Pieces of Peace?

I’ve been pre-reading this week. I often read books that I am considering as gifts for others. I saw what looked like some common sense fun for young pagan women this week.  It is called Basic Witches  by Jaya Saxena and Jess Zimmerman.  It has an approach I immediately recognize from Granny Weatherwax in Terry Pratchett’s Diskworld series: “Magic is mostly ‘headology’!”  I am enjoying this light-hearted self-help book.

For a humanist pagan who thinks any possible deities or spirits have better things to do than await my beckoning and calling, it is better to work from the premise that you get off your butt and clean up your own messes.  Doing it with ritualized spellwork simply gives a nicer tangibility to some of those efforts.

Like the “Let Go of a Friendship” spell, for instance – utilizing chess pieces for yourself and the one you need to “let go” of — possibly to the Disney song, if one likes, I suppose?  You put them on a surface, close together and chant, “It’s time to say goodbye, we will both/all move forward.  Thank you for what you’ve given me.” Or words of your own choosing.  You do this for a week, moving the unfriended ones further away day by day.

Myself?  I am the dark knight. (Yeah, go on, call me Batty?)  The Fundy/GOP German is the bishop, the extremely fortress-entranced privileged one is the rook, the other two who tag along on Team Bigot whenever it winds up are the pawns.  It hurts to leave friends, even friends with whom you disagree on some pretty major things.  Face it, making friends in the flesh is hard.  Americans bond in three places: work, family, or church.  I have little enough family.  I don’t go to church.  We all worked in the same intensely close place.  It seemed a reasonable fit for a long time.

So walking away because they routinely make bigoted habitual comments that make me scream inside – and sometimes outside myself, too?  Very difficult.  So putting this one to the test.  I didn’t go to lunch on Thursday.  But I am sleepless and weepy.  It is hard to let go of the good with the bad – with the unbearable.  But I am doing it.  Pieces of peace for me — step one.

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Here in the Quiet Ignored Zone…

…I can admit that I don’t know how to be a friend.

I know how to be a boss. Supervisor. The sergeant.  A hermit.  A teacher.

I know how to be a mother. I know how to be a wife. Though that last one sometimes feels a bit sketchy all on its own.

But I don’t think I know how to be a friend. I’m more of a problem solver, so when a friend complains to me – I think it’s a problem to be solved, and not merely something to be listened to sympathetically.  This doubtlessly leads to my friends feeling they’re being managed. That’s not really my intention.  But I do tend to attack problems as if they are military objectives. 

This last month has been a bad month for friendship for me. I was a bit past the “20 year tolerance” point, as I call it, with a mostly online acquaintance.  And it ended after a suggestion that I view a new family member as a financial asset, coupled with another (for me) ethical outrage.  Some friendships I’ve had in my life were problematical from the get-go. There were aspects that kept me chronically uncomfortable, and I tried to manage my discomfort for the sake of the friendship. Sometimes, that failed spectacularly:  as when an old Army friend finally assumed she could simply move in on my children and my marriage and take over my life by alienating my entire family from me.  My “counterattack”  – once I recognized her strategy, was swift, brutal, and decisive.

Sometimes, the somewhat difficult and compromised friendships simply fade away into failure to write, and not going to parties anymore. Sometimes it all culminates in me simply silently walking away after one or two final attempts to normalize the situation. It is always incredibly stressful, terribly painful and utterly miserable.

This week?  I find myself at the limits of not one, but three or four friendships simultaneously.  I want to explain to these women, whom I meet for lunch once a week, why I can’t do it anymore. I keep practicing saying the words: “It hurts me to hear you denigrate people as classes, people with whom I am friends. “  Asians, Black people, Mexicans, suicide risks. 

But I can’t get past a sort of fury in my rehearsal.  Suddenly I “get” why a black friend works SO hard to NOT be the “angry black man.”  Because even as a white woman, with all the privilege that confers, to be angry and to lose control is to be dismissed as “crazy. “

So I likely will NOT go to lunch – I will walk away.  The one true friend in the group knows my reasons.  My week since Thursday has been sleepless misery. Lunch feels like a minefield best avoided.

Love AND friendship are battlefields.  Who knew?

Loneliness…

…is the end result of alienation.  It is a long slow slide from friendship, until one side inevitably feels criticized and the other feels muzzled like a barking dog.  

The joys of sharing happy news is missed the most.    When health news updates remind me of the one I walked away from, a nagging sense of worry endures persistently.  Sensations of hurt and confusion feel like echoes bouncing round an empty stadium.

Mourning for the living is often more painful than for the dead.

Entitled and Privileged America

The little line beneath the blog title? Where it says “be careful what you worship”?

I’ve been thinking a lot about that in the last couple weeks as climate related disaster has stalked my country.   Houston, TX, with a Democrat as mayor, is still getting a limping response from the GOP led federal government.  GOP dominated Florida got the freaking Navy sent to its aid.  And little zero-electoral-votes Puerto Rico?  Devastated Puerto Rico?  Almost nothing until screaming from “lib-tards” like me reached a crescendo.  And The President blames Puerto Ricans for being “lazy” while he fucking plays golf on a vacation.

Can anyone really imagine President Obama being and/or staying on a golf vacation while millions of American citizens were flooded out of homes by THREE major hurricanes in less than one month? Yes, Trump went golfing while America flooded and blew away in hurricane force winds.

I’m sure someone out there will say “Well, a President has a schedule and I’m sure his much-deserved break-time at golf was already scheduled.”  Right.  What will he golf through next?  A nuclear missile strike from North Korea?  He sure has time to watch late night television and bitch about humor at his expense.  He has time to tweet destructively about the actions of his own Secretary of State, for pity’s sake.

What do YOU believe in?  Do you believe that something desired and “planned” takes precedence over disaster, emergency, and need?  I was shocked recently when a friend told me of a grown child, one living in a luckily untouched spot in Florida, who was now “going to Disneyworld” — driving through the devastation, one imagines, to spend hundreds of dollars at a theme park.  My friend was insulted and hurt and angry when I criticized this — saying it was “long planned.”

Well, it must be nice.  I’m sure every hurricane impacted citizen “planned” to have food, water, power, non-molding homes and furniture at some point or other.  And our President planned to go golfing.  This person planned to go to Disneyworld.  Because plans for personal pleasure in America now trumps the needs of devastated persons.

Some good while back?  I stopped talking to people who I knew voted for Trump.  I simply could not have a discussion, civil or otherwise any more.  I believe NEED should trump mere wants.  After all, I had plans for money this month, too.  I’m not talking “discretionary funds” either.  I’m talking about money to pay bills.  But I didn’t pay some bills.  I didn’t go to Disneyland.  I didn’t go golfing.  I sent money for Puerto Rico instead.  Just as I’d sent money for the slightly earlier hurricane victims before.

So yes, I am being a “judgmental bitch” and I’m quite happy to do so: if you spent money on “fun” while other American citizens sat in shelters or the wreck of their homes without drinkable water or food and medicines for themselves and their children?  You are NOT a good person, not a good parent, and not a good American.  You are a selfish, entitled, privileged person who I will no longer be willing to talk to at all.  Also? By these types of actions, you are teaching your children to be horrid entitled, privileged “I’ve got mine, fuck you” people as well. I simply cannot deal with this as a valid attitude; it is too painful to contemplate — someone acting that way and considering themselves “good people”.

Oh, but I forget — all the people Trump calls “good”?  Well, judging from indictments and the flags some of them carry?  You ethics-free sorts are in good company — with traitors, criminals, Nazis, and white supremacists.  Are you those things?  Possibly not; but that sense of your pleasure meaning more than desperate needs of your fellow citizens?  Let’s just say to mean people like me?  That’s kissing cousin territory.

So, planned pleasures are more worthy than sending aid to desperate people.  Wow, America.  Way to go.  Right down the fucking drain.  What do you “worship”?  Your own comforts, or a better way for those in need?

Into the Dark of the Year

Yesterday, driving east as the sun set behind us in the west, the new autumnal angle put that dazzling sun right in our eyes by bouncing off the car’s side mirrors.  Overhead, as the sky darkened, the waxing moon shone more brightly as the early crescent sank towards the western horizon, pursuing the setting sun.  Summer seemed so agonizingly slow – simmering us in a vat of falling ash and orange moons.  But autumn is speeding.

Our days will grow very short soon.  I’ve already put up fall/Samhain/Halloween decorations because I want to hasten the day, so to speak.  The dry heat of summer withered my water starved yard as our well is dying, I long for autumnal rains and cloudy cool days as does a thirsty castaway on a desert island.

The darker seasons here bring more time reading, more time in introspection and self-examination.  More time pondering the peculiar directions of life, family, friendship — wheels that turn within utterly inexplicable wheels in my world.  Even aside from the crazed, maddened Troll-ruled public American life, this year’s changes feel like a rollercoaster on some special sort of euphoric steroids.

I light candles at dusk, and yes, turn on bright electrical lights in fall’s tones.  I eat chocolate bottomed candy corn and contemplate pumpkins.  I still don’t know if my stuttering failing heat source will work this year, or whether we will be dependent upon little electric radiators and the occasional fireplace blaze.  But just for today – a day dedicated to laundry and cookie baking?  I don’t even care: the dark, cool dimness is looking like  a welcome to me.

Sometimes A Not Great Feeling

Do you remember all the mournful media and blog postings after November 8th? I do.  For weeks there were articles about depression, drinking, eating ice cream, sleeping too much.  I could relate.  But even then I knew, that stage was not IT.  That was the shocked part, not the real down-into-the-valley-of-death-of-hope part.

That part?  For me, that part is now.  It is where I wake every morning at 0530.  I lay on my pile of feather pillows under a feather duvet in my unheated bedroom and tell myself I feel good, warm, and safe.  But the truth is, I feel none of those things.  Instead, I feel a deep depression and literal sorrow to find myself waking at all.  I wake to a world where it seems every single interaction is fraught with extra difficulty.  I HATE getting out of bed.  But I do, every day.

The Wrecking Ball Administration is running the nation into the mud.  People wearing red hats seem to be gleeful over causing misery in people more vulnerable than themselves.  They don’t seem to be noticing that their own lives are being diminished and harmed by the same things done to others first.  LBJ was right – for some folks, as long as they have someone else to kick, they will let anyone else screw them over as well.

So, I call or write legislators.  I blog.  I sign petitions.  I phone bank at times.  I do other resisting things, some secret and protective.  I worry.  I call friends to check in on them.  And yes, I argue occasionally with someone who says something like “Obamanation Care” in my hearing.  It pisses me off, the necessity to try talking some asshat down off their high crazy horse of hatred and knee jerk stupid.  Talk about abominations!  And it frankly has never worked on any of my attempts.  They get mouthy.  They get louder.  At best, they end by looking confused at my refusal to agree with them.  At worst, they call me names and stomp off to see if they can find and vandalize my car.

I worry over more war, when our military has more than it can chew right now.  I worry about nuclear war and again have nightmares I had as a Cold War Era child, soldier, and mother.  I worry about people dying and losing homes over health care debacles; something that doesn’t happen in ANY other first world nation.  I worry over stupid-assed religious shit instead of science; and no, not just for climate change.  The idea that addictions, even, are best managed by calling yourself a wretch and throwing yourself down before a higher power? Fuck THAT! As a nation, we seem to be losing our collective minds.  Crazy people in large numbers, responding to idiotic ideas and raving?  Scare me – there it is, I am frightened and being frightened makes me angry.

You wouldn’t like me angry, trust me on this.  I respond poorly to being frightened.  I broke a guy’s nose once, and another guy’s instep.  (Yes, I can SING, since you asked – did it long before Sandra Bullock popularized and named it.)  Being a progressive doesn’t mean being defenseless.  Nor does it mean I will be peaceful.  If a NAZI gets in my face and is making me feel threatened, I don’t care if it is “strategic” or not; I’m going to punch said threatening NAZI because I have a right to self-defense.

Since I mentioned it?  Yes it worries me that the media seems to focus on the left and any potential for violence there with much more condemnation than they do when the Rabid Right acts like fucking fascists.  Why is that?  Surely you do not believe every Democrat, Socialist, Communist, Independent should act like Mahatma Gandhi and just lie down to be beaten, do you?  After all, you sure didn’t think the occasional “first strike” antifa types deserved to just beat down those poor white supremacist asshats at Charlottesville, did you?  That is a really interesting sort of double standard you media sorts have there.  So why does being “of the left” mean you cannot defend yourself?

Let me say, openly, down here in the valley of “now”?  Where hope is dying as I see more and more of what Trump does treated as normal, as I watch GOP Congressional sorts act as if stripping citizens of any chance at what used to be the American dream, and undoing the idea of a nation of immigrants being a GOOD idea? It makes me feel like there isn’t too much more to lose, if those bastards have their way.  And you know what they say about people with nothing left to lose, right?  They become radicalized easily.

Frankly, it is how America has helped create terrorists around the globe for decades.  It is how the media let Trump voters off the fucking hook — claiming those poor white guys had nothing left to lose once us feminizes and gays and pagans and commies and dreaded minorities “took over”.  Never fucking mind that technology and rich corporate fucks had more to do with those poor white guys losing out than ANY of us horrid scary non-white, non-male, non-Christian people!

So keep making the MAJORITY of Americans feel that the things that define being American are being destroyed. Keep making veterans that fought to protect the rights enshrined in the Bill of Rights only count for some people instead of everyone.  Keep making ordinary protest difficult or illegal.  Keep telling people they don’t even have to right to ask questions or hold public officials accountable.  Keep saying the American taxpayers have no right to know where that other 1%, the military members, are being sent to bleed for unscrupulous purposes.  Keep telling parents that it is a privilege, not a right, to be able to afford keeping sick children ALIVE.   Keep treating people of color as if they are not people at all.  Keep locking people up in for-profit prisons to benefit the few.  Keep barring immigrants – the people who frankly, built this fucking nation.

What do YOU non-gentlemen, non-scholars of the Right have to lose when one day, the 99% REALLY wakes up to what a few rich, selfish, old white bastards are doing at the behest of the REAL “red-headed step-child” of America?  Specially since  your only gospel was that “everybody must get stoned guns.”  Oh, did I forget to mention?  Guns are not only for the right-wingers, so if you think THAT will keep your racist, hateful selves safe?  Oh, honey…..

 

Gratitude Finale

Yesterday I was grateful for three friends sitting over soup and bread and talking about all the things that made us despair in our world.

Today? I am grateful that although I greet every day with regret over waking to find myself still alive in Donald Trumps cruel-edged version of America, I can still find at least one meaningful way to resist daily.

A New Tuesday Tarot?

Ages back, I was doing tarot posts about my newest deck – a very appealingly non-Christian imaged deck based on Minoan art from a pre-Christian society.  I am still enjoying this deck, tho’ I do have and will have issues with some of the designer’s ideas about what her deck means and roles she assigns to face cards.  Minor quibbles; I bought it for the aesthetic appeal and will do my own interpretation!  So, no, I likely will not renew those rather boring posts.

But there is a new game in town that I might give a try!  Someone has been having some fun with aesthetics by mixing media, so to speak.  What about mixing the ideas of the meaning in the Major Arcana with ideals in books?  

The list to “read” the Major Arcana sounds somewhat interesting.  I might give it a try and post when I finish each book.  I have to say, just reading the list suggested several books I’ve already gone through that strike me as applicable as well.  And some of the pairings strike me as possibly trite — a book on being a witch for the High Priestess?  How adorably Wiccan of them?  For “Strength” — I think I’d prefer The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.  So if I don’t get too bored, I may read the suggested book to discuss in light of the tarot symbolism AND add a book selection of my own.

But some of the list does appeal — I like the overwhelmingly feminine voices and the idea of minority voices speaking through these pages as well.  So — off to library ordering I must go!

Gratitude 18, 19 September

Yesterday, I was grateful for a mighty cloudburst pounding on the car, making windshield impossible to see through at all. We pulled off the road and listened to the water roar.

Today? I was greatly grateful for a pile of pillows to bury myself in at the dawn — I had been awake since about 0200 and by 0700 was desperate for a couple hours sleep before beginning my day.  Also?  Grateful for coffee.