Not to denigrate anyone’s achievement on this first day past #nanowrimo2016, but what I accomplished most this month pumping out 50,000 plus words of mostly spewed inanity was escape from non-sense of the preceding weeks, months and years culminating in the moral depravity our nation titled an election. This “novel” I scrapped together with mindless word vomiting at times was an exercise in the refined art of escapism, full on head-in-sand, ostrich hiding out from a reality I’m still not willing to participate in quite yet. I may opt out completely.
And so, the largest achievement of last month for me was this meditation on and practice of tuning out while tuning up the word count. I plan to stay right here, in cyberspace, MIA to the rest of reality–which I now understand is a choice, reality, that is. You make yours and I’ll make mine, and never shall an objective truth detour us from our subjective truths. Truth is lies and lies are truth. And while I acknowledge that we have obeyed the objective truth gods for far too long, this anarchy of subjectivism is a backlash of unknown depths and destruction.
So, I say fuck it. I’m just going to write my own world and to hell with the rest. As you were.
A bar. One of a few I frequent to write and imbibe heading into happy hour. During the day I wrote in a Vietnamese gluten-free, vegan make your own design of a meal restaurant around the corner. The owner is friendly and generous. He often gives me a free gluten free basil and chili home baked cookie or a piping hot freshly roasted slice of Kabocha squash, like he did today. I write there for hours, sipping a caffeine-loaded Vietnamese iced coffee, the one with loads of ice and condensed milk to offset the deep, strong coffee shots. He tells me about his mysteriously buckling knee for which no MRI nor doctor can discover let alone cure the ailment.
I wrote about well-being, connection, and compassion in companies–and got paid for it. I actually got paid to write something I believe in, a refreshing change from the usual 20 ways or things listicles that make me want to rip my eyeballs out of their sockets and drop them on the ice of my Vietnamese coffee. But it’s work. I can’t complain too much. Any day writing is better than a day slinging hash or practicing law for that matter.
And yet, the procrastination…why? It makes my job so much more difficult. I have no real patience for ease, I’m surmising.
But today at the corner bar, called The Corner, I sat on a stool and wrote my Nanowrimo tortured piece. It’s supposed to be a novel, but it’s a piece of shit, some sort of mosaic of events and dialogue and scenes that make no sense, have no order. It’s worse than last year, which at least had a thread if not grace and a point. This year’s is more than pointless. It’s almost a waste of time unless I can pull something out of it, some conclusion, reflection or resolution of what the hell happened to the world, my world among the larger world.
The U.S. Financial Crisis Commission determined the causes of The Great Recession of 2007 and afterward were as follows:
The U.S. Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission reported its findings in January 2011. It concluded that “the crisis was avoidable and was caused by: Widespread failures in financial regulation, including the Federal Reserve’s failure to stem the tide of toxic mortgages; Dramatic breakdowns in corporate governance including too many financial firms acting recklessly and taking on too much risk; An explosive mix of excessive borrowing and risk by households and Wall Street that put the financial system on a collision course with crisis; Key policy makers ill prepared for the crisis, lacking a full understanding of the financial system they oversaw; and systemic breaches in accountability and ethics at all levels.”
Money thugs everywhere like cats breathlessly pouncing on a field full of mice. No regulation, no one watching or understanding what was going on or turning a blind eye, while the wolves salivated and prospered. The huge money grab ended in 2008 officially with the real estate market plummeting and foreclosures skyrocketing.
My 45 year old house was worth over a million dollars in 2006 and by 2008, was worth closer to $450,000.00. Nothing made sense in the seething overground of financial shenanigans and thievery. But at home, there was just us: the kids and me. Frank worked.
I was 2 when Kennedy was assassinated. Did I sense the country’s overwhelming grief and fear? Did it stick to my tiny ribs and embed itself inside a pocket of my little brain? We are all vibrations, vibrating strings, emanating frequencies and dust. How could I escape the world that seeped inside my cells?
Seems befitting that on this weekend of gratitude, I conclude this huge though not impossible endeavor with the following:
While reintegrating to my life by inches, loving the smallest favors first like the grip of a long handled toothbrush or the pleasure of a private shit and shower, my own bed with more than two inches of mattress and a box spring in the quiet of my home, ragged as it was and is, snuggled inside the lefthand loop of a cul de sac; then appreciating bigger things like the love of a family that has been loving me–hard–more than I let myself feel, all this time.
My family, blood and adopted, came through for me in a way that shocked me, even though it could not have been more predictable. They wrote, visited, and watched; they stood by and pitched in. They witnessed helplessly as I crumbled and paid enormous sums to secure my freedom, cried for me in my grief but did not pity me nor make themselves the heroes; they took care of me.
JM stepped up for me and suffered like the brave and strong he never knew he was, taking up the mantle where I had dropped it. He came through for all of us, doing whatever he had to, and he proved to himself he was strong, something he needed to know but couldn’t since he had never needed to before. That was my job–ensuring that no one needed to be strong. I coddled them as organizer, unifier and fixer. Now they took up the reins and showed themselves worthy of the task. And I received.
What they and the entire jail system missed or ignored, though, is the futility of punitive measures. So many of these women young and old had much worse lives outside of jail. They would easily trade the abuse–constant shouting, cursing, shoving, terrorizing and haranguing–for the safety and regularity of meals and meds in jail. All of their efforts to harass, abuse, demean and dehumanize had already been done on the streets by drug addled family, friends and lovers, or poverty, pimps and official and unofficial authorities on the streets. They were impervious to the abuse. The only ones who suffered the doled out intended intimidation were the rarer folks like me who somehow found themselves swept up in a hurricane of their own misstepped making, befuddled and shocked. The rest could care less. Jail was temporary and worse awaited them on the outside.
I don’t believe everything happens for a reason. I subscribe to chaos. I believe in the randomness of the universe as movement, collision, coincidence and correspondence. I believe in an ontology of chance. Cause-and-effect is real, but we humans are not always accurate tracers of chains. We are a lazy species, thus the teleology of throwing-up-our-arms-at-space with a surrendering shake of the head and declaring that the proof of the universe’s supporting life lies in our being here–the best science has to offer after unsuccessfully tracing the mathematical and natural laws to their inevitable ends in hopes of figuring out everything, just everything. We theorize origins and evolutions. We interpret from variables of experience, anatomy, observation and subjectivity. I do not trust absolutes. I believe in intention and will, though not necessarily in intended results. Thus speaks the rational mind of me.
The smoke and whispers, the mystery of which intuition is born, lean into those uninformed leaps of faith inside an unthinking gut and take me in another direction: a life unfolds according to its makeup, an already-has composition that merely needs room to spread out and manifest. Choices come from inherent brain patterns in conjunction with pathways generated in reaction to lived experience. This orchestrated tapestry of evolving human is the carpet unrolling from birth to death, a definitive starting and ending point that always ever was because of whom I was born, when and where. In that way, choices logical and whimsical alike, are prefigured, patterns predetermined even in their ensuing alterations and modifications. A determinism I am not comfortable with somehow associates the mystery of the inexplicable to me–my fuzzy teleology.
The wall shook, rock crumbles beginning to fall even as the creature living underneath and behind it began slowly emerging, escaping the barrier. The image of my own making would take years to shatter.
Soccer squeezed the last drop of child connectedness present in me since birth, the longing to be with children, entertain them, love them, nourish and teach them, whether they were mine or others’. Soccer helped me prolong that self-nourishment, extract and exercise every morsel of that longing up til and beyond the passing of my children through the soccer loop.
My youngest is a year or two away from concluding that endless year in year out schedule of life around soccer, that sharing of time that we all could communicate and commune through the participation in it. As the end nears, a clear cut picture of its termination in view, coinciding with the embrittling of my bones and calcification of my mind, enervation of my drive and lust, I see that soccer was my destination and destruction, a pattern of life that breaks along with reputation, image, doplegangers self-created. I build a monument to my image and then swung a sledge hammer at it in my sleep walking state. Only, now I select the salvageable pieces and so limp along until the chosen pieces re-integrate, grow like regenerating brain tendrils to form the new old me.
Her reading skills caught up with the other students by the end of second grade, and I was fully indoctrinated in the volunteer life. I first volunteered as the room mom for her classroom admittedly to watch over her–hover. Unwittingly, I also signed up to be the art teacher for her class, though I thought I was signing up to teach about the art masters via books in a program titled, Meet the Masters. Turns out I signed up for is a program where an art teacher came five times a year to teach parents how to teach an art lesson.
When I found out during the orientation meeting that it was me doing and teaching art to second graders, I freaked out. Approaching the parent volunteer presiding over the orientation for all of the art volunteers, I uncomfortably sought my release: “Excuse me, but I thought this was something else. I am not an artist. I cannot do art, but I can help out in some other way.” She, a no-nonsense, thin, long-haired blond, small-framed woman only a few years my junior donning serious glasses and a South African accent replied gently but firmly, “Well, you certainly can do better than a 7 year old no matter how bad you think you are. Just try it. If you really can’t do it, we will replace you.” She pinned me. What other excuse or protest could I make? However, I consoled myself with the silent sulky retort, “I damn well sure can do worse than a 7 year old. Just watch me” as I grabbed my instruction sheets and left.
It turns out the workshops were therapeutic–an hour of focused forms and colors–even if I had to shame-facedly compare my art to the parents who clearly had art backgrounds or natural talent. Some were artists by trade or passion. My art was better, by a hair, than most of the 7 year olds, though some were clearly far more talented.