How To Destroy Perfection

Before religion, I was whole.

Before politics, I never felt guilty for it.

The mores of civilization unravel our beings into tangles that they say can only be teased out by more of its trappings.

(Matthew 27:51  And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent…)

 

Mother

My stepbrother’s funeral was today.  I couldn’t go…too far away.  I hadn’t seen him in about 20 years anyway.  But I saw photos on facebook.  Saw his urn…silver, etched with flying birds.  He was cremated because his body was too far gone by the time it was discovered.  He’d been missing for three weeks.  He was an addict.  His mother finally reported him missing from several states away and the police knocked his door down and found him in bed.

I’m a mother now.  It’s been two years since my last post.  I’ve been busy.  Today is actually the day he was conceived two years ago.  My life was proceeding normally…all the usual angst about “what to do with my life”.  Moving to a new place, plans for turning it into an urban homestead.  Making new friends in a new city.  Then suddenly I’m pregnant.  After years of thinking that couldn’t happen.  My first reaction was an epic panic attack.  Even though I wanted this.  It’s as if I somehow knew deep down that I was about to die.  I knew babies changed your life.  Everyone sportscasts that. I knew it would be worth it.  Or at least that everyone says that.  I did not know that I would die in every way except in that final, physical way.

I was turned inside out.  Depression ravaged me.  My body is unrecognizable to me.  A death that drags on over months.  The pregnancy, the infancy.  There is really no reclaiming your life when you’re a mother.  You have to rebuild it.  You have to allow yourself to be reborn into something wholly new because the old you is just not ever coming back.  Even if you want it to, and you probably do.

All this makes it sound like having a child is a tragedy.  It is in a way.  But no one is ever prepared for how vulnerable they will become in their love of their child.  I don’t know how it’s possible but now, at nearly 16 months postpartum I have realized I literally love him more with each passing day.  I love unconditionally.  And to be perfectly frank, I know I’m supposed to love everyone that way but I don’t.  He is the first human being I have ever loved with no strings attached.  And it is scary as fuck.  It pulls on my heart in a way that feels like he might just yank it right out of my chest if he starts running across the room one day, away from me.  Like the farther he gets from me, the more dangerous it is.  But that’s the whole point of raising a child, isn’t it?  Teach them to become independent and leave you for their own life?  The thought of it makes me shiver.

It’s through the eyes of a mother that I observe the death of my stepbrother.  Through the eyes of his mother.  People are always saying to people about tragedies “I can’t imagine…”  Well I can imagine.  And then I have to stop.  Because I it feels like dying to imagine it.  I now know three people who have lost children.  And I don’t know how they continue to live.  I don’t know how they made it past the loss.  I’m afraid I wouldn’t want to live anymore and that the will would never return.

Just today I saw a warning pop up in my feed about a duo of suspicious men trying to abduct children from the play area at a local mall.  Nope.  Never leaving the house again.  Can’t even.

So much love.  So much risk.

 

Size 12

I used to wield my body like a weapon.  My soul was starving, forever fretting and yearning.  I always knew what painful misfortune each little innocent flutter of eyelashes would inflict.  I was a precision instrument.  A whistling arrow.  An inlaid dagger, gilded and ceremoniously deadly.  A noose made of lace, if you’d prefer it.

True love has made me soft and innocuous.  I prefer it to that crazed powerful hunger.

But I look in the mirror and sigh.  I am no longer deadly.  Just a soft woman now.

Harmless as a mouse.

The Accidental Friend

Dear xxxxx,

I’m writing because I’m stubborn, I suppose.  I should let it go and proclaim loudly that I never cared for you anyway.  (Not true.)  There’s only two reasons I can think of that after a week, you still haven’t responded.  Either you don’t care, or you haven’t read my message.  I’m a bit of a control freak.  I believe relationships are to proceed according to a set of rules based in sound communication skills and if they don’t…well, they may not work.  As for us, I don’t know.  I know for a fact we have different ideas about how friendship works.  And given what I know about your distaste for romance, I can only deduce that your ideas and expectations of communication in any relationship type are a little odd, by my standards.

I have never felt able to connect with you.  I don’t know why.  I have no such problem with your close friends.  And I wonder mightily “how do they do it?!”  You are a very intimidating person.  You’re knowledgeable, professional, ambitious, and candid.  All things I am not.  Things that I’m painfully aware that I am not.  My knowledge of things is broad and shallow because of that very lack of ambition.  (Or maybe lack of confidence.)  Although I have an abiding fondness for structure, my rebellious and loose nature make me simultaneously loathe the stiff and demanding expectations of corporate professional standards, which often strike me as very anti-human and arbitrary.  I hate dress codes and rules preventing employees from appearing as actual humans with needs rather than needless robotic servants.  You really seem to dig that stuff for whatever reason.

Sometime you are alien to me.  I do not understand you.  I understand your love of others and your logic and even your pragmatism.  Maybe especially your pragmatism.  But I’m never quite sure where I stand with you and I just don’t understand why.  You seem to to withhold some of yourself.  I can’t read you and I’m usually quite suspect that you’re judging me.  I always feel judged.  Until you smile at me.

Your obedient servant,

xxxxx

War Machine

Violence has been on my mind. A lot. I’ve done a couple “shame on you” posts lately about people I love and respect indulging in the debasement and demoralization of fellow human beings that fall outside of their belief camp. They’re a waste of words. Only a frustrated reaction when I feel helpless against the tides of emotional violence around me. I’m afraid it’s contagious and that I’ll eventually succumb to all my judgmental tendencies and join in with the self-righteous, pointing fingers…having all the answers. Of course I want to. Who doesn’t love being right?

I’ve been thinking about war (yes, timely) and the millions of infinitesimal reasons we have to fight. Opinions suddenly loom so much bigger in our lives than they once did. They’ve been gaining momentum for years and now the zeal is leaking into every single thing. We’re all so disgusted and appalled by differing opinions and beliefs.

You can’t ignore the media’s role in this, or the insidious internet algorithms, designed for your mental and spiritual comfort, ensuring you rarely encounter ideas that challenge your beliefs on the internet. Results bolster what you already think, and your suspicions are cemented. This double team inflates us with pride and belonging, kindles our blood against our enemies, and reminds us of just how many people are out there, waiting to violate us in some way. We all have our pet fears. Losing solvency. Terrorism. Discrimination. Sexism. Starvation. A total loss of freedom. Disease. Plague. Police states. Socialism. Religious extremism. The death of the planet. So many things.

The psychology of marketing is interesting. It targets and exploits with precision and make no mistake, it is a science. And it is employed daily. Every successful business pays close attention to its marketing. And we are surrounded by nothing but business. I think we’ve all come to accept that government is business, just as media is. Think on that.

As all of these things collected like a cloud of debris in my mind, an idea started to form. As a pacifist, I’ve been faced with confronting the reality that non-violence is a form of enabling aggression. And I know…violence begets more violence. I know that. But allowing perpetual violence to be committed against you really isn’t fun. I don’t know the answer. I never arrived at a better understanding of this issue but I was wondering why some people are constantly living a paranoid lifestyle, even when they remain unaffected by violence. They may hear of it happening to others, but they are still enjoying relative peace and comfort. (You know the sort, you may be living it yourself…collecting food and guns, preparing for the worst. Keeping abreast of the latest and greatest intrusions on your freedoms. Living life in a sort of outrage against all the things that might happen and seeing the things that ARE happening as proof that things are progressively getting worse.)

There’s nothing wrong with being prepared. But there is a point at which preparation becomes such a source of preoccupation that the enjoyment of life is diminished in degrees and the people experiencing it don’t even seem to be aware of it. Life becomes about retaining what little peace/freedom/abundance you have left and you begin to see blessings as things that are about to be taken from you. People in this state are on edge. People on edge are prone to violence. I don’t mean in a mentally unstable way. I mean being on edge almost always precedes violence. It is often the next step in an escalating progression of events, whether it’s emotional violence or physical violence.

Everyone wants peace even if they don’t think its attainment on a global scale is realistic. Everyone wants personal peace for themselves. Every single last person. And for there to be global peace, personal peace will have to come first. I’ve been thinking about our media dominated lifestyles in this country and how everything about it is the antithesis of personal peace. We are manipulated into this constant state of outrage and watchfulness. We are a country constantly on edge with each other, enjoying brief respites of peace here and there. We pepper our days with videos of cats doing silly things and heartwarming pay-it-forward stories. We hope for a sense of community and try to make our encounters with other humans civil or even friendly. But the war machine is always there, reminding us to be afraid and not wanting to be caught off guard and unprepared, we relent and reluctantly follow the white rabbit down the hole of “truths” we will need to survive in this hostile world and we live life on edge. And there is no peace.

All The Passive Aggressive Things I Want To Post On Facebook

Why are men so careless?  Why do they take unnecessary chances with the wrong things?  This makes them untrustworthy!  Don’t they know this???

You should be ashamed of yourself for posting such derisive, judgmental political excrement whose only purpose is to divide and debase.  That’s fucking lazy and useless in a world that already has enough emotional violence.  If you find yourself filled with such disgust for a certain group of people you feel are beneath you, either do something concrete about it and join the dark side or shut up. 

Your attempt to get a rise out of me is amusing.  I see you are still the same.  You’re only about as annoying as a single gnat.  Any power you once had over me has long ago dissolved.  A decade later I see things clearly…you are beneath me.  Always were.  I just didn’t know yet.  Go smoke some more weed and mind your own business.

No one cares about your workout.  Shut up.

We get it.  You’re life is cool and perfect.  Stop bragging.  It is not endearing. 

(I am much too reserved to actually say these things.  I loathe confrontations and hate hurting feelings.  However…I’m hormonal and these things needed to come out.  Because fuck!  People should really just shut up sometimes!)

The Irony Of Civilization

The sounds of civilization sound anything but civilized.  The garbage truck sounds like a truck full of squealing pigs being slaughtered.  Lawnmowers hammer the brain into a pulp that turns a quiet sunny day into a joke.  Dogs bark into eternity sounding the alarms that pierce bodies with the watchfulness of adrenaline. Mechanized life swims around us in buzzes and roars, sometimes water-boarding us with phantom hums.  Wireless and radio and Microwave and sour dispositions and television, that idol of images.  Savage trespasses on the original innocence of spirit.  Civilization, my ass. 

At least so-called pre-civilized thought (or more likely ill-understood paganism) is focused and pure.  Not diluted with a billion voices and their manifestations, all wrestling to get on top of each other.  We can no longer be individuals.  We’re all merging into an amalgamation of overlays and ven diagrams.  A person would have to run far and hard to escape to the clutches of his time and place.

 

You Could Make A Killing

How can so much be said, so quickly, clearly spilling over the edges of normality and there still remains so much unsaid?  There are wells of intimations and Pavlovian responses huddled between the words.  The spaces are pregnant pauses.  Lochs.  Dams.  Closed doors.  Iron gates.  I see things but pretend not to.  Like always.  And still, there are galaxies of words just out of range, sensed by some unknowable subtlety.

I hold my hand close and tight, hopefully inscrutable.  But something has slid away in the night.  It’s no longer this urgent, volcanic compulsion that I can barely mask.  It’s not a whisper telling me to be bad for the sake of wildness itself.  It’s a quiet decision.  The window had passed.  I no longer feel on the verge of confessing every wrong, hopeful thought.  Those thoughts just float by in their fleecy way.  I’ve seen that future and it crashes and burns into the past.  It is hopeless need and tragic brokenness.  Fire consuming itself.  Unbearable intensity and then even more unbearable apathy.  A dirty bent sign reads “There is no healing this way.  Next rest stop 50 years.”

Feral Children

In the woods I revert to a primitive form of myself.  A feral child.  An explorer.  A fearless hunter.  Instincts pulsing, pushing me over the next hill, around the next outcropping.  Across every river. I am something pure again.  I forget my separation from God and Men.  I forget everything.  There is only this one wild moment. Brown leaves underfoot, bugs, the triangular formations of shale, a carpet of trillium and water that never stops.

A Story Of Entanglement, Murder, and Regret

Once, I received a suicidal cry for help from freecycle.  An email sitting on the screen looking innocent enough.  Seeming to be wanting a raincoat I was offering.  But one click and the desperation tumbled into the room with me.  A religious woman, or more religious than me anyway (which is not at all).  I’ve since lost the email but it went something like “I’m terribly lonely and miserable and I want to die. I hide it from everyone.  I can’t talk to anyone I know, can we please meet and talk?”   After considering that she might actually be a murderous psychopath and a man, I followed my instincts and advised her to meet me in a very public place.  I can’t turn my back on suffering.  I never could.

She never showed.  I emailed her, thinking maybe she’d done it and never heard back.  I scoured the obits.  Nothing.  And the experience marked me.  I couldn’t stop thinking about how lives and events intertwine and in a moment of brilliantly inspired near-omniscience, I wrote a blog post connecting that event in a long thread of events going all the way back to Nazi Germany and the invention of the Volkswagen. 

It was a masterpiece.  My most viewed post.  But time passed and eras changed and I grew to hate that blog for very good reasons not worth mentioning now.  I deleted the whole thing.  Lost years and years of writing, my masterpiece along with it. 

A few years later the nearly forgotten name from the email appeared in the obituaries.  In the newspapers, on national television, everywhere.  It may as well have been painted onto the helicopters that circled my town for days covering the search for her body.  She was brutally murdered and dismembered, stuffed in a tree with the bodies of another woman and the woman’s son.   It was a dark autumn, the color of rain and soot.  The hearts of an entire county were heavy and frightened.  Horrified.

I wish more than ever that I’d never deleted that blog.  Things take such crooked paths.  They intersect and bisect and flow and weave and gather and disintegrate.  All we can do is remember them and try to make out the patterns.