Truth # 1 – There is No Time.

My mother always told me, “Life is what you make of it.” She’s right. Life is a blank canvas, waiting for you to paint, sketch, or write what you want on it; if you don’t, if you lead a passive consumer life, you’ll be about as satisfied as you are when you buy That Thing featured in all the commercials – which is to say, not very – and no one will take your complaints seriously. I used to live a life that my ex called “following the path of least resistance.” I allowed life to happen willy-nilly, and I adapted accordingly, because I had no real concept of what sort of life I wanted to create. I had time, I thought, to figure it out; I was willing to spend my twenties in a haze of passivity. That passivity ultimately ended up in motherhood, marriage, divorce, and lots of permanent scars and craters in the landscape of my life. Some of the happenings were fantastically good (My son is amazing, for instance.), but if I’d taken a more direct approach to decision-making, if I’d formulated some sort of a game plan for life, my life would definitely look much different than it does, now. It doesn’t, and that’s that – but I’d like to encourage you to take control of the time that you have, because you aren’t guaranteed a later. To quote a dear friend of mine that is not on the blogosphere:

 “your world, your life is yours to shape.  the universe hands you a hammer with which you can tap or you can bang on your life as you see fit to make it the way you want it.  but when you stop doing, when you wallow and mope and allow all the crud to bury your will, you flip that hammer around and offer the handle to whomever is out there.  and when that happens, more often than not, some bastard is going to grab hold and just whack away and dent you all to hell.  but even if you are lucky and some kind person takes possession, their well meaning taps inevitably also do damage — for they do not know what shape you really need and want your life to be.”

Even if you don’t know what you want, your best guess is better than anyone else’s- because it’s yours and this is your life. So, here’s the truth: you don’t have time to goof around with. Time is an illusion. You have this moment, right here- the present. You can spend it any way that you choose, but there’s no such thing as “buying time,” and this moment is irreplaceable.

“Hey man, d’you wanna buy a watch?”

“Hey no, man. Like, I’m not into time, man.”

– Tommy Chong (this is one of my earliest movie memories – thanks, Dad)

You’re better off making it up as you go along than allowing anyone else to do so. Even the most well-intentioned ‘other’ is going to have ulterior motives, good or not. During the above-mentioned passive haze of my 20s, I stumbled into a Barnes & Noble with one of my best girlfriends, and while I was scanning the shelves for Wayne Dyer books I saw this: pronoia The cover is attention-grabbing, so I picked it up and flipped it over. Imagine my surprise when I read this:

“I have seen the future of American literature and its name is Rob Brezsny.” – Tom Robbins

(Tom Robbins is my favorite author. His books are the Bible of my life, and I first encountered his work on the shelves of a thrift store- Jitterbug Perfume was the most satisfying novel I’d ever read, and it only cost me fifty cents.) I didn’t buy the book. I waited, but when I went back later it was gone. I scanned bookstore shelves for it constantly, over and over, everywhere I went. Finally, nearly two years later, I found the book in a different bookstore in a different city while shopping with the same friend. And I bought it then.

From the cover:

Human beings are selfish, small-minded, violence-prone savages, civilization is a blight on the earth, and the rising tide of chaos ensures that everything’s going to fall apart any day now. Right?

Wrong, says Rob Brezsny. In fact, evil is boring. Cynicism is stupid. Despair is lazy. The truth is that the universe is inherently friendly. Life is a sublime game created for our amusement and illumination, and it always gives us exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.

This book causes enlightened introspection, spontaneous optimism, and careful evaluation of your intentions – all in a flippant, artistic, playful manner. It’s the sort of book you might color in, underline, and write in the margins of. It is, in short, a guidebook to life. I still have two more entries inspired by this book, but for now, I’ll close with snippets of interest from the interwebs:

kamsutra1_2722329b

nanowrimo

Stay tuned for more Pronoia and an update on my word count for NaNoWriMo.

Advertisements

Deliriously Delicious Life

966322_10201016351987385_974932210_o

You probably haven’t missed me, but if you have, you probably already know where I’ve been. If you don’t, here goes: I just got through a disgustingly expensive and time-consuming court ‘battle’ (that word came up repeatedly) over my son. This isn’t a blog where I talk about him, usually, but I figure I have to make some sort of excuse for disappearing. So that’s it. That’s my reason. I’ve had full custody since 2009, when I divorced his father; last year, I started homeschooling because my child was doing abysmally in school, and I rented a second home in his father’s neighborhood so he and the family could help me with the kiddo’s needs. That not only didn’t pan out, they ended up suing for full custody – and they lost, even though I ultimately went to court Pro se (meaning I represented myself).  He still has no custody, and he’s got a visitation arrangement that is actually less visitation than he had last year, but it cost both of us scads of money and it gave me several new gray hairs, and at one point the ex actually intended to use my blog about Loose Girl against me somehow (how?!). His family spammed my fundraising page and my friend’s blogs. His attorney made a huge issue in court about my anti-abuse pages I ‘liked’ on Facebook. And so on and so forth. There are lessons to be learned from this if you have the time or inclination (Marriage is generally a high-risk, low-reward thing, distance from exes is ALWAYS good, and if you have full custody, you have it for a reason so for Pete’s sake steer clear of asking the other parent to ‘help’ if you aren’t sure that their help will actually be helpful, etc.)  – but the biggest lesson is that if you have something to say, someone or several someones out there in the world will try to stop you from saying it. And when that happens, you have to make a choice. Your expression is your light; it is yourself. And you have to choose whether or not to let yourself be silenced, or whether to keep speaking out.

I choose to keep writing. I’m not ashamed of speaking out against abuse, writing about sexuality, or loving literature. The only thing in this  entire blog I’m ashamed of is that I have to confess to having married the sort of person I married in the first place – but life is a process, and I’ve moved on. Now that the mess is over for now, there’s a bit of PTSD, but everything is sweeter, everything is more open, and resuming real life is pretty awesome. So I can get back to the business of blogging, because I’m not ashamed of anything I have to say.

To quote Brian in Vanilla Sky, “It’s the sour and the sweet. And I know sour, which allows me to appreciate the sweet.”

255920_2038638401979_182218_o

The thing that buoyed me up during court is my personal philosophy: Pronoia. What is Pronoia, you ask? John Perry Barlow (yes, the guy that wrote for the Grateful Dead) defined it as “the suspicion the Universe is a conspiracy on your behalf.” Ages ago, I ran across a Rob Brezsny book in a Barnes & Noble while looking for a new Wayne Dyer tome. The unique cover attracted me ,and when I turned the book over, I noticed an endorsement by Tom Robbins (the best writer under the moon). The book was:

Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia, Revised and Expanded: How the Whole World Is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings

And it completely changed my life.

How? That’s the stuff of my next blog. Instead of delving into details, I’ll leave you with a remarkable quote from the book:

“Fairy tales tell of a magic cauldron that cracks apart when a lie is told by the people standing near it. There is one way to restore the pot to wholeness: Speak three great truths in its vicinity.” In my next entries, I will speak my truths.


The Fault in Our Stars

“Like, I realize that this is irrational, but when they tell you that you have, say, a 20 percent chance of living five years, the math kicks in and you figure that’s one in five… so you look around and think, as any healthy person would: I gotta outlast four of these bastards.”

John Green’s The Fault in our Stars  is the quintessential cancer book – and it’s written for young adults. The language is clear and concise, but infused with every bit of the depth of meaning that you’d expect in a book on the subject of life and death. And it’s one of the few books that I think will be even better as a movie.

The_Fault_in_Our_Stars

Hazel Grace Lancaster is relatable on paper. She’s not an insipid Bella-esque teen; she’s a quirky, cynical, real sort of girl that says things like “There is only one thing in this world shittier than biting it from cancer when you’re sixteen, and that’s having a kid who bites it from cancer,” and, “A nonhot boy stares at you relentlessly and it is, at best, awkward and, at worst, a form of assault. But a hot boy… well.” But on paper, she’s still paper. You have to fill her in with that girl you knew that had cancer, who wasn’t as this-or-that as Hazel is. On screen, Hazel will be free to finally be her own paradoxical person: both brave and scared, vulnerable and guarded, young and old at the same time. On paper, she won’t be a caricature of cancer.

The book is full of philosophical references, making it one of the smartest young adult novels I’ve seen on the market in a long time.

The best bits of the book are the soliloquizing, and being a fan of Tom Robbins I can certainly appreciate that. This book would have had more depth without the plot, as a simpler writing on the emotions and thoughts involved with cancer – however, without the love story, the masses wouldn’t have bought it. Well played, Mr. Green.

The most fascinating plot element was (at least for me) that of Peter Van Houten and his novel An Imperial Affliction. Hazel writes him, “…you got everything right in An Imperial Afflication. Or at least you got me right. Your book has a way of telling me what I’m feeling before I even feel it, and I’ve reread it dozens of times… Frankly, I’d read your grocery lists.”

Here’s what I didn’t love about it: I didn’t love the ending- and not for the reason you’d think. I anticipated more Peter van Houten and less John Green, I suppose. Que sera.

There is beauty in the simple choice of words that John Green uses; lofty words, simply profound meanings. Fun lines:
“Television is a passivity.”

“…the existence of broccoli does not in any way affect the taste of chocolate.”

You can get your copy here.


It’s My Anniversary! Here’s a Giveaway!

Here’s the backstory: Today is the anniversary of the day I married my son’s father. I’d had the baby a couple of months previously, but marrying him was everyone’s idea of the “right thing to do” – so, on our lunch break (I’d just started working in his family’s company) we went to the courthouse and tied the knot, with the baby drooling on my grey work shirt. I’ve never regretted – and never will regret – my son, but I’ll always regret the marriage. Silver lining? Every second of your life, you’re making a choice. You’re choosing how to spend your time, and who you spend it with. I love Happily Ever Afters as much as the next girl- but staying in a bad situation doesn’t make it better.  Celebrate your every moment!

In celebration of making BETTER choices, I’d like to give you a gift: Love’s Enduring Bond (NOTE: This does NOT mean that I will be your soulmate for life. This is a book, people.) You can enter the giveaway here!

love's enduring bondThe blurb: A bloody conflict put them on opposite sides, but could not break their bonds of passion.

Elizabeth Warner fell in love with Justin Holt at their first meeting when Elizabeth’s father moved to the Shenandoah Valley to take up a small medical practice there. Justin taught her the joy and passion of love on their wedding night, but war intruded on their bond. When he rode away to war as a colonel of Confederate cavalry, she took their young son and moved back with her father, to nurse Union wounded at her surgeon-father’s hospital in Washington. She tried to put the war and her love of a rebel officer out of her mind until his battered body was carried into her surgical ward.

It’s historic fiction written by Jean C. Keating,a deceased Williamsburg, Virginia author that had diverse interests. She had degrees in mathematics, physics, and information systems; she was Virginia’s Outstanding Young Woman of 1970; she was an aerospace engineer for NASA; she was the head of research for Virginia’s Higher Education Council; she was an animal lover (she especially loved Papillons) – and she was a writer. A writer that was passionate about many things, and wrote this historic romance set during the War of Northern Aggression (For you Yankees, that’d be The Civil War). I never met Ms. Keating, but I wish I had. She lived a full life and maintained hope in Love’s Enduring Bond. Here’s to that.

Enter the giveaway here.

Check back to see who wins- and be sure to subscribe by email so that I have a way to contact you about getting the book to you!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Things that are just plain horrible

Kirinjirafa and I have both adored ITW for decades now – and here it is, revived by Disney, with a distinct aroma of pedophelia attached to it. Oh, dear.

Kirinjirafa's Blog

I’m so grossed out by this. Disney, you’ve done it again.

into the woods 2

Playbill announced yesterday that a 10-year-old bundle of youtubey stardom has been slated for Little Red Riding hood in the upcoming movie adaptation of Into the Woods.

sophia-grace-brownlee-54th-annual-grammy-awards-01

This happens to be one of my favorite Broadway plays. Literate Libran introduced it to me as one of her favorites too- the dual parts of Cinderella and the Witch have always resonated so powerfully with her. For me the strongest message is the underlying indictment on group dynamics in troubled times. Click either of those to read our thoughts about it. Much has been said about this, and I could easily go on about it much more, so naturally I wasn’t too excited when I heard it was headed for movie theaters, but whatever. They snagged Meryl Streep for the lead, and that’s usually a good sign, right? But this?

View original post 570 more words


He Hit Me Last Night

This is something I never talk about. I gloss over it and pretend that my boyfriend isn’t really violent, because it happens so rarely. He’s shoved me topless and shoeless down flights of stairs, left bruises from grabbing my arm when he’s been angry, but those things— I can write those off. I am shaking as I write this. Last night we were at a wedding reception in Charlottesville (his family) and the slit in my dress ripped up my bum. A girl gave me a shawl to cover it, and I entertained myself while he wandered around. I started dancing with one of his female cousins, and he became irate that the shawl (apparently) didn’t cover everything. We left. As we drove down the road, he started telling me that he didn’t want to take me home, that I deserved to walk the streets of this strange town at night. He asked me to get out of the car. I didn’t want to. He threw my cell phone out the window, and then physically tried to throw me out. The next thing I know, the police are here, he’s run off down some alley or side road, and then I was at the police office having photos taken of my bruises, bitemarks and scabs…

It’s really over, I’ve got to find a new place to live, I’ve get to get my stuff out of the home we made together and all of his buildings downtown, I’ve got to decide whether or not to drop the charges that the officers decided to file for me because I was so inebriated. My life is over.

I always promised myself that this would never happen to me; I was too smart for it, because I’d seen it happening to my mother. The really sick thing is how much I love him and how badly I want it all just to be over. I wish I could be with him again. It will never happen, and we’d both be stupid if it did. 

It did. I wrote that in 2005, while we had a temporary restraining order in place, between packing and moving my things into storage so that I could drive the 14 hours “home” to my family. The very hour the restraining order was up, we met. We talked about how much we loved each other and how tragic it was that our love was so cursed.

That night, he sent me a series of depressed and drugged suicidal texts, and I called his father to ask him to please, please check on his son.

He came by the hotel I was staying in as I rested to drive into the hazy homeward sunrise the next morning- to tell me one last time how much he loved me- while his dad waited to drive him to an inpatient rehab facility (which he never completed the program in).

I’d told a friend that was helping me move, “What do you bet I get home and find out I’m pregnant?” That is exactly what happened. “That idiot doesn’t even have to know about the baby,” my grandmother said.

I turned around, drove back, moved back in with him, and married the guy.

That is the definition of codependency.

And this is the definition of oversharing on the internet. Or is it? I broke up with and took him back more times than I can count. We divorced, he signed over full custody- and now we’re embroiled in a costly legal battle in which he’s accusing me of being a terrible mother, and asking for full custody.

There are so many women out there going through this exact same thing, and there are ways out. There are so many things I wish I could tell my 22 year old self. And my 25 year old self. And my 30 year old self.  Breaking the cycle is hard. Unhealthy love is as intense as Twilight, and we’re all more interesting than Bella. But choosing to stay in the cycle is choosing something worse than dying: it’s choosing a life without living.

It’s your choice.

The blog that doesn’t exist anymore


Silver Linings Playbook

silverlining

In an effort to escape my current reality of sifting through the granular remnants of time, I’ve been focusing on Silver Linings Playbook this week. First, there was the audiobook. I’m not sure that I liked it, but it was interesting. Trying to delve into the complexities of life with mood disorders and other problems while explaining societal response to “problems” is a uniquely captivating – and prevalent -subject.

I didn’t have high hopes for the movie, because most of the book occurs inside the protagonist’s head, and how can a film convey all that?

Answer: not well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good movie, it just has very little in common with the book. In the movie, he’s delusional undiagnosed bipolar with mood swings, and you find that out within the first fifteen minutes. In the book, the guy doesn’t remember the crime that landed him in the psychiatric facility until nearly the end of the story; in the film, he remembers it the entire time. In the movie, he was in the facility for eight months, while in the book he was in “the bad place” for four years.

Behavenet.com had a field day with this film, tagging it with:

Anxiety Disorders | Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder | Bereavement |boundaries | delusion | depression | dose | drug | hallucination | Mania | mental illness | mood swings | obsession | Obsessive Compulsive Disorder | persecutory delusion | psychiatric hospital | psychiatrist | psychotherapy | stress | lithium |Seroquel | quetiapine | Abilify | aripiprazole | trazodone | Xanax | alprazolam |Klonopin | clonazepam | 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine | ethyl alcohol |venlafaxine | Effexor

There’s a lot of good in the book (and even a little in the film, too). One of the best parts of both is that it actualizes the struggles many of us live with (or have lived with) in our day-to-day, validating them with the stamp of public attention. Having spent years of my life looking for answers in literature and living through a couple of dysfunctional relationships, I have to say, most of us deserve better than a silver lining, but from within a bad situation, sometimes that’s the most we can bring ourselves to hope for. We look for answers, advice, and even treatment from the outside- but all change starts within.

My favorite quotes: “Life is not a PG feel-good movie. Real life often ends badly. Literature tries to document this reality, while showing us it is still possible for us to endure nobly.”

“When I read the actual story-how Gatsby loves Daisy so much but can’t ever be with her no matter how hard he tries-I feel like ripping the book in half and calling up Fitzgerald and telling him his book is all wrong, even though I know Fitzgerald is probably deceased. Especially when Gatsby is shot dead in his swimming pool the first time he goes for a swim all summer, Daisy doesn’t even go to his funeral, Nick and Jordan part ways, and Daisy ends up sticking with racist Tom, whose need for sex basically murders an innocent woman, you can tell Fitzgerald never took the time to look up at clouds during sunset, because there’s no silver lining at the end of that book, let me tell you.”

The story reminds me of this Rilo Kiley song:

And the grass it was a ticking
And the sun was on the rise
I never felt so wicked
As when I willed our love to die

And I was your silver lining
As the story goes
I was your silver lining
But now I’m gold

 

One more quote from the book: “And I still love you in my own fucked-up way. I miss you, I really do. Can we still be friends?”