Monday, September 18, 2017

I'm Still Here!

I know it's been awhile since I posted anything and I would like to say that will get better but it's going to be a patchy couple of months.


Sabbatical is fianlly here and in full swing! Yay! Which is great for vacationing and family time and relaxing together and probably a few household projects, but not so good for sitting down and writing.

This week I will try my best to crank out some blogs. Some fiction, some ranting, some things. Just things. :-) But then we are off again for another week and I will be radio silent.

We are two and a half weeks in and so far we've gone to a preseason hockey tournament, spent a little over a week in Hawaii and gone back to Michigan for a football game. Not a bad start at all. This morning we slept in while the rain fell outside and the house stayed dark and cool. It was pretty perfect.

I'm even having a hard time working up a good rant about the state of the world today I'm feeling so mellow. Give me a couple more days back on the mainland for that.

But I wanted to post this really quickly to let you all know I'm alive and well and will be writing more soon. I still plan on the daily block of hours writing...starting in November. But I want to enjoy this sabbatical as fully as possible since even though it's Brent's third with Intel it's our first with no other commitments during the same time frame. Ahh...

And I might even need a few suggestions for short stories, so put your thinking caps on and give me an idea to do some speed writing later in the week! Gotta blow out the salt and sand and get the gears working again.

Aloha and Mahalo!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Simple is as simple does....

I tend to think people in the online world are too simplistic in their ideals. And I see this now in the offline world as well. If x then y. All of the time. And purity tests. If you are x then you must believe y. All of the time.

I don't think that way. I never have. I make the joke that no straight lines were used when creating me. Not in my shape or in my thoughts. I curve. I think situations need to be evaluated separately. I think that good enough is often the best course of action and waiting for perfect is just lazy thinking. Why lazy? Because if you can discount things that aren't perfect you never have to reason out why something is good enough.

I think this lazy thinking is the root of a lot of problems in our society. Simplistic lines lead to tribalism. I believe this so I belong here. You believe that so you belong over there. And then we go from the we believe different things to people who believe different things than we do are wrong and stupid and must never be included.

Godless heathen
Religious hypocrite

On and on and on.

But there is pretty much always nuance to be had. There are differences in situations.

One of the bashing sticks on the Right right now is Antifa. If you mention the alt-right and the white supremacist movements they want to bring in Antifa and BLM usually as well. Now comparing BLM to white supremacists is beyond laughable. But I've talked about BLM before so I'm going to skip that repeat and just focus on Antifa.

Antifa is a pain in the ass. They make things difficult for the voices on the left to be heard. They are a great recruiting tool for the alt-right. They do more harm than they do good. I've posted about them before. I railed against what they were doing on election night and the four nights that followed here in Portland. I railed against them again on election day and May Day. I don't approve of them. I think they are generally anarchists who just want to break shit and have no real agenda other than that.


In Charlottesville they were on the right side. They weren't there to damage property or prevent "good people with different ideas" from speaking. They were there because heavily armed white supremacists were marching in the fucking street. That changes the context and context matters. When actual fascists are around it makes sense for anti-fascists to be there too. And let's keep in mind that a woman died and it wasn't Antifa that caused it. Another man was beaten in a parking garage. And it wasn't Antifa. Another man shot a gun in to the crowd. And it wasn't Antifa. The people with the swastikas were not the good guys. There were no good people in the crowd with the torches chanting Blood and Soil. There should be no shelter given to "just different ideas" when those ideas are racial cleansing. Get it? Context matters.

Which then brings us to Berkeley this past weekend. And the context changes again. You had the Patriot Prayer group show up to cause problems. He goes to areas where the majority of people are liberal to get a reaction. "I'm just all about free speech." Okay, but why do you need to travel to Berkeley to practice it? Or try in San Francisco? Or even downtown Portland? You live in Vancouver, why don't you speak there? Could it be because you won't get the opposing crowds there so it's not the photo op you are looking for? Probably. And I get it, you're sure you're not a racist and you don't understand why all these racists keep coming to your're just an attention whore. Fine. But then we have Antifa show up again and it's the Black Bloc version. And they just want a fight. So they caused one. And they were wrong.

See how that works? It's all about the situation and the context.

I don't like Patriot Prayer. I think they are providing a front for some very bad actors and then when they get called out on it they clutch their pearls and declare they have never been so insulted. And they disavow people that are at their rallies and marching with them as soon as they, oh let's say, kill two people on a Max train. So be clear, they aren't good people, they don't attract only good people. But their rallies cloak themselves in Christianity and Patriotism so you do actually get some people there that are just conservatives thinking they've found a place to shout their messages. So now you get to shout them down when you don't agree with what they are saying. Use your own free speech to drown out theirs if you want. And honestly, he and his group should just be ignored. It's just not worth it. And if you cannot ignore them at least don't raise a hand to them.

Until they pick up the swastika. Then beat them back down.

Yeah, I know. Free speech is all about people saying things you don't agree with and we should all be tolerant of it...


There are things we should never ever ever tolerate. And Nazis are top of the list. And the fact that this seems to be hard for people to grasp is boggling to me. It has been since the video of Richard Spencer getting punched on inauguration day went around. I'm not talking about punching someone because you think they are a Nazi. I'm talking about people who self identify with that shit. Who proudly and loudly proclaim their white nationalism and desire for a cleansing. This to me is crazy that people are defending them.

We fought an actual literal war against them. We call that age group the Greatest Generation because they fought the fascists. What the hell happened to all of us that we now can't see out of our own bubbles and if x then y beliefs to understand that NOBODY of ANY political persuasion should be in favor of them marching through the streets. They are violent by nature and call. What they want to do is only achievable by violence so as soon as they pick up that banner it's violent. It's not just a "different idea."

I'd like Antifa to stop being a bunch of violent destructive assholes who are just giving the alt-right an out. But I'd like all of us to break out of our stupid little bubbles and be a lot more anti-fascist. No matter what the context. Simple right?

Monday, August 21, 2017

What Next?

The day the sun disappeared it wasn't a shock. It had been planned for. Mapped out. People flew in from all around the world to watch. It was an event timed to the exact second it would disappear. So no one was surprised.

The oooh...and aahhh... of the crowd was like a wave, or maybe like a pebble tossed in a pond. Rippling out. Everyone enraptured as they watched.

And watched.

And watched.

Finally one after another looked down at their phones to check the time. Wasn't it only supposed to last for a few minutes? How long had it gone on?

When it reached the five minute mark people started to murmur to each other. At ten minutes they started shouting questions at the experts in the crowd. Who were obviously no longer experts as they had no idea what was going on either.

The sun was gone.

No it wasn't gone, they tried to reason with the crowd, see the shadow of the moon passes between the Earth and the sun giving the appearance of...and here they would trail off because the shadow was not moving. The sun was gone.

Next came the frantic checking of phones to see if everyone else was seeing, or not seeing, what they were.

The sun was totally gone in Oregon and Idaho. Mostly gone in Arizona. The East Coast was still fine. Still waiting for their chance. Still excited to see the sun disappear.

It started to get cold. Really cold. Amazingly cold. How in the world could that happen so quickly?
People packed in to their cars and tried to leave. To go find the sun. But of course so many had come that leaving wasn't easy.

They waited. Packed in to their cars, their cars packed onto the roads, the darkness and the cold packed all around them.

The sun was gone.

They had planned for this. They had been so excited. Traveled so far to watch. They had talked about it for a year. And now? Now that it was gone? All they could do was ask, What next?

What next?

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Happy Birthday Blog!

I'm linking last year's blog here. When I wrote that I was miserable. And I was so tired of being miserable. Just bone tired. And here we are a year later, so has it changed?

I woke up today on the last day of my 48th year knowing that my country is being led by a crazy man. And that there is a portion of my country that will defend him until he leaves. I spent the last week reading about and listening to people defending racists as peaceful protesters who were sweetly minding their own Blood and Soil business when those mean old anti-racism people somehow made one of them ram a car in to a crowd of people and kill someone. I've spent a week reading about and listening to (AGAIN) people talk about how having Confederate statues around isn't a big deal because how are we supposed to know anything about history if we don't have statues up honoring and revering the CONFEDERATES, who LOST, who were WRONG.

And, listen, I don't care about your arguments that it was a different time; we don't live in that time so we don't have to honor them. I don't want you to try and explain to me how it wasn't about slavery when I can just link you to the articles of secession from the states that started it and you will see in the first or second paragraph of each that it was about slavery. Or you can read the Cornerstone Speech. Or you can just accept that the Confederates lost and we agree that you don't get participation trophies right?

So anyway...the week (the past year for fuck's sake) leading up to birthday weekend has not been great politically or morally. I have to shake my head at people who want me to be nice to the crazy man in the White House just because he is in the White House. Mind you these same people were horrific to the last resident of the White House but that was....ummm...different? I have to shake my head and clench my jaw at the number of people who believe that there is any other response to a Nazi than hell no. I have to shake my head and roll my eyes at people who freak out about a woman wearing a hijab because it's so oppressive but are totally cool with an African American family having to walk past a statue of  Robert E. Lee every day.

The nagging injury I wrote about last year ended up being a gap in the labrum, not sure if it's a genetic issue that it never fused or a tear but I have a gap where the labrum does not attach to the bone to form the full ball and socket joint of the shoulder. The labrum itself had folded over and pinched in to the joint, making it unstable and causing the pain. Possibly able to be fixed by surgery, possibly made worse by surgery. But not going to go away on it's own.

So 48 wasn't any better than 47 right? It was a lot better. It just took some time.

I made a decision as I was writing last year's blog that things were going to change. I was going to fake it until I made it if I had to but things were going to change.

I started the next day with Selfie Saturday. Odd thing right? But I wanted to take time each and every week to mark the time. To smile for a camera and show it was going to be a good year dammit. Today will be the last Selfie Saturday picture and I have to say looking through them yesterday that for the most part I was successful. A few cranky shots, but they were about specific things happening right then. But great adventures and fun days and hockey games and just life going by. Selfie Saturday captured them all.

My shoulder? When I went in for the appointment before the last MRI the doctor was checking range of motion and POP the labrum unfolded from the joint and the pain went away. Oh my was a medical miracle! Seriously, he wasn't trying to do that. It just happened. He was like, "I would like to take credit for that and say it was my plan all along but it wasn't. It was a happy accident." Happy indeed! I still can't work out the way I was, but with some modifications my strength has returned and I have VBL again. (visible biceps line)

I put us on a lower sugar diet at the beginning of the year and my steadily climbing weight from last year finally started a slow decent again. I'm still that perpetual 10 pounds away from where I'd like to be but at least it's not still going up. The healthier diet is supposed to help in a number of ways but the only outward sign I've got is the scale so I will take it.

The creative wasteland? Well that stuck around for a few more months. I force choked out a few stories and then at the beginning of the year started an exchange with Dana (god bless Dana) that pulled me the rest of the way out. Writing keeps me sane. I really believe that. When the world around you sucks it's nice to be able to make up a new one to step in to for awhile.

And the month of gratitude that I normally do in November I stretched this year to every day in 2017. When the world is going crazy it's good to remind yourself of all of the really great things there are. To put your head right instead of focusing on the wrongs.

People who needed to go? Well some of them are still around and still taking potshots here and there and I still wonder why they keep me around when they clearly don't like me much. But I've chosen to be philosophical about it. As long as it isn't changing my opinion of myself (and it's not) they obviously need someone to look down on. And if it's me instead of someone who can't shoulder that burden then this is better.

Because that brings us to the end of this blog and the message. I was miserable last year on my birthday. I lined out all of the reasons I shouldn't be. All of the things that were good in my life. But it didn't matter. My depressive side was slowly but surely overtaking my manic side and I was having a bitch of a time stopping it. I've been lucky enough in my life that I've not needed medication to regulate, but I was at the point last year where that was my next step. And there is no shame in that. If you need help get it. If you can regulate your brain chemistry through diet and exercise that's fine, but if you need more that's fine too.

A friend of mine's husband who coincidentally enough shares my birthday lost his battle to depression last year. He had a lot of good things to live for as well. He just couldn't see them anymore. And he couldn't force himself past it one more time. He was also bone tired.

So this year as I reflect on the past year, past two years, I know how lucky I am to have been able to swing my pendulum back. And I ask you all to pay attention to where you are in life. How are you feeling? Is it darker than it should be? What can you do to fix that? Diet, exercise, active gratitude, force perspective change, medication, therapy? What ever it takes please do it. Be here next year to read my navel gazing essay. The world needs you.

Because you are incredible.
So smart.
So special.
Wonderful really.

Now have a piece of cake and raise your fork in my direction and send me a wish for a good year as you do.

Happy Birthday Weekend to us all!

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Anger and Ego...

Sometimes you need a perspective shift. Sometimes you need a clarifying moment. Sometimes you need to see yourself through a different lens. Yesterday I had one of those moments.

I joke about the Good Denise and Bad Denise responses to things all of the time. Good Denise is the one who always keeps her calm and speaks rationally and Bad Denise is a little more, shall we say, free with her opinions and does not suffer fools gladly. And people love Bad Denise. Right up until the point that they are the ones in her sites...

Yesterday I had a very public argument on my Facebook wall with someone who did not heed the warning signs. And I take the blame for a lot of the argument. I'm not wrong in my beliefs or my positions, but the argument never should have happened. Because I should have unfriended them a long time ago.

And this is where the ego part of the title comes in.

I've had debates with that person on numerous occasions. About political differences, about personal differences. And they have almost always left me frustrated. Because I would feel as though I was talking in circles. Yet I still kept talking. Brent would ask me why I did it. It made me frustrated. I wasn't getting anything out of it. Why do it? And I would say (ego) I think she needs friends. And I think having a friend who has a different opinion can make a difference.

See? I thought that my talking to her would change her beliefs. Beliefs she holds just as tightly as I hold mine. Ego.

I've talked about it here and on my feed numerous times. I wish there was a combination of words I could use that would change people's hearts and minds. That would make them understand that hateful things aren't directed at groups of indiscriminate objects, but groups of people. Real people. With real feelings. And real lives. And real pain.

I've talked about that I keep writing because I think that I'm doing some good by doing so. And I really believe that I am. Sometimes it's just to let someone know that someone else out there in the world feels the same thing. Sometimes it really does make a difference in what someone thinks. I've had a few people tell me that my words helped them change their mind about things. Not just my words, mind you, I'm not that good, but my words added to the things that helped them shift an opinion.

So sometimes I think that I need to keep talking to someone who I shouldn't. But I should have stopped along time ago. And my ego kept me from doing it. But my anger yesterday stopped my ego in its tracks.

See anger sometimes brings a real clarity to a situation. Not always, sometimes it clouds your judgement too much, but sometimes it really clears things up. When you are incredibly angry, incredibly fast then you know that there is a  lot going on. And when you hear other conversations going on at the same time as the one you are having you know you need to pay attention. When you realize that you have clear lines of demarcation that you've stated and they've been crossed over and over again and you've made excuses for it? Well...then the anger flashes back at yourself and you realize you fucked up. I let my ego get in the way of what I believe is right.

I want to be clear here. I have friends who believe different things than I do. I have friends who politically do not line up with me. I have friends who I have disagreements with on some issues that are moral things to each of us, but I understand where they are coming from and they have made the decision to keep me around as well. But my lines about race, about sexuality and gender identity are strong. And I will drop you if you cross those lines. And I should do it right away. I just need to get out of my own way to do it.

I feel that I have a responsibility to the world I am a part of to not sit silently when I see things that I feel are wrong. I feel that I have a greater responsibility than some others because I could sit silently without losing any of my space in this world. But I also have a responsibility to myself and to those that I love to not give space to things I find hateful and abhorrent. No matter how sweetly they are packaged. No matter how often I try to convince myself I can "fix" them. Someone who doesn't view themselves as broken cannot be fixed.

And it's just my own ego that thinks they aren't feeling the exact same way about me. As someone broken who does not want to be fixed. I get that I am viewed as just as wrong as I view them. But it doesn't matter. This is a fundamental difference, not a superficial one.

Good Denise is all for understanding and listening and being calm.
Bad Denise needs to step in sometimes and say fuck that shit, we are cleaning house.

Anger can be a good thing. Fire can purify. Clarity comes with the burning away of other thoughts. And ego can be one of those things burned away. That's a good thing.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Amazed but not surprised...

When people tell you who they are pay attention. I've said it over and over and over again. It is one of those life advice pieces that when you hear it it's like a bell rings and clarity comes over you and there is no going back. (Thank you, Maya Angelou, for ringing the bell)

Our president told everyone who he was over and over again. And people declined to believe him. Even people on the left who couldn't stand him assumed he wasn't as awful as he was "pretending" to be. Yes, yes he is that awful. He told you who he was. He showed you who he was. And yet there are people who assumed he was a decent human being under there. Somewhere.

Does this past weekend and today cement it for everyone that he isn't? That he is horrific. That he is a nightmare. That he is a disgrace to the country.

I wish it would.

It won't.

Not for everyone.

There are already people defending him. People who want to both sides everything that they can. But when Nazis are involved there are no both sides. There just aren't.

A woman died. That wasn't both sides. That was one side ramming in to her with a car and killing her. And wounding like 19 other people so it could have been an even higher body count.

If you have 16 minutes click through to the video of the press conference from today and watch it.

Watch him repeatedly talk about "the night before" and how great it was. The night before, in case the death on Saturday wiped it from you mind, was when Richard Spencer led a group through the University of Virginia with their torches held high chanting, "Jews will not replace us!" and "Blood and Soil!" This is our president's idea of a fine peaceful rally. Nazis in khakis.

The whole idea of white supremacy and Nazi brandishing flags is violent. That's before the car. What they want to do, they want a white country. All white. And no Jews. And no gays. And no women who aren't having babies. (Yes, this is also a thing. It as their reasoning that it wasn't a big deal that Heather Heyer was killed because she was a drag on society, being unmarried with no kids) The people you saw in the news clips that looked like riot police? They weren't. They were there with the Nazis. Full battle gear and multiple guns. It is a violent ideology and they were looking for a fight.

I'm going to leave this link here, if you have 20 minutes watch the piece Vice did on the event. This is who Trump says are some really fine people that were there.

This wasn't a political differences rally. This was a white supremacist rally. Because of the freedoms we all enjoy they get to have their rallies. But because of the freedoms we all enjoy we need to remember who they are and what they want and stop them from making headway. Even if our president doesn't agree.

And for fuck's sake listen to him this time. He is telling you who he is. He is telling you who he sides with. He is telling you what he wants. Pay attention.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Lost Poem...

I wanted to write a poem.

I chased the rhyme

I looked for the rhythm

I fought with the flow

I wanted to write a poem

I looked at the roses

I watched the clouds

I sang all the songs in my head

I wanted to write a poem

I wanted to write a poem

I wanted to write a poem

I gave up and wrote this instead