Despite my previous post, all is not misery. After all, there is church.
It’s weird. After all these years, I still don’t feel like a church lady, yet there I am, week after week.
I joined a church when I came to Ventura because I wanted to make friends, nothing more. It certainly wasn’t for spiritual reasons. I eventually switched churches and bam. I find myself immersed in actual honest-to-God-or-whatever-Higher-Power-as-you-understand-Him/Her/It spirituality.
I’m meditating. I’m praying. And I like it.
When I see my fellow church members, I am starting to say “Hello family.” That’s really how it feels.
I don’t know how I got so lucky to find myself in this remarkable community of understanding and love, and yet there I am.
My pastor is goofy. Her email begins with “BeastieGirl@”
We have no dogma. We have no required beliefs. We have classes where we wonder aloud if there is a God.
But somehow it is church, and it is the best place on earth for me. I wish everyone had a place like this. I hope you find yours, because I love mine.
Yes, apparently I have a blog. Who knew? Summer has gone by without a single post.
I moved in late June. My new apartment is a second-floor two-bedroom flat above two garages and a small studio. The living room has giant windows overlooking a busy parking lot on one side and a massive, abundant avocado tree on the other. The floors are grey-painted wood, except for the dining room (untreated wood, very rustic) and the tiled bathroom (I have a bathtub! After 10 years without!) and tiny kitchen.
It is as KonMarie as I can muster. I have almost nothing in my house. No paintings on the walls, no photos, no knick-nacks, no TV. When I moved in, I moved the minimal amount of stuff I needed, and I like it this way. I know other people are questioning my sanity a bit – I can see the look in your eyes – but there are a couple of things going on.
First, I think I’m a little depressed. I don’t know if it’s menopause-related or not, but the fact that I had TWENTY-ONE hot flashes on Saturday (the day I decided to count) surely isn’t helping my mental state. In fact, I’m feeling rattled and weird about my body, like it isn’t my friend anymore. We are just not getting along, my body and I.
I got tendinitis in my Achilles tendons, so I had to stop Zumba (my favorite thing on earth, pretty much) and I gained weight and I’m sweaty all the time and I’ve gotten some arthritis and SHUT UP YOU WHINY OLD LADY GOD NO ONE WANTS TO HEAR ABOUT YOUR STUPID ACHES AND PAINS.
And second, I don’t feel like this is my home. I don’t mean in a “You’re just not settled in yet” way. I mean in a “This is not my home” kind of way. It’s nice in one way because I feel like I’m on vacation, not at home. But on the other hand, there’s the nagging thought “You need to find your home.”
Until then, I’m not unpacking much.
Thank goodness, I just see people. I don’t see race. We’re all humans – red, yellow, black, white, green and purple!
I see unarmed people, some of them children, beaten, tased, shot and killed. I see evidence planted on them as they lay dead. I see no one calling for help when they’re dying.
But I don’t see race.
I see that the worst schools with the least funding just happen to be in areas where black and brown children are the majority.
But I don’t see race.
I see that the average wealth of a white family is $134,000 vs. $11,000 for a black family.
But I don’t see race.
I see that people with a black-sounding name get called for a job interview only half the time that people with white-sounding names do, despite the same qualifications.
But I don’t see race.
But I don’t see race.
I see prisons full of brown and black people. I see a justice system that convicts a black woman for firing a warning shot when she’s being abused, but lets white men go free for shooting black people in “stand your ground” cases.
But guess what? I don’t see race.
I see the news media convict brown and black children of being thugs for listening to rap music or smoking pot, even as those children are killed.
Nothing to see here.
I see major media outlets like Time magazine darkening the skin of people accused of crimes in photographs.
I don’t see race.
But I don’t see race.
I see discrimination in housing and employment.
But I don’t see race. I’m so glad I don’t see race! It makes things so much easier.
Wednesday night church services are the best. There’s an easy camaraderie as people show up in rumpled work clothes, looking a little weary but glad to be there. It’s a break from normal life, a chance to relax and talk and share with one another.
I think about the people in Charleston. Nine people. They came to the Emanuel AME church on Wednesday night like so many do. They came because they wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves, something good, something healing. They came with money troubles, with family issues on their minds, with someone they were praying for – the Big Prayers, the important ones. They came with hurts and joys and ideas of how to help each other.
They came to share in the common ritual of church people everywhere on Wednesday nights.
Someone came early and set up the room. Someone showed up right after that and they had a few quiet moments of conversation before the others arrived. Someone came in late. Someone forgot their Bible and had to share with someone else.
An unusual guest came that night and was greeted lovingly, warmly, like all guests. They were black and he was white. He was younger than all of them.
They wanted to show him who they were, as Christians, as believers, as people on a path of caring for the world. They wanted to show a young white man that they accepted him as their own.
The rest, I don’t want to think about. I already know too much about what the guest brought with him. How he had chosen to roll around in filth and call it clean. How he came to believe that wrong was right and hatred was love.
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously commented that the most racially segregated places in the country were churches on Sunday. That remains the same to this day. And the one time this young white man set foot into a black church was to commit a massacre.
I have questions. At church we say we love fellowship. But what do we, my white friends, have to do to develop true fellowship, true care, true acceptance? I’m working on rooting out my racism. I’ll admit that it isn’t pretty to confront, but I’m not going to pretend I “don’t see color” or that it’s racism to acknowledge that race exists. I’m going to keep working. Maybe someday I’ll get it mostly right.
Keeping what is important in the foreground.
So I have to move and I’m looking for a place to live with a dog in an expensive, tight housing market. That is as much fun as it sounds.
And because that isn’t stressful enough, I got a copy of that book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” by a kind-of-crazy-kind-of-wise Japanese woman, Marie Kondo.
Her basic premise is that you need to be surrounded only by things that bring you joy and that everything else needs to go away. To decide what brings you joy, you handle every article you own, in categories (all your clothing, one article at a time, all of your books, one book at a time…) and if you do not feel joy, out it goes. OUT. No exceptions.
In looking at every single thing I own, I have had to face every mis-spent dollar, every ill-conceived hobby, every tacky souvenir that seemed like a good idea at the time. Gulp.
I have handled the self-improvement books that did not help to improve me. The weight loss guides that were read and forgotten within two weeks. The mystery electrical cords, the slightly-functioning electronics, the things I meant to repair or mend or return but never got around to.
Trash day was Friday and the bin is full today, Monday, a fact that is sure not to delight the lady in the front house. I have taken two trips to the thrift store with sacks of donations and another is ready to load in the car.
And after all I have done – about half of what needs to be done, by the way, I find few possessions that bring me joy. My cereal bowl, a few Stangl dishes, the curtains made of fabric I chose, the bookcase my dad made, my laptop.
And my clothing. Eeeh. No joy there. I had to save SOME clothes – otherwise, what would I wear? But in general, what the heck was I thinking?
I have been entirely too practical, and yet not practical enough. I didn’t realize joy was a factor in practicality. I have tried to get along with a simple, thrifty existence.
The idea that all my possessions should bring me joy is stressing me out. Do they have to? Can’t I just have possessions to use and let experiences and ideas bring me joy? The pretty napkin holder I got in Costa Rica never brought me joy, but the memory of ziplining on the world’s dumbest zipline course makes me grin every time.
I do love some of my hand-painted plates, but I’d trade every single one of them for a slice of peach pie at Vic’s Cafe with any one of you.
I like Marie Kondo’s ideas of not surrounding yourself with items you don’t want or use. I just think I have a different relationship with stuff than she does. I’ll bet her home is serene and lovely and organized. Mine will probably always be messy and full of half-done projects. Her way is good for her, and mine is mine, and both are okay.
I have been reading choreographer Twyla Tharp’s book “The Creative Habit.” She is big on habits and rituals, thus the title.
The quote above jumped out at me, so I had to turn it into a graphic immediately. I hadn’t really thought about creativity like that before. Something from nothing. The empty page. The silence before the spoken word. The stage, waiting for actors or dancers to appear. Those are our offices. Those are our fields.
1. I saw two old friends in the past 2 days and took zero selfies. I’m not even sure if the visits even happened now.
2. I have 60k miles on my car and JUST figured out I can plug in my iPhone with Spotify to listen to music as I drive. I have spent the past four years listening to NPR instead.
3. I have Apple TV and I really have no idea on earth what it is for.
4. I skipped Mom 2.0
5. I keep telling people that SharePoint can do things that it absolutely cannot do, then I spend days reading forums trying to figure out how to do them.
6. I still haven’t moved to WordPress.org
7. I have an iPhone 4 and am pretty disinterested in getting anything else yet (I also have a 5, for work).
8. I have one phone for work and another for home. Call me Hillary.
9. I have never promoted a blog post on Pinterest.
10. I can eat whole meals with friends and not look at my phone once.
11. Bonus: I did not put a photo on this post.
Why should you lose your technology license?
This one is mostly for Kizz, but the rest of you can listen in because I’m nice that way.
Abbie Lynn is an intense little dog. It’s just her nature. She feels things very much. She’s wired to take action. Part of that intensity manifests as a certain amount of dog aggression. Not all dogs, not even most, but enough that I keep a grip on her at all times. It happens primarily when she meets another leashed dog, and I can almost predict what types of dogs will set her off (oddly enough, big blonde dogs like golden retrievers, and other pit bulls).
We have been working and working on it, and she has made great strides in the past few months. I am always so proud when she sits for her treat instead of lunging at some poor passer-by dog.
Today we saw a guy with a big black pit bull approaching. Her exact least favorite kind of dog. I dashed off the sidewalk and into a parking lot – I mean it was obvious I was avoiding the man and his dog – and got at least 50 feet away. I made her sit. She waited for her treat.
The guy came toward us. I looked up in disbelief because I thought my body language was obvious, but no, he wanted to Prove A Point. His point was Our Dogs Can Be Friends!
As he loped up, I said, “These dogs shouldn’t get too close together.”
But no. He wasn’t going to listen. He brought his dog RIGHT over to Abbie Lynn and let them sniff. All dog body language pointed to bad. Stiff tails. Rigid spines.
I said “This isn’t good.”
“They’re FINE,” he chortled. “They just need to say hello to each other.”
“You don’t know my dog,” I said, just as Abbie turned into a white ball of fury. She snarled and barked as I held her back. He pulled his dog out of harm’s way and Abbie continued lunging until they were about 30 feet away.
“You really should listen,” I said, as he gave me a helpless, goofy look.
I am still so mad I’m almost crying. I’m training my dog as best I can. I don’t know what I can do to train PEOPLE – though I think this guy may have learned his lesson.
If I can feel the tags in my shirts and they drive me insane, that isn’t a disorder to me. It’s just normal. I think manufacturers should do something about their damned tags. Is that not reasonable? Why do you want to drive a significant portion of the buying public insane with your sewn-in tags? I don’t just mean sewn-in, I mean incorporated into the seams. What the heck? You can’t remove the tags without leaving a hole in the seam. Man, that’s just not right.
I’ve never been diagnosed. I never asked. I just did the normal thing and avoided physical activity and the cologne aisle at the department store.
I don’t steal, normally. But I tell you what I have done as an SPD person. It’s a crime, but a small one. I have taken the air fresheners out of public places like bathrooms, and I have thrown them away. I know. Technically stealing, but it’s a public service. You’re being poisoned by those things. You just don’t know it. I do. I can feel it because I have a headache for three hours afterward.
The dog daycare has started putting this room freshener on the counter that spews out scent. It looks like a small stereo speaker. It has a purple light. And it KILLS me. If it hurts me, what is it doing to dogs like mine, who can smell a treat in my pocket from across the street? I don’t know if I can go back anymore.
I have always known I liked being weighed down. I looked forward to dental X-rays, because having that lead apron on me made me feel so good. It was like being home. It was so good that I didn’t even mind the little cardboard X-ray holders cutting into my gums.
At the County Fair, I always loved the Tilt-a-Whirl, not for the thrill of it, but for the extra gravity being in a centrifuge provided. Aaaah. Home. Totally worth the couple bucks it cost me.
When I first saw a weighted blanket online, I knew I needed one. I finally ordered a blue fleece 10 lb blanket filled with the little glass beads like Beanie Babies have in them. God knows how you clean the thing, but I don’t care.
I bunch it all up on top of my chest and I sleep like a baby. I’m an adult. You might say I have Sensory Processing Disorder. I just say I have super sharp senses. And I like extra gravity. It feels normal to me. Goodnight.
I remember being irritated at Kelly. Not big irritated, just enough to make me sigh and refrain from rolling my eyes.
We were at BlogHer – probably 2007 in Chicago. Kelly had just asked, from the audience of a panel discussion about something completely not related to race (in my opinion) why women of color weren’t better represented.
I thought, whatever. Why is she going on about this? It wasn’t something I had considered or ever had to consider, but I already knew Kelly and liked her, so I checked my snark impulse.
When a whole group of women gathered around her after the discussion ended, eager to keep talking, I thought “Hm. What’s up with that?”
I thought it would all blow over. BlogHer was such a cool thing and we were all cool people and certainly none of us were racists, so there were probably no problems to overcome. Right? Right?
Kelly didn’t drop it, though. Fueled by her desire to make the world a better place and most likely encouraged by the feedback she got from that comment, she started writing more about race and justice and What the Hell She Was On About. You can read some of her posts on race here.
And because I liked her, I followed along. Prodded by her thoughtful posts, I began to dig deeper into my own prejudices, of which I have many. I could no longer let my assumptions about race go unchallenged.
Whenever I had a thought that began “Black people [insert stereotype here]…” (rinse and repeat with other races, religions, backgrounds, social classes) I found myself asking “Is that true? How do you know? What kind of evidence do you have? What makes you think that?”
It isn’t comfortable to confront the ugly, ignorant parts of yourself, but it is good to do so. It’s like you walk around wondering why the world smells so bad and you find that you have dog poop on your own shoe. It’s nasty to find and nastier to deal with, but once you clean your shoe, the world is a better place.
I don’t think I ever would have bothered to look at my privilege and prejudice if it weren’t for Kelly. She’s so smart and funny and beautiful that you kind of have to listen to her, annoying as it can be. She’s also brave and dedicated and strong as hell. I’m glad she came into the world 44 years ago today.
Happy Birthday, Kelly. Keep on doing what you do. I’m thankful for it.