Tag: Bravery

17Dec

Our Right to Thumbs

As soon as I opened Facebook this morning, the site recommended two pages for me based on my friends’ likes:

Guns and Shooting.

Guns and Shooting, and my friends’ names alongside pixelated thumbs of approval. Guns and Shooting, and a Facebook feed bristling in defense of assault rifles. Guns and Shooting, and quotes from religious figures implying that God allowed the tragedy as an act of revenge on a school system that no longer sponsors him. Guns and Shooting, and the caps-locked screams of loved ones fighting for their unhindered right to weapons of destruction.

As a culture (and I speak in sweeping generalities here), we Americans have accepted that violence can only be counteracted with more violence. We see war as 100% necessary and place our hope in the Jack Bauers of the nation. We think that the only way to defend ourselves from guns is to put more guns into circulation. We claim that if only the Sandy Hook teachers had been packing heat, Friday’s tragedy would have been averted. We believe in our hearts that we will have to use deadly force against another human being at some point in our lives, so it’s best to be prepared. We state that guns don’t kill people, people kill people, but we forget to count ourselves among the potential killers because we’re on the good guy team.

We respond to the massacre of twenty young children by defending the weapons that killed them.

As a child, I had fun shooting targets and small animals, and the cold cruelty of a machine made to destroy never entered my mind. Guns were just something every family kept in the coat closet. Even at university, when a classmate was expelled for stockpiling weapons and ammunition in his dorm room, I absorbed friends’ indignation on his behalf. “He would never use them to hurt anyone!” we all said. And on this point, we were probably right. My classmate enjoyed hunting, and where could he store his gear if not in his dorm room?

However, our university had rules in place to reduce the risk of mass murders, so they expelled the student who, regardless of motives, had stocked up on devices specifically designed to kill. And this is what the gun debate comes down to for me—risk reduction. No, there is no amount of legislation that will prevent psychopaths or terrorists from enacting violence. Yes, there will always be a healthy black market for weapons of destruction. Yes, people should have the right to defend themselves, especially on their own property. No, peace is never guaranteed.

But can we just step back for a moment from the mentality that violence is our birthright? Can we stop letting fear dictate our morals? Can we have the courage to take a fraction of the risk off the shoulders of innocent schoolchildren and hold it ourselves, in their stead? Rather than amending our lifestyles and outlooks and job descriptions to include more violence, can we consider amending the availability of its instruments?

I am not arguing to abolish gun ownership altogether, though my husband and I believe that as followers of Jesus, we need to take his teachings on nonviolence to heart. However, we need to talk and talk hard about why civilians are allowed to own assault machinery, why it’s easier to get bullets than to get Sudafed, and why the fiercest fight in the aftermath of Newtown is waged on behalf of the murder weapons.

We need to consider what we are saying about human life with our thumbs-up.

~~~

Further reading:

On Violence by D.L. Mayfield, who shares her thoughts on how to do radical pacifism

Breaking News, Bearing Arms by Rebecca Woolf, whose husband is with her today because of his stance on nonviolence

Do We Have the Courage to Stop This? by Nicholas Kristof, who shows that we’re more worried about regulating ladders than about regulating firearms

Speed Kills by William Saletan, who holds Friday’s tragedy up against school attacks outside the U.S.

God Angrily Clarifies ‘Don’t Kill’ Rule by The Onion, who brilliantly, profanely, and heartbreakingly speaks the obvious

Love Your Enemies by Jesus, who lived it

Feel free to add your own suggested links in the comments!

29Nov

Honestly

I set up a Facebook page yesterday. Honestly, I’m not sure why it took me a year of “Huh, I should get on that”s and noncommittal throat noises to actually click the button… though honestlyhonestly, it might have something to do with this fun personal fact: I’m afraid of attention.

We’re talking woodland creature skittishness here, jumping beans in my stomach, thoughts sprouting gray hairs. I don’t think even Dan knows this yet (hi, honey!), but I had to fight back stage fright at our wedding. I still agonize trying to guess which day of the year Italian women will switch from ballet flats to boots because yes, the world will in fact end if I leave the house in unseasonable footwear. From the time I was a girl attracting double-takes with my homeschool uniform (picture an eleven-year-old Michelle Duggar), I’ve always had a wild desire to go unnoticed in public, and that self-protective instinct gets twitchier than ever when it focuses on my writing.

The simple truth is that this is my heart, strung out in black typeface and compulsive backspaces. When you read my blog, you read my heart, and my posting here is something like the CIA declaring Open House Day. My insecurities are here, my doubts, my hopes, the issues I struggle with and mull over, the insights that bring me peace… and by drawing attention to them, I am well aware I’m opening them up to criticism. It feels like standing on a busy intersection in my puffy denim jumper and even puffier bangs, waving.

There are the other fears too—the vulnerability of starting something new, the fragile alliance of “like” buttons, the safety net of personal privacy settings sidestepped. Always, always, statistics and purpose compete for precedence in my mind, and perspective can be as difficult to nail down as a live squid. I’ve moaned to Dan on an occasion or two [slight understatement] about how unfair it is that I was wired to write. As long as I’m following these heart-nudges, my goals and my personality will be at odds, and I wish I could be fulfilled in life by something simpler, less emotionally risky. Deep sea welding, for instance.

However, I can’t turn off the light in my core that says this, here is what I’m meant to be doing. It’s as clear a sense of vocation as I’ve ever experienced, and as much as I might like to dismiss this blog as a mere hobby (a monthly ritual of despair, which I’m sure has no correlation whatsoever to other monthly occurrences) or hide it under a bushel or amputate every stubborn neuron compelling me to write, a force stronger than fear keeps me here… and not just here, but honestly delighted to be here.

I know that sharing this with you is not exactly the act of withdrawal my inner stage-fright was hoping for. It’s the opposite in fact—a declaration of purpose and vulnerability waved from a busy intersection, eyes staring deliberately into the headlights. However, I wanted you to understand how much it means to me to be here with you, in typeface and photos, insecurities and Tweets, and a heart that wants to connect with yours far more than it wants to hide.

~~~

Is there anything your sanity compels you to do that simultaneously terrifies you? I’d love to hear about it; after all, commiseration and encouragement are two of the very best things about this great internet of ours.

Oh, and don’t forget to head over and “like” my Facebook page (why yes, I am making ironic quote marks with my fingers right now) if you’d like to connect, get blog updates, or otherwise make my day.

5Oct

Purple

She’s one of the most likeable women you’d ever meet—sweet, positive, and so down-to-earth that you forget to be intimidated by her ridiculous beauty. She gave birth to her first child while her husband was deployed overseas, and she continues to raise their babies with enthusiasm while maintaining a fairytale marriage and caring, deeply, for her friends and extended family. I haven’t seen her in several years, but we keep up[ish] through Facebook, and I’d love to have a coffee with her (or run a marathon, which is more her style and might have something to do with the ridiculous beauty factor).

That is, I’d love to have a coffee with her if I could be certain that politics would never enter the conversation. Regularly since the 2008 election, she’s been posting hate-laced statuses about our current American president, and not just pointing out policies she doesn’t agree with, but defaming his character, blaming him for everything she sees wrong in the world, claiming that his presidency is literally making her sick, and viciously insulting anyone who wishes him well. And see, that anyone happens to include me.

She’s not the only one either, and according to my Facebook home page, some of my friends—all good people who would never say the following to my face—indirectly call me an ignorant commie, heretical, devoid of common sense, a jaw-flapping liberal, anti-American, a fool. Keep in mind that this is before the election; votes have yet to be cast, and the vitriol loading down friend feeds across the world is directed solely toward… well, belief.

I honestly don’t know how to shrug off the weight of that. I haven’t voted yet—I haven’t even decided which candidate will get my vote—but I know that my thought processes about government and standard of living are enough in themselves to attract poison-tipped backlashes, even if I never try to propagate those thoughts. Just the fact that they’re different from some others’ is enough. I want so badly to believe that we as a humanity have matured, that the people of today would never put Galileo on trial for claiming that our planet revolved around the sun, that we would never imprison Dostoevsky for discussing Western philosophy with his friends or condemn Socrates for encouraging free thought in his students or launch inquisitions to force orthodoxy on the populace… but I don’t know if it’s that we’re more mature now or if we simply have less power to turn hateful opinions into hateful actions.

I’d planned to keep my blog a politics-free zone this election season, to stay far out of the various lines of fire and [fingers crossed] avoid any combative holiday dinners. I’m still hurting from some of the things said about me, my husband, and even our sweet little girls back in 2008, and I don’t want to open up my beliefs again to that kind of derision. On the other hand, I know deep down that it’s not enough to step back and passively disapprove. I can’t hope to see change by refusing to engage any more than I could by dashing off snide critiques of the presidential debate, and I don’t want the better part of my identity, the part that stands for rather than against, to atrophy simply because I’m afraid of criticism.

So here, friends, is what makes my heart beat stronger in this election season, what I believe in enough to brave the often-toxic political climate and speak up:

– Respectful, curiosity-fueled discussions meant to better understand another’s way of thinking rather than bash that thinking as wrong or stupid. I know the Presidential Debate isn’t likely to become the Presidential Win-Win Relational Learning Hour anytime soon, but interviewing a friend with a different outlook could be a great start. (Rachel Held Evan’s “Ask a…” series is a fantastic example.)

– Open-mindedness and sincere consideration of all sides. Our political affiliations are so often determined by our family backgrounds rather than our core values, and even though honest reflection will probably lead us right back to our original positions, we can hopefully come back with more personal conviction, a deeper regard for those who arrive at other conclusions, and a sense that our nation is not red and blue so much as it is purple.

– Love across party lines—when we put down the pitchforks and snarky e-cards and choose to see people’s worth apart from their political leanings. Dan is not one microspeck less the man I love because we sometimes vote differently, and despite our many conversations about politics through the years, he has yet to realize he’s married to an anti-American commie heretic. I’ve lost out on so much goodness in the past by letting political fervor cloud my view of the people in my life, and I can personally attest that there is no victory in making a point at the expense of relationships.

– Grace toward those who make us angry, either by their differing beliefs or through their harsh words. This is the hardest one for me, but I recognize that my adorable military-wife friend needs me to take her cruel words with perspective and forgiveness just as much as I need her to take my support of the president with understanding and respect. This grace thing, it goes both ways.

You know, I was thisclose to bowing out of Facebook this morning. I had the status box already filled in with a quippy explanation of how all the political posts were driving me away, but as my finger hovered over the “Post” button, I caught a glimpse of my words as others would see them—as a conversation-ender, a slammed door. I might not have been posting vitriol or preaching what I think you should think about economic reform, but it was graceless all the same, a 180° deviation from the open mind and heart I so want to cultivate.

I don’t have an exact picture of what my role should look like, now that soap-boxer and head-buried ostrich are out, but I’m willing to explore the possibilities in between. I might just stick with listener (and occasional blogger) for now. Like so many other Americans, I want change, but the change I’m craving has less to do with policies and more to do with people, and people aren’t something to be argued away. We’re all roommates on this planet, charged by our very design with caring for each other, and the fact that we’re each wired to see the world uniquely doesn’t have to be a curse. I’d much rather take it as a gift, these purple-colored glasses for election season, these opportunities to stand for my belief in understanding yours better.

18Sep

Schooled

Today marks one week back at school for the girls. Summer lasts long in Italy, and I can no longer contemplate freshly sharpened pencils in the same month when all our neighbors are headed to their beach homes, or apples for the teacher when we’re still in the syrupy peach haze of August. No, the backpacks come out of storage with the skinny jeans here, and this, my fifth back-to-school as an expat mother, is the first time I haven’t been afraid of it.

You have to understand that few personalities are less suited to the learningcoastercrazyspiral of expat life than mine. Two words: shy perfectionist. I’m easily intimidated by the challenge of opening my mouth in my own language, much less a foreign one, and I desperately want to do every last little particle of life right. Moving to a new culture where I am 100% guaranteed to make mistakes every time I a) step out my door, b) open my mouth, and c-z) try to pass myself off as a confident, capable adult who knows what the hell she’s doing in line at the post office has been an ongoing exercise in recovering from mortal embarrassment and pinning my worth on something other than social finesse. (Baked goods, perhaps?)

The girls’ back-to-school transition is particularly prone to trial and error because parents are expected to know through a combination of telepathy and strategic neighborhood networking who to register with, where to order books, how to stock up on supplies, which uniform is required, and what day and time of day school starts. I am inordinately grateful each year when we manage to show up before the bell and with a majority of the right supplies. This year, however, my gratefulness was due less to beating the telepathy game and more to having a great group of friends we can hit up for details. I didn’t have to worry that my child would end up the only second-grader without 5-millimeter graph paper or that my other child would be kicked out of kindergarten for lack of a sun hat. I really didn’t worry at all, which was a welcome departure from tradition.

This lack of anxiety was significant for another reason too, another kind of cultural divide overcome. See, I was raised in a hyper-fundamentalist Christian lifestyle based almost entirely on fear. First and foremost, we were afraid of God; he was demanding, judgmental, and vindictive, and he dangled the threat of hell above our heads like a sword hanging on the gossamer strand of his patience. We were so afraid of incurring his wrath that we accepted every passing religious do and don’t at face value and left critical thinking to those damned (literally) liberals.

We were almost equally afraid of “The World,” the term we used to describe any society or person who did not share our beliefs. The World was the government who collected taxes and redistributed them as welfare and failed to enforce our country’s founding values. The World was secular media, with its television programs and feature films and news bulletins all designed to glorify sin. Most of all, The World was public school, Satan’s greatest ploy for corrupting young hearts and minds. The only times I set foot in a public school as a child was when my parents went there to vote, and despite the empty classrooms and quiet halls, I was terrified that the godlessness of the place would seep into my pores like an airborne disease.

I’m a parent of school-aged daughters myself now, and I understand more than ever what my parents feared about sending me off to school. When I pass my girls into the waiting arms of their teachers, I relinquish a very large measure of control. I no longer act as filter and gatekeeper to my children’s minds, and yes, it is incredibly scary to imagine what ideas and mannerisms they could absorb away from home. My kneejerk reaction would be to protect, protect, protect, to turn our home into a bunker of parental-approved thinking and only let in whatever wafts of the outside world won’t disturb our family ecosystem.

I know from deeply personal experience, however, that mind control is a losing game for everyone involved. Discernment can’t grow in an environment where only one side of an issue is ever presented. Conflict resolution can’t be learned where conflict is never allowed. Grace can’t thrive in a relational or ideological vacuum, nor can compassion, courage, or humility. We were designed to live in a multifaceted world full of wonderfully unique people who hold diverse opinions, and I want my children to experience the horizon-expanding beauty of this design instead of hiding from it in fear.

Beyond the fact that I would be a terrible homeschool teacher (seriously, the worst), I don’t actually want to be the only adult my girls look up to or learn from. I don’t agree with everything that their teachers and Sunday School leaders and even relatives tell them, but those differences in opinion have a way of sparking great conversations with the girls, conversations we wouldn’t get to have if they were getting a single-minded stream of information from me. Besides, facts aren’t everything. The girls also get love from the “outsiders” in our lives, and part of the joy of their return to school this year was in their reunion with much-beloved teachers and classmates.

How could I be afraid of that, I ask?

First grade done

(I can’t.)

21Aug

Metaphorically Brave

Even my coffee cup is dripping sweat. It’s a wool-heavy 97° in the shade, and the entire tray of ice cubes I plinked into my espresso have melted away. I see metaphor in this, but my four-year-old has started teetering out of her bedroom each day with a cheery “Good morning, I’m MELTING, can you put extra ice in my coffee?” so perhaps it’s time I found a new metaphor.

This coffee cup was a gift earlier this year from a soul sister who instinctively knows my brainwaves and heartbeats, and the message she painted on it could be my motto for the year if I could come to accept the poetry of it beneath the film of sweat. See, this prompt to muse, awake, and do brave things has taken on a very practical significance over the last couple of months. As the Emerson quote goes, “An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory,” but there is no such thing as a mere ounce of action when two work-from-home parents start pulling together a side business from scratch.

Rather, there is 1 a.m. and then 2 a.m. and then 3 a.m. for the fourteenth night in a row. There are heads pressed against desks, and it could be frustration or it could be prayer or it might just be good old-fashioned exhaustion. There is a mind-numbing amount of research, more study than I ever put into university midterms (and that was pre-motherhood!). There are a dozen moments in any given day when I catch myself reading over legal fine-print or double-checking prices or wading through PHP with a child hanging off each arm and think Who am I kidding?

Bootstrapping is like training for a marathon while you’re running it. It’s ridiculous and exhilarating and as emotional stabilizing as Tourette’s. It’s an enthusiastic brainstorm one moment followed by an overwhelmed slump the next, and hope has to take over in the absence of any guarantees. I know that some of you have gone through this too, so correct me if I’m wrong, but starting up a side business doesn’t feel brave so much as it feels… well, sweaty. We’re doing it though—ridiculous, spastic hope and all—and despite the exhaustion and constant perspective-swings, it’s been kind of fun. Especially this:

(Did you check out the site? We built it, Dan and I, mostly during late-late nights after our usual work was done and the girls in bed. By the grace of God, it does not appear to include any bleary references to will.i.am interviews or those hallucinatory kids’ shows that air after midnight.)

While we’re rooting on these gorgeous local olive wood sets to provide a new stream of income, I’m most excited to be sharing regular posts about the Italian style of home entertaining that has so influenced the structure of our days. (I rewrote that last sentence several times so it wouldn’t sound like our lives revolve around happy hour, which it doesn’t, except to the extent that we’re building a business around it and taste-testing twenty cocktails in one day, and I should probably stop explaining now.) Part of what we love so much about life here is the priority Italians place on sitting around a table together, investing in relationships and enjoying foods and drinks that are brilliant works of art in themselves, and both Dan and I are looking forward to passing along that tradition through Aperitì.

We slipped out for a two-day getaway at our favorite campground last week, and as I stood with a giddily nervous Sophie-girl at the edge of the pond, I reminded her what I believe about bravery—that it’s doing something even though it scares you. This child, who has never once agreed to enter a body of water deeper than her bikini bottom, dipped her toe in the pond, recoiled several feet, sat down, inched forward, adjusted her collection of floaties, peeked in the water, shut her eyes, opened them, shut them again, and finally, breathlessly, plunged in. I suppose that’s not too different from my own mental process this summer, and even though it might sound overly dramatic to call opening a small online store and accompanying blog brave, this might be just the new metaphor I need.

Brave

2May

Recovery Mode

May 1st is Labor Day here in Italy, and in order to fully celebrate its freedom to work, the nation exercised its freedom to take off from work starting last Thursday evening. Folks, we’re talking five full days of weekend. Five! Traditionally, one of my favorite things about any given weekend is the opportunity it affords me to catch up on unfinished projects, but this time, my body took a calculating look at the swath of free time ahead, mumbled “It’s about time,” and punched out. I don’t know how many hours I slept over the last few days, but they never seemed like quite enough. While the rest of the country picnicked, I passed out. They shopped, I snoozed. They went camping, I went comatose. You get the idea. At any rate, this morning, its gray light and calendar flip equally disorienting, is probably as good a time as any to accept that I’m in recovery mode.

To fully understand the issue that’s had me reeling lately, you’d have to peek among the pages of my childhood journals. The back story is all there, even if I couldn’t articulate it at the time. You see, one of the most basic tenets of my family’s fundamentalist lifestyle was that children were inferior. Outwardly, our movement held up Bible verses labeling children as a gift, but more quietly and much more pervasively, it taught that children were little sin-bred decepticons with no intrinsic worth until they were broken in. A child’s mind was a thing to be shaped, not acknowledged. Growing up as a child of that movement, I had little right to my own opinions, and if my perspective ever differed from an adult’s, I was wrong, automatically and without question.

There was a personal element to it as well. Because I was the oldest child in our family and the one whose independent streak clashed most visibly against our movement’s ideals, I needed to be put down more decisively than most. Whereas other children in our lifestyle had at least the hierarchy of age in their favor, my words could be invalidated by those of younger siblings. I can vividly remember being forbidden to tell my side of a story because it wouldn’t count anyway. I was guilty until proven innocent, and my proof was often disqualified unheard.

It’s lingered with me long, that poisoned whisper from my past: Your opinions do not matter. You have nothing worth saying. No one wants to hear what you think. No one will believe you anyway. Safely ensconced in adulthood, I see the lie for what it is, and I win another victory against it every day that I post an entry here or submit an article or talk honestly with a friend. However, some hurts are too powerful to simply keel over and die; instead, they lie dormant until a specific trigger jolts them back to life.

That trigger came a couple of weeks ago.

I had been asked for my help in a situation that quickly turned more complicated than anyone had expected. As weeks went by, the situation became increasingly unmanageable, and I finally went to the party that had initially asked for my help to ask them for help. Their response came hurtling out of left field. Where I’d anticipated a brainstorming session, I was met by a flurry of emotional outbursts and unfounded accusations that continued for an hour unabated. The only reason I stayed, tears welling with each insult, was that I hoped the situation could be salvaged once the other party calmed down enough to listen to me. Then the trigger—They refused to hear my side of the story. They let me know they wouldn’t believe me, that my words were automatically invalid to them. The conversation was closed.

Your opinions do not matter. You have nothing worth saying. No one wants to hear what you think. No one will believe you anyway.

My panic attack was already gaining momentum by the time we said goodbye. An old current of pain jolted alive and coursed through my body like fire and ice, unbearably strong. The fresh pain of the other party’s words and the stress of the already-unmanageable situation crushed down on my head and lungs, and all oxygen vanished from the room at once. I don’t know how long it lasted before my sweet husband was able to calm my heart rate and restore feeling to my limbs; minutes turn into eternities when you can’t breathe, and I know we came close to an ER trip. I could no sooner control the panic than I could fly, but even in the worst of it, I understood how absurd it was to be having such an intense physical reaction to the evening’s conversation. As an adult, with both logic and a clear conscience on my side, I could have fought for myself or, even more easily, stepped away. No one had forced me to stay on the line, much less take the hurtful concepts to heart. Beyond that, I knew better than to believe the insidious lies used to control me as a child, so how could I be falling apart over them? How could I have let a few misguided words yank my stability out from under me?

I guess the truth of it is that I’m not fearless, nor am I immune. Some small part of my heart is willing to believe that the voices from my past are the right ones in a world of attractive deception and that no matter what sort of façade I build for myself, others will still be able to sense my worthlessness. This small part of my heart had found confirmation in the unkind things said to me in that trigger-quick conversation, and so even once my breath returned, I kept my mouth shut and my feelings on ice for the better part of a week. I felt like my voice had been stolen and only a ghost of a woman remained.

The feeling of bereavement didn’t last, of course, and as my confidence began to trickle back, I started drafting a letter that I hoped would bring some resolution. However, each version I wrote struck me as too confrontational, so I kept gentling it down until I had written a full letter of apology. From me. To the people who had hurt me. For the sole purpose of convincing them to have a better opinion of me in the future. I think I was hoping the apology would count toward me as turn-the-other-cheek karma, a sort of magic spell for reconciliation and happiness and divine brownie points all around, but reading back over those unctuous paragraphs in my own handwriting was like catching myself with tongue out, inches from a dirty boot. Sure, someone else may have triggered my emotional beast, but here I was keeping it alive, perpetuating the lies. Me.

Dear Lord. Was I still so willing to believe myself a cosmic mistake? Was I really so eager to discredit all the love and encouragement shown to me throughout the years in favor of the soul-killing ideologies I thought I’d escaped?

I didn’t send the letter. As much as I wanted to make peace with the situation, I recognized that I wasn’t doing anyone a favor by patronizing a lie, and I made myself promise that I would respond to my accusers face to face once the time was right, once my feet were planted firmly enough in grace to lavish it on all of us. And so I wait in recovery mode. This is such a passive process that the insistent, sleep-for-five-days bout of exhaustion caught me off guard, but I guess it’s not the easiest thing in the world to let go of an identity-lie.

This process has a lot in common with running, actually. I’ve started up again, and for as slowly as I move and as embarrassingly little endurance as I have, I’m proud of my breathing. It’s been my one athletic success so far, learning to fill my lungs to capacity and then release it all, step after step. My natural inclination is to hold myself in and conserve breath under an airtight diaphragm, but as I run taut against the wind and feel increasingly convinced I’m dying, panic clamps down on my lungs like a desperate hoarder and I finish the workout doubled over. Attractive, let me tell you.

I’m learning about letting go, though, about trusting that each new breath will be waiting within reach and that I’ll have the energy for each new step as it comes. Relaxing into the process doesn’t come naturally to me, so I’m doing the clumsy beginner routine right now both in running and in living—inhale and exhale, acknowledge and release, listen and move on, grace and more grace. The rhythm doesn’t come easily yet, but time is kind, and at least I can rest assured that if my tongue sticks out these days, it’s only in concentration.

23Apr

Rebel Rebel

Some weeks, ideas pile up against each other like enthusiastic puppies in their haste to get out. Other weeks, their ebb seems devastatingly final. I may never really come to terms with this cyclic nature of creativity, this manic-depressive supply of words. The puppy weeks are amazing, of course. I am able! My life has meaning! I will never run out of things worth saying! But then the next week swoops in like a Dementor and I am incapable and my life is meaningless and I never had anything worth saying in the first place and I should probably just go eat some worms. Extra slimy ones.

I sometimes blame the dry spell on my muse’s jetting off to the tropics and shrug it off, but more often, I accept the sense of inadequacy my mind presses on me as being the truest truth. I learned this resignation a long time ago from a culture that believed in beating out children’s wills, and as far as I’ve removed myself from that context, its repercussions still catch me off guard. I have big ideas but very little confidence, plenty of frustration without any fight, and a perspective that rides on the weather. I’d classify this brain of mine up there with stink badgers in terms of affability.

So you should know that this, just showing up to the page with reluctant fingers and worms on my breath, is counted unto me as the rebellion I never had the courage to stage. Even though I feel certain right now that my artistic life is meaningless, over, etc., etc., I am ditching the appropriate misery in favor of a totally punk determination to blog (Anti-establishmentarianism FTW!) and finding out that insubordination is just the kind of thing that can change the weather.

(Lapis lazuli nails help too.)

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