It's me
We must know the things that are good so we have the strength to confront the things that are bad. Today the sun is shining; Tim has the hood up on the black truck, peering into its innards the way a diviner does an undone sheep - the future, if it is there to be found, is missing intermittently. Which is rather how these things go.

Last night I slept solidly; I dreamed of trees being cut down, hay wagons close behind. Up and down the road today, loggers and the Amish go. It is the season for mowing. Work while the sun is shining. The rain will catch you if you're not aware.

Nadia had caught a moth and tried to set it free outdoors. The moth is not down with this plan; it has fluttered back in, in search, perhaps, of novels. All the cabbages have been cooked, consumed, remarked upon. Those, he will not find.

I'm angry, best beloveds, about so very many things. And I suspect you are as well. And that is good. We should be angry. Contentment is the enemy right now: how dare we stand confidently while the feet are being knocked from beneath people just like us? Anger needs direction to be useful; anger needs thought and good sense. But anger must be, or nothing ever happens.

Onward, upward, forward now. We can not sit. There's things to do and it's us to do it.

Free Association Friday

It's me
It's the fucking Candy Crush invites that do it, I think. Logging onto social media this morning where I've been spending all the time watching pictures of Ferguson, where I've been reading about reporters, in America, being arrested and gassed, to find X wants you to play Candy Crush, Y wants you to play Candy Crush, Z wants you to play Candy Crush.

Crowds of little kids, teenagers, young adults are out there, hands up, don't shoot. Military gear deployed on the streets (so it isn't wasted; heaven forfend we not use war machinery!) against civilians. A black man is killed every 28 hours by police or vigilantes in America. On PBS we have experts saying police kill civilians all of the time; CBS says this morning, it was 400 last year; well over 1/3rd were black.

Play Candy Crush with me! Play Candy Crush with me!

There are a million bullshit reasons not to pay attention. There are a million bullshit reasons not to take action. I can't, I say, because I have children. It might not be safe. They have children in Ferguson. It sure the hell isn't safe there.

How can this get better? What can I do to change things? I've argued with those who say Missouri is so far away & that this isn't our problem; Missouri's not so far that what happens there can't be repeated. It makes me angry that so many people don't even know what's going on; that these stories can go unheard.

Expectations, Excerbated.

It's me
If I knew my best work was behind me and I could not see the light of the next gig, I would do the same thing in a second. Which is not a popular sentiment, but it's a true one from where I'm standing. You think the work only bears you up? Oh no. The work tears you down. You pay for every bit of it in the end. This is an inherently fatal gig. Too bad it's the only way to live.

ETA: Obligatory sparkle pony post to be delivered tomorrow; I'm sure of it.

Thursday Morning

It's me

You're welcome.

Wednesday Morning

It's me
Yesterday's paranoid fantasies are today's headlines; MIT researchers, it seems, can spy on your conversation with a potato chip bag. The question is, of course, why they would want to. Most of the conversations I have with potato chip bags are trivial matters - nothing of real import; we've mused about how wondrous it would be to while away the afternoon in Spinoza's company and kvetched about eyeglass prices - the type of thing that is scarcely of interest to either of us, much less a hidden listener.

It's funny how the boundaries of sanity change so. Once upon a time, fears that the toaster and light fixtures and television were watching you as you went about your day would get you a bumper crop of worried glances and a quiet rest in a lovely place, for just a little while, dear. Today, the internet of things is greeted as a fait accompli, and if you are gauche enough to wonder aloud why exactly one needs a smart toaster, 'tis you who are out of step; the appeals of such marvels should be self-evident. There's an umbrella with twinkling lights in the handle, meant to let you know it's going to rain. Heaven forfend we glance toward the clouds.

This works the other way, too. Imagine an old, dirty man wandering out of the woods; eyes bright with the power of what he had seen there. His words are well-shaped, fast and fantastical - as he speaks of visions, you smell the air for Thunderbird's flight and the memory of herbs; that is, of course, how you get there from here, day by day, hour by hour, or so the story goes. Or perhaps something terrible happened - an accident, Viet Nam, Wall Street - and snap goes the brain like dollar store chopsticks. Once upon a time, these sad bastards were prophets. Today, they're pathologies. How the mighty have fallen, indeed.

Onward, upward, forward, my darlings. These goalposts won't move themselves.

Monday Morning

It's me
I want a cigarette. I want a cigarette not necessarily for the smoking, but for the having; there's a moment after the lighter's flared and you've drawn in that first breath where you lungs shudder and then relax, where all the tension melts for just a second, and you know that whatever is coming, you can cope with it.

I want a bottle of whiskey. I want it to stand here with me as I work today; proud and full as the sun comes up, less so as the day goes on. I want the ability to not think about the editorial direction I've gotten on an article I ghosted; it was actually one of the better things I've done in a while, pointing to the really-shitty not-so-secret underside of a ginormous small-business-killing enterprise; apparently the financial organization that sponsors the publication has a vested interest in no one noticing that shitty underside, and as such, we will write only about the positives. Of course they do. Of course I will, if that's what the client wants.

But Christ on a cracker, as the saying goes. Christ on a cracker, indeed.

There was a map on Morning Joe this morning showing how in the 1990's, the main economic driver of most of the states was manufacturing. Flash forward 14 years, it's all healthcare. Unpacking that is strange; day in, day out, amidst the work I do are the projects of several companies that service the health care industry; think equipment, coaching & training, those nifty little stickers that let you know that if you happen to lick this countertop you will die a hideous, painful death slowly while all your colleagues laugh at you for being dumb...and all of these businesses and all of these business' competition is struggling. If health care is the main industry, nobody in it is making any money. Certainly not health care systems, with the possible exception of CCTA; private practices are so close to being an endangered species that our grandchildren will never know there was such a thing as a doctor who worked for themselves - the insurance companies claim poverty, too, but them I am disinclined to believe. Drug companies are making money, but they closed the manufacturing plants they have locally - I think they kept the farm where they tested things on monkeys, because that's different, that's research, it's important, but the people, we want them to have to buy all the pills but we couldn't possibly make sure they have jobs so they could afford them.

Most of the weekend I spend outdoors, and that was good. We went to the fair; I saw weird chickens and was content. The girls rode tons of rides. It's a small fair - the entire grounds aren't as big as the Wal-Mart parking lot near you - so you get the impression of masses of people very, very quickly. This is the same fair Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about Almanzo competing in in Farmer Boy; we looked at the exhibits and saw conical shaped cabbages and proud little clusters of beets; the spinach and greens looked pretty wilted and worn by the time we'd gone by, but they'd won a blue ribbon just the same.  On Sunday, we fished. Nadia pulled bass out of that lake the way you get tissues from the tissue box: one after another after another. She was in her glory; the little boy watching as his family prepared to launch their boat was wide-eyed.

Well, I don't have a cigarette. And I don't have whiskey. I have coffee, and I am practicing saying "That is not my problem" about a whole mess of things that are not my problem. I am going to work a whole bunch, and the van is going to the mechanic to get problems fixed, and what needs to be done will be done, and what isn't will be there tomorrow.

Half the joy of cigarettes I think comes with the putting them out, crunching them against the smooth glass of the ashtray, killing the light, drawing a line; enough, it is done, we have work to do and now is the time to do it.

Onward, upward, forward, y'all. Today's the sort of day where it's best if you don't really think about it much. Onward, upward, forward, indeed.

Wednesday Morning

It's me
I have been brave; I have submitted a poem this morning. It's a very defiant poem, a very angry poem - I've only started reading the words of EliseM, who admonished us all recently to feel everything, to use everything, and this came from that. Way too long I have shied away from writing the raw bits, the painful bits, the parts of my head that will make people think I'm crazy; people do think I'm crazy, so there's no point in closing the barn door long after the horse went running.

The other day I saw bell hooks on tv. She was talking about a culture of dominance, where the importance of maintaining the status quo overshadowed everything else, including addressing very real problems. In keeping with what I'm thinking lately, I wonder if I am attempting to dominate my anger out of existence; if I do not let myself feel it, if I do not respond to things that anger me, if I keep my anger closely contained to only those things people around me are comfortable hearing me be angry about, if I push it away and away and away, all of my attention and energy is pretty much focused on maintaining the status quo.

Perhaps it is not my job to maintain the status quo. Perhaps fighting fervently for this status quo is actually actively harming me; a realization that means (you guessed it!) even more anger. The bit of this that's poking me the hardest is the drive to do meaningful work; in the comments, there's been discussion of how does one define meaning/purpose, and even if I can't explain it right now, believe me, I know what it is when I see it, and I know I'm not doing it.

Correction. I know I haven't been doing it. But things are starting to change. I wrote the mad scientist story for Steve; it wasn't what he was looking for, but it was a good, solid story that touched on things I normally don't even let myself think about AND when I learned it wouldn't work for Steve, I remembered that I am a professional writer and sent it somewhere else. I wrote (and had accepted! WOOT!) a story for Torquere's upcoming anthology, "Please Don't Feed the Alligators". I wrote a crime story that I'd like the Big Click's editors to look at, but I think I messed up their querying system and need to figure that out. I wrote this poem. All of this this summer, where I'm also working 10-12 billable hour days.

Clarified in a conversation with Harmony yesterday that it's not exactly fair for me to call the years I've spent working to support my family time wasted, that is an accomplishment in and of itself, and I should not hate myself for not doing more. What has been, has been; we will see what is going forward. Progress is being made. I am feeling a very particular flavor of ferocious. It's a sensation I've missed in me. It is very good to see it coming back. Perhaps I am coming out of the clouds into the fire, but so be it. Sometimes that's the way the world works.

Onward, upward, forward, y'all. Onward, upward, forward in deed.

Tuesday Morning, Thus Far

It's me
Goldsquare hit the nail right on the head when he talked about the paralysis of anger. I am a very angry woman; one of the things I'm currently angry about is I don't have the freedom to do the work I want to do in the way I feel it needs to be done. There's nothing to be done about this at the moment: when you have relatively small children, you can't just up and walk away and go wherever Story takes you. You can't get lost in the narrative and be gone, gone, gone until the tale is told. You can't put creature comforts on the back burner and lie to yourself that what is is enough, because there's a job to do. Other people do it, but those people don't mother the way I mother. In my world, your passion can't fuck up your progeny.

But not having your passion will fuck up your progeny too. I won't say I'm bitter, but if you slice my veins, angostura comes out. You can no more hide this from your kids than you can hide the fact the house you're trying to keep clean and tidy a la June Cleaver is actually burning down.

Competence - and I am dizzily good at what I do, considering I have neither training nor support in my endeavors (oops, bitter!) - is a piss poor substitute for doing what you're meant to. This is a realization some decades in the making; competence has its own thrill, but after you've climbed the mountain - well, there's only so long one gets off at looking at the clouds.

The paralysis is real; hours are taken by what has to be done so there's no time left for what has to be done. And yes, I am very angry that there's no viable expectation that I'll have any meaningful support through this endeavor; in fact, you'll be told how I have my dream job and also? no stress.

How do you fight paralysis? Well, you can find Jesus and have him tell you "Get up and walk!" and then you're golden; however, looking at the world, I think his attentions are much more needed elsewhere. So instead, you start moving again. A fingertip; the finger entire. Perhaps by the end of the year, a hand. All of this is necessary so when the kids are finally grown - we're 7 years and change out from freedom now, and counting, I won't be starting from a dead stop. I'll be able to move. Hell, I'll be able to fly.

One Foot In Front of the Other

It's me
I am up and I am moving. But every word that comes out of my mouth today is bitter, bitter, bitter. I don't want to give that space. I need to keep moving forward.

Unexamined Foundations

It's me
This bit is from George Ellis, who is a scientist:

Many scientists are strong reductionists who believe that physics alone determines outcomes in the real world, This is demonstrably untrue – for example the computer on which I am writing this could not possibly have come into being through the agency of physics alone.

The issue is that these scientists are focusing on some strands in the web of causation that actually exist, and ignoring others that are demonstrably there – such as ideas in our minds, or algorithms embodied in computer programs. These demonstrably act in a top-down way to cause physical effects in the real world. All these processes and actual outcomes are contextually dependent, and this allows the effectiveness of processes such as adaptive selection that are the key to the emergence of genuine complexity.

I read that this morning, and thought not only scientists do this. It's very easy to get locked into a certain perspective - a worldview that shapes everything you take in, perceive, think & subsequently act. That reductionist tendency? Makes coping possible. I'm not sure what it does for growth though - in one area, the area you concentrate on, obviously you should be able to go further, faster, etc. But what about all the other areas? Maybe not so much.


It's me

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