the passport photo

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it’s the worst. why'd i send it in? sigh. i needed a passport. i'd been putting it off. Why? because of the photo. i'm shy. i hate having my picture taken. i get nervous. i get stiff. the lighting is bad. i look older and less attractive than i already feel. multiply this by the power of 10. but i needed one. so i forced myself to do a test run. 

Usually, I don't dress up much, I never wear makeup and rarely wash my hair. before you freak out on that little tidbit - it's because it's so cold and dry where I live, my skin and hair are losing the battle with the elements. i try to be gentle so the amount of fallen hair that line my kitchen counter, bathroom floor and every sink in the house have a moment of silence before their final departure. this ongoing traffic jam of lost and fallen hair particles is too much for one tiny house to manage. my kids were used to it. oh! hair in the food? never a question. it was as normal as - pass the salt. 

i tried to make light of it, like - oh, that's cute, or - it's a little extra protein, or a little extra fiber? but it's exasperating, and slightly humiliating. when i went to tea recently with a friend and delivered her cup to the table, sure enough, when I looked, there, on the rim of her cup were one of my lost strands. i'm sure it's some mineral deficiency or other but let’s get real - i do not have good hair! 

Maybe it is because my nerves are shot. a lot. which burns up every good thing to keep the hair on my head. which takes me back to the passport photo. the guy at cvs came out from behind the counter & pointed me to the mug shot station. he tried, uselessly i may add, to steady the camera, which he was barely holding still, shaking from a hangover, or his own nerves. (probably from taking peoples pictures he knew they'd hate). it made me even more nervous, to see him nervous. so I didn't smile. my eyes had that deer in the headlight look. the cvs  “instant” photo promise were not met. it took him 15 minutes to just find the printer. omg. 

I just hate hanging around fluorescent lights and pharmacy smells waiting for my picture! which i knew was going to be a horror. I paid first, hoping i could race out as soon as he handed it to me, and peek at it stealthily from the recesses of my car. sure enough. just as I expected, I was fuzzy, with shaking, death grip eyes, and a slight mimic of what may be my lips. 13 dollars of pure horror. 

as i ran out of the store, he said i could come back and do it again! 

no thanks. not today. 

f**k astrological signs and other signature moments

i've been thinking a lot - I know - that's not a good thing, but it happens, that left brain, right brain thing. they say capricorns are more left brain types. I'm not gonna lie, the reason I hate astrology is because I don't know any interesting people who are capricorns. they're all nitwits, workhorses, or just plain boring, like me. case in point: nixon was a capricorn- definitely not the company I want to be associated with.

presidential diss aside, you could say i'm a pacifist. when i was a kid, i told god if i had a million dollars I'd use it to save the world! I'd use it for world peace. yeah. I was completely worried about the state of things, even way back when. not much has changed, just look around. do you think it's worse? it feels that way. of course, maybe corruption was always there and we just didn't see it, or want to see it. 

still, I'm noticing a boat load of shit coming down the road about now, and then there's that math issue. god and I weren't counting on inflation. I don't know, a million dollars could still do some good I suppose. we could pull an Oprah and do that car giveaway thing! or maybe not. that would just contribute to more pollution. of course, that's only if you believe in science and global warming, right? the 1% seem to have an issue with that, you know, that science thingie. ok. nix that, just to be on the safe side.

what to do? run for office? yeah! this is where the perennial rubber will really get a chance to meet the road. never mind astrology or whether your chevy or mercury's in retrograde. it ain't in the cars or the stars, it's what's happening here, right now, on planet earth. 

follow the signs to Washington!

 

on suffering.

I've known depression intimately. it's been “clinical.” I've suffered from anxiety attacks. I've tried acupuncture, yoga, meditation, and church - lots of church - the sunday, wednesday varietals with a bible class thrown in. I've gone to 12 step programs. i've been vegan, vegetarian, (twice), fruitarian, done juice fasts, and cleanses. I blamed food, relationships, my job, my drinking habits, or my weight as the reason for my misery.

It all had little or nothing to do with anything. 

I simply didn't know who I was, or what mattered, or what my favorite color was. I never knew if I was fat or thin or pretty or smart. I didn't know what was important, if I should vote democrat or republican, or even vote at all. This went on for a very long time.

I kept suffering, though I didn't want to suffer, and I kept trying to fix it.  I was hospitalized, institutionalized, and beaten. I blamed god or my childhood or my belief I wasn't a good person. I thought Sylvia Plath was romantic. How much pain do we have to be in before someone takes notice? 

No one noticed.

So I tried drugs - legal and illegal. I smoked. I wore black. I got fat. I got thin. My hair fell out. I wrote poetry and had affairs. Then everything changed after I had children. My narcissistic view of myself in the world disintegrated. Joyfully. Painlessly. Seamlessly. There they were, beautiful, unadulterated, flawless. Mine. For a season. To love and nurture and take care of. Not everyone finds bearing children and raising them the solution for a lifetime of pain. But for me, it was that simple. They loved me and I loved them, totally and completely. 

They saved my life.

cancer

i hate chemo, and how it makes us bald. i hate when we're bald from chemo it's hard to pretend we're not bald from chemo. why is cancer winning?  my friend’s father had brain cancer and was at hospice when she gave him this marijuana tincture. he's alive today- and cancer free. have you heard of this? it's not mainstream. it's not the science your doc can talk about. it’s not their fault. they're burned out, like everyone else. we're a culture of followers, plugged into fear. how can we learn new things when the kardashian drama is so intriguing and twitter wars dominate the universe? 

i was told i had cancer once. I wasn't scared of cancer. i was scared of the treatment. i'd been trained to never trust myself, or my body, but that all changed, because of that last mammo - the mammo i'd been putting off forever because i knew they'd find something! how did i know? that's their job. who else makes a living slicing and dicing and radiating? there we were, a revolving door of stoic women, frozen in faded, cotton gowns, surrounded by glossy magazines, waiting for a new set of hands sheathed in plastic to marinate and pull our tender breast tissue and cram them into a vise.

mr. radiologist, who clearly hadn't slept in a week, and is young enough to be my child, walked in afterward and said, “well, it looks like cancer.” ...panic starts with a catch in the breath, followed by a tsunami of cortisol. if i didn’t have cancer before, this might seal the deal. cortisol is now scurrying around my body like a rabbit, bounding into every cell it can find. what happened to the good ol' days? maybe try this script instead:

hello miss, how’s the fam? i see you're meditating and doing yoga. the kids? good! the boyfriend? what? an asshole? it seems a lot of you ladies here are with assholes. he scratches his stubbly cheek. do you think that has anything to do with why you're all getting breast cancer?

post script: to those who worried I had cancer. 

I may, or may not have. In my opinion, cancer cells come and go. they randomly set up shop and if our body's able, we nix it. if you have a test at the moment cancer cells are around, well- that's when the docs yell cancer. in my case, away it went, with no intervention but my concern and attention. 

 

 

 

ghosts

my mother's trying to get hold of me. she's dead you know. that part's important. i was afraid of her my whole life. I thought she'd kill me after she tried to kill my father. that's when I got locked up deep inside myself. i hadn't seen her in years. the last time I did, the conversation was as stiff and sterile as the booze she drank. she was a serious alcoholic, and outlived the energizer bunny. I secretly wished she'd died fifty years before. funny how you can hate someone, and never admit it.

last week, i got the feeling she was trying to contact me - from the other side. the lights started going on and off. sometimes it would happen in the middle of the night. they say it's difficult for dead people to communicate - that makes sense. but electricity... they can work with that. hence, the light thingie. on and off.

in any event, I had no desire to communicate with my dead mother. I wasn't interested, but I was curious. enough. so I thought, o.k. if that's you- show me a white feather.

the very next day i get a box with my new shoes in it - with a white feather.

drunk

one night, when i was seven, my mother decided to kill my father. i don’t know if she put any thought in it- or if it was just a combustion of years of unhappiness, alcoholic binges, his marital infidelity, or maybe the worrisome dna she'd inherited from her mother. it was completely and totally awful. she charged into the room i shared with him, brandishing a butcher knife, her gown flung open, exposing voluminous breasts, and as the air was sucked out of my small body i heard someone screaming -  it was me.

shocked, I watched the butcher knife come crashing down, headed directly toward my father's heart. waking, his arm instinctively blocked it. when it was over. i guided her back to her room and put her to bed. my father left, never to return. I knew the woman he left me with, the woman who tried to kill him, the woman who kept me for child support, would one day put a knife in me. 

it took a long time to realize, she already had. 

sorrow

it’s from a million things.

stress. cortisol. hormones. 

not saying no ever. 

not knowing you deserve better.

yeah - there’s sugar and carbs and too much of everything, and secret eating and drinking and crying. 

and a lot of toxic spills on your heart.

but things change - they can and they will. the messes get cleaned up one by one till everything shifts and feels different. inside, outside, all around. 

when you're in love, the world is shiny and bright and food seems unnecessary. 

life is full and satisfying and complete. 

but when love gets broken, the cracks go wide and the empty places go deep, and seem impossible to fill.

you can get fat over it -  if you try to stop the pain. 

start where you are. 

hold on. tight. to something. your cat or your journal or the view out the window. find a place that's quiet and still and remember.

you will remember. you're worth it. worth believing in. worth taking care of.

even if the only one taking care of you, is you.

the lies you've been telling yourself? talk to them. they were there for a reason.

in some weird, wonderful way they were trying to keep you safe - from the big, scary world you landed in. 

everyone has 15 gangsters living in their head. 

the world isn't a bad place. it’s just not perfect. it’s messy.

it’s hot and dry and freezing and warm and blizzardy and tempestuous. it’s true and honest and mostly chock full of pros, and a few cons.

it's black and white and red and green. and so are you.

and when the grass grows, i hear it smile.