Power Over

Is there anyone who hasn’t been oppressed, or been an oppressor? In small or large ways domination shapes the mammal world.

Who’s the boss? Our parents often oppress us rather than guide us well – with a mix of aggression or passive neglect. Lucky are those who have balanced parents – they’re in the minority.

Teachers, police, employers: all oppressors, unless we’re self-taught, self-regulated, and self-employed.

I oppress myself, hard-wired as I am from even the prenatal stress of my father’s battering my mother and my older siblings, continuing until we escaped at the end of a loaded gun.

Well did I learn that my being was subordinate to others. I was made ripe for predation.

I am resilient. I did survive, but I didn’t thrive.

Drinking and drugs were a fantastic escape, until they weren’t – and I’m lucky – I didn’t drop down into hell, but swirled in purgatory – unable to stop destructive behavior, cowardly in both suicide attempts and pursuing life.

My half-hearted suicide attempt during my last drunk set in motion a stay in the hospital’s mental health unit, which, while little more than a warehouse for the acutely mentally ill, I found a thin title I walked by several times, eschewing the idea it presented, until I finally picked it up. The title: Living Sober.

No white light, or heavenly choir filled the room as I read, but I was struck sober, finally willing to entertain its contents. Nearly every word I read I could identify with. I had wanted to stop drinking for several years, teetering on the line between stopping of free-will, or tumbling into unrelenting addiction.

It’s been four months since I last drank, and the first month was free. I’ve earned the last three. It’s not a craving, like I might crave chocolate, it’s more the idea that I can’t anymore. It’s an inner tantrum, and it’s exhausting.

I’ve gone to AA meetings, and while I appreciate, and can relate to stories, the cult aspect chills me. Having lived in a cult, I hear the ‘us vs them’ mantra & many variations of ‘we’ll die/fall apart/suffer’ unless we attend meetings, get a sponsor, work the steps, do service & never leave. I was in 12-step recovery for ten years, and nothing subdued my mental illness.

I understand Alcoholics Anonymous works for many, but not for me. SMART recovery is few & far where I am, as well as SOS, Rational Recovery, or any other secular, non-cultish program.

Two meetings I regularly attend don’t push god like they used to push drugs. The spiritual aspect came to me in that dingy room, turning each page of Living Sober, more and more certain I was done drinking. I was free, but remaining free while mentally ill is challenging.

The only power I have over this is the power to not pick up the first drink, and to not romanticize drinking, but remember my last drunk, or any time I said ‘I’m done’, but wasn’t.

Two ideas from AA remain: I will find myself without defense against the first drink, and in order to remain sober, I need to work with another person seeking sobriety. I have already met and surmounted – so far – besting my defenselessness, and my goal is to find something that works for me that doesn’t require relinquishing my hard-fought autonomy.

I’d love to hear others’ experience of being sober without AA, and thriving rather than merely existing.

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

 

 

 

 

 

Love Legacy

Fiona Sargeant, who moved to South Africa from England to teach ballet, has very little time left fighting cancer, leaving her ballet school, in an extremely poverty-stricken township, shuttered without our help.

The good news: many are doing what they can to help. The tough news: we have a long way to go to make sure her legacy continues.

Our team is #MishaBearsLovesCherryPieBombs in this year’s GISHWHES – What is GISHWHES?

Please donate on here: Crowdrise Change A Life

Here’s a message from some of the dancers: Zolani Dancers call for help to further their education

Another: Misha Collins talks about supporting Fiona Sargeant’s school

If you’re moved & willing to do this, please use the Crowdrise link to donate & you are so amazing.

Thank you.

 

The Brush-Off

via Daily Prompt: Toothbrush

This is an apt prompt today. I went to my dentist to have a tooth worked on that he couldn’t complete last week because I didn’t get numb enough, and he gave me the maximum amount he could, using three different numbing agents.

My jaw has been sore for several days now, and I had excruciating pain in a tooth above the tooth in question that I was thankfully able to relieve with hydrocodone I still had.

When I told my dentist my experience & asked if he would write me a prescription for today’s visit, he declined, telling me there was ‘no biological reason’ for that pain – so basically accusing me of drug-seeking.

Wow. First, I told him that it was localized, excruciating, pain, and that the medicine I had worked without return of pain. So fuck him and his idea that I’m pleasure drug-seeking. So totally fuck him.

I deal with pain daily, and don’t medicate it. If I am in acute pain, I have the right to try to stop it, or at least lessen it. Tylenol doesn’t help, and I cannot take ibuprofen, which doesn’t do much for me anyway.

What’s more, he knows about the red-headed gene issue. He knows I take more Novocaine than the average patient, and he knows my reactions tend to be more intense, as well as knowing tooth pain is one of the worst pains to deal with.

I’d buy drugs off the street if I wanted to get high, and I only wanted a prescription for a single dose of hydrocodone, which, by the way, makes me feel weird and uncomfortable, but does kill the pain.

Practicing good dental hygiene is important to me. I brush twice a day, and often after eating sweets. I floss regularly, and never miss check-ups, and he knows this about me.

So, I guess I’ll have to find a drug dealer willing to dispense one dose. How much will that cost me?

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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

 

Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) Last Treatment

Two days prior to my last session was fairly horrific with a huge dip in mood & return of hopelessness.

The return to despair was devastating because I had counted on TMS to help me even though I thought I removed expectations for or against.

My usual technician, Nick, who is really lovely & has been a steady presence during treatments, didn’t oversee my last treatment. Instead the intern, Mel, who is also kind, and competent, was there with Kim, the other regular tech, who is also fine, and I had a previous connection with Kim outside of the practice so I felt comfortable enough, but neither have the ineffable presence of Nick, so it was a tough last treatment.

The NeuroStar representative was also there, so the room felt a bit crowded, and toward the end of the session, another assistant I’d never met before came in, increasing my stress.

Thankfully, I saw Nick upstairs as I was leaving and got to hug him & say goodbye as he’s also leaving for good in August. It was all I could do to not burst into tears right there, but made it to my car before breaking down.

Andy, my S.O., tells me he sees a difference in me, and I do feel somewhat better, but it’s like the difference between an overcast day and a stormy one – there’s still no sun in the sky.

Another unfortunate incident happened a few weeks into my treatment when I tried to get a form for medical transportation because paying the gas in the car I’m borrowing is costly, regardless of my appreciation for the favor. The form would have allowed insurance to cover the transportation cost, but insurance denied the request.

The psychiatrist asked me why I couldn’t use public transportation and I told her that it wasn’t easily accessible, and was still costly. I later worked out the math, which would have been twice what I paid for gasoline for the car, and even if I could have found a convenient bus there, I’d have had to transfer to their town’s system, having to transfer to 3 buses, and it would have cost me double the fare.

When the form was originally submitted it was denied because Kim told me I hadn’t given a medical reason. I was a bit stunned, and didn’t know how to respond. What the fuck was I going there for? I’m not a medical provider, I don’t submit the forms, so how was I supposed to know what should be on the form outside of financial difficulties, and inadequate public transportation? And the sole reason I was there was because I have intractable depression, and TMS treatments are not offered anywhere closer, but the providers didn’t know enough to note that on the form?

The psychiatrist and the TMS team should have known better, and it sucks when those in helping professions don’t understand the poverty issues that go hand-in-hand with trauma, or can’t be bothered to work just that little bit more on behalf of those they purport to help.

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

 

 

Summer Scent-iment

Riding with the windows down from my TMS appointment today, the earthy scents of fields and pungent brook waters hit my brain in a nostalgic wave as I drove down the rough country road, longing to get out of my car and run through the meadow down into the brook, if only private property and ticks didn’t exist.

Summer days of childhood in the woods with friends crossed my mind’s picture screen for several seconds before receding back, refusing further examination, as though it were a dream I was straining to recall.

Perhaps it was a dream, and this is all illusion. If so, it’s a very good spell. I really feel like I’m here, like I exist, like this is a meaningful journey. Maybe life’s meaning doesn’t derive from the delivery mechanism, but I sure wish I could figure out what it means to me.

I’m still worried the TMS isn’t working, 21 visits in now, when I’m supposed to notice a difference.

I feel bereft of my old companions and our easy friendship. I wish depression didn’t exist & the elusive mind and life fuckery it creates. But that’s like wishing heart disease, or diabetes away. It’s not going to happen. I need to manage it, regardless of how exhausting the task. Eventually we heal or we succumb, and I have no idea which way it’s going to go.

Ease and balance are important, and I strive for them – try to cultivate them – and drain friends who know they can’t quell my demons so they’d rather not hear about it. I supplicate to whatever gods might exist, so far, to no avail.

I’d like to sink forever into that sweet summer dream: running through the meadow, cooling my body in the water, or exploring the woods – forgetting that time or otherness exists.

The upside is that I’m still here, illusion or not, and I get out of bed every day & make it. Coffee remains a pleasure and a boost, and I redirect my thoughts hundreds of times a day, just as I adjust my posture when I notice I’m slumping.

That’s something, isn’t it?

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

 

 

 

Wednesday to Saturday

I’ve always liked Wednesday because of the Addams Family,

https://giphy.com/gifs/60s-1960s-the-addams-family-FYOxEpdW8K1H2/

although Thursday and Saturday are my all time favorites. Maybe I like the way Thursday looks or sounds because why Thursday? Wouldn’t Friday with its weekend association be a more likely candidate for favorite?

Saturday is a day you can like! It’s in hundreds of songs; it implies fun, adventure – ready for action – couched as it is between the end of the typical work week and the start of a new one. And let’s not forget the classic Saturday Morning Cartoons!  They’re not as great now – especially since they’re little more than a marketing tool, but they were so good in the ’60’s & ’70’s. No one has ever topped Mel Blanc for cartoon voicing, and caricature.

http://www.craveonline.com/mandatory/1047625-voice-actors-behind-many-of-your-favorite-cartoon-characters

Although Saturday is just another day for many in the service and health industries, my feelings about Saturday formed as a child, when school was the biggest responsibility I had. Even if I had homework, or chores, or later in my mid-teens and twenties, when I was a waitress (now server, of course), or a cashier, or department store clerk, Saturday still held magic.

We might leave for the weekend on Friday afternoon, but we had all day Saturday to enjoy.

Saturday is still special in our household as my S. O. has most weekends off, and we can sleep in or get up to work our agenda rather than someone else’s.

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

 

Second Chances

I’m nearly three months sober, and started a new depression therapy two weeks ago: TMS, or Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation. The therapy uses focused magnetic energy to target the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, thought to be a dark alley depression emanates from.

On my first visit, the tech & doctor mapped the specific area of my brain using the Neurostar stimulator, and I’ve been adjusting to the five-days a week treatments.

NeuroStar_TMS_Therapy_System
http://www.kurzweilai.net/images/497px-NeuroStar_TMS_Therapy_System.jpg

During the mapping, the pulse was painful while they determined my treatment threshold. The treatment lasts 38 minutes and several seconds, for me. Others have generally less time than I do, but not by much, and typically a lower pulse threshold than me, which I attribute to my redheaded-ness.

Forty pulses delivered in four seconds feel and sound like a miniature jack-hammer – or an eager woodpecker – but the computer prepares me by chiming a few seconds prior to the pulses. After about four rounds of pulses I don’t feel it as intensely, but I’m always glad to hear the ‘ding-ding-ding’ computer chime signaling the treatment’s end.

Worries about whether the treatment will work are thick due to continued suicidal thoughts, but TMS takes about twenty or so treatments before brain changes are apparent. That means I have another week to go before I’ll know it’s working. TMS has helped about 85% of patients, which is good news, but I’m a redhead, so we’ll see what category I fall into.

Today I was going through some papers I’d put aside nearly a month ago and found a notepad I had written goodbye letters to my friends and family when I tried to off myself. It’s hard to read my sadness between the lines of gratitude for their friendship, and while I’m not as low as I was a few months ago, I know I’ll get there again, and I can’t tolerate it anymore.

An AA meeting I attended tonight was on positive attitude, and gratitude, and how that’s the way to pull yourself up and out of yourself and into acceptance, etc. – and for those that works for, brav-fucking-o! But, for those of us who write our gratitude lists, and pray, and think positive, and carry on with positive intention, and ‘choose happiness’, and still want to die, you’ve got a non-patronizing friend in me.

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

 

Fifty Shades of Green

April’s snow melted a few weeks ago, with the rest of this winter’s accumulation, as warm days and rain cleared it away. Unfortunately it’s been a wildly swinging weather ride from up and down temps of hot days to frost-laden mornings, and several jags of cold rain and biting winds, and mainly overcast days for the last month.

The few warm, bright days we’ve seen so far revived the asparagus patch, and we can’t eat it fast enough. However, the latest frost killed the bountiful apple blossoms on the two old trees in the neighboring yard. Luckily, the peaches and blueberries were past their blooming, so they should be fine.

But the greening of the yard and forest is striking this year. A scant few weeks ago, the yard and bordering forest was a mass of dull greys and browns, but glancing out the window the other day was like watching the original, Wizard of Oz, going from black and white to Technicolor in the Emerald City.

Well, maybe it’s not been that spectacular, but when you’ve got the blues, and don’t believe an end to the cold, wind, and rain – these shades of green, teasing spates of sun, and sounds of the spring peeper chorale, incessant bird song, and other emergent wildlife, are a ‘shot in the arm’, indeed!

Greening grounds 1
Greening grounds 2
Greening grounds 3
Greening grounds 4
Greening Grounds 5

The awe-filled sensory stimulation of the fresh greenery will recede with summer’s advance, even though I will continue to step back and appreciate the verdant seasonal abundance.

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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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring – Hopes Eternal?

Here in Western MA, the first day of Spring has graced us with sun and warmth. Trees and shrubs are budding, blooms readying within.

The willows bordering the brook running through the bottom third of the backyard’s long, gentle slope, are soaking up the snow-melt, their tops’ new growth a muted chartreuse, diversifying the reddish haze of surrounding maples, and the changing hues of the black walnuts, oaks, sumac, and poplars.

Robins who arrived several weeks ago but scattered after last weeks foot of heavy snow, returned by the brook too, worms and other insects a plenty.

Yesterday, we spied seven deer donned in their dark grey-brown winter fur, drinking at the water’s edge, and eating any new grass shoots appearing there. Four were mature does with three yearlings in tow, who gamboled through the snow while their parents, or other herd members, stayed close to the stream, raising their long necks in alarm every few moments before determining all was well. A flock of turkeys seeking nourishment several feet further downstream kept disappearing in the deep snow and soon trotted off into the woods while the deer lingered several more minutes.

Seeing the deer made it through the winter – and hunting season – was gratifying. The stretch of land between the cabin and the neighbor’s house is a wildlife corridor, and a nature preserve, of sorts. There are several haying fields here, surrounded by woods with the brook running through, elements conducive to safe and productive wildlife.

Soon the does will calf, and we’ll witness the circle of life anew as the stand of trees behind the garden shed offers ample shelter, and the growing hay fields will provide safety for the fawns while mother seeks nourishment during the day.

Welcome, but less amenable to sleeping in, will be the raucous mating bird calls who seem to favor the eaves above the bedroom window, of course…

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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

 

Back To School

The way forward has become clearer in the last few months. Becoming an organizer, public policy maker, lawyer, or other community leader has become attractive. I’ve always cared about social & economic justice, but I’ve not had much personal power.

I’ve read four books in the last few months that have been very illuminating & instructive. Thomas Frank’s, Listen Liberal, helped me see how we got where we are, along with George Packer’s: The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America, which details through personal narratives how America lost it’s center, while Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, by J. D. Vance reveals another facet of America’s slow, and not-so-slow, decline.

My favorite book, however, and the one which drives my ambition to organize is: A Force More Powerful: A Century of Non-violent Conflictby Peter Ackerman, & Jack DuVall, which is available on film as a PBS documentary.

As I’m boycotting Amazon, I suggest streaming online using iTunes, or Hulu, or borrowing the books and film through your local library. Amazon has become a predatory company with abysmal working conditions and unfair pay for many, if not most, workers.

The Woman’s March was affirming, and there are more planned marches in the works as the new authoritarian regime takes shape and we stand to lose ever more of our Constitutional rights.

Democracy requires participation, and while subtle stripping of our rights over the last few decades in the name of ‘fighting terrorism’ quieted many, we can no longer complain from the sidelines as we see bolder disassembling of our republic by those elected who follow their own agendas rather than the majority’s consent.

We can’t have everything, and we do need to compromise and find common ground where possible, but we resist attempts by the monied class and other interests to ruin our environment, or remove our Constitutional guarantees to seek redress for wrongs, to peaceably assemble, and for free speech.

https://www.monticello.org/sites/default/files/uploaded-content-images/Declaration_Engrav_Pg1of1_doctored_0.jpg
https://www.monticello.org/sites/default/files/uploaded-content-images/Declaration_Engrav_Pg1of1_doctored_0.jpg

Power is derived from the governed’s consent as our Declaration of Independence reads, in part:

“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.- That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

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

Resisting Hate Culture

The rise of Donald Trump has been budding for some time. As odious as he is, he speaks to bullies and miscreants everywhere, as well as those who were able to overlook his maladaptive behavior, or precisely because of that behavior, to vote for him.

He also had help from Russia, but it was homegrown hate that put him in the White House.

I won’t normalize his Presidency, and he cannot act ‘Presidential’.  He has no couth, and cannot stop using his Twitter account like a sulky five-year old.

Thankfully he has the lowest approval ratings of any incoming United States President, which gives me hope for the work ahead to boot his ass & his republican shysters in Congress out.

Voters were angry – especially old, white men, and single issue women, i.e., those who want abortion rights repealed. I don’t think a clump of cells are a human and I never will. The bullshit emotive argument that fetuses have as much or more rights as the mother is why I will always fight that ignorance.

If you’re religious, don’t have an abortion. I think your ‘god’ is a fable. I think the ‘bible’ is fiction mixed with historical events, attempting to give it legitimacy, but it fails. It succeeds through inculcation and fear-mongering, so yeah, a bunch of lies because anything that has to bully to get its way knows it has no actual power or validity.

Digression aside, Trump is an albatross on our Republic’s neck, and more closely resembles Ferdinand Marcos, or Slobodan Milošević.  I hope America will be rid of him sooner than not as his unconstitutional conflicts of interest, and his treasonous relationship with Russia are impeachable offenses, and his self-aggrandizing makes him best suited for reality television, not reality.

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

 

 

There’s No Common Ground

Nope. I really wanted to find it. I tried to start at the sisterhood, right?! The SISTERHOOD! We know what it’s like being harassed. I have no idea what my black & brown sisters go through because I’m white & privileged to only have been sexually harassed & abused, not subjugated to having race enter into my humiliation & defilement, but trust me, I know what the fuck it’s like to be abused.

I am so angry there is race & culture that enter into it too – like Dante’s circles of hell.

I’m tired of reading intellectuals spout bullshit at each other, especially those who sit back as though they’re so much better than everyone else they deign to engage with. Step. the. fuck. OFF.

America is in dire straits. Not the band, the actuality. We are entering the totalitarian zone with the rise of drumph, the admitted sexual predator, and narcissistic sociopath, whom a sibling, and at least one close friend voted for. WOMEN I know voted for that cretin. I understand men voting for him, but women? I guess I can fathom, in a Stockholm Syndrome sort of way, why women would have thought he’d be – nope, can’t do it. Stepford Wives comes closer to an explanation, or being drugged, or deluded.

Well, I can move abroad, right? I don’t have to stay for the shit show. I have friends & relatives in Canada & Australia. Being a refugee sucks, but it depends on what you’re leaving behind.

Good luck folks – I hope you like your new dictatorship. You all get what you deserve!

Cheers!

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

I’m Dreaming Of Another White-washed Christmas

Christmas has come and gone mostly unchallenged throughout my life. It wasn’t until I was in my twenties that I learned about the Christian co-option of the pagan holiday (war on Christmas, indeed! Pssh).

I learned dozens of Christmas Carols as a child, singing them in church, and caroling out in the neighborhood (sort of like Halloween – but cookies & cocoa instead of other treats – and we sang for our supper – uh – dessert?) Join the proletariat effort!

I still have my favorites, but doubt the whole ‘Jesus in a manger on a cold winter’s night’ motif – seeing as lambing happens in the spring, but whatev – believe what you want – don’t let facts get in your way.

It was eye-opening, though, when I found out that Jesus is one of many ‘gods’ or ‘sons’ with the same or similar miraculous and humble circumstances. There’s: Horus, Osiris, Attis, Mithra, Heracles, Dionysus, Tammuz, Adonis, and others – born of a virgin, or appearing on December 25th, and it’s just an amazing coincidence that our lord and savior, Jesus the Christ, was also born on that date, of a virgin! There are many places to read about this, but here’s a link:

http://www.weekendcollective.com/all-the-gods-born-to-virgins-on-december-25-before-jesus-christ/

I did not know this. All the teachers and other assorted educated ministers, priests, other religious figureheads, never made this known. It was Jesus, and Jesus only.

That’s why believing in Jesus was so easy.

Jesus is a wonderful exemplar. He’s full of compassion, hope, change, giving to the poor, healing the sick, making the rich look like the assholes they were – and still are. He admonished his followers to ‘turn the other cheek’, rather than seek revenge or retaliation. He would save your soul if you believed in him – interceding for humankind. Why would you turn your back on that?

Unless, it’s more fable than fact. You can marry historical events and the supernatural – spinning it however you wish – but it doesn’t make it true.

If it makes you feel better, then that’s great – but don’t try to make me abide by your fairy tales, and I won’t make you try to abide by mine.

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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

 

 

Living Nightmare

So, the goodness I thought would reign didn’t manifest, and the people chose darkness.

They chose hate, fear, misogyny, and it’s the first time a known sexual predator was elected to the highest office in America.

We are lower than we’ve been since John F Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassinations.

Healthcare – such as it is – will be repealed, and people won’t be covered for pre-existing conditions.  Women’s rights – even the right to vote – risk decimation.

Supreme Court justices who are anything but just will be installed, and America will not get over this ruination.

President Obama barely got us out of the hell President George W. Bush got us all into, but at least we were making progress.

The bully elect will knock down and crush the building blocks so painstakingly erected over these last 8 years of a do-nothing Congress, that America also saw fit to continue.

I am bereft, bewildered, and sad for my fellow Americans, especially us women, and for the children who will wonder why we did this to them.

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

 

Down To The Wire

Nervous. Excited. Freaking out!  I need a positive attitude though – the tallest glass ceiling in America is about to be shattered!

Little girls will know they have a shot at the Presidency of our great country. Women will have more confidence in their importance – demanding equal pay for equal work; adequate, or even superior, health care; reasonable gun laws that protect our citizenry while maintaining our 2nd Amendment rights.

We’ll work on getting the money out of politics and overturning the Citizen’s United Supreme Court decision.  We’ll have reasonable and fair judges in our highest court, and we’ll work for social and economic justice.

Those things are being done, but they’ve been inadequate for a large swath of Americans for far too long.

Race relations, policing, public policy, and a higher standard of living will be legislated and not just thrown around as talking points when elections are at stake.

America’s in crisis.  We have so many hurt and disenfranchised citizens that need to know they matter, they have a role, they can make a difference.

Hate will not be on the agenda though.  Fear gets us nowhere, and anger blocks the love, as my sweet boy of three once told me when I was in the throes of my depression and powerlessness as a single, impoverished mother trying to raise a wholesome child with very little help or hope.

We made it through. I didn’t kill myself, as I was so close to doing for way too many years. I was seeking help too, but I didn’t know, and only one therapist, when I was in my thirties, told me I had PTSD, and it wasn’t until I tried to be in a panic-disorder study that I was turned away for, that I found I also had major depressive disorder, and the researchers felt it was unethical to have me in a trial for a drug that wouldn’t address that. I knew what I had endured throughout my childhood and teen-aged years, but I didn’t know how deeply my abuse had effected me.

All I knew was that I was on welfare, and therefore reviled, living in shame and fear of losing what little I had.  My son’s father, hijacked by alcohol, filled with his own anger & shame, lashed out at me – telling me I didn’t deserve to live, that I was stupid, that I’d never be a success.

I’m still healing from all that shame, and worried that I failed my beautiful child – now a man responsible for his choices – who told me he needs me to see his competence and ability: to stop projecting my fear onto him. He didn’t say those words, but that’s what I was doing. He’s still teaching me how to be a better person, how to have more hope and trust – some of the hardest lessons I’ve ever tried to incorporate into my being.

It’s important that he sees me successful, that he sees me rise up out of the mire of my life into the whole person I’ve always had the potential for.

This election has stirred my spirit.  A woman, a fighter, a mother and grandmother, will lead us now.  She intimately knows what it’s like living in a world that wants women to stay powerless, less than, dependent, and she has risen to the highest office of our nation, and will need the backing of every person who sees that positive power.

How can I ignore that call?

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

 

 

New England Awe-tumn

Though I’ll post some pictures, if you live, or been in New England’s autumn, you understand the awe while driving or walking down our country roads, or along trails and wooded paths.

It started slow this year, and seemed as though it would be a mostly yellow leaf-covered horizon & ground, but a preview of winter’s chill jump-started the leaves’ colors and now glorious neon-hued oranges, peach, deep, and bright reds, have dominated the summer’s green.

Understanding that it’s dying leaves doesn’t make it less dazzling or soul-stirring – or perhaps it is because this is the leaves’ legacy – that it’s all the more poignant and breath-taking.

It’s my reminder that we’re headed into darkness, already in less light, but yet there is reason to celebrate.

Dance, sing, laugh, breathe fully – this time emphasizes that everything – all of us – experiences these cycles.

For now, exuberance spreads through me as I drive down the narrow road nearing my home: the birch, maple, oak, sumac, and other flora dazzles with a daily changing palette – through sun or cloud – and even more dramatic in rain and wind, as leaves pirouette and glide in showers of glimmering color.

I shore up these treasures, knowing the pictures I took cannot do justice to the show before me – just as a live performance holds an immediate relational experience to the audience that a recording can never reveal.

Wendell MA October 2016

Montague, MA October 2016

Montague MA tree Oct 2016

Hinsdale NH tree October 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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