Inch By Inch, Row By Row

I’m gonna make this garden grow. All it takes is a rake, and a hoe, and a piece of fertile ground. Inch by inch, row by row, someone bless these seeds I sow, someone warm them from below ’til the rain comes tumblin’ down…

Gardening is a life lesson. The whole kit and caboodle right there – from pulling those weeds, digging up those rocks, to preparing the soil – and, finally, planting the seeds.

And it’s never done until harvest time. There are weeds to pull, bugs to fight off, and tender care all summer long. Even after harvest it’s wise to clean up the garden, and maybe sow winter rye or something that will keep the soil in place over autumn into late fall.

Winter is the time to plan, and wait, but Spring comes upon us often fast and furious. The cacophony of insects, birds, animals, and mammals all jockeying for space to nest and begin the next generation to carry on.

Sometimes all the love and care in the world doesn’t keep blight away, or relieve stunted growth. Sometimes the weather is bad for weeks on end, and all you can do is start over, if there’s enough time left in the season, or hope next year will be better.

What is more hopeful than a seed, and a garden?

Inch by Inch, Row by Row

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Fleeting

Another aunt, my Godmother, Aunt Francis, died on May 22nd. I called that morning to see if I could bring my mother for a visit that weekend, and her daughter told me she had just passed away.

I knew my aunts dying would be tough. I thought it would feel unbearable. I didn’t expect emotional silence.

Am I inured to death now? It’s where we’re all going, so I guess it’s the age-old question of why we’re even here.

Those of us who’ve rejected religion’s narrative determine our own meaning of life, and decide our ethics and morality through consequence.

I try not to hurt others because I know what it’s like to be hurt. I appreciate love, goodness, helpfulness, compassion, decency, respect, and a live-and-let-live approach as long as they’re not harming me or someone else – without their permission.

I see what hate, unkindness, disrespect, and unethical behavior bring, and do what I can to act from my best self.

Maybe Aunt Fran retains some consciousness, some sentience, outside of her body – and if so, I hope she’s with family who went before her.

Maybe it’s all a computer simulation as Elon Musk, and others, believe.

I know that life hurts – a lot. I also know there’s joy, gladness, goodness, etc., but the continued suck-ass elements of life overshadow life’s ease.

I’m sad about my Aunt Fran’s passing. I love her. I enjoyed her energy, her personality, her presence. I’m grateful she lived. She really lived – she didn’t merely exist. She was beautiful, humorful, and created beauty, order, and children, whom she got grandchildren from. She had many friends, and belonged to a community who mourn her passing.

You’d think I’d be used to a world where loss is as great as gain, if not greater, but it’s still wounding.

I used to think humans were unique that way, but we’re not. Apes, elephants, dolphins, whales, and many other species also grieve, and care about their communities.

We’re just along for the ride, however long it lasts, and I suppose it’s up to us to make it a worthy journey.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

How Lucky We Are

Near misses are ubiquitous. I nearly died twice, that I’m aware of – those really close calls. When I was 19 I felt the breeze of a motorcycle as I almost stepped into its speeding path crossing a busy street, but my sister pulled me back from disaster. The motorcyclist stopped and, visibly shaken, asked if I was alright. I had no idea what had nearly happened – only that I felt a slight breeze and didn’t understand why my sister tugged on me. It was only reflecting later that I had a stomach drop realizing I narrowly missed disaster, if not death.

That same summer I toppled over while attempting a yoga pose that I thought I should be advanced enough to do, hearing a couple of crunches in my neck as I landed. I stayed there nearly an hour before my sister got home, fearing a broken neck. Luckily, but also unluckily, I didn’t break my neck, but I did damage two discs, which caused great intermittent pain ever since, but I finally had surgery a few years ago when my spinal column had become so thin that I was in danger of paralysis.

I waited ten years, hoping that advances in surgery would make a complicated and dangerous surgery less complicated and dangerous, but achieved the opposite. Replacement discs were available once I finally had surgery, but my neck was so bad I was no longer a candidate for them…

I lost two major nerves from my neck due to that surgery, but not because of surgeon negligence. He was an amazing surgeon who did a fantastic job with a super delicate surgery. It took nearly a year before I had any use of my arm, which dangled from its socket, causing a frozen shoulder, and considerable pain, as well as years of physical therapy which I am still doing. I am chronically weak in my left arm, but I can move it now, and went from only able to lift 3 lbs to now lifting 8 lbs, while my right arm can press 30 lbs.

It took EMS, or electro-magnetic stimulation, to fire the muscle fibers in my atrophied arm while the nerves grew back. It felt like a gang of bees stinging me, but I gained muscle back.

My one criticism of the surgery was after-care. I found out about EMS on my own, not from the surgical department. I also found a neurological chiropractor trying an experimental therapy which greatly improved my progress, but I found out about that from a spiritual healer, not my regular chiropractor, or other medical practitioners.

I also found out about Tong Ren from my spiritual healer friend, which also helped, but not as much as the mirroring technique from the neurological chiropractor. He told me I lost valuable healing time because it was over two months before learning about EMS, time which the EMS could have been most beneficial. The neurological chiropractor directed me to experimental mirroring, where I would stand with my left shoulder against and somewhat behind a free-standing mirror so that when I looked in the mirror, my brain registered my right arm as my left arm.

I could feel my left arm responding to the exercises I was doing with my right arm, which was pretty cool, but because the nerves were renewing, I still couldn’t move my arm on its own.

Losing motion in my arm gave me great respect for my neurological system and the billions of motions we accomplish from thought to nerve firing. We are truly fantastic machines.

But we are also fragile machines. We are so easily wiped out, either by disease, by congenital disorders, by accident, or by life’s hostilities, such as animal attacks and poisoning, natural disasters, or ourselves, and other humans.

Especially ourselves and other humans. How many times have any of us driven, or been riding in a vehicle, and come a millisecond, or a mere inch from disaster? We all know of those not so lucky, or are perhaps among those not so lucky, but survived.

I think this post is about gratitude for how long I’ve endured, and acknowledgement of how amazing it is any of us make it out of childhood or young adulthood – before our frontal lobes are fully developed – and even after we’re fully connected in our brains and still do stupid things that we barely escape serious or life-ending consequences for.

Life-ing is hard. Be good to yourself – and others (as much as possible).

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Write Now

I have the writer’s nemesis: writer’s block. It’s why I have several half-finished stories.

This is a big part of my shame, the parts of me I wish I could surgically remove and join the doer world.

Books, articles, videos, podcasts, psychiatrists have been consulted – and I still procrastinate.

The controlling editor in my head won’t let me write a sentence in peace – there’s no ‘getting it out and edit later’ for me.

But writing calls to me anyway.

Writing is this beautiful, unhampered soul just waiting for me to get over myself and create. Why does that terrify me?

It’s a rhetorical question. I know the answer, or at least I’ve been given several explanations from the above list of resources – especially the psych docs.

Information is power, sure, and I’m writing now because this is a chunk. This isn’t fraught like finishing a story is.

It’s important that I write – even if it’s never published – even if no one likes it.

I’m writing because it’s what I must do. I just know, or believe, I can be and do better.

Living up to my potential is what life’s waiting for me to do, and I’m only a chronic disappointment to myself, and probably my mother, and possibly my family and everyone who knows me.

Except that’s part of the big lie the boogeyman in my head blocks me with. I give my energy, witting or unwitting, to fear. The unwitting I can do nothing about, but the part of me that knows has to step in and, gently (for me anyway), take pen in hand – or keyboard – and begin.

Maybe I’ll be found a failure and a fraud, but how can I fail any worse than I already have by never following through?

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

And That’s How It Is

I’ve been so stuck in the past – as though it’s vital I get back there, as though that’s the only part of my life that mattered, as though now is a wasteland unworthy of notice when it is actually rich, and actually all there is. The past is gone – just like Steven Tyler sang in Dream On

all those years ago when, ironically, he was just becoming an adult.

I think the pain makes me feel alive, the longing gives me a sense of purpose, like: ‘Don’t forget how things were!’ – but it’s a lot of revisionist history because so much of my early life sucked-ass.

I was battling panic disorder, undiagnosed major depression, and PTSD – before PTSD was a word, and then only by soldiers who had witnessed untold horrors qualified.

Well, sorry, but trauma is trauma & fucks you up for life. Trauma literally changes your brain. My brain is different from non-traumatized brains, so stop telling me to have a better attitude! It doesn’t work like that! (“That’s not how this works! That’s not how any of this works!“)

It’s also accepting, or trying to accept, that my beautiful boy, the light of my life, has grown up and not only doesn’t need or want my counsel, or my – anything – but he’s a man, and wants to be seen as he sees himself. I cannot divorce my connection to him as my boy, so therein lies the rub. So, that’s present pain.

I’m older. That’s present pain. There’s nothing I can do about it. That’s present pain. I’m lonely for connection more than just my significant other. That’s present pain. I can’t seem to hold a job. That’s present pain. My family is dying off. That’s past and present pain. I miss old connections. That’s past and present pain.

We’re living in bizarro world with dangerous politics and a megalomaniac president. That’s present pain, panic, anxiety, and PTSD!

Those are my fears writ large. The President is basically Michael Rapunzel, the head of the commune/cult, and the President’s sycophants, like Rapunzel’s, can’t see his horror, or they revel in their chance at power and gain riding on his coat tails.

I’ve been down this road and now I’m living through it again. It’s harder because I know the outcome. It’s all about oppression and control, not co-operation or decentralization of power. The President, like Rapunzel, is mentally ill, and no one is stopping him.

I can look at the present pain in my life and do what I can to minimize it. I know it’s also a flux issue. My feelings, needs, and desires change – sometimes on a daily basis  – but there are times I’m truly joyful instead of longing for it.

There are days I’m connected to life and loneliness vanishes.

There are times my son calls or texts and I feel better for our connection rather than inadequate or stupid.

I’ve even been kind and accepting of my aging at times instead of railing against it – but anything I’ve ever let go of has claw-marks all over it.

And string hanging off those claws.

And glue holding the string on.

And then duct tape when the glue starts to peel…

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

The Bullshit of Aging

Thinner skin, and that’s not a metaphor. Droopy, collagen-lacking, dull skin. Eyes receding into my skull as the muscles grow lax. The free ride was over a decade or more ago, but I didn’t do all the work necessary to keep up appearances (I also didn’t & don’t have the money for restoration).

Even if I did have the money for body reconstruction, who knows how I’d end up looking. Is a circus-freak look better than looking old? For some, that’s a resounding yes, for others, there’s no going back once you head down that rabbit hole no matter the regret.

What am I chasing? Eternal youth? No, just the appearance. Relevance, inclusion, and respect are my aims – and self needs to go in front of those words. Why do I feel less worthy of notice? Advertising and youth culture are certainly a part of that, but loss is the main theme, along with fear.

My nemesis.

I can’t hear you, or see you as well as I used to, and my joints make exercise slower going, but I’m still doing it. Use it or lose it isn’t some far away mantra anymore.

We are pure biology – and maybe there’s a spirit or soul that animates us and gives us individuality – but there’s no stopping the facts of life. Once the baby-making years are over, and menopause is in full swing, libido nose-dives, vaginal skin thins and makes sex painful. The good news is that the E-String & Estrace work wonders for that. The bad news is increased cancer risk. Aye yi yi.

I finally have a good man with a great bod who loves me & sex won’t lead to kids, and my desire is more for reading a good book by a warm fire no matter how much I psyche myself up. Sex is rumored to be 99% mental – the fuck you say! Nope, it’s biological. Of course mood & circumstances come in to play, but when you are right there, doing all you can to feel sexy & have a willing partner who’s totally sexified, and your bod says, ‘meh’ – that’s just bullshit.

I guess there’s Viagra for women now, but the fact we need these pills and potions to fight nature’s course just sucks. We face death by a thousand cuts long before we succumb to whatever it is that’s going to get us.

I will NOT go gentle into that good night, and I will rage, rage, against the dying of the light.

You & I, Dylan Thomas, you & I.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

I See Her

She’s so open to the world. She likes learning, and believes all that’s told her – she has no reason to doubt yet. She doesn’t know people manipulate and lie to get what they want, and she’s learning how to navigate the anger and family dysfunction around her.

Her sisters were everything to her, but it didn’t work the other way.  Her oldest sister was kinder, and seemed so worldly. But that’s the way it is for younger siblings. The older ones seem wise and wonderful, even if they’re also often unkind.

She is always seeking. She looked for god and found only more questions, not the promised answers. She had to let it go so she could live.

Her life moved on, the pace quickening with each year.  A son helped her grow & mature into a woman and mother, but the challenges mounted with little respite.

Time wore on, her son now a man off on his own, leaving her floundering for several years seeking stability and balance, and finally realizing nothing’s a permanent state but ongoing negotiations – or at least that’s how it is for her.

A room full of unanswered questions, and unrealized hopes & dreams stands open for cleaning and sorting, but where to begin?

question sign
https://www.flickr.com/photos/colinkinner/2200500024/

Was it Mary Poppins who said that’s it’s always best to start at the beginning? Perhaps I just needed her to say that.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

Into November

This is my tough time of year. I notice my melancholy in October – the end of summer transition – and I do what I can to mitigate it. I have a light-box that provides full-spectrum light, and I’ve busied myself with Halloween decorations, & attending a party, but I missed my son and the Halloween fun we shared when he was little.

I made the mistake of telling him, hoping for some connection or commiseration – I know, I know – am I stupid, or high?, and he was not nostalgic. I think it freaks him out that he was ever a little kid, and that I remember it all. It makes no difference that he’s getting older, he’ll always have the child perspective, and I’ll always be the weird has-been parent. I should have shared my longing with a friend, or a therapist…

So, I binged on Halloween candy, sugar-coating my feelings, and started pulling out my cold weather clothes which I’ll wash & put in the bureau after putting away the Halloween decor.

It will take some getting used to the brown and greying landscape again, and my mood will shift when the cloud-blanketed sky moves on & the sun illuminates the last golden leaves clinging to branches, or providing shadow-play through the woods and surrounding hillside.

Sauteing onions and garlic for the chicken soup creates more warmth and delicious aroma, heightened when coming in from the cold, and satisfying my hunger – unlike the sugary snacks that take more than they give.

Writing helps too. Getting out the essence of my longing – parsing my underlying fear of irrelevance, of aging, and of my existential loneliness.

Remembering that youth’s bounty was mostly a more flexible body because my life was dogged by my dark story and my clinical depression. Having more energy & vitality was nice, but I mostly just existed, and it’s only now, with better perspective, and some relief of my depression and anxiety through TMS, that I’ve been living more than existing.

Aging is payment for life on Earth – and regardless of relative time scales – everything decays, and nothing stays the same, no matter my, or anyone else’s, wishes.

Acceptance is about the only choice I have if I’d like some peace, but until acceptance and approval get untangled for me, life remains a battle.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

 

Aging Gracefully

I have no concept of that sentiment except ‘don’t complain’. Who among us would welcome aging’s insults? Perspective is a different story. I’d much rather have the perspective I have now than I did at twenty, though I thought I knew all there was to know of any importance.

And we do know a lot at twenty. We’re not idiots (unless we actually are); we’re just inexperienced.

I made some colossally poor decisions in my teens and twenties – choices I would make differently now – and some I wished I had then, but that all goes into the experience bucket. Those poor choices helped me grow and make different choices. I don’t know if they were ‘better’ choices, but they were more helpful, often.

Choosing therapy was a good decision. It has taken the better part of my life to use half the wisdom gained through good therapists (along with how to spot a terrible one – or even if a therapist isn’t a good fit, or if I could go no further with them).

So many decisions were fear-based, and there’s no do-over, so I have to live with that. Some non-action turned out in my favor – by grace – or luck, so I’m grateful.

I’ve been seeing more of my selfish, self-seeking behavior and it stings to know I’m a shitty human sometimes, but I’m still alive so I can change.

I hate aging, but I’m grateful for my relatively strong body. I have to work for it, and sometimes I skip work-outs, but forgiving myself is important because being an asshole isn’t going to make me feel or do better.

I quit alcohol six months ago. It’s kind of incredible that much time has passed. That was my only goal then, but I’ve since slowly gotten into a recovery program as well – although I still loathe the cultish vibe but recognize that for some, it’s recovery or death. I have only to look at my parents’ history to know it could, and likely would, have gotten worse for me had I not quit.

I know alcohol addiction is ‘cunning, baffling, and powerful’, to quote AA literature, as well as understanding that I will find myself without defense against the first drink, and my only remedy for continued sobriety is to work with others wanting sobriety.

Alcohol also contributes to aging quicker. Sugar is the real culprit, so I have to cut down on sweets if I want to cut down inflammation, which contributes to aging.

It’s tough to see my once smooth, collagen-filled skin starting to look like droopy lizard hide.

So, embrace it, the gurus say. I might, eventually. It’s still fairly new though, so I’m in the mourning phase. Now I’m supposed to become a sage, or crone – realizing that my intellect is still keen, and could be for the rest of my life, barring disease or accidents – and true power is more of the mind than body. Still, I don’t like how menopause has wrecked my libido, or how my skin is thinning, or my hair, once vibrant strawberry-blonde, is now fading & becoming white streaked.

Acceptance is not approval and is the first step to freedom. I can’t be held captive to something I make peace with, but it’s a process, and anything I ever let go of has claw marks all over it.

Graceful I’m not; aging I am.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Sea(son) Change

I’ve mentioned that transitions are tough. Over-arching changes, like the season, the landscape, life & death, create dissonance (some more than others) to which I respond seeking consonance.

Mr. Holland’s Opus exemplified the hero’s journey archetype that has always stayed with me, and of course the title’s double entendre showcases how the story is not only literal – about his life as a musician – but his mental & spiritual journey from inexperience to mastery, immaturity to maturity.

All that happens in life, all that I conquer, or that conquers me, is just part of the story. I often feel used or abused by the cosmos, that I’m a bit player in some story I was thrust into, tripping over myself, getting the words wrong, and singing off-pitch.

But I keep stepping out onto the stage, is the thing.

You’re not going to find inspirational motivation from me, often more Eeyore-ish than Tigger-ish, but you’ll find I’m true, that I’m continually striving toward mastery.

Several religious or spiritual works have described self-mastery as the first order of business; I’m hoping it doesn’t take the better part of my life to realize some self-mastery, but just as everything else in life sometimes this is as good as it gets, and I need to make peace with where I am without proverbially throwing the baby out with the bath water.

E. K. Brough’s words comfort me: “And remember, we all stumble, every one of us. That’s why it’s a comfort to go hand in hand.”

https://www.thefreshquotes.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Remember-We-All-Stumble-Every-One-Of-Us.-ThatS-Why-ItS-A-Comfort-To-Go-Hand-In-Hand.-%C2%BB-Emily-Kimbrough.jpg
E.K. Brough, aka, Emily Kimbrough

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Another Perspective

I can continue to be tunnel-visioned, or I can take the long view, and the long view is that my friends didn’t seek to harm me with their votes or their perspective, regardless of the actuality.

Yeah, I have to fight harder to keep equilibrium and try to keep our Democratic Republic, but their ignorance is just that – not malice.

They see all things from their religious perspective, and that blinds them to the long view, but the long view is still wrapped in their dogma, whether they choose to see it or not.

The fabled Jesus overturned the tables of the money-changers, saying: “It is written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” – Matthew 21:12-13 NIV

So the long view shouldn’t be on whether their elected officials will vote to try to stop abortion, but on who they are – on their fruits – and their fruits are rotten.

There is separation of Church and State in our country, and I realize they are working to end that, but it shouldn’t be eroded. We have a unique position in the world that we are not forced to anything, but come to choose freely. If they make our nation a theocracy, we become subjugated, regardless of our beliefs, and often forced to live a lie.

Religious people are free to practice their faiths, but not to demand anyone else do so, and if they could see the beauty of this system of checks and balances, they’d want the corruption out of our nation.

They’d fight to end Citizen’s United – to get money, that root of all evil, out of politics. Then we could have true stewards of our nation again. We could vote in actual public servants rather than the current corruption we’re witness to.

Yeah, there will always be those seeking power, and ways to game the system, but there won’t be so many, and disallowing corporations as ‘people’, and foreign money from campaigns, will help greatly in getting back to sanity.

This didn’t start with how any of us voted this past election. This started when money became king, when banks started writing the rules, when the Supreme Court decided Citizen’s United vs. the FEC.

Meanwhile, love surpasses all things.

My struggle is about acceptance vs. approval. I need to accept the loss of solidarity I thought I had with those friends and focus on our commonalities – on what made us friends, or like each other to begin with. We support each other in every day struggles. We laugh, cry, and enjoy each others’ company. We trust that underneath conflict is kindness and care, and our connection contains more healing than hurt.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Impass-ibilities

I have friendships that have been harmed because of their role in placing the mobster occupying the White House. Many claim to be ‘pro-life’, but are really just ‘pro-fetus’ because they don’t give a fuck what happens to birthed humans. My friends knew the kind of person drumph was and they still voted for him.  Now, those of us of conscience and concern for humanity and our earth are fighting for our lives – even theirs, the irony is.

We’re at an impasse. I didn’t want our relationships to suffer, but all I see is their loss of decency and humanity, and I don’t know how to compartmentalize that anymore. I really wanted to be above the fray, but for them it’s a meaningless game, and for me, it’s who we are as a people – as a society.

Maybe they want America to change to a theocracy, but our country was founded on freedom and democratic ideals, and the current administration and republicans are autocrats who seek to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor and middle class, and wouldn’t know true religion and spirituality if every prophet and spiritual leader who ever existed showed up at their door.

I’m reminded that I don’t have to hate my abusers anymore, and I don’t have to protect them. I can forgive them. I can do my best to have compassion for them, but I don’t have to give them my energy or time.

It’s hard trying to value what we had and realize that belongs to the past, and we’re no longer the people we once were to each other.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Songs We Used To Sing

Music is life – for all of us. We all have our stories: where we grew up, what we heard, what we sang, what ran through and through us, and continues to. Because of a recent trip visiting a friend, I now hear Sia’s I Love Cheap Thrills, among others, in a new context, and my friend is with me when I hear it.

My history continues in song, being a vocalist, or even just interested in music, but I doubt there is anyone on the planet who hasn’t experienced some form of music. If so, I’m sorry for them. Music is an entity unto itself, and I’d be sad for anyone who never experienced music’s transcendence.

My older brothers cued me into The Beatles, and other mid-sixties music that my parents found irritating and banal. They appreciated the swing and ballads of the 1940’s and 50’s.

I grew up in dire circumstances, not only in my personal life, but in the world around me. Vietnam was raging, my oldest brother escaped my family horror to fight in that war, and other family members went as draftees or joiners.

Music accompanied life’s tension: releasing and building – crying out and pleading – or ignoring the larger world for personal circumstance, or love and romance.

I understand the far-away look in my mother’s eyes when she heard the songs of the late 1940’s and the 1950’s that touched her heart and soul. You Are My Sunshine brought tears to her eyes, and because of that it brings tears to mine – a learned sentiment.

Driving home tonight I heard several songs from my youth, but one in particular: Love Hangover, enveloped me, and I time-traveled like a boss. A friend, long passed on, was with me as the dulcet tones flowed out of the Honda Accord’s inadequate speaker system because we needed that shit turned UP. She was there with me, feeling the beat, vocalizing, and jamming out, and then she was gone.

I was in my driveway, loathe to turn off the radio and take the key out of the ignition in case another song came on calling her back, but the DJ interrupted the moment, so I turned the few clicks releasing the key, and sat in the silence – hoping she’d materialize – speak to me – something – but the empty air grew colder, so I went inside.

My life has reached a weird divide where the past barely matters anymore. That’s good – fantastic even – but also a loss. My brain has changed and my memories aren’t as vivid, except situationally – like tonight in the car – but I feel like I’ve lost something important.

Maybe we’re designed this way. We slowly let go of what no longer matters and now I can focus on what’s in front of me.

I’ve heard that the past is gone, the future is unknown, but now is an alive & vibrant gift – that’s why it’s called the present.

I understand that sentiment, but I still miss friends and acquaintances, and our place in time that’s quickly receding. I’m becoming not even a footnote in history, among other barely-footnotes that I appreciate more and more.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out There

One of the wonderful aspects of being away is the perspective change, especially when the scenery is so drastic.

There's Your Sign...

I immediately found myself afraid and battled my fear to become curious. I’m visiting dear friends in the southwest – Arizona – and I’m finding myself again assimilating my life’s experiences and what it all means to me.

Watching my dear friend work and interact with the people of her life here is inspiring, and helped me open myself up – just that bit more – to not assume the worst in everyone.

It’s tough particularly now, in our heinous political environment, trusting that there are good people who deeply care about others’ lives. When I’m in unfamiliar territory, everyone is the enemy, and I’m hyper-vigilant, trying to stay safe.

My childhood friend is so open & loving – and not consumed with worries of things she can’t control, where I seek control over things I can’t stop worrying about. It’s not that she’s immune, or willfully ignorant, or tuned-out; she knows how to prioritize or allocate her emotional resources.

I came out here to step away from my life back east. I don’t know how to balance what I want and need with the wants and needs of my significant other. I didn’t come out here because of that, but it helps to be so far away when I’m so troubled about my personal life.

There are good reasons to feel as I do, and there are reasonable solutions which allude me more often than I’d like, leaving me feeling powerless and as though I’m consenting to less than what I desire. We do communicate, but there are always issues that hang in the air – never resolved – just sublimated, until the next time I try to stake my claim for my desires.

I’ve remembered, out in this vast, open, unfamiliar, and harsh landscape, that wherever I go, there I am. Will I succeed, or fail, or some combination I can live with?

It’s as if the stark contrast between the rocky peaks jutting into the sky and the cacti and other desert life dotting the valleys reveal life as it is rather than life as I wish it, but there’s still the ability to thrive. There’s still beauty and variety. There are abundant paths to choose from, or room to make my way – even this late.

Fear can stop me, or I can function beside my fear.

Walking out of the squat main office building, I turned right onto S. Veteran’s Memorial Highway, camera in hand.  The Galiuro Mountains to my left, and the Santa Catalina’s to my right, I felt prey for the vultures – avian or human. Walking briskly while the steady, and sometimes fierce, chilling winds pushed me along, I finally turned back after a few miles, where the wind gleefully made my uphill journey more aerobic.

The Saguaro sentinels greeted me in uneven intervals, sometimes solely, other times clustered, while Organ Pipe, Agave, and Prickly Pear cacti covered more ground among the Mesquite trees, and other desert plants.

San Manuel 1

The Long, Not Winding, Road

fuzzy Saguaro

Organ Pipe cactus

San Manuel sunflower

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Galiuro Mountain Range

I forgot what it was to see so far out, and while I wouldn’t want to live here, it’s been a gorgeous and welcome change of pace.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

The Timing Sucks

Several years ago, when my son was in his late teens, karaoke was getting popular again, and I started going nearly every week. I used to go with my friends weekly back in the late 80’s. We had so much fun then, but life happens and we moved on, and karaoke fell out of favor for a few decades.

Getting back into it was a blast, and it was free! I made friends with several regular singers, and we began spending time at each other’s houses, or going dancing, or on a road trip, and it was a great distraction when my son headed off to college – even though it didn’t cease my depression or PTSD.

We lasted several years as a group, but little by little it fell apart – although karaoke is still going strong – so we come together for that once in a while now.

Karaoke turns out not to be a great basis for lasting friendships, sadly, and worse, my drinking increased, and even worse, my personality change when drinking nearly caused my S.O. & I to break up several times.

I know I have a problem because while quitting is easy, it’s the staying quit that’s hard. As Mark Twain quipped about quitting smoking: ‘… it’s easy! I’ve done it thousands of times.’

Seeing a video of me drunk was uncomfortable, but it gave me the boost I needed to stop.

Sadly, I’ll miss all the drinking games every time the President says something stupid, but then I’d never be sober, and I need to focus…

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Weak Sun Still Shines

Waking is dangerous this emotionally tenuous time of the year. The world we occupy, the new/old challenges surrounding me, our country, and everywhere, & I wonder if slitting my wrists would cause too much pain? Where would I do it? A stream bed in the woods, so romantic and peaceful sounding, until the age-old question of ‘if a woman screams in the forest in the moments before her death, and for being a dumb fuck, will anyone hear?’ Bueller? Anyone?

So, I wrench my lagging self out of bed and get fucking dressed, because that’s what we’re doing, and the inner three-year-old is not in charge today.

Sure, the world’s falling apart – literally in some places – and, yeah, life sure doesn’t match up to the brochure, but, then, so few things do.

You’d think people would stop procreating, but honestly, sex is about the best thing on the planet, that’s free – often…

So, on with the day. I’m dragging my ass through my life, but momentum is forward, today.

There’s no dress rehearsal. This is it – whatever that contains – but all that matters is the end. Am I in a tragedy, or a comedy? Life ending on a high note is preferable, thus, comedy it is.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Endings Bring Beginnings

I don’t catch on quickly when I’ve been friend-dumped, unless it’s overt. It’s the ‘nice’ friend dumping that eludes me. It shouldn’t, but it does, especially when it felt like the friendship was real.

But here’s the thing about friendships: they’re not commitments. They’re not contracts, they’re gifts.

An old saying about friendships coming ‘for a reason, a season, or a lifetime’ is useful. I’m a fairly loyal friend, unless our values are so different that we oppress rather than uplift each other.

That time has come, and probably has been there for a while, but I didn’t want to see. I also relate to another saying that ‘everything I ever let go of has claw marks all over it’.

It’s painful – and I understand life is pain, but I do my best to avoid it. It’s all about lessons, though, right? I gained from those friendships, and I hope they gained from mine too.

It’s embarrassing when they’ve moved on and I didn’t notice. I just thought they were busy, or dealing with life stuff.

Of course it’s something we all go through – and get through. I hate that platitudes start churning through my brain – my effort to feel better – to find meaning and understanding, but there’s nothing to understand. I did nothing wrong, but it feels like I did. Sadly, my trauma brain, that old, worn, neural pathway tells me I fucked up, and I need to make it right:

…Then the beatings will stop. Then I’ll get what I need. Then I’ll be worth liking and loving.

The only way out is through. The only. way. out, is through.

I’d like it to not effect my whole life, so I must remember that my trauma picks untrustworthy people to try to make trustworthy so I can heal my hurt.

But it doesn’t work like that.

I have to build new, unsullied, neural pathways – and then make them stick. You know, easy-peasy…

Not everyone is honest. Some people just want superficial friends, and there is nothing wrong with that; I just wish they’d wear a sign so dense people like me would know.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Here We Are

Oh no, this is not a new ‘reality’.  This is not acquiescing to ‘what is’, or any other platitude.  We are in horrific times, pergatorious times – and yes – I just made up a word because that’s the kind of times we are now experiencing.

A joke is our President-elect.  Make no mistake, an unqualified hack will be the leader of this quickly sinking country – perhaps a harbinger of the fabled ‘end times’.  Yeah, I know I’m giving legitimacy to fiction by naming it as a thing I believe we’re approaching, if not already in, but, hey, ya gotta start somewhere…

The end times described in antiquitious texts is when the current system, way of life – whatev – is abandoned and a ‘new way’ implemented.  Or it’s when all the ‘worthy’ people will be ‘taken’ and the rest of us – most of us – will be left with the stinking cesspool those assholes helped create.

God looks the other way while Rome burns – or America and the European Union – at any rate.

Thankfully there are many, MANY, folks not burdened by fictional works who are left scrambling to hold onto the tattered remains of honorable, inclusive, compassionate society.

It sucks that it takes a horror show to jolt the fighters among us, but enlivened we are.

Peace be on those deserving peace.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

All I Gotta Do Is, Act Naturally

1099375-clipart-movie-camera-filming-over-a-rainbow-splatter-and-film-reelsAt twelve I knew I wanted to act.  It was what I thought I’d be in adulthood.  I guess it was just going to happen naturally because I never had a plan. I failed to position myself for that occupation, relying on the ‘will of the universe’, or ‘fate’, or whatever my idiot mind told itself – so it never happened.

My first foray into Community Theater was in the early 2000’s.  I had auditioned for a play in the late 1980’s or early 1990’s, but didn’t get cast, so I probably told myself I wasn’t ready yet.

I spent the better part of today as an extra in a film, driving over two hours to the set, and riding back home after 10 p.m., exhausted, and probably shouldn’t have been driving, but had I stayed at a motel, I would have spent more than I earned, and had I tried to sleep in a parking lot somewhere I would have been too paranoid to sleep.

This was the fifth movie I’ve been a paid prop in, oops, I mean background work, and I finally realized tonight, after almost getting a featured spot that the director, or the universe, or fate, decided to nix, that chasing acting is trauma re-enactment. I’m still trying to convince those in control that I’m worthy of notice.  I’m so tired of my psyche trying to  reconcile my neglectful past.  It’s not going to happen.

The same cast of characters appears each time, albeit in different physical forms. There are non-protecting bystanders, abusers, and victims.  (Victim is often a loaded word, so hear it un-weighted.)

Rising early, I rush about readying myself for the day’s work, ensuring I have collected all I need and might want, and set out into the dank, murky pre-dawn.  The creeping light flings itself out in eye-searing magnitude just as the crush of rush-hour traffic gathers at the crest of an eastward hill, and I jam on the car’s hazard button, hoping to avoid rear-collision while slamming on the brakes in what appears choreographed timing – as though the traffic were all swimmers breaking the surface one after the other in dizzying succession.

Surviving the first sun-caused hazards, we attempt merging with the big boys and girls zooming along on the super-highway at their break-neck pace: a feat reminiscent of double-dutch jumping  without tangling both jumpers in the ropes – only with higher stakes in the highway metaphor.

Once successfully merged, we soon come to several stand-stills, where many of us frustratingly shift from stopped lane to nearly stopped lane, seeing the traffic gods punish us with every lane but ours beginning to move.

An hour later, fleeing the chaos of four-lanes, for the migraine of two lanes, and a GPS with a shitty sense of humor, or probably just sadistic, I double back to the left turn it told me to take as I was passing it in the wrong lane, and I finally rumble into a bumpy lot, park, and kiss the steering wheel for getting me there without bodily harm or auto damage.

A dozen other, sleepy, hopeful stars ascend the shuttle bus stairs and settle in for our ride to the set.

Once there, we queue up to fill out our pay slip forms, find space to don our costumes, and then stand in the next line for hair, and then one for make-up, and finally find our way into the holding area where there is coffee and juice and cereal and muffins, and why are they feeding us all this crap when we’re trying to stay svelte for when we’re discovered the nineteenth time we cross that street when the director calls: ‘action’? So, I opt for coffee and a banana, and wait for our day’s adventure.

Extra work is similar to traumatic childhood in that we’re never told exactly what is happening that day, and what our role is.  We have to become ‘instant experts’ once we’re schlepped to location and placed.  Then we’re told that we’re excited, or mad, or confused, or disgruntled, or perhaps all of the above, and the day continues with each of us trying to out prop the other.

I swear the women who were behind us who ended up in front of us toward the end of that particular scene were going to end up in the car with the principal actors by the end of the shot.

And here’s the thing:  the principal actors are who matter.  Background is sound and color, and does serve a core purpose, but you wouldn’t know it by the haphazard treatment that I’ve experienced on every set I’ve worked on.

My goal is for principal actor roles.  My reality is that extra work will never meet that goal.  I need to change my approach, or nothing will ever change.  In life, or on film.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Puppet People

If you think about it, we’re self-animated, or actuated, puppets.  We’re going to die, and if you’ve ever seen a loved one’s dead body, you know how they are utterly gone.  Their body seems like some strange putty – some facsimile of who they were, and somewhat recognizable – but definitely not ‘them’.

We are not our bodies – we control our bodies with who we really are.

You reach for an object, not even realizing that you commanded your body to act, rather than being your body – which could or would act autonomously of your desire.  Outside of blood, breath, temperature, neurology & cellular replication, our body, unless compromised by disease or disorder, is controlled by our thoughts.

Hungry: eat.  Tired: sleep, or fight sleep when you need to stay awake.  Scared: hide, or run, or freeze. Happy: smile, dance, laugh.

There is so, so much we don’t understand, all around us.  Some suggest that there’s an invisible (to most of humanity) world going on as closely as anything we can observe or know.

Why are some people psychic, or able to observe what others cannot, if they’re not charlatans?

Why am I sensitive to things my friends aren’t?  I know when I’m in an occupied space, or perhaps a super occupied space.  I lived in a ‘haunted’ apartment for two years, constantly questioning my sanity and perception, but when I moved to another apartment that was not haunted, I could sleep with the light off, and not be afraid to walk to the bathroom during the night.

I have experienced intense energy, or whatever it was, that others seem not to – and I am nothing special.

So what? – right?  It matters because even if we don’t know where we’re going from here, it means we are not our bodies, our physical matter.  That’s pretty cool.  Maybe our brain is the only part of us that matters most, outside of other vital organs, but even those who think our brain is the limit – that everything begins and ends between our ears – that doesn’t account for anything outside our understanding that we experience.

I feel hopeful thinking that my existence doesn’t end here, and I’m as rightfully here as anyone else, and my continuation, while unknown, is as certain as knowing that death is only of my body, but not of my essence.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

In Life’s Flow

Occupying the middle part of my life is odd. I’m noticing my body changing in unfamiliar and distressing ways.  I think I have arthritis (!) in my hands.  I’m learning guitar, but when I curl my fingers they snap at me like I’m trying to bend them in ways they shouldn’t be bent.  Idiots.

I drove through a town I lived and had friends in from ages eleven through thirteen, remembering the home of a friend whose birthday fell around Halloween so her parents had created a haunted house for several twelve-year-old girls.  I wonder if she ever remembers that?  What she, or her parents, couldn’t know is how abnormal that was for me.  I was living in a commune/cult where everyday was somewhat surreal, and definitely un-nuclear family-ish.  She and the other school girls there, along with her parents, and attending a typical family party were an oasis in the desert of my life. Sure, I grew up learning how to deal with a few hundred adults, and a gaggle of children daily, but I craved closeness and structure.

The commune/cult was diffuse and casually neglectful.  Most of them weren’t malicious, but there was so much going on all the time that people naturally found their cliques – circled their wagons, so to speak – only they didn’t realize that exposed the most vulnerable to predation and harmful neglect.

I see advertisements now and don’t recognize anyone I can relate to, not that I ever really could, but at least I was in the same age bracket.  The only relatable ads I see are for fiber products, or erectile dysfunction, neither of which do I care about, or apply. Well, fiber is good at any age – we all need to poop.

A sea change is needed, but what do I do?  Do I leave my relationship to head out for parts unknown?  And what if parts unknown end up on a heating grate in some city, trying to keep warm and guard my few belongings from being stolen – again?

Maybe things could work out, but my life has always been just managing, and never actually living.  Do I have the courage?  And if I have the courage, can I manage it? I have boxes of books but nothing, except my son’s childhood art and other keepsakes, keeping me from packing it all up, ditching my books at some lucky bookstore, and setting out.

I know there are soup kitchens across the nation, and I suppose my big worry is where I can safely sleep, but otherwise, what have I got to lose?  I lose my boyfriend, and that would suck, but I’m failing, and don’t have other ideas to help myself.

My vague plan is heading out to California again and doing my best to get into television or films there – the acting mecca – but it’s also the land of bitter disappointment and ruin.

If I had the money, I’d pay a reputable psychic to help guide me – but if I had the money, I wouldn’t need the guidance…

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Walk Away

Walking Away NEU 2009

Mental health is stopping the ruminating or trying to change my outsides to sooth my insides. I’ve been here before, I recognize that tree!

This cycle comes around every few months, when I get the bright idea to pick up spiritual texts thinking I’ll come off better for it. I clearly never have. I come out swinging every time – so maybe I’m a minion. Except, I wish ill on no one except the deserved. Who are the deserved? Rapists, child molesters, murderers, deceivers – those who knowingly take advantage of others.

Liars don’t bother me, unless it has to do with the above unforgivable acts. Murder isn’t nuanced here. Some people would consider killing in self-defense murder. I don’t. To me, murder is killing for pleasure.

Spiritual texts often say that good works without faith or belief in god are worthless. They’re not worthless to those they help. If an atheist helps me it’s worthless? How ridiculous is that?!

If that atheist helps me for their own gain, that’s unfortunate, but I still got help, so why should I care about their agenda – unless they try to hold that over me somehow.

I consciously chose to live several years ago. I knew I was on that precipice, and after I chose living, my life improved greatly once I started eating well, exercising daily, and doing what I could to quell my negative voices.

Unfortunately I’ve lost sight of that in the last few years, but I remembered again. Maybe I won’t always live my best, but if I can let go of a punishing god, I’ll do better again.

My atheist friends tell me the bible, and all spiritual works, are fairy tales meant to control the population, but I’ve remained agnostic because I fear retribution for not believing – so the control aspect has partially worked on me.

I just need to walk away from those damaging beliefs and live my best life.

Kindness, love, help, care, and concern are important to me, but so is holding people accountable for their actions. That’s why we have laws, judges, and juries. I’m not alone in that belief. But I also believe in mercy.

I wouldn’t be a judge because I’d worry that I’d be convinced to be merciful only to have the exonerated person commit the same crime again, or worse, as has happened many times.

We live in a harsh world. We follow base desires rather than adhering to our nobility. Spiritual works call us to our highest selves, but all too often we turn it into a game of whose version of god is best, and ironically condemn and kill each other over it.

For me, finding peace means keeping what works and dumping the rest – and then trusting that I’m not damned for that.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

 

So Much Nothing

I’ve had a tough time writing lately.  Maybe depression has set in – apathy leading the way.  Nothing feels interesting or worth investing in.  I could look happy and present, but whether or not I am, it shifts quickly.

Is living for the young?  Should twenty to forty be the only important part of life?  After forty the pain began.  It has only increased since.  Different issues, more work & time to address it – the ‘free ride’ over.

The problem is the lack of appreciation for a body that feels good & functions well.  It’s inspiring when people born without limbs, or other horrific problems, live high-functioning lives.  It shames me & I’m so tired of living shame.

Even the love of my life can’t breach the gap.  It’s not his path, even if he loves me with all he has.

In my wildest imagination I am alone: succeeding, happy, fulfilled.  I’ve never seen it with someone else – just me.  Maybe that’s due to trauma – neglect & abuse – I don’t know.  I decided that no one, NO ONE, will take anything else from me.  I lived that life and I’m not able to continue helping someone else do well at my expense. I mean emotionally.  If I had billions I could give most away without issue, but I’m tired of people who want to take my soul.

That’s where I am today.  I’m sure it’ll change tomorrow.  Cheers.

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

 

Tell Me

So many things I’d like to know – please tell me about your life. You think I worry too much, or that I think you’re in trouble all the time, and I’d like to change that.

Are you happy?  Is your life as full of joy as it is of challenges?

If I start asking the right questions, maybe you’ll know that I want enough for you, in all your life.  Balance is key.  Laugh, love, sing, dance, study, question, believe, cry, fail, succeed, care, think, and act.

I trust you and your life path, and that replaces my fear.  Believing in you, believing that you won’t waste this short life, or that if you do, that’s your choice, and it’s your prerogative.

My only ‘job’ (I wrote ‘joy’ by mistake, first, but I think it also applies) is loving you.  For sure, ‘love’ is a big word.  It encompasses all of life – not just the easy or joyful parts.

Life is learning.  That never stops, so I’m still learning too.  My emotion self is still immature, but my life experience is ever evolving.

Thank you for increasing my growth opportunities, and my dearest hope is staying connected – even as you wander further away.

I am grateful.

The Day You Were Born
At the beach
At the beach
Austen & me June 2009
High School Graduation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Man/ Boy and Mama Aug. 2012
Summer Before College Graduation

 

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current

Love To Andy

In the time that’s gone by, I tried to see a reason for us, but ‘it’s one of those things’ is said, and ‘be glad you found it before you’re dead’, and I am.

I am.

Thousands of songs and poems say why: ‘it’s not the colors in his eyes, or the way he wears his clothes, or how he knows the things he knows, but it’s in how he thinks of and looks at me.’ It’s how he loves me so thoroughly – it’s so new.

I keep deciding to pull away, to leave and find my life another way, but I’ve started asking what I’m running for, because I truly know that there’s no better than this.

But this is not all there is, I know, and we don’t live to make the best in show; we have found happiness and joy, a port in a storm, a bond I won’t destroy – again.

So settle down I tell myself, this love we’ve found is real and precious.

You are the compass that points true, you are everything I needed but never knew, and if I tell the fear to leave me be, then it will always be you and me, together.

This is my song to you – to us – to love – to life’s joyful expression amidst life’s agony.

Thank you for your love, for your steadfast care and hope, and for giving me a chance to truly love you too.

IMG_20160612_100300
Andy & me at Yaquina Head light, Oregon, June 2016

 

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© seekingsearchingmeaning (aka Hermionejh) and Abstractly Distracted’s Blog, 2010 – current