Boy is it Hard not to be Grouchy

baloney

So, we made it through the month, I have followed advice on Facebook and marched around my two room apartment like a F—ing Champion. I have kept some sour dough starter alive for two weeks, I have no idea what to do with it but it is alive and I have already made arrangements for it should I die…

There’s talk that enough is enough. Freedom and blah blah blah, lets get back to “normal”. Normal like baloney and American cheese!

Right so, Should I die? YOU TELL ME.

I am past my “best before date” and except for making a bunch of masks (by the way I have run out of t-shirts to re-purpose for ties) I am pretty useless… I am not THAT OLD, but I have had cancer twice, I have asthma after having bronchitis last winter and now use a puffer and I have a blood disorder that they haven’t figured out yet, so I am a pretty good candidate for not surviving if I get this Covid19.

Maybe you don’t like clowns?

Call me the Grouch

how to write a million dollar story

At one really difficult point in my life I read Cat’s Cradle. I fell in love with Vonnegut. He had characters that were people I had met, crazy people like the ones I grew up with. So after reading Cat’s Cradle I read everything he wrote. Then I read everything that Kilgore Trout wrote. Then I read other science fiction authors and even tried to write a bit.

He was a true human being. He is not unaware of the cruel, and stupid in humans, but he is himself neither cruel nor stupid. He lets us sigh as we acknowledge the damage we have done as a species and laugh at our own folly as we stumble towards kindness. And laugh.  And laugh.

Check out the Shapes of Stories a hilarious lecture on how to write a million dollar story: http://youtu.be/oP3c1h8v2ZQ
Dr. Suess made me want to read. Vonnegut made me want to write.

The Value of Letting Go

There is a difference between “JUST GET OVER IT!” and letting it go. It’s weird but one is a problem and the other is a strategy.

“Get over it!” is a very industrial revolution era type suggestion. This was a time when changes were brutal and corporal punishment was the way of the world. Any one who cared about you would caution you against any action you might take with the fire of injustice your belly.  After  all life was cheap, your life actually. Your only hope was to some how move on, get over it. This is a very toxic thing to have to do but probably not much worse than the air you had to breathe, the water you had to drink and the hunger and cold you had to endure.

“Get over it” was something I did hear often enough and young enough that I thought it had some validity. The trouble was there were too many indications that real justice could exist and maybe life wasn’t about just enduring shit. I was born in the 50’s, by the time I was an adult I didn’t believe it and  society didn’t either (although there are indications it has made some major losses in this area recently).

Next: Probably too many words about forgiveness

Forgiveness is central to the Christian faith. But so is hypocrisy and we have learned enough about that in the last century or so that the one thing that made forgiveness possible, namely faith is really hard to maintain, if not just plain crazy. When faith was strong and instead of streaming t.v. shows the only stories you had for entertainment were ones where faith conquered over the bad guys EVERY WEEK, I think people might have actually managed to believe in forgiveness. (Lets not hasten a return to the Dark Ages okay?)

I myself have never been good at forgiveness. Forgiveness arises when I am lost in the delusion that I am some sort of ENLIGHTENED SAINT floating in my PERSONAL NIRVANA. It can happen. I might believe I am actually forgiving someone until I wake up from my spiritual revelry and I find am still pissed off. That’s not to say that someone else can’t manage forgiveness*.

As for “crazy” some Christians might tell me it is my faith in science that is crazy. I’d say fair dignum.  I have actually had experience with how limited my understanding of science is and how weird my ideas are so I leave lots of room for possibility, and geez, won’t I look dumb on judgement day!**

But for most people Christianity just isn’t the Kool-aid that makes forgiveness possible any more, myself included.

So Finally “Letting It Go”

The advantage of Letting it Go is two fold. It doesn’t negate the injury you have suffered AND it doesn’t lead to you thinking you have a right to do something equally heinous to the person or persons who made you suffer.

Letting it go requires practice. All of the people who seemed to have the skill for moving past personal injury to address injustice had to work at it. So whatever it is you need to do to let go of the pain, you need to do it over and over. And OVER.

Every time the congealing of space around a thought or feeling arises come back to the breath, wiggle your toes and do your zen practice. You will eventually see this dense emotional state get thinner and more transparent and less of an affliction. It doesn’t mean you will lose your motivation to address injustice, but you won’t be suffering and communicating from a point of anger. Whether you call that “True Nature” or whatever it’s a lot like how it always is before a human gets messed up.

Life! Sheesh!

And you will have information that you can use to address social change and the strength to make real choices in your response to all the stupid stuff people do and say.

*obligatory disclaimer

**you had to be there

Writing

I have come to the conclusion that writing means pulling yourself up out of the rubble of your dreams of being a writer and just getting on with it, sometimes one painful word at a time. Hell, it’s just learning to push through fear and expectation on bad days, and on good days closing the door gently on them saying, “go on, I’ll join you later, I just have to finish this page…”

Grandchild

I feel so old
my skin hangs on dried bones,
the blush
on my younger face
I remember like a poem
And I have survived
and found a peace that I call home
though sometimes now, it feels like a prison.

I saw the moon in the sky this morning.
and it changed the tide.
like you it seemed to appear without warning
and like you, it changed my mind.
because Love is a catalist
not a cure.
It comes unexpectantly.
It makes us dare
the whirlwind.

So for you
I crack open and release
my fluttering heart
and
toss it in the sea,
and play in the breaking waves of your laughter,
and rest in eddies
of your sleeping breath.

Say my name!

rioonbook

I’m Rio, most of you know that already, but it wasn’t always the case, so I am very happy to see my name listed on this wonderful book. I am sorry that I was unwell and couldn’t attend the launch, but I am so proud to be included with these women, many of whom I met at Sister Writes. They inspired me to push beyond my comfort levels and share a bit of my history. And they continue to inspire me to write with their brilliance.

and of course the cover…

coverbook

Doing the Next Thing

I am in that weird place in life when I have lots of time to just observe things. I see when the wheel on the wagon is wobbling but it’s not my wagon.

Not any of it is my wagon.

I just try to appreciate every moment and applaud every success. “Yay!”

Crazy people, cruelty and all the other painful things humans can perpetuate on each other, hatred, confusion, obscuring the way forward; It is a crazy time. Maybe it is always a crazy time.

I find zazen, sitting staring at a blank wall excruciating, but preferable to action often because I don’t know what I can do in the face of so much suffering. I know I am probably getting my practice completely wrong. I imagine Bodhisattva cringing. I remember teachers telling me not to talk about my practice outside the Dokusan room…

The other day the bus was so full the driver told us to try to get on at the back door. It looked impossible and I was the last in line. All these backs towards me, every shade of skin a human can possess represented before me, me, covered in liver spots and freckles. For the doors to close, fat, thin, male, female, shy, brazen, tall, short, young, old, we had to smoosh together.

“Well, we are all good friends now!” Laughter and smiles, people looking over their shoulders at me in the crush, somehow making room for me where there was none.

That was enough.

It is never a personal Titanic on which we arrange the deck chairs.

Watching Comedians in Cars before falling asleep

Mario Joyner
Comedians in Cars

Sometimes I think the genius of the old Jerry Seinfeld show was how his character might think he gets the point better than his other co-characters but the actual point is usually completely missed by all of them. For me, often the whole point of the show was that awesome bass rift. Literally the cherry on the top of the situational sundae.
But I don’t know how much of any of that was actually Jerry Seinfeld. But supposedly on Comedians in Cars the guy really is actually Jerry Seinfeld. He likes to complain and he likes to talk about how he and the people he admires did it better than anyone else, namely comedy but occasionally there is a moment in Comedians with cars when the awesome bass rift should be present, when on some level your brain shifts and you go, “that is actually brilliant, I think my brain is developing.”
When I am tired but can’t go to bed because it is only 9pm I sometimes let The Netflix roll out one Comedian in a Car After Another ’till it asks me “Are you still there?”. Which seems nice, but The Netflix doesn’t leave room for any response other than “click” which is annoying because I think it is a question that requires a longer answer. AM I, am I really?
On this occasion the comedian was Mario-Joyner and it seems he and Jerry Seinfeld are good friends. Its like the going for coffee with friends who completely ignore you and never acknowledge you or apologize at the end for being rude, which is sort of every episode and the big joke might be that The Netflix is passing the cheque to us. But then it comes to this bit:
(First skip the crap about watermelon and black people pleeeeeease.) Around ten minutes in Mario talks about Sammy Davis Jr. and how he could do everything Jerry hits his usual note about specializing in comedy and comedy alone and why that is how a comedian gets better, or at least a seat in the car.

Mario-Joyner says:
“That’s your focus theory. (However) You can get good at anything you can get good at, it’s not one or the other…When you are focused on something you are focused, there is no other thing.”
And he, Jerry Seinfeld, the comedian he is says, “I’ll try to agree on that.”
It is funny because, whether it is just shtick or not we laugh because Jerry, being smart, has still missed the only point in the whole seventeen minutes that was worth hearing and we are sad, so existentially sad that we let out that ‘POP’ of laughter.
Awesome bass rift.
All these thoughts came into focus while watching this video, which was part of Sigrun’s post called, The world as a process of unfolding.

A Small Painting And Some Thoughts About Complaining* About Stuff

IMG_20190709_202213_297

I know I am running the danger of becoming another boring senior who uses a blog to go on about her grandchildren BUT I am actually going on about painting my granddaughter!

See?

I can’t afford to buy a lot of gifts but I have oodles of art supplies so I make a card instead of buying one whenever there is an important birthday. I think a 1st birthday is significant so here it is, complete with sparkles and sequins.

I have a hard time getting started on a painting and yet once i get going I really enjoy it.

It’s always nice when things work out.

But About Complaining About Stuff:

What I want, and how things are do not always agree. But there are so many things contributing to everyone’s inability to do “their absolute best” all the time, not the least of which is how they are treated by others. Paying attention includes sometimes just calming down, and appreciating that “when all is said and done” isn’t it great that we are alive, and at the same place, at the same time?

I guess that’s why I like babies. They’re like (the best) tourists, happy to be here even if they are occasionally confused or uncomfortable, just enjoying the ride.

I mean, air conditioned buses? Whenever they show up, they are wonderful! I can ride one to a library and use the WiFi, watch a movie or show or do research, even have a nap and escape the heat, with my grandchildren!

See how I did that?

*this is not referring to actually speaking out where to not do so would mean doing harm.