unstintingly of themselves and seek nothing more in return than that those they help show the same love to others when they can."

"Why do you understand this?  Why do they?  How is it that so many who claim to be MY children have turned so far away from me?"

"Maybe because they ARE children, children in a world full of shadows and monsters, and they need to believe in a supernatural hero who can save them all from the ugliness because the realization that we, and we alone, can fix all this is too damned much for them."


"Pfft.  Damned.  Dammit.  Jesusmotherfuckingchristonamotherfucking cracker!"

He grins.  He can't help it.  He knows I love him, even in my irreverence, even though I don't worship him or his father and don't hold myself to their printed standards.  "But still, it's not as if I was unclear..."

"No, but self-reliance and accountability are difficult and unpleasant.  We like the easy path.  Judgment, disdain, superiority...they're so much easier."

"It hurts to know that people are considered less than, in my name...that they are denied their love, their freedom, basic human rights...because of me."

He needs a big old hug and I oblige.  "Sweetie, they aren't doing it because of you, not really.  They are doing it because of the illusion of you made by a church run by very human men (for the most part) who have very human desires to have power and control others and force the world to behave in a way that pleases them.  If people who claim you could really know you, really follow your example, really understand what kind of pure, unadulterated joy and love you embody...they might burst into flames from it, or they might simply drop dead from the shame of who they've been and what they've done, or maybe...maybe...maybe they'd shake themselves a little and get right with you, reconcile themselves, move forward and be their Very Best Selves, do right by you.

I suspect, though, that as long as you keep showing up in MY dreams and nomming imaginary sweets (Snickerdoodles this time), talking to me, and not smiting me with lightning or plagues or whatever the going smite-y thing is, people will continue to be angry and smug and superior and all judg-y.  Of course you'll forgive them, it's what you do,and of course they will continue on and wonder how come I get to blog about these things and all they have are troubled, restless dreams that tell them something is missing but they don't know what or why.  And they aren't all bad, your people - I kind of like that new Pope of yours."

"Hmph.  Look how he's marginalized by his own church and followers!  I bet he knows how I feel, a little.  Maybe I'll go see him later, bring him a Snickerdoodle.  Pass me the cookies."

He doesn't want to talk about it any more.  He's worn to the woof, disappointed, and as dispirited as a spirit can be.  He'll keep striving, because he can't NOT, and he'll keep hoping, because he IS hope, and he'll keep haunting my dreams and asking for baked goods from time to time because even a Messsiah needs a break once in a while, and maybe I'll keep blogging about it and maybe it'll make a difference.

I hand him a bag of cookies to take with him.  Sometimes one can bear up a little better when there are cookies.  I hope the Pope like 'em.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

It's Not Just the Bars Make the Prison

Treat a person like an animal, a dangerous creature to be caged and minimized, to be starved and controlled, and what can you expect but that they should become that ravening beast you have all along accused them of being?

Feed their spirit, nurture their humanity, show them that they can grow to be more than what they have been, and there can be tremendous change for good.

Idealistic?  Probably.  No less true for the idealism, though.  If one, even one, can change the path they're on and become a light in the dark, I would see them given the opportunity rather than let them be trampled into the mud and misery.

I have seen and heard of much of the negative in the world of jails and prisons, and certainly Hollywood has aggrandized the worst of it all.  What is missed or quashed or ignored is the good, the tremendous good, that happens among and between inmates every single day.

Yes, there are gangs.  There is bigotry.  There is violence.

There are also people who give a bar of soap to someone who can't buy their own.  People who reach out to their families in the outside world to help connect their fellows with THEIR families.  People who ask their loved ones to give a ride to a stranger so they can visit.  People who share food, offer a pair of socks or a shirt, lend some paper, a pencil, an envelope, a stamp, never asking anything in return.  People classified as less-than by society who act as more-than despite the expectation that they should be anything but their higher selves.

Prisoners are people.  They have souls.  They are imbued with the same divine spark as all living beings.  To see them as lesser is to diminish us and create the monsters they never would have been without our help.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Evidence Of Things Unseen

I am really so very tired of being told that I must prove I have mental illness.  It's not as if I can point to a place on my body and say "Look, see, there?  See that broken, damaged, bruised, twisted, destroyed, missing thing?"

I can't SHOW you a mental illness.  

I can show you what it does to me, but the illness itself is invisible.

I can tell you about my struggle every. single. day. to keep climbing the fucking mountain carrying my heavy-ass fucking basket of stones, sometimes with nothing but grim determination not to falter or fail, not to break my word and give up and let the mountain send me tumbling down into the abyss that dogs my heels waiting to swallow me whole, but the illness itself is invisible.

I can refer you to the rare few people who get to see it when it has me in its teeth, the very rare few people who I trust enough NOT to past the smile on my lips and falsify the light in my eyes, the rare, special few people whom I permit to hear it in my voice when I am worn down near to nothing and still have to carry on, carry on, carry on, but the illness itself is invisible.

I'm too busy trying not to die from it to show proof of its existence, and if I am not to be believed about it then there's not a damned thing I can do to convince anyone and I haven't the time, haven't the energy, haven't the strength to keep proving to anyone who simply won't believe me because the illness itself is invisible.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Grandparents' Day

Seems it's Grandparents' Day.  Honestly I had no idea, so it's a little funny-weird that this morning I woke up thinking about grandparents.

Specifically, I woke thinking about my daughter and how she doesn't really know what a grandfather is.   My father and stepmother came to visit when Sprout was a newborn, but otherwise have never been in the same room with her.  Aside from the photos I send every Christmas, and the occasional Facebook post (if they even read my Facebook posts), they don't know her at all.  Her other grandfather, Someone's dad, has seen her once, when she was just learning to toddle about and we drove to Texas to visit his family.

Oddly, for a child who hasn't any real idea what a grandfather is, she talks about "my grandpa" a lot lately.

"My grandpa has a flute at his house and he plays it all the time."

"My grandpa drives a car and he takes me in it and we go to all kinds of places."

"My grandpa has ice cream at his house."

And so on.

The only grandparent she knows, really, is my mother.  Now, my mother is a fantastic grandma and if my kids only interact with ONE of their grandparents, my mother's the one to have...but...I can't help feeling a little wistful, a little melancholy, because the whole burden of grandparenting falls on her shoulders and my kids are missing something that I had in spades as a child.

I had an excess of grandparents growing up, what with divorces, remarryings, and all that.  I think I had eight at the height of grandparentage.  I loved them all, although my mother's father was probably my favorite.  Probably?  No...definitely.  We were kindred souls in some small ways.  I miss him every day.

My kids, though - they have my magnificent mother and once in a while Someone's mother, and that's kinda it.

I would have liked there to be fond memories for them - fishing, swimming, rambling in the woods, playing cards, sitting on a porch somewhere, chasing fireflies, indulgent laughter, cookies, all the things that I'm told are part of the grandparent package.

The Evil Genius barely knows his paternal grandfather.  Goddess knows I've tried, but I had to stop.

I'm sure if I worked harder, chased more, made even greater effort, the other grands would take a tiny bit more interest in my kids, but I don't have it in me to chase people down and beg them for love.  Not for me, not for my kids, not for anyone.  I can't help thinking that it'd be nice if THEY cared enough to make an effort.  Their actions have shown me that my kids (and I) do not matter enough, and I am not throwing good love down a hole and hoping for a return.

So my kids have one Gramlin, mostly, and one Gammy Beff sometimes, and that's a lot, and it's enough, and with our extended family of aunties and uncles and misses and misters and nana's, we fill in the gaps quite nicely.

Happy Grandparents' Day to them what celebrates it!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Finding the Way Down a Dark Path On A Moonless Night While Blindfolded

Altenatively:  Here, Have Some Sticks

Wow.  I just found out that a person I was acquainted with committed suicide a few days ago.  We weren't good friend, only met the once.  He was a talented musician and a very likable fellow, and I'm sorry we won't have a chance to make some good craic together.  Whatever drove him to it, I hope he left it behind and finds himself welcomed with warmth and fellowship on the other side.
Suicide isn't about the wanting or needing to die, it's about NOT wanting to keep on living without hope or happiness, about NOT wanting to continue on down a seemingly endless dark and dreary path, about NOT seeing anything else, any other way to escape.

People who are there, they look around and see a world they can't touch, can't be part of, can't even fathom.

We feel alien, alone, unwanted, abandoned and we want it to stop.  Our bodies and souls ache and we just want it to stop.  We are blinded by the noise and shadow and silence and all of it, everything, and we just want it to stop.  We see others slip free and we wonder why we keep on slogging down the path carrying our loads of stones, the weight is unbearable, and we just want it to stop.

Some of us have tried counseling, meditation, medication, unlawful substances, primal screaming, sex, dangerous hobbies, prayer, pulling ourselves up by the bootstraps, getting over it, just ignoring it, faith healers, hula dancing, and every other thing that has supposedly cured anyone else, ever, and it hasn't worked.  We have a malady, a very real physical malady attacking our psyche, and we fight with it every day.  Every.  Day.

Remember that scene in the first Lethal Weapon movie where Gibson's character tells Glover's character that every day he has to wake up and think of a reason not to do it, every single day?  Yup.

It's contagious, too - one goes and others see it as an answer and they go, and more see it, and more, and before you know it a half-dozen people have slipped loose from life and left a wake of sorrow, confusion, anger, and envy behind them.

And death doesn't solve anything, but the dead don't care because, well, they're dead. 

Now, listen up - I get it.  I do.  I've been there.  Often.  I know...I do...and if it's what you really want there's nothing in the world can stop you but if you think, even for the briefest moment, that maybe you'd like to try one more time to find a way to keep on THIS side of the veil and maybe could use someone to talk to, get in touch...with me, with a hotline, with a friend, with a stranger at the bus station.  Reach out.  It's weird, I know, but people DO care.  You can't see it or feel it or understand it because you're wrapped in a thick bubble of psychological ick that distorts everything you experience (I know this because I'm in that bubble, too), but it's true, they care.  We care.  I care.  You matter.

Some resources (sticks, if you will):

National Suicide Prevention Hotline:  1 (800) 273-8255 or  www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

IM Alive:  1-800-442-4673 or 

A list of hotlines by state with a link to international resources:  

Another list of international resources:  

Friday, September 11, 2015


The past few years I've avoided the whole 9/11 memorial thing, largely because I think it's become such a source of politics and divisiveness among us and I find that distressing.

This year I've been thinking quite a bit about what we have become, how we as a nation have let this event shape us.

I don't like it.

Rather than rail on and on about the slow erosion of civil rights and the swift degradation into a Lord of the Flies mentality that we seem to have experienced since that day, I'm going to post the above picture and spend part of the day contemplating the heroes in my eyes - the people who went into dangerous situations knowing they could be hurt or killed but going anyway because there was a need and they answered.  I will contemplate the victims - the people who were going to work, who were going about their day, when hellfire rained down on them.  I will contemplate the survivors - the people who were victims and heroes who didn't die but will carry September 11, 2001 with them until the end of their days.

I will also hope that some day soon we will become United again, by compassion, passion, wit, wisdom, experience, empowerment, creativity, innovation, love, and above all the freedom that we have long been so proud of but have, of late, had in awfully short supply.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Thank You, Amy Pence-Brown

My body has swum in the deep Atlantic ocean.  It has sailed boats and dived from rocks into the embracing waves.

My body has climbed mountains, and it has skied down them.  It has waded in creeks and streams and paddled across rivers.  It has been in caves and on natural stone bridges.

My body has walked through the woods, lovely and dark.  My body has stood in the sun and heat of a southeastern summer and withstood the worst storms that weather could throw at it.  My body has worked and harvested from the earth.

My body has held snakes and spiders and scorpions and been stung by bees and bitten by mosquitoes and scratched by cats and bruised by falls and car accidents and bumps and bangs.

My body has done without water and food.

My body has functioned through asthma and pneumonia and broken bones and a broken psyche.

My body has shaped, nurtured, carried life within it.  My body has carried children in its arms and on its hips and on its back.  It has hauled children in strollers and wagons and on sleds.  It has lifted children up and cuddled them close.  It has offered warmth, comfort, and protection.

My body has pushed cars and stood for hours in the sun and rain at the track and given shelter to baby animals and worked to help nurture wild creatures.

My body has been strong and fit and curvy and sexy.  My body has been fat and out of shape and tired and sore.

My body sags and is deflated and floppy and sometimes I look at it and think it is gross and wish it was different, but it is my body and it has done all of these things and more and as bodies go it's pretty remarkable.

And...it carries me, the essential me, the non-physical me, it carries me through every day not matter what I do to it or say to it, no matter how I care (or don't care) for it.  It just keeps going, determined to carry me to the end of my road as best it can.

I may never be beautiful in my eyes, but...I can at the very least remind myself of this amazing vessel that bears me through my days.  I can at the very least work towards stopping or muting the constant internal dialog about how I am something lesser because I do not meet some false standard of beauty.

I am as beautiful as I perceive myself to be.  I am as beautiful as I allow myself to be.  I can be beautiful in ways beyond physical.

You are beautiful, too.

Let's celebrate us.