loving in the war years: day three

and it happens again and again and again.

how do you mourn when it just won’t stop?

when our ancestors created mourning rituals, did they account for genocide? or endless war? or mass murderers? or did they assume our world would always account for human dignity? and that just one person would die at a time? from natural causes? or at the worst, some accident?

some days, the only thing that feels right is nihilism. complete lack of meaning. what is the point of being born if you’re just going to be mowed down like ants at a picnic? hopelessness.

but then you see this. amid the threatening clouds and the sprinkles of rain promising a true storm. a rainbow.

deep breath.

it’s not that the hopelessness of nihilism goes away. or that suddenly everything is ok.

it’s that for a second you’re not alone. the universe shares the burden.


and now i share it with you.
may you be free from suffering. you be safe.

may you be free.

loving in the war years: day two

but did it?
did it really start with september 11?

it feels right to say it started then, it feels like what we all agree with. everything was moving along, and then september 11 happened. and then the world stopped and nothing was the same again.

but when i dig around under the grief, under the twisted memories and through the barricaded chest, i see other things. and i wonder, did it start there? or did it start some place else? some place less obvious?

like the time i lost my job? and went a year without work and couldn’t afford to clothe my children? or maybe it was the time my father told me i might have to quit school to work, the family was having a hard time staying afloat. my education would be the price paid for survival. or maybe it was the time i was sexually assaulted, and i found out that people were calling me a liar at work. i had no idea at that time that anybody even knew.

or maybe it was my first christmas after being kicked out by my parents, when i realized really and truly for the first time what it meant to be alone. or the first time i was called a slut while taking a walk, or the first time i couldn’t afford food or the first time i was assaulted at job that i couldn’t afford to quit. or maybe it’s the bigger picture. and it’s the first time a border was constructed or the first time a bullet penetrated that border or maybe it was when hitler was born or that time that some man whose name nobody knows shot some important person that nobody heard of and started the war to end all wars that hasnt ended yet.

or maybe it started with capitalism or mercantilism or the first time a priest called an indigenous person a savage. or maybe it started with the catholic church. or jesus. or the person who figured out how to mold steel into shackles that fit around even the slender arms of a small child not just her mother. or maybe it was the first time a man hit a woman.

does anybody know when this all started? when did that first domino get blasted away, starting the chain of explosions that have never stopped, like it was all meant to be? like there was just no other way for this story to be told?

does it really matter? if we figure out when all this started, will we be able to figure out how to end it? or is the desperate need to put a date on it all, to find a time when it wasn’t like this, more of a way to control the chaos? to make sense of the utterly incomprehensible?

how many religions, writers, artists, have tried to make sense of the incomprehensible? is there a reason we live through this? or are we all fodder for the war machine?

does it mean anything to be human?

i cling to the cold loneliness settled at the bottom of my stomach.
to feel, even something awful,
is to be alive.

i am alive
i am alive
i am alive…

loving in the war years: day one

it starts with september 11.

up early that day, gritty eyes torn open by rambunctious toddler jumping and laughing on my bed. the child that never sleeps, joyful with life.

flipping on howard stern, i groan and creak my way out of bed. pregnant again, my body, heavy with life, is not so joyful as the toddler, who is already prattling in the cupboards of the kitchen, her job with me, finished.

as i brush my teeth, the rumbly voice of howard mentions that a plane crashed into the world trade center. but planes have crashed into the trade center before. nobody is worried. i spit the toothpaste into the sink.

i am in the kitchen cooking breakfast when the phone rings. i almost dont hear it because the toddler is banging pans against the floor and screaming with laughter. her lips are red and her curls bob. i make it to the phone on the third ring.

and that’s when it starts.

turn on the TV, says the frantic voice on the other line.
why? I ask.
just do it! screams the voice.
i remember to turn off the stove before i cross the small kitchen into the living room and turn on the TV.

the screen burns with fire, deep billowing smoke furls into the perfect blue day.

howard stern’s voice is suddenly crystal clear from the back room. they are debating if they should shut the show down. there more planes and we’re under attack and nobody knows what’s going on and my baby’s screaming and i can’t hear anything else.

and then the first building collapses and then the next and i feel my feet fall out from underneath me and my hands go to my belly and life and death and life and death and life and death swirl and mix and then there is nothing and everything and black dust blankets the earth that somehow keeps right on spinning even tho the world has stopped.

remember that you are dust…

it all starts here.

loving in the war years: tuesday


i find myself
in a field.

i pray
for all of us that are scared
for all of us that are lonely
for all of us that don’t know what to do
that can’t get up, not even one more time

for all of us
that are hurting right now.
for all of those poor mothers
and those poor children, motherless.
for all of the fathers
for all those who are struggling

i am with you. to help you bear this burden.

i open my eyes
i find myself

in a field of corn. sacred maiz
our mother.
all of us that are lonely. blood drips into corn,
into life.

pray for us now, holy mother, in the hour of our death…

this ache has not gone away.

a family of deer peeks out
through dusk.
they feast on corn, our mother’s

it is the full buck moon tonight. announcing
the season of the deer’s growth.

i dont know what to do about any of this. the ache tears at my throat, my heart, and most days i feel like i can’t get up, not even one more time. 40 years of this is enough.
and i am a lucky one.
so far. one kid texts me she loves me. the other asks me what’s for dinner.

i am terrified for them. the only thing that calms me
are the whispers of the corn, our sacred mother-
to suffer is to be alive.
share this burden.

the family of deer turn as one
fly into the woods that wrap around the field.
i watch them until they disappear, then turn back to the field

to find the moon, full
on the green stalks
dancing with with fireflies, like twinkly lights.

blood has given birth
to life. our ancestors
we are here.

we will bear this burden
with you.

holy mother, pray for us now and in the hour of our deaths-


The Celebrating Love Thread

Getting to know myself better has brought about a lot of self-revelations.  One of them being that I actually am quite a romantic. I haven’t celebrated Valentines day pretty much ever, though. Mostly because I don’t agree with this whole commercialization of love thing. But I admit to going through a ‘I don’t celebrate Valentines because there’s no one to love’ stage, too. I’m from the early 90s, folks. We found a lot to be really angsty about.

I’m ready to embrace this ‘romantic’ in me. But I am going to do it on my own terms.

Right now, I’ve decided that my terms include 1. a desire to fracture ‘love’ from commercialization as much as I can, 2. to focus on self-love rather than ‘someone to love’ and 3. recognize that ‘self-love’ means learning how to practice self love even during low energy moments of chronic illness.

I put together the following Celebrate Love on My Own Terms list (or: things that I can do to enjoy life and focus on self even when I don’t really feel good) and thought I’d share it.

  • Listen to a podcast. My very favorite is This American Life and a lot of people seem to like the related podcast, Serial. I don’t care for Serial, as the subject content pisses me off. But This American Life has a wide range of stories to listen to, from stories about Christmas to dolls. I also enjoy listening to podcasts about herbalismherbalism, herbalism, and more herbalism.
  • Listen to a book on CD. This doesn’t have to be expensive, you can check out books on CD from your local library! I have every Harry Potter book on my computer, and especially on holidays, we like to sit around as a family and listen to these old favorites.
  • Find out how to do something you’ve always wanted to do on youtube. I taught myself how to cook with a cast iron pot by watching youtube videos. There were some that were pretty good and some that were super corny, but because I am interested in the subject, I found them all entertaining. And once I felt more like moving, I tried some of the recipes–and they were delicious!
  • Take a shower. But not just any old shower. An ‘attention’ shower. I got this idea from this book. When you get into the shower, direct your water at one particular area of your body. When the water hits that area, say ‘hello (area of body)!’ and spend a few moments with your entire attention focused on that area of the body and what it feels like with water flowing on it. Then you move on to the next area of your body, on and on until you’re done. In many ways, better than a massage!
  • Breath deeply. And remind yourself as you breath in and out that you are breathing the same air the dinosaurs did. Imagine yourself breathing in the essence of your favorite dinosaur. Tall, stately, elegant. Fierce, unafraid. Graceful. Harness the power of their breath.
  • Put on freshly washed lounging clothes. There’s nothing better than putting on a nice freshly washed outfit. If you can manage it, slip into the outfit straight after it comes out of the dryer. Or, conversely, if your clothes are too tight, too scratchy, etc nothing feels better than slipping into a well worn comfortable outfit that was worn just enough to feel like ‘you’ but not enough to be ‘dirty.’ Indulge in what you prefer.
  • Toast up some bread and put some peanut butter on it. If you have had time to think ahead, get some artisanal bread, if you didn’t, don’t worry. Regular old toasted bread with some peanut butter gives lots of protein, and tastes great too!
  • Drink water. But not just any old water (unless you like it that way!). Get some fruits you like (They can be fresh or frozen. Benefits of fresh, they will taste fresher, of course. Benefits of frozen, you can just rip open a bag and dump), a big container, put the fruit in the container and then fill the container with water. Put it in refrigerator if you like it cold, if not, letting it sit on a counter is just fine. After a day of sitting, you have perfectly wonderful fruity water that keeps you hydrated, is super easy to make and is a special treat.
  • Cuddle with your animals. Cat’s work especially well here, they love to lay near warm beings and with just a gentle touch from a human, they often turn into major purr bots. And purr bots are a gift from the Gods.
  • Watch happy videos. Like this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this. Or this.
  • Read this book. No really. Read it. It’s ‘written for couples.’ And it’s written by a guy who I am pretty certain is probably pompous dick and has never had a social justice-y thought in his head. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a life-changing book. It’s been the single most influential book for me in recovering from childhood trauma. It’s not necessary for a partner to read it with you to get benefits from it and it’s not necessary for you to have a partner. Give yourself the gift of tools to negotiate life.
  • While your at it, read this book too. It introduces the concept of ‘shame’ in a way that isn’t talked about often and really details exactly how pervasive ‘shaming’ is in US culture. Give yourself the gift of tools to negotiate the destructive force of shame.
  • Listen to your favorite soundtracks. Ask yourself which love song you wish was written about you. Play that song. This is my song. Well, one of them. 😛
  • Put pretty nail polish on (or have someone do it for you!). Then admire your handy work anytime you need a picker upper.
  • Take a long nap. And then when you wake up, listen to music or one of your book on CDs so that you don’t feel guilty.
  • Meditate. But don’t just meditate. Meditate to Dr. Alexis Pauline Gumbs.
  • Read this great blog post about sex. Do some of the ideas in there on your own.
  • Do absolutely not one single thing. Remember that this is your body and your time and your life and no matter what, you are not obligated to ‘self love’ or ‘self care’ or ‘celebrate’ or do anything you don’t want to do or don’t feel like doing.

What ideas do you have? What have you done yourself? Leave your thoughts in comments!